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 22 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 22 of 40)
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a certain sweetmeat-seller who drugged me and took the gear
from me ; but where is he gone ? " Quoth his comrades, " We
have seen nothing of him ; but come, rise and go home with
us." So they returned to the barrack, where they found Ahmad
al-Danaf, who greeted AH and enquired if he had brought the
dress. He replied, " I was coming hither with it and other
matters, including the Jew's head, when a sweetmeat-seller met
me and drugged me with Bhang and took them from me." Then
he told him the whole tale ending with, " If I come across that
man of goodies again, I will requite him." Presently Hasan
Shuman came out of a closet and said to him, " Hast thou gotten
the gear, O Ali ?" So he told him what had befallen him and
added, " If I know whither the rascal is gone and where to
find the knave, I would pay him out. Knowest thou whither
he went ? '' Answered Hasan, " I know where he is," and
opening the door of the closet, showed him the sweet-
meat-seller within, drugged and senseless. Then he aroused
him and he opened his eyes and finding himself in presence of
Mercury Ali and Calamity Ahmad and the Forty, started up and
said, " Where am I and who hath laid hands on me ? " Replied
Shuman, " 'Twas I laid hands on thee ; " and Ali cried, " O
perfidious wretch, wilt thou play thy pranks on me?" And he
would have slain him : but Hasan said to him, " Hold thy hand
for this fellow is become thy kinsman." " How my kinsman ? "
quoth Ali ; and quoth Hasan, " This is Ahmad al-Lakit son of
Zaynab's sister." Then said Ali to the prisoner, " Why didst thou
thus, O Lakit ? " and he replied, " My grandmother, Dalilah the
Wily, bade me do it ; only because Zurayk the fishmonger fore-
gathered with the old woman and said : Mercury Ali of Cairo is
a sharper and a past master in knavery, and he will certainly slay
the Jew and bring hither the dress. So she sent for me and
said to me, O Ahmad, dost thou know Ali of Cairo ? Answered
I : Indeed I do and 'twas I directed him to Ahmad al-Danaf's
lodging when he first came to Baghdad. Quoth she : Go and set
thy nets for him, and if he have brought back the gear, put a
cheat on him and take it from him. So I went round about the
highways of the city, till I met a sweetmeat-seller and buying his
clothes and stock-in-trade and gear for ten dinars, did what was
done." Thereupon quoth Ali, " Go back to thy grandmother and
Zurayk, and tell them that I have brought the gear and the Jew's
head and say to them : Meet me to-morrow at the Caliph's

The Adventures of Mercury All of Cairo. 207

Divan, there to receive Zaynab's dowry." And Calamity Ahmad
rejoiced in this and said, "We have not wasted our pains in
rearing thee, O AH ! " Next morning AH took the dress, the
charger, the rod and the chains of gold, together with the head of
Azariah the Jew mounted on a pike, and went up, accompanied
by Ahmad al-Danaf and the Forty, to the Divan, where they

kissed ground before the Caliph And Shahrazad perceived

the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

Nofo fo&en tt teas t&e Sbtben ^unUrrtJ anfc ttfmettentf)

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when AH
the Cairene went up to the Caliph's Divan, accompanied by his
uncle Ahmad al-Danaf and his lads they kissed ground before the
Caliph who turned and seeing a youth of the most valiant aspect,
enquired of Calamity Ahmad concerning him and he replied, " O
Commander of the Faithful, this is Mercury AH the Egyptian
captain of the brave boys of Cairo, and he is the first of my lads."
And the Caliph loved him for the valour that shone from between
his eyes, testifying for him and not against him. Then AH rose ;
and, casting the Jew's head down before him, said, " May thine
every enemy be like this one, O Prince of True Believers ! "
Quoth Al-Rashid, " Whose head is this ? " ; and quoth AH, " 'Tis
the head of Azariah the Jew." "Who slew him?" asked the
Caliph. So AH related to him all that had passed, from first to
last, and the Caliph said, " I had not thought thou wouldst kill
him, for that he was a sorcerer." AH replied, " O Commander of
the Faithful, my Lord made me prevail to his slaughter." Then
the Caliph sent the Chief of Police to the Jew's palace, where he
found him lying headless ; so he laid the body on a bier, 1 and
carried it to Al-Rashid, who commanded to burn it. Whereat,
behold, up came Kamar and kissing the ground before the Caliph,
informed him that she was the daughter of Jew Azariah and that
she had become a Moslemah. Then she renewed her profession

1 Arab. "Tabut," a term applied to the Ark of the Covenant (Koran ii. 349), which
contained Moses' rod and shoes, Aaron's mitre, the manna-pot, the broken Tables of
the Law, and the portraits of all the prophets which are to appear till the end of time
an extensive list for a box measuring 3 by 2 cubits. Europeans often translate it coffin,
but it is properly the wooden case placed over an honoured grave. " Iran " is the Ark
of Moses exposure, also the large hearse on which tribal chiefs were carried to earth.

208 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

of Faith before the Commander of the Faithful and said to him
" Be thou my intercessor with Sharper Ali that he take me to
wife." She also appointed him her guardian to consent to her
marriage with the Cairene, to whom he gave the Jew's palace and
all its contents, saying, " Ask a boon of me." Quoth Ali, " I beg
of thee to let me stand on thy carpet and eat of thy table ; " and
quoth the Caliph, " O Ali, hast thou any lads ? " He replied, " I
have forty lads ; but they are in Cairo." Rejoined the Caliph,
" Send to Cairo and fetch them hither," presently adding, " But,
O Ali, hast thou a barrack for them ? " " No," answered Ali ;
and Hasan Shuman said, " I make him a present of my barrack
with all that is therein, O Commander of the Faithful." How-
ever, the Caliph retorted, saying, " Thy lodging is thine own, O
Hasan ; " and he bade his treasurer give the court architect ten
thousand dinars, that he might build Ali a hall with four dafses
and forty sleeping-closets for his lads. Then said he, " O Ali,
hast thou any further wish, that we may command its fulfilment ?";
and said Ali, " O King of the age, be thou my intercessor with
Dalilah the Wily that she give me her daughter Zaynab to wife
and take the dress and gear of Azariah's girl in lieu of dower."
Dalilah accepted the Caliph's intercession and accepted the
charger and dress and what not, and they drew up the marriage
contracts between Ali and Zaynab and Kamar, the Jew's daughter
and the broker's daughter and the handmaid. Moreover, the
Caliph assigned him a solde with a table morning and evening,
and stipends and allowances for fodder ; all of the most liberal.
Then Ali the Cairene fell to making ready for the wedding
festivities and, after thirty days, he sent a letter to his comrades in
Cairo, wherein he gave them to know of the favours and honours
which the Caliph had bestowed upon him and said, " I have
married four maidens and needs must ye come to the wedding."'
So, after a reasonable time the forty lads arrived and they held
high festival ; he homed them in his barrack and entreated them
with the utmost regard and presented them to the Caliph, who
bestowed on them robes of honour and largesse. Then the tiring-
women displayed Zaynab before Ali in the dress of the Jew's
daughter, and he went in unto her and found her a pearl
unthridden and a filly by all save himself unridden. Then he
went in unto the three other maidens and found them accomplished
in beauty and loveliness. After this it befel that Ali of Cairo was
one night on guard by the Caliph who said to him, " I wish thee

Ardashir and Hayat al-Nufus. 209

O Ali, to tell me all that hath befallen thee from first to last with
Dalilah the Wily and Zaynab the Coney-catcher and Zurayk the
Fishmonger." So Ali related to him all his adventures and the
Commander of the Faithful bade record them and lay them up in
the royal muniment-rooms. So they wrote down all that had
befallen him and kept it in store with other histories for the
people of Mohammed the Best of Men. And Ali and his wives
and comrades abode in all solace of life, and its joyance, till there
came to them the Destroyer of Delights and Sunderer of Societies ;
and Allah (be He extolled and exalted !) is All-knowing ! ' And
also men relate the tale of


THERE was once in the city of Sh/raz a mighty King called Sayf
al-A'azam Shah, who had grown old, without being blessed with
a son. So he summoned the physicists and physicians and said
to them, " I am now in years and ye know my case and the state
of the kingdom and its ordinance ; and I fear for my subjects
after me ; for that up to this present I have not been vouchsafed
a son." Thereupon they replied, " We will compound thee a some-
what of drugs wherein shall be efficacy, if it please Almighty
Allah ! " So they mixed him drugs, which he used and knew his
wife carnally, and she conceived by leave of the Most High Lord,
who saith to a thing, " Be," and it becometh. When her months
were accomplished, she gave birth to a male child like the moon,
whom his father named Ardashir, 3 and he grew up and throve and
applied himself to the study of learning and letters, till he
attained the age of fifteen. Now there was in Al-Irak a King
called Abd al-Kddir who had a daughter, by name Haydt
al-Nufus, and she was like the rising full moon ; but she had an
hatred for men and the folk very hardly dared name mankind in
her presence. The Kings of the Chosroes had sought her in

1 i.e. What we have related is not " Gospel Truth."

* Omitted by Lane (iii. 252) "because little more than. a repetition" of Taj al-Muluk
and the Lady Dunya. This is true; but the nice progress of the nurse's pimping is a
well-finished picture and the old woman's speech (infra p. 243) is a gem.

* Artaxerxes ; in the Mac. Edit. Azdashir, a misprint.


2io A I Laylah wa Laylah.

marriage of her sire ; but, when he spoke with her thereof, she
said, " Never will I do this ; and if thou force me thereto, I will
slay myself." Now Prince Ardashir heard of her fame and fell in
love with her and told his father who, seeing his case, took pity
on him and promised him day by day that he should marry her.
So he despatched his Wazir to demand her in wedlock, but King
Abd al-Kadir refused, and when the Minister returned to King
Sayf al-A'azam and acquainted him with what had befallen his
mission and the failure thereof, he was wroth with exceeding
wrath and cried, " Shall the like of me send to one of the Kings
on a requisition and he accomplish it not ? " Then he bade a
herald make proclamation to his troops, bidding them bring out
the tents and equip them for war with all diligence, though they
should borrow money for the necessary expenses; and he said,
" I will on no wise turn back, till I have laid waste King Abd
al-Kadir's dominions and slain his men and plundered his
treasures and blotted out his traces ! " When the report of this
reached Ardashir he rose from his carpet-bed, and going in to his
father, kissed ground l between his hands and said, " O mighty

King, trouble not thyself with aught of this thing And

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

Nofo fo&en ft foas t&e Jbeben f^uiV&rrtr an* tJTtoentjttl) ttfi

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when
report of this reached the Prince he went in to his sire the King
and, kissing ground between his hands, said, " O mighty King,
trouble not thy soul with aught of this thing and levy not thy
champions and armies neither spend thy monies. Thou art
stronger than he, and if thou loose upon him this thy host, thou
wilt lay waste his cities and dominions and spoil his good and slay
his strong men and himself ; but when his daughter shall come to
know what hath befallen her father and his people by reason of
her, she will slay herself, and I shall die on her account ; for I can
never live after her ; no, never." Asked the King, " And what

I use "kiss ground" as we say "kiss hands." But it must not be understood
literally: the nearest approach would be to touch the earth with the finger-tips and
apply them to the lips or brow. Amongst Hindus the Ashtanga-prostration included
actually kissing the ground.

Ardashir and Hay at al-Nufus. 211

then thinkest thou to do, O my son ? " and the Prince answered,
"'I will don a merchant's habit and cast about how I may win to
the Princess and compass my desire of her." Quoth Sayf
al-A'azam, "Art thou determined upon this?"; and quoth the
Prince, " Yes, O my sire ; " whereupon the King called to his
Wazir, and said to him, " Do thou journey with my son, the core
of my heart, and help him to win his will and watch over him and
guide him with thy sound judgment, for thou standest to him even
in my stead." " I hear and obey," answered the Minister ; and
the King gave his son three hundred thousand dinars in gold and
great store of jewels and precious stones and goldsmiths' ware and
stuffs and other things of price. Then Prince Ardashir went in to
his mother and kissed her hands and asked her blessing. She
blessed him and, forthright opening her treasures, brought out to
him necklaces and trinkets and apparel and all manner of other
costly objects hoarded up from the time of the bygone Kings, whose
price might not be evened with coin. Moreover, he took with
him of his Mamelukes and negro-slaves and cattle all that he
needed for the road and clad himself and the Wazir and their
company in traders' gear. Then he farewelled his parents and
kinsfolk and friends ; and, setting out, fared on over wolds and
wastes all hours of the day and watches of the night ; and whenas
the way was longsome upon him he improvised these couplets :

My longing bred of love with mine unease for ever grows ; o Nor against all

the wrongs of time one succourer arose :
When Pleiads and the Fishes show in sky the rise I watch, o As worshipper

within whose breast a pious burning glows :
For Star o' Morn I speer until at last when it is seen, o I'm madded with

my passion and my fancy's woes and throes :
I swear by you that never from your love have I been loosed ; o Naught am.

I save a watcher who of slumber nothing knows !
Though hard appear my hope to win, though languor aye increase, o And after

thee my patience fails and ne'er a helper shows ;
Yet will I wait till Allah shall be pleased to join our loves ; o I'll mortify

the jealous and I'll mock me of my foes.

When he ended his verse he swooned away and the Wazir
sprinkled rose-water on him, till the Prince came to himself, when
the Minister said to him, " O King's son, possess thy soul in
patience ; for the consequence of patience is consolation, and
behold, thou art on the way to whatso thou wishest." And he
ceased not to bespeak him fair and comfort him till his trouble

212 A If Lay la h wa Lay I ah.

subsided ; and they continued their journey with all diligence.
Presently, the Prince again became impatient of the length of the
way and bethought him of his beloved and recited these
couplets :

Longsome is absence, restlessness increaseth and despite ; * And burn my

vitals in the blaze my love and longings light :
Grows my hair gray from pains and pangs which I am doomed bear * For

pine, while tear-floods stream from eyes and sore offend my sight :
I swear, O Hope of me, O End of every wish and will, * By Him who made

mankind and every branch with leafage dight,
A passion-load for thee, O my Desire, I must endure, * And boast I that to

bear such load no lover hath the might.

Question the Night of me and Night thy soul shall satisfy * Mine eyelids
never close in sleep throughout the livelong night.

Then he wept with sore weeping and 'plained of that he suffered
for stress of love-longing; but the Wazir comforted him and
spoke him fair, promising him the winning of his wish ; after
which they fared on again for a few days, when they drew near
to the White City, the capital of King Abd al-Kadir, soon after
sunrise. Then said the Minister to the Prince, " Rejoice, O
King's son, in all good ; for see, yonder is the White City, that
which thou seekest." Whereat the Prince rejoiced with exceeding
joy and recited these couplets :

My friends, I yearn in heart distraught for him ; o Longing abides and with

sore pains I brim :
I mourn like childless mother, nor can find o One to console me when

the light grows dim ;
Yet when the breezes blow from off thy land, o I feel their freshness shed

on heart and limb ;
And rail mine eyes like water-Jaden clouds, e While in a tear-sea shed

by heart I swim.

Now when they entered the White City they asked for the
Merchants' Khan, a place of moneyed men ; and when shown the
hostelry they hired three magazines and on receiving the keys *
they laid up therein all their goods and gear. They abode in the
Khan till they were rested, when the Wazir applied himself to

devise a device for the Prince, And Shahrazad perceived the

dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 The "key " is mentioned because a fee so called (miftah) is paid on its being handed
to the new lodger (Pilgrimage i. 62).

Ardashir and Hay at al-Nufus. 213

fofjen it teas tye &ebcn ^untirc& anti Sfocntg-first Kigijt,

She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the
Prince and the Minister alighted at the Khan and lodged their
goods in the ground-floor magazines and there settled their
servants. Then they tarried awhile till they had rested when
the Wazir arose and applied himself to devise a device for the
Prince, and said to him, " I have bethought me of somewhat
wherein, methinks, will be success for thee, so it please Almighty
Allah." Quoth Ardashir, " O thou Wazir of good counsel, do
what cometh to thy mind, and may the Lord direct thy rede
aright ! " Quoth the Minister, " I purpose to hire thee a shop
in the market-street of the stuff-sellers and set thee therein ; for
that all, great and small, have recourse to the bazar and, meseems,
when the folk see thee with their own eyes sitting in the shop
their hearts will incline to thee and thou wilt thus be enabled to
attain thy desire, for thou art fair of favour and souls incline
to thee and sight rejoiceth in thee." The other replied, " Do
what seemeth good to thee." So the Wazir forthright began to
robe the Prince and himself in their richest raiment and, putting
a purse of a thousand dinars in his breast-pocket, went forth and
walked about the city, whilst all who looked upon them marvelled
at the beauty of the King's son, saying, " Glory be to Him
who created this youth * of vile water 1 ' ! Blessed be Allah
excellentest of Creators ! " Great was the talk anent him and
some said, " This is no mortal, ' this is naught save a noble
angel'"; 2 and others, "Hath Rizwan, the door-keeper of the
Eden-garden, left the gate of Paradise unguarded, that this youth
hath come forth ?" The people followed them to the stuff-
market, where they entered and stood, till there came up to them
an old man of dignified presence and venerable appearance, who
saluted them, and they returned his salam. Then the Shaykh
said to them, " O my lords, have ye any need, that we may
have the honour of accomplishing ? " ; and the Wazir asked him,
" Who art thou, O elder ? " He answered, " J am the Overseer
of the market." Quoth the Wazir, ' Know then, O Shaykh,
that this youth is my son and I wish to hire him a shop in the

1 The Koranic term for semen, often quoted.

* Koran, xii. 31, in the story of Joseph, before noticed.

214 A If Layiah wa Laylah.

bazar, that he may sit therein and learn to sell and buy and take
and give, and come to ken merchants' ways and habits/' " I hear
and I obey," replied the Overseer and brought them without stay
or delay the key of a shop, which he caused the brokers sweep
and clean. And they did his bidding. Then the Wazir sent for
a high mattress, stuffed with ostrich-down, and set it up in the
shop, spreading upon it a small prayer-carpet, and a cushion
fringed with broidery of red gold. Moreover he brought pillows
and transported thither so much of the goods and stuffs that
he had brought with him as filled the shop. Next morning the
young Prince came and opening the shop, seated himself on the
divan, and stationed two Mamelukes, clad in the richest of raiment
before him and two black slaves of the goodliest of the
Abyssinians in the lower part of the shop. The Wazir enjoined
him to keep his secret from the folk, so thereby he might find
aid in the winning of his wishes ; then he left him and charging
him to acquaint him with what befel him in the shop, day by day-
returned to the Khan. The Prince sat in the shop till night as
he were the moon at its fullest, whilst the folk, hearing tell of his
comeliness, flocked to the place, without errand, to gaze on his
beauty and loveliness and symmetry and perfect grace and glorify
the Almighty who created and shaped him, till none could pass
through that bazar for the excessive crowding of the folk about
him. The King's son turned right and left, abashed at the
throng of people that stared at him, hoping to make acquaintance
with some one about the court, of whom he might get news of
the Princess ; but he found no way to this, wherefore his breast
was straitened. Meanwhile, the Wazir daily promised him
the attainment of his desire and the case so continued for a
time till, one morning, as the youth sat in the shop, there came
up an old woman of respectable semblance and dignified presence
clad in raiment of devotees 1 and followed by two slave-girls like
moons. She stopped before the shop and, having considered the
Prince awhile, cried, " Glory be to God who fashioned that face
and perfected that figure ! " Then she saluted him and he
returned her salam and seated her by his side. Quoth she,
" Whence cometh thou, O fair of favour ? " ; and quoth he, " From
the parts of Hind, O my mother ; and I have come to this city to

1 Probably the white woollens, so often mentioned, whose use is now returning to
Europe, where men have a reasonable fear of dyed stuffs, especially since Aniline
conquered Cochineal.

Ardashir and Hay at al-Nufus. 21$

see the world and look about me." Honour to thee for a visitor !
What goods and stuffs hast thou ? Show me something handsome,
fit for Kings." "If thou wish for handsome stuffs, I will show
them to thee ; for I have wares that beseem persons of every
condition." O my son, I want somewhat costly of price and
seemly to sight ; brief, the best thou hast." " Thou must needs
tell me for whom thou seekest it, that I may show thee goods
according to the rank of the requirer." " Thou speakest sooth,
O my son," said she, " I want somewhat for my mistreess
Hayat al-Nufus, daughter of Abd al-Kadir, lord of this land and
King of this country," Now when Ardashir heard his mistres's
name, his reason flew for joy and his heart fluttered and he gave
no order to slave or servant, but, putting his hand behind him,
pulled out a purse of an hundred dinars and offered it to the old
woman, saying, " This is for the washing of thy clothes." Then
he again put forth his hand and brought out of a wrapper a dress
worth ten thousand dinars or more and said to her, " This is of
that which I have brought to your country." When the old
woman saw it, it pleased her and she asked, " What is the price of
this dress, O perfect in qualities ? " Answered he, " I will take
no price for it ! " whereupon she thanked him and repeated
her question ; but he said, " By Allah, I will take no price
for it. I make thee a present of it, an the Princess will
not accept it and 'tis a guest-gift from me to thee. Alham-
dolillah Glory be to God who hath brought us together,
so that, if one day I have a want, I shall find thee a helper to
me in winning it ! " She marvelled at the goodliness of his
speech and the excess of his generosity and the perfection of his
courtesy and said to him, "What is thy name, O my lord ?"
He replied, " My name is Ardashir ; " and she cried, " By Allah
this is a rare name ! Therewith are Kings' sons named, and thou
art in a guise of the sons of the merchants ! " Quoth he,
" Of the love my father bore me, he gave me this name, but
a name signifieth naught ; " and quoth she in wonder, " O my
son, take the price of thy goods." But he swore that he would
not take aught. Then the old lady said to him, " O my dear
one, Truth (I would have thee know) is the greatest of all

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 22 of 40)