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 16 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 16 of 40)
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as the druggist's craft ?

* i.e. Beautiful as the fairy damsels who guard enchanted treasures, such as that of
Al-Shamardal (vol. vi. 22i).

148 Alf Laylah wa Laylah,

her handmaid, "Get thee down, O Makbulah, and kiss the hand of
Shaykh Abu Alf, the porter, and say to him : Let yonder
Religious enter to my lady, so haply she may get a blessing of
her." So she went down to the porter and kissing his hand, said
to him, " My mistress telleth thee : Let yonder pious old woman
come in to me, so may I get a blessing of her ; and belike her

benediction may extend to us likewise." And Shahrazad

perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted

^oto fofjen it foas tfje Sfceton

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the
handmaid went down and said to the porter, "Suffer yonder
Religious enter to my lady so haply she may get a blessing of
her, and we too may be blessed, one and all," the gate-keeper
went up to Dalilah and kissed her hand, but she forbade him,
saying, " Away from me, lest my ablution be made null and
void. 1 Thou, also, art of the attracted God-wards and kindly
looked upon by Allah's Saints and under His especial guardian-
ship. May He deliver thee from this servitude, O Abu Ali ! "
Now the JEmir owed three months' wage to the porter who was
straitened thereby, but knew not how to recover his due from his
lord ; so he said to the old woman, " O my mother, give me to
drink from thy pitcher, so I may win a blessing through thee."
She took the ewer from her shoulder and whirled it about in air,
so that the plug flew out of its mouth and the three dinars fell to
the ground. The porter saw them and picked them up, saying in
his mind, "Glory to God ! This old woman is one of the Saints that
have hoards at their command ! It hath been revealed to her of
me that I am in want of money for daily expenses ; so she hath
conjured me these three dinars out of the air." Then said he to
her, " Take, O my aunt, these three dinars which fell from thy
pitcher ; " and she replied, " Away with them from me ! I am of
the folk who occupy not themselves with the things of the world,
no never ! Take them and use them for thine own benefit, in
lieu of those the Emir oweth thee." Quoth he, " Thanks to Allah

1 /.#. by contact with a person in a state of ceremonial impurity ; servants are not
particular upon this point and " Salat mamlukiyah" (Mameluke's prayers) means
praying without ablution.

The Rogueries of Dalilah and her Daughter Zaynab. 149

for succour ! This is of the chapter of revelation ! " Thereupon
the maid accosted her and kissing her hand, carried her up to her
mistress. She found the lady as she were a treasure, whose
guardian talisman had been loosed ; and Khatun bade her
welcome and kissed her hand. Quoth she, " O my daughter, I
come not to thee save for thy weal and by Allah's will." Then
Khatun set food before her ; but she said, " O my daughter, I eat
naught except of the food of Paradise and I keep continual fast
breaking it but five days in the year. But, O my child, I see thee
chagrined and desire that thou tell me the cause of thy concern."
" O my mother," replied Khatun, " I made my husband swear,
on my wedding-night, that he would wive none but me, and he saw
others with children and longed for them and said to me : Thou art
a barren thing ! . I answered : Thou art a mule which begetteth
not ; so he left me in anger, saying, When I come back from my
journey, I will take another wife, for he hath villages and lands
and large allowances, and if he begat children by another, they
will possess the money and take the estates from me.'* Said
Dalilah, O my daughter, knowest thou not of my master, the
Shaykh Abu al-Hamlat, 1 whom if any debtor visit, Allah
quitteth him his debt, and if a barren woman, she conceiveth ? "
Khatun replied, " O my mother, since the day of my wedding I
have not gone forth the house, no, not even to pay visits of
condolence or congratulation." The old woman rejoined, " O my
child, I will carry thee to him and do thou cast thy burden on
him and make a vow to him : haply when thy husband shall
return from his journey and lie with thee thou shalt conceive by
him and bear a girl or a boy : but, be it female or male, it shall
be a dervish of the Shaykh Abu al-Hamlat." Thereupon Khatun
rose and arrayed herself in her richest raiment, and donning all
her jewellery said, " Keep thou an eye on the house," to her
maid, who replied, " I hear and obey, O my lady." Then she
went down and the porter Abu AH met her and asked her,
" Whither away, O my lady ?" "I go to visit the Shaykh Abu
al-Hamlat ; " answered she ; and he, *' Be a year's fast incumbent
on me ! Verily yon Religious is of Allah's saints and full of
holiness, O my lady, and she hath hidden treasure at her
command, for she gave me three dinars of red gold and divined
my case, without my asking her, and knew that I was in want."

1 i.e. Father of assaults, burdens or pregnancies ; the last being here the meaning.

150 Alf Laylah wa Laylah.

Then the old woman went out with the young lady Khatun,
saying to her, " Inshallah, O my daughter, when thou hast visited
the Shaykh Abu al-Hamlat, there shall betide thee solace of soul
and by leave of Almighty Allah thou shalt conceive, and thy
husband the Emir shall love thee by the blessing of the Shaykh
and shall never again let thee hear a despiteful -word." Quoth
Khatun, " I will go with thee to visit him, O my mother ! " But
Dalilah said to herself, " Where shall I strip her and take her
clothes and jewellery, with the folk coming and going ? " Then
she said to her, " O my daughter, walk thou behind me, within
sight of me, for this thy mother is a woman sorely burdened ;
everyone who hath a burden casteth it on me and all who have
pious offerings 1 to make give them to me and kiss my hand."
So the young lady followed her at a distance, whilst her anklets
tinkled and her hair-coins 2 clinked as she went, till they reached the
bazar of the merchants. Presently, they came to the shop of a
young merchant, by name Sidi Hasan who was very handsome*
and had no hair on his face. He saw the lady approaching and
fell to casting stolen glances at her, which when the old woman
saw, she beckoned to her and said, " Sit down in this shop,
till I return to thee." Khatun obeyed her and sat down in the
shop-front of the young merchant, who cast at her one glance of
eyes that cost him a thousand sighs. Then the old woman
accosted him and saluted him, saying, "Tell me, is not thy
name Sidi Hasan, son of the merchant Mohsin ? " He replied,
" Yes, who told thee my name ? " Quoth she, " Folk of good
repute direct me to thee. Know that this young lady is my
daughter and her father was a merchant, who died and left her
much money. She is come of marriageable age and the wise
say : Offer thy daughter in marriage and not thy son ; and all
her life she hath not come forth the house till this day. Now a
divine warning and a command given in secret bid me wed her
to thee ; so, if thou art poor, I will give thee capital and will
open for thee instead of one shop two shops. Thereupon quoth
the young merchant to himself, " I asked Allah for a bride, and

1 Ex votes and so forth.

* Arab. " Iksah," plaits, braids, also the little gold coins and other ornaments worn
in the hair, now mostly by the middle and lower classes. Low Europeans sometimes
take advantage of the native prostitutes by detaching these valuables, a form of " bilkin? "
peculiar to the Nile- Valley.

1 In Bresl. Edit. Mah'h Kawf (pron. 'Awi), a Cairene vulgarism.

The Rogueries of Dalilah and her Daughter Zaynab. 1 5 1

He hath given me three things, to wit, coin, clothing, and coynte."
Then he continued to the old trot, "O my mother, that where-
to thou directest me is well ; but this long while my mother
saith to me : I wish to marry thee, but I object replying, I will
not marry except on the sight of my own eyes." Said Dalilah,
" Rise and follow my steps, and I will show her to thee, naked." 1
So he rose and took a thousand dinars, saying in himself,

*' Haply we may need to buy somewhat And Shahrazad

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

fojien (t foas tfje &bm f^un&teU anfc jptrst

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the
old woman said to Hasan, son of Mohsin the merchant, " Rise
up and follow me, and I will show her naked to thee." So he
rose and took with him a thousand dinars, saying in himself,
" Haply we may need to buy somewhat or pay the fees for
drawing up the marriage contract." The old woman bade him
walk behind the young lady at a distance but within shot of sight
and said to herself, " Where wilt thou carry the young lady and
the merchant that thou mayest strip them both whilst his shop
is still shut ? " Then she walked on and Khatun after her,
followed by the young merchant, till she came to a dyery, kept
by a master dyer, by name Hajj Mohammed, a man of ill-repute ;
like the colocasia 2 seller's knife cutting male and female, and
loving to eat both figs and pomegranates. 3 He heard the tinkle of
the ankle rings and, raising his head, saw the lady and the young
man. Presently the old woman came up to him and, after
salaming to him and sitting down opposite him, asked him, " Art
thou not Hajj Mohammed the dyer ? " He answered, "Yes, I am
he : what dost thou want ? " Quoth she, " Verily, folks of fair
repute have directed me to thee. Look at yonder handsome girl,
my daughter, and that comely beardless youth, my son ; I brought
them both up and spent much money on both of them. Now,
thou must know that I have a big old ruinous house which I have

1 Meaning without veil or upper clothing.

2 Arab. " Kallalds " the edible African arum before explained. This Colocasia
is supposed to bear, unlike the palm, male and female flowers in one spathe.

3 See vol. iii. 302. The figs refer to the anus and the pomgranates, like the sycomore,
lo the female parts. Me nee faemina nee puer, &c., says Horace in pensive mood

152 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

shored up with wood, and the builder saith to me : Go and
live in some other place, lest belike it fall upon thee ; and when
this is repaired return hither. So I went forth to seek me a
lodging, and people of worth directed me to thee, and I wish to
lodge my son and daughter with thee." Quoth the dyer in his
mind, " Verily, here is fresh butter upon cake come to thee." But
he said to the old woman, " 'Tis true I have a house and saloon
and upper floor ; but I cannot spare any part thereof, for I want it
all for guests and for the indigo-growers my clients." She replied,
" O my son, 'twill be only for a month or two at the most, till our
house be repaired, and we are strange folk. Let the guest-chamber
be shared between us and thee, and by thy life, O my son, an thou
desire that thy guests be ours, we will welcome them and eat with
them and sleep with them." Then he gave her the keys, one big
and one small and one crooked, saying to her, " The big key is
that of the house, the crooked one that of the saloon and the little
one that of the upper floor." So Dalilah took the keys and fared
on, followed by the lady who forwent the young merchant, till
she came to the lane wherein was the house. She opened the
door and entered, introducing the damsel to whom said she, " O
my daughter, this (pointing to the saloon) is the lodging of the
Shaykh Abu al-Hamlat ; but go thou into the upper floor and
loose thy outer veil and wait till I come to thee." So she went
up and sat down. Presently appeared the young merchant, whom
Dalilah carried into the saloon, saying, " Sit down, whilst I fetch
my daughter and show her to thee." So he sat down and the old
trot went up to Khatun who said to her, " I wish to visit the
Shaykh, before the folk come." Replied the beldame, "O my
daughter, we fear for thee.'* Asked Khatun, " Why so ? " and
Dalilah answered, " Because here is a son of mine, a natural who
knoweth not summer from winter, but goeth ever naked. He is
the Shaykh's deputy and, if he saw a girl like thee come to visit
his chief, he would snatch her earrings and tear her ears and rend
her silken robes. 1 So do thou doff thy jewellery and clothes and
I will keep them for thee, till thou hast made thy pious visitation."
Accordingly the damsel did off her outer dress and jewels and
gave them to the old woman, who said, " I will lay them for thee

1 It is in accordance to custom that the Shaykh be attended by a half-witted fanatic
who would be made furious by seeing gold and silks in the reverend presence so coyly

The Rogueries of Dalilah and her Daughter Z ay nab. 153

'on the Shaykh's curtain, that a blessing may betide thee." Then
she went out, leaving the lady in her shift and petticoat-trousers,
and hid the clothes and jewels in a place on the staircase ; after
v/hich she betook herself to the young merchant, whom she found
impatiently awaiting the girl, and he cried, " Where is thy
daughter, that I may see her?" But she smote palm on breast
and he said, " What aileth thee ? " Quoth she, " Would there
were no such thing as the ill neighbour and the envious ! They
saw thee enter the house with me and asked me of thee ; and I
said : This is a bridegroom I have found for my daughter. So
they envied me on thine account and said to my girl, Is thy mother
tired of keeping thee, that she marrieth thee to a leper ? There-
upon I swore to her that she should not see thee save naked."
Quoth he, " I take refuge with Allah from the envious," and baring
his fore-arm, showed her that it was like silver. Said she, " Have
no fear ; thou shalt see her naked, even as she shall see thee
naked ; " and he said, " Let her come and look at me." Then he
put off his pelisse and sables and his girdle and dagger and the
rest of his raiment, except his shirt and bag-trousers, and would
have laid the purse of a thousand dinars with them, but Dalilah
cried, " Give them to me, that I may take care of them." So she
took them and fetching the girl's clothes and jewellery shouldered
the whole and locking the door upon them went her ways. - And
Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her
permitted say.

Jioto tofjen ft toas tije &eton f^urrtfrrtr anto &Econfc Ntgfjt,

She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when
the old woman had taken the property of the young merchant and
the damsel and wended her ways, having locked the door upon
them, she deposited her spoils with a druggist of her acquaintance
and returned to the dyer, whom she found sitting, awaiting her.
Quoth he, " Inshallah, the house pleaseth thee ? "j and quoth she,
" There is a blessing in it ; and I go now to fetch porters to carry
hither our goods and furniture. But my children would have me
bring them a panade with meat ; so do thou take this dinar and
buy the dish and go and eat the morning meal with them." Asked
the dyer, " Who shall guard the dyery meanwhile and the people's
goods that be therein ? "; and the old woman answered, " Thy
lad ! " " So be it," rejoined he, and taking a dish and cover, went

154 Alf Laylah wa Laylah.

out to do her bidding. So far concerning the dyer who will again
be mentioned in the tale; but as regards the old woman, she
fetched the clothes and jewels she had left with the druggist and
going back to the dyery, said to the lad, " Run after thy master,
and I will not stir hence till you both return." " To hear is to
obey/' answered he and went away, while she began to collect all
the customers' goods. Presently, there came up an ass-driver, a
scavenger, who had been out of work for a week and who was an
Hashfsh-eater to boot ; and she called him, saying, " Hither, O
donkey-boy ! " So he came to her and she asked, " Knowest thou
my son the dyer ? "; whereto he answered, " Yes, I know him."
Then she said, " The poor fellow is insolvent and loaded with
debts, and as often as he is put in prison, I set him free, Now
we wish to see him declared bankrupt and I am going to return
the goods to their owners ; so do thou lend me thine ass to carry
the load and receive this dinar to its hire. When I am gone, take
the handsaw and empty out the vats and jars and break them, so
that if there come an officer from the Kami's court, he may find
nothing in the dyery." Quoth he, " I owe the Hajj a kindness
and will do something for Allah's love." So she laid the things
on the ass and, the Protector protecting her, made for her own
house ; so that she arrived there in safety and went in to her
daughter Zaynab, who said to her, " O my mother, my heart hath
been with thee ! What hast thou done by way of roguery ? "
Dalilah replied, " I have played off four tricks on four wights ; the
wife of the Serjeant-usher, a young merchant, a dyer and an ass-
driver, and have brought thee all their spoil on the donkey-boy's
beast." Cried Zaynab, " O my mother, thou wilt never more be
able to go about the town, for fear of the Serjeant-usher, whose
wife's raiment and jewellery thou hast taken, and the merchant
whom thou hast stripped naked, and the dyer whose customers'
goods thou hast stolen and the owner of the ass." Rejoined the
old woman, " Pooh, my girl ! I reck not of them, save the donkey-
boy, who knoweth me." Meanwhile the dyer bought the meat-
panade and set out for the house, followed by his servant with the
food on head. On his way thither, he passed his shop, where he
found the donkey-boy breaking the vats and jars and saw that
there was neither stuff nor liquor left in them and that the dyery
was in ruins. So he said to him, " Hold thy hand, O ass-driver ; "
and the donkey-boy desisted and cried, " Praised be Allah for thy
safety, O master ! Verily my heart was with thee." " Why so ? "

The Rogueries of Dalilah and her Daughter Z ay nab. 155

41 Thou art become bankrupt and they have filed a docket of thine
insolvency." " Who told thee ? " " Thy mother told me, and
bade me break the jars and empty the vats, that the Kazi's officers
might find nothing in the shop, if they should come." " Allah
confound the far One ! " * cried the dyer ; " My mother died long
ago." And he beat his breast, exclaiming, " Alas, for the loss of
my goods and those of the folk ! " The donkey-boy also wept
and ejaculated, " Alas, for the loss of my ass ! "; and he said to
the dyer, " Give me back my beast which thy mother stole from
me." The dyer laid hold of him by the throat and fell to buffeting
him, saying, " Bring me the old woman ;" whilst the other buffeted
him in return saying, " Give me back my beast." So they beat

and cursed each other, till the folk collected around them And

Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her
permitted say.

Xofo fo&en ft foas tf>e Seten f^wtofc atrtr

She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the
dyer caught hold of the donkey-boy and the donkey-boy caught
hold of the dyer and they beat and cursed each other till the folk
collected round them and one of them asked, " What is the matter,
O Master Mohammed ? " The ass-driver answered, " I will tell
thee the tale," and related to them his story, saying, I deemed I
was doing the dyer a good turn ; but, when he saw me he beat his
breast and said, My mother is dead. And now, I for one require
my ass of him, it being he who hath put this trick on me, that he
might make me lose my beast." Then said the folk to the dyer,
" O Master Mohammed, dost thou know this matron, that thou
didst entrust her with the dyery and all therein ? '* And he
replied, " I know her not ; but she took lodgings with me to-day^
she and her son and daughter." Quoth one, " In my judgment,
the dyer is bound to indemnify the ass-driver." Quoth another,
" Why so ? " " Because," replied the first, " he trusted not the old
woman nor gave her his ass save only because he saw that the
dyer had entrusted her with the dyery and its contents." And a
third said, " O master, since thou hast lodged her with thee, it
behoveth thee to get the man back his ass." Then they made for

1 In English, "God damn everything an inch high ! "

1 56 Alf Laylah wa Laylah.

the house, and the tale will come round to them again. Mean-
while, the young merchant remained awaiting the old woman's
coming with her daughter, but she came not nor did her daughter ;
whilst the young lady in like manner sat expecting her return
with leave from her son, the God-attended one, the Shaykh's
deputy, to go in to the holy presence. So weary of waiting, she
rose to visit the Shaykh by herself and went down into the saloon,
where she found the young merchant, who said to her, " Come
hither ! where is thy mother, who brought me to marry thee ? "
She replied, " My mother is dead, art thou the old woman's son,
the ecstatic, the deputy of the Shaykh Abu al-Hamlat ? " Quoth
he, " The swindling old trot is no mother of mine ; she hath
cheated me and taken my clothes and a thousand dinars." Quoth
Khatun, " And me also hath she swindled for she brought me to
see the Shaykh Abu al-Hamlat and in lieu of so doing she hath
stripped me." Thereupon he, " I look to thee to make good my
clothes and ray thousand dinars ;" and she, " I look to thee to
make good my clothes and jewellery." And, behold, at this
moment in came the dyer and seeing them both stripped of their
raiment, said to them, " Tell me where your mother is." So the
young lady related all that had befallen her and the young
merchant related all that had betided him, and the Master-dyer
exclaimed, " Alas, for the loss of my goods and those of the folk ! ";
and the ass-driver ejaculated, " Alas, for my ass ! Give me, O
dyer, my ass ! " Then said the dyer, " This old woman is a
sharper. Come forth, that I may lock the door." Quoth the
young merchant, " 'Twere a disgrace to thee that we should enter
thy house dressed and go forth from it undressed." So the dyer
clad him and the damsel and sent her back to her house where we
shall find her after the return of her husband. Then he shut the
dyery and said to the young merchant, " Come, let us go and
search for the old woman and hand her over to the Wali, 1 the
Chief of Police." So they and the ass-man repaired to the house
of the master of police and made their complaint to him. Quoth

1 Burckhardt notes that the Wali, or chief police officer at Cairo, was exclusively
termed Al-Agha and quotes the proverb (No. 156) " One night the whore repented and
cried: What! no Wali (Al-Agha) to lay whores by the heels?" Some of these
Egyptian by-words are most amusing and characteristic ; but they require literal trans-
lation, not the timid touch of the last generation. I am preparing, for the use of my
friend, Bernard Quaritch, a bona fide version which awaits only the promised volume of
Herr Landberg.

'the Rogueries of Dalilah and her Daughter Zaynab. 157

he, M O folk, what want ye ? " and when they told him he rejoined,
" How many old women are there not in the town ! Go ye and
seek for her and lay hands on her and bring her to me, and I will
torture her for you and make her confess." So they sought for
her all round the town ; and an account of them will presently be
given. 1 As for old Dalilah the Wily, she said, " I have a mind to
play off another trick," to her daughter who answered, " O my
mother, I fear for thee ;" but the beldam cried, " I am like the bean
husks which fall, proof against fire and water." So she rose, and
donning a slave-girl's dress of such as serve people of condition,
went out to look for some one to defraud. Presently she came to
a by-street, spread with carpets and lighted with hanging lamps,
and heard a noise of singing-women and drumming of tambourines.
Here she saw a handmaid bearing on her shoulder a boy, clad in
trousers laced with silver and a little Abd-cloak of velvet, with a
pearl embroidered Tarbush-cap on his head, and about his neck a
collar of gold set with jewels. Now the house belonged to the
Provost of the Merchants of Baghdad, and the boy was his son.
He had a virgin daughter, to boot, who was promised in marriage,
and it was her betrothal they were celebrating that day. There
was with her mother a company of noble dames and singing-
women, and whenever she went upstairs or down, the boy clung
to her. So she called the slave-girl and said to her, " Take thy
young master and play with him, till the company break up."
Seeing this, Dalilah asked the handmaid, " What festivities are
these in your mistress's house ;" and was answered " She celebrates
her daughter's betrothal this day, and she hath singing-women

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 16 of 40)