The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night, Volume 4
Richard F. Burton

Part 3 out of 7

Who never hath done evil,* Doing good for sole delight?
When tried the sons of worldli-* ness they mostly work upright."

Quoth Ibrahim, "Now when I heard these couplets, I withdrew my
woman's veil from my head and cried out, with my loudest voice,
'Allah is Most Great! By Allah, the Commander of the Faithful
pardoneth me!' Quoth he, 'No harm shall come to thee, O uncle;'
and I rejoined, 'O Commander of the Faithful, my sin is too sore
for me to excuse it and thy mercy is too much for me to speak
thanks for it.' And I chanted these couplets to a lively motive,

'Who made all graces all collected He * In Adam's loins, our
Seventh Imam, for thee,[FN#160]
Thou hast the hearts of men with reverence filled, * Enguarding
all with heart-humility
Rebelled I never by delusion whelmed * For object other than thy
clemency ;[FN#161]
And thou hast pardoned me whose like was ne'er * Pardoned before,
though no man pled my plea:
Hast pitied little ones like Katá's[FN#162] young, * And mother's
yearning heart a son to see.'

Quoth Maamun, 'I say, following our lord Joseph (on whom and on
our Prophet be blessing and peace!) let there be no reproach cast
on you this day. Allah forgiveth you; for He is the most merciful
of those who show mercy.[FN#163] Indeed I pardon thee, and
restore to thee thy goods and lands, O uncle, and no harm shall
befall thee.' So I offered up devout prayers for him and repeated
these couplets,

'Thou hast restored my wealth sans greed, and ere * So didst,
thou deignèdest my blood to spare:
Then if I shed my blood and wealth, to gain * Thy grace, till
even shoon from foot I tear,
Twere but repaying what thou lentest me, * And what unloaned no
man to blame would care:
Were I ungrateful for thy lavish boons, * Baser than thou'rt
beneficent I were!'

Then Al-Maamun showed me honour and favour and said to me, 'O
uncle, Abu Ishak and Al-Abbas counselled me to put thee to
death.' So I answered, 'And they both counselled thee right, O
Commander of the Faithful, but thou hast done after thine own
nature and hast put away what I feared with what I hoped.'
Rejoined Al Maamun, 'O uncle, thou didst extinguish my rancour
with the modesty of thine excuse, and I have pardoned thee
without making thee drink the bitterness of obligation to
intercessors.' Then he prostrated himself in prayer a long while,
after which he raised his head and said to me, 'O uncle, knowest
thou why I prostrated myself?' Answered I, 'Haply thou didst this
in thanksgiving to Allah, for that He hath given thee the mastery
over thine enemy.' He replied, 'Such was not my design, but
rather to thank Allah for having inspired me to pardon thee and
for having cleared my mind towards thee. Now tell me thy tale.'
So I told him all that had befallen me with the barber, the
trooper and his wife and with my freed-woman who had betrayed me.
So he summoned the freed-woman, who was in her house, expecting
the reward to be sent to her, and when she came before him he
said to her, 'What moved thee to deal thus with thy lord?' Quoth
she, 'Lust of money.' Asked the Caliph 'Hast thou a child or a
husband?'; and she answered 'No;' whereupon he bade them give her
an hundred stripes with a whip and imprisoned her for life. Then
he sent for the trooper and his wife and the barber-surgeon and
asked the soldier what had moved him to do thus. 'Lust of money,'
quoth he; whereupon quoth the Caliph, 'It befitteth thee to be a
barber-cupper,'[FN#164] and committed him to one whom he charged
to place him in a barber-cupper's shop, where he might learn the
craft. But he showed honour to the trooper's wife and lodged her
in his palace, saying, 'This is a woman of sound sense and fit
for matters of moment.' Then said he to the barber-cupper,
'Verily, thou hast shown worth and generosity which call for
extraordinary honour.' So he commanded the trooper's house and
all that was therein to be given him and bestowed on him a dress
of honour and in addition fifteen thousand dinars to be paid
annually. And men tell the following tale concerning


It is related that Abdullah bin Abi Kilábah went forth in quest
of a she-camel which had strayed from him; and, as he was
wandering in the deserts of Al-Yaman and the district of
Sabá,[FN#166] behold, he came upon a great city girt by a vast
castle around which were palaces and pavilions that rose high
into middle air. He made for the place thinking to find there
folk of whom he might ask concerning his she-camel; but, when he
reached it, he found it desolate, without a living soul in it. So
(quoth he) "I alighted and, hobbling my dromedary,"--And
Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her
permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Seventy-sixth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Abdullah
bin Abi Kilabah continued, "I dismounted and hobbling my
dromedary, and composing my mind, entered into the city. Now when
I came to the castle, I found it had two vast gates (never in the
world was seen their like for size height) inlaid with all manner
of jewels and jacinths, white and red, yellow and green.
Beholding this I marvelled with great marvel and thought the case
mighty wondrous; then entering the citadel in a flutter of fear
and dazed with surprise and affright, I found it long and wide,
about equalling Al-Medinah[FN#167] in point of size; and therein
were lofty palaces laid out in pavilions all built of gold and
silver and inlaid with many-coloured jewels and jacinths and
chrysolites and pearls. And the door-leaves in the pavilions were
like those of the castle for beauty; and their floors were strewn
with great pearls and balls, no smaller than hazel nuts, of musk
and ambergris and saffron. Now when I came within the heart of
the city and saw therein no created beings of the Sons of Adam I
was near swooning and dying for fear. Moreover, I looked down
from the great roofs of the pavilion-chambers and their balconies
and saw rivers running under them; and in the main streets were
fruit-laden trees and tall palms; and the manner of their
building was one brick of gold and one of silver. So I said in
myself, 'Doubtless this is the Paradise promised for the world to
come.' Then I loaded me with the jewels of its gravel and the
musk of its dust as much as I could carry and returned to my own
country, where I told the folk what I had seen. After a time the
news reached Mu'áwiyah, son of Abu Sufyán, who was then Caliph in
Al-Hijaz; so he wrote to his lieutenant in San'á of Al-Yaman to
send for the teller of the story and question him of the truth of
the case. Accordingly the lieutenant summoned me and questioned
me of my adventure and of all appertaining to it; and I told him
what I had seen, whereupon he despatched me to Mu'awiyah, before
whom I repeated the story of the strange sights; but he would not
credit it. So I brought out to him some of the pearls and balls
of musk and ambergris and saffron, in which latter there was
still some sweet savour; but the pearls were grown yellow and had
lost pearly colour."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and
ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Seventy-seventh Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Abdullah
son of Abu Kilabah continued, "But the pearls were grown yellow
and had lost pearly colour. Now Mu'awiyah wondered at this and,
sending for Ka'ab al-Ahbar[FN#168] said to him, 'O Ka'ab, I have
sent for thee to ascertain the truth of a certain matter and hope
that thou wilt be able to certify me thereof.' Asked Ka'ab, 'What
is it, O Commander of the Faithful?'; and Mu'awiyah answered,
'Wottest thou of any city founded by man which is builded of gold
and silver, the pillars whereof are of chrysolite and rubies and
its gravel pearls and balls of musk and ambergris and saffron?'
He replied, 'Yes, O Commander of the Faithful, this is 'Iram with
pillars decked and dight, the like of which was never made in the
lands,'[FN#169] and the builder was Shaddad son of Ad the
Greater.' Quoth the Caliph, 'Tell us something of its history,'
and Ka'ab said, 'Ad the Greater[FN#170] had two sons, Shadíd and
Shaddád who, when their father died, ruled conjointly in his
stead, and there was no King of the Kings of the earth but was
subject to them. After awhile Shadid died and his brother Shaddad
reigned over the earth alone. Now he was fond of reading in
antique books; and, happening upon the description of the world
to come and of Paradise, with its pavilions and galleries and
trees and fruits and so forth, his soul moved him to build the
like thereof in this world, after the fashion aforesaid. Now
under his hand were an hundred thousand Kings, each ruling over
an hundred thousand chiefs, commanding each an hundred thousand
warriors; so he called these all before him and said to them, 'I
find in ancient books and annals a description of Paradise, as it
is to be in the next world, and I desire to build me its like in
this world. Go ye forth therefore to the goodliest tract on earth
and the most spacious and build me there a city of gold and
silver, whose gravel shall be chrysolite and rubies and pearls;
and for support of its vaults make pillars of jasper. Fill it
with palaces, whereon ye shall set galleries and balconies and
plant its lanes and thoroughfares with all manner trees bearing
yellow-ripe fruits and make rivers to run through it in channels
of gold and silver.' Whereat said one and all, 'How are we able
to do this thing thou hast commanded, and whence shall we get the
chrysolites and rubies and pearls whereof thou speakest?' Quoth
he, 'What! weet ye not that the Kings of the world are subject to
me and under my hand and that none therein dare gainsay my word?'
Answered they, 'Yes, we know that.'"--And Shahrazad perceived the
dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Seventy-eighth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the lieges
answered, "Yes, we know that;" whereupon the King rejoined, "Fare
ye then to the mines of chrysolites and rubies and pearls and
gold and silver and collect their produce and gather together all
of value that is in the world and spare no pains and leave
naught; and take also for me such of these things as be in men's
hands and let nothing escape you: be diligent and beware of
disobedience." And thereupon he wrote letters to all the Kings of
the world and bade them gather together whatso of these things
was in their subjects' hands, and get them to the mines of
precious stones and metals, and bring forth all that was therein,
even from the abysses of the seas. This they accomplished in the
space of 20 years, for the number of rulers then reigning over
the earth was three hundred and sixty Kings, and Shaddad
presently assembled from all lands and countries architects and
engineers and men of art and labourers and handicraftsmen, who
dispersed over the world and explored all the wastes and words
and tracts and holds. At last they came to an uninhabited spot, a
vast and fair open plain clear of sand-hills and mountains, with
founts flushing and rivers rushing, and they said, "This is the
manner of place the King commanded us to seek and ordered us to
find." So they busied themselves in building the city even as
bade them Shaddad, King of the whole earth in its length and
breadth; leading the fountains in channels and laying the
foundations after the prescribed fashion. Moreover, all the Kings
of earth's several-reigns sent thither jewels and precious stones
and pearls large and small and carnelian and refined gold and
virgin silver upon camels by land, and in great ships over the
waters, and there came to the builders' hands of all these
materials so great a quantity as may neither be told nor counted
nor conceived. So they laboured at the work three hundred years;
and, when they had brought it to end, they went to King Shaddad
and acquainted him therewith. Then said he, "Depart and make
thereon an impregnable castle, rising and towering high in air,
and build around it a thousand pavilions, each upon a thousand
columns of chrysolite and ruby and vaulted with gold, that in
each pavilion a Wazir may dwell." So they returned forthwith and
did this in other twenty years; after which they again presented
themselves before King Shaddad and informed him of the
accomplishment of his will. Then he commanded his Wazirs, who
were a thousand in number, and his Chief Officers and such of his
troops and others as he put trust in, to prepare for departure
and removal to Many-columned Iram, in the suite and at the
stirrup of Shaddad, son of Ad, King of the World; and he bade
also such as he would of his women and his Harim and of his
handmaids and eunuchs make them ready for the journey. They spent
twenty years in preparing for departure, at the end of which time
Shaddad set out with his host.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn
of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Seventy-ninth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Shaddad bin
Ad fared forth, he and his host, rejoicing in the attainment of
his desire till there remained but one day's journey between him
and Iram of the Pillars. Then Allah sent down on him and on the
stubborn unbelievers with him a mighty rushing sound from the
Heavens of His power, which destroyed them all with its vehement
clamour, and neither Shaddad nor any of his company set eyes on
the city.[FN#171] Moreover, Allah blotted out the road which led
to the city, and it stands in its stead unchanged until the
Resurrection Day and the Hour of Judgement." So Mu'awiyah
wondered greatly at Ka'ab al-Ahbar's story and said to him, "Hath
any mortal ever made his way to that city?" He replied, "Yes; one
of the companions of Mohammed (on whom be blessing and peace!)
reached it, doubtless and forsure after the same fashion as this
man here seated." "And (quoth Al-Sha'abi[FN#172]) it is related,
on the authority of learned men of Himyar in Al-Yaman that
Shaddad, when destroyed with all his host by the sound, was
succeeded in his Kingship by his son Shaddad the Less, whom he
left vice-regent in Hazramaut[FN#173] and Saba, when he and his
marched upon Many-columned Iram. Now as soon as he heard of his
father's death on the road, he caused his body to be brought back
from the desert to Hazramaut and bade them hew him out a tomb in
a cave, where he laid the body on a throne of gold and threw over
the corpse threescore and ten robes of cloth of gold, purfled
with precious stones. Lastly at his sire's head he set up a
tablet of gold whereon were graven these verses,

'Take warning O proud, * And in length o' life vain!
I'm Shaddád son of Ad, * Of the forts castellain;
Lord of pillars and power,* Lord of tried might and main,
Whom all earth-sons obeyed* For my mischief and bane
And who held East and West* In mine awfullest reign.
He preached me salvation * Whom God did assain,[FN#174]
But we crossed him and asked * 'Can no refuge be ta'en?'
When a Cry on us cried * From th' horizon plain,
And we fell on the field * Like the harvested grain,
And the Fixt Day await * We, in earth's bosom lain!'"

Al-Sa'alibi also relateth, "It chanced that two men once entered
this cave and found steps at its upper end; so they descended and
came to an underground chamber, an hundred cubits long by forty
wide and an hundred high. In the midst stood a throne of gold,
whereon lay a man of huge bulk, filling the whole length and
breadth of the throne. He was covered with jewels and raiment
gold-and-silver wrought, and at his head was a tablet of gold
bearing an inscription. So they took the tablet and carried it
off, together with as many bars of gold and silver and so forth
as they could bear away." And men also relate the tale of


Quoth Isaac of Mosul,[FN#175] "I went out one night from Al
Maamun's presence, on my way to my house; and, being taken with a
pressing need to make water, I turned aside into a by-street and
stood in the middle fearing lest something might hurt me, if I
squatted against a wall.[FN#176] Presently, I espied something
hanging down from one of the houses; so I felt it to find out
what it might be and found that it was a great four-handled
basket,[FN#177] covered with brocade. Said I to myself, 'There
must be some reason for this,' and knew not what to think; then
drunkenness led me to seat myself in the basket, and behold, the
people of the house pulled me up, thinking me to be the person
they expected. Now when I came to the top of the wall; lo! four
damsels were there, who said to me, 'Descend and welcome and joy
to thee!' Then one of them went before me with a wax candle and
brought me down into a mansion, wherein were furnished sitting-
chambers, whose like I had never seen save in the palace of the
Caliphate. So I sat down and, after a while, the curtains were
suddenly drawn from one side of the room and, behold, in came
damsels walking in procession and hending hand lighted flambeaux
of wax and censers full of Sumatran aloes-wood, and amongst them
a young lady as she were the rising full moon. So I stood up to
her and she said, 'Welcome to thee for a visitor!' and then she
made me sit down again and asked me how I came thither. Quoth I,
'I was returning home from the house of an intimate friend and
went astray in the dark; then, being taken in the street with an
urgent call to make water, I turned aside into this lane, where I
found a basket let down. The strong wine which I had drunk led me
to seat myself in it and it was drawn up with me into this house,
and this is my story.' She rejoined, 'No harm shall befall thee,
and I hope thou wilt have cause to praise the issue of thine
adventure.' Then she added, 'But what is thy condition?' I said,
'A merchant in the Baghdad bazar' and she, 'Canst thou repeat any
verses?' 'Some small matter,' quoth I. Quoth she 'Then call a few
to mind and let us hear some of them.' But I said, 'A visitor is
bashful and timid; do thou begin.' 'True,' replied she and
recited some verses of the poets, past and present, choosing
their choicest pieces; and I listened not knowing whether more to
marvel at her beauty and loveliness or at the charm of her style
of declamation. Then said she, 'Is that bashfulness of thine
gone?' and I said, 'Yes, by Allah!' so she rejoined, 'Then, if
thou wilt, recite us somewhat.' So I repeated to her a number of
poems by old writers, and she applauded, saying, 'By Allah, I did
not think to find such culture among the trade folk, the sons of
the bazar!' Then she called for food" Whereupon quoth Shahrazad's
sister Dunyazad, "How pleasant is this tale and enjoyable and
sweet to the ear and sound to the sense!" But she answered, "And
what is this story compared with that which thou shalt hear on
the morrow's night, if I be alive and the King deign spare me!"
Then Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her
permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Eightieth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Isaac of
Mosul continued, "Then the damsel called for food and, when it
was served to her, she fell to eating it and setting it before
me; and the sitting room was full of all manner sweet-scented
flowers and rare fruits, such as are never found save in Kings'
houses. Presently, she called for wine and drank a cup, after
which she filled another and gave it to me, saying, 'Now is the
time for converse and story-telling.' So I bethought myself and
began to say, 'It hath reached me that such and such things
happened and there was a man who said so and so,' till I had told
her a number of pleasing tales and adventures with which she was
delighted and cried, ''Tis marvellous that a merchant should bear
in memory such store of stories like these, for they are fit for
Kings.' Quoth I, 'I had a neighbour who used to consort with
Kings and carouse with them; so, when he was at leisure, I
visited his house and he hath often told me what thou hast
heard.' Thereupon she exclaimed 'By my life, but thou hast a good
memory!' So we continued to converse thus, and as often as I was
silent, she would begin, till in this way we passed the most part
of the night, whilst the burning aloes-wood diffused its
fragrance and I was in such case that if Al-Maamun had suspected
it, he would have flown like a bird with longing for it. Then
said she to me, 'Verily, thou art one of the most pleasant of
men, polished, passing well-bred and polite; but there lacketh
one thing.' 'What is that?' asked I, and she answered, If thou
only knew how to sing verses to the lute!' I answered, 'I was
passionately fond of this art aforetime, but finding I had no
taste for it, I abandoned it, though at times my heart yearneth
after it. Indeed, I should love to sing somewhat well at this
moment and fulfil my night's enjoyment.' Then said she,
'Meseemeth thou hintest a wish for the lute to be brought?' and
I, 'It is thine to decide, if thou wilt so far favour me, and to
thee be the thanks.' So she called for a lute and sang a song in
a voice whose like I never heard, both for sweetness of tone and
skill in playing, and perfection of art. Then said she, Knowest
thou who composed this air and whose are the words of this
song?'"No," answered I; and she said, The words are so and so's
and the air is Isaac's.' I asked 'And hath Isaac then (may I be
thy sacrifice!) such a talent?' She replied, 'Bravo![FN#178]
Bravo, Isaac! indeed, he excelleth in this art.' I rejoined,
'Glory be to Allah who hath given this man what he hath
vouchsafed unto none other!' Then she said 'And how would it be,
an thou heard this song from himself?' This wise we went on till
break of day dawn, when there came to her an old woman, as she
were her nurse, and said to her, 'Verily, the time is come.' So
she rose in haste and said to me, 'Keep what hath passed between
us to thyself; for such meetings are in confidence;'"--And
Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her
permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Eighty-first Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the damsel
whispered, "'Keep what hath passed between us to thyself, for
such meetings are in confidence;' and I replied, 'May I be thy
ransom! I needed no charge to this.' Then I took leave of her and
she sent a handmaid to show me the way and open the house door;
so I went forth and returned to my own place, where I prayed the
morning prayer and slept. Now after a time there came to me a
messenger from Al-Maamun, so I went to him and passed the day in
his company. And when the night fell I called to mind my
yesternight's pleasure, a thing from which none but an ignoramus
would abstain, and betook myself to the street, where I found the
basket, and seating myself therein, was drawn up to the place in
which I had passed the previous night. When the lady saw me, she
said, 'Indeed, thou hast been assiduous;' and I answered,
'Meseemeth rather that I am neglectful.' Then we fell to
discoursing and passed the night as before in
general-conversation and reciting verses and telling rare tales,
each in turn, till daybreak, when I wended me home; and I prayed
the dawn prayer and slept. Presently there came to me a messenger
from Al-Maamun; so I went to him and spent my day with him till
nightfall, when the Commander of the Faithful said to me, 'I
conjure thee to sit here, whilst I go out for a want and come
back.' As soon as the Caliph was gone, and quite gone, my
thoughts began to tempt and try me and, calling to mind my late
delight, I recked little what might befal me from the Prince of
True Believers. So I sprang up and turning my back upon the
sitting-room, ran to the street aforesaid, where I sat down in
the basket and was drawn up as before. When the lady saw me, she
said, 'I begin to think thou art a sincere friend to us.' Quoth
I, 'Yea, by Allah!' and quoth she, 'Hast thou made our house
thine abiding-place?' I replied, 'May I be thy ransom! A guest
claimeth guest right for three days and if I return after this,
ye are free to spill my blood.' Then we passed the night as
before; and when the time of departure drew near, I bethought me
that Al Maamun would assuredly question me nor would ever be
content save with a full explanation: so I said to her, 'I see
thee to be of those who delight in singing. Now I have a cousin,
the son of my father's brother, who is fairer than I in face and
higher of rank and better of breeding; and he is the most
intimate of Allah's creatures with Isaac.' Quoth she, 'Art thou a
parasite[FN#179] and an importunate one?' Quoth I, 'It is for
thee to decide in this matter;' and she, 'If thy cousin be as
thou hast described him, it would not mislike us to make
acquaintance with him.' Then, as the time was come, I left her
and returned to my house, but hardly had I reached it, ere the
Caliph's runners came down on me and carried me before him by
main force and roughly enough."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn
of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Eighty-second Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Isaac of
Mosul continued, "And hardly had I reached my house ere the
Caliph's runners came down upon me and carried me before him by
main force and roughly enough. I found him seated on a chair,
wroth with me, and he said to me, 'O Isaac, art thou a traitor to
thine allegiance?' replied I, 'No, by Allah, O Commander of the
Faithful!' and he rejoined, 'What hast thou then to say? tell me
the whole truth;' and I, 'Yes, I will, but in private.' So he
signed to his attendants, who withdrew to a distance, and I told
him the case, adding, 'I promised her to bring thee,' and he
said, 'Thou didst well.' Then we spent the day in our
usual-pleasures, but Al-Maamun's heart was taken up with her, and
hardly was the appointed time come, when we set out. As we went
along, I cautioned him, saying, 'Look that thou call me not by my
name before her; and I will demean myself like thine attendant.'
And having agreed upon this, we fared forth till we came to the
place, where we found two baskets hanging ready. So we sat down
in them and were drawn up to the usual-place, where the damsel
came forward and saluted us. Now when Al Maamun saw her, he was
amazed at her beauty and loveliness; and she began to entertain
him with stories and verses. Presently, she called for wine and
we fell to drinking she paying him special attention and he
repaying her in kind. Then she took the lute and sang these

'My lover came in at the close of night, * I rose till he sat and
remained upright;
And said 'Sweet heart, hast thou come this hour? * Nor feared on
the watch and ward to 'light:'
Quoth he 'The lover had cause to fear, * But Love deprived him of
wits and fright.'

And when she ended her song she said to me, 'And is thy cousin
also a merchant?' I answered, 'Yes,' and she said, 'Indeed, ye
resemble each other nearly.' But when Al-Maamun had drunk three
pints,[FN#180] he grew merry with wine and called out, saying,
'Ho, Isaac!' And I replied, 'Labbayk, Adsum, O Commander of the
Faithful,' whereupon quoth he, 'Sing me this air.' Now when the
young lady learned that he was the Caliph, she withdrew to
another place and disappeared; and, as I had made an end of my
song, Al-Maamun said to me, 'See who is the master of this
house', whereupon an old woman hastened to make answer, saying,
'It belongs to Hasan bin Sahl.'[FN#181] 'Fetch him to me,' said
the Caliph. So she went away and after a while behold, in came
Hasan, to whom said Al-Maamun 'Hast thou a daughter?' He said,
'Yes, and her name is Khadijah.' Asked the Caliph, 'Is she
married?' Answered Hasan, 'No, by Allah!' Said Al-Maamun, Then I
ask her of thee in marriage.' Replied her father, 'O Commander of
the Faithful, she is thy handmaid and at thy commandment.' Quoth
Al-Maamun, 'I take her to wife at a present settlement of thirty
thousand dinars, which thou shalt receive this very morning, and,
when the money has been paid thee, do thou bring her to us this
night.' And Hasan answered, 'I hear and I obey.' Thereupon we
went forth and the Caliph said to me, 'O Isaac, tell this story
to no one.' So I kept it secret till Al-Maamun's death. Surely
never did man's life gather such pleasures as were mine these
four days' time, whenas I companied with Al-Maamun by day and
Khadijah by night; and, by Allah, never saw I among men the like
of Al-Maamun nor among women have I ever set eyes on the like of
Khadijah; no, nor on any that came near her in lively wit and
pleasant speech! And Allah is All knowing. But amongst stories is
that of


During the season of the Meccan pilgrimage, whilst the people
were making circuit about the Holy House and the place of
compassing was crowded, behold, a man laid hold of the covering
of the Ka'abah[FN#182] and cried out, from the bottom of his
heart, saying, 'I beseech thee, O Allah, that she may once again
be wroth with her husband and that I may know her!' A company of
the pilgrims heard him and seized him and carried him to the Emir
of the pilgrims, after a sufficiency of blows; and, said they, 'O
Emir, we found this fellow in the Holy Places, saying thus and
thus.' So the Emir commanded to hang him; but he cried, 'O Emir,
I conjure thee, by the virtue of the Apostle (whom Allah bless
and preserve!), hear my story and then do with me as thou wilt.'
Quoth the Emir, 'Tell thy tale forthright.' 'Know then, O Emir,'
quoth the man, 'that I am a sweep who works in the sheep-
slaughterhouses and carries off the blood and the offal to the
rubbish-heaps outside the gates. And it came to pass as I went
along one day with my ass loaded, I saw the people running away
and one of them said to me, 'Enter this alley, lest haply they
slay thee.' Quoth I, 'What aileth the folk running away?' and one
of the eunuchs, who were passing, said to me, 'This is the
Harim[FN#183] of one of the notables and her eunuchs drive the
people out of her way and beat them all, without respect to
persons.' So I turned aside with the donkey'"--And Shahrazad
perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Eighty-third Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that quoth the
man, "So I turned aside with the donkey and stood still awaiting
the dispersal of the crowd; and I saw a number of eunuchs with
staves in their hands, followed by nigh thirty women slaves, and
amongst them a lady as she were a willow-wand or a thirsty
gazelle, perfect in beauty and grace and amorous languor, and all
were attending upon her. Now when she came to the mouth of the
passage where I stood, she turned right and left and, calling one
of the Castratos, whispered in his ear; and behold, he came up to
me and laid hold of me, whilst another eunuch took my ass and
made off with it. And when the spectators fled, the first eunuch
bound me with a rope and dragged me after him till I knew not
what to do; and the people followed us and cried out, saying,
'This is not allowed of Allah! What hath this poor scavenger done
that he should be bound with ropes?' and praying the eunuchs,
'Have pity on him and let him go, so Allah have pity on you!' And
I the while said in my mind, 'Doubtless the eunuchry seized me,
because their mistress smelt the stink of the offal and it
sickened her. Belike she is with child or ailing; but there is no
Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the
Great!' So I continued walking on behind them, till they stopped
at the door of a great house; and, entering before me, brought me
into a big hall--I know not how I shall describe its
magnificence--furnished with the finest furniture. And the women
also entered the hall; and I bound and held by the eunuch and
saying to myself, 'Doubtless they will torture me here till I die
and none know of my death.' However, after a while, they carried
me into a neat bath-room leading out of the hall; and as I sat
there, behold, in came three slave-girls who seated themselves
round me and said to me, 'Strip off thy rags and tatters.' So I
pulled off my threadbare clothes and one of them fell a-rubbing
my legs and feet whilst another scrubbed my head and a third
shampooed my body. When they had made an end of washing me, they
brought me a parcel of clothes and said to me, 'Put these on';
and I answered, 'By Allah, I know not how!' So they came up to me
and dressed me, laughing together at me the while; after which
they brought casting-bottles full of rose-water, and sprinkled me
therewith. Then I went out with them into another saloon; by
Allah, I know not how to praise its splendour for the wealth of
paintings and furniture therein; and entering it, I saw a person
seated on a couch of Indian rattan"--And Shahrazad perceived the
dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Eighty-fourth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the sweep
continued, "When I entered that saloon I saw a person seated on a
couch of Indian rattan, with ivory feet and before her a number
of damsels. When she saw me she rose to me and called me; so I
went up to her and she seated me by her side. Then she bade her
slave-girls bring food, and they brought all manner of rich
meats, such as I never saw in all my life; I do not even know the
names of the dishes, much less their nature. So I ate my fill and
when the dishes had been taken away and we had washed our hands,
she called for fruits which came without stay or delay and
ordered me eat of them; and when we had ended eating she bade one
of the waiting-women bring the wine furniture. So they set on
flagons of divers kinds of wine and burned perfumes in all the
censers, what while a damsel like the moon rose and served us
with wine to the sound of the smitten strings; and I drank, and
the lady drank, till we were seized with wine and the whole time
I doubted not but that all this was an illusion of sleep.
Presently, she signed to one of the damsels to spread us a bed in
such a place, which being done, she rose and took me by the hand
and led me thither, and lay down and I lay with her till the
morning, and as often as I pressed her to my breast I smelt the
delicious fragrance of musk and other perfumes that exhaled from
her and could not think otherwise but that I was in Paradise or
in the vain phantasies of a dream. Now when it was day, she asked
me where I lodged and I told her, 'In such a place;' whereupon
she gave me leave to depart, handing to me a kerchief worked with
gold and silver and containing somewhat tied in it, and took
leave of me, saying, 'Go to the bath with this.' I rejoiced and
said to myself, 'If there be but five coppers here, it will buy
me this day my morning meal.' Then I left her, as though I were
leaving Paradise, and returned to my poor crib where I opened the
kerchief and found in it fifty miskals of gold. So I buried them
in the ground and, buying two farthings' worth of bread and
'kitchen,'[FN#184] seated me at the door and broke my fast; after
which I sat pondering my case and continued so doing till the
time of afternoon, prayer, when lo! a slave-girl accosted me
saying, 'My mistress calleth for thee.' I followed her to the
house aforesaid and, after asking permission, she carried me into
the lady, before whom I kissed the ground, and she commanded me
to sit and called for meat and wine as on the previous day; after
which I again lay with her all night. On the morrow, she gave me
a second kerchief, with other fifty dinars therein, and I took it
and going home, buried this also. In such pleasant condition I
continued eight days running, going in to her at the hour of
afternoon prayer and leaving her at daybreak; but, on the eighth
night, as I lay with her, behold, one of her slave-girls came
running in and said to me, 'Arise, go up into yonder closet.' So
I rose and went into the closet, which was over the gate, and
presently I heard a great clamour and tramp of horse; and,
looking out of the window which gave on the street in front of
the house, I saw a young man as he were the rising moon on the
night of fulness come riding up attended by a number of servants
and soldiers who were about him on foot. He alighted at the door
and entering the saloon found the lady seated on the couch; so he
kissed the ground between her hands then came up to her and
kissed her hands; but she would not speak to him. However, he
continued patiently to humble himself, and soothe her and speak
her fair, till he made his peace with her, and they lay together
that night."--And Shahrazed perceived the dawn of day and ceased
saying her permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Eighty-fifth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the
scavenger continued, "Now when her husband had made his peace
with the young lady, he lay with her that night; and next
morning, the soldiers came for him and he mounted and rode away;
whereupon she drew near to me and said, 'Sawst thou yonder man?'
I answered, 'Yes;' and she said, 'He is my husband, and I will
tell thee what befell me with him. It came to pass one day that
we were sitting, he and I, in the garden within the house, and
behold, he rose from my side and was absent a long while, till I
grew tired of waiting and said to myself: Most like, he is in the
privy. So I arose and went to the water-closet, but not finding
him there, went down to the kitchen, where I saw a slave-girl;
and when I enquired for him, she showed him to me lying with one
of the cookmaids. Hereupon, I swore a great oath that I assuredly
would do adultery with the foulest and filthiest man in Baghdad;
and the day the eunuch laid hands on thee, I had been four days
going round about the city in quest of one who should answer to
this description, but found none fouler nor filthier than thy
good self. So I took thee and there passed between us that which
Allah fore ordained to us; and now I am quit of my oath.' Then
she added, 'If, however, my husband return yet again to the
cookmaid and lie with her, I will restore thee to thy lost place
in my favours.' Now when I heard these words from her lips, what
while she pierced my heart with the shafts of her glances, my
tears streamed forth, till my eyelids were chafed sore with
weeping, and I repeated the saying of the poet,

'Grant me the kiss of that left hand ten times; * And learn it
hath than right hand higher grade;[FN#185]
For 'tis but little since that same left hand * Washed off Sir
Reverence when ablution made.'

Then she made them give me other fifty dinars (making in all four
hundred gold pieces I had of her) and bade me depart. So I went
out from her and came hither, that I might pray Allah (extolled
and exalted be He!) to make her husband return to the cookmaid,
that haply I might be again admitted to her favours.' When the
Emir of the pilgrims heard the man's story, he set him free and
said to the bystanders, 'Allah upon you, pray for him, for indeed
he is excusable.'" And men also tell the tale of


It is related that the Caliph Harun al-Rashid, was one night
restless with extreme restlessness, so he summoned his Wazir
Ja'afar the Barmecide, and said to him, "My breast is straitened
and I have a desire to divert myself to-night by walking about
the streets of Baghdad and looking into folks' affairs; but with
this precaution that we disguise ourselves in merchants' gear, so
none shall know us." He answered, "Hearkening and obedience."
They rose at once and doffing the rich raiment they wore, donned
merchants' habits and sallied forth three in number, the Caliph,
Ja'afar and Masrur the sworder. Then they walked from place to
place, till they came to the Tigris and saw an old man sitting in
a boat; so they went up to him and saluting him, said, "O Shaykh,
we desire thee of thy kindness and favour to carry us a-
pleasuring down the river, in this thy boat, and take this dinar
to thy hire."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased
saying her permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Eighty-sixth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when they
said to the old man, "We desire thee to carry us a-pleasuring in
this thy boat and take this dinar;" he answered, "Who may go a-
pleasuring on the Tigris? The Caliph Harun al-Rashid every night
cometh down Tigris stream in his state-barge[FN#186] and with him
one crying aloud: 'Ho, ye people all, great and small, gentle and
simple, men and boys, whoso is found in a boat on the Tigris by
night, I will strike off his head or hang him to the mast of his
craft!' And ye had well nigh met him; for here cometh his
carrack." But the Caliph and Ja'afar said, "O Shaykh, take these
two dinars, and run us under one of yonder arches, that we may
hide there till the Caliph's barge have passed." The old man
replied, "Hand over your gold and rely we on Allah, the
Almighty!" So he took the two dinars and embarked them in the
boat; and he put off and rowed about with them awhile, when
behold, the barge came down the river in mid-stream, with lighted
flambeaux and cressets flaming therein. Quoth the old man, "Did
not I tell you that the Caliph passed along the river every
night?"; and ceased not muttering, "O Protector, remove not the
veils of Thy protection!" Then he ran the boat under an arch and
threw a piece of black cloth over the Caliph and his companions,
who looked out from under the covering and saw, in the bows of
the barge, a man holding in hand a cresset of red gold which he
fed with Sumatran lign-aloes and the figure was clad in a robe of
red satin, with a narrow turband of Mosul shape round on his
head, and over one of his shoulders hung a sleeved cloak[FN#187]
of cramoisy satin, and on the other was a green silk bag full of
the aloes-wood, with which he fed the cresset by way of firewood.
And they sighted in the stern another man, clad like the first
and bearing a like cresset, and in the barge were two hundred
white slaves, standing ranged to the right and left; and in the
middle a throne of red gold, whereon sat a handsome young man,
like the moon, clad in a dress of black, embroidered with yellow
gold. Before him they beheld a man, as he were the Wazir Ja'afar,
and at his head stood an eunuch, as he were Masrur, with a drawn
sword in his hand; besides a score of cup-companions. Now when
the Caliph saw this, he turned and said, "O Ja'afar," and the
Minister replied, "At thy service, O Prince of True Believers."
Then quoth the Caliph, "Belike this is one of my sons, Al Amin or
Al-Maamun." Then he examined the young man who sat on the throne
and finding him perfect in beauty and loveliness and stature and
symmetric grace, said to Ja'afar, "Verily, this young man abateth
nor jot nor tittle of the state of the Caliphate! See, there
standeth before him one as he were thyself, O Ja'afar; yonder
eunuch who standeth at his head is as he were Masrur and those
courtiers as they were my own. By Allah, O Ja'afar, my reason is
confounded and I am filled with amazement this matter!"--And
Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her
permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Eighty-seventh Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the
Caliph saw this spectacle his reason was confounded and he cried,
"By Allah, I am filled with amazement at this matter!" and
Ja'afar replied, "And I also, by Allah, O Commander of the
Faithful." Then the barge passed on and disappeared from sight
whereupon the boatman pushed out again into the stream, saying,
"Praised be Allah for safety, since none hath fallen in with us!"
Quoth the Caliph, "O old man, doth the Caliph come down the
Tigris-river every night?" The boatman answered, "Yes, O my lord;
and on such wise hath he done every night this year past." "O
Shaykh," rejoined Al-Rashid, "we wish thee of thy favour to await
us here to-morrow night and we will give thee five golden dinars,
for we are stranger folk, lodging in the quarter Al-Khandak, and
we have a mind to divert ourselves." Said the oldster, "With joy
and good will!" Then the Caliph and Ja'afar and Masrur left the
boatman and returned to the palace; where they doffed their
merchants' habits and, donning their apparel of state, sat down
each in his several-stead; and came the Emirs and Wazirs and
Chamberlains and Officers, and the Divan assembled and was
crowded as of custom. But when day ended and all the folk had
dispersed and wended each his own way, the Caliph said to his
Wazir, "Rise, O Ja'afar, let us go and amuse ourselves by looking
on the second Caliph." At this, Ja'afar and Masrur laughed, and
the three, donning merchants' habits, went forth by a secret
pastern and made their way through the city, in great glee, till
they came to the Tigris, where they found the graybeard sitting
and awaiting them. They embarked with him in the boat and hardly
had they sat down before up came the mock Caliph's barge; and,
when they looked at it attentively, they saw therein two hundred
Mamelukes other than those of the previous night, while the link-
bearers cried aloud as of wont. Quoth the Caliph, "O Wazir, had I
heard tell of this, I had not believed it; but I have seen it
with my own sight." Then said he to the boatman, "Take, O Shaykh'
these ten dinars and row us along abreast of them, for they are
in the light and we in the shade, and we can see them and amuse
ourselves by looking on them, but they cannot see us." So the man
took the money and pushing off ran abreast of them in the shadow
of the barge,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased
saying her permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Eighty-eighth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Caliph
Harun al-Rashid said to the old man, "Take these ten dinars and
row us abreast of them;" to which he replied, "I hear and I
obey." And he fared with them and ceased not going in the
blackness of the barge, till they came amongst the gardens that
lay alongside of them and sighted a large walled enclosure; and
presently, the barge cast anchor before a postern door, where
they saw servants standing with a she mule saddled and bridled.
Here the mock Caliph landed and, mounting the mule, rode away
with his courtiers and his cup-companions preceded by the
cresset-bearers crying aloud, and followed by his household which
busied itself in his service. Then Harun al-Rashid, Ja'afar and
Masrur landed also and, making their way through the press of
servants, walked on before them. Presently, the cresset-bearers
espied them and seeing three persons in merchants' habits, and
strangers to the country, took offense at them; so they pointed
them out and brought them before the other Caliph, who looked at
them and asked, "How came ye to this place and who brought you at
this tide?" They answered, "O our lord, we are foreign merchants
and far from our homes, who arrived here this day and were out a-
walking to-night, and behold, ye came up and these men laid hands
on us and brought us to thy presence; and this is all our story."
Quoth the mock Caliph, "Since ye be stranger folk no harm shall
befall you; but had ye been of Baghdad, I had struck off your
heads." Then he turned to his Wazir and said to him, "Take these
men with thee; for they are our guests to-night." "To hear is to
obey, O our lord," answered he; and they companied him till they
came to a lofty and splendid palace set upon the firmest base; no
Sultan possesseth such a place; rising from the dusty mould and
upon the merges of the clouds laying hold. Its door was of Indian
teak-wood inlaid with gold that glowed; and through it one passed
into a royal-hall in whose midst was a jetting fount girt by a
raised estrade. It was provided with carpets and cushions of
brocade and small pillows and long settees and hanging curtains;
it was furnished with a splendour that dazed the mind and dumbed
the tongue, and upon the door were written these two couplets,

"A Palace whereon be blessings and praise! * Which with all their
beauty have robed the Days:
Where marvels and miracle-sights abound, * And to write its
honours the pen affrays."

The false Caliph entered with his company, and sat down on a
throne of gold set with jewels and covered with a prayer carpet
of yellow silk; whilst the boon-companions took their seats and
the sword bearer of high works stood before him. Then the tables
were laid and they ate; after which the dishes were removed and
they washed their hands and the wine-service was set on with
flagons and bowls in due order. The cup went round till it came
to the Caliph, Harun al-Rashid, who refused the draught, and the
mock Caliph said to Ja'afar, "What mattereth thy friend that he
drinketh not?" He replied, "O my lord, indeed 'tis a long while
he hath drunk naught of this." Quoth the sham Caliph, "I have
drink other than this, a kind of apple-wine,[FN#188] that will
suit thy companion." So he bade them bring the cider which they
did forthright; when the false Caliph, coming up to Harun
al-Rashid, said to him, "As often as it cometh to thy turn drink
thou of this." Then they continued to drink and make merry and
pass the cup till the wine rose to their brains and mastered
their wits;--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased
to say her permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Eighty-ninth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the false
Caliph and his co sitters sat at their cups and gave not over
drinking till the wine rose to their brains and mastered their
wits; and Harun al-Rashid said to the Minister, "O Ja'afar, by
Allah, we have no such vessels as these. Would to Heaven I knew
what manner of man this youth is!" But while they were talking
privily the young man cast a glance upon them and seeing the
Wazir whisper the Caliph said, "'Tis rude to whisper." He
replied, "No rudeness was meant: this my friend did but say to
me, 'Verily I have travelled in most countries and have caroused
with the greatest of Kings and I have companied with noble
captains; yet never saw I a goodlier ordering than this
entertainment nor passed a more delightful night; save that the
people of Baghdad are wont to say, Wine without music often
leaves you sick.'"When the second Caliph heard this, he smiled
pleasantly and struck with a rod he had in his hand a round
gong;[FN#189] and behold, a door opened and out came a eunuch,
bearing a chair of ivory, inlaid with gold glittering fiery red
and followed by a damsel of passing beauty and loveliness,
symmetry and grace. He set down the chair and the damsel seated
herself on it, as she were the sun shining sheen in a sky serene.
In her hand she had a lute of Hindu make, which she laid in her
lap and bent down over it as a mother bendeth over her little
one, and sang to it, after a prelude in four-and-twenty modes,
amazing all wits. Then she returned to the first mode and to a
lively measure chanted these couplets,

"Love's tongue within my heart speaks plain to thee, * Telling
thee clearly I am fain of thee
Witness the fevers of a tortured heart, * And ulcered eyelid
tear-flood rains for thee
God's fate o'ertaketh all created things! * I knew not love till
learnt Love's pain of thee."

Now when the mock Caliph heard these lines sung by the damsel, he
cried with a great cry and rent his raiment to the very skirt,
whereupon they let down a curtain over him and brought him a
fresh robe, handsomer than the first. He put it on and sat as
before, till the cup came round to him, when he struck the gong a
second time and lo! a door opened and out of it came a eunuch
with a chair of gold, followed by a damsel fairer than the first,
bearing a lute, such as would strike the envious mute. She sat
down on the chair and sang to her instrument these two couplets,

"How patient bide, with love in sprite of me, * And tears in
tempest[FN#190] blinding sight of me?
By Allah, life has no delight of me! * How gladden heart whose
core is blight of me?"

No sooner had the youth heard this poetry than he cried out with
a loud cry and rent his raiment to the skirt: whereupon they let
down the curtain over him and brought him another suit of
clothes. He put it on and, sitting up as before, fell again to
cheerful talk, till the cup came round to him, when he smote once
more upon the gong and out came a eunuch with a chair, followed
by a damsel fairer than she who forewent her. So she sat down on
the chair, with a lute in her hand, and sang thereto these

"Cease ye this farness; 'bate this pride of you, * To whom my
heart clings, by life-tide of you!
Have ruth on hapless, mourning, lover-wretch, * Desire-full,
pining, passion-tried of you:
Sickness hath wasted him, whose ecstasy * Prays Heaven it may be
satisfied of you:
Oh fullest moons[FN#191] that dwell in deepest heart! * How can I
think of aught by side of you?"

Now when the young man heard these couplets, he cried out with a
great cry and rent his raiment, whereupon they let fall the
curtain over him and brought him other robes. Then he returned to
his former case with his boon-companions and the bowl went round
as before, till the cup came to him, when he struck the gong a
fourth time and the door opening, out came a page-boy bearing a
chair followed by a damsel. He set the chair for her and she sat
down thereon and taking the lute, tuned it and sang to it these

"When shall disunion and estrangement end? * When shall my bygone
joys again be kenned?
Yesterday we were joined in same abode; * Conversing heedless of
each envious friend:[FN#192]
Trickt us that traitor Time, disjoined our lot * And our waste
home to desert fate condemned:
Wouldst have me, Grumbler! from my dearling fly? * I find my
vitals blame will not perpend:
Cease thou to censure; leave me to repine; * My mind e'er findeth
thoughts that pleasure lend.
O Lords[FN#193] of me who brake our troth and plight, * Deem not
to lose your hold of heart and sprite!"

When the false Caliph heard the girl's song, he cried out with a
loud outcry and rent his raiment,--And Shahrazad perceived the
dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Ninetieth Night,

She said, When the false Caliph heard the girl's song, he cried
with a loud outcry and rent his raiment and fell to the ground
fainting; whereupon they would have let down the curtain over
him, as of custom; but its cords stuck fast and Harun al-Rashid,
after considering him carefully, saw on his body the marks of
beating with palm-rods and said to Ja'afar, "By Allah, he is a
handsome youth, but a foul thief!" "Whence knowest thou that, O
Commander of the Faithful?" asked Ja'afar, and the Caliph
answered, "Sawest thou not the whip-scars on his ribs?" Then they
let fall the curtain over him and brought him a fresh dress,
which he put on and sat up as before with his courtiers and cup-
companions. Presently he saw the Caliph and Ja'afar whispering
together and said to them, "What is the matter, fair sirs?" Quoth
Ja'afar, "O my lord, all is well,[FN#194] save that this my
comrade, who (as is not unknown to thee) is of the merchant
company and hath visited all the great cities and countries of
the world and hath consorted with kings and men of highest
consideration, saith to me: 'Verily, that which our lord the
Caliph hath done this night is beyond measure extravagant, never
saw I any do the like doings in any country; for he hath rent
such and such dresses, each worth a thousand dinars and this is
surely excessive unthriftiness.'" Replied the second Caliph, "Ho
thou, the money is my money and the stuff my stuff, and this is
by way of largesse to my suite and servants; for each suit that
is rent belongeth to one of my cup-companions here present, and I
assign to them with each suit of clothes the sum of five hundred
dinars." The Wazir Ja'afar replied, "Well is whatso thou doest, O
our lord," and recited these two couplets,

"Virtue in hand of thee hath built a house, * And to mankind thou
dost thy wealth expose:
If an the virtues ever close their doors, * That hand would be a
key the lock to unclose."

Now when the young man heard these verses recited by the Minister
Ja'afar, he ordered him to be gifted with a thousand dinars and a
dress of honour. Then the cup went round among them and the wine
was sweet to them; but, after a while quoth the Caliph to
Ja'afar, "Ask him of the marks on his sides, that we may see what
he will say by way of reply." Answered Ja'afar, "Softly, O my
lord, be not hasty and soothe thy mind, for patience is more
becoming." Rejoined the Caliph, "By the life of my head and by
the revered tomb of Al Abbas,[FN#195] except thou ask him, I will
assuredly stop thy breath!" With this the young man turned
towards the Minister and said to him, "What aileth thee and thy
friend to be whispering together? Tell me what is the matter with
you." "It is nothing save good," replied Ja'afar; but the mock
Caliph rejoined, "I conjure thee, by Allah, tell me what aileth
you and hide from me nothing of your case." Answered the Wazir "O
my lord, verily this one here saw on thy sides the marks of
beating with whips and palm-fronds and marvelled thereat with
exceeding marvel, saying, 'How came the Caliph to be beaten?';
and he would fain know the cause of this." Now when the youth
heard this, he smiled and said, "Know ye that my story is
wondrous and my case marvellous; were it graven with needles on
the eye corners, it would serve as a warner to whoso would be
warned." And he sighed and repeated these couplets,

"Strange is my story, passing prodigy; * By Love I swear, my ways
wax strait on me!
An ye desire to hear me, listen, and * Let all in this assembly
silent be.
Heed ye my words which are of meaning deep, * Nor lies my speech;
'tis truest verity.
I'm slain[FN#196] by longing and by ardent love; * My slayer's
the pearl of fair virginity.
She hath a jet black eye like Hindi blade, * And bowèd eyebrows
shoot her archery
My heart assures me our Imam is here, * This age's Caliph, old
Your second, Ja'afar highs, is his Wazir; * A Sahib,[FN#197]
Sahib-son of high degree:
The third is called Masrur who wields the sword: * Now, if in
words of mine some truth you see
I have won every wish by this event * Which fills my heart with
joy and gladdest greet"

When they heard these words Ja'afar swore to him an ambiguous
oath that they were not those he named, whereupon he laughed and
said: "Know, O my lords, that I am not the Commander of the
Faithful and that I do but style myself thus, to win my will of
the sons of the city. My true name is Mohammed Ali, son of Ali
the Jeweller, and my father was one of the notables of Baghdad,
who left me great store of gold and silver and pearls and coral
and rubies and chrysolites and other jewels, besides messuages
and lands, Hammam-baths and brickeries, orchards and flower-
gardens. Now as I sat in my shop one day surrounded by my eunuchs
and dependents, behold, there came up a young lady, mounted on a
she-mule and attended by three damsels like moons. Riding up to
my shop she alighted and seated herself by my side and said 'Art
thou Mohammed the Jeweller?' Replied I, 'Even so! I am he, thy
Mameluke, thy chattel.' She asked, 'Hast thou a necklace of
jewels fit for me?' and I answered, 'O my lady, I will show thee
what I have; and lay all before thee and, if any please thee, it
will be of thy slave's good luck; if they please thee not, of his
ill fortune.' Now I had by me an hundred necklaces and showed
them all to her; but none of them pleased her and she said, 'I
want a better than those I have seen.' I had a small necklace
which my father had bought at an hundred thousand dinars and
whose like was not to be found with any of the great kings; so I
said to her, 'O my lady, I have yet one necklace of fine stones
fit for bezels, the like of which none possesseth, great or
small. Said she, Show it to me,' so I showed it to her, and she
said, 'This is what I wanted and what I have wished for all my
life;' adding, 'What is its price?' Quoth I, 'It cost my father
an hundred thousand dinars;' and she said, 'I will give thee five
thousand dinars to thy profit.' I answered, 'O my lady, the
necklace and its owner are at thy service and I cannot gainsay
thee.' But she rejoined, 'Needs must thou have the profit, and I
am still most grateful to thee.' Then she rose without stay or
delay; and, mounting the mule in haste, said to me, 'O my lord,
in Allah's name, favour us with thy company to receive the money;
for this thy day with us is white as milk.'[FN#198] So I shut the
shop and accompanied her, in all security, till we came to a
house, on which were manifest the signs of wealth and rank; for
its door was wrought with gold and silver and ultramarine, and
thereon were written these two couplets,

'Hole, thou mansion! woe ne'er enter thee; * Nor be thine owner
e'er misused of Fate
Excellent mansion to all guests art thou, * When other mansions
to the guest are strait.'

The young lady dismounted and entered the house, bidding me sit
down on the bench at the gate, till the money-changer should
arrive. So I sat awhile, when behold, a damsel came out to me and
said, 'O my lord, enter the vestibule; for it is a dishonour that
thou shouldst sit at the gate.' Thereupon I arose and entered the
vestibule and sat down on the settle there, and, as I sat, lo!
another damsel came out and said to me, 'O my lord my mistress
biddeth thee enter and sit down at the door of the saloon, to
receive thy money.' I entered and sat down, nor had I sat a
moment when behold, a curtain of silk which concealed a throne of
gold was drawn aside, and I saw seated thereon the lady who had
made the purchase, and round her neck she wore the necklace which
looked pale and wan by the side of a face as it were the rounded
moon; At her sight, my wit was troubled and my mind confounded,
by reason of her exceeding beauty and loveliness, but when she
saw me she rose from her throne and coming close up to me, said,
'O light of mine eyes, is every handsome one like thee pitiless
to his mistress?' I answered, 'O my lady, beauty, all of it, is
in thee and is but one of thy hidden charms.' And she rejoined,
'O Jeweller, know that I love thee and can hardly credit that I
have brought thee hither.' Then she bent towards me and I kissed
her and she kissed me and, as she caressed me, drew me towards
her and to her breast she pressed me."--And Shahrazad perceived
the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Ninety-first Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the
Jeweller continued: "Then she bent towards me and kissed and
caressed me; and, as she caressed me, drew me towards her and to
her breast she pressed me. Now she knew by my condition that I
had a mind to enjoy her; so she said to me, 'O my lord, wouldst
thou foregather with me unlawfully? By Allah, may he not live who
would do the like of this sin and who takes pleasure in talk
unclean! I am a maid, a virgin whom no man hath approached, nor
am I unknown in the city. Knowest thou who I am?' Quoth I, 'No,
by Allah, O my lady!'; and quoth she, 'I am the Lady Dunyá,
daughter of Yáhyá bin Khálid the Barmecide and sister of Ja'afar,
Wazir to the Caliph.' Now as I heard this, I drew back from her,
saying, 'O my lady, it is no fault of mine if I have been over-
bold with thee; it was thou didst encourage me to aspire to thy
love, by giving me access to thee.' She answered, 'No harm shall
befal-thee, and needs must thou attain thy desire in the only way
pleasing to Allah. I am my own mistress and the Kazi shall act as
my guardian in consenting to the marriage contract; for it is my
will that I be to thee wife and thou be to me man.' Then she sent
for the Kazi and the witnesses and busied herself with making
ready; and, when they came, she said to them, 'Mohammed Ali, bin
Ali the Jeweller, seeketh me in wedlock and hath given me the
necklace to my marriage-settlement; and I accept and consent.' So
they wrote out the contract of marriage between us; and ere I
went in to her the servants brought the wine-furniture and the
cups passed round after the fairest fashion and the goodliest
ordering; and, when the wine mounted to our heads, she ordered a
damsel, a lute-player,[FN#199] to sing. So she took the lute and
sang to a pleasing and stirring motive these couplets,

'He comes; and fawn and branch and moon delight these eyne *
Fie[FN#200] on his heart who sleeps o' nights without repine
Pair youth, for whom Heaven willed to quench in cheek one light,
* And left another light on other cheek bright li'en:
I fain finesse my chiders when they mention him, * As though the
hearing of his name I would decline;
And willing ear I lend when they of other speak; * Yet would my
soul within outflow in foods of brine:
Beauty's own prophet, he is all a miracle * Of heavenly grace,
and greatest shows his face for sign.[FN#201]
To prayer Bilál-like cries that Mole upon his cheek * To ward
from pearly brow all eyes of ill design:[FN#202]
The censors of their ignorance would my love dispel * But after
Faith I can't at once turn Infidel.'

We were ravished by the sweet music she made striking the
strings, and the beauty of the verses she sang; and the other
damsels went on to sing and to recite one after another, till ten
had so done; when the Lady Dunya took the lute and playing a
lively measure, chanted these couplets,

'I swear by swayings of that form so fair, * Aye from thy parting
Pity a heart which burneth in thy love, * O bright as fullest
moon in blackest air!
Vouchsafe thy boons to him who ne'er will cease * In light of
wine-cup all thy charms declare,
Amid the roses which with varied hues * Are to the myrtle-
bush[FN#203] a mere despair.'

When she had finished her verse I took the lute from her hands
and, playing a quaint and not vulgar prelude sang the following

'Laud to my Lord who gave thee all of loveliness; * Myself amid
thy thralls I willingly confess:
O thou, whose eyes and glances captivate mankind, * Pray that I
'scape those arrows shot with all thy stress!
Two hostile rivals water and enflaming fire * Thy cheek hath
married, which for marvel I profess:
Thou art Sa'ír in heart of me and eke Na'ím;[FN#204] * Thou agro-
dolce, eke heart's sweetest bitterness.'

When she heard this my song she rejoiced with exceeding joy;
then, dismissing her slave women, she brought me to a most goodly
place, where they had spread us a bed of various colours. She did
off her clothes and I had a lover's privacy of her and found her
a pearl unpierced and a filly unridden. So I rejoiced in her and
never in my born days spent I a more delicious night."--And
Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her
permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Ninety-second Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Mohammed
bin Ali the Jeweller continued: "So I went in unto the Lady
Dunya, daughter of Yahya bin Khálid the Barmecide, and I found
her a pearl unthridden and a filly unridden. So I rejoiced in her
and repeated these couplets,

'O Night here stay! I want no morning light; * My lover's face to
me is lamp and light:[FN#205]
As ring of ring-dove round his necks my arm; * And made my palm
his mouth-veil, and, twas right.
This be the crown of bliss, and ne'er we'll cease * To clip, nor
care to be in other plight.'

And I abode with her a whole month, forsaking shop and family and
home, till one day she said to me, 'O light of my eyes, O my lord
Mohammed, I have determined to go to the Hammam to day; so sit
thou on this couch and rise not from thy place, till I return to
thee.' 'I hear and I obey,' answered I, and she made me swear to
this; after which she took her women and went off to the bath.
But by Allah, O my brothers, she had not reached the head of the
street ere the door opened and in came an old woman, who said to
me, 'O my lord Mohammed, the Lady Zubaydah biddeth thee to her,
for she hath heard of thy fine manners and accomplishments and
skill in singing.' I answered, 'By Allah, I will not rise from my
place till the Lady Dunya come back.' Rejoined the old woman, 'O
my lord, do not anger the Lady Zubaydah with thee and vex her so
as to make her thy foe: nay, rise up and speak with her and
return to thy place.' So I rose at once and followed her into the
presence of the Lady Zubaydah and, when I entered her presence
she said to me, 'O light of the eye, art thou the Lady Dunya's
beloved?' 'I am thy Mameluke, thy chattel,' replied I. Quoth she,
'Sooth spake he who reported thee possessed of beauty and grace
and good breeding and every fine quality; indeed, thou surpassest
all praise and all report. But now sing to me, that I may hear
thee.' Quoth I, 'Hearkening and obedience;' so she brought me a
lute, and I sang to it these couplets,

'The hapless lover's heart is of his wooing weary grown, * And
hand of sickness wasted him till naught but skin and bone
Who should be amid the riders which the haltered camels urge, *
But that same lover whose beloved cloth in the litters wone:
To Allah's charge I leave that moon-like Beauty in your tents *
Whom my heart loves, albe my glance on her may ne'er be
Now she is fain; then she is fierce: how sweet her coyness shows;
* Yea sweet whatever cloth or saith to lover loved one!'

When I had finished my song she said to me, 'Allah assain thy
body and thy voice! Verily, thou art perfect in beauty and good
breeding and singing. But now rise and return to thy place, ere
the Lady Dunya come back, lest she find thee not and be wroth
with thee.' Then I kissed the ground before her and the old woman
forewent me till I reached the door whence I came. So I entered
and, going up to the couch, found that my wife had come back from
the bath and was lying asleep there. Seeing this I sat down at
her feet and rubbed them; whereupon she opened her eyes and
seeing me, drew up both her feet and gave me a kick that threw me
off the couch,[FN#206] saying, 'O traitor, thou hast been false
to thine oath and hast perjured thyself. Thou swarest to me that
thou wouldst not rise from thy place; yet didst thou break thy
promise and go to the Lady Zubaydah. By Allah, but that I fear
public scandal, I would pull down her palace over her head!' Then
said she to her black slave, 'O Sawáb, arise and strike off this
lying traitor's head, for we have no further need of him.' So the
slave came up to me and, tearing a strip from his skirt, bandaged
with it my eyes[FN#207] and would have struck off my head;"--And
Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her
permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Ninety-third Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Mohammed
the Jeweller continued: "So the slave came up to me and, tearing
a strip from his skirt, bandaged with it my eyes and would have
struck off my head, but all her women, great and small, rose and
came up to her and said to her, 'O our lady, this is not the
first who hath erred: indeed, he knew not thy humour and hath
done thee no offence deserving death.' Replied she, 'By Allah, I
must needs set my mark on him.' And she bade them bash me; so
they beat me on my ribs and the marks ye saw are the scars of
that fustigation. Then she ordered them to cast me out, and they
carried me to a distance from the house and threw me down like a
log. After a time I rose and dragged myself little by little to
my own place, where I sent for a surgeon and showed him my hurts;
and he comforted me and did his best to cure me. As soon as I was
recovered I went to the Hammam and, as my pains and sickness had
left me, I repaired to my shop and took and sold all that was
therein. With the proceeds, I bought me four hundred white
slaves, such as no King ever got together, and caused two hundred
of them to ride out with me every day. Then I made me yonder
barge whereon I spent five thousand gold pieces; and styled
myself Caliph and appointed each of my servants to the charge of
some one of the Caliph's officers and clad him in official habit.
Moreover, I made proclamation, 'Whoso goeth a-pleasuring on the
Tigris by night, I will strike off his head, without ruth or
delay;' and on such wise have I done this whole year past, during
which time I have heard no news of the lady neither happened upon
any trace of her." Then wept he copiously and repeated these

"By Allah! while the days endure ne'er shall forget her I, * Nor
draw to any nigh save those who draw her to me nigh
Like to the fullest moon her form and favour show to me, * Laud
to her All-creating Lord, laud to the Lord on high,
She left me full of mourning, sleepless, sick with pine and pain
* And ceaseth not my heart to yearn her mystery[FN#208] to

Now when Harun al-Rashid heard the young man's story and knew the
passion and transport and love lowe that afflicted him, he was
moved to compassion and wonder and said, "Glory be to Allah, who
hath appointed to every effect a cause!" Then they craved the
young man's permission to depart; which being granted, they took
leave of him, the Caliph purposing to do him justice meet, and
him with the utmost munificence entreat; and they returned to the
palace of the Caliphate, where they changed clothes for others
befitting their state and sat down, whilst Masrur the Sworder of
High Justice stood before them. After awhile, quoth the Caliph to
Ja'afar, "O Wazir, bring me the young man'--And Shahrazad
perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Two hundred and Ninety-fourth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that quoth the
Caliph to his Minister, "Bring me the young man with whom we were
last night." "I hear and obey," answered Ja'afar and, going to
the youth, saluted him, saying, "Obey the summons of the
Commander of the Faithful, the Caliph Harun al-Rashid." So he
returned with him to the palace, in great anxiety by reason of
the summons; and, going in to the King, kissed ground before him;
and offered up a prayer for the endurance of his glory and
prosperity, for the accomplishment of his desires, for the
continuance of his beneficence and for the cessation of evil and
punishment; ordering his speech as best he might and ending by
saying, "Peace be on thee, O Prince of True Believers and
Protector of the folk of the Faith!" Then he repeated these two

"Kiss thou his fingers which no fingers are; * Keys of our daily
bread those fingers ken:
And praise his actions which no actions are, * But precious
necklaces round necks of men."

So the Caliph smiled in his face and returned his salute, looking
on him with the eye of favour; then he bade him draw near and sit
down before him and said to him, "O Mohammed Ali, I wish thee to
tell me what befel thee last night, for it was strange and
passing strange." Quoth the youth, "Pardon, O Commander of the
Faithful, give me the kerchief of immunity, that my dread may be
appeased and my heart eased." Replied the Caliph, "I promise thee
safety from fear and woes." So the young man told him his story
from first to last, whereby the Caliph knew him to be a lover and
severed from his beloved and said to him, "Desirest thou that I
restore her to thee?" "This were of the bounty of the Commander
of the Faithful," answered the youth and repeated these two

"Ne'er cease thy gate be Ka'abah to mankind; * Long may its
threshold dust man's brow beseem!
That o'er all countries it may be proclaimed, * This is the Place
and thou art Ibrahim."[FN#209]

Thereupon the Caliph turned to his Minister and said to him, "O
Ja'afar, bring me thy sister, the Lady Dunya, daughter of the
Wazir Yahya bin Khálid!" "I hear and I obey," answered he and
fetched her without let or delay. Now when she stood before the
Caliph he said to her, "Doss thou know who this is?"; and she
replied, "O Commander of the Faithful, how should women have
knowledge of men?"[FN#210] So the Caliph smiled and said, "O
Dunya this is thy beloved, Mohammed bin Ali the Jeweller. We are
acquainted with his case, for we have heard the whole story from
beginning to end, and have apprehended its inward and its
outward; and it is no more hidden from me, for all it was kept in
secrecy." Replied she, "O Commander of the Faithful, this was
written in the Book of Destiny; I crave the forgiveness of
Almighty Allah for the wrong I have wrought, and pray thee to
pardon me of thy favour." At this the Caliph laughed and,
summoning the Kazi and witnesses, renewed the marriage-contract
between the Lady Dunya and her husband, Mohammed Ali son of the
Jeweller, whereby there betided them, both her and him the utmost
felicity, and to their enviers mortification and misery.
Moreover, he made Mohammed Ali one of his boon-companions, and
they abode in joy and cheer and gladness, till there came to them
the Destroyer of delights and the Sunderer of societies. And men
also relate the pleasant tale of


It is said that the Caliph Harun al-Rashid, being restless one
night, sent for his Wazir and said to him, "O Ja'afar, I am sore
wakeful and heavy-hearted this night, and I desire of thee what
may solace my spirit and cause my breast to broaden with amuse
meet." Quoth Ja'afar, "O Commander of the Faithful, I have a
friend, by name Ali the Persian, who hath store of tales and plea
sent stories, such as lighten the heart and make care depart."
Quoth the Caliph, "Fetch him to me," and quoth Ja'afar,
"Hearkening and obedience;" and, going out from before him, sent
to seek Ali the Persian and when he came said to him, "Answer the
summons of the Commander of the Faithful." "To hear is to obey,"
answered Ali;--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased
to say her permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Ninety-fifth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Persian
replied, "To hear is to obey;" and at once followed the Wazir
into the presence of the Caliph who bade him be seated and said
to him, "O Ali, my heart is heavy within me this night and it
hath come to my ear that thou hast great store of tales and
anecdotes; so I desire of thee that thou let me hear what will
relieve my despondency and brighten my melancholy." Said he, "O
Commander of the Faithful, shall I tell thee what I have seen
with my eyes or what I have heard with my ears?" He replied, "An
thou have seen aught worth the telling, let me hear that."
Replied Ali: "Hearkening and obedience. Know thou, O Commander of
the Faithful, that some years ago I left this my native city of
Baghdad on a journey, having with me a lad who carried a light
leathern bag. Presently we came to a certain city, where, as I
was buying and selling, behold, a rascally Kurd fell on me and
seized my wallet perforce, saying, 'This is my bag, and all which
is in it is my property.' Thereupon, I cried aloud 'Ho
Moslems,[FN#211] one and all, deliver me from the hand of the
vilest of oppressors!' But the folk said, 'Come, both of you, to
the Kazi and abide ye by his judgment with joint consent.' So I
agreed to submit myself to such decision and we both presented
ourselves before the Kazi, who said, 'What bringeth you hither
and what is your case and your quarrel?' Quoth I, 'We are men at
difference, who appeal to thee and make complaint and submit
ourselves to thy judgment.' Asked the Kazi, 'Which of you is the
complainant?'; so the Kurd came forward[FN#212] and said, 'Allah
preserve our lord the Kazi! Verily, this bag is my bag and all
that is in it is my swag. It was lost from me and I found it with
this man mine enemy.' The Kazi asked, 'When didst thou lose it?';
and the Kurd answered, 'But yesterday, and I passed a sleepless
night by reason of its loss.' 'An it be thy bag,' quoth the Kazi,
'tell me what is in it.' Quoth the Kurd, 'There were in my bag
two silver styles for eye-powder and antimony for the eyes and a
kerchief for the hands, wherein I had laid two gilt cups and two
candlesticks. Moreover it contained two tents and two platters
and two spoons and a cushion and two leather rugs and two ewers
and a brass tray and two basins and a cooking-pot and two water-
jars and a ladle and a sacking-needle and a she-cat and two
bitches and a wooden trencher and two sacks and two saddles and a
gown and two fur pelisses and a cow and two calves and a she-goat
and two sheep and an ewe and two lambs and two green pavilions
and a camel and two she-camels and a lioness and two lions and a
she-bear and two jackals and a mattress and two sofas and an
upper chamber and two saloons and a portico and two sitting-rooms
and a kitchen with two doors and a company of Kurds who will bear
witness that the bag is my bag.' Then said the Kazi to me, 'And
thou, sirrah, what sayest thou?' So I came forward, O Commander
of the Faithful (and indeed the Kurd's speech had bewildered me)
and said, 'Allah advance our lord the Kazi! Verily, there was
naught in this my wallet, save a little ruined tenement and
another without a door and a dog house and a boys' school and
youths playing dice and tents and tent-ropes and the cities of
Bassorah and Baghdad and the palace of Shaddad bin Ad and an
ironsmith's forge and a fishing-net and cudgels and pickets and
girls and boys and a thousand pimps who will testify that the bag
is my bag.' Now when the Kurd heard my words, he wept and wailed
and said, 'O my lord the Kazi, this my bag is known and what is
in it is a matter of renown; for in this bag there be castles and
citadels and cranes and beasts of prey and men playing chess and
draughts. Furthermore, in this my bag is a brood-mare and two
colts and a stallion and two blood-steeds and two long lances;
and it containeth eke a lion and two hares and a city and two
villages and a whore and two sharking panders and an
hermaphrodite and two gallows birds and a blind man and two
wights with good sight and a limping cripple and two lameters and
a Christian ecclesiastic and two deacons and a patriarch and two
monks and a Kazi and two assessors, who will be evidence that the
bag is my bag.' Quoth the Kazi to me, 'And what sayst thou, O
Ali?' So, O Commander of the Faithful, being filled with rage, I
came forward and said, 'Allah keep our lord the Kazi!'"--And
Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her
permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Ninety-sixth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Persian
continued: "So being filled with rage, O Commander of the
Faithful, I came forward and said, 'Allah keep our lord the Kazi
I had in this my wallet a coat of mail and a broadsword and
armouries and a thousand fighting rams and a sheep-fold with its
pasturage and a thousand barking dogs and gardens and vines and
flowers and sweet smelling herbs and figs and apples and statues
and pictures and flagons and goblets and fair-faced slave-girls
and singing-women and marriage-feasts and tumult and clamour and
great tracts of land and brothers of success, which were robbers,
and a company of daybreak-raiders with swords and spears and bows
and arrows and true friends and dear ones and Intimates and
comrades and men imprisoned for punishment and cup-companions and
a drum and flutes and flags and banners and boys and girls and
brides (in all their wedding bravery), and singing-girls and five
Abyssinian women and three Hindi maidens and four damsels of
Al-Medinah and a score of Greek girls and eighty Kurdish dames
and seventy Georgian ladies and Tigris and Euphrates and a
fowling net and a flint and steel and Many-columned Iram and a
thousand rogues and pimps and horse-courses and stables and
mosques and baths and a builder and a carpenter and a plank and a
nail and a black slave with his flageolet and a captain and a
caravan leader and towns and cities and an hundred thousand
dinars and Cufa and Anbár[FN#213] and twenty chests full of
stuffs and twenty storehouses for victuals and Gaza and Askalon
and from Damietta to Al-Sawán[FN#214]; and the palace of Kisra
Anushirwan and the kingdom of Solomon and from Wadi Nu'umán to
the land of Khorasán and Balkh and Ispahán and from India to the
Sudán. Therein also (may Allah prolong the life of our lord the
Kazi!) are doublets and cloths and a thousand sharp razors to
shave off the Kazi's beard, except he fear my resentment and
adjudge the bag to be my bag.' Now when the Kazi heard what I and
the Kurd avouched, he was confounded and said, 'I see ye twain be
none other than two pestilent fellows, atheistical-villains who
make sport of Kazis and magistrates and stand not in fear of
reproach. Never did tongue tell nor ear hear aught more
extraordinary than that which ye pretend. By Allah, from China to
Shajarat Umm Ghaylán, nor from Fars to Sudan nor from Wadi
Nu'uman to Khorasan, was ever heard the like of what ye avouch or
credited the like of what ye affirm. Say, fellows, be this bag a
bottomless sea or the Day of Resurrection that shall gather
together the just and unjust?' Then the Kazi bade them open the
bag; so I opened it and behold, there was in it bread and a lemon
and cheese and olives. So I threw the bag down before the Kurd
and ganged my gait." Now when the Caliph heard this tale from Ali
the Persian, he laughed till he fell on his back and made him a
handsome present.[FN#215] And men also relate a


It is said that Ja'afar the Barmecide was one night carousing
with Al Rashid, who said, "O Ja'afar, it hath reached me that
thou hast bought such and such a slave-girl. Now I have long
sought her for she is passing fair; and my heart is taken up with
love of her, so do thou sell her to me." He replied, "I will not
sell her, O Commander of the Faithful." Quoth he, "Then give her
to me." Quoth the other, "Nor will I give her." Then Al-Rashid
exclaimed, "Be Zubaydah triply divorced an thou shall not either
sell or give her to me!" Then Ja'afar exclaimed, "Be my wife
triply divorced an I either sell or give her to thee!" After
awhile they recovered from their tipsiness and were aware of
having fallen into a grave dilemma, but knew not by what device
to extricate themselves. Then said Al-Rashid, "None can help us
in this strait but Abú Yúsuf."[FN#216] So they sent for him, and
this was in the middle of the night; and when the messenger
reached him, he arose in alarm, saying to himself, "I should not
be sent for at this tide and time, save by reason of some
question of moment to Al-Islam." So he went out in haste and
mounted his she-mule, saying to his servant, "Take the mule's
nose-bag with thee; it may be she hath not finished her feed; and
when we come to the Caliph's palace, put the bag on her, that she
may eat what is left of her fodder, during the last of the
night." And the man replied, "I hear and obey." Now when the Imam
was admitted to the presence, Al-Rashid rose to receive him and
seated him on the couch beside himself (where he was wont to seat
none save the Kazi), and said to him, "We have not sent for thee
at this untimely time and tide save to advise us upon a grave
matter, which is such and such and wherewith we know not how to
deal." And he expounded to him the case. Abu Yusuf answered, "O
Commander of the Faithful, this is the easiest of things." Then
he turned to Ja'afar and said, "O Ja'afar, sell half of her to
the Commander of the Faithful and give him the other half; so
shall ye both be quit of your oaths." The Caliph was delighted
with this and both did as he prescribed. Then said Al-Rashid,
"Bring me the girl at once,"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of
day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Ninety-seventh Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Caliph
Harun al-Rashid commanded, "Bring me the girl at once, for I long
for her exceedingly." So they brought her and the Caliph said to
Abu Yusuf, I have a mind to have her forthright, for I cannot
bear to abstain from her during the prescribed period of
purification; now how is this to be done?" Abu Yusuf replied,
"Bring me one of thine own male slaves who hath never been
manumitted." So they brought one and Abu Yusuf said, "Give me
leave to marry her to him; then let him divorce her before
consummation; and thus shall it be lawful for thee to lie with
her before purification." This second expedient pleased the
Caliph yet more than the first; he sent for the Mameluke and,
whenas he came, said to the Kazi "I authorise thee to marry her
to him." So the Imam proposed the marriage to the slave, who
accepted it, and performed the ceremony; after which he said to
the slave, "Divorce her, and thou shalt have an hundred dinars."
But he replied, "I won't do this;" and the Imam went on to
increase his offer, and the slave to refuse till he bid him a
thousand dinars. Then the man asked him, "Doth it rest with me to
divorce her, or with thee or with the Commander of the Faithful?"
He answered, "It is in thy hand." "Then by Allah," quoth the
slave, "I will never do it; no, never!" Hearing these words the
Caliph was exceeding wroth and said to the Imam, "What is to be
done, O Abu Yusuf?" Replied he, "Be not concerned, O Commander of
the Faithful; the thing is easy. Make this slave the damsel's
chattel." Quoth Al-Rashid, "I give him to her;" and the Imam said
to the girl, "Say: I accept." So she said, I accept;" whereon
quoth Abu Yusuf, "I pronounce separation from bed and board and
divorce between them, for that he hath become her property, and
so the marriage is annulled." With this, Al-Rashid rose to his
feet and exclaimed, "It is the like of thee that shall be Kazi in
my time." Then he called for sundry trays of gold and emptied
them before Abu Yusuf, to whom he said, "Hast thou wherein to put
this?" The Imam bethought him of the mule's nose-bag; so he sent
for it and, filling it with gold, took it and went home. And on
the morrow, he said to his friends, "There is no easier nor
shorter road to the goods of this world and the next, than that
of religious learning; for, see, I have gotten all this money by
answering two or three questions." So consider thou, O polite
reader,[FN#217] the pleasantness of this anecdote, for it
compriseth divers goodly features, amongst which are the
complaisance of Ja'afar to Al Rashid, and the wisdom of the
Caliph who chose such a Kazi and the excellent learning of Abu
Yusuf, may Almighty Allah have mercy on their souls one and all!
And they also tell the


When Khálid bin Abdallah al-Kasri[FN#218] was Emir of Bassorah,
there came to him one day a company of men dragging a youth of
exceeding beauty and lofty bearing and perfumed attire; whose
aspect expressed good breeding, abundant wit and dignity of the
gravest. They brought him before the Governor, who asked what it
was and they replied, "This fellow is a thief, whom we caught
last night in our dwelling-house." Whereupon Khálid looked at him
and was pleased with his well-favouredness and elegant aspect; so
he said to the others, "Loose him," and going up to the young
man, asked what he had to say for himself. He replied, "Verily
the folk have spoken truly and the case is as they have said."
Quoth Khálid, "And what moved thee to this and thou so noble of
port and comely of mien?" Quoth the other "The lust after worldly
goods, and the ordinance of Allah (extolled exalted be He!)."
Rejoined Khálid, "Be thy mother bereaved of thee![FN#219] Hadst
thou not, in thy fair face and sound sense and good breeding,
what should restrain thee from thieving?" Answered the young man,
"O Emir, leave this talk and proceed to what Almighty Allah hath
ordained; this is what my hands have earned, and, 'God is not
unjust towards mankind.'"[FN#220] So Khálid was silent awhile
considering the matter then he bade the young man draw near him
and said, "Verily, thy confession before witnesses perplexeth me,
for I cannot believe thee to be a thief: haply thou hast some
story that is other than one of theft; and if so tell it me."
Replied the youth "O Emir, imagine naught other than what I have
confessed to in thy presence; for I have no tale to tell save
that verily I entered these folks' house and stole what I could
lay hands on and they caught me and took the stuff from me and
carried me before thee." Then Khalid bade clap him in gaol and
commended a crier to cry throughout Bassorah, "O yes! O yes!
Whoso be minded to look upon the punishment of such an one, the
thief, and the cutting-off of his hand, let him be present to-
morrow morning at such a place!" Now when the young man found
himself in prison, with irons on his feet, he sighed heavily and
with tears streaming from his eyes extemporized these couplets,

"When Khálid menaced off to strike my hand * If I refuse to tell
him of her case;
Quoth I, 'Far, far fro' me that I should tell * A love, which
ever shall my heart engrace;
Loss of my hand for sin I have confessed * To me were easier than
to shame her face.'"

The warders heard him and went and told Khálid who, when it was
dark night, sent for the youth and conversed with him. He found
him clever and well-bred, intelligent, lively and a pleasant
companion; so he ordered him food and he ate. Then after an
hour's talk said Khálid, "I know indeed thou hast a story to tell
that is no thief's; so when the Kazi shall come to-morrow morning
and shall question thee about this robbery, do thou deny the
charge of theft and avouch what may avert the pain and penalty of
cutting off thy hand; for the Apostle (whom Allah bless and
keep!) saith, 'In cases of doubt, eschew punishment.'" Then he
sent him back to prison,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day
and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Ninety-eighth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Khálid,
after conversing with the youth, sent him back to prison, where
he passed the night. And when morning dawned the folk assembled
to see his hand cut off, nor was there a soul in Bassorah, man or
woman, but was present to look upon the punishment of that
handsome youth. Then Khálid mounted in company of the notables of
the city and others; and, summoning all four Kazis, sent for the
young man, who came hobbling and stumbling in his fetters. There
was none saw him but wept over him and the women all lifted up
their voices in lamentation as for the dead. Then the Kazi bade
silence the women and said to the prisoner, "These folk avouch
that thou didst enter their dwelling-house and steal their goods:
belike thou stolest less than a quarter dinar[FN#221]?" Replied
he, "Nay, I stole that and more." "Peradventure," rejoined the
Kazi "thou art partner with the folk in some of the goods?" Quoth
the young man; "Not so: it was all theirs, and I had no right in
it." At this the Khálid was wroth and rose and smote him on the
face with his whip, applying to his own case this couplet,

"Man wills his wish to him accorded be; * But Allah naught
accords save what He wills."

Then he called for the butcher to do the work, who came and drew
forth his knife and taking the prisoner's hand set the blade to
it, when, behold, a damsel pressed through the crowd of women,
clad in tattered clothes,[FN#222] and cried out and threw herself
on the young man. Then she unveiled and showed a face like the
moon whereupon the people raised a mighty clamour and there was
like to have been a riot amongst them and a violent scene. But
she cried out her loudest, saying, "I conjure thee, by Allah, O
Emir, hasten not to cut off this man's hand, till thou have read
what is in this scroll!" So saying, she gave him a scroll, and
Khálid took it and opened it and read therein these couplets,

"Ah Khálid! this one is a slave of love distraught, * And these
bowed eye-lashes sent shaft that caused his grief:
Shot him an arrow sped by eyes of mine, for he, * Wedded to
burning love of ills hath no relief:
He hath avowed a deed he never did, the while * Deeming this
better than disgrace of lover fief:
Bear then, I pray, with this distracted lover mine * Whose noble
nature falsely calls himself a thief!"

When Khálid had read these lines he withdrew himself from the
people and summoned the girl and questioned her; and she told him
that the young man was her lover and she his mistress; and that
thinking to visit her he came to the dwelling of her people and
threw a stone into the house, to warn her of his coming. Her
father and brothers heard the noise of the stone and sallied out
on him; but he, hearing them coming, caught up all the household
stuff and made himself appear a robber to cover his mistress's
honour. "Now when they saw him they seized him (continued she),
crying:--A thief! and brought him before thee, whereupon he
confessed to the robbery and persisted in his confession, that he
might spare me disgrace; and this he did, making himself a thief,
of the exceeding nobility and generosity of his nature." Khálid
answered, "He is indeed worthy to have his desire;" and, calling
the young man to him, kissed him between the eyes. Then he sent
for the girl's father and bespoke him, saying, "O Shaykh, we
thought to carry out the law of mutilation in the case of this
young man; but Allah (to whom be Honour and Glory!) hath
preserved us from this, and I now adjudge him the sum of ten
thousand dirhams, for that he would have given his hand for the
preservation of thine honour and that of thy daughter and for the
sparing of shame to you both. Moreover, I adjudge other ten
thousand dirhams to thy daughter, for that she made known to me
the truth of the case; and I ask thy leave to marry her to him."
Rejoined the old man, "O Emir, thou hast my consent." So Khálid
praised Allah and thanked Him and improved the occasion by
preaching a goodly sermon and a prayerful;--And Shahrazad
perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Ninety-ninth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Khálid
praised Allah and thanked Him and improved the occasion by
preaching a goodly sermon and a prayerful; after which he said to
the young man, "I give thee to wife the damsel, such an one here
present, with her own permission and her father's consent; and
her wedding settlement shall be this money, to wit, ten thousand
dirhams." "I accept this marriage at thy hands," replied the
youth; and Khálid bade them carry the money on brass trays in
procession to the young man's house, whilst the people dispersed,
fully satisfied. "And surely (quoth he who tells the
tale[FN#223]) never saw I a rarer day than this, for that it
began with tears and annoy; and it ended with smiles and joy."
And in contrast of this story is this piteous tale of


When Harun al-Rashid crucified Ja'afar the Barmecide[FN#224] he
commended that all who wept or made moan for him should also be
crucified; so the folk abstained from that. Now it chanced that a
wild Arab, who dwelt in a distant word, used every year to bring
to the aforesaid Ja'afar an ode[FN#225] in his honour, for which
he rewarded him with a thousand dinars; and the Badawi took them
and, returning to his own country, lived upon them, he and his
family, for the rest of the year. Accordingly, he came with his
ode at the wonted time and, finding that Ja'afar had been
crucified, betook himself to the place where his body was
hanging, and there made his camel kneel down and wept with sore
weeping and mourned with grievous mourning; and he recited his
ode and fell asleep. Presently Ja'afar the Barmecide appeared to
him in a vision and said, "Verily thou hast wearied thyself to
come to us and findest us as thou seest; but go to Bassorah and
ask for a man there whose name is such and such, one of the
merchants of the town, and say to him, 'Ja'afar, the Barmecide,
saluteth thee and biddeth thee give me a thousand dinars, by the
token of the bean.'" Now when the wild Arab awoke, he repaired to
Bassorah, where he sought out the merchant and found him and
repeated to him what Ja'afar had said in the dream; whereupon he
wept with weeping so sore that he was like to depart the world.
Then he welcomed the Badawi and seated him by his side and made
his stay pleasant and entertained him three days as an honoured
guest; and when he was minded to depart he gave him a thousand
and five hundred dinars, saying, "The thousand are what is
commanded to thee, and the five hundred are a gift from me to
thee; and every year thou shalt have of me a thousand gold
pieces." Now when the Arab was about to take leave, he said to
the merchant, "Allah upon thee, tell me the story of the bean,
that I may know the origin of all this." He answered: "In the
early part of my life I was poor and hawked hot beans[FN#226]
about the streets of Baghdad to keep me alive. So I went out one
raw and rainy day, without clothes enough on my body to protect
me from the weather; now shivering for excess of cold and now
stumbling into the pools of rain-water, and altogether in so
piteous a plight as would make one shudder with goose-skin to
look upon. But it chanced that Ja'afar that day was seated with
his officers and his concubines, in an upper chamber overlooking
the street when his eyes fell on me; so he took pity on my case
and, sending one of his dependents to fetch me to him, said as
soon as he saw me, 'Sell thy beans to my people.' So I began to
mete out the beans with a measure I had by me; and each who took
a measure of beans filled the measure with gold pieces till all
my store was gone and my basket was clean empty. Then I gathered
together the gold I had gotten, and Ja'afar said to me, 'Hast
thou any beans left?' 'I know not,' answered I, and then sought
in the basket, but found only one bean. So Ja'afar took from me
the single bean and, splitting it in twain, kept one half himself
and gave the other to one of his concubines, saying, 'For how
much wilt thou buy this half bean?' She replied, 'For the tale of
all this gold twice-told;' whereat I was confounded and said to
myself, 'This is impossible.' But, as I stood wondering, behold,
she gave an order to one of her hand-maids and the girl brought
me the sum of the collected monies twice-told. Then said Ja'afar,
'And I will buy the half I have by me for double the sum of the
whole,' presently adding, 'Now take the price of thy bean.' And
he gave an order to one of his servants, who gathered together
the whole of the money and laid it in my basket; and I took it
and went my ways. Then I betook myself to Bassorah, where I
traded with the monies and Allah prospered me amply, to Him be
the praise and the thanks! So, if I give thee every year a
thousand dinars of the bounty of Ja'afar, it will in no wise
injure me. Consider then the munificence of Ja'afar's nature and
how he was praised both alive and dead, the mercy of Allah
Almighty be upon him! And men also recount the tale of


It is told that Harun al-Rashid was sitting one day on the throne
of the Caliphate, when there came in to him a youth of his
eunuchry, bearing a crown of red gold, set with pearls and rubies
and all manner of other gems and jewels, such as money might not
buy; and, bussing the ground between his hands, said, "O
Commander of the Faithful, the Lady Zubaydah kisseth the earth
before thee"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased
to say her permitted say. Whereupon quoth her sister Dunyazad,
"How pleasant is thy tale and profitable; and how sweet is thy
speech and how delectable!" "And where is this," replied
Shahrazad, "compared with what I shall tell you next night an I
live and the King grant me leave!" Thereupon quoth the King to
himself, "By Allah, I will not slay her until I hear the end of
her tale."

When it was the Three Hundredth Night,

Quoth Dunyazad, "favour us, O my sister, with thy tale," and she
replied, 'With joy and good will, if the King accord me leave;"
whereupon the King said, "Tell thy tale, O Shahrazad." So she
pursued: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the youth
said to the Caliph, "The Lady Zubaydah kisseth the earth before
thee and saith to thee, Thou knowest she hath bidden make this
crown, which lacketh a great jewel for its dome-top; and she hath
made search among her treasures, but cannot find a jewel of size
to suit her mind." Quoth the Caliph to his Chamberlains and
Viceregents, Make search for a great jewel, such as Zubaydah
desireth." So they sought, but found nothing befitting her and
told the Caliph who, vexed and annoyed thereat, exclaimed, "How
am I Caliph and King of the Kings of the earth and cannot find so
small a matter as a jewel? Woe to you! Ask of the merchants." So
they enquired of the traders, who replied, "Our lord the Caliph
will not find a jewel such as he requireth save with a man of
Bassorah, by name Abú Mohammed highs Lazybones." Thereupon they
acquainted the Caliph with this and he bade his Wazir Ja'afar
send a note to the Emir Mohammed al-Zubaydí, Governor of
Bassorah, commanding him to equip Abu Mohammed Lazybones and
bring him into the presence of the Commander of the Faithful. The
Minister accordingly wrote a note to that effect and despatched
it by Masrur, who set out forthright for the city of Bassorah,
and went in to the Emir Mohammed al-Zubaydi, who rejoiced in him
and treated him with the high-most honour. Then Masrur read him
the mandate of the Prince of True Believers, Harun al-Rashid, to
which he replied, "I hear and I obey," and forthwith despatched
him, with a company of his followers, to Abu Mohammed's house.
When they reached it, they knocked at the door, whereupon a page
came out and Masrur said to him, "Tell thy lord, The Commander of
the Faithful summoneth thee." The servant went in and told his
master, who came out and found Masrur, the Caliph's Chamberlain,
and a company of the Governor's men at the door. So he kissed
ground before Masrur and said, "I hear and obey the summons of
the Commander of the Faithful; but first enter ye my house." They
replied, "We cannot do that, save in haste; even as the Prince of
True Believers commanded us, for he awaiteth thy coming." But he
said, "Have patience with me a little, till I set my affairs in
order." So after much pressure and abundant persuasion, they
entered the house with him and found the vestibule hung with
curtains of azure brocade, purfled with red gold, and Abu
Mohammed Lazybones bade one of his servants carry Masrur to the
private Hammam. Now this bath was in the house and Masrur found
its walls and floors of rare and precious marbles, wrought with
gold and silver, and its waters mingled with rose-water. Then the
servants served Masrur and his company with the perfection of
service; and, on their going forth of the Hammam, clad them in
robes of honour, brocade-work interwoven with gold. And after
leaving the bath Masrur and his men went in to Abu Mohammed
Lazybones and found him seated in his upper chamber; and over his
head hung curtains of gold-brocade, wrought with pearls and
jewels, and the pavilion was spread with cushions, embroidered in
red gold. Now the owner was sitting softly upon a quilted cloth
covering a settee inlaid with stones of price; and, when he saw
Masrur, he went forward to meet him and bidding him welcome,
seated him by his side. Then he called for the food-trays; so
they brought them, and when Masrur saw the tables, he exclaimed,
"By Allah, never did I behold the like of these appointments in
the palace of the Commander of the Faithful!" For indeed the
trays contained every manner of meat all served in dishes of
gilded porcelain.[FN#227] "So we ate and drank and made merry
till the end of the day (quoth Masrur) when the host gave to each
and every of us five thousand dinars, and on the morrow he clad
us in dresses of honour of green and gold and entreated us with
the utmost worship." Then said Masrur to him, "We can tarry no
longer for fear of the Caliph's displeasure." Answered Abu
Mohammed Lazybones, "O my lord, have patience with us till the
morrow, that we may equip ourselves, and we will then depart with
you." So they tarried with him that day and slept the night; and
next morning Abu Mohammed's servants saddled him a she mule with
selle and trappings of gold, set with all manner of pearls and
stones of price; whereupon quoth Masrur to himself, "I wonder,
when Abu Mohammed shall present himself in such equipage, if the
Caliph will ask him how he came by all this wealth." Thereupon
they took leave of Al-Zubaydi and, setting out from Bassorah,
fared on, without ceasing to fare till they reached Baghdad-city
and presented themselves before the Caliph, who bade Abu Mohammed
be seated. He sat down and addressed the Caliph in courtly
phrase, saying, "O Commander of the Faithful, I have brought with
me an humble offering by way of homage: have I thy gracious
permission to produce it?" Al-Rashid replied, "There is no harm
in that,"[FN#228] whereupon Abu Mohammed bade his men bring in a
chest, from which he took a number of rarities, and amongst the
rest, trees of gold with leaves of white emeraid,[FN#229] and
fruits of pigeon blood rubies and topazes and new pearls and
bright. And as the Caliph was struck with admiration he fetched a
second chest and brought out of it a tent of brocade, crowned
with pearls and jacinths and emeralds and jaspers and other
precious stones; its poles were of freshly cut Hindi aloes-wood,
and its skirts were set with the greenest smaragds. Thereon were
depicted all manner of animals such as beasts and birds, spangled
with precious stones, rubies, emeralds, chrysolites and balasses
and every kind of precious metal. Now when Al-Rashid saw these
things, he rejoiced with exceeding joy and Abu Mohammed Lazybones
said to him, "O Commander of the Faithful, deem not that I have
brought these to thee, fearing aught or coveting anything; but I
knew myself to be but a man of the people and that such things
befitted none save the Commander of the Faithful. And now, with
thy leave, I will show thee, for thy diversion, something of what
I can do." Al-Rashid replied, "Do what thou wilt, that we may
see." "To hear is to obey," said Abu Mohammed and, moving his
lips, beckoned the palace battlements,[FN#230] whereupon they
inclined to him; then he made another sign to them, and they
returned to their place. Presently he made a sign with his eye,
and there appeared before him closets with closed doors, to which
he spoke, and lo! the voices of birds answered him from within.
The Caliph marvelled with passing marvel at this and said to him,
"How camest thou by all this, seeing that thou art known only as
Abu Mohammed Lazybones, and they tell me that thy father was a
cupper serving in a public Hammam, who left thee nothing?"
Whereupon he answered, "Listen to my story" And Shahrazed
perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.


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