[Go back to Ja'afar the Barmecide and the Bean-Seller]
It is told that Harun al-Rashid was sitting one day on the throne of the Caliphate, when there came in to him a youth of his eunuchry, bearing a crown of red gold, set with pearls and rubies and all manner of other gems and jewels, such as money might not buy; and, bussing the ground between his hands, said, "O Commander of the Faithful, the Lady Zubaydah kisseth the earth before thee"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say. Whereupon quoth her sister Dunyazad, "How pleasant is thy tale and profitable; and how sweet is thy speech and how delectable!" "And where is this," replied Shahrazad, "compared with what I shall tell you next night an I live and the King grant me leave!" Thereupon quoth the King to himself, "By Allah, I will not slay her until I hear the end of her tale."
When it was the Three Hundredth Night,
Quoth Dunyazad, "favour us, O my sister, with thy tale," and she replied, 'With joy and good will, if the King accord me leave;" whereupon the King said, "Tell thy tale, O Shahrazad." So she pursued: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the youth said to the Caliph, "The Lady Zubaydah kisseth the earth before thee and saith to thee, Thou knowest she hath bidden make this crown, which lacketh a great jewel for its dome-top; and she hath made search among her treasures, but cannot find a jewel of size to suit her mind." Quoth the Caliph to his Chamberlains and Viceregents, Make search for a great jewel, such as Zubaydah desireth." So they sought, but found nothing befitting her and told the Caliph who, vexed and annoyed thereat, exclaimed, "How am I Caliph and King of the Kings of the earth and cannot find so small a matter as a jewel? Woe to you! Ask of the merchants." So they enquired of the traders, who replied, "Our lord the Caliph will not find a jewel such as he requireth save with a man of Bassorah, by name Abú Mohammed highs Lazybones." Thereupon they acquainted the Caliph with this and he bade his Wazir Ja'afar send a note to the Emir Mohammed al-Zubaydí, Governor of Bassorah, commanding him to equip Abu Mohammed Lazybones and bring him into the presence of the Commander of the Faithful. The Minister accordingly wrote a note to that effect and despatched it by Masrur, who set out forthright for the city of Bassorah, and went in to the Emir Mohammed al-Zubaydi, who rejoiced in him and treated him with the high-most honour. Then Masrur read him the mandate of the Prince of True Believers, Harun al-Rashid, to which he replied, "I hear and I obey," and forthwith despatched him, with a company of his followers, to Abu Mohammed's house. When they reached it, they knocked at the door, whereupon a page came out and Masrur said to him, "Tell thy lord, The Commander of the Faithful summoneth thee." The servant went in and told his master, who came out and found Masrur, the Caliph's Chamberlain, and a company of the Governor's men at the door. So he kissed ground before Masrur and said, "I hear and obey the summons of the Commander of the Faithful; but first enter ye my house." They replied, "We cannot do that, save in haste; even as the Prince of True Believers commanded us, for he awaiteth thy coming." But he said, "Have patience with me a little, till I set my affairs in order." So after much pressure and abundant persuasion, they entered the house with him and found the vestibule hung with curtains of azure brocade, purfled with red gold, and Abu Mohammed Lazybones bade one of his servants carry Masrur to the private Hammam. Now this bath was in the house and Masrur found its walls and floors of rare and precious marbles, wrought with gold and silver, and its waters mingled with rose-water. Then the servants served Masrur and his company with the perfection of service; and, on their going forth of the Hammam, clad them in robes of honour, brocade-work interwoven with gold. And after leaving the bath Masrur and his men went in to Abu Mohammed Lazybones and found him seated in his upper chamber; and over his head hung curtains of gold-brocade, wrought with pearls and jewels, and the pavilion was spread with cushions, embroidered in red gold. Now the owner was sitting softly upon a quilted cloth covering a settee inlaid with stones of price; and, when he saw Masrur, he went forward to meet him and bidding him welcome, seated him by his side. Then he called for the food-trays; so they brought them, and when Masrur saw the tables, he exclaimed, "By Allah, never did I behold the like of these appointments in the palace of the Commander of the Faithful!" For indeed the trays contained every manner of meat all served in dishes of gilded porcelain. "So we ate and drank and made merry till the end of the day (quoth Masrur) when the host gave to each and every of us five thousand dinars, and on the morrow he clad us in dresses of honour of green and gold and entreated us with the utmost worship." Then said Masrur to him, "We can tarry no longer for fear of the Caliph's displeasure." Answered Abu Mohammed Lazybones, "O my lord, have patience with us till the morrow, that we may equip ourselves, and we will then depart with you." So they tarried with him that day and slept the night; and next morning Abu Mohammed's servants saddled him a she mule with selle and trappings of gold, set with all manner of pearls and stones of price; whereupon quoth Masrur to himself, "I wonder, when Abu Mohammed shall present himself in such equipage, if the Caliph will ask him how he came by all this wealth." Thereupon they took leave of Al-Zubaydi and, setting out from Bassorah, fared on, without ceasing to fare till they reached Baghdad-city and presented themselves before the Caliph, who bade Abu Mohammed be seated. He sat down and addressed the Caliph in courtly phrase, saying, "O Commander of the Faithful, I have brought with me an humble offering by way of homage: have I thy gracious permission to produce it?" Al-Rashid replied, "There is no harm in that," whereupon Abu Mohammed bade his men bring in a chest, from which he took a number of rarities, and amongst the rest, trees of gold with leaves of white emeraid, and fruits of pigeon blood rubies and topazes and new pearls and bright. And as the Caliph was struck with admiration he fetched a second chest and brought out of it a tent of brocade, crowned with pearls and jacinths and emeralds and jaspers and other precious stones; its poles were of freshly cut Hindi aloes-wood, and its skirts were set with the greenest smaragds. Thereon were depicted all manner of animals such as beasts and birds, spangled with precious stones, rubies, emeralds, chrysolites and balasses and every kind of precious metal. Now when Al-Rashid saw these things, he rejoiced with exceeding joy and Abu Mohammed Lazybones said to him, "O Commander of the Faithful, deem not that I have brought these to thee, fearing aught or coveting anything; but I knew myself to be but a man of the people and that such things befitted none save the Commander of the Faithful. And now, with thy leave, I will show thee, for thy diversion, something of what I can do." Al-Rashid replied, "Do what thou wilt, that we may see." "To hear is to obey," said Abu Mohammed and, moving his lips, beckoned the palace battlements, whereupon they inclined to him; then he made another sign to them, and they returned to their place. Presently he made a sign with his eye, and there appeared before him closets with closed doors, to which he spoke, and lo! the voices of birds answered him from within. The Caliph marvelled with passing marvel at this and said to him, "How camest thou by all this, seeing that thou art known only as Abu Mohammed Lazybones, and they tell me that thy father was a cupper serving in a public Hammam, who left thee nothing?" Whereupon he answered, "Listen to my story" And Shahrazed perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and First Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Abu Mohammed Lazybones thus spake to the Caliph: "O Prince of True Believers, listen to my story, for it is a marvellous and its particulars are wondrous; were it graven with graver-needles upon the eye-corners it were a warner to whose would be warned." Quoth Al-Rashid, "Let us hear all thou hast to say, O Abu Mohammed!" So he began "Know then, O Commander of the Faithful (Allah prolong to thee glory and dominion!), the report of the folk; that I am known as the Lazybones and that my father left me nothing, is true; for he was, as thou hast said, nothing but a barber-cupper in a Hammam. And I throughout my youth was the idlest wight on the face of the earth; indeed, so great was my sluggishness that, if I lay at full length in the sultry season and the sun came round upon me, I was too lazy to rise and remove from the sun to the shade. And thus I abode till I reached my fifteenth year, when my father deceased in the mercy of Allah Almighty and left me nothing. However, my mother used to go out a-charing and feed me and give me to drink, whilst I lay on my side. Now it came to pass that one day she came in to me with five silver dirhams, and said to me, 'O my son, I hear that Shaykh Abú al-Muzaffar is about to go a voyage to China.' (Now this Shaykh was a good and charitable man who loved the poor.) 'So come, my son, take these five silver bits; and let us both carry them to him and beg him to buy thee therewith somewhat from the land of China; so haply thou mayst make a profit of it by the bounty of Allah, whose name be exalted!' I was too idle to move for her; but she swore by the Almighty that, except I rose and went with her, she would bring me neither meat nor drink nor come in to me, but would leave me to die of hunger and thirst. Now when I heard her words, O Commander of the Faithful, I knew she would do as she threatened for her knowledge of my sluggishness; so I said to her, 'Help me to sit up.' She did so, and I wept the while and said to her, 'Bring me my shoes.' Accordingly, she brought them and I said, 'Put them on my feet.' She put them on my feet and I said, 'Lift me up off the ground.' So she lifted me up and I said, 'Support me, that I may walk.' So she supported me and I continued to fare a foot, at times stumbling over my skirts, till we came to the river bank, where we saluted the Shaykh and I said to him, 'O my uncle, art thou Abu al-Muzaffar?' 'At thy service,' answered he, and I, 'Take these dirhams and with them buy me somewhat from the land of China: haply Allah may vouchsafe me a profit of it.' Quoth the Shaykh to his companions, 'Do ye know this youth?' They answered, 'Yes, he is known as Abu Mohammed Lazybones, and we never saw him stir from his house till this moment.' Then said he to me, 'O my son, give me the silver with the blessing of Almighty Allah!' So he took the money, saying, 'Bismillah in the name of Allah!' and I returned home with my mother. Presently Shaykh Abu al-Muzaffar set sail, with a company of merchants, and stayed not till they reached the land of China, where he and his bought and sold; and, having won what they wished, set out on their homeward voyage. When they had been three days at sea, the Shaykh said to his company, 'Stay the vessel!' They asked, 'What dost thou want?' and he answered, 'Know that I have forgotten the commission wherewith Abu Mohammed Lazybones charged me; so let us turn back that we may lay out his money on somewhat whereby he may profit.' They cried, 'We conjure thee, by Allah Almighty turn not back with us; for we have traversed a long distance and a sore, and while so doing we have endured sad hardship and many terrors.' Quoth he, 'There is no help for it but we return;' and they said, 'Take from us double the profit of the five dirhams, and turn us not back.' He agreed to this and they collected for him an ample sum of money. Thereupon they sailed on, till they came to an island wherein was much people; when they moored thereto and the merchants went ashore, to buy thence a stock of precious metals and pearls and jewels and so forth. Presently Abu al-Muzaffar saw a man seated, with many apes before him, and amongst them one whose hair had been plucked off; and as often as their owner's attention was diverted from them, the other apes fell upon the plucked one and beat him and threw him on their master; whereupon the man rose and bashed them and bound them and punished them for this; and all the apes were wroth with the plucked ape on this account and funded him the more. When Shaykh Abu al-Muzaffar saw this, he felt for and took compassion upon the plucked ape and said to his master, 'Wilt thou sell me yonder monkey?' Replied the man, 'Buy,' and Abu al-Muzaffar rejoined, 'I have with me five dirhams, belonging to an orphan lad. Wilt thou sell it me for that sum?' Answered the monkey-merchant, 'It is a bargain; and Allah give thee a blessing of him!' So he made over the beast and received his money; and the Shaykh's slaves took the ape and tied him up in the ship. Then they loosed sail and made for another island, where they cast anchor; and there came down divers, who plunged for precious stones, pearls and other gems; so the merchants hired them to dive for money and they dived. Now when the ape saw them doing this, he loosed himself from his bonds and, jumping off the ship's side, plunged with them, whereupon quoth Abu al-Muzaffar, 'There is no Majesty and there is no Might, save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! The monkey is lost to us with the luck of the poor fellow for whom we bought him.' And they despaired of him; but, after a while, the company of divers rose to the surface, and behold, among them was the ape, with his hands full of jewels of price, which he threw down before Abu al-Muzaffar. The Shaykh marvelled at this and said, 'There is much mystery in this monkey!' Then they cast off and sailed till they came to a third island, called the Isle of the Zunúj, who are a people of the blacks, which eat the flesh of the sons of Adam. When the blacks saw them, they boarded them in dug-outs and, taking all in the vessel, pinioned them and carried them to their King, who bade slaughter certain of the merchants. So they slaughtered them by cutting their throats and ate their flesh; and the rest of the traders passed the night in bonds and were in sore concern. But when it was midnight, the ape arose and going up to Abu al-Muzaffar, loosed his bonds; and, as the others saw him free, they said, 'Allah grant our deliverance may be at thy hands, O Abu al-Muzaffar!' But he replied, 'Know that he who delivered me, by leave of Allah Almighty, was none other than this monkey'"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and Second Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Abu al-Muzaffar declared, "None loosed me, by leave of Allah Al-mighty, save this monkey and I buy my release of him at a thousand dinars!" whereupon the merchants rejoined, 'And we likewise, each and every, will pay him a thousand dinars if he release us.' With this the ape arose and went up to them and loosed their bonds one by one, till he had freed them all, when they made for the vessel and boarding her, found all safe and nothing missing from her. So they cast off and set sail; and presently Abu al-Muzaffar said to them, 'O merchants, fulfil your promise to the monkey.' 'We hear and we obey,' answered they; and each one paid him one thousand dinars, whilst Abu al-Muzaffar brought out to him the like sum of his own monies, so that a great heap of coin was collected for the ape. Then they fared on till they reached Bassorah-city where their friends came out to meet them; and when they had landed, the Shaykh said, 'Where is Abu Mohammed Lazybones?' The news reached my mother, who came to me as I lay asleep and said to me, 'O my son, verily the Shaykh Abu al-Muzaffar hath come back and is now in the city; so rise and go thou to him and salute him and enquire what he hath brought thee; it may be Allah Almighty have opened to thee the door of fortune with somewhat.' Quoth I, 'Lift me from the ground and prop me up, whilst I go forth and walk to the river bank.' After which I went out and walked on, stumbling over my skirts, till I met the Shaykh, who exclaimed at sight of me, 'Welcome to him whose money hath been the means of my release and that of these merchants, by the will of Almighty Allah.' Then he continued, 'Take this monkey I bought for thee and carry him home and wait till I come to thee.' So I took the ape and went off, saying in my mind, 'By Allah, this is naught but rare merchandise!' and led it home, where I said to my mother, 'Whenever I lie down to sleep, thou biddest me rise and trade; see now this merchandise with thine own eyes.' Then I sat me down and as I sat, up came the slaves of Abu al-Muzaffar and said to me, 'Art thou Abu Mohammed Lazybones?' 'Yes' answered I; and behold, Abu al-Muzaffar appeared behind them. So I rose up to him and kissed his hands: and he said, 'Come with me to my home.' 'Hearkening and obedience,' answered I and accompanied him to his house, where he bade his servants bring me what money the monkey had earned for me. So they brought it and he said to me, 'O my son, Allah hath blessed thee with this wealth, by way of profit on thy five dirhams.' Then the slaves set down the treasure in chests, which they had carried on their heads, and Abu al-Muzaffar gave me the keys saying, 'Go before the slaves to thy house; for in sooth all this wealth is thine.' So I returned to my mother, who rejoiced in this and said to me, 'O my son, Allah hath blessed thee with all these riches; so put off thy laziness and go down to the bazar and sell and buy.' At once I shook off my dull sloth, and opened a shop in the bazar, where the ape used to sit on the same divan with me eating with me when I ate and drinking when I drank. But, every day, he was absent from dawn till noon, when he came back bringing with him a purse of a thousand dinars, which he laid by my side, and sat down; and he ceased not so doing for a great while, till I amassed much wealth, wherewith, O Commander of the Faithful, I purchased houses and lands, and I planted gardens and I bought me white slaves and negroes and concubines. Now it came to pass one day, as I sat in my shop, with the ape sitting at my side on the same carpet, behold, he began to turn right and left, and I said to myself, 'What aileth the beast?' Then Allah made the ape speak with a ready tongue, and he said to me, 'O Abu Mohammed!' Now when I heard him speak, I was sore afraid; but he said to me, 'Fear not; I will tell thee my case. I am a Marid of the Jinn and came to thee because of thy poor estate; but today thou knowest not the amount of thy wealth; and now I have need of thee and if thou do my will, it shall be well for thee.' I asked, 'What is it?' and he answered, 'I have a mind to marry thee to a girl like the full moon.' Quoth I, 'How so?'; and quoth he, 'Tomorrow don thou thy richest dress and mount thy mule, with the saddle of gold and ride to the Haymarket. There enquire for the shop of the Sharif and sit down beside him and say to him, 'I come to thee as a suitor craving thy daughter's hand.' 'If he say to thee, 'Thou hast neither cash nor rank nor family'; pull out a thousand dinars and give them to him, and if he ask more, give him more and tempt him with money.' Whereto I replied, 'To hear is to obey; I will do thy bidding, Inshallah!' So on the next morning I donned my richest clothes, mounted my she mule with trappings of gold and rode to the Haymarket where I asked for the Sharif's shop, and finding him there seated, alighted and saluted him and seated myself beside him"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and Third Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Abu Mohammed Lazybones continued: "So I alighted and, saluting him, seated myself beside him, and my Mamelukes and negro-slaves stood before me. Said the Sharif, 'Haply, thou hast some business with us which we may have pleasure of transacting?' Replied I, 'Yes, I have business with thee.' Asked he, 'And what is it?'; and I answered, 'I come to thee as a suitor for thy daughter's hand.' So he said, 'Thou hast neither cash nor rank nor family;' whereupon I pulled him out a purse of a thousand dinars, red gold, and said to him, 'This is my rank and my family; and he (whom Allah bless and keep!) hath said, The best of ranks is wealth. And how well quoth the poet,
'Whoso two dithams hath, his lips have learnt * Speech of all kinds with eloquence bedight:
Draw near his brethren and crave ear of him, * And him thou seest haught in pride-full height:
Were 't not for dirhams wherein glories he, * Hadst found him 'mid man kind in sorry plight.
When richard errs in words they all reply, * "Sooth thou hast spoken and hast said aright!"
When pauper speaketh truly all reply * 'Thou liest;' and they hold his sayings light.
Verily dirhams in earth's every stead * Clothe men with rank and make them fair to sight
Gold is the very tongue of eloquence; * Gold is the best of arms for might who'd fight!'
Now when the Sharif heard these my words and understood my verse, he bowed his head awhile groundwards then raising it, said, 'If it must be so, I will have of thee other three thousand gold pieces.' 'I hear and I obey,' answered I, and sent one of my Mamelukes home for the money. As soon as he came back with it, I handed it to the Sharif who, when he saw it in his hands, rose, and bidding his servants shut his shop, invited his brother merchants of the bazar the wedding; after which he carried me to his house and wrote out my contract of marriage with his daughter saying to me, 'After ten days, I will bring thee to pay her the first visit.' So I went home rejoicing and, shutting myself up with the ape, told him what had passed; and he said 'Thou hast done well.' Now when the time appointed by the Sharif drew near, the ape said to me, 'There is a thing I would have thee do for me; and thou shalt have of me (when it is done) whatso thou wilt.' I asked, 'What is that?' and he answered, 'At the upper end of the chamber wherein thou shalt meet thy bride, the Sharif's daughter, stands a cabinet, on whose door is a ring-padlock of copper and the keys under it. Take the keys and open the cabinet in which thou shalt find a coffer of iron with four flags, which are talismans, at its corners; and in its midst stands a brazen basin full of money, wherein is tied a white cock with a cleft comb; while on one side of the coffer are eleven serpents and on the other a knife. Take the knife and slaughter the cock; cut away the flags and upset the chest, then go back to the bride and do away her maidenhead. This is what I have to ask of thee.' 'Hearkening and obedience,' answered I, and betook myself to the house of the Sharif. So as soon as I entered the bride-chamber, I looked for the cabinet and found it even as the ape had described it. Then I went in unto the bride and marvelled at her beauty and loveliness and stature and symmetrical-grace, for indeed they were such as no tongue can set forth. I rejoiced in her with exceeding joy; and in the middle of the night, when my bride slept, I rose and, taking the keys, opened the cabinet. Then I seized the knife and slew the cock and threw down the flags and upset the coffer, whereupon the girl awoke and, seeing the closet open and the cock with cut throat, exclaimed, 'There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! The Marid hath got hold of me!' Hardly had she made an end of speaking, when the Marid swooped down upon the house and, snatching up the bride, flew away with her; whereupon there arose a mighty clamour and behold, in came the Sharif, buffetting his face and crying, 'O Abu Mohammed, what is this deed thou hast done? Is it thus thou requiitest us? I made this talisman in the cabinet fearing for my daughter from this accursed one who, for these six years, hath sought to steal-away the girl, but could not. But now there is no more abiding for thee with us, so wend thy ways.' Thereupon I went forth and returned to my own house, where I made search for the ape but could not find him nor any trace of him; whereby I knew that it was he who was the Marid, and that he had carried off my wife and had tricked me into destroying the talisman and the cock, the two things which hindered him from taking her, and I repented, rending my raiment and cuffing my face. And there was no land but was straitened upon me; so I made for the desert forthright and ceased not wandering on till night overtook me, for I knew not whither I was going. And whilst I was deep in sad thought behold, I met two serpents, one tawny and the other white, and they were fighting to kill each other. So I took up a stone and with one cast slew the tawny serpent, which was the aggressor; whereupon the white serpent glided away and was absent for a while, but presently she returned accompanied by ten other white serpents which glided up to the dead serpent and tore her in pieces, so that only the head was left. Then they went their ways and I fell prostrate for weariness on the ground where I stood; but as I lay, pondering my case lo! I heard a Voice though I saw no one and the Voice versified with these two couplets,
'Let Fate with slackened bridle fare her pace, * Nor pass the night with mind which cares an ace
Between eye-closing and its opening, * Allah can foulest change to fairest case.'
Now when I heard this, O Commander of the Faithful, great concern get hold of me and I was beyond measure troubled, and behold, I heard a Voice from behind me extemporise these couplets,
'O Moslem! thou whose guide is Alcorán, * Joy in what brought safe peace to thee, O man.
Fear not what Satan haply whispered thee, * And in us see a Truth-believing
Then said I, 'I conjure thee, by the truth of Him thou wore shippest, let me know who thou art!' Thereupon the Invisible Speaker assumed the form of a man and said, 'Fear not; for the report of thy good deed hath reached us, and we are a people of the true-believing Jinn. So, if thou lack aught, let us know it that we may have the pleasure of fulfilling thy want.' Quoth I, 'Indeed I am in sore need, for I am afflicted with a grievous affliction and no one was ever afflicted as I am!' Quoth he, 'Perchance thou art Abu Mohammed Lazybones?' and I replied, 'Yes.' He rejoined, 'I, O Abu Mohammed, am the brother of the white serpent, whose foe thou slewest, we are four brothers by one father and mother, and we are all indebted to thee for thy kindness. And know thou that he who played this trick on thee in the likeness of an ape, is a Marid of the Marids of the Jinn; and had he not used this artifice, he had never been able to get the girl; for he hath loved her and had a mind to take her this long while, but he was hindered of that talisman; and had it remained as it was, he could never have found access to her. However, fret not thyself for that; we will bring thee to her and kill the Marid; for thy kindness is not lost upon us.' Then he cried out with a terrible outcry"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and fourth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Ifrit continued, "'Verily thy kindness is not lost upon us.' Then he cried out with a terrible outcry in a horrible voice, and behold, there appeared a troop of the Jinn, of whom he enquired concerning the ape; and one of them said, 'I know his abiding- place;' and the other asked 'Where abideth he?' Said the speaker 'He is in the City of Brass whereon sun riseth not.' Then said the first Jinni to me, 'O Abu Mohammed, take one of these our slaves, and he will carry thee on his back and teach thee how thou shalt get back the girl; but know that this slave is a Marid of the Marids and beware, whilst he is carrying thee, lest thou utter the name of Allah, or he will flee from thee and thou wilt fall and be destroyed.' 'I hear and obey,' answered I and chose out one of the slaves, who bent down and said to me, 'Mount.' So I mounted on his back, and he flew up with me into the firmament, till I lost sight of the earth and saw the stars as they were the mountains of earth fixed and firm and heard the angels crying, 'Praise be to Allah,' in heaven while the Marid held me in converse, diverting me and hindering me from pronouncing the name of Almighty Allah. But, as we flew, behold, One clad in green raiment, with streaming tresses and radiant face, holding in his hand a javelin whence flew sparks of fire, accosted me, saying, 'O Abu Mohammed, say:--There is no god but the God and Mohammed is the Apostle of God; or I will smite thee with this javelin.' Now already I felt heart-broken by my forced silence as regards calling on the name of Allah; so I said, 'There is no god but the God, and Mohammed is the Apostle of God. Whereupon the shining One smote the Marid with his javelin and he melted away and became ashes; whilst I was thrown from his back and fell headlong towards the earth, till I dropped into the midst of a dashing sea, swollen with clashing surge. And behold I fell hard by a ship with five sailors therein, who seeing me, made for me and took me up into the vessel; and they began to speak to me in some speech I knew not; but I signed to them that I understood not their speech. So they fared on till the last of the day, when they cast out a net and caught a great fish and they broiled it and gave me to eat; after which they ceased not sailing on till they reached their city and carried me to their King and set me in his presence. So I kissed ground before him, and he bestowed on me a dress of honour and said to me in Arabic (which he knew well), 'I appoint thee one of my officers.' Thereupon I asked him the name of the city, and he replied, 'It is called Hanád and is in the land of China.' Then he committed me to his Wazir, bidding him show me the city, which was formerly peopled by Infidels, till Almighty Allah turned them into stones; and there I abode a month's space, diverting myself with viewing the place, nor saw I ever greater plenty of trees and fruits than there. And when this time had past, one day, as I sat on the bank of a river, behold, there accosted me a horseman, who said to me, 'Art thou not Abu Mohammed Lazybones?' 'Yes,' answered I; whereupon, he said, 'Fear not, for the report of thy good deed hath reached us.' Asked I, 'Who art thou?' and he answered, 'I am a brother of the white serpent, and thou art hard by the place where is the damsel whom thou seekest.' So saying, he took off his clothes and clad me therein, saying, 'Fear not, for the slave who perished under thee was one of our slaves.' Then the horseman took me up behind him and rode on with me to a desert place, when he said, 'Dismount now and walk on between these two mountains, till thou seest the City of Brass; then halt afar off and enter it not, ere I return to thee and tell thee how thou shalt do.' 'To hear is to obey,' replied I and, dismounting from behind him, walked on till I came to the city, the walls whereof I found of brass. Then I began to pace round about it, hoping to find a gate, but found none; and presently as I persevered, behold, the serpent's brother rejoined me and gave me a charmed sword which should hinder any from seeing me, then went his way. Now he had been gone but a little while, when lo! I heard a noise of cries and found myself in the midst of a multitude of folk whose eyes were in their breasts; and seeing me quoth they, 'Who art thou and what cast thee into this place?' So I told them my story, and they said, 'The girl thou seekest is in this city with the Marid; but we know not what he hath done with her. Now we are brethren of the white serpent,' adding, 'Go thou to yonder spring and note where the water entereth, and enter thou with it; for it will bring thee into the city.' I did as they bade me, and followed the water-course, till it brought me to a Sardab, a vaulted room under the earth, from which I ascended and found myself in the midst of the city. Here I saw the damsel seated upon a throne of gold, under a canopy of brocade, girt round by a garden full of trees of gold, whose fruits were jewels of price, such as rubies and chrysolites, pearls and coral. And the moment she saw me, she knew me and accosted me with the Moslem salutation, saying, 'O my lord, who guided thee hither?' So I told her all that had passed, and she said, 'Know, that the accursed Marid, of the greatness of his love for me, hath told me what bringeth him bane and what bringeth him gain; and that there is here a talisman by means whereof he could, an he would, destroy the city and all that are therein; and whoso possesseth it, the Ifrits will do his commandment in everything. It standeth upon a pillar'--Whereat I asked her, 'And where is the pillar?' and she answered, 'It is in such a place.' 'And what manner of thing may the talisman be?' said I: said she, 'It is in the semblance of a vulture and upon it is a writing which I cannot read. So go thou thither and seize it, and set it before thee and, taking a chafing dish, throw into it a little musk, whereupon there will arise a smoke which will draw the Ifrits to thee, and they will all present themselves before thee, nor shall one be absent; also they shall be subject to thy word and, whatsoever thou biddest them, that will they do. Arise therefore and fall to this thing, with the blessing of Almighty Allah.' I answered, 'Hearkening and obedience' and, going to the column, did as she bade me, where- upon the Ifrits all presented themselves before me saying, 'Here are we, O our lord! Whatsoever thou biddest us, that will we do.' Quoth I, 'Bind the Marid who brought the damsel hither from her home.' Quoth they, 'We hear and obey,' and off they flew and bound that Marid in straitest bonds and returned after a while, saying, 'We have done thy bidding.' Then I dismissed them and, repairing to my wife, told her what had happened and said to her, 'O my bride, wilt thou go with me?' 'Yes,' answered she. So I carried her forth of the vaulted chamber whereby I had entered the city and we fared on, till we fell in with the folk who had shown me the way to find her." And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and Fifth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that he continued on this wise: "And we fared on till we fell in with the folk who had shown me the way to her. So I said to them, 'Point me out a path which shall lead me to my home,' and they did accordingly, and brought us a-foot to the sea-shore and set us aboard a vessel which sailed on before us with a fair wind, till we reached Bassorah-city. And when we entered the house of my father-in-law and her people saw my wife, they rejoiced with exceeding joy. Then I fumigated the vulture with musk and lo! the Ifrits flocked to me from all sides, saying, 'At thy service what wilt thou have us do?' So I bade them transport all that was in the City of Brass of monies and noble metals and stones of price to my house in Bassorah, which they did; and I then ordered them to bring me the ape. They brought him before me, abject and contemptible, and I said to him, 'O accursed, why hast thou dealt thus perfidiously with me?' Then I com mended the Ifrits to shut him in a brazen vessel so they put him in a brazen cucurbite and sealed it with lead. But I abode with my wife in joy and delight; and now, O Commander of the Faithful, I have under my hand precious things in such measure and rare jewels and other treasure and monies on such wise as neither reckoning may express nor may limits comprise; and, if thou lust after wealth or aught else, I will command the Jinn at once to do thy desire. But all this is of the bounty of Almighty Allah." Thereupon the Commander of the Faithful wondered greatly and bestowed on him imperial gifts, in exchange for his presents, and entreated him with the favour he deserved. And men also tell the tale of the...
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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