Richard Francis Burton.

The book of the thousand nights and a night; a plain and literal translation of the Arabian nights' entertainments, with introd., explanatory notes on the manners and customs of Moslem men and a terminal essay upon the history of the nights (Volume 9) online

. (page 11 of 38)
Online LibraryRichard Francis BurtonThe book of the thousand nights and a night; a plain and literal translation of the Arabian nights' entertainments, with introd., explanatory notes on the manners and customs of Moslem men and a terminal essay upon the history of the nights (Volume 9) → online text (page 11 of 38)
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fault." Quoth the master to the Boy, "What sayst thou?";
and quoth he, "These men lie* but I will tell thee the truth.
It is that we all came hither together and they bade me climb
the tree and shake its boughs that the nuts might fall down to
them, and I obeyed their bidding." Said the master, " Thou hast
cast thyself into sore calamity ; but hast thou profited by eating
aught of the fruit ? " ; and he said, " I have eaten naught thereof."
Rejoined the owner of the garden, " Now know I thy folly and
thine ignorance in that thou hast wrought to ruin thyself and
profit others." Then said he to the Thieves, " I have no resort
against you, so wend your ways ! " But he laid hands on the
Boy and punished him. " On like wise," added the favourite, " thy
Wazirs and Officers of state would sacrifice thee to their interests
and do with thee as did the Thieves with the Boy." Answered
the King, " Thou sayst sooth, and speakest truth : I will not go
forth to them nor leave my pleasures/' Then he passed tne night
with his wife in all delight till the morning, when the Grand
Wazier arose and, assembling the Officers of state, together with
those of the lieges who were present with them, repaired with
them to the palace-gate, congratulating one another and rejoicing.
But the door opened not nor did the 'King come forth unto them
nor give them leave to go in to him. So, when they despaired of
him, they said to Shimas, " O excellent Wazir and accomplished

King Wird Khan with his Women and Wazirs.

sage, seest thou not the behaviour of this lad, young of years and
little of wit, how he addeth to his offences falsehood ? See how
he hath broken his promise to us and hath not performed that for
which he engaged unto us, and this sin it behoveth thee join unto
his other sins ; but we beseech thee go in to him yet again and
discover what is the cause of his holding back and refusal to
come forth ; for we doubt not but that the like of this action
cometh of his corrupt nature, and indeed he is now hardened
to the highest degree." Accordingly, Shimas went in to the
King and bespake him, saying, " Peace be with thee, O King !
How cometh it that I see thee give thyself up to these slight
pleasures and neglect the great affair whereto it behoveth thee
sedulously apply thyself? Thou art like unto a man who had a
milch-camel and, coming one day to milk her, the goodness of her
milk made him neglect to hold fast her halter ; which whenas she
felt, she haled herself free and made off into the wold. Thus
the man lost both milk and camel and the loss that betided him
surpassed his gain. Wherefore, O King, do thou look unto that
wherein is thy welfare and the weal of thy subjects; for, even as
it behoveth not a man to sit for ever at the kitchen door, because
of his need unto food, so should he not alway company with
women, by reason of his inclination to them. And as a man
should eat but as much food as will guard him from the pains of
hunger and drink but what will ward off the pangs of thirst, in
like manner it behoveth the sensible man to content himself with
passing two of the four-and-twenty hours of his day with women
and expend the rest in ordering his own affairs and those of his
people. For to be longer than this in company with women is
hurtful both to mind and body, seeing that they bid not unto
good neither direct thereto : wherefore it besitteth not a man to
accept from them or word or deed, for indeed it hath reached me
that many men have come to ruin through their women, and
amongst others a certain man who perished through conversation
with his wife at her command." The King asked, " How was
that?" and Shimas answered, saying, "Hear, O King the
tale of

98 A If Laylah wa Laylak.


THEY relate that a certain man had a wife whom he loved and
honoured, giving ear to her speech and doing according to her
rede. Moreover, he had a garden, which he had newly planted
with his own hand, and was wont to go thither every day, to tend
it and water it. One day his wife asked him, " What hast thou
planted in thy garden ? " : and he answered, " All thou lovest and
desirest, and I am assiduous in tending and watering it." Quoth
she, " Wilt thou not carry me thither and show it to me, so I may
look upon it and offer thee up a pious prayer for its prosperity,
seeing that my orisons are effectual?" Quoth he, "I will well;
but have patience with me till the morrow, when I will come and
take thee." So early on the ensuing day, he carried her to the
garden which he entered with her. Now two young men saw
them enter from afar and said each to other, " Yonder man is an
adulterer and yonder woman an adulteress, and they have not
entered this garden but to commit adultery." Thereupon they
followed the couple to see what they would do, and hid themselves
in a corner of the garden. The man and his wife after entering
abode awhile therein, and presently he said to her, " Pray me
the prayer thou didst promise me ; " but she replied, saying, " I
will not pray for thee, until thou do away my desire of that
which women seek from men." Cried he, " Out on thee, O
woman ! Hast thou not thy fill of me in the house ? Here I fear
scandal, especially as thou divertest me from my affairs. Fearest
thou not that some one will see us ? " Quoth she, " We need
have no care for that, seeing that we do neither sin nor lewdness ;
and, as for the watering of the garden, that may wait, because
thou canst water it when thou wilt." And she would take
neither excuse nor reason from him, but was instant with him in
seeking carnal coition. So he arose and lay with her, which when
the young men aforesaid saw, they ran upon them and seized
them, 1 saying, " We will not let you go, for ye are adulterers, and
except we have carnal knowledge of the woman, we will report

1 Good Moslems are bound to abate such scandals ; and in a case of the kind even
neighbours are expected to complain before the Chief of Police. This practice forms
" Vigilance Committees" all over the Mahommedan East : and we may take a leaf out
of their books if dynamite-outrages continue.

The Man and his Wije. 99

you to the police." Answered the man, " Fie upon you ! This is
my wife and I am the master of the garden." They paid no
heed to him, but fell upon the woman, who cried out to him for
succour, saying, " Suffer them not to defile me ! ' Accordingly
he came up to them, calling out for help ; but one of them turned

on him and smote him with his dagger and slew him. And

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

ttfofo fofjcn it toas tljc jltne ^untfteU anfc

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that after
slaying the husband the two young men returned to the wife and
ravished her "This I tell thee, O King," continued the Wazir,
" but that thou mayst know that it becometh not men to give ear
unto a woman's talk neither obey her in aught nor accept her
judgment in counsel. Beware, then, lest thou don the dress of
ignorance, after the robe of knowledge and wisdom, and follow
perverse rede, after knowing that which is righteous and profitable.
Wherefore pursue thou not a paltry pleasure, whose trending is to
corruption and whose inclining is unto sore and uttermost perdition."
When the King heard this from Shimas he said to him, " To-
morrow I will come forth to them, an it be the will of Allah the
Most High." So Shimas returned to the Grandees and Notables
who were present and told them what the King had said. But
this came to the eaos of the favourite wife ; whereupon she went in
to the King and said to him, " The subjects of a King should be
his slaves ; but I see, O King, thou art become a slave to thy
subjects, because thou standest in awe of them and fearest their
mischief. 1 They do but desire to make proof of thine inner man ;
and if they find thee weak, they will disdain thee ; but, if they find
thee stout and brave, they will dread thee. On this wise do ill Wazirs
with their King, for that their wiles are many ; but I will make mani-
fest unto thee the truth of their malice. An thou comply with the
conditions they demand, they will cause thee cease ruling and do
their will ; nor will they leave leading thee on from affair to affair,

1 But a Hadis, attributed to Mohammed, says, " The Prince of a people is their
servant." See Matth. xx. 26-27.

IOO, A If Laylak wa Laylah.

till they cast thee into destruction ; and thy case will be as that of
the Merchant and the Robbers." Asked the King, " How was
that ? " and she answered, " I have heard tell this tale anent


THERE was once a wealthy Merchant, who set out for a certain
city purposing to sell merchandise there, and when he came thither,
he hired him a lodging wherein he took up his abode. Now certain
Robbers saw him, men wont to lie in wait for merchants, that they
might rob their goods ; so they went to his house and sought some
device whereby to enter in, but could find no way thereto, and
their Captain said, " I'll manage you his matter.'* Then he went
away and, donning the dress of a leach, threw over his shoulder a
bag containing somewhat of medicines, after which he set out,
crying, " Who lacks a doctor ?" and fared on till he came to the
merchant's lodging and him sitting eating the noon-day dinner.
So he asked him, " Dost thou need thee a physician ? ; " and the
trader answered, " I need naught of the kind ; but sit thee down
and eat with me." The thief sat down facing him and began to
eat. Now this merchant was a belle fourchette \ and the Robber
seeing this, said to himself, " I have found my chance.' r Then he
turned to his host and said to him, " 'Tis but right for me to give
thee an admonition ; and after thy kindness to me, I cannot hide it
from thee. I see thee to be a great eater and the cause of this is a
disorder in thy stomach ; wherefore unless thou take speedy
measures for thy cure, thine affair will end in perdition." Quoth
the merchant, " My body is sound and my stomach speedy of
digestion, and though I be a hearty eater, yet is there no disease
in my body, to Allah be the praise and the thanks ! " Quoth the
Robber, " It may appear thus unto thee ; but I know thou hast a
disease incubating in thy vitals and if thou hearken to me, thou
wilt medicine thyself." The Merchant asked, " And where shall I
find him who knoweth my remedy?"; and the Robber answered
" Allah is the Healer ; but a physician like myself cureth the
sick to the best of his power." Then the other said, v Show me at
once my remedy and give me thereof." Hereupon he gave
him a powder, wherein was a strong dose of aloes, 1 saying, " Use

1 Easterns are well aware of the value of this drug which has become the base of so
many of our modern medicines.

The Merchant and the Robbers. 1 01'

this to-night ; " and he accepted it gratefully. When the night
came, the Merchant tasted somewhat of the powder and found it
nauseous of gust ; nevertheless he misdoubted not of it, but
swallowed it all and therefrom found ease that night. Next night
the thief brought him another powder, wherein was yet more aloes,
and he took it : it purged him that night, but he bore patiently
with this and rejected it not. When the Robber saw that he gave
ear unto his word and put trust in him nor would gainsay him in
aught, he brought him a deadly drug 1 and gave it to him. The
Merchant swallowed it and no sooner had he done this than that
which was in his stomach fell down and his bowels were rent in
sunder, and by the morrow he was a dead man ; whereupon the
Robbers came and took all the merchandise and monies that
belonged' to him. " This I tell thee, O King," added the favourite
" but that thou mayst not accept one word from these deluders ;
else will there befal thee that whereby thou wilt destroy thyself."
Cried the King, " Thou sayst sooth ; I will not go forth to them."
Now when the morning morrowed, the folk assembled together and
repairing to the King's door, sat there the most part of the day,
till they despaired of his coming forth, when they returned to
Shimas and said to him, "O sage philosopher and experienced
master, seest thou not that this ignorant lad doth naught but
redouble in falsehood to us ? Verily 'twere only reasonable and
right to take the Kingdom from him and give it to another, so
our affairs may be ordered and our estates maintained ; but go
thou in to him a third time and tell him that naught hindereth us
from rising against him and taking the Kingship from him but
his father's goodness to us and that which he required from us of
oaths and engagements. However, to-morrow, we will all, to the
last of us, assemble here with our arms and break down the gate

1 The strangest poison is mentioned by Sonn'mi who, as a rule, is a trustworthy writer.
Noticing the malignity of Egyptian women he declares (p. 628, English trans.) that
they prepare a draught containing a quant, suff. of menstruous discharge at certain
phases of the moon, which produces symptoms of scurvy ; the gums decay, the teeth,
beard and hair fall off, the body dries, the limbs lose strength and death follows within
a year. He also asserts that no counterpoison is known and if this be true he confers a
boon upon the Locustae and Brinvilliers of modern Europe. In Morocco "Ta'am"
is the vulgar name for a mixture of dead men's bones, eyes, hair and similar ingredients
made by old wives and supposed to cause a wasting disease for which the pharmacopoeia
has no cure. Dogs are killed by needles cunningly inserted into meat-balls ; and
^process is known throughout the Moslem world.

'tO2 A If Lay lab u>a Laylah.

of the citadel 1 ; and if he come forth to us and do that which we
wish, no harm is yet done 2 ; else we will go in to him and slay
him and put the Kingdom in the hand of other than he." So the
Wazir Shimas went in to him and said, " O King, that grovellest
in thy gusts and thy lusts, what is this thou dost with thyself ?
Would Heaven I wot who seduced thee thereto ! An it be thou
who sinnest against thyself, there hath ceased from thee that which
we knew in thee aforetime of integrity and wisdom and eloquence.
Could I but learn who hath thus changed thee and turned thee
from wisdom to folly and from fidelity to iniquity and from
mildness to harshness and from acceptation of me to aversion from
me ! How cometh it that I admonish thee thrice and thou acceptest
not mine admonition and that I counsel thee rightfully and still
thou gainsayest my counsel ? Tell me, what is this child's play
and who is it prompteth thee thereunto ? Know that the people
of thy Kingdom have agreed together to come in to thee and
slay thee and give thy Kingdom to another. Art able to cope
with them all and save thyself from their hands or canst quicken thy-
self after being killed ? If, indeed, thou be potent to do all this,
thou art safe and hast no occasion for my rede ; but an thou have
any concern for thy life and thy kingship, return to thy sound
sense and hold fast thy reign and show forth to the folk the power
of thy prowess and persuade the people with thine excuse, for
they are minded to tear away that which is in thy hand and
commit it unto other, being resolved upon revolt and rebellion,
led thereto by that which they know of thy youth and thy self-
submission to love-Hesse and lusts ; for that stones, albeit they
lie long under water, an thou withdraw them therefrom and smite
one upon other, fire will be struck from them. Now thy lieges
are many folk and they have taken counsel together against thee,
with a design to transfer the Kingship from thee to another and
accomplish upon thee whatso they desire of thy destruction. So

shalt thou fare as did the Jackals with the Wolf." And

Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her per-
mitted say.

1 Which contained the Palace.

' Arab. " La baas." See Night vo!. iv. 164.

The Jackals and the Wolf. 103

fofjcn it toas the l&ine |L^untirrt onto ^Ttocntg^fiist

She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the
Wazir Shimas concluded with saying, " And they shall accomplish
upon thee whatso they desire of thy destruction : so shalt thou
fare as fared the Jackals with the Wolf." Asked the King, " How
was that ? " and the Wazir answered, " They tell the following
tale of


A PACK of Jackals 1 went out one day to seek food, and as they
prowled about in quest of this, behold, they happened upon a dead
camel and said in themselves, " Verily we have found wherewithal
we may live a great while ; but we fear lest one of us oppress the
other and the strong bear down the weak with his strength and so
the puny of us perish. Wherefore it behoveth us seek one who
shall judge between us and appoint unto each his part, so the
force-full may not lord it over the feeble." As they consulted
together on such subject, suddenly up came a Wolf, and one of
the Jackals said to the others, " Right is your rede ; let us make
this Wolf judge between us, for he is the strongest of beasts and
his father was Sultan over us aforetime ; so we hope in Allah that
he will do justice between us." Accordingly they accosted the
Wolf and acquainting him with what they had resolved concerning
him said, " We make thee judge between us, so thou mayst allot
unto each of us his day's meat, after the measure of his need, lest
the strong of us bear down the weak and some of us destroy other
of us." The Wolf accepted the governance of their affairs and
allotted to each of them what sufficed him that day ; but on the
morrow he said in his mind, " An I divide this camel amongst
these weaklings, no part thereof will come to me, save the pittance
they will assign to me, and if I eat it alone, they can do me no
harm, seeing that they are a prey to me and to the people of my
house. Who, then, is the one to hinder me from taking it all for
myself? Surely, 'tis Allah who hath bestowed it on me by way of

1 For Ta' lab (Sa 1 lab) see supra, p. 48. In Morocco it is undoubtedly the red or
common fox which, however, is not gregarious as in the text.

IO4 v4//" Laylah wa Lay I ah.

provision without any obligation to any of them. It were best
that I keep it for myself, and henceforth I will give them naught."
Accordingly, next morning when the Jackals came to him, as was
their wont, and sought of him their food, saying, " O Abu Sirhan, 1
give us our day's provender, 2 " he answered saying, " I have
nothing left to give you." Whereupon they went away in the
sorriest plight, saying, " Verily, Allah hath cast us into grievous
trouble with this foul traitor, who regardeth not Allah nor feareth
!Him ; but we have neither stratagem nor strength on our side."
iMoreover one of them said, " Haply 'twas but stress of hunger
that moved him to this ; so let him eat his fill to-day, and to-
morrow we will go to him again." Accordingly, on the morrow,
they again betook themselves to the Wolf and said to him, " O
Father of Foray, we gave thee authority over us, that thou mightest
apportion unto each of us his day's meat and do the weak justice
against the strong of us, and that, when this provaunt is finished,
thou shouldst do thine endeavour to get us other and so we be
always under thy watch and ward. Now hunger is hard upon us,
for that we have not eaten these two days ; so do thou give us our
day's ration and thou shalt be free to dispose of all that remaineth
as thou wilt." But the Wolf returned them no answer and
redoubled in his hardness of heart and when they strave to turn
him from his purpose he would not be turned. Then said one of
the Jackals to the rest, " Nothing will serve us but that we go to
the Lion and cast ourselves on his protection and assign unto
him the camel. If he vouchsafe us aught thereof, 'twill be of his
favour, and if not, Tie is worthier of it than this scurvy rascal."
So they betook themselves to the Lion and acquainted him with
that which had betided them from the Wolf, saying, " We are thy
slaves and come to thee imploring thy protection, so thou mayst
deliver us from this Wolf, and we will be thy thralls." When the
Lion heard their story, he was jealous for Almighty Allah 8 ana
went with them in quest of the Wolf who, seeing him approach

1 See vol. iii. 146.

2 Arab. " Muunah" which in Morocco applies to the provisions furnished gratis by
the unfortunate village-people to travellers who have a passport from the Sultan : its
root is Maun =r supplying necessaries. " The name is supposed to have its origin in that
of Manna, the miraculous provision bestowed by the bounty of Heaven on the Israelites
while wandering in the deserts of Arabia." Such is the marvellous information we find
in p. 40, " Morocco and the Moors " by John Drummond Hay (Murray, 1861).

3 i.e- He resolved to do them justice and win a reward from Heaven.

The Jackals and the Wolf. 105

addressed himself to flight ; but the Lion ran after him and seizing
him, rent him in pieces and restored their prey to the Jackals.
" This showeth," added Shimas, " that it fitteth no King to neglect
the affairs of his subjects ; wherefore do thou hearken to my rede
and give credit to the words which I say to thee." Quoth the King,
" I will hearken to thee and to-morrow, Inshallah, I will go forth
to them." Accordingly Shimas went from him and returning to
the folk, told them that the King had accepted his advice and pro-
mised to come out unto them on the morrow. But, when the
favourite heard this saying reported of Shimas and was certified
that needs must the King go forth to his subjects, she betook her-
self to him in haste and said to him, " How great is my wonder at
thy submissiveness and thine obedience to thy slaves ! Knowest
thou not that these Wazirs are thy thralls ? Why then dost thou
exalt them to this highmost pitch of importance that they imagine
them it was they gave thee this kingship and advanced thee to
this rank and that it is they who confer favours on thee, albeit
they have no power to do thee the least damage ? Indeed, 'tis not
thou who owest submission to them ; but on the contrary they
owe it to thee, and it is their duty to carry out thine orders. How
cometh it then, that thou art so mightily affrighted at them ? It
is said : Unless thy heart be like iron, thou art not fit to be 'a
Sovran. But thy mildness hath deluded these men, so that they
presume upon thee and cast off their allegiance, although it
behoveth that they be constrained unto thy obedience and enforced
to thy submission. Therefore an thou hasten to accept their
words and leave them as they now are and vouchsafe to them the
least thing against thy will, they will weigh heavily upon thee and
require other concessions of thee, and this will become their habit.
But, an thou hearken to me, thou wilt not advance any one of
them to power neither wilt thou accept his word nor encourage
him to presume upon thee ; else wilt thou fare with them as did
the Shepherd with the Rogue." Asked the King, " How was
that ? " and she answered, " They relate this adventure of

106 A If Laylah wa Laylah.


THERE was once a Shepherd, who fed a flock of sheep in the wold
and kept over them strait watch. One night, there came to him a
Rogue thinking to steal some of his charges and finding him
assiduous in guarding them, sleeping not by night nor neglecting
them by day, prowled about him all the livelong night, but could
plunder nothing from him. So, when he was weary of striving, he
betook himself to another part of the waste and trapping a lion,
skinned him and stuffed his hide with bruised straw 2 ; after which
he set it up on a high place in the desert, where the Shepherd
might see it and be assured thereof. Then he accosted the
Shepherd and said to him, " Yonder lion hath sent me to demand
his supper of these sheep." The Shepherd asked, " Where is the
lion ? " and the Rogue answered, " Lift thine eyes : there he
standeth." So the Shepherd raised his eyes and seeing the

semblance deemed it a very lion and was much affrighted ;

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

Nofo fobm it teas tf)e jitne ^unUrefc anfc StoentjuseconU

She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when
the Shepherd saw the semblance of the lion, he deemed it a very
lion and was affrighted with the sorest fright, trembling for dread ;
so he said to the thief, " O my brother take what thou wilt, I will
not gainsay thee." Accordingly the Rogue took what he would of
the sheep and redoubled in greed by reason of the excess of the

Online LibraryRichard Francis BurtonThe book of the thousand nights and a night; a plain and literal translation of the Arabian nights' entertainments, with introd., explanatory notes on the manners and customs of Moslem men and a terminal essay upon the history of the nights (Volume 9) → online text (page 11 of 38)