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

Part 4 out of 9

in his heart. At the sight they shrieked and wept and beat their
faces, loudly cursing the murderer; whilst a swoon came over the
Shaykh so that the slaves deemed him dead, unable to survive his
son. At last they wrapped the slain youth in his clothes and
carried him up and laid him on the ground covering him with a
shroud of silk. Whilst they were making for the ship the old man
revived; and, gazing on his son who was stretched out, fell on
the ground and strewed dust over his head and smote his face and
plucked out his beard; and his weeping redoubled as he thought of
his murdered son and he swooned away once more. After awhile a
slave went and fetched a strip of silk whereupon they lay the old
man and sat down at his head. All this took place and I was on
the tree above them watching everything that came to pass; and my
heart became hoary before my head waxed grey, for the hard lot
which was mine, and for the distress and anguish I had undergone,
and I fell to reciting:--

"How many a joy by Allah's will hath fled * With flight escaping
sight of wisest head!
How many a sadness shall begin the day, * Yet grow right
gladsome ere the day is sped!
How many a weal trips on the heels of ill, * Causing the
mourner's heart with joy to thrill!"[FN#278]

But the old man, O my lady, ceased not from his swoon till near
sunset, when he came to himself and, looking upon his dead son,
he recalled what had happened, and how what he had dreaded had
come to pass; and he beat his face and head and recited these

"Racked is my heart by parting fro' my friends * And two rills
ever fro' my eyelids flow:
With them[FN#279] went forth my hopes, Ah, well away! * What
shift remaineth me to say or do?
Would I had never looked upon their sight, * What shift, fair
sirs, when paths e'er strainer grow?
What charm shall calm my pangs when this wise burn * Longings
of love which in my vitals glow?
Would I had trod with them the road of Death! * Ne'er had befel
us twain this parting blow:
Allah: I pray the Truthful show me Roth * And mix our lives nor
part them evermo'e!
How blest were we as 'death one roof we dwelt * Conjoined in
joys nor recking aught of woe;
Till Fortune shot us pith the severance shaft; * Ah who shall
patient bear such parting throe?
And dart of Death struck down amid the tribe * The age's pearl
that Morn saw brightest show:
I cried the while his case took speech and said:--* Would Heaven,
my son, Death mote his doom foreslow!
Which be the readiest road wi' thee to meet * My Son! for whom I
would my soul bestow?
If sun I call him no! the sun cloth set; * If moon I call him,
wane the moons; Ah no!
O sad mischance o' thee, O doom of days, * Thy place none other
love shall ever know:
Thy sire distracted sees thee, but despairs * By wit or wisdom
Fate to overthrow:
Some evil eye this day hath cast its spell * And foul befal him
as it foul befel!"

Then he sobbed a single sob and his soul fled his flesh. The
slaves shrieked aloud, "Alas, our lord!" and showered dust on
their heads and redoubled their weeping and wailing. Presently
they carried their dead master to the ship side by side with his
dead son and, having transported all the stuff from the dwelling
to the vessel, set sail and disappeared from mine eyes. I
descended from the tree and, raising the trap-door, went down
into the underground dwelling where everything reminded me of the
youth; and I looked upon the poor remains of him and began
repeating these verses:--

"Their tracks I see, and pine with pain and pang * And on
deserted hearths I weep and yearn:
And Him I pray who doomed them depart * Some day vouchsafe
the boon of safe return.''[FN#280]

Then, O my lady, I went up again by the trap-door, and every day
I used to wander round about the island and every night I
returned to the underground hall. Thus I lived for a month, till
at last, looking at the western side of the island, I observed
that every day the tides ebbed, leaving shallow water for which
the flow did not compensate; and by the end of the month the sea
showed dry land in that direction. At this I rejoiced making
certain of my safety; so I arose and fording what little was left
of the water got me to the mainland, where I fell in with great
heaps of loose sand in which even a camel's hoof would sink up to
the knee.[FN#281] However I emboldened my soul and wading through
the sand behold, a fire shone from afar burning with a brazing
light.[FN#282] So I made for it hoping haply to find succour, and
broke out into these verses:--

"Belike Fortune may her bridle turn * And Time bring weal
although he's jealous hight;
Forward my hopes, and further all my needs, * And passed ills
with present weals requite."

And when I drew near the fire aforesaid lo! it was a palace with
gates of copper burnished red which, when the rising sun shone
thereon, gleamed and glistened from afar showing what had seemed
to me a fire. I rejoiced in the sight, and sat down over against
the gate, but I was hardly settled in my seat before there met me
ten young men clothed in sumptuous gear and all were blind of the
left eye which appeared as plucked out. They were accompanied by
a Shaykh, an old, old man, and much I marvelled at their
appearance, and their all being blind of the same eye When they
saw me, they saluted me with the Salam and asked me of my case
and my history; whereupon I related to them all what had befallen
me, and what full measure of misfortune was mine. Marvelling at
my tale they took me to the mansion, where I saw ranged round the
hall ten couches each with its blue bedding and coverlet of blue
stuff[FN#283] and amiddlemost stood a smaller couch furnished
like them with blue and nothing else. As we entered each of the
youths took his seat on his own couch and the old man seated
himself upon the smaller one in the middle saying to me, "O
youth, sit thee down on the floor and ask not of our case nor of
the loss of our eyes." Presently he rose up and set before each
young man some meat in a charger and drink in a large mazer,
treating me in like manner; and after that they sat questioning
me concerning my adventures and what had betided me: and I kept
telling them my tale till the night was far spent. Then said the
young men, "O our Shaykh, wilt not thou set before us our
ordinary? The time is come." He replied, "With love and
gladness," and rose and entering a closet disappeared, but
presently returned bearing on his head ten trays each covered
with a strip of blue stuff. He set a tray before each youth and,
lighting ten wax candles, he stuck one upon each tray, and drew
off the covers and lo! under them was naught but ashes and
powdered charcoal and kettle soot. Then all the young men tucked
up their sleeves to the elbows and fell a weeping and wailing and
they blackened their faces and smeared their clothes and
buffetted their brows and beat their breasts, continually
exclaiming, "We were sitting at our ease but our frowardness
brought us unease! " They ceased not to do this till dawn drew
nigh, when the old man rose and heated water for them; and they
washed their faces, and donned other and clean clothes. Now when
I saw this, O my lady, for very wonderment my senses left me and
my wits went wild and heart and head were full of thought, till I
forgot what had betided me and I could not keep silence feeling I
fain must speak out and question them of these strangenesses; so
I said to them, "How come ye to do this after we have been so
open hearted and frolicksome? Thanks be to Allah ye be all sound
and sane, yet actions such as these befit none but mad men or
those possessed of an evil spirit. I conjure you by all that is
dearest to you, why stint ye to tell me your history, and the
cause of your losing your eyes and your blackening your faces
with ashes and soot?" Hereupon they turned to me and said, "O
young man, hearken not to thy youthtide's suggestions and
question us no questions." Then they slept and I with them and
when they awoke the old man brought us somewhat of food; and,
after we had eaten and the plates and goblets had been removed,
they sat conversing till night fall when the old man rose and lit
the wax candles and lamps and set meat and drink before us. After
we had eaten and drunken we sat conversing and carousing in
companionage till the noon of night, when they said to the old
man, "Bring us our ordinary, for the hour of sleep is at hand!"
So he rose and brought them the trays of soot and ashes; and they
did as they had done on the preceding night, nor more, nor less.
I abode with them after this fashion for the space of a month
during which time they used to blacken their faces with ashes
every night, and to wash and change their raiment when the morn
was young; and I but marvelled the more and my scruples and
curiosity increased to such a point that I had to forego even
food and drink. At last, I lost command of myself, for my heart
was aflame with fire unquenchable and lowe unconcealable and I
said, "O young men, will ye not relieve my trouble and acquaint
me with the reason of thus blackening your faces and the meaning
of your words:--We were sitting at our ease but our frowardness
brought us unease?" Quoth they "'Twere better to keep these
things secret." Still I was bewildered by their doings to the
point of abstaining from eating and drinking and, at last wholly
losing patience, quoth I to them, There is no help for it: ye
must acquaint me with what is the reason of these doings." They
replied, "We kept our secret only for thy good: to gratify thee
will bring down evil upon thee and thou wilt become a monocular
even as we are." I repeated "There is no help for it and, if ye
will not, let me leave you and return to mine own people and be
at rest from seeing these things, for the proverb saith:--

Better ye 'bide and I take my leave: * For what eye sees not
heart shall never grieve."

Thereupon they said to me, "Remember, O youth, that should ill
befal thee we will not again harbour thee nor suffer thee to
abide amongst us;" and bringing a ram they slaughtered it and
skinned it. Lastly they gave me a knife saying, "Take this skin
and stretch thyself upon it and we will sew it around thee,
presently there shall come to thee a certain bird, hight
Rukh,[FN#284] that will catch thee up in his pounces and tower
high in air and then set thee down on a mountain. When thou
feelest he is no longer flying, rip open the pelt with this blade
and come out of it; the bird will be scared and will fly away and
leave thee free. After this fare for half a day, and the march
will place thee at a palace wondrous fair to behold, towering
high in air and builded of Khalanj[FN#285], lign-aloes and
sandal-wood, plated with red gold, and studded with all manner
emeralds and costly gems fit for seal rings. Enter it and thou
shalt win to thy wish for we have all entered that palace; and
such is the cause of our losing our eyes and of our blackening
our faces. Were we now to tell thee our stories it would take too
long a time; for each and every of us lost his left eye by an
adventure of his own." I rejoiced at their words and they did
with me as they said; and the bird Rukh bore me off end set me
down on the mountain. Then I came out of the skin and walked on
till I reached the palace. The door stood open as I entered and
found myself in a spacious and goodly hall, wide exceedingly,
even as a horse-course; and around it were an hundred chambers
with doors of sandal and aloes woods plated with red gold and
furnished with silver rings by way of knockers.[FN#286] At the
head or upper end[FN#287] of the hall I saw forty damsels,
sumptuously dressed and ornamented and one and all bright as
moons; none could ever tire of gazing upon them and all so lovely
that the most ascetic devotee on seeing them would become their
slave and obey their will. When they saw me the whole bevy came
up to me and said "Welcome and well come and good cheer[FN#288]
to thee, O our lord! This whole month have we been expecting
thee. Praised be Allah who hath sent us one who is worthy of us,
even as we are worthy of him!" Then they made me sit down upon a
high divan and said to me, "This day thou art our lord and
master, and we are thy servants and thy hand-maids, so order us
as thou wilt." And I marvelled at their case. Presently one of
them arose and set meat before me and I ate and they ate with me;
whilst others warmed water and washed my hands and feet and
changed my clothes and others made ready sherbets and gave us to
drink; and all gathered around me being full of joy and gladness
at my coming. Then they sat down and conversed with me till
nightfall, when five of them arose and laid the trays and spread
them with flowers and fragrant herbs and fruits, fresh and dried,
and confections in profusion. At last they brought out a fine
wine service with rich old wine; and we sat down to drink and
some sang songs and others played the lute and psaltery and
recorders and other instruments, and the bowl went merrily round.
Hereupon such gladness possessed me that I forgot the sorrows of
the world one and all and said, "This is indeed life; O sad that
'tis fleeting!" I enjoyed their company till the time came for
rest; and our heads were all warm with wine, when they said, "O
our lord, choose from amongst us her who shall be thy bed-fellow
this night and not lie with thee again till forty days be past."
So I chose a girl fair of face and perfect in shape, with eyes
Kohl-edged by nature's hand;[FN#289] hair long and jet black with
slightly parted teeth[FN#290] and joining brows: 'twas as if she
were some limber graceful branchlet or the slender stalk of sweet
basil to amaze and to bewilder man's fancy, even as the poet said
of such an one--

To even her with greeny bough were vain * Fool he who finds her
beauties in the roe:
When hath the roe those lively lovely limbs * Or honey dews those
lips alone bestow?
Those eyne, soul piercing eyne, which slay with love, * Which
bind the victim by their shafts laid low?
My heart to second childhood they beguiled * No wonder: love
sick-man again is child!

And I repeated to her the maker's words who said:--

"None other charms but thine shall greet mine eyes, * Nor other
image can my heart surprise:
Thy love, my lady, captives all my thoughts * And on that love
I'll die and I'll arise.

So I lay with her that night; none fairer I ever knew; and, when
it was morning, the damsels carried me to the Hammam bath and
bathed me and robed me in fairest apparel. Then they served up
food, and we ate and drank and the cup went round till nightfall
when I chose from among them one fair of form and face, soft-
sided and a model of grace, such an one as the poet described
when he said.--

On her fair bosom caskets twain I scanned, * Sealed fast with
musk seals lovers to withstand
With arrowy glances stand on guard her eyes, * Whose shafts
would shoot who dares put forth a hand.

With her I spent a most goodly night; and, to be brief, O my
mistress, I remained with them in all solace and delight of life,
eating and drinking, conversing and carousing and every night
lying with one or other of them. But at the head of the new year
they came to me in tears and bade me farewell, weeping and crying
out and clinging about me: whereat I wondered and said, "What may
be the matter? verily you break my heart!" They exclaimed, "Would
Heaven we had never known thee; for, though we have companies
with many, yet never saw we a pleasanter than thou or a more
courteous." And they wept again. "But tell me more clearly,"
asked I, "what causeth this weeping which maketh my
gall-bladder[FN#291] like to burst;" and they answered, "O our
lord and master, it is severance which maketh us weep; and thou,
and thou only, art the cause of our tears. If thou hearken to us
we need never be parted and if thou hearken not we part for ever;
but our hearts tell us that thou wilt not listen to our words and
this is the cause of our tears and cries." "Tell me how the case
standeth?" "Know, O our lord, that we are the daughters of Kings
who have met here and have lived together for years; and once in
every year we are perforce absent for forty days; and afterwards
we return and abide here for the rest of the twelve month eating
and drinking and taking our pleasure and enjoying delights: we
are about to depart according to our custom; and we fear lest
after we be gone thou contraire our charge and disobey our
injunctions. Here now we commit to thee the keys of the palace
which containeth forty chambers and thou mayest open of these
thirty and nine, but beware (and we conjure thee by Allah and by
the lives of us!) lest thou open the fortieth door, for therein
is that which shall separate us for ever."[FN#292] Quoth I,
"Assuredly I will not open it, if it contain the cause of
severance from you." Then one among them came up to me and
falling on my neck wept and recited these verses.--

"If Time unite us after absent while, * The world harsh frowning
on our lot shall smile
And if thy semblance deign adorn mine eyes,[FN#293] * I'll
pardon Time past wrongs and by gone guile."

And I recited the following:--

"When drew she near to bid adieu with heart unstrung, * While
care and longing on that day her bosom wrung
Wet pearls she wept and mine like red carnelians rolled * And,
joined in sad riviere, around her neck they hung."

When I saw her weeping I said, "By Allah I will never open that
fortieth door, never and no wise!" and I bade her farewell.
Thereupon all departed flying away like birds; signalling with
their hands farewells as they went and leaving me alone in the
palace. When evening drew near I opened the door of the first
chamber and entering it found myself in a place like one of the
pleasaunces of Paradise. It was a garden with trees of freshest
green and ripe fruits of yellow sheen; and its birds were singing
clear and keen and rills ran wimpling through the fair terrene.
The sight and sounds brought solace to my sprite; and I walked
among the trees, and I smelt the breath of the flowers on the
breeze; and heard the birdies sing their melodies hymning the
One, the Almighty in sweetest litanies; and I looked upon the
apple whose hue is parcel red and parcel yellow; as said the

Apple whose hue combines in union mellow * My fair's red cheek,
her hapless lover's yellow.

Then I looked upon the quince, and inhaled its fragrance which to
shame musk and ambergris, even as the poet hath said :

Quince every taste conjoins; in her are found * Gifts which for
queen of fruits the Quince have crowned
Her taste is wine, her scent the waft of musk; * Pure gold her
hue, her shape the Moon's fair round.

Then I looked upon the pear whose taste surpasseth sherbet and
sugar; and the apricot[FN#294] whose beauty striketh the eye with
admiration, as if she were a polished ruby. Then I went out of
the place and locked the door as it was before. When it was the
morrow I opened the second door; and entering found myself in a
spacious plain set with tall date palms and watered by a running
stream whose banks were shrubbed with bushes of rose and jasmine,
while privet and eglantine, oxe-eye, violet and lily, narcissus,
origane and the winter gilliflower carpeted the borders; and the
breath of the breeze swept over these sweet smelling growths
diffusing their delicious odours right and left, perfuming the
world and filling my soul with delight. After taking my pleasure
there awhile I went from it and, having closed the door as it was
before, opened the third door wherein I saw a high open hall
pargetted with parti-coloured marbles and pietra dura of price
and other precious stones, and hung with cages of sandal-wood and
eagle-wood; full of birds which made sweet music, such as the
Thousand voiced,[FN#295] and the cushat, the merle, the turtle-
dove and the Nubian ring dove. My heart was filled with pleasure
thereby; my grief was dispelled and I slept in that aviary till
dawn. Then I undocked the door of the fourth chamber and therein
found a grand saloon with forty smaller chambers giving upon it.
All their doors stood open: so I entered and found them full of
pearls and jacinths and beryls and emeralds and corals and car
buncles, and all manner precious gems and jewels, such as tongue
of man may not describe. My thought was stunned at the sight and
I said to myself, "These be things methinks united which could
not be found save in the treasuries of a King of Kings, nor could
the monarchs of the world have collected the like of these!" And
my heart dilated and my sorrows ceased, "For," quoth I, "now
verily am I the monarch of the age, since by Allah's grace this
enormous wealth is mine; and I have forty damsels under my hand
nor is there any to claim them save myself." Then I gave not over
opening place after place until nine and thirty days were passed
and in that time I had entered every chamber except that one
whose door the Princesses had charged me not to open. But my
thoughts, O my mistress, ever ran on that forbidden
fortieth[FN#296] and Satan urged me to open it for my own
undoing; nor had I patience to forbear, albeit there wanted of
the trysting time but a single day. So I stood before the chamber
aforesaid and, after a moment's hesitation, opened the door which
was plated with red gold, and entered. I was met by a perfume
whose like I had never before smelt; and so sharp and subtle was
the odour that it made my senses drunken as with strong wine, and
I fell to the ground in a fainting fit which lasted a full hour.
When I came to myself I strengthened my heart and, entering,
found myself in a chamber whose floor was bespread with saffron
and blazing with light from branched candelabra of gold and lamps
fed with costly oils, which diffused the scent of musk and
ambergris. I saw there also two great censers each big as a
mazer-bowl,[FN#297] flaming with lign-aloes, nadd-
perfume,[FN#298] ambergris and honied scents; and the place was
full of their fragrance. Presently, O my lady, I espied a noble
steed, black as the murks of night when murkiest, standing, ready
saddled and bridled (and his saddle was of red gold) before two
mangers, one of clear crystal wherein was husked sesame, and the
other also of crystal containing water of the rose scented with
musk. When I saw this I marvelled and said to myself, "Doubtless
in this animal must be some wondrous mystery;" and Satan cozened
me, so I led him without the palace end mounted him, but he would
not stir from his place. So I hammered his sides with my heels,
but he moved not, and then I took the rein whip,[FN#299] and
struck him withal. When he felt the blow, he neighed a neigh with
a sound like deafening thunder and, opening a pair of
wings[FN#300] flew up with me in the firmament of heaven far
beyond the eyesight of man. After a full hour of flight he
descended and alighted on a terrace roof and shaking me off his
back lashed me on the face with his tail and gouged out my left
eye causing it roll along my cheek. Then he flew away. I went
down from the terrace and found myself again amongst the ten one
eyed youths sitting upon their ten couches with blue covers; and
they cried out when they saw me, "No welcome to thee, nor aught
of good cheer! We all lived of lives the happiest and we ate and
drank of the best; upon brocades and cloths of gold we took rest
and we slept with our heads on beauty's breast, but we could not
await one day to gain the delights of a year!" Quoth I, "Behold I
have become one like unto you and now I would have you bring me a
tray full of blackness, wherewith to blacken my face, and receive
me into your society." "No, by Allah," quoth they, "thou shalt
not sojourn with us and now get thee hence!" So they drove me
away. Finding them reject me thus I foresaw that matters would go
hard with me, and I remembered the many miseries which Destiny
had written upon my forehead; and I fared forth from among them
heavy hearted and tearful eyed, repeating to myself these words,
"I was sitting at mine ease but my frowardness brought me to
unease." Then I shaved beard and mustachios and eye brows,
renouncing the world, and wandered in Kalandar garb about
Allah's earth; and the Almighty decreed safety for me till I
arrived at Baghdad, which was on the evening of this very night.
Here I met these two other Kalandars standing bewildered; so I
saluted them saying, "I am a stranger!" and they answered, "And
we likewise be strangers!" By the freak of Fortune we were like
to like, three Kalandars and three monoculars all blind of the
left eye. Such, O my lady, is the cause of the shearing of my
beard and the manner of my losing an eye. Said the lady to him,
"Rub thy head and wend thy ways;" but he answered, "By Allah, I
will not go until I hear the stories of these others." Then the
lady, turning towards the Caliph and Ja'afar and Masrur, said to
them, "Do ye also give an account of yourselves, you men!"
Whereupon Ja'afar stood forth and told her what he had told the
portress as they were entering the house; and when she heard his
story of their being merchants and Mosul men who had outrun the
watch, she said, "I grant you your lives each for each sake, and
now away with you all." So they all went out and when they were
in the street, quoth the Caliph to the Kalandars, "O company,
whither go ye now, seeing that the morning hath not yet dawned?"
Quoth they, "By Allah, O our lord, we know not where to go."
"Come and pass the rest of the night with us," said the Caliph
and, turning to Ja'afar, "Take them home with thee and tomorrow
bring them to my presence that we may chronicle their
adventures." Ja'afar did as the Caliph bade him and the Commander
of the Faithful returned to his palace; but sleep gave no sign of
visiting him that night and he lay awake pondering the mishaps of
the three Kalandar princes and impatient to know the history of
the ladies and the two black bitches. No sooner had morning
dawned than he went forth and sat upon the throne of his
sovereignty; and, turning to Ja'afar, after all his Grandees and
Officers of state were gathered together, he said, "Bring me the
three ladies and the two bitches and the three Kalandars." So
Ja'afar fared forth and brought them all before him (and the
ladies were veiled); then the Minister turned to them and said in
the Caliph's name, "We pardon you your maltreatment of us and
your want of courtesy, in consideration of the kindness which
forewent it, and for that ye knew us not: now however I would
have you to know that ye stand in presence of the fifth[FN#301]
of the sons of Abbas, Harun al-Rashid, brother of Caliph Musa al-
Hadi, son of Al-Mansur; son of Mohammed the brother of Al-Saffah
bin Mohammed who was first of the royal house. Speak ye therefore
before him the truth and the whole truth!" When the ladies heard
Ja afar's words touching the Commander of the Faithful, the
eldest came forward and said, "O Prince of True Believers, my
story is one which, were it graven with needle-gravers upon the
eye corners were a warner for whoso would be warned and an
example for whoso can take profit from example."--And Shahrazad
perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Seventeenth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that she stood
forth before the Commander of the Faithful and began to tell

The Eldest Lady's Tale.

Verily a strange tale is mine and 'tis this:--Yon two black
bitches are my eldest sisters by one mother and father; and these
two others, she who beareth upon her the signs of stripes and the
third our procuratrix are my sisters by another mother. When my
father died, each took her share of the heritage and, after a
while my mother also deceased, leaving me and my sisters german
three thousand diners; so each daughter received her portion of a
thousand diners and I the same, albe the youngest. In due course
of time my sisters married with the usual festivities and lived
with their husbands, who bought merchandise with their wives
monies and set out on their travels together. Thus they threw me
off. My brothers in law were absent with their wives five years,
during which period they spent all the money they had and,
becoming bankrupt, deserted my sisters in foreign parts amid
stranger folk. After five years my eldest sister returned to me
in beggar's gear with her clothes in rags and tatters[FN#302] and
a dirty old mantilla;[FN#303] and truly she was in the foulest
and sorriest plight. At first sight I did not know my own sister;
but presently I recognised her and said "What state is this?" "O
our sister," she replied, "Words cannot undo the done; and the
reed of Destiny hath run through what Allah decreed." Then I sent
her to the bath and dressed her in a suit of mine own, and boiled
for her a bouillon and brought her some good wine and said to
her, "O my sister, thou art the eldest, who still standest to us
in the stead of father and mother; and, as for the inheritance
which came to me as to you twain, Allah hath blessed it and
prospered it to me with increase; and my circumstances are easy,
for I have made much money by spinning and cleaning silk; and I
and you will share my wealth alike." I entreated her with all
kindliness and she abode with me a whole year, during which our
thoughts and fancies were always full of our other sister Shortly
after she too came home in yet fouler and sorrier plight than
that of my eldest sister; and I dealt by her still more honorably
than I had done by the first, and each of them had a share of my
substance. After a time they said to me, 'O our sister, we desire
to marry again, for indeed we have not patience to drag on our
days without husbands and to lead the lives of widows bewitched;"
and I replied, "O eyes of me![FN#304] ye have hitherto seen
scanty weal in wedlock, for now-a-days good men and true are
become rarities and curiosities; nor do I deem your projects
advisable, as ye have already made trial of matrimony and have
failed." But they would not accept my advice and married without
my consent: nevertheless I gave them outfit and dowries out of my
money; and they fared forth with their mates. In a mighty little
time their husbands played them false and, taking whatever they
could lay hands upon, levanted and left them in the lurch.
Thereupon they came to me ashamed and in abject case and made
their excuses to me, saying, Pardon our fault and be not wroth
with us;[FN#305] for although thou art younger in years yet art
thou older in wit; henceforth we will never make mention of
marriage; so take us back as thy hand maidens that we may eat our
mouthful." Quoth I, "Welcome to you, O my sisters, there is
naught dearer to me than you." And I took them in and redoubled
my kindness to them. We ceased not to live after this loving
fashion for a full year, when I resolved to sell my wares abroad
and first to fit me a conveyance for Bassorah; so I equipped a
large ship, and loaded her with merchandise and valuable goods
for traffic, and with provaunt and all needful for a voyage, and
said to my sisters, "Will ye abide at home whilst I travel, or
would ye prefer to accompany me on the voyage?" "We will travel
with thee," answered they, "for we cannot bear to be parted from
thee." So I divided my monies into two parts, one to accompany me
and the other to be left in charge of a trusty person, for, as I
said to myself, "Haply some accident may happen to the ship and
yet we remain alive; in which case we shall find on our return
what may stand us in good stead." I took my two sisters and we
went a voyaging some days and nights; but the master was careless
enough to miss his course, and the ship went astray with us and
entered a sea other than the sea we sought. For a time we knew
naught of this; and the wind blew fair for us ten days, after
which the look out man went aloft to see about him and cried,
"Good news!" Then he came down rejoicing and said, "I have seen
what seemeth to be a city as 'twere a pigeon." Hereat we rejoiced
and, ere an hour of the day had passed, the buildings showed
plain in the offing and we asked the Captain, "What is the name
of yonder city?" and he answered By Allah I wot not, for I never
saw it before and never sailed these seas in my life: but, since
our troubles have ended in safety, remains for you only to land
there with your merchandise and, if you find selling profitable,
sell and make your market of what is there; and if not, we will
rest here two days and provision ourselves and fare away." So we
entered the port and the Captain went up town and was absent
awhile, after which he returned to us and said, "Arise; go up
into the city and marvel at the works of Allah with His creatures
and pray to be preserved from His righteous wrath!" So we landed
and going up into the city, saw at the gate men hending staves in
hand; but when we drew near them, behold, they had been
translated[FN#306] by the anger of Allah and had become stones.
Then we entered the city and found all who therein woned into
black stones enstoned: not an inhabited house appeared to the
espier, nor was there a blower of fire.[FN#307] We were awe
struck at the sight and threaded the market streets where we
found the goods and gold and silver left lying in their places;
and we were glad and said, "Doubtless there is some mystery in
all this." Then we dispersed about the thorough-fares and each
busied himself with collecting the wealth and money and rich
stuffs, taking scanty heed of friend or comrade. As for myself I
went up to the castle which was strongly fortified; and, entering
the King's palace by its gate of red gold, found all the vaiselle
of gold and silver, and the King himself seated in the midst of
his Chamberlains and Nabobs and Emirs and Wazirs; all clad in
raiment which confounded man's art. I drew nearer and saw him
sitting on a throne incrusted and inlaid with pearls and gems;
and his robes were of gold-cloth adorned with jewels of every
kind, each one flashing like a star. Around him stood fifty
Mamelukes, white slaves, clothed in silks of divers sorts holding
their drawn swords in their hands; but when I drew near to them
lo! all were black stones. My understanding was confounded at the
sight, but I walked on and entered the great hall of the
Harim,[FN#308] whose walls I found hung with tapestries of gold
striped silk and spread with silken carpets embroidered with
golden cowers. Here I saw the Queen lying at full length arrayed
in robes purfled with fresh young[FN#309] pearls; on her head was
a diadem set with many sorts of gems each fit for a ring[FN#310]
and around her neck hung collars and necklaces. All her raiment
and her ornaments were in natural state but she had been turned
into a black stone by Allah's wrath. Presently I espied an open
door for which I made straight and found leading to it a flight
of seven steps. So I walked up and came upon a place pargetted
with marble and spread and hung with gold-worked carpets and
tapestry, amiddlemostof which stood a throne of juniper wood
inlaid with pearls and precious stones and set with bosses of
emeralds. In the further wall was an alcove whose curtains,
bestrung with pearls, were let down and I saw a light issuing
therefrom; so I drew near and perceived that the light came from
a precious stone as big as an ostrich egg, set at the upper end
of the alcove upon a little chryselephantine couch of ivory and
gold; and this jewel, blazing like the sun, cast its rays wide
and side. The couch also was spread with all manner of silken
stuffs amazing the gazer with their richness and beauty. I
marvelled much at all this, especially when seeing in that place
candles ready lighted; and I said in my mind, "Needs must some
one have lighted these candles." Then I went forth and came to
the kitchen and thence to the buttery and the King's treasure
chambers; and continued to explore the palace and to pace from
place to place; I forgot myself in my awe and marvel at these
matters and I was drowned in thought till the night came on. Then
I would have gone forth, but knowing not the gate I lost my way,
so I returned to the alcove whither the lighted candles directed
me and sat down upon the couch; and wrapping myself in a
coverlet, after I had repeated somewhat from the Koran, I would
have slept but could not, for restlessness possessed me. When
night was at its noon I heard a voice chanting the Koran in
sweetest accents; but the tone thereof was weak; so I rose, glad
to hear the silence broken, and followed the sound until I
reached a closet whose door stood ajar. Then peeping through a
chink I considered the place and lo! it was an oratory wherein
was a prayer niche[FN#311] with two wax candles burning and lamps
hanging from the ceiling. In it too was spread a prayer carpet
whereupon sat a youth fair to see; and before him on its
stand[FN#312] was a copy of the Koran, from which he was reading.
I marvelled to see him alone alive amongst the people of the city
and entering saluted him; whereupon he raised his eyes and
returned my salam. Quoth I, "Now by the Truth of what thou
readest in Allah's Holy Book, I conjure thee to answer my
question." He looked upon me with a smile and said, "O handmaid
of Allah, first tell me the cause of thy coming hither, and I in
turn will tell what hath befallen both me and the people of this
city, and what was the reason of my escaping their doom." So I
told him my story whereat he wondered; and I questioned him of
the people of the city, when he replied, "Have patience with me
for a while, O my sister!" and, reverently closing the Holy Book,
he laid it up in a satin bag. Then he seated me by his side; and
I looked at him and behold, he was as the moon at its full, fair
of face and rare of form, soft sided and slight, of well
proportioned height, and cheek smoothly bright and diffusing
light; in brief a sweet, a sugar stick,[FN#313]. even as saith
the poet of the like of him in these couplets:--

That night th' astrologer a scheme of planets drew, * And lo! a
graceful shape of youth appeared in view:
Saturn had stained his locks with Saturninest jet, * And spots of
nut brown musk on rosy side face blew:[FN#314]
Mars tinctured either cheek with tinct of martial red; * Sagittal
shots from eyelids Sagittarius threw:
Dowered him Mercury with bright mercurial wit; * Bore off the
Bear[FN#315] what all man's evil glances grew:
Amazed stood Astrophil to sight the marvel birth * When louted
low the Moon at full to buss the Earth.

And of a truth Allah the Most High had robed him in the raiment
of perfect grace and had purfled and fringed it with a cheek all
beauty and loveliness, even as the poet saith of such an one:--

By his eyelids shedding perfume and his fine slim waist I swear,
* By the shooting of his shafts barbed with sorcery passing
By the softness of his sides,[FN#316] and glances' lingering
light, * And brow of dazzling day-tide ray and night within
his hair;
By his eyebrows which deny to who look upon them rest, * Now
bidding now forbidding, ever dealing joy and care;
By the rose that decks his cheek, and the myrtle of its
moss,[FN#317] * By jacinths bedded in his lips and pearl his
smile lays bare;
By his graceful bending neck and the curving of his breast, *
Whose polished surface beareth those granados, lovely pair;
By his heavy hips that quiver as he passeth in his pride, * Or he
resteth with that waist which is slim beyond compare;
By the satin of his skin, by that fine unsullied sprite; * By the
beauty that containeth all things bright and debonnair;
By that ever open hand; by the candour of his tongue; * By noble
blood and high degree whereof he's hope and heir;
Musk from him borrows muskiness she loveth to exhale * And all
the airs of ambergris through him perfume the air;
The sun, methinks, the broad bright sun, before my love would
pale * And sans his splendour would appear a paring of his

I glanced at him with one glance of eyes which caused me a
thousand sighs; and my heart was at once taken captive wise, so I
asked him, "O my lord and my love, tell me that whereof I
questioned thee;" and he answered, "Hearing is obeying! Know O
handmaid of Allah, that this city was the capital of my father
who is the King thou sawest on the throne transfigured by Allah's
wrath to a black stone, and the Queen thou foundest in the alcove
is my mother. They and all the people of the city were Magians
who fire adored in lieu of the Omnipotent Lord[FN#319] and were
wont to swear by lowe and heat and shade and light and the
spheres revolving day and night. My father had ne'er a son till
he was blest with me near the last of his days; and he reared me
till I grew up and prosperity anticipated me in all things. Now
it so fortuned that there was with us an old woman well stricken
in years, a Moslemah who, inwardly believing in Allah and His
Apostle, conformed outwardly with the religion of my people; and
my father placed thorough confidence in her for that he knew her
to be trustworthy and virtuous; and he treated her with ever
increasing kindness believing her to be of his own belief. So
when I was well nigh grown up my father committed me to her
charge saying:--Take him and educate him and teach him the rules
of our faith; let him have the best in structions and cease not
thy fostering care of him. So she took me and taught me the
tenets of Al-Islam with the divine ordinances[FN#320] of the Wuzu
ablution and the five daily prayers and she made me learn the
Koran by rote, often repeating:--Serve none save Allah Almighty!
When I had mastered this much of knowledge she said to me:--O my
son, keep this matter concealed from thy sire and reveal naught
to him lest he slay thee. So I hid it from him and I abode on
this wise for a term of days when the old woman died, and the
people of the city redoubled in their impiety[FN#321] and
arrogance and the error of their ways. One day, while they were
as wont, behold, they heard a loud and terrible sound and a crier
crying out with a voice like roaring thunder so every ear could
hear, far and near, "O folk of this city, leave ye your fire
worshipping and adore Allah the All-compassionate King!" At this,
fear and terror fell upon the citizens and they crowded to my
father (he being King of the city) and asked him, "What is this
awesome voice we have heard, for it hath confounded us with the
excess of its terror?" and he answered, "Let not a voice fright
you nor shake your steadfast sprite nor turn you back from the
faith which is right." Their hearts inclined to his words and
they ceased not to worship the fire and they persisted in
rebellion for a full year from the time they heard the first
voice; and on the anniversary came a second cry, and a third at
the head of the third year, each year once Still they persisted
in their malpractises till one day at break of dawn, judgment and
the wrath of Heaven descended upon them with all suddenness, and
by the visitation of Allah all were metamorphosed into black
stones,[FN#322] they and their beasts and their cattle; and none
was saved save myself who at the time was engaged in my
devotions. From that day to this I am in the case thou seest,
constant in prayer and fasting and reading and reciting the
Koran; but I am indeed grown weary by reason of my loneliness,
having none to bear me company." Then said I to him (for in very
sooth he had won my heart and was the lord of my life and soul),
"O youth, wilt thou fare with me to Baghdad city and visit the
Olema and men learned in the law and doctors of divinity and get
thee increase of wisdom and understanding and theology? And know
that she who standeth in thy presence will be thy handmaid,
albeit she be head of her family and mistress over men and
eunuchs and servants and slaves Indeed my life was no life before
it fell in with thy youth. I have here a ship laden with
merchandise; and in very truth Destiny drove me to this city that
I might come to the knowledge of these matters, for it was fated
that we should meet." And I ceased not to persuade him and speak
him fair and use every art till he consented.--And Shahrazad
perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Eighteenth Night,

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the
lady ceased not persuading with soft speech the youth to depart
with her till he consented and said "Yes." She slept that night
lying at his feet and hardly knowing where she was for excess of
joy. As soon as the next morning dawned (she pursued, addressing
the Caliph), I arose and we entered the treasuries and took
thence whatever was light in weight and great in worth; then we
went down side by side from the castle to the city, where we were
met by the Captain and my sisters and slaves who had been seeking
for me. When they saw me they rejoiced and asked what had stayed
me, and I told them all I had seen and related to them the story
of the young Prince and the transformation wherewith the citizens
had been justly visited. Hereat all marvelled, but when my two
sisters (these two bitches, O Commander of the Faithful!) saw me
by the side of my young lover they jaloused me on his account and
were wroth and plotted mischief against me. We awaited a fair
wind and went on board rejoicing and ready to fly for joy by
reason of the goods we had gotten, but my own greatest joyance
was in the youth; and we waited awhile till the wind blew fair for
us and then we set sail and fared forth. Now as we sat talking,
my sisters asked me, "And what wilt thou do with this handsome
young man?"; and I answered, "I purpose to make him my husband!"
Then I turned to him and said, "O my lord, I have that to propose
to thee wherein thou must not cross me; and this it is that, when
we reach Baghdad, my native city, I offer thee my life as thy
handmaiden in holy matrimony, and thou shalt be to me baron and I
will be femme to thee." He answered, "I hear and I obey!; thou
art my lady and my mistress and whatso thou doest I will not
gainsay." Then I turned to my sisters and said, "This is my gain;
I content me with this youth and those who have gotten aught of
my property let them keep it as their gain with my good will."
"Thou sayest and doest well," answered the twain, but they
imagined mischief against me. We ceased not spooning before a
fair wind till we had exchanged the sea of peril for the seas of
safety and, in a few days, we made Bassorah city, whose buildings
loomed clear before us as evening fell. But after we had retired
to rest and were sound alseep, my two sisters arose and took me
up, bed and all, and threw me into the sea: they did the same
with the young Prince who, as he could not swim, sank and was
drowned and Allah enrolled him in the noble army of
Martyrs.[FN#323] As for me would Heaven I had been drowned with
him, but Allah deemed that I should be of the saved; so when I
awoke and found myself in the sea and saw the ship making off
like a dash of lightning, He threw in my way a piece of timber
which I bestrided, and the waves tossed me to and fro till they
cast me upon an island coast, a high land and an uninhabited. I
landed and walked about the island the rest of the night and,
when morning dawned, I saw a rough track barely fit for child of
Adam to tread, leading to what proved a shallow ford connecting
island and mainland. As soon as the sun had risen I spread my
garments to dry in its rays; and ate of the fruits of the island
and drank of its waters; then I set out along the foot track and
ceased not walking till I reached the mainland. Now when there
remained between me and the city but a two hours' journey behold,
a great serpent, the bigness of a date palm, came fleeing towards
me in all haste, gliding along now to the right then to the left
till she was close upon me, whilst her tongue lolled ground wards
a span long and swept the dust as she went. She was pursued by a
Dragon[FN#324] who was not longer than two lances, and of slender
build about the bulk of a spear and, although her terror lent her
speed, and she kept wriggling from side to side, he overtook her
and seized her by the tail, whereat her tears streamed down and
her tongue was thrust out in her agony. I took pity on her and,
picking up a stone and calling upon Allah for aid, threw it at
the Dragon's head with such force that he died then and there;
and the serpent opening a pair of wings flew into the lift and
disappeared from before my eyes. I sat down marvelling over that
adventure, but I was weary and, drowsiness overcoming me, I slept
where I was for a while. When I awoke I found a jet black damsel
sitting at my feet shampooing them; and by her side stood two
black bitches (my sisters, O Commander of the Faithful!). I was
ashamed before her[FN#325] and, sitting up, asked her, "O my
sister, who and what art thou?"; and she answered, "How soon hast
thou forgotten me! I am she for whom thou wroughtest a good deed
and sowedest the seed of gratitude and slewest her foe; for I am
the serpent whom by Allah's aidance thou didst just now deliver
from the Dragon. I am a Jinniyah and he was a Jinn who hated me,
and none saved my life from him save thou. As soon as thou
freedest me from him I flew on the wind to the ship whence thy
sisters threw thee, and removed all that was therein to thy
house. Then I ordered my attendant Marids to sink the ship and I
transformed thy two sisters into these black bitches; for I know
all that hath passed between them and thee; but as for the youth,
of a truth he is drowned." So saying, she flew up with me and the
bitches, and presently set us down on the terrace roof of my
house, wherein I found ready stored the whole of what property
was in my ship, nor was aught of it missing. "Now (continued the
serpent that was), I swear by all engraver on the seal-ring of
Solomon[FN#326] (with whom be peace!) unless thou deal to each of
these bitches three hundred stripes every day I will come and
imprison thee forever under the earth." I answered, "Hearkening
and obedience!"; and away she flew. But before going she again
charged me saying, "I again swear by Him who made the two seas
flow[FN#327] (and this be my second oath) if thou gainsay me I
will come and transform thee like thy sisters." Since then I have
never failed, O Commander of the Faithful, to beat them with that
number of blows till their blood flows with my tears, I pitying
them the while, and well they wot that their being scourged is no
fault of mine and they accept my excuses. And this is my tale and
my history! The Caliph marvelled at her adventures and then
signed to Ja'afar who said to the second lady, the Portress, "And
thou, how camest thou by the welts and wheels upon thy body?" So
she began the

Tale of the Portress.

Know, O Commander of the Faithful, that I had a father who, after
fulfilling his time, deceased and left me great store of wealth.
I remained single for a short time and presently married one of
the richest of his day. I abode with him a year when he also
died, and my share of his property amounted to eighty thousand
diners in gold according to the holy law of inheritance.[FN#328]
Thus I became passing rich an my reputation spread far and wide,
for I had made me ten changes of raiment, each worth a thousand
diners One day as I was sitting at home, behold, there came in to
me an old woman[FN#329] with lantern jaws and cheeks sucked in,
and eyes rucked up, and eyebrows scant and scald, and head bare
and bald; and teeth broken by time and mauled, and back bending
and neck nape nodding, and face blotched, and rheum running, and
hair like a snake black and white speckled, in complexion a very
fright, even as saith the poet of the like of her:--

Ill-omened hag! unshriven be her sins * Nor mercy visit her on
dying bed:
Thousand head strongest he mules would her guiles, * Despite
their bolting lead with spider thread.

And as saith another:--

A hag to whom th' unlawful lawfullest * And witchcraft wisdom in
her sight are grown:
A mischief making brat, a demon maid, * A whorish woman and a
pimping crone.[FN#330]

When the old woman entered she salamed to me and kissing the
ground before me, said, "I have at home an orphan daughter and
this night are her wedding and her displaying.[FN#331] We be poor
folks and strangers in this city knowing none inhabitant and we
are broken hearted. So do thou earn for thyself a recompense and
a reward in Heaven by being present at her displaying and, when
the ladies of this city shall hear that thou art to make act of
presence, they also will present themselves; so shalt thou
comfort her affliction, for she is sore bruised in spirit and she
hath none to look to save Allah the Most High." Then she wept and
kissed my feet reciting these couplets:--

"Thy presence bringeth us a grace * We own before thy winsome
And wert thou absent ne'er an one * Could stand in stead or take
thy place."

So pity get hold on me and compassion and I said, "Hearing is
consenting and, please Allah, I will do somewhat more for her;
nor shall she be shown to her bridegroom save in my raiment and
ornaments and jewelry." At this the old woman rejoiced and bowed
her head to my feet and kissed them, saying, "Allah requite thee
weal, and comfort thy heart even as thou hast comforted mine!
But, O my lady, do not trouble thyself to do me this service at
this hour; be thou ready by supper time,[FN#332] when I will come
and fetch thee." So saying she kissed my hand and went her ways.
I set about stringing my pearls and donning my brocades and
making my toilette, Little recking what Fortune had in womb for
me, when suddenly the old woman stood before me, simpering and
smiling till she showed every tooth stump, and quoth she, "O my
mistress, the city madams have arrived and when I apprized them
that thou promisedst to be present, they were glad and they are
now awaiting thee and looking eagerly for thy coming and for the
honour of meeting thee." So I threw on my mantilla and, making
the old crone walk before me and my handmaidens behind me, I
fared till we came to a street well watered and swept neat, where
the winnowing breeze blew cool and sweet. Here we were stopped by
a gate arched over with a dome of marble stone firmly seated on
solidest foundation, and leading to a Palace whose walls from
earth rose tall and proud, and whose pinnacle was crowned by the
clouds,[FN#333] and over the doorway were writ these couplets:--

I am the wone where Mirth shall ever smile; * The home of
Joyance through my lasting while:
And 'mid my court a fountain jets and flows, * Nor tears nor
troubles shall that fount defile:
The merge with royal Nu'uman's[FN#334] bloom is dight, *
Myrtle, Narcissus-flower and Chamomile.

Arrived at the gate, before which hung a black curtain, the old
woman knocked and it was opened to us; when we entered and found
a vestibule spread with carpets and hung around with lamps all
alight and wax candles in candelabra adorned with pendants of
precious gems and noble ores. We passed on through this passage
till we entered a saloon, whose like for grandeur and beauty is
not to be found in this world. It was hung and carpeted with
silken stuffs, and was illuminated with branches sconces and
tapers ranged in double row, an avenue abutting on the upper or
noble end of the saloon, where stood a couch of juniper wood
encrusted with pearls and gems and surmounted by a baldaquin with
mosquito curtains of satin looped up with margaritas. And hardly
had we taken note of this when there came forth from the
baldaquin a young lady and I looked, O Commander of the Faithful,
upon a face and form more perfect than the moon when fullest,
with a favour brighter than the dawn gleaming with saffron-hued
light, even as the poet sang when he said--

Thou pacest the palace a marvel sight, * A bride for a Kisra's or
Kaisar's night!
Wantons the rose on thy roseate cheek, * O cheek as the blood of
the dragon[FN#335] bright!
Slim waisted, languorous, sleepy eyed, * With charms which
promise all love
And the tire which attires thy tiara'd brow * Is a night of woe
on a morn's glad light.

The fair young girl came down from the estrade and said to me,
"Welcome and well come and good cheer to my sister, the dearly
beloved, the illustrious, and a thousand greetings!" Then she
recited these couplets:--

"An but the house could know who cometh 'twould rejoice, * And
kiss the very dust whereon thy foot was placed
And with the tongue of circumstance the walls would say, *
"Welcome and hail to one with generous gifts engraced!"

Then sat she down and said to me, "O my sister, I have a brother
who hath had sight of thee at sundry wedding feasts and festive
seasons: he is a youth handsomer than I, and he hath fallen
desperately in love with thee, for that bounteous Destiny hath
garnered in thee all beauty and perfection; and he hath given
silver to this old woman that she might visit thee; and she hath
contrived on this wise to foregather us twain. He hath heard that
thou art one of the nobles of thy tribe nor is he aught less in
his; and, being desirous to ally his lot with thy lot, he hath
practiced this device to bring me in company with thee; for he is
fain to marry thee after the ordinance of Allah and his Apostle;
and in what is lawful and right there is no shame." When I heard
these words and saw myself fairly entrapped in the house, I said,
"Hearing is consenting." She was delighted at this and clapped
her hands;[FN#336] whereupon a door opened and out of it came a
young man blooming in the prime of life, exquisitely dressed, a
model of beauty and loveliness and symmetry and perfect grace,
with gentle winning manners and eyebrows like a bended bow and
shaft on cord, and eyes which bewitched all hearts with sorcery
lawful in the sight of the Lord; even as saith some rhymer
describing the like of him:--

His face as the face of the young moon shines * And Fortune
stamps him with pearls for signs.[FN#337]

And Allah favour him who said:--

Blest be his beauty; blest the Lord's decree * Who cast and
shaped a thing so bright of blee:
All gifts of beauty he conjoins in one; * Lost in his love is all
For Beauty's self inscribed on his brow * "I testify there be no
Good but he!"[FN#338]

When I looked at him my heart inclined to him and I loved him;
and he sat by my side and talked with me a while, when the young
lady again clapped her hands and behold, a side door opened and
out of it came the Kazi with his four assessors as witnesses; and
they saluted us and, sitting down, drew up and wrote out the
marriage contract between me and the youth and retired. Then he
turned to me and said, "Be our night blessed," presently adding,
"O my lady, I have a condition to lay on thee." Quoth I, "O my
lord, what is that?" Whereupon he arose and fetching a copy of
the Holy Book presented it to me saying "Swear hereon thou wilt
never look at any other than myself nor incline thy body or thy
heart to him." I swore readily enough to this and he joyed with
exceeding joy and embraced me round the neck while love for him
possessed my whole heart. Then they set the table[FN#339] before
us and we ate and drank till we were satisfied, but I was dying
for the coming of the night. And when night did come he led me to
the bride chamber and slept with me on the bed and continued to
kiss and embrace me till the morning--such a night I had never
seen in my dreams. I lived with him a life of happiness and
delight for a full month, at the end of which I asked his
leave[FN#340] to go on foot to the bazar and buy me certain
especial stuffs and he gave me permission. So I donned my
mantilla and, taking with me the old woman and a
slave-girl,[FN#341] I went to the khan of the silk-mercers, where
I seated myself in the shop front of a young merchant whom the
old woman recommended, saying to me, "This youth's father died
when he was a boy and left him great store of wealth: he hath by
him a mighty fine[FN#342] stock of goods and thou wilt find what
thou seekest with him, for none in the bazar hath better stuffs
than he. Then she said to him, "Show this lady the most costly
stuffs thou hast by thee;" and he replied, "Hearkening and
obedience!" Then she whispered me, "Say a civil word to him!";
but I replied, "I am pledged to address no man save my lord. And
as she began to sound his praise I said sharply to her, We want
nought of thy sweet speeches; our wish is to buy of him
whatsoever we need, and return home." So he brought me all I
sought and I offered him his money, but he refused to take it
saying, "Let it be a gift offered to my guest this day!" Then
quoth I to the old woman, "If he will not take the money, give
him back his stuff." "By Allah," cried he, "not a thing will I
take from thee: I sell it not for gold or for silver, but I give
it all as a gift for a single kiss; a kiss more precious to me
than everything the shop containeth." Asked the old woman, "What
will the kiss profit thee?"; and, turning to me, whispered, "O my
daughter, thou hearest what this young fellow saith? What harm
will it do thee if he get a kiss from thee and thou gettest what
thou seekest at that price?" Replied I, "I take refuge with Allah
from such action! Knowest thou not that I am bound by an
oath?''[FN#343] But she answered, "Now whist! just let him kiss
thee and neither speak to him nor lean over him, so shalt thou
keep thine oath and thy silver, and no harm whatever shall befal
thee." And she ceased not to persuade me and importune me and
make light of the matter till evil entered into my mind and I put
my head in the poke[FN#344] and, declaring I would ne'er consent,
consented. So I veiled my eyes and held up the edge of my
mantilla between me and the people passing and he put his mouth
to my cheek under the veil. But while kissing me he bit me so
hard a bite that it tore the flesh from my cheek,[FN#345] and
blood flowed fast and faintness came over me. The old woman
caught me in her arms and, when I came to myself, I found the
shop shut up and her sorrowing over me and saying, "Thank Allah
for averting what might have been worse!" Then she said to me,
"Come, take heart and let us go home before the matter become
public and thou be dishonoured. And when thou art safe inside the
house feign sickness and lie down and cover thyself up; and I
will bring thee powders and plasters to cure this bite withal,
and thy wound will be healed at the latest in three days." So
after a while I arose and I was in extreme distress and terror
came full upon me; but I went on little by little till I reached
the house when I pleaded illness and lay me down. When it was
night my husband came in to me and said, "What hath befallen
thee, O my darling, in this excursion of thine?"; and I replied,
"I am not well: my head acheth badly." Then he lighted a candle
and drew near me and looked hard at me and asked, "What is that
wound I see on thy cheek and in the tenderest part too?" And I
answered, When I went out to day with thy leave to buy stuffs, a
camel laden with firewood jostled me and one of the pieces tore
my veil and wounded my cheek as thou seest; for indeed the ways
of this city are strait." "Tomorrow," cried he, "I will go
complain to the Governor, so shall he gibbet every fuel seller in
Baghdad." "Allah upon thee," said I, "burden not thy soul with
such sin against any man. The fact is I was riding on an ass and
it stumbled, throwing me to the ground; and my cheek lighted upon
a stick or a bit of glass and got this wound." "Then," said he,
"tomorrow I will go up to Ja'afar the Barmaki and tell him the
story, so shall he kill every donkey boy in Baghdad." "Wouldst
thou destroy all these men because of my wound," said I, "when
this which befel me was by decree of Allah and His destiny?" But
he answered, "There is no help for it;" and, springing to his
feet, plied me with words and pressed me till I was perplexed and
frightened; and I stuttered and stammered and my speech waxed
thick and I said, "This is a mere accident by decree of Allah."
Then, O Commander of the Faithful, he guessed my case and said,
"Thou hast been false to thine oath." He at once cried out with a
loud cry, whereupon a door opened and in came seven black slaves
whom he commanded to drag me from my bed and throw me down in the
middle of the room. Furthermore, he ordered one of them to pinion
my elbows and squat upon my head; and a second to sit upon my
knees and secure my feet; and drawing his sword he gave it to a
third and said, "Strike her, O Sa'ad, and cut her in twain and
let each one take half and cast it into the Tigris[FN#346] that
the fish may eat her; for such is the retribution due to those
who violate their vows and are unfaithful to their love." And he
redoubled in wrath and recited these couplets:--

"An there be one who shares with me her love, * I'd strangle Love
tho' life by Love were slain
Saying, O Soul, Death were the nobler choice, * For ill is Love
when shared 'twixt partners twain."

Then he repeated to the slave, "Smite her, O Sa'ad!" And when the
slave who was sitting upon me made sure of the command he bent
down to me and said, "O my mistress, repeat the profession of
Faith and bethink thee if there be any thing thou wouldst have
done; for verily this is the last hour of thy life." "O good
slave," said I, "wait but a little while and get off my head that
I may charge thee with my last injunctions." Then I raised my
head and saw the state I was in, how I had fallen from high
degree into lowest disgrace; and into death after life (and such
life!) and how I had brought my punishment on myself by my own
sin; where upon the tears streamed from mine eyes and I wept with
exceed ing weeping. But he looked on me with eyes of wrath, and
began repeating:--

"Tell her who turneth from our love to work it injury sore, * And
taketh her a fine new love the old love tossing o'er:
We cry enough o' thee ere thou enough of us shalt cry! * What
past between us cloth suffice and haply something

When I heard this, O Commander of the Faithful, I wept and looked
at him and began repeating these couplets:--

"To severance you doom my love and all unmoved remain; * My
tear sore lids you sleepless make and sleep while I
You make firm friendship reign between mine eyes and
insomny; * Yet can my heart forget you not, nor tears can I
You made me swear with many an oath my troth to hold for aye; *
But when you reigned my bosom's lord you wrought me traitor
I loved you like a silly child who wots not what is Love; * Then
spare the learner, let her not be by the master slain!
By Allah's name I pray you write, when I am dead and gone, *
Upon my tomb, This died of Love whose senses Love had ta'en:
Then haply one shall pass that way who fire of Love hath felt, *
And treading on a lover's heart with ruth and woe shall

When I ended my verses tears came again; but the poetry and the
weeping only added fury to his fury, and he recited:--

"'Twas not satiety bade me leave the dearling of my soul, * But
that she sinned a mortal sin which clips me in its clip:
She sought to let another share the love between us twain, * But
my True Faith of Unity refuseth partnership."[FN#348]

When he ceased reciting I wept again and prayed his pardon and
humbled myself before him and spoke him softly, saying to myself,
"I will work on him with words; so haply he will refrain from
slaying me, even though he take all I have." So I complained of
my sufferings and began to repeat these couplets:--

"Now, by thy life and wert thou just my life thou hadst not
ta'en, * But who can break the severance law which parteth
lovers twain!
Thou loadest me with heavy weight of longing love, when I * Can
hardly bear my chemisette for weakness and for pain:
I marvel not to see my life and soul in ruin lain: * I marvel
much to see my frame such severance pangs sustain."

When I ended my verse I wept again; and he looked at me and
reviled me in abusive language,[FN#349] repeating these

"Thou wast all taken up with love of other man, not me; * 'Twas
thine to show me severance face, ''twas only mine to see:
I'll leave thee for that first thou wert of me to take thy leave
* And patient bear that parting blow thou borest so
E'en as thou soughtest other love, so other love I'll seek, * And
make the crime of murdering love thine own atrocity."

When he had ended his verses he again cried out to the slave,
"Cut her in half and free us from her, for we have no profit of
her. So the slave drew near me, O Commander of the Faithful and I
ceased bandying verses and made sure of death and, despairing of
life, committed my affairs to Almighty Allah, when behold, the
old woman rushed in and threw herself at my husband's feet and
kissed them and wept and said, "O my son, by the rights of my
fosterage and by my long service to thee, I conjure thee pardon
this young lady, for indeed she hath done nothing deserving such
doom. Thou art a very young man and I fear lest her death be laid
at thy door; for it is said:--Whoso slayeth shall be slain. As
for this wanton (since thou deemest her such) drive her out from
thy doors, from thy love and from thy heart." And she ceased not
to weep and importune him till he relented and said, 'I pardon
her, but needs must I set on her my mark which shall show upon
her all my life." Then he bade the slaves drag me along the
ground and lay me out at full length, after stripping me of all
my clothes;[FN#350] and when the slaves had so sat upon me that I
could not move, he fetched in a rod of quince tree and came down
with it upon my body, and continued beating me on the back and
sides till I lost consciousness from excess of pain, and I
despaired of life. Then he commanded the slaves to take me away
as soon as it was dark, together with the old woman to show them
the way and throw me upon the floor of the house wherein I dwelt
before my marriage. They did their lord's bidding and cast me
down in my old home and went their ways. I did not revive from my
swoon till dawn appeared, when I applied myself to the dressing
of my wounds with ointments and other medicaments; and I
medicined myself, but my sides and ribs still showed signs of the
rod as thou hast seen. I lay in weakly case and confined to my
bed for four months before I was able to rise and health returned
to me. At the end of that time I went to the house where all this
had happened and found it a ruin; the street had been pulled down
endlong and rubbish heaps rose where the building erst was; nor
could I learn how this had come about. Then I betook myself to
this my sister on my father's side and found her with these two
black bitches. I saluted her and told her what had betided me and
the whole of my story and she said, "O my sister, who is safe
from the despite of Time and secure? Thanks be to Allah who has
brought thee off safely;" and she began to say:--

"Such is the World, so bear a patient heart * When riches leave
thee and when friends depart!"

Then she told me her own story, and what had happened to her with
her two sisters and how matters had ended; so we abode together
and the subject of marriage was never on our tongues for all
these years. After a while we were joined by our other sister,
the procuratrix, who goeth out every morning and buyeth all we
require for the day and night; and we continued in such condition
till this last night. In the morning our sister went out, as
usual, to make her market and then befel us what befel from
bringing the Porter into the house and admitting these three
Kalandar men., We entreated them kindly and honourably and a
quarter of the night had not passed ere three grave and
respectable merchants from Mosul joined us and told us their
adventures. We sat talking with them but on one condition which
they violated, whereupon we treated them as sorted with their
breach of promise, and made them repeat the account they had
given of themselves. They did our bidding and we forgave their
offence; so they departed from us and this morning we were
unexpectedly summoned to thy presence. And such is our story! The
Caliph wondered at her words and bade the tale be recorded and
chronicled and laid up in his muniment-chambers.--And Shahrazad
perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Nineteenth Night,

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the
Caliph commanded this story and those of the sister and the
Kalandars to be recorded in the archives and be set in the royal
muniment-chambers. Then he asked the eldest lady, the mistress of
the house, "Knowest thou the whereabouts of the Ifritah who
spelled thy sisters?"; and she answered, "O Commander of the
Faithful, she gave me a ringlet of her hair saying: --Whenas thou
wouldest see me, burn a couple of these hairs and I will be with
thee forthright, even though I were beyond Caucasus-mountain."
Quoth the Caliph, "Bring me hither the hair." So she brought it
and he threw the whole lock upon the fire As soon as the odour of
the burning hair dispread itself, the palace shook and trembled,
and all present heard a rumbling and rolling of thunder and a
noise as of wings and lo! the Jinniyah who had been a serpent
stood in the Caliph's presence. Now she was a Moslemah, so she
saluted him and said, "Peace be with thee O Vicar[FN#351] of
Allah;" whereto he replied, "And with thee also be peace and the
mercy of Allah and His blessing." Then she continued, "Know that
this damsel sowed for me the seed of kindness, wherefor I cannot
enough requite her, in that she delivered me from death and
destroyed mine enemy. Now I had seen how her sisters dealt with
her and felt myself bound to avenge her on them. At first I was
minded to slay them, but I feared it would be grievous to her, so
I transformed them to bitches; but if thou desire their release,
O Commander of the Faithful, I will release them to pleasure thee
and her for I am of the Moslems." Quoth the Caliph, "Release them
and after we will look into the affair of the beaten lady and
consider her case carefully; and if the truth of her story be
evidenced I will exact retaliation[FN#352] from him who wronged
her." Said the Ifritah, "O Commander of the Faithful, I will
forthwith release them and will discover to thee the man who did
that deed by this lady and wronged her and took her property, and
he is the nearest of all men to thee!" So saying she took a cup
of water and muttered a spell over it and uttered words there was
no understanding; then she sprinkled some of the water over the
faces of the two bitches, saying, "Return to your former human
shape!" whereupon they were restored to their natural forms and
fell to praising their Creator. Then said the Ifritah, "O
Commander of the Faithful, of a truth he who scourged this lady
with rods is thy son Al-Amin brother of Al-Maamun ;[FN#353] for
he had heard of her beauty and love liness and he played a
lover's stratagem with her and married her according to the law
and committed the crime (such as it is) of scourging her. Yet
indeed he is not to be blamed for beating her, for he laid a
condition on her and swore her by a solemn oath not to do a
certain thing; however, she was false to her vow and he was
minded to put her to death, but he feared Almighty Allah and
contented himself with scourging her, as thou hast seen, and with
sending her back to her own place. Such is the story of the
second lady and the Lord knoweth all." When the Caliph heard
these words of the Ifritah, and knew who had beaten the damsel,
he marvelled with mighty marvel and said, "Praise be to Allah,
the Most High, the Almighty, who hath shown his exceeding mercy
towards me, enabling me to deliver these two damsels from sorcery
and torture, and vouchsafing to let me know the secret of this
lady's history! And now by Allah, we will do a deed which shall
be recorded of us after we are no more." Then he summoned his son
Al-Amin and questioned him of the story of the second lady, the
portress; and he told it in the face of truth; whereupon the
Caliph bade call into presence the Kazis and their witnesses and
the three Kalandars and the first lady with her sisters german
who had been ensorcelled; and he married the three to the three
Kalandars whom he knew to be princes and sons of Kings and he
appointed them chamberlains about his person, assigning to them
stipends and allowances and all that they required, and lodging
them in his palace at Baghdad. He returned the beaten lady to his
son, Al-Amin, renewing the marriage contract between them and
gave her great wealth and bade rebuild the house fairer than it
was before. As for himself he took to wife the procuratrix and
lay with her that night: and next day he set apart for her an
apartment in his Serraglio, with handmaidens for her service and
a fixed daily allowance And the people marvelled at their
Caliph's generosity and natural beneficence and princely widsom;
nor did he forget to send all these histories to be recorded in
his annals. When Shahrazad ceased speaking Dunyazad exclaimed, "O
my own sister, by Allah in very sooth this is a right pleasant
tale and a delectable; never was heard the like of it, but
prithee tell me now another story to while away what yet
remaineth of the waking hours of this our night." She replied,
"With love and gladness if the King give me leave;" and he said,
"Tell thy tale and tell it quickly." So she began, in these


They relate, O King of the age and lord of the time and of these
days, that the Caliph Harun al-Rashid summoned his Wazir Ja'afar
one night and said to him, 'I desire to go down into the city and
question the common folk concerning the conduct of those charged
with its governance; and those of whom they complain we will
depose from office and those whom they commend we will promote."
Quoth Ja'afar, "Hearkening and obedience!" So the Caliph went
down with Ja'afar and Eunuch Masrur to the town and walked about
the streets and markets and, as they were threading a narrow
alley, they came upon a very old man with a fishing-net and crate
to carry small fish on his head, and in his hand a staff; and, as
he walked at a leisurely pace, he repeated these lines:--

"They say me: --Thou shinest a light to mankind * With thy lore
as the night which the Moon doth uplight!
I answer, "A truce to your jests and your gibes; * Without luck
what is learning?--a poor-devil wight!
If they take me to pawn with my lore in my pouch, * With my
volumes to read and my ink-case to write,
For one day's provision they never could pledge me; * As likely
on Doomsday to draw bill at sight:"
How poorly, indeed, doth it fare wi' the poor, * With his pauper
existence and beggarly plight:
In summer he faileth provision to find; * In winter the
fire-pot's his only delight:
The street-dogs with bite and with bark to him rise, * And each
losel receives him with bark and with bite:
If he lift up his voice and complain of his wrong, * None pities
or heeds him, however he's right;
And when sorrows and evils like these he must brave * His
happiest homestead were down in the grave."

When the Caliph heard his verses he said to Ja'afar, "See this
poor man and note his verses, for surely they point to his
necessities." Then he accosted him and asked, "O Shaykh, what be
thine occupation?" and the poor man answered, "O my lord, I am a
fisherman with a family to keep and I have been out between
mid-day and this time; and not a thing hath Allah made my portion
wherewithal to feed my family. I cannot even pawn myself to buy
them a supper and I hate and disgust my life and I hanker after
death." Quoth the Caliph, "Say me, wilt thou return with us to
Tigris' bank and cast thy net on my luck, and whatsoever turneth
up I will buy of thee for an hundred gold pieces?" The man
rejoiced when he heard these words and said, "On my head be it! I
will go back with you;" and, returning with them river-wards,
made a cast and waited a while; then he hauled in the rope and
dragged the net ashore and there appeared in it a chest padlocked
and heavy. The Caliph examined it and lifted it finding it
weighty; so he gave the fisherman two hundred dinars and sent him
about his business; whilst Masrur, aided by the Caliph, carried
the chest to the palace and set it down and lighted the candles.
Ja'afar and Masrur then broke it open and found therein a basket
of palm-leaves corded with red worsted. This they cut open and
saw within it a piece of carpet which they lifted out, and under
it was a woman's mantilla folded in four, which they pulled out;
and at the bottom of the chest they came upon a young lady, fair
as a silver ingot, slain and cut into nineteen pieces. When the
Caliph looked upon her he cried, "Alas!" and tears ran down his
cheeks and turning to Ja'afar he said, "O dog of Wazirs, [FN#354]
shall folk be murdered in our reign and be cast into the river to
be a burden and a responsibility for us on the Day of Doom? By
Allah, we must avenge this woman on her murderer and he shall be
made die the worst of deaths!" And presently he added, " Now, as
surely as we are descended from the Sons of Abbas, [FN#355] if
thou bring us not him who slew her, that we do her justice on
him, I will hang thee at the gate of my palace, thee and forty of
thy kith and kin by thy side." And the: Caliph was wroth with
exceeding rage. Quoth Ja'afar, "Grant me three days' delay;" and
quoth the Caliph, "We grant thee this." So Ja'afar went out from
before him and returned to his own house, full of sorrow and
saying to himself, "How shall I find him who murdered this
damsel, that I may bring him before the Caliph? If I bring other
than the murderer, it will be laid to my charge by the Lord: in
very sooth I wot not what to do." He kept his house three days
and on the fourth day the Caliph sent one of the Chamberlains for
him and, as he came into the presence, asked him, "Where is the
murderer of the damsel?" to which answered Ja'afar, "O Commander
of the Faithful, am I inspector of " murdered folk that I should
ken who killed her?" The Caliph was furious at his answer and
bade hang him before the palace-gate and commanded that a crier
cry through the streets of Baghdad, "Whoso would see the hanging
of Ja'afar, the Barmaki, Wazir of the Caliph, with forty of the
Barmecides, [FN#356] his cousins and kinsmen, before the
palace-gate, let him come and let him look!" The people flocked
out from all the quarters of the city to witness the execution of
Ja'afar and his kinsmen, not knowing the cause. Then they set up
the gallows and made Ja'afar and the others stand underneath in
readiness for execution, but whilst every eye was looking for the
Caliph's signal, and the crowd wept for Ja'afar and his cousins
of the Barmecides, lo and behold! a young man fair of face and
neat of dress and of favour like the moon raining light, with
eyes black and bright, and brow flower-white, and cheeks red as
rose and young down where the beard grows, and a mole like a
grain of ambergris, pushed his way through the people till he
stood immediately before the Wazir and said to him, "Safety to
thee from this strait, O Prince of the Emirs and Asylum of the
poor! I am the man who slew the woman ye found in the chest, so
hang me for her and do her justice on me!" When Ja'afar heard the
youth's confession he rejoiced at his own deliverance. but
grieved and sorrowed for the fair youth; and whilst they were yet
talking behold, another man well stricken in years pressed
forwards through the people and thrust his way amid the populace
till he came to Ja'afar and the youth, whom he saluted saying,
"Ho thou the Wazir and Prince sans-peer! believe not the words of
this youth. Of a surety none murdered the damsel but I; take her
wreak on me this moment; for, an thou do not thus, I will require
it of thee before Almighty Allah." Then quoth the young man, "O
Wazir, this is an old man in his dotage who wotteth not whatso he
saith ever, and I am he who murdered her, so do thou avenge her
on me!" Quoth the old man, "O my son, thou art young and desirest
the joys of the world and I am old and weary and surfeited with
the world: I will offer my life as a ransom for thee and for the
Wazir and his cousins. No one murdered the damsel but I, so Allah
upon thee, make haste to hang me, for no life is left in me now
that hers is gone." The Wazir marvelled much at all this
strangeness and, taking the young man and the old man, carried
them before the Caliph, where, after kissing the ground seven
times between his hands, he said, "O Commander of the Faithful, I
bring thee the murderer of the damsel!" "Where is he?" asked the
Caliph and Ja'afar answered, "This young man saith, I am the
murderer, and this old man giving him the lie saith, I am the
murderer, and behold, here are the twain standing before thee."
The Caliph looked at the old man and the young man and asked,
"Which of you killed the girl?" The young man replied, "No one
slew her save I;" and the old man answered, "Indeed none killed
her but myself." Then said the Caliph to Ja'afar, "Take the twain
and hang them both;" but Ja'afar rejoined, "Since one of them was
the murderer, to hang the other were mere injustice."[FN#357] "By
Him who raised the firmament and dispread the earth like a
carpet," cried the youth, "I am he who slew the damsel;" and he
went on to describe the manner of her murder and the basket, the
mantilla and the bit of carpet, in fact all that the Caliph had
found upon her. So the Caliph was certified that the young man
was the murderer; whereat he wondered and asked him, 'What was
the cause of thy wrongfully doing this damsel to die and what
made thee confess the murder without the bastinado, and what
brought thee here to yield up thy life, and what made thee say Do
her wreak upon me?" The youth answered, "Know, O Commander of the
Faithful, that this woman was my wife and the mother of my
children; also my first cousin and the daughter of my paternal
uncle, this old man who is my father's own brother. When I
married her she was a maid [FN#358] and Allah blessed me with
three male children by her; she loved me and served me and I saw
no evil in her, for I also loved her with fondest love. Now on
the first day of this month she fell ill with grievous sickness
and I fetched in physicians to her; but recovery came to her
little by little. and, when I wished her to go to the Hammam.
bath, she said, "There is a something I long for before I go to
the bath and I long for it with an exceeding longing." To hear is
to comply," said I. "And what is it?" Quoth she, "I have a queasy
craving for an apple, to smell it and bite a bit of it." I
replied, "Hadst thou a thousand longings I would try to satisfy
them!" So I went on the instant into the city and sought for
apples but could find none; yet, had they cost a gold piece each,
would I have bought them. I was vexed at this and went home and
said, "O daughter of my uncle. by Allah I can find none!" She was
distressed, being yet very weakly, and her weakness in. creased
greatly on her that night and I felt anxious and alarmed on her
account. As soon as morning dawned I went out again and made the
round of the gardens, one by one, but found no apples anywhere.
At last there met me an old gardener. of whom I asked about them
and he answered, "O my son, this fruit is a rarity with us and is
not now to be found save in the garden of the Commander of the
Faithful at Bassorah, where the gardener keepeth it for the
Caliph's eating." I returned to my house troubled by my
ill-success; and my love for my wife and my affection moved me to
undertake the journey. So I gat me ready and set out and
travelled fifteen days and nights, going and coming, and brought
her three apples which I bought from the gardener for three
dinars. But when I went in to my wife and set them before her,
she took no pleasure in them and let them lie by her side; for
her weakness and fever had increased on her and her malady lasted
without abating ten days, after which time she began to recover
health. So I left my house and betaking me to my shop sat there
buying and selling; and about midday behold, a great ugly black
slave, long as a lance and broad as a bench, passed by my shop
holding in hand one of the three apples wherewith he was playing.
Quoth I, "O my good slave, tell me whence thou tookest that
apple, that I may get the like of it?" He laughed and answered,
"I got it from my mistress, for I had been absent and on my
return I found her lying ill with three apples by her side, and
she said to me, 'My horned wittol of a husband made a journey for
them to Bassorah and bought them for three dinars.' So I ate and
drank with her and took this one from her." [FN#359] When I heard
such words from the slave, O Commander of the Faithful, the world
grew black before my face, and I arose and locked up my shop and
went home beside myself for excess of rage. I looked for the
apples and finding only two of the three asked my wife, "O my
cousin, where is the third apple?"; and raising her head
languidly she answered, "I wet not, O son of my uncle, where 'tis
gone!" This convinced me that the slave had spoken the truth, so
I took a knife and coming behind her got upon her breast without
a word said and cut her throat. Then I hewed off her head and her
limbs in pieces and, wrapping her in her mantilla and a rag of
carpet, hurriedly sewed up the whole which I set in a chest and,
locking it tight, loaded it on my he-mule and threw it into the
Tigris with my own hands. So Allah upon thee, O Commander of the
Faithful, make haste to hang me, as I fear lest she appeal for
vengeance on Resurrection Day. For, when I had thrown her into
the river and none knew aught of it, as I went back home I found
my eldest son crying and yet he knew naught of what I had done
with his mother. I asked him, "What hath made thee weep, my boy?"
and he answered, "I took one of the three apples which were by my
mammy and went down into the lane to play with my brethren when
behold, a big long black slave snatched it from my hand and said.
'Whence hadst thou this?' Quoth I, 'My father travelled far for
it, and brought it from Bassorah for my mother who was ill and
two other apples for which he paid three ducats.' He took no heed
of my words and I asked for the apple a second and a third time,
but he cuffed me and kicked me and went off with it. I was afraid
lest my mother should swinge me on account of the apple, so for
fear of her I went with my brother outside the city and stayed
there till evening closed in upon us; and indeed I am in fear of
her; and now by Allah, O my father, say nothing to her of this or
it may add to her ailment!" When I heard what-my child said I
knew that the slave was he who had foully slandered my wife, the
daughter of my uncle, and was certified that I had slain her
wrong. fully. So I wept with exceeding weeping and presently this
old man, my paternal uncle and her father, came in; and I told
him what had happened and he sat down by my side and wept and we
ceased not weeping till midnight. We have kept up mourning for
her these last five days and we lamented her in the deepest
sorrow for that she was unjustly done to die. This came from the
gratuitous lying of the slave, the blackamoor, and this was the
manner of my killing her; so I conjure thee, by the honour of
thine ancestors, make haste to kill me and do her justice upon
me, as there is no living for me after her!" The Caliph marvelled
at his words and said, "By Allah, the young man is excusable: I
will hang none but the accursed slave and I will do a deed which
shall comfort the ill-at-ease and suffering, and which shall
please the All-glorious King."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn
of day and ceased saying her permitted say,

When it was the Twentieth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Caliph
swore he would hang none but the slave, for the youth was
excusable. Then he turned to Ja'afar and said to him, "Bring
before me this accursed slave who was the sole cause of this
calamity; and, if thou bring him not before me within three days,
thou shalt be slain in his stead." So Ja'afar fared forth weeping
and saying. "Two deaths have already beset me, nor shall the
crock come of safe from every shock.' [FN#360] In this matter
craft and cunning are of no avail; but He who preserved my life
the first time can preserve it a second time. By Allah, I will
not leave my house during the three days of life which remain to
me and let the Truth (whose perfection be praised!) do e'en as He
will." So he kept his house three days, and on the fourth day he
summoned the Kazis and legal witnesses and made his last will and
testament, and took leave of his children weeping. Presently in
came a messenger from the Caliph and said to him, "The Commander
of the Faithful is in the most violent rage that can be, and he
sendeth to seek thee and he sweareth that the day shall certainly
not pass without thy being hanged unless the slave be forth.
coming." When Ja'afar heard this he wept, and his children and
slaves and all who were in the house wept with him. After he had
bidden adieu to everybody except his youngest daughter, he
proceeded to farewell her; for he loved this wee one, who was a
beautiful child, more than all his other children; and he pressed
her to his breast and kissed her and wept bitterly at parting
from her; when he felt something round inside the bosom of her
dress and asked her, "O my little maid, what is in thy bosom
pocket?"; "O my father," she replied, "it is an apple with the
name of our Lord the Caliph written upon it. Rayhan our slave
brought it to me four days ago and would not let me have it till
I gave him two dinars for it." When Ja'afar heard speak of the
slave and the apple, he was glad and put his hand into his
child's pocket [FN#361] and drew out the apple and knew it and
rejoiced saying, "O ready Dispeller of trouble " [FN#362] Then he
bade them bring the slave and said to him, "Fie upon thee,
Rayhan! whence haddest thou this apple?" "By Allah, O my master,"
he replied, "though a lie may get a man once off, yet may truth
get him off, and well off, again and again. I did not steal this
apple from thy palace nor from the gardens of the Commander of
the Faithful. The fact is that five days ago, as I was walking
along one of the alleys of this city, I saw some little ones at
play and this apple in hand of one of them. So I snatched it from
him and beat him and he cried and said, 'O youth this apple is my
mother's and she is ill. She told my father how she longed for an
apple, so he travelled to Bassorah and bought her three apples
for three gold pieces, and I took one of them to play withal.' He
wept again, but I paid no heed to what he said and carried it off
and brought it here, and my little lady bought it of me for two
dinars of gold. And this is the whole story." When Ja'afar heard
his words he marvelled that the murder of the damsel and all this
misery should have been caused by his slave; he grieved for the
relation of the slave to himself, while rejoicing over his own
deliverance, and he repeated these lines: --

"If ill betide thee through thy slave, * Make him forthright thy
A many serviles thou shalt find, * But life comes once and never

Then he took the slave's hand and, leading him to the Caliph,
related the story from first to last and the Caliph marvelled
with extreme astonishment, and laughed till he fell on his back
and ordered that the story be recorded and be made public amongst
the people. But Ja'afar said, "Marvel not, O Commander of the
Faithful, at this adventure, for it is not more wondrous than the
History of the Wazir Nur al-Din Ali of Egypt and his brother
Shams al-Din Mohammed. -- Quoth the Caliph, "Out with it; but
what can be stranger than this story?" And Ja'afar answered, "O
Commander of the Faithful, I will not tell it thee, save on
condition that thou pardon my slave;" and the Caliph rejoined,
"If it be indeed more wondrous than that of the three apples, I
grant thee his blood, and if not I will surely slay thy slave."
So Ja'afar began in these words the


Know, O Commander of the Faithful, that in times of yore the land
of Egypt was ruled by a Sultan endowed with justice and
generosity, one who loved the pious poor and companied with the
Olema and learned men; and he had a Wazir, a wise and an
experienced, well versed in affairs and in the art of government.
This Minister, who was a very old man, had two sons, as they were
two moons; never man saw the like of them for beauty and grace,
the elder called Shams al-Din Mohammed and the younger Nur al-Din
Ali; but the younger excelled the elder in seemliness and
pleasing semblance, so that folk heard his fame in far countries
and men flocked to Egypt for the purpose of seeing him. In
course of time their father, the Wazir, died and was deeply
regretted and mourned by the Sultan, who sent for his two sons
and, investing them with dresses of honour, [FN#363] said to
them, "Let not your hearts be troubled, for ye shall stand in
your father's stead and be joint Ministers of Egypt." At this
they rejoiced and kissed the ground before him and performed the
ceremonial mourning [FN#364] for their father during a full
month; after which time they entered upon the Wazirate, and the
power passed into their hands as it had been in the hands of
their father, each doing duty for a week at a time. They lived
under the same roof and their word was one; and whenever the
Sultan desired to travel they took it by turns to be in
attendance on him. It fortuned one night that the Sultan
purposed setting out on a journey next morning, and the elder,
whose turn it was to accompany him, was sitting conversing with
his brother and said to him, "O my brother, it is my wish that we
both marry, I and thou, two sisters; and go in to our wives on
one and the same night." "Do, O my brother, as thou desirest,"
the younger replied, "for right is thy recking and surely I will
comply with thee in whatso thou sayest." So they agreed upon
this and quoth Shams al-Din, "If Allah decree that we marry two
damsels and go in to them on the same night, and they shall
conceive on their bridenights and bear children to us on the same
day, and by Allah's will they wife bear thee a son and my wife
bear me a daughter, let us wed them either to other, for they
will be cousins." Quoth Nur al-Din, "O my brother, Shams al-Din,
what dower [FN#365] wilt thou require from my son for thy
daughter?" Quoth Shams al-Din, "I will take three thousand
dinars and three pleasure gardens and three farms; and it would
not be seemly that the youth make contract for less than this."
When Nur al-Din heard such demand he said, "What manner of dower
is this thou wouldst impose upon my son? Wottest thou not that
we are brothers and both by Allah's grace Wazirs and equal in
office? It behoveth thee to offer thy daughter to my son without
marriage settlement; or if one need be, it should represent a
mere nominal value by way of show to the world: for thou knowest
that the masculine is worthier than the feminine, and my son is a
male and our memory will be preserved by him, not by thy
daughter." "But what," said Shams al-Din, "is she to have?"; and
Nur al-Din continued, "Through her we shall not be remembered
among the Emirs of the earth; but I see thou wouldest do with me
according to the saying:--An thou wouldst bluff off a buyer, ask
him high price and higher; or as did a man who, they say, went to
a friend and asked something of him being in necessity and was
answered, 'Bismallah, [FN#366] in the name of Allah, I will do
all what thou requirest but come to-morrow!' Whereupon the other
replied in this verse:--

'When he who is asked a favour saith "To-morrow," * The wise man
wots 'tis vain to beg or borrow.'"

Quoth Shams al-Din, "Basta! [FN#367] I see thee fail in respect
to me by making thy son of more account than my daughter; and
'tis plain that thine understanding is of the meanest and that
thou lackest manners. Thou remindest me of thy partnership in
the Wazirate, when I admitted thee to share with me only in pity
for thee, and not wishing to mortify thee; and that thou mightest
help me as a manner of assistant. But since thou talkest on this
wise, by Allah, I will never marry my daughter to thy son; no,
not for her weight in gold!" When Nur al-Din heard his brother's
words he waxed wroth and said, "And I too, I will never, never
marry my son to thy daughter; no, not to keep from my lips the
cup of death." Shams al-Din replied, "I would not accept him as
a husband for her, and he is not worth a paring of her nail.
Were I not about to travel I would make an example of thee;
however when I return thou shalt see, and I will show thee, how I
can assert my dignity and vindicate my honour. But Allah doeth
whatso He willeth."[FN#368] When Nur al-Din heard this speech
from his brother, he was filled with fury and lost his wits for
rage; but he hid what he felt and held his peace; and each of the
brothers passed the night in a place far apart, wild with wrath
against the other. As soon as morning dawned the Sultan fared
forth in state and crossed over from Cairo [FN#369] to Jizah
[FN#370] and made for the pyramids, accompanied by the Wazir
Shams al-Din, whose turn of duty it was, whilst his brother Nur
al-din, who passed the night in sore rage, rose with the light
and prayed the dawn-prayer. Then he betook himself to his
treasury and, taking a small pair of saddle-bags, filled them
with gold; and he called to mind his brother's threats and the
contempt wherewith he had treated him, and he repeated these

"Travel! and thou shalt find new friends for old ones left
behind; * Toil! for the sweets of human life by toil and
moil are found:
The stay-at-home no honour wins nor aught attains but want; * So
leave thy place of birth [FN#371] and wander all the world
I've seen, and very oft I've seen, how standing water stinks, *
And only flowing sweetens it and trotting makes it sound:
And were the moon forever full and ne'er to wax or wane, * Man
would not strain his watchful eyes to see its gladsome
Except the lion leave his lair he ne'er would fell his game, *
Except the arrow leave the bow ne'er had it reached its
Gold-dust is dust the while it lies untravelled in the mine, *
And aloes-wood mere fuel is upon its native ground:
And gold shall win his highest worth when from his goal ungoal'd;
* And aloes sent to foreign parts grows costlier than gold."

When he ended his verse he bade one of his pages saddle him his
Nubian mare-mule with her padded selle. Now she was a dapple-
grey, [FN#372] with ears like reed-pens and legs like columns and
a back high and strong as a dome builded on pillars; her saddle
was of gold-cloth and her stirrups of Indian steel, and her
housing of Ispahan velvet; she had trappings which would serve
the Chosroes, and she was like a bride adorned for her wedding
night. Moreover he bade lay on her back a piece of silk for a
seat, and a prayer-carpet under which were his saddle-bags. When
this was done he said to his pages and slaves, "I purpose going
forth a-pleasuring outside the city on the road to Kalyub-town,
[FN#373] and I shall lie three nights abroad; so let none of you
follow me, for there is something straiteneth my breast." Then
he mounted the mule in haste; and, taking with him some provaunt
for the way, set out from Cairo and faced the open and
uncultivated country lying around it. [FN#374] About noontide he
entered Bilbays-city, [FN#375] where he dismounted and stayed
awhile to rest himself and his mule and ate some of his victual.
He bought at Bilbays all he wanted for himself and forage for his
mule and then fared on the way of the waste. Towards night-fall
he entered a town called Sa'adiyah [FN#376] where he alighted and
took out somewhat of his viaticum and ate; then he spread his
strip of silk on the sand and set the saddle-bags under his head
and slept in the open air; for he was still overcome with anger.
When morning dawned he mounted and rode onward till he reached
the Holy City, [FN#377] Jerusalem, and thence he made Aleppo,
where he dismounted at one of the caravanserais and abode three
days to rest himself and the mule and to smell the air. [FN#378]
Then, being determined to travel afar and Allah having written
safety in his fate, he set out again, wending without wotting
whither he was going; and, having fallen in with certain
couriers, he stinted not travelling till he had reached Bassorah-
city albeit he knew not what the place was. It was dark night
when he alighted at the Khan, so he spread out his prayer-carpet
and took down the saddle-bags from the back of his mule and gave
her with her furniture in charge of the door-keeper that he might
walk her about. The man took her and did as he was bid. Now it
so happened that the Wazir of Bassorah, a man shot in years, was
sitting at the lattice-window of his palace opposite the Khan and
he saw the porter walking the mule up and down. He was struck by
her trappings of price and thought her a nice beast fit for the
riding of Wazirs or even of royalties; and the more he looked the
more was he perplexed till at last he said to one of his pages,
"Bring hither yon door-keeper," The page went and returned to
the Wazir with the porter who kissed the ground between his
hands, and the Minister asked him, "Who is the owner of yonder
mule and what manner of man is he?"; and he answered, "O my lord,
the owner of this mule is a comely young man of pleasant manners,
withal grave and dignified, and doubtless one of the sons of the
merchants." When the Wazir heard the door-keeper's words he
arose forthright; and, mounting his horse, rode to the Khan
[FN#379] and went in to Nur al-Din who, seeing the minister
making towards him, rose to his feet and advanced to meet him and
saluted him. The Wazir welcomed him to Bassorah and dis-
mounting, embraced him and made him sit down by his side and
said, "O my son, whence comest thou and what dost thou seek?" "O
my lord," Nur al-Din replied, "I have come from Cairo-city of
which my father was whilome Wazir; but he hath been removed to
the grace of Allah;" and he informed him of all that had befallen
him from beginning to end, adding, "I am resolved never to return
home before I have seen all the cities and countries of the
world." When the Wazir heard this, he said to him, "O my son,
hearken not to the voice of passion lest it cast thee into the
pit; for indeed many regions be waste places and I fear for thee
the turns of Time." Then he let load the saddle-bags and the
silk and prayer-carpets on the mule and carried Nur al-Din to his
own house, where he lodged him in a pleasant place and entreated
him honourably and made much of him, for he inclined to love him
with exceeding love. After a while he said to him, "O my son,
here am I left a man in years and have no male children, but
Allah hath blessed me with a daughter who eventh thee in beauty;
and I have rejected all her many suitors, men of rank and
substance. But affection for thee hath entered into my heart;
say me, then, wilt thou be to her a husband? If thou accept
this, I will go up with thee to the Sultan of Bassorah [FN#380]
and will tell him that thou art my nephew, the son of my brother,
and bring thee to be appointed Wazir in my place that I may keep
the house for, by Allah, O my son, I am stricken in years and
aweary." When Nur al-Din heard the Wazir's words, he bowed his
head in modesty and said, "To hear is to obey!" At this the
Wazir rejoiced and bade his servants prepare a feast and decorate
the great assembly-hall, wherein they were wont to celebrate the
marriages of Emirs and Grandees. Then he assembled his friends
and the notables of the reign and the merchants of Bassorah and
when all stood before him he said to them, "I had a brother who
was Wazir in the land of Egypt, and Allah Almighty blessed him
with two sons, whilst to me, as well ye wot, He hath given a
daughter. My brother charged me to marry my daughter to one of
his sons, whereto I assented; and, when my daughter was of age to
marry, he sent me one of his sons, the young man now present, to
whom I purpose marrying her, drawing up the contract and
celebrating the night of unveiling with due ceremony; for he is
nearer and dearer to me than a stranger and, after the wedding,
if he please he shall abide with me, or if he desire to travel I
will forward him and his wife to his father's home." Hereat one
and all replied, "Right is thy recking;" and they all looked at
the bridegroom and were pleased with him. So the Wazir sent for
the Kazi and legal witnesses and they wrote out the marriage-
contract, after which the slaves perfumed the guests with
incense, [FN#381] and served them with sherbet of sugar and
sprinkled rose-water on them and all went their ways. Then the
Wazir bade his servants take Nur al-Din to the Hammam-baths and
sent him a suit of the best of his own especial raiment, and
napkins and towelry and bowls and perfume-burners and all else
that was required. After the bath, when he came out and donned
the dress, he was even as the full moon on the fourteenth night;
and he mounted his mule and stayed not till he reached the
Wazir's palace. There he dismounted and went in to the Minister
and kissed his hands, and the Wazir bade him welcome.--And
Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her
permitted say.

When it was the Twenty-first Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Wazir
stood up to him and welcoming him said, "Arise and go in to thy
wife this night, and on the morrow I will carry thee to the
Sultan, and pray Allah bless thee with all manner of weal." So
Nur al-Din left him and went into his wife the Wazir's daughter.
Thus far concerning him, but as regards his eldest brother, Shams
al-Din, he was absent with the Sultan a long time and when he
returned from his journey he found not his brother; and he asked
of his servants and slaves who answered, "On the day of thy
departure with the Sultan, thy brother mounted his mule fully
caparisoned as for state procession saying, 'I am going towards
Kalyub-town and I shall be absent one day or at most two days;
for my breast is straitened, and let none of you follow me.'
Then he fared forth and from that time to this we have heard no
tidings of him." Shams al-Din was greatly troubled at the sudden
disappearance of his brother and grieved with exceeding grief at
the loss and said to himself, "This is only because I chided and
upbraided him the night before my departure with the Sultan;
haply his feelings were hurt and he fared forth a-travelling; but
I must send after him." Then he went in to the Sultan and
acquainted him with what had happened and wrote letters and
dispatches, which he sent by running footmen to his deputies in
every province. But during the twenty days of his brother's
absence Nur al-Din had travelled far and had reached Bassorah; so
after diligent search the messengers failed to come at any news
of him and returned. Thereupon Shams al-Din despaired of finding
his brother and said, "Indeed I went beyond all bounds in what I
said to him with reference to the marriage of our children.
Would that I had not done so! This all cometh of my lack of wit
and want of caution." Soon after this he sought in marriage the
daughter of a Cairene merchant, [FN#382] and drew up the marriage
contract and went in to her. And it so chanced that, on the very
same night when Shams al-Din went in to his wife, Nur al-Din also
went in to his wife the daughter of the Wazir of Bassorah; this
being in accordance with the will of Almighty Allah, that He
might deal the decrees of Destiny to His creatures. Furthermore,
it was as the two brothers had said; for their two wives became
pregnant by them on the same night and both were brought to bed
on the same day; the wife of Shams al-Din, Wazir of Egypt, of a
daughter, never in Cairo was seen a fairer; and the wife of Nur
al-Din of a son, none more beautiful was ever seen in his time,
as one of the poets said concerning the like of him:--

That jetty hair, that glossy brow,
My slender-waisted youth, of thine,
Can darkness round creation throw,
Or make it brightly shine.
The dusky mole that faintly shows
Upon his cheek, ah! blame it not:
The tulip-flower never blows
Undarkened by its spot [FN#383]

And as another also said:--

His scent was musk and his cheek was rose; * His teeth are pearls
and his lips drop wine;
His form is a brand and his hips a hill; * His hair is night and
his face moon-shine.

They named the boy Badr al-Din Hasan and his grandfather, the
Wazir of Bassorah, rejoiced in him and, on the seventh day after
his birth, made entertainments and spread banquets which would
befit the birth of Kings' sons and heirs. Then he took Nur al-
Din and went up with him to the Sultan, and his son-in-law, when
he came before the presence of the King, kissed the ground
between his hands and repeated these verses, for he was ready of
speech, firm of sprite and good in heart as he was goodly in

"The world's best joys long be thy lot, my lord! * And last while
darkness and the dawn o'erlap:
O thou who makest, when we greet thy gifts, * The world to dance
and Time his palms to clap." [FN#384]

Then the Sultan rose up to honour them, and thanking Nur al-Din
for his fine compliment, asked the Wazir, "Who may be this young
man?"; and the Minister answered, "This is my brother's son," and
related his tale from first to last. Quoth the Sultan, "And how
comes he to be thy nephew and we have never heard speak of him?"
Quoth the Minister, "O our lord the Sultan, I had a brother who
was Wazir in the land of Egypt and he died, leaving two sons,
whereof the elder hath taken his father's place and the younger,
whom thou seest, came to me. I had sworn I would not marry my


Back to Full Books