The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night, Volume 1
Richard F. Burton

Part 1 out of 9

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A Plain and Literal Translation
of the Arabian Nights Entertainments

Translated and Annotated by
Richard F. Burton


Inscribed to the Memory
My Lamented Friend
John Frederick Steinhaeuser,
(Civil Surgeon, Aden)
A Quarter of a Century Ago
Assisted Me in this Translation.

"To the pure all things are pure" (Puris omnia pura)
- Arab Proverb.

"Niuna corrotta mente intese mai sanamente parole."
- "Decameron" - conclusion.

"Erubuit, posuitque meum Lucretia librum Sed coram Bruto. Brute!
reced, leget.
- Martial.

"Miculx est de ris que de larmes escripre, Pour ce que rire est
le propre des hommes."
- Rabelais.

"The pleasure we derive from perusing the Thousand and One
Stories makes us regret that we possess only a comparatively
small part of these truly enchanting fictions."
- Crichton's "History of Arabia."

Contents of the First Volume

Story Of King Shahryar and His Brother
a. Tale of the Bull and the Ass
1. Tale of the Trader and the Jinni
a. The First Shaykh's Story
b. The Second Shaykh's Story
c. The Third Shaykh's Story
2. The Fisherman and the Jinni
a. Tale of the Wazir and the Sage Duban
ab. Story of King Sindibad and His Falcon
ac. Tale of the Husband and the Parrot
ad. Tale of the Prince and the Ogress
b. Tale of the Ensorcelled Prince
3. The Porter and the Three Ladies of Baghdad
a. The First Kalandar's Tale
b. The Second Kalandar's Tale
ba. Tale of the Envier and the Envied
c. The Third Kalandar's Tale
d. The Eldest Lady's Tale
e. Tale of the Portress
Conclusion of the Story of the Porter and the Three Ladies
4. Tale of the Three Apples
5. Tale of Nur Al-din Ali and his Son
6. The Hunchback's Tale
a. The Nazarene Broker's Story
b. The Reeve's Tale
c. Tale of the Jewish Doctor
d. Tale of the Tailor
e. The Barber's Tale of Himself
ea. The Barber's Tale of his First Brother
eb. The Barber's Tale of his Second Brother
ec. The Barber's Tale of his Third Brother
ed. The Barber's Tale of his Fourth Brother
ee. The Barber's Tale of his Fifth Brother
ef. The Barber's Tale of his Sixth Brother
The End of the Tailor's Tale

The Translator's Foreword.

This work, labourious as it may appear, has been to me a labour
of love, an unfailing source of solace and satisfaction. During
my long years of official banishment to the luxuriant and deadly
deserts of Western Africa, and to the dull and dreary half
clearings of South America, it proved itself a charm, a talisman
against ennui and despondency. Impossible even to open the pages
without a vision starting into view; with out drawing a picture
from the pinacothek of the brain; without reviving a host of
memories and reminiscences which are not the common property of
travellers, however widely they may have travelled. From my dull
and commonplace and "respectable" surroundings, the Jinn bore me
at once to the land of my pre-direction, Arabia, a region so
familiar to my mind that even at first sight, it seemed a
reminiscence of some by gone metem-psychic life in the distant
Past. Again I stood under the diaphanous skies, in air glorious
as aether, whose every breath raises men's spirits like sparkling
wine. Once more I saw the evening star hanging like a solitaire
from the pure front of the western firmament; and the after glow
transfiguring and transforming, as by magic, the homely and
rugged features of the scene into a fairy land lit with a light
which never shines on other soils or seas. Then would appear the
woollen tents, low and black, of the true Badawin, mere dots in
the boundless waste of lion tawny clays and gazelle brown
gravels, and the camp fire dotting like a glow worm the village
centre. Presently, sweetened by distance, would be heard the wild
weird song of lads and lasses, driving or rather pelting, through
the gloaming their sheep and goats; and the measured chant of the
spearsmen gravely stalking behind their charge, the camels;
mingled with bleating of the flocks and the bellowing of the
humpy herds; while the reremouse flitted overhead with his tiny
shriek, and the rave of the jackal resounded through deepening
glooms, and--most musical of music--the palm trees answered the
whispers of the night breeze with the softest tones of falling

And then a shift of scene. The Shaykhs and "white beards" of the
tribe gravely take their places, sitting with outspread skirts
like hillocks on the plain, as the Arabs say, around the camp
fire, whilst I reward their hospitality and secure its
continuance by reading or reciting a few pages of their favourite
tales. The women and children stand motionless as silhouettes
outside the ring; and all are breathless with attention; they
seem to drink in the words with eyes and mouths as well as with
ears. The most fantastic flights of fancy, the wildest
improbabilities, the most impossible of impossibilities, appear
to them utterly natural, mere matters of every day occurrence.
They enter thoroughly into each phase of feeling touched upon by
the author: they take a personal pride in the chivalrous nature
and knightly prowess of Taj al-Muluk; they are touched with
tenderness by the self sacrificing love of Azizah; their mouths
water as they hear of heaps of untold gold given away in largesse
like clay; they chuckle with delight every time a Kazi or a
Fakir--a judge or a reverend--is scurvily entreated by some
Pantagruelist of the Wilderness; and, despite their normal
solemnity and impassibility, all roar with laughter, sometimes
rolling upon the ground till the reader's gravity is sorely
tried, at the tales of the garrulous Barber and of Ali and the
Kurdish Sharper. To this magnetising mood the sole exception is
when a Badawi of superior accomplishments, who sometimes says his
prayers, ejaculates a startling "Astagh-faru'llah"--I pray
Allah's pardon!--for listening, not to Carlyle's "downright
lies," but to light mention of the sex whose name is never heard
amongst the nobility of the Desert.

Nor was it only in Arabia that the immortal Nights did me such
notable service: I found the wildlings of Somali land equally
amenable to its discipline; no one was deaf to the charm and the
two women cooks of my caravan, on its way to Harar, were in
continently dubbed by my men "Shahrazad" and "Dinazad."

It may be permitted me also to note that this translation is a
natural outcome of my Pilgrimage to Al-Medinah and Meccah.
Arriving at Aden in the (so called) winter of 1852, I put up with
my old and dear friend, Steinhaeuser, to whose memory this volume
is inscribed; and, when talking over Arabia and the Arabs, we at
once came to the same conclusion that, while the name of this
wondrous treasury of Moslem folk lore is familiar to almost every
English child, no general reader is aware of the valuables it
contains, nor indeed will the door open to any but Arabists.
Before parting we agreed to "collaborate" and produce a full,
complete, unvarnished, uncastrated copy of the great original, my
friend taking the prose and I the metrical part; and we
corresponded upon the subject for years. But whilst I was in the
Brazil, Steinhaeuser died suddenly of apoplexy at Berne in
Switzerland and, after the fashion of Anglo India, his valuable
MSS. left at Aden were dispersed, and very little of his labours
came into my hands.

Thus I was left alone to my work, which progressed fitfully amid
a host of obstructions. At length, in the spring of 1879, the
tedious process of copying began and the book commenced to take
finished form. But, during the winter of 1881-82, I saw in the
literary journals a notice of a new version by Mr. John Payne,
well known to scholars for his prowess in English verse,
especially for his translation of "The Poems of Master Francis
Villon, of Paris." Being then engaged on an expedition to the
Gold Coast (for gold), which seemed likely to cover some months,
I wrote to the "Athenaeum" (Nov. 13, 1881) and to Mr. Payne, who
was wholly unconscious that we were engaged on the same work, and
freely offered him precedence and possession of the field till no
longer wanted. He accepted my offer as frankly, and his priority
entailed another delay lasting till the spring of 1885. These
details will partly account for the lateness of my appearing, but
there is yet another cause. Professional ambition suggested that
literary labours, unpopular with the vulgar and the half
educated, are not likely to help a man up the ladder of
promotion. But common sense presently suggested to me that,
professionally speaking, I was not a success, and, at the same
time, that I had no cause to be ashamed of my failure. In our
day, when we live under a despotism of the lower "middle class"
Philister who can pardon anything but superiority, the prizes of
competitive services are monopolized by certain "pets" of the
Mediocratie, and prime favourites of that jealous and potent
majority--the Mediocnties who know "no nonsense about merit." It
is hard for an outsider to realise how perfect is the monopoly of
common place, and to comprehend how fatal a stumbling stone that
man sets in the way of his own advancement who dares to think for
himself, or who knows more or who does more than the mob of
gentlemen employee who know very little and who do even less.

Yet, however behindhand I may be, there is still ample room and
verge for an English version of the "Arabian Nights'

Our century of translations, popular and vernacular, from
(Professor Antoine) Galland's delightful abbreviation and
adaptation (A.D. 1704), in no wise represent the eastern
original. The best and latest, the Rev. Mr. Foster's, which is
diffuse and verbose, and Mr. G. Moir Bussey's, which is a re-
correction, abound in gallicisms of style and idiom; and one and
all degrade a chef d'oeuvre of the highest anthropological and
ethnographical interest and importance to a mere fairy book, a
nice present for little boys.

After nearly a century had elapsed, Dr. Jonathan Scott (LL.D.
H.E.I.C.'s S., Persian Secretary to the G. G. Bengal; Oriental
Professor, etc., etc.), printed his "Tales, Anecdotes, and
Letters, translated from the Arabic and Persian," (Cadell and
Davies, London, A.D. 1800); and followed in 1811 with an edition
of "The Arabian Nights' Entertainments" from the MS. of Edward
Wortley Montague (in 6 vols., small 8vo, London: Longmans, etc.).
This work he (and he only) describes as "Carefully revised and
occasionally corrected from the Arabic." The reading public did
not wholly reject it, sundry texts were founded upon the Scott
version and it has been imperfectly reprinted (4 vole., 8vo,
Nimmo and Bain, London, 1883). But most men, little recking what
a small portion of the original they were reading, satisfied
themselves with the Anglo French epitome and metaphrase. At
length in 1838, Mr. Henry Torrens, B.A., Irishman, lawyer ("of
the Inner Temple") and Bengal Civilian, took a step in the right
direction; and began to translate, "The Book of the Thousand
Nights and One Night," (1 vol., 8vo, Calcutta: W. Thacker and
Co.) from the Arabic of the AEgyptian (!) MS. edited by Mr.
(afterwards Sir)William H. Macnaghten. The attempt, or rather the
intention, was highly creditable; the copy was carefully moulded
upon the model and offered the best example of the verbatim et
literatim style. But the plucky author knew little of Arabic, and
least of what is most wanted, the dialect of Egypt and Syria. His
prose is so conscientious as to offer up spirit at the shrine of
letter; and his verse, always whimsical, has at times a manner of
Hibernian whoop which is comical when it should be pathetic.
Lastly he printed only one volume of a series which completed
would have contained nine or ten.

That amiable and devoted Arabist, the late Edward William Lane
does not score a success in his "New Translation of the Tales of
a Thousand and One Nights" (London: Charles Knight and Co.,
MDCCCXXXIX.) of which there have been four English editions,
besides American, two edited by E. S. Poole. He chose the
abbreviating Bulak Edition; and, of its two hundred tales, he has
omitted about half and by far the more characteristic half: the
work was intended for "the drawing room table;" and,
consequently, the workman was compelled to avoid the
"objectionable" and aught "approaching to licentiousness." He
converts the Arabian Nights into the Arabian Chapters,
arbitrarily changing the division and, worse still, he converts
some chapters into notes. He renders poetry by prose and
apologises for not omitting it altogether: he neglects assonance
and he is at once too Oriental and not Oriental enough. He had
small store of Arabic at the time--Lane of the Nights is not Lane
of the Dictionary--and his pages are disfigured by many childish
mistakes. Worst of all, the three handsome volumes are rendered
unreadable as Sale's Koran by their anglicised Latin, their
sesquipedalian un English words, and the stiff and stilted style
of half a century ago when our prose was, perhaps, the worst in
Europe. Their cargo of Moslem learning was most valuable to the
student, but utterly out of place for readers of "The Nights;"
re-published, as these notes have been separately (London,
Chatto, I883), they are an ethnological text book.

Mr. John Payne has printed, for the Villon Society and for
private circulation only, the first and sole complete translation
of the great compendium, "comprising about four times as much
matter as that of Galland, and three times as much as that of any
other translator;" and I cannot but feel proud that he has
honoured me with the dedication of "The Book of The Thousand
Nights and One Night." His version is most readable: his English,
with a sub-flavour of the Mabinogionic archaicism, is admirable;
and his style gives life and light to the nine volumes whose
matter is frequently heavy enough. He succeeds admirably in the
most difficult passages and he often hits upon choice and special
terms and the exact vernacular equivalent of the foreign word, so
happily and so picturesquely that all future translators must
perforce use the same expression under pain of falling far short.
But the learned and versatile author bound himself to issue only
five hundred copies, and "not to reproduce the work in its
complete and uncastrated form." Consequently his excellent
version is caviaire to the general--practically unprocurable.

And here I hasten to confess that ample use has been made of the
three versions above noted, the whole being blended by a callida
junctura into a homogeneous mass. But in the presence of so many
predecessors a writer is bound to show some raison d'etre for
making a fresh attempt and this I proceed to do with due reserve.

Briefly, the object of this version is to show what "The Thousand
Nights and a Night" really is. Not, however, for reasons to be
more fully stated in the Terminal Essay, by straining verbum
reddere verbo, but by writing as the Arab would have written in
English. On this point I am all with Saint Jerome (Pref. in
Jobum) "Vel verbum e verbo, vel sensum e sensu, vel ex utroque
commixtum, et medic temperatum genus translationis." My work
claims to be a faithful copy of the great Eastern Saga book, by
preserving intact, not only the spirit, but even the mecanique,
the manner and the matter. Hence, however prosy and long drawn
out be the formula, it retains the scheme of The Nights because
they are a prime feature in the original. The Rawi or reciter, to
whose wits the task of supplying details is left, well knows
their value: the openings carefully repeat the names of the
dramatic personae and thus fix them in the hearer's memory.
Without the Nights no Arabian Nights! Moreover it is necessary to
retain the whole apparatus: nothing more ill advised than Dr.
Jonathan Scott's strange device of garnishing The Nights with
fancy head pieces and tail pieces or the splitting up of
Galland's narrative by merely prefixing "Nuit," etc., ending
moreover, with the ccxxxivth Night: yet this has been done,
apparently with the consent of the great Arabist Sylvestre de
Sacy (Paris, Ernest Bourdin). Moreover, holding that the
translator's glory is to add something to his native tongue,
while avoiding the hideous hag like nakedness of Torrens and the
bald literalism of Lane, I have carefully Englished the
picturesque turns and novel expressions of the original in all
their outlandishness; for instance, when the dust cloud raised by
a tramping host is described as "walling the horizon." Hence
peculiar attention has been paid to the tropes and figures which
the Arabic language often packs into a single term; and I have
never hesitated to coin a word when wanted, such as "she snorted
and sparked," fully to represent the original. These, like many
in Rabelais, are mere barbarisms unless generally adopted; in
which case they become civilised and common currency.

Despite objections manifold and manifest, I have preserved the
balance of sentences and the prose rhyme and rhythm which
Easterns look upon as mere music. This "Saj'a," or cadence of the
cooing dove, has in Arabic its special duties. It adds a sparkle
to description and a point to proverb, epigram and dialogue; it
corresponds with our "artful alliteration" (which in places I
have substituted for it) and, generally, it defines the
boundaries between the classical and the popular styles which
jostle each other in The Nights. If at times it appear strained
and forced, after the wont of rhymed prose, the scholar will
observe that, despite the immense copiousness of assonants and
consonants in Arabic, the strain is often put upon it
intentionally, like the Rims cars of Dante and the Troubadours.
This rhymed prose may be "un English" and unpleasant, even
irritating to the British ear; still I look upon it as a sine qua
non for a complete reproduction of the original. In the Terminal
Essay I shall revert to the subject.

On the other hand when treating the versical portion, which may
represent a total of ten thousand lines, I have not always bound
myself by the metrical bonds of the Arabic, which are artificial
in the extreme, and which in English can be made bearable only by
a tour de force. I allude especially to the monorhyme, Rim
continuat or tirade monorime, whose monotonous simplicity was
preferred by the Troubadours for threnodies. It may serve well
for three or four couplets but, when it extends, as in the
Ghazal-cannon, to eighteen, and in the Kasidah, elegy or ode, to
more, it must either satisfy itself with banal rhyme words, when
the assonants should as a rule be expressive and emphatic; or, it
must display an ingenuity, a smell of the oil, which assuredly
does not add to the reader's pleasure. It can perhaps be done and
it should be done; but for me the task has no attractions: I can
fence better in shoes than in sabots. Finally I print the
couplets in Arab form separating the hemistichs by asterisks.

And now to consider one matter of special importance in the book-
-its turpiloquium. This stumbling-block is of two kinds,
completely distinct. One is the simple, naive and child like
indecency which, from Tangiers to Japan, occurs throughout
general conversation of high and low in the present day. It uses,
like the holy books of the Hebrews, expressions "plainly
descriptive of natural situations;" and it treats in an
unconventionally free and naked manner of subjects and matters
which are usually, by common consent, left undescribed. As Sir
William Jones observed long ago, "that anything natural can be
offensively obscene never seems to have occurred to the Indians
or to their legislators; a singularity (?) pervading their
writings and conversation, but no proof of moral depravity."
Another justly observes, Les peuples primitifs n'y entendent pas
malice: ils appellent les choses par leurs noms et ne trouvent
pas condamnable ce qui est naturel. And they are prying as
children. For instance the European novelist marries off his hero
and heroine and leaves them to consummate marriage in privacy;
even Tom Jones has the decency to bolt the door. But the Eastern
story teller, especially this unknown "prose Shakespeare," must
usher you, with a flourish, into the bridal chamber and narrate
to you, with infinite gusto, everything he sees and hears. Again
we must remember that grossness and indecency, in fact les
turpitudes, are matters of time and place; what is offensive in
England is not so in Egypt; what scandalises us now would have
been a tame joke tempore Elisoe. Withal The Nights will not be
found in this matter coarser than many passages of Shakespeare,
Sterne, and Swift, and their uncleanness rarely attains the
perfection of Alcofribas Naiser, "divin maitre et atroce cochon."
The other element is absolute obscenity, sometimes, but not
always, tempered by wit, humour and drollery; here we have an
exaggeration of Petronius Arbiter, the handiwork of writers whose
ancestry, the most religious and the most debauched of mankind,
practised every abomination before the shrine of the Canopic

In accordance with my purpose of reproducing the Nights, not
virginibus puerisque, but in as perfect a picture as my powers
permit, I have carefully sought out the English equivalent of
every Arabic word, however low it may be or "shocking" to ears
polite; preserving, on the other hand, all possible delicacy
where the indecency is not intentional; and, as a friend advises
me to state, not exaggerating the vulgarities and the indecencies
which, indeed, can hardly be exaggerated. For the coarseness and
crassness are but the shades of a picture which would otherwise
be all lights. The general tone of The Nights is exceptionally
high and pure. The devotional fervour often rises to the boiling
point of fanaticism. The pathos is sweet, deep and genuine;
tender, simple and true, utterly unlike much of our modern
tinsel. Its life, strong, splendid and multitudinous, is
everywhere flavoured with that unaffected pessimism and
constitutional melancholy which strike deepest root under the
brightest skies and which sigh in the face of heaven: --

Vita quid est hominis? Viridis floriscula mortis;
Sole Oriente oriens, sole cadente cadens.

Poetical justice is administered by the literary Kazi with
exemplary impartiality and severity; "denouncing evil doers and
eulogising deeds admirably achieved." The morale is sound and
healthy; and at times we descry, through the voluptuous and
libertine picture, vistas of a transcendental morality, the
morality of Socrates in Plato. Subtle corruption and covert
licentiousness are utterly absent; we find more real"vice" in
many a short French roman, say La Dame aux Camelias, and in not a
few English novels of our day than in the thousands of pages of
the Arab. Here we have nothing of that most immodest modern
modesty which sees covert implication where nothing is implied,
and "improper" allusion when propriety is not outraged; nor do we
meet with the Nineteenth Century refinement; innocence of the
word not of the thought; morality of the tongue not of the heart,
and the sincere homage paid to virtue in guise of perfect
hypocrisy. It is, indeed, this unique contrast of a quaint
element, childish crudities and nursery indecencies and "vain and
amatorious" phrase jostling the finest and highest views of life
and character, shown in the kaleidoscopic shiftings of the
marvellous picture with many a "rich truth in a tale's presence",
pointed by a rough dry humour which compares well with "wut; "the
alternations of strength and weakness, of pathos and bathos, of
the boldest poetry (the diction of Job) and the baldest prose
(the Egyptian of today); the contact of religion and morality
with the orgies of African Apuleius and Petronius Arbiter--at
times taking away the reader's breath--and, finally, the whole
dominated everywhere by that marvellous Oriental fancy, wherein
the spiritual and the supernatural are as common as the material
and the natural; it is this contrast, I say, which forms the
chiefest charm of The Nights, which gives it the most striking
originality and which makes it a perfect expositor of the
medieval Moslem mind.

Explanatory notes did not enter into Mr. Payne's plan. They do
with mine: I can hardly imagine The Nights being read to any
profit by men of the West without commentary. My annotations
avoid only one subject, parallels of European folklore and
fabliaux which, however interesting, would overswell the bulk of
a book whose speciality is anthropology. The accidents of my
life, it may be said without undue presumption, my long dealings
with Arabs and other Mahommedans, and my familiarity not only
with their idiom but with their turn of thought, and with that
racial individuality which baffles description, have given me
certain advantages over the average student, however deeply he
may have studied. These volumes, moreover, afford me a long
sought opportunity of noticing practices and customs which
interest all mankind and which "Society" will not hear mentioned.
Grate, the historian, and Thackeray, the novelist, both lamented
that the begueulerie of their countrymen condemned them to keep
silence where publicity was required; and that they could not
even claim the partial licence of a Fielding and a Smollett.
Hence a score of years ago I lent my best help to the late Dr.
James Hunt in founding the Anthropological Society, whose
presidential chair I first occupied (pp. 2-4 Anthropologia;
London, Balliere, vol. i., No. I, 1873). My motive was to supply
travellers with an organ which would rescue their observations
from the outer darkness of manuscript, and print their curious
information on social and sexual matters out of place in the
popular book intended for the Nipptisch and indeed better kept
from public view. But, hardly had we begun when "Respectability,"
that whited sepulchre full of all uncleanness, rose up against
us. "Propriety" cried us down with her brazen blatant voice, and
the weak kneed brethren fell away. Yet the organ was much wanted
and is wanted still. All now known barbarous tribes in Inner
Africa, America and Australia, whose instincts have not been
overlaid by reason, have a ceremony which they call "making men."
As soon as the boy shows proofs of puberty, he and his coevals
are taken in hand by the mediciner and the Fetisheer; and, under
priestly tuition, they spend months in the "bush," enduring
hardships and tortures which impress the memory till they have
mastered the "theorick and practick" of social and sexual
relations. Amongst the civilised this fruit of the knowledge tree
must be bought at the price of the bitterest experience, and the
consequences of ignorance are peculiarly cruel. Here, then, I
find at last an opportunity of noticing in explanatory notes many
details of the text which would escape the reader's observation,
and I am confident that they will form a repertory of Eastern
knowledge in its esoteric phase. The student who adds the notes
of Lane ("Arabian Society," etc., before quoted) to mine will
know as much of the Moslem East and more than many Europeans who
have spent half their lives in Orient lands. For facility of
reference an index of anthropological notes is appended to each

The reader will kindly bear with the following technical details.
Steinhaeuser and I began and ended our work with the first Bulak
("Bul.") Edition printed at the port of Cairo in A.H. 1251 = A.D.
1835. But when preparing my MSS. for print I found the text
incomplete, many of the stories being given in epitome and not a
few ruthlessly mutilated with head or feet wanting. Like most
Eastern scribes the Editor could not refrain from "improvements,"
which only debased the book; and his sole title to excuse is that
the second Bulak Edition (4 vols. A.H. 1279 = A.D. 1863), despite
its being "revised and corrected by Sheik Mahommed Qotch Al-
Adewi," is even worse; and the same may be said of the Cairo
Edit. (4 vols. A.H. 1297 = A. D. 1881). The Calcutta ("Calc.")
Edition, with ten lines of Persian preface by the Editor, Ahmed
al-Shirwani (A.D. 1814), was cut short at the end of the first
two hundred Nights, and thus made room for Sir William Hay
Macnaghten's Edition (4 vols. royal 4to) of 1839-42. This
("Mac."), as by far the least corrupt and the most complete, has
been assumed for my basis with occasional reference to the
Breslau Edition ("Bres.") wretchedly edited from a hideous
Egyptian MS. by Dr. Maximilian Habicht (1825-43). The Bayrut Text
"Alif-Leila we Leila" (4 vols. at. 8vo, Beirut, 1881-83) is a
melancholy specimen of The Nights taken entirely from the Bulak
Edition by one Khalil Sarkis and converted to Christianity;
beginning without Bismillah, continued with scrupulous castration
and ending in ennui and disappointment. I have not used this
missionary production.

As regards the transliteration of Arabic words I deliberately
reject the artful and complicated system, ugly and clumsy withal,
affected by scientific modern Orientalists. Nor is my sympathy
with their prime object, namely to fit the Roman alphabet for
supplanting all others. Those who learn languages, and many do
so, by the eye as well as by the ear, well know the advantages of
a special character to distinguish, for instance, Syriac from
Arabic, Gujrati from Marathi. Again this Roman hand bewitched may
have its use in purely scientific and literary works; but it
would be wholly out of place in one whose purpose is that of the
novel, to amuse rather than to instruct. Moreover the devices
perplex the simple and teach nothing to the learned. Either the
reader knows Arabic, in which case Greek letters, italics and
"upper case," diacritical points and similar typographic oddities
are, as a rule with some exceptions, unnecessary; or he does not
know Arabic, when none of these expedients will be of the least
use to him. Indeed it is a matter of secondary consideration what
system we prefer, provided that we mostly adhere to one and the
same, for the sake of a consistency which saves confusion to the
reader. I have especially avoided that of Mr. Lane, adopted by
Mr. Payne, for special reasons against which it was vain to
protest: it represents the debased brogue of Egypt or rather of
Cairo; and such a word as Kemer (ez-Zeman) would be utterly un-
pronounceable to a Badawi. Nor have I followed the practice of my
learned friend, Reverend G. P. Badger, in mixing bars and acute
accents; the former unpleasantly remind man of those hateful
dactyls and spondees, and the latter should, in my humble
opinion, be applied to long vowels which in Arabic double, or
should double, the length of the shorts. Dr. Badger uses the
acute symbol to denote accent or stress of voice; but such
appoggio is unknown to those who speak with purest articulation;
for instance whilst the European pronounces Mus-cat', and the
Arab villager Mas'-kat; the Children of the Waste, "on whose
tongues Allah descended," articulate Mas-kat. I have therefore
followed the simple system adopted in my "Pilgrimage," and have
accented Arabic words only when first used, thinking it
unnecessary to preserve throughout what is an eyesore to the
reader and a distress to the printer. In the main I follow
"Johnson on Richardson," a work known to every Anglo-Orientalist
as the old and trusty companion of his studies early and late;
but even here I have made sundry deviations for reasons which
will be explained in the Terminal Essay. As words are the
embodiment of ideas and writing is of words, so the word is the
spoken word; and we should write it as pronounced. Strictly
speaking, the e-sound and the o-sound (viz. the Italian o-sound
not the English which is peculiar to us and unknown to any other
tongue) are not found in Arabic, except when the figure Imalah
obliges: hence they are called "Ya al-Majhul" and "Waw al-Majhul"
the unknown y (i) and u. But in all tongues vowel-sounds, the
flesh which clothes the bones (consonants) of language, are
affected by the consonants which precede and more especially
which follow them, hardening and softening the articulation; and
deeper sounds accompany certain letters as the sad ( ) compared
with the sin ( ). None save a defective ear would hold, as Lane
does, "Maulid" ( = birth-festival) "more properly pronounced
'Molid.'" Yet I prefer Khokh (peach) and Jokh (broad cloth) to
Khukh and Jukh; Ohod (mount) to Uhud; Obayd (a little slave) to
Ubayd; and Hosayn (a fortlet, not the P. N. Al-Husayn) to Husayn.
As for the short e in such words as "Memluk" for "Mamluk" (a
white slave), "Eshe" for "Asha" (supper), and "Yemen" for "Al-
Yaman," I consider it a flat Egyptianism, insufferable to an ear
which admires the Badawi pronunciation. Yet I prefer "Shelebi" (a
dandy) from the Turkish Chelebi, to "Shalabi;" "Zebdani" (the
Syrian village) to "Zabdani," and "Fes and Miknes" (by the figure
Imalah) to "Fas and Miknas,", our "Fez and Mequinez."

With respect to proper names and untranslated Arabic words I have
rejected all system in favour of common sense. When a term is
incorporated in our tongue, I refuse to follow the purist and
mortify the reader by startling innovation. For instance, Aleppo,
Cairo and Bassorah are preferred to Halab, Kahirah and Al-Basrah;
when a word is half naturalised, like Alcoran or Koran, Bashaw or
Pasha, which the French write Pacha; and Mahomet or Mohammed (for
Muhammad), the modern form is adopted because the more familiar.
But I see no advantage in retaining,, simply because they are the
mistakes of a past generation, such words as "Roc" (for Rikh),),
Khalif (a pretentious blunder for Kalifah and better written
Caliph) and "genie" ( = Jinn) a mere Gallic corruption not so
terrible, however, as "a Bedouin" ( = Badawi).). As little too
would I follow Mr. Lane in foisting upon the public such Arabisms
as "Khuff" (a riding boot), "Mikra'ah" (a palm rod) and a host of
others for which we have good English equivalents. On the other
hand I would use, but use sparingly, certain Arabic exclamations,
as "Bismillah" ( = in the name of Allah!) and "Inshallah" ( = if
Allah please!), (= which have special applications and which have
been made familiar to English ears by the genius of Fraser and

I here end these desultory but necessary details to address the
reader in a few final words. He will not think lightly of my work
when I repeat to him that with the aid of my annotations
supplementing Lane's, the student will readily and pleasantly
learn more of the Moslem's manners and customs, laws and religion
than is known to the average Orientalist; and, if my labours
induce him to attack the text of The Nights he will become master
of much more Arabic than the ordinary Arab owns. This book is
indeed a legacy which I bequeath to my fellow countrymen in their
hour of need. Over devotion to Hindu, and especially to Sanskrit
literature, has led them astray from those (so called) "Semitic"
studies, which are the more requisite for us as they teach us to
deal successfully with a race more powerful than any pagans--the
Moslem. Apparently England is ever forgetting that she is at
present the greatest Mohammedan empire in the world. Of late
years she has systematically neglected Arabism and, indeed,
actively discouraged it in examinations for the Indian Civil
Service, where it is incomparably more valuable than Greek and
Latin. Hence, when suddenly compelled to assume the reins of
government in Moslem lands, as Afghanistan in times past and
Egypt at present, she fails after a fashion which scandalises her
few (very few) friends; and her crass ignorance concerning the
Oriental peoples which should most interest her, exposes her to
the contempt of Europe as well as of the Eastern world. When the
regrettable raids of 1883-84, culminating in the miserable
affairs of Tokar, Teb and Tamasi, were made upon the gallant
Sudani negroids, the Bisharin outlying Sawakin, who were battling
for the holy cause of liberty and religion and for escape from
Turkish task-masters and Egyptian tax-gatherers, not an English
official in camp, after the death of the gallant and lamented
Major Morice, was capable of speaking Arabic. Now Moslems are not
to be ruled by raw youths who should be at school and college
instead of holding positions of trust and emolument. He who would
deal with them successfully must be, firstly, honest and truthful
and, secondly, familiar with and favourably inclined to their
manners and customs if not to their law and religion. We may,
perhaps, find it hard to restore to England those pristine
virtues, that tone and temper, which made her what she is; but at
any rate we (myself and a host of others) can offer her the means
of dispelling her ignorance concerning the Eastern races with
whom she is continually in contact.

In conclusion I must not forget to notice that the Arabic
ornamentations of these volumes were designed by my excellent
friend Yacoub Artin Pasha, of the Ministry of Instruction, Cairo,
with the aid of the well-known writing artist, Shayth Mohammed
Muunis the Cairene. My name, Al-Hajj Abdullah ( = the Pilgrim
Abdallah) was written by an English calligrapher, the lamented
Professor Palmer who found a premature death almost within sight
of Suez.


Wanderers' Club, August 15, 1885.

The Book Of The


In the Name of Allah,
the Compassionating, the Compassionate!


And afterwards. Verily the works and words of those gone before
us have become instances and examples to men of our modern day,
that folk may view what admonishing chances befel other folk and
may therefrom take warning; and that they may peruse the annals
of antique peoples and all that hath betided them, and be thereby
ruled and restrained:--Praise, therefore, be to Him who hath made
the histories of the Past an admonition unto the Present! Now of
such instances are the tales called "A Thousand Nights and a
Night," together with their far famed legends and wonders.
Therein it is related (but Allah is All knowing of His hidden
things and All ruling and All honoured and All giving and All
gracious and All merciful [FN#1]) that, in tide of yore and in
time long gone before, there was a King of the Kings of the Banu
Sasan in the Islands of India and China, a Lord of armies and
guards and servants and dependents.[FN#2] He left only two sons,
one in the prime of manhood and the other yet a youth, while both
were Knights and Braves, albeit the elder was a doughtier
horseman than the younger. So he succeeded to the empire; when he
ruled the land and forded it over his lieges with justice so
exemplary that he was beloved by all the peoples of his capital
and of his kingdom. His name was King Shahryar[FN#3], and he made
his younger brother, Shah Zaman hight, King of Samarcand in
Barbarian land. These two ceased not to abide in their several
realms and the law was ever carried out in their dominions; and
each ruled his own kingdom, with equity and fair dealing to his
subjects, in extreme solace and enjoyment; and this condition
continually endured for a score of years. But at the end of the
twentieth twelvemonth the elder King yearned for a sight of his
younger brother and felt that he must look upon him once more. So
he took counsel with his Wazir[FN#4] about visiting him, but the
Minister, finding the project unadvisable, recommended that a
letter be written and a present be sent under his charge to the
younger brother with an invitation to visit the elder. Having
accepted this advice the King forthwith bade prepare handsome
gifts, such as horses with saddles of gem encrusted gold;
Mamelukes, or white slaves; beautiful handmaids, high breasted
virgins, and splendid stuffs and costly. He then wrote a letter
to Shah Zaman expressing his warm love and great wish to see
him, ending with these words, "We therefore hope of the favour
and affection of the beloved brother that he will condescend to
bestir himself and turn his face us wards. Furthermore we have
sent our Wazir to make all ordinance for the march, and our one
and only desire is to see thee ere we die; but if thou delay or
disappoint us we shall not survive the blow. Wherewith peace be
upon thee!" Then King Shahryar, having sealed the missive and
given it to the Wazir with the offerings aforementioned,
commanded him to shorten his skirts and strain his strength and
make all expedition in going and returning. "Harkening and
obedience!" quoth the Minister, who fell to making ready without
stay and packed up his loads and prepared all his requisites
without delay. This occupied him three days, and on the dawn of
the fourth he took leave of his King and marched right away, over
desert and hill' way, stony waste and pleasant lea without
halting by night or by day. But whenever he entered a realm whose
ruler was subject to his Suzerain, where he was greeted with
magnificent gifts of gold and silver and all manner of presents
fair and rare, he would tarry there three days,[FN#5] the term
of the guest rite; and, when he left on the fourth, he would be
honourably escorted for a whole day's march. As soon as the
Wazir drew near Shah Zaman's court in Samarcand he despatched to
report his arrival one of his high officials, who presented
himself before the King; and, kissing ground between his hands,
delivered his message. Hereupon the King commanded sundry of his
Grandees and Lords of his realm to fare forth and meet his
brother's Wazir at the distance of a full day's journey; which
they did, greeting him respectfully and wishing him all
prosperity and forming an escort and a procession. When he
entered the city he proceeded straightway to the palace, where
he presented himself in the royal presence; and, after kissing
ground and praying for the King's health and happiness and for
victory over all his enemies, he informed him that his brother
was yearning to see him, and prayed for the pleasure of a visit.
He then delivered the letter which Shah Zaman took from his hand
and read: it contained sundry hints and allusions which required
thought; but, when the King had fully comprehended its import, he
said, "I hear and I obey the commands of the beloved brother!"
adding to the Wazir, "But we will not march till after the third
day's hospitality." He appointed for the Minister fitting
quarters of the palace; and, pitching tents for the troops,
rationed them with whatever they might require of meat and drink
and other necessaries. On the fourth day he made ready for
wayfare and got together sumptuous presents befitting his elder
brother's majesty, and stablished his chief Wazir viceroy of the
land during his absence. Then he caused his tents and camels and
mules to be brought forth and encamped, with their bales and
loads, attend ants and guards, within sight of the city, in
readiness to set out next morning for his brother's capital. But
when the night was half spent he bethought him that he had
forgotten in his palace somewhat which he should have brought
with him, so he re turned privily and entered his apartments,
where he found the Queen, his wife, asleep on his own carpet
bed, embracing with both arms a black cook of loathsome aspect
and foul with kitchen grease and grime. When he saw this the
world waxed black before his sight and he said, "If such case
happen while I am yet within sight of the city what will be the
doings of this damned whore during my long absence at my
brother's court?" So he drew his scymitar and, cutting the two in
four pieces with a single blow, left them on the carpet and
returned presently to his camp without letting anyone know of
what had happened. Then he gave orders for immediate departure
and set out at once and began his travel; but he could not help
thinking over his wife's treason and he kept ever saying to
himself, "How could she do this deed by me? How could she work
her own death?," till excessive grief seized him, his colour
changed to yellow, his body waxed weak and he was threatened
with a dangerous malady, such an one as bringeth men to die. So
the Wazir shortened his stages and tarried long at the watering
stations and did his best to solace the King. Now when Shah Zaman
drew near the capital of his brother he despatched vaunt
couriers and messengers of glad tidings to announce his arrival,
and Shahryar came forth to meet him with his Wazirs and Emirs
and Lords and Grandees of his realm; and saluted him and joyed
with exceeding joy and caused the city to be decorated in his
honour. When, however, the brothers met, the elder could not but
see the change of complexion in the younger and questioned him
of his case whereto he replied, "Tis caused by the travails of
wayfare and my case needs care, for I have suffered from the
change of water and air! but Allah be praised for reuniting me
with a brother so dear and so rare!" On this wise he dissembled
and kept his secret, adding, "O King of the time and Caliph of
the tide, only toil and moil have tinged my face yellow with
bile and hath made my eyes sink deep in my head." Then the two
entered the capital in all honour; and the elder brother lodged
the younger in a palace overhanging the pleasure garden; and,
after a time, seeing his condition still unchanged, he attributed
it to his separation from his country and kingdom. So he let him
wend his own ways and asked no questions of him till one day when
he again said, "O my brother, I see thou art grown weaker of
body and yellower of colour." "O my brother," replied Shah Zaman
"I have an internal wound:"[FN#6] still he would not tell him
what he had witnessed in his wife. Thereupon Shahryar summoned
doctors and surgeons and bade them treat his brother according
to the rules of art, which they did for a whole month; but their
sherbets and potions naught availed, for he would dwell upon the
deed of his wife, and despondency, instead of diminishing,
prevailed, and leach craft treatment utterly failed. One day his
elder brother said to him, "I am going forth to hunt and course
and to take my pleasure and pastime; maybe this would lighten thy
heart." Shah Zaman, however, refused, saying, "O my brother, my
soul yearneth for naught of this sort and I entreat thy favour to
suffer me tarry quietly in this place, being wholly taken up
with my malady." So King Shah Zaman passed his night in the
palace and, next morning, when his brother had fared forth, he
removed from his room and sat him down at one of the lattice
windows overlooking the pleasure grounds; and there he abode
thinking with saddest thought over his wife's betrayal and
burning sighs issued from his tortured breast. And as he
continued in this case lo! a pastern of the palace, which was
carefully kept private, swung open and out of it came twenty
slave girls surrounding his bother's wife who was wondrous fair,
a model of beauty and comeliness and symmetry and perfect
loveliness and who paced with the grace of a gazelle which
panteth for the cooling stream. Thereupon Shah Zaman drew back
from the window, but he kept the bevy in sight espying them from
a place whence he could not be espied. They walked under the very
lattice and advanced a little way into the garden till they came
to a jetting fountain amiddlemost a great basin of water; then
they stripped off their clothes and behold, ten of them were
women, concubines of the King, and the other ten were white
slaves. Then they all paired off, each with each: but the Queen,
who was left alone, presently cried out in a loud voice, "Here to
me, O my lord Saeed!" and then sprang with a drop leap from one
of the trees a big slobbering blackamoor with rolling eyes which
showed the whites, a truly hideous sight.[FN#7] He walked boldly
up to her and threw his arms round her neck while she embraced
him as warmly; then he bussed her and winding his legs round
hers, as a button loop clasps a button, he threw her and enjoyed
her. On like wise did the other slaves with the girls till all
had satisfied their passions, and they ceased not from kissing
and clipping, coupling and carousing till day began to wane; when
the Mamelukes rose from the damsels' bosoms and the blackamoor
slave dismounted from the Queen's breast; the men resumed their
disguises and all, except the negro who swarmed up the tree,
entered the palace and closed the postern door as before. Now,
when Shah Zaman saw this conduct of his sister in law he said in
himself, "By Allah, my calamity is lighter than this! My brother
is a greater King among the kings than I am, yet this infamy
goeth on in his very palace, and his wife is in love with that
filthiest of filthy slaves. But this only showeth that they all
do it[FN#8] and that there is no woman but who cuckoldeth her
husband, then the curse of Allah upon one and all and upon the
fools who lean against them for support or who place the reins of
conduct in their hands." So he put away his melancholy and
despondency, regret and repine, and allayed his sorrow by
constantly repeating those words, adding, " 'Tis my conviction
that no man in this world is safe from their malice!" When supper
time came they brought him the trays and he ate with voracious
appetite, for he had long refrained from meat, feeling unable to
touch any dish however dainty. Then he returned grateful thanks
to Almighty Allah, praising Him and blessing Him, and he spent a
most restful night, it having been long since he had savoured the
sweet food of sleep. Next day he broke his fast heartily and
began to recover health and strength, and presently regained
excellent condition. His brother came back from the chase ten
days after, when he rode out to meet him and they saluted each
other; and when King Shahryar looked at King Shah Zaman he saw
how the hue of health had returned to him, how his face had waxed
ruddy and how he ate with an appetite after his late scanty diet.
He wondered much and said, "O my brother, I was so anxious that
thou wouldst join me in hunting and chasing, and wouldst take thy
pleasure and pastime in my dominion!" He thanked him and excused
himself; then the two took horse and rode into the city and, when
they were seated at their ease in the palace, the food trays were
set before them and they ate their sufficiency. After the meats
were removed and they had washed their hands, King Shahryar
turned to his brother and said, "My mind is overcome with
wonderment at thy condition. I was desirous to carry thee with me
to the chase but I saw thee changed in hue, pale and wan to view,
and in sore trouble of mind too. But now Alham-dolillah--glory be
to God!--I see thy natural colour hath returned to thy face and
that thou art again in the best of case. It was my belief that
thy sickness came of severance from thy family and friends, and
absence from capital and country, so I refrained from troubling
thee with further questions. But now I beseech thee to expound to
me the cause of thy complaint and thy change of colour, and to
explain the reason of thy recovery and the return to the ruddy
hue of health which I am wont to view. So speak out and hide
naught!" When Shah Zaman heard this he bowed groundwards awhile
his head, then raised it and said, "I will tell thee what caused
my complaint and my loss of colour; but excuse my acquainting
thee with the cause of its return to me and the reason of my
complete recovery: indeed I pray thee not to press me for a
reply." Said Shahryar, who was much surprised by these words,
"Let me hear first what produced thy pallor and thy poor
condition." "Know, then, O my brother," rejoined Shah Zaman,
"that when thou sentest thy Wazir with the invitation to place
myself between thy hands, I made ready and marched out of my
city; but presently I minded me having left behind me in the
palace a string of jewels intended as a gift to thee. I returned
for it alone and found my wife on my carpet bed and in the arms
of a hideous black cook. So I slew the twain and came to thee,
yet my thoughts brooded over this business and I lost my bloom
and became weak. But excuse me if I still refuse to tell thee
what was the reason of my complexion returning." Shahryar shook
his head, marvelling with extreme marvel, and with the fire of
wrath flaming up from his heart, he cried, "Indeed, the malice of
woman is mighty!" Then he took refuge from them with Allah and
said, "In very sooth, O my brother, thou hast escaped many an
evil by putting thy wife to death,[FN#9] and right excusable were
thy wrath and grief for such mishap which never yet befel crowned
King like thee. By Allah, had the case been mine, I would not
have been satisfied without slaying a thousand women and that way
madness lies! But now praise be to Allah who hath tempered to
thee thy tribulation, and needs must thou acquaint me with that
which so suddenly restored to thee complexion and health, and
explain to me what causeth this concealment." "O King of the Age,
again I pray thee excuse my so doing!" "Nay, but thou must." "I
fear, O my brother, lest the recital cause thee more anger and
sorrow than afflicted me." "That were but a better reason," quoth
Shahryar, "for telling me the whole history, and I conjure thee
by Allah not to keep back aught from me." Thereupon Shah Zaman
told him all he had seen, from commencement to con elusion,
ending with these words, "When I beheld thy calamity and the
treason of thy wife, O my brother, and I resected that thou art
in years my senior and in sovereignty my superior, mine own
sorrow was belittled by the comparison, and my mind recovered
tone and temper: so throwing off melancholy and despondency, I
was able to eat and drink and sleep, and thus I speedily regained
health and strength. Such is the truth and the whole truth." When
King Shahryar heard this he waxed wroth with exceeding wrath, and
rage was like to strangle him; but presently he recovered himself
and said, "O my brother, I would not give thee the lie in this
matter, but I cannot credit it till I see it with mine own eyes."
"An thou wouldst look upon thy calamity," quoth Shah Zaman, "rise
at once and make ready again for hunting and coursing.[FN#10] and
then hide thyself with me, so shalt thou witness it and thine
eyes shall verify it." "True," quoth the King; whereupon he let
make proclamation of his in tent to travel, and the troops and
tents fared forth without the city, camping within sight, and
Shahryar sallied out with them and took seat amidmost his host,
bidding the slaves admit no man to him. When night came on he
summoned his Wazir and said to him, "Sit thou in my stead and let
none wot of my absence till the term of three days." Then the
brothers disguised themselves and returned by night with all
secrecy to the palace, where they passed the dark hours: and at
dawn they seated themselves at the lattice overlooking the
pleasure grounds, when presently the Queen and her handmaids came
out as before, and passing under the windows made for the
fountain. Here they stripped, ten of them being men to ten women,
and the King's wife cried out, "Where art thou, O Saeed?" The
hideous blackamoor dropped from the tree straightway; and,
rushing into her arms without stay or delay, cried out, "I am
Sa'ad al Din Saood!"[FN#11] The lady laughed heartily, and all
fell to satisfying their lusts, and remained so occupied for a
couple of hours, when the white slaves rose up from the
handmaidens' breasts and the blackamoor dismounted from the
Queen's bosom: then they went into the basin and, after
performing the Ghusl, or complete ablution, donned their dresses
and retired as they had done before. When King Shahryar saw this
infamy of his wife and concubines he became as one distraught and
he cried out, "Only in utter solitude can man be safe from the
doings of this vile world! By Allah, life is naught but one great
wrong." Presently he added, "Do not thwart me, O my brother, in
what I propose;" and the other answered, "I will not." So he
said, "Let us up as we are and depart forthright hence, for we
have no concern with Kingship, and let us overwander Allah's
earth, worshipping the Almighty till we find some one to whom the
like calamity hath happened; and if we find none then will death
be more welcome to us than life." So the two brothers issued from
a second private postern of the palace; and they never stinted
wayfaring by day and by night, until they reached a tree a middle
of a meadow hard by a spring of sweet water on the shore of the
salt sea. Both drank of it and sat down to take their rest; and
when an hour of the day had gone by: lo! they heard a mighty roar
and uproar in the middle of the main as though the heavens were
falling upon the earth; and the sea brake with waves before them,
and from it towered a black pillar, which grew and grew till it
rose skywards and began making for that meadow. Seeing it, they
waxed fearful exceedingly and climbed to the top of the tree,
which was a lofty; whence they gazed to see what might be the
matter. And behold, it was a Jinni,[FN#12] huge of height and
burly of breast and bulk, broad of brow and black of blee,
bearing on his head a coffer of crystal. He strode to land,
wading through the deep, and coming to the tree whereupon were
the two Kings, seated himself beneath it. He then set down the
coffer on its bottom and out it drew a casket, with seven
padlocks of steel, which he unlocked with seven keys of steel he
took from beside his thigh, and out of it a young lady to come
was seen, white-skinned and of winsomest mien, of stature fine
and thin, and bright as though a moon of the fourteenth night she
had been, or the sun raining lively sheen. Even so the poet
Utayyah hath excellently said:--

She rose like the morn as she shone through the night * And she
gilded the grove with her gracious sight:
From her radiance the sun taketh increase when * She unveileth
and shameth the moonshine bright.
Bow down all beings between her hands * As she showeth charms
with her veil undight.
And she foodeth cities[FN#13] with torrent tears * When she
flasheth her look of levee light.

The Jinni seated her under the tree by his side and looking at
her said, "O choicest love of this heart of mine! O dame of
noblest line, whom I snatched away on thy bride night that none
might prevent me taking thy maidenhead or tumble thee before I
did, and whom none save myself hath loved or hath enjoyed: O my
sweetheart! I would fief sleep a little while." He then laid his
head upon the lady's thighs; and, stretching out his legs which
extended down to the sea, slept and snored and sparked like the
roll of thunder. Presently she raised her head towards the tree
top and saw the two Kings perched near the summit; then she
softly lifted off her lap the Jinni's pate which she was tired of
supporting and placed it upon the ground; then standing upright
under the tree signed to the Kings, "Come ye down, ye two, and
fear naught from this Ifrit."[FN#14] They were in a terrible
fright when they found that she had seen them and answered her in
the same manner, "Allah upon thee[FN#15] and by thy modesty, O
lady, excuse us from coming down!" But she rejoined by saying,
"Allah upon you both, that ye come down forthright, and if ye
come not, I will rouse upon you my husband, this Ifrit, and he
shall do you to die by the illest of deaths;" and she continued
making signals to them. So, being afraid, they came down to her
and she rose be fore them and said, "Stroke me a strong stroke,
without stay or delay, otherwise will I arouse and set upon you
this Ifrit who shall slay you straightway." They said to her, "O
our lady, we conjure thee by Allah, let us off this work, for we
are fugitives from such and in extreme dread and terror of this
thy husband. How then can we do it in such a way as thou
desires"?" "Leave this talk: it needs must be so;" quoth she, and
she swore them by Him[FN#16] who raised the skies on high,
without prop or pillar, that, if they worked not her will, she
would cause them to be slain and cast into the sea. Whereupon out
of fear King Shahryar said to King Shah Zaman, "O my brother, do
thou what she biddeth thee do;" but he replied, "I will not do it
till thou do it before I do." And they began disputing about
futtering her. Then quoth she to the twain, "How is it I see you
disputing and demurring; if ye do not come forward like men and
do the deed of kind ye two, I will arouse upon you the If rit."
At this, by reason of their sore dread of the Jinni, both did by
her what she bade them do; and, when they had dismounted from
her, she said, "Well done!" She then took from her pocket a purse
and drew out a knotted string, whereon were strung five hundred
and seventy[FN#17] seal rings, and asked, "Know ye what be
these?" They answered her saying, "We know not!" Then quoth she;
"These be the signets of five hundred and seventy men who have
all futtered me upon the horns of this foul, this foolish, this
filthy Ifrit; so give me also your two seal rings, ye pair of
brothers." When they had drawn their two rings from their hands
and given them to her, she said to them, "Of a truth this If rit
bore me off on my bride night, and put me into a casket and set
the casket in a coffer and to the coffer he affixed seven strong
padlocks of steel and deposited me on the deep bottom of the sea
that raves, dashing and clashing with waves; and guarded me so
that I might remain chaste and honest, quotha! none save himself
might have connexion with me. But I have lain under as many of my
kind as I please, and this wretched Jinni wotteth not that Des
tiny may not be averted nor hindered by aught, and that whatso
woman willeth the same she fulfilleth however man nilleth. Even
so saith one of them.--

Rely not on women; * Trust not to their hearts,
Whose joys and whose sorrows * Are hung to their parts!
Lying love they will swear thee * Whence guile ne'er departs:
Take Yusuf[FN#18] for sample * 'Ware sleights and 'ware smarts!
Iblis[FN#19] ousted Adam * (See ye not?) thro' their arts.

And another saith:--

Stint thy blame, man! 'Twill drive to a passion without bound; *
My fault is not so heavy as fault in it hast found.
If true lover I become, then to me there cometh not * Save what
happened unto many in the bygone stound.
For wonderful is he and right worthy of our praise * Who from
wiles of female wits kept him safe and kept him sound."

Hearing these words they marvelled with exceeding marvel, and she
went from them to the Ifrit and, taking up his head on her thigh
as before, said to them softly, "Now wend your ways and bear
yourselves beyond the bounds of his malice." So they fared forth
saying either to other, "Allah! Allah!" and, "There be no Majesty
and there be no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great; and
with Him we seek refuge from women's malice and sleight, for of a
truth it hath no mate in might. Consider, O my brother, the ways
of this marvellous lady with an Ifrit who is so much more
powerful than we are. Now since there hath hap pened to him a
greater mishap than that which befel us and which should bear us
abundant consolation, so return we to our countries and capitals,
and let us decide never to intermarry with womankind and
presently we will show them what will be our action." Thereupon
they rode back to the tents of King Shahryar, which they reached
on the morning of the third day; and, having mustered the Wazirs
and Emirs, the Chamberlains and high officials, he gave a robe of
honour to his Viceroy and issued orders for an immediate return
to the city. There he sat him upon his throne and sending for the
Chief Minister, the father of the two damsels who (Inshallah!)
will presently be mentioned, he said, "I command thee to take my
wife and smite her to death; for she hath broken her plight and
her faith." So he carried her to the place of execution and did
her die. Then King Shahryar took brand in hand and repairing to
the Serraglio slew all the concubines and their Mamelukes.[FN#20]
He also sware himself by a binding oath that whatever wife he
married he would abate her maidenhead at night and slay her next
morning to make sure of his honour; "For," said he, "there never
was nor is there one chaste woman upon face of earth." Then Shah
Zaman prayed for permission to fare homewards; and he went forth
equipped and escorted and travelled till he reached his own
country. Mean while Shahryar commanded his Wazir to bring him the
bride of the night that he might go in to her; so he produced a
most beautiful girl, the daughter of one of the Emirs and the
King went in unto her at eventide and when morning dawned he bade
his Minister strike off her head; and the Wazir did accordingly
for fear of the Sultan. On this wise he continued for the space
of three years; marrying a maiden every night and killing her the
next morning, till folk raised an outcry against him and cursed
him, praying Allah utterly to destroy him and his rule; and women
made an uproar and mothers wept and parents fled with their
daughters till there remained not in the city a young person fit
for carnal copulation. Presently the King ordered his Chief
Wazir, the same who was charged with the executions, to bring him
a virgin as was his wont; and the Minister went forth and
searched and found none; so he returned home in sorrow and
anxiety fearing for his life from the King. Now he had two
daughters, Shahrazad and Dunyazad hight,[FN#21] of whom the elder
had perused the books, annals and legends of preceding Kings, and
the stories, examples and instances of by gone men and things;
indeed it was said that she had collected a thousand books of
histories relating to antique races and departed rulers. She had
perused the works of the poets and knew them by heart; she had
studied philosophy and the sciences, arts and accomplish meets;
and she was pleasant and polite, wise and witty, well read and
well bred. Now on that day she said to her father, "Why do I see
thee thus changed and laden with cark and care? Concerning this
matter quoth one of the poets.--

Tell whoso hath sorrow * Grief never shall last:
E'en as joy hath no morrow * So woe shall go past."

When the Wazir heard from his daughter these words he related to
her, from first to last, all that had happened between him and
the King. Thereupon said she, "By Allah, O my father, how long
shall this slaughter of women endure? Shall I tell thee what is
in my mind in order to save both sides from destruction?" "Say
on, O my daughter," quoth he, and quoth she, "I wish thou wouldst
give me in marriage to this King Shahryar; either I shall live or
I shall be a ransom for the virgin daughters of Moslems and the
cause of their deliverance from his hands and thine."[FN#22]
"Allah upon thee!" cried he in wrath exceeding that lacked no
feeding, "O scanty of wit, expose not thy life to such peril! How
durst thou address me in words so wide from wisdom and un far
from foolishness? Know that one who lacketh experience in worldly
matters readily falleth into misfortune; and whoso considereth
not the end keepeth not the world to friend, and the vulgar say:-
-I was lying at mine ease: nought but my officiousness brought me
unease." "Needs must thou," she broke in, "make me a doer of this
good deed, and let him kill me an he will: I shall only die a
ransom for others." "O my daughter," asked he. "and how shall
that profit thee when thou shalt have thrown away thy life?" and
she answered, "O my father it must be, come of it what will!" The
Wazir was again moved to fury and blamed and reproached her,
ending with, "In very deed--I fear lest the same befal thee which
befel the Bull and the Ass with the Husband man." "And what,"
asked she, "befel them, O my father?" Whereupon the Wazir began

Tale of the Bull[FN#23] and the Ass.

Know, O my daughter, that there was once a merchant who owned
much money and many men, and who was rich in cattle and camels;
he had also a wife and family and he dwelt in the country, being
experienced in husbandry and devoted to agriculture. Now Allah
Most High had endowed him with under standing the tongues of
beasts and birds of every kind, but under pain of death if he
divulged the gift to any. So he kept it secret for very fear. He
had in his cow house a Bull and an Ass each tethered in his own
stall one hard by the other. As the merchant was sitting near
hand one day with his servants and his children were playing
about him, he heard the Bull say to the Ass, "Hail and health to
thee O Father of Waking![FN#24] for that thou enjoyest rest and
good ministering; all under thee is clean swept and fresh
sprinkled; men wait upon thee and feed thee, and thy provaunt is
sifted barley and thy drink pure spring water, while I (unhappy
creature!) am led forth in the middle of the night, when they set
on my neck the plough and a something called Yoke; and I tire at
cleaving the earth from dawn of day till set of sun. I am forced
to do more than I can and to bear all manner of ill treatment
from night to night; after which they take me back with my sides
torn, my neck flayed, my legs aching and mine eyelids sored with
tears. Then they shut me up in the byre and throw me beans and
crushed straw,[FN#25] mixed with dirt and chaff; and I lie in
dung and filth and foul stinks through the livelong night. But
thou art ever in a place swept and sprinkled and cleansed, and
thou art always lying at ease, save when it happens (and seldom
enough!) that the master hath some business, when he mounts thee
and rides thee to town and returns with thee forthright. So it
happens that I am toiling and distress while thou takest thine
ease and thy rest; thou sleepest while I am sleepless; I hunger
still while thou eatest thy fill, and I win contempt while thou
winnest good will." When the Bull ceased speaking, the Ass turned
to wards him and said, "O Broad o' Brow,[FN#26] 0 thou lost one!
he lied not who dubbed thee Bull head, for thou, O father of a
Bull, hast neither forethought nor contrivance; thou art the
simplest of simpletons,[FN#27] and thou knowest naught of good
advisers. Hast thou not heard the saying of the wise:--

For others these hardships and labours I bear * And theirs is the
pleasure and mine is the care;
As the bleacher who blacketh his brow in the sun * To whiten the
raiment which other men wear.[FN#28]

But thou, O fool, art full of zeal and thou toilest and moilest
before the master; and thou tearest and wearest and slayest thy
self for the comfort of another. Hast thou never heard the saw
that saith, None to guide and from the way go wide? Thou wendest
forth at the call to dawn prayer and thou returnest not till
sundown; and through the livelong day thou endurest all manner
hardships; to wit, beating and belabouring and bad language. Now
hearken to me, Sir Bull! when they tie thee to thy stinking
manger, thou pawest the ground with thy forehand and rashest out
with thy hind hoofs and pushest with thy horns and bellowest
aloud, so they deem thee contented. And when they throw thee thy
fodder thou fallest on it with greed and hastenest to line thy
fair fat paunch. But if thou accept my advice it will be better
for thee and thou wilt lead an easier life even than mine. When
thou goest a field and they lay the thing called Yoke on thy
neck, lie down and rise not again though haply they swinge thee;
and, if thou rise, lie down a second time; and when they bring
thee home and offer thee thy beans, fall backwards and only sniff
at thy meat and withdraw thee and taste it not, and be satis fied
with thy crushed straw and chaff; and on this wise feign thou art
sick, and cease not doing thus for a day or two days or even
three days, so shalt thou have rest from toil and moil." When the
Bull heard these words he knew the Ass to be his friend and
thanked him, saying, "Right is thy rede;" and prayed that all
blessings might requite him, and cried, "O Father Wakener![FN#29]
thou hast made up for my failings." (Now[FN#30] the merchant, O
my daughter, understood all that passed between them.) Next day
the driver took the Bull, and settling the plough on his
neck,[FN#31] made him work as wont; but the Bull began to shirk
his ploughing, according to the advice of the Ass, and the
ploughman drubbed him till he broke the yoke and made off; but
the man caught him up and leathered him till he despaired of his
life. Not the less, however, would he do nothing but stand still
and drop down till the evening. Then the herd led him home and
stabled him in his stall: but he drew back from his manger and
neither stamped nor ramped nor butted nor bellowed as he was wont
to do; whereat the man wondered. He brought him the beans and
husks, but he sniffed at them and left them and lay down as far
from them as he could and passed the whole night fasting. The
peasant came next morning; and, seeing the manger full of beans,
the crushed straw untasted and the ox lying on his back in
sorriest plight, with legs outstretched and swollen belly, he was
concerned for him, and said to himself, "By Allah, he hath
assuredly sickened and this is the cause why he would not plough
yesterday." Then he went to the merchant and reported, "O my
master, the Bull is ailing; he refused his fodder last night; nay
more, he hath not tasted a scrap of it this morning." Now the
merchant farmer understood what all this meant, because he had
overheard the talk between the Bull and the Ass, so quoth he,
"Take that rascal donkey, and set the yoke on his neck, and bind
him to the plough and make him do Bull's work." Thereupon the
ploughman took the Ass, and worked him through the live long day
at the Bull's task; and, when he failed for weakness, he made him
eat stick till his ribs were sore and his sides were sunken and
his neck was hayed by the yoke; and when he came home in the
evening he could hardly drag his limbs along, either fore hand or
hind legs. But as for the Bull, he had passed the day lying at
full length and had eaten his fodder with an excellent appetite,
and he ceased not calling down blessings on the Ass for his good
advice, unknowing what had come to him on his ac count. So when
night set in and the Ass returned to the byte the Bull rose up
before him in honour, and said, "May good tidings gladden thy
heart, O Father Wakener! through thee I have rested all this day
and I have eaten my meat in peace and quiet." But the Ass
returned no reply, for wrath and heart burning and fatigue and
the beating he had gotten; and he repented with the most grievous
of repentance; and quoth he to himself: "This cometh of my folly
in giving good counsel; as the saw saith, I was in joy and
gladness, nought save my officiousness brought me this sadness.
But I will bear in mind my innate worth and the nobility of my
nature; for what saith the poet?

Shall the beautiful hue of the Basil[FN#32] fail * Tho' the
beetle's foot o'er the Basil crawl?
And though spider and fly be its denizens * Shall disgrace attach
to the royal hall?
The cowrie,[FN#33] I ken, shall have currency * But the pearl's
clear drop, shall its value fall?

And now I must take thought and put a trick upon him and return
him to his place, else I die." Then he went aweary to his manger,
while the Bull thanked him and blessed him. And even so, O my
daughter, said the Wazir, thou wilt die for lack of wits;
therefore sit thee still and say naught and expose not thy life
to such stress; for, by Allah, I offer thee the best advice,
which cometh of my affection and kindly solicitude for thee." "O
my father," she answered, "needs must I go up to this King and be
married to him." Quoth he, "Do not this deed;" and quoth she, "Of
a truth I will:" whereat he rejoined, "If thou be not silent and
bide still, I will do with thee even what the merchant did with
his wife." "And what did he?" asked she. "Know then, answered the
Wazir, that after the return of the Ass the merchant came out on
the terrace roof with his wife and family, for it was a moonlit
night and the moon at its full. Now the ter race overlooked the
cowhouse and presently, as he sat there with his children playing
about him, the trader heard the Ass say to the Bull, "Tell me, O
Father Broad o' Brow, what thou purposest to do to morrow?" The
Bull answered, "What but continue to follow thy counsel, O
Aliboron? Indeed it was as good as good could be and it hath
given me rest and repose; nor will I now depart from it one
little: so, when they bring me my meat, I will refuse it and blow
out my belly and counterfeit crank." The Ass shook his head and
said, "Beware of so doing, O Father of a Bull!" The Bull asked,
"Why," and the Ass answered, "Know that I am about to give thee
the best of counsel, for verily I heard our owner say to the
herd, If the Bull rise not from his place to do his work this
morning and if he retire from his fodder this day, make him over
to the butcher that he may slaughter him and give his flesh to
the poor, and fashion a bit of leather[FN#34] from his hide. Now
I fear for thee on account of this. So take my advice ere a
calamity befal thee; and when they bring thee thy fodder eat it
and rise up and bellow and paw the ground, or our master will
assuredly slay thee: and peace be with thee!" Thereupon the Bull
arose and lowed aloud and thanked the Ass, and said, "To morrow I
will readily go forth with them;" and he at once ate up all his
meat and even licked the manger. (All this took place and the
owner was listening to their talk.) Next morning the trader and
his wife went to the Bull's crib and sat down, and the driver
came and led forth the Bull who, seeing his owner, whisked his
tail and brake wind, and frisked about so lustily that the
merchant laughed a loud laugh and kept laughing till he fell on
his back. His wife asked him, "Whereat laughest thou with such
loud laughter as this?"; and he answered her, "I laughed at a
secret something which I have heard and seen but cannot say lest
I die my death." She returned, "Perforce thou must discover it to
me, and disclose the cause of thy laughing even if thou come by
thy death!" But he rejoined, "I cannot re veal what beasts and
birds say in their lingo for fear I die." Then quoth she, "By
Allah, thou liest! this is a mere pretext: thou laughest at none
save me, and now thou wouldest hide somewhat from me. But by the
Lord of the Heavens! an thou disclose not the cause I will no
longer cohabit with thee: I will leave thee at once." And she sat
down and cried. Whereupon quoth the merchant, "Woe betide thee!
what means thy weeping? Bear Allah and leave these words and
query me no more questions." "Needs must thou tell me the cause
of that laugh," said she, and he replied, "Thou wottest that when
I prayed Allah to vouchsafe me understanding of the tongues of
beasts and birds, I made a vow never to disclose the secret to
any under pain of dying on the spot." "No matter," cried she,
"tell me what secret passed between the Bull and the Ass and die
this very hour an thou be so minded;" and she ceased not to
importune him till he was worn out and clean distraught. So at
last he said, "Summon thy father and thy mother and our kith and
kin and sundry of our neighbours," which she did; and he sent for
the Kazi[FN#35] and his assessors, intending to make his will and
reveal to her his secret and die the death; for he loved her with
love exceeding because she was his cousin, the daughter of his
father's brother, and the mother of his children, and he had
lived with her a life of an hundred and twenty years. Then,
having assembled all the family and the folk of his
neighbourhood, he said to them, "By me there hangeth a strange
story, and 'tis such that if I discover the secret to any, I am a
dead man." Therefore quoth every one of those present to the
woman, "Allah upon thee, leave this sinful obstinacy and
recognise the right of this matter, lest haply thy husband and
the father of thy children die." But she rejoined, "I will not
turn from it till he tell me, even though he come by his death."
So they ceased to urge her; and the trader rose from amongst them
and repaired to an out house to per form Wuzu ablution,[FN#36]
and he purposed thereafter to return and to tell them his secret
and to die. Now, daughter Shahrazad, that mer chant had in his
out houses some fifty hens under one cock, and whilst making
ready to farewell his folk he heard one of his many farm dogs
thus address in his own tongue the Cock, who was flapping his
wings and crowing lustily and jumping from one hen's back to
another and treading all in turn, saying "O Chanti clear! how
mean is thy wit and how shameless is thy conduct! Be he
disappointed who brought thee up![FN#37] Art thou not ashamed of
thy doings on such a day as this!" "And what," asked the Rooster,
"hath occurred this day?" when the Dog answered, "Doss thou not
know that our master is this day making ready for his death? His
wife is resolved that he shall disclose the secret taught to him
by Allah, and the moment he so doeth he shall surely die. We dogs
are all a mourning; but thou clappest thy wings and clarionest
thy loudest and treadest hen after hen. Is this an hour for
pastime and pleasuring? Art thou not ashamed of thyself?"[FN#38]
"Then by Allah," quoth the Cock, "is our master a lack wit and a
man scanty of sense: if he cannot manage matters with a single
wife, his life is not worth prolonging. Now I have some fifty
Dame Partlets; and I please this and provoke that and starve one
and stuff another; and through my good governance they are all
well under my control. This our master pretendeth to wit and
wisdom, and he hath but one wife, and yet knoweth not how to
manage her." Asked the Dog, "What then, O Cock, should the master
do to win clear of his strait?" "He should arise forthright,"
answered the Cock, "and take some twigs from yon mulberry tree
and give her a regular back basting and rib roasting till she
cry:--I repent, O my lord! I will never ask thee a question as
long as I live! Then let him beat her once more and soundly, and
when he shall have done this he shall sleep free from care and
enjoy life. But this master of ours owns neither sense nor
judgment." "Now, daughter Shahrazad," continued the Wazir, "I
will do to thee as did that husband to that wife." Said
Shahrazad, "And what did he do?" He replied, "When the merchant
heard the wise words spoken by his Cock to his Dog, he arose in
haste and sought his wife's chamber, after cutting for her some
mulberry twigs and hiding them there; and then he called to her,
"Come into the closet that I may tell thee the secret while no
one seeth me and then die." She entered with him and he locked
the door and came down upon her with so sound a beating of back
and shoulders, ribs, arms and legs, saying the while, "Wilt thou
ever be asking questions about what concerneth thee not?" that
she was well nigh senseless. Presently she cried out, "I am of
the repentant! By Allah, I will ask thee no more questions, and
indeed I repent sincerely and wholesomely." Then she kissed his
hand and feet and he led her out of the room submissive as a wife
should be. Her parents and all the company rejoiced and sadness
and mourn ing were changed into joy and gladness. Thus the
merchant learnt family discipline from his Cock and he and his
wife lived together the happiest of lives until death. And thou
also, O my daughter!" continued the Wazir, "Unless thou turn from
this matter I will do by thee what that trader did to his wife."
But she answered him with much decision, "I will never desist, O
my father, nor shall this tale change my purpose. Leave such talk
and tattle. I will not listen to thy words and, if thou deny me,
I will marry myself to him despite the nose of thee. And first I
will go up to the King myself and alone and I will say to him:--I
prayed my father to wive me with thee, but he refused being
resolved to disappoint his lord, grudging the like of me to the
like of thee." Her father asked, "Must this needs be?" and she
answered, "Even so." Hereupon the Wazir being weary of lamenting
and contending, persuading and dissuading her, all to no purpose,
went up to King Shahryar and after blessing him and kissing the
ground before him, told him all about his dispute with his
daughter from first to last and how he designed to bring her to
him that night. The King wondered with exceeding wonder; for he
had made an especial exception of the Wazir's daughter, and said
to him, "O most faithful of Counsellors, how is this? Thou
wottest that I have sworn by the Raiser of the Heavens that after
I have gone in to her this night I shall say to thee on the
morrow's morning:--Take her and slay her! and, if thou slay her
not, I will slay thee in her stead without fail." "Allah guide
thee to glory and lengthen thy life, O King of the age," answered
the Wazir, "it is she that hath so determined: all this have I
told her and more; but she will not hearken to me and she
persisteth in passing this coming night with the King's Majesty."
So Shahryar rejoiced greatly and said, "'Tis well; go get her
ready and this night bring her to me." The Wazir returned to his
daughter and reported to her the command saying, "Allah make not
thy father desolate by thy loss!" But Shah razed rejoiced with
exceeding joy and get ready all she required and said to her
younger sister, Dunyazad, "Note well what directions I entrust to
thee! When I have gone in to the King I will send for thee and
when thou comest to me and seest that he hath had his carnal will
of me, do thou say to me:--O my sister, an thou be not sleepy,
relate to me some new story, delectable and delightsome, the
better to speed our waking hours;" and I will tell thee a tale
which shall be our deliverance, if so Allah please, and which
shall turn the King from his blood thirsty custom." Dunyazad
answered "With love and gladness." So when it was night their
father the Wazir carried Shahrazad to the King who was gladdened
at the sight and asked, "Hast thou brought me my need?" and he
answered, "I have." But when the King took her to his bed and
fell to toying with her and wished to go in to her she wept;
which made him ask, "What aileth thee?" She replied, "O King of
the age, I have a younger sister and fief would I take leave of
her this night before I see the dawn." So he sent at once for
Dunyazad and she came and kissed the ground between his hands,
when he permitted her to take her seat near the foot of the
couch. Then the King arose and did away with his bride's
maidenhead and the three fell asleep. But when it was midnight
Shahrazad awoke and signalled to her sister Dunyazad who sat up
and said, "Allah upon thee, O my sister, recite to us some new
story, delightsome and delectable, wherewith to while away the
waking hours of our latter night."[FN#39] "With joy and goodly
gree," answered Shahrazad, "if this pious and auspicious King
permit me." "Tell on," quoth the King who chanced to be sleepless
and restless and therefore was pleased with the prospect of
hearing her story. So Shahrazad rejoiced; and thus, on the first
night of the Thousand Nights and a Night, she began with the


It is related, O auspicious King, that there was a merchant of
the merchants who had much wealth, and business in various
cities. Now on a day he mounted horse and went forth to re cover
monies in certain towns, and the heat sore oppressed him; so he
sat beneath a tree and, putting his hand into his saddle bags,
took thence some broken bread and dry dates and began to break
his fast. When he had ended eating the dates he threw away the
stones with force and lo! an Ifrit appeared, huge of stature and
brandishing a drawn sword, wherewith he approached the mer chant
and said, "Stand up that I may slay thee, even as thou slewest my
son!" Asked the merchant, "How have I slain thy son?" and he
answered, "When thou atest dates and threwest away the stones
they struck my son full in the breast as he was walking by, so
that he died forthwith."[FN#40] Quoth the merchant, "Verily from
Allah we proceeded and unto Allah are we re turning. There is no
Majesty, and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the
Great! If I slew thy son, I slew him by chance medley. I pray
thee now pardon me." Rejoined the Jinni, "There is no help but I
must slay thee." Then he seized him and dragged him along and,
casting him to the earth, raised the sword to strike him;
whereupon the merchant wept, and said, "I commit my case to
Allah," and began repeating these couplets:--

Containeth Time a twain of days, this of blessing that of bane *
And holdeth Life a twain of halves, this of pleasure that of
See'st not when blows the hurricane, sweeping stark and striking
strong * None save the forest giant feels the suffering of
the strain?
How many trees earth nourisheth of the dry and of the green *
Yet none but those which bear the fruits for cast of stone
See'st not how corpses rise and float on the surface of the tide
* While pearls o'price lie hidden in the deepest of the
In Heaven are unnumbered the many of the stars * Yet ne'er a star
but Sun and Moon by eclipse is overta'en.
Well judgedst thou the days that saw thy faring sound and well *
And countedst not the pangs and pain whereof Fate is ever
The nights have kept thee safe and the safety brought thee pride
* But bliss and blessings of the night are 'genderers of

When the merchant ceased repeating his verses the Jinni said to
him, "Cut thy words short, by Allah! needs must I slay thee." But
the merchant spake him thus, "Know, O thou Ifrit, that I have
debts due to me and much wealth and children and a wife and many
pledges in hand; so permit me to go home and dis charge to every
claimant his claim; and I will come back to thee at the head of
the new year. Allah be my testimony and surety that I will return
to thee; and then thou mayest do with me as thou wilt and Allah
is witness to what I say." The Jinni took sure promise of him and
let him go; so he returned to his own city and transacted his
business and rendered to all men their dues and after informing
his wife and children of what had betided him, he appointed a
guardian and dwelt with them for a full year. Then he arose, and
made the Wuzu ablution to purify himself before death and took
his shroud under his arm and bade farewell to his people, his
neighbours and all his kith and kin, and went forth despite his
own nose.[FN#41] They then began weeping and wailing and beating
their breasts over him; but he travelled until he arrived at the
same garden, and the day of his arrival was the head of the New
Year. As he sat weeping over what had befallen him, behold, a
Shaykh,[FN#42] a very ancient man, drew near leading a chained
gazelle; and he saluted that merchant and wishing him long life
said, "What is the cause of thy sitting in this place and thou
alone and this be a resort of evil spirits?" The merchant related
to him what had come to pass with the Ifrit, and the old man, the
owner of the gazelle, wondered and said, "By Allah, O brother,
thy faith is none other than exceeding faith and thy story right
strange; were it graven with gravers on the eye corners, it were
a warner to whoso would be warned." Then seating himself near the
merchant he said, "By Allah, O my brother, I will not leave thee
until I see what may come to pass with thee and this Ifrit." And
presently as he sat and the two were at talk the merchant began
to feel fear and terror and exceeding grief and sorrow beyond
relief and ever growing care and extreme despair. And the owner
of the gazelle was hard by his side; when behold, a second Shaykh
approached them, and with him were two dogs both of greyhound
breed and both black. The second old man after saluting them with
the salam, also asked them of their tidings and said "What
causeth you to sit in this place, a dwelling of the Jann?"[FN#43]
So they told him the tale from beginning to end, and their stay
there had not lasted long before there came up a third Shaykh,
and with him a she mule of bright bay coat; and he saluted them
and asked them why they were seated in that place. So they told
him the story from first to last: and of no avail, O my master,
is a twice told tale! There he sat down with them, and lo! a dust
cloud advanced and a mighty send devil appeared amidmost of the
waste. Presently the cloud opened and behold, within it was that
Jinni hending in hand a drawn sword, while his eyes were shooting
fire sparks of rage. He came up to them and, haling away the
merchant from among them, cried to him, "Arise that I may slay
thee, as thou slewest my son, the life stuff of my liver."[FN#44]
The merchant wailed and wept, and the three old men began sighing
and crying and weeping and wailing with their companion.
Presently the first old man (the owner of the gazelle) came out
from among them and kissed the hand of the Ifrit and said, "O
Jinni, thou Crown of the Kings of the Jann! were I to tell thee
the story of me and this gazelle and thou shouldst consider it
wondrous wouldst thou give me a third part of this merchant's
blood?" Then quoth the Jinni "Even so, O Shaykh ! if thou tell me
this tale, and I hold it a marvellous, then will I give thee a
third of his blood." Thereupon the old man began to tell

The First Shaykh's Story.

Know O Jinni! that this gazelle is the daughter of my paternal
uncle, my own flesh and blood, and I married her when she was a
young maid, and I lived with her well nigh thirty years, yet was
I not blessed with issue by her. So I took me a concubine[FN#45]
who brought to me the boon of a male child fair as the full moon,
with eyes of lovely shine and eyebrows which formed one line, and
limbs of perfect design. Little by little he grew in stature and
waxed tall; and when he was a lad fifteen years old, it became
needful I should journey to certain cities and I travelled with
great store of goods. But the daughter of my uncle (this gazelle)
had learned gramarye and egromancy and clerkly craft[FN#46] from
her childhood; so she bewitched that son of mine to a calf, and
my handmaid (his mother) to a heifer, and made them over to the
herdsman's care. Now when I returned after a long time from my
journey and asked for my son and his mother, she answered me,
saying "Thy slave girl is dead, and thy son hath fled and I know
not whither he is sped." So I remained for a whole year with
grieving heart, and streaming eyes until the time came for the
Great Festival of Allah.[FN#47] Then sent I to my herdsman bidding
him choose for me a fat heifer; and he brought me one which
was the damsel, my handmaid, whom this gazelle had ensorcelled. I
tucked up my sleeves and skirt and, taking a knife, proceeded to
cut her throat, but she lowed aloud and wept bitter tears.
Thereat I marvelled and pity seized me and I held my hand, saying
to the herd, "Bring me other than this." Then cried my cousin,
"Slay her, for I have not a fatter nor a fairer!" Once more I
went forward to sacrifice her, but she again lowed aloud upon
which in ruth I refrained and commanded the herdsman to slay her
and flay her. He killed her and skinned her but found in her
neither fat nor flesh, only hide and bone; and I repented when
penitence availed me naught. I gave her to the herdsman and said
to him, "Fetch me a fat calf;" so he brought my son ensorcelled.
When the calf saw me, he brake his tether and ran to me, and
fawned upon me and wailed and shed tears; so that I took pity on
him and said to the herdsman, "Bring me a heifer and let this
calf go!" Thereupon my cousin (this gazelle) called aloud at me,
saying, "Needs must thou kill this calf; this is a holy day and a
blessed, whereon naught is slain save what be perfect pure; and
we have not amongst our calves any fatter or fairer than this!"
Quoth I, "Look thou upon the condition of the heifer which I
slaughtered at thy bidding and how we turn from her in
disappointment and she profited us on no wise; and I repent with
an exceeding repentance of having killed her: so this time I will
not obey thy bidding for the sacrifice of this calf." Quoth she,
"By Allah the Most Great, the Compassionating, the Compassionate!
there is no help for it; thou must kill him on this holy day, and
if thou kill him not to me thou art no man and I to thee am no
wife." Now when I heard those hard words, not knowing her object
I went up to the calf, knife in hand--And Shahrazad perceived the
dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.[FN#48] Then
quoth her sister to her, "How fair is thy tale, and how grateful,
and how sweet and how tasteful!" And Shahrazad answered her,
"What is this to that I could tell thee on the coming night, were
I to live and the King would spare me?" Then said the King in
himself, "By Allah, I will not slay her, until I shall have heard
the rest of her tale." So they slept the rest of that night in
mutual em brace till day fully brake. Then the King went forth to
his audience hall[FN#49] and the Wazir went up with his
daughter's shroud under his arm. The King issued his orders, and
promoted this and deposed that, until the end of the day; and he
told the Wazir no whit of what had happened. But the Minister
wondered thereat with exceeding wonder; and when the Court broke
up King Shahryar entered his palace.

When it was the Second Night,

said Dunyazad to her sister Shahrazad, "O my sister, finish for
us that story of the Merchant and the Jinni;" and she answered
"With joy and goodly gree, if the King permit me." Then quoth the
King, "Tell thy tale;" and Shahrazad began in these words: It
hath reached me, O auspicious King and Heaven directed Ruler!
that when the merchant purposed the sacrifice of the calf but saw
it weeping, his heart relented and he said to the herdsman, "Keep
the calf among my cattle." All this the old Shaykh told the Jinni
who marvelled much at these strange words. Then the owner of the
gazelle continued:--O Lord of the Kings of the Jann, this much
took place and my uncle's daughter, this gazelle, looked on and
saw it, and said, "Butcher me this calf, for surely it is a fat
one;" but I bade the herdsman take it away and he took it and
turned his face homewards. On the next day as I was sitting in my
own house, lo! the herdsman came and, standing before me said, "O
my master, I will tell thee a thing which shall gladden thy soul,
and shall gain me the gift of good tidings."[FN#50] I answered,
"Even so." Then said he, "O merchant, I have a daughter, and she
learned magic in her childhood from an old woman who lived with
us. Yesterday when thou gavest me the calf, I went into the house
to her, and she looked upon it and veiled her face; then she wept
and laughed alternately and at last she said:--O my father, hath
mine honour become so cheap to thee that thou bringest in to me
strange men? I asked her:--Where be these strange men and why
wast thou laughing, and crying?; and she answered, Of a truth
this calf which is with thee is the son of our master, the
merchant; but he is ensorcelled by his stepdame who bewitched
both him and his mother: such is the cause of my laughing; now
the reason of his weeping is his mother, for that his father slew
her unawares. Then I marvelled at this with exceeding marvel and
hardly made sure that day had dawned before I came to tell thee."
When I heard, O Jinni, my herdsman's words, I went out with him,
and I was drunken without wine, from the excess of joy and
gladness which came upon me, until I reached his house. There his
daughter welcomed me and kissed my hand, and forthwith the calf
came and fawned upon me as before. Quoth I to the herdsman's
daughter, "Is this true that thou sayest of this calf?" Quoth
she, "Yea, O my master, he is thy son, the very core of thy
heart." I rejoiced and said to her, "O maiden, if thou wilt
release him thine shall be whatever cattle and property of mine
are under thy father's hand." She smiled and answered, "O my
master, I have no greed for the goods nor will I take them save
on two conditions; the first that thou marry me to thy son and
the second that I may bewitch her who bewitched him and imprison
her, otherwise I cannot be safe from her malice and
malpractices." Now when I heard, O Jinni, these, the words of the
herdsman's daughter, I replied, "Beside what thou askest all the
cattle and the house hold stuff in thy father's charge are thine
and, as for the daughter of my uncle, her blood is lawful to
thee." When I had spoken, she took a cup and filled it with
water: then she recited a spell over it and sprinkled it upon the
calf, saying, "If Almighty Allah created thee a calf, remain so
shaped, and change not; but if thou be enchanted, return to thy
whilom form, by command of Allah Most Highest!" and lo! he
trembled and became a man. Then I fell on his neck and said,
"Allah upon thee, tell me all that the daughter of my uncle did
by thee and by thy mother." And when he told me what had come to
pass between them I said, " O my son, Allah favoured thee with
one to restore thee, and thy right hath returned to thee." Then,
O Jinni, I married the herdsman's daughter to him, and she
transformed my wife into this gazelle, saying:--Her shape is a
comely and by no means loathsome. After this she abode with us
night and day, day and night, till the Almighty took her to
Himself. When she deceased, my son fared forth to the cities of
Hind, even to the city of this man who hath done to thee what
hath been done;[FN#51] and I also took this gazelle (my cousin)
and wandered with her from town to town seeking tidings of my
son, till Destiny drove me to this place where I saw the merchant
sitting in tears. Such is my tale! Quoth the Jinni, "This story
is indeed strange, and therefore I grant thee the third part of
his blood." There upon the second old man, who owned the two
greyhounds, came up and said, " O Jinni, if I recount to thee
what befel me from my brothers, these two hounds, and thou see
that it is a tale even more wondrous and marvellous than what
thou hast heard, wilt thou grant to me also the third of this
man's blood?" Replied the Jinni, "Thou hast my word for it, if
thine adventures be more marvellous and wondrous." Thereupon he
thus began

The Second Shaykh's Story.

Know, O lord of the Kings of the Jann! that these two dogs are my
brothers and I am the third. Now when our father died and left us
a capital of three thousand gold pieces,[FN#52] I opened a shop
with my share, and bought and sold therein, and in like guise did
my two brothers, each setting up a shop. But I had been in
business no long while before the elder sold his stock for a
thousand diners, and after buying outfit and merchandise, went
his ways to foreign parts. He was absent one whole year with the
caravan; but one day as I sat in my shop, behold, a beggar stood
before me asking alms, and I said to him, "Allah open thee
another door!"[FN#53] Whereupon he answered, weeping the while,
"Am I so changed that thou knowest me not?" Then I looked at him
narrowly, and lo! it was my brother, so I rose to him and
welcomed him; then I seated him in my shop and put questions
concerning his case. "Ask me not," answered he; "my wealth is
awaste and my state hath waxed unstated!" So I took him to the
Hammam bath[FN#54] and clad him in a suit of my own and gave him
lodging in my house. Moreover, after looking over the accounts of
my stock in trade and the profits of my business, I found that
industry had gained me one thousand diners, while my principal,
the head of my wealth, amounted to two thousand. So I shared the
whole with him saying, "Assume that thou hast made no journey
abroad but hast remained at home; and be not cast down by thine
ill luck." He took the share in great glee and opened for himself
a shop; and matters went on quietly for a few nights and days.
But presently my second brother (yon other dog), also setting his
heart upon travel, sold off what goods and stock in trade he had,
and albeit we tried to stay him he would not be stayed: he laid
in an outfit for the journey and fared forth with certain
wayfarers. After an absence of a whole year he came back to me,
even as my elder brother had come back; and when I said to him,
"O my brother, did I not dissuade thee from travel?" he shed
tears and cried, "O my brother, this be destiny's decree: here I
am a mere beggar, penniless[FN#55] and without a shirt to my
back." So I led him to the bath, O Jinni, and clothing him in new
clothes of my own wear, I went with him to my shop and served him
with meat and drink. Furthermore I said to him, "O my brother, I
am wont to cast up my shop accounts at the head of every year,
and whatso I shall find of surplusage is between me and
thee."[FN#56] So I proceeded, O Ifrit, to strike a balance and,
finding two thousand diners of profit, I returned praises to the
Creator (be He extolled and exalted!) and made over one half to
my brother, keeping the other to my self. Thereupon he busied
himself with opening a shop and on this wise we abode many days.
After a time my brothers began pressing me to travel with them;
but I refused saying, "What gained ye by travel voyage that I
should gain thereby?" As I would not give ear to them we went
back each to his own shop where we bought and sold as before.
They kept urging me to travel for a whole twelvemonth, but I
refused to do so till full six years were past and gone when I
consented with these words, "O my brothers, here am I, your
companion of travel: now let me see what monies you have by you."
I found, however, that they had not a doit, having squandered
their substance in high diet and drinking and carnal delights.
Yet I spoke not a word of reproach; so far from it I looked over
my shop accounts once more, and sold what goods and stock in
trade were mine; and, finding myself the owner of six thousand
ducats, I gladly proceeded to divide that sum in halves, saying
to my brothers, "These three thousand gold pieces are for me and
for you to trade withal," adding, "Let us bury the other moiety
underground that it may be of service in case any harm befal us,
in which case each shall take a thousand wherewith to open
shops." Both replied, "Right is thy recking;" and I gave to each
one his thousand gold pieces, keeping the same sum for myself, to
wit, a thousand diners. We then got ready suitable goods and
hired a ship and, having embarked our merchandise, proceeded on
our voyage, day following day, a full month, after which we
arrived at a city, where we sold our venture; and for every piece
of gold we gained ten. And as we turned again to our voyage we
found on the shore of the sea a maiden clad in worn and ragged
gear, and she kissed my hand and said, "O master, is there
kindness in thee and charity? I can make thee a fitting return
for them." I answered, "Even so; truly in me are benevolence and
good works, even though thou render me no return." Then she said,
"Take me to wife, O my master, and carry me to thy city, for I
have given myself to thee; so do me a kindness and I am of those
who be meet for good works and charity: I will make thee a
fitting return for these and be thou not shamed by my condition."
When I heard her words, my heart yearned towards her, in such
sort as willed it Allah (be He extolled and exalted!); and took
her and clothed her and made ready for her a fair resting place
in the vessel, and honourably entreated her. So we voyaged on,
and my heart became attached to her with exceeding attachment,
and I was separated from her neither night nor day, and I paid
more regard to her than to my brothers. Then they were estranged
from me, and waxed jealous of my wealth and the quantity of
merchandise I had, and their eyes were opened covetously upon all
my property. So they took counsel to murder me and seize my
wealth, saying, "Let us slay our brother and all his monies will
be ours;" and Satan made this deed seem fair in their sight; so
when they found me in privacy (and I sleeping by my wife's side)
they took us both up and cast us into the sea. My wife awoke
startled from her sleep and, forthright becoming an
Ifritah,[FN#57] she bore me up and carried me to an island and
disappeared for a short time; but she returned in the morning and
said, "Here am I, thy faithful slave, who hath made thee due
recompense; for I bore thee up in the waters and saved thee from
death by command of the Almighty. Know--that I am a Jinniyah, and
as I saw thee my heart loved thee by will of the Lord, for I am a
believer in Allah and in His Apostle (whom Heaven bless and
preserve!). Thereupon I came to thee conditioned as thou sawest
me and thou didst marry me, and see now I have saved thee from
sinking. But I am angered against thy brothers and assuredly I
must slay them." When I heard her story I was surprised and,
thanking her for all she had done, I said, "But as to slaying my
brothers this must not be." Then I told her the tale of what had
come to pass with them from the beginning of our lives to the
end, and on hearing it quoth she, "This night will I fly as a
bird over them and will sink their ship and slay them." Quoth I,
"Allah upon thee, do not thus, for the proverb saith, O thou who
doest good to him that cloth evil, leave the evil doer to his
evil deeds. Moreover they are still my brothers." But she
rejoined, "By Allah, there is no help for it but I slay them." I
humbled myself before her for their pardon, whereupon she bore me
up and flew away with me till at last she set me down on the
terrace roof of my own house. I opened the doors and took up what
I had hidden in the ground; and after I had saluted the folk I
opened my shop and bought me merchandise. Now when night came on
I went home, and there I saw these two hounds tied up; and, when
they sighted me, they arose and whined and fawned upon me; but
ere I knew what happened my wife said, "These two dogs be thy
brothers!" I answered, "And who hath done this thing by them?"
and she rejoined, "I sent a message to my sister and she
entreated them on this wise, nor shall these two be released from
their present shape till ten years shall have passed." And now I
have arrived at this place on my way to my wife's sister that she
may deliver them from this condition, after their having endured
it for half a score of years. As I was wending onwards I saw this
young man, who acquainted me with what had befallen him, and I
determined not to fare hence until I should see what might occur
between thee and him. Such is my tale! Then said the Jinni,
"Surely this is a strange story and therefor I give thee the
third portion of his blood and his crime." Thereupon quoth the
third Shaykh, the master of the mare mule, to the Jinni, "I can
tell thee a tale more wondrous than these two, so thou grant me
the remainder of his blood and of his offense," and the Jinni
answered, "So be it!" Then the old man began

The Third Shaykh's Story.

Know, O Sultan and head of the Jann, that this mule was my wife.
Now it so happened that I went forth and was absent one whole
year; and when I returned from my journey I came to her by night,
and saw a black slave lying with her on the carpet bed and they
were talking, and dallying, and laughing, and kissing and playing
the close buttock game. When she saw me, she rose and came
hurriedly at me with a gugglet[FN#58] of water; and, muttering
spells over it, she besprinkled me and said, "Come forth from
this thy shape into the shape of a dog;" and I became on the
instant a dog. She drove me out of the house, and I ran through
the doorway nor ceased running until I came to a butcher's stall,
where I stopped and began to eat what bones were there. When the
stall owner saw me, he took me and led me into his house, but as
soon as his daughter had sight of me she veiled her face from me,
crying out, "Doss thou bring men to me and dost thou come in with
them to me?" Her father asked, "Where is the man?"; and she
answered, "This dog is a man whom his wife hath ensorcelled and I
am able to release him." When her father heard her words, he
said, "Allah upon thee, O my daughter, release him." So she took
a gugglet of water and, after uttering words over it, sprinkled
upon me a few drops, saying, "Come forth from that form into thy
former form." And I returned to my natural shape. Then I kissed
her hand and said, "I wish thou wouldest transform my wife even
as she bans formed me." Thereupon she gave me some water, saying,
"As soon as thou see her asleep, sprinkle this liquid upon her
and speak what words thou heardest me utter, so shall she become
whatsoever thou desirest." I went to my wife and found her fast
asleep; and, while sprinkling the water upon her, I said, "Come
forth from that form into the form of a mare mule." So she became
on the instant a she mule, and she it is whom thou seest with
thine eyes, O Sultan and head of the Kings of the Jann! Then the
Jinni turned towards her and said, "Is this sooth?" And she
nodded her head and replied by signs, "Indeed, 'tis the truth:
for such is my tale and this is what hath be fallen me." Now when
the old man had ceased speaking the Jinni shook with pleasure and


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