The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night
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Title: The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night -- Volume 03 part 2 [Supplement]

Author: Richard F. Burton

Release Date: April 29, 2020 [EBook #61974]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


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Thousand Nights and a Night

Shammar Edition

Limited to one thousand numbered sets, of which this is

Number ____


I have heard, O auspicious King, that the Caliph Harun al-Rashid was one night wakeful exceedingly and when he rose in the morning restlessness gat hold of him. Wherefore all about him were troubled for that “Folk aye follow Prince’s fashion;” they rejoice exceedingly with his joy and are sorrowful with his sorrows albeit they know not the cause why they are so affected. Presently the Commander of the Faithful sent for Masrúr the Eunuch, and when he came to him cried, “Fetch me my Wazir, Ja’afar the Barmaki, without stay or delay.” Accordingly, he went out and returned with the Minister who, finding him alone, which was indeed rare, and seeing as he drew near that he was in a melancholic humour, never even raising his eyes, stopped till his lord would vouchsafe to look upon him. At last the Prince of True Believers cast his glance upon Ja’afar, but forthright turned away his head and sat motionless as before. The Wazir descrying naught in the Caliph’s aspect that concerned him personally, strengthened his purpose and bespake him on this wise, “O Commander of the Faithful, wilt thine Highness deign suffer me to ask whence cometh this sadness?” and the Caliph answered, with a clearer brow, “Verily, O Wazir, these moods have of late become troublesome to me, nor are they to be moved save by hearing strange tales and verses; and, if thou come not hither on a pressing affair, thou wilt gladden me by relating somewhat to dispel my sadness.” Replied the Wazir, “O Commander of the Faithful, my office compelleth me to stand on thy service, and I would fain remind thee that this is the day appointed for informing thyself of the good governance of thy capital and its environs; and this matter shall, Inshallah, 308divert thy mind and dispel its gloom.” The Caliph answered, “Thou dost well to remind me, for that I had wholly forgotten it; so fare forth and change thy vestments while I do the same with mine.” Presently the twain donned habits of stranger merchants and issued out by a private postern of the palace-garden, which led them into the fields. After they had skirted the city, they reached the Euphrates’ bank at some distance from the gate opening on that side, without having observed aught of disorder; then they crossed the river in the first ferry-boat they found, and, making a second round on the further side, they passed over the bridge that joined the two halves of Baghdad-town. At the bridge-foot they met with a blind old man who asked alms of them; and the Caliph turned about and crossed his palm with a dinar, whereupon the beggar caught hold of his hand, and held him fast, saying, “O beneficent man, whoso thou ever may be, whom Allah hath inspired to bestow an alms upon me, refuse not the favour I crave of thee, which is, to strike me a buffet upon the ear, for that I deserve such punishment and a greater still.” After these words he quitted his hold of the Caliph’s hand that it might smite him, yet for fear lest the stranger pass on without so doing he grasped him fast by his long robe.——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Fifth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that the Caliph, surprised by the blind man’s words and deeds said, “I may not grant thy request nor will I minish the merit of my charity, by treating thee as thou wouldst have me entreat thee.” Saying these words, he strove to get away from the blind man, but he who after his long experience expected this refusal of his benefactor, did his utmost to keep hold of him, and cried, “O my lord, forgive my audacity and my persistency; and I implore thee either give 309me a cuff on the ear, or take back thine alms, for I may not receive it save on that condition, without falsing a solemn oath I have sworn before the face of Allah; and, if thou knew the reason, thou wouldst accord with me that the penalty is light indeed.” Then the Caliph not caring to be delayed any longer, yielded to the blind man’s importunity, and gave him a slight cuff: whereupon he loosed him forthright and thanked him and blessed him. When the Caliph and his Wazir had walked some way from the blind man, the former exclaimed, “This blind beggar must assuredly have some right good cause for behaving himself in such manner to all who give him alms, and I would fain know it. Do thou return to him and tell him who I am, and bid him fail not to appear at my palace about mid-afternoon prayer-time that I may converse with him, and hear whatso he hath to say.” Hereupon Ja’afar went back and bestowed alms on the blind man giving him another cuff on the ear and apprised him of the Caliph’s command, and returned forthright to his lord. Presently, when the twain reached the town, they found in a square a vast crowd of folk gazing at a handsome youth and a well-shaped, who was mounted on a mare which he rode at fullest speed round the open space, spurring and whipping the beast so cruelly that she was covered with sweat and blood. Seeing this the Caliph, amazed at the youth’s brutality, stopped to ask the bystanders an they knew why he tortured and tormented the mare on such wise; but he could learn naught save that for some while past, every day at the same time, he had entreated her after the same fashion. Hereat as they walked along, the Caliph bid his Wazir especially notice the place and order the young man to come without failing on the next day, at the hour appointed for the blind man. But ere the Caliph reached his palace, he saw in a street, which he had not passed through for many months, a newly-built mansion, which seemed to him the palace of some great lord of the land. He asked the Wazir an he knew its owner; and Ja’afar answered he did not 310but would make inquiry. So he consulted a neighbour who told him that the house-owner was one Khwájah Hasan surnamed Al-Habbál from his handicraft, rope-making; that he himself had seen the man at work in the days of his poverty, that he knew not how Fate and Fortune had befriended him, yet that the same Khwájah had gotten such exceeding wealth that he had been enabled to pay honourably and sumptuously all the expenses he had incurred when building his palace. Then the Wazir returned to the Caliph, and gave him a full account of whatso he had heard, whereat cried the Prince of True Believers, “I must see this Khwajah Hasan al-Habbal: do thou therefore, O Wazir, go and tell him to come to my palace, at the same hour thou hast appointed for the other twain.” The Minister did his lord’s bidding and the next day, after mid-afternoon prayers, the Caliph retired to his own apartment and Ja’afar introduced the three persons whereof we have been speaking and presented them to the Caliph. All prostrated themselves at his feet and when they rose up, the Commander of the Faithful asked his name of the blind man, who answered he was hight Baba Abdullah. “O Servant of Allah,” cried the Caliph, “thy manner of asking alms yesterday seemed so strange to me that, had it not been for certain considerations, I should not have granted thy petition; nay, I would have prevented thy giving further offence to the folk. And now I have bidden thee hither that I may know from thyself what impelled thee to swear that rash oath whereof thou toldest me, that I may better judge whether thou have done well or ill, and if I should suffer thee to persist in a practice which meseemeth must set so pernicious an example. Tell me openly how such mad thought entered into thy head, and conceal not aught, for I will know the truth and the full truth.”——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Sixth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that Baba Abdullah terrified by these words, cast himself a second time at the Caliph’s feet with his face prone to the ground, and when he rose again, said, “O Commander of the Faithful, I crave pardon of thy Highness for my audacity, in that I dared require, and well-nigh compelled thee to do a thing which verily seemeth contrary to sound sense. I acknowledge mine offence; but as I knew not thy Highness at that time, I implore thy clemency, and I pray thou wilt consider my ignorance of thine exalted degree. And now as to the extravagance of my action, I readily admit that it must be strange to the sons of Adam; but in the eye of Allah ’tis but a slight penance wherewith I have charged myself for an enormous crime of which I am guilty, and wherefor, an all the people in the world were each and every to give me a cuff on the ear ’twould not be sufficient atonement. Thy Highness shall judge of it thyself, when I, in telling my tale according to thy commandment, will inform thee of what was my offence.” And here he began to relate


O my lord the Caliph, I, the humblest of thy slaves, was born in Baghdad, where my father and mother, presently dying within a few days of each other, left me a fortune large enough to last me throughout my lifetime. But I knew not its value and soon I had squandered it in luxury and loose living and I cared naught for thrift or for increasing my store. But when little was left to 312me of my substance, I repented of my evil courses and toiled and laboured hard by day and night to increase my remaining stock of money. It is truly said, “After waste cometh knowledge of worth.” Thus little by little I got together fourscore camels, which I let on hire to merchants, and thus I made goodly gain each time I found occasion: moreover I was wont to engage myself together with my beasts and on this wise I journeyed over all the dominions and domains of thy Highness. Brief, I hoped ere long to reap an abundant crop of gold by the hiring out of my baggage animals.——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Seventh Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that Baba Abdullah continued his tale in these words:—Once I had carried merchants’ stuffs to Bassorah for shipping Indiawards and I was returning to Baghdad with my beasts unladen. Now as I fared homewards I chanced pass across a plain of excellent pasturage lying fallow and far from any village, and there unsaddled the camels which I hobbled and tethered together that they might crop the luxuriant herbs and thorns and yet not fare astray. Presently appeared a Darwaysh who was travelling afoot for Bassorah, and he took seat beside me to enjoy ease after unease; whereat I asked him whence he wayfared and whither he was wending. He also asked me the same question and when we had told each to other our own tales, we produced our provisions and brake our fast together, talking of various matters as we ate. Quoth the Darwaysh, “I know a spot hard by which enholdeth a hoard and its wealth is so wonder-great that shouldst thou load upon thy fourscore camels the heaviest burthens of golden coins and costly gems from that treasure there will appear no minishing thereof.” Hearing these words I rejoiced with exceeding joy and 313gathering from his mien and demeanour that he did not deceive me, I arose forthright and falling upon his neck, exclaimed, “O Hallow of Allah, who carest naught for this world’s goods and hast renounced all mundane lusts and luxuries, assuredly thou hast full knowledge of this treasure, for naught remaineth hidden from holy men as thou art. I pray thee tell me where it may be found that I may load my fourscore beasts with bales of Ashrafis and jewels: I wot full well that thou hast no greed for the wealth of this world, but take, I pray thee, one of these my fourscore camels as recompense and reward for the favour.” Thus spake I with my tongue but in my heart I sorely grieved to think that I must part with a single camel-load of coins and gems; withal I reflected that the other three-score and nineteen camel-loads would contain riches to my heart’s content. Accordingly, as I wavered in mind, at one moment consenting and at the next instant repenting, the Darwaysh noting my greed and covetise and avarice, replied, “Not so, O my brother: one camel doth not suffice me that I should shew thee all this hoard. On a single condition only will I tell thee of the place; to wit, that we twain lead the animals thither and lade them with the treasure, then shalt thou give me one half thereof and take the other half to thyself. With forty camels’ load of costly ores and minerals for sure thou canst buy thousands more of camels.” Then, seeing that refusal was impossible, I cried “So be it! I agree to thy proposal and I will do as thou desirest;” for in my heart I had conned the matter over and well I wist that forty camel-loads of gold and gems would suffice me and many generations of my descendants; and I feared lest an I gainsay him I should repent for ever and ever having let so great a treasure slip out of hand. Accordingly, giving full consent to all he said, I got together every one of my beasts and set me a-wayfaring along with the Fakír.[2] After travelling over some short distance we came 314upon a gorge between two craggy mountain-walls towering high in crescent form and the pass was exceeding narrow so that the animals were forced to pace in single file, but further on it flared out and we could thread it without difficulty into the broad Wady below. No human being was anywhere to be seen or heard in this wild land, so we were undisturbed and easy in our minds nor feared aught. Then quoth the Darwaysh, “Leave here the camels and come with me.”——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Eighth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that the blind man Baba Abdullah pursued his tale on this wise:—I did as the Darwaysh had bidden me; and, nakhing[3] all the camels, I followed in wake of him. After walking a short way from the halting-place he produced a flint and steel and struck fire therewith and lit some sticks he had gotten together; then, throwing a handful of strong-smelling incense upon the flames, he muttered words of incantation which I could by no means understand. At once a cloud of smoke arose, and spireing upwards veiled the mountains; and presently, the vapour clearing away, we saw a huge rock with pathway leading to its perpendicular face. Here the precipice showed an open door, wherethrough appeared in the bowels of the mountain a splendid palace, the workmanship of the Jinns, for no man had power to build aught like it. In due time, after sore toil, we entered therein and found an endless treasure, ranged in mounds with the utmost ordinance and regularity. Seeing a heap of Ashrafis I pounced upon it as a vulture swoopeth upon her quarry, 315the carrion, and fell to filling the sacks with golden coin to my heart’s content. The bags were big, but I was constrained to stuff them only in proportion to the strength of my beasts. The Darwaysh, too, busied himself in like manner, but he charged his sacks with gems and jewels only, counselling me the while to do as he did. So I cast aside the ducats and filled my bags with naught save the most precious of the stonery. When we had wrought our best, we set the well-stuffed sacks upon the camels’ backs and we made ready to depart; but, before we left the treasure-house wherein stood ranged thousands of golden vessels, exquisite in shape and workmanship, the Darwaysh went into a hidden chamber and brought from out a silvern casket a little golden box full of some unguent, which he showed to me, and then he placed it in his pocket. Presently, he again threw incense upon the fire and recited his incantations and conjurations, whereat the door closed and the rock became as before. We then divided the camels, he taking one half and I the other; and, passing through the strait and gloomy gorge in single file, we came out upon the open plain. Here our way parted, he wending in the direction of Bassorah and I Baghdad-wards; and when about to leave him I showered thanks upon the Darwaysh who had obtained me all this wealth and riches worth a thousand thousand of gold coins; and farewelled him with deep emotions of gratitude; after which we embraced and wended our several ways. But hardly had I bidden adieu to the Fakir and had gone some little distance from him with my file of camels than the Shaytan tempted me with greed of gain so that I said to myself, “The Darwaysh is alone in the world, without friends or kinsman, and is wholly estranged from matters mundane. What will these camel-loads of filthy lucre advantage him? Moreover, engrossed by the care of the camels, not to speak of the deceitfulness of riches, he may neglect his prayer and worship: therefore it behoveth me to take back from him some few of my beasts.” With this resolve I made the camels halt and tying up their forelegs ran 316back after the holy man and called out his name. He heard my loud shouts and awaited me forthright; and, as soon as I approached him I said, “When I had quitted thee a thought came into my mind; to wit, that thou art a recluse who keepest thyself aloof from earthly things, pure in heart and busied only with orison and devotion. Now care of all these camels will cause thee only toil and moil and trouble and waste of precious time: ’twere better then to give them back and not run the risk of these discomforts and dangers.” The Darwaysh replied, “O my son, thou speakest sooth. The tending of all these animals will bring me naught save ache of head, so do thou take of them as many as thou listest. I thought not of the burthen and pother till thou drewest my attention thereto; but now I am forewarned thereof; so may Almighty Allah keep thee in His holy keeping!” Accordingly, I took ten camels of him and was about to gang my gait when suddenly it struck me, “This Fakir was unconcerned at giving up ten camels, so ’twere better I ask more of him.” Thereupon I drew nearer to him and said, “Thou canst hardly manage thirty camels; do give me, I pray thee, other ten.” Said he, “O my son, do whatso thou wishest! Take thee other ten camels; twenty will suffice me.” I did his bidding and driving off the twenty added them to my forty. Then the spirit of concupiscence possessed me, and I bethought me more and more to get yet other ten camels from his share; so I retraced my steps for the third time and asked him for another ten, and of these, as also the remaining ten, I wheedled him. The Darwaysh gladly gave up the last of his camels, and, shaking out his skirts,[4] made ready to depart; but still my accursed greed stuck to me. Albeit I had got the fourscore beasts laden with Ashrafis and jewels, and I might have gone home happy and content, with wealth for fourscore generations, Satan tempted me still more, and urged me 317also to take the box of ointment, which I supposed to contain something more precious than rubies.——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Ninth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that Baba Abdullah continued his tale in these words:—So when I had again farewelled and embraced him I paused awhile and said, “What wilt thou do with the little box of salve thou hast taken to thy portion? I pray thee give me that also.” The Fakir would by no means part with it, whereupon I lusted the more to possess it, and resolved in my mind that, should the holy man give it up of his free will, then well and good, but if not I would force it from him. Seeing my intent he drew the box from out his breast-pocket[5] and handed it to me saying, “O my son, an thou wouldst have this box of ointment, then freely do I give it to thee; but first it behoveth thee to learn the virtue of the unguent it containeth.” Hearing these words I said, “Forasmuch as thou hast shown me all this favour, I beseech thee tell me of this ointment and what of properties it possesseth.” Quoth he, “The wonders of this ointment are passing strange and rare. An thou close thy left eye and rub upon the lid the smallest bit of the salve then all the treasures of the world now concealed from thy gaze will come to sight; but an thou rub aught thereof upon thy right eye thou shalt straightway become stone-blind of both.” Thereat I bethought me of putting this wondrous unguent to the test and placing in his hand the box I said, “I see thou understandest this matter right well; so now I pray thee apply somewhat of the ointment with thine own hand to my left eyelid.” 318The Darwaysh thereupon closed my left eye and with his finger rubbed a little of the unguent over the lid; and when I opened it and looked around I saw the hidden hoards of the earth in countless quantities even as the Fakir had told me I should see them. Then closing my right eyelid, I bade him apply some of the salve to that eye also. Said he, “O my son, I have forewarned thee that if I rub it upon thy right eyelid thou shalt become stone-blind of both. Put far from thee this foolish thought: why shouldst thou bring this evil to no purpose on thyself?” He spake sooth indeed, but by reason of my accursed ill-fate I would not heed his words and considered in my mind, “If applying the salve to the left eyelid hath produced such effect, assuredly far more wondrous still shall be the result when rubbed on the right eye. This fellow doth play me false and keepeth back from me the truth of the matter.” When I had thus determined in my mind I laughed and said to the holy man, “Thou art deceiving me to the intent that I should not advantage myself by the secret, for that rubbing the unguent upon the right eyelid hath some greater virtue than applying it to the left eye, and thou wouldst withhold the matter from me. It can never be that the same ointment hath qualities so contrary and virtues so diverse.” Replied the other, “Allah Almighty is my witness that the marvels of the ointment be none other save these whereof I bespake thee; O dear my friend, have faith in me, for naught hath been told thee save what is sober sooth.” Still would I not believe his words, thinking that he dissembled with me and kept secret from me the main virtue of the unguent. Wherefore filled with this foolish thought I pressed him sore and begged that he rub the ointment upon my right eyelid; but he still refused and said, “Thou seest how much of favour I have shown to thee: wherefore should I now do thee so dire an evil? Know for a surety that it would bring thee life-long grief and misery; and I beseech thee, by Allah the Almighty, abandon this thy purpose 319and believe my words.” But the more he refused so much the more did I persist; and in fine I made oath and sware by Allah, saying, “O Darwaysh, what things soever I have asked of thee thou gavest freely unto me and now remaineth only this request for me to make. Allah upon thee, gainsay me not and grant me this last of thy boons: and whatever shall betide me I will not hold thee responsible therefor. Let Destiny decide for good or for evil.” When the holy man saw that his denial was of no avail and that I irked him with exceeding persistence, he put the smallest bit of ointment on my right lid and, as I opened wide my eyes, lo and behold! both were stone-blind: naught could I see for the black darkness before them and ever since that day have I been sightless and helpless as thou foundest me. When I knew that I was blinded, I exclaimed, “O Darwaysh of ill-omen, what thou didst foretell hath come to pass;” and I fell to cursing him and saying, “O would to Heaven thou hadst never brought me to the hoard or hadst given me such wealth. What now avail me all this gold and jewels? Take back thy forty camels and make me whole again.” Replied he, “What evil have I done to thee? I showed thee favours more than any man hath ever dealt to another. Thou wouldst not heed my rede, but didst harden thy heart and lustest to obtain this wealth and to pry into the hidden treasures of the earth. Thou wouldst not be content with what thou hadst and thou didst misdoubt my words thinking that I would play thee false. Thy case is beyond all hope, for never more wilt thou regain thy sight; no, never.” Then said I with tears and lamentations, “O Fakir, take back thy fourscore camels laden with gold and precious stones and wend thy way: I absolve thee from all blame, natheless I beseech thee by Allah Almighty to restore my sight an thou art able.” He answered not a word, but leaving me in miserable plight presently took the load to Bassorah, driving before him the fourscore camels laden with wealth. I cried aloud and besought him to lead me with him 320away from the life-destroying wilderness, or to put me on the path of some caravan, but he regarded not my cries and abandoned me there.——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Tenth Night.

Then said she:——“I have heard, O auspicious king, that Baba Abdullah the blind man resumed his story, saying:—So when the Darwaysh departed from me, I had well-nigh died of grief and wrath at the loss of my sight and of my riches, and from the pangs of thirst[6] and hunger. Next day by good fortune a caravan from Bassorah passed that way; and, seeing me in such a grievous condition, the merchants had compassion on me and made me travel with them to Baghdad. Naught could I do save beg my bread in order to keep myself alive; so I became a mendicant and made this vow to Allah Almighty that, as a punishment for this my unlucky greed and cursed covetise, I would require a cuff upon my ear from everyone who might take pity on my case and give an alms. On this wise it was that yesterday I pursued thee with such pertinacity.” When the blind man made an end of his story the Caliph said, “O Baba Abdullah! thine offence was grievous; may Allah have mercy on thee therefor. It now remaineth to thee to tell thy case to devotees and anchorites that they may offer up their potent prayers in thy behalf. Take no thought for thy daily wants: I have determined that for thy living thou shalt have a dole of four dirhams a day from my royal treasury according to thy need as long as thou mayest live. But see that thou go no more to ask for alms about my city.” So Baba Abdullah returned thanks to the Prince of True Believers, saying, “I will do according 321to thy bidding.” Now when the Caliph Harun al-Rashid had heard the story of Baba Abdullah and the Darwaysh, he turned to and addressed the young man whom he had seen riding at fullest speed upon the mare and savagely lashing and ill-treating her. “What is thy name?” quoth he, and quoth the youth, bowing his brow groundwards, “My name, O Commander of the Faithful, is Sídí Nu’umán.”[7] Then said the Caliph, “Hearken now, O Sidi Nu’uman! Ofttimes have I watched the horsemen exercise their horses, and I myself have often done likewise, but never saw I any who rode so mercilessly as thou didst ride thy mare, for thou didst ply both whip and shovel-iron in cruellest fashion. The folk all stood to gaze with wonderment, but chiefly I, who was constrained against my wish to stop and ask the cause of the bystanders. None, however, could make clear the matter, and all men said that thou art wont each day to ride the mare in this most brutal fashion, whereat my mind marvelled all the more. I now would ask of thee the cause of this thy ruthless savagery, and see that thou tell me every whit and leave not aught unsaid.” Sidi Nu’uman, hearing the order of the Commander of the Faithful, became aware he was fully bent upon hearing the whole matter and would on no wise suffer him to depart until all was explained. So the colour of his countenance changed and he stood speechless like a statue through fear and trepidation; whereat said the Prince of True Believers, “O Sidi Nu’uman, fear naught but tell me all thy tale. Regard me in the light of one of thy friends and speak without reserve, and explain to me the matter fully as thou wouldst do hadst thou been speaking to thy familiars. Moreover, an thou art afraid of any matter which thou shalt confide to me and if thou dread my 322indignation, I grant thee immunity and a free pardon.” At these comforting words of the Caliph, Sidi Nu’uman took courage, and with clasped hands replied, “I trust I have not in this matter done aught contrary to thy Highness’s law and custom, and therefore will I willingly obey thy bidding and relate to thee all my tale. If I have offended in anything then am I worthy of thy punishment. ’Tis true that I have daily exercised the mare and ridden her at speed around the hippodrome as thou sawest me do; and I lashed and gored her with all my might. Thou hadst compassion on the mare and didst deem me cruel-hearted to entreat her thus, but when thou shalt have heard all my adventure thou wilt admit, Inshallah—God willing—that this be only a trifling penalty for her offence, and that not she but I deserve thy pity and pardon! With thy permission I will now begin my story.”——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Eleventh Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that the Caliph Harun al-Rashid accorded the youth permission to speak and that the rider of the mare began in these words the



O lord of beneficence and benevolence, my parents were possessed of wealth and riches sufficient to provide their son when they died with ample means for a life-long livelihood so that he might pass his days like a Grandee of the land in ease and joyance and delight. I—their only child—had nor care nor trouble about any matter until one day of the days, when in the prime of manhood, I was a-minded to take unto me a wife, a woman winsome and comely to look upon, that we might live together in mutual love and double blessedness. But Allah Almighty willed not that a model helpmate become mine; nay, Destiny wedded me to grief and the direst misery. I married a maid who in outward form and features was a model of beauty and loveliness without, however, one single gracious gift of mind or soul; and on the very second day after the wedding her evil nature began to manifest itself. Thou art well aware, O Prince of True Believers, that by Moslem custom none may look upon the face of his betrothed before the marriage-contract, nor after wedlock can he complain should his bride prove a shrew or a fright: he must needs dwell with her in such content as he may and be thankful for his fate, be it fair or unfair. When I saw first the face of my bride and learnt that it was passing comely, I joyed with exceeding joy and gave thanks to Almighty Allah that He had bestowed on me so charming a mate. That night I slept with her in joy and love-delight; but next day when the noon-meal was spread for me and her I found her not at table and sent to summon her; and after some delay, she came and sat her down. I dissembled my annoyance and 326forbore for this late-coming to find fault with her; which I soon had ample reason to do. It so happened that amongst the many dishes which were served up to us was a fine pilaff,[8] of which I, according to the custom in our city, began to eat with a spoon; but she, in lieu of it pulled out an ear-pick from her pocket and therewith, fell to picking up the rice and ate it grain by grain. Seeing this strange conduct I was sore amazed and fuming inwardly said in sweet tones, “O my Aminah,[9] what be this way of eating? hast thou learnt it of thy people or art thou counting grains of rice purposing to make a hearty meal hereafter? Thou hast eaten but ten or twenty during all this time. Or haply thou art practising thrift? if so I would have thee know that Allah Almighty hath given me abundant store and fear not on that account; but do thou, O my dearling, as all do and eat as thou seest thy husband eat.” I fondly thought that she would assuredly vouchsafe some words of thanks, but never a syllable spake she and ceased not picking up grain after grain: nay more, in order to provoke me to greater displeasure, she paused for a long time between each. Now when the next course of cakes came on she idly brake some bread and tossed a crumb or two into her mouth; in fact she ate less than would satisfy the stomach of a sparrow. I marvelled much to see her so obstinate and selfwilled but I said to myself, in mine innocence, “May be she hath not been accustomed to eat with men, and especially she may be too shame-faced to eat heartily in presence of her husband: she will in time do whatso do other folk.” I thought also that perchance she hath already broken her fast and lost appetite, or haply it hath 327been her habit to eat alone. So I said nothing and after dinner went out to smell the air and play the Jaríd[10] and thought no more of the matter. When, however, we two sat again at meat my bride ate after the same fashion as before; nay, she would ever persist in her perversity; whereat I was sore troubled in mind, and marvelled how without food she kept herself alive. One night it chanced that deeming me fast asleep she rose up in stealth from my side, I being wide awake: when I saw her step cautiously from the bed as one fearing lest she might disturb me. I wondered with exceeding wonder why she should arise from sleep to leave me thus and methought I would look into the matter. Wherefore I still feigned sleep and snored but watched her as I lay, and presently saw her dress herself and leave the room; I then sprang off the bed and throwing on my robe and slinging my sword across my shoulder looked out of the window to spy whither she went. Presently she crossed the courtyard and opening the street-door fared forth; and I also ran out through the entrance which she had left unlocked; then followed her by the light of the moon until she entered a cemetery hard by our home.——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Twelfth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard O auspicious King, that Sidi Nu’uman continued his story saying:—But when I beheld Aminah my bride enter the cemetery, I stood without and close to the wall over which I peered so that I could espy her well but she could not discover me. Then what did I behold but Aminah sitting with a Ghúl![11] Thy Highness wotteth well that Ghuls be 328of the race of devils; to wit, they are unclean spirits which inhabit ruins and which terrify solitary wayfarers and at times seizing them feed upon their flesh; and if by day they find not any traveller to eat they go by night to the graveyards and dig out and devour dead bodies. So I was sore amazed and terrified to see my wife thus seated with a Ghul. Then the twain dug up from the grave a corpse which had been newly buried, and the Ghul and my wife Aminah tore off pieces of the flesh which she ate making merry the while and chatting with her companion; but inasmuch as I stood at some distance I could not hear what it was they said. At this sight I trembled with exceeding fear. And when they had made an end of eating they cast the bones into the pit and thereover heaped up the earth e’en as it was before. Leaving them thus engaged in their foul and fulsome work, I hastened home; and, allowing the street-door to remain half-open as my bride had done, I reached my room, and throwing myself upon our bed feigned sleep. Presently Aminah came and doffing her dress calmly lay beside me, and I knew by her manner that she had not seen me at all, nor guessed that I had followed her to the cemetery. This gave me great relief of mind, withal I loathed to bed beside a cannibal and a corpse-eater; howbeit I lay still despite extreme misliking till the Muezzin’s call for dawn-prayers, when getting up I busied myself with the Wuzú-ablution and set forth mosque-wards. Then having said my prayers and fulfilled my ceremonial duties,[12] I strolled about the gardens, and during this walk having turned over the matter in my mind, determined that it behoved me to remove my bride from such ill companionship, and wean her from the habit of devouring dead bodies. With these thoughts I came back home at dinner-time, when Aminah 329on seeing me return bade the servants serve up the noontide-meal and we twain sat at table; but as before she fell to picking up the rice grain by grain. Thereat said I to her, “O my wife, it irketh me much to see thee picking up each grain of rice like a hen. If this dish suit not thy taste see there are, by Allah’s grace and the Almighty’s favour, all kinds of meats before us. Do thou eat of that which pleaseth thee most; each day the table is bespread with dishes of different kinds and if these please thee not, thou hast only to order whatsoever food thy soul desireth. Yet I would ask of thee one question: Is there no meat upon the table as rich and toothsome as man’s flesh, that thou refusest every dish they set before thee?” Ere I had finished speaking my wife became assured that I was aware of her night adventure: she suddenly waxed wroth with exceeding wrath, her face flushed red as fire, her eyeballs started out from their sockets and she foamed at the mouth with ungovernable fury. Seeing her in this mood I was terrified and my sense and reason fled by reason of my affright; but presently in the madness of her passion she took up a tasse of water which stood beside her and dipping her fingers in the contents muttered some words which I could not understand; then sprinkling some drops over me, cried, “Accursed that thou art! for this thine insolence and betrayal do thou be straightway turned into a dog.” At once I became transmewed and she, picking up a staff began to ribroast me right mercilessly and well-nigh killed me. I ran about from room to room but she pursued me with the stick, and tunded and belaboured me with might and main, till she was clean exhausted. She then threw the street-door half open and, as I made for it to save my life, attempted violently to close it, so as to squeeze my soul out of my body; but I saw her design and baffled it, leaving behind me, however, the tip of my tail; and piteously yelping hereat I escaped further basting and thought myself lucky to get away from her without broken bones. When I stood in the street still whining and ailing, the dogs of the quarter seeing a 330stranger, at once came rushing at me barking and biting;[13] and I with tail between my legs tore along the market-place and ran into the shop of one who sold sheeps’ and goats’ heads and trotters; and there crouching low hid me in a dark corner.——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Sixth Hundred and Thirteenth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that Sidi Nu’uman continued his story as follows:—The shopkeeper, despite his scruples of conscience which caused him to hold all dogs impure,[14] had ruth upon my sorry plight and drove away the yelling and grinning curs that would have followed me into his shop; and I, escaping this danger of doom, passed all the night hid in my corner. Early next morning the butcher sallied forth to buy his usual wares, sheeps’ heads and hooves; and, coming back with a large supply, he began to lay them out for sale within the shop when I, seeing that a whole pack of dogs had gathered about the place attracted by the smell of flesh, also joined them. The owner noticed me among the ragged tykes and said to himself, “This dog hath tasted naught since yesterday when it ran yelping hungrily and hid within my shop.” He then threw me a fair sized piece of meat, but I refused it and went up to him and wagged my tail to the end that he might know my wish to stay with him and be protected by his stall: he, however, thought that I had eaten my sufficiency, and, picking up a staff frightened me and chased me away. So when I saw how the butcher heeded not my case, I 331trotted off and wandering to and fro presently came to a bakery and stood before the door wherethrough I espied the baker at breakfast. Albeit I made no sign as though I wanted aught of food, he threw me a bittock of bread; and I, in lieu of snapping it up and greedily swallowing it, as is the fashion with all dogs, the gentle and simple of them, approached him with it and gazed in his face and wagged my tail by way of thanks. He was pleased by this my well-bred behaviour and smiled at me; whereat I, albeit not one whit anhungered, but merely to humour him, fell to eating the bread, little by little slowly and leisurely, to testify my respect. He was yet more satisfied with my manners and wished to keep me in his shop; and I, noting his intent, sat by the door and looked wistfully at him, whereby he knew that I desired naught of him save his protection. He then caressed me and took charge of me and kept me to guard his store, but I would not enter his house till after he had led the way; he also showed me where to lie o’nights and fed me well at every meal and entreated me right hospitably. I likewise would watch his every movement and always lay down or rose up even as he bade me; and whenas he left his lodging or walked anywhither he took me with him. If ever when I lay asleep he went outside and found me not, he would stand still in the street and call to me crying, “Bakht! Bakht!”[15] an auspicious name he had given to me; and straightway on hearing him I would rush about and frisk before the door; and when he set out to taste the air I paced beside him now running on ahead, now following at his heels and ever and anon looking up in his face. Thus some time passed during which I lived with him in all comfort; till one day of the days it so chanced that a woman came to the bakery to buy her bread and gave the owner several dirhams to its price, whereof one was bad coin whilst the others 332were good. My master tested all the silvers and, finding out the false bit, returned it demanding a true dirham in exchange; but the woman wrangled and would not take it back and swore that it was sound. Quoth the baker, “The dirham is beyond all doubt a worthless: see yonder dog of mine, he is but a beast, yet mark me he will tell thee whether it be true or false silver.” So he called me by my name, “Bakht! Bakht!” whereat I sprang up and ran towards him and he, throwing all the moneys upon the ground before me, cried, “Here look these dirhams over and if there be a false coin among them separate it from all the others.” I inspected the silvers each by each and found the counterfeit: then, putting it on one side and all the others on another, I placed my paw upon the false silver and wagging what remained of my tail looked up at my master’s face. The baker was delighted with my sagacity, and the woman also, marvelling with excessive marvel at what had happened, took back her bad dirham and paid another in exchange. But when the buyer fared forth, my master called together his neighbours and gossips and related to them this matter; so they threw down on the ground before me coins both good and bad, in order that they might test me and see with their own eyes an I were as clever as my master had said I was. Many times in succession I picked out the false coin from amongst the true and placed my paw upon them without once failing; so all went away astounded and related the case to each and every one they saw and thus the bruit of me spread abroad throughout the city. That livelong day I spent in testing dirhams fair and foul.——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Sixth Hundred and Fourteenth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that Sidi Nu’uman continued his story saying:—From that day forwards the baker honoured me yet more highly, and all his friends and 333familiars laughed and said, “Forsooth thou hast in this dog a mighty good Shroff.”[16] And some envied my master his luck in having me within the shop, and tried ofttimes to entice me away, but the baker kept me with him nor would he ever allow me to leave his side; for the fame of me brought him a host of customers from every quarter of the town, even the farthest. Not many days after there came another woman to buy loaves at our shop and paid the baker six dirhams whereof one was worthless. My master passed them over to me for test and trial, and straightway I picked out the false one, and placing paw thereon looked up in the woman’s face. Hereat she waxed confused and confessed that it was miscoined and praised me for that I had found it out; then, going forth the same woman made signs to me that I should follow her unbeknown to the baker. Now I had not ceased praying Allah that somehow He would restore me to my human form and hoped that some good follower of the Almighty would take note of this my sorry condition and vouchsafe me succour. So as the woman turned several times and looked at me, I was persuaded in my mind that she had knowledge of my case; I therefore kept my eyes upon her; which seeing she came back ere she had stepped many paces, and beckoned me to accompany her. I understood her signal and sneaking out of the presence of the baker, who was busy heating his oven, followed in her wake. Pleased beyond all measure to see me obey her, she went straightway home with me, and entering she locked the door and led me into a room where sat a fair maid in embroidered dress whom I judged by her favour to be the good woman’s daughter. The damsel was well skilled in arts magical; so the mother said to her, “O my daughter, here is a dog which telleth bad dirhams from good dirhams. When first I heard the marvel I bethought me that the beastie must be a man whom some base wretch and 334cruel-hearted had turned into a dog. Methought that to-day I would see this animal and test it when buying loaves at the booth of yonder baker and behold, it hath acquitted itself after the fairest of fashions and hath stood the test and trial. Look well, O my daughter, at this dog and see whether it be indeed an animal or a man transformed into a beast by gramarye.” The young lady, who had veiled her face,[17] hereupon considered me attentively and presently cried, “O my mother, ’tis even as thou sayest, and this I will prove to thee forthright.” Then rising from her seat she took a basin of water and dipping hand therein sprinkled some drops upon me saying, “An thou wert born a dog then do thou abide a dog, but an thou wert born a man then, by virtue of this water, resume thy human favour and figure.” Immediately I was transformed from the shape of a dog to human semblance and I fell at the maiden’s feet and kissed the ground before her giving her thanks; then, bussing the hem of her garment, I cried, “O my lady, thou hast been exceeding gracious unto one unbeknown to thee and a stranger. How can I find words wherewith to thank and bless thee as thou deservest? Tell me now, I pray thee, how and whereby I may shew my gratitude to thee? From this day forth I am beholden to thy kindness and am become thy slave.” Then I related all my case and told her of Aminah’s wickedness and what of wrongs she had wrought me; and I made due acknowledgment to her mother for that she had brought me to her home. Herewith quoth the damsel to me, “O Sidi Nu’uman, I pray thee bestow not such exceeding thanks upon me, for rather am I glad and grateful in conferring this service upon one so well-deserving as thou art. I have been familiar with thy wife Aminah for a long time before thou didst marry her; I also knew that she had 335skill in witchcraft and she likewise knoweth of my art, for we twain learnt together of one and the same mistress in the science. We met ofttimes at the Hammam as friends but, inasmuch as she was ill-mannered and ill-tempered, I declined further intimacy with her. Think not that it sufficeth me to have made thee recover thy form as it was aforetime; nay, verily needs must I take due vengeance of her for the wrong she hath done thee. And this will I do at thy hand, so shalt thou have mastery over her and find thyself lord of thine own house and home.[18] Tarry here awhile until I come again.” So saying the damsel passed into another room and I remained sitting and talking with her mother and praised her excellence and kindness towards me. The ancient dame also related strange and rare deeds of wonder done by her with pure purpose and lawful means, till the girl returned with an ewer in hand and said, “O Sidi Nu’uman, my magical art doth tell me that Aminah is at this present away from home but she will return thither presently. Meanwhile she dissembleth with the domestics and feigneth grief at severance from thee; and she hath pretended that, as thou sattest at meat with her, thou didst suddenly arise and fare forth on some weighty matter, when presently a dog rushed through the open door into the room and she drove it away with a staff.” Then giving me a gugglet full of the water the maiden resumed, “O Sidi Nu’uman, go now to thine own house and, keeping this gugglet by thee, await patiently Aminah’s coming. Anon she will return and seeing thee will be sore perplexed and will hasten to escape from thee; but before she go forth sprinkle some drops from this gugglet upon her and recite these spells which I shall teach thee. I need not tell thee more; thou wilt espy with thine own eyes what shall happen.” Having said these words the young lady taught me magical phrases which I 336fixed in my memory full firmly, and after this I took my leave and farewelled them both. When I reached home it happened even as the young magician had told me; and I had tarried but a short time in the house when Aminah came in. I held the gugglet in hand and she seeing me trembled with sore trembling and would fain have run away; but I hastily sprinkled some drops upon her and repeated the magical words, whereat she was turned into a mare—the animal thy Highness deigned remark but yesterday. I marvelled greatly to sight this transformation and seizing the mare’s mane led her to the stable and secured her with a halter.——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Fifteenth Night.

Then said she:——“I have heard, O auspicious King, that Sidi Nu’uman continued his story saying:—When I had secured the mare, I loaded her with reproaches for her wickedness and her base behaviour, and lashed her with a whip till my forearm was tired.[19] Then I resolved within myself that I would ride her at full speed round the square each day and thus inflict upon her the justest penalty.” Herewith Sidi Nu’uman held his peace, having made an end of telling his tale; but presently he resumed, “O Commander of the Faithful, I trow thou art not displeased at this my conduct, nay rather thou wouldst punish such a woman with a punishment still greater than this.” He then kissed the hem of the Caliph’s robe and kept silence; and Harun al-Rashid, perceiving that he had said all his say, exclaimed, “In very sooth thy story is exceeding strange and rare. The wrongdoing of thy wife hath no excuse and thy requital is methinks in due measure and just degree, but I would ask thee one thing—How 337long wilt thou chastise her thus, and how long will she remain in bestial guise? ’Twere better now for thee to seek the young lady by whose magical skill thy wife was transformed and beg that she bring her back to human shape. And yet I fear me greatly lest perchance whenas this sorceress, this Ghulah, shall find herself restored to woman’s form and resumeth her conjurations and incantations she may—who knoweth?—requite thee with far greater wrong than she hath done thee heretofore, and from this thou wilt not be able to escape.” After this the Prince of True Believers forbore to urge the matter, albeit he was mild and merciful by nature,[20] and addressing the third man whom the Wazir had brought before him said, “As I was walking in such a quarter I was astonished to see thy mansion, so great and so grand is it; and when I made enquiry of the townsfolk they answered each and every, that the palace belongeth to one (thyself) whom they called Khwájah Hasan. They added that thou wast erewhile exceeding poor and in straitened case, but that Allah Almighty had widened thy means and had now sent thee wealth in such store that thou hast builded the finest of buildings; moreover, that albeit thou hast so princely a domicile and such abundance of riches, thou art not unmindful of thy former estate, and thou dost not waste thy substance in riotous living but thou addest thereto by lawful trade. The neighbourhood all speaketh well of thee and not a wight of them hath aught to say against thee; so I now would know of thee the certainty of these things, and hear from thine own lips how thou didst gain this abundant wealth. I have summoned thee before me that I might be assured of all such matters by actual hearsay: so fear not to tell me all thy tale; I desire naught of thee save knowledge of this thy case. Enjoy thou to thy heart’s content the opulence that Almighty Allah 338deigned bestow upon thee, and let thy soul have pleasure therein.” Thus spake the Caliph and the gracious words reassured the man. Then Khwajah Hasan threw himself before the Commander of the Faithful and, kissing the carpet at the foot of the throne, exclaimed, “O Prince of True Believers I will relate to thee a faithful relation of my adventure, and Almighty Allah be my witness that I have not done aught contrary to thy laws and just commandments, and that all this my wealth is by the favour and goodness of Allah alone.” Harun al-Rashid hereupon again bade him speak out boldly and forthwith he began to recount in the following words the



O lord of beneficence! obedient to thy royal behest, I will now inform thy Highness of the means and the measures whereby Destiny dowered me with such wealth; but first I would thou hear somewhat of two amongst my friends who abode in the House of Peace, Baghdad. They twain are yet alive and both well know the history which thy slave shall now relate. One of them, men call Sa’d, the other Sa’dí.[22] Now Sa’di opined that without riches no one in this world could be happy and independent; moreover that without hard toil and trouble and wariness and wisdom withal it were impossible to become wealthy. But Sa’d differing therefrom would affirm that affluence cometh not to any save by decree of Destiny and fiat of Fate and Fortune. Sa’d was a poor man while Sa’di had great store of good; yet there sprang up a firm friendship between them and fond affection each for other; nor were they ever wont to differ upon any matter save only upon this; to wit, that Sa’di relied solely upon deliberation and forethought and Sa’d upon doom and man’s lot. It chanced one day that, as they sat talking together on this matter, quoth Sa’di, “A poor man is he who either is born a pauper and passeth all his days in want and penury, or he who having been born to wealth and comfort, doth in the time of manhood 342squander all he hath and falleth into grievous need; then lacketh he the power to regain his riches and to live at ease by wit and industry.” Sa’d made answer, saying, “Nor wit nor industry availeth aught to any one, but Fate alone enableth him to acquire and to preserve riches. Misery and want are but accidents and deliberation is naught. Full many a poor man hath waxed affluent by favour of Fate and richards manifold have, despite their skill and store, been reduced to misery and beggary.” Quoth Sa’di, “Thou speakest foolishly. Howbeit put we the matter to fair test and find out for ourselves some handicraftsman scanty of means and living upon his daily wage; him let us provide with money, then will he without a doubt increase his stock and abide in ease and comfort, and so shalt thou be persuaded that my words be true.” Now as they twain were walking on, they passed through the lane wherein stood my lodging and saw me a-twisting ropes, which craft my father and grandfather and many generations before me had followed. By the condition of my home and dress they judged that I was a needy man; whereupon Sa’d pointing me out to Sa’di said, “An thou wouldst make trial of this our matter of dispute, see yonder wight. He hath dwelt here for many years and by this trade of rope-making doth gain a bare subsistence for himself and his. I know his case right well of old; he is a worthy subject for the trial; so do thou give him some gold pieces and test the matter.” “Right willingly,” replied Sa’di, “but first let us take full cognizance of him.” So the two friends came up to me, whereat I left my work and saluted them. They returned my salam after which quoth Sa’di, “Prithee what be thy name?” Quoth I, “My name is Hasan, but by reason of my trade of rope-making all men call me Hasan al-Habbál.”——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Sixteenth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that Hasan al-Habbal (the Ropemaker) continued his story, saying:—Thereupon Sa’di asked me, “How farest thou by this industry? Methinks thou art blithe and quite content therewith. Thou hast worked long and well and doubtless thou hast laid by large store of hemp and other stock. Thy forbears carried on this craft for many years and must have left thee much of capital and property which thou hast turned to good account and on this wise thou hast largely increased thy wealth.” Quoth I, “O my lord, no money have I in pouch whereby I may live happy or even buy me enough to eat. This is my case that every day, from dawn till eve, I spend in making ropes, nor have I one single moment wherein to take rest; and still I am sore straitened to provide even dry bread for myself and family. A wife have I and five small children, who are yet too young to help me ply this business: and ’tis no easy matter to supply their daily wants; how then canst thou suppose that I am enabled to put by large store of hemp and stock? What ropes I twist each day I sell straightway, and of the money earned thereby I spend part upon our needs and with the rest I buy hemp wherewith I twist ropes on the next day. However, praise be to Almighty Allah that, despite this my state of penury, He provideth us with bread sufficing our necessity.” When I had made known all my condition Sa’di replied, “O Hasan, now I am certified of thy case and indeed ’tis other than I had supposed; and, given that I give thee a purse of two hundred Ashrafis, assuredly thou shalt therewith greatly add to thy gains and be enabled to live in ease and affluence: what sayest thou thereto?” Said I, “An thou favour me with such bounty I should hope to grow richer than all and every of my fellow-craftsmen, albeit Baghdad-town is prosperous as it is populous.” Then Sa’di, deeming me true and 344trustworthy, pulled out of his pocket a purse of two hundred gold pieces and handing them to me said, “Take these coins and trade therewith. May Allah advance thee, but see to it that thou use this money with all heed, and waste it not in folly and ungraciousness. I and my friend Sa’d will rejoice with all joy to hear of thy well-being; and, if hereafter we come again and find thee in flourishing condition, ’twill be matter of much satisfaction to us both.” Accordingly, O Commander of the Faithful, I took the purse of gold with much gladness and a grateful heart and, placing it in my pocket, thanked Sa’di kissing his garment-hem, whereupon the two friends fared forth. And I, O Prince of True Believers, seeing the twain depart, went on working, but was sore puzzled and perplexed as to where I might bestow the purse; for my house contained neither cupboard nor locker. Howbeit I took it home and kept the matter hidden from my wife and children and when alone and unobserved I drew out ten gold coins by way of spending-money; then, binding the purse-mouth with a bit of string I tied it tightly in the folds of my turband and wound the cloth around my head. Presently, I went off to the market-street and bought me a stock of hemp and coming homewards I laid in some meat for supper, it being now a long while since we had tasted flesh. But as I trudged along the road, meat in hand, a kite[23] came suddenly swooping down, and would have snatched the morsel from out my hand had I not driven off the bird with the other hand. Then it had fain pounced upon the flesh on the left side but again I scared it away and thus, whilst exerting myself with frantic efforts to ward off the bird, by ill luck my turband fell to the ground. At once that accursed kite swooped down and flew off with it in its talons; and I ran pursuing it and shouted aloud. Hearing my cries the Bazar-folk, men and women and a rout of 345children, did what they could to scare it away and make the beastly bird drop its prey, but they shouted and cast stones in vain: the kite would not let drop the turband and presently flew clean out of sight. I was sore distressed and heavy-hearted to lose the Ashrafis as I hied me home bearing the hemp and what of food I had bought, but chiefly was I vexed and grieved in mind, and ready to die of shame at the thought of what Sa’di would say; especially when I reflected how he would misdoubt my words, nor deem the tale true when I should tell him that a kite had carried off my turband with the gold pieces, but rather would he think that I had practised some deceit and had devised some amusing fable by way of excuse. Howbeit I hugely enjoyed what had remained of the ten Ashrafis and with my wife and children fared sumptuously for some days. Presently, when all the gold was spent and naught remained thereof, I became as poor and needy as before; withal I was content and thankful to Almighty Allah nor blamed my lot. He had sent in his mercy this purse of gold to me unawares and now He had taken it away, wherefore I was grateful and satisfied, for what He doeth is ever well done.——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Seventeenth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that Master Hasan the Ropemaker continued his story in these words:—My wife, who knew not of the matter of the Ashrafis, presently perceived that I was ill at ease and I was compelled for a quiet life to let her know my secret; moreover the neighbours came round to ask me of my case: but I was right loath to tell them all that had betided; they could not bring back what was gone and they would assuredly rejoice at my calamity. However, when they pressed me close I told them every whit; and some thought that I had spoken falsely and derided me and others that I was 346daft and hare-brained and my words were the wild pratings of an idiot or the drivel of dreams. The youngsters made abundant fun of me and laughed to think that I, who never in my born days had sighted a golden coin, should tell how I had gotten so many Ashrafis, and how a kite had flown away with them. My wife, however, gave full credence to my tale and wept and beat her breast for sorrow. Thus six months passed over us, when it chanced one day that the two friends, to wit, Sa’di and Sa’d, came to my quarter of the town, when quoth Sa’d to Sa’di, “Lo, yonder is the street where dwelleth Hasan al-Habbal. Come let us go and see how he hath added to his stock and how far he hath prospered by means of the two hundred Ashrafis thou gavest him.” Sa’di rejoined, “’Tis well said; indeed, we have not seen him for many days: I would fain visit him and I should rejoice to hear that he hath prospered.” So the twain walked along towards my house, Sa’d saying to Sa’di, “Forsooth I perceive that he appeareth the same in semblance, poor and ill-conditioned as before; he weareth old and tattered garments, save that his turband seemeth somewhat newer and cleaner. Look well and judge thyself and ’tis even as I said.” Thereupon Sa’di came up closer to me and he also understood that my condition was unaltered; and presently the two friends addressed me. After the usual salutation Sa’d asked, “O Hasan, how fareth it with thee, and how goeth it with thy business and have the two hundred Ashrafis stood thee in good stead and amended thy trade?” To this answered I, “O my lords, how can I tell you of the sad mishap that hath befallen me? I dare not speak for very shame, yet cannot I keep the adventure concealed. Verily a marvellous matter and a wondrous hath happened to me, the tale whereof will fill you with wonderment and suspicion, for I wot full well that ye will not believe it, and that I shall be to you as one that dealeth in lies; withal needs must I tell you the whole however unwillingly.” Hereat I recounted to them every whit 347that had betided me first and last, especially that which had befallen me from the kite; but Sa’di misdoubted me and mistrusted me and cried, “O Hasan, thou speakest but in jest and dost dissemble with us. ’Tis hard to believe the tale thou tellest. Kites are not wont to fly off with turbands, but only with such things as they can eat. Thou wouldst but outwit us and thou art of those who, when some good fortune cometh to them unforeseen, do straightways abandon their work or their business and, wasting all in pleasuring, become once more poor and thereafter must nilly-willy eke out a living as best they may. This methinks be especially the case with thee; thou hast squandered our gift with all speed and now art needy as before.” “O good my lord, not so,” cried I; “this blame and these hard words ill befit my deserts, for I am wholly innocent of all thou imputest to me. The strange mishap whereof I told thee is the truest of truths; and to prove that it is no lie all the townsfolk have knowledge thereof and in good sooth I do not play thee false. ’Tis certain that kites do not fly away with turbands; but such mishaps, wondrous and marvellous, may betide mankind especially the miserable of lot.” Sa’d also espoused my cause and said, “O Sa’di, ofttimes have we seen and heard how kites carry off many things besides comestibles; and his tale may not be wholly contrary to reason.” Then Sa’di pulled out from his pocket a purseful of gold pieces and counted out and gave me another two hundred, saying, “O Hasan, take these Ashrafis, but see that thou keep them with all heed and diligence and beware, and again I say beware, lest thou lose them like the others. Expend them in such fashion that thou mayst reap full benefit therefrom and prosper even as thou seest thy neighbours prosper.” I took the money from him and poured out thanks and blessings upon his head, and when they went their ways I returned to my rope-walk and thence in due time straight home. My wife and children were abroad, so again I took ten gold coins of the two hundred and securely tied up 348the remainder in a piece of cloth; then I looked around to find a spot wherein to hide my hoard so that my wife and youngsters might not come to know of it and lay hands thereon. Presently, I espied a large earthen jar full of bran standing in a corner of the room, so herein I hid the rag with the gold coins and I misdeemed that it was safely concealed from wife and wees.——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Eighteenth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that Hasan al-Habbal thus continued his story:—When I had put the Ashrafis a-bottom the jar of bran, my wife came in and I said naught to her of the two friends or of aught had happened, but I set out for the Bazar to buy hemp. Now as soon as I had left the house there came, by evil fate impelled, a man who sold Tafl, or fuller’s earth,[24] wherewith the poorer sort of women are wont to wash their hair. My wife would fain have bought some but not a single Kauri[25] or almond had she. Then she took thought and said to herself, “This jar of bran is here to no purpose, I will exchange it for the clay,” and he also, the Tafl-seller, agreed to this proposal and went off taking the jar of bran as the price of the washing-earth. Anon I came back with a load of hemp upon my head and other five on the heads of as many porters who accompanied me; and I helped them off with their burthens and, after storing the stuff in a room, I paid and dismissed them. Then I stretched me out upon the floor to take rest awhile and looking towards the 349corner where once stood the jar of bran I found it gone. Words fail me, O Prince of True Believers, to describe the tumult of feelings which filled my heart at the sight. I sprang up with all speed and calling to my wife enquired of her whither the jar had been carried; and she replied that she had exchanged its contents for a trifle of washing clay. Then cried I aloud, “O wretched, O miserable, what hast thou done? thou hast ruined me and thy children; thou hast given away great wealth to that clay-selling fellow!” Then I told her all that had betided me, of the coming of the two friends and how I had hidden the hundred and ninety Ashrafis within the bran-jar; and she, on hearing this wept sore and beat her breast and tore her hair crying, “Where now shall I find that clay-seller? The wight is a stranger, never before did I see him about this quarter or this street.” Then turning to me she continued, “Herein thou hast dealt right foolishly, for that thou didst not tell me of the matter, nor didst place any trust in me; otherwise this mishap would never have happened to us; no, never.” And she lamented with loud lamentation and bitter whereat I said, “Make not such hubbub nor display such trouble, lest our neighbours overhear thee, and learning of our mishap peradventure laugh at us and call us fools. It behoveth us to rest content with the will of Almighty Allah.” However the ten Ashrafis which I had taken from the two hundred sufficed me to carry on my trade and to live with more of ease for some short while; but I ever grieved and I marvelled much anent what could be said to Sa’di when he should come again; for inasmuch as he believed me not the first time I was assured in my mind that now he would denounce me aloud as a cheat and a liar. One day of the days the twain, to wit, Sa’d and Sa’di, came strolling towards my house conversing and, as usual, arguing about me and my case; and I seeing them from afar left off working that I might hide myself, as I could not for very shame come forth and accost them. Seeing this and not guessing the reason they entered my dwelling 350and, saluting me with the salam, asked me how I had fared. I durst not raise my eyes so abashed and mortified was I, and with bended brow returned the greeting; when they, noting my sorry plight, marvelled saying, “Is all well with thee? Why art thou in this state? Hast thou not made good use of the gold or hast thou wasted thy wealth in lewd living?” Quoth I, “O my lords, the story of the Ashrafis is none other than this. When ye departed from me I went home with the purse of money and, finding no one was in the house for all had gone out somewhere, I took out therefrom ten gold pieces. Then I put the rest together with the purse within a large earthen jar filled full of bran which had long stood in one corner of the room, so might the matter be kept privy from my wife and children. But whilst I was in the market buying me some hemp, my wife returned home; and at that moment there came in to her a man which sold fuller’s earth for washing hair. She had need thereof withal naught to pay with; so she went out to him and said, “I am clean without coin, but I have a quantity of bran; say me, wilt thou have that in change for thy clay?” The man agreed and accordingly my wife took the earth of him, and gave him in exchange the jarful of bran which he carried away with him and ganged his gait. An ye ask:—“Wherefore didst thou not confide the matter to thy spouse and tell her that thou hadst put the money in the jar?” I on my side answer, that ye gave me strict injunctions to keep the money this time with the utmost heed and caution. Methought that stead was the safest wherein to store the gold and I was loath to trust my wife lest haply she take some coin therefrom and expend it upon her household. O my lords, I am certified of your goodness and graciousness, but poverty and penury are writ in my Book of Fate; how then can I aspire to possessions and prosperity? Withal, never while I breathe the breath of life, shall I be forgetful of this your generous favour.” Quoth Sa’di, “Meseemeth I have disbursed four hundred Ashrafis to no purpose in giving them to thee; yet the intent wherewith they were given 351was that thou shouldst benefit thereby, not that I claim thy praise and thanksgiving.” So they twain compassionated and condoled with me in my misfortune; and presently Sa’d, an upright man and one who had acquaintance with me since many a year, produced a leaden coin[26] which he had picked up from the path and was still carrying in his pocket; and, after shewing it to Sa’di, said to me, “Seest thou this bit of lead? Take it and by favour of Fate thou shalt find out what blessings it will bring to thee.” Sa’di on espying it laughed aloud and made jest of the matter and flouting said, “What advantage will there be to Hasan from this mite of lead and in what way shall he use it?” Sa’d handing me the leaden coin retorted in reply, “Give no heed to whatso Sa’di may say, but keep this by thee. Let him laugh an he please. One day haply shall come to pass, Inshallah—an it be the will of Almighty Allah—that thou shalt by means thereof become a wealthy man and a magnifico.” I took the bit of lead and put it in my pocket, and the twain bade me farewell and went their way.——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Nineteenth Night.

Then said she——I have heard, O auspicious King, that Hasan al-Habbal thus continued his story:—As soon as Sa’d and Sa’di had departed, I went on rope-twisting until night came and when doffing my dress to go to bed the bit of lead which Sa’d had given me fell out of my pocket; so I picked it up and set it carelessly in a small niche in the wall.[27] Now that very night so it happened that a fisherman, one of my neighbours, stood in need of a small 352coin[28] wherewith to buy some twine for mending his drag-net, as he was wont to do during the dark hours, in order that he might catch the fish ere dawn of day and selling his quarry, buy victuals for himself and his household. So, as he was accustomed to rise while yet somewhat of night remained, he bade his wife go round about to all the neighbours and borrow a copper that he might buy the twine required; and the woman went everywhere, from house to house, but nowhere could she get loan of a farthing, and at last she came home weary and disappointed. Quoth the fisherman to her, “Hast thou been to Hasan al-Habbal?” and quoth she, “Nay, I have not tried at his place. It is the furthest of all the neighbours’ houses and fanciest thou, even had I gone there, I could thence have brought back aught?” “Off with thee, O laziest of hussies and good-for-nothing of baggages,” cried the fisherman, “away with thee this instant; perchance he hath a copper to lend us.” Accordingly the woman, grumbling and muttering, fared forth and coming to my dwelling knocked at the door, saying, “O Hasan al-Habbal, my husband is in sore need of a pice wherewith to buy some twine for mending his nets.” Minding me of the coin which Sa’d had given me and where it had been put away, I shouted out to her, “Have patience, my spouse will go forth to thee and give thee what thou needest.” My wife, hearing all this hubbub, woke from sleep, and I told her where to find the bit of money, whereupon she fetched it and gave it to the woman, who joyed with exceeding joy, and said, “Thou and thy husband have shown great kindness to my man, wherefore I promise thee that whatsoever fish he may chance to catch at the first throw of the net shall be thine; and I am assured that my goodman, when he shall hear of this my promise, will consent thereto.” Accordingly when the woman took the money to her 353husband and told him of what pledge she had given, he was right willing, and said to her, “Thou hast done well and wisely in that thou madest this covenant.” Then having bought some twine and mended all the nets he rose before dawn and hastened riverwards to catch fish according to his custom. But when he cast the net into the stream for the first throw and haled it in, he found that it contained but one fish and that a full span[29] or so in thickness, which he placed apart as my portion. Then he threw the net again and again and at each cast he caught many fishes both small and great, but none reached in size that he first had netted. As soon as he returned home the fisherman came at once to me and brought the fish he had netted in my name, and said, “O our neighbour, my wife promised over night that thou shouldst have whatever fishes should come to ground at the first net-throw; and this fish is the only one I caught. Here it is, prithee take it as a thanks-offering for the kindness of last night, and as fulfilment of the promise. If Allah Almighty had vouchsafed to me of fish a seine-full, all had been thine but ’tis thy fate that only this one was landed at the first cast.” Said I, “The mite I gave thee yesternight was not of such value that I should look for somewhat in return;” and refused to accept it. But after much “say and said” he would not take back the fish, and he insisted that it was mine: wherefore I agreed to keep it and gave it to my wife, saying, “O woman, this fish is a return for the mite I gave last night to the fisherman our neighbour. Sa’d hath declared that by means of that coin I shall attain to much riches and abundant opulence.” Then I recounted to my wife how my two friends had visited me and what they said and did, and all concerning the leaden coin which Sa’d had given to me. She wondered at seeing but a single fish and said, “How shall I cook it? Meseemeth 354’twere best to cut it up and broil it for the children, especially as we have naught of spices and condiments wherewith to dress it otherwise.” Then, as she sliced and cleansed the fish she found within its belly a large diamond which she supposed to be a bit of glass or crystal; for she oft had heard tell of diamonds[30] but never with her own eyes had she beheld one. So she gave it to the youngest of the children for a plaything and when the others saw it, by reason of its brightness and brilliancy all desired to have it and each kept it in turn awhile; moreover when night came and the lamp was lighted they crowded round the stone and gazed upon its beauty, and screamed and shouted with delight.[31] When my wife had spread the table we sat down to supper and the eldest boy set the diamond upon the tray, and as soon as we all had finished eating, the children fought and scrambled as before for it. At first I paid no heed to their noise and hubbub, but when it waxed exceeding loud and irksome I asked my eldest lad the cause why they quarrelled and made such turmoil. Quoth he, “The trouble and dispute are about a piece of glass which giveth forth a light as bright as the lamp.” Whereat I told him to produce it and marvelled greatly to see its sparkling water, and enquired of my wife whence she had gotten the piece of crystal. Quoth she, “This I found within the belly of the fish as 355I was gutting it.” Still I did not suppose it to be aught but glass. Presently I bade my wife hide the lamp behind the hearth.——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Twentieth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that Hasan al-Habbal thus continued his story:—And when my wife had hidden the lamp from view, such was the brightness of the diamond that we could see right well without other light; wherefore I placed it upon the hearth[32] that we might work by it, and said within myself, “The coin that Sa’d left with me hath produced this benefit that we no longer stand in need of a lamp: at least it saveth us oil.” When the youngsters saw me put out the lamp and use the glass in its stead they jumped and danced for joy, and screamed and shouted with glee so that all the neighbours round about could hear them when I chid them and sent them to bed; we also went to rest and right soon fell asleep. Next day I woke betimes and went on with my work and thought not of the piece of glass. Now there dwelt hard by us a wealthy Jew, a jeweller who bought and sold all kinds of precious stones; and, as he and his wife essayed to sleep that night, by reason of the noise and clamour of the children they were disturbed for many hours and slumber visited not their eyes. And when morn appeared, the jeweller’s wife came to our house to make complaint both for herself and her husband anent the hubbub and shouting. Ere she could say a word of blame my wife, guessing the intent wherewith she came, addressed her saying, “O Rahíl,[33] I fear me that my children pestered thee last night with their 356laughing and crying. I crave thine indulgence in this matter; well thou must wot how children now cry now laugh at trifles. Come in and see the cause of all their excitement wherefor thou wouldst justly call me to account.” She did accordingly and saw the bit of glass about which the youngsters had made such din and uproar; and when she, who had long experience of all manner precious stones, beheld the diamond she was filled with wonderment. My wife then told her how she had found it in the fish’s belly, whereupon quoth the Jewess, “This bit of glass is more excellent than all other sorts of glass. I too have such an one as this which I am wont to wear sometimes; and wouldst thou sell it I will buy this thing of thee.” Hearing her words the children began to cry and said, “O mother dear, an thou wilt not sell it we promise henceforth to make no noise.” Understanding that they would by no means part with it, the women held their peace and presently the Jewess fared forth, but ere she took her leave she whispered my wife, “See that thou tell the matter to none; and, if thou have a mind to sell it at once send me word.” Now the Jew was sitting in his shop when his wife went to him and told him of the bit of glass. Quoth he, “Go straightway back and offer a price for it, saying that ’tis for me. Begin with some small bidding, then raise the sum until thou get it.” The Jewess thereupon returned to my house and offered twenty Ashrafis, which my wife deemed a large sum to give for such a trifle; however, she would not close the bargain. At that moment I happened to leave my work and, coming home to our noon-meal, saw the two women talking on the threshold; and my wife stopped me, saying, “This neighbour biddeth twenty Ashrafis to price for the piece of glass, but I have as yet given her no reply. What sayest thou?” Then I bethought me of what Sa’d had told me; to wit, that much wealth would come to me by virtue of his leaden coin. The Jewess seeing how I hesitated bethought her that I would not consent to the price; so quoth she, “O 357neighbour, an thou wilt not agree to part with the bit of glass for twenty pieces of gold, I will e’en give thee fifty.” Hereat I reflected that whereas the Jewess raised her offer so readily from twenty golden pieces to fifty, this glass must surely be of great value; so I kept silence and answered her not a word. Then noting that I still held my peace she cried, “Take then one hundred: this be its full value; nay I know not in very deed if my husband will consent to so high a price.” Said I in reply, “O my good woman, why talk so foolishly? I will not sell it for aught less than an hundred thousand[34] gold coins; and thou mayest take it at that price but only because thou art neighbour to us.” The Jewess raised her offer coin by coin to fifty thousand Ashrafis and said, “I pray thee wait till morning and sell it not till then, so that my man may come round and see it.” “Right willingly,” quoth I; “by all manner of means let thy husband drop in and inspect it.”——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Twenty-first Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that Hasan al-Habbal thus continued his story.—Next day the Jew came to my house and I drew forth and showed to him the diamond which shone and glittered in my palm with light as bright as any lamp’s. Presently, assured that all which his wife had told him of its water and lustre was strictly true, he took it in hand and, examining it and turning it about, marvelled with mighty marvel at its beauty saying, “My wife made offer of fifty thousand gold pieces: see now I will give thee yet another twenty thousand.” Said I, “Thy wife hath surely named to thee what sum I fixed; to wit, one hundred thousand Ashrafis and naught less: I shall not 358abate one jot or tittle of this price.” The Jew did all he could to buy it for a lesser sum; but I answered only, “It mattereth naught; an thou desire not to come to my terms I must needs sell it to some other jeweller.” At length he consented and weighed me out two thousand gold pieces by way of earnest-money, saying, “To-morrow I will bring the amount of my offer and carry off my diamond.” To this I gave assent and so, on the day following, he came to me and weighed out the full sum of one hundred thousand Ashrafis, which he had raised amongst his friends and partners in business. Then I gave him the diamond which had brought me such exceeding wealth, and offered thanks to him and praises unto Almighty Allah for this great good Fortune gotten unawares, and much I hoped soon to see my two friends, Sa’d and Sa’di, and to thank them likewise. So first I set my house in order and gave spending-money to my wife for home-necessaries and for clothing herself and children; moreover, I also bought me a fine mansion and furnished it with the best. Then said I to my wife, who thought of nothing save rich clothes and high diet and a life of ease and enjoyment, “It behoveth us not to give up this our craft: we must needs put by some coin and carry on the business.” Accordingly, I went to all the rope-makers of the city and buying with much money several manufactories put them to work, and over each establishment I set an overseer, an intelligent man and a trustworthy, so that there is not now throughout Baghdad-city a single ward or quarter that hath not walks and workshops of mine for rope-making. Nay, further, I have in each town and every district of Al-Irak warehouses, all under charge of honest supervisors; and thus it is that I have amassed such a muchel of wealth. Lastly, for my own especial place of business I bought another house, a ruined place with a sufficiency of land adjoining; and, pulling down the old shell, I edified in lieu thereof the new and spacious edifice which thy Highness hath deigned yesterday to look upon. Here all 359my workmen are lodged and here also are kept my office-books and accounts; and besides my warehouse it containeth apartments fitted with furniture in simple style all-sufficient for myself and my family. After some time I quitted my old home, wherein Sa’d and Sa’di had seen me working, and went and lived in the new mansion and not long after this removal my two friends and benefactors bethought them that they would come and visit me. They marvelled much when, entering my old workshop, they found me not, and they asked the neighbours, “Where dwelleth such and such a ropemaker? Is he alive or dead?” Quoth the folk “He now is a rich merchant; and men no longer call him simply ‘Hasan,’ but entitle him ‘Master Hasan the Ropemaker.’ He hath built him a splendid building and he dwelleth in such and such a quarter.” Whereupon the two familiars set forth in search of me; and they rejoiced at the good report; albeit Sa’di would by no means be convinced that all my wealth had sprung (as Sa’d contended) from its root, that small leaden coin. Presently, conning the matter over in his mind he said to his comrade, “It delighteth me much to hear of all this good fortune which hath betided Hasan, despite that he twice deceived me and took from me four hundred gold pieces, whereby he hath gotten to himself these riches; for it is absurd to think that it hath come from the leaden coin thou gavest him. Withal I do forgive him and owe him no grudge.” Replied the other, “Thou art mistaken. I know Hasan of old to be a good man and true: he would not delude thee and what he told us is simple sooth. I am persuaded in my mind that he hath won all his wealth and opulence by the leaden coin: however we shall hear anon what he may have to say.” Conversing thus they came into the street wherein I now dwell and, seeing a large and magnificent mansion and a new-made, they guessed it was mine. So they knocked and, on the porter opening, Sa’di marvelled to see such grandeur and so many folk sitting within, and feared lest haply they had unwittingly 360entered the house of some Emir. Then plucking courage he enquired of the porter, “Is this the dwelling-place of Khwajah Hasan al-Habbal?”——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Twenty-second Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that Hasan al-Habbal continued thus his story:—The porter made reply, “This is verily the house of Khwajah Hasan al-Habbal; he is within and he sitteth in his office. I pray thee enter and one of the slaves will make known thy coming to him.” Hereupon the two friends walked in, and as soon as I saw them I recognised them, and rising up to them I ran and kissed the hems of their garments. They would fain have fallen on my neck and embraced me, but with meekness of mind I would not suffer them so to do; and presently I led them into a large and spacious saloon, and bade them sit upon the highmost seats of honour. They would have constrained me to take the best place, but I exclaimed, “O my lords, I am on no wise better than the poor ropemaker Hasan, who not unmindful of your worth and goodness ever prayeth for your welfare, and who deserveth not to sit in higher stead than you.” Then they took seat and I opposite them, when quoth Sa’di, “My heart rejoiceth with exceeding joy to see thee in this condition, for that Allah hath given thee all even as thou wishest. I doubt not thou has gotten all this abundance and opulence by means of the four hundred gold pieces which I gave to thee; but say me truly wherefore didst thou twice deceive me and bespeak me falsely?” Sa’d listened to these words with silent indignation, and ere I could make reply he broke out saying, “O Sa’di, how often have I assured thee that all which Hasan said aforetime anent the losing of the Ashrafis is very sooth and no leasing?” Then they began to dispute each with other; when I, recovering from my surprise, 361exclaimed, “O my lords, of what avail is this contention? Be not at variance, I beseech you, on my account. All that had befallen me I made known to you; and, whether ye believe my words or ye believe them not, it mattereth but little. Now hearken to the whole truth of my tale.” Then I made known to them the story of the piece of lead which I had given to the fisherman and of the diamond found in the fish’s belly; brief, I told them every whit even as I have now related to thy Highness. On hearing all my adventure Sa’di said, “O Khwajah Hasan, it seemeth to me passing strange that so great a diamond should be found in the belly of a fish; and I deem it a thing impossible that a kite should fly off with thy turband, or that thy wife should give away the jar of bran in exchange for fuller’s earth. Thou sayest the tale is true, still can I not give credit to thy words, for I know full well that the four hundred gold pieces have gotten thee all this wealth.” But when they twain rose up to take their leave, I also arose and said, “O my lords, ye have shown favour to me in that ye have thus deigned visit me in my poor home. I beseech you now to taste of my food and to tarry here this night under your servant’s roof; as to-morrow I would fain take you by the way of the river to a country-house which I have lately bought.” Hereto they consented with some objections; and I, after giving orders for the evening meal, showed them about the house and displayed the furniture and entertained them with pleasing words and pleasant converse, till a slave came and announced that supper was served. So I led them to the saloon wherein were ranged the trays loaded with many kinds of meats; on all sides stood camphorated wax candles,[35] and before the table were gathered musicians singing and playing on various instruments of mirth and merriment, whilst in the upper part of the saloon men and women were dancing and making much diversion. When we had supped we went to bed, 362and rising early we prayed the dawn-prayer, and presently embarked on a large and well-appointed boat, and the rowers rowing with a flowing tide soon landed us at my country seat. Then we strolled in a body about the grounds and entered the house, when I showed them our new buildings and displayed to them all that appertained thereto; and hereat they marvelled with great marvel. Thence we repaired to the garden and saw, planted in rows along the walks, fruit trees of all kinds with ripe fruit bowed down, and watered with water from the river by means of brick-work channels. All round were flowering shrubs whose perfume gladdened the Zephyr; here and there fountains and jets of water shot high in air; and sweet-voiced birds made melody amid the leafy branches hymning the One, the Eternal; in short, the sights and scents on every side filled the soul with joy and gladness. My two friends walked about in joyance and delight, and thanked me again and again for bringing them to so lovely a site and said, “Almighty Allah prosper thee in house and garth.” At last I led them to the foot of a tall tree near to one of the garden walls and shewed them a little summer-house wherein I was wont to take rest and refreshment; and the room was furnished with cushions and divans and pillows purfled with virgin gold.——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Twenty-third Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that Hasan al-Habbal thus pursued his tale:—Now so it happened that, as we sat at rest within that summer-house, two sons of mine, whom I had sent together with their governor to my country-place for change of water and air,[36] were roaming about the garden seeking birds’ nests. Presently they came across a big one upon the topmost 363boughs and tried to swarm up the trunk and carry it off, but by reason of their lack of strength and little practice they durst not venture so high; whereupon they bade a slave-boy who ever attended on them, climb the tree. He did their bidding, but when looking into the nest he was amazed with exceeding amazement to see it mainly made of an old turband. So he brought down the stuff and handed it to the lads. My eldest son took it from his hands and carried it to the arbour for me to see, and set it at my feet saying in high glee, “O my father, look here; this nest is made of cloth.” Sa’d and Sa’di wondered with all wonderment at the sight and the marvel grew the greater when I, after considering it closely, recognised it for the very turband whereon the kite had swooped and which had been borne off by the bird. Then quoth I to my two friends, “Examine well this turband and certify yourselves that it is the self-same one worn upon my head when first ye honoured me with your presence.” Quoth Sa’d, “I know it not,” and quoth Sa’di, “An thou find within it the hundred and ninety gold pieces, then shalt thou be assured that is thy turband in very sooth.” I said, “O my lord, this is, well I wot, that very turband.” And as I held it in my hand, I found it heavy of weight, and opening out the folds felt somewhat tied up in one of the corners of the cloth;[37] so I unrolled the swathes when lo and behold! I came upon the purse of gold pieces. Hereat, shewing it to Sa’di, I cried, “Canst thou not recognise this purse?” and he replied, “’Tis in truth the very purse of Ashrafis which I gave thee when first we met.” Then I opened the mouth and, pouring out the gold in one heap upon the carpet, bade him count his money; and he turned it over coin by coin and made the sum thereof one hundred and ninety Ashrafis. Hereat waxing sore ashamed and confounded, he exclaimed, “Now do I believe thy words: nevertheless must thou admit that thou hast earned one half of this thy 364prodigious wealth with the two hundred gold pieces I gave thee after our second visit, and the other half by means of the mite thou gottest from Sa’d.” To this I made no answer, but my friends ceased not to dispute upon the matter. We then sat down to meat and drink, and when we had eaten our sufficiency, I and my two friends went to sleep in the cool arbour; after which when the sun was well-nigh set we mounted and rode off to Baghdad leaving the servants to follow. However, arrived at the city we found all the shops shut and nowhere could we get grain and forage for the horses, and I sent off two slave-boys who had run alongside of us to search for provender. One of them found a jar of bran in the shop of a corn-dealer and paying for the provision brought it, together with the jar, under promise that on the morrow he would carry back the vessel. Then he began to take out the bran by handfuls in the dark and to set it before the horses,——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Twenty-fourth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious king, that Hasan al-Habbal thus continued his story:—So as the slave-boy took out the bran by handfuls and set it before the horses, suddenly his hand came upon a piece of cloth wherein was somewhat heavy. He brought it to me even as he found it and said, “See, is not this cloth the very one of whose loss thou hast ofttimes spoken to us?” I took it and wondering with great wonder knew it was the self-same piece of stuff wherein I had tied up the hundred and fourscore and ten Ashrafis before hiding them in the jar of bran. Then said I to my friends, “O my lords, it hath pleased Almighty Allah, ere we parted, I and you, to bear me witness of my words and to stablish that I told you naught save whatso was very sooth.” And I resumed, addressing Sa’di, “See here the other sum of money, 365that is, the hundred and ninety Ashrafis which thou gavest me and which I tied up in this very piece of cloth I now recognise.” Then I sent for the earthen jar that they might see it, and also bade carry it to my wife that she also might bear witness, an it be or be not the very bran jar which she gave in exchange for fuller’s earth. Anon she sent us word and said, “Yea verily I know it well. ’Tis the same jar which I had filled with bran.” Accordingly Sa’di owned that he was wrong and said to Sa’d, “Now I know that thou speakest truth, and am convinced that wealth cometh not by wealth; but only by the grace of Almighty Allah doth a poor man become a rich man.” And he begged pardon for his mistrust and unbelief. We accepted his excuses whereupon we retired to rest and early on the morrow my two friends bade me adieu and journeyed homewards with full persuasion that I had done no wrong and had not squandered the moneys they had given me.—Now when the Caliph Harun al-Rashid had heard the story of Khwajah Hasan to the end, he said, “I have known thee of old by fair report of thee from the folk who, one and all, declare that thou art a good man and true. Moreover the self-same diamond whereby thou hast attained to so great riches is now in my treasury; so I would fain send for Sa’di forthright that he may see it with his own eyes, and weet for certain that not by means of money do men become or rich or poor.” The Prince of True Believers said moreover to Khwajah Hasan al-Habbal, “Go now and tell thy tale to my treasurer that he may take it down in writing for an everlasting memorial, and place the writ in the treasury together with the diamond.” Then the Caliph with a nod dismissed Khwajah Hasan; and Sidi Nu’uman and Baba Abdullah also kissed the foot of the throne and departed. So when Queen Shahrazad had made an end of relating this history she was about to begin the story of ’Alí Bábá and the Forty Thieves, but King Shahryar prevented her, saying, “O Shahrazad, I am well pleased with this thy tale, but now the dawn appeareth and the chanticleer 366of morn doth sound his shrill clarion. This day also I spare thy life, to the intent that I may listen at my ease to this new history of thine at the end of the coming night.” Hereupon the three took their rest until the fittest time drew near.——And as the morning morrowed Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Twenty-fifth Night.

With the dawn Dunyazad awoke Queen Shahrazad from slumber sweet and said, “Arise, O my sister, but alas! ’tis a bitter thing to stand in awe of coming doom.” Replied Shahrazad, “O dear my sister, be not thou downhearted: if life’s span be spent naught can avert the sharp-edged sword. Yet place thy trust in Allah Almighty and put far from thee all such anxious thoughts: my tales are tokens of life prolonged.” Whereupon Queen Shahrazad began to tell in these words the story of



In days of yore and in times and tides long gone before there dwelt in a certain town of Persia two brothers one named Kásim and the other ’Alí Bábá, who at their father’s demise had divided the little wealth he had left to them with equitable division, and had lost no time in wasting and spending it all. The elder, however, presently took to himself a wife, the daughter of an opulent merchant; so that when his father-in-law fared to the mercy of Almighty Allah, he became owner of a large shop filled with rare goods and costly wares and of a store-house stocked with precious stuffs; likewise of much gold that was buried in the ground. Thus was he known throughout the city as a substantial man. But the woman whom Ali Baba had married was poor and needy; they lived, therefore, in a mean hovel and Ali Baba eked out a scanty livelihood by the sale of fuel which he daily collected in the jungle[39] and carried about the town to the Bazar upon his three asses. Now it chanced one day that Ali Baba had cut dead branches and dry fuel sufficient for his need, and had placed the load upon his beasts when suddenly he espied a dust-cloud spireing high in air to his right and moving rapidly towards him; and when he closely considered it he descried a troop of horsemen riding on amain and about to reach him. At this sight he was sore alarmed, and fearing lest perchance they were a band of bandits who would slay him 370and drive off his donkeys, in his affright he began to run; but forasmuch as they were near hand and he could not escape from out the forest, he drove his animals laden with the fuel into a bye-way of the bushes and swarmed up a thick trunk of a huge tree to hide himself therein; and he sat upon a branch whence he could descry everything beneath him whilst none below could catch a glimpse of him above; and that tree grew close beside a rock which towered high above-head. The horsemen, young, active, and doughty riders, came close up to the rock-face and all dismounted; whereat Ali Baba took good note of them and soon he was fully persuaded by their mien and demeanour that they were a troop of highwaymen who, having fallen upon a caravan had despoiled it and carried off the spoil and brought their booty to this place with intent of concealing it safely in some cache. Moreover he observed that they were forty in number.——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Twenty-sixth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious king, that Ali Baba saw the robbers, as soon as they came under the tree, each unbridle his horse and hobble it; then all took off their saddle-bags which proved to be full of gold and silver. The man who seemed to be the captain presently pushed forwards, load on shoulder, through thorns and thickets, till he came up to a certain spot where he uttered these strange words, “Open, O Simsim!”[40] 371and forthwith appeared a wide doorway in the face of the rock. The robbers went in and last of all their Chief and then the portal shut of itself. Long while they stayed within the cave whilst Ali Baba was constrained to abide perched upon the tree, reflecting that if he came down peradventure the band might issue forth that very moment and seize him and slay him. At last he had determined to mount one of the horses and driving on his asses to return townwards, when suddenly the portal flew open. The robber-chief was first to issue forth; then, standing at the entrance, he saw and counted his men as they came out, and lastly he spake the magical words, “Shut, O Simsim!” whereat the door closed of itself. When all had passed muster and review, each slung on his saddle-bags and bridled his own horse and as soon as ready they rode off, led by the leader, in the direction whence they came. Ali Baba remained still perched on the tree and watched their departure; nor would he descend until what time they were clean gone out of sight, lest perchance one of them return and look around and descry him. Then he thought within himself, “I too will try the virtue of those magical words and see if at my bidding the door will open and close.” So he called out aloud, “Open, O Simsim!” And no sooner had he spoken than straightway the portal flew open and he entered within. He saw a large cavern and a vaulted, in height equalling the stature of a full-grown man and it was hewn in the live stone and lighted up with light that came through air-holes and bullseyes in the upper surface of the rock which formed the roof. He had expected to find naught save outer gloom in this robbers’ den, and he was surprised to see the whole room filled with bales of all manner stuffs, and heaped up from sole to ceiling with camel-loads of silks and brocades and embroidered cloths and mounds on mounds of vari-coloured carpetings; besides which he espied coins golden and silvern without measure or account, some piled upon the ground and others bound in leathern bags and sacks. Seeing these goods and moneys in such abundance, Ali 372Baba determined in his mind that not during a few years only but for many generations thieves must have stored their gains and spoils in this place. When he stood within the cave, its door had closed upon him, yet he was not dismayed since he had kept in memory the magical words; and he took no heed of the precious stuffs around him, but applied himself only and wholly to the sacks of Ashrafis. Of these he carried out as many as he judged sufficient burthen for the beasts; then he loaded them upon his animals, and covered this plunder with sticks and fuel, so none might discern the bags, but might think that he was carrying home his usual ware. Lastly he called out, “Shut, O Simsim!” and forthwith the door closed, for the spell so wrought that whensoever any entered the cave, its portal shut of itself behind him; and, as he issued therefrom, the same would neither open nor close again till he had pronounced the words, “Shut, O Simsim!” Presently, having laden his asses Ali Baba urged them before him with all speed to the city and reaching home he drove them into the yard; and, shutting close the outer door, took down first the sticks and fuel and after the bags of gold which he carried in to his wife. She felt them and finding them full of coin suspected that Ali Baba had been robbing and fell to berating and blaming him for that he should do so ill a thing.——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Twenty-seventh Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that quoth Ali Baba to his wife:—“Indeed I am no robber and rather do thou rejoice with me at our good fortune.” Hereupon he told her of his adventure and began to pour the gold from the bags in heaps before her, and her sight was dazzled by the sheen and her heart delighted at his recital and adventures. Then she began counting the gold, whereat quoth Ali Baba, “O silly woman, how long wilt 373thou continue turning over the coin? now let me dig a hole wherein to hide this treasure that none may know its secret.” Quoth she, “Right is thy rede! still would I weigh the moneys and have some inkling of their amount;” and he replied, “As thou pleasest, but see thou tell no man.” So she went off in haste to Kasim’s home to borrow weights and scales wherewith she might balance the Ashrafis and make some reckoning of their value; and when she could not find Kasim she said to his wife, “Lend me, I pray thee, thy scales for a moment.” Replied her sister-in-law,[41] “Hast thou need of the bigger balance or the smaller?” and the other rejoined, “I need not the large scales, give me the little;” and her sister-in-law cried, “Stay here a moment whilst I look about and find thy want.” With this pretext Kasim’s wife went aside and secretly smeared wax and suet over the pan of the balance, that she might know what thing it was Ali Baba’s wife would weigh, for she made sure that whatso it be some bit thereof would stick to the wax and fat. So the woman took this opportunity to satisfy her curiosity, and Ali Baba’s wife suspecting naught thereof carried home the scales and began to weigh the gold, whilst Ali Baba ceased not digging; and, when the money was weighed, they twain stowed it into the hole which they carefully filled up with earth. Then the good wife took back the scales to her kinswoman, all unknowing that an Ashrafi had adhered to the cup of the scales; but when Kasim’s wife espied the gold coin she fumed with envy and wrath, saying to herself, “So ho! they borrowed my balance to weigh out Ashrafis?” and she marvelled greatly whence so poor a man as Ali Baba had gotten such store of wealth that he should be obliged to weigh it with a pair of scales. Now after long pondering the matter, when her husband 374returned home at eventide, she said to him, “O man, thou deemest thyself a wight of wealth and substance, but lo, thy brother Ali Baba is an Emir by the side of thee and richer far than thou art. He hath such heaps of gold that he must needs weigh his moneys with scales, whilst thou, forsooth, art satisfied to count thy coin.” “Whence knowest thou this?” asked Kasim, and in answer his wife related all anent the pair of scales and how she found an Ashrafi stuck to them, and shewed him the gold coin which bore the mark and superscription of some ancient king. No sleep had Kasim all that night by reason of his envy and jealousy and covetise; and next morning he rose betimes and going to Ali Baba said, “O my brother, to all appearance thou art poor and needy; but in effect thou hast a store of wealth so abundant that perforce thou must weigh thy gold with scales.” Quoth Ali Baba, “What is this thou sayest? I understand thee not; make clear thy purport;” and quoth Kasim with ready rage, “Feign not that thou art ignorant of what I say and think not to deceive me.” Then showing him the Ashrafi he cried, “Thousands of gold coins such as these thou hast put by; and meanwhile my wife found this one stuck to the cup of the scales.” Then Ali Baba understood how both Kasim and his wife knew that he had store of Ashrafis, and said in his mind that it would not avail him to keep the matter hidden, but would rather cause ill-will and mischief; and thus he was induced to tell his brother every whit concerning the bandits[42] and also of the treasure trove in the cave. When he had heard the story, Kasim exclaimed, “I would fain learn of thee 375the certainty of the place where thou foundest the moneys; also the magical words whereby the door opened and closed; and I forewarn thee an thou tell me not the whole truth, I will give notice of those Ashrafis to the Wálí;[43] then shalt thou forfeit all thy wealth and be disgraced and thrown into gaol.” Thereupon Ali Baba told him his tale not forgetting the magical words; and Kasim who kept careful heed of all these matters next day set out, driving ten mules he had hired, and readily found the place which Ali Baba had described to him. And when he came to the aforesaid rock and to the tree whereon Ali Baba had hidden himself, and he had made sure of the door he cried in great joy, “Open, O Simsim!” The portal yawned wide at once and Kasim went within and saw the piles of jewels and treasures lying ranged all around; and, as soon as he stood amongst them the door shut after him as wont to do. He walked about in ecstasy marvelling at the treasures, and when weary of admiration he gathered together bags of Ashrafis, a sufficient load for his ten mules, and placed them by the entrance in readiness to be carried outside and set upon the beasts. But by the will of Allah Almighty he had clean forgotten the cabalistic words and cried out, “Open, O Barley!” whereat the door refused to move. Astonished and confused beyond measure he named the names of all manner of grains save sesame, which had slipped from his memory as though he had never heard the word; whereat in his dire distress he heeded not the Ashrafis that lay heaped at the entrance and paced to and fro, backwards and forwards, within the cave sorely puzzled and perplexed. The wealth whose sight had erewhile filled his heart with joy and gladness was now the cause of bitter grief and sadness.——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Twenty-eighth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that Kasim gave up all hope of the life which he by his greed and envy had so sore imperilled. It came to pass that at noontide the robbers, returning by that way, saw from afar some mules standing beside the entrance and much they marvelled at what had brought the beasts to that place; for, inasmuch as Kasim by mischance had failed to tether or hobble them, they had strayed about the jungle and were browsing hither and thither. However, the thieves paid scant regard to the estrays nor cared they to secure them, but only wondered by what means they had wandered so far from the town. Then, reaching the cave the Captain and his troop dismounted and going up to the door repeated the formula and at once it flew open. Now Kasim had heard from within the cave the horse-hooves drawing nigh and yet nigher; and he fell down to the ground in a fit of fear never doubting that it was the clatter of the banditti who would slaughter him without fail. Howbeit he presently took heart of grace and at the moment when the door flew open he rushed out hoping to make good his escape. But the unhappy ran full tilt against the Captain who stood in front of the band, and felled him to the ground; whereupon a robber standing near his chief at once bared his brand and with one cut clave Kasim clean in twain. Thereupon the robbers rushed into the cavern, and put back as they were before the bags of Ashrafis which Kasim had heaped up at the doorway ready for taking away; nor recked they aught of those which Ali Baba had removed, so dazed and amazed were they to discover by what means the strange man had effected an entrance. All knew that it was not possible for any to drop through the skylights so tall and steep was the rock’s face, withal slippery of ascent; and also that none could enter by the portal unless he knew the magical words whereby to open it. However they presently quartered the dead body of Kasim and 377hung it to the door within the cavern, two parts to the right jamb and as many to the left[44] that the sight might be a warning of approaching doom for all who dared enter the cave. Then coming out they closed the hoard door and rode away upon their wonted work. Now when night fell and Kasim came not home, his wife waxed uneasy in mind and running round to Ali Baba said, “O my brother, Kasim hath not returned: thou knowest whither he went, and sore I fear me some misfortune hath betided him.” Ali Baba also divined that a mishap had happened to prevent his return; not the less, however, he strove to comfort his sister-in-law with words of cheer and said, “O wife of my brother, Kasim haply exerciseth discretion and, avoiding the city, cometh by a roundabout road and will be here anon. This, I do believe, is the reason why he tarrieth.” Thereupon comforted in spirit Kasim’s wife fared homewards and sat awaiting her husband’s return; but when half the night was spent and still he came not, she was as one distraught. She feared to cry aloud for her grief, lest haply the neighbours hearing her should come and learn the secret; so she wept in silence and upbraiding herself fell to thinking, “Wherefore did I disclose this secret to him and beget envy and jealousy of Ali Baba? this be the fruit thereof and hence the disaster that hath come down upon me.” She spent the rest of the night in bitter tears and early on the morrow hied in hottest hurry to Ali Baba and prayed that he would go forth in quest of his brother; so he strove to console her and straightway set out with his asses for the forest. Presently, reaching the rock he wondered to see stains of blood freshly shed and not finding his brother or the ten mules he forefelt a calamity from so evil a sign. He then went to the door and saving, “Open, O Simsim!” he pushed in and saw the dead body of Kasim, two parts hanging to the right, and the rest 378to the left of the entrance. Albeit he was affrighted beyond measure of affright he wrapped the quarters in two cloths and laid them upon one of his asses, hiding them carefully with sticks and fuel that none might see them. Then he placed the bags of gold upon the two other animals and likewise covered them most carefully; and, when all was made ready he closed the cave-door with the magical words, and set him forth wending homewards with all ward and watchfulness. The asses with the load of Ashrafis he made over to his wife and bade her bury the bags with diligence; but he told her not the condition in which he had come upon his brother Kasim. Then he went with the other ass, to wit, the beast whereon was laid the corpse to the widow’s house and knocked gently at the door. Now Kasim had a slave-girl shrewd and sharp-witted, Morgiana[45] hight. She as softly undid the bolt and admitted Ali Baba and the ass into the courtyard of the house, when he let down the body from the beast’s back and said, “O Morgiana, haste thee and make thee ready to perform the rites for the burial of thy lord: I now go to tell the tidings to thy mistress and I will quickly return to help thee in this matter.” At that instant Kasim’s widow seeing her brother-in-law, exclaimed, “O Ali Baba, what news bringest thou of my spouse? Alas, I see grief tokens written upon thy countenance. Say quickly what hath happened.” Then he recounted to her how it had fared with her husband and how he had been slain by the robbers and in what wise he had brought home the dead body.——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Twenty-ninth Night,

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that Ali Baba pursued:—“O my lady, what was to happen hath happened, 379but it behoveth us to keep this matter secret, for that our lives depend upon privacy.” She wept with sore weeping and made answer, “It hath fared with my husband according to the fiat of Fate; and now for thy safety’s sake I give thee my word to keep the affair concealed.” He replied, “Naught can avail when Allah hath decreed. Rest thee in patience; until the days of thy widowhood[46] be accomplisht; after which time I will take thee to wife, and thou shalt live in comfort and happiness; and fear not lest my first spouse vex thee or show aught of jealousy, for that she is kindly and tender of heart.” The widow lamenting her loss noisily, cried, “Be it as e’en thou please.” Then Ali Baba farewelled her, weeping and wailing for her husband; and joining Morgiana took counsel with her how to manage the burial of his brother. So, after much consultation and many warnings, he left the slave-girl and departed home driving his ass before him. As soon as Ali Baba had fared forth Morgiana went quickly to a druggist’s shop; and, that she might the better dissemble with him and not make known the matter, she asked of him a drug often administered to men when diseased with dangerous distemper. He gave it saying, “Who is there in thy house that lieth so ill as to require this medicine?” and said she, “My Master Kasim is sick well-nigh unto death: for many days he hath nor spoken nor tasted aught of food, so that almost we despair of his life.” Next day Morgiana went again and asked the druggist for more of medicine and essences such as are adhibited to the sick when at door of death, that the moribund may haply rally before the last breath. The man gave the potion and she taking it sighed aloud and wept, saying, “I fear me he may not have strength to drink this draught: methinks all will be over with him ere I return to the house.” Meanwhile Ali Baba was anxiously awaiting to hear sounds of wailing and lamentation in Kasim’s home that he 380might at such signal hasten thither and take part in the ceremonies of the funeral. Early on the second day Morgiana went with veiled face to one Bábá Mustafá,[47] a tailor well shotten in years whose craft was to make shrouds and cerecloths; and as soon as she saw him open his shop she gave him a gold piece and said, “Do thou bind a bandage over thine eyes and come along with me.” Mustafa made as though he would not go, whereat Morgiana placed a second gold coin in his palm and entreated him to accompany her. The tailor presently consented for greed of gain, so tying a kerchief tightly over his eyes she led him by the hand to the house wherein lay the dead body of her master. Then, taking off the bandage in the darkened room she bade him sew together the quarters of the corpse, limb to its limb; and, casting a cloth upon the body, said to the tailor, “Make haste and sew a shroud according to the size of this dead man and I will give thee therefor yet another ducat.” Baba Mustafa quickly made the cere cloth of fitting length and breadth, and Morgiana paid him the promised Ashrafi; then once more bandaging his eyes led him back to the place whence she had brought him. After this she returned hurriedly home and with the help of Ali Baba washed the body in warm water and donning the shroud lay the corpse upon a clean place ready for burial. This done Morgiana went to the mosque and gave notice to an Imám[48] that a funeral was awaiting the mourners in a certain household, and prayed that he would come to read the prayers for the dead; and the Imám went back with her. Then four neighbours took up the bier[49] and bore 381it on their shoulders and fared forth with the Imam and others who were wont to give assistance at such obsequies. After the funeral prayers were ended four other men carried off the coffin; and Morgiana walked before it bare of head, striking her breast and weeping and wailing with exceeding loud lament, whilst Ali Baba and the neighbours came behind. In such order they entered the cemetery and buried him; then, leaving him to Munkar and Nakir[50]—the Questioners of the Dead—all wended their ways. Presently the women of the quarter, according to the custom of the city, gathered together in the house of mourning and sat an hour with Kasim’s widow comforting and condoling, presently leaving her somewhat resigned and cheered. Ali Baba stayed forty days at home in ceremonial lamentation for the loss of his brother; so none within the town save himself and his wife (Kasim’s widow) and Morgiana knew aught about the secret. And when the forty days of mourning were ended Ali Baba removed to his own quarters all the property belonging to the deceased and openly married the widow; then he appointed his nephew, his brother’s eldest son, who had lived a long time with a wealthy merchant and was perfect of knowledge in all matters of trade, such as selling and buying, to take charge of the defunct’s shop and to carry on the business.——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Thirtieth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, it so chanced one day when the robbers, as was their wont, came to the treasure-cave that they marvelled exceedingly to find nor sign nor trace of Kasim’s body whilst they observed that much of gold had been carried off. Quoth the Captain, “Now it behoveth us to make 382enquiry in this matter; else shall we suffer much of loss and this our treasure, which we and our forefathers have amassed during the course of many years, will little by little be wasted and spoiled.” Hereto all assented and with single mind agreed that he whom they had slain had knowledge of the magical words whereby the door was made to open; moreover that some one beside him had cognizance of the spell and had carried off the body, and also much of gold; wherefore they needs must make diligent research and find out who the man ever might be. They then took counsel and determined that one amongst them, who should be sagacious and deft of wit, must don the dress of some merchant from foreign parts; then, repairing to the city he must go about from quarter to quarter and from street to street, and learn if any townsman had lately died and if so where he wont to dwell, that with this clue they might be enabled to find the wight they sought. Hereat said one of the robbers, “Grant me leave that I fare and find out such tidings in the town and bring thee word anon; and if I fail of my purpose I hold my life in forfeit.” Accordingly that bandit, after disguising himself by dress, pushed at night into the town and next morning early he repaired to the market-square and saw that none of the shops had yet been opened, save only that of Baba Mustafa the tailor, who thread and needle in hand sat upon his working-stool. The thief bade him good day and said, “’Tis yet dark: how canst thou see to sew?” Said the tailor, “I perceive thou art a stranger. Despite my years my eyesight is so keen that only yesterday I sewed together a dead body whilst sitting in a room quite darkened.” Quoth the bandit thereupon to himself, “I shall get somewhat of my want from this snip;” and to secure a further clue he asked, “Meseemeth thou wouldst jest with me and thou meanest that a cerecloth for a corpse was stitched by thee and that thy business is to sew shrouds.” Answered the tailor, “It mattereth not to thee: question me no more questions.” Thereupon the robber placed an Ashrafi 383in his hand and continued, “I desire not to discover aught thou hidest, albeit my breast like every honest man’s is the grave of secrets; and this only would I learn of thee, in what house didst thou do that job? Canst thou direct me thither, or thyself conduct me thereto?” The tailor took the gold with greed and cried, “I have not seen with my own eyes the way to that house. A certain bondswoman led me to a place which I know right well and there she bandaged my eyes and guided me to some tenement and lastly carried me into a darkened room where lay the dead body dismembered. Then she unbound the kerchief and bade me sew together first the corpse and then the shroud, which having done she again blindfolded me and led me back to the stead whence she had brought me and left me there. Thou seest then I am not able to tell thee where thou shalt find the house.” Quoth the robber, “Albeit thou knowest not the dwelling whereof thou speakest, still canst thou take me to the place where thou wast blindfolded; then I will bind a kerchief over thine eyes and lead thee as thou wast led: on this wise perchance thou mayest hit upon the site. An thou wilt do this favour by me, see here another golden ducat is thine.” Thereupon the bandit slipped a second Ashrafi into the tailor’s palm, and Baba Mustafa thrust it with the first into his pocket; then, leaving his shop as it was, he walked to the place where Morgiana had tied the kerchief around his eyes, and with him went the robber who, after binding on the bandage, led him by the hand. Baba Mustafa, who was clever and keen-witted, presently striking the street whereby he had fared with the handmaid, walked on counting step by step; then, halting suddenly, he said, “Thus far I came with her;” and the twain stopped in front of Kasim’s house wherein now dwelt his brother Ali Baba.——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Thirty-First Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that the robber then made marks with white chalk upon the door to the end that he might readily find it at some future time, and removing the bandage from the tailor’s eyes said, “O Baba Mustafa, I thank thee for this favour: and Almighty Allah guerdon thee for thy goodness. Tell me now, I pray thee, who dwelleth in yonder house?” Quoth he, “In very sooth I wot not, for I have little knowledge concerning this quarter of the city;” and the bandit, understanding that he could find no further clue from the tailor, dismissed him to his shop with abundant thanks, and hastened back to the tryst-place in the jungle where the band awaited his coming. Not long after it so fortuned that Morgiana, going out upon some errand, marvelled exceedingly at seeing the chalk-marks showing white in the door; she stood awhile deep in thought and presently divined that some enemy had made the signs that he might recognize the house and play some sleight upon her lord. She therefore chalked the doors of all her neighbours in like manner and kept the matter secret, never entrusting it or to master or to mistress. Meanwhile the robber told his comrades his tale of adventure and how he had found the clue; so the Captain and with him all the band went one after other by different ways till they entered the city; and he who had placed the mark on Ali Baba’s door accompanied the Chief to point out the place. He conducted him straightway to the house and shewing the sign exclaimed, “Here dwelleth he of whom we are in search!” But when the Captain looked around him he saw that all the dwellings bore chalk-marks after like fashion and he wondered saying, “By what manner of means knowest thou which house of all these houses that bear similar signs is that whereof thou spakest?” Hereat the robber-guide was confounded beyond measure of confusion, and could make no 385answer; then with an oath he cried, “I did assuredly set a sign upon a door, but I know not whence came all the marks upon the other entrances; nor can I say for a surety which it was I chalked.” Thereupon the Captain returned to the market-place and said to his men, “We have toiled and laboured in vain, nor have we found the house we went forth to seek. Return we now to the forest our rendezvous: I also will fare thither.” Then all trooped off and assembled together within the treasure-cave; and, when the robbers had all met, the Captain judged him worthy of punishment who had spoken falsely and had led them through the city to no purpose. So he imprisoned him in presence of them all;[51] and then said he, “To him amongst you will I show special favour who shall go to town and bring me intelligence whereby we may lay hands upon the plunderer of our property.” Hereat another of the company came forward and said, “I am ready to go and enquire into the case, and ’tis I who will bring thee to thy wish.” The Captain after giving him presents and promises despatched him upon his errand; and by the decree of Destiny which none may gainsay, this second robber went first to the house of Baba Mustafa the tailor, as had done the thief who had foregone him. In like manner he also persuaded the snip with gifts of golden coin that he be led hoodwinked and thus too he was guided to Ali Baba’s door. Here noting the work of his predecessor, he affixed to the jamb a mark with red chalk the better to distinguish it from the others whereon still showed the white. Then hied he back in stealth to his company; but Morgiana on her part also descried the red sign on the entrance and with subtle forethought marked all the others after the same fashion; nor told she any what she had done. Meanwhile the bandit rejoined his band and vauntingly 386said, “O our Captain, I have found the house and thereon put a mark whereby I shall distinguish it clearly from all its neighbours.”——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Thirty-second Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that the Captain despatched another of his men to the city and he found the place, but, as aforetime, when the troop repaired thither they saw each and every house marked with signs of red chalk. So they returned disappointed and the Captain, waxing displeased exceedingly and distraught, clapped also this spy into gaol. Then said the chief to himself, “Two men have failed in their endeavour and have met their rightful meed of punishment; and I trow that none other of my band will essay to follow up their research; so I myself will go and find the house of this wight,” Accordingly he fared along and aided by the tailor Baba Mustafa, who had gained much gain of golden pieces in this matter, he hit upon the house of Ali Baba; and here he made no outward show or sign, but marked it on the tablet[52] of his heart and impressed the picture upon the page of his memory. Then returning to the jungle he said to his men, “I have full cognizance of the place and have limned it clearly in my mind; so now there will be no difficulty in finding it. Go forth straightways and buy me and bring hither nineteen mules together with one large leathern jar of mustard oil and seven and thirty vessels of the same kind clean empty. Without me and the two locked up in gaol ye number thirty-seven souls; so I will stow you away armed and accoutred each within his jar and will load two upon each mule, and upon the nineteenth mule there shall be a man in an empty jar on one side, and on the other the jar full of oil. I for my part, in guise of an oil-merchant, will 387drive the mules into the town, arriving at the house by night, and will ask permission of its master to tarry there until morning. After this we shall seek occasion during the dark hours to rise up and fall upon him and slay him.” Furthermore the Captain spake saying, “When we have made an end of him we shall recover the gold and treasure whereof he robbed us and bring it back upon the mules.” This counsel pleased the robbers who went forthwith and purchased mules and huge leathern jars, and did as the Captain had bidden them. And after a delay of three days shortly before nightfall they arose; and over-smearing all the jars with oil of mustard, each hid him inside an empty vessel. The Chief then disguised himself in trader’s gear and placed the jars upon the nineteen mules; to wit, the thirty-seven vessels in each of which lay a robber armed and accoutred, and the one that was full of oil. This done, he drove the beasts before him and presently he reached Ali Baba’s place at nightfall; when it chanced that the house-master was strolling after supper to and fro in front of his home. The Captain saluted him with the salam and said, “I come from such and such a village with oil; and ofttimes have I been here a-selling oil, but now to my grief I have arrived too late and I am sore troubled and perplexed as to where I shall spend the night. An thou have pity on me I pray thee grant that I tarry here in thy courtyard and ease the mules by taking down the jars and giving the beasts somewhat of fodder.” Albeit Ali Baba had heard the Captain’s voice when perched upon the tree and had seen him enter the cave, yet by reason of the disguise he knew him not for the leader of the thieves, and granted his request with hearty welcome and gave him full license to halt there for the night. He then pointed out an empty shed wherein to tether the mules, and bade one of the slave-boys go fetch grain and water. He also gave orders to the slave-girl Morgiana saying, “A guest hath come hither and tarrieth here to-night. Do thou busy 388thyself with all speed about his supper and make ready the guest-bed for him.” Presently, when the Captain had let down all the jars and had fed and watered his mules, Ali Baba received him with all courtesy and kindness, and summoning Morgiana said in his presence, “See thou fail not in service of this our stranger nor suffer him to lack for aught. To-morrow early I would fare to the Hammam and bathe; so do thou give my slave-boy Abdullah a suit of clean white clothes which I may put on after washing; moreover make thee ready a somewhat of broth overnight that I may drink it after my return home.” Replied she, “I will have all in readiness as thou hast bidden.” So Ali Baba retired to his rest, and the Captain, having supped, repaired to the shed and saw that all the mules had their food and drink for the night.——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Thirty-third Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that the Captain, after seeing to the mules and the jars which Ali Baba and his household held to be full of oil, finding utter privacy, whispered to his men who were in ambush, “This night at midnight when ye hear my voice, do you quickly open with your sharp knives the leathern jars from top to bottom and issue forth without delay.” Then passing through the kitchen he reached the chamber wherein a bed had been dispread for him, Morgiana showing the way with a lamp. Quoth she, “An thou need aught beside I pray thee command this thy slave who is ever ready to obey thy say!” He made answer, “Naught else need I;” then, putting out the light, he lay him down on the bed to sleep awhile ere the time came to rouse his men and finish off the work. Meanwhile Morgiana did as her master had bidden her: she first took out a suit of clean white clothes and made it over to Abdullah who had not yet gone 389to rest; then she placed the pipkin upon the hearth to boil the broth and blew the fire till it burnt briskly. After a short delay she needs must see an the broth be boiling, but by that time all the lamps had gone out and she found that the oil was spent and that nowhere could she get a light. The slave-boy Abdullah observed that she was troubled and perplexed hereat, and quoth he to her, “Why make so much ado? In yonder shed are many jars of oil: go now and take as much soever as thou listest.” Morgiana gave thanks to him for his suggestion; and Abdullah, who was lying at his ease in the hall, went off to sleep so that he might wake betimes and serve Ali Baba in the bath. So the handmaiden rose[53] and with oil-can in hand walked to the shed where stood the leathern jars all ranged in rows. Now, as she drew nigh unto one of the vessels, the thief who was hidden therein hearing the tread of footsteps bethought him that it was of his Captain whose summons he awaited; so he whispered, “Is it now time for us to sally forth?” Morgiana started back affrighted at the sound of human accents; but, inasmuch as she was bold and ready of wit, she replied, “The time is not yet come,” and said to herself, “These jars are not full of oil and herein I perceive a manner of mystery. Haply the oil merchant hatcheth some treacherous plot against my lord; so Allah, the Compassionating, the Compassionate, protect us from his snares!” Wherefore she answered in a voice made like to the Captain’s, “Not yet, the time is not come.” Then she went to the next jar and returned the same reply to him who was within, and so on to all the vessels one by one. Then said she in herself, “Laud to the Lord! my master took this fellow in believing him to be an oil-merchant, but lo, he hath admitted a band of robbers, who only await the signal to fall 390upon him and plunder the place and do him die.” Then passed she on to the furthest jar and finding it brimming with oil, filled her can, and returning to the kitchen, trimmed the lamp and lit the wicks; then, bringing forth a large cauldron, she set it upon the fire, and filling it with oil from out the jar heaped wood upon the hearth and fanned it to a fierce flame the readier to boil its contents. When this was done she baled it out in potfuls and poured it seething hot into the leathern vessels one by one while the thieves unable to escape were scalded to death and every jar contained a corpse.[54] Thus did this slave-girl by her subtle wit make a clean end of all noiselessly and unknown even to the dwellers in the house. Now when she had satisfied herself that each and every of the men had been slain, she went back to the kitchen and shutting to the door sat brewing Ali Baba’s broth. Scarce had an hour passed before the Captain woke from sleep; and, opening wide his window, saw that all was dark and silent; so he clapped his hands as a signal for his men to come forth but not a sound was heard in return. After awhile he clapped again and called aloud but got no answer; and when he cried out a third time without reply he was perplexed and went out to the shed wherein stood the jars. He thought to himself, “Perchance all are fallen asleep whenas the time for action is now at hand, so I must e’en awaken them without stay or delay.” Then approaching the nearest jar he was startled by a smell of oil and seething flesh; and touching it outside he felt it reeking hot; then going to the others one by one, he found all in like condition. Hereat he knew for a surety the fate which had betided his band and, fearing for his own safety, he clomb on to the wall, and thence dropping into a garden made his escape in high dudgeon and sore 391disappointment. Morgiana awaited awhile to see the Captain return from the shed but he came not; whereat she knew that he had scaled the wall and had taken to flight, for that the street-door was double-locked; and the thieves being all disposed of on this wise Morgiana laid her down to sleep in perfect solace and ease of mind. When two hours of darkness yet remained, Ali Baba awoke and went to the Hammam knowing naught of the night adventure, for the gallant slave-girl had not aroused him, nor indeed had she deemed such action expedient, because had she sought an opportunity of reporting to him her plan, she might haply have lost her chance and spoiled the project. The sun was high over the horizon when Ali Baba walked back from the Baths; and he marvelled exceedingly to see the jars still standing under the shed and said, “How cometh it that he, the oil-merchant my guest, hath not carried to the market his mules and jars of oil?”——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Thirty-fourth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that Ali Baba presently asked Morgiana what had befallen the oil-merchant his guest whom he had placed under her charge; and she answered, “Allah Almighty vouchsafe to thee six score years and ten of safety! I will tell thee in privacy of this merchant.” So Ali Baba went apart with his slave-girl, who taking him without the house first locked the court-door; then showing him a jar she said, “Prithee look into this and see if within there be oil or aught else.” Thereupon peering inside it he perceived a man at which sight he cried aloud and fain would have fled in his fright. Quoth Morgiana, “Fear him not, this man hath no longer the force to work thee harm, he lieth dead and stone-dead.” Hearing such words of comfort and reassurance Ali Baba asked, “O Morgiana, what evils have we escaped and by what means hath this wretch become the 392quarry of Fate?” She answered “Alhamdolillah—Praise be to Almighty Allah!—I will inform thee fully of the case; but hush thee, speak not aloud, lest haply the neighbours learn the secret and it end in our confusion. Look now into all the jars, one by one from first to last.” So Ali Baba examined them severally and found in each a man fully armed and accoutred and all lay scalded to death. Hereat speechless for sheer amazement he stared at the jars, but presently recovering himself he asked, “And where is he, the oil-merchant?” Answered she, “Of him also I will inform thee. The villain was no trader but a traitorous assassin whose honied words would have ensnared thee to thy doom; and now I will tell thee what he was and what hath happened; but, meanwhile thou art fresh from the Hammam and thou shouldst first drink somewhat of this broth for thy stomach’s and thy health’s sake.” So Ali Baba went within and Morgiana served up the mess; after which quoth her master, “I fain would hear this wondrous story: prithee tell it to me and set my heart at ease.” Hereat the handmaid fell to relating whatso had betided in these words, “O my master, when thou badest me boil the broth and retiredst to rest, thy slave in obedience to thy command took out a suit of clean white clothes and gave it to the boy Abdullah; then kindled the fire and set on the broth. As soon as it was ready I had need to light a lamp so that I might see to skim it, but all the oil was spent, and, learning this I told my want to the slave-boy Abdullah, who advised me to draw somewhat from the jars which stood under the shed. Accordingly, I took a can and went to the first vessel when suddenly I heard a voice within whisper with all caution, ‘Is it now time for us to sally forth?’ I was amazed thereat and judged that the pretended merchant had laid some plot to slay thee; so I replied, ‘The time is not yet come.’ Then I went to the second jar and heard another voice to which I made the like answer, and so on with all of them. I now was certified that these men awaited only some signal from 393their Chief whom thou didst take to guest within thy walls supposing him to be a merchant in oil; and that after thou receivedst him hospitably the miscreant had brought these men to murther thee and to plunder thy good and spoil thy house. But I gave him no opportunity to win his wish. The last jar I found full of oil and taking somewhat therefrom I lit the lamp; then, putting a large cauldron upon the fire, I filled it up with oil which I brought from the jar and made a fierce blaze under it; and, when the contents were seething hot, I took out sundry cansful with intent to scald them all to death, and going to each jar in due order, I poured within them one by one boiling oil. On this wise having destroyed them utterly, I returned to the kitchen and having extinguished the lamps stood by the window watching what might happen, and how that false merchant would act next. Not long after I had taken my station, the robber-captain awoke and ofttimes signalled to his thieves. Then getting no reply he came downstairs and went out to the jars, and finding that all his men were slain he fled through the darkness I know not whither. So when he had clean disappeared I was assured that, the door being double-locked, he had scaled the wall and dropped into the garden and made his escape. Then with my heart at rest I slept.” And Morgiana, after telling her story to her master, presently added, “This is the whole truth I have related to thee. For some days indeed have I had inkling of such matter, but withheld it from thee deeming it inexpedient to risk the chance of its meeting the neighbours’ ears; now, however, there is no help but to tell thee thereof. One day as I came to the house-door I espied thereon a white chalk-mark, and on the next day a red sign beside the white. I knew not the intent wherewith the marks were made, nevertheless I set others upon the entrances of sundry neighbours, judging that some enemy had done this deed whereby to encompass my master’s destruction. Therefore I made the marks on all the other doors in such perfect conformity with those I found, that it 394would be hard to distinguish amongst them.”——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Thirty-fifth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that Morgiana continued to Ali Baba:—“Judge now and see if these signs and all this villainy be not the work of the bandits of the forest, who marked our house that on such wise they might know it again. Of these forty thieves there yet remain two others concerning whose case I know naught; so beware of them, but chiefly of the third remaining robber, their Captain, who fled hence alive. Take good heed and be thou cautious of him, for, shouldst thou fall into his hands, he will in no wise spare thee but will surely murther thee. I will do all that lieth in me to save from hurt and harm thy life and property, nor shall thy slave be found wanting in any service to my lord.” Hearing these words Ali Baba rejoiced with exceeding joyance and said to her, “I am well pleased with thee for this thy conduct; and say me what wouldst thou have me do in thy behalf; I shall not fail to remember thy brave deed so long as breath in me remaineth.” Quoth she, “It behoveth us before all things forthright to bury these bodies in the ground, that so the secret be not known to any one.” Hereupon Ali Baba took with him his slave-boy Abdullah into the garden and there under a tree they dug for the corpses of the thieves a deep pit in size proportionate to its contents, and they dragged the bodies (having carried off their weapons) to the fosse and threw them in; then, covering up the remains of the seven and thirty robbers they made the ground appear level and clean as it wont to be. They also hid the leathern jars and the gear and arms and presently Ali Baba sent the mules by ones and twos to the Bazar and sold them all with the able aid of his slave-boy Abdullah. Thus the matter 395was hushed up nor did it reach the ears of any; however, Ali Baba ceased not to be ill at ease lest haply the Captain or the surviving two robbers should wreak their vengeance on his head. He kept himself private with all caution and took heed that none learn a word of what had happened and of the wealth which he had carried off from the bandits’ cave. Meanwhile the Captain of the thieves having escaped with his life, fled to the forest in hot wrath and sore irk of mind; and his senses were scattered and the colour of his visage vanished like ascending smoke. Then he thought the matter over again and again, and at last he firmly resolved that he needs must take the life of Ali Baba, else he would lose all the treasure which his enemy, by knowledge of the magical words, would take away and turn to his own use. Furthermore, he determined that he would undertake the business single-handed; and, that after getting rid of Ali Baba, he would gather together another band of banditti and would pursue his career of brigandage, as indeed his forbears had done for many generations. So he lay down to rest that night, and rising early in the morning donned a dress of suitable appearance; then going to the city alighted at a caravanserai, thinking to himself, “Doubtless the murther of so many men hath reached the Wali’s ears, and Ali Baba hath been seized and brought to justice, and his house is levelled and his good is confiscated. The townsfolk must surely have heard tidings of these matters.” So he straightway asked of the keeper of the khán, “What strange things have happened in the city during the last few days?” and the other told him all that he had seen and heard, but the Captain could not learn a whit of that which most concerned him. Hereby he understood that Ali Baba was ware and wise, and that he had not only carried away such store of treasure but he had also destroyed so many lives and withal had come off scatheless; furthermore, that he himself must needs have all his wits alert not to fall into the hands of his foe and perish. With 396this resolve the Captain hired a shop in the Bazar, whither he bore whole bales of the finest stuffs and goodly merchandise from his forest treasure-house; and presently he took his seat within the store and fell to doing merchant’s business. By chance his place fronted the booth of the defunct Kasim where his son, Ali Baba’s nephew, now traded; and the Captain, who called himself Khwajah Hasan, soon formed acquaintance and friendship with the shopkeepers around about him and treated all with profuse civilities, but he was especially gracious and cordial to the son of Kasim, a handsome youth and a well-dressed, and ofttimes he would sit and chat with him for a long while. A few days after it chanced that Ali Baba, as he was sometime wont to do, came to see his nephew, whom he found sitting in his shop. The Captain saw and recognised him at sight and one morning he asked the young man, saying, “Prithee tell me, who is he that ever and anon cometh to thee at thy place of sale?” whereto the youth made answer, “He is my uncle, the brother of my father.” Whereupon the Captain showed him yet greater favour and affection the better to deceive him for his own devices, and gave him presents and made him sit at meat with him and fed him with the daintiest of dishes. Presently Ali Baba’s nephew bethought him it was only right and proper that he also should invite the merchant to supper, but whereas his own house was small, and he was straitened for room and could not make a show of splendour, as did Khwajah Hasan, he took counsel with his uncle on the matter.——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Thirty-sixth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that Ali Baba replied to his nephew:—“Thou sayest well: it behoveth thee to entreat thy friend in fairest fashion even as he hath entreated thee. On the morrow, which is Friday, shut thy shop as do all 397merchants of repute; then, after the early meal, take Khwajah Hasan to smell the air,[55] and as thou walkest lead him hither unawares; meanwhile I will give orders that Morgiana shall make ready for his coming the best of viands and all necessaries for a feast. Trouble not thyself on any wise, but leave the matter in my hands.” Accordingly on the next day, to wit, Friday, the nephew of Ali Baba took Khwajah Hasan to walk about the garden; and, as they were returning he led him by the street wherein his uncle dwelt. When they came to the house, the youth stopped at the door and knocking said, “O my lord, this is my second home: my uncle hath heard much of thee and of thy goodness me-wards and desireth with exceeding desire to see thee; so, shouldst thou consent to enter and visit him, I shall be truly glad and thankful to thee.” Albeit Khwajah Hasan rejoiced in heart that he had thus found means whereby he might have access to his enemy’s house and household, and although he hoped soon to attain his end by treachery, yet he hesitated to enter in and stood to make his excuses and walk away. But when the door was opened by the slave-porter, Ali Baba’s nephew seized his companion’s hand and after abundant persuasion led him in, whereat he entered with great show of cheerfulness as though much pleased and honoured. The house-master received him with all favour and worship and asked him of his welfare, and said to him, “O my lord, I am obliged and thankful to thee for that thou hast shewn favour to the son of my brother and I perceive that thou regardest him with an affection even fonder than my own.” Khwajah Hasan replied with pleasant words and said, “Thy nephew vastly taketh my fancy and in him I am well pleased, for that although young in years yet he hath been endued by Allah with much of wisdom.” Thus they twain conversed with friendly 398conversation and presently the guest rose to depart and said, “O my lord, thy slave must now farewell thee; but on some future day—Inshallah—he will again wait upon thee.” Ali Baba, however, would not let him leave and asked, “Whither wendest thou, O my friend? I would invite thee to my table and I pray thee sit at meat with us and after hie thee home in peace. Perchance the dishes are not as delicate as those whereof thou art wont to eat, still deign grant me this request I pray thee and refresh thyself with my victual.” Quoth Khwajah Hasan, “O my lord I am beholden to thee for thy gracious invitation, and with pleasure would I sit at meat with thee, but for a special reason must I needs excuse myself; suffer me therefore to depart for I may not tarry longer nor accept thy gracious offer.” Hereto the host made reply, “I pray thee, O my lord, tell me what may be the reason so urgent and weighty?” And Khwajah Hasan answered, “The cause is this: I must not, by order of the physician, who cured me lately of my complaint, eat aught of food prepared with salt.” Quoth Ali Baba, “An this be all, deprive me not, I pray thee, of the honour thy company will confer upon me: as the meats are not yet cooked, I will forbid the kitchener to make use of any salt. Tarry here awhile and I will return anon to thee.” So saying Ali Baba went in to Morgiana and bade her not put salt into any one of the dishes; and she, while busied with her cooking, fell to marvelling greatly at such order and asked her master, “Who is he that eateth meat wherein is no salt?” He answered, “What to thee mattereth it who he may be? only do thou my bidding.” She rejoined, “’Tis well: all shall be as thou wishest;” but in mind she wondered at the man who made such strange request and desired much to look upon him. Wherefore, when all the meats were ready for serving up, she helped the slave-boy Abdullah to spread the table and set on the meal; and no sooner did she see Khwajah Hasan than she knew who he was, albeit he had disguised himself in the dress 399of a stranger merchant; furthermore, when she eyed him attentively she espied a dagger hidden under his robe. “So ho!” quoth she to herself, “this is the cause why the villain eateth not of salt, for that he seeketh an opportunity to slay my master whose mortal enemy he is; howbeit I will be beforehand with him and despatch him ere he find a chance to harm my lord.”——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Thirty-seventh Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that Morgiana, having spread a white cloth upon the table and served up the meal, went back to the kitchen and thought out her plot against the robber-Captain. Now when Ali Baba and Khwajah Hasan had eaten their sufficiency, the slave-boy Abdullah brought Morgiana word to serve the dessert, and she cleared the table and set on fruit fresh and dried in salvers, then she placed by the side of Ali Baba a small tripod for three cups with a flagon of wine, and lastly she went off with the slave-boy Abdullah into another room, as though she would herself eat supper. Then Khwajah Hasan, that is, the Captain of the robbers, perceiving that the coast was clear, exulted mightily saying to himself, “The time hath come for me to take full vengeance; with one thrust of my dagger I will despatch this fellow, then escape across the garden and wend my ways. His nephew will not adventure to stay my hand, for an he do but move a finger or toe with that intent another stab will settle his earthly account. Still must I wait awhile until the slave-boy and the cook-maid shall have eaten and lain down to rest them in the kitchen.” Morgiana, however, watched him wistfully and divining his purpose said in her mind, “I must not allow this villain advantage over my lord, but by some means I must make void his project and at once put an end to the life of him.” Accordingly, 400the trusty slave-girl changed her dress with all haste and donned such clothes as dancers wear; she veiled her face with a costly kerchief; around her head she bound a fine turband, and about her middle she tied a waist-cloth worked with gold and silver wherein she stuck a dagger, whose hilt was rich in filigree and jewelry. Thus disguised she said to the slave-boy Abdullah, “Take now thy tambourine that we may play and sing and dance in honour of our master’s guest.” So he did her bidding and the twain went into the room, the lad playing and the lass following. Then, making a low congée, they asked leave to perform and disport and play; and Ali Baba gave permission, saying, “Dance now and do your best that this our guest may be mirthful and merry.” Quoth Khwajah Hasan, “O my lord, thou dost indeed provide much pleasant entertainment.” Then the slave-boy Abdullah standing by began to strike the tambourine whilst Morgiana rose up and showed her perfect art and pleased them vastly with graceful steps and sportive motion; and suddenly drawing the poniard from her belt she brandished it and paced from side to side, a spectacle which pleased them most of all. At times also she stood before them, now clapping the sharp-edged dagger under her armpit and then setting it against her breast. Lastly she took the tambourine from the slave-boy Abdullah, and still holding the poniard in her right she went round for largesse as is the custom amongst merry-makers. First she stood before Ali Baba who threw a gold coin into the tambourine, and his nephew likewise put in an Ashrafi; then Khwajah Hasan, seeing her about to approach him, fell to pulling out his purse, when she heartened her heart and quick as the blinding leven she plunged the dagger into his vitals, and forthwith the miscreant fell back stone-dead. Ali Baba was dismayed and cried in his wrath, “O unhappy, what is this deed thou hast done to bring about my ruin!” But she replied, “Nay, O my lord, rather to save thee and not to cause thee harm have I slain this man: loosen his garments and see what thou wilt discover thereunder.” 401So Ali Baba searched the dead man’s dress and found concealed therein a dagger. Then said Morgiana, “This wretch was thy deadly enemy. Consider him well: he is none other than the oil merchant, the Captain of the band of robbers. Whenas he came hither with intent to take thy life, he would not eat thy salt; and when thou toldest me that he wished not any in the meat I suspected him and at first sight I was assured that he would surely do thee die; Almighty Allah be praised ’tis even as I thought.” Then Ali Baba lavished upon her thanks and expressions of gratitude, saying, “Lo, these two times hast thou saved me from his hand,” and falling upon her neck he cried, “See thou art free, and as reward for this thy fealty I have wedded thee to my nephew.” Then turning to the youth he said, “Do as I bid thee and thou shalt prosper. I would that thou marry Morgiana, who is a model of duty and loyalty: thou seest now yon Khwajah Hasan sought thy friendship only that he might find opportunity to take my life, but this maiden with her good sense and her wisdom hath slain him and saved us.”——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Thirty-eighth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that Ali Baba’s nephew straightway consented to marry Morgiana. After which the three, raising the dead body bore it forth with all heed and vigilance and privily buried it in the garden, and for many years no one knew aught thereof. In due time Ali Baba married his brother’s son to Morgiana with great pomp, and spread a bride-feast in most sumptuous fashion for his friends and neighbours, and made merry with them and enjoyed singing and all manner of dancing and amusements. He prospered in every undertaking and Time smiled upon him and a new source of wealth was opened to him. For fear of the thieves he had not once visited the jungle-cave wherein 402lay the treasure, since the day he had carried forth the corpse of his brother Kasim. But some time after, he mounted his hackney one morning and journeyed thither, with all care and caution, till finding no signs of man or horse, and reassured in his mind he ventured to draw near the door. Then alighting from his beast he tied it up to a tree, and going to the entrance pronounced the words which he had not forgotten, “Open, O Simsim!” Hereat, as was its wont, the door flew open, and entering thereby he saw the goods and hoard of gold and silver untouched and lying as he had left them. So he felt assured that not one of all the thieves remained alive, and, that save himself there was not a soul who knew the secret of the place. At once he bound in his saddlecloth a load of Ashrafis such as his horse could bear and brought it home; and in after days he showed the hoard to his sons and sons’ sons and taught them how the door could be caused to open and shut. Thus Ali Baba and his household lived all their lives in wealth and joyance in that city where erst he had been a pauper, and by the blessing of that secret treasure he rose to high degree and dignities.——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till



The end of the Six Hundred and Thirty-ninth Night.

Then by the command of King Shahryar Queen Shahrazad began to tell in these words the story of


Under the reign of the Caliph Harun al-Rashid there dwelt in the city of Baghdad a certain merchant, ’Alí Khwájah hight, who had a small stock of goods wherewith he bought and sold and made a bare livelihood, abiding alone and without a family in the house of his forbears. Now so it came to pass that each night for three nights together he saw in vision a venerable Shaykh who bespake him thus, “Thou art beholden to make a pilgrimage to Meccah; why abidest thou sunk in heedless slumber and farest not forth as it behoveth thee?”[56] Hearing these words he became sore startled and affrighted, so that he sold shop and goods and all that he had; and, with firm intent to visit the Holy House of Almighty Allah, he let his home on hire and joined a caravan that was journeying to Meccah the Magnified. But ere he left his natal city he placed a thousand gold pieces, which were over and above his need for the journey, within an earthen jar filled up with Asáfírí[57] or Sparrow olives; and, having made fast the mouth thereof, he carried the jar to a merchant-friend of many years standing and said, “Belike, O 406my brother, thou hast heard tell that I purpose going with a caravan on pilgrimage to Meccah, the Holy City; so I have brought a jar of olives the which, I pray thee, preserve for me in trust against my return.” The merchant at once arose and handing the key of his warehouse to Ali Khwajah said, “Here, take the key and open the store and therein place the jar anywhere thou choosest, and when thou shalt come back thou wilt find it even as thou leftest it.” Hereupon Ali Khwajah did his friend’s bidding and locking up the door returned the key to its master. Then loading his travelling goods upon a dromedary and mounting a second beast he fared forth with the caravan. They came at length to Meccah the Magnified, and it was the month Zú al-Hijjah wherein myriads of Moslems hie thither on pilgrimage and pray and prostrate before the Ka’abah-temple. And when he had circuited the Holy House and fulfilled all the rites and ceremonies required of palmers, he set up a shop for sale of merchandise.[58] By chance two merchants passing along that street espied the fine stuffs and goods in Ali Khwajah’s booth and approved much of them and praised their beauty and excellence. Presently quoth one to other, “This man bringeth here most rare and costly goods: now in Cairo, the capital of Egypt-land would he get full value for them, and far more than in the markets of this city.” Hearing mention of Cairo, Ali Khwajah conceived a sore longing to visit that famous capital, so he gave up his intent of return Baghdad-wards and purposed wayfaring to Egypt. Accordingly he joined a caravan and arriving thither was well pleased with the place, both country and city; and selling his merchandise he made great gain therefrom. Then buying other goods and stuffs he purposed to make Damascus; but for one full month he tarried at Cairo and visited her sanctuaries 407and saintly places and after leaving her walls he solaced himself with seeing many famous cities distant several days’ journey from the capital along the banks of the River Nilus. Presently, bidding adieu to Egypt he arrived at the Sanctified House,[59] Jerusalem and prayed in the Temple of the Banu Isra’íl which the Moslems had re-edified. In due time he reached Damascus and observed that the city was well builded and much peopled, and that the fields and meads were well-watered with springs and channels and that the gardens and vergiers were laden with flowers and fruits. Amid such delights Ali Khwajah hardly thought of Baghdad; withal he ceased not to pursue his journey through Aleppo, Mosul and Shiráz, tarrying some time at all of these towns, especially at Shiráz, till at length after seven years of wayfaring he came back to Baghdad.——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Fortieth Night.

Then said she:——It behoveth thee now, O auspicious King, to hear of the Baghdad merchant and his lack of probity. For seven long years he never once thought of Ali Khwajah or of the trust committed to his charge; till one day as his wife sat at meat with him at the evening meal, their talk by chance was of olives. Quoth she to him, “I would now fain have some that I may eat of them;” and quoth he, “As thou speakest thereof I bethink me of that Ali Khwajah who seven years ago fared on a pilgrimage to Meccah, and ere he went left in trust with me a jar of Sparrowolives which still cumbereth the store-house. Who knoweth where he is or what hath betided him? A man who lately returned with the Hajj-caravan brought me word that Ali Khwajah had quitted Meccah the Magnified with intent to journey on to Egypt. Allah 408Almighty alone knoweth an he be still alive or he be now dead; however, if his olives be in good condition I will go bring some hither that we may taste them: so give me a platter and a lamp that I may fetch thee somewhat of them.” His wife, an honest woman and an upright, made answer, “Allah forbid that thou shouldst do a deed so base and break thy word and covenant. Who can tell? Thou art not assured by any of his death; perchance he may come back from Egypt safe and sound to-morrow or the day after; then wilt thou, an thou cannot deliver unharmed to him what he hath left in pledge, be ashamed of this thy broken troth and we shall be disgraced before man and dishonoured in the presence of thy friend. I will not for my part have any hand in such meanness nor will I taste the olives; furthermore, it standeth not to reason that after seven years’ keeping they should be fit to eat. I do implore thee to forswear this ill purpose.” On such wise the merchant’s wife protested and prayed her husband that he meddle not with Ali Khwajah’s olives, and shamed him of his intent so that for the nonce he cast the matter from his mind. However, although the trader refrained that evening from taking Ali Khwajah’s olives, yet he kept the design in memory until one day when, of his obstinacy and unfaith, he resolved to carry out his project; and rising up walked towards the store-room dish in hand. By chance he met his wife who said, “I am no partner with thee in this ill-action: in very truth some evil shall befal thee an thou do such deed.” He heard her but heeded her not; and, going to the store-room opened the jar and found the olives spoiled and white with mould; but presently he tilted up the jar and pouring some of its contents into the dish, suddenly saw an Ashrafi fall from the vessel together with the fruit. Then, filled with greed, he turned out all that was within into another jar and wondered with exceeding wonder to find the lower half full of golden coins. Presently, putting up the moneys and the olives he closed the vessel 409and going back said to his wife, “Thou spakest sooth, for I have examined the jar and have found the fruit mouldy and foul of smell; wherefore I returned it to its place and left it as it was aforetime.” That night the merchant could not sleep a wink for thinking of the gold and how he might lay hands thereon; and when morning morrowed he took out all the Ashrafis and buying some fresh olives in the Bazar filled up the jar with them and closed the mouth and set it in its usual place. Now it came to pass by Allah’s mercy that at the end of the month Ali Khwajah returned safe and sound to Baghdad; and he first went to his old friend, to wit, the merchant who, greeting him with feigned joy, fell on his neck, but withal was sore troubled and perplexed at what might happen. After salutations and much rejoicing on either part Ali Khwajah bespake the merchant on business and begged that he might take back his jar of Asafiri-olives which he had placed in charge of his familiar. Quoth the merchant to Ali Khwajah, “O my friend, I wot not where thou didst leave thy jar of olives; but here is the key, go down to the store-house and take all that is thine own.” So Ali Khwajah did as he was bidden and carrying the jar from the magazine took his leave and hastened home; but, when he opened the vessel and found not the gold coins, he was distracted and overwhelmed with grief and made bitter lamentation. Then he returned to the merchant and said, “O my friend, Allah, the All-present and the All-seeing, be my witness that, when I went on my pilgrimage to Meccah the Magnified, I left a thousand Ashrafis in that jar, and now I find them not. Canst thou tell me aught concerning them? An thou in thy sore need have made use of them, it mattereth not so thou wilt give them back as soon as thou art able.” The merchant, apparently pitying him, said, “O good my friend, thou didst thyself with thine hand set the jar inside the store-room. I wist not that thou hadst aught in it save olives; yet as thou didst leave it, so in like manner didst 410thou find it and carry it away; and now thou chargest me with theft of Ashrafis. It seemeth strange and passing strange that thou shouldst make such accusation. When thou wentest thou madest no mention of any money in the jar, but saidst that it was full of olives, even as thou hast found it. Hadst thou left gold coins therein, then surely thou wouldst have recovered them.” Hereupon Ali Khwajah begged hard with much entreaty, saying, “Those thousand Ashrafis were all I owned, the money earned by years of toil: I do beseech thee have pity on my case and give them back to me.” Replied the merchant, waxing wroth with great wrath, “O my friend, a fine fellow thou art to talk of honesty and withal make such false and lying charge. Begone: hie thee hence and come not to my house again; for now I know thee as thou art, a swindler and impostor.” Hearing this dispute between Ali Khwajah and the merchant all the people of the quarter came crowding to the shop.——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Forty-first Night,

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that the multitude which thronged about the merchant’s shop warmly took up the matter; and thus it became well known to all, rich and poor, within the city of Baghdad how that one Ali Khwajah had hidden a thousand Ashrafis within a jar of olives and had placed it on trust with a certain merchant; moreover how, after pilgrim-ageing to Meccah and seven years of travel the poor man had returned, and that the rich man had gainsaid his words anent the gold and was ready to make oath that he had not received any trust of the kind. At length, when naught else availed, Ali Khwajah was constrained to bring the matter before the Kazi, and to claim one thousand Ashrafis of his false friend. The Judge asked, “What witnesses hast thou who may speak for thee?” and 411the plaintiff answered, “O my lord the Kazi, I feared to tell the matter to any man lest all come to know of my secret. Allah Almighty is my sole testimony. This merchant was my friend and I recked not that he would prove dishonest and unfaithful.” Quoth the Judge, “Then must I needs send for the merchant and hear what he saith on oath;” and when the defendant came they made him swear by all he deemed holy, facing Ka’abah-wards with hands uplifted, and he cried, “I swear that I know naught of any Ashrafis belonging to Ali Khwajah.”[60] Hereat the Kazi pronounced him innocent and dismissed him from court; and Ali Khwajah went home sad at heart and said to himself, “Alas, what justice is this which hath been meted out to me, that I should lose my money, and my just cause be deemed unjust! It hath been truly said:—He loseth the lave who sueth before a knave.” On the next day he drew out a statement of his case; and, as the Caliph Harun al-Rashid was on his way to Friday-prayers, he fell down on the ground before him and presented to him the paper. The Commander of the Faithful read the petition and having understood the case deigned give order saying, “To-morrow bring the accuser and the accused to the audience-hall and place the petition before my presence, for I myself will enquire into this matter.” That night the Prince of True Believers, as was his wont, donned disguise to walk about the squares of Baghdad and its streets and lanes and, accompanied by Ja’afar the Barmaki and Masrúr the Sworder of his vengeance, proceeded to espy what happened in the city. Immediately on issuing forth he came upon an open place in the Bazar when he heard the hubbub of children a-playing and saw at scanty distance some ten or dozen boys making sport amongst themselves in the moonlight; and he stopped awhile to watch their diversion. Then one amongst the lads, a goodly and a fair-complexioned, said to the others, “Come now and let us 412play the game of Kazi: I will be the Judge; let one of you be Ali Khwajah, and another the merchant with whom he placed the thousand Ashrafis in pledge before faring on his pilgrimage: so come ye before me and let each one plead his plea.” When the Caliph heard the name of Ali Khwajah he minded him of the petition which had been presented to him for justice against the merchant, and bethought him that he would wait and see how the boy would perform the part of Kazi in their game and upon what decision he would decide. So the Prince watched the mock-trial with keen interest saying to himself, “This case hath verily made such stir within the city that even the children know thereof and re-act it in their sports.” Presently, he amongst the lads who took the part of Ali Khwajah the plaintiff and his playmate who represented the merchant of Baghdad accused of theft, advanced and stood before the boy who as the Kazi sat in pomp and dignity. Quoth the Judge, “O Ali Khwajah, what is thy claim against this merchant?” and the complainant preferred his charge in a plea of full detail. Then said the Kazi to the boy who acted merchant, “What answerest thou to this complaint and why didst thou not return the gold pieces?” The accused made reply even as the real defendant had done and denied the charge before the Judge, professing himself ready to take oath thereto. Then said the boy-Kazi, “Ere thou swear on oath that thou hast not taken the money, I would fain see for myself the jar of olives which the plaintiff deposited with thee on trust.” Then turning to the boy who represented Ali Khwajah he cried, “Go thou and instantly produce the jar that I may inspect it.” And when the vessel was brought the Kazi said to the two contentious, “See now and say me: be this the very jar which thou, the plaintiff, leftest with the defendant?” and both answered that it was one and the same. Then said the self-constituted Judge, “Open now the jar and bring hither some of the contents that I may see the state in which the Asafiri-olives actually are.” Then tasting of the fruit, “How is 413this? I find their flavour is fresh and their state excellent. Surely during the lapse of seven twelvemonths the olives would have become mouldy and rotten. Bring now before me two oil-merchants of the town that they may pass opinion upon them.” Then two other of the boys assumed the parts commanded and coming into court stood before the Kazi, who asked, “Are ye olive-merchants by trade?” They answered, “We are and this hath been our calling for many generations and in buying and selling olives we earn our daily bread.” Then said the Kazi, “Tell me now, how long do olives keep fresh and well-flavoured?” and said they, “O my lord, however carefully we keep them, after the third year they change flavour and colour and become no longer fit for food, in fact they are good only to be cast away.” Thereupon quoth the boy-Kazi, “Examine me now these olives that are in this jar and say me how old are they and what is their condition and savour.”——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Forty-second Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that the two boys who played the parts of oil-merchants pretended to take some berries from the jar and taste them and presently they said, “O our lord the Kazi, these olives are in fair condition and full-flavoured.” Quoth the Kazi, “Ye speak falsely, for ’tis seven years since Ali Khwajah put them in the jar as he was about to go a-pilgrimageing;” and quoth they, “Say whatso thou wilt, those olives are of this year’s growth, and there is not an oil-merchant in all Baghdad but who will agree with us.” Moreover the accused was made to taste and smell the fruits and he could not but admit that it was even so as they had avouched. Then said the boy-Kazi to the boy-defendant, “’Tis clear thou art a rogue and a rascal, and thou hast done a deed wherefor thou richly deservest the gibbet.” Hearing this the children frisked about and clapped their hands with glee 414and gladness, then seizing hold of him who acted as the merchant of Baghdad, they led him off as to execution. The Commander of the Faithful, Harun al-Rashid, was greatly pleased at this acuteness of the boy who had assumed the part of judge in the play, and commanded his Wazir Ja’afar saying, “Mark well the lad who enacted the Kazi in this mock-trial and see that thou produce him on the morrow: he shall try the case in my presence substantially and in real earnest, even as we have heard him deal with it in play. Summon also the Kazi of this city that he may learn the administration of justice from this child. Moreover send word to Ali Khwajah bidding him bring with him the jar of olives, and have also in readiness two oil-merchants of the town.” Thus as they walked along the Caliph gave orders to the Wazir and then returned to his palace. So on the morrow Ja’afar the Barmaki went to that quarter of the town where the children had enacted the mock-trial and asked the schoolmaster where his scholars might be, and he answered, “They have all gone away, each to his home.” So the Minister visited the houses pointed out to him and ordered the little ones to appear in his presence. Accordingly they were brought before him, when he said to them, “Who amongst you is he that yesternight acted the part of Kazi in play and passed sentence in the case of Ali Khwajah?” The eldest of them replied, “’Twas I, O my lord the Wazir;” and then he waxed pale, not knowing why the question was put. Cried the Minister, “Come along with me; the Commander of the Faithful hath need of thee.” At this the mother of the lad was sore afraid and wept; but Ja’afar comforted her and said, “O my lady, have no fear and trouble not thyself. Thy son will soon return to thee in safety, Inshallah—God willing—and methinks the Sultan will show much favour unto him.” The woman’s heart was heartened on hearing these words of the Wazir and she joyfully dressed her boy in his best attire and sent him off with the Wazir, who led him by the hand to the Caliph’s audience-hall and executed 415all the other commandments which had been issued by his liege lord. Then the Commander of the Faithful, having taken seat upon the throne of justice, set the boy upon a seat beside him, and as soon as the contending parties appeared before him, that is Ali Khwajah and the merchant of Baghdad, he commanded them to state each man his case in presence of the child who should adjudge the suit. So the two, plaintiff and defendant recounted their contention before the boy in full detail; and when the accused stoutly denied the charge and was about to swear on oath that what he said was true, with hands uplifted and facing Ka’abah-wards, the child-Kazi prevented him, saying, “Enough! swear not on oath till thou art bidden; and first let the jar of olives be produced in Court.” Forthwith the jar was brought forward and placed before him; and the lad bade open it; then, tasting one he gave also to two oil-merchants who had been summoned, that they might do likewise and declare how old was the fruit and whether its savour was good or bad. They did his bidding and said, “The flavour of these olives hath not changed and they are of this year’s growth.” Then said the boy, “Methinks ye are mistaken, for seven years ago Ali Khwajah put the olives into the jar: how then could fruit of this year find their way therein?” But they replied, “’Tis even as we say: an thou believe not our words send straightway for other oil-merchants and make enquiry of them, so shalt thou know if we speak sooth or lies.” But when the merchant of Baghdad saw that he could no longer avail to prove his innocence, he confessed everything; to wit, how he had taken out the Ashrafis and filled the jar with fresh olives. Hearing this the boy said to the Prince of True Believers, “O gracious Sovereign, last night in play we tried this cause, but thou alone hast power to apply the penalty. I have adjudged the matter in thy presence and I humbly pray that thou punish this merchant according to the law of the Koran and the custom of the Apostle; and thou decree the restoring of his thousand gold pieces to Ali Khwajah, for that 416he hath been proved entitled to them.”——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Forty-third Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that the Caliph ordered the merchant of Baghdad to be taken away and be hanged, after he should have made known where he had put the thousand Ashrafis and that these should have been restored to their rightful owner, Ali Khwajah. He also turned to the Kazi who had hastily adjudged the case, and bade him learn from that lad to do his duty more sedulously and conscientiously. Moreover the Prince of True Believers embraced the boy, and ordered that the Wazir give him a thousand pieces of gold from the royal treasury and conduct him safely to his home and parents.[61] And after, when the lad grew to man’s estate, the Commander of the Faithful made him one of his cup-companions and furthered his fortunes and ever entreated him with the highmost honour. But when Queen Shahrazad had ended the story of Ali Khwajah and the merchant of Baghdad she said, “Now, O auspicious King, I would relate a more excellent history than any, shouldst thou be pleased to hear that I have to say;” and King Shahryar replied, “By Allah! what an admirable tale is this thou hast told: my ears do long to hear another as rare and commendable.” So Shahrazad began forthright to recount the adventures of[62]



In days of yore and times long gone before there was a Sultan of India who begat three sons; the eldest hight Prince Husayn, the second Prince Ali, and the youngest Prince Ahmad; moreover he had a niece, named Princess Nur al-Nihár,[64] the daughter of his cadet brother who, dying early, left his only child under her uncle’s charge. The King busied himself with abundant diligence about her instruction and took all care that she should be taught to read and write, sew and embroider, sing and deftly touch all instruments of mirth and merriment. This Princess also in beauty and loveliness and in wit and wisdom far excelled all the maidens of her own age in every land. She was brought up with the Princes her cousins in all joyance; and they ate together and played together 420and slept together; and the king had determined in his mind that when she reached marriageable age he would give her in wedlock to some one of the neighbouring royalties; but, when she came to years of discretion, her uncle perceived that the three Princes his sons were all three deep in love of her, and each desired in his heart to woo and to win and to wed her. Wherefore was the King sore troubled in mind and said to himself, “An I give the Lady Nur al-Nihár in wedlock to any one of her cousins, the other twain will be dissatisfied and murmur against my decision; withal my soul cannot endure to see them grieved and disappointed. And should I marry her to some stranger the three Princes my sons will be sore distressed and saddened in soul; nay, who knoweth that they may not slay themselves or go forth and betake them to some far and foreign land? The matter is a troublous and a perilous; so it behoveth me their sire to take action on such wise that if one of them espouse her, the other two be not displeased thereat.” Long time the Sultan revolved the matter in his mind; and at length he devised a device; and, sending for the three Princes, addressed them saying, “O my sons, ye are in my opinion of equal merit one with other; nor can I give preference to any of you and marry him to the Princess Nur al-Nihar; nor yet am I empowered to wed her with all three. But I have thought of one plan whereby she shall be wife to one of you, and yet shall not cause aught of irk or envy to his brethren; so may your mutual love and affection remain unabated, and one shall never be jealous of the other’s happiness. Brief, my device is this:—Go ye and travel to distant countries, each one separating himself from the others; and do ye bring me back the thing most wondrous and marvellous of all sights ye may see upon your wayfarings; and he who shall return with the rarest of curiosities shall be husband to the Princess Nur al-Nihar. Consent ye now to this proposal; and whatso of money ye require for travel and for the purchase of objects seld-seen and singular, take ye from the royal treasury as much as ye desire.” 421The three Princes, who were ever submissive to their sire, consented with one voice to this proposal, and each was satisfied and confident that he would bring the King the most extraordinary of gifts and thereby win the Princess to wife. So the Sultan bade give to each what moneys he wanted without stint or account, and counselled them to make ready for the journey without stay or delay and depart their home in the Peace of Allah.——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Forty-fourth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that the three princely brothers forthright made them ready for journey and voyage. So they donned disguise, preferring the dress of wandering merchants; and, buying such things as they needed and taking with them each his suite they mounted steeds of purest blood and rode forth in a body from the palace. For several stages they travelled the same road until, reaching a place where it branched off in three different ways, they alighted at a Khan and ate the evening meal. Then they made compact and covenant, that whereas they had thus far travelled together they should at break of day take separate roads and each wend his own way and all seek different and distant regions, agreeing to travel for the space of one year only, after which, should they be in the land of the living, all three would rendezvous at that same caravanserai and return in company to the King their sire. Furthermore, they determined that the first who came back to the Khan should await the arrival of the next, and that two of them should tarry there in expectancy of the third. Then, all this matter duly settled, they retired to rest, and when the morning morrowed they fell on one another’s necks and bade farewell; and, lastly, mounting their horses, they rode forth each in his own direction. Now Prince Husayn, the eldest, had oft heard recount the wonders of the land Bishangarh[65], 422and for a long while had wished to visit it; so he took the road which led thither, and, joining himself to a caravan journeying that way, accompanied it by land and by water and traversed many regions, desert wilds and stony wolds, dense jungles and fertile tracts, with fields and hamlets and gardens and townships. After three months spent in wayfare at length he made Bishangarh, a region over-reigned by manifold rulers, so great was its extent and so far reaching was its power. He put up at a Khan built specially for merchants who came from the farthest lands, and from the folk who dwelt therein he heard tell that the city contained a large central market[66] wherein men bought and sold all manner of rarities and wondrous things. Accordingly, next day Prince Husayn 423repaired to the Bazar and on sighting it he stood amazed at the prospect of its length and width. It was divided into many streets, all vaulted over but lit up by skylights; and the shops on either side were substantially builded, all after one pattern and nearly of the same size, while each was fronted by an awning which kept off the glare and made a grateful shade. Within these shops were ranged and ordered various kinds of wares; there were bales of “woven air”[67] and linens of finest tissue, plain-white or dyed or adorned with life-like patterns wherefrom beasts and trees and blooms stood out so distinctly that one might believe them to be very ferals, bosquets and gardens. There were moreover silken goods, brocaded stuffs, and finest satins from Persia and Egypt of endless profusion; in the China warehouses stood glass vessels of all kinds, and here and there were stores wherein tapestries and thousands of foot-carpets lay for sale. So Prince Husayn walked on from shop to shop and marvelled much to see such wondrous things whereof he had never even dreamt: and he came at length to the Goldsmiths’ Lane and espied gems and jewels and golden and silvern vessels studded with diamonds and rubies, emeralds, pearls and other precious stones, all so lustrous and dazzling bright that the stores were lit up with their singular brilliancy. Hereat he said to himself, “If in one street only there be such wealth and jewels so rare, Allah Almighty and none save He knoweth what may be the riches in all this city.” He was not less astonished to behold the Brahmins, how their woman-kind for excess of opulence bedecked themselves with the finest gems and were ornamented with the richest gear from front to foot: their very slave-boys and handmaids wore golden necklaces and bracelets and bangles studded with precious stones. Along the length of one market-street were 424ranged hosts of flower-sellers; for all the folk, both high and low, wore wreaths and garlands: some carried nosegays in hand, other some bound fillets round their heads, while not a few had ropes and festoons surrounding and hanging from their necks. The whole place seemed one huge parterre of bloomery; even traders set bouquets in every shop and stall, and the scented air was heavy with perfume. Strolling to and fro Prince Husayn was presently tired and would fain have sat him down somewhere to rest awhile, when one of the merchants, noting his look of weariness, with kindly courtesy prayed him be seated in his store. After saluting him with the salam the stranger sat down; and anon he saw a broker come that way, offering for sale a carpet some four yards square, and crying, “This be for sale; who giveth me its worth; to wit, thirty thousand gold pieces?”——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Forty-fifth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that the Prince marvelled with excessive marvel at the price, and, beckoning the dealer, examined his wares right well; then said he, “A carpet such as this is selleth for a few silverlings. What special virtue hath it that thou demand therefor the sum of thirty thousand gold coins?” The broker, believing Husayn to be a merchant man lately arrived at Bishangarh, answered him saying, “O my lord, thinkest thou I price this carpet at too high a value? My master hath bidden me not to sell it for less than forty thousand Ashrafis.” Quoth the Prince, “It surely doth possess some wondrous virtue, otherwise wouldst thou not demand so prodigious a sum;” and quoth the broker, “’Tis true, O my lord, its properties are singular and marvellous. Whoever sitteth on this carpet and willeth in thought to be taken up and set down upon other site will, in the twinkling of an eye, be borne thither, 425be that place nearhand or distant many a day’s journey and difficult to reach.”[68] The Prince hearing these words said to himself, “Naught so wonder-rare as this rug can I carry back to the Sultan my sire to my gift, or any that afford him higher satisfaction and delight. Almighty Allah be praised, the aim of my wayfare is attained and hereby, Inshallah! I shall win to my wish. This, if anything, will be to him a joy for ever.” Wherefore the Prince, with intent to buy the Flying Carpet, turned to the broker and said, “If indeed it have properties such as thou describest, verily the price thou askest therefor is not over much, and I am ready to pay thee the sum required.” The other rejoined, “An thou doubt my words I pray thee put them to the test and by such proof remove thy suspicions. Sit now upon this square of tapestry, and at thy mere wish and will it shall transport us to the caravanserai wherein thou abidest: on this wise shalt 426thou be certified of my words being sooth, and when assured of their truth thou mayest count out to me, there and then, but not before, the value of my wares.” Accordingly, the man spread out the carpet upon the ground behind his shop and seated the Prince thereupon, he sitting by his side. Then, at the mere will[69] and wish of Prince Husayn, the twain were at once transported as though borne by the throne of Solomon to the Khan. So the eldest of the brothers joyed with exceeding joy to think that he had won so rare a thing, whose like could nowhere be found in the lands nor amongst the Kings; and his heart and soul were gladdened for that he had come to Bishangarh and hit upon such a prodigy. Accordingly he counted out the forty thousand Ashrafis as payment for the carpet, and gave, moreover, another twenty thousand by way of sweetmeat to the broker. Furthermore, he ceased not saying to himself that the King on seeing it would forthright wed him to the Princess Nur al-Nihar; for it were clear impossible that either of his brothers, e’en though they searched the whole world over and over, could find a rarity to compare with this. He longed to take seat upon the carpet that very instant and fly to his own country, or, at least, to await his brothers at the caravanserai where they had parted under promise and covenant, pledged and concluded, to meet again at the year’s end. But presently he bethought him that the delay would be long and 427longsome, and much he feared lest he be tempted to take some rash step; wherefore he resolved upon sojourning in the country whose King and subjects he had ardently desired to behold for many a day, and determined that he would pass the time in sight-seeing and in pleasuring over the lands adjoining. So Prince Husayn tarried in Bishangarh some months. Now the King of that country was wont to hold a high court once every week for hearing disputes and adjudging causes which concerned foreign merchants; and thus the Prince ofttimes saw the King, but to none would he tell a word of his adventure. However, inasmuch as he was comely of countenance, graceful of gait, and courteous of accost, stout hearted and strong, wise and ware and witty, he was held by the folk in higher honour than the Sultan; not to speak of the traders his fellows; and in due time he became a favourite at court and learned of the ruler himself all matters concerning his kingdom and his grandeur and greatness. The Prince also visited the most famous Pagodas[70] of that country. The first he saw was wrought in brass and orichalch of most exquisite workmanship: its inner cell measured three yards square and contained amiddlemost a golden image in size and stature like unto a man of wondrous beauty; and so cunning was the workmanship that the face seemed to fix its eyes, two immense rubies of enormous value, upon all beholders no matter where they stood.[71] He also saw another idol-temple, not less strange and rare than this, builded in a village on a plain surface of some half acre long and broad, wherein bloomed lovely rose-trees and jasmine and herb-basil 428and many other sweet-scented plants, whose perfume made the air rich with fragrance. Around its court ran a wall three feet high, so that no animal might stray therein; and in the centre was a terrace well-nigh the height of a man, all made of white marble and wavy alabaster, each and every slab being dressed so deftly and joined with such nice joinery that the whole pavement albeit covering so great a space, seemed to the sight but a single stone. In the centre of the terrace stood the domed fane towering some fifty cubits high and conspicuous for many miles around: its length was thirty cubits and its breadth twenty, and the red marbles of the revetment were clean polished as a mirror, so that every image was reflected in it to the life. The dome was exquisitely carved and sumptuously ornamented without; and within were ranged in due rank and sequence rows and rows of idols. To this, the Holy of Holies, from morn till eve thousands of Brahmins, men and women, came flocking for daily worship. They had sports and diversions as well as rites and ceremonies: some feasted and others danced, some sang, others played on instruments of mirth and merriment, while here and there were plays and revels and innocent merry-makings. And hither at every season flocked from distant lands hosts of pilgrims seeking to fulfil their vows and to perform their orisons; all bringing gifts of gold and silver coin and presents rare and costly which they offered to the gods in presence of the royal officers.——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Forty-sixth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that Prince Husayn also saw a fête held once a year within the city of Bishangarh, and the Ryots all, both great and small, gathered together and circumambulated the Pagodas; chiefly circuiting one which 429in size and grandeur surpassed all others. Great and learned Pandits versed in the Shástras[72] made journeys of four or five months and greeted one another at that festival; thither too the folk from all parts of India pilgrimaged in such crowds that Prince Husayn was astounded at the sight; and, by reason of the multitudes that thronged around the temples, he could not see the mode in which the gods were worshipped. On one side of the adjacent plain which stretched far and wide, stood a new-made scaffolding of ample size and great magnificence, nine storeys high, and the lower part supported by forty pillars; and here one day in every week the King assembled his Wazirs for the purpose of meting out justice to all strangers in the land. The palace within was richly adorned and furnished with costly furniture: without, upon the wall-faces were limned homely landscapes and scenes of foreign parts and notably all manner beasts and birds and insects even gnats and flies, portrayed with such skill of brain and cunning of hand that they seemed real and alive and the country-folk and villagers seeing from afar paintings of lions and tigers and similar ravenous beasts, were filled with awe and dismay. On the three other sides of the scaffolding were pavilions, also of wood, built for use of the commons, illuminated and decorated inside and outside like the first, and wroughten so cunningly that men could turn them round, with all the people in them, and moving them about transfer them to whatsoever quarter they willed. On such wise they shifted these huge buildings by aid of machinery;[73] and the folk inside could look upon a succession of sports and games. Moreover, on each side of the square elephants were ranged in ranks, the number amounting to well-nigh one thousand, 430their trunks and ears and hinder parts being painted with cinnabar and adorned with various lively figures; their housings were of gold brocade and their howdahs purfled with silver, carrying minstrels who performed on various instruments, whilst buffoons delighted the crowd with their jokes and mimes played their most diverting parts. Of all the sports, however, which the Prince beheld, the elephant-show amused him most and filled him with the greatest admiration. One huge beast, which could be wheeled about where the keepers ever listed, for that his feet rested upon a post which travelled on casters, held in his trunk a flageolet whereon he played so sweetly well that all the people were fain to cry Bravo! There was another but a smaller animal which stood upon one end of a beam laid crosswise upon, and attached with hinges to, a wooden block eight cubits high, and on the further end was placed an iron weight as heavy as the elephant, who would press down for some time upon the beam until the end touched the ground, and then the weight would raise him up again.[74] Thus the beam swung like a see-saw aloft and adown; and, as it moved, the elephant swayed to and fro and kept time with the bands of music, loudly trumpeting the while. The people moreover could wheel about this elephant from place to place as he stood balanced on the beam; and such exhibitions of learned elephants were mostly made in presence of the King. Prince Husayn spent well-nigh a year in sight-seeing amongst the fairs and festivals of Bishangarh; and, when the period of the fraternal compact drew near, he spread his carpet upon the courtground behind the Khan wherein he lodged, and sitting thereon, together with the suite and the steeds and all he had brought with him, mentally wished that he might be transported to the caravanserai where the three brothers had agreed to meet. No sooner 431had he formed the thought than straightway, in the twinkling of an eye, the carpet rose high in air and sped through space and carried them to the appointed stead where, still garbed as a merchant he remained in expectation of his brothers’ coming. Hearken now, O auspicious King, to what befel Prince Ali, the second brother of Prince Husayn. On the third day after he had parted from the two others, he also joined a caravan and journeyed towards Persia; then, after a march of four months arriving at Shiraz, the capital of Iran-land, he alighted at a Khan, he and his fellow-travellers with whom he had made a manner of friendship; and, passing as a jeweller, there took up his abode with them. Next day the traders fared forth to buy wares and to sell their goods; but Prince Ali, who had brought with him naught of vendible, and only the things he needed, presently doffed his travelling dress, and in company with a comrade of the caravan entered the chief Bazar, known as the Bazistán,[75] or cloth-market. Ali strolled about the place, which was built of brick and where all the shops had arched roofs resting on handsome columns; and he admired greatly to behold the splendid store-houses exposing for sale all manner goods of countless value. He wondered much what wealth was in the town if a single market-street contained riches such as these. And as the brokers went about crying their goods for sale, he saw one of them hending in hand an ivory tube in length about a cubit, which he was offering for sale at the price of thirty thousand Ashrafis. Hearing such demand Prince Ali thought to himself, “Assuredly this fellow is a fool who asketh such a price for so paltry a thing.”——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Forty-seventh Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that Prince Ali presently asked one of the shopkeepers with whom he had made acquaintance, saying, “O my friend, is this man a maniac that he asketh a sum of thirty thousand Ashrafis for this little pipe of ivory? Surely none save an idiot would give him such a price and waste upon it such a mint of money.” Said the shopman, “O my lord, this broker is wiser and warier than all the others of his calling, and by means of him I have sold goods worth thousands of sequins. Until yesterday he was in his sound senses; but I cannot say what state is his to-day and whether or no he have lost his wits; but this wot I well, that if he ask thirty thousand for yon ivory tube, ’twill be worth that same or even more. Howbeit we shall see with our own eyes. Sit thee here and rest within the shop until he pass this way.” So Prince Ali took where he was bidden and presently the broker was seen coming up the street. Then the shopman calling to him said, “O man, rare merit hath yon little pipe; for all the folk are astounded to hear thee ask so high a price therefor; nay more, this friend of mine thinketh that thou art crazy.” The broker, a man of sense, was on no wise chafed at these words but answered with gentle speech, “O my lord, I doubt not but that thou must deem me a madman to ask so high a price, and set so great a value upon an article so mean; but when I shall have made known to thee its properties and virtues, thou wilt most readily consent to take it at that valuation. Not thou alone but all men who have heard me cry my cry laugh and name me ninny.” So saying, the broker showed the Spying Tube to Prince Ali and handing it to him said, “Examine well this ivory, the properties of which I will explain to thee. Thou seest that it is furnished with a piece of glass at either end;[76] and, shouldst 433thou apply one extremity thereof to thine eye, thou shalt see what thing soe’er thou listest and it shall appear close by thy side though parted from thee by many an hundred of miles.” Replied the Prince “This passeth all conception, nor can I believe it to be veridical until I shall have tested it and I become satisfied that ’tis even as thou sayest.” Hereupon the broker placed the little tube in Prince Ali’s hand, and showing him the way to handle it said, “Whatso thou mayest wish to descry will be shown to thee by looking through this ivory.” Prince Ali silently wished to sight his sire, and when he placed the pipe close to his eye forthwith he saw him hale and hearty, seated on his throne and dispensing justice to the people of his dominion. Then the youth longed with great longing to look upon his lady-love the Princess Nur al-Nihar; and straightway he saw her also sitting upon her bed, sound and sane, talking and laughing, whilst a host of handmaids stood around awaiting her commands. The Prince was astonished exceedingly to behold this strange and wondrous spectacle, and said to himself, “An I should wander the whole world over for ten years or more and search in its every corner and cranny, I shall never find aught so rare and precious as this tube of ivory.” Then quoth he to the broker, “The virtues of thy pipe I find are indeed those thou hast described, and 434right willingly I give thee to its price the thirty thousand Ashrafis.” Replied the salesman, “O my lord, my master hath sworn an oath that he will not part with it for less than forty thousand gold pieces.” Hereupon the Prince, understanding that the broker was a just man and a true, weighed out to him the forty thousand sequins and became master of the Spying Tube, enraptured with the thought that assuredly it would satisfy his sire and obtain for him the hand of Princess Nur al-Nihar. So with mind at ease Ali journeyed through Shiraz and over sundry parts of Persia; and in fine, when the year was well-nigh spent he joined a caravan and, travelling back to India, arrived safe and sound at the appointed caravanserai whither Prince Husayn had foregone him. There the twain tarried awaiting the third brother’s safe return. Such, O King Shahryar, is the story of the two brothers; and now I beseech thee incline thine ear and hearken to what befel the youngest, to wit Prince Ahmad; for indeed his adventure is yet more peregrine and seld-seen of all. When he had parted from his brothers, he took the road leading to Samarkand; and, arriving there after long travel, he also like his brothers alighted at a Khan. Next day he fared forth to see the market-square, which folk call the Bazistan, and he found it fairly laid out, the shops wroughten with cunning workmanship and filled with rare stuffs and precious goods and costly merchandise. Now as he wandered to and fro he came across a broker who was hawking a Magical Apple and crying aloud, “Who will buy this fruit, the price whereof be thirty-five thousand gold pieces?” Quoth Prince Ahmad to the man, “Prithee let me see the fruit thou holdest in hand, and explain to me what hidden virtue it possesseth that thou art asking for it so high a value.” Quoth the other, smiling and handing to him the apple, “Marvel not at this, O good my lord: in sooth I am certified that when I shall have explained its properties and thou shalt see how it advantageth all mankind, thou wilt not deem my demand exorbitant; nay, rather thou wilt gladly give a treasure-house of 435gold so thou may possess it.”——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Forty-eighth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that the broker said moreover to Prince Ahmad, “Now hearken to me, O my lord, and I will tell thee what of virtue lieth in this artificial apple. If anyone be sick of a sickness however sore, nay more if he be ill nigh unto death, and perchance he smell this pome, he will forthwith recover and become well and whole of whatsoever disease he had, plague or pleurisy, fever or other malignant distemper, as though he never had been attacked; and his strength will return to him forthright, and after smelling this fruit he will be free from all ailment and malady so long as life shall remain to him.” Quoth Prince Ahmad, “How shall I be assured that what thou speakest is truth? If the matter be even as thou sayest, then verily I will give thee right gladly the sum thou demandest.” Quoth the broker, “O my lord, all men who dwell in the parts about Samarkand know full well how there once lived in this city a sage of wondrous skill who, after many years of toil and travail, wrought this apple by mixing medicines from herbs and minerals countless in number. All his good, which was great, he expended upon it, and when he had perfected it he made whole thousands of sick folk whom he directed only to smell the fruit. But, alas! his life presently came to an end and death overtook him suddenly ere he could save himself by the marvellous scent; and, as he had won no wealth and left only a bereaved wife and a large family of young children and dependants manifold, his widow had no help but provide for them a maintenance by parting with this prodigy.” While the salesman was telling his tale to the Prince a crowd of citizens gathered around them and one amongst the folk, who was well known to the broker, came forward and said, “A friend of mine lieth at home sick to the death: the doctors and surgeons all 436despair of his life; so I beseech thee let him smell this fruit that he may live.” Hearing these words, Prince Ahmad turned to the salesman and said, “O my friend, if this sick man of whom thou hearest can recover strength by smelling the apple, then will I straightway buy it of thee at a valuation of forty thousand Ashrafis.” The man had permission to sell it for a sum of thirty-five thousand; so he was satisfied to receive five thousand by way of brokerage, and he rejoined, “’Tis well, O my lord; now mayest thou test the virtues of this apple and be persuaded in thy mind: hundreds of ailing folk have I made whole by means of it.” Accordingly the Prince accompanied the people to the sick man’s house and found him lying on his bed with the breath in his nostrils; but, as soon as the dying man smelt the fruit, at once recovering strength he rose in perfect health, sane and sound. Hereupon Ahmad bought the Magical Apple of the dealer and counted out to him the forty thousand Ashrafis. Presently, having gained the object of his travels, he resolved to join some caravan marching Indiawards and return to his father’s home; but meanwhile he resolved to solace himself with the sights and marvels of Samarkand. His especial joy was to gaze upon the glorious plain hight Soghd,[77] one of the wonders of this world: the land on all sides was a delight to the sight, emerald-green and bright, with crystal rills like the plains of Paradise; the gardens bore all manner flowers and fruits and the cities and palaces gladdened the stranger’s gaze. 437After some days Prince Ahmad joined a caravan of merchants wending Indiawards; and, when his long and longsome travel was ended, he at last reached the caravanserai where his two brothers, Husayn and Ali, impatiently awaited his arrival. The three rejoiced with exceeding joy to meet once more and fell on one another’s necks; thanking Allah who had brought them back safe and sound, hale and hearty, after such prolonged and longsome absence. Then Prince Husayn, being the eldest, turned to them and said, “Now it behoveth us each to recount what hath betided him and announce what rare thing he hath brought back and what be the virtues thereof; and I, being the first-born, will be the foremost to tell my adventures. I bring with me from Bishangarh, a carpet, mean to look at, but such are its properties that should any sit thereon and wish in mind to visit country or city, he will at once be carried thither in ease and safety although it be distant months, nay years of journey. I have paid forty thousand gold pieces to its price; and, after seeing all the wonders of Bishangarh-land, I took seat upon my purchase and willed myself at this spot. Straightway I found myself here as I wished and have tarried in this caravanserai three months awaiting your arrival. The flying carpet is with me; so let him who listeth make trial of it.” When the senior Prince had made an end of telling his tale, Prince Ali spake next and said, “O my brother, this carpet which thou hast brought is marvel-rare and hath most wondrous gifts; nor according to thy statement hath any in all the world seen aught to compare with it.” Then bringing forth the Spying Tube, he pursued, “Look ye here, I too have bought for forty thousand Ashrafis somewhat whose merits I will now show forth to you.”——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Forty-ninth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that Prince Ali enlarged upon the virtues of his purchase and said:—“Ye see 438this ivory pipe? By means of it man may descry objects hidden from his sight and distant from him many a mile. ’Tis truly a most wondrous matter and right worthy your inspection, and you two may try it an ye will. Place but an eye close to the smaller glass and form a wish in mind to see what thing soe’er your soul desireth; and, whether it be near hand or distant many hundreds of miles, this ivory will make the object look clear and close to you.” At these words Prince Husayn took the pipe from Prince Ali and, applying his eye to one end as he had been directed, then wished in his heart to behold the Princess Nur al-Nihar;[78] and the two brothers watched him to learn what he would say. Suddenly they saw his face change colour and wither as a wilted flower, while in his agitation and distress a flood of tears gushed from his eyes; and, ere his brothers recovered from their amazement and could enquire the cause of such strangeness, he cried aloud, “Alas! and well-away. We have endured toil and travail, and we have travelled so far and wide hoping to wed the Princess Nur al-Nihar. But ’tis all in vain: I saw her lying on her bed death-sick and like to breathe her last and around her stood her women all weeping and wailing in the sorest of sorrow. O my brothers, an ye would see her once again for the last time, take ye one final look through the glass ere she be no more.” Hereat Prince Ali seized the Spying Tube and peered through it and found the condition of the Princess even as his brother Husayn had described; so he presently passed it over to Prince Ahmad, who also looked and was certified that the Lady Nur al-Nihar was about to give up the ghost. So he said to his elder brothers, “We three are alike love-distraught for the Princess and the dearest wish of each one 439is to win her. Her life is on the ebb, still I can save her and make her whole if we hasten to her without stay or delay.” So saying he pulled from his pocket the Magical Apple and showed it to them crying, “This thing is not less in value than either the Flying Carpet or the Spying Tube. In Samarkand I bought it for forty thousand gold pieces and here is the best opportunity to try its virtues. The folk told me that if a sick man hold it to his nose, although on the point of death, he will wax at once well and hale again: I have myself tested it, and now ye shall see for yourselves its marvel-cure when I shall apply it to the case of Nur al-Nihar. Only, let us seek her presence ere she die.” Quoth Prince Husayn, “This were an easy matter: my carpet shall carry us in the twinkling of an eye straight to the bedside of our beloved. Do ye without hesitation sit down with me thereupon, for there is room sufficient to accommodate us three; we shall instantly be carried thither and our servants can follow us.” Accordingly, the three Princes disposed themselves upon the Flying Carpet and each willed in his mind to reach the bedside of Nur al-Nihar, when instantly they found themselves within her apartment. The handmaids and eunuchs in waiting were terrified at the sight and marvelled how these stranger men could have entered the chamber; and, as the Castratos were fain fall upon them, brand in hand, they recognised the Princes and drew back still in wonderment at their intrusion. Then the brothers rose forthright from the Flying Carpet and Prince Ahmad came forwards and put the Magical Apple to the nostrils of the lady, who lay stretched on the couch in unconscious state; and as the scent reached her brain the sickness left her and the cure was complete. She opened wide her eyes and sitting erect upon her bed looked all around and chiefly at the Princes as they stood before her; for she felt that she had waxed hale and hearty and as though she awoke after the sweetest of slumber. Presently she rose from her couch and bade her tire-women dress her the while they related to her 440the sudden coming of the three Princes, her uncle’s sons, and how Prince Ahmad had made her smell something whereby she had recovered of her illness. And after she had made the Ablution of Health she joyed with exceeding joy to see the Princes and returned thanks to them, but chiefly to Prince Ahmad in that he had restored her to health and life.——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Fiftieth Night.

Then she said:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that the brothers also were gladdened with exceeding gladness to see the Princess Nur al-Nihar recover so suddenly from mortal malady; and, presently taking leave of her, they fared to greet their father. Meanwhile the Eunuchs had reported the whole matter to the Sultan, and when the Princes came before him he rose and embraced them tenderly and kissed them on their foreheads, filled with satisfaction to see them again and to hear from them the welfare of the Princess, who was dear to him as she had been his daughter. Then the three brothers produced each one the wondrous thing he had brought from his wayfare; and Prince Husayn first showed the Flying Carpet which in the twinkling of an eye had transported them home from far distant exile and said, “For outward show this carpet hath no merit, but inasmuch as it possesseth such wondrous virtue, methinks ’tis impossible to find in all the world aught that can compare to it for rarity.” Next, Prince Ali presented to the King his Spying Tube and said, “The mirror of Jamshíd[79] is as vain and naught beside this pipe, by means whereof all things from East to West and from North to 441South are made clearly visible to the ken of man.” Last of all, Prince Ahmad produced the Magical Apple which wondrously saved the dear life of Nur al-Nihar and said, “By means of this fruit all maladies and grievous distempers are at once made whole.” Thus each presented his rarity to the Sultan, saying, “O our lord, deign examine well these gifts we have brought and do thou pronounce which of them all is most excellent and admirable; so, according to thy promise, he amongst us on whom thy choice may fall shall marry the Princess Nur al-Nihar.” When the King had patiently listened to their several claims and had understood how each gift took part in restoring health to his niece, for a while he dove deep in the sea of thought and then answered, “Should I award the palm of merit to Prince Ahmad, whose Magical Apple cured the Princess, then should I deal unfairly by the other two. Albeit his rarity restored her to life and health from mortal illness, yet say me how had he known of her condition save by the virtue of Prince Ali’s Spying Tube? In like manner, but for the Flying Carpet of Prince Husayn, which brought you three hither in a moment’s space, the Magical Apple would have been of no avail. Wherefore ’tis my rede all three had like part and can claim equal merit in healing her; for it were impossible to have made her whole if any one thing of the three were wanting; furthermore all three objects are wondrous and marvellous without one surpassing other, nor can I, with aught of reason, assign preference or precedence to any. My promise was to marry the Lady Nur al-Nihar to him who should produce the rarest of rarities, but although strange ’tis not less true that all are alike in the one essential condition. The difficulty still remaineth and the question is yet unsolved, whilst I fain would have the matter settled ere the close of day, and without prejudice to any. So needs must I fix upon some plan whereby I may be able to adjudge one of you to be the winner, and bestow upon him the hand of Princess Nur al-Nihar, according to my plighted word; and thus absolve myself from all 442responsibility. Now I have resolved upon this course of action; to wit, that ye should mount each one his own steed and all of you be provided with bow and arrows; then do ye ride forth to the Maydán—the hippodrome—whither I and my Ministers of State and Grandees of the kingdom and Lords of the land will follow you. There in my presence ye shall each, turn by turn, shoot a shaft with all your might and main; and he amongst you whose arrow shall fly the farthest will be adjudged by me worthiest to win the Princess Nur al-Nihar to wife.” Accordingly the three Princes, who could not gainsay the decision of their sire nor question its wisdom and justice, backed their coursers, and each taking his bow and arrows made straight for the place appointed. The King also, when he had stored the presents in the royal treasury, arrived there with his Wazirs and the dignitaries of his realm; and as soon as all was ready, the eldest son and heir, Prince Husayn, essayed his strength and skill and shot a shaft far along the level plain. After him Prince Ali hent his bow in hand and, discharging an arrow in like direction, overshot the first; and lastly came Prince Ahmad’s turn. He too aimed at the same end, but such was the decree of Destiny, that although the knights and courtiers urged on their horses to note where his shaft might strike ground, withal they saw no trace thereof and none of them knew if it had sunk into the bowels of earth or had flown up to the confines of the sky. Some, indeed, there were who with evil mind held that Prince Ahmad had not shot any bolt, and that his arrow had never left his bow. So at last the King bade no more search be made for it and declared himself in favour of Prince Ali and adjudged that he should wed the Princess Nur al-Nihar, forasmuch as his arrow had outsped that of Prince Husayn. Accordingly, in due course the marriage rites and ceremonies were performed after the law and ritual of the land with exceeding pomp and grandeur. But Prince Husayn would not be present at the bride-feast by reason of his disappointment and jealousy, for he had 443loved the Lady Nur al-Nihar with a love far exceeding that of either of his brothers; and he doffed his princely dress and donning the garb of a Fakir fared forth to live a hermit’s life. Prince Ahmad also burned with envy and refused to join the wedding-feast: he did not, however, like Prince Husayn, retire to a hermitage, but he spent all his days in searching for his shaft to find where it had fallen. Now it so fortuned that one morning he went again, alone as was his wont, in quest thereof, and starting from the stead whence they had shot their shafts reached the place where the arrows of Princes Husayn and Ali had been found. Then going straight forwards he cast his glances on every side over hill and dale to his right and to his left——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Fifty-first Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that Prince Ahmad went searching for his shaft over hill and dale when, after covering some three parasangs, suddenly he espied it lying flat upon a rock.[80] Hereat he marvelled greatly, wondering how the arrow had flown so far, but even more so when he went up to it and saw that it had not stuck in the ground but appeared to have rebounded and to have fallen flat upon a slab of stone. Quoth he to himself, “There must assuredly be some mystery in this matter: else how could anyone shoot a shaft to such a distance and find it fallen after so strange a fashion.” Then, threading his way amongst the pointed crags and huge boulders, he presently came to a hollow in the ground which ended in a subterraneous passage, and after pacing a few paces he espied an iron door. He pushed this open with all ease, for that it had no bolt, and entering, arrow in hand, he came upon an easy slope by which he descended. But whereas he feared to find all 444pitch-dark, he discovered at some distance a spacious square, a widening of the cave, which was lighted on every side with lamps and candelabra. Then advancing some fifty cubits or more his glance fell upon a vast and handsome palace, and presently there issued from within to the portico a lovely maiden lovesome and lovable, a fairy-form robed in princely robes and adorned from front to foot with the costliest of jewels. She walked with slow and stately gait, withal graceful and blandishing, whilst around her ranged her attendants like the stars about a moon of the fourteenth night. Seeing this vision of beauty, Prince Ahmad hastened to salute her with the salam and she returned it; then coming forwards greeted him graciously and said in sweetest accents, “Well come and welcome, O Prince Ahmad: I am pleased to have sight of thee. How fareth it with thy Highness and why hast thou tarried so long away from me?” The King’s son marvelled greatly to hear her name him by his name; for that he knew not who she was, as they had never seen each other aforetime—how then came she to have learnt his title and condition? Then kissing ground before her he said, “O my lady, I owe thee much of thanks and gratitude for that thou art pleased to welcome me with words of cheer in this strange place where I, alone and a stranger, durst enter with exceeding hesitation and trepidation. But it perplexeth me sorely to think how thou camest to learn the name of thy slave.” Quoth she with a smile, “O my lord, come hither and let us sit at ease within yon belvedere; and there I will give an answer to thine asking.” So they went thither, Prince Ahmad following her footsteps; and on reaching it he was filled with wonder to see its vaulted roof of exquisite workmanship and adorned with gold and lapis lazuli[81] and paintings and ornaments, whose like was nowhere to be found in the world. The lady seeing his astonishment said to the Prince, “This mansion is 445nothing beside all my others which now, of my free will, I have made thine own; and when thou seest them thou shalt have just cause for wonderment.” Then that sylph-like being took seat upon a raised daïs and with abundant show of affection seated Prince Ahmad by her side. Presently quoth she, “Albeit thou know me not, I know thee well, as thou shalt see with surprise when I shall tell thee all my tale. But first it behoveth me disclose to thee who I am. In Holy Writ belike thou hast read that this world is the dwelling-place not only of men, but also of a race hight the Jánn in form likest to mortals. I am the only daughter of a Jinn chief of noblest strain and my name is Perí Bánú. So marvel not to hear me tell thee who thou art and who is the King thy sire and who is Nur al-Nihar, the daughter of thine uncle. I have full knowledge of all concerning thyself and thy kith and kin; how thou art one of three brothers who all and each were daft for love of Princess Nur al-Nihar and strave to win her from one another to wife. Furthermore thy sire deemed it best to send you all far and wide over foreign lands, and thou faredest to far Samarkand and broughtest back a Magical Apple made with rare art and mystery which thou boughtest for forty thousand Ashrafis; then by means whereof thou madest the Princess thy lady-love whole of a grievous malady, whilst Prince Husayn, thine elder brother, bought for the same sum of money a Flying Carpet at Bishangarh, and Prince Ali also brought home a Spying Tube from Shiraz-city. Let this suffice to show thee that naught is hidden from me of all thy case; and now do thou tell me in very truth whom dost thou admire the more, for beauty and loveliness, me or the lady Nur al-Nihar thy brother’s wife? My heart longeth for thee with excessive longing and desireth that we may be married and enjoy the pleasures of life and the joyance of love. So say me, art thou also willing to wed me, or pinest thou in preference for the daughter of thine uncle? In the fulness of my 446affection for thee I stood by thy side unseen during the archery-meeting upon the plain of trial, and when thou shottest thy shaft I knew that it would fall far short of Prince Ali’s[82], so I hent it in hand ere it touched ground and carried it away from sight, and striking it upon the iron door caused it rebound and lie flat upon the rock where thou didst find it. And ever since that day I have been sitting in expectancy, wotting well that thou wouldst search for it until thou find it, and by such means I was certified of bringing thee hither to me.” Thus spake the beautiful maiden Peri-Banu who with eyes fall of love-longing looked up at Prince Ahmad; and then with modest shame bent low her brow and averted her glance.——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Fifty-second Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that when Prince Ahmad heard these words of Peri-Banu he rejoiced with joy exceeding, and said to himself; “The Princess Nur al-Nihar is not within my power to win, and Peri-Banu doth outvie her in comeliness of favour and in loveliness of form and in gracefulness of gait.” In short so charmed was he and captivated that he clean forgot his love for his cousin; and, noting that the heart of his new enchantress inclined towards him, he replied, “O my lady, O fairest of the fair, naught else do I desire save that I may serve thee and do thy bidding all my life long. But I am of human and thou of non-human birth. Thy friends and family, kith and kin, will haply be displeased with thee an thou unite with me in such union.” But she made answer, “I have full sanction of my parents to marry as I list and whomsoever I may prefer. Thou sayest that thou wilt be my servant, nay, rather be thou my lord and master; for I myself and my life and all my good are 447very thine, and I shall ever be thy bondswoman. Consent now, I beseech thee, to accept me for thy wife: my heart doth tell me thou wilt not refuse my request.” Then Peri-Banu added, “I have told thee already that in this matter I act with fullest authority. Besides all this there is a custom and immemorial usage with us fairy-folk that, when we maidens come to marriageable age and years of understanding, each one may wed, according the dictates of her heart, the person that pleaseth her most and whom she judgeth likely to make her days happy. Thus wife and husband live with each other all their lives in harmony and happiness. But if a girl be given away in marriage by the parents, according to their choice and not hers, and she be mated to a helpmate unmeet for her, because ill-shapen or ill-conditioned or unfit to win her affection, then are they twain likely to be at variance each with other for the rest of their days; and endless troubles result to them from such ill-sorted union. Nor are we bound by another law which bindeth modest virgins of the race of Adam; for we freely announce our preference to those we love, nor must we wait and pine to be wooed and won.” When Prince Ahmad heard these words of answer, he rejoiced with exceeding joy and stooping down essayed to kiss the skirt of her garment, but she prevented him, and in lieu of her hem gave him her hand. The Prince clasped it with rapture and according to the custom of that place, he kissed it and placed it to his breast and upon his eyes. Hereat quoth the Fairy, smiling a charming smile, “With my hand locked in thine plight me thy troth even as I pledge my faith to thee, that I will alway true and loyal be, nor ever prove faithless or fail of constancy.” And quoth the Prince, “O loveliest of beings, O dearling of my soul, thinkest thou that I can ever become a traitor to my own heart, I who love thee to distraction and dedicate to thee my body and my sprite; to thee who art my queen, the very empress of me? Freely I give myself to thee, do thou with me whatso thou wilt.” Hereupon Peri-Banu said to Prince Ahmad, “Thou 448art my husband and I am thy wife.[83] This solemn promise made between thee and me standeth in stead of marriage-contract: no need have we of Kazi, for with us all other forms and ceremonies are superfluous and of no avail. Anon I will show thee the chamber where we shall pass the bride-night; and methinks thou wilt admire it and confess that there is none like thereto in the whole world of men.” Presently her handmaidens spread the table and served up dishes of various kinds, and the finest wines in flagons and goblets of gold dubbed with jewels. So they twain sat at meat and ate and drank their sufficiency. Then Peri-Banu took Prince Ahmad by the hand and led him to her private chamber wherein she slept; and he stood upon the threshold amazed to see its magnificence and the heaps of gems and precious stones which dazed his sight, till recovering himself he cried, “Methinks there is not in the universe a room so splendid and decked with costly furniture and gemmed articles such as this.” Quoth Peri-Banu, “An thou so admire and praise this palace what wilt thou say when sighting the mansions and castles of my sire the Jann-King? Haply too when thou shalt behold my garden thou wilt be filled with wonder and delight; but now ’tis over late to lead thee thither and night approacheth.” Then she ushered Prince Ahmad into another room where the supper had been spread, and the splendour of this saloon yielded in naught to any of the others; nay, rather it was the more gorgeous and dazzling. Hundreds of wax candles set in candelabra of the finest amber[84] and the purest crystal, ranged on all sides, rained floods of light, whilst golden flowerpots and vessels of finest workmanship and priceless worth, of lovely shapes and wondrous art, adorned the niches and the walls.——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Fifty-third Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that tongue of man can never describe the magnificence of that room in which bands of virgin Peris, loveliest of forms and fairest of features, garbed in choicest garments played on sweet-toned instruments of mirth and merriment or sang lays of amorous significance to strains of heart-bewitching music. Then they twain, to wit the bride and bridegroom sat down at meat, ever and anon delaying to indulge in toyings and bashful love-play and chaste caresses. Peri-Banu with her own hands passed the choicest mouthfuls to Prince Ahmad and made him taste of each dish and dainty, telling him their names and whereof they were composed. But how shall I, O auspicious King Shahryar, avail to give thee any notion of those Jinn-made dishes or to describe with due meed of praise the delicious flavour of meats such as no mortal ever tasted or ever beheld? Then, when both had supped, they drank the choicest wines, and ate with relish sweet conserves and dry fruits and a dessert of various delicacies. At length, when they had their requirement of eating and drinking, they retired into another room which contained a raised daïs of the grandest, bedecked with gold-purfled cushions and pillows wrought with seed-pearl and Achæmenian tapestries, whereupon they took seat side by side for converse and solace. Then came in a troop of Jinns and fairies who danced and sang before them with wondrous grace and art; and this pretty show pleased Peri-Banu and Prince Ahmad, who watched the sports and displays with ever-renewed delight. At last the newly wedded couple rose and retired, weary of revelry, to another chamber, wherein they found that the slaves had dispread the genial bed, whose frame was gold studded with jewels and whose furniture was of satin and sendal flowered with the rarest embroidery. Here the guests who attended at the marriage festival and the handmaids of the palace, ranged in two 450lines, hailed the bride and bridegroom as they went within; and then, craving dismissal, they all departed leaving them to take their joyance in bed. On such wise the marriage-festival and nuptial merry-makings were kept up day after day, with new dishes and novel sports, novel dances and new music; and, had Prince Ahmad lived a thousand years with mortal kind, never could he have seen such revels or heard such strains or enjoyed such love-liesse. Thus six months soon passed in the Fairyland beside Peri-Banu, whom he loved with a love so fond that he would not lose her from his sight for a moment’s space; but would feel restless and ill-at-ease whenas he ceased to look upon her. In like manner Peri-Banu was fulfilled with affection for him and strove to please her bridegroom more and more every moment by new arts of dalliance and fresh appliances of pleasure, until so absorbing waxed his passion for her that the thought of home and kindred, kith and kin, faded from his thoughts and fled his mind. But after a time his memory awoke from slumber and at times he found himself longing to look upon his father, albeit well did he wot that it were impossible to find out how the far one fared unless he went himself to visit him. So one day quoth he to Peri-Banu, “An it be thy pleasure, I pray thee give me thy command that I may leave thee for a few days to see my sire, who doubtless grieveth at my long absence and suffereth all the sorrows of separation from his son.” Peri-Banu, hearing these words was dismayed with sore dismay, for that she thought within herself that this was only an excuse whereby he might escape and leave her after enjoyment and possession had made her love pall upon the palate of his mind. So quoth she in reply, “Hast thou forgotten thy vows and thy plighted troth, that thou wishest to leave me now? Have love and longing ceased to stir thee, whilst my heart always throbbeth in raptures as it hath ever done at the very thought of thee?” Replied the Prince, “O dearling of my soul, my queen, my empress, what be these doubts that haunt thy mind, and why 451such sad misgivings and sorrowful words? I know full well that the love of thee and thine affection me-wards are even as thou sayest; and did I not acknowledge this truth or did I prove unthankful or fail to regard thee with a passion as warm and deep, as tender and as true as thine own, I were indeed an ingrate and a traitor of the darkest dye. Far be it from me to desire severance from thee nor hath any thought of leaving thee never to return at any time crossed my mind. But my father is now an old man well shotten in years and he is sore grieved in mind at this long separation from his youngest son. If thou wilt deign command, I would fain go visit him and with all haste return to thine arms; yet I would not do aught in this matter against thy will; and such is my fond affection for thee that I would fain be at all hours of the day and watches of the night by thy side nor leave thee for a moment of time.” Peri-Banu was somewhat comforted by this speech; and from his looks, words and acts she was certified that Prince Ahmad really loved her with fondest love and that his heart was true as steel to her as was his tongue. Whereupon she granted him leave and liberty to set forth and see his sire, whilst at the same time she gave him strict commandment not to tarry long with his kith and kin. Hearken now, O auspicious King Shahryar, to what befel the Sultan of Hindostan and how it fared with him after the marriage of Prince Ali to Princess Nur al-Nihar.——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Fifty-fourth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that not seeing Prince Husayn and Prince Ahmad for the space of many days the Sultan waxed exceeding sad and heavy-hearted, and one morning after Darbár,[85] asked his Wazirs and Ministers what had betided them and where they were. Hereto the councillors made 452answer saying, “O our lord, and shadow of Allah upon earth, thine eldest son and fruit of thy vitals and heir apparent to thine Empire the Prince Husayn, in his disappointment and jealousy and bitter grief hath doffed his royal robes to become a hermit, a devotee, renouncing all worldly lusts and gusts. Prince Ahmad thy third son also in high dudgeon hath left the city; and of him none knoweth aught, whither he hath fled or what hath befallen him.” The King was sore distressed and bade them write without stay or delay and forthright despatch firmans and commands to all the Nabobs and Governors of the provinces, with strict injunctions to make straight search for Prince Ahmad and to send him to his sire the moment he was found. But, albeit the commandments were carried out to the letter and all the seekers used the greatest diligence none came upon any trace of him. Then, with increased sadness of heart, the Sultan ordered his Grand Wazir to go in quest of the fugitive and the Minister replied, “Upon my head be it and mine eyes! Thy servant hath already caused most careful research to be made in every quarter, but not the smallest clue hath yet come to hand: and this matter troubleth me the more for that he was dear to me as a son.” The Ministers and Grandees now understood that the King was overwhelmed with woe, tearful-eyed and heavy-hearted by reason of the loss of Prince Ahmad; whereupon bethought the Grand Wazir of a certain witch famed for the Black Art who could conjure down the stars from heaven; and who was a noted dweller in the capital. So going to the Sultan he spake highly of her skill in knowledge of the abstruse,[86] saying “Let the King, I pray thee, send for this sorceress and enquire of her concerning his lost son.” And the King replied, “’Tis well said: let her be brought hither and haply she shall give 453me tidings of the Prince and how he fareth.” So they fetched the Sorceress and set her before the Sultan, who said, “O my good woman, I would have thee know that ever since the marriage of Prince Ali with the Lady Nur al-Nihar, my youngest son Prince Ahmad,[87] who was disappointed in her love, hath disappeared from our sight and no man knoweth aught of him. Do thou forthright apply thy magical craft and tell me only this:—Is he yet alive or is he dead? An he live I would learn where is he and how fareth he; moreover, I would ask, Is it written in my book of Destiny that I shall see him yet again?” To this the Witch made reply, “O Lord of the Age and ruler of the times and tide, ’tis not possible for me at once to answer all these questions which belong to the knowledge of Hidden Things; but, if thy Highness deign grant me one day of grace, I will consult my books of gramarye and on the morrow will give thee a sufficient reply and a satisfactory.” The Sultan to this assented, saying, “An thou can give me detailed and adequate answer, and set my mind at ease after this sorrow, thou shalt have an exceeding great reward and I will honour thee with highmost honour.” Next day the Sorceress, accompanied by the Grand Wazir, craved permission to appear before the presence, and when it was granted came forward and said, “I have made ample investigation by my art and mystery and I have assured myself that Prince Ahmad is yet in the land of the living. Be not therefore uneasy in thy mind on his account; but at present, save this only, naught else can I discover regarding him, nor can I say for sure where he be or how he is to be found.” At these words the Sultan took comfort, and hope sprang up within his breast that he should see his son again ere he died. Now return we to the story of Prince Ahmad. Whenas Peri-Banu understood that he was bent upon visiting his sire and she was 454convinced that his love her-wards remained firm and steadfast as before, she took thought and determined that it would ill become her to refuse him leave and liberty for such purpose; so she again pondered the matter in her mind and debated with herself for many an hour till at length, one day of the days, she turned to her husband and said, “Albeit my heart consenteth not to part from thee for a moment or to lose sight of thee for a single instant, still inasmuch as thou hast ofttimes made entreaty of me and hast shown thyself so solicitous to see thy sire, I will no longer baffle thy wish. But this my favour will depend upon one condition; otherwise I will never grant thy petition and give thee such permission. Swear to me the most binding of oaths that thou wilt haste thee back hither with all possible speed, and thou wilt not by long absence cause me yearning grief and anxious waiting for thy safe return to me.” Prince Ahmad, well pleased to win his wish, thanked her saying, “O my beloved, fear not for me after any fashion and rest assured I will come back to thee with all haste as soon as I shall have seen my sire; and life hath no charms for me away from thy presence. Although I must needs be severed from thee for a few days, yet will my heart ever turn to thee and to thee only.” These words of Prince Ahmad gladdened the heart of Peri-Banu and drove away the darksome doubts and mysterious misgivings which ever haunted her nightly dreams and her daily musings.——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Fifty-fifth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that Peri-Banu gladdened by these premises addressed her husband, Prince Ahmad, “So now, as soon as thy heart desireth, go thou and pay thy respects to thy sire; but ere thou set out I would charge thee with one charge and look that on no wise thou forget my rede and my counsel. Speak not to any a single word of this thy marriage, 455nor of the strange sights thou hast seen and the wonders thou hast witnessed; but keep them carefully concealed from thy father and thy brethren and from thy kith and kin, one and all. This only shalt thou tell thy sire, so his mind may be set at ease, that thou art buxom and happy; also that thou hast returned home for a while only with the object of seeing him and becoming assured of his welfare.” Then she gave orders to her people, bidding them make ready for the journey without delay; and when all things were prepared she appointed twenty horsemen, armed cap-à-pie and fully accoutred, to accompany her husband, and gave him a horse of perfect form and proportions, swift as the blinding leven or the rushing wind; and its housings and furniture were bedeckt with precious ores and studded with jewels. Then she fell on his neck and they embraced with warmest love; and as the twain bade adieu, Prince Ahmad, to set her mind at rest, renewed his protestations and sware to her again his solemn oath. Then mounting his horse and followed by his suite (all Jinn-born cavaliers) he set forth with mighty pomp and circumstance, and riding diligently he soon reached his father’s capital. Here he was received with loud acclamations, the like of which had never been known in the land. The Ministers and Officers of State, the citizens and the Ryots all rejoiced with exceeding joy to see him once more, and the folk left their work and with blessings and low obeisances joined the cavalcade; and, crowding around him in every side, escorted him to the palace-gates. When the Prince reached the threshold he dismounted and, entering the audience-hall, fell at his father’s feet and kissed them in a transport of filial affection. The Sultan, well nigh distraught for delight at the unexpected sight of Prince Ahmad, rose from his throne and threw himself upon his son’s neck weeping for very joy and kissed his forehead saying, “O dear my child, in despair at the loss of the Lady Nur al-Nihar thou didst suddenly fly from thy home, and, despite all research, nor trace nor sign of thee was to be found however sedulously we sought thee; and I, 456distracted at thy disappearance, am reduced to this condition in which thou seest me. Where hast thou been this long while, and how hast thou lived all this time?” Replied Prince Ahmad, “’Tis true, O my lord the King, that I was downhearted and distressed to see Prince Ali gain the hand of my cousin, but that is not the whole cause of my absence. Thou mayest remember how, when we three brothers rode at thy command to yonder plain for a trial of archery, my shaft, albeit the place was large and flat, disappeared from sight and none could find where it had fallen. Now so it fortuned that one day in sore heaviness of mind I fared forth alone and unaccompanied to examine the ground thereabout and try if haply I could find my arrow. But when I reached the spot where the shafts of my brothers, Princes Husayn and Ali, had been picked up, I made search in all directions, right and left, before and behind, thinking that thereabouts mine also might come to hand; but all my trouble was in vain: I found neither shaft nor aught else. So walking onwards in obstinate research, I went a long way, and at last despairing, I would have given up the quest, for full well I knew that my bow could not have carried so far, and indeed that ’twere impossible for any marksman to have driven bolt or pile to such distance, when suddenly I espied it lying flat upon a rock some four parasangs[88] distant from this place.” The Sultan marvelled with much marvel at his words and the Prince presently resumed, “So when I picked up the arrow, O my lord, and considered it closely I knew it for the very one I had shot, but admired in my mind how it had come to fly so far, and I doubted not but that there was a somewhat mysterious about the matter. While I thus reflected I came upon the place where I have sojourned ever since that day in perfect solace and happiness. I may not tell thee 457more of my tale than this; for I came only to ease thy mind on my account, and now I pray thee deign grant me thy supreme permission that I return forthright to my home of delights. From time to time I will not cease to wait upon thee and to enquire of thy welfare with all the affection of a son.” Replied the King, “O my child, the sight of thee hath gladdened mine eyes; and I am now satisfied; and not unwillingly I give thee leave to go, since thou art happy in some place so near hand; but shouldst thou at any time delay thy coming hither, say me, how shall I be able to get tidings of thy good health and welfare?” And quoth Prince Ahmad, “O my lord the King, that which thou requirest of me is part of my secret and this must remain deep hidden in my breast: as I said before, I may not discover it to thee nor say aught that might lead to its discovery. However, be not uneasy in thy soul, for I will appear before thee full many a time and haply I may irk thee with continual coming.” “O my son,” rejoined the Sultan, “I would not learn thy secret an thou would keep it from me, but there is one only thing I desire of thee, which is, that ever and anon I may be assured of thine enduring health and happiness. Thou hast my full permission to hie thee home, but forget not at least once a month to come and see me even as now thou dost, lest such forgetfulness cause me anxiety and trouble, cark and care.” So Prince Ahmad tarried with his father three days full-told, but never for a moment did the memory of the Lady Peri-Banu fade from his mind; and on the fourth day he mounted horse and returned with the same pomp and pageantry wherewith he came.——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Fifty-sixth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that Peri-Banu joyed with exceeding joy at the sight of Prince Ahmad as he returned to his home; and it seemed to her as though they had 458been parted for three hundred years: such is love that moments of separation are longsome and weary as twelvemonths. The Prince offered much of excuses for his short absence and his words delighted Peri-Banu yet the more. So these twain, lover and beloved, passed the time in perfect happiness, taking their pleasure one with other. Thus a month went by and Prince Ahmad never once mentioned the name of his sire nor expressed a wish to go visit him according to his promise. Noting this change, the Lady Peri-Banu said to him one day, “Thou toldest me aforetime that once in the beginning of each month thou wouldst fare forth and travel to thy father’s court and learn news of his welfare: why then neglectest thou so to do, seeing that he will be distressed and anxiously expecting thee?” Replied Prince Ahmad, “’Tis even as thou sayest, but, awaiting thy command and thy permission, I have forborne to propose the journey to thee.” And she made answer, “Let thy faring and thy returning rest not on my giving thee liberty of leave. At the beginning of each month as it cometh round, do thou ride forth, and from this time forwards thou hast no need to ask permission of me. Stay with thy sire three days full-told and on the fourth come back to me without fail.” Accordingly, on the next day betimes in the morning Prince Ahmad took his departure and as aforetime rode forth with abundant pomp and parade and repaired to the palace of the Sultan his sire, to whom he made his obeisance. On like manner continued he to do each month with a suite of horsemen larger and more brilliant than before, whilst he himself was more splendidly mounted and equipped. And whenever the Crescent appeared in the Western sky he fondly farewelled his wife and paid his visit to the King, with whom he tarried three whole days, and on the fourth returned to dwell with Peri-Banu. But, as each and every time he went, his equipage was greater and grander than the last, at length one of the Wazirs, a favourite and cup-companion of the King, was filled with wonderment and jealousy to see Prince Ahmad appear at the palace with 459such opulence and magnificence. So he said in himself, “None can tell whence cometh this Prince, and by what means he hath obtained so splendid a suite.” Then of his envy and malice that Wazir fell to plying the King with deceitful words and said, “O my liege lord and mighty sovran, it ill becometh thee to be thus heedless of Prince Ahmad’s proceedings. Seest thou not how day after day his retinue increaseth in numbers and puissance? What an he should plot against thee and cast thee into prison, and take from thee the reins of the realm? Right well thou wottest that inasmuch as thou didst wed Prince Ali to the Lady Nur al-Nihar thou provokedest the wrath of Prince Husayn and Prince Ahmad; so that one of them in the bitterness of his soul renounced the pomps and vanities of this world and hath become a Fakir, whilst the other, to wit, Prince Ahmad, appeareth before thy presence in such inordinate power and majesty. Doubtless they both seek their revenge; and, having gotten thee into their power, the twain will deal treacherously with thee. So I would have thee beware, and again I say beware; and seize the forelock of opportunity ere it be too late; for the wise have said:—

Thou canst bar a spring with a sod of clay ✿ But when grown ’twill bear a big host away.”

Thus spake that malicious Wazir; and presently he resumed, “Thou knowest also that when Prince Ahmad would end his three days’ visits he never asketh thy leave nor farewelleth thee nor biddeth adieu to any one of his family. Such conduct is the beginning of rebellion and proveth him to be rancorous of heart. But ’tis for thee in thy wisdom to decide.” These words sank deep in the heart of the simple-minded Sultan and grew a crop of the direst suspicions. He presently thought within himself, “Who knoweth the mind and designs of Prince Ahmad, whether they be dutiful or undutiful towards me? Haply he may be plotting vengeance; so it besitteth me to make enquiries concerning him, to discover where he dwelleth and by what means he hath attained to such puissance and opulence.” 460Filled with these jealous thoughts, he sent in private one day, unbeknown to the Grand Wazir who would at all times befriend Prince Ahmad, to summon the Witch; and, admitting her by a secret postern to his private chamber, asked of her saying, “Thou didst aforetime learn by thy magical art that Prince Ahmad was alive and didst bring me tidings of him. I am beholden to thee for this good office, and now I would desire of thee to make further quest into his case and ease my mind, which is sore disturbed. Albeit my son still liveth and cometh to visit me every month, yet am I clean ignorant of the place wherein he dwelleth and whence he setteth out to see me; for that he keepeth the matter close hidden from his sire. Go thou forthright and privily, without the knowledge of any, my Wazirs and Nabobs, my courtiers and my household; and make thou diligent research and with all haste bring me word whereabouts he liveth. He now sojourneth here upon his wonted visit; and, on the fourth day, without leave-taking or mention of departure to me or to any of the Ministers and Officers, he will summon his suite and mount his steed; then will he ride to some little distance hence and suddenly disappear. Do thou without stay or delay forego him on the path and lie perdue in some convenient hollow hard by the road whence thou mayest learn where he hometh; then quickly bring me tidings thereof.” Accordingly, the Sorceress departed the presence of the King; and, after walking over the four parasangs, she hid herself within a hollow of the rocks hard by the place where Prince Ahmad had found his arrow, and there awaited his arrival. Early on the morrow the Prince, as was his wont, set out upon his journey without taking leave of his sire or farewelling any of the Ministers. So when they drew nigh, the Sorceress caught sight of the Prince and of the retinue that rode before and beside him; and she saw them enter a hollow way which forked into a many of byways; and so steep and dangerous were the cliffs and boulders about the track that hardly could a footman safely pace that path. Seeing this the Sorceress bethought her that it must surely lead to 461some cavern or haply to a subterraneous passage, or to a souterrain the abode of Jinns and fairies; when suddenly the Prince and all his suite vanished from her view. So she crept out of the hiding-place wherein she had ensconced herself and wandered far and wide seeking, as diligently as she was able, but never finding the subterraneous passage nor yet could she discern the iron door which Prince Ahmad had espied, for none of human flesh and blood had power to see this save he alone to whom it was made visible by the Fairy Peri-Banu; furthermore it was ever concealed from the prying eyes of woman-kind. Then said the Sorceress to herself, “This toil and moil have I undertaken to no purpose; yea, verily, I have failed to find out that wherefor I came.” So she went forthright back to the Sultan and reported to him all that had betided her, how she had lain in wait amid the cliffs and boulders and had seen the Prince and suite ride up the most perilous of paths and, having entered a hollow way, disappear in an eye-twinkling from her sight. And she ended by saying, “Albeit I strove my utmost to find out the spot wherein the Prince abideth, yet could I on no wise succeed; and I pray thy Highness may grant me time to search further into the matter and to find out this mystery which by skill and caution on my part shall not long abide concealed.” Answered the Sultan, “Be it as thou wilt: I grant thee leisure to make enquiry and after a time I shall await thy return hither.”——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Fifty-seventh Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that moreover the King largessed the Witch with a diamond of large size and of great price, saying, “Take this stone to guerdon for thy trouble and travail and in earnest of future favours; so, when thou shalt return and bring me word that thou hast searched and found out the secret, thou shalt have a Bakhshish of far greater worth and 462I will make thy heart rejoice with choicest joy and honour thee with highmost honour.” So the Sorceress looked forwards to the coming of the Prince, for well she knew that at the sight of each crescent he rode home to visit his sire and was bound to abide with him three days, even as the Lady Peri-Banu had permitted and had enjoined him. Now when the moon had waxed and waned, on the day before the Prince would leave home upon his monthly visit, the Witch betook her to the rocks and sat beside the place whence she imagined he would issue forth; and next morning early he and his suite, composed of many a mounted knight with his esquire afoot, who now always accompanied him in increasing numbers, rode forth gallantly through the iron doorway and passed hard by the place where she lay in wait for him. The Sorceress crouched low upon the ground in her tattered rags; and, seeing a heap by his way, the Prince at first supposed that a slice of stone had fallen from the rocks across his path. But as he drew nigh she fell to weeping and wailing with might and main as though in sore dolour and distress, and she ceased not to crave his countenance and assistance with increase of tears and lamentations. The Prince seeing her sore sorrow had pity on her, and reining in his horse, asked her what she had to require of him and what was the cause of her cries and lamentations. At this the cunning crone but cried the more, and the Prince was affected with compassion still livelier at seeing her tears and hearing her broken, feeble words. So when the Sorceress perceived that Prince Ahmad had ruth on her and would fain show favour to her, she heaved a heavy sigh and in woeful tones, mingled with moans and groans, addressed him in these false words, withal holding the hem of his garment and at times stopping as if convulsed with pain, “O my lord and lord of all loveliness, as I was journeying from my home in yonder city upon an errand to such a place, behold, when I came thus far upon my way, suddenly a hot fit of fever seized me and a shivering and a trembling, so that I lost all strength and fell down 463helpless as thou seest me; and still no power have I in hand or foot to rise from the ground and to return to my place.” Replied the Prince, “Alas, O good woman, there is no house at hand where thou mayest go and be fitly tended and tendered. Howbeit I know a stead whither, an thou wilt, I can convey thee and where by care and kindness thou shalt (Inshallah!) soon recover of thy complaint. Come then with me as best thou canst.” With loud moans and groans the Witch made answer, “So weak am I in every limb and helpless that I can by no means rise off the ground or move save with the help of some friendly hand.” The Prince then bade one of his horsemen lift up the feeble and ailing old woman and set her upon his steed; and the cavalier did his lord’s bidding forthright and mounted her astraddle upon the crupper of his courser: then, Prince Ahmad rode back with her and entering by the iron door carried her to his apartment and sent for Peri-Banu. His wife hurriedly coming forth to the Prince asked him in her flurry, “Is all well and wherefore hast thou come back and what wouldst thou that thou hast sent for me?” Prince Ahmad then told her of the old woman who was healthless and helpless, adding, “Scarce had I set out on my journey when I espied this ancient dame lying hard by the roadside, suffering and in sore distress. My heart felt pity for her to see her in such case and constrained me to bring her hither as I could not leave her to die among the rocks; and I pray thee of thy bounty take her in and give her medicines that she may soon be made whole of this her malady. An thou wilt show this favour I shall not cease to thank thee and be beholden to thee.”——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Fifty-eighth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that Peri-Banu looked at the old woman and charged a twain of her handmaidens 464that they carry her into a room apart and tend her with the tenderest care and the uttermost of diligence. The attendants did as she bade them and transported the Sorceress to the place she had designed. Then Peri-Banu addressed Prince Ahmad saying, “O my lord, I am pleased to see thy pitiful kindness towards this ancient dame, and I surely will look to her case even as thou hast enjoined me; but my heart misgiveth me and much I fear some evil will result from thy goodness. This woman is not so ill as she doth make believe, but practiseth deceit upon thee and I ween that some enemy or envier hath plotted a plot against me and thee. Howbeit go now in peace upon thy journey.” The Prince, who on no wise took to heart the words of his wife, presently replied to her, “O my lady, Almighty Allah forfend thee from all offence! With thee to help and guard me I fear naught of ill: I know of no foeman who would compass my destruction, for I bear no grudge against any living being, and I foresee no evil at the hands of man or Jann.” Thereupon the Prince again took leave of Peri-Banu and repaired with his attendants to the palace of his sire who, by reason of the malice of his crafty Minister, was inwardly afraid to see his son; but not the less he welcomed him with great outward show of love and affection. Meanwhile the two fairy handmaidens, to whom Peri-Banu had given charge of the Witch, bore her away to a spacious room splendidly furnished; and laid her on a bed having a mattress of satin and a brocaded coverlet. Then one of them sat by her side whilst the other with all speed fetched, in a cup of porcelain, an essence which was a sovereign draught for ague and fever. Presently they raised her up and seated her on the couch saying, “Drain thou this drink. It is the water of the Lions’ Fount and whoso tasteth of the same is forthwith made whole of what disease soever he hath.” The Sorceress took the cup with great difficulty and after swallowing the contents lay back on the bed; and the handmaidens spread the quilt over her saying, “Now rest awhile and thou shalt soon feel the 465virtues of this medicine.” Then they left her to sleep for an hour or so; but presently the Witch, who had feigned sickness to the intent only that she might learn where Prince Ahmad abode and might inform the Sultan thereof, being assured that she had discovered all that she desired, rose up and summoning the damsels said to them, “The drinking of that draught hath restored to me all my health and strength: I now feel hale and hearty once more and my limbs are filled with new life and vigour. So at once acquaint your lady herewith, that I may kiss the hem of her robe and return my thanks for her goodness me-wards, then depart and hie me home again.” Accordingly, the two handmaidens took the Sorceress with them and showed her as they went along the several apartments, each more magnificent and kingly than the other; and at length they reached the belvedere which was the noblest saloon of all, and fitted and filled with furniture exceeding costly and curious. There sat Peri-Banu upon a throne which was adorned with diamonds and rubies, emeralds, pearls and other gems of unwonted size and water, whilst round about her stood fairies of lovely form and features, robed in the richest raiments and awaiting with folded hands her commandments. The Sorceress marvelled with extreme marvel to see the splendour of the chambers and their furniture, but chiefly when she beheld the Lady Peri-Banu seated upon the jewelled throne; nor could she speak a word for confusion and awe, but she bent down low and placed her head upon Peri-Banu’s feet. Quoth the Princess in soft speech and reassuring tones, “O good woman, it pleaseth me greatly to see thee a guest in this my palace, and I joy even more to learn that thou be wholly quit of thy sickness. So now solace thy spirits with walking all round about the place and my servants will accompany thee and show thee what there is worthy of thine inspection.” Hereat the Witch again louted low and kissed the carpet under Peri-Banu’s feet, and took leave of her hostess in goodly phrase and with great show of gratitude for her favours. The handmaids then led her 466round the palace and displayed to her all the rooms, which dazed and dazzled her sight so that she could not find words to praise them sufficiently. Then she went her ways and the fairies escorted her past the iron doorway whereby Prince Ahmad had brought her in, and left her, bidding her God-speed and blessing her; and the foul crone with many thanks took the road to her own home. But when she had walked to some distance she was minded to see the iron door, so might she with ease know it again; so she went back, but lo and behold! the entrance had vanished and was invisible to her as to all other women. Accordingly, after searching on all sides and pacing to and fro and finding nor sign nor trace of palace or portal, she repaired in despair to the city and, creeping along a deserted pathway, entered the palace, according to her custom, by the private postern. When safely within she straightway sent word by an eunuch to the Sultan, who ordered that she be brought before him. She approached him with troubled countenance, whereat, perceiving that she had failed to carry out her purpose, he asked, “What news? Hast thou accomplished thy design or hast thou been baffled therein?”——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Fifty-ninth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that the Sorceress, who was a mere creature of the malicious Wazir, replied, “O King of kings, this matter have I fully searched out even as thou gavest command, and I am about to tell thee all that hath betided me. The signs of sorrow and marks of melancholy thou notest upon my countenance are for other cause which narrowly concerneth thy welfare.” Then she began to recount her adventure in these terms, “Now when I had reached the rocks I sat me down feigning sickness; and, as Prince Ahmad 467passed that way and heard my complaining and saw my grievous condition, he had compassion on me. After some ‘said and say’ he took me with him by a subterranean passage and through an iron door to a magnificent palace and gave me in charge of a fairy, Peri-Banu hight, of passing beauty and loveliness, such as human eye hath never yet seen. Prince Ahmad bade her make me her guest for some few days and bring me a medicine which would complete my cure, and she to please him at once appointed handmaidens to attend upon me. So I was certified that the twain were one flesh, husband and wife. I feigned to be exceeding frail and feeble and made as though I had not strength to walk or even to stand; whereat the two damsels supported me, one on either side, and I was carried into a room where they gave me somewhat to drink and put me upon a bed to rest and sleep. Then thought I to myself:—Verily I have gained the object wherefor I had feigned sickness; and I was assured that it availed no more to practise deceit. Accordingly, after a short while I arose and said to the attendants that the draught which they had given me to drink had cut short the fever and had restored strength to my limbs and life to my frame. Then they led me to the presence of the Lady Peri-Banu, who was exceeding pleased to see me once more hale and hearty, and bade her handmaidens conduct me around the palace and show each room in its beauty and splendour; after which I craved leave to wend my ways and here am I again to work thy will.” When thus she had made known to the King all that had betided her, she resumed, “Perchance, on hearing of the might and majesty, opulence and magnificence of the Lady Peri-Banu, thou wilt be gladdened and say within thyself:—’Tis well that Prince Ahmad is wedded to this Fairy and hath gotten for himself such wealth and power; but to the thinking of this thy slave the matter is quite other. It is not well, I dare avouch, that thy son should possess such puissance and treasures, for who knoweth but that he may by good aid 468of Peri-Banu bring about division and disturbance in the realm? Beware of the wiles and malice of women. The Prince is bewitched with love of her, and peradventure at her incitement he may act towards thee otherwise than right, and lay hands on thy hoards and seduce thy subjects and become master of thy kingdom; and albeit he would not of his own free will do aught to his father and his forbears save what was pious and dutiful, yet the charms of his Princess may work upon him little by little and end by making him a rebel and what more I may not say. Now mayest thou see that the matter is a weighty, so be not heedless but give it full consideration.” Then the Sorceress made ready to gang her gait when spake the King, saying, “I am beholden to thee in two things; the first, that thou tookest upon thyself much toil and travail, and on my behalf riskedst thy life to learn the truth anent my son Prince Ahmad. Secondly, I am thankful for that thou hast given me a rede so sound and such wholesome counsel.” So saying, he dismissed her with the highmost honour; but no sooner had she left the palace than he, sore distraught, summoned his second Wazir, the malicious Minister who had incited him against Prince Ahmad, and when he and his friends appeared in the presence he laid before them the whole matter and asked of them, saying, “What is your counsel, and what must I do to protect myself and my kingdom against the wiles of this Fairy?” Replied one of his councillors, “’Tis but a trifling matter and the remedy is simple and nearhand. Command that Prince Ahmad, who is now within the city if not in the palace, be detained as one taken prisoner. Let him not be put to death, lest haply the deed may engender rebellion; but at any rate place him under arrest and if he prove violent clap him in irons.”——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Sixtieth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that this felon counsel pleased the malicious Minister and all his fautors and flatterers highly approved his rede. The Sultan kept silence and made no reply, but on the morrow he sent and summoned the Sorceress and debated with her whether he should or should not cast Prince Ahmad into prison. Quoth she, “O King of kings, this counsel is clean contrary to sound sense and right reason. An thou throw Prince Ahmad into gaol, so must thou also do with all his knights and their esquires; and inasmuch as they are Jinns and Márids, who can tell their power of reprisals? Nor prison-cells nor gates of adamant can keep them in; they will forthwith escape and report such violence to the Fairy who, wroth with extreme wrath to find her husband doomed to durance vile like a common malefactor, and that too for no default or crime but by a treacherous arrest, will assuredly deal the direst of vengeance on thy head and do us a damage we shall not be able to forfend. An thou wilt confide in me, I will advise thee how to act, whereby thou mayest win thy wish and no evil will come nigh thee or thy kingship. Thou knowest well that to Jinns and Fairies is power given of doing in one short moment deeds marvellous and wondrous, which mortals fail to effect after long years of toil and trouble. Now whenas thou goest a-hunting or on other expedition, thou requirest pavilions for thyself and many tents for thy retinue and attendants and soldiery; and in making ready and transporting such store much time and wealth are wastefully expended. I would advise, O King of kings, that thou try Prince Ahmad by the following test: do thou bid him bring to thee a Sháhmiyánah[89] so long and so broad that it will cover and lodge the whole of thy court and men-at-arms and camp-followers, likewise the beasts of burthen; 470and yet it must be so light that a man may hold it in the hollow of his hand and carry it whithersoever he listeth.” Then, after holding her peace for a while, she added, still addressing the Sultan, “And as soon as Prince Ahmad shall acquit himself of this commission, do thou demand of him a somewhat still greater and more wondrous wherewith I will make thee ware, and which he will find grievous of execution. On this wise shalt thou fill thy treasury with rare inventions and strange, the handicraft of Jánn, nor will this cease till such time in fine when thy son shall be at his wits’ end to carry out thy requirements. Then, humbled and abashed, he will never dare to enter thy capital or even thy presence; and thus shalt thou be saved from fear of harm at his hands, and thou shalt not have need to put him in gaol or, worse still, to do him dead.” Hearing these words of wisdom, the Sultan made known the Witch’s device to his advisers and asked them what they deemed thereof. They held their peace and answered not a word of good or ill; while he himself highly approved it and said no more. Next day Prince Ahmad came to visit the King, who welcomed him with overflowing affection and clasping him to his bosom kissed him on eyes and forehead. Long time they sat conversing on various subjects, till at length the Sultan finding an occasion spake thus, “O dear my son, O Ahmad, for many a day have I been sad at heart and sorrowful of soul because of separation from thee, and when thou camest back I was gladdened with great gladness at sight of thee, and albeit thou didst and dost still withhold from me the knowledge of thy whereabouts, I refrained from asking thee or seeking to find out thy secret, since it was not according to thy mind to tell me of thine abode. Now, however, I have heard say that thou art wedded to a mighty Jinníyah[90], of passing beauty; and 471the tidings please me with the highmost possible pleasure. I desire not to learn aught from thee concerning thy Fairy-wife save whatso thou wouldst entrust to me of thine own free will; but, say me, should I at any time, require somewhat of thee, canst thou obtain it from her? Doth she regard thee with such favour that she will not deny thee anything thou askest of her?” Quoth the Prince, “O my lord, what dost thou demand of me? My wife is devoted to her husband in heart and soul, so prithee let me learn what it is thou wouldst have of me and her.” Replied the Sultan, “Thou knowest that ofttimes I fare a-hunting or on some foray and fray, when I have great need of tents and pavilions and Shahmiyanahs, with herds and troops of camels and mules and other beasts of burden to carry the camp from place to place. I would, therefore, that thou bring me a tent so light that a man may carry it in the hollow of his hand, and yet so large that it may contain my court and all my host and camp and suttlers and bât-animals. An thou wouldst ask the Lady for this gift I know full well that she can give it; and hereby shalt thou save me much of trouble in providing carriage for the tentage and spare me much waste and loss of beasts and men.” The Prince replied, “O my sire the Sultan, trouble not thy thought. I will at once make known thy wish to my wife, the Lady Peri-Banu; and, albeit little I wot an fairies have the faculty of making a pavilion such as thou describest, or indeed (supposing that they have such power), an she will grant me or not grant me her aidance; and, moreover, although I cannot promise thee such present, yet whatsoever lieth in my ability to do, that will I gladly do for thy service.”——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Sixty-first Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that quoth the King to Prince Ahmad, “Shouldst thou perchance fail in 472this matter and bring me not the gift required, O my son, I will never see thy face again. A sorry husband thou, in good sooth, if thy wife refuse so mean a thing and hasten not to do all thou biddest her do; giving thee to see that thou art of small value and consequence in her eyes, and that her love for thee is a quantity well-nigh to naught. But do thou, O my child, go forth and straightway ask her for the tent. An she give it thee know thou she desireth thee and thou art the dearest of all things to her; and I have been informed that she loveth thee with all her heart and soul and will by no means refuse thee aught thou requirest, were it even the balls of her eyes.” Now Prince Ahmad was ever wont to tarry three days each month with the Sultan his sire, and return to his spouse on the fourth; but this time he stayed two days only and farewelled his father on the third. As he passed into the palace Peri-Banu could not but note that he was sad at heart and downcast of face; so she asked of him, “Is all well with thee? Why has thou come to-day and not to-morrow from the presence of the King thy father, and why carriest thou so triste a countenance?” Whereupon, after kissing her brow and fondly embracing her, he told her the whole matter, first to last, and she made answer, “I will speedily set thy mind at rest, for I would not see thee so saddened for a moment longer. Howbeit, O my love, from this petition of the Sultan thy sire I am certified that his end draweth nigh, and he will soon depart this world to the mercy of Allah the Almighty.[91] Some enemy hath done this deed and much of mischief hath made for thee; and the result is that thy father, all unmindful of his coming doom, doth seek diligently his own destruction.” The Prince, anxious and alarmed, thus answered his wife, “Almighty Allah be praised, the King my liege lord is in the best of health and showeth no sign of disorder or decrepitude: ’tis 473but this morning I left him hale and hearty, and in very sooth I never saw him in better case. Strange, indeed, that thou shouldst ken what shall betide him before I have told thee aught concerning him, and especially how he hath come to learn of our marriage and of our home.” Quoth Peri-Banu, “O my Prince, thou knowest what I said to thee whenas I saw the old dame whom thou broughtest hither as one afflicted with the ague and fever. That woman, who is a Witch of Satan’s breed, hath disclosed to thy father all he sought to learn concerning this our dwelling-place. And notwithstanding that I saw full clearly she was nor sick nor sorry, but only feigning a fever, I gave her medicine to drink which cureth complaints of all kinds, and she falsely made believe that by its virtues she had recovered health and strength. So when she came to take leave of me, I sent her with two of my damsels and bid them display to her every apartment in the palace together with its furniture and decorations, that she might better know the condition of me and thee. Now all this did I on thy account only, for thou badest me show compassion to the ancient woman and I was rejoiced to see her departing safe and sound and in the best of spirits. Save her alone, no human being had ever power to know aught of this place, much less to come hither.” Prince Ahmad hearing these words thanked and praised her and said, “O sun-faced beauty, I would beg of thee to grant me a boon whereof my father hath made request of me; to wit, a Shahmiyanah of such dimensions that it may shelter him and his many, his camp and bât-cattle and withal may be carried in the hollow of the hand. An such marvel exist I wot not, yet would I do my utmost to procure it, and carry it to him right loyally.” Quoth she, “Why trouble thyself for so small a matter? I will forthright send for it and give it thee.” Then she summoned one of her handmaids who was treasurer to her and said, “O Nur Jehán,[92] go thou at once and 474bring me a pavilion of such and such a fashion.” So she fared forth without delay and as quickly came back with the pavilion which, at her lady’s bidding, she placed in the palm of Prince Ahmad’s hand.——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Sixty-second Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that Prince Ahmad hent the pavilion in hand and thought to himself, “What is this Peri-Banu giveth me? Surely she doth make a mock of me.” His wife, however, reading his mind in his face, fell to laughing aloud, and asked, “What is it, O my dearling Prince? Dost thou think that I am jesting and jibing at thee?” Then she continued, addressing the treasurer Nur Jehan, “Take now yon tent from Prince Ahmad and set it upon the plain that he may see its vast size and know if it be such an one as required by the Sultan his sire.” The handmaid took the pavilion and pitched it afar from the Palace; and yet one end thereof reached thereto from the outer limit of the plain; and so immense was its size that (as Prince Ahmad perceived) there was room therein for all the King’s court; and, were two armies ranged under it with their camp-followers and bât-animals, one would on no wise crowd or inconvenience the other. He then begged pardon of Peri-Banu saying, “I wot not that the Shahmiyanah was so prodigious of extent and of so marvellous a nature; wherefore I misdoubted when first I saw it.” The Treasurer presently struck the tent and returned it to the palm of his hand; then, without stay or delay, he took horse and followed by his retinue rode back to the royal presence, where after obeisance and suit and service he presented the tent. The Sultan also, at first sight of the gift, thought it a small matter, but marvelled with extreme marvel to see its size when pitched, for it would have shaded his capital and its suburbs. He was not, however, wholly 475satisfied, for the size of the pavilion now appeared to him superfluous; but his son assured him that it would always fit itself to its contents. He thanked the Prince for bringing him so rare a present, saying, “O my son, acquaint thy consort with my obligation to her and offer my grateful thanks for this her bounteous gift. Now indeed know I of a truth that she doth love thee with the whole of her heart and soul and all my doubts and fears are well-nigh set at rest.” Then the King commanded they should pack up the tent and store it with all care in the royal treasury. Now strange it is but true, that when the Sultan received this rare present from the Prince, the fear and doubt, the envy and jealousy of his son, which the Witch and the malicious Wazir and his other ill-advisers had bred in his breast, waxed greater and livelier than before; because he was now certified that in very truth the Jinniyah was gracious beyond measure to her mate and that, notwithstanding the great wealth and power of the sovereign, she could outvie him in mighty deeds for the aidance of her husband. Accordingly, he feared with excessive fear lest haply she seek opportunity to slay him in favour of the Prince whom she might enthrone in his stead. So he bade bring the Witch who had counselled him aforetime, and upon whose sleight and malice he now mainly relied. When he related to her the result of her rede, she took thought for a while; then, raising her brow said, “O King of kings, thou troublest thyself for naught: thou needest only command Prince Ahmad to bring thee of the water of the Lions’ Spring. He must perforce for his honour’s sake fulfil thy wish, and if he fail he will for very shame not dare to show his face again at court. No better plan than this canst thou adopt; so look to it nor loiter on thy way.” Next day at eventide, as the Sultan was seated in full Darbar surrounded by his Wazirs and Ministers, Prince Ahmad came forwards and making due obeisance took seat by his side and below him. Hereat, the King addressed him, as was his wont, with great show of favour saying, “It delighteth me mightily that thou 476hast brought me the tent I required of thee; for surely in my Treasury there be naught so rare and strange. Yet one other thing lack I, and couldst thou bring it me I shall rejoice with joy exceeding. I have heard tell that the Jinniyah, thy consort, maketh constant use of a water which floweth from the Lions’ Spring, the drinking whereof doeth away with fevers and all other deadly diseases. I know thou art anxious that I live in health; and thou wilt gladden me by bringing somewhat of that water, so I may drink thereof when occasion shall require, and well I wot that, as thou valuest my love and affection thee-wards, thou wilt not refuse to grant me my request.” Prince Ahmad on hearing this demand was struck with surprise that his sire should so soon make a second demand. So he kept silence awhile, thinking within himself, “I have managed by some means to obtain the tent from the Lady Peri-Banu, but Allah only knoweth how she will now act, and whether this fresh request will or will not rouse her wrath. Howbeit I know that she will on no wise deny me any boon I may ask of her.” So after much hesitation Prince Ahmad made reply, “O my lord the King, I have no power to do aught in this matter, which resteth only with my spouse the Princess; yet will I petition her to give the water; and, if she vouchsafe consent I will bring it straight to thee. Indeed I cannot promise thee such boon with all certainty: I would gladly do my endeavour in all and everything that can benefit thee, but to ask her for this water is a work more weighty than asking for the tent.” Next day the Prince took his departure and returned to Peri-Banu; and after loving embraces and greetings quoth he, “O my lady and light of my eyes, the Sultan my sire sendeth thee his grateful thanks for the granting of his wish; to wit, the pavilion; and now he adventureth himself once more and, certified of thy bounty and beneficence, he would pray from thy hand the boon of a little water from the Lions’ Spring. Withal I would assure thee that an the giving of this water please thee not, let the matter be clean forgotten; for to do all thou willest is my one and only wish.” Peri-Banu made reply, 477“Methinks the Sultan, thy sire, would put both me and thee to the test by requiring such boons as those suggested to him by the Sorceress.”——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Sixty-third Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that Peri-Banu said further to Prince Ahmad, “Natheless I will grant this largesse also as the Sultan hath set his mind upon it, and no harm shall come therefrom to me or to thee, albe ’tis a matter of great risk and danger, and it is prompted by not a little of malice and ungraciousness. But give careful heed to my words, nor neglect thou aught of them, or thy destruction is certain-sure. I now will tell thee what to do. In the hall of yonder castle which riseth on that mountain is a fountain sentinelled by four lions fierce and ravening; and they watch and ward the path that leadeth thereto, a pair standing on guard whilst the other two take their turn to rest, and thus no living thing hath power to pass by them. Yet will I make known to thee the means whereby thou mayest win thy wish without any hurt or harm befalling thee from the furious beasts.” Thus saying she drew from an ivory box a clew of thread and, by means of a needle one of those wherewith she had been plying her work, made thereof a ball. This she placed in the hands of her husband, and said, “First, be thou careful that thou keep about thee with all diligence this ball, whose use I shall presently explain to thee. Secondly, choose for thyself two horses of great speed, one for thine own riding, whilst on the other thou shalt load the carcass of a freshly slaughtered sheep cut into four quarters. In the third place, take with thee a phial wherewith I will provide thee, and this is for carrying the water which thou, Inshallah—God willing—shalt bring back. As soon as the morn shall morrow do thou arise with the light and go forth riding thy chosen steed and 478leading the other alongside of thee by the reins. When thou shalt reach the iron portals which open upon the castle-court, at no great distance from the gate, do thou cast the ball of thread upon the ground before thee. Forthwith it will begin rolling onwards of its own will towards the castle door; and do thou follow it through the open entrance until such time as it stop its course. At this moment thou shalt see the four lions; and the two that wake and watch will rouse the twain that sleep and rest. All four will turn their jaws to the ground and growl and roar with hideous howlings, and make as though about to fall upon thee and tear thee limb from limb. However, fear not nor be dismayed, but ride boldly on and throw to the ground from off the led-horse the sheep’s quarters, one to each lion. See that thou alight not from thy steed, but gore his ribs with thy shovel-stirrup[93] and ride with all thy might and main up to the basin which gathereth the water. Here dismount and fill the phial whilst the lions will be busied eating. Lastly, return with all speed and the beasts will not prevent thy passing by them.” Next day, at peep of morn, Prince Ahmad did according to all that Peri-Banu had bidden him and rode forth to the castle. Then, having passed through the iron portals and crossed the court and opened the door, he entered the hall, where he threw the quarters of the sheep before the lions, one to each, and speedily reached the Spring. He filled his phial with water from the basin and hurried back with all haste. But when he had ridden some little distance he turned about and saw two of the guardian lions following upon his track; however, he was on no wise daunted but drew his sabre from the sheath to prepare him for self-protection. Hereat one of the twain seeing him bare his brand for defence, retired a little way from the road and, standing at gaze, 479nodded his head and wagged his tail, as though to pray the Prince to put up his scimitar and to assure him that he might ride in peace and fear no peril. The other lion then sprang forwards ahead of him and kept close him, and the two never ceased to escort him until they reached the city, nay even the gate of the Palace. The second twain also brought up the rear till Prince Ahmad had entered the Palace-door; and, when they were certified of this, all four went back by the way they came. Seeing such wondrous spectacle, the townsfolk all fled in dire dismay, albeit the enchanted beasts molested no man; and presently some mounted horsemen espying their lord riding alone and unattended came up to him and helped him alight. The Sultan was sitting in his audience-hall conversing with his Wazirs and Ministers when his son appeared before him; and Prince Ahmad, having greeted him and blessed him and, in dutiful fashion, prayed for his permanence of existence and prosperity and opulence, placed before his feet the phial full of the water from the Lions’ Spring, saying, “Lo, I have brought thee the boon thou desiredst of me. This water is most rare and hard to obtain; nor is there in all thy Treasure-house aught so notable and of such value as this. If ever thou fall ill of any malady (Almighty Allah forfend this should be in thy Destiny!) then drink a draught thereof and forthwith thou shalt be made whole of whatso distemper thou hast.” When Prince Ahmad had made an end of speaking, the Sultan, with all love and affection, grace and honour, embraced him and kissed his head; then, seating him on his right said, “O my son, I am beholden to thee, beyond count and measure, for that thou hast adventured thy life and brought this water with great irk and risk from so perilous a place.” Now the Witch had erewhile informed the King concerning the Lions’ Spring and of the mortal dangers which beset the site; so that he knew right well how gallant was his son’s derring-do; and presently he said, “Say me, O my child, how couldst thou venture thither and escape from the lions and broughtest 480back the water, thyself remaining safe and sound?”——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Sixty-fourth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that the Prince replied, “By thy favour, O my lord the Sultan, have I returned in safety from that stead mainly because I did according to the bidding of my spouse, the Lady Peri-Banu; and I have brought the water from the Lions’ Spring only by carrying out her commands.” Then he made known to his father all that had befallen him in going and returning; and when the Sultan noted the pre-eminent valiance and prowess of his son he only feared the more, and the malice and the rancour, envy and jealousy which filled his heart waxed tenfold greater than before. However, dissembling his true sentiments he dismissed Prince Ahmad and betaking him to his private chamber at once sent word to bid the Witch appear in the presence; and when she came, he told her of the Prince’s visit and all about the bringing of the water from the Lions’ Spring. She had already heard somewhat thereof by reason of the hubbub in the city at the coming of the lions; but, as soon as she had given ear to the whole account, she marvelled with mighty marvel and, after whispering in the Sultan’s ear her new device, said to him in triumph, “O King of kings, this time thou shalt lay a charge on the Prince and such commandment methinks will trouble him and it shall go hard with him to execute aught thereof.” “Thou sayest well,” replied the Sovran, “now indeed will I try this plan thou hast projected for me.” Wherefore, next day whenas Prince Ahmad came to the presence of his sire, the King said to him, “O dear my child, it delighteth me exceedingly to see thy virtue and valour and the filial love wherewith thou art fulfilled, good gifts chiefly shown by obtaining for me the two rarities I asked of thee. And now one other and final requirement I have of thee; and, shouldst thou avail to satisfy my desire, I shall be 481well pleased in my beloved son and render thanks to him for the rest of my days.” Prince Ahmad answered, “What is the boon thou requirest? I will for my part do thy bidding as far as in me lieth.” Then quoth the King in reply to the Prince, “I would fain have thee bring me a man of size and stature no more than three feet high, with beard full twenty ells in length, who beareth on his shoulder a quarter staff of steel, thirteen score pounds in weight, which he wieldeth with ease and swingeth around his head without wrinkle on brow, even as men wield cudgels of wood.” On this wise the Sultan, led astray by the Doom of Destiny and heedless alike of good and evil, asked that which should bring surest destruction upon himself. Prince Ahmad also, with blind obedience out of pure affection to his parent, was ready to supply him with all he required unknowing what was prepared for him in the Secret Purpose. Accordingly he said, “O my sire the Sultan, I trow me ’twill be hard to find, all the world over, a man such as thou desirest, still I will work my best to do thy bidding.” Thereupon the Prince retired from the presence and returned, as usual, to his palace where he greeted Peri-Banu with love and gladness; but his face was troubled and his heart was heavy at the thought of the King’s last behest. Perceiving his pre-occupation the Princess asked him, saying, “O dear my lord, what tidings bringest thou for me to-day?” Hereto replied he, “The Sultan at each visit requireth of me some new thing and burtheneth me with his requests; and to-day he purposeth to try me and, in the hopes of putting me to shame, he asketh somewhat which ’twere vain to hope I can find in all the world.” Thereupon Prince Ahmad told her all the King had said to him.——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Sixty-fifth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that Peri-Banu hearing these words said to the Prince, “Trouble not thyself at all 482in this matter. Thou didst venture at great risk to carry off for thy father water from the Lions’ Spring and thou succeededst in winning thy wish. Now this task is on no wise more difficult or dangerous than was that: nay, ’tis the easier, for that he thou describest is none other than Shabbar, my brother-german. Although we both have the same parents, yet it pleased Almighty Allah to enform us in different figures and to make him unlike his sister as being in mortal mould can be. Moreover he is valiant and adventurous, always seeking some geste and exploit whereby to further my interest, and right willingly doth he carry out whatso he undertaketh. He is shaped and formed as the Sultan thy sire hath described, nor useth he any weapons save the Nabbút[94] or quarter staff of steel. And see now I will send for him, but be not thou dismayed at sighting him.” Replied Prince Ahmad, “If he be in truth thine own brother what matter how he looketh? I shall be pleased to see him as when one welcometh a valued friend or a beloved kinsman. Wherefore should I fear to look upon him?” Hearing these words Peri-Banu despatched one of her attendants who brought to her from her private treasury a chafing-dish of gold; then she bade a fire be lit therein, and sending for a casket of noble metals studded with gems, the gift of her kinsmen, she took therefrom some incense and cast it upon the flames. Herewith issued a dense smoke spireing high in air and spreading all about the palace; and a few moments after, Peri-Banu who had ceased her conjurations cried, “Lookye my brother Shabbar cometh! canst thou distinguish his form?” The Prince looked up and saw a mannikin in stature dwarfish and no more than three feet high, and with a boss on breast and a hump on back; withal he carried himself with stately mien and majestic air. On his right shoulder was borne his quarter staff of steel thirteen score pounds in weight. His beard was thick and twenty cubits in length but arranged so skilfully that it stood clear off 483from the ground; he wore also a twisted pair of long mustachios curling up to his ears, and all his face was covered with long pile. His eyes were not unlike unto pig’s eyes; and his head, on which was placed a crown-like coiffure, was enormous of bulk, contrasting with the meanness of his stature. Prince Ahmad sat calmly beside his wife, the Fairy, and felt no fear as the figure approached; and presently Shabbar walked up and glancing at him asked Peri-Banu saying, “Who be this mortal who sitteth hard by thee?” Hereto she replied, “O my brother, this is my beloved husband, Prince Ahmad, son of the Sultan of Hindostan. I sent thee not an invitation to the wedding as thou wast then engaged on some great expedition; now, however, by the grace of Almighty Allah thou hast returned triumphant and victorious over thy foes, wherefore I have summoned thee upon a matter which nearly concerneth me.” Hearing these words Shabbar looked graciously at Prince Ahmad, saying, “O my beloved sister, is there any service I can render to him?” and she replied, “The Sultan his sire desireth ardently to see thee, and I pray thee go forthright to him and take the Prince with thee by way of guide.” Said he, “This instant I am ready to set forth;” but said she, “Not yet, O my brother. Thou art fatigued with journeying; so defer until the morrow thy visit to the King, and this evening I will make known to thee all that concerneth Prince Ahmad.” Presently the time came; so Peri-Banu informed her brother Shabbar concerning the King and his ill-counsellors; but she dwelt mainly upon the misdeeds of the old woman, the Witch; and how she had schemed to injure Prince Ahmad and despitefully prevent his going to city or court, and she had gained such influence over the Sultan that he had given up his will to hers and ceased not doing whatso she bade him. Next day at dawn Shabbar the Jinn and Prince Ahmad set out together upon a visit to the Sultan; and, when they had reached the city gates, all the folk, nobles and commons, were struck with consternation at the dwarf’s hideous form; and, flying on every side in affright 484and running into shops and houses, barred the doors and closed the casements and hid themselves therein. So panic-stricken indeed was their flight that many feet lost shoes and sandals in running, while from the heads of others their loosened turbands fell to earth. And when they twain approached the palace through streets and squares and market-places desolate as the Desert of Samáwah,[95] all the keepers of the gates took to their heels at sight of Shabbar and fled, so there was none to hinder their entering. They walked straight on to the audience-chamber where the Sultan was holding Darbar, and they found in attendance on him a host of Ministers and Councillors, great and small, each standing in his proper rank and station. They too on seeing Shabbar speedily took flight in dire dismay and hid themselves; also the guards had deserted their posts nor cared in any way to let or stay the twain. The Sovran still sat motionless on his throne, where Shabbar went up to him with lordly mien and royal dignity and cried, “O King, thou hast expressed a wish to see me; and lo, I am here. Say now what wouldst thou have me do?”——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Sixty-sixth Night.

THEN said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that the King made no reply to Shabbar, but held up his hands before his eyes that he might not behold that frightful figure, and turning his head would fain have fled in terror. Shabbar was filled with fury at this rudeness on the part of the Sultan, and was wroth with exceeding wrath to think that he had troubled himself to come at the bidding of such a craven, who now on seeing him would fain run away. So the Jinn, without an instant’s delay, raised his 485quarter staff of steel, and, swinging it twice in air, before Prince Ahmad could reach the throne or on any wise interfere, struck the Sultan so fiercely upon the poll that his skull was smashed and his brains were scattered over the floor. And when Shabbar had made an end of this offender, he savagely turned upon the Grand Wazir who stood on the Sultan’s right, and incontinently would have slain him also, but the Prince craved pardon for his life and said, “Kill him not: he is my friend and hath at no time said one evil word against me. But such is not the case with the others, his fellows.” Hearing these words the infuriated Shabbar fell upon the Ministers and ill-counsellors on either side, to wit, all who had devised evil devices against Prince Ahmad, and slew them each and every and suffered none to escape save only those who had taken flight and hidden themselves. Then, going from the hall of justice to the courtyard, the Dwarf said to the Wazir whose life the Prince had saved, “Harkye, there is a Witch who beareth enmity against my brother, the husband of my sister. See that thou produce her forthright; likewise the villain who filled his father’s mind with hate and malice, envy and jealousy against him, so may I quite them in full measure for their misdeeds.” The Grand Wazir produced them all, first the Sorceress, and then the malicious minister with his rout of fautors and flatterers, and Shabbar felled them one after the other with his quarter staff of steel and killed them pitilessly, crying to the Sorceress, “This is the end of all thy machinations with the King, and this is the fruit of thy deceit and treachery; so learn not to feign thyself sick.” And in the blindness of his passion he would have slain all the inhabitants of the city, but Prince Ahmad prevented him and pacified him with soft and flattering words. Hereupon Shabbar habited his brother in the royal habit and seated him on the throne and proclaimed him Sultan of Hindostan. The people all, both high and low, rejoiced with exceeding joy to hear these tidings, for Prince Ahmad was beloved by every one; so they crowded to 486swear fealty and bring presents and Nazaránahs[96] and raised shouts of acclamation crying out, “Long live King Ahmad!” When all this was done, Shabbar sent for his sister, Peri-Banu, and made her Queen under the title of Shahr-Banu;[97] and in due time taking leave of her and of King Ahmad, the Jinni returned to his own home.——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Sixty-seventh Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that after these things King Ahmad summoned Prince Ali his brother and Nur al-Nihar and made him governor of a large city hard by the capital, and dismissed him thither in high state and splendour. Also he commissioned an official to wait upon Prince Husayn and tell him all the tidings, and sent word saying, “I will appoint thee ruler over any capital or country thy soul desireth; and, if thou consent, I will forward thee letters of appointment.” But inasmuch as the Prince was wholly content and entirely happy in Darwaysh-hood, he cared naught for rule or government or aught of worldly vanities; so he sent back the official with his duty and 487grateful thanks, requesting that he might be left to live his life in solitude and renunciation of matters mundane. Now when Queen Shahrazad had made an end of telling her story and yet the night was not wholly spent, King Shahryar spake saying, “This thy story, admirable and most wonderful, hath given me extreme delight; and I pray thee do thou tell us another tale till such time as the last hours of this our night be passed.” She replied, “Be it as thou wilt, O auspicious King: I am thy slave to do as thou shalt bid.” Then she began to relate the tale of



In days of yore and in times long gone before there lived a King of Persia, Khusrau Sháh hight, renowned for justice and righteousness. His father, dying at a good old age, had left him sole heir to all the realm and, under his rule, the tiger and the kid drank side by side at the same Ghát[99]; and his treasury was ever full and his troops and guards were numberless. Now it 492was his wont to don disguise and, attended by a trusty Wazir, to wander about the street at night-time. Whereby things seld-seen and haps peregrine became known to him, the which, should I tell thee all thereof, O auspicious King, would weary thee beyond measure. So he took seat upon the throne of his forbears and when the appointed days of mourning were ended, according to the custom of that country, he caused his exalted name, that is Khusrau Shah, be struck upon all the coins of the kingdom and entered into the formula of public prayer.[100] And when stablished in his sovranty he went forth as aforetime on one evening accompanied by his Grand Wazir, both in merchant’s habit, walking the streets and squares, the markets and lanes, the better to note what might take place both of good and of bad. By chance they passed, as the night darkened, through a quarter where dwelt people of the poorer class; and, as they walked on, the Shah heard inside a house women talking with loud voices; then going near, he peeped in by the door-chink, and saw three fair sisters who having supped together were seated on a divan talking one to other. The King thereupon applied his ear to the crack and listened eagerly to what they said, and heard each and every declaring what was the thing she most desired.[101] Quoth the eldest, “I would 493I were married to the Shah’s head Baker for then should I ever have bread to eat, the whitest and choicest in the city, and your hearts would be fulfilled with envy and jealousy and malice at my good luck.” Quoth the second, “I would rather wive with the Shah’s chief Kitchener and eat of dainty dishes that are placed before his Highness, wherewith the royal bread which is common throughout the Palace cannot compare for gust and flavour.” And quoth the third and youngest of the three, and by far the most beautiful and lovely of them all, a maiden of charming nature, full of wit and humour; sharp-witted, wary and wise, when her turn came to tell her wish, “O sisters, my ambition is not as ordinary as yours. I care not for fine bread nor glutton-like do I long for dainty dishes. I look to somewhat nobler and higher: indeed I would desire nothing less than to be married by the King and become the mother of a beautiful Prince, a model of form and in mind as masterful as valorous. His hair should be golden on one side and silvern on the other: when weeping he should drop pearls in place of tears, and when laughing his rosy lips should be fresh as the blossom new-blown.” The Shah was amazed with exceeding amazement to hear the wishes of the three sisters, but chiefly of the youngest and determined in himself that he would gratify them all. Wherefore quoth he to the Grand Wazir, “Mark well this house and on the morrow bring before me these maidens whom we heard discoursing;” and quoth the Wazir, “O Asylum of the Universe, I hear but to obey.” Thereupon the twain walked back to the palace and laid them down to rest. When morning morrowed, the Minister went for the sisters and brought them to the King, who, after greeting them and heartening their hearts, said to them in kindly tone, “O ye maidens of weal, last night what was it that in merry word and jest ye spake one to other? Take heed ye tell the Shah every whit in full detail, for all must become known to us; something have we heard, but now the King would have ye recount your discourse to his royal ears.”——And 494as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Sixty-eighth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that at these words of the Shah the sisters, confused and filled with shame, durst not reply but stood before him silent with heads bent low; and despite all questioning and encouragement they could not pluck up courage. However, the youngest was of passing comeliness in form and feature and forthwith the Shah became desperately enamoured of her; and of his love began reassuring them and saying, “O ye Princesses of fair ones, be not afraid nor troubled in thought; nor let bashfulness or shyness prevent you telling the Shah what three wishes you wished, for fain would he fulfil them all.” Thereat they threw themselves at his feet and, craving his pardon for their boldness and freedom of speech, told him the whole talk, each one repeating the wish she had wished; and on that very day Khusrau Shah married the eldest sister to his chief Baker, and the second sister to his head Cook, and bade make all things ready for his own wedding with the youngest sister. So when the preparations for the royal nuptials had been made after costliest fashion, the King’s marriage was celebrated with royal pomp and pageantry, and the bride received the titles of Light of the Harem and Bánú of Irán-land. The other two maidens were likewise married, one to the King’s Baker the other to his Cook, after a manner according to their several degrees in life and with little show of grandeur and circumstance. Now it had been only right and reasonable that these twain having won each her own wish, should have passed their time in solace and happiness, but the decree of Destiny doomed otherwise; and, as soon as they saw the grand estate whereto their youngest sister had risen, and the magnificence of her marriage-festival, 495their hearts were fired with envy and jealousy and sore despite and they resolved upon giving the rein to their hatred and malignancy and to work her some foul mischief. On this wise they remained for many months consumed with rancour, day and night; and they burned with grief and anger whenever they sighted aught of her superior style and state. One morning as the two met at the Hammám and found privacy and opportunity, quoth the eldest sister to the second, “A grievous thing it is indeed that she, our youngest sister, no lovelier than ourselves, should thus be raised to the dignity and majesty of Queendom and indeed the thought is overhard to bear.” Quoth the other, “O sister mine, I also am perplexed and displeased at this thing, and I know not what of merit the Shah could have seen in her that he was tempted to choose her for his consort. She ill befitteth that high estate with that face like a monkey’s favour; and, save her youth, I know nothing that could commend her to his Highness that he should so exalt her above her fellows. To my mind thou and not she art fit to share the royal bed; and I nurse a grudge against the King for that he hath made this jade his Queen.” And the eldest sister rejoined, “I likewise marvel beyond all measure; and I swear that thy youth and beauty, thy well-shaped figure and lovely favour and goodliness of gifts past challenge or compare, might well have sufficed to win the King and have tempted him to wed and bed with thee and make thee his crowned Queen and Sovran Lady in lieu of taking to his arms this paltry strumpet. Indeed he hath shown no sense of what is right and just in leaving thee disappointed; and on this account only the matter troubleth me with exceeding trouble.”——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Sixty-ninth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that the two sisters took counsel each with other how they might abase 496their youngest sister in the Shah’s sight and cause her downfall and utter ruin. Day and night they conned over the matter in their minds and spoke at great length about it when they ever met together, and pondered endless plans to injure the Queen their sister, and if possible bring about her death; but they could fix upon none. And, whilst they bore this despite and hatred towards her and diligently and deliberately sought the means of gratifying their bitter envy, hatred and malice, she on the other hand regarded them with the same favour and affection as she had done before marriage and thought only how to advantage their low estate. Now when some months of her wedded life had passed, the fair Queen was found to be with child whereof the glad tidings filled the Shah with joy; and straightway he commanded all the people of the capital and throughout the whole Empire keep holiday with feasts and dancing and every manner jollity as became so rare and important an occasion. But as soon as the news came to the ears of the two Envious Sisters they were constrained perforce to offer their congratulations to the Queen; and, after a long visit, as the twain were about to crave dismissal they said, “Thanks be to Almighty Allah, O our sister, who hath shown us this happy day. One boon have we to ask of thee: to wit, that when the time shall come for thee to be delivered of a child, we may assist as midwives at thy confinement, and be with thee and nurse thee for the space of forty days.” The Queen in her gladness made reply, “O sisters mine, I fain would have it so; for at a time of such need I know of none on whom to rely with such dependence as upon you. During my coming trial your presence with me will be most welcome and opportune; but I can do only what thing the Shah biddeth nor can I do aught save by his leave. My advice is thus:—Make known this matter to your mates who have always access to the royal presence, and let them personally apply for your attendance as midwives; I doubt not but that the Shah will give you leave to assist me and remain by my 497side, considering the fond relationship between us three.” Then the two sisters returned home full of evil thoughts and malice, and told their wishes to their husbands who, in turn, bespake Khusrau Shah, and proffered their petition with all humility, little knowing what was hidden from them in the Secret Purpose. The King replied, “When I shall have thought the matter over in my mind, I will give you suitable orders.” So saying he privately visited the Queen and to her said, “O my lady, an it please thee, methinks ’twould be well to summon thy sisters and secure their aidance, when thou shalt be labouring of child, in lieu of any stranger: and if thou be of the same mind as myself let me at once learn and take steps to obtain their consent and concert ere thy time arriveth. They will wait on thee with more loving care than any hired nurse and thou wilt find thyself the safer in their hands.” Replied the Queen, “O my lord the Shah, I also venture to think that ’twould be well to have my sisters by my side and not mere aliens at such an hour.” Accordingly he sent word to them and from that day they dwelt within the palace to make all ready for the expected confinement; and on this wise they found means to carry out their despiteful plot which during so many days they had devised to scanty purpose. When her full tale of months had been told, the Banu was brought to bed of a man-child marvellous in beauty, whereat the fire of envy and hatred was kindled with redoubled fury in the sisters’ breasts. So they again took counsel nor suffered ruth or natural affection to move their cruel hearts; and presently, with great care and secrecy, they wrapped the new-born in a bit of blanket and putting him into a basket cast him into a canal which flowed hard by the Queen’s apartment.[102] 498They then placed a dead puppy in the place of the prince and showed it to the other midwives and nurses, averring that the Queen had given birth to such abortion. When these untoward tidings reached the King’s ears he was sore discomforted and waxed wroth with exceeding wrath.——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Seventieth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that the King, inflamed with sudden fierceness, drew his sword and would have slain his Queen had not the Grand Wazir, who happened to be in his presence at the time, restrained his rage and diverted him from his unjust design and barbarous purpose. Quoth he, “O Shadow of Allah upon earth, this mishap is ordained of the Almighty Lord whose will no man hath power to gainsay. The Queen is guiltless of offence against thee, for what is born of her is born without her choice, and she indeed hath no hand therein.” With this and other sage counsels he dissuaded his lord from carrying out his fell purpose and saved the guiltless Queen from a sudden and cruel death. Meanwhile the basket wherein lay the newly-born Prince was carried by the current into a rivulet which flowed through the royal gardens; and, as the Intendant of the 499pleasure grounds and pleasaunces chanced to walk along the bank, by the decree of Destiny he caught sight of the basket floating by, and he called a gardener, bidding him lay hold of it and bring it to him that he might see what was therein. The man ran along the rivulet side; and, with a long stick drawing the basket to land, showed it to the Intendant who opened it and beheld within a new-born babe, a boy of wondrous beauty wrapped in a bit of blanket; at which sight he was astounded beyond measure of surprise. Now it so chanced that the Intendant, who was one of the Emirs and who stood high in favour with the Sovran, had no children: withal he never ceased offering prayers and vows to Almighty Allah that he might have a son to keep alive his memory and continue his name. Delighted at the sight he took home the basket with the babe and giving it to his wife said, “See how Allah hath sent to us this man-child which I just now found floating upon the waters; and do thou apply thee forthright and fetch a wet-nurse to give him milk and nourish him; and bring him up with care and tenderness as though he were thine own.” So the Intendant’s wife took charge of the child with great gladness and reared him with her whole heart, diligently as though born of her own womb; nor did the Intendant say aught to any, or seek to find out whose might be the child lest haply some one claim and take it from him. He was certified in his mind that the boy came from the Queen’s quarter of the palace, but deemed it inexpedient to make too strict enquiry concerning the matter; and he and his spouse kept the secret with all secrecy. A year after this the Queen gave birth to a second son, when her sisters, the Satanesses full of spite, did with this babe, even as they had done by the first: they wrapped it in a cloth and set it in a basket which they threw into the stream, then gave out that the Queen had brought forth a kitten. But once more, by the mercy of Allah Almighty, this boy came to the hands of that same Intendant of the gardens who carried him to his wife and placed him 500under her charge with strict injunctions to take care of the second foundling sedulously as she had done with the first. The Shah, enraged to hear the evil tidings, again rose up to slay the Queen; but as before the Grand Wazir prevented him and calmed his wrath with words of wholesome rede and a second time saved the unhappy mother’s life. And after another year had gone by the Banu was brought to bed and this time bore a daughter by whom the sisters did as they had done by her brothers: they set the innocent inside a basket and threw her into the stream; and the Intendant found her also and took her to his wife and bade her rear the infant together with the other two castaways. Hereupon the Envious Sisters, wild with malice, reported that the Queen had given birth to a musk-ratling;[103] whereat King Khusrau could no longer stay his wrath and indignation. So he cried in furious rage to the Grand Wazir, “What, shall the Shah suffer this woman, who beareth naught but vermin and abortions, to share the joys of his bed? Nay more, the King can no longer allow her to live, else she will fill the palace with monstrous births: in very sooth, she is herself a monster, and it behoveth us to rid this place of such unclean creature and accursed.” So saying the Shah commanded them do her to death; but the ministers and high officers of estate who stood before the presence fell at the royal feet and besought pardon and mercy for the Queen. The Grand Wazir also said with folded hands, “O Sháhinsháh[104]—O King of the kings—thy slave would fain represent that ’tis not in accordance 501with the course of justice or the laws of the land to take the life of a woman for no fault of her own. She cannot interfere with Destiny, nor can she prevent unnatural births such as have thrice betided her; and such mishaps have oftentimes befallen other women, whose cases call for compassion and not punishment. An the King be displeased with her then let him cease to live with her, and the loss of his gracious favour will be a penalty dire enough; and, if the Shah cannot suffer the sight of her, then let her be confined in some room apart, and let her expiate her offence by alms deeds and charity until ’Izráíl, the Angel of Death, separate her soul from her flesh.” Hearing these words of counsel from his aged Councillor, Khusrau Shah recognised that it had been wrong to slay the Queen, for that she could on no wise do away with aught that was determined by Fate and Destiny; and presently he said to the Grand Wazir, “Her life is spared at thine intercession, O wise man and ware; yet will the King doom her to a weird which, haply, is hardly less hard to bear than death. And now do thou forthright make ready, by the side of the Cathedral-mosque, a wooden cage with iron bars and lock the Queen therein as one would confine a ferocious wild beast.[105] Then every Mussulman who wendeth his way to public prayers shall spit in her face ere he set foot within the fane, and if any fail to carry out this command he shall be punished in like manner. So place guards and inspectors to enforce obedience and let me hear if there be aught of gainsaying.” The Wazir durst not make reply but carried out the Shah’s commandments; and this punishment inflicted upon the blameless Queen had far better befitted her Envious Sisters.——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Seventy-first Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that the cage was made ready with all speed; and, when the forty days after purification of child-bed[106] had come to an end, the Banu was locked therein; and, according to the King’s commandment, all who came to prayer in the Great Mosque would first spit in her face. The hapless woman, well knowing that she was not worthy of this ignominy, bore her sufferings with all patience and fortitude; nor were they few who deemed her blameless and undeserving to endure these torments and tortures inflicted upon her by the Shah; and they pitied her and offered prayers and made vows for her release. Meanwhile the Intendant of the gardens and his wife brought up the two Princes and the Princess with all love and tenderness; and, as the children grew in years, their love for these adopted ones increased in like proportion. They gave the eldest Prince the name Bahman,[107] and to his brother Parwez;[108] and, as the maiden was rare of beauty and passing of loveliness and graciousness, they called her Perízádah.[109] When the Princes became of years to receive instruction, the Intendant of the gardens appointed tutors and masters to teach them reading and writing and all the arts and sciences: the Princess also, showing like eagerness to acquire knowledge, was taught letters by the same 503instructors, and soon could read and write with as perfect fluency and facility as could her brothers. Then they were placed under the most learned of the Philosophers and the Olema, who taught them the interpretation of the Koran and the sayings of the Apostle; the science of geometry as well as poetry and history, and even the abstruse sciences and the mystic doctrines of the Enlightened; and their teachers were astonished to find how soon and how far all three made progress in their studies and bid fair to outstrip even the sages however learned. Moreover, they all three were reared to horsemanship and skill in the chase, to shooting with shafts and lunging with lance and sway of sabre and jerking the Jeríd, with other manly and warlike sports. Besides all this the Princess Perizadah was taught to sing and play on various instruments of mirth and merriment, wherein she became the peerless pearl of her age and time. The Intendant was exceeding glad of heart to find his adopted children prove themselves such proficients in every branch of knowledge; and presently, forasmuch as his lodging was small and unfit for the growing family, he bought at a little distance from the city a piece of land sufficiently large to contain fields and meadows and copses. Here he fell to building a mansion of great magnificence; and busied himself day and night with supervising the architects and masons and other artificers. He adorned the walls inside and out with sculptural work of the finest and paintings of the choicest, and he fitted every apartment with richest furniture. In the front of his mansion he bade lay out a garden and stocked it with scented flowers and fragrant shrubs and fruit trees whose produce was as that of Paradise. There was moreover a large park girt on all sides by a high wall wherein he reared game, both fur and feather, as sport for the two Princes and their sister. And when the mansion was finished and fit for habitation, the Intendant, who had faithfully served the Shah for many generations of men, craved leave of his lord that he might bid adieu to the city and take up his 504abode in his new country seat; and the King, who had always looked upon him with the eye of favour, granted to him the required boon right heartily; furthermore, to prove his high opinion of his old servant and his services, he inquired of him if he had aught to request that it might be granted to him. Replied the other, “O my liege lord, thy slave desireth naught save that he may spend the remnant of his days under the shadow of the Shah’s protection, with body and soul devoted to his service, even as I served the sire before the son.” The Shah dismissed him with words of thanks and comfort, when he left the city and taking with him the two Princes and their sister, he carried them to his newly-built mansion. Some years before this time his wife had departed to the mercy of Allah, and he had passed only five or six months in his second home when he too suddenly fell sick and was admitted into the number of those who have found ruth. Withal he had neglected every occasion of telling his three foundlings the strange tale of their birth and how he had carried them to his home as castaways and had reared them as rearlings and had cherished them as his own children. But he had time to charge them, ere he died, that they three should never cease to live together in love and honour and affection and respect one towards other. The loss of their protector caused them to grieve with bitter grief, for they all thought he was their real father; so they bewailed them and buried him as befitted; after which the two brothers and their sister dwelt together in peace and plenty. But one day of the days the Princes, who were full of daring and of highest mettle, rode forth a-hunting and Princess Perizadah was left alone at home when an ancient woman——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Seventy-second Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that perchance an ancient woman of the Moslems, a recluse and a devotee 505came to the door and begged leave to enter within and repeat her prayers, as it was then the canonical hour and she had but time to make the Wuzú-ablution. Perizadah bade bring her and saluted her with the salam and kindly welcomed her; then, when the holy woman had made an end of her orisons, the handmaids of the Princess, at her command, conducted her all through the house and grounds, and displayed to her the rooms with their furniture and fittings, and lastly the garden and orchard and game-park. She was well pleased with all she saw and said within herself, “The man who built this mansion and laid out these parterres and vergiers was verily an accomplished artist and a wight of marvellous skill.” At last the slaves led her back to the Princess who, awaiting her return, was sitting in the belvedere; and quoth she to the devotee, “Come, O good my mother, do thou sit beside me and make me happy by the company of a pious recluse whom I am fortunate enough to have entertained unawares, and suffer I listen to thy words of grace and thereby gain no small advantage in this world and the next. Thou hast chosen the right path and straight whereon to walk, and that which all men strive for and pine for.” The holy woman would fain have seated herself at the feet of the Princess, but she courteously arose and took her by the hand and constrained her to sit beside her. Quoth she, “O my lady, mine eyes never yet beheld one so well-mannered as thou art: indeed, I am unworthy to sit with thee, natheless, as thou biddest, I will e’en do thy bidding.” As they sat conversing each with other the slave-girls set before them a table whereon were placed some platters of bread and cakes with saucers full of fruits both fresh and dried, and various kinds of cakes and sweetmeats. The Princess took one of the cakes and giving it to the good woman said, “O my mother, refresh thyself herewith and eat of the fruits such as thou likest. ’Tis now long since thou didst leave thy home and I trow thou hast not tasted aught of food upon the road.” Replied the holy woman, “O lady of gentle birth, I am 506not wont to taste of dainty dishes such as these, but I can ill refuse thy provision, since Allah the Almighty deigneth send me food and support by so liberal and generous a hand as thine.” And when they twain had eaten somewhat and cheered their hearts, the Princess asked the devotee concerning the manner of her worship and of her austere life; whereto she made due answer and explained according to her knowledge. The Princess then exclaimed, “Tell me, I pray thee, what thou thinkest of this mansion and the fashion of its building and the furniture and the appurtenances; and say me is all perfect and appropriate, or is aught still lacking in mansion or garden?” And she replied, “Since thou deignest ask my opinion, I confess to thee that both the building and the parterres are finished and furnished to perfection; and the belongings are in the best of taste and in the highest of ordinance. Still to my thinking there be three things here wanting, which if thou hadst the place would be most complete.” The Princess Perizadah adjured her saying, “O my aunt, I beseech thee tell me what three articles yet are lacking, that I may lose nor pains nor toil to obtain them;” and, as the maiden pressed her with much entreaty, the devotee was constrained to tell her. Quoth she, “O gentle lady, the first thing is the Speaking-Bird, called Bulbul-i-hazár-dástán;[110] he is very rare and hard to find but, whenever he poureth out his melodious notes, thousands of birds fly to him from every side and join him in his harmony. The next thing is the Singing-Tree, whose smooth and glossy leaves when shaken by the wind and rubbed one against other send forth tuneful tones which strike the ear like the notes of sweet-voiced minstrels, ravishing the hearts of all who listen. The third thing is the 507Golden-Water of transparent purity, whereof should but one drop be dripped into a basin and this be placed inside the garden it presently will fill the vessel brimful and will spout upwards in gerbes playing like a fountain that jets: moreover it never ceaseth plying, and all the water as it shooteth up falleth back again inside the basin, not one gout thereof being lost.” Replied the Princess, “I doubt not but thou knowest for a certainty the very spot where these wondrous things are to be found; and I pray thee tell me now the place and means whereby I may take action to obtain them.”——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Seventy-third Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that the holy woman thus answered the Princess, “These three rarities are not to be found, save on the boundary-line that lieth between the land of Hind and the confining countries, a score of marches along the road that leadeth Eastwards from this mansion. Let him who goeth forth in quest of them ask the first man he meeteth on the twentieth stage concerning the spot where he may find the Speaking-Bird, the Singing-Tree and the Golden-Water; and he will direct the seeker where to come upon all three.” When she had made an end of speaking the Devotee, with many blessings and prayers and vows for her well-being, farewelled the lady Perizadah and fared forth homewards. The Princess, however, ceased not to ponder her words and ever to dwell in memory upon the relation of the holy woman who, never thinking that her hostess had asked for information save by way of curiosity, nor really purposed in mind to set forth with intent of finding the rarities, had heedlessly told all she knew and had given a clue to the discovery. But Perizadah kept these matters deeply graven on the tablets of her heart with firm resolution to follow the directions and, by all 508means in her power, to gain possession of these three wonders. Withal, the more she reflected the harder appeared the enterprise, and her fear of failing only added to her unease. Now whilst she sat perplexed with anxious thought and anon terrified with sore affright, her brothers rode back from the hunting-ground; and they marvelled much to see her sad of semblance and low-spirited, wondering the while what it was that troubled her. Presently quoth Prince Bahman, “O sister mine, why art thou so heavy of heart this day? Almighty Allah forbid thou be ill in health or that aught have betided thee to cause thy displeasure or to make thee melancholy. Tell us I beseech thee what it is, that we may be sharers in thy sorrow and be alert to aid thee.” The Princess answered not a word, but after long silence raised her head and looked up at her brothers; then casting down her eyes she said in curt phrase that naught was amiss with her. Quoth Prince Bahman, “Full well I wot that there is a somewhat on thy mind which thou hesitatest to tell us; and now hear me swear a strong oath that I will never leave thy side till thou shalt have told us what cause it is that troubleth thee. Haply thou art aweary of our affection and thou wouldst undo the fraternal tie which hath united us from our infancy.” When she saw her brothers so distressed and distraught, she was compelled to speak and said, “Albeit, O my dearlings, to tell you wherefore I am sad and sorrowful may cause you grief, still there is no help but I explain the matter to you twain. This mansion, which our dear father (who hath found ruth) builded for us, is perfect in every attribute nor lacketh it any condition of comfort or completion. Howbeit I have found out by chance this day that there are yet three things which, were they set within these walls, of the house and grounds, would make our place beyond compare, and in the wide world there would be naught with it to pair. These three things are the Speaking-Bird and the Singing-Tree and the Golden-Water; and ever since I heard of them my heart is filled with extreme desire 509to place them within our domain and excessive longing to obtain them by any means within my power. It now behoveth you help me with your best endeavour and to consider what person will aid me in getting possession of these rarities.” Replied Prince Bahman, “My life and that of my brother are at thy service to carry out thy purpose with heart and soul; and, couldst thou give me but a clue to the place where these strange things are found, I would sally forth in quest of them at daybreak as soon as the morning shall morrow.” When Prince Parwez understood that his brother was about to make this journey, he spake saying, “O my brother, thou art eldest of us, so do thou stay at home while I go forth to seek for these three things and bring them to our sister. And indeed it were more fitting for me to undertake a task which may occupy me for years.” Replied Prince Bahman, “I have full confidence in thy strength and prowess, and whatso I am able to perform thou canst do as well as I can. Still it is my firm resolve to fare forth upon this adventure alone and unaided, and thou must stay and take care of our sister and our home.” So next day Prince Bahman learned from the Princess the road whereon he was to travel and the marks and signs whereby to find the place. Presently, he donned armour and arms and bidding the twain adieu, he took horse and was about to ride forth with the stoutest of hearts, whereat Princess Perizadah’s eyes brimmed with tears and in faltering accents she addressed him saying, “O dear my brother, this bitter separation is heart-breaking; and sore sorrowful am I to see thee part from us. This disunion and thine absence in a distant land cause me grief and woe far exceeding that wherewith I mourned and pined for the rarities wherefor thou quittest us. If only we might have some news of thee from day to day then would I feel somewhat comforted and consoled; but now ’tis clear otherwise and regret is of none avail.”——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Seventy-fourth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that Prince Bahman made answer in these words: “O sister mine, I am fully determined in mind to attempt this derring-do: be thou not however anxious or alarmed, for Inshallah—God willing—I shall return successful and triumphant. After my departure shouldst thou at any time feel in fear for my safety, then by this token which I leave thee thou shalt know of my fate and lot, good or evil.” Then, drawing from his waist-shawl a little hunting-knife like a whittle, he gave it to Princess Perizadah, saying, “Take now this blade and keep it ever by thee; and shouldst thou at any day or hour be solicitous concerning my condition, draw it from its sheath; and, if the steel be clean and bright as ’tis now then know that I am alive and safe and sound; but an thou find stains of blood thereon then shalt thou know that I am slain, and naught remaineth for thee to do save to pray for me as for one dead.” With these words of solace the Prince departed on his journey, and travelled straight along the road to India, turning nor to right hand nor to left but ever keeping the same object in view. Thus a score of days was spent in journeying from the land of Iran, and upon the twentieth he reached the end of his travel. Here he suddenly sighted an ancient man of frightful aspect sitting beneath a tree hard by his thatched hut wherein he was wont to shelter himself from the rains of spring and the heats of summer and the autumnal miasmas and the wintry frosts. So shotten in years was this Shaykh that hair and beard, mustachios and whiskers were white as snow, and the growth of his upper lip was so long and so thick that it covered and concealed his mouth, while his beard swept the ground and the nails of his hands and feet had grown to resemble the claws of a wild beast. Upon his head he wore a 511broad-brimmed hat of woven palm-leaves like that of a Malábár fisherman, and all his remaining habit was a strip of matting girded around his waist. Now this Shaykh was a Darwaysh who for many years had fled the world and all worldly pleasures; who lived a holy life of poverty and chastity and other-worldliness whereby his semblance had become such as I, O auspicious King, have described to thee. From early dawn that day Prince Bahman had been watchful and vigilant, ever looking on all sides to descry some one who could supply him with information touching the whereabouts of the rarities he sought; and this was the first human being he had sighted on that stage, the twentieth and last of his journey. So he rode up to him, being assured that the Shaykh must be the wight of whom the holy woman had spoken. Then Prince Bahman dismounting and making low obeisance to the Darwaysh, said, “O my father, Allah Almighty prolong thy years and grant thee all thy wishes!” Whereto the Fakir made answer but in accents so indistinct that the Prince could not distinguish a single word he said; and presently Bahman understood that his moustache had on such wise closed and concealed his mouth that his utterance became indistinct and he only muttered when he would have spoken. He therefore haltered his horse to a tree and pulling out a pair of scissors said, “O holy man, thy lips are wholly hidden by this overlong hair; suffer me, I pray thee, clip the bristling growth which overspreadeth thy face and which is so long and thick that thou art fearsome to behold; nay, more like to a bear than to a human being.” The Darwaysh with a nod consented, and when the Prince had clipped it and trimmed the growth, his face once more looked young and fresh as that of a man in the prime of youth. Presently quoth Bahman to him, “Would Heaven I had a mirror wherein to show thee thy face, so wouldst thou see how youthful thou seemest, and how thy favour hath become far more like that of folk than whilom it was.” These flattering words pleased the Darwaysh who smiling 512said, “I thank thee much for this thy goodly service and kindly offices; and, if in return I can do aught of favour for thee, I pray thee let me know, and I will attempt to satisfy thee in all things with my very heart and soul.” Then said the Prince, “O holy man, I have come hither from far distant lands along a toilsome road in quest of three things; to wit, a certain Speaking-Bird, a Singing-Tree and a Golden-Water; and this know I for certain that they are all to be found hard by this site.”——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Seventy-fifth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that the Prince, turning to the Darwaysh, continued, “O Devotee, albeit well I wot that the three things I seek are in this land and nearhand, yet I know not the exact spot wherein to find them. An thou have true information concerning the place and will inform me thereof, I on my part will never forget thy kindness, and I shall have the satisfaction of feeling that this long and toilsome wayfare hath not been wholly vain.” Hearing these words of the Prince, the Darwaysh changed countenance and his face waxed troubled and his colour wan; then he bent his glance downwards and sat in deepest silence. Whereat the other said, “O holy father, dost thou not understand the words wherewith I have bespoken thee? An thou art ignorant of the matter prithee let me know straightway that I may again fare onwards until such time as I find a man who can inform me thereof.” After a long pause the Darwaysh made reply, “O stranger, ’tis true I ken full well the site whereof thou art in search; but I hold thee dear in that thou hast been of service to me; and I am loath for thine own sake to tell thee where to find that stead.” And the Prince rejoined, “Say me, O Fakir, why dost thou withhold this knowledge from me, and wherefore art thou not lief to let 513me learn it?” Replied the other, “’Tis a hard road to travel and full of perils and dangers. Besides thyself many have come hither and have asked the path of me, and I refused to tell them, but they heeded not my warning and pressed me sore and compelled me to disclose the secret which I would have buried in my breast. Know, O my son, that all those braves have perished in their pride and not one of them hath returned to me safe and sound. Now, an thy life be dear to thee, follow my counsel and fare no further, but rather turn thee back without stay or delay and make for house and home and family.” Hereto Prince Bahman, stern in resolution, made reply, “Thou hast after kindly guise and friendly fashion advised me with the best of advice; and I, having heard all thou hast to say, do thank thee gratefully. But I reck not one jot or tittle of what dangers affront me, nor shall thy threats however fatal deter me from my purpose: moreover, if thieves or foemen haply fall upon me, I am armed at point and can and will protect myself, for I am certified that none can outvie me in strength and stowre.” To this the Fakir made reply, “The beings who will cut thy path and bar thy progress to that place are unseen of man, nor will they appear to thee on any wise: how then canst thou defend thyself against them?” And he replied, “So be it, still I fear not and I pray thee only show me the road thither.” When the Darwaysh was assured that the Prince had fully determined in mind to attempt the exploit and would by no means turn or be turned back from carrying out his purpose, he thrust his hand into a bag which lay hard by and took therefrom a ball, and said, “Alas, O my son, thou wilt not accept my counsel and I needs must let thee follow thy wilful way. Take this ball and, mounting thy horse, throw it in front of thee, and as long as it shall roll onwards do thou ride after it, but when it shall stop at the hill-foot dismount from thy horse and throw the reins upon his neck and leave him alone, for he will stay there without moving 514until such time as thou return. Then manfully breast the ascent, and on either side of the path, right and left, thou shalt see a scatter of huge black boulders. Here the sound of many voices in confused clamour and frightful will suddenly strike thine ears, to raise thy wrath and to fill thee with fear and hinder thy higher course uphill. Have a heed that thou be not dismayed, also beware, and again I say beware, lest thou turn thy head at any time and cast a look backwards. An thy courage fail thee, or thou allow thyself one glance behind thee, thou shalt be transformed that very moment into a black rock; for know thou, O Prince, that all those stones which thou shalt see strewn upon thy way were men whilom and braves like thyself, who went forth with intent to gain the three things thou seekest, but frightened at those sounds lost human shape and became black boulders. However, shouldst thou reach the hill-top safe and sound, thou shalt find on the very summit a cage and perched therein the Speaking-Bird ready to answer all thy queries. So ask of him where thou mayest find the Singing-Tree and the Golden-Water, and he will tell thee all thou requirest. When thou shalt safely have seized all three thou wilt be free from further danger; yet, inasmuch as thou hast not yet set out upon this journey give ear to my counsel. I beg of thee desist from this thy purpose and return home in peace whilst thou hast yet the power.”——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Seventy-sixth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that the Prince made answer to the Darwaysh, “Until, O thou holy man, such time as I win to my purpose I will not go back; no, never; therefore adieu.” So he mounted his horse and threw the ball in front of him; and it rolled forward at racing-speed and he, with gaze intent thereupon, rode after it and did not suffer it to gain 515upon him. When it had reached the hill whereof the Darwaysh spake, it ceased to make further way, whereupon the Prince dismounted and throwing the reins on his horse’s neck left him and fared on afoot to the slope. As far as he could see, the line of his path from the hill-foot to the head was strewn with a scatter of huge black boulders; withal his heart felt naught of fear. He had not taken more than some four or five paces before a hideous din and a terrible hubbub of many voices arose, even as the Darwaysh had forewarned him. Prince Bahman, however, walked on valiantly with front erect and fearless tread, but he saw no living thing and heard only the Voices[111] sounding all around him. Some said, “Who is yon fool man and whence hath he come? Stop him, let him not pass!” Others shouted out, “Fall on him, seize this zany and slay him!” Then the report waxed louder and louder still, likest to the roar of thunder, and many Voices yelled out, “Thief! Assassin! Murtherer!” Another muttered in taunting undertones, “Let him be, fine fellow that he is! Suffer him to pass on, for he and he only shall get the cage and the Speaking-Bird.” The Prince feared naught but advanced hot foot with his wonted nerve and spirit; presently, however, when the Voices kept approaching nearer and nearer to him and increased in number on every side, he was sore perplexed. His legs began to tremble, he staggered and in fine overcome by fear he clean forgot the warning of the Darwaysh and looked back, whereat he was incontinently turned to stone like the scores of knights and adventurers who had foregone him. Meantime the Princess Perizadah ever carried the hunting-knife, which Bahman her brother had given her, sheathed as it was in her 516maiden zone. She had kept it there ever since he set out upon his perilous expedition, and whenever she felt disposed she would bare the blade and judge by its sheen how fared her brother. Now until that day when he was transmewed to stone she found it, as often as she looked at it, clean and bright; but on the very evening when that evil fate betided him perchance Prince Parwez said to Perizadah, “O sister mine, give me I pray thee the hunting-knife that I may see how goeth it with our brother.” She took it from her waist-belt and handed it to him; and as soon as he unsheathed the knife lo and behold! he saw gouts of gore begin to drop from it. Noting this he dashed the hunting-knife down and burst out into loud lamentations, whilst the Princess who divined what had happened shed a flood of bitter tears and cried with sighs and sobs, “Alas, O my brother, thou hast given thy life for me. Ah, woe is me and well-away! why did I tell thee of the Speaking-Bird and the Singing-Tree and the Golden-Water? Wherefore did I ask that holy woman how she liked our home, and hear of those three things in answer to my question? Would to Heaven she had never crossed our threshold and darkened our doors! Ungrateful hypocrite, dost thou requite me on such wise for the favour and the honour I was fain to show thee; and what made me ask of thee the means whereby to win these things? If now I obtain possession of them what will they advantage me, seeing that my brother Bahman is no more? What should I ever do with them?” Thus did Perizadah indulge her grief bewailing her sad fate; while Parwez in like manner moaned for his brother Bahman with exceeding bitter mourning. At last the Prince, who despite his sorrow was assured that his sister still ardently desired to possess the three marvels, turned to Perizadah and said, “It behoveth me, O my sister, to set out forthright and to discover whether Bahman our brother met his death by doom of Destiny, or whether some enemy have slain him; and if he hath been killed then must I take full vengeance on his murtherer.” Perizadah 517besought him with much weeping and wailing not to leave her, and said, “O joy of my heart, Allah upon thee, follow not in the footsteps of our dear departed brother nor quit me in order to attempt a journey so rife in risks. I care naught for those things in my fear lest I lose thee also while attempting such enterprise.” But Prince Parwez would on no wise listen to her lament and next day took leave of her, but ere he fared she said to him, “The hunting-knife which Bahman left with me was the means of informing us concerning the mishap which happened to him; but, say me how shall I know what happeneth to thee?” Then he produced a string of pearls which numbered one hundred and said, “As long as thou shalt see these pearls all parted one from other and each running loose upon the string, then do thou know that I am alive; but an thou shouldst find them fixed and adhering together then be thou ware that I am dead.” The Princess taking the string of pearls hung it around her neck, determined to observe it hour after hour and find out how it fared with her second brother. After this Prince Parwez set out upon his travels and at the twentieth stage came to the same spot where Bahman had found the Darwaysh and saw him there in like condition. Then, after saluting him with the salam, the Prince asked, “Canst thou tell me where to find the Speaking-Bird and the Singing-Tree and the Golden-Water; and by what manner of means I may get possession of them? An thou can I pray thee inform me of this matter.”——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Seventy-seventh Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that the Darwaysh strave to stay Prince Parwez from his design and shewed him all the dangers on the way. Quoth he, “Not many days ago one like unto thee in years and in features came hither and 518enquired of me concerning the matter thou now seekest. I warned him of the perils of the place and would have weaned him from his wilful ways, but he paid no wise heed to my warnings and refused to accept my counsel. He went off with full instructions from me how to find those things he sought; but as yet he hath not returned, and doubtless he also hath perished like the many who preceded him upon that perilous enterprise.” Then said Prince Parwez, “O holy father, I know the man of whom thou speakest, for that he was my brother; and I learned that he was dead, but have no inkling of the cause whereby he died.” Replied the Darwaysh, “O my lord, I can inform thee on this matter; he hath been transmewed into a black stone, like the others of whom I just now spake to thee. If thou wilt not accept my advice and act according to my counsel thou also surely shalt perish by the same means as did thy brother; and I solemnly forewarn thee to desist from this endeavour.” Prince Parwez having pondered these words, presently made reply, “O Darwaysh, I thank thee again and again and am much beholden to thee in that thou art fain of my welfare and thou hast given me the kindest of counsel and the friendliest of advice; nor am I worthy of such favours bestowed upon a stranger. But now remaineth naught for me to beseech save that thou wilt point out the path, for I am fully purposed to fare forwards and on no wise to desist from my endeavour. I pray thee favour me with full instructions for the road even as thou favourest my brother.” Then said the Darwaysh, “An thou wilt not lend ear to my warnings and do as I desire thee, it mattereth to me neither mickle nor little. Choose for thyself and I by doom of Destiny must perforce forward thy attempt and albeit, by reason of my great age and infirmities, I may not conduct thee to the place I will not grudge thee a guide.” Then Prince Parwez mounted his horse and the Darwaysh taking one of many balls from out his scrip placed it in the youth’s hands, directing him the while what to do, as he had counselled his 519brother Bahman; and, after giving him much advice and many warnings he ended with saying, “O my lord, have a heed not to be perplexed and terrified by the threatening Voices,[112] and sounds from unseen beings, which shall strike thine ear; but advance dauntless to the hill-top where thou shalt find the cage with the Speaking-Bird and the Singing-Tree and the Golden-Water.” The Fakir then bid him adieu with words of good omen and the Prince set forth. He threw the ball on the ground before him and, as it rolled up the path, he urged his horse to keep pace with it. But when he reached the hill-foot and saw that the ball had stopped and lay still, he dismounted forthright and paused awhile ere he should begin to climb and conned well in his mind the directions, one and all, given to him by the Darwaysh. Then, with firm courage and fast resolve, he set out afoot to reach the hill-top. But hardly had he begun to climb before he heard a voice beside him threatening him in churlish tongue and crying, “O youth of ill-omen, stand still that I may trounce thee for this thine insolence.” Hearing these insulting words of the Invisible Speaker, Prince Parwez felt his blood boil over; he could not refrain his rage and in his passion he clean forgot the words of wisdom wherewith the Fakir had warned him. He seized his sword and drawing it from the scabbard, turned about to slay the man who durst insult him on such wise; but he saw no one and, in the act of looking back both he and his horse became black stones. Meanwhile the Princess ceased not at all hours of the day and watches of the night to consult the string of pearls which Parwez had left her: she counted them overnight when she retired to rest, she slept with them around her neck during the hours of darkness, and when she awoke at the dawn of day she first of all consulted them and noted their condition. Now at the very hour when her second brother was turned to stone she found 520the pearls sticking one to other so close together that she might not move a single bead apart from its fellows and she knew thereby that Prince Parwez also was lost to her for ever.——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Seventy-eighth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that the Princess Perizadah was sore grieved at so sudden a blow and said to herself, “Ah! woe is me and well-away! How bitter will be living without the love of such brothers whose youthtide was sacrificed for me! ’Tis but right that I share their fate whate’er be my lot; else what shall I have to say on the Day of Doom and the Resurrection of the Dead and the Judgment of Mankind?” Wherefore next morning, without further let or stay, she donned disguise of man’s attire; and, warning her women and slaves that she would be absent on an errand for a term of days during which they would be in charge of the house and goods, she mounted her hackney and set out alone and unattended. Now, inasmuch as she was skilled in horsemanship and had been wont to accompany her brothers when hunting and hawking, she was better fitted than other women to bear the toils and travails of travel. So on the twentieth day she arrived safe and sound at the hermitage-hut where, seeing the same Shaykh, she took seat beside him and after salaming to him and greeting him she asked him, “O holy father, suffer me to rest and refresh myself awhile in this site of good omen; then deign point out to me, I pray thee, the direction of the place, at no far distance herefrom, wherein are found a certain Speaking-Bird and a Singing-Tree and a Golden-Water. An thou wilt tell me I shall deem this the greatest of favour.” Replied the Darwaysh, “Thy voice revealeth to me that thou art a woman and no man, albeit attired in male’s apparel. Well I wot the stead whereof thou speakest 521and which containeth the marvellous things thou hast named. But say me, what is thy purpose in asking me?” The Princess made reply, “I have been told many a tale anent these rare and wondrous things, and I would fain get possession of them and bear them to my home and make them its choicest adornments.” And said the Fakir, “O my daughter, in very truth these matters are exceeding rare and admirable: right fit are they for fair ones like thyself to win and take back with thee, but thou hast little inkling of the dangers manifold and dire that encompass them. Better far were it for thee to cast away this vain thought and go back by the road thou camest.” Replied the Princess, “O holy father and far-famed anchorite, I come from a distant land whereto I will nevermore return except after winning my wish; no, never! I pray thee tell me the nature of those dangers and what they be, that hearing thereof my heart may judge if I have or have not the strength and the spirit to meet them.” Then the Shaykh described to the Princess all the risks of the road as erst he had informed Princes Bahman and Parwez; and he ended with saying, “The dangers will display themselves as soon as thou shalt begin to climb the hill-foot and shall not end till such time as thou wilt have reached the hill-head where is the home of the Speaking-Bird. Then, if thou be fortunate enough to seize him, he will direct thee where to find the Singing-Tree and the Golden-Water. All the time thou climbest the hill, Voices from throats unseen and accents fierce and fell shall resound in thine ears. Furthermore, thou shalt see black rocks and boulders strewn upon thy path; and these, thou must know, are the transformed bodies of men who with exceeding courage attempted the same enterprise, but filled with sudden fear and tempted to turn and to look backwards were changed into stones. Now do thou steadily bear in mind what was their case. At the first they listened to those fearful sounds and cursings with firm souls, but anon their hearts and minds misgave them, or, haply, they fumed with fury to hear 522the villain words addressed to them and they turned about and gazed behind them, whereat both men and horses became black boulders.” But when the Darwaysh had told her every whit, the Princess made reply, “From what thou sayest it seemeth clear to me that these Voices can do nothing but threaten and frighten by their terrible din; furthermore that there is naught to prevent a man climbing up the hill, nor is there any fear of any one attacking him; all he hath to do is on no account to look behind him.” And after a short pause she presently added, “O Fakir, albeit a woman yet I have both nerve and thews to carry me through this adventure. I shall not heed the Voices nor be enraged thereat, neither will they have any power to dismay me: moreover, I have devised a device whereby my success on this point is assured.” “And what wilt thou do?” asked he, and she answered, “I will stop mine ears with cotton so may not my mind be disturbed and reason perturbed by hearing those awesome sounds.” The Fakir marvelled with great marvel and presently exclaimed, “O my lady, methinks thou art destined to get possession of the things thou seekest. This plan hath not occurred to any hitherto[113] and hence it is haply that one and all have failed miserably and have perished in the attempt. Take good heed to thyself however, nor run any risk other than the enterprise requireth.” She replied, “I have no cause for fear since this one and only danger is before me to prevent happy issue. My heart doth bear me witness that I shall surely gain the guerdon wherefor I have undertaken such toil and trouble. But now do thou tell me what I must do, and whither to win my wish I must wend.” The Darwaysh once more besought her to return home, but Perizadah refused to listen and remained as firm and resolute as before; so when he saw that she was fully bent upon carrying out her purpose he exclaimed, “Depart, O my 523daughter, in the peace of Almighty Allah and His blessing; and may He defend thy youth and beauty from all danger.” Then taking from his bag a ball he gave it her and said, “When thou art seated in saddle throw this before thee and follow it whitherso it lead thee; and when it shall stop at the hill-foot then dismount and climb the slope. What will happen after I have already told thee.”——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Seventy-ninth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that the Princess after farewelling the Fakir straightway bestrode her steed and threw the ball in front of his hooves as she had been bidden do. It rolled along before her in the direction of the hill and she urged her hackney to keep up with it, until reaching the hill it suddenly stopped. Hereat the Princess dismounted forthwith and having carefully plugged both her ears with cotton, began to breast the slope with fearless heart and dauntless soul; and as soon as she had advanced a few steps a hubbub of voices broke out all around her, but she heard not a sound, by reason of her hearing being blunted by the cotton-wool. Then hideous cries arose with horrid din, still she heard them not; and at last they grew to a storm of shouts and shrieks and groans and moans flavoured with foul language such as shameless women use when railing one at other. She caught now and then an echo of the sounds but recked naught thereof and only laughed and said to herself, “What care I for their scoffs and jeers and fulsome taunts? Let them hoot on and bark and bay as they may: this at least shall not turn me from my purpose.” As she approached the goal the path became perilous in the extreme and the air was so filled with an infernal din and such awful sounds that even Rustam would have quailed 524thereat and the bold spirit of Asfandiyar[114] have quaked with terror. The Princess, however, pressed on with uttermost speed and dauntless heart till she neared the hill-top and espied above her the cage in which the Speaking-Bird was singing with melodious tones; but, seeing the Princess draw nigh, he broke out despite his puny form in thundering tones and cried, “Return, O fool: hie thee back nor dare come nearer.” Princess Perizadah heeded not his clamour a whit but bravely reached the hill-top, and running over the level piece of ground made for the cage and seized it saying, “At last I have thee and thou shalt not escape me.” She then pulled out the cotton-wool wherewith she had stopped her ears, and heard the Speaking-Bird reply in gentle accents, “O lady valiant and noble, be of good cheer for no harm or evil shall betide thee, as hath happened to those who essayed to make me their prize. Albeit I am encaged I have much secret knowledge of what happeneth in the world of men and I am content to become thy slave, and for thee to be my liege lady. Moreover I am more familiar with all that concerneth thee even than thou art thyself; and one day of the days I will do thee a service which shall deserve thy gratitude. What now is thy command? Speak that I may fulfil thy wish.” Princess Perizadah was gladdened by these words, but in the midst of her joy she grieved at the thought of how she had lost her brothers whom she loved with a love so dear, and anon she said to the Speaking-Bird, “Full many a thing I want, but first tell me if the Golden-Water, of which I have heard so much, be nigh unto this place and if so do thou show me where to find it.” The Bird directed her accordingly and the Princess took a silver flagon she had brought with her and filled it brimful from the magical fount. Then quoth she to the Bird, “The third and last prize I have come to seek is the Singing-Tree: discover to me where that also can be found.” The Bird 525replied, “O Princess of fair ones, behind thy back in yonder clump that lieth close at hand groweth the Tree;” so she went forthright to the copse and found the Tree she sought singing with sweetest toned voice. But inasmuch as it was huge in girth she returned to her slave the Bird and said, “The Tree indeed I found but ’tis lofty and bulky; how then shall I pull it up?” and he made answer, “Pluck but a branchlet of the Tree and plant it in thy garden: ’twill at once take root and in shortest time be as gross and fair a growth as that in yonder copse.” So the Princess broke off a twig, and now that she had secured the three things, whereof the holy woman spake to her, she was exceeding joyful and turning to the Bird said, “I have in very deed won my wish, but one thing is yet wanting to my full satisfaction. My brothers who ventured forth with this same purpose are lying hereabouts turned into black stones; and I fain would have them brought to life again and the twain return with me in all satisfaction and assurance of success. Tell me now some plan whereby mine every desire may be fulfilled.”——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Eightieth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that the Speaking-Bird replied, “O Princess, trouble not thyself, the thing is easy. Sprinkle some of the Golden-Water from the flagon upon the black stones lying round about, and by virtue thereof each and every shall come to life again, thy two brothers as well as the others.” So Princess Perizadah’s heart was set at rest and taking the three prizes with her she fared forth and scattered a few drops from the silver flagon upon each black stone as she passed it when, lo and behold! they came to life as men and horses. Amongst them were her brothers whom she at once knew and falling on their necks she embraced them, and asked in tones of surprise, “O my brothers, what do ye here?” To this they answered, “We lay fast asleep.” 526Quoth she, “Strange indeed that ye take delight in slumber away from me and ye forget the purpose wherefor ye left me; to wit, the winning of the Speaking-Bird and the Singing-Tree and the Golden-Water. Did ye not see this place all bestrown with dark hued rocks? Look now and say if there be aught left of them. These men and horses now standing around us were all black stones as ye yourselves also were; but, by the boon of Almighty Allah, all have come to life again and await the signal to depart. And if now ye wish to learn by what strange miracle both ye and they have recovered human shape, know ye that it hath been wrought by virtue of a water contained in this flagon which I sprinkled on the rocks with leave of the Lord of all Living. When I had gained possession of this cage and its Speaking-Bird, and also of the Singing-Tree, a wand whereof ye see in my hand, and lastly of the Golden-Water, I would not take them home with me unless ye twain could also bear me company; so I asked of this Bird the means whereby ye could be brought to life again. He made me drop some drops of the Golden-Water on the boulders and when I had done this ye two like all the others returned to life and to your proper forms.” Hearing these her words the Princes Bahman and Parwez thanked and praised their sister Perizadah; and all the others she had saved showered thanks and blessings on her head saying with one accord, “O our lady, we are now thy slaves; nor can a life-long service repay the debt of gratitude we owe thee for this favour thou hast shown us. Command and we are ready to obey thee with our hearts and our souls.” Quoth Perizadah, “The bringing back to life of these my brothers were my aim and purpose, and in so doing ye too have profited thereby; and I accept your acknowledgments as another pleasure. But now do ye mount each and every man his horse and ride back by the way ye came to your homes in Allah’s peace.” On this wise the Princess dismissed them and made herself also ready to depart; but, as she was about to bestride her 527steed, Prince Bahman asked permission of her that he might hold in hand the cage and ride in front of her. She answered, “Not so, O brother mine; this Bird is now my slave and I will carry him myself. An thou wilt, take thou this twig with thee, but hold the cage only till I am seated in saddle.” She then mounted her hackney and, placing the cage before her on the pommel, bade her brother Parwez take charge of the Golden-Water in the silver flagon and carry it with all care and the Prince did her bidding without gainsaying. And when they all were ready to ride forth, including the knights and the squires whom Perizadah had brought to life by sprinkling the Water the Princess turned to them and said, “Why delay we our departure and how is it that none offereth to lead us?” But as all hesitated she gave command, “Now let him amongst your number whose noblesse and high degree entitle him to such distinction fare before us and show us the way.” Then all with one accord replied, “O Princess of fair ones, there be none amongst us worthy of such honour, nor may any wight dare to ride before thee.” So when she saw that none amongst them claimed pre-eminence or right of guidance, and none desired to take precedence of the rest, she made excuse and said, “O my lords, ’tis not for me by right to lead the way, but since ye order I must needs obey.” Accordingly she pushed on to the front, and after came her brothers and behind them the rest. And as they journeyed on all desired to see the holy man, and thank him for his favours and friendly rede, but when they reached the spot where he dwelt they found him dead, and they knew not if old age had taken him away, or if he perished in his pride because the Princess Perizadah had found and had carried off the three things whereof he had been appointed by Destiny guard and guide.——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Eighty-first Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that all the company rode on, and as each one arrived at the road which led him to his natal land he took leave of the Lady Perizadah and went his way, until all were gone and the Princess and her brothers were the only left. At last they reached their journey’s end safe and sound, and on entering their mansion Perizadah hung the cage inside the garden hard by the belvedere and no sooner did the Speaking-Bird begin to sing than flights of ringdoves and bulbuls and nightingales and skylarks and parrots and other songsters came flocking around him from afar and anear. Likewise she set the twig, which she had taken from the Singing-Tree, in a choice parterre also hard by the belvedere, and forthright it took root and put forth boughs and buds and grew goodly in growth, till it became a trunk as large as that from which she had plucked the twig, whilst from its leafage went forth bewitching sounds rivalling the music of the parent tree. She lastly bid them carve her a basin of pure white marble and set it in the centre of the pleasure grounds; then she poured therein the Golden-Water and forthright it filled the bowl and shot upwards like a spouting fountain some twenty feet in height; moreover the gerbes and jets fell back whence they came and not one drop was lost: whereby the working of the waters was unbroken and ever similar. Now but few days passed ere the report of these three wonders was bruited abroad and flocked the folk daily from the city to solace themselves with the sight, and the gates stood always open wide and all who came had entrance to the house and gardens and free leave to walk about at will and see these rarities which affected them with admiration and delight. Then also, as soon as both the Princes had recovered from the toils of travel, they began to go a-hunting as heretofore; and it chanced one day they rode forth several miles from home 529and were both busied in the chase, when the Shah of Irán-land came by decree of Destiny to the same place for the same purpose. The Princes, seeing a band of knights and huntsmen drawing near, were fain to ride home and to avoid such meeting; so they left the hunting-grounds and turned them homewards. But as Fate and lot would have it they hit upon the very road whereby King Khusrau Shah was coming, and so narrow was the path that they could not avoid the horsemen by wheeling round and wending another way. So they drew rein perforce and dismounting they salamed and did obeisance to the Shah and stood between his hands with heads bent low. The Sovran, seeing the horses’ fine trappings and the Princes’ costly garments, thought that the two youths were in the suite of his Wazirs and his Ministers of state and much wished to look upon their faces; he therefore bade them raise their heads and stand upright in the presence and they obeyed his bidding with modest mien and downcast eyes. He was charmed to behold their comeliness of favour and their graceful forms and their noble air and their courtly mien; and, after gazing at them for some time in not a little wonder and admiration, he asked them who they were and what might be their names and where they abode. Hereto Prince Bahman made reply, “O Asylum of the Universe, we are the sons of one whose life was spent in serving the Shah, the Intendant of the royal gardens and pleasaunces. As his days drew to a close he builded him a home without the town for us to dwell in till we should grow to man’s estate and become fit to do thy Highness suit and service and carry out thy royal commands.” The Shah furthermore asked them, “How is it that ye go a-hunting? This is a special sport of Kings and is not meant for the general of his subjects and dependants.” Prince Bahman rejoined, “O Refuge of the World, we yet are young in years and being brought up at home we know little of courtly customs; but, as we look to bear arms in the armies of the Shah we fain would train our bodies to toil and 530moil.” This answer was honoured by the royal approof and the King rejoined, “The Shah would see how ye deal with noble game; so choose ye whatever quarry ye will and bring it down in the presence.” The Princes hereat remounted their horses and joined the Sovran; and when they reached the thick-most of the forest, Prince Bahman started a tiger and Prince Parwez rode after a bear; and the twain used their spears with such skill and good will that each killed his quarry and laid it at the Shah’s feet. Then entering the wood again Prince Bahman slew a bear, and Prince Parwez a tiger[115] and did as before; but when they would have ridden off the third time the King forbade them saying, “What! would ye strip the royal preserve of all the game? This be enough and more than enough, the Shah wished only to put your valour to the proof and having seen it with his own eyes he is fully satisfied. Come now with us and stand before us as we sit at meat.” Prince Bahman made reply, “We are not worthy of the high honour and dignity wherewith thou favourest us thy humble servants. We dutifully and humbly petition thy Highness to hold us excused for this day; but if the Asylum of the Universe deign appoint some other time thy slaves will right gladly execute thy auspicious orders.”——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Eighty-second Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that Khusrau Shah, astonished at their refusal, asked the cause thereof when Prince Bahman answered, “May I be thy sacrifice,[116] O King of 531kings, we have at home an only sister; and all three are bound together with bonds of the fondest affection; so we brothers go not anywhere without consulting her nor doth she aught save according to our counsel.” The King was pleased to see such fraternal love and union and presently quoth he, “By the head of the Shah,[117] he freely giveth you leave to go to-day: consult your sister and meet the Shadow of Allah[118] to-morrow at this hunting-ground, and tell him what she saith and if she be content to let you twain come and wait upon the Shah at meat.” So the Princes farewelled and prayed for him; then rode back home; but they both forgot to tell their sister how they had fallen in with the King; and of all that passed between them they remembered not one word.[119] Next day again they went a-hunting and on returning from the chase the Shah enquired of them, “Have ye consulted with your sister if ye may serve the King, and what saith she thereto? Have ye obtained permission from her?” On hearing these words the Princes waxed aghast with fear; the colour of their faces changed, and each began to look into the other’s eyes. Then Bahman said, “Pardon, O Refuge of the World, this our transgression. We both forgot the command and remembered not to tell our sister.” Replied the King, “It mattereth naught! ask her to-day and bring me word to-morrow.” But it so happened that on that day also they forgot the message yet the King was not annoyed at their shortness of memory, but taking from his pocket three little 532balls of gold, and tying them in a kerchief of silk, he handed them to Prince Bahman saying, “Put these balls in thy waist-shawl, so shalt thou not forget to ask thy sister; and if perchance the matter escape thy memory, when thou shalt go to bed and take off thy girdle, haply the sound of them falling to the ground will remind thee of thy promise.” Despite this strict injunction of the Shadow of Allah the Princes on that day also clean forgot the order and the promise they had made to the King. When, however, night came on, and Prince Bahman went to his bed-chamber for sleep, he loosed his girdle and down fell the golden balls and at the sound the message of the Shah flashed across his thought. So he and his brother Parwez at once hastened to Perizadah’s bower, where she was about retiring to rest; and, with many excuses for troubling her at so unseasonable an hour, reported to her all that had happened. She lamented their thoughtlessness which for three successive days had caused them forget the royal behest and ended with saying, “Fortune hath favoured you, O my brothers, and brought you suddenly to the notice of the Asylum of the Universe, a chance which often hath led to the height of good. It grieveth me sore that in your over regard for our fraternal love and union ye did not take service with the King when he deigned command you. Moreover ye have far greater cause for regret and repentance than I in that ye failed to plead a sufficient excuse and that which ye offered must have sounded rude and churlish. A right dangerous thing it is to thwart Kingly wishes. In his extreme condescension the Shah commandeth you to take service with him and ye, in rebelling against his exalted orders have done foolishly and ye have caused me much trouble of mind. Howbeit I will sue counsel from my slave the Speaking-Bird and see what he may say; for when I have ever any hard and weighty question to decide I fail not to ask his advice.” Hereupon the Princess set the cage by her side and after telling her slave all that her brothers had made known to her, asked admonition of him regarding what they should 533do. The Speaking-Bird made answer, “It behoveth the Princes to gratify the Shah in all things he requireth of them; moreover, let them make ready a feast for the King and humbly pray him to visit this house, and thereby testify to him loyalty and devotion to his royal person.” Then said the Princess, “O Bird, my brothers are most dear to me nor would I suffer them leave my sight for one moment if it were possible; and Allah forfend that this daring on their part do injury to our love and affection.” Said the Speaking-Bird, “I have counselled thee for the best and have offered thee the right rede; nor do thou fear aught in following it, for naught save good shall come therefrom.” “But,” quoth the Princess, “an the Shadow of Allah honour us by crossing the threshold of this house needs must I present myself before him with face unveiled?”[120] “By all means,” quoth the Speaking-Bird, “this will not harm thee, nay rather ’twill be to thine advantage.”——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Eighty-third Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that early next day the two Princes Bahman and Parwez rode as aforetime to the hunting-ground and met Khusrau Shah, who asked them, saying, “What answer bring ye from your sister?” Hereupon the elder brother advancing said, “O Shadow of Allah, verily we are thy slaves and whatever thou deign bid that we are ready to obey. These less than the least have referred the matter to their sister and have obtained her consent; nay more, she blamed and chided them for that they did not hurry to carry out the commands of the Refuge of the World the moment they 534were delivered. Therefore being sore displeased at us, she desireth us on her behalf to plead forgiveness with the Sháhinshah[121] for this offence by us offered.” Replied the King, “No crime have ye committed to call forth the royal displeasure: nay more, it delighteth the Shadow of Allah exceedingly to see the love ye twain bear towards your sister.” Hearing such words of condescension and kindliness from the Shah, the Princes held their peace and hung their heads for shame groundwards; and the King who that day was not keen, according to his custom, after the chase, whenever he saw the brothers hold aloof, called them to his presence and heartened their hearts with words of favour; and presently, when aweary of sport, he turned the head of his steed palace-wards and deigned order the Princes to ride by his side. The Wazirs and Councillors and Courtiers one and all fumed with envy and jealousy to see two unknowns entreated with such especial favour; and as they rode at the head of the suite adown the market-street all eyes were turned upon the youths and men asked one of other, “Who be the two who ride beside the Shah? Belong they to this city, or come they from some foreign land?” And the folk praised and blessed them saying, “Allah send our King of kings two Princes as goodly and gallant as are these twain who ride beside him. If our hapless Queen who languisheth in durance had brought forth sons, by Allah’s favour they would now be of the same age as these young lords.” But as soon as the cavalcade reached the palace the King alighted from his horse and led the Princes to his private chamber, a splendid retreat magnificently furnished, wherein a table had been spread with sumptuous meats and rarest cates; and having seated himself thereat he motioned them to do likewise. Hereupon the brothers making low obeisance also took their seats and ate in well-bred silence with respectful mien. Then the Shah, 535desiring to warm them into talk[122] and thereby to test their wit and wisdom, addressed them on themes galore and asked of them many questions; and, inasmuch as they had been taught well and trained in every art and science, they answered with propriety and perfect ease. The Shah struck with admiration bitterly regretted that Almighty Allah had not vouchsafed to him sons so handsome in semblance and so apt and so learned as these twain; and, for the pleasure of listening to them, he lingered at meat longer than he was wont to do. And when he rose from table and retired with them to his private apartment he still sat longwhile talking with them and at last in his admiration he exclaimed, “Never until this day have I set eyes on youths so well brought up and so comely and so capable as are these, and methinks ’twere hard to find their equals anywhere.” In fine quoth he, “The time waxeth late, so now let us cheer our hearts with music.” And forthright the royal band of minstrels and musicians began to sing and perform upon instruments of mirth and merriment, whilst dancing-girls and boys displayed their skill, and mimes and mummers played their parts. The Princes enjoyed the spectacle with extreme joy and the last hours of the afternoon passed in royal revelry and regale. But when the sun had set and evening came on, the youths craved dismissal from the Shah with many expressions of gratitude for the exalted favours he had deigned bestow on them; and ere they fared forth the King of kings bespake them, saying, “Come ye again on the morrow to our hunting-ground as heretofore, and thence return to the palace. By the beard of the Shah, he fain would have you always with him, and solace him with your companionship and converse.” Prince Bahman, prostrating himself before the presence, answered, “’Tis the very end and aim of all our wishes, O Shadow of Allah upon Earth, that on the morrow 536when thou shalt come from the chase and pass by our poor house, thou graciously deign enter and rest in it awhile, thereby conferring the highmost of honours upon ourselves and upon our sister. Albeit the place is not worthy of the Shahinshah’s exalted presence, yet at times do mighty Kings condescend to visit the huts of their slaves.” The King, ever more and more enchanted with their comeliness and pleasant speech, vouchsafed a most gracious answer, saying, “The dwelling-place of youths in your estate and degree will certainly be goodly and right worthy of you; and the Shah willingly consenteth for the morrow to become the guest of you twain and of your sister whom, albeit he have not yet seen, he is assured to find perfect in all gifts of body and mind. Do ye twain therefore about early dawn-tide expect the Shah at the usual trysting place.” The Princes then craved leave to wend their ways; and going home said to their sister, “O Perizadah, the Shah hath decreed that to-morrow he will come to our house and rest here awhile after the hunt.” Said she, “An so it be, needs must we see to it that all be made ready for a royal banquet and we may not be put to shame when the Shadow of Allah shall deign shade us. There is no help but that in this matter I ask of my slave, the Speaking-Bird, what counsel he would give; and that prepare according thereto such meats as are meet for him and are pleasing to the royal palate.”——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Eighty-fourth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that the Princes both approved of her plan and went to seek repose; whereupon Perizadah sent for the cage and setting it before her said, “O Bird, the Shah hath made a promise and hath decreed that he will deign honour this our house on the morrow, wherefore we must needs make ready for our liege lord the best of banquets 537and I bid thee say me what dishes should the kitcheners cook for him?” The Speaking-Bird replied, “O my lady, thou hast the most skilful of cooks and confectioners. Do thou bid them dress for thee the choicest dainties, but above all others see thou with thine own eyes that they set before the Shah a dish of new green cucumbers stuffed with pearls.” Quoth the Princess in utter wonderment, “Never until this time heard I of such a dainty! How? cucumbers with a filling of pearls! And what will the King, who cometh to eat bread and not to gaze on stones, say to such meat? Furthermore, I have not in my possession pearls enough to serve for even a single cucumber.” Replied the Speaking-Bird, “This were an easy matter: do thou dread naught but only act as I shall advise thee. I seek not aught save thy welfare and would on no wise counsel thee to thy disadvantage. As for the pearls thou shalt collect them on this wise; go thou to-morrow betimes to the pleasure-gardens and bid a hole be dug at the foot of the first tree in the avenue to thy right hand, and there shalt thou find of pearls as large a store as thou shalt require.” So after dawn on the next day Princess Perizadah bade a gardener-lad accompany her and fared to the site within the pleasure-gardens whereof the Speaking-Bird had told her. Here the boy dug a hole both deep and wide when suddenly his spade struck upon somewhat hard, and he removed with his hands the earth and discovered to view a golden casket well-nigh one foot square. Hereupon the young gardener showed it to the Princess who exclaimed, “I brought thee with me for this very reason. Take heed and see that no harm come to it, but dig it out and bring it to me with all care.” When the lad did her bidding she opened it forthright and found it filled with pearls and unions fresh from the sea, round as rings and all of one and the same size perfectly fitted for the purpose which the Speaking-Bird had proposed. Perizadah rejoiced with extreme joy at the sight and taking up the box walked back with it to the house; and the Princes who had seen their sister faring 538forth betimes with the gardener-lad and had wondered why she went to the park thus early unaccording to her wonted custom, catching sight of her from the casement quickly donned their walking dresses and came to meet her. And as the two brothers walked forwards they saw the Princess approaching them with somewhat unusual under her arm, which when they met, proved to be a golden casket whereof they knew naught. Quoth they, “O our sister, at early light we espied thee going to the pleasure grounds with a gardener-lad empty handed, but now thou bringest back this golden casket; so disclose to us where and how thou hast found it; and haply there may be some hoard close hidden in the parterre?” Perizadah replied, “Sooth ye say, O my brothers: I took this lad with me and made him dig under a certain tree where we came upon this box of pearls, at the sight whereof methinks your hearts will be delighted.” The Princess straightway opened the box and her Brothers sighting the pearls and unions were amazed with extreme amazement and rejoiced greatly to see them. Quoth the Princess, “Come now ye twain with me, for that I have in hand a weighty matter;” and quoth Prince Bahman, “What is there to do? I pray thee tell us without delay for never yet hast thou kept aught of thy life from us.” She made reply, “O my brothers, I have nothing to hide from you, nor think ye any ill of me, for I am now about to tell you all the tale.” Then she made known to them what advice the Speaking-Bird had given to her; and they, conning the matter over in their minds, marvelled much why her slave had bidden them set a dish of green cucumbers stuffed with pearls before the Shah, nor could they devise any reason for it. Presently the Princess resumed, “The Speaking-Bird indeed is wise and ware; so methinks this counsel must be for our advantage; and at any rate it cannot be without some object and purpose. It therefore behoveth us to do even as he hath commanded.” Hereupon the Princess went to her own chamber and summoning the head cook said to him, “This day the Shah, the Shadow of Allah 539upon Earth, will condescend here to eat the noon-meal. So do thou take heed that the meats be of choicest flavour and fittest to set before the Asylum of the World, but of all the dishes there is one thou alone must make and let not another have a hand therein. This shall be of the freshest green cucumbers with a stuffing of unions and pearls.”——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Eighty-fifth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that the head Cook listened to this order of the Princess with wonderment and said in himself, “Who ever heard of such a dish or dreamed of ordering such an one.” The Lady seeing his astonishment betrayed in his semblance without the science of thought-reading,[123] said to him, “It seemeth from thy countenance that thou deemest me daft of wits to give thee such order. I know that no one ever tasted a dish of the kind, but what is that to thee? Do thou e’en as thou art bidden. Thou seest this box brimful of pearls; so take of them as many as thou needest for the dish, and what remaineth over leave in the box.” The Kitchener who could answer nothing in his confusion and amazement, chose as many precious stones as he required, and presently fared away to superintend the meats being cooked and made ready for the feast. Meanwhile the Princess went over the house and grounds and gave directions to the slaves about the ordinance thereof, lending especial attention to the carpets and divans, the lamps and all other furniture. Next day at break of dawn Princes Bahman and Parwez rode forth in rich attire to the appointed place where they 540first met the Shah, who was also punctual to his promise and vouchsafed to join them in the hunt. Now when the sun had risen high and its rays waxed hot, the King gave up the chase, and set forth with the Princes to their house; and as they drew nigh thereto the cadet pushed forwards and sent word to the Princess that the Asylum of the World was coming in all good omen. Accordingly, she hastened to receive him and stood waiting his arrival at the inner entrance; and after, when the King rode up to the gate and dismounting within the court stepped over the threshold of the house-door, she fell down at his feet and did him worship. Hereat her brothers said, “O Asylum of the World, this is our sister of whom we spake;” and the Shah with gracious kindness and condescension raised her by the hand, and when he saw her face he marvelled much at its wondrous comeliness and loveliness. He thought in himself, “How like she is to her brothers in favour and form, and I trow there be none of all my lieges in city or country who can compare with them for beauty and noble bearing. This country-house also exceedeth all that I have ever seen in splendour and grandeur.” The Princess then led the Shah through the house and showed him all the magnificence thereof, while he rejoiced with extreme joy at everything that met his sight. So when King Khusrau had considered whatso was in the mansion he said to the Princess, “This home of thine is far grander than any palace owned by the Shah, who would now stroll about the pleasure-garden, never doubting but that it will be delightsome as the house.” Hereat the Princess threw wide open the door whence the grounds could be seen; and at once the King beheld before and above all other things, the fountain which cast up incessantly, in gerbes and jets, water clear as crystal withal golden of hue. Seeing such prodigy he cried, “This is indeed a glorious gusher: never before saw I one so admirable. But say me where is its source, and by what means doth it shoot up in spurts so high? 541Whence cometh this constant supply and in what fashion was it formed? The Shah would fain see it near hand.” “O King of kings, and Lord of the lands,” quoth the Princess, “be pleased to do whatso thou desirest.” Thereupon they went up to the fountain and the Shah stood gazing upon it with delight when behold, he heard a concert of sugar-sweet voices choiring with the harmony and melody of wit-ravishing music. So he turned him round and gazed about him to discover the singers, but no one was in sight; and albeit he looked both far and near all was in vain, he heard the voices but he could descry no songster. At length completely baffled he exclaimed, “Whence come these most musical of sounds; and rise they from the bowels of earth or are they floating in the depths of air? They fill the heart with rapture, but strangely surprise the senses to see that no one singer is in sight.” Replied the Princess with a smile, “O Lord of lords, there are no minstrels here and the strains which strike the Shah’s ear come from yonder tree. Deign walk on, I pray thee, and examine it well.” So he advanced thereto, ever more and more enchanted with the music, and he gazed now at the Golden-Water and now at the Singing-Tree till lost in wonderment and amazement; then, “O Allah,” said he to himself, “is all this Nature-made or magical, for in very deed the place is full of mystery?” Presently, turning to the Princess quoth he, “O my lady, prithee whence came ye by this wondrous tree which hath been planted in the middlemost of this garden: did anyone bring it from some far distant land as a rare gift, and by what name is it known?” Quoth Perizadah in reply, “O King of kings, this marvel hight Singing-Tree groweth not in our country. ’Twere long to recount whence and by what means I obtained it; and suffice it for the present to say that the Tree, together with the Golden-Water and the Speaking-Bird, were all found by me at one and the same time. Deign now accompany thy slave and look upon this third rarity; and when the Shah shall have rested and recovered from 542the toils and travails of hunting, the tale of these three strange things shall be told to the Asylum of the World in fullest detail.” Hereto the King replied, “All the Shah’s fatigue hath gone for gazing upon these wonders; and now to visit the Speaking-Bird.”——And as the morning began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Eighty-sixth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that the Princess took the King and when she had shown to him the Speaking-Bird, they returned to the garden where he never ceased considering the fountain with extreme surprise and presently exclaimed, “How is this? No spring whence cometh all this water meeteth the Shah’s eye, and no channel; nor is there any reservoir large enough to contain it.” She replied, “Thou speakest sooth, O King of kings! This jetting fount hath no source; and it springeth from a small marble basin which I filled from a single flagon of the Golden-Water; and by the might of Allah Almighty it increased and waxed copious until it shot up in this huge gerbe which the Shah seeth. Furthermore it ever playeth day and night; and, marvellous to relate, the water falling back from that height into the basin minisheth not in quantity nor is aught of it spilt or wasted.” Hereat the King, filled with wonder and astonishment, bade go back to the Speaking-Bird; whereupon the Princess led him to the belvedere whence he looked out upon thousands of all manner fowls carolling in the trees and filling air with their hymns and praises of the Creator; so he asked his guide, “O my lady, whence come these countless songsters which haunt yonder tree and make the welkin resound with their melodious notes; yet they affect none other of the trees?” Quoth Perizadah, “O King of kings, they are all attracted by the Speaking-Bird and flock hither 543to accompany his song; and for that his cage hangeth to the window of this belvedere they prefer only the nearest of the trees; and here he may be heard singing sweeter notes than any of the others, nay in a plaint more musical far than that of any nightingale.” And as the Shah drew nigh the cage and gave ear to the Bird’s singing, the Princess called to her captive saying, “Ho, my slave the Bird, dost thou not perceive the Asylum of the Universe is here that thou payest him not due homage and worship?” Hearing these words the Speaking-Bird forthright ceased his shrilling and at the same moment all the other songsters sat in deepest silence; for they were loyal to their liege lord nor durst any one utter a note when he held his peace. The Speaking-Bird then spake in human voice saying, “O great King, may Almighty Allah by His Might and Majesty accord thee health and happiness;” so the Shah returned the salutation and the Slave of Princess Perizadah ceased not to shower blessings upon his head. Meanwhile the tables were spread after sumptuous fashion and the choicest meats were set before the company which was seated in due order and degree, the Shah placing himself hard by the Speaking-Bird and close to the casement where the cage was hung. Then the dish of green cucumbers having been set before him, he put forth his hand to help himself, but drew it back in wonderment when he saw that the cucumbers, ranged in order upon the plate, were stuffed with pearls which appeared at either end. He asked the Princess and her brothers, “What is this dish? It cannot be meant for food; then wherefore is it placed before the Shah? Explain to me, I command you, what this thing meaneth.” They could not give an answer unknowing what reply to make, and as all held their peace the Speaking-Bird answered for them saying, “O King of the Age and the Time, dost thou deem it strange to see a dish of cucumbers stuffed with pearls? How much stranger then it is that thou wast not astonished to hear that the Queen thy Consort had, contrary to the laws of Allah’s ordinance, given birth 544to such animals as dog and cat and musk-rat. This should have caused thee far more of wonder, for who hath ever heard of woman bearing such as these?” Hereat the Shah made answer to the Speaking-Bird, “All that thou sayest is right indeed and I know that such things are not after the law of Almighty Allah; but I believed the reports of the midwives, the wise women who were with the Queen such time she was brought to bed, for they were not strangers but her own sisters, born of the same parents as herself. How then could I do otherwise than trust their words?” Quoth the Speaking-Bird, “O King of kings, indeed the truth of the matter is not hidden from me. Albeit they be the sisters of thy Queen, yet seeing the royal favours and affection towards their cadette they were consumed with anger and hatred and despite by reason of their envy and jealousy. So they devised evil devices against her and their deceits at last succeeded in diverting thy thoughts from her, and in hiding her virtues from thy sight. Now are their malice and treason made manifest to thee; and, if thou require further proof, do thou summon them and question them of the case. They cannot hide it from thee and will be reduced to confess and crave thy pardon.”——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Eighty-seventh Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that the Speaking-Bird said also to Khusrau Shah, “These two royal brothers so comely and stalwart and this lovely Princess, their sister, are thine own lawful children to whom the Queen thy Consort gave birth. The midwives, thy sisters-in-law, by reason of the blackness of their hearts and faces bore them away as soon as they were born: indeed every time a child was given to thee they wrapped it in a bit of blanket and putting it in a basket committed 545it to the stream which floweth by the palace to the intent that it might die an obscure death. But it so fortuned that the Intendant of thy royal gardens espied these baskets one and all as they floated past his grounds, and took charge of the infants he found therein. He then caused them to be nursed and reared with all care and, whilst they were growing up to man’s estate, he looked to their being taught every art and science; and whilst his life endured he dealt with them and brought them up in love and tenderness as though they had been his very own. And now, O Khusrau Shah, wake from thy sleep of ignorance and heedlessness, and know that these two Princes Bahman and Parwez and the Princess Perizadah their sister are thine own issue and thy rightful heirs.” When the King heard these words and was assured of their purport being true and understood the evil doing of those Satans, his sisters-in-law, he said, “O Bird, I am indeed persuaded of thy soothfastness, for when I first saw these youths at the hunting-ground my bowels yearned with affection towards them and my heart felt constrained to love them as though they had been my own seed. Both they and their sister have drawn my affections to them as a magnet draweth iron: and the voice of blood crieth to me and compelleth me to confess the tie and to acknowledge that they are my true children, borne in the womb of my Queen, whose direful Destiny I have been the means of carrying out.” Then turning to the Princes and their sister he said with tearful eyes and broken voice, “Ye are my children and henceforth do ye regard me as your father.” At this they ran to him with rare delight and falling on his neck embraced him. Then they all sat down to meat and when they had finished eating, Khusrau Shah said to them, “O my children, I must now leave you, but Inshallah—Allah willing—I will come again to-morrow and bring with me the Queen your mother.” So saying he farewelled them fondly and mounting his horse departed to his palace; and no sooner had he seated himself upon his throne than he summoned the Grand 546Wazir and commanded him saying, “Do thou send this instant and bind in heaviest bonds those vile women, the sisters of my Queen; for their ill deeds have at last come to light and they deserve to die the death of murtherers. Let the Sworder forthright make sharp his sword; for the ground thirsteth for their blood. Go see thyself that they are beheaded without stay or delay: await not other order, but instantly obey my commandment.” The Grand Wazir went forth at once and in his presence the Envious Sisters were decapitated and thus underwent fit punishment for their malice and their evil doing. After this, Khusrau Shah with his retinue walked afoot to the Cathedral-mosque whereby the Queen had been imprisoned for so many years in bitter grief and woe, and with his own hands he led her forth from her cage and tenderly embraced her. Then seeing her sad plight and her care-worn countenance and wretched attire he wept and cried, “Allah Almighty forgive me this mine unjust and wrongful dealing towards thee. I have put to death thy sisters who deceitfully and despitefully raised my wrath and anger against thee, the innocent, the guiltless; and they have received due retribution for their misdeeds.”——And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Eighty-eighth Night.

Then said she:——I have heard, O auspicious King, that the King spake kindly and fondly to his Consort, and told her all that had betided him, and what the Speaking-Bird had made known to him, ending with these words, “Come now with me to the palace where thou shalt see thy two sons and daughter grown up to become the loveliest of beings. Hie with me and embrace them and take them to thy bosom, for they are our children, the light of our eyes. But first do thou repair to the Hammám and don thy royal robes 547and jewels.” Meanwhile tidings of these events were noised about the city how the King had at length shown due favour to the Queen, and had released her from bondage with his own hands and prayed forgiveness for the wrongs he had done to her; and how the Princes and the Princess had been proved to be her true-born children, and also how that Khusrau Shah had punished her sisters who conspired against her: so joy and gladness prevailed both in city and kingdom, and all the folk blessed the Shah’s Bánú and cursed the Satanesses her sisters. And next day when the Queen had bathed in the Hammam and had donned royal dress and regal jewels, she went to meet her children together with the King who led up to her the Princes Bahman and Parwez and the Princess Perizadah and said, “See, here are thy children, fruit of thy womb and core of thy heart, thine own very sons and thy daughter: embrace them with all a mother’s love and extend thy favour and affection to them even as I have done. When thou didst give them birth, thine ill-omened sisters bore them away from thee and cast them into yonder stream and said that thou hadst been delivered first of a puppy, then of a kitten and lastly of a musk-ratling. I cannot console myself for having credited their calumnies and the only recompense I can make is to place in thine embrace these three thou broughtest forth, and whom Allah Almighty hath restored to us and hath made right worthy to be called our children.” Then the Princes and Princess fell upon their mother’s neck and fondly embraced her weeping tear-floods of joy. After this the Shah and the Banu sat down to meat together with their children; and, when they had made an end of eating, King Khusrau Shah repaired to the garden with his Consort that he might show her the Singing-Tree and the fountain of Golden-Water, whereat the Queen was filled with wonder and delight. Next they turned to the belvedere and visited the Speaking-Bird of whom, as they sat at meat, the King had spoken to her in highest praise, and the Queen rejoiced in his sweet voice and 548melodious singing. And when they had seen all these things, the King mounted horse, Prince Bahman riding on his right hand and on his left Prince Parwez, while the Queen took Princess Perizadah with her inside her litter, and thus they set forth for the palace. As the royal cavalcade passed the city walls and entered the capital with royal pomp and circumstance, the subjects who had heard the glad tidings thronged in multitudes to see their progress and volleyed shouts of acclamation; and as the lieges had grieved aforetime to see the Queen-consort imprisoned, so now they rejoiced with exceeding joy to find her free once more. But chiefly they marvelled to look upon the Speaking-Bird, for the Princess carried the cage with her, and as they rode along thousands of sweet-toned songsters came swarming round them from every quarter, and flew as an escort to the cage, filling the air with marvellous music; while flocks of others, perching upon the trees and the housetops, carolled and warbled as it were to greet their lord’s cage accompanying the royal cavalcade. And when the palace was reached, the Shah and his Queen and his children sat down to a sumptuous banquet; and the city was illuminated, and everywhere dancings and merry-makings testified to the joy of the lieges; and for many days these revels and rejoicings prevailed throughout the capital and the kingdom where every man was blithe and happy and had feastings and festivities in his house. After these festivals King Khusrau Shah made his elder son Bahman heir to his throne and kingdom and committed to his hands the affairs of state in their entirety, and the Prince administered affairs with such wisdom and success that the greatness and glory of the realm were increased twofold. The Shah also entrusted to his youngest son Parwez the charge of his army, both of horsemen and foot-soldiers; and Princess Perizadah was given by her sire in marriage to a puissant King who reigned over a mighty country; and lastly the Queen-mother forgot in perfect joy and happiness the pangs of her captivity. Destiny ever afterwards 549endowed them, one and all, with days the most delectable and they led the liefest of lives until at last there came to them the Destroyer of delights and the Sunderer of societies and the Depopulator of palaces and the Garnerer of graveyards and the Reaper for Resurrection-day, and they became as though they never had been. So laud be to the Lord who dieth not and who knoweth no shadow of change.







This story is a compound of two distinct tales, namely, the Dream of Riches and the Quest of the Ninth Image. It has always been one of the most popular of the tales in our common version of the “Arabian Nights,” with this advantage, that it is perhaps the only one of the whole collection in which something like a moral purpose may be discovered—“a virtuous woman is more precious than fine gold.” Baron de Sacy has remarked of The Nights, that in the course of a few years after Galland’s version appeared “it filled Europe with its fame, though offering no object of moral or philosophical interest, and detailing stories merely for the pleasure of relating them.” But this last statement is not quite accurate: Shahrazad relates her stories merely to prolong her own life.

It is a curious fact—and one perhaps not very generally known—that the Tale of Zayn al-Asnám is one of two (the other being that of Khudádád) which Galland repudiated, as having been foisted into his 8th volume without his knowledge, as he expressly asserts in the “Avertissement” to the 9th vol., promising to remove them in a second edition, which, however, he did not live to see. I understand that M. Herrmann Zotenberg purposes showing, in his forthcoming edition of “Aladdin,” that these two histoires (including that of the Princess of Daryábár, which is interwoven with the tale of Khudádád and his Brothers) were Turkish tales translated by M. Petis de la Croix and were intended to appear in his “Mille et un Jours,” which was published, after his death, in 1710; and that, like most of the tales in that work, they were derived 554from the Turkish collection entitled “Al-Faráj ba’d al-Shiddah,” or Joy after Affliction. But that Turkish story-book is said to be a translation of the Persian collection entitled “Hazár ú Yek Rúz” (the Thousand and One Days), which M. Petis rendered into French.

In the preface to Petis’ work it is stated that during his residence in Persia, in 1675, he made a transcript of the “Hazár ú Yek Rúz,” by permission of the author, a dervish named Mukhlis, of Isfahán. That transcript has not, I understand, been found; but Sir William Ouseley brought a manuscript from Persia which contained a portion of the “Hazár ú Yek Rúz,” and which he says (“Travels,” vol. ii. p. 21, note) agreed so far with the French version. And it does seem strange that Petis should go to the Turkish book for tales to include in his “Mille et un Jours” when he had before him a complete copy of the Persian original; and even if he did so, how came his French rendering of the tales in question into the hands of Galland’s publisher? The tales are not found in Petis’ version, which is regularly divided into 1001 Days; and the Turkish work, judging from the titles of the eleven first tales, of which I have seen a transcript by M. Zotenberg, has a number of stories which do not occur in the Persian.[124] But I think it very unlikely that the tales of Khudádád and the Princess, foisted into Galland’s 8th volume, were translated from the Turkish collection. In Galland the story of the Princess Daryábár is inserted in that of Khudádád; while in the Turkish story-book they are separate tales, the 6th recital being under the title, “Of the Vazír with the Daughter of the Prince of Daryábán,” and the 9th story is “Of the Sons of the Sovereign of Harrán with Khudádád.” This does not seem to support the assertion that these tales in Galland were derived from the Turkish versions: it is not to be supposed, surely, that the translator of the versions in Galland conceived the idea of fusing the two stories together?

555The first part of the tale of Zayn al-Asnam—the Dream of Riches—is an interesting variant of the tale in The Nights, vol. iv. p. 289, where (briefly to recapitulate, for purposes of comparison by-and-by) a man of Baghdad, having lost all his wealth and become destitute, dreams one night that a figure appeared before him and told him that his fortune was in Cairo. To that city he went accordingly, and as it was night when he arrived, he took shelter in a mosque. A party of thieves just then had got into an adjacent house from that same mosque, and the inmates, discovering them, raised such an outcry as to bring the police at once on the spot. The thieves contrive to get away, and the walí, finding only the man of Baghdad in the mosque, causes him to be seized and severely beaten, after which he sends him to prison, where the poor fellow remains thirty days, when the walí sends for him and begins to question him. The man tells his story, at which the walí laughs, calls him an ass for coming so far because of a dream, and adds that he himself had had a similar dream of a great treasure buried in the garden of such a house in Baghdad, but he was not so silly as to go there. The poor man recognises his own house and garden from the walí’s description, and being set at liberty returns to Baghdad, and finds the treasure on the very spot indicated.

Lane, who puts this story (as indeed he has done with much better ones) among his notes, states that it is also related by El-Ishákí, who flourished during the reign of the Khalíf El-Ma’mún (9th century); and his editor Edward Stanley Poole adds that he found it also in a MS. of Lane’s entitled “Murshid ez-Zúwár ilà Kubúr el-Abrar,” with the difference that it is there related of an Egyptian saint who travelled to Baghdad, and was in the same manner directed to his own house in El-Fustát.

The same story is told in the 6th book of the “Masnaví,” an enormously long sufí poem, written in Persian, by Jelál ed-Dín, the founder of the sect of Muslim devotees generally known in Europe as the Dancing Dervishes, who died in 1272. This version differs from the Arabian in but a few and unimportant details: Arriving at Cairo, destitute and hungry, he resolves to beg when it is dark, and is wandering about, “one foot forward, one foot backwards,” for a third of the night, when suddenly a watchman pounces on him and beats him with fist and stick—for the people having been plagued with robbers, the Khalíf had given orders to cut off the head of any one found abroad at night. The wretched man begs for mercy till he has told his story, and when he has finished the watchman acquaints him of a similar dream he had had of treasure at Baghdad.[125]

556A Turkish variant occurs in the “History of the Forty Vazírs,” where a poor water-carrier of Cairo, named Nu’mán, presents his son’s teacher with his only camel, which he used daily for carrying his skins of water, as a reward for instructing the lad in the Kurán, and his wife rails at him for his folly in no measured terms. In his sleep a white-haired old man appears to him in a dream and tells him to go to Damascus, where he would find his portion. After this has occurred three times in succession, poor Nu’mán, spite of his wife’s remonstrances, sets out for Damascus, enters a mosque there, and receives a loaf of bread from a man who had been baking, and having eaten it falls asleep. Returning home, his wife reviles him for giving away a camel and doing other mad things. But again the venerable old man appears to him thrice in a dream, and bids him dig close by himself, and there he would find his provision. When he takes shovel and pick-axe to dig, his wife’s tongue is more bitter than before, and after he has laboured a while and begins to feel somewhat fatigued, when he asks her to take a short spell at the work, she mocks him and calls him anything but a wise man. But on his laying bare a stone slab, she thinks there must be something beneath it, and offers to relieve him. “Nu’mán,” quoth she, “thou’rt weary now.” “No, I’m rested,” says he. In the end he discovers a well, goes down into it, and finds a jar full of sequins, upon seeing which his wife clasps him lovingly round the neck, exclaiming, “O my noble little hubby! Blessed be God for thy luck and thy fortune!” Her tune changes, however, when the honest water-carrier tells her that he means to carry the treasure to the King, which he does, and the King having caused the money to be examined, the treasure is found to have the following legend written on it: “This is an alms from God to Nu’mán, by reason of his respect for the Kurán.”[126]

557This curious story, which dates, as we have seen, at least as far back as the 9th century, appears to be spread over Europe. Mr. E. Sidney Hartland, in an able paper treating of several of its forms in “The Antiquary” for February, 1887, pp. 45–48, gives a Sicilian version from Dr. Pitré’s collection, which is to this effect:

A poor fellow at Palermo, who got his living by salting tunny and selling it afterwards, dreamt one night that a person came to him and said that if he wished to find his fortune he would find it under the bridge of the Teste. Thither he goes and sees a man in rags, and is beginning to retire when the man calls him back, informs him that he is his fortune, and bids him go at midnight of that same night to the place where he had deposited his casks of tunny, dig there, and whatever he found was his own. The tunny-seller gets a pick-axe and at midnight begins to dig. He comes upon a large flat stone, which he raises and discovers a staircase; he descends, and at the bottom finds an immense treasure of gold. In brief, he becomes so rich that he lends the King of Spain “a million,” to enable him to carry on his wars; the King makes him Viceroy of Sicily, and by-and-by, being unable to repay the loan, raises him to the highest royal dignities.

Johannes Fungerus, in his “Etymologicon Latino-Græcum,” published at Leyden in 1607, in art. Somnus, gravely relates the story, with a young Dutchman for the hero and as having happened “within the memory of our fathers, both as it has been handed down in truthful and honourable fashion as well as frequently told to me.”[127] His “true story” may thus be rendered:

A certain young man of Dort, in Holland, had squandered his wealth and all his estate, and having contracted a debt, was unable to pay it. A certain one appeared to him in a dream, and advised him to betake himself to Kempen, and there on the bridge he would receive information from some one as to the way in which he should be extricated from his difficulties. He went there, and when he was in a sorrowful mood and thinking upon what had been told him and promenaded almost the whole day, a common beggar, who was asking alms, pitying his condition, sat down and asked him, “Why so sad?” Thereupon the dreamer explained to him his sad and mournful fate, and why he had come there: forsooth, under the impulse of a dream, he had set out thither, and was expecting God, as if by a wonder, to unravel this more than Gordian knot. The mendicant answered, “Good Heaven! are you so mad and foolish as to rely on a dream, which is emptier than nothing, and journey hither? I should betake myself to Dort, to dig up a treasure buried under such a tree in such a man’s garden (now this garden had belonged to the dreamer’s father), likewise revealed to me in a dream.” The other remained silent and pondering all that had been said to him, then hastened with all speed to Dort, 558and under the aforesaid tree found a great heap of money, which freed him from his obligations, and having paid off all his debts, he set up in a more sumptuous style than before.

The second part of the tale, or novelette, of “The Spectre Barber,” by Musæus (1735–1788), is probably an elaboration of some German popular legend closely resembling the last-cited version, only in this instance the hero does not dream, but is told by a ghost, in reward for a service he had done it (or him), to tarry on the great bridge over the Weser, at the time when day and night are equal, for a friend who would instruct him what he must do to retrieve his fortune. He goes there at dawn, and walks on the bridge till evening comes, when there remained no one but himself and a wooden legged soldier to whom he had given a small coin in the early morning, and who ventured at length to ask him why he had promenaded the bridge all day. The youth at first said he was waiting for a friend, but on the old soldier remarking that he could be no friend who would keep him waiting so long, he said that he had only dreamt he was to meet some friend (for he did not care to say anything about his interview with the ghost), the old fellow observed that he had had many dreams, but put not the least faith in them. “But my dream,” quoth the youth, “was a most remarkable one.” “It couldn’t have been so remarkable as one I had many years ago,” and so on, as usual, with this addition, that the young man placed the old soldier in a snug little cottage and gave him a comfortable annuity for life—taking care, we may be sure, not to tell him a word as to the result of acting upon his dream.

To what extent Musæus has enlarged his original material it is impossible to say; but it is well known that, like Hans Anderson in later times, he did “improve” and add to such popular tales and traditions as he dealt with—a circumstance which renders him by no means trustworthy for folk-lore purposes.

In Denmark our well-travelled little tale does duty in accounting for the building of a parish church, as we learn from Thorpe, in his “Northern Mythology,” vol. ii. p. 253:

Many years ago there lived in Erritsö, near Fredericia, a very poor man who one day said, “If I had a large sum of money, I would build a church for the parish.” The following night he dreamed that if he went to the south bridge at Veile he would make his fortune. He followed the intimation and strolled backwards and forwards on the bridge until it grew late, but without seeing any sign of good fortune. When just on the point of returning, he was accosted by an officer, who asked him why he had spent a whole day so on the bridge. He told him his dream, on hearing which the officer related to him in return that he also on the preceding night had dreamed that in a barn in Erritsö, belonging to a man whose name he mentioned, a treasure lay buried. Now the name he mentioned was the man’s own, who prudently kept his own counsel, hastened 559home, and found the treasure in the barn. The man was faithful to his word, and built the church.[128]

Equally at home, as we have seen, in Sicily, Holland, Germany, and Denmark, the identical legend is also domiciled in Scotland and England. Thus Robert Chambers, in his “Popular Rhymes of Scotland,” ed. 1826, p. 56, speaking of Dundonald Castle, in Ayrshire, the ancient seat of King Robert II., relates the following local tradition:

Donald, the builder, was originally a poor man, but had the faculty of dreaming lucky dreams. Upon one occasion he dreamed thrice in one night that if he were to go to London Bridge he would make a fortune. He went accordingly, and saw a man looking over the parapet of the bridge, whom he accosted courteously, and after a little conversation, entrusted him with the secret of the occasion of his visiting London Bridge. The stranger told him that he had made a very foolish errand, for he had himself once had a similar vision, which directed him to go to a certain spot in Ayrshire, in Scotland, where he would find a vast treasure, and for his part he had never once thought of obeying the injunction. From his description of the spot, however, the sly Scot at once perceived that the treasure in question must be concealed nowhere but in his own humble kail-yard at home, to which he immediately repaired, in full expectation of finding it. Nor was he disappointed; for after destroying many good and promising cabbages, and completely cracking credit with his wife, who considered him as mad, he found a large potful of gold coin, with which he built a stout castle for himself, and became the founder of a flourishing family.

“This absurd story,” adds Chambers, “is localised in almost every district of Scotland, always referring to London Bridge, and Hogg (the Ettrick Shepherd) has worked up the fiction in a very amusing manner in one of his ‘Winter Evening Tales,’ substituting the Bridge at Kelso for that of London.”

But the legend of the Chapman, or Pedlar, of Swaffam, in Norfolk, handed down, as it has been, from one credulous generation to another, with the most minute details and perfect local colour, throws quite into the shade all other versions or variants of the ancient tale of the poor man of Baghdad. Blomfield, in his “History of Norfolk,” 8vo ed., vol. vi. 211–213, reproduces it as follows, from Sir Roger Twysden’s “Reminiscences”:

“The story of the Pedlar of Swaffam Market is in substance this: That dreaming one night, if he went to London, he should certainly meet with a man upon London Bridge, which should tell him good news; he was so perplexed in his mind that till he set upon his journey he could have no rest. To London therefore he hastes, and walked upon the Bridge for some hours, where being espied by a shopkeeper and asked what he wanted, he answered, 560‘You may well ask me that question, for truly (quoth he) I am come hither upon a very vain errand,’ and so told the story of his dream which occasioned his journey. Whereupon the shopkeeper replied, ‘Alas, good friend, should I have heeded dreams I might have proved myself as very a fool as thou hast; for ’tis not long since that I dreamt that at a place called Swaffam Market, in Norfolk, dwells one John Chapman, a pedlar, who hath a tree in his back yard, under which is buried a pot of money. Now, therefore, if I should have made a journey thither to dig for such hidden treasure, judge you whether I should not have been counted a fool.’ To whom the Pedlar cunningly said, ‘Yes, truly: I will therefore return home and follow my business, not heeding such dreams henceforward.’ But when he came home (being satisfied that his dream was fulfilled), he took occasion to dig in that place, and accordingly found a large pot full of money, which he prudently concealed, putting the pot among the rest of his brass. After a time, it happened that one who came to his house, and beholding the pot, observed an inscription upon it, which being in Latin he interpreted it, that under that there was another twice as good.[129] Of this inscription the Pedlar was before ignorant, or at least minded it not; but when he heard the meaning of it, he said, ‘’Tis very true; in the shop where I bought this pot stood another under it which was twice as big’; but considering that it might tend to his further profit to dig deeper in the same place where he found that, he fell again to work and discovered such a pot as was intimated by the inscription, full of old coin; notwithstanding all which, he so concealed his wealth that the neighbours took no notice of it. But not long after the inhabitants of Swaffam resolving to re-edify their church, and having consulted the workmen about the charge, they made a levy, wherein they taxed the Pedlar according to no other rate but what they had formerly done. But he, knowing his own ability, came to the church and desired the workmen to show him their model and to tell him what they esteemed the charge of the north aisle would amount to; which when they told him, he presently undertook to pay them for building it, and not only that, but for a very tall and beautiful tower steeple.

“This is the tradition of the inhabitants, as it was told me there. And in testimony thereof, there was then his picture, with his wife and three children, in every window of the aisle, with an inscription running through the bottom of all those windows, viz., ‘Orate pro bono statu Johannis Chapman.... Uxoris ejus, et Liberorum suorum, qui quidem Johannes hanc alam cum fenestris tecto et ... fieri fecit.’ It was in Henry the

561Seventh’s time, but the year I now remember not, my notes being left with Mr. William Sedgwicke, who trickt the pictures, he being then with me. In that aisle is his seat, of an antique form, and on each side the entrance, the statue of the Pedlar of about a foot in length, with pack on his back, very artificially [? artistically] cut. This was sent me from Mr. William Dugdale, of Blyth Hall, in Warwickshire, in a letter dated Jan. 29th, 1652–3, which I have since learned from others to have been most true.—Roger Twysden.

Mr. William E. A. Axon, in “The Antiquary,” vol. xi. p. 168, gives the same version, with some slight variations, from a work entitled “New Help to Discourse,” which he says was often printed between 1619 and 1696: The dream was “doubled and tripled,” and the Pedlar stood on the bridge for two or three days; but no mention is made of his finding a second pot of money: “he found an infinite mass of money, with part of which he re-edified the church, having his statue therein to this day, cut out in stone, with his pack on his back and his dog at his heels, his memory being preserved by the same form or picture in most of the glass windows in taverns and alehouses in that town to this day.” The story is also told of a cobbler in Somersetshire (in an article on Dreams, “Saturday Review,” Dec. 28, 1878), who dreamt three nights in succession that if he went to London Bridge he would there meet with something to his advantage. For three days he walked over the bridge, when at length a stranger came up to him, and asked him why he had been walking from end to end of the bridge for these three days, offering nothing for sale nor purchasing aught. The man having told him of his strange dream, the stranger said that he too had dreamt of a pot of gold buried in a certain orchard in such a place in Somersetshire. Upon this the cobbler returned home and found the pot of gold under an apple-tree. He now sent his son to school, where he learnt Latin, and when the lad had come home for his holidays, he happened to look at the pot that had contained the gold and seeing some writing on it he said, “Father, I can show you what I have learnt at school is of some use.” He then translated the Latin inscription on the pot thus: “Look under and you will find better.” They did look under and a large quantity of gold was found. Mr. Axon gives a version of the legend in the Yorkshire dialect in “The Antiquary,” vol. xii. pp. 121–2, and there is a similar story connected with the parish church of Lambeth.[130]

Regarding the Norfolk tradition of the lucky and generous Pedlar, Blomfield says that the north aisle of the church of Swaffam (or Sopham) was certainly built by one John Chapman, who was churchwarden in 1462; but he thinks that the figures of the pedlar etc. were only put “to set forth the name of the founder: such rebuses are frequently met with on old works.” The 562story is also told in Abraham de la Prynne’s Diary under date Nov. 10, 1699, as “a constant tradition” concerning a pedlar in Soffham.

Such is the close resemblance between the Turkish version of the Dream and that in the tale of Zayn al-Asnam that I am disposed to consider both as having been derived from the same source, which, however, could hardly have been the story told by El-Ishákí. In Zayn al-Asnam a shaykh appears to the prince in a dream and bids him hie to Egypt, where he will find heaps of treasure; in the Turkish story the shaykh appears to the poor water-carrier three times and bids him go to Damascus for the like purpose. The prince arrives at Cairo and goes to sleep in a mosque, when the shaykh again presents himself before him in a dream and tells him that he has done well in obeying him—he had only made a trial of his courage: “now return to thy capital and I will make thee wealthy”;—in the Turkish story the water-carrier also goes into a mosque at Damascus and receives a loaf of bread there from a baker. When the prince returns home the shaykh appears to him once more and bids him take a pick-axe and go to such a palace of his sire and dig in such a place, where he should find riches;—in the Turkish story the water-carrier having returned to his own house, the shaykh comes to him three times more and bids him search near to where he is and he should find wealth. The discovery by Zayn al-Asnam of his father’s hidden treasure, after he had recklessly squandered all his means, bears some analogy to the well-known ballad of the “Heir of Linne,” who, when reduced to utter poverty, in obedience to his dying father’s injunction, should such be his hap, went to hang himself in the “lonely lodge” and found there concealed a store of gold.

With regard to the second part of the tale of Zayn al-Asnam—the Quest of the Ninth Image—and the Turkish version of which my friend Mr. Gibb has kindly furnished us with a translation from the mystical work of ’Alí ’Azíz Efendi, the Cretan, although no other version has hitherto been found,[131] I have little doubt that the story is of either Indian or Persian extraction, images and pictures being abhorred by orthodox (or sunni) Muslims generally; and such also, I think, should we consider all the Arabian tales of young men becoming madly enamoured of beautiful girls from seeing their portraits—though we can readily believe that an Arab as well as a Persian or Indian youth might fall in love with a pretty maid from a mere description of her personal charms, as we are told of the Bedouin coxcomb Amarah in the Romance of Antar. If the Turkish version, which recounts the adventures of the Prince Abd es-Samed in quest of the lacking image (the tenth, not the ninth, as in the Arabian) was adapted from Zayn al-Asnam, the author has made considerable modifications in re-telling the fascinating story, and, in my opinion, it is not inferior to the 563Arabian version. In the Turkish, the Prince’s father appears to him in a vision of the night,[132] and conducts him to the treasure-vault, where he sees the vacant pedestal and on it the paper in which his father directs him to go to Cairo and seek counsel of the Shaykh Mubarak, who would instruct him how to obtain the lacking image; and the prince is commissioned by the shaykh to bring him a spotless virgin who has never so much as longed for the pleasures of love, when he should receive the image for his reward. The shaykh gives him a mirror which should remain clear when held before such a virgin, but become dimmed when reflecting the features of another sort of girl; also a purse which should be always full of money.[133] In the Arabian story the Shaykh Mubarak accompanies Zayn al-Asnam in his quest of the image to the land of Jinnistán, the King whereof it is who requires the prince to procure him a pure virgin and then he would give him the lacking image. In the Turkish version the prince Abd es-Samed proceeds on the adventure alone, and after visiting many places without success he goes to Baghdad, where by means of the Imam he at last finds the desiderated virgin, whom he conducts to Mubarak. In the Arabian story the Imam, Abu Bakr (Haji Bakr in the Turkish), is at first inimical towards the prince and the shaykh, but after being propitiated by a present of money he is all complaisance, and, as in the Turkish, introduces the prince to the fallen vazír, the father of the spotless virgin. The sudden conversion of the Imam from a bitter enemy to an obliging friend is related with much humour: one day denouncing the strangers to the folk assembled in the mosque as cutpurses and brigands, and the next day withdrawing his statement, which he says he had made on the information of one of the prince’s enviers, and cautioning the people against entertaining aught but reverence for the strangers. This amusing episode is omitted in the Turkish version. In one point the tale of Zayn al-Asnam has the advantage of that of Abd es-Samed: it is much more natural, or congruous, that the King of the Genii should affect to require the chaste maiden and give the prince a magical mirror which would test her purity, and that the freed slave Mubarak should accompany the prince in his quest.



Those scholars who declared a number of the tales in Galland’s “Mille et une Nuits” to be of his own invention, because they were not found in any of the Arabic MS. texts of The Nights preserved in European libraries, were unconsciously paying that learned and worthy man a very high compliment, since the tales in question are among the best in his work and have ever been, and probably will continue to be, among the most popular favourites. But the fact that Galland seized the first opportunity of intimating that two of those tales were not translated or inserted by himself ought to have been alone amply sufficient presumptive evidence of his good faith with regard to the others.

A friendly reviewer of my “Popular Tales and Fictions” etc. states that modern collectors of European Märchen, though “working from 100 to 150 years after the appearance of the ‘Thousand and One Nights,’ in European literature, have not found the special versions therein contained distributed widely and profusely throughout Europe,” and that my chapter on Aladdin is proof sufficient that they have not done so. The reviewer goes on to say that I cite “numerous variants, but, save one from Rome, variants of the theme, not of the version; some again, such as the Mecklenburg and Danish forms, are more primitive in tone; and all lack those effective and picturesque details which are the charm of the Arabian story, and which a borrower only interested in the story as a story might just be expected to retain.”[134]

But it is not contended that the folk-tales of Europe owe much, if indeed anything at all, to the “Arabian Nights,” which is not only as it now exists a comparatively modern work—Baron de Sacy has adduced good reasons for placing the date of its composition in the middle of the 9th century of the Hijra, or about 1446 A.D.—but was first made known in Europe so late as the first quarter of the last century. Several of the tales, and incidents of the tales, in the “Thousand and One Nights” were current in Europe in the 12th century—imported by the Moors of Spain, and by European travellers, pilgrims, and minstrels from the East. Thus the Arabian tale of the Ebony (or Enchanted) Horse is virtually identical with the Hispano-French romance of Cleomades and Claremonde; that of Prince Kamar al-Zaman is fairly represented by the romance of Peter of Provence and the Fair Maguelone. The episode of Astolphe and Joconde in Ariosto’s “Orlando Furioso” is identical with the opening story of The Nights which constitutes the frame of the collection.[135] The Magnetic Rock (or rock of adamant) which figures in the adventures of Sindbád occurs in the popular German story of “Herzog Ernst von Baiern,” which is extant in a Latin poem that cannot be later than the 56513th century and is probably a hundred years earlier.[136] The Valley of Diamonds in the History of Sindbád is described by Marco Polo, who travelled in the East in the 13th century; moreover, it had been known in Europe from the 4th century, when the story connected with it was related by Epiphanius, bishop of Salamis, who lays the scene in Scythia, while Marco Polo and the author of Sindbád’s Voyages both place it in India, where the fiction probably had its origin.

When we find a popular (i.e. oral) European tale reproduce the most minute details of a story found in The Nights, we should conclude that it has been derived therefrom and within quite recent times, and such I am now disposed to think is the case of the Roman version of Aladdin given by Miss Busk under the title of “How Cajusse was Married,” notwithstanding the circumstance that the old woman from whom it was obtained was almost wholly illiterate. A child who could read might have told the story out of Galland to his or her nurse, through whom it would afterwards assume local colour, with some modifications of the details. But stories having all the essential features of the tale of Aladdin were known throughout Europe long before Galland’s work was published, and in forms strikingly resembling other Asiatic versions, from one of which the Arabian tale must have been adapted. The incidents of the Magician and Aladdin at the Cave, and the conveying of the Princess and the vazír’s son three nights in succession to Aladdin’s house (which occurs, in modified forms, in other tales in The Nights), I consider as the work of the Arabian author. Stripped of these particulars, the elements of the tale are identical in all versions, Eastern and Western: a talisman, by means of which its possessor can command unlimited wealth, &c.; its loss and the consequent disappearance of the magnificent palace erected by supernatural agents who are subservient to the owner of the talisman; and finally its recovery together with the restoration of the palace to its original situation. The Arabian tale is singular in the circumstance of the talisman (the Lamp) being recovered by human means—by the devices of the hero himself, in fact; since in all the European and the other Asiatic forms of the story it is recovered by, as it was first obtained from, grateful animals. To my mind, this latter is the pristine form of the tale, and points to a Buddhist origin—mercy to all living creatures being one of the leading doctrines of pure Buddhism.

The space at my disposal does not admit of the reproduction in extenso of the numerous versions or variants of Aladdin: a brief outline of their features will however serve my purpose. In the tale of Marúf the Cobbler, which concludes the Búlák and Calcutta printed texts of The Nights, we have an interesting version of Aladdin. The hero runs away from his shrewish wife and under false pretences is married to a king’s daughter. He confesses 566his imposture to the princess, who loves him dearly, and she urges him to flee from her father’s vengeance and not to return until his death should leave the throne vacant; and having furnished him with money, he secretly quits the city at daybreak. After riding some distance, he begins to feel hungry, and seeing a peasant ploughing a field he goes up to him and asks for some food. The peasant sets off to his house for eatables, and meanwhile Marúf begins to plough a furrow, when presently the ploughshare strikes against something hard, which he finds to be an iron ring. He tugs at the ring and raises a slab, which discovers a number of steps, down which he goes and comes into a cavern filled with gold and precious stones, and in a box made of a single diamond he finds a talismanic ring, on placing which on his finger a monstrous figure appears and expresses his readiness and ability to obey all his commands. In brief, by means of this genie, the hero obtains immense wealth in gold and jewels, and also rich merchandise, which enable him to return to the city in the capacity of a merchant, which he had professed himself when he married the princess. The vazír, who had from the first believed him to be an arrant impostor, lays a plot with the King to worm out of him the secret of his wealth, and succeeds so well at a private supper, when Marúf is elevated with wine, that he obtains possession of the ring, summons the genie, and causes him to carry both the King and Marúf into a far distant desert. He then compels the other ministers and the people to acknowledge him as king, and resolves to marry the princess. She temporises with him; invites him to sup with her; plies him with wine, induces him to throw the ring into a corner of the room, pretending to be afraid of the demon who is held captive in it; and when he has become insensible (in plain English, dead drunk), she seizes the ring, summons the genie, and commands him to secure the vazír and bring back her father and husband, which he does “in less than no time.” The vazír is of course put to death, and the princess takes charge of the ring for the future, alleging that neither the King nor her husband is to be trusted with the custody of such a treasure.

Another Arabian version is found—as Sir Richard Burton points out, note 2, p. 159—in “The Fisherman’s Son,” one of the tales translated by Jonathan Scott from the Wortley-Montague MS. text of The Nights, where the hero finds a magic ring inside a cock: like Aladdin, he marries the King’s daughter and has a grand palace built for him by the genii. The ring is afterwards disposed of to a Jew, in the same manner as was the Lamp to the Magician, and the palace with the princess is conveyed to a distant desert island. The fisherman’s son takes to flight. He purchases of a man who offered them for sale a dog, a cat, and a rat, which turn out to be well-disposed magicians, and they recover the ring from the Jew’s mouth while he is asleep. The ring is dropped into the sea accidentally while the animals are crossing it to rejoin their master, but is brought to the hero by a fish which he had returned to the sea out of pity in his fisherman days. The genie conveys the palace back again, and so on.—In a Mongolian version (“Siddhí Kúr”) a young merchant parts with all his wares to save a mouse, an ape, and a bear from being tortured to death by boys. One 567of those creatures procures for him a wishing-stone, by means of which he has a grand palace built and obtains much treasure. He foolishly exchanges his talisman with the chief of a caravan for all their gold and merchandise, and it is afterwards restored to him by the grateful and ingenious animals.—In a Tamil version—referred to by Sir Richard, p. 51, note 1—which occurs in the “Madanakámarájankadai,” a poor wandering young prince buys a cat and a serpent; at his mother’s suggestion, he sets the serpent at liberty and receives from its father a wishing ring. He gets a city built in the jungle—or rather where the jungle was—and marries a beautiful princess. An old hag is employed by another King to procure him the princess for his wife. She wheedles herself into the confidence of the unsuspecting young lady, and learning from her the properties of the ring, induces her to borrow it of her husband for a few minutes, in order that she (the old trot) might apply it to her head to cure a severe headache. No sooner has she got possession of the ring than she disappears, and having delivered it to the other King, he “thought” of the princess, and in the twinkling of an eye she is carried through the air and set down before him. The ring is recovered by means of the cat which the hero had fostered, and so on.

Sir Richard has referred to a number of Italian versions (p. 51, note 1), which will be found epitomised in a most valuable and interesting paper, by my late friend Mr. H. C. Coote, on the sources of some of M. Galland’s Tales, in the First Part of the Folk-Lore Record for 1880; and, in conclusion, I may briefly glance at a few other European variants. Among those which not only bear a close analogy one to another but also to the Asiatic versions cited above are the following: No. 15 of M. Leger’s French collection of Slav Tales is a Bohemian version, in which the hero, Jenik, saves a dog, a cat, and a serpent from being killed. From the serpent’s father he gets an enchanted watch (evidently a modern substitute for a talismanic stone, or ring), which procures him a splendid palace and the King’s daughter for his bride. But the young lady, unlike the Princess Badr al-Badúr with Aladdin, does not love Jenik, and having learned from him the secret of his great wealth, she steals the talisman and causes a palace to be built in the middle of the sea, where she goes to live, after making Jenik’s palace disappear. Jenik’s faithful dog and cat recover the talisman, which, as in the Arabian story of the Fisherman’s Son, is dropped in the sea while they are swimming back and restored by a fish.—In No. 9 of M. Dozon’s “Contes Albanais” the hero saves a serpent’s life and gets in return a wishing-stone and so on. The talisman is stolen by a rascally Jew on the night of the wedding, and the palace with the princess is transported to the distant sea-shore. The hero buys a cat and feeds it well. He and his cat arrive at the spot where the palace now stands, and the cat compels the chief of a colony of mice to steal the talisman from the Jew while he is asleep.—A popular Greek version in Hahn’s collection combines incidents found in Aladdin and in the versions in which grateful animals play prominent parts: The hero rescues a snake which some boys are about to kill and gets in reward from the snake’s father a sealring, 568which he has only to lick and a black man will present himself, ready to obey his orders. As in Aladdin, the first use he makes of the talisman is to have his mother’s cupboard filled with dainty food. Then he bids his mother “go to the King, and tell him he must give me his daughter in marriage.” After many objections, she goes to deliver her message to the King, who replies that if her son build a castle larger than his, he shall have the princess to wife. The castle is built that same night, and when the mother goes next morning to require the King’s performance of his promise, he makes a farther stipulation that her son should first pave the way between the two castles with gold. This is done at once, and the King gives the hero his daughter. Here the resemblance to the Aladdin story ceases and what follows (as well as what precedes) is analogous to the other Asiatic forms. The princess has a black servant of whom she is enamoured. She steals the ring and elopes with her sable paramour to an island in the sea, where she has a castle erected by the power of the ring. The black man sleeps with the ring under his tongue, but the hero’s dog takes the cat on his back and swims to the island; and the cat contrives to get the ring and deliver it to her master, who straightway causes the castle to be removed from the island, then kills the black man, and afterwards lives happily with the princess.—In a Danish version (Prof. Grundtvig’s “Danske Folkeäventyr”) a peasant gets from an aged man a wishing-box, and henceforward lives in grand style. After his death the steward and servants cheat his son and heir, so that in ten years he is ruined and turned out of house and home. All the property he takes with him is an old sheepskin jacket, in which he finds the wishing-box, which had been, unknown to him, the cause of his father’s prosperity. When the “slave” of the box appears, the hero merely asks for a fiddle that when played upon makes everybody who hears it to dance.[137] He hires himself to the King, whose daughter gives him, in jest, a written promise to marry him, in exchange for the fiddle. The King, when the hero claims the princess, insists on her keeping her promise, and they are married. Then follows the loss of the wishing-box, as in the Greek version, only in place of a black man it is a handsome cavalier who is the lady’s paramour. The recovery of the box is accomplished by very different means, and may be passed over, as belonging to another cycle of tales.[138]

It is perhaps hardly worth while to make a critical analysis of the tale of Aladdin, since with all its gross inconsistencies it has such a hold of the popular fancy that one would not wish it to be otherwise than it is. But it must have 569occurred to many readers that the author has blundered in representing the Magician as closing the Cave upon Aladdin because he refused to give up the Lamp before he had been helped out. As the lad was not aware of the properties of the Lamp, he could have had no object in retaining it for himself, while the Magician in any case was perfectly able to take it by force from him. And if he wished to do away with Aladdin, yet incur no “blood-guiltiness” (see ante, p. 78 and note), he might surely have contrived to send him down into the Cave again and then close it upon him. As to the Magician giving his ring to Aladdin, I can’t agree with Sir Richard in thinking (p. 72, note 3) that he had mistaken its powers; this seems to me quite impossible. The ring was evidently a charm against personal injury as well as a talisman to summon an all-powerful and obedient genie. It was only as a charm that the Magician placed it on Aladdin’s finger, and, as the Hindustani Version explains, he had in his rage and vexation forgot about the ring when he closed the entrance to the Cave. It appears to me also incongruous that the Lamp, which Aladdin found burning, should afterwards only require to be rubbed in order to cause the genie to appear. One should have supposed that the lighting of it would have been more natural or appropriate; and it is possible that such was in the original form of the Aladdin version before it was reduced to writing, since we find something of the kind in a Mecklenburg version given in Grimm, under the title of “Das blaue Licht.” A soldier who had long served his King is at last discharged without any pay. In the course of his wanderings he comes to the hut of an old woman, who proves to be a witch, and makes him work for her in return for his board and lodging. One day she takes him to the edge of a dry well, and bids him go down and get her the Blue Light which he would find at the bottom. He consents, and she lets him down by a rope. When he has secured the Light he signals to the old witch to draw him up, and when she has pulled him within her reach, she bids him give her the Light; he refuses to do so until he is quite out of the well, upon which she lets him fall to the bottom again. After ruminating his condition for some time he bethinks him of his pipe, which is in his pocket—he may as well have a smoke if he is to perish. So he lights his pipe at the Blue Light, when instantly there appears before him a black dwarf, with a hump on his back and a feather in his cap, who demands to know what he wants, for he must obey the possessor of the Blue Light. The soldier first requires to be taken out of the well, and next the destruction of the old witch, after which he helps himself to the treasures in the hag’s cottage, and goes off to the nearest town, where he puts up at the best inn and gets himself fine clothes. Then he determines to requite the King, who had sent him away penniless, so he summons the Dwarf[139] and orders 570him to bring the King’s daughter to his room that night, which the Dwarf does, and very early in the morning he carries her back to her own chamber in the palace. The princess tells her father that she has had a strange dream of being borne through the air during the night to an old soldier’s house. The King says that if it was not a dream, she should make a hole in her pocket and put peas into it, and by their dropping out the place where she was taken to could be easily traced. But the Dwarf when he transports her the second night discovers the trick, and strews peas through all the other streets, and the only result was the pigeons had a rare feast. Then the King bids the princess hide one of her shoes in the soldier’s room, if she is carried there again. A search is made for the shoe in every house the next day, and when it is found in the soldier’s room he runs off, but is soon caught and thrown into prison. In his haste to escape he forgot to take the Blue Light with him. He finds only a ducat in his pocket, and with this he bribes an old comrade whom he sees passing to go and fetch him a parcel he had left at the inn, and so he gets the Blue Light once more. He summons the Dwarf, who tells him to be of good cheer, for all will yet be well, only he must take the Blue Light with him when his trial comes on. He is found guilty and sentenced to be hung upon the gallows-tree. On his way to execution he asks as a last favour to be allowed to smoke, which being granted, he lights his pipe and the Dwarf appears. “Send,” says the soldier—“send all these people to the right about; as for the King, cut him into three pieces.” The Dwarf lays about him with a will, and soon makes the crowd scuttle off. The King begs hard for his life, and agrees to let the soldier have the princess for his wife and the kingdom afterwards.

Thus, it will be seen, popular tales containing all the essential elements of the story of Aladdin are spread over Europe, though hardly any of the versions was probably derived from it; and the conclusion at which I have arrived is that those elements, or incidents, have been time out of mind the common property of European and Asiatic peoples, and that the tale of Aladdin may be considered as an almost unique version. The Mecklenburg legend is the only variant which has the incident of the Magician requiring the Lamp before helping the hero out of the Cave and that of the transporting of the princess from her palace to the hero’s house during the night, but these are not, I think, sufficient evidence that it was adapted from Galland.

The royal command that all shops are to be closed and everybody must keep within doors while the Princess Badr al-Badúr proceeds to the bath and Aladdin’s playing the part of Peeping Tom of Coventry occur in many Eastern stories and find a curious analogue in the Adventures of Kurroglú, the celebrated robber-poet, as translated by Dr. Alexander Chodzko in his “Popular Poetry of Persia,” printed for the Oriental Translation Fund, and copies of that work being somewhat scarce, I daresay the story will be new to most of my readers:

571Listen now to the tale about the Princess Nighara, daughter of the Turkish sultan Murád. In the neighbourhood of Constantinople lived a man who was known there under the name of Belli Ahmad. One day the Princess Nighara went out for a walk through the bazárs of Constantinople. At the same time Kurroglú’s fame spread over all Turkey; everybody was telling stories about him, and all were struck with wonder. The Princess Nighara’s fond heart particularly was filled with an ardent wish of seeing this extraordinary hero, and she often thought in her mind, “O my God, when will you allow me to behold Kurroglú?” It happened that while Belli Ahmad was taking a walk in the bazars of Istambúl, he looked and beheld on the platform of the building daroghs beating drums, whilst all the inmates of the bazár, the workmen as well as the merchants, were flying in a great hurry after having left their shops ajar. “Why are they thus running?” inquired Belli Ahmad of a Turk. “Dost thou know nothing? Then listen: Our king, Sultan Murad, is gone on a pilgrimage to Mecca. His son Burji Sultan reigns until his father’s return. He has a sister whose name is the Princess Nighara. Every Friday she goes to pray in the great mosque. The Sultan’s will is that during the passage of the princess through the bazárs, no man should remain there, but that all the shops be left open. This is the reason of this panic and flight. As soon as the princess has passed, the merchants and workmen will return to their shops again.”

Belli Ahmad said in his heart, “Thy name is Belli Ahmad, and shalt thou not see this beautiful Princess Nighara? If not, thou art unworthy of the name of Belli[140] Ahmad.” He then looked to the right and left and entered stealthily into a greengrocer’s shop enclosed within a few boards. The train of the princess now appeared. First passed with their whips farashes and yassáls, who led the procession and were followed by eunuchs with canes of office (chogan) in their hands. At last appeared the Princess Nighara, surrounded by a score of waiting-women. She walked with a downcast countenance in front of them, and bending her head towards the ground said to herself, “O thou earth on which my foot is treading, I beseech thee, receive my prayer!”[141] Belli Ahmad saw and heard her through the chinks of the boards behind which he sat concealed. When Nighara saw the shop with vegetables she wondered why it should be the only shop enclosed with boards whilst all the other shops were standing open. She then said to her waiting-women, “What is the reason of this? Whilst goldsmiths who possess a capital of a hundred thousand tomans have left their shops open, how is it that this petty merchant of vegetables, whose poor shop used always to be open, has shut it up to-day? There must be something extraordinary in all this. Break down the enclosure, my girls, and throw the boards aside.”

572Belli Ahmad heard, and his soul was on the point of making its exit. He threw himself with his face downwards as if he was prostrated by a severe illness. When her orders had been executed Nighara entered the shop. Perceiving a fellow stretched out his whole length and embracing the floor with both hands, she kicked him with her foot,[142] exclaiming, “Who art thou that wallowest in the dirt?” Belli Ahmad sprang to his feet and bowing to the Princess said, “Lady, I am a stranger here. God preserve you from being in a strange land anywhere! I saw that the merchants of the bazár were beaten and driven away, and I was frightened. But what was I to do? If I should hide myself in some rich shop I might be taken for a thief. I have therefore chosen this miserable hovel, where nothing can be found except greens, onions, and mouldy biscuits. And even if there were in it a few copper pieces, the owner at his departure must have taken them away. Pardon me, Princess; my soul was at stake and I hid myself.”

Nighara inquired, “Stranger, what countryman art thou?” “I am a native of Erzerúm.” “Hast thou seen in those parts the Castle of Chamley-bill?”[143] “Yes, lady, I have seen it.” “In that valley lives a man named Kurroglú: didst thou see him?” “O my Princess, I am one of his servants; I am a slave purchased with his gold.” “Canst thou deliver him a letter from me?” “And wherefore not, fairest? Thou hast only to write and entrust it to me.” The Princess Nighara immediately wrote a letter to Kurroglú with her own hand. And what did she write? Here it is: “O thou who art called Kurroglú, the glory of thy name has thrown a spell over the countries of Turkey. I have heard that thou hast carried away Ayvaz from the town of Orfah. My name is Princess Nighara, Sultan Murad’s daughter. I tell thee, that thou mayest learn if thou dost not know it, that for a long time I have felt an ardent desire of seeing thee. If thou art distinguished by courage, come to Istambúl and carry me away.”

And the bold Kurroglú, when he read the lady’s billet, assumed the dress of a Haji, gained access to the seraglio gardens on the pretence that he was entrusted with a private message to the Princess Nighara from her father the Sultan, whom he had met on the road to Mecca, and carried the amorous young lady to his fortress of Chamley-bill.—The story, together with the scene between the princess and Kurroglú in the gardens and the palace, is, no doubt, a true picture of the “ways” of Turkish ladies of high degree in former times, and confirms much that Sir Richard has stated regarding Eastern women in his notes to The Nights and his Terminal Essay.


figures in a story which in the first part bears some analogy to the celebrated 573Arabian tale, and which occurs in an interesting little work, now apparently forgotten, entitled “The Orientalist; or, Letters of a Rabbi. With Notes by James Noble, Oriental Master in the Scottish Naval and Military Academy,” Edinburgh, 1831. The substance of the story is as follows (p. 118 ff.):

An aged Dervish falls ill in the house of a poor widow, who tends him with great care, with which he is so touched that he offers to take charge of her only son Abdallah. The good woman gladly consents, and the Dervish sets out accompanied by his young ward, having intimated to his mother that they must perform a journey which would last about two years. One day they arrived at a solitary place, and the Dervish said to Abdallah, “My son, we are now at the end of our journey. I shall employ my prayers to obtain from Allah that the earth shall open and make an entrance wide enough to permit thee to descend into a place where thou shalt find one of the greatest treasures that the earth contains. Hast thou courage to descend into the subterranean vault?” Abdallah swore he might depend upon his obedience and zeal. Then the Dervish lighted a small fire, into which he cast a perfume; he read and prayed for some moments, after which the earth opened, and he said to the young man, “Thou mayest now enter. Remember that it is in thy power to do me a great service, and that this is perhaps the only opportunity thou shalt ever have of testifying to me that thou art not ungrateful. Do not let thyself be dazzled by all the riches that thou shalt find there: think only of seizing upon an iron candlestick with twelve branches, which thou shalt find close to the door. That is absolutely necessary to me; come up immediately and bring it to me.”

Abdallah descended, and, neglecting the advice of the Dervish, filled his vest and sleeves with the gold and jewels which he found heaped up in the vault, whereupon the opening by which he had entered closed of itself. He had, however, sufficient presence of mind to seize the iron candlestick, and endeavoured to find some other means of escape from the vault. At length he discovers a narrow passage, which he follows until he reaches the surface of the earth, and looking about for the Dervish saw him not, but to his surprise found that he was close to his mother’s house. On showing his wealth to his mother it all suddenly vanished. But the candlestick remained. He lighted one of the branches, upon which a dervish appeared, and after turning round for an hour, he threw down an asper (about 3 farthings) and vanished. Next night he put a light in each of the branches, when twelve dervishes appeared, and after continuing their gyrations an hour, each threw down an asper and vanished.

Thus Abdallah and his mother contrived to live for a time, till at length he resolved to carry the candlestick to the Dervish, hoping to obtain from him the treasure which he had seen in the vault. He remembered his name and city, and on reaching his dwelling he found the Dervish living in a magnificent palace with fifty porters at the gate. Quoth the Dervish, when Abdallah appeared before him, “Thou art an ungrateful wretch! Hadst thou known the value of the candlestick, thou wouldst never have brought it to me. I will 574show thee its true use.” Then the Dervish placed a light in each branch, whereupon twelve dervishes appeared and began to whirl, but on his giving each a blow with a cane in an instant they were changed into twelve heaps of sequins, diamonds and other precious stones.

Ungrateful as Abdallah had shown himself, yet the Dervish gave him two camels laden with gold and a slave, telling him he must depart the next morning. During the night Abdallah stole the candlestick and placed it at the bottom of one of his sacks. In the morning he took his leave of the generous Dervish and set off. When about half a day’s journey from his own city he sold the slave, that there should be no witness to his former poverty, and bought another in his stead. Arriving home, he carefully placed his loads of treasure in a private chamber, and then put a light in each branch of the candlestick, and when the twelve dervishes appeared, as usual, he dealt each a blow with a cane. But he had not observed that the Dervish employed his left hand, and he had naturally used his right, in consequence of which the twelve dervishes each drew from under their robes a heavy club and beat him till he was nearly dead, and then vanished, as did also the treasure, the camels, the slave, and the wonder-working candlestick.

It is to be regretted that the author has not stated the sources whence he drew his stories, but that they are without exception of Eastern extraction does not admit of any doubt: some are taken from the “Panchatantra,” “Hitopadesa,” or “Anvár-i Suhaylí,” and others are found in other Asiatic story-books. I have however not met with the foregoing elsewhere than in Noble’s little volume. The beginning of the story is near akin to that of Aladdin: for the wicked magician who pretends to take the tailor’s son under his care we have a dervish who in good faith takes charge of the son of a poor widow who had nursed him through a severe illness. The cave scene is very similar in both, only the magician performs diabolical incantations, while the dervish practises “white magic” and prays to Allah for assistance. The twelve-branched candlestick takes the place of the Wonderful Lamp. Like Aladdin, young Abdallah is shut in the cavern, though not because he refused to give up the candlestick until he was safe above ground again, but because his cupidity induced him to pocket some of the treasures which filled the cave.

There is a strong Indian—even Buddhistic—flavour in the story of Abdallah and the Dervish, and the apparition of the twelve whirling fakírs, who when struck with a cane held in the left hand fall into so many heaps of gold coin, has its analogue in the “Hitopadesa” and also in the Persian Tales of a Parrot (“Tútí Náma”). The 10th Fable of Book iii. of the “Hitopadesa” goes thus: In the city of Ayodhya (Oude) there was a soldier named Churamani, who, being anxious for money, for a long time with pain of body worshipped the deity the jewel of whose diadem is the lunar crescent.[144] Being at length purified 575from his sins, in his sleep he had a vision in which, through the favour of the deity, he was directed by the lord of the Yakshas[145] to do as follows: “Early in the morning, having been shaved, thou must stand, club in hand, concealed behind the door of thy house; and the beggar whom thou seest come into the court thou wilt put to death without mercy by blows of thy staff. Instantly the beggar will become a pot full of gold, by which thou wilt be comfortable the rest of thy life.” These instructions being followed, it came to pass accordingly. But the barber who had been brought to shave him, having witnessed it all, said to himself, “O, is this the mode of gaining treasure? Why, then, may not I also do the same?” From that day forward the barber in like manner, with club in hand, day after day awaited the coming of the beggar. One day a beggar being so caught was attacked by him and killed with the stick, for which offence the barber himself was beaten by the King’s officers and died.

The same story is differently told, at greater length and with considerable humour, in Nakhshabí’s Parrot-Book, but the outline of it can only be given here: A rich merchant named Abd-el-Malik resolved to give all his substance to the poor and needy before he departed this life. At midnight an apparition stood before him in the habit of a fakír and thus addressed him: “I am the apparition of thy good fortune and the genius of thy future happiness.[146] When thou, with such unbounded generosity, didst bequeath all thy wealth to the poor, I determined not to pass by thy door unnoticed, but to enrich thee with an inexhaustible treasure, suitable to the greatness of thy capacious soul. To accomplish which I will every morning in this shape appear to thee; thou shalt strike me a few blows on the head, and I shall instantly fall at thy feet, transformed into an image of gold. From this take as much as thou shalt have occasion for; and every member that shall be separated from the image shall instantly be replaced by another of the same precious metal.”[147] In the morning a covetous neighbour named Hajm visited the merchant, and soon after the apparition presented itself. Abd-el-Malik at once arose and after striking it several blows on the head with a stick, it fell down and was changed into an image of gold. He took what sufficed for the day’s needs and gave the larger portion to his visitor. When Hajm the covetous returned to his own house he pondered what he had seen, and concluding it would be as easy for him to convert fakírs into gold, invited to a feast at his house all the fakírs of the province. When they had feasted to their hearts’ content, Hajm seized a heavy club and began to unmercifully belabour his guests till he broke their heads and “the crimson torrent stained the carpet of hospitality.” The cries of the fakírs soon brought the police to their assistance, and a great crowd of people gathered outside the house. Hajm was immediately haled before the magistrate, and attempted to justify his 576conduct by giving an account of what he had seen done in the house of Abd-el-Malik. The merchant was sent for and declared Hajm to be mad, no better proof of which could be desired than his treatment of the fakírs. So Hajm the covetous was sent forthwith to the hospital for lunatics.


Readers of The Nights must have observed that a large number of the tales begin with an account of a certain powerful king, whose dominions were almost boundless, whose treasury overflowed, and whose reign was a blessing to his people; but he had one all-absorbing care—he had no son. Thus in the tale of Khudadad we read that in the city of Harrán there dwelt a sultan “of illustrious lineage, a protector of the people, a lover of his lieges, a friend of mankind, and renowned for being gifted with every good quality. Allah Almighty had bestowed upon him all that his heart could desire, save the boon of a child; for though he had lovely wives within his haram-door and concubines galore [far too many, no doubt!], he had not been blessed with a son,” and so forth. This is the “regulation” opening of by far the greater number of Asiatic stories, even as it was de rigueur for the old pagan Arab poets to begin their kasídas with a lamentation for the departure of a fair one, whether real or imaginary. The Sultan of our story is constantly petitioning Heaven for the boon of a son (who among Easterns is considered as the “light of the house”), and at length there appears to him in his slumbers a comely man who bids him go on the morrow to his chief gardener and get from him a pomegranate, of which he should eat as many seeds as he pleases, after which his prayers for offspring should be granted. This remedy for barrenness is very common in Indian fictions (to which I believe Khudadad belongs), only it is usually the king’s wives who eat the seeds or fruit.[148] A few parallels to the opening of our tale from Indian sources may prove somewhat interesting, both to students of popular fictions and to those individuals who are vaguely styled “general readers.”

577A Kashmírí tale, entitled “The Four Princes,” translated by the Rev. J. Hinton Knowles, in the “Indian Antiquary,” 1886,[149] thus begins: In days long since gone by there lived a king most clever, most holy, and most wise, who was a pattern king. His mind was always occupied with plans for the improvement of his country and people; his darbár was open to all; his ear was ever ready to listen to the petition of the humblest subject; he afforded every facility for trade; he established hospitals for the sick, inns (sará’e) for travellers, and large schools for those who wished to learn. These and many other such things he did. Nothing was left undone that ought to be done, and nothing was done that ought not to have been done. Under such a wise, just, and beneficent ruler the people of course lived very happily. Few poor or unenlightened or wicked persons were to be found in the country. But the great and good king had not a son. This was an intense sorrow to him—the one dark cloud that now and again overshadowed his otherwise happy and glorious life. Every day he prayed earnestly to Siva to grant him an heir to sit upon the throne after him. One day Siva appeared to him in the garb of a yogí,[150] and bade him ask a boon and it should be granted. “Take these four fruits,” said Siva, “and give them to your wife to eat on such a day before sunrise. Then shall your wife give birth to four sons who will be exceedingly clever and good.” The king follows these instructions and in due course his wife is delivered of four sons at one birth and thereupon dies. The rest of the story is a variant of the Tamil romance “Alakésa Kathá,”[151] and of “Strike, but hear!” in Rev. Lal Behari Day’s “Folk-Tales of Bengal.”

This is how the Tamil story of The Four Good Sisters begins (“Folk-Lore in Southern India,” Part iii., by Pandit S. M. Natésa Sástrí[152]): In the town of Tañjai there reigned a king named Hariji, who was a very good and charitable sovereign. In his reign the tiger and the bull drank out of the same pool, the serpent and the peacock amused themselves under the same tree; and thus even birds and beasts of a quarrelsome and inimical disposition lived together like sheep of the same flock. While the brute creation of the great God was thus living in friendship and happiness, need it be said that this king’s subjects led a life of peace and prosperity unknown in any other country under the canopy of heaven? But for all the peace which his subjects enjoyed, Harijí himself had no joy: his face was always drooping, his lips never moved in laughter, and he was as sad as sad could be, because he had no son.—After trying in vain the 578distribution of charitable gifts which his ministers and the priests recommended, the king resolves to retire into the wilderness and there endeavour to propitiate Mahésvara [i.e. Siva], hoping thus to have his desire fulfilled. He appoints his ministers to order the realm during his absence, and doffing his royal robes clothes himself in the bark of trees and takes up his abode in the desert. After practising the most severe austerities for the space of three years, Siva, mounted on his bull, with his spouse Párvatí by his side, appears before the hermit, who is overjoyed at the sight of the deity. Siva bids him ask any boon and it should be granted. The royal ascetic desires to have a son. Then says Siva: “For thy long penance we grant thy request. Choose then—a son who shall always be with thee till death, but shall be the greatest fool in the whole world; or four daughters who shall live with thee for a short time, then leave thee and return before thy death, but who shall be the incarnation of learning. To thee is left to choose which thou wilt have,” and so saying, the deity gives him a mango fruit for his wife to eat, and then disappears. The king elects to have the four learned daughters, whose history is very entertaining.

Another tale in the Pandit’s collection (No. 4) informs us that once upon a time in a town named Vañjaimánagar there ruled a king named Siváchár. He was a most just king and ruled so well that no stone thrown up fell down, no crow pecked at the new-drawn milk, the lion and the bull drank water from the same pond, and peace and prosperity reigned throughout the kingdom. Notwithstanding all these blessings, care always sat on his face. His days and nights he spent in praying that God might bless him with a son. Wherever he saw pípal trees he ordered Bráhmans to circumambulate them.[153] Whatever medicines the doctors recommended he was ever ready to swallow, however bitter they might be. At last fortune favoured Siváchár; for what religious man fails to obtain his desire? The king in his sixtieth year had a son, and his joy knew no bounds.

In like fashion does the Persian “Sindibád Náma” begin: There reigned in India a sage and mighty monarch, the bricks of whose palace were not of stone or marble but of gold; the fuel of whose kitchen was fresh wood of aloes; who had brought under the signet of his authority the kingdoms of Rúm and Abyssinia; and to whom were alike tributary the Ethiop Maháráj and the Roman Kaysar. He was distinguished above all monarchs for his virtue, clemency, and justice. But although he was the refuge of the Khalífate, he was not blessed with an heir: life and the world appeared profitless to him, because he had no fruit of the heart in the garden of his soul.—One night, 579while reclining on his couch, sad and thoughtful, consumed with grief like a morning taper, he heaved a deep sigh, upon which one of his favourite wives (he had a hundred in his harem), advancing towards him and kissing the ground, inquired the cause of his distress. He discloses it. His wife consoles him, encourages him to hope, and assures him that if he prayed, his prayers would be answered; but that at all events it was his duty to be resigned to the will of God. “Prayer is the only key that will open the door of difficulty.” The king fasted for a whole week and was assiduous in his devotions. One night he prayed with peculiar earnestness and self-abasement till morning. The companion of his couch was one of his wives, fairer than the sun and the envy of a perí. He clasped her in his embrace, exclaiming, “There is no strength, no power, save in God!” and he felt assured in his heart that his prayer was granted. In due time a son was born to him, and, eager to show his gratitude, he bestowed munificent gifts and lavished his treasures on all his subjects.

The seventh of Lal Behari Day’s “Folk-Tales of Bengal” opens as follows: Once on a time there reigned a king who had seven queens. He was very sad, for the seven queens were all barren. A holy mendicant, however, one day told the king that in a certain forest there grew a tree, on a branch of which hung seven mangoes; if the king himself plucked those mangoes and gave one to each of the queens they would all become mothers. So the king went to the forest, plucked the seven mangoes that grew upon one branch, and gave a mango to each of the queens to eat. In a short time the king’s heart was filled with joy, as he heard that the seven queens were pregnant.—In Miss Stokes’ “Indian Fairy Tales,” p. 91, Rájá Barbál receives from an ascetic 160 lichí fruits, one of which he is to give to each of his 160 wives, who would have each a son.—Similar instances occur in Steel and Temple’s “Wide Awake Stories”, from the Panjáb and Kashmír, pp. 47 and 290, and in Natésa Sástrí’s “Dravidian Nights’ Entertainments” (a translation of the Tamil romance entitled “Madanakámarájankadai”), pp. 55, 56.—Among biblical instances of women having offspring after being long barren are: Sarah, the wife of Abraham (Gen. ch. xv. 2–4, xxi. 1, 2); Rachel, the wife of Jacob (Gen. ch. xxx., 1, 22, 23); and Elisabeth, the wife of Zacharias, the high-priest, who were the parents of John the Baptist (Luke, ch. i.). Whether children be a “blessing,” notwithstanding all that has been said and sung about the exquisite joys of paternity and maternity, is perhaps doubtful, generally speaking: one thing is certain, that many an honest fellow has had too much cause to “wonder why the devil he got an heir!”[154]

580Although no version or variant of the story of Khudadad and his Brothers has yet been found besides the one in the Turkish collection “Al-Faráj ba’d al-Shiddah,” yet the elements of which it is composed occur in many European and Asiatic tales. As we have in Galland a story of sisters who envied their cadette, so, by way of justice to the “fair sex,” we have likewise this tale of envious brothers, which is a favourite theme of popular fictions, only in the story of Khudadad, the brothers were not at first aware of the hero’s kinship to them, though they had been informed of it when they most ungratefully cut and slashed him with their swords as he lay asleep by the side of his beauteous bride the Princess of Daryabár.

Sometimes it is not a brother, or brothers, but a treacherous friend or a secret cowardly rival, who attempts the life of the hero and claims the credit and reward for his bold achievement. Many examples must occur to readers familiar with Icelandic, Norwegian, and German folk-tales, which need not here be cited. In the old French romance of the Chevalier Berinus and his gallant son Aigres de l’Aimant, the King of Loquiferne is in love with the Princess Melia, daughter of a king named Absalon, who would give her only to the prince who should bring with him two knights prepared to combat with and slay two fierce lions, or would attempt this feat himself. None of the barons of the King of Loquiferne offering themselves for the adventure, Aigres undertakes it very readily, and is accompanied by a knight named Açars, who has charge of a casket of jewels destined for the princess as a wedding-gift. Young Aigres encounters and kills the lions single-handed, and the lily-livered and faithless Açars envies him the glory of his exploit. On their way back to Loquiferne with the Princess Melia, as they pass near a deep well Açars purposely allows the casket of jewels to fall into it and pretends to be distracted at the misfortune. But the gallant Aigres securing one end of his horse’s reins to the top of the well descends by this improvised rope, and when he dives into the water to recover the casket the rascal Açars cuts the reins and compels the princess and her maid to follow him. His triumph is brief, however, for Melia and her maid are taken from him, without his striking a blow in their defence, by a king who is in love with the princess. Açars proceeds to the court of the King of Loquiferne and tells him how the lady had been snatched out of his hands by a king who attacked him with a great army while Aigres had fled like a craven. Meanwhile Aigres contrives to get out of the well, and finds his steed and armour close by: he is fortunate in rescuing the princess and her maid from the king who had taken them from Açars, and arriving at the court of Loquiferne denounces Açars as a coward and traitor, and the princess Melia confirms his assertions; so the carpet-knight is for ever disgraced.

Another example not very generally known is found in the Urdú romance, “Gul-í Bakáwalí”: When the hero, Taj al-Malúk, the youngest son of King Zayn al-Malúk, is born, the astrologers cast his horoscope and predict that the king will lose his sight as soon as he looks upon him. In order to prevent such a calamity, the king causes the child and his mother to be 581placed in a house far distant from the city, where Zayn al-Malúk grows up into a handsome, courageous youth. By chance he meets his father, the king, while the latter is hunting, and the king no sooner casts his eyes on the youth than he becomes blind. The royal physicians tell him that only the Rose of Bakáwalí can restore his sight, and the four other sons of the king set out together to procure this wonderful flower. They fall victims to the wiles of a courtesan, who wins all their money at play and ultimately imprisons them in her house. In the meantime Taj al-Malúk has started on the same errand; he outwits the courtesan, obtains the liberation of his brothers, and then journeys to Jinnistán, where, by the help of a friendly demon, he plucks the Rose in the garden of the beauteous fairy Bakáwalí, and retraces his way homeward. Meeting with his four brothers on the road, he acquaints them of his success, and on their doubting the virtue of the flower, it is applied to the eyes of a blind man, and his sight is instantly restored. Upon this the brothers take the flower from Taj al-Malúk by force and hasten with it to their father. But the hero’s friends the demons build for him a splendid palace, and the fame of his wealth soon reaches the court of his father, who, with the four brothers and the ministers of state, visits him, and after a great feast Taj al-Malúk makes himself known to the king and relates the whole story of how he procured the flower that had restored his sight. The king falls upon his son’s neck and weeps tears of joy, saying, “You have restored the light of my eyes by the Rose of Bakáwalí, and by the sight of you the door of cheerfulness has been opened in my sorrowful heart. It is incumbent on me to make known this enlivening news to your mother, who has looked out for you with anxiety, and I must cause her, who has been afflicted with grief at your absence, to drink the sherbet of the glad tidings of your safety.” Then the king went to Taj al-Malúk’s mother, made many apologies for his ill-treatment of her, exalted her higher than she was previously, and gave her the joyful news of her son’s arrival. The remainder of the romance recounts the marvellous adventures of the hero in fairyland, whither he proceeds to rejoin Bakáwalí, and where he undergoes many strange transformations; but ultimately all is “merry as marriage bells.”—Nothing is said about the punishment or pardon of the treacherous brothers, but doubtless in the original form of the story the hero acted as generously towards them as did Khudadad when his father would have put the forty brothers to death. It seems somewhat strange that after Khudadad’s brothers had killed him (as they believed) they did not take the Princess Daryabár away with them, which generally happens in stories of this kind.



An incident in the Muhammedan version of the legend of the Seven Sleepers may have furnished a hint for this well-told tale: When the evil-minded Dekianus views the Hid Treasure, which he had covenanted with the aged man who read the Tablet for him and conducted him to the spot should be equitably divided betwixt them—when he had beheld with wonder and astonishment the incalculable riches contained in the seven chambers, he says within himself, “And must I share this with the old man?” Then he ponders and thinks, “Nay, but I will give him a goodly portion;” but finally he resolves to give him nothing—nay more, to take away his life so that there should be none on earth besides himself acquainted with the source of his wealth. In vain does the old man bid him take all the treasure and swear that he will ever preserve the secret: Dekianus smote him with his sword so that he died.

There is a tale in the Persian story-book “Shamsah wa Kahkahah” (also entitled “Mahbúb al-Kalúb”) which bears some analogy to the story of the Blind Man, Baba Abdullah. A skilful geomancer is desired by a tradesman to cast his horoscope. He does so, and informs the tradesman that he is to find a treasure. The man is incredulous, but after the operation is repeated with the same result at length becomes convinced of the accuracy of the geomancer’s calculations, locks his door, and forthwith they both begin to dig the floor. They come upon a large stone which on removal is found to have covered a well. The geomancer lowers the tradesman down it in a basket, which the latter fills with gold and silver and precious stones, and it is drawn up by the geomancer. When this has been repeated several times and the geomancer views the immense quantity of glittering treasure heaped up beside him, covetous thoughts enter his mind, and he determines to leave the tradesman to his fate at the bottom of the well, take all the wealth for himself, and live in comfort and luxury the rest of his days. Accordingly he does not again let the basket down, and the poor tradesman, suspecting his iniquitous design, calls out piteously to his perfidious friend, imploring him not to leave him there to perish, and swearing that the treasure should be equally shared as between brothers. But the covetous geomancer is deaf to his appeal, and begins to consider how the treasure might be conveyed to his own house without attracting the notice of any of the folk of the quarter, and in the midst of his cogitations he falls asleep. Now it happened that the poor tradesman had an enemy who had long waited for an opportunity to do him a personal injury, and that very night he came to the house, and by means of a rope with a hook which 583he fastened to the wall he climbed on to the roof and descended into the place where the geomancer was sleeping. The man, mistaking him for the tradesman, seized the geomancer and with a sharp awl pierced his eyes, blinding him for ever. But, having thus effected his revenge as he thought, in groping his way out of the house he stumbled into the well and broke his foot. The tradesman taking him for the geomancer, come for more gold, upbraided him for his insatiable avarice, and the man, in his turn, supposing him to have been thrown into the well by the tradesman, replied, “Be satisfied; I have punished him who cast you into this place,” but as he began to howl from the pain of his broken foot, the tradesman knew that he was not the geomancer. Next morning the tradesman’s son arrives from a long trading journey, with much gold and merchandise and many slaves. On entering his father’s house he is astounded to perceive the open well and by the side of it a vast heap of treasure and a man holding both hands to his eyes and wailing bitterly, lamenting the covetousness which had caused him the loss of his eyesight. The young man sends a slave down into the well and the first person drawn up is the tradesman, who is both surprised and overjoyed to behold his son once more, and tells him the whole story. His enemy is then taken out and is dismayed to find that he has blinded the wrong man. Both the geomancer and the tradesman’s enemy are pardoned, but the latter dies soon after, while the geomancer retires to a cave in the mountains, where every morning and evening two small loaves are thrown in to him by an unknown hand, and during the rest of his life he never ceased to repeat this distich:

If you possess one barley grain of justice,
You will never have half a grain of sorrow.

But much more closely resembling the story of Baba Abdullah is a tale in the Persian romance which recounts the imaginary adventures of Hatim Ta’í. A blind man is confined in a cage which is suspended from a branch of a tree, and constantly exclaims, “Do evil to none; if you do, evil will overtake you.” Hatim having promised to mend his condition and relieve him, he relates his history as follows:

“I am by occupation a merchant, and my name is Hamír. When I became of age my father had finished the building of this city, and he called the same after my name. Shortly after, my father departed on a sea voyage, and left me in charge of the city. I was a free-hearted and social young man, and so in a short time expended all the property left under my care by my father. Thus I became surrounded with poverty and want; and as I knew that my father had hidden treasures somewhere in the house, I resolved to discover them if possible. I searched everywhere, but found nothing; and, to complete my woe, I received the news of my father’s death, the ship in which he sailed being wrecked.

584“One day as I was sauntering, mournful and dejected, through the bazár, I espied a learned man who cried out, ‘If any one has lost his money by theft or otherwise, my knowledge of the occult sciences enables me to recover the same, but on condition that I receive one fourth of the amount.’ When I heard this seasonable proclamation, I immediately approached the man of science, and stated to him my sad condition and how I had been reduced from affluence to poverty. The sage undertook to restore my wealth, and above all to discover the treasures concealed in my father’s house. I conducted him to the house and showed him every apartment, which he carefully examined one after another. At length by his art he discovered the stores we were in search of; and when I saw the gold and silver and other valuables, which exceeded calculation, the demon of fraud entered my heart, and I refused to fulfil my promise of giving a fourth of the property to the man of wisdom. I offered him only a few small pieces of silver; instead of accepting which, he stood for a few moments in silent meditation, and with a look of scorn said, ‘Do I thus receive the fourth part of your treasure which you agreed to give me? Base man, of what perjury are you guilty?’ On hearing this I became enraged, and having struck him several blows on the face, I expelled him from my house. In a few days, however, he returned, and so far ingratiated himself into my confidence that we became intimate friends; and night and day he displayed before my sight the various hidden treasures contained within the bowels of the earth. One day I asked him to instruct me in this wonderful science, to which he answered that no instruction was requisite. ‘Here,’ said he, ‘is a composition of surma, and whoever applies the same to his eyes, to him will all the wealth of this world become visible.’[155] ‘Most learned sir,’ I replied, ‘if you will anoint mine eyes with this substance, I promise to share with you the half of all such treasures as I may discover.’ ‘I agree,’ said my friend; ‘meanwhile let us retire to the desert, where we shall be free from interruption.’

“We immediately set out, and when we arrived there I was surprised at seeing this cage, and asked my companion whose it was. I received for answer, that it belonged to no one. In short, we both sat down at the foot of this tree, and the sage, having produced the surma from his pocket, began to apply it to my eyes. But, alas! no sooner had he applied this composition than I became totally deprived of sight. In a voice of sorrow I asked him why he had thus treated me, and he replied, ‘Such is the reward of treachery; and if you wish to recover your sight, you must for some time undergo penance in this cage. You must utter no complaint and you shall exclaim from time to time, ‘Do no evil to anyone; if you do, evil will befall you.’ I entreated 585the sage to relieve me, saying, ‘You are a mere mortal like myself, and dare you thus torment a fellow-creature? How will you account for your deeds to the Supreme Judge?’ He answered, ‘This is the reward of your treachery.’ Seeing him inexorable, I begged of him to inform me when and how my sight was to be restored; and he told me, that a noble youth should one day visit me, and to him I was to make known my condition, and farther state, that in the desert of Himyar there is a certain herb called the Flower of Light, which the youth was to procure and apply to my eyes, by means of which my sight should be restored.’”

When the man in the cage had ended his story, the magnanimous Hatim bade him be of good cheer, for he would at once endeavour to relieve him. By the aid of the fairies, who carry him through the air for the space of seven days, he arrives in the desert where the Flowers of Light shine brilliant as lamps on a festival night, diffusing the sweetest perfume far and wide; and recking naught for the serpents, scorpions, and beasts of prey which infested the place (for he had a talisman that protected him), he advances and plucks three of the largest and most brilliant flowers. Returning in the same manner as he had gone thither, he reaches the spot where the blind man Hamír is imprisoned: taking down the cage, he releases the wretched man, compresses the stalk of the flower so that the juice drops upon his sightless eyeballs, and when this has been repeated three times Hamír opens his eyes, and seeing Hatim falls prostrate at his feet with a profusion of thanks.

Although there are some differences in the details of the story of Baba Abdullah and that of Hamír, as above, yet the general similarity between them is sufficient to warrant the conclusion that if one was not adapted from the other, both must have been derived from the same source; and here we have, I think, clear evidence of the genuineness of another of the tales which Galland was believed to have invented himself.


It is curious to find this current as a folk-tale at Palena, in the Abruzzi, without any material variation except in the conclusion. My friend Mr. E. Sidney Hartland has favoured me with the following abstract of the Italian version, as given in vol. iii. of the “Archivio per lo studio delle Tradizioni Popolari” (Palermo, 1882), p. 222:

There was once a husband and wife. The wife says that she cannot eat anything, and only picks a few grains of rice with a large pin. Her husband asks why she eats nothing, and she answers that she does not want to eat. Meantime she goes out secretly every night, and the husband begins to have suspicions of her. One night he follows her softly, and finds she goes to the 586burial ground, where she meets with certain female companions. They open a grave and feed on the flesh of the dead. The next morning the husband cooks rice again, and the wife picks up a few grains of it with a pin as before. The husband exclaims, “What! you enjoy the flesh of dead men, and over rice you are so finical as to eat it with a pin!” The wife is so enraged at learning that her husband knows of her doings that she goes to the waterbucket, fills a small bottle from it, and having muttered certain words over the water flings it upon him and he instantly becomes transformed into a dog. A provision merchant sees him running about, and takes and sets him on his counter. When the people come to buy provisions the dog examines the money to see if it be good, and the false coin he throws on the ground. One day a man comes to buy bacon and offers false coin. The provision merchant refuses to take it; they dispute over the matter, and it is referred to the dog, who throws the money on the ground. The man is astonished, and returning home tells his wife, who at once says that the dog is not a dog, and desires her husband to bring her the animal that she may see it. The man returns to the provision merchant and begs him to lend him the dog for a little while, and takes it home. The wife, who is a companion of the wife of him who has been changed into a dog, and understands witchcraft, fills a bottle with water, pronounces certain words over it, and throws the water upon the dog, who immediately becomes a man again, and she advises him to do to his wife as she had done to him, and imparts the secret to him. As soon as he returns home he fills the bottle with water from the bucket, says the words he had learned, and throws the water over his wife, who becomes a mare. He drives her out of the house and beats her as flax is beaten. To every one who asks why he is thrashing the mare he tells his story, and the people say, “Serve her right!” This goes on for some time. At last, when the husband sees that his wife has voided enough foam from the mouth, with another dash of water he changes her back to her proper form, and henceforward she eats whatever is set before her, obeys her husband in all things, and never goes out by night again. So they live long, happy and contented.

This version from the Abruzzi so closely resembles the story of Sidi Nu’mán that we should perhaps be justified in concluding it to have been directly derived from Galland’s Nights, in the absence of any Venetian version, which might well have been imported independently from the East; but however this may be, the story in Galland bears unquestionable internal evidence that it is a genuine Arabian narrative, having nothing peculiarly European in its details.

A somewhat similar story is quite familiar to me, but I cannot at present call to mind whether it occurs in a Persian collection or in The Nights, in which the woman going out when she thinks her husband asleep, the latter follows her to a hut at some distance which she enters, and peeping into the hut, he sees a hideous black give her a severe beating for not coming sooner, while she pleads that she could not venture to quit the house until her husband was sound 587asleep. The two carouse together, and by-and-by the black going outside for a purpose, the husband strikes off his head with his sword and then conceals himself close by. The woman, after waiting some time, goes out to see what is detaining her paramour, and finding his headless body, she moans over it in great sorrow, and then taking the corpse on her back carries it away and throws it into the river. Her husband hastens home before her, and so she suspects nothing. Some days after, when she refuses to do some light work because of her physical weakness, her husband can no longer control himself, and tells her that she had strength enough to carry on her back the body of her black paramour, and so on.[156]

The ghoul-wife of Arabian tales, who eats little or nothing at home, has her counterpart in the rákshasí of Indian fictions, who secretly devours antelopes etc. There are many parallels in The Nights and other Asiatic story-books to the incident of Sidi Nu’mán being changed back into his proper form, the most noteworthy being perhaps the case of the Second Calender in the shape of a monkey, or ape, whom the princess, an adept in white magic, at once recognises as a man and veils her face, as does the young woman in the case of Sidi Nu’mán: but while the Calender is restored to his own form, the princess, alas! perishes in her encounter with the genie who had transformed him.—In most of the Arabian tales of magical transformations of men and women into beasts the victims are ultimately restored to their natural forms, but in the Indian romance of the princes Somasekhara and Chitrasekhara, a wicked king named Ugrabáhu is permanently changed by some water taken from a magic fountain into a monkey and sold to a beggar, who compels him to perform tricks in public for his benefit. Heywood, in his “History of Women” (Book viii.), cites some curious European stories of men being transformed into donkeys by eating a certain kind of cheese.


How this entertaining story found its way into North Germany—and nowhere else in Europe, so far as I am aware—it is not easy to say, but its twin-brother seems to be orally current there, in all essential details, excepting the marvellous conclusion. For the poor ropemaker, however, a struggling weaver and for the two gentlemen, Sa’d and Sa’dí, three rich students are substituted. There does not appear (according to the version given by Thorpe in his “Yule Tide Stories,” which he entitles, not inaptly, The Three Gifts) to be any difference of opinion among the students regarding the influence of Destiny, or Fate, upon men’s fortunes: they simply give the poor weaver a hundred dollars, “to assist him in his housekeeping.” The weaver hides the money in 588a heap of rags, unknown to his wife, who sells them to a rag-collector for a trifling sum. A year afterwards the students are again passing the house of the weaver and find him poorer than ever. He tells them of his mishap and they give him another hundred dollars, warning him to be more careful with the money this time. The weaver conceals the dollars in the ash-tub, again without the cognisance of his wife, who disposes of the ashes for a few pieces of soap. At the end of the second year the students once more visit the wretched weaver, and on being informed of his loss, they throw a bit of lead at his feet, saying it’s of no use to give such a fool money, and go away in a great huff. The weaver picks up the lead and places it on the window-sill. By-and-by a neighbour, who is a fisherman, comes in and asks for a bit of lead or some other heavy thing, for his net, and on receiving the lead thrown down by the students promises to give him in return the first large fish he catches. The weaver does get a fine fish, which he immediately cuts open, and finds in its stomach a “large stone,” which he lays on the window-sill, where, as it becomes dark, the stone gives forth a brighter and brighter light, “just like a candle,” and then he places it so that it illuminates the whole apartment. “That’s a cheap lamp,” quoth he to his wife: “wouldst not like to dispose of it as thou didst the two hundred dollars?” The next evening a merchant happening to ride past the weaver’s house perceives the brilliant stone, and alighting from his horse, enters and looks at it, then offers ten dollars for it, but the weaver says the stone is not for sale. “What! not even for twenty dollars?” “Not even for that.” The merchant keeps on increasing his offers till he reaches a thousand dollars, which was about half its real value, for the stone was a diamond, and which the weaver accepts, and thus he becomes the richest man in all the village. His wife, however, took credit to herself for his prosperity, often saying to him, “How well it was that I threw away the money twice, for thou hast me to thank for thy good luck!”—and here the German story ends. For the turban of the ropemaker and the kite that carried it off, with its precious lining, we have the heap of rags and the rag-collector; but the ashes exchanged for soap agrees with the Arabian story almost exactly.

The incident of the kite carrying off the poor ropemaker’s turban in which he had deposited the most part of the gold pieces that he received from the gentleman who believed that “money makes money”—an unquestionable fact, in spite of our story—is of very frequent occurrence in both Western and Eastern fictions. My readers will recollect its exact parallel in the abstract of the romance of Sir Isumbras, cited in Appendix to the preceding volumes: how the Knight, with his little son, after the soudan’s ship has sailed away with his wife, is bewildered in a forest, where they fall asleep, and in the morning at sunrise when he awakes, an eagle pounces down and carries off his scarlet mantle, in which he had tied up his scanty store of provisions together with the gold he had received from the soudan; and how many years after he found it in a bird’s nest (Supp. Nights, vol. ii. p. 361 and p. 365).—And, 589not to multiply examples, a similar incident occurs in the “Kathá Sarit Ságara,” Book ix. ch. 54, where a merchant named Samudrasúra is shipwrecked and contrives to reach the land, where he perceives the corpse of a man, round the loins of which is a cloth with a knot in it. On unfastening the cloth he finds in it a necklace studded with jewels. The merchant proceeds towards a city called Kalasapuri, carrying the necklace in his hand. Overpowered by the heat, he sits down in a shady place and falls asleep. The necklace is recognised by some passing policemen as that of the king’s daughter, and the merchant is at once taken before the king and accused of having stolen it. While the merchant is being examined, a kite swoops down and carries off the necklace. Presently a voice from heaven declares that the merchant is innocent, explains how the necklace came into his possession, and orders the king to dismiss him with honour. This celestial testimony in favour of the accused satisfies the king, who gives the merchant much wealth and sends him on his way. The rest of the story is as follows: “And after he had crossed the sea, he travelled with a caravan, and one day, at evening time, he reached a wood. The caravan encamped in the wood for the night, and while Samudrasúra was awake a powerful host of bandits attacked it. While the bandits were massacring the members of the caravan, Samudrasúra left his wares and fled, and climbed up a banyan-tree without being discovered. The host of bandits departed, after they had carried off all the wealth, and the merchant spent that night there, perplexed with fear and distracted with grief. In the morning he cast his eyes towards the top of the tree, and saw, as fate would have it, what looked like the light of a lamp, trembling among the leaves. And in his astonishment he climbed up the tree and saw a kite’s nest, in which there was a heap of glittering priceless jewelled ornaments. He took them all out of it, and found among the ornaments that necklace which he had found in Svarnadvípa and the kite had carried off. He obtained from that nest unlimited wealth, and descending from the tree, he went off delighted, and reached in course of time his own city of Harshapúra. There the merchant Samudrasúra remained, enjoying himself to his heart’s content, with his family, free from the desire of any other wealth.”

There is nothing improbable—at all events, nothing impossible—in the History of Khwajah Hasan al-Habbál. That he should lose the two sums of money in the manner described is quite natural, and the incidents carry with them the moral: “Always take your wife into your confidence” (but the Khwajah was a Muslim), notwithstanding the great good luck which afterwards befell, and which, after all, was by mere chance. There is nothing improbable in the finding of the turban with the money intact in the bird’s nest, but that this should occur while the Khwajah’s benefactors were his guests is—well, very extraordinary indeed! As to the pot of bran—why, some little license must be allowed a story-teller, that is all that need be said! The story from beginning to end is a most charming one, and will continue to afford pleasure to old and young—to “generations yet unborn.”



I confess to entertaining a peculiar affection for this tale. It was the first of the tales of the “Arabian Nights Entertainments” which I read in the days of my “marvelling boyhood”—eheu! fugaces, &c., &c. I may therefore be somewhat prejudiced in its favour, just as I still consider Scott’s “Waverley” as the best of his long series of fascinating fictions, that being the first of them which I read—as it was the first he wrote. But “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves”—the “open, sesame!” “shut, sesame!”—the sackfuls of gold and silver and the bales of rich merchandise in the robbers’ cave—the avaricious brother forgetting the magical formula which would open the door and permit him to escape with his booty—his four quarters hung up in terrorem—and above all, the clever, devoted slave-girl, Morgiana, who in every way outwitted the crafty robber-chief;—these incidents remain stamped in my memory ineffaceably: like the initials of lovers’ names cut into the bark of a growing tree, which, so far from disappearing, become larger by the lapse of time. To me this delightful tale will ever be, as Hafiz sings of something, “freshly fresh and newly new.” I care not much though it never be found in an Arabic or any other Oriental dress—but that it is of Asiatic invention is self-evident; there is, in my poor opinion, nothing to excel it, if indeed to equal it, for intense interest and graphic narrative power in all the Nights proper.

Sir Richard Burton has remarked, in note 1, p. 369, that Mr. Coote could only find in the south of Europe, or in the Levant, analogues of two of the incidents of this tale, yet one of those may accepted as proof of its Eastern extraction, namely, in the Cyprian story of “Three Eyes,” where the ogre attempts to rescue his wife with a party of blacks concealed in bales: “The King’s jester went downstairs, in order to open the bales and take something out of them. Directly he approached one of the sacks, the black man answered from the inside, ‘Is it time, master?’ In the same manner he tried all the sacks, and then went upstairs and told them that the sacks were full of black men. Directly the King’s bride heard this, she made the jester and the company go downstairs. They take the executioner with them, and go to the first sack. The black man says from the inside, ‘Is it time?’ ‘Yes,’ say they to him, and directly he came out they cut his head off. In the same manner they go to the other sacks and kill the other black men.”[157]

The first part of the tale of Ali Baba—ending with the death of his greedy brother—is current in North Germany, to this effect:

591A poor woodcutter, about to fell a beech at the back of the scattered ruins of the castle of Dummburg, seeing a monk approach slowly through the forest, hid himself behind a tree. The monk passed by and went among the rocks. The woodcutter stole cautiously after him and saw that he stopped at a small door which had never been discovered by the villagers. The monk knocks gently and cries, “Little door, open!” and the door springs open. He also cries, “Little door, shut!” and the door is closed. The woodcutter carefully observes the place, and next Sunday goes secretly and obtains access to the vault by the same means as that employed by the monk. He finds in it “large open vessels and sacks full of old dollars and fine guilders, together with heavy gold pieces, caskets filled with jewels and pearls, costly shrines and images of saints, which lay about or stood on tables of silver in corners of the vault.” He takes but a small quantity of the coin, and as he is quitting the vault a voice cries, “Come again!” First giving to the church, for behoof of the poor, a tenth of what he had taken, he goes to the town and buys clothes for his wife and children, giving out to his neighbours that he had found an old dollar and a few guilders under the roots of a tree that he had felled. Next Sunday he again visits the vault, this time supplying himself somewhat more liberally from the hoard, but still with moderation and discretion, and “Come again!” cries a voice as he is leaving. He now gives to the church two tenths, and resolves to bury the rest of the money he had taken in his cellar. But he can’t resist a desire to first measure the gold, for he could not count it. So he borrows for this purpose a corn-measure of a neighbour—a very rich but penurious man, who starved himself, hoarded up corn, cheated the labourer of his hire, robbed the widow and the orphan, and lent money on pledges. Now the measure had some cracks in the bottom, through which the miser shook some grains of corn into his own heap when selling it to the poor labourer, and into these cracks two or three small coins lodged, which the miser was not slow to discover. He goes to the woodcutter and asks him what it was he had been measuring. “Pine-cones and beans.” But the miser holds up the coins he had found in the cracks of the measure, and threatens to inform upon him and have him put to the question if he will not disclose to him the secret of his money. So the woodcutter is constrained to tell him the whole story and much against his will, but not before he had made the miser promise that he would give one-tenth to the church, he conducts him to the vault. The miser enters, with a number of sacks, the woodcutter waiting outside to receive them when filled with treasure. But while the miser is gloating over the enormous wealth before him—even “wealth beyond the dreams of avarice”—a great black dog comes and lays himself down on the sacks. Terrified at the flaming eyes of the dog, the miser crept towards the door, but in his fear forgot the proper words, and instead of saying, “Little door, open!” he cried, “Little door, shut!” The woodcutter, having waited a long time, approached the door, and knocking gently and crying “Little door, open!” the door sprang open and he entered. There lay the 592bleeding body of his wicked neighbour, stretched on his sacks, but the vessels of gold and silver, and diamonds and pearls, sank deeper and deeper into the earth before his eyes, till all had completely vanished.[158]

The resemblance which this North German tale bears to the first part of “Ali Baba” is striking, and is certainly not merely fortuitous; the fundamental outline of the latter is readily recognisable in the legend of the Dummburg, notwithstanding differences in the details. In both the hero is a poor woodcutter, or faggot-maker; for the band of robbers a monk is substituted in the German legend, and for the “open, sesame” and “shut, sesame,” we have “little door, shut,” and “little door, open.” In both the borrowing of a corn-measure is the cause of the secret being revealed—in the one case, to Kasim, the greedy brother of Ali Baba, and in the other, to a miserly old hunks; the fate of the latter and the disappearance of all the treasure are essentially German touches. The subsequent incidents of the tale of Ali Baba, in which the main interest of the narrative is concentrated;—Ali Baba’s carrying off the four quarters of his brother’s body and having them sewed together; the artifices by which the slave-girl checkmates the robber-chief and his followers in their attempts to discover the man who had learned the secret of the treasure-cave—her marking all the doors in the street and her pouring boiling oil on the robbers concealed in the oil-skins in the courtyard;—these incidents seem to have been adapted, or imitated, from some version of the world-wide story of the Robbery of the Royal Treasury, as told by Herodotus, of Rhampsinitus, King of Egypt, in which the hero performs a series of similar exploits to recover the headless body of his brother and at the same time escape detection. Moreover, the conclusion of the tale of Ali Baba, where we are told he lived in comfort and happiness on the wealth concealed in the robbers’ cave, and “in after days he showed the hoard to his sons and his sons’ sons, and taught them how the door could be caused to open and shut”—this is near akin to the beginning of Herodotus’ legend of the royal treasury: the architect who built it left a stone loose, yet so nicely adjusted that it could not be discovered by any one not in the secret, by removing which he gained access to the royal stores of gold, and having taken what he wanted replaced the stone as before; on his deathbed he revealed the secret to his two sons as a legacy for their future maintenance. The discovery of Ali Baba’s being possessed of much money from some coins adhering to the bottom of the corn-measure is an incident of very frequent occurrence in popular fictions; for instance, in the Icelandic 593story of the Magic Quern that ground out gold or whatever its possessor desired (Powell and Magnússon’s collection, second series); in the Indian tale of the Six Brothers (Vernieux’s collection) and its Irish analogue, “Little Fairly”; in the modern Greek popular tale of the Man with Three Grapes (Le Grand’s French collection), and a host of other tales, both Western and Eastern. The fate of Ali Baba’s rich and avaricious brother, envious of his good luck, finds also many parallels—mutatis mutandis—as in the story of the Magic Quern, already referred to, and the Mongolian tale of the poor man and the Dakinis, the 14th Relation of Siddhí Kúr. Morgiana’s counter-device of marking all the doors in the street, so that her master’s house should not be recognised, often occurs, in different forms: in my work on Popular Tales and Fictions, vol. ii. pp. 164, 165, a number of examples are cited. The pretended merchant’s objecting to eat meat cooked with salt, which fortunately aroused Morgiana’s suspicions of his real character—for robber and murderer as he was, he would not be “false to his salt”[159]—recalls an anecdote related by D’Herbelot, which may find a place here, in conclusion: The famous robber Yacúb bin Layth, afterwards the founder of a dynasty of Persian monarchs called Soffarides, in one of his expeditions broke into the royal palace and having collected a large quantity of plunder, was on the point of carrying it off when his foot struck against something which made him stumble. Supposing it not to be an article of value, he put it to his mouth, the better to distinguish it. From the taste he found it was a lump of salt, the symbol and pledge of hospitality, on which he was so touched that he retired immediately without carrying away any part of his booty. The next morning the greatest astonishment was caused throughout the palace on the discovery of the valuables packed up and ready for removal. Yacúb was arrested and brought before the prince, to whom he gave a faithful account of the whole affair, and by this means so ingratiated himself with his sovereign that he employed him as a man of courage and ability in many arduous enterprises, in which he was so successful as to be raised to the command of the royal troops, whose confidence in and affection for their general induced them on the prince’s death to prefer his interest to that of the heir to the throne, from whence he afterwards spread his extensive conquests.

Since the foregoing was in type I discovered that I had overlooked another German version, in Grimm, which preserves some features of the Arabian tale omitted in the legend of The Dummburg:

There were two brothers, one rich, the other poor. The poor brother, one day wheeling a barrow through the forest, had just come to a naked-looking mountain, when he saw twelve great wild men approaching, and he hid himself 594in a tree, believing them to be robbers. “Semsi mountain, Semsi mountain, open!” they cried, and the mountain opened, and they went in. Presently they came out, carrying heavy sacks. “Semsi mountain, Semsi mountain, shut thyself!” they cried; the mountain closed and they went away. The poor man went up then and cried, “Semsi mountain, Semsi mountain, open!” the mountain opens, he goes in, finds a cavern full of gold, silver, and jewels, fills his pockets with gold only, and coming out cries, “Semsi mountain, Semsi mountain, shut thyself!” He returns home and lives happily till his gold is exhausted. Then “he went to his brother to borrow a measure that held a bushel, and brought himself some more.” This he does again, and this time the rich brother smears the inside of the bushel with pitch, and when he gets it back finds a gold coin sticking to it, so he taxes his poor brother with having treasure and learns the secret. Off he drives, resolved to bring back, not gold, but jewels. He gets in by saying, “Semsi mountain, Semsi mountain, open!” He loads himself with precious stones, but has forgotten the word, and cries only “Simeli mountain, Simeli mountain, open!” The robbers return and charge him with having twice stolen from them. He vainly protests, “It was not I,” and they cut his head off.

Here the twelve wild men represent the forty robbers, and, as in Ali Baba, it is the hero’s brother who falls a victim to his own cupidity. In the Arabian tale the hero climbs up into a tree when he sees the robbers approach; in The Dummburg he hides himself behind a tree to watch the proceedings of the monk; and in Grimm’s version he hides in a tree. On this last-cited story W. Grimm has the following note: “It is remarkable that this story, which is told in the province of Münster, is told also in the Hartz, about The Dummburg, and closely resembles the Eastern story of ‘The Forty Thieves,’ where even the rock Sesam, which falls open at the words Semsi and Semeli, recalls the name of the mountain in the German saga. This name for a mountain is, according to a document in Pistorius (3, 642), very ancient in Germany. A mountain in Grabfeld is called Similes, and in a Swiss song a Simeliberg is again mentioned. This makes us think of the Swiss word ‘Sinel,’ for ‘sinbel,’ round. In Meier, No. 53, we find ‘Open, Simson.’ In Pröhle’s ‘Märchen für die Jugend,’ No. 30, where the story is amplified, it is Simsimseliger Mountain. There is also a Polish story which is very like it.” Dr. Grimm is mistaken in saying that in the Arabian tale the “rock Sesam” falls open at the words Semsi and Semeli: even in his own version, as the brother finds to his cost, the word Simeli does not open the rock. In Ali Baba the word is “Simsim” (Fr. Sesame), a species of grain, which the brother having forgot, he cries out “Barley.” The “Open, Simson” in Meier’s version and the “Semsi” in Grimm’s story are evidently corruptions of “Simsim,” or “Samsam,” and seem to show that the story did not become current in Germany through Galland’s work.

Dr. N. B. Dennys, in his “Folk-Lore of China, and its Affinities with that of the Aryan and Semitic Races,” p. 134, cites a legend of the cave Kwang-sio-foo in 595Kiang-si, which reflects part of the tale of Ali Baba: There was in the neighbourhood a poor herdsman named Chang, his sole surviving relative being a grandmother with whom he lived. One day, happening to pass near the cave, he overheard some one using the following words: “Shih mun kai, Kwai Ku hsen shêng lai,” Stone door, open; Mr. Kwai Ku is coming. Upon this the door of the cave opened and the speaker entered. Having remained there for some time he came out, and saying, “Stone door, close; Mr. Kwai Ku is going,” the door again closed and the visitor departed. Chang’s curiosity was naturally excited, and having several times heard the formula repeated, he waited one day until the genie (for such he was) had taken his departure and essayed to obtain an entrance. To his great delight the door yielded, and having gone inside he found himself in a romantic grotto of immense extent. Nothing however in the shape of treasure met his eye, so having fully explored the place he returned to the door, which shut at his bidding, and went home. Upon telling his grandmother of his adventure she expressed a strong wish to see the wonderful cavern; and thither they accordingly went together the next day. Wandering about in admiration of the scenery, they became separated, and Chang at length, supposing that his grandmother had left, passed out of the door and ordered it to shut. Reaching home, he found to his dismay that she had not yet arrived. She must of course have been locked up in the cave, so back he sped and before long was using the magic sentence to obtain access. But alas! the talisman had failed, and poor Chang fell into an agony of apprehension as he reflected that his grandmother would either be starved to death or killed by the enraged genie. While in this perplexity the genie appeared and asked him what was amiss. Chang frankly told him the truth and implored him to open the door. This the genie refused to do, but told him that his grandmother’s disappearance was a matter of fate. The cave demanded a victim. Had it been a male, every succeeding generation of his family would have seen one of its members arrive at princely rank. In the case of a woman her descendants would in a similar way possess power over demons. Somewhat comforted to know that he was not exactly responsible for his grandmother’s death, Chang returned home and in process of time married. His first son duly became Chang tien shih (Chang, the Master of Heaven), who about A.D. 25 was the first holder of an office which has existed uninterruptedly to the present day.



Precocious Children.—See note at end of the Tale, p. 416.—In the (apocryphal) Arabic Gospel of the Saviour’s Infancy is the following passage:

“Now in the month of Adar, Jesus, after the manner of a King, assembled the boys together. They spread their clothes on the ground and he sat down upon them. Then they put on his head a crown made of flowers, and like chamber-servants stood in his presence, on the right and on the left, as if he was a king. And whoever passed by that way was forcibly dragged by the boys, saying, ‘Come hither and adore the king; then go away.’”

A striking parallel to this is found in the beginning of the Mongolian Tales of Ardshi Bordshi—i.e., the celebrated Indian monarch, Rájá Bhoja, as given in Miss Busk’s “Sagas from the Far East,” p. 252.

“Long ages ago there lived a mighty king called Ardshi Bordshi.[160] In the neighbourhood of his residence was a hill where the boys who were tending the calves were wont to pass the time by running up and down. But they had also another custom, and it was that whichever of them won the race was king for the day—an ordinary game enough, only that when it was played in this place the Boy-King thus constituted was at once endowed with such extraordinary importance and majesty that everyone was constrained to treat him as a real king. He had not only ministers and dignitaries among his playfellows, who prostrated themselves before him, and fulfilled all his behests, but whoever passed that way could not choose but pay him homage also.”[161]

597This is followed by an analogous story to that of Alí Khwajah and the Merchant of Baghdad, under the title of “The False Friend,” in which a merchant on a trading journey entrusts a friend with a valuable jewel to give to his wife on his return home, and the friend retaining it for his own use suborns two men to bear witness that they saw him deliver it to the merchant’s wife, so the King dismisses the suit. But the Boy-King undertakes to try the case de novo; causes the two witnesses to be confined in separate places, each with a piece of clay which he is required to make into the form of the jewel, and the models are found to be different one from the other, and both from the shape of the jewel as described by the false friend. A similar story occurs in several Indian collections, with a Kází instead of the Boy-King.

A curious instance of precocity is related in the Third Book of the “Masnaví” (see ante, p. 556), of which Mr. E. H. Whinfield gives an outline in his admirable and most useful abridgment of that work: The boys wished to obtain a holiday, and the sharpest of them suggested that when the master came into school each boy should condole with him on his alleged sickly appearance. Accordingly, when he entered, one said, “O master, how pale you are looking!” and another said, “You are looking very ill to-day,” and so on. The master at first answered that there was nothing the matter with him, but as one boy after another continued assuring him that he looked very ill, he was at length deluded into imagining that he must really be ill. So he returned to his house, making the boys follow him here, and told his wife that he was not well, bidding her mark how pale he was. His wife assured him he was not looking pale, and offered to convince him by bringing a mirror; but he refused to look at it, and took to his bed. He then ordered the boys to begin their lessons; but they assured him that the noise made his head ache, and he believed them, and dismissed them to their homes, to the annoyance of their mothers.

Another example of juvenile cleverness is found in a Persian collection of anecdotes entitled “Latá’yif At-Taw’áyif”, by ’Alí ibn Husain Al-Va’iz Al-Káshifí: One day Núrshírván saw in a dream that he was drinking with a frog out of the same cup. When he awoke he told this dream to his vazír, but he knew not the interpretation of it. The king grew angry and said, “How long have I maintained thee, that if any difficulty should arise thou mightest unloose the knot of it, and if any matter weighed on my heart thou shouldst lighten it? Now I give thee three days, that thou mayest find out the meaning of this dream, 598and remove the trouble of my mind; and if, within that space, thou art not successful, I will kill thee.” The vazír went from the presence of Núrshírván confounded and much in trouble. He gathered together all the sages and interpreters of dreams, and told the matter to them, but they were unable to explain it; and the vazír resigned his soul to death. But this story was told in the city, and on the third day he heard that there was a mountain, ten farsangs distant from the city, in which was a cave, and in this cave a sage who had chosen the path of seclusion, and lived apart from mankind, and had turned his face to the wall. The vazír set out for his place of retirement, saying to himself, “Perhaps he will be able to lay a plaster on my wound, and relieve it from the throbbings of care.” So he mounted his horse, and went to find the sage. At the moment he arrived at the hill a company of boys were playing together. One of them cried out with a loud voice, “The vazír is running everywhere in search of an interpreter, and all avails him nothing; now the interpretation of the dream is with me, and the truth of it is clear to me.” When these words reached the ears of the vazír he drew in the reins, and calling the boy to him asked him, “What is thy name?” He replied, “Buzurjmihr.” The vazír said, “All the sages and interpreters have failed in loosing the knot of this difficulty—how dost thou, so young in years, pretend to be able to do it.” He replied, “All the world is not given to every one.” The vazír said, “If thou speakest truth, explain.” Said the boy, “Take me to the monarch, that I may there unloose the knot of this difficulty.” The vazír said, “If thou shouldst fail, what then will come of it?” The boy replied, “I will give up my own blood to the king, that they may slay me instead of thee.” The vazír took the boy with him, returned, and told the whole matter to the king and produced the boy in his presence. The king was very angry, and said, “All the wise men and dream-interpreters of the court were unable to satisfy me, and thou bringest me a child, and expectest that he shall loose the knot of the difficulty.” The vazír bowed his head. And Buzurjmihr said, “Look not upon his youth, but see whether he is able to expound the mystery or not.” The king then said, “Speak.” He replied, “I cannot speak in this multitude.” So those who were present retired, and the monarch and the youth were left alone. Then said the youth, “A stranger has found entrance into thy seraglio, and is dishonouring thee, along with a girl who is one of thy concubines.” The king was much moved at this interpretation, and looked from one of the wise men to another, and at length said to the boy, “This is a serious matter thou hast asserted; how shall this matter be proceeded in, and in what way fully known?” The boy replied, “Command that every beautiful woman in thy seraglio pass before thee unveiled, that the truth of this matter may be made apparent.” The king ordered them to pass before him as the boy had said, and considered the face of each one attentively. Among them came a young girl extremely beautiful, whom the king much regarded. When she came opposite to him, a shuddering as of palsy, fell upon her, and she shook from head to foot, so that she was hardly able to stand. The king called her to him, and threatening her greatly, 599bade her speak the truth. She confessed that she loved a handsome slave and had privately introduced him into the seraglio. The king ordered them both to be impaled, and turning to the rewarding of Buzurjmihr, he made him the object of his special bounty.

This story has been imported into the “History of the Seven Wise Masters of Rome,” the European form of the Book of Sindibád, where the prince discovers to his father the paramour of his stepmother, the empress, in the person of a young man disguised as one of her maid-servants, and its presence in the work is quite inconsistent with the lady’s violent lust after the young prince. There is a similar tale in the Hebrew version, “Mishlé Sandabar,” but the disguised youth is not detected. Vatsyayana, in his “Káma Sutra” (or Aphorisms of Love), speaks of it as a common practice in India thus to smuggle men into the women’s apartments in female attire. In the Introduction to the “Kathá Sarit Ságara,” Vararuchi relates how King Yogananda saw his queen leaning out of a window and asking questions of a Bráhman guest that was looking up. That trivial circumstance threw the king into a passion, and he gave orders that the Bráhman should be put to death; for jealousy interferes with discernment. Then as that Bráhman was being led off to the place of execution in order that he should be put to death, a fish in the market laughed aloud, though it was dead. The king hearing it immediately prohibited for the present the execution of the Bráhman, and asked Vararuchi the reason why the fish laughed. He desired time to think over the matter and learned from the conversation of a rákshasí with her children that the fish said to himself, “All the king’s wives are dissolute, for in every part of his harem there are men dressed up as women, and nevertheless while those escape, an innocent Bráhman is to be put to death”; and this tickled the fish so that he laughed. Mr. Tawney says that Dr. Liebrecht, in “Orient und Occident,” vol. i. p. 341, compares this story with one in the old French romance of Merlin. There Merlin laughs because the wife of Julius Cæsar had twelve young men disguised as ladies-in-waiting. Benfey, in a note on Liebrecht’s article, compares with the story of Merlin one by the Countess d’Aulnois, No. 36 of Basile’s “Pentamerone,” Straparola, iv. 1, and a story in the “Suka Saptatí.” In this some cooked fish laugh so that the whole town hears them; the reason being the same as in the above story and in that of Merlin. In a Kashmírí version, which has several other incidents and bears a close resemblance to No. 4 of M. Legrand’s “Recueil de Contes Populaires Grecs,” to the story of “The Clever Girl” in Professor T. F. Crane’s “Italian Popular Tales,” and to a fable in the Talmud, the king requires his vazír to inform him within six months why the fish laughed in presence of the queen. The vazír sends his son abroad until the king’s anger had somewhat cooled—for himself he expects nothing but death. The vazír’s son learns from the clever daughter of a farmer that the laughing of the fish indicates that there is a man in the palace unknown to the king. He hastens home and tells his father the secret, who at once communicates it to the king. All the female attendants in the palace are called together 600and ordered to jump across the mouth of a pit which he has caused to be dug: the man would betray his sex in the trial. Only one person succeeded and he was found to be a man.[162] Thus was the queen satisfied, and the faithful old vazír saved, and his son, of course, married the farmer’s clever daughter.


How, in the name of all that is wonderful—how has it happened that this ever-delightful tale is not found in any text of The Nights? And how could it be supposed for a moment that Galland was capable of conceiving such a tale—redolent, as it is, of the East and of Fairyland? Not that Fairyland where “True Thomas,” otherwise ycleped Thomas the Rymer, otherwise Thomas of Erceldoune, passed several years in the bewitching society of the Fairy Queen, years which appeared to him as only so many moments: but Eastern Fairyland, with all its enchanting scenes; where priceless gems are as plentiful as “autumnal leaves which strow the brooks in Vallombrosa”; where, in the royal banqueting-hall, illuminated with hundreds of wax candles, in candelabra of the finest amber and the purest crystal, are bands of charming damsels, fairest of form and feature, who play on sweet-toned instruments which discourse heart-ravishing strains of melody;—meanwhile the beauteous Perí Bánú is seated on a throne adorned with diamonds and rubies and emeralds, and pearls and other gems, and by her side is the thrice-happy Prince Ahmad, who feels himself amply indemnified for the loss of his fair cousin Princess Núr-en-Nihár. Auspicious was that day when he shot the arrow which the enamoured Perí Bánú caused to be wafted through the air much farther than arm of flesh could ever send the feathered messenger! And when the Prince feels a natural longing to visit his father in the land of mortals from time to time, behold the splendid cavalcade issue from the portals of the fairy palace—the gallant jinn-born cavaliers, mounted on superb steeds with gorgeous housings, who accompany him to his father’s capital! But alas! the brightest sky is sooner or later overcast—human felicity is—etc., etc. The old king’s mind is poisoned against his noble son by the whisperings of a malignant and envious minister—a snake in the grass—a fly in the ointment of Prince Ahmad’s beatitude! And to think of the old witch gaining access to the fairy palace—it was nothing less than an 601atrocity! And the tasks which she induces the king to set Prince Ahmad to perform—but they are all accomplished for him by his fairy bride. The only thing to regret—the fatal blemish in the tale—is the slaughter of the old king. Shabbar did right well to dash into the smallest pieces the wicked vazír and the foul witch and all who aided and abetted them, but “to kill a king!” and a well-meaning if soft-headed king, who was, like many better men, led astray by evil counsellors!

Having thus blown off the steam—I mean to say, having thus ventilated the enthusiasm engendered by again reading the tale of Prince Ahmad and the Perí Bánú, I am now in a fitter frame of mind for the business of examining some versions and variants of it; for though the tale has not yet been found in Arabic, it is known from the banks of Ganga to the snow-clad hills and vales of Iceland—that strange land whose heart is full of the fiercest fires. This tale, like that of Zayn al-Asnám, comprises two distinct stories, which have no necessary connection, to wit, (1) the adventures of the Three Princes, each in quest of the rarest treasure, wherewith to win the beautiful Princess Núr-en-Nihár; and (2) the subsequent history of the third Prince and the Perí Bánú. The oldest known form of the story concludes with the recovery of the lady—not from death’s door, but from a giant who had carried her off, and the rival claims of the heroes to the hand of the lady are left undecided: certainly a most unsatisfactory ending, though it must be confessed the case was, as the priest found that of Paddy and the stolen pullet, somewhat “abstruse.” In the “Vetálapanchavinsati,” or Twenty-five Tales of a Vampyre (concerning which collection see Appendix to the preceding volumes, p. 320), the fifth recital is to this purpose:

There was a Bráhman in Ajjayini (Oojein) whose name was Harisvamin; he had a son named Devasvamin and a daughter far famed for her wondrous beauty and rightly called Somaprabha (Moonlight). When the maiden had attained marriageable age, she declared to her parents that she was only to be married to a man who possessed heroism, or knowledge, or magic power. It happened soon after this that Harisvamin was sent by the king on state business to the Dekkan, and while there a young Brahman, who had heard the report of Somaprabha’s beauty, came to him as a suitor for the hand of his daughter. Harisvamin informed him of the qualifications which her husband must possess, and the Bráhman answered that he was endowed with magic power, and having shown this to the father’s satisfaction, he promised to give him his daughter on the seventh day from that time. In like manner, at home, the son and the wife of Harisvamin had, unknown to each other, promised Somaprabha to a young man who was skilled in the use of missile weapons and was very brave, and to a youth who possessed knowledge of the past, the present, and the future; and the marriage was also fixed to take place on the seventh day. When Harisvamin returned home he at once told his wife and son of the contract he had entered into with the young Bráhman, and they in their turn 602acquainted him of their separate engagements, and all were much perplexed what course to adopt in the circumstances.

On the seventh day the three suitors arrived, but Somaprabha was found to have disappeared in some inexplicable manner. The father then appealed to the man of knowledge, saying, “Tell me where my daughter is gone?” He replied, “She has been carried off by a rákshasa to his habitation in the Vindhya forest.” Then quoth the man of magic power, “Be of good cheer, for I will take you in a moment where the possessor of knowledge says she is.” And forthwith he prepared a magic chariot that could fly through the air, provided all sorts of weapons, and made Harisvamin, the man of knowledge, and the brave man enter it along with himself, and in a moment carried them to the dwelling of the rákshasa. Then followed a wonderful fight between the brave man and the rákshasa, and in a short time the hero cut off his head, after which they took Somaprabha into the chariot and quickly returned to Harisvamin’s house. And now arose a great dispute between the three suitors. Said the man of knowledge, “If I had not known where the maiden was, how could she have been discovered?” The man of magic argued, “If I had not made this chariot that can fly through the air, how could you all have come and returned in a moment?” Then the brave man said, “If I had not slain the rákshasa, how could the maiden have been rescued?” While they were thus wrangling Harisvamin remained silent, perplexed in mind. The Vampyre, having told this story to the King, demanded to know to whom the maiden should have been given. The King replied, “She ought to have been given to the brave man; for he won her by the might of his arm and at the risk of his life, slaying that rakshasa in combat.” But the man of knowledge and the man of magic power were appointed by the Creator to serve as his instruments. The perplexed Harisvamin would have been glad, no doubt, could he have had such a logical solution of the question as this of the sagacious King Trivikramasena—such was his six-syllabled name.

The Hindí version (“Baytâl Pachísí”) corresponds with the Sanskrit, but in the Tamil version the father, after hearing from each of the three suitors an account of his accomplishments, promises to give his daughter to “one of them.” Meanwhile a giant comes and carries off the damsel. There is no difference in the rest of the story.

In the Persian Parrot-Book (“Tútí Náma”) where the tale is also found[163]—it is the 34th recital of the loquacious bird in the India Office MS. No. 2573, the 6th in B. Gerrans’ partial translation, 1792, and the 22nd in Káderi’s 603abridgment—the first suitor says that his art is to discover anything lost and to predict future events; the second can make a horse of wood which would fly through the air; and the third was an unerring archer.

In the Persian “Sindibád Náma,” a princess, while amusing herself in a garden with her maidens, is carried away by a demon to his cave in the mountains. The king proclaims that he will give his daughter in marriage to whoever should bring her back. Four brothers offer themselves for the undertaking: one is a guide who has travelled over the world; the second is a daring robber, who would take the prey even from the lion’s mouth; the third is a brave warrior; and the fourth is a skilful physician. The guide leads the three others to the demon’s cave; the robber steals the damsel while the demon is absent; the physician, finding her at death’s door, restores her to perfect health; while the warrior puts to flight a host of demons who sallied out of the cave.

The Sanskrit story has undergone a curious transformation among the Kalmuks. In the 9th Relation of Siddhí Kúr (a Mongolian version of the Vampyre Tales) six youths are companions: an astrologer, a smith, a doctor, a mechanic, a painter, and a rich man’s son. At the mouth of a great river each plants a tree of life and separates, taking different roads, having agreed to meet again at the same spot, when if the tree of any of them is found to be withered it will be a token that he is dead. The rich man’s son marries a beautiful girl, who is taken from him by the Khan, and the youth is at the same time put to death by the Khan’s soldiers and buried under a great rock. When the five other young men meet at the time and place appointed they find the tree of the rich youth withered. Thereupon the astrologer by his art discovers where the youth is buried; the smith breaks the rock asunder; the physician restores the youth to life, and he tells them how the Khan had robbed him of his wife and killed him. The mechanic then constructs a flying chariot in the form of Garuda—the bird of Vishnu; the counterpart of the Arabian rukh—which the painter decorates, and when it is finished the rich youth enters it and is swiftly borne through the air to the roof of the Khan’s dwelling, where he alights. The Khan, supposing the machine to be a real Garuda, sends the rich youth’s own wife to the roof with some food for it. Could anything have been more fortunate? The youth takes her into the wooden Garuda and they quickly arrive at the place where his companions waited for his return. When they beheld the marvellous beauty of the lady the five skilful men instantly fell in love with her, and began to quarrel among themselves, each claiming the lady as his by right, and drawing their knives they fought and slew one another. So the rich youth was left in undisputed possession of his beautiful bride.

Coming back to Europe we find the primitive form of the story partly preserved in a Greek popular version given in Hahn’s collection: Three 604young men are in love with the same girl, and agree to go away and meet again at a given time, when he who shall have learned the best craft shall marry the girl. They meet after three years’ absence. One has become a famous astronomer; the second is so skilful a physician that he can raise the dead; and the third can run faster than the wind. The astronomer looks at the girl’s star and knows from its trembling that she is on the point of death. The physician prepares a medicine, which the third runs off with at the top of his speed, and pours it down the girl’s throat just in time to save her life—though, for the matter of that, she might as well have died, since the second suitor was able to resuscitate the dead!

But the German tale of the Four Clever Brothers, divested of the preliminary incidents which have been brought into it from different folk-tales, more nearly approaches the form of the original, as we may term the Sanskrit story for convenience’ sake: A poor man sends his four sons into the world, each to learn some craft by which he might gain his own livelihood. After travelling together for some time they came to a place where four roads branched off and there they separated, each going along one of the roads, having agreed to meet at the same spot that day four years. One learns to be an excellent astronomer and, on quitting, his master gives him a telescope,[164] saying, “With 605this thou canst see whatever takes place either on earth or in heaven, and nothing can remain concealed from thee.” Another becomes a most expert thief. The third learns to be a sharpshooter and gets from his master a gun which would never fail him: whatever he aimed at he was sure to hit. And the youngest becomes a very clever tailor and is presented by his master with a needle, which could sew anything together, hard or soft. At the end of the four years they met according to agreement, and returning together to their father’s house, they satisfied the old man with a display of their abilities. Soon after this the king’s daughter was carried off by a dragon, and the king proclaimed that whoever brought her back should have her to wife. This the four clever brothers thought was a fine chance for them, and they resolved to liberate the king’s daughter. The astronomer looked through his telescope and saw the princess far away on a rock in the sea and the dragon watching beside her. Then they went and got a ship from the king, and sailed over the sea till they came to the rock, where the princess was sitting and the dragon was asleep with his head in her lap. The hunter feared to shoot lest he should kill the princess. Then the thief crept up the rock and stole her from under the dragon so cleverly that the monster did not awake. Full of joy, they hurried off with her and sailed away. But presently the dragon awoke and missing the princess flew after them through the air. Just as he was hovering above the ship to swoop down upon it, the hunter shot him through the heart and he tumbled down dead, but falling on the vessel his carcass smashed it into pieces. They 606laid hold of two planks and drifted about till the tailor with his wonderful needle sewed the planks together, and then they collected the fragments of the ship which the tailor also sewed together so skilfully that their ship was again seaworthy, and they soon got home in safety. The king was right glad to see his daughter and told the four brothers they must settle among themselves which of them should have her to wife. Upon this they began to wrangle with one another. The astronomer said, “If I had not seen the princess, all your arts would have been useless, so she is mine.” The thief claimed her, because he had rescued her from the dragon; the hunter, because he had shot the monster; and the tailor, because he had sewn the ship together and saved them all from drowning. Then the king decreed: “Each of you has an equal right, and as all of you cannot have her, none of you shall; but I will give to each as a reward half a kingdom,” with which the four clever brothers were well contented.

The story has assumed a droll form among the Albanians, in which no fewer than seven remarkably endowed youths play their parts in rescuing a king’s daughter from the Devil, who had stolen her out of the palace. One of the heroes could hear far off; the second could make the earth open; the third could steal from any one without his knowing it; the fourth could throw an object to the end of the world; the fifth could erect an impregnable tower; the sixth could bring down anything however high it might be in the air; and the seventh could catch whatever fell from any height. So they set off together, and after travelling a long way, the first lays his ear to the ground. “I hear him,” he says. Then the second causes the earth to open, and down they go, and find the Devil sound asleep, snoring like thunder, with the princess clasped to his breast. The third youth steals her without waking the fiend. Then the fourth takes off the Devil’s shoes and flings them to the end of the world, and off they all go with the princess. The Devil wakes and goes after them, but first he must find his shoes—though what need he could have for shoes it is not easy to say; but mayhap the Devil of the Albanians is minus horns, hoof, and tail! This gives the fifth hero time to erect his impregnable tower before the fiend returns from the end of the world. When he comes to the tower he finds all his skill is naught, so he has recourse to artifice, which indeed has always been his forte. He begs piteously to be allowed one last look of his beloved princess. They can’t refuse him so slight a favour, and make a tiny hole in the tower wall, but, tiny as it is, the Devil is able to pull the princess through it and instantly mounts on high with her. Now is the marksman’s opportunity: he shoots at the fiend and down he comes, “like a hundred of bricks” (as we don’t say in the classics), at the same time letting go the princess, who is cleverly caught by the seventh hero, and is none the worse for her aerial journey. The princess chooses the seventh for her husband, as he is the youngest and best looking, but her father the king rewards his companions handsomely and all are satisfied.

607The charming history of Prince Ahmad and his fairy bride is “conspicuous from its absence” in all these versions, but it reappears in the Italian collection of Nerucci: “Novelle Popolari Montalesi,” No. xl., p. 335, with some variations from Galland’s story:

A certain king had three daughters, and a neighbouring king had three sons, who were much devoted to the chase. They arrived at the city of the first king, and all fell in love with his daughter[165] and wanted to marry her. Her father said it was impossible to content them all, but if one of them would ask her, and if he pleased her, he would not oppose the marriage. They could not agree which it was to be, and her father proposed that they should all travel, and the one who at the end of six months brought the most beautiful and wonderful present should marry her. They set out in different directions and at the end of six months they meet by appointment at a certain inn. The eldest brings a magic carpet on which he is wafted whithersoever he will. (It goes a hundred miles in a day.) The second brings a telescope which shows whatever is happening a hundred miles away. The youngest brings three stones of a grape, one of which put into the mouth of a person who is dying restores him to life. They at once test the telescope by wishing to see the princess, and they find her dying—at the last gasp indeed. By means of the carpet they reach the palace in time to save her life with one of the grape-stones. Each claims the victory. Her father, almost at his wits’ end to decide the question, decrees that they shall shoot with the crossbow, and he who shoots farthest shall win the princess. The second brother shoots farther than the first; but the youngest shoots so far that they cannot find where his arrow has fallen. He persists in the search and falls down a deep hole, from the bottom of which he can scarcely see a speck of the sky. There an ogre (mago) appears to him and also a bevy of young fairy maidens of extreme beauty. They lead him to a marvellous palace, give him refreshments and provide him with a room and a bed, where every night one of the fairies bears him company. He spends his days in pleasure until the king’s daughter is almost forgotten. At last he begins to think he ought to learn what has become of his brothers, his father, and the lady. The chief fairy however, tries to dissuade him, warning him that evil will befall him if he return to his brothers. He persists, and she tells him that the princess is given to his eldest brother, who reigns in his father-in-law’s stead, the latter having died, and that his own father is also dead; and she warns him again not to go. But he goes. His eldest brother says that he thought he was dead “in that hole.” The hero replies that, on the contrary, he fares so well with a bevy of young and beautiful fairies that he does not even envy him, and would not change places with him for all the treasures in the world. His brother, devoured by rage, demands that the hero bring him within eight days a pavilion of silk which will lodge three hundred soldiers, otherwise he will destroy his palace of delights. The hero, 608affrighted, returns to the fairies and relates his brother’s threats. The chief fairy says, “Didn’t I tell you so? You deserve that I should leave you to your fate; but, out of pity for your youth, I will help you.” And he returns to his brother within eight days with the required pavilion. But his brother is not satisfied: he demands another silk pavilion for 600 soldiers, else he will lay waste the abode of the fairies. This pavilion he also receives from the fairies, and it was much finer and richer than the first. His brother’s demands rise when he sees that the hero does not find any difficulty in satisfying him. He now commands that a column of iron 12 cubits (braccia) high be erected in the midst of a piazza. The chief of the fairies also complies with this requirement. The column is ready in a moment, and as the hero cannot carry it himself, she gives it to the guardian ogre, who carries it upon his shoulders, and presents himself, along with the hero, before the eldest brother. As soon as the latter comes to see the column set in the piazza the ogre knocks him down and reduces him to pulp (cofaccino, lit., a cake), and the hero marries his brother’s widow and becomes king in his stead.

Almost suspiciously like the story in Galland in many of the details is an Icelandic version in Powell and Magnússon’s collection, yet I cannot conceive how the peasantry of that country could have got it out of “Les Mille et une Nuits.” There are two ways by which the story might have reached them independently of Galland’s work: the Arabs and Persians traded extensively in former times with Scandinavia, through Russia, and this as well as other Norse tales of undoubtedly Eastern extraction may have been communicated by the same channel[166]; or the Norsemen may have taken it back with them from the South of Europe. But however this may be, the Icelandic version is so quaint in its diction, has such a fresh aroma about it, and such novel particulars, that I feel justified in giving it here in full:

It is said that once, in the days of old, there was a good and wealthy king who ruled over a great and powerful realm; but neither his name nor that of his kingdom is given, nor the latter’s whereabouts in the world. He had a queen, and by her three sons, who were all fine youths and hopeful, and the king loved them well. The king had taken, too, a king’s daughter from a neighbouring kingdom, to foster her, and she was brought up with his sons. She was of the same age as they, and the most beautiful and accomplished lady that had ever been seen in those days, and the king loved her in no way less than his own sons. When the princess was of age, all the king’s sons fell in 609love with her, and things even went so far that they all of them engaged her at once, each in his own name. Their father, being the princess’s foster-father, had the right of bestowing her in marriage, as her own father was dead. But as he was fond of all his sons equally the answer he gave them was, that he left it to the lady’s own choice to take for a husband whichever of the brothers she loved the most. On a certain day he had the princess called up to him and declared his will to her, telling her that she might choose for a husband whichever she liked best of his sons. The princess answered, “Bound I am in duty to obey your words. But as to this choice of one of your sons to be my husband I am in the greatest perplexity; for I must confess they are all equally dear to me, and I cannot choose one before the other.” When the king heard this answer of the princess he found himself in a new embarrassment, and thought a long while what he could do that should be equally agreeable to all parties, and at last hit upon the following decision of the matter: that all his sons should after a year’s travel return each with a precious thing, and that he who had the finest thing should be the princess’s husband. This decision the king’s sons found to be a just one and they agreed to meet after one year at a certain castle in the country, whence they should go all together, to the town, in order to lay their gifts before the princess. And now their departure from the country was arranged as well as could be.

First the tale tells of the eldest, that he went from one land to another, and from one city to another, in search of a precious thing, but found nowhere anything that at all suited his ideas. At last the news came to his ears that there was a princess who had so fine a spy-glass that nothing so marvellous had ever been seen or heard of before. In it one could see all over the world, every place, every city, every man, and every living being that moved on the face of the earth, and what every living thing in the world was doing. Now the prince thought that surely there could be no more precious thing at all likely to turn up for him than this telescope; he therefore went to the princess, in order to buy the spy-glass if possible. But by no means could he prevail upon the king’s daughter to part with her spy-glass, till he had told her his whole story and why he wanted it, and used all his powers of entreaty. As might be expected, he paid for it well. Having got it he returned home, glad at his luck, and hoping to wed the king’s daughter.

The story next turns to the second son. He had to struggle with the same difficulties as his elder brother. He travelled for a long while over the wide world without finding anything at all suitable, and thus for a time he saw no chance of his wishes being fulfilled. Once he came into a very well-peopled city; and went about in search of precious things among the merchants, but neither did he find nor even see what he wanted. He heard that there lived a short way from the town a dwarf, the cleverest maker of curious and cunning things. He therefore resolved to go to the dwarf in order to try whether he could be persuaded to make him any costly thing. The dwarf said that he had ceased to make things of that sort now and he must beg to be excused from 610making anything of the kind for the prince. But he said that he had a piece of cloth, made in his younger days, with which, however, he was very unwilling to part. The king’s son asked the nature and use of the cloth. The dwarf answered, “On this cloth one can go all over the world, as well through the air as on the water. Runes are on it, which must be understood by him who uses it.” Now the prince saw that a more precious thing than this could scarcely be found, and therefore asked the dwarf by all means to let him have the cloth. And although the dwarf would not at first part with his cloth at all, yet at last, hearing what would happen if the king’s son did not get it, he sold it to him at a mighty high price. The prince was truly glad to have got the cloth, for it was not only a cloth of great value, but also the greatest of treasures in other respects, having gold-seams and jewel-embroidery. After this he returned home, hoping to get the best of his brothers in the contest for the damsel.

The youngest prince left home last of all the three brethren.[167] First he travelled from one village to another in his own country, and went about asking for precious things of every merchant he met on his way, as also on all sides where there was the slightest hope of his getting what he wanted. But all his endeavours were in vain, and the greater part of the year was spent in fruitless search till at last he waxed sad in mind at his lot. At this time he came into a well-peopled city, whereto people were gathered from all parts of the world. He went from one merchant to another till at last he came to one who sold apples.[168] This merchant said he had an apple that was of so strange a nature that if it was put into the arm-hole of a dying man he would at once return to life. He declared that it was the property of his family and had always been used in the family as a medicine. As soon as the king’s son heard this he would by all means have the apple, deeming that he would never be able to find a thing more acceptable to the king’s daughter than this. He therefore asked the merchant to sell him the apple and told him all the story of his search, and that his earthly welfare was based upon his being in no way inferior to his brethren in his choice of precious things for the princess. The merchant felt pity for the prince when he had told him his story, so much so that he sold him the apple, and the prince returned home, glad and comforted at his happy luck.

Now nothing more is related of the three brothers till they met together at the place before appointed. When they were all together each related the striking points in his travelling. All being here, the eldest brother thought that he would be the first to see the princess and find out how she was; and therefore he took forth his spy-glass and turned it towards the city. But what saw he? The beloved princess lying in her bed, in the very jaws of death! 611The king, his father, and all the highest nobles of the court were standing round the bed in the blackness of sorrow, sad in their minds, and ready to receive the last sigh of the fair princess. When the prince saw this lamentable sight he was grieved beyond measure. He told his brothers what he had seen and they were no less struck with sorrow than himself. They began bewailing loudly, saying that they would give all they had never to have undertaken this journey, for then at least they would have been able to perform the last offices for the fair princess. But in the midst of these bewailings the second brother bethought him of his cloth, and remembered that he could get to the town on it in a moment. He told this to his brothers and they were glad at such good and unexpected news. Now the cloth was unfolded and they all stepped on to it, and in one moment it was high in the air and in the next inside the town. When they were there they made all haste to reach the room of the princess, where everybody wore an air of deep sadness. They were told that the princess’s every breath was her last. Then the youngest brother remembered his wonderful apple, and thought that it would never be more wanted to show its healing power than now. He therefore went straight into the bed-room of the princess and placed the apple under her right arm. And at the same moment it was as if a new breath of life flushed through the whole body of the princess; her eyes opened, and after a little while she began to speak to the folk around her. This and the return of the king’s sons caused great joy at the court of the king.

Now some time went by until the princess was fully recovered. Then a large meeting was called together, at which the brothers were bidden to show their treasures. First the eldest made his appearance, and showing his spy-glass told what a wonderful thing it was, and also how it was due to this glass that the life of the fair princess had ever been saved, as he had seen through it how matters stood in the town. He therefore did not doubt for a moment that his gift was the one which would secure him the fair princess.

Next stepped forward the second brother with the cloth. Having described its powers, he said, “I am of opinion that my brother’s having seen the princess first would have proved of little avail had I not had the cloth, for thereupon we came so quickly to the place to save the princess: and I must declare that to my mind, the cloth is the chief cause of the king’s daughter’s recovery.”

Next stepped forward the youngest prince and said, as he laid the apple before the people, “Little would the glass and the cloth have availed to save the princess’s life had I not had the apple. What could we brothers have profited in being only witnesses of the beloved damsel’s death? What would this have done, but awaken our grief and regret? It is due alone to the apple that the princess is yet alive; wherefore I find myself the most deserving of her.”

Then a long discussion arose in the meeting, and the decision at last came out, that all the three things had worked equally towards the princess’s recovery, as might be seen from the fact that if one had been wanting the others would 612have been worthless. It was therefore declared that, as all gifts had equal claim to the prize, no one could decide to whom the princess should belong.

After this the king planned another contrivance in order to come to some end of the matter. He soon should try their skill in shooting, and he who proved to be the ablest shooter of them should have the princess. So a mark was raised and the eldest brother stepped forward with his bow and quiver. He shot, and no great distance from the mark fell his arrow. After that stepped forward the second brother, and his arrow well-nigh reached the mark. Last of all stepped forward the third and youngest brother, and his arrow seemed to go farther than the others, but in spite of continued search for many days it could not be found. The king decided in this matter that his second son should marry the princess. They were married accordingly, and as the king, the father of the princess, was dead, his daughter now succeeded him, and her husband became king over his wife’s inheritance. They are now out this tale, as is also the eldest brother, who settled in life abroad.

The youngest brother stayed at home with his father, highly displeased at the decision the latter had given concerning the marriage of the princess. He was wont to wander about every day where he fancied his arrow had fallen, and at last he found it fixed in an oak in the forest, and saw that it had by far outstripped the mark. He now called together witnesses to the place where the arrow was, with the intention of bringing about some justice in his case. But of this there was no chance, for the king said he could by no means alter his decision. At this the king’s son was so grieved that he went well-nigh out of his wits. One day he busked for a journey, with the full intention of never again setting foot in his country. He took with him all he possessed of fine and precious things, nobody knowing his rede, not even his father, the king.

He went into a great forest and wandered about there many days, without knowing whither he was going, and at last, yielding to hunger and weariness, he found himself no longer equal to travelling; so he sat down under a tree, thinking that his sad and sorrowful life would here come to a close. But after he had sat thus awhile he saw ten people, all in fine attire and bright armour, come riding towards the stone. On arriving there they dismounted, and having greeted the king’s son begged him to go with them, and mount the spare horse they had with them, saddled and bridled in royal fashion. He accepted this offer and mounted the horse, and after this they rode on their way till they came to a large city. The riders dismounted and led the prince into the town, which was governed by a young and beautiful maiden-queen. The riders led the king’s son at once to the virgin-queen, who received him with great kindness. She told him that she had heard of all the ill-luck that had befallen him and also that he had fled from his father. “Then,” quoth she, “a burning love for you was kindled in my breast and a longing to heal your wounds. You must know that it was I who sent the ten riders to find you out and bring you hither. I give you the chance of staying here; I offer you the rule of my whole kingdom, and I will try to sweeten your embittered life;—this is all that 613I am able to do.” Although the prince was in a sad and gloomy state of mind, he saw nothing better than to accept this generous offer and agree to the marriage with the maiden-queen. A grand feast was made ready, and they were married according to the ways of that country. And the young king took at once in hand the government, which he managed with much ability.

Now the story turns homewards, to the old king. After the disappearance of his son he became sad and weary of life, being, as he was, sinking in age. His queen also had died sometime since. One day it happened that a wayfaring woman came to the palace. She had much knowledge about many things and knew how to tell many tales.[169] The king was greatly delighted with her storytelling and she got soon into his favour. Thus some time passed. But in course of time the king fell deeply in love with this woman, and at last married her and made her his queen, in spite of strong dissent from the court. Shortly this new queen began meddling in the affairs of the government, and it soon turned out that she was spoiling everything by her redes, whenever she had the chance. Once it happened that the queen spoke to the king and said, “Strange indeed it seems to me that you make no inquiry about your youngest son’s running away: smaller faults have been often chastised than that. You must have heard that he has become king in one of the neighbouring kingdoms, and that it is a common tale that he is going to invade your dominions with a great army whenever he gets the wished-for opportunity, in order to avenge the injustice he thinks he has suffered in that bygone bridal question. Now I want you to be the first in throwing this danger off-hand.” The king showed little interest in the matter and paid to his wife’s chattering but little attention. But she contrived at length so to speak to him as to make him place faith in her words, and he asked her to give him good redes, that this matter might be arranged in such a way as to be least observed by other folk. The queen said, “You must send men with gifts to him and pray him to come to you for an interview, in order to arrange certain political matters before your death, as also to strengthen your friendship with an interchange of marks of kindred. And then I will give you further advice as to what to do.” The king was satisfied with this and equipped his messengers royally.

Then the messengers came before the young king, saying they were sent by his father, who wished his son to come and see him without delay. To this the young king answered well, and lost no time in busking his men and himself. But when his queen knew this she said he would assuredly rue this journey. The king went off, however, and nothing is said of his travels till he came to the town where his father lived. His father received him rather coldly, much to the wonder and amazement of his son. And when he had been there a short while his father gave him a good chiding for having run 614away. “Thereby,” said the old king, “you have shown full contempt of myself and caused me such sorrow as well-nigh brought me to the grave. Therefore, according to the law, you have deserved to die; but as you have delivered yourself up into my power and are, on the other hand, my son, I have no mind to have you killed. But I have three tasks for you which you must have performed within a year, on pain of death. The first is that you bring me a tent which will hold one hundred men but can yet be hidden in the closed hand;[170] the second, that you shall bring me water that cures all ailments;[171] and the third, that you shall bring me hither a man who has not his like in the whole world.” “Show me whither I shall go to obtain these things,” said the young king. “That you must find out for yourself,” replied the other.

Then the old king turned his back upon his son and went off. Away went also the young king, no farewells being said, and nothing is told of his travels till he came home to his realm. He was then very sad and heavy-minded, and the queen seeing this asked him earnestly what had befallen him and what caused the gloom on his mind. He declared that this did not regard her. The queen answered, “I know that tasks must have been set you which it will not prove easy to perform. But what will it avail you to sit sullen and sad on account of such things? Behave as a man, and try if these tasks may not indeed be accomplished.”

Now the king thought it best tell the queen all that had happened and how matters stood. “All this,” said the queen, “is the rede of your stepmother, and it would be well indeed if she could do you no more harm by it than she has already tried to do. She has chosen such difficulties as she thought you would not easily get over, but I can do something here. The tent is in my possession, so there is that difficulty over. The water you have to get is a short way hence but very hard of approach. It is in a well and the well is in a cave hellishly dark. The well is watched by seven lions and three serpents, and from these monsters nobody has ever returned alive; and the nature of the water is that it has no healing power whatever unless it be drawn when all these monsters are awake. Now I will risk the undertaking of drawing the water.” So the queen made herself ready to go to the cave, taking with her seven oxen and three pigs. When she came before the cave she ordered the oxen to be killed and thrown before the lions and the pigs 615before the serpents. And while these monsters tore and devoured the carcases the queen stepped down into the well and drew as much water as she wanted. And she left the cave just in time, as the beasts finished devouring their bait. After this the queen went home to the palace, having thus got over the second trial.

Then she came to her husband and said, “Now two of the tasks are done, but the third and indeed the hardest, of them is left. Moreover, this is one you must perform yourself, but I can give you some hints as to whither to go for it. I have got a half brother who rules over an island not far from hence. He is three feet high, and has one eye in the middle of his forehead. He has a beard thirty ells long, stiff and hard as a hog’s bristles. He has a dog’s snout and cat’s ears, and I should scarcely fancy he has his like in the whole world. When he travels he flings himself forward on a staff of fifty ells’ length, with a pace as swift as a bird’s flight. Once when my father was out hunting he was charmed by an ogress who lived in a cave under a waterfall, and with her he begat this bugbear. The island is one-third of my father’s realm, but his son finds it too small for him. My father had a ring, the greatest gem, which each of us would have, sister and brother, but I got it, wherefore he has been my enemy ever since. Now I will write him a letter and send him the ring, in the hope that that will soften him and turn him in our favour. You shall make ready to go to him, with a splendid suite, and when you come to his palace-door you shall take off your crown and creep bareheaded over the floor up to his throne. Then you shall kiss his right foot and give him the letter and the ring. And if he orders you to stand up, you have succeeded in your task, if not, you have failed.”

So he did everything that he was bidden by the queen, and when he appeared before the one-eyed king he was stupefied at his tremendous ugliness and his bugbear appearance; but he plucked up courage as best he could and gave him the letter and the ring. When the king saw the letter and the ring his face brightened up, and he said, “Surely my sister finds herself in straits now, as she sends me this ring.” And when he had read the letter he bade the king, his brother-in-law, stand up, and declared that he was ready to comply with his sister’s wish and to go off at once without delay. He seized his staff and started away, but stopped now and then for his brother-in-law and his suite, to whom he gave a good chiding for their slowness.[172] They continued thus their march until they came to the palace of the queen, the ugly king’s sister; but when they arrived there the one-eyed king cried with a roaring voice to his sister, and asked her what she wished, as she had troubled him to come so far from home. She then told him all the matter as it really was and begged him to help her husband out of the trial put before him. He said he was ready to do so, but would brook no delay.

616Now both kings went off, and nothing is told of their journey until they came to the old king. The young king announced to his father his coming and that he brought with him what he had ordered last year. He wished his father to call together a ting,[173] in order that he might show openly how he had performed his tasks. This was done, and the king and the queen and other great folk were assembled. First the tent was put forward and nobody could find fault with it. Secondly the young king gave the wondrous healing water to his father. The queen was prayed to taste it and see if it was the right water, taken at the right time. She said that both things were as they should be. Then said the old king, “Now the third and heaviest of all the tasks is left: come, and have it off your hands quickly.” Then the young king summoned the king with one eye, and as he appeared on the ting he waxed so hideous that all the people were struck with fright and horror, and most of all the king. When this ugly monarch had shown himself for a while there he thrust his staff against the breast of the queen and tilted her up into the air on the top of it, and then thrust her against the ground with such force that every bone in her body was broken. She turned at once into the most monstrous troll ever beheld. After this the one-eyed king rushed away from the ting and the people thronged round the old king in order to help him, for he was in the very jaws of death from fright. The healing water was sprinkled on him and refreshed him.

After the death of the queen, who was killed of course when she turned into a troll, the king confessed that all the tasks which he had given his son to perform were undeserved and that he had acted thus, egged on by the queen. He called his son to him and humbly begged his forgiveness for what he had done against him. He declared he would atone for it by giving into his hand all that kingdom, while he himself only wished to live in peace and quiet for the rest of his days. So the young king sent for his queen and for the courtiers whom he loved most. And, to make a long story short, they gave up their former kingdom to the king with one eye, as a reward, for his lifetime, but governed the realm of the old king to a high age, in great glee and happiness.



Legends of castaway infants are common to the folk-lore of almost all countries and date far back into antiquity. The most usual mode of exposing them—to perish or be rescued, as chance might direct—is placing them in a box and launching them into a river. The story of Moses in the bulrushes, which must of course be familiar to everybody, is not only paralleled in ancient Greek and Roman legends (e.g. Perseus, Cyrus, Romulus), but finds its analogue in Babylonian folk-lore.[174] The leading idea of the tale of the Envious Sisters, who substituted a puppy, a kitten, and a rat for the three babes their young sister the queen had borne and sent the little innocents away to be destroyed, appealing, as it does, to the strongest of human instincts, is the theme of many popular fictions from India to Iceland. With a malignant mother-in-law in place of the two sisters, it is the basis of a mediæval European romance entitled “The Knight of the Swan,” and of a similar tale which occurs in “Dolopathus,” the oldest version of the “Seven Wise Masters,” written in Latin prose about the year 1180: A king while hunting loses his way in a forest and coming to a fountain perceives a beautiful lady, whom he carries home and duly espouses, much against the will of his mother, Matabrun. Some time after, having to lead his knights and men-at-arms against an enemy, he commits the queen, now far advanced in pregnancy, to the care of his mother, who undertakes that no harm shall befall her during 618his absence. The queen is delivered at one birth of seven lovely children, six boys and one girl, each of whom has a silver chain round its neck.[175] The king’s mother plots with the midwife to do away with the babes and place seven little dogs in bed beside the poor queen. She gives the children to one of her squires, charging him either to slay them or cast them into the river. But when the squire enters a forest his heart relents and laying the infants, wrapped in his mantle, on the ground, he returns and tells his mistress that he has done her behest. When the king returns, the wicked Matabrun accuses his wife to him of having had unnatural commerce with a dog, and shows him the seven puppies. The scene which follows presents a striking likeness to that in the Arabian story after the birth of the third child. King Oriant is full of wrath, and at once assembles his counsellors, “dukes, earls, knights and other lords of the realm, with the bishop and prelate of the church,” and having stated the case, the bishop pleads in favour of the queen, and finally induces him not to put her to death, but confine her in prison for the rest of her life. Meanwhile the children are discovered by an aged hermit, who takes them to his dwelling, baptises them, and brings them up. After some years it happens that a yeoman in the service of the king’s mother, while hunting in the forest, perceives the seven children with silver chains round their necks seated under a tree. He reports this to Matabrun, who forthwith sends him back to kill the children and bring her their silver chains. He finds but six of them, one being absent with the hermit, who was gone alms-seeking; and, touched by their innocent looks, he merely takes off the silver chains, whereupon they become transformed into pretty white swans and fly away. How the innocence of the queen is afterwards vindicated by her son Helyas—he who escaped being changed into a swan—and how his brethren and sister are restored to their proper forms would take too long to tell, and indeed the rest of the romance has no bearing on the Arabian tale.[176]

In another mediæval work, from which Chaucer derived his Man of Law’s Tale, the Life of Constance, by Nicholas Trivet, an English Dominican monk, the saintly heroine is married to a king, in whose absence at the wars his mother plots against her daughter-in-law. When Constance gives birth to a son, the old queen causes letters to be written to the king, in which his wife is declared to be an evil spirit in the form of a woman and that she had borne, not a human child, but a hideous monster. The king, in reply, commands Constance to be tended carefully until his return. But the traitress contrives by means of letters forged in the king’s name to have Constance 619and her son sent to sea in a ship, where she meets with strange adventures. Needless to say, the old queen’s wicked devices ultimately come to naught.

The story of the Envious Sisters as told by Galland was known in Italy (as Dr. W. Grimm points out in the valuable notes to his K. u. H. M.) many generations before the learned Frenchman was born, through the “Pleasant Nights” of Straparola. That Galland took his story from the Italian novelist it is impossible to believe, since, as Mr. Coote has observed, Straparola’s work “was already known in France for a couple of centuries through a popular French translation” and Galland would at once have been an easily convicted copyist. Moreover, the story, imitated from Straparola, by Madame d’Aulnois, under the title of “La Belle Etoile et Le Prince Cheri,” had been published before Galland’s last two volumes appeared, and both those writers had the same publisher. It is clear, therefore, that Galland neither invented the story nor borrowed it from Straparola or Madame d’Aulnois. Whence, then, did he obtain it?—that is the question. His Arabic source has not yet been discovered, but a variant of the world-wide story is at the present day orally current in Egypt and forms No. xi. of “Contes Arabes Modernes. Recueillis et Traduits par Guillaume Spitta Bey” (Paris, 1883), of which the following is a translation:


There was once a King who said to his vazír, “Let us take a walk through the town during the night.” In walking about they came to a house where they heard people talking, and stopping before it they heard a girl say, “If the King would marry me, I would make him a tart (or pie) so large that it would serve for him and his army.” And another said, “If the King would marry me, I would make him a tent that would shelter him and his whole army.” Then a third said, “If the King would marry me, I would present him with a daughter and a son, with golden hair, and hair of hyacinth colour alternately; if they should weep, it would thunder, and if they should laugh, the sun and moon would appear.” The King on hearing these words went away, and on the following day he sent for the three girls and made the contract of marriage with them. He passed the first night with the one who had spoken first, and said to her, “Where is the tart that would be sufficient for me and my army?” She answered him, “The words of the night are greased with butter: when day appears they melt away.” The next night he slept with the second, saying to her, “Where is the tent which would be large enough for me and my army?” She answered him, “It was an idea that came into my mind.” So the King ordered them to go down into the kitchen among the slaves. He passed the third night with the little one, saying, “Where are the boy and girl whose hair is to be like gold and hyacinth?” She replied, “Tarry with me nine months and nine minutes.” In due time she became pregnant, and on the night of her confinement the midwife was sent for. Then 620the other wife of the King went and met her in the street and said to her, “When she has been delivered, how much will the King give you?” She answered, “He will issue orders to give me fifteen mahbúbs.”[177] The other said, “Behold, here are forty mahbúbs from me. Take these two little blind puppies, and when she has given birth to a son and a daughter, take them and place them in a box and put these two puppies in their stead, and remove the children.” The midwife took the money and the little dogs and went away. When the King’s new wife was safely delivered, the midwife did according to her agreement with the other wife of the King, and then went before him and said, “I fear to speak.” He answered, “Speak; I grant you pardon.” Then said she, “Your wife has been delivered of two dogs.” Then the King gave orders, saying, “Take and cover her with tar, and bind her to the staircase, and let any one who may go up or down spit upon her,” which was done accordingly. And the midwife carried away the children and threw them into the river.

Now there was a fisherman who lived on an island with his wife, and they had no children. On the morrow he went to the water-side to fish and found a box driven on to the shore. He carried it home to his wife, and placing it between them, he said, “Listen, my dear, I am going to make a bargain with you: if this contains money, it will be for me; if it contains children, they will be for you.” She replied, “Very well, I am quite content.” They then opened the box and found in it a baby boy and girl. The baby boy had his finger in the baby girl’s mouth and the latter had her finger in his mouth, and they were sucking one another’s fingers. The woman took them out of the box and prayed to Heaven, “Make milk come into my breasts, for the sake of these little ones.” And by the Almighty power the milk came into her breasts, and she continued to bring them up until they had reached the age of twelve years.

One day the fisherman caught two large white fish, and the youth said to him, “These two white fish are pretty, my father; I will take and sell them, or carry them as a present to the King.” So the boy took them and went away. He sat down with them in the Fish Market: people gathered about him, and those who did not look at the fish looked at the boy. The King also came past, and seeing the two white fish and the boy he called to him, saying, “What is the price, my lad?” The boy answered, “They are a present for you, my prince.” Thereupon the King took him to the palace and said to him, “What is your name?” and he replied, “My name is Muhammed, and my father is the fisherman who lives on the island.” Then the King gave him thirty mahbúbs, saying, “Go away, discreet one, and every day return here to my house.” So the lad returned home and gave the money to his father. The next morning two more white fish were caught and Muhammed carried them 621to the King, who took him into his garden and made him sit down opposite him. The King remained there drinking his wine and looking on the beauty of the youth: love for the lad entered his heart and he remained with him two hours.[178] Then he gave orders to provide the youth with a horse for his use in coming to and returning from his house, and Muhammed mounted the horse and rode home.

When he visited the King the following day he was again led into the garden, and the other wife of the King, looking from her window saw the lad and recognised him. She at once sent for the old midwife, and said to her, “I bade you kill the children, yet they are still living upon the earth.” Replied the old woman, “Have patience with me, O Queen, for three days, and I will kill him.” Then she went away, and having procured a pitcher, tied it to her girdle, bewitched it, mounted on it, and struck it with a whip, and forthwith the pitcher flew away with her and descended upon the island near the fisherman’s cottage.[179] She found the young girl, Muhammed’s sister, sitting alone, and thus addressed her: “My dear, why are you thus alone and sad? Tell your brother to fetch you the rose of Arab Zandyk, that it may sing to you and amuse you, instead of your being thus lonely and low-spirited.” When her brother came home, he found her displeased and asked her, “Why are you vexed, my sister?” She replied, “I should like the rose of Arab Zandyk, that it may sing to me and amuse me.” “At your command,” said he; “I am going to bring it to you.”

He mounted his horse and travelled into the midst of the desert, where he perceived an ogress seated and pounding wheat with a millstone on her arm. Alighting, he came up to her and saluted her saying, “Peace be with you, mother ogress.” She replied, “If your safety did not prevail over your words, I would eat the flesh from off your bones.” Then she asked, “Where are you going, Muhammed the Discreet?” He answered, “I am in quest of the singing rose of Arab Zandyk.” She showed him the way, saying, “You will find before the palace a kid and a dog fastened, and before the kid a piece of meat and before the dog a bunch of clover: lift the meat and throw it to the dog, and give the clover to the kid.[180] Then the door will open for you: enter and 622pluck the rose; return immediately, without looking behind you, because, if you do so, you will be bewitched and changed into stone, like the enchanted ones who are there.” Muhammed the Discreet carefully followed the instructions of the ogress: plucked the rose, went out by the door, put back the meat before the kid and the clover before the dog, and carried the rose home to his sister.

Then he again went to the house of the King, who saluted him and said, “Where hast thou been, discreet one? Why hast thou absented thyself so long from my house?” And he answered, “I was sick, O King.” Then the King took him by the hand and entered the garden, and both sat down. The wife of the King saw them seated together, and sending for the midwife she angrily asked, “Why do you befool me, old woman?” She replied, “Have patience with me for three days more, O Queen.” Then she mounted her pitcher, and arriving at the house of the young girl, she said, “Has thy brother fetched thee the rose?” “Yes,” answered the girl, “but it does not sing.” Quoth the old woman, “It only sings with its looking-glass,” and then went away. When the youth returned he found his sister vexed, and he asked, “Why are you so sad, my sister?” She replied, “I should like the looking-glass of the rose, by means of which it sings.” Quoth he, “I obey your orders, and will bring it to you.”

Muhammed the Discreet rode on till he came to the ogress, who asked him what he wanted. “I wish,” said he, “the looking-glass of the rose.” “Well, go and do with the dog and kid as you did before. When you have entered the garden you will find some stairs; go up them, and in the first room you come to you will find the mirror suspended. Take it, and set out directly, without looking behind you. If the earth shake with you, keep a brave heart, otherwise you will have gone on a fruitless errand.” He went and did according to the instructions of the ogress. In taking away the mirror the earth shook under him, but he made his heart as hard as an anvil and cared nothing for the shaking. But when he brought the mirror to his sister and she had placed it before the rose of Arab Zandyk, still the rose sang not.

When he visited the King, he excused his absence, saying, “I was on a journey with my father, but here am I, returned once more.” The King led him by the hand into the garden, and the wife of the King again perceiving him she sent for the midwife and demanded of her, “Why do you mock me again, old woman?” Quoth she, “Have patience with me for three days, O Queen; this time will be the beginning and the end.” Then she rode on her pitcher to the island, and asked the young girl, “Has thy brother brought thee the mirror?” “Yes; but still the rose sings not.” “Ah, it only sings with its mistress, who is called Arab Zandyk,” and so saying she departed. Muhammed the Discreet on his return home again found his sister disconsolate, and in answer to his inquiries she said, “I desire Arab Zandyk, mistress of the rose and of the mirror, that I may amuse myself with her when you are absent.”

He at once mounted his horse and rode on till he came to the house of the ogress. “How fares it with you, mother ogress?” “What do 623you want now, Muhammed the Discreet?” “I wish Arab Zandyk, mistress of the rose and of the mirror.” Quoth the ogress, “Many kings and pashas have not been able to bring her: she has changed them all into stone; and thou art small and poor—what will become of thee?” “Only, my dear mother ogress, show me the way, and I shall bring her, with the permission of God.” Said the ogress: “Go to the west side of the palace; there you will find an open window. Bring your horse under the window and then cry in a loud voice, ‘Descend, Arab Zandyk!’” Muhammed the Wary went accordingly, halted beneath the window, and cried out, “Descend, Arab Zandyk!” She looked from her window scornfully and said, “Go away, young man.” Muhammed the Discreet raised his eyes and found that half of his horse was changed into stone. A second time cried he in a loud voice, “Descend, Arab Zandyk!” She insulted him and said, “I tell you, go away, young man.” He looked again and found his horse entirely enchanted and half of himself as well. A third time he cried in a loud voice, “I tell you, descend, Arab Zandyk!” She inclined herself half out of the window, and her hair fell down to the ground. Muhammed the Discreet seized it, twined it round his hand, pulled her out, and threw her on the earth. Then said she, “Thou art my fate, Muhammed the Wary; relinquish thy hold of my hair, by the life of thy father the King.” Quoth he, “My father is a fisherman.” “Nay,” she replied, “thy father is the King; by-and-by I will tell thee his history.” Quoth he, “I will leave hold of your hair when you have set at liberty the enchanted men.” She made a sign with her right arm and they were at once set free. They rushed headlong towards Muhammed the Prudent to take her from him, but some of them said, “Thanks to him who hath delivered us: do you still wish to take her from him?” So they left him and went their several ways.

Arab Zandyk then took him by the hand and led him into her castle. She gave her servants orders to build a palace in the midst of the isle of the fisherman, which being accomplished, she took Muhammed the Discreet and her soldiers and proceeded thither, and then said she to him, “Go to the King, and when he asks where you have been, reply, ‘I have been preparing my nuptials and invite you, with your army.’” He went to the King and spoke as Arab Zandyk had instructed him, upon which the King laughed and said to his vazír, “This young man is the son of a fisherman and comes to invite me, with my army!” Quoth the vazír, “On account of your love for him, command that the soldiers take with them food for eight days, and we also will take our provender for eight days.” The King having issued orders to that effect, and all being ready, they all set out, and arriving at the house of the fisherman’s son, they found a large number of beautiful tents erected for the soldiers’ accommodation and the King was astonished. Then came the feasting—one dainty dish being quickly followed by another still more delicious, and the soldiers said among themselves, “We should like to remain here for two years to eat meat and not be obliged to eat only beans and lentils.” They continued there forty days until the nuptials were completed, well content with their fare. Then 624the King departed with his army. The King sent a return invitation, and Arab Zandyk commanded her soldiers to set out in order to precede her to the capital. When the soldiers arrived they filled the town so that there was scarcely sufficient house-room for them. Then Arab Zandyk set out accompanied by Muhammed and his sister. They entered the royal palace, and as they ascended the staircase Arab Zandyk perceived the mother of Muhammed covered with tar and in chains, so she threw over her a cashmere shawl and covered her. The servants who were standing about said to Arab Zandyk, “Why do you cover her with a shawl? Spit upon her when you go up and also when you come down.” She asked, “Why so?” Said they, “Because she gave birth to two dogs.” Then they went to the King and said, “A lady amongst the strangers has thrown a cashmere shawl over her who is fastened to the staircase, and has covered her without spitting upon her.” The King went and met Arab Zandyk and asked, “Why have you covered her?” Said she, “Give orders that she be conducted to the bath, cleansed, and dressed in a royal robe, after which I will relate her history.” The King gave the required orders, and when she was decked in a royal robe they conducted her into the divan. Then said the King to Arab Zandyk, “Tell me now the history.” Said she, “Listen, O King, the fisherman will speak,” and then Arab Zandyk said to the fisherman, “Is it true that your wife gave birth to Muhammed and his sister at one time or at separate times?” He replied, “My wife has no children.” “Where, then, did you get them?” Quoth he, “I went one morning to fish, and found them in a box on the bank of the river. I took them home, and my wife brought them up.” Arab Zandyk then said, “Hast thou heard, O King?” and turning to his wife, “Are these thy children, O woman?” Said she, “Tell them to uncover their heads that I may see them.” When they uncovered their heads, they were seen to have alternately hair of gold and hair of hyacinth. The King then asked her, “Are these thy children?” “Tell them to weep: if it thunders and rains, they are my children, and if it does not thunder or rain, they are not mine.” The children wept, and it thundered and rained. Then he asked her again, “Are these thy children?” And she said, “Tell them to laugh: if the sun and moon appear, they are my children.” They told them to laugh, and the sun and moon appeared. Then he asked her once more, “Are these thy children?” and she said, “They are my children!” Then the King appointed the fisherman vazír of his right hand, and commanded that the city be illuminated for forty whole days; on the last day he caused his other wife and the old witch (the midwife) to be led out and burnt, and their ashes to be dispersed to the winds.

The variations between this and Galland’s story are very considerable, it must be allowed, and though the fundamental outline is the same in both, they should be regarded as distinct versions of the same tale, and both are represented by Asiatic and European stories. Here the fairy Arab Zandyk plays 625the part of the Speaking-Bird, which, however, has its equivalent in the preceding tale (No. x.) of Spitta Bey’s collection:

A man dies, leaving three sons and one daughter. The sons build a palace for their sister and mother. The girl falls in love with some one who is not considered as an eligible parti by the brothers. By the advice of an old woman, the girl asks her brothers to get her the singing nightingale, in hope that the bird would throw sand on them and thus send them down to the seventh earth. The eldest before setting out on this quest leaves his chaplet with his younger brother, saying that if it shrank it would be a token that he was dead. Journeying through the desert some one tells him that many persons have been lost in their quest of the singing nightingale: he must hide himself till he sees the bird go into its cage and fall asleep, then shut the cage and carry it off. But he does not wait long enough, and tries to shut the cage while the bird’s feet are still outside, so the bird takes up sand with its feet and throws it on him, and he descends to the seventh earth. The second brother, finding the chaplet shrunk, goes off in his turn, leaving his ring with the youngest brother—if it contract on the finger it will betoken his death. He meets with the same fate as his elder brother, and now the youngest, finding the ring contract, sets out, leaving with his mother a rose, which will fade if he dies. He waits till the singing nightingale is asleep, and then shuts him in the cage. The bird in alarm implores to be set at liberty, but the youth demands first the restoration of his brothers, and the bird tells him to scatter on the ground some sand from beneath the cage, which he does, when only a crowd of negroes and Turks (? Tátárs) appear, and confess their failure to capture the singing nightingale. Then the bird bids him scatter white sand, which being done, 500 whites and the two lost brothers appear and the three return home with the bird, which sings so charmingly in the palace that all the people come to listen to it outside.—The rest of this story tells of the amours of the girl and a black, who, at her instigation, kills her eldest brother, but he is resuscitated by the Water of Life.

Through the Moors, perhaps, the story found its way among the wandering tribes (the Kabail) of Northern Africa, who have curiously distorted its chief features, though not beyond recognition, as will be seen from the following abstract of their version, from M. Rivière’s collection of “Contes Populaires de la Kabylie du Djurdjura” (Paris, 1882):


A man has two wives, one of whom is childless, the other bears in succession seven sons and a daughter. The childless wife cuts off the little finger of each and takes them one by one into the forest, where they are brought up. An old woman comes one day and tells the daughter that if her brothers love her they will give her a bat. The girl cries to her brothers for a bat, and one of them 626consults an aged man, who sends him to the sea-shore. He puts down his gun under a tree, and a bat from above cries out, “What wild beast is this?” The youth replies, “You just go to sleep, old fellow.” The bat comes down, touches the gun and it becomes a piece of wood; touches the youth and he becomes microscopic. This in turn happens to all the brothers, after which the girl goes to the sea-shore, and when she is under the tree the bat calls out, “What wild beast is this?” But she does not answer; she waits till the bat is asleep, then climbs the tree, and catching the “bird” (sic), asks it where her brothers are, and on her promising to clothe the bat in silver and gold, the creature touches the guns and the brothers, and they are restored to their proper forms. The bat then conducts them to their father’s house, where he asks lodgings and is refused by the childless wife. The husband takes them in however and kills a sheep for their entertainment. The childless wife poisons the meat, and the bat warns the children, bidding them try a cock, a dog, and a cat with it, which is done, and the animals die. The brothers now decline the food and ask that their sister be allowed to prepare somewhat for them to eat. Then the bat touches the eyes of the children, who immediately recognise their parents, and great is the rejoicing. The childless wife is torn in pieces by being dragged at the tail of a wild horse, and the bat, having been dressed in silver and gold, is sent back to his tree.

Sir Richard has given (p. 491, note) some particulars of the version in Hahn’s collection of modern Greek tales, which generally corresponds with Galland’s story. There is a different version in M. Legrand’s “Recueil de Contes Populaires Grecs” (Paris, 1881), which combines incidents in the modern Arabic story of Arab Zandyk with some of those in Galland and some which it has exclusively:


Three daughters of an old woman disobey the order of the King, not to use a light at night because of the scarcity of oil, and work on as usual. The King in going round the town to see if his order is obeyed comes to their house, and overhears the eldest girl express a wish that she were married to the royal baker, so that she should have plenty of bread. The second wishes the King’s cook for her husband, to have royal meals galore. The youngest wishes to have the king himself, saying she would bear him, as children, “Sun,” “Moon,” and “Star.” Next day the King sends for them and marries each as she had wished. When the youngest brings forth the three children, in successive years, her mother-in-law, on the advice of a “wise woman,” (? the midwife) substitutes a dog, a cat, and a serpent, and causes the infants to be put in a box and sent down the river, and the queen is disgraced.

An old monk, in the habit of going down to the river and taking one fish daily, one day gets two fishes, and asks God the reason. In reply he is told that 627he will henceforth have two mouths to feed. Presently, he finds the box with the infant “Sun” in it and takes him home. Next year he gets one day three fishes, and finds the infant “Moon”; and the third year he has four fishes one day and finds the baby girl, “Star.” When the children have grown up the monk sends them to town in order that they should learn the ways of the world. The eldest hearing a Jew offering a box for sale, saying, “Whoever buys this box will be sorry for it, and he who does not buy it will be equally sorry,” purchases it and on taking it home finds his sister weeping for the golden apple which the “wise woman” (who had found them out) told her she must get. He opens the Jew’s box and finds a green and winged horse in it. The horse tells him how to get the golden apple from the forty guardian dragons. They go and get it. After this the old woman comes again and tells the sister that she must get the golden bough, on which all the birds in the world sing, and this also is procured by the help of the green and winged horse. A third time the old trot comes and says to the girl, “You must get Tzitzinæna to explain the language of birds.” The eldest brother starts off on the horse, and arriving at the dwelling of Tzitzinæna he calls her name, whereupon he, with the horse, is turned to stone up to the knees; and calling again on her they become marble to the waist. Then the youth burns a hair he had got from the monk, who instantly appears, calls out “Tzitzinæna,” and she comes forth, and with the water of immortality the youth and horse are disenchanted. After the youth has returned home with Tzitzinæna, the King sees the three children and thinks them like those his wife had promised to bear him. He invites them to dinner, at which Tzitzinæna warns them of poisoned meats, some of which they give to a dog they had brought with them, and the animal dies on the spot. They ask the King to dine at their house and he goes. Tzitzinæna by clapping her hands thrice procures a royal feast for him; then, having induced the King to send for his wife, she tells the whole story of the mother-in-law’s evil doings, and shows the King that “Sun,” “Moon” and “Star” are his own children. The King’s mother and the old woman are torn to pieces.

In Albania, as might be expected, our story is orally current in a form which resembles both the Greek version, as above, and the tale of Arab Zandyk, more especially the latter; and it may have been derived from the Turks, though I am not aware that the story has been found in Turkish. This is an abstract of the second of M. Dozon’s “Contes Albanais” (Paris, 1881), a most entertaining collection:


There was a King who had three daughters. When he died, his successor proclaimed by the crier am order prohibiting the use of lights during the night of his accession. Having made this announcement, the King disguised himself and went forth alone. After walking about from place to place he came to the 628abode of the daughters of the late King, and going up close to it he overheard their conversation. This is what the eldest was saying, “If the King took me for his wife, I would make him a carpet upon which the whole of his army could be seated and there would still be room to spare.” Then said the second, “If the King would take me for his wife, I would make him a tent under which the whole army could be sheltered, and room would still remain.” Lastly, the youngest said, “If the King should espouse me, I would bring him a son and a daughter with a star on their foreheads and a moon on their shoulders.”

The King, who had not lost a word of this conversation, sent for the sisters on the morrow and married all three.[181] The eldest, as she had declared, made a carpet on which the whole army was seated, and yet there was room to spare. The second, in her turn, made a tent under which all the army found shelter. As to the youngest, after a time, she grew great, and her confinement approached. The day she was delivered the King was absent, and on his return he inquired what she had given birth to. The two elder sisters replied, “A little cat and a little mouse.” On hearing this the King ordered the mother to be placed upon the staircase, and commanded every one who entered to spit upon her.

Now she had given birth to a boy and a girl, but her two sisters, after having shut them up in a box, sent them away by a servant to be exposed on the bank of the river, and a violent wind afterwards arising, the box was drifted to the other side. There was a mill on that side, where dwelt an old man and his wife. The old man having found the box brought it home. They opened it, and discovered the boy and the girl, with a star on their foreheads and a moon on their shoulders. Astonished thereat, they took them out and brought the children up as well as they could.

Time passed away; the old woman died, and soon after came the turn of the old man. Before dying he called the youth to him and said, “Know, my son, that in such a place is a cave where there is a bridle which belongs to me. That bridle is thine; but avoid opening the cave before forty days have elapsed, if you wish the bridle to do whatever you command.” The forty days having expired, the young man went to the cave, and on opening it found the bridle. He took it in his hand and said to it, “I want two horses,” and in a moment two horses appeared. The brother and sister mounted them, and in the twinkling of an eye they arrived in their father’s country. There the young man opened a café, and his sister remained secluded at home.

As the café was the best in the country, the King came to hear of it, and when he entered it he saw the youth, who had a star on his forehead. He thought him so beautiful [and lingered so long] that he returned late to the palace, when he was asked why he had tarried so late. He replied, that a young lad had opened a café, and was so beautiful that he had never seen his equal; and, what was most extraordinary, there was a star on his brow. The sisters no 629sooner heard these words of the King than they understood that he referred to their younger sister’s son. Full of rage and spite, they quickly devised a plan of causing his death. What did they do? They sent to his sister an old woman, who said to her, “Thy brother, O my daughter, can hardly love thee, for he is all day at the café and has a good time of it, while he leaves thee here alone. If he truly loves thee, tell him to bring thee a flower from the Belle of the Earth, so that thou too mayest have something to divert thyself with.” On returning home that evening the young man found his sister quite afflicted, and asked the cause of her grief. “Why should I not grieve?” said she. “You leave me alone, secluded here, while you go about as your fancy directs. If you love me, go to the Belle of the Earth and bring a flower, so that I too may be amused.” “Console yourself,” replied he, and at once gave orders to the bridle. An enormous horse appeared, which he mounted and set off.

As he journeyed, a lamia presented herself before him, and said, “I have a great desire to eat thee, but thou also excitest pity, and so I leave thee thy life.” The young man then inquired of her how he could find the Belle of the Earth. “I know nothing about it, my son,” replied the lamia; “but go ask my second sister.” So he rode off and came to her, and she drew near, intending to devour him, but seeing him so beautiful, she asked where he was going. He told his story and said, “Do you know the way to the Belle of the Earth?” But she in her turn sent him to her elder sister, who on seeing him rushed out to eat him, but, like the others, was touched by his comeliness and spared him; and when he inquired after the Belle of the Earth, “Take this handkerchief,” said she, “and when thou arrivest at her abode, use it to open the door. Inside thou wilt see a lion and a lamb; throw brains to the lion and grass to the lamb.” So he went forward and did all the lamia advised. He tried the door and it opened; threw brains to the lion and grass to the lamb, and they allowed him to pass. He went in and pulled a flower, and he had no sooner done so than he found himself at his own door.

Great was his sister’s joy as she began playing with the flower. But on the morrow the two sisters sent the old woman to her again. “Has he brought thee the flower?” she asked. “Yes, he has.” “Thou art content,” said the old hag; “but if thou hadst the handkerchief of the Belle of the Earth, it would be quite another thing.” When her brother came home he found her in tears, and in reply to his inquiries, “What pleasure,” said she—“what pleasure can this flower give me? So long as I have not the handkerchief of the Belle of the Earth I shall not be happy.” Then he, desirous that his sister should have no cause for grief, mounted his horse, and in the same manner as he had obtained the flower, possessed himself of the handkerchief and brought it home to his sister.

On the morrow, when the young man had gone to his café, the old witch again visited his sister, who informed her that her brother had brought her the handkerchief. “How happy,” said the sorceress—“how happy thou art in having a brother who brings thee whatever thou desirest! But if thou dost 630wish to spend thy life like a pasha’s wife, thou must also obtain the owner of that handkerchief.”

To please his sister, the young man once more sets out, and coming to the eldest of the lamiæ and telling her his errand, “O my son,” said she, “thou canst go there, but as to carrying away the mistress of the handkerchief, that is not so easy. However, try in some way to obtain possession of her ring, for therein lies all her power.” So he continues his journey, and after passing the lion and the lamb he comes to the chamber of the Belle of the Earth. He finds her asleep, and approaching her noiselessly draws the ring from her finger, upon which she awakes and discovering that she had not her ring, there was no alternative but to submit to his will. They set out together and in the twinkling of an eye arrived at the young man’s house. On perceiving them the sister was overcome with joy.

It happened next day that the King again went to the café, and on his return home ordered supper to be prepared, saying that he had invited the young man and all his friends. The sisters instructed the cooks to put poison in the food, which they did accordingly. At nightfall the young man arrived, accompanied by the Belle of the Earth, whom he had married, and his sister. But none of them, notwithstanding the entreaties of the King, would touch any food, for the Belle of the Earth had revealed to them that the meats were poisoned: they merely ate a few mouthfuls out of the King’s mess.

Supper over, the King invited each one to tell a story, and when it came to the young man’s turn, he recounted the whole story of his adventures. Then the King recognised in him the son of his fairest wife, whom, deceived by the lies of her sisters, he had exposed on the staircase. So he instantly ordered the two sisters to be seized and cut to pieces, and he took back his wife. As for the young man, he became his heir. He grew old and prospered.

The points of difference between, and the relative merits of, Galland’s story and Straparola’s


and whence both were probably obtained, will be considered later on, as several other versions or variants remain to be noticed or cited, before attempting a comparative analysis, not the least interesting of which is a


In “Melusine,” for 1878, col. 206 ff., M. Luzel gives a Breton version, under the title of “Les Trois Filles du Boulanger; ou, L’Eau qui danse, la Pomme qui chante, et l’Oiseau de Vérité,” which does not appear to have been derived from Galland’s story, although it corresponds with it closely in the first part. A prince overhears the conversation of three daughters of an old baker, 631who is a widower. The eldest says that she loves the king’s gardener; the second, that she loves the king’s valet; and the youngest says the prince is her love, to whom she would bear two boys, each with a star of gold on his brow, and a girl, with a star of silver. The father chides them for talking nonsense and sends them to bed. The following day the prince sends for the girls to come to the palace one after the other, and having questioned them, tells the youngest that he desires to see her father. When she delivers the royal message the old baker begins to shake in his shoes, and exclaims, “I told you that your frivolous remarks would come to the ears of the prince, and now he sends for me to have me punished, without a doubt.” “No, no, dear father; go to the palace and fear nothing.” He goes, and, to be brief, the three marriages duly take place. The sisters married to the royal gardener and valet soon become jealous of the young queen, and when they find she is about to become a mother they consult a fairy, who advises them to gain over the midwife and get her to substitute a little dog and throw the child into the river, which is done accordingly, when the first son with the gold star is born. For the second son, a dog is also substituted, and the king, as on the former occasion, says, “God’s will be done: take care of the poor creature.” But when the little girl with the silver star is smuggled away and the king is shown a third puppy as the queen’s offspring, he is enraged. “They’ll call me the father of dogs!” he exclaims, “and not without cause.” He orders the queen to be shut up in a tower and fed on bread and water. The children are picked up by a gardener, who has a garden close to the river, and brought up by his wife as their own. In course of time the worthy couple die, and the king causes the children to be brought to the palace (how he came to know of them the story-teller does not inform us), and as they were very pretty and had been well brought up, he was greatly pleased with them. Every Sunday they went to grand mass in the church, each having a ribbon on the brow to conceal the stars. All the folk were astonished at their beauty.

One day, when the king was out hunting, an old woman came into the kitchen of the palace, where the sister happened to be, and exclaimed, “O how cold I am,” and she trembled and her teeth chattered. “Come near the fire, my good mother,” said the little girl. “Blessings on you, my child! How beautiful you are! If you had but the Water that dances, the Apple that sings, and the Bird of Truth, you’d not have your equal on the earth.” “Yes, but how to obtain these wonders?” “You have two brothers who can procure them for you,” and so saying, the old woman went away. When she told her brothers what the old woman had said, the eldest before setting out in quest of the three treasures leaves a poignard which as long as it can be drawn out of its sheath would betoken his welfare. One day it can’t be drawn out, so the second brother goes off, leaving with his sister a rosary, as in Galland. When she finds the beads won’t run on the string, she goes herself, on horseback, as a cavalier. She comes to a large plain, and in a hollow tree sees a little old man with a beard of great length, which she trims for him. The old man tells 632her that 60 leagues distant is an inn by the roadside, she may enter it, and having refreshed herself with food and drink, leave her horse there, and promise to pay on her return. After quitting the inn she will see a very high mountain, to climb which will require hands and feet, and she’ll have to encounter a furious storm of hail and snow; it will be bitterly cold: take care and not lose courage, but mount on. She’ll see on either side a number of stone pillars—persons like herself who have been thus transformed because they lost heart. On the summit is a plain, bordered with flowers, blooming as in May. She will see a gold seat under an apple-tree and should sit down and make it appear as if asleep; presently the bird will descend from branch to branch and enter the cage; quickly close it on the bird, for it is the Bird of Truth. Cut a branch of the tree, with an apple on it, for it is the Apple that sings. Lastly, there is also the fountain of Water which dances: fill a flask from the fountain and in descending the hill sprinkle a few drops of the water on the stone pillars and the enchanted young princes and knights will come to life again. Such were the instructions of the little old man, for which the princess thanked him and went on her way. Arriving at the summit of the mountain, she discovered the cage and sitting down under the tree feigned to be asleep, when presently the merle entered and she at once rose up and closed it. The merle, seeing that he was a prisoner, said, “You have captured me, daughter of the King of France. Many others have tried to seize me, but none has been able till now, and you must have been counselled by some one.” The princess then cut a branch of the tree with an apple on it, filled her flask with water from the fountain that danced, and as she went down the hill sprinkled a few drops on the stone pillars, which were instantly turned into princes, dukes, barons, and knights, and last of all her two brothers came to life, but they did not know her. All pressed about the princess, some saying, “Give me the Water which dances,” others, “Give me the Apple which sings,” and others, “Give me the Bird of Truth.” But she departed quickly, carrying with her the three treasures, and passing the inn where she had left her horse she paid her bill and returned home, where she arrived long before her brothers. When at length they came home she embraced them, saying, “Ah, my poor brothers! How much anxiety you have caused me! How long your journey has lasted! But God be praised that you are back here again.” “Alas, my poor sister, we have indeed remained a long time away, and after all have not succeeded in our quest. But we may consider ourselves fortunate in having been able to return.” “How!” said the princess, “do you not bring me the Water which dances, the Apple which sings, and the Bird of Truth?” “Alas! my poor sister, a young knight who was a stranger to us carried them all away—curse the rascal.” The old king who had no children (or rather, who believed he had none) loved the two brothers and the sister very much and was highly delighted to see them back again. He caused a grand feast to be prepared, to which he invited princes, dukes, marquises, barons, and generals. Towards the end of the banquet the young girl placed on the table the Water, the Apple, and the 633Bird, and bade each do its duty, whereupon the Water began to dance, and the Apple began to sing, and the bird began to hop about the table, and all present, in ecstasy, mouth and eyes wide open, looked and listened to these wonders. Never before had they seen such a sight. “To whom belong these marvels?” said the king when at length he was able to speak. “To me, sire,” replied the young girl. “Is that so?” said the King. “And from whom did you get them?” “I myself procured them with much trouble,” answered she. Then the two brothers knew that it was their sister who had delivered them. As to the king, he nearly lost his head in his joy and admiration. “My crown and my kingdom for your wonders, and you yourself, my young girl, shall be my queen,” he exclaimed. “Patience for a little, sire,” said she, “until you have heard my bird speak—the Bird of Truth, for he has important things to reveal to you. My little bird, now speak the truth.” “I consent,” replied the bird; “but let no one go out of this room,” and all the doors were closed. The old sorceress of a midwife and one of the king’s sisters-in-law were present, and became very uneasy at hearing these words. “Come now, my bird,” then said the girl, “speak the truth,” and this is what the bird said: “Twenty years ago, sire, your wife was shut up in a tower, abandoned by everybody, and you have long believed her to be dead. She has been accused unjustly.” The old midwife and the king’s sister-in law now felt indisposed and wished to leave the room. “Let no one depart hence,” said the king. “Continue to speak the truth, my little bird.” “You have had two sons and a daughter, sire,” the bird went on to say—“all three born of your lady, and here they are! Remove their bandages and you will see that each of them has a star on the forehead.” They removed the bandages and saw a gold star on the brow of each of the boys and a silver star on the girl’s brow. “The authors of all the evil,” continued the bird, “are your two sisters-in-law and this midwife—this sorceress of the devil. They have made you believe that your wife only gave birth to little dogs, and your poor children were exposed on the Seine as soon as they were born. When the midwife—that sorceress of hell—learned that the children had been saved and afterwards brought to the palace, she sought again to destroy them. Penetrating one day into the palace, disguised as a beggar, and affecting to be perishing from cold and hunger, she incited in the mind of the princess the desire to possess the Dancing-Water, the Singing-Apple, and the Bird of Truth—myself. Her two brothers went, one after the other, in quest of these things, and the sorceress took very good care that they should never return. Nor would they have returned, if their sister had not succeeded in delivering them after great toil and trouble.” As the bird ended his story, the king became unconscious, and when he revived he went himself to fetch the queen from the tower. He soon returned with her to the festive chamber, holding her by the hand. She was beautiful and gracious as ever, and having ate and drank a little, she died on the spot. The king, distraught with grief and anger, ordered a furnace to be heated, and threw into it his sister-in-law and the midwife—“ce tison de l’enfer!” As to the princess and her two brothers, I think 634they made good marriages all three, and as to the bird, they do not say if it continues still to speak the truth;—“mais je présume que oui, puisque ce n’était pas un homme!”

It would indeed be surprising did we not find our story popularly known throughout Germany in various forms. Under the title of “The Three Little Birds” a version is given in Grimm’s K. u. H. M. (No. 96, vol. i. of Mrs. Hunt’s English translation), which reproduces the chief particulars of Galland’s tale with at least one characteristic German addition:


A king, who dwelt on the Keuterberg, was out hunting one day, when he was seen by three young girls who were watching their cows on the mountain, and the eldest, pointing to him, calls out to the two others, “If I do not get that one, I’ll have none;” the second, from another part of the hill, pointing to the one who was on the king’s right hand, cries, “If I don’t get that one, I’ll have none;” and the youngest, pointing to the one who was on the king’s left hand, shouts, “And if I don’t get him, I’ll have none.” When the king has returned home he sends for the three girls, and after questioning them as to what they had said to each other about himself and his two ministers, he takes the eldest girl for his own wife and marries the two others to the ministers. The king was very fond of his wife, for she was fair and beautiful of face, and when he had to go abroad for a season he left her in charge of the two sisters who were the wives of his ministers, as she was about to become a mother. Now the two sisters had no children, and when the queen gave birth to a boy who “brought a red star into the world with him,” they threw him into the river, whereupon a little bird flew up into the air, singing:

“To thy death art thou sped,
Until God’s word be said.
In the white lily bloom,
Brave boy, is thy tomb.”

When the king came home they told him his queen had been delivered of a dog, and he said, “What God does is well done.” The same thing happens the two following years: when the queen had another little boy, the sisters substituted a dog and the king said, “What God does is well done;” but when she was delivered of a beautiful little girl, and they told the king she had this time born a cat, he grew angry and ordered the poor queen to be thrown into prison. On each occasion a fisherman who dwelt near the river drew the child from the water soon after it was thrown in, and having no children, his wife lovingly reared them. When they had grown up, the eldest once went with some other boys to fish, and they would not have him with them, saying to him, “Go away, foundling.” The boy, much grieved, goes to the fisherman 635and asks whether he is a foundling, and the old man tells him the whole story, upon which the youth, spite of the fisherman’s entreaties, at once sets off to seek his father. After walking for many days he came to a great river, by the side of which was an old woman fishing. He accosted her very respectfully, and she took him on her back and carried him across the water. When a year had gone by, the second boy set out in search of his brother, and the same happened to him as to the elder one. Then the girl went to look for her two brothers, and coming to the water she said to the old woman, “Good day, mother. May God help you with your fishing.” (The brothers had said to her that she would seek long enough before she caught any fish, and she replied, “And thou wilt seek long enough before thou findest thy father”—hence their failure in their quest.)

When the old woman heard that, she became quite friendly, and carried her over the water, gave her a wand, and said to her, “Go, my daughter, ever onwards by this road, and when you come to a great black dog, you must pass it silently and boldly, without either laughing or looking at it. Then you will come to a great high castle, on the threshold of which you must let the wand fall, and go straight through the castle and out again on the other side. There you will see an old fountain out of which a large tree has grown, whereon hangs a bird in a cage, which you must take down. Take likewise a glass of water out of the fountain, and with these two things go back by the same way. Pick up the wand again from the threshold and take it with you, and when you again pass by the dog strike him in the face with it, but be sure that you hit him, and then just come back here to me.” The maiden found everything exactly as the old woman had said, and on her way back she found her two brothers who had sought each other over half the world. They went together where the black dog was lying on the road; she struck it in the face and it turned into a handsome prince, who went with them to the river. There the old woman was still standing. She rejoiced much to see them again, and carried them all over the water, and then she too went away, for now she was freed. The others, however, went to the old fisherman, and all were glad that they had found each other again, and they hung the bird in its cage on the wall. But the second son could not settle at home, and took his crossbow and went a-hunting. When he was tired he took his flute and played on it. The king happened to be also hunting, and hearing the music went up to the youth, and said, “Who has given thee leave to hunt here?” “O, no one.” “To whom dost thou belong, then?” “I am the fisherman’s son.” “But he has no children.” “If thou wilt not believe it, come with me.” The king did so, and questioned the fisherman, who told the whole story, and the little bird on the wall began to sing:

“The mother sits alone
There in the prison small;
O King of the royal blood,
These are thy children all.
636The sisters twain, so false,
They wrought the children woe,
There in the waters deep,
Where the fishers come and go.”

Then the king took the fisherman, the three little children, and the bird back with him to the castle, and ordered his wife to be taken out of prison and brought before him. She had become very ill and weak, but her daughter gave her some of the water of the fountain to drink and she became strong and healthy. But the two false sisters were burnt, and the maiden was married to the Prince.

Even in Iceland, as already stated, the same tale has long cheered the hardy peasant’s fire-side circle, while the “wind without did roar and rustle.” That it should have reached that out-of-the-way country through Galland’s version is surely inconceivable, notwithstanding the general resemblance which it bears to the “Histoire des Deux Sœurs jalouses de leur Cadette.” It is found in Powell and Magnússon’s “Legends of Iceland,” second series, and as that excellent work is not often met with (and why so, I cannot understand), moreover, as the story is told with much naïveté, I give it here in full:


Not very far from a town where dwelt the king lived once upon a time a farmer. He was well to do and had three daughters; the eldest was twenty years of age, the two others younger, but both marriageable. Once, when they were walking outside their father’s farm, they saw the king coming riding on horseback with two followers, his secretary and his bootmaker. The king was unmarried, as were also those two men. When they saw him, the eldest of the sisters said, “I do not wish anything higher than to be the wife of the king’s shoemaker.” Said the second, “And I of the king’s secretary.” Then the youngest said, “I wish that I were the wife of the king himself.” Now the king heard that they were talking together, and said to his followers, “I will go to the girls yonder and know what it is they were talking about. It seemed to me that I heard one of them say, ‘The king himself.’” His followers said that what the girls had been chattering about could hardly be of much importance. The king did not heed this, however, but declared that they would all go to the girls and have a talk with them. This they did. The king then asked what they had been talking about a moment ago, when he and his men passed them. The sisters were unwilling to tell the truth, but being pressed hard by the king, did so at last. Now as the damsels pleased the king, and he saw that they were both handsome and fair-spoken, particularly the youngest of them, he said that all should be as they had wished it. The sisters were amazed at this, but the king’s will must be done.

So the three sisters were married, each to the husband she had chosen. 637But when the youngest sister had become queen, the others began to cast on her looks of envy and hatred, and would have her, at any cost, dragged down from her lofty position. And they laid a plot for the accomplishment of this their will. When the queen was going to be confined for the first time, her sisters got leave to act as her midwives. But as soon as the child was born they hid it away, and ordered it to be thrown into a slough into which all the filth was cast. But the man to whom they had entrusted this task could not bring himself to do it, so put the child on the bank of the slough, thinking that some one might find it and save its life. And so it fell out; for an old man chanced to pass the slough soon afterwards, and finding a crying child on the bank, thought it a strange find, took it up and brought it to his home, cherishing it as he could. The queen’s sisters took a whelp and showed it to the king as his queen’s offspring. The king was grieved at this tale, but, being as fond of the queen as of his own life, he restrained his anger and punished her not.

At the second and third confinement of the queen her sisters played the same trick: they exposed the queen’s children in order to have them drowned in the slough. The man, however, always left them on the bank, and it so happened that the same old carl always passed by and took up the children, and carried them home, and brought them up as best he could. The queen’s sisters said that the second time the queen was confined she had given birth to a kitten, and the third time, to a log of wood. At this the king waxed furiously wroth, and ordered the queen to be thrown into the house where he kept a lion, as he did not wish this monster to fill his kingdom with deformities. And the sisters thought that they had managed their boat well and were proud of their success. The lion, however, did not devour the queen, but even gave her part of his food and was friendly towards her, and thus the queen lived with the lion a wretched enough life, without anybody’s knowing anything about it.

Now the story turns to the old man who fostered the king’s children. The eldest of these, a boy, he called Vilhjámr, the second, also a boy, Sigurdr; the third child was a girl and her name is unknown. All that came to him, or with whom he met, the old man would ask if they knew nothing of the children he had found on the bank of the slough. But no one seemed to have the faintest notion about their birth or descent. As the children grew up they were hopeful and fine-looking. The carl had now waxed very old, and, expecting his end, he gave the children this rede, always to ask every one to whom they spoke for news of their family and birth, in order that they might perchance be able at last to trace out the truth. He himself told them all he knew about the matter. After this the old man died, and the children followed closely his advice. Once there came to them an old man, of whom they asked the same questions as of all others. He said he could not give them any hints on the matter himself, but that he could point out one to them who was able to do so. He told them that a short way from their farm was a large stone, whereupon was always sitting a bird 638which could both understand and speak the tongue of men. It would be best for them, he went on, to find this bird; but there was a difficulty in the matter to be got over first, for many had gone there but none had ever returned. He said that many king’s children had gone to this bird in order to know their future fate, but they had all come short in the very thing needed. He told them that whosoever wanted to mount the stone must be so steady as never to look back, whatever he might hear or see, or whatever wonders seemed to take place around the rock. All who did not succeed in this were changed into stones, together with everything they had with them. This steadiness no one had had yet, but whosoever had it could easily mount the rock, and having once done so would be able to quicken all the others who have been turned to stone there. For the top of the rock was flat, and there was a trap-door on it, wherein the bird was sitting. Underneath the trap-door was water, the nature of which was that it would turn all the stones back to life again. The old man ended by saying, “Now he who succeeds in getting to the top is allowed by the bird to take the water and sprinkle the stone-changed folk, and call them to life again, just as they were before.” This the king’s children thought no hard task. The brothers, however, were the most outspoken about the easiness of the thing. They thanked the old man much for his story and took leave of him.

Not long after this, Vilhjámr, the eldest brother, went to the rock. But before he left he said to his brother, that if three drops of blood should fall on his knife at table while he was away, Sigurdr should at once come to the rock, for then it would be sure that he fared like the others. So Vilhjámr went away, following the old man’s directions, and nothing further is told of him for a while. But after three days, or about the time when his brother should have reached the stone, three drops of blood fell upon Sigurdr’s knife, once, while at table. He was startled at this and told his sister that he must needs leave her, in order to help his brother. He made the same agreement with his sister as Vilhjámr had before made with him. Then he went away, and, to make the story short, all came to the same issue with him as with his brother, and the blood-drops fell on his sister’s knife, at the time when Sigurdr should have reached the stone.

Then the damsel went herself, to see what luck she might have. She succeeded in finding the rock, and when she came there she was greatly struck with the number of stones that surrounded it, in every shape and position. Some had the form of chests, others of various animals, while some again were in other forms. She paid no heed to all this, but going straight forward to the great rock began climbing it. Then she heard, all of a sudden, behind her a loud murmur of human voices, all talking, one louder than another, and amongst the number she heard those of her brothers. But she paid no heed to this, and took good care never to look back, in spite of all she heard going on behind her. Then she got at last to the top of the rock, and the bird greatly praised her steadiness and constancy and promised both to tell her anything she chose to ask him and to assist her in every way he could. First, she would have the surrounding stones recalled to their natural shapes 639and life. This the bird granted her, pointing to one of the stones and saying, “Methinks you would free that one from his spell, if you knew who he was.” So the king’s daughter sprinkled water over all the stones and they returned to life again, and thanked her for their release with many fair words. Next she asked the bird who were the parents of herself and her brothers, and to whom they might trace their descent. The bird said that they were the children of the king of that country, and told her how the queen’s sisters had acted by them at their birth, and last of all told her how her mother was in the lion’s den, and how she was nearer dead than alive from sorrow and want of good food and comfort.

The stone which the bird had pointed out to the princess was a king’s son, as noble as he was handsome. He cast affectionate looks to his life-giver and it was plain that each loved the other. It was he who had brought the greater part of the chest-shaped stones thither, the which were coffers full of gold and jewels. When the bird had told to every one that which each wanted to know, all the company of the disenchanted scattered, the three children and the wealthy prince going together. When they came home the first thing they did was to break into the lion’s den. They found their mother lying in a swoon, for she had lost her senses on hearing the house broken into. They took her away, and she soon afterwards recovered. Then they dressed her in fitting attire, and taking her to the palace asked audience of the king. This granted, Vilhjamr, Sigurdr, and their sister declared to the king that they were his children and that they had brought with them their mother from the lion’s den. The king was amazed at this story and at all that had happened. The sisters of the queen were sent for and questioned, and, having got into scrapes by differing in accounts, confessed at last their misdeed and told the truth. They were thrown before the same lion that the queen had been given to, and it tore them to pieces immediately and ate them up, hair and all.

Now the queen took her former rank, and a banquet was held in joy at this happy turn of affairs, and for many days the palace resounded with the glee of the feast. And at the end of it the foreign prince wooed the king’s daughter and gained easily her hand, and thus the banquet was begun afresh and became the young people’s marriage-feast. Such glee has never been witnessed in any other kingdom. After the feast the strange prince returned to his home with his bride and became king after his father. Vilhjamr also married and took the kingdom after his father. Sigurdr married a king’s daughter abroad, and became king after the death of his father-in-law; and all of them lived in luck and prosperity. And now is the story ended.

From bleak Iceland to sunny India is certainly a “far cry,” but we had already got half-way thither in citing the Egypto-Arabian versions, and then turned westwards and northwards. We must now, however, go all the way to Bengal for our next form of the story, which is much simpler in construction than any of the foregoing versions, and may be considered as a transition 640stage of the tale in its migration to Europe. This is an abridgment of the story—not of Envious Sisters but of jealous co-wives—from the Rev. Lal Behari Day’s “Folk-Tales of Bengal,”[182] a work of no small value to students of the genealogy of popular fictions:


A certain King had six wives, none of whom had children, in spite of doctors and all sorts of doctors’ stuff. He was advised by his ministers to take a seventh wife. There was in the city a poor woman who earned her livelihood by gathering cow-dung from the fields, kneading it into cakes, which, after drying in the sun, she sold for fuel. She had a very beautiful daughter, who had contracted friendship with three girls much above her rank, namely, the daughter of the King’s minister, the daughter of a rich merchant, and the daughter of the King’s chaplain. It happened one day that all four were bathing together in a tank near the palace, and the King overheard them conversing as follows: Said the minister’s daughter, “The man who marries me won’t need to buy me any clothes, for the cloth I once put on never gets soiled, never gets old, and never tears.” The merchant’s daughter said, “And my husband will also be a happy man, for the fuel which I use in cooking never turns to ashes, but serves from day to day, and from year to year.” Quoth the chaplain’s daughter, “My husband too will be a happy man, for when once I cook rice it never gets finished; no matter how much we may eat, the original quantity always remains in the pot.”[183] Then said the poor woman’s daughter, “And the man who marries me will also be happy, for I shall give birth to twin children, a son and a daughter; the girl will be divinely beautiful, and the boy will have a moon on his forehead and stars on the palms of his hands.”

The King didn’t care to have any of the three young ladies, but resolved at once to marry the fourth girl, who would present him with such extraordinary twin children, notwithstanding her humble birth, and their nuptials were celebrated in due form, much to the chagrin of his six wives. Some time after the King had occasion to go for six months to another part of his dominions, and when about to set out he told his new wife that he expected her to be confined before the period of his absence was expired, and that he would like to be present with her at the time, lest her enemies (her co-wives) might do her some injury. So giving her a golden bell he bade her hang it in her room, and when the pains of labour came on to ring it, and he would be with her in a moment, no matter where he might be at the time; but she must only ring it when her labour pains began. The six other wives had overheard all this, and the day after the King had departed went to the new wife’s room and affected to admire the golden bell, and asked her where she got it and what was its use. The unsuspecting 641creature told them its purpose, upon which they all exclaimed that it was impossible the King could hear it ring at the distance of hundreds of miles, and besides, how could the King travel such a distance in the twinkling of an eye? They urged her to ring the bell and convince herself that what the King had said to her was all nonsense. So she rang the bell, and the King instantly appeared, and seeing her going about as usual, he asked her why she had summoned him before her time. Without saying anything about the six other wives, she replied that she had rung the bell merely out of curiosity to know if what he had said was true. The King was angry, and, telling her distinctly she was not to ring the bell until the labour pains came upon her, went away again. Some weeks after the six wives once more induced her to ring the bell, and when the King appeared and found she was not about to be confined and that she had been merely making another trial of the bell (for, as on the former occasion, she did not say that her co-wives had instigated her), he was greatly enraged, and told her that even should she ring when in the throes of childbirth he should not come to her, and then went away. At last the day of her confinement arrived, and when she rang the bell the King did not come.[184] The six jealous wives seeing this went to her and said that it was not customary for the ladies of the palace to be confined in the royal apartments, and that she must go to a hut near the stables. They then sent for the midwife of the palace, and heavily bribed her to make away with the infant the moment it was born. The seventh wife gave birth, as she had promised, to a son who had a moon on his forehead and stars on the palms of his hands, and also to an uncommonly beautiful girl. The midwife had come provided with a couple of newly-littered pups, which she set before the mother, saying, “You have given birth to these,” and took away the twin children in an earthen vessel, while the mother was insensible. The King, though he was angry with his seventh wife, yet recollecting that she was to give birth to an heir to his throne, changed his mind, and came to see her the next morning. The pups were produced before the King as the offspring of his new wife, and great was his anger and vexation. He gave orders that she should be expelled from the palace, clothed in leather, and employed in the market-place to drive away crows and keep off dogs, all of which was done accordingly.

The midwife placed the vessel containing the twins along with the unburnt clay vessels which a potter had set in order and then gone to sleep, intending to get up during the night and light his furnace; in this way she thought the little innocents would be reduced to ashes. It happened, however, that the potter and his wife overslept themselves that night, and it was near daybreak when the woman awoke and roused her husband. She then hastened to the furnace, and to her surprise found all the pots thoroughly baked, although no fire had been applied to them. Wondering at such good luck, she summoned her husband, who was equally astonished and pleased, and attributed it all to 642some benevolent deity. In turning over the pots he came upon the one in which the twins were placed, and the wife looking on them as a gift from heaven (for she had no children) carried them into the house and gave out to the neighbours that they had been borne by herself. The children grew in stature and in strength and when they played in the fields were the admiration of every one that saw them. They were about twelve years of age when the potter died, and his wife threw herself on the pyre and was burnt with her husband’s body. The boy with the moon on his forehead (which he always kept concealed with a turban, lest it should attract notice) and his beautiful sister now broke up the potter’s establishment, sold his wheel and pots and pans, and went to the bazár in the King’s city, which they had no sooner entered than it was lit up brilliantly. The shopkeepers thought them divine beings and built a house for them in the bazár. And when they used to ramble about they were always followed at a distance by the woman clothed in leather who was appointed by the King to drive away the crows, and by some strange impulse, she also used to hang about their house.[185]

The youth presently bought a horse and went hunting in the neighbouring jungles. It happened one day, while following the chase, that the King met him, and, struck with his beauty, felt an unaccountable yearning for him.[185] As a deer went past the youth shot an arrow and in so doing his turban fell off, on which a bright light, like that of the moon, was seen shining on his forehead. When the King perceived this, it brought to his mind the son with the moon on his forehead and stars on the palms of his hands who was to have been born of his seventh queen, and would have spoken with the youth, but he immediately galloped off. When the King reached home his six wives observing his sadness asked him its cause, and he told them of the youth he had seen in the forest with a moon on his forehead. They began to wonder if the twins were not still alive, and sending for the midwife closely questioned her as to the fate of the children. She stoutly declared that she had herself seen them burnt to ashes, but she would find out who the youth was whom the King had met while hunting. She soon ascertained that two strangers were living in a house in the bazár which the shopkeepers had built for them, and when she entered the house the girl was alone, her brother having gone into the jungle to hunt. Pretending to be her aunt, the old woman said to her, “My dear child, you are so beautiful, you require only the kataki[186] flower to properly set off your charms. You should tell your brother to plant a row of that flower in your courtyard.” “I never saw that flower,” said the girl. “Of course not; how could you? It does not grow in this country, but on the other side of the ocean. Your brother may try and get it for you, if you ask him.” This suggestion the old trot made in the hope that the lad would lose his life in 643venturing to obtain the flower. When he returned and his sister told him of the visit of their aunt and asked him to get her the kataki flower, on which she had set her heart, he at once consented, albeit he thought the woman had imposed upon his sister by calling herself their aunt.

Next morning he rode off on his fleet horse, and arriving on the borders of an immense forest he saw a number of rákshasí[187] roaming about, he went aside and shot with his arrows some deer and rhinoceroses and then approaching the rákshasís called out, “O auntie dear, your nephew is here.” A huge rakshasí strode towards him and said, “O, you are the youth with the moon on your forehead and stars on the palms of your hands. We were all expecting you, but as you have called me aunt, I will not eat you. What is it you want? Have you brought anything for me to eat?” The youth gave her the game he had killed, and she began devouring it. After swallowing all the carcases she said, “Well, what do you want?” He answered, “I want some kataki flowers for my sister.” She told him it would be very difficult for him to get them, as they were guarded by seven hundred rákshasas, but if he was determined to attempt it, he had better first go to his uncle on the north side of the jungle. He goes, and greets the rákshasa, calling him uncle, and having regaled him with deer and rhinoceroses as he had done his “aunt,” the rákshasa tells him that in order to obtain the flower he must go through an impenetrable forest of kachiri[188], and say to it, “O mother kachiri, make way for me, else I perish,” upon which a passage will be opened for him. Next he will come to the ocean, which he must petition in the same terms, and it would make a way for him. After crossing the ocean he’ll come to the gardens where the kataki blooms. The forest opens a passage for the youth, and the ocean stands up like two walls on either side of him, so that he passes over dryshod.[189] He enters the gardens and finds himself in a grand palace which appeared unoccupied. In one of the apartments he sees a young damsel of more than earthly beauty asleep on a golden bed, and going near discovers a stick of gold lying near her head and a stick of silver near her feet. Taking them in his hand, by accident the gold stick fell upon the feet of the sleeping beauty, when she instantly awoke, and told him she knew that he was the youth with the moon on his forehead and stars on the palms of his hands; that the seven hundred rákshasas who guarded the kataki flowers were then out hunting, but would return by sundown, and should they find him they’d eat him. A rákshasí had brought her from her father’s palace, and is so fond of her that she will not allow her to return home. By means of the gold and silver sticks the rákshasí kills her when she goes off in the morning, and by means of them also she is 644revived when she comes back in the evening. He had better flee and save his life. But the youth told her he would not go away without the kataki flower, moreover, that he would take her also with him. They spent the day in walking about the gardens, and when it was drawing near the time for the return of the rákshasas, the youth concealed himself under a great heap of the kataki flower which was in one of the rooms, having first “killed” the damsel by touching her head with the golden stick. The return of the seven hundred rákshasas was like the noise of a mighty tempest. One of them entered the damsel’s room and revived her, saying at the same time, “I smell a human being!”[190] The damsel replied, “How can a human being come to this place?” and the rákshasa was satisfied. During the night the damsel worms out of the rákshasí who was her mistress the secret that the lives of the seven hundred rákshasas depended on the lives of a male and female bee, which were in a wooden box at the bottom of a tank, and that the only person who could seize and kill those bees was a youth with a moon on his forehead and stars on the palms of his hands—but there could be no such youth, and so their lives were safe.[191] When the rákshasas had all gone out as usual next morning, the damsel, having been revived by the youth, told him how the demons could be killed, and, to be brief, he was not slow to put her directions into practice. After the death of the seven hundred rákshasas, the youth took some of the kataki flowers and left the palace accompanied by the beautiful damsel, whose name was Pushpavati. They passed through the ocean and forest of kachiri in safety, and arriving at the house in the bazár the youth with the moon on his forehead presented the kataki flower to his sister. Going out to hunt the next day, he met the king, and his turban again falling off as he shot an arrow, the King saw the moon on his forehead and desired his friendship. The youth invited the King to his house, and he went thither at midday. Pushpavati then told the King (for she knew the whole story from first to last) how his seventh wife had been induced by his six other wives to ring the bell twice needlessly; how she gave birth to a boy and a girl, and pups were substituted for them; how the twins were miraculously saved and brought up in the house of a potter, and so forth. When she had concluded the King was highly enraged, and next day caused his six wicked wives to be buried alive. The seventh queen was brought from the market-place and reinstated in the palace, and the youth with a moon on his forehead and stars on the palms of his hands lived happily with his beautiful twin-sister.

645In two other Hindú versions known to me—but the story is doubtless as widely spread over India as we have seen it to be over Europe—only the leading idea of Galland’s tale reappears, though one of them suggests the romance of “Helyas, the Knight of the Swan,” namely, the story called “Truth’s Triumph,” in Miss Frere’s “Old Deccan Days,” p. 55 ff. Here a rájá and his minister walking together come to a large garden, where is a bringal-tree bearing 100 fruits but having no leaves, and the minister says to the rájá that whosoever should marry the gardener’s daughter should have by her 100 boys and one girl. The rájá espoused the maiden, much to the vexation of the 12 wives he had already, and then follows a repetition of the golden bell affair, as in the Bengalí version. Drapadi Bai, the gardener’s daughter and the new rání, gives birth “right off,” to 100 sons and a daughter, all of whom are thrown by the nurse on a dust-heap in which are a great number of rat-holes, the jealous co-wives fully expecting that the voracious rodents would quickly eat them up. The nurse tells the young rání that her children had turned into stones; such is also the story the 12 co-wives tell the rájá on his return, and he orders poor Drapadi Bai to be imprisoned for life. But the rats, so far from devouring the children, nourished them with the utmost care. It comes to the knowledge of the 12 co-wives that the children are still alive; they are discovered and turned into crows—all save the little girl, who luckily escapes the fate of her 100 brothers, gets married to a great rájá, and has a son named Ramchandra, who effected the restoration to human form of his crow-uncles by means of magic water which he obtained from a rákshasí.

The other story referred to is No. xx. of Miss Stokes’ “Indian Fairy Tales,” which Mr. Coote could not have read, else he would not have been at the trouble to maintain it was impossible that Galland derived his tale from it: “so long,” says he, “as that story remained in the country of its birth—India—it was absolutely inaccessible to him, for, great traveller as he was, he never visited that far-off portion of the East.” The fact is, this Hindú story only resembles Galland’s, and that remotely, in the opening portion. Seven daughters of a poor man played daily under the shady trees in the king’s garden with the gardener’s daughter, and she used to say to them, “When I am married I shall have a son—such a beautiful boy as he will be has never been seen. He will have a moon on his forehead and a star on his chin,” and they all laughed at her. The king, having overheard what she so often repeated, married her, though he had already four wives. Then follows the golden bell affair again, with a kettledrum substituted. When the young queen is about to be confined her co-wives tell her it is the custom to bind the eyes of women in her condition, to which she submits, and after she has borne the wonderful boy she promised to do, they tell her she has been delivered of a stone. The king degraded her to the condition of a kitchen servant and never spoke to her. The nurse takes the baby in a box and buries it in the jungle. But the king’s dog had followed her, and when she went 646off he took the box out of the earth and swallowed the baby. Six months after the dog brings him up, caresses him and swallows him again. He does likewise at the end of a year, and the dog’s keeper, having seen all told the four wives. They say to the king the dog had torn their clothes, and he replies, he’ll have the brute shot to-morrow. The dog overhears this and runs off to the king’s cow; he induces her to save the child by swallowing him, and the cow consents. Next day the dog is shot, and so on: the cow is to be killed and induces the king’s horse to swallow the child, and so on.—There may have been originally some mystical signification attached to this part of the tale, but it has certainly no connection with our story.[192]

I had nearly omitted an Arabian version of the outcast infants which seems to have hitherto escaped notice by story-comparers. Moreover, it occurs in a text of The Nights, to wit, the Wortley-Montague MS., Nights 472–483, in the story of Abou Neeut and Abou Neeuteen = Abú Niyyet and Abú Niyyeteyn, according to Dr. Redhouse; one of those translated by Jonathan Scott in vol. vi. of his edition of the “Arabian Nights,” where, at p. 227, the hero marries the King’s youngest daughter and the King in dying leaves him heir to his throne, a bequest which is disputed by the husbands of the two elder daughters. The young queen is brought to bed of a son, and her sisters bribe the midwife to declare that she has given birth to a dog and throw the infant at the gate of one of the royal palaces. The same occurs when a second son is born. But at the third lying-in of the princess her husband takes care to be present, and the beautiful daughter she brings forth is saved from the clutches of her vindictive sisters. The two little princes are taken up by a gardener and reared as his own children. In course of time, it happened that the King (Abú Neeut) and his daughter visited the garden and saw the two little boys playing together and the young princess felt an instinctive affection for them, and the King, finding them engaged in martial play, making clay-horses, bows and arrows, &c., had the curiosity to inquire into their history. The dates when they were found agreed with those of the queen’s delivery; the midwife also confessed; and the King left the guilty parties to be punished by the pangs of their own consciences, being convinced that envy is the worst of torments. The two young princes were formally acknowledged and grew up to follow their father’s example.

We must go back to India once more if we would trace our tale to what is perhaps its primitive form, and that is probably of Buddhist invention; though 647it is quite possible this may be one of the numerous fictions which have been time out of mind the common heritage of nearly all peoples, and some of which the early Buddhists adapted to their own purposes. Be this as it may, in the following tale, from Dr. Mitra’s “Sanskrit Buddhist Literature of Nepál” (Calcutta: 1882), pp. 65, 66, we seem to have somewhat like the germ of the Envious Sisters:


King Brahmadatta picked up in Kampilla a destitute girl named Padmávatí, who scattered lotuses at every step she moved, and made her his favourite queen. She was very simple-minded. Other queens used to play tricks upon her, and at the time of her first delivery cheated her most shamefully. The wicked ladies said to her on that occasion, “Dear Padmá, you are a rustic girl; you do not know how to give birth to a royal child. Let us help you.” She yielded. They covered her eyes, threw into the river the twin boys she had brought forth, and smeared her face with blood. They deceived her by telling her that it was only a lump of flesh that she had given birth to, and it had been thrown into the river. At the same time they informed her husband that Padmá had eaten up her two new-born sons. The King enraged at her inhuman conduct, ordered her to instant execution. But there was a shrewd man in the court who privately saved her life. A divinity appeared to the King in a dream, and revealed the whole truth to him. The King made a strict investigation in the harem, and found that Padmávatí had been perfectly innocent. He became disconsolate, and gave vent to loud lamentations. Soon after some fishermen appeared at court and presented the King with two infants, who betrayed their royal lineage by the resemblance which their features bore to those of the King. They were reported to have been found in a vessel floating on the river. The courtier who saved Padmá’s life now wished to produce her before the King, but she refused to return and proceeded to her father’s hermitage. After the death of her father she travelled through various places in the habit of a devotee; and in the course of her peregrinations she stopped at Banáres, from whence Brahmadatta conducted her to his capital with great honour.

I am of opinion that this Buddhist tale is the original form of the “Envious Sisters”—that it ended with the restoration of the children and the vindication of the innocence of their mother. The second part of our story has no necessary connection with the first, the elements of which it is composed being found in scores—nay, hundreds—of popular fictions in every country: the quest of wonderful or magical objects; one brother setting out, and by neglecting to follow the advice tendered him by some person he meets on his way, he comes to grief; a second brother follows, with the same result; and it is reserved for the youngest, and the least esteemed, to successfully accomplish the adventure. 648In the second part of the “Envious Sisters,” the girl, the youngest of the three children, plays the part of the usual hero of folk-tales of this class. There is, generally, a seemingly wretched old man—a hideous, misshapen dwarf—or an ugly, decrepit old woman—who is treated with rudeness by the two elder adventurers, so they do not speed in their enterprise; but the youngest addresses the person in respectful terms—shares his only loaf with him—and is rewarded by counsel which enables him to bring his adventure to a successful end. In the “Envious Sisters,” which I cannot but think Galland has garbled from his original, the eldest clips the beard of the hermit, and presumably the second does the same, since we are told he found the hermit in the like condition (albeit, his beard had been trimmed but a few days before). Each of them receives the same instructions. In a true folk-tale the two elder brothers would treat the old man with contempt and suffer accordingly, while the youngest would cut his nails and his beard, and make him more comfortable in his person. We do not require to go to Asiatic folk-lore for tales in which the elements of the second part of the “Envious Sisters” are to be found. In the German story of the Fox’s Brush there is a quest of a golden bird. The first brother sets off in high hope; on the road he sees a fox, who calls out to him not to shoot at it, and says that farther along the road are two inns, one of which is bright and cheerful looking, and he should not go into it, but rather into the other, even though it does not look very inviting. He shoots at the fox and misses it, then continues his journey, and puts up at the fine inn, where amidst riot and revel he forgets all about the business on which he had set out. The same happens to the second brother. But the youngest says to the fox that he will not shoot it, and the fox takes him on its tail to the small inn, where he passes a quiet night, and in the morning is conveyed by the fox to the castle, wherein is the golden bird in a wooden cage, and so on. Analogous stories to this are plentiful throughout Europe and Asia; there is one, I think, in the Wortley Montague MS. of The Nights.

In Straparola’s version of the “Envious Sisters,” when the children’s hair is combed pearls and precious stones fall out of it, whereby their foster-parents become rich; this is only hinted at in Galland’s story: the boy’s hair “should be golden on one side and silvern on the other; when weeping he should drop pearls in place of tears, and when laughing his rosy lips should be fresh as the blossom new-blown;” not another word is afterwards said of this, while in the modern Arabic version the children are finally identified by their mother through such peculiarities. The silver chains with which the children are born in the romance of “Helyas, the Knight of the Swan,” correspond with the “gold star” etc. on the forehead in other stories. It only remains to observe that the Bird of our tale who in the end relates the history of the children to their father, is represented in the modern Arabic version by the fairy Arab Zandyk, in the modern Greek by Tzitzinæna, and in the Albanian by the Belle of the Earth.




The Dream of Riches.—In Croker’s Irish Fairy Legends there is a droll version of this story, entitled “Dreaming Tim Jarvis.” Honest Tim, we are told, “took to sleeping, and the sleep set him dreaming, and he dreamed all night, and night after night, about crocks full of gold.... At last he dreamt that he found a mighty great crock of gold and silver, and where, do you think? Every step of the way upon London Bridge itself! Twice Tim dreamt it, and three times Tim dreamt the same thing; and at last he made up his mind to transport himself, and go over to London, in Pat Mahoney’s coaster—and so he did!” Tim walks on London Bridge day after day until he sees a man with great black whiskers and a black cloak that reached down to the ground, who accosts him, and he tells the strange man about his dream. “Ho! ho!” says the strange man, “is that all, Tim? I had a dream myself and I dreamed that I found a crock of gold in the Fort field, on Jerry Driscoll’s ground at Balledehob, and, by the same token, the pit where it lay was close to a large furze bush, all full of yellow blossom.” Tim hastens back to his old place, sells his cabin and garden, and buys the piece of waste ground so minutely described by the man with black whiskers, finds the pit, jumps into it, and is among the fairies, who give him leave to stuff his pockets with gold; but when he returns to upper earth he discovers that he has got only a handful of small stones mixed with yellow furze blossoms.

In a note appended to this tale, Croker cites the following from Grimm’s “Deutsche Sagan,” vol. i. p. 290: A man once dreamed that if he went to Regensburg and walked on the bridge he should become rich. He went accordingly; and when he had spent near a fortnight walking backwards and forwards on the bridge, a rich merchant came up to him, wondering what he was doing there every day, and asked him what he was looking for. He answered that he had dreamed if he would go to the bridge of Regensburg he should become rich. “Ha!” said the merchant, “what do you say about dreams?—Dreams are but froth (Träume sind Schäume). I too have dreamed that there is buried under yonder large tree (pointing to it) a great kettle full of money; but I gave no heed to this, for dreams are froth.” The man went immediately and dug under the tree, and there he got a treasure, which made a rich man of him, and so his dream was accomplished.—The same story is told of a baker’s boy at Lubeck, who dreamed that he should find a treasure on the bridge; there he met a beggar, who said he had dreamed there was one under a lime-tree in the churchyard of Möllen, but he would not take the trouble of going there. The baker’s boy went, and got the treasure.—It is curious to 650observe that all the European versions of the story have reference to a bridge, and it must have been brought westward in this form.

The Quest of the Image.—It has only now occurred to my mind that there is a very similar story in the romance of the Four Dervishes (“Kissa-i-Chehár Darwesh”), a Persian work written in the 13th century, and rendered into Urdú about 80 years ago, under the title of “Bagh o Bahár” (Garden of Spring), of which an English translation was made by L. F. Smith, which was afterwards improved by Duncan Forbes. There the images are of monkeys—a circumstance which seems to point to an Indian origin of the story—but the hero falls in love with the spotless girl, and the jinn-king takes possession of her, though he is ultimately compelled to give her up.—The fact of this story of the quest of the lacking image being found in the Persian language is another proof that the tales in The Nights were largely derived from Persian story-books.


There is a distorted reflection of the story in M. René Basset’s recently published “Contes Populaires Berbères,” No. xxix., which is to this effect: A taleb proclaims, “Who will sell himself for 100 mitqals?” One offers; the Kádí ratifies the sale; the (now) slave gives the money to his mother, and follows the taleb. Away they go. The taleb repeats certain words, upon which the earth opens, and he sends down the slave for “the candlestick, the reed, and the box.” The slave hides the box in his pocket and says he did not find it. They go off, and after a time the slave discovers that his master has disappeared. He returns home, hires a house, opens the box, and finds a cloth of silk with seven folds; he undoes one of them, whereupon genii swarm about the room, and a girl appears who dances till break of day. This occurs every night. The king happens to be out on a nocturnal adventure, and hearing a noise, enters the house and is amused till morning. He sends for the box to be brought to the palace, gives the owner his daughter in marriage, and continues to divert himself with the box till his death, when his son-in-law succeeds him on the throne.


My obliging friend, Mr. W. F. Kirby, who contributed to the 10th volume of Sir Richard’s Nights proper the very able Bibliographical Essay, has drawn my attention to an analogue of this tale in Geldart’s Folk-Lore of Modern Greece: There were two brothers, one of whom was wealthy and had four children, who were in feeble health, the other was poor and had seven 651children, who were in robust health. The poor brother’s wife, begging relief, was allowed to come twice a week to the house of the rich brother to bake bread. Her children were starving, but the rich people gave the mother nothing for several days, and all she could do was to wash the dough off her hands for the children, who thrived, and the rich man, discovering the cause, made his wife compel the poor woman to wash her hands before she left the house. The father found his children crying for food, and pretended to go to the wood for herbs, but really purposing to kill himself by falling from a crag. But seeing a great castle, he determined first to ascertain what it was, so he went near, and, having climbed a tree, saw forty-nine dragons come out. When they were gone he entered, and found a treasure, filled his bag, and hurried away. On his return home he found his wife weeping bitterly, but when he showed her the treasure, she said the first thing was to buy oil to light a lamp to our Lady. Next day they bought a house, and moved into it, but agreed only to buy what they needed for each day’s use and nothing they could do without. For two months they went often to church and helped the poor, till, one day, the wife of the rich man, who had met with losses lately, called for them and was hospitably received. She heard the story of the treasure, and the poor man offered to show his brother the place. The rich brother miscounted the dragons as they left the castle, and the one left to watch killed and quartered him. Two days afterwards his brother went to look for him, brought home the severed body, and got a tailor to sew the quarters together. Next day the dragons called on the tailor to make them coats and shoes (sic), and heard of his sewing together the body. He showed them the house, and forty-eight dragons got into chests, which the forty-ninth deposited with the poor man. The children, playing about the chests, heard the dragons say, “Would that it were night, that we might eat them all!” So the father took forty-eight spits and made them red hot, and thrust them into the chests, and then said that a trick had been played upon him, and sent his servant to throw them one by one into the sea. As often as the servant returned he pretended to him that he did not throw the chest far enough and it had come back and thus he disposed of the whole number. In the morning when the last dragon came, the poor man told him one chest was found open: he was seized with fear, pushed in and spitted like the others, and the poor man became possessor of the dragons’ castle.

There can be no doubt, I think, that this story owes nothing to Galland, but that it is a popular Greek version of the original Asiatic tale, of which Galland’s “Ali Baba” is probably a fair reflection. The device of pretending to the servant that the dragon he had thrown into the sea was returned has its exact analogue in the humorous fabliau of “Les Trois Bossus,” where a rustic is made to believe that each of the hunchbacks had come back again, with the addition that, on returning from the river the third time, he seizes the lady’s hunchbacked husband and effectually disposes of him.



Though my paper on this tale is of considerable length, it would perhaps have been deemed intolerably long had I cited all the versions of the first part—the quest of the most wonderful thing—which are current in Europe, for it is found everywhere, though with few variations of importance. There are two, however, of which I may furnish the outlines in this place.

In the “Pentamerone” of Basile,[193] a man sends his five sons into the world to learn something. The eldest becomes a master-thief; the second has learned the trade of shipwright; the third has become a skilful archer; the fourth has found an herb which brings the dead to life; and the youngest has learned the speech of birds. Soon after they have returned home, they set out with their father to liberate a princess who had been stolen by a wild man, and by the exercise of their several arts succeed in their adventure. While they quarrel as to which of them had by his efforts done most to deserve the princess for wife, the king gives her to the father, as the stock of all those branches.

In the 45th of Laura Gonzenbach’s “Sicilianische Märchen,” the king’s daughter is stolen by a giant and recovered by the seven sons of a poor woman. The eldest can run like the wind; the second can hear, when he puts his ear to the ground, all that goes on in the world; the third can with a blow of his fist break through seven iron doors; the fourth is a thief; the fifth can build an iron tower with a blow of his fist; the sixth is an unfailing shot; the seventh has a guitar which can awaken the dead. Youths thus wonderfully endowed figure in many tales, but generally as the servants of the hero.

By comparing the different European versions it will be found that some are similar to the first part of the tale of Prince Ahmad, insomuch as the brothers become possessed of certain wonderful things which are each instrumental in saving the damsel’s life; while others more closely approach the oldest known form of the story, in representing the heroes as being endowed with some extraordinary kind of power, by means of which they rescue the damsel from a giant who had carried her off. It is curious to observe that in the “Sindibád Náma” version the damsel is both carried off by a demon and at death’s door, which is not the case of any other Asiatic form of the story.



1.  i.e. Daddy Abdullah; the former is used in Pers. Turk. and Hindostani for dad! dear! child! and for the latter, see vol. v. 141.

2.  Here the Arab. syn. of the Pers. “Darwaysh,” which Egyptians pronounce “Darwísh.” In the Nile Valley the once revered title has been debased to an insult = “poor devil” (see Pilgrimage i, pp. 20–22); “Fakír” also has come to signify a Koran-chaunter.

3.  To “Nakh” is to make the camel kneel. See vol. ii. 139, and its references.

4.  As a sign that he parted willingly with all his possessions.

5.  Arab. “’Ubb” prop. = the bulge between the breast and the outer robe which is girdled round the waist to make a pouch. See vol. viii. 205.

6.  Thirst very justly takes precedence of hunger: a man may fast for forty days, but without water in a tropical country he would die within a week. For a description of the horrors of thirst see my “First Footsteps in East Africa,” pp. 387–8.

7.  In Galland it is Sidi Nouman; in many English translations, as in the “Lucknow” (Newul Kishore Press, 1880), it has become “Sidi Nonman.” The word has occurred in King Omar bin al-Nu’uman, vol. ii. 77 and 325, and vol. v. 74. For Sídí = my lord, see vol. v. 283; Byron, in The Corsair, ii. 2, seems to mistake it for “Sayyid.”

High in his hall reclines the turban’d Seyd,
Around—the bearded chiefs he came to lead.

8.  The Turco-English form of the Persian “Puláo.”

9.  i.e. the secure (fem.). It was the name of the famous concubine of Solomon to whom he entrusted his ring (vol. vi. 84); also of the mother of Mohammed who having taken her son to Al-Medinah (Yathrib) died on the return journey. I cannot understand why the Apostle of Al-Islam, according to his biographers and commentators, refused to pray for his parent’s soul, she having been born in Al-Fitrah (the interval between the fall of Christianity and the birth of Al-Islam), when he had not begun to preach his “dispensation.” See Tabari, ii. 450.

10.  The cane-play: see vol. vi. 263.

11.  Galland has une Goule, i.e. a Ghúlah, a she-Ghúl, an ogress. But the lady was supping with a male of that species, for which see vols. i. 55; vi. 36.

12.  In the text “Wazífah” prop. = a task, a stipend, a salary; but here = the “Farz” devotions which he considered to be his duty. In Spitta-Bey (loc. cit. p. 218) it is = duty, office, position.

13.  For this scene which is one of every day in the East; see Pilgrimage ii. pp. 52–54.

14.  This hate of the friend of man is inherited from Jewish ancestors; and, wherever the Hebrew element prevails, the muzzle, which has lately made its appearance in London, is strictly enforced, as at Trieste. Amongst the many boons which civilisation has conferred upon Cairo I may note hydrophobia; formerly unknown in Egypt the dreadful disease has lately caused more than one death. In India sporadic cases have at rare times occurred in my own knowledge since 1845.

15.  In Galland “Rougeau” = (for Rougeaud?) a red-faced (man), etc., and in the English version “Chance”: “Bakht” = luck, good fortune.

16.  In the text “Sarráf” = a money-changer. See vols. i. 210; iv. 270.

17.  Galland has forgotten this necessary detail: see vol. i. 30 and elsewhere. In Lane’s Story of the man metamorphosed to an ass, the old woman, “quickly covering her face, declared the fact.”

18.  In the normal forms of this story, which Galland has told very badly, the maiden would have married the man she saved.

19.  In other similar tales the injured one inflicts such penalty by the express command of his preserver who takes strong measures to ensure obedience.

20.  In the more finished tales of the true “Nights” the mare would have been restored to human shape after giving the best security for good conduct in time to come.

21.  i.e. Master Hasan the Ropemaker. Galland writes, after European fashion, “Hassan,” for which see vol. i. 251; and for “Khwájah” vol. vi. 146. “Al-Habbál” was the cognomen of a learned “Háfiz” (= traditionist and Koran reader), Abú Ishák Ibrahim, in Ibn Khall. ii. 262; for another see iv. 410.

22.  “Sa’d” = prosperity and “Sa’dí” = prosperous; the surname of the “Persian moralist,” for whom see my friend F. F. Arbuthnot’s pleasant booklet, “Persian Portraits” (London, Quaritch, 1887).

23.  This is true to nature as may be seen any day at Bombay. The crows are equally audacious, and are dangerous to men lying wounded in solitary places.

24.  The Pers. “Gil-i-sar-shúl” (= head-washing clay), the Sindi “Met,” and the Arab. “Tafl,” a kind of clay much used in Persia, Afghanistan, Sind, etc. Galland turns it into terre à decrasser and his English translators into “scouring sand which women use in baths.” This argillaceous earth mixed with mustard oil is locally used for clay and when rose-leaves and perfumes are used, it makes a tolerable wash-ball. See “Scinde or The Unhappy Valley,” i. 31.

25.  For the “Cowrie” (Cypræa moneta) see vol. iv. 77. The Bádám or Bídám (almond) used by way of small change in India, I have noted elsewhere.

26.  Galland has “un morceau de plomb,” which in the Hindi text becomes “Shíshah-ká-paysá” = a (pice) small coin of glass: the translator also terms it a “Faddah,” for which see Nusf (alias “Nuss”), vols. ii. 37; vi. 214 and ix. 139, 167. Glass tokens, by way of coins, were until late years made at Hebron, in Southern Syria.

27.  For the “Ták” or “Tákah” = the little wall-niche, see vol. vii. 361.

28.  In the French and English versions the coin is a bit of lead for weighting the net. For the “Paysá” (pice) = two farthings, and in weight = half an ounce, see Herklot’s Glossary, p. xcviii.

29.  In the text “bilisht” = the long span between thumb-tip and minimus-tip. Galland says long plus d’une coudée et gros à proportion.

30.  For the diamond (Arab. “Almás” from ἀδάμας, and in Hind. “Hírá” and “Panná”) see vols. vi. 15, ix. 325; and in latter correct, “Euritic,” a misprint for “dioritic.” I still cannot believe diamond-cutting to be an Indian art, and I must hold that it was known to the ancients. It could not have been an unpolished stone, that “Adamas notissimus” which according to Juvenal (vi. 156) Agrippa gave to his sister. Maundeville (A.D. 1322) has a long account of the mineral, “so hard that no man can polish it,” and called Hamese (“Almás?”). For Mr. Petrie and his theory, see vol. ix. 325. In most places where the diamond has been discovered of late years it had been used as a magic stone, e.g., by the Pagés or medicine-men of the Brazil, or for children’s playthings, which was the case with the South-African “Caffres.”

31.  These stones, especially the carbuncle, which give out light in darkness are a commonplace of Eastern folk-lore. For luminous jewels in folk-lore, see Mr. Clouston (i. 412.): the belief is not wholly extinct in England, and I have often heard of it in the Brazil and upon the African Gaboon. It appears to me that there may be a basis of fact to this fancy, the abnormal effect of precious stones upon mesmeric “sensitives.”

32.  The chimney and chimney-piece of Galland are not Eastern: the H. V. uses “Bukhárí” = a place for steaming.

33.  i.e. “Rachel.”

34.  In the text “lakh,” the Anglicised “lac” = 100,000.

35.  This use of camphor is noted by Gibbon (D. and F. iii. 195.)

36.  “Áb o hawá” = climate: see vol. ii. 4.

37.  Galland makes this article a linen cloth wrapped about the skull-cap or core of the turban.

38.  Mr. Coote (loc. cit. p. 185) is unable to produce a puramythe containing all of “Ali Bába;” but, for the two leading incidents he quotes from Prof. Sakellarios two tales collected in Cyprus. One is Morgiana marking the village doors (p. 187), which has occurred doubtless a hundred times. The other, in the “Story of Drakos,” is an ogre, hight “Three Eyes,” who attempts the rescue of his wife with a party of blackamoors (μαύρους) packed in bales and these are all discovered and slain.

39.  Dans la forêt, says Galland.

40.  Or “Samsam,” the grain = Sesamum Orientale: hence the French, Sesame, ouvre-toi! The term is cabalistical, like Súlem, Súlam or Shúlam in the Directorium Vitæ Humanæ of Johannes di Capuâ: Inquit vir: Ibam in nocte plenilunii et ascendebam super domum ubi furari intendebam, et accedens ad fenestram ubi radii lune ingrediebantur, et dicebam hanc coniurationem, scilicet sulem sulem, septies, deinde amplectebar lumen lune et sine lesione descendebam ad domum, etc. (pp. 24–25) par Joseph Derenbourg, Membre de l’Institut 1re Fascicule, Paris, F. Vieweg, 67, Rue de Richelieu, 1887.

41.  In the text “Jatháni” = the wife of an elder brother. Hindostani, like other Eastern languages, is rich in terms for kinship whereof English is so exceptionally poor. Mr. Francis Galtson, in his well-known work “Hereditary Genius,” a misnomer by the by for “Hereditary Talent,” felt this want severely and was at pains to supply it.

42.  In the text “Thag,” our English “Thug,” often pronounced moreover by the Briton with the sibilant “th.” It means simply a cheat: you say to your servant “Tú bará Thag hai” = thou art a precious rascal; but it has also the secondary meaning of robber, assassin, and the tertiary of Bhawáni-worshippers who offer indiscriminate human sacrifices to the Deëss of Destruction. The word and the thing have been made popular in England through the “Confessions of a Thug” by my late friend Meadows Taylor; and I may record my conviction that were the English driven out of India, “Thuggee,” like piracy in Cutch and in the Persian Gulf, would revive at the shortest possible time.

43.  i.e. the Civil Governor, who would want nothing better.

44.  This is in Galland and it is followed by the H. V.; but it would be more natural to suppose that of the quarters two were hung up outside the door and the others within.

45.  I am unwilling to alter the time honoured corruption: properly it is written Marjánah = the “Coralline,” from Marján = red coral, for which see vols. ii. 100; vii. 373.

46.  i.e. the “’Iddah,” during which she could not marry. See vol. iii. 292.

47.  In Galland he is a savetier * * * naturellement gai, et qui avait toujours le mot pour rire: the H.V. naturally changed him to a tailor as the Chámár or leather-worker would be inadmissible to polite conversation.

48.  i.e. a leader of prayer; the Pers. “Písh-namáz” = fore-prayer, see vols. ii. 203; iv. 111 and 227. Galland has “ímán,” which can mean only faith, belief, and in this blunder he is conscientiously followed by his translators—servum pecus.

49.  Galland nails down the corpse in the bier—a Christian practice—and he certainly knew better. Moreover, prayers for the dead are mostly recited over the bier when placed upon the brink of the grave; nor is it usual for a woman to play so prominent a part in the ceremony.

50.  See vols. v. 111, ix. 163 and x. 47.

51.  Galland is less merciful, “Aussitôt le conducteur fut déclaré digne de mort tout d’une voix, et il s’y condamna lui-même,” etc. The criminal, indeed, condemns himself and firmly offers his neck to be stricken.

52.  In the text “Lauh,” for which see vol. v. 73.

53.  In Arab. “Káma” = he rose, which, in vulgar speech especially in Egypt, = he began. So in Spitta-Bey’s “Contes Arabes Modernes” (p. 124) “Kámat al-Sibhah dhákat fí yad akhí-h” = the chaplet began (lit. arose) to wax tight in his brother’s hand. This sense is shadowed forth in classical Arabic.

54.  So in old Arabian history “Kasír” (the Little One), the Arab Zopyrus, stows away in huge camel-bags the 2,000 warriors intended to surprise masterful Queen Zebba. Chronique de Tabari, vol. ii. 26. Also the armed men in boxes by which Shamar, King of Al-Yaman, took Shamar-kand = Shamar’s-town, now Samarkand. (Ibid. ii. 158.)

55.  i.e. for a walk, a “constitutional”: the phrase is very common in Egypt, and has occurred before.

56.  These visions are frequent in Al-Islam; see Pilgrimage iii. 254–55. Of course Christians are not subject to them, as Moslems also are never favoured with glimpses of the Blessed Virgin and the Saints; the best proof of their “Subjectivity.”

57.  For this word see De Sacy, Chrest. ii. 421. It has already occurred in The Nights, vol. iii. 295.

58.  Not a few pilgrims settle for a time or for life in the two Holy Places, which are thus kept supplied with fresh blood. See Pilgrimage ii. 260.

59.  i.e. Bayt al-Mukaddas, for which see vol. ii. 132.

60.  An affidavit amongst Moslems is “litis decisio,” as in the jurisprudence of mediæval Europe.

61.  In Arab folk-lore there are many instances of such precocious boys—enfants terribles they must be in real life. In Ibn Khall. (iii. 104) we find notices of a book “Kitáb Nujabá al-Abná” = Treatise on Distinguished Children, by Ibn Zakaral-Sakalli (the Sicilian), ob. A.D. 1169–70. And the boy-Kazi is a favourite rôle in the plays of peasant-lads who enjoy the irreverent “chaff” almost as much as when “making a Pasha.” This reminds us of the boys electing Cyrus as their King in sport (Herodotus, i. 114). For the cycle of “Precocious Children” and their adventures, see Mr. Clouston (Popular Tales, etc., ii. 1–14), who enters into the pedigree and affiliation. I must, however, differ with that able writer when he remarks at the end, “And now we may regard the story of Valerius Maximus with suspicion, and that of Lloyd as absolutely untrue, so far as William Noy’s alleged share in the ‘case.’” The jest or the event happening again and again is no valid proof of its untruth; and it is often harder to believe in derivation than in spontaneous growth.

62.  In Galland Ali Cogia, Marchand de Bagdad, is directly followed by the Histoire du Cheval Enchanté. For this “Ebony Horse,” as I have called it, see vol. v. p. 32.

63.  “Bánú” = a lady, a dame of high degree generally, e.g. the (Shah’s) Banu-i-Harem in James Morier (“The Mirza,” iii. 50), who rightly renders Pari Banu = Pari of the first quality. “Peri” (Parí) in its modern form has a superficial resemblance to “Fairy;” but this disappears in the “Pairika” of the Avesta and the “Pairik” of the modern Parsee. In one language only, the Multání, there is a masculine form for the word “Pará” = a he-fairy (Scinde, ii. 203). In Al-Islam these Peris are beautiful feminine spirits who, created after the “Dívs” (Tabari, i. 7), mostly believe in Allah and the Koran and desire the good of mankind: they are often attacked by the said Dívs, giants or demons, who imprison them in cages hung to the highest trees, and here the captives are visited by their friends who feed them with the sweetest of scents. I have already contrasted them with the green-coated pygmies to which the grotesque fancy of Northern Europe has reduced them. Bánú in Pers. = a princess, a lady, and is still much used, e.g. Bánú-í-Harim, the Dame of the Serraglio, whom foreigners call “Queen of Persia;” and Árám-Banu = “the calm Princess,” a nickname. A Greek story equivalent of Prince Ahmad is told by Pio in Contes Populaires Grecs (No. ii. p. 98) and called Τὸ χρυσὸ κουτάκι, the Golden box. Three youths (παλλικάρια) love the same girl and agree that whoever shall learn the best craft (ὅγεος μάθη πλεὶα καλὴν τέκνην) shall marry her; one becomes an astrologer, the second can raise the dead, and the third can run faster than air. They find her at death’s door, and her soul, which was at her teeth ready to start, goes down (καὶ πά ’ἣ ψυχή της κάτω, ποὔτανε πλειὰ στά δόντια της).

64.  Light of the Day.

65.  Galland has “Bisnagar,” which the H. V. corrupts to Bishan-Garh = Vishnu’s Fort, an utter misnomer. Bisnagar, like Bijnagar, Beejanuggur, Vizianuggur, etc., is a Prakrit corruption of the Sanskrit Vijáyanagara = City of Victory, the far-famed Hindu city and capital of the Narasingha or Lord of Southern India, mentioned in The Nights, vols. vi. 18; ix. 84. Nicolo de’ Conti in the xvth century found it a magnificent seat of Empire some fifteen marches south of the pestilential mountains which contained the diamond mines. Accounts of its renown and condition in the last generation have been given by James Grant (“Remarks on the Dekkan”) and by Captain Moore (“Operations of Little’s Detachment against Tippoo Sultan”). The latest description of it is in “The Indian Empire,” by Sir William W. Hunter. Vijáyanagar, village in Bellary district, Madras, lat. 15° 18′ N., long. 76° 30′ E.; pop. (1871), 437, inhabiting 172 houses. The proper name of this village is Hampi, but Vijáyanagar was the name of the dynasty (?) and of the kingdom which had its capital here and was the last great Hindu power of the South. Founded by two adventurers in the middle of the xivth century, it lasted for two centuries till its star went down at Tálikot in A.D. 1565. For a description of the ruins of the old city of Vijáyanagar, which covers a total area of nine square miles, see “Murray’s Handbook for Madras,” by E. B. Eastwick (1879), vol. ix. p. 235. Authentic history in Southern India begins with the Hindu kingdom of Vijáyanagar, or Narsinha, from A.D. 1118 to 1565. The capital can still be traced within the Madras district of Bellary, on the right bank of the Tungabhadra river—vast ruins of temples, fortifications, tanks and bridges, haunted by hyænas and snakes. For at least three centuries Vijáyanagar ruled over the southern part of the Indian triangle. Its Rajas waged war and made peace on equal terms with the Mohamadan sultans of the Deccan. See vol. iv. p. 335, Sir W. W. Hunter’s “Imperial Gazetteer of India,” Edit. 1881.

66.  The writer means the great Bazar, the Indian “Chauk,” which = our English Carfax or Carfex (Carrefour) and forms the core of ancient cities in the East. It is in some places, as Damascus, large as one of the quarters, and the narrow streets or lanes, vaulted over or thatched, are all closed at night by heavy doors well guarded by men and dogs. Trades are still localised, each owning its own street, after the fashion of older England, where we read of Draper’s Lane and Butchers’ Row; Lombard Street, Cheapside and Old Jewry.

67.  The local name of the Patna gauzes. The term was originally applied to the produce of the Coan looms, which, however, was anticipated in ancient Egypt. See p. 287 of “L’Archéologie Égyptienne” (Paris, A. Quantin) of the learned Professor G. Maspero, a most able popular work by a savant who has left many regrets on the banks of Nilus.

68.  The great prototype of the Flying Carpet is that of Sulayman bin Dáúd, a fable which the Koran (chap. xxi. 81) borrowed from the Talmud, not from “Indian fictions.” It was of green sendal embroidered with gold and silver and studded with precious stones, and its length and breadth were such that all the Wise King’s host could stand upon it, the men to the left and the Jinns to the right of the throne; and when all were ordered, the Wind, at royal command, raised it and wafted it whither the Prophet would, while an army of birds flying overhead canopied the host from the sun. In the Middle Ages the legend assumed another form. “Duke Richard, surnamed ‘Richard sans peur,’ walking with his courtiers one evening in the forest of Moulineaux, near one of his castles on the banks of the Seine, hearing a prodigious noise coming towards him, sent one of his esquires to know what was the matter, who brought him word that it was a company of people under a leader or King. Richard, with five hundred of his bravest Normans, went out to see a sight which the peasants were so accustomed to that they viewed it two or three times a week without fear. The sight of the troop, preceded by two men, who spread a cloth on the ground, made all the Normans run away, and leave the Duke alone. He saw the strangers form themselves into a circle on the cloth, and on asking who they were, was told that they were the spirits of Charles V., King of France, and his servants, condemned to expiate their sins by fighting all night against the wicked and the damned. Richard desired to be of their party, and receiving a strict charge not to quit the cloth, was conveyed with them to Mount Sinai, where, leaving them without quitting the cloth, he said his prayers in the Church of St. Catherine’s Abbey there, while they were fighting, and returned with them. In proof of the truth of this story, he brought back half the wedding-ring of a knight in that convent, whose wife, after six years, concluded him dead, and was going to take a second husband.” (Note in the Lucknow Edition of The Nights.)

69.  Amongst Eastern peoples, and especially adepts, the will of man is not a mere term for a mental or cerebral operation, it takes the rank of a substance; it becomes a mighty motive power, like table-turning and other such phenomena which, now looked upon as child’s play, will perform a prime part in the Kinetics of the century to come. If a few pair of hands imposed upon a heavy dinner-table can raise it in the air, as I have often seen, what must we expect to result when the new motive force shall find its Franklin and be shown to the world as real “Vril”? The experiment of silently willing a subject to act in a manner not suggested by speech or sign has been repeatedly tried and succeeded in London drawing-rooms; and it has lately been suggested that atrocious crimes have resulted from overpowering volition. In cases of paralysis the Faculty is agreed upon the fact that local symptoms disappear when the will-power returns to the brain. And here I will boldly and baldly state my theory that, in sundry cases, spectral appearances (ghosts) and abnormal smells and sounds are simply the effect of a Will which has, so to speak, created them.

70.  The text has “But-Khánah” = idol-house (or room) syn. with “But-Kadah” = image-cuddy, which has been proposed as the derivation of the disputed “Pagoda.” The word “Khánah” also appears in our balcony, origin. “balcony,” through the South-European tongues, the Persian being “Bálá-khánah” = high room. From “Kadah” also we derive “cuddy,” now confined to nautical language.

71.  Europe contains sundry pictures which have, or are supposed to have, this property; witness the famous Sudarium bearing the head of Jesus. The trick, for it is not Art, is highly admired by the credulous.

72.  i.e. the Hindu Scripture or Holy Writ, e.g. “Káma-Shastra” = the Cupid-gospel.

73.  This shifting theatre is evidently borrowed by Galland from Pliny (N. H. xxxvi., 24) who tells that in B.C. 50, C. Curio built two large wooden theatres which could be wheeled round and formed into an amphitheatre. The simple device seems to stir the bile of the unmechanical old Roman, so unlike the Greek in powers of invention.

74.  This trick is now common in the circuses and hippodromes of Europe, horses and bulls being easily taught to perform it; but India has as yet not produced anything equal to the “Cyclist elephant” of Paris.

75.  This Arab.-Pers. compound, which we have corrupted to “Bezestein” or “Bezetzein” and “Bezesten,” properly means a market-place for Baz or Bazz = cloth, fine linen; but is used by many writers as = Bazar, see “Kaysariah,” vol. i, 266.

76.  The origin of the lens and its applied use to the telescope and the microscope are “lost” (as the Castle-guides of Edinburgh say) “in the glooms of antiquity.” Well ground glasses have been discovered amongst the finds of Egypt and Assyria: indeed much of the finer work of the primeval artists could not have been done without such aid. In Europe the “spy-glass” appears first in the Opus Majus of the learned Roger Bacon (circa A.D. 1270); and his “optic tube” (whence his saying “all things are known by perspective”), chiefly contributed to make his wide-spread fame as a wizard. The telescope was popularised by Galileo who (as mostly happens) carried off and still keeps, amongst the vulgar, all the honours of invention. Some “Illustrators” of The Nights confound this “Nazzárah,” the Pers. “Dúr-bín,” or far-seer, with the “Magic Mirror,” a speculum which according to Gower was set up in Rome by Virgilius the Magician; hence the Mirror of Glass in the Squire’s tale; Merlin’s glassie Mirror of Spenser (F. Q. ii. 24); the mirror in the head of the monstrous fowl which forecast the Spanish invasion to the Mexicans; the glass which in the hands of Cornelius Agrippa (A.D. 1520) showed to the Earl of Surrey fair Geraldine “sick in her bed;” to the globe of glass in The Lusiads; Dr. Dee’s show-stone, a bit of cannel-coal; and lastly the zinc and copper disk of the absurdly called “electro-biologist.” I have noticed this matter at some length in various places.

77.  D’Herbelot renders Soghd Samarkand = plain of Samarkand. Hence the old “Sogdiana,” the famed and classical capital of Máwaránnahr, our modern Transoxiana, now known as Samarkand. The Hindi translator has turned “Soghd” into “Sadá” and gravely notes that “the village appertained to Arabia.” He possibly had a dim remembrance of the popular legend which derives “Samarkand” from Shamir or Samar bin Afrikús, the Tobba King of Al-Yaman, who lay waste Soghd-city (“Shamir kand” = Shamir destroyed); and when rebuilt the place was called by the Arab. corruption Samarkand. See Ibn Khallikan ii. 480. Ibn Haukal (Kitáb al Mamálik wa al-Masálik = Book of Realms and Routes), whose Oriental Geography (xth century) was translated by Sir W. Ouseley (London, Oriental Press, 1800), followed by Abú ’l-Fidá, mentions the Himyaritic inscription upon an iron plate over the Kash portal of Samarkand (Appendix No. iii).

78.  The wish might have been highly indiscreet and have exposed the wisher to the resentment of the two other brothers. In parts of Europe it is still the belief of the vulgar that men who use telescopes can see even with the naked eye objects which are better kept hidden; and I have heard of troubles in the South of France because the villagers would not suffer the secret charms of their women to become as it were the public property of the lighthouse employés.

79.  “Jám-i-Jamshíd” is a well worn commonplace in Moslem folk-lore; but commentators cannot agree whether “Jám” be = a mirror or a cup. In the latter sense it would represent the Cyathomantic cup of the Patriarch Joseph and the symbolic bowl of Nestor. Jamshíd may be translated either Jam the Bright or the Cup of the Sun: this ancient King is the Solomon of the grand old Guebres.

80.  This passage may have suggested to Walter Scott one of his descriptions in “The Monastery.”

81.  In the text “Lájawardí,” for which see vols. iii. 33, and ix. 190.

82.  In Galland and the H.V. “Prince Husayn’s.”

83.  This is the “Gandharba-lagana” (fairy wedding) of the Hindus; a marriage which lacked only the normal ceremonies. For the Gandharbas = heavenly choristers see Moor’s “Hindú Pantheon,” p. 237, etc.

84.  “Perfumed with amber” (-gris?) says Galland.

85.  The Hind. term for the royal levée, as “Selám” is the Persian.

86.  Arab. “’Ilm al-Ghayb” = the Science of Hidden Things which, says the Hadis, belongeth only to the Lord. Yet amongst Moslems, as with other faiths, the instinctive longing to pry into the Future has produced a host of pseudo-sciences, Geomancy, Astrology, Prophecy and others which serve only to prove that such knowledge, in the present condition of human nature, is absolutely unattainable.

87.  In folk-lore and fairy tales the youngest son of mostly three brothers is generally Fortune’s favourite: at times also he is the fool or the unlucky one of the family, Cinderella being his counterpart (Mr. Clouston, i. 321).

88.  The parasang (Gr. παρασάγγης), which Ibn Khall. (iii. 315) reduces to three miles, has been derived wildly enough from Fars or Pars (Persia proper) sang = (mile) stone. Chardin supports the etymology, “because leagues are marked out with great tall stones in the East as well as the West, e.g. ad primam (vel secundam) lapidem.”

89.  A huge marquee or pavilion-tent in India.

90.  The Jinn feminine; see vol. i. 10. The word hardly corresponds with the Pers. “Peri” and Engl. “Fairy,” a creation, like the “Dív,” of the so-called “Aryan,” not “Semitic,” race.

91.  Galland makes the Fairy most unjustifiably fear that her husband is meditating the murder of his father; and the Hindí in this point has much the advantage of the Frenchman.

92.  Pers. = “Light of the World;” familiar to Europe as the name of the Grand Moghul Jehángír’s principal wife.

93.  The Arab stirrup, like that of the Argentine Gaucho, was originally made of wood, liable to break, and forming a frail support for lancer and sworder. A famous chief and warrior, Abú Sa’íd al-Muhallab (ob. A.H. 83 = 702) first gave orders to forge footrests of iron.

94.  For this Egyptian and Syrian weapon see vol. i. 234.

95.  See vol. vii. 93, where an error of punctuation confounds it with Kerbela,—a desert with a place of pilgrimage. “Samáwah” in Ibn Khall. (vol. i. 108) is also the name of a town on the Euphrates.

96.  Nazaránah prop. = the gift (or gifts) offered at visits by a Moslem noble or feoffee in India to his feudal superior; and the Kalíchah of Hindú, Malabar, Goa and the Blue Mountains (p. 197). Hence the periodical tributes and especially the presents which represent our “legacy-duty” and the “succession-duty” for Rajahs and Nabobs, the latter so highly lauded by “The Times,” as the logical converse of the Corn-laws which ruined our corn. The Nazaránah can always be made a permanent and a considerable source of revenue, far more important than such unpopular and un-Oriental device as an income-tax. But our financiers have yet to learn the A. B. C. of political economy in matters of assessment, which is to work upon familiar lines; and they especially who, like Mr. Wilson “mad as a hatter,” hold and hold forth that “what is good for England is good for the world.” These myopics decide on theoretical and sentimental grounds that a poll-tax is bad in principle, which it may be, still public opinion sanctions it and it can be increased without exciting discontent. The same with the “Nazaránah;” it has been the custom of ages immemorial, and a little more or a little less does not affect its popularity.

97.  Pers. = City-queen.

98.  Compare with this tale its modern and popular version Histoire du Rossignol Chanteur (Spitta-Bey, No. x, p. 123): it contains the rosary (and the ring) that shrinks, the ball that rolls and the water that heals; etc. etc. Mr. Clouston somewhere asserts that the History of the Envious Sisters, like that of Prince Ahmad and the Perí-Banu, are taken from a MS. still preserved in the “King’s Library,” Paris; but he cannot quote his authority, De Sacy or Langlès. Mr. H. C. Coote (loc. cit. p. 189) declares it to be, and to have been, “an enormous favourite in Italy and Sicily: no folk-tale exists in those countries at all comparable to it in the number of its versions and in the extent of its distribution.” He begins two centuries before Galland, with Straparola (Notti Piacevoli), proceeds to Imbriani (Novellaja Fiorentina), Nerucci (Novelle Montalesi), Comparetti (Novelline Italiane) and Pitrè (Fiabe, Novelle e Racconti popolari Italiani, vol i.); and informs us that “the adventures of the young girl, independently of the joint history of herself and her brother, are also told in a separate Fiaba in Italy. A tale called ‘La Favenilla Coraggiosa’ is given by Visentini in his Fiabe Mantovane and it is as far as it is a counterpart of the second portion of Galland’s tale.” Mr. Coote also finds this story in Hahn’s “Griechische Märchen” entitled “Sun, Moon and Morning Star”—the names of the royal children. The King overhears the talk of three girls and marries the youngest despite his stepmother, who substitutes for her issue a puppy, a kitten and a mouse. The castaways are adopted by a herdsman whilst the mother is confined in a henhouse; and the King sees his offspring and exclaims, “These children are like those my wife promised me.” His stepmother, hearing this, threatens the nurse, who goes next morning disguised as a beggar-woman to the girl and induces her to long for the Bough that makes music, the Magic Mirror, and the bird Dickierette. The brothers set out to fetch them leaving their shirts which become black when the mishap befalls them. The sister, directed by a monk, catches the bird and revives the stones by the Water of Life and the denouement is brought about by a sausage stuffed with diamonds. In Miss Stokes’ Collection of Hindu Stories (No. xx.) “The Boy who had a moon on his brow and a star on his chin” also suggests the “Envious Sisters.”

99.  Pop. “Ghaut” = The steps (or path) which lead down to a watering-place. Hence the Hindi saying concerning the “rolling stone”—Dhobi-ka kuttá; na Ghar-ká na Ghát-ká, = a washerwoman’s tyke, nor of the house nor of the Ghát-dyke.

100.  Text “Khatíbah” more usually “Khutbah” = the Friday sermon preached by the Khatíb: in this the reigning sovereign is prayed for by name and his mention together with the change of coinage is the proof of his lawful rule. See Lane, M. E. chap. iii.

101.  This form of eaves-dropping, in which also the listener rarely hears any good of himself is, I need hardly now say, a favourite incident of Eastern storiology and even of history, e.g. Three men met together; one of them expressed the wish to obtain a thousand pieces of gold, so that he might trade with them; the other wished for an appointment under the Emir of the Moslems; the third wished to possess Yusuf’s wife, who was the handsomest of women and had great political influence. Yusuf, being informed of what they said, sent for the men, bestowed one thousand dinars on him who wished for that sum, gave an appointment to the other and said to him who wished to possess the lady: “Foolish man! what induced you to wish for that which you can never obtain?” He then sent him to her and she placed him in a tent where he remained three days, receiving, each day, one and the same kind of food. She had him then brought to her and said, “What did you eat these days past” He replied: “Always the same thing!”—“Well,” said she, “all women are the same thing.” She then ordered some money and a dress to be given him, after which, she dismissed him. (Ibn Khallikan iii. 463–64.)

102.  This ruthless attempt at infanticide was in accordance with the manners of the age nor has it yet disappeared from Rajput-land, China and sundry over-populous countries. Indeed it is a question if civilization may not be compelled to revive the law of Lycurgus which forbade a child, male or female, to be brought up without the approbation of public officers appointed ad hoc. One of the curses of the XIXth century is the increased skill of the midwife and the physician, who are now able to preserve worthless lives and to bring up semi-abortions whose only effect upon the breed is increased degeneracy. Amongst the Greeks and ancient Arabs the Malthusian practice was carried to excess. Poseidippus declares that in his day—

A man, although poor, will not expose his son;
But however rich, will not preserve his daughter.

See the commentators’ descriptions of the Wa’d al-Banát or burial of Mauúdát (living daughters), the barbarous custom of the pagan Arabs (Koran, chaps. xvi. and lxxxi.), one of the many abominations, like the murderous vow of Jephtha, to which Al-Islam put a summary stop. (Ibn Khallikan, iii. 609–616). For such outcast children reported to be monsters, see pp. 402–412 of Mr. Clouston’s “Asiatic and European versions of four of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales,” printed by the Chaucer Society.

103.  Hind. Chhuchhundar (Sorex cærulescens) which occurs repeatedly in verse; e.g., when speaking of low men advanced to high degree, the people say:—

Chhuchhúndar-ke sir-par Chambelí-ka tel.
The Jasmine-oil on the musk-rat’s head.

In Galland the Sultánah is brought to bed of un morceau de bois; and his Indian translator is more consequent. Hahn, as has been seen, also has the mouse but Hahn could hardly have reached Hindostan.

104.  This title of Sháhinshah was first assumed by Ardashír, the great Persian conqueror, after slaying the King of Ispahán, Ardawán. (Tabari ii. 73.)

105.  This imprisonment of the good Queen reminds home readers of the “Cage of Clapham” wherein a woman with child was imprisoned in A.D. 1700, and which was noted by Sir George Grove as still in existence about 1830.

106.  Arab. Ayyám al-Nifás = the period of forty days after labour during which, according to Moslem law, a woman may not cohabit with her husband.

107.  A clarum et venerabile nomen in Persia; meaning one of the Spirits that presides over beasts of burden; also a king in general, the P.N. of an ancient sovereign, etc.

108.  This is the older pronunciation of the mod. (Khusrau) “Parvíz”; and I owe an apology to Mr. C. J. Lyall (Ancient Arabian Poetry) for terming his “Khusrau Parvêz” an “ugly Indianism” (The Academy, No. 100). As he says (Ibid. vol. x. 85), “the Indians did not invent for Persian words the sounds ê and ô, called majhúl (i.e. ‘not known in Arabic’) by the Arabs, but received them at a time when these sounds were universally used in Persia. The substitution by Persians of î and û for ê and ô is quite modern.”

109.  i.e. Fairy-born, the Παρυσάτις (Parysatis) of the Greeks which some miswrite Παρύσατις.

110.  In Arab. usually shortened to “Hazár” (bird of a thousand tales = the Thousand), generally called “’Andalíb:” Galland has Bulbulhezer and some of his translators debase it to Bulbulkezer. See vol. v. 148, and the Hazár-dastán of Kazwíní (De Sacy, Chrest. iii. 413). These rarities represent the Rukh’s egg in “Alaeddin.”

111.  These disembodied “voices” speaking either naturally or through instruments are a recognised phenomenon of the so-called “Spiritualism.” See p. 115 of “Supramundane Facts,” &c., edited by T. J. Nichols, M.D., &c., London, Pitman, 1865. I venture to remark that the medical treatment by Mesmerism, Braidism and hypnotics, which was violently denounced and derided in 1850, is in 1887 becoming a part of the regular professional practice and forms another item in the long list of the Fallacies of the Faculty and the Myopism of the “Scientist.”

112.  I may also note that the “Hátif,” or invisible Speaker, which must be subjective more often than objective, is a commonplace of Moslem thaumaturgy.

113.  It may have been borrowed from Ulysses and the Sirens.

114.  Two heroes of the Shahnámeh and both the types of reckless daring. The monomachy or duel between these braves lasted through two days.

115.  The “Bágh” or royal tiger, is still found in the jungles of Mázenderán and other regions of Northern Persia.

116.  In addressing the Shah every Persian begins with the formula “Kurbán-at básham” = may I become thy Corban or sacrifice. For this word (Kurbán) see vol. viii. 16.

117.  The King in Persia always speaks of himself in the third person and swears by his own blood and head, soul, life and death. The form of oath is ancient: Joseph, the first (but not the last) Jew-financier of Egypt, emphasises his speech “by the life of Pharaoh.” (Gen. xiii. 15, 16).

118.  Another title of the Shah, making him quasi-divine, at any rate the nearest to the Almighty, like the Czar and the Emperor of China. Hence the subjects bow to him with the body at right angles as David did to Saul (1 Sam. xxiv. 8) or fall upon the face like Joshua (v. 14).

119.  A most improbable and absurd detail: its sole excuse is the popular superstition of “blood speaking to blood.” The youths being of the royal race felt that they could take unwarrantable liberties.

120.  This is still a Persian custom because all the subjects, women as well as men, are virtually the King’s slaves.

121.  i.e. King of kings, the Βασιλεὺς βασιλέων.

122.  Majlis garm karná, i.e., to give some life to the company.

123.  In Arabic “’Ilm al-Mukáshafah” = the Science by which Eastern adepts discover man’s secret thoughts. Of late years it has appeared in England but with the same quackery and imposture which have ruined “Spiritualism” as the Faith of the Future.

124.  Nor are those which do occur all in the same order: The first in the Turkish book, “Of ’Ebú-’l-Kásim of Basra, of the ’Emír of Basra, and of ’Ebú-’l-Faskh of Wásit,” is probably similar to the first in Petis, “History of Aboulcasem of Basra.” The second, “Of Fadzlu-’llah of Mawsil (Mosel), of ’Ebú-’l-Hasan, and of Máhyár of Wásit,” is evidently the seventh in Petis, “History of Fadlallah, Son of Bin Ortoc, King of Moussel.” The fourth, “Of Ridzwán-Sháh of China and the Shahristání Lady,” is the second in Petis, “History of King Razvanschad and of the Princess Cheheristany.” The eleventh, “Of the Sovereign without a care and of the Vazír full of care,” is the eighth in Petis, “History of King Bedreddin Lolo and of his Vizier Altalmulc.” The third, “Of the Builder of Bemm with the two Vazírs of the king of Kawáshar,” the seventh, “Of the Rogue Nasr and the son of the king of Khurásán,” and the tenth, “The Three Youths, the Old Man, and the Daughter of the King,” I cannot, from these titles, recognise in Petis; while the fifth, “Farrukh-Shád, Farrukh-Rúz, and Farrukh-Náz,” may be the same as the frame-story of the “Hazár ú Yek Rúz,” where the king is called Togrul-bey, his son Farrukrouz, and his daughter Farruknaz, and if this be the case, the Turkish book must differ considerably from the Persian in its plan.—Although “The Thousand and One Nights” has not been found in Persian, there exists a work in that language of which the plan is somewhat similar—but adapted from an Indian source. It is thus described by Dr. Rieu, in his Catalogue of Persian MSS. in the British Museum, vol. ii. p. 773: Tale of Shírzád, son of Gurgahan, emperor of China, and Gulshád, daughter of the vazír Farrukhzád (called the Story of the Nine Belvideres). Nine tales told by Gulshad to Shírzád, each in one of the nine belvideres of the royal palace, in order to save the forfeited life of her father.

125.  A translation of this version, omitting the moral reflections interspersed, is given by Professor E. B. Cowell in the “Journal of Philology,” 1876, vol. vi. p. 193. The great Persian mystic tells another story of a Dream of Riches, which, though only remotely allied to our tale, is very curious:


Notwithstanding the clear evidence of God’s bounty, engendering those spiritual tastes in men, philosophers and learned men, wise in their own conceit, obstinately shut their eyes to it, and look afar off for what is really close to them, so that they incur the penalty of being “branded on the nostrils” [Kurán, lxviii. 16], adjudged against unbelievers. This is illustrated by the story of a poor Fakír who prayed to God that he might be fed without being obliged to work for his food. A divine voice came to him in his sleep and directed him to go to the house of a certain scribe and take a certain writing he should find there. He did so, and on reading the writing found that it contained directions for discovering a hidden treasure. The directions were as follows: “Go outside the city to the dome which covers the tomb of the martyr, turn your back to the tomb and your face towards Mecca, place an arrow in your bow, and where the arrow falls dig for the treasure.” But before the Fakír had time to commence the search the rumour of the writing and its purport had reached the King, who at once sent and took it away from the Fakír, and began to search for the treasure on his own account. After shooting many arrows and digging in all directions the King failed to find the treasure, and got weary of searching, and returned the writing to the Fakír. Then the Fakír tried what he could do, but failed to hit the spot where the treasure was buried. At last, despairing of success by his own unaided efforts, he cast his care upon God, and implored the divine assistance. Then a voice from heaven came to him, saying, “You were directed to fix an arrow in your bow, but not to draw your bow with all your might, as you have been doing. Shoot as gently as possible, that the arrow may fall close to you, for hidden treasure is indeed ‘nearer to you than your neck-vein’” [Kurán, l. 15]. Men overlook the spiritual treasures close to them, and for this reason it is that prophets have no honour in their own countries.—Mr. E. H. Whinfield’s Abridgment of “The Masnavi-i Ma’navi.” (London, 1887.)

126.  See Mr. Gibb’s translation (London: Redway), p. 278.

127.  Rem quæ contigit patrum memoriâ ut veram ita dignam relatu et sæpenumero mihi assertam ab hominibus fide dignis apponam.

128.  Thorpe says that a nearly similar legend is current at Tanslet, on the island of Alsen.

129.  The common tradition is, it was in English rhyme, viz.

“Where this stood
Is another as good;”

or, as some will have it:

“Under me doth lie
Another much richer than I.”

130.  Apropos to dreams, there is a very amusing story, entitled “Which was the Dream?” in Mr. F. H. Balfour’s “Leaves from my Chinese Scrap Book,” p. 106–7 (London: Trübner, 1887).

131.  The story in the Turkish collection, “Al-Faraj ba’d al-Shiddah,” where it forms the 8th recital, is doubtless identical with our Arabian version, since in both the King of the Genie figures, which is not the case in Mr. Gibb’s story.

132.  Although this version is not preceded, as in the Arabian, by the Dream of Riches, yet that incident occurs, I understand, in separate form in the work of ’Alí ’Azíz.

133.  Sir Richard has referred, in note 2, pp. 23, 24, to numerous different magical tests of chastity etc., and I may here add one more, to wit, the cup which Oberon, King of the Fairies, gave to Duke Huon of Bordeaux (according to the romance which recounts the marvellous adventures of that renowned Knight), which filled with wine in the hand of any man who was out of “deadly sin” and attempted to drink out of it, but was always empty in the hands of a sinful man. Charlemagne was shown to be sinful by this test, while Duke Huon, his wife, and a companion were proved to be free from sin.—In my “Popular Tales and Fictions” the subject of inexhaustible purses etc. is treated pretty fully—they frequently figure in folk-tales, from Iceland to Ceylon, from Japan to the Hebrides.

134.  “The Athenæum,” April 23, 1887, p. 542.

135.  See M. Eugène Lévêque’s “Les Mythes et les Légendes de l’Inde et la Perse” (Paris, 1880), p. 543, where the two are printed side by side. This was pointed out more than seventy years ago by Henry Weber in his Introduction to “Tales of the East,” edited by him.

136.  Also in the romance of Duke Huon of Bordeaux and the old French romance of the Chevalier Berinus. The myth was widely spread in the Middle Ages.

137.  Cf. the magic horn that Duke Huon of Bordeaux received from Oberon King of the Fairies, which caused even the Soudan of Babylon to caper about in spite of himself; and similar musical instruments in a hundred different tales, such as the old English poem of “The Friar and the Boy,” the German tale (in Grimm) of “The Jew among Thorns,” the “Pied Piper of Hamelin,” &c.

138.  Not distantly related to stories of this class are those in which the hero becomes possessed of some all-bestowing object—a purse, a box, a table-cloth, a sheep, a donkey, etc.—which being stolen from him he recovers by means of a magic club that on being commanded rattles on the pate and ribs of the thief and compels him to restore the treasure.

139.  The Dwarf had told the soldier, on leaving him after killing the old witch, that should his services be at any other time required, he had only to light his pipe at the Blue Light and he should instantly appear before him. The tobacco-pipe must be considered as a recent and quite unnecessary addition to the legend: evidently all the power of summoning the Dwarf was in the Blue Light, since he tells the soldier when he first appears before him in the well that he must obey its lord and master.

140.  Belli signifies famous, or notorious.

141.  This young lady’s notion of the “function of Prayer” was, to say the least, peculiar, in thus addressing her petition to the earth instead of to Heaven.

142.  The gentle, amiable creature!

143.  Chamley-bill was, says Dr. Chodzko, a fort built by Kurroglú, the ruins of which are still to be seen in the valley of Salmas, a district in the province of Aderbaijan.

144.  i.e. Kuvera, the god of wealth.

145.  The attendants of Kuvera.

146.  That every man has his “genius” of good or evil fortune is, I think, essentially a Buddhistic idea.

147.  Such being the case, what need was there for the apparition presenting itself every morning?—but no matter!

148.  Pandit S. M. Natésa Sástrí, in “Indian Notes and Queries,” for March, 1887, says that women swallow large numbers of an insect called pillai-púchchi (son-insect: gryllas) in the hope of bearing sons; they will also drink the water squeezed from the loin-cloth of a sanyásí [devotee] after washing it for him!—Another correspondent in the same periodical, Pandit Putlíbái K. Raghunathjé, writes that Hindú women, for the purpose of having children, especially a son, observe the fourth lunar day of every dark fortnight as a fast, and break their fast only after seeing the moon, generally before 9 or 10 p.m. A dish of twenty-one small, marble-like balls of rice is prepared, in one of which is put some salt. The whole dish is then served up to the woman, and while eating it she should first lay her hands on the ball containing salt, as it is believed to be a positive sign that she will be blessed with a son. In that case she should give up eating the rest, but otherwise she should go on eating till she lays her hands on the salted ball. The Pandit adds, that the observance of this ball depends on the wish of the woman. She may observe it on only one, five, seven, eleven, or twenty-one lunar fourth days, or chaturthí. Should she altogether fail in picking out the salted ball first, she may be sure of remaining barren all her life long.

149.  I am glad to see among Messrs. Trübner and Co.’s announcements of forthcoming publications Mr. Knowles’ collection of “Folk-Tales of Kashmír” in popular handy-volume form.

150.  A holy man whose austerities have obtained for him supernatural powers.

151.  Also called “Story of the King and his Four Ministers.” There is another but wholly different Tamil romance entitled the “Alakésa Kathá,” in which a king’s daughter becomes a disembodied evil spirit, haunting during the night a particular choultry (or serai) for travellers, and if they do not answer aright to her cries she strangles them and vampyre-like sucks their blood.

152.  The Pandit informs me that his “Folk-Lore in Southern India” will be completed at press and issued shortly at Bombay. (London agents, Messrs. Trübner & Co.)

153.  In the “Kathá Sarit Ságara,” Book ii., ch. 14, when the King of Vatsa receives the hand of Vasavadatta, “like a beautiful shoot lately budded on the creeper of love,” she walks round the fire, keeping it to the right, on which Prof. Tawney remarks that “the practice of walking round an object of reverence, with the right hand towards it, has been exhaustively discussed by Dr. Samuel Fergusson in his paper, ‘On the ceremonial turn called Desiul,’ published in the Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, for March 1877 (vol i., series ii., No. 12). He shows it to have existed among the ancient Romans as well as the Celts.... Dr. Fergusson is of opinion that this movement was a symbol of the cosmical rotation, an imitation of the apparent course of the sun in the heavens.”

154.  The affection of parents for their children is often a blind instinct, and sometimes selfish, though, after all, there is doubtless truth in these lines:

“A mother’s love!
If there be one thing pure,
Where all beside is sullied,
That can endure
When all else pass away:
If there be aught
Surpassing human deed, or word, or thought,
It is a mother’s love!”

155.  Surma is a collyrium applied to the edges of the eyelids to increase the lustre of the eyes. A Persian poet, addressing the damsel of whom he is enamoured, says, “For eyes so intoxicated with love’s nectar what need is there of surma?”—This part of the story seems to be garbled; in another text of the romance of Hatim Ta’í it is only after the surma has been applied to the covetous man’s eyes that he beholds the hidden treasures.

156.  The first part of the story of the Young King of the Black Isles, in The Nights, bears some analogy to this, but there the paramour is only “half-killed” and the vindictive queen transforms her husband from the waist downwards into marble.

157.  On the Sources of some of Galland’s Tales. By Henry Charles Coote, F.S.A., “Folk-Lore Record,” 1881, vol. iii, part 2, p. 186.

158.  See Thorpe’s “Yule Tide Stories,” Bohn’s ed., pp. 481–486.—Thorpe says that “for many years the Dummburg was the abode of robbers, who slew the passing travellers and merchants whom they perceived on the road from Leipsig to Brunswick, and heaped together the treasures of the plundered churches and the surrounding country, which they concealed in subterranean caverns.” The peasantry would therefore regard the spot with superstitious awe, and once such a tale as that of Ali Baba got amongst them, the robbers’ haunt in their neighbourhood would soon become the scene of the poor woodcutter’s adventure.

159.  A Persian poet says:

“He who violates the rights of the bread and salt
Breaks, for his wretched self, head and neck.”

160.  Miss Busk reproduces the proper names as they are transliterated in Jülg’s German version of those Kalmuk and Mongolian Tales—from which a considerable portion of her book was rendered—thus: Ardshi Bordshi, Rakschasas, etc.; but drollest of all is “Ramajana” (Ramayana), which is right in German but not in English.

161.  The apocryphal gospels and the Christian hagiology are largely indebted to Buddhism; e.g., the Descent into Hell, of which there is such a graphic account in the Gospel of Nicodemus, seems to have been adapted from ancient Buddhist legends, now embodied in the opening chapters of a work entitled, “Káranda-vyúha,” which contain a description of the Boddhisattva Avalokiteswara’s descent into the hell Avíchi, to deliver the souls there held captive by Yama, the lord of the lower world. (See a paper by Professor E. B. Cowell, LL.D., in the “Journal of Philology,” 1876, vol. vi. pp. 222–231.) This legend also exists in Telugu, under the title of “Sánanda Charitra,” of which the outline is given in Taylor’s “Catalogue Raisonné of Oriental MSS. in the Government Library, Madras,” vol. ii. p. 643: Sánanda, the son of Purna Vitta and Bhadra Datta, heard from munis accounts of the pains of the wicked, and wishing to see for himself, went to Yama-puri. His coming had been announced by Nárada. Yama showed the stranger the different lots of mankind in a future state, in details. Sánanda was touched with compassion for the miseries that he witnessed, and by the use of the five and six lettered spells he delivered those imprisoned souls and took them with him to Kailasa. Yama went to Siva and complained, but Siva civilly dismissed the appeal.—Under the title of “The Harrowing of Hell,” the apocryphal Christian legend was the theme of a Miracle Play in England during the Middle Ages, and indeed it seems to have been, in different forms, a popular favourite throughout Europe. Thus in a German tale Strong Hans goes to the Devil in hell and wants to serve him, and sees the pains in which souls are imprisoned standing beside the fire. Full of pity, he lifts up the lids and sets the souls free, on which the Devil at once drives him away. A somewhat similar notion occurs in an Icelandic tale of the Sin Sacks, in Powell and Magnússon’s collection (second series, p. 48). And in T. Crofton Croker’s “Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland,” ed. 1828, Part ii. p. 30 ff., we read of Soul Cages at the bottom of the sea, containing the spirits of drowned sailors, which the bold hero Jack Docherty set free.

162.  The Rabbins relate that among the Queen of Sheba’s tests of Solomon’s sagacity she brought before him a number of boys and girls apparelled all alike, and desired him to distinguish those of one sex from those of the other, as they stood in his presence. Solomon caused a large basin of water to be fetched in, and ordered them all to wash their hands. By this expedient he discovered the boys from the girls, since the former washed merely their hands, while the latter washed also their arms.

163.  Dr. W. Grimm, in the notes to his “Kinder und Hausmärchen,” referring to the German form of the story (which we shall come to by-and-by), says, “The Parrot, which is the fourth story in the Persian Touti Nameh, bears some resemblance to this”—the Parrot is the reciter of all the stories in the collection, not the title of this particular tale.

164.  To Sir Richard Burton’s interesting note on the antiquity of the lens and its applied use to the telescope and microscope may be added a passage or two from Sir William Drummond’s “Origines; or, Remarks on the Origin of several Empires, States, and Cities,” 1825, vol. ii. p. 246–250. This writer appears to think that telescopes were not unknown to the ancients and adduces plausible evidence in support of his opinion. “Moschopalus,” he says, “an ancient grammarian, mentions four instruments with which the astronomers of antiquity were accustomed to observe the stars—the catoptron, the dioptron, the eisoptron, and the enoptron.” He supposes the catoptron to have been the same with the astrolabe. “The dioptron seems to have been so named from a tube through which the observer looked. Were the other two instruments named from objects being reflected in a mirror placed within them? Aristotle says that the Greeks employed mirrors when they surveyed the celestial appearances. May we not conclude from this circumstance that astronomers were not always satisfied with looking through empty tubes?” He thinks the ancients were acquainted with lenses and has collected passages from various writers which corroborate his opinion, besides referring to the numerous uses to which glass was applied in the most remote ages. He goes on to say:

“Some of the observations of the ancients must appear very extraordinary, if magnifying glasses had never been known among them. The boldness with which the Pythagoreans asserted that the surface of the moon was diversified by mountains and valleys can hardly be accounted for, unless Pythagoras had been convinced of the fact by the help of telescopes, which might have existed in the observatories of Egypt and Chaldea before those countries were conquered and laid waste by the Persians. Pliny (L. 11) says that 1600 stars had been counted in the 72 constellations, and by this expression I can only understand him to mean the 72 dodecans into which the Egyptians and Chaldeans divided the zodiac. Now this number of stars could never have been counted in the zodiac without the assistance of glasses. Ptolemy reckoned a much less number for the whole heavens. The missionaries found many more stars marked in the Chinese charts of the heavens than formerly existed in those which were in use in Europe. Suidas, at the word ὕαλος (glass), indicates, in explaining a passage in Aristophanes, that burning mirrors were occasionally made of glass. Now how can we suppose burning mirrors to have been made of glass without supposing the magnifying powers of glass to have been known? The Greeks, as Plutarch affirms, employed metallic mirrors, either plane, or convex, or concave, according to the use for which they were intended. If they could make burning mirrors of glass, they could have given any of these forms to glass. How then could they have avoided observing that two glasses, one convex and the other concave, placed at a certain distance from each other, magnified objects seen through them? Numerous experiments must have been made with concave and convex glasses before burning mirrors made of glass could have been employed. If astronomers never knew the magnifying powers of glass, and never placed lenses in the tubes of the dioptrons, what does Strabo (L. 3, c. 138) mean when he says: ‘Vapours produce the same effects as the tubes in magnifying objects of vision by refraction?’”

Mr. W. F. Thompson, in his translation of the “Ahlák-i Jalaly,” from the Persian of Fakír Jání Muhammad (15th century), has the following note on the Jám-i Jámshíd and other magical mirrors: “Jámshíd,” the fourth of the Kaianian dynasty, the Solomon of the Persians. His cup was said to mirror the world, so that he could observe all that was passing elsewhere—a fiction of his own for state purposes, apparently, backed by the use of artificial mirrors. Nizámí tells that Alexander invented the steel mirror, by which he means, of course, that improved reflectors were used for telescopy in the days of Archimedes, but not early enough to have assisted Jámshíd, who belongs to the fabulous and unchronicled age. In the romance of Beyjan and Manija, in the “Shah Náma,” this mirror is used by the great Khosrú for the purpose of discovering the place of the hero’s imprisonment:

“The mirror in his hand revolving shook,
And earth’s whole surface glimmered in his look;
Nor less the secrets of the starry sphere,
The what, the when, the how depicted clear,
From orbs celestial to the blade of grass,
All nature floated in the magic glass.”

165.  We have been told this king had three daughters.

166.  See in “Blackwood’s Magazine,” vol. iv., 1818, 1819, a translation, from the Danish of J. L. Ramussen, of “An Historical and Geographical Essay on the trade and commerce of the Arabians and Persians with Russia and Scandinavia during the Middle Ages.”—But learned Icelanders, while England was still semi-civilized, frequently made very long journeys into foreign lands: after performing the pilgrimage to Rome, they went to Syria, and some penetrated into Central Asia.

167.  This, of course, is absurd, as each was equally interested in the business; but it seems to indicate a vague reminiscence of the adventures of the Princes in the story of The Envious Sisters.

168.  There is a naïveté about this that is peculiarly refreshing.

169.  This recalls the fairy Meliora, in the romance of Partenopex de Blois, who “knew of ancient tales a countless store.”

170.  In a Norwegian folk-tale the hero receives from a dwarf a magic ship that could enlarge itself so as to contain any number of men, yet could be carried in the pocket.

171.  The Water of Life, the Water of Immortality, the Fountain of Youth—a favourite and wide-spread myth during the Middle Ages. In the romance of Sir Huon of Bordeaux the hero boldly encounters a griffin, and after a desperate fight, in which he is sorely wounded, slays the monster. Close at hand he discovers a clear fountain, at the bottom of which is a gravel of precious stones. “Then he dyde of his helme and dranke of the water his fyll, and he had no sooner dranke thereof hut incontynent he was hole of all his woundys.” Nothing more frequently occurs in folk-tales than for the hero to be required to perform three difficult and dangerous tasks—sometimes impossible, without supernatural assistance.

172.  .fs push

“Say, will a courser of the Sun
All gently with a dray-horse run?”

173.  Ting: assembly of notables—of udallers, &c. The term survives in our word hustings; and in Ding-wall—Ting-val; where tings were held.

174.  The last of the old Dublin ballad-singers, who assumed the respectable name of Zozimus, and is said to have been the author of the ditties wherewith he charmed his street auditors, was wont to chant the legend of the Finding of Moses in a version which has at least the merit of originality:

“In Egypt’s land, upon the banks of Nile,
King Pharoah’s daughter went to bathe in style;
She took her dip, then went unto the land,
And, to dry her royal pelt, she ran along the strand.
A bulrush tripped her, whereupon she saw
A smiling baby in a wad of straw;
She took it up, and said, in accents mild—
Tare an’ agurs, girls! which av yez owns this child?

The Babylonian analogue, as translated by the Rev. Prof. A. H. Sayce, in the first vol. of the “Folk-Lore Journal” (1883), is as follows:

“Sargon, the mighty monarch, the King of Aganè, am I. My mother was a princess; my father I knew not; my father’s brother loved the mountain-land. In the city of Azipiranu, which on the bank of the Euphrates lies, my mother, the princess, conceived me; in an inaccessible spot she brought me forth. She placed me in a basket of rushes, with bitumen the door of my ark she closed. She launched me on the river, which drowned me not. The river bore me along, to Akki, the irrigator, it brought me. Akki, the irrigator, in the tenderness of his heart, lifted me up. Akki, the irrigator, as his own child brought me up. Akki, the irrigator, as his gardener appointed me, and in my gardenership the goddess Istar loved me. For 45 years the kingdom I have ruled, and the black-headed (Accadian) race have governed.”

175.  This strange notion may have been derived from some Eastern source, since it occurs in Indian fictions; for example, in Dr. Rájendralála Mitra’s “Sanskrit Buddhist Literature of Nepál,” p. 304, we read that “there lived in the village of Vásava a rich householder who had born unto him a son with a jewelled ring in his ear.” And in the “Mahábhárata” we are told of a king who had a son from whose body issued nothing but gold—the prototype of the gold-laying goose.

176.  Connected with this romance is the tale of “The Six Swans,” in Grimm’s collection—see Mrs. Hunt’s English translation, vol. i. p. 192.

177.  Mahbúb: a piece of gold, value about 10 francs; replaces the dinár of old tales. Those in Egypt are all since the time of the Turks: 9, 7, or 6½ frs. according to issue—Note by Spitta Bey.

178.  Here again we have the old superstition of “blood speaking to blood,” referred to by Sir Richard, ante, p. 531, note 3. It often occurs in Asiatic stories. Thus in the Persian “Bakhtyár Náma,” when the adopted son of the robber-chief is brought with other captives, before the king (he is really the king’s own son, whom he and the queen abandoned in their flight through the desert), his majesty’s bowels strangely yearned towards the youth, and in the conclusion this is carried to absurdity: when Bakhtyár is found to be the son of the royal pair, “the milk sprang from the breasts of the queen,” as she looked on him—albeit she must then have been long past child-bearing!

179.  The enchanted pitcher does duty here for the witches’ broomstick and the fairies’ rush of European tales, but a similar conveyance is, I think, not unknown to Western folk-lore.

180.  In a Norse story the hero on entering a forbidden room in a troll’s house finds a horse with a pan of burning coals under his nose and a measure of corn at his tail; and when he removes the coals and substitutes the corn, the horse becomes his friend and adviser.

181.  M. Dozon does not think that Muslim customs allow of a man’s marrying three sisters at once; but we find the king does the same in the modern Arab version.

182.  London: Macmillan and Co., p. 236 ff.

183.  This recalls the biblical legend of the widow’s cruse, which has its exact counterpart in Singhalese folk-lore.

184.  This recalls the story of the herd-boy who cried “Wolf! wolf!”

185.  Again the old notion of maternal and paternal instincts; but the children don’t often seem in folk-tales, to have a similar impulsive affection for their unknown parents.

186.  Colotropis gigantea.

187.  Rákshasas and rákshasís are male and female demons, or ogres, in the Hindú mythology.

188.  Literally, the king of birds, a fabulous species of horse remarkable for swiftness, which plays an important part in Tamil stories and romances.

189.  Here we have a parallel to the biblical legend of the passage of the Israelites dryshod over the Red Sea.

190.  Demons, ogres, trolls, giants, et hoc genus omne, never fail to discover the presence of human beings by their keen sense of smelling. “Fee, faw, fum! I smell the blood of a British man,” cries a giant when the renowned hero Jack is concealed in his castle. “Fum! fum! sento odor christianum,” exclaims an ogre in Italian folk-tales. “Femme, je sens la viande fraîche, la chair de chrétien!” says a giant to his wife in French stories.

191.  In my “Popular Tales and Fictions” a number of examples are cited of life depending on some extraneous object—vol. i. pp. 347–351.

192.  In the Tamil story-book, the English translation of which is called “The Dravidian Nights’ Entertainments,” a wandering princess, finding the labour pains coming upon her, takes shelter in the house of a dancing-woman, who says to the nurses, “If she gives birth to a daughter, it is well [because the woman could train her to follow her own ‘profession’], but if a son, I do not want him;—close her eyes, remove him to a place where you can kill him, and throwing a bit of wood on the ground tell her she has given birth to it.”—I daresay that a story similar to the Bengalí version exists among the Tamils.

193.  It is to be hoped we shall soon have Sir Richard Burton’s promised complete English translation of this work, since one half is, I understand, already done.


  1. Silently corrected typographical errors and variations in spelling.
  2. Retained anachronistic, non-standard, and uncertain spellings as printed.
  3. Footnotes have been re-indexed using numbers and collected together at the end of the last chapter.

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