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 30 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 30 of 38)
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thou say to him, O master, I went to-day into the Khan of Al-
Yasirjiyah, where I saw this damsel and bought her for a thousand
dinars. Look at her for me and tell me whether she was cheap at that
price or dear. Then uncover to him my face and breasts and show
all of me to him ; after which do thou carry me back to thy house,
whence I will go to my chamber by the secret passage, so I may
see the issue of our affair with him." Then the twain passed the
night in mirth and merriment, converse and good cheer, dalliance
and delight till dawn, when she returned to her own place and
sent the handmaid to arouse her lawful lord and her lover.
Accordingly they arose and prayed the dawn-prayer and brake'
their fast and drank coffee, after which Obayd repaired to his shop
and Kamar al-Zaman betook himself to his own house. Presently,
in came Halimah to him by the tunnel, in the guise of a slave-girl,
and indeed she was by birth a slave-girl. 1 Then he went out and
she walked behind him, till he came to the jeweller's shop and
saluting him, sat down and said, "O master, I went into the Khan
of Al-Yasirjiyah to-day, to look about me, and saw this damsel in
the broker's hands. She pleased me ; so I bought her for a
thousand dinars and I would have thee look upon her and see
if she be cheap at that price or no." So saying, he uncovered her
face and the jeweller saw her to be his own wife, clad in her

1 Hence, according to Moslem and Eastern theory generally her lewd and treasonable
conduct. But in Egypt not a few freeborn women and those too of the noblest, would
beat her hollow at her own little game. See for instance the booklet attributed to
Jalal al-Siyuti and entitled Kitab al-Izah (Book of Explanation) fi 'Ilm al-Nikah (in
the Science of Carnal Copulation). There is a copy of it in the British Museum ; and a
friend kindly supplied me with a lithograph from Cairo; warning me that there are
doubts about the authorship.

Kamar Al-Zaman and the Jeweller's Wife. 281

costliest clothes, tricked out in her finest trinkets and kohl'd and
henna'd, even as she was wont to adorn herself before him in the
house. He knew with full knowledge her face and dress and
trinkets, for those he had wrought with his own hand, and he saw
on her fingers the seal-rings he had newly made for Kamar al-
Zaman, whereby he was certified with entire assurance that she
was indeed his very wife. So he asked her, " What is thy name,
O slave-girl ?" ; and she answered, " Halimah," naming to him her
own name ; whereat he was amazed and said to the youth, " For
how much didst thou buy her?" He replied, "For a thousand
dinars " ; and the jeweller rejoined, " Thou hast gotten her gratis ;
for her rings and clothes and trinkets are worth more than that."
Said Kamar al-Zaman, " May Allah rejoice thee with good news !
Since she pleaseth thee, I will carry her to my house ; " and Obayd
said, " Do thy will." So he took her off to his house, whence she
passed through the secret passage to her own apartment and sat
there. Meanwhile, fire flamed in the jeweller's heart and he said
to himself, " I will go see my wife. If she be at home, this slave-girl
must be her counterpart, and glory be to Him who alone hath no
counterpart ! But, if she be not at home, 'tis she herself without a
doubt." Then he set off running, and coming to his house, found
his wife sitting in the same clothes and ornaments he had seen
upon her in the shop ; whereupon he beat hand upon hand, saying,
" There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the
Glorious, the Great ! " " O man," asked she, " art thou mad or
what aileth thee? 'Tis not thy wont to do thus, and needs must
it be that something hath befallen thee." Answered he, " If thou
wilt have me tell thee be not vexed." Quoth she, " Say on " ;
so he said, " Our friend the merchant hath bought a slave-girl,
whose shape is as thy shape and her height as thy height ; more-
over, her name is even as thy name and her apparel is the like of
thine apparel. Brief, she resembleth thee in all her attributes, and
on her fingers are seal-rings like thy seal-rings and her trinkets are
as thy trinkets. So, when he displayed her to me, methought
it was thyself and F was perplexed concerning my case. Would
we had never seen this merchant nor companied with him ; and
would he had never left his own country and we had not known
him, for he hath troubled my life which before was serene, causing
ill-feeling to succeed good faith and making doubt to enter into
my heart." Said she, " Look in my face, belike I am she who was
with him and he is my lover and I disguised myself as a slave-girl

282 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

and agreed with him that he should display me to thee, so he
might lay a snare for thee." He replied, " What words are these ?
Indeed, I never suspected that thou wouldst do the like of this
deed." Now this jeweller was unversed in the wiles of women and
knew not how they deal with men, nor had he heard the saying of
him who said :

A heart bore thee off in chase of the fair, o As fled Youth and came Age w'

his hoary hair r
Layla troubles me and love-joys are far ; > And rival and risks brings us cark

and care.
An would'st ask me of woman, behold I am o In physic of womankind wise and

ware :
When grizzleth man's head and his monies fail, o His lot in their love is a

poor affair.

Nor that of another r 1

Gainsay women ; he obeyeth Allah best, who saith them nay And he prospers

not who giveth them his bridle-rein to sway ;
For they '11 hinder him from winning to perfection in his gifts, Though a

thousand years he study, seeking after wisdom's way.

And a third :

Women Satans are, made for woe of man : * To Allah I fly from such

Satanesses !
Whom they lure by their love he to grief shall come * And lose bliss of world

and the Faith that blesses.

Said she, " Here am I sitting in my chamber ; so go thou to him
forthright and knock at the door and contrive to go in to him
quickly. An thou see the damsel with him 'tis a slave-girl of his
who resembleth me (and Glory be to Him who hath no resem-
blance! 2 ) But, an thou see no slave-girl with him, then am I
myself she whom thou sawest with him in the shop, and thine ill
thought of me will be stablished." " True," answered Obayd, and
went out leaving her, whereupon she passed through the hidden
passage and seating herself by Kamar al-Zaman, told him what
had passed, saying, " Open the door quickly and show me to him."

V _

1 These lines have occurred in vol. iii. 214: I quote Mr. Payne.
3 This ejaculation, as the waw shows, is parenthetic ; spoken either by Halimah, by
Shahrazad or by the writer.

Kamar Al-Zaman and the Jeweller's Wife. 283

Now, as they were talking, behold, there came a knocking at the
door. Quoth Kamar al-Zaman, " Who is at the door ? "; and
quoth the jeweller, " I, thy friend ; thou displayedst to me thy
slave-girl in the bazar, and I rejoiced for thee in her, but my joy
in her was not completed ; so open the door and let me look at
her again." Rejoined he, " So be it," and opened the door to him,
whereupon he saw his wife sitting by him. She rose and kissed
their hands ; and he looked at her ; then she talked with him
awhile and he saw her not to be distinguished from his wife in
aught and said, " Allah createth whatso He will." Then he went
away more disheartened than before and returned to his own house
where he saw his wife sitting, for she had foregone him thither by

the souterrain. And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and

ceased saying her permitted say.

fofjen it foas tfje jafne l^untrrrtr anfc ^ebentg-fifti)

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the young
lady forewent her spouse by the souterrain as he fared through the
door and sat down in her upper chamber; 1 so as soon as he entered
she asked him, "What hast thou seen?" and he answered, "I
found her with her master ; and she resernbleth thee." Then said
she, " Off to thy shop and let this suffice thee of ignoble suspicion
and never again deem ill of me." Said he, " So be it : accord me
pardon for what is past." And she, " Allah grant thee grace ! "; 2
whereupon he kissed her right and kft and went back to his shop.
Then she again betook herself to Kamar al-Zaman through the
underground passage, with four bags of money, and said to him,
" Equip thyself at once for the road and be ready to carry off the
money without delay, against I devise for thee the device I have in
mind." So he went out and purchased mules and loaded them and
made ready a travelling litter, he also bought Mamelukes and
eunuchs and sending, without let or hindrance, the whole without
the city, returned to Halimah and said to her, " I have made an
end of my affairs." Quoth she, " And I on my side am ready ; for
I have transported to thy house all the rest of his monies and
treasures and have left him nor little nor much, whereof he may

1 Arab. " Kasr " here meaning an upper room.
1 To avoid saying, I pardon thee.

-84 A If Laylah wci Laylah.

avail himself. All this is of my love for thee, O dearling of my
heart, for I would sacrifice my husband to thee a thousand times.
But now it behoveth, thou go to him and farewell him, saying :
I purpose to depart after three days and am come to bid thee
adieu : so do thou reckon what I owe thee for the hire of the house,
that I may send it to thee and acquit my conscience. Note his
reply and return to me and tell me ; for I can no more : I have
done my best, by cozening him, to anger him with me and cause
him to put me away, but I find him none the less infatuated with
me. So nothing will serve us but to depart to thine own country."
And quoth he, " O rare ! an but swevens prove true ! "* Then he
went to the jeweller's shop and sitting down by him, said to him,
" O master, I set out for home in three days' time, and am come to
farewell thee. So I would have thee reckon what I owe thee for
the hire of the house, that I may pay it to thee and acquit my
conscience." Answered Obayd, " What talk is this ? Verily, 'tis
J who am indebted to thee. By Allah, I will take nothing from
thee for the rent of the house, for thou hast brought down bless-
ings upon us! However, thou desolatest me by thy departure,
and but that it is forbidden to me, I would certainly oppose thee
and hinder thee from returning to thy country and kinsfolk."
Then he took leave of him, whilst they both wept with sore
weeping and the jeweller went with him, and when they entered
Kamar al-Zaman's house, there they found Halimah who stood
before them and served them ; but when Obayd returned home,
he found her sitting there; nor did he cease to see her thus in
each house in turn, for the space of three days, when she said to
Kamar al-Zaman, " Now have I transported to thee all that he
hath of monies and hoards and carpets and things of price, and
there remaineth with him naught save the slave-girl, who used to
come in to you with the night-drink : but I cannot part with her,
for that she is my kinswoman and she is dear to me as a con-
fidante. So I will beat her and be wroth with her and when my
^pouse cometh home, I will say to him : I can no longer put up
with this slave-girl nor stay in the house with her; so take her and
sell her. Accordingly he will sell her and do thoir buy her, that
we may carry her with us." Answered he, " No harm in that."
So she beat the girl and when the jeweller came in, he found her

1 A proverbial saying which here means I could only dream of such good luck.

Kamar Al-Zaman and the Jeweller's Wife. 285

\veeping and asked her why she wept. Quoth she, " My mistress
hath beaten me." He then went in to his wife and said to her,
" What hath that accursed girl done, that thou hast beaten her ? "
She replied, " O man, I have but one word to say to thee, and 'tis
that I can no longer bear the sight of this girl ; so take her and
sell her, or else divorce me." Quoth he, " I will sell her that I
may not cross thee in aught ; " and when he went out to go to the
shop he took her and passed with her by Kamar al Zaman. No
sooner had he gone out than his wife slipped through the under-
ground passage to Kamar al-Zaman, who placed her in the litter,
before the Shaykh her husband reached him. When the jeweller
came up and the lover saw the slave-girl with him, he asked him,
"What girl is this?"; and the other answered, " 'Tis my slave-
girl who used to serve us with the night-drink; she hath disobeyed
her mistress who is wroth with her and hath bidden me sell her."
Quoth the youth, " An her mistress have taken an aversion to her,
there is for her no abiding with her ; but sell her to me, that I
may smell your scent in her, and I will make her handmaid to my
slave Halimah." " Good," answered Obayd : "take her." Asked
Kamar al-Zaman, " What is her price ? " ; but the jeweller said,
" I will take nothing from thee, for thou hast been bountiful to
us." So he accepted her from him and said to Halimah, (< Kiss
thy lord's hand." Accordingly, she came out from the litter and
kissing Obayd's hand, remounted, whilst he looked hard at her.
Then said Kamar al-Zaman, " I commend thee to Allah, O Master
Obayd ! Acquit my conscience of responsibility. 1 " Answered
the jeweller, " Allah acquit thee ! and carry thee safe to thy
family ! " Then he bade him farewell and went to his shop
weeping, and indeed it was grievous to him to part from Kamar
al-Zaman, for that he had been his friend and friendship hath its
debtorship ; yet he rejoiced in the dispelling of the doubts which
had befallen him anent his wife, since the young man was now
gone and his suspicions had not been stablished. Such was his
case ; but as regards Kamar al-Zaman, the young lady said to
him, " An thou wish for safety, travel with me by other than the

wonted way." And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and

ceased to say her permitted say.

1 A good old custom amongst Moslems who have haa business transactions with each
other: such acquittance of all possible claims will be quoted on " Judgment -Day,"
debts will be severely enquired into.

286 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

fofjm it teas tf)t Nine f^un&relr anfc Sbebentg - sixti) Ntgfjt,

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when
Halimah said to Kamar al-Zaman, " An thou wish for safety,
travel with me by other than the wonted way," he replied,
"Hearing and obeying;" and, taking a road other than that
used by folk, fared on without ceasing from region to region till
he reached the confines of Egypt-land * and sent his sire a letter
by a runner. Now his father the merchant Abd al-Rahman was
sitting in the market among the merchants, with a heart on fire
for separation from his son, because no news of the youth had
reached him since the day of his departure ; and while he was in
such case the runner came up and cried, " O my lords, which of
you is called the merchant Abd al-Rahman ? " They said, " What
wouldst thou of him ? " ; and he said, " I have a letter for him
from his son Kamar al-Zaman, whom I left at Al-Arish. 2 " At
this Abd al-Rahman rejoiced and his breast was broadened and
the merchants rejoiced for him and gave him joy of his son's
safety. Then he opened the letter and read as follows : " From
Kamar al-Zaman to the merchant Abd al-Rahman. And after
Peace be upon thee and upon all the merchants ! An ye ask
concerning us, to Allah be the praise and the thanks. Indeed
we have sold and bought and gained and are come back in health,
wealth and weal." Whereupon Abd al-Rahman opened the door*

1 Arab. " Kutr (tractor quarter) Misr," vulgarly pronounced "Masr." I may remind
the reader that the Assyrians called the Nile-valley " Musur" whence probably the
Heb. Misraim a dual form denoting Upper and Lower Egypt which are still dis-
tinguished by the Arabs into Sa'id and Misr. The hieroglyphic term is Ta-mera=:
Land of the Flood ; and the Greek Aigyptos is probably derived from Kahi-Ptah
(region of the great God Ptah) or Ma Ka Ptah (House of the soul of Ptah). The
word " Copt " or "Kopt," in Egyptian " Kubti " and pronounced " Gubti," contains
the same consonants.

* Now an unimportant frontier fort and village dividing Syria- Palestine from Egypt
and famed for the French battle with the Mamelukes (Feb. 19, 1799) and the con-
rention for evacuating Egypt. In the old times it was an important site built upon the
"River of Egypt" now a dried up Wady ; and it was the chief port of the then
populous Najab or South Country. According to Abulfeda it derived its name (the
"boothy," the nest) from a hut built there by the brothers of Joseph when stopped
at the frontier by the guards of Pharaoh. But this is usual Jewish infection of history.

3 Arab. "Bab." which may also = "Chapter" or category. See vol. i., 136 and
elsewhere (index). In Egypt "Bab" sometimes means a sepulchral cave hewn ia
a rock (plur. Biban) from the Coptic " Bib."

Kamar Al-Zaman and the Jeweller's Wife, 287

of rejoicing and made banquets and gave feasts and entertain-
ments galore, sending for instruments of music and addressing
himself to festivities after rarest fashion. When Kamar al-Zaman
came to Al-Salihiyah, 1 his father and all the merchants went forth
to meet him, and Abd al-Rahman embraced him and strained him
to his bosom and sobbed till he swooned away. When he came
to himself he said, " Oh, 'tis a boon day O my son, whereon the
Omnipotent Protector hath reunited us with thee ! ' And he
repeated the words of the bard :

The return of the friend is the best of all boons, c And the joy-cup circles o'

morns and noons :
So well come, welcome, fair welcome to thee, o The light of the time and

the moon o' full moons.

Then, for excess of joy, he poured forth a flood of tears from his
eyes and he recited also these two couplets :

The Moon o' the Time, 2 shows unveiled light ; And, his journey done, at

our door doth alight :
His locks as the nights of his absence are black o And the sun upstands from

his collar's 3 white.

Then the merchants came up to him and saluting him, saw with
him many loads and servants and a travelling litter enclosed in a
spacious circle. 4 So they took him and carried him home ; and
when Halimah came forth from the litter, his father held her a
seduction to all who beheld her. So they opened her an upper
chamber, as it were a treasure from which the talismans had been
loosed ; 5 and when his mother saw her, she was ravished with her

1 i.e. "The Holy," a town some three marches (60 miles) N. East of Cairo; thus show-
ing the honour done to our unheroic hero. There is also a Salihiyah quarter or suburb of
Damascus famous for its cemetery of holy men ; but the facetious Cits change the name
to Zalliniyah = causing to stray ; in allusion to its Kurdish population. Baron von
Hammer reads " le faubourg Adelieh " built by Al-Malik Al-Adil and founded a
chronological argument on a clerical error.

2 Kamar al-Zaman ; the normal pun -on the name ; a practice as popular in the East
as in the West, and worthy only of a pickpocket in either place.

3 Arab. " Azrar" plur. of " Zirr " and lit. = " buttons," i.e. df his robe collar from
which his white neck and face appear shining as the sun.

4 Arab. "Dairah": the usual inclosure of Kanats orient-flaps pitched for privacy
during the halt.

5 i.e. it was so richly ornamented that it resembled an enchanted hoard whose spells,
hiding it from sight, had been broken by some happy treasure seeker.

288 Alf Laylah wa Laylah.

and deemed her a Queen of the wives of the Kings. So she
rejoiced in her and questioned her ; and she answered, " I am wife
to thy son ; " and the mother rejoined, " Since he is wedded to thee
we must make thee a splendid marriage-feast, that we may rejoice
in thee and in my son." On this wise it befel her ; but as regards
the merchant Abd al-Rahman, when the folk had dispersed and
each had wended his way, he foregathered with his son and said
to him, " O my son, what is this slave-girl thou hast brought with
thee and for how much didst thou buy her J ? " Kamar al-Zaman
said' " O my father, she is no slave-girl ; but 'tis she who was the
cause of my going abroad." Asked his sire, "How so?"; and
he answered, " 'Tis she whom the Dervish described to us the
night he lay with us ; for indeed my hopes clave to her from that
moment and I sought not to travel save on account of her The
Arabs came out upon me by the way and stripped me and took
my money and goods, so that I entered Bassorah alone and there
befel me there such and such things ; " and he went on to relate to
his parent all that had befallen him from commencement to
conclusion. Now when he had made an end of his story, his father
said to him, " O my son, and after all this didst thou marry her ? '
" No ; but I have promised her marriage." " Is it thine intent to
marry her ? " " An thou bid me marry her, I will do so ; otherwise
I will not marry her." Thereupon quoth his father, " An thou
marry her, I am quit of thee in this world and in the next, and I
shall be incensed against thee with sore indignation. How canst
thou wed her, seeing that she hath dealt thus with her husband ?
For, even as she did with her spouse for thy sake, so will she do
the like with thee for another's sake, because she is a traitress and
in a traitor there is no trusting. Wherefore an thou disobey me,
I shall be wroth with thee ; but, an thou give ear to.. my word, I
will seek thee out a girl handsomer than she, who shall be pure
and pious, and marry thee to her, though I spend all my substance
upon her ; and I will make thee a wedding without equal and will
glory in thee and in her ; for 'tis better that folk should say, Such
an one hath married such an one's daughter, than that they say, He
hath wedded a slave-girl sans birth or worth." And he went on
to persuade his son to give up marrying .her, by citing in support

1 The merchant who is a " stern parient " and exceedingly ticklish on the Pundonor
saw at first sight her servile origin which had escaped the mother. Usually it is the
other way.

Kamar Al-Zaman and the Jewellers Wife. 289

of his say, proofs, stones, examples, verses and moral instances,
till Kamar al-Zaman exclaimed, " O my father, since the case is
thus, 'tis not right and proper that I marry her." And when his
father heard him speak on such wise, he kissed him between the
eyes., saying, " Thou art my very son, and as I live, O my son, I
will assuredly marry thee to a girl who hath not her equal ! "
Then the merchant set Obayd's wife and her handmaid in a
chamber high up in the house and, before locking the door upon
the twain, he appointed a black slave-girl to carry them their
meat and drink and he said to Halimah, "Ye shall abide im-
prisoned in this chamber, thou and thy maid, till I find one who
will buy you, when I will sell you to him. An ye resist, I will
slay ye both, for thou art a traitress, and there is no good in
thee." Answered she, " Do thy will : I deserve all thou canst do
with me." Then he locked the door upon them and gave his
Harim a charge respecting them, saying, " Let none go up to them
nor speak with them, save the black slave-girl who shall give them
their meat and drink through the casement of the upper chamber."
So she abode with her maid, weeping and repenting her of that
which she had done with her spouse. Meanwhile Abd al-Rahman
sent out the marriage-brokers to look out a maid of birth and
worth for his son, and the women ceased not to make search, and
as often as they saw one girl, they heard of a fairer than she, till
they came to the house of the Shaykh al-Islam 1 and saw his
daughter. In her they found a virgin whose equal was not in
Cairo for beauty and loveliness, symmetry and perfect grace, and
she was a thousand-fold handsomer than the wife of Obayd. So
they told Abd al-Rahman of her and he and the notables repaired
to her father and sought her in wedlock of him. Then they wrote
out the marriage contract and made her a splendid wedding ; after
which Abd al-Rahman gave bride-feasts and held open house forty
days. On the first day, he invited the doctors of the law and they
held a splendid nativity 2 : and on the morrow, he invited all the

1 Not the head of the Church, or Chief Pontiff, but the Chief of the Olema and
Fukaha (Fakihs or D.D.'s.) men learned in the Law (divinity). The order is peculiarly
Moslem, in fact the succedaneum for the Christian "hierarchy," an institution never
contemplated by the Founder of Christianity. This title shows the modern date of the

2 Arab. " Maulid," prop, applied to the Birth-feast of Mohammed which begins on

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 30 of 38)