[Go back to Aboulhusn of Khorassan]
There was once, of old time, a merchant called Abdurrehman, whom God had blessed with a son and daughter, and for their much beauty and grace, he named the girl Kaukeb a Sebah and the boy Kemerezzeman . When he saw what God had vouchsafed them of beauty and grace and brightness and symmetry, he feared for them from the eyes of the beholders and the tongues of the envious and the craft of the crafty and the wiles of the profligate and shut them up from the folk in a house for the space of fourteen years, during which time none saw them save their parents and a slave-girl who waited on them. Now their father recited the Koran, even as God sent it down, as also did their mother, wherefore she taught her daughter to read and recite it and he his son, till they had both gotten it by heart. Moreover, they both learned from their parents writing and reckoning and all manner of knowledge and accomplishment and needed no master.
When Kemerezzeman came to years of manhood, his mother said to her husband, 'How long wilt thou keep thy son Kemerezzeman sequestered from the eyes of the folk? Is he a boy or a girl?' And he answered, 'A boy.' 'If he be a boy,' rejoined she, 'why dost thou not carry him to the bazaar and seat him in thy shop, that he may know the folk and they him, to the intent that it may become notorious among them that he is thy son, and do thou teach him to buy and sell. Belike somewhat may betide thee; so shall the folk know him for thy son and he shall lay his hand on thy leavings. But, if thou die, as the case now is, and he say to the folk, "I am the son of the merchant Abdurrehman," they will not believe him, but will say, "We have never seen thee and knew not that he had a son;" wherefore the magistrates will take thy goods and thy son will be despoiled. In like manner, I mean to make my daughter known among the folk, so haply some one of her own condition may demand her in marriage and we will marry her to him and rejoice in her.' Quoth he, '[I did thus] of my fear for them of the of the eyes of the folk and because I love them and love is exceeding jealous, and well saith he who made the following verses:I'm jealous of myself and of my sight for thee And of thy self and place and time and Fate's decree.
'Put thy trust in God,' said his wife, 'for no harm betideth him whom He protecteth, and carry him with thee this very day to the shop.'
Then she clad the boy in the richest of clothes and he became a ravishment to all who looked on him and an affliction to the hearts of lovers His father took him and carried him to the market, whilst all who saw him were ravished with him and accosted him, kissing his hand and saluting him. Quoth one, 'The sun hath risen in such a place and shineth in the market,' and another, 'The place of rising of the full moon is in such a quarter ;' and a third, 'The new moon of the Festival [of the breaking of the fast of Ramazan] hath appeared to the creatures of God.' And they went on to allude to the boy in talk and call down blessings upon him.
Abdurrehman rated the folk for following the boy, to gaze upon him, for they crowded upon him, behind and before; and he was abashed at their talk, but could not hinder them from talking; so he fell to reviling the boy's mother and cursing her for that she had been the cause of his bringing him out. Then he walked on till he reached his shop and opening it, sat down and seated his son before him: after which he looked out and saw the thoroughfare blocked with people, for all the passers- by, going and coming, stopped before the shop, to gaze on that fair-faced one, and could not leave him and all the men and women crowded about him, applying, to them- selves the words of him who saith:Thou didst beauty create a temptation to us And saidst, 'O my servants fear [Me and abstain].'
When Abdurrehman saw the folk thus crowding about him and standing in rows, men and women, to gaze upon his son, he was sore abashed and confounded and knew not what to do; but presently there came up from the end of the bazaar a man of the wandering dervishes, clad in haircloth garments, [the apparel] of the pious servants of God and seeing Kemerezzeman sitting there as he were a willow wand springing from a mound of saffron, wept copiously and recited the following verses:I saw a sapling on a sand-hill grow, As 'twere a moon at full and all aglow.
Then he fell to walking, now drawing near and now moving away, and wiping his gray hairs with his right hand, whilst the heart of the crowd was cloven asunder for reverence of him. When he looked upon the boy, his eyes were dazzled and his wit confounded, and the saying of the poet was exemplified in him:What while yon fair-faced loveling was in a certain place And the new moon of Shawwal shone glittering from his face,
Then he came up to the boy and gave him a sprig of sweet basil, whereupon his father put his hand to his pouch and gave him some small matter of money, saying, 'Take thy portion, O dervish, and go thy ways.' He took the money, but sat down on the bench before the shop, opposite the lad, and fell to gazing upon him and heaving sigh upon sigh, whilst the tears flowed like springs welling forth. The folk began to look at him and remark upon him, some saying, 'All dervishes are lewd fellows,' and other some, 'Verily, this dervish's heart is set on fire for love of this youth.'
When Abdurrehman saw this, he said to the boy, 'Come O my son, let us shut the shop and go home, for it boots not to buy and sell this day; and may God requite thy mother that which she hath done with us, for it is she who hath brought all this about!' Then said he to the dervish, 'Rise, that I may shut my shop.' So the dervish rose and Abdurrehman shut his shop and taking his son, went away. The dervish and the folk followed them, till they reached their dwelling, when Kemerezzeman went in and his father, turning to the dervish, said to him, 'What wouldst thou, O dervish, and why do I see thee weep ?' 'O my lord,' answered he, ' I would fain be thy guest this night, for the guest is the guest of God.' Quoth the merchant, 'Welcome to the guest of God! Enter, O dervish !' But he said in himself, 'If he be enamoured of the boy and require him of lewdness, needs must I slay him this night and bury him secretly. But, if there be no lewdness in him, the guest shall eat his portion.'
Then he brought him into a saloon, where he left him with Kemerezzeman, after he had said privily to the latter, 'O my son, when I am gone out, sit thou beside the dervish and sport with him and provoke him to dalliance. I will watch you from the window overlooking the saloon, and if he seek of thee lewdness, I will come down to him and slay him.' So, as soon as Kemerezzeman was alone with the dervish, he sat down by him, and the latter began to look upon him and sigh and weep. Whenever the lad spoke to him, he answered him kindly, trembling the while and groaning and sobbing, and thus he did till the evening meal was brought in, when he fell to eating, with his eyes on Kemerezzeman, but stinted not from weeping. When a fourth part of the night was past and talk was ended and the time of sleep come, Abdurrehman said to the lad, 'O my son, apply thyself to the service of thine uncle the dervish and gainsay him not :' and would have gone out; but the dervish said to him, 'O my lord, carry thy son with thee or sleep with us.' 'Nay,' answered the merchant; 'my son shall lie with thee: peradventure thy soul may desire somewhat, and he will do thine occasion and wait upon thee.' Then he went out and sat down in an adjoining room, wherein was a window giving upon the saloon.
As soon as he had left them, the lad came up to the dervish and began to provoke him and make advances to him, whereupon he waxed wroth and said, 'What talk is this, O my son? I take refuge with God from Satan the Stoned! O my God, indeed this is an iniquity that pleaseth Thee not! Hold off from me, O my son !' So saying, he arose and sat down at a distance; but the boy followed him and threw himself upon him, saying, 'O dervish, why wilt thou deny thyself the delight of my possession, seeing that my heart loveth thee ?' With this the dervish's anger redoubled and he said, 'An thou refrain not from me, I will call thy father and tell him of thee.' Quoth Kemerezzeman, 'My father knows my mind to thee and it may not be that he will hinder me: so heal thou my heart. Why cost thou hold off from me? Do I not please thee?' 'By Allah, O my son,' answered the dervish, 'I will not do this, though I be hewn in pieces with sharp swords!' And he repeated the saying of the poet:My heart the fair desireth, both wench and wight; I sigh For all I see: yet passion leads not my wit awry.
Then he wept and said, 'Arise, open the door, that I may go my way, for I will lie no longer in this place.' Therewith he rose to his feet; but the boy caught hold of him, saying, 'Look at the brightness of my face and the redness of my cheeks and the softness of my sides and the daintiness of my lips.' Moreover he discovered to him a leg that would put to shame wine and cupbearer and gazed on him with looks that would baffle enchantment and enchanter; for he was surpassing of loveliness and full of tender blandishment, even as saith of him the poet:I never can forget him, since of intent the fair A leg to me discovered, as flashing pearl it were.
Then he displayed to him his bosom, saying, 'Look at my breasts. They are goodlier than girls' breasts and my spittle is sweeter than sugar-candy. So leave scruple and abstinence and cast off piety and devoutness and take thy delight of my possession and enjoy my beauty. Fear nothing, for thou art safe from hurt, and leave this dulness, for it is an ill habit.' And he went on to discover to him his hidden charms, striving to turn the reins of his reason with his [graceful] bendings, whilst the dervish averted his face and said, 'I seek refuge with God! Shame upon thee, O my son! This is a forbidden thing, and I will not do it, no, not even in sleep.' The boy pressed upon him, but the dervish escaped from him and turning towards Mecca, addressed himself to prayer.
When Kemerezzeman saw him praying, he left him till he had prayed a two-bow prayer and saluted, when he would have accosted him again; but the dervish again repeated the intent and prayed a second two-bow prayer, and thus he did a third and a fourth and a fifth time. Quoth Kemerezzeman, 'What prayers are these ? Art thou minded to take flight upon the clouds? Thou lettest slip our delight, whilst thou passest the whole night in the prayer-niche.' So saying, he threw himself upon the dervish and kissed him between the eyes: and he said, 'O my son, put away from thee the devil and betake thee to the obedience of the Compassionate One.' Quoth Kemerezzeman, 'An thou do not with me that which I wish, I will call my father and say to him, "The dervish is minded to do lewdness with me." Whereupon he will come in to thee and beat thee, till thy bones be broken upon thy flesh.'
All this while Abdurrehman was watching with his eyes and hearkening with his ears, and he was certified that there was no lewdness in the dervish and said in himself, 'An he were a lewd fellow, he had not stood out against all this importunity.' The boy continued to beguile the dervish and every time he addressed himself to prayer, he interrupted him, till at last he waxed exceeding wroth with him and was rough with him and beat him. Kemerezzeman wept and his father came in and wiped away his tears and comforted him. Then said he to the dervish, 'O my brother, since thou art on this wise, why didst thou weep and sigh, when thou sawest my son? Is there a reason for this?' 'Yes,' answered the dervish; and Abdurrehman continued, 'When I saw thee weep at sight of my son, I deemed evil of thee and bade the boy do with thee thus, that I might try thee, purposing in myself, if I saw thee require him of lewdness, to come in upon thee and slay thee. But, when I saw thy carriage towards him, I knew thee for one of those who are virtuous to the utmost. But, God on thee, tell me the cause of thy weeping!'
The dervish sighed and said, 'O my lord, fret not a closed wound.' But the merchant said, 'Nothing will serve but thou must tell me.' 'Know, then,' began the other, 'that I am a dervish who wander in the lands and the countries, admonishing myself by the traces of the Creator of Night and Day. It chanced that one Friday I entered the city of Bassora in the forenoon of the day and saw the shops open and full of all manner wares and goods and meat and drink; but they were deserted and there was in them neither man nor woman nor girl nor boy: nor in the markets and the streets was there dog nor cat nor yet voice heard nor creature seen. I marvelled at this and said to myself, "I wonder whither the people of the city are gone with their dogs and cats and what hath God done with them ? " Now I was anhungred, so I took hot bread from a baker's oven and going into an oilman's shop, spread the bread with butter and honey and ate. Then I entered the shop of a sherbet-seller and drank what I would; after which, seeing a coffee-shop open, I went in and saw the pots on the fire, full of coffee; but there was no one there. So I drank my fill and said, "Verily, this is a strange thing! It seems as if death had stricken the people of this city and they had all died forthright, or as if they had taken fright at some- thing that hath befallen them and fled, without having time to close their shops."
As I pondered this matter, I heard a sound of drums beating; whereat I was afraid and hid myself: then, looking out through a crevice, I saw fourscore damsels, like moons, come walking through the market, two by two, with uncovered heads and faces displayed; and in their midst a young lady, riding on a horse that could hardly move its feet for that which was upon it of trappings and housings. Her face was unveiled, and she was adorned with the costliest ornaments and clad in the richest of raiment and covered with gold and silver and jewels. About her neck she wore a collar of gold and on her bosom were necklaces of the same metal; her wrists were clasped with bracelets, that shone like stars, and her ankles with bangles of gold set with precious stones. The slave- girls walked before her and behind and on her right and left and before her was a damsel girt with a great sword, with hilts of emerald and hangers of gold, set with jewels.
When the young lady came to where I lay hid, she checked her horse and said, "O damsels, I hear a noise of somewhat within yonder shop: so do ye search it, lest there be one hidden there, with intent to look upon us, whilst we have our faces unveiled." So they searched the shop opposite that in which I lay hid, whilst I abode in terror; and presently I saw them come forth with a man and heard them say to her, "O our lady, we found a man there and here he is before thee." Quoth she to the damsel with the sword, "Strike off his head." So she went up to him and smote off his head and they passed on, leaving the dead man lying on the ground. When I saw this, I was affrighted; but my heart was taken with love of the young lady.
After awhile, the people reappeared and every one who had a shop entered it; whilst the folk began to come and go in the markets and gathered about the slain man, staring at him. Then I came forth from my hiding-place by stealth, and none took note of me; but love of the lady had gotten possession of my heart, and I began to enquire of her privily; but none gave me news of her. So I left Bassora, with a heart torn with love of her; and when I came upon this thy son, I saw him to be the likest of all creatures to the young lady, wherefore he minded me of her and his sight revived the fire of passion in me and kindled anew in my heart the flames of love-longing and distraction.' Then he wept passing sore and said, 'O my lord, I conjure thee by Allah, open the door to me, so I may go my way!' So Abdurrehman opened the door and he went forth.
As for Kemerezzeman, when he heard the dervish's story, his heart was taken with love of the lady and passion got the mastery of him and longing and dis- traction raged in him; so, on the morrow, he said to his father, 'All the sons of the merchants travel in the lands, to attain their desire, nor is there one of them but his father provideth him with merchandise, wherewith he may travel and traffic for gain. Why, then, O my father, dost thou not provide me with merchandise, so I may travel with it and try my luck?' 'O my son,' answered Abdurrehman, 'the merchants [of whom thou speakest] lack of money; so they send their sons abroad for the sake of profit and gain and the getting of the goods of the world. But I have wealth in plenty nor do I covet [more]: so why should I exile thee [from thy native land?] Indeed, I cannot brook to be parted from thee an hour, more by token that thou art unique in beauty and grace and perfection and I fear for thee.' But Kemerezzeman said, 'O my father, nothing will serve but thou must furnish me with merchandise wherewithal to travel; else will I take thee at unawares and flee, though without goods or money. So, if thou wish to pleasure my heart, make ready for me merchandise, that I may travel and divert myself by viewing foreign countries.'
Abdurrehman, seeing his son enamoured of travel, acquainted his wife with this, saying, ' My son would have me provide him with merchandise, so he may travel therewith in strange countries, albeit travel is travail.' 'What is there should mislike thee in this?'' answered she. 'This is the wont of the sons of the merchants and they all vie with one another in glorying in travel and gain. 'Quoth he, 'Most of the merchants are poor and seek increase of good; but I have wealth galore.' 'More of a good thing hurteth not,' replied she; 'and if thou comply not with his wish, I will furnish him of my own monies.' Quoth Abdurrehman, 'I fear strangerhood for him, for it is rife in trouble.' But she said, 'There is no harm in strangerhood, when it leads to gain; and [if we do not according to his wish], our son will go away and we shall seek him and find him not and be dishonoured among the folk.' The merchant accepted his wife's counsel and provided his son with merchandise, to the value of fourscore and ten thousand dinars, whilst his mother gave him a purse containing forty jewels of price, the least of the value of one of which was five hundred dinars, saying, 'O my son, be careful of these jewels, for they will be of service to thee.'
Kemerezzeman took the jewels and laid them in a belt, which he buckled about his waist; then he set out for Bassora with his goods and stayed not till there remained but a day's journey between that city and himself; when the [wild] Arabs came out upon him and stripped him and slew his men and servants; but he himself lay down among the slain and smeared himself with blood, so that the Bedouins took him for dead and left him and made off with their booty. When they had gone their ways, he arose, having nought left but the jewels in his girdle, and fared on till he came to Bassora. It chanced that his entry was on a Friday and the town was empty of folk, even as the dervish had told him. He found the streets deserted and the shops open and full of goods; so he ate and drank and looked about him. Presently, he heard drums beating and hid himself in a shop, till the slave- girls came up, when he looked at them and seeing the young lady riding amongst them, love and longing took him and passion and distraction overcame him, so that he could hardly stand. After awhile, the people reappeared and the markets became full. Whereupon he went to the bazaar and sold one of his jewels to a jeweller there for a thousand dinars, with which he returned to his place and passed the night there.
Next morning he changed his clothes and going to the bath, came forth as he were the full moon. Then he sold other four stones for four thousand dinars and sauntered about the streets of Bassora, clad in the costliest of raiment, till he came to a market, where he saw a barber's shop. So he went in to the barber, who shaved his head, and clapping up an acquaintance with him, said to him, 'O my father, I am a stranger in these parts and yesterday I entered this city and found it void of inhabitants, nor was there in it any living soul, man nor genie. Then I saw a company of slave-girls and amongst them a young lady riding in state.' And he went on to tell him all he had seen. 'O my son,' said the barber, 'hast thou told any but me of this?' And he answered, 'No.' 'Then, O my son,' rejoined the barber, 'beware of mentioning this before any but me; for all cannot keep a secret and thou art but a lad and I fear lest the talk travel from folk to folk, till it reach those whom it concerns and they kill thee. For know, O my son, that this thou hast seen, none ever heard nor knew in other than this city. As for the people of Bassora, they are dying of this vexation; for every Friday forenoon they shut up the dogs and cats, to hinder them from going about the streets, and all the people of the city enter the mosques, where they lock the doors on them, and not one of them can pass about the market nor even look out of window; nor knoweth any the cause of this calamity. But to-night I will question my wife of it, for she is a midwife and enters the houses of the notables and knows all the news of the city. And if it please God the Most High, do thou come to me to-morrow and I will tell thee what she shall have told me.'
With this Kemerezzeman pulled out a handful of gold and said to him, 'O my father, take this gold and give it to thy wife, for she is become my mother.' Then he gave him a second handful, saying 'Take this for thyself.' Whereupon quoth the barber, 'O my son, sit thou in thy place, till I go to my wife and ask her and bring thee news of the true state of the case.' So saying, he left him in the shop and going home, acquainted his wife with the young man's case, saying, 'I would have thee tell me the truth of this affair, so I may tell it to this young merchant, for he hath set his heart on knowing the reason why men and beasts are forbidden the streets every Friday forenoon; and methinks he is in love, for he is open-handed and generous, and if we tell him [what he would know], we shall get great good of him.' Quoth she, 'Go back and say to him, "Come and speak with thy mother my wife, for she salutes thee and says to thee, 'The thing is done."'
So he returned to the shop, where he found Kemerezze- man sitting awaiting him and gave him his wife's message. Then he carried him in to her and she gave him welcome and bade him sit down; whereupon he pulled out a hundred dinars and gave them to her, saying, 'O my mother, tell me who this young lady is.' 'Know, O my son,' answered she, 'that there came a jewel to the Sultan of Bassora from the King of Hind, and he was minded to have it pierced. So he called all the jewellers together and said to them, "I wish you to pierce me this jewel Whoso pierces it, I will give him whatsoever he shall ask; but if he break it, I will cut off his head." At this they were afraid and said, " O king of the age, a jewel is soon spoilt and there are few who can pierce them without injury, for most of them have a flaw. So do not thou impose upon us a task to which we are unable; for we cannot avail to pierce this jewel. However, the syndic of our guild is more experienced than we." "And who is your syndic?" asked the king. "Master Ubeid," answered they. "He is more versed than we in this art and hath wealth galore and exceeding skill. So do thou send for him and bid him pierce thee this jewel." Accordingly, the king sent for Ubeid and bade him pierce the jewel, imposing on him the condition aforesaid. He took it and pierced it to the liking of the king, who said to him, "Ask a boon of me, O master!" "O king of the age," answered he, " have patience with me till to-morrow."
Now the reason of this was that he wished to take counsel with his wife, who is the young lady thou sawest riding in state; for he loveth her with an exceeding love. and of the greatness of his love for her, he doth nought without consulting her; wherefore he put off asking till the morrow. When he went home, he said to her, " I have pierced the king a jewel and he hath granted me a boon; but I put off asking till to-morrow, that I might consult thee. So what cost thou wish, that I may ask it? " Quoth she, "We have riches such as fires may not consume; but, if thou love me, ask of the king that he make proclamation in the streets of Bassora that all the townsfolk shall every Friday enter the mosques, two hours before the hour of prayer, so none, great or small, may abide in the town, except they be in the mosques or in the houses and the doors be locked upon them, and that all the shops of the town be left open. Then will I ride with my women through the city and none shall look on me from window or lattice; and every one, whom I find abroad, I will kill."
So he went in to the king and sought of him this boon, which he granted him; but, when he caused proclamation to be made to the effect aforesaid, the people objected that they feared for their goods from the dogs and cats; wherefore he commanded to shut the latter up till the folk should come forth from the Friday prayers. So the jeweller's wife fell to sallying forth every Friday, two hours before the time of prayer, and riding in state through the city with her women; during which time none dares pass through the market nor look out of window or lattice. This, then, is what thou wouldst know and I have told thee who she is; but, O my son, was it thy desire [only] to have news of her or hast thou a mind to foregather with her?' 'O my mother,' answered he, 'it is my wish to foregather with her.' Quoth she, 'Tell me what valuables thou hast with thee.' And he replied, 'O my mother, I have with me precious stones of four kinds, the first worth five hundred dinars each, the second seven hundred, the third eight hundred and the fourth a thousand.' 'Art thou willing to spend four of these?' asked she; and he said, 'I am ready to spend them all.'
'Then,' rejoined she, 'arise, O my son, and go straight to thy lodging and take a jewel of those worth five hundred dinars, with which do thou repair to the jewel- market and ask for the shop of Master Ubeid, the Syndic of the Jewellers. Thou wilt find him seated in his shop, clad in rich clothes, with workmen under his hand. Salute him and sit down by him; then pull out the jewel and give it him, saying, "O master, take this stone and fashion it into a ring for me with gold. Make it not large, a mithcal in weight and no more; but let the fashion of it be excellent." Then give him twenty dinars and give each of his journeymen a diner. Sit with him awhile and talk with him and if a beggar accost thee, give him a dinar, to the intent that he may take thee into affection. After this, leave him and return to thy lodging. Pass the night there and next morning, take a hundred dinars and bring them and give them to thy father [the barber], for he is poor.'
'Be it so,' answered Kemerezzeman and returning to his hostelry, took a jewel worth five hundred dinars and went with it to the jewel-bazaar. There he enquired for the shop of Master Ubeid, Syndic of the Jewellers, and they directed him thereto. So he went thither and saw the syndic, a man of reverend aspect and clad in sumptuous apparel [sitting in his shop,] with four journeymen under his hand. He saluted him and the jeweller returned his greeting and welcoming him, made him sit down. Then he brought out the jewel and said to Ubeid, 'O master, I wish thee to make me this jewel into a ring with gold. Let it be the weight of a mithcal and no more, but fashion it curiously.' Then he pulled out twenty dinars and gave them to him, saying, 'This is for the chasing, over and above the price of the ring.' And he gave each of the journeymen a diner, wherefore they loved him, and so did the syndic. Then he sat talking with the jeweller and whenever a beggar came up to him, he gave him a diner and they all marvelled at his generosity.
Now Ubeid had tools at home, like those he had in the shop, and whenever he was minded to do any extraordinary piece of work, it was his wont to carry it home and do it there, that his journeymen might not learn the secrets of his curious workmanship. His wife used to sit before him, and when she was sitting thus and he looking upon her, he would fashion all manner of curiously wrought trinkets, such as were fit for none but kings. So he took Kemerezzeman's jewel home and sat down to fashion the ring with rare workmanship. When his wife saw him thus engaged, she said to him, 'What wilt thou do with this jewel ?' And he answered, 'I mean to make it into a ring with gold, for it is worth five hundred dinars.' 'For whom wilt thou set it?' asked she. 'For a young merchant,' replied he, 'who is fair of face, with eyes that wound and cheeks that strike fire and mouth like Solomon's seal and cheeks like blood-red anemones and lips red as coral and neck like that of a gazelle. His complexion is white blent with red and he is well-bred, pleasant and generous and doth thus and thus.' And he went on to describe to her his beauty and grace and bounty and perfection and ceased not to vaunt his charms and the generosity of his fashion, till he had made her in love with him; for there is no sillier cuckold than he who vaunts another man's good looks and liberality to his wife.
So, when desire rose high in her, she said to him, 'Is aught of my charms found in him?' 'He hath all thy beauties,' answered her husband; 'and he is thy counter- part in favour. Meseemeth his age is even as thine and but that I fear to vex thee, I would say that he is a thousand times handsomer than thou.' She was silent, and the jeweller ceased not to talk with her and set out Kemerezzeman's charms to her, till he had made an end of chasing the ring; when he gave it to her and she put it on her finger, which it fitted exactly. ' O my lord,' said she, 'my heart loveth this ring and I long for it to be mine and will not take it from my finger.' 'Have patience,' answered her husband. 'The owner of it is generous and I will seek to buy it of him, and if he will sell it to me, I will bring it to thee. Or if he have another jewel, I will buy it of him for thee and fashion it for thee into a ring like this.'
Meanwhile, Kemerezzeman passed the night in his lodging and on the morrow he took a hundred dinars and carried them to the old woman, the barber's wife, who said to him, 'Give them to thy father.' So he gave them to the barber, and she said, 'Hast thou done as I told thee ?' 'Yes,' answered he, and she said, 'Go now to the jeweller and if he give thee the ring, put it on the top of thy finger and pull it off in haste and say to him, " O master, thou hast made a mistake; the ring is too strait." He will say, " O merchant, shall I break it and make it again larger ? " And do thou reply, " It boots not to break it and fashion it anew. Take it and give it to one of thy women." Then pull out another stone worth seven hundred dinars and say to him, " Take this stone and set it for me, for it is handsomer than the other." Give him thirty dinars and give each of the journeymen two, saying, "This is for the chasing, over and above the price of the ring." Then return to thy lodging for the night and on the morrow bring me two hundred dinars, and I will complete thee the rest of the device.'
So Kemerezzeman went to the jeweller, who welcomed him and made him sit down; and he said to him, 'Hast thou done my occasion ?' 'Yes,' answered Ubeid and brought out to him the ring; whereupon he set it on the top of his finger and pulling it off in haste, said, 'Thou hast made a mistake, O master. And threw it to him, saying, ' It is too strait for my finger.' 'O merchant,' asked the jeweller, "shall I make it larger?' 'Not so,' replied Kemerezzeman 'take it as a gift and give it to one of thy women. Its worth is trifling, some five hundred dinars; so it boots not to fashion it over again.' Then he brought out to him another stone worth seven hundred dinars and said to him, 'Set this.' Moreover, he gave him thirty dinars and gave each of his journeymen two. Quoth Ubeid, 'O my lord, we will take the price of the ring, when we have made it.' But Kemerezzeman said, 'This is for the chasing, and the price of the ring remains over.' So saying, he went away, leaving the jeweller and his men amazed at the excess of his generosity.
Presently the jeweller returned home and said to his wife, 'O Helimeh,' [for that was her name,] 'never did I set eyes on a more generous than this young man, and as for thee, thy luck is good, for he hath given me the ring without price, saying, " Give it to one of thy women."' And he told her what had passed between himself and Kemerezzeman, adding, 'Methinks this youth is none of the sons of the merchants, but that he is of the sons of the kings and sultans.' The more he praised him, the more she waxed in passion and longing and love-distraction for him. So she took the ring and put it on her finger, whilst the jeweller made another for Kemerezzeman, a little larger than the first. When he had finished it, she put it on her finger, under the first, and said, 'Look, O my lord, how well the two rings show on my finger! I wish they were both mine.' 'Patience,' answered he. 'It may be I shall buy thee this second one.' Then he lay that night and on the morrow he took the ring and went to his shop.
As for Kemerezzeman, as soon as it was day, he betook himself to the barber's wife and gave her two hundred dinars. Quoth she, 'Go to the jeweller and when he gives thee the ring, put it on thy finger and pull it off again in haste, saying, " Thou hast made a mistake, O master I This ring is too large. It behoveth a master like thee, when the like of me cometh to him with a piece of work, to take his measure; and if thou hadst taken the measure of my finger, thou hadst not erred." Then pull out another stone worth a thousand dinars and say to him, "Take this and set it, and give this ring to one of thy women." Give him forty dinars and each of his men three, saying, "This is for the chasing, and for the cost of the ring, that stands over." And see what he will say. Then bring three hundred dinars and give them to thy father the barber, that he may mend his fortune withal, for he is a poor man.' 'I hear and obey,' answered Kemerezzeman and betook himself to the jeweller, who welcomed him and making him sit down, gave him the ring.
He took it and put it on his finger; then pulled it off in haste and said, 'It behoveth a master like thee, when the like of me brings him a piece of work, to take his measure. Hadst thou taken the measure of my finger, thou hadst not erred; but take it and give it to one of thy women.' Then he brought out to him a stone worth a thousand dinars and said to him, 'Take this and set it for me after the measure of my finger.' 'Good,' answered Ubeid. 'Thou art in the right;' and took his measure, whereupon he pulled out forty dinars and gave them to him, saying, 'This is for the chasing and the price of the ring shall remain.' 'O my lord,' said the jeweller, ' how much hire have we taken of thee! Verily, thy bounty to us is great!' ' No harm,' answered Kemerezzeman and sat talking with him awhile and giving a diner to every beggar who passed.
Then he left him and went away, whilst the jeweller returned home and said to his wife, 'How generous is this young merchant! Never did I set eyes on a more open-handed or a comelier than he, no, nor a sweeter of speech.' And he went on to recount to her his charms and liberality and was loud in his praise. 'Lack- courtesy that thou art!' said she. 'Since thou notest these attributes in him, and indeed he hath given thee two rings of price, it behoveth thee to invite him and make him an entertainment and entreat him friendly. When he seeth that thou tenderest him and cometh to our house, we shall surely get great good of him; and if thou grudge him this, do thou bid him and I will entertain him of my monies.' Quoth he, 'Dost thou know me to be niggardly, that thou sayest this?' 'Thou art no niggard,' rejoined she; 'but thou lackest of breeding. Invite him this night and come not without him. If he refuse, conjure him by the oath of divorce and be instant with him.' 'On my head and eyes,' answered he and wrought at the ring till he had finished it, after which he passed the night and went forth on the morrow to his shop and sat there.
Meanwhile, Kemerezzeman took three hundred dinars and carrying them to the barber's wife, gave them to her for her husband. Quoth she, 'Most like he will invite thee to his house this night; and if he do this and thou lie with him, tell me in the morning what happens to thee and bring with thee four hundred dinars and give them to thy father [the barber].' 'I hear and obey,' answered he; and as often as he ran out of money, he would sell some of his jewels. So he repaired to the jeweller, who received him with open arms and clapped up a friendship with him. Then he gave him the ring, and he found it after the measure of his finger and said to the jeweller, 'God bless thee, O prince of craftsmen! The setting is conformable [to my wishes], but the stone is not to my liking. I have a handsomer than it: so take the ring and give it to one of thy women.' Then he gave him a fourth stone and a hundred dinars, saying, 'Take thy hire and pardon me the trouble I have given thee.' 'O merchant,' answered Ubeid, 'all the trouble thou hast given us thou hast requited us and hast overwhelmed us with thy bounties: and indeed my heart is taken with love of thee and I cannot brook parting from thee. So, God on thee, be thou my guest this night and heal my heart.' 'So be it,' replied Kemerezzeman; 'but needs must I go to my khan, that I may give a charge to my servants and tell them that I shall sleep abroad to-night, so they may not expect me.' ' Where dost thou lodge?' asked the jeweller; and he answered, 'In such a khan.' Quoth Ubeid, 'I will come for thee there.' And Kemerezzeman said, 'Good.'
So the jeweller repaired to the khan before sundown, fearing lest his wife should be wroth with him, if he returned home without Kemerezzeman, and carrying him to his house, seated him in a saloon that had not its match. Helimeh saw him, as he entered, and was ravished with him. They talked till the evening-meal came, when they ate and drank; after which came coffee and sherbets, and the jeweller ceased not to entertain him with talk till evensong, when they prayed the ordained prayers. Then in came a handmaid with two cups of [diet-]drink, which when they had drunk, drowsiness overcame them and they slept. Presently in came the jeweller's wife and seeing them asleep, looked upon Kemerezzeman's face and was confounded at his beauty. 'How can he sleep who loves the fair?' said she, and turning him over on his back, bestrode his breast. Then in the rage of her passion for him, she rained down kisses on his cheeks, till she left mark upon them and they became exceeding red and his cheekbones shone. Moreover, she sucked his lips, till the blood ran out into her mouth; but with all this, her heat was not quenched nor her thirst assuaged.
She ceased not to kiss and clip him and twine leg with leg, till the forehead of the day grew white and the dawn broke forth and shone; when she put in his pocket four huckle-bones and went away. Then she sent her maid with something like snuff, which she applied to their nostrils and they sneezed and awoke. 'O my lords,' said the girl, 'prayer is a duty; so rise and pray the morning prayer.' And she brought them basin and ewer. Quoth Kemerezzeman, 'O master, we have overslept ourselves.' 'O my friend,' answered the jeweller, ' verily the air of this room is heavy; for, whenever I sleep in it, this happens to me.' 'It is well,' rejoined Kemerezzeman and proceeded to make the ablution; but, when he put the water to his face, his cheeks and lips burned him. 'This is a strange thing!' said he. 'If the air of the room be heavy and we have been drowned in sleep, what ails my cheeks and lips that they burn me ? ' And he said to the jeweller, 'O master, my cheeks and lips burn me.' 'Doubtless this comes of the mosquito-bites,' answered the other. 'Strange!' said Kemerezzeman. ' Hath this thing happened to thee?' 'No,' replied Ubeid. 'But, whenever I have a guest like thee, he complains in the morning of the mosquito-bites, and this only happens when he is like thee, beardless. If he be bearded, the mosquitoes trouble him not, and nought hinders them from me but my beard. It seems they love not bearded men.' ' True,' rejoined Kemerezzeman. Then the maid brought them breakfast and they broke their fast and went out.
Kemerezzeman betook himself to the old woman, who exclaimed, when she saw him, 'I see the marks of dalliance on thy face: tell me what thou hast seen.' Quoth he, 'I have seen nothing. Only I supped with the master of the house in a saloon and prayed the evening prayer, after which we fell asleep and woke not till the morning.' She laughed and said, 'What are those marks on thy cheeks and lips?' 'It was the mosquitoes of the saloon that did this with me,' answered he. 'It is well,' rejoined she. 'But did the same thing betide the master of the house?' 'Nay,' replied he; 'on the contrary, he told me that the mosquitoes of that saloon molest not bearded men, but bite those only who have no hair on their faces, and that, whenever he hath to guest one who is beardless, the latter awakes, complaining of the mosquito-bites; but, if he have a beard, there befalls him nothing of this.' 'Good,' said she. ' Sawest thou ought but this?' and he answered, 'I found four huckle-bones in my pocket.' Quoth she, 'Show them to me.'
So he gave them to her and she laughed and said, 'Thy mistress laid these in thy pocket.' 'How so?' asked he; and she replied, 'It is as if she said to thee, in the language of signs, "An thou wert in love, thou wouldst not sleep, for a lover sleeps not: but thou art yet a child and fit for nothing but to play with these huckle-bones. So what ails thee to fall in love with the fair? " Now she came to thee by night and finding thee asleep, devoured thy cheeks with kisses and left thee this sign. But this will not suffice her of thee and she will certainly send her husband to invite thee again to-night; so, when thou goest home with him, hasten not to fall asleep, and on the morrow bring me five hundred dinars and acquaint me with what hath passed, and I will tell thee what more thou shalt do. 'I hear and obey,' answered he and went back to the khan.
Meanwhile, the jeweller's wife said to her husband, ' Is the guest gone ?' 'Yes,' answered he: ' but, O Helimeh, the mosquitoes plagued him last night and scarified his cheeks and lips, and indeed I was abashed before him.' 'This is the wont of the mosquitoes of our saloon,' rejoined she; for they love none but the beardless. But do thou invite him again to-night.' So he repaired to Kemerezzeman's lodging and bidding him, carried him to his house, where they ate and drank and prayed the evening prayer in the saloon, after which the maid came in and gave each of them a cup of drink, and they drank and fell asleep. Presently, in came Helimeh and said, 'O good-for-nought, how canst thou sleep and call thyself a lover? A lover sleepeth not.' Then she mounted on his breast and ceased not to ply him with kisses and caresses, biting and sucking his lips and so forth, till the morning, when she put a knife in his pocket and sent her maid to arouse them.
When Kemerezzeman awoke, his cheeks were on fire, for excess of redness, and his lips like coral, for dint of sucking and kissing. Quoth the jeweller, 'Did the mosquitoes plague thee last night?' 'No,' answered the young man; for, since he knew the word of the enigma, he left complaining. Then he felt the knife in his pocket and was silent. When he had broken his fast and drunk coffee, he left the jeweller and going to the khan, took five hundred dinars and carried them to the old woman, to whom he related what had passed, saying, 'I slept in my own despite, and when I woke I found nothing but a knife in my pocket.' 'May God protect thee from her this next night !' exclaimed the old woman. ' For she saith to thee [by this sign,] "An thou sleep again, I will cut thy throat." Thou wilt once more be bidden to the jeweller's house to-night, and if thou sleep, she will slay thee.'
'What is to be done?' asked he; and she said, 'Tell me what thou atest and drankest before sleeping.' Quoth he, 'We supped as usual and prayed the evening prayer, after which there came in to us a maid, who gave each of us a cup of [diet-]drink, which when I had drunk, I fell asleep and awoke not till the morning.' 'The mischief is in the cup of drink,' said the old woman. 'So, when the maid gives it thee, take it from her, but drink not and wait till the master of the house have drunken and fallen asleep; then say to her, "Give me a draught of water," and she will go to fetch thee the gugglet. Whilst she is gone, empty the cup behind the pillow and lie down and feign sleep. So when she comes back with the gugglet, she will deem that thou hast fallen asleep, after having drunk off the cup, and will go away; and the case will appear to thee anon; but beware of disobeying my bidding.' 'I hear and obey,' answered he and returned to the khan.
Meanwhile the jeweller's wife said to her husband, 'A guest's due is three nights' entertainment: so do thou invite him a third time.' Accordingly the jeweller betook himself to Kemerezzeman and inviting him, carried him home and sat down with him in the saloon. When they had supped and prayed the evening prayer, in came the maid and gave each of them a cup. The jeweller drank and fell asleep; but Kemerezzeman forbore to drink whereupon quoth the maid, 'Wilt thou not drink, O my lord?" 'I am athirst,' answered he. 'Bring me the gugglet.' So she went to fetch it, and in the meantime he emptied the cup behind the cushion and lay down. When the girl returned, she saw him lying down and told her mistress that he had drunk off the cup and fallen asleep; whereupon quoth Helimeh to herself, 'Verily, his death is better than his life.' Then, taking a sharp knife, she went in to him, saying, 'Three times, and thou notedest not the sign, O fool! So now I will slit thy weasand'
When he saw her making for him, with the knife in her hand, he opened his eyes and rose, laughing; whereupon, ' It was not of thine own wit,' said she, 'that thou camest at the meaning of the token, but by the help of some wily cheat; so tell me whence had thou this knowledge.' 'From an old woman,' answered he and told her all that had passed between himself and the barber's wife. 'To-morrow,' said she, 'go thou to her and say, " Hast thou any further device in store?" And if she say, "Yes," do thou rejoin, "Then do thine endeavour to bring me to enjoy her publicly." But, if she say, " I have no means of doing that, and this is the last of my contrivance," put her away from thy thought, and to-morrow night my husband will come to thee and invite thee. Do thou come with him and tell me and I will consider what remains to be done.' 'Good,' answered he.
Then he spent the rest of the night with her in kissing and clipping, plying the particle of copulation in concert and according the conjunctive with the conjoined, whilst her husband was as a cast-out nunation of construction, till the morning, when she said to him, ' It is not a night of thee that will content me, nor a day, no, nor yet a month nor a year; but it is my intent to abide with thee the rest of my life. Wait till I play my husband a trick that would baffle the keenest-witted and whereby we shall come to our desires. I will cause doubt to enter into him, so that he shall put me away, whereupon I will marry thee and go with thee to thine own country. Moreover, I will transport all his wealth and treasures to thy lodging and will contrive thee the ruin of his dwelling-place and the blotting-out of his traces. But do thou hearken to my speech and obey me in that I shall say to thee and cross me not.' 'I hear and obey,' answered Kemerezzeman; 'there is no opposition in me.'
Then said she, 'Go to the khan and when my husband comes to thee and invites thee, say to him, " O my brother, a man is apt to be burdensome, and when his visits grow [over]frequent, both generous and niggard loathe him. How then shall I go with thee every night and lie with thee in the saloon? lf thou be not chagrined with me, thy harem will bear me a grudge, for that I hinder thee from them. If, therefore, thou hast a mind to my company, take me a house beside thine own and we will abide thus, now I sitting with thee till the time of sleep, and now thou with me. Then I will go to my lodging and thou to thy harem, and this will be better- advised than that I hinder thee from thy harem every night." Then will he come to me and take counsel with me, and I will advise him to turn out our neighbour, for that the house in which he lives is ours and he rents it of us; and once thou art in the house, God will make the rest of our scheme easy to us. Go now and do as I bid thee.' 'I hear and obey,' answered he; whereupon she left him and went away, whilst he lay down and feigned sleep.
Presently, the maid came and aroused them; and when the jeweller awoke, he said to Kemerezzeman, 'O merchant, have the mosquitoes troubled thee?' 'No,' answered he, and Ubeid said, 'Belike thou art grown used to them.' Then they broke their fast and drank coffee, after which they went out to their affairs, and Kemerezzeman betook himself to the old woman, to whom he related what had passed, saying, 'Hast thou any farther device to bring me to foregather with her publicly?' 'O my son,' answered she, 'my contrivance hath gone thus far, and now I am at the end of my devices.' So he left her and returned to the khan, where towards eventide the jeweller came to him and invited him. Quoth Kemerezzeman, 'I cannot go with thee.' 'Why so?' asked the merchant. 'I love thee and cannot brook separation from thee. I conjure thee by Allah to come with me!' 'If it be thy wish,' replied Kemerezzeman, 'to continue our intercourse and keep up the friendship betwixt thee and me, take me a house beside shine own, and if thou wilt, thou shalt pass the evening with me and I with thee; but, when the time of sleep cometh, each of us shall go to his own house and lie there.' Quoth Ubeid, 'I have a house adjoining mine, which is my own property: so go thou with me to-night and to-morrow I will have the house voided for thee.'
So he went with him and they supped and prayed the evening-prayer, after which the jeweller drank the cup of drugged liquor and fell asleep: but in Kemerezzeman's cup there was no drug; so he drank it and slept not. Then came the jeweller's wife and passed the night with him, whilst her husband lay like a dead man. When he awoke in the morning, he sent for the tenant of the adjoining house and said to him, 'O man, void me the house, for I have need of it.' 'On my head and eyes,' answered the man and voided the house to him, whereupon Kemerezzeman took up his abode therein and transported all his goods thither. The jeweller passed that evening with him, then went to his own house.
On the morrow, his wife sent for a cunning builder and wrought on him with money to make her an underground [way] from her chamber to Kemerezzeman's house, ending in a trap-door under the earth. So, before Kemerezzeman was ware, she came in to him with two bags of money and he said to her, ' Whence comest thou ?' She showed him the underground way and said to him, 'Take these two bags of his money.' Then she abode with him, toying and dallying with him, till the morning, when she said, 'Wait for me, till I go to him and wake him, so he may go to his shop, and return to thee.' So saying, she went away and awoke her husband, who made the ablution and prayed and went to his shop. As soon as he was gone, she took four bags of money and carrying them to Kemerezzeman, sat with him awhile, after which she returned to her house and he betook himself to the bazaar.
When he returned at sundown, he found in his house ten purses and jewels and what not else. Presently the jeweller came to him and carried him to his own house, where they passed the evening in the saloon, till the maid brought them to drink. The jeweller drank and fell asleep, whilst nought betided Kemerezzeman [and he abode awake], for that his cup was pure and there was no drug therein. Then came Helimeh and fell to toying with him, whilst the maid transported the jeweller's goods to Kemerezzeman's house by the secret passage. Thus they did till morning, when the maid awoke her master and gave them to drink of coffee, after which they went each his own way.
On the third day she brought out to him a knife of her husband's, that he had chased and wrought with his own band. He priced it at five hundred dinars and because of the eagerness with which the folk sought it of him, he had laid it up in a chest and could not bring himself to sell it to any. Quoth she, 'Take this knife and stick it in thy girdle and go to my husband and sit with him. Then pull out the knife and say to him, "Look at this knife I bought to-day and tell me if I made a good bargain or not." He will know it, but will be ashamed to say to thee, "This is my knife." So he will ask thee, " Whence didst thou buy it and for how much ? "And do thou answer," I saw two Levantines disputing and one said to the other, 'Where hast thou been?' Quoth his companion, 'I have been with my mistress, and whenever I foregather with her, she gives me money; but to-day she said to me, "I have no money to give thee to-day, but take this knife of my husband's." So I took it and mean to sell it.' The knife pleased me and I said to him, 'Wilt thou sell it to me?' 'Buy,' answered he. So I got it of him for three hundred dinars and I wonder whether it was cheap or dear." And note what he will say to thee. Then talk with him awhile and rise and come back to me in haste. Thou wilt find me awaiting thee at the mouth of the underground way, and do thou give me the knife.' 'I hear and obey,' replied Kemerezzeman and taking the knife, stuck it in his girdle.
Then he went to the shop of the jeweller, who saluted him and welcomed him and made him sit down. He spied the knife in his girdle, at which he wondered and said in himself, 'That is my knife: who can have given it to this merchant?' And he fell a-musing and saying in himself, 'I wonder if it is my knife or one like it!' Presently, Kemerezzeman pulled it out of his girdle and said to him, 'Harkye, master; take this knife and look at it.' Ubeid took it and knew it right well, but was ashamed to say, ' This is my knife;' so he said, 'Where didst thou buy it?' Kemerezzeman replied as Helimeh had charged him, and the jeweller said, 'The knife was cheap at that price, for it is worth five hundred dinars' But fire flamed in his heart and his hands were tied from working at his craft.
Kemerezzeman continued to talk with him, whilst he was drowned in the sea of solicitudes, and for fifty words wherewith the youth bespoke him, he answered him but one; for his heart was in torment and his body racked and his mind troubled and he was even as saith the poet:I cannot speak, what time to talk with me folk have a mind, And if they speak to me, my thought they absent from me find.
When Kemerezzeman saw him thus discomfited, he said to him, 'Belike thou art busy at this present,' and leaving him, returned to his own house, where he found Helimeh standing at the door of the underground passage, awaiting him. Quoth she, 'Hast thou done as I bade thee?' And he said, 'Yes.' ' What said he to thee?' asked she, and he answered, 'He told me that the knife was cheap at that price, for that it was worth five hundred dinars: but I could see that he was troubled; so I left him and know not what befell him after that.' 'Give me the knife,' said she, 'and reck thou not of him.' Then she took the knife and restoring it to its place, sat down.
Meanwhile, fire flamed in the jeweller's heart and disquietude was sore upon him and he said in himself, 'Needs must I go and look for the knife and do away doubt with certainty.' So he repaired to his house and went in to his wife, snorting like a dragon; and she said to him, 'What ails thee, O my lord ?' 'Where is my knife ?' asked he. 'In the chest,' answered she and smote upon her breast, saying, 'Woe is me! Belike thou hast fallen out with some one and art come to fetch the knife to smite him withal' 'Give me the knife,' said he. 'Let me see it' But she replied, '[I will not give it thee] till thou swear to me that thou wilt not smite any one with it.' So he swore this to her and she opened the chest and brought out to him the knife and he fell to turning it o ver, saying, 'Verily, this is a strange thing!'
Then said he to her, 'Take it and lay it back in its place.' Quoth she, 'Tell me the meaning of all this.' And he answered, 'I saw a knife like this with our friend [the merchant],' and told her all that had passed between himself and Kemerezzeman, adding, 'But, when I saw it in the chest, there was an end of my doubts.' 'Belike,' said she, 'thou misdoubtedst of me and deemedst that I was the Levantine's mistress and had given him the knife.' 'Yes,' replied he; 'I had my doubts of this; but, when I saw the knife, suspicion was lifted from my heart.' 'O man,' rejoined she, 'there is no good in thee!' And he fell to excusing himself to her, till he appeased her; after which he returned to his shop.
Next day, she gave Kemerezzeman her husband's watch, which he had wrought with his own hand and whereof none had the like, saying, 'Go to his shop and sit with him and say to him, "I saw again to-day him whom I saw yesterday. He had a watch in his hand and said to me, 'Wilt thou buy this watch?' Quoth I, 'Whence hadst thou it?' And he answered, saying, 'I was with my mistress and she gave me this watch.' So I bought it of him for eight- and-fifty diners. Look at it: is it cheap at that price or dear?" Note what he says to thee; then return to me in haste and give me the watch.' So Kemerezzeman repaired to the jeweller and did with him as his mistress had charged him. When Ubeid saw the watch, he said, 'This is worth seven hundred diners;' and suspicion entered into him. Then Kemerezzeman left him and returning to Helimeh, gave her back the watch.
Presently, in came her husband, snorting, and said to her, 'Where is my watch?' 'Here it is,' answered she. And he said, 'Give it me.' So she brought it to him and he exclaimed, 'There is no power and no virtue save in God the Most High, the Supreme!' 'O man,' said she, 'there is something the matter with thee. Tell me what it is.' 'What shall I say?' answered he. 'Verily, I am bewildered by these [strange] chances!' And he recited the following verses:By the Compassionate, I'm dazed about my case; for lo! Troubles and griefs beset me sore, I know not whence they grow.
Then he said to his wife, 'O woman, I saw, in the hands of the merchant our friend, first my knife, which I knew, for that its fashion was of my own invention, nor doth its like exist; and he told me of it a story that troubled the heart: so I came [home] and found it [here]. Again to-day I see him with the watch, whose fashion also is of my own invention, nor is there the fellow of it in Bassora, and of this also he told me a story that troubled my heart. Wherefore I am bewildered in my wit and know not what is come to me.' Quoth she, 'The gist of thy speech is that thou suspectedst me of being the merchant's mistress and giving him thy goods; so thou camest to question me and make proof of my perfidy; and but that I showed thee the knife and the watch, thou hadst been certified of my faithlessness But, O man, since thon deemest thus of me, henceforth I will never again break bread with thee nor drink water, for I loathe thee with the loathing of prohibition.'
So he spoke her fair and excused himself to her till he appeased her and returned, repenting him of having bespoken her thus, to his shop, where he sat, in sore disquiet and exceeding anxiety, between belief and disbelief, till eventide. Then he went home, but brought not Kemerezzeman with him; whereupon quoth his wife, 'Where is the merchant?' And he said, 'In his house.' 'Is the friendship between thee and him grown cold?' asked she. 'By Allah,' replied he, 'I have taken an aversion to him, because of that which hath betided me from him.' Quoth she, 'Go and fetch him, to please me.' So he arose and went in to Kemerezzeman in his house, where he saw his own goods strewn about and knew them. At this sight, fire was kindled in his heart and he fell asighing. Quoth Kemerezzeman, 'How is it that I see thee melancholy?' Ubeid was ashamed to say, 'Here are my goods in thy house: who brought them hither?' So he answered only, 'A vexation hath betided me; but come thou with me to my house, that we may divert ourselves there.' 'Let me be in my place,' said Kemerezzeman. 'I will not go with thee.' But the jeweller conjured him [to come] and taking him, [carried him to his house,] where they supped and passed the evening together, Kemerezzeman talking with the jeweller, who was drowned in the sea of solicitude and answered him but one word for a hundred wherewith he bespoke him.
Presently, the maid brought them two cups of drink, as usual, and they drank; whereupon Ubeid fell asleep, but Kemerezzeman abode on wake, for that his cup was not drugged. Then came Helimeh and said to her lover,
'How deemest thou of yonder cuckold, who is drunken in his heedlessness and knoweth not the wiles of women? Needs must I cozen him into putting me away. To-morrow, I will disguise myself as a slave-girl and follow thee to his shop, where do thou say to him," O master, I went to-day into the khan of E1 Yesirjiyeh, where I saw this damsel and bought her for a thousand dinars. Look at her and tell me whether she was cheap or dear at that price." Then uncover to him my face and breasts and show me to him; after which do thou carry me back to thy house, whence I will go to my chamber by the secret passage, so I may see the issue of our affair with him.'
Then they passed the night in mirth and converse and pleasance and good cheer and dalliance and delight till the morning, when she returned to her own place and sent the maid to arouse the two men. So they arose and prayed the morning-prayer and broke their fast and drank coffee, after which Ubeid repaired to his shop and Kemerezzeman betook himself to his own house. Presently, in came Helimeh to him by the underground passage, in the disguise of a slave-girl, and indeed she was a slave-girl by birth. T hen he went out and she followed him, till he came to the jeweller's shop and saluting him, sat down and said, 'O master, I went into the khan of El Yesirjiyeh to-day, to look about me, and saw this damsel in the broker's hands. She pleased me; so I bought her for a thousand diners and I would have thee look upon her and see if she be cheap at that price or no.' So saying, he uncovered her face and the jeweller saw her to be his own wife, dressed in her richest clothes and tricked out in her finest ornaments and adorned with kohl and henna, even as she was wont to adorn herself before him in the house.
He knew her but too well by her face and clothes and trinkets, for that he had wrought the latter with his own hand, and he saw on her fingers the rings he had newly made for Kemerezzeman, whereby he was certified that she was indeed his wife. So he said to her, 'What is thy name, O slave-girl?' And she answered, 'Helimeh,' naming to him her own name; whereat he was amazed and said to Kemerezzeman, 'For how much didst thou buy her?' 'For a thousand dinars,' answered he. 'Then,' rejoined the jeweller, 'thou hast gotten her for nothing; for her rings and clothes and trinkets are worth more than that.' 'May God rejoice thee with good news!' said Kemerezzeman. 'Since she pleases thee, I will carry her to my house.' And Ubeid answered, 'Do thy will. So he carried her to his house, whence she passed through the secret passage to her own apartment and sat there.
Meanwhile, fire flamed in the jeweller's heart and he said to himself, 'I will go see my wife. If she be at home, this slave-girl must be her counterpart, and glory be to Him who [only] hath no counterpart! But, if she be not at home, it is she herself without a doubt.' Then he set off, running, and coming to his house, found his wife sitting in the same clothes and ornaments he had seen upon her in the shop; whereupon he beat hand upon hand, saying, 'There is no power and no virtue but in God the Most High, the Supreme!' 'O man,' said she, 'art thou mad or what aileth thee? It is not thy wont to do thus, and it must be that something hath befallen thee.' 'If thou wilt have me tell thee,' answered he, 'be not vexed.' 'Say on,' quoth she. So he said, 'Our friend the merchant hath bought a slave-girl, whose shape is as thy shape and her height as thy height; moreover, her name is even as thine and her apparel is the like of thine apparel. Brief, she resembles thee in all her attributes, and on her fingers are rings like thy rings and her trinkets are like unto thy trinkets. So, when he showed her to me, methought it was thyself and I was perplexed about my case. Would we had never seen this merchant nor companied with him and would he had never left his own country and we had not known him, for he hath troubled my life, that before was serene, causing unkindness to succeed good faith and making doubt to enter into my heart!' 'Look in my face,' said she. 'Belike I am she who was with him and he is my lover and I disguised myself as a slave-girl and agreed with him that he should show me to thee, so he might lay a snare for thee.' 'What words are these?' answered he. 'Indeed, I never thought that thou wouldst do the like of this thing.'Now this jeweller was unversed in women's wiles and knew not how they do with men, nor had he heard the saying of the poet:
Nor that of another:Gainsay women; he obeyeth Allah best, who saith them nay And he prospers not who giveth them his bridle-rein to sway;
And a third:Women are very devils, made to work us dole and death: Refuge I seek with God Most High from all their craft and scaith.
' Here am I sitting in my chamber,' said she. So go thou to him forthright and knock at the door and make shift to go in to him quickly. If thou see the damsel with him, it is a slave-girl of his who resembles me, and glory be to Him who hath no like! But, if thou see no slave-girl with him, then am I myself she whom thou sawest with him in the shop, and thine ill thought of me will be confirmed.' 'True,' answered Ubeid and went out, whereupon she passed through the hidden way and seating herself by Kemerezzeman, told him what had passed, saying, 'Open the door quickly and show me to him.'
As they were talking, there came a knocking at the door. Quoth Kemerezzeman, ' Who is at the door?' 'I, thy friend,' answered the jeweller; 'thou showedst me thy slave-girl in the bazaar, and I rejoiced in her for thee: but my joy in her was not completed; so open the door and let me look at her again.' 'So be it,' rejoined Kemerezzeman and opened the door to him, whereupon he saw his wife sitting by him. She rose and kissed their hands; and he looked at her. Moreover, she talked with him awhile and he saw her not to be distinguished from his wife in aught and said, 'God createth what He will.' Then he went away, more perplexed than ever, and returned to his own house, where he found his wife sitting in her chamber, for she had foregone him thither by the secret passage. Quoth she, 'What hast thou seen?' 'I found her with her master,' answered he; 'and she resembleth thee.' Then said she, 'Go to thy shop and let this suffice thee of suspicion and never again deem ill of me.' 'So be it,' replied he; 'bear me not malice for what is past.' 'God pardon thee!' said she; whereupon he kissed her right and left and went back to his shop.
No sooner was he gone than she again betook herself to Kemerezzeman through the underground passage, with four bags of money, and said to him, 'Equip thyself for present departure and be ready to carry off the treasure without delay, against I put in action for thee the device I have in mind.' So he went out forthright and bought mules and loaded them and made ready a travelling litter. Moreover he bought slaves and servants and sending the whole without the city, returned to Helimeh and said to her, 'I have made an end of my affairs.' Quoth she, 'And I too am ready; for I have transported to thy house all the rest of his money and treasures and have left him nothing, little or much, whereof he may avail himself. All this is of my love for thee, O darling of my heart, for I would sacrifice to thee a thousand husbands. But now thou must go to him and take leave of him, saying, "I purpose to depart after three days and am come to bid thee farewell. So do thou reckon what I owe thee for the rent of the house, that I may send it to thee and acquit my conscience." Note his reply and return to me and tell me; for I can no more. I have done my utmost, by cozening him, to anger him with me and cause him divorce me, but find him still infatuated with me. So nothing will serve us but to depart to shine own country.' 'O rare!' replied he. 'If but the dreams prove true!'
Then he went to the jeweller's shop and sitting down by him, said to him, 'O master, I set out for home in three days' time, and am come to take leave of thee. So I would have thee reckon what I owe thee for the hire of the house, that I may give it to thee and acquit my conscience.' 'What talk is this?' answered Ubeid. 'Verily, it is I who am indebted to thee. By Allah, I will take nothing from thee for the rent of the house, for thou hast brought down blessings upon us! But thou desolatest me by thy departure, and but that it is forbidden to me, I would certainly oppose thee and hinder thee from returning to thy country and family.' Then he took leave of him, whilst they both wept exceeding sore, and the jeweller shut his shop, saying in himself, 'Needs must I bring my friend on his way.'
So, as often as he went on an occasion, the jeweller went with him, and when they entered Kemerezzeman's house, they found Helimeh there, and she stood before them and served them; but, when Ubeid entered his own house, he found her sitting there; nor did he cease to see her thus in each house in turn, for the space of three days, at the end of which time she said to Kemerezzeman, 'Now have I transported to thee all that he hath of treasures and carpets and things of price, and there remains with him but the slave-girl, who used to come in to you with the night drink: but I cannot part with her, for that she is my kinswoman and confidant and she is dear to me. So I will [feign to] beat her and be wroth with her and when my husband comes home, I will say to him, " I will no longer put up with this slave-girl nor abide in the house with her; take her and sell her." So he will sell her and do thou buy her, that we may carry her with us.' 'Good,' answered he. So she beat the girl and when the jeweller came in, he found her weeping and asked her why she wept. Quoth she, 'My mistress hath beaten me.' So he went in to his wife and said to her, 'What hath that accursed girl done, that thou hast beaten her?' 'O man,' answered she, 'I have but one word to say to thee, and it is that I can no longer brook the sight of this girl; so take her and sell her, or else divorce me.' Quoth he, 'I will sell her, for I may not cross thee in aught.' So, when he went out to go to the shop, he took her and passed with her by Kemerezzeman.
No sooner had he gone out than his wife slipped through the underground passage to Kemerezzeman, who placed her in the litter, before her husband reached him. When he came up and Kemerezzeman saw the slave-girl with him he said to him, 'What girl is this?' 'It is my slave girl,' answered Ubeid, 'who used to serve us with wine; she hath disobeyed her mistress, who is wroth with her and hath bidden me sell her.' Quoth Kemerezzeman, 'If her mistress have taken an aversion to her, there is no abiding for her with her; but sell her to me, that I may smell your scent in her, and I will make her handmaid to my slave Helimeh.' 'Good,' answered Ubeid 'Take her.' 'What is her price?' asked Kemerezzeman. But the jeweller said, 'I will take nothing from thee, for thou hast been bountiful to us.'
So he accepted her from him and said to Helimeh, 'Kiss thy lord's hand.' Accordingly, she came out from the litter and kissing Ubeid's hand, remounted, whilst he looked at her. Then said Kemerezzeman, 'I commend thee to God, O Master Ubeid! Acquit me of responsibility. ' 'God acquit thee,' answered the jeweller, 'and bring thee in safety to thy family!' Then he bade him farewell and went to his shop, weeping, and indeed it was grievous to him to part from Kemerezzeman, for that he had been his friend and friendship hath its claims; yet he rejoiced in the dispelling of the doubts that had betided him concerning his wife, since the young man was now gone and his suspicions had not been confirmed.
Meanwhile Helimeh said to her lover, 'If thou wish for safety, travel by other than the accustomed road.' 'I hear and obey,' answered he and taking a road other than that commonly used, fared on, without ceasing, till he reached the confines of Egypt and sent his father a letter by a runner. Now Abdurrehman was sitting in the market among the merchants, with a heart on fire for separation from his son, for that no news of the latter had reached him, since the day of his departure, when the runner came up and said, 'O my lords, which of you is called the merchant Abdurrehman?' 'What wouldst thou with him?' asked they; and he said, 'I have a letter for him from his son Kemerezzeman, whom I left at El Arish.
At this Abdurrehman rejoiced and his heart was lightened and the merchants rejoiced for him and gave him joy of [his son's] safety. Then he opened the letter and read as follows: 'From Kemerezzeman to the merchant Abdurrehman. Peace be upon thee and upon all the merchants! If ye ask concerning us, to God be the praise and the thanks! Indeed we have sold and bought and profited and are come back in health and wealth and safety.' Whereupon Abdurrehman opened the chapter of rejoicing and made banquets and gave feasts and entertainments galore, sending for instruments of music and addressing himself to hold high festival after the rarest fashion When Kemerezzeman came to Es Salehiyeh,' his father and all the merchants went forth to meet him, and Abdurrehman embraced him and strained him to his bosom and wept till he swooned away. When he came to himself, he said, 'O my son, [this is] a blessed day, since the Omnipotent Protector hath reunited us with thee!' And he repeated the following verses:The loved one' s return is the crowning of glee And the joy-cup between us once more circles free.
Then, for excess of joy, the tears flowed from his eyes and he recited these verses also:The moon o' the time, unveiling, in splendour doth appear, W henas, his travels ended, to us he draweth near.
Then the merchants came up to Kemerezzeman and saluting him, saw with him many loads and servants and a travelling litter enclosed in a spacious canopy. So they took him and carried him home; and when Helimeh came forth from the litter, his father saw her a ravishment to all who beheld her. So they opened her an upper chamber, as it were a treasure from which the talismans had been loosed; and when his mother saw her, she was ravished with her and deemed her a queen of the wives of the kings. So she rejoiced in her and questioned her; and she answered, saying, 'I am thy son's wife.' 'Since he is married to thee,' rejoined the other, 'we must make thee a splendid bride-feast, that we may rejoice in thee and in my son.'
When the folk had dispersed and each had gone his way, Abdurrehman foregathered with his son and said to him, 'O my son, what is this slave-girl thou hast brought with thee and for how much didst thou buy her?' 'O my father,' answered Kemerezzeman, 'she is no slave- girl; but it is she who was the cause of my going abroad. 'How so?' asked his father, and he said, 'It is she whom the dervish described to us the night he lay with us; for indeed my hopes clove to her from that hour and I sought not to travel but on her account. The wild Arabs came out upon me by the way and stripped me and took my goods, so that I entered Bassora alone and there befell me there such and such things;' and he went on to relate to him all that had befallen him from beginning to end.
When he had made an end of his story, his father said to him, 'O my son, and after all this didst thou marry her?' ' No,' answered Kemerezzeman; 'but I have promised her marriage.' 'Is it thine intent to marry her?' asked Abdurrehman and he replied, 'If thou bid me marry her, I will do so; otherwise, I will not marry her.' Quoth his father, 'If thou marry her, I am quit of thee in this world and the next, and I shall be sore incensed against thee. How canst thou marry her, seeing that she hath dealt thus with her husband? For, even as she did with him for thy sake, so will she do the like with thee for another's sake, because she is a traitress and there is no trusting in a traitor. Wherefore, if thou disobey me, I shall be wroth with thee; but, if thou give ear to my word, I will seek thee out a girl handsomer than she, who shall be pure and virtuous, and marry thee to her, though I spend all my wealth upon her. Moreover, I will make thee a wedding without equal and will glory in thee and in her; for it is better that folk should say, "Such an one hath married such an one's daughter," than that they should say, "He hath taken to wife a slave-girl without birth or worth."' And he went on to persuade his son to give up marrying her, supporting his arguments by citing saws and proofs and stories and examples and verses and moral instances, till Kemerezzeman said, 'Since the case is thus, it boots not that I marry her.' Whereupon his father kissed him between the eyes, saying, 'Thou art my true son, and as I live, O my son, I will assuredly marry thee to a girl who hath not her equal!'
Then he set the jeweller's wife and her maid in an upper chamber, appointing a black slave-girl to carry them their meat and drink Moreover, he said to Helimeh, 'Ye shall abide imprisoned in this chamber, thou and thy maid, till I find one who will buy you, when I will sell you to him. And if ye resist, I will kill you both, for thou art a traitress, and there is no good in thee.' 'Do thy will,' answered she. 'I deserve all thou canst do with me.' Then he locked the door on them and gave his women a charge respecting them, saying, 'Let none go up to them nor speak with them, save the black slave-girl, who shall give them their meat and drink through the chamber-window.' So she abode with her maid, weeping and repenting her of that which she had done with her husband.
Meanwhile Abdurrehman sent out the marriage-brokers, to look out a wife of rank and worth for his son, and they ceased not to make search, and as often as they saw one girl, they heard of a fairer than she, till they came to the house of the Sheikh el Islam and saw his daughter. Now she had no equal in Cairo for beauty and grace and symmetry, and she was a thousand times handsomer than the jeweller's wife. So they told Abdurrehman and he and the notables repaired to her father and sought her in marriage of him. Then they drew up the contract and made her a splendid wedding. Moreover, Abdurrehman gave bride-feasts and held open house forty days.
On the first day, he invited the doctors of the law and they held a splendid nativity On the morrow, he invited all the merchants, and so on during the rest of the forty days, making a banquet every day to one or other class of folk, till he had bidden all the men of learning and emirs and beys and magistrates, whilst the drums beat and the flutes sounded and the merchant sat to receive the guests, with his son by his side, that he might divert himself by gazing on the folk, as they ate from the tables. Every night Abdurrehman illuminated the street and the quarter with lamps and there came all the mimes and jugglers and mountebanks and played all manner sports; and indeed it was a peerless wedding. On the last day he invited the poor and needy, far and near, and they came in troops and ate, whilst the merchant sat, with his son by his side.
Presently, behold, Ubeid the jeweller entered, with a company of poor folk, and he was naked and weary and bore on his face the marks of travel. When Kemerezzeman saw him, he knew him and said to his father, 'Look, O my father, at yonder poor man that is but now come in.' So he looked and saw him clad in worn clothes and on him a patched gown worth two dirhems: his face was pale and he was covered with dust and was as he were an offcast of the pilgrimage. He was groaning as groans the sick man and the needy, walking with a tottering gait and swaying right and left, and indeed there was realized in him the saying of the poet:Lack-gold abaseth man and cloth his worth away, Even as the setting sun that pales with ended day.
And that of another:All to the poor man' s contrary, a hindrance and a woe; The whole world shuts its doors on him, wherever he doth go.
And yet another:So but a man be blessed with luck and power and sway, Calamities and woes still turn from him away.
'O my son,' said the merchant, 'who is this?' And Kemerezzeman replied, 'This is Master Ubeid the jeweller, husband of the woman who is imprisoned with us.' Quoth Abdurrehman, 'Is this he of whom thou toldest me?' 'Yes,' answered his son; 'and indeed I know him well.'
Now the manner of Ubeid's coming thither was on this wise. When he had taken leave of Kemerezzeman, he went to his shop, where there came to him a job of work and he wrought at it all day. At eventide he locked up his shop and going home, laid his hand on the door, whereupon it opened and he entered and found neither his wife nor the slave-girl, but saw the house in the sorriest of plights, realizing the saying of the poet:Once was it as a beehive stocked and full of bees galore; But, when they left it, it became devoid of all its store.
When he saw the house empty, he turned right and left and went round about the place, like a madman, but found no one. Then he opened the door of his treasure-closet, but found therein nought of his money nor his treasures; whereupon he awoke from his delusion and shook off his infatuation and knew that it was his wife herself who had given him the change and outwitted him with her wiles. He wept for that which had betided, but kept his affair secret, so none of his enemies might exult over him nor any of his friends be troubled, knowing that, if he dis- covered his secret, it would bring him nought but affront and blame from the folk; wherefore he said to himself, 'O Ubeid, conceal that which hath befallen thee of trouble and affliction; it behoveth thee to do in accordance with the saying of the poet:If a man's breast be straitened with a secret he cloth hide, Yet straiter' s his who to the folk his secret cloth confide.'
Then he locked up his house and gave his shop in charge of one of his journeymen, to whom said he, 'My friend the young merchant hath invited me and my wife to accompany him to Cairo, that we may divert ourselves with the sight of the city, and swears that he will not depart except he carry us with him. So, O my son, I make thee my steward in the shop, and if the king ask for me, say thou to him, "He is gone with his wife to the Holy House of God [at Mecca]."' Then he sold some of his effects and bought mules and camels and slaves. Moreover, he bought a slave-girl and placing her in a litter, set out from Bassora after ten days. His friends took leave of him and none doubted but that he had taken his wife and gone on the pilgrimage, and the folk rejoiced in this, for that God had delivered them from being shut up in the mosques and houses every Friday. Quoth some of them, 'God grant he may never return to Bassora, so we may no more be shut up in the mosques and houses every Friday!' For that this usage had caused the people of Bassora exceeding vexation. Quoth another, 'Methinks he will not return, by reason of the praying of the people of Bassora against him.' And yet another, ' If he return, it will not be but in reversed case.'
So the folk rejoiced with an exceeding joy in the jeweller's departure, after they had been in sore chagrin, and even their cats and dogs were eased. When Friday came round, however, the crier proclaimed as usual that the people should repair to the mosques two hours before the time of prayer or else shut themselves up in their houses, together with their cats and dogs; whereat their breasts were straitened and they all assembled and betaking themselves to the king's divan, stood before him and said, 'O king of the age, the jeweller hath taken his wife and departed on the pilgrimage to the Holy House of God: so the cause of our restraint hath ceased to be, and why therefore are we now shut up?' Quoth the king, 'How came this traitor to depart without telling me? But, when he comes back from his journey, all will be well: so go ye to your shops and sell and buy, for this [restriction] is removed from you.'
Meanwhile the jeweller fared on ten days' journey, and as he drew near Baghdad, there befell him that which had befallen Kemerezzeman, before his entry into Bassora; for the wild Arabs came out upon him and stripped him and took all he had and he only escaped by feigning himself dead. As soon as they were gone, he rose and fared on, naked as he was, till he came to a village, where God inclined to him the hearts of certain charitable folk, who covered his nakedness with some old clothes, and he begged his way from town to town, till he reached the city of Cairo the [God-]guarded. Being racked with hunger, he went about begging in the markets, till one of the townsfolk said to him, 'O poor man, get thee to the house of the wedding-festival and eat and drink; for to-day they hold open house for poor folk and strangers.' Quoth he, me and I will show it to thee.' So he followed him, till he brought him to Abdurrehman's house and said to him, 'This is the house of the wedding; enter and fear not, for there is no doorkeeper at the door of the festival.'
So he entered and Kemerezzeman knew him and told his father, who said, 'O my son, leave him awhile: belike he is hungry; so let him eat his fill and recover himself, and after we will look to him.' So they waited till Ubeid had eaten his fill and washed his hands and drunk coffee and sherbets of sugar flavoured with musk and ambergris and was about to go out, when Abdurrehman sent one after him, who said to him, 'Come, O stranger, and speak with the merchant Abdurrehman.' 'Who is he?' asked Ubeid; and the man said, 'He is the master of the feast.' So the jeweller turned back, thinking that he meant to give him largesse, and coming up to Abdurrehman, saw his friend Kemerezzeman and was like to lose his senses for shame before him. But Kemerezzeman rose to him and embracing him, saluted him and they both wept sore. Then he seated him by his side and Abdurrehman said to his son, 'Lack-courtesy that thou art, this is no way to receive friends! Send him first to the bath and send after him a suit of clothes that shall befit him; and after sit with him and talk with him.' So he called some of his men and bade them carry the jeweller to the bath and sent him a suit of clothes of the choicest, worth a thousand dinars. Accordingly they carried him to the bath, where they washed his body and clad him in a suit, and he became as he were Provost of the Merchants.
Meanwhile, the bystanders questioned Kemerezzeman of him, saying, 'Who is this and whence knowest thou him?' Quoth he, 'This is my friend, who lodged me in his house and to whom I am indebted for favours without number, for that he entreated me with exceeding kindness. He is a man of fortune and condition and by trade a jeweller, in which craft he hath no equal. The king of Bassora loves him greatly and holds him in high esteem and his word is law with him.' And he went on to enlarge to them on his praises, saying, 'He did with me thus and thus and I have shame of him and know not how to requite him his generous dealing with me.' Nor did he leave to vaunt him, till his worth was magnified to the bystanders and he became venerable in their eyes. So they said, 'We will all do him homage and honour him for thy sake. But we would fain know why he hath departed his native land and come hither and what God hath done with him, that he is come to this plight.' 'O folk,' replied Kemerezzeman, 'marvel not: for a son of Adam is still subject to Fate and destiny, and what while he abideth in this world, he is not safe from calamities. Indeed, he speaks truly who says:Time still devours mankind and lies in wait on them to prey: So be not thou of those whom rank and honours lead astray;
Know that I entered Bassora in yet sorrier plight and worse distress than this man, for that he entered Cairo with his nakedness covered with rags; but I came into his town, with my nakedness uncovered, one hand before and another behind; and none availed me but God and this excellent man. Now the reason of this was that the Bedouins stripped me and took my camels and mules and baggage and slew my men; but I lay down among the slain, and they thought that I was dead and went away and left me. Then I arose and walked on, naked, till I came to Bassora, where this man met me and clothed me and lodged me in his house. Moreover, he furnished me with money, and all I have brought back with me I owe to God's goodness and his. When I departed, he gave me great store of wealth and I returned home, with a heart at ease. I left him in luck and lordship, and belike there hath befallen him some calamity of the calamities of fortune, that hath enforced him leave his folk and country, and there hath happened to him by the way the like of what happened to me. There is nothing extraordinary in this; but now it behoveth me to requite him his generous dealing with me and do according to the saying of him who saith:Thou that of Fortune deemest hopefully, Dost thou thee know what she will do with thee?
As they were talking, up came Ubeid, as he were Provost of the Merchants; whereupon they all rose to salute him and seated him in the place of honour. Then said Kemerezzeman to him, 'O my friend, verily, thy day is blessed and fortunate! There is no need to relate to me a thing that befell me before thee. If the Bedouins have stripped thee and robbed thee of thy wealth, verily our money is the ransom of our lives; so let not thy soul be troubled; for I entered thy city naked and thou clothedst me and entreatedst me generously, and I owe thee many a kindness. But I will requite thee and do with thee even as thou didst with me, nay, more: so be of good heart and cheerful eye.' And he went on to soothe him and hinder him from speech, lest he should name his wife and what she had done with him; nor did he cease to ply him with saws and moral instances and verses and conceits and stories and anecdotes and console him, till he took the hint and kept silence concerning the past, diverting himself with the stories and witticisms ho heard and repeating [in himself] the following lines:On Fortune's forehead is a script, which if on careful wise Thou ponder, very tears of blood 'twill draw from out thine eyes.
Then Kemerezzeman and his father took Ubeid and carrying him into the saloon of the harem, shut themselves up with him; and Abdurrehman said to him, 'We did but hinder thee from speaking before the folk, for fear of dishonour to thee and to us: but now we are private; so tell me all that hath passed between thee and thy wife and my son.' So he told him all, from beginning to end, and when he had made an end of his story, Abdurrehman said to him, 'Was the fault with my son or with thy wife?' 'By Allah,' answered Ubeid, 'thy son was not to blame, for men [naturally] lust after women, and it behoveth Women to defend themselves from men. So the fault lies with my wife, who played me false and did with me these things.'
Then Abdurrehman arose and taking his son aside, said to him, 'O my son, we have proved his wife and know her to be a traitress; and now I mean to prove him and see if he be a man of worth and honour or a wittol.' 'How so?' asked Kemerezzeman; and Abdurrehman said, 'I mean to urge him to make peace with his wife and if he consent and forgive her, I will smite him with a sword and kill him and kill her after, her and her maid, for there is no good in the life of a whore and a wittol; but, if he turn from her with aversion, I will marry him to thy sister and give him more than that thou tookest from him of wealth'
Then he went back to Ubeid and said to him, 'O master, verily, the commerce of women calls for patience and he who loves them hath need of longanimity, for that they order themselves ill towards men and maltreat them, by reason of their superiority over them in beauty and grace, wherefore they magnify themselves and belittle men. Especially is this the case when their husbands show them affection; for then they requite them with pride and coquetry and foul dealing of all kinds. But, if a man be wroth whenever he seeth in his wife aught that misliketh him, there can be no fellowship between them, nor can any hit it off with them who is not magnanimous and long-suffering; and except a man bear with his wife and requite her ill-doing with forgiveness, he shall get no good of her society. Indeed, it hath been said of women, "Were they in the sky, the necks of men would incline to them;" and he who hath the power and spareth, his reward is with God.
Now this woman is thy wife and thy companion and she hath long companied with thee; wherefore it behoveth that there be in thee indulgence for her, for that indulgence in fellowship is of the essentials of success. Moreover, women lack wit and religion, and if she have done ill, she repenteth and God willing, she will not again return to that which she did aforetime. So it is my counsel that thou make peace with her and I will restore thee more than thy good [that thou hast lost]; and if it please thee to abide with me, thou art welcome, thou and she, and ye shall know nought but what shall rejoice you both; but, if thou seek to return to thine own country, I will give thee what shall content thee, and yonder is the litter ready; so mount thy wife and her maid therein and journey to shine own land. For that which falls out between a man and his wife is manifold, and it behoves thee to be indulgent and not take the road of rigour.'
'O my lord,' said the jeweller, 'and where is my wife? ' She is in yonder upper chamber,' answered Abdurrehman ' Go up to her and be easy with her, for my sake, and trouble her not; for, when my son brought her hither, he would have married her, but I forbade him from her and shut her up in yonder chamber, saying in myself, "Peradventure her husband will come and I will deliver her to him; for she is fair of favour, and when a woman is like unto this one, it may not be that her husband will let her go." What I counted on is come about and praised be God the Most High for thy reunion with thy wife! As for my son, I have sought him another woman in marriage and married him to her. These feasts and rejoicings are for his wedding, and to-night I bring him in to his wife. So here is the key of the chamber where thy wife is. Take it and open the door and go in to her and her maid and make merry with her. There shall be brought you meat and drink and thou shalt not come down from her till thou have had thy fill of her.' 'May God requite thee for me with all good, O my lord!' exclaimed Ubeid and taking the key, went up, rejoicing.
The merchant thought his words had pleased him and that he assented thereto; so he took the sword and following him, unseen, stood to see what should happen between him and his wife. When the jeweller came to the chamber-door, he heard his wife weeping sore for that Kemerezzeman had married another than her, and the maid saying to her, 'O my lady, how often have I warned thee and said to thee, "Thou wilt get no good of this youth: so do thou leave his company." But thou heededst not my words and spoiledst thy husband of all his goods and gavest them to him. Then thou forsookest thy place, of thine infatuation for him, and camest with him to this country. And now he hath cast thee out from his thought and married another and hath made the issue of thine infatuation for him to be imprisonment.' 'Be silent, O accursed wench!' answered Helimeh. 'Though he be married to another, yet needs must I occur to his thought some day. I cannot forget [the nights I have spent in] his company and in any case I console myself with the saying of the poet:O lords, cloth it betide you to give a thought to one Unto whose thought none other occurs save you alone?
It cannot be but he will bethink him of our loves and ask of me; wherefore I will not turn from loving him nor change from passion for him, though I die in prison, for he is my love and my physician, and my hope is in him that he will yet return to me and deal graciously with me.'
When the jeweller heard his wife's words, he went in to her and said to her, " O traitress, thy hope in him is as the hope of Iblis in Paradise. All these vices were in thee and I knew not thereof; for, had I been ware of one of them, I had not kept thee with me an hour. But now I am certified of this in thee, it behoveth me to kill thee, though they put me to death for thee, O traitress!' And he seized her with both hands and repeated the following verses:O fair ones, ye fordid my love so warm and true With sin nor had regard for what was right and due.
Then he pressed upon her windpipe and broke her neck, whereupon her maid cried out, saying, 'Alas, my mistress!' 'O harlot,' said he, 'it is thou who art to blame for all this, for that thou knewest this vice to be in her and toldest me not.' Then he seized upon her and strangled her.
When he had done this, apprehensions flocked upon him and he feared the issue of his affair and said in himself, 'When the merchant knows that I have killed them in his house, he will surely slay me; but I beseech God that He appoint the taking of my life to be according to the Law.' And he abode bewildered about his case and knew not what to do; but, as he was thus, in came Abdurrehman, who had stood all this while, sword in hand, without the door, looking with his eyes and hearkening with his ears, and said to him, '[Fear not:] no harm shall befall thee, for indeed thou deservest safety. See this sword in my hand. I had it in mind to slay thee, hadst thou made peace with her and taken her back into favour, and I would have slain [her and] the maid, to boot. But, since thou hast done this thing, welcome to thee and again welcome! And thy reward shall be that I will marry thee to my daughter, Kemerezzeman's sister.' Then he carried him down and sent for the woman whose office it was to wash the dead: whereupon it was noised abroad that Kemerezzeman had brought with him two slave-girls from Bassora and that they were both dead. So the people began to condole with him, saying, 'May thy head live!' and, 'May God compensate thee!' And they washed and shrouded them and buried them, and none knew the truth of the matter.
Then Abdurrehman sent for the Sheikh el Islam and all the notables and said to the former, 'Draw up the contract of marriage between my daughter Kaukeb es Sebah and Master Ubeid the jeweller and [set down that] her dowry hath been paid me in full.' So he drew up the contract and Abdurrehman gave the company to drink of sherbets, and they made one wedding festival for the two brides and paraded them in one litter on one and the same night; after which they carried Kemerezzeman and Ubeid in procession together and brought them in to their brides. When the jeweller went in to Abdurrehman's daughter, he found her handsomer than Helimeh and lovelier a thousandfold. So he did away her maidenhead and on the morrow, he went to the bath with Kemerezzeman.
Then he abode with them in pleasance and delight awhile, till he began to yearn after his native land: so he went in to Abdurrehman and said to him, 'O uncle, I long for my own country, for I have there estates and effects, which I left in charge of one of my journeymen; and I have it in mind to journey thither, that I may sell my possessions and return to thee. So wilt thou give me leave to go to my country to that end?' 'O my son,' answered the merchant, 'I give thee leave to do this, and no blame to thee for these words, for that love of country is a part of religion; and he who hath not good in his own land hath none in other folks' land. But, peradventure, if thou depart without thy wife, when thou art once come to thy native place, it may seem good to thee to abide there, and thou wilt be divided between returning to thy wife and sojourning in thine own country; so it were the better counsel that thou carry thy wife with thee; and after, if thou be minded to return to us, return and welcome to you both; for we are folk who know not divorce and no woman of us marries twice, nor do we lightly discard a man.' Quoth Ubeid, 'O uncle, I fear me thy daughter will not consent to depart with me to my own country.' 'O my son,' replied Abdurrehman, 'we have no women amongst us who gainsay their husbands nor know we a wife who is wroth with her husband.'
'May God bless you and your women!' exclaimed the jeweller and going in to his wife, said to her, 'I am minded to go to my country: what sayst thou?' Quoth she, 'My father still had the governance of me, whilst I was a maid, and when I married, the governance all passed into my husband's hand, nor will I gainsay him.'
'May God bless thee and thy father,' rejoined Ubeid, 'and have mercy on the womb that bore thee and the loins that begat thee!' Then he cut his thongs and betook himself to making ready for his journey. His father-in- law gave him much substance and they took leave of one another, after which Ubeid and his wife journeyed on without ceasing, till they reached Bassora, where his friends and kinsmen came out to meet him, doubting not but that he had been in the Hejaz. Some rejoiced at his return, whilst other some were vexed, and the folk said one to another, 'Now will he straiten us again every Friday, as before, and we shall be shut up in the mosques and houses, even to our cats and dogs.'
When the King of Bassora heard of his return, he was wroth with him and sending for him, chid him and said to him, 'Why didst thou depart, without letting me know? Was I unable to give thee somewhat wherewith thou mightest have succoured thyself in thy pilgrimage to the Holy House of God?' 'Pardon, O my lord!' replied the jeweller. 'By Allah, I went not on the pilgrimage! But there have befallen me such and such things.' And he told him all that had befallen him with his wife and with the merchant Abdurrehman of Cairo and how the latter had given him his daughter to wife and he had brought her to Bassora. 'By Allah,' said the king, 'did I not fear God the Most High, I would slay thee and marry this noble lady after thy death, though I spent treasuries of money on her, for that she befitteth none but kings. But God hath appointed her of thy portion and may He bless thee in her! So look thou use her well' Then he bestowed largesse on the jeweller, who went out from before him and abode with his wife five years, after which he was admitted to the mercy of God the Most High.
The king sought his widow in marriage; but she refused, saying, ' O king, never was woman among my kindred who married again after her husband's death; wherefore I will never take another husband, nor will I marry thee, no, though thou kill me.' Then he sent to say to her, 'Dost thou seek to go to thy native land?' And she answered, ' If thou do good, thou shalt be requited therewith.' So he collected for her all the jeweller's possessions and added unto her of his own, after the measure of his rank Moreover he sent with her one of his viziers, a man renowned for goodness and piety, and an escort of five hundred horse, who journeyed with her, till they brought her to her father, with whom she abode, without marrying again, till she died and they died all. So, if this woman would not consent to replace her dead husband with a Sultan, how shall she be evened with one who replaced her husband, whilst he was yet alive, with a youth of unknown extraction and condition, more by token that this was in lewdness and not by way of lawful marriage? So he who deemeth all women to be alike, there is no remedy for the disease of his madness. And glory be to Him to whom belongeth the empire of the Seen and the Unseen, the [Ever-]Living One, who dieth not!
[Go to Abdallah Ben Fazil and His Brothers]
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