[Go back to Kamar Al-Zaman and the Jeweller's Wife]
The Caliph Harun al-Rashid was one day examining the tributes of his various provinces and viceroyalties, when he observed that the contributions of all the countries and regions had come into the treasury, except that of Bassorah which had not arrived that year. So he held a Divan because of this and said, "Hither to me with the Wazir Ja'afar;" and when they brought him into the presence he thus bespoke him, "The tributes of all the provinces have come into the treasury, save that of Bassorah, no part whereof hath arrived." Ja'afar replied, "O Commander of the Faithful, belike there hath befallen the governor of Bassorah something that hath diverted him from sending the tribute." Quoth the Caliph, "The time of the coming of the tribute was twenty days ago; what then, can be his excuse for that, in this time, he hath neither sent it nor sent to show cause for not doing so?" And quoth the Minister, "O Commander of the Faithful, if it please thee, we will send him a messenger. Rejoined the Caliph, "Send him Abu Ishak al-Mausili, the boon companion," and Ja'afar, "Hearkening and obedience to Allah and to thee, O Prince of True Believers!" Then he returned to his house and summoning Abu Ishak, wrote him a royal writ and said to him, Go to Abdullah bin Fazil, Viceroy of Bassorah, and see what hath diverted him from sending the tribute. If it be ready, do thou receive it from him in full and bring it to me in haste, for the Caliph hath examined the tributes of the provinces and findeth that they are all come in, except that of Bassorah: but an thou see that it is not ready and he make an excuse to thee, bring him back with thee, that he may report his excuse to the Caliph with his own tongue." Answered Abu Ishak, "I hear and I obey;" and taking with him five thousand horse of Ja'afar's host set out for Bassorah. Now when Abdullah bin Fazil heard of his approach, he went out to meet him with his troops, and led him into the city and carried him to his palace, whilst the escort encamped without the city walls, where he appointed to them all whereof they stood in need. So Abu Ishak entered the audience-chamber and sitting down on the throne, seated the governor beside himself, whilst the notables sat round him, according to their several degrees. After salutation with the salam Abdullah bin Fazil said to him "O my lord, is there for thy coming to us any cause?;" and said Abu Ishak, "Yes, I come to seek the tribute; for the Caliph enquireth of it and the time of its coming is gone by." Rejoined Abdullah bin Fazil, "O my lord, would Heaven thou hadst not wearied thyself nor taken upon thyself the hardships of the journey! For the tribute is ready in full tale and complete, and I purpose to despatch it to-morrow. But, since thou art come, I will entrust it to thee, after I have entertained thee three days; and on the fourth day I will set the tribute between thine hands. But it behoveth us now to offer thee a present in part requital of thy kindness and the goodness of the Commander of the Faithful." "There is no harm in that," said Abu Ishak. So Abdullah bin Fazil dismissed the Divan and carrying him into a saloon that had not its match, bade set a tray of food before him and his companions. They ate and drank and made merry and enjoyed themselves; after which the tray was removed and there came coffee and sherbets. They sat conversing till a third part of the night was past, when they spread for Abu Ishak bedding on an ivory couch inlaid with gold glittering sheeny. So he lay down and the viceroy lay down beside him on another couch; but wakefulness possessed Abu Ishak and he fell to meditating on the metres of prosody and poetical composition, for that he was one of the primest of the Caliph's boon-companions and he had a mighty fine fore-arm in producing verses and pleasant stories; nor did he leave to lie awake improvising poetry till half the night was past. Presently, behold, Abdullah bin Fazil arose, and girding his middle, opened a locker, whence he brought out a whip; then, taking a lighted waxen taper, he went forth by the door of the saloon.-- And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Seventy-ninth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Abdullah bin Fazil went forth by the door of the saloon deeming Abu Ishak asleep, the Caliph's cup-companion, seeing this, marvelled and said in himself, "Whither wendeth Abdullah bin Fazil with that whip? Perhaps he is minded to punish some body. But needs must I follow him and see what he will do this night." So he arose and went out after him softly, very softly, that he might not be seen and presently saw him open a closet and take thence a tray containing four dishes of meat and bread and a gugglet of water. Then he went on, carrying the tray and secretly followed by Abu Ishak, till he came to another saloon and entered, whilst the cup-companion stood behind the door and, looking through the chink, saw a spacious saloon, furnished with the richest furniture and having in its midst a couch of ivory plated with gold glittering sheeny, to which two dogs were made fast with chains of gold. Then Abdullah set down the tray in a comer and tucking up his sleeves, loosed the first dog, which began to struggle in his hands and put its muzzle to the floor, as it would kiss the ground before him, whining the while in a weak voice. Abdullah tied its paws behind its back and throwing it on the ground, drew forth the whip and beat it with a painful beating and a pitiless. The dog struggled, but could not get free, and Abdullah ceased not to beat it with the same whip till it left groaning and lay without consciousness. Then he took it and tied it up in its place, and unbinding the second dog, did with him as he had done with the first; after which he pulled out a kerchief and fell to wiping away their tears and comforting them, saying, "Bear me not malice; for by Allah, this is not of my will, nor is it easy to me! But it may be Allah will grant you relief from this strait and issue from your affliction." And he prayed for the twain what while Abu Ishak the cup-companion stood hearkening with his ears and espying with his eyes, and indeed he marvelled at his case. Then Abdullah brought the dogs the tray of food and fell to morselling them with his own hand, till they had enough, when he wiped their muzzles and lifting up the gugglet, gave them to drink; after which he took up the tray, gugglet and candle and made for the door. But Abu Ishak forewent him and making his way back to his couch, lay down; so that he saw him not; neither knew that he had walked behind him and watched him. Then the governor replaced the tray and the gugglet in the closet and returning to the saloon, opened the locker and laid the whip in its place; after which he doffed his clothes and lay down. But Abu Ishak passed the rest of that night pondering this affair neither did sleep visit him for excess of wonderment, and he ceased not to say in himself, "I wonder what can be the meaning of this!" Nor did he leave wondering till day break, when they arose and prayed the dawn-prayer. Then they set the breakfast before them and they ate and drank coffee, after which they went out to the divan. Now Abu Ishak's thought was occupied with this mystery all day long but he concealed the matter and questioned not Abdullah thereof. Next night, he again followed the governor and saw him do with the two dogs as on the previous night, first beating them and then making his peace with them and giving them to eat and to drink; and so also he did the third night. On the fourth day he brought the tribute to Abu Ishak who took it and departed, without opening the matter to him. He fared on, without ceasing, till he came to Baghdad, where he delivered the tribute to the Caliph, who questioned him of the cause of its delay. Replied he, "O Commander of the Faithful, I found that the governor of Bassorah had made ready the tribute and was about to despatch it; and I delayed a day, it would have met me on the road. But, O Prince of True Believers, I had a wondrous adventure with Abdullah bin Fazil; never in my life saw I its like." "And what was it, O Abu Ishak?" asked the Caliph. So he replied, "I saw such and such;" and, brief, acquainted him with that which the governor had done with the two dogs, adding, "After such fashion, I saw him do three successive nights, first beating the dogs, then making his peace with them and comforting them and giving them to eat and drink, I watching him, and he seeing me not." Asked the Caliph, "Didst thou question him of the cause of this?"; and the other answered, "No, as thy head liveth, O Commander of the Faithful." Then said Al-Rashid, "O Abu Ishak, I command thee to return to Bassorah and bring me Abdullah bin Fazil and the two dogs." Quoth he, "O Commander of the Faithful, excuse me from this; for indeed Abdullah entertained me with exceedingly hospitable entertainment and I became ware of this case with chance undesigned and acquainted thee therewith. So how can I go back to him and bring him to thee? Verily, if I return to him, I shall find me no face for shame of him; wherefore 'twere meet that thou send him another than myself, with a letter under thine own hand, and he shall bring him to thee, him and the two dogs." But quoth the Caliph, "If I send him other than thyself, peradventure he will deny the whole affair and say, 'I've no dogs.' But if I send thee and thou say to him, 'I saw them with mine own eyes,' he will not be able to deny that. Wherefore nothing will serve but that thou go and fetch him and the two dogs; otherwise I will surely slay thee."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Eightieth Night,
She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Caliph Harun al-Rashid said to Abu Ishak, "Nothing will serve but that thou go and fetch him and the two dogs; otherwise I will surely slay thee." Abu Ishak replied, "Hearing and obeying, O Commander of the Faithful: Allah is our aidance and good is the Agent. He spake sooth who said, 'Man's wrong is from the tongue;' and 'tis I who sinned against myself in telling thee. But write me a royal rescript and I will go to him and bring him back to thee." So the Caliph gave him an autograph and he took it and repaired to Bassorah. Seeing him come in the governor said, "Allah forfend us from the mischief of thy return, O Abu Ishak! How cometh it I see thee return in haste? Peradventure the tribute is deficient and the Caliph will not accept it?" Answered Abu Ishak, "O Emir Abdullah, my return is not on account of the deficiency of the tribute, for 'tis full measure and the Caliph accepteth it; but I hope that thou wilt excuse me, for that I have failed in my duty as thy guest and indeed this lapse of mine was decreed of Allah Almighty." Abdullah enquired, "And what may be the lapse?" and he replied, "Know that when I was with thee, I followed thee three following nights and saw thee rise at midnight and beat the dogs and return; whereat I marvelled, but was ashamed to question thee thereof. When I came back to Baghdad, I told the Caliph of thine affair, casually and without design, whereupon he charged me to return to thee, and here is a letter under his hand. Had I known that the affair would lead to this, I had not told him, but Destiny foreordained thus." And he went on to excuse himself to him; whereupon said Abdullah, "Since thou hast told him this, I will bear out thy report with him, lest he deem thee a liar, for thou art my friend. Were it other than thou, I had denied the affair and given him the lie. But now I will go with thee and carry the two dogs with me, though this be to me ruin-rife and the ending of my term of life." Rejoined the other, "Allah will veil thee, even as thou hast veiled my face with the Caliph!" Then Abdullah took a present beseeming the Commander of the Faithful and mounting the dogs with him, each on a camel, bound with chains of gold, journeyed with Abu Ishak to Baghdad, where he went in to the Caliph and kissed ground before him. He deigned bid him sit; so he sat down and brought the two dogs before Al-Rashid, who said to him "What be these dogs, O Emir Abdullah?" Whereupon they fell to kissing the floor between his hands and wagging their tails and weeping, as if complaining to him. The Caliph marvelled at this and said to the governor, "Tell me the history of these two dogs and the reason of thy beating them and after entreating them with honour." He replied, "O Vicar of Allah, these be no dogs, but two young men, endowed with beauty and seemliness, symmetry and shapeliness, and they are my brothers and the sons of my father and mother." Asked the Caliph "How is it that they were men and are become dogs?"; and he answered, "An thou give me leave, O Prince of True Believers, I will acquaint thee with the truth of the circumstance." Said Al-Rashid, "Tell me and 'ware of leasing, for 'tis of the fashion of the hypocrites, and look thou tell truth, for that is the Ark of safety and the mark of virtuous men." Rejoined Abdullah, "Know then, O vice-regent of Allah, when I tell thee the story of these dogs, they will both bear witness against me: an I speak sooth they will certify it and if I lie they will give me the lie." Cried the Caliph, "These are of the dogs; they cannot speak nor answer; so how can they testify for thee or against thee?" But Abdullah said to them, "O my brothers, if I speak a lying word, do ye lift your heads and stare with your eyes; but, if I say sooth hang down your heads and lower your eyes." Then said he to the Caliph, "Know, O Commander of the Faithful, that we are three brothers by one mother and the same father. Our sire's name was Fazil and he was so named because his mother bare two sons at one birth, one of whom died forthright and the other twin remained alive, wherefore his sire named him Fazil--the Remainder. His father brought him up and reared him well, till he grew to manhood when he married him to our mother and died. Our mother conceived a first time and bare this my first brother, whom our sire named Mansur; then she conceived again and bare this my second brother, whom he named Nasir; after which she conceived a third time and bare me, whom he named Abdullah. My father reared us all three till we came to man's estate, when he died, leaving us a house and a shop full of coloured stuffs of all kinds, Indian and Greek and Khorasani and what not, besides sixty thousand dinars. We washed him and buried him to the ruth of his Lord, after which we built him a splendid monument and let pray for him prayers for the deliverance of his soul from the fire and held perlections of the Koran and gave alms on his behalf, till the forty days were past; when I called together the merchants and nobles of the folk and made them a sumptuous entertainment. As soon as they had eaten, I said to them, 'O merchants, verily this world is ephemeral, but the next world is eternal, and extolled be the perfection of Him who endureth always after His creatures have passed away! Know ye why I have called you together this blessed day?' And they answered, 'Extolled be Allah sole Scient of the hidden things.' Quoth I, 'My father died, leaving much of money, and I fear lest any have a claim against him for a debt or a pledge or what not else, and I desire to discharge my father's obligations towards the folk. So whoso hath any demand on him, let him say, 'He oweth me so and so,' and I will satisfy it to him, that I may acquit the responsibility of my sire.' The merchants replied, 'O Abdullah, verily the goods of this world stand not in stead of those of the world to come, and we are no fraudful folk, but all of us know the lawful from the unlawful and fear Almighty Allah and abstain from devouring the substance of the orphan. We know that thy father (Allah have mercy on him!) still let his money lie with the folk, nor did he suffer any man's claim on him to go unquitted, and we have ever heard him declare, 'I am fearful of the people's substance.' He used always to say in his prayers, 'O my God, Thou art my stay and my hope! Let me not die while in debt.' And it was of his wont that, if he owed any one aught, he would pay it to him, without being pressed, and if any owed him aught he would not dun him, but would say to him, 'At thy leisure.' If his debtor were poor, he would release him from his liability and acquit him of responsibility; and if he were not poor and died in his debt, he would say, 'Allah forgive him what he owed me!' And we all testify that he owed no man aught.' Quoth I, 'May Allah bless you!' Then I turned to these my brothers and said, 'Our father owed no man aught and hath left us much money and stuffs, besides the house and the shop. Now we are three and each of us is entitled to one third part. So shall we agree to waive division and wone copartners in our wealth and eat together and drink together, or shall we apportion the stuffs and the money and take each his part?' Said they, 'We will divide them and take each his share.'" (Then Abdullah turned to the two dogs and said to them, "Did it happen thus, O my brothers?". and they bowed their heads and lowered their eyes, as to say, "Yes.") Abdullah continued "I called in a departitor from the Kazi's court, O Prince of True Believers, and he distributed amongst us the money and the stuffs and all our father had left, allotting the house and shop to me in exchange for a part of the coin and clothes to which I was entitled. We were content with this; so the house and shop fell to my share, whilst my brothers took their portion in money and stuffs. I opened the shop and stocking it with my stuffs bought others with the money apportioned to me, over and above the house and shop, till the place was full, and I sat selling and buying. As for my brothers, they purchased stuffs and hiring a ship, set out on a voyage to the far abodes of folk. Quoth I, 'Allah aid them both! As for me, my livelihood is ready to my hand and peace is priceless.' I abode thus a whole year, during which time Allah opened the door of fortune to me and I gained great gains, till I became possessed of the like of that which our father had left us. One day, as I sat in my shop, with two fur pelisses on me, one of sable and the other of meniver, for it was the season of winter and the time of the excessive cold, behold, there came up to me my two brothers, each clad in a ragged shirt and nothing more, and their lips were white with cold, and they were shivering. When I saw them in this plight, it was grievous to me and I mourned for them,"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Eighty-first Night,
She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Abdullah bin Fazil continued to the Caliph, "When I saw them in this plight, it was grievous to me and I mourned for them and my reason fled my head. So I rose and embraced them and wept over their condition: then I put on one of them the pelisse of sable and on the other the fur coat of meniver and, carrying them to the Hammam, sent thither for each of them a suit of apparel such as befitted a merchant worth a thousand. When they had washed and donned each his suit, I carried them to my house where, seeing them well nigh famished, I set a tray of food before them and ate with them, caressing them and comforting them." (Then he again turned to the two dogs and said to them "Was this so, O my brothers?"; and they bent their heads and lowered their eyes.) So Abdullah continued "When they had eaten, O Vicar of Allah, quoth I to them, 'What hath befallen you and where are your goods?'; and quoth they, 'We fared up the river, till we came to a city called Cufa, where we sold for ten dinars the piece of stuff that had cost half a ducat and that which cost us a ducat for twenty. So we profited greatly and bought Persian stuffs at the rate of ten sequins per piece of silk worth forty in Bassorah. Thence we removed to a city called Al-Karkh where we sold and bought and made gain galore and amassed of wealth great store.' And they went on to set forth to me the places and the profits. So I said to them, 'Since ye had such good luck and lot, how cometh it that I see you return naked?' They sighed and answered, 'O our brother, some one must have evileyed us, and in travel there is no trusting. When we had gotten together these monies and goods, we freighted a ship therewith and set sail, intending for Bassorah. We fared on three days and on the fourth day we saw the sea rise and fall and roar and foam and swell and dash, whilst the waves clashed together with a crash, striking out sparks like fire in the darks. The winds blew contrary for us and our craft struck upon the point of a bill-projected rock, where it brake up and plunged us into the river, and all we had with us was lost in the waters. We abode struggling on the surface a day and a night, till Allah sent us another ship, whose crew picked us up and we begged our way from town to town, suffering mighty sore hardships and selling our body-clothes piecemeal, to buy us food, till we drew near Bassorah; nor did we make the city till we had drained the draught of a thousand miseries. But, had we come safely off with that which was by us, we had brought back riches that might be even with those of the King: but this was fore ordained to us of Allah.' I said, 'O my brothers, let not your hearts be grieved, for wealth is the ransom of bodies and safety is property. Since Allah hath written you of the saved, this is the end of desire, for want and wealth are but as it were illusions of dreams and God-gifted is he who said,
'If a man from destruction can save his head * Let him hold his wealth as a slice of nail.'
I continued, 'O my brothers we will suppose that our sire died to-day and left us all this wealth that is with me, for I am right willing to share it with you equally.' So I fetched a departitor from the Kazi's court and brought out to him all my money, which he distributed into three equal parts, and we each took one. Then said I to them, 'O my brothers, Allah blesseth a man in his daily bread, if he be in his own country: so let each of you open him a shop and sit therein to get his living; and he to whom aught is ordained in the Secret Purpose, needs must he get it.' Accordingly, I helped each of them to open a shop and filled it for him with goods, saying to them, 'Sell and buy and keep your monies and spend naught thereof; for all ye need of meat and drink and so forth I will furnish to you.' I continued to entreat them generously, and they fell to selling and buying by day and returning at even-tide to my house where they lay the night; nor would I suffer them to expend aught of their own substance. But, whenever I sat talking with them, they would praise travel and proclaim its pleasures and vaunt the gains they had made therein; and they ceased not to urge me to accompany them in travelling over foreign parts." (Then he said to the dogs, "Was this so, O my brothers?" and they again bowed their heads and lowered their eyes in confirmation of his words.) He continued, "On such wise, O Vicar of Allah, they continued to urge me and tempt me to travel by vaunting the great gains and profit to be obtained thereby till I said to them, 'Needs must I fare with you for your sake!' Then I entered into a contract of partnership with them and we chartered a ship and packing up all manner of precious stuffs and merchandise of every kind, freighted it therewith; after which we embarked in it all we needed and, setting sail from Bassorah, launched out into the dashing sea, swollen with clashing surge whereinto whoso entereth is lone and lorn and whence whoso cometh forth is as a babe new- born. We ceased not sailing on till we came to a city of the cities, where we sold and bought and made great cheape. Thence we went on to another place, and we ceased not to pass from land to land and port to port, selling and buying and profiting, till we had gotten us great wealth and much advantage. Presently, we came to a mountain, where the captain cast anchor and said to us, 'O passengers; go ye ashore; ye shall be saved from this day, and make search; it may be ye shall find water.' So all landed I amongst the crowd, and dispersed about the island in search of water. As for me, I climbed to the top of the mountain, and whilst I went along, lo and behold! I saw a white snake fleeing and followed by a black dragon, foul of favour and frightful of form, hotly pursuing her. Presently he overtook her and clipping her, seized her by the head and wound his tail about her tail, whereupon she cried out and I knew that he purposed to rape her. So I was moved to ruth for her and taking up a lump of granite, five pounds or more in weight, hurled it at the dragon. It smote him on the head and crushed it, and ere I knew, the white snake changed and became a young girl bright with beauty and loveliness and brilliancy and perfect grace, as she were the shining full moon, who came up to me and kissing my hands, said to me, 'Allah veil thee with two-fold veils, one from shame in this world and the other from the flame in the world to come on the day of the Great Upstanding, the day when neither wealth nor children shall avail save to him who shall come to Allah with a sound heart!' And presently she continued, 'O mortal, thou hast saved my honour and I am indebted to thee for kindness, wherefore it behoveth me to requite thee.' So saying, she signed with her hand to the earth, which opened and she descended thereinto: then it closed up again over her and by this I knew that she was of the Jinn. As for the dragon, fire was kindled in him and consumed him and he became ashes. I marvelled at this and returned to my comrades, whom I acquainted with whatso I had seen, and we passed the night in the island. On the morrow the Captain weighed anchor and spread the sails and coiled the ropes and we sailed till the shore faded from our gaze. We fared on twenty days, without seeing or land or bird, till our water came to an end and quoth the Rais to us, 'O folk, our fresh water is spent.' Quoth we, 'Let us make for land; haply we shall find water.' But he exclaimed, 'By Allah, I have lost my way and I know not what course will bring me to the seaboard.' Thereupon betided us sore chagrin and we wept and besought Almighty Allah to guide us into the right course. We passed that night in the sorriest case: but God-gifted is He who said,
'How many a night have I spent in woes * That would grizzle the suckling-babe with fear:
But morrowed not morn ere to me there came * 'Aidance from Allah and victory near.'
But when the day arose in its sheen and shone, we caught sight of a high mountain and rejoiced therein. When we came to its skirts, the Captain said to us, 'O folk, go ashore and seek for water.' So we all landed and sought water but found none, whereat we were sore afflicted because we were suffering for want of it. As for me, I climbed up to the mountain-top and on the other side thereof I saw a spacious circle distant from us an hour's journey or more. Presently I called my companions and as soon as they all rejoined me, said to them 'Look at yonder basin behind this mountain; for I see therein a city high of base and a strong-cornered place girt with sconce and rampartry, pasturage and lea and doubtless it wanteth not water and good things. So hie we thither and fetch drink therefrom and buy what we need of provisions, meat and fruit, and return.' But they said, 'We fear lest the city-folk be Kafirs ascribing to Allah partners and enemies of The Faith and lay hand on us and take us captive or else slay us; so should we cause the loss of our own lives, having cast ourselves into destruction and evil emprise. Indeed, the proud and presumptuous are never praiseworthy, for that they ever fare in danger of calamities, even as saith of such an one a certain poet,
'Long as earth is earth, long as sky is sky, * The o'erproud is blamed tho' from risk he fly!'
So we will not expose ourselves to peril.' I replied, 'O folk, I have no authority over you; so I will take my brothers and go to yonder city.' But my brothers said to me, 'We also fear this thing and will not go with thee.' Quoth I, 'As for me, I am resolved to go thither, and I put my trust in Allah and accept whatsoever He shall decree to me. Do ye therefore await me, whilst I wend thither and return to you twain.'"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Eighty-second Night,
She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Abdullah said, "'Do ye twain await me whilst I wend thither and return to you.'"--"So I left them and walked on till I came to the gate of the place and saw it a city of building wondrous and projection marvellous, with boulevards high-towering and towers strong- builded and palaces high-soaring. Its portals were of Chinese iron, rarely gilded and graven on such wise as confounded the wit. I entered the gateway and saw there a stone bench, whereon sat a man bearing on his forearm a chain of brass, whereto hung fourteen keys; so I knew him to be the porter of the city and that it had fourteen gates. I drew near him and said to him 'Peace be with thee!'; but he returned not my salam and I saluted him a second and a third time; but he made me no reply. Then I laid my hand on his shoulder and said to him, 'Ho thou, why dost thou not return my salam? Art thou asleep or deaf or other than a Moslem, that thou refrainest from exchanging the salutation?' But he answered me not neither stirred; so I considered him and saw that he was stone. Quoth I, 'Verily an admirable matter! This is a stone wroughten in the semblance of a son of Adam and wanting in naught save speech!' Then I left him and entering the city, beheld a man standing in the road; so I went up to him and scrutinised him and found him stone. Presently, as I walked adown the broad-ways, and saw that this was every where the case, I met an old woman bearing on her head a bundle of clothes ready for washing; so I went up to her and examining her, saw that she was stone, and the bundle of clothes on her head was stone also. Then I fared for the market, where I saw an oilman with his scales set up and fronted by various kinds of wares such as cheese and so forth, all of stone. Moreover, I saw all manner of tradesmen seated in their shops and men and women and children, some standing and some sitting; but they were all stone; and the stuffs were like spiders' webs. I amused myself with looking upon them, and as often as I laid hold upon a piece of stuff, it powdered in my hands like dust dispread. Presently I saw some chests and opening one of them, found it full of gold in bags; so I laid hold upon the bags, but they crumbled away in my grasp, whilst the gold abode unchanged. I carried off of it what I could carry and said to myself, 'Were my brothers with me, they might take of this gold their fill and possess themselves of these hoards which have no owner.' Then I entered another shop and found therein more than this, but could bear away no more than I had borne. I left this market and went on to another and thence to another and another, much enjoying the sight of all manner of creatures of various kinds, all several stones, even to the dogs and the cats, till I came to the goldsmiths' bazar, where I saw men sitting in their shops, with their stock-in-trade about them, some in their hands and others in crates of wicker- work. When I saw this, O Commander of the Faithful, I threw down the gold and loaded myself with goldsmiths' ware, as much as I could carry. Then I went on to the jewel-market and saw there the jewellers seated in their shops, each with a tray before him, full of all sorts of precious stones, jacinths and diamonds and emeralds and balass rubies and so forth: but all the shop-keepers were stones; whereupon I threw away the goldsmiths' ware and carried off as many jewels as I could carry, regretting that my brothers were not with me, so they might take what they would of those costly gems. Then I left the jewel-market and went on till I came to a great door, quaintly gilded and decorated after the fairest fashion, within which were wooden benches and in the porch sat eunuchs, and body-guards; horsemen, and footmen and officers of police each and every robed in the richest of raiment; but they were all stones. I touched one of them and his clothes crumbled away from his body like cobwebs. Then I passed through the door and saw a palace without equal for its building and the goodliness of the works that were therein. Here I found an audience-chamber, full of Grandees and Wazirs and Officers and Emirs, seated upon chairs and every one of them stone. Moreover, I saw a throne of red gold, crusted with pearls and gems, and seated thereon a son of Adam arrayed in the most sumptuous raiment and bearing on his head a Chosroan crown, diademed with the finest stones that shed a light like the light of day; but, when I came up to him, I found him stone. Then I went on to the gate of the Harim and entering, found myself in the Queen's presence-chamber, wherein I saw a throne of red gold, inlaid with pearls and gems, and the Queen seated thereon. On her head she wore a crown diademed with finest jewels, and round about her were women like moons, seated upon chairs and clad in the most sumptuous clothing of all colours. There also the eunuchry, with their hands upon their breasts, were standing in the attitude of service, and indeed this hall confounded the beholder's wits with what was therein of quaint gilding and rare painting and curious carving and fine furniture. There hung the most brilliant lustres of limpid crystal, and in every globe of the crystal was an unique jewel, whose price money might not fulfil. So I threw down that which was with me, O Prince of True Believers, and fell to taking of these jewels what I could carry, bewildered as to what I should bear away and what I should leave; for indeed I saw the place as it were a treasure of the treasures of the cities. Presently I espied a wicket standing open and within it a staircase: so I entered and mounting forty steps, heard a human voice reciting the Koran in a low tone. I walked towards that sound till I came to the main door hung with a silken curtain, laced with wires of gold whereon were strung pearls and coral and rubies and cut emeralds which gave forth a light like the light of stars. The voice came from behind the curtain: so I raised it and discovered a gilded door, whose beauty amazed the mind. I passed through the door and found myself in a saloon as it were a hoard upon earth's surface and therein a girl as she were the sun shining fullest sheen in the zenith of a sky serene. She was robed in the costliest of raiment and decked with ornaments the most precious that could be and withal she was of passing beauty and loveliness, a model of symmetry and seemliness, of elegance and perfect grace, with waist slender and hips heavy and dewy lips such as heal the sick and eyelids lovely in their languor, as it were she of whom the sayer spake when he said,
'My best salam to what that robe enrobes of symmetry, * And what that blooming garth of cheek enguards of rosy blee:
It seems as though the Pleiades depend upon her brow; * And other lights of Night in knots upon her breast we see:
Did she but don a garment weft of Rose's softest leaf, * The leaf of Rose would draw her blood when pluckt that fruit from tree:
And did she crache in Ocean's face, next Morn would see a change * To sweeter than the honeycomb of what was briny sea:
And did she deign her favours grant to grey-beard staff-enpropped * He'd wake and rend the lion's limbs for might and valiancy.'"
Then Abdullah continued, "O Prince of True Believers, as soon as I saw that girl I fell passionately in love with her and going straight up to her, found her seated on a high couch, reciting by heart and in grateful memory the Book of Allah, to whom belong honour and glory! Her voice was like the harmony of the gates of Heaven, when Rizwan openeth them, and the words came from her lips like a shower of gems; whilst her face was with beauty dight, bright and blossom-white, even as saith the poet of a similar sight,
'O thou who gladdenest man by speech and rarest quality; * Grow longing and repine for thee and grow beyond degree!
In thee two things consume and melt the votaries of Love; * The dulcet song of David joined with Joseph's brilliancy.'
When I heard her voice of melody reciting the sublime Koran, my heart quoted from her killing glances, 'Peace, a word from a compassionating Lord;' but I stammered in my speech and could not say the salam-salutation aright, for my mind and sight were confounded and I was become as saith the bard,
'Love-longing urged me not except to trip in speech o'er free; * Nor, save to shed my blood I passed the campment's boundary:
I ne'er will hear a word from those who love to rail, but I * Will testify to love of him with every word of me.'
Then I hardened myself against the horrors of repine and said to her, 'Peace be with thee, O noble Lady, and treasured jewel! Allah grant endurance to the foundation of thy fortune fair and upraise the pillars of thy glory rare!' Said she, 'And on thee from me be peace and salutation and high honour, O Abdullah, O son of Fazil! Well come and welcome and fair welcome to thee, O dearling mine and coolth of mine eyne!' Rejoined I, 'O my lady, whence wottest thou my name and who art thou and what case befel the people of this city, that they are become stones? I would have thee tell me the truth of the matter, for indeed I am admiring at this city and its citizens and that I have found none alive therein save thyself. So, Allah upon thee, tell me the cause of all this, according to the truth!' Quoth she, 'Sit, O Abdullah, and Inshallah, I will talk with thee and acquaint thee in full with the facts of my case and of this place and its people; and there is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!' So I sat me down by her side and she said to me, 'Know, O Abdullah, (may Allah have mercy on thee!) that I am the daughter of the King of this city and that it is my sire whom thou sawest seated on the high stead in the Divan, and those who are round about him were the Lords of his land and the Guards of his empery. He was a King of exceeding prowess and had under his hand a thousand thousand and sixty thousand troopers. The number of the Emirs of his Empire was four-and-twenty thousand, all of them Governors and Dignitaries. He was obeyed by a thousand cities, besides towns, hamlets and villages; and sconces and citadels, and the Emirs of the wild Arabs under his hand were a thousand in number, each commanding twenty thousand horse. Moreover, he had monies and treasures and precious stones and jewels and things of price, such as eye never saw nor of which ear ever heard.'"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Eight-third Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Princess, daughter to the King of the Stone-city, thus continued, "Verily, O Abdullah my father had monies and hoards, such as eye never saw and of which ear never heard. He used to debel Kings and do to death champions and braves in battle and in the field of fight, so that the Conquerors feared him and the Chosroes humbled themselves to him. For all this, he was a miscreant in creed ascribing to Allah partnership and adoring idols, instead of the Lord of worship; and all his troops were of images fain in lieu of the All-knowing Sovereign. One day of the days as he sat on the throne of his Kingship, compassed about with the Grandees of his realm, suddenly there came in to him a Personage, whose face illumined the whole Divan with its light. My father looked at him and saw him clad in a garb of green, tall of stature and with hands that reached beneath his knees. He was of reverend aspect and awesome and the light shone from his face. Said he to my sire, 'O rebel, O idolater, how long wilt thou take pride in worshipping idols and abandoning the service of the All-knowing King? Say, 'I testify that there is no god but the God and that Mohammed is His servant and His messenger.' And embrace Al-Islam, thou and thy tribe; and put away from you the worship of idols, for they neither suffice man's need nor intercede. None is worshipful save Allah alone, who raised up the heavens without columns and spread out the earths like carpets in mercy to His creatures.' Quoth my father, 'Who art thou, O man who rejectest the worship of idols, that thou sayst thus? Fearest thou not that the idols will be wroth with thee?' He replied, 'The idols are stones; their anger cannot prejudice me nor their favour profit me. So do thou set in my presence thine idol which thou adorest and bid all thy folk bring each his image: and when they are all present, do ye pray them to be wroth with me and I will pray my Lord to be wroth with them, and ye shall descry the difference between the anger of the creature and that of the Creator. For your idols, ye fashioned them yourselves and the Satans clad themselves therewith as with clothing, and they it is who spake to you from within the bellies of the images, for your idols are made and the maker is my God to whom naught is impossible. An the True appear to you, do ye follow it, and if the False appear to you do ye leave it.' Cried they, 'Give us a proof of thy god, that we may see it;' and quoth he, 'Give me proof of your gods.' So the King bade every one who worshipped his lord in image-form to bring it, and all the armies brought their idols to the Divan. Thus fared it with them; but as for me, I was sitting behind a curtain, whence I could look upon my father's Divan, and I had an idol of emerald whose bigness was as the bigness of a son of Adam. My father demanded it, so I sent it to the Divan, where they set it down beside that of my sire, which was of jacinth, whilst the Wazir's idol was of diamond. As for those of the Grandees and Notables, some were of balass-ruby and some of carnelian, others of coral or Comorin aloes-wood and yet others of ebony or silver or gold; and each had his own idol, after the measure of his competence; whilst the idols of the common soldiers and of the people were some of granite, some of wood, some of pottery and some of mud; and all were of various hues yellow and red; green, black and white. Then said the Personage to my sire, 'Pray your idol and these idols to be wroth with me.' So they aligned the idols in a Divan, setting my father's idol on a chair of gold at the upper end, with mine by its side, and ranking the others each according to the condition of him who owned it and worshipped it. Then my father arose and prostrating himself to his own idol, said to it, 'O my god, thou art the Bountiful Lord, nor is there among the idols a greater than thyself. Thou knowest that this person cometh to me, attacking thy divinity and making mock of thee; yea, he avoucheth that he hath a god stronger than thou and ordereth us leave adoring thee and adore his god. So be thou wrath with him, O my god!' And he went on to supplicate the idol; but the idol returned him no reply neither bespoke him with aught of speech; whereupon quoth he, 'O my god, this is not of thy wont, for thou usedst to answer me, when I addressed thee. How cometh it that I see thee silent and speaking not? Art thou unheeding or asleep? Awake; succour me and speak to me!' And he shook it with his hand; but it spake not neither stirred from its stead. Thereupon quoth the Personage, 'What aileth thine idol that it speaketh not?'; and quoth the King, 'Methinks he is absent-minded or asleep.' Exclaimed the other, 'O enemy of Allah, how canst thou worship a god that speaketh not nor availeth unto aught and not worship my God, who to prayers deigns assent and who is ever present and never absent, neither unheeding nor sleeping, whom conjecture may not ween, who seeth and is not seen and who over all things terrene is omnipotent? Thy god is powerless and cannot guard itself from harm; and indeed a stoned Satan had clothed himself therewith as with a coat that he might debauch thee and delude thee. But now hath its devil departed; so do thou worship Allah and testify that there is no god but He and that none is worshipful nor worshipworth but Himself; neither is there any good but His good. As for this thy god, it cannot ward off hurt from it; so how shall it ward off harm from thee? See with thine own eyes its impotence.' So saying, he went up to the idol and dealt it a cuff on the neck, that it fell to the ground; whereupon the King waxed wroth and cried to the bystanders, 'This froward atheist hath smitten my god. Slay him!' So they would have arisen to smite him, but none of them could stir from his place. Then he propounded to them Al-Islam; but they refused to become Moslems and he said, 'I will show you the wroth of my Lord.' Quoth they, 'Let us see it!' So he spread out his hands and said, 'O my God and my Lord, Thou art my stay and my hope; answer Thou my prayer against these lewd folk, who eat of Thy good and worship other gods. O Thou the Truth, O Thou of All- might, O Creator of Day and Night, I beseech Thee to turn these people into stones, for Thou art the Puissant nor is aught impossible to Thee, and Thou over all things are omnipotent!' And Allah transformed the people of this city into stones; but, as for me, when I saw the manifest proof of His deity, I submitted myself to Him and was saved from that which befel the rest. Then the Personage drew near me and said 'Felicity was fore- ordained of Allah to thee and in this a purpose had He.' And he went on to instruct me and I took unto him the oath and covenant. I was then seven years of age and am now thirty years old. Then said I to him, 'O my lord, all that is in the city and all its citizens are become stones by thine effectual prayer, and I am saved, for that I embraced Al-Islam at thy hands. Wherefore thou art become my Shaykh; so do thou tell me thy name and succour me with thy security and provide me with provision whereon I may subsist.' Quoth he, 'My name is Abu al- 'Abbas al-Khizr'; and he planted me a pomegranate-tree, which forthright grew up and foliaged, flowered and fruited, and bare one pomegranate; whereupon quoth he, 'Eat of that wherewith Allah the Almighty provideth thee and worship Him with the worship which is His due.' Then he taught me the tenets of Al-Islam and the canons of prayer and the way of worship, together with the recital of the Koran, and I have now worshipped Allah in this place three-and-twenty years. Each day the tree yieldeth me a pomegranate which I eat and it sustaineth me from tide to tide; and every Friday, Al-Khizr (on whom be peace!) cometh to me and 'tis he who acquainted me with thy name and gave me the glad tidings of thy soon coming hither, saying to me, 'When he shall come to thee, entreat him with honour and obey his bidding and gainsay him not; but be thou to him wife and he shall be to thee man, and wend with him whitherso he will.' So, when I saw thee, I knew thee and such is the story of this city and of its people, and the Peace!'"--"Then she showed me the pomegranate-tree, whereon was one granado, which she took and eating one-half thereof herself, gave me the other to eat, and never did I taste aught sweeter or more savoury or more satisfying than that pomegranate. After this, I said to her, 'Art thou content, even as the Shaykh Al-Khizr charged thee, to be my wife and take me to mate; and art thou ready to go with me to my own country and abide with me in the city of Bassorah?' She replied, 'Yes, Inshallah: an it please Almighty Allah. I hearken to thy word and obey thy hest without gainsaying.' Then I made a binding covenant with her and she carried me into her father's treasury, whence we took what we could carry and going forth that city, walked on till we came to my brothers, whom I found searching for me. They asked, 'Where hast thou been? Indeed thou hast tarried long from us, and our hearts were troubled for thee.' And the captain of the ship said to me, 'O merchant Abdullah, the wind hath been fair for us this great while, and thou hast hindered us from setting sail.' And I answered, 'There is no harm in that; ofttimes slow is sure and my absence hath wrought us naught but advantage, for indeed, there hath betided me therein the attainment of our hopes and God-gifted is he who said,
'I weet not, whenas to a land I fare * In quest of good, what I shall there obtain;
Or gain I fare with sole desire to seek; * Or loss that seeketh me when seek I gain.'
Then said I to them, 'See what hath fallen to me in this mine absence;' and displayed to them all that was with me of treasures and told them what I had beheld in the City of Stone, adding, 'Had ye hearkened to me and gone with me, ye had gotten of these things great gain.'"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Eighty-fourth Night,
She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Abdullah bin Fazil said to his shipmates and to his two brothers, "Had ye gone with me, ye had gotten of these things great gain." But they said, "By Allah, had we gone, we had not dared to go in to the King of the city!"--"Then I said to my brothers, 'No harm shall befal you; for that which I have will suffice us all and this is our lot.' So I divided my booty into four parts according to our number and gave one to each of my brothers and to the Captain, taking the fourth for myself, setting aside somewhat for the servants and sailors, who rejoiced and blessed me: and all were content with what I gave them, save my brothers who changed countenance and rolled their eyes. I perceived that lust of lucre had gotten hold of them both; so I said to them, 'O my brothers, methinketh what I have given you doth not satisfy you; but we are brothers and there is no difference between us. My good and yours are one and the same thing, and if I die none will inherit of me but you.' And I went on to soothe them. Then I bore the Princess on board the galleon and lodged her in the cabin, where I sent her somewhat to eat and we sat talking, I and my brothers. Said they, 'O our brother, what wilt thou do with that damsel of surpassing beauty?' And I replied, 'I mean to contract marriage with her, as soon as I reach Bassorah and make a splendid wedding and go in to her there.' Exclaimed one of them, 'O my brother, verily, this young lady excelleth in beauty and loveliness and the love of her is fallen on my heart; wherefore I desire that thou give her to me and I will espouse her.' And the other cried, 'I too desire this: give her to me, that I may espouse her.' 'O my brothers,' answered I, 'indeed she took of me an oath and a covenant that I would marry her myself; so, if I give her to one of you, I shall be false to my oath and to the covenant between me and her, and haply she will be broken- hearted, for she came not with me but on condition that I marry her. So how can I wed her to other than myself? As for your both loving her, I love her more than you twain, for she is my treasure-trove, and as for my giving her to one of you, that is a thing which may not be. But, if we reach Bassorah in safety, I will look you out two girls of the best of the damsels of Bassorah and demand them for you in marriage and pay the dower of my own monies and make one wedding and we will all three go into our brides on the same night. But leave ye this damsel, for she is of my portion.' They held their peace, and I thought they were content with that which I had said. Then we fared onwards for Bassorah, and every day I sent her meat and drink; but she came not forth of the cabin, whilst I slept between my brothers on deck. We sailed thus forty days, till we sighted Bassorah city and rejoiced that we were come near it. Now I trusted in my brothers and was at my ease with them, for none knoweth the hidden future save Allah the Most High; so I lay down to sleep that night; but, as I abode drowned in slumber, I suddenly found myself caught up by these my brothers, one seizing me by the legs and the other by the arms, for they had taken counsel together to drown me in the sea for the sake of the damsel. When I saw myself in their hands, I said to them, 'O my brothers, why do ye this with me?' And they replied, 'Ill-bred that thou art, wilt thou barter our affection for a girl?; we will cast thee into the sea, because of this.' So saying, they threw me overboard." (Here Abdullah turned to the dogs and said to them, "Is this that I have said true O my brothers or not?"; and they bowed their heads and fell a-whining, as if confirming his speech; whereat the Caliph wondered). Then Abdullah resumed, "O Commander of the Faithful, when they threw me into the sea, I sank to the bottom; but the water bore me up again to the surface, and before I could think, behold a great bird, the bigness of a man, swooped down upon me and snatching me up, flew up with me into upper air. I fainted and when I opened my eyes, I found myself in a strong- pillared place, a high-builded palace, adorned with magnificent paintings and pendants of gems of all shapes and hues. Therein were damsels standing with their hands crossed over their breasts and, behold in their midst was a lady seated on a throne of red gold, set with pearls and gems, and clad in apparel whereon no mortal might open his eyes, for the lustre of the jewels wherewith they were decked. About her waist she wore a girdle of jewels no money could pay their worth and on her head a three- fold tiara dazing thought and wit and dazzling heart and sight. Then the bird which had carried me thither shook and became a young lady bright as sun raying light. I fixed my eyes on her and behold, it was she whom I had seen, in snake form on the mountain and had rescued from the dragon which had wound his tail around her. Then said to her the lady who sat upon the throne, 'Why hast thou brought hither this mortal?'; and she replied, 'O my mother, this is he who was the means of veiling my honour among the maidens of the Jinn.' Then quoth she to me, 'Knowest thou who I am?'; and quoth I, 'No.' Said she, 'I am she who was on such a mountain, where the black dragon strave with me and would have forced my honour, but thou slewest him.' And I said, 'I saw but a white snake with the dragon.' She rejoined, "Tis I who was the white snake; but I am the daughter of the Red King, Sovran of the Jann and my name is Sa'idah. She who sitteth there is my mother and her name is Mubarakah, wife of the Red King. The black dragon who attacked me and would have done away my honour was Wazir to the Black King, Darfil by name, and he was foul of favour. It chanced that he saw me and fell in love with me; so he sought me in marriage of my sire, who sent to him to say, 'Who art thou, O scum of Wazirs, that thou shouldst wed with Kings' daughters?' Whereupon he was wroth and sware an oath that he would assuredly do away my honour, to spite my father. Then he fell to tracking my steps and following me whithersoever I went, designing to ravish me; wherefore there befel between him and my parent mighty fierce wars and bloody jars, but my sire could not prevail against him, for that he was fierce as fraudful and as often as my father pressed hard upon him and seemed like to conquer he would escape from him, till my sire was at his wits' end. Every day I was forced to take new form and hue; for, as often as I assumed a shape, he would assume its contrary, and to whatsoever land I fled he would snuff my fragrance and follow me thither, so that I suffered sore affliction of him. At last I took the form of a snake and betook myself to the mountain where thou sawest me; whereupon he changed himself to a dragon and pursued me, till I fell into his hands, when he strove with me and I struggled with him, till he wearied me and mounted me, meaning to have his lustful will of me; but thou camest and smote him with the stone and slewest him. Then I returned to my own shape and showed myself to thee, saying, 'I am indebted to thee for a service such as is not lost save with the son of adultery.' So, when I saw thy brothers do with thee this treachery and throw thee into the sea, I hastened to thee and saved thee from destruction, and now honour is due to thee from my mother and my father.' Then she said to the Queen, 'O my mother, do thou honour him as deserveth he who saved my virtue.' So the Queen said to me, 'Welcome, O mortal! Indeed thou hast done us a kindly deed which meriteth honour.' Presently she ordered me a treasure-suit, worth a mint of money, and store of gems and precious stones, and said, 'Take him and carry him in to the King.' Accordingly, they carried me into the King in his Divan, where I found him seated on his throne, with his Marids and guards before him; and when I saw him my sight was blent for that which was upon him of jewels; but when he saw me, he rose to his feet and all his officers rose also, to do him worship. Then he saluted me and welcomed me and entreated me with the utmost honour, and gave me of that which was with him of good things; after which he said to some of his followers, 'Take him and carry him back to my daughter, that she may restore him to the place whence she brought him.' So they carried me back to the Lady Sa'idah, who took me up and flew away with me and my treasures. On this wise fared it with me and the Princess; but as regards the Captain of the galleon, he was aroused by the splash of my fall, when my brothers cast me into the sea, and said, 'What is that which hath fallen overboard?' Whereupon my brothers fell to weeping and beating of breasts and replied, 'Alas, for our brother's loss! He thought to do his need over the ship's side and fell into the water!' Then they laid their hands on my good, but there befel dispute between them because of the damsel, each saying, 'None shall have her but I.' And they abode jangling and wrangling each with other and remembered not their brother nor his drowning and their mourning for him ceased. As they were thus, behold Sa'idah alighted with me in the midst of the galleon,"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Eighty-fifth Night,
She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Abdullah bin Fazil continued, "As they were thus, behold, Sa'idah alighted with me in the midst of the galleon and when my brothers saw me, they embraced me and rejoiced in me, saying, 'O our brother, how hast thou fared in that which befel thee? Indeed our hearts have been occupied with thee.' Quoth Sa'idah, 'Had ye any heart- yearnings for him or had ye loved him, ye had not cast him into the sea; but choose ye now what death ye will die.' Then she seized on them and would have slain them; but they cried out, saying, 'In thy safeguard, O our brother!' Thereupon I interceded and said to her, 'I claim of thine honour not to kill my brothers.' Quoth she, 'There is no help but that I slay them, for they are traitors.' But I ceased not to speak her fair and conciliate her till she said, 'To content thee, I will not kill them, but I will enchant them.' So saying, she brought out a cup and filling it with sea-water, pronounced over it words that might not be understood; then saying, 'Quit this human shape for the shape of a dog;' she sprinkled them with the water, and immediately they were transmewed into dogs, as thou seest them, O Vicar of Allah." Whereupon he turned to the dogs and said to them, "Have I spoken the truth, O my brothers?" And they bowed their heads, as they would say, "Thou hast spoken sooth." At this he continued, "Then she said to those who were in the galleon, 'Know ye that Abdullah bin Fazil here present is become my brother and I shall visit him once or twice every day: so, whoso of you crosseth him or gainsayeth his bidding or doth him hurt with hand or tongue, I will do with him even as I have done with these two traitors and bespell him to a dog, and he shall end his days in that form, nor shall he find deliverance.' And they all said to her, 'O our lady, we are his slaves and his servants every one of us and will not disobey him in aught.' Moreover, she said to me, 'When thou comest to Bassorah, examine all thy property and if there lack aught thereof, tell me and I will bring it to thee, in whose hands and in what place soever it may be, and will change him who took it into a dog. When thou hast magazined thy goods, clap a collar of wood on the neck of each of these two traitors and tie them to the leg of a couch and shut them up by themselves. Moreover, every night, at midnight, do thou go down to them and beat each of them a bout till he swoon away; and if thou suffer a single night to pass without beating them, I will come to thee and drub thee a sound drubbing, after which I will drub them.' And I answered, 'To hear is to obey.' Then said she, 'Tie them up with ropes till thou come to Bassorah.' So I tied a rope about each dog's neck and lashed them to the mast, and she went her way. On the morrow we entered Bassorah and the merchants came out to meet me and saluted me, and no one of them enquired of my brothers. But they looked at the dogs and said to me, 'Ho, such and such, what wilt thou do with these two dogs thou hast brought with thee?' Quoth I, 'I reared them on this voyage and have brought them home with me.' And they laughed at them, knowing not that they were my brothers. When I reached my house, I put the twain in a closet and busied myself all that night with the unpacking and disposition of the bales of stuffs and jewels. Moreover, the merchants were with me being minded to offer me the salam; wherefore I was occupied with them and forgot to beat the dogs or chain them up. Then without doing them aught of hurt, I lay down to sleep, but suddenly and unexpectedly there came to me the Red King's daughter Sa'idah and said to me, 'Did I not bid thee clap chains on their necks and give each of them a bout of beating?' So saying, she seized me and pulling out a whip, flogged me till I fainted away, after which she went to the place where my brothers were and with the same scourge beat them both till they came nigh upon death. Then said she to me, 'Beat each of them a like bout every night, and if thou let a night pass without doing this, I will beat thee;' and I replied, 'O my lady, to-morrow I will put chains on their necks, and next night I will beat them nor will I leave them one night unbeaten.' And she charged me strictly to beat them and disappeared. When the morning morrowed it being no light matter for me to put fetters of iron on their necks, I went to a goldsmith and bade him make them collars and chains of gold. He did this and I put the collars on their necks and chained them up, as she bade me; and next night I beat them both in mine own despite. This befel in the Caliphate of Al- Mahdi, third of the sons of Al-Abbas, and I commended myself to him by sending him presents, so he invested me with the government and made me viceroy of Bassorah. On this wise I abode some time and after a while I said to myself, 'Haply her wrath is grown cool;' and left them a night unbeaten, whereupon she came to me and beat me a bout whose burning I shall never forget long as I live. So, from that time to this, I have never left them a single night unbeaten during the reign of Al-Mahdi; and when he deceased and thou camest to the succession, thou sentest to me, confirming me in the government of Bassorah. These twelve years past have I beaten them every night, in mine own despite, and after I have beaten them, I excuse myself to them and comfort them and give them to eat and drink; and they have remained shut up, nor did any of the creatures of Allah know of them, till thou sentest to me Abu Ishak the boon-companion, on account of the tribute, and he discovered my secret and returning to thee, acquainted thee therewith. Then thou sentest him back to fetch me and them; so I answered with 'Hearkening and obedience,' and brought them before thee, whereupon thou questionedst me and I told thee the truth of the case; and this is my history." The Caliph marvelled at the case of the two dogs and said to Abdullah, "Hast thou at this present forgiven thy two brothers the wrong they did thee, yea or nay?" He replied, "O my lord, may Allah forgive them and acquit them of responsibility in this world and the next! Indeed, 'tis I who stand in need of their forgiveness, for that these twelve years past I have beaten them a grievous bout every night!" Rejoined the Caliph, "O Abdullah, Inshallah, I will endeavour for their release and that they may become men again, as they were before, and I will make peace between thee and them; so shall you live the rest of your lives as brothers loving one another; and like as thou hast forgiven them, so shall they forgive thee. But now take them and go down with them to thy lodging and this night beat them not, and to- morrow there shall be naught save weal." Quoth Abdullah, "O my lord, as thy head liveth, if I leave them one night unbeaten, Sa'idah will come to me and beat me, and I have no body to brook beating." Quoth the Caliph, "Fear not, for I will give thee a writing under my hand. An she come to thee, do thou give her the paper and if, when she has read it, she spare thee, the favour will be hers; but, if she obey not my bidding, commit thy business to Allah and let her beat thee a bout and suppose that thou hast forgotten to beat them for one night and that she beateth thee because of that: and if it fall out thus and she thwart me, as sure as I am Commander of the Faithful, I will be even with her." Then he wrote her a letter on a piece of paper, two fingers broad, and sealing it with his signet-ring, gave it to Abdullah, saying, "O Abdullah, if Sa'idah come, say to her, 'The Caliph, King of mankind, hath commanded me to leave beating them and hath written me this letter for thee; and he saluteth thee with the salam.' Then give her the warrant and fear no harm." After which he exacted of him an oath and a solemn pledge that he would not beat them. So Abdullah took the dogs and carried them to his lodging, saying to himself, "I wonder what the Caliph will do with the daughter of the Sovran of the Jinn, if she cross him and trounce me to-night! But I will bear with a bout of beating for once and leave my brothers at rest this night, though for their sake I suffer torture." Then he bethought himself awhile, and his reason said to him, "Did not the Caliph rely on some great support, he had never forbidden me from beating them." So he entered his lodging and doffed the collars from the dogs' necks, saying, "I put my trust in Allah," and fell to comforting them and saying, "No harm shall befal you; for the Caliph, fifth of the sons of Al-Abbas, hath pledged himself for your deliverance and I have forgiven you. An it please Allah the Most High, the time is come and ye shall be delivered this blessed night; so rejoice ye in the prospect of peace and gladness." when they heard these words, they fell to whining with the whining of dogs,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Eighty-sixth Night,
She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Abdullah bin Fazil said to his brothers, "Rejoice ye in the prospect of comfort and gladness." And when they heard his words they fell to whining with the whining of dogs, and rubbed their jowls against his feet, as if blessing him and humbling themselves before him. He mourned over them and took to stroking their backs till supper time; and when they set on the trays he bade the dogs sit. So they sat down and ate with him from the tray, whilst his officers stood gaping and marvelling at his eating with dogs and all said, "Is he mad or are his wits gone wrong? How can the Viceroy of Bassorah city, he who is greater than a Wazir, eat with dogs? Knoweth he not that the dog is unclean?" And they stared at the dogs, as they ate with him as servants eat with their lords, knowing not that they were his brothers; nor did they cease staring at them, till they had made an end of eating, when Abdullah washed his hands and the dogs also put out their paws and washed; whereupon all who were present began to laugh at them and to marvel, saying, one to other, "Never in our lives saw we dogs eat and wash their paws after eating!" Then the dogs sat down on the divans beside Abdullah, nor dared any ask him of this; and thus the case lasted till midnight, when he dismissed the attendants and lay down to sleep and the dogs with him, each on a couch; whereupon the servants said one to other, "Verily, he hath lain down to sleep and the two dogs are lying with him." Quoth another, "Since he hath eaten with the dogs from the same tray, there is no harm in their sleeping with him; and this is naught save the fashion of madmen." Moreover, they ate not anything of the food which remained in the tray, saying, "'Tis unclean." Such was their case; but as for Abdullah, ere he could think, the earth clave asunder and out rose Sa'idah, who said to him, "O Abdullah, why hast thou not beaten them this night and why hast thou undone the collars from their necks? Hast thou acted on this wise perversely and in mockery of my commandment? But I will at once beat thee and spell thee into a dog like them." He replied, "O my lady, I conjure thee by the graving upon the seal-ring of Solomon David-son (on the twain be peace!) have patience with me till I tell thee my cause and after do with me what thou wilt." Quoth she, "Say on," and quoth he, "The reason of my not punishing them is only this. The King of mankind, the Commander of the Faithful, the Caliph Harun al-Rashid, ordered me not to beat them this night and took of me oaths and covenants to that effect; and he saluteth thee with the salam and hath committed to me a mandate under his own hand, which he bade me give thee. So I obeyed his order for to obey the Commander of the Faithful is obligatory; and here is the mandate. Take it and read it and after work thy will." She replied "Hither with it!" So he gave her the letter and she opened it and read as follows, "In the name of Allah, the Compassionating, the Compassionate! From the King of mankind, Harun al-Rashid, to the daughter of the Red King, Sa'idah! But, after. Verily, this man hath forgiven his brothers and hath waived his claim against them, and we have enjoined them to reconciliation. Now, when reconciliation ruleth, retribution is remitted, and if you of the Jinn contradict us in our commandments, we will contrary you in yours and traverse your ordinances; but, an ye obey our bidding and further our orders, we will indeed do the like with yours. Wherefore I bid thee hurt them no hurt, and if thou believe in Allah and in His Apostle, it behoveth thee to obey and us to command. So an thou spare them, I will requite thee with that whereto my Lord shall enable me; and the token of obedience is that thou remove thine enchantment from these two men, so they may come before me to- morrow, free. But an thou release them not, I will release them in thy despite, by the aid of Almighty Allah." When she had read the letter, she said, "O Abdullah, I will do nought till I go to my sire and show him the mandate of the monarch of mankind and return to thee with the answer in haste." So saying, she signed with her hand to the earth, which clave open and she disappeared therein, whilst Abdullah's heart was like to fly for joy and he said, "Allah advance the Commander of the Faithful!" As for Sa'idah, she went in to her father; and, acquainting him with that which had passed, gave him the Caliph's letter, which he kissed and laid on his head. Then he read it and understanding its contents said, "O my daughter, verily, the ordinance of the monarch of mankind obligeth us and his commandments are effectual over us, nor can we disobey him: so go thou and release the two men forth-with and say to them, 'Ye are freed by the intercession of the monarch of mankind.' For, should he be wroth with us, he would destroy us to the last of us; so do not thou impose on us that which we are unable." Quoth she "O my father, if the monarch of mankind were wroth with us, what could he do with us?"; and quoth her sire, "He hath power over us for several reasons. In the first place, he is a man and hath thus pre-eminence over us; secondly he is the Vicar of Allah; and thirdly, he is constant in praying the dawn-prayer of two bows; therefore were all the tribes of the Jinn assembled together against him from the Seven Worlds they could do him no hurt. But he, should he be wroth with us would pray the dawn-prayer of two bows and cry out upon us one cry, when we should all present ourselves before him obediently and be before him as sheep before the butcher. If he would, he could command us to quit our abiding-places for a desert country wherein we might not endure to sojourn; and if he desired to destroy us, he would bid us destroy ourselves, whereupon we should destroy one another. wherefore we may not disobey his bidding for, if we did this, he would consume us with fire nor could we flee from before him to any asylum. Thus is it with every True Believer who is persistent in praying the dawn-prayer of two bows; his commandment is effectual over us: so be not thou the means of our destruction, because of two mortals, but go forthright and release them, ere the anger of the Commander of the Faithful fall upon us." So she returned to Abdullah and acquainted him with her father's words, saying, "Kiss for us the hands of the Prince of True Believers and seek his approval for us." Then she brought out the tasse and filling it with water, conjured over it and uttered words which might not be understood; after which she sprinkled the dogs with the water saying, "Quit the form of dogs and return to the shape of men!" Whereupon they became men as before and the spell of the enchantment was loosed from them. Quoth they, "I testify that there is no god but the God and I testify that Mohammed is the Apostle of God!" Then they fell on their brother's feet and hands, kissing them and beseeching his forgiveness: but he said, "Do ye forgive me;" and they both repented with sincere repentance, saying, "Verily, the damned Devil lured us and covetise deluded us: but our Lord hath requited us after our deserts, and forgiveness is of the signs of the noble." And they went on to supplicate their brother and weep and profess repentance for that which had befallen him from them. Then quoth he to them, "What did ye with my wife whom I brought from the City of Stone?" Quoth they, "When Satan tempted us and we cast thee into the sea, there arose strife between us, each saying, I will have her to wife. Now when she heard these words and beheld our contention, she knew that we had thrown thee into the sea; so she came up from the cabin and said to us, 'Contend not because of me, for I will not belong to either of you. My husband is gone into the sea and I will follow him.' So saying, she cast herself overboard and died." Exclaimed Abdullah, "In very sooth she died a martyr! But there is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!" Then he wept for her with sore weeping and said to his brothers, "It was not well of you to do this deed and bereave me of my wife." They answered, "Indeed, we have sinned, but our Lord hath requited us our misdeed and this was a thing which Allah decreed unto us, ere He created us." And he accepted their excuse; but Sa'idah said to him, "Have they done all these things to thee and wilt thou forgive them?" He replied, "O my sister, whoso hath power and spareth, for Allah's reward he prepareth." Then said she, "Be on thy guard against them, for they are traitors;" and fare-welled him and fared forth.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Eighty-seventh Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Abdullah, when Sa'idah warned him and blessed him and went her ways, passed the rest of the night with his brothers and on the morrow, he sent them to the Hammam and clad each of them, on his coming forth, in a suit worth a hoard of money. Then he called for the tray of food and they set it before him and he ate, he and his brothers. When his attendants saw the twain and knew them for his brothers they saluted them and said to him, "O our lord, Allah give thee joy of thy reunion with thy dear brothers! Where have they been this while?" He replied, "It was they whom ye saw in the guise of dogs; praise be to Allah who hath delivered them from prison and grievous torment!" Then he carried them to the Divan of the Caliph and kissing ground before Al-Rashid wished him continuance of honour and fortune and surcease of evil and enmity. Quoth the Caliph, "Welcome, O Emir Abdullah! Tell me what hath befallen thee." And quoth he, "O Commander of the Faithful (whose power Allah increase!) when I carried my brothers home to my lodging, my heart was at rest concerning them, because thou hadst pledged thyself to their release and I said in myself, 'Kings fail not to attain aught for which they strain, inasmuch as the divine favour aideth them.' So I took off the collars from their necks, putting my trust in Allah, and ate with them from the same tray, which when my suite saw, they made light of my wit and said each to other, 'He is surely mad! How can the governor of Bassorah who is greater than the Wazir, eat with dogs?' Then they threw away what was in the tray, saying, 'We will not eat the dogs' orts.' And they went on to befool my reason, whilst I heard their words, but returned them no reply because of their unknowing that the dogs were my brothers. When the hour of sleep came, I sent them away and addressed myself to sleep; but, ere I was ware, the earth clave in sunder and out came Sa'idah, the Red King's daughter, enraged against me, with eyes like fire." And he went on to relate to the Caliph all what had passed between him and her and her father and how she had transmewed his brothers from canine to human form, adding, "And here they are before thee, O Commander of the Faithful!" The Caliph looked at them and seeing two young men like moons, said, "Allah requite thee for me with good, O Abdullah, for that thou hast acquainted me with an advantage I knew not! Henceforth, Inshallah, I will never leave to pray these two-bow orisons before the breaking of the dawn, what while I live." Then he reproved Abdullah's brothers for their past transgressions against him and they excused themselves before the Caliph, who said, "Join hands and forgive one another and Allah pardon what is past!" Upon which he turned to Abdullah and said to him, "O Abdullah, make thy brothers thine assistants and be careful of them." Then he charged them to be obedient to their brother and bade them return to Bassorah after he had bestowed on them abundant largesse. So they went down from the Caliph's Divan whilst he rejoiced in this advantage he had obtained by the action aforesaid, to wit, persistence in praying two inclinations before dawn, and exclaimed, "He spake truth who said, 'The misfortune of one tribe fortuneth another tribe.'" On this wise befel it to them from the Caliph; but as regards Abdullah, he left Baghdad carrying with him his brothers in all honour and dignity and increase of quality, and fared on till they drew near Bassorah, when the notables and chief men of the place came out to meet them and after decorating the city brought them thereinto with a procession which had not its match and all the folk shouted out blessings on Abdullah as he scattered amongst them silver and gold. None, however, took heed to his brothers; wherefore jealousy and envy entered their hearts, for all he entreated them tenderly as one tenders an ophthalmic eye; but the more he cherished them, the more they redoubled in hatred and envy of him: and indeed it is said on the subject,
"I'd win good will of every one, but whoso envies me * Will not be won on any wise and makes mine office hard:
How gain the gree of envious wight who coveteth my good, * When naught will satisfy him save to see my good go marr'd?"
Then he gave each a concubine that had not her like, and eunuchs and servants and slaves white and black, of each kind forty. He also gave each of them fifty steeds all thoroughbreds and they got them guards and followers; and he assigned to them revenues and appointed them solde and stipends and made them his assistants, saying to them, "O my brothers, I and you are equal and there is no distinction between me and you twain,"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Eighty-eighth Night,
She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Abdullah assigned stipends to his brothers and made them his assistants, saying, "O my brothers, I and you are equal and there is no distinction between me and you twain, and after Allah and the Caliph, the commandment is mine and yours. So rule you at Bassorah in my absence and in my presence, and your commandments shall be effectual; but look that ye fear Allah in your ordinances and beware of oppression, which if it endure depopulateth; and apply yourselves to justice, for justice, if it be prolonged, peopleth a land. Oppress not the True Believers, or they will curse you and ill report of you will reach the Caliph, wherefore dishonour will betide both me and you. Go not therefore about to violence any, but whatso ye greed for of the goods of the folk, take it from my goods, over and above that whereof ye have need; for 'tis not unknown to you what is handed down in the Koran of prohibition versets on the subject of oppression and Allah-gifted is he who said these couplets,
'Oppression ambusheth in sprite of man * Whom naught withholdeth save the lack of might:
The sage shall ne'er apply his wits to aught * Until befitting time direct his sight:
The tongue of wisdom woneth in the heart; * And in his mouth the tongue of foolish wight.
Who at occasion's call lacks power to rise * Is slain by feeblest who would glut his spite.
A man may hide his blood and breed, but aye * His deeds on darkest hiddens cast a light.
Wights of ill strain with ancestry as vile * Have lips which never spake one word aright:
And who committeth case to hands of fool * In folly proveth self as fond and light;
And who his secret tells to folk at large * Shall rouse his foes to work him worst despight.
Suffice the generous what regards his lot * Nor meddles he with aught regards him not'"
And he went on to admonish his brothers and bid them to equity and forbid them from tyranny, doubting not but they would love him the better for his boon of good counsel and he relied upon them and honoured them with the utmost honour; but notwithstanding all his generosity to them, they only waxed in envy and hatred of him, till, one day, the two being together alone, quoth Nasir to Mansur, "O my brother, how long shall we be mere subjects of our brother Abdullah, and he in this estate of lordship and worship? After being a merchant, he is become an Emir, and from being little, he is grown great: but we, we grow not great nor is there aught of respect or degree left us; for, behold, he laugheth at us and maketh us his assistants! What is the meaning of this? Is it not that we are his servants and under his subjection? But, long as he abideth in good case, our rank will never be raised nor shall we be aught of repute; wherefore we shall not fulfil our wish, except we slay him and win to his wealth, nor will it be possible to get his gear save after his death. So, when we have slain him, we shall become lords and will take all that is in his treasuries of gems and things of price and divide them between us. Then will we send the Caliph a present and demand of him the government of Cufah, and thou shalt be governor of Cufah and I of Bassorah. Thus each of us shall have formal estate and condition, but we shall never effect this, except we put him out of the world!" Answered Mansur, "Thou sayest sooth, but how shall we do to kill him?" Quoth Nasir, "We will make an entertainment in the house of one of us and invite him thereto and serve him with the uttermost service. Then will we sit through the night with him in talk and tell him tales and jests and rare stories till his heart melteth with sitting up when we will spread him a bed, that he may lie down to sleep. When he is asleep, we will kneel upon him and throttle him and throw him into the river; and on the morrow, we will say, 'His sister the Jinniyah came to him, as he sat chatting with us, and said to him, 'O thou scum of mankind, who art thou that thou shouldst complain of me to the Commander of the Faithful? Deemest thou that we dread him? As he is a King, so we too are Kings, and if he mend not his manners in our regard we will do him die by the foulest of deaths. But meantime I will slay thee, that we may see what the hand of the Prince of True Believers availeth to do.' So saying, she caught him up and clave the earth and disappeared with him which when we saw, we swooned away. Then we revived and we reck not what is become of him.' And saying this we will send to the Caliph and tell him the case and he will invest us with the government in his room. After awhile, we will send him a sumptuous present and seek of him the government of Cufah, and one of us shall abide in Bassorah and the other in Cufah. So shall the land be pleasant to us and we will be down upon the True Believers and win our wishes." And quoth Mansur, "Thou counsellest well, O my brother," and they agreed upon the murther. So Nasir made an entertainment and said to Abdullah, "O my brother, verily I am thy brother, and I would have thee hearten my heart thou and my brother Mansur and eat of my banquet in my house, so I may boast of thee and that it may be said, The Emir Abdullah hath eaten of his brother Nasir's guest meal; when my heart will be solaced by this best of boons." Abdullah replied, "So be it, O my brother; there is no distinction between me and thee and thy house is my house; but since thou invitest me, none refuseth hospitality save the churl." Then he turned to Mansur and said to him, "Wilt thou go with me to thy brother Nasir's house and we will eat of his feast and heal his heart?" Replied Mansur, "As thy head liveth, O my brother, I will not go with thee, unless thou swear to me that, after thou comest forth of brother Nasir's house, thou wilt enter my house and eat of my banquet! Is Nasir thy brother and am not I thy brother? So, even as thou heartenest his heart, do thou hearten mine." Answered Abdullah, "There is no harm in that: with love and gladly gree! When I come out from Nasir's house, I will enter thine, for thou art my brother even as he." So he kissed his hand and going forth of the Divan, made ready his feast. On the morrow, Abdullah took horse and repaired, with his brother Mansur and a company of his officers, to Nasir's house, where they sat down, he and Mansur and his many. Then Nasir set the trays before them and welcomed them; so they ate and drank and sat in mirth and merriment; after which the trays and the platters were removed and they washed their hands. They passed the day in feasting and wine-drinking and diversion and delight till night-fall, when they supped and prayed the sundown prayers, and the night orisons; after which they sat conversing and carousing, and Nasir and Mansur fell to telling stories whilst Abdullah hearkened. Now they three were alone in the pavilion, the rest of the company being in another place, and they ceased not to tell quips and tales and rare adventures and anecdotes, till Abdullah's heart was dissolved within him for watching and sleep overcame him.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Eighty-ninth Night,
She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Abdullah was a-wearied with watching and wanted to sleep, they also lay beside him on another couch and waited till he wasdrowned in slumber and when they were certified thereof they arose and knelt upon him: whereupon he awoke and seeing them kneeling on his breast, said to them, "What is this, O my brothers?" Cried they, "We are no brothers of thine, nor do we know thee unmannerly that thou art! Thy death is become better than thy life." Then they gripped him by the throat and throttled him, till he lost his senses and abode without motion; so that they deemed him dead. Now the pavilion wherein they were overlooked the river; so they cast him into the water; but, when he fell, Allah sent to his aid a dolphin who was accustomed to come under that pavilion because the kitchen had a window that gave upon the stream; and, as often as they slaughtered any beast there, it was their wont to throw the refuse into the river and the dolphin came and picked it up from the surface of the water; wherefore he ever resorted to the place. That day they had cast out much offal by reason of the banquet; so the dolphin ate more than of wont and gained strength. Hearing the splash of Abdullah's fall, he hastened to the spot, where he saw a son of Adam and Allah guided him so that he took the man on his back and crossing the current made with him for the other bank, where he cast his burthen ashore. Now the place where the dolphin cast up Abdullah was a well-beaten highway, and presently up came a caravan and finding him lying on the river bank, said, "Here is a drowned man, whom the river hath cast up;" and the travellers gathered around to gaze at the corpse. The Shaykh of the caravan was a man of worth, skilled in all sciences and versed in the mystery of medicine and, withal, sound of judgment: so he said to them, "O folk, what is the news?" They answered, "Here is a drowned man;" whereupon he went up to Abdullah and examining him, said to them, "O folk, there is life yet in this young man, who is a person of condition and of the sons of the great, bred in honour and fortune, and Inshallah there is still hope of him." Then he took him and clothing him in dry clothes warmed him before the fire; after which he nursed him and tended him three days' march till he revived; but he was passing feeble by reason of the shock, and the chief of the caravan proceeded to medicine him with such simples as he knew, what while they ceased not faring on till they had travelled thirty days' journey from Bassorah and came to a city in the land of the Persians, by name 'Auj. Here they alighted at a Khan and spread Abdullah a bed, where he lay groaning all night and troubling the folk with his groans. And when morning morrowed the concierge of the Khan came to the chief of the caravan and said to him, "What is this sick man thou hast with thee? Verily, he disturbeth us." Quoth the chief, "I found him by the way, on the river-bank and well nigh drowned; and I have tended him, but to no effect, for he recovereth not." Said the porter, "Show him to the Shaykhah Rajihah." "Who is this Religious?" asked the chief of the caravan, and the door-keeper answered, "There is with us a holy woman, a clean maid and a comely, called Rajihah, to whom they present whoso hath any ailment; and he passeth a single night in her house and awaketh on the morrow, whole and ailing nothing." Quoth the chief, "Direct me to her;" quoth the porter, "Take up thy sick man." So he and took up Abdullah and the doorkeeper forewent him, till he came to a hermitage, where he saw folk entering with many an ex voto offering and other folk coming forth, rejoicing. The porter went in, till he came to the curtain, and said, "Permission, O Shaykhah Rajihah! Take this sick man." Said she, "Bring him within the curtain;" and the porter said to Abdullah, "Enter." So he entered and looking upon the holy woman, saw her to be his wife whom he had brought from the City of Stone. And when he knew her she also knew him and saluted him and he returned her salam. Then said he, "Who brought thee hither?"; and she answered, "When I saw that thy brothers had cast thee away and were contending concerning me, I threw myself into the sea; but my Shaykh Al-Khizr Abu al-'Abbas took me up and brought me to this hermitage, where he gave me leave to heal the sick and bade cry in the city, 'Whoso hath any ailment, let him repair to the Shaykhah Rajihah;' and he also said to me, 'Tarry in this hermitage till the time betide, and thy husband shall come to thee here.' So all the sick used to flock to me and I rubbed them and shampoo'd them and they awoke on the morrow whole and sound; whereby the report of me became noised abroad among the folk, and they brought me votive gifts, so that I have with me abundant wealth. And now I live here in high honour and worship, and all the people of these parts seek my prayers." Then she rubbed him and by the ordinance of Allah the Most High, he became whole. Now Al-Khizr used to come to her every Friday night, and it chanced that the day of Abdullah's coming was a Thursday. Accordingly, when the night darkened he and she sat, after a supper of the richest meats, awaiting the coming of Al-Khizr, who made his appearance anon and carrying them forth of the hermitage, set them down in Abdullah's palace at Bassorah, where he left them and went his way. As soon as it was day, Abdullah examined the palace and knew it for his own; then, hearing the folk clamouring without, he looked forth of the lattice and saw his brothers crucified, each on his own cross. Now the reason of this was as ensueth. When they had thrown him into the Tigris, the twain arose on the morrow, weeping and saying, "Our brother! the Jinniyah hath carried off our brother!" Then they made ready a present and sent it to the Caliph, acquainting him with these tidings and suing from him the government of Bassorah. He sent for them and questioned them and they told him the false tale we have recounted, whereupon he was exceeding wroth. So that night he prayed a two-bow prayer before daybreak, as of his wont, and called upon the tribes of the Jinn, who came before him subject-wise, and he questioned them of Abdullah: when they sware to him that none of them had done him aught of hurt and said, "We know not what is become of him." Then came Sa'idah, daughter of the Red King, and acquainted the Caliph with the truth of Abdullah's case, and he dismissed the Jinn. On the morrow, he subjected Nasir and Mansur to the bastinado till they confessed, one against other: whereupon the Caliph was enraged with them and cried, "Carry them to Bassorah and crucify them there before Abdullah's palace." Such was their case; but as regards Abdullah, when he saw his brothers crucified, he commanded to bury them, then took horse and repairing to Baghdad, acquainted the Caliph with that which his brothers had done with him, from first to last and told him how he had recovered his wife; whereat Al-Rashid marvelled and summoning the Kazi and the witnesses, bade draw up the marriage- contract between Abdullah and the damsel whom he had brought from the City of Stone. So he went in to her and woned with her at Bassorah till there came to them the Destroyer of delights and the Severer of societies; and extolled be the perfection of the Living, who dieth not! Moreover, O auspicious King, I have heard a tale anent...
[Go to Ma'aruf the Cobbler and His Wife Fatimah]
Burton, Richard (1821-1890). The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night. London. 1885-1888. Gutenberg Vol. I. Gutenberg Vol. II. Gutenberg Vol. III. Gutenberg Vol. IV. Gutenberg Vol. V. Gutenberg Vol. V. Gutenberg Vol. VII. Gutenberg Vol. VIII. Gutenberg Vol. IX. Gutenberg Vol. X. Please consult the Gutenberg edition for footnotes; the footnotes have not been included in this web version.
1001 Nights Hypertext. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License. The texts presented here are in the public domain. Thanks to Gene Perry for his excellent help in preparing the texts for the web. Page last updated: January 1, 2005 10:46 PM