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 5) online

. (page 9 of 41)
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 5) → online text (page 9 of 41)
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Love's seat and stay :
And rattled the breezes her huge hind cheeks * And the branch where two

little pomegranates lay :
Quoth I, "Give me tryst;" whereto quoth she o "To-morrow the fane shall

wear best array :"
Next day I asked her, "Thy word?" Said she o "The promise of Night is

effaced by Day."

The Caliph bade give a myriad of money each to Al-Rakashi and
Abu Mus'ab, but bade strike off the head of Abu Nowas, saying,
" Thou wast with us yesternight in the palace." Said he, " By
Allah, I slept not but in my own house i I was directed to what I
said by thine own words as to the subject of the verse ; and indeed
quoth Almighty Allah (and He is the truest of all speakers) : As
for poets (devils pursue them !) dost thou not see that they rove as
bereft of their senses through every valley and that they say that
which they do not ? " * So the Caliph forgave him and gave him
two myriads of money. And another tale is that of

1 Koran xxvi. 5, 6 or " And those who err (Arab. Al-gh4wun) follow the footsteps of
the poets," etc.

Musab bin al-Zubayr ana /iyishak. f /g


IT is told of Mus'ab bin al-Zubayr 1 that he met in Al-Medinah
Izzah, who was one of the shrewdest of women, and said to her,
"I have a mind to marry Ayishah 2 daughter of Talhah, and I
should like thee to go herwards and spy out for me how she is
made." So she went away and returning to Mus'ab, said, " I have
seen her, and her face is fairer than health ; she hath large and
well-opened eyes and under them a nose straight and smooth as a
cane ; oval cheeks and a mouth like a cleft pomegranate, a neck as
a silver ewer and below it a bosom with two breasts like twin-
pomegranates and further down a slim waist and a slender
stomach with a navel therein as it were a casket of ivory, and back
parts like a hummock of sand ; and plumply rounded thighs and
calves like columns of alabaster ; but I saw her feet to be large,
and thou wilt fall short with her in time of need." Upon this
report he married her - And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of
day and ceased saying her permitted say.

fofan ft foas tljc ^fjrce fun&rc& anto Icigfjtt^SEbcntf)

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when
Izzah this wise reported of Ayishah bint Talhah, Mus'ab married
her and went in to her. And presently Izzah invited Ayishah
and the women of the tribe Kuraysh to her house, when Ayishah
sang these two couplets with Mus'ab standing by :

And the lips of girls, that are perfume sweet ; o So nice to kiss when with

smiles they greet :
Yet ne'er tasted I them, but in thought of him ; o And by thought the Ruler

rules worldly seat.

The night of Mus'ab's going in unto her, he departed not from
her, till after seven bouts ; and on the morrow, a freedwoman
of his met him and said to him, " May I be thy sacrifice ! Thou

1 Half-brother of Abdullah bin al-Zubayr, the celebrated pretender.

* Grand-daughter of the Caliph Abu Bakr and the most beautiful woman ol her day,

So Alf Laylah wa Lay I ah.

art perfect, even in this." And a certain woman said, " I was
with Ayishah, when her husband came in to her, and she lusted
for him ; so he fell upon her and she snarked and snorted and
made use of all manner of wondrous movements and marvellous
new inventions, and I the while within hearing. So, when he
came out from her, I said to her, " How canst thou do thus
with thy rank and nobility and condition, and I in thy house ? "
Quoth she, " Verily a woman should bring her husband all of
which she is mistress, by way of excitement and rare buckings
and wrigglings and motitations. 1 What dislikest thou of this ? "
And I answered " I would have this by nights." Rejoined she,
" Thus is it by day and by night I do more than this ; for when
he seeth me, desire stirreth him up and he falleth in heat ; so
he putteth it out to me and I obey him, and it is as thou seest."
And there also hath reached me an account of


ABU AL-ASWAD bought a native-born slave-girl, who was blind
of an eye, and she pleased him ; but his people decried her
to him ; whereat he wondered and, turning the palms of his
hands upwards, 2 recited these two couplets :

They find me fault with her where I default ne'er find, o Save haply that

a speck in either eye may show :
But if her eyes have fault, of fault her form hath none, o Slim-built above

the waist and heavily made below.

And this is also told of

1 The Calc. Edit, by mistake reads " Izzah." Torrens (notes i.-xL) remarks " The
word Choonj is applied to this sort of blandishment (i.e. an affected gait), and says
Burckhardt (Prov. No. 685), "The women of Cairo flatter themselves that their Ghoanj
is superior to that of all other females in the Levant. " But Torrens did not understand
and Burckhardt would not explain "Ghunj" except by "assumed airs" (see No. 714).
It here means the art of moving in coition, which is especially affected, even by modest
women, throughout the East and they have many books teaching the genial art. In
China there are professors, mostly old women, who instruct young girls in this branch
of the gymnastic.

2 When reciting the Fatihah (opening Koranic chapter), the hands are held in this
position as if to receive a blessing falling from Heaven ; after which both palms are
passed down the face to distribute it over the eyes and other organs of sense.

Harun al-Rashid and the Slave-Girls. Bl


THE Caliph Harun al-Rashid lay one night between two slave-
girls, one from Al-Medinah and the other from Cufa and the
Cufite rubbed his hands, whilst the Medinite rubbed his feet
and made his concern 1 stand up. Quoth the Cufite, " I see
thou wouldst keep the whole of the stock-in-trade to thyself;
give me my share of it." And the other answered, "I have been
told by Mdlik, on the authority of Hisham ibn Orwah, 2 who had
it of his (grand) father, that the Prophet said, " Whoso quickeneth
the dead, the dead belongeth to him and is his." But the Cufite
took her unawares and, pushing her away, seized it all in her
own hand and said, " Al-A'afnash telleth us, on the authority of
Khaysamah, who had it of Abdallah bin Mas'ud, that the Prophet
declared, Game belongeth to him who taketh it, not to him who
raiseth it." And this is also related of



THE Caliph Harun al-Rashid once slept with three slave-girls,
a Meccan, a Medinite and an Irakite. The Medinah girl put
her hand to his yard and handled it, whereupon it rose and the
Meccan sprang up and drew it to herself. Quoth the other,
"What is this unjust aggression ? A tradition was related to me
by Malik 3 after Al-Zuhri, after Abdallah ibn Salim, after Sa'fd bin
Zayd, that the Apostle of Allah (whom Allah bless and keep !)
said : Whoso enquickeneth a dead land, it is his." And the
Meccan answered, " It is related to us by Sufyan, from Abu

1 The word used is " biza'at " = capital or a share in a mercantile business.

1 This and the following names are those of noted traditionists of the eighth
century, who derive back to Abdallah bin Mas'iid, a " Companion of the Apostle."
The text shows the recognised formula of ascription for quoting a " Hadis " = saying
of Mohammed ; and sometimes it has to pass through half a dozen mouths.

3 Traditionists of the seventh and eighth centuries who refer back to the "Father of
the Kitten " (Abu Horayrah), an uncle of the Apostle.

VOL. V. p

82 Alf Laylah wa Laylah.

Zandd, from Al-A'araj, from Abu Horayrah, that the Apostle
of Allah said : " The quarry is his who catcheth it, not his who
starteth it." But the Irak girl pushed them both away and
taking it to herself, said, " This is mine, till your contention be
decided." And they tell a tale of


THERE was a miller, who had an ass to turn his mill ; and he
was married to a wicked wife, whom he loved, while she hated
him because she was sweet upon a neighbour, who misliked
her and held aloof from her. One night, the miller saw, in his
sleep, one who said to him, " Dig in such a spot of the ass's
round in the mill, and thou shalt find a hoard." When he
awoke, he told his wife the vision and bade her keep the secret ;
but she told her neighbour And Shahrazad perceived the
dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

fo&en ft toas tfjc ^fjrce f^tm&ttto anti lEfgfjtp'Cfgfjtf) JJtgfit,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the miller's
wife told the secret to the neighbour whom she loved, thinking
to win his favour ; and he agreed with her to come to her by
night. So he came and they dug in the mill and found the
treasure and took it forth. Then he asked her, " How shall we
do with this ? " and she answered ; " We will divide it into
two halves and will share it equally between us, and do thou
leave thy wife and I will cast about to rid me of my husband.
Then shalt thou marry me and, when we are conjoined, we will
join the two halves of the treasure one to other, and all will be in
our hands." Quoth he, " I fear lest Satan seduce thee and thou
take some man other than myself; for gold in the house is like
the sun in the world. I reck, therefore, it were right that the
money be all in my hands, so thou give thy whole mind to getting
free of thy husband and coming to me." Quoth she, " I fear even
,as thou fearest, nor will I yield up my part to thee ; for it was I
directed thee to it " When he heard this, greed of gain prompted

The Simpleton and the Sharper. 8$

him to kill her ; so he slew her and threw her body into the
empty hoard-hole ; but day overtook him and hindered him from,
covering it up ; he therefore took the money and went his way.
Now after a while the miller awoke and, missing his wife, wen.t
into the mill, where he fastened the ass to the beam and shouted
to it. It went on a little, then stopped ; whereupon he beat it
grievously ; but the more he bashed it, the more it drew back j
for it was affrighted at the dead woman and could not go forward.
Thereupon the Miller, unknowing what hindered the donkey, took
out a knife and goaded it again and again, but still it would not
budge. Then he was wroth with it, knowing not the cause of its
obstinacy, and drove the knife into its flanks, and it fell down
dead. But when the sun rose, he saw his donkey lying dead and
likewise his wife in the place of the treasure, and great was his
rage and sore his wrath for the loss of his hoard and the death of
his wife and his ass. All this came of his letting his wife into his
secret and not keeping it to himself. 1 And I have heard this tale of


A CERTAIN simpleton was once walking along, haling his ass after
him by the halter, when a pair of sharpers saw him and one said
to his fellow, " I will take that ass from yonder wight." Asked
the other, " How wilt thou do that ? " " Follow me and I wilB
show thee how," answered the first. So the cony-catcher went up
to the ass and, loosing it from the halter, gave the beast to his
fellow ; then he haltered his own head and followed Tom Fool till
he knew the other had got clean off with the ass, when he stood
still. The oaf haled at the halter, but the rascal stirred not ; so
he turned and seeing the halter on a man's neck, said to him,
"What art thou ? ' Quoth the sharper, " I am thine ass and my
story is a wondrous one and 'tis this. Know that I have a pious
old mother and came in to her one day, drunk ; and she said to

1 Eastern story-books abound in these instances. Pilpay says in "Kalilah wa
Dimnah," " I am the slave of what I have spoken and the lord of what I keep hidden.'*
Sa'adi follows suit, " When thou speakest not a word, thou hast thy hand upon it ; when
it is once spoken it hath laid its hand on thee." Caxton, in the " Dyctes, or Sayings of
Philosopher? " (printed in 1477) uses almost the same words.

Atf Laylak wa Laylah.

me : O my son, repent to the Almighty of these thy transgres-
sions. But I took my staff and beat her, whereupon she cursed
me and Allah changed me into an ass and caused me fall into thy
hands, where I have remained till this moment. However, to-day,
my mother called me to mind and her heart yearned towards me ;
so she prayed for me and the Lord restored me to my former
shape amongst the sons of Adam." Cried the silly one, " There i3
no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the
Great ! Allah upon thee, O my brother, acquit me of what I have
done with thee in the way of riding and so forth." Then he let
the cony-catcher go and returned home, drunken with chagrin and
concern as with wine. His wife asked him, " What aileth thee
and where is the donkey ? " ; and he answered, " Thou knowest
not what was this ass ; but I will tell thee." So he told her the
story, and she exclaimed, " Alack and alas for the punishment we
shall receive from Almighty Allah ! How could we have used a
man as a beast of burden, all this while? " And she gave alms
by way of atonement and prayed pardon of Heaven. 1 Then the
man abode awhile at home, idle and feckless, till she said to him,
" How long wilt thou sit at home doing naught ? Go to the
market and buy us an ass and ply thy work with it." Accordingly,
he went to the market and stopped by the ass-stand, where
behold, he saw his own ass for sale. So he went up to it and
clapping his mouth to its ear, said to it, " Woe to thee, thou ne'er-
do-well I Doubtless thou hast been getting drunk again and
beating thy mother ! But, by Allah, I will never buy thee more ! "*
And he left it and went away. And they tell a tale concerning

1 i.e. for her husband's and her sin in using a man like a beast.

2 See the Second Lady's story (tantot Kadi, tantot bandit), pp. 20-26 by my friend
Yacoub Artin Pasha in the Bulletin before quoted, series ii. No. 4 of 1883. The
sharpers' trick is common in Eastern folk-lore, and the idea that underlies is always
metempsychosis or metamorphosis. So, in the Kalilah was Dimnah (new Syiiac), the
three rogues persuade the ascetic that he is leading a dog not a sheep.

Kazi Abu Yusuf with Ha run al-Rashid. 5


THE Caliph Harun al-Rashid went up one noon-tide to his couch,
to lie down ; and mounting, found upon the bed-clothes semen
freshly emitted ; whereat he was startled and troubled with sore
trouble. So he called the Lady Zubaydah and said to her,
" What is that spilt on the bed ? ' She looked at it and replied,
"O'Commander of the Faithful, it is- semen." Quoth he, "Tell
me truly what this meaneth or I will lay violent hands on thee
forthright." Quoth she, "By Allah, O Commander of the Faithful,
indeed I know not how it came there and I am guiltless of that
whereof thou suspectest me.'* So he sent for the Kazi Abu Yiisuf
and acquainted him of the case. The Judge raised his eyes to
the ceiling and, seeing a crack therein, said to the Caliph, " O
Commander of the Faithful, in very sooth the bat hath seed like
that of a man, 1 and this is bat's semen/' Then he called for a
spear and thrust it into the crevice, whereupon down fell the bat.
In this manner the Caliph's suspicions were dispelled - And Shah-
razad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

fofren tt foas t&e TOm f$untire& ant)

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the
Kazi Abu Yusuf took the spear and thrust it into the crevice,
down fell the bat, and thus the Caliph's suspicions were dispelled
and the innocence of Zubaydah was made manifest ; whereat she
gave loud and liberal vent to her joy and promised Abu Yusuf
a magnificent reward. Now there were with her certain delicious
fruits, out of their season, and she knew of others in the garden ;

1 This is the popular prejudice and it has doubtless saved many a reputation. The
bat is known to Moslems as the Bird of Jesus, a legend derived by the Koran from the
Gospel of Infancy (i chapt. xv. Hone's Apocryphal New Testament), in which the boy
Jesus amuses himself with making birds of clay and commanding them to fly when
(according to the Moslems) they became bats. . These Apocryphal Gospels must be
carefully read, if the student would understand a number of Moslem allusions to the
Injil which no Evangel coatains.

86 Alf Lay I ah wa Laylak.

so she asked Abu Yusuf, " O Imam of the Faith, which wouldest
thou rather have of the two kinds of fruits, those that are here or
those that are not here ? " And he answered, " Our code forbiddeth
us to pronounce judgment on the absent ; wheneas they are pre-
sent, we will give our decision." So she let bring the two kinds
of fruits before him ; and he ate of both. Quoth she, " What is
the" difference between them?" and quoth he, "As often as I
think to praise one kind, the adversary putteth in its claim." . The
Caliph laughed at his answer 1 and made him a rich present ; and
Zubaydah also gave him what she had promised him, and he went
away, rejoicing. See, then the virtues of this Imam and how at
his hands were manifest the truth and the innocence of the Lady
Zubaydah. And amongst other stories is that of


THE Caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amri'llah was riding out in state pro-
cession one day, when he passed along a garden, wherein he saw
a man, surrounded by negro-slaves and eunuchs. He asked him
for a draught of water, and the man gave him to drink, saying,
" Belike, the Commander of the Faithful will honour me by alight-
ing in this my garden." So the Caliph dismounted and with his
suite entered the garden ; whereupon the said man brought out
to them an hundred rugs and an hundred leather mats and. an
hundred cushions ; and set before them an hundred dishes of
fruits, an hundred bowls of sweetmeats and an hundred jars of
sugared sherbets; at which the Caliph marvelled with much amaze
and said to his host, " O man, verily this thy case is wondrous :
didst thou know of our coming and make this preparation for
us ? " He replied, " No, by Allah, O Commander of the Faithful,
I knew not of thy coming and I am a merchant of the rest of thy
subjects ; but I have an hundred concubines ; so, when the Com-
mander of the Faithful honoured me by alighting with me, I sent

* Because it quibbled away out of every question, a truly diplomatic art.

8 This Caliph, the orthodox Abbaside of Egypt (A.D. 1261) must not be confounded
with the Druze-god, the heretical Fatimite (A.D. 996-1021). D'Herbelot (" Hakem ")
gives details. Mr. S. L. Poole (The Academy, April 26, '79) is very severe on the
slip of Mr. Piyne.

King Kisra Anushirwan and the Village Damsel. 87

to each of them, bidding her send me her morning-meal in the
garden. So they sent me each of her furniture and the surplus of
her meat and drink : and every day each sendeth me a dish of
meat and another of cooling marinades, also a platter of fruits
and a bowl of sweetmeats and a jar of sherbet. This is my noon-
day dinner, nor have I added aught thereto for thee." Then the
Commander of the Faithful, Al-Hakim bi-Amri'llah prostrated
himself in thanksgiving to the Almighty (extolled and exalted be
His name !) and said, " Praised be Allah, who hath been so bounti-
ful to one of our lieges, that he entertaineth the Caliph and his
host, without making ready for them ; nay, he feedeth them with
the surplusage of his day's provision ! " Then he sent for all the
dirhams in the treasury, that had been struck that year (and they
were in number three thousand and seven hundred thousand) ;
nor did he mount till the money came, when he gave it to the
merchant, saying, " Use this as thy state may require ; and thy
generosity deserveth more than this." Then he took horse and
rode away. And I have heard a story concerning



THE just King, Kisra Anushirwan one day rode forth to the
chase and, in pursuit of a deer, became separated from his suite.
Presently, he caught sight of a hamlet near hand and being sore
athirst, he made for it and presenting himself at the door of a
house that lay by the wayside, asked for a draught of water. Sc
a damsel came out and looked at him ; then, going back into the
house, pressed the juice from a single sugar-cane into a bowl and
mixed it with water ; after which she strewed on the top some
scented stuff, as it were dust, and carried it to the King. There-
upon he seeing in it what resembled dust, drank it, little by little,
till he came to the end ; when said he to her, " O damsel, the
drink is good, and how sweet it had been but for this dust in it

1 The beautiful name is Persian " Anushin-rawan" = Sweet of Soul ; and the
glorious title of this contemporary of Mohammed is " Al-Malik al-Adil" = the Just
King Kisra, the Chosroe per excellentiam, is also applied to the godly Guebre of
whom every Eastern dictionary gives details.

88 A If Laylah wa Laylak.

that troubleth it," Answered she, " O guest, I put in that powder
for a purpose;" and he asked, "And why didst thou thus ?" ; so
she replied, " I saw thee exceeding thirsty and feared that thou
wouldst drain the whole at one draught and that this would do
thee mischief; and but for this dust that troubled the drink so
hadst thou done." The Just King wondered at her words, know-
ing that they came of her wit and good sense, and said to her,
" From how many sugar canes didst thou express this draught ? "
" One," answered she ; whereat Anushirwan marvelled and, calling'
for the register of the village taxes, saw that its assessment was
but little and bethought him to increase it, on his return to his
palace, saying in himself, " A village where they get this much
juice out of one sugar-cane, why is it so lightly taxed ? " He then
left the village and pursued his chase ; and, as he came back at
the end of the day, he passed alone by the same door and called
again for drink ; whereupon the same damsel came out and,
knowing him at a look, went in to fetch him water. It was some
time before she returned and Anushirwan wondered thereat and
said to her, " Why hast thou tarried ? " And Shahrazad per-
ceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

Nofo foben tt foas tfje &we f^uirtJwfc antj STmetfetf)

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when
Anushirwan hurried the damsel and asked her, " Why hast thou
tarried ? " she answered, " Because a single sugar-cane gave not
enough for thy need ; so I pressed three ; but they yielded not so
much as did one before." Rejoined he, "What is the cause of
that ? " ; and she replied, " The cause of it is that when the
Sultan's 1 mind is changed against a folk, their prosperity ceaseth
and their good waxeth less." So Anushirwan laughed and dis-
missed from his mind that which he had purposed against the
villagers. Moreover, he took the damsel to wife then and there>
being pleased with her much wit and acuteness and the excellence
of her speech. And they tell another tale of the

1 " Sultan " is here an anachronism: I have noted that the title was first assumed
independently by Mohammed of Ghazni after it had been conferred by the Caliph upon
his father the Amir Al-Umard (Mayor of the Palace), Sabuktagin A.D. 974.

The Water Carrier caid the GoldsmitKs Wife. 89


THERE was once, in the city of Bokhara, a water-carrier, who
used to carry water to the house of a goldsmith and had done this
thirty years. Now that goldsmith had a wife of exceeding beauty
and loveliness, brilliancy and perfect grace ; and she was withal
renowned for piety, chastity and modesty. One day the water-
carrier came, as of custom, and poured the water into the cisterns,.
Now the woman was standing in the midst of the court; so he
went close up to her and taking her hand, stroked it and pressed
it, then went away and left her. When her husband came home
from the bazar, she said to him, " I would have thee tell me what
thing thou hast done in the market this day, to anger Almighty
Allah." Quoth he, " I have done nothing to offend the Lord."
*' Nay," rejoined she, " but, by Allah, thou hast indeed done some-
thing to anger Him ; and, unless thou tell me the whole truth, I
will not abide in thy house, and thou shalt not see me, nor will
I see thee." So he confessed, " I will tell thee the truth of what
I did this day. It so chanced that, as I was sitting in my shop,
as of wont, a woman came up to me and bade me make ber a
bracelet of gold. Then she went away and I wrought her a

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 5) → online text (page 9 of 41)