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 32 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 32 of 38)
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other mate ?
Grant Heaven you ne'er shall forget his state * Who for state of you forgot own

estate !

It cannot be but he will bethink him of my affect and converse
and ask for me, wherefore I will not turn from loving him nor
change from passion for him, though I perish in prison ; for he is
my love and my leach 1 and my reliance is on him that he will yet
return to me and deal fondly with me." When the jeweller heard
his wife's words, he went in to her and said to her, " O traitress,

Arab. Habibi wa tabibf, the common jingle.

300 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

thy hope in him is as the hope of Iblis 1 in Heaven. All these
vices were in thee and I knew not thereof; for, had I been ware of
one single vice, I had not kept thee with me an hour. But now
I am certified of this in thee, it behoveth me to do thee die,
although they put me to death for thee, O traitress!" and he
clutched her with both hands and repeated these two couplets :

O fair ones forth ye cast my faithful love * With sin, nor had ye aught regard

for right :
How long I fondly clung to you, but now * My love is loathing and I hate

your sight.

Then he pressed hardly upon her windpipe and brake her neck,
whereupon her handmaid cried out " Alas, my mistress ! '* Said
he, " O harlot, 'tis thou who art to blame for all this, for that thou
knewest this evil inclination to be in her and toldest me not. 2 '
Then he seized upon her and strangled her. All this happened
while Abd al-Rahman stood, brand in hand, behind the door espying
with his eyes and hearing with his ears. Now when Obayd the
jeweller had done this, apprehension came upon him and he feared
the issue of his affair and said to himself, " As soon as the
merchant learneth that I have killed them in his house, he will
surely slay me ; yet I beseech Allah that He appoint the taking of
my life to be while I am in the True Belief!" And he abode
bewildered about his case and knew not what to do ; but, as he
was thus behold, in came Abd al-Rahman from his lurking-place
without the door and said to him, " No harm shall befal thee, for
indeed thou deservest safety. See this sword in my hand. 'Twas
in my mind to slay thee, hadst thou made peace with her and

1 Iblis and his connection with Diabolos has been noticed in vol. i. 13. The word
is foreign as well as a P.N. and therefore is imperfectly declined, although some
authorities deduce it from "ablasa" = he despaired (of Allah's mercy). Others call
him Al-Haris (the Lion) hence Eve's first-born was named in his honour Abd al-Haris.
His angelic name was Azdzil before he sinned by refusing to prostrate himself to Adam,
as Allah had commanded the heavenly host for a trial of faith, not to worship the first
man, but to make him a Keblah or direction of prayer addressed to the Almighty.
Hence he was ejected from Heaven and became the arch-enemy of mankind (Koran xviii.
48). He was an angel but related to the Jinn : Al-Bayzawi, however (on Koran ii. 82),
opines that angelic by nature he became a Jinn by act. Ibn Abbas held that he belonged
to an order of angels who are called Jinn and begot issue as do the nasnas, the Ghul
and the Kutrub which, however, are male and female, like the pre-Adamite manwoman
of Genesis, the "bi-une" of our modern days. For this subject see Terminal Essay.

* As usual in the East and in the West the husband was the last to hear of his wife's
ill conduct. Bat even Othello did not kill Emilia.

Kamar Al-Zantan and the Jeweller's Wife. 301

restored her to favour, and I would also have slain her and the
maid. But since thou hast done this deed, welcome to thee and
again welcome ! And I will reward thee by marrying thee to my
daughter, Kamar al-Zaman's sister." Then he carried him down
and sent for the woman who washed the dead : whereupon it was
bruited abroad that Kamar al-Zaman had brought with htm two
slave-girls from Bassorah and that both had deceased. So the
people began to condole with him saying, " May thy head live ! "
and " May Allah compensate thee ! " And they washed and
shrouded them and buried them, and none knew the truth of the
matter. Then Abd al-Rahman sent for the Shykh al-Islam and
all the notables and said, " O Shaykh, draw up the contract of
marriage between my daughter Kaukab al-Salah 1 and Master
Obayd the jeweller and set down that her dowry hath been paid
to me in full." So he wrote out the contract and Abd al-Rahman
gave the company to drink of sherbets, and they made one
wedding festival for the two brides the daughter of the Shaykh al-
Islam and Kamar al-Zaman's sister ; and paraded them in one
litter on one and the same night ; after which they carried Kamar
al-Zaman and Obayd in procession together and brought them
in to their brides. 2 When the jeweller went in to Abd al-Rahman's
daughter, he found her handsomer than Halimah and a thousand-
fold lovelier. So he took her maidenhead and on the morrow, he
went to the Hammam with Kamar al-Zaman. Then he abode
with them awhile in pleasance and joyance, after which he began
to yearn for his native land : so he went in to Abd al-Rahman
and said to him, " O uncle, I long for my own country, for I have
there estates and effects, which I left in charge of one of my
prentices ; and I am minded to journey thither that I may sell my
properties and return to thee. So wilt thou give me leave to go to
my country for that purpose ? ' Answered the merchant, " O my
son, I give thee leave to do this and there be no fault in thee or
blame to thee for these words, for ' Love of mother-land is a part
of Religion ' ; and he who hath not good in his own country hath
none in other folks' country. But, haply, an thou depart without

1 i.e. Star of the Morning : the first word occurs in Bar Cokba Barchocheba = Son
of the Star, i.e., which was to come out of Jacob (Numbers xxiv, 17). The root, which
does not occur in Heb., is Kaukab to shine. This Robbi Akilah was also called Bar
Cozla = Son of the Lie.

2 Here some excision has been judged advisable as the names of the bridegrooms and
the brides recur with damnable iteration.

302 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

thy wife, when thou art once come to thy native place, it may seem
good to thee to settle there, and thou wilt be perplexed between
returning to thy wife and sojourning in thine own home ; so it
were the righter rede that thou carry thy wife with thee ; and
after, an thou desire to return to us, return and welcome to you
both ; for we are folk who know not divorce and no woman of u
marrieth twice, nor do we lightly discard a man." ! Quoth
Obayd, " uncle, I fear me thy daughter will not consent to journey
with me to my own country." Replied Abd al-Rahman, " O
my son, we have no women amongst us who gainsay their spouses,
nor know we a wife who is wroth with her man." The jeweller
cried, " Allah bless you and your v/omen ! " and going in to his
wife, said to her, " I am minded to go to my country : what sayst
thou ? " Quoth she, " Indeed, my sire had the ordering of me,
whilst I was a maid, and when I married, the ordering all passed
into the hands of my lord and master, nor will I gainsay him."
Quoth Obayd, " Allah bless thee and thy father, and have mercy
on the womb that bare thee and the loins that begat thee ! " Then
he cut his thongs 2 and applied himself to making ready for his
journey. His father-in-law gave him much good and they took
leave each of other, after which the jeweller and his wife journeyed
on without ceasing, till they reached Bassorah where his kinsmen
and comrades came out to meet him, doubting not but that he
had been in Al-Hijdz. Some rejoiced at his return, whilst others
were vexed, and the folk said one to another, " Now will he
straiten us again every Friday, as before, and we shall be shut up
in the mosques and houses, even to our cats and our dogs." On
such wise it fared with him ; but as regards the King of
Bassorah, when he heard of his return, he was wroth with him ;
and sending for him, upbraided him and said to him, "Why
didst thou depart, without letting me know of thy departure ?
Was I unable to give thee somewhat wherewith thou mightest
have succoured thyself in thy pilgrimage to the Holy House of
Allah ? " Replied the jeweller, Pardon, O my lord ! By Allah,
I went not on the pilgrimage ! but there have befallen me such
and such things." Then he told him all that had befallen him

1 See the note by Lane's Shaykh at the beginning of the tale. The contrast between
the vicious wife of servile origin and the virtuous wife of noble birth is fondly dwelt
upon but not exaggerated.

* i.e. those of his water skins for the journey, which as usual required patching and
supplying with fresh handles after long lying- dry.

Kamar Al-Zaman and Uie Jeweller's Wife. 303

with his wife and with Abd al-Rahman of Cairo and how the
merchant had given him his daughter to wife, ending with these
words, " And I have brought her to Bassorah." Said the King,
"By the Lord, did I not fear Allah the Most High, I would slay
thee and marry this noble lady after thy death, though I spent
on her mints of money, because she befitteth none but Kings.
But Allah hath appointed her of thy portion and may He bless
thee in her ! So look thou use her well." Then he bestowed
largesse on the jeweller, who went out from before him and
abode with his wife five years, after which he was admitted to
the mercy of the Almighty. Presently the King sought his
widow in wedlock ; but she refused, saying, " O King, never
among my kindred was a woman who married again after her
husband's death ; wherefore I will never take another husband,
nor will I marry thee, no, though thou kill me." Then he sent
to her one who said, " Dost thou seek to go to thy native land ? "
And she answered, "An thou do good, thou shalt be requited
therewith." So he collected for her all the jeweller's wealth and
added unto her of his own, after the measure of his degree.
Lastly he sent with her one of his Wazirs, a man famous for
goodness and piety, and an escort of five hundred horse, who
journeyed with her, till they brought her to her father ; and in
his home she abode, without marrying again, till she died and
they died all. So, if this woman would not consent to replace
her dead husband with a Sultan, how shall she be compared
with one who replaced her husband, whilst he was yet alive, with
a youth of unknown extraction and condition, and especially
when this was in lewd carriage and not by way of lawful
marriage ? So he who deemeth all women alike, 1 there is no remedy

1 A popular saying also applied to men. It is usually accompanied with showing the
open hand and a reference to the size of the fingers. I find this story most interesting
from an anthropological point of view ; suggesting how differently various races regard
the subject of adultery. In Northern Europe the burden is thrown most unjustly upon
the man, the woman who tempts him being a secondary consideration ; and in England
he is absurdly termed "aseducer." In former times he was " paraded "or "called out,"
now he is called up for damages, a truly ignoble and shopkeeper-like mode of treating
a high offence against private property and public morality. In Anglo-America, where
English feeling is exaggerated, the lover is revolver'd and the woman is left unpunished.
On the other hand, amongst Eastern and especially Moslem peoples, the woman is cut
down and scant reckoning is taken from the man. This more sensible procedure has.
struck firm root amongst the nations of Southern Europe where the husband kills the
lover only when he still loves his wife and lover-like is furious at her affection being

304 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

for the disease of his insanity. And glory be to Him to whom
belongeth the empire of the Seen and the Unseen and
He is the Living, who dieth not ! And among the tales they
tell, O auspicious King, is one of


THE Caliph Harun al-Rashid was one day examining the tributes
of his various provinces and viceroyalties, when he observed that
the contributions of all the countries and regions had come into
the treasury, except that of Bassorah which had not arrived that
year. So he held a Divan because of this and said, " Hither to me
with the Wazir Ja'afar ; " and when they brought him into the
presence he thus bespoke him, " The tributes of all the provinces
have come into the treasury, save that of Bassorah, no part whereof
hath arrived." Ja'afar replied, " O Commander of the Faithful,
belike there hath befallen the governor of Bassorah something that
hath diverted him from sending the tribute." Quoth the Caliph,
' The time of the coming of the tribute was twenty days ago ;
what then, can be his excuse for that, in this time, he hath neither
sent it nor sent to show cause for not doing so ? " And quoth the
Minister, " O Commander of the Faithful, if it please thee, we will
send him a messenger." Rejoined the Caliph, " Send him Abu
Ishak al-Mausili, 2 the boon companion, and Ja'afar, " Hearkening

Practically throughout the civilised world there are only two ways of treating women.
Moslems keep them close, defend them from all kinds of temptations and if they go
wrong kill them. Christians place them upon a pedestal, the observed of all observers,
expose them to every danger and if they fall, accuse and abuse them instead of them-
selves. And England is so grandly logical that her law, under certain circumstances,
holds that Mrs. A. has committed adultery with Mr. B. but Mr. B. has not committed
adultery with Mrs. A. Can any absurdity be more absurd ? Only "summum jus,
summa irrjuria." See my Terminal Essay. I shall have more to say upon this curious
subject, the treatment of women who can be thoroughly guarded only by two things,
firstly their hearts and secondly by the "Spanish Padlock."

1 Lane owns that this is "one of the most entert?ining tales in the work," but he
omits it " because its chief and best portion is essentially the same as " The story of the
First of the Three Ladies of Baghdad." The truth is he was straightened for space by
his publisher and thus compelled to cut out some of the best stories in The Nights.

2 i.e. Ibrahim of Mosul, the musician poet often mentioned in The Nights. I must
again warn the reader that the name is pronounced Is-hdk (like Isaac with a central
aspirate) not Ishak. This is not unnecessary when we hear Tait-shill for Tail's hill and
" Frederick-shall " for Friedrich, shall.

Abdullah bin Fazil and his Brothers. 305

and obedience to Allah and to thee, O Prince of True Believers ! "
Then he returned to his house and summoning Abu Ishak, wrote
him a royal writ and said to him, " Go to Abdullah bin Fazil,
Viceroy of Bassorah, and see what hath diverted him from sending
the tribute. If it be ready, do thou receive it from him in full and
bring it to me in haste, for the Caliph hath examined the tributes
of the provinces and findeth that they are all come in, except that
of Bassorah : but an thou see that it is not ready and he make an
excuse to thee, bring him back with thee, that he may report his
excuse to the Caliph with his own tongue." Answered Abu Ishak.
" I hear and I obey ;*' and taking with him five thousand horse of
Ja'afar's host set out for Bassorah. Now when Abdullah bin
Fazil heard of his approach, he went out to meet him with his
troops, and led him into the city and carried him to his palace,
whilst the escort encamped without the city walls, where he
appointed to them all whereof they stood in need. So Abu
Ishak entered the audience-chamber and sitting down on the
throne, seated the governor beside himself, whilst the notables sat
round him, according to their several degrees. After salutation
with the salam Abdullah bin Fazil said to him, "O my lord, is
there for thy coming to us any cause ? ;" and said Abu Ishak, " Yes,
I come to seek the tribute ; for the Caliph enquireth of it and the
time of its coming is gone by." Rejoined Abdullah bin Fazil, " O
my lord, would Heaven thou hadst not wearied thyself nor taken
upon thyself the hardships of the journey ! For the tribute is ready
in full tale and complete, and I purpose to despatch it to-morrow.
But, since thou art come, I will entrust it to thee, after I have
entertained thee three days ; and on the fourth day I will set the
tribute between thine hands. But it behoveth us now to offer thee
a present in part requital of thy kindness and the goodness of the
Commander of the Faithful." There is no harm in that," said
Abu Ishak. So Abdullah bin Fazil dismissed the Divan and
carrying him into a saloon that had not its match, bade set a tray
of food before him and his companions. They ate and drank and
made merry and enjoyed themselves; after which the tray was
removed and there came coffee and sherbets. They sat conversing
till a third part of the night was past, when they spread for Abu
Ishak bedding on an ivory couch inlaid with gold glittering sheeny.
So he lay down and the viceroy lay down beside him on another
couch ; but wakefulness possessed Abu Ishak and he fell to
meditating on the metres of prosody and poetical composition, for

306 Alf Laylah wa Laylah.

that he was one of the primest of the Caliph's boon-companions
and he had a mighty fine fore-arm 1 in producing verses and
pleasant stories ; nor did he leave to lie awake improvising poetry
till half the night was past. Presently, behold, Abdullah bin
Fazil arose, and girding his middle, opened a locker, 2 whence he
brought out a whip ; then, taking a lighted waxen taper, he went

forth by the door of the saloon. And Shahrazad perceived the

dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

tt foas tfic Nuu l^untireti antJ

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when
Abdullah bin Fazil went forth by the door of the saloon deeming
Abu Ishak asleep, the Caliph's cup-companion, seeing this,
marvelled and said in himself, " Whither wendeth Abdullah bin
Fazil with that whip ? Perhaps he is minded to punish some body.
But needs must I follow him and see what he will do this night."
So he arose and went out after him softly, very softly, that he
might not be seen and presently saw him open a closet and take
thence a tray containing four dishes of meat and bread and a
gugglet of water. Then he went on, carrying the tray and secretly
followed by Abu Ishak, till he came to another saloon and entered,
whilst the cup-companion stood behind the door and, looking
through the chink, saw a spacious saloon, furnished with the
richest furniture and having in its midst a couch of ivory plated
with gold glittering sheeny, to which two dogs were made fast
with chains of gold. Then Abdullah set down the tray in a
corner and tucking up his sleeves, loosed the first dog, which
began to struggle in his hands and put its muzzle to the floor, as
it would kiss the ground before him, whining the while in a weak
voice. Abdullah tied its paws behind its back and throwing it on
the ground, drew forth the whip and beat it with a painful beating
and a pitiless. The dog struggled, but could not get free, and
Abdullah ceased not to beat it with the same whip till it left
groaning and lay without consciousness. Then he took it and
tied it up in its place, and unbinding the second dog, did with
him as he had done with the first ; after which he pulled out a

1 i.e. He was a proficient, an adept.

2 Arab, from Pers. Duldb = a waterwheel, a buttery, a cupboard.

Abdullah bin Fasil and his Brothers. 307

kerchief and fell to wiping away their tears and comforting them,
saying, " Bear me not malice ; for by Allah, this is not of my will,
nor is it easy to me ! But it may be Allah will grant you relief
from this strait and issue from your affliction." And he prayed
for the twain what while Abu Ishak the cup-companion stood
hearkening with his ears and espying with his eyes, and indeed he
marvelled at his case. Then Abdullah brought the dogs the tray
of food and fell to morselling them with his own hand, till they
had enough, when he wiped their muzzles and lifting up the
gugglet, gave them to drink ; after which he took up the tray,
gugglet and candle and made for the door. But Abu Ishak
forewent him and making his way back to his couch, lay down ;
so that he saw him not, neither knew that he had walked behind
him and watched him. Then the governor replaced the tray and
the gugglet in the closet and returning to the saloon, opened the
locker and laid the whip in its place ; after which he doffed his
clothes and lay down. But Abu Ishak passed the rest of that
night pondering this affair neither did sleep visit him for excess of
wonderment, and he ceased not to say in himself, " I wonder what
can be the meaning of this ! " Nor did he leave wondering till
day break, when they arose and prayed the dawn-prayer. Then
they set the breakfast * before them and they ate and drank coffee,
after which they went out to the divan, Now Abu Ishak's
thought was occupied with this mystery all day long but he
concealed the matter and questioned not Abdullah thereof. Next
night, he again followed the governor and saw him do with the
two dogs as on the previous night, first beating them and then
making his peace with them and giving them to eat and to drink ;
and so also he did the third night. On the fourth day he brought
the tribute to Abu Ishak who took it and departed, without
opening the matter to him. He fared on, without ceasing, till he
came to Baghdad, where he delivered the tribute to the Caliph,
who questioned him of the cause of its delay. Replied he, " O
Commander of the Faithful, I found that the governor of Bassorah
had made ready the tribute and was about to despatch it ; and

Arab. " Futiir," the chhoti haziri of Anglo-India or breakfast proper, eaten by
Moslems immediately after the dawn-prayer except in Ramazan. Amongst sensible
people it is a substantial meal of bread and boiled beans, eggs, cheese, curded milk and
the pastry called fatirah, followed by coffee and a pipe. See Lane M. E. chapt. v. and
my Pilgrimage ii. 48.

308 A If Laylak iva Laylak.

had I delayed a day, it would have met me on the road. But, O

Prince of True Believers, I had a wondrous adventure with

Abdullah bin Fazil ; never in my life saw I its like." "And

what was it, O Abu Ishak ?" asked the Caliph. So he replied,

" I saw such and such ; " and, brief, acquainted him with that

which the governor had done with the two dogs, adding, " After

such fashion, I saw him do three successive nights, first beating

the dogs, then making his peace with them and comforting them

and giving them to eat and drink, I watching him, and he seeing

me not." Asked the Caliph, " Didst thou question him of the

cause of this ? "; and the other answered, " No, as thy head liveth,

O Commander of the Faifhful." Then said Al-Rashid, " O Abu

Ishak, I command thee to return to Bassorah and bring me

Abdullah bin Fazil and the two dogs." Quoth he, "O Com- ;

mander of the Faithful, excuse me from this ; for indeed Abdullah

entertained me with exceedingly hospitable entertainment and I

became ware of this case with chance undesigned and acquainted

thee therewith. So how can I go back to him and bring him to

thee? Verily, if I return to him, I shall find me no face for

shame of him ; wherefore 'twere meet that thou send him another

than myself, with a letter under thine own hand, and he shall

bring him to thee, him and the two dogs." But quoth the Caliph,

" If I send him other than thyself, peradventure he will deny the

whole affair and say, I've no dogs. But if I send thee and thou

say to him, I saw them with mine own eyes, he will not be able

to deny that. Wherefore nothing will serve but that thou go and

fetch him and the two dogs ; otherwise I will surely slay thee." 1 - ;

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

permitted say.

Koto fo&en ft foas tfje jBtnc ^untJtefc anfc lEtgbttetf)

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that
the Caliph Harun al-Rashid said to Abu Ishak, " Nothing will
serve but that thou go and fetch him and the two dogs ; otherwise
I will surely slay thee." Abu Ishak replied, " Hearing and obey-

1 This " off-with-his-head " style must not be understood literally. As I have noted,
it is intended by the writer to show the Kingship and the majesty of the " Vicar of

Abdullah bin Fazil and his Brothers. 309

ing, O Commander of the Faithful : Allah is our aidance and
good is the Agent. He spake sooth who said, " Man's wrong is
from the tongue; 1 and 'tis I who sinned against myself in telling

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 32 of 38)