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 20 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 20 of 40)
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grease, knew it for the key and opened the door therewith ; where-
upon quoth the slaves, " O Dalilah, were he a stranger, he had not
known the kitchen and the larder, nor had he been able to distin-
guish the keys thereof from the rest ; verily, he is our cousin
Sa'adu'llah." Quoth she, " He learned the places from the cat and
distinguished the keys one from the other by the appearance : but
this cleverness imposeth not upon me" Then he returned to the
kitchen where he cooked the dinner and, carrying Zaynab's tray up
to her room, saw all the stolen clothes hanging up ; after which he
went down and took Dalilah her tray and gave the slaves and the
dogs their rations. The like he did at sundown and drugged
Dalilah's food and that of Zaynab and the slaves. Now the doors
of the Khan were opened and shut with the sun. So AH went
forth and cried out, saying, " O dwellers in the Khan, the watch
is set and we have loosed the dogs ; whoso stirreth out after this
can blame none save himself." But he had delayed the dogs'
supper and put poison therein ; consequently when he set it before
them, they ate of it and died while the slaves and Dalilah and
Zaynab still slept under Bhang. Then he went up and took all the
clothes and the carrier-pigeons and, opening the gate, made off to
the barrack of the Forty, where he found Hasan Shuman the
Pestilence who said to him, " How hast thou fared ? " Thereupon
he told him what had passed and he praised him. Then he
caused him put off his clothes and boiled a decoction of herbs
wherewith he washed him, and his skin became white as it was ;
after which he donned his own dress and going back to the Khan,
clad the cook in the habit he had taken from him and made him smell
to the counter-drug ; upon which the slave awoke and going forth
to the greengrocer's, bought vegetables and returned to the Khan,
Such was the case with Al-Zaybak of Cairo ; but as regards Dalilah
the Wily, when the day broke, one of the lodgers in the Khan came
out of his chamber and, seeing the gate open and the slaves drugged
and the dogs dead, he went in to her and found her lying drugged,
with a scroll on her neck and at her head a sponge steeped in the
counter-drug. He set the sponge to her nostrils and she awoke and

1 88 A If Lay la k wa Lay la h.

asked," Where am I ?" The merchant answered, "When I came down
from my chamber I saw the gate of the Khan open and the dogs
dead and found the slaves and thee drugged." So she took up
the paper and read therein these words, " None did this deed save
AH the Egyptian." Then she awoke the slaves and Zaynab by
making them smell the counter-Bhang and said to them, " Did I not
tell you that this was Ali of Cairo ?"; presently adding to the slaves,
" But do ye conceal the matter." Then she said to her daughter,
" How often have I warned thee that Ali would not forego his
revenge ? He hath done this deed in requital of that which
thou diddest with him and he had it in his power to do with thee
other than this thing ; but he refrained therefrom out of courtesy
and a desire that there should be love and friendship between us."
So saying, she doffed her man's gear and donned woman's attire '
and, tying the kerchief of peace about her neck, repaired to Ahmad
al-Danaf's barrack. Now when Ali entered with the clothes and
the carrier-pigeons, Hasan Shuman gave the hall-keeper the price
of forty pigeons and he bought them and cooked them amongst
the men. Presently there came a knock at the door and Ahmad
said, " That is Dalilah's knock : rise and open to her, O hall-
keeper." So he admitted her and And Shahrazad perceived

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

ttfofo fofjen ft teas t&t &>eben ^un&rctJ anfc ^ourtefntfr Xfgftt,

She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when
Dalilah was admitted, Hasan asked her, " What bringeth thee
hither, O ill-omened old woman ? Verily, thou and thy brother
Zurayk the fishmonger are of a piece ! "; and she answered, " O
captain I am in the wrong and this my neck is at thy mercy ; but
tell me which of you it was that played me this trick ? " Quoth
Calamity Ahmad, " 'Twas the first of my lads." Rejoined Dalilah,
" For the sake of Allah intercede with him to give me back the
carrier-pigeons and what not, and thou wilt lay me under great
obligation." When Hasan heard this he said, "Allah requite thee,
O Ali ! Why didst thou cook the pigeons ? "; and Ali answered,
" I knew not that they were carrier-pigeons." Then said Ahmad,
" O hall-keeper bring us the cooked pigeons." So he brought them
and Dalilah took a piece and tasting it, said, " This is none of the

1 In token of defeat and in acknowledgment that she was no match for men.

The Adventures of Mercury Ali of Cairo. ' 189

carrier-pigeons' flesh, for I fed them on grains of musk and their
meat is become even as musk." Quoth Shuman, " An thou desire
to have the carrier-pigeons, comply with All's will." Asked she
" What is that ? " And Hasan answered, " He would have thee
marry him to thy daughter Zaynab." She said, " I have not com-
mand over her except of affection "; and Hasan said to Ali the
Cairene " Give her the pigeons." So he gave them to her, and she
took them and rejoiced in them. Then quoth Hasan to her,
" There is no help but thou return us a sufficient reply "; and
Dalilah rejoined, " If it be indeed his wish to marry her, it availed
nothing to play this clever trick upon us : it behoveth him rather
to demand her in marriage of her mother's brother and her
guardian, Captain Zurayk, him who crieth out, saying: Ho! a
pound of fish for two farthings ! and who hangeth up in his shop
a purse containing two thousand dinars." When the Forty heard
this, they all rose and cried out, saying, " What manner of blather
is this, O harlot ? Dost thou wish to bereave us of our brother
Ali of Cairo ? " Then she returned to the Khan and said to her
daughter, " Ali the Egyptian seeketh thee in marriage." Whereat
Zaynab rejoiced, for she loved him because of his chaste forbear-
ance towards her, 1 and asked her mother what had passed. So
she told her, adding, " I made it a condition that he should demand
thy hand of thine uncle, so I might make him fall into destruc-
tion." Meanwhile Ali turned to his fellows and asked them,
"What manner of man is this Zurayk ?"; and they answered," He
was chief of the sharpers of Al-Irak land and could all but pierce
mountains and lay hold upon the stars. He would steal the Kohl
from the eye and, in brief, he had not his match for roguery ; but
he hath repented his sins and forsworn his old way of life and
opened him a fishmonger's shop. - And now he hath amassed two
thousand dinars by the sale of fish and laid them in a purse with
strings of silk, to which he hath tied bells and rings and rattles of
brass, hung on a peg within the doorway. Every time he openeth
his shop he suspendeth the said purse and crieth out, saying :
Where are ye, O sharpers of Egypt, O prigs of Al-Irak, O
tricksters of Ajam-land ? Behold, Zurayk the fishmonger hath
hung up a purse in front of his shop, and whoso pretendeth to

1 This is a neat toch of nature. Many a woman, even of the world, has fallen in love
with a man before indifferent to her because he did not take advantage of her when he
had the opportunity.

I go A If Laylah wa Laylah.

craft and cunning, and can take it by sleight, it is his. So the long
fingered and greedy-minded come and try to take the purse, but
cannot ; for, whilst he frieth his fish and tendeth the fire, he layeth
at his feet scone-like circles of lead ; and whenever a thief thinketh
to take him unawares and maketh a snatch at the purse he casteth
at him a load of lead and slayeth him or doeth him a damage. So
O Ali, wert thou to tackle him, thou wouldst be as one who
jostleth a funeral cortege, unknowing who is dead j 1 for thou art no
match for him, and we fear his mischief for thee. Indeed, thou
hast no call to marry Zaynab, and he who leaveth a thing alone
liveth without it." Cried Ali, " This were shame, O comrades ;
needs must I take the purse : but bring me a young lady's habit."
So they brought him women's clothes and he clad himself therein
and stained his hands with Henna, and modestly hung down his
veil. Then he took a lamb and killing it, cut out the long
intestine 2 which he cleaned and tied up below ; moreover he filled

1 The slightest movement causes a fight at a funeral or a wedding-procession in the
East ; even amongst the " mild Hindus."

8 Arab. " Al-Musran " (plur. of " Masfr ") properly the intestines which contain the
chyle. The bag made by Ali was, in fact, a " Cundum" (so called from the inventor.
Colonel Cundum of the Guards in the days of Charles Second) or " French letter "; une
capote anglaise, a "check upon child." Captain Grose says (Class. Diet. etc. s.v.
Cundum) "The dried gut of a sheep worn by a man in the act of coition to prevent
venereal infection. These machines were long prepared and sold by a matron of the
name of Philips at the Green Canister in Half Moon Street in the Strand * * *
Also a false scabbard over a sword and the oilskin case for the colours of a regiment."
Another account is given in the Guide Pratique des Maladies Secretes, Dr. G. Harris,
Bruxelles. Librairie Populaire. He calls these petits sachets de baudruche " Candoms,
from the doctor who invented them." (Littre ignores the word) and declares that the
famous Ricord compared them with a bad umbrella which a storm can break or burst,
while others term them cuirasses against pleasure and cobwebs against infection. They
were much used in the last century. "Those pretended stolen goods were Mr. Wilkes's
Papers, many of which tended to prove his authorship of the North Briton, No. 45,
April 23, 1763, and some Cundums enclosed in an envelope" (Records of C. of King's
Bench, London, 1763). " Pour finir 1' inventaire de ces curiosites du cabinet de Madame
Gourdan, il ne faut pas omettre une multitude de redingottes appelees d"Angleterre, je ne
sais pourquois. Vous connoissez, au surplus, ces especes de boucliers qu'on oppose aux
traits em poisonnes de 1' amour ; el qui n'emoussent que ceux du plaisir." (L* Observateur
Anglois, Londies 1778, iii. 69). Again we read :

" Les capotes me"lancoliques
Qui pendent chez les gros Millan (?)
S'enflent d'elles-memes, lubriques,
Et dechargent en se gonflant."

Passage Satyrique.

TJie Adventures of Mercury AH of Cairo. 191

ft with the blood and bound it between his thighs ; after which he
donned petticoat-trousers and walking boots. He also made
himself a pair of false breasts with birds' crops and filled them
with thickened milk and tied round his hips and over his belly a
piece of linen, which he stuffed with cotton, girding himself over
all with a kerchief of silk well starched. Then he went out,
whilst all who saw him exclaimed, " What a fine pair of hind
cheeks ! " Presently he saw an ass-driver coming, so he gave
him a dinar and mounting, rode till he came to Zurayk's shop,
where he saw the purse hung up and the gold glittering
through it. Now Zurayk was frying fish, and Ali said, " O
ass-man, what is that smell ? " Replied he, " It's the smell
of Zurayk's fish." Quoth Ali, " I am a woman with child and
the smell harmeth me ; go, fetch me a slice of the fish." So the
donkey-boy said to Zurayk, " What aileth thee to fry fish so early
and annoy pregnant women with the smell ? I have here the wife
of the Emir Hasan Sharr al-Tarik, and she is with child ; so give
her a bit of fish, for the babe stirreth in her womb. O Protector,
O my God, avert from us the mischief of this day ! " Thereupon
Zurayk took a piece of fish and would have fried it, but the fire
had gone out and he went in to rekindle it. Meanwhile Ali dis-
mounted and sitting down, pressed upon the lamb's intestine till
it burst and the blood ran out from between his legs. Then he
cried aloud, saying, " O my back ! O my side " Whereupon the
driver turned and seeing the blood running, said, " What aileth
thee, O my lady ? " Replied Ali, " I have miscarried "; where-
upon Zurayk looked out and seeing the blood fled affrighted
into the inner shop. Quoth the donkey-driver, "Allah torment

Also in Louis Prolat :

" II fuyait, me laissant une capote an cul."

The articles are now of two kinds mostly of baudruche (sheep's gut) and a few of
caoutchouc. They are made almost exclusively in the faubourgs of Paris, giving employ-
ment to many women and young girls ; Crenelle turns out the baudruche and Crenelle
and Lilas the India-rubber article ; and of the three or four makers M. Deschamps is
best known. The sheep's gut is not joined in any way but of single piece as it comes
from the animal after, of course, much manipulation to make it thin and supple ; the
inferior qualities are stuck together at the sides. Prices vary from 4^ to 36 francs per
gross. Those of India-rubber are always joined at the side with a solution especially
prepared for the purpose. I have also heard offish-bladders but can give no details on
the subject. The Cundum was unknown to the ancients of Europe although syphilis wa
not : even prehistoric skeletons show traces of its ravages.

igz A if Laylah wa Laylah.

thee, O Zurayk ! The lady hath miscarried and thou art no
match for her husband. Why must thou make a stench so early
in the morning ? I said to thee : Bring her a slice, but thou
wouldst not." Thereupon, he took his ass and went his way and,
as Zurayk still did not appear, Ali put out his hand to the purse ;
but no sooner had he touched it than the bells and rattles and
rings began to jingle and the gold to chink. Quoth Zurayk, who
returned at the sound, " Thy perfidy hath come to light, O gallows-
bird ! Wilt thou put a cheat on me and thou in a woman's habit ?
Now take what cometh to thee ! " And he threw a cake of lead
at him, but it went agley and lighted on another ; whereupon the
people rose against Zurayk and said to him, " Art thou a trades-
man, or a swashbuckler ? An thou be a tradesman, take down thy
purse and spare the folk thy mischief." He replied, " Bismillah,
in the name of Allah ! On my head be it." As for Ali, he made
off to the barrack and told Hasan Shuman what had happened,
after which he put off his woman's gear and donning a groom's
habit which was brought to him by his chief took a dish and five
dirhams. Then he returned to Zurayk's shop and the fishmonger
said to him, " What dost thou want, O my master ? " J He showed
him the dirhams and Zurayk would have given him of the fish
in the tray, but he said, " I will have none save hot fish." So he
set fish in the earthen pan and finding the fire dead, went in to
relight it ; whereupon Ali put out his hand to the purse and
caught hold of the end of it. The rattles and rings and bells
jingled and Zurayk said, "Thy trick hath not deceived me. I
knew thee for all thou art disguised as a groom by the grip of
thy hand on the dish and the dirhams." And Shahrazad per-
ceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

Note fo&m ft foas tfje &eben ^utrttefc atrti ^t

She resumed, It hath reached me. O auspicious King, that when
Ali of Egypt put out his hand to the purse, the bells and rings
jingled and Zurayk said, " Thy trick hath not deceived me for
all thou comest disguised as a groom I knew thee by the grip of
thy hand on the dish and the dirhams ! " So saying, he threw the

1 Arab. " Ya Ust4 " (for " Urtaz.") The Pers. term is Ustad = a craft-master, an
artisan and especially a barber. Here it is merely a polite address.

The Adventures of Mercury AH of Cairo. 193

lead at him, but he avoided it and it fell into the pan full of
hot fish and broke it and overturned it, fat and all, upon the
breast and shoulders of the Kazi, who was passing. The oil ran
down inside his clothes to his privy parts and he cried out, " O
my privities ! What a sad pickle you are in ! Alas, unhappy I !
Who hath played me this trick ? " Answered the people, " O
our lord, it was some small boy that threw a stone into the
pan: but for Allah's ward, it had been worse." Then they
turned and seeing the loaf of lead and that it was Zurayk who
had thrown it, rose against him and said to him, " O Zurayk,
this is not allowed of Allah ! Take down the purse or it shall
go ill for thee." Answered he, " I will take it down, Inshallah ! ''
Meanwhile Ali returned to the barrack and told his comrades
who cried, " Where is the purse ? ", all that had passed and they
said, " Thou hast exhausted two-thirds of his cunning." Then
he changed his groom's dress for the garb of a merchant and
going out, met a snake-charmer, with a bag of serpents and a
wallet containing his kit to whom said he, " O charmer, come
and amuse my lads, and thou shalt have largesse." So he accom-
panied him to the barrack, where he fed him and drugging him
with Bhang, doffed his clothes and put them on. Then he took
the bags and repairing to Zurayk's shop began to play the reed-
pipe. Quoth Zurayk, " Allah provide thee ! " But Ali pulled
out the serpents and cast them down before him ; whereat the
fishseller, who was afraid of snakes, fled from them into the
inner shop. Thereupon Ali picked up the reptiles and, thrusting
them back into the bag, stretched out his hand and caught hold
of the end of the purse. The rings again rang and the bells and
rattles jangled, and Zurayk cried, "Wilt thou never cease to play
me tricks ? Now thou feignest thyself a serpent-charmer ! " So
saying, he took up a piece of lead, and hurled it at Ali ; but it
missed him and fell on the head of a groom, who was passing
by, following his master, a trooper, and knocked him down.
Quoth the soldier, "Who felled him?"; and the folk said,
" 'Twas a stone fell from the roof." So the soldier passed on
and the people, seeing the piece of lead, went up to Zurayk
and cried to him, " Take down the purse ! " ; and he said,
" Inshallah, I will take it down this very night ! " Ali ceased
not to practice upon Zurayk till he had made seven different
attempts but without taking the purse. Then he returned the
snake-charmer his clothes and kit and gave him due benevo-

194 Alf Laylah wa Laylah.

lence ; after which he went back to Zurayk's shop and heard
him say, " If I leave the purse here to-night, he will dig through
the shop-wall and take it ; I will carry it home with me." So
he arose and shut the shop; then he took down the purse and
putting it in his bosom set out home, till he came near his
house, when he saw a wedding in a neighbour's lodging and
said to himself, " I will hie me home and give my wife the purse
and don my fine clothes and return to the marriage." And Ali
followed him. Now Zurayk had married a black girl, one of the
freed women of the Wazir Ja'afar and she had borne him a son,
whom he named Abdallah, and he had promised her to spend the
money in the purse on the occasion of the boy's circumcision and
of his marriage-procession. So he went into his house and, as he
entered, his wife saw that his face was overcast and asked him,
" What hath caused thy sadness ? " Quoth he, " Allah hath
afflicted me this day with a rascal who made seven attempts to get
the purse, but without avail ; " and quoth she, " Give it to me, that
I may lay it up against the boy's festival-day." (Now Ali, who
had followed him lay hidden in a closet whence he could see and
hear all.) So he gave her the purse and changed his clothes, say-
ing, " Keep the purse safely, O Umm Abdallah, for I am going to
the wedding." But she said, " Take thy sleep awhile." So he lay
down and fell asleep. Presently, Ali rose and going on tiptoe to
the purse, took it and went to the house of the wedding and stood
there, looking on at the fun. Now meanwhile, Zurayk dreamt that
he saw a bird fly away with the purse and awaking in affright, said
to his wife, " Rise; look for the purse." So she looked and finding
it gone, buffeted her face and said, " Alas the blackness of thy
fortune, O Umm Abdallah ! A sharker hath taken the purse."
Quoth Zurayk, " By Allah it can be none other than rascal Ali
who hath plagued me all day ! He hath followed me home and
seized the purse ; and there is no help but that I go and get it
back." Quoth she, " Except thou bring it, I will lock on thee
the door and leave thee to pass the night in the street." So
he went up to the house of the wedding, and seeing Ali looking
on, said to himself," This is he who took the purse; but he lodgeth
with Ahmad al-Danaf." So he forewent him to the barrack and,
climbing up at the back, dropped down into the saloon, where he
found every one asleep. Presently there came a rap at the door
and Zurayk asked, " Who is there ! " " Ali of Cairo," answered the

The Adventures of Mercury AH of Cairo. 195

knocker ; and Zurayk said, " Hast thou brought the purse ? " So
AH thought it was Hasan Shuman and replied, " I have brought
it j 1 open the door." Quoth Zurayk, " Impossible that I open to
thee till I see the purse ; for thy chief and I have laid a wager
about it." Said AH, " Put out thy hand." So he put out his hand
through the hole in the side-door and AH laid the purse in it;
whereupon Zurayk took it and going forth, as he had come in,
returned to the wedding. AH stood for a long while at the door,
but none opened to him ; and at last he gave a thundering knock
that awoke all the men and they said, " That is AH of Cairo's
peculiar rap." So the hall-keeper opened to him and Hasan
Shuman said to him, " Hast thou brought the purse ? " Replied
AH, " Enough of jesting, O Shuman : didst thou not swear that
thou wouldest not open to me till I showed thee the purse, and
did I not give it thee through the hole in the side door ? And
didst thou not say to me, I am sworn never to open the door till
thou show me the purse ? " Quoth Hasan, " By Allah, 'twas not
I who took it, but Zurayk ! " Quoth AH, " Needs must I get it
again," and repaired to the house of the wedding, where he heard
the buffoon 2 say, " Bravo, 3 O Abu Abdallah! Good luck to thee
with thy son \ " Said AH, " My luck is in the ascendant," and
going to the fishmonger's lodging, climbed over the back wall of
the house and found his wife asleep. So he drugged her with
Bhang and clad himself in her clothes. Then he took the child in
his arms and went round, searching, till he found a palm-leaf

1 In common parlance Arabs answer a question (like the classics of Europe who rarely
used Yes and No, Yea and Nay), by repeating its last words. They have, however,
many affirmative particles e.g. Ni'am which answers a negative " Dost thou not go ? "
Ni'am (Yes !) ; and Ajal, a stronger form following a command, e.g. Sir (go) Ajal,
Yes verily. The popular form is Aywa ('llahi) = Yes, by Allah. The chief negatives
are Ma and La, both often used in the sense of " There is not."

8 Arab. " Khalbus," prop, the servant of the Almah-girls who acts buffoon as well as
pimp. The " Maskharah " (whence our " mask ") corresponds with the fool or jester of
mediaeval Europe : amongst the Arnauts he is called " Suttari " and is known by his
fox's tails : he mounts a mare, tom-toms on the kettle-drum and is generally one of the
bravest of the corps. These buffoons are noted for extreme indecency : they generally
appear in the ring provided with an enormous phallus of whip-cord and with this they
charge man, woman and child, to the infinite delight of the public.

3 Arab. "Shubash" pronounced in Egypt Shobash : it is the Persian Shah-Lash lit.
= be a King, equivalent to our bravo. Here, however, the allusion is to the buffoon's
cry at an Egyptian feast, " Shohbash 'alayk, yd Sahib al-faraj," =a present is due from
thee, O giver of the fete ! " See Lane M E. xxvii.

196 A If Lay la k wa Laylah,

basket containing buns, 1 which Zurayk of his niggardliness, had
kept from the Greater Feast. Presently, the fishmonger returned
and knocked at the door, whereupon Ali imitated his wife's voice
and asked, " Who is at the door ? " " Abu Abdallah," answered
Zurayk and Ali said, " I swore that I would not open the door to
thee, except thou broughtest back the purse." Quoth the fish-
monger, " I have brought it." Cried Ali, " Here with it into my
hand before I open the door;" and Zurayk answered, saying, "Let
down the basket and take it therein." So Sharper Ali let down
the basket and the other put the purse therein, whereupon Ali
took it and drugged the child. Then he aroused the woman and
making off by the back way as he had entered, returned with the
child and the purse and the basket of cakes to the barrack and
showed them all to the Forty, who praised his dexterity. There-

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 20 of 40)