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 35 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 35 of 38)
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worship which is His due." Then he taught me the tenets of Al-
Islam and the canons of prayer and the way of worship, together
with the recital of the Koran, and I have now worshipped Allah
in this place three-and-twenty years. Each day the tree yieldeth
me a pomegranate which I eat and it sustaineth me from tide to
tide ; and every Friday, Al-Khizr (on whom be peace !) cometh
to me and 'tis he who acquainted me with thy name and gave me
the glad tidings of thy soon coming hither, saying to me, " When
he shall come to thee, entreat him with honour and obey his
bidding and gainsay him not ; but be thou to him wife and he shall
be to thee man, and wend with him whitherso he will." So, when
I saw thee, I knew thee and such is the story of this city and of
its people, and the Peace ! " Then she showed me the pomegranate-
tree, whereon was one granado, which she took and eating one-
half thereof herself, gave me the other to eat, and never did I taste
aught sweeter or more savoury or more satisfying than, that
pomegranate. After this, I said to her, " Art thou content, even
as the Shaykh Al-Khizx charged thee, to be my wife and take me
to mate ; and art thou ready to go with me to my own country
and abide with me in the city of Bassorah ? " She replied, " Yes,
Inshallah : an it please Almighty Allah. I hearken to thy word

1 Arab. "Sa'adah" = worldly prosperity and future happiness.

2 Arab. " Al-'Ahd wa al-Misak" the troth pledged between the Murid or appren-
tice-Darwaysh and the Shaykh or Master-Darwaysh binding the former to implicit
obedience etc.

328 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

and obey thy best without gainsaying." Then I made a binding
covenant with her and she carried me into her father's treasury,
whence we took what we could carry and going forth that city,
walked on till we came to my brothers, whom I found searching
for me. They asked, " Where hast thou been ? Indeed thou hast
tarried long from us, and our hearts were troubled for thee." And
the captain of the ship said to me, " O merchant Abdullah, the
wind hath been fair for us this great while, and thou hast hindered
us from setting sail." And I answered, " There is no harm in
that : ofttimes slow ' is sure and my absence hath wrought us naught
but advantage , for indeed, there hath betided me therein the
attainment of our hopes and God-gifted is he who said :

I weet not, whenas to a land I fare o In quest of good, what I shall there

obtain ;
Or gain I fare with sole desire to seek; o Or loss that seeketh me when seek I


Then said I to them, " See what hath fallen to me in this mine
absence ;" and displayed to them all that was with me of treasures
and told them what I had beheld in the City of Stone, adding,
" Had ye hearkened to me and gone with me, ye had gotten of

these things great gain." And Shahrazad perceived the dawn

of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

Noto fofien it to tlje Nine ^uitofc atrtr 3Ef$tB=fourtf)

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that
Abdullah bin Fazil said to his shipmates and to his two brothers,
" Had ye gone with me, ye had gotten of these things great gain."
But they said, " By Allah, had we gone, we had not dared to go
in to the King of the city!" Then I said to my brothers,
" No harm shall befal you ; for that which I have will suffice us
all and this is our lot. 2 " So I divided my booty into four parts
according to our number and gave one to each of my brothers and
to the Captain, taking the fourth for myself, setting aside some-
what for the servants and sailors, who rejoiced and blessed me :

1 Arab. "Taakhir." lit. postponement and meaning acting with deliberation as'
opposed to " Ajal" (haste), precipitate action condemned in the Koran Ixv. 38.

2 i.e. I have been lucky enough to get this and we will share it amongst us.

Abdullah bin Fazil and his Brothers. 329

and all were content with what I gave them, save my brothers
who changed countenance and rolled their eyes. I perceived
that lust of lucre had gotten hold of them both ; so I said to them,
" O my brothers, methinketh what I have given you doth not
satisfy you ; but we are brothers and there is no difference between
us. My good and yours are one and the same thing, and if I die
none will inherit of me but you." And I went on to soothe them.
Then I bore the Princess on board the galleon and lodged her in
the cabin, where I sent her somewhat to eat and we sat talking, I
and my brothers. Said they, " O our brother, what wilt thou do
with that damsel of surpassing beauty ? " And I replied, " I mean
to contract marriage with her, as soon as I reach Bassorah and
make a splendid wedding and go in to her there." Exclaimed
one of them, " O my brother, verily, this young lady excelleth in
beauty and loveliness and the love of her is fallen on my heart ;
wherefore I desire that thou give her to me and I will espouse
her." And the other cried, " I too desire this : give her to me,
that I may espouse her." " O my brothers," answered I, " indeed
she took of me an oath and a covenant that I would marry her
myself; so, if I give her to one of you, I shall be false to my oath
and to the covenant between me and her, and haply she will be
broken-hearted, for she came not with me but on condition that I
marry her. So how can I wed her to other than myself? As for
your both loving her, I love her more than you twain, for she is
my treasure-trove, and as for my giving her to one of you, that is
a thing which may not be. But, if we reach Bassorah in safety, I
will look you out two girls of the best of the damsels of Bassorah
and demand them for you in marriage and pay the dower of my
own monies and make one wedding and we will all three go into
our brides on the same night. But leave ye this damsel, for she is
of my portion." They held their peace, and I thought they were
content with that which I had said. Then we fared onwards for
Bassorah, and every day I sent her meat and drink ; but she came
not forth of the cabin, whilst I slept between my brothers on deck.
We sailed thus forty days, till we sighted Bassorah city and
rejoiced that we were come near it. Now I trusted in my brothers
and was at my ease with them, for none knoweth the hidden future
save Allah the Most High ; so I lay down to sleep that night ; but,
as I abode drowned in slumber, I suddenly found myself caught
up by these my brothers, one seizing me by the legs and the other
by the arms, for they had taken counsel together to drown me in

330 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

the sea for the sake of the damsel. When I saw myself in their
hands, I said to them, " O my brothers, why do ye this with me ? "
And they replied, " Ill-bred that thou art, wilt thou barter our
affection for a girl ? : we will cast thee into the sea, because of
this." So saying, they threw me overboard. (Here Abdullah
turned to the dogs and said to them, " Is this that I have said true
O my brothers or not ? " ; and they bowed their heads and fell a-
whining, as if confirming his speech ; whereat the Caliph wondered).
Then Abdullah resumed ; O Commander of the Faithful, when
they threw me into the sea, I sank to the bottom ; but the water
bore me up again to the surface, and before I could think, behold
a great bird, the bigness of a man, swooped down upon me and
snatching me up, flew up with me into upper air. I fainted and
when I opened my eyes, I found myself in a strong-pillared place,
a high-builded palace, adorned with magnificent paintings and pen-
dants of gems of all shapes and hues. Therein were damsels
standing with their hands crossed over their breasts and, behold in
their midst was a lady seated on a throne of red gold, set with
pearls and gems, and clad in apparel whereon no mortal might
open his eyes, for the lustre of the jewels wherewith they were
decked. About her waist she wore a girdle of jewels no money
could pay their worth and on her head a three-fold tiara dazing
thought and wit and dazzling heart and sight. Then the bird
which had carried me thither shook and became a young lady
bright as sun raying light. I fixed my eyes on her and behold, it
was she whom I had seen in snake form on the mountain and had
rescued from the dragon which had wound his tail around her.
Then said to her the lady who sat upon the throne, " Why hast
thou brought hither this mortal ? " ; and she replied, " O my
mother, this is he who was the means of veiling my honour 1 among
the maidens of the Jinn." Then quoth she to me, " Knowest thou
who I am ? " ; and quoth I, " No." Said she, I am she who was
on such a mountain, where the black dragon strave with me and
would have forced my honour, but thou slewest him." And I
said, " I saw but a white snake with the dragon." She rejoined,
" 'Tis I who was the white snake ; but I am the daughter of the
Red King, Sovran of the Jann and my name is Sa'idah. 2 She who

1 i.e. of saving me from being ravished.

2 Sa'idah = the auspicious (fern.) : Mubaiakah, = the blessed; both names showing
that the bearers were Moslemahs.

Abdullah bin Fazil and his Brothers. 331

sitteth there is my mother and her name is Mubarakah, wife of the
Red King. The black dragon who attacked me and would have
done away my honour was Wazir to the Black King, Darfi'l by
name, and he was foul of favour. It chanced that he saw me and
fell in love with me ; so he sought me in marriage of my sire, who
sent to him to say, " Who art thou, O scum of Wazirs, that
thou shouldst wed with Kings' daughters ? " Whereupon he
was wroth and sware an oath that he would assuredly do away
my honour, to spite my father. Then he fell to tracking my
steps and following me whithersoever I went, designing to
ravish me ; wherefore there befel between him and my parent
mighty fierce wars and bloody jars, but my sire could not prevail
against him, for that he was fierce as fraudful and as often as
my father pressed hard upon him and seemed like to conquer
he would escape from him, till my sire was at his wits' end.
Every day I was forced to take new form and hue ; for, as often as
I assumed a shape, he would assume its contrary, and to whatso-
ever land I fled he would snuff my fragrance and follow me
thither, so that I suffered sore affliction of him. At last I took'
the form of a snake and betook myself to the mountain where
thou sawest me ; whereupon he changed himself to a dragon and
pursued me, till I fell into his hands, when he strove with me and
I struggled with him, till he wearied me and mounted me, meaning
to have his lustful will of me : but thou earnest and smotest him
with the stone and slewest him. Then" I returned to my own
shape and showed myself to thee, saying : I am indebted to thee
for a service such as is not lost save with the son of adultery. 1 So,
when I saw thy brothers do with thee this treachery and throw
thee into the sea, I hastened to thee and saved thee from destruc-
tion, and now honour is due to thee from my mother and my
father." Then she said to the Queen, " O my mother, do thou
honour him as deserveth he who saved my virtue." So the
Queen said to me, " Welcome, O mortal ! Indeed thou hast done
us a kindly deed which meriteth honour." Presently she ordered
me a treasure-suit, 2 worth a mint of money, and store of gems and
precious stones, and said, " Take him and carry him in to the
King." Accordingly, they carried me into the King in his Divan,

1 i.e. the base-born from whom base deeds may be expected.

2 Arab. " Badlat Kunuziyah "= such a dress as would be found in enchanted hoard*
(Kunuz) : e& Prince Esterhazy's diamond jacket.

332 A If Lay! ah wa Laylah.

where I found him seated on his throne, with his Marids and
guards before him ; and when I saw him my sight was blent for
that which was upon him of jewels ; but when he saw me, he rose
to his feet and all his officers rose also, to do him worship. Then
he saluted me and welcomed me and entreated me with the
utmost honour, and gave me of that which was with him of good
things ; after which he said to some of his followers, " Take him
and carry him back to my daughter, that she may restore him to
the place whence she brought him." So they carried me. back to
the Lady Sa'idah, who took me up and flew away with me and
my treasures. On this wise fared it with me and the Princess ;
but as regards the Captain of the galleon, he was aroused by the
splash of my fall, when my brothers cast me into the sea, and
said, " What is that which hath fallen overboard ? " Whereupon
my brothers fell to weeping and beating of breasts and replied,
"Alas, for our brother's loss! He thought to do his need over
the ship's side 1 and fell into the water ! " Then they laid their
hands on my good, but there befel dispute between them because
of the damsel, each saying, " None shall have her but I." And
they abode jangling and wrangling each with other and re-
membered not their brother nor his drowning and their mourning
for him ceased. As they were thus, behold Sa'idah alighted with

me in the midst of the galleon And Shahrazad perceived the

dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

fofjen ft teas tfje Xine f^untrrefc antr lEt

She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that
Abdullah bin Fazil continued, " As they were thus, behold,
Sa'idah alighted with me in the midst of the galleon and when
my brothers saw me, they embraced me and rejoiced in me,
saying, " O our brother, how hast thou fared in that which befel
thee ? Indeed our hearts have been occupied with thee." Quoth
Sa'idah, " Had ye any heart-yearnings for him or had ye loved
him, ye had not cast him into the sea ; but choose ye now what
death ye will die." Then she seized on them and would have slain

1 The lieu faisance in Eastern crafts is usually a wooden cage or framework fastened
outside the gunwale, very cleanly but in foul weather very uncomfortable and eveo

Abdullah bin Fazil and his Brothers. 333

them ; but they cried out, saying, " In thy safeguard, O our
brother!' 1 Thereupon I interceded and said to her, "I claim of
thine honour not to kill my brothers." Quoth she, " There is no
help but that I slay them, for they are traitors." But I ceased not
to speak her fair and conciliate her till she said, "To content thee,
I will not kill them, but I will enchant them." So saying, she
brought out a cup and filling it with sea-water, pronounced over it
words that might not be understood ; then saying, " Quit this
human shape for the shape of a dog ; " she sprinkled them with
the water, and immediately they were transmewed into dogs, as
thou seest them, O Vicar of Allah." Whereupon he turned to the
dogs and said to them," Have I spoken the truth, O my brothers?"
And they bowed their heads, as they would say, " Thou hast
spoken sooth." At this he continued, " Then she said to those
who were in the galleon : Know ye that Abdullah bin Fazil here
present is become my brother and I shall visit him once or twice
every day : so, whoso of you crosseth him or gainsayeth his
bidding or doth him hurt with hand or tongue, I will do with him
even as I have done with these two traitors and bespell him to a
dog, and he shall end his days in that form, nor shall he find
deliverance." And they all said to her, "O Our lady, we are his
slaves and his servants every one of us and will not disobey him
in aught." Moreover, she said to me, " When thou comest to
Bassorah, examine all thy property and if there lack aught thereof,
tell me and I will bring it to thee, in whose hands and in what
place soever it may be, and will change him who took it into a
dog. When thou hast magazined thy goods, clap a collar 1 of
wood on the neck of each of these two traitors and tie them to the
leg of a couch and shut them up by themselves. Moreover, every
night, at midnight, do thou go down to them and beat each of
them a bout till he swoon away ; and if thou suffer a single night
to pass without beating them, I will come to thee and drub thee a
sound drubbing, after which I will drub them." And I answered,
"To hear is to obey." Then said she, "Tie them up with ropes

1 Arab. " Ghull," a collar of iron or other metal, sometimes made to resemble the
Chinese Kza or Cangue, a kind of ambulant pillory, serving like the old stocks which
still show in England the veteris vestigia ruris. See Davis, "The Chinese," i. 241.
According to Al-Siyuti (p. 362) the Caliph Al-Mutawakkil ordered the Christians to
wear these Ghulls round the neck, yellow head-gear and girdles, to use wooden stirrups
and to place figures of devils before their houses. The writer of The Nights presently
changes Ghull to "chains and " fetters of iron."

334 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

till thou come to Bassorah." So I tied a rope about each dog's
neck and lashed them to the mast, and she went her way. On
the morrow we entered Bassorah and the merchants came out to
meet me and saluted me, and no one of them enquired of my
brothers. But they looked at the dogs and said to me, " Ho,
such and such, 1 what wilt thou do with these two dogs thou hast
brought with thee ? " Quoth I, " I reared them on this voyage
and have brought them home with me." And they laughed at
them, knowing not that they were my brothers. When I reached
my house, I put the twain in a closet and busied myself all that
night with the unpacking and disposition of the bales of stuffs and
jewels. Moreover, the merchants were with me being minded to
offer me the salam ; wherefore I was occupied with them and
forgot to beat the dogs or chain them up. Then without doing
them aught of hurt, I lay down to sleep, but suddenly and un-
expectedly there came to me the Red King's daughter Sa'idah
and said to me, " Did I not bid thee clap chains on their necks and
give each of them a bout of beating ? " So saying, she seized me
and pulling out a whip, flogged me till I fainted away, after which
she went to the place where my brothers were and with the same
scourge beat them both till they came nigh upon death. Then
said she to me, " Beat each of them a like bout every night, and
if thou let a night pass without doing this, I will beat thee ; " and
I replied, " O my lady, to-morrow I will put chains on their necks,
and next night I will beat them nor will I leave them one night
unbeaten." And she charged me strictly to beat them and dis-
appeared. When the morning morrowed it being no light matter
for me to put fetters of iron on their necks, I went to a goldsmith
and bade him make them collars and chains of gold. He did this
and I put the collars on their necks and chained them up, as she
bade me ; and next night I beat them both in mine own despite.
This befel in the Caliphate of Al-Mahdi, 2 third of the sons of
Al-Abbas, and I commended myself to him by sending him

1 Arab. " Ya fulan, 1 ' O certain person! See vol. iii. 191.

2 Father of Harun al-Rashid A.H. 158-169 (= 775-785) third Abbaside who both in
the Mac. and the Bui. Edits, is called " the fifth of the sons of Al-Abbas." He was a
good poet and a man of letters, also a fierce persecutor of the " Zindiks " (Al-Siyuti
278), a term especially applied to those who read the Zend books and adhered to
Zoroastrianism, although afterwards applied to any heretic or atheist. He made many
changes at Meccah and was the first who had a train of camels laden with snow for his
refreshment along a measured road of 700 miles (Gibbon, chapt. Hi.). He died of an

Abdullah bin Fazil and his Brothers* 335

presents, so he invested me with the government and made me
viceroy of Bassorah. On this wise I abode some time and after a
while I said to myself, " Haply her wrath is grown cool ; " and
left them a night unbeaten, whereupon she came to me and beat
me a bout whose burning I shall never forget long as I live. So,
from that time to this, I have never left them a single night
unbeaten during the reign of Al-Mahdi ; and when he deceased
and thou earnest to the succession, thou sentest to me, confirming
me in the government of Bassorah. These twelve years past have
I beaten them every night, in mine own despite, and after I have
beaten them, I excuse myself to them and comfort them and give
them to eat and drink ; and they have remained shut up, nor did
any of the creatures of Allah know of them, till thou sentest to me
Abu Ishak the boon-companion, on account of the tribute, and he
discovered my secret and returning to thee, acquainted thee
therewith. Then thou sentest him back to fetch me and them ;
so I answered with ' Hearkening and obedience,' and brought
them before thee, whereupon thou questionedst me and I told
thee the truth of the case ; and this is my history." The Caliph
marvelled at the case of the two dogs and said to Abdullah,
" Hast thou at this present forgiven thy two brothers the wrong
they did thee, yea or nay ? " He replied, " O my lord, may Allah
forgive them and acquit them of responsibility in this world and
the next ! Indeed, 'tis I who stand in need of their forgiveness,
for that these twelve years past I have beaten them a grievous
bout every night!" Rejoined the Caliph, " O Abdullah, Inshallah,
I will endeavour for their release and that they may become men
again, as they were before, and I will make peace between thee
and them ; so shall you live the rest of your lives as brothers
loving one another ; and like as thou hast forgiven them, so shall
they forgive thee. But now take them and go down with them to
thy lodging and this night beat them not, and to-morrow there
shall be naught save weal." Quoth Abdullah, " O my lord, as
thy head liveth, if J leave them one night unbeaten, Sa'idah will
come to me and beat me, and I have no body to brook beating."

accident when hunting : others say he was poisoned after leaving his throne to his sons
Musa al-Hadi and Harun al-Rashid. The name means " Heaven-directed " and must
not be confounded with the title of the twelfth Shi'ah Imam Mohammed Abu al-Kasim
born at Sarramanrai A.H. 255 whom Sale (sect, iv.) calls " Mahdi or Director" and
whose expected return has caused and will cause so much trouble in Al- Islam.

A If Laylah wa Laylah.

Quoth the Caliph, " Fear not, for I will give thee a writing under
my hand. 1 An she come to thee, do thou give her the paper and
if, when she has read it, she spare thee, the favour will be hers ;
but, if she obey not my bidding, commit thy business to Allah and
let her beat thee a bout and suppose that thou hast forgotten to
beat them for one night and that she beateth thee because of that :
and if it fall out thus and she thwart me, as sure as I am Com-
mander of the Faithful, I will be even with her." Then he wrote
her a letter on a piece of paper, two ringers broad, and sealing it
with his signet-ring, gave it to Abdullah, saying, "O Abdullah, if
Sa'idah come, say to her: The Caliph, King of mankind, hath
commanded me to leave beating them and hath written me this
letter for thee ; and he saluteth thee with the salam. Then give
her the warrant a'nd fear no harm." After which he exacted of
him an oath and a solemn pledge that he would not beat them.
So Abdullah took the dogs and carried them to his lodging,
saying to himself, " I wonder what the Caliph will do with the
daughter of the Sovran of the Jinn, if she cross him and trounce
me to-night ! But I will bear with a bout of beating for once and
leave my brothers at rest this night, though for their sake I suffer
torture." Then he bethought himself awhile, and his reason said
to him, " Did not the Caliph rely on some great support, he had
never forbidden me from beating them." So he entered his
lodging and doffed the collars from the dogs' necks, saying, " I
put my trust in Allah," and fell to comforting them and saying,
"No harm shall befal you; for the Caliph, fifth 2 of the sons of
Al-Abbas, hath pledged himself for your deliverance and I have
forgiven you. An it please Allah the Most High, the time is
come and ye shall be delivered this blessed night j so rejoice ye in
the prospect of peace and gladness." When they heard these

words, they fell to whining with the whining of dogs, And

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

v This speciosum miraculura must not be held a proof that the tale was written many
years after the days of Al-Rashid. Miracles grow apace in the East and a few years
suffice to mature them. The invasion of Abraha the Abyssinia took place during the
year of Mohammed's birth ; and yet in an early chapter of the Koran (No. cv.) written
perhaps forty-five years afterwards, the small-pox is turned into a puerile and extrava-
gant miracle. I myself became the subject of a miracle in Sind which is duly chronicled

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 35 of 38)