[Go back to The Shepherd and the Rogue]
On the morrow the Wazirs and Officers of State and heads of the people assembled; and, taking each with him his weapon, repaired to the palace of the King, so they might break in upon him and slay him and seat another in his stead. When they came to the door, they required the doorkeeper to open to them; but he refused, whereupon they sent to fetch fire, wherewith to burn down the doors and enter. The doorkeeper, hearing what they said went in to the King in haste and told him that the folk were gathered together at the gate, adding, "They required me to open to them, but I refused; and they have sent to fetch fire to burn down the doors withal, so they may come into thee and slay thee. What dost thou bid me do?" Quoth the King in himself, "Verily, I am fallen into uttermost perdition." Then he sent for the favourite; and, as soon as she came, said to her, "Indeed, Shimas never told me aught but I found it true, and now great and small are coming purposing to slay me and thee; and because the doorkeeper would not open to them, they have sent to fetch fire, to burn the doors withal; so will the house be burnt and we therein. What dost thou counsel me to do?" She replied, "No harm shall betide thee, nor let thine affair affright thee. This is a time when the simple rise against their Kings." Quoth he, "What dost thou counsel me to do and how shall I act in this affair?" Quoth she, "My rede is that thou fillet thy head and feign thyself sick; then send for the Wazir Shimas, who will come and see the plight wherein thou art; and do thou say to him, 'Verily I purposed to go forth to the folk this day; but this malady hindered me. So go thou out to them and acquaint them with my condition and tell them that to- morrow I will fare forth without fail to them and do their need and look into their affairs, so they may be reassured and their rage may subside.' Then do thou summon ten of thy father's slaves, stalwart men of strength and prowess, to whom thou canst entrust thyself, hearing to thy hest and complying with thy commandment, surely keeping thy secret and fief to thy love; and charge them on the morrow to stand at thy head and bid them suffer none of the folk to enter, save one by one; and all who enter do thou say, 'Seize them and do them die.' An they agree with thee upon this, to-morrow set up thy throne in the Divan and open thy doors. When the folk see that thou hast opened to them, their minds will be set at ease and they will come to thee with a whole heart and seek admission to thee. Then do thou admit them, one after one, even as I said to thee and work with them thy will, but it behoveth thee begin by slaying Shimas, their chief and leader, for he is the Grand Wazir and head of the matter. Therefore do him die first and after put all the rest to death, one after other, and spare none whom thou knowest to have broken with thee his covenant; and in like way slaughter all whose violence thou fearest. An thou deal thus with them, there will be left them no power to make head against thee; so shalt thou be at rest from them with full repose, and shalt enjoy thy kingship in peace and do whatso thou wilt, and know that there is no device that will profit thee more than this." Quoth the King, "Verily, this thy counsel is just and that which thou biddest me is to the point and I will assuredly do as thou directest." So he called for a fillet and bound his head therewith and shammed sickness. Then he sent for the Grand Wazir and said to him, "O Shimas, thou knowest that I love thee and hearken to the counsel of thee and thou art to me as brother and father both in one; also thou knowest that I do all thou biddest me and indeed thou badest me go forth to the lieges and sit to judge between them. Now I was assured that this was right rede on thy part, and purposed to go forth to them yesterday; but this sickness assailed me and I cannot sit up. It hath reached me that the folk are incensed at my failure to come forth to them and are minded of their mischief to do with me that which is unmeet for that they know not what ailment aileth me. So go thou forth to them and acquaint them with my case and the condition I am in, and excuse me to them, for I am obedient to their bidding and will do as they desire; wherefore order this affair and engage thyself for me herefor, even as thou hast been a loyal counsellor to me and to my sire before me, and it is of thy wont to make peace between the people. To-morrow, Inshallah, I will without fail come forth to them, and peradventure my sickness will cease from me this night, by the blessing of the purest intent and the good I purpose them in my heart." So Shimas prostrated himself to Allah and called down blessings on the King and kissed his hand, rejoicing at this. Then he went forth to the folk and told them what he had heard from the King and forbade them from that which they had a mind to do, acquainting them with what excused the King for his absence and informing them that he had promised to come forth to them on the morrow and deal with them according to their desires; whereupon they dispersed and tried them to their houses.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Twenty-third Night,
She said: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Shimas went from the presence to the ringleaders of the commons and said to them, "To-morrow the Sovran will come forth to you and will deal with you as ye desire." So they tried them to their homes. On such wise fared it with them; but as regards the Monarch, he summoned ten slaves of gigantic stature, men of hard heart and prow of prowess, whom he had chosen from amongst his father's body guard, and said to them, "Ye know the favour, esteem and high rank ye held with my sire and all the bounties, benefits and honours he bestowed on you, and I will advance you to yet higher dignity with me than this. Now I will tell you the reason thereof and ye are under safeguard of Allah from me. But first I will ask you somewhat, wherein if ye do my desire, obeying me in that which I shall bid you and conceal my secret from all men, ye shall have of me largesse and favour surpassing expectation. But above all things obedience!" The ten thralls answered him with one mouth and in sequent words, saying, "Whatso thou biddest us, O our liege, that we will do, nor will we depart in aught from thy commandment, for thou art our lord and master." Quoth the King, "Allah allot you weal! Now will I tell you the reason why I have chosen you out for increase of honour with me. Ye know how liberally my father dealt with the folk of his realm and the oath he took from them on behalf of me and how they promised him that they would break faith with me nor gainsay the bidding of me; and ye saw how they did yesterday, whenas they gathered all together about me and would have slain me. Now I am minded to do with them somewhat; and 'tis this, for that I have considered their action of yesterday and see that naught will restrain them from its like save exemplary chastisement; wherefore I perforce charge you privily to do to death whom I shall point out to you, to the intent that I may ward off mischief and calamity from my realm by slaying their leaders and Chiefs; and the manner thereof shall be on this wise. To-morrow I will sit on this seat in this chamber and give them admission to me one by one, coming in at one door and going out at another; and do ye, all ten, stand before me and be attentive to my signs; and whoso entereth singly, take him and drag him into yonder chamber and kill him and hide his corpse." The slaves answered, "We hearken to thy hest and obey thy order." Whereupon he gave them gifts and dismissed them for the night. On the morrow he summoned the thralls and bade set up the royal seat; then he donned his kingly robes and taking the Book of law-cases in his hands, posted the ten slaves before him and commanded to open the doors. So they opened the doors and the herald proclaimed aloud, saying, "Whoso hath authority, let him come to the King's carpet!" Whereupon up came the Wazirs and Prefects and Chamberlains and stood, each in his rank. Then the King bade admit them, one after one, and the first to enter was Shimas, according to the custom of the Grand Wazir; but no sooner had he presented himself before the King, and ere he could beware, the ten slaves get about him, and dragging him into the adjoining chamber, despatched him. On likewise did they with the rest of the Wazirs and Olema and Notables, slaying them, one after other, till they made a clean finish. Then the King called the headsmen and bade them ply sword upon all who remained of the folk of velour and stowre; so they fell on them and left none whom they knew for a man of mettle but they slew him, sparing only the proletaires and the refuse of the people. These they drove away and they returned each to his folk, whilst the King secluded himself with his pleasures and surrendered his soul to its lusts, working tyranny, oppression and violence, till he outraced all the men of evil who had forerun him. Now this King's dominion was a mine of gold and silver and jacinths and jewels and the neighbouring rulers, one and all, envied him this empire and looked for calamity to betide him. Moreover, one of them, the King of Outer Hind, said in himself, "I have gotten my desire of wresting the realm from the hand of yonder silly lad, by reason of that which hath betided of his slaughter of the Chiefs of his State and of all men of velour and mettle that were in his country. This is my occasion to snatch away that which is in his hand, seeing he is young in years and hath no knowledge of war nor judgment thereto, nor is there any left to counsel him aright or succour him. Wherefore this very day will I open on him the door of mischief by writing him a writ wherein I will flyte him and reproach him with that which he hath done and see what he will reply." So he indited him a letter to the following effect, "In the name of Allah the Compassionating, the Compassionate! * And after * I have heard tell of that which thou hast done with thy Wazirs and Olema and men of valiancy * and that whereinto thou hast cast thyself of calamity * so that there is neither power nor strength left in thee to repel whoso shall assail thee, more by token that thou transgressest and orderest thyself tyrannously and profligately * Now Allah hath assuredly given me the conquering of thee and the mastery over thee and into my hand hath delivered thee; wherefore do thou give ear to my word and obey the commandment of me and build me an impregnable castle amiddlemost the sea * An thou cannot do this, depart thy realm and with thy life go flee * for I will send unto thee, from the farthest ends of Hind, twelve hordes of horse, each twelve thousand fighting men strong, who shall enter thy land and spoil thy goods and slay thy men and carry thy women into captivity * Moreover, I will make my Wazir, Badi'a captain over them and bid him lay strait siege to thy capital till the master he be; * and I have bidden the bearer of this letter that he tarry with thee but days three * So, an thou do my demand, thou shalt be saved; else will I send that which I have said unto thee." Then he sealed the scroll and gave it to a messenger, who journeyed with it till he came to the capital of Wird Khan and delivered it to him. When the King read it, his strength failed him, his breast waxed strait and he made sure of destruction, having none to whom he might resort for aid or advice. Presently he rose and went in to his favourite wife who, seeing him changed of colour, said to him, "What mattereth thee, O King?" Quoth he, "This day I am no King but slave to the King." And he opened the letter and read it to her, whereupon she fell to weeping and wailing and rending her raiment. Then he asked her, "Hast thou aught of rede or resource in this grievous strait?"; but she answered, "Women have no resource in time of war, nor have women any strength or aught of counsel. 'Tis men alone who in like of this affair have force and discourse and resource." When the King heard her words, there befel him the utmost regret and repentance and remorse for that he had transgressed against his Wazirs and Officers and Lords of his land,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Nine Hundred and Twenty-fourth Night,
She continued: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when King Wird Khan heard the words of his favourite wife there befel him the utmost regret and repentance for having transgressed against and slain his Wazirs and the chiefs of his state, and he would that he had died ere there came to him the like of these shameful tidings. Then he said to his women, "Verily, there hath betided me from you that which befel the Francolin and the Tortoises." Asked they, "What was that?"; and he answered, Men tell this tale of...
[Go to The Francolin and the Tortoises]
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