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Burton: Tale of the Hashish Eater

[Go back to Tale of King Omar Bin Al-Nu'uman and His Sons Sharrkan and Zau Al-Makan (cont.)]

A certain man loved fair women, and spent his substance on them, till he became so poor that nothing remained to him; the world was straitened upon him and he used to go about the market- streets begging his daily bread. Once upon a time as he went along, behold, a bit of iron nail pierced his finger and drew blood; so he sat down and wiping away the blood, bound up his finger. Then he arose crying out, and fared forwards till he came to a Hammam and entering took off his clothes, and when he looked about him he found it clean and empty. So he sat him down by the fountain-basin, and ceased not pouring water on his head, till he was tired.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the One Hundred and Forty-third Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the man sat down by the fountain basin and ceased not pouring water on his head till he was tired. Then he went out to the room in which was the cistern of cold water; and seeing no one there, he found a quiet corner and taking out a piece of Hashish, swallowed it. Presently the fumes mounted to his brain and he rolled over on to the marble floor. Then the Hashish made him fancy that a great lord was shampooing him and that two slaves stood at his head, one bearing a bowl and the other washing gear and all the requisites of the Hammam. When he saw this, he said in himself, "Meseemeth these here be mistaken in me; or else they are of the company of us Hashish-eaters." Then he stretched out his legs and he imagined that the bathman said to him, "O my master, the time of thy going up to the Palace draweth near and it is to-day thy turn of service." At this he laughed and said to himself, "As Allah willeth, O Hashish!" Then he sat and said nothing, whilst the bathman arose and took him by the hand and girt his middle with a waist-cloth of black silk, after which the two slaves followed him with the bowls and gear, and they ceased not escorting him till they brought him into a cabinet, wherein they set incense and perfumes a-burning. He found the place full of various kinds of fruits and sweet-scented flowers, and they sliced him a watermelon and seated him on a stool of ebony, whilst the bathman stood to wash him and the slaves poured water on him; after which they rubbed him down well and said, "O our lord, Sir Wazir, health to thee forever!" Then they went out and shut the door on him; and in the vanity of phantasy he arose and removed the waist-cloth from his middle, and laughed till he well nigh fainted. He gave not over laughing for some time and at last quoth he to himself, "What aileth them to address me as if I were a Minister and style me Master, and Sir? Haply they are now blundering; but after an hour they will know me and say, This fellow is a beggar; and take their fill of cuffing me on the neck." Presently, feeling hot he opened the door, whereupon it seemed to him that a little white slave and an eunuch came in to him carrying a parcel. Then the slave opened it and brought out three kerchiefs of silk, one of which he threw over his head, a second over his shoulders and a third he tied round his waist. Moreover, the eunuch gave him a pair of bath- clogs, and he put them on; after which in came white slaves and eunuchs and sup ported him (and he laughing the while) to the outer hall, which he found hung and spread with magnificent furniture, such as be seemeth none but kings; and the pages hastened up to him and seated him on the divan. Then they fell to kneading him till sleep overcame him; and he dreamt that he had a girl in his arms. So he kissed her and set her between his thighs; then, sitting to her as a man sitteth to a woman, he took yard in hand and drew her towards him and weighed down upon her, when lo! he heard one saying to him, "Awake, thou ne'er-do-well! The noon hour is come and thou art still asleep." He opened his eyes and found him self lying on the merge of the cold-water tank, amongst a crowd of people all laughing at him; for his prickle was at point and the napkin had slipped from his middle. So he knew that all this was but a confusion of dreams and an illusion of Hashish and he was vexed and said to him who had aroused him, "Would thou hadst waited till I had put it in!" Then said the folk, "Art thou not ashamed, O Hashish-eater, to be sleeping stark naked with stiff standing tool?" And they cuffed him till his neck was red. Now he was starving, yet forsooth had he savoured the flavour of pleasure in his dream. When Kanmakan heard the bondwoman's tale, he laughed till he fell backward and said to Bakun, "O my nurse, this is indeed a rare story and a delectable; I never heard the like of this anecdote. Say me! hast more?" "Yes," replied she, and she ceased not to tell him merry adventures and laughable absurdities, till sleep overcame him. Then she sat by his head till the most part of the night was past, when she said to herself, "It is time to profit by the occasion." So she sprang to her feet and unsheathed the hanger and rushing up to Kanmakan, was about to cut his throat when behold, his mother came in upon the twain. As soon as Bakun saw her, she rose in respect and advanced to meet her, and fear get hold of her and she fell a- trembling, as if he had the ague. When his mother looked at her she marvelled to see her thus and aroused her son, who awoke and found her sitting at his head. Now the cause of her coming was that Kuzia Fakan overheard the conversation and the concert to kill Kanmakan, and she said to his mother, "O wife of my uncle, go to thy son, ere that wicked whore Bakun murther him;" and she told her what had passed from first to last. So she fared forth at once, and she thought of naught and stayed not for aught till she went in to her son at the very moment when Bakun was about to slay him in his sleep. When he awoke, he said to his mother, "O my mother, indeed thou comest at a good time, for nurse Bakun hath been with me this night." Then he turned to Bakun and asked her, "By my life! knowest thou any story better than those thou hast told me?" She answered, "And where is what I have told thee compared with what I will tell thee?; but however better it be, it must be told at another time." Then she rose to depart, hardly believing, in her escape albeit he said, "Go in peace!" for she perceived by her cunning that his mother knew what had occurred. So she went her way; whereupon his mother said to him, "O my son, blessed be this night, for that Almighty Allah hath delivered thee from this accursed woman." "And how so?" enquired he, and she told him the story from beginning to end. Quoth he, "O my mother, of a truth the live man findeth no slayer, and though slain he shall not die; but now it were wiser that we depart from amongst these enemies and let Allah work what He will." So, when day dawned he left the city and joined the Wazir Dandan, and after his departure, certain things befel between King Sasan and Nuzhat al-Zaman, which compelled her also to quit the city and join herself to them; and presently they were met by all the high officers of King Sasan who inclined to their party. Then they sat in counsel together devising what they should do, and at last all agreed upon a razzia into the land of Roum there to take their revenge for the death of King Omar bin al-Nu'uman and his son Sharrkan. So they set out with this in tent and, after sundry adventures (which it were tedious to tell as will appear from what follows), they fell into the hands of Rumzan, King of the Greeks. Next morning, King Rumzan caused Kanmakan and the Wazir Dandan and their company to be brought before him and, when they came, he seated them at his side, and bade spread the tables of food. So they ate and drank and took heart of grace, after having made sure of death, when they were summoned to the King's presence; and they had said to one another, "He hath not sent for us but to slay us." And when they were comforted the King said, "In truth I have had a dream, which I related to the monks, and they said, "None can expound it to thee save the Wazir Dandan." Quoth the Minister, "Weal it was thou didst see in thy dream, O King of the age!" Quoth the King, "O Wazir, I dreamt that I was in a pit which seemed a black well where multitudes were tormenting me; and I would have risen, but when springing up I fell on my feet and could not get out of that same pit. Then I turned and saw therein a girdle of gold and I stretched out my hand to take it; but when I raised it from the ground, I saw it was two girdles. So I girt my middle with them both and behold, the girdles became one girdle; and this, O Wazir, is my dream and what I saw when my sleep was deepest." Said Dandan, "O our Lord the Sultan! know that this thy dream denoteth thou hast a brother or a brother's son or an uncle's son or other near kinsman of thy flesh and blood whom thou knowest not; withal he is of the noblest of you all." Now when the King heard these words he looked at Kanmakan and Nuzhat al-Zaman and Kuzia Fakan and the Wazir Dandan and the rest of the captives and said to himself, "If I smite these people's necks, their troops will lose heart for the destruction of their chiefs and I shall be able to return speedily to my realm, lest the Kingship pass out of my hands." So having determined upon this he called the Sworder and bade him strike off Kanmakan's head upon the spot and forthright, when lo! up came Rumzan's nurse and said to him, "O auspicious King, what purposest thou?" Quoth he, "I purpose slaughtering these prisoners who are in my power; and after that I will throw their heads among their men: then will I fall upon them, I and all my army in one body, and kill all we can kill and rout the rest: so will this be the decisive action of the war and I shall return speedily to my kingdom ere aught of accident befal among my subjects." When the nurse heard these words, she came up to him and said in the Frankish tongue, "How canst thou prevail upon thyself to slay thine own brother's son, and thy sister, and thy sister's daughter?" When he heard this language, he was wroth with exceeding wrath and said to her, "O accursed woman, didst thou not tell me that my mother was murthered and that my father died by poison? Didst thou not give me a jewel and say to me, 'Of a truth this jewel was thy father's?' Why didst thou not tell me the truth?" Replied she, "All that I told thee is true, but my case and thy case are wonderful and my history and thy his tory are marvellous. My name is Marjanah and thy mother's name was Abrizah: and she was gifted with such beauty and loveliness and velour that proverbs were made of her, and her prowess was renowned among men of war. And thy father was King Omar bin al- Nu'uman, Lord of Baghdad and Khorasan, without doubt or double dealing or denial. He sent his son Sharrkan on a razzia in company with this very Wazir Dandan; and they did all that men can. But Sharrkan, thy brother, who had preceded the force, separated himself from the troops and fell in with thy mother Queen Abrizah in her palace; and we happened to have sought a place apart in order to wrestle, she and I and her other damsels. He came upon us by chance while we were in such case, and wrestled with thy mother, who overcame him by the power of her splendid beauty and by her prowess. Then she entertained him five days in her palace, till the news of this came to her father, by the old woman Shawahi, surnamed Zat al-Dawahi, whereupon she embraced Al-Islam at the hands of Sharrkan, and he took her and carried her by stealth to Baghdad, and with her myself and Rayhanab and twenty other damsels, all of us having, like her, followed the True Faith. When we came into the presence of thy Father, the King Omar bin al-Nu'uman, and he saw thy mother, Queen Abrizah, he fell in love with her and going in unto her one night, had connection with her, and she conceived by him and became with child of thee. Now thy mother had three jewels which she presented to thy father; and he gave one of them to his daughter, Nuzhat al-Zaman, another to thy brother, Zau al- Makan, and the third to thy brother Sharrkan. This last thy mother took from Sharrkan and kept it for thee. But as the time of her delivery drew near she yearned after her own people and disclosed to me her secret; so I went to a black slave called Al- Ghazban; and, privily telling him our case, bribed him to go with us. Accordingly the negro took us and fled the city with us, thy mother being near her time. But as we approached a desert place on the borders of our own country, the pangs of labour came upon thy mother. Then the slave proved himself a lustful villain and approaching her sought of her a shameful thing; whereupon she cried out at him with a loud cry, and was sore affrighted at him. In the excess of her fright she gave birth to thee at once, and at that moment there arose, in the direction of our country, a dust-cloud which towered and flew till it walled the view. Thereupon the slave feared for his life; so he smote Queen Abrizah with his sword and slew her in his fury; then mounting his horse he went his way. Soon after his going, the dust lifted and discovered thy grandfather, King Hardub, Lord of Graecia- land, who, seeing thy mother (and his daughter) lying slain on the plain, was sorely troubled with a distress that redoubled, and questioned me of the manner of her death and the cause of her secretly quitting her father's realm. So I told him all that had passed, first and last; and this is the cause of the feud between the people of the land of the Greeks and the people of the city of Baghdad. Then we bore off thy murthered mother and buried her; and I took thee and reared thee, and hung about thy neck the jewel which was with Queen Abrizah. But, when being grown up thou camest to man's estate, I dared not acquaint thee with the truth of the matter, lest such information stir up a war of blood revenge between you. More over, thy grandfather had enjoined me to secrecy, and I could not gainsay the commandment of thy mother's father, Hardub, King of the Greeks. This, then, is the cause of my concealment and the reason why I forbore to inform thee that thy father was King Omar bin al-Nu'uman; but when thou camest to the throne, I told thee what thou knowest; and I durst not reveal to thee the rest till this moment, O King of the Age! So now I have discovered to thee my secret and my proof, and I have acquainted thee with all I know; and thou reckest best what is in thy mind." Now all the captives had heard the slave woman Marjanah, nurse to King Rumzan, speaking as she spake; when Nuzhat al-Zaman, without stay or delay, cried out, saying, "This King Rumzan is my brother by my father, King Omar bin al-Nu'uman, and his mother was Queen Abrizah, daughter of King Hardub, Lord of the Greeks; and I know this slave-woman Marjanah right well." With this, trouble and perplexity got hold upon Rumzan and he caused Nuzhat al-Zaman to be brought up to him forthright. When he looked upon her, blood yearned to blood and he questioned her of his history. She told him the tale and her story tallied with that of Marjanah, his nurse; whereupon the King was assured that he was, indeed and without a doubt, of the people of Irak; and that King Omar bin al-Nu'uman was his father. So without losing time he caused his sister to be unpinioned, and Nuzhat al-Zaman came up to him and kissed his hands, whilst her eves ran over with tears. The King west also to see her weeping, and brotherly love possessed him and his heart yearned to his brother's son Sultan Kanmakan. So he sprang to his feet and, taking the sword from the Sworder's hands (whereat the captives made sure of death), he caused them to be set close to him and he cut their bonds with the blade and said to his nurse Marjanah, "Explain the matter to this company, even as thou hast explained it to me." Replied she, "O King, know that this Shayth is the Wazir Dandan and he is the best of witnesses to my story, seeing that he knoweth the facts of the case." Then she turned to the captives and repeated the whole story to them on the spot and forthright, and in presence of the Kings of the Greeks and the Kings of the Franks; whereupon Queen Nuzhat al-Zaman and the Wazir Dandan and all who were prisoners with them confirmed her words. When Marjanah, the bond-woman, had finished, chancing to look at Sultan Kanmakan she saw on his neck the third jewel, fellow to the two which were with Queen Abrizah; and, recognising it, she cried so loud a cry, that the palace re-echoed it and said to the King, "O my son, know that now my certainty is still more assured, for this jewel that is about the neck of yonder captive is the fellow to that I hung to thy neck; and, these being the two, this captive is indeed thy brother's son, Kanmakan." Then the slave women Marjanah turned to Kanmakan and said to him, "Let me see that jewel, O King of the Age!"; so he took it from his neck and handed it to her. Then she asked Nuzhat al-Zaman of the third jewel and she gave it to her; and when the two were in her hand she delivered them to King Rumzan, and the truth and proof were made manifest to him; and he was assured that he was indeed Sultan Kanmakan's uncle and that his father was King Omar bin al- Nu'uman. So he rose at once and on the spot and, going up to the Wazir Dandan, threw his arms round his neck; then he embraced King Kanmakan and the twain cried a loud cry for excess of joy. The glad news was blazed abroad without delay; and they beat the tabrets and cymbals, whilst the shawms sounded and the people held high festival. The armies of Irak and Syria heard the clamour of rejoicing among the Greeks; so they mounted to the last man, and King Zibl Khan also took horse saying to himself, "Would I knew what can be the cause of this clamour and rejoicing in the army of the Franks and the Greeks!" Then the army of Irak dight itself for fight and advanced into the plain and place of cut and foin. Presently, King Rumzan turned him round and saw the army deployed and in preparing for battle employed, so he asked the cause thereof and was told the state of the case. Thereupon he bade his niece and brother's daughter, Kuzia Fakan, return at once and forthright to the troops of Syria and Irak and acquaint them with the plight that had betided and how it was come to light that King Rumzan was uncle to Sultan Kanmakan. She set out, putting away from her sorrows and troubles and, coming to King Zibl Khan, saluted him and told him all that had passed of the good accord, and how King Rumzan had proved to be her uncle and uncle of Kanmakan. And when she went in to him she found him tearful eyed, in fear for the captive Emirs and Princes; but when he heard what had passed, from first to last, the Moslem's sadness was abated and they joyed with the more gladness. Then King Zibl Khan and all his officers and his retinue took horse and followed Princess Kuzia Fakan till they reached the pavilion of King Rumzan; and when entering they found him sitting with his nephew, Sultan Kanmakan. Now he had taken counsel with the Wazir Dandan concerning King Zibl Khan and had agreed to commit to his charge the city of Damascus of Sham and leave him King over it as he before had been while they themselves entered Irak. Accordingly, they confirmed him in the vice royalty of Damascus of Syria, and bade him set out at once for his government; so he fared forth with his troops and they rode with him a part of the way to bid him farewell. Then they returned to their own places whereupon, the two armies foregathered and gave orders for the march upon Irak; but the Kings said one to other, "Our hearts will never be at rest nor our wrath cease to rage till we have taken our wreak of the old woman Shawahi, surnamed Zat al-Dawahi, and wiped away our shame and blot upon our honour." Thereupon King Rumzan and his nephew set out, surrounded by their Nobles and Grandees; and indeed Kanmakan rejoiced in his uncle, King Rumzan, and called down blessings on nurse Marjanah who had made them known to each other. They fared on and ceased not faring till they drew near their home Baghdad, and when the Chief Chamberlain, Sasan, heard of their approach, he came out to meet them and kissed the hand of King Rumzan who bestowed on him a dress of honour. Then the King of Roum sat down on the throne and seated by his side his nephew Sultan Kanmakan, who said to him, "O my uncle, this Kingdom befitteth none but thee." Replied Rumzan, "Allah be my refuge and the Lord forbid that I should supplant thee in thy Kingdom!" Upon this the Wazir Dandan counselled them to share the throne between the two, ruling each one day in turn; and with this they were well satisfied.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the One Hundred and Forty-fourth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the two Kings agreed each to rule one day in turn: then made they feasts and offered sacrifices of clean beasts and held high festival; and they abode thus awhile, whilst Sultan Kanmakan spent his nights with his cousin Kuzia Fakan. And after that period, as the two Kings sat rejoicing in their condition and in the happy ending of their troubles, behold, they saw a cloud of dust arise and tower till it walled the world from their eyes. And out of it came a merchant shrieking and crying aloud for succour and saying, "O Kings of the Age! how cometh it that I woned safely in the land of the Infidels and I am plundered in your realm, though it be the biding place of justice and peace?" Then King Rumzan went up to him and questioned him of his case and he replied, "I am a merchant and, like other merchants, I have been long absent from my native land, travelling in far countries for some twenty years; and I have a patent of exemption from the city of Damascus which the Viceroy, King Sharrkan (who hath found mercy) wrote me, for the cause that I had made him gift of a slave-girl. Now as I was drawing near my home, having with me an hundred loads of rarities of Hind, when I brought them near Baghdad, which be the seat of your sovereignty and the place of your peace and your justice, out there came upon me wild Arabs and Kurds in band gathered together from every land; and they slew my many and they robbed my money and this is what they have done me." Then the trader wept in presence of King Rumzan, saying that he was an old man and infirm; and he bemoaned himself till the King felt for him and had compassion on him; and likewise did King Kanmakan and they swore that they would sally forth upon the thieves. So they set out amid an hundred horse, each reckoned worth thou sands of men, and the merchant went before them to guide them in the right way; and they ceased not faring on all that day and the livelong night till dawnbreak, when they came to a valley abounding in rills and shady with trees. Here they found the foray dispersed about the valley, having divided that merchant's bales among them; but there was yet some of the goods left. So the hundred horsemen fell upon them and surrounded them on all sides, and King Rumzan shouted his war cry, and thus also did his nephew Kanmakan, and ere long they made prize of them all, to the number of near three hundred horsemen, banded together of the refuse of rascality. They took what they could find of the merchant's goods and, binding them tightly, brought them to Baghdad, where King Rumzan and his nephew, King Kanmakan, sat down together on one throne and, passing the prisoners in review before them, questioned them of their case and their chiefs. They said, "We have no chiefs but these three men and it was they who gathered us together from all corners and countries." The Kings said to them, "Point out to us your headmen!"; and, when this was done, they bade lay hands on the leaders and set their comrades free, after taking from them all the goods in their possession and restoring them to the merchant, who examined his stuffs and monies and found that a fourth of his stock was missing. The Kings engaged to make good the whole of his loss, where upon the trader pulled out two letters, one in the handwriting of Sharrkan, and the other in that of Nuzhat al-Zaman; for this was the very merchant who had bought Nuzhat al-Zaman of the Badawi, when she was a virgin, and had forwarded her to her brother Sharrkan; and that happened between them which happened. Hereupon King Kanmakan examined the letters and recognised the handwriting of his uncle Sharrkan, and, having heard the history of his aunt, Nuzhat al- Zaman, he went in to her with the second letter written by her to the merchant who had lost through her his monies; Kanmakan also told her what had befallen the trader from first to last. She knew her own handwriting and, recognising the merchant, despatched to him guest gifts and commended him to her brother and nephew, who ordered him largesse of money and black slaves and pages to wait on him; besides which Nuzhat al-Zaman sent him an hundred thousand dirhams in cash and fifty loads of merchandise and presented to him other rich presents. Then she sent for him and when he came, she went up to him and saluted him and told him that she was the daughter of King Omar bin al- Nu'uman and that her brother was King Rumzan and that King Kanmakan was her nephew. Thereupon the merchant rejoiced with great joy, and congratulated her on her safety and on her re- union with her brother, and kissed her hands thanking her for her bounty, and said to her, "By Allah! a good deed is not lost upon thee!" Then she withdrew to her own apartment and the trader sojourned with them three days, after which he took leave of them and set out on his return march to the land of Syria. Thereupon the two Kings sent for the three robber chiefs who were of the highway men, and questioned them of their case, when one of them came forward and said, "Know ye that I am a Badawi who am wont to lie in wait, by the way, to snatch small children and virgin girls and sell them to merchants; and this I did for many a year until these latter days, when Satan incited me to join yon two gallows birds in gathering together all the riff-raff of the Arabs and other peoples, that we might plunder merchandise and waylay merchants." Said the Kings, "Tell us the rarest of the adventures that have befallen thee in kidnapping children and maidens." Replied he, "O Kings of the Age, the strangest thing that happened to me was that one day, two-and-twenty years ago, I snatched a girl who belonged to the Holy City; she was gifted with beauty and comeliness, despite that she was but a servant and was clad in threadbare clothes, with a piece of camlet-cloth on her head. So I entrapped her by guile as she came out of the caravanserai; and at that very hour mounting her on a camel, made off with her, thinking to carry her to my own people in the Desert and there set her to pasture the camels and gather their droppings in the valley. But she wept with so sore a weeping that after coming down upon her with blows, I took her and carried her to Damascus city where a merchant saw her with me and, being astounded at her beauty and marvelling at her accomplishments, wished to buy her of me and kept on bidding me more and more for her, till at last I sold her to him for an hundred thousand dirhams. After selling her I heard her display prodigious eloquence; and it reached me that the merchant clothed her in handsome gear and presented her to the Viceroy of Damascus, who gave him three times the price which he had paid to me, and this price, by my life! was but little for such a damsel. This, O Kings of the Age, is the strangest thing that ever befel me." When the two Kings heard her story they wondered thereat, but when Nuzhat al-Zaman heard what the Badawi related, the light became darkness before her face and she cried out and said to her brother Rumzan, "Sure and sans doubt this is the very Badawi who kidnapped me in the Holy City Jerusalem!" Then she told them all that she had endured from him in her stranger hood of hardship, blows, hunger, humiliation, contempt, adding, "And now it is lawful for me to slay him." So saying she seized a sword and made at him to smite him; and behold, he cried out and said, "O Kings of the Age, suffer her not to slay me, till I shall have told you the rare adventures that have betided me." And her nephew Kanmakan said to her, "O my aunt, let him tell us his tale, and after that do with him as thou wilt." So she held her hand and the Kings said to him, "Now let us hear thy history." Quoth he, "O Kings of the Age, if I tell you a rare tale will ye pardon me?" "Yes," answered they. Then the Badawi robber-chief began,...

[Go to Tale of Hammad the Badawi]

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

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