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 22 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 22 of 38)
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to him, " O King, I know a man called Sa'adu'llah the Babylonian,
than whom there is not on the face of the earth one more masterly
in these matters, and if thou see fit to send me to him, do so."
Said he, " Go to him;" and quoth I, "Bring me a piece of
carnelian." Accordingly he gave me a great piece of carnelian
and an hundred thousand dinars and a present, which I took, and
with which I betook myself to the land of Babel. Then I sought
out the Shaykh and when he was shown to me I delivered to him
the money and the present, which he accepted and sending for a
lapidary, bade him fashion the carnelian into this amulet. Then
he abode seven months in observation of the stars, till he chose
out an auspicious time for engraving it, when he graved upon it
these talismanic characters which thou seest,.and I took it and

returned with it to the King. And Shahrazad perceived the

dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

fofjcn it foas tfje Nine f^un&rEtr anti jptftg-sfcontj

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the
young man said to the Commander of the Faithful : So after the
Shaykh had spoken, I took this talisman and returned with it to
the King. Now the Princess was bound with four chains, and

1 The Bui- and Mac. Edits, give the Princess's malady, in error, as Daa al-Suda*
(megrims), instead of Daa al-Sar' (epilepsy), as in the Bresl. Edit. The latter would
mean that she is possessed by a demon, again the old Scriptural fancy (see vol. v. 28).
The subject is highly fitted for romance but not for a " serious " book which ought to
know better.

2O4 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

every night a slave-girl lay. with her and was found in the morning
with her throat cut. The King took the amulet and laid it upon
his daughter who was straightway made whole. At this he
rejoiced with exceeding joy and invested me with a vest of honour
and gave alms of much money ; and he caused set the amulet in
the Princess's necklace. It chanced, one day, that she embarked
with her women in a ship and went for a sail on the sea. Presently,
one of her maids put out her hand to her, to sport with her, and
the necklace brake asunder and fell into the waves. From that
( hour the possessor 1 of the Princess returned to her, wherefore
great grief betided the King and he gave me much money, saying,
" Go thou to Shaykh Sa'adu'ilah and let him make her another
amulet, in lieu of that which is lost." I journeyed to Babel,
but found the old man dead ; whereupon I returned and told the
King, who sent me and ten others to go round about in all
countries, so haply we might find a remedy for her : and now Allah
hath caused me happen on it with thee." Saying these words, he
took from me the amulet, O Commander of the Faithful, and went
his ways. Such, then, is the cause of the wanness of my com-
plexion. As for me, I repaired to Baghdad, carrying all my wealth
with me, and took up my abode in the lodgings where I lived
whilome. On the morrow, as soon as it was light, I donned my
dress and betook myself to the house of Tahir ibn al-Alaa, that
haply I might see her whom I loved, for the love of her had never
ceased to increase upon my heart. But when I came to his home,
I saw the balcony broken down and the lattice builded up ; so I
stood awhile, pondering my case and the shifts of Time, till there
came up a serving-man, and I questioned him, saying, " What hath
God done with Tahir ibn al-Alaa ? " He answered, " O my brother,
he hath repented to Almighty Allah. 2 " Quoth I, "What was the
cause of his repentance ? " ; and quoth he, " O my brother, in such
a year there came to him a merchant, by name Abu al-Hasan the
Omani, who abode with his daughter awhile, till his wealth was all
spent, when the old man turned him out, broken-hearted. Now
the girl loved him with exceeding love, and when she was parted
from him, she sickened of a sore sickness and came nigh upon
death. As soon as her father knew how it was with her, he sent
after and sought for Abu al-Hasan through the lands, pledging

1 Arab AJ-'Ariz = the demon who possessed her.
1 i.e. He hath. renounced his infamous traffic.

Hanin Al-Raskid and Abu Hasan. 205

himself to bestow upon whoso should produce him an hundred
thousand dinars ; but none could find him nor come on any trace
of him ; and she is now hard upon death." Quoth I, "And how
is it with her sire ? " and quoth the servant, " He hath sold all his
girls, for grief of that which hath befallen him, and hath repented
to Almighty Allah." Then asked I, " What wouldst thou say to
him who should direct thee to Abu al-Hasan the Omani ? " ; and
he answered, " Allah upon thee, O my brother, that thou do this
and quicken my poverty and the poverty of my parents * ! " I
rejoined, "Go to her father and say to him, Thou owest me the
reward for good news, for that Abu al-Hasan the Omani standeth
at the door." With this he set off trotting, as he were a mule
loosed from the mill, and presently came back, accompanied by
Shaykh Tahir himself, who no sooner saw me than he returned to
his house and gave the man an hundred thousand dinars which he
took and went away blessing me. Then the old man came up and
embraced me and wept, saying, " O my lord, where hast thou been
absent all this while ? Indeed, my daughter hath been killed by
reason of her separation from thee ; but come with me into the
house." So we entered and he prostrated himself in gratitude to
the Almighty, saying, " Praised be Allah who hath reunited us
with thee!" Then he went in to his daughter and said to her,
"The Lord hath healed thee of this sickness ;" and said she, " O
my papa, I shall never be whole of my sickness, save I look upon
the face of Abu al-Hasan." Quoth he, " An thou wilt eat a morsel
and go to the Hammam, I will bring thee in company with him."
Asked she, " Is it true that thou sayst ? " ; and he answered, " By
the Great God, 'tis true ! " She rejoined, " By Allah, if I look
upon his face, I shall have no need of eating ! " Then said he to
his page, " Bring in thy lord." Thereupon I entered, and when
she saw me, O Prince of True Believers, she fell down in a swoon,
and presently coming to herself, recited this couplet :

Yea, Allah hath joined the parted twain, o When no thought they thought e'er
to meet again.

Then she sat upright and said, " By Allah, O my lord, I had not
deemed to see thy face ever more, save it were in a dream ! >: So
she embraced me and wept, and said, " O Abu al-Hasan, now will

Alluding to the favourite Eastern saying, "The poor man hath no life."

206 A If Laylah wa Laylah,

I eat and drink." The old man her sire rejoiced to hear these
words and they brought her meat and drink and we ate and drank,
O Commander of the Faithful. After this, I abode with them
awhile, till she was restored to her former beauty, when her father
sent for the Kazi and the witnesses and bade write out the
marriage-contract between her and me and made a mighty great
bride-feast ; and she is my wife to this day and this is my son by
her." So saying he went away and returned with a boy of rare
beauty and symmetry of form and favour to whom said he, " Kiss
the ground before the Commander of the Faithful.'* He kissed
ground before the Caliph, who marvelled at his beauty and glorified
his Creator ; after which Al-Rashid departed, he and his company,
saying, "OJa afar, verily, this is none other than a marvellous thing,
never saw I nor heard I aught more wondrous." When he was
seated in the palace of the Caliphate, he cried, " O Masrur ! " who
replied, " Here am I, O my lord ! " Then said he, " Bring the
year's tribute of Bassorah and Baghdad and Khorasan, and set it
in this recess. 1 ' Accordingly he laid the three tributes together
and they were a vast sum of money, whose tale none might tell
save Allah. Then the Caliph bade draw a curtain before the
recess and said to Ja'afar, " Fetch me Abu al- Hasan," Replied
Ja'afar, " I hear and obey," and going forth, returned presently
with the Omani, who kissed ground before the Caliph, fearing lest
he had sent for him because of some fault that he had committed
when he was with him in his house. Then said Al-Rashid,
" Harkye, O Omani ! " and he replied, " Adsum, O Prince of True
Believers ! May Allah ever bestow his favours upon thee ! "
Quoth the Caliph, "Draw back yonder curtain." Thereupon
Abu al-Hasan drew back the curtain from the recess and
was confounded and perplexed at the mass of money he saw
there. Said Al-Rashid, " O Abu al-Hasan, whether is the more,
this money or that thou didst lose by the amulet 2 ? " ; and he
answered, "This is many times the greater, O Commander of the
Faithful ! " Quoth the Caliph, " Bear witness, all ye who are
present, that I give this money to this young man." So Abu

1 In this and the following lines some change is necessary for the Bresl. and Mac.
texts are very defective. The Arabic word here translated "recess" is "Aywan,"
prop, a hall, an open saloon.

2 i.e. by selling it for thirty thousand gold pieces, when he might have got a million
for it.

Ibrahim and Jamilah, 207

al-Hasan kissed ground and was abashed and wept before the
Caliph for excess of joy. Now when he wept, the tears ran down
from his eyelids upon his cheeks and the blood returned to its
place and his face became like the moon on the night of its
fulness. Whereupon quoth the Caliph, " There is no god but the
God ! Glory be to Him who decreeth chaage upon change and
is Himself the Everlasting who changeth not ! " Saying these
words, he bade fetch a mirror and showed Abu al-Hasan his face
therein, which when he saw, he prostrated himself, in gratitude to
the Most High Lord. Then the Caliph bade transport the money
to Abu al-Hasan's house and charged the young man not to absent
himself from him, so he might enjoy his company as a cup-com-
panion. Accordingly he paid him frequent visits, till Al-Rashid
departed to the mercy of Almighty Allah ; and glory be to Him
who dieth not the Lord of the Seen and the Unseen ! And among
tales they tell is one touching


AL-K.HASIB, 2 Wazir of Egypt, had a son named Ibrahfm, than
whom there was none goodlier, and of his fear for him, he suffered
him not to go forth, save to the Friday prayers. One day, as the
youth was returning from the mosque, he came upon an old man,
\vith whom were many books ; so he lighted down from his horse
and seating himself beside him, began to turn over the tomes and
examine them. In one of them he espied the semblance of a
woman which all but spoke, never was seen on the earth's face one
more beautiful ; and as this captivated his reason and confounded
his wit, he said to the old man, " O Shaykh, sell me this picture."

1 The tale is not in the Bresl. Edit.

2 Al-Khasib (= the fruitful) was the son of 'Abd al-Hamid and intendant of the tribute
of Egypt under Harun al-Rashid, but neither Lord nor Sultan. Lane (iii. 669) quotes
three couplets in his honour by Abu Nowas from p. 119 of " Elmacini (Al-Makin)
Historia Saracenica."

If our camel visit not the land of Al-Khasib, what man after Al-Khasib shall they

visit ?
For generosity is not his neighbour ; nor hath it sojourned near him ; but generosity

goeth wherever he goeth :
He is a man who purchaseth praise with his wealth, and who knowelh that the

periods of Fortune revolve.

208 A If Laylah wa Laylah*

The bookseller kissed ground between his hands and said, " O my
lord, 'tis thine without price. 1 " Ibrahim gave him an hundred
dinars and taking the book in which was the picture, fell to gazing
upon it and weeping night and day, abstaining from meat and
drink and sleep. Then said he in his mind, " An I ask the book-
seller of the painter of this picture, .haply he will tell me ; and if
the original be living, I will seek access to her ; but, if it be only
a picture, I will leave doting upon it and plague myself no more^

for a thing which hath no real existence." And Shahrazad per-j

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

jlofo fofjen it foas tfje Nine ^unttrefc anfc jFiftg-tftirli Ni$t,

She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the

youth Ibrahim said in his mind, " An I ask the bookseller of the

painter of this picture, haply he will tell me ; and, if it be only a

picture, I will leave doting upon it and plague myself no more for

a thing which hath no real existence." So on the next Friday

he betook himself to the bookseller, who sprang up to receive him,

and said to him, " Oh uncle, tell me who painted this picture."

He replied, " O my lord, a man of the people of Baghdad painted

it, by name Abu al-Kasim al-Sandalani who dwelleth in a quarter

called Al-Karkh ; but I know not of whom it is the portraiture."

So Ibrahim left him without acquainting any of his household with

his case, and returned to the palace, after praying the Friday

prayers. Then he took a bag and filling it with gold and gems

to the value of thirty thousand dinars, waited till the morning,

when he went out, without telling any, and presently overtook a

caravan. Here he saw a Badawi and asked him, " O uncle, what

distance is between me and Baghdad ?"; and the other answered,

"O my son, where art thou, and where is Baghdad 2 ? Verily,

between thee and it is two months' journey." Quoth Ibrahim,

" O nuncle, an thou wilt guide me to Baghdad, I will give thee an

hundred dinars and this mare under me that is worth other

thousand gold pieces ; " and quoth the Badawi, " Allah be witness

of what we say ! Thou shalt not lodge this night but with me."

1 The old story " Ala judi-k" = upon thy generosity, which means at least ten times
the price.

* i.e. The distance is enormous..

Ibrahim and Jamilah. 209

So Ibrahim agreed to this and passed the night with him. At
break of dawn, the Badawi took him and fared on with him in
haste by a near road, in his greed for the mare and the promised
good ; nor did they leave wayfaring till they came to the walls of
Baghdad, when said the wildling, " Praised be Allah for safety I
O my lord, this is Baghdad." Whereat Ibrahim rejoiced with
exceeding joy and alighting from the mare, gave her to the Desert-
man, together with the hundred dinars. Then he took the bag
and entering the city walked on, enquiring for the quarter Al-
Karkh and the station of the merchants, till Destiny drave him to
a by-way, wherein were ten houses, five fronting five, and at the
farther end was a two-leaved door with a silver ring. By the gate
stood two benches of marble, spread with the finest carpets, and
on one of them sat a man of handsome aspect and reverend, clad
in sumptuous clothing and attended by five Mamelukes like moons.
When the youth Ibrahim saw the street, he knew it by the de-
scription the bookseller had given him ; so he salamed to the man,
who returned his salutation and bidding him welcome, made him
sit down and asked him of his case. Quoth Ibrahim, " I am a
stranger man and desire of thy favour that thou look me out a
house in this street where I may take up my abode." With this
the other cried out, saying, " Ho, Ghazalah 1 ! "; and there came
forth to him a slave-girl, who said, " At thy service, my lord ! "
Said her master, "Take some servants and fare ye all and every
to such a house and clean it and furnish it with whatso is needful
for this handsome youth." So she went forth and did his bidding ;
whilst the old man took the youth and showed him the house ; and
he said, " O my lord, how much may be the rent of this house?"
The other answered, " O bright of face, I will take no rent of thee
whilst thou abidest therein." Ibrahim thanked him for this and
the old man called another slave-girl, whereupon there came forth
to him a damsel like the sun, to whom said he, " Bring chess."
So she brought it and one of the servants set the cloth ; 2 where-
upon said the Shaykh to Ibrahim, " Wilt thou play with me ? "; and
he answered, "Yes." So they played several games and Ibrahim
beat him, when his adversary exclaimed, " Well done, O youth !

1 A gazelle ; but here the slave-girl's name.

2 See vol. ii. 104. Herklots (PI. vii. fig. 2) illustrates the cloth used in playing the
Indian game, Pachisi. The " board " is rather European than Oriental, but it has of
late years spread far and wide, especially the backgammon board.


210 Alf Laylah wa Lay I ah.

Thou art indeed perfect in qualities. By Allah, there is not
one in Baghdad can beat me, and yet thou hast beaten me ! "
Now when they had made ready the house and furnished it with
all that was needful, the old man delivered the keys to Ibrahim
and said to him, " O my lord, wilt thou not enter my place and
eat of my bread ? " He assented and walking in with him, found
it a handsome house and a goodly, decorated with gold and fulj
of all manner pictures and furniture galore and other things, such
as tongue faileth to set out. The old man welcomed him and
called for food, whereupon they brought a table of the make of
Sana'a of Al-Yaman and spread it with all manner rare viands,
than which there was naught costlier nor more delicious. So
Ibrahim ate his sufficiency, after which he washed his hands and
proceeded to inspect the house and furniture. Presently, he turned
to look for the leather bag, but found it not and said in himself,
" There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the
Glorious, the Great ! I have eaten a morsel worth a dirham or
two and have lost a bag wherein is thirty thousand dinars' worth :
but I seek aid of Allah ! ' And he was silent and could not speak

And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say

her permitted say.

Jtoto toijen it toas tf)t JLine l^imtoteb anfc Jfiftg - fourtf) J2i0f)t,

She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when
the youth Ibrahim saw that his bag was lost, he was silent and
could not speak for the greatness of his trouble. Presently his
host brought the chess and said, to him, " Wilt thou play with
me ? "; and he said, " Yes." So they played and the old man beat
him. Ibrahim cried, "Well done!" and left playing and rose:
upon which his host asked him, "What aileth thee, O youth?"
whereto he answered, " I want the bag." Thereupon the Shaykh
rose and brought it out to him, saying, " Here it is, O my lord.
Wilt thou now return to playing with me?" "Yes," replied
Ibrahim. Accordingly they played and the young man beat him.
Quoth the Shaykh, " When thy thought was occupied with the
bag, I beat thee : but, now I have brought it back to thee, thou
beatest me. But, tell me, O my son, what countryman art thou : "
Quoth Ibrahim, "I am from Egypt," and quoth the oldster, "And
what is the cause of thy coming to Baghdad ? "; whereupon
Ibrahim brought out the portrait and said to him,, " Know, O uncle,

Ibrahim and Jamilah. 2 1 1

that I am the son of Al-Khasib, Wazir of Egypt, and I saw
with a bookseller this picture, which bewildered my wit. 1 asked
him who painted it and he said, " He who wrought it is a man,
Abu al-Kasim al-Sandalani hight, who dwelleth in a street called
the Street of Saffron in the Karkh quarter of Baghdad." So I
took with me somewhat of money and came hither alone, none
knowing of my case ; and I desire of the fulness of thy favour that
thou direct me to Abu al-Kasim, so I may ask him of the cause
of his painting this picture and whose portrait it is. And whatso-
ever he desireth of me, I will give him that same." Said his host,
" By Allah, O my son, I am Abu al-Kasim al-Sandalani, and this
is a prodigious thing how Fate hath thus driven thee to me ! >:
Now when Ibrahim heard these words, he rose to him and
embraced him and kissed his head and hands, saying, "Allah
upon thee, tell me whose portrait it is ! " The other replied, " I
hear and I obey," and rising, opened a closet and brought out a
number of books, wherein he had painted the same picture. Then
said he, " Know, O my son, that the original of this portrait is my
cousin, the daughter of my father's brother, whose name is Abu
al-Lays. 1 She dwelleth in Bassorah of which city her father is
governor, and her name is Jamilah the beautiful. There is not
on the face of the earth a fairer than she ; but she is averse from
men and cannot hear the word ' man ' pronounced in her presence.
Now I once repaired to my uncle, to the intent that he should
marry me to her, and was lavish of wealth to him ; but he would
not consent thereto : and when his daughter knew of this she was
indignant and sent to me to say, amongst other things : An thou
have wit, tarry not in this town ; else wilt thou perish and thy sin
shall be on thine own neck. 2 For she is a virago of viragoes.
Accordingly I left Bassorah, brokenhearted, and limned this like-
ness of her in books and scattered them abroad in various lands,
so haply they might fall into the hands of a comely youth like
thyself and he contrive access to her and peradventure she might
fall in love with him, purposing to take a promise of him that,
when he should have possession of her, he would show her to me,
though I look but for a moment from afar off." When Ibrahim
son of Al-Khasib heard these words, he bowed his head awhile in
thought and Al-Sandalani said to him, " O my son, I have not

1 i.e. " Father of the Lion."

* Or as we should say, " Thy blood will be on thine own head."

212 Alf Laylah wa Laylah.

seen in Baghdad a fairer than thou, and meseems that, when she
seeth thee, she will love thee. Art thou willing, therefore, in case
thou be united with her and get possession of her, to show her to
me, if I look but for a moment from afar ? " Ibrahim replied,
" Yes ; " and the painter rejoined, " This being so, tarry with me
till thou set out." But the youth retorted, " I cannot tarry
longer ; for my heart with love of her is all afire." " Have
patience three days," said the Shaykh, " till I fit thee out a ship,
wherein thou mayst fare to Bassorah." Accordingly he waited
whilst the old man equipped him a craft and stored therein all
that he needed of meat and drink and so forth. When the three
days were past, he said to Ibrahim, " Make thee ready for the
voyage ; for I have prepared thee a packet-boat furnished with all
thou requirest. The craft is my property and the seamen are of
my servants. In the vessel is what will suffice thee till thy return,
and I have charged the crew to serve thee till thou come back in
safety." Thereupon Ibrahim farewelled his host and embarking,
sailed down the river till he came to Bassorah, where he pulled
out an hundred dinars for the sailors , but they said, " We have
gotten our hire of our lord." However he replied, " Take this by
way of largesse; and I will not acquaint him therewith." So they
took it and blessed him. Then the youth landed and entering
the town asked, "Where do the merchants lodge?" and was
answered, " In a Khan called the Khan of Hamadan." 1 So he
walked to the market wherein stood the Khan, and all eyes were
fixed upon him and men's sight was attracted to him by reason
of his exceeding beauty and loveliness. He entered the caravan-
serai, with one of the sailors in his company; and, asking for the
porter, was directed to an aged man of reverend aspect. He
saluted him and the doorkeeper returned his greeting; after
which Ibrahim said to him, " O uncle, hast thou a nice chamber ? "
He replied, " Yes," and taking him and the sailor, opened to them
a handsome room decorated with gold, and said, " O youth, this
chamber befitteth thee." Ibrahim pulled out two dinars and gave
them to him, saying, " Take these to key-money." 2 And the

1 Called after the famous town in Persian Mesopotamia which however is spelt with
the lesser aspirate. See p. 144. The Geographical works of Sadik-i-Ispahani, London;
Oriental Ttansl. Fund, 1882. Hamdan (with the greater aspirate) and Hamdun mean
only the member masculine, which may be a delicate piece of chaff for the gallery.

2 Arab. " Hulwan al-miftah," for which see vol. vii. 212. Mr. Payne compares it with
the French denier a Dieu, given to the concierge on like occasions.

Ibrahim and Jamilah. 2 1 3

porter took them and blessed him. Then the youth Ibrahim sent
the sailor back to the ship and entered the room, where the door-
keeper abode with him and served him, saying, "O my lord, thy
coming hath brought us joy! ' Ibrahim gave him a dinar, and
said, " Buy us herewith bread and meat and sweetmeats and
wine." Accordingly the doorkeeper went to the market ; and,
buying ten dirhams' worth of victual, brought it back to Ibrahim
and gave him the other ten dirhams. But he cried to him, " Spend

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 22 of 38)