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 26 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 26 of 40)
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left him, blind as he was, tramping and groping his way " (feeling it with his hands or
slick), ST.]

a In text " Biiru milyanah Moyah." Asa rule the Fellah of Egypt says " Mayyeh,"
the Cairene " Mayya," and the foreigner " Moyah " : the old Syrian is " Maya," the
mod. " Moy," and the classical dim. of " Ma" is " Muwayh," also written " Muwayy"
aud " Muwayhah."

324 Supplemental Nights.

Sbebm f^untftefc anU ^ixtg-sebentf)

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 Musa
had thrust Mohsin into the well with intent to drown him, the
blinded man cried, " O Lord thou hast doomed me to blinding, and
at last Thou hast condemned me to drowning." Then he struck
out with hands and feet till he felt the walls of the well wherein
he found two niches ; so he set toes into one of them and there
stood awaiting the salvation of Allah which was nearhand ; and
his heart was satisfied and he drank of the water. When the first
night fell behold, two of the Jinns came to the pit and sat down in
converse each with other, when quoth the first to the second,
" Wallahi ! O certain person, there is now to be found nor sage
nor leach, and all of them are preposterous pretenders and balkers
of man's intent." Quoth the other, " What may be these words ?'"
and the former resumed, " By Allah, I have possessed the daughter
of the Sultan and she is the dearling of my heart whom I love
with dearest love ; yet can none avail to unsorcel her of me."
Quoth his companion, " And what would expel thee ? " And quoth
he, " Naught will oust me save a black cock or a sable chicken ;
and whenas one shall bring such and cut his throat under her feet
of a Saturday, 1 1 shall not have power to approach the city wherein
she dwelleth." " By Allah, O my brother," said the other, " thou
hast spoken sooth : there is in this land nor wizard nor mediciner
who knoweth aught, and all of them are liars and contradictors
who lay claim to science without aught of intelligence ; indeed

1 ".Sabt" = Sabbath, Saturday: vol. ii. 305, and passim.

>' , I


Tale of Mohsin and Musa. 325

there is not one of them who knoweth of this tree (which adjoineth
our well) that whoso shall take the leaves thereof and plaster them
upon his eyes, even though he be born blind he will be gifted with
sight and wax sound after two or three days by the kind permission
of Allah Almighty. Yet are the folk all heedless of such virtue in
the tree." Now Mohsin remained listening to these words and
pondering them as he stood supported by the side-wall of the well,
and when it was the last third of the night, the Jinns which were
conversing at the mouth took leave each of other. And as soon as
the day brake and the time waxed bright behold there came a Kafilah
which passed by the pit seeking drink for themselves and water for
their cattle. Presently they let down a bucket by a cord and when
Mohsin felt the rope he caught hold thereof, whereat the caravan
people cried, " We take refuge with Allah from Satan the Stoned,"
and said one to other, ' Verily in this well is a Satan ! " Mohsin
heard their words and answered them and said, " Ya'llah ' Ho
you, draw me out hence, for verily I am of mankind and not of
Jinn-kind and being blind I fell yesterday into this hole." Cried
they, " Catch tight hold of the cord," and when he did so they
drew him out and rinding him weak from famine they gave him
a somewhat of food and he ate and drank. The caravan-folk on
like guise drank from the well and wate ed their beasts ; after
which they would have led Mohsin away with them but he said,
" O my brethren (whose weal Allah increase 2 and whose grace
may He reward !), I have a single want wherewith I fain ye would
favour me!" Asked they, " And what may that be? "and he
answered, " That ye direct me to the tree which adjoineth this well
and Jead me close thereto and God shall gar your good to grow! "
Hereupon one hent him by the hand and after doing as he desired
and setting him beside the tree returned to his own folk and the

1 i.e. " By Allah," meaning " Be quick ! "

2 For this well-nigh the sole equivalent amongst the Moslems of our "thank you,"
see vol. iv. 6, and v. 171.

326 Supplemental Nights.

caravan loaded and left the place. Presently Mohsin swarmed up:
v the trunk ; and, taking seat upon a branch of its branches, fell to
.cropping the leaves and patching them upon either eye as he had
jheard the Jinni prescribe ; and hardly had two days gone by when
he felt healed of his hurt and opened his eyelids and saw what
was around him. Then, after taking somewhat of its foliage, he
came down from the tree and went on his wayfare until he entered
a city and found him a lodging. When this was done he fell to
threading the streets and ways crying aloud the while, " I am
the Leach, the Healer! 1 I am the Mediciner who can cure the
blind ! " whereat all the one-eyed and the sightless would summon
him with outcries and he would apply to them somewhat of his
leaves ; and after two or three days (he superintending the while)
they would open their eyes and see. On this wise went by a term
of time until at last the King of that city heard rumour of a new
leach ; so he sent to him and summoned him and said to him,
"Art thou a clever Medicine-man even as they have informed me;
concerning thee ? I have a daughter ridden 2 by a Jinni of the
Jann and we desire of thee that thou unsorcel her." " And if I
avail not to free her ? " asked Mohsin, and the King answered,
" Then will I kill thee even as I have slain a many before thee
who have looked upon the face of the Princess." " And if I prove
able to deliver her and fend her from further offence ? " "I will
give thee what thou askest of coin and hoards." " No, O King of
the Age ; this condition I will not accept : if I free her I must
take her to wife, for an I fail therein thou wilt slay me ; and

1 In Arab. " Ana '1-Tabfb, al-Mudawi." In pop. parlance, the former is the scientific
practitioner and the latter represents the man of the people who deals in simples, etc.

* In text " Rakiba-ha," the technical term for demonaic insiliation or possession: the
idea survives in our " succubi " and "incubi." I look upon these visions often
as the effects of pollutio noclurna, A modest woman for instance dreams of being
possessed by some man other than her husband ; she loves the latter and is faithful to
him, and consequently she must explain the phenomena superstitiously and recur to
diabolical agency. Of course it is the same with men, only they are at less trouble to
excuse themselves.

Tale of Mohsin and Musa. 327

unless thou agree with me after I shall have saved her that thou
e'en wed her to rne " - 1 'Tis well, O Shaykh ; and for re-
leasing her I give thee a delay of three months for visiting and
healing her. - 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 King
covenanted with the Mediciner that the unsorcelling of the Princess
should be within three months ; after which he set apart an apart-
ment for him with all the furniture and appurtenances thereof and
appointed to him rations of meat and drink. So Mohsin abode
with him the appointed time and he in the extreme of comfort
and enjoyment ; but when the three months were ended the Sultan
sent for him and summoned him between his hands and said, ' O
Shaykh, the term is gone-by." Hereupon Shaykh Mohsin went

1 The construction here, MS. p. 67, is very confused. [The speech of Muhsin
seems to be elliptical. In Ar. it runs : " Li-anni iza, lam nukhullis-ha (or nukhlis-ha,
2nd or 4th form) taktulni, wa ana iz lam tattafik ma'f anni ka khallastu-ha tu'ti-ha
alayya " which I believe to mean : "for if I do not deliver her, thou wilt kill me ; so
I (say) unless thou stipulate with me that when I have delivered her thou wilt give her
to me in marriage - " supply: " well then I wash my hand of the whole business."
The Shaykh acts on the tit for tat principle in a style worthy of the " honest broker"
himself. ST.]

328 Supplemental Nights.

forth and bought him a black cock and when Sabbath 1 came round

the Sultan presented him to his daughter whom he found in sore

and sorrowful state, unknowing aught concerning herself or how

the mishap had occurred to her. Now when he went in and

looked upon her in such case, he drew near to her and fell to

reciting Koranic versets which avert evil (the Sultan sitting beside

them the while) ; and at the last he slaughtered the cock between

her feet. Hereat the Princess recovered her senses and rose up

and sat down 2 forthright and called for meat and drink which were

brought to her ; then she ate and drank and besought for herself

the guidance of God and said, " Alhamdolillah " laud to the

Lord and presently she kissed the hand of her sire and of

Shaykh Mohsin. Quoth the King, "O my daughter, art thou

indeed well ?" and quoth she, " At this present I feel naught of

pain in my person nor do I sense anything of what hath been

with me ; and all this is by blessing of yonder Shaykh thou hast

brought to me. But say me, O my father, what hast thou made

over to him of money as a reward for unsorcelling me ?" " O my

daughter," replied he, " I have offered him all he shall ask." But

when the Princess recovered from her malady and returned to self,

she changed from mode to mode and she became as one cast in

the mould of beauty and loveliness and Shaykh Mohsin looking

upon her was dazed and amazed in his wits by cause of her

exceeding comeliness and seemlihead. Presently the Princess

addressed him, " O Shaykh Mohsin, what thing dost thou ask of

1 In text " Yaum Saht " again.

2 As has been said (vol. ii. 112) this is a sign of agitation. The tale has extended to
remote Guernsey. A sorrier named Hilier Mouton discovers by his art that the King's
daughter who had long and beautiful tresses was dying because she had swallowed a hair
which had twined round her prsecordia. The cure was to cut a small square of bacon
from just over the heart, and tie it to a silken thread which the Princess must swallow,
when the hair would stick to it and come away with a jerk. See (p. 29.) " Folk-lore of
Guernsey and Sark," by Louise Lane-Clarke, printed by E. Le Lievre, Guernsey, 1880 ;
and I have to thank for it a kind correspondent, Mr. A. Buchanan Brown, of La
Couture, p. 53, who informs us why the Guernsey lily is scentless, emblem of (he maiden
who sent it from fairy-land.

Tale of Moksin and Musa. 329

the King's Majesty ?" for indeed her heart was fulfilled of the love
to him which had mastered her. Now the Wazir had a son and it
was his aim that his heir should marry the King's daughter, but
this his wish was in vain ; for when she was certified that her salva-
tion was at the hand of Shaykh Mohsin, she said to her sire, " Do
thou, O my father, largesse what is dearest to thee upon my
healer." 1 Her design in these words was that the Sultan might
bestow her to wife upon her deliverer, and she added, " Indeed our
joyance hath been at his hands and he is deserving of munificence
full and abundant." But again the object of her speech was that
her parent might espouse her to the Shaykh for the love to Mohsin
which had mastered her heart. Quoth her father, " O my daughter
we will give him a sumptuous robe of honour and ten purses ;"
but quoth she, " No, O my sire, this be not gift sufficient for the
like of such service." Now she was the sole prop of her parents
who had no child save herself, so the King replied, " O my
daughter, I will give him whatso thou shalt say." Thereupon she
asked him, " How many of the folk came in to me and uncovered
my shame 2 and were slain therefor ? " and he answered, " Some
fifty." Then cried she, " Had not Shaykh Mohsin been able to
exorcise me what hadst thou done with him ?" " Indeed I had


slain him." " Then Alhamdolillah Glory be to God for that my
deliverance was at his hand : so do thou bestow upon him thy
best," and so she spake for that she was ashamed to say her sire,
" Wed me to him." The King not understanding the hint she
had hinted said to her, " All thou wishest I will largesse to him ;''
and she, " I have spoken to thee but thou hast not comprehended
my words ! All who have looked upon my shame and proved
unable to deliver me thou wast wont to slay and this man hath
been my salvation after seeing me unveiled : how then wilt thou
gift him with money and means or condition with him when thou

1 The text says only, " O my father, gift Shaykh Mohsin."

2 Her especial " shame" would be her head and face : vol. vi. 30, 118.

33O Supplemental Nights.

art unable to earn- out thy compact?" Hereupon the King
became ware of what was in his daughter's mind and forthwith
sending to summon the Kazi and witnesses he bade bind the
marriage-bond between her and Shaykh Mohsin and in due time
let them lead him to her in procession and suffer him go in unto
her. So he cohabited with the Princess a while of time, after
vhich the life-term of the Sultan drew near, and he fell sick of a
sickness whereof he died. And when thev had committed his

remains to earth the Lords of the land and the Grandees of com-
mand forgathered and agreed in council that none should overrule
them save the Shaykh Mohsin. So they invested him with the
signet-ring of Sovranty and seated him upon the throne of
Kingship and he became Sovereign and Sultan. Moreover Allah
Almighty enlightened his heart in governance with justice and
equity ; and all the subjects with the Notables of the realm and
the Rulers of high rank blessed him and prayed for him. Now
one day of the days Sultan Mohsin felt desirous of solacing
himself in the gardens ; so he rode forth, he and his suite, when
he suddenly sighted his whilome comrade, the same who had
plucked out one eye for half a scone and had gouged out the other
eye for the other half. He bade them bring the man to the
presence and when they set him between his hands he asked him
saying, " O Shaykh, what may be thy name ? " and he answered,
" I am hight Shaykh Mohammed." So he carried him with his
suite to the gardens where they abode until day ended, after which
the Sultan rode back and entering his palace, bade bring Shaykh
Mohammed whom he despatched to the House of Hospitality. 1
On the third day he bade summon his guest after supper-tide
and taking him by the hand led him into a cabinet and said, " O

Shaykh Mohammed, do thou tell us a tale/' And Shahrazad

was surprised by the dawn of day and fell silent and ceased

1 In northern Africa the "Dar al-Ziyafah" was a kind of caravanserai in which
travellers were lodged at government expense. Ibn Khaldun (Fr. Transl. i. 407).

Tale of Mohsin and Musa. 3 3 !

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

tf)e jedjen l^unliwU anto ^Ebentp=first Jit'gtt,

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
King entered the closet leading Mohammed by the hand he said
to him, " Do thou, O Shaykh, tell us a tale." " By Allah, O our
lord," quoth the other, " I know naught of stories." Whereupon
the Sultan rejoined, " If so it be, I will relate to thee, O Shaykh
Mohammed, 'an adventure of my own and 'tis as follows: Once
upon a time a man went forth his town and he made companion-
ship with another upon the way, and each one of them bore with
him a bag of meal and a flask of water." On this wise the Sultan
continued recounting to him the real history of Mohsin and Musa
the Malignant, till at the end of the tale he said, " And Musa, after
gouging out both eyes of Mohsin for the sake of a single scone
thrust him into a well designing to drown him therein, but Allah
Almighty preserved his life and brought him forth the pit and our
Lord favoured him and restored to him his two eyes and em-
powered him over the kingdom and thus did he become Sovran
and Sultan. Now the prosperity of that Shaykh Mohsin was from
the well whereinto Musa had thrust him." Presently he added, "An
this tale be soothfast, then am I Mohsin and thou art Musa the

33 2 Supplemental Nights.

Malignant. I am able at this moment to slay thee but I will spare

thee and moreover counsel thee as follows : Do thou go to the

well and haply Almighty Allah shall thereby grant to thee some

good, for that the root of my fair fortune was from that same

pit." Now when the first third of the night had sped, Musa arose

and repaired to the pit and descended therein when behold, the

same two Jinnis had forgathered beside the well-mouth at that

same hour and were seated together conversing each with other.

Quoth the first, "What is thy case this day ?" and quoth the

second, " By Allah, O my brother, my condition is ill-conditioned

ever since a certain night when we met in this place and talked

together. And so it hath continued until the present time, for that

I have been unable to approach the city wherein dvvelleth the

Sultan's daughter : and someone that was in the well must have

overheard us whilst we knew naught of him and he must have

acted according to our words and slaughtered the black cock ;

after which I have been unable to near her abode." Quoth the

other, " By Allah, O my brother, thou has spoken sooth ; but our

ill-constraint is from this well." Hereupon the Jinni put forth his

hand about the pit ] and finding Musa the Misdoer snatched him

up and seizing him between his palms tore his body into four

pieces and cast away the quarters in some desert stead. And

this (said Shahrazad) is the award of whoso betrayeth his fellow

man. And they also relate the adventure of

1 In most of these tales the well is filled in over the intruding "villain " of the piece.
Ibn Khaldun (ii- 575) relates a "veritable history " of angels choking- up a well:
and in Mr. Doughty (ii. 190)3 Pasha- governor of Jiddah does the same to a Jinni-
possessed pit.





IT is told among the many things which happened in Cairo the
God-guarded that therein dwelt a man who was an Emir and who
had a son Mohammed Shalabi 2 hight, a youth in his day unique
for beauty and loveliness, nor in his time was there his peer for
comeliness and seemlihead amongst women or amongst men.
Now when he had attained the age of ten and was approaching
puberty, his sire betrothed him and wedded him to a fair wife who
loved him with fondest love even after marriage. There was also
in Misr a Kazi al-'Askar, a Judge of the Army, who had a
daughter singular for form and favour and bloom and brilliancy,
and stature and symmetric grace and she was known as Sitt
al-Husn the Lady of Loveliness. Now one chance day of the
days she went forth together with her mother and the hand-
maidens to the Baths and when they reached the half way behold,
they were confronted by the young Shalabi whose glance fell upon
the girl and her glance lit upon the youth, wherefrom love and
affection for him settled in her heart and it was with him after the
same fashion. Presently she began to send him messages and
letters and he to do on like guise, yet could neither win possession
of other nor indeed could the twain meet privately in one place.
This endured for the space of three years therefore were their
hearts melted in fire of mutual love-longing, until on a certain day
when desire in the girl surged high for her lover and likewise did
his yearning for his beloved ; withal neither availed to win union.

1 This tale is of a kind not unfrequent amongst Moslems, exalting the character of the
wife, whilst the mistress is a mere shadow.

Here written " Jalabi" (whence Scott's "Julbee," p. 461) and afterwards (p. 77,
etc.) " Shalabi " : it has already been noticed in vol. i. 22 and elsewhere.

33^ Supplemental Nights.

Hereupon befel them sore travail and trouble and the young lady
sent an old woman to her dearling praying him to meet her in such
a site ; aud when the go-between had informed him thereof, he
arose to obey her without stay or delay, unknowing what was
hidden from him in the Secret Purpose. He fared till he came to
the place in question when it was the hour of sunset and here the
Shalabi forgathered with the Kazi's daughter who had kept tryst
with him accompanied by her handmaidens ; and anon the twain,
he and she, repaired to a retired spot. Now by the decree of the
Decreer which is written upon the foreheads and the brows of man-
kind, one of the folk belonging to the Chief of Police was loitering
about the place when the couple entered that secret stead ; and as
soon as they had settled themselves comfortably, each began com-
plaining to other of the pangs of separation. After this the
handmaidens brought to them food, meat and wine, and they ate
and drank and toyed and were cheered and made merry from set
of sun till the noon o' night and they conversed together as boon
companions until either was fulfilled of other and the pains of
parting had vanished from their hearts. Such was the case with
the lover and the beloved ; but as regards the Wall's man who was
looking upon them and listening, he well knew the place wherein
the couple had retired and having noted it and certified himself
thereof, he went to the Chief of Police and made his report saying,
" In such a site of such a ward are a man and a maid whereupon
show the signs of affluence, and doubtless an thou seize them thou
shalt easily get from each and either some fifteen purses." The
Wali hearing these words forthwith led out his party and marched
with them to the spot appointed ; and he ceased not wending for
half the night until they all came to the trysting place. Then he
pushed forward axe J in hand and smote the door and broke it

1 In text "Baltah" for Turk " Ba!tah"= an axe, a hatchet. Hence "Baltah-ji"
a pioneer one of the old divisions of the Osmanli troops which survives as a family name
amongst the Levantines and semi-European Perotes of Constantinople.

Mohammed the Shalabi and his Mistress and his Wife. 337

down ; and forthright he rushed into the room without being
expected by the youth or the young lady whom he found sitting
together in the very height of enjoyment. But when they saw him
suddenly appear they were consterned and confounded and confused
as to their affair, so he arrested them and led them off and carried
them to his house, where he placed them in prison. 1 Forthwith
the bruit concerning the youth went abroad and reached his family ;
to wit, how Mohammed Shalabi had been seized by the Chief of
Police, together with the girl his beloved. Now after imprisoning
them the Wali said, " This pair shall remain with me for a day
or two days and until I catch them in their robbery ; " 2 but
quoth one of the party, " Indeed thou knowest not and thou hast
not learnt that this damsel is the daughter of the Kazi of the Army
who throughout the past year wrought for the slaying of thee by
the Sultan." And hardly had the Wali heard these words than
his heart was filled with joy and he exclaimed, " By Allah, needs

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 26 of 40)