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 36 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 36 of 40)
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Cairene, " What is this thou hast done ? This is mere horseplay 2
and not lack of tact." Now on the morning of the next day the
Lack-tact of Cairo was required to play his prank even as the
Damascene had done ; so he rose up and girded his loins and

tucked up his sleeves and took up a tray 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 Sovran suffer me to survive? "
Now when it was the next night and that was



1 The grand old Eastern or Desert-gate of Cairo : see vol. vi. 234.

2 Arab. "Thakalah,'' lit. = heaviness, dulness, stupidity.



45 8 Supplemental Nights.



antr



DUNYAZAD said to her, " Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou
be not sleeping, 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 Egyptian
rose up and girded his loins and tucked up his sleeves, and taking
him a tray said to the Syrian, " Up and after me and see what I
shall do." Then he went out tray on head, and foregoing the
Damascene to a flower-garden he gathered a bundle of blooms and
sweet-scented herbs, pinks and roses and basil and pennyroyal l
and marjoram and other such, until the tray was filled, after which
he returned to town. About noontide he repaired to one of the
Cathedral-mosques and entered the lavatory, 2 around which were
some fifteen privies : 3 so he stood amiddlemost the floor consider-
ing the folk as they entered the jakes to do their jobs in private
lest the bazar-people come upon them during their easement. And
all were sore pressed wanting to pass urine or to skite ; so whenever
a man entered the place in a hurry he would draw the door to.
Then the Lack-tact of Cairo would pull the door open, and go in
to him carrying a posy of perfumed herbs, and would say, " Thy
favour ! 4 O my brother," and the man would shout out saying,
" Allah ruin thy natal realm, are we at skite or at feast ? " whereat
all standing there would laugh at him. Suddenly one rushed into



1 This is a mere " shot " : the original has " Baltharan."

2 Arab. "Mayzah"= the large hall with a central fountain for ablution attached to
every great Mosque.

3 In the text " Shashmah," from Pers. " Chashmah" a fountain ; applied in Egypt to
the small privies with slab and hole ; vol. i. 221.

4 [In Ar. " Unsak," an expression principally used when drinking to one's health, in
which sense it occurs, for instance, in the Bresl. ed. of The Nights i. 395, 7. ST.]



Story of the Two Lack- Tacts of Cairo and Damascus. 459

the lavatory sore pressed and hanging an arse l and crying aloud
in his grievous distress, " O Allah, O His Prophet, aid me ! " for
that he feared to let fly in his bag-trousers. Then the Lack-tact
would accost him holding in hand his posy of perfumed herbs, and
softly saying, " Bismillah take it, and give me thy favour ; " and
the man would roar at the top of his voice, "Allah disappoint
thee ! what a Lack-tact thou art : I am sore pressed ; get thee
out." And the further that man would fare away from him the
closer he would follow him saying, " Thy favour ! Take it ! Smell
it ! " Now at that time all the cabinets of easement were full of
people, nor did one remain vacant, and the distressed man stood
there expecting someone to issue that he might enter ; but in his

condition the delay was overlong And Shahrazad perceived

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 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

2Tf)e f$t f^unttrett anfc TOttg-m'ntf) jtftg&t,

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 Cairene
Lack-tact kept bespeaking that sorely distressed man and follow-
ing him as he fled, crying out to him and saying, " Away from me,
am I not this moment about to skite or am I at a feast ? " till at

1 Arab. "Mutdtfbi zahri-h" : our ancestors' expression was not polite, but expressive
and picturesque.



460 Supplemental Nights.

last the excess of weight in his arse-gut caused him to let fly in
his bag-trousers and bewray all his behind. And during this time
none came out of the jakes, so the unhappy sat in his unease and
all the folk seeing him conskite himself fell to laughing at him as
he sat there, and the Lack-tact of Cairo continued offering him
the posy, saying, " Thy favour ! " and the other continued shouting
his loudest, " Am I at skite or at a feast ? " Thereupon the Lack-
tact of Damascus turned to his rival and cried, " The Fatihah ! is
in thy books, O Chief Joker of Cairo. By Allah (and the Almighty
grant thee length of life !) thou hast excelled me in everything, and
they truly say that none can surpass or overcome the Cairene and
men have agreed to declare that the Syrian winneth his wish
and gaineth only blame, while the Egyptian winneth not his wish
and gaineth thanks and praise." And amongst other things it
happened 2 that a Cairene went to borrow a donkey from another
man, a Damascene, wishing to ride it to a wedding, and when he
met his friend he saluted him and said, " Ho Such-an-one, lend me
thine ass for such a purpose." Now when the owner of the animal
heard these words he smote hand upon hand and cried, " O
worshipper of Allah, 3 a little while ere thou earnest to me, a man
urgently asked it of me and took it on loan : haddest thou been
somewhat earlier I would have lent it to thee. Verily I am put
to shame by thee as thou goest from me without thy need." The
Egyptian said in his mind, " By Allah, this one speaketh sooth, and
had the donkey been in his house assuredly he would have lent it
to me." But the owner of the animal said to himself, " Certainly
Such-an-one begged it of me, but the rest is a lie, for the beast is



1 The normal pun : " Fatihah," fern, of " fdtih "= an opener, a conqueror, is the first
Koranic chapter, for which see iv. 36.

2 This appears to be a kind of padding introduced to fill up the Night. The loan of
an ass is usually granted gratis in Fellah villages and Badawi camps. See Matth. xxi.
2, 3 ; Mark xi. 2-6, and Luke xix. 30-34.

3 i.e. O Moslem, opposed to Enemy of Allah = a .non-Moslem. In text Ya 'Ibad,
plur. for sing.



Story of the Two Lack- Tacts of Cairo and Damascus. 461

shut up in the stable." However the Syrian who owned the beast
went to his gossip, the man who had begged a loan of it, and
entering the house salam'd to him and said, " Give me the donkey^
O Such-an-one ; " - 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 Sovran suffer me to survive ? " Now when
it was the next night and that was



anfl JForttetl) Jit'g&t,



DUNYAZAD said to her, " Allah upon thee, O ray 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 Syrian
went to his gossip saying, " Give me the ass ;" and when the
other heard this he showed his teeth l and cried, " Allah disappoint
the donkey and the owner of the donkey and whoso rideth the
donkey," and flying into an exceeding fury at last said, "Go,
O my lord, and take it from the stable, and may Allah never bring
back nor thee nor the beast." So the Syrian went from him
saying in himself, " Allah disappoint this fellow, why did he not
give me the ass at first and then he had not had occasion to abuse
and curse himself and to revile me also." But they say and say
truly, " The Syrian winneth his wish, but gaineth only blame
while the Egyptian, winneth not his wish and gaineth thanks and
praise ! "

1 Arab. " Kashshara " = grinned a ghastly smile; it also means laughing so as
show the teeth.



TALE OF HIMSELF TOLD BY THE KING.



465



TALE OF HIMSELF TOLD BY THE KING. 1

I HAVE a tale, O my lord the Kazi, which bewildereth the wits
and it is on this wise. By birth and origin I was the son of a
Khwdjah, but my father owned much worldly wealth in money and
effects and vaiselle and rarities and so forth, besides of landed
estates and of fiefs and mortmains a store galore. And every
year when the ships of Al-Hind would arrive bringing Indian
goods and coffee from Al-Yaman the folk bought thereof one-
fourth of the whole and he three-fourths paying in ready cash
and hard money. 2 So his word was heard and his works were
preferred amongst the Traders and the Grandees and the Rulers.
Also he had controul 3 in counselling the Kings and he was held
in awe and obeyed by the merchants, one and all, who consulted
him in each and every of their affairs. This endured until one
year of the years when suddenly he fell sick and his sickness
grew upon him and gained mastery over his frame, so he sent for
me, saying, " Bring me my son." Accordingly I went and entered
to him and found him changed of condition and nearing his last
gasp. But he turned to me and said, " O my son, I charge thee
with a charge which do thou not transgress nor contrary me in
whatso I shall declare to thee." " What may that be ? " asked I,
and he answered, " O my son, do thou never make oath in Allah's
name, or falsely or truly, even although they fill the world for thee

1 This tale follows "The Kazi of Baghdad, his treacherous Brother and his Virtuous
Wife," which is nothing but a replica of "The Jewish Kazi and his Pious Wife"
(vol. v. 256). Scott has translated it, after his fashion, in vol. vi. p. 396-408, and
follows it up with " The Sultan's Story of Himself," which ends his volume as it shall be
the conclusion of mine .

2 In text, " Wa yaakhazu '1 thalatha arbd' min mali-hi wa salbi hdli-hi.

3 In text " La-hu Diraah (for " Dirayah" = prudence) fi tadbiri "1-Muluk."

VOL. V. G 6



466 Supplemental Nights.

with wealth ; but safeguard thy soul in this matter and gainsay it
not, nor give ear to aught other." But when it was midnight the
Divine Mystery 1 left him and he died to the mercy of Allah
Almighty; so I buried him, expending much money upon his
funeral and graved him in a handsome tomb. He had left to me
wealth in abundance such as the pens could not compute, but
when a month or so had sped after his decease suddenly came to
me a party of folk, each and every claiming by way of debt from
me and my sire the sum of some five thousand dinars." Where
be your written bond given by my father ? " asked I ; but they
answered, " There be no instrument and if thou believe us not make
oath by Allah." Replied I saying, " Never will I swear at all,"
and paid them whatso they demanded ; after which all who feared
not the Lord would come to me and say, " We have such-and-
such owing to us by thy parent ; " and I would pay them off until
there remained to me of ready moneys a matter neither great nor
small. Hereupon I fell to selling off my landed estates - 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 Sovran suffer me
to survive ? " Now when it was the next night and that was,



Jtine ^tmtrrrtr anU tEfodftf)

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

1 In text " Al-Sirru '1-ilahi," i.e. the soul, which is ' divinae particula aurse."



Tale of Himself told by the King. 467

of deeds fair-seeming and worthy celebrating, that the King thus
continued his relation to the Kazi : I began selling off my landed
estates and fiefs and letting out my settlements of bequeathal '
until naught of all that remained by me ; so I fell to vending the
house-gear and goods and carpets and pots and pans until I
owned nothing whatever, and my case waxed straitened and the
affair was grievous to me. Then quoth I to myself, " Allah's
earth for Allah's folk ! " and, albeit I had a wife and two male
children, I left them and went forth under cover of the night a
wanderer about the world and unknowing where I should bring
myself to anchor. But suddenly O my lord the Kazi, I was
confronted by a man whose aspect bred awe, showing signs of
saintliness and garbed wholly in spotless white ; so I accosted him
and kissed his hand, and he on seeing me said, " O my son, there
is no harm to thee ! " presently adding,

" Do thou be heedless of thy cark and care o And unto Fate commit thy whole

affair ;
The Lord shall widen what to thee is strait ; The Lord shall all for breadth

of space prepare :
The Lord shall gladly end thy grievous toils ; o The Lord shall work His will,

so jar forbear."

After these words he took my hand and walked with me athwart
those wilds and wolds till such time as we made a city and entered
its gates. Here, however, we found no signs of creature-kind
nor any mark of Son of Adam, and when I sighted this my con-
dition changed and fear and affright entered my heart. But
presently the man turned to me and said, " Dread not nor be
startled, for that this city shall (Inshallah !) be thy portion, and
herein thou shalt become Sovran and Sultan." Quoth I to
myself, " Wallahi, verily this man be Jinn-mad lacking wit and

1 In text *' Nuwajiru '1-wukufet." [I read " nuwajiru (for "nuajiru") 'l-wukufdt,"
taking the first word to be a verb corresponding to the preceding, "nabf'u," and the
second a clerical error for "al-Maukufat." In this case the meaning would be : "and
letting for hire such parts of my property as were inalienable." ST.]



468 Supplemental Nights.

understanding ! How shall I become King and Kaysar in such
place which is all ruins ? " Then he turned to me yet another
time, saying, " Trust in Allah and gainsay Him not ; for verily
shall come to thee joy out of that wherein thou wast of strait-
ness and annoy." - 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 an
the Sovran suffer me to survive ? " Now when it was the next
night and that was



M. pjuntireb anti

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 quoth the
man to the youth, 1 " Trust in Allah, for verily joy shall assuredly
come to thee from the Almighty." "What joy?" quoth the
Khwajah's son, " and indeed this city is a ruinous heap nor is
there indweller or habitant or any to attest God's Unity." But
the man ceased not going about the highways of the deserted
town with his companion till such time as he reached the Palace
of the Sultanate, and the twain entering therein found it with its
vases and its tapestry like a bride tricked out. 2 But the Spider
had tented therein, so both the wights fell to shaking and sweep-
ing for a three days' space till they had cleaned away all the

1 Here the text has the normal enallage of persons, the third for the first, "the
youth" for "I." I leave it unaltered by way of specimen.

2 In text " 'Anis muhalliyah."



Tale of Himself told by the King. 469

webbing and the dust of years ; after which the elder man took the
younger and entered a closet. Herein he came upon a trap-door
which the two uplifted, when behold, they found a staircase
leading below ; so they descended and walked till they ended at
a place with four open halls, one and all fulfilled with gold, and
amiddlemost thereof rose a jetting fount twenty ells long by fifteen
broad, and the whole basin was heaped up with glittering gems
and precious ores. When the merchant's son saw this sight, he
was wildered in his wits and perplext in his thoughts, but the man
said to him, " O my son, all this hath become thine own good."
After this the two replaced the trap-door as it was and quitted
that place ; then the man took him and led him to another stead
concealed from the ken of man wherein he found arms and
armour and costly raiment ; and the two stinted not wandering
about that palace until they reached the royal Throne-room.
Now when the Khwajah's son looked upon it he waxed distraught
and fell a-fainting to the floor for awhile ' and presently when
he revived he asked his companion, " O my lord, what be this ? "
Answered he, " This be the throne of the Sultanate wherewith
the Almighty hath gifted thee ;" and quoth the other, " By Allah,
O my lord, I believe that there is not in me or strength or long-
suffering to take seat upon yonder throne." All this the King
(who erst was a merchant's son) recounted to the Judge and
presently resumed 2 : Then the man, O my lord, said to me,
" O my son, to all who shall come hither and seek thee be sure
thou distribute gifts and do alms-deeds ; so the folk, hearing of
thy largesse, shall flock to thee and gather about thee, and as
often as one shall visit thee, exceed in honour and presents from
the treasure-store thou hast sighted and whose site thou weetest."
And so speaking, O our lord the Kazi, he vanished from my



1 He fainted thinking of the responsibilities of whoso should sit thereupon.

2 Here is a third enallage, the King returning to the first person, the oratio directa.



47O Supplemental Nights.

view and I wist not an he had upflown to the firmament or had
dived into the depths of the earth, but one thing I knew ; to wit,

that I was alone. 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

i)e Jime f^untrrefc antt Jpourteentf) Ntgijt,

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 merchant's
son resumed to the Kazi : Then the man vanisht from my view
and I wist no more thereof. So I seated me (and I all alone) in
that city for the first day and the second, but on the third behold,
I saw a crowd making for me from the city-suburbs and they were
seeking a site wherefrom they had somewhat to require. So I met
them and welcomed them and seated them, and soon I arose and
cooking for them food ate in their company and we nighted
together ; and when it was morning I presented each and every
of them with an hundred dinars. These they accepted and fared
forth from me and on reaching their homes they recounted the
adventure to other folk who also flocked to me and received
presents like those who preceded them. Anon appeared to me a
multitude with their children and wives who said, " Billahi, 1 O my

1 i.e. " by Allah ; " for " Bi " (the particle proper of swearing) see viii. 310.



Tale of Himself told by the King. 47 1

lord, accept of us that we may settle beside thee and be under thy
protecting glance ; " whereupon I ordered houses be given to
them. Moreover there was amongst them a comely youth who
showed signs of prosperity and him I made my assessor; so we
two, I and he, would converse together. The crowd thickened,
little by little, until the whilome ruined city became fulfilled of
habitants, when I commanded sundry of them that they go forth
and lay out gardens and orchards and plant tree-growths ; and a
full-told year had not elapsed ere the city returned to its older estate
and waxed great as erst it was and I became therein Sovran
and Sultan. Such was the case of this King ; * but as regards
the matter of his wife and his two sons, whenas he fared forth from
them he left them naught to eat and presently their case was
straitened and the twain set out, each in his own direction, and
overwandered the world and endured the buffets of life until their
semblance was changed for stress of toil and travail and transit
from region to region for a while of time. At last, by decree of
the Decreer, the elder was thrown by Eternal Fate into the very
town wherein was his sire and said to himself, " I will fare to the
King of this city and take from him somewhat." - And Shah-
razad 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 King suffer me to survive ? " Now when it was the next.
night and that was



anto jptfteentt) J

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

1 Here again is a fourth enallage ; the scribe continuing the narrative.



47 2 Supplemental. Nights.

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 young man
went in to the Sultan and kissed ground before him and the King re-
garding him felt his heart yearn himwards and said, " What wantest
thou, O youth ? " " My design is service with thee," said the other ;
and the King rejoined, " Then welcome to thee ! " So he abode in his
employ for a term of four months until he became like unto a
Mameluke ' and his first case was changed : the Sultan also drew
him near and fell to consulting him in sundry matters the which
proved propitious, so quoth the King, " By Allah, this young man
meriteth naught less than to become my Wazir," and accordingly
made him his Minister of the Right. In his new degree he became
as another liege lord 2 and his word was heard, so the land was
opened up by his hand and year by year he derived from it corvees
and taxes, nor did he cease to be Chief Councillor under the right
hand of the King. Meanwhile his brother who was the younger
stinted not faring from land to land until he was met by a party of
wayfarers that said to him, " O youth, verily the Sultan who ruleth
in such a capital is a liberal lord, loving the poor and paupers ; so do
thou seek him and haply shall he show himself bounteous to thee."
Quoth he, " I know not the city," and quoth they, " We will lead
thee thereto for we purpose to go by his town." So they took him
and he accompanied them until they reached the city when he
farewelled them and entered the gates. After solacing himself
with the sights he passed that night in the Wakalah and as soon



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 36 of 40)