STORY OF HIS FIRST
"Know, 0 Prince of the Faithful, that the
first (who was named El-Bakbuk) was the lame one. He practiced the art of a
tailor in Baghdad, and used to sew in a shop which he hired of a man possessing
great wealth, who
lived over the shop, and who had, in the
lower part of his house, a mill.
As my brother was
sitting in his shop one day, sewing, he raised his head, and saw a woman like
the rising full moon, at a
projecting window of the house, looking at the people passing by; as soon as he
beheld the radiant
beauty of her face he became
entangled with desire.
He passed that day steeling gazes at the window wishing her to reappear
while neglecting his profession. The following
morning he opened his shop, and
sat down to sew; but everytime that he sewed a stitch, he looked towards the
window; and in this state he continued, sewing nothing sufficient to earn a
piece of silver.
third day he seated himself again in his place, looking towards the woman; and
she saw him, and, perceiving that he had become
entangled with desire,
laughed in his face, and he, in like manner, laughed in her face.
then disappeared from before him, and sent to him her
slave girl, with a wrapper
containing a piece of red flowered silk; and the girl, coming
to him, said to him, 'My mistress saluteth thee, and
desireth thee to cut out for her,
with the hand of skill, a shirt of this
piece, and to sew it beautifully.'
So he answered, 'I hear and obey' and he cut out for her
the shirt, and finished the sewing of it on that
day; and on the following day the
slave girl came to him again,
and said to him, 'My mistress saluteth thee, and saith to thee, How didst thou
pass last night? for she tasted not
sleep, from her passion for thee.'
She then placed before him a piece of yellow satin, and said to him,
'My mistress desireth thee to cut
out for her, of this piece, two pairs of trousers, and to make them this day.'
He replied, 'I
hear and obey. Salute her with
abundant salutations, and say to her, thy slave is submissive to thine order, and
command him to do whatsoever thou
He then busied himself with the cutting out, and used all
diligence in sewing the two pairs of trousers; and presently the woman looked
out at him from the window, and saluted him by a sign, now casting down her
eyes, and now smiling in his face, so that he
imagined he should soon obtain
possession of her.
After this, she
disappeared from before him, and the
slave girl came to him; so he
delivered to her the two pairs of trousers, and she took them and departed: and
when the night came, he threw himself upon
his bed, and remained turning himself over in restlessness until the
following day, the master of
the house came to my brother, bringing some linen, and said to him, 'Cut out
and make this into shirts for me.'
He replied, 'I
hear and obey', and ceased not from
his work until he had cut out twenty shirts by the time of
without having tasted food.
The man then said to him, 'How much is thy hire for this?', but my
brother answered not; and the woman
made a sign to him that he should receive nothing, though he was absolutely in
want of a single copper
For three days he continued Now the
young woman had acquainted her husband with the state of my
brother's mind, but my brother
knew not this; and she planned with her
husband to employ him in sewing without remuneration, and moreover to
amuse themselves by laughing at him: so, when he had finished all the work that
they gave him, they contrived a plot
against him, and married him to their
slave girl; and on the
night when he desired to introduce himself
to her, they said to him, 'Pass this night
in the mill, and tomorrow thou shalt enjoy happiness.'
scarcely eating or
in his diligence to accomplish his work,
and when he
had finished it, he went to deliver the shirts.
therefore, thinking that their intention was good, passed the
night in the mill alone.
the husband of the young woman went to the miller, and instigated him by signs
to make my brother turn the mill.
The miller, accordingly, went in to
him at midnight, and began to exclaim,
'Verily this bull is lazy, while there is a
great quantity of wheat, and the owners of the flour are demanding it: I will
therefore yoke him in the mill, that he
may finish the grinding of the flour', and so saying, he yoked my brother, and
thus he kept him until near morning, then the owner of the
house came, and saw him yoked in the mill, and the miller flogging him with the
whip; and he left him, and retired.
After this, the
slave girl to whom he had been
contracted in marriage came to him early in the
morning, and, having unbound
him from the mill, said to him, 'Both I and my mistress have been
distressed by this
which hath befallen thee, and we have participated in the burden of thy
But he had no
tongue wherewith to answer her, by
reason of the severity of the
He then returned to his house; and lo, the sheykh who was
to seal the marriage contract came and saluted him, saying, 'May God prolong
thy life! May thy marriage be blessed! May God not preserve the
brother: 'thou thousandfold villain! By Allah, I
went only to turn the mill in the place of the bull until the
'Tell me thy
story', said the sheykh, and my
brother told him what had happened to him: upon which the sheykh said, 'Thy
star agreeth not with hers: but if thou desire that I should change for thee
the mode of the contract, will change
it for another better than it, that thy star may agree with hers.'
then,' replied my brother, 'if thou hast any other contrivance to employ.'
My brother then left him, and
repaired again to his shop, hoping that somebody might give him some work, with
the profit of which he might obtain his food; and lo, the
slave girl came to
She had conspired with her mistress to
play him this trick, and said to him,
'Verily, my mistress is longing for thee, and she hath gone up to look at thy
face from the window.'
And my brother had scarcely heard these words
when she looked out at him from the window, and, weeping, said, 'Wherefore hast
thou cut short the intercourse between us and thee?'
He returned her no
answer: so she swore to him that all
that had happened to him in the mill was not with her consent: and when my
brother beheld her beauty and loveliness,
the troubles that had befallen him became effaced from his
memory, and he accepted her
excuse, and rejoiced at the sight of her.
He saluted her, therefore, and conversed with her, and then sat a while
at his work; after which the slave girl came to him, and said,
'My mistress saluteth thee, and informeth thee that her husband hath determined
to pass this next night in the house of one
of his intimate friends; wherefore, when he hath gone thither, do thou come to
Now the husband of the young woman had said to her, 'How shall we
contrive when he cometh to thee that I may take him and drag him before the
She replied, 'Let me then
play him a trick, and involve him in a
disgrace for which he shall be paraded
throughout this city
as an example to others,' and my brother knew nothing of the craftiness of
Accordingly, at the approach of evening, the
slave girl came to him, and,
taking him by the hand, returned with him to her mistress, who said to him,
'Verily, 0 my master, I have
been longing for thee.'
'Hasten then,' said he, 'to give me a kiss,
first of all.'
His words were not finished when the young
woman's husband came in from his
neighbor's house, and, seizing my brother, exclaimed to him, 'By
Allah, I will not loose thee but in the
presence of the chief
magistrate of the police.'
brother humbled himself before him; but, without listening to him, he took him to
the house of the Wali, who flogged him
with whips, and mounted him on a camel, and conveyed him through the
streets of the city,
the people crying out, 'This is the recompense of him who breaketh into the
harims of others!' and he fell from the camel, and his leg broke: so he became
The Wali then banished him from the
city; and he went
forth, not knowing whither to turn his steps: but I, though enraged, overtook
him, and brought him back; and I have taken upon myself to provide him with
meat and drink unto this present day."
THE STORY OF THE
HUSBAND AND THE PARROT
There was a certain merchant, of an exceedingly
jealous disposition, having a whole
endowed with perfect beauty, who had prevented him from leaving
his home; but an event happened which obliged
him to make a journey; and when he
found his doing so to be indispensable, he went to the market in which birds
were sold, and bought a parrot, which he placed in his house to act as a spy,
that, on his return, she might inform him of what passed during his absence;
for this parrot was cunning and intelligent, and
remembered whatever she heard.
So, when he had made his journey, and accomplished his
business, he returned, and caused the parrot to be brought to him, and asked
her regarding the conduct of his wife.
answered, 'Thy whole has a lover, who
visited her every night during thy
absence,' and when the man heard this, he fell into a violent
rage, and went to his whole, and
gave her a severe beating.
The woman imagined that one of the
slaves had informed him of
what had passed between her and her paramour during his absence: she therefore
called them together, and made them swear; and they all swore that they had not
told their master anything of
the matter; but confessed that they had heard the parrot relate to him what
Having thus established, on the testimony of the
fact of the parrot's having informed her
husband of her intrigue, she ordered one of these
slaves to grind with a hand
mill under the cage, another to sprinkle water from above, and a third to move
a mirror from side to side,
during the next night on which her husband
On the following morning, when the man returned
from an entertainment
at which he had been present, and inquired again of the parrot what had passed
that night during his absence, the bird
answered, '0 my
master, I could neither
hear anything, on account of the
excessive darkness, and thunder, and
lightning, and rain.'
happened during summer: so he said to her, 'What strange
words are these? It is now summer, when
nothing of what thou hast described ever happens.'
The parrot, however,
swore by Allah the Great that what she had
said was true; and that it had so happened: upon which the man, not
understanding the case, nor knowing
the plot, became violently
enraged, and took out the bird from the
cage, and threw her down upon the ground
with such violence that he killed her.
After some days, one of his
slaves informed him of the
truth; yet he would not believe it, until he saw his wife's paramour going out
from his house; when he drew his sword, and
slew the traitor by a
blow on the back of his neck: so also
did he to his treacherous whole; and thus both of them went, laden with the sin
which they had committed, to the fire; and the merchant
discovered that the parrot
had informed him truly of what she had seen; and he mourned grievously for her
a The Thousand and One Nights, Persian
origin, re-written in Arabic
Aladdin and the Wonderful
LampAladdin was a street urchin whose lazy ways were the
of his father and the despair of his mother. One day an evil magician gave him
a magic ring and attempted to deceive him into retrieving a magical lamp, but
Aladdin foiled his trick, saved his own skin, and emerged with the lamp to
boot, along with some jewels which he initially thought were fruit. When his
mother polished the lamp, a genie emerged. Aladdin asked him for food, which
the genie delivered instantly on silver plates. Used to living from hand to
mouth, Aladdin sold the plates one by one as they needed money, and thus they
lived for several years.
One day Aladdin caught a glimpse of the
princess and set his mother to ask for her hand. She took some of the
jewel-fruits with her, and when the sultan saw them all a-glitter, he was
inclined to agree, but his vizier, who wanted to give his own son a chance to
compete, suggested a delay. The king told Aladdin's mother to come back in
three months, but then, two months later, an announcement was made of the
princess's marriage to the vizier's son. Thereupon, Aladdin called upon his
genie to whisk away the wedding bed--bride, groom and all. The genie did that
for three nights, returning it each morning, and the frightful trips convinced
the groom to relinquish his hold on the princess.
The sultan demanded a
high price which Aladdin was able to deliver with help from the genie, who
carried him to court amidst great riches and built a grand house for the
princess. Aladdin prospered, but--alas!-- his elaborate display caught the
attention of the evil magician again.
While Aladdin was away from
home, the magician disguised himself and walked
by Aladdin's palace calling, "New
lamps for old," and the princess willingly traded away Aladdin's old lamp. That
night the magician used it to carry the palace, princess and all to Africa. Next
day Aladdin was taken to the sultan and told to find the princess or lose his
head. After three days of searching, he accidentally rubbed his magic ring,
calling a genie who took him to Africa to the hideaway.
devised a plot to poison the magician, then they stole back the lamp and
returned home, where her father celebrated
their return with feasting for ten days.
Unfortunately that happy
ending was not to be.
The genie's brother was more wicked than he! He
went to China, killed a pious woman, Fatima, and disguised himself in her
attire. He went to the palace where
the people greeted him like Fatima, begging to be healed. The princess saw all
this and sent for Fatima to come and cure her own ailments. It was then that
the false Fatima told her that her beautiful
palace lacked for one thing: a roc's
egg hanging from the dome. When she asked Aladdin for one, he rubbed his lamp.
The genie emerged, but called Aladdin a wretch for requesting his "master" be
hanged in the midst of the palace,
noting that such a request must have been a trick by the magician's evil
brother. He then told Aladdin the brother was disguised as a holy woman, so
Aladdin asked that Fatima be called to ease his headache, and when "she"
arrived, he pierced her heart with his
After this, Aladdin and the princess lived in happiness to
the end of their days.
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