Once upon a time there were two brothers whose father had left them but a small fortune. The eldest grew very rich, but at the same time cruel and wicked, whereas there was nowhere a more honest or kinder man than the younger. But he remained poor, and had many children, so that at times they could scarcely get bread to eat. At last, one day there was not even this in the house, so he went to his rich brother and asked him for a loaf of bread. Waste of time! His rich brother only called him beggar and vagabond, and slammed the door in his face.
The poor fellow, after this brutal reception, did not know which way to turn. Hungry, scantily clad, shivering with cold, his legs could scarcely carry him along. He had not the heart to go home, with nothing for the children, so he went towards the mountain forest. But all he found there were some wild pears that had fallen to the ground. He had to content himself with eating these, though they set his teeth on edge. But what was he to do to warm himself, for the east wind with its chill blast pierced him through and through.
"Where shall I go?" he said; "what will become of us in the cottage? There is neither food nor fire, and my brother has driven me from his door."
It was just then he remembered having heard that the top of the mountain in front of him was made of crystal, and had a fire for ever burning upon it. "I will try and find it," he said, "and then I may be able to warm myself a little."
So he went on climbing higher and higher till he reached the top, when he was startled to see twelve strange beings sitting round a huge fire. He stopped for a moment, but then said to himself, "What have I to lose? Why should I fear? God is with me. Courage!"
So he advanced towards the fire, and bowing respectfully, said: "Good people, take pity on my distress. I am very poor, no one cares for me, I have not even a fire in my cottage; will you let me warm myself at yours?"
They all looked kindly at him, and one of them said: "My son, come sit down with us and warm yourself."
So he sat down, and felt warm directly he was near them. But he dared not speak while they were silent. What astonished him most was that they changed seats one after another, and in such a way that each one passed round the fire and came back to his own place.
When he drew near the fire an old man with long white beard and bald head arose from the flames and spoke to him thus: "Man, waste not thy life here; return to thy cottage, work, and live honestly. Take as many embers as thou wilt, we have more than we need."
And having said this he disappeared. Then the twelve filled a large sack with embers, and, putting it on the poor man's shoulders, advised him to hasten home.
Humbly thanking them, he set off. As he went he wondered why the embers did not feel hot, and why they should weigh no more than a sack of paper. He was thankful that he should be able to have a fire, but imagine his astonishment when on arriving home he found the sack to contain as many gold pieces as there had been embers; he almost went out of his mind with joy at the possession of so much money. With all his heart he thanked those who had been so ready to help him in his need. He was now rich, and rejoiced to be able to provide for his family.
Being curious to find out how many gold pieces there were, and not knowing how to count, he sent his wife to his rich brother for the loan of a quart measure. This time the brother was in a better temper, so he lent what was asked of him, but said mockingly, "What can such beggars as you have to measure?"
The wife replied, "Our neighbour owes us some wheat; we want to be sure he returns us the right quantity."
The rich brother was puzzled, and suspecting something he, unknown to his sister-in-law, put some grease inside the measure. The trick succeeded, for on getting it back he found a piece of gold sticking to it. Filled with astonishment, he could only suppose his brother had joined a band of robbers; so he hurried to his brother's cottage, and threatened to bring him before the Justice of the Peace if he did not confess where the gold came from.
The poor man was troubled, and, dreading to offend his brother, told the story of his journey to the Crystal Mountain.
Now the elder brother had plenty of money for himself, yet he was envious of the brother's good fortune, and be came greatly displeased when he found that his brother won every one's esteem by the good use he made of his wealth.
At last he determined to visit the Crystal Mountain himself. "I may meet with as good luck as my brother," said he to himself.
Upon reaching the Crystal Mountain he found the twelve seated round the fire as before, and thus addressed them: "I beg of you, good people, to let me warm myself, for it is bitterly cold, and I am poor and homeless."
But one of them replied, "My son, the hour of thy birth was favourable; thou art rich, but a miser; thou art wicked, for thou hast dared to lie to us. Well dost thou deserve thy punishment."
Amazed and terrified he stood silent, not daring to speak. Meanwhile the twelve changed places one after another, each at last returning to his own seat.
Then from the midst of the flames arose the white-bearded old man and spoke thus sternly to the rich man: "Woe unto the wilful! Thy brother is virtuous, therefore have I blessed him. As for thee, thou art wicked, and so shall not escape our vengeance."
At these words the twelve arose. The first seized the unfortunate man, struck him, and passed him on to the second; the second also struck him and passed him on to the third; and so did they all in their turn, until he was given up to the old man, who disappeared with him into the fire.
Days, weeks, months went by, but the rich man never returned, and none knew what had become of him. I think, between you and me, the younger brother had his suspicions but he very wisely kept them to himself.
"One time," said Uncle Remus, putting the "noses" of the chunks together with his cane, so as to make a light in his cabin:
Brer Rabbit en ole Brer Wolf wuz gwine down de road terge'er, en Brer Wolf, he 'low dat times wuz mighty hard en money skace. Brer Rabbit, he 'gree 'long wid 'im, he did, dat times wuz mighty tight, en he up en say dat 't wuz in about much ez he kin do fer ter make bofe en's meet.
He 'low, he did: "Brer Wolf, you er gittin' mighty ga'nt, en't won't be so mighty long 'fo' we'll hatten be tuck up en put in de po'-house. Wat make dis?" says Brer Rabbit, sezee: "I be bless ef I kin tell, kaze yer er all de creeturs gittin' ga'nt w'iles all de reptules is a-gittin' seal fat. No longer'n yistiddy, I wuz comin' along throo de woods, w'en who should I meet but ole Brer Snake, en he wuz dat put dat he ain't kin skacely pull he tail 'long atter he head. I 'low ter mese'f, I did, dat dish yer country gittin' in a mighty bad way w'en de creeturs is got ter go 'roun' wid der ribs growin' terge'er w'iles de reptules layin' up in de sun des nat' ally fattenin' on der own laziness. Yessar, dat w'at I 'lowed."
Brer Wolf, he say, he did, dat if de reptules wuz gittin' de 'vantage er de creeturs dat away, dat hit wuz 'bout time fer ter clean out de reptules er leaf de country, en he 'low, fuddermo', dat he wuz ready fur ter jine in wid de patter-rollers en drive um out.
But Brer Rabbit, he 'low, he did, dat de bes' way fer ter git 'long wuz ter fin' out whar'bouts de reptules hed der smoke-'house en go in dar en git some er de vittles w'at by good rights b'long'd ter de creeturs.
Brer Wolf say maybe dis de bes' way, kaze ef de reptules git word dat de patter-rollers is a-comin' dey'll take en hide de ginger-cakes, en der simmon beer, en der w'atzisnames, so dat de creeturs can't git um. By dis time dey come ter de forks er de road, en Brer Rabbit he went one way, en Brer Wolf he went de yuther.
Uncle Remus went on, with increasing gravity:
Whar Brer Wolf went, de goodness knows, but Brer Rabbit, he went on down de road todes he own house, en w'iles he wuz lippitin' long, nibblin' a bite yer en a bite dar, he year a mighty kuse fuss in de woods. He lay low, Brer Rabbit did, en lissen. He look sharp, he did, en bimeby he ketch a glimp' er ole Mr. Black Snake gwine 'long thoo de grass. Brer Rabbit, he lay low en watch 'im. Mr. Black Snake crope 'long, he did, des like he wuz greased.
Brer Rabbit say ter hisse'f: "Hi! dar goes one er de reptules, en ez she slips she slides 'long."
Yit, still he lay low en watch. Mr. Black Snake crope 'long, he did, en bimeby he come whar dey wuz a great big poplar-tree. Brer Rabbit, he crope on his belly en follow 'long atter.
Mr. Black Snake tuck 'n circle all 'roun' de tree, en den he stop en sing out:
En den, mos' 'fo' Brer Rabbit kin wink he eye, a door w'at wuz in de tree flew'd open, en Mr. Black Snake tuck 'n crawl in.
Brer Rabbit 'low, he did: "Ah-yi! Dar whar you stay! Dar whar you keeps yo' simmon beer! Dar whar you hides yo' backbone en spar' ribs. Ah-yi!"
W'en Mr. Black Snake went in de house, Brer Rabbit crope up, he did, en lissen fer ter see w'at he kin year gwine on in dar. But he ain't year nothin'. Bimeby, w'iles he settin' 'roun' dar, he year de same song:
En mos' 'fo' Brer Rabbit kin hide in de weeds, de door hit flew'd open, en out Mr. Black Snake slid. He slid out, he did, en slid off, en atter he git out er sight, Brer Rabbit, he tuck 'n went back ter de poplar-tree fer ter see ef he kin git in dar. He hunt 'roun' en he hunt 'roun', en yit ain't fin' no door.
Den he sat up on he behin' legs, ole Brer Rabbit did, en low: "Hey! w'at kinder contrapshun dish yer? I seed a door dar des now, but dey ain't no door dar now."
Ole Brer Rabbit scratch he head, he did, en bimeby hit come inter he min' dat maybe de song got sump'n 'n'er ter do wid it, en wid dat he chuned up, he did, en sing:
Time he say fus' part, de door sorter open, but w'en he say de las' part hit slammed shet ag'in. Den he chune up some mo':
Time he say de fus' part de door open little ways, but time he say de las' part hit slammed shet ag'in.
Den Brer Rabbit 'low he 'd hang 'roun' dar en fin' out w'at kind er hinges dat er door wuz a-swingin' on. So he stays 'roun' dar, he did, twel bimeby Mr. Black Snake came 'long back. Brer Rabbit crope up, he did, en he year 'im sing de song:
Den de door open, en Mr. Black Snake, he slid in, en Brer Rabbit, he lipped off in de bushes en sung de song by hisse'f. Den he went home en tuck some res', en nex' day he went back; en w'en Mr. Black Snake come out en went off, Brer Rabbit, he tuck 'n sing de song, en de door flewed open, en in he went. He went in, he did, en w'en he got in dar, he fin' lots er goodies. He fin' cakes en sausages, en all sort er nice doin's. Den he come out, en de nex' day he went he tole Ole Brer Wolf, en Brer Wolf, he 'low dat, bein' ez times is hard, he b'lieve he 'll go 'long en sample some er Mr. Black Snake's doin's.
Dey went, dey did, en soon ez dey fin' dat Mr. Black Snake is gone, Brer Rabbit he sing de song, en de door open, en in he went. He went in dar, he did, en he gobbled up his belly ful, en w'iles he doin' dis Brer Wolf he gallop 'roun' en 'roun', tryin' fer ter git in. But de door done slam shet, en Brer Wolf ain't know de song. Bimeby Brer Rabbit he come out, he did, lickin' he chops en wipin' he mustash, en Brer Wolf ax 'im w'at de name er goodness is de reason he ain't let 'im go in 'long wid 'im.
Brer Rabbit, he vow, he did, dat he 'spected any gump 'ud know dat somebody got ter stay outside en watch w'iles de yuther one wuz on de inside. Brer Wolf say he ain't thunk er dat, en den he ax Brer Rabbit fer ter let 'im in, en please be so good ez ter stay out dar en watch w'iles he git some er de goodies.
Wid dat Brer Rabbit, he sung de song:
He sung de song, he did, en de door flew'd open, en Brer Wolf he lipt in, en gun ter gobble up de goodies. Brer Rabbit, he stayed outside, en make like he gwine ter watch. Brer Wolf, he e't en e't, en he keep on a-eatin'. Brer Rabbit, he tuck en stan' off in de bushes, en bimeby he year Mr. Black Snake a-slidin' thoo de grass. Brer Rabbit, he ain't say nothin'. He 'low ter hisse'f, he did, dat he was dar ter watch, en dat w'at he gwine ter do ef de good Lord spar' 'im. So he set dar en watch, en Mr. Black Snake, he come a-slidin' up ter de house en sing de song, en den de door flew'd open en in he went.
Brer Rabbit set dar en watch so hard, he did, dat it look like he eyes gwine to pop out. 'T want long 'fo' he year sump'n 'n'er like a scuffle gwine on in de poplar-tree, en, fus' news you know, Brer Wolf come tumberlin' out. He come tumberlin' out, he did, en down he fell, kaze Mr. Black Snake got 'im tie hard en fas' so he ain't kin run.
Den, atter so long a time, Mr. Black Snake tuck 'n tie Brer Wolf up ter a lim', en dar dat creetur swung 'twixt de hevin en de yeth. He swung en swayed, en eve'y time he swung Mr. Black Snake tuck 'n lash 'im wid he tail, en eve'y time he lash 'im Brer Rabbit holler out, he did: "'Sarve 'im right! sarve 'im right!"
"En I let you know," said the old man, refilling his pipe, "dat w'en Mr. Black Snake git thoo wid dat creetur, he ain't want no mo' goodies."
Source: Joel Chandler Harris, Daddy Jake the Runaway: And Short Stories Told After Dark by Uncle Remus (New York: The Century Company, 1896), pp. 108-117
In olden times there lived a great and wealthy king, whose greatness and wealth were the envy of the world. Many kings had assayed to fight with him and had been defeated, till at last he began to think that he was unconquerable, and became careless and indifferent as to the state of his army.
Meanwhile another powerful king had been carefully training his forces. He saw the condition of affairs, and determined to do battle with this king. The two armies met on a large plain, and fought bravely for several days. For some time the battle seemed to be equal, but at last the great and wealthy king was slain and his forces scattered. The strange king then entered the city and reigned in his stead. His first act was to banish the late king's wife and her two sons. They were sent out of the country without the least means of subsistence, so that the queen was obliged to pound rice for aser of rice a day, while the two boys got what they could by begging.
One day the woman advised one of her sons to go to the jungle and cut some bundles of wood for sale. The eldest went; and while he was engaged in cutting wood he saw at a little distance a small caravan of loaded camels and mules attended by several men, who evidently were robbers. The boy was frightened, because he thought they would kill him if they knew he was there. So he climbed up into a tree to hide himself.
The caravan halted by a small hut in a part of the jungle near to this tree. He saw the men unload their beasts and place all the bundles inside the hut, the door of which opened and shut by itself at the mention of a certain charm that he heard quite plainly. He saw all this, and rememhered the words of the charm, and determined to enter the hut him self as soon as the robhers departed.
Accordingly on the morrow, when the robbers were well out of sight and hearing, he came down from the tree, went to the hut, and uttered the words of the charm that he had heard. The door immediately opened to him, and he entered. He found immense piles of valuable treasure in the place -- gold and silver, and precious stones, and sundry articles of curious workmanship were stored up there in abundance. He arranged as much of the treasure as he could place on a camel that he found grazing near, and then, repeating the charm, shut the door and went home. His mother was delighted to see the result of her son's day's work.
The following morning the younger prince thought that he also would visit this jungle and try his luck. So he quickly learnt the words of the charm and started. He arrived at the jungle, and climbed the same tree near the hut, and waited there patiently for the robbers' coming. Just before dark they appeared, bringing with them several loads of treasure. On reaching the hut they entered by means of the charm, as before. Great was their surprise and anger when they found that some person had been to the place and taken some of the things. They uttered such terrible oaths, and vowed such fearful vengeance on the offender, that the prince up in the tree trembled exceedingly, and began to repent his adventure.
In the morning the robbers again left; and as soon as they were well out of the way the boy descended the tree and went and repeated the charm whereby the door of the hut was opened. The door obeyed, and he entered. But, alas! the door closed as soon as he was inside, and would not open again, although the boy shouted till he was hoarse, and begged and prayed that he might be set free. Evidently the poor boy had omitted or added something to the words of the charm, and thus brought this misfortune on himself. Terrible must have been his feelings as he counted the hours to the robbers' return, and tried to imagine what they would do to him, when they saw him there! It was vain to hope for escape. He was shut up in a prison of his own making, and must bear the consequences.
Before nightfall sounds of approaching footsteps were heard, and presently the door opened and the robbers came in. A savage gleam of delight passed over their countenances as they saw the youngster crouching away in a corner and weeping.
"Oh! oh!" they exclaimed. "This is the thief that dares to intrude into our quarters, is it? We'll cut him into pieces and strew them about the place, that others may fear to follow in his steps."
This they really did, for they were bloodthirsty and had no feeling, and then went to sleep. The next day they started off on their marauding expeditions as usual, as if nothing had happened.
While they were absent the eldest prince arrived to see what had become of his brother, and to help him in carrying away the spoil. His grief was inexpressible when he saw the pieces of flesh strewn about the place.
"They shall rue this," he exclaimed, and caused the door of the hut to be opened by means of the charm and entered.
He collected the most valuable articles that he could lay hands on and put them into a sack. Afterwards he emptied the contents of another sack on the ground outside the hut, and placed the pieces of his brother's corpse in it. And then, having repeated the charm and shut the door, he took up the two sacks, threw them over his shoulder, and walked home. On reaching home he had the pieces sewed up in a cloth and buried.
When the robbers returned that evening and discovered what had happened they were very angry. They resolved to find the thief, and took an oath to rob no more until they had accomplished their desire. They went to the city, and lodged in different parts of the bázár, in order that they might ascertain if anyone was living there who had suddenly become rich.
One of the robbers happened to meet with the tailor who had made the grave-clothes for the young prince who had been so foully slaughtered, and heard from him that the mother and brother of the boy seemed to have got a lot of money lately, but how he could not say. Some people said that they were members of some royal family, but he did not know.
Accordingly the robber went and found out the house where the queen and prince were living. He marked it, so that he might know it again, and then hastened to inform the rest of the band. However, the prince had fortunately noticed the mark, and guessing what it meant, went and marked several of the adjoining houses in the same way. He thus thoroughly nonplussed the robbers.
"This plan will not do," they said. "One of us had better get to know through the tailor where these people live, and then go to the house and cultivate their friendship. An opportunity for despatching the prince would soon be afforded."
This was agreed to unanimously, and the leader of the robber band was voted to the work. He soon made friends with the young prince and his mother, and was received into the house at all times as a welcome guest.
One day, however, the woman observed a dagger hidden beneath his coat, and from this and one or two other things that she afterwards noticed, decided in her mind that the man was no friend, but an enemy and a robber. She wished to be rid of him. Consequently one evening she suggested to her son and his friend that she should dance before them, and they agreed. In her hand she had a sword, which she waved about most gracefully. Now she approached the robber, and now she receded slowly and smoothly, and accommodated her gestures to a song, till at length she saw her opportunity, and running against the robber, struck off his head.
"What have you done, mother?" exclaimed the prince, who was horror-struck.
"I have simply changed places with our friend," she replied. "Instead of him murdering you, I have murdered him. Look! Behold the dagger with which he would have slain you."
"O mother," said the prince, "how shall I ever he able to repay you for your watchfulness over me. I did not notice anything wrong about the man. I never saw his dagger before. This must be one of the robbers, come to wreak vengeance on me for taking some of their treasure."
When the robber band knew of the death of their leader they divided the spoil and retired to their different villages.
The young prince married, and became a banker and prospered exceedingly.
There were two brothers; one was rich, the other poor. However, the rich one gave nothing to the poor one, who barely made a living as a grain dealer. Things often went so badly for him that he had no bread for his wife and children.
One day he was pushing his cart through the forest when off to the side he saw a large bare mountain. He had never seen it before, so he stopped and looked at it with amazement. While he was standing there he saw twelve tall wild men approaching. Thinking that they were robbers, he pushed his cart into the thicket, climbed up a tree, and waited to see what would happen.
The twelve men went to the mountain and cried out, "Mount Semsi, Mount Semsi, open up." The barren mountain immediately separated down the middle. The twelve men walked into it, and as soon as they were inside it shut.
A little while later it opened again, and the men came out carrying heavy sacks on their backs. As soon as they were all back in the daylight they said, "Mount Semsi, Mount Semsi, close." Then the mountain went back together, and the entrance could no longer be seen. Then the twelve men went away.
When they were completely out of sight, the poor man climbed down from the tree. He was curious to know what secret was hidden in the mountain, so he went up to it and said, "Mount Semsi, Mount Semsi, open up," and the mountain opened up for him as well.
He went inside, and the entire mountain was a cavern full of silver and gold, and in the back of the cavern there lay great piles of pearls and sparkling jewels, piled up like grain. The poor man did not know what he should do, whether or not he could take any of these treasures for himself. At last he filled his pockets with gold, but he left the pearls and precious stones lying where they were.
Upon leaving he too said, "Mount Semsi, Mount Semsi, close," and the mountain closed. Then he went home with his cart.
He no longer had any cares, for with his gold he could buy bread for his wife and children, and wine as well. He lived happily and honestly, gave to the poor, and did good for everyone. When he ran out of money he went to his brother, borrowed a bushel, and got some more money, but did not touch any of the very valuable things. When he wanted to get some more money for the third time he again borrowed the bushel from his brother. However, the rich man had long been envious of his brother's wealth and of the fine household that he had furnished for himself. He could not understand where the riches came from, and what his brother wanted with the bushel. Then he thought of a trap. He covered the bottom of the bushel with pitch, and when he got the bushel back a gold coin was sticking to it.
He at once went to his brother and asked him, "What have you been measuring in the bushel?"
"Wheat and barley," said the poor brother.
Then he showed him the gold coin and threatened that if he did not tell the truth he would bring charges against him before the court. Then the poor man then told him everything that had happened to him. The rich man immediately had his wagon hitched up and drove away, intending to do better than his brother had done, and to bring back with him quite different treasures.
When he came to the mountain he cried out, "Mount Semsi, Mount Semsi, open up."
The mountain opened, and he went inside. There lay the riches all before him, and for a long time he did not know what he should take hold of first. Finally took as many precious stones as he could carry. He wanted to carry his load outside, but as his heart and soul were entirely occupied with the treasures, he had forgotten the name of the mountain, and cried out, "Mount Simeli, Mount Simeli, open up."
But that was not the right name, and the mountain did not move, remaining closed instead. He became frightened, and the longer he thought about it the more he became confused, and all of the treasures were of no use to him.
In the evening the mountain opened up, and the twelve robbers came inside. When they saw him they laughed and cried out, "Bird, we have you at last. Did you think we did not notice that you came here twice? We could not catch you then, this third time you shall not get out again."
He cried out, "I wasn't the one. It was my brother!"
But however much he begged for his life, and in spite of everything that he said, they cut off his head.
Source: Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, "Simeliberg," Kinder- und Hausmärchen gesammelt durch die Brüder Grimm (Children's and Household Tales -- Grimms' Fairy Tales), vol. 2, 7th ed. (Göttingen: Verlag der Dieterichschen Buchhandlung, 1857), no. 142, pp. 259-61.
The Grimms' source: Ludowine von Haxthausen (1795-1872), who heard the tale in the vicinity of Münster. The story is clearly a shortened version of "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves" from the 1001 Nights.
Retold by Andrew Lang
In a town in Persia there dwelt two brothers, one named Cassim, the other Ali Baba. Cassim was married to a rich wife and lived in plenty, while Ali Baba had to maintain his wife and children by cutting wood in a neighboring forest and selling it in the town.
One day, when Ali Baba was in the forest, he saw a troop of men on horseback, coming toward him in a cloud of dust. He was afraid they were robbers, and climbed into a tree for safety. When they came up to him and dismounted, he counted forty of them. They unbridled their horses and tied them to trees.
The finest man among them, whom Ali Baba took to be their captain, went a little way among some bushes, and said, "Open, Sesame!" so plainly that Ali Baba heard him.
A door opened in the rocks, and having made the troop go in, he followed them, and the door shut again of itself. They stayed some time inside, and Ali Baba, fearing they might come out and catch him, was forced to sit patiently in the tree. At last the door opened again, and the Forty Thieves came out. As the Captain went in last he came out first, and made them all pass by him; he then closed the door, saying, "Shut, Sesame!"
Every man bridled his horse and mounted, the Captain put himself at their head, and they returned as they came.
Then Ali Baba climbed down and went to the door concealed among the bushes, and said, "Open, Sesame!" and it flew open.
Ali Baba, who expected a dull, dismal place, was greatly surprised to find it large and well lighted, hollowed by the hand of man in the form of a vault, which received the light from an opening in the ceiling. He saw rich bales of merchandise -- silk, stuff-brocades, all piled together, and gold and silver in heaps, and money in leather purses. He went in and the door shut behind him. He did not look at the silver, but brought out as many bags of gold as he thought his asses, which were browsing outside, could carry, loaded them with the bags, and hid it all with fagots.
Using the words, "Shut, Sesame!" he closed the door and went home.
Then he drove his asses into the yard, shut the gates, carried the money-bags to his wife, and emptied them out before her. He bade her keep the secret, and he would go and bury the gold.
"Let me first measure it," said his wife. "I will go borrow a measure of someone, while you dig the hole."
So she ran to the wife of Cassim and borrowed a measure. Knowing Ali Baba's poverty, the sister was curious to find out what sort of grain his wife wished to measure, and artfully put some suet at the bottom of the measure. Ali Baba's wife went home and set the measure on the heap of gold, and filled it and emptied it often, to her great content. She then carried it back to her sister, without noticing that a piece of gold was sticking to it, which Cassim's wife perceived directly her back was turned.
She grew very curious, and said to Cassim when he came home, "Cassim, your brother is richer than you. He does not count his money, he measures it."
He begged her to explain this riddle, which she did by showing him the piece of money and telling him where she found it. Then Cassim grew so envious that he could not sleep, and went to his brother in the morning before sunrise. "Ali Baba," he said, showing him the gold piece, "you pretend to be poor and yet you measure gold."
By this Ali Baba perceived that through his wife's folly Cassim and his wife knew their secret, so he confessed all and offered Cassim a share.
"That I expect," said Cassim; "but I must know where to find the treasure, otherwise I will discover all, and you will lose all."
Ali Baba, more out of kindness than fear, told him of the cave, and the very words to use. Cassim left Ali Baba, meaning to be beforehand with him and get the treasure for himself. He rose early next morning, and set out with ten mules loaded with great chests. He soon found the place, and the door in the rock.
He said, "Open, Sesame!" and the door opened and shut behind him. He could have feasted his eyes all day on the treasures, but he now hastened to gather together as much of it as possible; but when he was ready to go he could not remember what to say for thinking of his great riches. Instead of "Sesame," he said, "Open, Barley!" and the door remained fast. He named several different sorts of grain, all but the right one, and the door still stuck fast. He was so frightened at the danger he was in that he had as much forgotten the word as if he had never heard it.
About noon the robbers returned to their cave, and saw Cassim's mules roving about with great chests on their backs. This gave them the alarm; they drew their sabers, and went to the door, which opened on their Captain's saying, "Open, Sesame!"
Cassim, who had heard the trampling of their horses' feet, resolved to sell his life dearly, so when the door opened he leaped out and threw the Captain down. In vain, however, for the robbers with their sabers soon killed him. On entering the cave they saw all the bags laid ready, and could not imagine how anyone had got in without knowing their secret. They cut Cassim's body into four quarters, and nailed them up inside the cave, in order to frighten anyone who should venture in, and went away in search of more treasure.
As night drew on Cassim's wife grew very uneasy, and ran to her brother-in-law, and told him where her husband had gone. Ali Baba did his best to comfort her, and set out to the forest in search of Cassim. The first thing he saw on entering the cave was his dead brother. Full of horror, he put the body on one of his asses, and bags of gold on the other two, and, covering all with some fagots, returned home. He drove the two asses laden with gold into his own yard, and led the other to Cassim's house.
The door was opened by the slave Morgiana, whom he knew to be both brave and cunning. Unloading the ass, he said to her, "This is the body of your master, who has been murdered, but whom we must bury as though he had died in his bed. I will speak with you again, but now tell your mistress I am come."
The wife of Cassim, on learning the fate of her husband, broke out into cries and tears, but Ali Baba offered to take her to live with him and his wife if she would promise to keep his counsel and leave everything to Morgiana; whereupon she agreed, and dried her eyes.
Morgiana, meanwhile, sought an apothecary and asked him for some lozenges. "My poor master," she said, "can neither eat nor speak, and no one knows what his distemper is." She carried home the lozenges and returned next day weeping, and asked for an essence only given to those just about to die.
Thus, in the evening, no one was surprised to hear the wretched shrieks and cries of Cassim's wife and Morgiana, telling everyone that Cassim was dead.
The day after Morgiana went to an old cobbler near the gates of the town who opened his stall early, put a piece of gold in his hand, and bade him follow her with his needle and thread. Having bound his eyes with a handkerchief, she took him to the room where the body lay, pulled off the bandage, and bade him sew the quarters together, after which she covered his eyes again and led him home. Then they buried Cassim, and Morgiana his slave followed him to the grave, weeping and tearing her hair, while Cassim's wife stayed at home uttering lamentable cries. Next day she went to live with Ali Baba, who gave Cassim's shop to his eldest son.
The Forty Thieves, on their return to the cave, were much astonished to find Cassim's body gone and some of their money-bags.
"We are certainly discovered," said the Captain, "and shall be undone if we cannot find out who it is that knows our secret. Two men must have known it; we have killed one, we must now find the other. To this end one of you who is bold and artful must go into the city dressed as a traveler, and discover whom we have killed, and whether men talk of the strange manner of his death. If the messenger fails he must lose his life, lest we be betrayed."
One of the thieves started up and offered to do this, and after the rest had highly commended him for his bravery he disguised himself, and happened to enter the town at daybreak, just by Baba Mustapha's stall. The thief bade him good-day, saying, "Honest man, how can you possibly see to stitch at your age?"
"Old as I am," replied the cobbler, "I have very good eyes, and will you believe me when I tell you that I sewed a dead body together in a place where I had less light than I have now."
The robber was overjoyed at his good fortune, and, giving him a piece of gold, desired to be shown the house where he stitched up the dead body. At first Mustapha refused, saying that he had been blindfolded; but when the robber gave him another piece of gold he began to think he might remember the turnings if blindfolded as before. This means succeeded; the robber partly led him, and was partly guided by him, right in front of Cassim's house, the door of which the robber marked with a piece of chalk. Then, well pleased, he bade farewell to Baba Mustapha and returned to the forest. By and by Morgiana, going out, saw the mark the robber had made, quickly guessed that some mischief was brewing, and fetching a piece of chalk marked two or three doors on each side, without saying anything to her master or mistress.
The thief, meantime, told his comrades of his discovery. The Captain thanked him, and bade him show him the house he had marked. But when they came to it they saw that five or six of the houses were chalked in the same manner. The guide was so confounded that he knew not what answer to make, and when they returned he was at once beheaded for having failed.
Another robber was dispatched, and, having won over Baba Mustapha, marked the house in red chalk; but Morgiana being again too clever for them, the second messenger was put to death also.
The Captain now resolved to go himself, but, wiser than the others, he did not mark the house, but looked at it so closely that he could not fail to remember it. He returned, and ordered his men to go into the neighboring villages and buy nineteen mules, and thirty-eight leather jars, all empty except one, which was full of oil. The Captain put one of his men, fully armed, into each, rubbing the outside of the jars with oil from the full vessel. Then the nineteen mules were loaded with thirty-seven robbers in jars, and the jar of oil, and reached the town by dusk.
The Captain stopped his mules in front of Ali Baba's house, and said to Ali Baba, who was sitting outside for coolness, "I have brought some oil from a distance to sell at tomorrow's market, but it is now so late that I know not where to pass the night, unless you will do me the favor to take me in."
Though Ali Baba had seen the Captain of the robbers in the forest, he did not recognize him in the disguise of an oil merchant. He bade him welcome, opened his gates for the mules to enter, and went to Morgiana to bid her prepare a bed and supper for his guest. He brought the stranger into his hall, and after they had supped went again to speak to Morgiana in the kitchen, while the Captain went into the yard under pretense of seeing after his mules, but really to tell his men what to do.
Beginning at the first jar and ending at the last, he said to each man, "As soon as I throw some stones from the window of the chamber where I lie, cut the jars open with your knives and come out, and I will be with you in a trice."
He returned to the house, and Morgiana led him to his chamber. She then told Abdallah, her fellow slave, to set on the pot to make some broth for her master, who had gone to bed. Meanwhile her lamp went out, and she had no more oil in the house.
"Do not be uneasy," said Abdallah; "go into the yard and take some out of one of those jars."
Morgiana thanked him for his advice, took the oil pot, and went into the yard. When she came to the first jar the robber inside said softly, "Is it time?"
Any other slave but Morgiana, on finding a man in the jar instead of the oil she wanted, would have screamed and made a noise; but she, knowing the danger her master was in, bethought herself of a plan, and answered quietly, "Not yet, but presently."
She went to all the jars, giving the same answer, till she came to the jar of oil. She now saw that her master, thinking to entertain an oil merchant, had let thirty-eight robbers into his house. She filled her oil pot, went back to the kitchen, and, having lit her lamp, went again to the oil jar and filled a large kettle full of oil. When it boiled she went and poured enough oil into every jar to stifle and kill the robber inside. When this brave deed was done she went back to the kitchen, put out the fire and the lamp, and waited to see what would happen.
In a quarter of an hour the Captain of the robbers awoke, got up, and opened the window. As all seemed quiet, he threw down some little pebbles which hit the jars. He listened, and as none of his men seemed to stir he grew uneasy, and went down into the yard. On going to the first jar and saying, "Are you asleep?" he smelt the hot boiled oil, and knew at once that his plot to murder Ali Baba and his household had been discovered. He found all the gang was dead, and, missing the oil out of the last jar, became aware of the manner of their death. He then forced the lock of a door leading into a garden, and climbing over several walls made his escape. Morgiana heard and saw all this, and, rejoicing at her success, went to bed and fell asleep.
At daybreak Ali Baba arose, and, seeing the oil jars still there, asked why the merchant had not gone with his mules. Morgiana bade him look in the first jar and see if there was any oil. Seeing a man, he started back in terror. "Have no fear," said Morgiana; "the man cannot harm you; he is dead."
Ali Baba, when he had recovered somewhat from his astonishment, asked what had become of the merchant.
"Merchant!" said she, "he is no more a merchant than I am!" and she told him the whole story, assuring him that it was a plot of the robbers of the forest, of whom only three were left, and that the white and red chalk marks had something to do with it. Ali Baba at once gave Morgiana her freedom, saying that he owed her his life. They then buried the bodies in Ali Baba's garden, while the mules were sold in the market by his slaves.
The Captain returned to his lonely cave, which seemed frightful to him without his lost companions, and firmly resolved to avenge them by killing Ali Baba. He dressed himself carefully, and went into the town, where he took lodgings in an inn. In the course of a great many journeys to the forest he carried away many rich stuffs and much fine linen, and set up a shop opposite that of Ali Baba's son. He called himself Cogia Hassan, and as he was both civil and well dressed he soon made friends with Ali Baba's son, and through him with Ali Baba, whom he was continually asking to sup with him.
Ali Baba, wishing to return his kindness, invited him into his house and received him smiling, thanking him for his kindness to his son.
When the merchant was about to take his leave Ali Baba stopped him, saying, "Where are you going, sir, in such haste? Will you not stay and sup with me?"
The merchant refused, saying that he had a reason; and, on Ali Baba's asking him what that was, he replied, "It is, sir, that I can eat no victuals that have any salt in them."
"If that is all," said Ali Baba, "let me tell you that there shall be no salt in either the meat or the bread that we eat to-night."
He went to give this order to Morgiana, who was much surprised.
"Who is this man," she said, "who eats no salt with his meat?"
"He is an honest man, Morgiana," returned her master; "therefore do as I bid you."
But she could not withstand a desire to see this strange man, so she helped Abdallah to carry up the dishes, and saw in a moment that Cogia Hassan was the robber Captain, and carried a dagger under his garment.
"I am not surprised," she said to herself, "that this wicked man, who intends to kill my master, will eat no salt with him; but I will hinder his plans."
She sent up the supper by Abdallah, while she made ready for one of the boldest acts that could be thought on. When the dessert had been served, Cogia Hassan was left alone with Ali Baba and his son, whom he thought to make drunk and then to murder them. Morgiana, meanwhile, put on a headdress like a dancing-girl's, and clasped a girdle round her waist, from which hung a dagger with a silver hilt, and said to Abdallah, "Take your tabor, and let us go and divert our master and his guest."
Abdallah took his tabor and played before Morgiana until they came to the door, where Abdallah stopped playing and Morgiana made a low courtesy.
"Come in, Morgiana," said Ali Baba, "and let Cogia Hassan see what you can do"; and, turning to Cogia Hassan, he said, "She's my slave and my housekeeper."
Cogia Hassan was by no means pleased, for he feared that his chance of killing Ali Baba was gone for the present; but he pretended great eagerness to see Morgiana, and Abdallah began to play and Morgiana to dance. After she had performed several dances she drew her dagger and made passes with it, sometimes pointing it at her own breast, sometimes at her master's, as if it were part of the dance. Suddenly, out of breath, she snatched the tabor from Abdallah with her left hand, and, holding the dagger in her right hand, held out the tabor to her master. Ali Baba and his son put a piece of gold into it, and Cogia Hassan, seeing that she was coming to him, pulled out his purse to make her a present, but while he was putting his hand into it Morgiana plunged the dagger into his heart.
"Unhappy girl!" cried Ali Baba and his son, "what have you done to ruin us?"
"It was to preserve you, master, not to ruin you," answered Morgiana. "See here," opening the false merchant's garment and showing the dagger; "see what an enemy you have entertained! Remember, he would eat no salt with you, and what more would you have? Look at him! he is both the false oil merchant and the Captain of the Forty Thieves."
Ali Baba was so grateful to Morgiana for thus saving his life that he offered her to his son in marriage, who readily consented, and a few days after the wedding was celebrated with greatest splendor.
At the end of a year Ali Baba, hearing nothing of the two remaining robbers, judged they were dead, and set out to the cave. The door opened on his saying, "Open Sesame!" He went in, and saw that nobody had been there since the Captain left it. He brought away as much gold as he could carry, and returned to town. He told his son the secret of the cave, which his son handed down in his turn, so the children and grandchildren of Ali Baba were rich to the end of their lives.
With dread the wanderer approaches the ruins of the Dummburg. Terror seizes him if night overtakes him in its vicinity; for when the sun goes down and he treads on the site of the castle, he hears from beneath hollow moans and the clank of chains. At midnight he sees in the moonlight the spectres of knights of former days, who ruled the land with an iron sceptre. In solemn procession twelve tall white figures rise from amid the rocky fragments, bearing a large open coffin, which they place on the top of the hill, and then vanish. The skulls also move about, that lie scattered under the rock.
For many years the Dummburg was the abode of robbers, who slew the passing travellers and merchants, whom they perceived on the road from Leipsig [Leipzig] to Brunswick [Braunschweig], and heaped together the treasures of the plundered churches and the surrounding country, which they concealed in subterranean caverns. Deep wells were choked up with their murdered victims; and in the frightful castle-dungeon, many miserable beings perished by the slower death of hunger.
Long did this lurking-place of banditti continue undiscovered. At length the vengeance of the confederated princes reached them. The hoards of gold, silver, and precious stones still remain piled up in the ruined cellars and vaults of the Dummburg; but it is seldom granted to the wanderer to find the doors, even if here and there he may discover ruined entrances. Spectres in the form of monks, and also living monks, are often seen descending into the rock.
A poor wood-cutter, who was about to fell a beech at the back of the scattered ruins, seeing a monk approach slowly through the forest, hid himself behind a tree. The monk passed by, and went among the rocks. The wood-cutter stole cautiously after him, and saw that he stopped at a small door, which had never been discovered by any of the villagers.
The monk knocked gently and cried: "Little door, open!" -- and the door sprang open.
"Little door, shut!" he also heard him cry, and the door was closed.
Trembling in every limb, the wood-cutter marked the crooked path with twigs and heaps of stones. But from that time he could neither eat nor drink, nor sleep, so anxious was he to know what was contained in the cellars to which this wonderful door gave entrance.
The following Saturday evening he fasted, and on the Sunday, rising with the sun, he took his rosary and proceeded to the rock. He now stood before the door, and his teeth chattered with fear, as he expected to see a spectre in the form of a monk -- but no spectre appeared. Trembling he approached the door; he listened long and heard nothing.
In the anxiety of his heart he prayed to all the saints and to the Virgin, and then, without reflecting, tapped on the door, at the same time saying in a low tremulous voice: "Little door, open!" and the door opened, when he saw before him a narrow dim passage. He entered tottering, and found that it led into a spacious and rather light vault.
"Little door, shut!" said he, almost unconsciously, and the door closed behind him.
With fear he now walked forward, and found large open vessels and sacks full of old dollars and fine guilders, together with heavy gold pieces. Here were also many beautiful caskets filled with jewels and pearls, costly shrines, and decorated images of saints, which lay about or stood on tables of silver in the corners of the vault. The wood-cutter crossed himself, and wished himself a thousand miles from the enchanted spot, yet could not withstand the desire of taking some of the useless treasures, to enable him to clothe his wife and eight children more comfortably, as they had long been in rags.
Shuddering, and with averted eyes, he stretched out his hand towards the sack that stood nearest to him, and took out a few guilders. Feeling now somewhat more composed, with less tremor and half closing his eyes he then took a few dollars, also a handful or two of the small copper coins, and again crossing himself, tottered back to the door.
"Come again!" cried a hollow voice from the depth of the vault.
As everything about him seemed to whirl round, he could scarcely stammer out: "Little door, open!"
The door sprang open. In a livelier and louder voice he now cried out: "Little door, shut!" and it closed behind him.
He ran home with the utmost speed, but uttered not a syllable about the treasures he had found; then went into the conventual church and offered up, for the church and for the poor, two-tenths of all that he had taken in the vault. The next day he went to the town, and bought some clothes for his wife and children. He had, he said, found an old dollar and a few guilders under the roots of the beech that he had felled.
The following Sunday he went with firmer steps to the door in the rock, did as he had done the first time, and supplied himself better than on the former occasion; still with moderation and discretion.
"Come again!" cried the same hollow voice.
And he went on the third Sunday, and filled his pockets as before. He was now in his own estimation a rich man, but what could he do with his riches? He gave to the church and to the poor two-tenths of all he had, the rest he resolved to bury in his cellar, and from time to time fetch some as he required it. Yet he could not resist the desire first to measure his money; for as to counting it, that was an art he had never learned.
He accordingly went to his neighbour, a very rich man, but who starved himself in the midst of his wealth. He hoarded up corn, deprived the labourer of his hire, extorted from the widow and orphan, and lent money on pledges. He had no children. From this man the wood-cutter borrowed a measure, measured his money, buried it, and returned the measure to its owner.
The measure had some long cracks in it, through which the corn-dealer, when selling to the poor labourer, always shook some grains back to his own heap. In one of these cracks two or three of the small copper coins had lodged, which the wood-cutter, in throwing out the money, had not observed. But they did not so easily escape the vulture-eyes of his rich neighbour. He went in search of the wood-cutter, and asked him what he had been measuring.
"Pine-cones and beans," answered he confusedly. The usurer shook his head, and showed him the copper coins, threatened him with the law, the torture, and, lastly, promised to give him all he could possibly wish for, if he would tell him the truth. Thus he extorted the secret out of the poor man, and learned from him the powerful words.
The whole week the rich usurer employed in forming plans how he might at once get possession of all the treasures in the vault, as well as of those he thought might be concealed in the neighbouring vaults, or buried under the earth. He reckoned beforehand, that if he could get together all this money, he could by degrees, either purchase at a cheap rate from his neighbours, or extort from them. by false accusations and false witnesses, one acre and one hide of land after another, and thus make himself lord of the whole village, and, perhaps, of several of the neighbouring villages; then get ennobled by the emperor; and, as a robber-knight, lay the country around under contribution.
It did not please the wood-cutter that his evil-disposed neighbour should visit the castle-vaults. He prayed him to desist from his purpose, and represented to him the fate of many luckless treasure-seekers. But who ever held back a miser from an open sack of gold?
By threats and entreaties the wood-cutter was at length prevailed on to accompany him to the door; he was only to receive the sacks, which the miser would himself drag out, and conceal them among the bushes. For this service he was to have the half of all the treasure, and the church a tenth; all the poor also in the village should be newly clothed. So spake the usurer.
In his heart he had resolved, when he no longer required his aid, to throw the wood-cutter headlong into a deep well which was near the castle, to give nothing to the poor, and to the church only a few copper coins.
The following Sunday the extortioner, accompanied by the wood-cutter, set off before sunrise to the Dummburg. On his shoulder he carried a sack, which contained three bushels, into which he put twenty smaller ones, and in his hand a spade and a large axe. The wood-cutter warned him most strongly against covetousness, but in vain; he recommended him to offer up prayers to the saints for protection, but he would not. Muttering and gnashing his teeth, he walked on.
They now arrived at the door. The wood-cutter, who did not feel very easy in the affair, but was held back by the fear of the torture, stood at some distance to receive the sacks.
"Little door, open!" cried the miser in a hurried tone, and trembling with eagerness. The door then opened, and he entered.
"Little door, shut!" cried he, and it closed after him.
No sooner was he in the vault and saw all the vessels and sacks full of gold, and caskets of precious stones and pearls, and shining money, than he devoured them all with his eyes; then with trembling hands pulled the twenty sacks out of the large one, and began filling them.
At this moment there came slowly from the depth of the vault a great black dog with fire-darting eyes, and laid himself on all the full sacks, and then on the money.
"Away with thee, miser!" cried the dog, grinning fiercely at him.
Trembling, the usurer fell to the ground, and crept on hands and knees to the door; but in his fear he forgot the words, "Little door, open," and continued calling out, "Little door, shut," and the door continued closed.
The wood-cutter waited long with beating heart; at length he approached the door. It seemed to him that he heard groans and moaning and the hollow howl of a dog, and then all was silent. He now heard the sound of the mass-bell at the convent, and counted his beads; then gently knocked at the door, saying: "Little door, open!"
The door opened, and there lay the bleeding body of his wicked neighbour stretched on his sacks; but the vessels of gold and silver, and diamonds and pearls, sank deeper and deeper before his eyes into the earth, till all had completely vanished.
Source: Benjamin Thorpe, "The Dummburg," Yule-Tide Stories: A Collection of Scandinavian and North German Popular Tales and Traditions (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1853), pp. 481-86.
Translated by Richard F. Burton
In days of yore and in times and tides long gone before there dwelt in a certain town of Persia two brothers one named Kasim and the other Ali Baba, who at their father's demise had divided the little wealth he had left to them with equitable division, and had lost no time in wasting and spending it all. The elder, however, presently took to himself a wife, the daughter of an opulent merchant; so that when his father-in-law fared to the mercy of Almighty Allah, he became owner of a large shop filled with rare goods and costly wares and of a storehouse stocked with precious stuffs; likewise of much gold that was buried in the ground. Thus was he known throughout the city as a substantial man.
But the woman whom Ali Baba had married was poor and needy; they lived, therefore, in a mean hovel and Ali Baba eked out a scanty livelihood by the sale of fuel which he daily collected in the jungle and carried about the town to the Bazar upon his three asses.
Now it chanced one day that Ali Baba had cut dead branches and dry fuel sufficient for his need, and had placed the load upon his beasts when suddenly he espied a dust-cloud spireing high in air to his right and moving rapidly towards him; and when he closely considered it he descried a troop of horsemen riding on amain and about to reach him.
At this sight he was sore alarmed, and fearing lest perchance they were a band of bandits who would slay him and drive off his donkeys, in his affright he began to run; but forasmuch as they were near hand and he could not escape from out the forest, he drove his animals laden with the fuel into a bye-way of the bushes and swarmed up a thick trunk of a huge tree to hide himself therein; and he sat upon a branch whence he could descry everything beneath him whilst none below could catch a glimpse of him above; and that tree grew close beside a rock which towered high above-head.
The horsemen, young, active, and doughty riders, came close up to the rock-face and all dismounted; whereat Ali Baba took good note of them and soon he was fully persuaded by their mien and demeanour that they were a troop of highwaymen who, having fallen upon a caravan had despoiled it and carried off the spoil and brought their booty to this place with intent of concealing it safely in some cache. Moreover he observed that they were forty in number.
Ali Baba saw the robbers, as soon as they came under the tree, each unbridle his horse and hobble it; then all took off their saddle-bags which proved to be full of gold and silver. The man who seemed to be the captain presently pushed forwards, load on shoulder, through thorns and thickets, till he came up to a certain spot where he uttered these strange words, "Open, O Simsim I" and forthwith appeared a wide doorway in the face of the rock.
The robbers went in and last of all their Chief and then the portal shut of itself. Long while they stayed within the cave whilst Ali Baba was constrained to abide perched upon the tree, reflecting that if he came down peradventure the band might issue forth that very moment and seize him and slay him. At last he had determined to mount one of the horses and driving on his asses to return townwards, when suddenly the portal flew open.
The robber-chief was first to issue forth; then, standing at the entrance, he saw and counted his men as they came out, and lastly he spake the magical words, "Shut, O Simsim!" whereat the door closed of itself. When all had passed muster and review, each slung on his saddle-bags and bridled his own horse and as soon as ready they rode off, led by the leader, in the direction whence they came.
Ali Baba remained still perched on the tree and watched their departure; nor would he descend until what time they were clean gone out of sight, lest perchance one of them return and look around and descry him.
Then he thought within himself, "I too will try the virtue of those magical words and see if at my bidding the door will open and close."
So he called out aloud, "Open, O Simsim!"
And no sooner had he spoken than straightway the portal flew open and he entered within. He saw a large cavern and a vaulted, in height equalling the stature of a full-grown man and it was hewn in the live stone and lighted up with light that came through air-holes and bullseyes in the upper surface of the rock which formed the roof. He had expected to find naught save outer gloom in this robbers' den, and he was surprised to see the whole room filled with bales of all manner stuffs, and heaped up from sole to ceiling with camel-loads of silks and brocades and embroidered cloths and mounds on mounds of vari-coloured carpetings; besides which he espied coins golden and silvern without measure or account, some piled upon the ground and others bound in leathern bags and sacks. Seeing these goods and moneys in such abundance, Ali Baba determined in his mind that not during a few years only but for many generations thieves must have stored their gains and spoils in this place.
When he stood within the cave, its door had closed upon him, yet he was not dismayed since, he had kept in memory the magical words; and he took no heed of the precious stuffs around him, but applied himself only and wholly to the sacks of Ashrafis. Of these he carried out as many as he judged sufficient burthen for the beasts; then he loaded them upon his animals, and covered this plunder with sticks and fuel, so none might discern the bags, but might think that he was carrying home his usual ware.
Lastly he called out, "Shut, O Simsim!" and forthwith the door closed, for the spell so wrought that whensoever any entered the cave, its portal shut of itself behind him; and, as he issued therefrom, the same would neither open nor close again till he had pronounced the words, "Shut, O Simsim!"
Presently, having laden his asses Ali Baba urged them before him with all speed to the city and reaching home he drove them into the yard; and, shutting close the outer door, took down first the sticks and fuel and after the bags of gold which he carried in to his wife.
She felt them and finding them full of coin suspected that Ali Baba had been robbing and fell to berating and blaming him for that he should do so ill a thing.
Then quoth Ali Baba to his wife: "Indeed I am no robber but rather do thou rejoice with me at our good fortune."
Hereupon he told her of his adventure and began to pour the gold from the bags in heaps before her, and her sight was dazzled by the sheen and her heart delighted at his recital and adventures.
Then she began counting the gold, whereat quoth Ali Baba, "O silly woman, how long wilt thou continue turning over the coin? Now let me dig a hole wherein to hide this treasure that none may know its secret."
Quoth she, "Right is thy rede! still would I weigh the moneys and have some inkling of their amount;" and he replied, "As thou pleasest, but see thou tell no man."
So she went off in haste to Kasim's home to borrow weights and scales wherewith she might balance the Ashrafis and make some reckoning of their value; and when she could not find Kaim she said to his wife, "Lend me, I pray thee, thy scales for a moment."
Replied her sister-in-law, "Hast thou need of the bigger balance or the smaller?" and the other rejoined, "I need not the large scales, give me the little;" and her sister-in-law cried, "Stay here a moment whilst I look about and find thy want."
With this pretext Kasim's wife went aside and secretly smeared wax and suet over the pan of the balance, that she might know what thing it was Ali Baba's wife would weigh, for she made sure that whatso it be some bit thereof would stick to the wax and fat. So the woman took this opportunity to satisfy her curiosity, and Ali Baba's wife suspecting naught thereof carried home the scales and began to weigh the gold, whilst Ali Baba ceased not digging; and, when the money was weighed, they twain stowed it into the hole which they carefully filled up with earth.
Then the good wife took back the scales to her kinswoman, all unknowing that an Ashrafi had adhered to the cup of the scales; but when Kasim's wife espied the gold coin she fumed with envy and wrath, saying to herself, "So ho! they borrowed my balance to weigh out Ashrafis?" and she marvelled greatly whence so poor a man as Ali Baba had gotten such store of wealth that he should be obliged to weigh it with a pair of scales.
Now after long pondering the matter, when her husband returned home at eventide, she said to him, "O man, thou deemest thyself a wight of wealth and substance, but lo, thy brother Ali Baba is an Emir by the side of thee and richer far than thou art. He hath such heaps of gold that he must needs weigh his moneys with scales, whilst thou, forsooth, art satisfied to count thy coin."
"Whence knowe'st thou this?" asked Kasim, and in answer his wife related all anent the pair of scales and how she found an Ashrafi stuck to them, and shewed him the gold coin which bore the mark and superscription of some ancient king.
No sleep had Kasim all that night by reason of his envy and jealousy and covetise; and next morning he rose betimes and going to Ali Baba said, "O my brother, to all appearance thou art poor and needy; but in effect thou hast a store of wealth so abundant that perforce thou must weigh thy gold with scales."
Quoth Ali Baba, "What is this thou sayest? I understand thee not; make clear thy purport;" and quoth Kasim with ready rage, "Feign not that thou art ignorant of what I say and think not to deceive me."
Then showing him the Ashrafi he cried, "Thousands of gold coins such as these thou hast put by; and meanwhile my wife found this one stuck to the cup of the scales."
Then Ali Baba understood how both Kasim and his wife knew that he had store of Ashrafis, and said in his mind that it would not avail him to keep the matter hidden, but would rather cause ill-will and mischief; and thus he was induced to tell his brother every whit concerning the bandits and also of the treasure trove in the cave.
When he had heard the story, Kasim exclaimed, "I would fain learn of thee the certainty of the place where them foundest the moneys; also the magical words whereby the door opened and closed; and I forewarn thee an thou tell me not the whole truth, I will give notice of those Ashrafis to the Wali; then shalt thou forfeit all thy wealth and be disgraced and thrown into gaol."
Thereupon Ali Baba told him his tale not forgetting the magical words; and Kasim who kept careful heed of all these matters next day set out, driving ten mules he had hired, and readily found the place which Ali Baba had described to him. And when he came to the aforesaid rock and to the tree whereon Ali Baba had hidden himself, and he had made sure of the door he cried in great joy, "Open, O Simsim!"
The portal yawned wide at once and Kasim went within and saw the piles of jewels and treasures lying ranged all around; and, as soon as he stood amongst them the door shut after him as wont to do. He walked about in ecstasy marvelling at the treasures, and when weary of admiration he gathered together bags of Ashrafis, a sufficient load for his ten mules, and placed them by the entrance in readiness to be carried outside and set upon the beasts. But by the will of Allah Almighty he had clean forgotten the cabalistic words and cried out, "Open, O Barley!" whereat the door refused to move.
Astonished and confused beyond measure he named the names of all manner of grains save sesame, which had slipped from his memory as though he had never heard the word; whereat in his dire distress he heeded not the Ashrafis that lay heaped at the entrance and paced to and fro, backwards and forwards, within the cave sorely puzzled and perplexed. The wealth whose sight had erewhile filled his heart with joy and gladness was now the cause of bitter grief and sadness.
Kasini gave up all hope of the life which he by his greed and envy had so sore imperilled.
It came to pass that at noontide the robbers, returning by that way, saw from afar some mules standing beside the entrance and much they marvelled at what had brought the beasts to that place; for, inasmuch as Kasim by mischance had failed to tether or hobble them, they had strayed about the jungle and were browsing hither and thither. However, the thieves paid scant regard to the estrays nor cared they to secure them, but only wondered by what means they had wandered so far from the town.
Then, reaching the cave the Captain and his troop dismounted and going up to the door repeated the formula and at once it flew open. Now Kasim had heard from within the cave the horse-hooves drawing nigh and yet nigher; and he fell down to the ground in a fit of fear never doubting that it was the clatter of the banditti who would slaughter him without fail. Howbeit he presently took heart of grace and at the moment when the door flew open he rushed out hoping to make good his escape. But the unhappy ran full tilt against the Captain who stood in front of the band, and felled him to the ground; whereupon a robber standing near his chief at once bared his brand and with one cut clave Kasim clean in twain.
Thereupon the robbers rushed into the cavern, and put back as they were before the bags of Ashrafis which Kasim had heaped up at the doorway ready for taking away; nor recked they aught of those which Ali Baba had removed, so dazed and amazed were they to discover by what means the strange man had effected an entrance. All knew that it was not possible for any to drop through the skylights so tall and steep was the rock's face, withal slippery of ascent; and also that none could enter by the portal unless he knew the magical words whereby to open it.
However they presently quartered the dead body of Kasim and hung it to the door within the cavern, two parts to the right jamb and as many to the left that the sight might be a warning of approaching doom for all who dared enter the cave. Then coming out they closed the hoard door and rode away upon their wonted work.
Now when night fell and Kasim came not home, his wife waxed uneasy in mind and running round to Ali Baba said, "O my brother, Kasim hath not returned: thou knowest whither he went, and sore I fear me some misfortune hath betided him."
Ali Baba also divined that a mishap had happened to prevent his return; not the less, however, he strove to comfort his sister-in-law with words of cheer and said, "O wife of my brother, Kasim haply exerciseth discretion and, avoiding the city, cometh by a roundabout road and will be here anon. This, I do believe, is the reason why he tarrieth."
Thereupon comforted in spirit Kasim's wife fared homewards and sat awaiting her husband's return; but when half the night was spent and still he came not, she was as one distraught. She feared to cry aloud for her grief, lest haply the neighbours hearing her should come and learn the secret; so she wept in silence and upbraiding herself fell to thinking, "Wherefore did I disclose this secret to him and beget envy and jealousy of Ali Baba? this be the fruit thereof and hence the disaster that hath come down upon me."
She spent the rest of the night in bitter tears and early on the morrow hied in hottest hurry to Ali Baba and prayed that he would go forth in quest of his brother; so he strove to console her and straightway set out with his asses for the forest. Presently, reaching the rock he wondered to see stains of blood freshly shed and not finding his brother or the ten mules he forefelt a calamity from so evil a sign.
He then went to the door and saving, "Open, O Simsim!" he pushed in and saw the dead body of Kasim, two parts hanging to the right, and the rest to the left of the entrance. Albeit he was affrighted beyond measure of affright he wrapped the quarters in two cloths and laid them upon one of his asses, hiding them carefully with sticks and fuel that none might see them. Then he placed the bags of gold upon the two other animals and likewise covered them most carefully; and, when all was made ready he closed the cave-door with the magical words, and set him forth wending homewards with all ward and watchfulness.
The asses with the load of Ashrafis he made over to his wife and bade her bury the bags with diligence; but he told her not the condition in which he had come upon his brother Kasim, Then he went with the other ass, to wit, the beast whereon was laid the corpse to the widow's house and knocked gently at the door.
Now Kasim had a slave-girl shrewd and sharp-witted, Morgiana hight. She as softly undid the bolt and admitted Ali Baba and the ass into the courtyard of the house, when he let down the body from the beast's back and said, "O Morgiana, haste thee and make thee ready to perform the rites for the burial of thy lord: I now go to tell the tidings to thy mistress and I will quickly return to help thee in this matter."
At that instant Kasim's widow seeing her brother-in-law, exclaimed, "O Ali Baba, what news bringest thou of my spouse? Alas, I see grief tokens written upon thy countenance. Say quickly what hath happened."
Then he recounted to her how it had fared with her husband and how he had been slain by the robbers and in what wise he had brought home the dead body.
Ali Baba pursued: "O my lady, what was to happen hath happened, but it behoveth us to keep this matter secret, for that our lives depend upon privacy."
She wept with sore weeping and made answer, "It hath fared with my husband according to the fiat of Fate; and now for thy safety's sake I give thee my word to keep the affair concealed."
He replied, "Naught can avail when Allah hath decreed. Rest thee in patience; until the days of thy widowhood be accomplisht; after which time I will take thee to wife, and thou shalt live in comfort and happiness; and fear not lest my first spouse vex thee or show aught of jealousy, for that she is kindly and tender of heart."
The widow lamenting her loss noisily, cried, "Be it as e'en thou please."
Then Ali Baba farewelled her, weeping and wailing for her husband; and joining Morgiana took counsel with her how to manage the burial of his brother. So, after much consultation and many warnings, he left the slave-girl and departed home driving his ass before him.
As soon as Ali Baba had fared forth Morgiana went quickly to a druggist's shop; and, that she might the better dissemble with him and not make known the matter, she asked of him a drug often administered to men when diseased with dangerous distemper.
He gave it saying, "Who is there in thy house that lieth so ill as to require this medicine?" and said she, "My Master Kasim is sick well nigh unto death: for many days he hath nor spoken nor tasted aught of food, so that almost we despair of his life."
Next day Morgiana went again and asked the druggist for more of medicine and essences such as are adhibited to the sick when at door of death, that the moribund may haply rally before the last breath.
The man gave the potion and she taking it sighed aloud and wept, saying, "I fear me he may not have strength to drink this draught: methinks all will be over with him ere I return to the house."
Meanwhile Ali Baba was anxiously awaiting to hear sounds of wailing and lamentation in Kasim's home that he might at such signal hasten thither and take part in the ceremonies of the funeral. Early on the second day Morgiana went with veiled face to one Baba Mustafa, a tailor well shotten in years whose craft was to make shrouds and cerecloths; and as soon as she saw him open his shop she gave him a gold piece and said, "Do thou bind a bandage over thine eyes and come along with me."
Mustafa made as though he would not go, whereat Morgiana placed a second gold coin in his palm and entreated him to accompany her. The tailor presently consented for greed of gain, so tying a kerchief tightly over his eyes she led him by the hand to the house wherein lay the dead body of her master.
Then, taking off the bandage in the darkened room she bade him sew together the quarters of the corpse, limb to its limb; and, casting a cloth upon the body, said to the tailor, "Make haste and sew a shroud according to the size of this dead man and I will give thee therefor yet another ducat."
Baba Mustafa quickly made the cere cloth of fitting length and breadth, and Morgiana paid him the promised Ashrafi; then once more bandaging his eyes led him back to the place whence she had brought him. After this she returned hurriedly home and with the help of Ali Baba washed the body, in warm water and donning the shroud lay the corpse upon a clean place ready for burial.
This done Morgiana went to the mosque and gave notice to an Imam that a funeral was awaiting the mourners in a certain household, and prayed that he would come to read the prayers for the dead; and the Imam went back with her. Then four neighbours took up the bier and bore it on tneir shoulders and fared forth with the Imam and others who were wont to give assistance at such obsequies. After the funeral prayers were ended four other men carried off the coffin; and Morgiana walked before it bare of head, striking her breast and weeping and wailing with exceeding loud lament, whilst Ali Baba and the neighbours came behind.
In such order they entered the cemetery and buried him; then, leaving him to Munkar and Nakir -- the Questioners of the Dead -- all wended their ways.
Presently the women of the quarter, according to the custom of the city, gathered together in the house of mourning and sat an hour with Kasim's widow comforting and condoling, presently leaving her somewhat resigned and cheered. Ali Baba stayed forty days at home in ceremonial lamentation for the loss of his brother; so none within the town save himself and his wife (Kasim's widow) and Morgiana knew aught about the secret. And when the forty days of mourning were ended Ali Baba removed to his own quarters all the property belonging to the deceased and openly married the widow; then he appointed his nephew, his brother's eldest son, who had lived a long time with a wealthy merchant and was perfect of knowledge in all matters of trade, such as selling and buying, to take charge of the defunct's shop and to carry on the business.
It so chanced one day when the robbers, as was their wont, came to the treasurecave that they marvelled exceedingly to find nor sign nor trace of Kasim's body whilst they observed that much of gold had been carried off.
Quoth the Captain, "Now it behoveth us to make enquiry in this matter; else shall we suffer much of loss arid this our treasure, which we and our forefathers have amassed during the course of many years, will little by little be wasted and spoiled."
Hereto all assented and with single mind agreed that he whom they had slain had knowledge of the magical words whereby the door was made to open; moreover that some one beside him had cognizance of the spell and had carried off the body, and also much of gold; wherefore they needs must make diligent research and find out who the man ever might be. They then took counsel and determined that one amongst them, who should be sagacious and deft of wit, must don the dress of some merchant from foreign parts; then, repairing to the city he must go about from quarter to quarter and from street to street, and learn if any townsman had lately died and if so where he wont to dwell, that with this clue they might be enabled to find the wight they sought.
Hereat said one of the robbers, "Grant me leave that I fare and find out such tidings in the town and bring thee word anon; and if I fail of my purpose I hold my life in forfeit."
Accordingly that bandit, after disguising himself by dress, pushed at night into the town and next morning early he repaired to the market-square and saw that none of the shops had yet been opened, save only that of Baba Mustafa the tailor, who thread and needle in hand sat upon his working-stool.
The thief bade him good day and said, "'Tis yet dark: how canst thou see to sew?"
Said the tailor, "I perceive thou art a stranger. Despite my years my eyesight is so keen that only yesterday I sewed together a dead body whilst sitting in a room quite darkened."
Quoth the bandit thereupon to himself, "I shall get somewhat of my want from this snip;" and to secure a further clue he asked, "Meseemeth thou wouldst jest with me and thou meanest that a cerecloth for a corpse was stitched by thee and that thy business is to sew shrouds."
Answered the tailor, "It mattereth not to thee: question me no more questions."
Thereupon the robber placed an Ashrafi in his hand and continued, "I desire not to discover aught thou hidest, albeit my breast like every honest man's is the grave of secrets; and this only would I learn of thee, in what house didst thou do that job? Canst thou direct me thither, or thyself conduct me thereto?"
The tailor took the gold with greed and cried, "I have not seen with my own eyes the way to that house. A certain bondswoman led me to a place which I know right well and there she bandaged my eyes and guided me to some tenement and lastly carried me into a darkened room where lay the dead body dismembered. Then she unbound the kerchief and bade me sew together first the corpse and then the shroud, which having done she again blindfolded me and led me back to the stead whence she had brought me and left me there. Thou seest then I am not able to tell thee where thou shalt find the house."
Quoth the robber, "Albeit thou knowest not the dwelling whereof thou speakest, still canst thou take me to the place where thou wast blindfolded; then I will bind a kerchief over thine eyes and lead thee as thou wast led: on this wise perchance thou mayest hit upon the site. An thou wilt do this favour by me, see here another golden ducat is thine."
Thereupon the bandit slipped a second Ashrafi into the tailor's palm, and Baba Mustafa thrust it with the first into his pocket; then, leaving his shop as it was, he walked to the place where Morgiana had tied the kerchief around his eyes, and with him went the robber who, after binding on the bandage, led him by the hand.
Baba Mustafa, who was clever and keen-witted, presently striking the street whereby he had fared with the handmaid, walked on counting step by step; then, halting suddenly, he said, "Thus far I came with her;" and the twain stopped in front of Kasim's house wherein now dwelt his brother Ali Baba.
The robber then made marks with white chalk upon the door to the end that he might readily find it at some future time, and removing the bandage from the tailor's eyes said, "O Baba Mustafa, I thank thee for this favour: and Almighty Allah guerdon thee for thy goodness. Tell me now, I pray thee, who dwelleth in yonder house?"
Quoth he, "In very sooth I wot not, for I have little knowledge concerning this quarter of the city;" and the bandit, understanding that he could find no further clue from the tailor, dismissed him to his shop with abundant thanks, and hastened back to the tryst-place in the jungle where the band awaited his coming.
Not long after it so fortuned that Morgiana, going out upon some errand, marvelled exceedingly at seeing the chalk-marks showing white in the door; she stood awhile deep in thought and presently divined that some enemy had made the signs that he might recognize the house and play some sleight upon her lord. She therefore chalked the doors of all her neighbours in like manner and kept the matter secret, never entrusting it or to master or to mistress.
Meanwhile the robber told his comrades his tale of adventure and how he had found the clue; so the Captain and with him all the band went one after other by different ways till they entered the city ; and he who had placed the mark on Ali Baba's door accompanied the Chief to point out the place. He conducted him straightway to the house and shewing the sign exclaimed, "Here dwelleth he of whom we are in search!"
But when the Captain looked around him he saw that all the dwellings bore chalk-marks after like fashion and he wondered saying, "By what manner of means knowest thou which house of all these houses that bear similar signs is that whereof thou spakest?"
Hereat the robber-guide was confounded beyond measure of confusion, and could make no answer; then with an oath he cried, "I did assuredly set a sign upon a door, but I know not whence came all the marks upon the other entrances; nor can I say for a surety which it was I chalked."
Thereupon the Captain returned to the market-place and said to his men, "We have toiled and laboured in vain, nor have we found the house we went forth to seek. Return we now to the forest our rendezvous: I also will fare thither."
Then all trooped off and assembled together within the treasure-cave; and, when the robbers had all met, the Captain judged him worthy of punishment who had spoken falsely and had led them through the city to no purpose. So he imprisoned him in presence of them all; and then said he, "To him amongst you will I show special favour who shall go to town and bring me intelligence whereby we may lay hands upon the plunderer of our property."
Hereat another of the company came forward and said, "I am ready to go and enquire into the case, and 'tis I who will bring thee to thy wish."
The Captain after giving him presents and promises despatched him upon his errand; and by the decree of Destiny which none may gainsay, this second robber went first to the house of Baba Mustafa the tailor, as had done the thief who had foregone him. In like manner he also persuaded the snip with gifts of golden coin that he be led hoodwinked and thus too he was guided to Ali Baba's door. Here noting the work of his predecessor, he affixed to the jamb a mark with red chalk the better to distinguish it from the others whereon still showed the white. Then hied he back in stealth to his company; but Morgiana on her part also descried the red sign on the entrance and with subtle forethought marked all the others after the same fashion; nor told she any what she had done.
Meanwhile the bandit rejoined his band and vauntingly said, "O our Captain, I have found the house and thereon put a mark whereby I shall distinguish it clearly from all its neighbours."
The Captain despatched another of his men to the city and he found the place, but, as aforetime, when the troop repaired thither they saw each and every house marked with signs of red chalk. So they returned disappointed and the Captain, waxing displeased exceedingly and distraught, clapped also this spy into gaol.
Then said the chief to himself, "Two men have failed in their endeavour and have met their rightful meed of punishment; and I trow that none other of my band will essay to follow up their research; so I myself will go and find the house of this wight."
Accordingly he fared along and aided by the tailor Baba Mustafa, who had gained much gain of golden pieces in this matter, he hit upon the house of Ali Baba; and here he made no outward show or sign, but marked it on the tablet of his heart and impressed the picture upon the page of his memory.
Then returning to the jungle he said to his men, "I have full cognizance of the place and have limned it clearly in my mind ; so now there will be no difficulty in finding it. Go forth straightways and buy me and bring hither nineteen mules together with one large leathern jar of mustard oil and seven and thirty vessels of the same kind clean empty. Without me and the two locked up in gaol ye number thirty-seven souls; so I will stow you away armed and accoutred each within his jar and will load two upon each mule, and upon the nineteenth mule there shall be a man in an empty jar on one side, and on the other the jar full of oil. I for my part, in guise of an oil-merchant, will drive the mules into the town, arriving at the house by night, and will ask permission of its master to tarry there until morning. After this we shall seek occasion during the dark hours to rise up and fall upon him and slay him."
Furthermore the Captain spake saying, "When we have made an end of trim we shall recover the gold and treasure whereof he robbed us and bring it back upon the mules."
This counsel pleased the robbers who went forthwith and purchased mules and huge leathern jars, and did as the Captain had bidden them. And after a delay of three days shortly before nightfall they arose; and over-smearing all the jars with oil of mustard, each hid him inside an empty vessel. The Chief then disguised himself in trader's gear and placed the jars upon the nineteen mules; to wit, the thirty-seven vessels in each of which lay a robber armed and accoutred, and the one that was full of oil. This done, he drove the beasts before him and presently he reached Ali Baba's place at nightfall; when it chanced that the house-master was strolling after supper to and fro in front of his home.
The Captain saluted him with the salam and said, "I come from such and such a village with oil; and ofttimes have I been here a-selling oil, but now to my grief I have arrived too late and I am sore troubled and perplexed as to where I shall spend the night. An thou have pity on me I pray thee grant that I tarry here in thy courtyard and ease the mules by taking down the jars and giving the beasts somewhat of fodder."
Albeit Ali Baba had heard the Captain's voice when perched upon the tree and had seen him enter the cave, yet by reason of the disguise he knew him not for the leader of the thieves, and granted his request with hearty welcome and gave him full license to halt there for the night. He then pointed out an empty shed wherein to tether the mules, and bade one of the slave-boys go fetch grain and water. He also gave orders to the slave-girl Morgiana saying, "A guest hath come hither and tarrieth here to-night. Do thou busy thyself with all speed about his supper and make ready the guestbed for him."
Presently, when the Captain had let down all the jars and had fed and watered his mules, Ali Baba received him with all courtesy and kindness, and summoning Morgiana said in his presence, "See thou fail not in service of this our stranger nor suffer him to lack for aught. To-morrow early I would fare to the Hammam and bathe; so do thou give my slave-boy Abdullah a suit of clean white clothes which I may put on after washing; moreover make thee ready a somewhat of broth overnight that I may drink it after my return home."
Replied she, "I will have all in readiness as thou hast bidden."
So Ali Baba retired to his rest, and the Captain, having supped, repaired to the shed and saw that all the mules had their food and drink for the night.
The Captain, after seeing to the mules and the jars which Ali Baba and his household held to be full of oil, finding utter privacy, whispered to his men who were in ambush, "This night at midnight when ye hear my voice, do you quickly open with your sharp knives the leathern jars from top to bottom and issue forth without delay."
Then passing through the kitchen he reached the chamber wherein a bed had been dispread for him, Morgiana showing the way with a lamp.
Quoth she, "An thou need aught beside I pray thee command this thy slave who is ever ready to obey thy say!"
He made answer, "Naught else need I;" then, putting out the light, he lay him down on the bed to sleep awhile ere the time came to rouse his men and finish off the work.
Meanwhile Morgiana did as her master had bidden her: she first took out a suit of clean white clothes and made it over to Abdullah who had not yet gone to rest; then she placed the pipkin upon the hearth to boil the broth and blew the fire till it burnt briskly. After a short delay she needs must see an the broth be boiling, but by that time all the lamps had gone out and she found that the oil was spent and that nowhere could she get a light.
The slave-boy Abdullah observed that she was troubled and perplexed hereat, and quoth he to her, "Why make so much ado? In yonder shed are many jars of oil: go now and take as much soever as thou listest."
Morgiana gave thanks to him for his suggestion; and Abdullah, who was lying at his ease in the hall, went off to sleep so that he might wake betimes and serve Ali Baba in the bath.
So the handmaiden rose and with oil-can in hand walked to the shed where stood the leathern jars all ranged in rows. Now, as she drew nigh unto one of the vessels, the thief who was hidden therein hearing the tread of footsteps bethought him that it was of his Captain whose summons he awaited; so he whispered, "Is it now time for us to sally forth?"
Morgiana started back affrighted at the sound of human accents; but, inasmuch as she was bold and ready of wit, she replied, "The time is not yet come," and said to herself, "These jars are not full of oil and herein I perceive a manner of mystery. Haply the oil merchant hatcheth some treacherous plot against my lord; so Allah, the Compassionating, the Compassionate, protect us from his snares!"
Wherefore she answered in a voice made like to the Captain's, "Not yet, the time is not come."
Then she went to the next jar and returned the same reply to him who was within, and so on to all the vessels one by one. Then said she in herself, "Laud to the Lord! my master took this fellow in believing him to be an oil-merchant, but lo, he hath admitted a band of robbers, who only await the signal to fall upon him and plunder the place and do him die."
Then passed she on to the furthest jar and finding it brimming with oil, filled her can, and returning to the kitchen, trimmed the lamp and lit the wicks; then, bringing forth a large cauldron, she set it upon the fire, and filling it with oil from out the jar heaped wood upon the hearth and fanned it to a fierce flame the readier to boil its contents. When this was done she baled it out in potfuls and poured it seething hot into the leathern vessels one by one while the thieves unable to escape were scalded to death and every jar contained a corpse.
Thus did this slave-girl by her subtle wit make a clean end of all noiselessly and unknown even to the dwellers m the house. Now when she had satisfied herself that each and every of the men had been slain, she went back to the kitchen and shutting to the door sat brewing Ali Baba's broth.
Scarce had an hour passed before the Captain woke from sleep; and, opening wide his window, saw that all was dark and silent; so he clapped his hands as a signal for his men to come forth but not a sound was heard in return. After awhile he clapped again and called aloud but got no answer; and when he cried out a third time without reply he was perplexed and went out to the shed wherein stood the jars.
He thought to himself, "Perchance all are fallen asleep whenas the time for action is now at hand, so I must e'en awaken them without stay or delay."
Then approaching the nearest jar he was startled by a smell of oil and seething flesh; and touching it outside he felt it reeking hot; then going to the others one by one, he found all in like condition. Hereat he knew for a surety the fate which had betided his band and, fearing for his own safety, he clomb on to the wall, and thence dropping into a garden made his escape in high dudgeon and sore disappointment.
Morgiana awaited awhile to see the Captain return from the shed but he came not; whereat she knew that he had scaled the wall and had taken to flight, for that the street-door was double-locked; and the thieves being all disposed of on this wise Morgiana laid her down to sleep in perfect solace and ease of mind.
When two hours of darkness yet remained, Ali Baba awoke and went to the Hammam knowing naught of the night-adventure, for the gallant slave-girl had not aroused him, nor indeed had she deemed such action expedient, because had she sought an opportunity of reporting to him her plan, she might haply have lost her chance and spoiled the project.
The sun was high over the horizon when Ali Baba walked back from the Baths; and he marvelled exceedingly to see the jars still standing under the shed and said, "How cometh it that he, the oil-merchant my guest, hath not carried to the market his mules and jars of oil?"
Ali Baba presently asked Morgiana what had befallen the oil-merchant his guest whom he had placed under her charge; and she answered, "Allah Almighty vouchsafe to thee six score years and ten of safety! I will tell thee in privacy of this merchant."
So Ali Baba went apart with his slave-girl, who taking him without the house first locked the court-door; then showing him a jar she said, "Prithee look into this and see if within there be oil or aught else."
Thereupon peering inside it he perceived a man at which sight he cried aloud and fain would have fled in his fright.
Quoth Morgiana, "Fear him not, this man hath no longer the force to work thee harm, he lieth dead and stone-dead."
Hearing such words of comfort and reassurance Ali Baba asked, "O Morgiana, what evils have we escaped and by what means hath this wretch become the quarry of Fate?"
She answered "Alhamdolillah -- Praise be to Almighty Allah! -- I will inform thee fully of the case; but hush thee, speak not aloud, lest haply the neighbours learn the secret and it end in our confusion. Look now into all the jars, one by one from first to last."
So Ali Baba examined them severally and found in each a man fully armed and accoutred and all lay scalded to death. Hereat speechless for sheer amazement he stared at the jars, but presently recovering himself he asked, "And where is he, the oil-merchant?"
Answered she, "Of him also I will inform thee. The villain was no trader but a traitorous assassin whose honied words would have ensnared thee to thy doom; and now I will tell thee what he was and what hath happened; but, meanwhile thou art fresh from the Hammam and thou shouldst first drink somewhat of this broth for thy stomach's and thy health's sake."
So Ali Baba went within and Morgiana served up the mess; after which quoth her master, "I fain would hear this wondrous story: prithee tell it to me and set my heart at ease."
Hereat the handmaid fell to relating whatso had betided in these words:
O my master, when thou badest me boil the broth and retiredst to rest, thy slave in obedience to thy command took out a suit of clean white clothes and gave it to the boy Abdullah; then kindled the fire and set on the broth. As soon as it was ready I had need to light a lamp so that I might see to skim it, but all the oil was spent, and, learning this I told my want to the slave-boy Abdullah, who advised me to draw somewhat from the jars which stood under the shed.
Accordingly, I took a can and went to the first vessel when suddenly I heard a voice within whisper with all caution, "Is it now time for us to sally forth?"
I was amazed thereat and judged that the pretended merchant had laid some plot to slay thee; so I replied, "The time is not yet come."
Then I went to the second jar and heard another voice to which I made the like answer, and so on with all of them. I now was certified that these men awaited only some signal from their Chief whom thou didst take to guest within thy walls supposing him to be a merchant in oil; and that after thou receivedst him hospitably the miscreant had brought these men to murther thee and to plunder thy good and spoil thy house. But I gave him no opportunity to win his wish.
The last jar I found full of oil and taking somewhat therefrom I lit the lamp; then, putting a large cauldron upon the fire, I filled it up with oil which I brought from the jar and made a fierce blaze under it; and, when the contents were seething hot, I took out sundry cansful with intent to scald them all to death, and going to each jar in due order, I poured within them one by one boiling oil. On this wise having destroyed them utterly, I returned to the kitchen and having extinguished the lamps stood by the window watching what might happen, and how that false merchant would act next.
Not long after I had taken my station, the robber-captain awoke and ofttimes signalled to his thieves. Then getting no reply he came downstairs and went out to the jars, and finding that all his men were slain he fled through the darkness I know not whither.
So when he had clean disappeared I was assured that, the door being double-locked, he had scaled the wall and dropped into the garden and made his escape. Then with my heart at rest I slept.
And Morgiana, after telling her story to her master, presently added, "This is the whole truth I have related to thee. For some days indeed have I had inkling of such matter, but withheld it from thee deeming it inexpedient to risk the chance of its meeting the neighbours' ears; now, however, there is no help but to tell thee thereof. One day as I came to the house-door I espied thereon a white chalk-mark, and on the next day a red sign beside the white. I knew not the intent wherewith the marks were made, nevertheless I set others upon the entrances of sundry neighbours, judging that some enemy had done this deed whereby to encompass my master's destruction. Therefore I made the marks on all the other doors in such perfect conformity with those I found, that it would be hard to distinguish amongst them."
Morgiana continued to Ali Baba: "Judge now and see if these signs and all this villainy be not the work of the bandits of the forest, who marked our house that on such wise they might know it again. Of these forty thieves there yet remain two others concerning whose case I know naught; so beware of them, but chiefly of the third remaining robber, their Captain, who fled hence alive. Take good heed and be thou cautious of him, for, shouldst thou fall into his hands, he will in no wise spare thee but will surely murther thee. I will do all that lieth in me to save from hurt and harm thy life and property, nor shall thy slave be found wanting in any service to my lord."
Hearing these words Ali Baba rejoiced with exceeding joyance and said to her, "I am well pleased with thee for this thy conduct ; and say me what wouldst thou have me do in thy behalf; I shall not fail to remember thy brave deed so long as breath in me remaineth."
Quoth she, "It behoveth us before all things forthright to bury these bodies in the ground, that so the secret be not known to any one."
Hereupon Ali Baba took with him his slave-boy Abdullah into the garden and there under a tree they dug for the corpses of the thieves a deep pit in size proportionate to its conterits, and they dragged, the bodies (having carried off their weapons) to the fosse and threw them in; then, covering up the remains of the seven and thirty robbers they made the ground appear level and clean as it wont to be. They also hid the leathern jars and the gear and arms and presently Ali Baba sent the mules by ones and twos to the bazar and sold them all with the able aid of his slave-boy Abdullah.
Thus the matter wras hushed up nor did it reach the ears of any; however, Ali Baba ceased not to be ill at ease lest haply the Captain or the surviving two robbers should wreak their vengeance on his head. He kept himself private with all caution and took heed that none learn a word of what had happened and of the wealth which he had carried off from the bandits' cave.
Meanwhile the Captain of the thieves having escaped with his life, fled to the forest in hot wrath and sore irk of mind; and his senses were scattered and the colour of his visage vanished like ascending smoke. Then he thought the matter over again and again, and at last he firmly resolved that he needs must take the life of Ali Baba, else he would lose all the treasure which his enemy, by knowledge of the magical words, would take away and turn to his own use. Furthermore, he determined that he would undertake the business single-handed; and, that after getting rid of Ali Baba, he would gather together another band of banditti and would pursue his career of brigandage, as indeed his forbears had done for many generations.
So he lay down to rest that night, and rising early in the morning donned a dress of suitable appearance; then going to the city alighted at a caravanserai, thinking to himself, "Doubtless the murther of so many men hath reached the Wali's ears, and Ali Baba hath been seized and brought to justice, and his house is levelled and his good is confiscated. The townfolk must surely have heard tidings of these matters."
So he straightway asked of the keeper of the Khan, "What strange things have happened in the city during the last few days?" and the other told him all that he had seen and heard, but the Captain could not learn a whit of that which most concerned him.
Hereby he understood that Ali Baba was ware and wise, and that he had not only carried away such store of treasure but he had also destroyed so many lives and withal had come off scatheless; furthermore, that he himself must needs have all his wits alert not to fall into the hands of his foe and perish.
With this resolve the Captain hired a shop in the Bazar, whither he bore whole bales of the finest stuffs and goodly merchandise from his forest treasure-house; and presently he took his seat within the store and fell to doing merchant's business. By chance his place fronted the booth of the defunct Kasim where his son, Ali Baba's nephew, now traded; and the Captain, who called himself Khwajah Hasan soon formed acquaintance and friendship with the shopkeepers around about him and treated all with profuse civilities, but he was especially gracious and cordial to the son of Kasim, a handsome youth and a well-dressed, and ofttimes he would sit and chat with him for a long while.
A few days after it chanced that Ali Baba, as he was sometime wont to do, came to see his nephew, whom he found sitting in his shop.
The Captain saw and recognised him at sight and one morning he asked the young man, saying, "Prithee tell me, who is he that ever and anon cometh to thee at thy place of sale?" whereto the youth made answer, "He is my uncle, the brother of my father."
Whereupon the Captain showed him yet greater favour and affection the better to deceive him for his own devices, and gave him presents and made him sit at meat with him and fed him with the daintiest of dishes.
Presently Ali Baba's nephew bethought him it was only right and proper that he also should invite the merchant to supper, but whereas his own house was small, and he was straitened for room and could not make a show of splendour, as did Khwajah Hasan, he took counsel with his uncle on the matter.
Ali Baba replied to his nephew: "Thou sayest well: it behoveth thee to entreat thy friend in fairest fashion even as he hath entreated thee. On the morrow, which is Friday, shut thy shop as do all merchants of repute; then, after the early meal, take Khwajah Hasan to smell the air,and as thou walkest lead him hither unawares; meanwhile I will give orders that Morgiana shall make ready for his coming the best of viands and all necessaries for a feast. Trouble not thyself on any wise, but leave the matter in my hands."
Accordingly on the next day, to wit, Friday, the nephew of Ali Baba took Khwajah Hasan to walk about the garden; and, as they were returning he led him by the street wherein his uncle dwelt.
When they came to the house, the youth stopped at the door and knocking said, "O my lord, this is my second home: my uncle hath heard much of thee and of thy goodness mewards and desireth with exceeding desire to see thee; so, shouldst thou consent to enter and visit him, I shall be truly glad and thankful to thee."
Albeit Khwajah Hasan rejoiced in heart that he had thus found means whereby he might have access to his enemy's house and household, and although he hoped soon to attain his end by treachery, yet he hesitated to enter in and stood to make his excuses and walk away. But when the door was opened by the slave-porter, Ali Baba's nephew seized his companion's hand and after abundant persuasion led him in, whereat he entered with great show of cheerfulness as though much pleased and honoured.
The housemaster received him with all favour and worship and asked him of his welfare, and said to him, "O my lord, I am obliged and thankful to thee for that thou hast shewn favour to the son of my brother and I perceive that thou regardest him with an affection even fonder than my own."
Khwajah Hasan replied with pleasant words and said, "Thy nephew vastly taketh my fancy and in him I am well pleased, for that although young in years yet he hath been endued by Allah with much of wisdom."
Thus they twain conversed with friendly conversation and presently the guest rose to depart and said, "O my lord, thy slave must now farewell thee; but on some future day Inshallah he will again wait upon thee,"
Ali Baba, however, would not let him leave and asked, "Whither wendest thou, my friend ? I would invite thee to my table and I pray thee sit at meat with us and after hie thee home in peace. Perchance the dishes are not as delicate as those whereof thou art wont to eat, still deign grant me this request I pray thee and refresh thyself with my victual."
Quoth Khwajah Hasan, "O my lord I am beholden to thee for thy gracious invitation, and with pleasure would I sit at meat with thee, but for a special reason must I needs excuse myself; suffer me therefore to depart for I may not tarry longer nor accept thy gracious offer."
Hereto the host made reply, "I pray thee, O my lord, tell me what may be the reason so urgent and weighty?"
And Khwajah Hasan answered, "The cause is this: I must not, by order of the physician, who cured me lately of my complaint, eat aught of food prepared with salt."
Quoth Ali Baba, "An this be all, deprive me not, I pray thee, of the honour thy company will confer upon me: as the meats are not yet cooked, I will forbid the kitchener to make use of any salt. Tarry here awhile and I will return anon to thee."
So saying Ali Baba went in to Morgiana and bade her not put salt into any one of the dishes; and she, while busied with her cooking, fell to marvelling greatly at such order and asked her master, "Who is he that eateth meat wherein is no salt?"
He answered, "What to thee mattereth it who he may be? Only do thou my bidding."
She rejoined, "'Tis well: all shall be as thou wishest;" but in mind she wondered at the man who made such strange request and desired much to look upon him.
Wherefore, when all the meats were ready for serving up, she helped the slave-boy Abdullah to spread the table and set on the meal; and no sooner did she see Khwajah Hasan than she knew who he was, albeit he had disguised himself in the dress of a stranger merchant; furthermore, when she eyed him attentively she espied a dagger hidden under his robe.
"So ho!" quoth she to herself, "this is the cause why the villain eateth not of salt, for that he seeketh an opportunity to slay my master whose mortal enemy he is; howbeit I will be beforehand with him and despatch him ere he find a chance to harm my lord."
Morgiana, having spread a white cloth upon the table and served up the meal, went back to the kitchen and thought out her plot against the robber-Captain.
Now when Ali Baba and Khwajah Hasan had eaten their sufficiency, the slave-boy Abdullah brought Morgiana word to serve the dessert, and she cleared the table and set on fruit fresh and dried in salvers, then she placed by the side of Ali Baba a small tripod for three cups with a flagon of wine, and lastly she went off with the slave-boy Abdullah into another room, as though she would herself eat supper.
Then Khwajah Hasan, that is, the Captain of the robbers, perceiving that the coast was clear, exulted mightily saying to himself, "The time hath come for me to take full vengeance; with one thrust of my dagger I will despatch this fellow, then escape across the garden and wend my ways. His nephew will not adventure to stay my hand, for an he do but move a finger or toe with that intent another stab will settle his earthly account. Still must I wait awhile until the slave-boy and the cook-maid shall have eaten and lain down to rest them in the kitchen."
Morgiana, however, watched him wistfully and divining his purpose said in her mind, "I must not allow this villain advantage over my lord, but by some means I must make void his project and at once put an end to the life of him."
Accordingly, the trusty slave-girl changed her dress with all haste and donned such clothes as dancers wear; she veiled her face with a costly kerchief; around her head she bound a fine turband, and about her middle she tied a waist-cloth worked with gold and silver wherein she stuck a dagger, whose hilt was rich in filigree and jewelry.
Thus disguised she said to the slave-boy Abdullah, "Take now thy tambourine that we may play and sing and dance in honour of our master's guest."
So he did her bidding and the twain went into the room, the lad playing and the lass following. Then, making a low congee, they asked leave to perform and disport and play; and Ali Baba gave permission, saying, "Dance now and do your best that this our guest may be mirthful and merry."
Quoth Khwajah Hasan, "O my lord, thou dost indeed provide much pleasant entertainment."
Then the slave-boy Abdullah standing by began to strike the tambourine whilst Morgiana rose up and showed her perfect art and pleased them vastly with graceful steps and sportive motion; and suddenly drawing the poniard from her belt she brandished it and paced from side to side, a spectacle which pleased them most of all. At times also she stood before them, now clapping the sharp-edged dagger under her armpit and then setting it against her breast. Lastly she took the tambourine from the slave-boy Abdullah, and still holding the poniard in her right she went round for largesse as is the custom amongst merry-makers.
First she stood before Ali Baba who threw a gold coin into the tambourine, and his nephew likewise put in an Ashrafi; then Khwajah Hasan, seeing her about to approach him, fell to pulling out his purse, when she heartened her heart and quick as the blinding leven she plunged the dagger into his vitals, and forthwith the miscreant fell back stone-dead.
Ali Baba was dismayed and cried in his wrath, "O unhappy, what is this deed thou hast done to bring about my ruin!"
But she replied, "Nay, O my lord, rather to save thee and not to cause thee harm have I slain this man: loosen his garments and see what thou wilt discover thereunder."
So Ali Baba searched the dead man's dress and found concealed therein a dagger.
Then said Morgiana, "This wretch was thy deadly enemy. Consider him well: he is none other than the oil merchant, the Captain of the band of robbers. Whenas he came hither with intent to take thy life, he would not eat thy salt; and when thou toldest me that he wished not any in the meat I suspected him and at first sight I was assured that he would surely do thee die; Almighty Allah be praised 'tis even as I thought."
Then Ali Babi lavished upon her thanks and expressions of gratitude, saying, "Lo, these two times hast thou saved me from his hand," and falling upon her neck he cried, "See thou art free, and as reward for this thy fealty I have wedded thee to my nephew."
Then turning to the youth he said, "Do as I bid thee and thou shalt prosper. I would that thou marry Morgiana, who is a model of duty and loyalty: thou seest now yon Khwajah Hasan sought thy friendship only that he might find opportunity to take my life, but this maiden with her good sense and her wisdom hath slain him and saved us."
Ali Baba's nephew straightway consented to marry Morgiana. After which the three, raising the dead body bore it forth with all heed and vigilance and privily buried it in the garden, and for many years no one knew aught thereof.
In due time Ali Baba married his brother's son to Morgiana with great pomp, and spread a bride-feast in most sumptuous fashion for his friends and neighbours, and made merry with them and enjoyed singing and all manner of dancing and amusements. He prospered in every undertaking and Time smiled upon him and a new source of wealth was opened to him. For fear of the thieves he had not once visited the jungle-cave wherein lay the treasure, since the day he had carried forth the corpse of his brother Kasim. But some time after, he mounted his hackney one morning and journeyed thither, with all care and caution, till finding no signs of man or horse, and reassured in his mind he ventured to draw near the door.
Then alighting from his beast he tied it up to a tree, and going to the entrance pronounced the words which he had not forgotten, "Open, O Simsim!"
Hereat, as was its wont, the door flew open, and entering thereby he saw the goods and hoard of gold and silver untouched and lying as he had left them. So he felt assured that not one of all the thieves remained alive, and, that save himself there was not a soul who knew the secret of the place. At once he bound in his saddlecloth a load of Ashrafis such as his horse could bear and brought it home; and in after days he showed the hoard to his sons and sons' sons and taught them how the door could be caused to open and shut.
Thus Ali Baba and his household lived all their lives in wealth and joyance in that city where erst he had been a pauper, and by the blessing of that secret treasure he rose to high degree and dignities.
Source: Richard F. Burton, Supplemental Nights to the Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night, Shammar edition, vol. 4 (Printed by the Burton Club for private subscribers, 1886),pp. 369-402.
Once upon a time there were two brothers. One was very rich and had four children, the other was very poor and had seven children.
One day the poor man's wife went to the rich man and said to him, "I am very wretched, for I have not enough bread for my children. I take a little meal and I mix it with a great deal of bran and so manage to make bread. It is well nigh a year since my children have had any relish with their meals; they get nothing but bread and water."
He answered her: "And yet your children are so strong, while mine, with all their feeding and the comforts they enjoy, are always ailing!"
The poor woman said, "God has given us poverty and hunger, but thanks be to Heaven, our children are hale and hearty. Now, therefore, I have come to beg you, if you have any work, not to send for anyone but me, so may God send health to your children!" and as she spoke these words, the tears ran from her eyes like a river.
Then he called his wife and said to her: "Have we any work for her to come and do for us daily, so that she may not sit idle?"
His wife answered him: "Let her come twice a week and knead bread for us."
When she heard these words she was glad, for she thought at once, that when she kneaded that fine white bread they would give her some of it, and her poor children would eat and rejoice. So she rose to go away.
And they said to her: "Good-bye, and remember to come tomorrow morning."
Thus they bade her farewell without giving her a scrap of anything.
As she set off home she said to herself, "Would that I were rich, that I might open my cupboard, and bring forth a bit of cheese, or a piece of bread, or at least a little rice, or such like household store to gladden the hearts of the poor!" and lifting her hands to heaven she said: "Why, oh my God, hast thou made me so poor?"
And so she went weeping home where her children were waiting for her ever so eagerly, hoping she might bring them something.
But alas, poor thing, she came with empty hands.
The next day she went very early in the morning to the rich man's house to knead bread, and when she had kneaded it and ended her work, they bade her farewell and told her to be sure and come next time, without giving her so much as a cup of cold water.
As soon as she came home the children said to her: " Have you brought us anything, mother?"
"No!" she said. "Maybe, when they have done baking they will send us a bit of bread."
But in vain she waited, and when evening came not a loaf nor a plate of anything to eat appeared.
In two or three days they sent word for her to come and knead again, for they liked her kneading much. Then the poor woman arose and went again; and as she was kneading the thought came into her head, not to wash her hands till she got home, and then to wash them in a dish, and to give the wash to her children instead of plain water.
So as soon as she had done kneading, she hurried away, and when she got home she said to her children, "Wait till I give you a little milk-soup."
And washing her hands well of the dough, she filled a good dish, and gave each one a little to drink.
And they liked it so much that they said, "Mother, whenever you go to knead, mind you bring us some of that broth to drink."
A month passed while she went on at this work. And it seems that God blessed her children, for they grew fatter than ever.
One day as the rich man was passing by the poor man's house, he put his head in at the door and said, "How do you do here?"
Then he turns and looks at all the children, and is amazed to see how fat they seem; and going out at the door in a rage, he went home to his wife and called her: "Come here and tell me what you give to my sister-in-law who comes to knead for us."
Now she was frightened at the way he shouted at her and said, "I never gave her anything yet, because I am so afraid of giving her too much and your scolding me."
Says he, "You must have given her something, for her children are so fat they look as if they would burst."
Then she swore an oath and said, "She takes nothing away with her but her unwashed hands and she washes them at home, and gives the wash to her children to drink."
When he heard that he said, "Put a stop to that too."
So the next day when the woman went to knead, her mistress waited until she had finished, and when she had done, said to her, "Wash your hands well and then go."
When the poor woman heard that her countenance fell, and she quailed with grief to think how she should go to her children, and they would beg the milk-soup of her.
When she came to her house her children were gathered together awaiting her, and as soon as they saw her come in they all cried with one voice: "What have you got, mother?"
"Nothing, children; I forgot myself and washed my hands!"
All the children began to weep and to cry, "How could you so forget us, as not to bring us that beautiful broth?"
While they were thus weeping and wailing, the father entered the house and said, "What ails the children that they cry?"
Then she told him all that had happened, and he was sorely grieved, and made up his mind to kill himself, and so that his wife might not guess his purpose, he asked her for a bag to go to the hill and gather herbs. She gave it him, and he went away. And as he wandered about bewildered for a long while, he found himself at the top of a high crag, and there he made up his mind to fling himself down and die.
Then he spied facing the crag a great castle, and he said to himself, "Before I kill myself, I may as well go and see what that castle is like."
And drawing near he saw a tree, and he climbed up into it to see who lived in the castle. After a little while he looked, and behold, a number of dragons came out ! He counted them, and they were forty-nine. When the dragons were gone, they left the door open, for that was always their custom. So he climbed down from the tree and went into the castle and walked about it, and saw that it contained much treasure. Then he took his bag and filled it with as much as his back could carry, and went away at once, for he feared lest the dragons should catch him.
When they came back they perceived that a thief had been and stolen some of their money, and from henceforth they determined that one of them should always stay behind in the castle. The poor man returned to the town two days later, and found his wife weeping and refusing to be comforted, for she feared that his affliction had led him to go and kill himself. But when she saw him come back she praised God because he came alive.
Then said her husband to her, "Wife, God has taken pity on our children and on you, who made bread so long at my brother's house, though they never gave you a morsel to feed our little ones. See, here we have enough to live for some time." And opening his bag he showed her the coins.
She was a pious woman, so she said, "The first thing you must buy is some oil that we may light a lamp to our Lady, which we have not done for so long."
And her husband hearkened unto her and straightway went and bought oil, and when they had lighted the lamp they prayed with all their hearts and with tears in their eyes.
The next day her husband arose, and the first thing he did was to buy a house; and he moved into it with his homely furniture and his poor children.
On the first evening he said to his wife, "From day to day we will buy what we want for the house, but nothing more, for we must bear in mind how you used to give milk-soup to the children to drink, to save them from dying of hunger."
"Yes," said she, "I will never ask you for anything that we do not want."
Two months passed during which these people lived happily. They did nothing else but go to church and help the poor. One day, then, the wife of the rich man came to visit her poor kinswoman, for she had heard from many that she was now well off, and she herself had begun to suffer misfortune; all her sheep had died, her fields had brought forth no crops, the frost had bitten many of her trees, and she had met with many other mishaps.
When the poor woman saw her without being in the least affronted to think how little she had helped her in her own misery, she welcomed her joyfully, and gave her the best seat, and put before her the best things she had to eat in the house; whereas the other, when she went, had only received her in the kitchen, and never asked her to sit down!
After some time, she said, "Sister, pray tell me, where has your husband found work, that my husband may try and find some too, for we have fallen into great distress."
And the poor woman answered her, "My husband has not got any employment, but the day you made me wash my hands he went away -- " and then she told her all that had happened.
Then the rich woman asked her to take her husband and show him the dragons.
"Perhaps," said she, "we, too, may thus find succour."
And the poor one said to her, "When my husband comes this evening I will tell him, and your husband can go tomorrow, with a bag, along with him."
When the poor man came home at nightfall, his wife told him what had passed, and he said to her, "I will go and show him the place, but I will not go to gather more treasures for myself, for this which I have God blesses, and it grows from day to day."
Next morning the rich man came with his bag on his back, and said to him, "Good morrow, brother, how do you do? Are you well?" Whereas at other times, if he saw his brother in the way he would turn his back upon him, or take another road, so as not to hear him say that he wanted any help.
But when the poor man saw him he got up and kissed him, and said, "Welcome, brother; I daresay it's ten years since I had the happiness of seeing you enter my house."
"Yes," said the rich one, "but now I have fallen into distress, and know not what to do."
Says the poor man, "Let us go; perhaps you will have good luck yet, and get as rich as ever."
So they set off for the hill. And when they got there he showed him the tree, and said to him, "Go aloft and sit in the tree, and soon the dragons will come out. Count them. If there are forty-nine you can come down and enter the castle free from fear; but if, peradventure, they are but forty-eight, do not go in."
With these words he went away. In a little while the dragons came out, and he began to count them. But it seems he counted them wrong, and instead of saying forty-eight he said forty-nine. So he came down as fast as he could and went into the castle, and eagerly looked about to see where the treasure was, that he might fill his bag and be gone with all speed, and as he stood there he heard a voice saying, "So you are the thief, and have come back to steal more!"
And lo! out comes the dragon which had been watching in a room close by, and seizes him by the head and makes four quarters of him, and hangs them up at the four corners of the dwelling.
When the dragons came home, he said to them, "There's no need to keep watch any longer, for I have hung up the four quarters of the thief, and they will guard our castle for us!"
And from that day forward they determined, none of them to stay at home, but all of them to go out, and so they began to do.
When two days had passed away the wife of the rich man got restless, and went to the house of her brother-in-law to ask him what they had done with her husband.
But the poor man told her what directions he had given him, and said, "I don't know whether he has counted the dragons right, but I will go and see."
And off he went. When he came near to the castle, he got up into the tree, and when the dragons came out he counted them with great care, and they were forty-nine in all. Then he came down and went into the castle and looked right and left for his brother. And raising his eyes he looked aloft and beheld his brother hanging in four quarters, and he was sore amazed. Then he lost no time in taking him down, filling his bag with money and going away.
When he got home he felt very weary and sad, and said to his wife, "Send someone to my sister-in-law's to tell her to come and take charge of her husband."
And when she came she wept, and would not be comforted on beholding her husband cut into four quarters.
Then she said to the poor man, "You must find me a tailor to sew him together, for I cannot bury him like that in four pieces."
The poor man went out at once and got a tailor, who sewed him together.
When they had buried and bewailed him, the poor man opened the bag and gave his sister-in-law half the money, and said to her, "Go and get succour for yourself and your children, and if you are in want again, do not blush to come and ask me for what you need."
The widow went home with tears in her eyes. Let us leave them and return to the dragons.
When they reached their castle and found the dead man was gone, they all cried aloud, "So the thief has an accomplice!"
The next day, therefore, they went into the town and sought for a tailor to make them forty-nine coats and forty-nine pairs of shoes.
So they said to the tailor, "Mind you sew them well so that the stitches don't come out and that they fit us nicely!"
And they said it over and over again till the tailor got angry and said to them, "Here's a fuss! Why yesterday I had to sew a dead man, who was in four bits, together, and they were quite satisfied with the job, though it was out of my line, and you with your coats are like to craze me!"
Then they said to him, "Pray do you know the man who brought you the dead man to sew?"
Said he, "Of course I do, he lives quite close, and if you like I will show you his house, so that you can go and ask him, whether the dead man was well sewed or not."
So he took a dragon with him, and after walking twenty good paces, he showed them the shop.
Then they went away to a joiner's, and ordered forty-eight chests, just big enough for them to get into. When they were finished, the forty-eight dragons got inside, and the forty-ninth remained outside. And in the morning the dragon went to the poor man's place, and said to him, "I have had forty-eight chests sent me and I want you to be so kind as to let me leave them here for the night."
"Not for one night only," he answered, "but let them stay as long as you like, and until it suits you to take them away."
And he got porters to bring them in. Then the children of the poor man began to get upon the chests, and jump about, and play on them; and the dragons who were inside, from time to time, groaned and said, "Ah, would it were dark that we might eat them all."
One of the children was playing hide-and-seek with the rest, and he heard these words and these groanings. So he ran to his father and said: "Those chests are bewitched; they are talking."
Then the father thought a moment, and said, "Forty-eight! and the one that brought them makes forty-nine."
And he went close up to the chests, and put his ear at the key-hole, and he, too, heard the groaning. So he said to himself, "Now, monsters, I'll make sure of you, now that I have got you in my power."
So off he set at once, and went and bought forty-eight spits, and lighted his kitchen fire, and put them in, and made them red hot, and took them one by one, and thrust them into all the chests.
Then he said to his servant, "Look here, my man, they have played us a trick, and put a dragon in a chest, and if we had not killed it, it would have eaten us all up."
The servant was angry, and said to his master, "Give it me, and let me go sink it by the sea shore?"
And he took it on his back, and threw it on to the beach. While he was on his way back, his master made ready another one, and said, "You did not throw it far enough out to sea, and it has come back."
And as often as he returned he did the same with all, and threw them into the sea. But when he got to the last one he grew tired of always coming back and finding one there again, so he walked right into the sea, and plunged it in deep, and when he got back to the shop he called out: "Master, is it back again?"
And his master answered, "No, no, it has not come back. You must have thrown it in very deep."
"Aye, master," said he, "I went right into the sea, and plunged it in, and left it."
In the morning the dragon came to see what had become of the chests, and the merchant cunningly told him that one chest was found open, "and I don't know," says he, "what you had inside."
He was seized with fear, and went to look at the chests, which were in the back part of the shop. And he found the chest was indeed open, and he trembled. The merchant lost no time, but seized him and flung him into the chest, and made it fast forthwith, and straightway spitted him, and so they were all done for.
And the man himself inherited the dragon's castle, and lived there as happy as a prince, and may we live happier still.
Source: Edmund Martin Geldart, Folk-Lore of Modern Greece: The Tales of the People (London: W. Swan Sonnenschein and Company, 1884), pp. 9-17.
It is related that there was, in tide of yore and in times and years long gone before, at Damascus of Syria, a Caliph known as Abd al-Malik bin Marwan, the fifth of the Ommiade house. As this Commander of the Faithful was seated one day in his palace, conversing with his Sultans and Kings and the Grandees of his empire, the talk turned upon the legends of past peoples and the traditions of our lord Solomon, David's son (on the twain be peace!), and on that which Allah Almighty had bestowed on him of lordship and dominion over men and Jinn and birds and beasts and reptiles and the wind and other created things; and quoth the Caliph, "Of a truth we hear from those who forewent us that the Lord (extolled and exalted be He!) vouchsafed unto none the like of that which He vouchsafed unto our lord Solomon and that he attained unto that whereto never attained other than he, in that he was wont to imprison Jinns and Marids and Satans in cucurbites of copper and to stop them with lead and seal them with his ring."—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Five Hundred and Sixty-seventh Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Caliph Abd al-Malik bin Marwan sat conversing with his Grandees concerning our lord Solomon, and these noted what Allah had bestowed upon him of lordship and dominion, quoth the Commander of the Faithful, "Indeed he attained unto that whereto never attained other than he, in that he was wont to imprison Jinns and Marids and Satans in cucurbites of copper and stop them with lead and seal them with his ring." Then said Talib bin Sahl (who was a seeker after treasures and had books that discovered to him hoards and wealth hidden under the earth), "O Commander of the Faithful,—Allah make thy dominion to endure and exalt thy dignity here and hereafter!—my father told me of my grandfather, that he once took ship with a company, intending for the island of Sikiliyah or Sicily, and sailed until there arose against them a contrary wind, which drove them from their course and brought them, after a month, to a great mountain in one of the lands of Allah the Most High, but where that land was they wot not. Quoth my grandfather:—This was in the darkness of the night and as soon as it was day, there came forth to us, from the caves of the mountain, folk black of colour and naked of body, as they were wild beasts, understanding not one word of what was addressed to them; nor was there any of them who knew Arabic, save their King who was of their own kind. When he saw the ship, he came down to it with a company of his followers and saluting us, bade us welcome and questioned us of our case and our faith. We told him all concerning ourselves and he said, Be of good cheer for no harm shall befal you.' And when we, in turn, asked them of their faith, we found that each was of one of the many creeds prevailing before the preaching of Al-Islam and the mission of Mohammed, whom may Allah bless and keep! So my shipmates remarked, We wot not what thou sayest.' Then quoth the King, No Adam-son hath ever come to our land before you: but fear not, and rejoice in the assurance of safety and of return to your own country.' Then he entertained us three days, feeding us on the flesh of birds and wild beasts and fishes, than which they had no other meat; and, on the fourth day, he carried us down to the beach, that we might divert ourselves by looking upon the fisher- folk. There we saw a man casting his net to catch fish, and presently he pulled them up and behold, in them was a cucurbite of copper, stopped with lead and sealed with the signet of Solomon, son of David, on whom be peace! He brought the vessel to land and broke it open, when there came forth a smoke, which rose a-twisting blue to the zenith, and we heard a horrible voice, saying, I repent! I repent! Pardon, O Prophet of Allah! I will never return to that which I did aforetime.' Then the smoke became a terrible Giant frightful of form, whose head was level with the mountain-tops, and he vanished from our sight, whilst our hearts were well-nigh torn out for terror; but the blacks thought nothing of it. Then we returned to the King and questioned him of the matter; whereupon quoth he, Know that this was one of the Jinns whom Solomon, son of David, being wroth with them, shut up in these vessels and cast into the sea, after stopping the mouths with melted lead. Our fishermen ofttimes, in casting their nets, bring up such bottles, which being broken open, there come forth of them Jinnis who, deeming that Solomon is still alive and can pardon them, make their submission to him and say, I repent, O Prophet of Allah!'" The Caliph marvelled at Talib's story and said, "Glory be to God! Verily, to Solomon was given a mighty dominion." Now al-Nábighah al-Zubyání was present, and he said, "Talib hath spoken soothly as is proven by the saying of the All-wise, the Primćval One,
And Solomon, when Allah to him said, * Rise, be thou Caliph,
rule with righteous sway:
Honour obedience for obeying thee; * And who rebels imprison him
Wherefore he used to put them in copper-bottles and cast them into the sea." The poet's words seemed good to the Caliph, and he said, "By Allah, I long to look upon some of these Solomonic vessels, which must be a warning to whoso will be warned." "O Commander of the Faithful," replied Talib, "it is in thy power to do so, without stirring abroad. Send to thy brother Abd al-Aziz bin Marwán, so he may write to Músá bin Nusayr, governor of the Maghrib or Morocco, bidding him take horse thence to the mountains whereof I spoke and fetch thee therefrom as many of such cucurbites as thou hast a mind to; for those mountains adjoin the frontiers of his province." The Caliph approved his counsel and said "Thou hast spoken sooth, O Talib, and I desire that, touching this matter, thou be my messenger to Musa bin Nusayr; wherefore thou shalt have the White Flag and all thou hast a mind to of monies and honour and so forth; and I will care for thy family during thine absence." "With love and gladness, O Commander of the Faithful!" answered Talib. "Go, with the blessing of Allah and His aid," quoth the Caliph, and bade write a letter to his brother, Abd al-Aziz, his viceroy in Egypt, and another to Musa bin Nusayr, his viceroy in North Western Africa, bidding him go himself in quest of the Solomonic bottles, leaving his son to govern in his stead. Moreover, he charged him to engage guides and to spare neither men nor money, nor to be remiss in the matter as he would take no excuse. Then he sealed the two letters and committed them to Talib bin Sahl, bidding him advance the royal ensigns before him and make his utmost speed and he gave him treasure and horsemen and footmen, to further him on his way, and made provision for the wants of his household during his absence. So Talib set out and arrived in due course at Cairo.—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Five Hundred and Sixty-eighth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Talib bin Sahl set out with his escort and crossed the desert country between Syria and Egypt, where the Governor came out to meet him and entreated him and his company with high honour whilst they tarried with him. Then he gave them a guide to bring them to the Sa'íd or Upper Egypt, where the Emir Musa had his abiding-place; and when the son of Nusayr heard of Talib's coming, he went forth to meet him and rejoiced in him. Talib gave him the Caliph's letter, and he took it reverently and, laying it on his head, cried, "I hear and I obey the Prince of the Faithful." Then he deemed it best to assemble his chief officers and when all were present he acquainted them with the contents of the Caliph's letter and sought counsel of them how he should act. "O Emir," answered they, "if thou seek one who shall guide thee to the place summon the Shaykh 'Abd al-Samad, ibn 'Abd al-Kuddús, al- Samúdí; for he is a man of varied knowledge, who hath travelled much and knoweth by experience all the seas and wastes and words and countries of the world and the inhabitants and wonders thereof; wherefore send thou for him and he will surely guide thee to thy desire." So Musa sent for him, and behold, he was a very ancient man shot in years and broken down with lapse of days. The Emir saluted him and said, "O Shaykh Abd al-Samad, our lord the Commander of the Faithful, Abd al-Malik bin Marwan' hath commanded me thus and thus. I have small knowledge of the land wherein is that which the Caliph desireth; but it is told me that thou knowest it well and the ways thither. Wilt thou, therefore, go with me and help me to accomplish the Caliph's need? So it please Allah the Most High, thy trouble and travail shall not go waste." Replied the Shaykh, "I hear and obey the bidding of the Commander of the Faithful; but know, O Emir, that the road thither is long and difficult and the ways few." "How far is it?" asked Musa, and the Shaykh answered, "It is a journey of two years and some months going and the like returning; and the way is full of hardships and terrors and things wondrous and marvellous. Now thou art a champion of the Faith and our country is hard by that of the enemy; and peradventure the Nazarenes may come out upon us in thine absence; wherefore it behoveth thee to leave one to rule thy government in thy stead." "It is well," answered the Emir and appointed his son Hárún Governor during his absence, requiring the troops to take the oath of fealty to him and bidding them obey him in all he should commend. And they heard his words and promised obedience. Now this Harun was a man of great prowess and a renowned warrior and a doughty knight, and the Shaykh Abd al-Samad feigned to him that the place they sought was distant but four months' journey along the shore of the sea, with camping-places all the way, adjoining one another, and grass and springs, adding, "Allah will assuredly make the matter easy to us through thy blessing, O Lieutenant of the Commander of the Faithful!" Quoth the Emir Musa, "Knowest thou if any of the Kings have trodden this land before us?"; and quoth the Shaykh, "Yes, it belonged aforetime to Darius the Greek, King of Alexandria." But he said to Musa privily, "O Emir, take with thee a thousand camels laden with victual and store of gugglets." The Emir asked, "And what shall we do with these?", and the Shaykh answered. "On our way is the desert of Kayrwán or Cyrene, the which is a vast wold four days' journey long, and lacketh water; nor therein doth sound of voice ever sound nor is soul at any time to be seen. Moreover, there bloweth the Simoon, and other hot winds called Al-Juwayb, which dry up the water-skins; but if the water be in gugglets, no harm can come to it." "Right," said Musa and sending to Alexandria, let bring thence great plenty of gugglets. Then he took with him his Wazir and two thousand cavalry, clad in mail cap-á-pie and set out, without other to guide them but Abd al-Samad who forewent them, riding on his hackney. The party fared on diligently, now passing through inhabited lands, then ruins and anon traversing frightful words and thirsty wastes and then mountains which spired high in air; nor did they leave journeying a whole year's space till, one morning, when the day broke, after they had travelled all night, behold, the Shaykh found himself in a land he knew not and said, "There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!" Quoth the Emir, "What is to do, O Shaykh?"; and he answered, saying, "By the Lord of the Ka'abah, we have wandered from our road!" "How cometh that?" asked Musa, and Abd al-Samad replied, "The stars were overclouded and I could not guide myself by them." "Where on God's earth are we now?" asked the Emir, and the Shaykh answered, "I know not; for I never set eyes on this land till this moment." Said Musa, "Guide us back to the place where we went astray", but the other, "I know it no more." Then Musa, "Let us push on; haply Allah will guide us to it or direct us aright of His power." So they fared on till the hour of noon-prayer, when they came to a fair champaign, and wide and level and smooth as it were the sea when calm, and presently there appeared to them, on the horizon some great thing, high and black, in whose midst was as it were smoke rising to the confines of the sky. They made for this, and stayed not in their course till they drew near thereto, when, lo! it was a high castle, firm of foundations and great and gruesome, as it were a towering mountain, builded all of black stone, with frowning crenelles and a door of gleaming China steel, that dazzled the eyes and dazed the wits. Round about it were a thousand steps and that which appeared afar off as it were smoke was a central dome of lead an hundred cubits high. When the Emir saw this, he marvelled thereat with exceeding marvel and how this place was void of inhabitants; and the Shaykh, after he had certified himself thereof, said, "There is no god but the God and Mohammed is the Apostle of God!" Quoth Musa, "I hear thee praise the Lord and hallow Him, and meseemeth thou rejoicest." "O Emir," answered Abd al-Samad, "Rejoice, for Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) hath delivered us from the frightful words and thirsty wastes." "How knowest thou that?" said Musa, and the other, "I know it for that my father told me of my grandfather that he said, We were once journeying in this land and, straying from the road, we came to this palace and thence to the City of Brass; between which and the place thou seekest is two full months' travel; but thou must take to the sea-shore and leave it not, for there be watering-places and wells and camping-grounds established by King Zú al-Karnayn Iskandar who, when he went to the conquest of Mauritania, found by the way thirsty deserts and wastes and wilds and dug therein water-pits and built cisterns.' " Quoth Musa, "Allah rejoice thee with good news!" and quoth the Shaykh, "Come, let us go look upon yonder palace and its marvels, for it is an admonition to whose will be admonished." So the Emir went up to the palace, with the Shaykh and his officers, and coming to the gate, found it open. Now this gate was builded with lofty columns and porticoes whose walls and ceilings were inlaid with gold and silver and precious stones; and there led up to it flights of steps, among which were two wide stairs of coloured marble, never was seen their like; and over the doorway was a tablet whereon were graven letters of gold in the old ancient Ionian character. "O Emir," asked the Shaykh, "Shall I read?"; and Musa answered, "Read and God bless thee!; for all that betideth us in this journey dependeth upon thy blessing." So the Shaykh, who was a very learned man and versed in all tongues and characters, went up to the tablet and read whatso was thereon and it was verse like this,
"The signs that here their mighty works portray * Warn us that
all must tread the self-same way:
O thou who standest in this stead to hear * Tidings of folk,
whose power hath passed for aye,
Enter this palace-gate and ask the news * Of greatness fallen
into dust and clay:
Death has destroyed them and dispersed their might * And in the
dust they lost their rich display;
As had they only set their burdens down * To rest awhile, and
then had rode away."
When the Emir Musa heard these couplets, he wept till he lost his senses and said, "There is no god but the God, the Living, the Eternal, who ceaseth not!" Then he entered the palace and was confounded at its beauty and the goodliness of its construction. He diverted himself awhile by viewing the pictures and images therein, till he came to another door, over which also were written verses, and said to the Shaykh, "Come read me these!" So he advanced and read as follows,
"Under these domes how many a company * Halted of old and fared
See thou what might displays on other wights * Time with his
shifts which could such lords waylay:
They shared together what they gathered * And left their joys and
fared to Death-decay:
What joys they joyed! what food they ate! and now * In dust
they're eaten, for the worm a prey."
At this the Emir Musa wept bitter tears; and the world waxed yellow before his eyes and he said, "Verily, we were created for a mighty matter!" Then they proceeded to explore the palace and found it desert and void of living thing, its courts desolate and dwelling places waste laid. In the midst stood a lofty pavilion with a dome rising high in air, and about it were four hundred tombs, builded of yellow marble. The Emir drew near unto these and behold, amongst them was a great tomb, wide and long; and at its head stood a tablet of white marble, whereon were graven these couplets,
"How oft have I fought! and how many have slain! * How much have
I witnessed of blessing and bane!
How much have I eaten! how much have I drunk! * How oft have I
hearkened to singing-girl's strain!
How much have I bidden! how oft have forbid! * How many a castle
I have sieged and have searched, and the cloistered maids * In
the depths of its walls for my captives were ta'en!
But of ignorance sinned I to win me the meeds * Which won proved
naught and brought nothing of gain:
Then reckon thy reck'ning, O man, and be wise * Ere the goblet of
death and of doom thou shalt drain;
For yet but a little the dust on thy head * They shall strew, and
thy life shall go down to the dead."
The Emir and his companions wept; then, drawing near unto the pavilion, they saw that it had eight doors of sandal-wood, studded with nails of gold and stars of silver and inlaid with all manner precious stones. On the first door were written these verses,
"What I left, I left it not for nobility of soul, * But through
sentence and decree that to every man are dight.
What while I lived happy, with a temper haught and high, * My
hoarding-place defending like a lion in the fight,
I took no rest, and greed of gain forbad me give a grain * Of
mustard seed to save from the fires of Hell my sprite,
Until stricken on a day, as with arrow, by decree * Of the Maker,
the Fashioner, the Lord of Might and Right.
When my death was appointed, my life I could not keep * By the
many of my stratagems, my cunning and my sleight:
My troops I had collected availed me not, and none * Of my
friends and of my neighbours had power to mend my plight:
Through my life I was weaned in journeying to death * In stress
or in solace, in joyance or despight:
So when money-bags are bloated, and dinar unto dinar * Thou
addest, all may leave thee with fleeting of the night:
And the driver of a camel and the digger of a grave* Are
what thine heirs shall bring ere the morning dawneth bright:
And on Judgment Day alone shalt thou stand before thy Lord, *
Overladen with thy sins and thy crimes and thine affright:
Let the world not seduce thee with lurings, but behold * What
measure to thy family and neighbours it hath doled."
When Musa heard these verses, he wept with such weeping that he swooned away; then, coming to himself, he entered the pavilion and saw therein a long tomb, awesome to look upon, whereon was a tablet of China steel and Shaykh Abd al-Samad drew near it and read this inscription: "In the name of Ever-lasting Allah, the Never-beginning, the Never-ending; in the name of Allah who begetteth not nor is He begot and unto whom the like is not; in the name of Allah the Lord of Majesty and Might; in the name of the Living One who to death is never dight!"—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Five Hundred and Sixty-ninth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Shaykh Abd al-Samad, having read the aforesaid, also found the following, "O thou who comest to this place, take warning by that which thou seest of the accidents of Time and the vicissitudes of Fortune and be not deluded by the world and its pomps and vanities and fallacies and falsehoods and vain allurements, for that it is flattering, deceitful end treacherous, and the things thereof are but a loan to us which it will borrow back from all borrowers. It is like unto the dreams of the dreamer and the sleep-visions of the sleeper or as the mirage of the desert, which the thirsty take for water; and Satan maketh it fair for men even unto death These are the ways of the world; wherefore put not thou thy trust therein neither incline thereto, for it betrayeth him who leaneth upon it and who committeth himself thereunto in his affairs. Fall not thou into its snares neither take hold upon its skirts, but be warned by my example. I possessed four thou sand bay horses and a haughty palace, and I had to wife a thou sand daughters of kings, high-bosomed maids, as they were moons: I was blessed with a thousand sons as they were fierce lions, and I abode a thousand years, glad of heart and mind, and I amassed treasures beyond the competence of all the Kings of the regions of the earth, deeming that delight would still endure to me. But there fell on me unawares the Destroyer of delights and the Sunderer of societies, the Desolator of domiciles and the Spoiler of inhabited spots, the Murtherer of great and small, babes and children and mothers, he who hath no ruth on the poor for his poverty, or feareth the King for all his bidding or forbidding. Verily, we abode safe and secure in this palace, till there descended upon us the judgment of the Lord of the Three Worlds, Lord of the Heavens, and Lord of the Earths, the vengeance of the Manifest Truth overtook us, when there died of us every day two, till a great company of us had perished. When I saw that destruction had entered our dwellings and had homed with us and in the sea of deaths had drowned us, I summoned a writer and bade him indite these verses and instances and admonitions, the which I let grave, with rule and compass, on these doors and tablets and tombs. Now I had an army of a thousand thousand bridles, men of warrior mien with forearms strong and keen, armed with spears and mail-coats sheen and swords that gleam; so I bade them don their long-hanging hauberks and gird on their biting blades and mount their high-mettled steeds and level their dreadful lances; and whenas there fell on us the doom of the Lord of heaven and earth, I said to them, Ho, all ye soldiers and troopers, can ye avail to ward off that which is fallen on me from the Omnipotent King?' But troopers and soldiers availed not unto this and said, How shall we battle with Him to whom no chamberlain barreth access, the Lord of the door which hath no doorkeeper?' Then quoth I to them, Bring me my treasures' Now I had in my treasuries a thousand cisterns in each of which were a thousand quintals of red gold and the like of white silver, besides pearls and jewels of all kinds and other things of price, beyond the attainment of the kings of the earth. So they did that and when they had laid all the treasure in my presence, I said to them, Can ye ransom me with all this treasure or buy me one day of life therewith?' But they could not! So they resigned themselves to fore-ordained Fate and fortune and I submitted to the judgment of Allah, enduring patiently that which he decreed unto me of affliction, till He took my soul and made me to dwell in my grave. And if thou ask of my name, I am Kúsh, the son of Shaddád son of Ád the Greater." And upon the tablets were engraved these lines,
"An thou wouldst know my name, whose day is done * With shifts of
time and chances 'neath the sun,
Know I am Shaddád's son, who ruled mankind * And o'er all earth
All stubborn peoples abject were to me; * And Shám to Cairo and
I reigned in glory conquering many kings; * And peoples feared my
mischief every one.
Yea, tribes and armies in my hand I saw; * The world all dreaded
me, both friends and fone.
When I took horse, I viewed my numbered troops, * Bridles on
neighing steeds a million.
And I had wealth that none could tell or count, * Against
misfortune treasuring all I won;
Fain had I bought my life with all my wealth, * And for a
moment's space my death to shun;
But God would naught save what His purpose willed; * So from my
brethren cut I 'bode alone:
And Death, that sunders man, exchanged my lot * To pauper hut
from grandeur's mansion
When found I all mine actions gone and past * Wherefor I'm
pledged and by my sin undone.
Then fear, O man, who by a brink dost range, * The turns of
Fortune and the chance of Change."
The Emir Musa was hurt to his heart and loathed his life for what he saw of the slaughtering-places of the folk; and, as they went about the highways and byeways of the palace, viewing its sitting-chambers and pleasaunces, behold they came upon a table of yellow onyx, upborne on four feet of juniper-wood, and there-on these words graven, "At this table have eaten a thousand kings blind of the right eye and a thousand blind of the left and yet other thousand sound of both eyes, all of whom have departed the world and have taken up their sojourn in the tombs and the catacombs." All this the Emir wrote down and left the palace, carrying off with him naught save the table aforesaid. Then he fared on with his host three days' space, under the guidance of the Shaykh Abd al-Samad, till they came to a high hill, whereon stood a horseman of brass. In his hand he held a lance with a broad head, in brightness like blinding leven, whereon was graven, "O thou that comest unto me, if thou know not the way to the City of Brass, rub the hand of this rider and he will turn round and presently stop. Then take the direction whereto he faceth and fare fearless, for it will bring thee, without hardship, to the city aforesaid."—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Five Hundred and Seventieth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Emir Musa rubbed the horseman's hand he revolved like the dazzling lightning, and stopped facing in a direction other than that wherein they were journeying. So they took the road to which he pointed (which was the right way) and, finding it a beaten track, fared on through their days and nights till they had covered a wide tract of country. Then they came upon a pillar of black stone like a furnace chimney wherein was one sunken up to his armpits. He had two great wings and four arms, two of them like the arms of the sons of Adam and other two as they were lion's paws, with claws of iron, and he was black and tall and frightful of aspect, with hair like horses' tails and eyes like blazing coals, slit upright in his face. Moreover, he had in the middle of his forehead a third eye, as it were that of a lynx, from which flew sparks of fire, and he cried out saying, "Glory to my Lord, who hath adjudged unto me this grievous torment and sore punishment until the Day of Doom!" When the folk saw him, they lost their reason for affright and turned to flee; so the Emir Musa asked the Shaykh Abd al-Samad, "What is this?"; and he answered, "I know not." Whereupon quoth Musa, "Draw near and question him of his condition; haply he will discover to thee his case." "Allah assain thee, Emir! Indeed, I am afraid of him;" replied the Shaykh; but the Emir rejoined, saying, "Fear not; he is hindered from thee and from all others by that wherein he is." So Abd al-Samad drew near to the pillar and said to him which was therein, "O creature, what is thy name and what art thou and how camest thou here in this fashion?" "I am an Ifrit of the Jinn," replied he, "by name Dáhish, son of Al-A'amash, and am confined here by the All-might, prisoned here by the Providence and punished by the judgement of Allah, till it pleases Him, to whom belong Might and Majesty, to release me." Then said Musa, "Ask him why he is in durance of this column?" So the Shaykh asked him of this, and the Ifrit replied, saying, "Verily my tale is wondrous and my case marvellous, and it is this. One of the sons of Iblis had an idol of red carnelian, whereof I was guardian, and there served it a King of the Kings of the sea, a Prince of puissant power and prow of prowess, over-ruling a thousand thousand warriors of the Jann who smote with swords before him and answered his summons in time of need. All these were under my commandment and obeyed my behest, being each and every rebels against Solomon, son of David, on whom be peace! And I used to enter the belly of the idol and thence bid and forbid them. Now this King's daughter loved the idol and was frequent in prostration to it and assiduous in its service; and she was the fairest woman of her day, accomplished in beauty and loveliness, elegance and grace. She was described unto Solomon and he sent to her father, saying, Give me thy daughter to wife and break thine idol of carnelian and testify saying, There is no god but the God and Solomon is the Prophet of Allah!' an thou do this, our due shall be thy due and thy debt shall be our debt, but, if thou refuse, make ready to answer the summons of the Lord and don thy grave-gear, for I will come upon thee with an irresistible host, which shall fill the waste places of earth and make thee as yesterday that is passed away and hath no return for aye.' When this message reached the King, he waxed insolent and rebellious, pride-full and contumacious and he cried to his Wazirs, What say ye of this? Know ye that Solomon son of David hath sent requiring me to give him my daughter to wife, and break my idol of carnelian and enter his faith!' And they replied, O mighty King, how shall Solomon do thus with thee? Even could he come at thee in the midst of this vast ocean, he could not prevail against thee, for the Marids of the Jann will fight on thy side and thou wilt ask succour of thine idol whom thou servest, and he will help thee and give thee victory over him. So thou wouldst do well to consult on this matter thy Lord,' (meaning the idol aforesaid) and hear what he saith. If he say, Fight him, fight him, and if not, not.' So the King went in without stay or delay to his idol and offered up sacrifices and slaughtered victims; after which he fell down before him, prostrate and weeping, and repeated these verses,
O my Lord, well I weet thy puissant hand: * Sulaymán would break
thee and see thee bann'd.
O my Lord, to crave succour here I stand * Command and I bow to
thy high command!'
Then I" (continued the Ifrit addressing the Shaykh and those about him), "of my ignorance and want of wit and recklessness of the commandment of Solomon and lack of knowledge anent his power, entered the belly of the idol and made answer as follows.
As for me, of him I feel naught affright, * For my lore and my
wisdom are infinite:
If he wish for warfare I'll show him fight * And out of his body
I'll tear his sprite!'
When the King heard my boastful reply, he hardened his heart and resolved to wage war upon the Prophet and to offer him battle; wherefore he beat the messenger with a grievous beating and returned a foul answer to Solomon, threatening him and saying, Of a truth, thy soul hath suggested to thee a vain thing; dost thou menace me with mendacious words? But gird thyself for battle; for, an thou come not to me, I will assuredly come to thee.' So the messenger returned to Solomon and told him all that had passed and whatso had befallen him, which when the Prophet heard, he raged like Doomsday and addressed himself to the fray and levied armies of men and Jann and birds and reptiles. He commanded his Wazir Al-Dimiryát, King of the Jann, to gather together the Marids of the Jinn from all parts, and he collected for him six hundred thousand thousand of devils. Moreover, by his order, his Wazir Ásaf bin Barkhiyá levied him an army of men, to the number of a thousand thousand or more. These all he furnished with arms and armour and mounting, with his host, upon his carpet, took flight through air, while the beasts fared under him and the birds flew overhead, till he lighted down on the island of the refractory King and encompassed it about, filling earth with his hosts."—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Five Hundred and Seventy-first Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Ifrit continued, "So when Solomon the prophet (with whom be peace!) lighted down with his host on the island he sent to our King, saying, Behold, I am come: defend thy life against that which is fallen upon thee, or else make thy submission to me and confess my apostleship and give me thy daughter to lawful wife and break thine idol and worship the one God, the alone Worshipful; and testify, thou and thine, and say, There is no God but the God, and Solomon is the Apostle of Allah! This if thou do, thou shalt have pardon and peace; but if not, it will avail thee nothing to fortify thyself in this island, for Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) hath bidden the wind obey me; so I will bid it bear me to thee on my carpet and make thee a warning and an example to deter others.' But the King made answer to his messenger, saying, It may not on any wise be as he requireth of me; so tell him I come forth to him,' With this reply the messenger returned to Solomon, who thereupon gathered together all the Jinn that were under his hand, to the number of a thousand thousand, and added to them other than they of Marids and Satans from the islands of the sea and the tops of the mountains and, drawing them up on parade, opened his armouries and distributed to them arms and armour. Then the Prophet drew out his host in battle array, dividing the beasts into two bodies, one on the right wing of the men and the other on the left, and bidding them tear the enemies' horses in sunder. Furthermore, he ordered the birds which were in the island to hover over their heads and, whenas the assault should be made, that they should swoop down and tear out the foe's eyes with their beaks and buffet their faces with their wings; and they answered, saying, We hear and we obey Allah and thee, O Prophet of Allah!' Then Solomon seated himself on a throne of alabaster, studded with precious stones and plated with red gold; and, commanding the wind to bear him aloft, set his Wazir Asaf bin Barkhiya and the kings of mankind on his right and his Wazir Al-Dimiryat and the kings of the Jinn on his left, arraying the beasts and vipers and serpents in the van. Thereupon they all set on us together, and we gave them battle two days over a vast plain; but, on the third day, disaster befel us, and the judgment of Allah the Most High was executed upon us. Now the first to charge upon them were I and my troops, and I said to my companions, Abide in your places, whilst I sally forth to them and provoke Al-Dimiryat to combat singular.' And behold, he came forth to the duello as he were a vast mountain, with his fires flaming and his smoke spireing, and shot at me a falling star of fire; but I swerved from it and it missed me. Then I cast at him in my turn, a flame of fire, and smote him; but his shaft overcame my fire and he cried out at me so terrible a cry that meseemed the skies were fallen flat upon me, and the mountains trembled at his voice. Then he commanded his hosts to charge; accordingly they rushed on us and we rushed on them, each crying out upon other, and battle reared its crest rising in volumes and smoke ascending in columns and hearts well nigh cleaving. The birds and the flying Jinn fought in the air and the beasts and men and the foot-faring Jann in the dust and I fought with Al- Dimiryat, till I was aweary and he not less so. At last, I grew weak and turned to flee from him, whereupon my companions and tribesmen likewise took to flight and my hosts were put to the rout, and Solomon cried out, saying, Take yonder furious tyrant, the accursed, the infamous!' Then man fell upon man and Jinn upon Jinn and the armies of the Prophet charged down upon us, with the wild beasts and lions on their right hand and on their left, rending our horses and tearing our men; whilst the birds hovered over-head in air pecking out our eyes with their claws and beaks and beating our faces with their wings, and the serpents struck us with their fangs, till the most of our folk lay prone upon the face of the earth, like the trunks of date-trees. Thus defeat befel our King and we became a spoil unto Solomon. As to me, I fled from before Al-Dimiryat, but he followed me three months' journey, till I fell down for weariness and he overtook me, and pouncing upon me, made me prisoner. Quoth I, By the virtue of Him who hath exalted thee and abased me, spare me and bring me into the presence of Solomon, on whom be peace!' So he carried me before Solomon, who received me after the foulest fashion and bade bring this pillar and hollow it out. Then he set me herein and chained me and sealed me with his signet-ring, and Al- Dimiryat bore me to this place wherein thou seest me. Moreover, he charged a great angel to guard me, and this pillar is my prison until Judgment-day." Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Five Hundred and Seventy-second Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Jinni who was prisoned in the pillar had told them his tale, from first to last, the folk marvelled at his story and at the frightfulness of his favour, and the Emir Musa said, "There is no God but the God! Soothly was Solomon gifted with a mighty dominion." Then said the Shaykh Abd al-Samad to the Jinni, "Ho there! I would fain ask thee of a thing, whereof do thou inform us." "Ask what thou wilt," answered the Ifrit Dahish and the Shaykh said, "Are there hereabouts any of the Ifrits imprisoned in bottles of brass from the time of Solomon (on whom be peace!)?" "Yes," replied the Jinni; "there be such in the sea of al-Karkar on the shores whereof dwell a people of the lineage of Noah (on whom be peace!); for their country was not reached by the Deluge and they are cut off there from the other sons of Adam." Quoth Abd al-Samad, "And which is the way to the City of Brass and the place wherein are the cucurbites of Solomon, and what distance lieth between us and it?" Quoth the Ifrit, "It is near at hand," and directed them in the way thither. So they left him and fared forward till there appeared to them afar off a great blackness and therein two fires facing each other, and the Emir Musa asked the Shaykh, "What is yonder vast blackness and its twin fires?"; and the guide answered, "Rejoice O Emir, for this is the City of Brass, as it is described in the Book of Hidden Treasures which I have by me. Its walls are of black stone and it hath two towers of Andalusian brass, which appear to the beholder in the distance as they were twin fires, and hence is it named the City of Brass." Then they fared on without ceasing till they drew near the city and behold, it was as it were a piece of a mountain or a mass of iron cast in a mould and impenetrable for the height of its walls and bulwarks; while nothing could be more beautiful than its buildings and its ordinance. So they dismounted down and sought for an entrance, but saw none neither found any trace of opening in the walls, albeit there were five-and-twenty portals to the city, but none of them was visible from without. Then quoth the Emir, "O Shaykh, I see to this city no sign of any gate;" and quoth he, "O Emir, thus is it described in my Book of Hidden Treasures; it hath five-and-twenty portals; but none thereof may be opened save from within the city." Asked Musa, " And how shall we do to enter the city and view its wonders?" and Talib son of Sahl, his Wazir, answered, "Allah assain the Emir! let us rest here two or three days and, God willing, we will make shift to come within the walls." Then said Musa to one of his men, "Mount thy camel and ride round about the city, so haply thou may light upon a gate or a place somewhat lower than this fronting us, or Inshallah! a breach whereby we can enter." Accordingly he mounted his beast, taking water and victuals with him, and rode round the city two days and two nights, without drawing rein to rest, but found the wall thereof as it were one block, without breach or way of ingress; and on the third day, he came again in sight of his companions, dazed and amazed at what he had seen of the extent and loftiness of the place, and said, "O Emir, the easiest place of access is this where you have alighted." Then Musa took Talib and Abd al-Samad and ascended the highest hill which overlooked the city. When they reached the top, they beheld beneath them a city, never saw eyes a greater or a goodlier, with dwelling-places and mansions of towering height, and palaces and pavilions and domes gleaming gloriously bright and sconces and bulwarks of strength infinite; and its streams were a-flowing and flowers a-blowing and fruits a glowing. It was a city with gates impregnable; but void and still, without a voice or a cheering inhabitant. The owl hooted in its quarters; the bird skimmed circling over its squares and the raven croaked in its great thoroughfares weeping and bewailing the dwellers who erst made it their dwelling. The Emir stood awhile, marvelling and sorrowing for the desolation of the city and saying, Glory to Him whom nor ages nor changes nor times can blight, Him who created all things of His Might!" Presently, he chanced to look aside and caught sight of seven tablets of white marble afar off. So he drew near them and finding inscriptions graven thereon, called the Shaykh and bade him read these. Accordingly he came forward and, examining the inscriptions, found that they contained matter of admonition and warning and instances and restraint to those of understanding. On the first tablet was inscribed, in the ancient Greek character: "O son of Adam, how heedless art thou of that which is before thee! Verily, thy years and months and days have diverted thee therefrom. Knowest thou not that the cup of death is filled for thy bane which in a little while to the dregs thou shalt drain? Look to thy doom ere thou enter thy tomb. Where be the Kings who held dominion over the lands and abased Allah's servants and built these palaces and had armies under their commands? By Allah, the Destroyer of delights and the Severer of societies and the Devastator of dwelling-places came down upon them and transported them from the spaciousness of their palaces to the staitness of their burial-places." And at the foot of the tablet were written the following verses,
"Where are the Kings earth-peopling, where are they? * The built
and peopled left they e'er and aye!
They're tombed yet pledged to actions past away * And after death
upon them came decay.
Where are their troops? They failed to ward and guard! * Where
are the wealth and hoards in treasuries lay?
Th' Empyrean's Lord surprised them with one word, * Nor wealth
nor refuge could their doom delay!"
When the Emir heard this, he cried out and the tears ran down his cheeks and he exclaimed, "By Allah, from the world abstaining is the wisest course and the sole assaining!" And he called for pen- case and paper and wrote down what was graven on the first tablet. Then he drew near the second tablet and found these words graven thereon, "O son of Adam, what hath seduced thee from the service of the Ancient of Days and made thee forget that one day thou must defray the debt of death? Wottest thou not that it is a transient dwelling wherein for none there is abiding; and yet thou taketh thought unto the world and cleaves" fast thereto? Where be the kings who Irak peopled and the four quarters of the globe possessed? Where be they who abode in Ispahan and the land of Khorasan? The voice of the Summoner of Death summoned them and they answered him, and the Herald of Destruction hailed them and they replied, Here are we! Verily, that which they builded and fortified profited them naught; neither did what they had gathered and provided avail for their defence." And at the foot of the tablet were graven the following verses,
Where be the men who built and fortified * High places never man
their like espied?
In fear of Fate they levied troops and hosts, * Availing naught
when came the time and tide,
Where be the Kisrás homed in strongest walls? * As though they
ne'er had been from home they tried!"
The Emir Musa wept and exclaimed, "By Allah, we are indeed created for a grave matter!" Then he copied the inscription and passed on to the third tablet,—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Five Hundred and Seventy-third Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Emir Musa passed on to the third tablet, whereon was written, "O son of Adam, the things of this world thou lovest and prizest and the hest of thy Lord thou spurnest and despisest. All the days of thy life pass by and thou art content thus to aby. Make ready thy viaticum against the day appointed for thee to see and prepare to answer the Lord of every creature that be!" And at the foot were written these verses,
"Where is the wight who peopled in the past * Hind land and Sind;
and there the tyrant played?
Who Zanj and Habash bound beneath his yoke, * And Nubia
curbed and low its puissance laid.
Look not for news of what is in his grave. * Ah, he is far who
can thy vision aid!
The stroke of death fell on him sharp and sure; * Nor saved him
palace, nor the lands he swayed."
At this Musa wept with sore weeping and, going on to the fourth tablet, he read inscribed thereon, "O son of Adam, how long shall thy Lord bear with thee and thou every day sunken in the sea of thy folly? Hath it then been stablished unto thee that some day thou shalt not die? O son of Adam, let not the deceits of thy days and nights and times and hours delude thee with their delights; but remember that death lieth ready for thee ambushing, fain on thy shoulders to spring, nor doth a day pass but he morneth with thee in the morning and nighteth with thee by night. Beware, then, of his onslaught and make provision there-against. As was with me, so it is with thee; thou wastest thy whole life and squanderest the joys in which thy days are rife. Hearken, therefore, to my words and put thy trust in the Lord of Lords; for in the world there is no stability; it is but as a spider's web to thee." And at the foot of the tablet were written these couplets,
"Where is the man who did those labours ply * And based and built
and reared these walls on high?
Where be the castles' lords? Who therein dwelt * Fared forth and
left them in decay to lie.
All are entombed, in pledge against the day * When every sin
shall show to every eye.
None but the Lord Most High endurance hath, * Whose Might and
Majesty shall never die."
When the Emir read this, he swooned away and presently coming to himself marvelled exceedingly and wrote it down. Then he drew near the fifth tablet and behold, thereon was graven, "O son of Adam, what is it that distracteth thee from obedience of thy Creator and the Author of thy being, Him who reared thee whenas thou west a little one, and fed thee whenas thou west full-grown? Thou art ungrateful for His bounty, albeit He watcheth over thee with His favours, letting down the curtain of His protection over thee. Needs must there be for thee an hour bitterer than aloes and hotter than live coals. Provide thee, therefore, against it; for who shall sweeten its gall or quench its fires? Bethink thee who forewent thee of peoples and heroes and take warning by them, ere thou perish." And at the foot of the tablet were graven these couplets,
"Where be the Earth-kings who from where they bode, * Sped and
to grave yards with their hoardings yode:
Erst on their mounting-days there hadst beheld * Hosts that
concealed the ground whereon they rode:
How many a king they humbled in their day! * How many a host they
led and laid on load!
But from th' Empyrean's Lord in haste there came * One word, and
joy waxed grief ere morning glowed."
The Emir marvelled at this and wrote it down; after which he passed on to the sixth tablet and behold, was inscribed thereon, "O son of Adam, think not that safety will endure for ever and aye, seeing that death is sealed to thy head alway. Where be thy fathers, where be thy brethren, where thy friends and dear ones? They have all gone to the dust of the tombs and presented themselves before the Glorious, the Forgiving, as if they had never eaten nor drunken, and they are a pledge for that which they have earned. So look to thyself, ere thy tomb come upon thee." And at the foot of the tablet were these couplets,
"Where be the Kings who ruled the Franks of old? * Where be the
King who peopled Tingis-wold?
Their works are written in a book which He, * The One, th' All-
father shall as witness hold."
At this the Emir Musa marvelled and wrote it down, saying, "There is no god but the God! Indeed, how goodly were these folk!" Then he went up to the seventh tablet and behold, thereon was written, "Glory to Him who fore-ordaineth death to all He createth, the Living One, who dieth not! O son of Adam, let not thy days and their delights delude thee, neither thine hours and the delices of their time, and know that death to thee cometh and upon thy shoulder sitteth. Beware, then, of his assault and make ready for his onslaught. As it was with me, so it is with thee; thou wastest the sweet of thy life and the joyance of thine hours. Give ear, then, to my rede and put thy trust in the Lord of Lords and know that in the world is no stability, but it is as it were a spider's web to thee and all that is therein shall die and cease to be. Where is he who laid the foundation of Amid and builded it and builded Fárikín and exalted it? Where be the peoples of the strong places? Whenas them they had inhabited, after their might into the tombs they descended. They have been carried off by death and we shall in like manner be afflicted by doom. None abideth save Allah the Most High, for He is Allah the Forgiving One." The Emir Musa wept and copied all this, and indeed the world was belittled in his eyes. Then he descended the hill and rejoined his host, with whom he passed the rest of tile day, casting about for a means of access to the city. And he said to his Wazir Talib bin Sahl and to the chief officers about him, "How shall we contrive to enter this city and view its marvels?: haply we shall find therein wherewithal to win the favour of the Commander of the Faithful." "Allah prolong the Emir's fortune!" replied Talib, "let us make a ladder and mount the wall therewith, so peradventure we may come at the gate from within." Quoth the Emir, "This is what occurred to my thought also, and admirable is the advice!" Then he called for carpenters and blacksmiths and bade them fashion wood and build a ladder plated and banded with iron. So they made a strong ladder and many men wrought at it a whole month. Then all the company laid hold of it and set it up against the wall, and it reached the top as truly as if it had been built for it before that time. The Emir marvelled and said, "The blessing of Allah be upon you. It seems as though ye had taken the measure of the mure, so excellent is your work." Then said he to his men, "Which of you will mount the ladder and walk along the wall and cast about for a way of descending into the city, so to see how the case stands and let us know how we may open the gate?" Whereupon quoth one of them, "I will go up, O Emir, and descend and open to you"; and Musa answered, saying, "Go and the blessing of Allah go with thee!" So the man mounted the ladder; but, when he came to the top of the wall, he stood up and gazed fixedly down into the city, then clapped his hands and crying out, at the top of his voice, "By Allah, thou art fair!" cast himself down into the place, and Musa cried, "By Allah, he is a dead man!" But another came up to him and said, "O Emir, this was a madman and doubtless his madness got the better of him and destroyed him. I will go up and open the gate to you, if it be the will of Allah the Most High." "Go up," replied Musa, "and Allah be with thee! But beware lest thou lose thy head, even as did thy comrade." Then the man mounted the ladder, but no sooner had he reached the top of the wall than he laughed aloud, saying, "Well done! well done!"; and clapping palms cast himself down into the city and died forthright. When the Emir saw this, he said, "An such be the action of a reasonable man, what is that of the madman? If all our men do on this wise, we shall have none left and shall fail of our errand and that of the Commander of the Faithful. Get ye ready for the march: verily we have no concern with this city." But a third one of the company said, "Haply another may be steadier than they." So a third mounted the wall and a fourth and a fifth and all cried out and cast themselves down, even as did the first, nor did they leave to do thus, till a dozen had perished in like fashion. Then the Shaykh Abd al-Samad came forward and heartened himself and said, "This affair is reserved to none other than myself; for the experienced is not like the inexperienced." Quoth the Emir, "Indeed thou shalt not do that nor will I have thee go up: an thou perish, we shall all be cut off to the last man since thou art our guide." But he answered, saying, "Peradventure, that which we seek may be accomplished at my hands, by the grace of God Most High!" So the folk all agreed to let him mount the ladder, and he arose and heartening himself, said, "In the name of Allah, the Compassionating, the Compassionate!" and mounted the ladder, calling on the name of the Lord and reciting the Verses of Safety. When he reached the top of the wall, he clapped his hands and gazed fixedly down into the city; whereupon the folk below cried out to him with one accord, saying "O Shaykh Abd al-Samad, for the Lord's sake, cast not thyself down!"; and they added, "Verily we are Allah's and unto Him we are returning! If the Shaykh fall, we are dead men one and all." Then he laughed beyond all measure and sat a long hour, reciting the names of Allah Almighty and repeating the Verses of Safety; then he rose arid cried out at the top of his voice, saying, O Emir, have no fear; no hurt shall betide you, for Allah (to whom belong Might and Majesty!) hath averted from me the wiles and malice of Satan, by the blessing of the words, In the name of Allah the Compassionating the Compassionate!'" Asked Musa, "What didst thou see, O Shaykh?"; and Abd al-Samad answered, "I saw ten maidens, as they were Houris of Heaven calling to me with their hands"—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Five Hundred and Seventy-fourth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Shaykh Abd al-Samad answered, "I saw ten maidens like Houris of Heaven, and they calling and signing, Come hither to us'; and meseemed there was below me a lake of water. So I thought to throw myself down, when behold, I espied my twelve companions lying dead; so I restrained myself and recited somewhat of Allah's Book, whereupon He dispelled from me the damsels' witchlike wiles and malicious guiles and they disappeared. And doubtless this was an enchantment devised by the people of the city, to repel any who should seek to gaze upon or to enter the place. And it hath succeeded in slaying our companions." Then he walked on along the wall, till he came to the two towers of brass aforesaid and saw therein two gates of gold, without pad locks or visible means of opening. Hereat he paused as long as Allah pleased and gazed about him awhile, till he espied in the middle of one of the gates, a horseman of brass with hand outstretched as if pointing, and in his palm was somewhat written. So he went up to it and read these words, "O thou who comest to this place, an thou wouldst enter turn the pin in my navel twelve times and the gate will open." Accordingly, he examined the horseman and finding in his navel a pin of gold, firm-set and fast fixed, he turned it twelve times, whereupon the horseman revolved like the blinding lightning and the gate swung open with a noise like thunder. He entered and found himself in a long passage, which brought him down some steps into a guard-room furnished with goodly wooden benches, whereon sat men dead, over whose heads hung fine shields and keen blades and bent bows and shafts ready notched. Thence, he came to the main gate of the city; and, finding it secured with iron bars and curiously wrought locks and bolts and chains and other fastenings of wood and metal, said to himself, "Belike the keys are with yonder dead folk." So he turned back to the guard-room and seeing amongst the dead an old man seated upon a high wooden bench, who seemed the chiefest of them, said in his mind, "Who knows but they are with this Shaykh? Doubtless he was the warder of the city and these others were under his hand." So he went up to him and lifting his gown, behold, the keys were hanging to his girdle; whereat he joyed with exceeding joy and was like to fly for gladness. Then he took them and going up to the portal, undid the padlocks and drew back the bolts and bars, whereupon the great leaves flew open with a crash like the pealing thunder by reason of its greatness and terribleness. At this he cried out saying, "Allaho Akbar—God is most great!" And the folk without answered him with the same words, rejoicing and thanking him for his deed. The Emir Musa also was delighted at the Shaykh's safety and the opening of the city-gate, and the troops all pressed forward to enter; but Musa cried out to them, saying, "O folk, if we all go in at once we shall not be safe from some ill-chance which may betide us. Let half enter and other half tarry without." So he pushed forwards with half his men, bearing their weapons of war, and finding their comrades lying dead, they buried them; and they saw the doorkeepers and eunuchs and chamberlains and officers reclining on couches of silk and all were corpses. Then they fared on till they came to the chief market-place, full of lofty buildings whereof none overpassed the others, and found all its shops open, with the scales hung out and the brazen vessels ordered and the caravanserais full of all manner goods; and they beheld the merchants sitting on the shop-boards dead, with shrivelled skin and rotted bones, a warning to those who can take warning; and here they saw four separate markets all replete with wealth. Then they left the great bazar and went on till they came to the silk market, where they found silks and brocades, orfrayed with red gold and diapered with white silver upon all manner of colours, and the owners lying dead upon mats of scented goats' leather, and looking as if they would speak; after which they traversed the market-street of pearls and rubies and other jewels and came to that of the schroffs and money-changers, whom they saw sitting dead upon carpets of raw silk and dyed stuffs in shops full of gold and silver. Thence they passed to the perfumers' bazar where they found the shops filled with drugs of all kinds and bladders of musk and ambergris and Nadd-scent and camphor and other perfumes, in vessels of ivory and ebony and Khalanj-wood and Andalusian copper, the which is equal in value to gold; and various kinds of rattan and Indian cane; but the shopkeepers all lay dead nor was there with them aught of food. And hard by this drug-market they came upon a palace, imposingly edified and magnificently decorated; so they entered and found therein banners displayed and drawn sword blades and strung bows and bucklers hanging by chains of gold and silver and helmets gilded with red gold. In the vestibules stood benches of ivory, plated with glittering gold and covered with silken stuffs, whereon lay men, whose skin had dried up on their bones; the fool had deemed them sleeping; but, for lack of food, they had perished and tasted the cup of death. Now when the Emir Musa saw this, he stood still, glorifying Allah the Most High and hallowing Him and contemplating the beauty of the palace and the massiveness of its masonry and fair perfection of its ordinance, for it was builded after the goodliest and stablest fashion and the most part of its adornment was of green lapis-lazuli, and on the inner door, which stood open, were written in characters of gold and ultramarine, these couplets,
"Consider thou, O man, what these places to thee showed * And be
upon thy guard ere thou travel the same road:
And prepare thee good provision some day may serve thy turn * For
each dweller in the house needs must yede wi' those who yode
Consider how this people their palaces adorned * And in dust have
been pledged for the seed of acts they sowed
They built but their building availed them not, and hoards * Nor
saved their lives nor day of Destiny forslowed:
How often did they hope for what things were undecreed. * And
passed unto their tombs before Hope the bounty showed
And from high and awful state all a sudden they were sent * To
the straitness of the grave and oh! base is their abode:
Then came to them a Crier after burial and cried, * What booted
thrones or crowns or the gold to you bestowed:
Where now are gone the faces hid by curtain and by veil, * Whose
charms were told in proverbs, those beauties ŕ-la-mode?
The tombs aloud reply to the questioners and cry, * Death's
canker and decay those rosy cheeks corrode'
Long time they ate and drank, but their joyaunce had a term, *
And the eater eke was eaten, and was eaten by the worm."
When the Emir read this, he wept, till he was like to swoon away- -And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Five Hundred ante Seventy-fifth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Emir wept till he was like to swoon away, and bade write down the verses, after which he passed on into the inner palace and came to a vast hall, at each of whose four corners stood a pavilion lofty and spacious, washed with gold and silver and painted in various colours. In the heart of the hall was a great jetting- fountain of alabaster, surmounted by a canopy of brocade, and in each pavilion was a sitting-place and each place had its richly- wrought fountain and tank paved with marble and streams flowing in channels along the floor and meeting in a great and grand cistern of many-coloured marbles. Quoth the Emir to the Shaykh Abd al-Samad, "Come let us visit yonder pavilion!" So they entered the first and found it full of gold and silver and pearls and jacinths and other precious stones and metals, besides chests filled with brocades, red and yellow and white. Then they repaired to the second pavilion, and, opening a closet there, found it full of arms and armour, such as gilded helmets and Davidean hauberks and Hindi swords and Arabian spears and Chorasmian maces and other gear of fight and fray. Thence they passed to the third pavilion, wherein they saw closets padlocked and covered with curtains wrought with all manner of embroidery. They opened one of these and found it full of weapons curiously adorned with open work and with gold and silver damascene and jewels. Then they entered the fourth pavilion, and opening one of the closets there, beheld in it great store of eating and drinking vessels of gold and silver, with platters of crystal and goblets set with fine pearls and cups of carnelian and so forth. So they all fell to taking that which suited their tastes and each of the soldiers carried off what he could. When they left the pavilions, they saw in the midst of the palace a door of teak-wood marquetried with ivory and ebony and plated with glittering gold, over which hung a silken curtain purfled with all manner of embroideries; and on this door were locks of white silver, that opened by artifice without a key. The Shaykh Abd al-Samad went valiantly up thereto and by the aid of his knowledge and skill opened the locks, whereupon the door admitted them into a corridor paved with marble and hung with veil- like tapestries embroidered with figures of all manner beasts and birds, whose bodies were of red gold and white silver and their eyes of pearls and rubies, amazing all who looked upon them. Passing onwards they came to a saloon builded all of polished marble, inlaid with jewels, which seemed to the beholder as though the floor were flowing water and whoso walked thereon slipped. The Emir bade the Shaykh strew somewhat upon it, that they might walk over it; which being done, they made shift to fare forwards till they came to a great domed pavilion of stone, gilded with red gold and crowned with a cupola of alabaster, about which were set lattice-windows carved and jewelled with rods of emerald, beyond the competence of any King. Under this dome was a canopy of brocede, reposing upon pillars of red gold and wrought with figures of birds whose feet were of smaragd, and beneath each bird was a network of fresh- hued pearls. The canopy was spread above a jetting fountain of ivory and carnelian, plated with glittering gold and thereby stood a couch set with pearls and rubies and other jewels and beside the couch a pillar of gold. On the capital of the column stood a bird fashioned of red rubies and holding in his bill a pearl which shone like a star; and on the couch lay a damsel, as she were the lucident sun, eyes never saw a fairer. She wore a tight-fitting body-robe of fine pearls, with a crown of red gold on her head, filleted with gems, and on her forehead were two great jewels, whose light was as the light of the sun. On her breast she wore a jewelled amulet, filled with musk and ambergris and worth the empire of the Caesars; and around her neck hung a collar of rubies and great pearls, hollowed and filled with odoriferous musk And it seemed as if she gazed on them to the right and to the left.—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Five Hundred and Seventy-sixth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the damsel seemed to be gazing at the folk to the right and to the left. The Emir Musa marvelled at her exceeding beauty and was confounded at the blackness of her hair and the redness of her cheeks, which made the beholder deem her alive and not dead, and said to her, "Peace be with thee, O damsel!" But Talib ibn Sahl said to him, "Allah preserve thee, O Emir, verily this damsel is dead and there is no life in her; so how shall she return thy salam?" adding, Indeed, she is but a corpse embalmed with exceeding art; her eyes were taken out after her death and quicksilver set under them, after which they were restored to their sockets. Wherefore they glisten and when the air moveth the lashes, she seemeth to wink and it appeareth to the beholder as though she looked at him, for all she is dead." At this the Emir marvelled beyond measure and said, "Glory be to God who subjugateth His creatures to the dominion of Death!" Now the couch on which the damsel lay, had steps, and thereon stood two statues of Andalusian copper representing slaves, one white and the other black. The first held a mace of steel and the second a sword of watered steel which dazzled the eye; and between them, on one of the steps of the couch, lay a golden tablet, whereon were written, in characters of white silver, the following words: "In the name of God, the Compassionating, the Compassionate! Praise be to Allah, the Creator of mankind; and He is the Lord of Lords, the Causer of Causes! In the name of Allah, the Never beginning, the Everlasting, the Ordainer of Fate and Fortune! O son of Adam! what hath befooled thee in this long esperance? What hath unminded thee of the Death-day's mischance? Knowest thou not that Death calleth for thee and hasteneth to seize upon the soul of thee? Be ready, therefore, for the way and provide thee for thy departure from the world; for, assuredly, thou shalt leave it without delay. Where is Adam, first of humanity? Where is Noah with his progeny? Where be the Kings of Hind and Irak-plain and they who over earth's widest regions reign? Where do the Amalekites abide and the giants and tyrants of olden tide? Indeed, the dwelling-places are void of them and they have departed from kindred and home. Where be the Kings of Arab and Ajam? They are dead, all of them, and gone and are become rotten bones. Where be the lords so high in stead? They are all done dead. Where are Kora and Haman? Where is Shaddad son of Ad? Where be Canaan and Zul-Autad, Lord of the Stakes? By Allah, the Reaper of lives hath reaped them and made void the lands of them. Did they provide them against the Day of Resurrection or make ready to answer the Lord of men? O thou, if thou know me not, I will acquaint thee with my name: I am Tadmurah, daughter of the Kings of the Amalekites, of those who held dominion over the lands in equity and brought low the necks of humanity. I possessed that which never King possessed and was righteous in my rule and did justice among my lieges; yea, I gave gifts and largesse and freed bondsmen and bondswomen. Thus lived I many years in all ease and delight of life, till Death knocked at my door and to me and to my folk befel calamities galore; and it was on this wise. There betided us seven successive years of drought, wherein no drop of rain fell on us from the skies and no green thing sprouted for us on the face of earth. So we ate what was with us of victual, then we fell upon the cattle and devoured them, until nothing was left. Thereupon I let bring my treasures and meted them with measures and sent out trusty men to buy food. They circuited all the lands in quest thereof and left no city unsought, but found it not to be bought and returned to us with the treasure after a long absence; and gave us to know that they could not succeed in bartering fine pearls for poor wheat, bushel for bushel, weight for weight. So, when we despaired of succour, we displayed all our riches and things of price and, shutting the gates of the city and its strong places, resigned ourselves to the deme of our Lord and committed our case to our King. Then we all died, as thou seest us, and left what we had builded and all we had hoarded. This, then, is our story, and after the substance naught abideth but the trace." Then they looked at the foot of the tablet and read these couplets,
"O child of Adam, let not hope make mock and flyte at thee, *
Prom all thy hands have treasuréd, removéd thou shalt be;
I see thou covetest the world and fleeting worldly charms, * And
races past and gone have done the same as thou I see.
Lawful and lawless wealth they got; but all their hoarded store,
* Their term accomplished, naught delayed of Destiny's
Armies they led and puissant men and gained them gold galore; *
Then left their wealth and palaces by Pate compelled to
To straitness of the grave-yard and humble bed of dust * Whence,
pledged for every word and deed, they never more win free:
As a company of travellers had unloaded in the night * At house
that lacketh food nor is o'erfain of company:
Whose owner saith, O folk, there be no lodging here for you;' *
So packed they who had erst unpacked and faréd hurriedly:
Misliking much the march, nor the journey nor the halt * Had
aught of pleasant chances or had aught of goodly greet
Then prepare thou good provision for to-morrow's journey stored,
* Naught but righteous honest life shall avail thee with the
And the Emir Musa wept as he read, "By Allah, the fear of the Lord is the best of all property, the pillar of certainty and the sole sure stay. Verily, Death is the truth manifest and the sure behest, and therein, O thou, is the goal and return place evident. Take warning, therefore, by those who to the dust did wend and hastened on the way of the predestined end. Seest thou not that hoary hairs summon thee to the tomb and that the whiteness of thy locks maketh moan of thy doom? Wherefore be thou on the wake ready for thy departure and thine account to make. O son of Adam, what hath hardened thy heart in mode abhorred? What hath seduced thee from the service of thy Lord? Where be the peoples of old time? They are a warning to whoso will be warned! Where be the Kings of al-Sín and the lords of majestic mien? Where is Shaddad bin Ad and whatso he built and he stablished? Where is Nimrod who revolted against Allah and defied Him? Where is Pharaoh who rebelled against God and denied Him? Death followed hard upon the trail of them all, and laid them low sparing neither great nor small, male nor female; and the Reaper of Mankind cut them off, yea, by Him who maketh night to return upon day! Know, O thou who comest to this place, that she whom thou seest here was not deluded by the world and its frail delights, for it is faithless, perfidious, a house of ruin, vain and treacherous; and salutary to the creature is the remembrance of his sins; wherefore she feared her Lord and made fair her dealings and provided herself with provaunt against the appointed marching day. Whoso cometh to our city and Allah vouchsafeth him competence to enter it, let him take of the treasure all he can, but touch not aught that is on my body, for it is the covering of my shame and the outfit for the last journey; wherefore let him fear Allah and despoil naught thereof; else will he destroy his own self. This have I set forth to him for a warning from me and a solemn trust to be; wherewith, peace be with ye and I pray Allah to keep you from sickness and calamity." And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Five Hundred and Seventy-seventh Night,
She said, it hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Emir Musa read this, he wept with exceeding weeping till he swooned away and presently coming to himself, wrote down all he had seen and was admonished by all he had witnessed. Then he said to his men, "Fetch the camels and load them with these treasures and vases and jewels." "O Emir," asked Talib, "shall we leave our damsel with what is upon her, things which have no equal and whose like is not to be found and more perfect than aught else thou takest; nor couldst thou find a goodlier offering wherewithal to propitiate the favour of the Commander of the Faithful?" But Musa answered, "O man, heardest thou not what the Lady saith on this tablet? More by token that she giveth it in trust to us who are no traitors." "And shall we," rejoined the Wazir Talib, "because of these words, leave all these riches and jewels, seeing that she is dead? What should she do with these that are the adornments of the world and the ornament of the worldling, seeing that one garment of cotton would suffice for her covering? We have more right to them than she." So saying he mounted the steps of the couch between the pillars, but when he came within reach of the two slaves, lo! the mace-bearer smote him on the back and the other struck him with the sword he held in his hand and lopped off his head, and he dropped down dead. Quoth the Emir, "Allah have no mercy on thy resting-place! Indeed there was enough in these treasures, and greed of gain assuredly degradeth a man." Then he bade admit the troops; so they entered and loaded the camels with those treasures and precious ores; after which they went forth and the Emir commanded them to shut the gate as before. They fared on along the sea-shore a whole month, till they came in sight of a high mountain overlooking the sea and full of caves, wherein dwelt a tribe of blacks, clad in hides, with burnooses also of hide and speaking an unknown tongue. When they saw the troops they were startled like shying steeds and fled into the caverns, whilst their women and children stood at the cave doors, looking on the strangers. "O Shaykh Abd al-Samad," asked the Emir, "what are these folk?" and he answered, "They are those whom we seek for the Commander of the Faithful." So they dismounted and setting down their loads, pitched their tents; whereupon, almost before they had done, down came the King of the blacks from the mountain and drew near the camp. Now he understood the Arabic tongue; so, when he came to the Emir he saluted him with the salam and Musa returned his greeting and entreated him with honour. Then quoth he to the Emir, "Are ye men or Jinn?" "Well, we are men," quoth Musa; "but doubtless ye are Jinn, to judge by your dwelling apart in this mountain which is cut off from mankind, and by your inordinate bulk." "Nay," rejoined the black; "we also are children of Adam, of the lineage of Ham, son of Noah (with whom be peace!), and this sea is known as Al-Karkar." Asked Musa, "O King, what is your religion and what worship ye?"; and he answered, saying, "We worship the God of the heavens and our religion is that of Mohammed, whom Allah bless and preserve!" "And how came ye by the knowledge of this," questioned the Emir, "seeing that no prophet was inspired to visit this country?" "Know, Emir," replied the King, "that there appeared to us whilere from out the sea a man, from whom issued a light that illumined the horizons and he cried out, in a voice which was heard of men far and near, saying, O children of Ham, reverence to Him who seeth and is not seen and say ye, There is no god but the God, and Mohammed is the messenger of God!' And he added, I am Abu al-Abbás al-Khizr.' Before this we were wont to worship one another, but he summoned us to the service of the Lord of all creatures; and he taught us to repeat these words, There is no god save the God alone, who hath for partner none, and His is the kingdom and His is the praise. He giveth life and death and He over all things is Almighty.' Nor do we draw near unto Allah (be He exalted and extolled!) except with these words, for we know none other; but every eve before Friday we see a light upon the face of earth and we hear a voice saying, Holy and glorious, Lord of the Angels and the Spirit! What He willeth is, and what He willeth not, is not. Every boon is of His grace and there is neither Majesty nor is there Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!' But ye," quoth the King, "who and what are ye and what bringeth you to this land?" Quoth Musa, "We are officers of the Sovereign of Al-Islam, the Commander of the Faithful, Abd al- Malik bin Marwan, who hath heard tell of the lord Solomon, son of David (on whom be peace!) and of that which the Most High bestowed upon him of supreme dominion; how he held sway over Jinn and beast and bird and was wont when he was wroth with one of the Marids, to shut him in a cucurbite of brass and, stopping its mouth on him with lead, whereon he impressed his seal ring, to cast him into the sea of Al-Karkar. Now we have heard tell that this sea is nigh your land; so the Commander of the Faithful hath sent us hither, to bring him some of these cucurbites, that he may look thereon and solace himself with their sight. Such, then, is our case and what we seek of thee, O King, and we desire that thou further us in the accomplishment of our errand commanded by the Commander of the Faithful." "With love and gladness," replied the black King, and carrying them to the guest house, entreated them with the utmost honour and furnished them with all they needed, feeding them upon fish. They abode thus three days, when he bade his divers fetch from out the sea some of the vessels of Solomon. So they dived and brought up twelve cucurbites, whereat the Emir and the Shaykh and all the company rejoiced in the accomplishment of the Caliph's need. Then Musa gave the King of the blacks many and great gifts; and he, in turn, made him a present Of the wonders of the deep, being fishes in human form, saying "Your entertainment these three days hath been of the meat of these fish." Quoth the Emir, "Needs must we carry some of these to the Caliph, for the sight of them will please him more than the cucurbites of Solomon." Then they took leave of the black King and, setting out on their homeward journey, travelled till they came to Damascus, where Musa went in to the Commander of the Faithful and told him all that he had sighted and heard of verses and legends and instances, together with the manner of the death of Talib bin Sahl; and the Caliph said, "Would I had been with you, that I might have seen what you saw!" Then he took the brazen vessels and opened them, cucurbite after cucurbite, whereupon the devils came forth of them, saying, "We repent, O Prophet of Allah! Never again will we return to the like of this thing; no never!" And the Caliph marvelled at this. As for the daughters of the deep presented to them by the black King, they made them cisterns of planks, full of water, and laid them therein; but they died of the great heat. Then the Caliph sent for the spoils of the Brazen City and divided them among the Faithful,—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say,
When it was the Five Hundred and Seventy-eighth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Caliph marvelled much at the cucurbites and their contents; then he sent for the spoils and divided them among the Faithful, saying, "Never gave Allah unto any the like of that which he bestowed upon Solomon David-son!" Thereupon the Emir Musa sought leave of him to appoint his son Governor of the Province in his stead, that he might be take himself to the Holy City of Jerusalem, there to worship Allah. So the Commander of the Faithful invested his son Harun with the government and Musa repaired to the Glorious and Holy City, where he died. This, then, is all that hath come down to us of the story of the City of Brass, and God is All-knowing! Now (continued Shahrazad) I have another tale to tell...
Source: The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night, Volume 6. Translation by Richard F. Burton
Surah 18, verse:
7. Verily! We have made that which is on earth as an adornment for it, in order that We may test them (mankind) as to which of them are best in deeds. [i.e.those who do good deeds in the most perfect manner, that means to do them (deeds) totally for Allah's sake and in accordance to the legal ways of the Prophet ].
8. And verily! We shall make all that is on it (the earth) a bare dry soil (without any vegetation or trees, etc.).
9. Do you think that the people of the Cave and the Inscription (the news or the names of the people of the Cave) were a wonder among Our Signs?
10. (Remember) when the young men fled for refuge (from their disbelieving folk) to the Cave, they said: "Our Lord! Bestow on us mercy from Yourself, and facilitate for us our affair in the right way!"
11. Therefore We covered up their (sense of) hearing (causing them, to go in deep sleep) in the Cave for a number of years.
12. Then We raised them up (from their sleep), that We might test which of the two parties was best at calculating the time period that they had tarried.
13. We narrate unto you (O Muhammad ) their story with truth: Truly! They were young men who believed in their Lord (Allah), and We increased them in guidance.
14. And We made their hearts firm and strong (with the light of Faith in Allah and bestowed upon them patience to bear the separation of their kith and kin and dwellings, etc.) when they stood up and said: "Our Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth, never shall we call upon any ilah (god) other than Him; if we did, we should indeed have uttered an enormity in disbelief.
15. "These our people have taken for worship aliha (gods) other than Him (Allah). Why do they not bring for them a clear authority? And who does more wrong than he who invents a lie against Allah.
16. (The young men said to one another): "And when you withdraw from them, and that which they worship, except Allah, then seek refuge in the Cave, your Lord will open a way for you from His Mercy and will make easy for you your affair (i.e. will give you what you will need of provision, dwelling, etc.)."
17. And you might have seen the sun, when it rose, declining to the right from their Cave, and when it set, turning away from them to the left, while they lay in the midst of the Cave. That is (one) of the Ayat (proofs, evidences, signs) of Allah. He whom Allah guides, is rightly guided; but he whom He sends astray, for him you will find no Wali (guiding friend) to lead him (to the right Path).
18. And you would have thought them awake, while they were asleep. And We turned them on their right and on their left sides, and their dog stretching forth his two forelegs at the entrance [of the Cave or in the space near to the entrance of the Cave (as a guard at the gate)]. Had you looked at them, you would certainly have turned back from them in flight, and would certainly have been filled with awe of them.
19. Likewise, We awakened them (from their long deep sleep) that they might question one another. A speaker from among them said: "How long have you stayed (here)?" They said: "We have stayed (perhaps) a day or part of a day." They said: "Your Lord (Alone) knows best how long you have stayed (here). So send one of you with this silver coin of yours to the town, and let him find out which is the good lawful food, and bring some of that to you. And let him be careful and let no man know of you.
20. "For if they come to know of you, they will stone you (to death or abuse and harm you) or turn you back to their religion, and in that case you will never be successful."
21. And thus We made their case known to the people, that they might know that the Promise of Allah is true, and that there can be no doubt about the Hour. (Remember) when they (the people of the city) disputed among themselves about their case, they said: "Construct a building over them, their Lord knows best about them," (then) those who won their point said (most probably the disbelievers): "We verily shall build a place of worship over them."
22. (Some) say they were three, the dog being the fourth among them; (others) say they were five, the dog being the sixth, guessing at the unseen; (yet others) say they were seven, the dog being the eighth. Say (O Muhammad ): "My Lord knows best their number; none knows them but a few." So debate not (about their number, etc.) except with the clear proof (which We have revealed to you). And consult not any of them (people of the Scripture, Jews and Christians) about (the affair of) the people of the Cave.
23. And never say of anything, "I shall do such and such thing tomorrow."
24. Except (with the saying), "If Allah will!" And remember your Lord when you forget and say: "It may be that my Lord guides me unto a nearer way of truth than this."
25. And they stayed in their Cave three hundred (solar) years, and add nine (for lunar years).
26. Say: "Allah knows best how long they stayed. With Him is (the knowledge of) the unseen of the heavens and the earth. How clearly He sees, and hears (everything)! They have no Wali (Helper, Disposer of affairs, Protector, etc.) other than Him, and He makes none to share in His Decision and His Rule.