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 24 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 24 of 40)
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do with him." " There needeth nor letter nor answer." " I must
have a letter that I may rebuke him roughly and cut off his hopes."
" Thou canst do that without a letter." " I cannot do it without
the letter." So Hayat al-Nufus called for pen-case and paper and
wrote these verses :

Long have I chid thee but my chiding hindereth thee not * How often would

my verse with writ o' hand ensnare thee, ah !
Then keep thy passion hidden deep and ever unrevealed, * And if thou dare

gainsay me Earth shall no more bear thee, ah !

226 Alf Laylah wa Laylah.

And if, despite my warning, thou dost to such words return * Death's Mes-
senger 1 shall go his rounds and dead declare thee, ah !

Soon shall the wold's fierce chilling blast o'erblow that corse o' thine ; * And
birds o' the wild with ravening bills and beaks shall tear thee, ah !

Return to righteous course ; perchance that same will profit thee ; * If bent on
wilful aims and lewd I fain forswear thee, ah !

When she had made an end of her writing this, she cast the writ from
her hand in wrath, and the old woman picked it up and went with
it to Ardashir. When he read it to the last he knew that she had
not softened to him, but only redoubled in rage against him, and
that he would never win to meet her, so he bethought himself
to write her an answer invoking Allah's help against her. There-
upon he indited these couplets :

Lord, by the Five Shaykhs, I pray deliver me * From love, which gars me

bear such grief and misery.
Thou knowest what I bear for passion's fiery flame ; * What stress of sickness

for that merciless maid I dree.
She hath no pity on the pangs to me decreed * How long on weakly wight

shall last her tyranny ?

1 am distraught for her with passing agonies * And find no friend, folk ! to

hear my plaint and plea.
How long, when Night hath drooped her pinions o'er the world * Shall I lament

in public as in privacy?
For love of you I cannot find forgetfulness ; * And how forget when Patience

taketh wings to flee ?
O thou wild parting-bird 2 say is she safe and sure * From shift and change

of time and the world's cruelty ?

Then he folded the scroll and gave it to the old woman, adding a
purse of five hundred dinars ; and she took it and carried it to the
Princess, who read it to the end and learned its purport. Then,
casting it from her hand, she cried, " Tell me O wicked old woman,
the cause of all that hath befallen me from thee and from thy

1 Arab. Na'i al-maut, the person sent round to announce a death to the friends and
relations of the deceased and invite them to the funeral.

2 Arab. Tair al-bayn, any bird, not only the Hatim or black crow, which announces
separation. Crows and ravens flock for food to the camps broken up for the springtide
and autumnal marches, and thus become emblems of desertion and desolation. The
same birds are also connected with Abel's burial in the Koran (v. 34), a Jewish tradition
borrowed by Mohammed. Lastly, here is a paranomasia in the words " Ghurab al-
Bayn" = Raven of the Wold (the black bird with white breast and red beak and legs) :
"Ghurab" (Heb. Oreb) connects with Ghurbah = strangerhood, exile, and " Bayn "
with distance, interval, disunion, the desert (between the cultivated spots). There is
another and a similar pun anent the Ban-tree; the first word meaning "he fared, he

Ardashir and Hay at al-NuJus. 227

cunning and thine advocacy of him, so that thou hast made me
write letter after letter and thou ceasest not to carry messages,
going and coming between us twain, till thou hast brought about a
correspondence and a connection. Thou leavest not to say: I
will ensure thee against his mischief and cut off from thee his
speech ; but thou speakest not thus save only to the intent that I may
continue to write thee letters and thou to fetch and carry between
us, evening and morning, till thou ruin my repute. Woe to thee !
Ho, eunuchs, seize her ! Then Hayat al-Nufus commanded them
to beat her, and they lashed her till her whole body flowed with
blood and she fainted away, whereupon the King's daughter caused
her slave-women to drag her forth by the feet and cast her without
the palace and bade one of them stand by her head till she re-
covered, and say to her, " The Princess hath sworn an oath that
thou shalt never return to and re-enter this palace ; and she hath
commanded to slay thee without mercy an thou dare return
hither." So, when she came to herself, the damsel told her what
the King's daughter said and she answered, " Hearkening and
obedience." Presently the slave-girls fetched a basket and a porter
whom they caused carry her to her own house ; and they sent after
her a physician, bidding him tend her assiduously till she recovered.
He did what he was told to do and as soon as she was whole she
mounted and rode to the shop of Ardashir who was concerned
with sore concern for her absence and was longing for news of
her. As soon as he saw her, he sprang up and coming to meet
her, saluted her ; then he noticed that she was weak and ailing ;
so he questioned her of her case and she told him all that had
befallen her from her nursling. When he heard this, he found it
grievous and smote hand upon hand, saying, " By Allah, O my
mother, this that hath betided thee straiteneth my heart! But,
what, O my mother, is the reason of the Princess's hatred to
men ? " Replied the old woman, " Thou must know O my son,
that she hath a beautiful garden, than which there is naught good-
lier on earth's face and it chanced that she lay there one night. In
the joyance of sleep, she dreamt a dream and 'twas this, that she
went down into the garden, where she saw a fowler set up his net
and strew corn thereabout, after which he withdrew and sat down
afar off to await what game should fall into it. Ere an hour had
passed the birds flocked to pick up the corn and a male pigeon l

1 Arab. "Tayr," any flying thing, a bird; with true Arab carelessness the writer
waits till the tale is nearly ended before letting us know (hat the birds are pigeon*

228 Alf Laylah wa Laylah.

fell into the net and struggled in it, whereat all the others took
fright and fled from him. His mate was amongst them, but she
returned to him after the shortest delay ; and, coming up to the net,
sought out the mesh wherein his foot was entangled and ceased
not to peck at it with her bill, till she severed it and released her
husband, with whom she flew away. All this while, the fowler sat
dozing, and when he awoke, he looked at the net and found it
spoilt. So he mended it and strewed fresh grain, then withdrew
to a distance and sat down to watch it again. The birds soon
returned and began to pick up the corn, and among the rest the
pair of pigeons. Presently, the she-pigeon fell into the net and
struggled to get free ; whereupon all the other birds flew away, and
her mate, whom she had saved, fled with the rest and did not
return to her. Meantime, sleep had again overcome the fowler ;
and, when he awoke after long slumbering, he saw the she-pigeon
caught in the net j so he went up to her and freeing her feet from
the meshes, cut her throat. The Princess startled by the dream
awoke troubled, and said : Thus do men with women, for women
have pity on men and throw away their lives for them, when they
are in difficulties ; but if the Lord decree against a woman and she
fall into calamity, her mate deserteth her and rescueth her not,
and wasted is that which she did with him of kindness. Allah
curse her who putteth her trust in men, for they ill requite the fair
offices which women do them ! And from that day she conceived
an hatred to men." Said the King's son, " O my mother, doth
she never go out into the highways ? "; and the old woman replied,
" Nay, O my son ; but I will tell thee somewhat wherein, Allah
willing, there shall be profit for thee. She hath a garden which is of
the goodliest pleasaunces of the age ; and every year, at the time of
the ripening of the fruits, she goeth thither and taketh her pleasure
therein only one day, nor layeth the night but in her pavilion. She
entereth the garden by the private wicket of the palace which leadeth
thereto ; and thou must know that it wanteth now but a month
to the time of her going forth. So take my advice and
hie thee this very day to the keeper of that garden and
make acquaintance with him and gain his good graces, for he
admitteth not one of Allah's creatures into the garth, because of
its communication with the Princess's palace. I will let thee
know two days beforehand of the day fixed for her coming forth,
when do thou repair to the garden, as of thy wont, and make
shift to night there. When the King's daughter cometh be thou

Ardashir and Hay at al-Nufus. 229

hidden in some place or other ; And Shahrazad perceived the

dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

Jiofo fo&cn it foas t&e Seben 3unl>re& anb

She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the
old woman charged the King's son, saying, " I will let thee know
two days beforehand of the King's daughter going down to the
garden : do thou hide thee in some place or other ; and, vyhen thou
espiest her, come forth and show thyself to her. When she
seeth thee, she will fall in love with thee ; for thou art fair to
look upon and love covereth all things. So keep thine eyes cool
and clear 1 and be of good cheer, O my son, for needs must I
bring about union between thee and her." The young Prince
kissed her hand and thanked her and gave her three pieces of
Alexandrian silk and three of satin of various colours, and with
each piece, linen for shifts and stuff for trousers and a kerchief for
the turband and fine white cotton cloth of Ba'albak for the linings,
so as to make her six complete suits, each handsomer than its
sister. Moreover, he gave her a purse containing six hundred
gold pieces and said to her, " This is for the tailoring." She took
the whole and said to him, " O my son, art thou not pleased to
acquaint me with thine abiding-place and I also will show thee the
way to my lodging ? " " Yes," answered he and sent a Mameluke
with her to note her home and show her his own house. Then he
rose and bidding his slaves shut the shop, went back to the
Wazir, to whom he related all that had passed between him and
the old woman, from first to last. Quoth the Minister, " O my
son, should the Princess Hayat al-Nufus come out and look upon
thee and thou find no favour with her what wilt thou do ? "
Quoth Ardashir, " There will be nothing left but to pass from
words to deeds and risk my life with her ; for I will snatch her
up from amongst her attendants and set her behind me on a
swift horse and make for the wildest of the wold. If I escape, I
shall have won my wish and if I perish, I shall be at rest from

1 Arab. " Karr 'aynan." The Arabs say, "Allah cool thine eye," because tears of
grief are hot and those of joy cool (Al-Asma'i) ; others say the cool eye is opposed to
that heated by watching ; and Al- Hariri (Ass. xxvii.) makes a scorching afternoon
"hotter than the tear of a childless mother." In the burning climate of Arabia coolth
and refrigeration are equivalent to refreshment and delight.

230 Alf Laylah wa Laylah.

this hateful life." Rejoined the Minister, " O my son, dost thou
think to do this thing and live ? How shall we make our escape,
seeing that our country is far distant, and how wilt thou deal
thus with a King of the Kings of the Age, who hath under his
hand an hundred thousand horse, nor can we be sure but that he
will despatch some of his troops to cut off our way ? Verily,
there is no good in this project which no wise man would
attempt." Asked Ardashir, " And how then shall we do, O Wazir
of good counsel ? For unless I win her I am a dead man without
a chance." The Minister answered, " Wait till to-morrow when
we will visit this garden and note its condition and see what
betideth us with the care-taker." So when the morning morrowed
they took a thousand dinars in a poke and, repairing to the
garden, found it compassed about with high walls and strong, rich
in trees and rill-full leas and goodly fruiteries. And indeed its
flowers breathed perfume and its birds warbled amid the bloom as
it were a garden of the gardens of Paradise. Within the door
sat a Shaykh, an old man on a stone bench and they saluted him.
When he saw them and noted the fairness of their favour, he rose
to his feet after returning their salute, and said, " O my lords, per-
chance ye have a wish which we may have the honour of satisfying ? "
Replied the Wazir, " Know, O elder, that we are strangers and the
heat hath overcome us : our lodging is afar off at the other end
of the city ; so we desire of thy courtesy that thou take these two
dinars and buy us somewhat of provaunt and open us meanwhile
the door of this flower garden and seat us in some shaded place,
where there is cold water, that we may cool ourselves there,
against thou return with the provision, when we will eat, and thou
with us, and then, rested and refreshed, we shall wend our ways."
So saying, he pulled out of his pouch a couple of dinars and put
them into the keeper's hand. Now this care-taker was a man
aged three-score and ten, who had never in all his life possessed
so much money : " So, when he saw the two dinars in his hand,
he was like to fly for joy and rising forthwith opened the
garden gate to the Prince and the Wazir, and made them enter
and sit down under a wide-spreading, fruit-laden, shade-affording
tree, saying, " Sit ye here and go no further into the garden, for
it hath a privy door communicating with the palace of the
Princess Hayat al-Nufus." They replied, "We will not stir
hence." Whereupon he went out to buy what they had ordered
and returned after awhile, with a porter bearing on his head a

Ardashir and Hay at al-Nufus. 231

roasted lamb and bread. They ate and drank together and
talked awhile, till, presently, the Wazir, looking about him in all
corners right and left, caught sight of a lofty pavilion at the
farther end of the garden ; but it was old and the plaster was
peeled from its walls and its buttresses were broken down. So
he said to the Gardener, " O Shaykh, is this garden thine own or
dost thou hire it ? " ; and he replied, " I am neither owner nor
tenant of the garden, only its care-taker." Asked the Minister,
" And what is thy wage ? " whereto the old man answered, " A
dinar a month," and quoth the Wazir, " Verily they wrong thee,
especially an thou have a family." Quoth the elder, " By Allah,
O my lord, I have eight children and I " The Wazir broke in,
" There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the
Glorious, the Great ! Thou makest me bear thy grief my poor
fellow ! What wouldst thou say of him who should do thee a
good turn, on account of this family of thine ? " Replied the old
man, " O my lord, whatsoever good thou dost shall be garnered
up for thee with God the Most High ! " Thereupon said the
Wazir, " O Shaykh, thou knowest this garden of thine to be a
goodly place ; but the pavilion yonder is old and ruinous. Now I
mean to repair it and stucco it anew and paint it handsomely, so
that it will be the finest thing in the garth ; and when the owner
comes and finds the pavilion restored and beautified, he will not
fail to question thee concerning it. Then do thou say : O my
lord, at great expense I set it in repair, for that I saw it in ruins
and none could make use of it nor could anyone sit therein. If
he says : Whence hadst thou the money for this ? reply, I spent of
my own money upon the stucco, thereby thinking to whiten my
face with thee and hoping for thy bounties. And needs must he
recompense thee fairly over the extent of thine expenses. To-
morrow I will bring builders and plasterers and painters to repair
this pavilion and will give thee what I promised thee." Then he
pulled out of his poke a purse of five hundred dinars and gave it
to the Gardener, saying, "Take these gold pieces and expend
them upon thy family and let them pray for me and for this my
son." Thereupon the Prince asked the Wazir, " What is the
meaning of all this ? " and he answered, " Thou shalt presently

see the issue thereof." And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of

day and ceased to say her permitted say.

232 A If Laylah wa Laylah,

Hofo toljen ft foas t&e &cben $^un'&re& atrti Sfoentg-sfxt!)

She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when
the Wazir gave five hundred ducats to the old Gardener, saying,
" Take these gold pieces and expend them upon thy family and
let them pray for this my son," the old man looked at the gold
and his wits fled ; so he fell down at the Wazir's feet, kissing them
and invoking blessings on him and his son ; and when they went
away, he said to them, " I shall expect you to-morrow : for by
Allah Almighty, there must be no parting between us, night or
day." Next morning the Wazir went to the Prince's shop and
sent for the syndic of the builders ; then he carried him and his
men to the garth, where the Gardener rejoiced in their sight. He
gave them the price of rations 1 and what was needful to the work-
men for the restoration of the pavilion, and they repaired it and
stucco'd it and decorated it. Then said the Minister to the
painters, " Harkye, my masters, listen to my words and apprehend
my wish and my aim. Know that I have a garden like this, where
I was sleeping one night among the nights and saw in a dream a
fowler set up nets and sprinkle corn thereabout. The birds flocked
to pick up the grain, and a cock-bird fell into the net, whereupon the
others took fright and flew away, and amongst the rest his mate :
but, after awhile, she returned alone and picked at the mesh that
held his feet, till she set him free and they flew away together.
Now the fowler had fallen asleep and, when he awoke, he found
the net empty ; so he mended it and strewing fresh grain sat down
afar off, waiting for game to fall into that snare. Presently the
birds assembled again to pick up the grains, and amongst the rest
the two pigeons. By-and-by, the hen-bird fell into the net, when
all the other birds took fright at her and flew away, and her
husband flew with them and did not return ; whereupon the fowler
came up and taking the quarry, cut her throat. Now, when her
mate flew away with the others, a bird of raven seized him and
slew him and ate his flesh and drank his blood, and I would have

1 Arab. " Muunah," the " Mona " of Maroccan travellers (English not Italian who
are scandalised by "Mona") meaning the provisions supplied gratis by the unhappy
villagers to all who visit them with passport from the Sultan. Our cousins German
have lately scored a great success by paying for all their rations which the Ministers of
other nations, England included, were mean enough to accept.

Ardashir and Hay at al-Nufus. 233

you pourtray me the presentment of this my dream, even as I have
related it to you, in the liveliest colours, laying the fair scene in
this rare garden, with its walls and trees and rills, and dwell
especially on the fowler and the falcon. If ye do this I have set
forth to you and the work please me, I will give you what shall
gladden your hearts, over and above your wage." The painters,
hearing these words, applied themselves with all diligence to do
what he required of them and wrought it out in masterly style ;
and when they had made an end of the work, they showed it to
the Wazir who, seeing his so-called dream set forth as it was 1
was pleased and thanked them and rewarded them munificently.
Presently, the Prince came in, according to his custom, and
entered the pavilion, unweeting what the Wazir had done. So
when he saw the portraiture of the fowler and the birds and the
net and beheld the male pigeon in the clutches of the hawk, which
had slain him and was drinking his blood and eating his flesh, his
understanding was confounded and he returned to the Minister
and said, " O Wazir of good counsel, I have seen this day a marvel
which, were it graven with needlegravers on the eye-corners would
be a warner to whoso will be warned ?" Asked the Minister, " And
what is that, O my lord ? "; and the Prince answered, " Did I not
tell thee of the dream the Princess had and how it was the cause
of her hatred for men ? " "Yes," replied the Wazir ; and Ardashir
rejoined, " By Allah, O Minister, I have seen the whole dream
pourtrayed in painting, as I had eyed it with mine own eyes ;
but I found therein a circumstance which was hidden from the
Princess, so that she saw it not, and 'tis upon this that I rely for
the winning of my wish." Quoth the Wazir, " And what is that,
O my son ? "; and quoth the Prince, " I saw that, when the male
bird flew away ; and, leaving his mate entangled in the net, failed
to return and save her, a falcon pounced on him and slaying him,
ate his flesh and drank his blood. Would to Heaven the Princess
had seen the whole of the dream and had beheld the cause of his
failure to return and rescue her ! " Replied the Wazir, " By Allah,

1 Arab. "Kaannahu huwa"; lit. = as he (was) he. This reminds us of the great
grammarian, Sibawayh, whose name the Persians derive from " Apple-flavour (Sib + bu).
He was disputing, in presence of Harun al-Rashid with a rival Al-Kisa'f, and advocated
the Basrian form, " Fa-iza huwa hu " (behold, it was he) against the Kufan, " Fa-iza huwa
iyyahu " (behold, it was him). The enemy overcame him by appealing to Badawin, who
spoke impurely, whereupon Sibawayh left the court, retired to Khorasan and died, it is
said of a broken heart.

234 Alf Laylah wa Laylah.

O auspicious King, this is indeed a rare thing and a wonderful ! "
And the King's son ceased not to marvel at the picture and lament
that the King's daughter had not beheld the dream to its end,
saying in himself, " Would she had seen it to the last or might see
the whole over again, though but in the imbroglio of sleep ! "
Then quoth the Wazir to him, " Thou saidst to me : Why wilt
thou repair the pavilion?; and I replied: Thou shalt presently
see the issue thereof. And behold, now its issue thou seest ; for
it was I did this deed and bade the painters pourtray the Princess's
dream thus and paint the male bird in the pounces of the falcon
which eateth his flesh and drinketh his blood ; so that when she
cometh to the pavilion, she will behold her dream depicted and see
how the cock-pigeon was slain and excuse him and turn from her
hate for men." When the Prince heard the Wazir's words, he
kissed his hands and thanked him, saying, " Verily, the like of
thee is fit to be Minister to the most mighty King, and, by Allah,
an I win my wish and return to my sire, rejoicing, I will assuredly
acquaint him with this, that he may redouble in honouring thee
and advance thee in dignity and hearken to thine every word."
So the Wazir kissed his hand and they both went to the old
Gardener and said, " Look at yonder pavilion and see how fine it
is ! " And he replied, " This is all of your happy thought." Then
said they, " O elder, when the owners of the place question thee
concerning the restoration of the pavilion, say thou : 'Twas I did
it of my own monies; to the intent that there may betide thee fair
favour and good fortune." He said, " I hear and I obey "; and
the Prince continued to pay him frequent visits. Such was the
case with the Prince and the Wazir ; but as regards Hayat
al-Nufus, when she ceased to receive the Prince's letters and
messages and when the old woman was absent from her, she
rejoiced with joy exceeding and concluded that the young man
had returned to his own country. One day, there came to her a
covered tray from her father ; so she uncovered it and finding
therein fine fruits, asked her waiting-women, " Is the season of
these fruits come ? " Answered they, " Yes." Thereupon she
cried, " Would we might make ready to take our pleasure in the

flower-garden ! " And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day

and ceased saying her permitted say.

Ardashir and Hay at al-Nufus. 235

Nofo fofjen tt teas tfje &ebtn f^utrtirrtj anfc 2FfoentB.sebmt&

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Princess,
after receiving the fruit from her sire, asked, " Is the season of
these fruits set in ? "; and they answered, " Yes ! " Thereupon she
cried, " Would we might make ready to take our pleasure in the
flower-garden ! " " O my lady," they replied, " thou sayest well,
and by Allah, we also long for the garden ! " So she enquired,
" How shall we do, seeing that every year it is none save my nurse

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 24 of 40)