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

Part 5 out of 7

have no occupation, for I am a poor dervish." Then said she to
her attendants, "Bring me table of sand and pen of brass." So
they brought her what she sought, as of wont; and she took the
pen and made the dots which formed the figure and considered it
awhile, then raising her head to Rashid al-Din, she said, "O dog,
how darest thou lie to Kings? Thy name is Rashid al-Din the
Nazarene, thou art outwardly a Moslem, but a Christian at heart,
and thine occupation is to lay snares for the slave-girls of the
Moslems and make them captives. Speak the truth, or I will smite
off thy head." He hesitated and stammered, then replied, "Thou
sayest sooth, O King of the age!" Whereupon she commanded to
throw him down and give him an hundred blows with a stick on each
sole and a thousand stripes with a whip on his body; after which
she bade flay him and stuff his skin with herds of flax and dig a
pit without the city, wherein they should burn his corpse and
cast on his ashes offal-and ordure. They did as she bade them and
she gave the people leave to eat. So they ate and when they had
eaten their fill they went their ways, while Queen Zumurrud
returned to her palace, saying, "I thank Allah for solacing my
heart of those who wronged me." Then she praised the Creator of
the earth and the heavens and repeated these couplets,

"They ruled awhile and theirs was harsh tyrannic rule, * But soon
that rule went by as though it never were:
If just they had won justice; but they sinned, and so * The world
collected all its bane for them to bear:
So died they and their case's tongue declares aloud * This is for
that so of the world your blaming spare."

And when her verse was ended she called to mind her lord Ali Shar
and wept flowing tears; but presently recovered herself and said,
"Haply Allah, who hath given mine enemies into my hand, will
vouchsafe me the speedy return of my beloved;" and she begged
forgiveness of Allah (be He extolled and exalted')--And Shahrazad
perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Three Hundred and Twenty-fourth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Queen
begged forgiveness of Allah (be He extolled and exalted!), and
said, "Haply He will vouchsafe me speedy reunion with my beloved
Ali Shar for He can do what He willeth and to His servants
showeth grace, ever mindful of their case!" Then she praised
Allah and again besought forgiveness of Him, submitting herself
to the decrees of destiny, assured that each beginning hath his
end, and repeating the saying of the poet,

"Take all things easy; for all worldly things * In Allah's hand
are ruled by Destiny:
Ne'er shall befal thee aught of things forbidden, * Nor what is
bidden e'er shall fail to thee!"

And what another saith.

"Roll up thy days[FN#314] and easy shall they roll * Through
life, nor haunt the house of grief and dole:
Full many a thing, which is o'er hard to find,* Next hour shall
bring thee to delight thy soul."

And what a third saith,[FN#315]

"Be mild what time thou'rt ta'en with anger and despite * And
patient, if there fall misfortune on thy head.
Indeed, the nights are quick and great with child by Time * And
of all wondrous things are hourly brought to bed."

And what a fourth saith,

"Take patience which breeds good if patience thou can learn; * Be
calm soured, scaping anguish-draughts that gripe and bren:
Know, that if patience with good grace thou dare refuse, * With
ill-graced patience thou shalt bear what wrote the Pen."

After which she abode thus another whole month's space, judging
the folk and bidding and forbidding by day, and by night weeping
and bewailing her separation from her lord Ali Shar. On the first
day of the fifth month, she bade them spread the banquet on the
race-plain, according to custom, and sat down at the head of the
tables, whilst the lieges awaited the signal to fall to, leaving
the place before the dish of rice vacant. She sat with eyes fixed
upon the gate of the horse-course, noting all who entered and
saying in her soul, "O Thou who restoredest Joseph to Jacob and
diddest away the sorrows of Job,[FN#316] vouchsafe of Thy might
and Thy majesty to restore me my lord Ali Shar; for Thou over all
things art Omnipotent, O Lord of the Worlds! O Guide of those who
go astray! O Hearer of those that cry! O Answerer of those who
pray, answer Thou my prayer, O Lord of all creatures." Now hardly
had she made an end of her prayer and supplication when behold,
she saw entering the gate of the horse-plain a young man, in
shape like a willow branch, the comeliest of youths and the most
accomplished, save that his face was wan and his form wasted by
weariness. Now as he entered and came up to the tables, he found
no seat vacant save that over against the dish of sweet rice so
he sat down there; and, when Zumurrud looked upon him, her heart
fluttered and, observing him narrowly, she knew him for her lord
Ali Shar, and was like to have cried out for joy, but restrained
herself, fearing disgrace before the folk and, albeit her bowels
yearned over him and her heart beat wildly, she hid what she
felt. Now the cause of his coming thither was on this wise. After
he fell asleep upon the bench and Zumurrud let herself down to
him and Jawan the Kurd seized her, he presently awoke and found
himself lying with his head bare, so he knew that some one had
come upon him and had robbed him of his turband whilst he slept.
So he spoke the saying which shall never shame its sayer and,
which is, "Verily, we are Allah's and to Him are we returning!"
and, going back to the old woman's house, knocked at the door.
She came out and he wept before her, till he fell down in a
fainting fit. Now when he came to himself, he told her all that
had passed, and she blamed him and chid him for his foolish
doings saying, "Verily thine affliction and calamity come from
thyself." And she gave not over reproaching him, till the blood
streamed from his nostrils and he again fainted away. When he
recovered from his swoon,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of
day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Three Hundred and Twenty-fifth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Ali
Shar recovered from his swoon he saw the old woman bewailing his
griefs and weeping over him; so he complained of his hard lot and
repeated these two couplets,

"How bitter to friends is a parting, * And a meeting how sweet to
the lover!
Allah join all the lovers He parteth, * And save me who of love
ne'er recover."[FN#317]

The old woman mourned over him and said to him, "Sit here, whilst
I go in quest of news for thee and return to thee in haste." "To
hear is to obey," answered he. So she left him on her good errand
and was absent till midday, when she returned and said to him, "O
Ali, I fear me thou must die in thy grief; thou wilt never see
thy beloved again save on the bridge Al-Sirát;[FN#318] for the
people of the Christian's house, when they arose in the morning,
found the window giving on the garden torn from its hinges and
Zumurrud missing, and with her a pair of saddle-bags full of the
Christian's money. And when I came thither, I saw the Chief of
Police standing at the door, he and his many, and there is no
Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the
Great!" Now, as Ali Shar heard these words, the light in his
sight was changed to the darkness of night and he despaired of
life and made sure of death; nor did he leave weeping, till he
lost his senses. When he revived, love and longing were sore upon
him; there befel him a grievous sickness and he kept his house a
whole year; during which the old woman ceased not to bring him
doctors and ply him with ptisanes and diet-drinks and make him
savoury broths till, after the twelve-month ended, his life
returned to him. Then he recalled what had passed and repeated
these couplets,

"Severance-grief nighmost, Union done to death, * Down-railing
tear-drops, heart fire tortureth!
Redoubleth pine in one that hath no peace * For love and wake and
woe he suffereth:
O Lord, if there be thing to joy my soul * Deign Thou bestow it
while I breathe my breath."

When the second year began, the old woman said to him, "O my son,
all this thy weeping and wailing will not bring thee back thy
mistress. Rise, therefore, gird the loins of resolution and seek
for her in the lands: peradventure thou shalt light on some news
of her." And she ceased not to exhort and hearten him, till he
took courage and she carried him to the Hammam. Then she made him
drink strong wine and eat white meats, and thus she did with him
for a whole month, till he regained strength; and setting out
journeyed without ceasing till he arrived at Zumurrud's city
where he went to the horse-course, and sat down before the dish
of sweet rice and put out his hand to eat of it. Now when the
folk saw this, they were concerned for him and said to him, "O
young man, eat not of that dish, for whoso eateth thereof,
misfortune befalleth him." Answered he, "Leave me to eat of it,
and let them do with me what they will, so haply shall I be at
rest from this wearying life." Accordingly he ate a first
mouthful, and Zumurrud was minded to have him brought before her,
but then she bethought her that belike he was an hungered and
said to herself, "It were properer to let him eat his fill." So
he went on eating, whilst the folk looked at him in astonishment,
waiting to see what would betide him; and, when he had satisfied
himself, Zumurrud said to certain of her eunuchry, "Go to yonder
youth who eateth of the rice and bring him to me in courteous
guise, saying: 'Answer the summons of the King who would have a
word with thee on some slight matter.'" They replied, "We hear
and obey," and going straightways up to Ali Shar, said to him, "O
my lord, be pleased to answer the summons of the King and let thy
heart be at ease." Quoth he, "Hearkening and obedience;" and
followed the eunuchs,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day
and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Three Hundred and Twenty-sixth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Ali Shar
rejoined, "Hearkening and obedience;" and followed the eunuchs,
whilst the people said to one another, "There is no Majesty and
there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! I
wonder what the King will do with him!" And others said, "He will
do him naught but good: for had he intended to harm him, he had
not suffered him to eat his fill." Now when the Castratos set him
in presence of Zumurrud he saluted and kissed the earth before
her, whilst she returned his salutation and received him with
honour. Then she asked him, "What may be thy name and trade, and
what brought thee to our city?"; and he answered, "O King my name
is Ali Shar; I am of the sons of the merchants of Khorasan; and
the cause of my coming hither is to seek for a slave-girl whom I
have lost for she was dearer to me than my hearing and my seeing,
and indeed my soul cleaveth to her, since I lost her; and such is
my tale." So saying he wept, till he swooned away; whereupon she
bade them sprinkle rose-water on his face, which they did till he
revived, when she said, "Here with the table of sand and the
brass pen." So they brought them and she took the pen and struck
a geomantic scheme which she considered awhile; and then cried,
"Thou hast spoken sooth, Allah will grant thee speedy reunion
with her; so be not troubled." Upon this she commanded her head-
chamberlain to carry him to the bath and afterwards to clothe him
in a handsome suit of royal-apparel, and mount him on one of the
best of the King's horses and finally bring him to the palace at
the last of the day. So the Chamberlain, after saying "I hear and
I obey," took him away, whilst the folk began to say to one
another, "What maketh the King deal thus courteously with yonder
youth?" And quoth one, "Did I not tell you that he would do him
no hurt?; for he is fair of aspect; and this I knew, ever since
the King suffered him to eat his fill." And each said his say;
after which they all dispersed and went their ways. As for
Zumurrud, she thought the night would never come, that she might
be alone with the beloved of her heart. As soon as it was dark,
she withdrew to her sleeping-chamber and made her attendants
think her overcome with sleep; and it was her wont to suffer none
to pass the night with her save those two little eunuchs who
waited upon her. After a while when she had composed herself, she
sent for her dear Ali Shar and sat down upon the bed, with
candles burning over her head and feet, and hanging lamps of gold
lighting up the place like the rising sun. When the people heard
of her sending for Ali Shar, they marvelled thereat and each man
thought his thought and said his say; but one of them declared,
"At all events the King is in love with this young man, and to-
morrow he will make him generalissimo of the army."[FN#319] Now
when they brought him into her, he kissed the ground between her
hands and called down blessings her, and she said in her mind,
"There is no help for it but that I jest with him awhile, before
I make myself known to him.''[FN#320] Then she asked him, "O Ali,
say me, hast thou been to the Hammam?"[FN#321] and he answered,
"Yes, O my lord." Quoth she, "Come, eat of this chicken and meat,
and drink of this wine and sherbet of sugar; for thou art weary;
and after that come thou hither." "I hear and I obey," replied he
and did as she commanded him do. Now when he had made an end of
eating and drinking, she said to him, "Come up with me on the
couch and shampoo[FN#322] my feet." So he fell to rubbing feet
and kneading calves, and found them softer than silk. Then said
she, "Go higher with the massage;" and he, "Pardon me, O my lord,
to the knee but no farther!" Whereupon quoth she, "Durst thou
disobey me?: it shall be an ill-omened night for thee!"--And
Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her
permitted say.

When it was the Three Hundred and Twenty-seventh Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Zumurrud
cried to her lord, Ali Shar, "Durst thou disobey me?: it shall be
an ill-omened night for thee! Nay, but it behoveth thee to do my
bidding and I will make thee my minion and appoint thee one of my
Emirs." Asked Ali Shar, "And in what must I do thy bidding, O
King of the age?" and she answered, "Doff thy trousers and lie
down on thy face." Quoth he, "That is a thing in my life I never
did; and if thou force me thereto, verily I will accuse thee
thereof before Allah on Resurrection-day. Take everything thou
hast given me and let me go from thy city." And he wept and
lamented; but she said, "Doff thy trousers and lie down on thy
face, or I will strike off thy head." So he did as she bade him
and she mounted upon his back; and he felt what was softer than
silk and smoother than cream and said in himself, "Of a truth,
this King is nicer than all the women!" Now for a time she abode
on his back, then she turned over on the bed, and he said to
himself, "Praised be Allah! It seemeth his yard is not standing."
Then said she, "O Ali, it is of the wont of my prickle that it
standeth not, except they rub it with their hands; so, come, rub
it with thy hand, till it be at stand, else will I slay thee." So
saying, she lay down on her back and taking his hand, set it to
her parts, and he found these same parts softer than silk; white,
plumply-rounded, protuberant, resembling for heat the hot room of
the bath or the heart of a lover whom love-longing hath wasted.
Quoth Ali in himself, "Verily, our King hath a coynte; this is
indeed a wonder of wonders!" And lust get hold on him and his
yard rose and stood upright to the utmost of its height; which
when Zumurrud saw, she burst out laughing and said to him, "O my
lord, all this happeneth and yet thou knowest me not!" He asked
"And who art thou, O King?"; and she answered, "I am thy slave-
girl Zumurrud." Now whenas he knew this and was certified that
she was indeed his very slave-girl, Zumurrud, he kissed her and
embraced her and threw himself upon her as the lion upon the
lamb. Then he sheathed his steel rod in her scabbard and ceased
not to play the porter at her door and the preacher in her pulpit
and the priest[FN#323] at her prayer niche, whilst she with him
ceased not from inclination and prostration and rising up and
sitting down, accompanying her ejaculations of praise and of
"Glory to Allah!" with passionate movements and wrigglings and
claspings of his member[FN#324] and other amorous gestures, till
the two little eunuchs heard the noise. So they came and peeping
from behind the curtains saw the King lying on his back and upon
him Ali Shar, thrusting and slashing whilst she puffed and blew
and wriggled. Quoth they, "Verily, this be no man's wriggle:
belike this King is a woman.''[FN#325] But they concealed their
affair and discovered it to none. And when the morrow came,
Zumurrud summoned all the troops and the lords of the realm and
said to them, "I am minded to journey to this man's country; so
choose you a viceroy, who shall rule over you till I return to
you." And they answered, "We hear and we obey." Then she applied
herself to making ready the wants of the way, to wit provaunt and
provender, monies and rarities for presents, camels and mules and
so forth; after which she set out from her city with Ali Shar,
and they ceased not faring on, till they arrived at his native
place, where he entered his house and gave many gifts to his
friends and alms and largesse to the poor. And Allah vouchsafed
him children by her, and they both lived the gladdest and
happiest of lives, till there came to them the Destroyer of
delights and the Severer of societies and the Garnerer of graves.
And glorified be He the Eternal without cease, and praised be He
in every case! And amongst other tales they tell one of


It is related that the Commander of the Faithful, Harun al-Rashid
was uneasy[FN#326] one night and could not sleep; so that he
ceased not to toss from side to side for very restlessness, till,
growing weary of this, he called Masrur and said to him, "Ho,
Masrur, find me some one who may solace me in this my
wakefulness." He answered, "O Prince of True Believers, wilt thou
walk in the palace-garden and divert thyself with the sight of
its blooms and gaze upon the stars and constellations and note
the beauty of their ordinance and the moon among them rising in
sheen over the water?" Quoth the Caliph, "O Masrur, my heart
inclineth not to aught of this." Quoth he, "O my lord, there are
in thy palace three hundred concubines, each of whom hath her
separate chamber. Do thou bid all and every retire into her own
apartment and then do thou go thy rounds and amuse thyself with
gazing on them without their knowledge." The Caliph replied, "O
Masrur, the palace is my palace and the girls are my property:
furthermore my soul inclineth not to aught of this." Then Masrur
rejoined, "O my lord, summon the doctors of law and religion and
the sages of science and poets, and bid them contend before thee
in argument and disputation and recite to thee songs and verses
and tell thee tales and anecdotes." Replied the Caliph, "My soul
inclineth not to aught of this;" and Masrur rejoined, "O my lord,
bid pretty boys and the wits and the cup-companions attend thee
and solace thee with witty sallies." "O Masrur," ejaculated the
Caliph, "indeed my soul inclineth not to aught of this." "Then, O
my lord," cried Masrur, "strike off my head;"--And Shahrazad
perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Three Hundred and Twenty-eighth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Masrur
cried out to the Caliph, "O my lord, strike off my head; haply
that will dispel thine unease and do away the restlessness that
is upon thee." So Al-Rashid laughed at his saying and said, "See
which of the boon-companions is at the door." Thereupon he went
out and returning, said, "O my lord, he who sits without is Ali
bin Mansur of Damascus, the Wag."[FN#327] "Bring him to me,"
quoth Harun: and Masrur went out and returned with Ibn Mansur,
who said, on entering, "Peace be with thee, O Commander of the
Faithful!" The Caliph returned his salutation and said to him, "O
Ibn Mansur, tell us some of thy stories." Said the other, "O
Commander of the Faithful, shall I tell thee what I have seen
with my eyes or what I have only heard tell?" Replied the Caliph,
"If thou have seen aught worth telling, let us hear it; for
hearing is not like seeing." Said Ibn Mansur, "O Commander of the
Faithful, lend me thine ear and thy heart;" and he answered, "O
Ibn Mansur, behold, I am listening to thee with mine ears and
looking at thee with mine eyes and attending to thee with my
heart." So Ibn Mansur began: "Know then, O Commander of the
Faithful, that I receive a yearly allowance from Mohammed bin
Sulaymán al-Háshimi, Sultan of Bassorah; so I went to him once
upon a time, as usual, and found him ready to ride out hunting
and birding. I saluted him and he returned my salute, and said,
'O son of Mansur, mount and come with us to the chase:' but I
said, 'O my lord, I can no longer ride; so do thou station me in
the guest-house and give thy chamberlains and lieutenants charge
over me.' And he did so and departed for his sport. His people
entreated me with the utmost honour and entertained me with the
greatest hospitality; but said I to myself, 'By Allah, it is a
strange thing that for so long I have been in the habit of coming
from Baghdad to Bassorah, yet know no more of this town than from
palace to garden and from garden to palace. When shall I find an
occasion like this to view the different parts and quarters of
Bassorah? I will rise forthwith and walk forth alone and divert
myself and digest what I have eaten.' Accordingly I donned my
richest dress and went out a walking about Bassorah. Now it is
known to thee, O Commander of the Faithful, that it hath seventy
streets, each seventy leagues[FN#328] long, the measure of Irak;
and I lost myself in its by-streets and thirst overcame me.
Presently, as I went along, O Prince of True Believers, behold, I
came to a great door, whereon were two rings of brass,[FN#329]
with curtains of red brocade drawn before it. And on either side
of the door was a stone bench and over it was a trellis, covered
with a creeping vine that hung down and shaded the door way. I
stood still to gaze upon the place, and presently heard a
sorrowful voice, proceeding from a heart which did not rejoice,
singing melodiously and chanting these cinquains,

'My body bides the sad abode of grief and malady, * Caused by a
fawn whose land and home are in a far countrie:
O ye two Zephyrs of the wold which caused such pain in me * By
Allah, Lord of you! to him my heart's desire, go ye
And chide him so perchance ye soften him I pray.

And tell us all his words if he to hear your speech shall deign,
* And unto him the tidings bear of lovers 'twixt you twain:
And both vouchsafe to render me a service free and fain, * And
lay my case before him showing how I e'er complain:
And say, 'What ails thy bounder thrall this wise to
drive away,

Without a fault committed and without a sin to show; * Or heart
that leans to other wight or would thy love forego:
Or treason to our plighted troth or causing thee a throe?' * And
if he smile then say ye twain in accents soft and slow,
'An thou to him a meeting grant 'twould be the kindest

For he is gone distraught for thee, as well indeed, he might *
His eyes are wakeful and he weeps and wails the livelong
night :'
If seem he satisfied by this why then 'tis well and right, * But
if he show an angry face and treat ye with despite,
Trick him and 'Naught we know of him!' I beg you both
to say.'

Quoth I to myself, 'Verily, if the owner of this voice be fair,
she conjoineth beauty of person and eloquence and sweetness of
voice.' Then I drew near the door, and began raising the curtain
little by little, when lo! I beheld a damsel, white as a full
moon when it mooneth on its fourteenth night, with joined
eyebrows twain and languorous lids of eyne, breasts like
pomegranates twin and dainty, lips like double carnelian, a mouth
as it were the seal-of Solomon, and teeth ranged in a line that
played with the reason of proser and rhymer, even as saith the

'O pearly mouth of friend, who set those pretty pearls in line, *
And filled thee full of whitest chamomile and reddest wine?
Who lent the morning-glory in thy smile to shimmer and shine *
Who with that ruby-padlock dared thy lips to seal-and sign!
Who looks on thee at early morn with stress of joy and bliss *
Goes mad for aye, what then of him who wins a kiss of

And as saith another,

'O pearl-set mouth of friend * Pity poor Ruby's cheek
Boast not o'er one who owns * Thee, union and unique.'

In brief she comprised all varieties of loveliness and was a
seduction to men and women, nor could the gazer satisfy himself
with the sight of her charms; for she was as the poet hath said
of her,

'When comes she, slays she; and when back he turns, * She makes
all men regard with loving eyes:
A very sun! a very moon! but still * Prom hurt and harmful ills
her nature flies.
Opes Eden's garden when she shows herself, * And full moon see we
o'er her necklace rise.'

How as I was looking at her through an opening of the curtain,
behold, she turned; and, seeing me standing at the door, said to
her handmaid, 'See who is at the door.' So the slave-girl came up
to me and said, 'O Shaykh, hast thou no shame, or do impudent
airs suit hoary hairs?' Quoth I, 'O my mistress, I confess to the
hoary hairs, but as for impudent airs, I think not to be guilty
of unmannerliness.' Then the mistress broke in, 'And what can be
more unmannerly than to intrude thyself upon a house other than
thy house and gaze on a Harim other than thy Harim?' I pleaded,
'O my lady, I have an excuse;' and when she asked, 'And what is
thine excuse?' I answered, 'I am a stranger and so thirsty that I
am well nigh dead of thirst.' She rejoined, 'We accept thine
excuse,' --And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to
say her permitted say.

When It was the Three Hundred and Twenty-ninth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the young
lady rejoined, 'We accept thine excuse,' and calling one of her
slave maids, said to her, 'O Lutf,[FN#331] give him to drink in
the golden tankard.' So she brought me a tankard of red gold, set
with pearls and gems of price, full of water mingled with virgin
musk and covered with a napkin of green silk, and I addressed
myself to drink and was long about my drinking, for I stole
glances at her the while, till I could prolong my stay no longer.
Then I returned the tankard to the girl, but did not offer to go;
and she said to me, 'O Shaykh, wend thy way.' But I said, 'O my
lady, I am troubled in mind.' She asked me 'for what?' and I
answered, 'For the turns of Time and the change of things.'
Replied she, 'Well mayst thou be troubled thereat for Time
breedeth wonders. But what hast thou seen of such surprises that
thou shouldst muse upon them?' Quoth I, 'I was thinking of the
whilom owner of this house, for he was my intimate in his
lifetime.' Asked she, 'What was his name?'; and I answered,
'Mohammed bin Ali the Jeweller and he was a man of great wealth.
Tell me did he leave any children?' Said she, 'Yes, he left a
daughter, Budur by name, who inherited all his wealth?' Quoth I,
'Meseemeth thou art his daughter?' 'Yes,' answered she, laughing;
then added, 'O Shaykh, thou best talked long enough; now wend thy
ways.' Replied I, 'Needst must I go, but I see thy charms are
changed by being out of health; so tell me thy case; it may be
Allah will give thee comfort at my hands.' Rejoined she, 'O
Shayth, if thou be a man of discretion, I will discover to thee
my secret; but first tell me who thou art, that I may know
whether thou art worthy of confidence or not; for the poet

'None keepeth a secret but a faithful person: with the best of
mankind remaineth concealed.
I have kept my secret in a house with a lock, whose key is lost
and whose door is sealed.'

Thereto I replied, 'O my lady, an thou wouldest know who I am, I
am Ali bin Mansúr of Damascus, the Wag, cup-companion to the
Commander of the Faithful, Harun al-Rashid.' Now when she heard
my name, she came down from her seat and saluting me, said,
'Welcome, O Ibn Mansur! Now will I tell thee my case and entrust
thee with my secret. I am a lover separated from her beloved.' I
answered, 'O my lady, thou art fair and shouldest be on love
terms with none but the fair. Whom then dost thou love?' Quoth
she, 'I love Jubayr bin Umayr al-Shaybáni, Emir of the Banú
Shaybán;[FN#333]' and she described to me a young man than whom
there was no prettier fellow in Bassorah. I asked, 'O my lady,
have interviews or letters passed between you?' and she answered
'Yes, but our love was tongue-love souls, not heart and souls-
love; for he kept not his trust nor was he faithful to his
troth.' Said I, 'O my lady, and what was the cause of your
separation?', and she replied, 'I was sitting one day whilst my
handmaid here combed my hair. When she had made an end of combing
it, she plaited my tresses, and my beauty and loveliness charmed
her; so she bent over me and kissed my cheek.[FN#334] At that
moment he came in unawares, and, seeing the girl kiss my cheek,
straightways turned away in anger, vowing eternal-separation and
repeating these two couplets,

'If another share in the thing I love, * I abandon my love and
live lorn of love.
My beloved is worthless if aught she will, * Save that which her
lover doth most approve.

And from the time he left me to this present hour, O Ibn Mansur,
he hath neither written to me nor answered my letters.' Quoth I,
'And what purposes" thou to do?' Quoth she, 'I have a mind to
send him a letter by thee. If thou bring me back an answer, thou
shalt have of me five hundred gold pieces; and if not, then an
hundred for thy trouble in going and coming.' I answered, 'Do
what seemeth good to thee; I hear and I obey thee.' Whereupon she
called to one of her slave-girls, 'Bring me ink case and paper,'
and she wrote thereon these couplets,

'Beloved, why this strangeness, why this hate? * When shall thy
pardon reunite us two?
Why dost thou turn from me in severance? * Thy face is not the
face I am wont to know.
Yes, slanderers falsed my words, and thou to them * Inclining,
madest spite and envy grow.
An hast believed their tale, the Heavens forbid * Now thou
believe it when dost better bow!
By thy life tell what hath reached thine ear, * Thou know'st what
said they and so justice show.
An it be true I spoke the words, my words * Admit interpreting
and change allow:
Given that the words of Allah were revealed, * Folk changed the
Torah[FN#335] and still changing go:
What slanders told they of mankind before! * Jacob heard Joseph
blamed by tongue of foe.
Yea, for myself and slanderer and thee * An awful day of
reckoning there shall be.'

Then she sealed the letter and gave it to me; and I took it and
carried it to the house of Jubayr bin Umayr, whom I found absent
a hunting. So I sat down to wait for him; and behold, he returned
from the chase; and when I saw him, O Prince of True Believers,
come riding up, my wit was confounded by his beauty and grace. As
soon as he sighted me sitting at the house-door, he dismounted
and coming up to me embraced me and saluted me; and meseemed I
embraced the world and all therein. Then he carried me into his
house and, seating me on his own couch, called for food. They
brought a table of Khalanj-wood of Khorasan with feet of gold,
whereon were all manners of meats, fried and roasted and the
like. So I seated myself at the table and examining it with care
found these couplets engraved upon it:"[FN#336]--And Shahrazad
perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say,

When it was the Three Hundred and Thirtieth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Ali son of
Mansur continued: "So I seated myself at the table of Jubayr bin
Umayr al-Shaybani and, examining it with care, found these
couplets engraved upon it,

'On these which once were-chicks,
Your mourning glances fix,
Late dwellers in the mansion of the cup,
Now nearly eaten up!
Let tears bedew
The memory of that stew,
Those partridges, once roast,
Now lost!

The daughters of the grouse in plaintive strain
Bemourn, and still bemourn, and mourn again!
The children of the fry,
We lately saw
Half smothered in pilau
With buttery mutton fritters smoking by!
Alas! my heart, the fish!
Who filled his dish,

With flaky form in varying colours spread
On the round pastry cake of household bread!
Heaven sent us that kabob!
For no one could
(Save heaven he should rob)
Produce a thing so excellently good,
Or give us roasted meat
With basting oil so savourily replete!

But, oh! mine appetite, alas! for thee!
Who on that furmeaty
So sharpset west a little while ago--
That furmeaty, which mashed by hands of snow,
A light reflection bore,
Of the bright bracelets that those fair hands wore;
Again remembrance glads my sense
With visions of its excellence!

Again I see the cloth unrolled
Rich worked in many a varied fold!
Be patient, oh! my soul, they say
Fortune rules all that's new and strange,
And though she pinches us to day,
To-morrow brings full rations, and a change!'[FN#337]

Then said Jubayr, 'Put forth thy hand to our food and ease our
heart by eating of our victual.' Answered I, 'By Allah, I will
not eat a mouthful, till thou grant me my desire.' He asked,
'What is thy desire?'; so I brought out the letter and gave it to
him; but, when he had read it and mastered its contents, he tore
it in pieces and throwing it on the floor, said to me, 'O Ibn
Mansur, I will grant thee whatever thou askest save thy desire
which concerneth the writer of this letter, for I have no answer
to her.' At this I rose in anger; but he caught hold of my
skirts, saying, 'O Ibn Mansur, I will tell thee what she said to
thee, albeit I was not present with you.' I asked, 'And what did
she say to me?'; and he answered, 'Did not the writer of this
letter say to thee, If thou bring me back an answer, thou shalt
have of me five hundred ducats; and if not, an hundred for thy
pains?' 'Yes,' replied I; and he rejoined, 'Abide with me this
day and eat and drink and enjoy thyself and make merry, and thou
shalt have thy five hundred ducats.' So I sat with him and ate
and drank and made merry and enjoyed myself and entertained him
with talk deep in to the night;[FN#338] after which I said to
him, 'O my master, is there no music in thy house.' He answered,
'Verily for many a day we have drunk without music.' Then he
called out, saying, 'Ho, Shajarat al-Durr?' Whereupon a slave-
girl answered him from her chamber and came in to us, with a lute
of Hindu make, wrapped in a silken bag. And she sat down and,
laying the lute in her lap, preluded in one and twenty modes;
then, returning to the first, she sang to a lively measure these

'We have ne'er tasted of Love's sweets and bitter draught, * No
difference kens 'twixt presence-bliss and absence-stress;
And so, who hath declined from Love's true road, * No diference
kens 'twixt smooth and ruggedness:
I ceased not to oppose the votaries of love, * Till I had tried
its sweets and bitters not the less:
How many a night my pretty friend conversed with me * And sipped
I from his lips honey of love liesse:
Now have I drunk its cup of bitterness, until * To bondman and to
freedman I have proved me base.
How short-aged was the night together we enjoyed, * When seemed
it daybreak came on nightfall's heel to press!
But Fate had vowed to disunite us lovers twain, * And she too
well hath kept her vow, that votaress.
Fate so decreed it! None her sentence can withstand: * Where is
the wight who dares oppose his Lord's command?'

Hardly had she finished her verses, when her lord cried out with
a great cry and fell down in a fit; whereupon exclaimed the
damsel, 'May Allah not punish thee, O old man! This long time
have we drunk without music, for fear the like of this falling
sickness befal our lord. But now go thou to yonder chamber and
there sleep.' So I went to the chamber which she showed me and
slept till the morning, when behold, a page brought me a purse of
five hundred dinars and said to me, 'This is what my master
promised thee; but return thou not to the damsel who sent thee,
god let it be as though neither thou nor we had ever heard of
this matter.' 'Hearkening and obedience,' answered I and taking
the purse, went my way. Still I said to myself, 'The lady must
have expected me since yesterday; and by Allah there is no help
but I return to her and tell her what passed between me and him:
otherwise she will revile me and revile all who come from my
country.' So I went to her and found her standing behind the
door; and when she saw me she said, 'O Ibn Mansur, thou hast done
nothing for me?' I asked, 'Who told thee of this?'; and she
answered, 'O Ibn Mansur, yet another thing hath been revealed to
me;[FN#339] and it is that, when thou handedst him the letter, he
tore it in pieces. and throwing it on the floor, said to thee: 'O
Ibn Mansur, I will grant thee whatever thou askest save thy
desire which concerneth the writer of this letter; for I have no
answer to her missive.' Then didst thou rise from beside him in
anger; but he laid hold of thy skirts, saying: 'O son of Mansur,
abide with me to day, for thou art my guest, and eat and drink
and make merry; and thou shalt have thy five hundred ducats.' So
thou didst sit with him, eating and drinking and making merry,
and entertainedst him with talk deep into the night and a slave-
girl sang such an air and such verses, whereupon he fell down in
a fit.' So, O Commander of the Faithful, I asked her 'West thou
then with us?'; and she answered, 'O Ibn Mansur, hast thou not
heard the saying of the poet,

'The hearts of lovers have eyes I ken, * Which see the unseen by
vulgar men.'

However, O Ibn Mansur, the night and day shift not upon anything
but they bring to it change.'--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn
of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Three Hundred and Thirty-first Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the lady
exclaimed, 'O Ibn Mansur, the night and the day shift not upon
anything but they bring to it change!' Then she raised her glance
to heaven and said, 'O my God and my Leader and my Lord, like as
Thou hast afflicted me with love of Jubayr bin Umayr, even so do
Thou afflict him with love of me, and transfer the passion from
my heart to his heart!'[FN#340] Then she gave me an hundred
sequins for my trouble in going and coming and I took it and
returned to the palace, where I found the Sultan come home from
the chase; so I got my pension of him and fared back to Baghdad.
And when next year came, I repaired to Bassorah, as usual, to
seek my pension, and the Sultan paid it to me; but, as I was
about to return to Baghdad, I bethought me of the Lady Budur and
said to myself, 'By Allah, I must needs go to her and see what
hath befallen between her and her lover!' So I went to her house
and finding the street before her door swept and sprinkled and
eunuchs and servants and pages standing before the entrance, said
to myself, 'Most like grief hath broken the lady's heart and she
is dead, and some Emir or other hath taken up his abode in her
house.' So I left it and went on to the house of Jubayr, son of
Umayr the Shaybani, where I found the benches of the porch broken
down and ne'er a page at the door, as of wont and said to myself,
'Haply he too is dead.' Then I stood still before the door of his
house and with my eyes running over with tears, bemoaned it in
these couplets,

'O Lords of me, who fared but whom my heart e'er followeth, *
Return and so my festal-days with you shall be renewed!
I stand before the home of you, bewailing your abode; * Quiver
mine eyelids and my eyes with tears are ever dewed:
I ask the house and its remains that seem to weep and wail, *
'Where is the man who whilom wont to lavish goods and
It saith, 'Go, wend thy way; those friends like travellers have
fared * From Springtide-camp, and buried lie of earth and
worms the food!'
Allah ne'er desolate us so we lose their virtues' light * In
length and breadth, but ever be the light in spirit viewed!'

As I, O Prince of True Believers, was thus keening over the folk
of the house,[FN#341] behold, out came a black slave therefrom
and said to me, 'Hold thy peace, O Shaykh! May thy mother be reft
of thee! Why do I see thee bemoaning the house in this wise?'
Quoth I, 'I frequented it of yore, when it belonged to a good
friend of mine.' Asked the slave, 'What was his name?'; and I
answered, 'Jubayr bin Umayr the Shaybani.' Rejoined he, And what
hath befallen him? Praised be Allah, he is yet here with us in
the enjoyment of property and rank and prosperity, except that
Allah hath stricken him with love of a damsel called the Lady
Budur;, and he is so whelmed by his love of her and his longing
for her, that he is like a great rock cumbering the ground. If he
hunger, he saith not, 'Give me meat;' nor, if he thirst, doth he
say, 'Give me drink.' Quoth I, 'Ask leave for me to go in to
him.' Said the slave, 'O my lord, wilt thou go in to one who
understandeth or to one who understandeth not?'; and I said
'There is no help for it but I see him whatever be the case.'
Accordingly he went in to ask and presently returned with
permission for me to enter, whereupon I went in to Jubayr and
found him like a rock that cumbereth the ground, understanding
neither sign nor speech; and when I spoke to him he answered me
not. Then said one of his servants, 'O my lord, if thou remember
aught of verse, repeat it and raise thy voice; and he will be
aroused by this and speak with thee.' So I versified in these two

'Hast quit the love of Moons[FN#342] or dost persist? * Dost wake
o' nights or close in sleep thine eyes?
If aye thy tears in torrents flow, then learn * Eternal-thou
shalt dwell in Paradise.'[FN#343]

When he heard these verses he opened his eyes and said; 'Welcome,
O son of Mansur! Verily, the jest is become earnest.' Quoth I, 'O
my lord, is there aught thou wouldst have me do for thee?'
Answered he, 'Yes, I would fain write her a letter and send it to
her by thee. If thou bring me back her answer, thou shalt have of
me a thousand dinars; and if not, two hundred for thy pains.' So
I said, 'Do what seemeth good to thee;'--And Shahrazad perceived
the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Three Hundred and Thirty-second Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Ibn Mansur
continued: "So I said, 'Do what seemeth good to thee;' whereupon
he called to one of his slave-girls, 'Bring me ink case and
paper;' and wrote these couplets,

'I pray in Allah's name, O Princess mine, be light * On me, for
Love hath robbed me of my reason's sight'
'Slaved me this longing and enthralled me love of you; * And clad
in sickness garb, a poor and abject wight.
I wont ere this to think small things of Love and hold, * O
Princess mine, 'twas silly thing and over-slight.
But when it showed me swelling surges of its sea, * To Allah's
hest I bowed and pitied lover's plight.
An will you, pity show and deign a meeting grant, * An will you
kill me still forget not good requite.'[FN#344]

Then he sealed the letter and gave it to me. So I took it and,
repairing to Budur's house, raised the door-curtain little by
little, as before, and looking in behold, I saw ten damsels,
high-bosomed virgins, like moons, and the Lady Budur as she were
the full moon among the stars, sitting in their midst, or the
sun, when it is clear of clouds and mist; nor was there on her
any trace of pain or care. And as I looked and marvelled at her
case, she turned her glance upon me and, seeing me standing at
the door, said to me, 'Well come, and welcome and all hail to
thee, O Ibn Mansur! Come in.' So I entered and saluting her gave
her the letter; and she read it and when she understood it, she
said laughingly to me, 'O Ibn Mansur, the poet lied not when he

'Indeed I'll bear my love for thee with firmest soul, * Until
from thee to me shall come a messenger.

'Look'ye, O Ibn Mansur, I will write thee an answer, that he may
give thee what he promised thee.' And I answered, 'Allah requite
thee with good!' So she called out to a handmaid, 'Bring inkcase
and paper,' and wrote these couplets,

'How comes it I fulfilled my vow the while that vow broke you? *
And, seen me lean to equity, iniquity wrought you?
'Twas you initiated wrongous dealing and despite: * You were the
treachetour and treason came from only you!
I never ceased to cherish mid the sons of men my troth, * And
keep your honour brightest bright and swear by name of you
Until I saw with eyes of me what evil you had done; * Until I
heard with ears of me what foul report spread you.
Shall I bring low my proper worth while raising yours so high? *
By Allah had you me eke I had honoured you!
But now uprooting severance I will fain console my heart, * And
wring my fingers clean of you for evermore to part!'

Quoth I, 'By Allah, O my lady, between him and death there is but
the reading of this letter!' So I tore it in pieces and said to
her, 'Write him other than these lines.' 'I hear and obey
answered she and wrote the following couplets,

'Indeed I am consolèd now and sleep without a tear, * And all
that happened slandering tongues have whispered in mine ear:
My heart obeyed my hest and soon forgot thy memory, * And learnt
mine eyelids 'twas the best to live in severance sheer:
He lied who said that severance is a bitterer thing than gall: *
It never disappointed me, like wine I find it cheer:
I learnt to hate all news of thee, e'en mention of thy name, *
And turn away and look thereon with loathing pure and mere:
Lookye! I cast thee out of heart and far from vitals mine; * Then
let the slanderer wot this truth and see I am sincere.'

Quoth I, 'By Allah, O my lady, when he shall read these verses,
his soul will depart his body!' Quoth she, 'O Ibn Mansur, is
passion indeed come to such a pass with him that thou sayest this
saying?' Quoth I, 'Had I said more than this verily it were but
the truth: but mercy is of the nature of the noble.' Now when she
heard this her eyes brimmed over with tears and she wrote him a
note, I swear by Allah, O Commander of the Faithful, there is
none in thy Chancery could write the like of it; and therein were
these couplets,

'How long shall I thy coyness and thy great aversion see? * Thou
hast satisfied my censurers and pleased their enmity:
I did amiss and wot it not; so deign to tell me now * Whatso they
told thee, haply 'twas the merest calumny.
I wish to welcome thee, dear love, even as welcome I * Sleep to
these eyes and eyelids in the place of sleep to be.
And since 'tis thou hast made me drain th' unmixèd cup of love, *
If me thou see with wine bemused heap not thy blame on me!'

And when she had written the missive,--And Shahrazad perceived
the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Three Hundred and Thirty-third Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Budur
had written the missive, she sealed it and gave it to me; and I
said, 'O my lady, in good sooth this thy letter will make the
sick man whole and ease the thirsting soul.' Then I took it and
went from her, when she called me back and said to me, 'O son of
Mansur, say to him: 'She will be thy guest this night.' At this I
joyed with exceeding great joy and carried the letter to Jubayr,
whom I found with his eyes fixed intently on the door, expecting
the reply and as soon as I gave him the letter and he opened and
read it and understood it, he uttered a great cry and fell down
in a fainting fit. When he came to himself, he said to me, 'O Ibn
Mansur, did she indeed write this note with her hand and feel it
with her fingers?' Answered I, 'O my lord, do folk write with
their feet?' And by Allah, O Commander of the Faithful, I had not
done speaking these words, when we heard the tinkle-tinkle of her
anklets in the vestibule and she entered. And seeing her he
sprang to his feet as though nothing pained or ailed him and
embraced her like the letter L embraceth the letter A;[FN#345]
and the infirmity, that erst would not depart at once left
him.[FN#346] Then he sat down, but she abode standing and I said
to her, 'O my lady, why dost thou not sit?' Said she, 'O Ibn
Mansur, save on a condition that is between us, I will not sit.'
I asked, 'And what is that?'; and she answered, 'None may know
lovers' secrets,' and putting her mouth to Jubayr's ear whispered
to him; where upon he replied, 'I hear and I obey.' Then he rose
and said somewhat in a whisper to one of his slaves, who went out
and returned in a little while with a Kazi and two witnesses.
Thereupon Jubayr stood up and taking a bag containing an hundred
thousand dinars, said, O Kazi, marry me to this young lady and
write this sum to her marriage-settlement.' Quoth the Kazi to
her, 'Say thou, I consent to this.' 'I consent to this,' quoth
she, whereupon he drew up the contract of marriage and she opened
the bag; and, taking out a handful of gold, gave it to the Kazi
and the witnesses and handed the rest to Jubayr. Thereupon the
Kazi and the witnesses withdrew, and I sat with them, in mirth
and merriment, till the most part of the night was past, when I
said in my mind, 'These are lovers and they have been this long
while separated. I will now arise and go sleep in some place afar
from them and leave them to their privacy, one with other.' So I
rose, but she caught hold of my skirts, saying, 'What thinkest
thou to do?' 'Nothing but so and so,' answered I; upon which she
rejoined, 'Sit thee down; and when we would be rid of thee, we
will send thee away.' So I sat down with them till near daybreak,
when she said to me, 'O Ibn Mansur, go to yonder chamber; for we
have furnished it for thee and it is thy sleeping-place.'
Thereupon I arose and went thither and slept till morning, when a
page brought me basin and ewer, and I made the ablution and
prayed the dawn-prayer. Then I sat down and presently, behold,
Jubayr and his beloved came out of the bath in the house, and I
saw them both wringing their locks.[FN#347] So I wished them good
morning and gave them joy of their safety and reunion, saying to
Jubayr, 'That which began with constraint and conditions hath
ended in cordial-contentment.' He answered, 'Thou sayest well,
and indeed thou deservest thy honorarium;' and he called his
treasurer, and said, 'Bring hither three thousand dinars.' So he
brought a purse containing the gold pieces and Jubayr gave it to
me, saying, 'Favour us by accepting this.' But I replied, 'I will
not accept it till thou tell me the manner of the transfer of
love from her to thee, after so huge an aversion.' Quoth he,
'Hearkening and obedience! Know that we have a festival-called
New Year's day,[FN#348] when all the people fare forth and
take boat and go a-pleasuring on the river. So I went out with my
comrades, and saw a skiff, wherein were ten damsels like moons
and amongst them, the Lady Budur lute in hand. She preluded in
eleven modes, then, returning to the first, sang these two

'Fire is cooler than fires in my breast, * Rock is softer than
heart of my lord
Marvel I that he's formèd to hold * In water soft frame heart

Said I to her, 'Repeat the couplets and the air!' But she would
not:'"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying
her permitted say.

When it was the Three Hundred and Thirty-fourth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that "Jubayr
continued, 'So cried I to her, Repeat the couplets and the air!'
But she would not; whereupon I bade the boatmen pelt her with
oranges, and they pelted her till we feared her boat would
founder Then she went her way, and this is how the love was
transferred from her heart to mine.' So I wished them joy of
their union and, taking the purse with its contents, I returned
to Baghdad." Now when the Caliph heard Ibn Mansur's story his
heart was lightened and the restlessness and oppression from
which he suffered forsook him. And they also tell the tale of


The Caliph Al-Maamun was sitting one day in his palace,
surrounded by his Lords of the realm and Officers of state, and
there were present also before him all his poets and cup-
companions amongst the rest one named Mohammed of Bassorah.
Presently the Caliph turned and said to him, "O Mohammed, I wish
thee forthwith to tell me something that I have never before
heard." He replied, "O Commander of the Faithful, dost thou wish
me to tell thee a thing I have heard with my ears or a thing I
have seen with my eyes?" Quoth Al-Maamun, "Tell me whichever is
the rarer; so Mohammed al-Basri began: "Know, then, O Commander
of the Faithful that there lived once upon a time wealthy man,
who was a native of Al-Yaman;but he emigrated from his native
land and came to this city of Baghdad, whose sojourn so pleased
him that he transported hither his family and possessions. Now he
had six slave-girls, like moons one and all; the first white, the
second brown, the third fat, the fourth lean, the fifth yellow
and the sixth lamp-black; and all six were comely of countenance
and perfect in accomplishments and skilled in the arts of singing
and playing upon musical-instruments. Now it so chanced that, one
day, he sent for the girls and called for meat and wine; and they
ate and drank and were mirthful and made merry Then he filled the
cup and, taking it in his hand, said to the blonde girl, 'O new
moon face, let us hear somewhat of thy pleasant songs.' So she
took the lute and tuning it, made music thereon with such sweet
melody that the place danced with glee; after which she played a
lively measure and sang these couplets,

'I have a friend, whose form is fixed within mine eyes,[FN#349] *
Whose name deep buried in my very vitals lies:
Whenas remembers him my mind all heart am I, * And when on him my
gaze is turned I am all eyes.
My censor saith, 'Forswear, forget, the love of him,' * 'Whatso
is not to be, how shall's be?' My reply is.
Quoth I, 'O Censor mine, go forth from me, avaunt! * And make not
light of that on humans heavy lies.'

Hereat their master rejoiced and, drinking off his cup, gave the
damsels to drink, after which he said to the berry-brown girl, 'O
brasier-light[FN#350] and joy of the sprite, let us hear thy
lovely voice, whereby all that hearken are ravished with
delight.' So she took the lute and thereon made harmony till the
place was moved to glee; then, captivating all hearts with her
graceful swaying, she sang these couplets,

'I swear by that fair face's life, I'll love but thee * Till
death us part, nor other love but thine I'll see:
O full moon, with thy loveliness mantilla'd o'er, * The loveliest
of our earth beneath thy banner be:
Thou, who surpassest all the fair in pleasantness * May Allah,
Lord of worlds, be everywhere with thee!'

The master rejoiced and drank off his cup and gave the girls to
drink; after which he filled again; and, taking the goblet in his
hand, signed to the fat girl and bade her sing and play a
different motive. So she took the lute and striking a grief-
dispelling measure, sang these couplets,

'An thou but deign consent, O wish to heart affied! * I care not
wrath and rage to all mankind betide.
And if thou show that fairest face which gives me life, * I reck
not an dimimshed heads the Kings go hide.
I seek thy favours only from this 'versal-world: * O thou in whom
all beauty cloth firm-fixt abide!'

The man rejoiced and, emptying his cup, gave the girls to drink.
Then he signed to the thin girl and said to her, 'O Houri of
Paradise, feed thou our ears with sweet words and sounds.' So she
took the lute; and, tuning it, preluded and sang these two

'Say me, on Allah's path[FN#351] hast death not dealt to me, *
Turning from me while I to thee turn patiently:
Say me, is there no judge of Love to judge us twain, * And do me
justice wronged, mine enemy, by thee?'

Their lord rejoiced and, emptying the cup, gave the girls to
drink. Then filling another he signed to the yellow girl and said
to her, O sun of the day, let us hear some nice verses.' So she
took the lute and, preluding after the goodliest fashion, sang
these couplets,

'I have a lover and when drawing him, * He draws on me a sword-
blade glancing grim:
Allah avenge some little of his wrongs, * Who holds my heart yet
wreaks o erbearing whim
Oft though I say, 'Renounce him, heart!' yet heart * Will to none
other turn excepting him.
He is my wish and will of all men, but * Fate's envious hand to
me's aye grudging him.'

The master rejoiced and drank and gave the girls to drink; then
he filled the cup and taking it in hand, signed to the black
girl, saying, 'O pupil of the eye, let us have a taste of thy
quality, though it be but two words.' So she took the lute and
tuning it and tightening the strings, preluded in various modes,
then returned to the first and sang to a lively air these

'Ho ye, mine eyes, let prodigal-tears go free; * This ecstasy
would see my being unbe:[FN#352]
All ecstasies I dreefor sake of friend * I fondle, maugre
enviers' jealousy:
Censors forbid me from his rosy cheek, * Yet e'er inclines my
heart to rosery:
Cups of pure wine, time was, went circuiting * In joy, what time
the lute sang melody,
While kept his troth the friend who madded me, * Yet made me
rising star of bliss to see:
But--with Time, turned he not by sin of mine; * Than such a turn
can aught more bitter be?
Upon his cheek there grows and glows a rose, * Nay two, whereof
grant Allah one to me!
An were prostration[FN#353] by our law allowed * To aught but
Allah, at his feet I had bowed.'

Thereupon rose the six girls and, kissing the ground before their
lord, said to him, 'Do thou justice between us, O our lord!' So
he looked at their beauty and loveliness and the contrast of
their colours and praised Almighty Allah and glorified Him. Then
said he, 'There is none of you but hath learnt the Koran by
heart, and mastered the musical-art and is versed in the
chronicles' of yore and the doings of peoples which have gone
before; so it is my desire that each one of you rise and,
pointing finger at her opposite, praise herself and dispraise her
co-concubine; that is to: say, let the blonde point to the
brunette, the plump to the slenderer and the yellow to the black
girl; after which the rivals, each in her turn, shall do the like
with the former; and be this illustrated with citations from Holy
Writ and somewhat of anecdotes and,; verse, so as to show forth
your fine breeding and elegance of your pleading.' And they
answered him, 'We hear and we obey!;"--And Shahrazad perceived
the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Three Hundred and Thirty-fifth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the
handmaids answered the man of Al-Yaman, "'We hear and we obey!'
Accordingly the blonde rose first and, pointing at the black
girl, said to her: 'Out on thee, blackamoor! It is told by
tradition that whiteness saith, 'I am the shining light, I am the
rising moon of the fourteenth night. My hue is patent and my brow
is resplendent and of my beauty quoth the poet,'

'White girl with softly rounded polished cheeks * As if a pearl
concealed by Beauty's boon:
Her stature Alif-like;[FN#354] her smile like Mím[FN#355] * And
o'er her eyes two brows that bend like Nún.[FN#356]
'Tis as her glance were arrow, and her brows * Bows ever bent to
shoot Death-dart eftsoon:
If cheek and shape thou view, there shalt thou find * Rose,
myrtle, basil and Narcissus wone.
Men wont in gardens plant and set the branch, * How many garths
thy stature-branch cloth own!'

'So my colour is like the hale and healthy day and the newly
culled orange spray and the star of sparkling ray;[FN#357] and
indeed quoth Almighty Allah, in His precious Book, to his prophet
Moses (on whom be peace!), Put thy hand into thy bosom; it shall
come forth white, without hurt.'[FN#358] And again He saith, But
they whose faces shall become white, shall be in the mercy of
Allah; therein shall they remain forever.'[FN#359] My colour is a
sign, a miracle, and my loveliness supreme and my beauty a term
extreme. It is on the like of me that raiment showeth fair and
fine and to the like of me that hearts incline. Moreover, in
whiteness are many excellences; for instance, the snow falleth
white from heaven, and it is traditional-that the beautifullest
of a colours white. The Moslems also glory in white turbands, but
I should be tedious, were I to tell all that may be told in
praise of white; little and enough is better than too much of
unfilling stuff. So now I will begin with thy dispraise, O black,
O colour of ink and blacksmith's dust, thou whose face is like
the raven which bringeth about the parting of lovers. Verily, the
poet saith in praise of white and blame of black,

'Seest not that pearls are prized for milky hue, * But with a
dirham buy we coals in load?
And while white faces enter Paradise, * Black faces crowd
Gehenna's black abode.'

And indeed it is told in certain histories, related on the
authority of devout men, that Noah (on whom be peace!) was
sleeping one day, with his sons Cham and Shem seated at his head,
when a wind sprang up and, lifting his clothes, uncovered his
nakedness; whereat Cham looked and laughed and did not cover him:
but Shem arose and covered him. Presently, their sire awoke and
learning, what had been done by his sons, blessed Shem and cursed
Cham. So Shem's face was whitened and from him sprang the
prophets and the orthodox Caliphs and Kings; whilst Cham's face
was blackened and he fled forth to the land of Abyssinia, and of
his lineage came the blacks.[FN#360] All people are of one mind
in affirming the lack of understanding of the blacks, even as
saith the adage, 'How shall one find a black with a mind?' Quoth
her master, 'Sit thee down, thou hast given us sufficient and
even excess.' Thereupon he signed to the negress, who rose and,
pointing her finger at the blonde, said: Dost thou not know that
in the Koran sent down to His prophet and apostle, is transmitted
the saying of God the Most High, 'By the night when it covereth
all things with darkness; by the day when it shineth
forth!'[FN#361] If the night were not the more illustrious,
verily Allah had not sworn by it nor had given it precedence of
the day. And indeed all men of wit and wisdom accept this.
Knowest thou not that black is the ornament of youth and that,
when hoariness descendeth upon the head, delights pass away and
the hour of death draweth in sight? Were not black the most
illustrious of things, Allah had not set it in the core of the
heart[FN#362] and the pupil of the eye; and how excellent is the
saying of the poet,

'I love not black girls but because they show * Youth's colour,
tinct of eye and heartcore's hue;
Nor are in error who unlove the white, * And hoary hairs and
winding-sheet eschew.'

And that said of another,

'Black[FN#363] girls, not white, are they * All worthy love I
Black girls wear dark-brown lips;[FN#364] * Whites, blotch of

And of a third,

'Black girls in acts are white, and 'tis as though * Like eyes,
with purest shine and sheen they show;
If I go daft for her, be not amazed; * Black bile[FN#365] drives
melancholic-mad we know
'Tis as my colour were the noon of night; * For all no moon it
be, its splendours glow.

Moreover, is the foregathering of lovers good but in the night?
Let this quality and profit suffice thee. What protecteth lovers
from spies and censors like the blackness of night's darkness;
and what causeth them to fear discovery like the whiteness of the
dawn's brightness? So, how many claims to honour are there not in
blackness and how excellent is the saying of the poet,

'I visit them, and night-black lendeth aid to me * Seconding
love, but dawn-white is mine enemy.'

And that of another,

'How many a night I've passed with the beloved of me, * While
gloom with dusky tresses veilèd our desires:
But when the morn-light showed it caused me sad affright; * And I
to Morning said, 'Who worship light are liars!'[FN#366]

And saith a third,

'He came to see me, hiding neath the skirt of night, * Hasting
his steps as wended he in cautious plight.
I rose and spread my cheek upon his path like rug, * Abject, and
trailed my skirt to hide it from his sight;
But rose the crescent moon and strave its best to show * The
world our loves like nail-slice raying radiant
Then what befel befel: I need not aught describe; * But think thy
best, and ask me naught of wrong or right.
Meet not thy lover save at night for fear of slander * The Sun's
a tittle-tattler and the Moon's a pander.'

And a fifth,

'I love not white girls blown with fat who puff and pant; * The
maid for me is young brunette embonpoint-scant.
I'd rather ride a colt that's darn upon the day * Of race, and
set my friends upon the elephant.'

And a sixth,

My lover came to me one night, * And clips we both with fond
And lay together till we saw * The morning come with swiftest
Now I pray Allah and my Lord * To reunite us of His grace
And make night last me long as he * Lies in the arms that tightly

Were I to set forth all the praises of blackness, my tale would
be tedious; but little and enough is better than too much of
unfilling stuff. As for thee, O blonde, thy colour is that of
leprosy and thine embrace is suffocation;[FN#368] and it is of
report that hoar-frost and icy cold[FN#369] are in Gehenna for
the torment of the wicked. Again, of things black and excellent
is ink, wherewith is written Allah's word; and were it not for
black ambergris and black musk, there would be no perfumes to
carry to Kings. How many glories I may not mention dwell in
blackness, and how well saith the poet,

'Seest not that musk, the nut brown musk, e'er claims the highest
price * Whilst for a load of whitest lime none more than
dirham bids?
And while white speck upon the eye deforms the loveliest youth, *
Black eyes discharge the sharpest shafts in lashes from
their lids.'

Quoth her master, 'Sit thee down: this much sufficeth.' So she
sat down and he signed to the fat girl, who rose"--And Shahrazad
perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Three Hundred and Thirty-sixth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that "the man of
Al-Yaman, the master of the handmaids, signed to the fat girl who
rose and, pointing her finger at the slim girl, bared her calves
and wrists and uncovered her stomach, showing its dimples and the
plump rondure of her navel. Then she donned a shift of fine
stuff, that exposed her whole body, and said: 'Praised be Allah
who created me, for that He beautified my face and made me fat
and fair of the fattest and fairest; and likened me to branches
laden with fruit, and bestowed upon me abounding beauty and
brightness: and praised be He no less, for that He hath given me
the precedence and honoured me, when He mentioneth me in His holy
Book! Quoth the Most High, 'And he brought a fatted
calf.'[FN#370] And He hath made me like unto a vergier full of
peaches and pomegranates. In very sooth even as the townsfolk
long for fat birds and eat of them and love not lean birds, so do
the sons of Adam desire fat meat and eat of it. How many vauntful
attributes are there not in fatness, and how well saith the poet,

'Farewell thy love, for see, the Cafilah's[FN#371] on the move: *
O man, canst bear to say adieu and leave thy love?
'Tis as her going were to seek her neighbour's tent, * The gait
of fat fair maid, whom hearts shall all approve.'

Sawest thou ever one stand before a flesher's stall but sought of
him fat flesh? The wise say, 'Joyance is in three things, eating
meat and riding meat and putting meat into meat.'[FN#372] As for
thee, O thin one, thy calves are like the shanks of sparrows or
the pokers of furnaces; and thou art a cruciform plank of a piece
of flesh poor and rank; there is naught in thee to gladden the
heart; even as saith the poet,

'With Allah take I refuge from whatever driveth me * To bed with
one like footrasp[FN#373] or the roughest ropery:
In every limb she hath a horn that butteth me whene'er * I fain
would rest, so morn and eve I wend me wearily.'

Quoth her master, 'Sit thee down: this much sufficeth.' So she
sat down and he signed to the slender girl, who rose, as she were
a willow-wand, or a rattan-frond or a stalk of sweet basil, and
said: 'Praised be Allah who created me and beautified me and made
my embraces the end of all desire and likened me to the branch,
whereto all hearts incline. If I rise, I rise lightly; if I sit,
I sit prettily; I am nimble-witted at a jest and merrier-souled
than mirth itself. Never heard I one describe his mistress,
saying, 'My beloved is the bigness of an elephant or like a
mountain long and broad;' but rather, 'My lady hath a slender
waist and a slim shape.'[FN#374] Furthermore a little food
filleth me and a little water quencheth my thirst; my sport is
agile and my habit active; for I am sprightlier than the sparrow
and lighter-skipping than the starling. My favours are the
longing of the lover and the delight of the desirer; for I am
goodly of shape, sweet of smile and graceful as the bending
willow-wand or the rattan-cane[FN#375] or the stalk of the basil-
plant; nor is there any can compare with me in loveliness, even
as saith one of me,

'Thy shape with willow branch I dare compare, * And hold thy
figure as my fortunes fair:
I wake each morn distraught, and follow thee, * And from the
rival's eye in fear I fare.'

It is for the like of me that amourists run mad and that those
who desire me wax distracted. If my lover would draw me to him, I
am drawn to him; and if he would have me incline to him, I
incline to him and not against him. But now, as for thee, O fat
of body, thine eating is the feeding of an elephant, and neither
much nor little filleth thee. When thou liest with a man who is
lean, he hath no ease of thee; nor can he anyways take his
pleasure of thee; for the bigness of thy belly holdeth him off
from going in unto thee and the fatness of thy thighs hindereth
him from coming at thy slit. What goodness is there in thy
grossness, and what courtesy or pleasantness in thy coarseness?
Fat flesh is fit for naught but the flasher, nor is there one
point therein that pleadeth for praise. If one joke with thee,
thou art angry; if one sport with thee, thou art sulky; if thou
sleep, thou snorest if thou walk, thou lollest out thy tongue! if
thou eat, thou art never filled. Thou art heavier than mountains
and fouler than corruption and crime. Thou hast in thee nor
agility nor benedicite nor thinkest thou of aught save meat and
sleep. When thou pissest thou swishes"; if thou turd thou
gruntest like a bursten wine skin or an elephant transmogrified.
If thou go to the water closet, thou needest one to wash thy gap
and pluck out the hairs which overgrow it; and this is the
extreme of sluggish ness and the sign, outward and visible, of
stupidity[FN#376] In short, there is no good thing about thee,
and indeed the poet Title of thee,

'Heavy and swollen like an urine-bladder blown, * With hips and
thighs like mountain propping piles of stone;
Whene'er she walks in Western hemisphere, her tread * Makes the
far Eastern world with weight to moan and groan.'

Quoth her master, 'Sit thee down, this sufficeth;' so she sat
down and he signed to the yellow girl, who rose to her feet and
praised Allah Almighty and magnified His name, calling down peace
and blessing on Mohammed the best of His creatures; after which
she pointed her finger at the brunette and said to her," And
Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her
permitted say.

When it was the Three Hundred and Thirty-seventh Night,

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that "the
yellow girl stood up and praised Almighty Allah and magnified His
name; after which she pointed her finger at the brown girl and
said to her: 'I am the one praised in the Koran, and the
Compassionate hath described my complexion and its excellence
over all other hues in His manifest Book, where Allah saith, 'A
yellow, pure yellow, whose colour gladdeneth the
beholders.'[FN#377] Wherefore my colour is a sign and portent and
my grace is supreme and my beauty a term extreme; for that my
tint is the tint of a ducat and the colour of the planets and
moons and the hue of ripe apples. My fashion is the fashion of
the fair, and the dye of saffron outvieth all other dyes; so my
semblance is wondrous and my colour marvellous. I am soft of body
and of high price, comprising all qualities of beauty. My colour
is essentially precious as virgin gold, and how many boasts and
glories cloth it not unfold! Of the like of me quoth the poet,

'Her golden yellow is the sheeny sun's; * And like gold sequins
she delights the sight:
Saffron small portion of her glance can show; * Nay,[FN#378] she
outvies the moon when brightest bright.'

And I shall at once begin in thy dispraise, O berry-brown girl!
Thy tincture is that of the buffalo, and all souls shudder at thy
sight. If thy colour be in any created thing, it is blamed; if it
be in food, it is poisoned; for thy hue is the hue of the dung-
fly; it is a mark of ugliness even in dogs; and among the colours
it is one which strikes with amazement and is of the signs of
mourning. Never heard I of brown gold or brown pearls or brown
gems. If thou enter the privy, thy colour changeth, and when thou
comest out, thou addest ugliness to ugliness. Thou art a non-
descript; neither black, that thou mayst be recognised, nor
white, that thou mayst be described; and in thee there is no good
quality, even as saith the poet,

'The hue of dusty motes is hers; that dull brown hue of hers * Is
mouldy like the dust and mud by Cossid's foot
I never look upon her brow, e'en for eye-twinkling's space, *
But in brown study fall I and my thoughts take browner

Quoth her master, 'Sit thee down; this much sufficeth;' so she
sat down and he signed to the brunette. Now she was a model of
beauty and loveliness and symmetry and perfect grace; soft of
skin, slim of shape, of stature rare, and coal-black hair; with
cheeks rosy-pink, eyes black rimmed by nature's hand, face fair,
and eloquent tongue; moreover slender-waisted and heavy-hipped.
So she rose and said: 'Praise be to Allah who hath created me
neither leper-white nor bile-yellow nor charcoal-black, but hath
made my colour to be beloved of men of wit and wisdom, for all
the poets extol berry-brown maids in every tongue and exalt their
colour over all other colours. To 'brown of hue (they say) praise
is due;' and Allah bless him who singeth,

'And in brunettes is mystery, could'st" thou but read it right, *
Thy sight would never dwell on others, be they red or white:
Free-flowing conversation, amorous coquettishness * Would teach
Hárut himself a mightier spell of magic might.'

And saith another,

'Give me brunettes, so limber, lissom, lithe of sway, * Brunettes
tall, slender straight like Samhar's nut-brown
Languid of eyelids and with silky down on either cheek, * Who
fixed in lover's heart work to his life mischance.'

And yet another,

'Now, by my life, brown hue hath point of comeliness * Leaves
whiteness nowhere and high o'er the Moon takes place;
But an of whiteness aught it borrowed self to deck, * 'Twould
change its graces and would pale for its disgrace:
Not with his must[FN#381] I'm drunken, but his locks of musk *
Are wine inebriating all of human race.
His charms are jealous each of each, and all desire * To be the
down that creepeth up his lovely face.'

And again another,

'Why not incline me to that show of silky down, * On cheeks of
dark brunette, like bamboo spiring brown?
Whenas high rank in beauty poets sing, they say * Brown ant-like
specklet worn by nenuphar in crown.
And see I sundry lovers tear out others' eyne * For the brown
mole beneath that jetty pupil shown,
Then why do censors blame me for one all a mole? * Allah I pray
demolish each molesting clown!'[FN#382]

My form is all grace and my shape is built on heavy base; Kings
desire my colour which all adore, rich and poor. I am pleasant,
active, handsome, elegant, soft of skin and prized for price: eke
I am perfect in seemlibead and breeding and eloquence; my aspect
is comely and my tongue witty; my temper is bright and my play a
pretty sight. As for thee, thou art like unto a mallow growing
about the Lúk Gate;[FN#383] in hue sallow and streaked-yellow and
made all of sulphur. Aroynt thee, O copper-worth of jaundiced
sorrel, O rust of brass-pot, O face of owl in gloom, and fruit of
the Hell-tree Zakkúm;[FN#384] whose bedfellow, for heart-break,
is buried in the tomb. And there is no good thing in thee, even
as saith the poet of the like of thee,

'Yellowness, tincturing her tho' nowise sick or sorry, *
Straitens my hapless heart and makes my head sore ache;
An thou repent not, Soul! I'll punish thee with kissing[FN#385] *
Her lower face that shall mine every grinder break!'

And when she ended her lines, quoth her master, 'Sit thee down,
this much sufficeth!'"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day
and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Three Hundred and Thirty-eighth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that "when the
yellow girl ended her recitation, quoth her master, 'Sit thee
down; this much sufficeth!' Then he made peace between them and
clad them all in sumptuous robes of honour and hanselled them
with precious jewels of land and sea. And never have I seen, O
Commander of the Faithful, any when or any where, aught fairer
than these six damsels fair." Now when Al-Maamun heard this story
from Mohammed of Bassorah, he turned to him and said, "O
Mohammed, knowest thou the abiding-place of these damsels and
their master, and canst thou contrive to buy them of him for us?"
He answered, "O Commander of the Faithful, indeed I have heard
that their lord is wrapped up in them and cannot bear to be
parted from them." Rejoined the Caliph, "Take thee ten thousand
gold pieces for each girl, that is sixty thousand for the whole
purchase; and carry the coin to his house and buy them of him."
So Mohammed of Bassorah took the money and, betaking himself to
the Man of Al-Yaman, acquainted him with the wish of the Prince
of True Believers. He consented to part with them at that price
to pleasure the Caliph; and despatched them to Al-Maamun, who
assigned them an elegant abode and therein used to sit with them
as cup-companions; marvelling at their beauty and loveliness, at
their varied colours and at the excellence of their conversation.
Thus matters stood for many a day; but, after awhile, when their
former owner could no longer bear to be parted from them, he sent
a letter to the Commander of the Faithful complaining to him of
his own ardent love-longing for them and containing, amongst
other contents, these couplets,

"Captured me six, all bright with youthful blee; * Then on all
six be best salams from me!
They are my hearing, seeing, very life; * My meat, my drink, my
joy, my jollity:
I'll ne'er forget the favours erst so charmed * Whose loss hath
turned my sleep to insomny:
Alack, O longsome pining and O tears! * Would I had farewelled
all humanity:
Those eyes, with bowed and well arched eyebrows[FN#386] dight, *
Like bows have struck me with their archery."

Now when the letter came to the hands of Al-Maamun, he robed the
six damsels in rich raiment; and, giving them threescore thousand
dinars, sent them back to their lord who joyed in them with
exceeding joy[FN#387] (more especially for the monies they
brought him), and abode with them in all the comfort and
pleasance of life, till there came to them the Destroyer of
delights and the Severer of societies. And men also recount the
tale of


The Caliph, Commander of the Faithful, Harun al-Rashid, being one
night exceedingly restless and thoughtful with sad thought, rose
from his couch and walked about the by-ways of his palace, till
he came to a chamber, over whose doorway hung a curtain. He
raised that curtain and saw, at the upper end of the room, a
bedstead whereon lay something black, as it were a man asleep,
with a wax taper on his right hand and another on his left; and
as the Caliph stood wondering at the sight, behold, he remarked a
flagon full of old wine whose mouth was covered by the cup. The
Caliph wondered even more at this, saying, "How came this black
by such wine-service?" Then, drawing near the bedstead, he found
that it was a girl lying asleep there, curtained by her hair; so
he uncovered her face and saw that it was like the moon, on the
night of his fulness.[FN#388] So the Caliph filled himself a cup
of wine and drank it to the roses of her cheeks; and, feeling
inclined to enjoy her, kissed a mole on her face, whereupon she
started up from sleep, and cried out, "O Trusted of
Allah,[FN#389] what may this be?" Replied he, "A guest who
knocketh at thy door, hoping that thou wilt give him hospitality
till the dawn;" and she answered; "Even so! I will serve him with
my hearing and my sight." So she brought forward the wine and
they drank together, after which she took the lute and tuning the
strings, preluded in one-and-twenty modes, then returning to the
first, played a lively measure and sang these couplets,

"The tongue of love from heart bespeaks my sprite, * Telling I
love thee with love infinite:
I have an eye bears witness to my pain, * And fluttering heart
sore hurt by parting-plight.
I cannot hide the love that harms my life; * Tears ever roll and
growth of pine I sight:
I knew not what love was ere loving thee; * But Allah's destiny
to all is dight."

And when her verses were ended she said, "O Commander of the
Faithful, I have been wronged!"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn
of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Three Hundred and Thirty-ninth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the damsel
cried, "O Commander of the Faithful, I have been wronged!" Quoth
he, "How so, and who hath wronged thee?" Quoth she "Thy son
bought me awhile ago, for ten thousand dirhams, meaning to give
me to thee; but thy wife, the daughter of thine uncle, sent him
the said price and bade him shut me up from thee in this
chamber." Whereupon said the Caliph, "Ask a boon of me," and she,
"I ask thee to lie with me to-morrow night." Replied the Caliph,
"Inshallah!" and leaving her, went away. Now as soon as it was
morning, he repaired to his sitting-room and called for Abu
Nowas, but found him not and sent his chamberlain to ask after
him. The chamberlain found him in a tavern, pawned and pledged
for a score of a thousand dirhams, which he had spent on a
certain beardless youth, and questioned him of his case. So he
told him what had betided him with the comely boy and how he had
spent upon him a thousand silver pieces; whereupon quoth the
chamberlain, "Show him to me; and if he be worth this, thou art
excused." He answered, "Patience, and thou shalt see him
presently.' As they were talking together, up came the lad, clad
in a white tunic, under which was another of red and under this
yet another black. Now when Abu Nowas saw him, he sighed a loud
sigh and improvised these couplets,

"He showed himself in shirt of white, * With eyes and eyelids
Quoth I, 'Doss pass and greet me not? * Though were thy greeting
a delight?
Blest He who clothed in rose thy cheeks, * Creates what wills He
by His might!'
Quoth he, 'Leave prate, forsure my Lord * Of works is wondrous
My garment's like my face and luck; * All three are white on
white on white.'"

When the beardless one heard these words, he doffed the white
tunic and appeared in the red; and when Abu Nowas saw him he
redoubled in expressions of admiration and repeated these

"He showed in garb anemone-red, * A foeman 'friend' entitulèd:
Quoth I in marvel, 'Thou'rt full moon * Whose weed shames rose
however red:
Hath thy cheek stained it red, or hast * Dyed it in blood by
lovers bled?'
Quoth he, 'Sol gave me this for shirt * When hasting down the
West to bed
So garb and wine and hue of cheek * All three are red on red on

And when the verses came to an end, the beardless one doffed the
red tunic and stood in the black; and, when Abu Nowas saw him, he
redoubled in attention to him and versified in these couplets,

"He came in sable-huèd sacque * And shone in dark men's heart to
Quoth I, 'Doss pass and greet me not? * Joying the hateful
envious pack?
Thy garment's like thy locks and like * My lot, three blacks on
black on black.'"

Seeing this state of things and understanding the case of Abu
Nowas and his love-longing, the Chamberlain returned to the
Caliph and acquainted him therewith; so he bade him pouch a
thousand dirhams and go and take him out of pawn. Thereupon the
Chamberlain returned to Abu Nowas and, paying his score, carried
him to the Caliph, who said, "Make me some verses containing the
words, O Trusted of Allah, what may this be?" Answered he, "I
hear and I obey, O Commander of the Faithful."--And Shahrazad
perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Three Hundred and Fortieth Night,

She said, it hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Abu Nowas
answered, "I hear and I obey, O Commander of the Faithful!" and
forthwith he improvised these couplets,

"Long was my night for sleepless misery; * Weary of body and of
thought ne'er free:
I rose and in my palace walked awhile, * Then wandered thro' the
halls of Haremry:
Till chanced I on a blackness, which I found * A white girl hid
in hair for napery:
Here to her for a moon of brightest sheen! * Like willow-wand and
veiled in pudency:
I quaffed a cup to her; then drew I near, * And kissed the
beauty-spot on cheek had she:
She woke astart, and in her sleep's amaze, * Swayed as the
swaying branch in rain we see;
Then rose and said to me, 'O Trusted One * Of Allah, O Amin, what
may this be?
Quoth I, 'A guest that cometh to thy tents * And craves till morn
thy hospitality.'
She answered, 'Gladly I, my lord, will grace * And honour such a
guest with ear and eye.'"

Cried the Caliph, "Allah strike thee dead! it is as if thou hadst
been present with us.''[FN#390] Then he took him by the hand and
carried him to the damsel and, when Abu Nowas saw her clad in a
dress and veil of blue, he expressed abundant admiration and
improvised these couplets,

"Say to the pretty one in veil of blue, * 'By Allah, O my life,
have ruth on dole!
For, when the fair entreats her lover foul, * Sighs rend his
bosom and bespeak his soul
By charms of thee and whitest cheek I swear thee, * Pity a heart
for love lost all control
Bend to him, be his stay 'gainst stress of love, * Nor aught
accept what saith the ribald fool.'"

Now when he ended his verse, the damsel set wine before the
Caliph; and, taking the lute, played a lively measure and sang
these couplets,

"Wilt thou be just to others in thy love, and do * Unright, and
put me off, and take new friend in lieu?
Had lovers Kazi unto whom I might complain * Of thee, he'd
peradventure grant the due I sue:
If thou forbid me pass your door, yet I afar * Will stand, and
viewing you waft my salams to you!"

The Caliph bade her ply Abu Nowas with wine, till he lost his
right senses, thereupon he gave him a full cup, and he drank a
draught of it and held the cup in his hand till he slept. Then
the Commander of the Faithful bade the girl take the cup from his
grasp and hide it; so she took it and set it between her thighs,
moreover he drew his scymitar and, standing at the head of Abu
Nowas, pricked him with the point; whereupon he awoke and saw the
drawn sword and the Caliph standing over him. At this sight the
fumes of the wine fled from his head and the Caliph said to him,
"Make me some verses and tell me therein what is become of thy
cup; or I will cut off thy head." So he improvised these

"My tale, indeed, is tale unlief; * 'Twas yonder fawn who play'd
the thief!
She stole my cup of wine, before * The sips and sups had dealt
And hid it in a certain place, * My heart's desire and longing
I name it not, for dread of him * Who hath of it command-in-

Quoth the Caliph, "Allah strike thee dead![FN#391] How knewest
thou that? But we accept what thou sayst." Then he ordered him a
dress of honour and a thousand dinars, and he went away
rejoicing. And among tales they tell is one of


Sometime erst there was a man, who had accumulated debts, and his
case was straitened upon him, so that he left his people and
family and went forth in distraction; and he ceased not wandering
on at random till he came after a time to a city tall of walls
and firm of foundations. He entered it in a state of despondency
and despair, harried by hunger and worn with the weariness of his
way. As he passed through one of the main streets, he saw a
company of the great going along; so he followed them till they
reached a house like to a royal-palace. He entered with them, and
they stayed not faring forwards till they came in presence of a
person seated at the upper end of a saloon, a man of the most
dignified and majestic aspect, surrounded by pages and eunuchs,
as he were of the sons of the Wazirs.When he saw the visitors, he
rose to greet them and received them with honour; but the poor
man aforesaid was confounded at his own boldness, when
beholding----And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased
to say her permitted say.

When it was the Three Hundred and Forty-first Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the poor
man aforesaid was confounded at his own boldness, when beholding
the goodliness of the place and the crowd of servants and
attendants; so drawing back, in perplexity and fear for his life
sat down apart in a place afar off. where none should see him.
Now it chanced that whilst he was sitting, behold, in came a man
with four sporting-dogs, whereon were various kinds of raw silk
and brocade[FN#392] and wearing round their necks collars of gold
with chains of silver, and tied up each dog in a place set privy
for him; after which he went out and presently returned with four
dishes of gold, full of rich meats, which he set severally before
the dogs, one for each. Then he went away and left them, whilst
the poor man began to eye the food, for stress of hunger, and
longed to go up to one of the dogs and eat with him, but fear of
them withheld him. Presently, one of the dogs looked at him and
Allah Almighty inspired the dog with a knowledge of his case; so
he drew back from the platter and signed to the man, who came and
ate till he was filled. Then he would have withdrawn, but the dog
again signed to him to take for himself the dish and what food
was left in it, and pushed it towards him with his fore-paw. So
the man took the dish and leaving the house, went his way, and
none followed him. Then he journeyed to another city where he
sold the dish and buying with the price a stock-in-trade,
returned to his own town. There he sold his goods and paid his
debts; and he throve and became affluent and rose to perfect
prosperity. He abode in his own land; but after some years had
passed he said to himself, "Needs must I repair to the city of
the owner of the dish, and, carry him a fit and handsome present
and pay him the money-value of that which his dog bestowed upon
me." So he took the price of the dish and a suitable gift; and,
setting out, journeyed day and night, till he came to that city;
he entered it and sought the place where the man lived; but he
found there naught save ruins mouldering in row and croak of
crow, and house and home desolate and all conditions in changed
state. At this, his heart and soul were troubled, and he repeated
the saying of him who saith,

"Void are the private rooms of treasury: * As void were hearts of
fear and piety:
Changed is the Wady nor are its gazelles * Those fawns, nor sand-
hills those I wont to see."

And that of another,

"In sleep came Su'adá's[FN#393] shade and wakened me * Near dawn,
when comrades all a-sleeping lay:
But waking found I that the shade was fled, * And saw air empty
and shrine far away."

Now when the man saw these mouldering ruins and witnessed what
the hand of time had manifestly done with the place, leaving but
traces of the substantial-things that erewhiles had been, a
little reflection made it needless for him to enquire of the
case; so he turned away. Presently, seeing a wretched man, in a
plight which made him shudder and feel goose-skin, and which
would have moved the very rock to rush, he said to him, "Ho thou!
What have time and fortune done with the lord of this place?
Where are his lovely faces, his shining full moons and splendid
stars; and what is the cause of the ruin that is come upon his
abode, so that nothing save the walls thereof remain?" Quoth the
other, "He is the miserable thou seest mourning that which hath
left him naked. But knowest thou not the words of the Apostle
(whom Allah bless and keep!), wherein is a lesson to him who will
learn by it and a warning to whoso will be warned thereby and
guided in the right way, 'Verily it is the way of Allah Almighty
to raise up nothing of this world, except He cast it down
again?'[FN#394] If thou question of the cause of this accident,
indeed it is no wonder, considering the chances and changes of
Fortune. I was the lord of this place and I builded it and
founded it and owned it; and I was the proud possessor of its
full moons lucent and its circumstance resplendent and its
damsels radiant and its garniture magnificent, but Time turned
and did away from me wealth and servants and took from me what it
had lent (not given); and brought upon me calamities which it
held in store hidden. But there must needs be some reason for
this thy question: so tell it me and leave wondering." Thereupon,
the man who had waxed wealthy being sore concerned, told him the
whole story, and added, "I have brought thee a present, such as
souls desire, and the price of thy dish of gold which I took; for
it was the cause of my affluence after poverty, and of the
replenishment of my dwelling-place, after desolation, and of the
dispersion of my trouble and straitness." But the man shook his
head, and weeping and groaning and complaining of his lot
answered, "Ho thou! methinks thou art mad; for this is not the
way of a man of sense. How should a dog of mine make generous
gift to thee of a dish of gold and I meanly take back the price
of what a dog gave? This were indeed a strange thing! Were I in
extremest unease and misery, by Allah, I would not accept of thee
aught; no, not the worth of a nail-paring! So return whence thou
camest in health and safety."[FN#395] Whereupon the merchant
kissed his feet and taking leave of him, returned whence he came,
praising him and reciting this couplet,

"Men and dogs together are all gone by, * So peace be with all of
them! dogs and men!'

And Allah is All knowing! Again men tell the tale of


There was once in the coast-fortress of Alexandria, a Chief of
Police, Husám al-Din highs, the sharp Scymitar of the Faith. Now
one night as he sat in his seat of office, behold, there came in
to him a trooper-wight who said, "Know, O my lord the Chief, that
I entered your city this night and alighted at such a khan and
slept there till a third part of the night was past when I awoke
and found my saddle-bags sliced open and a purse of a thousand
gold pieces stolen from them." No sooner had he done speaking
than the Chief summoned his chief officials and bade them lay
hands on all in the khan and clap them in limbo till the morning;
and on the morrow, he caused bring the rods and whips used in
punishment, and, sending for the prisoners, was about to flog
them till they confessed in the presence of the owner of the
stolen money when, lo! a man broke through the crowd till he came
up to the Chief of Police,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of
day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Three Hundred and Forty-second Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Chief
was about to flog them when lo! a man broke through the crowd
till he came up to the Chief of Police and the trooper and said;
"Ho! Emir, let these folk go, for they are wrongously accused. It
was I who robbed this trooper, and see, here is the purse I stole
from his saddle-bags." So saying, he pulled out the purse from
his sleeve and laid it before Husam al-Din, who said to the
soldier, "Take thy money and pouch it; thou now hast no ground of
complaint against the people of the khan." Thereupon these folk
and all who were present fell to praising the thief and blessing
him; but he said, "Ho! Emir, the skill is not in that I came to
thee in person and brought thee the purse; the cleverness was in
taking it a second time from this trooper." Asked the Chief, "And
how didst thou do to take it, O sharper?"; and the robber
replied, "O Emir, I was standing in the Shroff's[FN#396] bazar at
Cairo, when I saw this soldier receive the gold in change and put
it in yonder purse; so I followed him from by-street to by-
street, but found no occasion of stealing it. Then he travelled
from Cairo and I followed him from town to town, plotting and
planning by the way to rob him, but without avail, till he
entered this city and I dogged him to the khan. I took up my
lodging beside him and watched him till he fell asleep and I
heard him sleeping; when I went up to him softly, softly; and I
slit open his saddle-bags with this knife, and took the purse in
the way I am now taking it." So saying, he put out his hand and
took the purse from before the Chief of Police and the trooper,
both of whom, together with the folk, drew back watching him and
thinking he would show them how he took the purse from the
saddle-bags. But, behold! he suddenly broke into a run and threw
himself into a pool of standing water[FN#397] hard by. So the
Chief of the Police shouted to his officers, "Stop thief!" and
many made after him; but before they could doff their clothes and
descend the steps, he had made off; and they sought for him, but
found him not; for that the by-streets and lanes of Alexandria
all communicate. So they came back without bringing the purse;
and the Chief of Police said to the trooper, "Thou hast no demand
upon the folk; for thou fondest him who robbed thee and
receivedst back thy money, but didst not keep it." So the trooper
went away, having lost his money, whilst the folk were delivered
from his hands and those of the Chief of Police, and all this was
of the favour of Almighty Allah.[FN#398] And they also tell the
tale of


Once upon a time Al-Malik al-Násir[FN#399] sent for the Wális or
Chiefs of Police of Cairo, Bulak, and Fostat[FN#400] and said to
them, "I desire each of you to recount me the marvellousest thing
that hath befallen him during his term of office."--And Shahrazad
perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Three Hundred and Forty-third Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that quoth
Al-Malik al-Nasir to the three Walis, "I desire each of you to
recount me the marvellousest thing which hath befallen him during
his term of office." So they answered, "We hear and we obey."
Then said the Chief of the Police of Cairo, "Know thou, O our
lord the Sultan, the most wonderful thing that befel me, during
my term of office, was on this wise:" and he began

The Story of the Chief of Police of Cairo.

"There were in this city two men of good repute fit to bear
witness[FN#401] in matters of murder and wounds; but they were
both secretly addicted to intrigues with low women and to wine-
bibbing and to dissolute doings, nor could I succeed (do what I
would) in bringing them to book, and I began to despair of
success. So I charged the taverners and confectioners and
fruiterers and candle-chandlers and the keepers of brothels and
bawdy houses to acquaint me of these two good men whenever they
should anywhere be engaged in drinking or other debauchery, or
together or apart; and ordered that, if they both or if either of
them bought at their shops aught for the purpose of wassail and
carousel, the vendors should not conceal-it from me. And they
replied, 'We hear and obey.' Presently it chanced that one night,
a man came to me and said, 'O my master, know that the two just


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