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

Part 6 out of 9

Presently my wife took a fid of fish and, making a gobbet of
it,[FN#510] crammed it into his mouth; but some of it went down
the wrong way or stuck in his gullet and he died on the instant.
So we lifted him up, I and my wife, and carried him to the Jew's
house where the slave girl came down and opened the door to us
and I said to her, 'Tell thy master that there are a man and a
woman and a sick person for thee to see!' I gave her a quarter
dinar and she went up to tell her master; and, whilst she was
gone, I carried the Hunchback to the head of the staircase and
propped him up against the wall, and went off with my wife. When
the Jew came down he stumbled over him and thought that he had
killed him." Then he asked the Jew, "Is this the truth?"; and the
Jew answered, "Yes." Thereupon the Tailor turned to the Governor,
and said, "Leave go the Jew and hang me." When the Governor heard
the Tailor's tale he marvelled at the matter of this Hunchback
and exclaimed. "Verily this is an adventure which should be
recorded in books!" Then he said to the hangman, "Let the Jew go
and hang the Tailor on his own confession." The executioner took
the Tailor and put the rope around his neck and said, "I am tired
of such slow work: we bring out this one and change him for that
other, and no one is hanged after all!" Now the Hunchback in
question was, they relate, jester to the Sultan of China who
could not bear him out of his sight; so when the fellow got drunk
and did not make his appearance that night or the next day till
noon, the Sultan asked some of his courtiers about him and they
answered, "O our lord, the Governor hath come upon him dead and
hath ordered his murderer to be hanged; but, as the hangman was
about to hoist him up there came a second and a third and a
fourth and each one said, 'It is I, and none else killed the
Hunchback!' and each gave a full and circumstantial account of
the manner of the jester being killed." When the King heard this
he cried aloud to the Chamberlain in waiting, "Go down to the
Governor and bring me all four of them." So the Chamberlain went
down at once to the place of execution, where he found the torch
bearer on the point of hanging the Tailor and shouted to him,
"Hold! Hold!" Then he gave the King's command to the Governor who
took the Tailor, the Jew, the Nazarene and the Reeve (the
Hunchback's body being borne on men's shoulders) and went up with
one and all of them to the King. When he came into the presence,
he kissed the ground and acquainted the ruler with the whole
story which it is needless to relate for, as they say, There is
no avail in a thrice told tale. The Sultan hearing it marvelled
and was moved to mirth and commanded the story to be written in
letters of liquid gold, saying to those present, "Did ye ever
hear a more wondrous tale than that of my Hunchback?" Thereupon
the Nazarene broker came forward and said, "O King of the age,
with thy leave I will tell thee a thing which happened to myself
and which is still more wondrous and marvellous and pleasurable
and delectable than the tale of the Hunchback." Quoth the King
"Tell us what thou hast to say!" So he began in these words

The Nazarene Broker's Story.

O King of the age, I came to this thy country with merchandise
and Destiny stayed me here with you: but my place of birth was
Cairo, in Egypt, where I also was brought up, for I am one of the
Copts and my father was a broker before me. When I came to man's
estate he departed this life and I succeeded to his business. One
day, as I was sitting in my shop, behold, there came up to me a
youth as handsome as could be, wearing sumptuous raiment and
riding a fine ass.[FN#511] When he saw me he saluted me, and I
stood up to do him honour: then he took out a kerchief containing
a sample of sesame and asked, "How much is this worth per
Ardabb?";[FN#512] whereto I answered, "An hundred dirhams." Quoth
he, "Take porters and gaugers and metesmen and come tomorrow to
the Khan al-Jawali,[FN#513] by the Gate of Victory quarter where
thou wilt find me." Then he fared forth leaving with me the
sample of sesame in his kerchief; and I went the round of my
customers and ascertained that every Ardabb would fetch an
hundred and twenty dirhams. Next day I took four metesmen and
walked with them to the Khan, where I found him awaiting me. As
soon as he saw me he rose and opened his magazine, when we
measured the grain till the store was empty; and we found the
contents fifty Ardabbs, making five thousand pieces of silver.
Then said he, "Let ten dirhams on every Ardabb be thy brokerage;
so take the price and keep in deposit four thousand and five
hundred dirhams for me; and, when I have made an end of selling
the other wares in my warehouses, I will come to thee and receive
the amount." "I will well," replied I and kissing his hand went
away, having made that day a profit of a thousand dirhams. He was
absent a month, at the end of which he came to me and asked,
"Where be the dirhams?" I rose and saluted him and answered to
him, "Wilt thou not eat somewhat in my house?" But he refused
with the remark, "Get the monies ready and I will presently
return and take them." Then he rode away. So I brought out the
dirhams and sat down to await him, but he stayed away for another
month, when he came back and said to me, "Where be the dirhams?"
I rose and saluting him asked, "Wilt thou not eat some thing in
my house?" But he again refused adding, "Get me the monies ready
and I will presently return and take them." Then he rode off. So
I brought out the dirhams and sat down to await his return; but
he stayed away from me a third month, and I said, "Verily this
young man is liberality in incarnate form." At the end of the
month he came up, riding a mare mule and wearing a suit of
sumptuous raiment; he was as the moon on the night of fullness,
and he seemed as if fresh from the baths, with his cheeks rosy
bright, and his brow flower white, and a mole spot like a grain
of ambergris delighting the sight; even as was said of such an
one by the poet:--

Full moon with sun in single mansion * In brightest sheen and
fortune rose and shone,
With happy splendour changing every sprite: * Hail to what
guerdons prayer with blissful! boon!
Their charms and grace have gained perfection's height, * All
hearts have conquered and all wits have won.
Laud to the Lord for works so wonder strange, * And what th'
Almighty wills His hand hath done!

When I saw him I rose to him and invoking blessings on him asked,
O my lord, wilt thou not take thy monies?" "Whence the
hurry?"[FN#514] quoth he, "Wait till I have made an end of my
business and then I will come and take them." Again he rode away
and I said to myself, "By Allah, when he comes next time needs
must I make him my guest; for I have traded with his dirhams and
have gotten large gains thereby." At the end of the year he came
again, habited in a suit of clothes more sumptuous than the
former; and, when I conjured him by the Evangel to alight at my
house and eat of my guest food, he said, "I consent, on condition
that what thou expendest on me shall be of my monies still in thy
hands. I answered, "So be it," and made him sit down whilst I got
ready what was needful of meat and drink and else besides; and
set the tray before him, with the invitation "Bismillah"![FN#515]
Then he drew near the tray and put out his left hand[FN#516] and
ate with me; and I marvelled at his not using the right hand.
When we had done eating, I poured water on his hand and gave him
wherewith to wipe it. Upon this we sat down to converse after I
had set before him some sweetmeats; and I said to him, "O my
master, prithee relieve me by telling me why thou eatest with thy
left hand? Perchance something aileth thy other hand?" When he
heard my words, he repeated these verses:--

"Dear friend, ask not what burneth in my breast, * Lest thou see
fiery pangs eye never saw:
Wills not my heart to harbour Salma in stead * Of
Layla's[FN#517] love, but need hath ne'er a law!"

And he put out his right arm from his sleeve and behold, the hand
was cut off, a wrist without a fist. I was astounded at this but
he said, "Marvel not, and think not that I ate with my left hand
for conceit and insolence, but from necessity; and the cutting
off my right hand was caused by an adventure of the strangest."
Asked I, "And what caused it?"; and he answered:--"Know that I am
of the sons of Baghdad and my father was of notables of that
city. When I came to man's estate I heard the pilgrims and
wayfarers, travellers and merchants talk of the land of Egypt and
their words sank deep into my mind till my parent died, when I
took a large sum of money and furnished myself for trade with
stuffs of Baghdad and Mosul and, packing them up in bales, set
out on my wanderings; and Allah decreed me safety till I entered
this your city. Then he wept and began repeating:--

The blear eyed 'scapes the pits * Wherein the lynx eyed fall:
A word the wise man slays * And saves the natural:
The Moslem fails of food * The Kafir feasts in hall:
What art or act is man's? * God's will obligeth all!

Now when he had ended his verse he said, So I entered Cairo and
took off my loads and stored my stuffs in the Khan "Al-
Masrur."[FN#518] Then I gave the servant a few silvers wherewith
to buy me some food and lay down to sleep awhile. When I awoke I
went to the street called "Bayn al-Kasrayn"--Between the two
Palaces--and presently returned and rested my night in the Khan.
When it was morning I opened a bale and took out some stuff
saying to myself, "I will be off and go through some of the
bazaars and see the state of the market." So I loaded the stuff
on some of my slaves and fared forth till I reached the
Kaysariyah or Exchange of Jaharkas;[FN#519] where the brokers who
knew of my coming came to meet me. They took the stuffs and cried
them for sale, but could not get the prime cost of them. I was
vexed at this, however the Shaykh of the brokers said to me, "O
my lord, I will tell thee how thou mayest make a profit of thy
goods. Thou shouldest do as the merchants do and sell thy
merchandise at credit for a fixed period, on a contract drawn up
by a notary and duly witnessed; and employ a Shroff to take thy
dues every Monday and Thursday. So shalt thou gain two dirhams
and more, for every one; and thou shalt solace and divert thyself
by seeing Cairo and the Nile." Quoth I, "This is sound advice,"
and carried the brokers to the Khan. They took my stuffs and went
with them on 'Change where I sold them well taking bonds for the
value. These bonds I deposited with a Shroff, a banker, who gave
me a receipt with which I returned to the Khan. Here I stayed a
whole month, every morning breaking my fast with a cup of wine
and making my meals on pigeon's meat, mutton and sweetmeats, till
the time came when my receipts began to fall due. So, every
Monday and Thursday I used to go on 'Change and sit in the shop
of one or other of the merchants, whilst the notary and money
changer went round to recover the monies from the traders, till
after the time of mid afternoon prayer, when they brought me the
amount, and I counted it and, sealing the bags, returned with
them to the Khan. On a certain day which happened to be a
Monday,[FN#520] I went to the Hammam and thence back to my Khan,
and sitting in my own room[FN#521] broke my fast with a cup of
wine, after which I slept a little. When I awoke I ate a chicken
and, perfuming my person, repaired to the shop of a merchant
hight Badr al-Din al-Bostani, or the Gardener,[FN#522] who
welcomed me; and we sat talking awhile till the bazaar should
open. Presently, behold, up came a lady of stately figure wearing
a head-dress of the most magnificent, perfumed with the sweetest
of scents and walking with graceful swaying gait; and seeing me
she raised her mantilla allowing me a glimpse of her beautiful
black eyes. She saluted Badr al-Din who returned her salutation
and stood up, and talked with her; and the moment I heard her
speak, the love of her got hold of my heart. Presently she said
to Badr al-Din, "Hast thou by thee a cut piece of stuff woven
with thread of pure gold?" So he brought out to her a piece from
those he had bought of me and sold it to her for one thousand two
hundred dirhams; when she said, "I will take the piece home with
me and send thee its price." "That is impossible, O my lady," the
merchant replied, "for here is the owner of the stuff and I owe
him a share of profit." "Fie upon thee!" she cried, "Do I not use
to take from thee entire rolls of costly stuff, and give thee a
greater profit than thou expectest, and send thee the money?"
"Yes," rejoined he; "but I stand in pressing need of the price
this very day." Hereupon she took up the piece and threw it back
upon his lap, saying "Out on thee! Allah confound the tribe of
you which estimates none at the right value;" and she turned to
go. I felt my very soul going with her; so I stood up and stayed
her, saying, "I conjure thee by the Lord, O my lady, favour me by
retracing thy gracious steps." She turned back with a smile and
said, "For thy sake I return," and took a seat opposite me in the
shop. Then quoth I to Badr al-Din, "What is the price they asked
thee for this piece?"; and quoth he, "Eleven hundred dirhams." I
rejoined, "The odd hundred shall be thy profit: bring me a sheet
of paper and I will write thee a discharge for it." Then I wrote
him a receipt in my own handwriting and gave the piece to the
lady, saying, "Take it away with thee and, if thou wilt, bring me
its price next bazaar day; or better still, accept it as my guest
gift to thee." "Allah requite thee with good," answered she, "and
make thee my husband and lord and master of all I have!"[FN#523]
And Allah favoured her prayer. I saw the Gates of Paradise swing
open before me and said, "O my lady, let this piece of stuff be
now thine and another like it is ready for thee, only let me have
one look at thy face." So she raised her veil and I saw a face
the sight of which bequeathed to me a thousand sighs, and my
heart was so captivated by her love that I was no longer ruler of
my reason. Then she let fall her face veil and taking up the
piece of stuff said, "O my lord make me not desolate by thine
absence!" and turned away and disappeared from my sight. I
remained sitting on 'Change till past the hour of after noon
prayer, lost to the world by the love which had mastered me, and
the violence of my passion compelled me to make enquiries
concerning her of the merchant, who answered me, "This is a lady
and a rich: she is the daughter of a certain Emir who lately died
and left her a large fortune." Then I took leave of him and
returned home to the Khan where they set supper before me; but I
could not eat for thinking of her and when I lay down to sleep,
sleep came not near me. So I watched till morning, when I arose
and donned a change of raiment and drank a cup of wine and, after
breaking my fast on some slight matter, I went to the merchant's
shop where I saluted him and sat down by him. Presently up came
the lady as usual, followed by a slave girl and wearing a dress
more sumptuous than before; and she saluted me without noticing
Badr al-Din and said in fluent graceful speech (never heard I
voice softer or sweeter), "Send one with me to take the thousand
and two hundred dirhams, the price of the piece." "Why this
hurry?" asked I and she answered, "May we never lose
thee!"[FN#524] and handed me the money. Then I sat talking with
her and presently I signed to her in dumb show, whereby she
understood that I longed to enjoy her person,[FN#525] and she
rose up in haste with a show of displeasure. My heart clung to
her and I went forth from the bazaar and followed on her track.
As I was walking suddenly a black slave girl stopped me and said,
"O my master, come speak with my mistress."[FN#526] At this I was
surprised and replied, "There is none who knows me here;" but she
rejoined, "0 my lord, how soon hast thou forgotten her! My lady
is the same who was this day at the shop of such a merchant."
Then I went with her to the Shroff's, where I found the lady who
drew me to her side and said, "O my beloved, thine image is
firmly stamped upon my fancy, and love of thee hath gotten hold
of my heart: from the hour I first saw thee nor sleep nor food
nor drink hath given me aught of pleasure." I replied, "The
double of that suffering is mine and my state dispenseth me from
complaint." Then said she, "O my beloved, at thy house, or at
mine?" "I am a stranger here and have no place of reception save
the Khan, so by thy favour it shall be at thy house." "So be it;
but this is Friday[FN#527] night and nothing can be done till
tomorrow after public prayers; go to the Mosque and pray; then
mount thine ass, and ask for the Habbaniyah[FN#528] quarter; and,
when there, look out for the mansion of Al-Nakib[FN#529] Barakat,
popularly known as Abu Shamah the Syndic; for I live there: so do
not delay as I shall be expecting thee." I rejoiced with still
greater joy at this; and took leave of her and returned to my
Khan, where I passed a sleepless night. Hardly was I assured that
morning had dawned when I rose, changed my dress, perfumed myself
with essences and sweet scents and, taking fifty dinars in a
kerchief, went from the Khan Masrur to the Zuwaylah[FN#530] gate,
where I mounted an ass and said to its owner, "Take me to the
Habbaniyah." So he set off with me and brought up in the
twinkling of an eye at a street known as Darb al-Munkari, where I
said to him, "Go in and ask for the Syndic's mansion." He was
absent a while and then returned and said, "Alight." "Go thou
before me to the house," quoth I, adding, "Come back with the
earliest light and bring me home;" and he answered, "In Allah's
name;" whereupon I gave him a quarter dinar of gold, and he took
it and went his ways. Then I knocked at the door and out came two
white slave girls, both young; high-bosomed virgins, as they were
moons, and said to me, "Enter, for our mistress is expecting thee
and she hath not slept the night long for her delight in thee." I
passed through the vestibule into a saloon with seven doors,
floored with parti-coloured marbles and furnished with curtains
and hangings of coloured silks: the ceiling was cloisonne with
gold and corniced with inscriptions[FN#531] emblazoned in lapis
lazuli; and the walls were stuccoed with Sultani gypsum[FN#532]
which mirrored the beholder's face. Around the saloon were
latticed windows overlooking a garden full of all manner of
fruits; whose streams were railing and riffling and whose birds
were trilling and shrilling; and in the heart of the hall was a
jetting fountain at whose corners stood birds fashioned in red
gold crusted with pearls and gems and spouting water crystal
clear. When I entered and took a seat.--And Shahrazad perceived
the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Twenty-sixth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the young
merchant continued, When I entered and took a seat, the lady at
once came in crowned with a diadem[FN#533] of pearls and jewels;
her face dotted with artificial moles in indigo,[FN#534] her
eyebrows pencilled with Kohl and her hands and feet reddened with
Henna. When she saw me she smiled in my face and took me to her
embrace and clasped me to her breast; then she put her mouth to
my mouth and sucked my tongue[FN#535] (and I did likewise) and
said, "Can it be true, O my little darkling, thou art come to
me?" adding, "Welcome and good cheer to thee! By Allah, from the
day I saw thee sleep hath not been sweet to me nor hath food been
pleasant." Quoth I, "Such hath also been my case: and I am thy
slave, thy negro slave." Then we sat down to converse and I hung
my head earthwards in bashfulness, but she delayed not long ere
she set before me a tray of the most exquisite viands, marinated
meats, fritters soaked in bee's[FN#536] honeys and chickens
stuffed with sugar and pistachio nuts, whereof we ate till we
were satisfied. Then they brought basin and ewer and I washed my
hands and we scented ourselves with rose water musk'd and sat
down again to converse. So she began repeating these

"Had we wist of thy coming, thy way had been strewn
With the blood of our heart and the balls of our sight:
Our cheek as a foot cloth to greet thee been thrown,
That thy step on our eyelids should softly alight."

And she kept plaining of what had befallen her and I of what had
betided me; and love of her got so firm hold of my heart that all
my wealth seemed a thing of naught in comparison with her. Then
we fell to toying and groping and kissing till night fall, when
the handmaidens set before us meats and a complete wine service,
and we sat carousing till the noon of night, when we lay down and
I lay with her; never in my life saw I a night like that night.
When morning morrowed I arose and took leave of her, throwing
under the carpet bed the kerchief wherein were the dinars[FN#538]
and as I went out she wept and said, "O my lord, when shall I
look upon that lovely face again?" "I will be with thee at
sunset," answered I, and going out found the donkey boy, who had
brought me the day before, awaiting at the door. So I mounted ass
and rode to the Khan of Masrur where I alighted and gave the man
a half dinar, saying, "Return at sunset;" and he said "I will."
Then I breakfasted and went out to seek the price of my stuffs;
after which I returned, and taking a roast lamb and some
sweetmeats, called a porter and put the provision in his crate,
and sent it to the lady paying the man his hire.[FN#539] I went
back to my business till sunset, when the ass driver came to me
and I took fifty dinars in a kerchief and rode to her house where
I found the marble floor swept, the brasses burnisht, the branch
lights burning, the wax candles ready lighted, the meat served up
and the wine strained.[FN#540] When my lady saw me she threw her
arms about my neck, and cried, "Thou hast desolated me by thine
absence." Then she set the tables before me and we ate till we
were satisfied, when the slave girls carried off the trays and
served up wine. We gave not over drinking till half the night was
past; and, being well warmed with drink, we went to the sleeping
chamber and lay there till morning. I then arose and fared forth
from her leaving the fifty dinars with her as before; and,
finding the donkey boy at the door, rode to the Khan and slept
awhile. After that I went out to make ready the evening meal and
took a brace of geese with gravy on two platters of dressed and
peppered rice, and got ready colocasia[FN#541]-roots fried and
soaked in honey, and wax candles and fruits and conserves and
nuts and almonds and sweet scented cowers; and I sent them all to
her. As soon as it was night I again tied up fifty dinars in a
kerchief and, mounting the ass as usual, rode to the mansion
where we ate and drank and lay together till morning when I threw
the kerchief and dinars to her[FN#542] and rode back to the Khan.
I ceased not doing after that fashion till, after a sweet night,
I woke one fine morning and found myself beggared, dinar-less and
dirhamless. So said I to myself "All this be Satan's work;" and
began to recite these couplets:--

"Poverty dims the sheen of man whate'er his wealth has been, *
E'en as the sun about to set shines with a yellowing light
Absent he falls from memory, forgotten by his friends; * Present
he shareth not their joys for none in him delight
He walks the market shunned of all, too glad to hide his head, *
In desert places tears he sheds and moans his bitter plight
By Allah, 'mid his kith and kin a man, however good, * Waylaid
by want and penury is but a stranger wight!"

I fared forth from the Khan and walked down "Between the Palaces"
street till I came to the Zuwaylah Porte, where I found the
people crowding and the gateway blocked for the much folk. And by
the decree of Destiny I saw there a trooper against whom I
pressed unintentionally, so that my hand came upon his bosom
pocket and I felt a purse inside it. I looked and seeing a string
of green silk hanging from the pocket knew it for a purse; and
the crush grew greater every minute and just then, a camel laden
with a load of fuel happened to jostle the trooper on the
opposite side, and he turned round to fend it off from him, lest
it tear his clothes; and Satan tempted me, so I pulled the string
and drew out a little bag of blue silk, containing something
which chinked like coin. But the soldier, feeling his pocket
suddenly lightened, put his hand to it and found it empty;
whereupon he turned to me and, snatching up his mace from his
saddle bow, struck me with it on the head. I fell to the ground,
whilst the people came round us and seizing the trooper's mare by
the bridle said to him, "Strikest thou this youth such a blow as
this for a mere push!" But the trooper cried out at them, "This
fellow is an accursed thief!" Whereupon I came to myself and
stood up, and the people looked at me and said, "Nay, he is a
comely youth: he would not steal anything;" and some of them took
my part and others were against me and question and answer waxed
loud and warm. The people pulled at me and would have rescued me
from his clutches; but as fate decreed behold, the Governor, the
Chief of Police, and the watch[FN#543] entered the Zuwaylah Gate
at this moment and, seeing the people gathered together around me
and the soldier, the Governor asked, "What is the matter?" "By
Allah! O Emir," answered the trooper, "this is a thief! I had in
my pocket a purse of blue silk lined with twenty good gold pieces
and he took it, whilst I was in the crush." Quoth the Governor,
"Was any one by thee at the time?"; and quoth the soldier, "No."
Thereupon the Governor cried out to the Chief of Police who
seized me, and on this wise the curtain of the Lord's. protection
was withdrawn from me. Then he said "Strip him;" and, when they
stripped me, they found the purse in my clothes. The Wali took
it, opened it and counted it; and, finding in it twenty dinars as
the soldier had said, waxed exceeding wroth and bade his guard
bring me before him. Then said he to me, "Now, O youth, speak
truly: didst thou steal this purse?"[FN#544] At this I hung my
head to the ground and said to myself, "If I deny having stolen
it, I shall get myself into terrible trouble." So I raised my
head and said, "Yes, I took it." When the Governor heard these
words he wondered and summoned witnesses who came forward and
attested my confession. All this happened at the Zuwaylah Gate.
Then the Governor ordered the link bearer to cut off my right
hand, and he did so; after which he would have struck off my left
foot also; but the heart of the soldier softened and he took pity
on me and interceded for me with the Governor that I should not
be slain.[FN#545] Thereupon the Wali left me, and went away and
the folk remained round me and gave me a cup of wine to drink. As
for the trooper he pressed the purse upon me, and said, "Thou art
a comely youth and it befitteth not thou be a thief." So I
repeated these verses:--

"I swear by Allah's name, fair sir! no thief was I, * Nor, O thou
best of men! was I a bandit bred:
But Fortune's change and chance o'erthrew me suddenly, * And
cark and care and penury my course misled:
I shot it not, indeed, 'twas Allah shot the shaft * That rolled
in dust the Kingly diadem from my head."[FN#546]

The soldier turned away after giving me the purse; and I also
went my ways having wrapped my hand in a piece of rag and thrust
it into my bosom. My whole semblance had changed, and my colour
had waxed yellow from the shame and pain which had befallen me.
Yet I went on to my mistress's house where, in extreme
perturbation of spirit I threw myself down on the carpet bed. She
saw me in this state and asked me, "What aileth thee and why do I
see thee so changed in looks?"; and I answered, "My head paineth
me and I am far from well." Whereupon she was vexed and was
concerned on my account and said, "Burn not my heart, O my lord,
but sit up and raise thy head and recount to me what hath
happened to thee today, for thy face tells me a tale." "Leave
this talk," replied I. But she wept and said, "Me seems thou art
tired of me, for I see thee contrary to thy wont." But I was
silent; and she kept on talking to me albeit I gave her no
answer, till night came on. Then she set food before me, but I
refused it fearing lest she see me eating with my left hand and
said to her, "I have no stomach to eat at present." Quoth she,
"Tell me what hath befallen thee to day, and why art thou so
sorrowful and broken in spirit and heart?" Quoth I, "Wait awhile;
I will tell thee all at my leisure." Then she brought me wine,
saying, "Down with it, this will dispel thy grief: thou must
indeed drink and tell me of thy tidings." I asked her, "Perforce
must I tell thee?"; and she answered, "Yes." Then said I, "If it
needs must be so, then give me to drink with thine own hand." She
filled and drank,[FN#547] and filled again and gave me the cup
which I took from her with my left hand and wiped the tears from
my eyelids and began repeating:

"When Allah willeth aught befall a man * Who hath of ears and
eyes and wits full share:
His ears He deafens and his eyes He blinds * And draws his wits
e'en as we draw a hair[FN#548]
Till, having wrought His purpose, He restores * Man's wits, that
warned more circumspect he fare."

When I ended my verses I wept, and she cried out with an
exceeding loud cry, "What is the cause of thy tears? Thou burnest
my heart! What makes thee take the cup with thy left hand?" Quoth
I, "Truly I have on my right hand a boil;" and quoth she, "Put it
out and I will open it for thee."[FN#549] "It is not yet time to
open it," I replied, "so worry me not with thy words, for I will
not take it out of the bandage at this hour." Then I drank off
the cup, and she gave not over plying me with drink until
drunkenness overcame me and I fell asleep in the place where I
was sitting; whereupon she looked at my right hand and saw a
wrist without a fist. So she searched me closely and found with
me the purse of gold and my severed hand wrapped up in the bit of
rag.[FN#550] With this such sorrow came upon her as never
overcame any and she ceased not lamenting on my account till the
morning. When I awoke I found that she had dressed me a dish of
broth of four boiled chickens, which she brought to me together
with a cup of wine. I ate and drank and laying down the purse,
would have gone out; but she said to me, "Whither away?"; and I
answered, "Where my business calleth me;" and said she, "Thou
shalt not go: sit thee down." So I sat down and she resumed,
"Hath thy love for me so overpowered thee that thou hast wasted
all thy wealth and hast lost thine hand on my account? I take
thee to witness against me and also Allah be my witness that I
will never part with thee, but will die under thy feet; and soon
thou shalt see that my words are true." Then she sent for the
Kazi and witnesses and said to them, "Write my contract of
marriage with this young man, and bear ye witness that I have
received the marriage settlement."[FN#551] When they had drawn up
the document she said, "Be witness that all my monies which are
in this chest and all I have in slaves and handmaidens and other
property is given in free gift to this young man." So they took
act of this statement enabling me to assume possession in right
of marriage; and then withdrew, after receiving their fees.
Thereupon she took me by the hand and, leading me to a closet,
opened a large chest and said to me, "See what is herein;" and I
looked and behold, it was full of kerchiefs. Quoth she, "This is
the money I had from thee and every kerchief thou gavest me,
containing fifty dinars, I wrapped up and cast into this chest;
so now take thine own, for it returns to thee, and this day thou
art become of high estate. Fortune and Fate afflicted thee so
that thou didst lose thy right hand for my sake; and I can never
requite thee; nay, although I gave my life 'twere but little and
I should still remain thy debtor." Then she added, "Take charge
of thy property."; so I transferred the contents of her chest to
my chest, and added my wealth to her wealth which I had given
her, and my heart was eased and my sorrow ceased. I stood up and
kissed her and thanked her; and she said, "Thou hast given thy
hand for love of me and how am I able to give thee an equivalent?
By Allah, if I offered my life for thy love, it were indeed but
little and would not do justice to thy claim upon me." Then she
made over to me by deed all that she possessed in clothes and
ornaments of gold and pearls, and goods and farms and chattels,
and lay not down to sleep that night, being sorely grieved for my
grief, till I told her the whole of what had befallen me. I
passed the night with her. But before we had lived together a
month's time she fell sorely sick and illness increased upon her,
by reason of her grief for the loss of my hand, and she endured
but fifty days before she was numbered among the folk of futurity
and heirs of immortality. So I laid her out and buried her body
in mother earth and let make a pious perfection of the
Koran[FN#552] for the health of her soul, and gave much money in
alms for her; after which I turned me from the grave and returned
to the house. There I found that she had left much substance in
ready money and slaves, mansions, lands and domains, and among
her store houses was a granary of sesame seed, whereof I sold
part to thee; and I had neither time nor inclination to take
count with thee till I had sold the rest of the stock in store;
nor, indeed, even now have I made an end of receiving the price.
So I desire thou baulk me not in what I am about to say to thee:
twice have I eaten of thy food and I wish to give thee as a
present the monies for the sesame which are by thee. Such is the
cause of the cutting off my right hand and my eating with my
left." "Indeed," said I, "thou hast shown me the utmost kindness
and liberality." Then he asked me, "Why shouldst thou not travel
with me to my native country whither I am about to return with
Cairene and Alexandrian stuffs? Say me, wilt thou accompany me?";
and I answered "I will." So I agreed to go with him at the head
of the month, and I sold all I had and bought other merchandise;
then we set out and travelled, I and the young man, to this
country of yours, where he sold his venture and bought other
investment of country stuffs and continued his journey to Egypt
But it was my lot to abide here, so that these things befell me
in my strangerhood which befell last night, and is not this tale,
O King of the age, more wondrous and marvellous than the story of
the Hunchback? "Not so," quoth the King, "I cannot accept it:
there is no help for it but that you be hanged, every one of
you."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day, and ceased saying
her permitted say.

When it was the Twenty-seventh Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the
King of China declared "There is no help for it but that you be
hanged," the Reeve of the Sultan's Kitchen came forward and said,
"If thou permit me I will tell thee a tale of what befell me just
before I found this Gobbo, and, if it be more wondrous than his
story, do thou grant us our lives." And when the King answered
"Yes" he began to recount

The Reeve's Tale.

Know, O King, that last night I was at a party where they made a
perfection of the Koran and got together doctors of law and
religion skilled in recitation and intoning; and, when the
readers ended, the table was spread and amongst other things they
set before us was a marinated ragout[FN#553] flavoured with cumin
seed. So we sat down, but one of our number held back and refused
to touch it. We conjured him to eat of it but he swore he would
not; and, when we again pressed him, he said, "Be not instant
with me; sufficeth me that which hath already befallen me through
eating it", and he began reciting:

"Shoulder thy tray and go straight to thy goal; * And, if suit
thee this Kohl why,-use this Kohl!"[FN#554]

When he ended his verse we said to him, "Allah upon thee, tell us
thy reason for refusing to eat of the cumin ragout?" `'If so it
be," he replied, "and needs must I eat of it, I will not do so
except I wash my hand forty times with soap, forty times with
potash and forty times with galangale,[FN#555] the total being
one hundred and twenty washings." Thereupon the hospitable host
bade his slaves bring water and whatso he required; and the young
man washed his hand as afore mentioned. Then he sat down, as if
disgusted and frightened withal, and dipping his hand in the
ragout, began eating and at the same time showing signs of anger.
And we wondered at him with extreme wonderment, for his hand
trembled and the morsel in it shook and we saw that his thumb had
been cut off and he ate with his four fingers only. So we said to
him, "Allah upon thee, what happened to thy thumb? Is thy hand
thus by the creation of God or hath some accident befallen it?"
"O my brothers," he answered, "it is not only thus with this
thumb, but also with my other thumb and with both my great toes,
as you shall see." So saying he uncovered his left hand and his
feet, and we saw that the left hand was even as the right and in
like manner that each of his feet lacked its great toe. When we
saw him after this fashion, our amazement waxed still greater and
we said to him, "We have hardly patience enough to await thy
history and to hear the manner of the cutting off of thy thumbs,
and the reason of thy washing both hands one hundred and twenty
times." Know then, said he, that my father was chief of the
merchants and the wealthiest of them all in Baghdad city during
the reign of the Caliph Harun al Rashid; and he was much given to
wine drinking and listening to the lute and the other instruments
of pleasaunce; so that when he died he left nothing. I buried him
and had perlections of the Koran made for him, and mourned for
him days and nights: then I opened his shop and found that he had
left in it few goods, while his debts were many. However I
compounded with his creditors for time to settle their demands
and betook myself to buying and selling, paying them something
from week to week on account; and I gave not over doing this till
I had cleared off his obligations in full and began adding to my
principal. One day, as I sat in my shop, suddenly and
unexpectedly there appeared before me a young lady, than whom I
never saw a fairer, wearing the richest raiment and ornaments and
riding a she mule, with one negro slave walking before her and
another behind her. She drew rein at the head of the exchange
bazaar and entered followed by an eunuch who said to her, "O my
lady come out and away without telling anyone, lest thou light a
fire which will burn us all up." Moreover he stood before her
guarding her from view whilst she looked at the merchants' shops.
She found none open but mine; so she came up with the eunuch
behind her and sitting down in my shop saluted me; never heard I
aught fairer than her speech or sweeter than her voice. Then she
unveiled her face, and I saw that she was like the moon and I
stole a glance at her whose sight caused me a thousand sighs, and
my heart was captivated with love of her, and I kept looking
again and again upon her face repeating these verses:--

"Say to the charmer in the dove hued veil, * Death would be
welcome to abate thy bale!
Favour me with thy favours that I live: * See, I stretch forth my
palm to take thy vail!

When she heard my verse she answered me saying:--

"I've lost all patience by despite of you; * My heart knows
nothing save love plight to you!
If aught I sight save charms so bright of you; * My parting end
not in the sight of you!
I swear I'll ne'er forget the right of you; * And fain this
breast would soar to height of you:
You made me drain the love cup, and I lief * A love cup tender
for delight of you:
Take this my form where'er you go, and when * You die, entomb
me in the site of you:
Call on me in my grave, and hear my bones * Sigh their responses
to the shright of you:
And were I asked 'Of God what wouldst thou see?' * I answer,
'first His will then Thy decree!'

When she ended her verse she asked me, "O youth, hast thou any
fair stuffs by thee?"; and I answered, "O my lady, thy slave is
poor; but have patience till the merchants open their shops, and
I will suit thee with what thou wilt." Then we sat talking, I and
she (and I was drowned in the sea of her love, dazed in the
desert[FN#556] of my passion for her), till the merchants opened
their shops; when I rose and fetched her all she sought to the
tune of five thousand dirhams. She gave the stuff to the eunuch
and, going forth by the door of the Exchange, she mounted mule
and went away, without telling me whence she came, and I was
ashamed to speak of such trifle. When the merchants dunned me for
the price, I made myself answerable for five thousand dirhams and
went home, drunken with the love of her. They set supper before
me and I ate a mouthful, thinking only of her beauty and
loveliness, and sought to sleep, but sleep came not to me. And
such was my condition for a whole week, when the merchants
required their monies of me, but I persuaded them to have
patience for another week, at the end of which time she again
appeared mounted on a she mule and attended by her eunuch and two
slaves. She saluted me and said, "O my master, we have been long
in bringing thee the price of the stuffs; but now fetch the
Shroff and take thy monies." So I sent for the money changer and
the eunuch counted out the coin before him and made it over to
me. Then we sat talking, I and she, till the market opened, when
she said to me, "Get me this and that." So I got her from the
merchants whatso she wanted, and she took it and went away
without saying a word to me about the price. As soon as she was
out of sight, I repented me of what I had done; for the worth of
the stuffs bought for her amounted to a thousand dinars, and I
said in my soul, "What manner of love is this? She hath brought
me five thousand dirhams, and hath taken goods for a thousand
dinars."[FN#557] I feared lest I should be beggared through
having to pay the merchants their money, and I said, "They know
none other but me; this lovely lady is naught but a cheat and a
swindler, who hath diddled me with her beauty and grace; for she
saw that I was a mere youth and laughed at me for not asking her
address." I ceased not to be troubled by these doubts and fears,
as she was absent more than a month, till the merchants pestered
me for their money and were so hard upon me that I put up my
property for sale and stood on the very brink of ruin. However,
as I was sitting in my shop one day, drowned in melancholy
musings, she suddenly rode up and, dismounting at the bazaar
gate, came straight towards me. When I saw her all my cares fell
from me and I forgot every trouble. She came close up to me and
greeted me with her sweet voice and pleasant speech and presently
said, "Fetch me the Shroff and weigh thy money."[FN#558] So she
gave me the price of what goods I had gotten for her and more,
and fell to talking freely with me, till I was like to die of joy
and delight Presently she asked me, "Hast thou a wife?"; and I
answered "No, indeed: I have never known woman"; and began to
shed tears. Quoth she "Why weepest thou?" Quoth I "It is
nothing!" Then giving the eunuch some of the gold pieces, I
begged him to be go between[FN#559] in the matter; but he laughed
and said, "She is more in love with thee than thou with her: she
hath no occasion for the stuffs she hath bought of thee and did
all this only for the love of thee; so ask of her what thou wilt
and she will deny thee nothing." When she saw me giving the
dinars to the eunuch, she returned and sat down again; and I said
to her, "Be charitable to thy slave and pardon him what he is
about to say." Then I told her what was in my mind and she
assented and said to the eunuch, "Thou shalt carry my message to
him," adding to me, "And do thou whatso the eunuch biddeth thee."
Then she got up and went away, and I paid the merchants their
monies and they all profited; but as for me, regret at the
breaking off of our intercourse was all my gain; and I slept not
the whole of that night. However, before many days passed her
eunuch came to me, and I entreated him honourably and asked him
after his mistress. "Truly she is sick with love of thee," he
replied and I rejoined, "Tell me who and what she is." Quoth he,
"The Lady Zubaydah, queen consort of Harun al-Rashid, brought her
up as a rearling[FN#560] and hath advanced her to be stewardess
of the Harim, and gave her the right of going in and out of her
own sweet will. She spoke to her lady of thee and begged her to
marry her to thee; but she said, 'I will not do this, till I see
the young man; and, if he be worthy of thee, I will marry thee to
him.' So now we look for the moment to smuggle thee into the
Palace and if thou succeed in entering privily thou wilt win thy
wish to wed her; but if the affair get wind, the Lady Zubaydah
will strike off thy head.[FN#561] What sayest thou to this?" I
answered, "I will go with thee and abide the risk whereof thou
speakest." Then said he, "As soon as it is night, go to the
Mosque built by the Lady Zubaydah on the Tigris and pray the
night prayers and sleep there." "With love and gladness," cried
I. So at nightfall I repaired to the Mosque, where I prayed and
passed the night. With earliest dawn, behold, came sundry eunuchs
in a skiff with a number of empty chests which they deposited in
the Mosque; then all of them went their ways but one, and looking
curiously at him, I saw he was our go between. Presently in came
the handmaiden, my mistress, walking straight up to us; and I
rose to her and embraced her while she kissed me and shed
tears.[FN#562] We talked awhile; after which she made me get into
one of the chests which she locked upon me. Presently the other
eunuchs came back with a quantity of packages and she fell to
stowing them in the chests, which she locked down, one by one,
till all were shut. When all was done the eunuchs embarked the
chests in the boat and made for the Lady Zubaydah's palace. With
this, thought began to beset me and I said to myself, "Verily thy
lust and wantonness will be the death of thee; and the question
is after all shalt thou win to thy wish or not?" And I began to
weep, boxed up as I was in the box and suffering from cramp; and
I prayed Allah that He deliver me from the dangerous strait I was
in, whilst the boat gave not over going on till it reached the
Palace gate where they lifted out the chests and amongst them
that in which I was. Then they carried them in, passing through a
troop of eunuchs, guardians of the Harim and of the ladies behind
the curtain, till they came to the post of the Eunuch in
Chief[FN#563] who started up from his slumbers and shouted to the
damsel "What is in those chests?" "They are full of wares for the
Lady Zubaydah!" "Open them, one by one, that I may see what is in
them." "And wherefore wouldst thou open them?" "Give me no words
and exceed not in talk! These chests must and shall be opened."
So saying, he sprang to his feet, and the first which they
brought to him to open was that wherein I was; and, when I felt
his hands upon it, my senses failed me and I bepissed myself in
my funk, the water running out of the box. Then said she to the
Eunuch in Chief, "O steward! thou wilt cause me to be killed and
thyself too, for thou hast damaged goods worth ten thousand
dinars. This chest contains coloured dresses, and four gallon
flasks of Zemzem water;[FN#564] and now one of them hath got
unstoppered and the water is running out over the clothes and it
will spoil their colours." The eunuch answered, "Take up thy
boxes and get thee gone to the curse of God!" So the slaves
carried off all the chests, including mine; and hastened on with
them till suddenly I heard the voice of one saying, "Alack, and
alack! the Caliph! the Caliph !" When that cry struck mine ears I
died in my skin and said a saying which never yet shamed the
sayer, "There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah,
the Glorious, the Great! I and only I have brought this calamity
upon myself." Presently I heard the Caliph say to my mistress, "A
plague on thee, what is in those boxes?"; and she answered,
"Dresses for the Lady Zubaydah";[FN#565] whereupon he, "Open them
before me!" When I heard this I died my death outright and said
to myself, "By Allah, today is the very last of my days in this
world: if I come safe out of this I am to marry her and no more
words, but detection stares me in the face and my head is as good
as stricken off." Then I repeated the profession of Faith,
saying, "There is no god but the God, and Mohammed is the Apostle
of God!"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to
say her permitted say.

When it was the Twenty-eighth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the young
merchant continued as follows: Now when I testified, "I bear
witness that there is no god save the God," I heard my mistress
the handmaid declare to the Caliph, "These chests, O Commander of
the Faithful, have been committed to my charge by the Lady
Zubaydah, and she doth not wish their contents to be seen by any
one." "No matter!" quoth the Caliph, "needs must they be opened,
I will see what is in them"; and he cried aloud to the eunuchs,
"Bring the chests here before me." At this I made sure of death
(without benefit of a doubt) and swooned away. Then the eunuchs
brought the chests up to him one after another and he fell to
inspecting the contents, but he saw in them only otters and
stuffs and fine dresses; and they ceased not opening the chests
and he ceased not looking to see what was in them, finding only
clothes and such matters, till none remained unopened but the box
in which I was boxed. They put forth their hands to open it, but
my mistress the handmaid made haste and said to the Caliph, "This
one thou shalt see only in the presence of the Lady Zubaydah, for
that which is in it is her secret." When he heard this he gave
orders to carry in the chests; so they took up that wherein I was
and bore it with the rest into the Harim and set it down in the
midst of the saloon; and indeed my spittle was dried up for very
fear.[FN#566] Then my mistress opened the box and took me out,
saying, "Fear not: no harm shall betide thee now nor dread; but
broaden thy breast and strengthen thy heart and sit thee down
till the Lady Zubaydah come, and surely thou shalt win thy wish
of me." So I sat down and, after a while, in came ten hand
maidens, virgins like moons, and ranged themselves in two rows,
five facing five; and after them twenty other damsels, high
bosomed virginity, surrounding the Lady Zubaydah who could hardly
walk for the weight of her raiment and ornaments. As she drew
near, the slave girls dispersed from around her, and I advanced
and kissed the ground between her hands. She signed to me to sit
and, when I sat down before her chair, she began questioning me
of my forbears and family and condition, to which I made such
answers that pleased her, and she said to my mistress, "Our
nurturing of thee, O damsel, hath not disappointed us." Then she
said to me, "Know that this handmaiden is to us even as our own
child and she is a trust committed to thee by Allah." I again
kissed the ground before her, well pleased that I should marry my
mistress, and she bade me abide ten days in the palace. So I
abode there ten days, during which time I saw not my mistress nor
anybody save one of the concubines, who brought me the morning
and evening meals. After this the Lady Zubaydah took counsel with
the Caliph on the marriage of her favourite handmaid, and he gave
leave and assigned to her a wedding portion of ten thousand gold
pieces. So the Lady Zubaydah sent for the Kazi and witnesses who
wrote our marriage contract, after which the women made ready
sweetmeats and rich viands and distributed them among all the
Odahs[FN#567] of the Harim. Thus they did other ten days, at the
end of which time my mistress went to the baths.[FN#568]
Meanwhile, they set before me a tray of food where on were
various meats and among those dishes, which were enough to daze
the wits, was a bowl of cumin ragout containing chickens breasts,
fricandoed[FN#569] and flavoured with sugar, pistachios, musk and
rose water. Then, by Allah, fair sirs, I did not long hesitate;
but took my seat before the ragout and fell to and ate of it till
I could no more. After this I wiped my hands, but forgot to wash
them; and sat till it grew dark, when the wax candles were
lighted and the singing women came in with their tambourines and
proceeded to display the bride in various dresses and to carry
her in procession from room to room all round the palace, getting
their palms crossed with gold. Then they brought her to me and
disrobed her. When I found myself alone with her on the bed I
embraced her, hardly believing in our union; but she smelt the
strong odours of the ragout upon my hands and forth with cried
out with an exceeding loud cry, at which the slave girls came
running to her from all sides. I trembled with alarm, unknowing
what was the matter, and the girls asked her, "What aileth thee,
O our sister?" She answered them, "Take this mad man away from
me: I had thought he was a man of sense!" Quoth I to her, "What
makes thee think me mad?" Quoth she, "Thou madman' what made thee
eat of cumin ragout and forget to wash thy hand? By Allah, I will
requite thee for thy misconduct. Shall the like of thee come to
bed with the like of me with unclean hands?"[FN#570] Then she
took from her side a plaited scourge and came down with it on my
back and the place where I sit till her forearms were benumbed
and I fainted away from the much beating; when she said to the
handmaids, "Take him and carry him to the Chief of Police, that
he may strike off the hand wherewith he ate of the cumin ragout,
and which he did not wash." When I heard this I said, "There is
no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah! Wilt thou cut off
my hand, because I ate of a cumin ragout and did not wash?" The
handmaidens also interceded with her and kissed her hand saying,
"O our sister, this man is a simpleton, punish him not for what
he hath done this nonce;" but she answered, "By Allah, there is
no help but that I dock him of somewhat, especially the offending
member." Then she went away and I saw no more of her for ten
days, during which time she sent me meat and drink by a slave
girl who told me that she had fallen sick from the smell of the
cumin ragout. After that time she came to me and said, "O black
of face![FN#571] I will teach thee how to eat cumin ragout
without washing thy hands!" Then she cried out to the handmaids,
who pinioned me; and she took a sharp razor and cut off my thumbs
and great toes; even as you see, O fair assembly! Thereupon I
swooned away, and she sprinkled some powder of healing herbs upon
the stumps and when the blood was stanched, I said, "Never again
will I eat of cumin ragout without washing my hands forty times
with potash and forty times with galangale and forty times with
soap!" And she took of me an oath and bound me by a covenant to
that effect. When, therefore, you brought me the cumin ragout my
colour changed and I said to myself, "It was this very dish that
caused the cutting off of my thumbs and great toes;" and, when
you forced me, I said, "Needs must I fulfil the oath I have
sworn." "And what befell thee after this?" asked those present;
and he answered, "When I swore to her, her anger was appeased and
I slept with her that night. We abode thus awhile till she said
to me one day, "Verily the Palace of the Caliph is not a pleasant
place for us to live in, and none ever entered it save thyself;
and thou only by grace of the Lady Zubaydah. Now she hath given
me fifty thousand dinars," adding, "Take this money and go out
and buy us a fair dwelling house." So I fared forth and bought a
fine and spacious mansion, whither she removed all the wealth she
owned and what riches I had gained in stuffs and costly rarities.
Such is the cause of the cutting off of my thumbs and great toes.
We ate (continued the Reeve), and were returning to our homes
when there befell me with the Hunchback that thou wottest of.
This then is my story, and peace be with thee! Quoth the King;
"This story is on no wise more delectable than the story of the
Hunchback; nay, it is even less so, and there is no help for the
hanging of the whole of you." Then came forward the Jewish
physician and kissing the ground said, "O King of the age, I will
tell thee an history more wonderful than that of the Hunchback."
"Tell on," said the King of China; so he began the

Tale of the Jewish Doctor.

Right marvellous was a matter which came to pass to me in my
youth. I lived in Damascus of Syria studying my art and, one day,
as I was sitting at home behold, there came to me a Mameluke from
the household of the Sahib and said to me, "Speak with my lord!"
So I followed him to the Viceroy's house and, entering the great
hall, saw at its head a couch of cedar plated with gold whereon
lay a sickly youth beautiful withal; fairer than he one could not
see. I sat down by his head and prayed to Heaven for a cure; and
he made me a sign with his eyes, so I said to him, "O my lord!
favour me with thy hand, and safety be with thee!"[FN#572] Then
he put forth his left hand and I marvelled thereat and said, "By
Allah, strange that this handsome youth, the son of a great
house, should so lack good manners. This can be nothing but pride
and conceit!" However I felt his pulse and wrote him a
prescription and continued to visit him for ten days, at the end
of which time he recovered and went to the Hammam,[FN#573]
whereupon the Viceroy gave me a handsome dress of honour and
appointed me superintendent of the hospital which is in
Damascus.[FN#574] I accompanied him to the baths, the whole of
which they had kept private for his accommodation; and the
servants came in with him and took off his clothes within the
bath, and when he was stripped I saw that his right hand had been
newly cut off, and this was the cause of his weakliness At this I
was amazed and grieved for him: then, looking at his body, I saw
on it the scars of scourge stripes whereto he had applied
unguents. I was troubled at the sight and my concern appeared in
my face. The young man looked at me and, comprehending the
matter, said, "O Physician of the age, marvel not at my case; I
will tell thee my story as soon as we quit the baths." Then we
washed and, returning to his house, ate somewhat of food and took
rest awhile; after which he asked me, "What sayest thou to
solacing thee by inspecting the supper hall?"; and I answered "So
let it be." Thereupon he ordered the slaves to carry out the
carpets and cushions required and roast a lamb and bring us some
fruit. They did his bidding and we ate together, he using the
left hand for the purpose. After a while I said to him, "Now tell
me thy tale." "O Physician of the age," replied he, "hear what
befell me. Know that I am of the sons of Mosul, where my
grandfather died leaving nine children of whom my father was the
eldest. All grew up and took to them wives, but none of them was
blessed with offspring except my father, to whom Providence
vouchsafed me. So I grew up amongst my uncles who rejoiced in me
with exceeding joy, till I came to man's estate. One day which
happened to be a Friday, I went to the Cathedral mosque of Mosul
with my father and my uncles, and we prayed the congregational
prayers, after which the folk went forth, except my father and
uncles, who sat talking of wondrous things in foreign parts and
the marvellous sights of strange cities. At last they mentioned
Egypt, and one of my uncles said, "Travellers tell us that there
is not on earth's face aught fairer than Cairo and her Nile;" and
these words made me long to see Cairo. Quoth my father, "Whoso
hath not seen Cairo hath not seen the world. Her dust is golden
and her Nile a miracle holden; and her women are as Houris fair;
puppets, beautiful pictures; her houses are palaces rare; her
water is sweet and light[FN#575] and her mud a commodity and a
medicine beyond compare, even as said the poet in this his

The Nile[FN#576] flood this day is the gain you own; * You alone
in such gain and bounties wone:
The Nile is my tear flood of severance, * And here none is
forlorn but I alone.

Moreover temperate is her air, and with fragrance blent, Which
surpasseth aloes wood in scent; and how should it be otherwise,
she being the Mother of the World? And Allah favour him who wrote
these lines:--

An I quit Cairo and her pleasaunces, * Where can I wend to find
so gladsome ways?
Shall I desert that site, whose grateful scents * Joy every soul
and call for loudest praise?
Where every palace, as another Eden, * Carpets and cushions
richly wrought displays;
A city wooing sight and sprite to glee, * Where Saint meets
Sinner and each 'joys his craze;
Where friend meets friend, by Providence united * In greeny
garden and in palmy maze:
People of Cairo, and by Allah's doom * I fare, with you in
thoughts I wone always!
Whisper not Cairo in the ear of Zephyr, * Lest for her like of
garden scents he reave her,[FN#577]

And if your eyes saw her earth, and the adornment thereof with
bloom, and the purfling of it with all manner blossoms, and the
islands of the Nile and how much is therein of wide spread and
goodly prospect, and if you bent your sight upon the Abyssinian
Pond,[FN#578] your glance would not revert from the scene quit of
wonder; for nowhere would you behold the fellow of that lovely
view; and, indeed, the two arms of the Nile embrace most
luxuriant verdure,[FN#579] as the white of the eye encompasseth
its black or like filigreed silver surrounding chrysolites. And
divinely gifted was the poet who there anent said these

By th' Abyssinian Pond, O day divine!* In morning twilight and
in sunny shine:
The water prisoned in its verdurous walls, * Like sabre flashes
before shrinking eyne:
And in The Garden sat we while it drains * Slow draught, with
purfled sides dyed finest fine:
The stream is rippled by the hands of clouds; * We too,
a-rippling, on our rugs recline,
Passing pure wine, and whoso leaves us there * Shall ne'er arise
from fall his woes design:
Draining long draughts from large and brimming bowls, *
Administ'ring thirst's only medicine--wine.

And what is there to compare with the Rasad, the Observatory, and
its charms whereof every viewer as he approacheth saith, 'Verily
this spot is specialised with all manner of excellence!' And if
thou speak of the Night of Nile full,[FN#580] give the rainbow
and distribute it![FN#581] And if thou behold The Garden at
eventide, with the cool shades sloping far and wide, a marvel
thou wouldst see and wouldst incline to Egypt in ecstasy. And
wert thou by Cairo's river side,[FN#582] when the sun is sinking
and the stream dons mail coat and habergeon[FN#583] over its
other vestments, thou wouldst be quickened to new life by its
gentle zephyrs and by its all sufficient shade." So spake he and
the rest fell to describing Egypt and her Nile. As I heard their
accounts, my thoughts dwelt upon the subject and when, after
talking their fill, all arose and went their ways, I lay down to
sleep that night, but sleep came not because of my violent
longing for Egypt; and neither meat pleased me nor drink. After a
few days my uncles equipped themselves for a trade journey to
Egypt; and I wept before my father till he made ready for me
fitting merchandise, and he consented to my going with them,
saying however, "Let him not enter Cairo, but leave him to sell
his wares at Damascus." So I took leave of my father and we fared
forth from Mosul and gave not over travelling till we reached
Aleppo[FN#584] where we halted certain days. Then we marched
onwards till we made Damascus and we found her a city as though
she were a Paradise, abounding in trees and streams and birds and
fruits of all kinds. We alighted at one of the Khans, where my
uncles tarried awhile selling and buying; and they bought and
sold also on my account, each dirham turning a profit of five on
prime cost, which pleased me mightily. After this they left me
alone and set their faces Egyptwards; whilst I abode at Damascus,
where I had hired from a jeweller, for two dinars a month, a
mansion[FN#585] whose beauties would beggar the tongue. Here I
remained, eating and drinking and spending what monies I had in
hand till, one day, as I was sitting at the door of my house be
hold, there came up a young lady clad in costliest raiment never
saw my eyes richer. I winked[FN#5886 at her and she stepped
inside without hesitation and stood within. I entered with her
and shut the door upon myself and her; whereupon she raised her
face veil and threw off her mantilla, when I found her like a
pictured moon of rare and marvellous loveliness; and love of her
gat hold of my heart. So I rose and brought a tray of the most
delicate eatables and fruits and whatso befitted the occasion,
and we ate and played and after that we drank till the wine
turned our heads. Then I lay with her the sweetest of nights and
in the morning I offered her ten gold pieces; when her face
lowered and her eye brows wrinkled and shaking with wrath she
cried, "Fie upon thee, O my sweet companion! dost thou deem that
I covet thy money?" Then she took out from the bosom of her
shift[FN#587] fifteen dinars and, laying them before me, said,
"By Allah! unless thou take them I will never come back to thee."
So I accepted them and she said to me, "O my beloved! expect me
again in three days' time, when I will be with thee between
sunset and supper tide; and do thou prepare for us with these
dinars the same entertainment as yesternight." So saying, she
took leave of me and went away and all my senses went with her.
On the third day she came again, clad in stuff weft with gold
wire, and wearing raiment and ornaments finer than before. I had
prepared the place for her ere she arrived and the repast was
ready; so we ate and drank and lay together, as we had done, till
the morning, when she gave me other fifteen gold pieces and
promised to come again after three days. Accordingly, I made
ready for her and, at the appointed time, she presented herself
more richly dressed than on the first and second occasions, and
said to me, "O my lord, am I not beautiful?" "Yea, by Allah thou
art!" answered I, and she went on, "Wilt thou allow me to bring
with me a young lady fairer than I, and younger in years, that
she may play with us and thou and she may laugh and make merry
and rejoice her heart, for she hath been very sad this long time
past, and hath asked me to take her out and let her spend the
night abroad with me?" "Yea, by Allah!" I replied; and we drank
till the wine turned our heads and slept till the morning, when
she gave me other fifteen dinars, saying, "Add something to thy
usual provision on account of the young lady who will come with
me." Then she went away, and on the fourth day I made ready the
house as usual, and soon after sunset behold, she came,
accompanied by another damsel carefully wrapped in her mantilla.
They entered and sat down; and when I saw them I repeated these

"How dear is our day and how lucky our lot, * When the cynic's
away with his tongue malign!
When love and delight and the swimming of head * Send
cleverness trotting, the best boon of wine.
When the full moon shines from the cloudy veil, * And the
branchlet sways in her greens that shine:
When the red rose mantles in freshest cheek, * And
Narcissus[FN#588] opeth his love sick eyne:
When pleasure with those I love is so sweet, * When friendship
with those I love is complete!"

I rejoiced to see them, and lighted the candles after receiving
them with gladness and delight. They doffed their heavy outer
dresses and the new damsel uncovered her face when I saw that she
was like the moon at its full never beheld I aught more
beautiful. Then I rose and set meat and drink before them, and we
ate and drank; and I kept giving mouthfuls to the new comer,
crowning her cup and drinking with her till the first damsel,
waxing inwardly jealous, asked me, "By Allah, is she not more
delicious than I?"; whereto I answered, "Ay, by the Lord!" "It is
my wish that thou lie with her this night; for I am thy mistress
but she is our visitor. Upon my head be it, and my eyes." Then
she rose and spread the carpets for our bed[FN#589] and I took
the young lady and lay with her that night till morning, when I
awoke and found myself wet, as I thought, with sweat. I sat up
and tried to arouse the damsel; but when I shook her by the
shoulders my hand became crimson with blood and her head rolled
off the pillow. Thereupon my senses fled and I cried aloud,
saying, "O All powerful Protector, grant me Thy protection!" Then
finding her neck had been severed, I sprung up and the world
waxed black before my eyes, and I looked for the lady, my former
love, but could not find her. So I knew that it was she who had
murdered the damsel in her jealousy,[FN#590] and said, "There is
no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the
Great! What is to be done now?" I considered awhile then, doffing
my clothes, dug a hole in the middle of the court yard, wherein I
laid the murdered girl with her jewellery and golden ornaments;
and, throwing back the earth on her, replaced the slabs of the
marble[FN#591] pavement. After this I made the Ghusl or total
ablution,[FN#592] and put on pure clothes; then, taking what
money I had left, locked up the house and summoned courage and
went to its owner to whom I paid a year's rent, saying, "I am
about to join my uncles in Cairo." Presently I set out and,
journeying to Egypt, foregathered with my uncles who rejoiced in
me, and I found that they had made an end of selling their
merchandise. They asked me, "What is the cause of thy coming?";
and I answered "I longed for a sight of you;" but did not let
them know that I had any money with me. I abode with them a year,
enjoying the pleasures of Cairo and her Nile,[FN#593] and
squandering the rest of my money in feasting and carousing till
the time drew near for the departure of my uncles, when I fled
from them and hid myself. They made enquiries and sought for me,
but hearing no tidings they said, "He will have gone back to
Damascus." When they departed I came forth from my hiding place
and abode in Cairo three years, until naught remained of my
money. Now every year I used to send the rent of the Damascus
house to its owner, until at last I had nothing left but enough
to pay him for one year's rent and my breast was straitened. So I
travelled to Damascus and alighted at the house whose owner, the
jeweller, was glad to see me and I found everything locked up as
I had left it. I opened the closets and took out my clothes and
necessaries and came upon, beneath the carpet bed whereon I had
lain that night with the girl who had been beheaded, a golden
necklace set with ten gems of passing beauty. I took it up and,
cleansing it of the blood, sat gazing upon it and wept awhile.
Then I abode in the house two days and on the third I entered the
Hammam and changed my clothes. I had no money by me now; so Satan
whispered temptation to me that the Decree of Destiny be carried
out. Next day I took the jewelled necklace to the bazaar and
handed it to a broker who made me sit down in the shop of the
jeweller, my landlord, and bade me have patience till the market
was full,[FN#594] when he carried off the ornament and proclaimed
it for sale, privily and without my knowledge. The necklet was
priced as worth two thousand dinars, but the broker returned to
me and said, "This collar is of copper, a mere counterfeit after
the fashion of the Franks[FN#595] and a thousand dirhams have
been bidden for it." "Yes," I answered, "I knew it to be copper,
as we had it made for a certain person that we might mock her:
now my wife hath inherited it and we wish to sell it; so go and
take over the thousand dirhams."--And Shahrazad perceived the
dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Twenty-ninth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the
beautiful youth said to the broker, "Take over the thousand
dirhams;" and when the broker heard this, he knew that the case
was suspicious. So he carried the collar to the Syndic of the
bazaar, and the Syndic took it to the Governor who was also
prefect of police, and said to him falsely enough, "This necklet
was stolen from my house, and we have found the thief in traders'
dress." So before I was aware of it the watch got round me and,
making me their prisoner, carried me before the Governor who
questioned me of the collar. I told him the tale I had told to
the broker; but he laughed and said, "These words are not true."
Then, before I knew what was doing, the guard stripped off my
clothes and came down with palm rods upon my ribs, till for the
smart of the stick I confessed, "It was I who stole it;" saying
to myself, "'Tis better for thee to say, I stole it, than to let
them know that its owner was murdered in thy house, for then
would they slay thee to avenge her." So they wrote down that I
had stolen it and they cut off my hand and scalded the stump in
oil,[FN#596] when I swooned away for pain; but they gave me wine
to drink and I recovered and, taking up my hand, was going to my
fine house, when my landlord said to me, "Inasmuch, O my son, as
this hath befallen thee, thou must leave my house and look out
for another lodging for thee, since thou art convicted of theft.
Thou art a handsome youth, but who will pity thee after this?" "O
my master" said I, "bear with me but two days or three, till I
find me another place." He answered, "So be it." and went away
and left me. I returned to the house where I sat weeping and
saying, How shall I go back to my own people with my hand lopped
off and they know not that I am innocent? Perchance even after
this Allah may order some matter for me." And I wept with
exceeding weeping, grief beset me and I remained in sore trouble
for two days; but on the third day my landlord came suddenly in
to me, and with him some of the guard and the Syndic of the
bazaar, who had falsely charged me with stealing the necklet. I
went up to them and asked, "What is the matter?" however, they
pinioned me with out further parley and threw a chain about my
neck, saying, "The necklet which was with thee hath proved to be
the property of the Wazir of Damascus who is also her Viceroy;"
and they added, "It was missing from his house three years ago at
the same time as his younger daughter." When I heard these words,
my heart sank within me and I said to myself, "Thy life is gone
beyond a doubt! By Allah, needs must I tell the Chief my story;
and, if he will, let him kill me, and if he please, let him
pardon me." So they carried me to the Wazir's house and made me
stand between his hands. When he saw me, he glanced at me out of
the corner of his eye and said to those present, "Why did ye lop
off his hand? This man is unfortunate, and there is no fault in
him; indeed ye have wronged him in cutting off his hand." When I
heard this, I took heart and, my soul presaging good, I said to
him, "By Allah, O my lord, I am no thief; but they calumniated me
with a vile calumny, and they scourged me midmost the market,
bidding me confess till, for the pain of the rods, I lied against
myself and confessed the theft, albeit I am altogether innocent
of it." "Fear not," quoth the Viceroy, "no harm shall come to
thee." Then he ordered the Syndic of the bazaar to be imprisoned
and said to him, "Give this man the blood money for his hand;
and, if thou delay I will hang thee and seize all thy property."
Moreover he called to his guards who took him and dragged him
away, leaving me with the Chief. Then they loosed by his command
the chain from my neck and unbound my arms; and he looked at me,
and said, "O my son, be true with me, and tell me how this
necklace came to thee." And he repeated these verses:--

"Truth best befits thee, albeit truth * Shall bring thee to burn
on the threatened fire."

"By Allah, O my lord," answered I, "I will tell thee nothing but
the truth." Then I related to him all that had passed between me
and the first lady, and how she had brought me the second and had
slain her out of jealousy, and I detailed for him the tale to its
full. When he heard my story, he shook his head and struck his
right hand upon the left,[FN#597] and putting his kerchief over
his face wept awhile and then repeated:--

"I see the woes of the world abound, * And worldings sick with
spleen and teen;
There's One who the meeting of two shall part, * And who part not
are few and far between!"

Then he turned to me and said, "Know, O my son, that the elder
damsel who first came to thee was my daughter whom I used to keep
closely guarded. When she grew up, I sent her to Cairo and
married her to her cousin, my brother's son. After a while he
died and she came back: but she had learnt wantonness and
ungraciousness from the people of Cairo;[FN#598] so she visited
thee four times and at last brought her younger sister. Now they
were sisters-german and much attached to each other; and, when
that adventure happened to the elder, she disclosed her secret to
her sister who desired to go out with her. So she asked thy leave
and carried her to thee; after which she returned alone and,
finding her weeping, I questioned her of her sister, but she
said, 'I know nothing of her.' However, she presently told her
mother privily of what had happened and how she had cut off her
sister's head and her mother told me. Then she ceased not to weep
and say, 'By Allah! I shall cry for her till I die.' Nor did she
give over mourning till her heart broke and she died; and things
fell out after that fashion. See then, O my son, what hath come
to pass; and now I desire thee not to thwart me in what I am
about to offer thee, and it is that I purpose to marry thee to my
youngest daughter; for she is a virgin and born of another
mother;[FN#599] and I will take no dower of thee but, on the
contrary, will appoint thee an allowance, and thou shalt abide
with me in my house in the stead of my son." "So be it," I
answered, "and how could I hope for such good fortune?" Then he
sent at once for the Kazi and witnesses, and let write my
marriage contract with his daughter and I went in to her.
Moreover, he got me from the Syndic of the bazaar a large sum of
money and I became in high favour with him. During this year news
came to me that my father was dead and the Wazir despatched a
courier, with letters bearing the royal sign manual, to fetch me
the money which my father had left behind him, and now I am
living in all the solace of life. Such was the manner of the
cutting off my right hand." I marvelled at his story (continued
the Jew), and I abode with him three days after which he gave me
much wealth, and I set out and travelled Eastward till I reached
this your city and the sojourn suited me right well; so I took up
my abode here and there befell me what thou knowest with the
Hunchback. There upon the King of China shook his head[FN#600]
and said, "This story of thine is not stranger and more wondrous
and marvellous and delectable than the tale of the Hunchback; and
so needs must I hang the whole number of you. However there yet
remains the Tailor who is the head of all the offence;" and he
added, "O Tailor, if thou canst tell me any thing more wonderful
than the story of the Hunchback, I will pardon you all your
offences." Thereupon the man came forward and began to tell the

Tale of the Tailor.

Know, O King of the age, that most marvellous was that which
befell me but yesterday, before I foregathered with the Hunch
back. It so chanced that in the early day I was at the marriage
feast of one of my companions, who had gotten together in his
house some twenty of the handicraftsmen of this city, amongst
them tailors and silk spinners and carpenters and others of the
same kidney. As soon as the sun had risen, they set food[FN#601]
before us that we might eat when behold, the master of the house
entered, and with him a foreign youth and a well favoured of the
people of Baghdad, wearing clothes as handsome as handsome could
be; and he was of right comely presence save that he was lame of
one leg. He came and saluted us and we stood up to receive him;
but when he was about to sit down he espied amongst us a certain
man which was a Barber; whereupon he refused to be seated and
would have gone away. But we stopped him and our host also stayed
him, making oath that he should not leave us and asked him, "What
is the reason of thy coming in and going out again at once?";
whereto he answered, "By Allah, O my lord, do not hinder me; for
the cause of my turning back is yon Barber of bad omen,[FN#602]
yon black o'face, yon ne'er do well!" When the housemaster heard
these words he marvelled with extreme marvel and said, "How
cometh this young man, who haileth from Baghdad, to be so
troubled and perplexed about this Barber?" Then we looked at the
stranger and said, "Explain the cause of thine anger against the
Barber." "O fair company," quoth the youth, "there befell me a
strange adventure with this Barber in Baghdad (which is my native
city); he was the cause of the breaking of my leg and of my
lameness, and I have sworn never to sit in the same place with
him, nor even tarry in any town where he happens to abide; and I
have bidden adieu to Baghdad and travelled far from it and came
to stay in this your city; yet I have hardly passed one night
before I meet him again. But not another day shall go by ere I
fare forth from here." Said we to him, "Allah upon thee, tell us
the tale;" and the youth replied (the Barber changing colour from
brown to yellow as he spoke): Know, O fair company, that my
father was one of the chief merchants of Baghdad, and Almighty
Allah had blessed him with no son but myself. When I grew up and
reached man's estate, my father was received into the mercy of
Allah (whose Name be exalted!) and left me money and eunuchs,
servants and slaves; and I used to dress well and diet well. Now
Allah had made me a hater of women kind and one day, as I was
walking along a street in Baghdad, a party of females met me face
to face in the footway; so I fled from them and, entering an
alley which was no thoroughfare, sat down upon a stone bench at
its other end. I had not sat there long before the latticed
window of one of the houses opposite was thrown open, and there
appeared at it a young lady, as she were the full moon at its
fullest; never in my life saw I her like; and she began to water
some flowers on the window sill.[FN#603] She turned right and
left and, seeing me watching her, shut the window and went away.
Thereupon fire was suddenly enkindled in my heart; my mind was
possessed with her and my woman hate turned to woman love. I
continued sitting there, lost to the world, till sunset when lo!
the Kazi of the city came riding by with his slaves before him
and his eunuchs behind him, and dismounting entered the house in
which the damsel had appeared. By this I knew that he was her
father; so I went home sorrowful and cast myself upon my carpet
bed in grief. Then my handmaids flocked in and sat about me,
unknowing what ailed me; but I addressed no speech to them, and
they wept and wailed over me. Presently in came an old woman who
looked at me and saw with a glance what was the matter with me:
so she by my head spoke me fair, saying, "O my son, tell me all
about it and I will be the means of thy union with her."[FN#604]
So I related to her what had happened and she answered, "O my
son, this one is the daughter of the Kazi of Baghdad who keepeth
her in the closest seclusion; and the window where thou sawest
her is her floor, whilst her father occupies the large saloon in
the lower story. She is often there alone and I am wont to visit
at the house; so thou shalt not win to her save through me. Now
set thy wits to work and be of good cheer." With these words she
went away and I took heart at what she said and my people
rejoiced that day, seeing me rise in the morning safe and sound.
By and by the old woman returned looking chopfallen,[FN#605] and
said, "O my son, do not ask me how I fared with her! When I told
her that, she cried at me, 'If thou hold not thy peace, O hag of
ill omen, and leave not such talk, I will entreat thee as thou
deservest and do thee die by the foulest of deaths.' But needs
must I have at her a second time."[FN#606] When I heard this it
added ailment to my ailment and the neighbours visited me and
judged that I was not long for this world; but after some days,
the old woman came to me and, putting her mouth close to my ear,
whispered, "O my son; I claim from thee the gift of good news."
With this my soul returned to me and I said, "Whatever thou wilt
shall be thine." Thereupon she began, "Yesterday I went to the
young lady who, seeing me broken in spirit and shedding tears
from reddened eyes, asked me, 'O naunty[FN#607] mine, what ails
thee, that I see thy breast so straitened?'; and I answered her,
weeping bitterly, 'O my lady, I am just come from the house of a
youth who loves thee and who is about to die for sake of thee!'
Quoth she (and her heart was softened), 'And who is this youth of
whom thou speakest?'; and quoth I, 'He is to me as a son and the
fruit of my vitals. He saw thee, some days ago, at the window
watering thy flowers and espying thy face and wrists he fell in
love at first sight. I let him know what happened to me the last
time I was with thee, whereupon his ailment increased, he took to
the pillow and he is naught now but a dead man, and no doubt what
ever of it.' At this she turned pale and asked, 'All this for my
sake?'; and I answered, 'Ay, by Allah![FN#608] what wouldst thou
have me do?' Said she, 'Go back to him and greet him for me and
tell him that I am twice more heartsick than he is. And on
Friday, before the hour of public prayer, bid him here to the
house, and I will come down and open the door for him. Then I
will carry him up to my chamber and foregather with him for a
while, and let him depart before my father return from the
Mosque.'" When I heard the old woman's words, all my sickness
suddenly fell from me, my anguish ceased and my heart was
comforted; I took off what clothes were on me and gave them to
her and, as she turned to go, she said, "Keep a good heart!" "I
have not a jot of sorrow left." I replied. My household and
intimates rejoiced in my recovery and I abode thus till Friday,
when behold, the old woman came in and asked me how I did, to
which I answered that I was well and in good case. Then I donned
my clothes and perfumed myself and sat down to await the
congregation going in to prayers, that I might betake myself to
her. But the old woman said to me, "Thou hast time and to spare:
so thou wouldst do well to go to the Hammam and have thy hair
shaven off (especially after thy ailment), so as not to show
traces of sickness." "This were the best way," answered I, "I
have just now bathed in hot water, but I will have my head
shaved." Then I said to my page, "Go to the bazaar and bring me a
barber, a discreet fellow and one not inclined to meddling or
impertinent curiosity or likely to split my head with his
excessive talk."[FN#609] The boy went out at once and brought
back with him this wretched old man, this Shaykh of ill omen.
When he came in he saluted me and I returned his salutation; then
quoth he, "Of a truth I see thee thin of body;" and quoth I, "I
have been ailing." He continued, "Allah drive far away from thee
thy woe and thy sorrow and thy trouble and thy distress." "Allah
grant thy prayer!" said I. He pursued, "All gladness to thee, O
my master, for indeed recovery is come to thee. Dost thou wish to
be polled or to be blooded? Indeed it was a tradition of Ibn
Abbas[FN#610] (Allah accept of him!) that the Apostle said,
'Whoso cutteth his hair on a Friday, the Lord shall avert from
him threescore and ten calamities;' and again is related of him
also that he said, 'Cupping on a Friday keepeth from loss of
sight and a host of diseases.'" "Leave this talk," I cried;
"come, shave me my head at once for I can't stand it." So he rose
and put forth his hand in most leisurely way and took out a
kerchief and unfolded it, and lo! it contained an
astrolabe[FN#611] with seven parallel plates mounted in silver.
Then he went to the middle of the court and raised head and
instrument towards the sun's rays and looked for a long while.
When this was over, he came back and said to me, "Know that there
have elapsed of this our day, which be Friday, and this Friday be
the tenth of the month Safar in the six hundred and fifty- third
year since the Hegira or Flight of the Apostle (on whom be the
bestest of blessings and peace!) and the seven thousand three
hundred and twentieth year of the era of Alexander, eight degrees
and six minutes. Furthermore the ascendant of this our day is,
according to the exactest science of computation, the planet
Mars; and it so happeneth that Mercury is in conjunction with
him, denoting an auspicious moment for hair cutting; and this
also maketh manifest to me that thou desires union with a certain
person and that your intercourse will not be propitious. But
after this there occurreth a sign respecting a matter which will
befall thee and whereof I will not speak." "O thou," cried I, "by
Allah, thou weariest me and scatterest my wits and thy forecast
is other than good; I sent for thee to poll my head and naught
else: so up and shave me and prolong not thy speech." "By Allah,"
replied he, "if thou but knew what is about to befall thee, thou
wouldst do nothing this day, and I counsel thee to act as I tell
thee by computation of the constellations." "By Allah," said I,
"never did I see a barber who excelled in judicial astrology save
thyself: but I think and I know that thou art most prodigal of
frivolous talk. I sent for thee only to shave my head, but thou
comest and pesterest me with this sorry prattle." "What more
wouldst thou have?" replied he. "Allah hath bounteously bestowed
on thee a Barber who is an astrologer, one learned in alchemy and
white magic;[FN#612] syntax, grammar, and lexicology; the arts of
logic, rhetoric and elocution; mathematics, arithmetic and
algebra; astronomy, astromancy and geometry; theology, the
Traditions of the Apostle and the Commentaries on the Koran.
Furthermore, I have read books galore and digested them and have
had experience of affairs and comprehended them. In short I have
learned the theorick and the practick of all the arts and
sciences; I know everything of them by rote and I am a past
master in tota re scibili. Thy father loved me for my lack of
officiousness, argal, to serve thee is a religious duty incumbent
on me. I am no busy body as thou seemest to suppose, and on this
account I am known as The Silent Man, also, The Modest Man.
Wherefore it behoveth thee to render thanks to Allah Almighty and
not cross me, for I am a true counsellor to thee and benevolently
minded towards thee. Would that I were in thy service a whole
year that thou mightest do me justice; and I would ask thee no
wage for all this." When I heard his flow of words, I said to
him, "Doubtless thou wilt be my death this day!"--And Shahrazad
perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Thirtieth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the young
man said to the Barber, "Thou certainly will be the death of me
this very day!" "O master mine," replied he, "I am he, The Silent
Man hight, by reason of the fewness of my words, to distinguish
me from my six brothers. For the eldest is called Al-Bakbuk, the
prattler; the second Al-Haddar, the babbler; the third Al-Fakik,
the gabbler; the fourth, his name is Al-Kuz al-aswani, the long
necked Gugglet, from his eternal chattering; the fifth is Al-
Nashshar, the tattler and tale teller; the sixth Shakashik, or
many clamours; and the seventh is famous as Al-Samit, The Silent
Man, and this is my noble self!" Whilst he redoubled his talk, I
thought my gall bladder would have burst; so I said to the
servant, "Give him a quarter dinar and dismiss him and let him go
from me in the name of God who made him. I won't have my head
shaved to day." "What words be these, O my lord?" cried he. "By
Allah! I will accept no hire of thee till I have served thee and
have ministered to thy wants; and I care not if I never take
money of thee. If thou know not my quality, I know thine; and I
owe thy father, an honest man, on whom Allah Almighty have mercy!
many a kindness, for he was a liberal soul and a generous. By
Allah, he sent for me one day, as it were this blessed day, and I
went in to him and found a party of his intimates about him.
Quoth he to me, 'Let me blood;' so I pulled out my astrolabe and,
taking the sun's altitude for him, I ascertained that the
ascendant was inauspicious and the hour unfavourable for
brooding. I told him of this, and he did according to my bidding
and awaited a better opportunity. So I made these lines in honour
of him:--

I went to my patron some blood to let him, * But found that the
moment was far from good:
So I sat and I talked of all strangenesses, * And with jests and
jokes his good will I wooed:
They pleased him and cried he, 'O man of wit, * Thou hast proved
thee perfect in merry mood!'
Quoth I, 'O thou Lord of men, save thou * Lend me art and
wisdom I'm fou and wood
In thee gather grace, boon, bounty, suavity, * And I guerdon the
world with lore, science and gravity.'

Thy father was delighted and cried out to the servant, 'Give him
an hundred and three gold pieces with a robe of honour!' The man
obeyed his orders, and I awaited an auspicious moment, when I
blooded him; and he did not baulk me; nay he thanked me and I was
also thanked and praised by all present. When the blood-letting
was over I had no power to keep silence and asked him, 'By Allah,
O my lord, what made thee say to the servant, Give him an hundred
and three dinars?'; and he answered, 'One dinar was for the
astrological observation, another for thy pleasant conversation,
the third for the phlebotomisation, and the remaining hundred and
the dress were for thy verses in my commendation.'" "May Allah
show small mercy to my father," exclaimed I, "for knowing the
like of thee." He laughed and ejaculated, "There is no god but
the God and Mohammed is the Apostle of God! Glory to Him that
changeth and is changed not! I took thee for a man of sense, but
I see thou babblest and dotest for illness. Allah hath said in
the Blessed Book,[FN#613] 'Paradise is prepared for the goodly
who bridle their anger and forgive men.' and so forth; and in any
case thou art excused. Yet I cannot conceive the cause of thy
hurry and flurry; and thou must know that thy father and thy
grandfather did nothing without consulting me, and indeed it hath
been said truly enough, 'Let the adviser be prized'; and, 'There
is no vice in advice'; and it is also said in certain saws,
'Whoso hath no counsellor elder than he, will never himself an
elder be';[FN#614] and the poet says:--

Whatever needful thing thou undertake, * Consult th' experienced
and contraire him not!

And indeed thou shalt never find a man better versed in affairs
than I, and I am here standing on my feet to serve thee. I am not
vexed with thee: why shouldest thou be vexed with me? But
whatever happen I will bear patiently with thee in memory of the
much kindness thy father shewed me." "By Allah," cried I, "O thou
with tongue long as the tail of a jackass, thou persistest in
pestering me with thy prate and thou becomest more longsome in
thy long speeches, when all I want of thee is to shave my head
and wend thy way!" Then he lathered my head saying, "I perceive
thou art vexed with me, but I will not take it ill of thee, for
thy wit is weak and thou art but a laddy: it was only yesterday I
used to take thee on my shoulder[FN#615] and carry thee to
school.' "O my brother," said I, "for Allah's sake do what I want
and go thy gait!" And I rent my garments.[FN#616] When he saw me
do this he took the razor and fell to sharpening it and gave not
over stropping it until my senses were well nigh leaving me. Then
he came up to me and shaved part of my head; then he held his
hand and then he said, "O my lord, haste is Satan's gait whilst
patience is of Allah the Compassionate. But thou, O my master, I
ken thou knowest not my rank; for verily this hand alighteth upon
the heads of Kings and Emirs and Wazirs, and sages and doctors
learned in the law, and the poet said of one like me:--

All crafts are like necklaces strung on a string, * But this
Barber's the union pear of the band:
High over all craftsmen he ranketh, and why? * The heads of the
Kings are under his hand!"[FN#617]

Then said I, "Do leave off talking about what concerneth thee
not: indeed thou hast straitened my breast and distracted my
mind." Quoth he, "Meseems thou art a hasty man;" and quoth I,
"Yes ! yes! yes!" and he, "I rede thee practice restraint of
self, for haste is Satan's pelf which bequeatheth only repentance
and ban and bane, and He (upon whom be blessings and peace!) hath
said, 'The best of works is that wherein deliberation lurks;' but
I, by Allah! have some doubt about thine affair; and so I should
like thee to let me know what it is thou art in such haste to do,
for I fear me it is other than good." Then he continued, "It
wanteth three hours yet to prayer time; but I do not wish to be
in doubt upon this matter; nay, I must know the moment exactly,
for truly, 'A guess shot in times of doubt, oft brings harm
about;' especially in the like of me, a superior person whose
merits are famous amongst mankind at large; and it doth not befit
me to talk at random, as do the common sort of astrologers." So
saying, he threw down the razor and taking up the astrolabe, went
forth under the sun and stood there a long time; after which he
returned and counting on his fingers said to me, "There remain
still to prayer time three full hours and complete, neither more
nor yet less, according to the most learned astronomicals and the
wisest makers of almanacks." "Allah upon thee," cried I, "hold
thy tongue with me, for thou breakest my liver in pieces." So he
took the razor and, after sharpening it as before and shaving
other two hairs of my head, he again held his hand and said, "I
am concerned about thy hastiness and indeed thou wouldst do well
to let me into the cause of it; 't were the better for thee, as
thou knowest that neither thy father nor thy grandfather ever did
a single thing save by my advice." When I saw that there was no
escape from him I said to myself, "The time for prayer draws near
and I wish to go to her before the folk come out of the mosque.
If I am delayed much longer, I know not how to come at her." Then
said I aloud, "Be quick and stint this talk and impertinence, for
I have to go to a party at the house of some of my intimates."
When he heard me speak of the party, he said, "This thy day is a
blessed day for me! In very sooth it was but yesterday I invited
a company of my friends and I have forgotten to provide anything
for them to eat. This very moment I was thinking of it: Alas, how
I shall be disgraced in their eyes!" "Be not distressed about
this matter," answered I; "have I not told thee that I am bidden
to an entertainment this day? So every thing in my house, eatable
and drinkable, shall be thine, if thou wilt only get through thy
work and make haste to shave my head." He replied, "Allah requite
thee with good! Specify to me what is in thy house for my guests
that I may be ware of it." Quoth I, "Five dishes of meat and ten
chickens with reddened breasts[FN#618] and a roasted lamb." "Set
them before me," quoth he "that I may see them." So I told my
people to buy, borrow or steal them and bring them in anywise,
And had all this set before him. When he saw it he cried, "The
wine is wanting," and I replied, "I have a flagon or two of good
old grape- juice in the house," and he said, "Have it brought
out!" So I sent for it and he exclaimed, "Allah bless thee for a
generous disposition! But there are still the essences and
perfumes." So I bade them set before him a box containing
Nadd,[FN#619] the best of compound perfumes, together with fine
lign-aloes, ambergris and musk unmixed, the whole worth fifty
dinars. Now the time waxed strait and my heart straitened with
it; so I said to him, "Take it all and finish shaving my head by
the life of Mohammed (whom Allah bless and keep!)." "By Allah,"
said he, "I will not take it till I see all that is in it." So I
bade the page open the box and the Barber laid down the
astrolabe, leaving the greater part of my head unpolled; and,
sitting on the ground, turned over the scents and incense and
aloes wood and essences till I was well nigh distraught. Then he
took the razor and coming up to me shaved off some few hairs and
repeated these lines:--

"The boy like his father shall surely show, * As the tree from
its parent root shall grow."[FN#620]

Then said he, "By Allah, O my son, I know not whether to thank
thee or thy father; for my entertainment this day is all due to
thy bounty and beneficence; and, although none of my company be
worthy of it, yet I have a set of honourable men, to wit Zantut
the bath-keeper and Sali'a the corn-chandler; and Silat the bean-
seller; and Akrashah the greengrocer; and Humayd the scavenger;
and Sa'id the camel-man; and Suwayd the porter; and Abu Makarish
the bathman;[FN#621] and Kasim the watchman; and Karim the groom.
There is not among the whole of them a bore or a bully in his
cups; nor a meddler nor a miser of his money, and each and every
hath some dance which he danceth and some of his own couplets
which he caroleth; and the best of them is that, like thy
servant, thy slave here, they know not what much talking is nor
what forwardness means. The bath keeper sings to the tom-
tom[FN#622] a song which enchants; and he stands up and dances
and chants,

'I am going, O mammy, to fill up my pot.'

As for the corn-chandler he brings more skill to it than any; he
dances and sings,

'O Keener,[FN#623] 0 sweetheart, thou fallest not short'

and he leaves no one's vitals sound for laughing at him. But the
scavenger sings so that the birds stop to listen to him and
dances and sings,

'News my wife wots is not locked in a box!'[FN#624]

And he hath privilege, for 'tis a shrewd rogue[FN#625] and a
witty; and speaking of his excellence I am wont to say,

My life for the scavenger! right well I love him, * Like a waving
bough he is sweet to my sight:
Fate joined us one night, when to him quoth I * (The while I grew
weak and love gained more might)
'Thy love burns my heart!' 'And no wonder,' quoth he * 'When the
drawer of dung turns a stoker wight.'[FN#626]

And indeed each is perfect in whatso can charm the wit with joy
and jollity;" adding presently, "But hearing is not seeing; and
indeed if thou make up thy mind to join us and put off going to
thy friends, 'twill be better for us and for thee. The traces of
illness are yet upon thee and haply thou art going among folk who
be mighty talkers, men who commune together of what concerneth
them not; or there may be amongst them some forward fellow who
will split thy head, and thou half thy size from sickness." "This
shall be for some other day," answered I, and laughed with heart
angered: "finish thy work and go, in Allah Almighty's guard, to
thy friends, for they will be expecting thy coming." "O my lord,"
replied he, "I seek only to introduce thee to these fellows of
infinite mirth, the sons of men of worth, amongst whom there is
neither procacity nor dicacity nor loquacity; for never, since I
grew to years of discretion, could I endure to consort with one
who asketh questions concerning what concerneth him not, nor have
I ever frequented any save those who are, like myself, men of few
words. In sooth if thou were to company with them or even to see
them once, thou wouldst forsake all thy intimates." "Allah fulfil
thy joyance with them," said I, "needs must I come amongst them
some day or other." But he said, "Would it were this very day,
for I had set my heart upon thy making one of us; yet if thou
must go to thy friends to day, I will take these good things,
wherewith thou hast honoured and favoured me, to my guests and
leave them to eat and drink and not wait for me; whilst I will
return to thee in haste and accompany thee to thy little party;
for there is no ceremony between me and my intimates to prevent
my leaving them. Fear not, I will soon be back with thee and wend
with thee whithersoever thou wendest. There is no Majesty and
there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!" I
shouted, "Go thou to thy friends and make merry with them; and do
let me go to mine and be with them this day, for they expect me."
But the Barber cried, "I will not let thee go alone;" and I
replied, "The truth is none can enter where I am going save
myself." He rejoined, "I suspect that to day thou art for an
assignation with some woman, else thou hadst taken me with thee;
yet am I the right man to take, one who could aid thee to the end
thou wishest. But I fear me thou art running after strange women
and thou wilt lose thy life; for in this our city of Baghdad one
cannot do any thing in this line, especially on a day like
Friday: our Governor is an angry man and a mighty sharp blade."
"Shame on thee, thou wicked, bad, old man!" cried I, "Be off!
what words are these thou givest me?" "O cold of wit,"[FN#627]
cried he, "thou sayest to me what is not true and thou hidest thy
mind from me, but I know the whole business for certain and I
seek only to help thee this day with my best endeavour." I was
fearful lest my people or my neighbours should hear the Barber's
talk, so I kept silence for a long time whilst he finished
shaving my head; by which time the hour of prayer was come and
the Khutbah, or sermon, was about to follow. When he had done, I
said to him, "Go to thy friends with their meat and drink, and I
will await thy return. Then we will fare together." In this way I
hoped to pour oil on troubled waters and to trick the accursed
loon, so haply I might get quit of him; but he said, "Thou art
cozening me and thou wouldst go alone to thy appointment and cast
thyself into jeopardy, whence there will be no escape for thee.
Now by Allah! and again by Allah! do not go till I return, that I
may accompany thee and watch the issue of thine affair." "So be
it," I replied, "do not be long absent." Then he took all the
meat and drink I had given him and the rest of it and went out of
my house; but the accursed carle gave it in charge of a porter to
carry to his home but hid himself in one of the alleys. As for me
I rose on the instant, for the Muezzins had already called the
Salam of Friday, the salute to the Apostle;[FN#628] and I dressed
in haste and went out alone and, hurrying to the street, took my
stand by the house wherein I had seen the young lady. I found the
old woman on guard at the door awaiting me, and went up with her
to the upper story, the damsel's apartment. Hardly had I reached
it when behold, the master of the house returned from prayers and
entering the great saloon, closed the door. I looked down from
the window and saw this Barber (Allah's curse upon him!) sitting
over against the door and said, "How did this devil find me out?"
At this very moment, as Allah had decreed it for rending my veil
of secrecy, it so happened that a handmaid of the house master
committed some offence for which he beat her. She shrieked out
and his slave ran in to intercede for her, whereupon the Kazi
beat him to boot, and he also roared out. The damned Barber
fancied that it was I who was being beaten; so he also fell to
shouting and tore his garments and scattered dust on his head and
kept on shrieking and crying "Help ! Help !" So the people came
round about him and he went on yelling, "My master is being
murdered in the Kazi's house!" Then he ran clamouring to my place
with the folk after him, and told my people and servants and
slaves; and, before I knew what was doing, up they came tearing
their clothes and letting loose their hair[FN#629] and shouting,
"Alas, our master!"; and this Barber leading the rout with his
clothes rent and in sorriest plight; and he also shouting like a
madman and saying, "Alas for our murdered master!" And they all
made an assault upon the house in which I was. The Kazi, hearing
the yells and the uproar at his door, said to one of his
servants, "See what is the matter"; and the man went forth and
returned and said, "O my master, at the gate there are more than
ten thousand souls what with men and women, and all crying out,
'Alas for our murdered master!'; and they keep pointing to our
house." When the Kazi heard this, the matter seemed serious and
he waxed wroth; so he rose and opening the door saw a great crowd
of people; whereat he was astounded and said, "O folk! what is
there to do?" "O accursed! O dog! O hog!" my servants replied;
"'Tis thou who hast killed our master!" Quoth he, "O good folk,
and what hath your master done to me that I should kill him?"--
And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her
permitted say.

When it was the Thirty-first Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Kazi
said to the servants, "What hath your master done to me that I
should kill him? This is my house and it is open to you all."
Then quoth the Barber, "Thou didst beat him and I heard him cry
out;" and quoth the Kazi, "But what was he doing that I should
beat him, and what brought him in to my house; and whence came he
and whither went he?" "Be not a wicked, perverse old man!" cried
the Barber, "for I know the whole story; and the long and short
of it is that thy daughter is in love with him and he loves her;
and when thou knewest that he had entered the house, thou badest
thy servants beat him and they did so: by Allah, none shall judge
between us and thee but the Caliph; or else do thou bring out our
master that his folk may take him, before they go in and save him
perforce from thy house, and thou be put to shame." Then said the
Kazi (and his tongue was bridled and his mouth was stopped by
confusion before the people), "An thou say sooth, do thou come in
and fetch him out." Whereupon the Barber pushed forward and
entered the house. When I saw this I looked about for a means of
escape and flight, but saw no hiding place except a great chest
in the upper chamber where I was. So I got into it and pulled the
lid down upon myself and held my breath. The Barber was hardly in
the room before he began to look about for me, then turned him
right and left and came straight to the place where I was, and
stepped up to the chest and, lifting it on his head, made off as
fast as he could. At this, my reason forsook me, for I knew that
he would not let me be; so I took courage and opening the chest
threw myself to the ground. My leg was broken in the fall, and
the door being open I saw a great concourse of people looking in.
Now I carried in my sleeve much gold and some silver, which I had
provided for an ill day like this and the like of such occasion;
so I kept scattering it amongst the folk to divert their
attention from me and, whilst they were busy scrambling for it, I
set off, hopping as fast as I could, through the by streets of
Baghdad, shifting and turning right and left. But whithersoever I
went this damned Barber would go in after me, crying aloud, "They
would have bereft me of my master! They would have slain him who
was a benefactor to me and my family and my friends! Praised be
Allah who made me prevail against them and delivered my lord from
their hands!" Then to me, "Where wilt thou go now? Thou wouldst
persist in following thine own evil devices, till thou broughtest
thyself to this ill pass; and, had not Allah vouchsafed me to
thee, ne'er hadst thou escaped this strait into which thou hast
fallen, for they would have cast thee into a calamity whence thou
never couldest have won free. But I will not call thee to account
for thine ignorance, as thou art so little of wit and
inconsequential and addicted to hastiness!" Said I to him, "Doth
not what thou hast brought upon me suffice thee, but thou must
run after me and talk me such talk in the bazaar streets?" And I
well nigh gave up the ghost for excess of rage against him. Then
I took refuge in the shop of a weaver amiddlemost of the market
and sought protection of the owner who drove the Barber away;
and, sitting in the back room,[FN#630] I said to myself, "If I
return home I shall never be able to get rid of this curse of a
Barber, who will be with me night and day; and I cannot endure
the sight of him even for a breathing space." So I sent out at
once for witnesses and made a will, dividing the greater part of
my property among my people, and appointed a guardian over them,
to whom I committed the charge of great and small, directing him
to sell my houses and domains. Then I set out on my travels that
I might be free of this pimp;[FN#631] and I came to settle in
your town where I have lived some time. When you invited me and I
came hither, the first thing I saw was this accursed pander
seated in the place of honour. How then can my heart be glad and
my stay be pleasant in company with this fellow who brought all
this upon me, and who was the cause of the breaking of my leg and
of my exile from home and native land. And the youth refused to
sit down and went away. When we heard his story (continued the
Tailor) we were amazed beyond measure and amused and said to the
Barber, "By Allah, is it true what this young man saith of thee?"
"By Allah," replied he, "I dealt thus by him of my courtesy and
sound sense and generosity. Had it not been for me he had
perished and none but I was the cause of his escape. Well it was
for him that he suffered in his leg and not in his life! Had I
been a man of many words, a meddler, a busy body, I had not acted
thus kindly by him; but now I will tell you a tale which befell
me, that you may be well assured I am a man sparing of speech in
whom is no forwardness and a very different person from those six
Brothers of mine; and this it is."

The Barber's Tale of Himself.

I was living in Baghdad during the times of Al-Mustansir
bi'llah,[FN#632] Son of Al-Mustazi bi'llah the then Caliph, a
prince who loved the poor and needy and companied with the
learned and pious. One day it happened to him that he was wroth
with ten persons, highwaymen who robbed on the Caliph's highway,
and he ordered the Prefect of Baghdad to bring them into the
presence on the anniversary of the Great Festival.[FN#633] So the
Prefect sallied out and, making them His prisoners, embarked with
them in a boat. I caught sight of them as they were embarking and
said to myself, "These are surely assembled for a marriage feast;
methinks they are spending their day in that boat eating and
drinking, and none shall be companion of their cups but I
myself." So I rose, O fair assembly; and, of the excess of my
courtesy and the gravity of my understanding, I embarked with
them and entered into conversation with them. They rowed across
to the opposite bank, where they landed and there came up the
watch and guardians of the peace with chains, which they put
round the robbers' necks. They chained me among the rest of them;
and, O people, is it not a proof of my courtesy and spareness of
speech, that I held my peace and did not please to speak? Then
they took us away in bilbos and next morning carried us all
before Al- Mustansir bi'llah, Commander of the Faithful, who bade
smite the necks of the ten robbers. So the Sworder came forward
after they were seated on the leather of blood;[FN#634] then
drawing his blade, struck off one head after another until he had
smitten the neck of the tenth; and I alone remained. The Caliph
looked at me and asked the Heads man, saying, "What ails thee
that thou hast struck off only nine heads?"; and he answered,
"Allah forbid that I should behead only nine, when thou biddest
me behead ten!" Quoth the Caliph, "Meseems thou hast smitten the
necks of only nine, and this man before thee is the tenth." "By
thy beneficence!" replied the Headsman, "I have beheaded ten."
"Count them!" cried the Caliph and whenas they counted heads, lo!
there were ten. The Caliph looked at me and said, "What made thee
keep silence at a time like this and how camest thou to company
with these men of blood? Tell me the cause of all this, for
albeit thou art a very old man, assuredly thy wits are weak." Now
when I heard these words from the Caliph I sprang to my feet and
replied, "Know, O Prince of the Faithful, that I am the Silent


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