She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Lady Jamilah returned to her women, she said to them, “Come, let us go back to our palace.” They replied, “Why should we return now, seeing that we use to abide here three days?” Quoth she, “I feel an exceeding oppression in myself, as though I were sick, and I fear lest this increase upon me.”330 So they answered, “We hear and obey,” and donning their walking dresses went down to the river-bank and embarked in a boat; whereupon behold, the keeper of the garden came up to Ibrahim and said to him, knowing not what had happened, “O Ibrahim, thou hast not had the luck to enjoy the sight of her, and I fear lest she have seen thee, for ’tis her wont to tarry here three days.” Replied Ibrahim, “She saw me not nor I her; for she came not forth of the pavilion.”331 Rejoined the keeper, “True, O my son, for, had she seen thee, we were both dead men: but abide with me till she come again next week, and thou shalt see her and take thy fill of looking at her.” Replied the Prince, “O my lord, I have with me money and fear for it: I also left men behind me and I dread lest they take advantage of my absence.”332 He retorted, “O my son ’tis grievous to me to part with thee;” and he embraced and farewelled him. Then Ibrahim returned to the Khan where he lodged, and foregathering with the doorkeeper, took of him all his property and the porter said, “Good news, Inshallah!”333 But Ibrahim said, “I have found no way to my want, and now I am minded to return to my people.” Whereupon the porter wept; then taking up his baggage, he carried them to the ship and abade him adieu. Ibrahim repaired to the place which Jamilah had appointed him and awaited her there till it grew dark, when, behold, she came up, disguised as a bully-boy with rounded beard and waist bound with a girdle. In one hand she held a bow and arrows and in the other a bared blade, and she asked him, “Art thou Ibrahim, son of al-Khasib, lord of Egypt?” “He I am,” answered the Prince; and she said, “What ne’er-do-well art thou, who comes to debauch the daughters of Kings? Come: speak with the Sultan.”334 “Therewith” (quoth Ibrahim) “I fell down in a swoon and the sailors died335 in their skins for fear; but, when she saw what had betided me, she pulled off her beard and throwing down her sword, ungirdled her waist whereupon I knew her for the Lady Jamilah and said to her, ‘By Allah, thou hast rent my heart in sunder!’336 adding to the boatmen, ‘Hasten the vessel’s speed.’ So they shook out the sail and putting off, fared on with all diligence; nor was it many days ere we made Baghdad, where suddenly we saw a ship lying by the river-bank. When her sailors saw us, they cried out to our crew, saying, ‘Ho, such an one and such an one, we give you joy of your safety!’ Then they drave their ship against our craft and I looked and in the other boat beheld Abu al-Kasim al-Sandalani who when he saw us exclaimed ‘This is what I sought: go ye in God’s keeping; as for me, I have a need to be satisfied!’ Then he turned to me and said, ‘Praised be Allah for safety! Hast thou accomplished shine errand? I replied, ‘Yes!’ Now Abu al-Kasim had a flambeau before him; so he brought it near our boat,337 and when Jamilah saw him, she was troubled and her colour changed: but, when he saw her, he said, ‘Fare ye in Allah’s safety. I am bound to Bassorah on business for the Sultan; but the gift is for him who is present.’338 Then he brought out a box of sweetmeats, wherein was Bhang and threw it into our boat: whereupon quoth I to Jamilah, ‘O coolth of mine eyes, eat of this.’ But she wept and said, ‘O Ibrahim, wottest thou who that is?’ and said I, ‘Yes, ’tis such an one.’ Replied she, ‘He is my first cousin, son of my father’s brother339 who sought me aforetime in marriage of my sire; but I would not accept of him. And now he is gone to Bassorah and most like he will tell my father of us.’ I rejoined, ‘O my lady he will not reach Bassorah, till we are at Mosul.’ But we knew not what lurked for us in the Secret Purpose. “Then” (continued Ibrahim) “I ate of the sweetmeat, but hardly had it reached my stomach when I smote the ground with my head; and lay there till near dawn, when I sneezed and the Bhang issued from my nostrils. With this, I opened my eyes and found myself naked and cast out among ruins; so I buffeted my face and said in myself, ‘Doubtless this is a trick al-Sandalani hath played me.’ But I knew not whither I should wend, for I had upon me naught save my bag-trousers.340 However, I rose and walked on a little, till I suddenly espied the Chief of Police coming towards me, with a posse of men with swords and targes;341 whereat I took fright and seeing a ruined Hammam hid myself there. Presently, my foot stumbled upon something; so I put my hand to it, and it became befouled with blood. I wiped my hand upon my bag-trousers, unknowing what had befouled it, and put it out a second time, when it fell upon a corpse whose head came up in my hand. I threw it down, saying, ‘There is no Majesty and there is no Might in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!’; and I took refuge in one of the corner-cabinets of the Hammam. Presently the Wali stopped at the bath-door and said, ‘Enter this place and search.’ So ten of them entered with cressets, and I of my fear retired behind a wall and looking upon the corpse, saw it to be that of a young lady342 with a face like the full moon; and her head lay on one side and her body clad in costly raiment on the other. When I saw this, my heart fluttered with affright. Then the Chief of Police entered and said, ‘Search the corners of the bath.’ So they entered the place wherein I was, and one of them seeing me came up hending in hand a knife half a cubit long. When he drew near me, he cried, ‘Glory be to God, the Creator of this fair face! O youth, whence art thou?’ Then he took me by the hand and said, ‘O youth, why slewest thou this woman?’ Said I, ‘By Allah, I slew her not, nor wot I who slew her, and I entered not this place but in fear of you!’ And I told him my case, adding, ‘Allah upon thee, do me no wrong, for I am in concern for myself!’ Then he took me and carried me to the Wali who, seeing the marks of blood on my hand said, ‘This needeth no proof: strike off his head!’—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
330 Here after the favourite Oriental fashion, she tells the truth but so enigmatically that it is more deceptive than an untruth; a good Eastern quibble infinitely more dangerous than an honest downright lie. The consciousness that the falsehood is part fact applies a salve to conscience and supplies a force lacking in the mere fib. When an Egyptian lies to you look straight in his eyes and he will most often betray himself either by boggling or by a look of injured innocence.
331 Another true lie.
332 Arab. ‘‘Yastaghíbuní,” lit. = they deem my absence too long.
333 An euphemistic form of questioning after absence: “Is all right with thee?”
334 Arab. “Kallim al-Sultan!” the formula of summoning which has often occurred in The Nights.
335 Lane translates “Almost died,” Payne “Well-nigh died;” but the text says “died.” I would suggest to translators
“Be bould, be bould and every where be bould!”
336 He is the usual poltroon contrasted with the manly and masterful girl, a conjunction of the lioness and the lamb sometimes seen in real life.
337 That he might see Jamilah as Ibrahim had promised.
338 A popular saying, i.e., les absents ont tonjours tort.
339 Who had a prior right to marry her, but not against her consent after she was of age.
340 Arab “Sirwál.” In Al–Hariri it is a singular form (see No. ii. of the twelve riddles in Ass. xxiv.), but Mohammed said to his followers “Tuakhkhizú” (adopt ye) “Saráwílát.” The latter is regularly declinable but the broken form Saráwíl is imperfectly declinable on account of its “heaviness,” as are all plurals whose third letter is an Alif followed by i or í in the next syllable.
341 Arab. “Matarik” from mitrak or mitrakah a small wooden shield coated with hide This even in the present day is the policeman’s equipment in the outer parts of the East.
342 Arab. “Sabíyah” for which I prefer Mr. Payne’s “young lady” to Lane’s “damsel” the latter should be confined to Járiyah as both bear the double sense of girl and slave (or servant) girl. “Bins” again is daughter, maid or simply girl.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Ibrahim continued, ‘Then they carried me before the Wali and he, seeing the bloodstains on my hand, cried, ‘This needeth no proof: strike off his head!’ Now hearing these words, I wept with sore weeping the tears streaming from my eyes and recited these two couplets343,
‘We trod the steps that for us were writ,
And whose steps are
written he needs must tread
And whose death is decreed in one land to be
He ne’er shall
perish in other stead.’
Then I sobbed a single sob and fell a-swoon; and the headsman’s heart was moved to ruth for me and he exclaimed, ‘By Allah, this is no murtherer’s face!’ But the Chief said, ‘Smite his neck.’ So they seated me on the rug of blood and bound my eyes; after which the sworder drew his sword and asking leave of the Wali, was about to strike off my head, whilst I cried out, ‘Alas, my strangerhood!’ when lo and behold! I heard a noise of horse coming up and a voice calling aloud, ‘Leave him! Stay thy hand, O Sworder!’”—Now there was for this a wondrous reason and a marvellous cause; and ’twas thus. al-Khasib, Wazir of Egypt, had sent his Head Chamberlain to the Caliph Harun al, Rashid with presents and a letter, saying, “My son hath been missing this year past, and I hear that he is in Baghdad; where fore I crave of the bounty of the Vicegerent of Allah that he make search for tidings of him and do his endeavour to find him and send him back to me with the Chamberlain.” When the Caliph read the missive, he commanded the Chief of Police to search out the truth of the matter, and he ceased not to enquire after Ibrahim, till it was told him that he was at Bassorah, where upon he informed the Caliph, who wrote a letter to the viceroy and giving it to the Chamberlain of Egypt, bade him repair to Bassorah and take with him a company of the Wazir’s followers. So, of his eagerness to find the son of his lord, the Chamberlain set out forthright and happened by the way upon Ibrahim, as he stood on the rug of blood. When the Wali saw the Chamberlain, he recognised him and alighted to him and as he asked, “What young man is that and what is his case?” The Chief told him how the matter was and the Chamberlain said (and indeed he knew him not for the son of the Sultan344) “Verily this young man hath not the face of one who murthereth.” And he bade loose his bonds; so they loosed him and the Chamberlain said, “Bring him to me!” and they brought him, but the officer knew him not his beauty being all gone for the horrors he had endured. Then the Chamberlain said to him, “O youth, tell me thy case and how cometh this slain woman with thee.” Ibrahim looked at him and knowing him, said to him, “Woe to thee! Dost thou not know me? Am I not Ibrahim, son of thy lord? Haply thou art come in quest of me.” With this the Chamberlain considered him straitly and knowing him right well, threw himself at his feet; which when the Wali saw, his colour changed, and the Chamber lain cried to him, “Fie upon thee, O tyrant! Was it shine intent to slay the son of my master al-Khasib, Wazir of Egypt?” The Chief of Police kissed his skirt, saying “O my lord,345 how should I know him? We found him in this plight and saw the girl lying slain by his side.” Rejoined the Chamberlain, “Out on thee! Thou art not fit for the office. This is a lad of fifteen and he hath not slain a sparrow; so how should he be a murtherer? Why didst thou not have patience with him and question him of his case?” Then the Chamberlain and the Wali cried to the men, “Make search for the young lady’s murtherer.” So they re-entered the bath and finding him, brought him to the Chief of Police, who carried him to the Caliph and acquainted him with that which had occurred. al-Rashid bade slay the slayer and sending for Ibrahim, smiled in his face and said to him, “Tell me thy tale and that which hath betided thee.” So he recounted to him his story from first to last, and it was grievous to the Caliph, who called Masrur his Sworder, and said to him, “Go straightway and fall upon the house of Abu al-Kasim al-Sandalani and bring me him and the young lady.” The eunuch went forth at once and breaking into the house, found Jamilah bound with her own hair and nigh upon death; so he loosed her and taking the painter, carried them both to the Caliph, who marvelled at Jamilah’s beauty. Then he turned to Al— Sandalani and said, “Take him and cut off his hands, wherewith he beat this young lady; then crucify him and deliver his monies and possessions to Ibrahim.” They did his bidding, and as they were thus, behold, in came Abu al-Lays governor of Bassorah, the Lady Jamilah’s father, seeking aid of the Caliph against Ibrahim bin al— Khasib Wazir of Egypt and complaining to him that the youth had taken his daughter. Quoth al-Rashid, “He hath been the means of delivering her from torture and slaughter.” Then he sent for Ibrahim, and when he came, he said to Abu al-Lays, “Wilt thou not accept of this young man, son of the Soldan of Egypt, as husband to thy daughter? ‘ Replied Abu al-Lays, “I hear and I obey Allah and thee, O Commander of the Faithful;” whereupon the Caliph summoned the Kazi and the witnesses and married the young lady to Ibrahim. Furthermore, he gave him all Al Sandalani’s wealth and equipped him for his return to his own country, where he abode with Jamilah in the utmost of bliss and the most perfect of happiness, till there came to them the Destroyer of delights and the Sunderer of societies; and glory be to the Living who dieth not! They also relate, O auspicious King, a tale anent
343 The sense of them is found in vol. ii. 41.
344 Here the text is defective, but I hardly like to supply the omission. Mr. Payne introduces from below, “for that his charms were wasted and his favour changed by reason of the much terror and affliction he had suffered.” The next lines also are very abrupt and unconnected.
345 Arab. “Yá Mauláya!” the term is still used throughout Moslem lands; but in Barbary where it is pronounced “Mooláee” Europeans have converted it to “Muley” as if it had some connection with the mule. Even in Robinson Crusoe we find “muly” or “Moly Ismael” (chaps. ii.); and we hear the high-sounding name Maulá-i-Idrís, the patron saint of the Sunset Land, debased to “Muley Drís.”
The Caliph Al–Mu’tazid bi ’llah347 was a high-spirited Prince and a noble-minded lord; he had in Baghdad six hundred Wazirs and of the affairs of the folk naught was hidden from him. He went forth one day, he and Ibn Hamdún,348 to divert himself with observing his lieges and hearing the latest news of the people; and, being overtaken with the heats of noonday, they turned aside from the main thoroughfare into a little by-street, at the upper end whereof they saw a handsome and high-builded mansion, discoursing of its owner with the tongue of praise. They sat down at the gate to take rest, and presently out came two eunuchs as they were moons on their fourteenth night. Quoth one of them to his fellow, “Would Heaven some guest would seek admission this day! My master will not eat but with guests and we are come to this hour and I have not yet seen a soul.” The Caliph marvelled at their speech and said, “This is a proof of the house-master’s liberality: there is no help but that we go in to him and note his generosity, and this shall be a means of favour betiding him from us.” So he said to the eunuch, “Ask leave of thy lord for the admission of a company349 of strangers.” For in those days it was the Caliph’s wont, whenas he was minded to observe his subjects, to disguise himself in merchant’s garb. The eunuch went in and told his master, who rejoiced and rising, came out to them in person. He was fair of favour and fine of form and he appeared clad in a tunic of Níshápúr350 silk and a gold laced mantle; and he dripped with scented waters and wore on his hand a signet ring of rubies. When he saw them, he said to them, “Well come and welcome to the lords who favour us with the utmost of favour by their coming!” So they entered the house and found it such as would make a man forget family and fatherland for it was like a piece of Paradise.—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
346 Lane omits this tale because “it is very similar, but inferior in interest, to the Story told by the Sultan’s Steward.” See vol. i. 278.
347 Sixteenth Abbaside A.H. 279–289 (=A.D. 891–902). “He was comely, intrepid, of grave exterior, majestic in presence, of considerable intellectual power and the fiercest of the Caliphs of the House of Abbas. He once had the courage to attack a lion” (Al–Siyuti). I may add that he was a good soldier and an excellent administrator, who was called Saffáh the Second because he refounded the House of Abbas. He was exceedingly fanatic and died of sensuality, having first kicked his doctor to death, and he spent his last moments in versifying.
348 Hamdún bin Ismá’íl, called the Kátib or Scribe, was the first of his family who followed the profession of a Nadím or Cup-companion. His son Ahmad (who is in the text) was an oral transmitter of poetry and history. Al–Siyúti (p. 390) and De Slane I. Khall (ii. 304) notice him.
349 Probably the Caliph had attendants, but the text afterwards speaks of them as two. Mac. Edit. iv. p. 558, line 2; and a few lines below, “the Caliph and the man with him.”
350 Arab. “Naysábúr,” the famous town in Khorasan where Omar-i-Khayyám (whom our people will call Omar Khayyám) was buried and where his tomb is still a place of pious visitation. A sketch of it has lately appeared in the illustrated papers. For an affecting tale concerning the astronomer-poet’s tomb, borrowed from the Nigáristán see the Preface by the late Mr. Fitzgerald whose admirable excerpts from the Rubaiyat (101 out of 820 quatrains) have made the poem popular among all the English-speaking races.
She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Caliph entered the mansion, he and the man with him, they saw it to be such as would make one forget family and fatherland, for it was like a piece of Paradise. Within it was a flower-garden, full of all kinds of trees, confounding sight and its dwelling-places were furnished with costly furniture. They sat down and the Caliph fell to gazing at the house and the household gear. (Quoth Ibn Hamdún), “I looked at the Caliph and saw his countenance change, and being wont to know from his face whether he was amused or anangered, said to myself, ‘I wonder what hath vexed him.’ Then they brought a golden basin and we washed our hands, after which they spread a silken cloth and set thereon a table of rattan. When the covers were taken off the dishes, we saw therein meats rare as the blooms of Prime in the season of their utmost scarcity, twofold and single, and the host said, ‘Bismillah, O my lords! By Allah, hunger pricketh me; so favour me by eating of this food, as is the fashion of the noble.’ Thereupon he began tearing fowls apart and laying them before us, laughing the while and repeating verses and telling stories and talking gaily with pleasant sayings such as sorted with the entertainment. We ate and drank, then removed to another room, which confounded beholders with its beauty and which reeked with exquisite perfumes. Here they brought us a tray of fruits freshly-gathered and sweetmeats the finest flavoured, whereat our joys increased and our cares ceased. But withal the Caliph” (continued Ibn Hamdun) “ceased not to wear a frowning face and smiled not at that which gladdened all souls, albeit it was his wont to love mirth and merriment and the putting away of cares, and I knew that he was no envious wight and oppressor. So I said to myself, ‘Would Heaven I knew what is the cause of his moroseness and why we cannot dissipate his ill-humour!’ Presently they brought the tray of wine which friends doth conjoin and clarified draughts in flagons of gold and crystal and silver, and the host smote with a rattan-wand on the door of an inner chamber, whereupon behold, it opened and out came three damsels, high-bosomed virginity with faces like the sun at the fourth hour of the day, one a lutist, another a harpist and the third a dancer-artiste. Then he set before us dried fruits and confections and drew between us and the damsels a curtain of brocade, with tassels of silk and rings of gold. The Caliph paid no heed to all this, but said to the host, who knew not who was in his company, ‘Art thou noble?’351 Said he, ‘No, my lord; I am but a man of the sons of the merchants and am known among the folk as Abú al-Hasan Ali, son of Ahmad of Khorasan.’ Quoth the Caliph, ‘Dost thou know me, O man?’, and quoth he, ‘By Allah, O my lord, I have no knowledge of either of your honours!’ Then said I to him, ‘O man, this is the Commander of the Faithful, Al-Mu’tazid bi ’llah grandson of Al–Mutawakkil alà ’llah.’352 Whereupon he rose and kissed the ground before the Caliph, trembling for fear of him, and said, ‘O Prince of True Believers, I conjure thee, by the virtue of thy pious forbears, an thou have seen in me any shortcomings or lack of good manners in thy presence, do thou forgive me!’ Replied the Caliph, ‘As for that which thou hast done with us of honouring and hospitality nothing could have exceeded it; and as for that wherewith I have to reproach thee here, an thou tell me the truth respecting it and it commend itself to my sense, thou shalt be saved from me; but, an thou tell me not the truth, I will take thee with manifest proof and punish thee with such punishment as never yet punished any.’ Quoth the man, ‘Allah forbid that I tell thee a lie! But what is it that thou reproachest to me, O Commander of the Faithful?’ Quoth the Caliph, ‘Since I entered thy mansion and looked upon its grandeur, I have noted the furniture and vessels therein, nay, even to thy clothes, and behold, on all of them is the name of my grandfather Al–Mutawakkil ala ’llah.’353 Answered Abu al-Hasan, ‘Yes, O Commander of the Faithful (the Almighty protect thee), truth is thine inner garb and sincerity is thine outer garment and none may speak otherwise than truly in thy presence.’ The Caliph bade him be seated and said, ‘Tell us.’” So he began, “Know, O Commander of the Faithful, that my father belonged to the markets of the money-changers and druggists and linendrapers and had in each bazar a shop and an agent and all kinds of goods. Moreover, behind the money-changer’s shop he had an apartment, where he might be private, appointing the shop for buying and selling. His wealth was beyond count and to his riches there was none amount; but he had no child other than myself, and he loved me and was tenderly fain of me. When his last hour was at hand, he called me to him and commended my mother to my care and charged me to fear Almighty Allah. Then he died, may Allah have mercy upon him and continue the Prince of True Believers on life! And I gave myself up to pleasure and eating and drinking and took to myself comrades and intimates. My mother used to forbid me from this and to blame me for it, but I would not hear a word from her, till my money was all gone, when I sold my lands and houses and naught was left me save the mansion wherein I now dwell, and it was a goodly stead, O Commander of the Faithful. So I said to my mother, ‘I wish to sell the house;’ but she said, ‘O my son, an thou sell it, thou wilt be dishonoured and wilt have no place wherein to take shelter.’ Quoth I, ‘’Tis worth five thousand dinars, and with one thousand of its price I will buy me another house and trade with the rest.’ Quoth she, ‘Wilt thou sell it to me at that price?’; and I replied, ‘Yes.’ Whereupon she went to a coffer and opening it, took out a porcelain vessel, wherein were five thousand dinars. When I saw this meseemed the house was all of gold and she said to me, ‘O my son, think not that this is of thy father’s good. By Allah, O my son, it was of my own father’s money and I have treasured it up against a time of need; for, in thy father’s day I was a wealthy woman and had no need of it.’ I took the money from her, O Prince of True Believers, and fell again to feasting and carousing and merrymaking with my friends, unheeding my mother’s words and admonitions, till the five thousand dinars came to an end, when I said to her, ‘I wish to sell the house.’ Said she, ‘O my son, I forbade thee from selling it before, of my knowledge that thou hadst need of it; so how wilt thou sell it a second time?’ Quoth I, ‘Be not longsome of speech with me, for I must and will sell it;’ and quoth she, ‘Then sell it to me for fifteen thousand dinars, on condition that I take charge of thine affairs.’ So I sold her the house at that price and gave up my affairs into her charge, whereupon she sought out the agents of my father and gave each of them a thousand dinars, keeping the rest in her own hands and ordering the outgo and the income. Moreover she gave me money to trade withal and said to me, ‘Sit thou in thy father’s shop.’ So I did her bidding, O Commander of the Faithful, and took up my abode in the chamber behind the shop in the market of the money-changers, and my friends came and bought of me and I sold to them; whereby I made good cheape and my wealth increased. When my mother saw me in this fair way, she discovered to me that which she had treasured up of jewels and precious stones, pearls, and gold, and I bought back my houses and lands that I had squandered and my wealth became great as before. I abode thus for some time, and the factors of my father came to me and I gave them stock-in-trade, and I built me a second chamber behind the shop. One day, as I sat there, according to my custom, O Prince of True Believers, there came up to me a damsel, never saw eyes a fairer than she of favour, and said, ‘Is this the private shop of Abu al-Hasan Ali ibn Ahmad al-Khorasani?’ Answered I, ‘Yes,’ and she asked, ‘Where is he?’ ‘He am I,’ said I, and indeed my wit was dazed at the excess of her loveliness. She sat down and said to me, ‘Bid thy page weigh me out three hundred dinars.’ Accordingly I bade him give her that sum and he weighed it out to her and she took it and went away, leaving me stupefied. Quoth my man to me, ‘Dost thou know her?’, and quoth I, ‘No, by Allah!’ He asked, ‘Then why didst thou bid me give her the money?’; and I answered, ‘By Allah, I knew not what I said, of my amazement at her beauty and loveliness!’ Then he rose and followed her, without my knowledge, but presently returned, weeping and with the mark of a blow on his face. I enquired of him what ailed him, and he replied, ‘I followed the damsel, to see whither she went; but, when she was aware of me, she turned and dealt me this blow and all but knocked out my eye.’ After this, a month passed, without her coming, O Commander of the Faithful, and I abode bewildered for love of her; but, at the end of this time, she suddenly appeared again and saluted me, whereat I was like to fly for joy. She asked me how I did and said to me, ‘Haply thou saidst to thyself, What manner of trickstress is this, who hath taken my money and made off?’ Answered I, ‘By Allah, O my lady, my money and my life are all thy very own!’ With this she unveiled herself and sat down to rest, with the trinkets and ornaments playing over her face and bosom. Presently, she said to me, ‘Weigh me out three hundred dinars. ‘Hearkening and obedience,’ answered I and weighed out to her the money. She took it and went away and I said to my servant, ‘Follow her.’ So he followed her, but returned dumbstruck, and some time passed without my seeing her. But, as I was sitting one day, behold, she came up to me and after talking awhile, said to me, ‘Weigh me out five hundred dinars, for I have need of them.’ I would have said to her, ‘Why should I give thee my money?’; but my love immense hindered me from utterance; for, O Prince of True Believers, whenever I saw her, I trembled in every joint and my colour paled and I forgot what I would have said and became even as saith the poet,
‘’Tis naught but this! When a-sudden I see her
Mumchance I bide
nor a word can say her.’
So I weighed out for her the five hundred ducats, and she took them and went away; whereupon I arose and followed her myself, till she came to the jewel-bazar, where she stopped at a man’s shop and took of him a necklace. Then she turned and seeing me, said, ‘Pay him five hundred dinars for me.’ When the jeweller saw me, he rose to me and made much of me, and I said to him, ‘Give her the necklace and set down the price to me.’ He replied, ‘I hear and obey,’ and she took it and went away;”—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
351 Arab. “A-Sharíf anta?” (with the Hamzah-sign of interrogation)=Art thou a Sharíf (or descendant of the Apostle)?
352 Tenth Abbaside (A.H. 234–247=848–861), grandson of Al–Rashid and born of a slave-concubine. He was famous for his hatred of the Alides (he destroyed the tomb of Al–Husayn) and claimed the pardon of Allah for having revised orthodox traditionary doctrines. He compelled the Christians to wear collars of wood or leather and was assassinated by five Turks.
353 His father was Al–Mu’tasim bi ’llah (A.H. 218–227=833–842) the son of Al–Rashid by Máridah a slave-concubine of foreign origin. He was brave and of high spirit, but destitute of education; and his personal strength was such that he could break a man’s elbow between his fingers. He imitated the apparatus of Persian kings; and he was called the “Octonary” because he was the 8th Abbaside; the 8th in descent from Abbas; the 8th son of Al–Rashid; he began his reign in A.H. 218; lived 48 years; was born under Scorpio (8th Zodiacal sign); was victorious in 8 expeditions; slew 8 important foes and left 8 male and 8 female children. For his introducing Turks see vol. iii, 81.
She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Abu Hasan the Khorasani thus pursued his tale, “So I said to the jeweller, ‘Give her the necklace and set down the price to me.’ Then she took it and went away; but I followed her, till she came to the Tigris and boarded a boat there, whereupon I signed with my hand to the ground, as who should say, ‘I kiss it before thee.’ She went off laughing, and I stood watching her, till I saw her land and enter a palace, which when I considered, I knew it for the palace of the Caliph Al–Mutawakkil. So I turned back, O Commander of the Faithful, with all the cares in the world fallen on my heart, for she had of me three thousand dinars, and I said to myself, ‘She hath taken my wealth and ravished my wit, and peradventure I shall lose my life for her love.’ Then I returned home and told my mother all that had befallen me, and she said, ‘O my son, beware how thou have to do with her after this, or thou art lost.’ When I went to my shop, my factor in the drug-market, who was a very old man, came to me and said, ‘O my lord, how is it that I see thee changed in case and showing marks of chagrin? Tell me what aileth thee.’ So I told him all that had befallen me with her and he said, ‘O my son, this is indeed one of the handmaidens of the palace of the Commander of the Faithful and haply she is the Caliph’s favourite concubine: so do thou reckon the money as spent for the sake of Almighty Allah354 and occupy thyself no more with her. An she come again, beware lest she have to do with thee and tell me of this, that I may devise thee some device lest perdition betide thee.’ Then he fared forth and left me with a flame of fire in my heart. At the end of the month behold, she came again and I rejoiced in her with exceeding joy. Quoth she, ‘What ailed thee to follow me?’; and quoth I, ‘Excess of passion that is in my heart urged me to this,’ and I wept before her. She wept for ruth of me and said, ‘By Allah, there is not in thy heart aught of love-longing but in my heart is more! Yet how shall I do? By Allah, I have no resource save to see thee thus once a month.’ Then she gave me a bill saying, ‘Carry this to such an one of such a trade who is my agent and take of him what is named therein.’ But I replied, ‘I have no need of money; be my wealth and my life thy sacrifice!’ Quoth she, ‘I will right soon contrive thee a means of access to me, whatever trouble it cost me.’ Then she farewelled me and fared forth, whilst I repaired to the old druggist and told him what had passed. He went with me to the palace of Al–Mutawakkil which I knew for that which the damsel had entered; but the Shaykh was at a loss for a device. Presently he espied a tailor sitting with his apprentices at work in his shop, opposite the lattice giving upon the river bank and said to me, ‘Yonder is one by whom thou shalt win thy wish; but first tear thy pocket and go to him and bid him sew it up. When he hath done this, give him ten dinars.’ ‘I hear and obey,’ answered I and taking with me two pieces355 of Greek brocade, went to the tailor and bade him make of them four suits, two with long-sleeved coats and two without. When he had finished cutting them out and sewing them, I gave him to his hire much more than of wont, and he put out his hand to me with the clothes; but I said, ‘Take them for thyself and for those who are with thee.’ And I fell to sitting with him and sitting long: I also bespoke of him other clothes and said to him, ‘Hang them out in front of thy shop, so the folk may see them and buy them.’ He did as I bade him, and whoso came forth of the Caliph’s palace and aught of the clothes pleased him, I made him a present thereof, even to the doorkeeper. One day of the days the tailor said to me, ‘O my son, I would have thee tell me the truth of thy case; for thou hast bespoken of me an hundred costly suits, each worth a mint of money, and hast given the most of them to the folk. This is no merchant’s fashion, for a merchant calleth an account for every dirham, and what can be the sum of thy capital that thou givest these gifts and what thy gain every year? Tell me the truth of thy case, that I may assist thee to thy desire;’ presently adding, ‘I conjure thee by Allah, tell me, art thou not in love?’ ‘Yes,’ replied I; and he said, ‘With whom?’ Quoth I, ‘With one of the handmaids of the Caliph’s palace;’ and quoth he, ‘Allah put them to shame! How long shall they seduce the folk? Knowest thou her name?’ Said I, ‘No;’ and said he, ‘Describe her to me.’ So I described her to him and he cried, ‘Out on it! This is the lutanist of the Caliph Al–Mutawakkil and his pet concubine. But she hath a Mameluke356 and do thou make friends with him; it may be he shall become the means of thy having access to her.’ Now as we were talking, behold, out walked the servant in question from the palace, as he were a moon on the fourteenth night; and, seeing that I had before me the clothes which the tailor had made me, and they were of brocade of all colours, he began to look at them and examine them. Then he came up to me and I rose and saluted him. He asked, ‘Who art thou?’ and I answered, ‘I am a man of the merchants.’ Quoth he, ‘Wilt thou sell these clothes?’; and quoth I, ‘Yes.’ So he chose out five of them and said to me, ‘How much these five?’ Said I, ‘They are a present to thee from me in earnest of friendship between me and thee.’ At this he rejoiced and I went home and fetching a suit embroidered with jewels and jacinths, worth three thousand dinars, returned therewith and gave it to him. He accepted it and carrying me into a room within the palace, said to me, ‘What is thy name among the merchants?’ Said I, ‘I am a man of them.’357 He continued, ‘Verily I misdoubt me of thine affair.’ I asked, ‘Why so?’ and he answered, ‘Because thou hast bestowed on me a costly gift and won my heart therewith, and I make certain that thou art Abu alHasan of Khorasan the Shroff.’ With this I fell aweeping, O Prince of True Believers; and he said to me, ‘Why dost thou weep? By Allah, she for whom thou weepest is yet more longingly in love with thee than thou with her! And indeed her case with thee is notorious among all the palace women. But what wouldst thou have?’ Quoth I, ‘I would have thee succour me in my calamity.’ So he appointed me for the morrow and I returned home. As soon as I rose next morning, I betook myself to him and waited in his chamber till he came in and said to me, ‘Know that yesternight when, after having made an end of her service by the Caliph, she returned to her apartment, I related to her all that had passed between me and thee and she is minded to foregather with thee. So stay with me till the end of the day.’ Accordingly I stayed with him till dark, when the Mameluke brought me a shirt of gold-inwoven stuff and a suit of the Caliph’s apparel and clothing me therein, incensed me358 and I became like the Commander of the Faithful. Then he brought me to a gallery with rows of rooms on either side and said to me, ‘These are the lodgings of the Chief of the slavegirls; and when thou passest along the gallery, do thou lay at each door a bean, for ’tis the custom of the Caliph to do this every night,’”—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
354 i.e. as if it were given away in charity.
355 Arab. “Shukkah,” a word much used in the Zanzibar trade where it means a piece of long-cloth one fathom long. See my “Lake Regions of Central Africa,” vol. i. 147, etc.
356 He is afterwards called in two places “Khádim”=eunuch.
357 A courteous way of saying, “Never mind my name: I wish to keep it hidden.” The formula is still popular.
358 Arab. “Bakhkharaní” i.e. fumigated me with burning aloes-wood, Calumba or similar material.
She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Mameluke said to Abu Hasan, “When thou passest along the gallery set down at each door a bean for ’tis the custom of the Caliph so to do, till thou come to the second passage on thy right hand, when thou wilt see a door with a marble threshold .359 Touch it with thy hand or, an thou wilt, count the doors which are so many, and enter the one whose marks are thus and thus. There thy mistress will see thee and take thee in with her. As for thy coming forth, verily Allah will make it easy to me, though I carry thee out in a chest.”—“Then he left me and returned, whilst I went on, counting the doors and laying at each a bean. When I had reached the middle of the gallery, I heard a great clatter and saw the light of flambeaux coming towards me. As the light drew near me, I looked at it and behold, the Caliph himself, came surrounded by the slave-girls carrying waxen lights, and I heard one of the women360 say to another, ‘O my sister, have we two Caliphs? Verily, the Caliph whose perfumes and essences I smelt, hath already passed by my room and he hath laid the bean at my door, as his wont; and now I see the light of his flambeaux, and here he cometh with them.’ Replied the other, ‘Indeed this is a wondrous thing, for disguise himself in the Caliph’s habit none would dare.’ Then the light drew near me, whilst I trembled in every limb; and up came an eunuch, crying out to the concubines and saying, ‘Hither!’ Whereupon they turned aside to one of the chambers and entered. Then they came out again and walked on till they came to the chamber of my mistress and I heard the Caliph say, ‘Whose chamber is this?’ They answered, ‘This is the chamber of Shajarat al-Durr.’ And he said, ‘Call her.’ So they called her and she came out and kissed the feet of the Caliph, who said to her, ‘Wilt thou drink to-night?’ Quoth she, ‘But for thy presence and the looking on thine auspicious countenance, I would not drink, for I incline not to wine this night.’ Then quoth the Commander of the Faithful to the eunuch, ‘Bid the treasurer give her such necklace;’ and he commanded to enter her chamber. So the waxen lights entered before him and he followed them into the apartment. At the same moment, behold, there came up a damsel, the lustre of whose face outshone that of the flambeau in her hand, and drawing near she said, ‘Who is this?’ Then she laid hold of me and carrying me into one of the chambers, said to me, ‘Who art thou?’ I kissed the ground before her saying, ‘I implore thee by Allah, O my lady, spare my blood and have ruth on me and commend thyself unto Allah by saving my life!’; and I wept for fear of death. Quoth she, ‘Doubtless, thou art a robber;’ and quoth I, ‘No, by Allah, I am no robber. Seest thou on me the signs of thieves?’ Said she, ‘Tell me the truth of thy case and I will put thee in safety.’ So I said, ‘I am a silly lover and an ignorant, whom passion and my folly have moved to do as thou seest, so that I am fallen into this slough of despond.’ Thereat cried she, ‘Abide here till I come back to thee;’ and going forth she presently returned with some of her handmaid’s clothes wherein she clad me and bade me follow her; so I followed her till she came to her apartment and commanded me to enter. I went in and she led me to a couch, whereon was a mighty fine carpet, and said, ‘Sit down here: no harm shall befal thee. Art thou not Abu al-Hasan Ali the Khorasani, the Shroff?’ I answered, ‘Yes,’ and she rejoined, ‘Allah spare thy blood given thou speak truth! An thou be a robber, thou art lost, more by token that thou art dressed in the Caliph’s habit and incensed with his scents. But, an thou be indeed Abu al-Hasan, thou art safe and no hurt shall happen to thee, for that thou art the friend of Shajarat al-Durr, who is my sister and ceaseth never to name thee and tell us how she took of thee money, yet wast thou not chagrined, and how thou didst follow her to the river bank and madest sign as thou wouldst kiss the earth in her honour; and her heart is yet more aflame for thee than is thine for her. But how camest thou hither? Was it by her order or without it? She hath indeed imperilled thy life361. But what seekest thou in this assignation with her?’ I replied, ‘By Allah, O my lady, ’tis I who have imperilled my own life, and my aim in foregathering with her is but to look on her and hear her pretty speech.’ She said, ‘Thou hast spoken well;’ and I added, ‘O my lady, Allah is my witness when I declare that my soul prompteth me to no offence against her honour.’ Cried she, ‘In this intent may Allah deliver thee! Indeed compassion for thee hath gotten hold upon my heart.’ Then she called her handmaid and said to her, ‘Go to Shajarat al-Durr and say to her, ‘Thy sister saluteth thee and biddeth thee to her; so favour her by coming to her this night, according to thy custom, for her breast is straitened.’ The slave-girl went out and presently returning, told her mistress that Shajarat al-Durr said, ‘May Allah bless me with thy long life and make me thy ransom! By Allah, hadst thou bidden me to other than this, I had not hesitated; but the Caliph’s migraine constraineth me and thou knowest my rank with him.’ But the other said to her damsel, ‘Return to her and say, ‘Needs must thou come to my mistress upon a private matter between thee and her!’ So the girl went out again and presently returned with the damsel, whose face shone like the full moon. Her sister met her and embraced her; then said she, ‘Ho, Abu al-Hasan, come forth to her and kiss her hands!’ Now I was in a closet within the apartment; so I walked out, O Commander of the Faithful, and when my mistress saw me, she threw herself upon me and strained me to her bosom saying, ‘How camest thou in the Caliph’s clothes and his ornaments and perfumes? Tell me what hath befallen thee.’ So I related to her all that had befallen me and what I had suffered for affright and so forth; and she said, ‘Grievous to me is what thou hast endured for my sake and praised be Allah who hath caused the issue to be safety, and the fulfilment of safety is in thy entering my lodging and that of my sister.’ Then she carried me to her own apartment, saying to her sister, ‘I have covenanted with him that I will not be united to him unlawfully; but, as he hath risked himself and incurred these perils, I will be earth for his treading and dust to his sandals!’”—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
359 In sign of honour. The threshold is important amongst Moslems: in one of the Mameluke Soldans’ sepulchres near Cairo I found a granite slab bearing the “cartouche” (shield) of Khufu (Cheops) with the four hieroglyphs hardly effaced.
360 i.e. One of the concubines by whose door he had passed.
361 Epistasis without the prostasis, “An she ordered thee so to do:” the situation justifies the rhetorical figure.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that quoth the damsel to her sister, “I have covenanted with him that I will not be united to him unlawfully; but, as he hath risked himself and incurred these perils, I will be earth for his treading and dust to his sandals!” Replied her sister, “In this intent may Allah deliver him!”—“and my mistress rejoined, ‘Soon shalt thou see how I will do, so I may lawfully foregather with him and there is no help but that I lavish my heart’s blood to devise this.’ Now as we were in talk, behold, we heard a great noise and turning, saw the Caliph making for her chamber, so engrossed was he by the thought of her; whereupon she took me, O Prince of True Believers and hid me in a souterrain362 and shut down the trap-door upon me. Then she went out to meet the Caliph, who entered and sat down, whilst she stood between his hands to serve him, and commanded to bring wine. Now the Caliph loved a damsel by name Banjah, who was the mother of Al–Mu’tazz bi ’llah363; but they had fallen out and parted; and in the pride of her beauty and loveliness she would not make peace with him, nor would Al–Mutawakkil, for the dignity of the Caliphate and the kingship, make peace with her neither humble himself to her, albeit his heart was aflame with passion for her, but sought to solace his mind from her with her mates among the slave-girls and with going in to them in their chambers. Now he loved Shajarat al-Durr’s singing: so he bade her sing, when she took the lute and tuning the strings sang these verses,
‘The world-tricks I admire betwixt me and her;
How, us parted,
the World would to me incline:
I shunned thee till said they, ‘He knows not Love;’
thee till said they, ‘No patience is mine!’
Then, O Love of her, add to my longing each night,
And, O Solace, thy comforts for Doomsday assign!
Soft as silk is her touch and her low sweet voice
much and o’er little aye draweth the line:
And eyne whereof Allah said ‘Be ye!’ and they
Became to man’s
wit like the working of wine.’
When the Caliph heard these verses, he was pleasured with exceeding pleasure, and I also, O Commander of the Faithful, was pleasured in my hiding-place, and but for the bounty of Almighty Allah, I had cried out and we had been disgraced. Then she sang also these couplets,
‘I embrace him, yet after him yearns my soul
For his love, but
can aught than embrace be nigher?
I kiss his lips to assuage my lowe;
But each kiss gars it glow
with more flaming fire;
‘Tis as though my vitals aye thirst unquencht
Till I see two
souls mixt in one entire.’
The Caliph was delighted and said, ‘O Shajarat al-Durr, ask a boon of me.’ She replied, ‘O Commander of the Faithful, I ask of thee my freedom, for the sake of the reward thou wilt obtain therein.’364 Quoth he, ‘Thou art free for the love of Allah;’ whereupon she kissed ground before him. He resumed, ‘Take the lute and sing me somewhat on the subject of my slave-girl, of whom I am enamoured with warmest love: the folk seek my pleasure and I seek hers.’ So she took the lute and sang these two couplets,
‘My charmer who spellest my piety365
On all accounts I’ll
have thee, have thee,
Or by humble suit which besitteth Love
Or by force more fitting
The Caliph admired these verses and said, ‘Now, take up thy lute and sing me a song setting out my case with three damsels who hold the reins of my heart and make rest depart; and they are thyself and that wilful one and another I will not name, who hath not her like.’366 So she took the lute and playing a lively measure, sang these couplets,
‘Three lovely girls hold my bridle-rein
And in highest stead my
I have none to obey amid all mankind
But obeying them I but win
This is done through the Kingship of Love, whereby
The best of
my kingship they made their gain.’
The Caliph marvelled with exceeding marvel at the aptness of these verses to his case and his delight inclined him to reconciliation with the recalcitrant damsel. So he went forth and made for her chamber whither a slave-girl preceded him and announced to her the coming of the Caliph. She advanced to meet him and kissed the ground before him; then she kissed his feet and he was reconciled to her and she was reconciled to him. Such was the case with the Caliph; but as regards Shajarat al-Durr, she came to me rejoicing and said, ‘I am become a free woman by thy blessed coming! Surely Allah will help me in that which I shall contrive, so I may foregather with thee in lawful way.’ And I said, ‘Alhamdolillah!’ Now as we were talking, behold her Mameluke-eunuch entered and we related to him that which had passed, when he said, ‘Praised be Allah who hath made the affair to end well, and we implore the Almighty to crown His favours with thy safe faring forth the palace!’ Presently appeared my mistress’s sister, whose name was Fátir, and Shajarat al-Durr said to her, ‘O my sister, how shall we do to bring him out of the palace in safety; for indeed Allah hath vouchsafed me manumission and, by the blessing of his coming, I am become a free woman.’ Quoth Fatir, ‘I see nothing for it but to dress him in woman’s gear.’ So she brought me a suit of women’s clothes and clad me therein; and I went out forthwith, O Commander of the Faithful; but, when I came to the midst of the palace, behold, I found the Caliph seated there, with the eunuchs in attendance upon him. When he saw me, he misdoubted of me with exceeding doubt, and said to his suite, ‘Hasten and bring me yonder handmaiden who is faring forth.’ So they brought me back to him and raised the veil from my face, which when he saw, he knew me and questioned me of my case. I told him the whole truth, hiding naught, and when he heard my story, he pondered my case awhile, without stay or delay, and going into Shajarat al-Durr’s chamber, said to her, ‘How couldst thou prefer before me one of the sons of the merchants?’ She kissed ground between his hands and told him her tale from first to last, in accordance with the truth; and he hearing it had compassion upon her and his heart relented to her and he excused her by reason of love and its circumstances. Then he went away and her eunuch came in to her and said, ‘Be of good cheer; for, when thy lover was set before the Caliph, he questioned him and he told him that which thou toldest him, word by word.’ Presently the Caliph returned and calling me before him, said to me, ‘What made thee dare to violate the palace of the Caliphate?’ I replied, ‘O Commander of the Faithful, ’twas my ignorance and passion and my confidence in thy clemency and generosity that drave me to this.’ And I wept and kissed the ground before him. Then said he, ‘I pardon you both,’ and bade me be seated. So I sat down and he sent for the Kazi Ahmad ibn Abi Duwád367 and married me to her. Then he commanded to make over all that was hers to me and they displayed her to me368 in her lodging. After three days, I went forth and transported all her goods and gear to my own house; so every thing thou hast seen, O Commander of the Faithful, in my house and whereof thou misdoubtest, is of her marriage-equipage. After this, she said to me one day, ‘Know that Al–Mutawakkil is a generous man and I fear lest he remember us with ill mind, or that some one of the envious remind him of us; wherefore I purpose to do somewhat that may ensure us against this.’ Quoth I, ‘And what is that?;’ and quoth she, ‘I mean to ask his leave to go the pilgrimage and repent369 of singing.’ I replied, ‘Right is this rede thou redest;’ but, as we were talking, behold, in came a messenger from the Caliph to seek her, for that Al–Mutawakkil loved her singing. So she went with the officer and did her service to the Caliph, who said to her, ‘Sever not thyself from us;’370 and she answered ‘I hear and I obey.’ Now it chanced one day, after this, she went to him, he having sent for her, as was his wont; but, before I knew, she came back, with her raiment rent and her eyes full of tears. At this I was alarmed, misdoubting me that he had commanded to seize upon us, and said, ‘Verily we are Allah’s and unto Him shall we return! Is Al–Mutawakkil wroth with us?’ She replied, ‘Where is Al–Mutawakkil? Indeed Al–Mutawakkil’s rule is ended and his trace is blotted out!’ Cried I, ‘Tell me what has happened:’ and she, ‘He was seated behind the curtain, drinking, with Al–Fath bin Khákán371 and Sadakah bin Sadakah, when his son Al–Muntasir fell upon him, with a company of the Turks,372 and slew him; and merriment was turned to misery and joy to weeping and wailing for annoy. So I fled, I and the slave-girl, and Allah saved us.’ When I heard this, O Commander of the Faithful, I arose forthright and went down stream to Bassorah, where the news reached me of the falling out of war between Al–Muntasir and Al–Musta’ín bi ’llah;373 wherefore I was affrighted and transported my wife and all my wealth to Bassorah. This, then, is my tale, O Prince of True Believers, nor have I added to or taken from it a single syllable. So all that thou seest in my house, bearing the name of thy grandfather Al–Mutawakkil, is of his bounty to us, and the fount of our fortune is from thy noble sources;374 for indeed ye are people of munificence and a mine of beneficence.” The Caliph marvelled at his story and rejoiced therein with joy exceeding: and Abu al-Hasan brought forth to him the lady and the children she had borne him, and they kissed ground before the Caliph, who wondered at their beauty. Then he called for inkcase and paper and wrote Abu al-Hasan a patent of exemption from taxes on his lands and houses for twenty years. Moreover, he rejoiced in him and made him his cup-companion, till the world parted them and they took up their abode in the tombs, after having dwelt under the palace-domes; and glory be to Allah, the King Merciful of doom. And they also tell a tale concerning
362 Arab. “Sardáb” see vol. i, 340.
363 Thirteenth Abbaside A.H. 252–255 (=866–869). His mother was a Greek slave called Kabíhah (Al–Mas’udi and Al–Siyuti); for which “Banjah” is probably a clerical error. He was exceedingly beautiful and was the first to ride out with ornaments of gold. But he was impotent in the hands of the Turks who caused the mob to depose him and kill him—his death being related in various ways.
364 i.e. The reward from Allah for thy good deed.
365 Arab. “Nusk” abstinence from women, a part of the Zahid’s asceticism.
366 Arab. “Munázirah” the verbal noun of which, “Munázarah,” may also mean “dispute.” The student will distinguish between “Munazarah” and Munafarah=a contention for precedence in presence of an umpire.
367 The Mac. Edit. gives by mistake “Abú Dáúd”: the Bul. correctly “Abú Duwád,” He was Kázi al-Kuzát (High Chancellor) under Al–Mu’tasim, Al–Wasik bi’llah (Vathek) and Al–Mutawakkil.
368 Arab. “Zaffú”=they led the bride to the bridegroom’s house; but here used in the sense of displaying her as both were in the palace.
369 i.e. renounce the craft which though not sinful (harám) is makrúh or religiously unpraiseworthy; Mohammed having objected to music and indeed to the arts in general.
370 Arab. “Lá tankati’í;” do not be too often absent from us. I have noticed the whimsical resemblance of “Kat’” and our “cut”; and here the metaphorical sense is almost identical.
371 See Ibn Khallikan ii. 455.
372 The Turkish body-guard. See vol. iii. 81.
373 Twelfth Abbaside (A.H. 248–252=862–866) the son of a slave-concubine Mukhárik. He was virtuous and accomplished, comely, fair-skinned, pock-marked and famed for defective pronunciation; and he first set the fashion of shortening men’s capes and widening the sleeves. After may troubles with the Turks, who were now the Prætorian guard of Baghdad, he was murdered at the instigation of Al–Mu’ tazz, who succeeded him, by his Chamberlain Sa’id bin Salíh.
374 Arab. “Usúl,” his forbears, his ancestors.
There was once, in time of old, a merchant hight Abd al-Rahmán, whom Allah had blessed with a son and daughter, and for their much beauty and loveliness, he named the girl Kaubab al-Sabáh and the boy Kamar al-Zamán.376 When he saw what Allah had vouchsafed the twain of beauty and loveliness, brilliancy and symmetry, he feared for them the evil eyes377 of the espiers and the jibing tongues of the jealous and the craft of the crafty and the wiles of the wicked and shut them up from the folk in a mansion for the space of fourteen years, during which time none saw them save their parents and a slave-girl who served them. Now their father could recite the Koran, even as Allah sent it down, as also did his wife, wherefore the mother taught her daughter to read and recite it and the father his son till both had gotten it by heart. Moreover, the twain learned from their parents writing and reckoning and all manner of knowledge and polite letters and needed no master. When Kamar al-Zaman came to years of manhood, the wife said to her husband, “How long wilt thou keep thy son Kamar al-Zaman sequestered from the eyes of the folk? Is he a girl or a boy?” He answered, “A boy.” Rejoined she, “An he be a boy, why dost thou not carry him to the bazar and seat him in thy shop, that he may know the folk and they know him, to the intent that it may become notorious among men that he is thy son, and do thou teach him to sell and to buy. Peradventure somewhat may befal thee; so shall the folk know him for thy son and he shall lay his hand on thy leavings. But, an thou die, as the case now is, and he say to the folk, ‘I am the son of the merchant Abd al-Rahman,’ verily they will not believe him, but will cry, ‘We have never seen thee and we knew not that he had a son,’ wherefore the government will seize thy goods and thy son will be despoiled. In like manner the girl; I mean to make her known among the folk, so may be some one of her own condition may ask her in marriage and we will wed her to him and rejoice in her.” Quoth he, “I did thus of my fear for them from the eyes of the folk,”—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
375 Lane rejects this tale because it is “extremely objectionable; far more so than the title might lead me to expect.” But he quotes the following marginal note by his Shaykh: —“Many persons (women) reckon marrying a second time amongst the most disgraceful of actions. This opinion is commonest in the country-towns and villages; and my mother’s relations are thus distinguished; so that a woman of them, when her husband dieth or divorceth her while she is young, passeth in widowhood her life, however long it may be, and disdaineth to marry a second time.” I fear that this state of things belongs to the good old days now utterly gone by; and the loose rule of the stranger, especially the English, in Egypt will renew the scenes which characterised Sind when Sir Charles Napier hanged every husband who cut down an adulterous wife. I have elsewhere noticed the ignorant idea that Moslems deny to women souls and seats in Paradise, whilst Mohammed canonised two women in his own family. The theory arose with the “Fathers” of the Christian Church who simply exaggerated the misogyny of St. Paul. St. Ambrose commenting on Corinthians i. ii., boldly says:—“Feminas ad imaginem Dei factas non esse.” St. Thomas Aquinas and his school adopted the Aristotelian view, “Mulier est erratum naturae, et mas occasionatus, et per accidens generatur; atque ideo est monstrum.” For other instances see Bayle s. v. Gediacus (Revd. Simon of Brandebourg) who in 1695 published a “Defensio Sexus muliebris,” a refutation of an anti-Socinian satire or squib, “Disputatio perjucunda, Mulieres homines non esse,” Parisiis, 1693. But when Islam arose in the seventh century, the Christian learned cleverly affixed the stigma of their own misogyny upon the Moslems ad captandas foeminas and in Southern Europe the calumny still bears fruit. Mohammed (Koran, chapt. xxiv.) commands for the first time, in the sixth year of his mission, the veiling and, by inference, the seclusion of women, which was apparently unknown to the Badawin and, if practised in the cities was probably of the laxest. Nor can one but confess that such modified separation of the sexes, which it would be impossible to introduce into European manners, has great and notable advantages. It promotes the freest intercourse between man and man, and thus civilises what we call the “lower orders”: in no Moslem land, from Morocco to China, do we find the brutals without manners or morals which are bred by European and especially by English civilisation. For the same reason it enables women to enjoy fullest intimacy and friendship with one another, and we know that the best of both sexes are those who prefer the society of their own as opposed to “quite the lady’s man” and “quite the gentleman’s woman.” It also adds an important item to social decorum by abolishing e.g. such indecencies as the “ball-room flirtation”—a word which must be borrowed from us, not translated by foreigners. And especially it gives to religious meetings, a tone which the presence of women modifies and not for the better. Perhaps, the best form is that semiseclusion of the sex, which prevailed in the heroic ages of Greece, Rome, and India (before the Moslem invasion), and which is perpetuated in Christian Armenia and in modern Hellas. It is a something between the conventual strictness of Al–Islam and the liberty, or rather licence, of the “Anglo–Saxon” and the “Anglo–American.” And when England shall have cast off that peculiar insularity which makes her differ from all civilised peoples, she will probably abolish three gross abuses, time-honoured scandals, which bear very heavily on women and children. The first is the Briton’s right to will property away from his wife and offspring. The second is the action for “breach of promise,” salving the broken heart with pounds, shillings, and pence: it should be treated simply as an exaggerated breach of contract. The third is the procedure popularly called “Crim. Con.,” and this is the most scandalous of all: the offence is against the rights of property, like robbery or burglary, and it ought to be treated criminally with fine, imprisonment and in cases with corporal punishment after the sensible procedure of Moslem law.
376 “Moon of the age,” a name which has before occurred.
377 The Malocchio or gettatura, so often noticed.
She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Merchant’s wife spake to him in such wise, he replied, “I did thus of my fear for them from the eyes of the folk and because I love them both and love is jealous exceedingly and well saith he who spoke these verses,
‘Of my sight I am jealous for thee, of me,
Of thyself, of thy
stead, of thy destiny:
Though I shrined thee in eyes by the craze of me
In such nearness irk I should never see:
Though thou wert by my side all the days of me
Till Doomsday I
ne’er had enough of thee.’”
Said his wife, “Put thy trust in Allah, for no harm betideth him whom He protecteth, and carry him with thee this very day to the shop.” Then she clad the boy in the costliest clothes and he became a seduction to all who on him cast sight and an affliction to the heart of each lover wight. His father took him and carried him to the market, whilst all who saw him were ravished with him and accosted him, kissing his hand and saluting him with the salam. Quoth one, “Indeed the sun hath risen in such a place and blazeth in the bazar,” and another, “The rising-place of the full moon is in such a quarter;” and a third, “The new moon of the Festival378 hath appeared to the creatures of Allah.” And they went on to allude to the boy in talk and call down blessings upon him. But his father scolded the folk for following his son to gaze upon him, because he was abashed at their talk, but he could not hinder one of them from talking; so he fell to abusing the boy’s mother and cursing her because she had been the cause of his bringing him out. And as he gazed about he still saw the folk crowding upon him behind and before. Then he walked on till he reached his shop and opening it, sat down and seated his son before him: after which he again looked out and found the thoroughfare blocked with people for all the passers-by, going and coming, stopped before the shop to stare at that beautiful face and could not leave him; and all the men and women crowded in knots about him, applying to themselves the words of him who said,
“Thou madest Beauty to spoil man’s sprite
And saidst, ‘O my
servants, fear My reprove:’
But lovely Thou lovest all loveliness
How, then, shall thy servants refrain from Love?”
When the merchant Abd al-Rahman saw the folk thus crowding about him and standing in rows, both women and men, to fix eyes upon his son, he was sore ashamed and confounded and knew not what to do; but presently there came up from the end of the bazar a man of the wandering Dervishes, clad in haircloth, the garb of the pious servants of Allah and seeing Kamar al-Zaman sitting there as he were a branch of Bán springing from a mound of saffron, poured forth copious tears and recited these two couplets,
“A wand uprising from a sandy knoll,
Like full moon shining
brightest sheen, I saw;
And said, ‘What is thy name?’ Replied he ‘Lúlú’
‘What’ (asked I) ‘Lily?’ and he answered ‘Lá, lá!’”379
Then the Dervish fell to walking, now drawing near and now moving away,380 and wiping his gray hairs with his right hand, whilst the heart of the crowd was cloven asunder for awe of him. When he looked upon the boy, his eyes were dazzled and his wit confounded, and exemplified in him was the saying of the poet,
“While that fair-faced boy abode in the place,
breakfast-fête he lit by his face,381
Lo! there came a Shaykh with leisurely pace
A reverend trusting
to Allah’s grace,
And ascetic signals his gait display’d.
He had studied Love both by day and night
And had special knowledge of Wrong and Right;
Both for lad and lass had repined his sprite,
And his form like
toothpick was lean and slight,
And old bones with faded skin were o’erlaid.
In such arts our Shaykh was an Ajamí382
With a catamite ever in company;
In the love of woman, a Platonist he383
But in either versed to the full degree,
And Zaynab to him was the same as Zayd.384
Distraught by the Fair he adored the Fair
wailed, bewept ruins bare.385
Dry branch thou hadst deemed him for stress o’ care,
morning breeze swayeth here and there,
For only the stone is all hardness made!
In the lore of Love he was wondrous wise
And wide awake with all-seeing eyes.
Its rough and its smooth he had tried and tries
And hugged buck
and doe in the self-same guise
And with greybeard and beardless alike he
Then he came up to the boy and gave him a root387 of sweet basil, whereupon his father put forth his hand to his pouch and brought out for him some small matter of silver, saying, “Take thy portion, O Dervish, and wend thy ways.” He took the dirhams, but sat down on the masonry-bench alongside the shop and opposite the boy and fell to gazing upon him and heaving sigh upon sigh, whilst his tears flowed like springs founting. The folk began to look at him and remark upon him, some saying, “All Dervishes are lewd fellows,” and other some, “Verily, this Dervish’s heart is set on fire for love of this lad.” Now when Abd al-Rahman saw this case, he arose and said to the boy, “Come, O my son, let us lock up the shop and hie us home, for it booteth not to sell and buy this day; and may Almighty Allah requite thy mother that which she hath done with us, for she was the cause of all this!” Then said he, “O Dervish, rise, that I may shut my shop.” So the Dervish rose and the merchant shut his shop and taking his son, walked away. The Dervish and the folk followed them, till they reached their place, when the boy went in and his father, turning to the Dervish, said to him, “What wouldst thou, O Dervish, and why do I see thee weep?” He replied, “O my lord, I would fain be thy guest this night, for the guest is the guest of Almighty Allah.” Quoth the merchant, “Welcome to the guest of God: enter, O Dervish!”—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
378 The crescent of the month Zu ‘l-Ka’dah when the Ramazan-fast is broken. This allusion is common. Comp. vol. i. 84.
379 This line contains one of the Yes, Yes and No, No trifles alluded to in vol. ii, 60. Captain Lockett (M. A. 103) renders it “I saw a fawn upon a hillock whose beauty eclipsed the full moon. I said, What is thy name? she answered Deer. What my Dear said I, but she replied, no, no!” To preserve the sound I have sacrificed sense: Lulu is a pearl, Li? li? (= for me, for me?) and La! La! = no! no! See vol. i, 217. I should have explained a line which has puzzled some readers,
“A sun (face) on wand (neck) in knoll of sand (hips) she
380 Arab. “Al-huwayna,” a rare term.
381 Bright in the eyes of the famishing who is allowed to break his fast.
382 Mr. Payne reads “Maghrabi” = a Mauritanian, Maroccan, the Moors (not the Moorish Jews or Arabs) being a race of Sodomites from highest to lowest. But the Mac. and Bul. Edit. have “Ajami.”
383 For “Ishk uzri” = platonic love see vol. i. 232; ii. 104.
384 Zaynab (Zenobia) and Zayd are generic names for women and men.
385 i.e. He wrote “Kasidahs” (= odes, elegies) after the fashion of the “Suspended Poems” which mostly open with the lover gazing upon the traces of the camp where his beloved had dwelt. The exaggerated conventionalism of such exordium shows that these early poems had been preceded by a host of earlier pieces which had been adopted as canons of poetry.
386 The verses are very mal-a-propos, like many occurring in The Nights, for the maligned Shaykh is proof against all the seductions of the pretty boy and falls in love with a woman after the fashion of Don Quixote. Mr. Payne complains of the obscurity of the original owing to abuse of the figure enallage; but I find them explicit enough, referring to some debauched elder after the type of Abu Nowas.
387 Arab. “‘Irk” = a root which must here mean a sprig, a twig. The basil grows to a comparatively large size in the East.
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