[Go back to Kemeezzeman and Boudour (cont.)]
There lived once in Cairo, of old time, a merchant named Shemseddin, who was of the best and truest-spoken of the traders of the city and had great store of money and goods and slaves and servants, white and black and male and female. Moreover, he was Provost of the Merchants of Cairo and had a wife, whom he loved and who loved him; but he had lived with her forty years, yet had not been blessed with son or daughter by her. One Friday, as he sat in his shop, he noted that each of the merchants had a son or two or more, sitting in shops like their fathers. Presently, he entered the bath and made the Friday ablution; after which he came out and took the barber's glass, saying, 'I testify that there is no god but God and that Mohammed is His Apostle!' Then he looked at his beard and seeing that the white hairs in it outnumbered the black, bethought himself that hoariness is the harbinger of death. Now his wife knew the time of his coming and had washed and made ready for him; so when he came in to her, she said, 'Good even;' but he replied, 'I see no good.' Then she called for the evening meal and said to her husband, 'Eat, O my lord.' Quoth he, 'I will eat nothing,' and pushing the table away with his foot, turned his back to her. 'Why dost thou thus?' said she. 'What has vexed thee?' And he answered, 'Thou art the cause of my vexation.' 'How so?' asked she. 'This morning,' replied he, 'when I opened my shop, I saw that each of the other merchants had a son or two or more, and I said to myself, "He who took thy father will not spare thee." Now the night I wedded thee, thou madest me swear that I would never take a second wife nor a concubine, Abyssinian or Greek or other, nor would lie a night from thee: and behold, thou art barren, and swiving thee is like boring into the rock.' 'God is my witness,' rejoined she, 'that the fault lies with thee, for that thy seed is thin.' 'And how is it with him whose seed is thin?' asked he, and she, 'He cannot get women with child nor beget children.' 'What thickens seed?' asked he. 'Tell me and I will try it: haply, it will thicken mine.' Quoth she, 'Enquire for it of the druggists.' They slept that night and arose on the morrow, repenting each of having spoken angrily to the other. Then he went to the market and accosting a druggist, said to him, 'Hast thou wherewithal to thicken the seed?' 'I had it, but am spent of it,' answered the druggist; 'ask my neighbour.' So Shemseddin made the round of the bazaar, till he had asked every one; but they all laughed at him and he returned to his shop and sat down, troubled. Now there was in the market a man called Sheikh Mohammed Semsem, who was syndic of the brokers and was given to the use of opium and bang and hashish. He was poor and used to wish Shemseddin good morrow every day; so he came to him according to his wont and saluted him. The merchant returned his salute, and the other, seeing him vexed, said to him, 'O my lord, what hath crossed thee?' Quoth Shemseddin, 'These forty years have I been married to my wife, yet hath she borne me neither son nor daughter; and I am told that the cause of my failure to get her with child is the thinness of my seed; so I have been seeking wherewithal to thicken it, but found it not.' 'I have a thickener,' said Sheikh Mohammed; 'but what wilt thou say to him who makes thy wife conceive by thee, after forty years' barrenness? 'An thou do this,' answered the merchant, 'I will largely reward thee.' 'Then give me a dinar,' rejoined the broker, and Shemseddin said, 'Take these two dinars.' He took them and said, 'Give me also yonder bowl of porcelain.' So he gave it him, and the broker betook himself to a hashish-seller, of whom he bought two ounces of concentrated Turkish opium and equal parts of Chinese cubebs, cinnamon, cloves, cardamoms, white pepper, ginger and mountain lizard and pounding them all together, boiled them in sweet oil; after which he added three ounces of frankincense and a cupful or coriander-seed and macerating the whole, made it into a paste with Greek honey. Then he put the electuary in the bowl and carried it to the merchant, to whom he delivered it, saying, 'This is the seed-thickener, and the manner of using it is this. Make the evening-meal of mutton and house-pigeon, plentifully seasoned and spiced; then take of this electuary with a spoon and wash it down with a draught of boiled date-wine.' So the merchant bought mutton and pigeons and sent them to his wife, bidding her dress them well and lay up the electuary till he should call for it. She did as he bade her and he ate the evening-meal, after which he called for the bowl and ate of the electuary. It liked him well, so he ate the rest and lay with his wife. That very night she conceived by him and after three months, her courses ceased and she knew that she was with child. When the days of her pregnancy were accomplished, the pangs of labour took her and they raised cries of joy. The midwife delivered her with difficulty [of a son], then, taking the new- born child, she pronounced over him the names of Mohammed and Ali and said, 'God is Most Great!' Moreover, she called in his ear the call to prayer; then swathed him and gave him to his mother, who took him and put him to her breast; and he sucked his full and slept. The midwife abode with them three days, till they had made the mothering-cakes and sweetmeats; and they distributed them on the seventh day. Then they sprinkled salt and the merchant, going in to his wife, gave her joy of her safe delivery and said, 'Where is the gift of God?' So they brought him a babe of surpassing beauty, the handiwork of the Ever-present Orderer of all things, whoever saw him would have deemed him a yearling child, though he was but seven days old. Shemseddin looked on his face and seeing it like a shining full moon, with moles on both cheeks, said to his wife, 'What hast thou named him?' 'If it were a girl,' answered she, 'I had named her; but it is a boy, so none shall name him but thou.' Now the people of that time used to name their children by omens; and whilst the merchant and his wife were taking counsel of the name, they heard one say to his friend, 'Harkye, my lord Alaeddin!' So the merchant said, 'We will call him Alaeddin Abou esh Shamat.' Then he committed the child to the nurses, and he drank milk two years, after which they weaned him and he grew up and throve and walked upon the earth. When he came to seven years old, they put him in a chamber under the earth, for fear of the evil eye, and his father said, 'He shall not come out, till his beard grows.' And he gave him in charge to a slave-girl and a black slave; the former dressed him his meals and the latter carried them to him. Then his father circumcised him and made him a great feast; after which he brought him a doctor of the law, who taught him to write and repeat the Koran and other parts of knowledge, till he became an accomplished scholar. One day, the slave, after bringing him the tray of food, went away and forgot to shut the trap-door after him: so Alaeddin came forth and went in to his mother, with whom was a company of women of rank. As they sat talking, in came he upon them, as he were a drunken white slave, for the excess of his beauty; and when they saw him, they veiled their faces and said to his mother, 'God requite thee, O such an one! How canst thou let this strange slave in upon us? Knowest thou not that modesty is a point of the Faith?' 'Pronounce the name of God,' answered she. 'This is my son, the darling of my heart and the son of the Provost Shemseddin.' Quoth they, 'We never knew that thou hadst a son:' and she, 'His father feared the evil eye for him and shut him up in a chamber under the earth, nor did we mean that he should come out, before his beard was grown; but it would seem as if the slave had unawares left the door open, and he hath come out.' The women gave her joy of him, and he went out from them into the courtyard, where he seated himself in the verandah. Presently, in came the slaves with his father's mule, and he said to them, 'Whence comes this mule?' Quoth they, 'Thy father rode her to the shop, and we have brought her back.' 'And what is my father's trade?' asked he. And they replied, 'He is Provost of the merchants of Cairo and Sultan of the Sons of the Arabs.' Then he went in to his mother and said to her, 'O my mother, what is my father's trade?' Said she, 'He is a merchant and Provost of the merchants of Cairo and Sultan of the Sons of the Arabs. His slaves consult him not in selling aught whose price is less than a thousand dinars, but sell it at their own discretion; nor doth any merchandise, little or much, enter or leave Cairo, without passing through his hands; for, O my son, God the Most Great hath given thy father wealth past count.' 'Praised be God,' exclaimed he, 'that I am son of the Sultan of the Sons of the Arabs and that my father is Provost of the merchants! But why, O my mother, did you put me in the underground chamber and leave me prisoner there?' 'O my son,' answered she, 'we did this for fear of (men's) eyes, for it is true that the evil eye hath power to harm and the most part of the sojourners in the tombs are of its victims.' 'O my mother,' rejoined he, 'where is a place of refuge against destiny? Verily, taking care estoppeth not fate nor is there any escape from that which is written. He who took my grandfather will not spare myself nor my father; for, though he live to-day, he shall not live to-morrow. And when my father dies and I come forth and say, "I am Alaeddin, son of Shemseddin the merchant," none of the people will believe me, but the aged will say, "Never in our lives saw we a son or a daughter of Shemseddin." Then the Treasury will come down and take my father's estate; and may Allah have mercy on him who saith, "The noble dies and his wealth passes away and the meanest of men take his women." So do thou, O my mother, speak to my father, that he take me with him to the market and set me up in a shop with merchandise and teach me to buy and sell and give and take.' 'O my son,' answered his mother, 'when thy father returns, I will tell him this.' So when the merchant came home, he found his son sitting with his mother and said to her, 'Why hast thou brought him forth of the underground chamber?' 'O my cousin,' answered she, 'it was not I that brought him out; but the servants forgot to shut the door and left it open; so he came forth and came in to me, as I sat with a company of women of rank.' And she went on to repeat to him what the boy had said; and Shemseddin said to the latter, 'O my son, to- morrow, God willing, I will take thee with me to the market; but I would have thee know that the commerce of the markets and the shops demands good manners and an accomplished carriage in all conditions.' So Alaeddin passed the night, rejoicing in his father's promise; and on the morrow the merchant carried him to the bath and clad him in a suit worth much money. As soon as they had broken their fast and drunken sherbets, Shemseddin mounted his mule and rode to the market, followed by his son; but when the market-folk saw their Provost making towards them, followed by a youth as he were a piece of the moon on its fourteenth night, they said, one to another, 'See yonder boy behind the Provost of the merchants. Verily, we thought well of him; but he is like the leek, grayheaded and green at the heart.' And Sheikh Mohammed Semsem before mentioned, the Deputy of the market, said, 'O merchants, never will we accept the like of him for our chief.' Now it was the custom, when the Provost came from his house and sat down in his shop of a morning, for the Deputy of the market and the rest of the merchants to go in a body to his ship and recite to him the opening chapter of the Koran, after which they wished him good morrow and went away, each to his shop. Shemseddin seated himself in his shop as usual, but the merchants come not to him as of wont; so he called the Deputy and said to him, 'Why come not the merchants together as usual?' 'I know not how to tell thee,' answered Mohammed Semsem; 'for they have agreed to depose thee from the headship of the market and to recite the first chapter to thee no more.' 'And why so?' asked Shemseddin. 'What boy is this that sits beside thee,' asked the Deputy, 'and thou a man of years and chief of the merchants? Is he a slave or akin to thy wife? Verily, I think thou lovest him and inclinest [unlawfully] to the boy.' With this, the Provost cried out at him, saying, 'God confound thee, hold thy peace! This is my son.' 'Never knew we that thou hadst a son,' rejoined the Deputy; and Shemseddin answered, 'When thou gavest me the seed-thickener, my wife conceived and bore this youth, whom I reared in a chamber under the earth, for fear of the evil eye, nor was it my purpose that he should come forth, till he could take his beard in his hand. However, his mother would not agree to this, and he would have me bring him to the market and stock him a shop and teach him to sell and buy.' So the Deputy returned to the other merchants and acquainted them with the truth of the case, whereupon they all arose and going in a body to Shemseddin's shop, stood before him and recited the first chapter of the Koran to him; after which they gave him joy of his son and said to him, 'God prosper root and branch! But even the poorest of us, when son or daughter is born to him, needs must he make a pot of custard and bid his friends and acquaintances; yet thou hast not done this.' Quoth he, 'This is your due from me; be our rendezvous in the garden.' So next morning, he sent the carpet- layer to the pavilion in the garden and bade him furnish it. Moreover, he sent thither all that was needful for cooking, such as sheep and butter and so forth, and spread two tables, one in the saloon and another in the upper chamber. Then he and his son girded themselves, and he said to the latter, 'O my son, when a graybeard enters, I will meet him and carry him into the upper chamber and seat him at the table; and do thou, in like manner, receive the beardless youths and seat them at the table in the saloon.' 'O my father,' asked Alaeddin, 'why dost thou spread two tables, one for men and another for youths?' 'O my son,' answered Shemseddin, 'the beardless boy is ashamed to eat with men.' And his son was content with this answer. So when the merchants arrived, Shemseddin received the men and seated them in the upper chamber, whilst Alaeddin received the youths and seated them in the saloon. Then the servants set on food and the guests ate and drank and made merry, whilst the attendants served them with sherbets and perfumed them with the fragrant smoke of scented woods; and the elders fell to conversing of matters of science and tradition. Now there was amongst them a merchant called Mehmoud of Balkh, a Muslim by profession but at heart a Magian, a man of lewd life, who had a passion for boys. He used to buy stuffs and merchandise of Alaeddin's father; and when he saw the boy, one look at his face cost him a thousand sighs and Satan dangled the jewel before his eyes, so that he was taken with desire and mad passion for him and his heart was filled with love of him. So he arose and made for the youths, who rose to receive him. At this moment, Alaeddin, being taken with an urgent occasion, withdrew to make water; whereupon Mehmoud turned to the other youths and said to them, 'If ye will incline Alaeddin's mind to journeying with me, I will give each of you a dress worth much money.' Then he returned to the men's party; and when Alaeddin came back, the youths rose to receive him and seated him in the place of honour. Presently, one of them said to his neighbour, 'O my lord Hassan, tell me how thou camest by the capital on which thou tradest.' 'When I came to man's estate,' answered Hassan, 'I said to my father, "O my father, give me merchandise." "O my son," answered he, "I have none by me: but go thou to some merchant and take of him money and traffic with it and learn to buy and sell and give and take." So I went to one of the merchants and borrowed of him a thousand dinars, with which I bought stuffs and carrying them to Damascus, sold them there at a profit of two for one. Then I bought Syrian stuffs and carrying them to Aleppo, disposed of them there at a like profit; after which I bought stuffs of Aleppo and repaired with them to Baghdad, where I sold them with the same result; nor did I cease to buy and sell, till I was worth nigh ten thousand dinars.' Each of the others told a like tale, till it came to Alaeddin's turn, when they said to him, 'And thou, O my lord Alaeddin?' Quoth he, 'I was brought up in a chamber underground and came forth from it but this week and I do but go to the shop and return home.' 'Thou art used to abide at home,' rejoined they, 'and knowest not the delight of travel, for travel is for men only.' 'I reck not of travel,' answered he, 'and value ease above all things.' Whereupon quoth one to the other, 'This youth is like the fish: when he leaves the water he dies.' Then they said to him, 'O Alaeddin, the glory of the sons of the merchants is not but in travel for the sake of gain.' Their talk angered him and he left them, weeping-eyed and mourning-hearted, and mounting his mule, returned home. When his mother saw him thus, she said to him, 'What ails thee to weep, O my son?' And he answered, 'All the sons of the merchants made mock of me and said to me, "There is no glory for a merchant's son save in travel for gain."' 'O my son,' rejoined she, 'hast thou a mind for travel?' 'Yes,' said he. 'And whither wilt thou go?' asked she. 'To the city of Baghdad,' answered he; 'for there folk make a profit of two to one on their goods.' 'O my son,' said she, 'thy father is a very rich man, and if he provide thee not with merchandise, I will do so of my own monies.' Quoth he, 'The best of favours is that which is quickly bestowed; if it is to be, now is the time for it.' So she called the servants and sent them for packers; then opening a store-house, brought out ten loads of stuffs, which the packers made up into bales for him. Meanwhile Shemseddin missed his son and enquiring after him, was told that he had mounted and gone home; so he too mounted and followed him. When he entered the house, he saw the bales packed ready and asked what they were; whereupon his wife told him what had passed between Alaeddin and the young merchants and he said, 'O my son, may God curse foreign travel! Verily, the Prophet (whom God bless and preserve) hath said, "It is of a man's good fortune that he have his livelihood in his own land;" and it was said of the ancients, "Leave travel, though but for a mile."' Then he said to his son, 'Art thou indeed resolved to travel and wilt thou not turn back from it?' 'Needs must I journey to Baghdad with merchandise,' answered Alaeddin, 'else will I put off my clothes and don a dervish's habit and go a-wandering over the world.' Quoth Shemseddin, 'I am no lackgood, but have great plenty of wealth and with me are stuffs and merchandise befitting every country in the world.' Then he showed him his goods and amongst the rest, forth bales ready packed, with the price, a thousand dinars, written on each, and said to him, 'Take these forty loads, together with those thy mother gave thee, and set out under the safeguard of God the Most High. But, O my son, I fear for thee a certain wood in thy way, called the Lion's Copse, and a valley called the Valley of Dogs, for there lives are lost without mercy.' 'How so?' asked Alaeddin. 'Because of a Bedouin highwayman, hight Ajlan,' answered his father, 'who harbours there.' Quoth Alaeddin, 'Fortune is with God; if any part in it be mine, no harm will befall me.' Then they rode to the cattle market, where a muleteer alighted from his mule and kissing the Provost's hand, said to him, 'O my lord, by Allah, it is long since thou hast employed me to carry merchandise for thee!' 'Every time hath its fortune and its men,' answered Shemseddin; 'and may God have mercy on him who said:
An old man went walking the ways of the world, So bowed and so bent that his beard swept his knee. "What makes thee go doubled this fashion?" quoth I. He answered (and spread out his hands unto me), "My youth hath escaped me; 'tis lost in the dust, And I bend me to seek it, where'er it may be."
O captain,' added he, 'it is not I, but this my son that is minded to travel.' 'God preserve his to thee!' said the muleteer. Then Shemseddin made a contract between Alaeddin and the muleteer, appointing that the former should be to the latter as a son, and gave him into his charge, saying, 'Take these hundred dinars for thy men.' Moreover, he bought his son threescore mules and a lamp and covering of honour for the tomb of Sheikh Abdulcadir el Jilani and said to him, 'O my son, I am leaving thee, and this is thy father in my stead: whatsoever he biddeth thee, do thou obey him.' So saying, he returned home with the mules and servants and they made recitations of the Koran and held a festival that night in honour of the Sheikh Abdulcadir. On the morrow, Shemseddin gave his son ten thousand dinars, saying, 'O my son, when thou comest to Baghdad, if thou find stuffs brisk of sale, sell them; but if they be dull, spend of these dinars.' Then they loaded the mules and taking leave of their friends, set out on their journey.
Now Mehmoud of Balkh had made ready his own venture for Baghdad and set up his tents without the city, saying in himself, 'I shall not enjoy this youth but in the desert, where there is neither spy not spoil-sport to trouble me.' It chanced that he had in hand a thousand dinars of Shemseddin's monies, the balance of a dealing between them; so he went to the Provost and bade him farewell; and he said to him, 'Give the thousand dinars to my son Alaeddin,' and commended the latter to his care, saying, 'He is as it were thy son.' Accordingly, Alaeddin joined company with Mehmoud, who charged the youth's cook to dress nothing for him, but himself provided him and his company with meat and drink. Now he had four houses, one at Cairo, another at Damascus, a third at Aleppo and a fourth at Baghdad. So they set out and journeyed over deserts and plains, till they drew near Damascus, when Mehmoud sent his servant to Alaeddin, whom he found reading. He went up to him and kissed his hands, and Alaeddin asked him what he sought. 'My master salutes thee,' answered the slave, 'and craves thy company to a banquet in his house.' Quoth the youth, 'I must consult my father Kemaleddin, the captain of the caravan.' So he consulted the muleteer, who said, 'Do not go.' Then they left Damascus and journeyed on till they came to Aleppo, where Mehmoud made a second entertainment and sent to bid Alaeddin; but the muleteer again forbade him. Then they departed Aleppo and fared on, till they came within a day's journey of Baghdad. Here Mehmoud repeated his invitation a third time and Kemaleddin once more forbade Alaeddin to accept it; but the latter said, 'I must needs go.' So he rose and girding on a sword under his clothes, repaired to the tent of Mehmoud of Balkh, who came to meet him and saluted him. Then he set a sumptuous repast before him, and they ate and drank and washed their hands. Presently, Mehmoud bent towards Alaeddin, to kiss him, but the youth received the kiss on his hand and said to him, 'What wilt thou do?' Quoth Mehmoud, 'I brought thee hither that I might do delight with thee in this jousting-ground, and we will comment the words of him who saith:
Can't be thou wilt with us a momentling alight, Like to an ewekin's milk or what not else of white, And cat what liketh thee of dainty wastel-bread And take what thou mayst get of silver small and bright And bear off what thou wilt, sans grudging or constraint, Spanling or full-told span or fistling filled outright?'
Then he would have laid hands on Alaeddin; but he rose and drawing his sword, said to him, 'Shame on thy gray hairs! Hast thou no fear of God, and He of exceeding great might? May He have mercy on him who saith:
Look thou thy hoariness preserve from aught that may it stain, For whiteness still to take attaint is passing quick and fain.
This merchandise,' added he, 'is a trust from God and may not be sold. If I sold it to other than thee for gold, I would sell it thee for silver: but, by Allah, O filthy one, I will never again company with thee!' Then he returned to Kemaleddin and said to him, 'Yonder man is a lewd fellow and I will no longer consort with him nor suffer his company by the way.' 'O my son,' replied the muleteer, 'did I not forbid thee to go with him? But if we part company with him, I fear destruction for ourselves; so let us still make one caravan.' But Alaeddin said, 'It may not be: I will never again travel with him.' So he loaded his beasts and journeyed onward, he and his company, till they came to a valley, where Alaeddin would have halted, but the muleteer said to him, 'Do not halt here; rather let us fare forward and quicken our pace, so haply we may reach Baghdad before the gates are closed, for they open and shut them with the sun, for fear the schismatics should take the city and throw the books of learning into the Tigris.' 'O my father,' replied Alaeddin, 'I came not to Baghdad with this merchandise, for the sake of traffic, but to divert myself with the sight of foreign lands.' And Kemaleddin rejoined, 'O my son, we fear for thee and for thy goods from the wild Arabs.' But he answered, 'Harkye, sirrah, art thou master or servant? I will not enter Baghdad till the morning, that the townsfolk may see my merchandise and know me.' 'Do as thou wilt,' said the muleteer; 'I have given thee good counsel, and thou must judge for thyself.' Then Alaeddin bade them unload the mules and pitch the tent; so they did his bidding and abode there till the middle of the night, when the youth went out to do an occasion and seeing something gleaming afar off, said to Kemaleddin, 'O captain, what is yonder glittering?' The muleteer sat up and considering it straitly, knew it for the glint of spear-heads and Bedouin swords and harness. Now this was a troop of Bedouins under a chief called Ajlan Abou Naib, Sheikh of the Arabs, and when the neared the camp and saw the baggage, they said, one to another, 'O night of booty!' Quoth Kemaleddin, 'Avaunt, O meanest of Arabs!' But Abou Naib smote him with his javelin in the breast, that the point came out gleaming from his back, and he fell down dead at the tent-door. Then cried the water-carrier, 'Avaunt, O foulest of Arabs!' and one of them smote him with a sword upon the shoulder, that it issued shining from the tendons of the throat and he also fell slain. Then the Bedouins fell upon the caravan from all sides and slew the whole company except Alaeddin, after which they loaded the mules with the spoil and made off. Quoth Alaeddin to himself, 'Thy dress and mule will be the death of thee.' So he put off his cassock and threw it over the back of a mule, remaining in his shirt and drawers alone; after which he went to the door of the tent and finding there a pool of blood from the slain, rolled himself in it, till he was as a slain man, drowned in his blood. Meanwhile Ajlan said to his men, 'O Arabs, was this caravan bound from Egypt for Baghdad or from Baghdad for Egypt?' 'It was bound from Egypt for Baghdad,' answered they. 'Then,' said he, 'return to the slain, for methinks the owner of the caravan is not dead.' So they turned back and fell to larding the slain with lance and sword-thrusts, [lest any life were left in them,] till they came to Alaeddin, who had laid himself among the dead bodies. Quoth they, 'Thou dost but feign thyself dead, but we will make an end of thee.' So one of the Bedouins drew his javelin and should have plunged it into his breast. But he cried out, 'Save me, O my lord Abdulcadir!' and behold, he saw a hand turn the lance away from his breast to that of the muleteer, so that it pierced the latter and spared himself. Then the Bedouins made off; and when Alaeddin saw that the birds were flown with their purchase, he rose and set off running; but Abou Naib looked back and said, 'O Arabs, I see somewhat moving.' So one of the Bedouins turned back and spying Alaeddin running, called out to him, saying, 'Flight shall not avail thee, and we after thee;' and he smote his mare with his fist and pricked after him. Then Alaeddin, seeing before him a watering tank and a cistern beside it, climbed up into a niche in the cistern and stretching himself along, feigned sleep and said, 'O gracious Protector, cover me with the veil of Thy protection, that may not be torn away!' Presently, the Bedouin came up to the cistern and standing in his stirrups put out one hand to lay hold of Alaeddin; but he said 'Save me, O my lady Nefiseh! Now is thy time!' And behold, a scorpion stung the Bedouin in the palm and he cried out, saying, 'Help, O Arabs! I am stung;' and fell off his mare. His comrades came up to him and set him on horseback again, saying, 'What hath befallen thee?' Quoth he, 'A scorpion stung me.' And they departed, leaving Alaeddin in the niche.
Meanwhile, Mehmoud of Balkh loaded his beasts and fared on till he came to the Valley of Dogs, where he found Alaeddin's men lying slain. At this he rejoiced and went on till he reached the reservoir. Now his mule was athirst and turned aside to drink, but took fright at Alaeddin's shadow in the water and started; whereupon Mehmoud raised his eyes and seeing Alaeddin lying in the niche, stripped to his shirt and trousers, said to him, 'Who hath dealt thus with thee and left thee in this ill plight?' 'The Bedouins,' answered Alaeddin, and Mehmoud said, 'O my son, the mules and the baggage were thy ransom; so do thou comfort thyself with the saying of the poet:
So but a man may win to save his soul alive from death, But as the paring of his nail his wealth he reckoneth.
But now, O my son,' continued he, 'come down and fear no hurt.' So he came down from the niche and Mehmoud mounted him on a mule and fared on with him, till they reached Baghdad, where he brought him to his own house and bade his servants carry him to the bath, saying to him, 'O my son, the goods and money were the ransom of thy life; but, if thou wilt harken to me, I will give thee the worth of that thou hast lost, twice told.' When he came out of the bath, Mehmoud carried him into a saloon with four estrades, decorated with gold, and let bring a tray of all manner meats. So they ate and drank and Mehmoud turned to Alaeddin and would have taken a kiss of him; but he received it upon his hand and said, 'Dost thou persist in thy evil designs upon me? Did I not tell thee that, were I wont to sell this merchandise to other than thee for gold, I would sell it thee for silver?' Quoth Mehmoud, 'I will give thee neither mule nor clothes nor merchandise save at this price; for I am mad for love of thee, and God bless him who said:
Abou Bilal his saw of an object of love, Which from one of his elders himself did derive "The lover's not healed of the pangs of desire By clips nor by kisses, excepting he swive."
'This may never be,' replied Alaeddin. 'Take back thy dress and thy mule and open the door, that I may go out.' So he opened the door, and Alaeddin went forth and walked on, with the dogs yelping at his heels, till he saw the door of a mosque open and going in, took shelter in the vestibule. Presently, he espied a light approaching and examining it, saw that it came from a pair of lanterns borne by two slaves before two merchants, an old man of comely aspect and a youth. He heard the latter say to the other, 'O my uncle, I conjure thee by Allah, give me back my wife!' The old man replied, 'Did I not warn thee, many a time, when the oath of divorce was always in thy mouth, as it were thy Koran?' Then he turned and seeing Alaeddin, as he were a piece of the moon, said to him, 'Who art thou, O my son?' Quoth he, 'I am Alaeddin, son of Shemseddin, Provost of the merchants at Cairo. I besought my father for merchandise; so he packed me fifty loads of goods and gave me ten thousand dinars, wherewith I set out for Baghdad; but when I came to the Lion's Copse, the Bedouins fell upon me and took all I had. So I entered this city, knowing not where to pass the night, and seeing this place, I took shelter here.' 'O my son,' said the old man, 'what sayst thou to a thousand dinars and a suit of clothes and a mule worth other two thousand?' 'To what end wilt thou give me this?' asked Alaeddin, and the other answered, 'This young man, whom thou seest, is the only son of my brother and I have an only daughter called Zubeideh the Lutanist, who is endowed with beauty and grace. I married her to him and he loves her, but she hates him. Now he took an oath of triple divorcement and broke it. As soon as she heard of this, she left him, and he egged on all the folk to intercede with me to restore her to him; but I told him that this could not lawfully be done but by an intermediate marriage, and we have agreed to make some stranger the intermediary, so none may taunt him with this affair. So, as thou art a stranger, come with us and we will marry thee to her; thou shalt lie with her to-night and on the morrow divorce her, and we will give thee what I said.' 'By Allah,' quoth Alaeddin to himself, 'it were better to pass the night with a bride on a bed in a house, than in the streets and vestibules!' So he went with them to the Cadi, who, as soon as he saw Alaeddin, was moved to love of him and said to the old man, 'What is your will?' Quoth he, 'We wish to marry this young man to my daughter, as an intermediary, and the contract is to be for ten thousand dinars, dowry precedent, for which he shall give us a bond. If he divorce her in the morning, we will give him a thousand dinars and a mule and dress worth other two thousand; but if he divorce her not, he shall pay down the ten thousand dinars, according to the bond.' The Cadi drew up the marriage contract to this effect and the lady's father took a bond for the dowry. Then he took Alaeddin and clothing him anew, carried him to his daughter's house, where he left him at the door, whilst he himself went in to the young lady and gave her the bond, saying, 'Take the bond of thy dowry, for I have married thee to a handsome youth by name Alaeddin Abou esh Shamat; so do thou use him with all consideration.' Then he left her and went to his own lodging. Now the lady's cousin had an old waiting- woman, to whom he had done many a kindness and who used to visit Zubeideh; so he said to her, 'O my mother, if my cousin Zubeideh see this handsome young man, she will never after accept of me; so I would fain have thee contrive to keep them apart.' 'By thy youth,' answered she, 'I will not suffer him to approach her!' Then she went to Alaeddin and said to him, 'O my son, I have a warning to give thee, for the love of God the Most High, and do thou follow my advice, for I fear for thee from this damsel: let her lie alone and handle her not nor draw near to her.' 'Why so?' asked he, and she answered, 'Because her body is full of elephantiasis and I fear lest she infect thy fair youth.' Quoth he, 'I have no need of her.' Moreover, she went to the lady and said the like to her of Alaeddin; and she replied, 'I have no need of him, but will let him lie alone, and on the morrow he shall go his way.' Then she called a slave-girl and said to her, 'Take him the tray of food, that he may sup.' So the maid carried him the tray of food and set it before him, and he ate his fill; after which he sat down and fell to reciting the chapter called Ya-sin in a sweet voice. The lady listened to him and found his voice as melodious as the psalms of David, which when she heard, she exclaimed, 'Beshrew the old hag that told me that he was affected with leprosy! Surely, that is a lie against him, for this is not the voice of one who hath such a disease.' Then she took a lute of Indian workmanship and tuning it, sang the following verses, in a voice, whose music would stay the birds in mid-heaven:
I am enamoured of a fawn with black and languorous eyes; The willow-branches, as he goes, are jealous of him still. Me he rejects and others 'joy his favours in my stead. This is indeed the grace of God He gives to whom He will.
As soon as he had finished his recitation, he sang the following verse in reply:
My salutation to the shape that through the wede doth show And to the roses in the cheeks' full-flowering meads that blow!
When she heard this, her inclination for him redoubled and she rose and lifted the curtain; and Alaeddin, seeing her, repeated these verses:
She shineth forth, a moon, and bends, a willow-wand, And breathes out ambergris and gazes, a gazelle. Meseems as if grief loved my heart and when from her Estrangement I abide, possession to it fell.
Thereupon she came forward, swinging her hips and swaying gracefully from side to side with a shape the handiwork of Him whose bounties are hidden, and each of them stole a glance at the other, that cost them a thousand regrets. Then, for that the arrows of her glances overcame his heart, he repeated the following verses:
The moon of the heavens she spied and called to my thought The nights of our loves in the meadows under her shine. Yea, each of us saw a moon, but, sooth to say, It was her eyes that I saw and she saw mine.
Then she drew near him, and when there remained but two paces between them, he repeated these verses:
She took up three locks of her hair and spread them out one night And straight three nights discovered at once unto my sight. Then did she turn her visage up to the moon of the sky And showed me two moons at one season, both burning clear and bright.
Then said he to her, 'Keep off from me, lest thou infect me.' Whereupon she uncovered her wrist to him, and he saw that it was cleft [like a peach] and its whiteness was as the whiteness of silver. Then said she, 'Hold off from me, thou, for thou art stricken with leprosy, and belike thou wilt infect me.' 'Who told thee I was a leper?' asked he, and she said, 'The old woman.' Quoth he, 'It was she told me that thou wast afflicted with elephantiasis.' So saying, he bared his arms and showed her that his skin was like virgin silver, whereupon she pressed him to her bosom and they clipped one another. Then she took him and lying down on her back, did off her trousers, whereupon that which his father had left him rose up [in rebellion] against him and he said, 'To it, O elder of yards, O father of nerves!' And putting his hands to her flanks, set the nerve of sweetness to the mouth of the cleft and thrust on to the wicket-gate. His passage was by the gate of victories [or openings] and after this he entered the Monday market and those of Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday and finding the carpet after the measure of the estrade, he plied [or turned] the box within its sheath [or cover] till he came to [the end of] it. When it was morning, he exclaimed, 'Alas for delight that is not fulfilled! The raven takes it and flies away!' 'What means this saying?' asked she, and he answered, 'O my lady, I have but this hour to abide with thee.' Quoth she, 'Who saith so?' and he, 'Thy father made me give him a bond to pay ten thousand dinars to thy dowry; and except I pay it this very day, they will lay me in prison therefor in the Cadi's house; and now my hand lacketh one para of the sum.' 'O my lord,' said she, 'is the marriage bond in thy hand or in theirs?' 'In mine,' answered he, 'but I have nothing.' Quoth she, 'The matter is easy; fear nothing. Take these hundred dinars; if I had more, I would give thee what thou lackest; but my father, for his love of my cousin, hath transported all his good, even to my trinkets, from my lodging to his. But when they send thee a serjeant of the court and the Cadi and my father bid thee divorce, answer thou, "By what code is it right that I should marry at nightfall and divorce in the morning?" Then kiss the Cadi's hand and give him a present, and in like manner kiss the Assessors' hands and give each of them half a score dinars. So they will all speak with thee and if they say to thee, "Why dost thou not divorce her and take the thousand dinars and the mule and suit of clothes, according to contract?" do thou answer, "Every hair of her head is worth a thousand dinars to me and I will never put her away, neither will I take a suit of clothes nor aught else." If the Cadi say to thee, "Then pay down the dowry," do thou reply, "I am straitened at this present;" whereupon he and the Assessors will deal friendly with thee and allow thee time to pay.' Whilst they were talking, the Cadi's officer knocked at the door; so Alaeddin went down and the man said to him, 'The Cadi cites thee to answer thy father-in-law's summons.' Alaeddin gave him five dinars and said to him, 'O serjeant, by what code am I bound to marry at night and divorce next morning?' 'By none of ours,' answered the serjeant; 'and if thou be ignorant of the law, I will act as thine advocate.' Then they went to the court and the Cadi said to Alaeddin, 'Why dost thou not divorce the woman and take what falls to thee by the contract?' With this he went up to the Cadi and kissing his hand, put in it fifty dinars and said, 'O our lord the Cadi, by what code is it right that I should marry at night and divorce in the morning in my own despite?' 'Divorce on compulsion,' replied the Cadi, 'is sanctioned by no school of the Muslims.' Then said the lady's father, 'If thou wilt not divorce, pay me the ten thousand dinars, her dowry.' Quoth Alaeddin, 'Give me three days' time.' But the Cadi said, 'Three days is not enough; he shall give thee ten.' So they agreed to this and bound him to pay the dowry or divorce after ten days. Then he left them and taking meat and rice and butter and what else of food he needed, returned to his wife and told her what had passed; whereupon she said, 'Between night and day, wonders may happen: and God bless him who 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 wond'rous things are hourly brought to bed.
Then she rose and made ready food and brought the tray, and they ate and drank and made merry awhile. Presently, Alaeddin besought her to let him hear some music; so she took the lute and played a measure, that would have made the very rock dance for delight, and the strings cried out, in ecstasy, 'O Loving One!' after which she passed into a livelier measure. As they were thus passing the time in mirth and delight, there came a knocking at the door and Zubeideh said to Alaeddin, 'Go and see who is at the door.' So he went down and finding four dervishes standing without, said to them, 'What do you want?' 'O my lord,' answered they, 'we are foreign dervishes, the food of whose souls is music and dainty verse, and we would fain take our pleasure with thee this night. On the morrow we will go our way, and with God the Most High be thy reward; for we adore music and there is not one of us but hath store of odes and songs and ballads.' 'I must consult [my wife],' answered he and returned and told Zubeideh, who said, 'Open the door to them.' So he went down again and bringing them up, made them sit down and welcomed them. Then he brought them food, but they would not eat and said, 'O my lord, our victual is to magnify God with out hearts and hear music with our ears: and God bless him who saith:
We come for your company only, and not for your feasts; For eating for eating's sake is nought but a fashion of beasts.
Just now,' added they, 'we heard pleasant music here; but when we knocked, it ceased; and we would fain know whether the player was a slave-girl, white of black, or a lady.' 'It was this my wife,' answered he and told them all that had befallen him, adding, 'My father-in-law hath bound me to pay a dowry of ten thousand dinars for her and they have given me ten days' time.' 'Have no care and think nought but good,' said one of the dervishes; 'for I am head of the convent and have forty dervishes under my hand. I will gather thee from them the ten thousand dinars and thou shalt pay thy father-in-law the dowry. But now bid thy wife make us music, that we may be heartened and solaced, for to some music is food, to others medicine and to others refreshment.' Now these four dervishes were none other than the Khalif Haroun er Reshid and his Vizier Jaafer the Barmecide and Abou Nuwas ben Hani and Mesrour the headsman; and the reason of their coming thither was that the Khalif, being heavy at heart, had called his Vizier and signified to him his wish to go forth and walk about the city, to divert himself. So they all four donned dervish habits and went out and walked about, till they came to Zubeideh's house and hearing music, were minded to know the cause. They spent the night in mirth and harmony and discourse, till the morning, when the Khalif laid a hundred dinars under the prayer-carpet and taking leave of Alaeddin, went his way, he and his companions. Presently, Zubeideh lifted the carpet and finding the hundred dinars, gave them to her husband, saying, 'Take these hundred dinars that I have found under the prayer-carpet; the dervishes must have laid them there, without our knowledge.' So he took the money and repairing to the market, bought meat and rice and butter and so forth. When it was night, he lighted the candled and said to Zubeideh, 'The dervishes have not brought the ten thousand dinars that they promised me: but indeed they are poor men.' As they were talking, the dervishes knocked at the door and she said, 'Go down and open to them.' So he went down and bringing them up, said to them, 'Have you brought me the ten thousand dinars?' 'We have not been able to get aught thereof as yet,' answered they, 'but fear nothing: to-morrow, God willing, we will make an alchymic operation for thee. But now bid thy wife play her best to us and gladden our hearts, for we love music.' So she made them music, that would have caused the very rocks to dance; and they passed the night in mirth and converse and good cheer, till the morning appeared with its light and shone, when they took leave of Alaeddin and went their way, after laying other hundred dinars under the carpet. They continued to visit him thus every night for nine nights, and each morning the Khalif put a hundred dinars under the prayer-carpet, till the tenth night, when they came not. Now the reason for their failure to come was that the Khalif had sent to a great merchant, saying to him, 'Bring me fifty loads of stuffs, such as come from Cairo, each worth a thousand dinars, and write on each bale its price; and bring me also a male Abyssinian slave.' The merchant did the bidding of the Khalif, who write a letter to Alaeddin, as from his father Shemseddin, and committed it to the slave, together with the fifty loads and a basin and ewer of gold and other presents, saying to him, 'Take these bales and what else and go to such and such a quarter and enquire for Alaeddin Abou esh Shamat, at the house of the Provost of the merchants.' So the slave took the letter and the goods and went out on his errand.
Meanwhile the lady's first husband went to her father and said to him, 'Come, let us go to Alaeddin and make him divorce my cousin.' So they set out, and when they came to the street in which Zubeideh's house stood, they found fifty mules, laden with stuffs, and a black slave riding on a she-mule. So they said to him, 'Whose goods are these?' 'They belong to my lord Alaeddin Abou esh Shamat,' answered he. 'His father equipped him with merchandise and sent him on a journey to Baghdad; but the Bedouins fell on him and took all he had. So when the news of his despoilment reached his father, he despatched me to him with these fifty loads, in place of those he had lost, besides a mule laden with fifth thousand dinars and a parcel of clothes worth much money and a cloak of sables and a basin and ewer of gold.' When the old merchant heard this, he said, 'He whom thou seekest is my son-in-law and I will show thee his house.' Now Alaeddin was sitting in great concern, when one knocked at the door, and he said, 'O Zubeideh, God is all-knowing! Thy father hath surely sent me an officer from the Cadi or the Chief of the Police.' 'Go down,' said she, 'and see what it is.' So he went down and opening the door, found his father-in-law, with an Abyssinian slave, dusky-hued and pleasant of favour, riding on a mule. When the slave saw him, he alighted and kissed his hands: and Alaeddin said, 'What dost thou want?' Quoth he, 'I am the slave of my load Alaeddin Abou esh Shamat, son of Shemseddin, Provost of the merchants of Cairo, who has sent me to him with this charge.' Then he gave him the letter and Alaeddin, opening it, read what follows:
Harkye, my letter, when my beloved sees thee, Kiss thou the earth before him and his shoes. Look thou go softly and hasten not nor hurry, For in his hands are my life and my repose.
Then after the usual salutations from Shemseddin to his son, the letter proceeded thus: 'Know, O my son, that news hath reached me of the slaughter of thy men and the plunder of thy baggage; so I send thee herewith fifty loads of Egyptian stuffs, together with a suit of clothes and a cloak of sables and an ewer and basin of gold. Fear no evil and be not anywise troubled, for, O my son, the goods thou hast lost were the ransom of thy life. Thy mother and the people of the house are well and in good case and send thee many greetings. Moreover, O my son, I hear that they have married thee, by way of intermediation, to the lady Zubeideh the Lutanist and have imposed on thee a dowry of ten thousand dinars; wherefore I send thee also fifty thousand dinars by thy slave Selim, the bearer of these presents, whereout thou mayest pay the dowry and provide thyself with the rest.' When Alaeddin had made an end of reading the letter, he took possession of the goods and turning to the old merchant, said to him, 'O my father-in-law, take the ten thousand dinars, thy daughter's dowry, and take also the loads of goods and dispose of them, and thine be the profit; only return me the cost-price.' 'Nay, by Allah,' answered he, 'I will take nothing; and as for thy wife's dowry, do thou settle it with her.' Then they went in to Zubeideh, after the goods had been brought in, and she said to her father, 'O my father, whose goods are these?' 'They belong to thy husband Alaeddin,' answered he; 'his father hath sent them to him in place of those of which the Bedouins spoiled him. Moreover, he hath sent him fifty thousand dinars and a parcel of clothes and a cloak of sables and a riding mule and an ewer and basin of gold. As for the dower, that is thine affair.' Thereupon Alaeddin rose and opening the chest [of money] gave her her dowry. Then said the lady's cousin, 'O my uncle, let him divorce to me my wife;' but the old man replied, 'This may never be now, for the marriage-tie is in his hand.' With this the young man went out, sore afflicted, and returning home, fell sick, for he had received his death-blow; so he took to his bed and presently died. But as for Alaeddin, he went to the market and buying what victual he needed, made a banquet as usual against the night, saying to Zubeideh, 'See these lying dervishes; they promised us and broke their promise.' Quoth she, 'Thou art the son of a Provost of the merchants yet did thy hand lack of a para; how then should it be with poor dervishes?' 'God the Most High hath enabled us to do without them,' answered Alaeddin; 'but never again will I open the door to them.' 'Why so,' asked she, 'seeing that their coming brought us good luck, and moreover, they put a hundred dinars under the prayer-carpet for us every night? So needs must thou open to them, if they come.' So when the day departed with its light and the night came, they lighted the candles and he said to her, 'Come, Zubeideh, make us music.' At this moment some one knocked at the door, and she said, 'Go and see who is at the door.' So he went down and opened it and seeing the dervishes, said, 'Welcome to the liars! Come up.' Accordingly, they went up with him, and he made them sit down and brought them the tray of food. So they ate and drank and made merry and presently said to him, 'O my lord, our hearts have been troubled for thee: what hath passed between thee and thy father-in-law?' 'God hath compensated us beyond our desire,' answered he. 'By Allah,' rejoined they, 'we were in fear for thee and nought kept us from thee but our lack of money.' Quoth he, 'My Lord hath vouchsafed me speedy relief; for my father hath sent me fifty thousand dinars and fifty loads of stuffs, each worth a thousand dinars, besides an Abyssinian slave and a riding mule and a suit of clothes and a basin and an ewer of gold. Moreover, I have made my peace with my father-in- law and my wife is confirmed to me; so praised be God for this!' Presently the Khalif rose to do an occasion; whereupon Jaafer turned to Alaeddin and said to him, 'Look to thy manners, for thou art in the presence of the Commander of the Faithful.' 'How have I failed in good breeding before the Commander of the Faithful,' asked he, 'and which of you is he?' Quoth Jaafer, 'He who went out but now is the Commander of the Faithful and I am the Vizier Jaafer: this is Mesrour the headsman, and this other is Abou Nuwas ben Hani. And now, O Alaeddin, use thy reason and bethink thee how many days' journey it is from Cairo hither.' 'Five-and-forty days' journey,' answered he, and Jaafer rejoined, 'Thy baggage was stolen but ten days ago; so how could the news have reached thy father, and how could he pack thee up other goods and send them to thee five-and-forty days' journey in ten days' time?' 'O my lord,' said Alaeddin, 'and whence then came they?' 'From the Commander of the Faithful,' replied Jaafer, 'of his much affection for thee.' As he spoke, the Khalif entered and Alaeddin, rising, kissed the ground before him and said, 'God keep thee, O Commander of the Faithful, and give thee long life, so the folk may not lack thy bounty and beneficence!' 'O Alaeddin,' replied the Khalif, 'let Zubeideh play us an air, by way of thank-offering for thy deliverance.' So she played him the rarest of measures on the lute, till the very stones shook for delight and the strings cried out for ecstasy, 'O Loving One!' They spent the night after the merriest fashion, and in the morning, the Khalif said to Alaeddin, 'Come to the Divan to-morrow.' 'I hear and obey, O Commander of the Faithful,' answered he, 'so it please God and thou be well and in good case.' So on the morrow he took ten trays and putting a costly present on each, went up with them to the palace. As the Khalif was sitting on the throne, Alaeddin appeared at the door of the Divan, repeating the following verses:
Good fortune and glory still wait on thy days And rubbed in the dust be thine envier's nose! May the days never stint to be white unto thee And black with despite be the days of thy foes!
'Welcome, O Alaeddin!' sad the Khalif, and he replied, 'O Commander of the Faithful, the Prophet (whom God bless and preserve) accepted presents; and these ten trays, with what is on them, are my present to thee.' The Khalif accepted his gift and ordering him a robe of honour, made him Provost of the merchants and gave him a seat in the Divan. Presently, his father-in-law came in, and seeing Alaeddin seated in his place and clad in a robe of honour, said to the Khalif, 'O King of the age, why is this man sitting in my place and wearing this robe of honour?' Quoth the Khalif, 'I have made him Provost of the merchants, and thou art deposed; for offices are by investiture and not in perpetuity.' 'Thou hast done well, O Commander of the Faithful,' answered the merchant; 'for he is art and part of us. May God make the best of us the orderers of our affairs! How many a little one hath become great!' Then the Khalif wrote Alaeddin a patent [of investiture] and gave it to the Master of Police, who gave it to the crier and the latter made proclamation in the Divan, saying, 'None is Provost of the merchants but Alaeddin Abou esh Shamat, and it behoves all to give heed to his words and pay him respect and honour and consideration!' Moreover, when the Divan broke up, the Master of the Police took Alaeddin and carried him through the thoroughfares of Baghdad, whilst the crier went before him, making proclamation of his dignity. Next day, Alaeddin opened a shop for his slave Selim and set him therein, to buy and sell, whilst he himself rode to the palace and took his place in the Khalif's Divan.
One day, as he sat in his place, one said to the Khalif, 'O Commander of the Faithful, may thy head survive such an one the boon-companion! He is gone to the mercy of God the Most High, but may thy life be prolonged!' Quoth the Khalif, 'Where is Alaeddin Abou esh Shamat?' So he went up to the Commander of the Faithful, who clad him in a splendid dress of honour and made him his boon- companion in the dead man's room, appointing him a monthly wage of a thousand dinars. He continued to fill his new office till, one day, as he sat in the Divan, according to his wont, an Amir came up with a sword and shield in his hand and said, 'O Commander of the Faithful, mayst thou outlive the Chief of the Sixty, for he is this day dead;' whereupon the Khalif ordered Alaeddin a dress of honour and made him Chief of the Sixty, in place of the dead man, who had neither wife nor child. So Alaeddin laid hands on his estate, and the Khalif said to him, 'Bury him in the earth and take all he hath left of wealth and slaves, male and female.' Then he shook the handkerchief and dismissed the Divan, whereupon Alaeddin went forth, attended by Ahmed ed Denef, captain of the right hand, and Hassan Shouman, captain of the left hand troop of the Khalif's guard, riding at his either stirrup, each with his forty men. Presently, he turned to Hassan Shouman and his men and said to them, 'Plead ye for me with Captain Ahmed ed Denef, that he accept me as his son before God.' And Ahmed ed Denef assented, saying, 'I and my forty men will go before thee to the Divan every day.'
After this, Alaeddin abode in the Khalif's service many days; till one day it chanced that he left the Divan and returning home, dismissed Ahmed ed Denef and his men and sat down with his wife, who lighted the candles and went out of the room upon an occasion. Presently, he heard a great cry and running in haste to see what was the matter, found that it was his wife who had cried out. She was lying prone on the groudn and when he put his hand to her breast, he found her dead. Now her father's house faced that of Alaeddin, and he, hearing her cry out, came in and said, 'What is the matter, O my lord Alaeddin?' 'O my father,' answered he, 'may thy head outlive thy daughter Zubeideh! But the honour we owe the dead is to bury them.' So, on the morrow, they buried her in the earth and her husband and father condoled with each other. Moreover, Alaeddin put on mourning apparel and absented himself from the Divan, abiding tearful-eyed and sorrowful- hearted. After awhile, the Khalif said to Jaafer, 'O Vizier, what is the cause of Alaeddin's absence from the Divan?' 'O Commander of the Faithful,' answered Jaafer, 'he is in mourning for his wife Zubeideh;' and the Khalif said, 'It behoves us to pay him a visit of condolence.' 'I hear and obey,' replied Jaafer. So they took horse and riding to Alaeddin's house, came in upon him with their attendants, as he sat at home; whereupon he rose to receive them and kissed the earth before the Khalif, who said to him, 'May God abundantly make good thy loss to thee!' 'May He preserve thee to us, O Commander of the Faithful!' answered Alaeddin. Then said the Khalif, 'O Alaeddin, why hast thou absented thyself from the Divan?' And he replied, 'Because of my mourning for my wife Zubeideh, O Commander of the Faithful.' 'Put away grief from thee,' rejoined the prince. 'She is dead and gone to the mercy of God the Most High, and mourning will avail thee nothing.' But Alaeddin said, 'O Commander of the Faithful, I shall never leave mourning for her till I die and they bury me by her side.' Quoth Haroun, 'With God is compensation for every loss, and neither wealth nor device can deliver from death. God bless him who said:
Every son of woman, how long soe'er his life be, Must one day be carried upon the bulging bier. How shall he have pleasure in life or hold it goodly, He unto whose cheeks the dust must soon adhere?'
Then, when he had made an end of condoling with him, he charged him not to absent himself from the Divan and returned to his palace. On the morrow, Alaeddin mounted and riding to the court, kissed the ground before the Khalif, who rose from the throne, to greet and welcome him, and bade him take his appointed place in the Divan saying, 'O Alaeddin, thou art my guest to-night.' So presently he carried him into his seraglio and calling a slave- girl named Cout el Culoub, said to her, 'Alaeddin had a wife called Zubeideh, who used to sing to him and solace him of care and trouble; but she is gone to the mercy of God the Most High, and now I desire that thou play him an air of thy rarest fashion on the lute, that he may be diverted from his grief and mourning.' So she rose and made rare music; and the Khalif said to Alaeddin, 'What sayst thou of this damsel's voice?' 'O Commander of the Faithful', answered he, 'Zubeideh's voice was the finer; but she is rarely skilled in touching the lute, and her playing would make a rock dance.' 'Doth she please thee?' asked the Khalif. 'Yes, O Commander of the Faithful,' answered Alaeddin, and Haroun said, 'By the life of my head and the tombs of my forefathers, she is a gift from me to thee, she and her waiting-women!' Alaeddin thought that the Khalif was jesting with him; but, on the morrow, he went in to Cout el Culoub and said to her, 'I have given thee to Alaeddin;' whereat she rejoiced, for she had seen and loved him. Then the Khalif returned to the Divan and calling porters, said to them, 'Set Cout el Culoub and her waiting-women in a litter and carry them, together with her goods, to Alaeddin's house.' So they did as he bade them and left her in the upper chamber of Alaeddin's house, whilst the Khalif sat in the hall of audience till the close of the day, when the Divan broke up and he retired to his harem.
Meanwhile, Cout el Culoub, having taken up her lodging in Alaeddin's house, with her women, forty in all, besides eunuchs, called two of the latter and said to them, 'Sit ye on stools, one on the right and another on the left hand of the door; and when Alaeddin comes home, kiss his hands and say to him, "Our mistress Cout el Culoub bids thee to her in the upper chamber, for the Khalif hath given her to thee, her and her women."' 'We hear and obey,' answered they and did as she bade them. So, when Alaeddin returned, he found two of the Khalif's eunuchs sitting at the door and was amazed and said to himself, 'Surely, this is not my own house; or else what can have happened?' When the eunuchs saw him, they rose and kissing his hands, said to him, 'We are of the Khalif's household and servants to Cout el Culoub, who salutes thee, giving thee to know that the Khalif hath bestowed her on thee, her and her women, and craves thy company.' Quoth Alaeddin, 'Say ye to her, "Thou art welcome; but so long as thou abidest with me, I will not enter thy lodging, for it befits not that what was the master's should become the servant's;" and ask her also what was the sum of her day's expense in the Khalif's palace.' So they went in to her and did his errand to her, and she replied, 'A hundred dinars a day;' whereupon quoth he in himself, 'There was no need for the Khalif to give me Cout el Culoub, that I should be put to such an expense for her; but there is no help for it.' So she abode with him awhile and he assigned her daily a hundred dinars for her maintenance, till, one day, he absented himself from the Divan and the Khalif said to Jaafer, 'O Vizier, I gave Cout el Culoub unto Alaeddin, that she might console him for his wife; but why doth he still hold aloof from us?' 'O Commander of the Faithful,' answered Jaafer, 'he spoke sooth who said, "Whoso findeth his beloved, forgetteth his friends."' 'Belike he hath excuse for his absence,' rejoined the Khalif; 'but we will pay him a visit.' (Now some days before this, Alaeddin had said to Jaafer, 'I complained to the Khalif of my grief for the loss of my wife Zubeideh, and he gave me Cout el Culoub.' And Jaafer replied, 'Except he loved thee, he had not given her to thee.' Hast thou gone in to her?' 'No, by Allah! answered Alaeddin. 'I know not her length from her breadth.' 'And why?' asked Jaafer. 'O Vizier,' replied Alaeddin, 'what befits the master befits not the servant.') Then the Khalif and Jaafer disguised themselves and went privily to visit Alaeddin; but he knew them and rising to them, kissed the hands of the Khalif, who looked at him and read trouble in his face. So he said to him, 'O Alaeddin, whence cometh this trouble in which I see thee? Hast thou gone in to Cout el Culoub?' 'O Commander of the Faithful,' answered he, 'what befits the master befits not the servant. No, I have not gone in to her nor do I know her length from her breadth; so do thou quit me of her.' Quoth the Khalif, 'I would fain see her and question her of her case.' And Alaeddin replied, 'I hear and obey, O Commander of the Faithful.' So the Khalif went in to Cout el Culoub, who rose and kissed the ground before him, and said to her, 'Hath Alaeddin gone in to thee?' 'No, O Commander of the Faithful,' answered she; 'I sent to bid him to me, but he would not come.' So he bade carry her back to the harem and saying to Alaeddin, 'Do not absent thyself from us,' returned to his palace. Accordingly, next morning, Alaeddin mounted and rode to the Divan, where he took his seat as Chief of the Sixty. Presently the Khalif bade his treasurer give the Vizier Jaafer ten thousand dinars and said to the latter, 'I charge thee to go down to the slave-market and buy Alaeddin a slave-girl with this sum.' So Jaafer took Alaeddin and went down with him to the bazaar. As change would have it, that very day, the Amir Khalid, Chief of the Baghdad Police, had gone down to the market to buy a slave-girl for his son Hebezlem Bezazeh. Now this son he had by his wife Khatoun, and he was foul of favour and had reached the age of twenty, without learning to ride, albeit his father was a valiant cavalier and a doughty champion and delighted in battle and adventure. One night, he had a dream of dalliance in sleep and told his mother, who rejoiced and told his father, saying, 'Fain would I find him a wife, for he is now apt for marriage.' Quoth Khalid, 'He is so foul of favour and withal so evil of odour, so sordid and churlish, that no woman would accept of him.' And she answered, 'We will buy him a slave- girl.' So it befell, for the accomplishment of that which God the Most High had decreed, that the Amir and his son went down, on the same day as Jaafer and Alaeddin, to the market, where they saw a beautiful girl, full of grace and symmetry, in the hands of a broker, and the Vizier said to the latter, 'O broker, ask her owner if he will take a thousand dinars for her.' The broker passed by the Amir and his son with the slave and Hebezlem took one look of her, that cost him a thousand sighs; and he fell passionately in love with her and said, 'O my father, buy me yonder slave-girl.' So the Amir called the broker, who brought the girl to him, and asked her her name. 'My name is Jessamine,' replied she; and he said to Hebezlem, 'O my son, an she please thee, bid for her.' Then he asked the broker what had been bidden for her and he replied, 'A thousand dinars.' 'She is mine for a thousand and one,' said Hebezlem, and the broker passed on to Alaeddin, who bid two thousand dinars for her; and as often as Hebezlem bid another dinar, Alaeddin bid a thousand. The Amir's son was vexed at this and said to the broker, 'Who is it that bids against me for the slave-girl?' 'It is the Vizier Jaafer,' answered the broker, 'who is minded to buy her for Alaeddin Abou esh Shamat.' Alaeddin continued to bid for her till he brought her price up to ten thousand dinars, and her owner sold her to him for that sum. So he took the girl and said to her, 'I give thee thy freedom for the love of God the Most High.' Then he married her and carried her to his house. When the broker returned, after having delivered the girl and received his brokerage, Hebezlem called him and said to him, 'Where is the girl?' Quoth he, 'She was bought for ten thousand dinars by Alaeddin, who hath set her free and married her.' At this the young man was greatly cast down and heaving many a sigh, returned home, sick for love of the damsel. He threw himself on his bed and refused food, and passion and love-longing were sore upon him. When his mother saw him in this plight, she said to him, 'God keep thee, O my son! What ails thee?' And he answered, 'Buy me Jessamine, O my mother.' 'When the flower-seller passes,' said she, 'I will buy thee a basketful of jessamine.' Quoth he, 'It is not the jessamine one smells I want, but a slave girl named Jessamine, whom my father would not buy for me.' So she said to her husband, 'Why didst thou not buy him the girl?' And he replied, 'What is fit for the master is not fit for the servant, and I have no power to take her; for no less a man bought her than Alaeddin, Chief of the Sixty.' Then the youth's weakness redoubled upon him, till he could neither sleep nor eat, and his mother bound her head with the fillets of mourning. Presently, as she sat at home, lamenting over her son, there came in to her an old woman, known as the mother of Ahmed Kemakim the arch-thief, a knave who would bore through the stoutest wall and scale the highest and steal the very kohl from the eye. From his earliest years he had been given to these foul practices, till they made him captain of the watch, when he committed a robbery and the Chief of the Police, taking him in the act, carried him to the Khalif, who bade put him to death. But he sought protection of the Vizier, whose intercession the Khalif never rejected; so he pleaded for him with the Commander of the Faithful, who said, 'How canst thou intercede for a wretch who is the pest of the human race?' 'O Commander of the Faithful,' replied Jaafer, 'do thou imprison him; he who built the [first] prison was a sage, seeing that a prison is the sepulchre of the live and a cause for their enemies to exult.' So the Khalif bade lay him in chains and write thereon, 'Appointed to remain until death and not to be loosed but on the bench of the washer of the dead.' And they fettered him and cast him into prison. Now his mother was a frequent visitor to the house of the Master of the Police and used to go in to her son in prison and say to him, 'Did I not warn thee to turn from thy wicked ways?' 'God decreed this to me,' would he answer; 'but, O my mother, when thou visitest the Amir's wife, make her intercede for me with her husband.' So when the old woman came in to the Lady Khatoun, she found her bound with the fillets of mourning and said to her, 'Wherefore dost thou mourn?' 'For my son Hebezlem Bezazeh,' answered she, and the old woman exclaimed, 'God keep thy son! What hath befallen him?' So Khatoun told her the whole story, and she said, 'What wouldst thou say of him who should find means to save thy son?' 'And what wilt thou do?' asked the lady. Quoth the old woman, 'I have a son called Ahmed Kemakim the arch-thief, who lies chained in prison, and on his fetters is written, "Appointed to remain till death." So do thou don thy richest clothes and trinkets and present thyself to thy husband with an open and smiling favour; and when he seeks of thee what men use to seek of women, put him off and say, "By Allah, it is a strange thing! When a man desires aught of his wife, he importunes her till she satisfies him; but if a wife desire aught of her husband, he will not grant it to her." Then he will say, "What dost thou want?" And do thou answer, "First swear to grant my request." If he swear to thee by his head or by Allah, say to him, "Swear to me the oath of divorce," and so not yield to him, except he do this. Then, if he swear to thee the oath of divorce, say to him, "Thou hast in prison a man called Ahmed Kemakim, and he has a poor mother, who is instant with me to urge thee to intercede for him with the Khalif, that he may relent towards him and thou earn a reward from God."' 'I hear and obey,' answered Khatoun. So when her husband came in to her, she did as the old woman had taught her and extorted the required oath from him, before she would yield to his wishes. He lay with her that night and on the morrow, after he had made his ablutions and prayed the morning prayers, he repaired to the prison and said to Ahmed Kemakim, 'Harkye, O arch-thief, dost thou repent of thy ill deeds?' 'I do indeed repent and turn to God,' answered he, 'and say with heart and tongue, "I ask pardon of Allah."' So he carried him, still chained, to the Divan and kissed the earth before the Khalif, who said to him, 'O Amir Khalid, what seekest thou?' Then he brought forward Ahmed Kemakim, shuffling in his fetters, and the Khalif said to him, 'O Kemakim, art thou yet alive?' 'O Commander of the Faithful,' answered he, 'the wretched are long-lived.' Then said the Khalif to the Amir, 'Why have thou brought him hither?' And he replied, 'O Commander of the Faithful, he hath a poor, desolate mother, who hath none but him, and she hath had recourse to thy slave, imploring him to intercede with thee to set him free and make him Captain of the Watch as before; for he repenteth of his evil courses.' Quoth the Khalif to Ahmed, 'Dost thou repent of thy sins?' 'I do indeed repent to God, O Commander of the Faithful,' answered he; whereupon the Khalif called for the blacksmith and made him strike off his irons on the bench of the washer of the dead. Moreover, he restored him to his former office and charged him to walk in the way of good and righteousness. So he kissed the Khalif's hands and donning the captain's habit, went forth, whilst they made proclamation of his appointment.
He abode awhile in the exercise of his office, till, one day, his mother went in to the wife of the Chief of the Police, who said to her, 'Praised be God who hath delivered thy son from prison and restored him to health and safety! But why dost thou not bid him cast about to get the girl Jessamine for my son Hebezlem Bezazeh?' 'That will I,' answered she and going out from her, repaired to her son. She found him drunken and said to him, 'O my son, none was the cause of thy release from prison but the wife of the Master of Police, and she would have thee go about to kill Alaeddin Abou esh Shamat and get his slave-girl Jessamine for her son Hebezlem Bezazeh.' 'That will be the easiest of things,' answered he, 'and I will set about it this very night.' Now this was the first night of the new month, and it was the Khalif's wont to pass that night with the Princess Zubeideh, for the setting free of a male or female slave or what not else of the like. On this occasion, he used to doff his royal habit and lay it upon a chair in the sitting-chamber, together with his rosary and dagger and royal signet and a golden lantern, adorned with three jewels strung on a wire of gold, by which he set great store, committing all these things to the charge of the eunuchs, whilst he sent into the Lady Zubeideh's apartment. So Ahmed Kemakim waited till midnight, when Canopus shone and all creatures slept, whilst the Creator covered them with the curtain [of the dark]. Then he took his naked sword in one hand and his grappling iron in the other, and repairing to the Khalif's pavilion, cast his grapnel on to the roof. It caught there and he fixed his rope-ladder and climbed up to the roof; then, raising the trap-door, let himself down into the saloon, where he found the eunuchs asleep. So he drugged them with henbane and taking the Khalif's dress and dagger and rosary and handkerchief and signet-ring and lantern, returned whence he came and betook himself to the house of Alaeddin, who had that night celebrated his wedding festivities with Jessamine and had gone in to her and gotten her with child. Ahmed climbed over into his saloon and raising one of the marble slabs of the floor, dug a hole under it and laid the stolen things therein, all save the lantern, which he kept, saying in himself, 'I will set it before me, when I sit at wine, and drink by its light.' Then he plastered down the marble slab, as it was, and returning whence he came, went back to his own house. As soon as it was day, the Khalif went out into the sitting-chamber, and finding the eunuchs drugged with henbane, aroused them. Then he put his hand to the chair and found neither dress nor signet nor rosary nor dagger nor lantern; whereat he was exceeding wroth and donning the habit of anger, which was red, sat down in the Divan. So the Vizier Jaafer came forward and kissing the earth before him, said, 'May God avert the wrath of the Commander of the Faithful!' 'O Vizier,' answered the Khalif, 'I am exceeding wroth!' 'What has happened?' asked Jaafer; so he told him what had happened and when the Chief of the Police appeared, with Ahmed Kemakim at his stirrup, he said to him, 'O Amir Khalid, how goes Baghdad?' And he answered, 'It is safe and quiet.' 'Thou liest!' rejoined the Khalif. 'How so, O Commander of the Faithful?' asked the Amir. So he told him the case and added, 'I charge thee to bring me back all the stolen things.' 'O Commander of the Faithful', replied the Amir, 'the vinegar-worm is of and in the vinegar, and no stranger can get at this place.' But the Khalif said, 'Except thou bring me these things, I will put thee to death.' Quoth Khalid, 'Ere thou slay me, slay Ahmed Kemakim, for none should know the robber and the traitor but the captain of the watch.' Then came forward Ahmed Kemakim and said to the Khalif, 'Accept my intercession for the Master of Police, and I will be responsible to thee for the thief and will follow his track till I find him; but give me two Cadis and two Assessors, for he who did this thing feareth thee not, nor doth he fear the Chief of the Police nor any other.' 'Thou shalt have what thou seekest,' answered the Khalif; 'but let search be made first in my palace and then in those of the Vizier and the Chief of the Sixty.' 'Thou sayst well, O Commander of the Faithful,' rejoined Ahmed; 'most like the thief is one who had been reared in thy household or that of one of thy chief officers.' 'As my head liveth,' said Haroun, 'whosoever shall appear to have done the deed, I will put him to death, be it my very own son!' Then Ahmed Kemakim received a written warrant to enter and search the houses and taking in his hand a [divining] rod made of equal parts of bronze, copper, iron and steel, went forth, attended by the Cadis and Assessors and the Chief of the Police. He first searched the palace of the Khalif, then that of the Vizier Jaafer; after which he went the round of the houses of the chamberlains and officers, till he came to that of Alaeddin. When the latter heard the clamour before his house, he left his wife and opening the door, found the Master of Police without, with a crowd of people. So he said, 'What is the matter, O Amir Khalid?' The Chief of the Police told him the case and Alaeddin said, 'Enter my house and search it.' 'Pardon, O my lord,' replied the Amir; 'thou art a man in authority, and God forbid that such should be guilty of treason!' Quoth Alaeddin, 'Needs must my house be searched. So they entered, and Ahmed Kemakim went straight to the saloon and let the rod fall upon the slab, under which he had buried the stolen goods, with such force that the marble broke in sunder and discovered something that glistened underneath. Then said he, 'In the name of God! what He willeth! Thanks to our coming, we have lit upon a treasure. Let us go down into this hiding-place and see what is therein.' So the Cadis and Assessors looked down into the hole and finding there the stolen goods, drew up a statement of how they had discovered them in Alaeddin's house, to which they set their seals. Then they bade seize upon Alaeddin and took his turban from his head, and making an inventory of all his property and effects, [sealed them up]. Meanwhile, Ahmed Kemakim laid hands on Jessamine, who was with child by Alaeddin, and committed her to his mother, saying, 'Deliver her to the Lady Khatoun.' So the old woman took her and carried her to the wife of the Master of Police. As soon as Hebezlem saw her, health and strength returned to him and he arose forthright, rejoicing greatly, and would have drawn near her: but she pulled a dagger from her girdle and said, 'Keep off from me, or I will kill thee and myself after.' 'O strumpet,' exclaimed his mother, 'let my son have his will of thee!' But Jessamine answered, 'O bitch, by what code is it lawful for a woman to marry two husbands, and how shall the dog take the lion's place?' With this Hebezlem's passion redoubled and he sickened for unfulfilled desire and refusing food, took to his bed again. Then said his mother to her, 'O harlot, how canst thou make me thus to sorrow for my son? Needs must I punish thee, and as for Alaeddin, he will assuredly be hanged.' 'And I will die for love of him,' answered Jessamine. Then Khatoun stripped her of her jewels and silken raiment and clothing her in sackcloth drawers and a shift of hair-cloth, sent her down into the kitchen and made her a scullery-wench, saying, 'Thy punishment shall be to split wood and peel onions and set fire under the cooking pots.' Quoth she, 'I am willing to brook all manner of hardship and servitude, but not thy son's sight.' But God inclined the hearts of the slave-girls to her and they used to do her service in the kitchen.
Meanwhile, they carried Alaeddin to the Divan and brought him, together with the stolen goods, before the Khalif, who said, 'Where did ye find them?' 'Amiddleward Alaeddin's house,' answered they; whereat the Khalif was filled with wrath and took the things, but found not the lantern among them, and said to Alaeddin, 'Where is the lantern?' 'I know nought of it,' answered he; 'it was not I that stole it.' 'O traitor,' said the Khalif, 'how comes it that I brought thee near unto me and thou hast cast me out, and I trusted in thee and thou hast betrayed me?' And he commanded to hang him. So the Chief of the Police took him and went down with him into the city, whilst the crier forewent them, proclaiming aloud and saying, 'This is the reward and the least of the reward of him who doth treason against the orthodox Khalifs!' And the folk flocked to the gallows.
Meanwhile, Ahmed ed Denef, Alaeddin's adopted father, was sitting, making merry with his followers in a garden, when in came one of the water-carriers of the Divan and kissing Ahmed's hand, said to him, 'O Captain, thou sittest at thine ease, with water running at thy feet, and knowest not what has happened.' 'What is to do?' asked Ahmed, and the other answered, 'They have gone down with thine adopted son, Alaeddin, to the gallows.' 'O Hassan Shouman,' said Ahmed, 'What sayst thou of this?' 'Assuredly, Alaeddin is innocent' replied his lieutenant; 'and this is some enemy's practice against him.' Quoth Ahmed, 'What counsellest thou?' And Hassan said, 'God willing, we must rescue him.' Then he went to the prison and said to the gaoler, 'Give us some one deserving of death.' So he gave him one that was likest to Alaeddin and they covered his head and carried him to the place of execution between Ahmed ed Denef and Ali ez Zibec of Cairo. Now they had brought Alaeddin to the gibbet, to hang him, but Ahmed ed Denef came forward and set his foot on that of the hangman, who said, 'Give me room to do my office.' 'O accursed one,' replied Ahmed, 'take this man and hang him in Alaeddin's stead; for he is innocent and we will ransom him with this fellow, even as Abraham ransomed Ishmael with the ram.' So the hangman took the man and hanged him in Alaeddin's room. Then Ahmed and Ali took Alaeddin and carried him to the house of the former, to whom said he, 'O my father, may God abundantly requite thee!' 'O Alaeddin,' said Ahmed, 'what is this thou hast done? God's mercy on him who said, "Whoso trusteth in thee, betray him not, though thou be a traitor." Now the Khalif set thee in high place about him and styled thee "Trusty" and "Faithful;" how then couldst thou deal thus with him and steal his goods?' 'By the Most Great Name, O my father,' replied Alaeddin, 'I had no hand in this, nor do I know who did it.' Quoth Ahmed, 'Of a surety none did this but a manifest enemy and whoso doth aught shall be requited for his deed; but, O Alaeddin, thou canst tarry no longer in Baghdad, for kings, O my son, may not be bought off and longsome is his travail whom they pursue.' 'Whither shall I go, O my father?' asked Alaeddin. 'O my son,' answered Ahmed, 'I will bring thee to Alexandria, for it is a blessed place; its environs are green and its sojourn pleasant.' And Alaeddin said, 'I hear and obey, O my father.' So Ahmed said to Hassan Shouman, 'Be mindful and when the Khalif asks for me, say I am gone on a circuit of the provinces.' Then, taking Alaeddin, he went forth of Baghdad and stayed not till they came to the vineyards and gardens, where they met two Jews of the Khalif's tax-gatherers, riding on mules, and Ahmed said to them, 'Give me the guard-money.' 'Why should we give thee guard-money?' asked they. 'Because,' answered he, 'I am the patrol of this valley.' So they gave him each a hundred dinars, after which he slew them and took their mules, one of which he mounted, whilst Alaeddin bestrode the other. Then they rode on, till they came to the city of Ayas and put up for the night at an inn. Next morning, Alaeddin sold his own mule and committed that of Ahmed to the charge of the doorkeeper of the inn, after which they took ship from the port of Ayas and sailed to Alexandria. Here they landed and proceeded to the Bazaar, where they found a broker crying a shop and a chamber behind it for sale. The last bidding for the premises (which belonged to the Treasury) was nine hundred and fifty dirhems; so Alaeddin bid a thousand and his offer being accepted, took the keys and opened the shop and room, which latter he found furnished with carpets and cushions. Moreover, he found there a storehouse full of sails and masts and ropes and chests and bags of beads and shells and stirrups and axes and maces and knives and scissors and what not else, for the last owner of the shop had been a dealer in second-hand goods. So he took his seat in the shop and Ahmed ed Denef said to him, 'O my son, the shop and room and that which is therein are become thine; so abide thou here and buy and sell and grudge not, neither repine; for God the Most High blesseth trade.' After this he abode with him three days and on the fourth he took leave of him, saying, 'O my son, abide here till I bring thee the Khalif's pardon and learn who hath played thee this trick.' Then he took ship for Ayas, where he took the mule from the inn and returning to Baghdad, foregathered with Hassan Shouman, to whom said he, 'Has the Khalif asked for me?' 'No,' answered Hassan, 'nor hath thou come to his thought.' So he resumed his service about the Khalif's person and set himself to seek news of Alaeddin's case, till one day he heard the Khalif say to the Vizier, 'See, O Jaafer, how Alaeddin dealt with me!' 'O Commander of the Faithful,' replied Jaafer, 'thou hast requited him with hanging, and it was what he deserved.' Quoth Haroun, 'I have a mind to go down and see him hanging.' And the Vizier answered, 'As thou wilt, O Commander of the Faithful.' So the Khalif and Jaafer went down to the place of execution, and the former, raising his eyes, saw the hanged man to be other than Alaeddin and said to the Vizier, 'This is not Alaeddin.' 'How knowest thou that it is not he?' asked the Vizier, and the Khalif answered, 'Alaeddin was short and this fellow is tall.' Quoth Jaafer, 'Hanging stretches a man.' 'But,' rejoined the Khalif, 'Alaeddin was fair and this man's face is black.' 'Knowest thou not, O Commander of the Faithful,' replied Jaafer, 'that death (by hanging) causes blackness?' Then the Khalif bade take down the body and they found the names of he first two Khalifs, Abou Bekr and Omar, written on his heels; whereupon quoth the Khalif, 'O Vizier, Alaeddin was a Sunnite, and this fellow is a Shiyaite.' 'Glory be to God who knowest the hidden things!' answered Jaafer. 'We know not whether this was he or another.' Then the Khalif bade bury the body and Alaeddin became altogether forgotten.
As for Hebezlem Bezazeh, the Amir Khalid's son, he ceased not to languish for passion and desire, till he died and they buried him; whilst Jessamine accomplished the months of her pregnancy and being taken with the pains of labour, gave birth to a male child like the moon. The serving-women said to her, 'What wilt thou name him?' And she answered, 'Were his father alive, he had named him; but now I will name him Aslan.' She gave him suck two years, then weaned him, and he crawled and walked. One day, whilst his mother was busied with the service of the kitchen, the child went out and seeing the stairs, mounted to the guest- chamber, where the Amir Khalid was sitting. When the latter saw him, he took him in his lap and glorified his Lord for that which He had created and fashioned forth; then eyeing him straitly, he saw that he was the likest of all creatures to Alaeddin Abou esh Shamat; and God informed his heart with love of the boy. Presently, his mother Jessamine sought for him and finding him not, mounted to the guest-chamber, where she saw the Amir seated, with the child playing in his lap. The latter, spying his mother, would have thrown himself upon her: but the Amir held him back and said to Jessamine, 'Come hither, O damsel.' So she came to him, and he said to her, 'Whose son is this?' Quoth she, 'He is my son and the darling of my heart.' 'Who is his father?' asked the Amir; and she answered, 'His father was Alaeddin Abou esh Shamat, but now he is become thy son.' Quoth Khalid, 'Alaeddin was a traitor.' 'God deliver him from treason!' replied she. 'God forbid that the Faithful should be a traitor!' Then said he, 'When the boy grows up and says to thee, "Who is my father?" say thou to him, "Thou art the son of the Amir Khalid, Chief of the Police."' And she answered, 'I hear and obey.' Then he circumcised the boy and reared him after the goodliest fashion, bringing him a tutor, who taught him to read and write; so he read (and commented) the Koran twice and learnt it by heart and grew up, calling the Amir father. Moreover, the latter used to go down with him to the tilting-ground and assemble horsemen and teach the lad warlike exercises and the use of arms, so that, by the time he was fourteen years old, he became a valiant and accomplished cavalier and gained the rank of Amir.
It chanced one day that he fell in with Ahmed Kemakim and clapping up an acquaintance with him, accompanied him to the tavern, where Ahmed took out the lantern he had stolen from the Khalif and fell to plying the wine-cup by its light, till he became drunken. Presently Aslan said to him, 'O Captain, give me yonder lantern;' but he replied, 'I cannot give it thee.' 'Why not?' asked Aslan. 'Because,' answered Ahmed, 'lives have been lost for it.' 'Whose life?' asked Aslan; and Ahmed said, 'There came hither a man named Alaeddin Abou est Shamat, who was made Captain of the Sixty and lost his life through this lantern.' Quoth Aslan, 'And how was that?' 'Know,' replied Ahmed Kemakim, 'that thou hadst an elder brother by name Hebezlem Bezazeh, for whom, when he became apt for marriage, thy father would have bought a slave-girl named Jessamine.' And he went on to tell him the whole story of Hebezlem's illness and what befell Alaeddin, undeserved. When Aslan heard this, he said in himself, 'Most like this slave-girl was my mother Jessamine and my father was no other than Alaeddin Abou esh Shamat.' So he went out from him, sorrowful, and met Ahmed ed Denef, who exclaimed at sight of him, 'Glory be to Him to whom none is like!' 'At what dost thou marvel, O my chief?' asked Hassan Shouman. 'At the make of yonder boy Aslan,' replied Ed Denef; 'for he is the likest of all creatures to Alaeddin Abou esh Shamat.' Then he called Aslan and said to him, 'What is thy mother's name?' 'She is called the damsel Jessamine,' answered Aslan; and Ed Denef said, 'Harkye, Aslan, take heart and be of good cheer, for thy father was none other than Alaeddin Abou esh Shamat: but, O my son, go thou in to thy mother and question her of thy father.' 'I hear and obey,' answered he, and going in to his mother, said to her, 'Who is my father?' Quoth she, 'The Amir Khalid is thy father.' 'Not so,' rejoined he, 'my father was none other than Alaeddin Abou esh Shamat.' At this, she wept and said, 'Who told thee this?' 'Ahmed ed Denef, the Captain of the Guard,' answered he; so she told him the whole story, saying, 'O my son, the truth can no longer be hidden: know that Alaeddin was indeed thy father, but it was the Amir Khalid who reared thee and adopted thee as his son. And now, O my son, when thou seest Ahmed ed Denef, so thou say to him, "I conjure thee, by Allah, O my chief, avenge me on the murderer of my father Alaeddin Abou esh Shamat!"' So he went out from her and betaking himself to Ahmed ed Denef, kissed his hand. Quoth Ed Denef, 'What ails thee, O Aslan?' And he answered, 'I know now for certain that I am the son of Alaeddin Abou esh Shamat and I would have thee avenge me of my father's murderer.' 'And who was thy father's murderer?' asked Ed Denef. 'Ahmed Kemakim the arch- thief,' replied Aslan. 'Who told thee this?' said Ed Denef, and Aslan answered, 'I saw in his hand the lantern hung with jewels, that was lost with the rest of the Khalif's gear, and asked him to give it me; but he refused, saying, "Lives have been lost on account of this," and told me how it was he who had broken into the palace and stolen the goods and hidden them in my father's house.' Then said Ed Denef, 'When thou seest the Amir Khalid don his harness of war, beg him to equip thee like himself and take thee with him. Then do thou some feat of prowess before the Khalif and he will say to thee, "Ask a boon of me, O Aslan." And do thou answer, "I ask of thee that thou avenge me of my father's murderer." If he say, "Thy father is alive and is the Amir Khalid, the Chief of the Police," answer thou, "My father was Alaeddin Abou esh Shamat, and the Amir Khalid is only my father by right of fosterage and adoption." Then tell him all that passed between thee and Ahmed Kemakim and say, "O Commander of the Faithful, order him to be searched and I will bring the lantern forth of his bosom."' 'I hear and obey,' answered Aslan and returning to the Amir Khalid, found him making ready to repair to the Divan and said to him, 'I would fain have thee arm and harness me like thyself and carry me to the Divan.' So he equipped him and carried him to the Divan, with Ahmed Kemakim at his stirrup. Then the Khalif sallied forth of Baghdad with his retinue and let pitch tents and pavilions without the city; whereupon the troops divided into two parties and fell to playing at ball and striking it with the mall from one to the other. Now there was among the troops a spy, who had been hired to kill the Khalif; so he took the ball and smiting it with the mall, drove it straight at the Khalif's face; but Aslan interposed and catching it in mid-volley, drove it back at him who smote it, so that it struck him between the shoulders and he fell to the ground. The Khalif exclaimed, 'God bless thee, O Aslan!' and they all dismounted and sat on chairs. Then the Khalif bade bring the smiter of the ball before him and said to him, 'Who moved thee to do this thing and art thou friend or foe?' Quoth he, 'I am a foe and it was my purpose to kill thee.' 'And wherefore?' asked the Khalif. 'Art thou not an (orthodox) Muslim?' 'No,' replied the spy; 'I am a Shiyaite.' So the Khalif bade put him to death and said to Aslan, 'Ask a boon of me.' Quoth he, 'I ask of thee that thou avenge me of my father's murderer.' 'Thy father is alive,' answered the Khalif; 'and there he stands.' 'And who is he?' asked Aslan. The Khalif replied, 'He is the Amir Khalid, Chief of the Police.' 'O Commander of the Faithful,' rejoined Aslan, 'he is no father of mine, save by right of fosterage; my father was none other than Alaeddin Abou esh Shamat.' 'Then thy father was a traitor,' said the Khalif. 'God forbid, O Commander of the Faithful,' replied Aslan, 'that the Faithful should be a traitor! But how did he wrong thee?' Quoth the Khalif, 'He stole my royal habit and what was therewith.' 'O Commander of the Faithful,' rejoined Aslan, 'God forfend that my father should be a traitor! But, O my lord, didst thou ever recover the lantern that was stolen from thee?' 'No,' answered the Khalif, 'we never got it back.' And Aslan said, 'I saw it in the hands of Ahmed Kemakim and begged it of him; but he refused to give it me, saying, "Lives have been lost on account of this." Then he told me of the sickness of Hebezlem Bezazeh, son of the Amir Khalid, by reason of his passion for the damsel Jessamine, and how he himself was released from prison and that it was he who stole the lamp and robe and so forth. Do thou then, O Commander of the Faithful, avenge me of my father on him who murdered him.' So the Khalif caused Ahmed Kemakim to be brought before him and sending for Ahmed ed Denef, bade him search him; whereupon he put his hand into the thief's bosom and pulled out the lamp. 'Harkye, traitor,' said the Khalif, 'whence hadst thou this lantern?' And Kemakim replied, 'I bought it, O Commander of the Faithful!' 'Where didst thou buy it?' said the Khalif, 'and who could come by its like to sell it to thee?' Then they beat him, till he confessed that he had stolen the lantern and the rest, and the Khalif said, 'O traitor, what moved thee to do this thing and ruin Alaeddin Abou esh Shamat, the Trusty and Well-beloved?' Then he bade lay hands on him and on the Chief of the Police, but the latter said, 'O Commander of the Faithful, indeed I am unjustly entreated; thou badest me hang him, and I had no knowledge of this plot, for the thing was contrived between Ahmed Kemakim and his mother and my wife. I crave thine intercession, O Aslan.' So Aslan interceded for him with the Khalif, who said, 'What hath God done with this lad's mother?' 'She is with me,' answered Khalid, and the Khalif said, 'I command thee to bid thy wife dress her in her own clothes and ornaments and restore her to her former rank; and do thou remove the seals from Alaeddin's house and give his son possession of his estate.' 'I hear and obey,' answered Khalid, and going forth, carried the Khalif's order to his wife, who clad Jessamine in her own apparel; whilst he himself removed the seals from Alaeddin's house and gave Aslan the keys. Then said the Khalif to Aslan, 'Ask a boon of me;' and he replied, 'I beseech thee to unite me with my father.' Whereat the Khalif wept and said, 'Most like it was thy father that was hanged and is dead; but by the life of my forefathers, whoso bringeth me the glad news that he is yet in the bonds of life, I will give him all he seeketh!' Then came forward Ahmed ed Denef and kissing the earth before the Khalif, said, 'Grant me indemnity, O Commander of the Faithful!' 'Thou hast it,' answered the Khalif; and Ed Denef said, 'I give thee the good news that Alaeddin is alive and well.' Quo the Khalif, 'What is this thou sayest?' 'As thy head liveth,' answered Ed Denef, 'I speak sooth; for I ransomed him with another, of those who deserved death, and carried him to Alexandria, where I set him up as a dealer in second-hand goods.' Then said Er Reshid, 'I charge thee fetch him to me;' and Ed Denef replied, 'I hear and obey;' whereupon the Khalif bade give him ten thousand dinars and he set out for Alexandria.
Meanwhile Alaeddin sold all that was in his shop, till he had but a few things let and amongst the rest a bag. So he shook the bag and there fell out a jewel, big enough to fill the palm of the hand, hanging to a chain of gold and having five faces, whereon were names and talismanic characters, as they were ant-tracks. 'God is All-knowing!' quoth he. 'Belike this is a talisman.' So he rubbed each face; but nothing came of it and he said to himself, 'Doubtless it is a piece of [naturally] variegated onyx,' and hung it up in the shop. Presently, a Frank passed along the street and seeing the jewel hanging up, seated himself before the shop and said to Alaeddin, 'O my lord, is yonder jewel for sale?' 'All I have is for sale,' answered Alaeddin; and the Frank said, 'Wilt thou sell it me for fourscore thousand dinars?' 'May God open!' replied Alaeddin. 'Wilt thou sell it for a hundred thousand dinars?' asked the Frank, and he answered, 'I sell it to thee for a hundred thousand dinars; pay me down the money.' Quoth the Frank, 'I cannot carry such a sum about me, for there are thieves and sharpers in Alexandria; but come with me to my ship and I will pay thee the money and give thee to boot a bale of Angora wool, a bale of satin, a bale of velvet and a bale of broadcloth.' So Alaeddin rose and giving the jewel to the Frank, locked up his shop and committed the keys to his neighbour, saying, 'Keep these keys for me, whilst I go with this Frank to his ship and take the price of my jewel. If I be long absent and there come to thee Captain Ahmed ed Denef,--he who set me up in this shop,--give him the keys and tell him where I am.' Then he went with the Frank to his ship, where the latter set him a stool and making him sit down, said [to his men], 'Bring the money.' So [they brought it and] he paid him the price of the jewel and gave him the four bales he had promised him; after which he said to him, 'O my lord, honour me by taking a morsel or a draught of water.' And Alaeddin answered, 'If thou have any water, give me to drink.' So the Frank called for drink, and they brought sherbets, drugged with henbane, of which no sooner had Alaeddin drunk, than he fell over on his back; whereupon they weighed anchor and shoving off, shipped the poles and made sail. The wind blew fair and they sailed till they lost sight of land, when the Frank bade bring Alaeddin up out of the hold and made him smell to the counter-drug, whereupon he opened his eyes and said, 'Where am I?' 'Thou art bound and in my power,' answered the Frank; 'and if thou hadst refused to take a hundred thousand dinars for the jewel, I would have bidden thee more.' 'What art thou?' asked Alaeddin, and the other replied, 'I am a sea- captain and mean to carry thee to my mistress.' As they were talking, a ship hove in sight, with forty Muslim merchants on board; so the Frank captain gave chase and coming up with the vessel, made fast to it with grappling-irons. Then he boarded it with his men and took it and plundered it; after which he sailed on with his prize, till he reached the city of Genoa, where he repaired to the gate of a palace, that gave upon the sea, and there came forth to him a veiled damsel, who said, 'Hast thou brought the jewel and its owner?' 'I have brought them both,' answered he; and she said, 'Then give me the jewel.' So he gave it to her and returning to the port, fired guns to announce his safe return; whereupon the King of the city, being notified of his arrival, came down to receive him and said to him, 'What manner of voyage hast thou had?' 'A right prosperous one,' answered the captain, 'and I have made prize of a ship with one- and-forty Muslim merchants.' Being them ashore,' said the King. So he landed the merchants in irons, and Alaeddin among the rest; and the King and the captain mounted and made the captives walk before them, till they reached the palace, where the King sat down in the audience-chamber and making the prisoners pass before him, one by one, said to the first, 'O Muslim, whence comest thou?' 'From Alexandria,' answered he; whereupon the King said, 'O headsman, put him to death.' So the headsman smote him with the sword and cut off his head: and thus it fared with the second and the third, till forty were dead and there remained but Alaeddin, who drank the cup of his comrades' anguish and said to himself, 'God have mercy on thee, O Alaeddin! Thou art a dead man.' Then said the King to him, 'And thou, what countryman art thou?' 'I am of Alexandria,' answered Alaeddin, and the King said, 'O headsman, strike off his head.' So the headsman raised his arm and was about to strike, when an old woman of venerable aspect presented herself before the King, who rose to do her honour, and said to him, 'O King, did I not bid thee remember, when the captain came back with captives, to keep one or two for the convent, to serve in the church?' 'O my mother, answered the King, 'would thou hadst come a while earlier! But take this one that is left.' So she turned to Alaeddin and said to him, 'Wilt thou serve in the church, or shall I let the King kill thee?' Quoth he, 'I will serve in the church.' So she took him and carried him forth of the palace to the church, where he said to her, 'What service must I do?' And she answered, 'Thou must arise in the morning and take five mules and go with them into the forest and there cut dry firewood and split it and bring it to the convent-kitchen. Then must thou take up the carpets and sweep and wipe the stone and marble pavements and lay the carpets down again, as they were; after which thou must take two bushels and a half of wheat and sift it and grind it and knead it and make it into cracknels for the convent; and thou must take also a bushel of lentils and sift and crush and cook them. Then must thou fetch water in barrels and fill the four fountains; after which thou must take three hundred and threescore and six wooden platters and crumble the cracknels therein and pour of the lentil pottage over each and carry every monk and patriarch his platter.' 'Take me back to the King and let him kill me,' said Alaeddin; 'it were easier to me than this service.' 'If thou do the service that is due from thee,' replied the old woman, 'thou shalt escape death; but, if thou do it not, I will let the King kill thee.' Then she went away, leaving Alaeddin heavy at heart. Now there were in the church ten blind cripples, and one of them said to him, 'Bring me a pot.' So he brought it him and he did his occasion therein and said, 'Throw away the ordure.' He did do, and the blind man said, 'The Messiah's blessing be upon thee, O servant of the church!' Presently, the old woman came in and said to him, 'Why hast thou not done thy service?' 'How many hands have I,' answered he, 'that I should suffice for all this work?' 'Thou fool!' rejoined she.' 'I brought thee not hither but to work. But,' added she, giving him a wand of brass with a cross at the top, 'take this rod and go forth into the highway, and whomsoever thou meetest, were he governor of the ciy, say to him, "I summon thee to the service of the church, in the name of the Messiah." And he will not refuse thee. Then make him sift the wheat and grind it and bolt it and knead it and bake it into cracknels; and if any gainsay thee, beat him and fear none.' 'I hear and obey,' answered he and did as she said, pressing great and small into his service; nor did he leave to do thus for the space of seventeen years, till, one day, the old woman came to him, as he sat in the church, and said to him, 'Go forth of the convent.' 'Whither shall I go?' asked he, and she said, 'Thou canst pass the night in a tavern or with one of thy friends.' Quoth he, 'Why dost thou send me forth of the church?' and she replied, 'The princess Husn Meryem, daughter of Youhenna, King of the city, purposes this night to pay a visit to the church, and it befits not that any abide in her way.' So he rose and made a show of obeying her and of leaving the church; but he said in himself, 'I wonder whether the princess is like our women or fairer than they! Algates, I will not go till I have had a sight of her.' So he hid himself in a closet with a window looking into the church, and as he watched, in came the King's daughter. He cast one glance at her, that cost him a thousand sighs, for she was like the full moon, when it emerges from the clouds; and with her was a damsel, to whom he heard her say, 'O Zubeideh, thy company is grateful to me.' So he looked straitly at the damsel and found her to be none other than his wife, Zubeideh the Lutanist, whom he thought dead. Then the princess said to Zubeideh, 'Play us an air on the lute.' But she answered, 'I will make no music for thee, till thou grant my wish and fulfil thy promise to me.' 'And what did I promise thee?' asked the princess. 'That thou wouldst reunite me with my husband Alaeddin Abou esh Shamat,' said Zubeideh. 'O Zubeideh,' rejoined the princess, 'be of good cheer and play us an air, as a thank-offering for reunion with thy husband.' 'Where is he?' asked Zubeideh, and Meryem replied, 'He is in yonder closet, listening to us.' So Zubeideh played a measure on the lute, that would have made a rock dance; which when Alaeddin heard, his entrails were troubled and he came forth and throwing himself upon his wife, strained her to his bosom. She also knew him and they embraced and fell down in a swoon. Then came the princess and sprinkled rose-water on them, till they revived, when she said to them, 'God hath reunited you.' 'By thy kind offices, O my lady,' replied Alaeddin and turning to his wife, said to her, 'O Zubeideh, thou didst surely die and we buried thee: how then camest thou to life and to this place?' 'O my lord,' answered she, 'I did not die; but a Marid of the Jinn snatched me up and flew with me hither. She whom thou buriedst was a Jinniyeh, who took my shape and feigned herself dead, but presently broke open the tomb and returned to the service of this her mistress, the princess Husn Meryem. As for me, I was in a trance, and when I opened my eyes, I found myself with the princess; so I said to her, "Why hast thou bought me hither?" "O Zubeideh," answered she, "know that I am predestined to marry thy husband Alaeddin Abou esh Shamat: wilt thou then accept of me to fellow-wife, a night for me and a night for thee?" "I hear and obey, O my lady," rejoined I; "but where is my husband?" Quoth she, "Upon his forehead is written what God hath decreed to him; as soon as what is there written is fulfilled to him he must needs come hither, and we will beguile the time of our separation from him with songs and smiting upon instruments of music, till it please God to unite us with him." So I abode with her till God brought us together in this church.' Then the princess turned to him and said, 'O my lord Alaeddin, wilt thou accept of me to wife?' 'O my lady,' replied he, 'I am a Muslim and thou art a Nazarene; so how can I marry thee?' 'God forbid,' rejoined she, 'that I should be an infidel! Nay, I am a Muslim; these eighteen years have I held fast the Faith of Submission and I am pure of any faith other than that of Islam.' Then said he, 'O my lady, I would fain return to my native land.' And she answered, 'Know that I see written on thy forehead things that thou must needs fulfil and thou shalt come to thy desire. Moreover, I give thee the glad tidings, O Alaeddin, that there hath been born to thee a son named Aslan, who is now eighteen years old and sitteth in thy place with the Khalif. Know also that God hath shown forth the truth and done away the false by withdrawing the curtain of secrecy from him who stole the Khalif's goods, that is, Ahmed Kemakim the arch-thief and traitor; and he now lies bound and in prison. It was I who caused the jewel to be put in the bag where thou foundest it and who sent the captain to thee; for thou must know that he is enamoured of me and seeketh my favours, but I refused to yield to his wishes, till he should being me the jewel and its owner. So I gave him a hundred purses and despatched him to thee, in the habit of a merchant; and it was I also who sent the old woman to save thee from being put to death with the other captives.' 'May God requite thee for us with all good!' said he. 'Indeed, thou hast done well.' Then she renewed her profession of the Mohammedan faith at his hands, and when he was assured of the truth of her speech, he said to her, 'O my lady, tell me what are the virtues of the jewel and whence cometh it?' 'It came from an enchanted treasure,' answered she, 'and has five virtues, that will profit us in time of need. The princess my grandmother, my father's mother, was an enchantress and skilled in solving mysteries and winning at hidden treasures, and from one of the latter came the jewel into her hands. When I grew up and reached the age of fourteen, I read the Evangel and other books and found the name of Mohammed (whom God bless and preserve) in four books, the Evangel, the Pentateuch, the Psalms and the Koran; so I believed in Mohammed and became a Muslim, being assured that none is worship-worth save God the Most High and that to the Lord of all creatures no faith is acceptable save that of Submission. When my grandmother fell sick, she gave me the jewel and taught me its virtues. Moreover, before she died, my father said to her, 'Draw me a geomantic figure and see the issue of my affair and what will befall me.' And she foretold him that he should die by the hand of a captive from Alexandria. So he swore to kill every captive from that place and told the captain of this, saying, "Do thou fall on the ships of the Muslims and seize them and whomsoever thou findest of Alexandria, kill him or bring him to me." The captain did his bidding and he slew as many in number as the hairs of his head. Then my grandmother died and I took a geomantic tablet, being minded to now who I should marry, and drawing a figure, found that none should be my husband save one called Alaeddin Abou esh Shamat, the Trusty and Well-beloved. At this I marvelled and waited till the times were accomplished and I foregathered with thee.' So Alaeddin took her to wife and said to her, 'I desire to return to my own country.' 'If it be so,' replied she, 'come with me.' Then she carried him into the palace and hiding him in a closet there, went in to her father, who said to her, 'O my daughter, my heart is exceeding heavy to-day; let us sit down and make merry with wine, thou and I.' So he called for a table of wine, and she sat down with him and plied him with wine, till he lost his wits, when she drugged a cup with henbane, and he drank it off and fell backward. Then she brought Alaeddin out of the closet and said to him, 'Come; thine enemy is laid prostrate, for I made him drunk and drugged him; so do thou with him as thou wilt.' Accordingly Alaeddin went to the King and finding him lying drugged and helpless, bound him fast, hand and foot. Then he gave him the counter-drug and he came to himself and finding his daughter and Alaeddin sitting on his breast, said to her, 'O my daughter, dost thou deal thus with me?' 'If I be indeed thy daughter,' answered she, 'become a Muslim, even as I have done; for the truth was shown to me, and I embraced it, and the false, and I renounced it. I have submitted myself unto God, the Lord of all creatures, and am pure of all faiths contrary to that of Islam in this world and the next. Wherefore, if thou wilt become a Muslim, well and good; if not, thy death were better than thy life.' Alaeddin also exhorted him to embrace the true faith; but he refused and was obstinate: so Alaeddin took a dagger and cut his throat from ear to ear. Then he wrote a scroll, setting forth what had happened and laid it on the dead man's forehead, after which they took what was light of weight and heavy of worth and returned to the church. Here the princess took out the jewel and rubbed the face whereon was figured a couch, whereupon a couch appeared before her and she mounted upon it with Alaeddin and Zubeideh, saying, 'O couch, I conjure thee by the virtue of the names and talismans and characters of art engraven on this jewel, rise up with us!' And it rose with them into the air and flew, till I came to a desert valley, when the princess turned the face on which the couch was figured towards the earth, and it sank with them to the ground. Then she turned up the face whereon was figured a pavilion and tapping it, said, 'Let a pavilion be pitched in this valley.' And immediately there appeared a pavilion, in which they seated themselves. Now this valley was a desert waste, without grass or water; so she turned a third face of the jewel towards the sky and said, 'By the virtue of the names of God, let trees spring up here and a river run beside them!' And immediately trees sprang up and a river ran rippling and splashing beside them. They made their ablutions and prayed and drank of the stream; after which the princess turned up a fourth face of the jewel, on which was figured a table of food, and said, 'By the virtue of the names of God, let the table be spread!' And immediately there appeared before them a table, spread with all manner rich meats, and they ate and drank and made merry.
Meanwhile, the King's son went in to waken his father, but found him slain and seeing the scroll, took it and read. Then he sought his sister and finding her not, betook himself to the old woman in the church, of whom he enquired of her, but she said, 'I have not seen her since yesterday.' So he returned to the troops and cried out, saying, 'To horse, cavaliers!' Then he told them what had happened, and they mounted and rode after the fugitives, till they drew near the pavilion. Presently, Husn Meryem looked up and saw a cloud of dust, which spread till it covered the prospect, then lifted and discovered her brother and his troops, crying aloud and saying, 'Whither will ye fly, and we on your track!' Then said she to Alaeddin, 'Art thou steadfast in battle?' 'Even as the stake in bran,' answered he; 'I know not war nor battle, neither swords nor spears.' So she pulled out the jewel and rubbed the fifth face, that on which were depictured a horse and his rider, and straightway a horseman appear out of the desert and driving at the pursuing host, ceased not to do battle with them and smite them with the sword, till he routed them and put them to flight. Then said the princess to Alaeddin, 'Wilt thou go to Cairo or to Alexandria?' And he answered, 'To Alexandria.' So they mounted the couch and she pronounced over it the conjuration, whereupon it set off with them and brought them to Alexandria in the twinkling of an eye. They alighted without the city and Alaeddin hid the women in a cavern, whilst he went into Alexandria and fetched them veils and outer clothing, wherewith he covered them. Then he carried them to his ship and leaving them in the room behind it, went forth to fetch them the morning meal, when he met Ahmed ed Denef coming from Baghdad. He saw him in the street and received him with open arms, embracing him and welcoming him. Ed Denef gave him the good news of his son Aslan and how he was now come to the age of twenty; and Alaeddin, in his turn, told the captain of the guard all that had befallen him, whereat he marvelled exceedingly. Then he brought him to his lodging, where they passed the night; and next day he sold his shop and laid its price with his other monies. Now Ed Denef had told him that the Khalif sought him; but he said, 'I am bound first for Cairo, to salute my father and mother and the people of my house.' So they all mounted the couch and it carried them to Cairo the Happy, where they alighted in the street called Yellow, where stood Shemseddin's house. Alaeddin knocked at the door, and his mother said, 'Who is at the door, now that we have lost our beloved?' 'It is I, Alaeddin,' replied he; whereupon they came down and embraced him. Then he sent his wives and baggage into the house and entering himself with Ahmed ed Denef, rested there three days, after which he was minded to set out for Baghdad and his father said, 'O my son, abide with me.' But he answered, 'I cannot brook to be parted from my son Aslan.' So he took his father and mother and set out for Baghdad. When they came thither, Ahmed ed Denef went in to the Khalif and gave him the glad tidings of Alaeddin's arrival and told him his story; whereupon the Prince went forth to meet him, accompanied by his son Aslan, and they met and embraced each other. Then the Khalif sent for Ahmed Kemakim and said to Alaeddin, 'Up and avenge thee of thine enemy!' So he drew his sword and smote off Ahmed's head. Then the Khalif held festival for Alaeddin and summoning the Cadis and the witnesses, married him to the princess Husn Meryem; and he went in to her and found her an unpierced pearl. Moreover, the Khalif made Aslan Chief of the Sixty and bestowed upon him and his father sumptuous dresses of honour; and they abode in the enjoyment of all the comforts and pleasures of life, till there came to them the Destroyer of Delights and the Sunderer of Companies.
[Go to Hatim et Tai: His Generosity After Death]
Payne, John (1842-1916). The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night. London. 1901. Gutenberg Vol. I. Gutenberg Vol. II. Gutenberg Vol. III. Gutenberg Vol. IV. Please consult the Gutenberg edition for footnotes; the footnotes have not been included in this web version. Wollamshram Vol. V. Wollamshram Vol. VI. Wollamshram Vol. VII. Wollamshram Vol. VIII. Wollamshram Vol. IX. Please consult the Wollamshram 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