The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night, Volume 7
by Richard F. Burton
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"Each portion of her charms we see * Seems of the whole a simile"

I was overawed by her, O Commander of the Faithful, and drew near her to greet her, and behold, the house and vestibule and highways breathed fragrant with musk. So I saluted her and she returned my salaam with a voice dejected and heart depressed and with the ardour of passion consumed. Then said I to her, "O my lady, I am an old man and a stranger and sore troubled by thirst. Wilt thou order me a draught of water, and win reward in heaven?" She cried, "Away, O Shaykh, from me! I am distracted from all thought of meat and drink."—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Six Hundred and Ninety-fourth Night,

She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the damsel said, "O Shaykh, I am distracted from all thought of meat and drink." Quoth I (continued Husayn), "By what ailment, O my lady?" and quoth she, "I love one who dealeth not justly by me and I desire one who of me will none. Wherefore I am afflicted with the wakefulness of those who wake star gazing." I asked, "O my lady, is there on the wide expanse of earth one to whom thou hast a mind and who to thee hath no mind?" Answered she, "Yes; and this for the perfection of beauty and loveliness and goodliness wherewith he is endowed." "And why standeth thou in this porch?" enquired I. "This is his road," replied she, "and the hour of his passing by." I said, "O my lady, have ye ever foregathered and had such commerce and converse as might cause this passion?" At this she heaved a deep sigh; the tears rained down her cheeks, as they were dew falling upon roses, and she versified with these couplets,

"We were like willow boughs in garden shining * And scented joys in happiest life combining; Whenas one bough from other self would rend * And oh! thou seest this for that repining!"

Quoth I, "O maid, and what betideth thee of thy love for this man?"; and quoth she, "I see the sun upon the walls of his folk and I think the sun is he; or haply I catch sight of him unexpectedly and am confounded and the blood and the life fly my body and I abide in unreasoning plight a week or e'en a se'nnight." Said I, "Excuse me, for I also have suffered that which is upon thee of love longing and distraction of soul and wasting of frame and loss of strength; and I see in thee pallor of complexion and emaciation, such as testify of the fever fits of desire. But how shouldst thou be unsmitten of passion and thou a sojourner in the land of Bassorah?" Said she, "By Allah, before I fell in love of this youth, I was perfect in beauty and loveliness and amorous grace which ravished all the Princes of Bassorah, till he fell in love with me." I asked, "O maid, and who parted you?"; and she answered, "The vicissitudes of fortune, but the manner of our separation was strange; and 'twas on this wise. One New Year's day I had invited the damsels of Bassorah and amongst them a girl belonging to Siran, who had bought her out of Oman for four score thousand dirhams. She loved me and loved me to madness and when she entered she threw herself upon me and well nigh tore me in pieces with bites and pinches.[FN#159] Then we withdrew apart, to drink wine at our ease, till our meat was ready[FN#160] and our delight was complete, and she toyed with me and I with her, and now I was upon her and now she was upon me. Presently, the fumes of the wine moved her to strike her hand on the inkle of my petticoat trousers, whereby it became loosed, unknown of either of us, and my trousers fell down in our play. At this moment he came in unobserved and, seeing me thus, was wroth at the sight and made off, as the Arab filly hearing the tinkle of her bridle."—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

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

She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the maiden said to Husayn al-Khali'a, "When my lover saw me playing, as I described to thee, with Siran's girl, he went forth in anger. And 'tis now, O Shaykh, three years ago, and since then I have never ceased to excuse myself to him and coax him and crave his indulgence, but he will neither cast a look at me from the corner of his eye, nor write me a word nor speak to me by messenger nor hear from me aught." Quoth I, "Harkye maid, is he an Arab or an Ajam?"; and quoth she, "Out on thee! He is of the Princes of Bassorah." "Is he old or young?" asked I; and she looked at me laughingly and answered, "Thou art certainly a simpleton! He is like the moon on the night of its full, smooth checked and beardless, nor is there any defect in him except his aversion to me." Then I put the question, "What is his name?" and she replied, "What wilt thou do with him?" I rejoined, "I will do my best to come at him, that I may bring about reunion between you." Said she, "I will tell thee on condition that thou carry him a note;" and I said "I have no objection to that." Then quoth she, "His name is Zamrah bin al-Mughayrah, hight Abu al-Sakha,[FN#161] and his palace is in the Mirbad." Therewith she called to those within for inkcase and paper and tucking up[FN#162] her sleeves, showed two wrists like broad rings of silver. She then wrote after the Basmalah as follows, "My lord, the omission of blessings[FN#163] at the head of this my letter shows mine insufficiency, and know that had my prayer been answered, thou hadst never left me; for how often have I prayed that thou shouldest not leave me, and yet thou didst leave me! Were it not that distress with me exceedeth the bounds of restraint, that which thy servant hath forced herself to do in writing this writ were an aidance to her, despite her despair of thee, because of her knowledge of thee that thou wilt fail to answer. Do thou fulfil her desire, my lord, of a sight of thee from the porch, as thou passest in the street, wherewith thou wilt quicken the dead soul in her. Or, far better for her still than this, do thou write her a letter with thine own hand (Allah endow it with all excellence!), and appoint it in requital of the intimacy that was between us in the nights of time past, whereof thou must preserve the memory. My lord, was I not to thee a lover sick with passion? An thou answer my prayer, I will give to thee thanks and to Allah praise; and so The Peace!"[FN#164] Then she gave me the letter and I went away. Next morning I repaired to the door of the Viceroy Mohammed bin Sulayman, where I found an assembly of the notables of Bassorah, and amongst them a youth who adorned the gathering and surpassed in beauty and brightness all who were there; and indeed the Emir Mohammed set him above himself. I asked who he was and behold, it was Zamrah himself: so I said in my mind, "Verily, there hath befallen yonder unhappy one that which hath befallen her[FN#165]!" Then I betook myself to the Mirbad and stood waiting at the door of his house, till he came riding up in state, when I accosted him and invoking more than usual blessings on him, handed him the missive. When he read it and understood it he said to me, "O Shaykh, we have taken other in her stead. Say me, wilt thou see the substitute?" I answered, "Yes." Whereupon he called out a woman's name, and there came forth a damsel who shamed the two greater lights; swelling breasted, walking the gait of one who hasteneth without fear, to whom he gave the note, saying, "Do thou answer it." When she read it, she turned pale at the contents and said to me, " O old man, crave pardon of Allah for this that thou hast brought." So I went out, O Commander of the Faithful, dragging my feet and returning to her asked leave to enter. When she saw me, she asked, "What is behind thee?"; and I answered, "Evil and despair." Quoth she, "Have thou no concern of him. Where are Allah and His power?"[FN#166] Then she ordered me five hundred dinars and I took them and went away. Some days after I passed by the place and saw there horsemen and footmen. So I went in and lo! these were the companions of Zamrah, who were begging her to return to him; but she said, "No, by Allah, I will not look him in the face!" And she prostrated herself in gratitude to Allah and exultation over Zamrah's defeat. Then I drew near her, and she pulled out to me a letter, wherein was written, after the Bismillah, "My lady, but for my forbearance towards thee (whose life Allah lengthen!) I would relate somewhat of what betided from thee and set out my excuse, in that thou transgressedst against me, whenas thou west manifestly a sinner against thyself and myself in breach of vows and lack of constancy and preference of another over us; for, by Allah, on whom we call for help against that which was of thy free will, thou didst transgress against the love of me; and so The Peace!" Then she showed me the presents and rarities he had sent her, which were of the value of thirty thousand dinars. I saw her again after this, and Zamrah had married her. Quoth Al-Rashid, "Had not Zamrah been beforehand with us, I should certainly have had to do with her myself."[FN#167] And men tell the tale of


Quoth Ishak bin Ibrahim al-Mausili: I was in my house one night in the winter time, when the clouds had dispread themselves and the rains poured down in torrents, as from the mouths of water skins, and the folk forbore to come and go about the ways for that which was therein of rain and slough. Now I was straitened in breast because none of my brethren came to me nor could I go to them, by reason of the mud and mire; so I said to my servant, "Bring me wherewithal I may divert myself." Accordingly he brought me meat and drink, but I had no heart to eat, without some one to keep me company, and I ceased not to look out of window and watch the ways till nightfall, when I bethought myself of a damsel belonging to one of the sons of Al-Mahdi,[FN#169] whom I loved and who was skilled in singing and playing upon instruments of music, and said to myself, "Were she here with us to night, my joy would be complete and my night would be abridged of the melancholy and restlessness which are upon me." At this moment one knocked at the door, saying, "Shall a beloved enter in who standeth at the door?" Quoth I to myself, "Meseems the plant of my desire hath fruited." So I went to the door and found my mistress, with a long green skirt[FN#170] wrapped about her and a kerchief of brocade on her head, to fend her from the rain. She was covered with mud to her knees and all that was upon her was drenched with water from gargoyles[FN#171] and house spouts; in short, she was in sorry plight. So I said to her, "O my mistress, what bringeth thee hither through all this mud?" Replied she, "Thy messenger came and set forth to me that which was with thee of love and longing, so that I could not choose but yield and hasten to thee." I marvelled at this And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

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

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the damsel came and knocked at Ishak's door, he went forth to her and cried, 'O my lady, what bringeth thee hither through all this mud?"; and she replied, "Thy messenger came and set forth to me that which was with thee of love and longing, so that I could not choose but yield and hasten to thee." I marvelled at this, but did not like to tell her that I had sent no messenger; wherefore I said, "Praised be Allah for that He hath brought us together, after all I have suffered by the mortification of patience! Verily, hadst thou delayed an hour longer, I must have run to thee, because of my much love for thee and longing for thy presence." Then I called to my boy for water, that I might better her plight, and he brought a kettle full of hot water such as she wanted. I bade pour it over her feet, whilst I set to work to wash them myself; after which I called for one of my richest dresses and clad her therein after she had doffed the muddy clothes. Then, as soon as we were comfortably seated, I would have called for food, but she refused and I said to her, "Art thou for wine?"; and she replied, "Yes." So I fetched cups and she asked me, "Who shall sing?" "I, O my princess!" "I care not for that;" "One of my damsels?" "I have no mind to that either!" "Then sing thyself." "Not I!" "Who then shall sing for thee?" I enquired, and she rejoined, "Go out and seek some one to sing for me." So I went out, in obedience to her, though I despaired of finding any one in such weather and fared on till I came to the main street, where I suddenly saw a blind man striking the earth with his staff and saying, "May Allah not requite with weal those with whom I was! When I sang, they listened not, and when I was silent, they made light of me." So I said to him, "Art thou a singer?" and he replied, "Yes." Quoth I, "Wilt thou finish thy night with us and cheer us with thy company?"; and quoth he, "If it be thy will, take my hand." So I took his hand and, leading him to my house, said to the damsel, "O my mistress, I have brought a blind singer, with whom we may take our pleasure and he will not see us." She said, "Bring him to me." So I brought him in and invited him to eat. He ate but a very little and washed his hands, after which I brought him wine and he drank three cupsful. Then he said to me, "Who art thou?"; and I replied, "I am Ishak bin Ibrahim al-Mausili." Quoth he, "I have heard of thee and now I rejoice in thy company;" and I, "O my lord, I am glad in thy gladness." He said, "O Ishak, sing to me." So I took the lute by way of jest, and cried, "I hear and I obey." When I had made an end of my song, he said to me, "O Ishak, thou comest nigh to be a singer!" His words belittled me in mine own eyes and I threw the lute from my hand, whereupon he said, "Hast thou not with thee some one who is skilled in singing?" Quoth I, "I have a damsel with me;" and quoth he "Bid her sing." I asked him, "Wilt thou sing, when thou hast had enough of her singing?"; and he answered "Yes." So she sang and he said, "Nay, thou hast shown no art." Whereupon she flung the lute from her hand in wrath and cried, "We have done our best: if thou have aught, favour us with it by way of an alms." Quoth he, "Bring me a lute hand hath not touched." So I bade the servant bring him a new lute and he tuned it and preluding in a mode I knew not began to sing, improvising these couplets,

"Clove through the shades and came to me in night so dark and sore * The lover weeting of herself 'twas trysting tide once more: Naught startled us but her salaam and first of words she said * 'May a beloved enter in who standeth at the door!'"

When the girl heard this, she looked at me askance and said, "What secret was between us could not thy breast hold for one hour, but thou must discover it to this man?" However, I swore to her that I had not told him and excused myself to her and fell to kissing her hands and tickling her breasts and biting her cheeks, till she laughed and, turning to the blind man, said to him, "Sing, O my lord!" So he took the lute and sang these two couplets,

"Ah, often have I sought the fair; how often fief and fain * My palming felt the finger ends that bear the varied stain! And tickled pouting breasts that stand firm as pomegranates twain * And bit the apple of her cheek kissed o'er and o'er again."

So I said to her, "O my princess, who can have told him what we were about?" Replied she, "True," and we moved away from him. Presently quoth he, "I must make water;" and quoth I, "O boy, take the candle and go before him." Then he went out and tarried a long while. So we went in search of him, but could not find him; and behold, the doors were locked and the keys in the closet, and we knew not whether to heaven he had flown or into earth had sunk. Wherefore I knew that he was Iblis and that he had done me pimp's duty, and I returned, recalling to my self the words of Abu Nowas in these couplets,

"I marvel in Iblis such pride to see * Beside his low intent and villainy: He sinned to Adam who to bow refused, * Yet pimps for all of Adam's progeny,"

And they tell a tale concerning


Quoth Ibrahim the father of Ishak,[FN#172] I was ever a devoted friend to the Barmecide family. And it so happened to me one day, as I sat at home quite alone, a knock was heard at the door; so my servant went out and returned, saying, "A comely youth is at the door, asking admission." I bade admit him and there came in to me a young man, on whom were signs of sickness, and he said, "I have long wished to meet thee, for I have need of thine aid." "What is it thou requirest?" asked I. Whereupon he pulled out three hundred dinars and laying them before me, said, "I beseech thee to accept these and compose me an air to two couplets I have made." Said I, "Repeat them to me;"—and Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

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

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the youth came in to Ibrahim and placed the gold in his hands, saying, "Prithee accept it and compose me an air to two couplets," he replied, "Recite them to me," whereupon he recited,

"By Allah, glance of mine! thou hast opprest * My heart, so quench the fire that burns my breast Blames me the world because in him[FN#173] * I live Yet cannot see him till in shroud I rest."

Accordingly, quoth Ibrahim, I set the verses to an air plaintive as a dirge and sang it to him; whereupon he swooned away and I thought that he was dead. However, after a while, he came to himself, and said to me, "Repeat the air." But I conjured him by Allah to excuse me, saying, "I fear lest thou die." "Would Heaven it were so!" replied he and ceased not humbly to importune me, till I had pity on him and repeated it; whereupon he cried out with a grievous cry and fell into a fit worse than before and I doubted not but that he was dead; but I sprinkled rose water on him till he revived and sat up. I praised Allah for his recovery and laying the ducats before him, said, "Take thy money and depart from me." Quoth he, "I have no need of the money and thou shalt have the like of it, if thou wilt repeat the air." My breast broadened at the mention of the money and I said, "I will repeat it, but on three conditions: the first, that thou tarry with me and eat of my victual, till thou regain strength; the second, that thou drink wine enough to hearten thy heart, and the third, that thou tell me thy tale." He agreed to this and ate and drank; after which he said, "I am of the citizens of Al-Medinah and I went forth one day a pleasuring with my friends; and, following the road to Al-Akik,[FN#174] saw a company of girls and amongst them a damsel as she were a branch pearled with dew with eyes whose sidelong glances were never withdrawn till they had stolen away his soul who looked on them. The maidens rested in the shade till the end of the day, when they went away leaving in my heart wounds slow to heal. I returned next morning to scent out news of her, but found none who could tell me of her; so I sought her in the streets and markets, but could come on no trace of her; wherefore I fell ill of grief and told my case to one of my kinsmen, who said to me, 'No harm shall befall thee: the days of spring are not yet past and the skies show sign of rain,[FN#175] whereupon she will go forth, and I will go out with thee, and do thou thy will.' His words comforted my heart and I waited till al-Akik ran with water, when I went forthwith my friends and kinsmen and sat in the very same place where I first saw her. We had not been seated long before up came the women, like horses running for a wager; and I whispered to a girl of my kindred, 'Say to yonder damse— 'Quoth this man to thee, He did well who spoke this couplet,

'She shot my heart with shaft, then turned on heel * And flying dealt fresh wound and scarring wheel.'

So she went to her and repeated my words, to which she replied saying, 'Tell him that he said well who answered in this couplet,

'The like of whatso feelest thou we feel; * Patience! perchance swift cure our hearts shall heal.'

I refrained from further speech for fear of scandal and rose to go away. She rose at my rising, and I followed and she looked back at me, till she saw I had noted her abode. Then she began to come to me and I to go to her, so that we foregathered and met often, till the case was noised abroad and grew notorious and her sire came to know of it. However I ceased not to meet her most assiduously and complained of my condition to my father, who assembled our kindred and repaired to ask her in marriage for me, of her sire, who cried, 'Had this been proposed to me before he gave her a bad name by his assignations, I would have consented; but now the thing is notorious and I am loath to verify the saying of the folk.' " Then (continued Ibrahim) I repeated the air to him and he went away, after having acquainted me with his abode, and we became friends. Now I was devoted to the Barmecides; so next time Ja'afar bin Yahya sat to give audience, I attended, as was my wont, and sang to him the young man's verses. They pleased him and he drank some cups of wine and said, "Fie upon thee whose song is this?" So I told him the young man's tale and he bade me ride over to him and give him assurances of the winning of his wish. Accordingly I fetched him to Ja'afar who asked him to repeat his story. He did so and Ja'afar said, "Thou art now under my protection: trust me to marry thee to her." So his heart was comforted and he abode with us. When the morning morrowed Ja'afar mounted and went in to Al-Rashid, to whom he related the story. The Caliph was pleased with it and sending for the young man and myself, commanded me to repeat the air and drank thereto. Then he wrote to the Governor of Al-Hijaz, bidding him despatch the girl's father and his household in honour able fashion to his presence and spare no expense for their outfit. So, in a little while, they came and the Caliph, sending for the man, commanded him to marry his daughter to her lover; after which he gave him an hundred thousand dinars, and the father went back to his folk. As for the young man, he abode one of Ja'afar's cup companions till there happened what happened[FN#176] whereupon he returned with his household to al-Medinah; may Almighty Allah have mercy upon their souls one and all! And they also tell, O auspicious King, a tale of


There was given to Abu Amir bin Marwan,[FN#177] a boy of the Christians, than whom never fell eyes on a handsomer. Al-Nasir the conquering Soldan saw him and said to Abu Amir, who was his Wazir, "Whence cometh this boy?" Replied he, "From Allah;" whereupon the other, "Wilt thou terrify us with stars and make us prisoner with moons?" Abu Amir excused himself to him and preparing a present, sent it to him with the boy, to whom he said, "Be thou part of the gift: were it not of necessity, my soul had not consented to give thee away." And he wrote with him these two couplets,

"My lord, this full moon takes in Heaven of thee new birth; * Nor can deny we Heaven excelleth humble earth: Thee with my soul I please and oh! the pleasant case! * No man e'er saw I who to give his soul prefer'th."

The thing pleased Al-Nasir and he requited him with much treasure and the Minister became high in favour with him. After this, there was presented to the Wazir a slave girl, one of the loveliest women in the world, and he feared lest this should come to the King's ears and he desire her, and the like should happen as with the boy. So he made up a present still costlier than the first and sent it with her to the King,—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

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

She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Wazir Abu Amir, when presented with the beautiful slave girl, feared lest it come to the Conquering King's ears and that the like should happen as with the boy, so he made up a present still costlier than the first and sent it with her to his master, accompanying it with these couplets,

"My lord, this be the Sun, the Moon thou hadst before; * So the two greater lights now in thy Heaven unite: Conjunction promising to me prosperity, * And Kausar draught to thee and Eden's long delight. Earth shows no charms, by Allah, ranking as their third, * Nor King who secondeth our Conquering King in might."

Wherefore his credit redoubled with al-Nasir; but, after a while, one of his enemies maligned him to the King, alleging that there still lurked in him a hot lust for the boy and that he ceased not to desire him, whenever the cool northern breezes moved him, and to gnash his teeth for having given him away. Cried the King, "Wag not thou thy tongue at him, or I will shear off thy head." However, he wrote Abu Amir a letter, as from the boy. to the following effect: "O my lord, thou knowest that thou wast all and one to me and that I never ceased from delight with thee. Albeit I am with the Sultan, yet would I choose rather solitude with thee, but that I fear the King's majesty: wherefore devise thou to demand me of him." This letter he sent to Abu Amir by a little foot page, whom he enjoined to say, "This is from such an one: the King never speaketh to him." When the Wazir read the letter and heard the cheating message, he noted the poison draught[FN#178] and wrote on the back of the note these couplets,

"Shall man experience-lectured ever care * Fool-like to thrust his head in lion's lair? I'm none of those whose wits to love succumb * Nor witless of the snares my foes prepare: Wert thou my sprite, I'd give thee loyally; * Shall sprite, from body sundered, backwards fare?"

When al-Nasir knew of this answer, he marvelled at the Wazir's quickness of wit and would never again lend ear to aught of insinuations against him. Then said he to him, "How didst thou escape falling into the net?" And he replied, "Because my reason is unentangled in the toils of passion." And they also tell a tale of


There lived in the time of Harun al-Rashid a man named Ahmad al-Danaf and another Hasan Shuman[FN#180] hight, the twain past-masters in fraud and feints, who had done rare things in their day; wherefore the Caliph invested them with caftans of honour and made them Captains of the Watch for Baghdad (Ahmad of the right hand and Hasan of the left hand); and appointed to each of them a stipend of a thousand dinars a month and forty stalwart men to be at their bidding. Moreover to Calamity Ahmad was committed the watch of the district outside the walls. So Ahmad and Hasan went forth in company of the Emir Khalid, the Wali or Chief of Police, attended each by his forty followers on horse-back, and preceded by the Crier, crying aloud and saying, "By command of the Caliph! None is captain of the watch of the right hand but Ahmad al- Danaf and none is captain of the watch of the left hand but Hasan Shuman, and both are to be obeyed when they bid and are to be held in all honour and worship." Now there was in the city an old woman called Dalilah the Wily, who had a daughter by name Zaynab the Coney-catcher. They heard the proclamation made and Zaynab said to Dalilah, "See, O my mother, this fellow, Ahmad al-Danaf! He came hither from Cairo, a fugitive, and played the double-dealer in Baghdad, till he got into the Caliph's company and is now become captain of the right hand, whilst that mangy chap Hasan Shuman is captain of the left hand, and each hath a table spread morning and evening and a monthly wage of a thousand dinars; whereas we abide unemployed and neglected in this house, without estate and without honour, and have none to ask of us." Now Dalilah's husband had been town-captain of Baghdad with a monthly wage of one thousand dinars; but he died leaving two daughters, one married and with a son by name Ahmad al- Lakit[FN#181] or Ahmad the Abortion; and the other called Zaynab, a spinster. And this Dalilah was a past mistress in all manner of craft and trickery and double dealing; she could wile the very dragon out of his den and Iblis himself might have learnt deceit of her. Her father[FN#182] had also been governor of the carrier-pigeons to the Caliph with a solde of one thousand dinars a month. He used to rear the birds to carry letters and messages, wherefore in time of need each was dearer to the Caliph than one of his own sons. So Zaynab said to her mother, "Up and play off some feint and fraud that may haply make us notorious"—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

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

She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Zaynab thus addressed her dam, "Up and play off some feint and fraud which may haply make us notorious in Baghdad, so perchance we shall win our father's stipend for ourselves." Replied the old trot, "As thy head liveth, O my daughter, I will play off higher-class rogueries in Baghdad than ever played Calamity Ahmad or Hasan the Pestilent." So saying, she rose and threw over her face the Lisam-veil and donned clothes such as the poorer Sufis wear, petticoat-trousers falling over her heels, and a gown of white wool with a broad girdle. She also took a pitcher[FN#183] and filled it with water to the neck; after which she set three dinars in the mouth and stopped it up with a plug of palm-fibre. Then she threw round her shoulder, baldrick-wise, a rosary as big as a load of firewood, and taking in her hand a flag, made of parti-coloured rags, red and yellow and green, went out, crying, "Allah! Allah!" with tongue celebrating the praises of the Lord, whilst her heart galloped in the Devil's race- course, seeking how she might play some sharping trick upon town. She walked from street to street, till she came to an alley swept and watered and marble-paved, where she saw a vaulted gateway, with a threshold of alabaster, and a Moorish porter standing at the door, which was of sandalwood plated with brass and furnished with a ring of silver for knocker. Now this house belonged to the Chief of the Caliph's Serjeant-ushers, a man of great wealth in fields, houses and allowances, called the Emir Hasan Sharr al-Tarik, or Evil of the Way, and therefor called because his blow forewent his word. He was married to a fair damsel, Khatun[FN#184] hight, whom he loved and who had made him swear, on the night of his going in unto her, that he would take none other to wife over her nor lie abroad for a single night. And so things went on till one day, he went to the Divan and saw that each Emir had with him a son or two. Then he entered the Hammam-bath and looking at his face in the mirror, noted that the white hairs in his beard overlay its black, and he said in himself, "Will not He who took thy sire bless thee with a son?" So he went in to his wife, in angry mood, and she said to him, "Good evening to thee"; but he replied, "Get thee out of my sight: from the day I saw thee I have seen naught of good." "How so?" quoth she. Quoth he, "On the night of my going in unto thee, thou madest me swear to take no other wife over thee, and this very day I have seen each Emir with a son and some with two. So I minded me of death[FN#185]; and also that to me hath been vouchsafed neither son nor daughter and that whoso leaveth no male hath no memory. This, then, is the reason of my anger, for thou art barren; and knowing thee is like planing a rock." Cried she, "Allah's name upon thee. Indeed, I have worn out the mortars with beating wool and pounding drugs,[FN#186] and I am not to blame; the barrenness is with thee, for that thou art a snub-nosed mule and thy sperm is weak and watery and impregnateth not neither getteth children." Said he, "When I return from my journey, I will take another wife;" and she, "My luck is with Allah!" Then he went out from her and both repented of the sharp words spoken each to other. Now as the Emir's wife looked forth of her lattice, as she were a Bride of the Hoards[FN#187] for the jewellery upon her, behold, there stood Dalilah espying her and seeing her clad in costly clothes and ornaments, said to herself, "'Twould be a rare trick, O Dalilah, to entice yonder young lady from her husband's house and strip her of all her jewels and clothes and make off with the whole lot." So she took up her stand under the windows of the Emir's house, and fell to calling aloud upon Allah's name and saying, "Be present, O ye Walis, ye friends of the Lord!" Whereupon every woman in the street looked from her lattice and, seeing a matron clad, after Sufi fashion, in clothes of white wool, as she were a pavilion of light, said, "Allah bring us a blessing by the aidance of this pious old person, from whose face issueth light!" And Khatun, the wife of the Emir Hasan, burst into tears and said to her handmaid, "Get thee down, O Makbulah, and kiss the hand of Shaykh Abu Ali, the porter, and say to him, 'Let yonder Religious enter to my lady, so haply she may get a blessing of her.'" So she went down to the porter and kissing his hand, said to him, "My mistress telleth thee, 'Let yonder pious old woman come in to me, so may I get a blessing of her'; and belike her benediction may extend to us likewise."—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Seven Hundredth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the handmaid went down and said to the porter, "Suffer yonder Religious enter to my lady so haply she may get a blessing of her, and we too may be blessed, one and all," the gate-keeper went up to Dalilah and kissed her hand, but she forbade him, saying, "Away from me, lest my ablution be made null and void.[FN#188] Thou, also, art of the attracted God-wards and kindly looked upon by Allah's Saints and under His especial guardianship. May He deliver thee from this servitude, O Abu Ali!" Now the Emir owed three months' wage to the porter who was straitened thereby, but knew not how to recover his due from his lord; so he said to the old woman, "O my mother, give me to drink from thy pitcher, so I may win a blessing through thee." She took the ewer from her shoulder and whirled it about in air, so that the plug flew out of its mouth and the three dinars fell to the ground. The porter saw them and picked them up, saying in his mind, "Glory to God! This old woman is one of the Saints that have hoards at their command! It hath been revealed to her of me that I am in want of money for daily expenses; so she hath conjured me these three dinars out of the air." Then said he to her, "Take, O my aunt, these three dinars which fell from thy pitcher;" and she replied, "Away with them from me! I am of the folk who occupy not themselves with the things of the world, no never! Take them and use them for thine own benefit, in lieu of those the Emir oweth thee." Quoth he, "Thanks to Allah for succour! This is of the chapter of revelation!" Thereupon the maid accosted her and kissing her hand, carried her up to her mistress. She found the lady as she were a treasure, whose guardian talisman had been loosed; and Khatun bade her welcome and kissed her hand. Quoth she, "O my daughter, I come not to thee save for thy weal and by Allah's will." Then Khatun set food before her; but she said, "O my daughter, I eat naught except of the food of Paradise and I keep continual fast breaking it but five days in the year. But, O my child, I see thee chagrined and desire that thou tell me the cause of thy concern." "O my mother," replied Khatun, "I made my husband swear, on my wedding-night, that he would wive none but me, and he saw others with children and longed for them and said to me, 'Thou art a barren thing!' I answered, 'Thou art a mule which begetteth not'; so he left me in anger, saying, 'When I come back from my journey, I will take another wife,' for he hath villages and lands and large allowances, and if he begat children by another, they will possess the money and take the estates from me." Said Dalilah, "O my daughter, knowest thou not of my master, the Shaykh Abu al-Hamlat,[FN#189] whom if any debtor visit, Allah quitteth him his debt, and if a barren woman, she conceiveth?" Khatun replied, "O my mother, since the day of my wedding I have not gone forth the house, no, not even to pay visits of condolence or congratulation." The old woman rejoined, "O my child, I will carry thee to him and do thou cast thy burden on him and make a vow to him: haply when thy husband shall return from his journey and lie with thee thou shalt conceive by him and bear a girl or a boy: but, be it female or male, it shall be a dervish of the Shaykh Abu al-Hamlat." Thereupon Khatun rose and arrayed herself in her richest raiment, and donning all her jewellery said, "Keep thou an eye on the house," to her maid, who replied, "I hear and obey, O my lady." Then she went down and the porter Abu Ali met her and asked her, "Whither away, O my lady?" "I go to visit the Shaykh Abu al-Hamlat;" answered she; and he, "Be a year's fast incumbent on me! Verily yon Religious is of Allah's saints and full of holiness, O my lady, and she hath hidden treasure at her command, for she gave me three dinars of red gold and divined my case, without my asking her, and knew that I was in want." Then the old woman went out with the young lady Khatun, saying to her, "Inshallah, O my daughter, when thou hast visited the Shaykh Abu al-Hamlat, there shall betide thee solace of soul and by leave of Almighty Allah thou shalt conceive, and thy husband the Emir shall love thee by the blessing of the Shaykh and shall never again let thee hear a despiteful word." Quoth Khatun, "I will go with thee to visit him, O my mother!" But Dalilah said to herself, "Where shall I strip her and take her clothes and jewellery, with the folk coming and going?" Then she said to her, "O my daughter, walk thou behind me, within sight of me, for this thy mother is a woman sorely burdened; everyone who hath a burden casteth it on me and all who have pious offerings[FN#190] to make give them to me and kiss my hand." So the young lady followed her at a distance, whilst her anklets tinkled and her hair-coins[FN#191] clinked as she went, till they reached the bazar of the merchants. Presently, they came to the shop of a young merchant, by name Sidi Hasan who was very handsome[FN#192] and had no hair on his face. He saw the lady approaching and fell to casting stolen glances at her, which when the old woman saw, she beckoned to her and said, "Sit down in this shop, till I return to thee." Khatun obeyed her and sat down in the shop- front of the young merchant, who cast at her one glance of eyes that cost him a thousand sighs. Then the old woman accosted him and saluted him, saying, "Tell me, is not thy name Sidi Hasan, son of the merchant Mohsin?" He replied, "Yes, who told thee my name?" Quoth she, "Folk of good repute direct me to thee. Know that this young lady is my daughter and her father was a merchant who died and left her much money. She is come of marriageable age and the wise say, 'Offer thy daughter in marriage and not thy son'; and all her life she hath not come forth the house till this day. Now a divine warning and a command given in secret bid me wed her to thee; so, if thou art poor, I will give thee capital and will open for thee instead of one shop two shops." Thereupon quoth the young merchant to himself, "I asked Allah for a bride, and He hath given me three things, to wit, coin, clothing, and coynte." Then he continued to the old trot, "O my mother, that where-to thou directest me is well; but this long while my mother saith to me, 'I wish to marry thee,' but I object replying, 'I will not marry except on the sight of my own eyes.'" Said Dalilah, "Rise and follow my steps, and I will show her to thee, naked."[FN#193] So he rose and took a thousand dinars, saying in himself, "Haply we may need to buy somewhat"—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Seven Hundred and First Night,

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the old woman said to Hasan, son of Mohsin the merchant, "Rise up and follow me, and I will show her naked to thee." So he rose and took with him a thousand dinars, saying in himself, "Haply we may need to buy somewhat or pay the fees for drawing up the marriage contract." The old woman bade him walk behind the young lady at a distance but within shot of sight and said to herself, "Where wilt thou carry the young lady and the merchant that thou mayest strip them both whilst his shop is still shut?" Then she walked on and Khatun after her, followed by the young merchant, till she came to a dyery, kept by a master dyer, by name Hajj Mohammed, a man of ill-repute; like the colocasia[FN#194] seller's knife cutting male and female, and loving to eat both figs and pomegranates.[FN#195] He heard the tinkle of the ankle rings and, raising his head, saw the lady and the young man. Presently the old woman came up to him and, after salaming to him and sitting down opposite him, asked him, "Art thou not Hajj Mohammed the dyer?" He answered, "Yes, I am he: what dost thou want?" Quoth she, "Verily, folks of fair repute have directed me to thee. Look at yonder handsome girl, my daughter, and that comely beardless youth, my son; I brought them both up and spent much money on both of them. Now, thou must know that I have a big old ruinous house which I have shored up with wood, and the builder saith to me, 'Go and live in some other place, lest belike it fall upon thee; and when this is repaired return hither.' So I went forth to seek me a lodging, and people of worth directed me to thee, and I wish to lodge my son and daughter with thee." Quoth the dyer in his mind, "Verily, here is fresh butter upon cake come to thee." But he said to the old woman, "'Tis true I have a house and saloon and upper floor; but I cannot spare any part thereof, for I want it all for guests and for the indigo- growers my clients." She replied, "O my son, 'twill be only for a month or two at the most, till our house be repaired, and we are strange folk. Let the guest-chamber be shared between us and thee, and by thy life, O my son, an thou desire that thy guests be ours, we will welcome them and eat with them and sleep with them." Then he gave her the keys, one big and one small and one crooked, saying to her "The big key is that of the house, the crooked one that of the saloon and the little one that of the upper floor." So Dalilah took the keys and fared on, followed by the lady who forwent the young merchant, till she came to the lane wherein was the house. She opened the door and entered, introducing the damsel to whom said she, "O my daughter, this (pointing to the saloon) is the lodging of the Shaykh Abu al-Hamlat; but go thou into the upper floor and loose thy outer veil and wait till I come to thee." So she went up and sat down. Presently appeared the young merchant, whom Dalilah carried into the saloon, saying, "Sit down, whilst I fetch my daughter and show her to thee." So he sat down and the old trot went up to Khatun who said to her, "I wish to visit the Shaykh, before the folk come." Replied the beldame, "O my daughter, we fear for thee." Asked Khatun, "Why so?" and Dalilah answered, "Because here is a son of mine, a natural who knoweth not summer from winter, but goeth ever naked. He is the Shaykh's deputy and, if he saw a girl like thee come to visit his chief, he would snatch her earrings and tear her ears and rend her silken robes.[FN#196] So do thou doff thy jewellery and clothes and I will keep them for thee, till thou hast made thy pious visitation." Accordingly the damsel did off her outer dress and jewels and gave them to the old woman, who said, "I will lay them for thee on the Shaykh's curtain, that a blessing may betide thee." Then she went out, leaving the lady in her shift and petticoat-trousers, and hid the clothes and jewels in a place on the staircase; after which she betook herself to the young merchant, whom she found impatiently awaiting the girl, and he cried, "Where is thy daughter, that I may see her?" But she smote palm on breast and he said "What aileth thee?" Quoth she, "Would there were no such thing as the ill neighbour and the envious! They saw thee enter the house with me and asked me of thee; and I said, 'This is a bridegroom I have found for my daughter.' So they envied me on thine account and said to my girl, 'Is thy mother tired of keeping thee, that she marrieth thee to a leper?' There-upon I swore to her that she should not see thee save naked." Quoth he, "I take refuge with Allah from the envious," and baring his fore-arm, showed her that it was like silver. Said she, "Have no fear; thou shalt see her naked, even as she shall see thee naked;" and he said, "Let her come and look at me. Then he put off his pelisse and sables and his girdle and dagger and the rest of his raiment, except his shirt and bag-trousers, and would have laid the purse of a thousand dinars with them, but Dalilah cried, 'Give them to me, that I may take care of them." So she took them and fetching the girl's clothes and jewellery shouldered the whole and locking the door upon them went her ways.—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Seven Hundred and Second Night,

She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the old woman had taken the property of the young merchant and the damsel and wended her ways, having locked the door upon them, she deposited her spoils with a druggist of her acquaintance and returned to the dyer, whom she found sitting, awaiting her. Quoth he, "Inshallah, the house pleaseth thee?"; and quoth she, "There is a blessing in it; and I go now to fetch porters to carry hither our goods and furniture. But my children would have me bring them a panade with meat; so do thou take this dinar and buy the dish and go and eat the morning meal with them." Asked the dyer, "Who shall guard the dyery meanwhile and the people's goods that be therein?"; and the old woman answered, "Thy lad!" "So be it," rejoined he, and taking a dish and cover, went out to do her bidding. So far concerning the dyer who will again be mentioned in the tale; but as regards the old woman, she fetched the clothes and jewels she had left with the druggist and going back to the dyery, said to the lad, "Run after thy master, and I will not stir hence till you both return." "To hear is to obey," answered he and went away, while she began to collect all the customers' goods. Presently, there came up an ass-driver, a scavenger, who had been out of work for a week and who was an Hashish-eater to boot; and she called him, saying, "Hither, O donkey-boy!" So he came to her and she asked, "Knowest thou my son the dyer?"; whereto he answered, "Yes, I know him." Then she said, "The poor fellow is insolvent and loaded with debts, and as often as he is put in prison, I set him free. Now we wish to see him declared bankrupt and I am going to return the goods to their owners; so do thou lend me thine ass to carry the load and receive this dinar to its hire. When I am gone, take the handsaw and empty out the vats and jars and break them, so that if there come an officer from the Kazi's court, he may find nothing in the dyery." Quoth he, "I owe the Hajj a kindness and will do something for Allah's love." So she laid the things on the ass and, the Protector protecting her, made for her own house; so that she arrived there in safety and went in to her daughter Zaynab, who said to her, "O my mother, my heart bath been with thee! What hast thou done by way of roguery?" Dalilah replied, "I have played off four tricks on four wights; the wife of the Serjeant-usher, a young merchant, a dyer and an ass-driver, and have brought thee all their spoil on the donkey-boy's beast." Cried Zaynab, "O my mother, thou wilt never more be able to go about the town, for fear of the Serjeant-usher, whose wife's raiment and jewellery thou hast taken, and the merchant whom thou hast stripped naked, and the dyer whose customers' goods thou hast stolen and the owner of the ass." Rejoined the old woman, "Pooh, my girl! I reck not of them, save the donkey-boy, who knoweth me." Meanwhile the dyer bought the meat-panade and set out for the house, followed by his servant with the food on head. On his way thither, he passed his shop, where he found the donkey- boy breaking the vats and jars and saw that there was neither stuff nor liquor left in them and that the dyery was in ruins. So he said to him, "Hold thy hand, O ass-driver;" and the donkey-boy desisted and cried, "Praised be Allah for thy safety, O master! Verily my heart was with thee." "Why so?" "Thou art become bankrupt and they have filed a docket of thine insolvency." "Who told thee this?" "Thy mother told me, and bade me break the jars and empty the vats, that the Kazi's officers might find nothing in the shop, if they should come." "Allah confound the far One!"[FN#197] cried the dyer; "My mother died long ago." And he beat his breast, exclaiming, "Alas, for the loss of my goods and those of the folk!" The donkey-boy also wept and ejaculated, "Alas, for the loss of my ass!"; and he said to the dyer, "Give me back my beast which thy mother stole from me." The dyer laid hold of him by the throat and fell to buffeting him, saying, "Bring me the old woman;" whilst the other buffeted him in return saying, "Give me back my beast." So they beat and cursed each other, till the folk collected around them—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Seven Hundred and Third Night,

She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the dyer caught hold of the donkey-boy and the donkey-boy caught hold of the dyer and they beat and cursed each other till the folk collected round them and one of them asked, "What is the matter, O Master Mohammed?" The ass-driver answered, "I will tell thee the tale," and related to them his story, saying, "I deemed I was doing the dyer a good turn; but, when he saw me he beat his breast and said, 'My mother is dead.' And now, I for one require my ass of him, it being he who hath put this trick on me, that he might make me lose my beast." Then said the folk to the dyer, "O Master Mohammed, dost thou know this matron, that thou didst entrust her with the dyery and all therein?" And he replied, "I know her not; but she took lodgings with me to-day, she and her son and daughter." Quoth one, "In my judgment, the dyer is bound to indemnify the ass- driver." Quoth another, "Why so?" "Because," replied the first, "he trusted not the old Woman nor gave her his ass save only because he saw that the dyer had entrusted her with the dyery and its contents." And a third said, "O master, since thou hast lodged her with thee, it behoveth thee to get the man back his ass." Then they made for the house, and the tale will come round to them again. Mean-while, the young merchant remained awaiting the old woman's coming with her daughter, but she came not nor did her daughter; whilst the young lady in like manner sat expecting her return with leave from her son, the God-attended one, the Shaykh's deputy, to go in to the holy presence. So weary of waiting, she rose to visit the Shaykh by herself and went down into the saloon, where she found the young merchant, who said to her, "Come hither! where is thy mother, who brought me to marry thee?" She replied, "My mother is dead, art thou the old woman's son, the ecstatic, the deputy of the Shaykh Abu al-Hamlat?" Quoth he, "The swindling old trot is no mother of mine; she hath cheated me and taken my clothes and a thousand dinars." Quoth Khatun, "And me also hath she swindled for she brought me to see the Shaykh Abu al-Hamlat and in lieu of so doing she hath stripped me." Thereupon he, "I look to thee to make good my clothes and my thousand dinars;" and she, "I look to thee to make good my clothes and jewellery." And, behold, at this moment in came the dyer and seeing them both stripped of their raiment, said to them, "Tell me where your mother is." So the young lady related all that had befallen her and the young merchant related all that had betided him, and the Master-dyer exclaimed, "Alas, for the loss of my goods and those of the folk!"; and the ass-driver ejaculated, "Alas, for my ass! Give me, O dyer, my ass!" Then said the dyer, "This old woman is a sharper. Come forth, that I may lock the door." Quoth the young merchant, "'Twere a disgrace to thee that we should enter thy house dressed and go forth from it undressed." So the dyer clad him and the damsel and sent her back to her house where we shall find her after the return of her husband. Then he shut the dyery and said to the young merchant, "Come, let us go and search for the old woman and hand her over to the Wali,[FN#198] the Chief of Police." So they and the ass-man repaired to the house of the master of police and made their complaint to him. Quoth he, "O folk, what want ye?" and when they told him he rejoined, "How many old women are there not in the town! Go ye and seek for her and lay hands on her and bring her to me, and I will torture her for you and make her confess." So they sought for her all round the town; and an account of them will presently be given.[FN#199] As for old Dalilah the Wily, she said, "I have a mind to play off another trick," to her daughter who answered, "O my mother, I fear for thee;" but the beldam cried, "I am like the bean husks which fall, proof against fire and water." So she rose, and donning a slave-girl's dress of such as serve people of condition, went out to look for some one to defraud. Presently she came to a by-street, spread with carpets and lighted with hanging lamps, and heard a noise of singing-women and drumming of tambourines. Here she saw a handmaid bearing on her shoulder a boy, clad in trousers laced with silver and a little Aba-cloak of velvet, with a pearl embroidered Tarbush-cap on his head, and about his neck a collar of gold set with jewels. Now the house belonged to the Provost of the Merchants of Baghdad, and the boy was his son. He had a virgin daughter, to boot, who was promised in marriage, and it was her betrothal they were celebrating that day. There was with her mother a company of noble dames and singing-women, and whenever she went upstairs or down, the boy clung to her. So she called the slave-girl and said to her, "Take thy young master and play with him, till the company break up." Seeing this, Dalilah asked the handmaid, "What festivities are these in your mistress's house;" and was answered "She celebrates her daughter's betrothal this day, and she hath singing-women with her." Quoth the old woman to herself, "O Dalilah, the thing to do is to spirit away this boy from the maid,"—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Seven Hundred and Fourth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the old trot said to herself, "O Dalilah, the thing to do is to spirit away this boy from the maid!" she began crying out, "O disgrace! O ill luck!" Then pulling out a brass token, resembling a dinar, she said to the maid, who was a simpleton, "Take this ducat and go in to thy mistress and say to her, 'Umm al-Khayr rejoiceth with thee and is beholden to thee for thy favours, and on the day of assembly she and her daughters will visit thee and handsel the tiring-women with the usual gifts.'" Said the girl, "O my mother, my young master here catcheth hold of his mamma, whenever he seeth her;" and she replied "Give him to me, whilst thou goest in and comest back." So she gave her the child and taking the token, went in; whereupon Dalilah made off with the boy to a by-lane, where she stripped him of his clothes and jewels, saying to herself, "O Dalilah, 'twould indeed be the finest of tricks, even as thou hast cheated the maid and taken the boy from her, so now to carry on the game and pawn him for a thousand dinars." So she repaired to the jewel-bazar, where she saw a Jew goldsmith seated with a cage full of jewellery before him, and said to herself, "'Twould be a rare trick to chouse this Jew fellow and get a thousand gold pieces worth of jewellery from him and leave the boy in pledge for it." Presently the Jew looked at them and seeing the boy with the old woman, knew him for the son of the Provost of the Merchants. Now the Israelite was a man of great wealth, but would envy his neighbour if he sold and himself did not sell; so espying Dalilah, he said to her, "What seekest thou, O my mistress?" She asked, "Art thou Master Azariah[FN#200] the Jew?" having first enquired his name of others; and he answered, "Yes." Quoth she, "This boy's sister, daughter of the Shahbandar of the Merchants, is a promised bride, and to- day they celebrate her betrothal; and she hath need of jewellery. So give me two pair of gold ankle-rings, a brace of gold bracelets, and pearl ear-drops, with a girdle, a poignard and a seal-ring." He brought them out and she took of him a thousand dinars' worth of jewellery, saying, "I will take these ornaments on approval; and whatso pleaseth them, they will keep and I will bring thee the price and leave this boy with thee till then." He said, "Be it as thou wilt!" So she took the jewellery and made off to her own house, where her daughter asked her how the trick had sped. She told her how she had taken and stripped the Shahbandar's boy, and Zaynab said, "Thou wilt never be able to walk abroad again in the town." Meanwhile, the maid went in to her mistress and said to her, "O my lady, Umm al-Khayr saluteth thee and rejoiceth with thee and on assembly-day she will come, she and her daughters, and give the customary presents." Quoth her mistress, "Where is thy young master?" Quoth the slave-girl, "I left him with her lest he cling to thee, and she gave me this, as largesse for the singing-women." So the lady said to the chief of the singers, "Take thy money;" and she took it and found it a brass counter; whereupon the lady cried to the maid, "Get thee down, O whore, and look to thy young master." Accordingly, she went down and finding neither boy nor old woman, shrieked aloud and fell on her face. Their joy was changed into annoy, and behold, the Provost came in, when his wife told him all that had befallen and he went out in quest of the child, whilst the other merchants also fared forth and each sought his own road. Presently, the Shahbandar, who had looked every-where, espied his son seated, naked, in the Jew's shop and said to tile owner, "This is my son." "'Tis well," answered the Jew. So he took him up, without asking for his clothes, of the excess of his joy at finding him; but the Jew laid hold of him, saying, "Allah succour the Caliph against thee!"[FN#201] The Provost asked, "What aileth thee, O Jew?"; and he answered, "Verily the old woman took of me a thousand dinars' worth of jewellery for thy daughter, and left this lad in pledge for the price; and I had not trusted her, but that she offered to leave the child whom I knew for thy Son." Said the Provost, "My daughter needeth no jewellery, give me the boy's clothes." Thereupon the Jew shrieked out, "Come to my aid, O Moslems!" but at that moment up came the dyer and the ass-man and the young merchant, who were going about, seeking the old woman, and enquired the cause of their jangle. So they told them the case and they said, "This old woman is a cheat, who hath cheated us before you." Then they recounted to them how she had dealt with them, and the Provost said, "Since I have found my son, be his clothes his ransom! If I come upon the old woman, I will require them of her." And he carried the child home to his mother, who rejoiced in his safety. Then the Jew said to the three others "Whither go ye?"; and they answered, "We go to look for her." Quoth the Jew, "Take me with you," presently adding, "Is there any one of you knoweth her?" The donkey-boy cried, "I know her;" and the Jew said, "If we all go forth together, we shall never catch her; for she will flee from us. Let each take a different road, and be our rendezvous at the shop of Hajj Mas'ud, the Moorish barber." They agreed to this and set off, each in a different direction. Presently, Dalilah sallied forth again to play her tricks and the ass-driver met her and knew her. So he caught hold of her and said to her, "Woe to thee! Hast thou been long at this trade?" She asked, "What aileth thee?"; and he answered, "Give me back my ass." Quoth she, "Cover what Allah covereth, O my son! Dost thou seek thine ass and the people's things?" Quoth he, "I want my ass; that's all;" and quoth she, "I saw that thou wast poor: so I deposited thine ass for thee with the Moorish barber. Stand off, whilst I speak him fair, that he may give thee the beast." So she went up to the Maghrabi and kissed his hand and shed tears. He asked her what ailed her and she said, "O my son, look at my boy who standeth yonder. He was ill and exposed himself to the air, which injured his intellect. He used to buy asses and now, if he stand he saith nothing but, My ass! if he sit he crieth, My ass! and if he walk he crieth, My ass! Now I have been told by a certain physician that his mind is disordered and that nothing will cure him but drawing two of his grinders and cauterising him twice on either temple. So do thou take this dinar and call him to thee, saying, 'Thine ass is with me.'" Said the barber, "May I fast for a year, if I do not give him his ass in his fist!" Now he had with him two journeymen, so he said to one of them "Go, heat the irons." Then the old woman went her way and the barber called to the donkey-boy,[FN#202] saying, "Thine ass is with me, good fellow! come and take him, and as thou livest, I will give him into thy palm." So he came to him and the barber carried him into a dark room, where he knocked him down and the journeymen bound him hand and foot. Then the Maghrabi arose and pulled out two of his grinders and fired him on either temple; after which he let him go, and he rose and said, "O Moor, why hast thou used me with this usage?" Quoth the barber, "Thy mother told me that thou hadst taken cold whilst ill, and hadst lost thy reason, so that, whether sitting or standing or walking, thou wouldst say nothing but My ass! So here is thine ass in thy fist." Said the other, "Allah requite thee for pulling out my teeth." Then the barber told him all that the old woman had related and he exclaimed, "Allah torment her!"; and the twain left the shop and went out, disputing. When the barber returned, he found his booth empty, for, whilst he was absent, the old woman had taken all that was therein and made off with it to her daughter, whom she acquainted with all that had befallen and all she had done. The barber, seeing his place plundered, caught hold of the donkey-boy and said to him, "Bring me thy mother" But he answered, saying, "She is not my mother; she is a sharper who hath cozened much people and stolen my ass." And lo! at this moment up came the dyer and the Jew and the young merchant, and seeing the Moorish barber holding on to the ass-driver who was fired on both temples, they said to him, "What hath befallen thee, O donkey-boy?" So he told them all that had betided him and the barber did the like; and the others in turn related to the Moor the tricks the old woman had played them. Then he shut up his shop and went with them to the office of the Police-master to whom they said, "We look to thee for our case and our coin."[FN#203] Quoth the Wali, "And how many old women are there not in Baghdad! Say me, doth any of you know her?" Quoth the ass-man, "I do; so give me ten of thine officers." He gave them half a score archers and they all five went out, followed by the sergeants, and patrolled the city, till they met the old woman, when they laid hands on her and carrying her to the house of the Chief of Police, stood waiting under his office windows till he should come forth. Presently, the warders fell asleep, for excess of watching with their chief, and old Dalilah feigned to follow their example, till the ass-man and his fellows slept likewise, when she stole away from them and, going in to the Wali's Harim, kissed the hand of the mistress of the house and asked her "Where is the Chief of Police?" The lady answered, "He is asleep; what wouldst thou with him?" Quoth Dalilah, "My husband is a merchant of chattels and gave me five Mamelukes to sell, whilst he went on a journey. The Master of Police met me and bought them of me for a thousand dinars and two hundred for myself, saying, 'Bring them to my house.' So I have brought them."—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Seven Hundred and Fifth Night,

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the old woman, entering the Harim of the Police-Master, said to his wife, "Verily the Wali bought of me five slaves for one thousand ducats and two hundred for myself, saying, 'Bring them to my quarters.' So I have brought them." Hearing the old woman's story she believed it and asked her, "Where are the slaves?" Dalilah replied, "O my lady, they are asleep under the palace window"; whereupon the dame looked out and seeing the Moorish barber clad in a Mameluke habit and the young merchant as he were a drunken Mameluke[FN#204] and the Jew and the dyer and the ass-driver as they were shaven Mamelukes, said in herself, "Each of these white slaves is worth more than a thousand dinars." So she opened her chest and gave the old woman the thousand ducats, saying, "Fare thee forth now and come back anon; when my husband waketh, I will get thee the other two hundred dinars from him." Answered the old woman, "O my lady, an hundred of them are thine, under the sherbert-gugglet whereof thou drinkest,[FN#205] and the other hundred do thou keep for me against I come back," presently adding, "Now let me out by the private door." So she let her out, and the Protector protected her and she made her way home to her daughter, to whom she related how she had gotten a thousand gold pieces and sold her five pursuers into slavery, ending with, "O my daughter, the one who troubleth me most is the ass-driver, for he knoweth me." Said Zaynab, "O my mother, abide quiet awhile and let what thou hast done suffice thee, for the crock shall not always escape the shock." When the Chief of Police awoke, his wife said to him, "I give thee joy of the five slaves thou hast bought of the old woman." Asked he, "What slaves?" And she answered, "Why dost thou deny it to me? Allah willing, they shall become like thee people of condition." Quoth he, "As my head liveth, I have bought no slaves! Who saith this?" Quoth she, "The old woman, the brokeress, from whom thou boughtest them; and thou didst promise her a thousand dinars for them and two hundred for herself." Cried he, "Didst thou give her the money?" And she replied, "Yes; for I saw the slaves with my own eyes, and on each is a suit of clothes worth a thousand dinars; so I sent out to bid the sergeants have an eye to them." The Wali went out and, seeing the five plaintiffs, said to the officers, "Where are the five slaves we bought for a thousand dinars of the old woman?" Said they, "There are no slaves here; only these five men, who found the old woman, and seized her and brought her hither. We fell asleep, whilst waiting for thee, and she stole away and entered the Harim. Presently out came a maid and asked us, 'Are the five with you with whom the old woman came?'; and we answered, 'Yes.'" Cried the Master of Police, "By Allah, this is the biggest of swindles!"; and the five men said, "We look to thee for our goods." Quoth the Wali, "The old woman, your mistress, sold you to me for a thousand gold pieces." Quoth they, "That were not allowed of Allah; we are free-born men and may not be sold, and we appeal from thee to the Caliph." Rejoined the Master of Police, "None showed her the way to the house save you, and I will sell you to the galleys for two hundred dinars apiece." Just then, behold, up came the Emir Hasan Sharr al-Tarik who, on his return from his journey, had found his wife stripped of her clothes and jewellery and heard from her all that had passed; whereupon quoth he, "The Master of Police shall answer me this" and repairing to him, said "Dost thou suffer old women to go round about the town and cozen folk of their goods? This is thy duty and I look to thee for my wife's property." Then said he to the five men, "What is the case with you?" So they told him their stories and he said, "Ye are wronged men," and turning to the Master of Police, asked him, "Why dost thou arrest them?" Answered he, "None brought the old wretch to my house save these five, so that she took a thousand dinars of my money and sold them to my women." Whereupon the five cried, "O Emir Hasan, be thou our advocate in this cause." Then said the Master of Police to the Emir, "Thy wife's goods are at my charge and I will be surety for the old woman. But which of you knoweth her?" They cried, "We all know her: send ten apparitors with us, and we will take her." So he gave them ten men, and the ass-driver said to them, "Follow me, for I should know her with blue eyes."[FN#206] Then they fared forth and lo! they meet old Dalilah coming out of a by-street: so they at once laid hands on her and brought her to the office of the Wali who asked her, "Where are the people's goods?" But she answered, saying, "I have neither gotten them nor seen them." Then he cried to the gaoler, "Take her with thee and clap her in gaol till the morning;" but he replied, "I will not take her nor will I imprison her lest she play a trick on me and I be answerable for her." So the Master of Police mounted and rode out with Dalilah and the rest to the bank of the Tigris, where he bade the lamp-lighter crucify her by her hair. He drew her up by the pulley and bound her on the cross; after which the Master of Police set ten men to guard her and went home. Presently, the night fell down and sleep overcame the watchmen. Now a certain Badawi had heard one man say to a friend, "Praise be to Allah for thy safe return! Where hast thou been all this time?" Replied the other, "In Baghdad where I broke my fast on honey-fritters."[FN#207] Quoth the Badawi to himself "Needs must I go to Baghdad and eat honey- fritters therein"; for in all his life he had never entered Baghdad nor seen fritters of the sort. So he mounted his stallion and rode on towards Baghdad, saying in his mind, "'Tis a fine thing to eat honey-fritters! On the honour of an Arab, I will break my fast with honey-fritters and naught else!"—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Seven Hundred and Sixth Night,

She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the wild Arab mounted horse and made for Baghdad saying in his mind, "'Tis a fine thing to eat honey-fritters! On the honour of an Arab I will break my fast with honey-fritters and naught else;" and he rode on till he came to the place where Dalilah was crucified and she heard him utter these words. So he went up to her and said to her, "What art thou?" Quoth she, "I throw myself on thy protection, O Shaykh of the Arabs!" and quoth lie, "Allah indeed protect thee! But what is the cause of thy crucifixion?" Said she, "I have an enemy, an oilman, who frieth fritters, and I stopped to buy some of him, when I chanced to spit and my spittle fell on the fritters. So he complained of me to the Governor who commanded to crucify me, saying, 'I adjudge that ye take ten pounds of honey-fritters and feed her therewith upon the cross. If she eat them, let her go, but if not, leave her hanging.' And my stomach will not brook sweet things." Cried the Badawi, "By the honour of the Arabs, I departed not the camp but that I might taste of honey-fritters! I will eat them for thee." Quoth she, "None may eat them, except he be hung up in my place." So he fell into the trap and unbound her; whereupon she bound him in her stead, after she had stripped him of his clothes and turband and put them on; then covering herself with his burnouse and mounting his horse, she rode to her house, where Zaynab asked her, "What meaneth this plight?"; and she answered, "They crucified me;" and told her all that had befallen her with the Badawi. This is how it fared with her; but as regards the watchmen, the first who woke roused his companions and they saw that the day had broken. So one of them raised his eyes and cried, "Dalilah." Replied the Badawi, "By Allah! I have not eaten all night. Have ye brought the honey-fritters?" All exclaimed, "This is a man and a Badawi, and one of them asked him, "O Badawi, where is Dalilah and who loosed her?" He answered, "'Twas I; she shall not eat the honey-fritters against her will; for her soul abhorreth them." So they knew that the Arab was ignorant of her case, whom she had cozened, and said to one another, "Shall we flee or abide the accomplishment of that which Allah hath written for us?" As they were talking, up came the Chief of Police, with all the folk whom the old woman had cheated, and said to the guards, "Arise, loose Dalilah." Quoth the Badawi, "We have not eaten to-night. Hast thou brought the honey-fritters?" Whereupon the Wali raised his eyes to the cross and seeing the Badawi hung up in the stead of the old woman, said to the watchmen, "What is this?" "Pardon, O our lord!" "Tell me what hath happened" "We were weary with watching with thee on guard and , 'Dalilah is crucified.' So we fell asleep, and when we awoke, we found the Badawi hung up in her room; and we are at thy mercy." "O folk, Allah's pardon be upon you! She is indeed a clever cheat!" Then they unbound the Badawi, who laid hold of the Master of Police, saying, "Allah succour the Caliph against thee! I look to none but thee for my horse and clothes!" So the Wali questioned him and he told him what had passed between Dalilah and himself. The magistrate marvelled and asked him, "Why didst thou release her?"; and the Badawi answered, "I knew not that she was a felon." Then said the others, "O Chief of Police, we look to thee in the matter of our goods; for we delivered the old woman into thy hands and she was in thy guard; and we cite thee before the Divan of the Caliph." Now the Emir Hasan had gone up to the Divan, when in came the Wali with the Badawi and the five others, saying, "Verily, we are wronged men!" "Who hath wronged you?" asked the Caliph; so each came forward in turn and told his story, after which said the Master of Police, "O Commander of the Faithful, the old woman cheated me also and sold me these five men as slaves for a thousand dinars, albeit they are free-born." Quoth the Prince of True Believers, "I take upon myself all that you have lost"; adding to the Master of Police, "I charge thee with the old woman." But he shook his collar, saying, "O Commander of the Faithful, I will not answer for her; for, after I had hung her on the cross, she tricked this Badawi and, when he loosed her, she tied him up in her room and made off with his clothes and horse." Quoth the Caliph, "Whom but thee shall I charge with her?"; and quoth the Wali, "Charge Ahmad al-Danaf, for he hath a thousand dinars a month and one-and-forty followers, at a monthly wage of an hundred dinars each." So the Caliph said, "Harkye, Captain Ahmad!" "At thy service, O Commander of the Faithful," said he; and the Caliph cried, "I charge thee to bring the old woman before us." Replied Ahmad, "I will answer for her." Then the Caliph kept the Badawi and the five with him,—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Seven Hundred and Seventh Night,

She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Caliph said to Calamity Ahmad, "I charge thee to bring the old woman before us," he said, "I will answer for her O Commander of the Faithful!" Then the Caliph kept the Badawi and the five with him, whilst Ahmad and his men went down to their hall,[FN#208] saying to one another, "How shall we lay hands on her, seeing that there are many old women in the town?" And quoth Ahmad to Hasan Shuman, "What counsellest thou?" Whereupon quoth one of them, by name Ali Kitf al- Jamal,[FN#209] to Al-Danaf, "Of what dost thou take counsel with Hasan Shuman? Is the Pestilent one any great shakes?" Said Hasan, "O Ali, why dost thou disparage me? By the Most Great Name, I will not company with thee at this time!"; and he rose and went out in wrath. Then said Ahmad, "O my braves, let every sergeant take ten men, each to his own quarter and search for Dalilah." All did his bidding, Ali included, and they said, "Ere we disperse let us agree to rendezvous in the quarter Al-Kalkh." It was noised abroad in the city that Calamity Ahmad had undertaken to lay hands on Dalilah the Wily, and Zaynab said to her, "O my mother, an thou be indeed a trickstress, do thou befool Ahmad al-Danaf and his company." Answered Dalilah, "I fear none save Hasan Shuman;" and Zaynab said, "By the life of my browlock, I will assuredly get thee the clothes of all the one-and-forty." Then she dressed and veiled herself and going to a certain druggist, who had a saloon with two doors, salamed to him and gave him an ashrafi and said to him, "Take this gold piece as a douceur for thy saloon and let it to me till the end of the day." So he gave her the keys and she fetched carpets and so forth on the stolen ass and furnishing the place, set on each raised pavement a tray of meat and wine. Then she went out and stood at the door, with her face unveiled and behold, up came Ali Kitf al-Jamal and his men. She kissed his hand; and he fell in love with her, seeing her to be a handsome girl, and said to her, "What dost thou want?" Quoth she, "Art thou Captain Ahmad al-Danaf?"; and quoth he, "No, but I am of his company and my name is Ali Camel-shoulder." Asked she, "Whither fare you?"; and he answered, "We go about in quest of a sharkish old woman, who hath stolen folk's good, and we mean to lay hands on her. But who art thou and what is thy business?" She replied, "My father was a taverner at Mosul and he died and left me much money. So I came hither, for fear of the Dignities, and asked the people who would protect me, to which they replied, 'None but Ahmad al-Danaf.'" Said the men, "From this day forth, thou art under his protection"; and she replied, "Hearten me by eating a bit and drinking a sup of water."[FN#210] They consented and entering, ate and drank till they were drunken, when she drugged them with Bhang and stripped them of their clothes and arms; and on like wise she did with the three other companions. Presently, Calamity Ahmad went out to look for Dalilah, but found her not, neither set eyes on any of his followers, and went on till he came to the door where Zaynab was standing. She kissed his hand and he looked on her and fell in love with her. Quoth she, "Art thou Captain Ahmad al- Danaf?"; and quoth he, "Yes: who art thou?" She replied, "I am a stranger from Mosul. My father was a vintner at that place and he died and left me much money wherewith I came to this city, for fear of the powers that be, and opened this tavern. The Master of Police hath imposed a tax on me, but it is my desire to put myself under thy protection and pay thee what the police would take of me, for thou hast the better right to it." Quoth he, "Do not pay him aught: thou shalt have my protection and welcome." Then quoth she, "Please to heal my heart and eat of my victual," So he entered and ate and drank wine, till he could not sit upright, when she drugged him and took his clothes and arms. Then she loaded her purchase on the Badawi's horse and the donkey-boy's ass and made off with it, after she had aroused Ali Kitf al- Jamal. Camel-shoulder awoke and found himself naked and saw Ahmad and his men drugged and stripped: so he revived them with the counter-drug and they awoke and found themselves naked. Quoth Calamity Ahmad, "O lads, what is this? We were going to catch her, and lo! this strumpet hath caught us! How Hasan Shuman will rejoice over us! But we will wait till it is dark and then go away." Meanwhile Pestilence Hasan said to the hall-keeper, "Where are the men?"; and as he asked, up they came naked; and he recited these two couplets[FN#211],

"Men in their purposes are much alike, * But in their issues difference comes to light: Of men some wise are, others simple souls; * As of the stars some dull, some pearly bright.

Then he looked at them and asked, "Who hath played you this trick and made you naked?"; and they answered, "We went in quest of an old woman, and a pretty girl stripped us." Quoth Hasan, "She hath done right well." They asked, "Dost thou know her?"; and he answered, "Yes, I know her and the old trot too." Quoth they, "What shall we say to the Caliph?"; and quoth he, "O Danaf, do thou shake thy collar before him, and he will say, 'Who is answerable for her'; and if he ask why thou hast not caught her; say thou, 'We know her not; but charge Hasan Shuman with her.' And if he give her into my charge, I will lay hands on her." So they slept that night and on the morrow they went up to the Caliph's Divan and kissed ground before him. Quoth he, "Where is the old woman, O Captain Ahmad?" But he shook his collar. The Caliph asked him why he did so, and he answered, "I know her not; but do thou charge Hasan Shuman to lay hands on her, for he knoweth her and her daughter also." Then Hasan interceded for her with the Caliph, saying, "Indeed, she hath not played off these tricks, because she coveted the folk's stuff, but to show her cleverness and that of her daughter, to the intent that thou shouldst continue her husband's stipend to her and that of her father to her daughter. So an thou wilt spare her life I will fetch her to thee." Cried the Caliph, "By the life of my ancestors, if she restore the people's goods, I will pardon her on thine intercession!" And said the Pestilence, "Give me a pledge, O Prince of True Believers!" Whereupon Al-Rashid gave him the kerchief of pardon. So Hasan repaired to Dalilah's house and called to her. Her daughter Zaynab answered him and he asked her, "Where is thy mother?" "Upstairs," she answered; and he said, "Bid her take the people's goods and come with me to the presence of the Caliph; for I have brought her the kerchief of pardon, and if she will not come with a good grace, let her blame only herself." So Dalilah came down and tying the kerchief about her neck gave him the people's goods on the donkey-boy's ass and the Badawi's horse. Quoth he, "There remain the clothes of my Chief and his men"; and quoth she, "By the Most Great Name, 'twas not I who stripped them!" Rejoined Hasan, "Thou sayst sooth, it was thy daughter Zaynab's doing, and this was a good turn she did thee." Then he carried her to the Divan and laying the people's goods and stuff before the Caliph, set the old trot in his presence. As soon as he saw her, he bade throw her down on the carpet of blood, whereat she cried, "I cast myself on thy protection, O Shuman."' So he rose and kissing the Caliph's hands, said, "Pardon, O Commander of the Faithful! Indeed, thou gavest me the kerchief of pardon." Said the Prince of True Believers, "I pardon her for thy sake: come hither, O old woman; what is thy name?" "My name is Wily Dalilah," answered she, and the Caliph said "Thou art indeed crafty and full of guile." Whence she was dubbed Dalilah the Wily One. Then quoth he, "Why hast thou played all these tricks on the folk and wearied our hearts?" and quoth she, "I did it not of lust for their goods, but because I had heard of the tricks which Ahmad al-Danaf and Hasan Shuman played in Baghdad and said to myself, 'I too will do the like.' And now I have returned the folk their goods." But the ass-driver rose and said "I invoke Allah's law[FN#212] between me and her; for it sufficed her not to take my ass, but she must needs egg on the Moorish barber to tear out my eye-teeth and fire me on both temples."—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Seven Hundred and Eighth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the donkey-boy rose and cried out, "I invoke Allah's law between me and her; for it sufficed her not to take my ass, but she must needs egg on the barber to tear out my eye-teeth and fire me on both temples;" thereupon the Caliph bade give him an hundred dinars and ordered the dyer the like, saying, "Go; set up thy dyery again." So they called down blessings on his head and went away. The Badawi also took his clothes and horse and departed, saying, "'Tis henceforth unlawful and forbidden me to enter Baghdad and eat honey-fritters." And the others took their goods and went away. Then said the Caliph, "Ask a boon of me, O Dalilah!"; and she said, "Verily, my father was governor of the carrier-pigeons to thee and I know how to rear the birds; and my husband was town-captain of Baghdad. Now I wish to have the reversion of my husband and my daughter wisheth to have that of her father." The Caliph granted both their requests and she said, "I ask of thee that I may be portress of thy Khan." Now he had built a Khan of three stories, for the merchants to lodge in, and had assigned to its service forty slaves and also forty dogs he had brought from the King of the Sulaymaniyah,[FN#213] when he deposed him; and there was in the Khan a cook-slave, who cooked for the chattels and fed the hounds for which he let make collars. Said the Caliph, "O Dalilah, I will write thee a patent of guardianship of the Khan, and if aught be lost therefrom, thou shalt be answerable for it. "'Tis well," replied she; "but do thou lodge my daughter in the pavilion over the door of the Khan, for it hath terraced roofs, and carrier-pigeons may not be reared to advantage save in an open space." The Caliph granted her this also and she and her daughter removed to the pavilion in question, where Zaynab hung up the one-and-forty dresses of Calamity Ahmad and his company. Moreover, they delivered to Dalilah the forty pigeons which carried the royal messages, and the Caliph appointed the Wily One mistress over the forty slaves and charged them to obey her. She made the place of her sitting behind the door of the Khan, and every day she used to go up to the Caliph's Divan, lest he should need to send a message by pigeon-post and stay there till eventide whilst the forty slaves stood on guard at the Khan; and when darkness came on they loosed the forty dogs that they might keep watch over the place by night. Such were the doings of Dalilah the Wily One in Baghdad and much like them were

The Adventures of Mercury Ali of Cairo.[FN#214]

Now as regards the works of Mercury 'Ali; there lived once at Cairo,[FN#215] in the days of Salah the Egyptian, who was Chief of the Cairo Police and had forty men under him, a sharper named Ali, for whom the Master of Police used to set snares and think that he had fallen therein; but, when they sought for him, they found that he had fled like zaybak, or quicksilver, wherefore they dubbed him Ali Zaybak or Mercury Ali of Cairo. Now one day, as he sat with his men in his hall, his heart became heavy within him and his breast was straitened. The hall-keeper saw him sitting with frowning face and said to him, "What aileth thee, O my Chief? If thy breast be straitened take a turn in the streets of Cairo, for assuredly walking in her markets will do away with thy irk." So he rose up and went out and threaded the streets awhile, but only increased in cark and care. Presently, he came to a wine-shop and said to himself, "I will go in and drink myself drunken." So he entered and seeing seven rows of people in the shop, said, "Harkye, taverner! I will not sit except by myself." Accordingly, the vintner placed him in a chamber alone and set strong pure wine before him whereof he drank till he lost his senses. Then he sallied forth again and walked till he came to the road called Red, whilst the people left the street clear before him, out of fear of him. Presently, he turned and saw a water-carrier trudging along, with his skin and gugglet, crying out and saying, "O exchange! There is no drink but what raisins make, there is no love-delight but what of the lover we take and none sitteth in the place of honour save the sensible freke[FN#216]!" So he said to him, "Here, give me to drink!" The water-carrier looked at him and gave him the gugglet which he took and gazing into it, shook it up and lastly poured it out on the ground. Asked the water-carrier, "Why dost thou not drink?"; and he answered, saying, "Give me to drink." So the man filled the cup a second time and he took it and shook it and emptied it on the ground; and thus he did a third time. Quoth the water-carrier, "An thou wilt not drink, I will be off." And Ali said, "Give me to drink." So he filled the cup a fourth time and gave it to him; and he drank and gave the man a dinar. The water-carrier looked at him with disdain and said, belittling him, "Good luck to thee! Good luck to thee, my lad! Little folk are one thing and great folk another!"—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say,

When it was the Seven Hundred and Ninth Night,

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the water-carrier receiving the dinar, looked at the giver with disdain and said "Good luck to thee! Good luck to thee! Little folk are one thing and great folk another." Now when Mercury Ali heard this, he caught hold of the man's gaberdine and drawing on him a poignard of price, such an one as that whereof the poet speaketh in these two couplets,

"Watered steel-blade, the world perfection calls, * Drunk with the viper poison foes appals, Cuts lively, burns the blood whene'er it falls; * And picks up gems from pave of marble halls;"[FN#217]

cried to him, "O Shaykh, speak reasonably to me! Thy water- skin is worth if dear three dirhams, and the gugglets I emptied on the ground held a pint or so of water." Replied the water-carrier "'Tis well," and Ali rejoined, "I gave thee a golden ducat: why, then dost thou belittle me? Say me, hast thou ever seen any more valiant than I or more generous than I?" Answered the water-carrier; "I have indeed, seen one more valiant than thou and eke more generous than thou; for, never, since women bare children, was there on earth's face a brave man who was not generous." Quoth Ali, "And who is he thou deemest braver and more generous than I?" Quoth the other, "Thou must know that I have had a strange adventure. My father was a Shaykh of the Water-carriers who give drink in Cairo and, when he died, he left me five male camels, a he-mule, a shop and a house; but the poor man is never satisfied; or, if he be satisfied he dieth. So I said to myself, 'I will go up to Al-Hijaz'; and, taking a string of camels, bought goods on tick, till I had run in debt for five hundred ducats, all of which I lost in the pilgrimage. Then I said in my mind, 'If I return to Cairo the folk will clap me in jail for their goods.' So I fared with the pilgrims- caravan of Damascus to Aleppo and thence I went on to Baghdad, where I sought out the Shaykh of the Water-carriers of the city and finding his house I went in and repeated the opening chapter of the Koran to him. He questioned me of my case and I told him all that had betided me, whereupon he assigned me a shop and gave me a water-skin and gear. So I sallied forth a-morn trusting in Allah to provide, and went round about the city. I offered the gugglet to one, that he might drink; but he cried, 'I have eaten naught whereon to drink; for a niggard invited me this day and set two gugglets before me; so I said to him, 'O son of the sordid, hast thou given me aught to eat that thou offerest me drink after it?' Wherefore wend thy ways, O water-carrier, till I have eaten somewhat: then come and give me to drink.' Thereupon I accosted another and he said, 'Allah provide thee!' And so I went on till noon, without taking hansel, and I said to myself, 'Would Heaven I had never come to Baghdad!' Presently, I saw the folk running as fast as they could; so I followed them and behold, a long file of men riding two and two and clad in steel, with double neck-rings and felt bonnets and burnouses and swords and bucklers. I asked one of the folk whose suite this was, and he answered, 'That of Captain Ahmad al-Danaf.' Quoth I, 'And what is he?' and quoth the other, 'He is town-captain of Baghdad and her Divan, and to him is committed the care of the suburbs. He getteth a thousand dinars a month from the Caliph and Hasan Shuman hath the like. More-over, each of his men draweth an hundred dinars a month; and they are now returning to their barrack from the Divan.' And lo! Calamity Ahmad saw me and cried out, 'Come give me drink.' So I filled the cup and gave it him, and he shook it and emptied it out, like unto thee; and thus he did a second time. Then I filled the cup a third time and he took a draught as thou diddest; after which he asked me, 'O water- carrier, whence comest thou?' And I answered, 'From Cairo,' and he, 'Allah keep Cairo and her citizens! What may bring thee thither?' So I told him my story and gave him to understand that I was a debtor fleeing from debt and distress. He cried, 'Thou art welcome to Baghdad'; then he gave me five dinars and said to his men, 'For the love of Allah be generous to him.' So each of them gave me a dinar and Ahmad said to me, 'O Shaykh, what while thou abidest in Baghdad thou shalt have of us the like every time thou givest us to drink.' Accordingly, I paid them frequent visits and good ceased not to come to me from the folk till, one day, reckoning up the profit I had made of them, I found it a thousand dinars and said to myself, 'The best thing thou canst do is to return to Egypt.' So I went to Ahmad's house and kissed his hand, and he said, 'What seekest thou?' Quoth I, 'I have a mind to depart'; and I repeated these two couplets,

'Sojourn of stranger, in whatever land, * Is like castle based upon the wind: The breaths of breezes level all he raised. * And so on homeward-way's the stranger's mind.'

I added, 'The caravan is about to start for Cairo and I wish to return to my people.' So he gave me a she-mule and an hundred dinars and said to me, 'I desire to send somewhat by thee, O Shaykh! Dost thou know the people of Cairo?' 'Yes,' answered I";—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Seven Hundred and Tenth Night,

She pursued, It bath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Ahmad al-Danaf had given the water-carrier a she-mule and an hundred dinars and said to him, "I desire to send a trust by thee. Dost thou know the people of Cairo?" "I answered (quoth the water-carrier), 'Yes'; and he said, 'Take this letter and carry it to Ali Zaybak of Cairo and say to him, 'Thy Captain saluteth thee and he is now with the Caliph.' So I took the letter and journeyed back to Cairo, where I paid my debts and plied my water-carrying trade; but I have not delivered the letter, because I know not the abode of Mercury Ali." Quoth Ali, "O elder, be of good cheer and keep thine eyes cool and clear: I am that Ali, the first of the lads of Captain Ahmad: here with the letter!" So he gave him the missive and he opened it and read these two couplets,

"O adornment of beauties to thee write I * On a paper that flies as the winds go by: Could I fly, I had flown to their arms in desire, * But a bird with cut wings; how shall ever he fly?"

"But after salutation from Captain Ahmad al-Danaf to the eldest of his sons, Mercury Ali of Cairo. Thou knowest that I tormented Salah al-Din the Cairene and befooled him till I buried him alive and reduced his lads to obey me, and amongst them Ali Kitf al-Jamal; and I am now become town-captain of Baghdad in the Divan of the Caliph who hath made me over-seer of the suburbs. An thou be still mindful of our covenant, come to me; haply thou shalt play some trick in Baghdad which may promote thee to the Caliph's service, so he may appoint thee stipends and allowances and assign thee a lodging, which is what thou wouldst see and so peace be on thee." When Ali read this letter, he kissed it and laying it on his head, gave the water-carrier ten dinars; after which he returned to his barracks and told his comrades and said to them, "I commend you one to other." Then he changed all his clothes and, donning a travelling cloak and a tarboosh, took a case, containing a spear of bamboo-cane, four-and-twenty cubits long, made in several pieces, to fit into one another. Quoth his lieutenant, "Wilt thou go a journey when the treasury is empty?"; and quoth Ali, "When I reach Damascus I will send you what shall suffice you." Then he set out and fared on, till he overtook a caravan about to start, whereof were the Shah-bandar, or Provost of the Merchants, and forty other traders. They had all loaded their beasts, except the Provost, whose loads lay upon the ground, and Ali heard his caravan-leader, who was a Syrian, say to the muleteers, "Bear a hand, one of you!" But they reviled him and abused him. Quoth Ali in himself, "None will suit me so well to travel withal as this leader." Now Ali was beardless and well- favoured; so he went up to and saluted the leader who welcomed him and said, "What seekest thou?" Replied Ali, "O my uncle, I see thee alone with forty mule-loads of goods; but why hast thou not brought hands to help thee?"

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