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 25 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 25 of 40)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

who taketh us to walk in the garden and who pointeth out to us
the various trees and plants ; and I have beaten her and forbidden
her from me ? Indeed, I repent me of what was done by me to
her, for that, in any case, she is my nurse and hath over me the
right of fosterage. But there is no Majesty and there is no Might
save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!" When her handmaids
heard this, they all sprang up ; and, kissing the ground between
her hands, exclaimed, "Allah upon thee, O my lady, do thou
pardon her and bid her to the presence ! " ; and quoth she, " By
Allah, I am resolved upon this ; but which of you will go to her,
for I have prepared her a splendid robe of honour ? " Hereupon
two damsels came forward, by name Bulbul and Siwad al-'Ayn,
who were comely and graceful and the principals among the
Princess's women, and her favourites. And they said, " We will
go to her, O King's daughter ! " ; and she said, " Do what seemeth
good to you." So they went to the house of the nurse and
knocked at the door and entered ; and she, recognising the twain,
received them with open arms and welcomed them. When they
had sat awhile with her, they said to her, " O nurse, the Princess
pardoneth thee and desireth to take thee back into favour." She
replied, " This may never be, though I drink the cup of ruin !
Hast thou forgotten how she put me to shame before those who
love me and those who hate me, when my clothes were dyed with
my blood and I well nigh died for stress of beating, and after this
they dragged me forth by the feet, like a dead dog, and cast me
without the door ? So by Allah, I will never return to her nor fill
my eyes with her sight ! " Quoth the two girls, " Disappoint not
our pains in coming to thee nor send us away unsuccessful.
Where is thy courtesy uswards ? Think but who it is that cometh
in to visit thee : canst thou wish for any higher of standing than
we with the King's daughter ?" She replied, " I take refuge with

236 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

Allah : well I wot that my station is less than yours ; were it not
that the Princess's favour exalted me above all her women, so
that, were I wroth with the greatest of them, she had died in her
skin of fright." They rejoined, " All is as it was and naught is in
anywise changed. Indeed, 'tis better than before, for the Princess
humbleth herself to thee and seeketh a reconciliation without
intermediary." Said the old woman, " By Allah, were it not for
your presence and intercession with me, I had never returned to
her; no, not though she had commanded to slay me!" They
thanked her for this and she rose and dressing herself accom-
panied them to the palace. Now when the King's daughter saw
her, she sprang to her feet in honour, and the old woman said,
" Allah ! Allah ! O King's daughter, say me, whose was the fault,
mine or thine ? " Hayat al-Nufus replied, " The fault was mine,
and 'tis thine to pardon and forgive. By Allah, O my nurse, thy
rank is high with me and thou hast over me the right of fosterage ;
but thou knowest that Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) hath
allotted to His creatures four things, disposition, life, daily bread
and death ; nor is it in man's power to avert that which is decreed.
Verily, I was beside myself and could not recover my senses ; but,

my nurse, I repent of what deed I did." With' this, the crone's
anger ceased from her and she rose and kissed the ground before
the Princess, who called for a costly robe of honour and threw it
over her, whereat she rejoiced with exceeding joy in the presence
of the Princess's slaves and women. When all ended thus happily,
Hayat al-Nufus said to the old woman, " O my nurse, how go the
fruits and growths of our garth ? " ; and she replied, " O my lady,

1 see excellent fruits in the town ; but I will enquire of this matter
and return thee an answer this very day." Then she withdrew,
honoured with all honour and betook herself to Ardashir, who
received her with open arms and embraced her and rejoiced in her
coming, for that he had expected her long and longingly. She
told him all that had passed between herself and the Princess and
how her mistress was minded to go down into the garden on such
a day. - And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased
to say her permitted say.

Nofo foj&en it foas t&e &ebm f^un&rrtr an&

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the
old woman betook herself to the Prince and told him all that had

Ardashir and Hay at al-Nufus. 237

passed between herself and the Princess Hayat al-Nufus ; and
how her mistress was minded to go down into the garden on such
a day and said to him, " Hast thou done as I bade thee with the
Warder of the garden and hast thou made him taste of thy
bounties ? " He replied, " Yes, and the oldster is become my good
friend : my way is his way and he would well I had need of him."
Then he told her all that had happened and of the dream-paintings
which the Wazir had caused to be limned in the pavilion ; especially
of the fowler, the net and the falcon : whereat she joyed with great
joy and said, "Allah upon thee, do thou set thy Minister midmost
thy heart, for this that he hath done pointeth to the keenness of
his wit and he hath helped thee to the winning thy wish. So rise
forthright, O my son, and go to the Hammam-bath and don thy
daintiest dress, wherein may be our success. Then fare thou to
the Gardener and make shift to pass the night in the garden, for
though he should give the earth full of gold none may win to pass
into it, whilst the King's daughter is therein. When thou hast
entered, hide thee where no eye may espy thee and keep concealed
till thou hear me cry : O Thou whose boons are hidden, save us
from that we fear! Then come forth from thine ambush and
walk among the trees and show thy beauty and loveliness which
put the moons to shame, to the intent that Princess Hayat al-
Nufus may see thee and that her heart and soul may be filled
with love of thee ; so shalt thou attain to thy wish and thy grief
be gone." " To hear is to obey," replied the young Prince and
gave her a purse of a thousand dinars, which she took and went
away. Thereupon Ardashir fared straight for the bath and
washed ; after which he arrayed himself in the richest of robes
of the apparel of the Kings of the Chosroes and girt his middle
with a girdle wherein were conjoined all manner precious stones
and donned a turband inwoven with red gold and purfled with
pearls and gems. His cheeks shone rosy-red and his lips were
scarlet ; his eyelids like the gazelle's wantoned ; like a wine-struck
wight in his gait he swayed ; beauty and loveliness garbed him,
and his shape shamed the bowing of the bough. Then he put in
his pocket a purse containing a thousand dinars and, repairing to
the flower-garden, knocked at the door. The Gardener opened
to him and rejoicing with great joy salamed to him in most
worshipful fashion; then, observing that his face was overcast,
he asked him how he did. The King's son answered, " Know, O
elder, that I am dear to my father and he never laid his hand on

238 A If Lay I ah wa Lay I ah.

me till this day, when words arose between us and he abused me
and smote me on the face and struck me with his staff and drave
me away. Now I have no friend to turn to and I fear the perfidy
of Fortune, for thou knowest that the wrath of parents is no light
thing. Wherefore I come to thee, O uncle, seeing that to my
father thou art known, and I desire of thy favour that thou suffer
me abide in the garden till the end of the day, or pass the night
there, till Allah grant good understanding between myself and
my sire." When the old man heard these words he was concerned
anent what had occurred and said, " O my lord, dost thou give me
leave to go to thy sire and be the means of reconciliation between
thee and him?" Replied Ardashir, "O uncle, thou must know
that my father is of impatient nature, and irascible ; so an thou
proffer him reconciliation in his heat of temper he will make thee
no answer ; but when a day or two shall have passed, his heat
will soften. Then go thou in to him and thereupon he will
relent." " Hearkening and obedience," quoth the Gardener ;
"but, O my lord, do thou come with me to my house, where
thou shalt night with my children and my family and none shall
reproach this to us." Quoth Ardashir, " O uncle, I must be alone
when I am angry." 1 The old man said, " It irketh me that thou
shouldst lie solitary in the garden, when I have a house." But
Ardashir said, " O uncle, I have an aim in this, that the trouble of
my mind may be dispelled from me and I know that in this lies
the means of regaining his favour and softening his heart
to me." Rejoined the Gardener, " I will fetch thee a carpet
to sleep on and a coverlet wherewith to cover thee ; " and
the Prince said, "There is no harm in that, O uncle." So the
keeper rose and opened the garden to him, and brought him
the carpet and coverlet, knowing not that the King's daughter
was minded to visit the garth. On this wise fared it with the
Prince ; but as regards the nurse, she returned to the Princess
and told her that the fruits were kindly ripe on the garden trees ;
whereupon she said, " O my nurse, go down with me to-morrow
into the garden, that we may walk about in it and take our

1 This is a sign of the Saudawl or melancholic temperament in which black bile
predominates. It is supposed to cause a distaste for society and a longing for solitude,
an unsettled habit of mind and neglect of worldly affairs. I remarked that in Arabia
students are subject to it, and that amongst philosophers and literary men of Mecca
and Al-Medinah there was hardly one who was not spoken of as a "Saudawi." See
Pilgrimage ii. 49, 50.

Ardashir and Hay at al-Nufus. 239

pleasure, Inshallah ; and send meanwhile to the Gardener, to let
him know what we purpose." So she sent to the Gardener to
say : The Princess will visit the parterre to-morrow, so leave
neither water-carriers nor tree-tenders therein, nor let one of
Allah's creatures enter the garth. When word came to him, he
set his water-ways and channels in order and, going to Ardashir,
said to him, "O my lord, the King's daughter is mistress of this
garden ; and I have only to crave thy pardon, for the place is
thy place and I live only in thy favours, except that my tongue
is under thy feet. 1 I must tell thee that the Princess Hayat al-
Nufus hath a mind to visit it to-morrow at the first of the day and
hath bidden me leave none therein who might look upon her.
So I would have thee of thy favour go forth of the garden this
day, for the Queen will abide only in it till the time of mid-after-
noon prayer and after it shall be at thy service for se'nnights and
fortnights, months and years." Ardashir asked, " O elder, haply
we have caused thee some mishap ? " ; and the other answered,
" By Allah, O my lord, naught hath betided me from thee but
honour ! " Rejoined the Prince, " An it be so, nothing but all
good shall befal thee through us ; for I will hide in the garden
and none shall espy me, till the King's daughter hath gone back
to her palace." Said the Gardener, " O my lord, an she espy
the shadow of a man in the garden or any of Allah's male
creatures she will strike off my head ; " And Shahrazad per-
ceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

Jiofo fofjen it foas tfce &eb*n f^unUrrti anto {foentp - mmi)

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when
the Gardener said to the Prince, " An the King's daughter espy
the shadow of a man in her garden, she will strike off my head ; "
the youth replied, " Have no fear, I will on no wise let any see
me. But doubtless to-day thou lackest of spending-money for
thy family." Then he put his hand to his purse and pulled out
five hundred ducats, which he gave to him saying, " Take this
gold and lay it out on thy family, that thy heart may be at ease
concerning them." When the Shaykh looked upon the gold, his

1 i.e. I am a servant and bound to tell thee what my orders are.

240 A If Lay la k wa Laylah.

life seemed a light thing to him 1 and he suffered the Prince to
tarry where he was, charging him straitly not to show himself in
the garden. Then he left him loitering about. Meanwhile, when
the eunuchs went in to the Princess at break of day, she bade
open the private wicket leading from the palace to the parterres
and donned a royal robe, embroidered with pearls and jewels and
gems, over a shift of fine silk purfled with rubies. Under the
whole was that which tongue refuseth to explain, whereat was
confounded the brain and whose love would embrave the craven's
strain. On her head she set a crown of red gold, inlaid with
pearls and gems and she tripped in pattens of cloth of gold,
embroidered with fresh pearls 2 and adorned with all manner
precious stones. Then she put her hand upon the old woman's
shoulder and commanded to go forth by the privy door ; but the
nurse looked at the garden and, seeing it full of eunuchs and
handmaids walking about, eating the fruits and troubling the
streams and taking their ease of sport and pleasure in the
water said to the Princess, " O my lady, is this a garden or a
madhouse ? " Quoth the Princess, " What meaneth thy speech, O
nurse ? " ; and quoth the old woman, " Verily the garden is full
of slave-girls and eunuchs, eating of the fruits and troubling
the streams and scaring the birds and hindering us from
taking our ease and sporting and laughing and what not
else ; and thou hast no need of them. Wert thou going forth of
thy palace into the highway, this would be fitting, as an honour
and a ward to thee ; but, now, O my lady, thou goest forth of the
wicket into the garden, where none of Almighty Allah's creatures
may look on thee." Rejoined the Princess, " By Allah, O nurse
mine, thou sayst sooth ! But how shall we do ? " ; and the old
woman said, " Bid the eunuchs send them all away and keep only
two of the slave-girls, that we may make merry with them. So
she dismissed them all, with the exception of two of her hand-
maids who were most in favour with her. But when the old
woman saw that her heart was light and that the season was
pleasant to her, she said to her, " Now we can enjoy ourselves
aright : so up and let us take our pleasance in the garden/* The

* A touching lesson how tribes settle matters in the East.

2 i.e. fresh from water (Arab. " Rutub "), before the air can tarnish them. The
pearl (margarita) in Arab is Lu'lu' ; the "unio" or large pearl Durr, plur. Durar. In
modern parlance Durr is the second quality of the twelve into which pearls are

Ardashir and Hay at al-Nufus. 24!

Princess put her hand upon her shoulder and went out by the
private door. The two waiting-women walked in front and she
followed them laughing at them and swaying gracefully to and
fro in her ample robes ; whilst the nurse forewent her, showing
her the trees and feeding her with fruits ; and so they fared on
from place to place, till they came to the pavilion, which when
the King's daughter beheld and saw that it had been restored,
she asked the old woman, " O my nurse, seest thou yonder
pavilion ? It hath been repaired and its walls whitened." She
answered, " By Allah, O my lady, I heard say that the keeper of
the garden had taken stuffs of a company of merchants and sold
them and bought bricks and lime and plaster and stones and so
forth with the price ; so I asked him what he had done with all
this, and he said : I have repaired the pavilion which lay in
ruins, presently adding : And when the merchants sought their
due of me, I said to them, Wait tiH the Princess visit the
garden and see the repairs and they satisfy her ; then will I
take of her what she is pleased to bestow on me, and pay you
what is your due. Quoth I What moved thee to do this
thing?; and quoth he: I saw the pavilion in ruins, the coigns
thrown down and the stucco peeled from the walls, and none had
the grace to repair it ; so I borrowed the coin on my own account
and restored the place ; and I trust in the King's daughter to deal
with me as befitteth her dignity. I said : The Princess is all
goodness and generosity and will no doubt requite thee. And
he did all this but in hopes of thy bounty." Replied the Prin-
cess, " By Allah, he hath dealt nobly in rebuilding it and hath
done the deed of generous men ! Call me my purse-keeperess."
The old woman accordingly fetched the purse-keeperess, whom the
Princess bade give the Gardener two thousand dinars ; whereupon
the nurse sent to him, bidding him to the presence of the King's
daughter. But when the messenger said to him, " Obey the
Queen's order," the Gardener felt feeble and, trembling in every
joint, said in himself, Doubtless, the Princess hath seen the young
man, and this day will be the most unlucky of days for me." So
he went home and told his wife and children what had happened
and gave them his last charges and farewelled them, while they
wept for and with him. Then he presented himself before the
Princess, with a face the colour of turmeric and ready to fall flat
at full length. The old woman remarked his plight and hastened
to forestall him, saying," O Shaykh, kiss the earth in thanksgiving

242 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

to Almighty Allah and be constant in prayer to Him for the
Princess. I told her what thou didst in the matter of repairing
the ruined pavilion, and she rejoiceth in this and bestoweth on
thee two thousand dinars in requital of thy pains ; so take them
from the purse-keeperess and kiss the earth before the King's
daughter and bless her and wend thy way." Hearing these words
he took the gold and kissed the ground before Hayat al-Nufus,
calling down blessings on her. Then he returned to his house,
and his family rejoiced in him and blessed him * who had been
the prime cause of this business. - And Shahrazad perceived the
dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

Nofo fofcen tt foas tfje &tbm ^un&rrtr anfc fjfrtfet&

She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when
the Care-taker took the two thousand ducats from the Princess and
returned to his house, all his family rejoiced in him and blessed
him who had been the prime cause of this business. Thus it fared
with these ; but as regards the old woman, she said to the Princess,
" O my lady, this is indeed become a fine place ! Never saw I a
purer white than its plastering nor properer than its painting!
I wonder if he have also repaired it within : else hath he made
the outside white and left the inside black. Come, let us enter
and inspect." So they went in, the nurse preceding, and found
the interior painted and gilded in the goodliest way. The
Princess looked right and left, till she came to the upper end
of the estrade, when she fixed her eyes upon the wall and gazed
long and earnestly thereat ; whereupon the old woman knew that
her glance had lighted on the presentment of her dream and took
the two waiting-women away with her, that they might not divert
her mind. When the King's daughter had made an end of
examining the painting, she turned to the old woman, wondering
and beating hand on hand, and said to her, " O my nurse, come,
see a wondrous thing which were it graven with needle-gravers
on the eye corners would be a warner to whoso will be warned.'*
She replied, " And what is that, O my lady ? "; when the Princess
rejoined, " Go, look at the upper end of the estrade, and tell me
what thou seest there." So she went up and considered the
dream-drawing : then she came down, wondering, and said, " By

1 i.e. the Wazir, but purposely left vague.

Ardashir and Hayat al-Nufus. 243

Allah, O my lady, here is depicted the garden and the fowler
and his net and the birds and all thou sawest in thy dream ; and
verily, nothing but urgent need withheld the male pigeon from
returning to free his mate after he had fled her, for I see him in
the talons of a bird of raven which hath slaughtered him and is
drinking his blood and rending his flesh and eating it ; and this,

my lady, caused his tarrying to return and rescue her from the
net. But, O my mistress, the wonder is how thy dream came to
be thus depicted, for, wert thou minded to set it forth in painture,
thou hadst not availed to portray it. By Allah, this is a marvel
which should be recorded in histories ! Surely, O my lady, the
angels appointed to attend upon the sons of Adam, knew that
the cock-pigeon was wronged of us, because we blamed him for
deserting his mate ; so they embraced his cause and made manifest
his excuse ; and now for the first time we see him in the hawk's
pounces a dead bird." Quoth the Princess, " O my nurse, verily,
Fate and Fortune had course against this bird, and we did him
wrong." Quoth the nurse, " O my mistress, foes shall meet before
Allah the Most High : but, O my lady, verily, the truth hath been
made manifest and the male pigeon's excuse certified to us ; for
had the hawk not seized him and drunk his blood and rent his
flesh he had not held aloof from his mate, but had returned to
her, and set her free from the net ; but against death there is no
recourse, nor, O my lady, is there aught in the world more tenderly
solicitous than the male for the female, among all creatures which
Almighty Allah hath created. And especially 'tis thus with man ;
for he starveth himself to feed his wife, strippeth himself to clothe
her, angereth his family to please her and disobeyeth and denieth
his parents to endow her. She knoweth his secrets and concealetk
them and she cannot endure from him a single hour. 1 An he be
absent from her one night, her eyes sleep not, nor is there a dearer
to her than he : she loveth him more than her parents and they
lie down to sleep in each other's arms, with his hand under her
neck and her hand under his neck, even as saith the poet :

1 made my wrist her pillow and I lay with her in litter ; * And I said to Night

" Be long ! " while the full moon showed glitter :

Ah me, it was a night, Allah never made its like ; * Whose first was
sweetest sweet and whose last was bitt'rest bitter ! 2

1 The whole of the nurse's speech is admirable : its naive and striking picture of
conjugal affection goes far to redeem the grossness of The Nights.
* The bitterness was the parting in the morning.

244 Alf Laylah wa Laylak.

Then he kisseth her and she kisseth him ; and I have heard of a
certain King that, when his wife fell sick and died, he buried
himself alive with her, submitting himself to death, for the love
of her and the strait companionship which was between them.
Moreover, a certain King sickened and died, and when they were
about to bury him, his wife said to her people : Let me bury
myself alive with him : else will I slay myself and my blood shall
be on your heads. So, when they saw she would not be turned
from this thing, they left her, and she cast herself into the grave
with her dead husband, of the greatness of her love and tenderness
for him." And the old woman ceased not to ply the Princess with
anecdotes of conjugal love between men and women, till there
ceased that which was in her heart of hatred for the sex masculine ;
and when she felt that she had succeeded in renewing in her the
natural inclination of woman to man, she said to her, " Tis time
to go and walk in the garden." So they fared forth from the
pavilion and paced among the trees. Presently the Prince chanced
to turn and his eyes fell on Hayat al-Nufus ; and when he saw
the symmetry of her shape and the rosiclearness of her cheeks
and the blackness of her eyes and her exceeding grace and her
passing loveliness and her excelling beauty and her prevailing
elegance and her abounding perfection, his reason was confounded
and he could not take his eyes off her. Passion annihilated his
right judgment and love overpassed all limits in him ; his vitals
were occupied with her service and his heart was aflame with the
fire of repine, so that he swooned away and fell to the ground.
When he came to himself, she had passed from his sight and was

hidden from him among the trees ; And Shahrazad perceived

the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

ttfofo fofcen it foas tfje jbtbtn l^untorrti auto Wits-first

She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when
Prince Ardashir, who lay hid in the garden, saw the Princess and
her nurse walking amongst the trees, he swooned away for very
love-longing. When he came to himself Hayat al-Nufus had
passed from his sight and was hidden from him among the trees ;

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 25 of 40)