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THE BARBER'S STORY OF HIS FIRST BROTHER


"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.

On the 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.

She 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 wilt.'

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 morning.

On 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 nightfall, 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 coin.



temptation eyes

For three days he continued
scarcely eating or drinking anything,
in his diligence to accomplish his work,
and when he had finished it, he went to deliver the shirts.

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.'

My brother, therefore, thinking that their intention was good, passed the night in the mill alone.

Meanwhile, 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 sorrow.'

But he had no tongue wherewith to answer her, by reason of the severity of the flogging.

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 liar!'

Returned my brother: 'thou thousandfold villain! By Allah, I went only to turn the mill in the place of the bull until the morning.'

'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.'

'See 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 him.

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 her.'

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 Wali?'

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 psychopathic women.

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.'

My 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 lame.

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."




veiled

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.

She 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 female 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 had passed.

Having thus established, on the testimony of the slaves, 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 was absent.

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 see nor hear anything, on account of the excessive darkness, and thunder, and lightning, and rain.'

Now this 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 female 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 loss.



-tales from a The Thousand and One Nights, Persian origin, re-written in Arabic


magic lamp


Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp

Aladdin was a street urchin whose lazy ways were the death 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.

Together they 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 dagger.

After this, Aladdin and the princess lived in happiness to the end of their days.
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