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 31 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 31 of 40)
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a handsome youth, than whom on earth's face was none goodlier.
But when King Badr Basim found himself thus restored to his
own form -he cried, " There is no god but the God and Mohammed
is the Apostle of God ! Glory be to the Creator of all creatures
and Provider of their provision, and Ordainer of their life-terms
preordained ! " Then he kissed the King's hand and wished him
long life, and the King kissed his head and said to him, " O Badr
Basim, tell me thy history from commencement to conclusion."
So he told him his whole tale, concealing naught ; and the King
marvelled thereat and said to him, " O Badr Basim, Allah hath
saved thee from the spell : but what hath thy judgment decided
arid what thinkest thou to do ? " Replied he, " O King of the
Age, I desire of thy bounty that thou equip me a ship with a
company of thy servants and all that is needful ; for 'tis long since
I have been absent and I dread lest the kingdom depart from me.
And I misdoubt me my mother is dead of grief for my loss ; and
this doubt is the stronger for that she knoweth not what is come
of me nor whether I am alive or dead. Wherefore, I beseech thee,
O King, to crown thy favours to me by granting me what I seek."
The King, after beholding the beauty and grace of Badr Basim
and listening to his sweet speech, said, " I hear and obey." So he
fitted him out a ship, to which he transported all that was needful

1 This was for sprinkling him, but the texts omit that operation. Arabic has distinct
terms for various forms of metamorphosis. "Naskh" is change from a lower to a
higher, as beast to man ; " Maskh " (the common expression) is the reverse ; " Raskh "
is from animate to inanimate (man to stone) and " Faskh " is absolute wasting away to

Julnar the Sea-born and her Son. 295

and which he manned with a company of his servants ; and Badr
Basim set sail in it, after having taken leave of the King. They
sailed over the sea ten successive days with a favouring wind ; but,
on the eleventh day, the ocean became troubled with exceeding
trouble, the ship rose and fell and the sailors were powerless to
govern her. So they drifted at the mercy of the waves, till the
craft neared a rock in mid-sea which fell upon her * and broke her
up and all on board were drowned, save King Badr Basim who got
astride one of the planks of the vessel, after having been nigh upon
destruction. The plank ceased not to be borne by the set of the
sea, whilst he knew not whither he went and had no means of
directing its motion, as the wind and waves wrought for three
whole days. But on the fourth the plank grounded with him on
the sea-shore where he sighted a white city, as it were a dove
passing white, builded upon a tongue of land that jutted out into
the deep and it was goodly of ordinance, with high towers and
lofty walls against which the waves beat. When Badr Basim saw
this, he rejoiced with exceeding joy, for he was well-nigh dead of
hunger and thirst, and dismounting from the plank, would have
gone up the beach to the city ; but there came down to him mules
and asses and horses, in number as the sea-sands and fell to
striking at him and staying him from landing. So he swam round
to the back of the city, where he waded to shore and entering the
place, found none therein and marvelled at this, saying, " Would
I knew to whom doth this city belong, wherein is no lord nor any
liege, and whence came these mules and asses and horses that
hindered me from landing ? " And he mused over his case. Then
he walked on at hazard till he espied an old man, a grocer. 2 So
he saluted him and the other returned his salam and seeing him to
be a handsome young man, said to him, " O youth, whence comest
thou and what brought thee to this city ? " Badr told him his
story ; at which the old man marvelled and said, " O my son, didst
thou see any on thy way ? " He replied, " Indeed, O my father,
I wondered in good sooth to sight a city void of folk." Quoth the

1 I render this improbable detail literally : it can only mean that the ship was dashed
against a rock.

2 Who was probably squatting on his shop-counter. The "Bakkal" (who must not
be confounded with the fyicier), lit " vender of herbs" = greengrocer, and according
to Richardson used incorrectly for Baddal (?) vendor of provisions.. Popularly it is
applied to a seller of oil, honey, butter and fruit, like the Ital. " Pizzicagnolo " =
Salsamentarius, and in N. West Africa to an inn-keeper.

296 A If Laylah wa Laylah,

Shaykh, " O my son, come up into the shop, lest thou perish." So
Badr Basim went up into the shop and sat down ; whereupon the
old man set before him somewhat of food, saying, " O my son,
enter the inner shop ; glory be to Him who hath preserved thee
from yonder she-Sathanas ! " King Badr Basim was sore affrighted
at the grocer's words ; but he ate his fill and washed his hands ;
then glanced at his host and said to him, " O my lord, what is the
meaning of these words ? Verily thou hast made me fearful of
this city and its folk." Replied the old man, " Know, O my son,
that this is the City of the Magicians and its Queen is as she were
a she-Satan, a sorceress and a mighty enchantress, passing crafty
and perfidious exceedingly. All thou sawest of horses and mules
and asses were once sons of Adam like thee and me ; they were
also strangers, for whoever entereth this city, being a young man
like thyself, this miscreant witch taketh him and hometh him for
forty days, after which she enchanteth him, and he becometh a
mule or a horse or an ass, of those animals thou sawest on the

sea-shore. And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and

ceased to say her permitted say.

Jiofo fo&tn it foas t&t gbeten f^un&rrtr an* ^fft8 - stconU

She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the old
grocer related to King Badr Basim the history of the enchantress
ending with, " All these people hath she spelled ; and, when it was
thy intent to land they feared lest thou be transmewed like them-
selves ; so they counselled thee by signs that said : Land not, of
their solicitude for thee, fearing that haply she should do with thee
like as she had done with them. She possessed herself of this city
and seized it from its citizens by sorcery and her name is Queen
Lab, which being interpreted, meaneth in Arabic ' Almanac of the
Sun.' " 1 When Badr Basim heard what the old man said, he was
affrighted with sore affright and trembled like reed in wind saying
in himself, " Hardly do I feel me free from the affliction wherein I
was by reason of sorcery, when Destiny casteth me into yet sorrier

1 Here the Shaykh is mistaken: he should have said, "The Sun in old Persian."
"Almanac" simply makes nonsense of the Arabian Circe's name. In Arab, it is
"Takwim," whence the Span, and Port. "Tacuino:" in Heb. Hakamatha-Takuuah
= sapientia dispositionis astrorum (Asiat. Research, iii. 120).

Julnar the Sea-born and her Son. 297

case ! " And he fell a-musing over his condition and that which
had betided him. When the Shaykh looked at him and saw the
violence of his terror, he said to him, " O my son, come, sit at the
threshold of the shop and look upon yonder creatures and upon
their dress and complexion and that wherein they are by reason
of gramarye and dread not ; for the Queen and all in the city love
and tender me and will not vex my heart or trouble my mind."
So King Badr Basim came out and sat at the shop-door, looking
out upon the folk ; and there passed by him a world of creatures
without number. But when the people saw him, they accosted the
grocer and said to him, " O elder, is this thy captive and thy prey
gotten in these days ? " The old man replied, " He is my brother's
son, I heard that his father was dead ; so I sent for him and
brought him here that 1 might quench with him the fire of my
home-sickness." Quoth they, "Verily, he is a comely youth; but
we fear for him from Queen Lab, lest she turn on thee with
treachery and take him from thee, for she loveth handsome young
men." Quoth the Shaykh, " The Queen will not gainsay my
commandment, for she loveth and tendereth me ; and when she
shall know that he is my brother's son, she will not molest him or
afflict me in him neither trouble my heart on his account." Then
King Badr Basim abode some months with the grocer, eating and
drinking, and the old man loved him with exceeding love. One
day, as he sat in the shop according to his custom, behold, there
came up a thousand eunuchs, with drawn swords and clad in
various kinds of raiment and girt with jewelled girdles : all rode
Arabian steeds and bore in baldrick Indian blades. They saluted
the grocer, as they passed his shop and were followed by a thousand
damsels like moons, clad in various raiments of silks and satins
fringed with gold and embroidered with jewels of sorts, and spears
were slung to their shoulders. In their midst rode a damsel
mounted on a Rabite mare, saddled with a saddle of gold set
with various kinds of jewels and jacinths ; and they reached in a
body the Shaykh's shop. The damsels saluted him and passed
on, till, lo and behold ! up came Queen Lab, in great state, and
seeing King Badr Basim sitting in the shop, as he were the moon
at its full, was amazed at his beauty and loveliness and became
passionately enamoured of him, and distraught with desire of him.
So she alighted and sitting down by King Badr Basim said to the
old man, " Whence hadst thou this handsome one ? " ; and the
Shaykh replied, " He is my brother's son, and is lately come to

298 A If Laylah wa Lay I ah.

me." Quoth Lab, " Let him be with me this night, that I may
talk with him ; " and quoth the old man, " Wilt thou take him
from me and not enchant him ? " Said she, " Yes," and said he,
" Swear to me." * So she sware to him that she would not do him
any hurt or ensorcell him, and bidding bring him a fine horse,
saddled and bridled with a golden bridle and decked with trappings
all of gold set with jewels, gave the old man a thousand dinars,
saying, " Use this." ' Then she took Badr Basim and carried him
off, as he were the full moon on its fourteenth night, whilst all
the folk, seeing his beauty, were grieved for him and said, " By
Allah, verily, this youth deserveth not to be bewitched by yonder
sorceress, the accursed ! " Now King Badr Basim heard all they
said, but was silent, committing his case to Allah Almighty, till
they came to - And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and
ceased saying her permitted say.

Nofo fo&m ft foas tfr jbtben f^uirtrtefc anto jFtftg - t^trlr Nfgfjt,

She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that King
Badr Basim ceased not faring with Queen Lab and her suite till
they came to her palace-gate, where the Emirs and eunuchs and
Lords of the realm took foot and she bade the Chamberlains
dismiss her Officers and Grandees, who kissed ground and went
away, whilst she entered the palace with Badr Basim and her
eunuchs and women. Here he found a place, whose like he had
never seen at all, for it was builded of gold and in its midst was a
great basin brimfull of water midmost a vast flower-garden, He
looked at the garden and saw it abounding in birds of various
kinds and colours, warbling in all manner tongues and voices,
pleasurable and plaintive. And everywhere he beheld great state
and dominion and said, " Glory be to God, who of His bounty and
long-suffering provideth those who serve other than Himself!"
The Queen sat down at a latticed window overlooking the garden
on a couch of ivory, whereon was a high bed, and King Badr
Basim seated himself by her side. She kissed him and pressing
him to her breast, bade her women bring a tray of food. So they
brought a tray of red gold, inlaid with pearls and jewels and
spread with all manner of viands and he and she ate, till they

1 i.e. for thy daily expenses.

Julnar the Sea-born and her Son. 299

were satisfied, and washed their hands ; after which the waiting-
women set on flagons of gold and silver and glass, together with
all kinds of flowers and dishes of dried fruits. Then the Queen
summoned the singing-women and there came ten maidens, as
they were moons, hending all manner of musical instruments.
Queen Lab crowned a cup and drinking it off, filled another and
passed it to King Badr Basim, who took it and drank ; and they
ceased 'not to drink till they had their sufficiency. Then she bade
the damsels sing, and they sang all manner modes till it seemed
to Badr Basim as if the palace danced with him for joy. His
sense was ecstasied and his breast broadened, and he forgot his
strangerhood and said in himself, " Verily, this Queen is young
and beautiful * and I will never leave her ; for her kingdom is
vaster than my kingdom and she is fairer than Princess Jauharah."
So he ceased not to drink with her till even-tide came, when they
lighted the lamps and waxen candles and diffused censer-
perfumes; nor did they leave drinking, till they were both
drunken, and the singing-women sang the while. Then Queen
Lab, being in liquor, rose from her seat and lay down on a bed
and dismissing her women called to Badr Basim to come and
sleep by her side. So he lay with her, in all delight of life till

the morning. And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and

ceased to say her permitted say.

Koto fofjen Ct toas tt>e &eben f^untrreU anfc ^(ftHourrt) Wgfet,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the
Queen awoke she repaired to the Hammam-bath in the palace,
King Badr Basim being with her, and they bathed and were
purified ; after which she clad him in the finest of raiment and
called for the service of wine. So the waiting women brought
the drinking-gear and they drank. Presently, the Queen arose
and taking Badr Basim by the hand, sat down with him on chairs
and bade bring food, whereof they ate, and washed their hands.
Then the damsels fetched the drinking-gear and fruits and flowers

1 Un adolescent aimetoutes lesfemmes. Man is by nature polygamic whereas woman as
a rule is monogamic and polyandrous only when tired of her lover. For the man, as
has been truly said, loves the woman, but the love of the woman is for the love of the

3OO A If Laylah wa Laylah.

and confections, and they ceased not to eat and drink, 1 whilst the
.singing-girls sang various airs till the evening. They gave not
over eating and drinking and merry-making for a space of forty
days, when the Queen said to him, "O Badr Basim, say me
whether is the more pleasant, this place or the shop of thine uncle
the grocer ? " He replied, " By Allah, O Queen, this is the pleasanter,
for my uncle is but a beggarly man, who vendeth pot-herbs."
She laughed at his words and the twain lay together in the
pleasantest of case till the morning, when King Badr Basim
awoke from sleep and found not Queen Lab by his side, so he
said, " Would Heaven I knew where can she have gone ! " And
indeed he was troubled at her absence and perplexed about the
case, for she stayed away from him a great while and did not
return ; so he donned his dress and went seeking her but not
rinding her, and he said to himself, " Haply, she is gone to the
flower-garden." Thereupon he went out into the garden and
came to a running rill beside which he saw a white she-bird and
on the stream-bank a tree full of birds of various colours, and he
stood and watched the birds without their seeing him. And
behold, a black bird flew down upon that white she-bird and fell
to billing her pigeon-fashion, then he leapt on her and trod her
three consecutive times, after which the bird changed and became
a woman. Badr looked at her and lo ! it was Queen Lab. So he
knew that the black bird was a man transmewed and that she was
enamoured of him and had transformed herself into a bird, that he
might enjoy her ; wherefore jealousy got hold upon him and he
was wroth with the Queen because of the black bird. Then he
returned to his place and lay down on the carpet-bed and after an
hour or so she came back to him and fell to kissing him and
jesting with him ; but being sore incensed against her he answered
her not a word. She saw what was to do with him and was
assured that he had witnessed what befel her when she was a
white bird and was trodden by the black bird ; yet she discovered
naught to him but concealed what ailed her. When he had done
her need, he said to her, " O Queen, I would have thee give me
leave to go to my uncle's shop, for I long after him and have not

1 I have already noted that the heroes and heroines of Eastern love-tales are always
bonnes fourchettes : they eat and drink hard enough to scandalise the sentimental amourist
of the West ; but it is understood that this abundant diet is necessary to qualify them for
the Herculean labours of the love night.

Julnar the Sea-born and her Son. 301

seen him these forty days." She replied, " Go to him but tarry
not from me, for I cannot brook to be parted from thee, nor can I
endure without thee an hour." He said, " I hear and I obey,"
and mounting, rode to the shop of the Shaykh, the grocer, who
welcomed him and rose to him and embracing him said to him,
" How hast thou fared with yonder idolatress ? " He replied, " I
was well in health and happiness till this last night," and told him
what had passed in the garden with the black bird. Now when
the old man heard his words, he said. " Beware of her, for know
that the birds upon the trees were all young men and strangers,
whom she loved and enchanted and turned into birds. That
black bird thou sawest was one of her Mamelukes whom she loved
with exceeding love, till he cast his eyes upon one of her women.

wherefore she changed him into a black bird ; And Shahrazad

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

Jiofo fofjen ft foas t&e &tben ^untrtrti anfc Jpiftg-fift!)

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when
Badr Basim acquainted the old grocer with all the doings of
Queen Lab and what he had seen of her proceedings, the Shaykh
gave him to know that all the birds upon the tree were young
men and strangers whom she had enchanted, and that the black
bird was one of her Mamelukes whom she had transmewed.
" And," continued the Shaykh, " whenas she lusteth after him she
transformeth herself into a she-bird that he may enjoy her, for she
still loveth him with passionate love. When she found that thou
knewest of her case, she plotted evil against thee, for she loveth
thee not wholly. But no harm shall betide thee from her, so long
as I protect thee ; therefore fear nothing ; for I am a Moslem, by
name Abdallah, and there is none in my day more magical than
I ; yet do I not make use of gramarye save upon constraint.
Many a. time have I put to naught the sorceries of yonder
accursed and delivered folk from her, and I care not for her,
because she can do me no hurt : nay, she feareth me with ex-
ceeding fear, as do all in the city who, like her, are magicians and
serve the fire, not the Omnipotent Sire. So to-morrow, come

1 Here again a little excision is necessary ; the reader already knows all about it.

3O2 Alf Laylah wa Laylah*

thou to me and tell me what she doth with thee ; for this very
night she will cast about to destroy thee, and I will tell thee how
thou shalt do with her, that thou mayst save thyself from her
malice." Then King Badr Basim farewelled the Shaykh and
returned to the Queen whom he found awaiting him. When she
saw him, she rose and seating him and welcoming him brought
him meat and drink and the two ate till they had enough and
washed their hands; after which she called for wine and they
drank till the night was well nigh half spent, when she plied him
with cup after cup till he was drunken and lost sense 1 and wit.
When she saw him thus, she said to him, "I conjure thee by
Allah and by whatso thou worshippest, if I ask thee a question
wilt thou inform me rightly and answer me truly ? " And he being
drunken, answered, " Yes, O my lady." Quoth she, " O my lord
and light of mine eyes, when thou awokest last night and foundest
me not, thou soughtest me, till thou sawest me in the garden,
under the guise of a white she-bird, and also thou sawest the
black bird leap on me and tread me. Now I will tell the truth of
this matter. That black bird was one of my Mamelukes, whom I
loved with exceeding love ; but one day he cast his eyes upon a
certain of my slave-girls, wherefore jealousy gat hold upon me
and I transformed him by my spells into a black bird and her I
slew. But now I cannot endure without him a single hour ; so,
whenever I lust after him, I change myself into a she-bird and go
to him, that he may leap me and enjoy me, even as thou hast seen.
Art thou not therefore incensed against me, because of this, albeit,
by the virtue of Fire and Light, Shade and Heat, I love thee
more than ever and have made thee my portion of the world ? "
He answered (being drunken), " Thy conjecture of the cause of my
rage is correct, and it had no reason other than this." With this
she embraced him and kissed him and made great show of love to
him ; then she lay down to sleep and he by her side. Presently,
about midnight she rose from the carpet-bed and King Badr Basim
was awake ; but he feigned sleep and watched stealthily to see
what she would do. She took out of a red bag a something red,
which she planted a-middlemost the chamber, and it became a
stream, running like the sea ; after which she took a handful of
barley and strewing it on the ground, watered it with water from

1 Arab. " Hiss," prop, speaking a perception (as of sound or motion) as opposed to
" Hadas," a surmise or opinion without proof.

Julnar the Sea-born and her Son. 303

the river ; whereupon it became wheat in the ear, and she gathered
it and ground it into flour. Then she set it aside and returning to
bed, lay down by Badr Basim till morning when he arose and
washed his face and asked her leave to visit the Shaykh his uncle.
She gave him permission and he repaired to Abdallah and told
him what had passed. The old man laughed and said, " By Allah,
this miscreant witch plotteth mischief against thee ; but reck thou
not of her ever !" Then he gave him a pound of parched corn 1
and said to him, " Take this with thee and know that, when she
seeth it, she will ask thee : What is this and what wilt thou do
with it ? Do thou answer : Abundance of good things is good ;
and eat of it. Then will she bring forth to thee parched grain of
her own and say to thee : Eat of this Sawfk ; and do thou feign
to her that thou eatest thereof, but eat of this instead, and beware
and have a care lest thou eat of hers even a grain ; for, an thou
eat so much as a grain thereof, her spells will have power over
thee and she will enchant thee and say to thee : Leave this form
of a man. Whereupon thou wilt quit thine own shape for what
shape she will. But, an thou eat not thereof, her enchantments
will be null and void and no harm will betide thee therefrom ;
whereat she will be shamed with shame exceeding and say to
thee : I did but jest with thee ! Then will she make a show of
love and fondness to thee ; but this will all be but hypocrisy in her
and craft. And do thou also make a show of love to her and
say to her : O my lady and light of mine eyes, eat of this parched
barley and see how delicious it is. And if she eat thereof, though
it be but a grain, take water in thy hand and throw it in her face,
saying : Quit this human form (for what form soever thou wilt
have her take). Then leave her and come to me and I will counsel
thee what to do." So Badr Basim took leave of him and returning
to the palace, went in to the Queen, who said to him, " Welcome
and well come and good cheer to thee ! " And she rose and kissed
him, saying, " Thou hast tarried long from me, O my lord," He
replied, " I have been with my uncle, and he gave me to eat of
this Sawik." Quoth she, " We have better than that." Then she

1 "Arab. "Sawik," the old and modern name for native frumenty, green grain
(mostly barley) toasted, pounded, mixed with dates or sugar and eaten on journeys
when cooking is impracticable. M. C. de Perceval (iii, 54), gives it a different and
now unknown name ; and Mr. Lane also applies it to "piisane." It named the "Day
of Sawaykah " (for which see Pilgrimage ii. 19), called by our popular authors the
" War of the Meal-sacks."

304 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

laid his parched Sawik in one plate and hers in another and said
to him, " Eat of this, for 'tis better than thine." So he feigned to
eat of it and when she thought he had done so, she took water in

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 31 of 40)