The Book Of The Thousand Nights And One Night, Volume III

Part 1 out of 7

Richard F. Burton in 16 volumes.


Now First Completely Done Into English
Prose and Verse, From The Original Arabic,

By John Payne
(Author of "The Masque of Shadows," "Intaglios: Sonnets," "Songs
of Life and Death,"
"Lautrec," "The Poems of Master Francis Villon of Paris," "New
Poems," Etc, Etc.).

In Nine Volumes:


Printed For Subscribers Only

Delhi Edition

Contents of The Third Volume.

1. The Birds and Beasts and the Son of Adam
2. The Hermits
3. The Water-Foul and the Tortoise
4. The Wolf and the Fox
a. The Hawk and the Partridge
5. The Mouse and the Weasel
6. The Cat and the Crow
7. The Fox and the Crow
a. The Mouse and the Flea
b. The Falcon and the Birds
c. The Sparrow and the Eagle
8. The Hedgehog and the Pigeons
a. The Merchant and the Two Sharpers
9. The Thief and his Monkey
a. The Foolish Weaver
10. The Sparrow and the Peacock
11. Ali Ben Bekkar and Shemsennehar
12. Kemeezzeman and Boudour
a. Nimeh Ben er Rebya and Num his Slave Girl
13. Alaeddin Abou Esh Shamat
14. Hatim et Yai: His Generosity After Death
15. Maan Ben Zaideh and the Three Girls
16. Maan Ben Zaideh and the Bedouin
17. The City of Lebtait
18. The Khalif Hisham and the Arab Youth
19. Ibrahim Ben el Mehdi and the Barber-surgeon
20. The City of Irem
21. Isaac of Mosul's Story of Khedijeh and the Khalif Mamoun
22. The Scavenger and the Noble Lady of Baghdad
23. The Mock Khalif
24. Ali the Persian and the Kurd Sharper


When Shehrzad had made an end of the history of King Omar teen
Ennuman and his sons, Shehriyar said to her, "I desire that thou
tell me some story about birds;" and Dunyazad, hearing this, said
to her sister, "All this while I have never seen the Sultan light
at heart till this night; and this gives me hope that the issue
may be a happy one for thee with him." Then drowsiness overcame
the Sultan; so he slept and Shehrzad, perceiving the approach of
day, was silent.

When it was the hundred and forty-sixth night, Shehrzad began as
follows: "I have heard tell, O august King, that


A peacock once abode with his mate on the sea-shore, in a place
that abounded in trees and streams, but was infested with lions
and all manner other wild beasts, and for fear of these latter,
the two birds were wont to roost by night upon a tree, going
forth by day in quest of food. They abode thus awhile, till,
their fear increasing on them, they cast about for some other
place wherein to dwell, and in the course of their search, they
happened on an island abounding in trees and streams. So they
alighted there and ate of its fruits and drank of its waters.
Whilst they were thus engaged, up came a duck, in a state of
great affright, and stayed not till she reached the tree on which
the two peacocks were perched, when she seemed reassured. The
peacock doubted not but that she had some rare story; so he asked
her of her case and the cause of her alarm, to which she replied,
'I am sick for sorrow and my fear of the son of Adam: beware, O
beware of the sons of Adam!' 'Fear not,' rejoined the peacock,
'now that thou hast won to us.' 'Praised be God,' cried the
duck, 'who hath done away my trouble and my concern with your
neigbourhood! For indeed I come, desiring your friendship.'
Thereupon the peahen came down to her and said, 'Welcome and fair
welcome! No harm shall befall thee: how can the son of Adam come
at us and we in this island midmost the sea? From the land he
cannot win to us, neither can he come up to us out of the sea. So
be of good cheer and tell us what hath betided thee from him.
'Know then, O peahen,' answered the duck, 'that I have dwelt all
my life in this island in peace and safety and have seen no
disquieting thing, till one night, as I was asleep, I saw in a
dream the semblance of a son of Adam, who talked with me and I
with him. Then I heard one say to me, "O duck, beware of the son
of Adam and be not beguiled by his words nor by that he may
suggest to thee; for he aboundeth in wiles and deceit; so beware
with all wariness of his perfidy, for he is crafty and guileful,
even as saith of him the poet:

He giveth thee honeyed words with the tip of his tongue, galore.
But sure he will cozen thee, as the fox cloth, evermore.

For know that the son of Adam beguileth the fish and draweth them
forth of the waters and shooteth the birds with a pellet of clay
and entrappeth the elephant with his craft. None is safe from his
mischief, and neither beast nor bird escapeth him. Thus have I
told thee what I have heard concerning the son of Adam." I awoke,
fearful and trembling (continued the duck), and from that time to
this my heart hath not known gladness, for fear of the son of
Adam, lest he take me unawares by his craft or trap me in his
snares. By the time the end of the day overtook me, I was grown
weak and my strength and courage failed me; so, desiring to eat
and drink, I went forth, troubled in spirit and with a heart ill
at ease. I walked on, till I reached yonder mountain, where I saw
a tawny lion-whelp at the door of a cave. When he saw me, he
rejoiced greatly in me, for my colour pleased him and my elegant
shape: so he cried out to me, saying "Draw nigh unto me." So I
went up to him and he said to me, "What is thy name and thy
kind?" Quoth I, "My name is 'duck,' and I am of the bird-kind;
but thou, why tarriest thou in this place till now?" "My father
the lion," answered he, "has bidden me many a day beware of the
son of Adam, and it befell this night that I saw in my sleep the
semblance of a son of Adam." And he went on to tell me the like
of that I have told you. When I heard this, I said to him, "O
lion, I resort to thee, that thou mayst kill the son of Adam and
steadfastly address thy thought to his slaughter; for I am
greatly in fear for myself of him, and fear is added to my fear,
for that thou also fearest the son of Adam, and thou the Sultan
of the beasts. Then, O my sister, I ceased not to bid him beware
of the son of Adam and urge him to slay him, till he rose of a
sudden from his stead and went out, lashing his flanks with his
tail. He fared on, and I after him, till we came to a place,
where several roads met, and saw cloud of dust arise, which,
presently clearing away, discovered a naked runaway ass, and now
running and galloping and now rolling in the dust. When the
lion saw the ass, he cried out to him, and he came up to him
submissively. Then said the lion, "Harkye, crack-brain! What is
thy kind and what brings thee hither?" "O, son of the Sultan,"
answered the ass, "I am by kind an ass, and the cause of my
coming hither is that I am fleeing from the son of Adam." "Dost
thou fear then that he will kill thee?" asked the lion-whelp.
"Not so, O son of the Sultan," replied the ass; "but I fear lest
he put a cheat on me; for he hath a thing called the pad, that he
sets on my back, and a thing called the girth, that he binds
about my belly, and a thing called the crupper, that he puts
under my tail, and a thing called the bit, that he places in my
mouth; and he fashions me a goad and goads me with it and makes
me run more than my strength. If I stumble, he curses me, and
if I bray, he reviles me; and when I grow old and can no longer
run, he puts a wooden pannel on me and delivers me to the
water-carriers, who load my back with water from the river, in
skins and other vessels, such as jars, and I wear out my life in
misery and abasement and fatigue till I die, when they cast me on
the rubbish-heaps to the dogs. So what misery can surpass this,
and what calamities can be greater than these?" When, O peahen, I
heard the ass's words, my skin shuddered at the son of Adam and I
said to the lion-whelp, "Of a verity, O my lord, the ass hath
excuse, and his words add terror to my terror." Then said the
lion to the ass, "Whither goest thou?" "Before the rising of the
sun" answered he, "I espied the son of Adam afar off and fled
from him, and now I am minded to flee forth and run without
ceasing, for the greatness of my fear of him, so haply I may find
a place to shelter me from the perfidious son of Adam." Whilst he
was thus discoursing, seeking the while to take leave of us and
go away, behold, another cloud of dust arose, at sight of which
the ass brayed and cried out and let fly a great crack of wind.
Presently, the dust lifted and discovered a handsome black horse
of elegant shape, with white feet and fine legs and a brow-star
like a dirhem, which made towards us, neighing, and stayed not
till he stood before the whelp, the son of the lion, who, when he
saw him, marvelled at his beauty and said to him, "What is thy
kind, O noble wild beast, and wherefore fleest thou into this
vast and wide desert?" "O lord of the beasts," answered he, "I am
of the horse-kind, and I am fleeing from the son of Adam." The
whelp wondered at the horse's words and said to him, "Say not
thus; for it is shame for thee, seeing that thou art tall and
stout. How comes it that thou fearest the son of Adam, thou, with
thy bulk of body and thy swiftness of running, when I, for all my
littleness of body, am resolved to find out the son of Adam, and
rushing on him, eat his flesh, that I may allay the affright of
this poor duck and make her to dwell in peace in her own place.
But now thou hast wrung my heart with thy talk and turned me back
from what I had resolved to do, in that, for all thy bulk, the
son of Adam hath mastered thee and feared neither thy height nor
thy breadth, though, wert thou to kick him with thy foot, thou
wouldst kill him, nor could he prevail against thee, but thou
wouldst make him drink the cup of death." The horse laughed, when
he heard the whelp's words, and replied, "Far, far is it from my
power to overcome him, O king's son! Let not my length and my
breadth nor yet my bulk delude thee, with respect to the son
of Adam; for he, of the excess of his guile and his cunning,
fashions for me a thing called a hobble and hobbles my four legs
with ropes of palm-fibres, bound with felt, and makes me fast by
the head to a high picket, so that I remain standing and can
neither sit nor lie down, being tied up. When he hath a mind to
ride me, he binds on his feet a thing of iron called a stirrup
and lays on my back another thing called a saddle, which he
fastens by two girths, passed under my armpits. Then he sets in
my mouth a thing of iron he calls a bit, to which he ties a thing
of leather called a rein; and when he mounts on the saddle on
my back, he takes the rein in his hand and guides me with it,
goading my flanks the while with the stirrups[FN#1], till he
makes them bleed: so do not ask, O king's son, what I endure from
the son of Adam. When I grow old and lean and can no longer run
swiftly, he sells me to the miller, who makes me turn in the
mill, and I cease not from turning night and day, till I grow
decrepit. Then he in turn sells me to the knacker, who slaughters
me and flays off my hide, after which he plucks out my tail,
which he sells to the sieve-makers, and melts down my fat for
tallow." At this, the young lion's anger and vexation redoubled,
and he said to the horse, "When didst thou leave the son of
Adam?" "At mid-day," replied the horse; "and he is now on my
track." Whilst the whelp was thus conversing with the horse,
there arose a cloud of dust and presently subsiding, discovered a
furious camel, which made toward us, braying and pawing the earth
with his feet. When the whelp saw how great and lusty he was, he
took him to be the son of Adam and was about to spring at him,
when I said to him, "O king's son, this is not the son of Adam,
but a camel, and me seems he is fleeing from the son of Adam."
As I spoke, O my sister, the camel came up and saluted the
lion-whelp, who returned his greeting and said to him, "What
brings thee hither?" Quoth he, "I am fleeing from the son of
Adam." "And thou," said the whelp, "with thy huge frame and
length and breadth, how comes it that thou fearest the son of
Adam, seeing that one kick of thy foot would kill him?" "O son of
the Sultan," answered the camel, "know that the son of Adam has
wiles, which none can withstand, nor can any but Death prevail
against him; for he puts in my nostrils a twine of goat's-hair he
calls a nose-ring and over my head a thing he calls a halter;
then he delivers me to the least of his children, and the
youngling draws me along by the nose-ring, for all my size and
strength. Then they load me with the heaviest of burdens and go
long journeys with me and put me to hard labours all hours of the
day and night. When I grow old and feeble, my master keeps me not
with him, but sells me to the knacker, who slaughters me and
sells my hide to the tanners and my flesh to the cooks: so do not
ask what I suffer from the son of Adam." "When didst thou leave
the son of Adam?" asked the young lion. "At sundown," replied the
camel; "and I doubt not but that, having missed me, he is now in
search of me: wherefore, O son of the Sultan, let me go, that I
may flee into the deserts and the wilds." "Wait awhile, O camel,"
said the whelp, "till thou see how I will rend him in pieces and
give thee to eat of his flesh, whilst I crunch his bones and
drink his blood." "O king's son," rejoined the camel, "I fear for
thee from the son of Adam, for he is wily and perfidious." And he
repeated the following verse:

Whenas on any land the oppressor cloth alight, There's nothing
left for those, that dwell therein, but flight.

Whilst the camel was speaking, there arose a cloud of dust,
which opened and showed a short thin old man, with a basket of
carpenters' tools on his shoulder and a branch of a tree and
eight planks on his head. He had little children in his hand, and
came on at a brisk pace, till he drew near us. When I saw him, O
my sister, I fell down for excess of affright; but the young lion
rose and went to meet the carpenter, who smiled in his face and
said to him, with a glib tongue, "O illustrious king and lord of
the long arm, may God prosper shine evening and shine endeavour
and increase thy velour and strengthen thee! Protect me from that
which hath betided me and smitten me with its mischief, for I
have found no helper save only thee." And he stood before him,
weeping and groaning and lamenting. When the whelp heard his
weeping and wailing, he said, "I will succour thee from that thou
fearest. Who hath done thee wrong and what art thou, O wild
beast, whose like I never saw in my life nor saw I ever one
goodlier of form or more eloquent of tongue than thou? What is
thy case?" "O lord of the beasts," answered the man, "I am a
carpenter; he who hath wronged me is a son of Adam, and by break
of dawn he will be with thee in this place." When the lion heard
this, the light in his face was changed to darkness and he roared
and snorted and his eyes cast forth sparks. Then he said, "By
Allah, I will watch this night till the dawn, nor will I return
to my father till I have compassed my intent. But thou,"
continued he, addressing the carpenter, "I see thou art short of
step, and I would not wound thy feelings, for that I am generous
of heart; yet do I deem thee unable to keep pace with the wild
beasts: tell me then whither thou goest." "Know," answered the
carpenter, "that I am on my way to thy father's Vizier, the Lynx;
for when he heard that the son of Adam had set foot in this
country, he feared greatly for himself and sent one of the beasts
for me, to make him a house, wherein he should dwell, that it
might shelter him and hold his enemy from him, so not one of the
sons of Adam should come at him." When the young lion heard this,
he envied the lynx and said to the carpenter, "By my life, thou
must make me a house with these planks, ere thou make one for the
lynx! When thou hast done my work, go to the lynx and make him
what he wishes." "O lord of the beasts," answered the carpenter,
"I cannot make thee aught, till I have made the lynx what he
desires: then will I return to thy service and make thee a house,
to ward thee from shine enemy." "By Allah," exclaimed the whelp,
"I will not let thee go hence, till thou make me a house of these
planks!" So saying, he sprang upon the carpenter, thinking to
jest with him, and gave him a cuff with his paw. The blow knocked
the basket off the man's shoulder and he fell down in a swoon,
whereupon the young lion laughed at him and said, "Out on thee, O
carpenter! Of a truth thou art weak and hast no strength; so it
is excusable in thee to fear the son of Adam." Now the carpenter
was exceeding wroth; but he dissembled his anger, for fear of the
whelp, and sat up and smiled in his face, saying, "Well, I will
make thee the house." With this, he took the planks, and nailing
them together, made a house in the form of a chest, after the
measure of the young lion. In this he cut a large opening, to
which he made a stout cover and bored many holes therein, leaving
the door open. Then he took out some nails of wrought iron and a
hammer and said to the young lion, "Enter this opening, that I
may fit it to thy measure." The whelp was glad and went up to the
opening, but saw that it was strait; and the carpenter said to
him, "Crouch down and so enter." So the whelp crouched down and
entered the chest, but his tail remained outside. Then he would
have drawn back and come out; but the carpenter said to him,
"Wait till I see if there be room for thy tail with thee." So
saying, he twisted up the young lion's tail, and stuffing it into
the chest, whipped the lid on to the opening and nailed it down;
whereat the whelp cried out and said, "O carpenter, what is this
narrow house thou hast made me? Let me out." But the carpenter
laughed and answered, "God forbid! Repentance avails nothing for
what is passed, and indeed thou shalt not come out of this place.
Verily thou art fallen into the trap and there is no escape for
thee from duresse, O vilest of wild beasts!" "O my brother,"
rejoined the whelp, "what manner of words are these?" "Know, O
dog of the desert," answered the man, "that thou hast fallen into
that which thou fearedst; Fate hath overthrown thee, nor did
thought-taking profit thee." When the whelp heard these words, he
knew that this was indeed the very son of Adam, against whom he
had been warned by his father on wake and by the mysterious voice
in sleep; and I also, O my sister, was certified that this was
indeed he without doubt; wherefore there took me great fear of
him for myself and I withdrew a little apart and waited to see
what he would do with the young lion. Then I saw the son of Adam
dig a pit hard by the chest and throwing the latter therein, heap
brushwood upon it and burn the young lion with fire. At this
sight, my fear of the son of Adam redoubled, and in my affright I
have been these two days fleeing from him.'"

When the peahen heard the duck's story, she wondered exceedingly
and said to her, 'O my sister, thou art safe here from the son of
Adam, for we are in one of the islands of the sea, whither there
is no way for him; so do thou take up shine abode with us, till
God make easy shine and our affair.' Quoth the duck, 'I fear lest
some calamity come upon me by night, for no runaway can rid him
of fate.' 'Abide with us,' rejoined the peahen, 'and be even as
we;' and ceased not to persuade her, till she yielded, saying, 'O
my sister, thou knowest how little is my fortitude: had I not
seen thee here, I had not remained.' 'That which is written on
our foreheads,' said the peahen, 'we must indeed fulfil, and when
our appointed day draws near, who shall deliver us? But not a
soul passes away except it have accomplished its predestined term
and fortune.' As they talked, a cloud of dust appeared, at sight
of which the duck shrieked aloud and ran down into the sea,
crying out, 'Beware, beware, albeit there is no fleeing from Fate
and Fortune!' After awhile, the dust subsided and discovered an
antelope; whereat the duck and the peahen were reassured and the
latter said to her companion, 'O my sister, this thou seest and
wouldst have me beware of is an antelope, and he is making for
us. He will do us no hurt, for the antelope feeds upon the herbs
of the earth, and even as thou art of the bird-kind, so is he of
the beast-kind. So be of good cheer and leave care-taking; for
care-taking wasteth the body.' Hardly had the peahen done
speaking, when the antelope came up to them, thinking to shelter
under the shade of the tree, and seeing the two birds, saluted
them and said, 'I came to this island to-day, and I have seen
none richer in herbage nor more pleasant of habitance.' Then he
besought them of company and amity, and they, seeing his friendly
behaviour to them, welcomed him and gladly accepted his offer. So
they swore friendship one to another and abode in the island in
peace and safety, eating and drinking and sleeping in common,
till one day there came thither a ship, that had strayed from its
course in the sea. It cast anchor near them, and the crew
landing, dispersed about the island. They soon caught sight of
the three animals and made for them, whereupon the peahen flew up
into the tree and the antelope fled into the desert, but the duck
abode paralysed (by fear). So they chased her, till they caught
her and carried her with them to the ship, whilst she cried out
and said, 'Caution availed me nothing against Fate and destiny!'
When the peahen saw what had betided the duck, she came down from
the tree, saying, 'I see that misfortunes lie in wait for all.
But for yonder ship, parting had not befallen between me and this
duck, for she was one of the best of friends. Then she flew off
and rejoined the antelope, who saluted her and gave her joy of
her safety and enquired for the duck, to which she replied, 'The
enemy hath taken her, and I loathe the sojourn of this island
after her.' Then she wept for the loss of the duck and repeated
the following verses:

The day of severance broke my heart in tway. God do the like unto
the severance-day!

And also these:

I pray that we may yet foregather once again. That I may tell her
all that parting wrought of pain.

The antelope was greatly moved at hearing of their comrade's
fate, but dissuaded the peahen from her resolve to leave the
island. So they abode there together, eating and drinking in
peace and safety, save that they ceased not to mourn for the loss
of the duck, and the antelope said to the peahen, 'Thou seest, O
my sister, how the folk who came forth of the ship were the means
of our severance from the duck and of her destruction; so do thou
beware of them and guard thyself from them and from the craft of
the son of Adam and his perfidy.' But the peahen replied, 'I am
assured that nought caused her death but her neglect to celebrate
the praises of God, and indeed I said to her, "Verily I fear for
thee, because thou art not careful to praise God; for all things
that He hath made do glorify Him, and if any neglect to do so, it
leadeth to their destruction."' When the antelope heard the
peahen's words, he exclaimed, 'May God make fair thy face!' and
betook himself to the celebration of the praises of the Almighty,
never after slackening therefrom. And it is said that his form of
adoration was as follows: 'Glory be to the Requiter of good and
evil, the Lord of glory and dominion!'


There was once a hermit, who served God on a certain mountain,
whither resorted a pair of pigeons; and he was wont to make two
parts of his daily bread, eating one half himself and giving the
other to the pigeons. He prayed also for them, that they might be
blest with increase; so they increased and multiplied greatly.
Now they resorted only to that mountain, and the reason of
their foregathering with the holy man was their assiduity in
celebrating the praises of God; for it is said that the pigeons'
formula of praise is, 'Glory be to the Creator of all things,
Who appointeth to every one his daily bread, Who builded the
heavens and spread out the earth like a carpet!' They dwelt thus
together, in the happiest of life, they and their brood, till the
holy man died, when the company of the pigeons was broken up, and
they all dispersed among the towns and villages and mountains.

Now in a certain other mountain there dwelt a shepherd, a man of
piety and chastity and understanding; and he had flocks of sheep,
which he tended, and made his living by their milk and wool. The
mountain aforesaid abounded in trees and pasturage and wild
beasts, but the latter had no power over the peasant nor over his
flocks; so he continued to dwell therein, in security, taking no
thought to the things of the world, by reason of his happiness
and assiduity in prayer and devotion, till God ordained that he
should fall exceeding sick. So he betook himself to a cavern in
the mountain, and his sheep used to go out in the morning to the
pasturage and take refuge at night in the cave. Now God was
minded to try him and prove his obedience and constancy; so He
sent him one of His angels, who came in to him in the semblance
of a fair woman and sat down before him. When the shepherd saw
the woman seated before him, his flesh shuddered with horror of
her and he said to her, 'O woman, what brings thee hither? I have
no need of thee, nor is there aught betwixt thee and me that
calls for thy coming in to me.' 'O man,' answered she, 'dost thou
not note my beauty and grace and the fragrance of my breath and
knowest thou not the need women have of men and men of women?
Behold, I have chosen to be near thee and desire to enjoy thy
company; so who shall forbid thee from me? Indeed, I come to thee
willingly and do not withhold myself from thee: there is none
with us whom we need fear; and I wish to abide with thee as long
as thou sojournest in this mountain and be thy companion. I offer
myself to thee, for thou needest the service of women; and if
thou know me, thy sickness will leave thee and health return to
thee and thou wilt repent thee of having forsworn the company of
women during thy past life. Indeed, I give thee good advice: so
give ear to my counsel and draw near unto me.' Quoth he, 'Go out
from me, O deceitful and perfidious woman! I will not incline to
thee nor approach thee. I want not thy company; he who coveteth
thee renounceth the future life, and he who coveteth the future
life renounceth thee, for thou seduces the first and the last.
God the Most High lieth in wait for His servants and woe unto him
who is afflicted with thy company!' 'O thou that errest from the
truth and wanderest from the path of reason,' answered she, 'turn
thy face to me and look upon my charms and profit by my nearness,
as did the wise who have gone before thee. Indeed, they were
richer than thou in experience and greater of wit; yet they
rejected not the society of women, as thou dost, but took their
pleasure of them and their company, and it did them no hurt, in
body or in soul. Wherefore do thou turn from thy resolve and thou
shalt praise the issue of shine affair.' 'All thou sayest I deny
and abhor,' rejoined the shepherd, 'and reject all thou offerest;
for thou art cunning and perfidious and there is no faith in
thee, neither honour. How much foulness cost thou hide under thy
beauty and how many a pious man hast thou seduced, whose end was
repentance and perdition! Avaunt from me, O thou who devotes
thyself to corrupt others!' So saying, he threw his goat's-hair
cloak over his eyes, that he might not see her face, and betook
himself to calling upon the name of his Lord. When the angel saw
the excellence of his obedience (to God), he went out from him
and ascended to heaven.

Now hard by the mountain was a village wherein dwelt a pious man,
who knew not the other's stead, till one night he saw in a dream
one who said to him, 'In such a place near to thee is a pious
man: go to him and be at his command.' So when it was day, he set
out afoot to go thither, and at the time when the heat was
grievous upon him, he came to a tree, which grew beside a spring
of running water. He sat down to rest in the shadow of the tree,
and birds and beasts came to the spring to drink; but when they
saw him, they took fright and fled. Then said he, 'There is no
power and no virtue save in God the Most High! I am resting here,
to the hurt of the beasts and fowls.' So he rose and went on,
blaming himself and saying, 'My tarrying here hath wronged these
beasts and birds, and what excuse have I towards my Creator and
the Creator of these creatures, for that I was the cause of their
flight from their watering-place and their pasture? Alas, my
confusion before my Lord on the day when He shall avenge the
sheep of the goats!' And he wept and repeated the following

By Allah, if men knew for what they are create, They would not go
and sleep, unheeding of their fate!
Soon cometh death, then wake and resurrection come; Then judgment
and reproof and terrors passing great.
Obey me or command, the most of us are like. The dwellers in the
cave, [FN#2] asleep early and late.

Then he fared on, weeping for that he had driven the birds and
beasts from the spring by sitting down under the tree, till he
came to the shepherd's dwelling and going in, saluted him. The
shepherd returned his greeting and embraced him, weeping and
saying, 'What brings thee hither, where no man hath ever come in
to me?' Quoth the other, 'I saw in my sleep one who described to
me this thy stead and bade me repair to thee and salute thee: so
I came, in obedience to the commandment.' The shepherd welcomed
him, rejoicing in his company, and they both abode in the cavern,
doing fair service to their Lord and living upon the flesh and
milk of their sheep, having put away from them wealth and
children and other the goods of this world, till there came to
them Death, the Certain, the Inevitable. And this is the end of
their story."

"O Shehrzad," said King Shehriyar, "thou puttest me out of
conceit with my kingdom and makest me repent of having slain so
many women and maidens. Hast thou any stories of birds?" "Yes,"
answered she, and began as follows:


"A water-fowl flew high up into the air and alighted on rock in
the midst of a running water. As it sat, behold, the water
floated up a carcase, that was swollen and rose high out of the
water, and lodged it against the rock. The bird drew near and
examining it, found that it was the dead body of a man and saw in
it spear and sword wounds. So he said in himself, 'Belike, this
was some evil-doer, and a company of men joined themselves
together against him and slew him and were at peace from him and
his mischief.' Whilst he was marvelling at this, vultures and
eagles came down upon the carcase from all sides; which when the
water-fowl saw, he was sore affrighted and said, 'I cannot endure
to abide here longer.' So he flew away in quest of a place where
he might harbour, till the carcase should come to an end and the
birds of prey leave it, and stayed not in his flight, till he
came to a river with a tree in its midst. He alighted on the
tree, troubled and distraught and grieved for his separation from
his native place, and said to himself, 'Verily grief and vexation
cease not to follow me: I was at my ease, when I saw the carcase,
and rejoiced therein exceedingly, saying, "This is a gift of God
to me;" but my joy became sorrow and my gladness mourning, for
the lions of the birds[FN#3] took it and made prize of it and
came between it and me. How can I trust in this world or hope to
be secure from misfortune therein? Indeed, the proverb says, "The
world is the dwelling of him who hath no dwelling: he who hath no
understanding is deceived by it and trusteth in it with his
wealth and his child and his family and his folk; nor doth he who
is deluded by it leave to rely upon it, walking proudly upon the
earth, till he is laid under it and the dust is cast over him by
him who was dearest and nearest to him of all men; but nought is
better for the noble than patience under its cares and miseries."
I have left my native place, and it is abhorrent to me to quit my
brethren and friends and loved ones.' Whilst he was thus devising
with himself, behold, a tortoise descended into the water and
approaching the bird, saluted him, saying, 'O my lord, what hath
exiled thee and driven thee afar from thy place?' 'The descent of
enemies thereon,' replied the water-fowl; 'for the understanding
cannot brook the neighbourhood of his enemy; even as well says
the poet:

Whenas on any land the oppressor doth alight, There's nothing
left for those, that dwell therein, but flight.'

Quoth the tortoise, 'If the case be as thou sayest, I will not
leave thee nor cease to be before thee, that I may do thy need
and fulfil thy service; for it is said that there is no sorer
desolation than that of him who is an exile, cut off from friends
and country; and also that no calamity equals that of severance
from virtuous folk; but the best solace for the understanding is
to seek companionship in his strangerhood and be patient under
adversity. Wherefore I hope that thou wilt find thine account
in my company, for I will be to thee a servant and a helper.'
'Verily, thou art right in what thou sayest,' answered the
water-fowl; 'for, by my life, I have found grief and pain in
separation, what while I have been absent from my stead and
sundered from my friends and brethren, seeing that in severance
is an admonition to him who will be admonished and matter of
thought for him who will take thought. If one find not a
companion to console him, good is cut off from him for ever and
evil stablished with him eternally; and there is nothing for the
wise but to solace himself in every event with brethren and be
instant in patience and constancy; for indeed these two are
praiseworthy qualities, that uphold one under calamities and
shifts of fortune and ward off affliction and consternation, come
what will.' 'Beware of sorrow,' rejoined the tortoise, 'for it
will corrupt thy life to thee and do away thy fortitude.' And
they gave not over converse, till the bird said, 'Never shall I
leave to fear the strokes of fortune and the vicissitudes of
events.' When the tortoise heard this, he came up to him and
kissing him between the eyes, said to him, 'Never may the company
of the birds cease to be blest in thee and find good in thy
counsel! How shalt thou be burdened with inquietude and harm?'
And he went on to comfort the water-fowl and soothe his disquiet,
till he became reassured. Then he flew to the place, where the
carcase was, and found the birds of prey gone and nothing left of
the body but bones; whereupon he returned to the tortoise and
acquainted him with this, saying, 'I wish to return to my stead
and enjoy the society of my friends; for the wise cannot endure
separation from his native place.' So they both went thither and
found nought to affright them; whereupon the water-fowl repeated
the following verses:

Full many a sorry chance doth light upon a man and fill His life
with trouble, yet with God the issue bideth still.
His case is sore on him, but when its meshes straitened are To
att'rest, they relax, although he deem they never will.

So they abode there in peace and gladness, till one day fate led
thither a hungry hawk, which drove its talons into the bird's
belly and killed him, nor did caution stand him in stead seeing
that his hour was come. Now the cause of his death was that he
neglected to praise God, and it is said that his form of
adoration was as follows, 'Glory be to our Lord in that He
ordereth and ordaineth, and glory be to our Lord in that He
maketh rich and maketh poor!'"

"O Shehrzad," said the Sultan, "verily, thou overwhelmest me with
admonitions and salutary instances! Hast thou any stories of
beasts?" "Yes," answered she. "Know, O King, that


A fox and a wolf once dwelt in the same den, harbouring therein
together day and night; but the wolf was cruel and oppressive to
the fox. They abode thus awhile, till one day the fox exhorted
the wolf to use gentle dealing and leave evil-doing, saying, 'If
thou persist in thine arrogance, belike God will give the son of
Adam power over thee, for he is past master in guile and craft
and knavery. By his devices he brings down the birds from the air
and draws the fish forth of the waters and sunders mountains in
twain and transports them from place to place. All this is of his
craft and wiliness; wherefore do thou betake thyself to equity
and fair dealing and leave evil and tyranny; and thou shalt fare
the better for it.' But the wolf rejected his counsel and
answered him roughly, saying, 'Thou hast no call to speak of
matters of weight and stress.' And he dealt the fox a buffet that
laid him senseless; but, when he revived, he smiled in the wolf's
face and excused himself for his unseemly speech, repeating the
following verses:

If I have sinned in aught that's worthy of reproach Or if I've
made default against the love of you,
Lo, I repent my fault; so let thy clemency The sinner comprehend,
that doth for pardon sue.

The wolf accepted his excuse and held his hand from him, saying,
'Speak not of that which concerns thee not, or thou shalt hear
what will not please thee.' 'I hear and obey,' answered the fox;
'henceforth I will abstain from what pleaseth thee not; for the
sage says, "Speak thou not of that whereof thou art not asked;
answer not, when thou art not called upon; leave that which
concerns thee not for that which does concern thee and lavish not
good counsel on the wicked, for they will repay thee therefor
with evil."' And he smiled in the wolf's face, but in his heart
he meditated treachery against him and said in himself, 'Needs
must I compass the destruction of this wolf.' So he bore with his
ill usage, saying in himself, 'Verily arrogance and falsehood
lead to perdition and cast into confusion, and it is said, "He
who is arrogant suffers and he who is ignorant repents and he who
fears is safe: fair dealing is a characteristic of the noble, and
gentle manners are the noblest of gains." It behoves me to
dissemble with this tyrant, and needs must he be cast down.' Then
said he to the wolf, 'Verily, the Lord pardons his erring servant
and relents towards him, if he confess his sins; and I am a weak
slave and have sinned in presuming to counsel thee. If thou
knewest the pain that befell me by thy buffet, thou wouldst see
that an elephant could not stand against it nor endure it: but I
complain not of the pain of the blow, because of the contentment
that hath betided me through it; for though it was exceeding
grievous to me, yet its issue was gladness. As saith the sage,
"The blow of the teacher is at first exceeding grievous, but the
end of it is sweeter than clarified honey."' Quoth the wolf, 'I
pardon thine offence and pass over thy fault; but be thou ware of
my strength and avow thyself my slave; for thou knowest how
rigorously I deal with those that transgress against me.'
Thereupon the fox prostrated himself to the wolf, saying, 'May
God prolong thy life and mayst thou cease never to subdue thine
enemies!' And he abode in fear of the wolf and ceased not to
wheedle him and dissemble with him.

One day, the fox came to a vineyard and saw a breach in its wall;
but he mistrusted it and said in himself, 'Verily, there must be
some reason for this breach and the adage says, "He who sees a
cleft in the earth and doth not shun it or be wary in going up to
it, is self-deluded and exposes himself to destruction." Indeed,
it is well known that some folk make a semblant of a fox in their
vineyards, even to setting before it grapes in dishes, that foxes
may see it and come to it and fall into destruction. Meseems,
this breach is a snare and the proverb says, "Prudence is the
half of cleverness." Now prudence requires that I examine this
breach and see if there be ought therein that may lead to
perdition; and covetise shall not make me cast myself into
destruction.' So he went up to the breach and examining it
warily, discovered a deep pit, lightly covered (with boughs and
earth), which the owner of the vineyard had dug, thinking to trap
therein the wild beasts that laid waste his vines. Then he drew
back from it, saying in himself, 'I have found it as I expected.
Praised be God that I was wary of it! I hope that my enemy the
wolf, who makes my life miserable, will fall into it; so will the
vineyard be left to me and I shall enjoy it alone and dwell
therein in peace.' So saying, he shook his head and laughed
aloud, repeating the following verses:

Would God I might see, even now, A wolf fallen into yon pit,
That this long time hath tortured my heart And made me quaff
bitters, God wit!
God grant I may live and be spared And eke of the wolf be made
So the vineyard of him shall be rid And I find my purchase in it.

Then he returned in haste to the wolf and said to him, 'God hath
made plain the way for thee into the vineyard, without toil. This
is of thy good luck; so mayst thou enjoy the easy booty and the
plentiful provant that God hath opened up to thee without
trouble!' 'What proof hast thou of what thou sayest?' asked the
wolf; and the fox answered, 'I went up to the vineyard and found
that the owner was dead, having been devoured by wolves: so I
entered and saw the fruit shining on the trees.' The wolf
misdoubted not of the fox's report and gluttony got hold on him;
so he rose and repaired to the breach, blinded by greed; whilst
the fox stopped short and lay as one dead, applying to the case
the following verse:

Lustest after Leila's favours? Look thou rather bear in mind That
'tis covetise plays havoc with the necks of human kind.

Then said he to the wolf, 'Enter the vineyard: thou art spared
the trouble of climbing, for the wall is broken down, and with
God be the rest of the benefit.' So the wolf went on, thinking to
enter the vineyard; but when he came to the middle of the
covering (of the pit), he fell in; whereupon the fox shook for
delight and gladness; his care and concern left him and he sang
out for joy and recited the following verses:

Fortune hath taken ruth on my case; Yea, she hath pitied the
length of my pain,
Doing away from me that which I feared And granting me that
whereto I was fain.
So I will pardon her all the sins She sinned against me once and
Since for the wolf there is no escape From certain ruin and
bitter bane,
And now the vineyard is all my own And no fool sharer in my

Then he looked into the pit, and seeing the wolf weeping for
sorrow and repentance over himself, wept with him; whereupon the
wolf raised his head to him and said, 'Is it of pity for me thou
weepest, O Aboulhussein?' [FN#4] 'Not so,' answered the fox, 'by
Him who cast thee into the pit! I weep for the length of thy past
life and for regret that thou didst not sooner fall into the pit;
for hadst thou done so before I met with thee, I had been at
peace: but thou wast spared till the fulfilment of thine allotted
term.' The wolf thought he was jesting and said, 'O sinner, go to
my mother and tell her what has befallen me, so haply she may
make shift for my release.' 'Verily,' answered the fox, 'the
excess of thy gluttony and thy much greed have brought thee to
destruction, since thou art fallen into a pit whence thou wilt
never escape. O witless wolf, knowest thou not the proverb, "He
who taketh no thought to results, Fate is no friend to him, nor
shall he be safe from perils?"' 'O Aboulhussein,' said the wolf,
'thou wast wont to show me affection and covet my friendship and
fear the greatness of my strength. Bear me not malice for that I
did with thee, for he who hath power and forgiveth, his reward is
with God; even as saith the poet:

Sow benefits aye, though in other than fitting soil. A benefit's
never lost, wherever it may be sown;
And though time tarry full long to bring it to harvest-tide, Yet
no man reapeth its fruit, save he who sowed it alone.'

'O most witless of beasts of prey and stupidest of the wildings
of the earth,' rejoined the fox, 'hast thou forgotten thine
arrogance and pride and tyranny and how thou disregardedst the
due of comradeship and wouldst not take counsel by what the poet

Do no oppression, whilst the power thereto is in thine hand, For
still in danger of revenge the sad oppressor goes.
Thine eyes will sleep anon, what while the opprest, on wake, call
down Curses upon thee, and God's eye shuts never in repose.'

'O Aboulhussein,' replied the wolf, 'reproach me not for past
offences; for forgiveness is expected of the noble, and the
practice of kindness is the best of treasures. How well says the

Hasten to do good works, whenever thou hast the power, For thou
art not able thereto at every season and hour.'

And he went on to humble himself to the fox and say to him,
'Haply, thou canst do somewhat to deliver me from destruction.'
'O witless, deluded, perfidious, crafty wolf,' answered the fox,
'hope not for deliverance, for this is but the just reward of thy
foul dealing.' Then he laughed from ear to ear and repeated the
following verses:

A truce to thy strife to beguile me! For nothing of me shalt thou
gain. Thy prayers are but idle; thou sowedst Vexation; so
reap it amain.

'O gentlest of beasts of prey,' said the wolf, 'I deem thee too
faithful to leave me in this pit.' Then he wept and sighed and
recited the following verses, whilst the tears streamed from his

O thou, whose kindnesses to me are more than one, I trow, Whose
bounties unto me vouchsafed are countless as the sand,
No shift of fortune in my time has ever fall'n on me, But I have
found thee ready still to take me by the hand.

'O stupid enemy,' said the fox, 'how art thou reduced to humility
and obsequiousness and abjection and submission, after disdain
and pride and tyranny and arrogance! Verily, I companied with
thee and cajoled thee but for fear of thy violence and not in
hope of fair treatment from thee: but now trembling is come upon
thee and vengeance hath overtaken thee.' And he repeated the
following verses:

O thou that for aye on beguiling art bent, Thou'rt fall'n in the
snare of thine evil intent.
So taste of the anguish that knows no relent And be with the rest
of the wolven forspent!

'O clement one,' replied the wolf, 'speak not with the tongue of
despite nor look with its eyes; but fulfil the covenant of
fellowship with me, ere the time for action pass away. Rise, make
shift to get me a rope and tie one end of it to a tree; then let
the other end down to me, that I may lay hold of it, so haply I
may escape from this my strait, and I will give thee all my hand
possesseth of treasures.' Quoth the fox, 'Thou persistest in talk
of that wherein thy deliverance is not. Hope not for this, for
thou shalt not get of me wherewithal to save thyself; but call to
mind thy past ill deeds and the craft and perfidy thou didst
imagine against me and bethink thee how near thou art to being
stoned to death. For know that thy soul is about to leave the
world and cease and depart from it; so shalt thou come to
destruction and evil is the abiding-place to which thou goest!'
'O Aboulhussein,' rejoined the wolf, 'hasten to return to
friendliness and persist not in this rancour. Know that he, who
saves a soul from perdition, is as if he had restored it to life,
and he, who saves a soul alive, is as if he had saved all
mankind. Do not ensue wickedness, for the wise forbid it: and it
were indeed the most manifest wickedness to leave me in this pit
to drink the agony of death and look upon destruction, whenas it
lies in thy power to deliver me from my strait. Wherefore go thou
about to release me and deal benevolently with me.' 'O thou
barbarous wretch,' answered the fox, 'I liken thee, because of
the fairness of thy professions and the foulness of thine intent
and thy practice, to the hawk with the partridge.' 'How so ?'
asked the wolf; and the fox said,

The Hawk and the Partridge.

'I entered a vineyard one day and saw a hawk stoop upon a
partridge and seize it: but the partridge escaped from him and
entering its nest, hid itself there. The hawk followed and called
out to it, saying, "O wittol, I saw thee in the desert, hungry,
and took pity on thee; so I gathered grain for thee and took hold
of thee that thou mightest eat; but thou fledst, wherefore I know
not, except it were to slight me. So come out and take the grain
I have brought thee to eat, and much good may it do thee!" The
partridge believed what he said and came out, whereupon the hawk
stuck his talons into him and seized him. "Is this that which
thou saidst thou hadst brought me from the desert," cried the
partridge, "and of which thou badest me eat, saying, 'Much good
may it do thee?' Thou hast lied to me and may God make what thou
eatest of my flesh to be a deadly poison in thy maw!" So when the
hawk had eaten the partridge, his feathers fell off and his
strength failed and he died on the spot. Know, then, O wolf, that
he, who digs a pit for his brother, soon falls into it himself,
and thou first dealtest perfidiously with me.' 'Spare me this
talk and these moral instances,' said the wolf, 'and remind me
not of my former ill deeds, for the sorry plight I am in suffices
me, seeing that I am fallen into a place, in which even my enemy
would pity me, to say nothing of my friend. So make thou some
shift to deliver me and be thou thereby my saviour. If this cause
thee aught of hardship, think that a true friend will endure the
sorest travail for his friend's sake and risk his life to deliver
him from perdition; and indeed it hath been said, "A tender
friend is better than an own brother." So if thou bestir thyself
and help me and deliver me, I will gather thee such store of
gear, as shall be a provision for thee against the time of want,
and teach thee rare tricks to gain access to fruitful vineyards
and strip the fruit-laden trees.' 'How excellent,' rejoined the
fox, laughing, 'is what the learned say of those who are past
measure ignorant, like unto thee!' 'What do they say?' asked the
wolf; and the fox answered, 'They say that the gross of body are
gross of nature, far from understanding and nigh unto ignorance.
As for thy saying, O perfidious, stupid self-deceiver, that a
friend should suffer hardship to succour his friend, it is true,
as thou sayest: but tell me, of thine ignorance and poverty of
wit, how can I be a true friend to thee, considering thy
treachery? Dost thou count me thy friend? Behold, I am thine
enemy, that exulteth in thy misfortune; and couldst thou
understand it, this word were sorer to thee than slaughter and
arrow-shot. As for thy promise to provide me a store against the
time of want and teach me tricks to enter vineyards and spoil
fruit-trees, how comes it, O crafty traitor, that thou knowest
not a trick to save thyself from destruction? How far art thou
from profiting thyself and how far am I from lending ear to thy
speech! If thou have any tricks, make shift for thyself to save
thee from this peril, wherefrom I pray God to make thine escape
distant! So look, O idiot, if there be any trick with thee and
save thyself from death therewith, before thou lavish instruction
on others. But thou art like a certain sick man, who went to
another, suffering from the same disease, and said to him, "Shall
I heal thee of thy disease?" "Why dost thou not begin by healing
thyself?" answered the other; so he left him and went his way.
And thou, O ignorant wolf, art like this; so stay where thou art
and be patient under what hath befallen thee.' When the wolf
heard what the fox said, he knew he had no hope from him; so he
wept for himself, saying, 'Verily, I have been heedless of mine
affair; but if God deliver me from this scrape, I will assuredly
repent of my arrogance towards those who are weaker than I and
will put on wool and go upon the mountains, celebrating the
praises of God the Most High and fearing His wrath. Yea, I will
sunder myself from all the other wild beasts and feed the poor
and those who fight for the Faith.' Then he wept and lamented,
till the heart of the fox was softened and he took pity on him,
whenas he heard his humble words and his professions of
repentance for his past arrogance and tyranny. So he sprang up
joyfully and going to the brink of the pit, sat down on his hind
quarters and let his tail fall therein; whereupon the wolf arose
and putting out his paw, pulled the fox's tail, so that he fell
down into the pit with him. Then said the wolf, 'O fox of little
ruth, why didst thou exult over me, thou that wast my companion
and under my dominion? Now thou art fallen into the pit with me
and retribution hath soon overtaken thee. Verily, the wise have
said, "If one of you reproach his brother with sucking the teats
of a bitch, he also shall suck her," and how well saith the poet:

When fortune's blows on some fall hard and heavily, With others
of our kind as friend encampeth she.
So say to those who joy in our distress, "Awake; For those who
mock our woes shall suffer even as we."

And death in company is the best of things; wherefore I will make
haste to kill thee, ere thou see me killed.' 'Alas! Alas!' said
the fox in himself. 'I am fallen in with this tyrant, and my case
calls for the use of craft and cunning; for indeed it is said
that a woman fashions her ornaments for the festival day, and
quoth the proverb, "I have kept thee, O my tear, against the time
of my distress!" Except I make shift to circumvent this
overbearing beast, I am lost without recourse; and how well says
the poet:

Provide thee by craft, for thou liv'st in a time Whose folk are
as lions that lurk in a wood,
And set thou the mill-stream of knavery abroach, That the mill of
subsistence may grind for thy food,
And pluck the fruits boldly; but if they escape From thy grasp,
then content thee with hay to thy food.'

Then said he to the wolf, 'Hasten not to slay me, for that is not
my desert and thou wouldst repent it, O valiant beast, lord of
might and exceeding prowess! If thou hold thy hand and consider
what I shall tell thee, thou wilt know that which I purpose; but
if thou hasten to kill me, it will profit thee nothing and we
shall both die here.' 'O wily deceiver,' answered the wolf, 'how
hopest thou to work my deliverance and thine own, that thou
wouldst have me grant thee time? Speak and let me know thy
purpose.' 'As for my purpose,' replied the fox, 'it was such as
deserves that thou reward me handsomely for it; for when I heard
thy promises and thy confession of thy past ill conduct and
regrets for not having earlier repented and done good and thy
vows, shouldst thou escape from this thy stress, to leave harming
thy fellows and others and forswear eating grapes and other
fruits and devote thyself to humility and cut thy claws and break
thy teeth and don wool and offer thyself as a sacrifice to God
the Most High,--when (I say), I heard thy repentance and vows of
amendment, compassion took me for thee, though before I was
anxious for thy destruction, and I felt bound to save thee from
this thy present plight. So I let down my tail, that thou
mightest grasp it and make thine escape. Yet wouldst thou not put
off thy wonted violence and brutality nor soughtest to save
thyself by fair means, but gavest me such a tug that I thought my
soul would depart my body, so that thou and I are become involved
in the same stead of ruin and death. There is but one thing can
deliver us, to which if thou agree, we shall both escape; and
after it behoves thee to keep the vows thou hast made, and I will
be thy friend.' 'What is it thou hast to propose?' asked the
wolf. 'It is,' answered the fox, 'that thou stand up, and I will
climb up on to thy head and so bring myself nigh on a level with
the surface of the earth. Then will I give a spring and as soon
as I reach the ground, I will fetch thee what thou mayst lay hold
of and make thine escape.' 'I have no faith in thy word,'
rejoined the wolf, 'for the wise have said, "He who practices
trust in the place of hate, errs," and "He who trusts in the
faithless is a dupe; he who tries those that have been [already]
tried (and found wanting) shall reap repentance and his days
shall pass away without profit; and he who cannot distinguish
between cases, giving each its due part, his good fortune will be
small and his afflictions many." How well saith the poet:

Be thy thought ever ill and of all men beware; Suspicion of good
parts the helpfullest was e'er.
For nothing brings a man to peril and distress As doth the doing
good (to men) and thinking fair.

And another:

Be constant ever in suspect; 'twill save thee aye anew; For he
who lives a wakeful life, his troubles are but few.
Meet thou the foeman in thy way with open, smiling face; But in
thy heart set up a host shall battle with him do.

And yet another:

Thy worst of foes is thy nearest friend, in whom thou puttest
trust; So look thou be on thy guard with men and use them
warily aye.
'Tis weakness to augur well of fate; think rather ill of it. And
be in fear of its shifts and tricks, lest it should thee

'Verily,' said the fox, 'distrust is not to be commended in
every case; on the contrary, a confiding disposition is the
characteristic of a noble nature and its issue is freedom from
terrors. Now it behoves thee, O wolf, to put in practice some
device for thy deliverance from this thou art in and the escape
of us both will be better than our death: so leave thy distrust
and rancour; for if thou trust in me, one of two things will
happen; either I shall bring thee whereof to lay hold and escape,
or I shall play thee false and save myself and leave thee; and
this latter may not be, for I am not safe from falling into
some such strait as this thou art in, which would be fitting
punishment of perfidy. Indeed the adage saith, "Faith is fair and
perfidy foul." It behoves thee, therefore, to trust in me, for I
am not ignorant of the vicissitudes of Fortune: so delay not to
contrive some device for our deliverance, for the case is too
urgent for further talk.' 'To tell thee the truth,' replied the
wolf, 'for all my want of confidence in thy fidelity, I knew what
was in thy mind and that thou wast minded to deliver me, whenas
thou heardest my repentance, and I said in myself, "If what he
asserts be true, he will have repaired the ill he did: and if
false, it rests with God to requite him." So, behold, I accept
thy proposal, and if thou betray me, may thy perfidy be the cause
of thy destruction!' Then he stood upright in the pit and taking
the fox upon his shoulders, raised him to the level of the
ground, whereupon the latter gave a spring and lighted on the
surface of the earth. When he found himself in safety, he fell
down senseless, and the wolf said to him, 'O my friend, neglect
not my case and delay not to deliver me.' The fox laughed
derisively and replied, 'O dupe, it was but my laughing at thee
and making mock of thee that threw me into thy hands: for when I
heard thee profess repentance, mirth and gladness seized me and I
frisked about and danced and made merry, so that my tail fell
down into the pit and thou caughtest hold of it and draggedst me
down with thee. Why should I be other than a helper in thy
destruction, seeing that thou art of the host of the devil! I
dreamt yesterday that I danced at thy wedding and related my
dream to an interpreter, who told me that I should fall into a
great danger and escape from it. So now I know that my falling
into thy hand and my escape are the fulfilment of my dream, and
thou, O ignorant dupe, knowest me for thine enemy; so how canst
thou, of thine ignorance and lack of wit, hope for deliverance at
my hands, after all thou hast heard of harsh words from me, and
wherefore should I endeavour for thy deliverance, whenas the wise
have said, "In the death of the wicked is peace for mankind and
purgation for the earth?" Yet, but that I fear to reap more
affliction by keeping faith with thee than could follow perfidy,
I would do my endeavour to save thee.' When the wolf heard this,
he bit his paws for despite and was at his wit's end what to do.
Then he gave the fox fair words, but this availed nought; so he
said to him softly, 'Verily, you foxes are the most pleasant
spoken of folk and the subtlest in jest, and this is but a jest
of thine; but all times are not good for sport and jesting.' 'O
dolt,' answered the fox, 'jesting hath a limit, that the jester
overpasses not, and deem not that God will again give thee power
over me, after having once delivered me from thee.' Quoth the
wolf, 'It behoves thee to endeavour for my release, by reason of
our brotherhood and fellowship, and if thou deliver me, I will
assuredly make fair thy reward.' 'The wise say,' rejoined the
fox,' "Fraternize not with the ignorant and wicked, for he will
shame thee and not adorn thee,--nor with the liar, for if thou do
good, he will hide it, and if evil, he will publish it;" and
again, "There is help for everything but death: all may be
mended, save natural depravity, and everything may be warded off,
except Fate." As for the reward thou promisest me, I liken thee
therein to the serpent that fled from the charmer. A man saw her
affrighted and said to her, "What ails thee, O serpent?" Quoth
she, "I am fleeing from the serpent-charmer, who is in chase of
me, and if thou wilt save me and hide me with thee, I will make
fair thy recompense and do thee all manner of kindness." So he
took her, moved both by desire of the promised recompense and a
wish to find favour with God, and hid her in his bosom. When the
charmer had passed and gone his way and the serpent had no longer
any reason to fear, he said to her, "Where is the recompense thou
didst promise me? Behold, I have saved thee from that thou
dreadest." "Tell me where I shall bite thee," replied she, "for
thou knowest we overpass not that recompense." So saying, she
gave him a bite, of which he died. And I liken thee, O dullard,
to the serpent in her dealings with the man. Hast thou not heard
what the poet says?

Trust not in one in whose heart thou hast made wrath to abide And
thinkest his anger at last is over and pacified.
Verily vipers, though smooth and soft to the feel and the eye And
graceful of movements they be, yet death-dealing venom they

'O glib-tongue, lord of the fair face,' said the wolf, 'thou art
not ignorant of my case and of men's fear of me and knowest how I
assault the strong places and root up the vines. Wherefore, do as
I bid thee and bear thyself to me as a servant to his lord.' 'O
stupid dullard,' answered the fox, 'that seekest a vain thing, I
marvel at thy stupidity and effrontery, in that thou biddest me
serve thee and order myself towards thee as I were a slave bought
with thy money; but thou shalt see what is in store for thee, in
the way of breaking thy head with stones and knocking out thy
traitor's teeth.' So saying, he went up to a hill that gave upon
the vineyard and standing there, called out to the people of the
place, nor did he give over crying, till he woke them and they,
seeing him, came up to him in haste. He held his ground till they
drew near him and near the pit, when he turned and fled. So they
looked into the pit and spying the wolf, fell to pelting him with
heavy stones, nor did they leave smiting him with sticks and
stones and piercing him with lances, till they killed him and
went away; whereupon the fox returned to the pit and looking
down, saw the wolf dead: so he wagged his head for excess of joy
and chanted the following verses:

Fate took the soul o' the wolf and snatched it far away; Foul
fall it for a soul that's lost and perished aye!
How oft, O Gaffer Grim, my ruin hast thou sought! But unrelenting
bale is fallen on thee this day.
Thou fellst into a pit, wherein there's none may fall Except the
blasts of death blow on him for a prey.

Then he abode alone in the vineyard, secure and fearing no hurt.


A mouse and a weasel once dwelt in the house of a poor peasant,
one of whose friends fell sick and the doctor prescribed him
husked sesame. So he sought of one of his comrades sesame and
gave the peasant a measure thereof to husk for him; and he
carried it home to his wife and bade her dress it. So she steeped
it and husked it and spread it out to dry. When the weasel saw
the grain, he came up to it and fell to carrying it away to his
hole, nor stinted all day, till he had borne off the most of it.
Presently, in came the peasant's wife, and seeing great part of
the sesame gone, stood awhile wondering; after which she sat down
to watch and find out the cause. After awhile, out came the
weasel to carry off more of the grain, but spying the woman
seated there, knew that she was on the watch for him and said to
himself, 'Verily, this affair is like to end ill. I fear me this
woman is on the watch for me and Fortune is no friend to those
who look not to the issues: so I must do a fair deed, whereby I
may manifest my innocence and wash out all the ill I have done.'
So saying, he began to take of the sesame in his hole and carry
it out and lay it back upon the rest. The woman stood by and
seeing the weasel do thus, said in herself, 'Verily, this is not
the thief, for he brings it back from the hole of him that stole
it and returns it to its place. Indeed, he hath done us a
kindness in restoring us the sesame and the reward of those that
do us good is that we do them the like. It is clear that this is
not he who stole the grain. But I will not leave watching till I
find out who is the thief.' The weasel guessed what was in her
mind, so he went to the mouse and said to her, 'O my sister,
there is no good in him who does not observe the claims of
neighbourship and shows no constancy in friendship.' 'True, O my
friend,' answered the mouse, 'and I delight in thee and in thy
neighbourhood; but what is the motive of thy speech?' Quoth the
weasel, 'The master of the house has brought home sesame and has
eaten his fill of it, he and his family, and left much; every
living soul has eaten of it, and if thou take of it in thy turn,
thou art worthier thereof than any other.' This pleased the mouse
and she chirped and danced and frisked her ears and tail, and
greed for the grain deluded her; so she rose at once and issuing
forth of her hole, saw the sesame peeled and dry, shining with
whiteness, and the woman sitting watching, armed with a stick.
The mouse could not contain herself, but taking no thought to the
issue of the affair, ran up to the sesame and fell to messing it
and eating of it; whereupon the woman smote her with the stick
and cleft her head in twain: so her greed and heedlessness of the
issue of her actions led to her destruction."

"By Allah," said the Sultan to Shehrzad, "this is a goodly story!
Hast thou any story bearing upon the beauty of true friendship
and the observance of its obligations in time of distress and
rescuing from destruction?" "Yes, answered she; "it hath teached
me that


A crow and a cat once lived in brotherhood. One day, as they were
together under a tree, they spied a leopard making towards them,
of which they had not been ware, till he was close upon them. The
crow at once flew up to the top of the tree; but the cat abode
confounded and said to the crow, 'O my friend, hast thou no
device to save me? All my hope is in thee.' 'Indeed,' answered
the crow, 'it behoveth brethren, in case of need, to cast about
for a device, whenas any peril overtakes them, and right well
saith the poet:

He is a right true friend who is with thee indeed And will
himself undo, to help thee in thy need,
Who, when love's severance is by evil fate decreed, To join your
sundered lives will risk his own and bleed.'

Now hard by the tree were shepherds with their dogs; so the crow
flew towards them and smote the face of the earth with his wings,
cawing and crying out, to draw their attention. Then he went up
to one of the dogs and flapped his wings in his eyes and flew up
a little way, whilst the dog ran after him, thinking to catch
him. Presently, one of the shepherds raised his head and saw the
bird flying near the ground and lighting now and then; so he
followed him, and the crow gave not over flying just out of the
dogs' reach and tempting them to pursue and snap at him: but as
soon as they came near him, he would fly up a little; and so he
brought them to the tree. When they saw the leopard, they rushed
upon it, and it turned and fled. Now the leopard thought to eat
the cat, but the latter was saved by the craft of its friend the
crow. This story, O King, shows that the friendship of the
virtuous saves and delivers from difficulties and dangers.


A fox once dwelt in a cave of a certain mountain, and as often as
a cub was born to him and grew stout, he would eat it, for,
except he did so, he had died of hunger; and this was grievous to
him. Now on the top of the same mountain a crow had made his
nest, and the fox said to himself, 'I have a mind to strike up a
friendship with this crow and make a comrade of him, that he may
help me to my day's meat, for he can do what I cannot.' So he
made for the crow's stead, and when he came within earshot, he
saluted him, saying, 'O my neighbour, verily a true-believer
hath two claims upon his true-believing neighbour, that of
neighbourliness and that of community of faith; and know, O my
friend, that thou art my neighbour and hast a claim upon me,
which it behoves me to observe, the more that I have been long
thy neighbour. Moreover, God hath set in my breast a store of
love to thee, that bids me speak thee fair and solicit thy
friendship. What sayst thou?' 'Verily,' answered the crow, 'the
best speech is that which is soothest, and most like thou
speakest with thy tongue that which is not in thy heart. I fear
lest thy friendship be but of the tongue, outward, and shine
enmity of the heart, inward; for that thou art the Eater and I
the Eaten, and to hold aloof one from the other were more apt to
us than friendship and fellowship. What, then, maketh thee seek
that thou mayst not come at and desire what may not be, seeing
that thou art of the beast and I of the bird kind? Verily, this
brotherhood [thou profferest] may not be, neither were it
seemly.' He who knoweth the abiding-place of excellent things,'
rejoined the fox, 'betters choice in what he chooses therefrom,
so haply he may win to advantage his brethren; and indeed I
should love to be near thee and I have chosen thy companionship,
to the end that we may help one another to our several desires;
and success shall surely wait upon our loves. I have store of
tales of the goodliness of friendship, which, an it like thee, I
will relate to thee.' 'Thou hast my leave,' answered the crow;
'let me hear thy story and weigh it and judge of thine intent
thereby.' 'Hear then, O my friend,' rejoined the fox, 'that which
is told of a mouse and a flea and which bears out what I have
said to thee.' 'How so?' asked the crow. 'It is said,' answered
the fox, 'that

The Mouse and the Flea.

A mouse once dwelt in the house of a rich and busy merchant. One
night, a flea took shelter in the merchant's bed and finding his
body soft and being athirst, drank of his blood. The smart of the
bite awoke the merchant, who sat up and called to his serving men
and maids. So they hastened to him and tucking up their sleeves,
fell to searching for the flea. As soon as the latter was ware of
the search, he turned to flee and happening on the mouse's hole,
entered it. When the mouse saw him, she said to him, "What brings
thee in to me, seeing that thou art not of my kind and canst not
therefore be assured of safety from violence or ill-usage?"
"Verily," answered the flea, "I took refuge in thy dwelling from
slaughter and come to thee, seeking thy protection and not
anywise coveting thy house, nor shall aught of mischief betide
thee from me nor aught to make thee leave it. Nay, I hope to
repay thy favours to me with all good, and thou shalt assuredly
see and praise the issue of my words." "If the case be as thou
sayest," answered the mouse, "be at thine ease here; for nought
shall betide thee, save what may pleasure thee; there shall fall
on thee rain of peace alone nor shall aught befall thee, but what
befalls me. I will give thee my love without stint and do not
thou regret thy loss of the merchant's blood nor lament for thy
subsistence from him, but be content with what little of
sufficient sustenance thou canst lightly come by; for indeed this
is the safer for thee, and I have heard that one of the moral
poets saith as follows:

I have trodden the road of content and retirement And lived out
my life with whatever betided;
With a morsel of bread and a draught of cold water, Coarse salt
and patched garments content I abided.
If God willed it, He made my life easy of living; Else, I was
contented with what He provided."

"O my sister," rejoined the flea, "I hearken to thine injunction
and submit myself to yield thee obedience, nor have I power to
gainsay thee, till life be fulfilled, in this fair intent."
"Purity of intent suffices to sincere affection," replied the
mouse. So love befell and was contracted between them and after
this, the flea used (by night) to go to the merchant's bed and
not exceed moderation (in sucking his blood) and harbour with the
mouse by day in the latter's hole. One night, the merchant
brought home great store of dinars and began to turn them over.
When the mouse heard the chink of the coin, she put her head out
of her hole and gazed at it, till the merchant laid it under his
pillow and went to sleep, when she said to the flea, "Seest thou
not the favourable opportunity and the great good fortune! Hast
thou any device to bring us to our desire of yonder dinars?"
"Verily," answered the flea, "it is not good for one to strive
for aught, but if he be able to compass his desire; for if he
lack of ableness thereto, he falls into that of which he should
be ware and attains not his wish for weakness, though he use all
possible cunning, like the sparrow that picks up grain and falls
into the net and is caught by the fowler. Thou hast no strength
to take the dinars and carry them into thy hole, nor can I do
this; on the contrary, I could not lift a single dinar; so what
hast thou to do with them?" Quoth the mouse, "I have made me
these seventy openings, whence I may go out, and set apart a
place for things of price, strong and safe; and if thou canst
contrive to get the merchant out of the house, I doubt not of
success, so Fate aid me." "I will engage to get him out of the
house for thee," answered the flea and going to the merchant's
bed, gave him a terrible bite, such as he had never before felt,
then fled to a place of safety. The merchant awoke and sought for
the flea, but finding it not, lay down again on his other side.
Then came the flea and bit him again, more sharply than before.
So he lost patience and leaving his bed, went out and lay down on
the bench before the door and slept there and awoke not till the
morning. Meanwhile the mouse came out and fell to carrying the
dinars into her hole, till not one was left; and when it was day,
the merchant began to accuse the folk and imagine all manner of
things. And know, O wise, clear-sighted and experienced crow
(continued the fox), that I only tell thee this to the intent
that thou mayst reap the recompense of thy goodness to me, even
as the mouse reaped the reward of her kindness to the flea; for
see how he repaid her and requited her with the goodliest of
requitals.' Quoth the crow, 'It lies with the benefactor to show
benevolence or not; nor is it incumbent on us to behave kindly to
whoso seeks an impossible connection. If I show thee favour, who
art by nature my enemy, I am the cause of my own destruction, and
thou, O fox, art full of craft and cunning. Now those, whose
characteristics these are, are not to be trusted upon oath, and
he who is not to be trusted upon oath, there is no good faith in
him. I heard but late of thy perfidious dealing with thy comrade
the wolf and how thou leddest him into destruction by thy perfidy
and guile, and this though he was of thine own kind and thou
hadst long companied with him; yet didst thou not spare him; and
if thou didst thus with thy fellow, that was of thine own kind,
how can I have confidence in thy fidelity and what would be thy
dealing with thine enemy of other than thy kind? Nor can I liken
thee and me but to the Falcon and the Birds.' 'How so?' asked the
fox. 'They say,' answered the crow, 'that

The Falcon and the Birds.

There was once a falcon who was a cruel tyrant in the days of his
youth, so that the beasts of prey of the air and of the earth
feared him and none was safe from his mischief; and many were the
instances of his tyranny, for he did nothing but oppress and
injure all the other birds. As the years passed over him, he grew
weak and his strength failed, so that he was oppressed with
hunger; but his cunning increased with the waning of his strength
and he redoubled in his endeavour and determined to go to the
general rendezvous of the birds, that he might eat their
leavings, and in this manner he gained his living by cunning,
whenas he could do so no longer by strength and violence. And
thou, O fox, art like this: if thy strength fail thee, thy
cunning fails not; and I doubt not that thy seeking my friendship
is a device to get thy subsistence; but I am none of those who
put themselves at thy mercy, for God hath given me strength in my
wings and caution in my heart and sight in my eyes, and I know
that he who apeth a stronger than he, wearieth himself and is
often destroyed, wherefore I fear for thee lest, if thou ape a
stronger than thou, there befall thee what befell the sparrow.'
'What befell the sparrow?' asked the fox. 'I conjure thee, by
Allah, to tell me his story.' 'I have heard,' replied the crow,

The Sparrow and the Eagle.

A sparrow was once hovering over a sheep-fold, when he saw a
great eagle swoop down upon a lamb and carry it off in his claws.
Thereupon the sparrow clapped his wings and said, "I will do even
as the eagle hath done;" and he conceited himself and aped a
greater than he. So he flew down forthright and lighted on the
back of a fat ram, with a thick fleece that was become matted, by
his lying in his dung and stale, till it was like felt. As soon
as the sparrow lighted on the sheep's back, he clapped his wings
and would have flown away, but his feet became tangled in the
wool and he could not win free. All this while the shepherd was
looking on, having seen as well what happened with the eagle as
with the sparrow; so he came up to the latter in a rage and
seized him. Then he plucked out his wing-feathers and tying his
feet with a twine, carried him to his children and threw him to
them. "What is this?" asked they and he answered, "This is one
that aped a greater than himself and came to grief." Now thou, O
fox,' continued the crow, 'art like this and I would have thee
beware of aping a greater than thou, lest thou perish. This is
all I have to say to thee; so go from me in peace.' When the fox
despaired of the crow's friendship, he turned away, groaning and
gnashing his teeth for sorrow and disappointment, which when the
crow heard, he said to him, 'O fox, why dost thou gnash thy
teeth?' 'Because I find thee wilier than myself,' answered the
fox and made off to his den."

"O Shehrzad," said the Sultan, "how excellent and delightful are
these thy stories! Hast thou more of the like edifying tales?"
"It is said," answered she, "that


A hedgehog once took up his abode under a palm-tree, on which
roosted a pair of wood-pigeons, that had made their nest there
and lived an easy life, and he said to himself, 'These pigeons
eat of the fruit of the palm-tree, and I have no means of getting
at it; but needs must I go about with them.' So he dug a hole at
the foot of the palm-tree and took up his lodging there, he and
his wife. Moreover, he made a place of prayer beside the hole, in
which he shut himself and made a show of piety and abstinence and
renunciation of the world. The male pigeon saw him praying and
worshipping and inclined to him for his much devoutness and said
to him, 'How long hast thou been thus?' 'Thirty years,' replied
the hedgehog. 'What is thy food?' asked the bird and the other
answered, 'What falls from the palm-tree.' 'And what is thy
clothing?' asked the pigeon. 'Prickles,' replied the hedgehog; 'I
profit by their roughness.' 'And why,' continued the bird, 'hast
thou chosen this place rather than another?' 'I chose it,'
answered the hedgehog, 'that I might guide the erring into
the right way and teach the ignorant.' 'I had thought thee
other-guise than this,' rejoined the pigeon; but now I feel a
yearning for that which is with thee.' Quoth the hedgehog, 'I
fear lest thy deed belie thy speech and thou be even as the
husbandman, who neglected to sow in season, saying, "I fear lest
the days bring me not to my desire, and I shall only waste my
substance by making haste to sow." When the time of harvest came
and he saw the folk gathering in their crops, he repented him of
what he had lost by his tardiness and died of chagrin and
vexation.' 'What then shall I do,' asked the pigeon, 'that I
may be freed from the bonds of the world and give myself up
altogether to the service of my Lord?' 'Betake thee to preparing
for the next world,' answered the hedgehog, 'and content thyself
with a pittance of food.' 'How can I do this,' said the pigeon,
'I that am a bird and may not go beyond the palm-tree whereon is
my food? Nor, could I do so, do I know another place, wherein I
may abide.' Quoth the hedgehog, 'Thou canst shake down of the
fruit of the palm what shall suffice thee and thy wife for a
year's victual; then do ye take up your abode in a nest under the
tree, that ye may seek to be guided in the right way, and do ye
turn to what ye have shaken down and store it up against the time
of need; and when the fruits are spent and the time is long upon
you, address yourselves to abstinence from food.' 'May God
requite thee with good,' exclaimed the pigeon, 'for the fair
intent with which thou hast reminded me of the world to come and
hast directed me into the right way!' Then he and his wife busied
themselves in knocking down the dates, till nothing was left on
the palm-tree, whilst the hedgehog, finding whereof to eat,
rejoiced and filled his den with the dates, storing them up for
his subsistence and saying in himself, 'When the pigeon and his
wife have need of their provant, they will seek it of me,
trusting in my devoutness and abstinence; and from what they have
heard of my pious counsels and admonitions, they will draw near
unto me. Then will I seize them and eat them, after which I shall
have the place and all that drops from the palm-tree, to suffice
me.' Presently the pigeon and his wife came down and finding that
the hedgehog had carried off all the dates, said to him, 'O pious
and devout-spoken hedgehog of good counsel, we can find no sign
of the dates and know not on what else we shall feed.' 'Belike,'
replied the hedgehog, 'the winds have carried them away; but the
turning from the provision to the Provider is of the essence of
prosperity, and He who cut the corners of the mouth will not
leave it without victual.' And he gave not over preaching to them
thus and making a show of piety and cozening them with fine
words, till they put faith in him and entered his den, without
suspicion, where-upon he sprang to the door and gnashed his
tusks, and the pigeon, seeing his perfidy manifested, said to
him, 'What has to-night to do with yester-night? Knowest thou not
that there is a Helper for the oppressed? Beware of treachery and
craft, lest there befall thee what befell the sharpers who
plotted against the merchant.' 'What was that?' asked the
hedgehog. 'I have heard tell,' answered the pigeon, 'that

The Merchant and the Two Sharpers.

There was once in a city called Sendeh a very wealthy merchant,
who made ready merchandise and set out with it for such a city,
thinking to sell it there. There followed him two sharpers, who
had made up into bales what goods they could get and giving out
to him that they also were merchants, companied with him by the
way. At the first halting-place, they agreed to play him false
and take his goods; but, at the same time, each purposed inwardly
foul play to the other, saying in himself, "If I can cheat my
comrade, it will be well for me and I shall have all to myself."
So each took food and putting therein poison, brought it to his
fellow; and they both ate of the poisoned mess and died. Now they
had been sitting talking with the merchant; so when they left him
and were long absent from him, he sought for them and found them
both dead; whereby he knew that they were sharpers, who had
plotted to play him foul, but their treachery had recoiled upon
themselves; so the merchant was preserved and took what they

"O Shehrzad," said the Sultan, "verily thou hast aroused me to
all whereof I was negligent! Continue to edify me with these
fables." Quoth she, "It has come to my knowledge, O King, that


A certain man had a monkey and was a thief, who never entered one
of the markets of the city in which he dwelt, but he made off
with great purchase. One day, he saw a man offering for sale worn
clothes, and he went calling them in the market, but none bid for
them, and all to whom he showed them refused to buy of him.
Presently, the thief saw him put the clothes in a wrapper and sit
down to rest for weariness; so he made the ape sport before him,
and whilst he was busy gazing at it, stole the parcel from him.
Then he took the ape and made off to a lonely place, where he
opened the wrapper and taking out the old clothes, wrapped them
in a piece of costly stuff. This he carried to another market and
exposed it for sale with what was therein, making it a condition
that it should not be opened and tempting the folk with the
lowness of the price he set on it. A certain man saw the wrapper
and it pleased him; so he bought the parcel on these terms and
carried it home, doubting not but he had gotten a prize. When his
wife saw it, she said, 'What is this?' And he answered, 'It is
precious stuff, that I have bought below its worth, meaning to
sell it again and take the profit.' 'O dupe,' rejoined she,
'would this stuff be sold under its value, except it were stolen?
Dost thou not know that he who buys a ware, without examining it,
erreth? And indeed he is like unto the weaver.' 'What is the
story of the weaver?' asked he; and she said, 'I have heard tell

The Foolish Weaver.

There was once in a certain village a weaver who could not earn
his living save by excessive toil. One day, it chanced that a
rich man of the neighbourhood made a feast and bade the folk
thereto. The weaver was present and saw such as were richly clad
served with delicate meats and made much of by the master of the
house, for what he saw of their gallant array. So he said in
himself, "If I change this my craft for another, easier and
better considered and paid, I shall amass store of wealth and
buy rich clothes, that so I may rise in rank and be exalted in
men's eyes and become like unto these." Presently, one of the
mountebanks there climbed up to the top of a steep and lofty wall
and threw himself down, alighting on his feet; which when the
weaver saw, he said to himself, "Needs must I do as this fellow
hath done, for surely I shall not fail of it." So he climbed up
on to the wall and casting himself down to the ground, broke his
neck and died forthright. I tell thee this (continued the woman)
that thou mayst get thy living by that fashion thou knowest and
throughly understandest, lest greed enter into thee and thou lust
after what is not of thy competence.' Quoth he, 'Not every wise
man is saved by his wisdom nor is every fool lost by his folly. I
have seen a skilful charmer versed in the ways of serpents,
bitten by a snake and killed, and I have known others prevail
over serpents, who had no skill in them and no knowledge of their
ways.' And he hearkened not to his wife, but went on buying
stolen goods below their value, till he fell under suspicion and


There was once a sparrow, that used every day to visit a certain
king of the birds and was the first to go in to him and the last
to leave him. One day, a company of birds assembled on a high
mountain, and one of them said to another, 'Verily, we are waxed
many and many are the differences between us, and needs must we
have a king to order our affairs, so shall we be at one and our
differences will cease.' Thereupon up came the sparrow and
counselled them to make the peacock,--that is, the prince he used
to visit,--king over them. So they chose the peacock to their
king and he bestowed largesse on them and made the sparrow his
secretary and vizier. Now the sparrow was wont bytimes to leave
his assiduity [in the personal service of the king] and look into
affairs [in general]. One day, he came not at the usual time,
whereat the peacock was sore troubled; but presently, he returned
and the peacock said to him, 'What hath delayed thee, that art
the nearest to me of all my servants and the dearest?' Quoth the
sparrow, 'I have seen a thing that is doubtful to me and at which
I am affrighted.' 'What was it thou sawest?' asked the king; and
the sparrow answered, 'I saw a man set up a net, hard by my nest,
and drive its pegs fast into the ground. Then he strewed grain in
its midst and withdrew afar off. As I sat watching what he would
do, behold, fate and destiny drove thither a crane and his wife,
which fell into the midst of the net and began to cry out;
whereupon the fowler came up and took them. This troubled me, and
this is the reason of my absence from thee, O king of the age;
but never again will I abide in that nest, for fear of the net.'
'Depart not thy dwelling,' rejoined the peacock; 'for precaution
will avail thee nothing against destiny.' And the sparrow obeyed
his commandment, saying, 'I will take patience and not depart, in
obedience to the king.' So he continued to visit the king and
carry him food and water, taking care for himself, till one day
he saw two sparrows fighting on the ground and said in himself,
'How can I, who am the king's vizier, look on and see sparrows
fighting in my neighbourhood? By Allah, I must make peace between
them!' So he flew down to them, to reconcile them; but the fowler
cast the net over them and taking the sparrow in question, gave
him to his fellow, saying, 'Take care of him, for he is the
fattest and finest I ever saw.' But the sparrow said in himself,
'I have fallen into that which I feared and it was none but the
peacock that inspired me with a false security. It availed me
nothing to beware of the stroke of fate, since for him who taketh
precaution there is no fleeing from destiny; and how well says
the poet:

That which is not to be shall by no means be brought To pass, and
that which is to be shall come, unsought,
Even at the time ordained; but he that knoweth not The truth is
still deceived and finds his hopes grown nought.'


There lived once [at Baghdad] in the days of the Khalif Haroun er
Reshid a merchant named Aboulhusn Ali ben Tahir, who was great of
goods and grace, handsome and pleasant-mannered, beloved of all.
He used to enter the royal palace without asking leave, for all
the Khalif's concubines and slave-girls loved him, and he was
wont to company with Er Reshid and recite verses to him and tell
him witty stories. Withal he sold and bought in the merchants'
bazaar, and there used to sit in his shop a youth named Ali ben
Bekkar, a descendant of the ancient kings of Persia, who was fair
of face and elegant of shape, with rosy cheeks and joined
eyebrows, sweet of speech and laughing-lipped, a lover of mirth
and gaiety. It chanced one day, as they sat laughing and talking,
there came up ten damsels like moons, every one of them
accomplished in beauty and symmetry, and amongst them a young
lady riding on a mule with housings of brocade and golden
stirrups. She was swathed in a veil of fine stuff, with a girdle
of gold-embroidered silk, and was even as says the poet:

She hath a skin like very silk and a soft speech and sweet;
Gracious to all, her words are nor too many nor too few.
Two eyes she hath, quoth God Most High, "Be," and forthright they
were; They work as wine upon the hearts of those whom they
Add to my passion, love of her, each night; and, solacement Of
loves, the Resurrection be thy day of rendezvous!

The lady alighted at Aboulhusn's shop and sitting down there,
saluted him, and he returned her salute. When Ali ben Bekkar saw
her, she ravished his understanding and he rose to go away; but
she said to him, 'Sit in thy place. We came to thee and thou
goest away: this is not fair.' 'O my lady,' answered he, 'by
Allah, I flee from what I see; for the tongue of the case saith:

She's the sun and her dwelling's in heaven on high; Look, then,
to thine heart thou fair patience commend.
Thou mayst not climb up to her place in the sky, Nor may she to
thee from her heaven descend.'

When she heard this, she smiled and said to Aboulhusn, 'What is
the name of this young man?' 'He is a stranger,' answered he.
'What countryman is he?' asked she, and the merchant replied, 'He
is a descendant of the (ancient) kings of Persia; his name is Ali
ben Bekkar, and indeed it behoves us to use strangers with
honour.' 'When my damsel comes to thee,' rejoined she, 'come thou
at once to us and bring him with thee, that we may entertain him
in our abode, lest he blame us and say, "There is no hospitality
in the people of Baghdad:" for niggardliness is the worst fault
that a man can have. Thou hearest what I say to thee and if thou
disobey me, thou wilt incur my displeasure and I will never again
visit thee or salute thee.' 'On my head and eyes,' answered
Aboulhusn; 'God preserve me from thy displeasure, fair lady!'
Then she rose and went away, leaving Ali ben Bekkar in a state
of bewilderment. Presently, the damsel came and said to the
merchant, 'O my lord Aboulhusn, my lady Shemsennehar, the
favourite of the Commander of the Faithful Haroun er Reshid, bids
thee to her, thee and thy friend, my lord Ali ben Bekkar.' So he
rose and taking Ali with him, followed the girl to the Khalif's
palace, where she carried them into a chamber and made them sit
down. They talked together awhile, till she set trays of food
before them, and they ate and washed their hands. Then she
brought them wine, and they drank and made merry; after which she
bade them rise and carried them into another chamber, vaulted
upon four columns and adorned and furnished after the goodliest
fashion with various kinds of furniture and decorations, as it
were one of the pavilions of Paradise. They were amazed at the
rarities they saw and as they were gazing at these marvels, up
came ten damsels, like moons, with a proud and graceful gait,
dazzling the sight and confounding the wit, and ranged themselves
in two ranks, as they were of the houris of Paradise. After
awhile, in came ten other damsels, with lutes and other
instruments of mirth and music in their hands, who saluted the
two guests and sitting down, fell to tuning their instruments.
Then they rose and standing before them, played and sang and
recited verses: and indeed each one of them was a seduction to
the faithful. Whilst they were thus occupied, there entered other
ten damsels like unto them, high-bosomed and of an equal age,
with black eyes and rosy cheeks, joined eyebrows and languorous
looks, a seduction to the faithful and a delight to all who
looked upon them, clad in various kinds of coloured silks, with
ornaments that amazed the wit. They took up their station at the
door, and there succeeded them yet other ten damsels, fairer than
they, clad in gorgeous apparel, such as defies description; and
they also stationed themselves by the door. Then in came a band
of twenty damsels and amongst them the lady Shemsennehar, as she
were the moon among the stars, scarved with the luxuriance of her
hair and dressed in a blue robe and a veil of silk, embroidered
with gold and jewels. About her middle she wore a girdle set with
various kinds of precious stones, and she advanced with a
graceful and coquettish gait, till she came to the couch that
stood at the upper end of the chamber and seated herself thereon.
When Ali ben Bekkar saw her, he repeated the following couplets:

Yes, this is she indeed, the source of all my ill, For whom with
long desire I languish at Love's will.
Near her, I feel my soul on fire and bones worn waste For
yearning after her that doth my heart fulfih

Then said he to Aboulhusn, 'Thou hadst dealt more kindly with me
to have forewarned me of these things; that I might have prepared
my mind and taken patience to support what hath befallen me ;'
and he wept and groaned and complained. 'O my brother,' replied
Aboulhusn, 'I meant thee nought but good; but I feared to tell
thee of this, lest such transport should overcome thee as might
hinder thee from foregathering with her and intervene between
thee and her: but take courage and be of good heart, for she is
well disposed to thee and inclineth to favour thee.' 'What is the
lady's name?' asked Ali ben Bekkar. 'She is called Shemsennehar,'
answered Aboulhusn 'she is one of the favourites of the Commander
of the Faithful Haroun er Reshid and this is the palace of the
Khalifate.' Then Shemsennehar sat gazing upon Ali ben Bekkar's
charms and he upon hers, till each was engrossed with love of the
other. Presently, she commanded the damsels to sit; so they sat
down, each in her place, on a couch before one of the windows,
and she bade them sing; whereupon one of them took a lute and
sang the following verses:

Twice be the message to my love made known, And take the answer
from his lips alone.
To thee, O monarch of the fair, I come And stand, of this my case
to make my moan.
O thou my sovereign, dear my heart and life, That in my inmost
bosom hast thy throne,
Prithee, bestow a kiss upon thy slave; If not as gift, then even
as a loan.
I will repay it, (mayst thou never fail!) Even as I took it, not
a little gone.
Or, if thou wish for more than thou didst lend, Take and content
thee; it is all thine own.
May health's fair garment ever gladden thee, Thee that o'er me
the wede of woe hast thrown!

Her singing charmed Ali ben Bekkar, and he said to her, 'Sing me
more of the like of these verses.' So she struck the strings and
sang as follows:

By excess of estrangement, beloved mine, Thou hast taught long
weeping unto my eyne.
O joy of my sight and its desire, O goal of my hopes, my
worship's shrine,
Have pity on one, whose eyes are drowned In the sorrowful lover's
tears of brine!

When she had finished, Shemsennehar said to another damsel, 'Sing
us somewhat, thou.' So she played a lively measure and sang the
following verses:

His looks 'twas made me drunken, in sooth, and not his wine; And
the grace of his gait has banished sleep from these eyes of
'Twas not the wine-cup dazed me, but e'en his glossy curls; His
charms it was that raised me and not the juice o' the vine.
His winding browlocks have routed my patience, and my wit Is done
away by the beauties his garments do enshrine.[FN#5]

When Shemsennehar heard this, she sighed heavily, and the song
pleased her. Then she bade another damsel sing; so she took the
lute and chanted the following:

A face that vies, indeed, with heaven's lamp, the sun; The
welling of youth's springs upon him scarce begun.
His curling whiskers write letters wherein the sense Of love in
the extreme is writ for every one.
Beauty proclaimed of him, whenas with him it met, "A stuff in
God's best loom was fashioned forth and done!"

When she had finished, Ali Ben Bekkar. said to the damsel nearest
him, 'Sing us somewhat, thou.' So she took the lute and sang
these verses:

The time of union's all too slight For coquetry and prudish
Not thus the noble are. How long This deadly distance and
Ah, profit by the auspicious time, To sip the sweets of

Ali ben Bekkar followed up her song with plentiful tears; and
when Shemsennehar saw him weeping and groaning and lamenting, she
burned with love-longing and desire and passion and transport
consumed her. So she rose from the couch and came to the door of
the alcove, where Ali met her and they embraced and fell down
a-swoon in the doorway; whereupon the damsels came to them and
carrying them into the alcove, sprinkled rose-water upon them.
When they revived, they missed Aboulhusn, who had hidden himself
behind a couch, and the young lady said, 'Where is Aboulhusn?' So
he showed himself to her from beside the couch, and she saluted
him, saying, 'I pray God to give me the means of requiting thee
thy kindness!' Then she turned to Ali ben Bekkar and said to him,
'O my lord, passion has not reached this pass with thee, without
doing the like with me; but there is nothing for it but to bear
patiently what hath befallen us.' 'By Allah, O my lady,' rejoined
he, 'converse with thee may not content me nor gazing upon thee
assuage the fire of my heart, nor will the love of thee, that
hath mastered my soul, leave me, but with the passing away of my
life.' So saying, he wept and the tears ran down upon his cheeks,
like unstrung pearls. When Shemsennehar saw him weep, she wept
for his weeping; and Aboulhusn exclaimed, 'By Allah, I wonder at
your plight and am confounded at your behaviour; of a truth, your
affair is amazing and your case marvellous. If ye weep thus, what
while ye are yet together, how will it be when ye are parted?
Indeed, this is no time for weeping and wailing, but for
foregathering and gladness; rejoice, therefore, and make merry
and weep no more.' Then Shemsennehar signed to a damsel, who went
out and returned with handmaids bearing a table, whereon were
silver dishes, full of all manner rich meats. They set the table
before them, and Shemsennehar began to eat and to feed Ali ben
Bekkar, till they were satisfied, when the table was removed and
they washed their hands. Presently the waiting-women brought
censors and casting bottles and sprinkled them with rose-water
and incensed them with aloes and ambergris and other perfumes;
after which they set on dishes of graven gold, containing all
manner of sherbets, besides fruits and confections, all that the
heart can desire or the eye delight in, and one brought a flagon
of carnelian, full of wine. Then Shemsennehar chose out ten
handmaids and ten singing-women to attend on them and dismissing
the rest to their apartments, bade some of those who remained
smite the lute. They did as she bade them and one of them sang
the following verses:

My soul be a ransom for him who returned my salute with a smile
And revived in my breast the longing for union after
The hands of passion have brought my secret thoughts to the light
And that which is in my bosom unto my censors laid bare.
The very tears of my eyes press betwixt me and him, As though
they, even as I, enamoured of him were.

When she had finished, Shemsennehar rose and filling a. cup,
drank it off, then filled it again and gave it to Ali ben Bekkar;
after which she bade another damsel sing; and she sang the
following verses:

My tears, as they flow, are alike to my wine, as I brim it up!
For my eyes pour forth of their lids the like of what froths
in my cup.[FN#6]
By Allah, I know not, for sure, whether my eyelids it is Run over
with wine or else of my tears it is that I sup!

Then Ali ben Bekkar drank off his cup and returned it to
Shemsennehar. She filled it again and gave it to Aboulhusn, who
drank it off. Then she took the lute, saying, 'None shall sing
over my cup but myself.' So she tuned the strings and sang these

The hurrying tears upon his cheeks course down from either eye'
For very passion, and love's fires within his heart flame
He weeps whilst near to those he loves, for fear lest they
depart: So, whether near or far they be, his tears are never

And again:

Our lives for thee, O cupbearer, O thou whom beauty's self From
the bright parting of thy hair doth to the feet army!
The full moon[FN#7] from thy collar-folds rises, the
Pleiades[FN#8] Shine from thy mouth and in thine hands there
beams the sun of day.[FN#9]
I trow, the goblets wherewithal thou mak'st us drunk are those
Thou pourest to us from thine eyes, that lead the wit
Is it no wonder that thou art a moon for ever full And that thy
lovers 'tis, not thou, that wane and waste away?


Back to Full Books