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 32 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 32 of 40)
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her hand and sprinkled him therewith, saying, " Quit this form, O
thou gallows-bird, thou miserable, and take that of a mule one-
eyed and foul of favour." But he changed not; which when she
saw, she arose and went up to him and kissed him between the
eyes, saying, " O my beloved, I did but jest with thee ; bear me no
malice because of this." Quoth he, " O my lady, I bear thee no
whit of malice ; nay, I am assured that thou lovest me : but eat
of this my parched barley." So she eat a mouthful of Abdallah's
Sawik ; but no sooner had it settled in her stomach than she was
convulsed ; and King Badr Basim took water in his palm and
threw it in her face, saying, " Quit this human form and take that
of a dapple mule." No sooner had he spoken than she found
herself changed into a she-mule, whereupon the tears rolled down
her cheeks and she fell to rubbing her muzzle against his feet.
Then he would have bridled her, but she would not take the bit ;
so he left her and, going to the grocer, told him what had passed.
Abdallah brought out for him a bridle and bade him rein her
forthwith. So he took it to the palace, and when she saw him,
she came up to him and he set the bit in her mouth and mounting
her, rode forth to find the Shaykh. But when the old man saw
her, he rose and said to her, " Almighty Allah confound thee, O
accursed woman ! " Then quoth he to Badr, " O my son, there is
no more tarrying for thee in this city ; so ride her and fare with
her whither thou wilt and beware lest thou commit the bridle ' to
any." King Badr thanked him and farewelling him, fared on three
days, without ceasing, till he drew near another city and there
met him an old man, gray-headed and comely, who said to him,
" Whence comest thou, O my son ? " Badr replied, " From the
city of this witch "; and the old man said, " Thou art my guest
to-night." He consented and went with him ; but by the way
behold, they met an old woman, who wept when she saw the mule,

1 Mr. Keightley (H. 122-24 Tales and Popular Fictions, a book now somewhat
obselete) remarks, "There is nothing said about the bridle in the account of the sale
(infra), but I am sure that in the original tale, Badr's misfortunes must have been owing
to his having parted with it. In Chaucer's Squier's Tale the bridle would also appear
to have been of some importance." He quotes a story from the Notti Piacevoli of
Straparola, the Milanese, published at Venice in 1550. And there is a popular story
of the kind in Germany.

Julnar the Sea-born and her Son. 305

and said, " There is no god but the God ! Verily, this mule re-
sembleth my son's she-mule, which is dead, and my heart acheth
for her ; so, Allah upon thee, O my lord, do thou sell her to me ! "
He replied, " By Allah, O my mother, I cannot sell her. But she
cried, " Allah upon thee, do not refuse my request, for my son will
surely be a dead man except I buy him this mule.'* And she im-
portuned him, till he exclaimed, " I will not sell her save for a
thousand dinars," saying in himself, "Whence should this old
woman get a thousand gold pieces ? " Thereupon she brought out
from her girdle a purse containing a thousand ducats, which when
King Badr Basim saw, he said, " O my mother, I did but jest
with thee ; I cannot sell her." But the old man looked at him and
said, " O my son, in this city none may lie, for whoso lieth they
put to death." So King Badr Basim lighted down from the mule.

And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say

her permitted say.

Nofo fofjen ft foas tlje J&ben ^untn;e& atrtr jptftg-sixt!) Nt'g&t,

She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when
Badr Basim dismounted from and delivered the mule to the old
woman, she drew the bit from her mouth and, taking water in her
hand, sprinkled the mule therewith, saying, " O my daughter, quit
this shape for that form wherein thou wast aforetime ! '* Upon
this she was straightway restored to her original semblance and
the two women embraced and kissed each other. So King Badr
Basim knew that the old woman was Queen Lab's mother and
that he had been tricked and would have fled ; when, lo ! the old
woman whistled a loud whistle and her call was obeyed by an
Ifrit as he were a great mountain, whereat Badr was affrighted and
stood still. Then the old woman mounted on the I frit's back,
taking her daughter behind her and King Badr Basim before her,
and the Ifrit flew off with them ; nor was it a full hour ere they
were in the palace of Queen Lab, who sat down on the throne of
kingship and said to Badr, " Gallows-bird that thou art, now am
I come hither and have attained to that I desired and soon will I
show thee how I will do with thee and with yonder old man the
grocer ! How many favours have I shown him ! Yet he doth me
frowardness ; for thou hast not attained thine end but by means of
him." Then she took water and sprinkled him therewith, saying,

306 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

" Quit the shape wherein thou art for the form of a foul-favoured
fowl, the foulest of all fowls ; and she set him in a cage and cut
off from him meat and drink ; but one of her women seeing this
cruelty, took compassion on him and gave him food and water
without her knowledge. One day, the damsel took her mistress at
unawares and going forth the palace, repaired to the old grocer, to
whom she told the whole case, saying, " Queen Lab is minded to-
make an end of thy brother's son." The Shaykh thanked her and
said, " There is no help but that I take the city from her and
make thee Queen thereof in her stead.'* Then he whistled a loud
whistle and there came forth to him an Ifrit with four wings, to
whom he said, " Take up this damsel and carry her to the city of
Julnar the Sea-born and her mother Farashah 1 for they twain are
the most powerful magicians on face of earth.' 5 And he said to
the damsel, " When thou comest thither, tell them that King Badr
Basim is Queen Lab's captive." Then the Ifrit took up his load
and, flying off with her, in a little while set her down upon the
terrace roof of Queen Julnar's palace. So she descended and
going in to the Queen, kissed the earth and told her what had
passed to her son, first and last, whereupon Julnar rose to her and
entreated her with honour and thanked her. Then she let beat
the drums in the city and acquainted her lieges and the lords of
her realm with the good news that King Badr Basim was found ;
after which she and her mother Farashah and her brother Salih
assembled all the tribes of the Jinn and the troops of the main ;
for the Kings of the Jinn obeyed them since the taking of King
Al-Samandal. Presently they all flew up into the air and lighting
down on the city of the sorceress, sacked the town and the palace
and slew all the Unbelievers therein in the twinkling of an eye.
Then said Julnar to the damsel, " Where is my son ? " And the
slave-girl brought her the cage and signing to the bird within,
cried, " This is thy son." So Julnar took him forth of the cage
and sprinkled him with water, saying Quit this shape for the
form wherein thou wast aforetime ; " nor had she made an end of
her speech ere he shook and became a man as before : whereupon
his mother, seeing him restored to human shape, embraced him
and he wept with sore weeping. On like wise did his uncle Salih

1 Here, for the first time we find the name of the mother who has often been men-
tioned in the story. Farashah is the fem. or singular form of " Farash," a butterfly, a.
moth. Lane notes that bis Shaykh gives it the very unusual sense of " a locust."

Julnar the Sea-born and her Son. 307

and his grandmother and the daughters of his uncle and fell to
kissing his hands and feet. Then Julnar sent for Shaykh
Abdallah and thanking him for his kind dealing with her son,
married him to the damsel, whom he had despatched to her with
news of him, and made him King of the city. Moreover, she
summoned those who survived of the citizens (and they were
Moslems), and made them swear fealty to him and take the oath
of loyalty, whereto they replied, " Hearkening and obedience ! "
Then she and her company farewelled him and returned to their
own capital. The townsfolk came out to meet them, with drums
beating, and decorated the place three days and held high festival,
of the greatness of their joy for the return of their King Badr
Basim. After this Badr said to his mother, "O my mother,
naught remains but that I marry and we be all united." She
replied, " Right is thy rede, O my son, but wait till we ask who
befitteth thee among the daughters of the Kings." And his grand-
mother Farashah, and the daughters of both his uncles said, " O
Badr Basim, we will help thee to win thy wish forthright." Then
each of them arose and fared forth questing in the lands, whilst
Julnar sent out her waiting women on the necks of Ifrits, bidding
them leave not a city nor a King's palace without noting all the
handsome girls that were therein. But, when King Badr Basim
saw the trouble they were taking in this matter, he said to Julnar,
" O my mother, leave this thing, for none will content me save
Jauharah, daughter of King Al-Samandal ; for that she is indeed
a jewel, 1 according to her name." Replied Julnar, " I know that
which thou seekest ; " and bade forthright bring Al-Samandal the
King. As soon as he was present, she sent for Badr Basim and
acquainted him with the King's coming, whereupon he went in to
him. Now when Al-Samandal was aware of his presence, he rose
to him and saluted him and bade him welcome ; and King Badr
Basim demanded of him his daughter Jauharah in marriage.
Quoth he, " She is thine handmaid and at thy service and dispo-
sition," and despatched some of his suite bidding them seek her
abode and, after telling her that her sire was in the hands of King
Badr Basim, to bring her forthright. So they flew up into the air
and disappeared and they returned after a while, with the Princess
who, as soon as she saw her father, went up to him and threw her
arms round his neck. Then looking at her he said, "O my

1 Punning upon Jauharah = "a jewel " a name which has an Hibernian smack.

jo8 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

daughter, know that I have given thee in wedlock to this mag-
nanimous Sovran, and valiant lion King Badr Basim, son of Queen
Julnar the Sea-born, for that he is the goodliest of the folk of his
day and most powerful and the most exalted of them in degree
and the noblest in rank ; he befitteth none but thee and thou none
but him." Answered she, " I may not gainsay thee, O my sire ;
do as thou wilt, for indeed chagrin and despite are at an end, and
I am one of his handmaids." So they summoned the Kazi and
the witnesses who drew up the marriage-contract between King
Badr Basim and the Princess Jauharah, and the citizens decorated
the city and beat the drums of rejoicing, and they released all who
were in the jails, whilst the King clothed the widows and the
orphans and bestowed robes of honour upon the Lords of the
Realm and Emirs and Grandees : and they made bride-feasts and
held high festival night and morn ten days, at the end of which
time they displayed the bride, in nine different dresses, before
King Badr Basim who bestowed an honourable robe upon King
Al-Samandal and sent him back to his country and people and
kinsfolk. And they ceased not from living the most delectable of
life and the most solaceful of days, eating and drinking and
enjoying every luxury, till there came to them the Destroyer of
delights and the Sunderer of Societies ; and this is the end of
their story, 1 may Allah have mercy on them all ! Moreover, O
auspicious King, a tale is also told anent


THERE was once, in days of yore and in ages and times long gone
before, a King of the Kings of the Persians, by name Mohammed
bin Sabaik, who ruled over Khorasan-land and used every year to
go on razzia into the countries of the Miscreants in Hind and
Sind and China and the lands of Mawarannahr beyond the Oxus
and other regions of the barbarians and what not else. He was a

1 In the old version "All the lovers of the Magic Queen resumed their pristine forms
as soon as she ceased to live ; " moreover, they were all sons of kings, princes, or per-
sons of high degree.

King Mohammed Bin Sabaik and the Merchant. 309

just King, a valiant and a generous, and loved table-talk 1 and tales
and verses and anecdotes and histories and entertaining stories
and legends of the ancients. Whoso knew a rare recital and re-
lated it to him in such fashion as to please him he would bestow
on him a sumptuous robe of honour and clothe him from head to
foot and give him a thousand dinars, and mount him on a horse
saddled and bridled besides other great gifts ; and the man would
take all this and wend his way. Now it chanced that one day
there came an old man before him and related to him a rare
story, which pleased the King and made him marvel, so he ordered
him a magnificent present, amongst other things a thousand
dinars of Khorasan and a horse with its housings and trappings.
After this, the bruit of the King's munificence was blazed
abroad in all countries and there heard of him a man, Hasan
the Merchant hight, who was generous, open-handed and learned,
a scholar and an accomplished poet. Now that King had an
envious Wazir, a multum-in-parvo of ill, loving no man, rich nor
poor, and whoso came before the King and he gave him aught
he envied him and said, " Verily, this fashion annihilateth wealth
and ruineth the land ; and such is the custom of the King."
But this was naught save envy and despite in that Minister.
Presently the King heard talk of Hasan the Merchant and sending
for him, said to him as soon as he came into the presence, " O
Merchant Hasan, this Wazir of mine vexeth and thwarteth me
concerning the money I give to poets and boon-companions and
story-tellers and glee-men, and I would have thee tell me a goodly
history and a rare story, such as I have never before heard. An
it please me, I will give thee lands galore, with their forts, in
free tenure, in addition to thy fiefs and untaxed lands ; besides
which I will put my whole kingdom in thy hands and make
thee my Chief Wazir ; so shalt thou sit on my right hand and
rule my subjects. But, an thou bring me not that which I bid
thee, I will take all that is in thy hand and banish thee my
realm." Replied Hasan, " Hearkening and obedience to our lord
the King ! But thy slave beseecheth thee to have patience with
him a year ; than will he tell thee a tale, such as thou hast never
in thy life heard, neither hath other than thou heard its like, not
to say a better than it." Quoth the King, " I grant thee a

1 Arab. " Munadamah," = conversation over the cup (Lane), used somewhat in the
sense of ' Musimarah" =: talks by moonlight.

3IO A If Laylah wa Laylah.

whole year's delay.'* And he called for a costly robe of honour
wherein he robed Hasan, saying, " Keep thy house and mount not
horse, neither go nor come for a year's time, till thou bring me
that I seek of thee. An thou bring it, especial favour awaiteth
thee and thou mayst count upon that which I have promised
thee ; but, an thou bring it not, thou art not of us nor are we

of thee." And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased

saying her permitted say.

fofjm it foas t!je gbtben f^un&trtr an& Jftftg-sebentf)

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when
King Mohammed son of Sabaik said to Hasan the Merchant,
" An thou bring me that I seek of thee, especial favour awaiteth
thee and thou mayest now rejoice in that which I have promised
thee ; but, an thou bring it not, thou art not of us nor are we of
thee." Hasan kissed ground before the King and went out from
the presence. Then he chose five of the best of his Mamelukes,
who could all write and read and were learned, intelligent, accom-
plished ; and he gave each of them five thousand dinars, saying 1 ,
1 1 reared you not save for the like of this day ; so do ye help
me to further the King's desire and deliver me from his
hand." Quoth they, " What wilt thou have us do ? Our lives be
thy ransom ! " Quoth he, " I wish you to go each to a different
country and seek out diligently the learned and erudite and
literate and the tellers of wondrous stories and marvellous histories
and do your endeavour to procure me the story of Sayf al-
Muluk. If ye find it with any one, pay him what price soever
he asketh for it although he demand a thousand dinars ; give
him what ye may and promise him the rest and bring me the story ;
for whoso happeneth on it and bringeth it to me, I will bestow
on him a costly robe of honour and largesse galore, and there
shall be to me none more worshipped than he." Then said he
to one of them, " Hie thou to Al-Hind and Al-Sind and all
their provinces and dependencies." To another, " Hie thou to the
home of the Persians and to China and her climates." To the
third, " Hie thou to the land of Khorasan with its districts." To
the fourth, " Hie thou to Mauritania and all its regions, districts,
provinces and quarters." And to the fifth, " Hie thou to Syria
and Egypt and their outliers." Moreover, he chose them out an

King Mohammed Bin Sabaik and the Merchant. 311

auspicious day and said to them, "Fare ye forth this day and
be diligent in the accomplishment of my need and be not sloth-
ful, though the case cost you your lives." So they farewelled
him and departed, each taking the direction prescribed to him.
Now, four of them were absent four months, and searched but
found nothing ; so they returned and told their master, whose
breast was straitened, that they had ransacked towns and cities
and countries for the thing he sought, but had happened upon
naught thereof. Meanwhile, the fifth servant journeyed till he
came to the land of Syria and entered Damascus, which he found
a pleasant city and a secure, abounding in trees and rills, leas and
fruiteries and birds chanting the praises of Allah the One, the All-
powerful of sway, Creator of Night and Day. Here he tarried
some time, asking for his master's desire, but none answered him
wherefore he was on the point of departing thence to another
place, when he met a young man running and stumbling over his
skirts. So he asked to him, " Wherefore runnest thou in such
eagerness and whither dost thou press?" And he answered,
" There is an elder here, a man of learning, who every day at this
time taketh his seat on a stool 1 and relateth tales and stories and
delectable anecdotes, whereof never heard any the like ; and I am
running to get me a place near him and fear I shall find no room,
because of the much folk." Quoth the Mameluke, " Take me
with thee ; " and quoth the youth, " Make haste in thy walking."
So he shut his door and hastened with him to the place of
recitation, where he saw an old man of bright favour seated on a
stool holding forth to the folk. He sat down near him and
addressed himself to hear his story, till the going down of the
sun, when the old man made an end of his tale and the people,
having heard it all, dispersed from about him ; whereupon the
Mamaluke accosted him and saluted him, and he returned his
salam and greeted him with the utmost worship and courtesy.
Then said the messenger to him, " O my lord Shaykh, thou art a
comely and reverend man, and thy discourse is goodly ; but I
would fain ask thee of somewhat." Replied the old man, " Ask
of what thou wilt ! " Then said the Mameluke, " Hast thou the
story of Sayf al-Muluk and Badfa al-Jamal ? " Rejoined the

1 Arab. "Kursi," a word of many meanings; here it would allude to the square
crate-like seat of palm-fronds used by the Rdwi ox public reciter of tales when he is not
pacing about the coffee-house.

312 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

elder, "And who told thee of this story and informed thee
thereof?" Answered the messenger, "None told me of it, but I
am come from a far country, in quest of this tale, and I will pay
thee whatever thou askest for its price if thou have it and wilt, of
thy bounty and charity, impart it to me and make it an alms to
me, of the generosity of thy nature for, had I my life in my hand
and lavished it upon thee for this thing, yet were it pleasing to my
heart." Replied the old man, " Be of good cheer and keep thine
eye cool and clear : thou shalt have it ; but this is no story that
one telleth in the beaten highway, nor do I give it to every one."
Cried the other, " By Allah, O my lord, do not grudge it me, but
ask of me what price thou wilt." And the old man, " If thou
wish for the history give me an hundred dinars and thou shalt
have it ; but upon five conditions." Now when the Mameluke
knew that the old man had the story and was willing to sell it
to him, he joyed with exceeding joy and said, " I will give thee the
hundred dinars by way of price and ten to boot as a gratuity and
take it on the conditions of which thou speakest." Said the old man,
"Then go and fetch the gold pieces, and take that thou seekest."
So the messenger kissed his hands and joyful and happy returned
to his lodging, where he laid an hundred and ten dinars 1 in a
purse he had by him. As soon as morning morrowed, he donned
his clothes and taking the dinars, repaired to the story-teller,
whom he found seated at the door of his house. So he saluted
him and the other returned his salam. Then he gave him the gold
and the old man took it and carrying the messenger into his house
made him sit down in a convenient place, when he set before
him inkcase and reed-pen and paper and giving him a book, said
to him, " Write out what thou seekest of the night-story 2 of Sayf
al-Muluk from this book." Accordingly the Mameluke fell to work
and wrote till he had made an end of his copy, when he read it to
the old man, and he corrected it and presently said to him,
" Know, O my son, that my five conditions are as follows ; firstly,
that thou tell not this story in the beaten high road nor before
women and slave-girls nor to black slaves nor feather-heads ; nor
again to boys ; but read it only before Kings and Emirs and
Wazirs and men of learning, such as expounders of the Koran

1 Von Hammer remarks lhat this is precisely the sum paid in Egypt for a MS. copy of
The Nights.

2 Arab. "Satnar," the origin o Musamarah, which see, vol. iv. 237.

King Mohammed Bin Sabaik and the Merchant. 313

and others." Thereupon the messenger accepted the conditions
and kissing the old man's hand, took leave of him, and fared forth.

And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say

her permitted say.

Xofo fofjm ft foas tfje &ebcn p^unfcrrtr anfc

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when
the Mameluke of Hasan the Merchant had copied the tale out of
the book belonging to the old man of Damascus, and had accepted
his conditions and farewelled him, he fared forth on the same day,
glad and joyful, and journeyed on diligently, of the excess of his
contentment, for that he had gotten the story of Sayf al-Muluk,
till he came to his own country, when he despatched his servant
to bear the good news to his master and say to him, "Thy
Mameluke is come back in safety and hath won his will and his
aim." (Now of the term appointed between Hasan and the King
there wanted but ten days.) Then, after taking rest in his own
quarters he himself went in to the Merchant and told him all that
had befallen him and gave him the book containing the story of
Sayf al-Maluk and Badi'a al-Jamal, when Hasan joyed with
exceeding joy at the sight and bestowed on him all the clothes he
had on and gave him ten thoroughbred horses and the like
number of camels and mules and three negro chattels and two
white slaves. Then Hasan took the book and copied out the story
plainly in his own hand ; after which he presented himself before
the King and said to him, "O thou auspicious King, I have
brought thee a night-story and a rarely pleasant relation, whose
like none ever heard at all." When these words reached the
King's ear, he sent forthright for all the Emirs, who were men of
understanding, and all the learned doctors and folk of erudition
and culture and poets and wits ; and Hasan sat down and read the
history before the King, who marvelled thereat and approved it,
as did all who were present, and they showered gold and silver
and jewels upon the Merchant. Moreover, the King bestowed on
him a costly robe of honour of the richest of his raiment and gave
him a great city with its castles and outliers ; and he appointed
him one of his Chief Wazirs and seated him on his right hand.

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 32 of 40)