Munshī Shaikh Sardār.

The history of the forty vezirs / or, The story of the forty morns and eves online

. (page 23 of 29)
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tell this secret ? If I tell it to my wife, will she be able to keep
it?' Then he said, 'Ah ! I shall first try her, and see.' He
went to the house, and said, ' Ha, wife, something has hap-
pened to me to-day ! I shall tell thee, but see thou tell it to
no one.' His wife said, ' May it be good ; I shall tell no one.'
Quoth the Turkman, ' While I was ploughing in the field, I was
ware of something, and I looked down and a crow rose up and
flew away ; I know not what it may portend.' His wife said,
' May it be good ! ' That day passed, and the next day the
ploughman heard the folk saying that ten crows had flown out
of such and such an one ; and on the day following he heard that
it was a hundred crows ; and he knew that there was no telling
his secret to his wife. And he said, ' If 1 tell her of the treasure,
one will become a hundred on the stranger's tongue ; and the
treasure and my head will both go from me.' So he told it not
to his wife, but said in himself, ' Some craft is needful here.' So
he went and took three tiles of gold from the treasure and
carried them to the smith, and said, ' Fashion me a ploughshare
of this iron and give it me.' When the smith saw it he was
glad, and the Turkman went away. After some days he came
back and asked for the iron ; the smith gave him a ploughshare
fashioned of black iron. The Turkman said, ' My iron was
yellow, while this is black ; ' and they quarrelled, till at length
they haled both of them before the king. They laid before the
Turkman iron, copper, silver and gold, and said, 'Which of
these was it like ? ' The Turkman pointed out the gold and
said, ' My iron was like this.' Then the king upbraided the smith,
and they put him to the torture, so that at length he was com-

* Any ancient gold coin was called Daqyanos altiini = Diocletian
sequin, or, as liere, Daqyanos filiiri.


pelled to give the gold to the king. The king gave one tile to
the Turkman. Therefore the Turkman for a long time kept
the treasure hidden from his household, till at length, through
fear of his wife, he was unable to enjoy any rest, and he died ;
and the treasure still remains in its place."

The Tenth Vezir's Story.
" They have told that there was once an aged gardener who
was also an ass-driver. One Friday he found it was necessary
to water his garden, on that day too he had grain in the mill
and it was his turn to grind it, and on that day too the turn for
the Friday-worship * came round ; so that that man was bewil-
dered and confounded, and he knew not which of these things
he ought to do. At length, having remembered that the Apostle,
whenever he was in doubt about a matter, used to do that of
it which bare most on the Hereafter, he left the other things and
went to the mosque. When he arose from worship and came
to his house, he saw that his ass was standing ready harnessed.
He went to his garden, and he saw that some one else had been
watering his own garden, and that the water had trickled through
and watered his garden. He went to the mill, and saw his flour
ground. He asked, ' Who ground this flour ? ' The miller said,
' A man, thinking it was his own grain, ground it, then he saw
that it was thine, then he ground his own ; take thpu thy flour and
go.' Then that man knew of a surety that whoso strives in the
way of God will not be shut out from the world or the Hereafter."

The Eleventh Vezir's Story.

" They have told that in the palace of the world was a great
king who had a daughter rare of beauty, such that the fame of
her beauty had gone forth to all lands. One day that girl of a
sudden fell in love with a youth from among the king's servants,
so that she was night and day without rest for the love of him.
Love for the youth grew ever more and more masterful in the
girl, so that she left off to eat and drink and sleep, and her

• It is scarcely necessary to remind the reader that Friday is the
Muhammedan Sabbath.


tulip-hued face was turned to saffron, and her occupation was
ever sighing and waihng. Every day her nurse said, ' Daughter,
art thou not well ? What ails thee ? For thine occupation is
ever sighing; what secret hast thou? Hide it not from me ;
belike I could find a remedy.' But the girl answered nothing.
One day, unable to bear the fire of love, she said, ' O nurse, why
should we hide it from thee ? I love such and such a servant
of my father ; if thou canst not bring me to union with him, I
shall die.' So that night the nurse put on trousers like the
night watchman, and with this disguise entered the sleeping-
chamber of the youth ; and she gave him an intoxicating drug,
and took him and brought him to the girl. So the girl got
ready all things needful for a carouse, and spread beds of silk
and satin, and put down embroidered cushions, and then laid
the youth on them. And she fetched strong vinegar and dropped
it on his face. The youth sneezed and sat up, and looked and
saw seated by his side a beauty whose like he had never seen
in the world. And he saw the palace, the beds and the cushions,
such as he had never seen in his life. Quoth the youth, ' Seest
thou, I have died and they have borne me away and laid me in
Paradise.' Then the girl put her arm round the youth's neck
and said, ' O my life, master, for this long time have I been
without rest for the love of thee.' When the youth heard these
words from the girl, he said, ' O life of my life, what place is
this, and thou, whose soul art thou ? ' The girl said, ' Eat the
fruit and ask not of the tree.' So the youth loved the girl with
a thousand hearts and souls, and he put his arms round her neck
and they began to kiss and clip one another. Then the nurse
went out and watched the door.* The girl fetched wine of the
hue of the Judas-tree, and put a cup into the youth's hand, and
the youth quaffed it to the girl's love, then he filled it and handed
it to her. First he snatched a kiss from the girl, then she from
him. Then the girl quaffed the cup to the youth's love. After
they had sat playing thus for a while, they both stripped naked,

* Before going out she gives her young mistress the prudent advice,
' Mtthrin saqla.'


like pearls, and went into the bed, and the girl took the youth
to her bosom, and the youth took the girl in his arms, and thus
were they lip to lip and breast to breast, as though the two of
them were but one soul. Now the girl would suck, like the
parrot, the sugared sherbet of the youth's lips, and now the
youth would drink, like Khizr, the water of life from the girl's.
All that night till dawn the girl cooled her liver, burnt by her
longing for the youth, with the water of union.* When morning
was near they slept a little, and straightway the nurse came in and
gave the youth the drug, and carried him back again tQ his own
place. When the youth awoke he found himself in his own
place, and he knew not whether what he had seen were a dream.
And the king's daughter in a little while regained her health."

The Lady's Eighteenth Story.

" They have told that in bygone times there was a king, and
he had a skilful minstrel. One day a certain person gave to the
latter a little boy that he might teach him the science of music.
The boy abode a long time by him, and, though the master
instructed him, he succeeded not in learning; and the master
could make nothing of him. He arranged a scale and said,
' Whatsoever thou sayest to me, say in this scale.' So whatsoever
the boy said, he used to say in that scale; and the master likewise
answered him in that scale. Now one day a spark of fire fell on
the master's turban. The boy saw it and chanted, ' O master,
I see something, shall I say it or net?' and he went over the
whole scale. Then the master chanted, ' O boy, what dost thou
see, speak ? ' and he too went over all that the boy had gone
over. Then the turn came to the boy, and he chanted, ' O
master, a spark has fallen on thy turban and it is burning.' The
master straightway tore off his turban and cast it on the ground,
and saw that it was burning. He blew out the fire on this side
and that, and took it in his hand, and said to the boy, ' What
time for chanting is this ! everything is good in its own place ;'
and he admonished him."

* As with the Elizabethan poets, the liver was supposed to be the
seat of passion.


The Lady's First Story.

" They have told that there was in the palace of the world a
great king, and that king had a son who was feeble of under-
standing. Now the king found a cunning master who was learned
in all the sciences, and he caused him to be brought before him,
and, telling him of his son's case, asked of him a remedy for the
evil. The sage said, ' O king, this is an easy matter ; in a little
time will I make him a master of discretion.' The king was
glad, and bestowed gifts and favours on the sage, and made over
to him his son. Now the sage taught him for a season, and in-
structed him in knowledge ; and he made the boy familiar with
every science. And the boy grew learned and accomplished,
so that all the world marvelled at his words. One day his
master took him, and brought him before the king, and said,
' O king of the world, lo, I have made thy son to excel in every
science.' And the king his father was glad and said, ' O my
son, were I to hold a certain thing hidden in my hand, couldst
thou guess what it was ? ' He replied, ' Yea, I could.' Then
the king secretly took his ring from his finger, and held it in his
hand, and said, ' What is it that I have in my hand ? ' The boy
thought for a little while, then said, ' O father, that thing in its
first estate was in the hills.' The king said in his heart, ' Aye,
he knows ; the mines are in the hills.' The boy continued, ' It
is a round flat thing. It must be a mill-stone.' Then was the
king ashamed before the nobles and the lords, and he said, ' O
son, could a mill-stone be hidden in any man's hand ? ' And
saying to the master, ' Take him away and teach him,' he sent
him off."

The Second Vezir's Story.
" One day the Apostle (peace on him !) was seated in the
mosque, expounding the chapter, 'Verily, We have sent it down,'*
when he came to the story of the Messenger Samson. Quoth

* Koran, xcvii. i. Samson is never mentioned in the Koran.


the Apostle (peace on him !), ' They say that Samson was a
Messenger who warred for a thousand months in the cause of
God Most High. He had his dwelling in a high hill ; and in
the daytime he would come down from the hill and war, and
when it was evening he would return to the hill and sleep
beside his wife. The misbelievers were powerless against
Samson ; and they agreed among themselves, saying, " Let us
give money to his wife, that she may bind him and deliver him
to us." So they took a dish filled with gold, and went to his
wife, and said, " Bind thy husband with this rope, and deliver
him to us, and this dish with the gold therein shall be thine."
When the woman saw so much money, she coveted it, and said,
" So be it ; " and she took the rope. Samson came back from
fighting ; and he was weary, and he lay down and slept. And
the woman came and bound fast his hands with that rope ; and
she said in herself, " This man is a Messenger, belike he may
break this rope : " and, wishing to try if it were so, she wakened
Samson. He, seeing that his hands were bound, said, " Who
bound my hands ? " His wife answered, " I bound them ; but
what matter ? thou art a Messenger, pull and break the rope."
So Samson put forth his strength, and strained and strained,
and the rope brake ; and he lay down again and slept. And
the woman went and said to the misbelievers, " He has broken
the rope." So they gave her chains, and again she bound him
and wakened him to try him. Samson saw that his hands were
bound again, and he said, " Who has bound me ? " She replied,
" I bound thee to try thee." Samson again put forth his strength,
and the chains were broken in pieces. And the woman was
amazed, and said, " O Prophet of God, with what must one bind
thee ? " Samson answered, " Nought but thy hair can avail."
Now the woman had two tresses of hair ; these she cut off and
bound round his hands, and then wakened him again. Samson
saw that his hands were bound, and he said, " Who has bound
me again ? " The woman answered, " She who has ever bound
thee has bound thee ; pull, strain." Then she let these mis-
believers, who were lying hidden, know ; and they came forth
and seized Samson and bare him to their city. And they



cut off his two hands and his two feet, and left him in a certain
place, and went away. And Samson (peace on him !) said,
" My God, give me again my hands and my feet, that I may war
in Thy cause." Then Gabriel (peace on him !) came and touched
him with his wing, and Samson was made whole again. The
palace of their king was supported by a single column ; and
that palace was filled full of misbelievers. And Samson went
and pulled down that column, and the palace fell to the ground,
and as many misbelievers as were therein were killed. And
Samson began again to war, and he ceased not from warring
until that he was martyred.' Then did the Companions of the
Prophet (peace on him !) envy the Messenger Samson his war-
ring for a thousand months ; so God (glorified and exalted be
He !) sent down this verse, 'The Night of Power is better than
a thousand months ; ' * that is to say, that the merit of doing
worship all the Night of Power until the dawn is greater than
that of warring for a thousand months.''

The Lady's Third Story.
" They have told that there was once a witch, and she had a
little boy. One day, while the witch was working witchery, her
little boy was playing beside her in a river. The water caught
the boy and swept him into a hole. When the witch saw her
boy in this plight, she threw herself after him into the river.
The stream swept her likewise into that hole ; so that they both
perished." f

The Seventh Vezir's Story.
" They have told that there was in the city of Cairo a crafty
woman. One day she made a broidered gown into a bundle and

* Koran, xcvii. 3. The ' Night of Power ' is the most excellent night
in all the year ; on it the divine decrees for the ensuing twelvemonth
are issued to the executive angels ; but unfortunately there is some
doubt as to when it really falls ; it is, however, generally believed to be
one of the nights towards the close of Ramazan.

■f This somewhat feeble tale, which is designed to sliow how a too
fond parent may lose his life through the frowardness of his son, is one
of the very few stories belonging to the Sindibad cycle that occur in the
Forty VeEirs. See Mr. Clouston's Book of Sindibad, pp. 37 and 144.


gave it into the hands of one of her slave-girls, whom she made
follow her to the bazaar, where she got into the shop of a mer-
chant, and there seated herself. The merchant said, ' My lady,
what is thy need ? ' Then the lady took the gown and laid it
before the merchant, and when the merchant had opened the
bundle and seen the gown, she said, ' Let this gown remain with
thee in pledge, and do thou give me such and such a sum, and
when our matters are arranged I shall bring back the money and
get away the gown.' The merchant turned not from the words
of the woman, neither could he withstand her fashions, so he
straightway gave her such and such a sum, and, taking the
gown, laid it by. The woman took the money and went away,
but after a little she came back and said, ' Give me the gown
and take the money, that there be no trouble to thee.' So the
merchant gave her the bundle with the gown, and took the
money and laid it by him. The woman took the gown and went
to a place apart ; there she took that gown out of the bundle
and put in its place another gown not worth an aspre. Then she
tied up her bundle and went again before the merchant and said,
' O merchant, we have troubled thee much ; the money has
again become needful ; pray, give it ; here is the gown.' And
she laid the bundle before the merchant, who took it without
opening or looking at it, and gave the woman the money. And
the woman took the money and went to her house, and she
made meny, feasting. On his part the merchant saw that
one month passed, that two months passed, and yet the lady
came not ; and disquiet increased within him, and he spake of
this matter to one of his friends. That man said, ' Fetch the
gown and let me see it.' When they opened the bundle they
saw that the gown was not worth an aspre, and the merchant
perceived, that the woman was a trickstress. And he arose and
went before]] the governor and told all that had befallen him.
The governor said, ' That woman has played a trick on thee ;
but this is the city of Cairo, and here tricks are many. Now I
too will teach thee a trick ; and if she be not found by this trick,
then is there no help.' ' Grace, my lord,' quoth the merchant,
clasping the knees of the governor. The latter said, ' Go to-

C C 2


night and carry to thy house whatever thou hast in thy shop,
and tear up some of the boards about thy shop ; and early on
the morrow go to thy shop, and begin to cry and lament, saying,
" Last night have they broken into my shop and taken away
whatever was therein ; that vexed me not, but there was in
my shop a costly gown belonging to a lady, that too have they
taken, and now if the lady come and bring the money and ask
her gown, how shall I answer her ? "' So the merchant went and
did this. And it was noised abroad in the city of Cairo that they
had that night broken into the shop of such and such a merchant
and stolen all his goods, but that he was not grieved because of
his own property, but because of a costly gown he had in pledge
that belonged to a lady, which also they had taken and gone off.
' God give them their due ! ' said the folk. That lady heard
this news, and she was glad, and she took the sum she had
received from the merchant, and said to her handmaids, ' Get
ready, let us go to the merchant, and give him the money, and ask
back the gown. If he say, "The gown has been stolen, I will give
its value," we shall say the gown was worth ten times a hundred
thousand aspres ; and we shall get at least four or five hundred
thousand aspres.' So they went straight to that merchant, and
she saluted him, and beckoned to her slave-girls, and one of
them produced the money and laid it before the merchant. The
lady said, ' O merchant, see, I have brought the money ; give
me my gown.' The merchant answered, ' I have let the gown
be stolen ; what am I to do ? ' Quoth the woman, ' I know
nought of that ; I want the gown.' Then the merchants and
neighbours came about them and said, ' O lady, the gown has
been lost ; name its value : take a portion of it and remit a
portion of it.' The lady answered, 'O merchants, ye saw not
the gown ; I bought that gown, and I gave for it not less than
ten times a hundred thousand aspres ; think on that, and judge ;
let him give the gown, or let him give its price.' When the
merchants had besought her, the lady said, ' One hundred
thousand of them, two hundred thousand of them, yea, five
hundred thousand of them have I forgiven him for your sakes ;
let him give the rest.' Then they arose and went before the


governor of the city ; and the merchant said, ' My lord, this
woman came and left a gown with me in pledge, and got such
and such a sum, and went away. For some months she came
not. Now have they plundered my shop, and the gown has
been lost with my own possessions. No lie can be spoken in
thy noble presence. Order and command are thine.' Then
the woman began to cry out, ' I want my gown or its worth in
money.' The governor said, ' O lady, look at this poor wretch ;
this is a case for ruth.' And he made a sign to the merchant,
who went out and fetched the gown, and came back, saying,
' Good news, my lord ; I have found the gown ; ' and he laid
it before the governor. The latter opened the bundle, and
seeing that the gown was worth nothing, exclaimed, ' Out on
thee, whore of the age, thou settest the city of Cairo in an
uproar ! ' And he straightway commanded that they stripped
the woman, and tied a stone about her neck ; and he sent her
to turn fish in the river Nile."

The L.4Dy's Seventh Story.

" They have told that there was in the palace of the world a
king, and he had by him a master carpenter, who was such a
master that there was not his equal in the world. He had an
unworthy apprentice, who one day went before the king and
said, ' I am greater than my master ; it were beseeming the
king that he honour me as he honours him.' Then the king
called the master and the apprentice together into his presence
to prove them. The master said, ' O king, I have a plan ; let
each of us take a piece of wood and go into a dark place ; and
the skill of whichever of us cut the wood will then be known.'
They agreed thereto. So the master took an adze and a piece
of wood, and went into that dark place. And he struck, and he
struck again, and he struck yet again, and then he came out,
and all the folk saw (what he had done) and applauded and
commended him. Then the apprentice struck, but at his second
stroke he cut all his fingers ; and so was he put to shame before
the king and the people."


The Ninth Vezir's Story.

" They have told that Kay-Qubad* had a devout and pious
wife, who was so modest that she could not endure the mention
of men, but ever spake of their uncleanness. The king was
an-angered by her words, and he sought to make trial of her.
Now the king had a fair young slave-boy who was exceeding
ready at service. One day the king gave this boy to his wife.
Now he had said to the boy, ' If, when alone with this lady, thou
canst lead her astray by sweet and witty speeches, I will give
thee whatsoever thou mayst desire.' So the boy served for some
days 'before the lady, till one day he said some witty thing.
The woman said nothing. Some days afterward the boy again
made a jest. When the lady smiled at these words of the boy,
he knew that love had entered into her heart. One day he
pressed the lady's hand and laid his own upon her arm. The
woman said, ' Out on thee, boy, dost thou really love me ? '
The boy answered, ' Dost thou doubt it ? I await thy bidding
with heart and soul.' The lady said, ' Be it not that thou tell
this secret to anyone ; if thou lovest me, I love thee a thousand
times more.' Whenever the boy heard these words of the lady,
he let go her arm and embraced her neck and began to kiss
her ; and the lady likewise began to kiss him. Then they
parted, and the boy ran and told these secrets to the king. The
king said, ' It is not true ; I believe it not.' The boy answered,
' I will show thee this thing before thine own eyes.' The king
asked, ' If it be so, what is thy plan ? ' The boy replied, ' I
shall now hide thee in the closet, and thou shalt see with thine
eyes and believe.' So he hid the king in the closet. And the
lady came again and embraced the boy, and while they were
kissing and clipping, the king came forth from the closet, and
said, ' Out on thee, modest whore ! ' And the woman was put
to shame."

* The first sovereign of the KayanI (Achaemeiiian) dynasty, the
second line of pre-Muhammedan Persian kings. The Dejoces of Greek
writers is thought to represent this prince.


The Lady's Ninth Story.

" They have told that a rogue went to the Ka'ba,* and as he
was going about among the pilgrims, he said in himself, ' How
may I show off my roguery in this place?' Just then he came
before the Zemzem well,t and he saw that some of the pilgrims
were drinking of it, and some were making the ablution at it.
As soon as the rogue saw this, he tucked up his skirt and ran
forward, crying, ' Ho, men, a camel polluted this well to-night ;
the ablution cannot be made at this well.' % So the pilgrims
drew back their hands from the well ; and the rogue said
in himself, ' I have accomplished my affair ; ' and he went

The Thirteenth Vezir's Story.

" It has come down in the Commentaries that when God
Most High said, (as it is written in His Ancient Word,) ' Ye
cannot attain to righteousnsss until ye give away of what ye
love ; ' § the Messenger Abraham heard this saying, and sacri-
ficed to God very many camels and sheep. But God Most

Online LibraryMunshī Shaikh SardārThe history of the forty vezirs / or, The story of the forty morns and eves → online text (page 23 of 29)