The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night, Volume 7
by Richard F. Burton
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Rejoined the other, "O my son, I hired two lads and clothed them and put in each one's pocket two hundred dinars; and they helped me till we came to the Dervishes' Convent,[FN#218] when they ran away." Quoth Ali, "Whither are you bound?" and quoth the Syrian, "to Aleppo," when Ali said, "I will lend thee a hand." Accordingly they loaded the beasts and the Provost mounted his she-mule and they set out he rejoicing in Ali; and presently he loved him and made much of him and on this wise they fared on till nightfall, when they dismounted and ate and drank. Then came the time of sleep and Ali lay down on his side and made as if he slept; whereupon the Syrian stretched himself near him and Ali rose from his stead and sat down at the door of the merchant's pavilion. Presently the Syrian turned over and would have taken Ali in his arms, but found him not and said to himself, "Haply he hath promised another and he hath taken him; but I have the first right and another night I will keep him." Now Ali continued sitting at the door of the tent till nigh upon daybreak, when he returned and lay down near the Syrian, who found him by his side, when he awoke, and said to himself, "If I ask him where he hath been, he will leave me and go away." So he dissembled with him and they went on till they came to a forest, in which was a cave, where dwelt a rending lion. Now whenever a caravan passed, they would draw lots among themselves and him on whom the lot fell they would throw to the beast. So they drew lots and the lot fell not save upon the Provost of the Merchants. And lo! the lion cut off their way awaiting his prey, wherefore the Provost was sore distressed and said to the leader, "Allah disappoint the fortunes[FN#219] of the far one and bring his journey to naught! I charge thee, after my death, give my loads to my children." Quoth Ali the Clever One, "What meaneth all this?" So they told him the case and he said, "Why do ye run from the tom-cat of the desert? I warrant you I will kill him." So the Syrian went to the Provost and told him of this and he said, "If he slay him, I will give him a thousand dinars," and said the other merchants, "We will reward him likewise one and all." With this Ali put off his mantle and there appeared upon him a suit of steel; then he took a chopper of steel[FN#220] and opening it turned the screw; after which he went forth alone and standing in the road before the lion, cried out to him. The lion ran at him, but Ali of Cairo smote him between the eyes with his chopper and cut him in sunder, whilst the caravan-leader and the merchants looked on. Then said he to the leader, "Have no fear, O nuncle!" and the Syrian answered, saying, "O my son, I am thy servant for all future time." Then the Provost embraced him and kissed him between the eyes and gave him the thousand dinars, and each of the other merchants gave him twenty dinars. He deposited all the coin with the Provost and they slept that night till the morning, when they set out again, intending for Baghdad, and fared on till they came to the Lion's Clump and the Wady of Dogs, where lay a villain Badawi, a brigand and his tribe, who sallied forth on them. The folk fled from the highwaymen, and the Provost said, "My monies are lost!"; when, lo! up came Ali in a buff coat hung with bells, and bringing out his long lance, fitted the pieces together. Then he seized one of the Arab's horses and mounting it cried out to the Badawi Chief, saying, "Come out to fight me with spears!" Moreover he shook his bells and the Arab's mare took fright at the noise and Ali struck the Chief's spear and broke it. Then he smote him on the neck and cut off his head.[FN#221] When the Badawin saw their chief fall, they ran at Ali, but he cried out, saying, "Allaho Akbar—God is Most Great!"—and, falling on them broke them and put them to flight. Then he raised the Chief's head on his spear-point and returned to the merchants, who rewarded him liberally and continued their journey, till they reached Baghdad. Thereupon Ali took his money from the Provost and committed it to the Syrian caravan-leader, saying, "When thou returnest to Cairo, ask for my barracks and give these monies to my deputy." Then he slept that night and on the morrow he entered the city and threading the streets enquired for Calamity Ahmad's quarters; but none would direct him thereto.[FN#222] So he walked on, till he came to the square Al-Nafz, where he saw children at play, and amongst them a lad called Ahmad al-Lakit,[FN#223] and said to himself, "O my Ali, thou shalt not get news of them but from their little ones." Then he turned and seeing a sweet-meat-seller bought Halwa of him and called to the children; but Ahmad al-Lakit drove the rest away and coming up to him, said, "What seekest thou?" Quoth Ali, "I had a son and he died and I saw him in a dream asking for sweetmeats: wherefore I have bought them and wish to give each child a bit." So saying, he gave Ahmad a slice, and he looked at it and seeing a dinar sticking to it, said "Begone! I am no catamite: seek another than I." Quoth Ali, "O my son, none but a sharp fellow taketh the hire, even as he is a sharp one who giveth it. I have sought all day for Ahmad al-Danaf's barrack, but none would direct me thereto; so this dinar is thine an thou wilt guide me thither." Quoth the lad, "I will run before thee and do thou keep up with me, till I come to the place, when I will catch up a pebble with my foot[FN#224] and kick it against the door; and so shalt thou know it." Accordingly he ran on and Ali after him, till they came to the place, when the boy caught up a pebble between his toes and kicked it against the door so as to make the place known.—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Seven Hundred and Eleventh Night,

She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Ahmad the Abortion had made known the place, Ali laid hold of him and would have taken the dinar from him, but could not; so he said to him, "Go: thou deservest largesse for thou art a sharp fellow, whole of wit and stout of heart. Inshallah, if I become a captain to the Caliph, I will make thee one of my lads." Then the boy made off and Ali Zaybak went up to the door and knocked; whereupon quoth Ahmad al-Danaf, "O doorkeeper, open the door; that is the knock of Quicksilver Ali the Cairene." So he opened the door and Ali entered and saluted with the salam Ahmad who embraced him, and the Forty greeted him. Then Calamity Ahmad gave him a suit of clothes, saying, "When the Caliph made me captain, he clothed my lads and I kept this suit[FN#225] for thee." Then they seated him in the place of honour and setting on meat they ate well and drink they drank hard and made merry till the morning, when Ahmad said to Ali, "Beware thou walk not about the streets of Baghdad, but sit thee still in this barrack." Asked Ali, "Why so? Have I come hither to be shut up? No, I came to look about me and divert myself." Replied Ahmad, "O my son, think not that Baghdad be like Cairo. Baghdad is the seat of the Caliphate; sharpers abound therein and rogueries spring therefrom as worts spring out of earth." So Ali abode in the barrack three days when Ahmad said to him, "I wish to present thee to the Caliph, that he may assign thee an allowance." But he replied, "When the time cometh." So he let him go his own way. One day, as Ali sat in the barrack, his breast became straitened and his soul troubled and he said in himself, "Come, let us up and thread the ways of Baghdad and broaden my bosom." So he went out and walked from street to street, till he came to the middle bazar, where he entered a cook-shop and dined;[FN#226] after which he went out to wash his hands. Presently he saw forty slaves, with felt bonnets and steel cutlasses, come walking, two by two; and last of all came Dalilah the Wily, mounted on a she-mule, with a gilded helmet which bore a ball of polished steel, and clad in a coat of mail, and such like. Now she was returning from the Divan to the Khan of which she was portress; and when she espied Ali, she looked at him fixedly and saw that he resembled Calamity Ahmad in height and breadth. Moreover, he was clad in a striped Aba-cloak and a burnous, with a steel cutlass by his side and similar gear, while valour shone from his eyes, testifying in favour of him and not in disfavour of him. So she returned to the Khan and going in to her daughter, fetched a table of sand, and struck a geomantic figure, whereby she discovered that the stranger's name was Ali of Cairo and that his fortune overcame her fortune and that of her daughter. Asked Zaynab, "O my mother, what hath befallen thee that thou hast recourse to the sand-table?" Answered Dalilah, "O my daughter, I have seen this day a young man who resembleth Calamity Ahmad, and I fear lest he come to hear how thou didst strip Ahmad and his men and enter the Khan and play us a trick, in revenge for what we did with his chief and the forty; for methinks he has taken up his lodging in Al- Danaf's barrack." Zaynab rejoined, "What is this? Methinks thou hast taken his measure." Then she donned her fine clothes and went out into the streets. When the people saw her, they all made love to her and she promised and sware and listened and coquetted and passed from market to market, till she saw Ali the Cairene coming, when she went up to him and rubbed her shoulder against him. Then she turned and said "Allah give long life to folk of discrimination!" Quoth he, "How goodly is thy form! To whom dost thou belong?"; and quoth she, "To the gallant[FN#227] like thee;" and he said, "Art thou wife or spinster?" "Married," said she. Asked Ali, "Shall it be in my lodging or thine?[FN#228] and she answered, "I am a merchant's daughter and a merchant's wife and in all my life I have never been out of doors till to-day, and my only reason was that when I made ready food and thought to eat, I had no mind thereto without company. When I saw thee, love of thee entered my heart: so wilt thou deign solace my soul and eat a mouthful with me?" Quoth he, "Whoso is invited, let him accept." Thereupon she went on and he followed her from street to street, but presently he bethought himself and said, "What wilt thou do and thou a stranger? Verily 'tis said, 'Whoso doth whoredom in his strangerhood, Allah will send him back disappointed.' But I will put her off from thee with fair words." So he said to her, "Take this dinar and appoint me a day other than this;" and she said, "By the Mighty Name, it may not be but thou shalt go home with me as my guest this very day and I will take thee to fast friend." So he followed her till she came to a house with a lofty porch and a wooden bolt on the door and said to him, "Open this lock."[FN#229] Asked he "Where is the key?"; and she answered, "'Tis lost." Quoth he, "Whoso openeth a lock without a key is a knave whom it behoveth the ruler to punish, and I know not how to open doors without keys?"[FN#230] With this she raised her veil and showed him her face, whereat he took one glance of eyes that cost him a thousand sighs. Then she let fall her veil on the lock and repeating over it the names of the mother of Moses, opened it without a key and entered. He followed her and saw swords and steel-weapons hanging up; and she put off her veil and sat down with him. Quoth he to himself, "Accomplish what Allah bath decreed to thee," and bent over her, to take a kiss of her cheek; but she caught the kiss upon her palm, saying, "This beseemeth not but by night." Then she brought a tray of food and wine, and they ate and drank; after which she rose and drawing water from the well, poured it from the ewer over his hands, whilst he washed them. Now whilst they were on this wise, she cried out and beat upon her breast, saying, "My husband had a signet-ring of ruby, which was pledged to him for five hundred dinars, and I put it on; but 'twas too large for me, so I straitened it with wax, and when I let down the bucket,[FN#231] that ring must have dropped into the well. So turn thy face to the door, the while I doff my dress and go down into the well and fetch it." Quoth Ali, "'Twere shame on me that thou shouldst go down there I being present; none shall do it save I." So he put off his clothes and tied the rope about himself and she let him down into the well. Now there was much water therein and she said to him, "The rope is too short; loose thyself and drop down." So he did himself loose from the rope and dropped into the water, in which he sank fathoms deep without touching bottom; whilst she donned her mantilla and taking his clothes, returned to her mother— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When is was the Seven Hundred and Twelfth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Ali of Cairo was in the well, Zaynab donned her mantilla and, taking his clothes, returned to her mother and said, "I have stripped Ali the Egyptian and cast him into the Emir Hasan's well, whence alas for his chance of escaping!"[FN#232] Presently, the Emir Hasan, the master of the house, who had been absent at the Divan, came home and, finding the door open, said to his Syce, "Why didst thou not draw the bolt?" "O my lord," replied the groom, "indeed I locked it with my own hand." The Emir cried, "As my head liveth, some robber hath entered my house!" Then he went in and searched, but found none and said to the groom, "Fill the ewer, that I may make the Wuzu-ablution." So the man lowered the bucket into the well but, when he drew it up, he found it heavy and looking down, saw something therein sitting; whereupon he let it fall into the water and cried out, saying, "O my lord, an Ifrit came up to me out of the well!" Replied the Emir, "Go and fetch four doctors of the law, that they may read the Koran over him, till he go away." So he fetched the doctors and the Emir said to them, "Sit round this well and exorcise me this Ifrit." They did as he bade them; after which the groom and another servant lowered the bucket again and Ali clung to it and hid himself under it patiently till he came near the top, when he sprang out and landed among the doctors, who fell a-cuffing one another and crying out, "Ifrit! Ifrit!" The Emir looked at Ali and seeing him a young man, said to him, "Art thou a thief?" "No," replied Ali; "Then what dost thou in the well?" asked the Emir; and Ali answered, "I was asleep and dreamt a wet dream;[FN#233] so I went down to the Tigris to wash myself and dived, whereupon the current carried me under the earth and I came up in this well." Quoth the other, "Tell the truth."[FN#234] So Ali told him all that had befallen him, and the Emir gave him an old gown and let him go. He returned to Calamity Ahmad's lodging and related to him all that had passed. Quoth Ahmad, "Did I not warn thee that Baghdad is full of women who play tricks upon men?" And quoth Ali Kitf al-Jamal, "I conjure thee by the Mighty Name, tell me how it is that thou art the chief of the lads of Cairo and yet hast been stripped by a girl?" This was grievous to Ali and he repented him of not having followed Ahmad's advice. Then the Calamity gave him another suit of clothes and Hasan Shuman said to him, "Dost thou know the young person?" "No," replied Ali; and Hasan rejoined, "'Twas Zaynab, the daughter of Dalilah the Wily, the portress of the Caliph's Khan; and hast thou fallen into her toils, O Ali?" Quoth he, "Yes," and quoth Hasan, "O Ali, 'twas she who took thy Chief's clothes and those of all his men." "This is a disgrace to you all!" "And what thinkest thou to do?" "I purpose to marry her." "Put away that thought far from thee, and console thy heart of her." "O Hasan, do thou counsel me how I shall do to marry her." "With all my heart: if thou wilt drink from my hand and march under my banner, I will bring thee to thy will of her." "I will well." So Hasan made Ali put off his clothes; and, taking a cauldron heated therein somewhat as it were pitch, wherewith he anointed him and he became like unto a blackamoor slave. Moreover, he smeared his lips and cheeks and pencilled his eyes with red Kohl.[FN#235] Then he clad him in a slave's habit and giving him a tray of kabobs and wine, said to him, "There is a black cook in the Khan who requires from the bazar only meat; and thou art now become his like; so go thou to him civilly and accost him in friendly fashion and speak to him in the blacks' lingo, and salute him, saying, ''Tis long since we met in the beer-ken.' He will answer thee, 'I have been too busy: on my hands be forty slaves, for whom I cook dinner and supper, besides making ready a tray for Dalilah and the like for her daughter Zaynab and the dogs' food.' And do thou say to him, 'Come, let us eat kabobs and lush swipes.'[FN#236] Then go with him into the saloon and make him drunken and question him of his service, how many dishes and what dishes he hath to cook, and ask him of the dogs' food and the keys of the kitchen and the larder; and he will tell thee; for a man, when he is drunken, telleth all he would conceal were he sober. When thou hast done this drug him and don his clothes and sticking the two knives in thy girdle, take the vegetable-basket and go to the market and buy meat and greens, with which do thou return to the Khan and enter the kitchen and the larder and cook the food. Dish it up and put Bhang in it, so as to drug the dogs and the slaves and Dalilah and Zaynab and lastly serve up. When all are asleep, hie thee to the upper chamber and bring away every suit of clothes thou wilt find hanging there. And if thou have a mind to marry Zaynab, bring with thee also the forty carrier-pigeons." So Ali went to the Khan and going in to the cook, saluted him and said, "'Tis long since I have met thee in the beer-ken." The slave replied, "I have been busy cooking for the slaves and the dogs." Then he took him and making him drunken, questioned him of his work. Quoth the kitchener, "Every day I cook five dishes for dinner and the like for supper; and yesterday they sought of me a sixth dish,[FN#237] yellow rice,[FN#238] and a seventh, a mess of cooked pomegranate seed." Ali asked, "And what is the order of thy service?" and the slave answered, "First I serve up Zaynab's tray, next Dalilah's; then I feed the slaves and give the dogs their sufficiency of meat, and the least that satisfies them is a pound each." But, as fate would have it, he forgot to ask him of the keys. Then he drugged him and donned his clothes; after which he took the basket and went to the market. There he bought meat and greens.—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Seven Hundred and Thirteenth Night,

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Ali of Cairo, after drugging the cook-slave with Bhang, took the two knives which he stuck in his belt and, carrying the vegetable-basket, went to the market where he bought meat and greens; and, presently returning to the Khan, he saw Dalilah seated at the gate, watching those who went in and came out, and the forty slaves with her, armed. So he heartened his heart and entered; but Dalilah knew him and said to him, "Back, O captain of thieves! Wilt thou play a trick on me in the Khan?" Thereupon he (dressed as a slave) turned and said to her, "What sayest thou, O portress?" She asked, "What hast thou done with the slave, our cook?; say me if thou hast killed or drugged him?" He answered, "What cook? Is there here another slave-cook than I?" She rejoined, "Thou liest, thou art Mercury Ali the Cairene." And he said to her, in slaves' patois, "O portress, are the Cairenes black or white? I will slave for you no longer." Then said the slaves to him, "What is the matter with thee, O our cousin?" Cried Dalilah, "This is none of your uncle's children, but Ali Zaybak the Egyptian; and meseems he hath either drugged your cousin or killed him." But they said, "Indeed this is our cousin Sa'adu'llah the cook;" and she, "Not so, 'tis Mercury Ali, and he hath dyed his skin." Quoth the sharper, "And who is Ali? I am Sa'adu'llah." Then she fetched unguent of proof, with which she anointed Ali's forearm and rubbed it; but the black did not come off; whereupon quoth the slaves "Let him go and dress us our dinner." Quoth Dalilah, "If he be indeed your cousin, he knoweth what you sought of him yesternight[FN#239] and how many dishes he cooketh every day." So they asked him of this and he said, "Every day I cook you five dishes for the morning and the like for the evening meal, lentils and rice and broth and stew[FN#240] and sherbet of roses; and yesternight ye sought of me a sixth dish and a seventh, to wit yellow rice and cooked pomegranate seed." And the slaves said "Right!" Then quoth Dalilah, "In with him and if he know the kitchen and the larder, he is indeed your cousin; but, if not, kill him." Now the cook had a cat which he had brought up, and whenever he entered the kitchen it would stand at the door and spring to his back, as soon as he went in. So, when Ali entered, the cat saw him and jumped on his shoulders; but he threw it off and it ran before him to the door of the kitchen and stopped there. He guessed that this was the kitchen door; so he took the keys and seeing one with traces of feathers thereon, knew it for the kitchen key and therewith opened the door. Then he entered and setting down the greens, went out again, led by the cat, which ran before him and stopped at another door. He guessed that this was the larder and seeing one of the keys marked with grease, knew it for the key and opened the door therewith; where-upon quoth the slaves, "O Dalilah, were he a stranger, he had not known the kitchen and the larder, nor had he been able to distinguish the keys thereof from the rest; verily, he is our cousin Sa'adu'llah." Quoth she, "He learned the places from the cat and distinguished the keys one from the other by the appearance: but this cleverness imposeth not upon me." Then he returned to the kitchen where he cooked the dinner and, carrying Zaynab's tray up to her room, saw all the stolen clothes hanging up; after which he went down and took Dalilah her tray and gave the slaves and the dogs their rations. The like he did at sundown and drugged Dalilah's food and that of Zaynab and the slaves. Now the doors of the Khan were opened and shut with the sun. So Ali went forth and cried out, saying, "O dwellers in the Khan, the watch is set and we have loosed the dogs; whoso stirreth out after this can blame none save himself." But he had delayed the dogs' supper and put poison therein; consequently when he set it before them, they ate of it and died while the slaves and Dalilah and Zaynab still slept under Bhang. Then he went up and took all the clothes and the carrier-pigeons and, opening the gate made off to the barrack of the Forty, where he found Hasan Shuman the Pestilence who said to him, "How hast thou fared?" Thereupon he told him what had passed and he praised him. Then he caused him to put off his clothes and boiled a decoction of herbs wherewith he washed him, and his skin became white as it was; after which he donned his own dress and going back to the Khan, clad the cook in the habit he had taken from him and made him smell to the counter-drug; upon which the slave awoke and going forth to the greengrocer's, bought vegetables and returned to the Khan. Such was the case with Al-Zaybak of Cairo; but as regards Dalilah the Wily, when the day broke, one of the lodgers in the Khan came out of his chamber and, seeing the gate open and the slaves drugged and the dogs dead, he went in to her and found her lying drugged, with a scroll on her neck and at her head a sponge steeped in the counter-drug. He set the sponge to her nostrils and she awoke and asked, "Where am I?" The merchant answered, "When I came down from my chamber I saw the gate of the Khan open and the dogs dead and found the slaves and thee drugged." So she took up the paper and read therein these words, "None did this deed save Ali the Egyptian." Then she awoke the slaves and Zaynab by making them smell the counter-Bhang and said to them, "Did I not tell you that this was Ali of Cairo?"; presently adding to the slaves, "But do ye conceal the matter." Then she said to her daughter, "How often have I warned thee that Ali would not forego his revenge? He hath done this deed in requital of that which thou diddest with him and he had it in his power to do with thee other than this thing; but he refrained therefrom out of courtesy and a desire that there should be love and friendship between us." So saying, she doffed her man's gear and donned woman's attire[FN#241] and, tying the kerchief of peace about her neck, repaired to Ahmad al-Danaf's barrack. Now when Ali entered with the clothes and the carrier-pigeons, Hasan Shuman gave the hall-keeper the price of forty pigeons and he bought them and cooked them amongst the men. Presently there came a knock at the door and Ahmad said, "That is Dalilah's knock: rise and open to her, O hall-keeper." So he admitted her and—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Seven Hundred and Fourteenth Night,

She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Dalilah was admitted, Hasan asked her, "What bringeth thee hither, O ill-omened old woman? Verily, thou and thy brother Zurayk the fishmonger are of a piece!"; and she answered, "O captain I am in the wrong and this my neck is at thy mercy; but tell me which of you it was that played me this trick?" Quoth Calamity Ahmad, "'Twas the first of my lads." Rejoined Dalilah, "For the sake of Allah intercede with him to give me back the carrier-pigeons and what not, and thou wilt lay me under great obligation." When Hasan heard this he said, "Allah requite thee, O Ali! Why didst thou cook the pigeons?"; and Ali answered, "I knew not that they were carrier-pigeons." Then said Ahmad, "O hall-keeper bring us the cooked pigeons." So he brought them and Dalilah took a piece and tasting it, said, "This is none of the carrier- pigeons' flesh, for I fed them on grains of musk and their meat is become even as musk." Quoth Shuman, "An thou desire to have the carrier-pigeons, comply with Ali's will." Asked she "What is that?" And Hasan answered, "He would have thee marry him to thy daughter Zaynab." She said, "I have not command over her except of affection"; and Hasan said to Ali the Cairene "Give her the pigeons." So he gave them to her, and she took them and rejoiced in them. Then quoth Hasan to her, "There is no help but thou return us a sufficient reply"; and Dalilah rejoined, "If it be indeed his wish to marry her, it availed nothing to play this clever trick upon us: it behoveth him rather to demand her in marriage of her mother's brother and her guardian, Captain Zurayk, him who crieth out, saying, 'Ho! a pound of fish for two farthings!' and who hangeth up in his shop a purse containing two thousand dinars." When the Forty heard this, they all rose and cried out, saying, "What manner of blather is this, O harlot? Dost thou wish to bereave us of our brother Ali of Cairo?" Then she returned to the Khan and said to her daughter, "Ali the Egyptian seeketh thee in marriage." Whereat Zaynab rejoiced, for she loved him because of his chaste forbearance towards her,[FN#242] and asked her mother what had passed. So she told her, adding, "I made it a condition that he should demand thy hand of thine uncle, so I might make him fall into destruction." Meanwhile Ali turned to his fellows and asked them, "What manner of man is this Zurayk?"; and they answered, "He was chief of the sharpers of Al-Irak land and could all but pierce mountains and lay hold upon the stars. He would steal the Kohl from the eye and, in brief, he had not his match for roguery; but he hath repented his sins and foresworn his old way of life and opened him a fishmonger's shop. And now he hath amassed two thousand dinars by the sale of fish and laid them in a purse with strings of silk, to which he hath tied bells and rings and rattles of brass, hung on a peg within the doorway. Every time he openeth his shop he suspendeth the said purse and crieth out, saying, 'Where are ye, O sharpers of Egypt, O prigs of Al-Irak, O tricksters of Ajam-land? Behold, Zurayk the fishmonger hath hung up a purse in front of his shop, and whoso pretendeth to craft and cunning, and can take it by sleight, it is his.' So the long fingered and greedy-minded come and try to take the purse, but cannot; for, whilst he frieth his fish and tendeth the fire, he layeth at his feet scone-like circles of lead; and whenever a thief thinketh to take him unawares and maketh a snatch at the purse he casteth at him a load of lead and slayeth him or doeth him a damage. So O Ali, wert thou to tackle him, thou wouldst be as one who jostleth a funeral cortege, unknowing who is dead;[FN#243] for thou art no match for him, and we fear his mischief for thee. Indeed, thou hast no call to marry Zaynab, and he who leaveth a thing alone liveth without it." Cried Ali, "This were shame, O comrades; needs must I take the purse: but bring me a young lady's habit." So they brought him women's clothes and he clad himself therein and stained his hands with Henna, and modestly hung down his veil. Then he took a lamb and killing it, cut out the long intestine[FN#244] which he cleaned and tied up below; moreover he filled it with the blood and bound it between his thighs; after which he donned petticoat-trousers and walking boots. He also made himself a pair of false breasts with birds' crops and filled them with thickened milk and tied round his hips and over his belly a piece of linen, which he stuffed with cotton, girding himself over all with a kerchief of silk well starched. Then he went out, whilst all who saw him exclaimed, "What a fine pair of hind cheeks!" Presently he saw an ass-driver coming, so he gave him a dinar and mounting, rode till he came to Zurayk's shop, where he saw the purse hung up and the gold glittering through it. Now Zurayk was frying fish, and Ali said, "O ass- man, what is that smell?" Replied he, "It's the smell of Zurayk's fish." Quoth Ali, "I am a woman with child and the smell harmeth me; go, fetch me a slice of the fish." So the donkey-boy said to Zurayk, "What aileth thee to fry fish so early and annoy pregnant women with the smell? I have here the wife of the Emir Hasan Sharr al-Tarik, and she is with child; so give her a bit of fish, for the babe stirreth in her womb. O Protector, O my God, avert from us the mischief of this day!" Thereupon Zurayk took a piece of fish and would have fried it, but the fire had gone out and he went in to rekindle it. Meanwhile Ali dismounted and sitting down, pressed upon the lamb's intestine till it burst and the blood ran out from between his legs. Then he cried aloud, saying, "O my back! O my side!" Whereupon the driver turned and seeing the blood running, said, "What aileth thee, O my lady?" Replied Ali, "I have miscarried"; where-upon Zurayk looked out and seeing the blood fled affrighted into the inner shop. Quoth the donkey-driver, "Allah torment thee, O Zurayk! The lady hath miscarried and thou art no match for her husband. Why must thou make a stench so early in the morning? I said to thee, 'Bring her a slice,' but thou wouldst not." Thereupon, he took his ass and went his way and, as Zurayk still did not appear, Ali put out his hand to the purse; but no sooner had he touched it than the bells and rattles and rings began to jingle and the gold to chink. Quoth Zurayk, who returned at the sound, "Thy perfidy hath come to light, O gallows-bird! Wilt thou put a cheat on me and thou in a woman's habit? Now take what cometh to thee!" And he threw a cake of lead at him, but it went agley and lighted on another; whereupon the people rose against Zurayk and said to him, "Art thou a trades-man or a swashbuckler? An thou be a tradesman, take down thy purse and spare the folk thy mischief." He replied, "Bismillah, in the name of Allah! On my head be it." As for Ali, he made off to the barrack and told Hasan Shuman what had happened, after which he put off his woman's gear and donning a groom's habit which was brought to him by his chief took a dish and five dirhams. Then he returned to Zurayk's shop and the fishmonger said to him, "What dost thou want, O my master?"[FN#245] He showed him the dirhams and Zurayk would have given him of the fish in the tray, but he said, "I will have none save hot fish." So he set fish in the earthen pan and finding the fire dead, went in to relight it; whereupon Ali put out his hand to the purse and caught hold of the end of it. The rattles and rings and bells jingled and Zurayk said, "Thy trick hath not deceived me. I knew thee for all thou art disguised as a groom by the grip of thy hand on the dish and the dirhams."— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Seven Hundred and Fifteenth Night,

She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Ali of Egypt put out his hand to the purse, the bells and rings jingled and Zurayk said, "Thy trick hath not deceived me for all thou comest disguised as a groom I knew thee by the grip of thy hand on the dish and the dirhams!" So saying, he threw the lead at him, but he avoided it and it fell into the pan full of hot fish and broke it and overturned it, fat and all, upon the breast and shoulders of the Kazi, who was passing. The oil ran down inside his clothes to his privy parts and he cried out, "O my privities! What a sad pickle you are in! Alas, unhappy I! Who hath played me this trick?" Answered the people, "O our lord, it was some small boy that threw a stone into the pan: but for Allah's word, it had been worse." Then they turned and seeing the loaf of lead and that it was Zurayk who had thrown it, rose against him and said to him, "O Zurayk, this is not allowed of Allah! Take down the purse or it shall go ill for thee." Answered he, "I will take it down, Inshallah!" Meanwhile Ali returned to the barrack and told his comrades who cried, "Where is the purse?", all that had passed and they said, "Thou hast exhausted two- thirds of his cunning." Then he changed his groom's dress for the garb of a merchant and going out, met a snake-charmer, with a bag of serpents and a wallet containing his kit to whom said he, "O charmer, come and amuse my lads, and thou shalt have largesse." So he accompanied him to the barrack, where he fed him and drugging him with Bhang, doffed his clothes and put them on. Then he took the bags and repairing to Zurayk's shop began to play the reed-pipe. Quoth Zurayk, "Allah provide thee!" But Ali pulled out the serpents and cast them down before him; whereat the fishseller, who was afraid of snakes, fled from them into the inner shop. Thereupon Ali picked up the reptiles and, thrusting them back into the bag, stretched out his hand and caught hold of the end of the purse. The rings again rang and the bells and rattles jangled, and Zurayk cried, "Wilt thou never cease to play me tricks? Now thou feignest thyself a serpent-charmer!" So saying, he took up a piece of lead, and hurled it at Ali; but it missed him and fell on the head of a groom, who was passing by, following his master, a trooper, and knocked him down. Quoth the soldier, "Who felled him?"; and the folk said, "'Twas a stone fell from the roof." So the soldier passed on and the people, seeing the piece of lead, went up to Zurayk and cried to him, "Take down the purse!"; and he said, "Inshallah, I will take it down this very night!" Ali ceased not to practice upon Zurayk till he had made seven different attempts but without taking the purse. Then he returned the snake-charmer his clothes and kit and gave him due benevolence; after which he went back to Zurayk's shop and heard him say, "If I leave the purse here to-night, he will dig through the shop-wall and take it; I will carry it home with me." So he arose and shut the shop; then he took down the purse and putting it in his bosom set out home, till he came near his house, when he saw a wedding in a neighbour's lodging and said to himself, "I will hie me home and give my wife the purse and don my fine clothes and return to the marriage." And Ali followed him. Now Zurayk had married a black girl, one of the freed women of the Wazir Ja'afar and she had borne him a son, whom he named Abdallah, and he had promised her to spend the money in the purse on the occasion of the boy's circumcision and of his marriage- procession. So he went into his house and, as he entered, his wife saw that his face was overcast and asked him, "What hath caused thy sadness?" Quoth he, "Allah hath afflicted me this day with a rascal who made seven attempts to get the purse, but without avail;" and quoth she, "Give it to me, that I may lay it up against the boy's festival-day." (Now Ali, who had followed him lay hidden in a closet whence he could see and hear all.) So he gave her the purse and changed his clothes, saying, "Keep the purse safely, O Umm Abdallah, for I am going to the wedding." But she said, "Take thy sleep awhile." So he lay down and fell asleep. Presently, Ali rose and going on tiptoe to the purse, took it and went to the house of the wedding and stood there, looking on at the fun. Now meanwhile, Zurayk dreamt that he saw a bird fly away with the purse and awaking in affright, said to his wife, "Rise; look for the purse." So she looked and finding it gone, buffeted her face and said, "Alas the blackness of thy fortune, O Umm Abdallah! A sharker hath taken the purse." Quoth Zurayk, "By Allah it can be none other than rascal Ali who hath plagued me all day! He hath followed me home and seized the purse; and there is no help but that I go and get it back." Quoth she, "Except thou bring it, I will lock on thee the door and leave thee to pass the night in the street." So he went up to the house of the wedding, and seeing Ali looking on, said to himself, "This is he who took the purse; but he lodgeth with Ahmad al-Danaf." So he forewent him to the barrack and, climbing up at the back, dropped down into the saloon, where he found every one asleep. Presently there came a rap at the door and Zurayk asked, "Who is there!" "Ali of Cairo," answered the knocker; and Zurayk said, "Hast thou brought the purse?" So Ali thought it was Hasan Shuman and replied, "I have brought it;[FN#246] open the door." Quoth Zurayk, "Impossible that I open to thee till I see the purse; for thy chief and I have laid a wager about it." Said Ali, "Put out thy hand." So he put out his hand through the hole in the side-door and Ali laid the purse in it; whereupon Zurayk took it and going forth, as he had come in, returned to the wedding. Ali stood for a long while at the door, but none opened to him; and at last he gave a thundering knock that awoke all the men and they said, "That is Ali of Cairo's peculiar rap." So the hall-keeper opened to him and Hasan Shuman said to him, "Hast thou brought the purse?" Replied Ali, "Enough of jesting, O Shuman: didst thou not swear that thou wouldest not open to me till I showed thee the purse, and did I not give it thee through the hole in the side door? And didst thou not say to me, 'I am sworn never to open the door till thou show me the purse?'" Quoth Hasan? "By Allah, 'twas not I who took it, but Zurayk!" Quoth Ali, "Needs must I get it again," and repaired to the house of the wedding, where he heard the buffoon[FN#247] say, "Bravo,[FN#248] O Abu Abdallah! Good luck to thee with thy son!" Said Ali, "My luck is in the ascendant," and going to the fishmonger's lodging, climbed over the back wall of the house and found his wife asleep. So he drugged her with Bhang and clad himself in her clothes. Then he took the child in his arms and went round, searching, till he found a palm-leaf basket containing buns,[FN#249] which Zurayk of his niggardliness, had kept from the Greater Feast. Presently, the fishmonger returned and knocked at the door, whereupon Ali imitated his wife's voice and asked, "Who is at the door?" "Abu Abdallah," answered Zurayk and Ali said, "I swore that I would not open the door to thee, except thou broughtest back the purse." Quoth the fish-monger, "I have brought it." Cried All, "Here with it into my hand before I open the door;" and Zurayk answered, saying, "Let down the basket and take it therein." So Sharper Ali let down the basket and the other put the purse therein, whereupon Ali took it and drugged the child. Then he aroused the woman and making off by the back way as he had entered, returned with the child and the purse and the basket of cakes to the barrack and showed them all to the Forty, who praised his dexterity. There-upon he gave them cakes, which they ate, and made over the boy to Hasan Shuman, saying, "This is Zurayk's child; hide it by thee." So he hid it and fetching a lamb, gave it to the hall-keeper who cooked it whole, wrapped in a cloth, and laid it out shrouded as it were a dead body. Meanwhile Zurayk stood awhile, waiting at the door, then gave a knock like thunder and his wife said to him, "Hast thou brought the purse?" He replied, "Didst thou not take it up in the basket thou diddest let down but now?"; and she rejoined, "I let no basket down to thee, nor have I set eyes on the purse." Quoth he, "By Allah the sharper hath been beforehand with me and hath taken the purse again!" Then he searched the house and found the basket of cakes gone and the child missing and cried out, saying, "Alas, my child!" Where-upon the woman beat her breast and said, "I and thee to the Wazir, for none hath killed my son save this sharper, and all because of thee." Cried Zurayk, "I will answer for him." So he tied the kerchief of truce about his neck and going to Ahmad al-Danaf's lodging, knocked at the door. The hall- keeper admitted him and as he entered Hasan Shuman asked him, "What bringeth thee here?" He answered, "Do ye intercede with Ali the Cairene to restore me my child and I will yield to him the purse of gold." Quoth Hasan, "Allah requite thee, O Ali! Why didst thou not tell me it was his child?" "What hath befallen him?" cried Zurayk, and Hasan replied, "We gave him raisins to eat, and he choked and died and this is he." Quoth Zurayk "Alas, my son! What shall I say to his mother?" Then he rose and opening the shroud, saw it was a lamb barbecued and said, "Thou makest sport of me, O Ali!" Then they gave him the child and Calamity Ahmad said to him, "Thou didst hang up the purse, proclaiming that it should be the property of any sharper who should be able to take it, and Ali hath taken it; so 'tis the very property of our Cairene." Zurayk answered "I make him a present of it;" but Ali said to him, "Do thou accept it on account of thy niece Zaynab." And Zurayk replied, "I accept it." Then quoth the Forty, "We demand of thee Zaynab in marriage for Ali of Cairo;" but quoth he, "I have no control over her save of kindness." Hasan asked, "Dost thou grant our suit?"; and he answered, "Yes, I will grant her in marriage to him who can avail to her mahr or marriage-settlement." "And what is her dowry?" enquired Hasan; and Zurayk replied, "She hath sworn that none shall mount her breast save the man who bringeth her the robe of Kamar, daughter of Azariah the Jew and the rest of her gear."—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Seven Hundred and Sixteenth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Zurayk replied to Shuman, "She hath sworn that none shall ride astraddle upon her breast save the man who bringeth her the clothes of Kamar, daughter of Azariah the Jew and her crown and girdle and pantoufle[FN#250] of gold," Ali cried, "If I do not bring her the clothes this very night, I renounce my claim to her." Rejoined Zurayk, "O Ali, thou art a dead man if thou play any of thy pranks on Kamar." "Why so?" asked Ali and the other answered, "Her father, Jew Azariah, is a skilful, wily, perfidious magician who hath the Jinn at his service. He owneth without the city a castle, whose walls are one brick of gold and one of silver and which is visible to the folk only whilst he is therein: when he goeth forth, it disappeareth. He brought his daughter this dress I speak of from an enchanted treasure, and every day he layeth it in a charger of gold and, opening the windows of the palace, crieth out, 'Where are the sharpers of Cairo, the prigs of Al-Irak, the master-thieves of Ajam-land? Whoso prevaileth to take this dress, 'tis his.' So all the long- fingered ones essayed the adventure, but failed to take it, and he turned them by his magic into apes and asses." But Ali said, "I will assuredly take it, and Zaynab shall be displayed therein."[FN#251] So he went to the shop of the Jew and found him a man of stern and forbidding aspect, seated with scales and stone-weights and gold and silver and nests of drawers and so forth before him, and a she-mule tethered hard by. Presently he rose and shutting his shop, laid the gold and silver in two purses, which he placed in a pair of saddle-bags and set on the she-mule's back. Then he mounted and rode till he reached the city-outskirts followed, with-out his knowledge, by Ali, when he took out some dust from a pocket-purse and, muttering over it, sprinkled it upon the air. No sooner had he done this than sharper Ali saw a castle which had not its like, and the Jew mounted the steps upon his beast which was a subject Jinni; after which he dismounted and taking the saddle-bags off her back, dismissed the she-mule and she vanished. Then he entered the castle and sat down. Presently, he arose and opening the lattices, took a wand of gold, which he set up in the open window and, hanging thereto a golden charger by chains of the same metal, laid in it the dress, whilst Ali watched him from behind the door, and presently he cried out, saying, "Where are the sharpers of Cairo? Where are the prigs of Al-Irak, the master-thieves of the Ajam-land? Whoso can take this dress by his sleight, 'tis his!" Then he pronounced certain magical words and a tray of food spread itself before him. He ate and conjured a second time, whereupon the tray disappeared; and yet a third time, when a table of wine was placed between his hands and he drank. Quoth Ali, "I know not how I am to take the dress except if he be drunken." Then he stole up behind the Jew whinger in grip; but the other turned and conjured, saying to his hand, "Hold with the sword;" whereupon Ali's right arm was held and abode half-way in the air hending the hanger. He put out his left hand to the weapon, but it also stood fixed in the air, and so with his right foot, leaving him standing on one foot. Then the Jew dispelled the charm from him and Ali became as before. Presently Azariah struck a table of sand and found that the thief's name was Mercury Ali of Cairo; so he turned to him and said, "Come nearer! Who art thou and what dost thou here?" He replied, "I am Ali of Cairo, of the band of Ahmad al-Danaf. I sought the hand of Zaynab, daughter of Dalilah the Wily, and she demanded thy daughter's dress to her dowry; so do thou give it to me and become a Moslem, an thou wouldst save thy life." Rejoined the Jew, "After thy death! Many have gone about to steal the dress, but failed to take it from me; wherefore an thou deign be advised, thou wilt begone and save thyself; for they only seek the dress of thee, that thou mayst fall into destruction; and indeed, had I not seen by geomancy that thy fortune overrideth my fortunes I had smitten thy neck." Ali rejoiced to hear that his luck overcame that of the Jew and said to him, "There is no help for it but I must have the dress and thou must become a True Believer." Asked the Jew, "Is this thy will and last word," and Ali answered, "Yes." So the Jew took a cup and filling it with water, conjured over it and said to Ali, "Come forth from this shape of a man into the form of an ass." Then he sprinkled him with the water and straightway he became a donkey, with hoofs and long ears, and fell to braying after the manner of asinines. The Jew drew round him a circle which became a wall over against him, and drank on till the morning, when he said to Ali, "I will ride thee to-day and give the she-mule a rest." So he locked up the dress, the charger, the rod and the charms in a cupboard[FN#252] and conjured over Ali, who followed him. Then he set the saddle-bags on his back and mounting, fared forth of the Castle, whereupon it disappeared from sight and he rode into Baghdad, till he came to his shop, where he alighted and emptied the bags of gold and silver into the trays before him. As for Ali, he was tied up by the shop- door, where he stood in his asinine form hearing and understanding all that passed, without being able to speak. And behold, up came a young merchant with whom fortune had played the tyrant and who could find no easier Way of earning his livelihood than water-carrying. So he brought his wife's bracelets to the Jew and said to him, "Give me the price of these bracelets, that I may buy me an ass." Asked the Jew, "What wilt thou do with him?"; and the other answered, "O master, I mean to fetch water from the river on his back, and earn my living thereby." Quoth the Jew, "Take this ass of mine." So he sold him the bracelets and received the ass- shaped Ali of Cairo in part payment and carried him home. Quoth Ali to himself, "If the Ass-man clap the pannel on thee and load thee with water-skins and go with thee half a score journeys a day he will ruin thy health and thou wilt die." So, when the water-carrier's wife came to bring him his fodder, he butted her with his head and she fell on her back; whereupon he sprang on her and smiting her brow with his mouth, put out and displayed that which his begetter left him. She cried aloud and the neighbours came to her assistance and beat him and raised him off her breast. When her husband the intended water-carrier came home, she said to him, "Now either divorce me or return the ass to his owner." He asked, "What hath happened?"; and she answered, "This is a devil in the guise of a donkey. He sprang upon me, and had not the neighbours beaten him off my bosom he had done with me a foul thing." So he carried the ass back to the Jew, who said to him, "Wherefore hast thou brought him back?" and he replied, "He did a foul thing with my wife." So the Jew gave him his money again and he went away; and Azariah said to Ali, "Hast thou recourse to knavery, unlucky wretch that thou art, in order that"—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Seven Hundred and Seventeenth Night,

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the water-carrier brought back the ass, its Jew owner returned to him the monies and turning to Ali of Cairo said, "Hast thou recourse to knavery, unlucky wretch that thou art, in order that he may return thee to me? But since it pleaseth thee to be an ass, I will make thee a spectacle and a laughing stock to great and small." Then he mounted him and rode till he came without the city, when he brought out the ashes in powder and conjuring over it sprinkled it upon the air and immediately the Castle appeared. He entered and taking the saddle-bags off the ass's back set up the rod and hung to it the charger wherein were the clothes proclaiming aloud, "Where be the clever ones of all quarters who may avail to take this dress?" Then he conjured as before and meat was set before him and he ate and then wine when he drank; after which he took a cup of water and muttering certain words thereover, sprinkled it on the ass Ali, saying, "Quit this form and return to thy former shape." Ali straightway became a man once more and Azariah said to him, "O Ali, take good advice and be content with my mischief. Thou hast no call to marry Zaynab nor to take my daughter's dress, for 'tis no easy matter for thee: so leave greed and 'twill be better for thee; else will I turn thee into a bear or an ape or set on thee an Ifrit, who will cast thee behind the Mountain Kaf." He replied, "I have engaged to take the dress and needs must I have it and thou must Islamise or I will slay thee." Rejoined the Jew, "O Ali, thou art like a walnut; unless it be broken it cannot be eaten." Then he took a cup of water and conjuring over it, sprinkled Ali with somewhat thereof, saying, "Take thou shape of bear;" whereupon he instantly became a bear and the Jew put a collar about his neck, muzzled him and chained him to a picket of iron. Then he sat down and ate and drank, now and then throwing him a morsel of his orts and emptying the dregs of the cup over him, till the morning, when he rose and laid by the tray and the dress and conjured over the bear, which followed him to the shop. There the Jew sat down and emptied the gold and silver into the trays before Ali, after binding him by the chain; and the bear there abode seeing and comprehending but not able to speak. Presently up came a man and a merchant, who accosted the Jew and said to him, "O Master, wilt thou sell me yonder bear? I have a wife who is my cousin and is sick; and they have prescribed for her to eat bears' flesh and anoint herself with bears' grease." At this the Jew rejoiced and said to himself, "I will sell him to this merchant, so he may slaughter him and we be at peace from him." And Ali also said in his mind, "By Allah, this fellow meaneth to slaughter me; but deliverance is with the Almighty." Then said the Jew, "He is a present from me to thee." So the merchant took him and carried him into the butcher, to whom he said, "Bring thy tools and company me." The butcher took his knives and followed the merchant to his house, where he bound the beast and fell to sharpening his blade: but, when he went up to him to slaughter him, the bear escaped from his hands and rising into the air, disappeared from sight between heaven and earth; nor did he cease flying till he alighted at the Jew's castle. Now the reason thereof was on this wise. When the Jew returned home, his daughter questioned him of Ali and he told her what had happened; whereupon she said, "Summon a Jinni and ask him of the youth, whether he be indeed Mercury Ali or another who seeketh to put a cheat on thee." So Azariah called a Jinni by conjurations and questioned him of Ali; and he replied, "'Tis Ali of Cairo himself. The butcher hath pinioned him and whetted his knife to slaughter him." Quoth the Jew, "Go, snatch him up and bring him hither, ere the butcher cut his throat." So the Jinni flew off and, snatching Ali out of the butcher's hands, bore him to the palace and set him down before the Jew, who took a cup of water and conjuring over it, sprinkled him therewith, saying, "Return to thine own shape." And he straightway became a man again as before. The Jew's daughter Kamar,[FN#253] seeing him to be a handsome young man, fell in love with him and he fell in love with her; and she said to him, "O unlucky one, why dost thou go about to take my dress, enforcing my father to deal thus with thee?" Quoth he, "I have engaged to get it for Zaynab the Coney-catcher, that I may wed her therewith." And she said, "Others than thou have played pranks with my father to get my dress, but could not win to it," presently adding, "So put away this thought from thee." But he answered, "Needs must I have it, and thy father must become a Moslem, else I will slay him." Then said the Jew, "See, O my daughter, how this unlucky fellow seeketh his own destruction," adding, "Now I will turn thee into a dog." So he took a cup graven with characters and full of water and conjuring over it, sprinkled some of it upon Ali, saying, "Take thou form of dog." Whereupon he straight-way became a dog, and the Jew and his daughter drank together till the morning, when the father laid up the dress and charger and mounted his mule. Then he conjured over the dog, which followed him, as he rode towards the town, and all dogs barked at Ali[FN#254] as he passed, till he came to the shop of a broker, a seller of second-hand goods, who rose and drove away the dogs, and Ali lay down before him. The Jew turned and looked for him, but finding him not, passed onwards. Presently, the broker shut up his shop and went home, followed by the dog, which, when his daughter saw enter the house, she veiled her face and said, "O my papa, dost thou bring a strange man in to me?" He replied, "O my daughter, this is a dog." Quoth she, "Not so, 'tis Ali the Cairene, whom the Jew Azariah hath enchanted;" and she turned to the dog and said to him, "Art not Ali of Cairo?" And he signed to her with his head, "Yes." Then her father asked her, "Why did the Jew enchant him?"; and she answered, "Because of his daughter Kamar's dress; but I can release him." Said the broker, "An thou canst indeed do him this good office, now is the time," and she, "If he will marry me, I will release him." And he signed to her with his head, "Yes." So she took a cup of water, graven with certain signs and conjuring over it, was about to sprinkle Ali therewith, when lo and behold! she heard a great cry and the cup fell from her hand. She turned and found that it was her father's handmaid, who had cried out; and she said to her, "O my mistress, is't thus thou keepest the covenant between me and thee? None taught thee this art save I, and thou didst agree with me that thou wouldst do naught without consulting me and that whoso married thee should marry me also, and that one night should be mine and one night thine." And the broker's daughter said, "'Tis well." When the broker heard the maid's words, he asked his daughter, "Who taught the maid?"; and she answered, "O my papa, enquire of herself." So he put the question and she replied, "Know, O my lord, that, when I was with Azariah the Jew, I used to spy upon him and listen to him, when he performed his gramarye; and when he went forth to his shop in Baghdad, I opened his books and read in them, till I became skilled in the Cabbala-science. One day, he was warm with wine and would have me lie with him, but I objected, saying, 'I may not grant thee this except thou become a Moslem.' He refused and I said to him, 'Now for the Sultan's market.'[FN#255] So he sold me to thee and I taught my young mistress, making it a condition with her that she should do naught without my counsel, and that whoso might wed her should wed me also, one night for me and one night for her." Then she took a cup of water and conjuring over it, sprinkled the dog therewith; saying, "Return thou to form of man." And he straightway was restored to his former shape; whereupon the broker saluted him with the salam and asked him the reason of his enchantment. So Ali told him all that had passed—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Seven Hundred and Eighteenth Night,

She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the broker, having saluted Ali of Cairo with the salam, asked him the reason of his enchantment and what had befallen him; and he answered by telling him all that had passed, when the broker said to him, "Will not my daughter and the handmaid suffice thee?" but he answered, "Needs must I have Zaynab also." Now suddenly there came a rap at the door and the maid said, "Who is at the door?" The knocker replied, "Kamar, daughter of Azariah the Jew; say me, is Ali of Cairo with you?" Replied the broker's daughter, "O thou daughter of a dog! If he be with us, what wilt thou with him? Go down, O maid, and open to her." So the maid let her in, and when she looked upon Ali and he upon her, he said, "What bringeth thee hither O dog's daughter?" Quoth she, "I testify that there is no god but the God and I testify that Mohammed is the Apostle of God." And, having thus Islamised, she asked him, "Do men in the Faith of Al-Islam give marriage portions to women or do women dower men?" Quoth he, "Men endow women." "Then," said she, "I come and dower myself for thee, bringing thee, as my marriage-portion, my dress together with the rod and charger and chains and the head of my father, the enemy of thee and the foeman of Allah." And she threw down the Jew's head before him. Now the cause of her slaying her sire was as follows. On the night of his turning Ali into a dog, she saw, in a dream, a speaker who said to her, "Become a Moslemah." She did so; and as soon as she awoke next morning she expounded Al-Islam to her father who refused to embrace the Faith; so she drugged him with Bhang and killed him. As for Ali, he took the gear and said to the broker, "Meet we to-morrow at the Caliph's Divan, that I may take thy daughter and the handmaid to wife." Then he set out rejoicing, to return to the barrack of the Forty. On his way he met a sweetmeat seller, who was beating hand upon hand and saying, "There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! Folk's labour hath waxed sinful and man is active only in fraud!" Then said he to Ali, "I conjure thee, by Allah, taste of this confection!" So Ali took a piece and ate it and fell down senseless, for there was Bhang therein; whereupon the sweetmeat-seller seized the dress and the charger and the rest of the gear and thrusting them into the box where he kept his sweetmeats hoisted it up and made off. Presently he met a Kazi, who called to him, saying, "Come hither, O sweet-meat seller!" So he went up to him and setting down his sack laid the tray of sweetmeats upon it and asked, "What dost thou want?" "Halwa and dragees,[FN#256]" answered the Kazi and, taking some in his hand, said, "Both of these are adulterated." Then he brought out sweetmeats from his breast-pocket[FN#257] and gave them to the sweetmeat-seller, saying, "Look at this fashion; how excellent it is! Eat of it and make the like of it." So he ate and fell down senseless, for the sweetmeats were drugged with Bhang, whereupon the Kazi bundled him into the sack and made off with him, charger and chest and all, to the barrack of the Forty. Now the Judge in question was Hasan Shuman and the reason of this was as follows. When Ali had been gone some days in quest of the dress and they heard no news of him, Calamity Ahmad said to his men, "O lads, go and seek for your brother Ali of Cairo." So they sallied forth in quest of him and among the rest Hasan Shuman the Pestilence, disguised in a Kazi's gear. He came upon the sweetmeat-seller and, knowing him for Ahmad al-Lakit[FN#258] suspected him of having played some trick upon Ali; so he drugged him and did as we have seen. Mean-while, the other Forty fared about the streets and highways making search in different directions, and amongst them Ali Kitf al-Jamal, who espying a crowd, made towards the people and found the Cairene Ali lying drugged and senseless in their midst. So he revived him and he came to himself and seeing the folk flocking around him asked, "Where am I?" Answered Ali Camel-shoulder and his comrades, "We found thee lying here drugged but know not who drugged thee." Quoth Ali, "'Twas a certain sweetmeat-seller who drugged me and took the gear from me; but where is he gone?" Quoth his comrades, "We have seen nothing of him; but come, rise and go home with us." So they returned to the barrack, where they found Ahmad al-Danaf, who greeted Ali and enquired if he had brought the dress. He replied, "I was coming hither with it and other matters, including the Jew's head, when a sweetmeat-seller met me and drugged me with Bhang and took them from me." Then he told him the whole tale ending with, "If I come across that man of goodies again, I will requite him." Presently Hasan Shuman came out of a closet and said to him, "Hast thou gotten the gear, O Ali?" So he told him what had befallen him and added, "If I know whither the rascal is gone and where to find the knave, I would pay him out. Knowest thou whither he went?" Answered Hasan, "I know where he is," and opening the door of the closet, showed him the sweetmeat-seller within, drugged and senseless. Then he aroused him and he opened his eyes and finding himself in presence of Mercury Ali and Calamity Ahmad and the Forty, started up and said, "Where am I and who hath laid hands on me?" Replied Shuman, "'Twas I laid hands on thee;" and Ali cried, "O perfidious wretch, wilt thou play thy pranks on me?" And he would have slain him: but Hasan said to him, "Hold thy hand for this fellow is become thy kinsman." "How my kinsman?" quoth Ali; and quoth Hasan, "This is Ahmad al- Lakit son of Zaynab's sister." Then said Ali to the prisoner, "Why didst thou thus, O Lakit?" and he replied, "My grandmother, Dalilah the Wily, bade me do it; only because Zurayk the fishmonger fore-gathered with the old woman and said, 'Mercury Ali of Cairo is a sharper and a past master in knavery, and he will certainly slay the Jew and bring hither the dress.' So she sent for me and said to me, 'O Ahmad, dost thou know Ali of Cairo?' Answered I, 'Indeed I do and 'twas I directed him to Ahmad al-Danaf's lodging when he first came to Baghdad.' Quoth she, 'Go and set thy nets for him, and if he have brought back the gear, put a cheat on him and take it from him.' So I went round about the highways of the city, till I met a sweetmeat-seller and buying his clothes and stock-in-trade and gear for ten dinars, did what was done." Thereupon quoth Ali, "Go back to thy grandmother and Zurayk, and tell them that I have brought the gear and the Jew's head and tell them to meet me to-morrow at the Caliph's Divan, there to receive Zaynab's dowry." And Calamity Ahmad rejoiced in this and said, "We have not wasted our pains in rearing thee, O Ali!" Next morning Ali took the dress, the charger, the rod and the chains of gold, together with the head of Azariah the Jew mounted on a pike, and went up, accompanied by Ahmad al-Danaf and the Forty, to the Divan, where they kissed ground before the Caliph—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Seven Hundred and Nineteenth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Ali the Cairene went up to the Caliph's Divan, accompanied by his uncle Ahmad al-Danaf and his lads they kissed ground before the Caliph who turned and seeing a youth of the most valiant aspect, enquired of Calamity Ahmad concerning him and he replied, "O Commander of the Faithful, this is Mercury Ali the Egyptian captain of the brave boys of Cairo, and he is the first of my lads." And the Caliph loved him for the valour that shone from between his eyes, testifying for him and not against him. Then Ali rose; and, casting the Jew's head down before him, said, "May thine every enemy be like this one, O Prince of True Believers!" Quoth Al-Rashid, "Whose head is this?"; and quoth Ali, "'Tis the head of Azariah the Jew." "Who slew him?" asked the Caliph. So Ali related to him all that had passed, from first to last, and the Caliph said, "I had not thought thou wouldst kill him, for that he was a sorcerer." Ali replied, "O Commander of the Faithful, my Lord made me prevail to his slaughter." Then the Caliph sent the Chief of Police to the Jew's palace, where he found him lying headless; so he laid the body on a bier,[FN#259] and carried it to Al-Rashid, who commanded to burn it. Whereat, behold, up came Kamar and kissing the ground before the Caliph, informed him that she was the daughter of Jew Azariah and that she had become a Moslemah. Then she renewed her profession of Faith before the Commander of the Faithful and said to him "Be thou my intercessor with Sharper Ali that he take me to wife." She also appointed him her guardian to consent to her marriage with the Cairene, to whom he gave the Jew's palace and all its contents, saying, "Ask a boon of me." Quoth Ali, "I beg of thee to let me stand on thy carpet and eat of thy table;" and quoth the Caliph, "O Ali, hast thou any lads?" He replied, "I have forty lads; but they are in Cairo." Rejoined the Caliph, "Send to Cairo and fetch them hither," presently adding, "But, O Ali, hast thou a barrack for them?" "No," answered Ali; and Hasan Shuman said, "I make him a present of my barrack with all that is therein, O Commander of the Faithful." However, the Caliph retorted, saying, "Thy lodging is thine own, O Hasan;" and he bade his treasurer give the court architect ten thousand dinars, that he might build Ali a hall with four daises and forty sleeping-closets for his lads. Then said he, "O Ali, hast thou any further wish, that we may command its fulfilment?". and said Ali, "O King of the age, be thou my intercessor with Dalilah the Wily that she give me her daughter Zaynab to wife and take the dress and gear of Azariah's girl in lieu of dower." Dalilah accepted the Caliph's intercession and accepted the charger and dress and what not, and they drew up the marriage contracts between Ali and Zaynab and Kamar, the Jew's daughter and the broker's daughter and the handmaid. Moreover, the Caliph assigned him a solde with a table morning and evening, and stipends and allowances for fodder; all of the most liberal. Then Ali the Cairene fell to making ready for the wedding festivities and, after thirty days, he sent a letter to his comrades in Cairo, wherein he gave them to know of the favours and honours which the Caliph had bestowed upon him and said, "I have married four maidens and needs must ye come to the wedding." So, after a reasonable time the forty lads arrived and they held high festival; he homed them in his barrack and entreated them with the utmost regard and presented them to the Caliph, who bestowed on them robes of honour and largesse. Then the tiring-women displayed Zaynab before Ali in the dress of the Jew's daughter, and he went in unto her and found her a pearl unthridden and a filly by all save himself unridden. Then he went in unto the three other maidens and found them accomplished in beauty and loveliness. After this it befel that Ali of Cairo was one night on guard by the Caliph who said to him, "I wish thee O Ali, to tell me all that hath befallen thee from first to last with Dalilah the Wily and Zaynab the Coney-catcher and Zurayk the Fishmonger." So Ali related to him all his adventures and the Commander of the Faithful bade record them and lay them up in the royal muniment-rooms. So they wrote down all that had befallen him and kept it in store with other histories for the people of Mohammed the Best of Men. And Ali and his wives and comrades abode in all solace of life, and its joyance, till there came to them the Destroyer of Delights and Sunderer of Societies; and Allah (be He extolled and exalted!) is All- knowing![FN#260] And also men relate the tale of


There was once in the city of Shiraz a mighty King called Sayf al-A'azam Shah, who had grown old, without being blessed with a son. So he summoned the physicists and physicians and said to them, "I am now in years and ye know my case and the state of the kingdom and its ordinance; and I fear for my subjects after me; for that up to this present I have not been vouchsafed a son." Thereupon they replied, "We will compound thee a somewhat of drugs wherein shall be efficacy, if it please Almighty Allah!" So they mixed him drugs, which he used and knew his wife carnally, and she conceived by leave of the Most High Lord, who saith to a thing, "Be," and it becometh. When her months were accomplished, she gave birth to a male child like the moon, whom his father named Ardashir,[FN#262] and he grew up and throve and applied himself to the study of learning and letters, till he attained the age of fifteen. Now there was in Al-Irak a King called Abd al-Kadir who had a daughter, by name Hayat al-Nufus, and she was like the rising full moon, but she had an hatred for men and the folk very hardly dared name mankind in her presence. The Kings of the Chosroes had sought her in marriage of her sire; but, when he spoke with her thereof, she said, "Never will I do this; and if thou force me thereto, I will slay myself." Now Prince Ardashir heard of her fame and fell in love with her and told his father who, seeing his case, took pity on him and promised him day by day that he should marry her. So he despatched his Wazir to demand her in wedlock, but King Abd al-Kadir refused, and when the Minister returned to King Sayf al-A'azam and acquainted him with what had befallen his mission and the failure thereof, he was wroth with exceeding wrath and cried, "Shall the like of me send to one of the Kings on a requisition and he accomplish it not?" Then he bade a herald make proclamation to his troops, bidding them bring out the tents and equip them for war with all diligence, though they should borrow money for the necessary expenses; and he said, "I will on no wise turn back, till I have laid waste King Abd al-Kadir's dominions and slain his men and plundered his treasures and blotted out his traces!" When the report of this reached Ardashir he rose from his carpet-bed, and going in to his father, kissed ground[FN#263] between his hands and said, "O mighty King, trouble not thyself with aught of this thing"—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Seven Hundred and Twentieth Night,

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when report of this reached the Prince he went in to his sire the King and, kissing ground between his hands, said, "O mighty King, trouble not thy soul with aught of this thing and levy not thy champions and armies neither spend thy monies. Thou art stronger than he, and if thou loose upon him this thy host, thou wilt lay waste his cities and dominions and spoil his good and slay his strong men and himself; but when his daughter shall come to know what hath befallen her father and his people by reason of her, she will slay herself, and I shall die on her account; for I can never live after her; no, never." Asked the King, "And what then thinkest thou to do, O my son?" and the Prince answered, "I will don a merchant's habit and cast about how I may win to the Princess and compass my desire of her." Quoth Sayf al-A'azam, "Art thou determined upon this?"; and quoth the Prince, "Yes, O my sire;" whereupon the King called to his Wazir, and said to him, "Do thou journey with my son, the core of my heart, and help him to win his will and watch over him and guide him with thy sound judgment, for thou standest to him even in my stead." "I hear and obey," answered the Minister; and the King gave his son three hundred thousand dinars in gold and great store of jewels and precious stones and goldsmiths' ware and stuffs and other things of price. Then Prince Ardashir went in to his mother and kissed her hands and asked her blessing. She blessed him and, forthright opening her treasures, brought out to him necklaces and trinkets and apparel and all manner of other costly objects hoarded up from the time of the bygone Kings, whose price might not be evened with coin. Moreover, he took with him of his Mamelukes and negro-slaves and cattle all that he needed for the road and clad himself and the Wazir and their company in traders' gear. Then he farewelled his parents and kinsfolk and friends; and, setting out, fared on over wolds and wastes all hours of the day and watches of the night; and whenas the way was longsome upon him he improvised these couplets,

"My longing bred of love with mine unease for ever grows; * Nor against all the wrongs of time one succourer arose: When Pleiads and the Fishes show in sky the rise I watch, * As worshipper within whose breast a pious burning glows: For Star o' Morn I speer until at last when it is seen, * I'm madded with my passion and my fancy's woes and throes: I swear by you that never from your love have I been loosed; * Naught am I save a watcher who of slumber nothing knows! Though hard appear my hope to win, though languor aye increase, * And after thee my patience fails and ne'er a helper shows; Yet will I wait till Allah shall be pleased to join our loves; * I'll mortify the jealous and I'll mock me of my foes."

When he ended his verse he swooned away and the Wazir sprinkled rose-water on him, till the Prince came to himself, when the Minister said to him, "O King's son, possess thy soul in patience; for the consequence of patience is consolation, and behold, thou art on the way to whatso thou wishest." And he ceased not to bespeak him fair and comfort him till his trouble subsided; and they continued their journey with all diligence. Presently, the Prince again became impatient of the length of the way and bethought him of his beloved and recited these couplets,

"Longsome is absence, restlessness increaseth and despite; * And burn my vitals in the blaze my love and longings light: Grows my hair gray from pains and pangs which I am doomed bear * For pine, while tear-floods stream from eyes and sore offend my sight: I swear, O Hope of me, O End of every wish and will, * By Him who made mankind and every branch with leafage dight, A passion-load for thee, O my Desire, I must endure, * And boast I that to bear such load no lover hath the might. Question the Night of me and Night thy soul shall satisfy * Mine eyelids never close in sleep throughout the livelong night."

Then he wept with sore weeping and 'plained of that he suffered for stress of love-longing; but the Wazir comforted him and spoke him fair, promising him the winning of his wish; after which they fared on again for a few days, when they drew near to the White City, the capital of King Abd al-Kadir, soon after sunrise. Then said the Minister to the Prince, "Rejoice, O King's son, in all good; for see, yonder is the White City, that which thou seekest." Whereat the Prince rejoiced with exceeding joy and recited these couplets,

"My friends, I yearn in heart distraught for him; * Longing abides and with sore pains I brim: I mourn like childless mother, nor can find * One to console me when the light grows dim; Yet when the breezes blow from off thy land, * I feel their freshness shed on heart and limb; And rail mine eyes like water-laden clouds, * While in a tear-sea shed by heart I swim."

Now when they entered the White City they asked for the Merchants' Khan, a place of moneyed men; and when shown the hostelry they hired three magazines and on receiving the keys[FN#264] they laid up therein all their goods and gear. They abode in the Khan till they were rested, when the Wazir applied himself to devise a device for the Prince,—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Seven Hundred and Twenty-first Night,

She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Prince and the Minister alighted at the Khan and lodged their goods in the ground-floor magazines and there settled their servants. Then they tarried awhile till they had rested, when the Wazir arose and applied himself to devise a device for the Prince, and said to him, "I have bethought me of somewhat wherein, methinks, will be success for thee, so it please Almighty Allah." Quoth Ardashir, "O thou Wazir of good counsel, do what cometh to thy mind, and may the Lord direct thy rede aright!" Quoth the Minister, "I purpose to hire thee a shop in the market-street of the stuff-sellers and set thee therein; for that all, great and small, have recourse to the bazar and, meseems, when the folk see thee with their own eyes sitting in the shop their hearts will incline to thee and thou wilt thus be enabled to attain thy desire, for thou art fair of favour and souls incline to thee and sight rejoiceth in thee." The other replied, "Do what seemeth good to thee." So the Wazir forthright began to robe the Prince and himself in their richest raiment and, putting a purse of a thousand dinars in his breast-pocket, went forth and walked about the city, whilst all who looked upon them marvelled at the beauty of the King's son, saying, "Glory be to Him who created this youth 'of vile water[FN#265]'! Blessed be Allah excellentest of Creators!" Great was the talk anent him and some said, "This is no mortal, 'this is naught save a noble angel'";[FN#266] and others, "Hath Rizwan, the door-keeper of the Eden-garden, left the gate of Paradise unguarded, that this youth hath come forth." The people followed them to the stuff- market, where they entered and stood, till there came up to them an old man of dignified presence and venerable appearance, who saluted them, and they returned his salam. Then the Shaykh said to them, "O my lords, have ye any need, that we may have the honour of accomplishing?"; and the Wazir asked him, "Who art thou, O elder?" He answered, "I am the Overseer of the market." Quoth the Wazir, "Know then, O Shaykh, that this youth is my son and I wish to hire him a shop in the bazar, that he may sit therein and learn to sell and buy and take and give, and come to ken merchants' ways and habits." "I hear and I obey," replied the Overseer and brought them without stay or delay the key of a shop, which he caused the brokers sweep and clean. And they did his bidding. Then the Wazir sent for a high mattress, stuffed with ostrich-down, and set it up in the shop, spreading upon it a small prayer-carpet, and a cushion fringed with broidery of red gold. Moreover he brought pillows and transported thither so much of the goods and stuffs that he had brought with him as filled the shop. Next morning the young Prince came and opening the shop, seated himself on the divan, and stationed two Mamelukes, clad in the richest of raiment before him and two black slaves of the goodliest of the Abyssinians in the lower part of the shop. The Wazir enjoined him to keep his secret from the folk, so thereby he might find aid in the winning of his wishes; then he left him and charging him to acquaint him with what befel him in the shop, day by day returned to the Khan. The Prince sat in the shop till night as he were the moon at its fullest, whilst the folk, hearing tell of his comeliness, flocked to the place, without errand, to gaze on his beauty and loveliness and symmetry and perfect grace and glorify the Almighty who created and shaped him, till none could pass through that bazar for the excessive crowding of the folk about him. The King's son turned right and left, abashed at the throng of people that stared at him, hoping to make acquaintance with some one about the court, of whom he might get news of the Princess; but he found no way to this, wherefore his breast was straitened. Meanwhile, the Wazir daily promised him the attainment of his desire and the case so continued for a time till, one morning, as the youth sat in the shop, there came up an old woman of respectable semblance and dignified presence clad in raiment of devotees[FN#267] and followed by two slave-girls like moons. She stopped before the shop and, having considered the Prince awhile, cried, "Glory be to God who fashioned that face and perfected that figure!" Then she saluted him and he returned her salam and seated her by his side. Quoth she, "Whence cometh thou, O fair of favour?"; and quoth he, "From the parts of Hind, O my mother; and I have come to this city to see the world and look about me." "Honour to thee for a visitor! What goods and stuffs hast thou? Show me something handsome, fit for Kings." "If thou wish for handsome stuffs, I will show them to thee; for I have wares that beseem persons of every condition." "O my son, I want somewhat costly of price and seemly to sight; brief, the best thou hast." "Thou must needs tell me for whom thou seekest it, that I may show thee goods according to the rank of the requiter." "Thou speakest sooth, O my son," said she. "I want somewhat for my mistress, Hayat al-Nufus, daughter of Abd al-Kadir, lord of this land and King of this country." Now when Ardashir heard his mistress's name, his reason flew for joy and his heart fluttered and he gave no order to slave or servant, but, putting his hand behind him, pulled out a purse of an hundred dinars and offered it to the old woman, saying, "This is for the washing of thy clothes." Then he again put forth his hand and brought out of a wrapper a dress worth ten thousand dinars or more and said to her, "This is of that which I have brought to your country." When the old woman saw it, it pleased her and she asked, "What is the price of this dress, O perfect in qualities?" Answered he, "I will take no price for it!" whereupon she thanked him and repeated her question; but he said, "By Allah, I will take no price for it. I make thee a present of it, an the Princess will not accept it and 'tis a guest-gift from me to thee. Alham- dolillah—Glory be to God—who hath brought us together, so that, if one day I have a want, I shall find in thee a helper to me in winning it!" She marvelled at the goodliness of his speech and the excess of his generosity and the perfection of his courtesy and said to him, "What is thy name, O my lord?" He replied, "My name is Ardashir;" and she cried, "By Allah this is a rare name! Therewith are Kings' sons named, and thou art in a guise of the sons of the merchants!" Quoth he, "Of the love my father bore me, he gave me this name, but a name signifieth naught;" and quoth she in wonder, "O my son, take the price of thy goods." But he swore that he would not take aught. Then the old lady said to him, "O my dear one, Truth (I would have thee know) is the greatest of all things and thou hadst not dealt thus generously by me but for a special reason: so tell me thy case and thy secret thought; belike thou hast some wish to whose winning I may help thee." Thereupon he laid his hand in hers and, after exacting an oath of secrecy, told her the whole story of his passion for the Princess and his condition by reason thereof. The old woman shook her head and said, "True; but O my son, the wise say, in the current adage, 'An thou wouldest be obeyed, abstain from ordering what may not be made'; and thou, my son, thy name is Merchant, and though thou hadst the keys of the Hidden Hoards, yet wouldst thou be called naught but Merchant. An thou wouldst rise to high rank, according to thy station, then seek the hand of a Kazi's daughter or even an Emir's; but why, O my son, aspirest thou to none but the daughter of the King of the age and the time, and she a clean maid, who knoweth nothing of the things of the world and hath never in her life seen anything but her palace wherein she dwelleth? Yet, for all her tender age, she is intelligent, shrewd, vivacious, penetrating, quick of wit, sharp of act and rare of rede: her father hath no other child and she is dearer to him than his life and soul. Every morning he cometh to her and giveth her good-morrow, and all who dwell in the palace stand in dread of her. Think not, O my son, that any dare bespeak her with aught of these words; nor is there any way for me thereto. By Allah, O my son, my heart and vitals love thee and were it in my power to give thee access to her, I would assuredly do it; but I will tell thee somewhat, wherein Allah may haply appoint the healing of thy heart, and will risk life and goods for thee, till I win thy will for thee." He asked, "And what is that, O my mother?" and she answered, "Seek of me the daughter of a Wazir or an Emir, and I will grant thy request; but it may not be that one should mount from earth to heaven at one bound." When the Prince heard this, he replied to her with courtesy and sense, "O my mother, thou art a woman of wit and knowest how things go. Say me doth a man, when his head irketh him, bind up his hand?" Quoth she, "No, by Allah, O my son"; and quoth he, "Even so my heart seeketh none but her and naught slayeth me but love of her. By Allah, I am a dead man, and I find not one to counsel me aright and succour me! Allah upon thee, O my mother, take pity on my strangerhood and the streaming of my tears!"—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Seven Hundred and Twenty-second Night,

She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Ardashir, the King's son said to the old woman, "Allah upon thee, O my mother, take pity on my strangerhood and the streaming of my tears." Replied she, "By Allah, O my son, thy words rend my heart, but my hand hath no cunning wherewith to help thee." Quoth he, "I beseech thee of thy favour, carry her a letter and kiss her hands for me." So she had compassion on him and said, "Write what thou wilt and I will bear it to her." When he heard this, he was ready to fly for joy and calling for ink-case and paper, wrote these couplets,

"O Hayat al-Nufus, be gen'rous, and incline * To one who loving thee for parting's doomed to pine. I was in all delight, in gladsomest of life, * But now I am distraught with sufferings condign. To wakefulness I cling through longsomeness of night * And with me sorrow chats[FN#268] through each sad eye of mine; Pity a lover sad, a sore afflicted wretch, * Whose eyelids ever ulcered are with tearful brine; And when the morning comes at last, the real morn, * He finds him drunken and distraught with passion's wine."

Then he folded the scroll and kissing it, gave it to the old woman; after which he put his hand to a chest and took out a second purse containing an hundred dinars, which he presented to her, saying, "Divide this among the slave-girls." She refused it and cried, "By Allah, O my son, I am not with thee for aught of this!"; however, he thanked her and answered, "There is no help but that thou accept of it." So she took it and kissing his hands, returned home; and going in to the Princess, cried, "O my lady, I have brought thee somewhat the like whereof is not with the people of our city, and it cometh from a handsome young man, than whom there is not a goodlier on earth's face!" She asked "O my nurse, and whence cometh the youth?" and the old woman answered, "From the parts of Hind; and he hath given me this dress of gold brocade, embroidered with pearls and gems and worth the Kingdom of Chosroes and Caesar." Thereupon she opened the dress and the whole palace was illuminated by its brightness, because of the beauty of its fashion and the wealth of unions and jewels wherewith it was broidered, and all who were present marvelled at it. The Princess examined it and, judging it to be worth no less than a whole year's revenue of her father's kingdom, said to the old woman, "O my nurse, cometh this dress from him or from another?"[FN#269] Replied she, "From him;" and Hayat al-Nufus asked, "Is this trader of our town or a stranger?" The old woman answered, "He is a foreigner, O my lady, newly come hither; and by Allah he hath servants and slaves; and he is fair of face, symmetrical of form, well mannered, open-handed and open-hearted, never saw I a goodlier than he, save thyself." The King's daughter rejoined, "Indeed this is an extraordinary thing, that a dress like this, which money cannot buy, should be in the hands of a merchant! What price did he set on it, O my nurse?" Quoth she, "By Allah, he would set no price on it, but gave me back the money thou sentest by me and swore that he would take naught thereof, saying, ''Tis a gift from me to the King's daughter; for it beseemeth none but her; and if she will not accept it, I make thee a present of it.'" Cried the Princess, "By Allah, this is indeed marvellous generosity and wondrous munificence! But I fear the issue of his affair, lest haply[FN#270] he be brought to necessity. Why didst thou not ask him, O my nurse, if he had any desire, that we might fulfil it for him?" The nurse replied, "O my lady, I did ask him, and he said to me, 'I have indeed a desire'; but he would not tell me what it was. However, he gave me this letter and said, 'Carry it to the Princess.'" So Hayat al-Nufus took the letter and opened and read it to the end; whereupon she was sore chafed; and lost temper and changing colour for anger she cried out to the old woman, saying, "Woe to thee, O nurse! What is the name of this dog who durst write this language to a King's daughter? What affinity is there between me and this hound that he should address me thus? By Almighty Allah, Lord of the well Zemzem and of the Hatim Wall,[FN#271] but that I fear the Omnipotent, the Most High, I would send and bind the cur's hands behind him and slit his nostrils, and shear off his nose and ears and after, by way of example, crucify him on the gate of the bazar wherein is his booth!" When the old woman heard these words, she waxed yellow; her side-muscles[FN#272] quivered and her tongue clave to her mouth; but she heartened her heart and said, "Softly, O my lady! What is there in his letter to trouble thee thus? Is it aught but a memorial containing his complaint to thee of poverty or oppression, from which he hopeth to be relieved by thy favour?" Replied she, "No, by Allah, O my nurse, 'tis naught of this; but verses and shameful words! However, O my nurse, this dog must be in one of three cases: either he is Jinn-mad, and hath no wit, or he seeketh his own slaughter, or else he is assisted to his wish of me by some one of exceeding puissance and a mighty Sultan. Or hath he heard that I am one of the baggages of the city, who lie a night or two with whosoever seeketh them, that he writeth me immodest verses to debauch my reason by talking of such matters?" Rejoined the old woman, "By Allah, O my lady, thou sayst sooth! But reck not thou of yonder ignorant hound, for thou art seated in thy lofty, firm-builded and unapproachable palace, to which the very birds cannot soar neither the wind pass over it, and as for him, he is clean distraught. Wherefore do thou write him a letter and chide him angrily and spare him no manner of reproof, but threaten him with dreadful threats and menace him with death and say to him, 'Whence hast thou knowledge of me, that thou durst write me, O dog of a merchant, O thou who trudgest far and wide all thy days in wilds and wolds for the sake of gaining a dirham or a dinar? By Allah, except thou awake from thy sleep and put off thine intoxication, I will assuredly crucify thee on the gate of the market-street wherein is thy shop!'" Quoth the Princess, "I fear lest he presume, if I write to him"; and quoth the nurse, "And pray what is he and what is his rank that he should presume to us? Indeed, we write him but to the intent that his presumption may be cut off and his fear magnified." And she ceased not craftily to persuade her, till she called for ink-case and paper and wrote him these couplets,

"O thou who claimest to be prey of love and ecstasy; * Thou, who for passion spendest nights in grief and saddest gree: Say, dost thou (haughty one!) desire enjoyment of the moon? * Did man e'er sue the moon for grace whate'er his lunacy? I verily will counsel thee with rede the best to hear: * Cut short this course ere come thou nigh sore risk, nay death, to dree! If thou to this request return, surely on thee shall fall * Sore punishment, for vile offence a grievous penalty. Be reasonable then, be wise, hark back unto thy wits; * Behold, in very truth I speak with best advice to thee: By Him who did all things that be create from nothingness; * Who dressed the face of heaven with stars in brightest radiancy: If in the like of this thy speech thou dare to sin again! * I'll surely have thee crucified upon a trunk of tree."

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