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

Part 3 out of 8

in a state of wretchedness and despair, gnawed with hunger and
worn with the toil of his journey. As he passed through one of
the streets, he saw a company of notables going along; so he
followed them, till they entered a house like to a royal
palace. He entered with them, and they stayed not till they
came in presence of a man of the most dignified and majestic
aspect, seated at the upper end of a saloon and surrounded by
pages and servants, as he were of the sons of the Viziers. When
he saw the visitors, he rose and received them with honour; but
the poor man was confounded at the goodliness of the place and
the crowd of servants and attendants and drawing back, in fear
and perplexity, sat down apart in a place afar off, where none
should see him.

After awhile, in came a man with four hunting-dogs, clad in
various kinds of silk and brocade and having on their necks
collars of gold with chains of silver, and tied up each dog in a
place set apart for him; after which he went out and presently
returned with four dishes of gold, full of rich meats, one of
which he set before each dog. Then he went away and left them,
whilst the poor man began to eye the food, for stress of hunger,
and would fain have gone up to one of the dogs and eaten with
him; but fear of them withheld him. Presently, one of the
dogs looked at him and God the Most High inspired him with a
knowledge of his case; so he drew back from the platter and
beckoned to the man, who came and ate, till he was satisfied.
Then he would have withdrawn, but the dog pushed the dish
towards him with his paw, signing to him to take it and what
was left in it for himself. So the man took the dish and
leaving the house, went his way, and none followed him. Then
he journeyed to another city, where he sold the dish and buying
goods with the price, returned to his own town. There he sold
his stock and paid his debts; and he prospered and became rich
and at his ease.

After some years had passed, he said to himself, 'Needs must I
repair to the city of the owner of the dish, which the dog
bestowed on me, and carry him its price, together with a fit
and handsome present.' So he took the price of the dish and a
suitable present and setting out, journeyed night and day, till
he came to the city and entering, went straight to the place
where the man's house had been; but lo, he found there nothing
but mouldering ruins and dwelling-places laid waste, over which
the raven croaked; for the place was desert and the environs
changed out of knowledge. At this, his heart and soul were
troubled and he repeated the words of him who saith:

The privy chambers are void of all their hidden store, As
hearts of the fear of God and the virtues all of yore.
Changed is the vale and strange to me are its gazelles, And
those I knew of old its sandhills are no more.

And those of another:

The phantom of Saada came to me by night, near the break of
day, And roused me, whenas my comrades all in the desert
sleeping lay.
But, when I awoke to the dream of the night, that came to visit
me, I found the air void and the wonted place of our
rendezvous far away.

When he saw what the hand of time had manifestly done with the
place, leaving but traces of the things that had been aforetime,
the testimony of his eyes made it needless for him to enquire
of the case; so he turned away and seeing a wretched man, in
a plight that made the skin quake and would have moved the
very rock to pity, said to him, 'Harkye, sirrah! What have
time and fortune done with the master of this place? Where are
his shining full moons[FN#53] and splendid stars;[FN#54] and
what is the cause of the ruin that is come upon his abode, so
that but the walls thereof remain?' Quoth the other, 'He is the
miserable wretch thou seest bewailing that which hath befallen
him. Knowest thou not the words of the Prophet (whom God bless
and preserve), wherein is a lesson to him who will profit by it
and an admonition to whoso will be guided thereby in the right
way? "Verily it is the way of God the Most High to raise up
nothing of this world, except He cast it down again." If thou
enquire of the cause of this thing, indeed, it is no wonder,
considering the vicissitudes of fortune. I was the master of
this place and its builder and founder and owner and lord of
its shining full moons and radiant damsels and of all its
splendid circumstance an magnificent garniture; but Fortune
turned and did away from me wealth and servants, overwhelming
me unawares with disasters unforeseen and bringing me to this
sorry plight. But there must needs be some reason for this thy
question: tell it me and leave wondering.'

So the other told him the whole story, sore concerned at what
he heard and saw, and added, 'I have brought thee a present
such as souls desire, and the price of thy dish of gold, that I
took; for it was the cause of my becoming rich, after poverty,
and of the reinstating of my dwelling-place, after desolation,
and of the doing away of my trouble and straitness from me.'
But the poor man shook his head, groaning and weeping and
lamenting, and answered, 'O man, methinks thou art mad; for
this is not the fashion of a man of understanding. How should a
dog of mine make gift to thee of a dish of gold and I receive
back its price? This were indeed a strange thing! By Allah,
were I in the straitest misery and unease, I would not accept
of thee aught, no, not the worth of a nail-paring! So return
whence thou camest, in health and safety.'

The merchant kissed his feet and taking leave of him, returned
whence he came, praising him and reciting the following verse:

The men and eke the dogs are gone and vanished all. Peace be
upon the men and dogs, whate'er befall!


There was once, in the coast-fortress of Alexandria, a Master
of Police, Husameddin by name, who was one night sitting in his
seat of office, when there came in to him a trooper, who said
to him, 'Know, O my lord, that I entered the city this night
and alighted at such a khan and slept there, till a third part
of the night was past, when I awoke and found my saddle-bags
cut open and a purse of a thousand dinars stolen from them.' No
sooner had he done speaking than the magistrate called his
officers and bade them lay hands on all in the khan and clap
them in prison till the morning; and on the morrow, he caused
bring the instruments of torment and sending for the prisoners,
was about to torture them, [to make them confess], in the
presence of the owner of the stolen money, when, behold, a man
pressed through the crowd and coming up to the chief of the
police, said, 'O Amir, let these folk go, for they are wrongly
accused. It was I who robbed the trooper, and here is the purse
I stole from his saddle-bags.' So saying, he pulled out the
purse from his sleeve and laid it before Husameddin, who said
to the soldier, 'Take thy money; thou hast no ground of
complaint now against the people of the khan.' Thereupon the
latter and all who were present fell to blessing the thief and
praising him; but he said, 'O Amir, the skill is not in that I
came to thee and brought thee the purse, but in taking it a
second time from the trooper.' 'And how didst thou take it, O
sharper?' asked Husameddin.

'O Amir,' replied the thief, 'I was standing in the
money-changers' bazaar at Cairo, when I saw yonder man receive
the gold and put it in his purse; so I followed him from street
to street, but found no occasion of stealing it from him. Then
he left Cairo and I followed him from place to place, casting
about by the way to rob him, but without avail, till he entered
this city and I followed him to the khan. I took up my lodging
beside him and watched him till he fell asleep and I heard him
snoring, when I went softly up to him and cutting open his
saddlebags with this knife, took the purse thus--'

So saying, he put out his hand and took the purse from before
the chief of the police, whilst the latter and the trooper and
the folk drew back, watching him and thinking he would show them
how he took the purse from the saddle-bags; but, of a sudden,
he broke into a run and threw himself into a reservoir hard by.
The chief of the police called to his officers to pursue him,
but before they could put off their clothes and descend the
steps, he had made off; and they sought for him, but found him
not; for the streets of Alexandria all communicate one with
another. So they came back, empty-handed, and the chief of the
police said to the trooper, 'Thou hast no recourse against the
folk; for thou foundest him who robbed thee and receivedst back
thy money, but didst not keep it.' So the trooper went away,
having lost his money, whilst the folk were delivered from his
hands and those of the chief of the police; and all this was of
the favour of God the Most High.


El Melik en Nasir[FN#55] once sent for the chiefs of the police
of New Cairo, Boulac and Old Cairo and said to them, 'I wish
each of you to tell me the most remarkable thing that hath
befallen him during his term of office.' 'We hear and obey,'
answered they. Then said the chief of the police of New Cairo,
'O our lord the Sultan, the most remarkable thing that befell
me, during my term of office, was on this wise:

Story of the Chief of the Police of New Cairo.

There were once, in this city, two men apt to bear witness in
matters of blood and wounds; but they were both given to wine
and women and debauchery; nor, do what I would, could I succeed
in bringing them to account. So I charged the vintners and
confectioners and fruiterers and chandlers and bagnio-keepers
to acquaint me of these two, when ever they should anywhere be
engaged in drinking or debauchery, whether together or apart,
and that, if they or either of them bought of them aught for
the purpose of carousal, they should not conceal it from me.
And they replied, "We hear and obey."

One night, a man came to me and said, "O my lord, know that the
two witnesses are in such a house in such a street, engaged
in sore wickedness." So I disguised myself and went out,
accompanied by none but my page, to the street in question.
When I came to the house, I knocked at the door, whereupon a
slave-girl came out and opened to me, saying, "Who art thou?" I
made her no answer, but entered and saw the two witnesses and
the master of the house sitting, and lewd women with them, and
great plenty of wine before them. When they saw me, they rose to
receive me, without showing the least alarm, and made much of me,
seating me in the place of honour and saying to me, "Welcome for
an illustrious guest and a pleasant cup-companion!"

Presently, the master of the house went out and returning after
awhile with three hundred dinars, said to me, without the least
fear, "O my lord, it is, we know, in thy power both to disgrace
and punish us; but this will bring thee nothing but weariness.
So thou wouldst do better to take this money and protect us;
for God the Most High is named the Protector and loveth those
of His servants who protect each other; and thou shalt have thy
reward in the world to come." The money tempted me and I said
in myself, "I will take the money and protect them this once;
but, if ever again I have them in my power, I will take my
wreak of them."

So I took the money and went away; but, next day, one of the
Cadi's serjeants came to me and cited me before the court. I
accompanied him thither, knowing not the meaning of the
summons; and when I came into the Cadi's presence, I saw the
two witnesses and the master of the house sitting by him. The
latter rose and sued me for three hundred dinars, nor was it in
my power to deny the debt; for he produced a written obligation
and the two others testified against me that I owed the amount.

Their evidence satisfied the Cadi and he ordered me to pay the
money; nor did I leave the Court till they had of me the three
hundred dinars. So I went away, in the utmost wrath and
confusion, vowing vengeance against them and repenting that I
had not punished them.'

Then rose the chief of the Boulac police and said, 'As for me,
O our lord the Sultan, the most remarkable thing that befell
me, during my term of office, was as follows:

Story of the Chief of the Boulac Police.

I was once in debt to the amount of three hundred thousand
dinars, and being distressed thereby, I sold what was behind me
and what was before me and all I could lay my hands on, but
could raise no more than a hundred thousand dinars and abode in
great perplexity. One night, as I sat at home, in this state of
mind, there came a knocking at the gate; so I said to one of my
servants, "See who is at the door." He went out and returned,
pale and trembling in every nerve; so I said to him, "What ails
thee?" "There is a man at the door, seeking thee," answered he.
"He is half naked, clad in skins, with a sword and a knife in
his girdle, and with him are a company of the same fashion." So
I took my sword and going out to see who these were, found them
as the boy had reported and said to them, "What is your
business?" "We are thieves," answered they, "and have made
great purchase to-night and appointed it to thy use, that thou
mayst pay therewith the debts that oppress thee and free
thyself from thy distress." "Where is it?" asked I; and they
brought me a great chest, full of vessels of gold and silver;
which when I saw, I rejoiced and said in myself, "It were
ungenerous to let them go away empty-handed."

So I took the hundred thousand dinars I had by me and gave it
to them, thanking them; and they took it and went their way,
under cover of the night. But, on the morrow, when I examined
the contents of the chest, I found them gilded brass and
pewter, worth five hundred dirhems at the most; and this was
grievous to me, for I had lost what money I had, and trouble
was added to my trouble.'

Then rose the chief of the police of Old Cairo and said, 'O our
lord the Sultan, the most remarkable thing that befell me,
during my term of office, was on this wise:

Story of the Chief of the Old Cairo Police

I once had ten thieves hanged, each on his own gibbet, and set
guards to watch them and hinder the folk from taking them down.
Next morning, when I came to look at them, I found two bodies
hanging from one gibbet and said to the guards, "Who did this,
and where is the tenth gibbet?" But they denied all knowledge
of it, and I was about to beat them, when they said, "Know, O
Amir, that we fell asleep last night, and when we awoke, we
found one of the bodies gone, gibbet and all, whereat we were
alarmed, fearing thy wrath. But, presently, up came a peasant,
jogging along on his ass; so we laid hands on him and killing
him, hung his body upon this gibbet, in the stead of the
missing thief."

When I heard this, I marvelled and said to them, "Had he aught
with him?" "He had a pair of saddle-bags on the ass," answered
they. "What was in them?" asked I and they said, "We know not."
Quoth I, "Bring them hither." So they brought them to me and I
bade open them, when, behold, therein was the body of a
murdered man, cut in pieces. When I saw this, I marvelled and
said in myself, "Glory be to God! The cause of the hanging of
this peasant was no other but his crime against this murdered
man; and the Lord is no unjust dealer with [His] servants."'


A money-changer, bearing a bag of money, once passed by a
company of thieves, and one of the latter said to the others,
'I know how to steal yonder bag of money.' 'How wilt thou do
it?' asked they. 'Look,' answered he and followed the money-
changer, till he entered his house, when he threw the bag on a
shelf and went into the draught-house, to do an occasion,
calling to the slave-girl to bring him an ewer of water. So she
took the jug and followed him to the draught-house, leaving the
door open, whereupon the thief entered and taking the bag of
money, made off with it to his companions, to whom he related
what had passed. 'By Allah,' said they, 'this was a clever
trick! It is not every one could do it: but, presently, the
money-changer will come out of the draught-house and missing
the bag of money, will beat the slave-girl and torture her
grievously. Meseems thou hast at present done nothing worthy of
praise; but, if thou be indeed a sharper, thou wilt return and
save the girl from being beaten.' 'If it be the will of God,'
answered the thief, 'I will save both the girl and the purse.'

Then he went back to the money-changer's house and found him
beating the girl, because of the bag of money; so he knocked at
the door and the man said, 'Who is there? Quoth the thief, 'I
am the servant of thy neighbour in the bazaar.' So he came out
to him and said, 'What is thy business?' 'My master salutes
thee,' replied the thief, 'and says to thee, "Surely, thou art
mad to cast the like of this bag of money down at the door of
thy shop and go away and leave it! Had a stranger chanced on
it, he had made off with it." And except my master had seen it
and taken care of it, it had been lost to thee.' So saying, he
pulled out the purse and showed it to the money-changer, who
said, 'That is indeed my purse,' and put out his hand to take
it; but the thief said, 'By Allah, I will not give it thee,
till thou write me a receipt; for I fear my master will not
believe that thou hast duly received the purse, except I bring
him a writing to that effect, under thy hand and seal.' So the
money-changer went in to write the receipt; but, in the
meantime, the thief made off with the bag of money, having
[thus] saved the slave-girl her beating.


It is related that Alaeddin, chief of the police of
Cous[FN#57], was sitting one night in his house, when a man of
comely aspect and dignified port, followed by a servant bearing
a chest upon his head, came to the door and said to one of the
young men, 'Go in and tell the Amir that I would speak with him
privily.' So the servant went in and told his master, who bade
admit the visitor. When he entered the Amir saw him to be a man
of good appearance and carriage; so he received him with
honour, seating him beside himself, and said to him, 'What is
thy business?' 'I am a highwayman,' replied the stranger, 'and
am minded to repent at thy hands and turn to God the Most High
but I would have thee help me to this, for that I am in thy
district and under thine eye. I have here a chest, wherein is
that which is worth nigh forty thousand dinars; and none hath
so good a right to it as thou; so do thou take it and give me
in exchange a thousand dinars of thy money, lawfully gotten,
that I may have a little capital, to aid me in my repentance,
and not be forced to resort to sin for subsistence; and with
God the Most High be thy reward!' So saying he opened the chest
and showed the Amir that it was full of trinkets and jewels and
bullion and pearls, whereat he was amazed and rejoiced greatly.
Then he cried out to his treasurer, to bring him a purse of a
thousand dinars, and gave it to the highwayman, who thanked him
and went his way, under cover of the night.

On the morrow, the Amir sent for the chief of the goldsmiths and
showed him the chest and what was therein; but the goldsmith
found it nothing but pewter and brass and the jewels and pearls
all of glass; at which Alaeddin was sore chagrined and sent in
quest of the highwayman; but none could come at him.


The Khalif El Mamoun once said to [his uncle] Ibrahim ben el
Mehdi, 'Tell us the most remarkable thing that thou hast ever
seen.' 'I hear and obey, O Commander of the Faithful,' answered
he. 'Know that I went out one day, a-pleasuring, and my course
brought me to a place where I smelt the odour of food. My soul
longed for it and I halted, perplexed and unable either to go
on or enter. Presently, I raised my eyes and saw a lattice
window and behind it a hand and wrist, the like of which for
beauty I never saw. The sight turned my brain and I forgot the
smell of the food and began to cast about how I should get
access to the house. After awhile, I espied a tailor hard by
and going up to him, saluted him. He returned my greeting and I
said to him, "Whose house is that?" "It belongs to a merchant
called such an one," answered he, "who consorteth with none but

As we were talking, up came two men of comely and intelligent
aspect, riding on horseback; and the tailor told me their names
and that they were the merchant's most intimate friends. So I
spurred my horse towards them and said to them, "May I be your
ransom! Abou such an one[FN#58] waits for you!" And I rode with
them to the gate, where I entered and they also. When the
master of the house saw me, he doubted not but I was their
friend; so he welcomed me and made me sit down in the highest
room. Then they brought the table of food and I said, "God hath
granted me my desire of the food; and now there remain the hand
and wrist." After awhile, we removed, for carousal, to another
room, which I found full of all manner of rarities; and the
host paid me particular attention, addressing his conversation
to me, for that he deemed me a guest of his guests; whilst the
latter, in like manner, made much of me, taking me for a friend
of the master of the house.

When we had drunk several cups of wine, there came in to us a
damsel of the utmost beauty and elegance, as she were a
willow-wand, who took a lute and playing a lively measure, sang
the following verses:

Is it not passing strange, indeed, one house should hold us
tway And still thou drawst not near to me nor yet a word
dost say,
Except the secrets of the souls and hearts that broken be And
entrails blazing in the fires of love, the eye bewray
With meaning looks and knitted brows and eyelids languishing
And hands that salutation sign and greeting thus convey?

When I heard this, my entrails were stirred and I was moved to
delight, for the excess of her grace and the beauty of the
verses she sang; and I envied her her skill and said, "There
lacketh somewhat to thee, O damsel!" Whereupon she threw the
lute from her hand, in anger, and cried, "Since when do you use
to bring ill-mannered fools into your assemblies?" Then I
repented of what I had done, seeing that the others were vexed
with me, and said in myself, "My hopes are at an end;" and I
saw no way of quitting myself of reproach but to call for a
lute, saying, "I will show you what escaped her in the air she
sang." So they brought me a lute and I tuned it and sang the
following verses:

This is thy lover distraught, absorbed in his passion and pain;
Thy lover, the tears of whose eyes run down on his body
like rain.
One hand to his heart ever pressed, whilst the other the
Merciful One Imploreth, so He of His grace may grant him
his hope to attain.
O thou, that beholdest a youth for passion that's perished,
thine eye And thy hand are the cause of his death and yet
might restore him again.

When the damsel heard this, she sprang up and throwing herself
at my feet, kissed them and said, "It is thine to excuse, O my
lord! By Allah, I knew not thy quality nor heard I ever the
like of this fashion!" And they all extolled me and made much
of me, being beyond measure delighted, and besought me to sing
again. So I sang a lively air, whereupon they all became as
drunken men, and their wits left them. Then the guests departed
to their homes and I abode alone with the host and the girl.
The former drank some cups with me, then said to me, "O my
lord, my life hath been wasted, in that I have not known the
like of thee till now. By Allah, then, tell me who thou art,
that I may know who is the boon-companion whom God hath
bestowed on me this night."

I would not at first tell him my name and returned him evasive
answers; but he conjured me, till I told him who I was;
whereupon he sprang to his feet and said, "Indeed, I wondered
that such excellence should belong to any but the like of thee;
and Fortune hath done me a service for which I cannot avail to
thank her. But, belike, this is a dream; for how could I hope
that the family of the Khalifate should visit me in my own
house and carouse with me this night?" I conjured him to be
seated; so he sat down and began to question me, in the most
courteous terms, as to the cause of my visit. So I told him the
whole matter, concealing nothing, and said to him, "Verily, I
have had my desire of the food, but not of the hand and wrist."
Quoth he, "Thou shalt have thy desire of them also, so God
will." Then said he to the slave-girl, "Bid such an one come
down." And he called his slave-girls down, one by one and
showed them to me; but I saw not my mistress among them, and he
said, "O my lord, there is none left save my mother and sister;
but, by Allah, I must needs have them also down and show them
to thee."

I marvelled at his courtesy and large-heartedness and said,
"May I be thy ransom! Begin with thy sister." "Willingly,"
replied he. So she came down and behold, it was she whose hand
and wrist I had seen. "May God make me thy ransom!" said I.
"This is the damsel whose hand and wrist I saw at the lattice."
Then he sent at once for witnesses and bringing out two myriads
of dinars, said to the witnesses, "This our lord Ibrahim ben el
Mehdi, uncle of the Commander of the Faithful, seeks the hand
of my sister such an one, and I call you to witness that I
marry her to him and that he has endowed her with a dowry of
ten thousand dinars." And he said to me, "I give thee my sister
in marriage, at the dowry aforesaid." "I consent," answered I.
Whereupon he gave one of the bags to her and the other to the
witnesses, and said to me, "O my lord, I desire to array a
chamber for thee; where thou mayst lie with thy wife." But I
was abashed at his generosity and was ashamed to foregather
with her in his house; so I said, "Equip her and send her to my
house." And by thy life, O Commander of the Faithful, he sent
me such an equipage with her, that my house was too strait to
hold it, for all its greatness! And I begot on her this boy
that stands before thee.'

The Khalif marvelled at the merchant's generosity and said,
'Gifted of God is he! Never heard I of his like.' And he bade
Ibrahim bring him to court, that he might see him. So he
brought him and the Khalif conversed with him; and his wit and
good breeding so pleased him, that he made him one of his chief


A certain King once made proclamation to the people of his
realm, saying, 'If any of you give alms of aught, I will
assuredly cut off his hand;' wherefore all the people abstained
from alms-giving, and none could give to any.

One day a beggar accosted a certain woman (and indeed hunger
was sore upon him) and said to her, 'Give me an alms.' 'How can
I give thee aught,' answered she, 'when the King cutteth off
the hands of all who give alms?' But he said, 'I conjure thee
by God the Most High, give me an alms.' So, when he adjured her
by God, she had compassion on him and gave him two cakes of
bread. The King heard of this; so he called her before him and
cut off her hands, after which she returned to her house.

A while after, the King said to his mother, 'I have a mind to
take a wife; so do thou marry me to a fair woman.' Quoth she,
'There is among our female slaves one who is unsurpassed in
beauty; but she hath a grievous blemish.' 'What is that?' asked
the King; and his mother answered, 'She hath had both her hands
cut off.' Said he, 'Let me see her.' So she brought her to him,
and he was ravished by her and married her and went in to her;
and she brought him a son.

Now this was the woman, who had her hands cut off for
alms-giving; and when she became queen, her fellow-wives envied
her and wrote to the King [who was then absent] that she was
unchaste; so he wrote to his mother, bidding her carry the
woman into the desert and leave her there. The old queen obeyed
his commandment and abandoned the woman and her son in the
desert; whereupon she fell to weeping and wailing exceeding
sore for that which had befallen her. As she went along, with
the child at her neck, she came to a river and knelt down to
drink, being overcome with excess of thirst, for fatigue and
grief; but, as she bent her head, the child fell into the

Then she sat weeping sore for her child, and as she wept, there
came up two men, who said to her, 'What makes thee weep?' Quoth
she, 'I had a child at my neck, and he hath fallen into the
water.' 'Wilt thou that we bring him out to thee?' asked they,
and she answered, 'Yes.' So they prayed to God the Most High,
and the child came forth of the water to her, safe and sound.
Quoth they, 'Wilt thou that God restore thee thy hands as they
were?' 'Yes,' replied she: whereupon they prayed to God,
blessed and exalted be He! and her hands were restored to her,
goodlier than before. Then said they, 'Knowst thou who we are?'
'God [only] is all-knowing,' answered she; and they said, 'We
are thy two cakes of bread, that thou gavest in alms to the
beggar and which were the cause of the cutting off of thy
hands. So praise thou God the Most High, for that He hath
restored thee thy hands and thy child.' So she praised God the
Most High and glorified Him.


There was once a devout man of the children of Israel[FN#59],
whose family span cotton; and he used every day to sell the
yarn they span and buy fresh cotton, and with the profit he
bought the day's victual for his household. One day, he went
out and sold the day's yarn as usual, when there met him one of
his brethren, who complained to him of want; so he gave him the
price of the yarn and returned, empty-handed, to his family,
who said to him, 'Where is the cotton and the food?' Quoth he,
'Such an one met me and complained to me of want; so I gave him
the price of the yarn.' And they said, 'How shall we do? We
have nothing to sell.' Now they had a broken platter and a jar;
so he took them to the market; but none would buy them of him.

Presently, as he stood in the market, there came up a man with
a stinking, swollen fish, which no one would buy of him, and he
said to the Jew, 'Wilt thou sell me thine unsaleable ware for
mine?' 'Yes,' answered the Jew and giving him the jar and
platter, took the fish and carried it home to his family, who
said, 'What shall we do with this fish?' Quoth he, 'We will
broil it and eat of it, till it please God to provide for us.'
So they took it and ripping open its belly, found therein a
great pearl and told the Jew, who said, 'See if it be pierced.
If so, it belongs to some one of the folk; if not, it is a
provision of God for us.' So they examined it and found it

On the morrow, the Jew carried it to one of his brethren, who
was skilled in jewels, and he said, 'Whence hadst thou this
pearl?' 'It was a gift of God the Most High to us,' replied the
Jew, and the other said, 'It is worth a thousand dirhems, and I
will give thee that sum; but take it to such an one, for he
hath more money and skill than I.' So the Jew took it to the
jeweller, who said, 'It is worth threescore and ten thousand
dirhems and no more. Then he paid him that sum and the Jew
hired two porters to carry the money to his house. As he came
to his door, a beggar accosted him, saying, 'Give me of that
which God the Most High hath given thee.' Quoth the Jew, 'But
yesterday, we were even as thou; take half the money.' So he
made two parts of it, and each took his half. Then said the
beggar, 'Take back thy money and God prosper thee in it; I am a
messenger, whom thy Lord hath sent to try thee.' Quoth the Jew,
'To God be the praise and the thanks!' and abode with his
family in all delight of life, till death.


Quoth Abou Hassan ez Ziyadi[FN#60], 'I was once in very needy
case, and the baker and grocer and other purveyors importuned
me, so that I was in sore straits and knew of no resource nor
what to do. Things being thus, there came in to me one day one
of my servants and said to me, "There is a man, a pilgrim, at
the door, who seeks admission to thee." Quoth I, "Admit him."
So he came in and behold, he was a native of Khorassan. We
exchanged salutations and he said to me, "Art thou Abou Hassan
ez Ziyadi?" "Yes," answered I. "What is thy business?" Quoth
he, "I am a stranger and am minded to make the pilgrimage; but
I have with me a great sum of money, which is burdensome to me.
So I wish to deposit with thee these ten thousand dirhems,
whilst I make the pilgrimage and return. If the caravan return
and thou see me not, know that I am dead, in which case the
money is a gift from me to thee; but if I come back, it shall
be mine." "Be it as thou wilt," answered I, "so it please God
the Most High." So he brought out a leather bag and I said to
the servant, "Fetch the scales." He brought them and the man
weighed out the money and handed it to me, after which he went
his way. Then I called the tradesmen and paid them what I owed
and spent freely, saying in myself, "By the time he returns,
God will have succoured me with one or another of His bounties."
However, next day, the servant came in to me and said, "Thy
friend the man from Khorassan is at the door."

"Admit him," answered I. So he came in and said to me, "I had
thought to make the pilgrimage; but news hath reached me of the
death of my father, and I have resolved to return; so give me
the money I deposited with thee yesterday." When I heard this,
I was troubled and perplexed beyond measure and knew not what
reply to make him; for, if I denied it, he would put me to my
oath, and I should be shamed in the world to come; whilst, if I
told him that I had spent the money, he would make an outcry
and disgrace me. So I said to him, "God give thee health! This
my house is no stronghold nor place of safe custody for this
money. When I received thy leather bag, I sent it to one with
whom it now is; so do thou return to us to-morrow and take thy
money, if it be the will of God."

So he went away, and I passed the night in sore concern, because
of his return to me. Sleep visited me not nor could I close my
eyes: so I rose and bade the boy saddle me the mule. "O my lord,"
answered he, "it is yet but the first watch of the night." So I
returned to bed, but sleep was forbidden to me and I ceased not
to awaken the boy and he to put me off, till break of day, when
he saddled me the mule, and I mounted and rode out, not knowing
whither to go. I threw the reins on the mule's shoulders and
gave myself up to anxiety and melancholy thought, whilst she
fared on with me to the eastward of Baghdad. Presently, as I
went along, I saw a number of people in front and turned aside
into another path to avoid them; but they, seeing that I wore
a professor's hood, followed me and hastening up to me, said,
"Knowest thou the lodging of Abou Hassan ez Ziyadi?" "I am he,"
answered I; and they rejoined, "The Commander of the Faithful
calls for thee." Then they carried me before El Mamoun, who
said to me, "Who art thou?" Quoth I, "I am a professor of the
law and traditions, and one of the associates of the Cadi Abou
Yousuf." "How art thou called?" asked the Khalif. "Abou Hassan
ez Ziyadi," answered I, and he said, "Expound to me thy case."

So I told him how it was with me and he wept sore and said to
me, "Out on thee! The Apostle of God (whom may He bless and
preserve) would not let me sleep this night, because of thee;
for he appeared to me in my first sleep and said to me,
'Succour Abou Hassan ez Ziyadi.' Whereupon I awoke and knowing
thee not, went to sleep again; but he came to me a second time
and said to me, 'Woe to thee! Succour Abou Hassan ez Ziyadi.' I
awoke a second time, but knew thee not, so went to sleep again;
and he came to me a third time and still I knew thee not and
went to sleep again. Then he came to me once more and said,
'Out on thee! Succour Abou Hassan ez Ziyadi!' After that I
dared not go to sleep again, but watched the rest of the night
and aroused my people and sent them in all directions in quest
of thee." Then he gave me ten thousand dirhems, saying, "This
is for the Khorassani," and other ten thousand, saying, "Spend
freely of this and amend thy case therewith, and set thine
affairs in order." Moreover, he gave me yet thirty thousand
dirhems, saying, "Furnish thyself with this, and when the day
of estate comes round, come thou to me, that I may invest thee
with an office."

So I took the money and returned home, where I prayed the
morning-prayer. Presently came the Khorassani, so I carried him
into the house and brought out to him ten thousand dirhems,
saying, "Here is thy money." "It is not my very money,"
answered he. "How cometh this?" So I told him the whole story,
and he wept and said, "By Allah, hadst thou told me the truth
at first, I had not pressed thee! And now, by Allah, I will not
accept aught of the money; and thou art quit of it." So saying,
he went away and I set my affairs in order and repaired on the
appointed day to the Divan, where I found the Khalif seated.
When he saw me, he called me to him and bringing forth to me a
paper from under his prayer-carpet, said to me, "This is a
patent, conferring on thee the office of Cadi of the western
division of the Holy City[FN#61] from the Bab es Selam[FN#62]
to the end of the town; and I appoint thee such and such
monthly allowances. So fear God (to whom belong might and
majesty) and be mindful of the solicitude of His Apostle (whom
may He bless and preserve) on thine account." The folk marvelled
at the Khalif's words and questioned me of their meaning; so I
told them the whole story and it spread abroad amongst the

And [quoth he who tells the tale] Abou Hassan ez Ziyadi ceased
not to be Cadi of the Holy City, till he died in the days of El
Mamoun, the mercy of God be on him!


There was once a rich man, who lost all he had and became poor,
whereupon his wife counselled him to seek aid of one of his
friends. So he betook himself to a certain friend of his and
acquainted him with his strait; and he lent him five hundred
dinars to trade withal. Now he had aforetime been a jeweller;
so he took the money and went to the jewel-bazaar, where he
opened a shop to buy and sell. Presently, three men accosted
him, as he sat in his shop, and asked for his father. He told
them that he was dead, and they said, 'Did he leave any
offspring?' Quoth the jeweller, 'He left a son, your servant.'
'And who knoweth thee for his son?' asked they. 'The people of
the bazaar,' replied he; and they said, 'Call them together,
that they may testify to us that thou art his son.' So he
called them and they bore witness of this; whereupon the three
men delivered to him a pair of saddle-bags, containing thirty
thousand dinars, besides jewels and bullion, saying, 'This was
deposited with us in trust by thy father.' Then they went away;
and presently there came to him a woman, who sought of him
certain of the jewels, worth five hundred dinars, and paid him
three thousand for them.

So he took five hundred dinars and carrying them to his friend,
who had lent him the money, said to him, 'Take the five hundred
dinars I borrowed of thee; for God hath aided and prospered
me.' 'Not so,' quoth the other. 'I gave them to thee outright,
for the love of God; so do thou keep them. And take this paper,
but read it not, till thou be at home, and do according to that
which is therein.' So he took the paper and returned home,
where he opened it and read therein the following verses:

The men who came to thee at first my kinsmen were, my sire, His
brother and my dam's, Salih ben Ali is his name.
Moreover, she to whom thou soldst the goods my mother was, And
eke the jewels and the gold, from me, to boot, they came;
Nor, in thus ordering myself to thee, aught did I seek Save of
the taking it from me to spare thee from the shame.


There lived once in Baghdad a very wealthy man, who lost all
his substance and became so poor, that he could only earn his
living by excessive labour. One night, he lay down to sleep,
dejected and sick at heart, and saw in a dream one who said to
him, 'Thy fortune is at Cairo; go thither and seek it.' So he
set out for Cairo; but, when he arrived there, night overtook
him and he lay down to sleep in a mosque. Presently, as fate
would have it, a company of thieves entered the mosque and made
their way thence into an adjoining house; but the people of the
house, being aroused by the noise, awoke and cried out;
whereupon the chief of the police came to their aid with his
officers. The robbers made off; but the police entered the
mosque and finding the man from Baghdad asleep there, laid hold
of him and beat him with palm rods, till he was well-nigh dead.
Then they cast him into prison, where he abode three days,
after which the chief of the police sent for him and said to
him, 'Whence art thou?' 'From Baghdad,' answered he. 'And what
brought thee to Cairo?' asked the magistrate. Quoth the
Baghdadi, 'I saw in a dream one who said to me, "Thy fortune is
at Cairo; go thither to it." But when I came hither, the
fortune that he promised me proved to be the beating I had of

The chief of the police laughed, till he showed his jaw-teeth,
and said, 'O man of little wit, thrice have I seen in a dream
one who said to me, "There is in Baghdad a house of such a
fashion and situate so-and-so, in the garden whereof is a
fountain and thereunder a great sum of money buried. Go thither
and take it." Yet I went not; but thou, of thy little wit, hast
journeyed from place to place, on the faith of a dream, which
was but an illusion of sleep.' Then he gave him money, saying,
'This is to help thee back to thy native land.' Now the house
he had described was the man's own house in Baghdad; so the
latter returned thither, and digging underneath the fountain in
his garden, discovered a great treasure; and [thus] God gave
him abundant fortune.


There were in the palace of the Khalif El Mutawekkil ala Allah
[FN#63] four thousand concubines, whereof two thousand were
Greeks [and other foreigners] and other two thousand native
Arabians[FN#64] and Abyssinians; and Obeid ibn Tahir[FN#65]
had given him two hundred white girls and a like number of
Abyssinian and native girls[FN#66]. Among these latter was a
girl of Bassora, Mehboubeh by name, who was of surpassing
beauty and elegance and voluptuous grace. Moreover, she played
upon the lute and was skilled in singing and making verses and
wrote excellent well; so that El Mutawekkil fell passionately
in love with her and could not endure from her a single hour.
When she saw this, she presumed upon his favour to use him
haughtily and capriciously, so that he waxed exceeding wroth
with her and forsook her, forbidding the people of the palace
to speak with her.

On this wise she abode some days, but the Khalif still inclined
to her; and he arose one morning and said to his courtiers,
'I dreamt, last night, that I was reconciled to Mehboubeh.'
'Would God this might be on wake!' answered they. As they were
talking, in came one of the Khalif's maidservants and whispered
him that they had heard a noise of singing and luting in
Mehboubeh's chamber and knew not what this meant. So he rose
and entering the harem, went straight to Mehboubeh's apartment,
where he heard her playing wonder-sweetly upon the lute and
singing the following verses:

I wander through the halls, but not a soul I see, To whom I may
complain or who will speak with me.
It is as though I'd wrought so grievous an offence, No
penitence avails myself therefrom to free.
Will no one plead my cause with a king, who came to me In sleep
and took me back to favour and to gree;
But with the break of day to rigour did revert And cast me off
from him and far away did flee?

When the Khalif heard these verses, he marvelled at the strange
coincidence of their dreams and entered the chamber. As soon as
she was ware of him, she hastened to throw herself at his feet,
and kissing them, said, 'By Allah, O my lord, this is what I
dreamt last night; and when I awoke, I made the verses thou
hast heard.' ''By Allah,' replied El Mutawekkil, 'I also dreamt
the like!' Then they embraced and made friends and he abode
with her seven days and nights.

Now she had written upon her cheek, in musk, the Khalif's name,
which was Jaafer: and when he saw this, he made the following

One wrote on her cheek, with musk, a name, yea, Jaafer to wit:
My soul be her ransom who wrote on her cheek what I see on
If her fingers, indeed, have traced a single line on her cheek,
I trow, in my heart of hearts full many a line she hath
O thou, whom Jaafer alone of men possesses, may God Grant
Jaafer to drink his fill of the wine of thy beauty and

When El Mutawekkil died, all his women forgot him save
Mehboubeh, who ceased not to mourn for him, till she died and
was buried by his side, the mercy of God be on them both!


There lived once in Cairo, in the days of the Khalif El Hakim
bi Amrillah, a butcher named Werdan, who dealt in sheep's
flesh; and there came to him every forenoon a lady and gave him
a diner, whose weight was nigh two and a half Egyptian diners,
saying, 'Give me a lamb.' So he took the money and gave her the
lamb, which she delivered to a porter she had with her; and he
put it in his basket and she went away with him to her own
place. This went on for some time, the butcher profiting a
dinar by her every day, till at last he began to be curious
about her and said to himself, 'This woman buys a diner's worth
of meat of me every day, paying ready money, and never misses a
day. Verily, this is a strange thing!' So he took an occasion
of questioning the porter, in her absence, and said to him,
'Whither goest thou every day with yonder woman?' 'I know not
what to make of her,' answered the porter; 'for, every day,
after she hath taken the lamb of thee, she buys fresh and dried
fruits and wax candles and other necessaries of the table, a
dinar's worth, and takes of a certain Nazarene two flagons of
wine, for which she pays him another diner. Then she loads me
with the whole and I go with her to the Vizier's Gardens, where
she blindfolds me, so that I cannot see where I set my feet,
and taking me by the hand, leads me I know not whither.
Presently, she says, "Set down here;" and when I have done so,
she gives me an empty basket she has ready and taking my hand,
leads me back to the place, where she bound my eyes, and there
does off the bandage and gives me ten dirhems.' 'God be her
helper!' quoth Werdan; but he redoubled in curiosity about her
case; disquietude increased upon him and he passed the night in
exceeding restlessness.

Next morning, [quoth Werdan,] she came to me as of wont and
taking the lamb, delivered it to the porter and went away. So I
gave my shop in charge to a boy and followed her, unseen of
her; nor did I cease to keep her in sight, hiding behind her,
till she left Cairo and came to the Vizier's Gardens. Then I
hid, whilst she bound the porter's eyes, and followed her again
from place to place, till she came to the mountain and stopped
at a place where there was a great stone. Here she made the
porter set down his crate, and I waited, whilst she carried him
back to the Vizier's Gardens, after which she returned and
taking out the contents of the basket, disappeared behind the
stone. Then I went up to the stone and pulling it away,
discovered behind it an open trap-door of brass and a flight of
steps leading downward. So I descended, little by little, into
a long corridor, brilliantly lighted, and followed it, till I
came to a [closed] door, as it were the door of a room. I
looked about till I discovered a recess, with steps therein;
then climbed up and found a little niche with an opening
therein giving upon a saloon.

So I looked in and saw the lady cut off the choicest parts of
the lamb and laying them in a saucepan, throw the rest to a
huge great bear, who ate it all to the last bit. When she had
made an end of cooking, she ate her fill, after which she set
on wine and fruits and confections and fell to drinking, using
a cup herself and giving the bear to drink in a basin of gold,
till she was heated with wine, when she put off her trousers
and lay down. Thereupon the bear came up to her and served her,
whilst she gave him the best of what belongeth to mankind, till
he had made an end, when he sat down and rested. Presently, he
sprang to her and served her again; and thus he did, till he
had furnished half a score courses, and they both fell down in
a swoon and abode without motion.

Then said I to myself, "Now is my opportunity," and taking a
knife I had with me, that would cut bones before flesh, went
down to them and found them motionless, not a muscle of them
moving for their much swink. So I put my knife to the bear's
gullet and bore upon it, till I severed his head from his body,
and he gave a great snort like thunder, whereat she started up
in alarm and seeing the bear slain and me standing with the
knife in my hand, gave such a shriek that I thought the soul
had left her body. Then said she, "O Werdan, is this how thou
requitest me my favours?" "O enemy of thine own soul," replied
I, "dost thou lack of men that thou must do this shameful
thing?" She made me no answer, but bent down to the bear, and
finding his head divided from his body, said to me, "O Werdan,
which were the liefer to thee, to hearken to what I shall say
to thee and be the means of thine own safety and enrichment to
the end of thy days, or gainsay me and so bring about thine own
destruction?" "I choose rather to hearken unto thee," answered
I. "Say what thou wilt." "Then," said she, "kill me, as thou
hast killed this bear, and take thy need of this treasure and
go thy way." Quoth I, "I am better than this bear. Return to
God the Most High and repent, and I will marry thee, and we
will live on this treasure the rest of our lives." "O Werdan,"
rejoined she, "far be it from me! How shall I live after him?
An thou kill me not, by Allah, I will assuredly do away thy
life! So leave bandying words with me, or thou art a lost man.
This is all I have to say to thee and peace be on thee." Then
said I, "I will slay thee, and thou shalt go to the malediction
of God." So saying, I caught her by the hair and cut her
throat; and she went to the malediction of God and of the
angels and of all mankind.

Then I examined the place and found there gold and pearls and
jewels, such as no king could bring together. So I filled the
porter's crate with as much as I could carry and covered it
with the clothes I had on me. Then I shouldered it and going up
out of the underground place, set out homeward and fared on,
till I came to the gate of Cairo, where I fell in with ten of
the Khalif's body-guard, followed by El Hakim[FN#67] himself,
who said to me. "Ho, Werdan!" "At thy service, O King," replied
I. "Hast thou killed the woman and the bear?" asked he and I
answered, "Yes." Quoth he, "Set down the basket and fear
naught, for all the treasure thou hast with thee is thine, and
none shall dispute it with thee." So I set down the basket, and
he uncovered it and looked at it; then said to me, "Tell me
their case, though I know it, as if I had been present with
you." So I told him all that had passed and he said, "Thou hast
spoken the truth, O Werdan. Come now with me to the treasure."

So I returned with him to the cavern, where he found the
trap-door closed and said to me, "O Werdan, lift it; none but
thou can open the treasure, for it is enchanted in thy name and
favour." "By Allah," answered I, "I cannot open it;" but he
said, "Go up to it, trusting in the blessing of God." So I
called upon the name of God the Most High and going up to the
trap-door, put my hand to it; whereupon it came up, as it had
been the lightest of things. Then said the Khalif, "Go down and
bring up what is there; for none but one of thy name and favour
and quality hath gone down there since the place was made, and
the slaying of the bear and the woman was appointed to be at
thy hand. This was recorded with me and I was awaiting its
fulfilment." Accordingly, I went down and brought up all the
treasure, whereupon the Khalif sent for beasts of burden and
carried it away, after giving me the porter's crate, with what
was therein. So I carried it home and opened me a shop in the
market. And [quoth he who tells the tale] this market is still
extant and is known as Werdan's Market.


There was once a King's daughter, whose heart was taken with
love of a black slave: he did away her maidenhead, and she
became passionately addicted to amorous dalliance, so that she
could not endure from it a single hour and made moan of her
case to one of her body women, who told her that no thing doth
the deed of kind more abundantly than the ape. Now it chanced,
one day, that an ape-leader passed under her lattice, with a
great ape; so she unveiled her face and looking upon the ape,
signed to him with her eyes, whereupon he broke his bonds and
shackles and climbed up to the princess, who hid him in a place
with her, and he abode, eating and drinking and cricketing,
night and day. Her father heard of this and would have killed
her; but she took the alarm and disguising herself in a [male]
slave's habit, loaded a mule with gold and jewels and precious
stuffs past count; then, taking horse with the ape, fled to
Cairo, where she took up her abode in one of the houses without
the city.

Now, every day, she used to buy meat of a young man, a butcher,
but came not to him till after noonday, pale and disordered in
face; so that he said in himself, 'There hangs some mystery by
this slave.' For she used to visit him in her slave's habit.
[Quoth the butcher,] So, one day, when she came to me as usual,
I went out after her, unseen, and ceased not to follow her from
place to place, so as she saw me not, till she came to her
lodging, without the city, and I looked in upon her, through a
cranny, and saw her light a fire and cook the meat, of which
she ate her fill and gave the rest to an ape she had with her.
Then she put off her slave's habit and donned the richest of
women's apparel; and so I knew that she was a woman. After this
she set on wine and drank and gave the ape to drink; and he
served her nigh half a score times, till she swooned away, when
he threw a silken coverlet over her and returned to his place.

Thereupon I went down into the midst of the place and the ape,
becoming aware of me, would have torn me in pieces; but I made
haste to pull out my knife and slit his paunch. The noise
aroused the young lady, who awoke, terrified and trembling; and
when she saw the ape in this plight, she gave such a shriek,
that her soul well-nigh departed her body. Then she fell down
in a swoon, and when she came to herself, she said to me, "What
moved thee to do thus? By Allah, I conjure thee to send me after
him!" But I spoke her fair and engaged to her that I would stand
in the ape's stead, in the matter of much clicketing, till her
trouble subsided and I took her to wife.

However, I fell short in this and could not endure to it; so I
complained of her case to a certain old woman, who engaged to
manage the affair and said to me, "Thou must bring me a cooking-
pot full of virgin vinegar and a pound of pyrethrum."[FN#68]
So I brought her what she sought, and she laid the pyrethrum
in the pot with the vinegar and set it on the fire, till it
boiled briskly. Then she bade me serve the girl, and I served
her, till she fainted away, when the old woman took her up, and
she unknowing, and set her kaze to the mouth of the cooking-pot.
The steam of the pot entered her poke and there fell from it
somewhat, which I examined and behold, it was two worms, one
black and the other yellow. Quoth the old woman, "The black was
bred of the embraces of the negro and the yellow of those of
the ape."

When my wife recovered from her swoon, she abode with me, in
all delight and solace of life, and sought not copulation, as
before, for God the Most High had done away from her this
appetite; whereat I marvelled and acquainted her with the case.
Moreover, [quoth he who tells the tale,] she took the old woman
to be to her in the stead of her mother, and she and Werdan and
his wife abode in joy and cheer, till there came to them the
Destroyer of Delights and the Sunderer of Companies; and glory
be to the Living One, who dieth not and in whose hand is the
empire of the Seen and the Unseen!


There was once, of old time, a great and puissant King, of the
Kings of the Persians, Sabour by name, who was the richest of
all the Kings in store of wealth and dominion and surpassed them
all in wit and wisdom. Generous, open-handed and beneficent, he
gave to those who sought and repelled not those who resorted to
him, comforted the broken-hearted and honourably entreated those
who fled to him for refuge. Moreover, he loved the poor and was
hospitable to strangers and did the oppressed justice upon those
who oppressed them. He had three daughters, like shining full
moons or flowered gardens, and a son as he were the moon; and it
was his wont to keep two festivals in the year, those of the New
Year and the Autumnal Equinox, on which occasions he threw open
his palaces and gave gifts and made proclamation of safety and
security and advanced his chamberlains and officers; and the
people of his realm came in to him and saluted him and gave him
joy of the festival, bringing him gifts and servants.

Now he loved science and geometry, and one day, as he sat on
his throne of kingship, during one of these festivals, there
came in to him three sages, cunning artificers and past masters
in all manner of crafts and inventions, skilled in making
rarities, such as confound the wit, and versed in the knowledge
of [occult] truths and subtleties; and they were of three
different tongues and countries, the first an Indian, the
second a Greek and the third a Persian. The Indian came forward
and prostrating himself before the King, gave him joy of the
festival and laid before him a present befitting [his dignity];
that is to say, a figure of gold, set with precious stones and
jewels of price and holding in its hand a golden trumpet. When
Sabour saw this, he said, 'O sage, what is the virtue of this
figure?' And the Indian answered, 'O my lord; if this figure be
set at the gate of thy city, it will be a guardian over it;
for, if an enemy enter the place, it will blow this trumpet
against him, and so he will be known and laid hands on.' The
King marvelled at this and said, 'By Allah, O sage, an this thy
word be true, I will grant thee thy wish and thy desire.'

Then came forward the Greek and prostrating himself before the
King, presented him with a basin of silver, in whose midst was
a peacock of gold, surrounded by four-and-twenty young ones of
the same metal. Sabour looked at them and turning to the Greek,
said to him, 'O sage, what is the virtue of this peacock?' 'O
my lord,' answered he, 'as often as an hour of the day or night
passes, it pecks one of its young [and cries out and flaps its
wings,] till the four-and-twenty hours are accomplished; and
when the month comes to an end, it will open its mouth and thou
shalt see the new moon therein.' And the King said, 'An thou
speak sooth, I will bring thee to thy wish and thy desire.'

Then came forward the Persian sage and prostrating himself
before the King, presented him with a horse of ebony wood,
inlaid with gold and jewels, ready harnessed with saddle and
bridle and stirrups such as befit kings; which when Sabour saw,
he marvelled exceedingly and was confounded at the perfection
of its form and the ingenuity of its fashion. So he said, 'What
is the use of this horse of wood, and what is its virtue and
the secret of its movement?' 'O my lord,' answered the Persian,
'the virtue of this horse is that, if one mount him, it will
carry him whither he will and fare with its rider through the
air for the space of a year and a day.' The King marvelled and
was amazed at these three wonders, following thus hard upon
each other in one day, and turning to the sage, said to him,
'By the Great God and the Bountiful Lord, who created all
creatures and feedeth them with water and victual, an thy
speech be true and the virtue of thy handiwork appear, I will
give thee whatsoever thou seekest and will bring thee to thy
wish and thy desire!'

Then he entertained the three sages three days, that he might
make trial of their gifts, after which they brought them before
him and each took the creature he had wrought and showed him
the secret of its movement. The trumpeter blew the trumpet, the
peacock pecked its young and the Persian sage mounted the horse
of ebony, whereupon it soared with him into the air and
descended again. When the King saw all this, he was amazed and
perplexed and was like to fly for joy and said to the three
sages, 'Now am I certified of the truth of your words and it
behoves me to quit me of my promise. Seek ye, therefore, what
ye will, and I will give it you.' Now the report of the [beauty
of the] King's daughters had reached the sages, so they
answered, 'If the King be content with us and accept of our
gifts and give us leave to ask a boon of him, we ask of him
that he give us his three daughters in marriage, that we may be
his sons-in-law; for that the stability of kings may not be
gainsaid.' Quoth the King, 'I grant you that which you desire,'
and bade summon the Cadi forthright, that he might marry each
of the sages to one of his daughters.

Now these latter were behind a curtain, looking on; and when they
heard this, the youngest considered [him that was to be] her
husband and saw him to be an old man, a hundred years of age,
with frosted hair, drooping forehead, mangy eyebrows, slitten
ears, clipped[FN#69] beard and moustaches, red, protruding eyes,
bleached, hollow, flabby cheeks, nose like an egg-plant and face
like a cobbler's apron, teeth overlapping one another,[FN#70]
lips like camel's kidneys, loose and pendulous; brief, a monstrous
favour; for he was the frightfullest of the folk of his time; his
grinders had been knocked[FN#71] out and his teeth were like the
tusks of the Jinn that fright the fowls in the hen-house. Now the
princess was the fairest and most graceful woman of her time, more
elegant than the tender gazelle, blander than the gentle zephyr
and brighter than the moon at her full, confounding the branch
and outdoing the gazelle in the flexile grace of her shape and
movements; and she was fairer and sweeter than her sisters. So,
when she saw her suitor, she went to her chamber and strewed dust
on her head and tore her clothes and fell to buffeting her face
and lamenting and weeping.

Now the prince her brother, who loved her with an exceeding
love, more than her sisters, was then newly returned from a
journey and hearing her weeping and crying, came in to her and
said, 'What ails thee? Tell me and conceal nought from me.' 'O
my brother and my dear one,' answered she, 'if the palace be
straitened upon thy father, I will go out; and if he be
resolved upon a foul thing, I will separate myself from him,
though he consent not to provide for me.' Quoth he, 'Tell me
what means this talk and what has straitened thy breast and
troubled thy humour.' 'O my brother and my dear one,' answered
the princess, 'know that my father hath given me in marriage to
a sorcerer, who brought him, as a gift, a horse of black wood,
and hath stricken him with his craft and his sorcery; but, as
for me, I will none of him, and would, because of him, I had
never come into this world!' Her brother soothed her and
comforted her, then betook himself to his father and said to
him, 'What is this sorcerer to whom thou hast given my youngest
sister in marriage, and what is this present that he hath
brought thee, so that thou hast caused my sister to [almost]
die of chagrin? It is not right that this should be.'

Now the Persian was standing by and when he heard the prince's
words, he was mortified thereby and filled with rage, and the
King said, 'O my son, an thou sawest this horse, thy wit would
be confounded and thou wouldst be filled with amazement.' Then
he bade the slaves bring the horse before him and they did so;
and when the prince, who was an accomplished cavalier, saw it,
it pleased him. So he mounted it forthright and struck its
belly with the stirrup-irons; but it stirred not and the King
said to the sage, 'Go and show him its movement, that he also
may help thee to thy wish.' Now the Persian bore the prince
malice for that he willed not he should have his sister; so he
showed him the peg of ascent on the right side [of the horse's
neck] and saying to him, 'Turn this pin,' left him. So the
prince turned the pin and forthwith the horse soared with him
into the air, as it were a bird, and gave not over flying with
him, till it disappeared from sight, whereat the King was
troubled and perplexed about his affair and said to the
Persian, 'O sage, look how thou mayst make him descend.' But he
answered, 'O my lord, I can do nothing, and thou wilt never see
him again till the Day of Resurrection, for that he, of his
ignorance and conceit, asked me not of the peg of descent and I
forgot to acquaint him therewith.' When the King heard this, he
was sore enraged and bade beat the sorcerer and clap him in
prison, whilst he himself cast the crown from his head and
buffeted his face and beat upon his breast. Moreover, he shut
the doors of his palaces and gave himself up to weeping and
lamentation, he and his wife and daughters and all the folk of
the city; and [thus] their joy was turned to mourning and their
gladness changed into chagrin and sore affliction.

Meanwhile, the horse gave not over soaring with the prince,
till he drew near the sun, whereat he gave himself up for lost
and was confounded at his case, repenting him of having mounted
the horse and saying in himself, 'Verily, this was a plot of
the sage to destroy me; but there is no power and no virtue but
in God the Most High, the Supreme! I am lost without recourse;
but, I wonder, did not he who made the peg of ascent make a peg
of descent also?' Now he was a man of wit and intelligence; so
he fell to examining all the parts of the horse, but saw
nothing save a peg, like a cock's head, on its right shoulder
and the like on the left, and turned the right-hand peg,
whereupon the horse flew upward with increased speed. So he
left it and turned the left-hand peg, and immediately the
steed's upward motion ceased and he began to descend, little by
little, towards the earth. When the prince saw this and knew
the uses of the horse, he was filled with joy and gladness and
thanked God the Most High for that He had vouchsafed to deliver
him from destruction. Then he began to turn the horse's head
whither he would, making him rise and fall at pleasure, till he
had gotten complete command of his movement.

He ceased not to descend the whole of that day, for that the
steed's upward flight had borne him afar from the earth; and as
he descended, he diverted himself with viewing the various
towns and countries over which he passed and which he knew not,
having never seen them in his life. Amongst the rest, he saw a
city of the goodliest ordinance, in the midst of a green and
smiling country, abounding in trees and streams; whereat he
fell a-musing and said in himself, 'Would I knew the name of
yonder city and in what country it is!' And he began to circle
about it and observe it right and left. By this time, the day
began to wane and the sun drew near to its setting; and he
said, 'I see no goodlier place to pass the night in than this
city; so I will lodge here this night and on the morrow I will
return to my people and my kingdom and tell my father and
family what has passed and what I have seen with my eyes.' Then
he addressed himself to look for a place, where he might safely
bestow himself and his horse and where none should see him, and
presently espied a palace, surrounded by a great wall with
lofty battlements, rising high into the air from the midst of
the city and guarded by forty black slaves, clad in complete
mail and armed with spears and swords and bows and arrows.
Quoth he, 'This is a goodly place,' and turned the peg of
descent, whereupon the horse sank down with him and alighted
gently on the roof of the palace. So the prince dismounted and
began to go round about the horse and examine it, saying, 'By
Allah, he who fashioned thee was a cunning craftsman, and if God
extend the term of my life and restore me to my country and family
in safety and reunite me with my father, I will assuredly bestow
upon him all manner of bounties and entreat him with the utmost

By this time the night had overtaken him and he sat on the
roof, till he was assured that all in the palace slept; and
indeed hunger and thirst were sore upon him, for that he had
not tasted food since he parted from his father. So he said in
himself, 'Surely, the like of this palace will not lack of
victual,' and leaving the horse there, went in quest of
somewhat to eat. Presently, he came to a stair and descending
it, found himself in a court paved with white marble and
alabaster, that shone in the light of the moon. He marvelled at
the place and the goodliness of its fashion, but heard no sound
and saw no living soul and stood in perplexity, looking right
and left and knowing not whither he should go. Then said he to
himself, 'I cannot do better than return to where I left my
horse and pass the night by it; and as soon as it is day, I
will mount and depart.' However, as he stood talking to
himself, he espied a light within the palace, and making
towards it, found that it came from a candle that stood before
a door of the palace, at the head of an eunuch, as he were one
of the Afrits of Solomon or a tribesman of the Jinn, longer
than a plank and wider than a bench. He lay asleep before the
door, with the pommel of his sword gleaming in the flame of the
candle, and at his head was a budget of leather[FN#72] hanging
from a column of granite.

When the prince saw this, he was affrighted and said, 'I crave
help from God the Supreme! O my God, even as Thou hast [already]
delivered me from destruction, vouchsafe me strength to quit
myself of the adventure of this palace!' So saying, he put out
his hand to the budget and taking it, carried it to a place
apart and opened it and found in it food of the best. So he
ate his fill and refreshed himself and drank water, after
which he hung the budget up in its place and drawing the
eunuch's sword from its sheath, took it, whilst the latter
slept on, knowing not whence destiny should come to him. Then
the prince fared on into the palace, till he came to another
door, with a curtain drawn before it; so he raised the curtain
and entering, saw a couch of ivory, inlaid with pearls and
jacinths and jewels, and four slave-girls sleeping about it. He
went up to the couch, to see what was therein, and found a
young lady lying asleep, veiled with her hair, as she were the
full moon at its rising, with flower-white forehead and
shining parting and cheeks like blood-red anemones and dainty
moles thereon.

When he saw this, he was amazed at her beauty and grace and
symmetry and recked no more of death. So he went up to her,
trembling in every nerve, and kissed her on the right cheek;
whereupon she awoke forthright and seeing the prince standing
at her head, said to him, 'Who art thou and whence comest thou?'
Quoth he, 'I am thy slave and thy lover.' 'And who brought thee
hither?' asked she. 'My Lord and my fortune,' answered he; and
she said, 'Belike thou art he who demanded me yesterday of my
father in marriage and he rejected thee, pretending that thou
wast foul of favour. By Allah he lied, when he spoke this thing,
for thou art not other than handsome.'

Now the son of the King of Hind[FN#73] had sought her in
marriage, but her father had rejected him, for that he was ill-
favoured, and she thought the prince was he. So, when she saw
his beauty and grace, for indeed he was like the radiant moon,
her heart was taken in the snare of his love, as it were a
flaming fire, and they fell to talk and converse. Presently,
her waiting-women awoke from their sleep and seeing the prince
sitting with their mistress, said to her, 'O my lady, who is
this with thee?' Quoth she, 'I know not; I found him sitting by
me, when I awoke. Belike it is he who seeks me in marriage of
my father.' 'O my lady,' answered they, 'by the Most Great God,
this is not he who seeks thee in marriage, for he is foul and
this man is fair and of high condition. Indeed, the other is
not fit to be his servant.'

Then they went out to the eunuch and finding him asleep, awoke
him, and he started up in alarm. Quoth they, 'How comes it that
thou art guardian of the palace and yet men come in to us,
whilst we are asleep?' When the eunuch heard this, he sprang in
haste to his sword, but found it not, and fear took him and
trembling. Then he went in, confounded, to his mistress and
seeing the prince sitting talking with her, said to the former,
'O my lord, art thou a man or a genie?' 'O it on thee, O
unluckiest of slaves!' replied the prince. 'How darest thou
even a prince of the sons of the Chosroes with one of the
unbelieving Satans?' Then he took the sword in his hand and
said, 'I am the King's son-in-law, and he hath married me to
his daughter and bidden me go in to her.' 'O my lord,' replied
the eunuch, 'if thou be indeed a man, as thou avouchest, she is
fit for none but thee, and thou art worthier of her than any

Then he ran to the King, shrieking out and rending his clothes
and casting dust upon his head; and when the King heard his
outcry, he said to him, 'What has befallen thee? Speak quickly
and be brief; for thou troublest my heart.' 'O King,' answered
the eunuch, 'come to thy daughter's succour; for a devil of the
Jinn, in the likeness of a king's son, hath gotten possession
of her; so up and at him!' When the King heard this, he thought
to kill him and said, 'How camest thou to be careless of my
daughter and let this demon come at her?' Then he betook
himself to the princess's palace, where he found her women
standing, [awaiting him] and said to them, 'What is come to my
daughter?' 'O King,' answered they, 'sleep overcame us and when
we awoke, we found a young man sitting talking with her, as he
were the full moon, never saw we a fairer of favour than he. So
we questioned him of his case and he avouched that thou hadst
given him thy daughter in marriage. More than this we know not,
nor do we know if he be a man or a genie; but he is modest and
well bred, and doth nothing unseemly.'

When the King heard this, his wrath cooled and he raised the
curtain stealthily and looking in, saw a prince of the goodliest
fashion, with a face like the shining full moon, sitting talking
with his daughter. At this sight he could not contain himself,
of his jealousy for his daughter, and putting the curtain aside,
rushed in upon them, like a Ghoul, with his drawn sword in his
hand. When the prince saw him, he said to the princess, 'Is this
thy father?' 'Yes,' answered she; whereupon he sprang to his
feet and taking his sword in his hand, cried out at the King
with such a terrible cry, that he was confounded. Then he would
have fallen on him with the sword; but the King, seeing that the
prince was doughtier than he, sheathed his blade and stood till
the latter came up to him, when he accosted him courteously and
said to him, 'O youth, art thou a man or a genie?' Quoth the
prince, 'Did I not respect thy right[FN#74] and thy daughter's
honour, I would spill thy blood! How darest thou even me with
devils, me that am a prince of the sons of the Chosroes, who,
had they a mind to take thy kingdom, could shake thee from thy
power and thy dominion and despoil thee of all thy possessions?'
When the King heard his words, he was smitten with awe and fear
of him and rejoined, 'If thou indeed be of the sons of the kings,
as thou pretendest, how comes it that thou enterest my palace,
without my leave, and soilest my honour, making thy way to my
daughter and feigning that thou art her husband and that I have
given her to thee to wife, I that have slain kings and kings'
sons, who sought her of me in marriage? And now who shall save
thee from my mischief, when, if I cried out to my slaves and
servants and bade them put thee to death, they would slay thee
forthright? Who then shall deliver thee out of my hand?'

When the prince heard this speech of the King, he answered,
'Verily, I wonder at thee and at the poverty of thy wit! Canst
thou covet for thy daughter a goodlier mate than myself and
hast ever seen a stouter of heart or a more sufficient or a
more glorious in rank and dominion than I?' 'Nay, by Allah,'
rejoined the King. 'But, O youth, I would have had thee make
suit to me for her hand before witnesses, that I might marry
her to thee publicly; and now, were I to marry her to thee
privily, yet hast thou dishonoured me in her person.' 'Thou
sayst well, O King,' replied the prince; 'but, if thy servants
and soldiers should fall upon me and slay me, as thou pretendest,
thou wouldst but publish thine own dishonour, and the folk
would be divided between belief and disbelief with regard
to thee. Wherefore, meseems thou wilt do well to turn from
this thought to that which I shall counsel thee.' Quoth the
King, 'Let me hear what thou hast to propose.' And the prince
said, 'What I have to propose to thee is this: either do
thou meet me in single combat and he who slays the other shall
be held the worthier and having a better title to the kingdom;
or else, let me be this night and on the morrow draw out
against me thy horsemen and footmen and servants; but [first]
tell me their number.' Quoth the King, 'They are forty thousand
horse, besides my own slaves and their followers, who are the
like of them in number.' 'When the day breaks, then,' continued
the prince, 'do thou array them against me and say to them,
"This fellow is a suitor to me for my daughter's hand, on
condition that he shall do battle single-handed against you
all; for he pretends that he will overcome you and put you to
the rout and that ye cannot prevail against him." Then leave me
to do battle with them. If they kill me, then is thy secret the
safelier hidden and thine honour the better guarded; and if I
overcome them, then is the like of me one whose alliance a King
should covet.'

The King approved of his counsel and accepted his proposition,
despite his awe and amaze at the exorbitant pretension of the
prince to do battle against his whole army, such as he had
described it to him, being at heart assured that he would
perish in the mellay and so he be quit of him and freed from
the fear of dishonour. So he called the eunuch and bade him go
forthright to his Vizier and bid him assemble the whole of the
troops and cause them don their arms and mount their horses.
The eunuch carried the King's order to the Vizier, who straightway
summoned the captains of the army and the grandees of the realm
and bade them don their harness of war and mount their horses
and sally forth in battle array.

Meanwhile, the King sat conversing with the prince, being
pleased with his wit and good breeding, till daybreak, when he
returned to his palace and seating himself on his throne,
commanded the troops to mount and bade saddle one of the best
of the royal horses with handsome housings and trappings and
bring it to the prince. But the latter said, 'O King, I will
not mount, till I come in sight of the troops and see them.'
'Be it as thou wilt,' answered the King. Then they repaired to
the tilting ground, where the troops were drawn up, and the
prince looked upon them and noted their great number; after
which the King cried out to them, saying, 'Ho, all ye men,
there is come to me a youth who seeks my daughter in marriage,
--never have I seen a goodlier than he, no, nor a stouter of
heart nor a doughtier, for he pretends that he can overcome
you, single-handed, and put you to the rout and that, were ye a
hundred thousand in number, yet would ye be for him but little.
But, when he charges upon you, do ye receive him upon the
points of your lances and the edges of your sabres; for,
indeed, he hath undertaken a grave matter.'

Then said he to the prince, 'Up, O my son, and do thy will on
them.' 'O King,' answered he, 'thou dealest not fairly with me.
How shall I go forth against them, seeing that I am afoot and
they are mounted?' 'I bade thee mount, and thou refusedst,'
rejoined the King; 'but take which of my horses thou wilt.' But
he said, 'None of thy horses pleases me, and I will ride none
but that on which I came.' 'And where is thy horse?' asked the
King. 'Atop of thy palace,' answered the prince, and the King
said, 'In what part of my palace?' 'On the roof,' replied the
prince. 'Out on thee!' quoth the King. 'This is the first sign
thou hast given of madness. How can the horse be on the roof?
But we shall soon see if thou speak truth or falsehood.' Then
he turned to one of his chief officers and said to him, 'Go to
my palace and bring me what thou findest on the roof.' And all
the people marvelled at the prince's words, saying, 'How can a
horse come down the steps from the roof? Verily this is a thing
whose like we never heard.'

Meanwhile, the King's messenger repaired to the palace,
accompanied by other of the royal officers, and mounting to the
roof, found the horse standing there,--never had they looked on
a handsomer; but when they drew near and examined it, they saw
that it was made of ebony and ivory; whereat they laughed to
each other, saying, 'Was it of the like of this horse that the
youth spoke? Surely, he must be mad; but we shall soon see the
truth of his case. Belike, there hangs some great mystery by
him.' Then they lifted up the horse and carrying it to the
King, set it down before him, and all the people flocked round
it, staring at it and marvelling at the beauty of its fashion
and the richness of its saddle and bridle. The King also
admired it and wondered at it extremely; and he said to the
prince, 'O youth, is this thy horse?' 'Yes, O King,' answered
the prince; 'this is my horse, and thou shalt soon see wonders
of it.' 'Then take and mount it,' rejoined the King, and the
prince said, 'I will not mount till the troops withdraw afar
from it.' So the King bade them withdraw a bowshot from the
horse; whereupon quoth the prince, 'O King, I am about to mount
my horse and charge upon thy troops and scatter them right and
left and cleave their hearts in sunder.' 'Do as thou wilt,'
answered the King; 'and spare them not, for they will not spare
thee.' Then the prince mounted, whilst the troops ranged
themselves in ranks before him, and one said to another, 'When
the youth comes between the ranks, we will take him on the
points of our pikes and the edges of our swords.' 'By Allah,'
quoth another, 'it were pity to kill so handsome and well-shaped
a youth!' 'By Allah,' rejoined a third, 'ye will have hard work
to get the better of him; for he had not done this, but for what
he knew of his own prowess and valiantise.'

Meanwhile, the prince, having settled himself in his saddle,
whilst all eyes were strained to see what he would do, turned
the peg of ascent; whereupon the horse began to sway to and fro
and make the strangest of movements, after the manner of
horses, till its belly was filled with air and it took flight
with him and soared into the sky. When the King saw this, he
cried out to his men, saying, 'Out on you! Take him, ere he
escape you!' But his Viziers and officers said to him, 'O King,
how shall we overtake the flying bird? This is surely none but
some mighty enchanter, and God hath saved thee from him. So
praise thou the Most High for thy deliverance from his hand.'
Then the King returned to his palace and going in to his
daughter, acquainted her with what had befallen. He found her
sore afflicted for the prince and bewailing her separation from
him; wherefore she fell grievously sick and took to her pillow.
When her father saw her thus, he pressed her to his bosom and
kissing her between the eyes, said to her, 'O my daughter,
praise God and thank Him for that He hath delivered thee from
this crafty enchanter!' And he repeated to her the story of the
prince's disappearance; but she paid no heed to his word and
did but redouble in her tears and lamentations, saying to
herself, 'By Allah, I will neither eat nor drink, till God
reunite me with him!' Her father was greatly concerned for her
plight and mourned sore over her; but, for all he could do to
comfort her, passion and love-longing still grew on her for the

Meanwhile, the King's son, whenas he had risen into the air,
turned his horse's head towards his native land, musing upon
the beauty and grace of the princess. Now he had enquired of
the King's people the name of the princess and of the King her
father and of the city, which was the city of Senaa of Yemen.
So he journeyed homeward with all speed, till he drew near his
father's capital and making a circuit about the city, alighted
on the roof of the King's palace, where he left his horse, whilst
he descended into the palace and finding its threshold strewn
with ashes, bethought him that one of his family was dead. Then
he entered, as of wont, and found his father and mother and
sisters clad in mourning raiment of black, pale-faced and lean
of body. When his father saw him and was assured that it was
indeed his son, he gave a great cry and fell down in a swoon,
but presently coming to himself, threw himself upon him and
embraced him, straining him to his bosom and rejoicing in him
exceedingly. His mother and sisters heard this; so they came
in and seeing the prince, fell upon him, kissing him and weeping
and rejoicing with an exceeding joy. Then they questioned him of
his case; so he told them all that had befallen him from first
to last and his father said to him, 'Praised be God for thy
safety, O solace of my eyes and life-blood of my heart!'

Then the King bade hold high festival, and the glad news flew
through the city. So they beat the drums and the cymbals and
putting off the raiment of mourning, donned that of joy and
decorated the streets and markets; whilst the folk vied with
one another who should be the first to give the King joy, and
the latter proclaimed a general pardon and opening the prisons,
released those who were therein. Moreover, he made banquets to
the people seven days and nights and all creatures were glad;
and he took horse with his son and rode out with him, that the
folk might see him and rejoice. After awhile the prince
enquired for the maker of the horse, saying, 'O my father, what
hath fortune done with him?' 'May God not bless him,' answered
the King, 'nor the hour in which I set eyes on him! For he was
the cause of thy separation from us, O my son, and he hath lain
in prison since the day of thy disappearance.' Then he bade
release him from prison and sending for him, invested him in a
dress of honour and entreated him with the utmost favour and
munificence, save that he would not give him his daughter to
wife; whereat he was sore enraged and repented of that which he
had done, knowing that the prince had learnt the secret of the
horse and the manner of its motion. Moreover, the King said to
his son, 'Methinks thou wilt do well not to mount the horse
neither go near it henceforth; for thou knowest not its
properties, and it is perilous for thee to meddle with it.' Now
the prince had told his father of his adventure with the King's
daughter of Senaa, and he said, 'If the King had been minded to
kill thee, he had done so; but thine hour was not yet come.'

When the rejoicings were at an end, the people returned to
their houses and the King and his son to the palace, where they
sat down and fell to eating and drinking and making merry. Now
the King had a handsome slave-girl, who was skilled in playing
upon the lute; so she took it and began to play upon it and
sing thereto of separation of lovers before the King and his
son, and she chanted the following verses:

Think not that absence ever shall win me to forget: For what
should I remember, if I'd forgotten you?
Time passes, but my passion for you shall never end: In love of
you, I swear it, I'll die and rise anew.

When the prince heard this, the fires of longing flamed up in
his heart and passion redoubled upon him. Grief and regret were
sore upon him and his entrails yearned in him for love of the
King's daughter of Senaa; so he rose forthright and eluding his
father's notice, went forth the palace to the horse and
mounting it, turned the peg of ascent, whereupon it flew up
into the air with him and soared towards the confines of the
sky. Presently, his father missed him and going up to the
summit of the palace, in great concern, saw the prince rising
into the air; whereat he was sore afflicted and repented
exceedingly that he had not taken the horse and hidden it: and
he said in himself, 'By Allah, if but my son return to me, I
will destroy the horse, that my heart may be at rest concerning
my son.' And he fell again to weeping and bewailing himself for
his son.

Meanwhile, the prince flew on through the air till he came to
the city of Senaa and alighted on the roof as before. Then he
went down stealthily and finding the eunuch asleep, as of wont,
raised the curtain and went on, little by little, till he came
to the door of the princess's chamber and stopped to listen;
when, behold, he heard her weeping plenteous tears and reciting
verses, whilst her women slept round her. Presently, they heard
her weeping and wailing and said, 'O our mistress, why wilt
thou mourn for one who mourns not for thee?' 'O little of
wit,' answered she, 'is he for whom I mourn of those who are
forgotten?' And she fell again to weeping and wailing, till
sleep overcame her.

Now the prince's heart ached for her, so he entered and seeing
her lying asleep, without covering, touched her with his hand;
whereupon she opened her eyes and saw him standing by her.
Quoth he, 'Why this weeping and mourning?' And when she knew
him, she threw herself upon him and embraced him and kissed him
and answered, 'For thy sake and because of my separation from
thee.' 'O my lady,' said he, 'I have wearied for thee all this
time!' But she answered, 'It is I who have wearied for thee,
and hadst thou tarried longer, I had surely died!' 'O my lady,'
rejoined he, 'what thinkest thou of my case with thy father and
how he dealt with me? Were it not for my love of thee, O
ravishment of all creatures, I had surely slain him and made
him a warning to all beholders; but, even as I love thee, so I
love him for thy sake.' Quoth she, 'How couldst thou leave me?
Can life be sweet to me after thee?' Quoth he, 'Let what has
happened suffice now: I am hungry and thirsty.' So she bade her
maidens make ready meat and drink, [and they sat eating and
drinking and conversing] till nigh upon daybreak, when he rose
to take leave of her and depart, ere the eunuch should awake,
and she said, 'Whither goest thou?' 'To my father's house,'
answered he; 'and I plight thee my troth that I will come to
thee once in every week.' But she wept and said, 'I conjure
thee, by God the Supreme, take me with thee whither thou goest
and make me not taste anew the bitterness of separation from
thee.' Quoth he, 'Wilt thou indeed go with me?' and she
answered, 'Yes.' 'Then,' said he, 'arise, that we may depart.'
So she rose forthright and going to a chest, arrayed herself in
what was richest and dearest to her of her trinkets of gold and
jewels of price. Then he carried her up to the roof of the
palace and mounting the horse, took her up behind him and bound
her fast to himself; after which he turned the peg of ascent,
and the horse rose with him into the air. When her women saw
this, they shrieked aloud and told her father and mother, who
rushed up to the roof of the palace and looking up, saw the
ebony horse flying away with the prince and princess. At this
the King was sore troubled and cried out, saying, 'O King's
son, I conjure thee, by Allah, have compassion on me and my
wife and bereave us not of our daughter!' The prince made him
no reply, but, thinking that the princess repented of leaving
her father and mother, said to her, 'O ravishment of the age,
wilt thou that I restore thee to thy father and mother?' 'By
Allah, O my lord, that is not my desire,' answered she; 'my
only wish is to be with thee wherever thou art; for I am
distracted by the love of thee from all else, even to my father
and mother.' At this the prince rejoiced greatly and made
the horse fare softly with them, so as not to disquiet the
princess; nor did they stay their flight till they came in
sight of a green meadow, in which was a spring of running
water. Here they alighted and ate and drank; after which they
took horse again and fared on, till they came in sight of his
father's capital. At this, the prince was filled with joy and
bethought himself to show her the seat of his dominion and his
father's power and dignity and give her to know that it was
greater than that of her father. So he set her down in one of
his father's pleasance-gardens [without the city] and carrying
her into a pavilion there, prepared for the King, left the
horse at the door and charged her keep watch over it, saying,
'Sit here, till my messenger come to thee; for I go now to my
father, to make ready a palace for thee and show thee my royal
estate.' 'Do as thou wilt,' answered she, for she was glad that
she should not enter but with due honour and observance, as
became her rank.

Then he left her and betook himself to the palace of the King
his father, who rejoiced in his return and welcomed him; and
the prince said to him, 'Know that I have brought with me the
princess of whom I told thee and have left her without the city
in such a garden and come to tell thee, that thou mayest make
ready and go forth to meet her in state and show her thy royal
dignity and troops and guards.' 'With all my heart,' answered
the King and straightway bade decorate the city after the
goodliest fashion. Then he took horse and rode out in all state
and splendour, he and his troops and household and grandees;
whilst the prince made ready for her a litter of green and
red and yellow brocade, in which he set Indian and Greek
and Abyssinian slave-girls. Moreover, he took forth of his
treasuries jewellery and apparel and what else of the things
that kings treasure up and made a rare display of wealth and
magnificence. Then he left the litter and those who were
therein and rode forward to the pavilion, where he had left the
princess; but found both her and the horse gone. When he saw
this, he buffeted his face and rent his clothes and went round
about the garden, as he had lost his wits; after which he came
to his senses and said to himself, 'How could she have come at
the secret of the horse, seeing I told her nothing of it? Maybe
the Persian sage who made the horse has chanced upon her and
stolen her away, in revenge for my father's treatment of him.'
Then he sought the keepers of the garden and asked them if they
had seen any enter the garden.

Quoth they, 'We have seen none enter but the Persian sage, who
came to gather simples.' So the prince was certified that it
was indeed he that had taken away the princess and abode
confounded and perplexed concerning his case. And he was
abashed before the folk and returning to his father, [told him
what had happened and] said to him, 'Take the troops and return
to the city. As for me, I will never return till I have cleared
up this affair.' When the King heard this, he wept and beat his
breast and said to him, 'O my son, calm thyself and master thy
chagrin and return with us and look what King's daughter thou
wouldst fain have, that I may marry thee to her.' But the
prince paid no heed to his words and bidding him farewell,
departed, whilst the King returned to the city and their joy
was changed into mourning.

Now, as Fate would have it, when the prince left the princess
in the pavilion and betook himself to his father's palace, for
the ordering of his affair, the Persian entered the garden to
pluck simples and scenting the fragrance of musk and essences,
that exhaled from the princess's person and perfumed the whole
place, followed it till he came to the pavilion and saw the horse,
that he had made with his own hands, standing at the door. At
this sight, his heart was filled with joy and gladness, for he
had mourned sore for it, since it had gone out of his hand. So
he went up to it and examining its every part, found it safe
and sound; whereupon he was about to mount and ride away, when
he bethought himself and said, 'Needs must I first look what
the prince hath brought and left here with the horse.' So he
entered the pavilion and seeing the princess sitting there, as
she were the sun shining in the cloudless sky, knew her to be
some high-born lady and doubted not but the prince had brought
her thither on the horse and left her in the pavilion, whilst
he went to the city, to make ready for her entry in state.

Then he went up to her and kissed the earth before her,
whereupon she raised her eyes to him and finding him exceeding
foul of face and favour, said, 'Who art thou?' 'O my lady,'
answered he, 'I am sent by the prince, who hath bidden me bring
thee to another garden, nearer the city; for that my lady the
queen cannot go so far a journey and is unwilling, of her joy
in thee, that another should forestall her with thee.' 'Where
is the prince?' asked she; and the Persian replied, 'He is in
the city, with his father, and will presently come for thee in
great state.' 'O fellow,' said she, 'could he find none to send
to me but thee?' At this he laughed and answered, 'O my lady,
let not the ugliness of my face and the foulness of my favour
deceive thee. Hadst thou profited of me as hath the prince,
thou wouldst praise my affair. Indeed, he chose me as his
messenger to thee, because of my uncomeliness and forbidding
aspect, in his jealousy and love of thee: else hath he slaves
and pages and servants, white and black, out of number, each
goodlier than the other.' When she heard this, it commended
itself to her reason and she believed him; so she rose and
putting her hand in his, said, 'O my father, what hast thou
brought me to ride?' 'O my lady,' answered he, 'thou shalt ride
the horse thou camest on.' Quoth she, 'I cannot ride it by
myself.' Whereupon he smiled and knew that she was in his power
and said, 'I myself will ride with thee.' So he mounted and
taking her up behind him, bound her fast to himself, for she
knew not what he would with her. Then he turned the peg of
ascent, whereupon the belly of the horse became full of wind
and it swayed to and fro and rose with them into the air nor
slackened in its flight, till it was out of sight of the city.

When the princess saw this, she said to him, 'O fellow, what
didst thou tell me of the prince, that he sent thee to me?'
'Foul befall the prince!' answered the Persian. 'He is a
scurril knave.' And she said, 'Out on thee! How darest thou
disobey thy lord's commandment!' 'He is no lord of mine,'
rejoined the Persian. 'Knowst thou who I am?' 'I know nothing
of thee,' replied the princess, 'save what thou toldest me.'
Quoth he, 'What I told thee was a trick of mine against thee
and the prince. I am he who made this horse under us, and I
have long regretted its loss; for the prince made himself
master of it. But now I have gotten possession of it and of
thee too, and I will rack his heart, even as he hath racked
mine; nor shall he ever have the horse again. So take comfort
and be of good cheer, for I can be of more service to thee than
he.' When she heard this, she buffeted her face and cried out,
saying, 'Ah, woe is me! I have neither gotten my beloved nor
kept my father and mother!' And she wept sore over what had
befallen her, whilst the Persian fared on with her, without
ceasing, till he came to the land of the Greeks and alighted in
a verdant meadow, abounding in trees and streams.

Now this meadow was near a city, in which was a king of great
puissance, and it befell that he went forth that day to hunt
and divert himself. As he passed by the meadow, he saw the
Persian standing there, with the princess and the horse by his
side, and before he was aware, the King's followers fell upon
him and carried him, the lady and the horse to their master,
who noting the foulness of his favour and the beauty and grace
of the princess, said to the latter, 'O my lady, what kin is
this old fellow to thee?' The Persian made haste to reply, 'She
is my wife and the daughter of my father's brother.' But she
gave him the lie and said, 'O King, by Allah, I know him not,
nor is he my husband, but hath stolen me away by force and
fraud.' Thereupon the King bade beat the Persian, and they beat
him, till he was well-nigh dead; after which the King commanded
to carry him to the city and cast him into prison, and taking
the princess and the horse from him, set the former in his
harem and laid up the latter in his treasury, though he knew
not its properties nor the secret of its motion.

Meanwhile, the prince donned a travelling-habit and taking what
he needed of money, set out, in very sorry plight, in quest of
the princess, and journeyed from country to country and city to
city, enquiring after the ebony horse, whilst all who heard him
marvelled at him and deemed his talk extravagant. Thus did he a
long while; but, for all his enquiry and research, he could win
at no news of her. At last, he came to the city of Senaa and
there enquired for her, but could get no tidings of her and
found her father mourning her loss. So he turned back and made
for the land of the Greeks, pursuing his enquiries as he went,
till, as chance would have it, he alighted at a certain khan
and saw a company of merchants sitting talking. He sat down
near them and heard one say to the others, 'O my friends, I
happened lately upon a wonder of wonders.' 'What was that?'
asked they, and he answered, 'I was late in such a city,'
naming the city wherein was the princess, 'and heard its people
speak of a strange thing that had lately befallen. It was that
their King went out one day a-hunting, with a company of his
courtiers and the grandees of his realm, and coming to a green
meadow, espied there a man standing, with a horse of ebony, and
a lady sitting hard by. The man was ugly and foul of favour,
but the lady was a marvel of beauty and grace and symmetry; and
as for the ebony horse, it was a wonder, never saw eyes aught
goodlier than it nor more perfect than its fashion.' 'And
what did the King with them?' asked the others. 'As for the
man,' said the merchant, 'he questioned him of the lady and
he pretended that she was his wife and the daughter of his
father's brother; but she gave him the lie. So the King took
her from him and bade beat him and cast him into prison. As
for the horse, I know not what became of it.' When the prince
heard this, he drew near unto the speaker and questioned him
discreetly and courteously, till he told him the name of the
city and of its king; which when he knew, he passed the night,
full of joy.

On the morrow, he set out and travelled till he reached the
city; but, when he would have entered, the gatekeepers laid
hands on him, that they might bring him before the King; for
that it was his wont to question all strangers respecting their
conditions and the crafts in which they were skilled and the
reason of their coming thither. Now it was eventide, when he
entered the city, and it was then too late to go in to the King
or take counsel with him respecting him. So they carried him to
the prison, thinking to lay him therein for the night; but,
when the warders saw his beauty and grace, they could not find
it in their hearts to imprison him, but made him sit with them,
without the prison; and when food came to them, he ate his fill
with them. When they had made an end of eating, they turned to
him and said, 'What countryman art thou?' 'I come from Persia,'


Back to Full Books