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 12 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 12 of 38)
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Shepherd's fear. Accordingly, every little while, he would hie to
him and terrify him, saying, " The lion hath need of this and re-
quireth that, and his intent is to do thus and thus," and take his
sufficiency of the sheep ; and he stinted not to do thus with him,
till he had wasted the most part of his flock. " This, O King,"
added the favourite, " I tell thee only that thou suffer not the

1 Arab. " Luss " thief, robber, rogue, rascal, the Persian " Luti" of popular usage.
This is one of the many "Simpleton stories " in which Eastern folk-lore abounds. I
hear that Mr. Clouston is preparing a collection, and look forward to it with interest.

2 Arab. " Tibn " ; for which see vol. i. 16.

King Wird Khan with his Women and Wazirs. 107

Grandees of thy realm to be deluded by thy mildness and easiness"
of temper and presume on thee ; and, in right rede, their death
were better than that they deal thus with thee." Quoth the King,
" I accept this thy counsel and will not hearken to their admoni-
tion neither will I go out unto them." On the morrow the Wazirs
and Officers of State and heads of the people assembled ; and,
taking each with him his weapon, repaired to the palace of the
King, so they might break in upon him and slay him and seat
another in his stead. When they came to the door, they required
the doorkeeper to open to them; but he refused, whereupon they sent
to fetch fire, wherewith to burn down the doors and enter. The door-
keeper, hearing what they said went in to the King in haste and
told him that the folk were gathered together at the gate, adding,
" They required me to open to them, but I refused ; and they have
sent to fetch fire to burn down the doors withal, so they may come
into thee and slay thee. What dost thou bid me do ? " Quoth
the King in himself, " Verily, I am fallen into uttermost perdition."
Then he sent for the favourite ; and, as soon as she came, said to
her, " Indeed, Shimas never told me aught but I found it true, and
now great and small are come purposing to slay me and thee : and
because the doorkeeper would not open to them, they have sent to
fetch fire, to burn the doors withal : so will the house be burnt and
we therein. What dost thou counsel me to do?" She replied,
" No harm shall betide thee, nor let thine affair affright thee. This
is a time when the simple rise against their Kings." Quoth he,
" What dost thou counsel me to do and how shall I act in this
affair ? " Quoth she, " My rede is that thou fillet thy head and
feign thyself sick : then send for the Wazir Shimas, who will come
and see the plight wherein thou art ; and do thou say to him :
Verily I purposed to go forth to the folk this day ; but this malady
hindered me. So go thou out to them and acquaint them with
my condition and tell them that to-morrow I will fare forth with-
out fail to them and do their need and look into their affairs,
so they may be reassured and their rage may subside. Then do
thou summon ten of thy father's slaves, stalwart men of strength
and prowess, to whom thou canst entrust thyself, hearing to thy
hest and complying with thy commandment, surely keeping thy
secret and lief to thy love ; and charge them on the morrow to
stand at thy head and bid them suffer none of the folk to enter,
save one by one ; and all who enter do thou say : Seize them and
do them die. An they agree with thee upon this, to-morrow set

io8 A If Lay I ah wa Laylah.

up thy throne in the Divan 1 and open thy doors. When the folk
see that thou hast> opened to them their minds will be set at ease
and they will come to thee with a whole heart, and seek admission
to thee. Then do thou admit them, one after one, even as I said
to thee and work with them thy will ; but it behoveth thee begin
by slaying Shimas, their chief and leader ; for lie is the Grand
Wazier and head of the matter. Therefore do him die first and
after put all the rest to death, one after other, and spare none
whom thou knowest to have broken with thee his covenant ; and
in like way slaughter all whose violence thou fearest. An thou
deal thus with them, there will be left them no power to make head
against thee ; so shalt thou be at rest from them with full repose,
and shalt enjoy thy kingship in peace and do whatso thou wilt ;
and know that there is no device that will profit thee more than
this." Quoth the King, "Verily, this thy counsel is just and that
which thou biddest me is to the point and I will assuredly do as
thou directest." So he called for a fillet and bound his head there-
with and shammed sickness. Then he sent for the Grand Wazir
and said to him, " O Shimas, thou knowest that I love thee and
hearken to the counsel of thee and thou art to me as brother and
father both in one ; also thou knowest that I do all thou biddest
me and indeed thou badest me go forth to the lieges and sit to
judge between them. Now I was assured that this was right rede
on thy part, and purposed to go forth to them yesterday ; but this
sickness assailed me and I cannot sit up. It hath reached me that
the folk are incensed at my failure to come forth to them and are
minded of their mischief to do with me that which is unmeet for
that they know not what ailment aileth me. So go thou forth to
them and acquaint them with my case and the condition I am in ;
and excuse me to them, for I am obedient to their bidding and
will do as they desire ; wherefore order this affair and engage thy-
self for me herefor, even as thou hast been a loyal counsellor to me
and to my sire before me, and it is of thy wont to make peace
between the people. To-morrow, Inshallah, I will without fail
come forth to them, and peradventure my sickness will cease from
me this night, by the blessing of the purest intent and the good

1 A fanciful origin of "Divan" (here an audience-chamber) which may mean demons
(plural of Div) is attributed to a King of Persia. He gave a series of difficult documents
and accounts to his scribes and surprised at the quickness and cleverness with which they
were ordered exclaimed, "These men be Divs ! " Hence a host of secondary
meanings as a book of Odes with distichs rhymed in alphabetical order and so forth.

King Wird Khan with his Women and Wazirs. 109

I purpose them in my heart." So Shimas prostrated himself to
Allah and called down blessings on the King and kissed his hand,
rejoicing at this. Then he went forth to the folk and told them
what he had heard from the King and forbade them from that
which they had a mind to do, acquainting them with what excused
the King for his absence and informing them that he had promised
to come forth to them on the morrow and deal with them accord-
ing to their desires ; whereupon they dispersed and hied them to

their houses. And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and

ceased to say her permitted say.

fofjen ft teas tije J=ime l^unfcreti an& ^toentg-tfjirtJ

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Shimas
went from the presence to the ringleaders of the commons and said
to them, " To-morrow the Sovran will come forth to you and will
deal with you as ye desire." So they hied them to their homes.
On such wise fared it with them ; but as regards the Monarch, he
summoned ten slaves of gigantic stature, 1 men of hard heart and
prow of prowess, whom he had chosen from amongst his father's
body-guards ; and said to them, " Ye know the favour, esteem and
high rank ye held with my sire and all the bounties, benefits and
honours he bestowed on you, and I will advance you to yet higher
dignity with me than this. Now I will tell you the reason thereof
and ye are under safeguard of Allah from me. But first I will ask
you somewhat, wherein if ye do my desire, obeying me in that
which I shall bid you and conceal my secret from all men, ye shall
have of me largesse and favour surpassing expectation. But above
all things obedience ! " The ten thralls answered him with one
mouth and in sequent words, saying, " Whatso thou biddest us, O
our liege, that we will do, nor will we depart in aught from thy
commandment, for thou art our lord and master." Quoth the
King, " Allah allot you weal ! Now will I tell you the reason why
I have chosen you out for increase of honour with me. Ye know
how liberally my father dealt with the folk of his realm and the
oath he took from them on behalf of me and how they promised

1 In both cases the word " Jababirah" is used, the plur. of Jabbar, the potent, espe-
cially applied to the Kings of the Canaanites and giants like the mythical Og of Bashan.
So the Heb. Jabbiirah is a title of the Queens of Judah.

I io A If Laylah wa Laylah.

him that they would not break faith with me nor gainsay the bid-
ding of me ; and ye saw how they did yesterday, whenas they
gathered all together about me and would have slain me. Now I
am minded to do with them somewhat ; and 'tis this, for that I
have considered their action of yesterday and see that naught will
restrain them from its like save exemplary chastisement : where-
fore I perforce charge you privily to do to death whom I shall
point out to you, to the intent that I may ward off mischief and
calamity from my realm by slaying their leaders and Chiefs ; and
the manner thereof shall be on this wise. To-morrow I will sit on
this seat in this chamber and give them admission to me one by
one, coming in at one door and going out at another ; and do ye,
all ten, stand before me and be attentive to my signs : and whoso
entereth singly, take him and drag him into yonder chamber and
kill him and hide his corpse." The slaves answered, " We hearken
to thy hest and obey thy order " : whereupon he gave them gifts
and dismissed them for the night On the morrow he summoned
the thralls and bade set up the royal seat : then he donned his
kingly robes and taking the Book of law-cases l in his hands,
posted the ten slaves before him and commanded to open the
doors. So they opened the doors and the herald proclaimed
aloud, saying, " Whoso hath authority, let him come to the King's
carpet 2 ! " Whereupon up came the Wazirs and Prefects and
Chamberlains and stood, each in his rank. Then the King bade
admit them, one after one, and the first to enter was Shimas,
according to the custom of the Grand Wazir ; but no sooner had
he presented himself before the King, and ere he could beware, the
ten slaves gat about him, and dragging him into the adjoining
chamber, despatched him. On like wise did they with the rest of
the Wazirs and Olema and Notables, slaying them, one after
other, till they made a clean finish. 3 Then the King called the

1 Arab. "Kitab al-Kaza" = the Book of Judgments, such as the Kazi would use
when deciding cases in dispute, by legal precedents and the Rasm or custom of the

2 i.e. sit before the King as referee, etc.

3 This massacre of refractory chiefs is one of the grand moyens of Eastern state-craft,
and it is almost always successful because circumstances require it ; popular opinion
approves of it and it is planned and carried out with discretion and secrecy. The two
familiar Instances in our century are the massacre of the Mamelukes by Mohammed Ali
Pasha the Great and of the turbulent chiefs of the Omani Arabs by our ancient ally Sayyid
Sa'id, miscalled the "Imam of Maskat."

King Wird Khan with his Women and Wazirs, in

headsmen and bade them ply sword upon all who remained of the
folk of valour and stowre : so they fell on them and left none
whom they knew for a man of mettle but they slew him, sparing
only the proletaires and the refuse of the people. These they
drove away and they returned each to his folk, whilst the King
secluded himself with his pleasures and surrendered his soul to its
lusts, working tyranny, oppression and violence, till he outraced all
the men of evil who had forerun him. 1 Now this King's dominion
was a mine of gold and silver and jacinths and jewels and the
neighbouring rulers, one and all, envied him this empire and looked
for calamity to betide him. Moreover, one of them, the King of
Outer Hind, said in himself, " I have gotten my desire of wresting
the realm from the hand of yonder silly lad, by reason of that which
hath betided of his slaughter of the Chiefs of his State and of all
men of valour and mettle that were in his country. This is my
occasion to snatch away that which is in his hand, seeing he is
young in years and hath no knowledge of war nor judgment
thereto, nor is there any left to counsel him aright or succour him.
Wherefore this very day will I open on him the door of mischief
by writing him a writ wherein I will flyte him and reproach him
with that which he hath done and see what he will reply." So he
indited him a letter to the following effect: "In the name of
Allah the Compassionating, the Compassionate * And after * I
have heard tell of that which thou hast done with thy Wazirs and
Olema and men of valiancy * and that whereinto thou hast cast
thyself of calamity * so that there is neither power nor strength
left in thee to repel whoso shall assail thee, more by token that
thou transgressest and orderest thyself tyrannously and profli-
gately * Now Allah hath assuredly given me the conquering of
thee and the mastery over thee and into my hand hath delivered
thee ; wherefore do thou give ear to my word and obey the com
mandment of me and build me an impregnable castle amiddlemost
the sea * An thou can not do this, depart thy realm and with thy
life go flee * for I will send unto thee, from the farthest ends of
Hind, twelve hordes 2 of horse, each twelve thousand fighting-men
strong, who shall enter thy land and spoil thy goods and slay thy
men and carry thy women into captivity * Moreover, I will make

1 The metaphor (Sabaka) is from horse-racing, the Arabs being, I have said, a horsey
2 , Arab. " Kurdus " =: A body of horse.

112 A If Laylak wa LaylaK.

my Wazir, Badf'a captain over them and bid him lay strait siege
to thy capital till the master he be ; * and I have bidden the
bearer of this letter that he tarry with thee but days three * So,
an thou do my demand, thou shalt be saved ; else will I send that
which I have said unto thee." Then he sealed the scroll and gave
it to a messenger, who journeyed with it till he came to the
capital of Wird Khan and delivered it to him. When the King
read it, his strength failed him, his breast waxed strait and he
made sure of destruction, having none to whom he might resort
for aid or advice. Presently he rose and went in to his favourite
wife who, seeing him changed of colour, said to him, " What
mattereth thee, O King?" Quoth he, "This day I am no King,
but slave to the King." And he opened the letter and read it to
her, whereupon she fell to weeping and wailing and rending her
raiment. Then he asked her, " Hast thou aught of rede or resource
in this grievous strait ? " ; but she answered, " Women have no
resource in time of war, nor have women any strength or aught of
counsel. 'Tis men alone who in like of this affair have force and
discourse and resource." When the King heard her words, there
befel him the utmost regret and repentance and remorse for that
he had transgressed against his Wazirs and Officers and Lords of

his land, And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased

to say her permitted say.

fofjen it tons tfje Nine ^un&wlr anfc 2Tfoent2 - fotm!)

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when
King Wird Khan heard the words of his favourite wife there befel
him the utmost regret and repentance for having transgressed
against and slain his Wazirs and the chiefs of his state, and he
would that he had died ere there came to him the like of these
shameful tidings. Then he said to his women, " Verily, there hath
betided me from you that which befel the Francolin and the
Tortoises." Asked they, " What was that ? ", and he answered,
"Men tell this tale of

The Franco/in and the Tortoises.' 113


IT is said that sundry Tortoises dwelt once in a certain island
abounding in trees and fruiterers and rills, and it fortuned, one
day, that a Francolin, passing over the island, was overcome with
the fiery heat and fatigue and being in grievous suffering stayed
his flight therein. Presently, looking about for a cool place, he
espied the resort of the Tortoises and alighted down near their
home. Now they were then abroad foraging for food, and
when they returned from their feeding-places to their dwelling,
they found the Francolin there. His beauty pleased them and
Allah made him lovely in their eyes, so that they exclaimed
" Subhana 'llah," extolling their Creator and loved the Francolin
with exceeding love and rejoiced in him, saying one to other,
" Forsure this is of the goodliest of the birds ; " and all began to
caress him and entreat him with kindness. When he saw that
they looked on him with eyes of affection, he inclined to them and
companioned with them and took up his abode with them, flying
away in the morning whither he would and returning at eventide
to pass the night by side of them. On this wise he continued a
long while until the Tortoises, seeing that his daily absence from
them desolated them and finding that they never saw him save by
night (for at dawn he still took flight in haste and they knew not
what came of him, for all that their love grew to him), said each
to other, " Indeed, we love this Francolin and he is become our
true friend and we cannot bear parting from him, so how shall we
devise some device tending to make him abide with us always ?
For he flieth away at dawn and is absent from us all day and we
see him not save by night." Quoth one of them, "Be easy, O my
sisters : I will bring him not to leave us^ for the turn of an eye ? "
and quoth the rest, saying, " An thou do this, we will all be thy
thralls." So, when the Francolin came back from his feeding-
place and sat down amongst them, that wily Tortoise drew near
unto him and called down blessings on him, giving him joy of his
safe return and saying, " O my lord, know that Allah hath vouch-
safed thee our love and hath in like manner set in thy heart the
love of us, whereby thou art become to us a familiar friend and a
comrade in this desert. Now the goodliest of times for those
who love one another is when they are united and the sorest of

114 A If Lay la k wa Laylah.

calamities for them are absence and severance. But thou departest
from us at peep of day and returnest not to us till sundown,
wherefore there betideth us extreme desolation. Indeed this is
exceeding grievous to us and we abide in sore longing for such
reason." The Francolin replied, " Indeed, I love you also and
yearn for you yet more than you can yearn for me, nor is it easy
for me to leave you ; but my hand hath no help for this, seeing that
I am a fowl with wings and may not wone with you always,
because that is not of my nature. For a bird, being a winged
creature, may not remain still, save it be for the sake of sleep
o' nights ; but, as soon as it is day, he flieth away and seeketh his
morning-meal in what place soever pleaseth him." Answered the
Tortoise, " Sooth thou speakest f Nevertheless he who hath wings
hath no repose at most seasons, for that the good he getteth is not
a fourth part of what ill betideth him, and the highmost aims of
the creature are repose and ease of life. Now Allah hath bred
between us and thee love and fellowship and we fear for thee, lest
some of thine enemies catch thee and thou perish and we be
denied the sight of thy countenance." Rejoined the Francolin,
" True ! But what rede hast thou or resource for my case ? "
Quoth the Tortoise, " My advice is that thou pluck out thy wing-
feathers, wherewith thou speed est thy flight, and tarry with us in
tranquillity, eating of our meat and drinking of our drink in this
pasturage, that aboundeth in trees rife with fruits yellow-ripe and
we will sojourn, we and thou, in this fruitful stead and enjoy the
company of one another." The Francolin inclined to her speech,
seeking ease for himself, and plucked out his wing-feathers, one
by one, in accordance with the rede approved of by the Tortoise ;
then he took up his abode with them and contented himself with
the little ease and transient pleasure he enjoyed. Presently up
came a Weasel J and glancing at the Francolin, saw that his wings
were plucked, so that he could not fly, whereat he rejoiced with
joy exceeding and said to himself, " Verily yonder Francolin is fat
of flesh and scant of feather." So he went up to him and seized
him, whereupon the Francolin called out to the Tortoises for
help ; but when they saw the Weasel hend him, they drew apart
from him and huddled together, choked with weeping for him,
for they witnessed how the beast tortured him. Quoth the
Francolin, " Is there aught with you but weeping ?"; and quoth

1 Arab. " Ibn 'Irs." See vol. iu. 147.

The Francolin and the Tortoises. 1 1 5

they, " O our brother, we have neither force nor resource nor any
course against a Weasel." At this the Francolin was grieved and
cutting off all his hopes of life said to them, " The fault is not
yours, but mine own fault, in that I hearkened to you and plucked
out my wing-feathers wherewith I used to fly. Indeed I deserve
destruction for having obeyed you, and I blame you not in aught."
" On like wise," continued the King, " I do not blame you, O
women ; but I blame and reproach myself for that I remembered
not that ye were the cause of the transgression of our father
Adam, by reason whereof he was cast out from the Garden of
Eden and for that I forgot ye are the root of all evil and hearkened
to you, in mine ignorance, lack of sense and weakness of judgment,
and slew my Wazirs and the Governors of my State, who were
my loyal advisers in all mine actions and my glory and my
strength against whatsoever troubled me. But at this time find
I not one to replace them nor see I any who shall stand me in

their stead ; and I fall into utter perdition. And Shahrazad

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

Koto fofjen it toas tlje Nine f^untirrti anU &toentp - fiftf) Kfg!)t,

She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the
King blamed himself saying, " 'Twas I that hearkened to you in
mine ignorance and slew my Wazirs so that now I find none to
stand in their stead ; and unless Allah succour me with one of
sound judgment, who shall guide me to that wherein is my
deliverance, I am fallen into utter perdition." Then he arose and
withdrew into his bedchamber, bemoaning his Wazirs and wise
men and saying, " Would Heaven those lions were with me at this
time, though but for an hour ; so I might excuse myself unto
them and look on them and bemoan to them my case and the
travail that hath betided me after them ! " And he abode all his
day sunken in the sea of cark and care neither eating nor drinking.
But as soon as the night fell dark, he arose and changing his
raiment, donned old clothes and disguised himself and went forth
at a venture to walk about the city, so haply he might hear from
any some word of comfort. As he wandered about the main
streets, behold, he chanced upon two boys who had sought a
retired seat by a wall and he observed that they were equal in
age, or about twelve years old. As they talked together he drew

Il6 A If Lay I ah wa Laylah.

near them whereas he might hear and apprehend what they said,
unseen of them, and heard one say to the other, " Listen, O my
brother, to what my sire told me yesternight of the calamity
which hath betided him in the withering of his crops before their
time, by reason of the rarity of rain and the sore sorrow that is
fallen on this city." Quoth the other, " Wettest thou not the cause
of this affliction ? "; and quoth the first, " No ! and, if thou ken it,
pray tell it me." Rejoined the other, " Yes, I wot it and will tell
it thee. Know that I have heard from one of my father's friends
that our King slew his Wazirs and Grandees, not for aught of
offence done of them, but only by reason of his love for women
and inclination to them ; for that his Ministers forbade him from
this, but he would not be forbidden and commanded to do them
die in obedience to his wives. Thus he slew Shimas my sire, who
was his Wazir and the Wazir of his father before him and the
chief of his council ; but right soon thou shalt see how Allah will
do with him by reason of his sins against them and how He shall
avenge them of him." The other boy asked, " What can Allah do
now that they are dead ? "; and his fellow answered, " Know that

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 12 of 38)