Copyright
Kate Douglas Smith Wiggin.

The Arabian nights : their best-known tales online

. (page 1 of 26)
Online LibraryKate Douglas Smith WigginThe Arabian nights : their best-known tales → online text (page 1 of 26)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


F ARABIAN NIGHTS

JL*- /V- I V /v 1^ 1 j\. I ^ I ^1 JL. VJP * * I O



T*> tf K" -1C** 1 **% "
HF1R
i i jL-f * iV



KATE



I TED BY
VGfeAS W1GG
ORA A SMITH

LLtSTRATED BY
MAX PI ELD PARRISH



N



.,r









NY PUBLIC LIBRARY THE BRANCH LIBRARIES



3 3333 08575 4675




V j



- >r^




THE ARABIAN NIGHTS



THE
ARABIAN NIGHTS

THEIR BEST- KNOWN TALES

EDITED BY

KATE DOUGLAS WIGGIN

AND

NORA A. SMITH

ILLUSTRATED BY MAXFIELU PARRISH





''






NEW YORK

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
MCMTX






Copyright, 1909, by
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS



Published October, 1909




ft CITY OF NEW YORK



PREFACE

LITTLE excuse is needed, perhaps, for any fresh selection from
the famous " Tales of a Thousand and One Nights," provided it
be representative enough, and worthy enough, to enlist a new army
of youthful readers. Of the two hundred and sixty -four bewilder-
ing, unparalleled stories, the true lover can hardly spare one, yet
there must always be favourites, even among these. We have
chosen some of the most delightful, in our opinion; some, too,
that chanced to appeal particularly to the genius of the artist. If,
enticed by our choice and the beauty of the pictures, we manage to
attract a few thousand more true lovers to the fountain-book, we
shall have served our humble turn. The only real danger lies in
neglecting it, in rearing a child who does not know it and has
never fallen under its spell.

You remember Maimoune, in the story of Prince Camaralza-
man, and what she said to Danhasch, the genie who had just
arrived from the farthest limits of China? "Be sure thou tellest
me nothing but what is true or I shall clip thy wings!'' This is
what the modern child sometimes says to the genies of literature,
and his own wings are too often clipped in consequence.

" The Empire of the Fairies is no more.
Reason has banisJied tJiem from ev'ry shore;
Steam has outstripped tJieir dragons and tfieir cars,
Gas has eclipsed tJieir glow-worms and their stars."



Edouard Laboulaye says in his introduction to Nouveaux
Contes Bleus : "Mothers who love your children, do not set them
too soon to the study of history; let them dream while they are
young. Do not dose the soul to the first breath of poetry. Noth-



PREFACE

ing affrights me so much as the reasonable, practical child who be-
lieves in nothing that he cannot touch. These sages of ten years
are, at twenty, dullards, or what is still worse, egoists."

When a child has once read of Prince A gib, of Gulnare or
Periezade, Sinbad or Codadad, in this or any other volume of its
kind, the magic will have been instilled into the blood, for the Ori-
ental flavour in the Arab tales is like nothing so much as magic.
True enough they are a vast storehouse of information concerning
the manners and the customs, the spirit and the life of the Moslem
East (and the youthful reader does not have to study Lane's
learned foot-notes to imbibe all this), but beyond and above the
knowledge of history and geography thus gained, there comes
something finer and subtler as well as something more vital. The
scene is Indian, Egyptian, Arabian, Persian; but Bagdad and Bal-
sora, Grand Cairo, the silver Tigris, and the blooming gardens
of Damascus, though they can be found indeed on the map, live
much more truly in that enchanted realm that rises o'er "the foam
of perilous seas in faery lands forlorn." What craft can sail those
perilous seas like the book that has been called a great three-decker
to carry tired people to Islands of the Blest ? ' The immortal frag-
ment" says Sir Richard Burton, who perhaps knew the Arabian
Nights as did no other European, 'will never be superseded in
the infallible judgment of childhood. The marvellous imagina-
tiveness of the Tales produces an insensible brightness of mind
and an increase of fancy-power, making one dream that behind
them lies the new and unseen, the strange and unexpected in
fact, all the glamour of the unknown."

It would be a delightful task to any boy or girl to begin at the
beginning and read the first English version of these famous stories,
made from the collection of M. Galland, Professor of Arabic in
the Royal College of Paris. The fact that they had passed from

[ vi ]



PREFACE

Arabic into French and from French into English did not pre-
vent their instantaneous popularity. This was in 1704 or there-
abouts, and the world was not so busy as it is nowadays, or young
men would not have gathered in the middle of the night under M.
Gotland's window and cried: '' O vous, qui savez de si jolis contes,
et qui les racontez si bien, racontez nous en un!"

You can also read them in Scott's edition or in Lane's (both of
which, but chiefly the former, we have used as the foundation of our
text), while your elders philologists or Orientalists are studying
the complete versions of John Payne or Sir Richard Burton. You
may leave the wiseacres to wonder which were told in China or
India, Arabia or Persia, and whether the first manuscript dates
back to 1450 or earlier.

We, like many other editors, have shortened the stories here and
there, omitting some of the tedious repetitions that crept in from
time to time when Arabian story-tellers were adding to the text
to suit their purposes.

Mr. Andrew Lang says amusingly that he has left out of his
special versions "all the pieces that are suitable only for Arabs
and old gentlemen," and we have done the same; but we have taken
no undue liberties. We have removed no genies nor magicians,
however terrible; have cut out no base deed of Vizier nor noble
deed of Sultan; have diminished the size of no roc's egg, nor
omitted any single allusion to the great and only Haroun Al-
raschid, Caliph of Bagdad, Commander of the Faithful, who must
have been a great inspirer of good stories.

Enter into this "treasure house of pleasant things," then, and
make yourself at home in the golden palaces, the gem-studded
caves, the bewildering gardens. Sit by its mysterious fountains,
hear the plash of its gleaming cascades, unearth its magic lamps
and talismans, behold its ensorcelled princes and princesses.

[vii ]



PREFACE

Nowhere in the whole realm of literature will you find such a
Marvel, such a Wonder, such a Nonesuch of a book; nowhere
will you find impossibilities so real and so convincing ; nowhere
but in what Henley calls:

"... that blessed brief

Of wJiat is gallantest and best
In all the full-shelved Libraries of Romance.
The Book of rocs,

Sandahvood, ivory, turbans, ambergris,
Cream-tarts, and lettered apes, and Calenders,

And ghouls, and genies O so huge
TJiey might have overed the tall Minster Tower,

Hands down, as schoolboys take a post;

In truth tJie Book of Camaralzaman,
Scfiemselnihar and Sinbad, Scheherezade

The peerless, Bedreddin, Badroulbadour,

Cairo and Serendib and Candahar,
And Caspian, and tJie dim, terrific bulk
Ice-ribbed, fiend-visited, isled in spells and storms

Of Kaf . . . That centre of miracles

Tlie sole, unparalleled Arabian Nights."

KATE DOUGLAS WIGGIN.
August, 1909.



....

[ viii ]



CONTENTS



PAGE



THE TALKING BIRD, THE SINGING TREE, AND THE

GOLDEN WATER 3

THE STORY OF THE FISHERMAN AND THE GENIE ... 52

THE HISTORY OF THE YOUNG KING OF THE BLACK ISLES 67

THE STORY OF GULNARE OF THE SEA 81

THE STORY OF ALADDIN; OR, THE WONDERFUL LAMP . 97

THE STORY OF PRINCE AGIB 190

THE STORY OF THE CITY OF BRASS 205

THE STORY OF ALI BABA AND THE FORTY THIEVES . . 229

THE HISTORY OF CODADAD AND His BROTHERS . . . 264

THE STORY OF SINBAD THE VOYAGER 290



lix]



ILLUSTRATIONS



FROM DRAWINGS IN COLORS
BY MAXFIELD PARRISH



FACING
PAGE



THE TALKING BIRD . 32

It will be sufficient to break off a branch and carry it to
plant in your garden

THE FISHERMAN AND THE GENIE 54

The smoke ascended to the clouds, and extending itself along
the sea and upon the shore formed a great mist

THE YOUNG KING OF THE BLACK ISLES 74

When he came to this part of his narrative the young king
could not restrain his tears

GULNARE OF THE SEA 86

And she proceeded to burn perfume and repeat spells until the
sea foamed and was agitated

ALADDIN . 106

At the same time the earth, trembling, opened just before the
magician, and uncovered a stone, laid horizontally, with a
brass ring fixed into the middle

PRINCE AGIB 194

And when the boat came to me I found in it a man
of brass, with a tablet of lead upon his breast,
engraven with names and talismans

[Xi]



ILLUSTRATIONS



FACINS

PAOB



PRINCE AGIB 202

At the approach of evening I opened the first closet and, entering
it, found a mansion like paradise

THE CITY OF BRASS 218

And when they had ascended that mountain they saw a city than
which eyes had not beheld any greater

THE STORY OF ALI BABA AND THE FORTY THIEVES 236

Cassim . . . was so alarmed at the danger he was in that the
more he endeavoured to remember the word Sesame the more
his memory was confounded

THE HISTORY OF COD AD AD AND His BROTHERS 276

As it drew near we saw ten or twelve armed pirates appear on the deck

SECOND VOYAGE OF SINBAD 300

The spot where she left me was encompassed on all sides by moun-
tains that seemed to reach above the clouds, and so steep that
there was no possibility of getting out of the valley

THIRD VOYAGE OF SINBAD 306

Having finished his repast, he returned to his porch, where he lay
and fell asleep, snoring louder than thunder



[xii]



THE ARABIAN NIGHTS



'When the breeze of a joyful dawn blew free
In the silken sail of infancy,
The tide of time flow'd back with me,

The forward-flowing time of time;
And many a sheeny summer morn,
Adown the Tigris I was borne,
By Bagdat's shrines of fretted gold,
High- walled gardens green and old;
True Mussulman was I and sworn,
For it was in the golden prime
Of good Haroun Alraschid.

'Anight my shallop, rustling thro'

The low and bloomed foliage, drove

The fragrant, glistening deeps, and clove
The citron-shadows in the blue:

By garden porches on the brim,
The costly doors flung open wide,

Gold glittering thro' lamplight dim,
And broider'd sofas on each side:

In sooth it was a goodly time,

For it was in the golden prime
Of good Haroun Alraschid."

ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON.



THE TALKING BIRD, THE SINGING TREE,
AND THE GOLDEN WATER

THERE was an emperor of Persia named Kosrouschah,
who, when he first came to his crown, in order to obtain
a knowledge of affairs, took great pleasure in night ex-
cursions, attended by a trusty minister. He often walked in
disguise through the city, and met with many adventures, one of
the most remarkable of which happened to him upon his first
ramble, which was not long after his accession to the throne of
his father.

After the ceremonies of his father's funeral rites and his own
inauguration were over, the new sultan, as well from inclination
as from duty, went out one evening attended by his grand vizier,
disguised like himself, to observe what was transacting in the
city. As he was passing through a street in that part of the town
inhabited only by the meaner sort, he heard some people talking
very loud; and going close to the house whence the noise pro-
ceeded, and looking through a crack in the door, perceived a light,
and three sisters sitting on a sofa, conversing together after supper.
By what the eldest said he presently understood the subject of
their conversation was wishes: "for," said she, "since we are
talking about wishes, mine shall be to have the sultan's baker
for my husband, for then I shall eat my fill of that bread, which
by way of excellence is called the sultan's ; let us see if your tastes
are as good as mine." "For my part," replied the second sister,

[3]



THE ARABIAN NIGHTS

"I wish I was wife to the sultan's chief cook, for then I should
eat of the most excellent dishes ; and as I am persuaded that the
sultan's bread is common in the palace, I should not want any
of that; therefore you see," addressing herself to her eldest
sister, "that I have a better taste than you." The youngest
sister, who was very beautiful, and had more charms and wit
than the two elder, spoke in her turn: "For my part, sisters,"
said she, "I shall not limit my desires to such trifles, but take a
higher flight; and since we are upon wishing, I wish to be the
emperor's queen-consort. I would make him father of a prince,
whose hair should be gold on one side of his head, and silver on
the other; when he cried, the tears from his eyes should be pearls;
and wh<m he smiled, his vermilion lips should look like a rosebud
fresh-blown."

The three sisters' wishes, particularly that of the youngest,
seemed so singular to the sultan, that he resolved to gratify them
in their desires; but without communicating his design to his
grand vizier, he charged him only to take notice of the house, and
bring the three sisters before him the following day.

The grand vizier, in executing the emperor's orders, would
but just give the sisters time to dress themselves to appear before
his majesty, without telling them the reason. He brought them to
the palace, and presented them to the emperor, who said to them,
'Do you remember the wishes you expressed last night, when you
were all in so pleasant a mood ? Speak the truth ; I must know
what they were." At these unexpected words of the emperor,
the three sisters were much confounded. They cast down their
eyes and blushed, and the colour which rose in the cheeks of the
youngest quite captivated the emperor's heart. Modesty, and
fear lest they might have offended by their conversation, kept
them silent. The emperor, perceiving their confusion, said to

[4]



THE TALKING BIRD

encourage them, "Fear nothing, I did not send for you to distress
you ; and since I see that without my intending it, this is the effect
of the question I asked, as I know the wish of each, I will relieve
you from your fears. You," added he, "who wished to be my
wife, shall have your desire this day; and you," continued he,
addressing himself to the two elder sisters, "shall also be married
to my chief baker and cook."

As soon as the sultan had declared his pleasure, the youngest
sister, setting her elders an example, threw herself at the emperor's
feet to express her gratitude. "Sir," said she, "my wish, since
it is come to your majesty's knowledge, was expressed only in the
way of conversation and amusement. I am unworthy of the
honour you do me, and supplicate your pardon for my presump-
tion." The other two sisters would have excused themselves
also, but the emperor, interrupting them, said, "No, no; it shall
be as I have declared; the wishes of all shall be fulfilled." The
nuptials were all celebrated that day, as the emperor had resolved,
but in a different manner. The youngest sister's were solemnized
with all the rejoicings usual at the marriages of the emperors of
Persia ; and those of the other two sisters according to the quality
and distinction of their husbands; the one as the sultan's chief
baker, and the other as head cook.

The two elder felt strongly the disproportion of their marriages
to that of their younger sister. This consideration made them
far from being content, though they were arrived at the utmost
height of their late wishes, and much beyond their hopes. They
gave themselves up to an excess of jealousy, which not only dis-
turbed their joy, but was the cause of great trouble and affliction
to the queen-consort, their younger sister. They had not an
opportunity to communicate their thoughts to each other on the
preference the emperor had given her, but were altogether em-

[5]



THE ARABIAN NIGHTS

ployed in preparing themselves for the celebration of their mar-
riages. Some days afterward, when they had an opportunity of
seeing each other at the public baths, the eldest said to the other:

' Well, what say you to our sister's great fortune ? Is not she a
fine person to be a queen!" 'I must own," said the other sister,

'I cannot conceive what charms the emperor could discover to
be so bewitched by her. Was it a reason sufficient for him not
to cast his eyes on you, because she was somewhat younger?
You were as worthy of his throne, and in justice he ought to have
preferred you."

"Sister," said the elder, "I should not have regretted if his
majesty had but pitched upon you; but that he should choose
that little simpleton really grieves me. But I will revenge myself;
and you, I think, are as much concerned as I; therefore, I propose
that we should contrive measures and act in concert : communi-
cate to me what you think the likeliest way to mortify her, while I,
on my side, will inform you what my desire of revenge shall sug-
gest to me." After this wicked agreement, the two sisters saw
each other frequently, and consulted how they might disturb and
interrupt the happiness of the queen. They proposed a great
many ways, but in deliberating about the manner of executing
them, found so many difficulties that they durst not attempt
them. In the meantime, with a detestable dissimulation, they
often went together to make her visits, and every time showed her
all the marks of affection they could devise, to persuade her how
overjoyed they were to have a sister raised to so high a fortune.
The queen, on her part, constantly received them with all the
demonstrations of esteem they could expect from so near a
relative. Some time after her marriage, the expected birth of an
heir gave great joy to the queen and emperor, which w r as com-
municated to all the court, and spread throughout the empire.

[6]



THE TALKING BIRD

Upon this news the two sisters came to pay their compliments,
and proffered their services, desiring her, if not provided with
nurses, to accept of them.

The queen said to them most obligingly: "Sisters, I should
desire nothing more, if it were in my power to make the choice.
I am, however, obliged to you for your goodwill, but must submit
to w r hat the emperor shall order on this occasion. Let your
husbands employ their friends to make interest, and get some
courtier to ask this favour of his majesty, and if he speaks to me
about it, be assured that I shall not only express the pleasure he
does me but thank him for making choice of you."

The two husbands applied themselves to some courtiers, their
patrons, and begged of them to use their interest to procure their
wives the honour they aspired to. Those patrons exerted them-
selves so much in their behalf that the emperor promised them
to consider of the matter, and was as good as his word; for in
conversation with the queen he told her that he thought her
sisters were the most proper persons to be about her, but would
not name them before he had asked her consent. The queen,
sensible of the deference the emperor so obligingly paid her, said
to him, "Sir, I was prepared to do as your majesty might please
to command. But since you have been so kind as to think of
my sisters, I thank you for the regard you have shown them for
my sake, and therefore I shall not dissemble that I had rather
have them than strangers." The emperor therefore named the
queen's two sisters to be her attendants; and from that time
they went frequently to the palace, overjoyed at the opportunity
they would have of executing the detestable wickedness they
had meditated against the queen.

Shortly afterward a young prince, as bright as the day, was
born to the queen ; but neither his innocence nor beauty could



THE ARABIAN NIGHTS

move the cruel hearts of the merciless sisters. They wrapped
him up carelessly in his cloths and put him into a basket, which
they abandoned to the stream of a small canal that ran under
the queen's apartment, and declared that she had given birth
to a puppy. This dreadful intelligence was announced to the
emperor, who became so angry at the circumstance, that he was
likely to have occasioned the queen's death, if his grand vizier
had not represented to him that he could not, without injustice,
make her answerable for the misfortune.

In the meantime, the basket in which the little prince was
exposed was carried by the stream beyond a wall which bounded
the prospect of the queen's apartment, and from thence floated
with the current down the gardens. By chance the intendant
of the emperor's gardens, one of the principal officers of the
kingdom, was walking in the garden by the side of this canal, and,
perceiving a basket floating, called to a gardener who was not far
off, to bring it to shore that he might see what it contained. The
gardener, with a rake which he had in his hand, drew the basket
to the side of the canal, took it up, and gave it to him. The
intendant of the gardens was extremely surprised to see in the
basket a child, which, though he knew it could be but just born,
had very fine features. This officer had been married several
years, but though he had always been desirous of having children,
Heaven had never blessed him with any. This accident inter-
rupted his walk: he made the gardener follow him with the child,
and when he came to his own house, which was situated at the
entrance to the gardens of the palace, went into his wife's
apartment. ' Wife," said he, "as we have no children of our own,
God has sent us one. I recommend him to you; provide him a
nurse, and take as much care of him as if he were our own son;
for, from this moment, I acknowledge him as such." The in-

[ 8 ]



THE TALKING BIRD

tendant's wife received the child with great joy, and took particular
pleasure in the care of him. The intendant himself would not
inquire too narrowly whence the infant came. He saw plainly it
came not far off from the queen's apartment, but it was not his
business to examine too closely into what had passed, nor to
create disturbances in a place where peace was so necessary.

The following year another prince was born, on whom the un-
natural sisters had no more compassion than on his brother, but
exposed him likewise in a basket and set him adrift in the canal,
pretending, this time, that the sultana had given birth to a cat.
It w r as happy also for this child that the intendant of the gardens
was walking by the canal side, for he had it carried to his wife,
and charged her to take as much care of it as of the former,
which was as agreeable to her inclination as it was to his ow r n.

The emperor of Persia was more enraged this time against
the queen than before, and she had felt the effects of his anger if
the grand vizier's remonstrances had not prevailed. The third
year the queen gave birth to a princess, which innocent babe
underwent the same fate as her brothers, for the two sisters, being
determined not to desist from their detestable schemes till they
had seen the queen cast off and humbled, claimed that a log of
wood had been born and exposed this infant also on the canal.
But the princess, as well as her brothers, was preserved from death
by the compassion and charity of the intendant of the gardens.

Kosrouschah could no longer contain himself, when he was
informed of the new misfortune. He pronounced sentence of
death upon the wretched queen and ordered the grand vizier to
see it executed.

The grand vizier and the courtiers who were present cast
themselves at the emperor's feet, to beg of him to revoke the
sentence. "Your majesty, I hope, will give me leave," said the

[ 9 ]



THE ARABIAN NIGHTS

grand vizier, "to represent to you, that the laws which condemn
persons to death were made to punish crimes ; the three extraor-
dinary misfortunes of the queen are not crimes, for in what can
she be said to have contributed toward them ? Your majesty
may abstain from seeing her, but let her live. The affliction in
which she will spend the rest of her life, after the loss of your
favour, will be a punishment sufficiently distressing."

The emperor of Persia considered with himself, and, reflecting
that it was unjust to condemn the queen to death for what had
happened, said: "Let her live then; I will spare her life, but it
shall be on this condition : that she shall desire to die more than
once every day. Let a wooden shed be built for her at the gate
of the principal mosque, with iron bars to the window r s, and
let her be put into it, in the coarsest habit; and every Mussulman
that shall go into the mosque to prayers shall heap scorn upon
her. If any one fail, I will have him exposed to the same punish-
ment; and that I may be punctually obeyed, I charge you, vizier,
to appoint persons to see this done." The emperor pronounced
his sentence in such a tone that the grand vizier durst not further



Online LibraryKate Douglas Smith WigginThe Arabian nights : their best-known tales → online text (page 1 of 26)