[Go back to The Ferryman of the Nile and the Hermit]
There was once a notable of the Children of Israel, a man of wealth who had a pious and blessed son. When his last hour drew nigh, his son sat down at his head and said to him, "O my lord, give me an injunction." Quoth the father, "O dear son, I charge thee, swear not by Allah or truly or falsely." Then he died and certain lewd fellows of the Children of Israel heard of the charge he had laid on his son and began coming to the latter and saying, "Thy father had such and such monies of mine, and thou knowest it; so give me what was entrusted to him or else make oath that there was no trust." The good son would not disobey his sire's injunction, so gave them all they claimed; and they ceased not to deal thus with him, till his wealth was spent and he fell into straitest predicament. Now the young man had a pious and blessed wife, who had borne him two little sons; so he said to her, "The folk have multiplied their demands on me and, while I had the wherewithal to free myself of debt, I rendered it freely; but naught is now left us, and if others make demands upon me, we shall be in absolute distress, I and thou; our best way were to save ourselves by fleeing to some place, where none knoweth us, and earn our bread among the lower of the folk." Accordingly, he took ship with her and his two children, knowing not whither he should wend; but, "When Allah judgeth, there is none to reverse His judgment;" and quoth the tongue of the case,
"O flier from thy home when foes affright! * Whom led to weal and happiness such flight,
Grudge not this exile when he flees abroad * Where he on wealth and welfare may alight.
An pearls for ever did abide in shell, * The kingly crown they ne'er had deckt and dight."
The ship was wrecked, yet the man saved himself on a plank and his wife and children also saved themselves, but on other planks. The waves separated them and the wife was cast up in one country and one of the boys in another. The second son was picked up by a ship, and the surges threw the father on a desert island, where he landed and made the Wuzu-ablution. Then he called the prayer-call,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Four Hundred and Eightieth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the man landed upon the island, he made the Wuzu-ablution to free himself from the impurities of the sea and called the call to prayer and stood up to his devotions, when, behold, there came forth of the sea, creatures of various kinds and prayed with him. When he had finished, he went up to a tree and stayed his hunger with its fruits; after which he found a spring of water and drank thereof and praised Allah, to whom be honour and glory! He abode thus three days and whenever he stood up to pray, the sea-creatures came out and prayed in the same manner as he prayed. Now after the third day, he heard a voice crying aloud and saying, "O thou just man, and pious, who didst so honour thy father and revere the decrees of thy Lord, grieve not, for Allah (be He extolled and exalted!) shall restore to thee all which left thy hand. In this isle are hoards and monies and things of price which the Almighty willeth thou shalt inherit, and they are in such a part of this place. So bring thou them to light; and verily, we will send ships unto thee; and do thou bestow charity on the folk and bid them to thee." So he sought out that place, and the Lord discovered to him the treasures in question. Then ships began resorting to him, and he gave abundant largesse to the crews, saying to them, "Be sure ye direct the folk unto me and I will give them such and such a thing and appoint to them this and that." Accordingly, there came folk from all parts and places, nor had ten years passed over him ere the island was peopled and the man became its King. No one came to him but he entreated him with munificence, and his name was noised abroad, through the length and breadth of the earth. Now his elder son had fallen into the hands of a man who reared him and taught him polite accomplishments; and, in like manner, the younger was adopted by one who gave him a good education and brought him up in the ways of merchants. The wife also happened upon a trader who entrusted to her his property and made a covenant with her that he would not deal dishonestly by her, but would aid her to obey Allah (to whom belong Majesty and Might!); and he used to make her the companion of his voyages and his travels. Now the elder son heard the report of the King and resolved to visit him, without knowing who he was; so he went to him and was well received by the King, who made him his secretary. Presently the other son heard of the King's piety and justice and was also taken into his service as a steward. Then the brothers abode awhile, neither knowing the other, till it chanced that the merchant, in whose home was their mother, also hearing of the King's righteous and generous dealing with the lieges, freighted a ship with rich stuffs and other excellent produce of the land, and taking the woman with him, set sail for the island. He made it in due course and landing, presented himself with his gift before the King; who rejoiced therein with exceeding joy and ordered him a splendid return-present. Now, there were, among the gifts, certain aromatic roots of which he would have the merchant acquaint him with the names and uses; so he said to him, "Abide with us this night."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Four Hundred and Eighty-first Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the King said, "Abide with us this night," the merchant replied, "We have in the ship one to whom I have promised to entrust the care of her to none save myself; and the same is a holy woman whose prayers have brought me weal and I have felt the blessing of her counsels." Rejoined the King, "I will send her some trusty men, who shall pass the night in the ship and guard her and all that is with her." The merchant agreed to this and abode with the King, who called his secretary and steward and said to them, "Go and pass the night in this man's ship and keep it safe, Inshallah!" So they went up into the ship and seating themselves, this on the poop and that on the bow, passed a part of the night in repeating the names of Allah (to whom belong Majesty and Might!). Then quoth one to the other, "Ho, such an one! The King bade us keep watch and I fear lest sleep overtake us; so, come, let us discourse of stories of fortune and of the good we have seen and the trials of life." Quoth the other, "O my brother, as for my trials Fate parted me from my mother and a brother of mine, whose name was even as thine; and the cause of our parting was this. My father took ship with us from such a place, and the winds rose against us and were contrary, so that the ship was wrecked and Allah broke our fair companionship." Hearing this the first asked, "What was the name of thy mother, O my brother?"; and the second answered, "So and so." Thereat brother threw himself upon brother saying, "By Allah, thou art my very brother!" And each fell to telling the other what had befallen him in his youth, whilst the mother heard all they said, but held her peace and in patience possessed her soul. Now when it was morning, one said to the other, "Come, brother, let us go to my lodging and talk there;" and the other said, "'Tis well." So they went away and presently, the merchant came back and finding the woman in great trouble, said to her, "What hath befallen thee and why this concern?" Quoth she, "Thou sentest to me yesternight men who tempted me to evil, and I have been in sore annoy with them." At this, he was wroth and, repairing to the King, reported the conduct of his two trusty wights. The King summoned the twain forthwith, as he loved them for their fidelity and piety; and, sending for the woman, that he might hear from her own lips what she had to say against them, thus bespake her, "O woman, what hath betided thee from these two men in whom I trust?" She replied, "O King, I conjure thee by the Almighty, the Bountiful One, the Lord of the Empyrean, bid them repeat the words they spoke yesternight." So he said to them, "Say what ye said and conceal naught thereof." Accordingly, they repeated their talk, and lo! the King rising from his throne, gave a great cry and threw himself upon them, embracing them and saying, "By Allah, ye are my very sons!" Therewith the woman unveiled her face and said, "And by Allah, I am their very mother." So they were united and abode in all solace of life and its delight till death parted them; and so glory be to Him who delivereth His servant when he restoreth to Him, and disappointeth not his hope in Him and his trust! And how well saith the poet on the subject,
"Each thing of things hath his appointed tide * When 'tis, O brother, granted or denied.
Repine not an affliction hit thee hard; * For woe and welfare aye conjoint abide:
How oft shall woman see all griefs surround * Yet feel a joyance thrill what lies inside!
How many a wretch, on whom the eyes of folk * Look down, shall grace exalt to pomp and pride!
This man is one long suffering grief and woe; * Whom change and chance of Time hath sorely tried:
The World divided from what held he dearest, * After long union scattered far and wide;
But deigned his Lord unite them all again, * And in the Lord is every good descried.
Glory to Him whose Providence rules all * Living, as surest proofs for us decide.
Near is the Near One; but no wisdom clearer * Shows him, nor distant wayfare brings Him nearer."
And this tale is told of...
[Go to Abu Al-Hasan and Abu Ja'afar the Leper]
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