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 17 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 17 of 40)
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with her." Quoth the old woman to herself, "O Dalilah, the
thing to do is to spirit away this boy from the maid," And
Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her
permitted say.

Note fo&cn it foas flje &ebm ^un&trtr an* Jouttf)

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the
old trot said to herself, " O Dalilah, the thing to do is to spirit
away this boy from the maid ! " she began crying out, " O

1 Lit. for "we leave them for the present": the formula is much used in this tale,
bowing another hand, author or copyist.

1 58 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

disgrace ! O ill luck ! " Then pulling out a brass token, resem-
bling a dinar, she said to the maid, who was a simpleton, " Take
this ducat and go in to thy mistress and say to her : Umm
al-Khayr rejoiceth with thee and is beholden to thee for thy
favours, and on the day of assembly she and her daughters will
visit thee and handsel the tiring-women with the usual gifts."
Said the girl, " O my mother, my young master here catcheth hold
of his mamma, whenever he seeth her ;" and she replied " Give
him to me, whilst thou goest in and comest back." So she gave
her the child and taking the token, went in ; whereupon Dalilah
made off with the boy to a by-lane, where she stripped him of his
clothes and jewels, saying to herself, " O Dalilah, 'twould indeed
be the finest of tricks, even as thou hast cheated the maid and
taken the boy from her, so now to carry on the game and pawn
him for a thousand dinars. So she repaired to the jewel-bazar,
where she saw a Jew goldsmith seated with a cage full of jewellery
before him, and said to herself, " 'Twould be a rare trick to
chouse this Jew fellow and get a thousand gold pieces worth of
jewellery from him and leave the boy in pledge for it." Presently
the Jew looked at them and seeing the boy with the old woman,
knew him for the son of the Provost of the Merchants. Now the
Israelite was a man of great wealth, but would envy his neighbour
if he sold and himself did not sell ; so espying Dalilah, he said to
her, " What seekest thou, O my mistress ? " She asked, " Art
thou Master Azariah ' the Jew ? " having first enquired his name
of others; and he answered, "Yes." Quoth she, "This boy's
sister, daughter of the Shahbandar of the Merchants, is a promised
bride, and to-day they celebrate her betrothal ; and she hath need
of jewellery. So give me two pair of gold ankle-rings, a brace of
gold bracelets, and pearl ear-drops, with a girdle, a poignard and
a seal-ring." He brought them out and she took of him a thousand
dinars' worth of jewellery, saying, " I will take these ornaments on
approval ; and whatso pleaseth them, they will keep and I will
bring thee the price and leave this boy with thee till then." He
said, " Be it as thou wilt ! " So she took the jewellery and made
off to her own house, where her daughter asked her how the trick
had sped. She told her how she had taken and stripped the
Shahbandar's boy, and Zaynab said, " Thou wilt never be able to
walk abroad again in the town." Meanwhile, the maid went in

1 Arab. " Uzrah."

The Rogueries of Dalilah and her Daughter Zaynab. 1 59

to her mistress and said to her, "O my lady, Umm al-Khayr
saluteth thee and rejoiceth with thee and on assembly-day she
will come, she and her daughters, and give the customary pre-
sents." Quoth her mistress, "Where is thy young master?"
Quoth the slave-girl, "I left him with her lest he cling to thee,
and she gave me this, as largesse for the singing-women." So
the lady said to the chief of the singers, " Take thy money ; " and
she took it and found it a brass counter ; whereupon the lady cried
to the maid, " Get thee down, O whore, and look to thy young
master." Accordingly, she went down and finding neither boy
nor old woman, shrieked aloud and fell on her face. Their joy
was changed into annoy, and behold, the Provost came in, when his
wife told him all that had befallen and he went out in quest of the
child, whilst the other merchants also fared forth and each sought
his own road. Presently, the Shahbandar, who had looked every-
where, espied his son seated, naked, in the Jew's shop and said to
the owner, " This is my son." " 'Tis well," answered the Jew. So
he took him up, without asking for his clothes, of the excess of his
joy at finding him ; but the Jew laid hold of him, saying, "Allah
succour the Caliph against thee ! " 1 The Provost asked, " What
aileth thee, O Jew ? " ; and he answered, " Verily the old woman
took of me a thousand dinars' worth of jewellery for thy daughter,
and left this lad in pledge for the price ; and I had not trusted
her, but that she offered to leave the child whom I knew for thy
son." Said the Provost, " My daughter needeth no jewellery, give
me the boy's clothes." Thereupon the Jew shrieked out, " Come
to my aid, O Moslems ! " but at that moment up came the dyer
and the ass-man and the young merchant, who were going about,
seeking the old woman, and enquired the cause of their jangle.
So they told them the case and they said, " This old woman is a
cheat, who hath cheated us before you." Then they recounted to
them how she had dealt with them, and the Provost said, " Since
I have found my son, be his clothes his ransom ! If I come upon
the old woman, I will require them of her." And he carried the
child home to his mother, who rejoiced in his safety. Then the
Jew said to the three others, "Whither go ye?"; and they
answered, " We go to look for her." Quoth the Jew, " Take me
with you," presently adding, " Is there any one of you knoweth
her ? " The donkey-boy cried, " I know her ; " and the Jew said,

1 i.e. " Thou art unjust -end violent enough to wrong even the Caliph ! '

160 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

" If we all go forth together, we shall never catch her; for she will
flee from us. Let each take a different road, and be our rendez-
vous at the shop of Hajj Mas'ud, the Moorish barber." They
agreed to this and set off, each in a different direction. Presently,
Dalilah sallied forth again to play her tricks and the ass-driver
met her and knew her. So he caught hold of her and said to
her, " Woe to thee ! Hast thou been long at this trade ? " She
asked, " What aileth thee ? " ; and he answered, " Give me back
my ass." Quoth she, " Cover what Allah covereth, O my son !
Dost thou seek thine ass and the people's things?" Quoth he,
" I want my ass ; that's all ; " and quoth she, " I saw that thou
wast poor: so I deposited thine ass for thee with the Moorish
barber. Stand off, whilst I speak him fair, that he may give thee
the beast." So she went up to the Maghrabi and kissed his hand
and shed tears. He asked her what ailed her and she said, " O
my son, look at my boy who standeth yonder. He was ill and
exposed himself to the air, which injured his intellect. He used
to buy asses and now, if he stand he saith nothing but, My ass !
if he sit he crieth, My ass ! and if he walk he crieth, My ass !
Now I have been told by a certain physician that his mind is
disordered and that nothing will cure him but drawing two of his
grinders and cauterising him twice on either temple. So do thou
take this dinar and call him to thee, saying : Thine ass is with
me." Said the barber, " May I fast for a year, if I do not give him
his ass in his fist ! " Now he had with him two journeymen, so he
said to one of them, " Go, heat the irons." Then the old woman
went her way and the barber called to the donkey-boy, 1 saying,
" Thine ass is with me, good fellow ! come and take him, and as
thou livest, I will give him into thy palm." So he came to him
and the barber carried him into a dark room, where he knocked
him down and the journeymen bound him hand and foot. Then
the Maghrabi arose and pulled out two of his grinders and fired
him on either temple ; after which he let him go, and he rose and
said, " O Moor, why hast thou used me with this usage ? " Quoth
the barber, " Thy mother told me that thou hadst taken cold whilst
ill, and hadst lost thy reason, so that, whether sitting or standing
or walking, thou wouldst say nothing but My ass ! So here is
thine ass in thy fist." Said the other, " Allah requite thee for
pulling out my teeth." Then the barber told him all that the old

1 1 may note that a " donkey-boy " like our "post-boy " can be of any age in Egypt.

The Rogueries of Dalilah and her Daughter Z ay nab. 161

woman had related and he exclaimed, " Allah torment her ! " ; and
the twain left the shop and went out, disputing. When the barber
returned, he found his booth empty, for, whilst he was absent, the
old woman had taken all that was therein and made off with it to
her daughter, whom she acquainted with all that had befallen and
all she had done. The barber, seeing his place plundered, caught
hold of the donkey-boy and said to him, " Bring me thy mother."
But he answered, saying, " She is not my mother; she is a sharper
who hath cozened much people and stolen my ass." And lo ! at
this moment up came the dyer and the Jew and the young
merchant, and seeing the Moorish barber holding on to the ass-
driver who was fired on both temples, they said to him, " What
hath befallen thee, O donkey-boy?" So he told them all that
had betided him and the barber did the like ; and the others in
turn related to the Moor the tricks the old woman had played
them. Then he shut up his shop and went with them to the
office of the Police-master to whom they said, "We look to
thee for our case and our coin." l Quoth the Wali, " And how
many old women are there not in Baghdad ! Say me, doth any
of you know her ? " Quoth the ass-man, "I do ; so give me ten
of thine officers." He gave them half a score archers and they
all five went out, followed by the sergeants, and patrolled the
city, till they met the old woman, when they laid hands on her
and carrying her to the house of the Chief of Police, stood waiting
under his office windows till he should come forth. Presently,
the warders fell asleep, for excess of watching with their chief,
and old Dalilah feigned to follow their example, till the ass-man
and his fellows slept likewise, when she stole away from them
and, going in to the Wali's Harim, kissed the hand of the mistress
of the house and asked her "Where is the Chief of Police?"
The lady answered, " He is asleep ; what wouldst thou with
him ? " Quoth Dalilah, " My husband is a merchant of chattels
and gave me five Mamelukes to sell, whilst he went on a journey.
The Master of Police met me and bought them of me for a
thousand dinars and two hundred for myself, saying : Bring

them to my house. So I have brought them." And Shah-

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

1 They could legally demand to be recouped but the chief would have found some
pretext to put off payment. Such at least is the leeal process of these days.


1 62 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

Koto to&m it foas tfce &ebm f^untjretJ an* Jpiftf)

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the
old woman, entering the Harim of the Police-Master, said to his
wife, " Verily the Wali bought of me five slaves for one thousand
ducats and two hundred for myself, saying : Bring them to my
quarters. So I have brought them." Hearing the old woman's
story she believed it and asked her, " Where are the slaves ? "
Dalilah replied, " O my lady, they are asleep under the palace
window "; whereupon the dame looked out and seeing the Moorish
barber clad in a Mameluke habit and the young merchant as he
were a drunken Mameluke * and the Jew and the dyer and th6 ass-
driver as they were shaven Mamelukes, said in herself, " Each of
these white slaves is worth more than a thousand dinars." So she
opened her chest and gave the old woman the thousand ducats,
saying, " Fare thee forth now and come back anon ; when my
husband waketh, I will get thee the other two hundred dinars from
him." Answered the old woman, " O my lady, an hundred of them
are thine, under the sherbet-gugglet whereof thou drinkest, 2 and
the other hundred do thou keep for me against I come back,'*
presently adding, " Now let me out by the private door." So she
let her out, and the Protector protected her and she made her way
home to her daughter, to whom she related how she had gotten a
thousand gold pieces and sold her five pursuers into slavery,
ending with, " O my daughter, the one who troubleth me most is
the ass-driver, for he knoweth me." Said Zaynab, " O my mother,
abide quiet awhile and let what thou hast done suffice thee, for the
crock shall not always escape the shock." When the Chief of
Police awoke, his wife said to him, " I give thee joy of the five
slaves thou hast bought of the old woman." Asked he, "What
slaves?" And she answered, " Why dost thou deny it to me?
Allah willing, they shall become like thee people of condition."
Quoth he, " As my head liveth, I have bought no slaves ! Who
saith this ? " Quoth she, " The old woman, the brokeress, from

1 i.e. drunk with the excess of his beauty.

* A delicate way of offering a fee. When officers commanding regiments in India
contracted for clothing the men, they found these douceurs under their dinner-napkins.
All that is now changed ; but I doubt the change being an improvement : the public
is plundered by a " Board " instead of an individual.

The Rogueries of Dalilah and hey Daughter Z ay nab. 163

whom thou boughtest them ; and thou didst promise her a
thousand dinars for them and two hundred for herself." Cried
he, " Didst thou give her the money ? " And she replied, " Yes ;
for I saw the slaves with my own eyes, and on each is a suit of
clothes worth a thousand dinars ; so I sent out to bid the sergeants
have an eye to them." The Wali went out and, seeing the five
plaintiffs, said to the officers, " Where are the five slaves we bought
for a thousand dinars of the old woman?" Said they, "There
are no slaves here ; only these five men, who found the old woman,
and seized her and brought her hither. We fell asleep, whilst
waiting for thee, and she stole away and entered the Harim.
Presently out came a maid and asked us : Are the five with you
with whom the old woman came ? "; and we answered, " Yes."
Cried the Master of Police, " By Allah, this is the biggest of
swindles ! "; and the five men said, *' We look to thee for our
goods." Quoth the Wali, " The old woman, your mistress, sold
you to me for a thousand gold pieces." Quoth they, " That were
not allowed of Allah ; we are free-born men and may not be
sold, and we appeal from thee to the Caliph." Rejoined the Master
of Police," None showed her the way to the house save you, and I
will sell you to the galleys for two hundred dinars apiece." Just
then, behold, up came the Emir Hasan Sharr al-Tarik who, on his
return from his journey,' had found his wife stripped of her clothes
and jewellery and heard from her all that had passed ; whereupon
quoth he, " The Master of Police shall answer me this " and
repairing to him, said, " Dost thou suffer old women to go round
about the town and cozen folk of their goods ? This is thy duty
and I look to thee for my wife's property." Then said he to the
five men, " What is the case with you ? " So they told him their
stories and he said, "Ye are wronged men," and turning to the
Master of Police, asked him, " Why dost thou arrest them ? "
Answered he, " None brought the old wretch to my house save
these five, so that she took a thousand dinars of my money and
sold them to my women." Whereupon the five cried, " O Emir
Hasan, be thou our advocate in this cause." Then said the Master
of Police to the Emir, " Thy wife's goods are at my charge and I
will be surety for the old woman. But which of you knoweth
her ? " They cried, " We all know her : send ten apparitors with
us, and we will take her." So he gave them ten men, and the ass-
driver said to them, " Follow me, for I should know her with blue

1 64 A If Laylah wa Laylak.

eyes." 1 Then they fared forth and lo! they meet old Dalilah
coming out of a by-street : so they at once laid hands on her and
brought her to the office of the Wali who asked her, " Where are
the people's goods ? " But she answered, saying, " I have neither
gotten them nor seen them." Then he cried to the gaoler, " Take
her with theeand clap her in gaol till the morning ; but he replied,
" I will not take her nor will I imprison her lest she play a trick
on me and I be answerable for her." So the Master of Police
mounted and rode out with Dalilah and the rest to the bank of the
Tigris, where he bade the lamp-lighter crucify her by her hair.
He drew her up by the pulley and bound her on the cross ; after
which the Master of Police set ten men to guard her and went
home. Presently, the night fell down and sleep overcame the
watchmen. Now a certain Badawi had heard one man say to a
friend, " Praise be to Allah for thy safe return ! Where hast thou
been all this time ? " Replied the other, " In Baghdad where I
broke my fast on honey-fritters." 2 Quoth the Badawi to himself,
"Needs must I go to Baghdad and eat honey-fritters therein"; for
in all his life he had never entered Baghdad nor seen fritters of the
sort. So he mounted his stallion and rode on towards Baghdad,
saying in his mind, "'Tis a fine thing to eat honey-fritters ! On the
honour of an Arab, I will break my fast with honey-fritters and

naught else ! " And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and

ceased to say her permitted say.

ttfofo fofien ft .foas tfce &bm J^unKrrtr anto &fxt& ttf tg&t,

She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the wild
Arab mounted horse and made for Baghdad saying in his mind,
" 'Tis a fine thing to eat honey-fritters ! On the honour of an
Arab I will break my fast with honey-fritters and naught else ;"
and he rode on till he came to the place where Dalilah was

1 This may mean, I should know her even were my eyes blue (or blind) with cataract
and the Bresl. Edit ix., 231, reads "Ayni" = my eye ; or it may be, I should know
her by her st'aring, glittering, hungry eyes, as opposed to the " Ha war " soft-black and
languishing (Arab. Prov. i. 115, and ii. 848). The Prophet said " blue-eyed (women)
are of good omen." And when one man reproached another saying " Thou art Azrak "
(blue-eyed!) he retorted," So is the falcon ! " " Zurk-an " in Kor. xx. 102, is translated
by Mr. Rodwell " leaden eyes." It ought to be blue-eyed, dim-sighted, purblind.

* Arab. "Zalabiyah bi-'Asal."

The Rogueries of Dalilah and her Daughter Z ay nab. 165

crucified and she heard him mutter these words. So he went up
to her and said to her, " What art thou ? " Quoth she, " I throw
myself on thy protection, O Shaykh of the Arabs ! " and quoth
he, " Allah indeed protect thee ! But what is the cause of thy
crucifixion ? " Said she, " I have an enemy, an oilman, who frieth
fritters, and I stopped to buy some of him, when I chanced to spit
and my spittle fell on the fritters. So he complained of me to the
Governor, who commanded to crucify me, saying : I adjudge
that ye take ten pounds of honey-fritters and feed her therewith
upon the cross. If she eat them, let her go, but if not, leave her
hanging. And my stomach will not brook sweet things." Cried
the Badawi, " By the honour of the Arabs, I departed not the
camp but that I might taste of honey- fritters ! I will eat them
for thee." Quoth she, " None may eat them, except he be hung
up in my place." So he fell into the trap and unbound her ;
whereupon she bound him in her stead, after she had stripped him
of his clothes and turband and put them on ; then covering herself
with his burnouse and mounting his horse, she rode to her house,
where Zaynab asked her, "What meaneth this plight ? "; and she
answered, " They crucified me ; " and told her all that had befallen
her with the Badawi. This is how it fared with her ; but as regards
the watchmen, the first who woke roused his companions and they
saw that the day had broken. So one of them raised his eyes and
cried, " Dalilah." Replied the Badawi, " By Allah ! I have not
eaten all night. Have ye brought the honey-fritters ? " All
exclaimed, " This is a man and a Badawi," and one of them
asked him, " O Badawi, where is Dalilah and who loosed her ? "
He answered, " 'Twas I ; she shall not eat the honey-fritters against
her will ; for her soul abhorreth them." So they knew that the
Arab was ignorant of her case, whom she had cozened, and said
to one another, " Shall we flee or abide the accomplishment of that
which Allah hath written for us ? " As they were talking, up came
the Chief of Police, with all the folk whom the old woman had
cheated, and said to the guards, " Arise, loose Dalilah." Quoth
the Badawi, " We have not eaten to-night. Hast thou brought the
honey-fritters ? " Whereupon the Wali raised his eyes to the cross
and seeing the Badawi hung up in the stead of the old woman,
said to the watchmen, "What is this ? " " Pardon, O our lord ! "
te Tell me what hath happened." " We were weary with watching
with thee on guard and said : Dalilah is crucified. So we fell
asleep, and when w* awoke, we found the Badawi hung up in her

j66 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

room ; and we are at thy mercy." " O folk, Allah's pardon be
upon you ! She is indeed a clever cheat ! " Then they unbound
the Badawi, who laid hold of the Master of Police, saying, "Allah
succour the Caliph against thee ! I look to none but thee for my
horse and clothes ! " So the Wali questioned him and he told
him what had passed between Dalilah and himself. The magis-
trate marvelled and asked him, "Why didst thou release her?";
and the Badawi answered, " I knew not that she was a felon."
Then said the others, " O Chief of Police, we look to thee in the
matter of our goods ; for we delivered the old woman into thy
hands and she was in thy guard ; and we cite thee before the
Divan of the Caliph." Now the Emir Hasan had gone up to the
Divan, when in came the Wali with the Badawi and the five others,
saying, " Verily, we are wronged men ! " " Who hath wronged
you ? " asked the Caliph ; so each came forward in turn and told
his story, after which said the Master of Police, " O Commander
of the Faithful, the old woman cheated me also and sold me these
five men as slaves for a thousand dinars, albeit they are free-born."
Quoth the Prince of True Believers, " I take upon myself all that
you have lost "; adding to the Master of Police, " I charge thee
with the old woman." But he shook his collar, saying, " O Com-
mander of the Faithful, I will not answer for her ; for, after I had
hung her on the cross, she tricked this Badawi and, when he loosed
her, she tied him up in her room and made off with his clothes and
horse." Quoth the Caliph, " Whom but thee shall I charge with
her?"; and quoth the Wali, "Charge Ahmad al-Danaf, for he
hath a thousand dinars a month and one-and-forty followers, at a
monthly wage of an hundred dinars each." So the Caliph said,
" Harkye, Captain Ahmad ! " " At thy service, O Commander of
the Faithful," said he ; and the Caliph cried, " I charge thee to
bring the old woman before us." Replied Ahmad, " I will answer
for her." Then the Caliph kept the Badawi and the five with him,

And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying

her permitted say.

Noto toljcn (t teas tfjc cbcn p^untorrtr anb

She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when
the Caliph said to Calamity Ahmad, " I charge thee to bring the
old woman before us," he said, " I will answer for her, O Com-

The Rogueries of Dalilah and her Daughter Zaynab. 167

mander of the Faithful! " Then the Caliph kept the Badawi and
the five with him, whilst Ahmad and his men went down to their
hall, 1 saying to one another, " How shall we lay hands on her,
seeing that there are many old women in the town ? " And quoth
Ahmad to Hasan Shuman, " What counsellest thou ? " Whereupon
quoth one of them, by name Ali Kitf al-Jamal, 2 to Al-Danaf, " Of
what dost thou take counsel with Hasan Shuman ? Is the Pestilent
one any great shakes ? " Said Hasan, " O Ali, why dost thou
disparage me ? By the Most Great Name, I will not company
with thee at this time ! "; and he rose and went out in wrath.
Then said Ahmad, " O my braves, let every sergeant take ten men,
each to his own quarter and search for Dalilah." All did his
bidding, Ali included, and they said, " Ere we disperse let us agree
to rendezvous in the quarter Al-Kalkh." It was noised abroad
in the city that Calamity Ahmad had undertaken to lay hands on
Dalilah the Wily, and Zaynab said to her, " O my mother, an thou

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 17 of 40)