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

Part 1 out of 8

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:



Delhi Edition

Contents of The Fourth Volume.

1. The Imam Abou Yousuf With Haroun er Reshid and his Vizier
2. The Lover Who Feigned Himself a Thief to save His Mistress's
3. Jaafer the Barmecide and the Bean-seller
4. Abou Mohammed the Lazy
5. Yehya Ben Khalid and Mensour
6. Yehya Ben Khalid and the Man Who Forged a Letter in His Name
7. The Khalif el Mamoun and the Strange Doctor
8. Ali Shar and Zumurrud
9. The Loves of Jubeir Ben Umeir and the Lady Budour
10. The Man of Yemen and His Six Slave Girls
11. Haroun er Reshid with the Damsel and Abou Nuwas
12. The Man Who Stole The Dog's Dish of Gold
13. The Sharper of Alexandria and the Master of Police
14. El Melik en Nasir and the Three Masters of Police
a. Story of the Chief of the New Cairo Police
b. Story of the Chief of the Boulac Police
c. Story of the chief of the Old Cairo Police
15. The Thief and the Money-Changer
16. The Chief of the Cous Police and the Sharper
17. Ibrahim Ben el Mehdi and the Merchant's Sister
18. The Woman Whose Hands Were Cut Off For Almsgiving
19. The Devout Israelite
20. Abou Hassan ez Ziyadi and the Man From Khorassan
21. The Poor Man and his Generous Friend
22. The Ruined Man Who Became Rich Again Through a Dream
23. El Mutawekkil and his Favourite Mehboubeh
24. Werdan the Butcher's Adventure with the Lady and the Bear
25. The King's Daughter and the Ape
26. The Enchanted Horse
27. Uns El Eoujoud and the Vizier's Daughter Rose-in-Bud
28. Abou Nuwas with the Three Boys and the Khalif Haroun er
29. Abdallah Ben Maamer with the Man of Bassora and His Slave
30. The Lovers of the Benou Udhreh
31. The Vizier of Yemen and His Young Brother
32. Loves of the Boy and Girl at School
33. El Mutelemmis and His Wife Umeimeh
34. Haroun er Reshid and Zubeideh in the Bath
35. Haroun er Reshid and the Three Poets
36. Musab Ben ez Zubeir and Aaisheh His Wife
37. Aboulasweh and His Squinting Slave Girl
38. Haroun er Reshid ad the Two Girls
39. Hroun er Reshid and the Three Girls
40. The Miller and his Wife
41. The Simpleton and the Sharper
42. The Imam Abou Yousuf with Haroun er Reshid and Zubeideh
43. The Khalif el Hakim and the Merchant
44. King Kisra Anoushirwan and the Village Damsel
45. The Water-Carrier and the Goldsmith's Wife
46. Khusrau and Shirin and the Fisherman
47. Yehya Ben Khalid and the Poor Man
48. Mohammed El Amin and Jaafer Ben el Hadi
49. Said Ben Salim and the Barmecides
50. The Woman's Trick Against Her Husband
51. The Devout Woman and the Two Wicked Elders
52. Jaafer the Barmecide and the Old Bedouin
53. Omar Ben Khettab and the Young Bedouin
54. El Mamoun and the Pyramids of Egypt
55. The Thief Turned Merchant and the Other Thief
56. Mesrour and Ibn El Caribi
57. The Devout Prince
58. The Schoolmaster Who Fell in Love by Report
59. The Foolish Schoolmaster
60. The Ignorant Man Who Set up For a Schoolmaster
61. The King and the Virtuous Wife
62. Abdurrehman the Moor's Story of the Roc
63. Adi Ben Zeid and the Princess Hind
64. Dibil el Khuzai With the Lady and Muslim Ben el Welid
65. Isaac of Mosul and the Merchant
66. The Three Unfortunate Lovers
67. The Lovers of the Benou Tai
68. The Mad Lover
69. The Apples of Paradise
70. The Loves of Abou Isa and Current El Ain
71. El Amin and His Uncle Ibrahim Ben el Mehdi
72. El Feth Ben Khacan and El Mutawekkil
73. The Man's Dispute with the Learned Woman of the Relative
Excellence of the Male and the Female
74. Abou Suweid and the Handsome Old Woman
75. Ali Ben Tahir and the Birl Mounis
76. The Woman Who Has a Boy and the Other Who Had a Man to Lover
77. The Haunted House in Baghdad
78. The Pilgrim and the Old Woman Who Dwelt in the Desert
79. Aboulhusn and His Slave Girl Taweddud



It is said that Jaafer the Barmecide was one night carousing with
Er Reshid, when the latter said to him, 'O Jaafer, I hear that
thou hast bought such and such a slave-girl. Now I have long
sought her and my heart is taken up with love of her, for she is
passing fair; so do thou sell her to me.' 'O Commander of the
Faithful,' replied Jaafer, 'I will not sell her.' 'Then give her
to me,' rejoined the Khalif. 'Nor will I give her,' answered
Jaafer. 'Be Zubeideh triply divorced,' exclaimed Haroun, 'if
thou shalt not either sell or give her to me!' Quoth Jaafer, 'Be
my wife triply divorced, if I either sell or give her to thee!'
After awhile they recovered from their intoxication and were ware
that they had fallen into a grave dilemma, but knew not how to
extricate themselves. Then said Er Reshid, 'None can help us in
this strait but Abou Yousuf.'[FN#1] So they sent for him, and
this was in the middle of the night. When the messenger reached
the Imam, he arose in alarm, saying in himself, 'I should not be
sent for at this hour, save by reason of some crisis in Islam.'
So he went out in haste and mounted his mule, saying to his
servant, 'Take the mule's nose-bag with thee; it may be she has
not finished her feed; and when we come to the Khalif's palace,
put the bag on her, that she may eat what is left of her fodder,
whilst I am with the Khalif.' 'I hear and obey,' replied the man.

So the Imam rode to the palace and was admitted to the presence
of Er Reshid, who made him sit down on the couch beside himself,
whereas he was used to seat none but him, and said to him, 'We
have sent for thee at this hour to advise us upon a grave matter,
with which we know not how to deal' And he expounded to him the
case. 'O Commander of the Faithful,' replied Abou Yousuf, 'this
is the easiest of things.' Then he turned to Jaafer and said to
him, 'O Jaafer, sell half of her to the Commander of the Faithful
and give him the other half; so shall ye both be quit of your
oaths.' The Khalif was delighted with this and they did as he
prescribed. Then said Er Reshid, 'Bring me the girl at once, for
I long for her exceedingly.' So they brought her and the Khalif
said to Abou Yousuf, 'I have a mind to lie with her forthright;
for I cannot endure to abstain from her during the prescribed
period of purification; how is this to be done?' 'Bring me one of
thine unenfranchised male slaves,' answered the Imam, 'and give
me leave to marry her to him; then let him divorce her before
consummation. So shall it be lawful for thee to lie with her
before purification.' This expedient pleased the Khalif yet more
than the first and he sent for the slave. When he came, Er Reshid
said to the Imam, 'I authorize thee to marry her to him.' So the
Imam proposed the marriage to the slave, who accepted it, and
performed the due ceremony; after which he said to the slave,
'Divorce her, and thou shalt have a hundred diners.' But he
refused to do this and the Imam went on to increase his offer,
till he bid him a thousand diners. Then said the slave to him,
'Doth it rest with me to divorce her, or with thee or the
Commander of the Faithful?' 'With thee,' answered the Imam.
'Then, by Allah,' quoth the slave, 'I will never do it!'

At this the Khalif was exceeding wroth and said to the Imam,
'What is to be done, O Abou Yousuf?' 'Be not concerned, O
Commander of the Faithful,' replied the Imam; 'the thing is easy.
Make this slave the damsel's property.' Quoth Er Reshid, 'I give
him to her;' and the Imam said to the girl, 'Say, "I accept."' So
she said, 'I accept:' whereupon quoth Abou Yousuf, 'I pronounce
divorce between them, for that he hath become her property, and
so the marriage is annulled.' With this, Er Reshid sprang to his
feet and exclaimed, 'It is the like of thee that shall be Cadi in
my time.' Then he called for sundry trays of gold and emptied
them before Abou Yousuf, to whom he said, 'Hast thou wherein to
put this ?' The Imam bethought him of the mule's nose-bag; so he
sent for it and filling it with gold, took it and went home; and
on the morrow, he said to his friends, 'There is no easier or
shorter road to the goods of this world and the next, than that
of learning; for, see, I have received all this money for
answering two or three questions.' Consider, then, O polite
[reader], the pleasantness of this anecdote, for it comprises
divers goodly features, amongst which are the complaisance of
Jaafer to Er Reshid and the wisdom[FN#2] of the Khalif and the
exceeding wisdom of Abou Yousuf, may God the Most High have mercy
on all their souls!


There came one day to Khalid ibn Abdallah el Kesri,[FN#3]
governor of Bassora, a company of men dragging a youth of
exceeding beauty and lofty bearing, whose aspect expressed good
breeding and dignity and abundant wit They brought him before the
governor, who asked what was to do with him, and they replied,
'This fellow is a thief, whom we caught last night in our
dwelling.' Khalid looked at him and was struck with wonder at his
well-favouredness and elegance; so he said to the others, 'Loose
him,' and going up to the young man, asked what he had to say for
himself. 'The folk have spoken truly,' answered he; 'and the case
is as they have said.' 'And what moved thee to this,' asked
Khalid, 'and thou so noble and comely of aspect?' 'The lust
after worldly good,' replied the other, 'and the ordinance of
God, glorified and exalted be He!' 'May thy mother be bereaved of
thee!' rejoined Khalid. 'Hadst thou not, in thy fair face and
sound sense and good breeding, what should restrain thee from
thieving?' 'O Amir,' answered the young man, 'leave this talk
and proceed to what God the Most High hath ordained; this is
what my hands have earned, and God is no oppressor of His
creatures.'[FN#4] Khalid was silent awhile, considering the
matter; then he said to the young man, 'Verily, thy confession
before witnesses perplexes me, for I cannot believe thee to be a
thief. Surely thou hast some story that is other than one of
theft. Tell it me'. 'O Amir,' replied the youth, 'deem thou
nought save what I have confessed; for I have no story other than
that I entered these folk's house and stole what I could lay
hands on, and they caught me and took the stuff from me and
carried me before thee.' Then Khalid bade clap him in prison and
commanded a crier to make proclamation throughout Bassora,
saying, 'Ho, whoso is minded to look upon the punishment of such
an one, the thief, and the cutting off of his hand, let him be
present tomorrow morning at such a place!'

When the youth found himself in prison, with irons on his feet,
he sighed heavily and repeated the following verses, whilst the
tears streamed from his eyes:

Khalid doth threaten me with cutting off my hand, Except I do
reveal to him my mistress' case.
But, "God forbid," quoth I, "that I should e'er reveal That which
of love for her my bosom doth embrace!"
The cutting-off my hand, for that I have confessed Unto, less
grievous were to me than her disgrace.

The warders heard him and went and told Khalid, who sent for the
youth after nightfall and conversed with him. He found him
well-bred and intelligent and of a pleasant and vivacious wit; so
he ordered him food and he ate. Then said Khalid, 'I know thou
hast a story to tell that is no thief's; so, when the Cadi comes
to-morrow morning and questions thee before the folk, do thou
deny the charge of theft and avouch what may avert the cutting-off
of thy hand; for the Prophet (whom God bless and preserve) saith,
"In cases of doubt, eschew [or defer] punishment."' Then he sent
him back to the prison, where he passed the night.

On the morrow, the folk assembled to see his hand cut off, nor
was there man or woman in Bassora but came forth to look upon his
punishment. Then Khalid mounted in company of the notables of the
city and others and summoning the Cadi, sent for the young man,
who came, hobbling in his shackles. There none saw him but wept
for him, and the women lifted up their voices in lamentation. The
Cadi bade silence the women and said to the prisoner, 'These
folk avouch that thou didst enter their dwelling and steal their
goods: belike thou stolest less than a quarter dinar?'[FN#5]
'Nay,' replied he, 'I stole more than that.' 'Peradventure,'
rejoined the Cadi, 'thou art partner with them in some of the
goods?' 'Not so,' replied the young man; 'it was all theirs. I
had no right in it.' At this Khalid was wroth and rose and smote
him on the face with his whip, applying this verse to his own

Man wisheth and seeketh his wish to fulfil, But Allah denieth
save that which He will.

Then he called for the executioner, who came and taking the
prisoner's hand, set the knife to it and was about to cut it off,
when, behold, a damsel, clad in tattered clothes, pressed through
the crowd of women and cried out and threw herself on the young
man. Then she unveiled and showed a face like the moon; whereupon
the people raised a mighty clamour and there was like to have
been a riot amongst them. But she cried out her loudest, saying,
'I conjure thee, by Allah, O Amir, hasten not to cut off this
man's hand, till thou have read what is in this scroll!' So
saying, she gave him a scroll, and he took it and read therein
the following verses:

O Khalid, this man is love-maddened, a cave of desire, Transfixed
by the glances that sped from the bows of my eye.
The shafts of my looks 'twas that pierced him and slew him;
indeed, He a bondsman of love, sick for passion and like for
to die.
Yea, rather a crime, that he wrought not, he choose to confess
Than suffer on her whom he cherished dishonour to lie.
Have ruth on a sorrowful lover; indeed he's no thief, But the
noblest and truest of mortals for passion that sigh.

When he had read this, he called the girl apart and questioned
her; and she told him that the young man was her lover and she
his mistress. He came to the dwelling of her people, thinking to
visit her, and threw a stone into the house, to warn her of his
coming. Her father and brothers heard the noise of the stone and
sallied out on him; but he, hearing them coming, caught up all
the household stuff and made as if he would have stolen it, to
cover his mistress's honour. 'So they seized him,' continued she,
'saying, "A thief!" and brought him before thee, whereupon he
confessed to the robbery and persisted in his confession, that he
might spare me dishonour; and this he did, making himself a
thief, of the exceeding nobility and generosity of his nature.'

'He is indeed worthy to have his desire,' replied Khalid and
calling the young man to him, kissed him between the eyes. Then
he sent for the girl's father and bespoke him, saying, 'O elder,
we thought to punish this young man by cutting off his hand; but
God (to whom belong might and majesty) hath preserved us from
this! and I now adjudge him the sum of ten thousand dirhems, for
that he would have sacrificed his hand for the preservation of
thine honour and that of thy daughter and the sparing you both
reproach. Moreover, I adjudge other ten thousand dirhems to thy
daughter, for that she made known to me the truth of the case;
and I ask thy leave to marry him to her.' 'O Amir,' rejoined the
old man, 'thou hast my consent.' So Khalid praised God and
thanked Him and offered up a goodly exhortation and prayer; after
which he said to the young man, 'I give thee this damsel to wife,
with her own and her father's consent; and her dowry shall be
this money, to wit, ten thousand dirhems. 'I accept this marriage
at thy hands,' replied the youth and Khalid let carry the money
on trays in procession to the young man's house, whilst the
people dispersed, full of gladness. And surely [quoth he who
tells the tale[FN#6]] never saw I a rarer day than this, for that
its beginning was weeping and affliction and its end joy and


When Haroun er Reshid put Jaafer the Barmecide to death, he
commanded that all who wept or made moan for him should be
crucified; so the folk abstained from this. Now there was a
Bedouin from a distant desert, who used every year to make and
bring to Jaafer an ode in his honour, for which he rewarded him
with a thousand diners; and the Bedouin took them and returning
to his own country, lived upon them, he and his family, for the
rest of the year. Accordingly, he came with his ode at the wonted
time and finding Jaafer done to death, betook himself to the
place where his body was hanging, and there made his camel kneel
down and wept sore and mourned grievously. Then he recited his
ode and fell asleep. In his sleep Jaafer the Barmecide appeared
to him and said, 'Thou hast wearied thyself to come to us and
findest us as thou seest; but go to Bassora and ask for such a
man there of the merchants of the town and say to him, "Jaafer
the Barmecide salutes thee and bids thee give me a thousand
diners, by the token of the bean."'

When the Bedouin awoke, he repaired to Bassora, where he sought
out the merchant and repeated to him what Jaafer had said in the
dream; whereupon he wept sore, till he was like to depart the
world. Then he welcomed the Bedouin and entertained him three
days as an honoured guest; and when he was minded to depart, he
gave him a thousand and five hundred diners, saying, 'The
thousand are what is commanded to thee, and the five hundred are
a gift from me to thee; and every year thou shalt have of me a
thousand diners.' When the Bedouin was about to take leave, he
said to the merchant, 'I conjure thee, by Allah, tell me the
story of the bean, that I may know the origin of all this.' 'In
the early part of my life,' replied the merchant, 'I was
miserably poor and hawked hot boiled beans about the streets of
Baghdad for a living.

I went out one cold, rainy day, without clothes enough on my body
to protect me from the weather, now shivering for excess of cold
and now stumbling into the pools of rain-water, and altogether in
so piteous a plight as would make one shudder to look upon. Now
it chanced that Jaafer was seated that day, with his officers and
favourites, in an upper chamber overlooking the street, and his
eye fell on me; so he took pity on my case and sending one of his
servants to fetch me to him, said to me, "Sell thy beans to my
people." So I began to mete out the beans with a measure I had
with me, and each who took a measure of beans filled the vessel
with gold pieces, till the basket was empty. Then I gathered
together the money I had gotten, and Jaafer said to me, "Hast
thou any beans left?" "I know not," answered I and sought in the
basket, but found only one bean. This Jaafer took and splitting
it in twain, kept one half himself and gave the other to one of
his favourites, saying, "For how much wilt thou buy this
half-bean?" "For the tale of all this money twice-told," replied
she; whereat I was confounded and said in myself, "This is
impossible." But, as I stood wondering, she gave an order to one
of her handmaids and the girl brought me the amount twice-told.
Then said Jaafer, "And I will buy my half for twice the sum of
the whole. Take the price of thy bean." And he gave an order to
one of his servants, who gathered together the whole of the money
and laid it in my basket; and I took it and departed. Then I
betook myself to Bassora, where I traded with the money and God
prospered me, to Him be the praise and the thanks! So, if I give
thee a thousand diners a year of the bounty of Jaafer, it will in
no wise irk me.' Consider then the munificence of Jaafer's nature
and how he was praised both alive and dead, the mercy of God the
Most High be upon him!


It is told that Haroun er Reshid was sitting one day on the
throne of the Khalifate, when there came in to him a youth of his
eunuchs, bearing a crown of red gold, set with pearls and rubies
and all manner other jewels, such as money might not buy, and
kissing the ground before him, said, 'O Commander of the
Faithful, the lady Zubeideh kisses the earth before thee and
saith to thee, thou knowest she hath let make this crown, which
lacks a great jewel for its top; and she hath made search among
her treasures, but cannot find a jewel to her mind.' Quoth the
Khalif to his chamberlains and officers, 'Make search for a
great jewel, such as Zubeideh desires.' So they sought, but found
nothing befitting her and told the Khalif, who was vexed thereat
and exclaimed, 'Am I Khalif and king of the kings of the earth
and lack of a jewel? Out on ye! Enquire of the merchants.' So
they enquired of the merchants, who replied, 'Our lord the Khalif
will not find a jewel such as he requires save with a man of
Bassora, by name Abou Mohammed the Lazy.' They acquainted the
Khalif with this and he bade his Vizier Jaafer send a letter to
the Amir Mohammed ez Zubeidi, governor of Bassora, commanding him
to equip Abou Mohammed the Lazy and bring him to Baghdad.

Jaafer accordingly wrote a letter to that effect and despatched
it by Mesrour, who set out forthright for Bassora and went in to
the governor, who rejoiced in him and entreated him with the
utmost honour. Then Mesrour read him the Khalif's mandate, to
which he replied, 'I hear and obey,' and forthwith despatched
him, with a company of his followers, to Abou Mohammed's house.
When they reached it, they knocked at the door, whereupon a
servant came out and Mesrour said to him, 'Tell thy master that
the Commander of the Faithful calls for him.' The servant went in
and told his master, who came out and found Mesrour, the Khalif's
chamberlain, and a company of the governor's men at the door. So
he kissed the earth before Mesrour and said, 'I hear and obey the
summons of the Commander of the Faithful; but enter ye my house.'
'We cannot do that,' replied Mesrour, 'save in haste; for the
Commander of the Faithful awaits thy coming.' But he said, 'Have
patience with me a little, till I set my affairs in order.' So,
after much pressure and persuasion, they entered and found the
corridor hung with curtains of blue brocade, figured with gold,
and Abou Mohammed bade one of his servants carry Mesrour to the
bath. Now this bath was in the house and Mesrour found its walls
and floor of rare and precious marbles, wrought with gold and
silver, and its waters mingled with rose-water. The servants
served Mesrour and his company on the most perfect wise and clad
them, on their going forth of the bath, in robes of honour of
brocade, interwoven with gold.

Then they went in to Abou Mohammed and found him seated in his
upper chamber upon a couch inlaid with jewels. Over his head hung
curtains of gold brocade, wrought with pearls and jewels, and the
place was spread with cushions, embroidered in red gold. When he
saw Mesrour, he rose to receive him and bidding him welcome,
seated him by his side. Then he called for food: so they brought
the table of food, which when Mesrour saw, he exclaimed, 'By
Allah, never saw I the like of this in the palace of the
Commander of the Faithful!' For indeed it comprised all manner of
meats, served in dishes of gilded porcelain. So they ate and
drank and made merry till the end of the day, when Abou Mohammed
gave Mesrour and each of his company five thousand diners; and on
the morrow he clad them in dresses of honour of green and
gold and entreated them with the utmost honour. Then said
Mesrour to him, 'We can abide no longer, for fear of the Khalif's
displeasure.' 'O my lord,' answered Abou Mohammed, 'have patience
with us till to-morrow, that we may equip ourselves, and we will
then depart with you.' So they tarried that day and night with
him; and next morning, Abou Mohammed's servants saddled him a
mule with housings and trappings of gold, set with all manner
pearls and jewels; whereupon quoth Mesrour in himself, 'I wonder
if, when he presents himself in this equipage before the
Commander of the Faithful, he will ask him how he came by all
this wealth.'

Then they took leave of Ez Zubeidi and setting out from Bassora,
fared on, without stopping, till they reached Baghdad and
presented themselves before the Khalif who bade Abou Mohammed be
seated. So he sat down and addressing the Khalif in courtly wise,
said to him, 'O Commander of the Faithful, I have brought with me
a present by way of homage: have I thy leave to produce it?'
'There is no harm in that,' replied the Khalif; whereupon Abou
Mohammed caused bring in a chest, from which he took a number of
rarities and amongst the rest, trees of gold, with leaves of
emerald and fruits of rubies and topazes and pearls. Then he
fetched another chest and brought out of it a pavilion of
brocade, adorned with pearls and rubies and emeralds and
chrysolites and other precious stones; its poles were of the
finest Indian aloes-wood, and its skirts were set with emeralds.
Thereon were depicted all manner beasts and birds and other
created things, spangled with rubies and emeralds and chrysolites
and balass rubies and other precious stones.

When Er Reshid saw these things, he rejoiced exceedingly, and
Abou Mohammed said to him, 'O Commander of the Faithful, deem not
that I have brought these to thee, fearing aught or coveting
aught; but I knew myself to be but a man of the people and that
these things befitted none save the Commander of the Faithful.
And now, with thy leave, I will show thee, for thy diversion,
something of what I can do.' 'Do what thou wilt,' answered Er
Reshid, 'that we may see.' 'I hear and obey,' said Abou Mohammed
and moving his lips, beckoned to the battlements of the palace,
whereupon they inclined to him; then he made another sign to
them, and they returned to their place. Then he made a sign with
his eye, and there appeared before him cabinets with closed
doors, to which he spoke, and lo, the voices of birds answered
him [from within]. The Khalif marvelled exceedingly at this and
said to him, 'How camest thou by all this, seeing that thou art
only known as Abou Mohammed the Lazy, and they tell me that thy
father was a barber-surgeon, serving in a public bath, and left
thee nothing?' 'O Commander of the Faithful,' answered he,
'listen to my story, for it is an extraordinary one and its
particulars are wonderful; were it graven with needles upon the
corners of the eye, it would serve as a lesson to him who can
profit by admonition.' 'Let us hear it,' said the Khalif.

'Know then, O Commander of the Faithful,' replied Abou Mohammed,
'(may God prolong to thee glory and dominion,) that the report of
the folk, that I am known as the Lazy and that my father left me
nothing, is true; for he was, as thou hast said, but a barber-
surgeon in a bath. In my youth I was the laziest wight on the
face of the earth; indeed, so great was my sluggishness that,
if I lay asleep in the sultry season and the sun came round upon
me, I was too lazy to rise and remove from the sun to the shade;
and thus I abode till I reached my fifteenth year, when my father
was admitted to the mercy of God the Most High and left me
nothing. However, my mother used to go out to service and feed me
and give me to drink, whilst I lay on my side.

One day, she came in to me, with five silver dirhems, and said to
me, "O my son, I hear that the Sheikh Aboul Muzeffer is about to
go a voyage to China." (Now this Sheikh was a good and charitable
man and loved the poor.) "So come, let us carry him these five
dirhems and beg him to buy thee therewith somewhat from the land
of China, so haply thou mayst make a profit of it, by the bounty
of God the Most High!" I was too lazy to move; but she swore by
Allah that, except I rose and went with her, she would neither
bring me meat nor drink nor come in to me, but would leave me to
die of hunger and thirst. When I heard this, O Commander of the
Faithful, I knew she would do as she said; so I said to her,
"Help me to sit up." She did so, and I wept the while and said to
her, "Bring me my shoes." Accordingly, she brought them and I
said, "Put them on my feet." She put them on my feet and I said,
"Lift me up." So she lifted me up and I said, "Support me, that I
may walk." So she supported me and I went along thus, still
stumbling in my skirts, till we came to the river-bank, where we
saluted the Sheikh and I said to him, "O uncle, art thou Aboul
Muzeffer?" "At thy service," answered he, and I said, "Take these
dirhems and buy me somewhat from the land of China: haply, God
may vouchsafe me a profit of it." Quoth the Sheikh to his
companions, "Do ye know this youth?" "Yes," replied they; "he is
known as Abou Mohammed the Lazy, and we never saw him stir from
his house till now." Then said he to me, "O my son, give me the
dirhems and the blessing of God the Most High go with them!" So
he took the money, saying, "In the name of God!" and I returned
home with my mother.

Meanwhile the Sheikh set sail, with a company of merchants, and
stayed not till they reached the land of China, where they bought
and sold, and having done their intent, set out on their homeward
voyage. When they had been three days at sea, the Sheikh said to
his company, "Stay the ship!" And they asked him what was to do
with him. "Know," replied he, "that I have forgotten the
commission with which Abou Mohammed the Lazy charged me; so let
us turn back, that we may buy him somewhat whereby he may
profit." "We conjure thee, by God the Most High," exclaimed they,
"turn not back with us; for we have traversed an exceeding great
distance and endured sore hardship and many perils." Quoth he,
"There is no help for it;" and they said "Take from us double the
profit of the five dirhems and turn not back with us." So he
agreed to this and they collected for him a great sum of money.

Then they sailed on, till they came to an island, wherein was
much people; so they moored thereto and the merchants went
ashore, to buy thence precious metals and pearls and jewels and
so forth. Presently, Aboul Muzeffer saw a man seated, with many
apes before him, and amongst them one whose hair had been plucked
off. As often as the man's attention was diverted from them, the
other apes fell upon the plucked one and beat him and threw him
on their master; whereupon the latter rose and beat them and
bound them and punished them for this; and all the apes were
wroth with the plucked ape therefor and beat him the more. When
Aboul Muzeffer saw this, he took compassion upon the plucked ape
and said to his master, "Wilt thou sell me yonder ape?" "Buy,"
replied the man, and Aboul Muzeffer rejoined, "I have with me
five dirhems, belonging to an orphan lad. Wilt thou sell me the
ape for that sum?" "He is thine," answered the ape-merchant. "May
God give thee a blessing of him!" So the Sheikh paid the money
and his slaves took the ape and tied him up in the ship.

Then they loosed sail and made for another island, where they
cast anchor; and there came down divers, who dived for pearls and
corals and other jewels. So the merchants hired them for money
and they dived. When the ape saw this, he did himself loose from
his bonds and leaping off the ship's side, dived with them;
whereupon quoth Aboul Muzeffer, "There is no power and no virtue
but in God the Most High, the Supreme! The ape is lost to us, by
the [ill] fortune of the poor fellow for whom we bought him." And
they despaired of him; but, after awhile, the company of divers
rose to the surface, and with them the ape, with his hands full
of jewels of price, which he threw down before Aboul Muzeffer,
who marvelled at this and said, "There hangs some great mystery
by this ape!"

Then they cast off and sailed till they came to a third island,
called the Island of the Zunonj,[FN#7] who are a people of the
blacks, that eat human flesh. When the blacks saw them, they
boarded them in canoes and taking all in the ship, pinioned them
and carried them to their king who bade slaughter certain of the
merchants. So they slaughtered them and ate their flesh; and the
rest passed the night in prison and sore concern. But, when it
was [mid]night, the ape arose and going up to Aboul Muzeffer, did
off his bonds. When the others saw him free, they said, "God
grant that our deliverance may be at thy hands, O Aboul
Muzeffer!" But he replied, "Know that he who at delivered me, by
God's leave, was none other than this ape; and I buy my release
of him at a thousand dinars." "And we likewise," rejoined the
merchants, "will pay him a thousand diners each, if he release
us." With this, the ape went up to them and loosed their bonds,
one by one, till he had freed them all, when they made for the
ship and boarding her, found all safe and nothing missing. So
they cast off and set sail; and presently Aboul Muzeffer said to
them, "O merchants, fulfil your promise to the ape." "We hear and
obey," answered they and paid him a thousand diners each, whilst
Aboul Muzeffer brought out to him the like sum of his own monies,
so that there was a great sum of money collected for the ape.

Then they fared on till they reached the city of Bassora, where
their friends came out to meet them; and when they had landed,
the Sheikh said, "Where is Abou Mohammed the Lazy?" The news
reached my mother, who came to me, as I lay asleep, and said to
me, "O my son, the Sheikh Aboul Muzeffer has come back and is now
in the city; so go thou to him and salute him and enquire what he
hath brought thee; it may be God hath blessed thee with
somewhat." "Lift me from the ground," quoth I, "and prop me up,
whilst I walk to the river-bank." So she lifted me up and I went
out and walked on, stumbling in my skirts, till I met the Sheikh,
who exclaimed, at sight of me, "Welcome to him whose money has
been the means of my delivery and that of these merchants, by
the will of God the Most High! Take this ape that I bought for
thee and carry him home and wait till I come to thee." So I
took the ape, saying in myself, "By Allah, this is indeed rare
merchandise!" and drove it home, where I said to my mother,
"Whenever I lie down to sleep, thou biddest me rise and trade;
see now this merchandise with thine own eyes."

Then I sat down, and presently up came Aboul Muzeffer's slaves
and said to me, "Art thou Abou Mohammed the Lazy?" "Yes,"
answered I; and behold, Aboul Muzeffer appeared behind them. So I
went up to him and kissed his hands; and he said to me, "Come
with me to my house." "I hear and obey," answered I and followed
him to his house, where he bade his servants bring me the money
[and what not else the ape had earned me]. So they brought it and
he said to me, "O my son, God hath blessed thee with this wealth,
by way of profit on thy five dirhems." Then the slaves laid the
treasure in chests, which they set on their heads, and Aboul
Muzeffer gave me the keys of the chests, saying, "Go before the
slaves to thy house; for all this wealth is thine." So I returned
to my mother, who rejoiced in this and said to me, "O my son, God
hath blessed thee with this much wealth; so put off thy laziness
and go down to the bazaar and sell and buy." So I shook off my
sloth, and opened a shop in the bazaar, where the ape used to sit
on the same divan with me, eating with me when I ate and drinking
when I drank. But, every day, he was absent from daybreak till
noon-day, when he came back, bringing with him a purse of a
thousand diners, which he laid by my side, and sat down. Thus did
he a great while, till I amassed much wealth, wherewith I bought
houses and lands and planted gardens and got me slaves, black and
white and male and female.

One day, as I sat in my shop, with the ape at my side, he began
to turn right and left, and I said in myself, "What ails the
beast?" Then God made the ape speak with a glib tongue, and he
said to me, "O Abou Mohammed!" When I heard him speak, I was sore
afraid; but he said to me, "Fear not; I will tell thee my case.
Know that I am a Marid of the Jinn and came to thee, because of
thy poor estate; but to-day thou knowest not the tale of thy
wealth; and now I have a need of thee, wherein it thou do my
will, it shall be well for thee." "What is it?" asked I, and he
said, "I have a mind to marry thee to a girl like the full moon."
"How so?" quoth I. "To. morrow," replied he, "don thou thy
richest clothes and mount thy mule, with the saddle of gold, and
ride to the forage-market. There enquire for the shop of the
Sherif[FN#8] and sit down beside him and say to him, 'I come to
thee a suitor for thy daughter's hand.' If he say to thee, 'Thou
hast neither money nor condition nor family,' pull out a thousand
diners and give them to him; and if he ask more, give him more
and tempt him with money." "I hear and obey," answered I;
"to-morrow, if it please God, I will do thy bidding."

So on the morrow I donned my richest clothes and mounting my mule
with trappings of gold, rode, attended by half a score slaves,
black and white, to the forage-market, where I found the Sherif
sitting in his shop. I alighted and saluting him, seated myself
beside him. Quoth he, "Haply, thou hast some business with us,
which we may have the pleasure of transacting?" "Yes," answered
I; "I have business with thee." "And what is it?" asked he. Quoth
I, "I come to thee as a suitor for thy daughter's hand." And he
said, "Thou hast neither money nor condition nor family;"
whereupon I pulled out a thousand diners of red gold and said to
him, "This is my rank and family; and he whom God bless and keep
hath said, 'The best of ranks is wealth.' And how well saith the

Whoso hath money, though it be but dirhems twain, his lips Have
learnt all manner speech and he can speak and fear no
His brethren and his mates draw near and hearken to his word And
'mongst the folk thou seest him walk, a glad and prideful
But for the money, in the which he glorieth on this wise,
Thou'dst find him, midst his fellow-men, in passing sorry
Yea, whensoe'er the rich man speaks, though in his speech he err,
'Thou hast not spoken a vain thing,' they say; 'indeed,
thou'rt right.'
But, for the poor man, an he speak, albeit he say sooth, They
say, 'Thou liest,' and make void his speech and hold it
For money, verily, in all the lands beneath the sun, With
goodliness and dignity cloth its possessors dight.
A very tongue it is for him who would be eloquent And eke a
weapon to his hand who hath a mind to fight."

When he heard this, he bowed his head awhile, then, raising it,
said, "If it must be so, I will have of thee other three thousand
diners." "I hear and obey," answered I and sent one of my
servants to my house for the money. When he came back with it, I
handed it to the Sherif, who rose and bidding his servants shut
his shop, invited his brother-merchants to the wedding; after
which he carried me to his house and drew up the contract of
marriage between his daughter and myself, saying to me, "After
ten days, I will bring thee in to her." So I went home rejoicing
and shutting myself up with the ape, told him what had passed;
and he said, "Thou hast done well."

When the time appointed by the Sherif drew near, the ape said to
me, "There is a thing I would fain have thee do for me; and
after, thou shalt have of me what thou wilt." "What is that?"
asked I. Quoth he, "At the upper end of the bridechamber stands a
cabinet, on whose door is a padlock of brass and the keys under
it. Take the keys and open the cabinet, in which thou wilt find a
coffer of iron, with four talismanic flags at its angles. In its
midst is a brass basin full of money, wherein is tied a white
cock with a cleft comb; and on one side of the coffer are eleven
serpents and on the other a knife. Take the knife and kill the
cock; cut away the flags and overturn the chest; then go back to
the bride and do away her maidenhead. This is what I have to ask
of thee." "I hear and obey," answered I and betook myself to the
Sherif's house.

As soon as I entered the bridechamber, I looked for the cabinet
and found it even as the ape had described it. Then I went in to
the bride and marvelled at her beauty and grace and symmetry, for
indeed they were such as no tongue can set forth. So I rejoiced
in her with an exceeding joy; and in the middle of the night,
when she slept, I rose and taking the keys, opened the cabinet.
Then I took the knife and killed the cock and threw down the
flags and overturned the coffer, whereupon the girl awoke and
seeing the closet open and the cock slain, exclaimed, "There is
no power and no virtue but in God the Most High, the Supreme! The
Marid hath gotten me!" Hardly had she made an end of speaking,
when the Marid came down upon the house and seizing the bride,
flew away with her; whereupon there arose a great clamour and in
came the Sherif, buffeting his face. "O Abou Mohammed," said he,
"what is this thou hast done? Is it thus thou requitest us? I
made the talisman in the cabinet in my fear for my daughter from
this accursed one; for these six years hath he sought to steal
away the girl, but could not. But now there is no more abiding
for thee with us; so go thy ways."

So I went out and returned to my own house, where I made search
for the ape, but could find no trace of him; whereby I knew that
he was the Marid, who had taken my wife and had tricked me into
destroying the talisman that hindered him from taking her, and
repented, rending my clothes and buffeting my face; and there was
no land but was straitened upon me. So I made for the desert,
knowing not whither I should go, and wandered on, absorbed in
melancholy thought, till night overtook me. Presently, I saw two
serpents fighting, a white one and a tawny. So I took up a stone
and throwing it at the tawny serpent, which was the aggressor,
killed it; whereupon the white serpent made off, but returned
after awhile accompanied by ten others of the same colour, which
went up to the dead serpent and tore it in pieces, till but the
head was left. Then they went their ways and I fell prostrate for
weariness on the ground where I stood; but, as I lay, pondering
my case, I heard a voice repeat the following verses, though I
saw no one:

Let destiny with slackened rein its course appointed fare And lie
thou down by night to sleep with heart devoid of care.
For, twixt the closing of the eyes and th' opening thereof, God
hath it in His power to change a case from foul to fair.

When I heard this, great concern got hold of me and I was beyond
measure troubled; and I heard a voice from behind me repeat these
verses also:

Muslim, whose guide's the Koran and his due, Rejoice, for succour
cometh thee unto.
Let not the wiles of Satan make thee rue, For we're a folk whose
creed's the One, the True.

Then said I, "I conjure thee by Him whom thou worshippest, let me
know who thou art!" Thereupon the unseen speaker appeared to me,
in the likeness of a man, and said, "Fear not; for the report of
thy good deed hath reached us, and we are a people of the
true-believing Jinn. So, if thou lack aught, let us know it, that
we may have the pleasure of fulfilling thy need." "Indeed,"
answered I, "I am in sore need, for there hath befallen me a
grievous calamity, whose like never yet befell man." Quoth he,
"Surely, thou art Abou Mohammed the Lazy?" And I answered, "Yes."
"O Abou Mohammed," rejoined the genie, "I am the brother of the
white serpent, whose enemy thou slewest. We are four brothers, by
one father and mother, and we are all indebted to thee for thy
kindness. Know that he who played this trick on thee, in the
likeness of an ape, is a Marid of the Marids of the Jinn; and had
he not used this artifice, he had never been able to take the
girl; for he hath loved her and had a mind to take her this long
while, but could not win at her, being hindered of the talisman;
and had it remained as it was, he could never have done so.
However, fret not thyself for that; we will bring thee to her and
kill the Marid; for thy kindness is not lost upon us."

Then he cried out with a terrible voice, and behold, there
appeared a company of Jinn, of whom he enquired concerning the
ape; and one of them said, "I know his abiding-place; it is in
the City of Brass, upon which the sun riseth not." Then said the
first genie to me, "O Abou Mohammed, take one of these our
slaves, and he will carry thee on his back and teach thee how
thou shalt get back the girl: but know that he is a Marid and
beware lest thou utter the name of God, whilst he is carrying
thee; or he will flee from thee, and thou wilt fall and be
destroyed." "I hear and obey," answered I and chose out one of
the slaves, who bent down and said to me, "Mount." So I mounted
on his back, and he flew up with me into the air, till I lost
sight of the earth and saw the stars as they were fixed mountains
and heard the angels glorifying God in heaven, what while the
Marid held me in converse, diverting me and hindering me from
pronouncing the name of God. But, as we flew, behold, one clad in
green raiment, with streaming tresses and radiant face, holding
in his hand a javelin whence issued sparks of fire, accosted me,
saying, "O Abou Mohammed, say, 'There is no god but God and
Mohammed is His apostle;' or I will smite thee with this

Now I was already sick at heart of my [forced] abstention from
calling on the name of God; so I said, "There is no god but God
and Mohammed is His apostle." Whereupon the shining one smote the
Marid with his javelin and he melted away and became ashes;
whilst I was precipitated from his back and fell headlong toward
the earth, till I dropped into the midst of a surging sea,
swollen with clashing billows. Hard by where I fell was a ship
and five sailors therein, who, seeing me, made for me and took me
up into the boat. They began to speak to me in some tongue I knew
not; but I signed to them that I understood not their speech. So
they fared on till ended day, when they cast out a net and caught
a great fish and roasting it, gave me to eat; after which they
sailed on, till they reached their city and carried me in to
their king, who understand Arabic. So I kissed the ground before
him, and he bestowed on me a dress of honour and made me one of
his officers. I asked him the name of the city, and he replied,
"It is called Henad and is in the land of China." Then he
committed me to his Vizier, bidding him show me the city, which
was formerly peopled by infidels, till God the Most High turned
them into stones; and there I abode a month's space, diverting
myself with viewing the place, nor saw I ever greater plenty of
trees and fruits than there.

One day, as I sat on the bank of a river, there accosted me a
horseman, who said to me, "Art thou not Abou Mohammed the Lazy?"
"Yes," answered I; whereupon, "Fear not," said he; "for the
report of thy good deed hath reached us." Quoth I, "Who art
thou?" And he answered, "I am a brother of the white serpent, and
thou art hard by the place where is the damsel whom thou
seekest." So saying, he took off his [outer] clothes and clad me
therein, saying, "Fear not; for he, that perished under thee, was
one of our slaves." Then he took me up behind him and rode on
with me, till we came to a desert place, when he said to me,
"Alight now and walk on between yonder mountains till thou seest
the City of Brass; then halt afar off and enter it not, till I
return to thee and teach thee how thou shalt do." "I hear and
obey," replied I and alighting, walked on till I came to the
city, the walls whereof I found of brass. I went round about it,
looking for a gate, but found none; and presently, the serpent's
brother rejoined me and gave me a charmed sword that should
hinder any from seeing me, then went his way.

He had been gone but a little while, when I heard a noise of
cries and found myself in the midst of a multitude of folk whose
eyes were in their breasts. Quoth they, "Who art thou and what
brings thee hither?" So I told them my story, and they said, "The
girl thou seekest is in the city with the Marid; but we know not
what he hath done with her. As for us, we are brethren of the
white serpent. But go to yonder spring and note where the water
enters, and enter thou with it; for it will bring thee into the
city." I did as they bade me and followed the water-course, till
it brought me to a grotto under the earth, from which I ascended
and found myself in the midst of the city. Here I saw the damsel
seated upon a throne of gold, under a canopy of brocade, midmost
a garden full of trees of gold, whose fruits were jewels of
price, such as rubies and chrysolites and pearls and coral.

When she saw me, she knew me and accosted me with the
[obligatory] salutation, saying, "O my lord, who brought thee
hither?" So I told her all that had passed and she said, "Know
that the accursed Marid, of the greatness of his love for me,
hath told me what doth him hurt and what profit and that there is
here a talisman by means whereof he could, an he would, destroy
this city and all that are therein. It is in the likeness of an
eagle, with I know not what written on it, and whoso possesses
it, the Afrits will do his commandment in everything. It stands
upon a column in such a place; so go thou thither and take it.
Then set it before thee and taking a chafing-dish, throw into it
a little musk, whereupon there will arise a smoke, that will draw
all the Afrits to thee, and they will all present themselves
before thee, nor shall one be absent; and whatsoever thou biddest
them, that will they do. Arise therefore and do this thing, with
the blessing of God the Most High."

"I hear and obey," answered I and going to the column, did what
she bade me, whereupon the Afrits presented themselves, saying,
"Here are we, O our lord! Whatsoever thou biddest us, that will
we do." Quoth I, "Bind the Marid that brought the damsel hither."
"We hear and obey," answered they and disappearing, returned
after awhile and informed me that they had done my bidding. Then
I dismissed them and returning to my wife, told her what had
happened and said to her, "Wilt thou go with me?" "Yes," answered
she. So I carried her forth of the city, by the underground
channel, and we fared on, till we fell in with the folk who had
shown me the way into the city. I besought them to teach me how I
should return to my native land; so they brought us to the
seashore and set us aboard a ship, which sailed on with us with a
fair wind, till we reached the city of Bassora. Here we landed,
and I carried my wife to her father's house; and when her people
saw her, they rejoiced with an exceeding joy. Then I fumigated
the eagle with musk and the Afrits flocked to me from all sides,
saying, "At thy service; what wilt thou have us do?" I bade them
transport all that was in the City of Brass of gold and silver
and jewels and precious things to my house in Bassora, which they
did; and I then ordered them to fetch the ape. So they brought
him before me, abject and humiliated, and I said to him, "O
accursed one, why hast thou dealt thus perfidiously with me?"
Then I commanded the Afrits to shut him in a brazen vessel: so
they put him in a strait vessel of brass and sealed it with lead.
But I abode with my wife in joy and delight; and now, O Commander
of the Faithful, I have under my hand such stores of precious
things and rare jewels and other treasure as neither reckoning
may comprise nor measure suffice unto. All this is of the bounty
of God the Most High, and if thou desire aught of money or what
not, I will bid the Jinn bring it to thee forthright.'

The Khalif wondered greatly at his story and bestowed on him
royal gifts, in exchange for his presents, and entreated him with
the favour he deserved.


It is told that Haroun er Reshid, in the days before he became
jealous of the Barmecides, sent once for one of his guards, Salih
by name, and said to him, 'O Salih, go to Mensour[FN#9] and say
to him, "Thou owest us a thousand thousand dirhems and we require
of thee immediate payment of the amount." And I charge thee, O
Salih, an he pay it not before sundown, sever his head from his
body and bring it to me.' 'I hear and obey,' answered Salih and
going to Mensour, acquainted him with what the Khalif had said,
whereupon quoth he, 'By Allah, I am a lost man; for all my estate
and all my hand owns, if sold for their utmost value, would not
fetch more than a hundred thousand dirhems. Whence then, O Salih,
shall I get the other nine hundred thousand?' 'Contrive how thou
mayst speedily acquit thyself,' answered Salih; 'else art thou a
dead man; for I cannot grant thee a moment's delay after the time
appointed me by the Khalif, nor can I fail of aught that he hath
enjoined on me. Hasten, therefore, to devise some means of saving
thyself ere the time expire.' 'O Salih,' quoth Mensour, 'I beg
thee of thy favour to bring me to my house, that I may take
leave of my children and family and give my kinsfolk my last

So he carried him to his house, where he fell to bidding his
family farewell, and the house was filled with a clamour of
weeping and lamentation and calling on God for help. Then Salih
said to him, 'I have bethought me that God may peradventure
vouchsafe thee relief at the hands of the Barmecides. Come, let
us go to the house of Yehya ben Khalid.' So they went to Yehya's
house, and Mensour told him his case, whereat he was sore
concerned and bowed his head awhile; then raising it, he called
his treasurer and said to him, 'How much money have we in our
treasury?' 'Five thousand dirhems,' answered the treasurer, and
Yehya bade him bring them and sent a message to his son Fezl,
saying, 'I am offered for sale estates of great price, that may
never be laid waste; so send me somewhat of money.' Fezl sent him
a thousand thousand dirhems, and he despatched a like message to
his son Jaafer, who also sent him a thousand thousand dirhems;
nor did he leave sending to his kinsmen of the Barmecides, till
he had collected from them a great sum of mosey for Mensour. But
the latter and Salih knew not of this; and Mensour said to Yehya,
'O my lord, I have laid hold upon thy skirt for I know not
whither to look for the money but to thee; so discharge thou the
rest of my debt for me, in accordance with thy wonted generosity,
and make me thy freed slave.' Thereupon Yehya bowed his head and
wept; then he said to a page, 'Harkye, boy, the Commander of the
Faithful gave our slave-girl Denanir a jewel of great price: go
thou to her and bid her send it us.' The page went out and
presently returned with the jewel, whereupon quoth Yehya, 'O
Mensour, I bought this jewel of the merchants for the Commander
of the Faithful, for two hundred thousand diners, and he gave it
to our slave-girl Denanir the lutanist. When he sees it with
thee, he will know it and spare thy life and do thee honour for
our sake; and now thy money is complete.'

So Salih took the money and the jewel and carried them to the
Khalif, together with Mensour; but on the way? he heard the
latter repeat this verse, applying it to his own case:

It was not love, indeed, my feet to them that led; Nay, but
because the stroke of th' arrows I did dread.

When Salih heard this, he marvelled at the baseness and
ingratitude of Mensour's nature, and turning upon him, said,
'There is none on the face of the earth better than the
Barmecides, nor any baser nor more depraved than thou; for they
bought thee off from death and saved thee from destruction,
giving thee what should deliver thee; yet thou thankest them not
nor praisest them, neither acquittest thee after the manner of
the noble; nay, thou requitest their benevolence with this
speech.' Then he went to Er Reshid and acquainted him with all
that had passed; and he marvelled at the generosity and
benevolence of Yehya ben Khalid and the baseness and ingratitude
of Mensour and bade restore the jewel to Yehya, saying, 'That
which we have given, it befits not that we take again.'

So Salih returned to Yehya, and acquainted him with Mensour's ill
conduct; whereupon, 'O Salih,' replied he, 'when a man is in
distress, sick at heart and distracted with melancholy thought.
he is not to be blamed for aught that falls from him; for it
comes not from the heart.' And he fell to seeking excuse for
Mensour. But Salih wept [in telling the tale] and exclaimed,
'Never shall the revolving sphere bring forth into being the like
of thee, O Yehya! Alas, that one of such noble nature and
generosity should be buried beneath the earth! 'And he repeated
the following verses:

Hasten to do the kindnesses thou hast a mind unto; For bounty is
not possible at every tide and hour.
How many a man denies his soul to do the generous deed, To which
it's fain, till lack of means deprive him of the power!


There was between Yehya ben Khalid and Abdallah ben Malik el
Khuzai[FN#10] a secret enmity, the reason whereof was that Haroun
er Reshid loved the latter with an exceeding love, so that Yehya
and his sons were wont to say that he had bewitched the Khalif;
and thus they abode a long while, with rancour in their hearts,
till it fell out that the Khalif invested Abdallah with the
government of Armenia and sent him thither. Soon after he had
established himself in his seat of government, there came to him
one of the people of Irak, a man of excellent parts and good
breeding, who had lost his wealth and wasted his substance, and
his estate was come to nought; so he forged a letter to Abdallah
in Yehya's name and set out therewith for Armenia. When he came
to the governor's gate, he gave the letter to one of the
chamberlains, who carried it to his master. Abdallah read it and
considering it attentively, knew it to be forged; so he sent for
the man, who presented himself before him and called down
blessings upon him and praised him and those of his court. Quoth
Abdallah to him, 'What moved thee to weary thyself thus and bring
me a forged letter? But be of good heart; for we will not
disappoint thy travail.' 'God prolong the life of our lord the
Vizier!' replied the other. 'If my coming irk thee, cast not
about for a pretext to repel me, for God's earth is wide and the
Divine Provider liveth. Indeed, the letter I bring thee from
Yehya ben Khalid is true and no forgery.' Quoth Abdallah, 'I will
write a letter to my agent at Baghdad and bid him enquire
concerning the letter. If it be true, as thou sayest, I will
bestow on thee the government of one of my cities; or, if thou
prefer a present, I will give thee two hundred thousand dirhems,
besides horses and camels of price and a robe of honour. But, if
the letter prove a forgery, I will have thee beaten with two
hundred blows of a stick and thy beard shaven.'

Accordingly, he bade confine him in a privy chamber and furnish
him therein with all he needed, till his case should be made
manifest. Then he despatched a letter to his agent at Baghdad, to
the following purport: 'There is come to me a man with a letter
purporting to be from Yehya ben Khalid. Now I have my doubts of
this letter: so delay thou not, but go thyself and learn the
truth of the case and let me have an answer in all speed.' When
the letter reached the agent, he mounted at once and betook
himself to the house of Yehya ben Khalid, whom he found sitting
with his officers and boon-companions. So he gave him the letter
and he read it and said to the agent, 'Come back to me to-morrow,
against I write thee an answer.'

When the agent had gone away, Yehya turned to his companions and
said, 'What doth he deserve who forgeth a letter in my name and
carrieth it to my enemy?' They all answered, saying this and
that, each proposing some kind of punishment; but Yehya said, 'Ye
err in that ye say and this your counsel is of the meanness and
baseness of your spirits. Ye all know the close favour of
Abdallah with the Khalif and what is between him and us of
despite and enmity; and now God the Most High hath made this man
an intermediary, to effect a reconciliation between us, and hath
appointed him to quench the fire of hate in our hearts, which
hath been growing this score years; and by his means our
differences shall be accorded. Wherefore it behoves me to requite
him by confirming his expectation and amending his estate; so I
will write him a letter to Abdallah, to the intent that he may
use him with increase of honour and liberality.'

When his companions heard what he said, they called down
blessings on him and marvelled at his generosity and the
greatness of his magnanimity. Then he called for paper and ink
and wrote Abdallah a letter in his own hand, to the following
effect: 'In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful! Thy
letter hath reached me (may God give thee long life!) and I have
read it and rejoice in thy health and well-being. It was thy
thought that yonder worthy man had forged a letter in my name and
that he was not the bearer of any message from me; but the case
is not so, for the letter I myself wrote, and it was no forgery;
and I hope, of thy courtesy and benevolence and the nobility of
thy nature, that thou wilt fulfil this generous and excellent man
of his hope and wish and use him with the honour he deserves and
bring him to his desire and make him the special object of thy
favour and munificence. Whatever thou dost with him, it is to me
that thou dost it, and I am beholden to thee accordingly.' Then
he superscribed the letter and sealing it, delivered it to the
agent, who despatched it to Abdallah.

When the latter read it, he was charmed with its contents and
sending for the man, said to him, 'Now will I give thee which
thou wilt of the two things I promised thee.' 'The gift were more
acceptable to me than aught else,' replied the man; whereupon
Abdallah ordered him two hundred thousand dirhems and ten Arab
horses, five with housings of silk and other five with richly
ornamented saddles of state, besides twenty chests of clothes and
ten mounted white slaves and a proportionate quantity of jewels
of price. Moreover, he bestowed on him a dress of honour and sent
him to Baghdad in great state. When he came thither, he repaired
to Yehya's house, before he went to his own folk, and sought an
audience of him. So the chamberlain went in to Yehya and said to
him, 'O my lord, there is one at our door who craves speech of
thee; and he is a man of apparent wealth and consideration,
comely of aspect and attended by many servants.' Yehya bade admit
him; so he entered and kissed the ground before him. 'Who art
thou?' asked Yehya; and he answered, 'O my lord, I am one who was
dead from the tyranny of fortune; but thou didst raise me again
from the grave of calamities and preferredst me to the paradise
of [my] desires. I am he who forged a letter in thy name and
carried it to Abdallah ben Malek el Khuzai.' 'How hath he dealt
with thee,' asked Yehya, 'and what did he give thee?' Quoth the
man, 'He hath made me rich and overwhelmed me with presents and
favours, thanks to thee and thy great generosity and magnanimity
and to thine exceeding goodness and abounding munificence and
thine all-embracing liberality. And now, behold, I have brought
all that he gave me, and it is at thy door; for it is thine to
command, and the decision is in thy hand.' 'Thou hast done me
better service than I thee,' rejoined Yehya; 'and I owe thee
thanks without stint and abundant largesse, for that thou hast
changed the enmity that was between me and yonder man of worship
into love and friendship. Wherefore I will give thee the like of
what Abdallah gave thee.' Then he ordered him money and horses
and apparel, such as Abdallah had given him; and thus that man's
fortune was restored to him by the munificence of these two
generous men.


It is said that there was none, among the Khalifs of the house of
Abbas, more accomplished in all branches of knowledge than El
Mamoun. On two days in each week, he was wont to preside at
conferences of the learned, when the doctors and theologians met
and sitting, each in his several rank and room, disputed in his
presence. One day, as he sat thus, there came into the assembly a
stranger, clad in worn white clothes, and sat down in an obscure
place, behind the doctors of the law. Then the assembled scholars
began to speak and expound difficult questions, it being the
custom that the various propositions should be submitted to each
in turn and that whoso bethought him of some subtle addition or
rare trait, should make mention of it. So the question went round
till it came to the stranger, who spoke in his turn and made a
goodlier answer than that of any of the doctors; and the Khalif
approved his speech and bade advance him to a higher room. When
the second question came round to him, he made a still more
admirable answer, and the Khalif ordered him to be preferred to a
yet higher place. When the third question reached him, he made
answer more justly and appropriately than on the two previous
occasions, and El Mamoun bade him come up and sit near himself.
When the conference broke up, water was brought and they washed
their hands; after which food was set on and they ate. Then the
doctors arose and withdrew; but El Mamoun forbade the stranger to
depart with them and calling him to himself, entreated him with
especial favour and promised him honour and benefits.

Presently, they made ready the banquet of wine; the fair-faced
boon-companions came and the cup went round amongst them till it
came to the stranger, who rose to his feet and said, 'If the
Commander of the Faithful permit me, I will say one word.' 'Say
what thou wilt,' answered the Khalif. Quoth the stranger,
'Verily, the Exalted Intelligence[FN#11] (whose eminence God
increase!) knoweth that his slave was this day, in the august
assembly, one of the unknown folk and of the meanest of the
company, and the Commander of the Faithful distinguished him and
brought him near to himself, little as was the wit he showed,
preferring him above the rest and advancing him to a rank whereto
his thought aspired not: and now he is minded to deprive him of
that small portion of wit that raised him from obscurity and
augmented him, after his littleness. God forfend that the
Commander of the Faithful should envy his slave what little he
hath of understanding and worth and renown! But, if his slave
should drink wine, his reason would depart from him and ignorance
draw near to him and steal away his good breeding; so would he
revert to that low degree, whence he sprang, and become
contemptible and ridiculous in the eyes of the folk. I hope,
therefore, that the August Intelligence, of his power and bounty
and royal generosity and magnanimity, will not despoil his slave
of this jewel.'

When the Khalif heard his speech, he praised him and thanked him
and making him sit down again in his place, showed him high
honour and ordered him a present of a hundred thousand diners.
Moreover he mounted him upon a horse and gave him rich apparel;
and in every assembly he exalted him and showed him favour over
all the other doctors, till he became the highest of them all in


There lived once, of old days, in the land of Khorassan, a
merchant called Mejdeddin, who had great wealth and many slaves
and servants, black and white; but he was childless until he
reached the age of threescore, when God the Most High vouchsafed
him a son, whom he named Ali Shar. The boy grew up like the moon
on the night of its full, and when he came to man's estate and
was endowed with all kinds of perfection, his father fell sick of
a mortal malady and calling his son to him, said to him, 'O my
son, the hour of my death is at hand, and I desire to give thee
my last injunctions.' 'And what are they, O my father?' asked
Ali. 'O my son,' answered Mejdeddin, 'I charge thee, be not [too]
familiar with any and eschew what leads to evil and mischief.
Beware lest thou company with the wicked; for he is like the
blacksmith; if his fire burn thee not, his smoke irks thee: and
how excellent is the saying of the poet:

There is no man in all the world whose love thou shouldst desire,
No friend who, if fate play thee false, will true and
constant be.
Wherefore I'd have thee live apart and lean for help on none. In
this I give thee good advice; so let it profit thee.

And what another saith:

Men are a latent malady; Count not on them, I counsel thee.
An if thou look into their case, They're full of guile and

And yet a third:

The company of men will profit thee in nought, Except to pass
away the time in idle prate;
So spare thou to converse with them, except it be For gain of
lore and wit or mending of estate.

And a fourth

If a quickwitted man have made proof of mankind, I have eaten of
them, where but tasted hath he,
And have seen their affection but practice and nought But
hypocrisy found their religion to be.'

'O my father,' said Ali, 'I hear and obey: what more shall I do?'
'Do good when thou art able thereto,' answered his father; 'be
ever courteous and succourable to men and profit by all occasions
of doing a kindness; for a design is not always easy of
accomplishment; and how well saith the poet:

'Tis not at every time and season that to do Kind offices,
indeed, is easy unto you;
So, when the occasion serves, make haste to profit by't, Lest by
and by the power should fail thee thereunto.'

'I hear and obey,' answered Ali; 'what more?' 'Be mindful of
God,' continued Mejdeddin, 'and He will be mindful of thee.
Husband thy wealth and squander it not; for, if thou do, thou
wilt come to have need of the least of mankind. Know that the
measure of a man's worth is according to what his right hand
possesses: and how well saith the poet:

If wealth should fail, there is no friend will bear me company,
But whilst my substance yet abounds, all men are friends to
How many a foe for money's sake hath companied with me! How many
a friend for loss thereof hath turned mine enemy!'

'What more?' asked Ali. 'O my son,' said Mejdeddin, 'take counsel
of those who are older than thou and hasten not to do thy heart's
desire. Have compassion on those that are below thee, so shall
those that are above thee have compassion on thee; and oppress
none, lest God set over thee one who shall oppress thee. How well
saith the poet:

Add others' wit to thine and counsel still ensue; For that the
course of right is not concealed from two.
One mirror shows a man his face, but, if thereto Another one he
add, his nape thus can he view.

And as saith another:

Be slow to move and hasten not to match thy heart's desire: Be
merciful to all, as thou on mercy reckonest;
For no hand is there but the hand of God is over it, And no
oppressor but shall be with worse than he opprest.

And yet another:

Do no oppression, whilst the power thereto is in thine hand; For
still in peril 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.

Beware of drinking wine, for it is the root of all evil: it does
away the reason and brings him who uses it into contempt; and how
well saith the poet:

By Allah, wine shall never invade me, whilst my soul Endureth in
my body and my thoughts my words control!
Not a day long will I turn me to the zephyr-freshened bowl, And
for friend I'll choose him only who of wine-bibbing is

This, then,' added Mejdeddin, 'is my charge to thee; keep it
before thine eyes, and may God stand to thee in my stead.' Then
he swooned away and kept silence awhile. When he came to himself,
he besought pardon of God and making the profession of the Faith,
was admitted to the mercy of the Most High. His son wept and
lamented for him and made due preparation for his burial. Great
and small attended him to the grave and the readers recited the
Koran about his bier; nor did Ali Shar omit aught of what was due
to the dead. Then they prayed over him and committed him to the
earth, graving these words upon his tomb:

Created of the dust thou wast and cam'st to life And eloquence
didst learn and spokest many a word;
Then to the dust again returnedst and wast dead, As 'twere from
out the dust, indeed, thou'dst never stirred.

His son Ali Shar grieved for him and mourned him after the wont
of men of condition; nor did he cease therefrom till his mother
died also, not long afterward, when he did with her as he had
done with his father. Then he sat in the shop, selling and buying
and consorting with none of God's creatures, in accordance with
his father's injunction.

On this wise he abode for a year, at the end of which time there
came in to him certain whoreson fellows by craft and companied
with him, till he turned with them to lewdness and swerved from
the right way, drinking wine in goblets and frequenting the fair
night and day; for he said in himself, 'My father amassed this
wealth for me, and if I spend it not, to whom shall I leave it?
By Allah, I will not do save as saith the poet:

If all the days of thy life thou get And heap up treasure, to
swell thy hoard,
When wilt thou use it and so enjoy That thou hast gathered and
gained and stored?'

Then he ceased not to squander his wealth all tides of the day
and watches of the night, till he had made away with it all and
abode in evil case and troubled at heart. So he sold his shop and
lands and so forth, and after this he sold the clothes off his
body, leaving himself but one suit. Then drunkenness left him and
thought came to him, and he fell into melancholy.

One day, when he had sat from day-break to mid-afternoon without
breaking his fast, he said in himself, 'I will go round to those
on whom I spent my wealth: it may be one of them will feed me
this day.' So he went the round of them all; but, as often as he
knocked at any one's door, the man denied himself and hid from
him, till he was consumed with hunger. Then he betook himself to
the bazaar, where he found a crowd of people, assembled in a ring
round somewhat, and said in himself, 'I wonder what ails the folk
to crowd together thus? By Allah, I will not remove hence, till I
see what is within yonder ring!' So he made his way into the ring
and found that the crowd was caused by a damsel exposed for sale.
She was five feet high, slender of shape, rosy-cheeked and high-
bosomed and surpassed all the people of her time in beauty and
grace and elegance and perfection; even as saith one, describing

As she wished, she was created, after such a wise that lo! She in
beauty's mould was fashioned, perfect, neither less no mo'.
Loveliness itself enamoured of her lovely aspect is; Coyness
decks her and upon her, pride and pudour sweetly show.
In her face the full moon glitters and the branch is as her
shape; Musk her breath is, nor midst mortals is her equal,
high or low.
'Tis as if she had been moulded out of water of pure pearls; In
each member of her beauty is a very moon, I trow.

And her name was Zumurrud.

When Ali Shar saw her, he marvelled at her beauty and grace and
said, 'By Allah, I will not stir hence till I see what price this
girl fetches and know who buys her!' So he stood with the rest of
the merchants, and they thought he had a mind to buy her, knowing
the wealth he had inherited from his parents. Then the broker
stood at the damsel's head and said, 'Ho, merchants! Ho, men of
wealth! Who will open the biddings for this damsel, the mistress
of moons, the splendid pearl, Zumurrud the Curtain-maker, the aim
of the seeker and the delight of the desirous? Open the biddings,
and on the opener be nor blame nor reproach.'

So one merchant said, 'I bid five hundred dinars for her.' 'And
ten,' said another. 'Six hundred,' cried an old man named
Reshideddin, blue-eyed and foul of face. 'And ten,' quoth
another. 'I bid a thousand,' rejoined Reshideddin; whereupon the
other merchants were silent and the broker took counsel with the
girl's owner, who said, 'I have sworn not to sell her save to
whom she shall choose; consult her.' So the broker went up to
Zumurrud and said to her, 'O mistress of moons, yonder merchant
hath a mind to buy thee.' She looked as Reshideddin and finding
him as we have said, replied, 'I will not be sold to a grey-
beard, whom decrepitude hath brought to evil plight.' 'Bravo,'
quoth I, 'for one who saith:

I asked her for a kiss one day, but she my hoary head Saw, though
of wealth and worldly good I had great plentihead;
So, with a proud and flouting air, her back she turned on me And,
"No, by Him who fashioned men from nothingness!" she said.
"Now, by God's truth, I never had a mind to hoary hairs, And
shall my mouth be stuffed, forsooth, with cotton, ere I'm

'By Allah,' quoth the broker, 'thou art excusable, and thy value
is ten thousand dinars!' So he told her owner that she would not
accept of Reshideddin, and he said, 'Ask her of another.'
Thereupon another man came forward and said, 'I will take her at
the same price.' She looked at him and seeing that his beard was
dyed, said, 'What is this lewd and shameful fashion and
blackening of the face of hoariness?' And she made a great show
of amazement and repeated the following verses:

A sight, and what a sight, did such a one present To me! A neck,
to beat with shoes, by Allah, meant!
And eke a beard for lie a coursing-ground that was And brows for
binding on of ropes all crook'd and bent.[FN#12]
Thou that my cheeks and shape have ravished, with a lie Thou dost
disguise thyself and reck'st not, impudent;
Dyeing thy hoary hairs disgracefully with black[FN#13] And hiding
what appears, with fraudulent intent;
As of the puppet-men thou wert, with one beard go'st And with
another com'st again, incontinent.

And how well saith another:

Quoth she to me, "I see thou dy'st thy hoariness;" and I, "I do
but hide it from thy sight, O thou my ear and eye!"[FN#14]
She laughed out mockingly and said, "A wonder 'tis indeed! Thou
so aboundest in deceit that even thy hair's a lie."

'By Allah,' quoth the broker, 'thou hast spoken truly!' The
merchant asked what she said: so the broker repeated the verses
to him, and he knew that she was in the right and desisted from
buying her. Then another came forward and would have bought her
at the same price; but she looked at him and seeing that he had
but one eye, said, 'This man is one-eyed; and it is of such as he
that the poet saith:

Consort not with him that is one-eyed a day, And be on thy guard
'gainst his mischief and lies:
For God, if in him aught of good had been found, Had not curst
him with blindness in one of his eyes.'

Then the broker brought her another bidder and said to her, 'Wilt
thou be sold to this man?' She looked at him and seeing that he
was short of stature and had a beard that reached to his navel,
said, 'This is he of whom the poet speaks, when he says:

I have a friend, who has a beard, that God Caused flourish
without profit, till, behold.
'Tis, as it were, to look upon, a night Of middle winter, long
and dark and cold.'

'O my lady,' said the broker, 'look who pleases thee of these
that are present, and point him out, that I may sell thee to
him.' So she looked round the ring of merchants, examining them
one by one, till her eyes rested on Ali Shar. His sight cost her
a thousand sighs and her heart was taken with him: for that he
was passing fair of favour and more pleasant than the northern
zephyr; and she said, 'O broker, I will be sold to none but my
lord there, he of the handsome face and slender shape, whom the
poet describes in the following verses:

They showed thy lovely face and railed At her whom ravishment
Had they desired to keep me chaste, Thy face so fair they should
have veiled.

None shall possess me but he,' added she; 'for his cheek is
smooth and the water of his mouth sweet as Selsebil;[FN#15] his
sight is a cure for the sick and his charms confound poet and
proser, even as saith one of him:

The water of his mouth is wine, and very musk The fragrance of
his breath; his teeth are camphor white.
Rizwan hath put him our from paradise, for fear The black-eyed
girls of heaven be tempted with the wight.
Men blame him for his pride; but the full moon's excuse, How
proud so'er it be, finds favour in our sight.

Him of the curling locks and rose-red cheeks and enchanting
glances, of whom saith the poet:

A slender loveling promised me his favours fair and free; So my
heart's restless and my eye looks still his sight to see.
His eyelids warranted me the keeping of his troth; But how shall
they, that bankrupt[FN#16] are, fulfil their warranty?

And as saith another:

"The script of whiskers on his cheek," quoth they, "is plain to
see: How canst thou then enamoured be of him, and whiskered
Quoth I, "Have done with blame and leave your censuring, I pray.
As if it be a very script, it is a forgery.
Lo, in the gathering of his cheeks the meads of Eden be, And more
by token that his lips are Kauther,[FN#17], verily."

When the broker heard the verses she repeated on the charms of
Ali Shar, he marvelled at her eloquence, no less than at the
brightness of her beauty; but her owner said to him, 'Marvel not
at her beauty, that shames the sun of day, nor that her mind is
stored with the choicest verses of the poets; for, besides this,
she can repeat the glorious Koran, according to the seven
readings, and the august Traditions, after the authentic text;
and she writes the seven hands and is versed in more branches of
knowledge than the most learned doctor. Moreover, her hands are
better than gold and silver; for she makes curtains of silk and
sells them for fifty dinars each; and it takes her eight days to
make a curtain.' 'Happy the man,' exclaimed the broker, 'who hath
her in his house and maketh her of his privy treasures!' And her
owner said, 'Sell her to whom she will.' So the broker went up to
Ali Shar and kissing his hands, said to him, 'O my lord, buy thou
this damsel, for she hath made choice of thee.' Then he set forth
to him all her charms and accomplishments, and added: 'I give
thee joy, if thou buy her, for she is a gift from Him who is no
niggard of His giving.'

Ali bowed his head awhile, laughing to himself and saying
inwardly, 'Up to now I have not broken my fast; yet I am ashamed
to own before the merchants that I have no money wherewith to buy
her.' The damsel, seeing him hang down his head, said to the
broker, 'Take my hand and lead me to him, that I may show myself
to him and tempt him to buy me; for I will not be sold to any but
him.' So the broker took her hand and stationed her before Ali
Shar, saying, 'What is thy pleasure, O my lord?' But he made him
no answer, and the girl said to him, 'O my lord and darling of my
heart, what ails thee that thou wilt not bid for me? Buy me for
what thou wilt, and I will bring thee good fortune.' Ali raised
his eyes to her and said, 'Must I buy thee perforce? Thou art
dear at one thousand dinars.' 'Then buy me for nine hundred,'
answered she. 'Nay,' rejoined he; and she said, 'Then for eight
hundred;' and ceased not to abate the price, till she came to a
hundred dinars. Quoth he, 'I have not quite a hundred dinars.'
'How much dost thou lack of a hundred?' asked she, laughing. 'By
Allah,' replied he, 'I have neither a hundred dinars, nor any
other sum; for I own neither white money nor red, neither dinar
nor dirhem. So look out for another customer.' When she knew that
he had nothing, she said to him, 'Take me by the hand and carry
me aside into a passage, as if thou wouldst examine me privily.'
He did so and she took from her bosom a purse containing a
thousand dinars, which she gave him saying, 'Pay down nine
hundred to my price and keep the rest to provide us withal.'

He did as she bade him and buying her for nine hundred dinars,
paid down the price from the purse and carried her to his house,
which when she entered, she found nothing but bare floors,
without carpets or vessels. So she gave him other thousand
dinars, saying, 'Go to the bazaar and buy three hundred dinars'
worth of furniture and vessels for the house and three dinars'
worth of meat and drink, also a piece of silk, the size of a
curtain, and gold and silver thread and [sewing] silk of seven
colours.' He did her bidding, and she furnished the house and
they sat down to eat and drink; after which they went to bed and
took their pleasure, one of the other. And they lay the night
embraced and were even as saith the poet:

Cleave fast to her thou lov'st and let the envious rail amain;
For calumny and envy ne'er to favour love were fain.
Lo, whilst I slept, in dreams I saw thee lying by my side And
from thy lips the sweetest, sure, of limpid springs did
Yea, true and certain all I saw is, as I will avouch, And 'spite
the envier, thereto I surely will attain.
There is no goodlier sight, indeed, for eyes to look upon, Than
when one couch in its embrace enfoldeth lovers twain,
Each to the other's bosom clasped, clad in their twinned delight,
Whilst hand with hand and arm with arm about their necks
Lo, when two hearts are straitly knit in passion and desire, But
on cold iron smite the folk who chide at them in vain.
Thou, that for loving censurest the votaries of love, Canst thou
assain a heart diseased or heal a cankered brain?
If in thy time thou find but one to love thee and be true, I rede
thee cast the world away and with that one remain.

They lay together till the morning and love for the other was
stablished in the heart of each of them. On the morrow, Zumurrud
took the curtain and embroidered it with coloured silks and gold
and silver thread, depicting thereon all manner birds and beasts;
nor is there in the world a beast but she wrought on the curtain
the semblant thereof. Moreover, she made thereto a band, with
figures of birds, and wrought at it eight days, till she had made
an end of it, when she trimmed it and ironed it and gave it to
Ali, saying, 'Carry it to the bazaar and sell it to one of the
merchants for fifty dinars; but beware lest thou sell it to a
passer-by, for this would bring about a separation between us,
because we have enemies who are not unmindful of us.' 'I hear and
obey,' answered he and repairing to the bazaar, sold the curtain
to a merchant, as she bade him; after which he bought stuff for
another curtain and silk and gold and silver thread as before and
what they needed of food, and brought all this to her, together
with the rest of the money.

They abode thus a whole year, and every eight days she made a
curtain, which he sold for fifty dinars. At the end of the year,
he went to the bazaar, as usual, with a curtain, which he gave to
the broker; and there came up to him a Christian, who bid him
threescore dinars for the curtain; but he refused, and the
Christian went on to bid higher and higher, till he came to a
hundred dinars and bribed the broker with ten gold pieces. So the
latter returned to Ali and told him of this and urged him to
accept the offer, saying, 'O my lord, be not afraid of this
Christian, for he can do thee no hurt.' The merchants also were
instant with him to accept the offer; so he sold the curtain to
the Christian, though his heart misgave him, and taking the
price, set off to return home.

Presently, he found the Christian walking behind him; so he said
to him, 'O Nazarene, why dost thou follow me?' 'O my lord,'
answered the other, 'I have a need at the end of the street, may
God never bring thee to need!' Ali went on, but, as he came to
the door of his house, the Christian overtook him; so he said to
him, 'O accursed one, what ails thee to follow me wherever I go?'
'O my lord,' replied the other, 'give me a draught of water, for
I am athirst; and with God the Most High be thy reward!' Quoth
Ali in himself, 'Verily, this man is a tributary [of the
Khalifate] and seeks a draught of water of me; by Allah, I will
not disappoint him!' So he entered the house and took a mug of
water; but Zumurrud saw him and said to him, 'O my love, hast
thou sold the curtain?' 'Yes,' answered he. 'To a merchant or a
passer-by?' asked she. 'For my heart forethinketh me of
separation.' 'To a merchant, of course,' replied he. But she
rejoined, 'Tell me the truth of the case, that I may order my
affair; and what wantest thou with the mug of water?' 'To give
the broker a drink,' answered he; whereupon she exclaimed, 'There
is no power and no virtue but in God the Most High, the Supreme!'
And repeated the following verses:

O thou that seekest parting, stay thy feet: Let clips and kisses
not delude thy spright.
Softly, for fortune's nature is deceit And parting is the end of

Then he took the mug and going out, found the Christian within
the vestibule and said to him, 'O dog, how darest thou enter my
house without my leave?' 'O my lord,' answered he, 'there is no
difference between the door and the vestibule and I will not
budge hence, save to go out; and I am beholden to thee for thy
kindness.' Then he took the mug and emptying it, returned it to
Ali, who took it and waited for him to go; but he did not move.
So Ali said to him, 'Why dost thou not rise and go thy way?' 'O
my lord,' answered the Christian, 'be not of those that do a
kindness and after make a reproach of it, nor one of whom saith
the poet:

Gone, gone are they who, if thou stoodst before their door of
old, Had, at thy seeking, handselled thee with benefits
And if thou stoodest at their door who follow after them, These
latter would begrudge to thee a draught of water cold.

O my lord,' continued he, 'I have drunk, and now I would have
thee give me to eat of whatever is in the house, though it be but
a crust of bread or a biscuit and an onion.' 'Begone, without
more talk,' replied Ali; 'There is nothing in the house.' 'O my
lord,' insisted the Christian, 'if there be nothing in the house,
take these hundred dinars and fetch us somewhat from the market,
if but a cake of bread, that bread and salt may pass between us.'
With this, quoth Ali to himself, 'This Christian is surely mad; I
will take the hundred dinars and bring somewhat worth a couple of
dirhems and laugh at him.' 'O my lord,' added the Christian, 'I
want but somewhat to stay my hunger, were it but a cake of dry
bread and an onion; for the best food is that which does away
hunger, not rich meats; and how well saith the poet:

A cake of dry stale bread will hunger out to flight: Why then are
grief and care so heavy on my spright?
Death is, indeed, most just, since, with an equal hand, Khalif
and beggar-wretch, impartial, it doth smite.'

Then said Ali, 'Wait here, whilst I lock the saloon and fetch
thee somewhat from the market.' 'I hear and obey,' said the
Christian. So Ali shut up the saloon and locking the door with a
padlock, put the key in his pocket: after which he repaired to
the market and bought fried cheese and virgin honey and bananas
and bread, with which he returned to the Christian. When the
latter saw this, he said, 'O my lord, this is [too] much; thou
hast brought enough for half a score men and I am alone; but
belike thou wilt eat with me.' 'Eat by thyself,' replied Ali; 'I
am full.' 'O my lord,' rejoined the Christian, 'the wise say, "He
who eats not with his guest is a base-born churl."'

When Ali heard this, he sat down and ate a little with him, after
which he would have held his hand: but [whilst he was not
looking] the Christian took a banana and peeled it, then,
splitting it in twain, put into one half concentrated henbane,
mixed with opium, a drachm whereof would overthrow an elephant.
This half he dipped in the honey and gave to Ali Shar, saying, 'O
my lord, I swear by thy religion that thou shalt take this.' Ali
was ashamed to make him forsworn; so he took the half banana and
swallowed it; but hardly had it reached his stomach, when his
head fell down in front of his feet and he was as though he had
been a year asleep.

When the Nazarene saw this, he rose, as he had been a bald wolf
or a baited cat, and taking the saloon key, made off at a run,
leaving Ali Shar prostrate. Now this Christian was the brother of
the decrepit old man who thought to buy Zumurrud for a thousand
dinars, but she would have none of him and flouted him in verse.
He was an infidel at heart, though a Muslim in outward show, and
called himself Reshideddin;[FN#18] and when Zumurrud mocked him
and would not accept of him to her lord, he complained to his
brother, the aforesaid Christian, Bersoum by name, who said to
him, 'Fret not thyself about this affair; for I will make shift
to get her for thee, without paying a penny.'

Now he was a skilful sorcerer crafty and wicked; so he watched
his time and played Ali Shar the trick aforesaid; then, taking
the key, he went to his brother and told him what had passed,
whereupon Reshideddin mounted his mule and repaired with his
servants to Ali Shar's house, taking with him a purse of a
thousand dinars, wherewith to bribe the master of police, should
he meet him. He unlocked the saloon door, and the men who were
with him rushed in upon Zumurrud and seized her, threatening her
with death if she spoke; but they left the house as it was and
took nothing therefrom. Moreover, they laid the key by Ali's side
and leaving him lying in the vestibule, shut the door on him and
went away. The Christian carried the girl to his own house and
setting her amongst his women and concubines, said to her, 'O
strumpet, I am the old man, whom thou did reject and lampoon; but
now I have thee, without paying a penny.' 'God requite thee, O
wicked old man,' replied she, with her eyes full of tears, 'for
sundering my lord and me!' 'Wanton doxy that thou art,' rejoined
he,' thou shalt see how I will punish thee! By the virtue of the
Messiah and the Virgin, except thou obey me and embrace my faith,
I will torture thee with all manner of torture!' 'By Allah,'
answered she, 'though thou cut me in pieces, I will not forswear
the faith of Islam! It may be God the Most High will bring me
speedy relief, for He is all-powerful, and the wise say, "Better
hurt in body than in religion."'

Thereupon the old man called out to his eunuchs and women,
saying, 'Throw her down!' So they threw her down and he beat her
grievously, whilst she cried in vain for help, but presently
stinted and fell to saying, 'God is my sufficiency, and He is
indeed sufficient!' till her breath failed her and she swooned
away. When he had taken his fill of beating her, he said to the
eunuchs, 'Drag her forth by the feet and cast her down in the
kitchen, and give her nothing to eat.' They did his bidding, and
on the morrow the accursed old man sent for her and beat her
again, after which he bade return her to her place. When the pain
of the blows had subsided, she said, 'There is no god but God and
Mohammed is His Apostle! God is my sufficiency and excellent is
He in whom I put my trust!' And she called upon our lord Mohammed
(whom God bless and preserve) for succour.

Meanwhile, Ali Shar slept on till next day, when the fumes of the
henbane quitted his brain and he awoke and cried out, 'O
Zumurrud!' But none answered him. So he entered the saloon and
found 'the air empty and the place of visitation distant;'[FN#19]
whereby he knew that it was the Nazarene, who had played him this
trick. And he wept and groaned and lamented and repeated the
following verses:

O Fate, thou sparest not nor dost desist from me: Lo, for my soul
is racked with dolour and despite!
Have pity, O my lords, upon a slave laid low, Upon the rich made
poor by love and its unright.
What boots the archer's skill, if, when the foe draw near, His
bowstring snap and leave him helpless in the fight?
And when afflictions press and multiply on man, Ah, whither then
shall he from destiny take flight?
How straitly did I guard 'gainst severance of our loves! But,
when as Fate descends, it blinds the keenest sight.

Then he sobbed and repeated these verses also:

Her traces on the encampment's sands a robe of grace bestow: The
mourner yearneth to the place where she dwelt whiles ago.
Towards her native land she turns; a camp in her doth raise
Longing, whose very ruins now are scattered to and fro.
She stops and questions of the place; but with the case's tongue
It answers her, "There is no way to union, I trow.
'Tis as the lost a Levin were, that glittered on the camp Awhile,
then vanished and to thee appeareth nevermo'."

And he repented, whenas repentance availed him not, and wept and
tore his clothes. Then he took two stones and went round the
city, beating his breast with the stones and crying out, 'O
Zumurrud!' whilst the children flocked round him, calling out, 'A
madman! A madman!' and all who knew him wept for him, saying,
'Yonder is such an one: what hath befallen him?' This he did all
that day, and when night darkened on him, he lay down in one of
the by-streets and slept till morning. On the morrow, he went
round about the city with the stones till eventide, when he
returned to his house, to pass the night. One of his neighbours,
a worthy old woman, saw him and said to him, 'God keep thee, O my
son! How long hast thou been mad?' And he answered her with the
following verse:

Quoth they, "Thou'rt surely mad for her thou lov'st;" and I
replied, "Indeed the sweets of life belong unto the raving
My madness leave and bring me her for whom ye say I'm mad; And if
she heal my madness, spare to blame me for my case."

Therewith she knew him for a lover who had lost his mistress and
said, 'There is no power and no virtue but in God the Most High,
the Supreme! O my son, I would have thee acquaint me with the
particulars of thine affliction. Peradventure God may enable me
to help thee against it, if it so please Him.' So he told her all
that had happened and she said, 'O my son, indeed thou hast
excuse.' And her eyes ran over with tears and she repeated the
following verses:

Torment, indeed, in this our world, true lovers do aby; Hell
shall not torture them, by God, whenas they come to die!
Of love they died and to the past their passions chastely hid; So
are they martyrs, as, indeed, traditions[FN#20] testify.

Then she said, 'O my son, go now and buy me a basket, such as the
jewel-hawkers carry, and stock it with rings and bracelets and
ear-rings and other women's gear, and spare not money. Bring all
this to me and I will set it on my head and go round about, in
the guise of a huckstress, and make search for her in all the
houses, till I light on news of her, if it be the will of God the
Most High.' Ali rejoiced in her words and kissed her hands, then,
going out, speedily returned with all she required; whereupon she
rose and donning a patched gown and a yellow veil, took a staff
in her hand and set out, with the basket on her head.

She ceased not to go from quarter to quarter and street to street
and house to house, till God the Most High led her to the house
of the accursed Reshideddin the Nazarene. She heard groans within
and knocked at the door, whereupon a slave-girl came down and
opening the door to her, saluted her. Quoth the old woman, 'I
have these trifles for sale: is there any one with you who will
buy aught of them?' 'Yes,' answered the girl and carrying her
indoors, made her sit down; whereupon all the women came round
her and each bought something of her. She spoke to them fair and
was easy with them as to price, so that they rejoiced in her,
because of her pleasant speech and easiness. Meanwhile, she
looked about to see who it was she had heard groaning, till her
eyes fell on Zumurrud, when she knew her and saw that she was
laid prostrate. So she wept and said to the girls, 'O my
children, how comes yonder damsel in this plight?' And they told
her what had passed, adding, 'Indeed, the thing is not of our
choice; but our master commanded us to do this, and he is now
absent on a journey.' 'O my children,' said the old woman, 'I
have a request to make of you, and it is that you loose this
unhappy woman of her bonds, till you know of your lord's return,
when do ye bind her again as she was; and you shall earn a reward
from the Lord of all creatures.' 'We hear and obey,' answered
they and loosing Zumurrud, gave her to eat and drink.

Then said the old woman, 'Would my leg had been broken, ere I
entered your house!' And she went up to Zumurrud and said to her,
'O my daughter, take heart; God will surely bring thee relief.'
Then she told her [privily] that she came from her lord Ali Shar
and appointed her to be on the watch that night, saying, 'Thy
lord will come to the bench under the gallery and whistle to
thee; and when thou hearest him, do thou whistle back to him and
let thyself down to him by a rope from the window, and he will
take thee and go away.' Zumurrud thanked the old woman, and the
latter returned to Ali Shar and told him what she had done,
saying, 'Go to-night, at midnight, to such a quarter,--for the
accursed fellow's house is there and its fashion is thus and
thus. Stand under the window of the upper chamber and whistle;
whereupon she will let herself down to thee; then do thou take
her and carry her whither thou wilt.' He thanked her for her good
offices and repeated the following verses, with the tears running
down his cheeks:

Let censors cease to rail and chide and leave their idle prate:
My body's wasted and my heart weary and desolate;
And from desertion and distress my tears, by many a chain Of true
traditions handed down, do trace their lineage straight.
Thou that art whole of heart and free from that which I endure Of
grief and care, cut short thy strife nor question of my
A sweet-lipped maiden, soft of sides and moulded well of shape,
With her soft speech my heart hath ta'en, ay, and her
graceful gait.
My heart, since thou art gone, no rest knows nor my eyes do
sleep, Nor can the hunger of my hopes itself with patience
Yea, thou hast left me sorrowful, the hostage of desire, 'Twixt
enviers and haters dazed and all disconsolate.
As for forgetting, 'tis a thing I know not nor will know; For
none but thou into my thought shalt enter, soon or late.

Then he sighed and shed tears and repeated these also:

May God be good to him who brought me news that ye were come! For
never more delightful news unto my ears was borne.
If he would take a worn-out wede for boon, I'd proffer him A
heart that at the parting hour was all in pieces torn.

He waited until the appointed time, then went to the street,
where was the Christian's house, and recognizing it from the old
woman's description, sat down on the bench under the gallery.
Presently, drowsiness overcame him, for it was long since he had
slept, for the violence of his passion, and he became as one
drunken with sleep. Glory be to Him who sleepeth not!

Meanwhile, chance led thither a certain thief, who had come out
that night to steal somewhat and prowled about the skirts of the
city, till he happened on Reshideddin's house. He went round
about it, but found no way of climbing up into it and presently
came to the bench, where he found Ali Shar asleep and took his
turban. At that moment, Zumurrud looked out and seeing the thief
standing in the darkness, took him for her lord; so she whistled
to him and he whistled back to her; whereupon she let herself
down to him, with a pair of saddle-bags full of gold. When the
robber saw this, he said to himself, 'This is a strange thing,
and there must needs be some extraordinary cause to it.' Then,
snatching up the saddle-bags, he took Zumurrud on his shoulders
and made off with both like the blinding lightning.

Quoth she, 'The old woman told me that thou wast weak with
illness on my account; and behold, thou art stronger than a


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