[Go back to Caliph Al-Maamum and the Strange Scholar]
There lived once in the days of yore and the good old times long gone before, in the land of Khorasan, a merchant called Majd al-Dín, who had great wealth and many slaves and servants, white and black, young and old; but he had not been blessed with a child until he reached the age of threescore, when Almighty Allah vouchsafed him a son, whom he named Alí Shár. The boy grew up like the moon on the night of fulness; and when he came to man's estate and was endowed with all kinds of perfections, his father fell sick of a death-malady and, calling his son to him, said, "O my son, the fated hour of my decease is at hand, and I desire to give thee my last injunctions." He asked, "And what are they, O my father?"; and he answered, "O my son, I charge thee, be not over-familiar with any and eschew what leadeth to evil and mischief. Beware lest thou sit in company with the wicked; for he is like the blacksmith; if his fire burn thee not, his smoke shall bother thee: and how excellent is the saying of the poet,
'In thy whole world there is not one, Whose friendship thou may'st count upon, Nor plighted faith that will stand true, When times go hard, and hopes are few. Then live apart and dwell alone, Nor make a prop of any one, I've given a gift in that I've said, Will stand thy friend in every stead:'
And what another saith,
'Men are a hidden malady; * Rely not on the sham in them:
For perfidy and treachery * Thou'lt find, if thou examine them.'
And yet a third saith,
'Converse with men hath scanty weal, except * To while away the time in chat and prate:
Then shun their intimacy, save it be * To win thee lore, or better thine estate.'
And a fourth saith,
'If a sharp-witted wight e'er tried mankind, * I've eaten that which only tasted he:
Their amity proved naught but wile and guile, * Their faith I found was but hypocrisy.'"
Quoth Ali, "O my father, I have heard thee and I will obey thee what more shall I do?" Quoth he, "Do good whereas thou art able; be ever kind and courteous to men and regard as riches every occasion of doing a good turn; for a design is not always easily carried out; and how well saith the poet,
"Tis not at every time and tide unstable, * We can do kindly acts and charitable:
When thou art able hasten thee to act, * Lest thine endeavour prove anon unable!'"
Said Ali, "I have heard thee and I will obey thee."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and Ninth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the youth replied, "I have heard thee and I will obey thee; what more?" And his sire continued, "Be thou, O my son, mindful of Allah, so shall He be mindful of thee. Ward thy wealth and waste it not; for an thou do, thou wilt come to want the least of mankind. Know that the measure of a man's worth is according to that which his right hand hendeth: and how well saith the poet,
'When fails my wealth no friend will deign befriend, * And when it waxeth all men friendship show:
How many a foe for wealth became my friend, * Wealth lost, how many a friend became a foe!'"
Asked Ali, "What more?" And Majd al-Din answered, "O my son, take counsel of those who are older than thou and hasten not to do thy heart's desire. Have compassion on those who are below thee, so shall those who are above thee have compassion on thee; and oppress none, lest Allah empower one who shall oppress thee. How well saith the poet,
'Add other wit to thy wit, counsel craving, * For man's true course hides not from minds of two
Man is a mirror which but shows his face, * And by two mirrors he his back shall view.'
And as saith another,
'Act on sure grounds, nor hurry fast,
To gain the purpose that thou hast
And be thou kindly to all men
So kindly thou'lt be called again;
For not a deed the hand can try,
Save 'neath the hand of God on high,
Nor tyrant harsh work tyranny,
Uncrushed by tyrant harsh as he.'
And as saith yet another,
'Tyrannize not, if thou hast the power to do so; for the tyrannical-is in danger of revenges.
Thine eye will sleep while the oppressed, wakeful, will call down curses on thee, and God's eye sleepeth not.'
Beware of wine-bibbing, for drink is the root of all evil: it doeth away the reason and bringeth to contempt whoso useth it; and how well saith the poet,
'By Allah, wine shall not disturb me, while my soul * Join body, nor while speech the words of me explain:
No day will I be thralled to wine-skin cooled by breeze * Nor choose a friend save those who are of cups unfair.'
This, then, is my charge to thee; bear it before thine eyes, and Allah stand to thee in my stead." Then he swooned away and kept silent awhile; and, when he came to himself, he besought pardon of Allah and pronounced the profession of the Faith, and was admitted to the mercy of the Almighty. So his son wept and lamented for him and presently made proper preparation for his burial; great and small walked in his funeral-procession and Koran readers recited Holy Writ about his bier; nor did Ali Shar omit aught of what was due to the dead. Then they prayed over him and committed him to the dust and wrote these two couplets upon his tomb,
'Thou west create of dust and cam'st to life, * And learned'st in eloquence to place thy trust;
Anon, to dust returning, thou becamest * A corpse, as though ne'er taken from the dust."
Now his son Ali Shar grieved for him with sore grief and mourned him with the ceremonies usual among men of note; nor did he cease to weep the loss of his father till his mother died also, not long afterwards, when he did with her as he had done with his sire. Then he sat in the shop, selling and buying and consorting with none of Almighty Allah's creatures, in accordance with his father's injunction. This wise he continued to do for a year, at the end of which time there came in to him by craft certain whoreson fellows and consorted with him, till he turned after their example to lewdness and swerved from the way of righteousness, drinking wine in flowing bowls and frequenting fair women night and day; for he said to himself, "Of a truth my father amassed this wealth for me, and if I spend it not, to whom shall I leave it? By Allah, I will not do save as saith the poet,
'An through the whole of life * Thou gett'st and gain'st for self;
Say, when shalt thou enjoy * Thy gains and gotten pelf?'"
And Ali Shar ceased not to waste his wealth all whiles of the day and all watches of the night, till he had made away with the whole of his riches and abode in pauper case and troubled at heart. So he sold his shop and lands and so forth, and after this he sold the clothes off his body, leaving himself but one suit; and, as drunkenness quitted him and thoughtfulness came to him, he fell into grief and sore care. One day, when he had sat from day-break to mid-afternoon without breaking his fast, he said in his mind, "I will go round to those on whom I spent my monies: perchance one of them will feed me this day." So he went the round of them all; but, as often as he knocked at any one's door of them, the man denied himself and hid from him, till his stomach ached with hunger. Then he betook himself to the bazar of the merchants,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and Tenth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Ali Shar feeling his stomach ache with hunger, betook himself to the merchants' bazar where he found a crowd of people assembled in ring, and said to himself, "I wonder what causeth these folk to crowd together thus? By Allah, I will not budge hence till I see what is within yonder ring!" So he made his way into the ring and found therein a damsel exposed for sale who was five feet tall, beautifully proportioned, rosy of cheek and high of breast; and who surpassed all the people of her time in beauty and loveliness and elegance and grace; even as saith one, describing her,
"As she willèd she was made, and in such a way that when * She was cast in Nature's mould neither short nor long was she:
Beauty woke to fall in love with the beauties of her form, * Where combine with all her coyness her pride and prudency:
The full moon is her faceand the branchlet is her shape, * And the musk-pod is her scent--what like her can there be?
'Tis as though she were moulded from water of the pearl, * And in every lovely limblet another moon we see!"
And her name was Zumurrud--the Smaragdine. So when Ali Shar saw her, he marvelled at her beauty and grace and said, "By Allah, I will not stir hence till I see how much this girl fetcheth, and know who buyeth her!" So he took standing-place amongst the merchants, and they thought he had a mind to buy her, knowing the wealth he had inherited from his parents. Then the broker stood at the damsel's head and said, "Ho, merchants! Ho, ye men of money! Who will open the gate of biddings for this damsel, the mistress of moons, the union pearl, Zumurrud the curtain-maker, the sought of the seeker and the delight of the desirous? Open the biddings' door and on the opener be nor blame nor reproach for evermore." Thereupon quoth one merchant, "Mine for five hundred dinars;" "And ten," quoth another. "Six hundred," cried an old man named Rashíd al-Din, blue of eye and foul of face. "And ten," cried another. "I bid a thousand," rejoined Rashid al-Din; whereupon the rival merchants were tongue-tied, and held their peace and the broker took counsel with the girl's owner, who said, "I have sworn not to sell her save to whom she shall choose: so consult her." Thereupon the broker went up to Zumurrud and said to her, "O mistress of moons this merchant hath a mind to buy thee." She looked at Rashid al-Din and finding him as we have said, replied, "I will not be sold to a gray-beard, whom decrepitude hath brought to such evil plight. Allah inspired his saying who saith,
'I craved of her a kiss one day; but soon as she beheld * My hoary hairs, though I my luxuries and wealth display'd;
She proudly turned away from me, showed shoulders, cried aloud:-- * 'No! no! by Him, whose hest mankind from nothingness hath made
For hoary head and grizzled chin I've no especial-love: * What! stuff my mouth with cotton ere in sepulchre I'm laid?'"
Now when the broker heard her words he said, "By Allah, thou art excusable, and thy price is ten thousand gold pieces!" So he told her owner that she would not accept of old man Rashid al-Din, and he said, "Consult her concerning another." Thereupon a second man came forward and said, "Be she mine for what price was offered by the oldster she would have none of;" but she looked at him and seeing that his beard was dyed, said "What be this fashion lewd and base and the blackening of the hoary face?" And she made a great show of wonderment and repeated these couplets,
"Showed me Sir Such-an-one a sight and what a frightful sight! * A neck by Allah, only made for slipper-sole to smite
A beard the meetest racing ground where gnats and lice contend, * A brow fit only for the ropes thy temples chafe and bite.
O thou enravish" by my cheek and beauties of my form, * Why so translate thyself to youth and think I deem it right?
Dyeing disgracefully that white of reverend aged hairs, * And hiding for foul purposes their venerable white!
Thou goest with one beard and comest back with quite another, * Like Punch-and-Judy man who works the Chinese shades by night.
And how well saith another'
Quoth she, 'I see thee dye thy hoariness:' * 'To hide, O ears and eyes! from thee,' quoth I:
She roared with laugh and said, 'Right funny this; * Thou art so lying e'en
Now when the broker heard her verse he exclaimed, "By Allah thou hast spoken sooth!" The merchant asked what she said: so the broker repeated the verses to him; and he knew that she was in the right while he was wrong and desisted from buying her. Then another came forward and said, "Ask her if she will be mine at the same price;" but, when he did so, she looked at him and seeing that he had but one eye, said, "This man is one-eyed; and it is of such as he that the poet saith,
'Consort not with the Cyclops e'en a day; * Beware his falsehood and his mischief fly:
Had this monocular a jot of good, * Allah had ne'er brought blindness to his eye!'"
Then said the broker, pointing to another bidder, "Wilt thou be sold to this man?" She looked at him and seeing that he was short of stature and had a beard that reached to his navel, cried, "This is he of whom the poet speaketh,
'I have a friend who hath a beard * Allah to useless length unroll'd:
'Tis like a certain winter night, * Longsome and darksome, drear and cold.'"
Said the broker, "O my lady, look who pleaseth thee of these that are present, and point him out, that I may sell thee to him." So she looked round the ring of merchants, examining one by one their physiognomies, till her glance fell on Ali Shar,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and Eleventh Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the girl's glance fell on Ali Shar, she cast at him a look with longing eyes, which cost her a thousand sighs, and her heart was taken with him; for that he was of favour passing fair and pleasanter than zephyr or northern air; and she said, "O broker, I will be sold to none but to this my lord, owner of the handsome face and slender form whom the poet thus describeth,
'Displaying that fair face * The tempted they assailed
Who, had they wished me safe * That lovely face had veiled!'
For none shall own me but he, because his cheek is smooth and the water of his mouth sweet as Salsabil; his spittle is a cure for the sick and his charms daze and dazzle poet and proser, even as saith one of him,
'His honey dew of lips is wine; his breath * Musk and those teeth, smile shown, are camphor's hue:
Rizwán hath turned him out o' doors, for fear * The Houris lapse from virtue at the view
Men blame his bearing for its pride, but when * In pride the full moon sails, excuse is due.'
Lord of the curling locks and rose red cheeks and ravishing look of whom saith the poet,
'The fawn-like one a meeting promised me * And eye expectant waxed and heart unstirred:
His eyelids bade me hold his word as true; * But, in their languish, can he keep his word?'
And as saith another,
'Quoth they, 'Black letters on his cheek are writ! * How canst thou love him and a side-beard see?'
Quoth I, 'Cease blame and cut your chiding short; * If those be letters 'tis a forgery:'
Gather his charms all growths of Eden garth * Whereto those Kausar-lips bear testimony.'"
When the broker heard the verses she repeated on the charms of Ali Shar, he marvelled at her eloquence, no less than at the brightness of her beauty; but her owner said to him, "Marvel not at her splendour which shameth the noonday sun, nor that her memory is stored with the choicest verses of the poets; for besides this, she can repeat the glorious Koran, according to the seven readings, and the august Traditions, after ascription and authentic transmission; and she writeth the seven modes of handwriting and she knoweth more learning and knowledge than the most learned. Moreover, her hands are better than gold and silver; for she maketh silken curtains and selleth them for fifty gold pieces each; and it taketh her but eight days to make a curtain." Exclaimed the broker, "O happy the man who hath her in his house and maketh her of his choicest treasures!"; and her owner said to him, "Sell her to whom she will." So the broker went up to Ali Shar and, kissing his hands, said to him, "O my lord, buy thou this damsel, for she hath made choice of thee." Then he set forth to him all her charms and accomplishments, and added, "I give thee joy if thou buy her, for this be a gift from Him who is no niggard of His giving." Whereupon Ali bowed his head groundwards awhile, laughing at himself and secretly saying, "Up to this hour I have not broken my fast; yet I am ashamed before the merchants to own that I have no money wherewith to buy her." The damsel, seeing him hang down his head, said to the broker, "Take my hand and lead me to him, that I may show my beauty to him and tempt him to buy me; for I will not be sold to any but to him." So the broker took her hand and stationed her before Ali Shar, saying, "What is thy good pleasure, O my lord?" But he made him no answer, and the girl said to him, "O my lord and darling of my heart, what aileth thee that thou wilt not bid for me? Buy me for what thou wilt and I will bring thee good fortune." So he raised his eyes to her and said, "Is buying perforce? Thou art dear at a thousand dinars." Said she, "Then buy me, O my lord, for nine hundred." He cried, "No," and she rejoined, "Then for eight hundred;" and though he again said, "Nay," she ceased not to abate the price, till she came to an hundred dinars. Quoth he, "I have not by me a full hundred." So she laughed and asked, "How much dost thou lack of an hundred?" He answered, "By Allah, I have neither an hundred dinars, nor any other sum; for I own neither white coin nor red cash, neither dinar nor dirham. So look out thou for another and a better customer." And when she knew that he had nothing, she said to him, "Take me by the hand and carry me aside into a by- lane, as if thou wouldst examine me privily." He did so and she drew from her bosom a purse containing a thousand dinars, which she gave him, saying, "Pay down nine hundred to my price and let the hundred remain with thee by way of provision." He did as she bid him and, buying her for nine hundred dinars, paid down the price from her own purse and carried her to his house. When she entered it, she found a dreary desolate saloon without carpets or vessels; so she gave him other thousand dinars, saying, "Go to the bazar and buy three hundred dinars' worth of furniture and vessels for the house and three dinars' worth of meat and drink."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and Twelfth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King that quoth the slave-girl, "Bring us meat and drink for three dinars, furthermore a piece of silk, the size of a curtain, and bring golden and silvern thread and sewing silk of seven colours." Thus he did, and she furnished the house and they sat down to eat and drink; after which they went to bed and took their pleasure one of the other. And they lay the night embraced behind the curtain and were even as saith the poet,
"Cleave fast to her thou lovestand let the envious rail amain,
For calumny and envy ne'er to favour love were fain.
Lo, whilst I slept, in dreams I saw thee lying by my side
And, from thy lips the sweetest, sure, of limpid springs did drain.
Yea, true and certain all I saw is, as I will avouch,
And 'spite the envier, thereto I surely will attain.
There is no goodlier sight, indeed, for eyes to look upon,
Than when one couch in its embrace enfoldeth lovers twain.
Each to the other's bosom clasped, clad in their twinned delight,
Whilst hand with hand and arm with arm about their necks enchain
Lo, when two hearts are straitly knit in passion and desire,
But on cold iron smite the folk who chide at them in vain.
Thou, that for loving censurest the votaries of love,
Canst thou assain a heart diseased or heal-a cankered brain?
If in thy time thou kind but one to love thee and be true,
I rede thee cast the world away and with that one remain."
So they lay together till the morning and love for the other waxed firmly fixed in the heart of each. And on rising, Zumurrud took the curtain and embroidered it with coloured silks and purpled it with silver and gold thread and she added thereto a border depicting round about it all manner of birds and beasts; nor is there in the world a feral but she wrought his semblance. This she worked in eight days, till she had made an end of it, when she trimmed it and glazed and ironed it and gave it to her lord, saying, "Carry it to the bazar and sell it to one of the merchants at fifty dinars; but beware lest thou sell it to a passer-by, as this would cause a separation between me and thee, for we have foes who are not unthoughtful of us." "I hear and I obey," answered he and, repairing to the bazar, sold the curtain to a merchant, as she bade him; after which he bought a piece of silk for another curtain and gold and silver and silken thread as before and what they needed of food, and brought all this to her, giving her the rest of the money. Now every eight days she made a curtain, which he sold for fifty dinars, and on this wise passed a whole year. At the end of that time, he went as usual to the bazar with a curtain, which he gave to the broker; and there came up to him a Nazarene who bid him sixty dinars for it; but he refused, and the Christian continued bidding higher and higher, till he came to an hundred dinars and bribed the broker with ten ducats. So the man returned to Ali Shar and told him of the proffered price and urged him to accept the offer and sell the article at the Nazarene's valuation, saying, "O my lord, be not afraid of this Christian for that he can do thee no hurt." The merchants also were urgent with him; so he sold the curtain to the Christian, albeit his heart misgave him; and, taking the money, set off to return home. Presently, as he walked, he found the Christian walking behind him; so he said to him, "O Nazarene, why dost thou follow in my footsteps?" Answered the other "O my lord, I want a something at the end of the street, Allah never bring thee to want!"; but Ali Shar had barely reached his place before the Christian overtook him; so he said to him, "O accursed, what aileth thee to follow me wherever I go?" Replied the other, "O my lord, give me a draught of water, for I am athirst; and with Allah be thy reward!" Quoth Ali Shar to himself, "Verily, this man is an Infidel who payeth tribute and claimeth our protection and he asketh me for a draught of water; by Allah, I will not baulk him!"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and Thirteenth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that quoth Ali Shar to himself, "This man is a tributary Unbeliever and he asked me for a draught of water; by Allah, I will not baulk him!" So he entered the house and took a gugglet of water; but the slave-girl Zumurrud saw him and said to him, "O my love, hast thou sold the curtain?" He replied, "Yes;" and she asked, "To a merchant or to a passer-by? for my heart presageth a parting." And he answered, "To whom but to a merchant?" Thereupon she rejoined, "Tell me the truth of the case, that I may order my affair; and why take the gugglet of water?" And he, To give the broker to drink," upon which she exclaimed, There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!"; and she repeated these two couplets,
"O thou who seekest separation, act leisurely, and let not the embrace of the beloved deceive thee!
Act leisurely; for the nature of fortune is treacherous, and the end of every union is disjunction.
Then he took the gugglet and, going out, found the Christian within the vestibule and said to him, "How comest thou here and how darest thou, O dog, enter my house without my leave?" Answered he, "O my lord, there is no difference between the door and the vestibule, and I never intended to stir hence, save to go out; and my thanks are due to thee for thy kindness and favour, thy bounty and generosity." Then he took the mug and emptying it, returned it to Ali Shar, who received it and waited for him to rise up and to go; but he did not move. So Ali said to him, "Why dost thou not rise and wend thy way?"; and he answered, "O my lord, be not of those who do a kindness and then make it a reproach, nor of those of whom saith the poet,
'They're gone who when thou stoodest at their door * Would for thy wants so generously cater:
But stand at door of churls who followed them, * They'd make high favour of a draught of water!'"
And he continued, "O my lord, I have drunk, and now I would have thee give me to eat of whatever is in the house, though it be but a bit of bread or a biscuit with an onion." Replied Ali Shar, "Begone, without more chaffer and chatter; there is nothing in the house." He persisted, "O my lord, if there be nothing in the house, take these hundred dinars and bring us something from the market, if but a single scone, that bread and salt may pass between us." With this, quoth Ali Shar to himself, "This Christian is surely mad; I will take his hundred dinars and bring him somewhat worth a couple of dirhams and laugh at him." And the Nazarene added, "O my lord, I want but a small matter to stay my hunger, were it but a dry scone and an onion; for the best food is that which doeth away appetite, not rich viands; and how well saith the poet,
'Hunger is sated with a bone-dry scone, * How is it then in woes of want I wone?
Death is all-justest, lacking aught regard * For Caliph-king and beggar woe-begone.'"
Then quoth Ali Shar, "Wait here, while I lock the saloon and fetch thee somewhat from the market;" and quoth the Christian, "To hear is to obey." So Ali Shar shut up the saloon and, locking the door with a padlock, put the key in his pocket: after which he went to market and bought fried cheese and virgin honey and bananas and bread, with which he returned to the house. Now when the Christian saw the provision, he said, "O my lord, this is overmuch; 'tis enough for half a score of men and I am alone; but belike thou wilt eat with me." Replied Ali, "Eat by thyself, I am full;" and the Christian rejoined, "O my lord, the wise say, Whoso eateth not with his guest is a son of a whore." Now when Ali Shar heard these words from the Nazarene, he sat down and ate a little with him, after which he would have held his hand;--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and Fourteenth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Ali Shar sat down and ate a little with him, after which he would have held his hand; but the Nazarene privily took a banana and peeled it; then, splitting it in twain, put into one half concentrated Bhang, mixed with opium, a drachm whereof would over throw an elephant; and he dipped it in the honey and gave it to Ali Shar, saying, "O my lord, by the truth of thy religion, I adjure thee to take this." So Ali Shar, being ashamed to make him forsworn, took it and swallowed it; but hardly had it settled well in his stomach, when his head forwent both his feet and he was as though he had been a year asleep. As soon as the Nazarene saw this, rose to his feet as he had been a scald wolf or a cat-o'-mount at bay and, taking the saloon key, left Ali Shar prostrate and ran off to rejoin his brother. And the cause of his so doing was that the Nazarene's brother was the same decrepit old man who purposed to buy Zumurrud for a thousand dinars, but she would none of him and jeered him in verse. He was an Unbeliever inwardly, though a Moslem outwardly, and had called himself Rashid al-Din; and when Zumurrud mocked him and would not accept of him, he complained to his brother the aforesaid Christian who played this sleight to take her from her master Ali Shar; whereupon his brother, Barsum by name said to him, "Fret not thyself about the business, for I will make shift to seize her for thee, without expending either diner or dirham. Now he was a skilful wizard, crafty and wicked; so he watched his time and ceased not his practices till he played Ali Shar the trick before related; then, taking the key, he went to his brother and acquainted him with what had passed. Thereupon Rashid al-Din mounted his she mule and repaired with his brother and his servants to the house of Ali Shar, taking with him a purse of a thousand dinars, wherewith to bribe the Chief of Police, should he meet him. He opened the saloon door and the men who were with him rushed in upon Zumurrud and forcibly seized her, threatening her with death, if she spoke, but they left the place as it was and took nothing therefrom. Lastly they left Ali Shar lying in the vestibule after they had shut the door on him and laid the saloon key by his side. Then the Christian carried the girl to his own house and setting her amongst his handmaids and concubines, said to her, "O strumpet, I am the old man whom thou didst reject and lampoon; but now I have thee, without paying diner or dirham." Replied she (and her eyes streamed with tears), "Allah requite thee, O wicked old man, for sundering me and my lord!" He rejoined, "Wanton minx and whore that thou art, thou shalt see how I will punish thee! By the truth of the Messiah and the Virgin, except thou obey me and embrace my faith, I will torture thee with all manner of torture!" She replied, "By Allah, though thou cut my flesh to bits I will not forswear the faith of Al-Islam! It may be Almighty Allah will bring me speedy relief, for He cloth even as He is fief, and the wise say: 'Better body to scathe than a flaw in faith.'" Thereupon the old man called his eunuchs and women, saying, "Throw her down!" So they threw her down and he ceased not to beat her with grievous beating, whilst she cried for help and no help came; then she no longer implored aid but fell to saying, "Allah is my sufficiency, and He is indeed all-sufficient!" till her groans ceased and her breath failed her and she fell into a fainting-fit. Now when his heart was soothed by bashing her, he said to the eunuchs, "Drag her forth by the feet and cast her down in the kitchen, and give her nothing to eat." And after quietly sleeping that night, on the morrow the accursed old man sent for her and beat her again, after which he bade the Castrato return her to her place. When the burning of the blows had cooled, she said, "There is no god but the God and Mohammed is the Apostle of God! Allah is my sufficiency and excellent is my Guardian!" And she called for succour upon our Lord Mohammed (whom Allah bless and keep!)--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and Fifteenth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Zumurrud called for succour upon our Lord Mohammed (whom Allah bless and keep!). Such was her case; but as regards Ali Shar, he ceased not sleeping till next day, when the Bhang quitted his brain and he opened his eyes and cried out, "O Zumurrud"; but no one answered him. So he entered the saloon and found the empty air and the fane afar; whereby he knew that it was the Nazarene who had played him this trick. And he groaned and wept and lamented and again shed tears, repeating these couplets,
"O Love thou'rt instant in thy cruellest guise; * Here is my heart 'twixt fears and miseries:
Pity, O lords, a thrall who, felled on way * Of Love, erst wealthy now a beggar lies:
What profits archer's art if, when the foe * Draw near, his bowstring snap ere arrow lies:
And when griefs multiply on generous man * And urge, what fort can fend from destinies?
How much and much I warded parting, but * 'When Destiny descends she blinds our eyes?'"
And when he had ended his verse, he sobbed with loud sobs and repeated also these couplets,
"Enrobes with honour sands of camp her foot step wandering lone, * Pines the poor mourner as she wins the stead where wont to wane
She turns to resting-place of tribe, and yearns thereon to view * The spring-camp lying desolate with ruins overstrown
She stands and questions of the site, but with the tongue of case * The mount replies, 'There is no path that leads to union, none!
'Tis as the lightning flash erewhile bright glittered o'er the camp * And died in darkling air no more to be for ever shown.'"
And he repented when repentance availed him naught, and wept and rent his raiment. Then he hent in hand two stones and went round about the city, beating his breast with the stones and crying "O Zumurrud!" whilst the small boys flocked round him, calling out, "A madman! A madman!" and all who knew him wept for him, saying, "This is such an one: what evil hath befallen him?" Thus he continued doing all that day and, when night darkened on him, he lay down in one of the city lanes and sleet till morning On the morrow, he went round about town with the stones till eventide, when he returned to his saloon to pass therein the night. Presently, one of his neighbours saw him, and this worthy old woman said to him, "O my son, Heaven give thee healing! How long hast thou been mad?" And he answered her with these two couplets,
"They said, Thou revest upon the person thou lovest. * And I replied, The sweets of life are only for the mad.
Drop the subject of my madness, and bring her upon whom I rave * If she cure my madness do not blame me."
So his old neighbour knew him for a lover who had lost his beloved and said, "There is no Majesty and there is no Might, save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! O my son, I wish thou wouldest acquaint me with the tale of thine affliction. Peradventure Allah may enable me to help thee against it, if it so please Him." So he told her all that had befallen him with Barsum the Nazarene and his brother the wizard who had named himself Rashid al-Din and, when she understood the whole case, she said, "O my son, indeed thou hast excuse." And her eyes railed tears and she repeated these two couplets,
"Enough for lovers in this world their ban and bane: * By Allah, lover ne'er in fire of Sakar fries:
For, sure, they died of love-desire they never told * Chastely, and to this truth tradition testifies."
And after she had finished her verse, she said, "O my son, rise at once and buy me a crate, such as the jewel-pedlars carry; buy also bangles and seal-rings and bracelets and ear-rings and other gewgaws wherein women delight and grudge not the cash. Put all the stock into the crate and bring it to me and I will set it on my head and go round about, in the guise of a huckstress and make search for her in all the houses, till I happen on news of her-- Inshallah!" So Ali Shar rejoiced in her words and kissed her hands, then, going out, speedily brought her all she required; whereupon she rose and donned a patched gown and threw over her head a honey-yellow veil, and took staff in hand and, with the basket on her head, began wandering about the passages and the houses. She ceased not to go from house to house and street to street and quarter to quarter, till Allah Almighty led her to the house of the accursed Rashid al-Din the Nazarene where, hearing groans within, she knocked at the door,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and Sixteenth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the old woman heard groans within the house, she knocked at the door, whereupon a slave-girl came down and opening to her, saluted her. Quoth the old woman, "I have these trifles for sale: is there any one with you who will buy aught of them?" "Yes," answered the damsel and, carrying her indoors, made her sit down; whereupon all the slave-girls came round her and each bought something of her. And as the old woman spoke them fair and was easy with them as to price, all rejoiced in her, because of her kind ways and pleasant speech. Meanwhile, she looked narrowly at the ins and outs of the place to see who it was she had heard groaning, till her glance fell on Zumurrud, when she knew her and she began to show her customers yet more kindness. At last she made sure that Zumurrud was laid prostrate; so she wept and said to the girls, "O my children, how cometh yonder young lady in this plight?" Then the slave-girls told her all what had passed, adding, "Indeed this matter is not of our choice; but our master commanded us to do thus, and he is now on a journey." She said, "O my children, I have a favour to ask of you, and it is that you loose this unhappy damsel of her bonds, till you know of your lord's return, when do ye bind her again as she was; and you shall earn a reward from the Lord of all creatures." "We hear and obey," answered they and at once loosing Zumurrud, gave her to eat and drink. Thereupon quoth the old woman, "Would my leg had been broken, ere I entered your house!" And she went up to Zumurrud and said to her, "O my daughter, Heaven keep thee safe; soon shall Allah bring thee relief." Then she privily told her that she came from her lord, Ali Shar, and agreed with her to be on the watch for sounds that night, saying, "Thy lord will come and stand by the pavilion-bench and whistle to thee; and when thou hearest him, do thou whistle back to him and let thyself down to him by a rope from the window, and he will take thee and go away with thee." So Zumurrud thanked the old woman, who went forth and returned to Ali Shar and told him what she had done, saying, "Go this night, at midnight, to such a quarter, for the accursed carle's house is there and its fashion is thus and thus. Stand under the window of the upper chamber and whistle; whereupon she will let herself down to thee; then do thou take her and carry her whither thou wilt." He thanked her for her good offices and with flowing tears repeated these couplets,
"Now with their says and saids no more vex me the chiding race; * My heart is weary and I'm worn to bone by their disgrace:
And tears a truthful legend with a long ascription-chain * Of my desertion and distress the lineage can trace.
O thou heart-whole and free from dole and dolours I endure, * Cut short thy long persistency nor question of my case:
A sweet-lipped one and soft of sides and cast in shapeliest mould * Hath stormed my heart with honied lure and honied words of grace.
No rest my heart hath known since thou art gone, nor ever close * These eyes, nor patience aloe scape the hopes I dare to trace:
Ye have abandoned me to be the pawn of vain desire, * In squalid state 'twixt enviers and they who blame to face:
As for forgetting you or love 'tis thing I never knew; * Nor in my thought shall ever pass a living thing but you."
And when he ended his verses, he sighed and shed tears and repeated also these couplets,
"Divinely were inspired his words who brought me news of you; * For brought he unto me a gift was music in mine ear:
Take he for gift, if him content, this worn-out threadbare robe, * My heart, which was in pieces torn when parting from my fete."
He waited till night darkened and, when came the appointed time, he went to the quarter she had described to him and saw and recognised the Christian's house; so he sat down on the bench under the gallery. Presently drowsiness overcame him and he slept (Glory be to Him who sleepeth not!?, for it was long since he had tasted sleep, by reason of the violence of his passion, and he became as one drunken with slumber. And while he was on this wise,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and Seventeenth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that while he lay asleep, behold, a certain thief, who had come out that night and prowled about the skirts of the city to steal-somewhat, happened by the decree of Destiny, on the Nazarene's house. He went round about it, but found no way of climbing up into it, and presently on his circuit he came to the bench, where he saw Ali Shar asleep and stole his turband; and, as he was taking it suddenly Zumurrud looked out and seeing the thief standing in the darkness, took him for her lord; whereupon she let herself down to him by the rope with a pair of saddle-bags full of gold. Now when the robber saw that, he said to himself, "This is a wondrous thing, and there must needs be some marvellous cause to it." Then he snatched up the saddle-bags, and threw Zumurrud over his shoulders and made off with both like the blinding lightening. Quoth she, "Verily, the old woman told me that thou west weak with illness on my account; and here thou art, stronger than a horse." He made her no reply; so she put her hand to his face and felt a beard like the broom of palm-frond used for the Hammam, as if he were a hog which had swallowed feathers and they had come out of his gullet; whereat she took fright and said to him, "What art thou?" "O strumpet," answered he, "I am the sharper Jawán the Kurd, of the band of Ahmad al-Danaf; we are forty sharpers, who will all piss our tallow into thy womb this night, from dusk to dawn." When she heard his words, she wept and beat her face, knowing that Fate had gotten the better of her and that she had no resource but resignation and to put her trust in Allah Almighty. So she took patience and submitted herself to the ordinance of the Lord, saying, "There is no god but the God! As often as we escape from one woe, we fall into a worse." Now the cause of Jawan's coming thither was this: he had said to Calamity-Ahmad, "O Sharper-captain, I have been in this city before and know a cavern without the walls which will hold forty souls; so I will go before you thither and set my mother therein. Then will I return to the city and steal-somewhat for the luck of all of you and keep it till you come; so shall you be my guests and I will show you hospitality this day." Replied Ahmad al-Danaf, "Do what thou wilt." So Jawan went forth to the place before them and set his mother in the cave; but, as he came out he found a trooper lying asleep, with his horse picketed beside him; so he cut his throat and, taking his clothes and his charger and his arms, hid them with his mother in the cave, where also he tethered the horse. Then he betook himself to the city and prowled about, till he happened on the Christian's house and did with Ali Shar's turband and Zumurrud and her saddle-bags as we have said. He ceased not to run, with Zumurrud on his back, till he came to the cavern, where he gave her in charge of his mother, saying, "Keep thou watch over her till I return to thee at first dawn of day," and went his ways.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and Eighteenth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that quoth Kurdish Jawan to his mother, "Keep thou watch over her till I come back to thee at first dawn of day," and went his ways. Now Zumurrud said to herself, "Why am I so heedless about saving my life and wherefore await till these forty men come?: they will take their turns to board me, till they make me like a water- logged ship at sea." Then she turned to the old woman, Jawan's mother, and said to her, "O my aunt, wilt thou not rise up and come without the cave, that I may louse thee in the sun?" Replied the old woman, "Ay, by Allah, O my daughter: this long time have I been out of reach of the bath; for these hogs cease not to carry me from place to place." So they went without the cavern, and Zumurrud combed out her head hair and killed the lice on her locks, till the tickling soothed her and she fell asleep; whereupon Zumurrud arose and, donning the clothes of the murdered trooper, girt her waist with his sword and covered her head with his turband, so that she became as she were a man. Then, mounting the horse after she had taken the saddle-bags full of gold, she breathed a prayer, "O good Protector, protect me I adjure thee by the glory of Mohammed (whom Allah bless and preserve!)," adding these words in thought, "If I return to the city belike one of the trooper's folk will see me, and no good will befal me." So she turned her back on the town and rode forth into the wild and the waste. And she ceased not faring forth with her saddle-bags and the steed, eating of the growth of the earth and drinking of its waters, she and her horse, for ten days and, on the eleventh, she came in sight of a city pleasant and secure from dread, and established in happy stead. Winter had gone from it with his cold showers, and Prime had come to it with his roses and orange- blossoms and varied flowers; and its blooms were brightly blowing; its streams were merrily flowing and its birds warbled coming and going. And she drew near the dwellings and would have entered the gate when she saw the troops and Emirs and Grandees of the place drawn up, whereat she marvelled seeing them in such unusual-case and said to herself, "The people of the city are all gathered at its gate: needs must there be a reason for this." Then she made towards them; but, as she drew near, the soldiery dashed forward to meet her and, dismounting all, kissed the ground between her hands and said, "Aid thee Allah, O our lord the Sultan!" Then the notables and dignitaries ranged themselves before her in double line, whilst the troops ordered the people in, saying, "Allah aid thee and make thy coming a blessing to the Moslems, O Sultan of all creatures! Allah establish thee, O King of the time and union-pearl of the day and the tide!" Asked Zumurrud, "What aileth you, O people of this city?" And the Head Chamberlain answered, "Verily, He hath given to thee who is no niggard in His giving; and He hath been bountiful to thee and hath made thee Sultan of this city and ruler over the necks of all who are therein; for know thou it is the custom of the citizens, when their King deceaseth leaving no son, that the troops should sally forth to the suburbs and sojourn there three days: and whoever cometh from the quarter whence thou hast come, him they make King over them. So praised be Allah who hath sent us of the sons of the Turks a well-favoured man; for had a lesser than thou presented himself, he had been Sultan." Now Zumurrud was clever and well-advised in all she did: so she said, "Think not that I am of the common folk of the Turks! nay, I am of the sons of the great, a man of condition; but I was wroth with my family, so I went forth and left them. See these saddle-bags full of gold which I have brought under me that, by the way, I might give alms thereof to the poor and the needy." So they called down blessings upon her and rejoiced in her with exceeding joy and she also joyed in them and said in herself, "Now that I have attained to this"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and Nineteenth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that quoth Zumurrud to herself, "Now that I have attained to this case, haply Allah will reunite me with my lord in this place, for He can do whatso He willeth." Then the troops escorted her to the city and, all dismounting, walked before her to the palace. Here she alighted and the Emirs and Grandees, taking her under both armpits, carried her into the palace and seated her on the throne; after which they all kissed ground before her. And when duly enthroned she bade them open the treasuries and gave largesse to all the troops, who offered up prayers for the continuance of her reign, and all the townsfolk accepted her rule and all the lieges of the realm. Thus she abode awhile bidding and forbidding, and all the people came to hold her in exceeding reverence and heartily to love her, by reason of her continence and generosity; for taxes she remitted and prisoners she released and grievances she redressed; but, as often as she bethought her of her lord, she wept and besought Allah to reunite her and him; and one night, as she chanced to be thinking of him and calling to mind the days she had passed with him, her eyes ran over with tears and she versified in these two couplets,
"My yearning for thee though long is fresh, * And the tears which chafe these eyelids increase
When I weep, I weep from the burn of love, * For to lover severance is decease."
And when she had ended her verse, she wiped away her tears and repairing to the palace, betook herself to the Harim, where she appointed to the slave-girls and concubines separate lodgings and assigned them pensions and allowances, giving out that she was minded to live apart and devote herself to works of piety. So she applied herself to fasting and praying, till the Emirs said, "Verily this Sultan is eminently devout;" nor would she suffer any male attendants about her, save two little eunuchs to serve her. And on this wise she held the throne a whole year, during which time she heard no news of her lord, and failed to hit upon his traces, which was exceeding grievous to her; so, when her distress became excessive, she summoned her Wazirs and Chamberlains and bid them fetch architects and builders and make her in front of the palace a horse-course, one parasang long and the like broad. They hastened to do her bidding, and lay out the place to her liking; and, when it was completed, she went down into it and they pitched her there a great pavilion, wherein the chairs of the Emirs were ranged in due order. Moreover, she bade them spread on the racing-plain tables with all manners of rich meats and when this was done she ordered the Grandees to eat. So they ate and she said to them, "It is my will that, on seeing the new moon of each month, ye do on this wise and proclaim in the city that no man shall open his shop, but that all our lieges shall come and eat of the King's banquet, and that whoso disobeyeth shall be hanged over his own door." So they did as she bade them, and ceased not so to do till the first new moon of the second year appeared; when Zumurrud went down into the horse-course and the crier proclaimed aloud, saying, "Ho, ye lieges and people one and all, whoso openeth store or shop or house shall straight way be hanged over his own door; for it behoveth you to come in a body and eat of the King's banquet." And when the proclamation became known, they laid the tables and the subjects came in hosts; so she bade them sit down at the trays and eat their fill of all the dishes. Accordingly they sat down and she took place on her chair of state, watching them, whilst each who was at meat said to himself, "Verily the King looketh at none save me." Then they fell to eating and the Emirs said to them, "Eat and be not ashamed; for this pleaseth the King." So they ate their fill and went away, blessing the Sovereign and saying, one to the other, "Never in our days saw we a Sultan who loved the poor as doth this Sultan." And they wished him length of life. Upon this Zumurrud returned to her palace,-- And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and Twentieth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Queen Zumurrud returned to her palace, rejoicing in her device and saying to herself, "Inshallah, I shall surely by this means happen on news of my lord Ali Shar." When the first day of the second month came round, she did as before and when they had spread the tables she came down from her palace and took place on her throne and commanded the lieges to sit down and fall to. Now as she sat on her throne, at the head of the tables, watching the people take their places company by company and one by one, behold her eye fell on Barsum, the Nazarene who had bought the curtain of her lord; and she knew him and said in her mind, "This is the first of my joy and the winning of my wish." Then Barsum came up to the table and, sitting down with the rest to eat, espied a dish of sweet rice, sprinkled with sugar; but it was far from him, so he pushed up to it through the crowd and, putting out his hand to it, seized it and set it before himself. His next neighbour said to him, "Why dost thou not eat of what is before thee? Is not this a disgrace to thee? How canst thou reach over for a dish which is distant from thee? Art thou not ashamed?" Quoth Barsum, "I will eat of none save this same." Rejoined the other, "Eat then, and Allah give thee no good of it!" But another man, a Hashish-eater, said, "Let him eat of it, that I may eat with him." Replied his neighbour, "O unluckiest of Hashish- eaters, this is no meat for thee; it is eating for Emirs. Let it be, that it may return to those for whom it is meant and they eat it." But Barsum heeded him not and took a mouthful of the rice and put it in his mouth; and was about to take a second mouthful when the Queen, who was watching him, cried out to certain of her guards, saying, "Bring me yonder man with the dish of Sweet rice before him and let him not eat the mouthful he hath read but throw it from his hand." So four of the guards went up to Barsum and haled him along on his face, after throwing the mouthful of rice from his hand, and set him standing before Zumurrud, whilst all the people left eating and said to one another, By Allah, he did wrong in not eating of the food meant for the likes of him." Quoth one, "For me I was content with this porridge which is before me." And the Hashish-eater said, "Praised be Allah who hindered me from eating of the dish of sugared rice for I expected it to stand before him and was waiting only for him to have his enjoyment of it, to eat with him, when there befel him what we see." And the general said, one to other, "Wait till we see what shall befal him." Now as they brought him before Queen Zumurrud she cried, "Woe to thee, O blue eyes! What is thy name and why comest thou to our country?" But the accursed called himself out of his name having a white turband on, and answered, "O King, my name is Ali; I work as a weaver and I came hither to trade." Quoth Zumurrud, "Bring me a table of sand and a pen of brass," and when they brought her what she sought, she took the sand and the pen, and struck a geomantic figure in the likeness of a baboon; then, raising her head, she looked hard at Barsum for an hour or so and said to him, "O dog, how darest thou lie to Kings? Art thou not a Nazarene, Barsum by name, and comest thou not hither in quest of somewhat? Speak the truth, or by the glory of the Godhead, I will strike off thy head!" At this Barsum was confounded and the Emirs and bystanders said, "Verily, this King understandeth geomancy: blessed be He who hath gifted him!" Then she cried out upon the Christian and said, 'Tell me the truth, or I will make an end of thee!" Barsum replied, "Pardon, O King of the age; thou art right as regards the table, for the far one is indeed a Nazarene,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and Twenty-first Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Barsum replied, "Pardon, O King of the age; thou art right as regards the table, for thy slave is indeed a Nazarene." Whereupon all present, gentle and simple, wondered at the King's skill in hitting upon the truth by geomancy, and said, "Verily this King is a diviner, whose like there is not in the world." Thereupon Queen Zumurrud bade flay the Nazarene and stuff his skin with straw and hang it over the gate of the race-course. Moreover, she commended to dig a pit without the city and burn therein his flesh and bones and throw over his ashes offal and ordure. "We hear and obey," answered they, and did with him all she bade; and, when the folk saw what had befallen the Christian, they said, "Serve him right; but what an unlucky mouthful was that for him!" And another said, "Be the far one's wife divorced if this vow be broken: never again to the end of my days will I eat of sugared rice!"; and the Hashish-eater cried "Praised be Allah, who spared me this fellow's fate by saving me from eating of that same rice!" Then they all went out, holding it thenceforth unlawful to sit over against the dish of sweet rice as the Nazarene had sat. Now when the first day of the third month came, they laid the tables according to custom, and covered them with dishes and chargers, and Queen Zumurrud came down and sat on her throne, with her guards in attendance, as of wont, in awe of her dignity and majesty. Then the townsfolk entered as before and went round about the tables, looking for the place of the dish of sweet rice, and quoth one to another, "Hark ye, O Hájí Khalaf!"; and the other answered, "At thy service, O Hájí Khálid." Said Khálid, "Avoid the dish of sweet rice and look thou eat not thereof; for, if thou do, by early morning thou will be hanged." Then they sat down to meat around the table; and, as they were eating, Queen Zumurrud chanced to look from her throne and saw a man come running in through the gate of the horse-course; and having considered him attentively, she knew him for Jawan the Kurdish thief who murdered the trooper. Now the cause of his coming was this: when he left his mother, he went to his comrades and said to them, "I did good business yesterday; for I slew a trooper and took his horse. Moreover there fell to me last night a pair of saddle-bags, full of gold, and a young lady worth more than the money in pouch; and I have left all that with my mother in the cave." At this they rejoiced and repaired to the cavern at night-fall, whilst Jawan the Kurd walked in front and the rest behind; he wishing to bring them the booty of which he had boasted. But he found the place clean empty and questioned his mother, who told him all that had befallen her; whereupon he bit his hands for regret and exclaimed, "By Allah, I will assuredly make search for the harlot and take her, wherever she is, though it be in the shell of a pistachio-nut, and quench my malice on her!" So he went forth in quest of her and ceased not journeying from place to place, till he came to Queen Zumurrud's city. On entering he found the town deserted and, enquiring of some women whom he saw looking from the windows, they told him that it was the Sultan's custom to make a banquet for the people on the first of each month and that all the lieges were bound to go and eat of it. Furthermore the women directed him to the racing-ground, where the feast was spread. So he entered at a shuffling trot; and, finding no place empty, save that before the dish of sweet rice already noticed, took his seat right opposite it and stretched out his hand towards the dish; whereupon the folk cried out to him, saying, "O our brother, what wouldst thou do?" Quoth he, "I would eat my fill of this dish." Rejoined one of the people, "If thou eat of it thou wilt assuredly find thyself hanged to-morrow morning." But Jawan said, "Hold thy tongue and talk not so unpleasantly." Then he stretched out his hand to the dish and drew it to him; but it so chanced that the Hashish-eater of whom we have spoken, was sitting by him; and when he saw him take the dish, the fumes of the Hashish left his head and he fled from his place and sat down afar off, saying, "I will have nothing to do with yonder dish." Then Jawan the Kurd put out his hand (which was very like a raven's claws, scooped up therewith half the dishful and drew out his neave as it were a camel's hoof,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and Twenty-second Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Jawan the Kurd drew his neave from the dish as it were a camel's hoof and rolled the lump of rice in the palm of his hand, till it was like a big orange, and threw it ravenously into his mouth; and it rolled down his gullet, with a rumble like thunder and the bottom of the deep dish appeared where said mouthful had been. Thereupon quoth to him one sitting by his side, "Praised be Allah for not making me meat between thy hands; for thou hast cleared the dish at a single mouthful;" and quoth the Hashish-eater, "Let him eat; methinks he hath a hanging face." Then, turning to Jawan he added, "Eat and Allah give thee small good of it." So Jawan put out his hand again and taking another mouthful, was rolling it in his palm like the first, when behold, the Queen cried out to the guards saying, "Bring me yonder man in haste and let him not eat the mouthful in his hand." So they ran and seizing him as he hung over the dish, brought him to her, and set him in her presence, whilst the people exulted over his mishap and said one to the other, "Serve him right, for we warned him, but he would not take warning. Verily, this place is bound to be the death of whoso sitteth therein, and yonder rice bringeth doom to all who eat of it." Then said Queen Zumurrud to Jawan, "What is thy name and trade and wherefore comest thou to our city?" Answered he, "O our lord the Sultan, my name is Othman; I work as a gardener and am come hither in quest of somewhat I have lost." Quoth Zumurrud, "Here with a table of sand!" So they brought it, and she took the pen and drawing a geomantic scheme, considered it awhile, then raising her head, exclaimed, "Woe to thee, thou loser! How darest thou lie to Kings? This sand telleth me that of a truth thy name is Jawan the Kurd and that thou art by trade a robber, taking men's goods in the way of unright and slaying those whom Allah hath forbidden to slay save for just cause." And she cried out upon him, saying, "O hog, tell me the truth of thy case or I will cut off thy head on the spot." Now when he heard these words, he turned yellow and his teeth chattered; then, deeming that he might save himself by truth-telling, he replied, "O King, thou sayest sooth; but I repent at thy hands henceforth and turn to Allah Almighty!" She answered, "It were not lawful for me to leave a pest in the way of Moslems;" and cried to her guards, "Take him and skin him and do with him as last month ye did by his like." They obeyed her commandment; and, when the Hashish- eater saw the soldiers seize the man, he turned his back upon the dish of rice, saying, "'Tis a sin to present my face to thee!" And after they had made an end of eating, they dispersed to their several homes and Zumurrud returned to her palace and dismissed her attendants. Now when the fourth month came round, they went to the race-course and made the banquet, according to custom, and the folk sat awaiting leave to begin. Presently Queen Zumurrud entered and, sitting down on her throne, looked at the tables and saw that room for four people was left void before the dish of rice, at which she wondered. Now as she was looking around, behold, she saw a man come trotting in at the gate of the horse- course; and he stayed not till he stood over the food-trays; and, finding no room save before the dish of rice, took his seat there. She looked at him and knowing him for the accursed Christian who called himself Rashid al-Din, said in her mind, "How blessed is this device of the food, into whose toils this infidel hath fallen" Now the cause of his coming was extraordinary, and it was on this wise. When he returned from his travels,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and Twenty-third Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the accursed, who had called himself Rashid al-Din, returned from travel, his household informed him that Zumurrud was missing and with her a pair of saddle-bags full of money; on hearing which ill tidings he rent his raiment and buffeted his face and plucked out his beard. Then he despatched his brother Barsum in quest of her to lands adjoining and, when he was weary of awaiting news of him, he went forth himself, to seek for him and for the girl, whenas fate led him to the city of Zumurrud. He entered it on the first day of the month and finding the streets deserted and the shops shut and women idling at the windows, he asked them the reason why, and they told him that the King made a banquet on the first of each month for the people, all of whom were bound to attend it, nor might any abide in his house or shop that day; and they directed him to the racing-plain. So he betook himself thither and found the people crowding about the food, and there was never a place for him save in front of the rice-dish now well-known. Here then he sat and put forth his hand to eat thereof, whereupon Zumurrud cried out to her guards, saying, "Bring me him who sitteth over against the dish of rice." So they knew him by what had before happened and laid hands on him and brought him before Queen Zumurrud, who said to him, "Out on thee! What is thy name and trade, and what bringeth thee to our city?" Answered he, "O King of the age, my name is Rustam and I have no occupation, for I am a poor dervish." Then said she to her attendants, "Bring me table of sand and pen of brass." So they brought her what she sought, as of wont; and she took the pen and made the dots which formed the figure and considered it awhile, then raising her head to Rashid al-Din, she said, "O dog, how darest thou lie to Kings? Thy name is Rashid al-Din the Nazarene, thou art outwardly a Moslem, but a Christian at heart, and thine occupation is to lay snares for the slave-girls of the Moslems and make them captives. Speak the truth, or I will smite off thy head." He hesitated and stammered, then replied, "Thou sayest sooth, O King of the age!" Whereupon she commanded to throw him down and give him an hundred blows with a stick on each sole and a thousand stripes with a whip on his body; after which she bade flay him and stuff his skin with herds of flax and dig a pit without the city, wherein they should burn his corpse and cast on his ashes offal-and ordure. They did as she bade them and she gave the people leave to eat. So they ate and when they had eaten their fill they went their ways, while Queen Zumurrud returned to her palace, saying, "I thank Allah for solacing my heart of those who wronged me." Then she praised the Creator of the earth and the heavens and repeated these couplets,
"They ruled awhile and theirs was harsh tyrannic rule, * But soon that rule went by as though it never were:
If just they had won justice; but they sinned, and so * The world collected all its bane for them to bear:
So died they and their case's tongue declares aloud * This is for that so of the world your blaming spare."
And when her verse was ended she called to mind her lord Ali Shar and wept flowing tears; but presently recovered herself and said, "Haply Allah, who hath given mine enemies into my hand, will vouchsafe me the speedy return of my beloved;" and she begged forgiveness of Allah (be He extolled and exalted')--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and Twenty-fourth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Queen begged forgiveness of Allah (be He extolled and exalted!), and said, "Haply He will vouchsafe me speedy reunion with my beloved Ali Shar for He can do what He willeth and to His servants showeth grace, ever mindful of their case!" Then she praised Allah and again besought forgiveness of Him, submitting herself to the decrees of destiny, assured that each beginning hath his end, and repeating the saying of the poet,
"Take all things easy; for all worldly things * In Allah's hand are ruled by Destiny:
Ne'er shall befal thee aught of things forbidden, * Nor what is bidden e'er shall fail to thee!"
And what another saith.
"Roll up thy days and easy shall they roll * Through life, nor haunt the house of grief and dole:
Full many a thing, which is o'er hard to find,* Next hour shall bring thee to delight thy soul."
And what a third saith,
"Be mild what time thou'rt ta'en with anger and despite * And patient, if there fall misfortune on thy head.
Indeed, the nights are quick and great with child by Time * And of all wondrous things are hourly brought to bed."
And what a fourth saith,
"Take patience which breeds good if patience thou can learn; * Be calm soured, scaping anguish-draughts that gripe and bren:
Know, that if patience with good grace thou dare refuse, * With ill-graced patience thou shalt bear what wrote the Pen."
After which she abode thus another whole month's space, judging the folk and bidding and forbidding by day, and by night weeping and bewailing her separation from her lord Ali Shar. On the first day of the fifth month, she bade them spread the banquet on the race-plain, according to custom, and sat down at the head of the tables, whilst the lieges awaited the signal to fall to, leaving the place before the dish of rice vacant. She sat with eyes fixed upon the gate of the horse-course, noting all who entered and saying in her soul, "O Thou who restoredest Joseph to Jacob and diddest away the sorrows of Job, vouchsafe of Thy might and Thy majesty to restore me my lord Ali Shar; for Thou over all things art Omnipotent, O Lord of the Worlds! O Guide of those who go astray! O Hearer of those that cry! O Answerer of those who pray, answer Thou my prayer, O Lord of all creatures." Now hardly had she made an end of her prayer and supplication when behold, she saw entering the gate of the horse-plain a young man, in shape like a willow branch, the comeliest of youths and the most accomplished, save that his face was wan and his form wasted by weariness. Now as he entered and came up to the tables, he found no seat vacant save that over against the dish of sweet rice so he sat down there; and, when Zumurrud looked upon him, her heart fluttered and, observing him narrowly, she knew him for her lord Ali Shar, and was like to have cried out for joy, but restrained herself, fearing disgrace before the folk and, albeit her bowels yearned over him and her heart beat wildly, she hid what she felt. Now the cause of his coming thither was on this wise. After he fell asleep upon the bench and Zumurrud let herself down to him and Jawan the Kurd seized her, he presently awoke and found himself lying with his head bare, so he knew that some one had come upon him and had robbed him of his turband whilst he slept. So he spoke the saying which shall never shame its sayer and, which is, "Verily, we are Allah's and to Him are we returning!" and, going back to the old woman's house, knocked at the door. She came out and he wept before her, till he fell down in a fainting fit. Now when he came to himself, he told her all that had passed, and she blamed him and chid him for his foolish doings saying, "Verily thine affliction and calamity come from thyself." And she gave not over reproaching him, till the blood streamed from his nostrils and he again fainted away. When he recovered from his swoon,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and Twenty-fifth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Ali Shar recovered from his swoon he saw the old woman bewailing his griefs and weeping over him; so he complained of his hard lot and repeated these two couplets,
"How bitter to friends is a parting, * And a meeting how sweet to the lover!
Allah join all the lovers He parteth, * And save me who of love ne'er recover."
The old woman mourned over him and said to him, "Sit here, whilst I go in quest of news for thee and return to thee in haste." "To hear is to obey," answered he. So she left him on her good errand and was absent till midday, when she returned and said to him, "O Ali, I fear me thou must die in thy grief; thou wilt never see thy beloved again save on the bridge Al-Sirát; for the people of the Christian's house, when they arose in the morning, found the window giving on the garden torn from its hinges and Zumurrud missing, and with her a pair of saddle-bags full of the Christian's money. And when I came thither, I saw the Chief of Police standing at the door, he and his many, and there is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!" Now, as Ali Shar heard these words, the light in his sight was changed to the darkness of night and he despaired of life and made sure of death; nor did he leave weeping, till he lost his senses. When he revived, love and longing were sore upon him; there befel him a grievous sickness and he kept his house a whole year; during which the old woman ceased not to bring him doctors and ply him with ptisanes and diet-drinks and make him savoury broths till, after the twelve-month ended, his life returned to him. Then he recalled what had passed and repeated these couplets,
"Severance-grief nighmost, Union done to death, * Down-railing tear-drops, heart fire tortureth!
Redoubleth pine in one that hath no peace * For love and wake and woe he suffereth:
O Lord, if there be thing to joy my soul * Deign Thou bestow it while I breathe my breath."
When the second year began, the old woman said to him, "O my son, all this thy weeping and wailing will not bring thee back thy mistress. Rise, therefore, gird the loins of resolution and seek for her in the lands: peradventure thou shalt light on some news of her." And she ceased not to exhort and hearten him, till he took courage and she carried him to the Hammam. Then she made him drink strong wine and eat white meats, and thus she did with him for a whole month, till he regained strength; and setting out journeyed without ceasing till he arrived at Zumurrud's city where he went to the horse-course, and sat down before the dish of sweet rice and put out his hand to eat of it. Now when the folk saw this, they were concerned for him and said to him, "O young man, eat not of that dish, for whoso eateth thereof, misfortune befalleth him." Answered he, "Leave me to eat of it, and let them do with me what they will, so haply shall I be at rest from this wearying life." Accordingly he ate a first mouthful, and Zumurrud was minded to have him brought before her, but then she bethought her that belike he was an hungered and said to herself, "It were properer to let him eat his fill." So he went on eating, whilst the folk looked at him in astonishment, waiting to see what would betide him; and, when he had satisfied himself, Zumurrud said to certain of her eunuchry, "Go to yonder youth who eateth of the rice and bring him to me in courteous guise, saying: 'Answer the summons of the King who would have a word with thee on some slight matter.'" They replied, "We hear and obey," and going straightways up to Ali Shar, said to him, "O my lord, be pleased to answer the summons of the King and let thy heart be at ease." Quoth he, "Hearkening and obedience;" and followed the eunuchs,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and Twenty-sixth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Ali Shar rejoined, "Hearkening and obedience;" and followed the eunuchs, whilst the people said to one another, "There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! I wonder what the King will do with him!" And others said, "He will do him naught but good: for had he intended to harm him, he had not suffered him to eat his fill." Now when the Castratos set him in presence of Zumurrud he saluted and kissed the earth before her, whilst she returned his salutation and received him with honour. Then she asked him, "What may be thy name and trade, and what brought thee to our city?"; and he answered, "O King my name is Ali Shar; I am of the sons of the merchants of Khorasan; and the cause of my coming hither is to seek for a slave-girl whom I have lost for she was dearer to me than my hearing and my seeing, and indeed my soul cleaveth to her, since I lost her; and such is my tale." So saying he wept, till he swooned away; whereupon she bade them sprinkle rose-water on his face, which they did till he revived, when she said, "Here with the table of sand and the brass pen." So they brought them and she took the pen and struck a geomantic scheme which she considered awhile; and then cried, "Thou hast spoken sooth, Allah will grant thee speedy reunion with her; so be not troubled." Upon this she commanded her head- chamberlain to carry him to the bath and afterwards to clothe him in a handsome suit of royal-apparel, and mount him on one of the best of the King's horses and finally bring him to the palace at the last of the day. So the Chamberlain, after saying "I hear and I obey," took him away, whilst the folk began to say to one another, "What maketh the King deal thus courteously with yonder youth?" And quoth one, "Did I not tell you that he would do him no hurt?; for he is fair of aspect; and this I knew, ever since the King suffered him to eat his fill." And each said his say; after which they all dispersed and went their ways. As for Zumurrud, she thought the night would never come, that she might be alone with the beloved of her heart. As soon as it was dark, she withdrew to her sleeping-chamber and made her attendants think her overcome with sleep; and it was her wont to suffer none to pass the night with her save those two little eunuchs who waited upon her. After a while when she had composed herself, she sent for her dear Ali Shar and sat down upon the bed, with candles burning over her head and feet, and hanging lamps of gold lighting up the place like the rising sun. When the people heard of her sending for Ali Shar, they marvelled thereat and each man thought his thought and said his say; but one of them declared, "At all events the King is in love with this young man, and to- morrow he will make him generalissimo of the army." Now when they brought him into her, he kissed the ground between her hands and called down blessings her, and she said in her mind, "There is no help for it but that I jest with him awhile, before I make myself known to him.'' Then she asked him, "O Ali, say me, hast thou been to the Hammam?" and he answered, "Yes, O my lord." Quoth she, "Come, eat of this chicken and meat, and drink of this wine and sherbet of sugar; for thou art weary; and after that come thou hither." "I hear and I obey," replied he and did as she commanded him do. Now when he had made an end of eating and drinking, she said to him, "Come up with me on the couch and shampoo my feet." So he fell to rubbing feet and kneading calves, and found them softer than silk. Then said she, "Go higher with the massage;" and he, "Pardon me, O my lord, to the knee but no farther!" Whereupon quoth she, "Durst thou disobey me?: it shall be an ill-omened night for thee!"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and Twenty-seventh Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Zumurrud cried to her lord, Ali Shar, "Durst thou disobey me?: it shall be an ill-omened night for thee! Nay, but it behoveth thee to do my bidding and I will make thee my minion and appoint thee one of my Emirs." Asked Ali Shar, "And in what must I do thy bidding, O King of the age?" and she answered, "Doff thy trousers and lie down on thy face." Quoth he, "That is a thing in my life I never did; and if thou force me thereto, verily I will accuse thee thereof before Allah on Resurrection-day. Take everything thou hast given me and let me go from thy city." And he wept and lamented; but she said, "Doff thy trousers and lie down on thy face, or I will strike off thy head." So he did as she bade him and she mounted upon his back; and he felt what was softer than silk and smoother than cream and said in himself, "Of a truth, this King is nicer than all the women!" Now for a time she abode on his back, then she turned over on the bed, and he said to himself, "Praised be Allah! It seemeth his yard is not standing." Then said she, "O Ali, it is of the wont of my prickle that it standeth not, except they rub it with their hands; so, come, rub it with thy hand, till it be at stand, else will I slay thee." So saying, she lay down on her back and taking his hand, set it to her parts, and he found these same parts softer than silk; white, plumply-rounded, protuberant, resembling for heat the hot room of the bath or the heart of a lover whom love-longing hath wasted. Quoth Ali in himself, "Verily, our King hath a coynte; this is indeed a wonder of wonders!" And lust get hold on him and his yard rose and stood upright to the utmost of its height; which when Zumurrud saw, she burst out laughing and said to him, "O my lord, all this happeneth and yet thou knowest me not!" He asked "And who art thou, O King?"; and she answered, "I am thy slave- girl Zumurrud." Now whenas he knew this and was certified that she was indeed his very slave-girl, Zumurrud, he kissed her and embraced her and threw himself upon her as the lion upon the lamb. Then he sheathed his steel rod in her scabbard and ceased not to play the porter at her door and the preacher in her pulpit and the priest at her prayer niche, whilst she with him ceased not from inclination and prostration and rising up and sitting down, accompanying her ejaculations of praise and of "Glory to Allah!" with passionate movements and wrigglings and claspings of his member and other amorous gestures, till the two little eunuchs heard the noise. So they came and peeping from behind the curtains saw the King lying on his back and upon him Ali Shar, thrusting and slashing whilst she puffed and blew and wriggled. Quoth they, "Verily, this be no man's wriggle: belike this King is a woman.'' But they concealed their affair and discovered it to none. And when the morrow came, Zumurrud summoned all the troops and the lords of the realm and said to them, "I am minded to journey to this man's country; so choose you a viceroy, who shall rule over you till I return to you." And they answered, "We hear and we obey." Then she applied herself to making ready the wants of the way, to wit provaunt and provender, monies and rarities for presents, camels and mules and so forth; after which she set out from her city with Ali Shar, and they ceased not faring on, till they arrived at his native place, where he entered his house and gave many gifts to his friends and alms and largesse to the poor. And Allah vouchsafed him children by her, and they both lived the gladdest and happiest of lives, till there came to them the Destroyer of delights and the Severer of societies and the Garnerer of graves. And glorified be He the Eternal without cease, and praised be He in every case! And amongst other tales they tell one of...
[Go to The Loves of Jubayr Bin Umayr and the Lady Budur]
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