Supplemental Nights, Volume 2
Richard F. Burton

Part 1 out of 8

This etext was scanned by JC Byers
( and proofread by
Lynn Bornath, JC Byers, Diane Doerfler, Peggy Klein, P.J.
LaBrocca, Robert Sinton, and Mats Wernersson.

To The Book Of The Thousand
And One Nights With Notes
Anthropological And

Richard F. Burton

Privately Printed By The Burton Club

To Henry Irving, Esq.

My Dear Irving,

To a consummate artist like yourself I need hardly suggest
that The Nights still offers many a virgin mine to the
Playwright; and I inscribe this volume to you, not only in
admiration of your genius but in the hope that you will find
means of exploiting the hidden wealth which awaits only your
"Open Sesame!"

Every yours sincerely,
Richard F. Burton.

London, August 1, 1886.

Contents of the Twelfth Volume.

13. Al-Malik Al-Zahir Rukn Al-Din Bibars Al-Bundukdari and the
Sixteen Captains of Police
a. First Constable's History
b. Second Constable's History
c. Third Constable's History
d. Fourth Constable's History
e. Fifth Constable's History
f. Sixth Constable's History
g. Seventh Constable's History
h. Eighth Constable's History
ha. The Thief's Tale
i. Ninth Constable's History
j. Tenth Constable's History
k. Eleventh Constable's History
l. Twelfth Constable's History
m. Thirteenth Constable's History
n. Fourteenth Constable's History
na. A Merry Jest of a Clever Thief
nb. Tale of the Old Sharper
o. Fifteenth Constable's History
p. Sixteenth Constable's History
14. Tale of Harun Al-Rashid and Abdullah Bin Nafi'
a. Tale of the Damsel Torfat Al-Kulub and the Caliph Harun
15. Women's Wiles
16. Nur Al-Din Ali of Damascus and the Damsel Sitt Al-Milah
17. Tale of King Ins Bin Kays and His Daughter with the Son of
King Al-'abbas
18. Tale of the Two kings and the Wazir's Daughters
19. The Concubine and the Caliph
20. The Concubine of Al-Maamun

Appendix: Variants and Analogues of Some of the Tales in Vols. XI
and XII.
by W. A. Clouston

The Sleeper and the Waker
The Ten Wazirs; or the History of King Azadbakht and His Son
King Dadbin and His Wazirs
King Aylan Shah and Abu Tamman
King Sulayman Shah and His Niece
Firuz and His Wife
King Shah Bakht and His Wazir Al-Rahwan
On the Art of Enlarging Pearls
The Singer and the Druggist
The King Who Kenned the Quintessence of Things
The Prince Who Fell In Love With the Picture
The Fuller, His Wife, and the Trooper
The Simpleton Husband
The Three Men and our Lord Isa
The Melancholist and the Sharper
The Devout Woman accused of Lewdness
The Weaver Who Became A Leach By Order of His Wife
The King Who Lost Kingdom, Wife, and Wealth
Al-Malik Al-Zahir and the Sixteen Captains of Police
The Thief's Tale
The Ninth Constable's Story
The Fifteenth Constable's Story
The Damsel tohfat Al-Kulub
Womens Wiles
Nur Al-Din and the Damsel Sitt Al-Milah
King Ins Bin Kays and his Daughter

Additional Notes:
Firuz and His Wife
The Singer and the Druggist
The Fuller, His Wife, and the Trooper

Supplemental Nights

To The Book Of The

Thousand Nights And A Night


There was once in the climes[FN#2] of Egypt and the city of
Cairo, under the Turks, a king of the valiant kings and the
exceeding mighty Soldans, hight Al-Malik al-Záhir Rukn al-Din
Bibars al-Bundukdári,[FN#3] who was used to storm the Islamite
sconces and the strongholds of "The Shore"[FN#4] and the Nazarene
citadels. His Chief of Police in the capital of his kingdom, was
just to the folk, all of them; and Al-Malik al-Zahir delighted in
stories of the common sort and of that which men purposed in
thought; and he loved to see this with his own eyes and to hear
their sayings with his own ears. Now it fortuned that he heard
one night from a certain of his nocturnal reciters[FN#5] that
among women are those who are doughtier than the doughtiest men
and prower of prowess, and that among them are some who will
engage in fight singular with the sword and others who beguile
the quickest-witted of Walis and baffle them and bring down on
them all manner of miseries; wherefore said the Soldan, "I would
lief hear this of their legerdemain from one of those who have
had to do with it, so I may hearken unto him and cause him
discourse." And one of the story-tellers said, "O king, send for
the Chief of Police of this thy city." Now 'Alam al-Din[FN#6]
Sanjar was at that time Wali and he was a man of experience, in
affairs well versed; so the king sent for him and when he came
before him, he discovered to him that which was in his mind.
Quoth Sanjar, "I will do my endeavour for that which our lord
seeketh." Then he arose and returning to his house, summoned the
Captains of the watch and the Lieutenants of the ward and said to
them, "Know that I purpose to marry my son and make him a bridal
banquet, and I desire that ye assemble, all of you, in one place.
I also will be present, I and my company, and do ye relate that
which you have heard of rare occurrences and that which hath
betided you of experiences." And the Captains and Runners and
Agents of Police answered him, "'Tis well: Bismillah--in the name
of Allah! We will make thee see all this with thine own eyes and
hear it with thine own ears." Then the Chief of Police arose and
going up to Al-Malik al-Zahir, informed him that the assembly
would meet on such a day at his house; and the Soldan said, "'Tis
well," and gave him somewhat of coin for his spending-money. When
the appointed day came the Chief of Police set apart for his
officers and constables a saloon, which had latticed casements
ranged in order and giving upon the flower-garden, and Al-Malik
al-Zahir came to him, and he seated himself and the Soldan, in
the alcove. Then the tables were spread for them with food and
they ate: and when the bowl went round amongst them and their
souls were gladdened by meat and drink, they mutually related
that which was with them and, revealed their secrets from
concealment. The first to discourse was a man, a Captain of the
Watch, hight Mu'ín al-Din[FN#7] whose heart was wholly occupied
with the love of fair women; and he said, "Harkye, all ye people
of high degree, I will acquaint you with an extraordinary affair
which fortuned me aforetime." Then he began to tell

The First Constable's History.[FN#8]

Know ye that when I entered the service of this Emir,[FN#9] I had
a great repute and every low fellow and lewd feared me most of
all mankind, and when I rode through the city, each and every of
the folk would point at me with their fingers and sign at me with
their eyes. It happened one day, as I sat in the palace of the
Prefecture, back-propped against a wall, considering in myself,
suddenly there fell somewhat in my lap, and behold, it was a
purse sealed and tied. So I hent it in hand and lo! it had in it
an hundred dirhams,[FN#10] but I found not who threw it and I
said, "Lauded be the Lord, the King of the Kingdoms!"[FN#11]
Another day, as I sat in the same way, somewhat fell on me and
startled me, and lookye, 'twas a purse like the first: I took it
and hiding the matter, made as though I slept, albeit sleep was
not with me. One day as I thus shammed sleep, I suddenly sensed
in my lap a hand, and in it a purse of the finest; so I seized
the hand and behold, 'twas that of a fair woman. Quoth I to her,
"O my lady, who art thou?" and quoth she, "Rise and come away
from here, that I may make myself known to thee." Presently I
rose up and following her, walked on, without tarrying, till we
stopped at the door of a high-builded house, whereupon I asked
her, "O my lady, who art thou? Indeed, thou hast done me
kindness, and what is the reason of this?" She answered, "By
Allah, O Captain[FN#12] Mu'in, I am a woman on whom love and
longing are sore for desire of the daughter of the Kazi Amín
al-Hukm.[FN#13] Now there was between me and her what was and
fondness for her fell upon my heart and I agreed upon an
assignation with her, according to possibility and convenience;
but her father Amin al-Hukm took her and went away, and my heart
cleaveth to her and yearning and distraction waxed sore upon me
for her sake." I said to her, marvelling the while at her words,
"What wouldst thou have me do?" and said she, "O Captain Mu'in, I
would have thee lend me a helping hand." Quoth I, "Where am I and
where is the daughter of the Kazi Amin al-Hukm?"[FN#14] and quoth
she "Be assured that I would not have thee intrude upon the
Kazi's daughter, but I would fain work for the winning of my
wishes. This is my will and my want which may not be wroughten
save by thine aid." Then she added, "I mean this night to go with
heart enheartened and hire me bracelets and armlets and anklets
of price; then will I hie me and sit in the street wherein is the
house of Amin al-Hukm; and when 'tis the season of the round and
folk are asleep, do thou pass, thou and those who are with thee
of the men, and thou wilt see me sitting and on me fine raiment
and ornaments and wilt smell on me the odour of Ottars; whereupon
do thou question me of my case and I will say, 'I hail from the
Citadel and am of the daughters of the deputies[FN#15] and I came
down into the town for a purpose; but night overtook me all
unawares and the Zuwaylah Gate[FN#16] was shut against me and all
the other portals and I knew not whither I should wend this
night. Presently I saw this street and noting the goodly fashion
of its ordinance and its cleanliness, I sheltered me therein
against break of day.' When I speak these words to thee with
complete self-possession,[FN#17] the Chief of the watch will have
no ill suspicion of me, but will say, 'There's no help but that
we leave her with one who will take care of her till morning.'
Thereto do thou rejoin, ''Twere best that she night with Amin
al-Hukm and lie with his wives[FN#18] and children until dawn of
day.' Then straightway knock at the Kazi's door, and thus shall I
have secured admission into his house, without inconvenience, and
won my wish; and--the Peace!" I said to her, "By Allah, this is
an easy matter." So, when the night was blackest, we rose to make
our round, followed by men with girded swords, and went about the
ways and compassed the city, till we came to the street[FN#19]
where was the woman, and it was the middle of the night. Here we
smelt mighty rich scents and heard the clink of rings: so I said
to my comrades, "Methinks I espy a spectre;" and the Captain of
the watch cried, "See what it is." Accordingly, I undertook the
work and entering the thoroughfare presently came out again and
said, "I have found a fair woman and she telleth me that she is
from the Citadel and that dark night surprised her and she saw
this street and noting its cleanness and goodly fashion of
ordinance, knew that it belonged to a great man[FN#20] and that
needs must there be in it a guardian to keep watch over it, so
she sheltered her therein." Quoth the Captain of the watch to me,
"Take her and carry her to thy house;" but quoth I, "I seek
refuge with Allah![FN#21] My house is no strong box[FN#22] and on
this woman are trinkets and fine clothing. By Allah, we will not
deposit the lady save with Amin al-Hukm, in whose street she hath
been since the first starkening of the darkness; therefore do
thou leave her with him till the break of day." He rejoined, "Do
whatso thou willest." So I rapped at the Kazi's gate and out came
a black slave of his slaves, to whom said I, "O my lord, take
this woman and let her be with you till day shall dawn, for that
the lieutenant of the Emir Alam al-Din hath found her with
trinkets and fine apparel on her, sitting at the door of your
house, and we feared lest her responsibility be upon you;[FN#23]
wherefore I suggested 'twere meetest she night with you." So the
chattel opened and took her in with him. Now when the morning
morrowed, the first who presented himself before the Emir was the
Kazi Amin al-Hukm, leaning on two of his negro slaves; and he was
crying out and calling for aid and saying, "O Emir, crafty and
perfidious, yesternight thou depositedst with me a woman and
broughtest her into my house and home, and she arose in the dark
and took from me the monies of the little orphans my
wards,[FN#24] six great bags, each containing a thousand
dinars,[FN#25] and made off; but as for me, I will say no
syllable to thee except in the Soldan's presence."[FN#26] When
the Wali heard these words, he was troubled and rose and sat down
in his agitation; then he took the Judge and placing him by his
side, soothed him and exhorted him to patience, till he had made
an end of talk, when he turned to the officers and questioned
them of that. They fixed the affair on me and said, "We know
nothing of this matter but from Captain Mu'in al-Din." So the
Kazi turned to me and said, "Thou wast of accord to practice upon
me with this woman, for she said she came from the Citadel." As
for me, I stood, with my head bowed ground-wards, forgetting both
Sunnah and Farz,[FN#27] and remained sunk in thought, saying,
"How came I to be the dupe of that randy wench?" Then cried the
Emir to me, "What aileth thee that thou answerest not?" Thereupon
I replied, "O my lord, 'tis a custom among the folk that he who
hath a payment to make at a certain date is allowed three days'
grace: do thou have patience with me so long, and if, at the end
of that time, the culprit be not found, I will be responsible for
that which is lost." When the folk heard my speech they all
approved it as reasonable and the Wali turned to the Kazi and
sware to him that he would do his utmost to recover the stolen
monies adding, "And they shall be restored to thee." Then he went
away, whilst I mounted without stay or delay and began to-ing and
fro-ing about the world without purpose, and indeed I was become
the underling of a woman without honesty or honour; and I went my
rounds in this way all that my day and that my night, but
happened not upon tidings of her; and thus I did on the morrow.
On the third day I said to myself, "Thou art mad or silly;" for I
was wandering in quest of a woman who knew me[FN#28] and I knew
her not, she being veiled when I met her. Then I went round about
the third day till the hour of mid-afternoon prayer, and sore
waxed my cark and my care for I kenned that there remained to me
of my life but the morrow, when the Chief of Police would send
for me. However, as sundown-time came, I passed through one of
the main streets, and saw a woman at a window; her door was ajar
and she was clapping her hands and casting sidelong glances at
me, as who should say, "Come up by the door." So I went up,
without fear or suspicion, and when I entered, she rose and
clasped me to her breast. I marvelled at the matter and quoth she
to me, "I am she whom thou depositedst with Amin al-Hukm." Quoth
I to her, "O my sister, I have been going round and round in
request of thee, for indeed thou hast done a deed which will be
chronicled and hast cast me into red death[FN#29] on thine
account." She asked me, "Dost thou speak thus to me and thou a
captain of men?" and I answered, "How should I not be troubled,
seeing that I be in concern for an affair I turn over and over in
mind, more by token that I continue my day long going about
searching for thee and in the night I watch its stars and
planets?"[FN#30] Cried she, "Naught shall betide save weal, and
thou shalt get the better of him."[FN#31] So saying, she rose and
going to a chest, drew out therefrom six bags full of gold and
said to me, "This is what I took from Amin al-Hukm's house. So an
thou wilt, restore it; else the whole is lawfully[FN#32] thine;
and if thou desire other than this, thou shalt obtain it; for I
have monies in plenty and I had no design herein save to marry
thee." Then she arose and opening other chests, brought out
therefrom wealth galore and I said to her, "O my sister, I have
no wish for all this, nor do I want aught except to be quit of
that wherein I am." Quoth she, "I came not forth of the Kazi's
house without preparing for thine acquittance." Then said she to
me, "When the morrow shall morn and Amin al-Hukm shall come to
thee bear with him till he have made an end of his speech, and
when he is silent, return him no reply; and if the Wali ask,
'What aileth thee that thou answerest me not?' do thou rejoin, 'O
lord and master[FN#33] know that the two words are not alike, but
there is no helper for the conquered one[FN#34] save Allah
Almighty.' The Kazi will cry, 'What is the meaning of thy saying,
The two words are not alike?' And do thou retort, 'I deposited
with thee a damsel from the palace of the Sultan, and most likely
some enemy of hers in thy household hath transgressed against her
or she hath been secretly murdered. Verily, there were on her
raiment and ornaments worth a thousand ducats, and hadst thou put
to the question those who are with thee of slaves and
slave-girls, needs must thou have litten on some traces of the
crime.' When he heareth this from thee, his trouble will redouble
and he will be amated and will make oath that thou hast no help
for it but to go with him to his house: however, do thou say,
'That will I not do, for I am the party aggrieved, more
especially because I am under suspicion with thee.' If he
redouble in calling on Allah's aid and conjure thee by the oath
of divorce saying, 'Thou must assuredly come,' do thou reply, 'By
Allah, I will not go, unless the Chief also go with me.' Then, as
soon as thou comest to the house, begin by searching the
terrace-roofs; then rummage the closets and cabinets; and if thou
find naught, humble thyself before the Kazi and be abject and
feign thyself subjected, and after stand at the door and look as
if thou soughtest a place wherein to make water,[FN#35] because
there is a dark corner there. Then come forward, with heart
harder than syenite-stone, and lay hold upon a jar of the jars
and raise it from its place. Thou wilt find there under it a
mantilla-skirt; bring it out publicly and call the Wali in a loud
voice, before those who are present. Then open it and thou wilt
find it full of blood, exceeding for freshness, and therein a
woman's walking-boots and a pair of petticoat-trousers and
somewhat of linen." When I heard from her these words, I rose to
go out and she said to me, "Take these hundred sequins, so they
may succour thee; and such is my guest-gift to thee." Accordingly
I took them and leaving her door ajar returned to my lodging.
Next morning, up came the Judge, with his face like the
ox-eye,[FN#36] and asked, "In the name of Allah, where is my
debtor and where is my property?" Then he wept and cried out and
said to the Wali, "Where is that ill-omened fellow, who aboundeth
in robbery and villainy?" Thereupon the Chief turned to me and
said, "Why dost thou not answer the Kazi?" and I replied, "O
Emir, the two heads[FN#37] are not equal, and I, I have no
helper;[FN#38] but, an the right be on my side 'twill appear." At
this the Judge grew hotter of temper and cried out, "Woe to thee,
O ill-omened wight! How wilt thou make manifest that the right is
on thy side?" I replied "O our lord the Kazi, I deposited with
thee and in thy charge a woman whom we found at thy door, and on
her raiment and ornaments of price. Now she is gone, even as
yesterday is gone;[FN#39] and after this thou turnest upon us and
suest me for six thousand gold pieces. By Allah, this is none
other than a mighty great wrong, and assuredly some foe[FN#40] of
hers in thy household hath transgressed against her!" With this
the Judge's wrath redoubled and he swore by the most solemn of
oaths that I should go with him and search his house. I replied,
"By Allah I will not go, unless the Wali go with us; for, an he
be present, he and the officers, thou wilt not dare to work thy
wicked will upon me." So the Kazi rose and swore an oath, saying,
"By the truth of Him who created mankind, we will not go but with
the Emir!" Accordingly we repaired to the Judge's house,
accompanied by the Chief, and going up, searched it through, but
found naught; whereat fear fell upon me and the Wali turned to me
and said, "Fie upon thee, O ill-omened fellow! thou hast put us
to shame before the men." All this, and I wept and went round
about right and left, with the tears running down my face, till
we were about to go forth and drew near the door of the house. I
looked at the place which the woman had mentioned and asked,
"What is yonder dark place I see?" Then said I to the men, "Pull
up[FN#41] this jar with me." They did my bidding and I saw
somewhat appearing under the jar and said, "Rummage and look at
what is under it." So they searched, and behold, they came upon a
woman's mantilla and petticoat-trousers full of blood, which when
I espied, I fell down in a fainting-fit. Now when the Wali saw
this, he said, "By Allah, the Captain is excused!" Then my
comrades came round about me and sprinkled water on my face till
I recovered, when I arose and accosting the Kazi (who was covered
with confusion), said to him, "Thou seest that suspicion is
fallen on thee, and indeed this affair is no light matter,
because this woman's family will assuredly not sit down quietly
under her loss." Therewith the Kazi's heart quaked and fluttered
for that he knew the suspicion had reverted upon him, wherefore
his colour yellowed and his limbs smote together; and he paid of
his own money, after the measure of that he had lost, so we would
quench that fire for him.[FN#42] Then we departed from him in
peace, whilst I said within myself, "Indeed, the woman falsed me
not." After that I tarried till three days had passed, when I
went to the Hammam and changing my clothes, betook myself to her
home, but found the door shut and covered with dust. So I asked
the neighbours of her and they answered, "This house hath been
empty of habitants these many days; but three days agone there
came a woman with an ass, and at supper-time last night she took
her gear and went away." Hereat I turned back, bewildered in my
wit, and for many a day after I inquired of the dwellers in that
street concerning her, but could happen on no tidings of her. And
indeed I wondered at the eloquence of her tongue and the
readiness of her talk; and this is the most admirable of all I
have seen and of whatso hath betided me. When Al-Malik al-Zahir
heard the tale of Mu'in al-Din, he marvelled thereat. Then rose
another constable and said, "O lord, hear what befel me in bygone

The Second Constable's History.

I was once an overseer in the household of the Emir Jamál al-Din
al-Atwash al-Mujhidi, who was made governor of the two provinces,
Sharkíyah and Gharbíyah,[FN#43] and I was dear to his heart and
he hid from me naught of whatso he desired to do; and he was eke
master of his reason.[FN#44] It came to pass one day of the days
that it was reported to him how the daughter of Such-an-one had a
mint of monies and raiment and ornaments and at that present she
loved a Jewish man, whom every day she invited to be private with
her, and they passed the light hours eating and drinking in
company and he lay the night with her. The Wali feigned not to
believe a word of this story, but he summoned the watchmen of the
quarter one night and questioned them of this tittle-tattle.
Quoth one of them, "As for me, O my lord, I saw none save a
Jew[FN#45] enter the street in question one night; but I have not
made certain to whom he went in;" and quoth the Chief, "Keep
thine eye on him from this time forward and note what place he
entereth." So the watchman went out and kept his eye on the
Judaean. One day as the Prefect sat in his house, the watchman
came in to him and said, "O my lord, in very sooth the Jew goeth
to the house of Such-an-one." Whereupon Al-Atwash sprang to his
feet and went forth alone, taking with him none save
myself."[FN#46] As he went along, he said to me, "Indeed, this
girl is a fat piece of meat."[FN#47] And we gave not over going
till we came to the door of the house and stood there until a
hand-maid came out, as if to buy them something wanted. We waited
till she opened the door, whereupon, without question or answer,
we forced our way into the house and rushed in upon the girl,
whom we found seated with the Jew in a saloon with four daïses,
and cooking-pots and candles therein. When her eyes fell on the
Wali, she knew him and rising to her feet, said, "Well come and
welcome and fair cheer! By Allah, great honour hath betided me by
my lord's visit and indeed thou dignifiest my dwelling." Hereat
she carried him up to the dais and seating him on the couch,
brought him meat and wine and gave him to drink; after which she
put off all that was upon her of raiment and ornaments and tying
them up in a kerchief, said to him, "O my lord, this is thy
portion, all of it." Then she turned to the Jew and said to him,
"Rise, thou also, and do even as I:" so he arose in haste and
went out very hardly crediting his deliverance.[FN#48] When the
girl was assured of his escape, she put out her hand to her
clothes and jewels and taking them, said to the Chief, "O Emir,
is the requital of kindness other than kindness? Thou hast
deigned to visit me and eat of my bread and salt; so now arise
and depart from us without ill-doing; or I will give a single
outcry and all who are in the street will come forth." So the
Emir went out from her, without having gotten a single dirham;
and on this wise she delivered the Jew by the seemliness of her
stratagem. The company admired this tale, and as for the Wali and
Al-Malik al-Zahir, they said, "Ever devised any the like of this
device?" and they marvelled with the utterest of marvel. Then
arose a third constable and said, "Hear what betided me, for it
is yet stranger and rarer."

The Third Constable's History.

I was one day abroad on business with certain of my comrades;
and, as we walked along behold, we fell in with a company of
women, as they were moons, and among them one, the tallest of
them and the handsomest. When I saw her and she saw me, she
lagged behind her companions and waited for me till I came up to
her and bespake her. Quoth she, "O my lord (Allah favour thee!) I
saw thee prolong thy looking on me and I fancied that thou
knewest me. An it be thus, let me learn more of thee." Quoth I,
"By Allah, I know thee not, save that the Most High Lord hath
cast the love of thee into my heart and the goodliness of thy
qualities hath confounded me; and that wherewith the Almighty
hath gifted thee of those eyes that shoot with shafts hath
captivated me." And she rejoined, "By Allah, indeed I feel the
like of that which thou feelest; ay, and even more; so that
meseemeth I have known thee from childhood." Then said I, "A man
cannot well effect all whereof he hath need in the
market-places." She asked me, "Hast thou a house?" and I
answered, "No, by Allah, nor is this city my dwelling-place."
Rejoined she, "By Allah, nor have I a place; but I will contrive
for thee." Then she went on before me and I followed her till she
came to a lodging-house[FN#49] and said to the Housekeeper, "Hast
thou an empty room?" The other replied, "Yes:"[FN#50] and my
mistress said, "Give us the key." So we took the key and going up
to see the room, entered to inspect it; after which she went out
to the Housekeeper and giving her a dirham, said to her "Take the
douceur of the key[FN#51] for the chamber pleaseth us, and here
is another dirham for thy trouble. Go, fetch us a gugglet of
water, so we may refresh ourselves and rest till siesta-time pass
and the heat decline, when the man will depart and bring our bag
and baggage." Therewith the Housekeeper rejoiced and brought us a
mat, two gugglets of water on a tray, a fan and a leather rug. We
abode thus till the setting-in of mid-afternoon, when she said,
"Needs must I make the Ghusl-ablution ere I fare."[FN#52] Said I,
"Get water wherewith we may both wash," and drew forth from my
pocket a score or so of dirhams, thinking to give them to her;
but she cried, "Refuge with Allah!" and brought out of her pocket
a handful of silver, saying, "But for destiny and that the
Almighty hath caused the love of thee fall into my heart, there
had not happened that which hath happened." Quoth I, "Accept this
in requital of that which thou hast spent;" and quoth she, "O my
lord, by and by, whenas mating is prolonged between us, thou wilt
see if the like of me looketh unto money and means or no." Then
the lady took a jar of water and going into the lavatory, made
the Ghusl-ablution[FN#53] and presently coming forth, prayed the
mid-afternoon prayer and craved pardon of Allah Almighty for the
sin into which she had fallen. Now I had asked her name and she
answered, "Rayhánah,"[FN#54] and described to me her
dwelling-place. When I saw her make the ablution, I said within
myself, "This woman doth on this wise, and shall I not do the
like of her doing?" Then quoth I to her, "Peradventure[FN#55]
thou wilt seek us another jar of water?" Accordingly she went out
to the Housekeeper and said to her, "O my sister, take this Nusf
and fetch us for it water wherewith we may wash the
flags."[FN#56] So the Housekeeper brought two jars of water and I
took one of them and giving her my clothes, entered the lavatory
and bathed. When I had made an end of bathing, I cried out,
saying, "Harkye, my lady Rayhanah!" However none answered me. So
I went out and found her not; but I did find that she had taken
my clothes and all that was in them of silver, to wit, four
hundred dirhams. She had also carried off my turband and my
kerchief and I lacked the wherewithal to veil my shame; so I
suffered somewhat than which death is less grievous and abode
looking about the place, hoping that haply I might espy a rag
wherewith to hide my nakedness. Then I sat a little and presently
going up to the door, smote upon it; whereat up came the
Housekeeper and I said to her, "O my sister, what hath Allah done
with the woman who was here?" She replied, "The lady came down
just now and said, 'I'm going to cover the boys with the
clothes,' adding, 'and I have left him sleeping; an he awake,
tell him not to stir till the clothes come to him.'" Then cried
I, "O my sister, secrets are safe with the fair-dealing and the
freeborn. By Allah, this woman is not my wife, nor ever in my
life have I seen her before this day!" And I recounted to her the
whole affair and begged of her to cover me, informing her that my
private parts were clean unconcealed. She laughed and cried out
to the women of the lodging-house, saying, "Ho, Fátimah! Ho,
Khadíjah! Ho, Harífah! Ho, Sanínah!" Whereupon all those who were
in the place of women and neighbours flocked to me and fell
a-mocking me and saying, "O pimp,[FN#57] what hadst thou to do
with gallantry?" Then one of them came and looked in my face and
laughed, and another said, "By Allah, thou mightest have known
that she lied, from the time she said she liked thee and was in
love with thee! What is there in thee to love?" A third said,
"This is an old man without wisdom;" and all vied one with other
in exercising their wits upon me, I suffering mighty sore
chagrin. However, one of the women took compassion on me after a
while, and brought me a rag of thin stuff and cast it on me. With
this I covered my shame, and no more, and abode awhile thus: then
said I in myself, "The husbands of these women will presently
gather together upon me and I shall be disgraced." So I went out
by another door of the lodging-house, and young and old crowded
about me, running after me and crying, "A madman! A
madman![FN#58] till I came to my house and knocked at the door;
whereupon out came my wife and seeing me naked, tall, bare of
head, cried out and ran in again, saying, "This is a maniac, a
Satan!" But, when my family and spouse knew me, they rejoiced and
said to me, "What aileth thee?" I told them that thieves had
taken my clothes and stripped me and had been like to slay me;
and when I assured them that the rogues would have slaughtered
me, they praised Allah Almighty and gave me joy of my safety. So
consider the craft this woman practised upon me, and I pretending
to cleverness and wiliness. Those present marvelled at this story
and at the doings of women; then came forward a fourth constable
and said, "Now that which hath betided me of strange adventures
is yet stranger than this, and ‘twas after the following

The Fourth Constable's History.

We were sleeping one night on the terrace-roof, when a woman made
her way through the darkness into the house and, gathering into a
bundle all that was therein, took it up that she might go away
with it. Now she was big with child and nigh upon her time of
delivery; so, when she packed up the bundle and prepared to
shoulder it and make off with it, she hastened the coming of the
labour-pangs and bare a child in the dark. Then she sought for
the fire-sticks and when they burned, kindled the lamp and went
round about the house with the little one, and it was weeping.
The wail awoke us, as we lay on the roof, and we marvelled. So we
rose to see what was to do, and looking down through the opening
of the saloon,[FN#59] saw a woman, who had lit the lamp, and
heard the little one crying. As we were peering, she heard our
words and raising her head to us, said, "Are ye not ashamed to
deal thus with us and bare our shame? Wist ye not that the day
belongeth to you and the night to us? Begone from us! By Allah,
were it not that ye have been my neighbours these many years, I
would assuredly[FN#60] bring down the house upon you!" We doubted
not but that she was of the Jinn and drew back our heads; but,
when we rose on the morrow, we found that she had taken all that
was with us and made off with it;[FN#61] wherefore we knew that
she was a thief and had practised on us a device, such as was
never before practised; and we repented, whenas repentance
availed us naught. The company, hearing this tale, marvelled
thereat with the utmost marvelling. Then the fifth constable, who
was the lieutenant of the bench,[FN#62] came forward and said,
"This is no wonder and there befel me a story which is rarer and
stranger than this."

The Fifth Constable's History.

As I sat one day at the door of the Prefecture, behold, a woman
suddenly entered and said as though consulting me. "O my lord, I
am the wife of Such-an-one the Leach, and with him is a company
of the notables[FN#63] of the city, drinking fermented drinks in
such a place." When I heard this, I misliked to make a scandal;
so I bluffed her off and sent her away unsatisfied. Then I rose
and walked alone to the place in question and sat without till
the door opened, when I rushed in and entering, found the company
even as the woman aforesaid had set out, and she herself with
them. I saluted them and they returned my salam and rising,
treated me with honour and seated me and served me with meat.
Then I informed them how one had denounced them to me, but I had
driven him away and had come to them by myself; so they thanked
me and praising me for my kindness, brought out to me from among
them two thousand dirhams[FN#64] and I took them and went away.
Now two months after this adventure, there came to me one of the
Kazi's officers, with a paper, wherein was the judge's writ,
summoning me to him. So I accompanied the officer and went in to
the Kazi, whereupon the plaintiff, he who had taken out the
summons, sued me for two thousand dirhams, declaring I had
borrowed them of him as the agent or guardian of the woman. I
denied the debt, but he produced against me a bond for that sum,
attested by four of those who were in company on the occasion;
and they were present and bore witness to the loan. I reminded
them of my kindness and paid the amount, swearing that I would
never again follow a woman's counsel. Is not this marvellous? The
company admired the goodliness of his tale and it pleased
Al-Malik al-Zahir; and the Wali said, "By Allah, this is a
strange story!" Then came forward the sixth constable and said to
those present, "Hear my adventure and that which befel me, to
wit, that which befel Such-an-one the Assessor, for 'tis rarer
than this and finer."

The Sixth Constable's History.

A certain Assessor one day of the days was taken with a woman and
much people assembled before his house and the Lieutenant of
police and his posse came to him and rapped at the door. The
Assessor peered from house-top and seeing the folk, said, "What
do ye want?" Replied they, "Speak with the Lieutenant of police
Such-an-one." So he came down and as he opened the door they
cried to him, "Bring forth the woman who is with thee." "Are ye
not ashamed? How shall I bring forth my wife?" "Is she thy wife
by book[FN#65] or without marriage-lines?" "She is my wife
according to the Book of Allah and the Institutes of His
Apostle." "Where is the contract?" "Her lines are in her mother's
house." "Arise thou and come down and show us the writ." "Go from
her way, so she may come forth." Now, as soon as he got wind of
the matter, he had written the bond and fashioned it after the
fashion of his wife,[FN#66] to suit with the case, and he had
written therein the names of certain of his friends to serve as
witnesses and forged the signatures of the drawer and the wife's
next friend and made it a contract of marriage with his wife and
a legal deed.[FN#67] Accordingly, when the woman was about to go
out from him, he gave her the contract he had forged, and the
Emir sent with her a servant of his, to carry her home to her
father. So the servant went with her and when she was inside she
said to him, "I will not return to the citation of the Emir: but
let the Assessors present themselves and take my contract."
Hereupon the servant carried this message to the Lieutenant of
police, who was standing at the Assessor's door, and he said,
"This is permissible." Then said the Assessor to the servant,
"Fare, O eunuch, and fetch us Such-an-one the Notary;" for that
he was his friend and 'twas he whose name he had forged as the
drawer-up of the contract.[FN#68] So the Lieutenant sent after
him and fetched him to the Assessor, who, when he saw him, said
to him, "Get thee to Such-an-one, her with whom thou marriedst
me, and cry out upon her, and when she cometh to thee,[FN#69]
demand of her the contract and take it from her and bring it to
us." And he signed to him, as much as to say, "Bear me out in the
lie and screen me, for that she is a strange woman and I[FN#70]
am in fear of the Lieutenant who standeth at the door; and we
beseech Allah Almighty to screen us and you from the woes of this
world. Amen." So the Notary went up to the Lieutenant, who was
among the witnesses, and said, " 'Tis well. Is she not Such-an-
one whose marriage-contract we drew up in such a place?" Then he
betook himself to the woman's house and cried out upon her;
whereat she brought him the forged contract and he took it and
returned with it to the Lieutenant of police.[FN#71] When the
officer had taken cognizance of the document and professed
himself satisfied, the Assessor said to the Notary, "Go to our
lord and master, the Kazi of the Kazis, and acquaint him with
that which befalleth his Assessors." The Notary rose to go, but
the Lieutenant feared for himself and was urgent in beseeching
the Assessor and in kissing his hands till he forgave him;
whereupon the Lieutenant went away in the utmost concern and
affright. On such wise the Assessor ordered the case and carried
out the forgery and feigned marriage with the woman; and thus
escaped calumny and calamity by the seemliness of his
stratagem.[FN#72] The folk marvelled at this with the uttermost
marvel and the seventh constable said, "There befel me in
Alexandria the God-guarded a wondrous thing, and 'twas

The Seventh Constable's History.

There came one day an old woman to the stuff-bazar, with a casket
of mighty fine workmanship, containing trinkets, and she was
accompanied by a young baggage big with child. The crone sat down
at the shop of a draper and giving him to know that the girl was
pregnant by the Prefect[FN#74] of Police of the city, took of
him, on credit, stuffs to the value of a thousand diners and
deposited with him the casket as security. She opened the casket
and showed him that which was therein and he found it full of
trinkets of price; so he trusted her with the goods and she
farewelled him and carrying the stuffs to the girl who was with
her, went her way. Then the old woman was absent from him a great
while, and when her absence was prolonged, the draper despaired
of her; so he went up to the Prefect's house and asked anent the
woman of his household who had taken his stuffs on credit; but
could obtain no tidings of her nor happen on any trace of her.
Then he brought out the casket of jewellery and showed it to
experts, who told him that the trinkets were gilt and that their
worth was but an hundred dirhams. When he heard this, he was sore
concerned thereat and presenting himself before the Deputy of the
Sultan made his complaint to him; whereupon the official knew
that a sleight had been served upon him and that the sons of
Adam[FN#75] had cozened him and conquered him and cribbed his
stuffs. Now the magistrate in question was a man of experience
and judgment, well versed in affairs; so he said to the draper,
"Remove somewhat from thy shop, including the casket, and to-
morrow morning break the lock and cry out and come to me and
complain that they have plundered all thy shop.[FN#76] Also mind
thou call upon Allah for aid and wail aloud and acquaint the
people, so that a world of folk may flock to thee and sight the
breach of the lock and that which is missing from thy shop: and
on this wise display it to every one who presenteth himself that
the news may be noised abroad, and tell them that thy chief
concern is for a casket of great value, deposited with thee by a
great man of the town and that thou standest in fear of him. But
be thou not afraid and still say ever and anon in thy saying, 'My
casket was the casket of Such-an-one, and I fear him and dare not
bespeak him; but you, O company and all ye who are present, I
call you to witness of this for me.' And if there be with thee
more than this saying, say it; and the old woman will assuredly
come to thee." The draper answered with "To hear is to obey" and
going forth from the Deputy's presence, betook himself to his
shop and brought out thence the casket and a somewhat making a
great display, which he removed to his house. At break of day he
arose and going to his shop, broke the lock and shouted and
shrieked and called on Allah for aid, till each and every of the
folk assembled about him and all who were in the city were
present, whereupon he cried out to them, saying even as the
Prefect had bidden him; and this was bruited abroad. Then he made
for the Prefecture and presenting himself before the Chief of
Police, cried out and complained and made a show of distraction.
After three days, the old woman came to him and bringing him the
thousand diners, the price of the stuffs, de mended the
casket.[FN#77] When he saw her, he seized her and carried her to
the Prefect of the city; and when she came before the Kazi, he
said to her, "Woe to thee O Sataness; did not thy first deed
suffice thee, but thou must come a second time?" She replied, "I
am of those who seek their salvation[FN#78] in the cities, and we
foregather every month: and, yesterday we foregathered." He asked
her, "Canst thou cause me to catch them?" and she answered, "Yes;
but, an thou wait till to-morrow, they will have dispersed; so I
will deliver them to thee to-night." The Emir said to her, "Go;"
and said she, "Send with me one who shall go with me to them and
obey me in whatso I shall say to him, and all that I bid him he
shall not gainsay and therein conform to my way." Accordingly, he
gave her a company of men and she took them and bringing them to
a certain door, said to them, "Stand ye here, at this door, and
whoso cometh out to you seize him; and I will come out to you
last of all." "Hearing and obeying," answered they and stood at
the door, whilst the crone went in. They waited a whole hour,
even as the Sultan's deputy had bidden them, but none came out to
them and their standing waxed longsome, and when they were weary
of waiting, they went up to the door and smote upon it a heavy
blow and a violent, so that they came nigh to break the wooden
bolt. Then one of them entered and was absent a long while, but
found naught; so he returned to his comrades and said to them,
"This is the door of a dark passage, leading to such a
thoroughfare; and indeed she laughed at you and left you and went
away.''[FN#79] When they heard his words, they returned to the
Emir and acquainted him with the case, whereby he knew that the
old woman was a cunning craft-mistress and that she had mocked at
them and cozened them and put a cheat on them, to save herself.
Witness, then, the wiles of this woman and that which she
contrived of guile, for all her lack of foresight in presenting
herself a second time to the draper and not suspecting that his
conduct was but a sleight; yet, when she found herself hard upon
calamity, she straightway devised a device for her deliverance.
When the company heard the seventh constable's story, they were
moved to mirth galore, than which naught could be more; and
Al-Malik al Zahir Bíbars rejoiced in that which he heard and
said, "Verily, there betide things in this world wherefrom kings
are shut out, by reason of their exalted degree!" Then came
forward another person from amongst the company and said, "There
hath reached me through one of my friends a similar story bearing
on the malice of women and their wiles, and it is more wondrous
and marvellous, more diverting and more delectable than all that
hath been told to you." Quoth the company there present, "Tell us
thy tale and expound it unto us, so we may see that which it hath
of extraordinary." And he began to relate

The Eighth Constable's History.

Ye must know that a company, amongst whom was a friend of mine,
once invited me to an entertainment; so I went with him, and when
we came into his house and sat down on his couch, he said to me,
"This is a blessed day and a day of gladness, and who is he that
liveth to see the like of this day? I desire that thou practice
with us and disapprove not our proceedings, for that thou hast
been accustomed to fall in with those who offer this."[FN#80] I
consented thereto and their talk happened upon the like of this
subject.[FN#81] Presently, my friend, who had invited me, arose
from among them and said to them, Listen to me and I will
acquaint you with an adventure which happened to me. There was a
certain person who used to visit me in my shop, and I knew him
not nor he knew me, nor ever in his life had he seen me; but he
was wont, whenever he wanted a dirham or two, by way of loan, to
come to me and ask me, without acquaintance or introduction
between me and him, and I would give him what he required. I told
none of him, and matters abode thus between us a long while till
he began a-borrowing at a time ten or twenty dirhams, more or
less. One day, as I stood in my shop, behold, a woman suddenly
came up to me and stopped before me; and she was a presence as
she were the full moon rising from among the constellations, and
the place was a-light by her light. When I saw her, I fixed my
eyes on her and stared in her face; and she fell to bespeaking me
with soft voice. When I heard her words and the sweetness of her
speech, I lusted after her; and as soon as she saw that I longed
for her, she did her errand and promising me an assignation, went
away, leaving my thoughts occupied with her and fire a-flame in
my heart. Accordingly I abode, perplexed and pondering my affair,
the fire still burning in my heart, till the third day, when she
came again and I could hardly credit her coming. When I saw her,
I talked with her and cajoled her and courted her and craved her
favour with speech and invited her to my house; but, hearing all
this, she only answered, "I will not go up into any one's house."
Quoth I, "I will go with thee" and quoth she, "Arise and come
with me." So I rose and putting into my sleeve a kerchief,
wherein was a fair sum of silver and a considerable, followed the
woman, who forwent me and ceased not walking till she brought me
to a lane and to a door, which she bade me unlock. I refused and
she opened it and led me into the vestibule. As soon as I had
entered, she bolted the entrance door from within and said to me,
"Sit here till I go in to the slave-girls and cause them enter a
place whence they shall not see me." "'Tis well," answered I and
sat down: whereupon she entered and was absent from me an
eye-twinkling, after which she returned to me, without a veil,
and straightway said, "Arise and enter in the name of Allah." So
I arose and went in after her and we gave not over going till we
reached a saloon. When I examined the place, I found it neither
handsome nor pleasant, but desolate and dreadful without symmetry
or cleanliness; indeed, it was loathsome to look upon and there
was in it a foul smell. After this inspection I seated myself
amiddlemost the saloon, misdoubting; and lo and behold! as I sat,
there came down on me from the dais a body of seven naked men,
without other clothing than leather belts about their waists. One
of them walked up to me and took my turband, whilst another
seized my kerchief that was in my sleeve, with my money, and a
third stripped me of my clothes; after which a forth came and
bound my hands behind my back with his belt. Then they all took
me up, pinioned as I was, and casting me down, fell a-haling me
towards a sink-hole that was there and were about to cut my
throat, when suddenly there came a violent knocking at the door.
As they heard the raps, they were afraid and their minds were
diverted from me by affright; so the woman went out and presently
returning, said to them, "Fear not; no harm shall betide you this
day. 'Tis only your comrade who hath brought you your dinner."
With this the new-comer entered, bringing with him a roasted
lamb; and when he came in to them, he asked, "What is to do with
you, that ye have tucked up sleeves and bag-trousers?" Replied
they, "This is a head of game we've caught." As he heard these
words, he came up to me and peering in my face, cried out and
said, "By Allah, this is my brother, the son of my mother and
father! Allah! Allah!" Then he loosed me from my pinion-bonds and
bussed my head, and behold it was my friend who used to borrow
silver of me. When I kissed his head, he kissed mine and said, "O
my brother, be not affrighted;" and he called for my clothes and
coin and restored all to me nor was aught missing. Also, he
brought me a porcelain bowl full of sherbet of sugar, with lemons
therein, and gave me to drink; and the company came and seated me
at a table. So I ate with them and he said to me, "O my lord and
my brother, now have bread and salt passed between us and thou
hast discovered our secret and our case; but secrets with the
noble are safe." I replied, 'As I am a lawfully-begotten child
and a well-born, I will not name aught of this nor denounce you!"
They assured themselves of me by an oath; then they brought me
out and I went my way, very hardly crediting but that I was of
the dead. I lay ill in my house a whole month; after which I went
to the Hammam and coming out, opened my shop and sat selling and
buying as was my wont, but saw no more of that man or that woman
till, one day, there stopped before my shop a young
Turkoman,[FN#82] as he were the full moon; and he was a
sheep-merchant and had with him a leathern bag, wherein was
money, the price of sheep he had sold. He was followed by the
woman, and when he stopped over against my shop, she stood by his
side and cajoled him, and indeed he inclined to her with great
inclination. As for me, I was dying of solicitude for him and
began casting furtive glances at him and winked at him, till he
chanced to look round and saw me signing to him; whereupon the
woman gazed at me and made a signal with her hand and went away.
The Turkoman followed her and I deemed him dead without a doubt;
wherefore I feared with exceeding fear and shut my shop. Then I
journeyed for a year's space and returning, opened my shop;
whereupon, behold, the woman as she walked by came up to me and
said, "This is none other than a great absence." I replied, "I
have been on a journey;" and she asked, "Why didst thou wink at
the Turkoman?" I answered, "Allah forfend! I did not wink at
him." Quoth she, "Beware lest thou thwart me;" and went away.
Awhile after this a familiar of mine invited me to his house and
when I came to him, we ate and drank and chatted. Then he asked
me, "O my friend, hath there befallen thee aught of sore trouble
in the length of thy life?" Answered I, "Tell me first, hath
there befallen thee aught?" He rejoined, "Know that one day I
espied a fair woman; so I followed her and sued her to come home
with me. Quoth she, 'I will not enter any one's house but my own;
so come thou to my home, an thou wilt, and be it on such a day.'
Accordingly, on the appointed day, her messenger[FN#83] came to
me, proposing to carry me to her; and when he announced his
purpose I arose and went with him, till we arrived at a goodly
house and a great door. He opened the door and I entered,
whereupon he bolted it behind me and would have gone in; but I
feared with exceeding fear and foregoing him to the second door,
whereby he would have had me enter, bolted it and cried out at
him, saying, 'By Allah, an thou open not to me, I will slay
thee;[FN#84] for I am none of those whom thou canst readily
cozen!' 'What deemest thou of cozening?' 'Verily, I am startled
by the loneliness of the house and the lack of any keeper at its
door; for I see none appear.' 'O my lord, this is a private
door.' 'Private or public, open to me.' So he opened to me and I
went out and had gone but a little way from the door when I met a
woman, who said to me, 'A long life was fore-ordained to thee;
else hadst thou never come forth of yonder house.' I asked, 'How
so?' and she answered, 'Enquire of thy friend Such-an-one,'
(naming thee), 'and he will acquaint thee with strange things.'
So, Allah upon thee, O my friend, tell me what befel thee of
wondrous and marvellous, for I have told thee what befel me." "O
my brother, I am bound by a solemn oath." "O my friend, false
thine oath and tell me."[FN#85] "Indeed, I dread the issue of
this." But he urged me till I told him all, whereat he marvelled.
Then I went away from him and abode a long while, without further
news. One day, I met another of my friends who said to me, "A
neighbour of mine hath invited me to hear singers" but I
said:--"I will not foregather with any one." However, he
prevailed upon me; so we repaired to the place and found there a
person, who came to meet us and said, "Bismillah!"[FN#86] Then he
pulled out a key and opened the door, whereupon we entered and he
locked the door after us. Quoth I, "We are the first of the folk;
but where be the singers' voices?" He replied, "They're within
the house: this is but a private door; so be not amazed at the
absence of the folk." My friend said to me, "Behold, we are two,
and what can they dare to do with us?" Then he brought us into
the house, and when we entered the saloon, we found it desolate
exceedingly and dreadful of aspect. Quoth my friend, "We are
fallen into a trap; but there is no Majesty and there is no Might
save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!" And quoth I, "May God
never requite thee for me with good!"[FN#87] Then we sat down on
the edge of the dais and suddenly I espied a closet beside me; so
I peered into it and my friend asked me, "What seest thou?" I
answered, "I see there wealth in store and corpses of murdered
men galore. Look." So he looked and cried, "By Allah, we are down
among the dead!" and we fell a-weeping, I and he. As we were
thus, behold, four men came in upon us, by the door at which we
had entered, and they were naked, wearing only leather belts
about their waists, and made for my friend. He ran at them and
dealing one of them a blow with his swordpommel, knocked him
down, whereupon the other three rushed upon him. I seized the
opportunity to escape while they were occupied with him, and
espying a door by my side, slipped into it and found myself in an
underground room, without issue, even a window. So I made sure of
death, and said, "There is no Majesty and there is no Might save
in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!" Then I looked at the top of
the vault and saw in it a range of glazed and coloured
lunettes;[FN#88] so I clambered up for dear life, till I reached
the lunettes, and I out of my wits for fear. I made shift to
remove the glass and scrambling out through the setting, found
behind them a wall which I bestrode. Thence I saw folk walking in
the street; so I cast myself down on the ground and Allah
Almighty preserved me, and when I reached the face of earth,
unhurt, the folk flocked round me and I acquainted them with my
adventure. Now as Destiny decreed, the Chief of Police was
passing through the market-street; so the people told him what
was to do and he made for the door and bade raise it off its
hinges. We entered with a rush and found the thieves, as they had
thrown my friend down and cut his throat; for they occupied not
themselves with me, but said, "Whither shall yonder fellow wend?
Verily, he is in our grasp." So the Wali hent them with the
hand[FN#89] and questioned them of their case, and they confessed
against the woman and against their associates in Cairo. Then he
took them and went forth, after he had locked up the house and
sealed it; and I accompanied him till he came without the first
house. He found the door bolted from within; so he bade raise it
and we entered and found another door. This also he caused pull
up, enjoining his men to silence till the doors should be lifted,
and we entered and found the band occupied with new game, whom
the woman had just brought in and whose throat they were about to
cut. The Chief released the man and gave him back whatso the
thieves had taken from him; and he laid hands on the woman and
the rest and took forth of the house a mint of money, with which
they found the purse of the Turkoman sheep-merchant. They at once
nailed up the thieves against the house-wall, whilst, as for the
woman, they wrapped her in one of her mantillas and nailing her
to a board, set her upon a camel and went round about the town
with her. Thus Allah razed their dwelling-places and did away
from me that which I feared from them. All this befel, whilst I
looked on, and I saw not my friend who had saved me from them the
first time, whereat I wondered to the utterest of wonderment.
However, some days afterward, he came up to me, and indeed he had
renounced the world and donned a Fakir's dress; and he saluted me
and went away.[FN#90] Then he again began to pay me frequent
visits and I entered into conversation with him and questioned
him of the band and how he came to escape, he alone of them all.
He replied "I left them from the day on which Allah the Most High
delivered thee from them, for that they would not obey my say; so
I sware I would no longer consort with them." Quoth I, "By Allah,
I marvel at thee, for that assuredly thou wast the cause of my
preservation!" Quoth he, "The world is full of this sort; and we
beseech the Almighty to send us safety, for that these wretches
practice upon men with every kind of malpractice." Then I said to
him, "Tell me the rarest adventure of all that befel thee in this
villainy thou wast wont to work." And he answered, "O my brother,
I was not present when they did such deeds, for that my part with
them was to concern myself with selling and buying and feeding
them; but it hath reached me that the rarest thing which befel
them was on this wise."

The Thief's Tale.

The woman who acted decoy for them and trapped their game and
used to inveigle damsels from marriage-banquets, once caught them
a woman from a bride-feast, under pretence that she had a wedding
in her own house, and fixed for her a day when she should come to
her. As soon as the appointed time arrived, the woman presented
herself and the other carried her into the house by a door,
declaring that it was a private wicket. When she entered the
saloon, she saw men and braves[FN#91] and knew that she had
fallen into a snare; so she looked at them and said, "Harkye, my
fine fellows![FN#92] I am a woman and in my slaughter there is no
glory, nor have ye against me any feud of blood-wite wherefor ye
should pursue me; and that which is upon me of raiment and
ornaments ye are free to take as lawful loot." Quoth they, "We
fear thy denunciation;" but quoth she, "I will abide with you,
neither coming in nor going out." So they said, "We grant thee
thy life." Then the Captain looked on her and she pleased him; so
he took her for himself, and she abode with him a whole year
doing her very best in their service, till they became familiar
with her and felt assured of her faith. One night of the nights
she plied them with drink and they drank till they became
drunken; whereupon she arose and took her clothes and five
hundred dinars from the Captain; after which she fetched a razor
and shaved off all their beards. Then she took soot from the
cooking-pots and blackening their faces[FN#93] opened the doors
and fared forth; and when the thieves recovered from their drink,
they abode confounded and knew that the woman had practiced upon
them. All present marvelled at this his story and the ninth
constable came forward and said, "I will tell you a right
pleasant tale I heard at a wedding."

The Ninth Constable's History.

A certain singing-girl was fair of favour and bruited of repute,
and it happened one day that she fared forth to a garden
a-pleasuring. As she sat in the summer-house, behold, a man
lopped of the hand stopped to beg of her, and suddenly entered in
at the door. Then he touched her with his stump, saying, "An
alms, for the love of Allah!"[FN#94] but she answered, "Allah
open!" and insulted him. Many days after this, there came to her
a messenger and gave her the hire of her going forth.[FN#95] So
she took with her a hand-maid and an accompanyist;[FN#96] and
when she came to the place appointed, the messenger brought her
into a long passage, at the end whereof was a saloon. "So" (quoth
she) "we entered therein and found nobody, but we saw the room
made ready for an entertainment with candles, dried fruits and
wine, and in another place we saw food and in a third beds.
Thereupon we sat down and I looked at him who had opened the door
to us, and behold he was lopped of the hand. I misliked this, and
when I sat a little longer, there entered a man, who filled the
candelabra in the saloon and lit the waxen candles; and behold,
he also was handlopped. Then flocked the folk and there entered
none except he were lopped of the hand, and indeed the house was
full of these companions.[FN#97] When the session was complete,
the host came in and the company rose to him and seated him in
the place of honour. Now he was none other than the man who had
fetched me, and he was clad in sumptuous clothes, but his hands
were in his sleeves, so that I knew not how it was with them.
They brought him food and he ate, he and the company; after which
they washed hands and the host began casting at me furtive
glances. Then they drank till they were drunken, and when they
had taken leave of their wits, the host turned to me and said,
'Thou dealtest not in friendly fashion with him who sought an
alms of thee, and thou saidst to him, "How loathsome art thou!"'´
I considered him and behold, he was the lophand who had accosted
me in my pleasance.[FN#98] So I asked, 'O my lord, what is this
thou sayest?' and he answered, 'Wait; thou shalt remember it.' So
saying, he shook his head and stroked his beard, whilst I sat
down for fear. Then he put out his hand to my mantilla and
walking-boots and laying them by his side, cried to me, 'Sing, O
accursed!' Accordingly, I sang till I was tired out, what while
they occupied themselves with their case and drank themselves
drunk and the heat of their drink redoubled. Presently, the
doorkeeper came to me and said, 'O my lady, fear not; but when
thou hast a mind to go, let me know.' Quoth I, 'Thinkest thou to
delude me?' and quoth he, 'Nay, by Allah! But I have ruth on thee
for that our Captain and Chief purposeth thee no good and
methinketh he will kill thee this night.' Said I to him, 'An thou
be minded to do me a favour, now is its time;' and said he, 'When
our Chief riseth to his need and goeth to the Chapel of Ease, I
will precede him with the light and leave the door open; and do
thou wend whithersoever thou wiliest.' Then I sang and the
Captain cried, ''Tis good.' Replied I, 'Nay, but thou'rt
loathsome.' He looked at me and rejoined, 'By Allah, thou shalt
never more scent the odour of the world!' But his comrades said
to him, 'Do it not,' and gentled him, till he added, 'An it must
be so, and there be no help for it, she shall tarry here a whole
year and not fare forth.' My answer was, 'I am content to submit
to whatso pleaseth thee: if I have failed in respect to thee,
thou art of the clement.' He shook his head and drank, then arose
and went out to do his need, whilst his comrades were occupied
with what they were about of merry-making and drunkenness and
sport. So I winked to my friends and we all slipped out into the
corridor. We found the door open and fled forth, unveiled[FN#99]
and unknowing whither we went; nor did we halt till we had fared
afar from the house and happened on a Cook cooking, of whom I
asked, 'Hast thou a mind to quicken the dead?' He said, 'Come
up;' so we went up into the shop, and he whispered, 'Lie down.'
Accordingly, we lay down and he covered us with the Halfah
grass,[FN#100] wherewith he was used to kindle the fire under the
food. Hardly had we settled ourselves in the place when we heard
a noise of kicking at the door and people running right and left
and questioning the Cook and asking, 'Hath any one passed by
thee?' Answered he, 'None hath passed by me.' But they ceased not
to go round about the shop till the day broke, when they turned
back, disappointed. Then the Cook removed the reeds and said to
us, 'Rise, for ye are delivered from death.' So we arose, and we
were uncovered, sans veil or mantilla; but the Cook carried us up
into his house and we sent to our homes and fetched us veils; and
we repented to Allah Almighty and renounced singing, for indeed
this was a mighty narrow escape after stress."[FN#101] Those
present marvelled at this, and the tenth constable came forward
and said, "As for me, there befel me that which was yet rarer
than all ye have yet heard." Quoth Al-Malik al-Zahir, "What was
that?" And quoth he, "Deign give ear to me."

The Tenth Constable's History.

A robbery of stuffs had been committed in the city and as it was
a great matter I was cited,[FN#102] I and my fellows:
they[FN#103] pressed hard upon us: but we obtained of them some
days' grace and dispersed in search of the stolen goods. As for
me, I sallied forth with five men and went round about the city
that day; and on the morrow we fared forth into the suburbs. When
we found ourselves a parasang or two parasangs away from the
city, we waxed athirst; and presently we came to a garden. There
I went in alone and going up to the waterwheel,[FN#104] entered
it and drank and made the Wuzu-ablution and prayed. Presently, up
came the keeper of the garden and said to me, "Woe to thee! Who
brought thee to this waterwheel?" and he smote me and squeezed my
ribs[FN#105] till I was like to die. Then he bound me with one of
his bulls and made me work the waterwheel, flogging me as I
walked round with a cattle-whip[FN#106] he had with him, till my
heart was a-fire; after which he loosed me and I went out,
knowing not the way. Now when I came forth, I fainted: so I sat
down till my trouble subsided; then I made for my comrades and
said to them, "'I have found money and malefactor, and I
affrighted him not neither troubled him, lest he should flee; but
now, come, let us go to him, so we may contrive to lay hold upon
him." Then I took them and we repaired to the keeper of the
garden, who had tortured me with tunding, with the intent to make
him taste the like of that which he had done with me and lie
against him and cause him eat many a stick. So we rushed to the
waterwheel and seized the keeper. Now there was with him a youth
and, as we were pinioning the gardener, he said, "By Allah, I was
not with him and indeed 'tis six months since I entered this
city, nor did I set eyes on the stuffs until they were brought
hither." Quoth we, "Show us the stuffs;" upon which he carried us
to a place wherein was a pit, beside the waterwheel, and digging
there, brought out the stolen goods with not a thread or a stitch
of them missing. So we took them and carried the keeper to the
Prefecture of Police where we stripped him and beat him with
palm-rods till he confessed to thefts manifold. Now I did this by
way of mockery against my comrades, and it succeeded. The company
marvelled at this story with the utmost marvelling, and the
eleventh constable rose and said, "I know a story yet stranger
than this: but it happened not to myself."

The Eleventh Constable's History.

There was once in times of yore a Chief Officer of Police and
there passed by him one day of the days a Jew, hending in hand a
basket wherein were five thousand dinars; whereupon quoth that
officer to one of his slaves, "Art able to take that money from
yonder Jew's basket?" "Yes," quoth he, nor did he tarry beyond
the next day ere he came to his lord, bringing the basket. "So"
(said the officer) "I bade him 'Go, bury it in such a place;'
whereupon he went and buried it and returned and told me. Hardly
had he reported this when there arose a clamour like that of
Doomsday and up came the Jew, with one of the King's officers,
declaring that the gold pieces belonged to the Sultan and that he
looked to none but us for it. We demanded of him three days'
delay, according to custom and I said to him who had taken the
money, 'Go and set in the Jew's house somewhat that shall occupy
him with himself.' Accordingly he went and played a mighty fine
trick, which was, he laid in a basket a dead woman's hand,
painted with henna and having a gold seal-ring on one of the
fingers, and buried that basket under a slab in the Jew's home.
Then we came and searched and found the basket, whereupon without
a moment of delay we clapped the Jew in irons for the murder of a
woman. As soon as it was the appointed time, there entered to us
the man of the Sultan's guards, who had accompanied the Jew, when
he came to complain of the loss of the money,[FN#107] and said,
'The Sultan sayeth to you, Nail up[FN#108] the Jew and bring the
money, for there is no way by which five thousand gold pieces can
be lost.' Wherefore we knew that our device did not suffice. So I
went forth and finding a young man, a Hauráni,[FN#109] passing
along the road, laid hands on him forthright and stripped him,
and whipped him with palm-rods. Then I threw him in jail, ironed,
and carrying him to the Prefecture, beat him again, saying to
them, 'This be the robber who stole the coin.' And we strove to
make him confess; but he would not. Accordingly, we beat him a
third and a fourth time, till we were aweary and exhausted and he
became unable to return a reply; but, when we had made an end of
beating and tormenting him, he said, 'I will fetch the money this
very moment.' Presently we went with him till he came to the
place where my slave had buried the gold and he dug there and
brought it out; whereat I marvelled with the utmost marvel and we
carried it to the Prefect's house. When the Wali saw the money
and made sure of it with his own eyes, he rejoiced with joy
exceeding and bestowed on me a robe of honour. Then he restored
the coin straightway to the Sultan and we left the youth in
durance vile; whilst I said to my slave who had taken the money,
'Say me, did yonder young man see thee, what time thou buriedst
the money?' and he replied, 'No, by Allah the Great!' So I went
in to the young man, the prisoner, and plied him with
wine[FN#110] till he recovered, when I said to him, 'Tell me how
thou stolest the money?' Answered he, 'By Allah, I stole it not,
nor did I ever set eyes on it till I brought it forth of the
earth!' Quoth I, 'How so?' and quoth he, 'Know that the cause of
my falling into your hands was my parent's imprecation against
me; because I entreated her evilly yesternight and beat her and
she said to me, 'By Allah, O my son, the Lord shall assuredly gar
the oppressor prevail over thee!' Now she is a pious woman. So I
went out forthright and thou sawest me on my way and didst that
which thou didst; and when beating was prolonged on me, my senses
failed me and I heard a voice saying to me, 'Fetch it.' So I said
to you what I said and the Speaker[FN#111] guided me till I came
to the place and there befel what befel of the bringing out of
the money.' I admired this with the utmost admiration and knew
that he was of the sons of the pious. So I bestirred myself for
his release and cured him and besought him of acquittance and
absolution of responsibility." All those who were present
marvelled at this story with the utmost marvel, and the twelfth
constable came forward and said, "I will tell you a pleasant
trait that I heard from a certain person, concerning an adventure
which befel him with one of the thieves.

The Twelfth Constable's History.

I was passing one day in the market, when I found that a robber
had broken into the shop of a shroff, a changer of monies, and
thence taken a casket, wherewith he had made off to the
burialground. Accordingly I followed him thither and came up to
him, as he opened the casket and fell a-looking into it;
whereupon I accosted him, saying, "Peace be on you!"[FN#112] And
he was startled at me; so I left him and went away from him. Some
months after this, I met him again under arrest, in the midst of
the guards and "men of violence,"[FN#113] and he said to them,
"Seize this man." So they laid hands on me and carried me to the
Chief of Police, who said, "What hast thou to do with this
wight?" The robber turned to me and looking a long while in my
face, asked, "Who took this man?" and the officer answered, "Thou
badest us take him; so we took him." And he cried, "I ask refuge
of Allah! I know not this man, nor knoweth he me; and I said not
that to you but of a person other than this." So they released
me, and a while after the thief met me in the street and saluted
me with the salam, saying, "O my lord, fright for fright! Hadst
thou taken aught from me, thou hadst a part in the
calamity."[FN#114] I replied to him, "Allah be the judge between
thee and me!"[FN#115] And this is what I have to recount. Then
came forward the thirteenth constable and said, "'I will tell you
a tale which a man of my friends told me."

The Thirteenth Constable's History.

I went out one night of the nights to the house of a friend and
when it was the middle of the night, I sallied forth alone to hie
me home. When I came into the road, I espied a sort of thieves
and they espied me, whereupon my spittle dried up; but I feigned
myself drunken and staggered from side to side, crying out and
saying, "I am drunken." And I went up to the walls right and left
and made as if I saw not the thieves, who followed me afoot till
I reached my home and knocked at the door, when they went away.
Some few days after this, as I stood at the door of my house,
behold, there came up to me a young man, with a chain about his
neck and with him a trooper, and he said to me, "O my lord, an
alms for the love of Allah!" I replied, "Allah open!" and he
looked at me a long while and cried, "That which thou shouldst
give me would not come to the worth of thy turband or thy
waistcloth or what not else of thy habit, to say nothing of the
gold and the silver which were about thy person." I asked, "And
how so?" and he answered, "On such a night, when thou fellest
into peril and the thieves would have stripped thee, I was with
them and said to them, Yonder man is my lord and my master who
reared me. So was I and only I the cause of thy deliverance and
thus I saved thee from them." When I heard this, I said to him,
"Stop ;" and entering my house, brought him that which Allah
Almighty made easy to me.[FN#116] So he went his way; and this is
all I have to say. Then came forward the fourteenth constable and
said, "Know that the tale I have to tell is rarer and pleasanter
than this; and 'tis as follows."

The Fourteenth Constable's History.

I had a draper's shop before I entered this corporation,[FN#117]
and there used to come to me a person whom I know not, save by
his face, and I would give him whatso he sought and have patience
with him, till he could pay me. One night, I foregathered with
certain of my friends and we sat down to liquor: so we drank and
were merry and played at Táb;[FN#118] and we made one of us Wazir
and another Sultan and a third Torchbearer or Headsman.[FN#119]
Presently, there came in upon us a spunger, without bidding, and
we went on playing, whilst he played with us. Then quoth the
Sultan to the Wazir, "Bring the Parasite who cometh in to the
folk, without leave or license, that we may enquire into his
case; after which I will cut off his head;" so the headsmen arose
and dragged the spunger before the Sultan who bade cut off his
head. Now there was with them a sword, that would not cut clotted
curd;[FN#120] so the headsmen smote him therewith and his head
flew from his body. When we saw this, the wine fled from our
brains and we became in the foulest of plights. Then my friends
lifted up the corpse and went out with it, that they might hide
it,whilst I took the head and made for the river. Now I was
drunken and my clothes were drenched with the blood; and as I
passed along the road, I met a robber. When he saw me, he knew me
and cried to me, "Such-an-one!" "Well?" said I, and he rejoined,
"What is that thou hast with thee?" So I acquainted him with the
case and he took the head from me. Then we fared on till we came
to the river, where he washed the head and considering it
straitly, exclaimed, "By Allah, verily this be my brother, the
son of my sire, and he used to spunge upon the folk;" after which
he threw that head into the river. As for me, I was like a dead
man for dread; but he said to me, "Fear not, neither do thou
grieve, for I acquit thee of my brother's blood." Presently, he
took my clothes and washed them and dried them and put them on
me; after which he said to me, "Get thee gone to thy house." So I
returned to my house and he accompanied me, till I came thither,
when he said to me, "Allah never desolate thee! I am thy friend
Such-an-one, who used to take of thee goods on credit, and I owe
thee a kindness; but henceforward thou wilt never see me more."
Then he went his ways. The company marvelled at the manliness of
this man and his clemency[FN#121] and courtesy, and the Sultan
said, "Tell us another of thy stories, O Shahrazad."[FN#122] She
replied, " 'Tis well! They set forth[FN#123]

A Merry Jest of a Clever Thief.

A thief of the thieves of the Arabs went one night to a certain
man's house, to steal from a heap of wheat there, and the people
of the house surprised him. Now on the heap was a great copper
tasse, and the thief buried himself in the corn and covered his
head with the tasse, so that the folk found him not and went
their ways; but as they were going, behold, there came a mighty
great fart[FN#124] forth of the corn. So they went up to the
tasse and raising it, discovered the thief and laid hands on him.
Quoth he, "I have saved you the trouble of seeking me: for I
purposed, in breaking wind, to direct you to my hiding place;
wherefore do you be easy with me and have ruth on me, so may
Allah have ruth on you!" Accordingly they let him go and harmed
him not. "And for another story of the same kind" (she
continued), "hearken to

The Tale of the Old Sharper.

There was once an old man renowned for clever roguery, and he
went, he and his mates, to one of the markets and stole thence a
quantity of stuffs: then they separated and returned each to his
quarter. Awhile after this, the old man assembled a company of
his fellows and, as they sat at drink, one of them pulled out a
costly piece of cloth and said, "Is there any one of you will
dare sell this in its own market whence it was stolen, that we
may confess his superior subtlety?" Quoth the old man, "I will;"
and they said, "Go, and Allah Almighty open to thee the door!" So
early on the morrow, he took the stuff and carrying it to the
market whence it had been stolen, sat down at the very shop out
of which it had been purloined and gave it to the broker, who
hent it in hand and cried it for sale. Its owner knew it and
bidding for it, bought it and sent after the Chief of Police, who
seized the Sharper and seeing him an old man of grave presence
and handsomely clad said to him, "Whence hadst thou this piece of
stuff?" Quoth he, "I had it from this market and from yonder shop
where I was sitting." Quoth the Wali, "Did its owner sell it to
thee?" and quoth the robber, "Not so; I stole it, this and other
than it." Then said the Chief, "How camest thou to bring it for
sale to the place whence thou stolest it?" "I will not tell my
tale save to the Sultan, for that I have a profitable counsel
wherewith I would fief bespeak him." "Name it!" "Art thou the
Sultan?" "No!" "I'll not tell it save to himself." Accordingly
the Wali carried him up to the Sultan and he said I have a
counsel for thee, O my lord." Asked the Sultan, "What is thy
counsel?" And the thief said, "I repent and will deliver into thy
hand all who are evildoers, and whomsoever I bring not, I will
stand in his stead." Cried the Sultan, "Give hum a robe of honour
and accept his profession of penitence." So he went down from the
presence and returning to his comrades, related to them that
which had passed, when they confessed his subtlety and gave him
that which they had promised him. Then he took the rest of the
booty and went up therewith to the Sultan, who, seeing him,
recognised him and he was magnified in the royal eyes and the
king commanded that naught should be taken from him. After this,
when he went down, the Sultan's attention was diverted from him,
little by little, till the case was forgotten, and so he saved
the booty for himself. Those present marvelled at this and the
fifteenth constable came forward and said, "Know that among those
who make a trade of trickery are those whom Allah Almighty taketh
on their own testimony against themselves." It was asked him,
"How so?" and he began to relate

The Fifteenth Constable's History.[FN#125]

It is told of a thieving person, one of the braves, that he used
to rob and cut the way by himself upon caravans, and whenever the
Chief of Police and the Governors sought him, he would flee from
them and fortify himself in the mountains. Now it came to pass
that a certain man journeyed along the road wherein was that
robber, and this man was single-handed and knew not the sore
perils besetting his way. So the highwayman came out upon him and
said to him, "Bring out that which is with thee, for I mean to
kill thee and no mistake. ' Quoth the traveller, "Kill me not,
but annex these saddle-bags and divide that which is in them and
take to thee the fourth part." And the thief answered, "I will
not take aught but the whole."[FN#126] Rejoined the traveller,
"Take half, and let me go;" but the robber replied, "I will have
naught but the whole, and eke I will kill thee." So the wayfarer
said, "Take it." Accordingly the highwayman took the saddle-bags
and offered to slay the traveller, who said, "What is this? Thou
hast against me no blood-feud that should make my slaughter
incumbent." Quoth the other, "Needs must I kill thee;" whereupon
the traveller dismounted from his horse and grovelled before him,
beseeching the thief and bespeaking him fair. The man hearkened
not to his prayers, but cast him to the ground; whereupon the
traveller raised his eyes and seeing a francolin dying over him,
said, in his agony, "O Francolin,[FN#127] bear testimony that
this man slayeth me unjustly and wickedly; for indeed I have
given him all that was with me and entreated him to let me go,
for my children's sake; yet would he not consent. But be thou
witness against him, for Allah is not unmindful of deeds which
the oppressors do." The highwayman paid no heed to what he heard,
but smote him and cut off his head. After this, the rulers
compounded with the highwayman for his submission, and when he
came before them, they enriched him and he became in such favour
with the lieutenant of the Sultan that he used to eat and drink
with him and there befel between them familiar converse which
lasted a long while till in fine there chanced a curious chance.
The lieutenant of the Sultan one day of the days made a banquet,
and therein was a roasted francolin, which when the robber saw,
he laughed a loud laugh. The lieutenant was angered against him
and said to him, "What is the meaning of thy laughter? Seest thou
any fault or dost thou mock at us, of thy lack of good manners?"
Answered the highwayman, "Not so, by Allah, O my lord; but I saw
yonder francolin, which brought to my mind an extraordinary
thing; and 'twas on this wise. In the days of my youth, I used to
cut the way, and one day I waylaid a man, who had with him a pair
of saddle-bags and money therein. So I said to him, 'Leave these
saddle-bags, for I mean to slay thee.' Quoth he, 'Take the fourth
part of that which is in them and leave me the rest;' and quoth
I, 'Needs must I take the whole and kill thee without mistake.'
Then said he, 'Take the saddle bags and let me wend my way;' but
I answered, 'There is no help but that I slay thee.' As we were
in this contention, behold, he saw a francolin and turning to it,
said, 'Bear testimony against him, O Francolin, that he slayeth
me unjustly and letteth me not go to my children, for all he hath
taken my money.' However, I had no pity on him neither hearkened
to that which he said, but smote him and slew him and concerned
not myself with the evidence of the francolin." His story
troubled the lieutenant of the Sultan and he was enraged against
him with sore rage; so he drew his sword and smiting him, cut off
his head while he sat at table; whereupon a voice recited these

"An wouldst not be injured, injure not; * But do good and from
Allah win goodly lot,
For what happeth by Allah is doomed to be * Yet shine acts are
the root I would love thee wot."[FN#128]

Now this voice was the francolin which bore witness against him.
The company present marvelled at this tale and all cried, "Woe to
the oppressor!" Then came forward the sixteenth constable and
said, "And I for another will tell you a marvellous story which
is on this wise."

The Sixteenth Constable's History.

I went forth one day of the days, intending to travel, and
suddenly fell upon a man whose wont it was to cut the way. When
he came up with me he offered to slay me and I said to him, "I
have naught with me whereby thou mayst profit." Quoth he, "My
profit shall be the taking of thy life." I asked, "What is the
cause of this? Hath there been enmity between us aforetime?" and
he answered, "Nay; but needs must I slay thee." Thereupon I ran
away from him to the river side; but he caught me up and casting
me to the ground, sat down on my breast. So I sought help of the
Shaykh of the Pilgrims[FN#129] and cried to him, "Protect me from
this oppressor!" And indeed he had drawn a knife to cut my throat
when, lo and behold! there came a mighty great crocodile forth of
the river and snatching him up from off my breast plunged into
the water, with him still hending knife in hand, even within the
jaws of the beast: whilst I abode extolling Almighty Allah, and
rendering thanks for my preservation to him who had delivered me
from the hand of that wrong-doer.[FN#130]


Know thou, O King of the Age, that there was in days of yore and
in ages and times long gone before, in the city of Baghdad the
Abode of Peace, a Caliph Harun al-Rashid highs, and he had cup-
companions and tale-tellers to entertain him by night. Among his
equerries was a man named Abdullah bin Náfi', who stood high in
favour with him and dear to him, so that he did not forget him a
single hour. Now it came to pass, by the decree of Destiny, that
it became manifest to Abdullah how he was grown of small account
with the Caliph, who paid no heed unto him nor, if he absented
himself, did he ask after him, as had been his habit. This was
grievous to Abdullah and he said within himself, "Verily, the
soul of the Commander of the Faithful and his Wazir are changed
towards me and nevermore shall I see in him that cordiality and
affection wherewith he was wont to treat me." And this was
chagrin-full to him and concern grew upon him, so that he recited
these couplets:--

"Whoso's contemned in his home and land * Should, to better his
case, in self-exile hie:
So fly the house where contempt awaits, * Nor on fires of grief
for the parting fry;
Crude Ambergris[FN#132] is but offal where * 'Tis born; but
abroad on our necks shall stye;
And Kohl at home is a kind of stone, * Cast on face of earth and
on roads to lie;
But when borne abroad it wins highest worth * And thrones between
eyelid and ball of eye."

(Quoth the sayer), Then he could brook this matter no longer; so
he went forth from the dominions of the Prince of True Believers,
under presence of visiting certain of his kith and kin, and took
with him nor servant nor comrade, neither acquainted any with his
intent, but betook himself to the road and fared deep into the
wold and the sandwastes, unknowing whither he went. After awhile,
he unexpectedly fell in with travellers who were making the land
of Hind and journeyed with them. When he came thither, he lighted
down in a city of that country and housed him in one of the
lodging-houses; and there he abode a while of days, relishing not
food neither solacing himself with sleep; nor was this for lack
of dirhams or diners, but for that his mind was occupied with
musing upon the shifts of Destiny and bemoaning himself for that
the revolving sphere had turned against him in enmity, and the
days had decreed unto him the disfavour of our lord the
Imam.[FN#133] After such fashion he abode a space of days, and
presently he homed him in the land and took to himself friends
and got him many familiars, with whom he addressed himself to
diversion and good cheer. He used also to go a-pleasuring with
his companions and their hearts were solaced by his company and
he entertained them every evening with stories and displays of
his manifold accomplishments[FN#134] and diverted them with
delectable verses and told them abundance of stories and
histories. Presently, the report of him reached King Jamhúr, lord
of Kashgar of Hind, who sent in quest of him, and great was his
desire to see him. So Abdullah repaired to his court and going in
to him, kissed ground before him; and Jamhur welcomed him and
treated him with kindness and bade lodge him in the guest-house,
where he abode three days, at the end of which the king sent to
him a chamberlain of his chamberlains and bade bring him to the
presence. When he came before him, he greeted him, and the
truchman accosted him, saying, "Verily, King Jamhur hath heard of
thy report, that thou art a pleasant cup-companion and an
eloquent teller of night tales, and he would have thee company
with him o'nights and entertain him with that which thou knowest
of histories and pleasant stories and verses." And he made
answer, ' To hear is to obey!" (Quoth Abdullah bin Nafi',) So I
became his boon-companion and entertained him by night with tales
and talk; and this pleased him with the utmost pleasure and he
took me into favour and bestowed on me robes of honour and set
apart for me a lodging; indeed he was bountiful exceedingly to me
and could not brook to be parted from me a single hour. So I
sojourned with him a while of time and every night I caroused and
conversed with him till the most part of the dark hours was past;
and when drowsiness overcame him, he would rise and betake
himself to his sleeping-place, saying to me, Forsake not my
service and forego not my presence.' And I made answer with
'Hearing and obeying.' Now the king had a son, a nice child,
called the Emir Mohammed, who was winsome of youth and sweet of
speech: he had read books and had perused histories and he loved
above all things in the world the telling and hearing of verses
and tales and anecdotes. He was dear to his father King Jamhur,
for that he owned no other son than he on life, and indeed he had
reared him in the lap of love and he was gifted with exceeding
beauty and loveliness, brilliancy and perfect grace: he had also
learnt to play upon the lute and upon all manner instruments and
he was used to converse and company with friends and brethren.
Now it was his wont when the king arose seeking his
sleeping-chamber, to sit in his place and require me to entertain
him with tales and verses and pleasant anecdotes; and on this
wise I abode with them both a great while in all joyance and
delight, and the Prince still loved me with mighty great love and
treated me with the utmost tenderness. It fortuned one day that
the king's son came to me, after his sire had withdrawn, and
cried, 'O Ibn Nafi'!' 'At thy service, O my lord;' 'I would have
thee tell me a wondrous story and a marvellous matter, which thou
hast never related either to me or to my father Jamhur.' 'O my
lord, what story is this that thou desires" of me and what kind
shall it be of the kinds?' 'It mattereth little, so it be a
goodly story, whether it befel of olden tide or in these times.'
'O my lord, I know by rote many stories of various kinds; so
which of the kinds preferrest thou, and wilt thou have a story of
mankind or of Jinn kind?' ' 'Tis well! An thou have espied aught
with shine eyes and heard it with thine ears, tell it me.' Then
he bethought himself and said to me, 'I conjure thee by my life,
tell me a tale of the tales of the Jinn and that which thou hast
heard of them and seen of them!' I replied, 'O my son, indeed
thou conjures" me by a mighty conjuration; so lend an ear to the
goodliest of stories, ay, and the strangest of them and the
pleasantest and rarest.' Quoth the Prince, 'Say on, for I am
attentive to thy speech;' and quoth I, 'Hear then, O my son,

The Tale of the Damsel Tohfat al-Kulub and the Caliph Harun al-

The Viceregent of the Lord of the three Worlds, Harun al-Rashid,
had a boon companion of the number of his boon-companions, by
name Ishak bin Ibrahim al-Nadim al-Mausili,[FN#135] who was the
most accomplished of the folk of his time in smiting upon the
lute; and of the Commander of the Faithful's love for him, he set
apart for him a palace of the choicest of his palaces, wherein he
was wont to instruct hand-maidens in the arts of singing and of
lute playing. If any slave-girl became, by his instruction,
clever in the craft, he carried her before the Caliph, who bade
her perform upon the lute; and if she pleased him, he would order
her to the Harim; else would he restore her to Ishak's palace.
One day, the Commander of the Faithful's breast was straitened;
so he sent after his Wazir Ja'afar the Barmecide and Ishak the
cup-companion and Masrur the eunuch, the Sworder of his
vengeance; and when they came, he changed his habit and disguised
himself, whilst Ja'afar and Ishak and Masrur and al-Fazl[FN#136]
and Yúnus[FN#137] (who were also present) did the like. Then he
went out, he and they, by the postern, to the Tigris and taking
boat fared on till they came to near Al Táf,[FN#138] when they
landed and walked till they came to the gate of the high street.
Here there met them an old man, handsome in his hoariness and of
a venerable bearing and a dignified, agreeable of aspect and
apparel. He kissed the earth before Ishak al-Mausili (for that he
knew only him of the company, the Caliph being disguised, and
deemed the others certain of his friends), and said to him, "O my
lord, there is presently with me a hand-maid, a lutanist, never
saw eyes the like of her nor the like of her grace, and indeed I
was on my way to pay my respects to thee and give thee to know of
her, but Allah, of His favour, hath spared me the trouble. So now
I desire to show her to thee, and if she take thy fancy, well and
good; otherwise I will sell her." Quoth Ishak, "Go before me to
thy quarters,[FN#139] till I come to thee and see her." The old
man kissed his hand and went away; whereupon quoth Al-Rashid to
him, "O Ishak, who is yonder man and what is his want?" The other
replied, "O my lord, this is a man Sa'íd the Slave-dealer hight,
and 'tis he that buyeth us maidens and Mamelukes. He declareth
that with him is a fair slave, a lutanist, whom he hath withheld
from sale, for that he could not fairly sell her till he had
passed her before me in review." Quoth the Caliph, "Let us go to
him so we may see her, by way of solace, and sight what is in the
slave-dealer's quarters of slave-girls;" and quoth Ishak,
"Command belongeth to Allah and to the Commander of the Faithful"
Then he forewent them and they followed in his track till they
came to the slave-dealer's quarters and found a building tall of
wall and large of lodgment, with sleeping cells and chambers
therein, after the number of the slave-girls, and folk sitting
upon the wooden benches. So Ishak entered, he and his company and
seating themselves in the place of honour, amused themselves by
looking at the hand-maids and Mamelukes and watching how they
were bought and sold, till the vending came to an end, when some
of the folk went away and some remained seated. Then cried the
slave-dealer, "Let none sit with us except whoso purchaseth by
the thousand diners and upwards." Accordingly those present
withdrew and there remained none but Al-Rashid and his suite;
whereupon the slave-dealer called the damsel, after he had caused
set her a chair of Fawwák,[FN#140] lined with Grecian brocade,
and she was like the sun shining high in the shimmering sky. When
she entered, she saluted and sitting down, took the lute and
smote upon it, after she had touched its strings and tuned it, so
that all present were amazed. Then she sang thereto these

"Breeze o' Morn, an thou breathe o'er the loved one's land, *
Deliver my greeting to all the dear band!
And declare to them still I am pledged to their love * And my
long~ng excels all that lover unmanned:
O ye who have blighted my heart, ears and eyes, * My passion and
ecstasy grow out of hand;
And torn is my sprite every night with desire, * And nothing of
sleep can my eyelids command."

Ishak exclaimed, "Brave, O damsel! By Allah, this is a fair
hour!" Whereupon she sprang up and kissed his hand, saying, 'O my
lord, in very sooth the hands stand still before thy presence and
the tongues at thy sight, and the eloquent when confronting thee
wax dumb; but thou art the looser of the veil."[FN#141] Then she
clung to him and cried, "Stand;" so he stood and said to her,
"Who art thou and what is thy need?" She raised a corner of the
veil, and behold she was a damsel as she were the full moon
rising or the levee glancing, with two side-locks of hair which
fell down to her anklets. She kissed his hand and said to him, "O
my lord, know that I have been in these quarters some five
months, during which I have withheld myself from sale till thou
shouldst be present and see me; and yonder slave-dealer also made
thy coming a pretext for not vending me, and forbade me for all I
sought of him night and day that he should cause thee come hither
and vouchsafe me thy company and gar me and thee forgather."
Quoth Ishak, "Tell me what thou wouldst have;" and quoth she, "I
beseech thee, by Allah Almighty, that thou buy me, so I may be
with thee by way of service." He asked, "Is that thy desire?" and
she answered, "Yes." So Ishak returned to the slave-dealer and
said to him, "Ho thou, Shaykh Sa'íd!" Said the old man, "At thy
service, O my lord," and Ishak continued, "In the corridor is a
chamber and therein wones a damsel pale and wan. What is her
price in dirhams and how much cost thou ask for her?" Quoth the
slave-dealer, "She whom thou mentionest, O my lord, is called
Tohfat al-Humaká?"[FN#142] Ishak asked, "What is the meaning of
Al-Humaka?" and the old man answered, "Her price hath been
weighed and paid an hundred times and she still saith, Show me
him who would buy me; and when I show her to him she saith, This
one I mislike; he hath in him such and such a default. And in
every one who would fain buy her she noteth some defect or other,
so that none careth now to purchase her and none seeketh her, for
fear lest she find some fault in him." Quoth Ishak, "She seeketh
at this present to sell herself; so go thou to her and inquire of
her and see her price and send her to the palace." Quoth Sa'id!"
"O my lord, her price is an hundred diners, though, were she free
of this paleness that is upon her face, she would be worth a
thousand gold pieces; but wanton folly and wanness have
diminished her value; and behold I will go to her and consult her
of this." So he betook himself to her and enquired of her, "Wilt
thou be sold to Ishak bin Ibrahim al-Mausili?" She replied,
"Yes," and he said, "Leave folly, for to whom cloth it happen to
be in the house of Ishak the cup-companion?"[FN#143] Thereupon
Ishak went forth the slave-dealer's quarters and overtook Al-
Rashid who had preceded him; and they ceased not walking till
they came to their landing-place, where they embarked in the boat
and fared on to Thaghr al-Khánakah.[FN#144] As for the slave-
dealer, he sent the damsel to the house of Ishak al-Nadim, whose
slave-girls took her and carried her to the Hammam. Then each
damsel gave her somewhat of her gear and they decked her with
earrings and bracelets, so that she redoubled in beauty and
became as she were the moon on the night of its full. When Ishak
returned home from the Caliph's palace, Tohfah rose to him and
kissed his hand; and he saw that which the hand-maids had done
with her and thanked them for so doing and said to them, "Let her
home in the house of instruction and bring her instruments of
music, and if she be apt at song teach her; and may Allah
Almighty vouchsafe her health and weal!" So there passed over her
three months, while she homed with him in the house of
instruction, and they brought her the instruments of music.
Furthermore, as time went on she was vouchsafed health and
soundness and her beauty waxed many times brighter than before
and her pallor was changed to white and red, so that she became a
seduction to all who saw her. One day, Ishak bade summon all who
were with him of slave-girls from the house of instruction and
carried them up to Al-Rashid's palace, leaving none in his house
save Tohfah and a cookmaid; for that he thought not of Tohfah,
nor did she come to his memory, and none of the damsels reminded
him of her. When she saw that the house was empty of the slave-
girls, she took the lute (now she was singular in her time for
smiting upon the lute, nor had she her like in the world, no, not
Ishak himself, nor any other) and sang thereto these couplets:--

"When soul desireth one that is its mate * It never winneth dear
desire of Fate:
My life for him whose tortures tare my frame, * And dealt me pine
he can alone abate!
He saith (that only he to heal mine ill, * Whose sight is
medicine to my doleful state),
'O scoffer-wight, how long wilt mock my woe * As though did Allah
nothing else create?' "

Now Ishak had returned to his house on an occasion that called
for him; and when he entered the vestibule, he heard a sound of
singing, the like whereof he had never heard in the world, for
that it was soft as the breeze and more strengthening than
oil[FN#145] of almonds. So the pleasure of it get hold of him and
delight so seized him, that he fell down fainting in the
vestibule. Tohfah heard the noise of footfalls and laying the
lute from her hand, went out to see what was the matter. She
found her lord Ishak lying aswoon in the entrance; so she took
him up and strained him to her bosom, saying, "I conjure thee in
Allah's name, O my lord, tell me, hath aught of ill befallen
thee?" When he heard her voice, he recovered from his fainting
and asked her, "Who art thou?" She answered, "I am thy slave-
girl, Tohfah;" and he said to her, "Art thou indeed Tohfah?"
"Yes," replied she; and he, "By Allah, I had indeed forgotten
thee and remembered thee not till this moment!" Then he looked at
her and said, "Verily, thy case is altered to other case and thy
wanness is changed to rosiness and thou hast redoubled in beauty
and loveliness. But was it thou who was singing just now?" She
was troubled and affrighted and answered, "Even I, O my lord;"
whereupon Ishak seized upon her hand and carrying her into the
house, said to her, "Take the lute and sing; for never saw I nor
heard thy like in smiting upon the lute; no, not even myself!"
Quoth she, "O my lord, thou mockest me. Who am I that thou
shouldst say all this to me? Indeed, this is but of thy
kindness." Quoth he, "Nay, by Allah, I said but the truth to thee
and I am not of those on whom presence imposeth For these three
months nature hath not moved thee to take the lute and sing
thereto, and this is naught save a rare thing and a strange. But
all this cometh of strength in the art and thy self-restraint."
Then he bade her sing; and she said, "Hearkening and obedience."
So she took the lute and tightening its strings to the sticking-
point, smote thereon a number of airs, so that she confounded
Ishak's wit and for delight he was like to fly. Then she returned
to the first mode and sang thereto these couplets:--

"By your ruined stead aye I stand and stay, * Nor shall change or
dwelling depart us tway!
No distance of homestead shall gar me forget * Your love, O
friends, but yearn alway:
Ne'er flies your phantom the babes of these eyne * You are moons
in Nighttide's murkest array:
And with growing passion mine unrest grows * And each morn I find
union dissolved in woes."

When she had made an end of her song and laid down the lute,
Ishak looked fixedly on her, then took her hand and offered to
kiss it; but she snatched it from him and said to him, "Allah, O
my lord, do not that!"[FN#146] Cried he, "Be silent. By Allah, I
had said that there was not in the world the like of me; but now
I have found my dinár in the art but a dánik,[FN#147] for thou
art more excellent of skill than I, beyond comparison or
approximation or calculation! This very day will I carry[FN#148]
thee up to the Commander of the Faithful, Harun al-Rashid, and
when his glance lighteth on thee, thou wilt become a Princess of
womankind. So Allah, Allah upon thee, O my lady, whenas thou
becomes" of the household of the Prince of True Believers, do not
thou forget me!" She replied, "Allah, O my lord, thou art the
root of my fortunes and in thee is my heart fortified." Thereat
he took her hand and made a covenant with her of this and she
swore to him that she would not forget him Then said he to her,
"By Allah, thou art the desire of the Commander of the Faithful!
Now take the lute and sing a song which thou shalt sing to the
Caliph, when thou goest in to him" So she took the lute and
tuning it, improvised these couplets:--

"His lover hath ruth on his woeful mood * And o'erwept him as


Back to Full Books