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 16) online

. (page 22 of 40)
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 16) → online text (page 22 of 40)
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husband asked her, " What be these four histories ? " and answered
she, " I saw four men each and every of whom was an antic fellow,
a droll, a buffoon ; furthermore, O my lord, one and all of them

were garbed in gaberdine and bonnet." And Shahrazad was

surprised by the dawn of day and fell silent and ceased saying her
permitted say. Then quoth her sister Dunyazad, " How sweet
and tasteful is thy tale, O sister mine, and how enjoyable and
delectable!" Quoth she, " And where is this compared with that
I would relate to you on the coming night an the Sovran suffer
me to survive ? " Now when it was the next night and that was

2T!)E eben f^untoetr anfc jportp^fitst jgU'gfjt,

DUNYAZAD said to her, "Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou be
other than sleepy, finish for us thy tale that we may cut short the

watching of this our latter night ! " She replied : With love

and good will ! It hath reached me, O auspicious King, the
director, the right-guiding, lord of the rede which is benefiting
and of deeds fair-seeming and worthy celebrating, that the woman
said to her husband, " Moreover each of the four was habited in
gaberdine and bonnet." But when the amourists heard these
words every one of them said to himself, " Here be a judgment

this strumpet of a woman hath wrought upon us, the whore ! the
VOL. V.



258 Supplemental Nights.

witch !" and her husband understanding what she told him asked,
" Wherefore didst thou not bring them hither that the sight might
solace us?" "O my lord," answered she, "had I brought them
what hadst thou said to them ? indeed I fear me thou wouldst
have slain them ! " And he, " No indeed ; I would not have
killed them, for they are but buffoon-folk, and we should have
enjoyed their harlequinades and would have made them dance to
us a wee and all and some tell us tales to gladden our minds ;
after which we would have suffered them depart and go about
their own business." The wife enquired, " And given that they
knew neither dancing nor story-telling what hadst thou done with
them ? " and replied he, " Had the case been as thou sayest and
they ignorant of all this, verily we would have killed them and
cast them into the chapel of ease." The four men hearing such
threatening words muttered to themselves, " There is no Majesty
and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great;"
but the Kazi said in his mind, " How remain Judge of this city
when I shall have been found garbed in gaberdine and bonnet and
dancing and tale-telling ? and indeed this is the greater death.
Allah bring to ruin this adulteress of a woman ! " Then the
Flesher took thought as follows, " How shall I continue to be
Chief of the Butchers when I prance about with a bonnet on my
pate ? this is indeed a painful penalty ! " Then quoth the Gentle-
man, the Consul, " How shall it be with me when I am seen
dancing and donning a bonnet ? indeed death by the sword were
lighter than this ! ' Then muttered the Trader which was the
woman's neighbour, " 'Tis easier to kill myself with my own hand
than to endure all such ill." Anon the woman said to her husband,
" Inshallah God willing on the morrow we will bring them
hither to thy house that we may solace ourselves therewith ; " but
said he, "Wallahi, hadst thou brought them this night 'twere
better, for that to-morrow evening I have business in the house of
the Chief Emir." Quoth she to him, " Now grant me immunity



The Goodwife of Cairo and her Four Gallants. 259

and give me permission and I will arise and bring them to thee at
this moment, but each must come to thee alone and by himself."
Quoth he, " O Woman, leave I do give thee and immunity I do
grant thee ; " whereupon she rose without stay or delay and went
to the closet wherein was the Judge. Then she opened it and
entered, and taking him by the hand dragged him forward and
came out with him and set him before her spouse garbed as he was
in gaberdine and bonnet. The house-master scrutinised him and
was certified of his being the Kazi and said to him, " Blessed be
to thee, O our lord, this bonnet and this gaberdine which become
thee passing well." But the Judge, as he stood before the presence
of the woman's husband, bowed his front downwards and was
clothed as with a garment in the sweat of shame and was sore
abashed, when the Emir said to him, " O our lord the Kazi, do thou
dance for us a wee the baboon dance and rejoice us ; after which
performance do thou tell us a tale that our breasts may thereby be
broadened." But when the man said this to him, the Judge feared
for his life because he had heard and well remembered the words
of the householder and he fell to clapping his palms and prancing
to right and left. Hereupon the Emir laughed consumedly, he and
his wife, and they signed and signalled each to other deriding the
judicial dance, and the Kazi ceased not skipping, until he fell to
the floor for his fatigue. Hereupon the man said to him, " Basta !
Now tell us thy tale that we may rejoice thereat ; then do thou
rise up and go about thy business." " Hearkening and obedience,"
said the Judge and forthright he began to relate the adventure of



THE TAILOR AND THE LADY AND THE

CAPTAIN.



263



THE TAILOR AND THE LADY AND THE CAPTAIN. 1 '

IT is related that a Tailor was sitting in his shop facing a tall
house tenanted by a Yuzbashi, and this man had a wife who was
unique for beauty and loveliness. Now one day of the days as
she looked out at the latticed window the Snip espied her and
was distraught by her comeliness and seemlihead. So he became
engrossed by love of her and remained all day a-gazing at the
casement disturbed and perturbed, and as often as she approached
the window and peered out therefrom, he would stare at her and
say to her, " O my lady and O core of my heart, good morning to
thee ; and do thou have mercy upon one sore affected by his
affection to thee ; one whose eyes sleep not by night for thy fair
sake." "This pimp be Jinn-mad!" quoth the Captain's wife,
"and as often as I look out at the window he dareth bespeak me :
haply the folk shall say : Indeed she must needs be his mistress."
But the Tailor persevered in this proceeding for a while of days
until the lady was offended thereby and said in her mind,
" Wallahi, there is no help but that I devise for him a device
which shall make unlawful to him this his staring and casting
sheep's eyes at my casement ; nay more, I will work for ousting
him from his shop." So one day of the days when the Yuzbashi
went from home, his wife arose and adorned and beautified herself,
and donning the bestest of what dresses and decorations she had,
despatched one of her slave-girls to the Tailor instructing her to
say to him: " My lady salameth to thee and biddeth thee come
and drink coffee with her." The handmaiden went to his shop and

1 Scott (vi. 386) "The Cauzee's story :" Gauttier (vi. 406) does not translate it.



264 Supplemental Nights.

delivered the message ; and he, when hearing these words, 1 waxed
bewildered of wits and rose up quivering in his clothes ; - And
Shahrazad was surprised by the dawn of day and fell silent and
ceased to say her permitted say. Then quoth her sister Dunyazad,
" How sweet is thy story, O sister mine, and how enjoyable and
delectable ! " Quoth she, " And where is this compared with that
I would relate to you on the coming night an the King suffer me
to survive ? " Now when it was the next night and that was



an&

DUNYAZAD said to her, " Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou
be other than sleepy, finish for us thy tale that we may cut short
the watching of this our latter night!" She replied: - With
love and good will ! It hath reached me, O auspicious King, the
director, the right-guiding, lord of the rede which is benefiting and
of deeds fair-seeming and worthy celebrating, that when the Tailor
heard the girl's words, he quivered in his clothes ; but indeed he
recked not aught of the wiles of womankind. So after padlocking
his shop he went with her to the house and walked upstairs,
where he was met by the lady with a face like the rondure of the
moon and she greeted him right merrily, and taking him by the
hand led him to a well-mattressed Divan and bade her slave-girl
serve him with coffee, and as he drank it she sat facing him.
Presently the twain fell to conversing, she and he ; and she soothed
him with sweet speech, whilst he went clean out of his mind for
the excess of her beauty and loveliness. This lasted until near
midday, when she bade serve the dinner-trays, and took seat in
front of him, and he began picking up morsels z designed for his
lips and teeth, but in lieu thereof thrust them into his eye. She

1 In the text the message is delivered verbatim : this iteration is well fitted for oral
work, with its changes of tone and play of face, and varied "gag"; but it is most
annoying for the more critical reader.

2 Arab. " Lukmah " = a balled mouthful : vols. i. 261, vii. 367.



The Tailor and tJic Lady and the Captain. 265

laughed at him, but hardly had he swallowed the second mouthful
and the third when behold, the door was knocked, whereupon she
looked out from the casement and cried, " Oh my honour ! this is
my husband." Hereat the man's hands and knees began to quake,
and he said to her, " Whither shall I wend ? " Said she, " Go
into this closet," and forthright she thrust him into a cabinet and
shot the bolt upon him and taking the key she tare out one of
its teeth ] and put it in her pocket. After this she went down
and opened the door to her husband who walked upstairs ; and
finding the dinner trays bespread, asked her, " What is this ? "
She answered, " I and my lover have been dining together."
" And what may be thy lover ? " " Here he is." 2 " Where may
he be ? " to which she replied, " He is inside this closet." Now
as soon as the Tailor heard her say this say, he piddled in his
bag-breeches and befouled himself and he was in a filthy state
with skiteand piss. 3 Hereupon the Captain asked, " Andwhere*s
the key?" and she answered, " Here it is with me." 4 " Bring it
out," said he, so she pulled it from her pocket and handed it to
him. The Captain took the key from his spouse and applying it
to the wooden bolt of the cabinet rattled it to and fro 5 but it

t

would not open ; so the wife came up to him and cried, "Allah
upon thee, O my lord, what wilt thou do with my playmate ? " Said



1 The " Miftah " (prop. "Miftah") or key used throughout the Moslem East is a bit
of wood, 7-14 inches long, and provided with 4-10 small iron pins which correspond
with an equal number of holes in the " Dabbah " or wooden bolt. If one of these
teeth be withdrawn the lock will not open. Lane (M. E. Introduction) has a sketch of
the " Miftah " and " Dabbah."

2 In text " Ayoh " which is here, I hold, a corruption of "I (or Ayy) hii" = " yes
indeed he." [I take "aywah " (as I would read the word) to be a different spelling for
"aywa" = yes indeed, which according to Spitta Bey, Gr. p, 168 is a contraction of
"Ay (t) wa'llahi," yes by Allah, "What? thy lover P" asks the husband, and she
emphatically affirms the fact, to frighten the concealed tailor. ST.]

3 In the Arab. "Al-Ashkhakh," plur. of "Shakhkh"and literally "the stales"
meaning either dejection. [I read : " bi 'l-Shakha"kh," the usual modem word for
orine. " 'Alayya Shakhakh " is : I want to make water. See Dozy Suppl. s.v. ST.]

4 In text " Ahu ma'f " pure Fellah speech.

9 In the Arab, "laklaka-ha" an onomatopoeia.



266 Supplemental Nights.

he. " I will slay him ! " and said she, " No, 'tis my opinion that thou
hadst better pinion him and bind him as if crucified to the pillar
in the court floor and then smite him with thy sword upon the neck
and cut off his head ; for I, during my born days, never saw a
criminal put to death and now 'tis my desire to sight one done
to die." " Sooth is thy speech," quoth he : so Jie took the key and
fitting it into the wooden bolt would have drawn it back, but it
could not move because a tooth had been drawn therefrom and
the while he was rattling at the bolt his wife said to him, " O my
lord > 'tis my desire that thou lop off his hands and his feet until
he shall become marked by his maims ; ! and after do thou smite
his neck." "A sensible speech," cried the husband and during
the whole time her mate was striving to pull the bolt she kept
saying to him, " Do this and do that with the fellow," and he
ceased not saying to her, "Tis well." All this and the Tailor sat
hearkening to their words and melting in his skin ; but at last the
wife burst out laughing until she fell upon her back and her
husband asked her, " Whereat this merriment ? " Answered she,
" I make mock of thee for that thou art wanting in wits and wisdom."
Quoth he, " Wherefore ? " and quoth she, " O my lord, had I a
lover and had he been with me should I have told aught of him to
thee? Nay; I said in my mind: Do such and such with the
Captain and let's see whether he will believe or disbelieve. Now
when I spake thou didst credit me and it became apparent to me
that thou art wanting in wits." Cried he to her, " Allah dis-
appoint thee ! Dost thou make jibe and jape of me ? I also said
in my thoughts : How can a man be with her and she speak of
him in the face of me ? " So he arose and took seat with her, the
twain close together, at the dinner-tray and she fell to morselling
him and he to morselling her, and they laughed and ate until
they had their sufficiency and were filled ; then they washed their

' In text " Ila an yasir Karmu-hu." The v/ Karm originally means cutting a slip of
skin from the camel's nose by way of mark, in lieu of the normal branding.



The Tailor and the Lady and the Captain. 267

hands and drank coffee. After this they were cheered and they
toyed together and played the two-backed beast until their
pleasure was fulfilled and this was about mid-afternoon -
And Shahrazad was surprised by the dawn of day and fell
silent and ceased saying her permitted say. Then quoth her sister
Dunyazad, " How sweet and tasteful is thy tale, O sister mine, and
how enjoyable and delectable ! " Quoth she, " And where is this
compared with that I would relate to you on the coming night an
the Sovran suffer me to survive ? " Now when it was the next
night, and that was



DUNYAZAD said to her, " Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou be
other than sleepy, finish for us thy tale, that we may cut short the
watching of this our latter night!" She replied: - With love
and good will ! It hath reached me, O auspicious King, the
director, the right-guiding, lord of the rede which is benefiting and
of deeds fair-seeming and worthy celebrating, that the Yuzbashi fell
to toying with his wife, and thrusting and foining at her cleft 1 , her
solution of continuity, and she wriggled to and fro to him, and
bucked up and down, after which he tumbled her and both were
in gloria? This lasted until near mid-afternoon when he arose



1 In text " Yazghaz-ha fi shikkati-ha," the verb being probably a clerical error for
" Yazaghzagh," from v/ " Zaghzagha" = he opened a skin bag.

2 This is the far-famed balcony-scene in "Fanny" (of Ernest Feydeau translated into
English and printed by Vizetelly and Co.) that phenomenal specimen of morbid and
unmasculine French (or rather Parisian) sentiment, which contrasts so powerfully with
the healthy and manly tone of The Nights. Here also the story conveys a moral
lesson and, contrary to custom, the husband has the best of the affair. To prove that
my judgment is not too severe, let me quote the following passages from a well-known
and popular French novelist, translated by an English litterateur and published by a
respectable London firm.

In "A Ladies' Man : " by Guy de Maupassant, we read :

Page 62. And the conversation, descending from elevated theories concerning love,
strayed into the flowery garden of polished blackguardism. It was the moment of
clever double meanings ; veils raised by words, as petticoats are lifted by the wind ;



268 Supplemental Nights.

and went forth to the Hammam. But as soon as he left the house
she opened the cabinet and brought out the Tailor, saying, " Hast
thou seen what awaiteth thee, O pander, O impure? Now, by
Allah, an thou continue staring at the windows or durst bespeak
me with one single word it shall be the death of thee. This time
I have set thee free, but a second time I will work to the wasting of
thy heart's blood." Cried he, " I will do so no more ; no, never ! "
Thereupon said she to her slave-girl, " O handmaid, open to him the
door ; " and she did so, and he fared forth (and he foully bewrayed
as to his nether garments) until he had returned to his shop. Now
when the Emir heard the tale of the Kazi, he rejoiced thereat and
said to him, " Up and gang thy gait ! " so the Judge went off garbed
in his garberdine and bonnet. Then said the house-master to his
wife, " This be one of the four, where's Number Two ? " Hereat



tricks of language, cleverly disguised audacities ; sentences which reveal nude images in
covered phrases, which cause the vision of all that may not be said to flit rapidly before
the eyes of the mind, and allow well-bred people the enjoyment of a kind of subtle and
mysterious love, a species of impure mental contact, due to the simultaneous evocations
of secret, shameful, and longed-for pleasures.

Page 166. George and Madeleine amused themselves with watching all these couples,
the woman in summer toilette and the man darkly outlined beside her. It was a huge
flood of lovers flowing towards the Bois, beneath the starry and heated sky. No sound
was heard save the dull rumble of wheels. They kept passing by, two by two in each
vehicle, leaning back on the seat, clasped one against the other, lost in dreams of desire,
quivering with the anticipation of coming caresses. The warm shadow seemed full of
kisses. A sense of spreading lust rendered the air heavier and more suffocating. All
the couples, intoxicated with the same idea, the same ardour, shed a fever about them.

Page 187. As soon as she was alone with George, she clasped him in her arms,
exclaiming: -"Oh ! my darling Pretty-boy, I love you more and more every day."

The cab conveying them rocked like a ship.

14 It is not so nice as our own room," said she.

He answered ; " Oh , no." But he was thinking of Madame Waller.

Page 198. He kissed her neck, her eyes, her lips with eagerness, without her being
able to avoid his furious caresses, and whilst repulsing him, whilst shrinking from his
mouth, she, despite herself, returned his kisses. All at once she ceased to struggle,
and, vanquished, resigned, allowed him to undress her. One by one he neatly and
rapidly stripped off the different articles of clothing with the light fingers of a lady's
maid. She had snatched her bodice from his hands to hide her face in it, and remained
standing amidst the garments fallen at her feet. He seized her in his arms and bore
her towards the couch. Then she murmured in his ear in a broken voice, '* I swear to
you, I swear to you, that I have never had a lover."
And he thought " That is all the same to me."



The Tailor and the Lady and the Captain. 269

she arose and opened the closet in which was the Gentleman and
led him out by the hand till he stood before her husband, who
looked hard at him and was certified of him and recognised him
as the Shahbandar ; so he said to him, " O Khawajah, when didst
thou make thee a droll ? "' but the other returned to him neither
answer nor address and only bowed his browgroundwards. Quoth
the house-master to him, " Dance for us a wee and when thou
shalt have danced do thou tell us a tale." So he fell perforce to
clapping his hands and skipping about until he fell down of fatigue
when he said, " O my lord, there is with me a rare story, and an
exceeding strange if thou of thy grace accord attention to my
words." " Tell on and I will listen to thee," quoth the other,
whereupon said the Gentleman, " 'Tis concerning the wiles of
womankind," and fell to relating the adventures of

1 In text " Ant* amilla maskhara (for maskharah) matah (for mata)," diomatica
Fellah- tongue.



THE SYRIAN AND THE THREE WOMEN

OF CAIRO.



273



THE SYRIAN AND THE THREE WOMEN OF CAIRO. 1

THERE, was a man, a Shamf, who came to the God-guarded city of
Misr al-Kahirah Misr of Mars and with him was a store of
money and merchandize and sumptuous clothing. He hired for
himself a room in a caravanserai, and having no slave, he was
wont to go forth every day and roam about the city-thoroughfares
and cater for himself. Now this continued for a while of time
till one day of the days, as he was wandering and diverting his
mind by looking to the right and to the left, he was met on the
way by three women who were leaning and swaying one towards
other as they walked on laughing aloud ; and each and every of
the three surpassed her fellow in beauty and loveliness. When he
looked at them his mustachios curled 2 at the sight and he
accosted them and addressed the trio, saying, " May it be that ye
will drink coffee in my lodging ? " " Indeed we will," said they,
" and we will make mirth with thee and" exceeding merriment,
passing even the will of thee." Quoth he, " When shall it be ? "
and quoth they, " To-night we will come to thy place." He con-
tinued, " I am living in a room of Such-and-such a Wakalah." 3

1 Scott (Appendix vol. vi. 460) simply entitled this tale "The Syrian." In M.
Clouston's "Book of Noodles" (pp. 193-194) we find a man who is searching for
three greater simpletons than his wife, calling himself " Saw ye ever my like ?" It is
quoted from Campbell's " Popular Tales of the West Highlands" (ii. 385-387), but it
lacks the canopic wit of the Arabo-Egyptian. I may note anent the anecdote of the
Gabies (p. 201), who proposed, in order to make the tall bride on horseback enter the
low village-gate, either to cut off her head or the legs of her steed, that precisely the
same tale is told by the biting wits of Damascus concerning the boobies of Halbun.
" Halbdiin," as these villagers call their ancient hamlet, is justly supposed to be the
Helbon whose wine is mentioned by Ezekiel in the traffic of Damascus, although others
less reasonably identify it with Halab = Aleppo.

2 In text "La'bat Shawaribu-hu " = lit. his mustachios played.

3 For the " Wakalah," or caravanserai, see vol. i. 266.

VOL. V. j



274 Supplemental Nights.

and they rejoined, " Do thou make ready for us supper and we
will visit thee after the hour of night-prayers." He cried, " These
words are well ; " so they left him and went their ways ; and he,
on the return way home, bought flesh and greens and wine and
perfumes ; then, having reached his room, he cooked, five kinds of
meats without including rice and conserves, and made ready
whatso for the table was suitable. Now when it was supper-time
behold, the women came in to him, all three wearing capotes *
over their dresses, and when they had entered they threw these
cloaks off their shoulders and took their seats as they were moons.
Hereupon the Syrian arose and set before them the food-trays
and they ate their sufficiency, after which he served to them the
table of wine, whereat they filled and passed to him and he
accepted and swilled until his head whirled round, and as often

1 In text " Kabut," plur. Kabdbit :

Oh ! who is more brave than a dark Suliote,

In his snowy camise and his shaggy capote ? " Childe Harold" Canto //.

And here I cannot but notice the pitiful contrast (on the centenary of the poet's nativity,
Jan. 22nd, '88) between the land of his birth and that of his death. The gallant
Greeks honoured his memory with wreaths and panegyrics and laudatory articles,
declaring that they will never forget the anniversaries of his nativity and his decease.
The British Pharisee and Philistine, true to his miserable creed, ignored all the "real
Lord Byron " his generosity, his devotion to his friends, his boundless charity, and his
enthusiasm for humanity. They exhaled their venom by carping at Byron's poetry
(which was and is to Europe a greater boon than Shakspeare's), by condemning his
morality (in its dirty sexual sense) and in prophesying for him speedy oblivion. Have
these men no shame in presence of the noble panegyric dedicated by the Prince of
German poets, Goethe, to his brother bard whom he welcomed as a prophet ? Can they
not blush before Heine (the great German of the future), before Flaubert, Alfred de
Mussel, Lamartine, Leopardi and a host of Italian, Spanish and Portuguese notables?
Whilst England will not forgive Byron for having separated from his unsympathetic wife,



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 16) → online text (page 22 of 40)