Drower’s Folk-Tales of Iraq 9781463211011

A collection of folktales from Iraq, dating from the 1930s, found in the archives of the famous English Lady E. S. Drowe

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Drower's Folk-Tales of Iraq




First Gorgias Press Edition, 2007 Copyright © 2007 by Gorgias Press LLC All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning or otherwise without the prior written permission of Gorgias Press LLC. Published in the United States of America by Gorgias Press LLC, New Jersey

ISBN 978-1-59333-360-7


46 Orris Ave., Piscataway, NJ 08854 USA www.gorgiaspress.com

The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standards. Printed in the United States of America

Parti by E. S. Drower

Lili, the Baghdad Christian w o m a n w h o told m a n y of the stories in this volume

To the W O M E N OF ' I R A Q with warm friendship and admiration



T is a privilege to introduce to the public a work which

breaks, as far as I know, entirely fresh ground, for no writer, European or Arab, has attempted to collect the traditional fairy tales of Mesopotamia. A number of Kurdish stories have been published, notably by Soane, Edmonds, and Ivanow. In Persian Tales (1919) Lt.-Col. D . L . R . and M r s . Lorimer have published a comprehensive selection of tales translated from Bakhtiari and Persian originals, whilst M r . H . D . Barnham's amusing Tales of Nasr-ed-Din Khoja (1923) have their roots in Turkish soil, and are scarcely older than their author, who was Court Jester to T i m u r the Lame in the fifteenth century. T o the student of folk-lore, however, Mesopotamia is almost virgin soil. T h e stories here recorded are equalled in range and interest only by Persian Tales, and appear in some respects to be of even greater antiquity. T h e y have been admirably translated, and in their present form should be no less welcome to antiquaries than to children. Ruskin once said: 'All inferior poetry is an injury to the good . . . and in general adds to the weight of human weariness in a most woeful and culpable manner.' These stories are exempt from such a charge, for the form in which they are told is as vivid as when they first fell from the lips of the narrator. In 'Iraq as elsewhere such legends as have survived have in the course of centuries been polished by the stream of time. T h e y owe their freshness in part to the qualities of clarity and conciseness that the Arabic tongue shares with Greek and Latin, and in part to the fact that the professional story-teller was wont to exercise an economy of words, supplemented with gestures the absence of which makes Englishmen seem so impassive to the rest of the world. W h a t memories do such stories call up from the p a s t — memories of our own childhood, and of our own children



— a n d of every generation from the beginning of time! ' W e know,' said M a x Miiller, Taylorian Professor in the University of Oxford, 'that all the most vital elements of our knowledge and civilization—our languages, our alphabets, our figures, our weights and measures, our art, our religion, our traditions, our very nursery stories, come to us from the East . . . but for the rays of Eastern light . . . Europe . . . might have remained for ever a barren and forgotten promontory of the primeval Asiatic continent.' This work is an important new contribution, which perhaps no one but the talented authoress could have made, to our knowledge of the undercurrents of Eastern life and thought. T h e reference at page 254 to the mechanical man of iron, which was wound like a clock, may seem comparatively modern, but the story may well be a thousand years old, for Firdausi records the construction, by the order of Alexander the Great, of an iron horse on wheels, deriving its motive power from naphtha, which moving rapidly forward, struck terror into the ranks of the enemy and scattered the elephants. Elsewhere are enshrined references to practices, now long since forgotten, which were in vogue long before the days of Alexander. I must, however, leave to scholars the task of collating these stories with Indian, Persian, and European collections, and perhaps with Semitic and Sumerian archetypes. Meanwhile, with the confidence born of personal experience, I place on record my belief that these stories will be as welcome in the nursery as in the drawing-room, and as valuable to the student of the East as any historical work. A. T. WILSON.

PREFACE one day that I was in the second decade of .my sojourn in 'Iraq, I asked myself if I could make R any useful contribution, however slight, to the sum of EALIZING

knowledge about the country. I have an advantage in being a woman, since my countrymen in 'Iraq are for the most part workers employed in official or commercial activities, and therefore with limited time and often little opportunity, to devote themselves to matters not vital to politics, business, history, or science. Moreover, as men, they are shut off from the family life of a large part of the community. As a woman I can enter where they could not, and so am free to study the country from an aspect denied to them. I turned to notes I had made about 'Iraqi customs, occupations, crafts, superstitions, practice of magic, and much else, and found amongst them several stories written down as I had heard them. These reminded me that just as there is still below the soil of 'Iraq a wealth of archaeological material as yet untouched, so there is, on the lips of the people of a country which was up to the time of the world-war remote from Western influence, a folk-lore, hitherto uncollected, which must have its origins in the earliest times. 'Iraq has been termed the Cradle of M a n kind, and if this is the case, one would expect to find traces of some of the stories which amused Mankind in his cradle, some of the lullabies which soothed him, some of the bogies which frightened him. Folk-lore is the youngest of all the sciences: she is also the most modest, since she acts as useful handmaid to her elder sisters, history, anthropology, mythology, and kindred sciences, and intelligent analysis of folk-lore yields precious fragments of information which illuminate dark corners in our knowledge of the human family, its customs, beliefs, and wanderings. I once saw a string of amber in a shop near the British Museum } each bead of which contained a fly. Similarly, in 3800 k



the stories and legends of 'Iraq the skilled reader will perceive embalmed amid all the nonsense and fancy, scraps of mythology, religion, saga, and tribal custom far older than the fable which clothes them. In the very fact that such and such a folk-story appears in other countries may lurk information as to a race migration, a foreign conquest, a trade route, or the like. The folk-stories of 'Iraq come from many varied sources, for 'Iraq, lying as it does between Near East and Far East, has been one of the world's highways and battlegrounds. Wave after wave of migration, conquest, and settlement have surged over it, Sumerian, Chaldaean, Cassite, Assyrian, Persian, Arab, and Turkish; each race in turn contributing something of its religious beliefs, customs, sagas, and traditions to the folk-lore of the country. Merchant caravans in their slow progress from the Mediterranean seaboard or cities of Cathay or India, Jewish captives, negro settlers and slaves, travellers, and wandering gipsies must all have added to 'Iraqi folk-lore and distributed it. Stress must be laid particularly on the instrumentation of imported slaves, for part of a slave's duty is to entertain his owner by tale and song. Lastly, in Moslem times, we have the yearly caravans of pilgrims passing to and fro, and colonies of pilgrims in the holy cities, such as Karbala and Najaf. It is not surprising, therefore, if the folk-stories and folk-lore of 'Iraq are of a very composite nature, and much of the material gathered here is already familiar to students of folk-lore, if only in translations from the Persian, Armenian, and Turkish, not to mention the more universally known Grimm. In my notes I call attention to a few of these parallels. It is rarely that a whole story is transplanted from one nation to another; indeed, it would seem rather as though incidents in stories were drawn from the same lucky-bag. Intercourse between Persia, Armenia, Syria, Turkey, and 'Iraq has been continuous, and it would be surprising if there were not a common stock of legend. But it is useful to see what the

Preface xi individual genius of each people makes of the same raw material. As soon as I concentrated upon this particular form of research I discovered how delightful the quest can prove. Not only did it bring me into touch with a great manyinteresting and pleasant personalities, but it gave me an excuse for wandering about the country, and experiencing the charming hospitality of tribal shaikhs and other persons. The art of story-telling, an old one in the East, is declining in 'Iraq, and in the towns few, almost none, of the present generation possess it. Story-telling up till twenty years ago was a lucrative profession and a recognized accomplishment. Men story-tellers sat in the coffeehouses or suqs and were paid, or received gratuities, for their recitations; women story-tellers were always welcome in the harems. Now, the cinema and gramophone have replaced the story-teller in the towns, and though in most families there is to be found an old slave, dependant, or relative who tells tales in the familv circle, even these are becoming few, and much of the folk-lore which has been handed down by word of mouth from generation to generation will gradually be forgotten altogether. When wireless is added to the cinema and gramophone, the process will be accelerated, for the 'Iraqi is quick to profit by all such Western inventions, and before long the very tribesmen in the desert will be listening-in to concerts and possibly political propaganda broadcast from some Near or Middle Eastern radio station. All the tales in this volume are in actual circulation to-day. Many of them are lacking in finish and construction, many of them show palpable gaps, but I have tried to reproduce faithfully as far as possible the spirit and manner in which they were told, and have striven throughout not to be over-free in translation but to follow the Arabic as nearly as I could. Some stories are verbally translated, but not all, for amateur shorthand, scribbled while the stories were being told, was only adequate when the narrators spoke slowly and paused sentence by j


xii Preface sentence. These narrators included all kinds and classes of people: a Cabinet Minister, schoolmasters, Moslem and Christian ladies, their servants and slaves, tribesmen and tribeswomen. They were not all of equal skill. The best narrator I met with was a Baghdad Christian woman, though a Moslem lady of tribal origin, a charming woman of much artistic ability, came very near her in proficiency. The Christian, an illiterate, one-eyed woman of between fifty and sixty, became lost to her surroundings from the moment she squatted on the floor and embarked upon her tale. She was a good actress and employed gesture and change of voice to aid her graphic and racy speech. She had her stories, she said, from her grandmother, who was fond of relating them, and declared that these stories, heard when she was very young, were the only ones she could remember accurately. Among other stories I took down from her lips was the well-known classic from the Thousand Nights and One Night entitled 'The Story of Hasan of A1 Basrah'. Space forbade me to include her version in this volume, but it was interesting to find how close the oral tradition keeps to the written word. I was careful not to read the original story until I had set down the tale as she told it. I made my collection in Baghdad, Mosul, and the desert north of Mosul, but not, I am sorry to say, in Basrah or the South. I hope in the future to be able to gather some folk-lore in Southern 'Iraq. Mr. John Van Ess, whose Spoken Arabic of Mesopotamia is a standard work, and who knows 'Iraq and the 'Iraqis better than any living European or American, tells me that the South is rich in folk-tales and that the practice of voodoo amongst the black slaves there deserves study. Now as to the form of the stories. At the beginning of the recital it is usual to utter some verselet such as (among Moslems), Hnak, ma hnak Ya 'ashqin an Nabi Salltialaih

'Here, not here, Oh lovers of the Prophet, Pray for Him,'

Preface xiii to which the audience reply in chorus, Elf as salät Was saläm 'alaik ya rasül Allah; 'A thousand prayers And peace upon thee, oh Prophet of God;' while both Moslems and Christians employ the formula: Kän u ma kän (or kän ma kän)1 'Ala Allah at Tuklän 'It was and it was not. (Our) reliance is upon God.' Conventional tags and verselets occur in the course of the story, and at its conclusion comes another little jingle such as, Kunna 'adkum wa fin a Wad daß umgarg a wal 'arüs hazlna. 'We were with you and came back And the tambourine is rattling and the bride sad.' or, Hadhal hechäya Nusha chedhbäya (Nusfha kadhab) Wa lo baitna qafib Kunt afib likum Tubeg hummus wa tubeg axbib. 'This story is half-lie, And were our house near, I'd bring you a dish of beans and a dish of raisins.' These tags will appear from time to time in their proper places. The matter of the tales is, as I have said, very varied. It might seem easy to classify the tales into groups of 1 Kän u ma kän, or kän ma Mn. It is difficult to find the true translation for this tag, the literal translation being somewhat unmeaning. A local name for folk-tales is 'Kän mä kän stories' and the tag may come from some classical source. Turkish and Armenian stories sometimes open 'There was was not' (a king, man, &c.), much as we begin 'Once upon a time'. I think the purpose of the rhyme is twofold, first to imply that the story is a fanciful one, and second to invoke God's name against malign influences which might be conjured up by the narration, especially when the jänn appear in it.



'nursery' tales, 'nursery'jingles, animal fables, tales of the Grimm Household Tales type, tales of the Arabian Nights type, and anecdotes told about supernatural beings by people who believe them to be true experiences; or they might be divided according to probable origin. But I found my attempts to arrange the stories into categories unsatisfactory, and so I have left them in no rational order at all, merely stating some particulars about the narrator of each tale at the end of the volume. At the end of the volume too will be found such notes as do not actually elucidate the text, but rather the matter of the stories, and references to a few collections of Persian, Armenian, and Turkish folk-tales which contain parallel stories. Practically every tale set down here is of some type well known to folk-lorists, such, for example, as the stories in which jann, or fairy-folk, don at will the appearance of birds, a type familiar to us in the legend of the Swan Maidens. 1 When one finds them in 'Iraq, one is bound to recall the bird-men of the early cylinder-seals, and the representations of men dressed in bird's plumage which one finds from time to time on Sumerian objects. Again, the description of the condition of the dead in the underworld in the Babylonian epic of the Descent of Ishtar into the dark realm 'where dust is their food and earth their eating', is significant: T h e y see not light and sit in darkness, T h e y are dressed like a bird with a garment of wings.

In short, the bird has always been symbolical of the soul, and the story of the Thorn-seller, with its other-world bridegroom coming in the guise of a bird, recalls both the Sumerian dwellers in the underworld and the legend of Lohengrin. T h e likeness to the latter and other folk-tales of the sort is heightened when the bird-man in the Arab story vanishes from the ken of his human bride the instant that his name and nature are proclaimed. There is one great difference between fairy-tales told to an 'Iraqi child and those told in an English nursery. T h e 1

Cf. The Science of Fairy Tales, by E . S. Hartland, Chap. X, 'Swan-maidens'.

Preface xv English nurse or mother does not believe in the existence of fairies or ogres, whereas the 'Iraqi story-teller very often does. To the vast mass of the population of 'Iraq, exceptions being only found amongst the small educated minority, the supernatural beings which appear in tale and anecdote really exist. On the other hand, I have lived over ten years in the country and have never heard a ghost tale. I do not say that they do not exist, but I personally never heard one, and when one hears of a house that is maskun, or haunted, it is never haunted by the dead, only by jinn. I have asked some of the women the reason, and their reply is usually something like this: 'Why should the dead return ? When they are dead, they go to their proper place.' This is curious, seeing that Sumerian and Babylonian literature is full of belief in ghosts and of directions how to propitiate them. But traces of the ancient ghostcult do linger in a few of the stories such as 'The Story of the Boy and the Deyus', again proving the survival of ideas in folk-stories after they have disappeared from popular belief. It will be necessary to say something of the various supernatural beings which appear in these pages. Western readers are already familiar with thcjinni, 'afrit, and ghiil which appear so often in the pages of the Arabian Nights, but they may know less of other demons and ogres which figure in the pandemonium of the 'Iraqis, such as the s'iluwa, the deyu, the dami, the se'ir, the tantal, the tabi'a, the urn es sabyan, and the qarina. I will only deal here with such of these mythological beings as occur in the stories, for I hope to discuss the folklore of 'Iraq more exhaustively in a future book. The s'iluwa occupies much the same role in 'Iraqi legend as the witch or ogress in Western fairy-tales. She is a water-spirit, for she dwells in the river or in caves near running streams. Her body is covered with long hair, her breasts are pendant, reaching her knees, and when she wishes to suckle her children, whom she carries on her back, she throws her breasts over her shoulder. In shape, she is like a woman, but is represented sometimes as



having a fish's tail instead of two legs. She is fond of human flesh, but at the same time she has a partiality for human lovers. She is mortal like all the creations of Allah, except the angels, and she fears iron. Judging from some of the many stories about the s'iluwa, I am inclined to think that this demon is a composite myth made out of some ancient river-goddess cult and the anecdotes which African slaves have told of the great apes.1 Another river demon is called the ferij aqraa. He is fond of playing tricks on fishermen and river-dwellers, but does not seem to be such a dangerous being as the


Like her, he has either a fish's tail or weak legs. He resembles an old man, but his head is red and bald and the hair of his beard is green. A Shammari tribesman once told me that a shaikh camped beside the Euphrates, noticing that his mare which had formerly been tireless and strong, became weak and dispirited, had some pitch smeared one night on her back. The next morning they found a ferij aqraa astride her, struggling in vain to flee away after his nocturnal ride. The shaikh's people fell on the monster and killed it with their knives. An appearance resembling this demon was reported in a Baghdad paper as lately as August 1922. The dami is a half-bestial ogress which haunts the outskirts of towns. Like Babylonian and Assyrian demons, 1 One day when speaking about sliluiuat to my head-servant, a Bahreini, I said to him, 'Are there such creatures near Bahrein ?' He replied that there were, and that people were sometimes attacked by them in the desert. I asked, 'Have you ever seen one ?' He replied, 'Yes.' I asked him to tell me how and where, and to my surprise, he answered, 'In London, when I went there with Faisal Ibn Saud.' (The man had been attached to Faisal Ibn Saud's suite when he visited London at the end of the War.) Pressed for details, he continued, 'Mr. Philby took us one day to a large garden where there were many animals. There were s'iliiuoat, two of them, male and female, in a box, and the box was adorned with adornment. No one was allowed to come near them but one, an Englishman, who guarded them.' I said, 'What you saw were monkeys, Mubarak.' He replied, 'No, khaturt, monkeys we saw there, too, many of them, but these were of the nature of man.' The Arabic for gorilla is J ^ c ghiil (anglic£, ghoul), indicating again that the Arabs take the larger apes for demons.



its usual food is dirt, refuse, and leavings of all kinds, though it has also a liking for human flesh. In 'Iraqi folk-tales it often takes the role assigned in European fairy-stories to the wolf. T h e qarina is a female demon. She will attach herself to a man, draw away his affection from his wife or bride, and even have children by him. A n unmarried man is often thought to have a qarina1 as his wife. Amorous dreams are put down to intercourse with her. She is supposed to be very jealous and to injure any human woman on whom her human lover may have set his affections. She also steals or kills babies. It has been pointed out by M r . Campbell-Thompson that she is probably the direct descendant of the Babylonian ardat lilt? T h e deyu is another rustic demon who haunts woods or desolate places. H e and his female counterpart occur so often in these pages that their habits may be gathered from them. T h e se'ir was described to me by a Shammar tribesman as haunting desolate places and ruins, especially Hatra. In appearance, he said, it was a very old man with a beard to its knees, one eye, very long teeth with iron on them, and toe-nails of iron. It devours human beings. I have only heard of this demon from the Shammar: in Baghdad and the south it is not apparently known. In M r . Campbell-Thompson's Semitic Magic, p. 57, I find: 'It appears from several poetical passages of the Old Testament that the Northern Semites believed in demons of a precisely similar kind—hairy beings (se'irim), nocturnal monsters (/ilith), which haunted waste and desolate places in fellowship with jackals and ostriches.'

T o judge from the story told me by the Shammar, this ogre is related to the Cyclops of Greek legend. I hope that 'Iraqis who read this book will be kind enough to furnish me with any information which may be in their possession about all these creatures of the night, for 'Iraq is a vast storehouse of folk-lore and legend. In 1 2


In Armenian folk-tales she is called the A l . R. Campbell-Thompson, Semitic Magic, pp. 67 and 77. _

xviii Preface offering these tales, drawn from my own imperfect and always growing collection, to a British public, I hope to prove how rich the country is in such treasure. I have not printed here stories which are obscene, but those given are unbowdlerized. I deemed it better to offer the stories in their natural form, without paraphrase or excuse. I wish to thank most warmly those friends who have aided me in my work. The story-tellers head the list, and kind people like Madame Tatheossian, Shaikh 'Ajll al Yawir, and members of the Naqlb's family who have put me into touch with them. Next comes 'Abd al Aziz Beg Mudhaffar, who was good enough to take a warm interest in the collection and to verify the correctness of the various tags of verse in dialect. To Sir Arnold Wilson, who was the first European to whom I showed this collection, I am most grateful, in the first place for his great kindness in contributing an introduction to this book, and secondly for much helpful suggestion and encouragement. I must also thank Professor Alfred Guillaume, for valuable advice on certain points of Arabic transcription and translation which were referred to him when the book was in proof.

CONTENTS Note on transliteration I. T h e Crazy Woman

















. .

. .

. .










36 40

II. T h e Goat and the Old Woman III. Three Little Mice


I V . T h e Sparrow and his Wife V . Dungara Khsheyban V I . T h e Crystal Ship




V I I . T h e Old Couple and their Goat V I I I . Shamshum al Jabbar I X . Husain an Nim-Nim

14 20 27

X . T h e Blackbeetle who Wished to get Married X I . T h e Thorn-seller







X I I . T h e Blind Sultan










74 80

X I I I . Jarada




X I V . T h e Stork and the Jackal X V . 'It is not the Lion's Fur Coat!'


X V I . T w o stories of Abu Nowas


X V I I . A story of the Khalifa Harun ar Rashid X V I I I . Another story of the Khalifa X I X . T h e Tricks of Jann . . . X X . It was Enough to bewilder the Lion . X X I . T w o Nursery Rhymes



X X I I . T h e Bitter Orange . . X X I I I . Tale told by a Shammar Tribesman

87 .

89 91





93 95 98



X X I V . Shammar Stories. I.


X X V . Shammar Stories. II.


X X V I . Shammar Stories. III. X X V I I . Hajir


112 .











X X V I I I . T h e Woman of the Well X X I X . Hasan the Thief


X X X . Moses and the T w o Men


120 141



X X X I . A1 Gumeyra (Little Moon) X X X I I . T h e Three Dervishes and the Wonderful Lamp X X X I I I . T h e King and the Three Maidens, or the Doll of Patience . . . . X X X I V . T h e Merchant's Daughter X X X V . Wudayya (Little White Shell) . X X X V I . T h e Poor Girl and Her Cow . X X X V I I . T h e Prince and the Daughter of the Thornseller . . . . . . X X X V I I I . Uhdeydan, Uch'eyban, and Unkheylan X X X I X . Melek Muhammad and the Ogre . . . . . . X L . Er Rum X L I . T h e Cotton-carder and Kasilun . . . . . . X L I I . Bunayya X L I I I . T h e Cat . . . . X L I V . T h e Fish that Laughed . . . . X L V . T h e Honest Man X L V I . T h e Generous Man and the Niggardly Man X L V I I . T h e Boy and the Deyus X L V I I I . T h e Shepherd and his Brother NOTES








142 H5 157 162 183 187 194 205 210 219 224 231 246 253 263 267 275 287 293

LIST OF PLATES Lili, the Baghdad Christian woman who told many of the stories in this volume . . . . Frontispiece Gipsy entertainers in an encampment of tribesmen facing p. x A corpse being taken to burial at Najaf . 34 Digging a well in the desert west of Mosul 55 34 Building a kelek on the Tigris. Photograph by Mr. R. Gorbold 36 55 Thorn-gatherers . . . . . . 55 64 A kibabchi, Baghdad . . . . . . 55 64 Weaving grass mats, Karbala . . . . 55 96 96 A grass rope maker (fattal), Hillah 55 106 T h e great tent of Shaikh 'Ajll al Yawir . 55 Shammar tribesmen . . . . . . 55 106 T h e coffee-maker in the g u e s t - t e n t . . . . 55 n o 110 T h e women's quarters in a Shammar shaikh's tent 55 An encampment of poor Bedu . . . . 55 134 A Bedawi woman grinding corn . . . . 55 134 A Shammar girl . . . . . . 55 138 A cobbler, Baghdad . . . . . . 55 160 An oasis pool, Shithatha . . . . . 55 176 A street in Baghdad with jutting windows (shenashil) . 55 198 Spinning cotton . . . . . . 55 198 Shammar tribesmen eating . . . . . 55 236 A shaikh's wife and her servants . . . . 55 236 A hawker, Najaf . . . . . . 55 258 A fisherman on the Tigris, throwing his net. By per258 mission of Messrs. Abbosh & Co., Baghdad 55 288 A Bedawi shepherd, Northern 'Iraq 55

NOTE ON TRANSLITERATION A L L the stories in this collection (with the exception o f four, A Stories X I V , X X , X X X I I I , and X L V ) were related to me in Arabic. T h e language was the vulgar colloquial dialect o f ' I r a q , and as such I have tried to reproduce it in the verselets and quotations. A n attempt to reproduce dialect must necessarily be exposed to criticism, and is far from easy. I have tried to reproduce Arabic and other Oriental words in the w a y that they were spoken, but in general have endeavoured to give the reader the clue to the literary word or root (where it exists). It is no service to truth to force these stories o f the people into a mould which has been disused for centuries in common talk. T h e r e is not one dialect and pronunciation, but many. E v e n in Baghdad, the Christians, Jews, and Moslems all pronounce their words differently and employ their o w n corruptions o f speech, and this is further accentuated because the w o m e n still further exaggerate differences and employ words rarely used by men. T h e leading characteristics o f the dialect are as follows: (1) k d is rendered ch. (2) q j becomes g or j. (3) T h e vulgar reverse their syllables in speaking, e. g. ta becomes at, mu becomes urn, and so forth. (4) O t h e r vulgarisms are mispronunciations, e. g. jina kho for hadha al,'ad for 'and, & c .



(5) T h e use o f Persian and T u r k i s h words, such as khosh and chol. T h e s e are used throughout the country and by well-educated and ill-educated alike. (6) A plentiful use of the diminutive, e. g. shuwaiyib (little old man). T h e vowels also change in the spoken word, and more so in the South than in the N o r t h ; for example V a n Ess rightly gives the Basrawi keteb for the correct kataba (he wrote), while the Baghdad Moslem says katab. Everywhere malik (king) is pronounced melek, and it would be incorrect to transcribe the word in its literary form. F o r shortcomings in my efforts to reproduce tags and verselets as I heard them, I offer my apologies. I thought it better to risk writing rubbish than to force the verses into something w h i c h though grammatically correct, was certainly not what I heard. F o r the transcription o f Arabic I have, at the suggestion o f m y publishers, employed the system, slightly modified, to indicate dialect characteristics, recommended by the Royal Geographical Society. In



the vernacular the difference between a heavy consonant and a light consonant is barely perceptible to the untrained European ear, and the Arabic scholar will readily perceive the letter intended. I have retained certain Arabic words in the text, e.g. süq, as the words 'market' or 'town' do not convey the meaning. T h e Indian word 'bazaar' comes nearer, but to use the Arabic word is preferable. Similarly, 'cloak' and 'coat' do not translate'aba with any exactness.






was once a woman whose intellect was feeble.

She was not possessed, but wanting. H e r husband was a raqq'a, a cobbler, and he had a friend, a shepherd, who brought him one day two fleeces of wool from his sheep and said, 'Get an 'aba made with that for yourself.' T h e cobbler replied, 'I am much obliged. T h a n k y o u ! ' and he took it home, and said to his wife, ' O woman, do you know who will spin this wool ? I want to get it m a d e into an 'aba.' 1 Answered she, ' Y e s ! I know.' H e gave her the wool, and where did she g o ? She walked to the ditch outside the South Gate, which was full of green water, and the frogs croaking in it, qurrutch! qurrutch! qurrutch! K r k ! K r k ! T h e woman called to them, 'Cousins! M y cousins!' T h e y answered, ' Q u r r u t c h ! Q u r r u t c h ! k k ! k k ! ' She thought they answered her, and said, 'I have brought you some wool for you to spin into an 'aba for my husband, can you do it?' T h e y answered, ' K - k ! k-k! qurrutch! qurrutch!' A s k e d she, ' A n d when shall I come for it ?' Said they, ' Q u r r u t c h ! k - k ! ' Said she, 'Aye, a month! Good, I will come for it!' A n d she threw the two fleeces into the ditch, and then returned home. Said her husband, ' D i d you leave my wool to be spun ?' Answered she, 'Aye, husband, I left it with my maternal cousins!' H e thought to himself, ' I never heard that she had cousins, but perhaps she h a s ! ' and he said to her, 'When will they bring it ?' She replied, 'I am going to fetch it in a month's time.'

1 T h e universal outer garment of the Arab. It is woven either of wool or of silk, and is embroidered at the neck and on the shoulders with gold thread. It is square in cut, and has wide sleeves.




The Crazy Woman The month passed, and another month, and yet another month, and the man said to his wife, 'It is now three months and my 'aba is not ready, I will go with you and get it. Where do your cousins live?' Said she, 'Near the South Gate!' So they walked and walked, and came to the South Gate, and when the man asked where the house was, she pointed to the ditch, and said, ' M y cousins live there!' while the frogs said, 'Krr-rr! kk-kk! qtsch! qurrutch!' The man looked, and there he saw the two fleeces in the water, all green, and rotten, and spoiled! How angry he was! H e beat her, crying, 'You crazy creature! You idiot! you fool!' and when they got back, he shut the door on her and went to bed, leaving her outside in the road, although it was growing dark. As for him, he went to sleep. Di! the night wore on until it was nearly midnight. The woman still sat by the road, and her husband was asleep inside. A cat passed by, and she thought that her husband had relented and sent the cat to fetch her in, so she said to the cat, Futi, futi, ma aji ! B'ath 'aleya pishpish1 khatun Ma. aji! 'Go away, go away! H e has sent Miss Pussy for me, I won't come!' A little after that, a dog went by. The woman cried: Eyhu! b'ath 'aleya aush-aiishera Ma aji, ma aji! Fut, jut! 'Goodness gracious! he has sent a Bow-wow for me now, But I won't come! So go away!' Now it happened that a thief had been at work that night in the Sultan's house, and presently he came walking 1

'Pish!' is the exclamation used in shooing a cat away.

The Crazy Woman


with the stolen treasure on the back of a camel. The camel strayed from the path, and stopped in front of the woman who cried:

B'ath pishpish khatun, ma ruhtu ! Aush-aushera ma ruhtu Hadha hob-hobera,1 lazim aruh wiyahu! 'He sent a Miss Pussy, but I wouldn't go ! H e sent a Bow-wow, but I wouldn't go! But now here is Mr. H u m p ! I must go with MmY So she rose and knocked at the door, and called to her husband: 'You sent Miss Pussy, and I wouldn't come! And you sent a Bow-wow, and I wouldn't come! But now you have sent Mr. Hump, I must come!' Now the man was beginning to feel sorry that he had left the woman out in the cold, and he opened the door, and there was the woman with a camel. H e said, 'Where did you get this camel ?' Answered she, 'You sent it to me!' So he drove the camel inside into the yard, and said to his wife, 'It is cold, go in and sleep!' And when she had gone, and he knew that she was asleep, he opened the saddle-bags, and found them full of treasure! H e got a spade and made a hole and buried it all, then he killed the camel, and buried it too, only keeping a piece of the meat. This he took and made of it some kubbeh 2 and cooked it, then he went up to sleep. Now there came some neighbours from a house near by, and they knocked at the door, and cried to the woman, 'We want to go down to the river to get water!'3 H e heard the women knocking, and roused his wife and said, 'Go, wife, see who knocks at the door!' She went, and they took her with them to go down to the river to get water. 1

Hob! is a cameleer's cry. Rissoles of meat, •within a casing of rice or wheat. 3 Women do not like to go out at night by themselves, or in twos or threes, they prefer a larger number for safety. 2


The Crazy Woman While they were gone the man took a dish of the kubbeh on to the roof, and as soon as his wife came back from the river, he threw some of the kubbeh at her; then he went back to bed and pretended to sleep. Cried the woman, 'Come, neighbours! Come! It is raining kubbeh!' The women picked up the kubbeh which he had thrown and ate it, and then they went away. Came the woman to her husband and roused him, saying, 'O husband! husband!' H e answered, 'What is it ? You won't let me get any sleep!' Said she, 'Come! It has been raining kubbeh!' H e looked at what she had brought, and said, 'Yes, it is indeed kubbeh! From whence did it come ?' and ate of it. She replied, 'It came from the skies: when we came back from the river, it rained kubbeh upon us!' Said he, 'Suduqf 'Truth?' Then they both went to sleep. The next day the cobbler went to his work as usual, and the next day and the next, but on the third day, a crier went through the town, crying, 'Has any one seen a camel bearing the Sultan's saddle-bags on its back?' The woman heard it, and she called to the crier, saying, 'The camel is in our house, come, come! M y husband took it into our yard!' She led them into the house, but they found nothing. Then they asked her, 'Where is your husband?' She said, 'In the suq,' 1 and sent a boy to show them where her husband sat in the suq, mending old shoes. The police seized him, and bore him off to the serai, saying, 'The Sultan wants you!' When he got to the serai they brought him before the mudir of the police, and accused him saying, 'You have a camel, with saddle-bags on its back.' 1

Place of shops. See note, p. xv. T h e suq is usually a covered-in street with booths on either side. Trades are apt to congregate together, so that there is a suq of the slipper-makers, another of coppersmiths, and so on.

The Crazy Woman 5 H e answered, 'No! By Allah!' They said, 'Do not prevaricate, your wife has already confessed.' H e said, 'It is a lie, I have no camel. I am a poor cobbler, and every one knows me for an honest man. Where should I put a camel ?' They said, 'Your wife came to the crier and said that you took into your yard a camel with saddle-bags on its back.' H e replied, 'Will you bring my wife here, and examine her before me, and allow me to ask her questions ?' They answered, 'Yes, she may come,' and they sent for her, and said to her, 'Your husband has sent for you: he is in the serai. Come with us.' She replied, 'Aye, I will come, but he told me to keep guard on the door, and how can I do that if I go to the serai? I had best bring the door with me!' So she took the door off its hinges1 and put it on her head and went to the serai. When she arrived, the mudir said, 'What is this ? Why is this woman carrying a door on her head ?' She answered, 'O my uncle, my husband told me not to leave the door of the house, so I've brought it with me!' Said the cobbler, 'Tell the police all that happened the day you say I took the camel with saddle-bags into the house.' She replied, 'That was the day you asked for the caba, and I took you outside the city to see if my cousins the frogs had spun the wool. Then you beat me and pushed me outside our door. And that night you sent Miss Pussy to ask me to return, and I would not, and then you sent Mr. Bow-wow to ask me, and I would not, and then you sent Mr. Hump, and I went with him, and you let us both in.' Said the man, 'What else happened that night?' Answered she, 'Why, yes, husband! That was surely the night when it rained kubbeh!' 1 A n 'Iraqi door is often made on the ancient Sumerian pattern and hooks into its hinges. Hence it can easily be removed if it is not closed.


The Crazy Woman

The mudlr cried, 'What is this rubbish!' Said she, 'But it is truth, O mudlr, I was coming back from the river, and it rained kubbeh from heaven and I ate some!' Said they, 'The woman is crazy!' and then they said to him, 'Go! There is no accusation against you!' And the man went home, and he divorced his wife, and after that he dug up the bags one night, and travelled away to another city, where he lived like a rich man on the Sultan's treasure.



H E R E was once upon a time an old woman who had a goat, and they lived in a little mud hut, and in the yard there was a well. One day it began to rain, and it rained so hard that the roof leaked, and the old woman said to the goat, ' M y goat, we can't keep dry here, let us get into the well.' The goat replied, 'I won't go down.' Said the old woman, 'You won't go down ?' Said the goat, 'No.' Said the old woman, 'Shall I call the butcher to kill you ?' Said the goat, 'Go away!' So the old woman went to the butcher and said,

Imshi tdhbah 'anuzi Anuzi ma yirdha yinzal bilbirl

'Go and kill my goat M y goat won't go down the well!'

The butcher said, 'I won't come out in this rain, go away, go away!' Said she, 'Shall I bring the smith to make your knives blunt?' Said he, 'Go away!' Then she went to the smith, and said, 'Smith, go and make the butcher's knives blunt! the butcher won't kill my goat, and my goat won't go down the well!' The smith said, 'Go away, go away! I won't go out in this rain!' She said, 'Shall I bring the river to quench your fire?' He said, 'Away!' So she went to the river and said, 'River, river, quench the smith's fire. The smith won't blunt the butcher's knives, And the butcher won't kill my goat, And my goat won't go down the well.'


The Goat and the Old Woman The river said, 'Away, away!' She said, 'Shall I go and call the camel to drink you ? The river said, 'Go away!' Then she went to the camel and said, 'Camel, camel, drink the river, The river won't quench the smith's fire, And the smith won't blunt the butcher's knives, And the butcher won't kill my goat, And my goat won't go down the well!' The camel said, 'Go away, I won't come in this rain!' She said, 'Shall I bring rope to strangle you with?' H e said, 'Go away!' Then she went to the rope, and said, 'Rope, rope, strangle the camel The camel won't drink the river, The river won't quench the smith's fire, The smith won't blunt the butcher's knives, The butcher won't kill my goat, And my goat won't go down the well!'

The rope said, 'Go away, go away! I won't come in such rain!' Said she, 'Shall I call the rat to come and nibble you?' H e said, 'Go away!' So she went to the rat and said, 'Rat, rat, nibble the rope, The rope won't strangle the camel, The camel won't drink the river, The river won't quench the smith's fire, The smith won't blunt the butcher's knives, The butcher won't kill my goat, And my goat won't go down the well!' The rat said, 'Go away, go away! I won't go out in this rain!' Said she, 'And if I bring the cat to come and eat you ?' H e said 'Away!'

The Goat and the Old Woman Then she went to the cat and said, 'Cat, cat! eat the rat, The rat won't nibble the rope, The rope won't strangle the camel, The camel won't drink the river, The river won't quench the smith's fire, The smith won't blunt the butcher's knives, The butcher won't kill my goat, And my goat won't go down the well!'


Said the cat, 'Where is the rat? Lead me to it!' The cat was about to spring, when the rat said, 'No, no! I am going to nibble the rope!' The rope said, 'No, no! I am going to strangle the camel!' The camel said, 'No, no! I am going to drink the river!' The river said, 'No, no! I am going to quench the smith's fire!' The smith said, 'No, no! I am going to blunt the butcher's knives!' The butcher said, 'No, no! I am going to kill the goat!' And the goat said, 'No, no! no!' and it went down the well, and the old woman after it.





Kan ma kan 'Ala Allah wat Tuklan Kul men 'aleyhu dhanb yaqul Istaghjar Allah ! 'Was it, was it not, Upon Allah, the Worthy of Reliance, All who have sinned must say, "I ask pardon of Allah!"'



were once three little mice, who were sisters.

The eldest was called Hanni, the middle sister was Manni, and the youngest was called Tariaqsanni. Hanni lived in a baker's shop and sat in it. Manni lived in a butcher's shop and sat in it. Tariaqsanni lived in a greengrocer's shop and sat in it. Now one day, Tariaqsanni fell sick. A man came riding into the town to buy bread, meat, and vegetables, and the first shop he went to was the greengrocer's to buy some dates. When he entered the shop, he heard a tiny voice speaking to him: Ta rakib al jaras Ta muchanchin bi jar as, Qiil, It ukhti, It Hanni, li Manni Tariaqsanni qa [i. e. qad~\ tamut! 'O rider on the mare With jingling bells, Tell my sisters Hanni and Manni That Tariaqsanni is like to die.' The man on horseback (abul faras) then rode on to the baker (abul khabz), and as he bought bread from him, he said, 4 When I was in the greengrocer's shop just now, I heard a little voice coming from the shop which said, " O rider on the mare with jingling bells, Tell my sisters Hanni and Manni That Tariaqsanni is like to die."'

Three Little Mice Now Hanni heard his words, and no sooner had they left his mouth than she went running to her sister Manni and told her, 'A man came to my shop, and he told me that our sister Tariaqsanni is like to die!' Then Hanni and Manni went together, running, running, running, to the greengrocer's shop to see their sick sister. They comforted her, saying, 'Please Allah, you will get well and we will all go out into the chol1 for a little change of air.' And in time, Tariaqsanni got well. Then each mouse made provision for the journey. Hanni took some bread with her: Manni took some meat with her, and Tariaqsanni took some dates. Then they set forth and journeyed into the chdl,1 each carrying her food in her mouth. Presently they met a dog, who barked at them and pursued them. They ran away from him affrighted, and took refuge in a hole at the mouth of a well. Then the dog came and barked over the well, saying thrice

Umm al bir, umm al bir2 Tisqa fi rasech alkabtrl

'Well-mother, Well-mother, Thou who givest to drink from thy wide mouth!' Then crying, 'If you had had sense or forethought, you would not have come to the Mother of the Well!' he jumped in and ate Hanni, Manni, and Tariaqsanni—

all up!

1 Chol (Turkish). This word, which occurs often throughout these tales, may be translated as 'desert', 'prairie', 'the wide world', 'the country', or 'the outskirts of a town'. In short, 'chol' (pronounced to rhyme with bowl) is the townsman's word for whatever lies outside the wall of the city, and is always used in this sense in Baghdad. Just without the city wall, or just outside the door of house or tent—all is 'chol'. T o a townsman the chol is a place of danger and fear, to a tribesman it is his natural surrounding. 2 Umm al bir. The dog is addressing the spirit of the well. A female spirit is supposed to haunt every well. See p. 120.



H E R E was once a sparrow who was happily married and lived in a tree. One day he went out and bought seven grains of corn, for he wished to give a party. H e brought the grains back to his wife, and then flew off to ask other sparrows to come to the feast. But he lingered on his errand, and when she had waited a long time for her husband to return, she was so hungry that she ate up all the seven grains, one after the other. Just as she had finished, her husband flew back and his guests with him, and said to her, 'Bring the seven grains, for we are hungry!' She answered him, 'Pardon! O my husband, you were so long away that I became weary and faint with hunger, and I ate the seven grains!' H e was very angry, and then and there before his guests he divorced her, saying three times, 'Woman, I divorce you!' 1 Then she flew off to her people and the guests flew away to their houses, and the sparrow remained alone to repent his hastiness to his wife, for he loved her. So after a little, he flew to the tree where she lived with her family and perched on a bough. The wife-sparrow called out, 'Who has alighted on my father's tree ?' The sparrow answered, 'It is I, it is I! Little witch, little pecker! Little feathered and billed wife, I want you back! I want you home!' Ana! ana! Bint as sahtra Bint an naqira Bint abul rish wal manqara Jtna nsalah marrtna Ta'tuna ilia naradd lil wara ! 1 T o say thrice before witnesses 'I divorce you' is a legal divorce. T h e story is a playful indictment of hasty divorce.

The Sparrow and his Wife


But she answered him, 'Go away! return whence you came!' The next day he flew to her father's tree again, and she asked, 'Who has alighted on my father's tree ?' H e answered as before: 'It is I, it is I! Little witch, little pecker, little feathered and billed wife! I came because I want you back, I want you home!' But she answered, 'Go away! return whence you came!' So it was each day. But one morning, the sparrow went to the sewingwoman, and said, 'I want a green thread, a yellow thread, a blue thread, a red thread, and a lilac thread!' And the sewing-woman gave him all five threads in five colours. Then he took them in his bill and flew to the tree of his wife's father. Cried she, 'Who is it that has alighted on my father's tree?' Answered he, 'It is I, it is I! Little witch, little pecker, little billed and feathered wife! I came because I want you back, I want you home!' She made reply, 'Go away! return whence you came!' But he said, 'A red, and a green, a yellow, a blue, and a lilac (thread) I have brought. Will you give her to me, or shall I return without her ?' Bil dhmari, bil akhdhari Bil dsfari bil mdwi bil lilaqi Ta tuna ilia naradd lil wara ?

Then she uttered joy-cries and flew down to him, and took the threads in her beak, and flew back with him to their nest. She wove the threads into it then they bought some more corn and gave a party to all their friends. 1 Threads of different colours interwoven are a charm against the evil eye. Cf. R . Campbell-Thompson, Semitic Magic, p. 164.



H E R E was once a man who had two daughters, and both grew up and married. The elder daughter married a wealthy man, but the younger chose a poor man. One day, at a time when the younger was pregnant and near her delivery, she felt a longing to eat some lentil soup. She went to her elder sister, and said, 'Can you give me some lentils, for I have a longing for lentil soup.' The elder said, 'I will cook you some lentil soup.' So the younger sister sat, and the elder sister cooked soup, and while she was cooking it, she heated red-hot in the fire a skewer. When she brought the soup, and the younger sister sat to eat it, she ran the skewer into the other's thigh, and the younger sister fled away, hungry, leaving her soup uneaten. She returned to her husband, and asked him to go and find some lentils for her, and he went off to try to get some. While she sat in the house, waiting for him, her pains came upon her, and she was afraid, for there was no one there to help her. But, just as her need was greatest, the wall of the room parted, and out of it stepped five maidens, daughters of the jann, 1 who came to her and helped her. When she had brought a daughter into the world, they washed it, and clothed it, and gave it back to the mother. Said the first jinnlya, 'If God wills, a golden head-dress 2 shall crown her brow.' Said the second, 'When she walks, myrtle and jessamine will spring from her footprints.' The third said, 'When she speaks, a jewel will fall from her lips.' The fourth said, 'When she weeps, the rain will fall, and when she smiles, the sun will come out.' 1 The fairy folk,jinni and jinrtïya are the singular forms, masculine and feminine. The plural forms are jïnn, jânn, masculine or collective, and jinniyât, 2 feminine. tâs.

Dungara Khsheyban 15 The fifth said, 'Each time she bathes, the water she has bathed in will turn to an ingot of silver and an ingot of gold.' Then the wall reopened again, they stepped into it and disappeared. The woman washed her baby that evening, and, just as the jinniyat had said, the water in which she had bathed the babe turned into an ingot of gold and an ingot of silver. She bought food, and clothes, and hired servants, and a fine house, and had as much money as she could desire, for every day there was gold and to spare. But all this while her husband had not returned, for he had gone everywhere in search of lentils and had been able to find none. So when she had moved into her fine house, the woman sent a slave in search of her husband, and ordered the man to take him, when he had found him, to the bath, and to clothe him in good new clothes. The slave searched for him in the suq, and there he found him. Said the slave, 'Your wife has sent me to find you, and she wants to know why you have not returned to the house.' Answered the man, 'I have looked everywhere for the lentils for which my wife was craving, and have found none. How then could I return to the house ?' Said the slave, 'Your wife has brought a daughter into the world, and wishes to see you, but first you must go to the bath.' So the man went to the bath, and afterwards he put on the new clothes, and returned with the slave to the house. His wife was waiting for him near the door, and when he approached, she went to him, and told him all that had happened. H e was delighted, and from that day he and she lived in great comfort and wealth, and wanted for nothing. Their daughter grew, and in course of time she reached the age of thirteen, and was of such rare beauty that every one who saw her was amazed. One day, she went on to the roof to take the air. As she




walked there, the Sultan's son passed, and gazed upon her. He was bereft of his senses as he looked upon her, and as soon as he had reached the palace, he went to his father and said, 'I have seen the maiden that I wish to marry. I will take none other as wife.' The Sultan asked, 'Who is this maiden, my son ?' Answered the youth, 'I saw her to-day on the roof of such and such a house.' Said the Sultan, 'That cannot be, for we do not know the girl or her people.' But the youth besought his father, and at last the Sultan gave in to his importunity, and sent women of his household to the household of the girl. They saw that the family was wealthy, and the Sultan's wife said to the mother of the girl, 'I have come to ask for your daughter. M y son wishes to marry her.' So the marriage was arranged, the marriage contract drawn up by the mulla, and the day appointed for the bride to go to her bridegroom. Her mother's sister said that she would accompany her, and on the evening of the bride's departure, she and the bride went in a carriage to ride to the Sultan's palace. On the way her aunt persuaded her to stop the carriage and rest a little, and when they had left the road the aunt said to the girl, 'I wish to try on your bridal clothes, will you change with me r' Answered the girl, 'Aye!' and she took off her clothes, and put on her aunt's. As soon as they had changed, the aunt seized her and tore out her two eyes, and left her there by the road. Then she got back into the carriage and rode to the Sultan's palace as the bride. None of the Sultan's household suspected that she was not the bride, but the bridegroom, when he saw her face, came out of the bridal chamber, and said to his mother, 'This is not the girl I saw.' She replied, 'This is the girl you have married, my son,' and he was forced to accept her as his bride. As for the real bride, she walked with blinded eyes into the desert, pricked by the thorns and stumbling over

Dungara Khsheyban 17 stones, and her dress was torn, and her feet were bleeding. When she had gone thus for some way, she met a poor thorn-seller, who was amazed by her beauty, and cried, 'Are you fairy or human ?' Ins u jins ? She answered, 'I am human.' Then he pitied her plight, and took her home with him, and said to his four daughters, 'Here is a poor girl whom I met in the desert; give her food and tend her.' The eldest daughter said, 'My father, we are hungry, and have not enough bread for ourselves! You must turn this stranger away; she will eat our bread and we shall have none!' Said the thorn-seller, 'How can I turn her away? It would be a sin!' and his youngest daughter said, 'My father, she shall stay, and I will give her half my portion every day,' for as soon as she saw the girl she loved her. So the bride stayed with them and shared the bread of the youngest daughter. When it was night, she said, 'Fetch me water, I want to bathe,' and a pearl fell from her lips when she spoke. The youngest went to get her water, and the bride bathed, and when she left the water, in its place was an ingot of silver and an ingot of gold. These she gave to the thorn-seller, and told him that he should have the same every day, as well as the jewels which fell from her lips. So the thorn-seller became a rich man. One day the bride said to the thorn-seller's daughter, 'Take some of this myrtle and jessamine that have grown from the ground upon which I have trodden, and go to the Sultan's palace. When you have come beneath the windows of the prince's bride, cry: Yds u yastnin "Myrtle and jessamine Bi 'ain alyamtn For the right eye!" until she looks out from the window.' The daughters of the thorn-seller did as she had asked, and went below the window of the false bride, and cried: 'Myrtle and jessamine For the right eye!'

18 Dungara Khsheyban The false bride looked out of the window, and said, 'What do you want?' They said, 'Here is myrtle and jessamine for the right eye!' She was frightened, and threw the right eye out of the window to them. They returned, and the bride put the right eye in its socket, and it grew again, and she could see with her right eye. Next she took a pearl which had fallen from her mouth when she spoke, and gave it to them, saying, 'Go as before to the window of the prince's bride, and cry: Lulu sar Bi 'airt alyisar!

"A pearl. For the left eye!"'

They went as before, and the false bride came to the window and said, 'What do you want ?' They answered, 'A pearl for the left eye!' Then she threw them the left eye, and they returned with it to the real bride, and she put that into its place, and she could see perfectly with both eyes as before. One day the girl asked the thorn-seller to bring some wood, and to carve her a dress from it, and to make her as well a wooden staff. He did so, and made her a dress of wood which covered her completely from head to foot, leaving only holes for her eyes, and holes for her arms. Then she took the staff in her hand, and bade him and his daughters farewell. They begged her to stay with them, but she refused, saying, 'You are rich now, and I must go.' She gave them her blessing, and set out, and walked until she came to her husband's palace, where she seated herself by the door. The servants noticed her, and came to the Sultan's son, saying, 'There is a man dressed all in wood sitting by the Palace gate!' Said he, 'Go and ask what he wants.' They went to her, and said, 'What do you want ?' She answered, 'I want to become, a servant in the prince's house.' They answered, 'Come in, you shall help in the house.' She entered, and so well did she do her work, that every one was amazed. At night she took off her wooden

Dungara Khsheyban 19 dress, but by day she always wore it, and they gave her the nick-name of 'Dungara Khsheyban'. One day the prince gave a feast to his friends, and he said to the master of the household, 'This evening no one shall wait on us at table but Dungara Khsheyban.' So when the guests came, Dungara Khsheyban brought the dishes to the table, and her movements in the wooden dress were so clumsy that she let the dishes fall, and they were broken. H e was very angry, and cried, 'Dungara Khsheyban! Take off that wooden dress of yours, or I will stab you with my dagger!' At that, she lifted the wooden dress, and came out of it, and there she stood, beautiful as the moon from behind the clouds. H e knew her at once for his own true bride, and bade her tell him everything. She told him all that had happened to her, from the beginning to the end, and he embraced her, and took her for his wife, and as for the aunt, he ordered her to be burnt alive! Kunna 'adkum wa jtna Wa lo baitkum qarib Kunt ajtb likum hajna1 zalib. 'We've been to you and come back And were your house near I should have brought you a handful of raisins.' 1 In Baghdad they give a tubeg (trayful), in Mosul, only a handful. Mosul people bear the reputation of being close-fisted.

VI T H E CRYSTAL SHIP Kan u ma kan 'Ala Allah at Tuklan.



It was and was not! (Our) reliance is upon God.

was once a merchant who had three daughters.

One day he was obliged to travel to a far country in search of merchandise, and he said to his eldest daughter, 'When I return, what shall I bring you, my daughter?' She said, 1 Arid It bed.lt hilwi! I want a pretty new dress!' Then he asked the same of his second daughter, and she answered, 'I want a pretty new dress, too.' Then he asked the youngest, who was but a child, and she went to her mother and said to her, ' O my mother, what shall I ask my father to bring me back when he returns ?' T h e mother said, 'Ask for clusters-of-pearl.' 1 So she went to her father and said, 'I want clusters-ofpearl.' H e promised his daughters to bring them back what they had asked, and then he set forth, and travelled by ship to the distant country. W h e n his business there was transacted, he went to the suq, and he bought two lengths of silk for his two eldest daughters, but the youngest he forgot. Then he went to the harbour, and embarked on the ship. The captain came to him and said, 'Is all your business transacted, and is nothing left undone ? For my ship will not sail if there is one on board who has left something undone.' T h e merchant exclaimed, 'I have forgotten my promise to my youngest daughter that I would bring her a present!' Said the captain, 'Then return to the shore and get it, else my ship will not move from the harbour.' The merchant went ashore again, and went to the suq of the jewellers, and said, 'I wish to buy clusters-ofpearl.' 1


The Crystal Ship


They answered him, 'Clusters-of-pearl is the name of a person: it is the name of the son of the Sultan of the Jann.' He asked them, 'Where is he to be found, this Clustersof-Pearl ?' They told him, 'His father's palace is in such and such a place.' The merchant went to the place they indicated, and he found the door of the palace and knocked at it. A voice inside the door said, 'Who is it?' He answered, ' I ! ' Said the voice, 'What do you want?' He said, 'I seek Clusters-of-Pearl.' The door was opened, and there stood before him a beautiful boy, who said to him, ' M y name is Clusters-ofPearl. What do you want of me ?' The merchant answered, 'I have three daughters, and when I left my country to come here, I promised them each a present. To the two eldest, I promised new dresses, and to the youngest, I promised Clusters-of-Pearl.' Said the boy, 'Take this small box. In it are three hairs. Give them to your daughter and tell her to sit in an empty room, near a bare threshold in a place apart, all by herself. This room you must build for her. When she is alone, let her rub the three hairs together. Whatever appears to her, she must not utter a word or cry aloud for fear, but must say "Mdshallah Z" 1 thrice.' The merchant took the small box, and said farewell to the boy, and then went back to the ship. It sailed with him and in time he reached his own country. When he returned to his house, his daughters greeted him, and embraced him, and the eldest said, 'Where is my new gown ?' He opened his box, and gave it to her, all broidered and sewn and ready to wear. The middle sister said, 'Where is my new gown ?' and he gave it to her, all sewn and broidered and ready to wear. Then the youngest said, 'Where are my clusters-of-pearl ?' And he 1 Ma sha' Allah (literally, 'What God willed') is an exclamation which averts the evil eye and envy, and should be used every time one looks at anything beautiful or splendid.


The Crystal Ship

replied, 'O my daughter, I forgot what you asked, so I have brought you nothing.' But that night as he lay abed, he said to his wife, 'Wife, I do not know what to do and you must give me your counsel. Clusters-of-Pearl is the name of the son of the Sultan of the Jann,' and he told her all that had happened, saying when he had done, 'What say you, wife? Shall we build a room and leave the girl alone in it, as the son of the Sultan of the Jann said, or shall we not?' His wife answered him, 'Build it, and you will see that good fortune will come of it.' So the next day the merchant called builders, and built a new room, and put nothing into it: the threshold he left bare as Clusters-of-Pearl had ordered and, when it was finished, the little sister went to the bath, and they dressed her, and adorned her, and then her father and mother led her to the room and bade her wait there, giving her the box containing the three hairs. H e r father bade her strike them together, and to forbear exclaiming at what she might see, only saying, 'Mashallah !' three times. Then they locked the door, and left the girl alone. She struck the three hairs together as they had said, and as she waited there she looked at the threshold, and saw that it had become a lake, and upon the lake swam a ship of crystal. The ship approached her, and in it was a boy,

Subhan Allah al khalaquh Praise to God who created Wal khaliq ahsan ! him, and the Creator is better than his creation.

and this boy was of the most perfect beauty. The little sister was amazed, but she said no words but 'Mashallah!' thrice-uttered, as her father had bidden. T h e boy approached her and kissed her and she loved him and he her, and they stayed together in happiness and contentment until the morning. Then he said to her, 'If anything should happen to part us, and I am unable to come here, go and seek for me: but you must put on shoes of iron, 1 and carry an iron staff in your hand.' Then he bade her 1

Iron is a protection against evil spirits. See the note on this story, pp. 293-4.

The Crystal Ship


say nothing of what had happened that night to any one, and he took his departure, sailing away in the crystal ship. Then the threshold became as it was. In the morning her two parents came, and she told them that she was happy and blessed, but more than that she did not say. At night she returned to the room, unlocked it, and did as she had done the former night, and spent the time in happiness and contentment with Clusters-of-Pearl till the dawn. And so it was for many nights. Now the eldest sister guessed what was happening, and was jealous of the little sister's happiness. One day, when all the sisters went to the bath with their mother, the eldest refused to take off her clothes. They said to her, 'Come and bathe with us!' but she would not, saying, 'I do not wish to bathe to-day, I will wait for you.' As soon as the others were bathing, she went to her sister's clothes, and stole the key of the room from her pocket. Then she returned quickly to the house, went to the room and unlocked it, and seated herself in her sister's place. There she saw the box, and when she had opened it, she found three hairs. These she took out and rubbed them together, and after she had done so, the threshold became a lake, and in the midst of it a ship of crystal, in which was the son of the Jann. The girl was so astonished that she cried aloud, and at that, the ship flew into splinters and entered the body of the boy. Then he and the lake disappeared, and all was as it had been before. She was frightened, and went out and locked the door, and when the rest had returned from the bath, she went secretly and put the key back in her sister's pocket, but said no word of what had happened. That evening, the little sister went again to her room, and rubbed the three hairs together, but nothing happened, and though she waited all the night, nothing appeared, and the room was dark and empty. The little sister wept and cried, 'Woe, woe! This is my sister's work!' and the next morning she went to her


The Crystal


father, and told him that he must make her a pair of iron shoes, and an iron staff to carry in her hand. She travelled, and travelled, walking over deserts and valleys, and after many days she came to a town. U p o n the outskirts of the town there was a tree. She was footsore and tired from her journey, khatiya!1 so she sat beneath it to rest, and closed her eyes. N o w on the boughs of this tree there were two doves, (cucukhtiain). Presently one began to coo to the other, and the little sister heard these words: Cucukhti! eyn ukhti? Idha hadhal bint kanat naimi Hadha nasibha Idha kanat qaadi, min nasibha I

'Coo-coo, sister doo, where are you-u-u! 2 If this maiden be sleeping H e r fate is sealed. If watch she is keeping, H e r fate is healed.'

W h e n she heard this, the little sister kept her eyes closed, but she listened with all her ears. T h e other dove replied: Cucukhti, eyn ukhti I

'Coo-coo, sister doo, where are you-u-u!'

'This maiden was visited by the son of the Sultan of the Jann, but one day when she was at the bath, her sister stole her key and rubbed the three hairs together, and when the boy appeared she cried out, and the ship flew into splinters and entered the body of the boy; and when this child came in her turn to rub the hairs, no one came to her, and she remained there sitting and weeping, and now she has come to seek him!' Then the other dove took up the tale and said, ' A n d now that boy is sick unto death, and his father seeks everywhere for a medicine to cure him. Now, if that maiden were listening, she would seize us both, and kill us and take our blood and feathers and some of the leaves of this tree. W i t h these she must go to the house A n exclamation of pity 'What a sin!' 'What a shame!' A quotation from a popular rhyme imitating the cooing of doves. rhyme is given in full in the note to this story, pp. 293-4. 1



The Crystal Ship


of the Sultan of the Jann. There she must cry, " A healer! A physician!" until they invite her within. A s soon as she has entered, she must take the sick boy to the bath, and smear his body all over with our blood and feathers, 1 and all the crystal splinters will fall out of his body. After that she must wipe his body with the leaves of this tree, and the boy will be cured.' A s soon as the doves had ceased their talking, the girl rose quickly, seized them, and wrung their necks, and then she poured blood from their bodies into a cup, and their feathers she placed in a kerchief. Then she plucked leaves from the tree, and she went into the town, crying, ' A healer! A physician!' until she came to the door of the castle in which the Sultan of the Jann lived. When the Sultan of the Jann heard her voice without, he sent and had her brought in before him. H e asked her, 'Who are you?' and she answered, 'I am a healer, and if you will bring your son to the hammam, 2 and leave him there with me, I will cure him completely.' The Sultan of the Jann said, 'It shall be done,' and they took her to the hammam, and brought to her the boy, who lay there as if dead. She ordered them to leave her alone with him, and they left them alone in the bath. Then she took off his clothes, and dipped the feathers in the blood and smeared it all over his body. A s soon as she had done that, the crystal fell out of the boy's body. Then she wiped his skin with the leaves of the tree, and the wounds closed and his flesh was healed, and he opened his eyes, and was completely cured. Now when he gazed upon her, he did not know her in her man's dress, but he begged her, saying, 'Come, take off your clothes, and we will bathe together.' She refused, saying, 'No, I will not bathe.' Then the boy was angry, and said, ' I will not leave this bath until you have bathed with me!' Then the little sister confessed, saying, ' I am she to 1

Clearly a fedu or ransom charm. See p. 271. Hot bath. Hamm&ms are supposed to be especially inhabited by spirits. 3800 p



The Crystal Ship

whom you came in your boat of crystal: and when you came no more, I came to seek for you!' Then the boy embraced her tenderly and took her to his father, the Sultan of the Jann, who said to her, when he had heard all: 'Daughter of man! Had you not cured him, your life should have been forfeit, but as you have saved his life you shall marry him and dwell with us in the country of the Jann.' Then he made a wedding for three days and three nights, and the boy and girl were married, and they lived always in the country of the Jann.

Kunna 'adkum wajina!




NCE upon a time there was an old couple, and they kept a goat, of which they were very fond. Their house was of clay and their door of reeds, and they two and the goat lived there together. One day a dami 1 who lived in the desert near by became hungry for human blood, and she said to herself, 'I will eat either that old man or that old woman!' So she went to the house and knocked at the reed door and said: Yd bab al qasab, Akassar 'anak ho ujaiz lo shwayib hi akul'anak !

' O reed door! I will break you down! I will eat up your little old woman or your little old man!' Now the old woman was alone in the house, and when she heard this she was very afraid, but the goat was listening and she answered, 'With my horns I will butt you and with my teeth I will bite you!' When the dami heard this, she was frightened of the goat and ran away back into the desert. But she was still very hungry, so the next day she came again and knocked at the gate. The old woman who was alone said, iMinu ? W h o is it ?' and the dami said, ' O reed door! I will break you down! I will eat up your little old woman and your little old man!' And the goat answered, 'With my horns I will butt you and with my teeth I will bite you!' and the dami was frightened and ran away. Now as the dami was going along the road, whom should she meet but the old man ? She said to him, 'Every day I come to your house to give you some food from the Sultan's house, but your goat will not let me in!' 1

See Preface, p. xii, and note, p. 295.


The Old Couple and their Goat

The old man went back and said to the old woman,'What is this ? The dami brings us food every day from the Sultan's house and our goat will not let her in! I shall kill the goat!' Answered the old woman, 'O husband, is your understanding wanting? The goat stands before the door because the dami wants to eat us! Don't kill the goat!' The next day it was the same, the dami came and the goat would not let her in, and the dami complained to the old man. 1 But after the dami had complained for the third time, the old man took his knife and prepared to kill the goat. The old woman cried: 'O husband, do not believe the dami! She wants to eat us! She is hungry for our blood! Do not kill our goat!' But the old man went to the goat and cut her throat. The old woman wept and cried, lShlon sowweyt! What have you done!' But as the goat was dead, she roasted some of the meat, and made pacha2 of the head and oddments, and the rest she put in a pot of brine. The next day the dami came and cried: 'O reed door! I will break you down! I will eat up your little old woman and your little old man!' And from the pot of brine a voice came from the meat, 'With my horns I will butt you and with my teeth I will bite you!' And the dami was frightened and ran away. That night the old man ate up the meat that was left. The next day the dami came before he had gone out, and she cried to the door, 'O reed door! I will break you down! I will eat up your little old woman and your little old man!' Repetition, which I do not give in full. Pacha. Stew of sheep's offal and head and feet. A favourite dish in Baghdad, and the trade of pachachi, or pacha-seller, is a remunerative profession in the poor quarters of the city. It is not, however, a dish that is set before a guest. 1


The Old Couple and their Goat


And this time there was no answer, but inside the house the old woman said, 'Now you hear for yourself! The dami wants to eat us!' The old man ran off and hid in the clay oven, and the old woman rolled herself in some matting and hid in the room. The dami cried again at the door, and there was no answer, so she pushed with her head, and the door gave way, and she entered and wandered about the hosh.1 The old man, in his fright, let a sound escape him in the oven. Called the dami: Menu darrat ? 'Who made that noise ? Was it the wall ? Al hayit darrat ? Albab darrat? Or the door? Al bait darrat? Or the house?' And she wandered about looking. Dtl She came to the oven. She looked in the oven, and there she saw the old man! Said she: Menu darrat ? 'Who made that noise ? Ash shaib darrat! The old man did! Shi on aktalak ? How shall I kill you?' The old man said, 'Because I did not listen to my wife's advice, when she asked me not to kill the goat, now you are going to eat me!' The dami took him and tore him in two halves, and ate him all up and returned to her lair in the desert. As for the old woman, she brought some friends to live with her in the house, and the dami did not return there again. 1

The hosh is all the ground, including the yard, enclosed by the house-wall.



H E R E was once a very strong man called Shamshum the Mighty, and he married the daughter of a merchant, who was very beautiful. H e loved her exceedingly, and she bore him a son. But although she was lovely to the eye, she was not faithful to him, but had forty deyus 1 as her lovers. Every day they visited her, and took her to their house in the desert, where she played chess with them. At last her son, who was grown to be a big lad, told his father, ' M y mother goes out when you are absent.' So Shamshum followed his wife, and went into the house of the forty deyus, and attacked them, and beat them and drubbed them and overthrew them, and brought his wife back to his house. Every day she went with them, and every day he fetched her and beat and maltreated the deyus, for he was so strong that they had no power against him. At last the deyus said to the woman, 'Ask your husband whence he derives the strength with which he overcomes us and beats us.' That night she rose in her bed and asked her husband, as he lay by her, Whence do you derive your strength ? How is it that you are so strong?' H e replied, 'Why do you wish to know ? And to what use will you put your knowledge?' She said, 'It is only that I wish to know.' H e answered then, 'My strength is in the birds.' The deyus then caught all the birds, wherever they might be flying, and killed them every one—there were none left in the world. But for all that it was the same as before. Daily he beat them and overthrew the deyus in their house. So they said to her, 'Lies! His strength is not in the birds! H e continues to beat and torment us. Find out the cause of his strength.' 1

For deyu (pronounced dey-u) see Preface, p. xiii.


al Jabbar


So that night she asked him again, and pressed him to tell her whence he derived his strength. H e answered her, ' M y strength is in my broom.' Then the deyus collected all the brooms and burnt them in the fire. There was not one left in all the world. Bosh!1 Empty! No use! There was no diminution of his strength, and when she went to play chess with the deyus, he came as before and beat them and drubbed them and overthrew them. That night she said to her husband: 'Verily you have deceived me! Where is your strength ? Tell me the truth.' H e said in himself, 'She is a woman, what harm can she do me?' and he told her, ' M y strength is in my hair.' W h e n she heard that, she laughed, and went and played chess with the deyus and said, ' H i s strength is in his hair!' And they said, ' W h e n he is asleep, cut his hair.' That night she cut his hair. This. And when he awoke in the morning he was sick and had not the strength to walk. Then the forty deyus came and seized Shamshum the Mighty, and bound him with chains, and put him into a sack up to his armpits, and took him into the desert, and dug a hole, and put him into it up to his chest, and put a large slab of marble on his chest to hold him down. There they left him. But his son came every day while his mother went to amuse herself with the forty deyus, and he sat beside him and asked his father how he did, and gave him bread. There Shamshum the Mighty stayed for a space of forty days, and each day his hair grew, and as his hair grew, his strength grew. Dt, dt, dt! On the fortieth day he said to his son, ' O my son, give me help. W i t h your effort and my effort we shall be able to throw off this stone.' T h e boy answered, 'Yes, I will help you.' And, di, dt, dt! they strove and struggled, and made 1


32 Shamshum al Jabbar great effort, and at last they pushed the great stone from his chest, and threw it into the desert. Then Shamshum said, 'O my son, go to my house, and bring me my sword which hangs from the ceiling. Bring it with care, and do not flash it, or draw it, because it is very sharp and dangerous, but hold it by the hilt, and bring it here.' The boy went, and as his father had ordered, he put a ladder on the table, and took the sword down from where it was hung on the ceiling, and bore it with care to his father. His father took it and cut open the sack, and severed the chains which bound him, and said, 'Now, I will go and slay the witch 1 your mother,' and he went to the castle of the deyus and stayed by the door. As each deyu came out by the door, dtl he cut his head off, and the head of his wife he cut off also. Only the fortieth deyu had two heads, and when he had cut one head off, the deyu escaped with the other still on his shoulders, and so lived. Now this deyu, the father-of-twoheads, loved the Khalifa's daughter, as you shall hear anon. As for Shamshum and his son, they went into the desert, and remained there, until one day they came to a sea, and beyond the sea was an island. On the shore there was a big serpent, which was coiled about a tree. This serpent lived upon the nestlings of an eagle which had its nest in the tree, and each year, when the bird hatched its eggs, he ate the young birds. When he saw the serpent, Shamshum took his sword and slew it. Then flew back the eagle, and she said, 'Woe, woe, son of Adam! Is it you who come each year and kill my brood?' But the eaglets cried, 'Wiss, wiss, wiss! Our mother, this son of Adam did nothing to us, but he has saved us from the serpent which you see dead!' And the eagle saw the serpent slain beneath the tree, and rejoiced, and said, 'Son of Adam, you have saved my children from death, ask and desire!' 1


Shamshum al °Jabbar 33 And Shamshum answered, 'I have no desire, but take my son and myself, and throw us on the island.' She answered, 'Ma yukhalif! Let it be so,' and opened her two wings, saying, 'Get you on one wing, and your son on the other.' And she flew with them over the sea, and threw them down on the island. They abode there, and Shamshum, who was learned, and could read, taught his son knowledge and reading. But there was nothing to eat and drink in the island, and the boy became hungry and thirsty, and at last he fell sick and died. Shamshum rose, and dug a hole in the earth, and made a tomb for his son and buried him, then he sat down beside the tomb and read and read, and thought, and thus he stayed, reading and pondering for seven years. And he said to himself, 'One day, I shall lie here beside my son!' Now the deyu who had escaped with his life when Shamshum slew his brothers, was the lover of the Khalifa's daughter. And when he told her about Shamshum the Mighty she longed to see him, and said, 'Where is Shamshum the Mighty now?' The deyu replied, 'I do not know where he is hiding.' So the princess sent for magicians and sorcerers and wise women. And they read, and they read [spells], and they answered her, 'He is to be found, but he is very far.' At last there came a very old and skilled witch, and the princess said to her, 'I want Shamshum from you, and if you can find him, everything you want I will give it to you.' The old and skilled witch read in the sand,1 and took much trouble and read and read, and said, 'He is in an island behind the sea.' 1 For divining in sand, see Arabian Nights, Haikayat' Ali Shar. It is practised still. A little sand is spread on a level surface and smoothened. T h e inquirer takes a little and holds it near his heart, and then, at the diviner's command sprinkles it on the rest of the sand. The diviner marks the sand at random with his finger-tips in four rows; adds the marks up to see if they are odd or even, then consults his book.




Shamshum al


The princess said, 'Take me to him, for I wish to see him.' The witch was very skilled in witchcraft, and she answered, 'Good, I will take you and put you on the island. There is no objection.' And she witched and witched and witched until the daughters of the jann came before her. Then she ordered them, 'Take this deywa and throw her on the island which is in the sea beyond seven seas,' for the witch was ruler of the jann, and what she ordered them they must perform. Then she said to the princess, 'Shut your eyes!' and to the daughters of the jann, she commanded that they should take the girl and put her on the island. So it was, and they flew with her fr-r-r-r! to the island beyond the sea that is over seven seas. There, while she was yet in the air, the Khalifa's daughter saw Shamshum reading from an open book upon the tomb of his son, and he was now an old man. And she descended. Shamshum lifted his eyes and saw her sitting upon the other side of the tomb and he asked her, 'Nti ins, jins ? Are you human, or fairy ?' She answered, ' I am a human woman.' H e said, 'You have come here—why?' She said, ' I want to know your story, and all that has happened to you.' Said he, 'Why do you wish to hear my story?' Answered she, ' I wish to know why you are here, for I too, have fallen into this island.' Said he, 'I will tell you, but on one condition, that is, when you have listened to my tale, you will kill me and bury me beside my son.' She answered, 'Good, let it be so.' Then he told her his whole story, which you have heard and know, from the beginning to the end. When he had finished his telling, he said to her, 'And now I have told you, take my sword which is on my son's grave here, and cut off my head and bury me with him.' She replied, 'No, how can I cut off your head! It cannot be!'

Digging a well in the desert west of Mosul. Water was not found

Shamshum al Jabbar 35 But he entreated her and gave the sword into her hand, and then she took the sword and cut off his head. And she dug a grave so that he might lie beside his son, and buried him, and this is the end of the story of Shamshum; at least, I heard this story from my grandmother, and this is all I know of it.



U S A I N an Nim-Nim was a Tekrlti and a raftsman by trade. One day he and his companions loaded up a raft 1 and set off down the Tigris. When he and his companions were at some distance from Tekrlt, the south wind began to blow and the river became rough, so, unable to proceed, the raftsmen drew the raft up to the foreshore and ate a meal there. As they were eating, a s'iluwa2 came up out of the water and seized upon Husain an Nim-Nim while his companions rushed to the raft and succeeded in getting away. Now, finding Husain a pretty fellow, the s'iluwa did not eat him, but took him to her lair on the shore, where she made love to him, licking his legs so that they became thin and the bones lost their hardness and were like the wick of a candle. H e was her paramour for three days and nights, and on the morning of the fourth day the s'iluwa said, 'We have nothing to eat: I must go to the market to buy bread, rice, and meat.' Answered Husain an Nim-Nim, 'Go, and I will await you here.' She left him and he sat by the river alone. H e had not sat long before he saw in the distance the raft and his three companions who had returned to seek for him. As they approached they said, 'Is the s'iluwa here? We dare not approach!' but he answered, 'Do not fear, she has gone to the suq!' Then he went down to them and his legs wavered and bent from weakness. They helped him on to the raft and pushed off. 1 A helek is a raft supported underneath by inflated skins. These rafts carryheavy loads of firewood, grain, &c. When the kelek reaches its destination, the load is delivered, the raft broken up and sold as firewood, and the skins are deflated by the kelekjis and packed in sacks, and taken back to the place from which they came by road. These skins are roughly tanned with powdered pomegranate peel and salt, and are sun-dried, and thus prepared may be used again and again. T h e chief occupation in Tekrlt is making keleks and sailing on them, and the 2 birthplace of this story may be in Tekrlt. See Preface, p. xi.

Husain an Nim-Nim


But before the raft was far away, the s'iluwa returned, and finding him gone, went to the river and saw the raft. She hurried to a point where the raft must pass, and called to her lover, 'You have played me false, but where I have loved, I cannot destroy. If you wish to leave me, you must leave me!' Answered Husain an Nim-Nim, 'It is of the nature of a man that he should yearn for his home.' Said she, 'I will give you a gift so that you may remember me,' and she spat. The spittle, streaming upon the wind, reached Husain an Nim-Nim. 'This is my gift,' said the s'iluwa. 'To you and to your descendants will be the power to cure red eyes by spitting into them.' T h e r e is another version, like the first up to the point where the s'iluwa takes Husain an N i m - N i m into her cave and licks his legs. According to this version, he stayed with her many years.

After the first nine months she bore him a daughter. Then she again became pregnant, and assuming the disguise of a human woman by putting on an 'aba she went and sought a midwife,1 saying to her, 'Come and deliver me. Last time I bore a daughter, and this time I want a son, and if you do not contrive that my child will be a boy, I will kill you.' The midwife went with her, but before leaving her house, she slipped a candle into the bosom of her gown. In time the pains grew upon the s'iluwa and a child was born, but it was a girl. The midwife was afraid to tell the mother the truth, so she slipped the candle between the thighs of the child, and holding it up, said to the s'iluwa, 'You have brought a son into the world.' The s'iluwa rejoiced, and gave the midwife a piece of red onion-skin and a piece of white garlic. The woman went home and, disgusted at such miserly payment, threw the onion and garlic outside the door, saying 'Shinu hadha! What is this!' But the next morning when she looked outside her door, she saw that the onion had become gold and the garlic silver. 1 Jidda, literally 'a granny*. The trade is followed by many ignorant old women, but efforts are now being made to train midwives.


Husain an Nim-Nim Meantime, the s'iluwa had discovered that the midwife had deceived her, and that night she went to her house and beat at her door, calling her by name, 'Mother Baji! Mother Baji!' The midwife trembled and made no stir or sound. This happened every night until the s'iluwa again became pregnant, and this time she was delivered of a boy. After this she had yet another boy. But there came a day when the s'iluwa tired of her human lover and mounting a raft, she went off down the river while her husband stayed on the bank and begged her to come back. Finding her deaf to his entreaties, he took their children and tore them in half, one by one, throwing her one half and keeping the other half on the shore. As to her, she spat and said, 'I give to you and to your offspring power to cure sore eyes.' Thus in the Mosul version; another Baghdad version has it, like the first I quoted, that it was Husain who escaped. A third version is interesting as making the haunt of the s'iluwa a forest and not the river.

Somewhere on the bank of the Tigris in Tekrit there was a forest which belonged to the s'iluwa: it was known as the Zor 1 as S'iluwa . When the s'iluwa captured Husain an Nim-Nim with whom she had fallen in love, she took him to this z5r and lived with him there, licking his legs in order to keep him a prisoner until they became so weak that they were no longer able to support him. Their first child was a boy: they called him Dablb al Lail, Creeper of the Night. The s'iluwa had a sister who lived on the opposite bank of the river, and this sister had five children whose names were, Salda, Sumaida, Samad al Bahr, Makka, and Madlna. One night Dablb al Lail became ill. She shouted to her sister on the other bank asking for medicine to cure him. Dada, dada, 'andech hawaij lil lawaij ? Dabib al Lail till al lail ya'alij min juaduh I 'Sister, sister, have you medicine for aching pains ? Dablb al Lail is suffering from his heart all night long. 1 The word zor (forest) is used of a mere thicket of shrubs, such as tamarisk, or liquorice.

Hu sain an Nim-Nim


T o this her sister replied, swearing by her five children, that she had not even the dust of a drug for Dablb's complaint. Wa hayät Saida 'By the life of Saida Wa Sumaida And Sumaida Wa Samad al Bahr And Samad al Bahr Wa Makka wal Madina And Makka and Madina Ma 'andighabaruh! I have not (even) its dust!'



HERE was once a blackbeetle who wished to take a husband. She Kanasat al hosh Swept the yard, Laqat bara, And found a farthing, Kanasat at tarma Swept the balcony Laqat bara, And found a farthing, Kanasat al gubbeh Swept the room Laqat bara. And found a farthing! So she rose up and went her way to the suq, and she bought paint and powder and antimony, and then she went home and Athammarat Reddened her cheeks Atpowdarat,1 Powdered her face, Atkhattatat Pencilled her eyebrows, Addeyramat,2 Coloured her lips, Atkahhalat.* And put black round her eyes. and then she stood herself near the door of her house. Came by a pedlar of sweetmeats (abul halwa) with a tray of sweets on his head, who said to her: Khunfisana 'Beetle, beetle Dun fisana, Without feetle, Leysh g ada Why do you stand Bil bueybana ? By our little door ?' And the blackbeetle answered: 'I want a little husband!' {Arid liferd zuweyjana!) The sweet-seller answered, 'I will marry you!' 1 tapowdar (vulg. atpowdar or atbaudar) has become an Arab verb (5th form of padar or badar—to powder). 1 deyram is a tree (walnut ?) the sap of which, if its peel or leaves be rubbed on the lips, leaves an orange stain. This is much used as a cosmetic in 'Iraq. 3 Black (antimony) powder applied to the eyes with the end of a small pointed instrument. Kahal-boxss have this instrument attached to the screw-tops. The use of iahal is supposed not only to enhance the beauty of the eyes by blackening the rims of the eyelids, it is supposed to strengthen the sight.

The Blackbeetle who Wished to get Married


Said the blackbeetle,'And when you marry me, with what will you beat me ?' ( Waqt tâkhudhni, beysh tadhrubni F) Answered the sweet-seller, 'I will beat you with my sweetmeat-tray—hard ! ' Said the blackbeetle,

Fût, fût, Jut! Al khunjus khunjus 'anak Wal baghla tarjus ûmmak! Wa ana beydha naqlya U ukhdûdi qarmazïya ! Fût, jut!

'Go away, go away, go away! The beetle can do without you ! May the mule kick your mother ! For I am pure white, And my cheeks are rosy red! Go away!' Next came by a radish-seller, and he was crying, 'Radishes! Radishes!' He saw the blackbeetle by the door and said to her, 'Beetle, beetle, Without feetle, W h y are you sitting By our little door ?' The beetle answered, 'I want a little husband!' Said the radish-seller, 'I will take you to wife!' Said the beetle, 'And when you marry me, with what will you beat me ?'

Abul fijl, abul fijl, Tom al tâkhudni Beysh tadhrubni ?

He replied, 'With the radish root,


hardY (Bi râs alfijl—

Cried the beetle,


Ana qishr al basal ma ahmilu !

Go away, go away, go away! I couldn't endure (to be beaten even with) an onion-skin ! ' 3800



The Blackbeetle who Wished, to get Married

Then there came by an onion-seller, and he was crying, 'Seed-giving onion! Seed-giving onion!' (Badhuri al basalt) When he saw the blackbeetle sitting by her door, he asked her, 'Beetle, beetle, Without feetle. W h y are you sitting By our little door ?' T h e beetle answered, 'I want a little husband.' Said the onion-seller, 'I will take you to wife!' Said the beetle, 'And when I marry you, how will you beat me ?' Replied the onion-seller, 'With an onion, hardY (Bi

ras al basal—heylf)

Said she, 'Go away, go away, I could not endure to be beaten even with the skin of an onion!' Next there passed by a pickle-merchant, with a basin of pickles on his head. H e glanced down and saw the blackbeetle by the door and said to her, 'Beetle, beetle, Without feetle, W h y are you sitting By our little door ?' T h e beetle answered, 'I want a little husband!' Said the pickle-merchant, 'I will take you!' Asked the beetle, 'And when you have married me, how will you beat me ?' And the pickle-merchant answered, 'With this basin


She answered him, 'Go away, away, away! The beetle won't have you to-day! Bad luck to you, I say! For I am as white as dawn of day And my cheeks are crimson as roses in M a y ! Away, away!'

The Blackbeetle who Wished to get Married 43 And he went, and next there came by a big rat. H e said to her, 'Beetle, beetle, Without feetle, Why are you sitting By our little door ?' Said she, 'I want a little husband!' H e answered, 'I will take you to wife!' Said she, 'And when you have married me, with what will you beat me ?' H e answered, 'I will beat you with my tail—hardY And she cried, 'Go away, away, away! The beetle won't have you to-day! Bad luck to you and yours, I say! For I am white as dawn of day And my cheeks are crimson as roses in May! Away, away!' And he went. And after he had gone, there came by a tiny little mouse. And it said (in a small voice), 'Beetle, beetle, Without feetle, Why are you sitting By our little door ?' And the beetle answered, 'I want a little husband!' Said the little mouse, 'I will take you to wife!' Asked the beetle, 'And if you marry me, with what will you beat me?' Replied the mouse, 'I will beat you with my tail— g-e-n-t-l-yYl Said the beetle, 'Aye! this one shall take me!' So there was a wedding which lasted for seven days and seven nights, and when it was ended, the beetle said to her husband, 'O my husband, I am in the family way, and I want you to bring me some honey.' Said he to his wife, 'Where shall I find honey?' 1

y-a- qahl Said the thorn-seller, 'How can you laugh when I am doomed to die!' H e laughed yet more and answered, 'What the Sultan has asked is nothing, nothing at all! It is easy! Open thy lap!' And into the thorn-seller's lap there fell four hundred gold pieces. The gourd continued, 'Do not worry

The Thorn-seller


any more, do not think about the Sultan's conditions, they are hich! Nothing! T h e thorn-seller took the money, and went to sleep, and when he got up the next morning he looked to see if there were a castle, but there was nothing, all was as before. H e began to fear again and could not sleep, but it was as before, the gourd gave him five hundred gold pieces and bade him not fear. 1 T h e next morning there was still no stone of a castle to be seen, and that night he was troubled, and wept, and the gourd spoke to him and gave him six hundred gold pieces, and bade him sleep and be unafraid. T h e third morning he woke, and there was a golden shining in his room, and he went, and looked out, and behold, there was a castle of bright gold stretching between his house and the Sultan's palace! T h e Sultan got up, and said when he saw the light, ' W h a t can this bright shining be?' and he looked out, and saw also. W h e n he entered, he found everything as he had said, only yet more fine and dazzling. T h e n he sent for the thorn-seller, and said, ' I t shall be as you wish, to-day we will have the betrothal.' T h e n he sent for the mulla, and there was a contract drawn up, and music and drums, and a feast, and guests, and all that was proper for the marriage of a great prince. T h a t night, when the gourd spoke to him, the thornseller told him that the betrothal was complete. T h e n the gourd said, 'Tell the Sultan that the bridegroom will come to the bride on Thursday. I wish to make her mine on the Thursday. But I shall not come until the guests have gone away, and the bride must sit with the door open.' So on the Thursday all was made ready for the bridegroom: guests were invited, musicians came, a feast was cooked, and there were great rejoicings. W h e n they had all gone away, the bride sat in the bridal chamber on a couch, alone, dressed gorgeously, muzawwaqa,


embellished and suitably attired 1


Repetition. H


The Thorn-seller

waiting, waiting, waiting. At twelve o'clock a little bird flew in at the door, fr-r-r-r! and sat on the bed, and in its claw was a stick. It came to the ground, and struck the stick on the floor, and took off its cloak of feathers, and grew, and behold! a young man stood before her, Subhan Wal

Allah, khaliq

rabb ahsan




so handsome that, were the moon absent, his beauty would have illumined the sky. Then he struck the ground again and it opened, and in the floor there appeared a large pool, and out of the water came forty beautiful girls, one carrying a towel 1 embroidered with gold; another a loofah; 2 another a golden basin ; 3 another a golden comb; another qil\4 another soap; another a massage-glove; 5 others brought pumice-stone, 6 a bowl 7 to hold the jewels, bathclothes, every one something. Then they took off the bridegroom's clothes, and led him into the water, and washed him and his hair, and perfumed him and put on his robe and put him on the bedstead beside the bride and began to utter cries of joy. This done, he struck with his stick, and they went into the water, the pool disappeared, and the floor closed up, and they were alone. Then he made love to her, and she to him, and in sweetness and love the night passed and it was near dawn. Then he said to her, 'I lay a command on you, that you must keep silence about me. Do not say that I am handsome, or describe me or say that I come as a bird, or utter 1 manshafa. Towels and bath-wraps embroidered with gold and silver thread are used for a bride's bath. 2 I t f . T h e loofah in Baghdad is knitted into a bag, with a draw-string. 3 tasa. T h e bowl is for pouring water over the person who is being washed. A bride's washing-bowl sometimes has a small domed receptacle in the centre which unscrews. It is filled loosely with peas which rattle as it is used. T h i s is called a tasa khashkhash. * Qtl is a saponaceous earth, which is mixed with rose-leaves and rubbed into the hair. Sometimes called khaswa. s kls. T h e massage-glove is of coarse, black hair-cloth stitched with white thread. 6 hajer. Pumice-stone is used for the soles of the feet. 7 salabche. This is a round silver box resembling a football in size and shape, into which the bather's jewels are placed when given into the bath-keeper's custody.

The Thorn-seller


one word about me, or I must go away and you will never see me any more.' She answered, 'Good.' And he put on his dress of feathers, and flew away. The next day was the Subhtya, or the Feast of the Next Day, and her friends and relations came, and the thornseller and his children, and there was music and feasting in honour of the married pair. They asked her, lShlonuh ? What is the bridegroom like ? Is he handsome, is he this, is he that?' But she only answered, 'Praise to Allah!' to all these questions. And for every night for two years the bridegroom came to her, and they had delight of each other, and she was happy. But one day she said to her attendant, 'I want to go to the hammam in the suq.' Answered the handmaid, 'O my daughter, why go to the suq! There is a hammam here, more beautiful than the bath in the suq.' She answered, 'But I wish to go outside to-day and bathe in the public bath.' So when they perceived that she would go, they took a basin of gold, and bowl of gold, and a bath-robe of gold cloth, and clogs of gold, and all the bath things, and went into the suq, and came to the public bath. When the princess entered, all the women there greeted her, and she sat there in her splendour. Then the women began to whisper about her maliciously,

Liweish! Hadha kubriya, shinu? 'Why such display and grandeur? Every one knows that her husband is only a sparrow!' She heard their murmurings, and was furious, and unable to stop herself she cried out, ' M y husband is a man, fashioned like other men; he is not a sparrow!' As she spoke, the sparrow flew down through the hole in the dome of the bath and perched on her knee, and said, 'Did I not command you not to say anything about me? Now you will never see me again!' And it seized in its beak her golden comb and her bracelet, and flew out again.


The Thorn-seller How she wept, how she lamented, how she bewailed her folly! The tears ran, and ran, and her eyes were like fire. There came to the castle the wife of the thorn-seller, and she said, 'My darling, my daughter, do not weep, Allah is merciful, perhaps he will come again!' But she could not console her. The princess mourned her husband as if he were dead, and wept always, till dt, dil a year passed. The princess said to herself, 'There is no way out: I will set myself something to do!' So she called an usta, a skilled workman, and said, 'Build me a hammam in fifteen days.' He answered, 'Aye, I will.' He and his fellows worked, and in fifteen days they had built a fine bath. When it was complete, the princess wrote on the door of the bath the following couplet: Kul men yiji yaghsal bil hammam Tuhkiluh hikaya yughsil bilash wa yitla'. 'Who wishes a bath here a story must say, Can be washed without price and then go away.' For she said within herself, 'If every one who comes here has to tell a tale, I may hear something about my husband.' So she seated herself on a cushion within the door of the bath, and became the natura (doorwoman) of the bath, and guarded the jewellery of those who went within, and they paid her by telling a story. One day there came to the bath an old, dirty woman. She said to the princess, 'O honourable princess, I wish to wash, my head is very dirty.' The princess said, 'You may wash for nothing, if you tell me a story.' Now the old woman knew no story, so she said, 'Grateful thanks, O excellent princess! I will go away now, and wash my clothes first in the river, for they are very dirty, and buy myself a little soap, and return to-morrow, to wash my head.' So the old woman returned to her house. But that night, when the moon came out from the clouds and shone on the old woman, she woke and said to herself, 'The dawn has come, I will go and wash my clothes!' And she

The Thorn-seller


walked, meshi, meshi, meshi, till she came to the shore of the river. There she sat and she washed and washed her clothes, and put them on the ground to dry and waited beside them. While she sat there, she saw a cock come up out of the water with two water-skins on his back. H e swam to the edge, and filled his skins and dived beneath the water again. The old woman marvelled, and said to herself, 'If he comes again, I will seize the cock by the tail.' Presently, he appeared again, with two skins on his back as before. H e filled the skins, and when he had finished, the old woman seized him by the tail. H e dived underneath the water, and she clung on to him and went beneath too. And below, under the water, they came to a castle Wa la awwal Wa la thani!

First in splendour, Second to none!

And before the castle, a pool of water, and near the pool a long table, and upon it forty plates, and forty spoons, and forty forks, and forty knives, and forty goblets. Said she, 'Here is a fine tale for me to tell the Sultan's daughter! Allah has sent me this adventure, so that I shall have a story for her!' And she thought, lBil qtr wal Jehannum! By bitumen and Hades! I want to see all that there is to be seen here!' And she went into the castle and came to the kitchen, and there, on the fire, were dishes and meat boiling and frying, and roasting and sizzling, but no one there. Dishes were being taken to the table outside, but she could see no one carrying them, they moved in the air. She stretched out her hand to eat of a dish, but as she did so, some one struck at her hand and a voice cried, Jurri idech Sidi ma yahibbech ma yaridech! 'Draw back your hand M y master doesn't love you and doesn't want you!' So she withdrew her hand. Then she said, 'I will hide under the couch to see who is coming to eat this feast.'


The Thorn-seller

So she crept beneath the couch and hid herself, and no sooner was she hid than there flew down forty doves, and forty fair damsels came up out of the pool to them, each bearing towel, bathing-wrap, soap, friction-gloves, and all that was necessary for the bath. Then the doves took off their dresses of feathers, and there stood there forty beautiful youths, Subhan Allah I And the youths descended into the pool, and when they were washed and dried and clothed, they sat down to the table and ate. T h e food that was put by them appeared without hands, awadim maku!y and they ate, and finished, and washed their hands and mouths, and then each arose and went into the castle. Each went to his own room, for there were forty rooms. Said the old woman, 'I must go and see what is in these rooms.' So she followed them and went up the stairs, and entered one room and saw the first of the forty youths reading a book, another was sleeping, another was reading the gazette, and each one was doing something or was asleep. W h e n she came to the fortieth room and looked in, she saw the youth who was in it sitting, and on his knees were bracelets and a golden comb, and he was sighing and weeping and saying,

Yd dar, yd dar! Abchi ''ala umm almukhashkhash1 walaswdrl ' O house, O house! I weep for the lady of the anklets and bracelets!' And the tears fell, and ran down. The old woman said within herself, 'Surely this must be the husband of her who keeps the bath!' Then she was afraid that she might not be able to come into the world above again, and she returned quickly to the place where the cock had left her, and he came with two skins on his back. She seized his tail, and fr-r-r-r-r! he flew up and through the water, and came again to the bank. It was 1 T h e mukhashkhash It is very Assyrian in called mukhashkhash. khashkhash because its

is a h i n g e d anklet w h i c h is fastened with a chained p i n . design. I have also heard bracelets of the same pattern T h e root means 'to rattle', e.g. a p o p p y is called a seeds rattle in the pod.

The Thorn-seller 55 dawn and the old woman picked up her clothes, and said to herself, 'What a fine story I have for the Sultan's daughter.' Then she spent a metallik on soap, and did up her bundle for the bath, and went there. The Sultan's daughter said, 'Welcome my mother, welcome! Welcome, old woman of good omen.' The old woman said, 'O my daughter, what a fine story I have to tell you!' And the Sultan's daughter said, 'Aye, old woman.' And the old woman said, 'Last night, I went to wash my clothes by the river, and I saw a cock come out of the water and on his back two skins. And I seized his tail, and went under the water, and saw a fine castle, and beside it a pool. . . . See, what a fine story! Bawi, ey khosh hekayaV. And the Sultan's daughter kissed her hand, and said 'Continue.' And she said, 'Beside the pool was a table, and on the table were forty covers. Then there came flying forty doves, and they took off their dresses of feathers and entered the pool.' Cried the Sultan's daughter, 'This is indeed a tale,' and she kissed the old woman's knees joyfully. The old woman told her all that happened,1 and when she had finished the princess embraced her, and said to the bath attendants, 'Take this old woman and wash her well, and give her fine new clothes.' It was done, and they brought her back to the Sultan's daughter. Then the princess said, 'I shall not part from you, you must come back to my house, and to-night you can take me to the young man who has my bracelet. And aghriik wa namaghni2 Allah I I will enrich you, and God will prosper me.' Said the old woman, 'On my head, on my eyes, I will take you!' At night, when it was dark, the old woman said, 'Rise, my daughter,' and they went to the river bank and waited. 1 2

Repetition, omitted here. The narrator always said namaghni, a mistake for al mughni, the Enricher

56 The Thorn-seller Dt, dt, dt, dt! At midnight there came the cock, and the old woman said, 'When I seize his tail, hold you my dress!' And so it was, and when the cock had filled his water-skins, the old woman held his tail and the Sultan's daughter held the tail of the old woman's dress, and kh-sh-sh! They went through the water and came out at the bottom of the river, close by the pool and the castle. T h e table was spread as it was on the first night, and the old woman and the Sultan's daughter went into the kitchens and saw food a-frying and a-boiling and aroasting, and dishes being carried to the table outside. The princess stretched out her hand and put it into one of the dishes, and a voice cried: Muddi idech, muddi idech, Sidi habbech wa yandech ! 'Put out your hand, put out your hand, M y master loved you and wants you!' So she put her hand into the dish and took the food and ate it. Then the old woman said to her, ' W e must hide beneath the couch.' So they hid beneath the couch, and all that had happened the night before happened again. W h e n she saw her husband, the princess could hardly restrain herself, and said to the old woman, 'That is he, that is he!' W h e n the forty sons of the jann had eaten, they washed their hands and mouths, and went up the steps of the castle, each to his own chamber. Then the old woman and the Sultan's daughter followed them, and looked into each room. One was studying, another was reading, another was sleeping, another was singing, and so they came to the fortieth room, and there sat the princess's husband, weeping, and on his knee the bracelet and the golden comb. And he was saying, l

Ya dar, yd dar, Abchi 'a la umm al mukhashkhash wal as war!'

This. And the old woman spoke over his shoulder and said, 'Do you want her? I will bring her!'

The Thorn-seller


And the young man said, 'You are a human creature, how have you dared to tread our house ?' The old woman replied, 'Allah brought me here, and I have your wife with me.' He said, 'Where is my wife ?' And she answered, 'Here!' Then the young man rose and encaged his wife within his arms and embraced her. Then he said to her, 'You must go, or I fear that my brothers and sisters will kill you for seeing our secrets here. Go quickly, and I will return to you in the guise of a man and will not leave you again.' So they went below, and saw the cock with the skins on his back, and seized his tail and were drawn to the shore of the river. The next night there was a knocking at the door of the princess's house, and, when she opened, there was her husband, in the likeness of a man, although he was the son of the Sultan of the Jann, and he remained with her like a human husband always.



XII T H E BLIND S U L T A N Tom mtn al eyam, Wa saa min az zaman Allah yunsur as Sultan.

A day of days And an hour of time! May Allah make the Sultan victorious!


H E R E was once a Sultan who had three sons by two wives, the one Arab like himself, and the other an Abyssinian. The time came when the sons were grown, and they went to their father and said, 'Why do you not get us wives ?' And he said to the two eldest, 'Go on to the roof, and take your bows and arrows and draw.' And the two sons of the Arab woman went on to the roof and drew their bows. And the arrow of the eldest fell on the roof of an amir who was abiding in the town. They sent to ask for the hand of the amir's daughter, they performed the rites of betrothal and the eldest prince was married to her, and she came to his house. The arrow of the second prince fell on the house of the wazlr, so they sent to ask for the wazlr's daughter, and performed the rites of betrothal, and on the appointed day she came to the house of her husband. As for the third son, the son of the Abyssinian woman, he left his father's house and went out into the chol.1 H e walked and walked, earth making, earth taking, ardh athattu2 ardh atshilu!

until he saw a lion. And the lion called to him, 'Come to me! Beni Adam> la takhaf! Child of man, do not fear! I will not hurt you. Approach, and help me.' For this lion had wounded his foot, and he held it out to the young man, saying again, 'Do not fear, I will not hurt you: only 1

See p . n . T h i s tag the story-teller repeated some six or seven times to represent the length of the journey. 2

The Blind Sultan 59 cure my foot, and I will enrich you and God will give me abundance.' So the young man stooped and took the foot of the lion into his hand, and there was a thorn in it, and he pulled it out, and the abscess was eased, and the pain ceased. And the lion said to the young man, 'Pull out three hairs from my coat, and when you are in need, rub them together.' And he ran off into the desert. The young man immediately took the three hairs and rubbed them together, and there straightway appeared before him three slaves, who said to him, 'Ask, and wish! What do you want?' (utlub u temennaT). The young man said to them, 'I wish for a mare that can fly (timshi hil hawa),' and immediately a beautiful mare stood before him. Then he asked for trappings for her, and for clothes for himself, and behold, the mare was caparisoned, and the youth richly dressed. H e got upon her back, and thanking the slaves, he rode through the air, until he was near a city. Outside the walls he met a shepherd, and asked him for a sheep. The shepherd sold him a sheep, and the young man slaughtered it, and put the skin of the paunch upon his head, so that he appeared bald, and he bound it round with the intestines. So disguised he went into the city, and coming to a garden near the Sultan's palace, he went to the gardener, and asked him if he might work for him. As he asked no pay, the gardener let him stay and work in the garden, and the young man abode with him. Now the windows of the Sultan's palace looked over the garden, and one day, when the youngest princess was gazing out, she saw a handsome young man, in fine raiment, on a beautiful mare, Subhan rabb al khaliqin Wal khaliq ahsan, Glory to the Lord of creation, H e who creates is more excellent than his creatures, for the young man, seeing her, had struck together the three hairs, and appeared to her in all his beauty. Her

6o The Blind Sultan eyes rested on him with favour, and she loved him at sight. The Sultan had three daughters, and as yet they were unmarried. One day they leant from the window and spoke to the gardener in the garden below, and said, 'O gardener, sowwinna ferd chara! Do us a good turn, and speak to the king on our behalf. It is time that we were married, and you must go to the king and tell him that we are marriage-ripe.' The gardener said to them, 'I am the gardener, and I am ashamed to speak to the king, but I will give him your message.' So he picked three melons, and the first was over-ripe, and the second approaching over-ripeness, but the third was at its perfection. And he placed these three melons in a basket and sent them to the king. When the king knew that the melons had been sent by his gardener, he lifted the napkin that covered the melons and looked, and saw that the first was far too ripe, the second over-ripe, and only the third just fit for eating. He was angry, and said, 'Why does my gardener send me melons like these from my garden ?' And he ordered the gardener's head to be cut off. But the wazlr was with him, and said, 'Do not so, your Majesty! If the gardener has sent you these melons, it is to convey a meaning. Your Majesty has three daughters, who should be wedded, and their condition is like that of the three melons. They are marriage-ripe and husbands should be found for them. That is the meaning of the three melons, a meaning which your gardener has not dared to speak.' The Sultan's anger was appeased, and he immediately sent for his daughters, and giving them each an apple, he ordered them to throw the apples at the men of their choice. The first to choose was the eldest daughter. She sat at her window and, by order of the Sultan, all the marriageable men were to pass beneath the window so that she might choose one of them. They assembled, and, dt, di, di, di, the men of the city passed before her, the princes, the senators, the rich men, the ministers, and the merchants. She threw her apple at an amir's son, while all the people clapped their hands. The betrothal was

The Blind Sultan

61 made forthwith, and the marriage completed before seven days had passed. The second week the second sister sat at the window, and it was the same with her, dt, dt, dt, waly, pasha, minister, all passed below her window. She threw her apple at the wazlr's son, and the people all clapped their hands. It was with her as with her sister, the betrothal took place at once, and they were married before seven days had passed. Then it was the turn of the youngest sister, and she too sat at the window. Waly, pasha, wazir, senator, deputy, rich man, merchant, dt, dt, dt, dt, all passed beneath her window, and she did not throw her apple to one of them. The second day the procession continued, and the third, and still she had not thrown her apple. Her ladies came to her and said, 'All the men in Baghdad have passed before you. Choose one of these men, there is no one left in Baghdad now!' She replied, "Abadan! I will not throw the apple at any of those, and all have not yet passed; for I have not seen yet the gardener's apprentice.' They said, 'The gardener's apprentice is dirty, bald, and lame, a poor fellow that works without pay.' She said, 'Nevertheless, bring him.' So they brought him, and she said to him, 'Why did you not go out into the street, you, and pass beneath my window? I will choose you, and none other!' and she threw her apple at him. When the Sultan heard what his youngest daughter had done, he was very angry, and said, 'Why has she refused all the wealthy men and chosen this lame, bald fellow? Throw her and her husband into the stable!' And they did so, and the youngest princess and the gardener's apprentice lived in the stables. Now soon after this war broke out, and when news was brought of it to the Sultan, he went out to fight the enemy at the head of his troops. The young man, when he heard of it, went outside the city, rubbed together his three hairs, and when he had obtained the mare and the trappings and his fine clothes from the three slaves, he went dt, dt, dt over the desert till he came to where the Sultan was fighting with his army. Then he rushed into the fight

62 The Blind Sultan with the utmost bravery: where the Sultan's soldiers killed a thousand, he killed two thousand with his own two hands. The Sultan asked who he was, but no one knew him, and the Sultan had him brought to him when the battle was ended and thanked him. Seeing that his hand was wounded, the Sultan, who was amazed by his beauty and his bravery, tore a piece from the embroidered shawl that he wore round his waist, and tied up the wound with his own hands, sighing as he did so, 'Why are you not my son-in-law?' And he would have honoured him further, but the young man retired, rubbed his three hairs together, got on his mare and flew back to Baghdad, and there pulled the sheep's paunch over his head and bound it with the entrails. When the Sultan got back to Baghdad, he made inquiries of every one as to where the brave youth was who had disappeared so suddenly from his camp. H e said to his court, 'There was a youth who rode a mare and fought with us (Subhan rabb al khaliq, wal khaliq ahsan !) and he was beautiful as the moon of the fourteenth night, and as brave as a lion! With his two hands he killed two thousand men! Who is he, from whence came he, how shall I find him again ?' And his grief at losing the youth was so great that he wept and wept until he lost his sight and became blind. Then all the physicians in that place were summoned and they all tried to cure him, but they could do nothing. At last there came a very old, wise doctor, and he said, 'I know of a certain cure, O Sultan! If your Majesty can procure a lioness's milk, contained in a lion's skin, and brought on a lion's back, and put some of this milk on your eyes, your Majesty will by the mercy of Allah regain his sight.' The eldest daughter's son, the amir's son, when he heard this, went to the Sultan and said, 'I will go in search of the lion's milk and bring it back.' The Sultan replied to him, 'Do not go, my son. There will be danger in getting it and I am afraid that you will be killed.' But the young man insisted that he would go,

The Blind Sultan


and at last the Sultan consented. Before going he went into the sirdab 1 and took a bag of gold and then into the stable to get a mare to ride. Di, di, di, dty di, off he went into the desert, until he came to a place where three roads met. And there sat an old, decrepit man spinning the thread of day and night (shaikh kabir garguma' qa'ad yalijf al lail wan nahar). And the young man said to him, 'God keep you, tell me the names of these roads, and whither they go.' The old man made answer, 'This is the Road Sadd-u-ma-Radd (Went-and-Returned-not), and the other two are both called "Goes-and-Comes" (Taruh u Tijt).' The young man said, 'I will take the Road "Goesand-Comes",' and he went on and on and on, ardh atshilu, ardh athattu,2 until he came to a town, and entered it, and went into its streets, and stopped at a coffee-house. There he tied his mare and sat down to rest. In that coffee-house there was a man who approached him and greeted him, 'Peace upon you! Ahlan u sahlan! Welcome. How are you ?' and other speeches of welcome and courtesy. And he said to him, 'Will your honour come to my house ? All strangers who come to this place stay with me, and I entertain them for three days and nights.' The young man thanked him and the man took him to his house, where they ate and drank and amused themselves for three days and nights. The third night the host said to his guest, 'Do you play chess ?' The young man said, 'Aye.' And the stranger said, 'YallaV3 So they sat down and played chess, and they played for money. The stranger won the first game and the amir's son gave him gold from his bag. Then he won the second game, and the young man gave him more gold, and so it went on until all the gold in his bag was gone. Then he staked his mare, and then his clothes, all but his shirt and 1 A basement room, or cellar. Most of the inhabitants of'Iraq spend the hot hours of the day in their saradlb. Some houses have several stories of saradtb below their house, and Najaf is celebrated for the depth and extent of these 2 underground chambers. Repeated as before. 3 A vulgarism for 'Get on with it!' (literally 'O God, Ya Allah).


The Blind Sultan

drawers, but the stranger won every time, and at the end, when he had won all, the host rose and bade him begone in a rough voice. T h e young man went into the suq and asked a pachachi 1 if he wanted a servant. T h e pachachi said, 'I want a boy to help me, but I can only give you a little food for wages.' A n d the young man was glad to accept. A year passed, and there was no news of him at the palace of the Blind Sultan. T h e n the second daughter's husband, the wazlr's son, came and said to the Sultan, 'For twelve months we have had no news of my brother, and your Majesty is still blind. Allow me to go in search of the lion's milk, and also for my brother-in-law.' T h e Sultan said, 'No, don't go. Y o u r brother-in-law must be dead, and if you take this dangerous journey you too will die. Don't go, my eye, you will die too, and both my daughters will be widows. Stay here.' But the wazlr's son said, ''Abadan! I will go/' So he sent to the sirdab and got a bag of gold, and to the stables to get a mare, and he set off. H e went by the same road as the amir's son, and in time he came upon the old, decrepit man who sat where three roads met and span the threads of day and night. T h e wazlr's son spoke to him, and said, 'Guide me, and tell me the names of these roads, and whither they go.' T h e old man said, ' T h e first is called the Road " W e n t and-Returned-not" and the other two are both called '' Goes-and-Comes " . ' So, like his brother, the wazlr's son took one of the roads named 'Goes-and-Comes', and, like him, he came at last to the town, and entered it, and stopped at the coffeehouse. There he was greeted by the stranger, 'Ahlan u sahlan! H o w do you do ? Deign to come to my house, for I always entertain strangers who come to the town for three days and nights.' T h e young man went with him to his house, and there ate and drank and spent the time in amusement and pleasure until the third night. T h e n the host said, ' D o you play chess ?' A n d the young man said ' A seller of pacha, or sheep's f r y ; see p. 28.

The Blind Sultan


'Aye!' And the host said, 'TallaV And they sat and played chess until the wazlr's son had lost the gold in his bag, and his mare, and his clothes, all but his shirt and his drawers, and he was turned out of the house. He, too, went into the suq to look for work, and a kebabchi1 took him as servant, and gave him as wages a little food. Another year passed, and the Sultan's youngest daughter said to her husband, 'You went to fight for my father in the war, now go and bring back my brothers-in-law and cure his blindness.' So the young man sent to tell the Sultan, 'I will go in search of the lost, and of the lion's milk.' When they told the Sultan what he had said, the Sultan became very angry, and said, 'I will not have that good-for-nothing brought near me, and I do not wish to hear the sound of his voice. Do not speak to me of him.' But the young man took leave of his wife, and went into the desert, took the sheep's paunch off his head and rubbed the lion's hairs together. A t once the three jinn appeared and said, 'Utluh u temenna! Shey tarid? Ask and desire! What is your wish ?' And he asked for the mare that flies through the air. And she was there, and he mounted her, and went quickly i/F, di, di, until he came to the cross-roads where sat the old, decrepit man who sat spinning the threads of day and night. And he came politely to the old man and asked after his health and his family (Shlon keyfak? Shlon ailatak?) and said, 'I am sorry for you that you must sit here day and night spinning,' and other pleasant speeches. After these politenesses, he said, 'I want to ask, my father, what these three roads are called, and whence they go.' The old man replied, ' O my son, the first is called, "Went-and-Returned-not" and the other two "Goes-andComes".' Said the youth, ' O my father, I will go by the first.' Said the old man, ' O my son, do not so! Two youths have passed here, and both took the other two roads, which are easy and straight, and they did not return. If 1 A vendor of kebab, small pieces of meat threaded oil skewers and grilled over a pan of charcoal, which is fanned to a bright heat by the kebabchi,



The Blind Sultan


you take the road "Went-and-Returned-Not" which is perilous, you may perish. You are pleasant-spoken and intelligent, I should be sorry if you came to harm.' Replied the youth, 'Nevertheless, I choose the Road "Went-and-Returned-Not".' Said the old man, 'If you persist in taking this dangerous road, tell me why you are risking your life.' And the young man told him all that happened to him from the beginning. Then the old man said, ' M y son, you are kind-hearted and soft-spoken, and clever too, so I will tell you what you must do. When you go along the road you will be attacked on all sides, and beaten, and hit with stones, but you must not turn round, or you will die. Go straight on, looking neither to left nor right, and at the end of the road you will find a large castle surrounded by a wall, in which are seven gates, each guarded by a deywa.1 These deywat are fierce and will eat you, should you try to enter, but I will give you seven hairs from my beard, and you must make nooses with them, to draw from the mouth of each deywa the gum which she is chewing.2 As soon as the gum is removed she will fall asleep, and will not harm you. When all the seven deywat are asleep, you can enter the courtyard of the castle, in which you will find lionesses in plenty. They will not harm you, for a lioness does not eat the children of Adam, it is only the male which does this. Kill and skin one beast, and milk another, then place the skin of milk on the back of a cub, and return by the road by which you came, taking care that you look neither to the right nor left when you are beaten and stoned.' Then he plucked out seven hairs from his beard and gave them to the young man, who set off on the road 'Went-and-Returned-Not'. It was just as the old man said: and the young man was thumped and dumped, and beaten and shaken, but he took no notice, nor glanced to right nor left, but went on, straight as a mile, di, di, di, di,, until he came to the great castle. There it was, and round it a high wall, with seven 1

See Preface, p. xiii.


See note, p. 1 1 6 .

The Blind Sultan


gates. H e went to the first, and at the gate a deywa was sitting chewing gum lest she should fall asleep. The young man made a loop of one of the hairs from the old man's beard, and came softly, softly, and slipped the noose into her mouth, and drew out the chewing-gum, and that instant the deywa fell asleep. H e said, 'I have finished with that one, now I will go on to the second gate.' And he went on to the second gate, and softly, softly, he slipped a hair over the chewing-gum of the second deywa and she too fell asleep. H e said, 'Praise to Allah, she is finished too!' And he went on to the third, and the fourth, until all the deywat were asleep. Then he entered the courtyard of the castle, and there, in a big cage were many lionesses with their cubs. H e opened the cage, took his sword and killed one lioness, and skinned her whole, then milked a second lioness into the skin. After that, he took one of the lion cubs, put the skin on his back, and drove it before him as if it were a donkey out of the castle. H e returned by the road by which he had come, and this time it hailed blows faster than ever, and stones were hurled at him from right and left, but he did not turn his head, but continued walking straight on, until he came to where the old man sat at the cross-roads. When the old man saw him he was overjoyed, and said, 'Welcome, my son, I feared that I should never see you again, but I know now that you are as wise as you are brave, and deserve the good fortune which will be yours.' The young man thanked him and then said to him, ' M y father, I came not only to get the lioness's milk, but to find my two brothers. Please tell me by which road they went.' And the old man told him. Then he asked the old man if he might leave the lion with him, while he went to search for his brothers, and the old man said, 'Leave it, and Allah be with you, my son.' So the young man went on the road 'Goes-and-Comes' and in time he reached the town, and entered it, and stopped at the coffee-house near the gate. No sooner had

68 The Blind Sultan he stopped there, than the stranger approached him and said, 'Peace upon you! Hallat al baraka! Blessing upon you! Welcome! Deign to come to my house, for I entertain all strangers who come to this place for three days and three nights.' The young man thanked him, and went with him to his house, where he was received with honour, and feasting and drinking for three days and three nights. But on the third night, the host said, 'Do you play chess ?' Answered the young man, 'Aye.' And the host said, 'Yalta/' So they played, and the host lost. They played again, until the host lost all his money, and his house. Then he said, 'This time, I will stake my soul.' They played, and the host lost. So the young man drew his sword, and prepared to take the host's soul, but the host seized his hand and said, 'Do not kill me! I am not a man, but a woman.' Then the young man said, 'I will not kill you, since you are a woman, but you should not have played chess with me. I do not play chess with girls. Tell me, where are my brothers ?' She answered him: 'There came two young men who played chess with me here, and their bags of money are hanging here in the room, and their mares are in the stable, but they went away, and I do not know what became of them.' Said the youth, 'I will hunt for them.' And he threw her into the street, and went forth into the suq to look for them. After a little he came to the pachachi's shop, and there was the amir's son, dirty, ragged, greasy, low, engaged in serving pacha to the pachachi's customers. The young man knew him, but his brother-in-law, who had only seen him with the sheep's paunch on his head, did not recognize him. So the youth took a mejldieh1 from his pocket and went to the pachachi, and said, 'Send your apprentice here to my house with a dish of pacha.' And the pachachi said, 'Mamnun! Gratefully.' 1

A b o u t 3J. (id.

The Blind. Sultan 69 So the young man returned to the house, and the amir's son behind him. When they got to the house, he bade his brother-in-law follow him upstairs, and said, 'Put the pacha on the table,' and he did so. Then he said, 'How long have you been with the pachachi ?' The amir's son said, 'Two years.' And he said, 'What wages does he give you ?' And the other replied,'Bi akilbatni, I get my keep.' Then he said, 'Come, sit down and eat the pacha with me.' The other said, 'I am only an apprentice, how can I eat with your Honour ?' But the youth said, 'Leysh ? Why, don't be ashamed, come and eat with me, for I shall not eat without you.' So they ate together, and when they had finished, the youth said, 'Take the plate back to the pachachi, and then leave his service and come to me for your keep.' And the amir's son said, 'Aye.' And he returned to the pachachi, and said, 'I am leaving you, and entering the service of the effendi who bought the pacha.' And so it was. When he got to the house again, the youth gave him clothes, and sent him to the hammam, and they passed the evening in pleasure and amusement. The next day the youth said, 'I will search for the other.' He went again into the suq, and he looked, and looked, this way and that, and then he saw his other brother engaged in fanning the kebab as the meat roasted on the skewers. So he went to the kebabchi and gave him some money, and said, 'Make me a plate of kebab, and send your fellow with it to my house—it is such and such a street.' And the kebabchi said, 'Mamnun !' The wazlr's son followed the customer back, and when they had gone upstairs, the youth said to him, 'Come, let us all eat together,' for the amir's son was there awaiting them. The other two made answer iAbadanl Never! It is not seemly!' But the youth pressed them, and in the end they all ate together, but neither of his brothers-in-law knew who he was. At the end of the meal he bade his


The Blind Sultan

second brother-in-law take back the plate to the kebabchi, and leave his service. T h e other agreed, went back to the kebabchi, and said, 'I wish to leave you and enter the service of the effendi who bought the kebab', and so it was. W h e n he got back, he, too, was sent to the hammam and provided with new clothes. T h e n they spent three nights together in that house, feasting and amusing themselves. O n the third night the youth said, 'I want to hear a story: tell me who you are, and whence you come.' T h e y answered him, ' W e are from Baghdad, and our father-in-law the Sultan was blind, and needed lion's milk for his eyes,' and told him their adventures in that place, and how they had lost all they had in gambling. T h e youth said, 'I will give you some lion's milk, and we will all go to Baghdad. Set you out first, and I will follow with the milk and give it to you.' T h e next day the two brothers-in-law set out on foot, but the youth got on his flying mare, and came quickly, quickly to the cross-roads, while they were twenty days behind upon the road. There sat the ancient man, and the lion beside him. T h e youth thanked him and bade him farewell, and rode off on his mare, driving the lion before him. W h e n he had gone some way in the desert, he rubbed the three hairs together, and the three jinn appeared, saying, lUtlub

u. temennal Shey taridf

H e told them, 'I want a tent fit for a prince, and within it servants, and a golden chair, and about it soldiers to guard it.' A n d in the twinkling of an eye, they were before him. Then he mixed a little of the lioness's milk with some water, put it in a bottle, and waited until his brothers-in-law came up with him. W h e n they appeared, he sent a servant to them, and said, ' T h e Sultan wishes to see you, please to enter his tent.' T h e y followed him, and entered, and made obeisance, and saluted him. T h e n he said, 'Have you procured the lioness's milk for your father-in-law?' A n d they said, 'By Allah, until now we have not procured it.' A n d he said, 'I have some here for

The Blind Sultan


you.' And they kissed his hand, and said, 'God keep you! We are thankful, we are very grateful.' H e said, 'I will give you this bottle, but on one condition: and that is that you will bend down and let me put my seal on your backsides.' They answered, lAbadan ! Never! That cannot be!' And he said, 'Then the bottle will not be given to you.' Then they consulted with each other apart, and one said, 'If we allow him to do what he says, who will know it ? We are far from Baghdad in the desert, and shall never see him or his people again, and our shame cannot be known.' And the other agreed with him, and said, 'O your highness, we are ready.' They bent down, and the Sultan sealed their backsides with his seal, and having placed the bottle in their hands, he bade them travel in peace. So after some days'journey, they returned to Baghdad, and there was music, and cheering, and great joy when the people knew them. They went to the palace of the Sultan, their father-in-law, and he rose to embrace them, saying, 'I thought that you were dead, that wild beasts had devoured you, that we should never see you more! Welcome, my sons!' Then they told him that after many dangers they had procured the lioness's milk to put on his eyes, and gave him the bottle. H e put in a drop. Htch! Nothing! H e was blind as before. Then another drop. H-i-c-h! H e could not see. Then all the bottle, but in vain, he remained blind. Meanwhile, the youngest daughter's husband, the son of the Abyssinian, rubbed the three hairs together, and when the slaves appeared, he said, 'Remove all!' and soldiers, tent, servants, golden chair, all went: their place was empty. Then he went to Baghdad, and drew the sheep's paunch over his head, and drove the young lion before him into the stable. His wife met him with joy, and said, 'Where were you this long time! At last you have returned, and with the milk for my father's eyes. Go quickly and take the lion to my father, and tell him


The Blind Sultan

all that you have done for him, how you defeated his enemies, and killed two thousand of them, and how you procured this lion.' H e asked her, 'Your brothers-in-law, have they come ?' She said, 'Aye, they came.' Asked he, 'Did they give milk to the Sultan ?' Answered she, 'They gave.' Asked he, 'Were his eyes opened ?' Answered she, 'No.' Then he went to the wazlr and asked to see him, and told him that he had the cure for the king's blindness. And the wazlr said, 'Your brothers-in-law have already brought milk, and it did him no good.' But he said, 'Nevertheless, I will go in with the lion.' And he struck the hairs together, and removed the paunch, Subhan rabb al khaliq Wal khaliq ahsan !

he became as beautiful as the full moon. So he went into the audience-room, and the lion cub with him, and took some milk from the skin and put one drop of the milk into the Sultan's eyes. H e asked, 'Do you see?' The Sultan answered, 'Allah is great, I see a little.' After an hour, he put in another drop, and the Sultan saw more clearly, and another drop, after another hour, and the Sultan saw the wide world clearly and was overjoyed. H e said, 'Who are you and whence did you come, and how did you procure this milk ?' And the young man answered, 'I am your son-in-law, husband to your youngest daughter.' And he told him the story from beginning to end, and how he had given the milk mixed with water to the other sons-in-law, and added, 'If you do not believe me, look at their backsides!' And the amir's son and the wazlr's son were shamed. Then the youth said, 'It was I who fought in your army, and here is the shred of shawl with which you bound my hand.' The king was very happy, and cried, 'It was you! and I did not know it, and put you in the stable! Forgive me!'

The Blind Sultan


Then he called his people and they made great wedding festivities, and large feasts, and calling the Abyssinian's son, he took off his crown and placed it on his head. And this is the end of the story of the Blind Sultan.

Kunna 'adkum wa jlna Ad duff mugarga waI arUs hazina ! W e were at your house, and we came back, The tambourine rattles and the bride is sad! or


Kân akUsh telet 'tujahaiyàt (tufahât) Wâhida illi, wàhida lil tahchi al hechâya, wâhidi HI tism'a al hechâya. Wal qishûr lil Sultan ! There were three apples : One for me, one for the story-teller, and one for the listener, And the peel for the Sultan.

(Then, fearing that she had uttered lèse majesté, the story-teller said, quickly,

'No, not that! for the mare.')

"Wal qishur lil feresi." And the peel

1 A bride of modest character should always weep at her wedding: a smiling bride is thought bold. Tears also serve to keep away the evil eye.





HERE was once a man whose laziness prevented him from rising in the world; in fact, he was a fellow with neither energy nor intelligence. H e was married to a woman called Jarada, or Locust, who was as quick-witted as he was slow. One day she said to her husband, 'We have no food in the house, you must get out and earn some money.' H e replied, 'How shall I earn money, wife? No one will give me work.' She said, 'True, but you have not yet tried the trade of magician. That is a calling which brings in money. Go, sit in the market and tell the people that you are a white magician and will write them charms (hijab) to keep off ill-fortune.' Said her husband, 'O Locust, how shall I do that? I know not alif from yay—I cannot write.' 'Dense-witted man,' said Locust, 'is it necessary to write to make amulets? Make but a few scribblings on paper and they will take it for hidden writing.' She gave him a pen-case1 to stick in his belt, and paper, and forth he went to the market-place and cried that he was a fatahfal2—a reader of secrets, a dealer in magic. Wherever there is a deceiver there are always deceived, and the false prophet never lacks disciples. Locust's husband did a brave trade, and wrote charms against the Eye, amulets against bullets, protections against fevers, cures for the palsy, and other charms, and at the end of the week he found himself the possessor of more money than he had ever earned by honest work. The fates which had given him a good wife had also contrived that he should prosper, for his fame quickly

1 A belt pen-case is shaped rather like a pipe (if it is merely box-shaped it goes into the pocket). At one end is the ink-pot, in the other a spoon for the sand and a reed pen. 2 The fatahfdTs cry is Fatahfal! a' ad dad nejm, dkhudh thlra! I count the stars and take omens! This cry is heard in Baghdad to-day.

Jarada 75 spread. People began to talk of the cures he had worked, of witchcraft he had brought to naught, and of other wonders he had wrought. One day as he sat in the marketplace a woman came to him and said, 'O wise man, I am in trouble and seek your help. Can you be secret ?' 'The wise are always secret,' replied the husband of Locust. 'Then my trouble is this. I am a servant in the house of the Khalifa. One day I saw the Khalifa's ring lying in his chamber, and Shaitan entering my mind, I took it. Now there is great hue and cry after the ring, and I want to consult the stars to know if I shall be discovered.' Locust's husband pretended to consult his book and told her that the stars were against her. 'You must lose the ring.' Said the maid-servant, 'Sooner the ring than my head. What must be done?' The magician looked again at the book and told her that she must instantly put the ring into the cistern: otherwise, he warned her, her life would be forfeit. 'It shall be done,' said the woman, and she gave him a fee for his good counsel. When he came home, he told his wife, and she commended him for what he had said, and putting on her veil, she went to talk with some of the women of the Khalifa's household, telling them that her husband was a wonderful wizard, and that if the Khalifa would only consult him, she was certain that he could find out from his magical book where the ring was. They told the Khalifa's wife, who mentioned it to her husband. The result was that the magician was summoned to the palace and brought into the presence of the Khalifa, who ordered him to prove his skill by discovering the ring. The wizard opened his book, and after a little scribbling, he told the Khalifa that if he looked in the cistern, the ring would be found. It was even as he said, and the Khalifa was so pleased that he rewarded the wise man generously.

76 Jarada A short time after this there was a robbery in the palace, and a chest containing money and jewels disappeared. The Khalifa sent at once for the magician, opened the matter to him, and instructed him to discover in his book where the chest was secreted. The charlatan was in the utmost difficulty, looked in his book and wondered what he should do. At last he said, 'O Commander of the Faithful, I do not see clearly in my book, and I must work my spells at home.' It is a bad thing to disappoint princes. The Khalifa frowned, and said, 'See that the spells do not fail, or it may cost you dear.' The husband of Locust answered him, 'My spells will not fail, but I need time.' 'How much time is needed ?' asked the Khalifa. 'Forty days,' replied the charlatan, for he thought in himself that in forty days much might happen. 'Good,' said the Khalifa. 'But if after the forty days you have not restored the chest, your life will be forfeit.' 'Hearing and obeying,' replied the magician, and he returned to his wife in great misery, and spent the rest of the day in weeping and in prayer. Now the thieves who had stolen the box of treasure were forty in number, and when news reached them that the king had sent for the wise man who had discovered the lost ring so easily, they became disturbed in mind. The chief of the band decided to send one of their number as a spy to the wizard's house, to see if he could find out if the wizard were indeed on their track. So at nightfall he crept to the house, and laying his ear to the door he listened. Presently he heard the magician within say to his wife with a deep groan, 'O Locust, my wife, one of the forty is passing!' He meant that one of the forty days left to him on the earth was drawing to its close, but the thief who was listening took the words to himself. He went back to the chief, and said, 'O chief, this man knows all! While I was hid, he said to his wife, "Here is one of the forty!" and I fled away.'

Jarada 77 'We must discover more,' replied the chief. 'To-morrow night another of you must go to listen.' The next night the second thief went to lay his ear to the door, like the first. The words he heard were, 'O wife, one of the forty has gone, and now another of them is passing!' and the thief made off as fast as he could and reported the words to the chief. The master-robber beat his breast and cried, 'Without doubt he knows each one of us! And he may go at any moment to tell the Khalifa.' The thieves consulted together, and in fear of their lives they agreed to go to the wizard and throw themselves on his mercy, promising him a large sum of gold if he would forbear to betray them to justice. This they did that very night. Locust's husband said to them, 'I know each one of you and his wickedness, but I am a man of clemency, and will do what I can to protect you. You must tell me, however, where you have hidden the chest, and nothing of the treasure must be missing, so that it can be restored to the Khalifa.' 'Life is more precious than treasure,' said the robberchief. 'We will show you where the chest is hidden and give you a handsome reward as well.' The next day the magician presented himself at the palace and told the Khalifa that the spells had worked more quickly than he had at first thought, and that he could lead him to where the chest was hidden. H e took the Khalifa to the spot which the robbers had shown him beside a bush in the desert:, and when the Khalifa's servants dug in that place, lo, the chest was laid bare, and none of its contents were missing. The Khalifa was very pleased and bestowed a fine house and much money on the soothsayer, whose fame was much increased thereby. The Khalifa boasted of the powers of his magician to all the princes that he knew, and one day Locust's husband was summoned to the palace, where a foreign prince was being entertained. The Khalifa presented the magician

78 "Jarada to the prince, and told the latter that he beheld a very master of wonders. Said he, ' H e can see through walls, and he can see through the earth!' And to prove the wizard's power, he asked him before his guest, 'Tell us what I hold here in my closed hand!' The soothsayer cursed the day that he had taken up this trade, for he knew that if he failed now before the foreign prince the face of the Khalifa would be blackened and that he would certainly die for his imposture. H e cast himself on his knees, and cried in despair, 'Caught at last, O Locust!' of course meaning his wife. As he spoke, the Khalifa opened his hand, and a locust flew out. One of the princes then plucked a bunch of lentils and went with it in his closed hand to the magician, and said, 'Divine what is here in my hand,' and the magician exclaimed: 'Al yidri yidri, Wal ma yidri Jadhbat'ades I1

Who knows, knows And who knows not A bunch of lentils!'

and again he was right. The foreign prince was astounded at the magician's powers, and rewarded him by a purse of dinars. However, when he returned to his wife Locust, the soothsayer said to her, 'Chance has helped me three times, but I fear that next time fortune will forsake me. I live in constant fear that the Khalifa will set me a task I cannot perform. What shall I do, O Locust ?' His wife advised him to feign madness, and that as soon as might be. So the next day when his friends came to see him, she told them that Allah had afflicted her husband and that he was crazy. The news reached the Khalifa and he sent at once to know if it were true. They brought the supposed madman, raving and singing, into the palace. To prove his madness, the soothsayer pretended not to recognize the Khalifa, when brought 1

A symbol of despair. If one is in despair, they say of him yakul 'ades.



into his presence, but going up to him laid hold of him familiarly by the sleeve and sought to draw him from the room. The Khalifa humoured his whim, and the courtiers followed to see what the crazy fellow would do. No sooner had they left the audience-chamber than the ceiling fell in with a crash. The Khalifa turned to his courtiers and said, 'Even in his madness this fellow is wiser than ordinary mortals! He was surely sent hither by the Compassionate, so that our lives might be spared.' And he overwhelmed his saviour with riches, so that the magician and his wife Locust lived in comfort all the days of their life.

Wa hadha hechaya Nus1 ha chedhbaya, Lo enta qarib This story Is half-lie, If you were near I'd give you a dish of raisins. 1




HERE was once a stork who was on friendly terms with a jackal. But being bested by the cunning of the jackal once or twice, he made up his mind to give him a lesson. So he invited the jackal to dinner, and when his guest arrived, he led him to a thicket of brushwood where peas were scattered. The stork could easily pick up the peas with his long bill, while the jackal pricked and scratched his tongue and muzzle. The next day the jackal invited the stork to dinner, and bought a bottle of milk, which he poured on a slab of marble. The jackal licked up the milk easily, while the stork, trying in vain to swallow a little, broke his bill. The stork, feeling his dignity injured by his broken bill, made up his nJnd to revenge himself, so he went to the jackal and said, 'Brother Jackal, I want to teach you how to fly! Ride on my back, and I will show you when we are in the air.' The jackal got on the stork's back and the stork flew up higher and higher with him. Presently, the stork asked, 'What does the world below look like ?' The jackal answered, 'It looks as big as a carpet.' The stork flew yet higher, and asked the jackal, 'How big is the world now ?' The jackal replied, 'It is as big as an orange.' The stork flew higher still, and asked again, 'How big is the world?' The jackal answered, 'The earth is so far below us that I cannot see it.' Then the stork said, ' M y shoulder is tired, will you please cling to the other?' While the jackal was doing this, he contrived to shake him off, and flew away. The jackal fell towards the earth, and as he fell he kept crying and praying to Allah,

Ya rabbi la tiksar akra-i Waqq'ani 'ala jurwat ar rail 'Oh Lord, do not break my fore-leg! Cause me to fall on the shepherd's sheepskin coat!'

The Stork and the Jackal


A n d indeed, when he approached the earth, he saw that he was falling towards a flock of sheep tended by a shepherd. H e fell on the shepherd, who, affrighted, flew off leaving his sheepskin coat and his fifty sheep behind him. T h e jackal donned the sheepskin, and the sheep thinking him their shepherd followed him into his cave. T h e n the jackal offered banquets to his friends and relatives, and had the best of times with the provision he kept in the cave. Soon he was pronounced Shaikh of Wawla, 1 owing to the dignity he had acquired by his hospitality and the wearing of the sheepskin. One day when he went to drink, the jackal met the lion, who said to him, ' H a , Abul wlyu, from whence this fur coat you are wearing ?'

Answered the jackal, 'Ya, Abu Khumeyisf leish, enta ma t'aref? W h y , Father-of-Five, don't you know? M a k i n g fur coats is our trade. M y grandfather and father were both of that profession, and we have secrets of the trade which we keep in our family.' T h e lion said, ' T a k e my measurements and make me a fur coat.' T h e jackal took his measurements and said, ' Y o u r fur coat will need twenty camels, fifty sheep, and a hundred and twenty hens.' T h e lion said, 'Good! I will bring you the materials you ask.' W h e n the lion came with the camels, sheep, and hens, the jackal drove them all into his cave and gave great feasts to his friends and relations while the lion waited for his fur coat. Growing impatient, the lion went to look for the jackal, and said, 'Where is my fur coat? Is it not yet ready?' T h e jackal replied, 'I am glad to say that your fur coat is a really fine one, the best we have ever made! but the materials you brought were not quite enough, and we need a little more for the buttons—a mere nothing—only twenty sheep and forty hens. T h e n I shall hope to send you your fur coat and you will wear it in good health, 3 please G o d ! ' 2 Lion's nickname, Father-of-Little-Five (claws). Jackaldom. When a new garment is put on for the first time it is customary to say Btl'afiya! (Wear it in good health!) in order to keep off the evil eye. 1





The Stork and the Jackal

The jackal got a new supply of provisions from the lion, and departed and spent the winter in his cave. Then the lion got angry and making inquiries discovered the trick which had been played upon him. H e swore to give the jackal a good lesson, and lying in wait for him, he managed to catch him one day. The lion asked him, 'What has happened to my fur coat ? Why have you not delivered it?' The jackal answered, 'A few threads are still lacking, and if you will bring me a little more material ' At that the lion burst in with a great roar and said, 'Am I to be the mock of you and your father?' and struck him with his paw. The jackal was too quick for him, and escaped with his life, but his tail was torn off and he ran away tailless. The lion shouted after him, 'Now I shall recognize you! because you are without a tail!' The jackal realized his danger and resorted to a trick. H e went to a mound and shouted to all the jackals of the district that he wished to call a meeting. When they were all assembled, he addressed them, 'O my brethren! during my travels in other countries I learnt the most graceful and beautiful dance! I want you all to learn it, as it will cause you great amusement. It is very simple. Each jackal must take a partner, and must face one in one direction and the other in the other: and their tails I shall tie together. When you are all in place, I will teach you the first step.' H e went round and saw that their tails were all tied fast one to the other, and then from his mound he gave a loud cry, 'Fly, my brothers! A gang of lions is approaching us to eat us!' The jackals in terror plunged for freedom, each in another direction, and in so doing pulled off their own tails. Next day all the jackals of the district were tailless like their shaikh. When the lion sent out his messengers to arrest the tailless jackal, they returned to him saying, 'O Abu Khumeyis! All the jackals in this place are tailless!' So the jackal effected his escape.



NE day, Abu Khumeyis, 1 the king of beasts, was sauntering in the desert, when he came upon a well, and stopped by it. And when he looked down into it, he saw a wolf, and wished him good-day. Said the wolf, i Ahlan u sahlan, ya Abu Khumeyis! Welcome, O Abu Khumeyis!' Said the lion, 'What are you doing down there ?' Said the wolf, 'I am making a fur coat.' Said the lion, 'O wolf, the weather is cold, I should like a fur coat, too.' Said the wolf, 'Good, I will make you one, but I shall want sheepskins.' The lion agreed, and went away, and having caught two fat lambs, he threw them down the well to the wolf. Said the wolf, 'That is not nearly enough, I shall want many—one or two at a time.' So the lion came every day and threw him a lamb or two daily, but each time he asked, 'Is the coat finished?' the wolf answered, 'I want more skins.' At the last the lion grew impatient, for each time he threw a lamb in the wolf had an excuse why his coat was not ready, such as 'It is a feast,' or 'I have not been well.' But the lion would hear this no longer, and said that he must have his coat. The wolf replied, 'In another two days.' When the lion came after two days, he said, 'The coat only needs a few stitches, and you shall have it to-morrow. Come early and bring a rope.' So the next day the lion came and threw a rope into the well and hauled upon it as he was bid. As he hauled he thought that the coat must be a fine one, for the weight that hung on the rope was great. This was because the wolf, who had clung on to the rope with a couple of the skins, had grown very fat upon the lambs which the lion had thrown down. No 1

See p. 81, note 2.

84 ' I t is not the Lion's Fur Coat!' sooner had he been drawn to the top, than he threw the skins at the lion, and before Abu Khumeyis recovered his wits, he was off and far away. And if in Baghdad a person who has ordered a garment of the tailor is met with excuses for its delay, he answers, lEysh sare kho

mu furwat es seba'! It isn't the Lion's fur coat!'




sometimes tired of his continual attendance

..upon the Khalifa, whose every whim he was supposed to humour, and one day, unable to endure it, he went off into the city, and hid himself. T h e Khalifa missed him, and sent orders far and wide that he was to be found and brought to him. In time, some of his servants visiting the outskirts of Baghdad found Abu Nowas, who was in merry mood, a leathern bottle of wine slung to his waist. They apprehended him and brought him back to their master, who, in his joy at recovering his favourite, was disposed to forgive him for his truancy. However, he affected to be angry, and fixing Abu Nowas with a stern look, he asked, ' W h a t have you in that bottle ?' 'Laban (sour milk),' returned Abu Nowas readily. T h e Khalifa opened the bottle, and frowned. 'Is laban red, O Abu Nowas?' ' T h e laban saw your Majesty, and was bashful and blushed!' T h e Khalifa laughed and forgave the jester. On another occasion, Abu Nowas, being weary of Court life sought permission from his master to journey into other parts of the country. H a r u n ar Rashld gave his permission, and Abu Nowas, when he went to pay his farewell visit, produced a document, which he begged him to sign and seal with the royal seal. It was a firman, and in it was set forth that by order of the Khalifa, every man who was afraid of his wife should give to Abu Nowas an ass. In time, Abu Nowas returned, and lo! behind him was a train of some four hundred asses! Abu Nowas hastened to visit the Khalifa, who declared to him that he had led a dull life since Abu Nowas had gone away.

86 Two Stories of Abu Nowas Said Abu Nowas, 'Many a good jest have I enjoyed with your Majesty. Does not your Majesty remember that night when ?' The Khalifa looked apprehensively at the curtain and tugged at his sleeve. 'Not so loud, Abu Nowas, or Sitt Zobeidah will hear what may not be fitting for her to hear!' Abu Nowas said, 'Your Majesty, I demand two asses.' 'Wherefore?' said the Khalifa. 'Because your Majesty, being at the same time like and unlike other men, must pay a king's fine for being afraid of his wife. Lesser men pay one ass, your Majesty must pay two.'



NE day the Khalifa was walking in Baghdad with his minister, and they came to the river, where a fuller stood beating cotton-cloth in the river. It was winter, and the weather was bitterly cold, and the Khalifa paused by the man and spoke to him. Said he, 'You have twelve, do you need these three ?' Answered the fuller, 'For the thirty and two they are needed.' Said the Khalifa, 'And the far ?' Replied the fuller, 'Is now near.' Spake the Khalifa once more, 'If I send you a goose will you pluck it ?' And the fuller made reply, 'Yes, I will pluck its feathers and send it back.' Then the Khalifa and his minister passed on, and when they had gone a little way the Khalifa turned to his minister, and said, 'Did you understand what I said to the fuller?' The minister replied, 'O Khalifa, lord of the age and time, I did not understand.' Said the Khalifa, 'I will give you a respite of three hours to find out the meaning of what was said, and if you cannot read me the riddle, I shall cut off your head.' The minister saluted the Khalifa and left him. First he went to his house and took a bag of gold, and secondly he went back to the fuller. To him he said, 'O my dear, Allah preserve you and your children and lengthen your life! What was the meaning of what the Khalifa said to you and you to him!' Answered the fuller, 'Pass on! That is nothing to you!' Said the minister, ' M y brother, my dear, if you will not tell me, the Khalifa will cut off my head! Allah bless you, Allah preserve you! For the sake of Allah the Merciful

88 A story of the Khalifa and the Prophet, on him be peace, tell me the meaning of your conversation.' Said the fuller, 'If for each riddle, you will give me a hundred pieces of gold, I will speak.' The minister gave him a hundred pieces of gold. The fuller said, 'The Khalifa said to me, "You have twelve, do you need these three?" and his meaning was, "There are twelve months in the year, need you work during the three cold months ?" and to this I replied, "For the thirty and two they are needed," and I meant my teeth. For if a poor man remains idle three months, his teeth are idle too!' Then the minister said, 'And now the second dark saying.' Said the fuller, 'First another hundred pieces of gold!' and the minister counted him out the hundred. Then said the fuller, ' "The far is now near", referred to my sight, which has grown longer with age, as is usual with those getting on in life.' Said the minister, 'And the third saying ?' Replied the fuller, 'Give me all the gold that remains in the bag and I will tell you.' The minister handed him the bag, and the fuller said, 'The Khalifa asked if I could pluck a goose, if he were to send me one. By the goose he meant you, and, by Allah, I have plucked you!' And he held up the gold, and added, 'And now return to the Khalifa!' And the minister departed, shamed.




NE day the Khalifa was walking in the streets with Abu Nowas, when he saw a man, stark naked, lying in the road asleep, and his body and limbs were painted in divers colours. The Khalifa poked him with his foot and said, 'What is this ?' Answered the fellow, 'What business have you with me?' Answered the Khalifa, 'Why have you painted yourself in this manner?' Answered the man, 'I wished to sleep. Suppose while I was asleep, one came and cut off my hand, or my leg, and took it away, how should I know them again unless they were painted ?' The Khalifa laughed, and said, 'This poor fellow is mad!' and to him he said, 'Rise! come with me and return to my house. You can live in my kitchen and help the cook, and earn your bellyful.' So the man was put into the Khalifa's kitchen, and the Khalifa ordered that he should be well fed, and that they should employ him in the kitchen on such tasks as washing plates and peeling onions. Now one day a Sultan sent his wazlr to the Khalifa, and when he had entered the Khalifa's presence, the wazlr said, 'I have two riddles to propound to your Majesty from my master the Sultan. I f you can explain them satisfactorily, there will be an alliance between you, and if not, there will be war.' But the Khalifa could not understand the riddles, and he and his wazlrs were troubled and anxious. T h e fool who worked in the kitchen noticed that something was amiss, and asked what was the matter. They answered him, 'What are you, that you should understand, madman!' The fool replied, 'I am mad, but perhaps I may be able to help them, for I see them troubled and anxious.' 3800


Another story oj the Khalifa And he was so insistent, that at last they went to the Khalifa and said to him, 'The fool in the kitchen wants to speak to you, he thinks that he can help you!' Answered the Khalifa, 'Let him come! When there is no help in wise men, perhaps the stones will speak!' And they brought the madman, and the strange wazir came also, while all the court waited to see what would happen. Now neither spoke a word, but the strange wazir bent and traced on the ground a circle with his finger. The fool bent also, and with his finger he drew a line across the circle. Then the wazir took from his pocket an egg and placed it in the midst of the circle. The madman put his hand into his pocket, and drew out an onion, and this he placed beside the egg. Then the wazir spoke and asked him to explain the meaning. Said the fool, 'The circle that you drew was the world, and I cut it across to symbolize the two spheres. The egg with its yolk and white means the waters of the earth, and the sun which gives it life, and the onion, with its seven skins, symbolizes the seven layers of the earth.' And the wazir cried, 'This fool could not have known the meaning, it was Allah who spoke through him!' And the court applauded and all saw that Allah had spoken by the mouth of the fool.



Y uncle was interpreter for the police in Baghdad, and their hosh,1 which was 'dwelt-in' (haunted), was divided into two courts, one near the street, and the other on the river, and at night they locked the door between the two. One night, when all were asleep, my uncle was awakened by a knocking, taq-taq-taq! on the door on the river side. M y uncle was a brave man, and he got up and opened the door and went into the other courtyard. He heard a wailing, a boy's voice crying lKhatr Allah I I am drowning! get me out! Give me your hand!' He went to the river, and there in the river he saw a boy. He stretched forth his hand to the boy, but the appearance stuck out its tongue and with a laugh it disappeared into the river.2 This same uncle was once in the quarter Sultan 'Ali, and came out of the konak one night at about eleven o'clock, and was returning to his house alone, when he saw a woman sitting by the roadside. She was veiled and beautifully dressed, and was weeping bitterly. How she wept, ahu, ahu, ahu! M y uncle drew out his dagger, for before the war every one went armed, and said to her, ' M y aunt, what is the matter, who has done you hurt? Why are you sitting here weeping?' She answered nothing, but continued to weep, ferd buka'! H e said to himself, 'How can I leave her here alone at such an hour and weeping like this!' At this, she suddenly lifted her veil, and put out her tongue at him, and he knew her for a jinniya. H e stuck his dagger into the ground before her, and she disappeared. But his hand remained rooted to the dagger in the ground: he could not withdraw it until there came by a man, who lifted it for him. And my grandmother told me about a cousin who died 1

See p. 29.


Cf. Preface, p. xii, for the ferij


92 The Tricks of Jann before I was in the world. Their house was in the Maidan, and that night as they were going to the vigil before Christmas, at the church they passed by the tomb of the daughter of Hasan, to which the Moslems tie rags, and at which they light candles. The boy was walking a little behind the rest, and when they came to this tomb, he saw a black dog coming from it, with two candles alight on its head. The boy began to cry, and ran after my grandmother, screaming, 'I am afraid of the dog that came out on me!' And all through the church service that night he was trembling and crying, and from that moment he was ill, for the fright descended into his legs, and three months afterwards he died. That tomb is 'dwelt-in' as every one knows. One evening my aunt was passing by it, and she saw a huge figure before her, like an enormously tall man. It was a tantal.1 She stepped to one side: it stepped also: she could not evade it, step where she might. So she began to say 'In the name of Allah,' and to pray, and it went. The prophets of the Moslems are often demons.2 1 2

See Preface, p. xi. The narrator of this story was a Christian.

XX IT WAS E N O U G H TO BEWILDER T H E LION! T h i s story was often told to show how, during the war, a big shaikh would be imprisoned by one person in authority, and released by the next, particularly when successive waves of troops invaded his territory.


HERE was once a seller of firewood who went into a wood to get sticks to sell for a livelihood. There, whom should he see but a lion. Said he to himself, 'If this lion comes here, he will eat me, and then what would my family do with no goodman to support them!' So, taking courage, he went to the lion and said, ' W h a t are you doing in my wood ?' T h e lion was so astonished at his impudence that he said, 'Your wood! Why, it is my wood, by my right as Lord of all Forests and King of Beasts.' T h e poor man said, 'This is my wood, where I come to pick up the firewood that I sell, and if you don't agree, we will fight the matter out.' 'Fight for it?' said the lion, more and more astonished. 'Why, what chance would you have against me ?' 'True,' said the man, 'you have your claws and teeth, while I have no weapons, but, if you will allow me, I will go to my house which is not far away, and get a hatchet.' ' H o , ho!' said the lion, 'and if I let you go, how do I know that you'll ever come back ?' Said the man, ' M y name is Fas-Fus, and the address of my house is this ' and he gave it. 'If I don't return, you can come to my house and eat me. But on the other hand, how do I know that you won't run away the instant my back is turned?' T h e lion was overwhelmed by his impudence. 'I, King of Beasts, run away from a poor thing like you ? W h y , so far am I from wishing to run away, that you may tie me up, if you wish!' Now this was exactly what the man wanted, so he tied the lion up securely and left him.


It was Enough to Bewilder the Lion!

There the lion would have stayed for ever had not a mouse come by and heard him roaring. T h e mouse stopped and asked him what was the matter, and the lion told him. 'That is easily put right,' said the mouse. 'I can nibble through the cords which bind you and set you free.' 'If you will,' said the lion, 'you and your family can claim the protection of the K i n g of Beasts for evermore.' So the mouse set to work, and nibbled at the cords until the lion was set free. It was just running off when the lion called to it. ' H o w shall I keep my promise if I do not know your name ?' ' M y name is Fsay-fis,' said the mouse, and off it went. Said the lion, ' A Fas-fus bound me and a Fsay-fis 1 (turkey) loosed me! There is something uncanny about this, and this wood is no place for me!' So saying, he bounded off and left the place for ever. 1 Fsay-fis is the diminutive of Fas-fus, i.e. 'Big Jack in office put me in jug, and Little Jack in office released me.'

XXI NURSERY R H Y M E S I Khashabati nudi nudi Salamili 'al jidudi Al jidud safaru V 1 Makka Labbasuni tob u ka'ka' Wal ka'ka' wein adhumha ? Adhumha batn es sanduq As Sanduq yarid miftah Wal miftah yarid haddad Wal haddad yartd fulits Wal fuliis 'and al 'arus Wal'arus batn al hammam Wal hammam yarid qand.il Wal qand.il tamus bil bir Wal bir yarid habl Wal habl yarid fattal Wal fattal yarid jamus Wal jamus yarid hashish Wal hashish yarid matar Wal matar 'and Allah ! An alternative version of the last eight lines: Wal habl fdq al jebel Wal jebel yarid hashish Wal hashish yarid matar Wal matar 'and Allah ! My little piece of wood, nod, nod! Salute my granddad and his dame, To Mecca they have gone away, And gave me dress and thread so gay, Ball of thread where shall I keep it? I will put it in the box And the box will need a key, 1

Contraction of ila.

Two Nursery Rhymes And the key will need a smith, And the locksmith wants some pay, Who will pay it? The bride may!1 But the bride is at the bath, And the bath must have a light And the candle's in the well! And the well needs a rope, But the rope must first be twisted, A buffalo the twister's needing, The buffalo needs grass for feeding, And the grass it needs some rain, And the rain comes from Allah. And And And And

the the the the

Alternative Version rope's upon the hill, hill needs grass, grass needs rain rain comes from Allah.

II 'Audi maghzal, farreyta, Jaw a shejer dhammeyta Ja khali, ma *anteytaz ' Ateyt lil fahl wan naga, Wan naga ma mirbuta Ilia bi qusaiyib khali Khali, ya bu seyyidiya Bahr al bahriya Tala 'at minha ibnaya Al bunaya ismha lbatta Wa tiVab bi kureysh al hanta. Ya rabbi ! ma tasa'adha ! Sa'ad bendt al jinjil Al jinjil bi ida risha Itarad 'alal gadisha, Gadishat 'ammi Salim Chetalat al awadim I have translated freely here to give a rhyme.

'anta, a local form of 'ata, to give.

A grass rope maker ( fattal),


Two Nursery "Rhymes 'Andi naja kurdiya Tuhlib huga wa hugiya Ja ad dib 'ar'arha Wa khallat tunga majftya !


I had a spindle, twisted it, Beneath a tree I put it, When uncle came, I refused it, To the she-camel I gave it, And the she-camel cannot be bound But by the twisted lock of my uncle, M y uncle, wearer of the green turban! 1 From the river Came out a little damsel And the damsel's name was 'Duck' And she played amidst the corn. (lit. in the belly of) 0 Lord, do not help her! Help the daughters of an anklet (i. e. those who wear anklets) In the hand (of one of them ?) a feather, The feather gallops on an old mule, The old mule of my uncle Salim, That old mule attacks people. 1 have a Kurdish ewe She gives me a hoqa 2 and a little hoqa of milk, There came the wolf and barked at her, And she left the dish upside down. 1

A Seyyid, a descendant of the Prophet.




hoqa = about 2 lb.




H E R E was once a man and woman who had been married for some years, and Allah had given them no child. One day the woman was sitting with her friends, and she began to speak of her misfortune, saying, 'I do not know what I can do!' One woman asked her, 'Have you taken medicine ?' She answered, 'Aye, I have drunk medicine, but it was no good.' Another said, 'There is a way, and I will tell you what you must do. Buy a bitter orange, 1 bring it to the house, but do not let your husband see it, go into your room and eat it, and you will have a child!' The childless woman thought that she would try this, so she went into the suq, and bought a bitter orange, and returned to the house with it, hiding it beneath her 'aba. 1 Her husband met her and said, 'What are you carrying beneath your 'aba?' She denied, saying, 'No, I am carrying nothing!' Then he came to her, and took the orange from her by force. She said, 'Do not take this orange from me, for if you do, you will become pregnant, and I shall chase you out of the house!' H e laughed and said, 'How can that be true!' and purposely he seized it and ate it before her. After that, month by month, his belly grew bigger and bigger and the woman was ashamed and angry and would not speak to him. When the ninth month was complete, and his pains began to come upon him, she opened the door of the house, and put him outside. H e walked and walked, in the desert, and at last he sank down exhausted, and, his pains reaching their climax, he brought a daughter into the world. As soon as he was able, he took a piece of paper, wrote 1

See p. i, note.

The Bitter Orange


upon it all that had happened, tied it to the arm of the baby, and went away. A s for the girl-baby, Allah sent her a she-gazelle, which nourished her from her teats, and a falcon which hovered above her head and shielded her from the sun, and so she lived in the desert. One day the Sultan's son was riding to hunt in the desert, and he saw in the distance something which glittered in the sun. H e cried to his slaves, 'What is that yonder which glitters? Go and fetch it!' They went, and on the ground they saw a little girl, sweet, sweet! as dazzling as the sun in beauty. They wrapped her up in an 'aba and brought her to the Sultan's son. The prince was delighted at her beauty and read the paper tied to her arm, and knew from it her story. H e set the child before him on his mare and returned to his house, and said to his mother, ' M y mother, I have brought you a lovely girl for you to bring her up like your own daughter.' The mother brought her up, and when the girl was grown marriage-ripe, the prince took her for his wife. H e loved the girl madly, and could not bear to be parted from her one moment. Now there was a great resemblance between the foundling girl and her mother-in-law; in fact, the one was the mirror of the other, for the hair of both was golden, and their faces were so much alike that it was difficult to tell one from the other. One day there was a war, and the prince was obliged to go and fight. H e asked his mother to take care of his bride (hallahalla biha) and bade them both farewell and went. Now the mother-in-law was jealous of the girl, and began to torment her, beating her from morn to eve, and giving her no food to eat. The girl wept, but her mother-in-law said to herself, 'Maku chara ! There is no way out of it! M y son has gone to the wars—who knows if he will ever come back? W h y should I keep this girl longer in the house ?'


The Bitter Orange

So one day, she seized her, and pushed her out into the road. The girl roamed about in despair, not knowing what to do. In her distress, she lifted her head and said to the Lord of All things, ' M y Lord! M y Master, help me! Build me a house in this wilderness such as there is not in this world, and in the garden fruit-trees which shall bear fruit in winter-time as in summer-time.' And Allah, of his mercy, built for the girl a house as she had asked, in the middle of the wilderness, and the key was beside her. She rose, and took the key, opened the gate, and went into the house. When she looked from the windows of the house, what a garden she saw—of all the gardens Allah has created this garden was the finest! Every fruit grew in it, and blossom and fruit came together, for there was no season of winter in that garden. But in spite of this, the girl was not happy, for she loved her husband dearly, and longed for his presence. Day and night she wept for him and prayed for his return. Now the war was over, and the Sultan's son returned from the war, and went to his house. His mother was frightened lest he should find out what she had done, so she pretended to be his wife. When he asked her, 'Where is my mother?' she answered, 'She is dead! and come to her end.' Now the mother became pregnant from her son. She was ashamed and displeased at what had happened, but there was no way out, for she knew that if he learnt what she had done to his true bride, he would kill her. One day she went on to the roof and in the desert outside the city she saw a garden, and in it a vine in full fruit, although it was winter, and snow lay on the ground. She came down from the roof and went to where her son was sitting, and said, 'I want some grapes, go and bring me some.' Said he, 'It is winter, where shall I find grapes!' Said she, 'But I have seen some in a neighbour's garden.'

The Bitter Orange


Said he, 'How can that be, with snow on the ground ?' Said she, 'But there are grapes growing: I saw them with my own eyes from the roof.' Then the Sultan's son called his slave and said, 'Diamond, go to the house of our neighbour, and say from your mistress: "O our lady, give us a bunch of grapes to satisfy our whim! {wahima)".' The slave went, and knocked at the door of the girl's house, and from within the girl answered, 'I am Bitter Orange, daughter of a Bitter Orange. M y mother bought me, and my father became pregnant of me. And the she-gazelle suckled me, And the falcon hovered above me. The Sultan's son has begotten a child on his mother, Does her longing remain ? Go! I have no grapes!' The slave returned and repeated to his master the words that he had heard. The Sultan's son began to ponder, and to understand. Then he went himself to the house, and knocked at the door, saying, 'O lady, give us a bunch of grapes to satisfy our whim!' The girl replied in the same words, and her husband cried, 'What is this! Come down and open the door!' The girl came down, and he saw that she was his bride. He bade her tell to him all that had happened, and she related everything. Then he returned and sought his mother, and said to her, 'Woman, where is my mother ?' She replied, 'She is dead.' Said he, 'Where is her tomb ?' Answered she, 'In such and such a place.' Said he, 'Take me to it.' The woman was confused, and wherever they went there was no tomb, and she said, 'I forgot! It is not here, it is elsewhere.'


The Bitter Orange

At last he seized her and said, 'You have lied! Tell me the truth!' and she was forced to tell him all. Then he went and brought a tin of naphtha and poured it over her and set her alight, and she was burnt up. But his own wife came back to him.

XXIII A TALE TOLD BY A S H A M M A R TRIBESMAN I could not get the Shammar women to tell stories of the supernatural: they were frightened to talk about spirits, they confessed, saying: 'If you tell stories of the Jinn in the daytime, they will plague you by night.' T h e following was told to satisfy my whim, but not willingly.

B There was once a man called Muhammad, and he ISMILLAH!1

was riding with three companions in a ship on the Euphrates. In the night he awoke and perceived above him two eyes like two lanterns, like fire! Then they lifted, and disappeared. The second and third night it was the same, and on the fourth he sat and watched with a gun in his hand. When the eyes descended upon him, he shot at them, and it was a spirit in the shape of a bird, which he killed. In time the ship arrived at the place to which it was bound, and Muhammad descended from it and met some sheep and with them a shepherd. The shepherd invited him to sleep with him that night. He told him that every night a seir2 (ogre) with one eye came and ate his sheep. Muhammad sat with him, and by witchcraft he prevented the ogre from eating the sheep. The ogre was angry and the next night he seized Muhammad and said, 'I shall eat you!' Muhammad waited until the fire was hot that was to roast his flesh, and then, while the ogre was asleep, he heated a bar of iron and planted it in his one eye, and so escaped. One day there came to him a tribesman, and said, 'You must marry my daughter, and live in our house. But if she dies first and you survive her, I shall put you into the well, and if you die first and she survives you, I shall put her into the well.' Muhammad said, 'Good,' and he married the girl. A 1


This invocation was for keeping off evil spirits, who come if they are spoken 2 See Preface, p. xiii.

io4 Tale told by a Shammar Tribesman little afterwards she died, and the father put her corpse and the living body of Muhammad in the well. Beneath, in the well, he met a maiden who dwelt in the well.1 She said to him, 'Are you Muhammad?' H e answered, 'Aye, I am Muhammad.' She said, 'In the night a fox will come from this hole in the side of the well, and will eat of the corpses which lie here. When he comes, seize his tail.' It was as she had said. In the night, a fox came to eat of the dead body. Muhammad seized his tail, and the fox fled into the hole and came out the other end into the world again. 1

The spirit of the well. See p. 11, The Story of Three Little Mice.


W e had been talking of men who had disappeared with the fairies, and one of the men present in the tent said: «AYE, one of us did enter the ground, in the cemetery .¿\belonging to Ibn Rashld in Hail. It was about six of the evening (i.e. midnight) and he was coming out of the house of a friend whom he had been visiting. H e met an old man with immensely long beard and whiskers, who stopped him and said, "Greeting, MarhabaO youth, greeting, O boy, greeting, O old man!" This he said three times. The man did not understand what he meant by this speech, and was astonished. The old man then said, "Come and drink coffee with us," and he sank into the ground and the Shammari with him, and into the country of the jann. From what he saw there he fell unconscious, and he woke in his own bed with his own people, but was ill for a long time afterwards. H e said that the jann below the ground had eyes set in their faces vertically, not like ours horizontally.' Another man said, 'A Shammari youth, as it was told me, was going his way on a camel one day, when he met a beautiful jinnlya, alone, in the chol. She was lovely, of great beauty. She spoke to him and said, "Nta, min ein ent? You, from whence are you?" H e answered her, "I am a Shammari." She said, "Where are your people?" Said he, "In Najd. And you, where are your people?" Said she, "I, too, am a Shammarlya." Said he, "Why are you walking afoot?" Said she, "I was on a camel, but it broke its leg in the desert and died." Said he, "Whither are you going?" Said she, "I am going to buy some things for my people in such and such a village. Take me on your camel." 1 A form of greeting often used between a Moslem and a person of another faith.



106 Shammar Stories 'The youth took her up with him on his camel, and they rode together for the rest of that day. When night came, they spent it in the desert, and she cooked him bread and they supped, and then slept on the ground, with the camel between them. In the night they were afraid of robbers, for the place was lonely, and she sank into the earth and he with her. The girl told him that she was a jinniya, and said that she would stay with him for five years. Said she, "I shall be constantly beside you wherever you go. Should you wish to [be alone for reasons of modesty], only say 'In the name of Allah', and I will leave you! If you wish to wash yourself or change your clothes or desire privacy for other reasons, say 'BismillahY and I will go." 'So it was, and when the youth wished for modesty's sake to be alone, he said, "Bismillati\ and she left him. However, when he slept, he forgot to say "Bismillati\ and she came to him and said, "Now you must either marry me or die, for I have been with you in bed." 'The youth said, "I am your guest! Mercy! M y mother has none but me, I am the only support of the family." 'The jinniya said, "Never, never! I have got you, I shall keep you!" 'Said he, "I accept." 'Then she married him, and kept him in a room which was always locked, so that none of the jann her people should know that she had a human husband. 'Now her father loved her very much, and she was so beautiful that all the jann were asking for her in marriage. 'She refused them all, and one day she said to her father, " O my father, I wish to marry one that I know." 'Her father said, "Who is he? What is his name?" 'She answered, "One that I have seen and loved." 'Said her father, " O my daughter, from which family of jann does he come?" 'She answered, " H e is no jinni, he is a son of Adam, and I have given him my protection." Then she told him about the Shammari, and her father forgave her, and went

T h e great tent of Shaikh ' Ajll al Yawir. T h e further half is the reception tent ( m u d h i f ) , the nearer is the women's quarters

Shammar Tribesmen

Shammar Storks


and made the espousals, and she took the youth as her husband openly. 'The Shammari loved her and cherished her, and after a time she bore him a son. Ten years they lived together, and at the end of that time she died, leaving several children. Her father then brought him from out the country of the jann, expelling him from their company, and forced him to leave his children behind him. The Shammari returned to his people, and lived for ten years more before he died himself.'


This story was told out of complaisance, because the shaikh had ordered that stories should be told. It is of the stuff that lies are made of, but is amusing as showing the rough material out of which folk-lore is made. T h e teller was literate, and acted as agent for the tribe in Mosul. He had accompanied the shaikh to the desert from Mosul. T h e tribesmen present listened open-mouthed and believed every word.


years I lived in Najd, and whilst there I saw and talked with a jinnlya, wallah, she put her hand on my shoulder! One night I came out of the house of Ibn Rashid in Hall, and was returning to my own house, a distance of about fifteen minutes. I saw in the light of the full moon a girl sitting by the way. She was very beautiful, more beautiful than any daughter of woman, and wore silken garments, with bracelets, anklets, gold rings, and on her shoulders was a shaikh's white 'aba, 2 like the rays of the moon. She rose, and followed in my footsteps, and spoke to me, and said, 'Peace upon you, 0 Salih!' by name, as if she had been my friend for years. I said to her, 'Of what district are you?' She replied, 'I am from the village of Nasiya, near Ibn Rashid's property, about two hours' distance away. I am your guest.' I answered her, lAhlan u sahlan—You are welcome!' out of hospitality.3 We walked together, and I said to her, 'O woman, 1 have fear for your reputation and for mine. Walk at a distance of two minutes behind me to the house.' And she said, ' L a has I It doesn't matter! It is night, who will see us ?' and it was indeed nine and a half hours of the night. In my hand there was a sword, 4 and we walked WENTY-FIVE

1 3 4

2 See Preface, p. xii. See p. i. bi dheyf. An honourable necessity, if a stranger proclaims himself a guest. This was a protection against jinn.

Shammar Stories


shoulder to shoulder, but after a little she put her hand on my shoulder, with her arm behind my head. Her hand was as soft and light as cotton and she smelt sweet of flowers and sandalwood. Said I to her, 'O girl, take your hand from my shoulder!' I was afraid that some one would see, for I was invited that night to an assembly of friends, and they were waiting for me in a garden, and if they had seen, they would have thought shame and ill about me. So she took off her hand, and we walked for about two minutes thus. Then I saw one of my friends waiting for me in the road, and I said to her, 'O woman, go behind me, for a man is waiting for me in the road, and I fear he will see you!' She walked behind me for three minutes. My friend came, and wished me peace, and said, 'Come, enter, all your friends are waiting for you.' I said, 'I am going to my house, I will change my clothes first, and then come.' M y house was at a short distance from that of my friend. When I entered it, I saw that the woman was walking in my footsteps, behind me. M y friend saw her and tried to seize her, but she sank into the earth, calling out, 'O Salih! O Salih!' My friend cried to me, 'The woman who was following you was of the jannl' I said to him, 'It is not true: the woman is from above the earth, no jinnlya!' H e said, 'By Allah, she was a jinnlya!' And he brought the lantern into the shade in which she had disappeared, and moved it over the spot where she had sunk into the ground, and there, on the spot, was a piece of (gourd1), white, smooth and without dust. I was troubled, and felt sick and afraid because she had put her hand on my shoulder. As for my friend, who had tried to seize her, he became so ill that he nearly died. After that, she used to come to me in the night, when 1

I cannot read the word I took down here. It might be gourd.

Shammar Stories I IO I was sleeping in bed: she came to me in dreams. One night she came to me, and I rose, and went to the roof, upon which my wife and children were sleeping. The jinnlya followed me, and said, 'I want coffee and tea!' I said, lAna mamnunl I am grateful' (to do you this favour) and I went and made her tea and coffee. She drank two cups. In the end, she asked me to take her into my bed. It was five hours of the night, and my wife, hearing voices, came down from the roof where she was, and came upon us in the place of coffee. But there was only myself present, for the jinnlya disappeared. M y wife said, 'Who was with you ?' I said, 'No one was with me.' Said she, lAl asbab! But there are causes! Why are you awake and drinking coffee!' Said I, 'I could not sleep, so I rose and made coffee.' Said she, 'But there were noises and voices, people were here.' Said I, 'Never! No one was with me!' The next night she came again, and I was sleeping with my wife. The jinnlya stood by my side, and said to me, 'Your friend is ill, and it is I who caused his illness. Why did he try to seize me and touch my clothes—I—who am daughter of the shaikhs of the Jann? I have come back to you so that you may hear that I have not cursed him without cause. Now I will tell you how to cure him. Take water, spit into it, and give your friend that water to drink, and he will be cured, and his sickness will depart from him.' Then it was near dawn, and as soon as the light appeared the jinnlya departed. This was the second night. The third night she came to me as I was asleep, and put her arm round me as I lay in bed. I was afraid, and very afraid for my wife, who was in the room and wakened, and saw her. As soon as she saw her, the jinnlya disappeared, and my wife left her bed and came and slept beside me till morning. M y friends came in the morning, and I told them what had happened. They said to me, 'Let her become your

T h e w o m e n ' s quarters in a Shammar shaikh's tent

Shammari Stories


friend, because she will give you money and you will be a rich man.' I answered them, 'I don't want her or her friendship because I am afraid of her.' M y maternal uncle is an 'alim, who knows how to exorcise evil spirits, so I went to him, and told him the whole story from the beginning to the end, and asked him to come to my house and read (a spell) so that she could not return to me. H e brought his books and read (spells aloud), and assembled all the sultans of the Jann. H e said, 'Fulan Fulana (Thou So-and-so) daughter of Fulana (So-and-so), do not come to torment Salih, or I shall injure you sorely,' and conjured her, that she should come no more, by the power of the spirits he had raised. All this he said beneath the carpet 1 and she never returned to me from that hour. 1 Beneath the carpet. People who speak to the Jann, often lift a corner of the carpet, and put their mouths near the ground: the Jann being supposed to inhabit the underworld.




This story was told in good faith, and was corroborated by several of the tribesmen, whose money had been given to the man who pretended to talk with Nejma.


HERE was once a wood-cutter who lived near Damascus, and one day, when he was out cutting thorn, he met a beautiful woman who cried to him, lAl aman, al aman! Mercy! Save me from the wolf, and I will enrich you!' H e had a gun with him, and he shot the wolf 1 who was following her. She was a jinniya, and she was afraid the wolf would eat her, because all children of the jann are unable to disappear into the earth if they see a wolf. The jinniya said to him, 'Go back to your house—do not take your thorn. M y name is Nejma (Star) and each night I shall put under your pillow five golden pounds. Secondly, if any one steals your money or your clothes, I will tell you his name and where to find him. And, thirdly, I will give you a secret word, by the power of which, if you have friends who are guests in your house, 1 Wolf. The wolf is the one animal of which the jinn are afraid, because, when he is present, they are unable to sink into the earth, and so fall a prey to his teeth and claws. A Shammarlya woman lulls her child to sleep at night with the chant, Bismillah In the name of Allah Ism adh dhxb T h e wolf's name Al khotib T h e invoked one 'Ala galbak! Upon your heart! and thinks that thus she frightens off evil spirits. His teeth prevent coughing, and teeth and claws are worn by girls as charms, or are hung up in house or tent to keep out evil. A wolf's eye, dried and carried on the person, protects a man against surprise in sleep by an enemy or the law. The origin of talismanic stones is thought to be this. A wolf coming one day upon a company of jinnlyat, they were able by sorcery to escape from him by turning themselves into stones of a semi-precious description. These stones took on the magic qualities of the jinnlyat, each having special powers, e. g. soapstone prevents heart sickness, haematite gives the wearer power, and so forth. Of all living creatures, the wolf will be the last to die, say the Arabs, at the end of the world.

Shammar Stories


you will be able to see their loved ones however far distant they are, and tell them what they are doing, and how they are.' T h e thorn-seller did not believe her, and took his thorn, and went back to Damascus, sold it as usual, and bought food for his family. W h e n he had eaten, he slept on his bed, and in the morning, when he rose and lifted his pillow, there were five golden liras beneath it, and he knew that Nejma's words were true. I visited this man when I went to Damascus, and paid him ten lirat, and he talked under the carpet, 1 wiss-wisswiss—with Nejma, and told me that my people were with Ibn Rashld's people, and that my father was well, and my brother a little sick but that he would be cured, and wallah, it was true. O n e or t w o o f the other tribesmen corroborated this, and said they had visited N e j m a ' s friend in Damascus w h e n they were there, and had paid him money for news o f their respective families. 1


See p .


h i .

XXVII HAJIR T H E R E was once a fair woman. In her prime she was fairer than the full moon and her fame was great amongst all lands. H e r father married her to a rich man and in time she bore him a daughter. The name of this daughter was Hajir, and as she grew up, she became so beautiful that her mother became jealous of her. At night, when the moon swam in the sky, the woman asked it, Ya Qamrl Minu al helu ? Enta, Id ani, Id Hajir Khan ? ' O Moon! W h o is the fairest? Thou, or I, or the Lady Hajir ?' Answered the moon, as it passed like a silver ship across the roof-top, Ana weitt, enti wein ? Hajir Khan ahla minech wa minni ! 'Where am I, and where art thou ? The Lady Hajir is fairer than thee and fairer than me!' The woman was enraged by the moon's answer, for she wished to be lovelier than her daughter. She had an old maidservant who was devoted to her, and she called her and said to her, 'To-morrow, take Hajir Khan to the wilds, and lose her there. Return alone.' The next day, the maidservant took Hajir away into the hills, where there were many rocks and caverns. Giving a pretext, she left the child alone in a wild place, never doubting but that Hajir would be devoured by the wolves that lived in the rocks. Then she returned alone to her mistress and told her that by now the girl must have perished. Now when the servant had forsaken her, Hajir ran



about the rocks, and towards nightfall, seeing a large cavern, she entered it and was surprised to find that it was not like the other caverns, but was furnished with carpets, bedding, and everything necessary to a house. 'Some one must live here,' said Hajir to herself, and she hid in a corner where she would not be seen. As the sun set, there entered the cavern seven 'afarlt, who seated themselves and began to eat and drink. When they had finished, they rose up and went out. Hajir came out of her hiding-place, and when she had eaten, she began to sweep and clean the place, and finding some dirty clothes, she washed them in a stream nearby, and mended them neatly. The next morning the 'afarlt returned, and were very astonished at seeing the cavern so neat and clean. 'Who has been here? Who has done us this kindness?' they asked. In the day they slept, but towards the afternoon they went out for food, and on returning, ate as before. Said they amongst themselves, 'To-night we will leave one of our number behind in the cave, so that if any one comes, he will see him.' So when they went out, one 'afrit stayed behind. Hajir did not come from her hiding-place until she saw that he was asleep. Then she swept and cleaned the cave, washing the dishes and setting everything in order as on the previous night. When the 'afarlt came back they asked the 'afrit they had left behind who had done the cleaning, and he replied, 'I saw no one!' The next night another 'afrit stayed behind, and it happened with him as it had happened with the first. So it was for seven nights, a different 'afrit watching each night, and each night falling asleep. On the eighth night it was the turn of the first 'afrit again, and he resolved that this time he would pretend to sleep. So after a little he feigned sleep, and when he saw Hajir he leapt up and seized her. She was afraid, but he told her that he did not wish to harm her, but to thank her. When his brothers came back, they were delighted to see Hajir, and asked her to stay with them always and be their house-mother, while, for their part, they would serve her and do everything to please her. 'We will be your brothers,' they said

116 Hajir to her, and Hajir agreed to their proposal. So for some time they lived happily together. Now when the moon was again full, Hajir's mother, believing that her daughter was dead, went on to the roof and asked the moon as it gazed on the house, Ta Qamr! Minu al helu ? Enta, Id ani, Id Hajir Khan ? 'O Moon! Who is the fairest ? Thou, or I, or the Lady Hajir ?' Answered the moon, Ana wein, enti wein ? Hajir Khan ahla minech wa minni Waad. ha ikhwan sab'a. 'Where am I, and where art thou ? Lady Hajir is fairer than me and than thee, And she has brothers seven.' When she heard the moon's reply, the mother wept and was troubled, and she sent for the old woman, her servant, to reproach her, saying that the girl was still living. Said she—'I have prepared some chewing-resin.1 M y daughter loves to eat of it, but when she eats this resin of mine she will die, for it is poisoned. Do not return until the girl is dead.' The maidservant disguised herself and went to the place where she had left the girl, and before long she found the cavern where Hajir lived with the seven 'afarlt. When she saw Hajir there, the old woman began to cry 1 Alech zein! Alech zein! Good resin for sale!' Hajir came to her, and said to her, 'I want some 'alech, give me some.' The pretended pedlar gave her the resin, and took payment for it, then hid herself. As soon as Hajir had put the resin in her mouth, she fell down unconscious, as if 1 Chewing gum to prevent thirst has been customary in Arab countries for centuries; it is not an American invention.

Hajir 117 she were dead. The old woman hastened back to her mistress and told her, 'Hajir Khan is dead. I saw her fall with my own eyes.' Then the mother rejoiced. When the 'afarlt returned and found Hajir lying on the ground, they were much distressed. They touched her head, her hands, and her feet, and said to each other, 'Hajir is dead! W e must bury her.' Said one of them, 'Hajir is fair, let us not cover her face with dust, but wrap her in reed matting, 1 and put her on the top of the mountain.' The rest agreed, and did as he had said, and with much sorrow they left her on the mountain. Now, shortly after this, there passed that way the Sultan's son in the course of his hunting, and when he saw the girl's body, he was amazed at her beauty and ordered his followers that they should take her up and bear her to his city. When they reached the city, the young prince sent for a skilled physician and ordered him to examine the body. The physician did so and reported that the pulse was still beating and that, with the help of Allah, the girl could be restored. This indeed happened, and as the Sultan's son loved her like one mad, he married her and set her in a fine house. Meantime the mother, when it was time for the full moon to appear, went to the roof and asked it the same question. Said the moon in answer: Ana wein, end wein ? Hajir Khan zdjat ibn es Sultan Ahla minech u minni I 'Where am I, and where art thou ? Lady Hajir is wife of the Sultan's son, And is fairer than thee and me!' At that, the mother became ill from her spite, and died, and that was the end of her. Now after some months Hajir Khan bore the Sultan's son a boy, and the child grew and became a fine lad. One 1 In early times in 'Iraq the dead were wrapped in matting. Many of the Sumerian graves opened at Ur revealed that the bodies had been so buried.

118 Hajir day the boy was playing with some companions in the road at knuckle-bones 1 and during the game the princeling began to quarrel with his companions. The boys began to mock him, and sang in derision, Ibn ash shaqtal 'Son of a No-one-knows-who! Ibn al laqtal Foundling's son!' At that the boy ran crying to his mother, and told her of his companions' taunt. She comforted him and said, 'Next time they say that, say you to them: Tug, ya chcCb, tug! Wa khalna seb'a U ummna bein hum neb'a. "Crack, knuckle-bone, crack! Our uncles are seven And our mother bloomed amongst them." ' Now one of the 'afarlt, flying over the town, passed by the boys at their play, and hearing Hajir's son saying this, he marked his beauty and resemblance to their lost sister. H e alighted, and approaching the children, said to the princeling, 'Go and fetch me water, I am thirsty!' The boy answered, 'Come with me, I will give you to drink,' and took him to his mother's house. When they arrived, he ran to his mother, and said, 'A stranger is here asking for water: he is thirsty.' Hajir sent the child down with a cup of water, and the 'afrit hearing her voice was now certain that it was indeed their sister. So when he had drunk the water, he drew a ring off his finger and dropped it into the cup, saying, 'Take that to your mother, boy!' The child did as he was told, and Hajir, seeing it, recognized it as a ring belonging to the 'afrit, and came gladly to welcome him and to tell him of all that had happened to her. The 'afrit listened and rejoiced in her happiness, and when she had finished, said to her, 'Remember, Hajir, we are your seven brothers and ready at all times to do your bidding. If you are in sorrow, 1

Knuckle-bones is a favourite game amongst the urchins of Baghdad.



we will come to you, and if your husband quarrels with you, or forsakes you, you shall return to us.' Hajir thanked him and the 'afrit went back to tell the good news to his six brothers, while she remained to live a long and happy life. This is the end of the story of Hajir Khan. Wa lo baitna qarib, Kunt ajib likum tubaq hummus wa tubaq zebib !

'And were our house near, I'd bring you a plate of pease and raisins!'




N ancient times there was an old man who was very poor, and who lived in a village at some distance from Mosul. All his life he had worked and nothing had prospered; indeed, he and his wife were often forced to beg. T o add to his misery, his wife was a very Shaitan, whose tongue afflicted him from morning to night. For his misfortunes she had nothing but railing, and for his poverty she did nothing but upbraid him. One day it happened that they had nothing in the house to eat or to sell, and as soon as the day dawned, she began to scold and abuse him. 'Here we are starving, and you look for no work! Never was a woman cursed with such a vagabond as you!' By her stinging words she forced him to rise and go out to seek employment, and he went from one place to another, but no man would employ him, for the harvest was over and work was scant. So, not knowing where else to go, he seated himself by the roadside in heaviness of spirit, and thought how sorely his wife would use him when he came back with nothing more in his pocket than a morsel of bread which a charitable soul had given him. It was then full noon, and as he sat he watched the wheelmarks and foot-marks that flowed away over the hill like a stream, for the road led to Mosul. 'Mosul is a fair city,' said he, his thoughts following the track, 'and if Allah so willed it, it might be that wealth and fortune would await me, if my wife and I set out thither.' And then he considered, and reflecting that even with wealth his life would be a burden if she continued to plague him, he changed his thought, and said, 'Why should I not journey alone to Mosul ?' And his heart grew light, and, drawing the bread from his pocket, he rose up and set off upon the road, eating as he went. H e walked until the sun was nearing the horizon, and then, seeing a well and a shady tree by the wayside, he

The Woman oj the Well


turned aside, and after he had refreshed his thirst, he seated himself on the edge of the well to rest. H e had rested but a little while when he saw on the brow of the hill a cloud of dust. It came nearer and nearer, and then he saw that it was caused by a woman, moving swiftly, and his heart became water within him, for he knew that it was his wife who had followed him. As soon as she was within hearing, she began to scream and abuse him for deserting her, calling him a dog and the son of a dog, the child of iniquity, an eater of filth, and a doer of evil. H e answered nothing, for his conscience accused him, and they sat together on the edge of the well, she reviling and he listening, until, losing patience, he struck her with his elbow and she fell into the well below. Rising affrighted, he went again on his way, regardless of her screams, and after he had gone an hour or two his mind began to rest, and he thought that after all, what had happened was ordained, and that now, by the favour of Heaven, he was a free man. It was sunset, and he stopped to prepare himself for prayer by the wayside. But as he turned, lo, in the distance he saw a cloud of dust. It came nearer and nearer and his heart turned to water within him. But when he could perceive clearly who was approaching, he saw that it was not his wife, but a jinni, who approached him with angry looks and said, 'I am come to slay thee!' The old man fell on his knees and said, 'What have I done to you, O Amir of the Jinn, that you should require my life ? Give me but time to say my prayers, and tell me the reason of your anger.' 'Have I not reason for anger?' said the jinni. 'For forty years I have slumbered peacefully in my well, and this day you have cast into it a woman whose tongue is a plague and her screaming like the screaming of peacocks.' 'O Amir of the Jinn,' said the old man, 'for forty years you have had peace and quietness and for only two hours a woman's tongue. But what of my unhappy lot? For forty years I have had my woman's tongue, and but 3800 R

122 The Woman of the Well two hours have I had peace and quietness. Consider and be merciful!' 'Your lot has indeed been hard,' said the jinni, 'but what of the woman in my well ?' 'O Amir of the Jinn, leave her in the well and travel the world with me.' The jinni was pleased with the words of the old man, and travelled with him until they got to Mosul, where they entered a khan and ordered the best that could be provided for them. 'I will pay,' said the jinni, and the next day he took a large house with many servants, male and female, where he and the old man lived together, entertaining the notables and rich people of the town and spending much money in pleasure and hospitality. But this life did not suit the jinni, who began to thirst after mischief, and after awhile he said to the old man, 'If I continue to live with you, I shall do you a harm. Better is it that we part now.' 'Alas! Without money what shall I do?' asked the old man. 'I will tell you how to win fame and fortune,' said the jinni. 'It is my fancy to enter folk and make them mad, and when I leave you, I shall enter into the daughter of the grand wazlr of Baghdad. H e will reward highly the man who can cure the possessed girl, and that man will be yourself.' 'But how shall I cure her?' 'I will tell you upon one condition—that you do not again employ exorcism against me. If you do, I will enter into you and never leave you, but keep you in torment.' And with that he taught the old man the exorcism. Thereafter he disappeared, and the old man left Mosul and travelled to Baghdad. Shortly after he had taken up his abode in the city, he heard the news that the grand wazlr's daughter was grievously ill; that a jinni had entered into her and was tormenting her with all the pains of hell. And he went to the grand wazir's house and asked to see him, saying that he was a skilled physician with special skill in curing those possessed.

The Woman of the Well


The wazir received him with honour and asked him if indeed he could cure his daughter. The old man said, 'Sir, I can cure her, but not without reward.' 'What is your price ?' asked the wazir. 'Name it, and I will pay it though it be large.' The old man answered, 'My price is two thousand dinars.' When he heard the exorbitance of the sum, the wazir was angry. 'This is indeed beyond reason,' said he. 'Are there no physicians in Baghdad beside you ?' And he sent him away. But day by day his daughter's malady increased, and all the doctors and exorcists of the town tried their skill upon her in vain. She was conducted to the shrine of Abdul Qader al Gilani and left there for three days and nights, she was chained to the grill at the tomb of the two Kadhims for yet another such period, the Quran was read over her, she was anointed by magic balms and salves, and she was beaten to the point of death, but all was useless. Then the old man went again to the wazir and told him that he was able to cure his daughter. 'Cure her,' cried the wazir, 'and I will pay thy price, even the two thousand dinars.' 'Sir,' said the old man, 'my price has increased. It is now the half of thy possessions.' Then the wazir was enraged and swore that he would not give it. H e said, 'This day comes a wise man from Al Hind, and if God wills, he will cure her.' 'If God wills,' said the old man, and he went out. But the wise man from Al Hind was not able to cure the wazlr's daughter. Then the wazir sent for the old man and said to him: 'O, old man, cure my daughter, and I will give thee half I possess.' 'Sir,' said the old man, 'my price has increased. It is now the half thy possessions and the hand of thy daughter.' 'Take what thou askest if the cure be perfect, or thou wilt leave me nothing. But if there is no cure, look to it, for I will order my servants to beat thee soundly.'

124 The Woman of the Well 'Fear not,' said the old man, and they took him to the room where the wazlr's daughter, a very pearl of beauty, was bound down with ropes and bonds. When he was left alone with her, he pronounced the word of power which the jinni had taught him, and with a loud scream the evil spirit departed from her. The maiden blushed at coming to herself and finding that she was alone with a man, but when she knew that he was her deliverer and promised husband, she greeted him with kindness and permitted him to loose her bonds. Then they went to her father, who was overjoyed at her recovery. So there were marriage rejoicings for seven days and seven nights, and the old man renewed his youth in his beautiful bride, and lived happily with her for a period of three months. At the end of that time, there came to the old man as he was sitting in the harem with his wife, a message from his father-in-law, bidding him come at once to his house. H e went, and the wazlr, greeting him affectionately, said to him, 'The Commander of the Faithful has ordered me to bring thee to the palace without delay; the cause being the illness of his favourite daughter, who is possessed by a terrible jinni.' The old man was much alarmed, for he suspected that the jinni who had taken possession of the princess was the jinni of the well. H e began to excuse himself from accompanying the wazlr, but the wazlr would not hear him, and insisted that they must obey the commands of the Khalifa. When they had arrived in the presence of the Khalifa, the old man kissed the ground, and when he received the order to visit the princess, he said, 'O Commander of the Faithful, I am the least of thy slaves, and my knowledge of healing is insignificant. Send for thy physicians and let them heal the princess, for are they not skilled men and worthier than I!' 'The Khalifa frowned, and said, 'What is this? and why art thou unwilling to exercise upon my daughter the skill which thou has proven upon the family of my wazlr ?'

The Woman of the Well 125 And the old man said, 'Not from unwillingness, but from incapacity, O Commander of the Faithful.' 'Thou liest!' cried the Khalifa. 'Does not all Baghdad know thee for a skilled exorcist, for didst thou not succeed in expelling a demon from the daughter of my wazlr when all else had failed and every physician in the kingdom had tried their craft in vain? Why these evasions and excuses ? Cure my daughter, or by Allah, I will hand thee over to the executioner to meet a death befitting such reluctance to serve thy sovereign.' And he ordered his attendants to take the old man to the apartments of the princess and to strike off his head if he either attempted escape or failed in his exorcism. As the old man was conducted through the palace towards the women's quarters, he beat his breast and wept bitterly. 'Alas, woe is me! What man can escape from his fate ? It is the destiny of one to be born to sorrow and another to fortune. I have now but the choice between a miserable death and a life of torture.' So complaining, he was led to the apartment of the princess, who lay upon her bed exhausted and like one beaten. As he gazed upon her, with the hand of the executioner on his shoulder, he thought upon the bride he had just left, and upon all the deceptions and disappointments of his life, beginning with his first marriage. And suddenly he bit on his hand, and cried, 'What an owl am I!' and hope, which a moment before had flown from him, returned to his breast. Boldly approaching the princess, he pronounced the word of power. In a moment the evil jinni leapt from her body, and appearing to the old man in a frightful aspect he laid hold of him crying, 'Thou old fool! what did I tell thee! Now I shall enter into thy body and torment thee until the end of thy life!' 'O Amir of the Jinn,' answered the old man, 'one torment is not worse than the other. Enter into my miserable body—but know that my wife has escaped from the well and is even now waiting without for me.'

12 6 The Woman of the Well 'What!' shrieked the jinni. 'Live beside thy wife and listen to her revilings? Never, never!' And with a loud cry he flew to the window and leapt from it into the air and was never seen or heard of in those parts afterwards. And this is the end of the story of the Woman of the Well.




HERE was once a Sultan in this land, and in the town in which he dwelt there was a clever thief. H e stole from the houses of the citizens during the night, and none knew how he entered or how he departed. Each night a fresh house was robbed, and at last the townspeople went to the Sultan and said, 'We have a complaint to make to your Majesty. There is a robber who steals from our houses by night. We know not by what door he enters, or how he leaves, but night by night it is the same, he steals first from one and then another.' The Sultan promised that he would look to the matter, and he ordered the police to be vigilant, and set guards everywhere, but it was the same as before, and every night this thief enriched himself at the expense of the townsfolk. One day the Sultan sat in his diwan, when a writing fell from the ceiling, on the table before him. H e looked but there was none there, and on the paper was written, 'Your treasure will be stolen this night.' The Sultan was angry and troubled. H e said, 'What! I have guards and police, and have set watchmen and soldiers everywhere, and yet this insolent thief threatens to steal my treasure!' And, full of care, he rose from his writing-table, went to the women's apartment and entered his daughter's room. She saw that he was troubled and said to him: l Eysh bik, baba? What is the matter with you, papa?' Said he, 'Juzi mini, binti,juzi! Leave me in peace, my daughter!' Said she, 'But tell me, baba, what it is that troubles you!' Answered he, 'Allah keep you, my daughter! Just now a writing fell from the ceiling before me, and on it was written that my treasure would be stolen from me tonight. I have set spies and police and soldiers and watchmen everywhere, and if my treasure is stolen it will shame


Hasan the Thief

me before my people. I am the Sultan and if the thief enters here it will blacken my face. For this reason I am angry and troubled.' And she said, 'O baba, do not be anxious! Arise, eat with me, and do not sigh, do not trouble! Allah is merciful, perhaps the thief will not be able to come and steal your treasure!' And with her comforting words she consoled her father, and he ate supper with her, and then went to sleep. All the inmates of the palace went to sleep like the Sultan, but the daughter of the Sultan went to her father's room and took down his sword from the ceiling, where it hung suspended, and seated herself in his treasury, beside the treasure chest, with the sword beside her on the ground, saying, 'I wish to see from whence the thief will come!' She looked at the ceiling, and at the walls, and all about her, and looked and watched, and looked and watched. All in the house were sleeping and it was dark. At midnight she felt the ground beneath her shake, and she said to herself, 'Ha! the thief will come from underground!' Then the floor opened, and a man came up through the hole. As he reached the top she drew the sword and cut off his head and waited for the next. There were forty thieves, and as each man came up she cut his head off, in silence and quietly, throwing the dead men aside. Thirtynine were killed in this manner, and last of all came the chief of them, and as he climbed to the top he said to himself: 'La hess, la bass! What has happened to my men? And why have they not returned? I must go and see!' So he also emerged, and as she struck at him with the sword, in her haste she only cut off the top of his scalp, and he quickly put it back, exclaiming: 'By Allah! it is you who have killed my thirty-nine men! Though your bones be of steel, yet I will kill you with my own hand!' So saying, he fled into the earth whence he had come.

Hasan the Thief


T h e girl went and knocked at the door of her father, who started up and said, ' W h o is it ?' Said she, 'I, baba. Open the door.' H e opened the door and asked her, ' W h a t is it, my daughter?' A n d she said, 'Call the servants.' H e called, and the servants and guards and every one in the palace came running, and brought lights and arms. She said, 'Come, see what is in the room below.' T h e y went to the room where the treasure was kept and there they saw thirty-nine robbers lying dead, and all exclaimed with surprise. She told them how she had killed the thirty-nine, and how she had wounded the head of their chief, and that he had sworn by Allah that he would kill her, though her bones be of steel, and that her life was in danger. T h e Sultan replied, ' H o w can such a man approach you! D o not think of such a thing, it is impossible that he can harm you.' W h e n it was day, the news went through the city that the Sultan's daughter had killed the thieves with her own hand, and all rejoiced with a great joy, saying, 'Before we were afraid to sleep, but now these bad men are dead!' Every one came into the palace to look at the corpses of the thirty-nine, and at evening they took the bodies and threw them out into the desert to be eaten of the jackals, saying, 'This night we shall sleep in peace, praise to Allah.' T w o days, three days, one month, twelve months, a year, two years, three years passed, and one day the Sultan's daughter walked upon the roof. She was very beautiful and sweet, there was none like her for beauty. She looked upon the desert, and she saw tents and soldiers, and in the midst a pavilion, and in the pavilion in a golden chair sat a Sultan with a crown on his head, and jewels about his neck, and soldiers standing about him. She came down quickly and went to her father and asked him, ' W h a t is this ? A n d who is this Sultan who visits us ?' Said the Sultan: ' W h i c h Sultan?' 3800



Hasan the Thief

Said she, 'Go to the roof and see with your own eyes.' And he went and looked from the roof and exclaimed, l Eya bal H e must be an important man, this Sultan! And he has brought soldiers with him, perhaps he means war.' H e called his wazlr, and bade him come and see also, and then said, 'Go and find out who is this Sultan who comes without giving me warning, and with armed men. Is it war? Go, and find out.' The wazlr went out of the city and came to the tents and was taken to the strange Sultan's pavilion. H e saluted him and gave him peace, and said to him, 'It is well, please God?' And the strange Sultan answered: 'It is well,' and made him sit in his presence. And the wazlr said, 'We cannot understand why you have come to us without warning, and with this army of soldiers. W e hope that you have peaceable intentions and mean no evil.' The Sultan replied,'Never! Makushey! It is nothing! In no wise do we mean evil. I have come to ask for the daughter of your Sultan in marriage!' And they brought coffee and sherbet and narglleh (water-pipe) and the Sultan treated him with honour, and calling for a string ofjewels, he gave it to the wazlr. When the visit was over, the wazlr returned, and went to his master, and said, 'This Sultan has no evil intention, and desires no quarrel with you, he has business with you, and wishes to talk with you.' Then the Sultan said, 'Saddle my mare, I will go out and kiss his hand and greet him.' They brought his mare, and he rode upon her outside the city, and went to the strange Sultan, and saluted him. The strange Sultan gave him peace, and made him sit beside him on his couch of gold. Then said the Sultan, 'Why have you come ? W e were afraid that your intention was not peaceable when we saw the soldiers. Speak! Say what is in your mind!' The other answered, 'No, no, no! I came because I wish to be betrothed to one of your house, and because I wished

Hasan the Thief 131 to ask you by word of mouth and face to face to give me your daughter to wife.' The Sultan thought when he saw how rich the other appeared, 'To whom better could I give her than this one'. And he said, 'You are a Sultan, and I am a Sultan, the marriage is suitable. I will give her to you.' Said the stranger, 'I wish for her to-morrow, for I cannot tarry here; on the fifth day of the week I must go, and I will take her with me.' The Sultan agreed, and they brought him coffee and sherbet and treated him with all honour and respect; so he returned to his palace, and called his daughter to him, saying: 'Ha! What a thing has come to pass, my daughter! This Sultan has come to marry you. I will call the mulla, we must make immediate preparations, for he wishes you to go away with him on Thursday.' The Sultan's daughter answered nothing, but did what her father wished. The mulla was called, the betrothal was made, and the next day the strange Sultan came to take his bride away. He refused all that they offered him, and when they brought the escort, with gifts and horses, he declined, saying, 'I need no escort, and no gifts, I am a Sultan, I have all and need nothing: just wrap your daughter in her 'aba and give her to me, she is all that I wish.' The Sultan was distressed, and said,' Shlon yasir! How may that be! I cannot send my only daughter away without an escort! It would be shame upon us!' The other replied, 'I want nothing, only your daughter! I need no more.' The Sultan said 'Never! It cannot be! Rich ma yasir I I must send an escort with my daughter.' Then the other gave in and said, 'It matters not. Send soldiers with her, since you wish it, but make all ready, for as soon as it is midnight we shall set off.' This. And the strange Sultan called his own soldiers, and said to them, 'When we are midway, go off, and leave me alone with the bride.'

132 Hasan the Thief So at midnight they set off: his soldiers before, hers behind, and in the centre rode the bridegroom on his mare with his bride on her mare, they riding and the soldiers walking. Mesht, meshi, meshi—dt, di, dt, dt! they walked and they walked and they walked, and the next day, as it was agreed, his soldiers walked off and left them. Then said the Sultan to her escort, 'Come!' and they came to him. And he said, 'Turn and go back whence you came, for I do not like fuss and pomp! I wish to enter our city quietly with my bride, so return you and leave us!' And he gave them bakshish. The soldiers said to him, 'We dare not go, we are afraid that the Sultan will be angry!' But he persuaded them, and gave them money, and so they turned and went back, and so they were two, she and he, each on a mare, riding in the desert. They went and they went: ardh atshtlu, ardh athattu, ardh atshilu, ardh athattu, till dt! the sun set, and they came to a wood, deep and thick, and in it were jackals, and boars, and wolves, and lions, and evil spirits (deywat). It was a large wood. H e said to her, 'Come, we will rest a little here, for you are weary. We will sit under the trees, and I will lay my head on your lap. When we have rested a little, we will mount again and ride on.' She answered, 'As you will,' and they dismounted, and sat on the ground. Then he took off his turban, and reclined on the ground beside her and put his head on her knees. Then he said, 'Put your hand on my head, and feel it.' She stretched forth her hand, and felt his head, and then in dismay, she bit on her hand. H e said, 'You, what do you say ?' Answered she, 'There is no hair on your head,' but she had perceived the scar that was on it. H e said, 'And what then ?' Said she, 'There be many men who have no hair on their heads!' Said he, 'Have you perceived who I am ?'

Hasan the Thief


Answered she, 'I have perceived.' Said he, 'You killed thirty-nine of my men, and I am Hasan the Thief. Now I shall kill you, for you are in my two hands. Say, how shall I kill you ?' Answered she, 'I am between your two hands, and if you wish, kill me, but I ask you for one thing, I make one request, and when you have granted that, kill me.' Said he, 'What is it?' She replied, 'Give me a quarter of an hour alone to make my ablutions and perform my prayers so that I may not die as an unbeliever.' H e said, 'If I leave you alone, you will escape!' Said she, 'Not so. Tie my legs with that tent-rope, and hold the other end in your hand, and you will know that I am here when you pull on the rope. And when I have washed and said my prayers, I will call you.' Said he, 'Good!' And he took the rope which bound his tent to his mare, and undid it, and tied one end to her legs, and took the other and went a little into the forest. As soon as he was gone, she quickly untied the rope and fastened it round a date-palm, and said,

Deyu yakulrii Seb'a yakulrii T)ib yakulrii Haiyat ycf adhrii wa amut, Bas huwa la yaktulrii. 'An ogre may eat me A lion may eat me A wolf may eat me And a snake may bite me and I may die, But he shall not kill me.' Then she went into the deep forest, and walked beneath and beneath the trees, till she reached a tall tree with thick foliage and branches so wide and leafy that they would have hidden ten people. She climbed it and hid herself. Hasan the Thief waited a quarter of an hour, and he waited half an hour, then he pulled at the rope and cried, 'Talla ! ma khalasti ba ad? Hurry up! Have you not yet

134 Hasan the Thief done?' but there was no reply, and as it was night, he cried again, 'Have you not finished your prayers?' and pulled at the rope, and went to see why she was silent. When he got to the place and saw no one there, he began to shout, 'Where is she, where is she?' and he found the rope tied to the palm-tree. Then he called out, 'Though your bones were of steel, I will kill you with my hands!' and he shouted and yelled, but he was afraid to enter the thick part of the wood because of the lions and evil spirits; he only searched the outskirts, and looked in the bushes. And he continued to shout with rage, saying, 'I shall kill you with my two hands!' but at last he got on his mare, and led the other, and went, meshi, meshi, meshi, into the desert. From the tree she saw him depart, and when he was gone she stayed in the tree that night, and the next afternoon she came down, saying, 'Now I am rid of him,' and began to walk into the desert, not knowing whither she went, but going where Allah directed, ardh athattu, ardh atshilu, dt, dt, dt! till she saw a house-of-hair 1 —and there were Arabs in that tent, an old man and an old woman. She saluted them, and they asked her what she wanted, and whence she came. She said to the old couple, 'Oh, my father and oh, my mother, let me come and live with you, and I will cook for you and look after you, just for my keep (batni). I will fetch your thorn and your water, and look after the sheep, and work for you and be your servant.' The old woman replied, 'Better than that! W e have no children, my old man and I are alone, you shall be our daughter, and this our tent is yours!' And they were happy and said to each other, 'She is so sweet that Allah must have sent her to us!' and they put her in a blue smock like a Bedawiya, with a coarse raba, and she lived with them as their daughter for three years. And she cut their thorn, and fetched their water, and milked the sheep, and made butter, and ground flour, and made bread, and worked for them. 1

A Bedouin tent is made of hand-woven cloth made of goat's hair.

A Bedawi woman grinding corn. T h e mat-screen, of reeds and sheep's wool, is woven by the tribes women

Hasan the Thiej


This. Now one day the son of a Sultan who lived near that place came hunting with a single servant, and the name of the servant was Feyruz. 1 And it was summer and hot, and the prince became thirsty, and when they saw the black tent, the prince said, 'Feyruz, I am thirsty, go to yonder house-of-hair and ask them for water.' Feyruz went, and came to the tent, and asked for a little water for his master. The girl arose, and poured him water from the skin, and when he saw her, Feyruz marvelled and said in himself, 'I never saw such beauty before!' and his understanding flew away as he gazed at her. H e went back to his master, and said, 'Oh, bey! the girl who poured me out this water is beautiful! Never have I seen such loveliness!' When he heard these words, the prince poured the water out and took the cup himself to the tent, and said, 'Can I have a little more to drink? I am very thirsty, may I have a drink of water?' And the girl came and answered, tMamnunl With pleasure!' and he drank and looked at her, and as he looked, his heart became dough, and he said in himself, 'Can there be anything more beautiful in the world! And this beauty is living with the 'Arab!' And he marked that the tent was swept and carpeted and clean and well kept. H e turned and went back to his house with his slave, but he could think of nothing but the girl. 'Is there such beauty! Can such sweetness be!' and he yearned so much for her that he fell sick and took to his bed. His father sent for a physician, and one came and visited him. After he had seen him, he went to the Sultan and said, 'Your son is not ill, he is 'ashiq, he is love-sick! Go to him, find out who is troubling his peace, and who is in his mind.' The Sultan cried out, 'Who can it be? But I will not ask him, I will send his dai,2 his old nurse, before whom 1 'Turquoise'. Diamond.

Slaves are usually given names like Coral, Turquoise 2 A wet-nurse.

136 Hasan the Thief he will not be ashamed to speak freely, and he will perhaps tell her for whom he is yearning.' H e sent for the nurse and said to her, 'Go to-day to my son and find out what is ailing him, who has disturbed his peace of mind, and for whom he is yearning.' So the woman went to him, and stroked his cheeks, and said, 'My darling, I am your mother, my milk is in your belly, I have been a mother to you when you were small, and I am grieved to see you thus. Tell me, what ails you ?' H e replied 'I cannot tell you.' She said, 'Tell me! For perhaps I can do you a good turn and help you.' Then he told her, 'I was hunting, and it was hot, and I was athirst, and we went to the tents of the 'Arab there, and a girl gave me drink, and she was beautiful as the full moon! My heart became dough, and I want her for my own.' Said the woman, 'Ey, my darling! Why did you not tell me? I will do what I can and I will speak to the Sultan. Do not sigh! Do not be troubled.' She went her road and came to the Sultan and said, 'What shall we do? Your son is longing for a maid of the tribes, beautiful as the moon. Bring her and betroth her to him, for better that than let him die of longing.' The Sultan replied, 'Good. Go, and take a slave with you, and betroth the girl to my son.' The dai returned to the boy, and said, 'What did I tell you! I have seen your father, and he has told me to go and get the girl and betroth her to you!' How he rejoiced! How full of happiness was his heart! The woman went with the slave into the desert, meshi, meshi, meshi, till they came at length to the house-of-hair, and there was the old man and his wife, who gave them peace, and called to them to enter and rest. How astonished the nurse was to see the tent so clean, so swept, so spread with mats! She entered and the slave remained without, and they brought her water, and said, 'Welcome, please to sit down and rest!' and treated her with respect and hospitality.

Hasan the Thiej


After greetings and inquiries after health, she said to them, 'I have a son, an only son, and he wishes to marry your daughter. I wish to take her with me, what do you say, O good old woman ?' The old woman answered, 'As my daughter wishes! If she wants to leave us she may go with you, she may do as she desires and marry your son or refuse him.' And the old man said, 'Aye! Keyfha! As she wishes.' Then the nurse turned to the girl and said, 'And what do you say, my daughter ?' The girl answered, 'First, I wish to know something. Is this young man really your son ?' The nurse answered, 'No, he is not my real son, but I suckled him when he was a babe.' 'You have come! And upon my eyes and head be it! But why did you come and not his real mother ? Let his mother come, and I will answer.' Then she gave the nurse coffee and treated her with honour and respect, and gave her peace, and the woman went her road and returned to the Sultan. She said to him, 'The girl I have seen and she is lovely, and I have never seen a tent like their tent, swept and garnished. The parents told me that all was in the hand of the girl, and when I asked her, she said, "Let his own mother come, and I will give an answer.'" The Sultan replied lAl hakim hakim I The judge is wise. This can be no daughter of the 'Arab! She would not have spoken thus! Even had not my son desired her, I should have desired her for this her conduct!' Then he went into the harem, and went to see his wife and said to her, 'Rise, take a slave with you, and go out to the desert and ask this girl who is in the house-of-hair to marry our son.' The next day, the Sultan's wife took a slave, and went in a carriage to the house-of-hair in the desert. She descended from the carriage and entered the tent, and saw that it was swept and garnished so that any Sultan's daughter could have dwelt in it. And when she saw the girl, how sweet she was, she loved her at sight. They 3800


138 Hasan the Thief made much of her, and honoured her and gave her coffee and sherbet and cigarettes, and then she turned to the old woman and said, 'I have come to betroth my son, my only son, to your daughter. What do you say?' The old woman said, 'As my daughter wishes.' The old man said the same. Then she turned to the girl and said, 'And what say you, my daughter?' The girl replied, 'You have come, and on my eyes and head be it. I will marry your son, your only son, but I make a condition, and if you do not carry it out, I will stay in my place and he in his.' Said the Sultan's wife, 'Tell me the condition. Speak!' She said, 'I want from you a castle of crystal set in the midst of the river, reached by a stairway that can be put up or removed at will, and round the castle three moats and three drawbridges, and in the outermost moat a pair of lions that have not been fed for seven days. I will take your son to husband on this condition, and if you cannot fulfil it, I will stay in my place and he in his.' This. And the Sultan's wife rose, and took her leave, and returned with her slave to the Sultan and told him all that she had seen and all that she had heard. When the Sultan had listened, he exclaimed, 'Indeed this is no daughter of the 'Arab! This is one of high estate who has come to dwell amongst them. I will do what she asks.' And he rose quickly and called a builder, and told him to build a castle in the midst of the river, as she had said, of crystal, with a drawbridge and three moats, and hungry lions in the third moat. It was finished in fifteen days, and the Sultan sent and made the betrothal, and brought the girl to the palace. They took her to the bath and washed her and admired her beauty, and prepared her for the reception of the bridegroom. Then they crossed to the castle and she entered it and sat waiting in the marriage chamber. The story returns to Hasan the Thief. Now he was walking that afternoon on the river-bank, and he saw the

A Shammar girl

Hasan the Thief


castle, and asked of the people, 'What is that castle in the midst of the river ?' They answered him, 'This, this is the castle which the Sultan's son built for his bride, and his bride is a daughter of the 'Arab,' and they told him all they knew. In his heart the thief thought, 'That is my enemy! That is she, and this night, Allah willing, I will slay her.' It came to sunset, and the bride sat waiting in the marriage chamber. The bridegroom, for his part, went and prayed in the mosque, and afterwards came with his companions and friends to the river, and took boats and reached the castle, and there they feasted. At last he entered the bridal chamber, and found the bride sitting awaiting him. When they had greeted each other, the bride said to him, 'You are but newly risen from sickness, and are tired now, rest a little, come, lie on the bed and sleep.' The bridegroom did as she wished, he stretched himself on the wedding-bed and went to sleep. But the girl was afraid to sleep, for she was afraid of Hasan the Thief. At one o'clock in the night, there was a noise in the roof, and she said to herself, ' H e is coming by the roof!' and a little after, there was a hole in the roof, and a man appeared. Khr, khr, khr! H e slid down by a rope and stood before her and said: 'How shall I kill you?' She answered, 'You mean to kill me ?' Said he, 'With my two hands I will kill you.' Said she, 'Why kill me here ? People will hear and be alarmed. Take me into the desert and kill me there.' Answered he, 'Yes. Walk before me.' Said she, 'No, you walk before me and I will follow.' So they walked together, he first and she second over the first moat, and the second moat, but when they were walking over the third moat she gave him a push with all her force and sent him over into the moat where the lions were waiting. They were ravenous, and they fell upon him and one seized one leg and the other the other and tore him in two and began to eat him up.


Hasan the Thiej

T h e n she returned to the wedding-chamber and woke the bridegroom, saying, 'Rise! W e must return to your father, and tell him this story, and then I will be yours.' A n d she took him to see where Hasan the T h i e f was being devoured, and told him that he had tried to kill her. T h e y called to all who were in the castle, and they too beheld, and then they took a boat and went across and to the Sultan's palace. W h e n they had entered it, they went to the Sultan's room, and knocked at the door. H e said, ' W h o is it?' T h e girl answered, 'I, baba, your daughter and your son, and we wish to speak with you.' H e opened to them, and said, 'Speak!' T h e y entered and kissed his hands, and said, 'Come, see what lies in the moat of our castle!' H e rose and went with them, and when he saw what was in the moat he asked for explanation. Said the girl, 'I am no daughter of the 'Arab, I am the daughter of such-and-such a Sultan, and I killed thirtynine robbers with my own hand, and this was the fortieth.' A n d she told him the whole story from the first to the last. T h e n the Sultan answered, 'Well, I know your father, he is my great friend! Indeed I said you were no daughter of the 'Arab!' A n d for seven days and seven nights they made rejoicing, and beat drums, and made feast.

Kunna 'adkum, wa jtna Wa Id kan beytak qarib *Ateytak tubeg hummus wa tubeg azbib ! W e were at their house and came back, A n d if your house were near, W e would have brought you a dish of pease and raisins. A n d the narrator added this moral exhortation : lTa

hafir al bir! La tahfur ghamij (vulg.) biha Wa enta tahfur al bir wa enta toqa fiha !'

which corresponds to our p r o v e r b — ' W h o digs a well may fall in it himself.'




HEY relate that one day of days the Prophet Moses (upon him be peace!) took into his mind to visit Allah. And on the road he chanced to meet a man who was ragged and poor. T h e man wished him peace, and he returned him peace, and then the man asked, 'Where dost thou journey, oh Nebi Musa ?' T h e prophet replied that he was travelling to heaven to see Allah, and the poor man said: 'Thou seest my state and my poverty! I beg thee mention my name to Allah when thou reachest heaven and ask H i m to take pity on my need.' Then Moses promised that he would do so. And Moses continued on his way, and after some minutes he met another man, but this man wore splendid clothing. And after this man had given him the salutation, and the prophet had returned it, he asked, 'Where goest thou, oh Nebi Musa?' And, as before, Moses answered that he was going up into heaven to talk with Allah. And the rich man said, 'I beg thee put a petition before Allah for me!' And Moses asked him what it was. And the rich man answered, 'I am so rich that I know not what to do with my money, and still gold pours in upon me! M y petition is that Allah will lessen his gifts.' And Moses promised that he would speak of the matter to Allah. And when he reached Heaven, he fulfilled his promise and spoke of the poor man's request for more money and the rich one's request for less. Allah answered him, ' O Moses, say to them that they must be silent and again silent, Yeskutun yeskutun I'1 1 This tag 'yeskutun yeskutun' is used proverbially to show that whatever a man does he cannot turn the tide of fortune, be it good or evil.



MERCHANT and his wife in a certain town once upon a time both died in one day of a mortal sickness and left behind them two children, a boy and a girl, who inherited their possessions. The name of the girl was Gumeyra, or Little Moon, and the boy, her brother, loved her very fondly for her beauty and goodness. H e went to the suq each day to buy and to sell, and the girl looked after the house. A young woman who lived near by was pleased to come in and help Gumeyra with her household tasks and to cheer her in her loneliness, and the two became great friends. One day the young woman said to Gumeyra, 'We love each other like sisters, why do you not ask your brother to marry me so that we may always be together?' Gumeyra was delighted at the idea, and did not delay in telling her brother that it was her wish that he should marry her friend. H e consented to do so; a marriage contract was made, and the wedding took place. No sooner had the bride entered the house, however, than her demeanour changed, for she became very jealous of her husband's fondness of his sister. It became difficult for Gumeyra, for her sister-in-law was always seeking quarrels with her and trying to represent to her husband that Gumeyra was her enemy. Gumeyra became very unhappy, and when at night the moon shone into her room in a friendly way, it comforted her and she talked to it, and said:

Ta gumeyryemwennes1 al gharaib Bil leyl'andi, ou bin nahar gha-ib ! 'O Moon that lovest far to wander At night with me, by day thou'rt yonder.' Her sister-in-law heard her, and said to her husband, 1

Ta mwwennes—pronounced as I have written. Lit. O Moon, O thou who amusest strangers, A t night with me, by day absent.

Al Gumeyra [Little Moon) 143 'Gumeyra has a lover who visits her at night, and his name is Gumeyr.' 1 The next night the brother listened, and he heard his sister speaking as his wife had said. In anger he entered, but found no one there. His sister protested her innocence, but he would not listen to her, and bricked up the window and the door, leaving only a small aperture in the ceiling through which he pushed down to her bread and water. However, the angels visited Gumeyra and gave her meat and sweetmeats, so that her beauty did not suffer by her immurement, but rather increased. Now Gumeyra was loved by all who knew her, and when the neighbours heard of her imprisonment, they came to the brother, and begged him to release her. H e had already begun to doubt his wife's tale, and when he heard praise of Gumeyra from all, he relented, took down the bricks, and set the girl free. It was now nine months after his marriage, and the young woman, his wife, was delivered of a boy; but instead of rejoicing at this event, she could think only of her hatred of Gumeyra and her anger that her husband would not listen to her when she complained to him of Gumeyra's wickedness. One day she went out to the suq, leaving the new-born child in the care of her sister-in-law. When she came back, both Gumeyra and the child were sleeping. The wicked wife took a knife and slew her own child, and putting the bloody knife beside her still sleeping sister-inlaw, she went to summon her husband, shrieking that murder had been done, and demanding justice. H e went with her to Gumeyra's room, and there was the child dead, with Gumeyra and the knife beside it. Gumeyra was aroused by the cries, and her brother, unable to doubt her guilt, sprang upon her and tore out both her eyes, then drove her out of the house with curses and blows. Gumeyra was almost beside herself with pain and horror, and wandered far into the country outside the town, not knowing in her blindness whither she was going. At 1

The diminutive is endearing, and Gumeyr (Little Moon) is the masculine equivalent of Gumeyra.


-d-l Gumeyra (Little Moon)

last she came to a big house, and when the servants of that place saw her plight, they took her in and showed her to the lady who lived there. That lady was a physician and she cured many people. When she saw Gumeyra, she pitied her, and took her into her house and performed a cure upon her, so that before long she could see as well as ever. Then the lady made her her servant, and because she was fond of Gumeyra, she told her her secrets and instructed her in the art of healing.1 Gumeyra abode in that place many years, helping the lady with her good work, until in time the lady died, leaving Gumeyra her house and all her possessions. Now, for their wickedness to Gumeyra, Allah had smitten her brother with blindness and his wife with leprosy,2 and it happened one day that a neighbour told them that there was a lady in the country near the town who had arts by which she worked the most marvellous cures upon the sick who came to her. The husband and wife went together to the house, which was the house in which Gumeyra lived. When she saw her brother and sister-in-law, she knew them at once, and going to her brother, she used her art so well that he soon saw the light of day again and looked upon her. Then she said to him, 'Do you know me, and do you believe that I did not kill your child?' H e answered, 'I know you, and I testify that you are innocent.' Then she said to her sister-in-law: 'As for you, I will neither cure nor kill you: go, and trouble us no more.' The woman fled from the place with her leprosy on her, and Gumeyra and her brother lived to old age in the house which the lady had left to her. 1 I suspect that in the original story the beneficent hhatun was a sorceress. A sorceress is always expected to work cures, and white witches and wizards are largely employed in spells for curing various illnesses. In modern times the Baghdadi has acquired faith in the medical art: hence the substitution of the word hakima. Here the lady-doctor is credited with the power of restoring sight o a person whose eyes had been torn out! 2 Really elephantiasis, but leprosy sounds better in a tale.

XXXII T H E T H R E E DERVISHES AND T H E W O N D E R F U L L A M P T h e narrator said, before we sat down to this tale: ' I f you take to listening to stories in the daytime, your trousers will be stolen!'

Kan u ma kan Wa 'ala Allah at tuklan.


It may and may not have been And God is the All-Powerful.


H E R E was once a merchant who, though married for many years, had no child to his great sorrow. One day he was sitting in his shop in the suq, when there came a darwish to him and said to him: 'Take this apple, peel it, cut it in half, eat half yourself, give the other half to your wife to eat, and give the peel to your mare.' The merchant did as he was bid, ate half the apple and his wife the other half, while the peel they gave to the mare. The mare and the woman both became pregnant, and in her due time the mare brought forth a foal, and the woman after nine months bore a boy, a fine child. The father was thankful to Allah for his mercy, and sent the darwish and his two brothers, for they were three, a present. They came to the house and cast the boy's horoscope, and foretold that one day he would find a great treasure beneath the earth. So beautiful was the boy, and so much did his parents love him, that they did not permit him to go outside the house, he must always remain in their hosh.1 Dt, di, dt, dil The years went by, and the boy was fifteen years old and as beautiful as the full moon. But his father died at that time, and as there was no one left to earn money for them, the mother and son became very poor. Now the boy had for a long time yearned to go outside the hosh. He said to his mother, 'My mother, Aku awadim mithli? Are there boys like me outside in the world?' And his 1


See note, p. i . D

146 The Three Dervishes and the Wonderful Lamp mother replied, 'Yes, my dear, there are boys like you outside in the world.' But when he begged her that he might go outside, she always refused. When his father died, the boy said to her, 'Now that my father is dead, will you not let me go outside? We are poor, we have scarcely enough to buy bread and meat, how shall we live if I remain here?' But the widow refused, and said, 'It was the wish of your father that you should not go from the house, and we must not disobey it.' But one day the boy found the house-door unlocked, and he escaped outside. The first thing he did was to look carefully at the number written on the door, and at the number of the next house and the next, so that he should not lose the way, for he was an intelligent boy. H e went only a little way, and there, on the ground, he saw a beshlik1 lying. H e picked it up, and bought bread, and meat, and fruit with it, and returned to his house by the way he came. When the widow saw the food, she wondered, and said, 'How did you come by this food, my son ?' H e answered, 'Allah gave it to us.' Another day he did the same thing, and this time, always observing carefully which way he took, he went out again, and this time he ventured farther. A second time he found a beshlik lying on the ground, and with this, as before, he bought food. When the widow asked him whence it came, he replied that the food came from Allah. The next time he went out, he made up his mind to go to the suq. So he walked, meshi, meshi, meshi, until he came to the suq, and there he looked this way and that, admiring the fine shops and the merchants and all that he saw, while every one who saw him admired him too, for he was as handsome as the moon on the fourteenth night. Now the eldest of the three darawlsh was sitting in a shop, and no sooner did he behold the boy than he went to him and kissed him on both cheeks, and said, 'My eye, my darling! How are you ? How pleased I am to see you! How I longed to see you! You are the son of my brother, and I shall be a father to you in the place of him who has 1

Five piastres.

The Three Dervishes

and the Wonderjul



been translated, Allah have mercy on him!' And he gave him gold and bade him take him to his house. So the boy brought him to his house, and ran up and told his mother, saying, ' M y father, had he a brother, oh my mother?' And she said, 'I never heard that he had had a brother.' H e said, 'There is a man below who says he is my father's brother, and he has given me gold.' She said, 'Perhaps your father had a brother and I did not know it.' So they received the darwlsh into their house and made him welcome, and he lived with them. H e gave the boy money to buy merchandise, and the boy started business in a shop in the suq, and in that shop were fine things, silks and embroideries and rarities of all kinds. So they had money and prospered. One day the darwlsh said to the boy, 'Come, let us go and hunt in the desert.' So they went, meshi, meshi^ meshi, far into the desert, and when they had reached a certain spot the darwlsh said to the boy, 'Below us there is a great treasure. When I have read my spells, the ground will open, and you must go down into the earth. In the garden below, you will see trees hung with crystal fruits, and emeralds, and rubies, and cornelian, and diamonds, but you must not pick them, for if you do, the earth will close and you will not be able to get back.' T h e boy said, 'On my head and on my eyes.' The darwlsh said, 'You will see below an old lamp. Put that in your pocket and bring it to me. But if you get into trouble down there in spite of what I have told you, rub this ring,' and he gave him a ring, which the boy placed on his finger. Then the darwlsh lit a fire and he read and read and read, until the earth cracked a little and then it widened, and at last they saw steps going down into the belly of the earth. Then the boy did as the darwlsh bade him and walked down into the ground. When he reached the bottom of the steps, he found himself in a beautiful garden. Each tree was blazing with crystal, or emeralds, or diamonds, or cornelian, just as the darwish had said. T h e boy could not resist the sight of them, and

148 The Three Dervishes and the Wonderful Lamp in spite of all that the darwlsh had said, he picked plenty of jewels, and stuffed his pockets full of them, and at last, spying the lamp, and remembering what the darwlsh had said, he pushed that behind him in his shirt under his zibun. 1 Then it became dark, and he tried to find the opening by which he had come, but the earth had closed, and there was no way out. H e searched and he searched, but there was no way of getting out. Meantime the darwlsh waited one, two, three, four, five, six, and seven days above on the place where the boy had gone in, and when he saw that the boy did not return he was like one mad. H e said to himself, 'The boy has forgotten what I told him, and has picked the fruits and has either lost or forgotten about the ring.' And in the boy's house in Baghdad, when he did not return, they gave him up for dead. The widow said to the people, 'The darwlsh must have killed him!' And they began to wail and mourn and beat their breasts as for the dead. Now the boy was always searching for the way out, and in climbing about on the seventh day he chanced to rub his ring on the rock. At once the earth cracked and opened, and he saw steps before him, and going up them, he came upon the light of day and the darwlsh sitting where he had left him. The darwlsh told him that he had given him up for dead. The boy told him his adventures, how that he had picked the fruit off the trees, and he emptied his pockets one by one until the jewels lay at the darwlsh's feet. Then the darwlsh said, 'But where is the lamp I bade you bring for me?' The boy thought to himself, 'If he does not value these jewels, but thinks the lamp of more worth, the lamp must be something important,' and he said, 'I forgot the lamp.' At that the darwlsh uttered a loud cry of disappointment, and falling back, he died in his place. So the boy went back to Baghdad, and the jewels were 1

A gown worn over the shirt (dishdasha). It almost reaches the ankles, but is divided on either side for several inches to allow the wearer freedom of movement.

The Three Dervishes

and the Wonderful



in his pockets and the lamp was with him as well. W h e n he went to his house, he heard the cries of grief and the sounds of mourning, and went in and found his mother bewailing him. W h e n she saw him she was very glad, and asked him where was the darwlsh, and he replied, ' H e is dead.' N o w when the jewels were sold in his shop, the boy and his mother became very rich, and he was one of the first merchants in the town. One day, the mother saw the lamp, and saying to herself, 'That is a dirty old lamp, it must be cleaned,' she fetched a cloth and began to rub it. W h e n she rubbed it, suddenly there was a smoke in the room, and lo, seven salatin—seven sons of the j a n n — stood before her with their arms folded, so! and the chief of them said to her: Labbeik, labbeik, Ana 'abid bein tdeik Utlub u temenna!

' Y o u r will, your will! I am your slave to order A s k and favour!'

But the widow was so frightened that she ran away and told her son what had happened. H e went up, and took the lamp and rubbed it with the cloth, and immediately the seven sultans of the jann stood before him, and their chief said: ' Labbeik, labbeik Ana 'abid bein deik Utlub u temenna!' T h e boy was not afraid, and asked for a golden tray, and on it something of great price covered with a net embroidered with pearls. A n d the jinn said to him, ' H i d e your eyes!' and he hid them, and when he opened them, there was the tray before him, and on it, underneath a net embroidered with pearls, were jewels that shone like the sun. T h e boy called his mother, and said to her, 'Go with this tray to the palace of the Sultan, and ask to see him, and give him this tray. W h e n he asks who sent it, say, " M y son sends you this g i f t . " '

150 The Three Dervishes and the Wonderjul Lamp The woman did as her son said. She went to the Sultan's house, and when she had come into the presence of the Sultan, she put the tray where his eyes would fall on it. When he saw the pearls on the cover, he asked what it was. Then the widow came forward, and said, 'My son sends you this gift, O Sultan!' The Sultan got on his two legs, and looked at the jewels and saw that they were finer than anything he had in his treasury, and was astonished at the richness of the gift. He said to his chief wazlr, 'What does this gift mean, O wazlr ?' And the minister replied, 'It must mean that the merchant's son wishes to marry your daughter.' So the Sultan said to the widow, 'Tell your son, On my eyes and head I accept his generous gift! and that I am willing to give him my daughter.' The widow went home, and gave her son the Sultan's message, and the young man was so happy that he spent his time in feasting and pleasure of all sorts, but he made no effort to claim his bride. Dl, di, di! A year passed, and as the Sultan's daughter was sought in marriage by a neighbouring prince, the Sultan accepted him as his son-in-law, forgetting his promise to the merchant's son. When they told him, saying, 'There is a marriage in the Sultan's house, and to-morrow, Friday, the bride goes to the bridegroom's house,' the young man was beside himself, and reproached himself for his neglect. H e rubbed the lamp and the seven jann appeared as before, and said iLabbeik\1 The merchant's son told them his trouble, and admitted that it was his fault, since he had omitted to claim the Sultan's promise. The chief of the seven said, 'It does not greatly matter: you must not trouble, for the princess will be yours.' On the Friday, the wedding being completed, the bridegroom chosen by the Sultan went at night to his bride's room, and the young couple were left to themselves. But the bridegroom no sooner looked at his beautiful bride, than he fell down—sar khashabi, he be1

Repetition, omitted here.

The Three Dervishes and the Wonderful Lamp 151 came wood, and lay on the floor as he had fallen, all night. When they came to ask her in the morning how the bridegroom had behaved after they had left them alone together, she replied, 'He was like a dead person.' The second night, and the third, it was the same thing. Then the merchant's son went to the Sultan, and said, 'Why did you give your daughter to this man ? Did you not promise her to me ? Where is your honour?' And the Sultan bit on his finger [the storyteller bit hers~\ and said, 'I forgot! But this bridegroom is no bridegroom at all, I will send him away and she shall be yours.' So he sent for the bridegroom, and said to him, lMa 'andek nesib 'andi! Your fate is not with me!' and gave him a present and sent him away. This for the bridegroom. But as for the merchant's son, he married the Sultan's daughter, and the jann of the lamp constructed him a fine house in the place of a stable that was near the Sultan's palace, so that the girl might live near her father. And the darawlsh, as for them, they were now two, and they did not know what had become of the eldest brother. So they set out and they went from place to place, ardh atshilu, ardh athattu., earth taking, earth placing, seeking their brother, and finally came to the conclusion that he had been killed by the merchant's son. So they went to Baghdad, and when they saw the fine house that had been built by the King's palace, they asked, 'Whose house is that?' And they were answered, 'That is the house of the merchant's son who married the Sultan's daughter.' So the second darwlsh went into the suq, and he bought a sella (fiat basket) and many lamps, the most beautiful that could be found in all the suq, and when he had them, he put them into the basket, and went along the streets with the basket on his head, crying, lKhdsh lamp at I Khosh lamp at I Fine lamps!' Before long he came to the house of the Sultan's daughter and the merchant's son. The bride was sitting at the window, and when she heard the darwlsh crying his

152 The Three Dervishes and the Wonderful Lamp lamps, she looked out, and saw them on his head, below, and sent her servants down, saying, 'Bring the father-oflamps up, so that I may look at what he has in his basket.' So the darwlsh came up, and put his basket on the carpet, and began to spy about him. The princess came and looked at them saying, 'That is sweet! How fine that one is! I should like that! I should like this one!' And the darwlsh said, 'Take them all, if you like them! Only give me in exchange that old lamp which is hanging up there on the wall!' And the princess laughed, and said, 'That old lamp is very dusty and dirty, take it, father-of-lamps!' And the darwlsh took it under his arm, and went away. Just after came in the girl's mother-in-law, the widow, and when she saw all the new lamps on the floor, she asked how they had come there, and the princess told her that the father-of-lamps had given them to her in exchange for the old lamp that hung on the wall. When she heard that, the old woman was very angry, and said, 'What have you done! That lamp was what made my son a rich man!' And the girl said, 'I did not know! How should I know?' Now the merchant's son was fond of hunting, and every day he went out into the chol to hunt. That day also he went hunting, and when he came back, lo! his house was no longer there, only the stable. This was because the darwlsh, when he had the lamp, went outside the city and rubbed the lamp, and when the slaves of the lamp appeared, he said to them 'Transport the house and all that is in it to my country.' And it was done. When the Sultan saw that the house in which his daughter was had gone, he was very angry, and sent for the merchant's son, and said, 'What have you done with my daughter?' Now the young man had sought out his mother in his trouble, and she had told him that his wife had given the lamp to the darwlsh, and he understood how everything had happened. H e answered the Sultan, 'The matter happened thus and thus,' and told him the story from the beginning. When he had finished his story, he said to the Sultan, 'I am going now to look for your

The Three Dervishes and the Wonderjul Lamp


daughter, and if I do not return before forty days, you will know that we are both dead.' So he went out into the desert, and walked and walked until he was very tired. A f t e r he had walked some days, he came to a pool and took water in his hands to drink, and also washed his head with the water in his hands. A s he did so, he chanced to rub the ring which was on his finger, and in the twinkling of an eye, there stood before him two black slaves, who said to him,

'Labbeik, labbeik Ana 'abid bein tdeik Utlub u temenna !' T h e merchant's son then suddenly remembered his ring, and cursed himself for not having remembered it until now. H e said to them, ' T a k e me to the country o f the three darawish, and place me on the roof of their house.' T h e slaves of the ring answered him, ' W e will take you, but do not ask us to do anything else, as we are afraid of the jann of the lamp.' T h e y said to him, 'Shut your eyes!' and he shut them, and when he opened them, the slaves of the ring had thrown him on to the roof of the second darwlsh's house, and already they were flying away, flying, flying, as quickly as an aeroplane. N o w the darwish was away from his house, hunting in the desert, and the Sultan's daughter was alone. T h e second darwish had told her that she must marry him, and she had said to him, 'I will marry you when the forty days of my 'edda 1 are over. Until then, it would not be seemly for you to see my face.' A n d the darwish agreed to that. W h e n the merchant's son came on the roof, he went downstairs to the harem, and finding the door of his wife, he knocked. She said, ' W h o is it?' H e said, ' I ! ' and she knew his voice at once, and opened the door and embraced him. A n d they told to each other all that had happened. A n d he asked her, ' W h e r e is the lamp?' She replied, 1


Period of mourning. x

154 The Three Dervishes and the Wonderful Lamp 'The darwish never lets it leave his person, but wears it chained to his waist, behind his body.' Then he said to his wife, 'This evening, when the darwish comes back, hide me under the couch, and put a rug over it. Then when he comes to you, throw back your veil and smile upon him, and tell him that you will marry him at once, and not wait for the forty days to be over. But say to him that he must drink with you, and with your own hand give him a drink mixed with henbane.' 1 She did as he had said, hid her husband under the couch, and when the darwish came to her, she uncovered her face and smiled upon him, and said, 'Welcome!' The darwish was pleased and delighted, and she told him that she would wait no longer for the term of her 'edda, but would marry him at once. And she added, 'But I am accustomed to drink and make merry, so on this joyful occasion let us drink together.' H e called for wine, and, already intoxicated by her eyes, he drank. Then she put the henbane in his cup, and said to him, 'This cup you must drink from my hand!' And he answered, 'From your hand and your beauty I will drink!' And he drank it and fell to the ground like a piece of wood. Then the merchant's son came from his hiding-place and stabbed him with his dagger, and that was finished for him. Then they took the lamp from the body of the darwish, and when they had rubbed it they were transported in the moment that they shut their eyes, they and the house and all that was in it back to Baghdad. This is what happened. And the merchant's son, when he got back, rubbed the lamp and when the seven jann had appeared, he asked them, 'I have killed two enemies. Have I any more ?' And they answered, 'Yes, there is one more, and he will seek to kill you, three days from now.' ' Henbane (benij) is a favourite opiate in the Middle East, and appears constantly in the Arabian Nights.

The Three Dervishes and the Wonderful Lamp 155 By this they meant the third darwlsh, youngest of the three, who, when he had sought his brother, and had not found him, had said, 'This must be the merchant's son.' So he went from place to place, ardh atshilu, ardh athattu, ardh atshilu, ardh athattu, till he came to Baghdad. And it was summer, and the merchant's son was living outside the town at Karradah. And the darwlsh went to his house and said, 'Does the Sultan's daughter, the merchant's son's wife, go out ?' And they said, 'No, she does not leave the house.' And he said, 'Does she receive visitors?' And they said, 'There is a ma-soeur,1 one of the ma-soeurat, who comes every Sunday to pay her visit, but, except for this woman, she receives no one.' So the darwlsh waited until the Sunday, and then, when he saw the ma-sceur in the road, he set upon her and killed her, and then put on her corneyta2 and dark robe. Then he went to the house, and knocked at the door, and when they called, 'Minu?' he replied, 'I, the ma-soeur.' Now the merchant's son, being warned that the darwlsh would come on the third day, had taken down a sharp sword so sharp that it cut everything through with one blow. This sword was hung to the ceiling, but he took it down, as I have said, and hid with it behind the door. Now the Sultan's daughter loved the ma-soeur, and she came quickly down the steps into the courtyard to welcome her, but before she could reach her, her husband leapt out from behind the door before the false ma-soeur could enter, and with one blow severed his head from his body so that it flew—flew—and rolled away into the desert. Then the princess began to cry and said, 'Why have you killed the ma-soeur ? She was my friend, and I loved her.' He replied, 'Come and see.' And he showed her that it was no woman, but a man 1

'ma-sceur', i. e. a nun. The Baghdadis always refer to the excellent girls' school which is kept by the French sisters (of the Order of the Presentation), in Baghdad as the 'school of the ma-soeurat'. 2 white coif, or cornet.

156 The Three Dervishes and the Wonderjul Lamp dressed in nun's dress. After that, he had no enemies, and all was well with him. Wa Id baitkum qarib Kunt ajlb lakum tubeg hummus wa tubeg


And if your house were near I'd bring you a dish of pease and raisins. or, in rhymed paraphrase:

And if your house were only near, I'd bring some goodies for you, dear!



NE day a King was wandering in disguise about the streets of his capital, when chancing to pass beneath an open window, he heard three girls talking, and he stopped to listen. The first said, 'If I were to marry the King, I should make him a carpet so big that it would cover all his kingdom.' The second said, 'If I were to marry the King, I would cook him a loaf so large that if all his army ate of it, there would remain some crumbs.' The third said, 'And were I to marry the King, I would bear him two children, and on their heads silver curls and gold curls, growing side by side.' The young man listened, and asked of some bystander who they were. The next day he sent for their father, and asked for the hand of the eldest girl in marriage. The marriage was celebrated, and as soon as he was with his bride, he asked her to weave him a carpet as large as she had promised. But she was unable to do it. To punish her for her boast, the King made her a kitchen-maid, and he sent again to the father and asked for the second daughter. When the marriage festivities were over, he ordered her to bake him a loaf as big as she had said, but she could not. So he put her in the kitchen too, and then he asked for the third daughter, and married her. For nine months they lived happily together, and then the girl bore twins, and on their heads were gold and silver curls, growing alternately all round their heads. As soon as the sisters perceived these beautiful boys, they were jealous, and told the midwife to take two puppies and put them in the bed instead of the children. When the mother asked to see her children, they said, 'They were not children, they were puppies.' And they ordered the midwife to put the two boys into a wooden chest and to cast them into the Tigris. This she did.


The King and the Three Maidens

When the King saw the puppies and heard that his wife had brought this shame on him, he was very angry, and ordered that she should be buried up to her breast by the door of his house, and that each passer-by should throw a stone at her and spit in her face. And this was done. There was a fisherman who lived with his wife a little way down the river, and he was the King's fisherman and took fish every day to the palace. The rest he sold in the suq. One day, when he drew in his nets, they were very heavy, and when he saw a box in the net as he pulled it up, he was alarmed and let it fall back into the river, fearing lest a deyu should be within the box. But when he told his wife, she came with him, and bade him draw up the net again, and said to him, 'Perhaps there is treasure in the box.' They drew it up, and took the box to their hut, and when they had opened it, they saw within two boybabes, as beautiful as angels, and on their heads curls of gold and curls of silver. The couple were delighted and, as they had no children of their own, the woman nourished them and brought them up as her own. Now after the King had punished his third wife, he brought her two sisters out of the kitchen and lived with them, forgiving them for their boasts. One day, he bade them good-bye, and told them that he was going upon a journey across the sea, and asked them what present he should bring them when he returned. The first sister asked him to bring her a gown embroidered with pearls, and the second sister asked him to bring her a diamond necklace. Then they said, 'Since you ask us what we should like when you come back, ask also our sister, who is halfburied beside the door.' H e replied, 'Why should I ask her? She made a fool of me, her behaviour brought shame on me.' They answered: 'Never mind, she is your wife and our sister, ask her, and hear what she wants.' So he went to his wife by the door, and asked her, 'What do you want when I come back from my journey ? and she answered, 'No-

The King and the Three Maidens


thing, only that you should travel in safety and come back in happiness.' H e replied, 'No, you must tell me something that you want for yourself.' And to that she said, 'Then bring me the Doll of Patience and the Knife of Patience, which you will find in the country to which you are going. If you forget, the ship upon which you travel will not be able to move.' The King travelled to a far country, and when he had accomplished his business there, he ordered the merchants of that place to bring him a zibun 1 embroidered with pearls, and a diamond necklace. Then he took ship, and ordered the captain to set sail for his own country. The captain replied, 'On my head!' and he set the sails, but the ship could not move. H e came to the King and said, 'The ship will not move, perhaps there is some witchcraft against which we are powerless.' Then the King remembered his third wife's words, and said, 'Wait! I have forgotten something, and before we leave I must fetch it.' H e went back into the town and called the merchants, and said, 'I wish to buy the Knife of Patience, and the Doll of Patience.' But all the merchants said they had no such thing. At last there came one, and said, 'There is a man in the town who says he has the Knife of Patience and the Doll of Patience, if your Majesty goes to him, perhaps he will sell them.' The King said, 'Take me to him.' So they took him to the man, and the man was an old cobbler who mended old shoes, and he lived in a small, mean place. The King asked him, 'Have you the Knife of Patience, and the Doll of Patience ?' And the old man answered, 'I have.' The King said, 'I wish to buy them.' And the cobbler said, 'Wherefore do you wish to buy them ?' And the King told him, 'I have promised my third wife, whom I have punished for her crime against me, that I would bring them.' Then the old man said, 'I will give you what you ask for, but you must do exactly as I tell you.' And the King promised. And the old man said, 'When you give your wife the knife and the doll, 1 See note, p. 148.


The King and the Three Maidens

hide yourself behind the door that you may hear what she says. You will behold this doll burst, and as soon as it has burst, you must seize your wife's hand, or she will kill herself.' So the King got again upon the ship, and this time the winds blew and the sails filled and they rushed quickly through the waves until he reached his own country. When he had landed, he went to his palace and gave his two wives there what they had asked for, one the zibun embroidered with pearls, and the other the diamond necklace. Then he went down to where his wife was halfburied beside the street-door, and with his hands he gave her the knife and the doll. H e pretended to go away, but in reality he hid himself behind the door, and looked and listened to see what would happen. The third wife addressed the doll, saying:

Wey, ya laabat es sabr, Nti sabr wa ani sabr, Cham dub qalbi yastabr ! 'Alas, O Doll of Patience, Thou art Patience and I am patience How many blows my heart has suffered patiently!' Then she began to tell the doll all that had happened, and how her sisters had taken her children and told the midwife to put puppies in their place, and of all her sorrows from the day of her delivery to that day. And as the doll listened, it grew bigger, and bigger, and bigger, till at last, with a loud crack, it burst. When the third wife saw that, she said, 'Doll of Patience, thy heart is broken!' and she took the Knife of Patience, and was putting it to her heart, to pierce it through, when the King rushed from behind the door, and seizing her hand, prevented her from killing herself. Then he said to her, What you have told the doll, why did you not tell it to me ?' And she replied to him, 'I was afraid that you would harm my sisters for what they did.' Then the King called people and bade them dig her out of the earth, and told the servants to make her a bath

A cobbler, Baghdad

The King and the Three Maidens 161 and to put new clothes upon her, and they did so. And his other two wives he put into prison. Then he called a dellal—a crier—and bade him go through the city for seven days crying that two children with gold and silver hair must be brought to the palace. The fisherman and his wife heard the crier, but they did nothing, for they loved the children. But on the seventh day, the fisherman's wife said to her husband, 'You are the King's fisherman, and if he hears that we are concealing the children he wants, he will be very angry, and our livelihood will be gone. Take the children to him, and we shall gain his favour, and perhaps he will give us a present.' So the fisherman went to the King and said, 'Oh, your Majesty the King, I am your fisherman, and I bring you fish every day. One day, when I was casting my nets and drawing them in, I perceived a heavy box entangled in them, and when we drew them up, we found two children hidden in the box. We brought them up as our own, thinking no harm, but now we have heard the order.' The King said, 'Have the children hair of gold and silver ?' And the fisherman said, 'They have.' The King said, 'Bring them that I may see them.' So the fisherman brought the two children, and the King was overjoyed, and sat one on one knee and one on the other. To the fisherman he said, 'You have done well, and to reward you, I will build you a house in a garden near the palace so that you may see these children when you wish.' Then he ordered his servants to bring much firewood, and to build it up in the street over the hole where his first wife had been buried. They did so, and then he had the wicked midwife and the two sisters who had been his wives brought, and naptha was poured over them, and they were burnt alive in the big fire to punish them for their lies and wickedness. But he did not let his wife know, only telling her that he had sent them away. As for the fisherman and his wife, they lived happily in their house and saw their foster-children every day. 3800





HERE was once a young prince, and when his father the Sultan was lying sick at the point of death, he called his son and said to him, 'Come, my son, I have a charge to lay upon you!' And the prince answered, 'Yes.' And the Sultan said, 'I am leaving you all my property, all my horses and stables, and houses and gardens, and khans and all I possess, it will all be yours. But the charge I lay upon you is this, do not drink 'araq, 1 do not gamble, and do not frequent bad company! Obey me in this, for I am going to die.' T h e young man answered, 'Good, my father, I will obey you.' Then his father died. But he did exactly the opposite of that which his father had commanded him, and drank and gambled and frequented bad company, dt, dt, dt! gambling! chalghiat!2 dancing-girls and singing-boys, bad characters! di, di, dt! And his mother said, ' W h y do you act thus, my son ? W h y do you not heed what your father laid upon you ?' But bosh! No good! he did not heed, and before long his father's money was all finished, and he began to sell the houses, the lands and the gardens, the khans and the horses, and the money he gained from these he dissipated in evil living. Dt! It was all spent. That youth was now very poor, and his mother reproached him, 'What have you done! You have squandered all!' But it was of no use, and so poor they were that they wanted for food, they had not enough upon which to sup. So the youth rose and said to his mother, ' M y mother, 1

'Araq is distilled either from grapes or dates: in 'Iraq usually from the latter. A musical entertainment is called a chalghi (Turkish). House-concerts for which a troupe of musicians are engaged for the night are a favourite form of entertainment in Baghdad, particularly with Jews and Christians. 2

The Merchant's Daughter


I wish to travel. If I become a man, I will return; if not, count me as dead.' Then he took his road, and went into the desert and walked and walked, until he came to the sea-shore, and there in the distance he saw a ship. H e took his kefflyeh 1 off his head and waved it, and the ship came and took him aboard. It was loaded, but it had no crew; there was only its captain, and he was a wealthy merchant. The cargo was his and the ship was his. The young man said to him, 'I am in need, and have travelled far, and have nothing to eat. Let me work for you for my keep, and if I do not suit you, let me depart when we get to a port. I will work and do anything you ask me to do.' The merchant answered 'Good.' The ship sailed off again, and the youth worked for him like a servant, baked his bread, brought him his food, and did all that he could in the ship. They came to a port, and the youth said, 'Do not trouble yourself with the unlading and charging the cargo: I can write, I will do that for you.' The merchant was amazed at hearing the lad could write, and said to himself, 'In truth, this is a good lad, and clever and well-educated!' and he liked him still better than he had liked him at first. True to his word, when the ship had anchored, the lad counted the bales as they went out, and paid the dues, and went to the Customs house, and did all that was necessary, while the merchant remained sitting on the ship. Then the lad asked, 'Do you wish me to go my road, or shall I stay with you ?' The merchant answered, 'Stay with me.' And so they went from port to port, and at last the merchant came to his own port, where he lived, and the lad did as before, and got the cargo off, and paid the dues 1 Head-kerchief. In Baghdad the head-kerchief is usually of black and white, or red and white, cotton, and is kept in place by woollen or silken strands bound into a rope by threads of metal or of silk wound tightly around the strands at intervals.

164 The Merchant's Daughter and got the goods through the Customs, while the merchant remained sitting there. And the lad said, 'Now shall I go my way?' And the merchant replied, 'I have no son, for my own boy died, and I have only a daughter. Come to my house, and I will adopt you as my son.' The lad answered, 'As you please,' and followed him to his house. There the merchant gave him a room, and showed him his accounts, and from that day all the merchant's business was in the lad's hand: he bought and sold, and went to the Customs, and managed all the merchant's business: as for the merchant, he sat at home, and received guests, and was at his ease, for this merchant was richer than any Sultan. The lad remained with him one year, two years, three years, and became rich and prosperous, and everything was in his hand. At last the merchant's friends said to him, 'O Merchant effendi, everything you possess is in the hand of this lad (Melek Muhammad by name), why do you not marry him to your daughter?' The merchant saw that the advice was good, and he rose, and called a mulla, and they made a contract, and gave him his daughter to wife. Thus all was in the hand of Melek Muhammad, and he remained with the merchant ten years. As for the girl, his wife, she was a sweet girl; she might have said to the moon, 'Be absent! I will take your place and light the world!' Di, di, di! Time passed, and one day his mother came into his remembrance, and, putting his keffiyeh over his face, he began to weep. His wife came to him and asked, 'O Melek Muhammad, why do you weep, why?' He answered, 'My mother came into my mind.' Said she, 'Have you a mother ?' Said he, 'Yes, I have a mother.' The girl went to her father and said, 'Melek Muhammad weeps!' The merchant went to him and asked him what ailed him, and Melek Muhammad answered, 'I wish to see my mother: I do not know whether she is alive or dead.'

The Merchant's Daughter 165 The merchant asked him, 'Whose son are you?' for until then they had not asked him. He replied, 'I am the son of such and such a Sultan!' The merchant was pleased to know that his son-in-law was the son of a Sultan, and said to him, 'I will give you leave to see your mother: go, visit her, and return after forty days; you must not stay longer, for all my business is in your hands, and I cannot spare you!' He said, 'Yes,' to that, and his wife said, 'I will go with you!' He replied, 'Adili, bedilil You had better change your mind! you cannot come with me! for it is a long voyage. Another time when I go away you can accompany me, but this is too far.' Said she, 'I will come with you,' and she rose, and said to her father, 'I wish to go with Melek Muhammad, and you must give me permission to go with him.' Her father replied, 'As you wish, my daughter, if you wish to, go!' She returned to Melek Muhammad and said, 'My father says I may, and I shall go with you!' So they made preparations for the journey, and the merchant said to Melek Muhammad, 'Go, buy forty camels in the suq and load them with gold and silver from the cellar.' This was done, and forty camels were loaded with treasure, khaftf al html, ghali al thaman ! light in weight but precious in value! And on them, too, he piled his baggage and his wife, and the merchant said, 'Do not delay! Come back after forty days!' and ey\ they moved off, meshi, meshi, meshi, ardh athattu, ardh atshilu, ardh athattu, ardh atshilu, until the caravan came at last to Melek Muhammad's city. The young man left the caravan outside the gate of the city and said to his wife that he would go to see his mother. He went, and knocked at the door. Now his mother had dug a tomb in the cellar and she sat there every day and wept, thinking that Melek

166 The Merchant's Daughter Muhammad was dead, and thought about him beside the tomb. When she heard the knock she said, lMinu ? Who is it?' He answered, 'I, Melek Muhammad.' She said, 'My son is dead this ten years!' He said, 'I am Melek Muhammad, my mother, open the door!' Cried she, 'That is my son's voice!' and she opened the door and encaged him in her arms, and said, 'My darling, how! where have you been? I thought you dead!' and much else. He answered, 'I have come and brought my wife with me, for I am married.' She called the servant and said, 'Sweep! Clean! Spread carpets! prepare for my son and his wife.' And Melek Muhammad went, and brought his wife, and the forty camels, and they entered the courtyard, and he unloaded the camels, and when his mother saw all the treasure, she was so delighted that her reasonflewfrom her! Then Melek Muhammad said to his mother, 'I have only forty days here, I may not stay longer.' But he went into the town, and all that his father had once possessed, he bought it back again, horses, stables, gardens, houses, khans, all that he had sold, he bought back again, and his mother rejoiced and was happy. The tale of days was counted, and at last he said to his mother, 'The forty days are over, I must return.' Now his mother loved her daughter-in-law so well that if she needed water she went to get it for her; and had the girl wished to walk on the old woman's two eyes instead of on the ground, her mother-in-law would not have said her nay. So when the time came to depart the girl said to her husband, 'I shall not go with you, I shall remain with your mother.' He said, 'How can that be!' She replied, 'Excuse me! but I wish to remain here. Leave a slave with me to act as courier and bring letters from me to you and you to me, and when I wish to bring my stay to an end I will send, and you can fetch me.'

The Merchant's Daughter


H e agreed, and took farewell of her, and said to his mother, ' M y mother, you look on me with one eye—look on my wife with two! take care of her well! (tabaw'ain illi

bi 'ain wa marrati bi ainatain).1

She promised, and when he had gone she said to the young wife, 'I will look after you, for you have taken the place of my child. I will do everything for you, and this is your house, and your place, for I love you like my own!' One day of days and time of times, the girl was oppressed by her restriction, and wearied, and she said, 'I wish to open a window and to gaze at the street, raise it but a little, so that I can see the people that pass to and fro.' So the window was opened just wide enough for her to peep through and watch the people who passed by. Presently there came the qadhi, riding upon an old, lame mule, with his slave behind him. Now the qadhi was very old and misshapen, and when she saw him she laughed. When the qadhi heard the laugh, he raised his eyes and thought, 'She smiled at me! She is in love with me!' and he went to the door and knocked, and Melek Muhammad's mother came to talk with him. H e said, 'A Sultan's daughter lives here, and I want to have her as mine!' The old woman answered, 'How, thou owl! you want a Sultan's daughter! If you want her, take her!' H e said, 'But there is a Sultan's daughter here, and she loves me, for she laughed at me from the window!' The old woman said, 'She laughed at your crookedness and at your age!' But the old man went home and, although he was a miser, he called wizards and witches to his house and consulted them about the girl. His mother said to him, 'You are spending your money in vain! Why should this Sultan's daughter love you? She will never take you—you are wasting your substance.' But he was mad from love. One day there came to him an old witch, very skilled, very clever, and he opened his


The Merchant1s


state to her, and said, 'I want this Sultan's daughter and you must bring her to me.' She replied, 'I can bring her to you to-night.' Said he, 'Truth?' And she answered, 'Truth.' And he said, 'How much do you want ?' Said she, 'Five gold pounds, and this night at two o'clock, Arab time, I will bring her to you. Only leave your door open.' He gave her the money, and she went to the suq and bought a few sugar almonds, and tied them in a kerchief. Then she went to the Sultan's house and knocked at the door and they opened and she saluted them. Said she to the mother, 'I have come from the house of a Sultan in whose family there is a wedding,' and she gave them the comfits, 1 thus inviting them to the wedding, and saying, 'The household of the Sultan send greetings, and say there is a wedding in their house, and they invite your daughter-in-law, who is a stranger and knows not our customs here, to see how weddings are held in this country.' The mother replied, 'As my daughter-in-law wishes! Till now she has not been outside the house, but she may please herself.' The old woman said, 'Where is your daughter-inlaw?' The mother said, 'Upstairs,' and they called to her, 'Come down! Come!' When she had come, the old woman told her what she had told her mother-in-law. The girl said, 'As my mother-in-law pleases!' Replied the mother, 'Please yourself! If it will amuse you, go, for you have not seen a wedding here yet.' Asked the girl, 'Who will take me to the house ?' Replied the old woman, 'I will return at sunset and take you there, and will bring you back with my two hands.' 1 Mulabbas (comfits) wrapped in a silk handkerchief are presented to every wedding guest at a big wedding. Unmarried girls put these sweets under their pillows to dream of their future husbands.

The Merchant's Daughter


Said the mother, 'Go, my daughter, spend an hour or two there, see what it is like, and return.' T h e y then divided the comfits and agreed that when the girl had dressed and prepared herself, the old woman would return and take her to the wedding. This. T h e old woman took her leave and after the sun had set, she returned. T h e girl had put on fine clothes, jewels, pearls, and gold ornaments, so as to be finely dressed for the wedding. She went with the old woman into the street, and they walked and they walked, for the old woman took her by circuitous routes so that time should pass. Said the girl, ' W h e r e is the house of the wedding ?' A n d the old woman replied, 'Farther yet.' T h e y walked, and they walked, and it became dark, and the lanterns were l i t — f o r in those days there was no


Meanwhile the old qadhi told his mother that the girl was coming, and she was very angry, and said, ' M y son, you are mad! If the girl comes I will go out, I will not stay here!' So she went to her own place 1 in the house, and he remained alone in the courtyard waiting behind the door. Presently the girl came, and the old woman said to her, 'That is the house!' Said the girl, 'But there is no sound and all is dark!' Answered the old woman, 'But there are three courtyards, one after the other, all in the belly of the house. T h e wedding is in the farthest. Here is the gate, pass in — y o u first and I behind.' A n d she opened the door, and pulled it to when the girl had entered, and ran off. T h e girl found herself face to face with the old qadhi. She bit on her hand and said, 'This is a trick!' (Hadha

nuqta 'ala rasi /)

T h e qadhi welcomed her saying, lMarhabal Ahlan u sahlan! Come and sit upstairs! you are welcome, twice welcome.' 1


T h e women's quarters. z


The Merchant's Daughter

She went, and sat upstairs on the couch, and she pondered within herself, 'What shall I do to rid myself of this accursed son of a dog ?' Said he, 'Won't you amuse yourself, and talk to me ?' Answered she, ' I am not amused thus, my uncle! Before I can talk of love I must drink, so bring every kind of drink, 'araq, 1 whisky, champagne, white wine, red wine, all you can find, and we will drink. Does this not please you ?' Answered he, 'It pleases me. All you ask you shall have, and if you ask for many kinds of drink, you shall have all kinds!' Then he called his slave, and said, 'Come, Feyruz! 2 Bring pistachios and almonds 3 and drinks!' And he went to see after the slave. Outside was his mother, and she said to him, ' Y o u are a miser, and you love to hoard money, and now, see how you are scattering money, and incurring expense!' But the old man did not listen to her but said to the slave, 'Feyruz, go and buy all sorts of drinks in the suq, 'araq, wines, champagne, whisky!' and he gave him five gold pounds. The slave went and returned with the drinks. While the old man was outside, the girl pushed a headkerchief inside her bodice. Then she called for a table and glasses, and plates for the almonds and nuts. All was brought to them, and they sat, and she poured out drinks, handing him a glass with the words, 'Drink this from my hand!' Now he had never drunk wine and knew not the taste of it, but he took the wine from her hand and drank and said, 'Hadha min 'ayunki! This is from your eyes!' Then they drank, but she had poured water into her glass instead of'araq, 4 and drank, saying, ' T o your eyes.' This. And he wished to talk with her and make love with her, 1

See note, p. 162. Turquoise, see note, p. 135. Salted nuts are usually served at a drinking-bout. When an Oriental, untouched by Western ideas, drinks, it is usually with the intention of getting drunk. 4 'Araq when neat is colourless. 2 3

The Merchant's Daughter


but she said, 'I am not yet intoxicated: the night is long, and Allah is merciful; let us drink, and when the wine has warmed us, we will amuse ourselves and make love.' And she did not let as much as his little finger touch hers. She poured him three glasses, each four fingers high, and he drank, and his head sank on his breast. Then she poured him another, saying, 'I am not yet intoxicated, drink one more!' and he took it again from her hand, and drank and fell like a log on the floor. Then she quickly took off her jewels and pearls and put them in the kerchief and put them in her pocket, and went down and looked in a room and found a razor. She returned with it and shaved his hair, his beard, and his eyebrows, then poured the wine down his open mouth and broke the bottles and glasses on his head till he was covered with blood, and said, 'Dog, son of a dog, die!' and she drubbed him severely. At dawn she opened the door softly and went out into the street, and looked this way and that, wondering which road to follow. But she remembered the way by which the witch had led her, and di! came at length to the door of their own house. Her mother-in-law was waiting for her, and when she knocked, said, 'Who is it?' She answered, 'I!' and the door opened. Her mother-in-law asked, 'Did you amuse yourself at the wedding?' 1 She answered, 'Yes, I amused myself!' and went to bed, saying nothing of what had happened. Within herself she said, 'What a trick they played me!' The next day, when she woke from sleep, her motherin-law brought her tea, and she drank and afterwards they broke their fast. The girl reflected much, but said no word to her mother-in-law. The story returns to the qadhi. The next morning the mother came into the courtyard and called, 'Feyruz! where is your master ? Wake him from sleep, he must go to the courts: they have come in search of him—what answer can we give them!' Said the slave, 'I will not go, for I think he is sleeping with the woman—go you and rouse him.' 1

Wedding festivities are carried on until the day dawns.


The Merchant's


She went, and knocked at the door, and went in, and saw her son stretched out as if dead, his eyes covered with blood and his head all gory. The mother screamed, 'Feyruz! come and see what has happened to my son! H a ! What did I say! No good would come of this!' and she sent for a doctor, and ordered Feyruz, if they came from the court for her son, to say that he was in bed, sick of a fever. 'Say, "To-day the qadhi effendi will not come!'" The doctor came, and gave him medicine, and bound up his wounds. After three months in bed the qadhi's hair and his beard grew again, and his wounds healed, and he became well, so that he was able to get up and return to the lawcourts. But he said to his mother, 'I will not rest until I have killed that girl!' Accordingly, he called his slave, Feyruz, and asked him if he were friendly with the slave who carried letters in the Sultan's house. H e replied that he was. Then the qadhi said to him, 'When he takes a letter from his mistress to her husband, contrive that you can take out that letter from his bag and substitute one that I will give you.' Said Feyruz, l'Amrkum! As you command!' Then the qadhi sat down and wrote a letter as if it came from the girl's mother-in-law, accusing her of bad conduct, saying that she was unfaithful to her husband, that she was wanton and entertained men in the house, and so forth. Then he sealed the letter and wrote on it 'From your mother,' 1 and gave it to Feyruz, the slave. Feyruz went and sat on the road upon which he knew the messenger passed when he took letters from the girl to her husband. Presently came the fellow, who greeted him, and said, ' H a ! You, Feyruz! why are you sitting here?' 1 As the mother was probably illiterate, the handwriting would not be questioned. Well-bred women up to recent times were seldom literate and employed scribes or slaves to write their letters. Many women of the better classes still are illiterate: amongst the tribes it is rare for a woman to know how to read or write.

The Merchant's Daughter


Feyruz began to abuse his master, saying, 'What a beggar the qadhi is! what a miser! he gives me nothing to eat, he treats me badly, he is the son of a dog—I have left his service. And you, what are you doing ?' Answered the fellow, 'I am taking a letter from my mistress to Melek Muhammad. Said Feyruz, 'I will go with you a little way.' Said the other, 'Good,' and they walked till they came to the post-house. Said Feyruz, 'Go off from the road here and ease yourself, and while you are gone, I will take care of your post-bag.' The other left him for a moment, and while he was away, Feyruz took out the letter and put into the bag that which his master had given him. Then the messenger came back, and they bade each other farewell, and they parted, each going his own road. Feyruz returned to his master, who when he heard what had been done, cried, ' ' A f e r i m ! Bravo!' and was delighted. As for the messenger, he went his way, and delivered the letter to his master, Melek Muhammad. When the young man took it in his hand, and saw that the letter was from his mother, he shook his head, fearing evil. Then he read it, and put it under his mattress and was very angry; however, he called the messenger, and wrote a letter to his wife as usual, as if he had heard no evil of her, and the messenger returned with it. Now all this happened several times: each time Melek Muhammad's wife sent a letter, Feyruz substituted one purporting to have been written by her mother-in-law. The Sultan Melek Muhammad was beside himself with grief and wrath: his head became hot, and he said, 'What vileness has my wife brought upon me! M y mother cannot have looked after her. I will kill my wife out of hand!' That night, he mounted his mare and rode fast; the mare flew, dJ-di-dt! until he had reached his own town. He arrived at midnight when all were sleeping, and he knocked at the door loudly.

x74 The Merchant's Daughter Cried his mother, 'Who is it ?' Answered he, 'I! Open the door!' Said she, 'That is my son's voice!' and opened the door, crying, 'What is it? Why did you not tell us you were coming! What is it, my darling, what is the matter with you ?' But he answered her not a word, and his mother, when she saw how angry he was, trembled. H e was silent as a wall, and replied to her nothing, so she dared not question him more, but let him pass her and go up the stairs. Then he knocked at the door of the room where his wife was sleeping, and beat at it. She answered, 'Who is it ?' H e knocked again, and she opened it and cried, 'You have come! What is it? Why?' H e said not a word, but attacked her with a dagger, and stabbed her. She was unconscious (her spirit flew from her), and he took all her jewels and diamonds and ornaments, and threw them and her out into the road. It was then two o'clock of the night. There came riding by a surgeon who was returning from attendance on a Sultan who lived in another place, and he saw a woman in the road, surrounded by jewels. H e descended from his mare, and wrapped her and the jewels in his 'aba, put her on his mare, and rode with her to his house. Now this surgeon was a Jew, and clever at his craft. He called for water to be boiled, and washed her wounds, and bound them up with lint and bandages, and gave her restoratives. At last she opened her eyes, and after he had attended her for many days she recovered. She said to him, 'See, you have cured me, and I will give you all these my jewels as payment. Now, let me go. I will make you wealthy, and God is the Bountiful!' Answered he, 'You have been in my arms, and I want you, I love you, remain with me.' (For, alhelu ham1 balwyl Beauty is bane!) She gave reply, 'Never! Kill me, wound me, take all the jewels I possess, but that can never be! Loose me, and let me go!' 1

Local word for 'also', 'as well.'

The Merchant's Daughter


Said he, 'I will not loose you!' A n d he put her into the sirdab 1 and tied her with a rope, and beat her, and gave her nothing but bread and water. T w i c e a day he beat her, and gave her a bowl of water and a little barley bread, and then he locked the door and left her tied up. A l l this time, he neglected the Sultan, his patron, and at last the Sultan sent, saying, ' I f you do not attend me, I shall cut your head off.' A t that, he called his wife, and told her that while he was absent she was to continue to beat the girl he had shut in the cellar, and to give her bread and water. Ordering her to be obedient to this command, he left. N o w the wife did not know why her husband treated the girl thus, but obedient to his order, she took a stick, and some bread and water, and went to the cellar. W h e n she opened the door, the girl asked her, ' W h a t do you mean to do ?' She replied, 'I am going to beat you.' Said the girl, ' C o m e ! why beat me without reason?' Said the woman, ' M y husband told me to beat you.' Said the girl, ' D i d your husband not tell you why he beats me ? H e wished to take me and put me over your head, and I would not accept.' Said the woman, 'Suduq? T r u t h ? ' Answered the girl, ' A y e . ' T h e n said the woman, 'I will loose you.' A n d she untied the rope, and opened the door, and said, ' Y o u are free, go!' A n d the girl left the place, and walked out of the town and into the desert, walking, walking, walking, ardh

athattu, ardh atshilu, and walked and walked until she was

weary and hungry and thirsty. A t last, from afar, she saw a shepherd with a hundred head of sheep. She approached him, and when he saw her, he cried, 'From whence do you come? from the sky or the ground? W h a t do you want ?' She answered, 'I am hungry and thirsty, give me a little to eat and drink.' 1

See note, p. 63.


The Merchant"s


Said he, 'I want you!' for she was so lovely that all who saw her wished to have her for their own. Answered she, 'Good, I will be yours, but first fill my stomach, for I am hungry!' Said he, 'I am the slave of your eyes! What I have, I will give to you!' And he gave her from his pocket some bread and dates, and poured her a little water from his water-skin. Said she, 'Allah keep you! But I beg you, give me a little shenlna1 and laban ! 2 ' Answered he, 'I will go to our tent and get it, but keep your eye on the sheep.' The tent was far, and as soon as he had gone she took the bread and cheese and dates and ran away as fast as she could, leaving the sheep to disperse in the desert. She went fast and far, and at last found a cavern in the desert, and there she remained, ate and drank, then tied up her head and slept. As for the shepherd, when he returned with the laban, he saw that she had fled, and he set to work to collect the straying sheep. The next day, she walked and walked until again she was faint with hunger and thirst. At last she saw a pool of water in the distance, and went to it. Cried she, 'Praise God!' and she stopped, and washed her hands and face and drank of the water, and sat by it. As she sat, she saw a rider approaching. This rider was the Sultan's courier with a mail-bag belonging to that Sultan. Her heart said to her, 'I have saved myself from them all, how shall I rid myself of this one ?' He rode up, and greeted her and gazed at her; then he got down and tied his mare to a mulberry tree. In the saddle-bags were money and letters and food. Said he to her, 'From whence did you come? from sky or earth ?' for he too loved her at sight—she was so sweet. Said she, 'I am hungry, give me, I beg you, some food.' 1 2

Curdled milk and water, a favourite drink in 'Iraq. Curdled milk. Sweet milk is called hattb in ' I r a q : laban in E g y p t .

The Merchant's Daughter 177 He replied, 'On my eyes!' and took down his saddlebags from the mare, and took out chicken, and eggs, and bread; then he spread his head-kerchief on the ground, and set the food on it. Then they sat down and ate together, and the more he looked at her, the more he loved her. Said he, 'I want you!' She turned pale, and thought what was best to do. Then said she, 'Good. As you will. But first, you must wash and I will wash, and we will both say our prayer. After that, I will be yours.' He agreed, and took off his clothes and entered the pool, and she, pretending to amuse herself, took his clothes and said, 'Come! I will put on your clothes and be a man!' He laughed and said, 'Put them on!' Said she, 'And now I will put on the bags and mount your mare and be like a postman!' Said he, 'As you like!' She put on his clothes, and then she mounted his mare, and away she flew. Cried he, 'For the sake of Allah! stop! I will not harm you; return, or the Sultan will take off my head!' Said she, 'Never!' and off she went, and the courier remained naked and bereft in the middle of the desert. Dl, dl, dtl she and the mare flew together, until she reached a town. When she had entered it, she addressed a passer-by and asked him, 'Where shall I alight? I am a stranger.' He answered her, 'In such and such a khan.' She went to the khan, and engaged accommodation, and tied her mare and entered her room, and opened the saddle-bags. In one bag she found money and letters, and with the money she bought food in the suq, and ate. When she listened to the people in the suq, she learnt that the Sultan of that country was dead, and that they were going to make another Sultan in his place. They told her, thinking that she was a man, 'After seven days, we are all going out into the desert, and they will loose a bird bearing in his beak the Sultan's robe. Upon whose head the bird lets the robe fall, he will be Sultan.'


The Merchant's


Said she, 'I will go with the people into the desert and watch to see who is made Sultan.' And after several days she went with the crowd outside the city, where a great press of people were gathered together, walis, qadhis, muftis, ministers, all waiting there for the bird of fate. Then they loosed the bird, and it flew high and higher, and very high, like an aeroplane, and all waited and gazed and waited and gazed. Then it descended and flew around and above the crowd, and at last it dropped the Sultan's robe on the head of the girl—who was dressed in the courier's clothes. All cried, 'Who is that youth? from whence does he come ?' They answered, ' H e is a stranger and has only been in the town seven days.' Then they seized the bird, and gave him the robe again, and for a second time they loosed him and he flew up. And this time also he let fall the robe on the head of the girl, and a third time. Then all the people clapped their hands, and they played music, and put a crown on her head, and said, 'Allah has sent you to be our Sultan.' And the girl became Sultan over that city and acted with justice and ruled with wisdom, so that all the people praised her, saying, 'What a good Sultan Allah has given us!' All loved her. One day she rose, and caused an artist to come and take her likeness. Said she, 'I wish you to take my picture in women's clothes. Make four photographs of me, all alike, and then break the plate.' H e answered, 'Aye.' She retired, and put on her women's clothes, and the jewels that her husband had given her, which she had kept all this while in her pocket, and he took her picture —four copies, and no more, and these four she put up on the four gates of the city, so that all who passed in and out would see them. By each picture she placed two policemen. To these she said, 'If you hear any one

The Merchant's Daughter


addressing this likeness, seize them and bring them to me.' It was done, and after some days there came to that city the qadhi who had played her the sorry trick. When he saw the picture he was amazed, and stopped before it, and addressed it, saying, 'Where are you ? Are you alive or dead ? I would that I knew!' and the two police seized him and brought him before the Sultan. H e began to excuse himself, saying, 'I did no harm, I was looking and thought the picture pretty, and talked to it. I beg you, let me go!' Answered she, 'Kheyr! No! Take him and imprison him in a cage.' The next day her husband came to that place, for he heard the truth from his mother, and was repenting his deed, and was looking for his wife. H e saw the picture, and stayed before it, and wept and said, 'What did I do! Pardon! I did not know what I was about! Your image is always before me!' They seized him like the first and brought him to the Sultan. She knew him at once, and told them to put him into a room in the serai. Said she, 'This one has a request to make, and I will consider it presently.' The next to come and speak to the picture was the courier whose mare she had taken, and after him the shepherd, and these two she placed in prison, but when the Jewish surgeon came, him she placed in a cage, like the qadhi. She then appointed a day, and said, 'On that day I will hear the cases of these prisoners, and will judge them.' And at three o'clock of that day, there was a sitting in her diwan, and many people came to listen to the trial of the prisoners. First of all, they called the qadhi, but her husband she caused to be present so that he could hear all that took place. When the qadhi had come, she said to him, 'Tell us the truth, why did you talk with that picture ? You must tell the whole story from the beginning to the end, or I shall cut off your head.'


The Merchant's


The qadhi rose, and he told all, from the beginning to the end; how he had procured the girl through the witch, how she had treated him, and how he had revenged himself by changing the letters. And while Melek Muhammad heard, he marvelled, and said, 'Surely this is my story!' When the qadhi had finished, the Sultan turned to the assembly and said, 'What does this fellow deserve ?' Answered they,'He deserves to have his head taken off!' She summoned the executioner, and he struck with his sword: the qadhi's head flew off, and he died. Whom did she call next ? The surgeon! To him she said what she had said to the qadhi, 'Speak the truth, or lose your head.' The surgeon spoke and told her all, how he had found a girl lying in the road, and cured her of her wounds, and afterwards asked her favours, and the whole story from the beginning to the end, saying, 'Since I left her in my house I have not seen her.' The Sultan turned and asked the people, 'What does this fellow deserve ?' They answered, ' H e deserves to have his head cut off.' And his head flew off like the qadhi's. Next they called the shepherd, and he told his story, saying, 'A girl came, and I loved her, and gave her to eat, and wished to make her mine, and she asked for curds, and I went to get them and told her to mind the sheep, and when I returned she had fled.' And as he told his tale he trembled, for he saw that those before him had suffered death. But to him the Sultan said, 'You can go free!' and she told them to give him a qirsh 1 and let him depart. Next was the turn of the courier, and he too told the truth. When he had finished, the Sultan said to those about her. 'Go, fetch the mare from the stable, and the saddlebags.' 1


The Merchant's Daughter


They brought the mare and the saddle-bags, and she showed them to the courier, and said, 'Are these yours ?' Said he, 'Aye.' Said she, 'Count the money and letters, is all there?' Said he, 'All is there.' Then she said, 'Loose him too.' And they let him depart with his mare and the bags. Who remained? The girl's own husband. But she did nothing then, she said, 'Take him back to his room, and I will hear his petition later.' Melek Muhammad began to fear, thinking within himself, 'All these stories I heard at the trial concern my wife! What will happen to me when I relate my tale ?' That night, when it was midnight and all the world slept, the girl rose, put on her man's clothes, and her crown, and went to the room where her husband was and knocked at the door. Said he, 'Who is it?' She answered, 'I, the Sultan. I have come to visit you.' H e opened, and she entered and sat on the bed, and said, 'Come, sit by me!' H e did not dare, for he was afraid. But she said, 'Sit!' and he sat. Said she, 'Did you understand the stories told at the assembly to-day?' Answered he, 'Yes.' Said she, 'And what do you say ?' Said he, 'I have committed a great crime.' Said she, 'How is that, tell me.' H e answered, ' M y head was hot! and I am the son of a Sultan and my name is Melek Muhammad,' and he told her the story of himself and his wife, and how he had tried to kill her. Said the Sultan, 'I know your wife, and that she still loves none but her husband. Heard you not the tales of those men ?' H e said, 'Aye, I heard.' Said she, 'Do you know me ?' H e replied, 'No, your Highness!'


The Merchant's Daughter

Then she stood up, and threw off her Sultan's robes, and put the crown on the table. Then he knew her, and fell before her with his head on her two feet and cried, 'I did thus to you, do not the same to me!' Said she, 'Kheyr! Nay!' And she put the Sultan's robe upon him and the crown on his head, and said, 'Now we will bring your mother and my father here, and we will live in this country always, and you shall be Sultan in my place.' Kunna 'adkum wa jtna Wad daß umgarg'a wal arüs haztna Wa lo beytna qarib Kunt ajiblak tubaq hammas wa tubaq zeblb ! We came to you and went away, The tambourine makes music gay, The bride sits weeping all the day; And if our house were only near, Sweet dishes I would bring you, dear!




HERE lived in Baghdad a man called Hamad, and his wife, and they had an only child, a girl-baby, whom they named Wudayya or Little White Shell. T h e summer after the birth of their child, the woman sickened with a mortal sickness, and on her death-bed she called to her husband, bade him make her clothes and her wedding 'aba together into a bundle, and suspend the bundle by a rope from the ceiling so that it hung about the height of a tall man from the ground. H e did as she asked. Then she said to her husband, 'O, my husband, vow me a vow.' H e answered weeping, 'All that you ask I will vow to you, my beloved.' She said, 'Vow to me that you will not take another wife until our daughter has grown so high that she can touch the bundle that you have hung from the ceiling.' H a m a d vowed to his wife as she requested; then the woman died and wailing was heard in the house. Wudayya was now motherless, but her father saw to it that she was tended, and as for himself, he grieved so bitterly for his dead wife that he had no wish to take another woman. W h e n Wudayya was seven years old, he apprenticed her to a woman who taught sewing (ista al khayyata), and this woman, who was a deep schemer, showed herself so kind to the child that Wudayya began to love her. Like all the neighbours, the sewing-mistress knew of the widower's vow, and one day she called Wudayya, and standing her upon a chair, said to her: 'Oh, my darling, touch the bundle that hangs from the ceiling!'

W h e n she was stood upon the chair the child was just high enough to touch the bundle with her fingers. Then the sewing-mistress said to her, 'You are motherless, my daughter, and your father lacks a wife. W h e n he comes back to-night, say to him, " M y father, I lack a mother, and you a wife. Marry the sewing-mistress, whom I already love as a mother."'

184 Wudayya (.Little White Shell) When her father returned, the child did as she had been bidden, and repeated the words that the sewing-mistress had taught her. When she spoke thus, her father sighed and said, 'The time is not yet, my daughter. I vowed a vow to your mother that I would not marry for a second time until you had touched the bundle that hangs from the ceiling.' The child answered, 'To-day I touched it, oh my father.' The next day the widower sent his mother to the house of the sewing-mistress to make negotiations for the marriage, for he thought it was the will of God that he should remarry. In due time, the sewing-mistress was brought as a bride to the house and herself took the wedding 'aba threaded with silver1 that was in the bundle with the rest of the dead wife's possessions. Wudayya much resembled her mother in beauty and grace, and the sewing-woman, now that she was installed as lady of the house, began to be jealous of her stepdaughter. Day by day the beauty of the child increased, and day by day the hatred of the step-mother towards her grew and was bitter. She could not endure the tinkle of the bell-adorned anklets which the child wore when Wudayya ran about the house. There came a day when the man must take a journey, and the heart of the step-mother was light, for she thought that now she would have opportunity to rid herself of Wudayya. So, some days after his departure, she said to the girl, 'Put on your 'aba, we will take an arabana and drive into the desert to meet your father.' The girl gladly went with her step-mother and they set forth into the desert and drove for many miles. Then the woman said, 'Wait here while I go to see if I can espy your father.' The girl sat down as she was bidden, while the woman went away in the arabana. But instead of returning, she drove back to Baghdad, and left the girl alone in the desert, thinking that she would surely perish there. On her arrival in Baghdad, she killed a sheep and wrapped it 1 A wedding 'aba is usually of a deep puce colour, and is heavily interthreaded with silver.

Wudayya (Little White Shell)


in a shroud and buried its body and was glad to think that she had got rid of Wudayya. Meanwhile Wudayya, when she perceived that she had been abandoned, wandered about in the desert, hungry and thirsty. But God the Merciful ordered that she should find a stream at which to quench her thirst, and floating in the stream she found a loaf. So she ate and drank and was refreshed, and slept that night by the stream. In the morning she awoke, and lo, near her, coming to drink, was a wolf. Wudayya was very frightened, and seeing a tree close by she climbed into it, and called aloud for her father in these words: l

Ud'ayya ib janajilha2 U jaha ad dib yakulha ! Soda bi wijhak Hamad, ya abuya! 'Wudayya with her anklets (is here) And the wolf has come to her and will eat her, Thy face is black (with shame), Hamad! oh my father!' Now it happened that her father returned earlier than they had thought, and the place to which the child had wandered was on the road he was travelling, and he heard her voice from afar. Hastening to her, he rescued her, and when he had embraced her, she told her story. When he heard it he was amazed and angry, and said to her, 'I have here a chest in which are some rich stuffs that I was bringing to my wife as a present. Get into the chest and hide beneath the silks, and take this needle. When she who betrayed you opens the box, prick her with the needle on her hand.' So the girl got into the chest, and it was strapped to the mule again, and they came to Baghdad. When Hamad arrived at his house, his wife met him with a sober face and told him that Wudayya was dead. 1 The reversal of syllables used vulgarly in Baghdad is seen in Wudayya's verse. Bi becomes ib, Wudayya—ud'ayya, and so forth. 2 Janajil are anklets of silver with little bells attached. They are often worn by children, so that their mothers know by the tinkling where they have strayed.





Wudayya {Little White Shell)

The man feigned great grief, and then said, 'Didst call in our friends for the mourning ?' The woman answered, 'No. I told no one. The girl died in the night and I was afraid, so I buried her. I will show you the tomb.' And she took him to where she had buried the sheep and pretended to shed tears of sorrow. Her husband said, 'This will be shame upon us! Inform our friends and call them to the house that we may make 'azza 1 for my daughter.' So she sent to all their friends, and in the meantime he told his wife that he had brought her a chcst filled with enbroideries and silks. All eager to see them, she had the chest brought up, and opened it in the presence of her husband, thrusting in her hands to pull out the stuff. When she did so, Wudayya, who was within, pricked her finger, and when the woman shrieked, her husband bade her see what was in the chest. When she looked, lo! Wudayya was inside. The step-mother was astounded and frightened, and then her husband took her to the cemetery and forced her to open the grave. When it was open, and the shroud undone, within it was revealed the dead body of a sheep. When the mulla arrived to read prayers for the dead, and their neighbours were assembled for the mourning, the man told all the company of the evil behaviour of the woman, and all agreed that she had deserved death. However, he contented himself with pronouncing the threefold divorce, and the woman departed with shame from the house and never returned. (At the end of this story, the relator pronounced the moral, 'This story is a proof of the trickery of women!') 1

An 'azza is the general gathering of friends to bewail the deceased.




HERE was once a couple who had an only child, a daughter, of whom they were very fond. In time the mother died, leaving her cow to her daughter, and the father married again, his second wife bringing him another daughter. T h e two girls grew up together, but the stepmother did not love the first wife's child and made her life very difficult. Now the orphaned girl discovered that the cow which her mother had left her had a wonderful gift. If she gave it cotton to eat, it returned it all spun. This she took to the Suq al Ghazl, the Market of the Spinners, and sold it. Each day the girl took the cow into the desert, and there the cow spun her cotton. T h e step-mother was angered with the girl for her absences, and said to her husband, 'That girl takes her cow every day and goes off into the desert. You must kill the cow!' Answered the father, 'Khatiya! T h a t would be a sin! T h e girl has done nothing evil, and the cow was left to her by her mother. W h a t good would it do if I were to kill it ?' And he refused. One day, when the girl was in the desert, two pieces of the cotton which the cow was spinning for her flew away on the wind, and the girl ran after them till they reached a cave, before which there ran a water-channel, and in this cave was a s'iluwa 1 milling flour between two stones, her teats thrown backwards over her shoulder, after the fashion of the s'iluwat. T h e girl picked up some of the flour which had fallen out, and sucked some of the s'iluwa's milk. T h e s'iluwa turned round and said: ' H a d I seen you before you had drunk of my milk and eaten of my flour, I should have made one mouthful of you, but as it is, you are my daughter. Now, I wish to 1

See Preface, p. xi.

18 8 The Poor Girl and Her Cow sleep at the mouth of the cave. I will put my head on your lap, and you can take the lice from my head, and all that you catch, bite them up!' The girl looked this way and that, and she spied some loose grains of corn lying about, and she picked up a handful of them. Then the s'iluwa reclined, and put her head on the girl's lap, and said, 'If the water runs white, rouse me, If it runs yellow, rouse me, But if it runs black, do not rouse me.' Answered the girl, 'As you order, my mother, sleep!' And the s'iluwa slept, and the girl began to pluck the lice out of her head, and what a lot of horrid creatures they were! Black, white, large, small! From time to time the girl put the wheat into her mouth and said, 'How sweet your lice are, my mother! I am enjoying them.' Presently, she saw that the water in the channel ran white, and she roused the s'iluwa, saying, 'The water is white!' Said the s'iluwa, 'Rise, go and wash in the water.' The girl did as the s'iluwa told her, and when she came out of the water, subhan Allah! she was as fair as the morning! The girl returned, and the s'iluwa slept again with her head on her lap, while the girl picked the lice from her head. Presently the channel ran yellow, and she roused the s'iluwa and told her, 'The water runs yellow!' The s'iluwa said, 'Rise, go and dip your head in it.' The girl dipped her head in the water, as she was bid, and when she lifted her head and shook the water from it, her hair was yellow as kalabdun, 1 glittering like gold, and so long that it reached her knees. But when the girl saw it, she was afraid, and said to the s'iluwa, 'Alas, why have you done this to me ? When she sees me, my step-mother will ask me what I have been doing and will perhaps be angry with me.' 1 The gold wire used in embroidering 'abas, especially round the neck, and at the edges.

The Poor Girl and Her Cow 189 Said the s'iluwa, 'Tie up your head in a rag and go back. Do not fear! Your step-mother will kill your cow.' When she heard that, the girl began to cry. And the s'iluwa said, 'Do not eat of its flesh, but put the bones and skin and all that remains of the cow into a bag, and go to the place where she spins cloth from the cotton, and bury the bag there and leave it there for forty days. At the end of that time, take it out, and whatever you find in the bag is yours.' So the girl left the cave and returned to her cow and drove it back to her father's house. When she saw her, the step-mother began to abuse her and revile her, saying, 'Where have you been ? Why have you dallied so long ? You bring shame on us. I shall tell your father, and ask him to kill your cow.' The girl began to weep, but the step-mother went to the father and said, 'Your daughter is always gadding and gives the excuse of her cow. So now you must slaughter it.' The father said, 'Khatiya! That would be a sin! M y daughter loves her cow, and it was the gift of her mother who is dead.' Said the step-mother, 'Either you kill it, or I leave the house.' So the father rose, and went to the cow and slaughtered it, and skinned it, and cleaned it, and threw the head and skin and hoofs and entrails away. Then the step-mother cooked the meat, but the girl refused to eat of it. They said to her, 'Eat, eat! The flesh is good.' She said, 'Never! I will not eat of the cow!' And she went secretly, and put the skin and bones and head and tail and feet and entrails into a bag, and took it out into the desert, and buried it in the place where her cow used to graze and spin her cotton. Then she returned to the house, and every day she wept about the cow. One day she wished to comb her hair, so she went on the roof, and took off the rag about her head and combed it. The step-mother came out to see what she was doing


The Poor Girl and Her Cow

on the roof, and the girl's hair was streaming out like the rays of the sun, and shining like gold. Said the step-mother, 'How did you get your hair like that?' Answered the girl, 'It was the s'iluwa,' and she told her how she had followed the two pieces of cotton to the s'iluwa's cave, and all that had happened to her there. The step-mother said, 'Go, return to the cave, and take my daughter with you to the s'iluwa, and ask her to make my girl's hair like yours.' So the girl went with her step-sister, and on the road she told her all that had happened, so that the girl might know what to do. The other girl was stupid, and she said, 'I cannot remember all this!' When they came to the cave, the second girl did as her sister had told her, and ate of the flour on the ground, and sucked the s'iluwa's milk from the dugs that hung over her shoulder. Then the s'iluwa turned and said to her, 'Child of Adam, if you had not drunk of my milk and eaten of my flour, and become my daughter, I should have made one mouthful of you.' Then she said as she had said to the first girl, 'Sit by the mouth of the cave, and I will put my head in your lap so that you may pick out the lice while I am asleep.' The girl sat down, and the s'iluwa put her head in her lap, and the girl began to pick out the lice. But when she saw what was in the s'iluwa's hair, she began to scream, and said, 'What creatures! I am afraid.' Then the s'iluwa said, 'If the channel runs black do not rouse me, If the channel runs yellow, rouse me, If the channel runs white, rouse me.' Then she went to sleep. Presently, the girl, who had not listened well to what she said, roused her, saying, 'The channel has run black.' 1

Repetition of story here.

The Poor Girl and Her Cow 191 The s'iluwa answered, 'Rise, go and wash your head in it.' The girl rose, and went and plunged her head into the water. And when she withdrew it, there were two black horns on her head! The s'iluwa said, 'Did I not tell you "do not rouse me if the water is black".' And she sent the girl away, and the two sisters returned weeping, and the younger uglier than before. When the step-mother saw her daughter, she was very angry and asked what had happened. Said the first girl, 'It was not my fault, I told her what to do.' Said the second, 'She told me, but I forgot.' The step-mother was angrier than ever, and said to her own daughter, 'You owl! Why did you not listen!' Now the elder girl was counting the days, and dt, di, dt! they passed, until it was the fortieth. Then she went into the desert and dug in the place where she had buried the bag. When she had uncovered it and opened it, what did she see! The skin had become an 'aba all embroidered with gold, the tail had become a dress of silk, and the bones and the rest were changed into jewellery, each bone a piece; chains of pearls, bracelets, and precious stones, and amongst the rest were a pair of clogs set with diamonds and emeralds. Never was there such an outfit in all the world! The girl was so delighted that she put on her finery and admired herself in the brook, and when she had pleasured herself enough, she took them off", and put them in the bag, and buried them again. Then she returned to her house in her old clothes. Every day she returned to the place, and put on her finery and looked at herself in the brook, and then took it off and returned home. One day when she was so arrayed and adorned, there came by the son of the Sultan, whose house was near that place, and he watched her. When she had finished adorning herself, she changed her clothes, and folded up her


The Poor Girl and Her Cow

'aba and jewellery, and hid them in the sack and buried them. But as she was hiding them she saw that some one was looking, and in her haste she forgot one clog, which slipped into the brook. When she had gone, the Sultan's son called a servant, and said, 'In the brook there is a clog, go into the water and get it.' The servant went into the brook and searched for it, and found it. H e wrapped it up and brought it to the Sultan's son. When the Sultan's son saw it, he exclaimed, 'What a clog! Such a fine one I have never seen.' Then he went to his mother and said to her, ' M y mother, I wish to marry the owner of this clog.' His mother answered, 'Good, my son.' She took a slave, and she went into the town, and she tried at one house after another, but the clog fitted no girl: for one it was too long, for another too short, for another too broad, and for another too narrow. At last she came to the house where the two sisters lived; it was the last house. When she knew that the Sultan's wife had come to find a bride for her son, the step-mother took her stepdaughter, and put her in the oven,1 and shut the cover down on her; but her own daughter she adorned, and dressed in fine clothes. When the Sultan's wife saw her, she said, 'Is this your only daughter?' The woman answered, 'Aye, I have no other, this is the only girl.' And the girl in the oven cried out, 'Oh, oh, oh, Fatma Khan! My feet stick out of the hole.' The step-mother cried angrily, 'Hush! Hush!' 1 One type of 'Iraqi oven resembles a large clay amphora without handles, and is heated by wood burnt inside it. When it is hot, the flat rounds of bread are plastered to the sides. Sometimes a square oven is built, with a hole beneath it, and the jar-like oven above the hole, so that it can be heated from below. The oven of the story must have been this kind. Beduins make a large hole with smoothened sides in the ground, and use this as their oven. In each case the bread is slapped flat and round and then plastered to the hot sides of the oven.

The Poor Girl and Her Cow 193 The Sultan's wife said, 'Who is that? Let her speak.' The girl cried out again, 'Oh, oh, oh! Fatma Khan, my feet are sticking out.' Said the Sultan's wife, 'I think there is a girl in the oven.' Said the step-mother, 'No—that is a cat.' Said the Sultan's wife, 'No, but I hear her,' and she went to the oven, and there were the girl's feet sticking out. So she opened the oven and bade her come out. Said the Sultan's wife, 'Put the clog on the foot of this one.' And the girl put the clog on her foot, and it fitted perfectly, as a ring fits on a finger. Then the Sultan's wife said, 'I will take this one for my son.' And they called the mulla and made the betrothal and there was a marriage for seven days and for seven nights.




HERE was once a Sultan who died leaving an only son, aged about fifteen. The youth's mother came to him, and said to him, 'Take a wife, so that I may rejoice in you!' but he would not accept. One day the young man went out to hunt, accompanied by his slave, and they came to a brook. The prince stooped to drink, and as he did so, his eye fell on a piece of paper lying beside the brook. H e lifted it, and gazed at it, and straightway his spirit left him for a time, and he was unconscious. Said the slave to his master, when he had returned to himself, 'O my master, what is it? What ails you ?' Answered the youth, 'Take me back to the palace, for I shall not hunt to-day.' They returned, and the prince's mother cried to him when she saw him, 'How now! How quickly you have returned from your hunting!' The prince said to her, ' M y mother, do you wish me to marry ?' She answered, 'Aye.' H e said, 'Then I will marry the original of this picture,' and he showed her the paper, for it was a picture that he had found lying on the ground. Said the mother, 'Oh, my son, your paternal uncle has seven daughters, will you not espouse one of them ?' Answered the youth, ' M y cousins are all ugly: and unless I can marry the original of this portrait, I will marry no one.' The mother was distracted, but she answered, 'Good!' and the next day she went out with a slave, and inquired from door to door if the original of the portrait lived there, but found her not. Everywhere she looked and inquired, but she met no one who had seen the original of the picture.

The Prince and Daughter of the Thorn-seller 195 Said the mother, 'In the town there is no girl to compare with the beauty of this portrait: I will go out into the chol.' So she fared forth into the desert, and in time she met a maiden who saluted her and asked her, 'O blbl, why have you come out into the desert, why have you travelled so far from the town ?' Answered the mother, 'I have come to search for the original of this portrait, for my son is sick of longing for her, and will marry none other.' Said the girl, 'O blbl, you have reached your goal! In yonder house lives a thorn-seller, with three daughters. The eldest is the original of the portrait, the middle sister is even sweeter than she, and as for the third, when you see her, your understanding will fly from you and you will lose all knowledge of your surroundings.' Said the queen, 'Truth ?' Answered the maiden, 'Yes, blbl, there is the door, go, and you will find her whom you seek.' The mother went to the door and knocked and the thorn-seller's wife opened, and bade her welcome, 'Deign to enter!' and gave her a mattress to sit on. Then the woman called her eldest daughter, saying, 'Our guest is tired, bring her water.' The girl came with water, and the dame looked at her and then at the picture, and lo! it was the two halves of a bean! Then the woman called to her second daughter, and bade her bring sherbet, and when the dame saw the second girl she perceived that she was even lovelier than the first. Then the woman called her youngest daughter, and told her to bring the coffee, and when the dame perceived this third daughter, she was rapt out of herself, and exclaimed, 'Can such beauty exist in this world!' and she could not endure to look at the girl, being abashed in the presence of such loveliness, for the girl might have said to the moon, 'Absent yourself, and I will shine in your place.' Then the dame opened her mind to the thorn-seller's wife, and said, 'I have an only son, and I have come to betroth your daughter to him.'

196 The Prince and Daughter of the Thorn-seller Replied the thorn-seller's wife, 'I and my daughters are before you! Take which of us you wish!' Said the dame, 'I will take the youngest! Do not give her gear or presents, for I will give her all that she needs, and she shall be adorned with pearls and diamonds and gold. After fifteen days, when I have arranged the house, and prepared a wedding feast, and bought her clothes, and invited the guests, I will send for the girl.' Said the thorn-seller's wife, 'As you command!' And the dame returned to the palace, where her son was awaiting her. Said he, 'Ha, did you find the owner of this picture ?' Answered his mother, 'I have found her! I went into the desert, and to the house of a thorn-seller, and this picture is of his eldest daughter. The second is even lovelier than she, and as for the third, the youngest daughter, she is so exquisite that when I saw her my senses left me and I swooned away.' Said the prince, 'Suduq? Truth?' Answered she, 'Aye! And I shall call the mulla and betroth you to the youngest of the three.' The next day the mother began her preparations: she called a painter and told him to paint the house, and a carpenter, and told him to make furniture, and a flocker and told him to flock a mattress, and the servants she told to clean the house and spread carpets and prepare for a feast. From the jeweller she ordered jewels, and from the robe-makers dresses, and from the 'aba-makers, 'abas. The wedding-chamber was complete by the end of the fortnight, and guests were invited for the coming of the bride. How pleased she was that her son was to marry! The day came when the bride was to arrive, and when she came to the house, all the guests were astonished at the beauty of the girl, one gazing after the other, and crying, 'Was there ever such a lovely creature!' The prince went to the hammam with his slave, and as he was returning, he had to pass beneath the windows1 of 1


jutting out







The Prince and Daughter oj the Thorn-seller 197 his uncle's daughters. They saw him, and began to talk as if they knew not that he could hear them. Said the eldest, 'Did you see our cousin's bride ?' Said the second, 'Yes, and never did I behold such ugliness!' Said the third, 'She is crooked!' Said the fourth, 'She is blind!' Said the fifth, 'She is black!' Said the sixth, 'Her nose is awry (kachma).' Said the seventh, 'She has no teeth.' The young man stopped and heard what they were saying, and he said within himself, ' M y cousins seem to have had a glimpse of the bride as she passed by, and I fear that my mother has deceived me. M y bride is not the beauty that she led me to expect, but as ugly as they have said!' And he was very angry, and sent his slave to the palace with this message to his mother: 'You have brought a bride hither, marry her to whom you will, I will have none of her!' and he went to his country house 1 without the town and came not to the palace where the wedding guests were assembled and the bride waiting. The slave went to the palace, and going to the prince's mother, he said to her, 'My master says, "You have brought a bride to the house, marry her to whom you wish, for I will have none of her!" and he has gone to his country house in anger.' The prince's mother was greatly troubled, and asked the slave, 'With whom did he speak? Whom has he seen?' The slave replied, 'He has spoken with none.' She did not know what she should do, for the guests were there, and the music was playing, and a feast being prepared, and the bride ready in her chamber. She knew lattices. This type of window is common in Baghdad, and is especially for the use of women, who can see without being seen. 1 qasr is the term used for a large house: it does not mean castle, as it is sometimes translated.

198 The Prince and Daughter of the Thorn-seller her son's nature, and that when he was angry he was so obstinate that nothing would change his mind, so she said nothing, but returned to the guests and told them, ' M y son will come afterwards,' and did not let them know that which had passed. When all had gone, she went to the bride and said, ' M y daughter, my son is angry with me, and perhaps he will not come to you to-night! Tomorrow, if God wills! And you, go, take off your clothes, and go to bed.' The girl did as she had said: she took off her clothes, and folded them, and that night she slept alone. The next day it was the same, the prince remained in his house, and the bride and her mother-in-law in the palace, and so it was the second day, the third day, the first week, the first month, one year, three years! And all the while his mother knew nothing of what had angered him. Now one day the son of a neighbouring Sultan was to be married, and his mother and relatives sent to the palace to invite the ladies to be present. According to the custom of that country, a guest to a wedding must spend seven days with the hosts, and the prince's mother wished to go to the marriage. But her daughter-in-law could not go, for a bride may not visit a bride: it is shame.1 So the woman said to her daughter-in-law, ' M y daughter, I am invited to a wedding, and am obliged to leave you here alone. I shall pray to Allah that my son may be appeased and reconciled to us! And as for you, stay here: here are the keys of the house, open whatever you like, and amuse yourself as best you can, and after seven days I shall return. Perhaps my visit may bring us better fortune.' Answered the bride, 'Go, my mother, go! Do not trouble about me!' So the mother-in-law took her road, and the bride was alone in the house. 1 It brings ill fortune to both, and magic must be employed to undo the evil. I shall give the details of the charm in a future book, as they are too lengthy for a foot-note.

A street in Baghdad with jutting windows ('shenashil)

Spinning cotton.

T h e clay ovens are being dried in the sun before being baked

The Prince and Daughter of the Thorn-seller 199 The next day the girl called her groom, and said to him, 'Can you keep a secret?' Answered the groom, 'Yes, lady, whatever you wish!' Said she, 'I will enrich you, and Allah is the Bountiful! What I ask is this, go and get me a handsome mare, the finest mare that you can find.' Said he, 'On my eyes and head!' and departed and brought the mare. Then she opened a chest, and took out a rich zibun, 1 an 'aba, an embroidered belt, and a handsome fina, 2 and a purse of gold, and she put on these male clothes, and put the purse in her bosom. When she was ready, Subhan Allah ar rabb, al khaliq Wal khaliq ahsan ! Praise to God, the Lord, the Creator, H e who creates is better than his creation! she was a youth so exquisite, that as she rode the mare through the streets, the passers-by gazed bemused and could not take their eyes from her. Said one to the other, 'What sweetness! What beauty!' So she came to the house of the prince, and knocked at the garden gate. Cried the gardener, 'Who is it ?' Answered the girl, Ana khashab al azhar Kul men yashufni yiskar Shedda warid asfar U bi ghazi3 dhahab ahmar 'A spray of blossom is this elf {lit. am I), Who sees me straight forgets himself (lit. becomes intoxicated), (O you who in this garden delve,) For yellow flowers, here's golden pelf.' The gardener opened the gate, and when he saw the beautiful youth, he was as if intoxicated, and he gathered the bunch of yellow flowers which the youth asked of him. 1 3

See note, p. 148. Ghazi is a small gold coin.


Skull-cap, of red felt.

200 The Prince and Daughter of the Thorn-seller Whilst he was so employed, the youth rode his mare backwards and forwards amongst the flowers, slashing at them with his stick, and treading them underfoot. Then he came back to the gardener, took the bouquet, threw him a handful of gold, and left. The Sultan's son looked out of the window of the harem and saw that there was havoc in the garden. Roses lay here, and lilies there. He called the gardener and said to him, 'Gardener! What is this? Who has done this to the garden ? And where were you ?' Answered the gardener, 'Oh, Sultan! My son was sick, and I went to him. H e died and I had to bury him, and when I got back the garden was as you see!' The young man said, 'Put the garden straight,' and the gardener worked and swept the paths, and put the flowerbeds in order, and watered it, and did all he could to repair the damage. The next day the girl called to the groom, 'Go, bring the mare as before,' and when he had brought it, she dressed herself in man's clothes and rode through the town until she came to her husband's house. There she knocked at the garden gate, and the gardener cried, 'Who is it, who?' She answered, 'A spray of blossom is this elf, Who sees me straight forgets himself, Oh, you who in this garden delve, For yellow flowers, here's golden pelf.' The gardener opened the door, and he went to pick her the flowers she asked, while she, as before, rode hither and thither over the flowers, striking them down with her stick and trampling them under her mare's feet. Then she went to the gardener, took the flowers, threw him a handful of gold, and went. Then the Sultan's son looked out of the window, and saw the garden in worse case than ever, such havoc had been wrought, and he was furious and sent for the gardener.

The Prince and Daughter of the Thorn-seller


Said he, 'Dog! Son of a dog! Come here, you accursed one! Who is dead to-day? Is it your mother?' Answered the gardener, 'Sultan! Give me your judgement and mercy!' He said, 'Speak!' Spoke the gardener, 'For the past two days, there comes to this garden a youth, such a youth! Sweet, sweet, sweet! From the day I was born never have I clapped eyes on such beauty! He comes and knocks at the door and says,

"Ana khashab al azhar Kul men yashufni yiskar Shedda warid asfar U bi ghazi dhahab ahmar!" and when I open to him, and pluck him flowers, he rides his mare over the garden and makes havoc as you have seen.' Asked the prince, 'Why did you not tell me this yesterday?' Answered the gardener, 'O Sultan, I was afraid, and I thought he might not come another day!' Said the prince, 'If he comes to-morrow, tell him, " H i s highness wants you," and if you do not bring him before me, you shall lose a hand!' Answered the gardener, 'Good.' The third day the girl called the groom as before, and bade him bring the mare, and when he had brought it, she donned man's clothes and rode through the streets to her husband's home. There she knocked at the door, and when the gardener asked, 'Who is it?' she answered with the same verse. He opened to her, then he ran and told his master, 'The boy has come!' The prince followed him, and when he saw the lad, astonishment overcame him, and he cried: 'Does this world possess such loveliness?' and he embraced him, and said, 'You are my guest, welcome!' and was undone and amazed by the boy's beauty, and led him to his diwan. 3800 D d

202 The Prince and Daughter of the Thorn-seller There he plied him with sweets, and jam, and sherbet, and coffee, fondling him and endearing him, and saying to him, 'Come every day, we will amuse ourselves together!' Answered the lad, 'Good, gladly will I come! But I ask your pardon for that I did to your garden!' Said the prince, 'I and my garden and the gardener are at your feet, do with us as you will. Only come here every day and amuse yourself with us.' The boy asked after a little, 'Do you know how to play chess ?' Replied the prince, 'Yes, I know.' Said the lad, ' W e will play, you and I, but on a condition.' Said the prince, 'Your pleasure! What is it ?' Said he, 'If I win, make a feast for me in your palace!' Answered the prince, 'I do not go more to the palace, for I have quarrelled with my mother, but for your sake I will do what you ask!' They played chess, dl, di, dt! and at last the lad won, but in moving a piece, he managed to scratch his finger. So enamoured was the prince of his guest that he took off the costly embroidered shawl which was round his waist, and tore off a piece to bind the finger, and wrapped it round tenderly. Great was his love for him! A t last the lad said, ' M y people will wonder where I am tarrying, I must return.' Said the prince, 'It is early, and I cannot endure to part with you!' Answered the boy, ' I have been long away, and must return.' Said the prince, 'This night you are invited to my palace, will you come ?' Replied the lad, ' I will come, why should I not come? Gladly! This night I will come to you!' A n d the prince walked with him to the door of the garden, entreating him, and watched him till he was out of sight, for indeed he was like a madman for love of the

The Prince and Daughter of the Thorn-seller



and could think of nothing else. As for the lad, the bride in disguise, when she returned, she took her man's clothes off, and gave a handful of gold to the groom. This. And as for the mother-in-law, who was at the wedding, she had told the women there of her trouble, and they had comforted her, saying, 'Allah is the Opener! He is the Merciful! Perhaps our wedding will bring you good fortune.' And the mother sighed and said, ' M y son is obstinate, but, min saa ila saa farj! (78) But hourly God works deliverance!' As for her son, he called his slave, and said 'Feyruz! Go to my palace, and tell my mother that there will be a feast at the palace to-night. They must prepare the dishes and make all ready!' When he heard that, the slave was delighted, and rejoiced, and ran until he reached the door of the palace. There he knocked and cried, ' M y lady, my lady! M y master has sent me to say that there will be a party tonight in this house.' They answered him, 'Our mistress is away at a wedding!' and they told him where to find her, saying, 'Go, tell her!' The slave went to the other Sultan's house and knocked at the door, and when he saw his lady, he cried, ' M y lady, my lady, my master wishes to make a party to-night in the house, and wishes you to see that everything is ready!' How the mother rejoiced! Her joy was immense! and the ladies her friends said, 'Did we not tell you our wedding would bring you luck!' She went quickly to the house, and sent for the cook, and told the servants to kill and prepare a lamb, and geese, and ducks, and chickens, and turkeys, and to make pilaus,2 * Said the narrator, parenthetically, in explanation, 'Allah yahibb al helu! God loves the beautiful!' 2 A dish of meat or chicken cooked in melted butter with rice, almonds, and sultana raisins.


The Prince and Daughter of the Thorn-seller

and 'bitter-sweet',1 and every dish and sweetmeat necessary for a feast. Then she said to the bride, 'Go to the bath, and put on your wedding dress, for your husband is coming.' And they set tables, and decorated the rooms. When all was ready, the bride sat in the marriage chamber adorned with jewels and diamonds—she and the letrlk shone together in the room! Dl! At two hours after sunset the Sultan's son came from his house, and walked up and down on the upper terrace2 waiting impatiently for the boy. In his walking he passed by the bridal chamber, but thought not of his bride. Presently as he passed he heard a sound of moaning, and at last he cried, 'Is there pain? Does your heart pain you ?' Answered the bride from within, 'There is pain. And he tore his shawl and bound my finger!' He understood her words, and opened the door, crying, 'Allah, was it she ?' And when he beheld her, his understanding fled from him, and he fell at her feet, crying, 'Was it you ?' She answered him, ' M y husband, why have you kept me imprisoned and alone these three years ?' Then there were wedding festivities for seven days and seven nights, and guests were entertained, and the drums beat, and the music played. And the bridegroom cried, 'O all you who love me and wish my presence, bring straw and bitumen and oil, and put them in the stable cistern!' They brought them, and then he caused his cousins to be fetched thither, and put them into the cistern with the bitumen and oil, and burnt them all alive. 1

A Turkish dish, a meat stew with sweet dried fruit, cooked together. The tarma is the gallery which runs round the upper story above the courtyard. 2



were once three brothers, called Uhdeydan, Uch'eyban, and Unkheylan (Little Iron, Little Knucklebone, and Little Bran). One day they said to each other, 'Come, let us build ourselves houses.' Said Little Iron, 'I will build my house of iron, and the door of iron.' Said Little Knucklebone, 'I will build my house of knucklebones, and the door of knucklebones.' Said Little Bran, 'I will build my house of bran, and the door of bran.' And each brother built himself a house and lived in it. Now a s'iluwa 1 lived near them, and one day, feeling hungry, she came to eat them up. First she went to the house of Little Bran, and cried outside his door. 'Little Bran, Little Bran, open your door, I have come to give you a treat!' But Little Bran knew her voice, and he called out: 'Futi! adurrati, u dam adurrati Inshaqqi wa atkhaiyatil (Untranslatable abuse) Go away! . . . Tear yourself And sew yourself up again!' HERE

The s'iluwa said ' O h ! You talk like that, do you!' and she blew at the door. The bran flew in all directions, and she went in, ate him up, and went away. The next day she felt hungry again, and so she went to Little Knucklebone's house, and knocked at his door, crying, 'Little Knucklebone, Little Knucklebone, open your door so that I may come in and give you a treat!' 1

See Preface, p. xi.


Uhdeydan, TJck eyban, and Unkheylan

Little Knucklebone answered, 'Go away. . . . Tear yourself and sew yourself up again! W h y should I open the door for you to come in and eat me up ?' Said the s'iluwa, 'Truth ?' and she butted with her head at the door. It fell down, and she entered, ate him all up, and returned to her home. The third day she went to Little Iron's 1 house, and she said, 'Little Iron, Little Iron, I am invited to the Sultan's house! Come with me: there is a wedding there, and there will be a feast, with lots of good things!' Little Iron replied, like his brothers, 'Go a w a y . . . . Tear yourself and sew yourself up again! Y o u want to eat me! Go you to the Sultan's palace, but I won't come with you!' The s'iluwa left his house, and went to the Sultan's palace. She seated herself near the door, and began to eat the bones and dirt that they threw out into the road. Little Iron had followed her, and hid close by. When she was not looking, he took up a big bone that had been thrown out on to the road, and hurled it at the s'iluwa's head. The blood ran down her face, and she licked it with her tongue and said, ' H o w good this blood tastes! A h ! Little Iron's blood will taste like this!' Little Iron burst out laughing, and ran back to his house and locked the door securely. After a little she returned to Little Iron's house and began to wail outside the door, 'Little Iron, Little Iron! I've been to the Sultan's house, to the wedding feast, and I've eaten kubbeh, 2 and lamb and turkey and pilau, 3 kebab and many other good things and succulent dishes. Come! There is still some for you!' H e replied, 'Off with you! Off with you! Y o u have been eating refuse outside the Sultan's palace, and I threw a bone at you which made your forehead bleed, and you said, as you licked your own blood, " H o w good Little Iron's blood will taste!"' 1 Iron, and even the utterance of the word iron (hadld) is supposed to rob the jinni world of their power. See notes on 'The Crystal Ship', pp. 293-4. 2 3 See note 2, p. 3. See p. 203.

TJhdeydan, TJck eyban, and TJnkheylan l


The s'iluwa cried Eya bal It was you who threw it? It was you ?' Little Iron said, 'Aye, it was I ? so off with you!' She went, but the next day she returned and knocked at his door, and said, 'Little Iron, Little Iron! I am invited to the Sultan's garden to eat fruit. There are mulberries there, quinces, apples, grapes—every fruit that can be found in the world is in his garden. Come with me, and we will eat our fill!' Little Iron said, 'Go away, eat your fruit, I am not going with you.' So she took her way, and fetched her daughter, (for she had a daughter), and went to the Sultan's orchard. Little Iron disguised himself, and went quickly to the orchard after them. It was as the s'iluwa had said, there was fruit of every kind in the orchard, melons and watermelons and the rest, but the gardeners would not allow the s'iluwa to eat of the fruit on the trees. So she and her daughter crept about eating the rotten fruit and the peel which had been thrown away. Little Iron watched her from a distance. Then he took a very large water-melon, cut it in half, scooped out the fruit, got inside it, and put the other half on top of him, so that it looked like whole fruit. When the s'iluwa espied this big melon lying beneath the trees, she cried to her daughter to come and carry it home. The s'iluwa's daughter came, and tied the big melon up in her 'aba, and put it on her head. Then she and her mother set out for their house. On the road, Little Iron wished to make water, and he did so. The s'iluwa's daughter cried, 'O my mother, O my mother, Little Iron has made water on me!' But the s'iluwa answered, 'Pass on, pass on! Little Iron is in his house, how could he make water upon you ? If Allah pleases, one day we shall eat him.' They went on, the s'iluwa's daughter grumbled to her mother, 'How heavy this melon is!' When they reached their house, the s'iluwa said to her


TJhdeydan, TJch'eyban, and TJnkheylan

daughter, 'Go and wash that water-melon, for we shall eat it for supper.' The girl opened her 'aba, and took out the melon, and as she was about to cut it, out sprang Little Iron! The s'iluwa's daughter cried to her mother, 'There! Didn't I tell you that Little Iron had made water upon me?' H o w glad they were that they had got Little Iron at last! They seized him and held him and the s'iluwa said, 'Now we will eat you up! M y daughter will have one half of you, and I the other half!' Little Iron said, 'You would be foolish to eat me now! See how thin I am—there is hardly any flesh on my bones. Keep me for a week, and fatten me up, then I shall be worth eating!' The s'iluwa said, ' A y e ! Truth! We'll leave him a little.' H e r daughter said, 'Don't leave him, you had better kill him now.' But the s'iluwa wished to fatten him, so she kept him tied up. A t the end of three days, she said, ' I am going to the garden of the Sultan to get a few vegetables to eat with Little Iron when we stew him. M a k e ready a pot of water, and let it boil, and when it is boiling, throw Little Iron into the pot and let him cook. Then you and I will eat him.' T h e daughter answered her, 'Aye.' When the s'iluwa had gone, her daughter went and brought the big pot, and lit a fire, and set the pot over it. After a while the water began to boil, and she went to Little Iron and brought him to it. Little Iron said, 'Before you put me in the pot, let me put on your clothes, and you mine! I want to see if I am like you in your clothes, though you are a handsome girl.' She agreed, and they changed clothes. H e said to her, 'Now I am really a little like you, handsome as you are!' Then he said to her, 'Now throw me in the pot, but first see that the water boils, for I want to die quickly.' She said, ' A y e ! ' and went to look in the pot. A s she


TJck eyban, and TJnkheylan


did so he seized her from behind, and threw her into the pot. Then he sat down and waited for the s'iluwa. Presently she came to the door, and cried, ' M y darling! M y dear!' Little Iron answered, 'Yes, mother.' Said the s'iluwa, 'Have you boiled Little Iron ?' Said he, 'Aye, mother, I have boiled him.' Said the s'iluwa, 'Then bring bread, so that we can put the meat upon it and eat, for I am very hungry.' She sat down, and he went to the pot, and put on the bread a slice of the head, with the ear attached, and set it in front of her, and then he went off and hid on the roof. The s'iluwa had only taken a mouthful or two before she bit on something hard, and she spat it on to her hand, and saw the ear-ring of her daughter. She cried, 'What is this! This is my daughter! Woe, woe! I have eaten some of my daughter's head!' She began to mourn and mourn and rushed on to the roof to make hosa,1 and acquaint the world with her grief. But when she reached the roof, she burst—Boom! with her grief, and that was the end of her. As for Little Iron, he went and took his way to his own little iron house. 1 A n outcry. The word is also used in a joyful sense, as when tribesmen come to the shrines on pilgrimage, and dance and chant in the streets.





HERE was once a ruler who had two wives. T h e one bore him thirty-nine children, but the other only one, and all the forty were sons. T h e thirty-nine were not clever, and not very amiable, but the fortieth and youngest, whose name was Melek M u h a m m a d , was unusually intelligent and quick, and the ruler loved him more than all his brothers. T i m e was, and these forty children grew u p and became marriageable, but their father, who had grown very old, made no arrangement to marry them. So one day the elder brothers said to Melek M u h a m m a d , 'Go you, as our father loves you so much, and say to him, " M y brothers wish to get married. Give each his portion, so that he may take a w i f e . " ' Melek M u h a m m a d did as they asked, and said, 'Baba, my brothers wish to get married, but they have no portion wherefrom to endow the bride.' T h e King said, ' T r u t h . I will divide my kingdom and give to each his inheritance now, so that he can marry.' So he divided his property, and gave each brother his portion, saying, 'Go and get married.' T o Melek M u h a m mad he gave nothing, because he had asked nothing. T h e n the brothers made u p their minds to go out into the world, and Melek M u h a m m a d , too, thought that he would travel. So each set out into the ch5l, the brothers together, and Melek M u h a m m a d by himself. Melek M u h a m m a d walked and walked, meshi, meshi, meshi, until he came to a country ruled by a Sultan. Melek M u h a m mad went to the Sultan, and said to him, 'I am a stranger and I wish to earn my bread here. Can I become your servant, and work for you?' T h e Sultan accepted him into his household, and soon became very fond of him, for he was such an intelligent, capable boy. Before long, the Sultan was always calling for him, and would have none to serve him but Melek M u h a m m a d , for none was 1


See Preface, p. xiii.

Melek Muhammad and the Ogre 111 so clever and willing as he. Now Melek's brothers had also come to that country, and one day he went to see them, and salute them and ask them how they did. The brothers answered him, 'We have done nothing since we got here, we have been amusing ourselves, and we have spent all our money—not a para remains. Help us to live, for we have nothing left.' Melek Muhammad promised to do what he could for them, and he went to the Sultan and said to him, 'There are thirty-nine young men come here, they are very poor and have no money left. I beg you let them come to our house and work for you and become your servants.' The Sultan said, 'Melek Muhammad, as you wish! whatever you wish!' So Melek Muhammad went and fetched his brothers, and they worked with him in the Sultan's house. After they had been there for two days, they became jealous of Melek Muhammad, and went secretly to the Sultan and said, 'You prize Melek Muhammad for his understanding and cleverness. Well, now, if he is so clever and devoted, why does he not get the ogre's tray for you ?' The Sultan said, 'What tray?' They said, 'There is an ogre who lives in the desert not far away, and he has a tray which, if it be struck, will produce enough food for thousands.' Said the King, 'But of what use would such a tray be to me ?' Said they, 'Your Majesty, it would feed all your army.' Said he, 'Aye, truth, that would be very useful to me.' Then the Sultan called Melek Muhammad and said to him, 'Melek Muhammad!' He answered, 'Yes!' Said the Sultan, 'I want you to bring me the ogre's tray.' Melek Muhammad knew that the Sultan's order must have proceeded from his brothers, but he replied, 'Yes, your majesty, I will go and get it! But I have a request to make of you before I leave.'


Melek Muhammad and the Ogre

The Sultan said, 'Speak!' Melek Muhammad said, 'While I am gone, I ask your Majesty to shut up those thirty-nine youths that I brought in to work for you. Put them in the sirdab 1 and give them only one loaf of barley bread and a little water apiece for three days. If at the end of the three days I have not returned, kill them all!' For in his heart, Melek Muhammad thought that he would surely be killed by the ogre, and he wished to be revenged on his brothers. The Sultan did as he wished, and imprisoned the thirtynine young men, being ignorant that they were Melek Muhammad's brothers. The first day passed, and they were given nothing but barley bread and water. A n d that day Melek Muham-

mad went, ardh athattu ardh atshilu, until he reached the

ogre's cave. Before the cave ran a deep water-channel, and the ogre was inside, sleeping near the tray, which was leaning against the wall of the cave. Melek Muhammad crossed the water, and crept into the cave, then he seized the tray, which began to sing out, 'Tangq! T a n g q ! T a n g q ! ' Melek Muhammad fled, and jumped across the water, 2 just as the ogre woke and asked, 'What is this ? Who is trying to steal you that you are crying out like this?' The ogre looked, and saw no one, for Melek Muhammad had hidden himself. Then he went to sleep again, and Melek Muhammad came a second time and seized the tray. It cried out as before, and the ogre woke, but Melek Muhammad was so quick that he had leapt the stream and was hidden. Said the ogre, 'Why do you wake me like this? One would imagine that Melek Muhammad had come to steal you! A n d there is no one here!' A third time Melek Muhammad came, seized the tray, and it cried out. Again he fled and hid, and this time the ogre, seeing no one, was very angry and said to the tray, 'Why will you not let me sleep ?' and he seized the tray 1 1

See note i , p. 63. A deyu does not like to (or cannot) cross running water.

Melek Muhammad and the Ogre


and beat it soundly, while M e l e k Muhammad peeped from his hiding-place. T h e n the ogre covered his head and slept again, and when M e l e k Muhammad crossed the bank and seized the tray for the fourth time, it was so indignant that it made no sound. H e crossed the stream (saqia) 1 with it and went back across the desert, to the city of the Sultan. A s soon as he had received it, the Sultan was delighted, and clapped him on the shoulder saying, lAl'afiya, my son! W e l l done!' and he went to his diwan with it, and set it on the floor, and struck it. A s soon as he had done so, a black slave stepped from the tray and said,

'Labbeik, labbeik Utlub u temennaV T h e Sultan said, 'Be filled!' and immediately on the tray there appeared mounds of rice and lambs roasted whole, kubbeh, 2 chickens, creams, sweets, bread, and every kind of food. W h e n they took this away, more appeared, and, just as they had said, the Sultan was able to feed his whole army. Meanwhile M e l e k Muhammad freed his brothers from the sirdab, but although he gave them no further punishment for their treachery, they hated him more than before. T h e y went to the Sultan in a few days' time, and said to him, ' O Sultan, M e l e k Muhammad brought you the ogre's tray without difficulty, why did he not bring the ogre's mare as well ?' Said the Sultan, ' W h a t should I need with a mare? I have mares of the best blood in my stables.' Said they, ' T h i s is a sea-mare, 3 and it flies through the air like a bird—wherever its rider wishes to go, it flies there!' T h e n the Sultan called M e l e k Muhammad, and he answered ' Y e s ! ' Said the Sultan, ' M e l e k Muhammad, I want you to bring me the ogre's mare also.' 1 A saqia or vulg. sajia is a small irrigation-channel. A large one carrying pumped water is called a mahmtil. A jedioal is a wide water-channel or canal. A qanat is a channel flowing underground. 2 See note 2, p. 3. 3 See notes, pp. 302 and 303 on story XLVII.

2X4 Melek Muhammad and the Ogre H e replied, 'I will go,' but he knew in his heart that his brothers had told the Sultan about the mare. So he said to the Sultan, 'Put those thirty-nine youths in the sirdab and give them nothing but barley bread and water for three days. If at the end of that time I have not returned, kill them.' T h e Sultan said, 'As you wish,' and he shut up the nine and thirty in the sirdab. Then Melek M u h a m m a d wished him peace, and set off over the desert to the ogre's cave. When he got there, the ogre was sleeping, and the mare beside him. Melek M u h a m m a d leapt the stream, and placed his hand on the mare's neck, and she whinnied. Melek Muhammad leapt back and hid himself, and the ogre woke and said, ' H a s Melek M u h a m m a d come that you are whinnying thus?' Then he went to sleep again. This happened a second and a third time, and the fourth time the ogre, seeing no one, was angry, and cried 'Eysh biki? W h a t ' s the matter with you?' and beat the mare with his stick. H e beat the mare, beat it, beat it! Then he went to sleep again (and the sleep of a deyu is very heavy). Melek M u h a m m a d came again and took the mare, and because she was angry with her master, she made no sound. A s soon as they had crossed the water, he told her to fly to the Sultan's palace, and she flew in the air until she reached the palace and came down in the courtyard. T h e Sultan was delighted, and kissed Melek M u h a m mad, and cried, 'What a beautiful mare! So handsome and full of race! 'All' 1 And he put it in his stable. When he had released his brothers from the sirdab, one said to the other, ' H o w did he escape from the ogre this time ?' Another said, 'There is still a box belonging to the ogre, he will surely not let that be stolen! W e will tell the Sultan about the box!' So they went to the Sultan, and said, ' O Sultan, Melek Muhammad does not serve you well, or he would have brought you the ogre's box.' Said the Sultan, 'But what should I want with a box ?' 1

A common exclamation indicating 'height of perfection!'.

Melek Muhammad and the Ogre 115 Said they, 'Ah, this box is the best of all the ogre's treasures! In it is a vast army and wealth therewith to pay them their wages. It would be very useful to you and your Government.' The Sultan sent for Melek Muhammad, and said to him, 'Melek Muhammad, there is still a box which you have not brought me. Go and bring me the ogre's box.' Melek Muhammad pondered for a while, and then he answered the Sultan, 'Yes, I will go and fetch the box, but I ask for forty days to perform this task. Imprison the nine-and-thirty for this period, and when it has expired, if I do not return, cut off their heads.' The Sultan said, 'Zein! Good!' and imprisoned the brothers as before. As for Melek Muhammad, he took his way and travelled to the ogre's cave. As before the ogre was sleeping, with his wife beside him, and Melek Muhammad saw that the box was between them, and fastened to the ogre's leg by a chain. Melek Muhammad crossed the brook, and pondered, 'How shall I take it? How?' He seized the chain, but the box began to cry so shrilly that the ogre rose and asked, 'What is it ?' The box said, 'Melek Muhammad is taking me!' Said the ogre, lShlon? How? There is no one here!' He went to sleep again after a while, and Melek Muhammad came again and touched the chain, and the box cried out, 'He is taking me, he is taking me!' The ogre said, 'There is no one here!' Said the box, 'You are not quick enough, he was here and has gone away again! Next time, I shall not cry out, but I will prick you in the leg so that you will wake!' When he saw the ogre asleep again, Melek Muhammad crossed the stream once more, and took the chain, and the box pricked the leg of the ogre, but kept silence. The ogre rose, and seized Melek Muhammad before he could escape. He was very angry and roared out, 'How shall I eat you? I have eaten thousands like you!

2i 6 Melek Muhammad and the Ogre You stole my tray and my mare, and now you are stealing my box! How shall I eat you ?' Now the sons of Adam are cleverer than demons, and Melek Muhammad answered him, 'No! Don't eat me now! I am thin and ill-nourished! Keep me and fatten me, then I shall be a good meal for you. I am here, if you tie me I cannot get away.' The ogre replied, 'True!' So he and his wife brought him game and food of all sorts, and he ate them and grew fat. The ogre said to his wife, 'At last Melek Muhammad is fat, so I will summon my friends to a feast, and we will eat him to-day. We will boil him and feast all our friends and relations!' His wife said, 'Zein!' (Good.) The ogre went and set out to invite his friends and relations, and said to them, 'Come! We are going to eat Melek Muhammad!' The ogre's wife was left to prepare the feast. She set a large copper pot (siferlya) on the fire, and put fire beneath it and kindled it. Then she brought Melek Muhammad, and said, 'Now I shall put you in the pot.' Said he, 'First loose me, for I must say my prayers.' She loosed him, and he said, 'Now see that the water really boils, for if I must die, I wish to die quickly!' She turned to look at the pot, and he came behind her, and pushed her into the boiling water so that she died. Then he took some of her clothes, and put them on. The ogre returned, and asked his wife, 'Have you done as I ordered, for our friends are coming ?' Melek Muhammad answered, 'Aye, husband.' The ogre dipped his hand in to see how the meat was cooking. He drew out a piece of flesh, and in it was an ear-ring! When he saw that, he understood that it was his wife who was cooking there, and in his grief and anger he tried to spring after Melek Muhammad, who had quickly leapt the stream with the box under his arm. The ogre fell into the stream, and was drowned, and that was the end of him.

Melek Muhammad and the Ogre


Melek Muhammad went his way with the box, and as he walked the jinnlya of the box spoke to him and said, 'Are you mad (possessed), or are you simply foolish ?' Said Melek Muhammad, lShldn? How that?' Said the jinnlya of the box, 'You owl, why do you give me to the Sultan ? Why should you take all this trouble for him, when you could keep me and the treasure that I hold?' Melek Muhammad began to reflect and said, 'Truth! Why should I ?' Said the jinnlya of the box, 'Why do you not use the army which I contain to master the kingdom ? If you are the victor, all the people of the country will come to kiss your hand, and the Sultan will follow their example. You will be a king of kings!' Melek Muhammad began to think to himself, 'Yes, indeed, I should not have performed these tasks but for the enmity of my brothers! Why should I not profit by it?' He set the box on the earth and struck it, and out came seven Sultans. Each cried to him:

'Labbeik, labbeik Ana 'abid bein ideikV H e said to them, 'I have decided to make war with the Sultan, my master, and I need an army so big that it will cover the desert.' In an instant the army was there. Melek Muhammad rode at its head and came to the wall of the Sultan's city and said that he must speak with the Sultan. All took him for a strange Sultan, and all were greatly afraid when they saw the huge army that was with him. When the Sultan had come, Melek Muhammad said to him, 'Resign your kingdom to me, and you shall live in peace all the days of your life: refuse, and you shall die.' The Sultan did not know him, and he answered, trembling, 'I resign, and thank you for sparing my life.' Melek Muhammad went to the palace, and took 3800




Melek Muhammad and the Ogre

possession of it, and the tray, and the mare, and took the Government into his hands. H e treated the Sultan with such kindness that the Sultan kissed his hands and said, 'My people and I are grateful to you!' As for Melek Muhammad, he ruled long and well and he made his thirty-nine brothers ministers beneath him. 1 1 And so acted piously. One of the clogs on the wheels of progress to-day in 'Iraq is that a man is considered a member of his family rather than an individual. If he takes office, he is expected to do all he can for members of his family, and if he lets family interests influence his judgements or appointments, he is merely fulfilling a natural and pious instinct.



HERE was once a King and he had a tailor who was very clever at making clothes. Hearing that the tailor had been boasting of his skill, the King sent for him, and when he hastened into the royal presence, the King told him that he must accompany him on a walk without the city. Much flattered, the tailor bowed to the ground, and walked beside his royal master until they were outside the city walls. While they were walking in the desert, the King said to the tailor, 'Pick me up that stone!' and the tailor, wondering, picked up a stone that lay by the wayside. 'Take the stone home with you,' said the King, 'and show your skill by making me a stone coat.' The tailor was frightened, and protested that no man could make a coat of stone, but at his first word the King feigned great anger and cried, 'If you do not make me a stone coat in three days, I shall hand you over to the executioner.' In great alarm, and convinced that the King had but invented an excuse to kill him, the tailor returned to his home, and told his family that he was certainly doomed to die as there was no hope that he could contrive a coat out of a piece of rock. His wife and his three daughters listened, and all but the youngest wept with him as he bewailed his fate. But the youngest daughter sat thinking, and after a little she said to her father, 'Do not weep, my father, I have a plan by which you can escape the anger of the King.' And she instructed her father in what he should do. The next morning the tailor demanded audience of the King, and when he was admitted bowed low before his Majesty, placing a bag on the ground before him. 'What is this ?' asked the King. Said the tailor, 'Your Majesty, I have completed the


Er Rum

cutting out of the stone coat, and it promises to be a handsome affair. But your Majesty has not furnished me with suitable thread. So I have brought some sand in this bag. If your Majesty will kindly have it manufactured into thread, I will start on the completion of the coat.' T h e K i n g burst into laughter, and commended the tailor for his ruse. ' Y o u have saved your head,' said he. 'But you are a fool and cannot have thought out this jest by yourself. Confess who helped your wits.' ' Y o u r Majesty is too astute,' said the tailor. 'In truth, it was not my own thought, but that of my youngest daughter.' ' W h a t is her age ?' asked the King. ' H e r age is fourteen.' ' T h e n I will marry this maiden for her wit and she shall live in a handsome house near my own.' T h e tailor went home and informed his family of the honour which the K i n g was doing them, and in due time the marriage contract was completed and the bride taken to her new house with much rejoicing and many presents from the bridegroom. But when the moment came for the bridegroom to present himself, he did not come, and the bride waited in loneliness day after day. T h e K i n g had not seen her, and thought little more about the affair, except that when he went to hunt, he tapped at his bride's window and said, ' O tailor's daughter, how do you do?' A n d to that she replied that she did very well. T h e tailor was grieved for the slight put on his daughter, but for the whims of princes there is no accounting, and the maiden was well provided with gear and money, so that it was not a bad business. T h e day came when the K i n g decided to take a voyage to the country of R u m ; and travelling by land and sea he came at last to a fair valley in the pleasant land of R u m , and there set up his tents. A s soon as she heard that her lord was voyaging, the tailor's daughter disguised herself, and following him, she came to the same place, and set up for herself a magnificent tent. In the evening she walked abroad unveiled, and

Er Rum 221 reached the place where the King had pitched his camp. The King's coffee-maker was sitting by the fire when she passed by, and he was making coffee for the King. When he saw the beauty of the tailor's daughter, his understanding flew, and without knowing what he did, he put salt instead of sugar into the coffee. When the King tasted the coffee he was angry and sent for the fellow. The coffee-maker confessed his fault, but excused his distraction, by saying that a damsel fairer than the moon had passed as he was making coffee and had cast her glance at the tents. The King was curious when he heard this, and instructed his servants to find out where the beautiful girl lived. They reported to him that she lived in a fine tent in the same valley, and the King at once made haste to visit her. H e was hospitably received, and was so charmingly entertained that he could not leave that night, but stayed with his sweet hostess three days and three nights. The third night they played chess, but the King was so deeply enamoured that he thought of his opponent more than of the game, and the lady won. As a prize for her victory, he drew from his finger a costly ring and placed it on hers. At the third dawn, when he still lay sleeping in her tent, the tailor's daughter packed up and set out on the journey home. The King could find no more pleasure in his journey after the disappearance of the beautiful lady, and he too went back to his own country. But he paid no more attention than before to his young bride, unless it were to ask her how she did from below her window when he rode a-hunting. A year later he sought to allay the restlessness of his heart by another voyage. This time he visited the land of Armenia, and stayed in the town of Erzerum. Again his forsaken wife followed him, and sending him a messenger, she invited him to visit her. Overjoyed at finding the lady he so much loved, the King repaired to her house, and they spent three nights in endearments and merrymaking. On the third night, as before she challenged him to a game of chess, and again the King lost. This time he paid for his defeat by giving her the jewelled dagger from


Er Rum

his belt, and as on the first occasion, she fled at dawn, leaving the King asleep. Again the disconsolate King returned to his own country and sought to distract his sorrow, but in vain, and a third time he set off for a far country. Once more his neglected wife followed him in disguise, and again he was transported with joy when he rediscovered her. Three days and nights were spent in delight and joy, and the third evening as before she challenged her husband to chess and won the game. As prize he gave her the gold-broidered kerchief from off his royal head, and strove that night not to sleep so that she might not elude him. But she had put henbane in his drink and when he was in a deep sleep, she left him, and returned to her own country, and he, too, angry and disappointed, travelled back to his own land. For seven long years the young King mourned the fickle lady and then, resolving that he would think no more about her, he resolved to marry a new wife who should bear him children and cause him to forget his heart-sickness. A suitable lady, the daughter of a neighbouring prince, was selected, marriage contracts drawn up, and on the appointed day, the people lined the streets to see the bride and her cavalcade ride in to the city. Now each year, after her meeting with the King, the tailor's daughter had borne him a child. The eldest was a boy, and she named him Rum, after the country where she had known her husband. The second, too, was a boy, and him she called Erzerum. To the third, a girl, she gave the name of Shelham. On the day of the King's marriage, she told her children to stand on the steps of the palace, one above the other, near the place where the King was to wait to receive his bride, and she instructed them carefully what to say. Besides this, she placed the ring she had won on the finger of Rum, the dagger she thrust into Erzerum's belt, and the kerchief she placed upon Shelham's head. The three children obeyed their mother's orders, and as soon as the King had arrived, and the cavalcade of the bride was approaching, Rum cried to his brother, 'Oh, Erzerum,

Er Rum


take care of my sister Shelham, lest the she-mule step on her!' Hearing the child's cry, and wondering at what he said, the King called the three to him, and asked them their names. At the same time he saw and recognized his three gifts, and commanded the children that they should tell him how they came into their possession. The boy Rum answered boldly, and told him that his mother had bidden him speak as he had spoken, and had girt them with the ring, the dagger, and the kerchief. 'Where is your mother?' asked the King, and he was taken by the three children to the place where their mother sat veiled. The King soon understood that she was in truth the lady to whom he had given his heart in the land of Rum, and he gave orders forthwith that the bride who had arrived for him was to be sent back to her father's house. So the tailor's daughter was made happy, and she and her three children were the joy of the King's heart.



H E R E was once an industrious woman who earned a living for herself and her family by carding cotton. H e r husband earned nothing, for he was a lazy lout who did nothing but sleep in the courtyard of the house, and never went without. All that he did was to clamour for food, and if his wife did not bring it to him, he would beat her with his thick stick, which he kept greased with fat stolen from her kitchen. This stick he called AlMadhuna, 'the Greased One', and if she dared to reproach him for his laziness, he would reply 'Bring me the Greased One', and as he was powerful and strong she quickly stopped her scolding and ran off lest she should be beaten. One day when she was in the suq, she told a friend of her troubles, and complained that her husband had become an intolerable burden. The friend was a wise woman, and said to her, 'Endure his laziness no longer! When he has left the house, lock the door and refuse to let him enter until he comes with money in his hand!' The cotton-carder 1 said, ' H o w shall that be, seeing that he never leaves the house. H e never leaves our courtyard, wallah, the whole day he sleeps!' Said the old woman, 'Has he a favourite dish, my sister?' Said the cotton-carder, ' H e is very fond of pacha.' 2 Said the old woman, ' H e is a dog, the son of a dog, and like the dogs must be led by the nose. Cook some pacha and throw it outside the door and entice him into the street, and then close the door upon him.' The cotton-carder followed the advice of her wise friend and bought some pacha, which she cooked very succulently. When it was ready, she scattered a little in the 1



See note, p. 28.

The Cotton-carder and Kasilun 11$ courtyard near the corner where her husband slept, and the rest outside the door of their house. Then she shook him, and while he was yawning and still half asleep, she cried, lYa Kasilun! See! In the night it has rained pacha!' H e rubbed his eyes and took up the pacha and began to eat. 'Leave this here,' cried his wife, 'Go outside, there is abundance there, and if we don't get it, the neighbours will eat it!' So he ran to the door, and while the stupid fellow was still gathering up the pacha and cramming it into his mouth, his wife closed the door upon him and bolted it. 'Hey wife,' cried Kasilun, 'I have picked up pacha enough—come you and get the rest. Open the door, I want to go to sleep again.' 'No, not I!' replied the cotton-carder from within the door. 'I will not open to you until you return, as a man should, with money in your pocket!' 'Bring me the Greased One!' shouted Kasilun in a great rage, and when she threw him the stick from a window, he rattled at the door and made such a noise that the neighbours gathered to laugh at him. At last, mad with anger, he set off, all bareheaded as he was, and walked far into the desert. At nightfall, when he was far from Baghdad, he saw a fire, and as he was cold and hungry, he went towards it. Round the fire were sitting seven 'afarlt, and upon the fire a pot was boiling. Now 'afarlt are addicted to human flesh, and when they saw Kasilun approaching, they said, 'Here is good fortune! This man will make us a meal tomorrow!' As for Kasilun, when he saw the pot and smelt the hot meat, he was very pleased, for he had eaten nothing since the pacha that morning; so, approaching them, he wished them peace. They gave him the salutation, and invited him to join them. Said he, 'I will eat with pleasure, for since it rained pacha this morning, I have not eaten a crumb!' and so


The Cotton-carder and Kasilun

saying, he dipped his frozen fingers in the pot and drawing out the lamb that was seething therein, he tore it in half, and devoured it. After he had eaten he fell asleep, and the 'afarlt, seeing how fat and big he was, decided to kill him the next day so that they would have fresh meat to last them for some time. The next morning they roused him and said, ' W e are going to kill meat soon; go, take this water-skin and fill it with water and return to us so that we can fill the pot ready for the broiling.' 'This will never do,' thought Kasilun when he saw the big skin that they gave him to fill. 'They will make a water-carrier of me!' So when he had reached the river, he bent as if he were filling it, but in reality he put his lips to it and blew until it was swollen with air and appeared full to the brim. Then, tying it, he began to return with the skin on his shoulders. The 'afarlt expected to see him bowed under the weight of the water, but lo! he walked as if the skin were but a feather. When he was near their tents, however, he sat down, and putting his mouth to the skin, he made as though he were emptying it, and did so until the skin was deflated. 'What sort of a man is this?' said the 'afarlt. ' H e drinks more at a draught than an ordinary man in a week!' They went up to him, and when he saw them, he said that he had drunk the water and was still thirsty, and would go down and refill the skin. 'We will send one of our number,' said the 'afarlt. 'But as you are a strong fellow, we will send you to get the wood to make fire for the pot.' 'Where shall I find the wood ?' asked Kasilun. 'There is a coppice of trees 1 at a little distance from here. One of us will show you where it is.' 'This is very bad,' thought Kasilun, 'they are making a beast of burden of me!' and he asked for a very long 1 zor. A s is explained on p. 38, the term is often applied to a thicket of bushes. I have translated it here 'coppice of trees' because the intention was to illustrate the strength of Kasilun.

The Cotton-carder and Kasilun


rope. When they had reached the coppice, he said to the 'afrit who had accompanied him, 'Take this end of the rope and walk round the coppice and come back with it here.' 'Why must I do that ?' asked the 'afrit, but Kasilun insisted, and as the 'afrit was afraid of the strength of a man who could drink a water-skin at a draught, he did what was required of him. Then Kasilun tied the two ends of the rope and bent his back. 'Now we have the wood tied together,' said he, 'hoist it on my back!' ' H o w can I hoist living trees!' cried the 'afrit. 'That is nothing,' said Kasilun. ' I shall do the real work when I carry it back! Hoist the wood on my back and be quick about it!' 'But,' said the 'afrit, 'we only want a few faggots!' Then Kasilun pretended to be very angry. 'What is this ?' he said. ' Y o u refuse to hoist a few light trees on to my back ? A m I to do all the work ? Then I refuse to carry them at all!' H e went back to the camp and told his story as if he were in the utmost indignation. T h e 'afarlt became more than ever afraid of him when they heard he had wanted to carry the coppice on his back, and made up their minds to kill him in the night when he was asleep, lest he should prove too much for them. So that night they took him to their house, and pretending to welcome him, they put him into the best room. 'There is something in this,' thought Kasilun, who had become suspicious of their intentions, and, when night came, instead of sleeping beneath the fur mantle which they gave him to cast over himself, he went and hid in the tannur, or oven, 1 from which hiding-place he contrived to overhear his hosts discussing their plot of killing him. A s soon as he understood plainly their intention, he went back to the room, arranged the fur mantle over some 1

See note, p. 1 9 2 .

228 The Cotton-carder and Kasilun carpets so that it had the appearance of a sleeping man, and hid himself in another part of the house. At midnight, the 'afarlt came with daggers and sticks and attacked the heap all at once, and went out making sure that their guest was dead. In the morning, Kasilun greeted them as if nothing had happened, and told them that he had been a little disturbed by mosquito-bites during the night, but that towards morning he had slept peacefully. The 'afarlt then resolved on a fresh attempt to kill him. They had in their house a cupboard lined with scimitars, which closed upon the victim when a button was touched without. But Kasilun overheard their plan from his hiding-place in the oven, and made up his mind that they should die in their own trap. The next day they led him to the door of the cupboard and told him that if he went in, he would find gold and treasure, which would be his from henceforth. 'I am a big man,' said Kasilun, 'and I could not get into the cupboard.' The 'afarlt assured him that he could. 'Why,' said they, 'it would hold six of us!' 'I will believe that when I see it,' said Kasilun. So in they went, and when they were safely inside, he pressed the button and the knives closed together and killed them. There was only one 'afrit left, and Kasilun began to think that as he had disposed of the others so easily, he need not fear him. Indeed the case was entirely otherwise, as the 'afrit came to him and implored him to save his life, saying that if he did so he would show him where his brothers had kept their treasure, for it had been their practice to rob caravans in the desert and take possession of the goods of their victims after they had killed and eaten them. Kasilun filled a large sack with the stolen gold, and told the 'afrit to carry it, for he was going back to his home. Thus they set off together; Kasilun clad in the rich robes which he had found amongst the stolen goods, and the

The Cotton-carder and Kasilun 229 'afrit walking behind like his servant with the sack of gold on his shoulders. 'Life in the desert does not suit me,' said Kasilun to the 'afrit. 'There is too much hard work there! One is better off in a town.' At nightfall he came to his house in the city, knocked at the door, and bade his wife open, telling her that he had returned bringing her some money. Though she could scarcely believe him, the cottoncarder opened the door. 'Here is a guest, wife,' said Kasilun; 'and here is a sack of gold. Make us a good meal, for I have hardly had a bite since I went away.' The cotton-carder prepared a sumptuous meal and they spent three days in feasting and music. At the end of the three days the 'afrit said to Kasilun, 'I want to have a furwa (a skin cloak or coat with hair inside) made, for it is cold.' Said Kasilun, 'Go to Hasan the tailor, he will make you a furwa.' The 'afrit went and gave the order to the tailor, but each time the 'afrit went to see if the furwa was ready, the tailor answered 'Backer! To-morrow!' At last the 'afrit went to Kasilun and said, 'The tailor will not make the furwa that I need for my journey.' Kasilun said to the 'afrit, 'Tell him you are the guest of Kasilun, and that he must hurry with the work.' The 'afrit went to the tailor and said, 'I am the guest of Kasilun, and you must hurry to finish the furwa!' The tailor knew Kasilun as a good-for-nothing and lazy man, and when the 'afrit said this, he began to laugh in the 'afrit's face, saying, 'I am not afraid of Kasilun! He is always asleep! Come, we will go together, and will talk to him in his own house!' So the tailor and the 'afrit went together to Kasilun's house, and the tailor knocked at the door and calling to Kasilun bade him open the door as he was not afraid of him. When Kasilun heard, he roared out to his wife, 'Wife, bring me the Greased One!' And the tailor had


The Cotton-carder and Kasilun

his hand on the door to open it, the 'afrit being beside him. When the 'afrit heard Kasilun call for his stick, however, he pulled the tailor back in fear, and Kasilun coming out and seizing the tailor by the other hand, the tailor was torn in two pieces, and the 'afrit took one half and ran away in mortal fear and never came back!



HERE was once a shaikh, a wealthy man, head of a tribe connected with the Shammar. H e had several wives, but none of them had a son which survived, although seven daughters lived out of the children which they bore him. But when the shaikh was getting on in years, one of his wives became pregnant, and bore a son, to whom they gave the name Bunayya, which means Little Girl, so that the 'Breath' 1 should not blight him. H e was strong and grew big, and the shaikh, who prized him above all that he had, sent him while still young to Constantinople, so that he should learn to read and write and become acquainted with the ways of the world. Every month he dictated him a letter by the hand of his mulla (for he himself could not read or write), and sent him money, and the boy remained in Stambul. There he learned to live like the Franks, and to wear Frankish clothes, and to read many books. H e was intelligent and loved his studies, and when he had reached the age of eighteen, and his father wrote to him to come back to his people, he wept and wrote that he would rather remain where he was. But his father was troubled, for he knew that his son must become shaikh in his stead when he was dead, and he did not wish him to forget his people: moreover, his heart yearned for the boy. So he sent him a letter urging him to come back, and promising him that if he returned to the tribe he might go again from time to time to Stambul. Bunayya was forced to fall in with his father's wishes, and, as his father had said that he might bring some friends 1 Bunayya (or Ibnayya) is commonly used in 'Iraq for a girl-child. 'The Breath' is like 'the Eye' (or evil eye), it is ill-luck brought by envy, whether innocent or malignant. T o give a boy (in public) a girl's name, or to dress him like a girl in order to avert ill-fortune is a common practice in 'Iraq. The tribes (especially Marsh Arabs) are fond of giving their children extraordinary names indicating worthlessness or uselessness with this purpose, e.g. 'No-Good', 'Whooping-Cough', 'Dog', 'Jackal', 'Fox', 'Not-Wanted', and 'Flea'. T h e car having now become a commonplace, 'Buncture' has recently become popular, both as a term of reproach and as a nickname.



with him, he brought four or five boys of his own age, with servants to look after them, a cook to give them the food to which they were accustomed, camp-beds, meat and fruit in tins, Frankish bedding, chairs, and other things from Stambul. They travelled, and when the father knew by his agent in the nearest town that they had arrived, and would travel out to the tribe the next day, he and his horsemen rode to meet them. When they saw them, they galloped backwards and forwards on their mares, and fired their guns into the air, and made a fantasia. 1 So they rode together back to the place where the tribe had their houses of hair. That night they made a big feast in the guest tent for them; sheep were killed and roasted whole, and dishes of rice and kishk 2 and kirsha 3 were served, with plenty of laban 4 and shenlna. The shaikh ate with his son and his guests, and for Bunayya and the strangers they set spoons and forks, since they were not accustomed to eat with their hands in the manner of the Bedu. Bunayya's friends were very pleased with their entertainment: it was the first time they had ever known life in the desert; and they went riding, and took hawk and salugis and chased bustard and gazelle, and in the evening they played the 'ud, 5 or listened to the Arabs playing the rebaba 6 and singing, and amused themselves and laughed and sang. They praised the life of the chol, and then, after about ten days, they went away, and said farewell to Bunayya and his father. Bunayya enjoyed himself very much while his friends were there, but when they were gone, what could he do ? H e read in his books a little, but he wearied of riding and hunting, and there was no cinema or coffee-house, no friends to whom he could talk. H e found the men ignorant, for they knew nothing of the books from which he had been taught. H e thought them animals: wild and 1

2 Display of horsemanship. A kind of porridge-cake. Haggis. Rice is put into the haggis, but, of course, no spirit. 4 See notes, p. 176. 5 Lute. This is an instrument shaped like a mandoline, and often very elaborately embellished. 6 A kind of fiddle, held like a 'cello, except that the player sits on the ground. 3

Bunayya 233 boorish. His mother and the women he found worse still: they were yet more ignorant than the men, and they were dirty and foolish in his eyes. H e grew tired and wearied, and wished for Stambul. His father saw it, and was sad. H e pondered as to what he should do to keep his son with him. And one day he called Bunayya and said, 'Bunayya, I am old, and I want to see your son. I want you to marry.' Bunayya replied, 'I am young: I do not wish to marry.' Said the shaikh, 'But I am afraid that I shall die, and I wish you to beget me a grandson. Marry and rejoice my heart.' Said Bunayya, 'Whom should I marry here? Let me return to Stambul, and I will marry a girl there.' The shaikh replied, 'That cannot be, until you have a son of our own blood. First marry a cousin, so that she may bring you a son, and afterwards you can take a Turk or a Frank or whomsoever you desire.' They talked, and the boy was angry, but in the end he had to accept what his father said, and agreed that he would marry, if the next year he might return to Stambul on a visit. The shaikh, his father, began to make inquiries everywhere among their kin for a bride for him. H e wished to find a girl who was more than usually beautiful and intelligent, so that his son might love her, and wish to stay for her sake. H e asked, and they told him, 'Your cousin, Ibrahim of the Beni , has one daughter among seven sons. H e loves her very much, and she has been brought up like the light of his eyes. H e loves her more than the breath in his body. The girl is beautiful, and for intelligence there is not her equal. She knows how to write, her father's mulla has taught her all that he knows, she can read the Qur'an, and she can strike the lute.' Bunayya's father was pleased with what they told him, and he sent to his cousin her father and asked him to give her, and her father consented. On the day appointed they brought the bride, and a great company of her kinsfolk and servants rode with her, 3800





and she arrived, seated within her canopy 1 on a camel. T h e y took her with cries of j o y to the bridal tent, which, as custom orders, is apart from the rest. T h e y washed her, and they washed her hair and greased it with butter boiled and strained, and rubbed into it rashush. 2 T h e y put henna on her hands and feet, they placed on her head the watla, the gold head-dress, they threaded gold ornaments and beads into her plaits, they adorned her with ornaments and pearls, they placed a necklace round her neck and chains of wrought gold to fall on her bosom. O n her toes were fatkhat 3 (toe-rings) and they perfumed her clothes with oil of roses and oil of jasmine. H e r 'aba was embroidered with needlework, her hashimi 4 was of woven silk, her dishdasha 5 was of fine linen. Such is the way we dress brides in our tribe! She was sweet, sweet, sweet! and her age was twelve years. But the boy, Bunayya, was sad and angry. H e said, 'These Bedu women are animals ! they are dirty : they have lice, they put their hands in the rice and it remains sticking in their rings!' Only because his father had insisted, had he agreed to the marriage. W h e n they brought him to the bride, he did not even look at her. T h e y said to each other, ' H e is shy before us!' and they went and left them alone, for he told them to go. T h e bride sat on her mattress and he sat on another and smoked a cigarette and said no word to her. H e was dressed in Frankish clothes. H e wore a fez on his head, a coat and trousers, and collar and tie ; but they had made him carry a fine dagger 6 with a handle studded with T h e canopy is formed of wooden hoops covered with woven cloth or wool. Pink roses dried and powdered between two milling stones and then mixed with saffron or musk. 3 T h e word fatkha is more usually applied to a certain kind of ring worn on the forefinger. T h e ordinary word for toe-ring is 'athra. It is usually worn on the great toe and attached to the khilkhal or anklet by a thin silver chain. T h i s was in great vogue amongst nomadic and semi-domesticated A r a b women some twenty years ago, but is now démodé. 4 Outer robe; with the tribes, hand-embroidered. 5 Chemise. 6 A metal instrument keeps away evil spirits (see note on ' T h e Crystal Ship', pp. 293, 294), and the blue of the turquoise averts the evil eye. In Baghdad it is 1


Bunayya 235 turquoises to keep off the jann. There they sat, the one with the other, and neither said a word. Presently he put out the lantern and slept on the mattress upon which he had been sitting. The bride, whose name was Mai, saw him and she loved him. She waited until she was sure that he was asleep, and then she called to an old woman of her family who was waiting outside the tent, and she spoke with her, and persuaded her to put pigeon's blood on the mendll.1 She told the woman that it was better so, lest there should be talk, and she knew that she would be secret. In the morning, the boy Bunayya rose early and went out, and presently they came to her and said, lTawennestum ? Had you pleasure together ?' and she answered, 'We had pleasure.' To them she pretended to be happy, but her heart was anxious, and she said to herself, 'Perhaps to-night.' But when the night came, it was the same. H e came, and smoked, and read his book a little, then he went to sleep, and to Mai, the unfortunate! he did not raise his eyes. She said to herself, 'If my father and brothers were to know that he slights me, they would be very angry, and they would insist on a divorce. Better that I say nothing: perhaps in time he will love me.' The sisters of Bunayya made much of Mai and she behaved as if she were happy lest they should suspect the real state of things. She laughed and answered them gaily when they asked her, 'How is he ? Do you love him ?' No one knew how it was between them. When they perceived that he never approached her before them, and never looked at her, they thought, 'In Stambul it is perhaps shame for a bridegroom to look at the bride or talk to her before the people.' So it was for three months: then the boy said to his father, 'My father, I wish to go to Stambul, and after a little I will come back again.' customary to place a knife between the upper and lower mattress of the bridal bed on the day of the bride's arrival at her husband's house, or beneath her pillow. 1 The proof of virginity produced the next morning and shown to the bridegroom's family. The mendll (kerchief) is often placed by the bridal bed in a silken cover.



His father said, 'And Mai ?' Said Bunayya, 'Let her return to her people for a little.' His father was sad, and reasoned with him, 'Your wife is not yet pregnant, will you go away now?' H e replied, 'She is yet young, and I will come back.' H e went, and travelled to Stambul, and there he stayed for two years. His father sent him money every month, and wrote him letters by the mulla asking that he should come back, but Bunayya did not wish to leave Stambul. A t the end of two years, at the beginning of the spring, he yielded to his father, and set off on the journey to his home, and he brought ten friends with him. A s before, they brought with them their own tents, and carpets, and camp-bedsteads, and food in tins, and a cook and servants. Bunayya's father was rich, and he did not stint him in money. A s on the first occasion, the tribesmen came to meet them, and they made fantasia, riding their horses and firing their guns into the air. It was the spring, and the flowers of the desert were in bloom and the 'ushub 1 was high and the air was fresh and sweet. His friends said to Bunayya, 'How lovely the desert is! how fine is the life of the Bedu! how pure is the air!' The shaikh made them a great feast and treated them with all welcome and hospitality, and day after day passed in hunting and riding. Now the story returns to Mai. She, the unfortunate one, when she returned to her people, who met her with great joy and fired their guns for her, made a good face, and answered their questions ' I am happy! M y husband is kind to me. I love him.' They said to her, 'Are you yet pregnant?' She replied, 'I have not yet become pregnant.' Now Mai's eldest brother, 'Aun, when M a i was only a little child, had married a girl called Latlfa. This Latifa had loved Mai like her little sister, and M a i had always been constantly with her in 'Aun's tent. T h e night after Mai's arrival to her people, Latlfa came after the others had gone to sleep to talk with Mai, and said to her, 'Truly, oh Mai, are you happy with Bunayya ?' 1

Spring herbage.

A shaikh's wife and her servants. She is the central standing


Bunayya 237 Then Mai's eyes fell, and she began to weep, and she wept bitterly. And Latlfa said, 'Do you love him, oh Mai?' Mai replied, 'I love him, but he does not love me, and he has never taken me.' Then she told Latlfa the whole story from the night of her wedding till her return. Latlfa said, 'You must tell your father this. Who is Bunayya, that he should put this blackness upon you, the daughter of your father? W e are no common tribe: the blood of the Prophet is in your father's veins!' Mai answered her, 'For the sake of Allah, say nothing! If my father knows it, he will be very angry and will make me divorce Bunayya, and I love him! Even for me to look at him is something, though he will never look at me. My father and brothers must not know, or they will want to kill Bunayya. Tell no one!' So Latlfa told no one, not even c Aun her husband, though her heart was hot for Mai's unhappiness. When her family saw Mai sometimes sad, they said, 'The poor one! she loves her husband, and he is forced to leave her!' So the two years of Bunayya's absence passed. When Bunayya returned, his father said to him, 'Will you go and fetch Mai from her people ?' Bunayya answered, 'I cannot fetch her now that my friends are here.' His father was silent, not wishing to cross him so soon after his arrival. The days went on, and it was the middle of April, when the 'ushub was highest, and the flowers most plentiful. The young men agreed that they should make a journey of a day or two to a place named Tas where there was plenty of game, so that they could get better sport than where they were camped. So they took tents, military tents for themselves and houses-of-hair for the servants, and tribesmen who went with them, and horses, and salugis,1 and all that was necessary, and they set off, the young men and their following, but the shaikh did not go with them. Now Tas, the place to which they went, was not far 1

Persian greyhounds.



from the tents of Mai's people. M a i heard of their coming, and that Bunayya had gone there hunting with his foreign friends, and her father heard of it also, and said to her, 'Your husband is perhaps coming for you,' and she replied, ' H e is with his friends; he will not come for me now.' T o Latlfa she said, ' H e is so near! I must see him! Let us put on men's dress and pass by their camp!' Latlfa would not agree: but it was spring, and in the end she agreed that they would go for a few days if they took servants and some of the other girls in the camp with them, for sometimes the daughters of a shaikh will make expeditions of this kind in the spring when the year is at its best. So the next day Mai and 'Aun's wife dressed as young men and went off riding upon horses, accompanied by some of the girls of the tribe, and a few servants to look after them. They went, and when they were approaching the place in which Bunayya and his friends were camping, some of Bunayya's people saw them, and fearing a raid, urged him to send some one to see who the 'Arab were. So one of the servants galloped out to them, and met them and asked them, 'Who are you ? From whence coming, whither going ? Have you come in enmity or in peace ?' They answered, ' W e are of the Beni and we are out hunting. Our shaikh is called Ahmad.' The Beni are a large tribe like the Aneyza, and Mai was of this tribe, 1 but Bunayya did not ask more, for most of the 'Arab of that part of the desert are of the Beni and their sub-tribes. Latlfa and Mai spread their tents not very far from those of Bunayya, and they sent some one to ask Bunayya and his friends to eat with them that evening. So about sunset, Bunayya and his companions came over to the tents of the 'Arab, and Mai was sitting, dressed like a young shaikh. She rose and greeted them, 'Be welcome!' and all sat in the guest-tent. Presently they brought food — a lamb and rice in a large dish, and all sat round and 1

A discrepancy. She was Bunayya's cousin, and he was of the Shammar.

Bunayya 239 ate. Bunayya thought 'Ahmad' a handsome lad, and he and his friends made merry and laughed and talked with Ahmad till it was late. At the end of the evening Ahmad asked Bunayya to come again and eat with them the next evening, and they replied that they would. Now the friends of Bunayya had talked much about the beauty of the Bedawiya girls that they had seen since their arrival in the desert, and when Bunayya told them that the women of the Beni are renowned for their good looks, they looked about them on leaving, to try to see the women that Ahmad had brought with him. Ahmad had told them that he was not married, but that he had a sister with him, and they hoped to see the sister, thinking that if she resembled the young shaikh she must be beautiful. But they saw no one, but one or two of the girls who had accompanied Mai, and they returned to their tents. But when Bunayya had gone into his tent, he thought of Ahmad's sister and the moon was full, and he felt compelled to wander out into the desert. He went out, and the air was sweet, and the moon was high. H e went towards the black tents of the young shaikh Ahmad, and all was silent there. Then he saw that some one came out of Ahmad's tent, and walked as women walk. He went quickly, and he saw Mai, who had felt restless and ill at ease and had put on her woman's gown and come forth. So they two met, and the moment Bunayya looked on her face, he loved her. It was two years since he had seen her and she had grown tall and when they were married he had scarcely glanced at her. He said to her, 'Who are you ?' She answered, 'I am the sister of Ahmad, and my name is Hayya.' He replied, 'I am Bunayya, and this night I supped with your brother.' They talked, each not daring to gaze much in the other's eyes, for they were shamed with their love. She said, 'I must return, or there will be evil spoken.' He said, 'Come to my tent. I will wait all the night for you.' Replied she, 'Not to-night, it is shame upon me.'

240 Bunayya H e said, 'You will come to-morrow night. I will change the place of my tent, and set it apart a little, so that you will know it, and will not be seen.' So they parted. The next morning, Mai told Latlfa of what had happened, and Latlfa was angry, and said, 'You cannot go to him, for that would be shame upon you! We will strike our camp to-morrow and return to your father.' Said Mai, 'Where is the shame? He is my husband, why should I not go to him?' Said Latlfa, ' H e slighted you, and you will go to him now ?' Answered Mai, 'I love him, and I will go.' In the end she persuaded Latlfa, who consented to remain. The next night Bunayya came with his friends and supped again in the black tents. But he was not so happy as the former evening, for he was thinking of the young Hayya, and wondering if she would come to him. They stayed awhile, and then they returned, and Bunayya went to his tent. He waited there and looked into the desert. Presently she came to him, and he received her like one mad with love. Before dawn she returned to her own place, taking with her his ring, and she found that Latlfa was waiting for her, displeased and angry. Said Latlfa, 'We shall strike our tents at dawn and return, for this has been shame upon you.' Answered Mai, 'Bunayya is my husband, why should I not love him ?' But the next morning, they struck their tents early, and went away. When Bunayya rose, they told him that the 'Arab who had camped by them were gone. H e was angry, and cursed himself, for he knew nothing of the girl more than her name, Hayya (Modesty), and the name of her brother Ahmad, and he could not find out whither they had gone, nor more of them. H e was constantly thinking of Hayya, but he said nothing to his friends or his father. After a while his friends departed, but some of them said that they had enjoyed their visit so much that



they would return the following spring. Bunayya's father said, 'Mamnunl And you are welcome!' but Bunayya remained that year with his tribe. Now shortly after her visit to Tas, Mai perceived that she was pregnant, and she told Latlfa. By this time Mai's father was angry with Bunayya because he had not come to fetch his wife, and she dared not speak of him. W h e n the time came that Mai could not hide her condition, Latlfa said to the shaikh, ' O our father, Mai is ailing, I will go with her to our kinsfolk that she may spend the heat of the summer with them,' for Latlfa was of another tribe. The shaikh said, 'Go with her.' So Latlfa rode with Mai and brought her to the tents of her people, and left her with a woman there to look after her. In time, Mai brought forth a son, and him she named Tas. They sent word secretly to Latlfa, and Latlfa came, and fetched Mai back to her people. So it was until the next spring, when Bunayya's friends came on another visit according to what they had said. Again they went out to hunt. First they went to Tas, but there were no 'Arab there, and Bunayya, hearing that there were Beni farther north, moved his tents nearer to Mai's tribe at a place named Taus. Mai came and pleaded with Latlfa to do as they had done on the former spring, and seeing her weep, and plead, Latlfa was unable to withstand her, and they went as before. W h a t joy there was when Bunayya saw their tents, and knew when he asked of them that the shaikh Ahmad was there! H e visited them at once, and ate with Ahmad that night, he and his companions. W h e n they had gone, Mai put on her woman's dress, and looking, she saw that Bunayya's tent was apart from the rest. So she went to him, and he received her with mad love, for he had longed for her all that year. H e reproached her for having left so quickly the former year, and she made excuses and said the shaikh her brother had willed it so. They talked and hadjoy of each other all the night, and when dawn was approaching, she tookhis dagger 1 1


See note 6, p. 234. ! i



from him, and said, ' T o ward off thejann (from our love)!' and they parted. T h e next morning, Latlfa struck the tents early, fearing for Mai's good name, and they returned. T h i s time, too, M a i had a child in her womb, and Latlfa did as before; she persuaded the shaikh to send M a i with her to her own tribe. There M a i brought forth a second boy, whom she named Taus, 1 and leaving it with the first in the tent of the woman who had given her shelter, she returned to her people. T h e third year came, and the spring, and again some of Bunayya's friends returned to the desert to hunt with him. This year they went to a place called Rumeyla, a short distance from the part of the desert in which the Beni pasture their herds and flocks, and there they put their tents. M a i heard of their coming, for her father was angry that Bunayya made no effort to come and fetch her, and would have sent to attack them, if she had not dissuaded him. Once again, she persuaded Latlfa to go out with her into the desert at a spot near Rumeyla. It was the same as before, and M a i , as the Shaikh Ahmad, received Bunayya with friendliness, and entertained him and his friends. That night she again spent with her husband, who reproached her bitterly for deserting him the former year. But she said nothing, knowing that she must go the next morning, and remembering that he had never come for her as his wife. She would tell him nothing more of herself, but her name, Hayya, and before she left, she took his scarf, and put it amongst her clothes. A third time she became pregnant, and Latlfa, helping her as before, she went to the same woman of Latlfa's tribe, and bore a daughter in her tent. T h e daughter she called 'Rumeyla' (sandy dune). W h e n she returned, she said to Latlfa, 'It is finished, I shall not seek for Bunayya more. I have three children by him, and that is all that I ask. From now I shall live at peace.' So it was, and though Bunayya tried to find out who was 1

Here meaning verdant country.



the Shaikh Ahmad, and where he lived, he discovered nothing, nor did he see him the next spring, or the next, or the next. Five years passed, and each year Mai went to see her children. The boy Tas was now eight years old, his brother Taus seven, and the girl Rumeyla six. Bunayya's father was now very old, and he said to Bunayya, 'You deserted Mai, and her people are angry. You must take another bride of our blood, and have a child by her, for I will soon die, and you have no son.' Bunayya agreed, and it was settled that he should marry a girl from a family to whom they were related. The marriage was fixed, and the news of it came to Mai and her people. Mai went to Latlfa and said, 'Bunayya's children shall go to their father's wedding.' Said Latlfa,'How! Are you mad? You will send your children to the marriage of that man who has treated you so ill?' She answered, 'Aye, I shall send them.' She was not to be dissuaded, and Latlfa journeyed with her to the woman with whom she had left her children. There her children greeted her, 'Oh our Mother!' and embraced her, and she them. Said she to the children, 'Your father is to be married, and I shall send you to the wedding.' So she prepared them good clothes and travelled with them until she came to a wadi 1 near to Bunayya's people. Then she sent them with a servant, and ordered that they should be taken into the madhif 2 during the wedding festivities. But first she spoke with the children, and told them how they must behave. On Tas's finger she put the ring which his father had given her, in Taus's belt she placed Bunayya's dagger with the turquoise-studded hilt, and round Rumeyla's head she twisted the scarf. She told them that when they saw their father Bunayya, they were to sit where he could see them. A slight, or deep depression, or the bed of a stream, when dried. madhif, the large reception tent. T h i s is often enormous, and several hundreds of guests can be accommodated in the tent of an important tribal shaikh. In the marsh-district the madhif is usually a large house of reeds. 1


244 Bunayya Tas was to display his ring, and Taus his dagger, while Rumeyla was to finger her scarf. She said to them, 'If he notices you and speaks to you, call him 'Baba' and kiss his hand.' The children were clever and understood what they were to do, and the servant took them and rode with them until they reached the camp of Bunayya's tribe. When people came and asked whose were the pretty children, the servant answered, 'They are the children of a shaikh, and their mother has sent them to see the wedding.' 1 The children were taken into the guest-tent, and sat down, all three together. Every one noticed them, and asked whose children they were, for they were lovely to look on. To all questions the servant replied, 'They are the children of a shaikh,' but gave no name. Presently Bunayya entered the tent, and the servant, when he knew that it was Bunayya, told them, 'That is the bridegroom!' Bunayya came and seated himself, and seeing the children, he at once noticed their good looks. He asked who they were, and receiving the same answer as the others, he called Tas, 'Come, come!' The boy rose, and came and sat beside him, and following came his little brother and the sister. Bunayya took the boy's hand, and said to him, 'What is your name, my son?' The child answered, ' M y name is Tas,ya Baba!' Bunayya looked at him, and the boy showed his ring. Then Bunayya began to wonder and to be moved in himself, for a father when he meets his son, feels something within him stir, he knows not why. Then he turned, and saw the second boy, whose hand was on the dagger. Bunayya saw the dagger, and he knew it for his. He asked the second boy, 'What is your name ?' The boy answered, ' M y name is Taus, ya Baba' The little girl said, ' M y name is Rumeyla.' Bunayya saw the scarf round her head, and he knew it for his. His understanding flew from him, as he thought of the meaning of the coming of these children. 1

A n y person may come to a wedding-feast, invited or uninvited.



H e asked them, 'Your mother, where is she ?' Said Tas, 'She is in the wadi not far away.' Bunayya arose, and said to the servant who was with the children, 'Come, show me where these children live.' The servant went with him and the children to the wadi where M a i was awaiting them. Bunayya came to her tent, and she stood there to meet him. H e said, ' Y o u are Hayya.' She answered, ' I am Mai, your wife, and these are your children and mine.' Then he entered, and bowed his head before her and said, 'Pardon, pardon!' Then they sat together, and he wept and asked her forgiveness, and she told him all that had happened to her, and how she had come to him in the guise of Ahmad, and as Hayya. Then Bunayya returned with her and his children to his father, and said to him, ' M y father, these are your grandchildren, and this is M a i ! ' The old man rejoiced exceedingly, and embraced the children and blessed them. Then, as Bunayya had no need of a second bride, they sent the new bride back to her people, and M a i lived with her husband, nor did he ever take another.



H E R E was once a girl whose parents were dead, and she had nothing in the world but her cat. This cat was called 'Aisha, and it was very clever, for it brought her food and drink and everything that she needed. One day the cat went and brought her back a golden comb. The girl took it and went to the hammam. She took off her clothes, but she had no soap, nor towel, nor loofah, nor friction glove, nor bath wrap—nothing but her comb, which she put in her hair and sat there naked. A merchant's wife saw her sitting there with the fine comb in her hair, and noticed that she did not soap or wash herself. She came to her and said, 'O my daughter, whose daughter are you?' She answered, 'I am the wife of Mahmud,' naming a merchant of the place. Said the merchant's wife, 'Why do you not wash yourself?' Answered the girl, ' M y maid who brought me here went from here and took my clothes, and soap, and all that is necessary for the bath, leaving me nothing but this comb.' Said the merchant's wife and her family, 'You are the wife of Mahmud the Merchant—we cannot see you in such difficulty. Come, sit by us, and we will lend you loofah and soap.' She came and sat by them, and they helped her bathe herself and wash her hair. When that was over, she had no towel to dry herself, and they lent her towels and bath wrap, and all that was necessary. Now she had thrown her dirty old smock in a corner, and pretended that her maid had taken her clothes also, so they said to her, 'We can provide you with clothes!' and they gave her shoes and stockings, clothes, and an 'aba to place over all. Then they said, 'Now we will take you to your house, where is it ?' She dared not tell them where her real house was for it was nothing but a little mud hut, and she had said that

The Cat 247 she was the wife of Mahmud the Merchant. So she was obliged to go with them to Mahmud's house. When they arrived there, they heard the sound of wailing1 (chatna), and when they entered and asked the servants what was the matter, they answered, 'Oh woe, woe, our mistress, wife of Mahmud, is dead!' The women who had brought the girl replied, 'How can that be ? Mahmud's wife is here, we brought her with us—she was at the bath with us!' So they went up with the girl to the room where the bereaved merchant sat mourning. They said to him, 'Mahmud, is this your wife?' and uncovered her face. The merchant saw that she was beautiful, and loving her at sight, and wishing to protect her, he replied, 'Aye, this is my wife!' and he went out and said to the neighbours who had gathered together to weep, 'Do not stay! My wife has returned.' So she remained with him, and he sent for the mulla and made a marriage contract with her so that she really became his wife, and the merchant was so devoted to her that he could not bear to be parted from her a single instant of the day or night. He allowed her to do no menial task, and treated her with the utmost kindness. Soon after her marriage she became pregnant. The cat heard of her mistress's marriage, and went to live with her. When the girl saw her cat again, she was overjoyed, and said, 'O cat, I am pregnant, and have a longing to make myself some dough-cake. Go, and bring me some dough.' The cat answered, 'O daughter of the poor, you have everything here in your house, flour, leaven, and all that is necessary! Make your dough-cake here and eat it, why should I bring you dough from outside ?' Said the girl, 'My darling cat, bring it to me! for the sake of Allah, bring me some dough!' So the cat went off to a baker's and managed to steal some dough for her mistress, and brought it in her paws 1

See note 2, p. 44.


The Cat

and said, 'There is your dough, rejoice! I have brought it for you.' That day when the merchant had gone to the suq, the girl made a pretext to get the maids out of the way, so as to go secretly to the kitchen and bake her dough. Just as she was about to bake it, the merchant knocked at the door of the courtyard and opened the door and coming in, found his wife in the kitchen. When he saw her there, he cried, 'Why are you here in the smoke and the grease? What are you doing in the kitchen ?' In her confusion, she hid the dough in her lap, and said, 'Go up, go up, I will follow in a moment!' H e replied, 'No! You must not stay here in the grease and smoke!' and he drew her to her feet, and the cake on her lap fell to the ground and was broken. When he gazed to see what had fallen, he saw pieces of gold jewellery ornamented with pearls lying on the ground, and he cried, 'From whence have you these?' She answered, 'From my father's house.' Said he, 'You—have you a father ?' Said she, 'Aye, in Damascus: he is a merchant.' They went upstairs, and all was happiness between them. But the cat said to her, 'Do not tell such lies!' Shortly after this she said to the cat, ' M y cat! Bring me a haggis (kirsha)V Answered the cat, 'How shall I bring you a haggis? All these people here, they will see me!' But she insisted, and in the end the cat went, and stole for her a haggis. When the merchant had gone to the suq, she told the maids, 'I have some work to do in the kitchen,' and sent them out. Then she washed the haggis and prepared it nicely, and was just going to put it in to cook, when her husband came to the door, for he had returned. Said he, 'Why have you come down into the dirt and smoke ?' Answered she, 'I came to see what the maids were doing!' and she hid the haggis in her lap.

The Cat


H e pulled her up by the hand, and the haggis fell, and it became a solid lump of gold all studded with jewels. Said he, 'From whence have you this ?' She answered, 'This is from my father!' Said he, 'How rich he must be to send you presents like this so often!' Said she, 'Aye, he is richer than you are!' So all was well, and they went to eat together. The cat said to her, however, 'I am tired, because of you! I have worked all my life for you, and so hard that I am worn out, and shall most likely die. Now when I am dead, in return for my faithful service, you must wrap me in your husband's coat and bury me.' The girl promised, and the cat lay down, and feigned to die. When she saw that, the girl said to her servant, 'Come, throw the cat on the rubbish-heap, for she is dead.' The servant took the cat by her tail, and threw her on the rubbish-heap. The cat stayed there for a little, and then rose and entered the house again and said to her mistress, 'O daughter of the poor, do you treat me thus ? I have always worked well for you, and this is the way you reward me—you take me and throw me on the rubbish-heap!' The girl said, 'Pardon! I was thoughtless!' Replied the cat, 'Let it be this time, but you must not do it again.' A little while after this the girl was annoyed with her husband about something, and she called out in her rage, 'Your beard is no better than the broom in my father's house!' The merchant was angry, and said, 'Why do you say that my beard is no better than the broom in your father's house,' and he quarrelled with her and would not speak to her. The girl went to her cat and said, ' M y husband is very angry with me, and I am afraid he will divorce me. Do me a favour, for the sake of Allah!' 3800



2 so

The Cat

And she told the cat what she had said in her anger. The cat said, 'This time I will help you, but you must not use such language to your husband in future.' The cat went to Damascus and heard there that a wealthy merchant was dying. She entered the merchant's house, and contrived to slip into his room. Just as she did so the merchant died. She slipped beneath the coverlet of the bed, and when his eldest son came near the bed to see how his father was, she spoke from beneath the coverlet and said, 'O my son! I have a daughter who is married and lives in Baghdad. H e r husband is chief of the merchants there and he lives in such-and-such a street. I lay upon your obedience that you send her eight camelloads of money, and five brooms with handles of gold and hairs of pearl: and you must give her a fifth of my lands as well.' Said his son, 'O my father, till now, you have never told us that we had a sister.' Answered the cat from the dead merchant's bed, ' I was once in Baghdad, and I married a woman there, and then divorced her. This girl is that woman's daughter. I lay upon you as my dying wish that you should not forget what I have told you. Send her the money and the brooms, and say, ' T h y father is dead!' A s long as you live, you must look after your sister, and it will be better if you live with her in Baghdad.' Said the son, ' H o w many years have passed and you never spoke to me about this sister in Baghdad!' Said the cat, 'I was afraid to tell you, but I have always sent her money and presents.' Then the cat was silent, and the merchant's son, approaching the bed, perceived that his father was dead. They washed the merchant, and mourned him, and put him in the tomb, while the cat returned to her mistress and said, 'I have done what you asked.' Soon after a telegram came from Damascus, addressed to the girl, which said, 'Our father is dead (we hope that) you are well.' When the merchant her husband opened this telegram,

The Cat


he began to repent having quarrelled with so wealthy a wife as his must now be, and made up his mind to be reconciled to her. So he went to her and said, lAbuch mat, nti tayyiba ! Your father is dead, may you be in health!'

She answered him, lNta tayyib /1 May you be in health!'

and began to throw up her arms and wail. While the seven days' mourning was in progress the eight camels and their drivers arrived, and they were laden with money and the five brooms on the top of all. Upon each of the brooms the name of the girl was written. When her husband beheld them, he was overjoyed, and taking one of the brooms in his hand, he said, 'When you compared my beard to the broom in your father's house, I confess I was angry, and thought it an insult, now I know, my dearest wife, that you paid me a compliment!' A short time after this the poor cat fell sick (Allah have mercy on you!) 2 and after a few days it died. The girl, thinking it might be shamming death, was afraid to throw it on the rubbish-heap, so she took her husband's coat, wrapped the cat in it, and laid it in a box. After a few days she said to herself, 'I must see if the cat is well or if it is really dead!' So she opened the box, unwrapped the cat and saw to her surprise that the cat was changed into a cat of solid gold, and that a sweet odour emanated from it. She lifted it out, and set it on the table of her reception room, and was delighted to have such a handsome ornament. Her husband entered the room, and asked her, 'From whence have you this fine model of a cat?' She replied, 'It has been sent me from my father's house.' The merchant said, 'What beautiful things they have in your father's house!' Said she, 'I beg your permission to go to visit my brothers there!' Said he, 'You may go, and I will accompany you.' 1 Nta tayyib! Y o u are in health!' is a way of announcing death to a relative of the deceased. 2 The mention of misfortune should be accompanied by a pious phrase. See p. 274.

The Cat


They sent a telegram to her brothers, ' W e are leaving Baghdad and coming to pay you a visit.' When the brothers received this news they were delighted and said, ' W e are delighted that our sister is coming, for we want to see what kind of a woman she is!' 1 In due time the girl and her husband arrived in Damascus. The eldest brother came to meet her: he was a very wealthy man like his father, and he was rejoiced to see her and welcome her. They held seven days' mourning for the death of their father, and at the end of that time she said to her husband, ' M y brothers would like us to remain here with them always.' Answered he, 1Shidn ! A m I to leave all my property in Baghdad? That cannot be! I must return to my own country.' Then she said to her brothers, lMayukhalif! It matters not! W e must go back to our own country.' They replied, 'Oh sister, go with your husband! But we love you so well that we shall sell our possessions here and come with you.' So they all travelled to Baghdad, and that was the end of them!

Kunna 'adkum wa jtna!


Literally, Shlonha, what colour she is.

XLIY T H E FISH T H A T L A U G H E D HERE was a Sultan, and, as it had been foretold to him that a daughter would bring shame upon him, each time that his wife bore him a girl baby, he slaughtered it. Now he had a wazlr, and one day this wazlr was riding his mare, when they passed five or six boys playing knucklebones by the roadside. The boys made a noise, and the mare shied, and the wazlr clapped his legs against her sides. Cried one of the boys who were playing, 'Shame! Why do you so? Unbeliever! why mistreat your mare!' Said the wazir, 'What business is it of yours ?' Answered the boy, 'The mare will bring forth a foal, which would be worth a treasure had you not rendered it blind of one eye by that blow you have given her.' The wazlr thought within himself, 'How is it that a boy so young knows that my mare is with foal!' and he went his way. A little afterwards the mare had a foal, a beautiful creature, but its right eye was blind. The wazlr said to his wife, 'What a clever boy that was! Yesterday, as I was passing him, I struck the mare with my foot, and he cried to me that the foal which the mare would bring forth would be blind in one eye! What an intelligent boy!' Answered his wife, 'There be many sharp boys in the world!' Said the wazlr, 'But how did he know that the foal would be blind. His words came true—what a clever boy!' Now the Sultan's wife was pregnant, and she was afraid that the child she would bring into the world would again be a daughter, and that the Sultan would kill it, and she resolved to go to the Sultan and beg him to spare the child if this time it should be a girl. So she went into the presence of the Sultan, and seized his two hands. H e said, 'Sit!' and she sat.

254 The Fish that Laughed. Said he, 'What do you want ?' Answered she, 'I beg you, in the name of Allah, that if this time I should bring a girl into the world that you will not kill her,' and she pleaded so long that he said at last, 'Go, and I promise that if this time your baby is a girl, I will not kill her.' In due time the woman was delivered of a daughter, and after the babe was three days old, the mother brought her to the Sultan and said, 'I have a daughter. I beg you, keep your word, and do not kill her!' Answered he, 'Good, I will not kill her!' But he took her from the mother, and placed her with a wet-nurse in a castle which he built beside his own. No man was allowed to enter the castle, and the child was not allowed outside it. But in order that he might send messages and food and all that was required into the castle, he sent for a blacksmith, and ordered him to make a man of iron (admi yashtaghal bilyai, a man working by springs), which was wound like a clock, and passed from the diwan of his castle into the diwan of the castle of his daughter. The child grew and grew, dt, dt, di! and reached the age of twelve, thirteen, and fourteen. The wet-nurse left her, and she learnt from female professors reading and writing, but never left the interior of the castle. To amuse herself, she wrote a chronicle of all that happened in her father's castle and of the news which was brought to her of the world, but she did not go out. And thus she reached the age of twenty. Now the Sultan had a fisherman, whose duty it was to catch fish for his table, for the Sultan ate much fish and preferred it to meat or fowl. For supplying the fish the fisherman was given a wage, and what fish he caught over and above the Sultan's needs, he was permitted to sell in the suq. One day of days the fisherman took his net, and threw it, and when he drew it up there was no fish in it, not one. He furled his net, and threw it again, and again there were no fish in it. This happened many times, and the fisherman became very troubled, saying, 'If I bring

The Fish that Laughed


the Sultan no fish, he will be angry and I may lose my head!' Di, di, dil he threw and he threw till at last when he drew in his net he saw in it two fishes, a pair, about the length of half your arm. H e was very glad, and said, 1 Yd ruhanI1 Allah has saved me from the Sultan! and I will take him these!' As he was examining them, and noticing how curiously decorated the scales of the fish were, the fish laughed. Said he, 'These are indeed astonishing fish! Truly, I will lay them before the Sultan.' H e went, and entered the Sultan's presence, and said, 'All the night I threw my net and caught no fish, but at last I caught this pair, and never before in my life have I seen such fish! for they laugh. Let your Majesty gaze upon them, for I have brought them for you to see.' The Sultan said, 'What a strange thing!' and calling a servant, he told him to fill a basin with water, and to bring it to him. It was done, and the fish were thrown into the bowl. The fish began to swim about and to laugh. Cried the Sultan, 'This is indeed a marvel! I will send them to my daughter to see.' So he called for the iron man, and wound him up and put the fish in his arms, and wrote upon a piece of paper, 'I send you these for your amusement. Never have I seen such marvellous fish!' Then he touched the spring, and fr-r-r-r! the iron man went into the daughter's castle, into the presence of the young princess. When she had read the note, the girl called a servant and bade her bring a bowl of water. No sooner were they in the water than the fish began to laugh. The girl pondered, and then she wrote to her father, 'Oh, papa, I was very amused by the fish, but I want to know why they laugh ?' Then she wound the man up and sent him back. The Sultan took the note, and read it, and then called his wazlr, and said to him, 'Oh, wazlr, tell me, why do these fish laugh.' The wazlr was unable to reply. Then the Sultan said, 1

A pious exclamation of relief.


The Fish that Laughed.

'I will give you three days to find out why the fish laugh. If you do not find out in that time, I will take your head off.' The wazlr was very downcast when he heard these words, and he returned to his house, without appetite or spirit. His wife asked him what was the matter, and when he told her, she consoled him, saying, 'Do not be troubled, my husband; Allah is merciful, perhaps, by inquiring here and there you will find some one who will be able to explain the meaning of this miracle.' The wazlr went to all the learned men, and the old men, and he asked in the mosques, in the baths, in the shops; of the wizards and the doctors, and the barbers, but all replied to him, 'There is no meaning in it that we know.' The evening of the first day, and the evening of the second day, came, the wazlr said to his wife, 'There has been none to explain the miracle, oh woman! not one!' They could neither eat or sleep. The evening of the third day came, and the wazlr sat weeping, 'O woman, I have found no answer!' His wife pondered, and at last she exclaimed, 'O my husband, I have a word for you! You have asked all the wise men in the city, and they have been able to tell you nothing. But you have not remembered that boy who told you not to beat the mare: perhaps he will know, for he was an intelligent boy.' Said the wazlr,'Aye, woman, true! I have not asked him.' Said she, 'Go and find him.' Answered the wazlr, 'I do not know his name, nor where he lives, but I know one of the boys who was playing knucklebones with him, and he may know where to find him.' And he rose and said, 'Go, fetch my clothes, I will go to that boy.' H e put on his clothes and went to the house of the boy whom he knew, and said to him, ' M y dear, one day I was riding past on my mare and I saw you playing knucklebones with some other boys, and one of them called to me not to beat my mare. Do you know his house, and can you guide me to it.'

The Fish that Laughed


Answered the boy, 'Yes, I know his house and will guide you to it.' And he came with the wazir and showed him the house, and knocked at the door. The boy's mother called out, 'Who is it ?' The wazir answered,'I! Openthedoor. Isyour son here?' The mother called, 'Come down, my son, a man wants you at the door!' The boy came, and when he saw the wazir, he knew him. Said the wazir, ' M y darling, my son, I have a word to speak with you!' Answered the boy, 'Speak! what do you want?' And the wazir told him of the fish that the fisherman had brought to the Sultan, and that the Sultan had demanded that he should tell him why they laughed, so that he might tell his daughter. Said the wazir, 'If you can tell me the reason, so that I may save my head, I will enrich you (and Allah is the Enricher).' Said the boy, 'When you came and called me, I was afraid. But your business is a simple matter—it is nothing!' Said the wazir, 'Then tell me.' Answered the boy, 'No, that I will not! But if you will take me to the Sultan, and say to him, "I cannot tell why the fish laughed, but this boy knows, and will tell you," all will be well.' The wazir said, 'Good.' Said the boy, 'To-morrow early I will come to your house and fetch you and we will go together to the palace.' So it was, and the boy came to the wazlr's house and they went together to the Sultan's palace. When they arrived, they went in and the wazir took the boy, who was about twelve years old, into the Sultan's presence, and he said to the Sultan, 'O your Majesty, I was not able to discover why the fish laughed, but I have found this boy, and he knows.' The Sultan lifted his head and looked at the boy and said, 'You know why the fish laughed ?' 3800




The Fish that Laughed

Answered the boy, 'Yes, I know.' Said the Sultan, 'Tell me, oh my son! What is the meaning of it ?' Answered the boy, 'Nay, I will not tell you.' Said the Sultan, 'Why will you not tell me ?' Said the boy, 'I will tell your daughter, and none other!' The Sultan looked at the boy, and said to himself, 'This boy is as yet a child, he is no grown man, I will let him go to my daughter!' So he called for the iron man, and told the boy to get upon him, then he wound the iron man up, and the iron man passed with the boy from the Sultan's palace to hers, from his dlwan to hers, and with him a word to tell who the boy was. The princess read her father's letter and looked at the boy. Said the boy, 'What does your highness want of me ?' Said the princess, 'I wish to know why the fish laughed.' Answered the boy, 'If I tell you, you will regret it.' Said she, 'Nay, I shall not regret it!' He repeated, 'You will not repent it ?' 'No, I shall not repent it!' Said the boy, 'To-day I will tell you a short story, and then, if you wish, to-morrow I will tell you the meaning of the fish which laughed.' Said she, 'Tell me.' Said the boy, 'There was once a man who had a falcon, and went hawking with it. A falconer he was, and his life was bound up in that bird. Day and night he held the falcon on his wrist, and he lived by what it caught for him. One summer's day he went hawking. It was very hot, and after a while he became thirsty. He walked and he walked, with the falcon on his hand, but water there was none to be found. Presently he came to a high rock, and as he watched, a drop of clear water fell from the top of the rock. He watched, and after some time, there fell another drop. So he drew a cup from his pocket, and set it where the drops would fall into it. The cup was filling, when the bird flapped its wings and upset it. Now the man was half

A fisherman on the Tigris, throwing his net

The Fish that Laughed 259 dead from thirst, and his tongue was dry, so he set the cup again to catch the drops. When it was nearly full and he was about to drink it, the bird again flapped its wings and the cup overturned. A third time he set the cup, and waited, and a third time the falcon overset the cup. Then he was very angry: he seized the bird by its neck and hurled it to the ground, and it died. 'Then the falconer began to think, "Why did the bird upset the water? From whence does it come? I will ascend the rock and see." 'When he got to the top of the rock he saw a serpent panting with open mouth upon the top of the rock, and the venom from its mouth ran and fell down from the rock. And he repented his act—and if I tell you why the fish laughed, you too will repent, like the man.' She replied, 'Nay, I shall not repent.' Then the boy said, 'For to-day I shall wish you peace, and to-morrow I will return and tell you why the fish laughed.' Then the boy went away, and the girl sent word to her father that the boy had left her. Asked the Sultan, 'Did he tell you why the fish laughed ?' She replied, 'No, but to-morrow he will tell me.' The second day came, and the boy went to the Sultan's palace, and mounted the iron man, and went to the princess. When he saw her he asked her, 'What do you want from me ?' She replied, 'I want you to tell me why the fish laughed.' Said he, 'O my sister, if I tell you, you will regret it!' Said she, 'Nay, but I shall not repent it.' Said he, 'Let me but tell you a small story, and tomorrow I will tell you why the fish laughed.' Answered she, 'Tell it, my brother.' Said the boy, 'There was once a man and wife, who, though they were married for twenty years, had no child. At last, Allah gave them a son, and he was their joy and blessing. Now this pair also had a dog named Jak, and this dog loved the baby, and slept beneath its cradle, and


The Fish that Laughed

rocked it to sleep. The child was always with the dog, and played with it, and the man and his wife were fond of the dog as they were fond of the child. One day the woman said to her husband, " M y head is dirty, I want to go to the bath: keep your eye on the b o y ! " and she went out, leaving her husband in the house, and the dog beneath the cradle rocking the baby. Said the man to himself, " I will sit by the house-door and watch for my wife, and the dog J a k will guard the boy and rock his cradle." So he went and sat at the house-door. There came a serpent, and coiled itself around the cradle and the baby, and tried to bite the child. Jak, when he saw it, was very angry, and fought with the serpent and killed it. H e stretched it out dead by the cradle, and then returned to its rocking. Came the woman from the bath, and when he heard her voice, Jak, his face all covered with blood, ran to meet her, very pleased because he had killed the serpent. 'The woman called the man, and cried, "See the blood on the dog's face! O father of my son, he has killed our b o y ! " 'The man drew out his hanger and killed the dog. Then they went upstairs, and there was the serpent stretched out by the cradle dead, and the cradle was still rocking as the dog had left it. 'In that hour, did the man and his wife repent over Jak, or did they not ?' Answered she, 'They repented, bitterly they repented!' Said he, ' M y dear, if I tell you why the fish laughed, you too will repent bitterly.' Answered she, 'Nay! I shall not repent! Never!' Said the boy, 'Not to-day, but to-morrow, I will tell you. But in your dlwan there must be assembled your father, and his ministers, and all his court. Then I will tell you why the fish laughed.' With that he mounted the man of iron and returned to the Sultan's palace. The Sultan said, 'Did you tell my daughter why the fish laughed?' The boy replied, 'No, I shall tell her to-morrow, but

The Fish that Laughed.


you must be present, and your wazirs, and your officials, and your qadhis: to your daughter alone I shall not say it.' Said the Sultan, 'Good.' And on the next day, the Sultan, and his advisers and his court and the qadhis, assembled in the diwan of the princess, and the princess sat on a couch in the midst. Then came the boy, and the Sultan said, 'Speak, my son, for all are here.' Answered the boy, 'For two days I have spoken to your daughter in parables, telling her that she will repent if I tell her why the fish laughed, and she has answered me each time, "Nay, I will not repent." And now I will tell you all in two words, and see how you will regret it!' They all answered, 'Nay, we shall not regret it!' He asked the princess for the last time, 'And you, will you not regret it ?' She answered, 'No.' Then said he to the princess, 'Rise, quickly! Stand up!' The princess said, 'I have repented!' and remained sitting. The boy said, 'Nay! Rise!' and she rose. Next he said, 'Lift the couch!' and they lifted it, and at his bidding they removed the carpet and the matting. Then he told them to lift the marble slab beneath, and they lifted it, and below it there were steps leading into the cellar. They went down the steps, and behold, in the cellar they found forty men, the lovers of the princess. Then said the boy, 'That fish laughed at the intelligence of your father, who thought to keep you from evil by shutting you up and letting none but a man of iron go in to you: the while you received nightly these forty men, who came in from the desert by an underground passage and made love to you, and you amused yourself with them!' The Sultan lowered his head for shame, and called his executioner, and said to him, 'Take off my daughter's head, I do not want her any mere as daughter of mine!'

262 The Fish that Laughed And it was done as he had said. Then he called the boy and said, 'Children I have none now, and because you are so clever, I will make you my son, and you shall inherit all that I have.' And he took off his crown and put it upon the boy's head. Kunna 'adkum wa jin a Wad dajf urngarg a wal arils hazina !




HERE was once an honest man, upon whom Fortune never smiled. His wife deceived him, his sons robbed him, and when his beard was white he found himself without either money or honour. H e complained of his ill fortune one day in the suq to a friend, who counselled him to make a pilgrimage to the tomb of a holy man, as this had been known to bring children to the childless, wealth to the penniless, and success to the unfortunate. The old man decided that he would go, and taking his staff and a little bread, he set out the next day. H e had not gone very far on the road before he came to a rocky place, and there was a lion, his head between his paws, roaring as if with pain. The honest man was merciful, and cared not to see beasts suffer, so he stopped and asked the lion, 'Why are you roaring, O Abu Khumeyis?' 1 1 Wallah T said the lion, 'I roar because my head pains me. For the past sixty days I can neither eat nor sleep for pain. And you, where are you going ?' Said the man, 'I am going on a pilgrimage in the hope of mending my fortunes.' Said the lion, 'And which shrine do you visit?' Said the man, 'The shrine of the two Kadhims.' Said the lion, 'I beg you, if while you are there, you can learn how I may best cure my pain, you will tell me on your return!' iM.amnunl Thankfully!' answered the honest man, and he went on his way. Presently he came to a lake. In the lake were many fishes, and they were all at play, diving and swimming, save one large fish, which floated on the water like a ship. 'Peace on you!' said the man. 'Why, oh fish, do you not dive and swim like your fellows ?' Said the fish, 'Alas, I cannot! Some sickness has taken 1

See note z, p. 81.


The Honest Man

me, and I cannot swim below in the cool water, but must float above in the sun. And you, where are you going?' Said the man, 'I am going to visit the shrine of the two Kadhims, so that they may reveal to me a way of mending my fortune.' Said the fish, 'Friend, mention my trouble also, I beg you.' And the honest man promised not to forget it. He went farther along the road for a day or two and he came to a field, and in it he saw three men, digging hard so that the sweat ran down their faces. 'Peace be upon you!' cried the honest man, and they answered him, 'And on you the peace!' 'The sun is hot,' said the old man, 'why do you labour so hard ?' 'Our father left us this piece of land which he said would bring us great riches, and though we toil, as you see, with spade and plough as he bade, the land is salty and yields nothing. And you, where are you going ?' 'I go to Kadhimain to pray at the tomb of the Imams who will, God willing, reveal to me the way to fortune.' Said the brothers, 'And Allah with you! Remember us also in thy prayers, uncle, so that our toil may be rewarded.' And the honest man promised to pray for them. After some days of travel, he reached the city of Kadhimain, 1 and paid his visit to the holy tombs, and made his prayer there. And the third day he fell asleep by the tomb of the holy Musa al Kadhim, and it seemed to him that he saw standing before him a reverend man, who wore a green turban, and had an aspect of authority. And he knew him for the Imam. And the Imam said to him, 'Peace, my son! What can I do for thee, to put thee in the way of happiness in this world and in the next ?' And the honest man said, 'Peace and prayer upon thee! Before I tell thee my troubles, holy one, permit me to relate the trouble of three men whom I passed upon the road.' And he recounted what the three brothers had told him of their father's inheritance. 1

Near Baghdad.

The Honest Man 265 'That is easy,' said the Imam. 'They must dig very deep in the centre of the field and there they will discover a chest of marble containing a treasure. Thus will their father's words be fulfilled. And now, my son, tell me thine own trouble.' 'I thank thee,' said the honest man, 'but I have yet another promise to redeem. Farther back, I saw a fish, which suffered the greatest misery because it could not dive beneath the surface, but must swim like a ship in the heat of the sun. I vowed that I would ask thee concerning the matter.' 'Know,' said the saint, 'that thou must call her to the bank and smite her on the head with my staff. She will then recover. And now, what is it that thou desirest for thyself?' 'Wait a little,' said the honest man, 'there is yet another matter that I promised to lay before thee. This concerns Abu Khumeyis, the lion, who has suffered from a headache these sixty days and can neither eat nor sleep.' 'His case is also easy,' answered the Imam. 'All that he has to do is to eat the head of a fool, and he will instantly be cured.' 'And now,' said the man, 'I beg thee for myself, for lo! I prosper in nothing!' 'Go in peace,' said the saint. 'I have already told thee that which is necessary to end thy troubles.' With that, the vision disappeared, and the old man prepared for his homeward journey, his mind at rest about the future because of the Imam's kind words. H e soon reached the field in which the three brothers were at their fruitless labours. H e hailed them, and told them what the saint had said concerning their heritage. As soon as they heard his words, they took their spades and dug into the centre of the plot, and behold! there was the marble chest, even as the Imam had said, and when they opened it, they saw that it was full of gold and jewels. In the heat of their gratitude they said to the old man, 'You are the cause of our happiness, and therefore it is but just that you should be the partaker of our gain. Take half this treasure for yourself, old man!' 3800 M m

The Honest Man 266 'But the honest man replied, lLa! ma yasir! No, that cannot be! Far be it from me, my sons, to take that which your father intended to leave you! Enjoy the good fortune which Heaven has sent you, and I will go on my way!' So he parted from them and walked on and on until he came to the lake. There was the fish, swimming disconsolately on the surface as before. Calling her to the side of the pond, he told her of the saint's message, and she begged him to use his staff, and placed her head upon the bank that he might smite it. Thereupon, he hit a shrewd blow, with the result that a blister in the fish's head broke, and a large diamond fell out on the bank. The fish swam off, and with the utmost joy began to dive and plunge with her fellows. 'Stop, stop, my sister!' cried the old man. 'You have left a costly diamond here on the bank where robbers can seize it!' The fish put her head out of the water to say, 'What is that to me? I have no use for diamonds!' And she plunged below again. 'Yet it were a pity to have it stolen!' said the old man, and he cast it after her into the middle of the pond. Then he went on his way, and at last he came to the rocks where the lion lay roaring in his pain. The honest man approached the lion, and said,'Oh Abu Khumeyis, I saw the Imam and fulfilled my promise.' 'Tell me all,' said the lion. And the honest man told him all his adventures, from the beginning to the end. 'What said the Imam concerning me ?' asked the lion, with attention. ' H e said, my brother, that thou hadst to eat the head of a fool, and thy troubles would cease.' 'And with them, thine, inshallahY1 roared the lion, and he sprang upon the honest man, bit his head off, and devoured it. 1

Please God.




H E R E were once two brothers, and the one was generous and the other niggardly. Both were poor, and had so little in their pockets that they made up their minds to go out into the world to improve their fortunes. Said the generous brother, 'Come! we will go out into the chol and see what we can find. Before we go let us bake bread, so that we may have something to eat on the road. If my food is finished first you can give me some of yours, and if yours is finished, I will give you some of mine. Perhaps Allah will provide for us if we go elsewhere, for here times are bad, and we cannot earn our living.' Said the other, 'As you will, my brother.' Each brother went to his mother 1 and asked her to bake some bread, saying, 'We are going away to look for work.' The mothers rose, made dough, baked bread and gave to them, and each man put his loaf in his bag, and then they set off together into the ch5l. They walked and they walked, and when they were hungry they ate. After a while the generous one said to his brother, ' M y brother, I have finished my bread, give me a little morsel of yours as we agreed before we left home.' The other replied, 'Oh, that agreement is far away! I shall not give you any of my bread.' Said the generous one, 'What is this! I am your brother, and I am hungry, and you promised that we should share our provisions. I only ask a morsel!' Said the greedy one, 'Never! I can't spare you even a crumb!' The generous one replied, 'If you refuse even a crumb, our roads part here! I will go one way and you the other, and I will know you no more!' 1

T h e y were brothers by different wives.

268 The Generous Man and the Niggardly


So they parted—one went in one direction and the other in the other. The generous one walked and walked,

ardh athattu ardh atshtlu, ardh athattu, ardh atshtlu, until it

was evening. H e looked about for a place where he might shelter that night, and saw a cave. Said he to himself, 'I will spend the night here. Should a lion, or jackal, or deyu attack me, God is my protection!' And he entered the cave, and wrapped up his head and slept there. When night fell, a pair of lions entered the cave. Said one to the other, 'There is a smell of man (beni Adam) here, my brother!' Replied the other, lFiit! how can beni Adam be here? No man would come hither! Perhaps we smell ourselves, for we have eaten man.' When he heard the lions, the man awoke, and began to tremble with fright. The lions lay down, and presently one lion said to the other, 'I have something to tell you.' Said the other lion, 'Tell me!' Said the first, 'There is a rat in this cave, and in his hole there is a heap of gold. H e has a gold tray in his hole also, and every morning, at dawn of day, he takes the treasure out of the hole so that the rays of the sun may fall on the gold, and he plays on it, and presently takes it back to his hole. If we kill the rat we can take the gold, and I will tell you what we can do with it. In the town which lies a league off there is a Sultan whose daughter is afflicted by a jinni. Her father is seeking for one to come and cure her. Now there are some 'Arab camped not far away, and one of them has a black dog. We will take the gold, buy the dog, kill it, and put its blood in a jar. If the princess be bathed in the blood of this black dog, she will be cured—and this is the only cure for her malady.' The man listened to what they were saying, and understood it. Replied the second lion, 'That is not lion's work, it is work for a son of Adam!'

The Generous Man and the Niggardly



The first lion repeated, 'I tell you this: the Sultan's daughter can only be cured by the blood of this black dog.' They conversed a little more, and then went out. The man waited till it was dawn and the rays of the morning sun struck the entrance to the cave, and then he took a big stone and laid it ready to hand beside him. Presently, from a hole in the rock a rat came out, dragging in its teeth a tray. H e placed it at the mouth of the cave, and then fetched out some pieces of gold which he placed in the tray. Then he began to play amongst the gold pieces, scattering them, and heaping them, and enjoying himself amongst the yellow gold. H e played and played, and tiring after a while, he stopped and rested. The man then took the stone, aimed at the rat, and threw it as hard as he was able. D u m — m — m ! It hit the rat and it died. How delighted the man was! H e took off his cheffiyah and tied up the gold in it and set off walking. H e asked each man that he met, where the 'Arab were camping, and they guided him, saying, 'There are 'Arab in such and such a place.' H e followed their directions and presently he came upon the houses of hair. H e went to one of them, and entered it and sat, saying, 'Peace upon you!' They answered him, 'Upon you peace.' Presently he took out a piece of gold 1 from his pocket and said, 'I am hungry: give me some laban2 and bread and shenina.2 They brought him food and drink and said, ' W e are 'Arab, we do not want your money! Be pleased to eat!' H e ate, and they brought him a pipe and he smoked, then he lay down to sleep. When he rose the next morning, he went and walked about the place, and he saw a big black dog, as large as a ram, tied to one of the tents by a chain. H e asked, 'Who is the master of this baitV and a man answered him, 'I.' H e said, 'Will you sell this dog?' The man answered, ' N o — w h y should we sell him ? H e 1 2

He was a townsman and was not familiar with the usage of the desert. See notes i and 2, p. 176.

270 The Generous Man and the Niggardly Man is a faithful dog and a strong dog, and we do not wish to part with him.' Said the generous man, 'But I want your dog, and I will pay a good price for him.' The Bedawi replied, 'Never! I will not part with him.' Said the other, 'Name your price! Even if it is high, I will pay it.' 'I will not sell him!' 'I will give you ten gold pieces!' l Ma yaslr! It cannot be!' 'Fifteen!' 'It cannot be!' 'Twenty!' 'It cannot be!' and so it went on until he said, 'Fifty!' Then the Badawi could not resist the offer, and said, 'Take the dog!' H e gave him the gold, and took the dog on a chain, and a jar, and he went into the chol, walking, walking, walking, until he came to a hole. He put the dog into the hole, killed him there, and let his blood fall into the jar (tunga). Then he rose and walked until he came to the town where the Sultan lived. He entered it, and began to cry, 'A doctor! a healer!' through the streets. They heard him in the palace, and went to the Sultan and said to him, 'A new physician has come to the town, he is crying, "A doctor, a healer!" through the streets. Shall we fetch him in ?' The Sultan replied, 'What is the use! I have employed fifty physicians and wise men in the effort to cure my daughter, and not one of them has succeeded. Why should this one be more useful than the others ?' The Prime Minister said, 'You have employed fifty, let this one be the fifty-first. Is there not a saying, Hajarat elleti ma yirdha lik biha, tifchakh !l Let us call him, and we will see.' The Sultan said, 'Call him.' 1

The stone which you thought useless will strike. Tifchakh should be tifjahh.

The Generous Man and the Niggardly Man 271 Some of his people went, and brought the man into the presence of the Sultan, and the Sultan said to him, 'I have a daughter who is possessed of a jinni. She is chained below in the cellar. If you can cure her, say.' Replied the man, 'With the permission of Allah, I will cure her.' Said the Sultan, 'If you do not cure her, I will take off your head!' Replied the man, 'You have laid down a condition for me. I will lay down one for you!' Said the Sultan, 'Speak!' Answered the man, 'If I cure your daughter, I will take her to wife. If I do not, you may take my head off!' Pens and paper were brought, and the agreement was written down and the Sultan and the healer set their seals to it. Then the healer said, 'Let the bath be heated to fever heat.' They heated the bath, and he said, 'Where is the Sultan's daughter?' They answered, 'She is chained in the sirdab,' 1 and took him down to the cellar, and unlocked the door. Within the princess lay naked, and cried out upon him. Said the healer, 'Rise, at once!' She rose to her feet, shrieking with fright, and they seized her and bore her by force to the bath. Then he bade them leave him there alone with her, and they went and left him alone with the girl. H e took the jar and poured the dog's blood on her head, and rubbed it over her skin, until her body was completely imbrued with the blood.2 She sat there dumb for an hour, and then she lifted her head and cried out, 'What is this strange man doing 1

See note i, p. 63. This must be a fedu or 'ransom' ceremony. A black animal, or bird, often appears in Semitic magical ceremonies as the 'ransom' whose sacrifice averts misfortune. Comp. the 'purification by blood' which appears so often in the Bible, e.g. Hebrews x. 22. A favourite charm in Baghdad is a shell which has been dipped in the blood of seven slaughtered sheep at 'Id al Dhahia. It is pierced and worn as an amulet against sickness of various kinds. 2

271 The Generous Man and the Niggardly Man here?' and began to call for her maids in a tone of alarm, 'Jaffarana! Khazarana! Come! I am here alone with a man!' The slaves heard her calling in her natural voice, and came running and rejoicing and crying, 'Our blbl is cured! Our blbl is cured!' They entered making joy-cries, and washed her and clothed her and combed her, and took her up to her apartments. She was as sane as she had been before, and the madness had left her. As soon as the wazlr knew it, he went into the Sultan's presence and said, 'Deign to come and see your daughter and how she is!' The Sultan entered his daughter's dlwan, and she rose, and took his hand and kissed it. Her father was overjoyed. H e sat down and began to converse with her, and then the healer entered his presence, and said, 'Your Majesty, what was our agreement ?' The Sultan replied, 'Aye, true! O wazlr, call the mulla, and draw up the marriage contract!' So the wedding was celebrated with great rejoicing, and when it was over, the Sultan took off" his crown and put it on his son-in-law's head, and said, 'You are my son, and you shall reign in my stead.' See how Allah prospered this generous man! The new Sultan reigned well and wisely, and a day came, and a day went (ja ydm, rah ydm, ja ydm, rah yom), until a long time had passed. One morning the Sultan looked out and he saw passing below the window of the palace a darwish, begging for food from the passers-by. When he gazed at the man, he saw that it was his brother —the greedy one. The Sultan called a servant and said, 'Go, fetch me that darwish, I wish him brought into my presence.' The servant went out and called, 'Baba darwish, baba darwish, come! Our Sultan wants to speak to you!' Answered the darwish, 'Why does he want me?' The servant answered, 'Come, come!' and took him and brought him into the palace. There they set food before him and sherbet and coffee, while the Sultan looked on. The darwish did not recognize his brother in the Sultan,

The Generous Man and the Niggardly Man 273 and feared that it was intended to play a trick upon him. When he had eaten and drunk, the Sultan called him, and said, 'Do you know me ?' The darwlsh replied, 'Showkatli—your Majesty—how should I know you? I am a poor darwlsh, but just arrived from the desert, how should I know you ?' Said the Sultan, 'Do you not know me at all ?' (Hich

ma tarifm?)

'I do not know you at all!' Said the Sultan, 'I am your brother—to whom you refused a morsel of bread. See what Allah has done for me, and how he has treated you!' The darwlsh fell upon his knees and besought the Sultan, 'Do not use me with hardness, as I used you!' The Sultan replied, 'Never!' and raised him, and treated him as a guest. Said the darwlsh, 'How did you become rich like this ? Tell me, so that I can enrich myself also.' The Sultan said, 'No, that may not be.' But the darwlsh pressed him, saying, 'Only tell me for the story's sake.' At last the Sultan told him how it had happened, and the darwlsh exclaimed, 'I will go also to the lions' cave and perhaps I too shall get rich!' The Sultan replied, 'No! You are my brother and I forbid you to go, for if you do, evil will befall you and the lions will eat you. Now that we have found each other again, stay with me here. Do not think of undertaking to go to that place. Take my advice, for I am your brother and wish you well.' But the darwlsh would not listen to him, and one day, taking some food and money with him, he set off and journeyed until he came to the lions' cave. Now when the first brother had slain the rat and departed with the gold, the lions returned and found the dead rat lying by the mouth of the cave with a stone beside it, and one lion said to the other, 'Did I not tell you that a son of Adam was in the cave? H e must have overheard us, and killed the rat!'

274 The Generous Man and the Niggardly


When the lions entered the cave the night after the darwlsh had hidden himself in it, one stood still and swung his tail so that it knocked dum! dum! dum! on his belly. Said he, 'I smell Man!' The other said, 'How should a man be here ?' Answered the first, 'You said that last time, but a man was here and took the treasure!' So they hunted and smelt about, and found the darwlsh where he lay hidden. Cried they, 'How shall we eat you ? It was you who killed the rat and took the treasure!' Said the darwlsh, 'No, no, it was my brother!' Said they, 'How shall we eat you ?' Then the darwlsh saw that there was no hope, and he said, 'I deserve to die for being such a fool and not accepting my brother's advice!' Then the lions sprang on him, and one seized one shoulder and the other the other shoulder, and they tore him into two halves and ate him all up.

Kunna 'adkurn wa jtna !



~KU maku ferd sultan I There was, was not, once a Sultan who had three sons and three daughters. One day he fell grievously sick (the name of Allah upon you!) 1 and was near his death. H e said to his sons, ' M y sons, I fear that I am dying, come and listen to my dying wishes and will!' His sons came to the bedside, and when they had assembled there, the Sultan spoke to his eldest son and said, ' M y son, when I am dead you will be Sultan in my place.' H e answered, ' O baba, do not speak thus: I do not want to be king, we wish you to remain with us always.' Said the Sultan, 'That I cannot do. Now I lay upon you my dying wish. You have three sisters. Shortly after my death three darawlsh will come. They will not ask for money or food. T o the first give your eldest sister as a bride, to the second your middle sister, and to the third your youngest sister. As for me, when I am dead you must watch my tomb for three nights after the seven days' mourning, as I have enemies who, though they may not injure me while I am living, may seek to do so when I am dead. I fear that they will steal my body and throw it outside.' The sons promised to do what their father commanded, and soon after the Sultan died and was buried. All the sons wept for their father, but the youngest more bitterly than his brothers, for he had loved his father more than they all. When the funeral guests had departed and the seven days mourning was over, the youngest prince said to his elder brothers, 'Oh my brothers, what did our father command us to do? W e must spend these next three nights in vigil at his tomb.' 1 The name of Allah should be invoked when mentioning death. People say 'Ba'id'anai insVallaK ('Far from you, please God!'). See note, p. 251.


The Boy and the Deyus

Said the eldest brother, 'Wallah, he is dead: what is the use of spending the night by his tomb ?' and when the youngest brother persisted that they must do so, he became angry, and said, ' W e will not go!' The youngest prince was very troubled, khattyal poor boy, and without any more speech with his elder brothers, he took his sword and his dagger, and went as soon as night had fallen to the tomb. H e scraped a little hole in the ground beside the tomb, and covered it with thorn so that no one would see him, and there he hid. In the middle of the night the moonlit sky was darkened. H e looked and saw a black cloud, descending. It came nearer, and he saw that it was a black deyu 1 seated on a coal-black mare. T h e deyu alighted, and roaring, 'While you were alive I had no power over you, but now that you are laid low, I will grind you to powder!' he dismounted from the mare and approached the tomb. The boy was afraid, for he was alone, poor boy! The deyu opened the tomb, and while he was bending to lift the dead body from its resting-place, the boy took courage, came out of his hiding-place, and struck with his sword at the deyu's neck. So hard did he strike that the deyu's head fell from his body at a single stroke. Then the lad took his sword, and cut out the lips, the eyes and the nose,2 put them in his head-kerchief and tied them up. After that, as soon as he had taken up his father's body and replaced it decently in the tomb, he approached the black mare, seized her by the bridle, and placing into the saddlebag the deyu's weapons, his black garments, and the kerchief containing the nose and mouth, he mounted her and rode her to his old nurse's house, throwing the kerchief as he passed into the river. H e woke her, and confided the deyu's arms and mare into her keeping, saying, ' M y mother, keep these for me in trust, and say no word of them to any one.' Then he returned to his house and slept. The next morning a darwlsh came to the house. The elder brothers 1 2

See Preface, p. xiii. Disfigurement of the dead has its magical significance.

The Boy and the Deyus


wished to send him away, but the youngest said, 'Have you forgotten, my brothers? This has happened as our father said it would, and we must give this darwish our eldest sister.' So they gave the eldest sister to the darwish, and he went away with her, no one knew whither. That night, the youngest prince said to his brothers, 'Will you not watch with me to-night ?' but said nothing of his fight with the deyu. T h e y refused, and saying to himself, 'Even though I should be killed, I must keep the vigil by the tomb,' he went at nightfall and hid as before in the hole by the tomb. A t midnight the brother of the first deyu appeared in the sky like a red cloud. H e descended, riding upon a red mare, and going to the tomb like the first, he began to drag the body from the grave. T h e prince said to himself, ' H o w can I let my father's body be taken out of the tomb!' and conquering his fear, he came behind the deyu and smote his head from his body. H e did with him as he had done with the first, throwing his nose and lips into the river, and took his red clothes, arms and mare to his old nurse, binding her to silence. T h e next day came the second darwish and he took away the second princess. A t sunset the young prince said to his brothers, 'Will you not watch to-night by our father's tomb?' and they answered him, ' W e will not g o ; as for you, do as you please!' A n d he went again and hid in the hole. A t midnight he saw a white cloud in the sky, and when it came nearer he saw that it was the third brother of the deyus, and he was white and rode a white mare. H i m he slew just as he had slain the other two, and put his arms and the white mare with the others in the safe keeping of his old nurse. T h e next day came the third darwish, and took away with him the youngest princess. So were all the dead Sultan's wishes fulfilled, and the eldest brother ruled in his father's place. Some little while after that a crier came to the Sultan's capital, and proclaimed in the streets that his master, a neighbouring Sultan, had three beautiful daughters. H e proposed to marry the eldest daughter, but to test the skill of the suitors, he had dug a hole in the ground, forty cubits


The Boy and the Deyus

deep and forty cubits wide, in which he would place her, and the man who could discover a means of getting her out should marry her. The princes heard the offer, and the two eldest said at once that they would ride off to try their luck. The youngest prince said to his brothers, 'Give me a mare too, I want to come with you.' The other two laughed, and the eldest said, 'Who are you, to get the girl out of the pit ?' All the young men of the country set off with the princes to go to try to win the princesses, each boasting, 'I will win her!' and at last the elder brother, seeing that the youngest was bent on coming, said to him, 'There is an old dirty jade left in the stable, take her and ride with us if you will.' The lad set off with the rest of the company, but when he had got half way to their destination, he turned and rode back to his nurse. There he put on the black clothes and arms of the first deyu, and mounting the black mare he touched her, and she rose, flying like a bird in the air, until they reached the country of the three princesses. There was a great concourse of people gathered together about the pit in which the first princess was immured, and when they saw the black horse and rider in the clouds, they cried to each other, aghast,' Wallah! A deyu has come to take the maiden!' The youth rode the mare low over the hole, seized her hand, lifted her into the saddle and flew up again, while the assembled suitors gazed and wondered. Some of them fired guns at him, but it was useless, he disappeared, and the people were troubled. The prince rode with the girl until he reached his old nurse's house. There he guided the black mare to the ground, and dismounting, he gave the girl into the safekeeping of his old nurse, saying, 'Keep her as the apple of your eye, and keep silence!' She replied, 'I will keep her as the apple of my eye, and wherefore should I not keep silence?' H e returned to the house, and there at sunset his brothers returned, weeping and downcast.

The Boy and the Deyus 279 H e asked them what was the matter, and they replied,'We went and we saw the princess, who was as pretty as a rose, but before we had a chance to try to get her from the pit, a deyu came from the sky, and flew down and seized her.' Said the youngest, 'Come and eat your supper!' They answered, 'We cannot eat, we are too sad.' The youngest reproached them, 'When our father died you did not weep as you are weeping now!' They replied, 'This maiden is worth more to us than our father or our grandfather!' So the youngest son ate and slept. The next day the crier returned to the town and announced that his master would now place his second daughter in the pit, and that she should belong to the suitor who could get her out. The two elder brothers at once decided to go and try if they could win her. The youngest said, 'Why do you not give me a good horse? Perhaps I might be able to win her.' They answered, 'You would not have a chance. See what happened yesterday!' The lad answered nothing, but when they had all been gone some time, he went to his old nurse's house, and put on the red deyu's clothes and arms. Then he mounted the red mare, and she flew, flew until they reached the place where the pit was with the maiden within it and the suitors about it. It happened as it had happened the day before: he seized the maiden as he flew down over the pit, and bore her through the air to his old nurse, bidding her keep the girl, and to hold her peace. She replied, 'Good, my dear, I will keep her as the apple of my eye.' H e returned at sunset to his own house, and he found his brothers sitting in the dlwan and weeping. H e asked them why they wept, and they replied that the second maiden, who was even fairer than the first, had been carried off by a red deyu. Said the youngest, 'Do not trouble, perhaps one of you will obtain the third maiden, for they will put her into the pit to-morrow.'

280 The Boy and the Deyus The next morning the elder princes rose early, put on their finest clothes, rode their fine mares, and set off to tryto win the third princess. As for the youngest, he went to his old nurse, and put on the white deyu's clothes and arms, and mounted the white mare. Again, as before, he flew through the air, and swooped into the pit and took out the third princess, who was more beautiful than the full moon. He took her to his old nurse, and bade her look after her well and put her with her sisters. At sunset he returned to his own house, and he found his elder brothers downcast and weeping. Said they, 'It was as before, we had not even an opportunity to try to take the princess out of the pit. There came a white deyu from the sky on a white mare, and he seized the girl and went off.' Said the youngest, 'Come, do not weep, rise and eat supper with me: for I have that which will rejoice you!' They replied, 'We have no heart to eat to-night.' But the youngest said to them, 'Come and eat, and I will find brides for you both!' They came and ate with him, and after their supper, the youngest prince went to his nurse's house, and set the three maidens on the backs of the three mares, and led them to the palace. H e called his brothers, who were astounded to see the three princesses, and he said to the eldest, 'Take you the eldest princess!' and to his other brother, 'Take you the middle princess!' and as for himself, he took the hand of the youngest princess, who was the loveliest of them all, and said, 'This one shall be my bride.' The two elder princes thanked their brother and kissed him saying, 'You are a lion of strength and a serpent for cunning! You have always been better than we are—did you not go to keep vigil by our father's tomb and we refused to accompany you!' And the eldest said to him, 'You are better than I, you shall rule in my father's place and not I.' Then they brought musicians and made a feast, and the eldest prince married the eldest princess. When the

The Boy and the Deyus


seven days' festivities were over, the middle prince married the middle princess, and the rejoicings lasted for another seven days. Then it was the turn of the youngest to marry the youngest princess. T h e y called the mulla and the contract was made, and then the women took the bride to the bath so that she should be ready to receive the bridegroom. Carpets were spread over the whole length of the road between the door of the Sultan's palace and the entrance to the hammam. T h e y washed the bride and put henna on her hands and feet, and braided her hair, and then they set off to return to the palace. But while they were on the road, the sky was suddenly darkened, and a deyu appeared, who, seizing the bride, threw her upon his shoulder and flew away with her into the air. Instead of returning with rejoicing to the bridegroom, the women now returned with lamentation, and told the tale of her disappearance. T h e youngest prince was overcome with grief, but he immediately exclaimed, 'I will go to look for her, though it were in the utmost ends of the earth.' H e set out to look for his lost bride, and he walked and walked and walked for leagues and leagues, until, unknown to himself, he came to the place where his eldest sister lived with the first darwlsh, who was a powerful magician. T h e prince was worn out with fatigue and sorrow, and seeing a spring with trees growing by the brink, he wrapped up his head, lay down, and slept by the cool water. N o w his sister who lived in the castle close by needed some water, and she said to a servant, 'Go and fetch water from the spring.' T h e servant went, and when he reached the spring, he saw a young man sleeping by the well, whose likeness to his lady was so clear that he was astonished. H e sat down and gazed at him, and at last his mistress, tired of waiting for him to return, said to another servant, 'Go and see what has happened to the first, he has been an hour gone and has not returned from the spring.' T h e second servant went and found the first, and reproached him for his dilatoriness. T h e y both returned 3800




The Boy and the Deyus

together, and the lady sent for the first servant, and asked him why he had tarried. H e replied, ' O lady, I saw a lad sleeping by the well who was as like you as your mirror.' She exclaimed, lHdi shlon! Can it be that my brother is here ?' She put on her 'aba and went out to see for herself who the stranger was. As soon as she set eyes on him, she knew him for her youngest brother, and waked him, saying, ' M y brother, what has brought you here ?' He replied, ' O my sister, jiizi minni, leave me in peace! I will tell you of the trouble that has brought me here.' Said she, 'What is it?' He replied, 'I took a bride, and as they were bringing her to me from the hammam a deyu came and carried her off. Now I have gone to seek her, for no matter where she may be, I must get her back!' She cried, ' O my brother, if you are going into the deyus' country harm may befall you!' Said he, 'I will not be turned from my purpose until I have my bride.' She took him back with her to her castle, and at sunset her husband the darwlsh came back, and when he entered her diwan, she saw that his face was gloomy. She said to him, ' O darwlsh, I fear that you are displeased because my brother has come ?' H e answered, 'No, by Allah, I am not distressed at seeing your brother here. He shall be the apple of my eye! The cause of my sadness is that to-day I saw a fair maiden, sweet as a flower, being borne away by a deyu on his shoulder.' The prince said, 'The maiden that you saw must have been my wife, for whom I am seeking until I find her.' Said the darwlsh, 'Your way to get her back will be long and difficult!' The prince replied, 'I will bring my wife back, or I will leave my head behind!' His sister began to persuade him against his journey, saying, 'What is this woman! There are other brides in the world! I fear you will be killed on the road!'

The Boy and the Deyus


Then the darwlsh said, 'If you are resolved upon this journey, I will give you seven pairs of shoes made of iron. T h e y will lead you to the place where your bride is, and all seven pairs will be worn out before you find her!' T h e prince thanked him, and put on one pair of iron shoes, and the others he put in his bag for the future. H e wandered and wandered till the first pair were worn out, and when the seventh pair was all but worn through he came to a strange country, and entered the town in which the Sultan of the place lived. H e asked the name of the country and they told him, 'This is the country of Ibn Qara a1 Farn.' T h e lad looked at his shoes, and thought, 'Perhaps I am at the end of my journey!' H e passed along the road, and saw an old woman with a kindly face sitting by the door. She was very old, but he stopped to speak with her and wish her peace, and asked her, ' D o you wish for a guest ?' T h e old woman answered, 'If you will excuse the poverty of my house, I will keep you like the apple of my eye.' T h e lad took a handful of gold liras from his pocket and gave them to the old woman saying, 'This is for my keep.' They sat down to eat, and as they ate he heard the noise of a chalgheh, 1 musical instruments, and merrymaking. H e asked what it was, and the old woman told him that the Sultan's palace was close by, and that the sounds he heard were those of a wedding. Said she, ' T h e Sultan is served by a deyu whose devotee he is, and this deyu brought him a beautiful girl as a bride seven months ago. She refused to marry him, but now he will wait no longer for her consent, but is taking her by force.' T h e prince exclaimed, 'That is my wife!' and he told the old woman his story from the beginning to the end, saying, 'What I tell you, tell no one!' Said the old woman, 'No, my son!' 1

See note 2, p. 163.


The Boy and the Deyus

Said the prince, ' Wallah, my mother, this girl brought by the deyu must be my wife, on whose account I have travelled hither.' The old woman answered, 'Trouble not, I can bring you to her, and if she is your wife, I will help you.' Asked the prince, 'And how will you take me to her, my mother ?' She replied, 'I was wet-nurse to the royal family and I can go into the harem when I please. Wait for three days, and I will take you with me.' Said he, 'How can that be, and I a man ?' But the old woman went and brought a barber, and shaved off the lad's whiskers and beard. Then she brought women's clothes, and dressed him in them, putting women's shoes on his feet, and an 'aba about him. Then she went to the palace of the Sultan Ibn Qara al Farn, and going to the women's quarters, she said to the Sultan's mother, 'I have a daughter who married and left me years ago to live in another country. Now she has returned, and I should like to bring her to see the bride.' The lady replied, 'Let her come, as she is your daughter.' The old woman went home, and presently she returned with her supposed daughter. Said they, 'She will not see the bride, for she has locked herself in her room, and will see no one.' However, they were taken to the room, and the old woman knocked at the door and said, 'Open the door!' The princess within replied, 'I will open the door to no one, for I wish no one to see my face!' Then the old woman said to the young man, 'Speak with her in the tongue of her country.' No sooner did the princess hear her own tongue, than she opened the door quickly and let him in, and said, not knowing him, 'What brought you here ?' He replied, 'I am your husband, and I swore an oath that I would bring you back or leave my head behind me!'

The Boy and the Deyus 285 Said she, 'O my husband, in two nights' time the Sultan's son comes to take me by force!' Said he, 'How shall we escape ?' She replied, 'There is a way. Go to the sea-shore this night, and you will see a sea-mare 1 come out of the sea to eat the spring grass. Seize her and halter her, and bring her to the palace below my window. I will break the window and we will both fly away on her back.' The prince returned to the old woman and they went out. That night he went down to the sea-shore, and out of the sea there came a mare, with wings on her back. H e seized her and bridled her and returned with her to the palace where he waited below the princess's window. She was waiting for him, and broke the window and sprang down to him on its back. Then the mare rose into the air, and so they flew and they flew until they reached their own country. Meanwhile the Sultan went to visit his bride, and when he came and found the window open and his bride vanished, sent for the old woman, and said to her, 'How is this! M y bride and your daughter have gone!' The old woman was cunning and to avert his anger she cried out, 'Aye! true! How many years I had been longing to see my daughter, and this year she came, but I had no sooner seen her than your bride took her away! I want my daughter! I want my daughter!' and she lamented, so that they should not suspect her. Then the Sultan went to the deyu and said, ' M y bride has disappeared, where is she?' Said the deyu, 'I will discover her and bring her back.' Meanwhile, when the prince and his bride arrived in their country they found his brothers in black clothes, for they had begun to mourn him as dead. When the princes saw them, they were overjoyed, and threw away their mourning, crying, 'Praise God, you and your wife are back in safety! Now we will finish the wedding!' And they made a great feast, and made merry. 1

See notes on this tale.


The Boy and the Deyus

The deyu in his search flew straight to the place where he had found the bride, and when he came there, he heard sounds of a wedding. H e entered the house, and there sat the bridegroom with his bride. Now the bridegroom had put on the clothes of the white deyu, and when the wicked deyu entered, he drew the white deyu's sword and smiting the enemy on his shoulder, he killed him at a stroke! So he was freed from the deyus, and lived with his bride all the years of his life.



Aku maku jerd walad ethneinl NCE on a time there were, were not, two poor lads who were brothers. One herded cattle, and each day he gave a loaf of bread to the poor for Satan's sake. One day Satan said, 'This lad gives a loaf of bread every day to the poor for my sake, I must do him some good turn in return.' So Satan gave him a reed pipe (matbij). 1 As soon as the shepherd began to play it his sheep began to dance, and all the animals within hearing danced too. Now there was an old woman who possessed one cow, and she got her living by selling its milk and the butter she made of it. W h e n her cow heard the pipe it began to dance with the others, and it danced so hard that it broke a leg, khatiya! At sunset, when all the cattle were driven back, the old woman came for her cow, and she saw that its leg was broken. The old woman went to the herdsboy and said to him, ' W h y have you broken my cow's leg?' T h e herdsboy answered, 'I did not break it, wallah, she broke it herself, dancing!' The old woman said, ' H o w can that be! Cows don't dance!' and she was angry and said, 'I shall take you to the court of justice!' T h e lad replied, ' O my mother, accuse me if you please, but I didn't break your cow's leg!' H e was soon summoned before the judge. T h e judge said to the lad, ' M y son, why did you break the leg of the old woman's cow? It was a sin, for her sole means of livelihood is her cow.' The herdsboy replied, ' M y lord, I did not break the cow's leg: she broke it herself, dancing.' The qadhi said, ' H o w now! Cattle don't dance!' Said the herdsboy, 'If you will let me bring some sheep to the court, I will prove to you that they do!' T h e qadhi said, 'Good—go and bring them.'



Two reeds bound together by string and pitch.


The Shepherd and His Brother

T h e boy went and returned with some sheep, while the qadhi and the court waited. T h e herdsboy drew the matbij from his pocket and began to play. At the first notes the sheep began to caper and dance, and not only the sheep, but the qadhi rose from his bench, and the clerks from their seats, and the old woman, and the people who were in the court. T h e Sultan who was passing heard the sounds and he came in and began to dance, and the ministers who were sitting in conclave near by danced, and the people passing in the street and the horses in the arabanas—all capered and danced, and leapt and turned. Cried the qadhi, 'Stop, my son, stop! W e are tired!' and the lad stopped playing. Then the qadhi said to the old woman, 'The boy spoke truly, oh old woman! Your cow broke her leg by dancing.' Then the qadhi said to the boy, 'You have won your case, but you must give me the matbij!' The boy gave him the matbij and the qadhi broke it into pieces, saying, ' I t shall do no more harm.' Then the shepherd boy took his sheep, and drove them through the town and into the ch5l. At noon when he was resting on the ground, he began to scrape the earth with his hand, in idleness. H e found something hard, and when he looked to see what it was, it was a glazed bastuga jar. H e took it out of the earth, and behold! it was full of gold pieces. T h e boy had never seen gold money before, and he said, ' W h a t fine red stuff this is!' H e took it back to his hut at night and showed it to his brother, who was as simple as he, and said to him, ' M y brother, look! see what I found in the ground! W h a t can this pretty red stuff be ?' Said his brother, 'Wallah, I know not! Let us divide it between us, half to me and half to thee!' Said the shepherd, ' H o w shall we divide it evenly ?' for he knew not how to count. Said the brother, 'I will go and borrow some scales from the Sultan's kitchen.' H e went to the Sultan's kitchen, and said to the people there, 'Lend me your scales: we found some pretty red

A Bedawi shepherd, Northern 'Iraq

The Shepherd and His Brother


things in the ground and want to weigh them so as to make a fair division!' The Sultan's people were curious to know what the brothers had found, and so they melted a little bitumen, and daubed a little on the scales. The brothers weighed out the gold in the scales and divided it equally, then they returned the scales to the Sultan's house. A gold lira had stuck to the bottom of the scales, but they did not notice it. The Sultan's wife took the scales to the Sultan, and said, 'These shepherds have found a treasure! they borrowed our scales to weigh it out!' Then the Sultan told the police, and they came to the shepherds' hut and confiscated all the gold, and carried it to the Sultan. The shepherd said to his brother, 'The Sultan's wife has taken what we found! we will not stay longer in this country, but will go to another place.' So they rose up and set out. They had not gone far before the shepherd's brother said, 'If we leave the door of the house unprotected, the Sultan will enter it!' The other said, 'Aye! W e must not leave the door unguarded! Go, fetch it and we will have it under our eye.' So the shepherd's brother went back, took the door off its hinges 1 and returned with it on his head. They walked and walked all that day and when night fell they were in the chol, and no shelter near but a big mulberry tree. Said the shepherd to his brother, 'Oh my brother, the sun has set, and I am afraid a wolf will come and eat us if we lie to sleep on the ground. Let us climb into the tree and spend the night there.' They climbed into the tree, and the shepherd's brother had the door bound to his shoulder. The two sat in the tree. In the night some 'Arab arrived, people of the houses of hair. They put up their tent beneath the tree, and sat in it, and knew not that there were two men in the tree above them. Presently the shepherd's brother said, 'Oh, my brother, I must make water.' Said the shepherd, 'Shl5n! How now! if you do that 1


See note, p. j . p



The Shepherd and His


upon these people, they will draw their weapons and let off a gun at us!' But the other could not contain himself. Said the Bedouin one to the other, ' H o w strange! from whence does this rain come ?' Then the shepherd's brother said, 'Oh, my brother, my shoulder is aching! I must get rid of this door!' Answered the shepherd, 'If you let the door drop, it will fall upon the folk beneath us and kill them!' But the shepherd's brother let the door fall, and it crashed upon the tent. The 'Arab below were frightened, and cried, ' T h e sky is falling upon us!' and leaving their tent and their donkey and all that they possessed behind them, they fled quickly out into the desert and ran away. The next morning the brothers descended from the tree, took all the gear that the 'Arab had left behind them, put it on the back of their donkey, and set off again on their journey. Towards nightfall they reached a village, and finding a ruined house there, they took refuge in it, and there they lived for some time. One day the shepherd said to his brother, 'I do not like sitting in a house, I want to return to my trade of shepherd.' Said his brother, 'As you will.' The shepherd went to the house of a farmer, and said to him 'Do you want a shepherd ?' The farmer said, 'Aye, we want a shepherd, but I shall make a condition of service if you work for me.' Said the other, 'What is that ?' Replied the farmer, 'If you ever lose your temper, you must permit me to cut a piece of skin from your throat. If I lose mine, you can do the same to me.' Said the shepherd, 'Good.' H e returned to his brother and said, 'I have become shepherd to the people of that house.' The other said, 'Good, my brother.' The next morning the shepherd rose early and took the farmer's sheep into the ch5l. T h e farmer gave him

The Shepherd and His Brother


nothing to eat, and sent him nothing to eat, and when the shepherd returned back at night, he was very hungry. Said he to the farmer, 'You left me hungry all day!' Said the farmer's wife, 'Are you angry about it?' H e answered, 1 Wallah!'1 Then the farmer said, 'You have lost your temper, so I must cut a piece of skin from your throat.' So they brought a knife and cut skin from his throat, and the shepherd died, khatiya ! When his brother learnt what had happened he was very angry, and said, 'These people have killed my brother. I will become their shepherd and will play them a trick they will not forget!' So he went to the house of the farmer and said, 'Do you want a shepherd ?' T h e man said, 'Yes. But there is a condition of service: and that is, if you lose your temper you must suffer me to cut a piece of skin from your throat. If I lose mine, you may do the same to me.' Said the other, 'Good.' The next morning when he went to take the sheep, they gave him no food, and they sent him no food. T h e shepherd said, ' W h y should I remain hungry with meat about me ?' H e took a sheep, and slaughtered it, and made a roast and ate. W h e n he returned he said to the farmer and his wife, 'You gave me no food, so I killed a sheep and ate it. Are you angry?' T h e farmer answered, 'No, my son, we are not angry! May it give you health!' (Bil 'ajiya.) But when they were alone the farmer said to his wife, 'Give him a loaf to-morrow, or he will eat a sheep every day!' The next day they gave him some bread when he took the sheep, and he brought them all home safe at sunset. H e slept with the farmer and his family, and in the night one of the children woke and cried and said, 'I want to go into the yard.' 2 1 2

A way of saying 'Indeed, it is so.' In Arab houses the privy is either in the yard or upon the roof.


The Shepherd and His Brother

The other children woke up, and the master of the house said to the shepherd, 'Now take them all into the yard so that they will be quiet till morning.' So the shepherd rose and took all the four children into the yard, and there he killed them in revenge for his brother's death. When he returned to the house, the master of the house said, 'Where are the children ?' Said the shepherd, 'I killed them all, to keep them quiet. Are you angry?' The farmer was afraid, and said, 'No, why should I be angry?' The next morning it was snowing and hailing, and it was impossible to take the sheep into the chdl. The farmer said, 'A pity! The sheep cannot go out to-day. Take them and give them chopped straw, and let them get their heads well into the trough.' The shepherd said, 'Good!' He took the sheep, and cut off their heads, and put the heads into the straw and said, 'Eat your fill!' Then he returned and said to the farmer, 'They are eating well!' The farmer went presently to see, and he found all the sheep slaughtered. He said to the shepherd, 'Why have you done this, my son ?' Answered the shepherd, 'Are not their heads well in the trough? Are you angry?' The farmer could not hold himself and said, ' Wallah, I am angry. You killed my sons and now you have killed my sheep: of course I am angry!' Cried the shepherd, 'Now I want the flesh of your throat!' and he took his knife and cut the throat of the farmer so that he died. His wife came running and said, 'Why have you done this to my husband and children ?' He replied, 'You killed my brother, and I have taken my revenge. Do you need me more as your shepherd ?' She answered, 'I do not want you—go away! I have no sheep now!'

NOTES The following works are referred to in the notes by abbreviated titles: Persian Tales, translated by D . L . R . and E . O. Lorimer. London, 1919. Türkische Märchen, translated by Fr. Giese. 1925. Türkische Volksmärchen aus Stambul, translated by Dr. Ignaz Kunoz. L'Orient inédit, by Minas Tchéraz. Paris, 1912. Contes Arméniens, translated by Frédéric Macler. Paris, 1905.

I. The Crazy Woman. T h i s tale was told me by the Baghdad Christian whom I have mentioned in the Preface. Some incidents in this tale recall ' T h e Story of the Shawl-Weaver' in Persian Tales. I I . The Goat and the Old Woman. A children's tale related by the same woman. Its resemblance to the English ' T h e Old W o m a n whose Pig wouldn't j u m p over the Stile' needs no comment. I I I . Three Little Mice. Another children's tale. It was related by a Moslem lady of a well-known family in Mosul. I V . The Sparrow charming little tale.

and His Wife.

T h e same lady told this

V. Dungara Khsheybän. T h i s story was told by a Mosul girl, a Moslem and literate. She was unaccustomed to story-telling and the tale is evidently imperfect. T h e ingredients are well worn. T h e fairy godmothers with their gifts recall 'Sleeping Beauty'. T h e same theme occurs in a Turkish folk-tale 'Die Geschichte von der Dilber, die nicht erreichte was sie wollte', in Türkische Märchen, and in another, 'Die Rosenschönen' in Türkische Volksmärchen aus Stambul. I n this Turkish version three dervishes come from the wall. T h e supplanted bride is also a well-worn theme, e.g. ' T h e Goose-Girl' in Grimm's Household Tales. I n the Turkish tales above mentioned, the bride is supplanted by a servant and the stories are more or less parallel until the point where the eyes are restored, when they part company again. T h e wooden dress seems to indicate some Dryad legend. V I . The Crystal Ship. A young Moslem girl in Mosul told this tale. A similar folk-story is told in Armenia. T h e ship that will not move out of port until a promise made by a passenger has been redeemed occurs in other stories, e.g., ' T h e Doll of Patience' in this volume. Sisters' jealousy of the jinni's bride is another common theme. T h e journey to the country of the jänn in iron shoes and with an iron staff in hand occurs in many stories, e.g. 'Enfant-Serpent, Enfant Soleil' in a collection translated by



F . Macler (Contes Arméniens), iron being a protection against harm from jânn. E. S. Hartland says in The Science of Fairy-Tales, pp. 3 0 6 - 7 : 'The retention of stone instruments in religious worship was doubtless due to the intense conservatism of religious feeling. T h e gods, having been served with stone for so long, would be conceived of as naturally objecting to change; and the implements whose use had continued through so many revolutions in ordinary human utensils, would thereby have acquired a divine character. Now the traditional preference on the part of supernatural beings for stone instruments is only one side of the thought which would, as its reverse side, show a distinct abhorrence by the same mythical personages for metals, and chiefly (since we have long passed out of the bronze age) for iron.' T h e doves talking in the tree, and thus sealing their own doom, is also a familiar incident. It occurs in an Armenian tale, 'Théodore le Danseur' in L'Orient inédit. T h e dove is called a cucûkhti. T h e reference is to a well-known children's rhyme in 'Iraq: Cucûkhti C00-00 my sister, Wein ùkhti ? Where is my sister ? Bil Hillah. In Hillah. Eysh takul ? What eats she ? Bajilla. Beans. Eysh tishrab ? What drinks she ? Mai Allah. God's waters. IVein tanâm ? Where sleeps she ? At the Gate of God. Bab Allah. T h e cries of birds and beasts are often thought to convey a warning, or are translated into human speech by tradition. T h e swallow is supposed to chatter the Surat al Qâf. T h e owl cries 'Ta ghâfilïn! idhkaru AllahP 'Oh, heedless ones, remember God!' T h e bulbul murmurs, 'Jtb, baba, jib! shedda warid, warid! Jib warid, abu al waridF 'Bring, daddy, bring a bunch of roses! Bring roses, father-of-roses!' (i.e. rose-seller). T h e hen pigeon cries lTa karïm\ 'O Merciful One'; the cock pigeon replies 'Ta AllahP T h e sand-grouse proclaims its presence, lGuta, guta, guta\ T h e crow cries " A q a , ' aqaP ' I fall, I fall!' Stories of understanding the talk of beasts are common. Children are told that the beasts hold an auction sale of the house. T h e cow moos, 'Abi'a ad dâr, dâr, dârP 'I sell the house!'. T h e cat bids, lKhams mïa—au, khams mta—aul\ 'Five hundred!' T h e dog outbids her, 'B'alf B'alfP




' A thousand!' T h e cock says Ma abva u-u\ ' I won't sell it!', but the sheep bleats, ' M V a - a - a , mb'a-a-a, 'Sold!'. V I I . The Old Couple and Their Goat. This children's story was told me by a Christian woman in Baghdad. A well-known European fairy story about a wolf is recalled. V I I I . Shamshum al Jabbar. This interesting piece of folk-lore was told me by the same woman, who was illiterate. T h e story is of course that of Samson and is a sun-myth. Shamshum is the sun, and his hair represents the rays of the sun which are cut short by winter. During that time he is weak and partially buried, but as his rays grow longer, his strength is regained, he seizes his sharp sword and lays low his enemies. T h e serpent devouring the eaglets and attacked by the sun-god is a myth which appears in many forms, perhaps the latest being an incident in Alice in Wonderland. T h e story of the Eagle and the Serpent on two fragmentary tablets from the Royal Library at Nineveh, now in the British Museum, should be compared. In the Assyrian account the Serpent destroys the Eagle's brood and later vanquishes the Eagle with the help of the Sun-God. For the journey to the island which 'is beyond seven seas' compare Tablets No. 1 3 - 1 7 from the Royal Library of Ashurbanipal (British Museum); for the description of Etana's journey to Heaven clinging to the eagle's neck (heaven also being of seven regions). Compare also an incident in a Bakhtiari tale, 'The Merchant of Isfahan', in Persian Tales. I heard this story later from a young Moslem girl, in a form similar to the version given by the Christian. I X . Husain an Nim-Nim. This story is very well known to Moslems (though not to Christians) in Baghdad and Mosul. T h e union of human men and women with river demons is to this day credited as possible, and the existence of the s'iluwa is not questioned by people of the ignorant classes. Even amongst those who are semi-educated there are many who believe in her existence. I have described her fully in the Preface. T h e theme of the human midwife summoned to the birth of the water-spirit's child is a common one in folk-stories (see Chap. I l l of the Science of Fairy-Tales by E. S. Hartland), and an identical incident is quoted by J . T . Brent in The Cyclades, or Life among the Insular Greeks (p. 46), the mother in this case being a Nereid. (In view of the theory that gipsies have been largely instrumental in disseminating folk-lore it is interesting to note that in folk-stories of fairy births the human midwife is often paid by the gift of a piece of coal, the coal being transformed later into money, and that the English gipsy word for



both coal and money is the same—vaongar or vongar.) T h e payment of the midwife by onion-skin and garlic (by a peri) occurs in an Armenian story in L'Orient Inédit, entitled 'L'Accouchée et le Nouveau-Né'. Like Ûmm Bâji, the woman threw the gifts away in disdain, but found later that pieces that had remained unnoticed had changed into gold and silver. Tchéraz comments that onion and garlic are the peris' gold and silver. T h e story of Husain an Nim-Nim is so universally known, that in Baghdad, to call a man a 'Husain an Nim-Nim' is equivalent to saying that he is puny, for Husain is supposed to have issued very thin and weak from the embraces of the s'ilüwa. Supposed descendants of Husain an NimNim are fairly plentiful, and I have come into contact with several people who have had in their houses persons claiming the gift of curing sore eyes by spitting into them; the magical power being theirs by virtue of their descent from Husain an Nim-Nim. T h e magic property of spittle is an ancient Semitic belief. (See Doughty, Jrabia Deserta, vol. i, p. 527, and Mark viii. 23.) X . The Blackbeetle who wished to get Married. This little fable is perhaps the most generally told of all children's tales in 'Iraq. It was related to me first by the same narrator as that of the two previous stories, but I have heard it since from several other persons. There is resemblance here and there to a Kermäni fable in Persian Tales, but the Baghdad story is complete in itself, and much more charming. X I . The Thorn-seller or Shawwâk. For discussion of the birdman see Preface, p. x. T h e silence which must be observed by the bird-prince's wife occurs in a whole group of fairy-tales (see The Science of Fairy-Tales by E. S. Hartland, p. 3 1 2 , on similar taboos, and The Golden Bough, by Sir J . G . Frazer). In a Turkish folk-tale 'Die Geschichte vom schönen Halwaverkaufer' in Türkische Märchen there is a story of a dove-lover who visits a princess, and similar incidents occur in Armenian and Persian folk-tales. T h e present version was given me by the woman who related the three preceding tales. A woman-slave in Sayyid Abdallah al Giläni's house in Baghdad told me the same story, but with the variations that it was the pots and pans in the kitchen that wept and laughed with thejinni prince, who appeared in the guise, not of a bird, but of a white snake. T h e jealous sisters threw his snake-skin into the fire while he was with his bride. A Moslem girl in Mosul told me another, and shorter, version in which a bird flew down, seized the comb of the Sultan's daughter, and flew away. T h e story is the same from the point where the old beggar-woman



is washing her clothes on the river bank, except that it was a stallion which filled the water-skins. Part of the story is worth quoting: 'The old woman crept under the couch and went to sleep. She was awakened by the rustling of wings, and saw that a bird had descended by the pool of water. It took off its feather dress and stepped out of it a youth, so beautiful that there was not his like in the mortal world (Subhän Allah !). This youth sat on the couch and drew from his pocket a comb and said to it: Yâ min mishthä 'andï "Oh thou whose comb I have, W1 'aim ma tara ha Upon whom my eyes may not rest, Yâ ashjâr, yâ anhâr Weep, oh trees, of rivers, Ubchu 'ala nahwat al bucha For I am near tears! " 'This he repeated three times and then he and the trees began to weep, the drops falling from their leaves and from his eyes.' The story is very widely spread. XII. The Blind Sultan. (The same narrator.) T h e opening will recall 'Androcles and the Lion' which is possibly a tale of Buddhistic origin. Some of the incidents of this story may be discovered in 'The Story of the Colt Qeytas' (Persian Tales). Compare also 'The Water of Life' (Grimm's Household Tales). The old man spinning day and night occurs in a Turkish folk-tale translated by Dr. Ignaz Kunoz: 'Der Windteufel' and the three roads are a common feature in Oriental tales. X I I I . Jaräda. This is a story well known, not only in 'Iraq but in neighbouring countries: compare T h e Story of the FortuneTeller' (Persian Tales), and 'Der Obersterndeuter' (Türkische Märchen). In Grimm's Household Tales the story appears as 'Doctor Know-All'. I heard it from a Moslem schoolmaster, who had it from his mother. XIV. The Stork and the Jackal. This was told me by 'Abd al 'Aziz Beg Mudhaffar. The fable is spread over the East, and appears in Aesop. Its Baghdad version is worth repeating. X V . X V I . 7/ is not the Lion's Fur Coat: This story and the next were told me by a Moslem clerk in Baghdad. X V I I . A Story of the Khalifa Härün ar Rashïd. was a Christian woman in Baghdad.

T h e narrator

X V I I I . Another Story of the Khalifa. (The same.) T h e story is widespread: compare 'Le Tisserand Intelligent' in Contes Arméniens, etc.



X I X . The Tricks o f j â n n . These anedcotes were related by an illiterate Christian woman in Baghdad. She told the stories as personal experiences of her family. X X . It was Enough to Bewilder the Lion. This story was told me by Mr. J. F. Levack, who had it from a Moslem in Baghdad. X X I . Two Nursery Rhymes. The first recalls 'The House that Jack Built'. X X I I . The Bitter Orange. A Moslem lady told this in Mosul. X X I I I . Tale told by a Shammar Tribesman. He was illiterate and his tale is fragmentary. T h e first part recalls the Cyclops, and the story of the one-eyed giant whose eye is put out with a living brand occurs in the folk-lore of many countries: compare 'Les Cyclopes', L'Orient Inédit. As for the incident of the living husband interred with the dead wife, see the Fourth Journey of Es Sindibad the Sailor in the Arabian Nights for a similar incident, and in Lane's translation his note on the same. It is mentioned as a tribal custom in a Turkish folk-tale ('Der Vielgeprüfte Prinz': Türkische Märchen), and occurs in the German story of 'The Three Snake Leaves' (Grimm's Household Tales). X X I V . Shammar Stories. These anecdotes hardly need comment. I heard them when staying in a Shammar camp. X X V . The Qartna. This story was related one evening as I sat in Shaikh 'Ajîl al Yawir's guest-tent. For details of the Qarïna see the Preface. X X V I I . Häjir. Told by a Moslem schoolmaster who had it from his mother (in Baghdad). This story is also widely spread. In Europe it appears as 'Snow-white and the Seven Dwarfs'. Compare Dr. Ignaz Kunoz's story 'Die Zaubernadel'. X X V I I I . The Woman of the Well. This story was related by an ex-Cabinet Minister in Baghdad to explain a remark made by him about a member of the Chamber of Deputies, of whom my friend said that he scolded like 'the Umm al Bïr'. T h e story, or one resembling it, was translated by Dr. Ignaz Kunoz under the title of 'Das Brunnen Gespenst'. X X I X . Hasan the Thief. This was told me in Baghdad by an illiterate woman. T h e trick employed by the prince in tying the d e y r f s rope to a tree instead of to her ankle occurs in other folktales, e.g. 'Die Geschichte vom schönen Halwaverkaufer' (Türkische Märchen)-, the incident of cutting off the heads of the robbers as they appear (from the ground or over a wall) is a common one in Oriental tales.



X X X . Moses and. the Two Men. This tale was told by a Moslem clerk in Baghdad to explain the common phrase iyeskutün yeskutün\ X X X I . Al Gumeyra. This was told me by a schoolmaster in Baghdad, who had it from his mother. X X X I I . The Three Dervishes and the Wonderful Lamp. This is exactly as related to me by an illiterate woman in Baghdad, and is interesting as showing the form which the well-known Arab story of 'Ala ad Din and the Lamp takes when related in the family circle, and the manner in which modern details become absorbed into the ancient tale. X X X I I I . The King's Son and the Three Maidens, or the Doll of Patience. T h e version I have given here was told in English by an Armenian lady in Baghdad, but I heard another version of the same story in Arabic (with the title of 'The Khalifa and the Three Maidens') from a Moslem schoolmaster, who had it from his mother. T h e principal differences were that, instead of being buried in the ground, the wronged mother of the miraculous children was killed, while the third sister (who escaped the vengeance of the Khalifa for having said, 'Should the Khalifa ask me as his bride, I should not accept him unless he were to bring me my garments with his own hands and put my slippers ready for me to wear') was the eventual accepted consort, through a series of events which led to the Khalifa fulfilling her conditions. T h e children with hair of gold and silver in this version were really drowned by the third and wicked sister. The story is widely spread, particularly the two incidents of the substitution of puppies for the queen's twin children. Compare 'The Story of the T w o Jealous Sisters' (Persian Tales)-, 'The Three little Birds' in Grimm's Household Tales, and a similar story which occurs in the Arabian Nights. Also 'Cheveux d'Argent et Boucles d'Or' in Contes Arméniens, 'Théodore le Danseur' in L'Orient Inédit, 'Die Goldhaarigen Kinder' (Dr. Ignaz Kunoz), and 'The Golden-haired Twins' in Mme Mijatovich's Serbian Fairy Tales. T h e incident of the Doll of Patience and Knife of Patience is also found in other folk-tales, e.g. 'The Story of the Marten Stone' (Persian Tales) and in 'Die Geschichte von der Schönen, die das erreichte, was sie wollte' (Türkische Märchen). In this tale the true bride and false bride ask for presents, the latter asking for the Patience-Stone. T h e prince goes on his voyage, but cannot leave the port because he has forgotten the request of the true bride (who has become the false bride's slave). He then procures the stone, and on his return watches out of curiosity to see what the girl will



do with the stone. She relates her story to the stone and it swells and bursts, as in the version given here. Compare also Dr. Ignaz Kunoz, 'Geduldstein, Geduldmesser'. X X X I V . The Merchants Daughter. This was told me by an illiterate woman (a Christian) in Baghdad. Several well-worn folkthemes occur in this tale, such as the recognition of a portrait as a means of identifying a stranger and the choice of a king or leader from auspices. Choice of a king by means of a bird which alights on the head of a candidate for the throne is an incident which is found in several Persian folk-stories and Armenian stories; see Persian Tales and a tale which appears as 'L'Oiseau' in L'Orient Inédit. X X X V . Wudayya. T h e relator of this tale was a Moslem schoolmaster, who had it from his mother. X X X V I . The Poor Girl and Her Cow. This story, which was related to me by an illiterate Christian woman in Baghdad, is among the most-told folk-tales of the Middle and Near East. Incidents which appear in the present version will be found in Persian dress in 'The Story of Little Fatima' and 'How Fatima killed her Mother' in Persian Tales. T h e cow, the visit of the two sisters to the water-spirit's cave, the different action of each when the water ran black and white, and the incident of the clog or shoe are found in an Armenian tale 'Cendrillon' ( U Orient Inédit). In another Armenian tale (Contes Arméniens) a boy is befriended by a female demon, who would otherwise have eaten him, because he had sucked her teats. T h e well-known 'Cinderella' of European folk-lore is a version of this tale. T h e incidents of the girl and her wonderful cow occur in Grimm's Household Tales ('Mother Holle'), while in his notes to that story Grimm mentions a tale from Hesse in which a water-nixie has her hair combed by a girl whom she would have kept as a slave had not the girl eaten some crumbs of her food. A Thuringian story quoted by W . Reynitzsch in 'Über Truhten und Truhtensteine' has similar incidents. Grimm mentions that Mademoiselle Villeneuve, in a volume translated in 1765 into German, has a story of a waternixie and two girls. T h e treasure found where the remains of the cow were buried is another common theme. Grimm mentions several of them in his notes to 'One Eye, T w o Eyes, and Three Eyes' in which tale a gold tree springs from the entrails of the slaughtered animal. For a Serbian version, cow, water-spirit, slippers and all, see Serbian Fairy Tales, 'Papalluga: or the Golden Slipper'.



X X X V I I . The Prince and the Daughter of the Thorn-seller. This was related by the same narrator as the above. X X X V I I I . Uhdeydän, TJch'eybän, and Unkheylän. (The same narrator as the above two tales.) Another widely-spread folk-tale. In European versions the s'ilüvoa appears as a wolf. X X X I X . Melek Muhammad and the Ogre. Here we have the 'Iraqi version of what is in European fairy-tales 'Jack and the Beanstalk'. T h e narrator was the same as that of the three preceding stories. Compare also some incidents in 'Der Lachende und der weinende Apfel' in Türkische Volksmärchen aus Stambul. X L . Er Rüm. T h e narrator was a Moslem schoolmaster in Baghdad, who had it from his mother. T h e opening incident of the stone garment occurs in other tales. R. Campbell Thompson, in his Semitic Magic, quotes from Waldenspurger who, writing in 1893 (Palestine Exploration Fund), quotes the following story: 'Iblls once sent his son to an assembly of honourable people with a flint stone, and told him to have the flint stone woven. He came in and said, " M y father sends his peace and wishes to have this flint woven." A man with a goat-beard said, " T e l l your father to have it spun, and then we will weave it." T h e son went back and the Devil was very angry, and told his son never to put forth any suggestion when a goat-bearded man was present, "for he is more devilish than we".' T h e latter part of the story much resembles the story of Bunayya which appears in the present volume. X L I . The Cotton-Carder and Kasilün (Lazybones). (The same narrator as preceding tale.) T h e theme is an old one in folk-lore and many stories related to this tale can be discovered, e.g. in Grimm's Household Tales we have 'The Valiant Little Tailor', 'The Giant and the Tailor', and 'Jack the Giant-Killer'. Dr. Kunoz in his Türkische Volksmärchen aus Stambul has 'Kara Mustafa, der Held', a Turkish tale akin to these. X L I I. Bunayya. I got this charmingly-told story from a Moslem lady of tribal origin, who had it from her wet-nurse when she was a child. T h e narrator was not literate to a high degree, for with praiseworthy enterprise she taught herself to read and write late in life. T h e likeness to story X L will be apparent. X L I I I . The Cat. A Kurdish girl told me this story in Arabic. X L I V . The Fish that Laughed. This story was told me by a Baghdad Christian woman (illiterate). T h e fables told by the boy to the princess are of ancient derivation. T h e story of the faithful



dog which protects the baby from a wild beast or reptile and is slain by its father is familiar to most children as the story of 'Gelert the Faithful Hound'. I n the Pancha-Tantra Fables it appears as ' T h e Brahmin and his Mongoose'. In The Fables of Bidpai both fables appear, as they do in the Persian version of the fables 'Anwar as Sohaili'. T h e Arab version of the fables, 'Kallla wa Dimna' (Ibn Al Muqaffa"s translation of these Indian animal stories), is familiar to every Arab schoolboy. T h e stories have passed into Armenian and Turkish folk-stories; compare 'Der König und seine Falke' in Türkische Märchen. X L V . The Honest Man. M r . Levack told me this story. He had it from a Baghdadi. It appears in slightly different form in two Persian folk-tales, ' T h e Brother whose Luck was Asleep', and ' T h e M a n who went to visit his Luck' (Persian Tales). X L V I . The Generous Man and the Niggardly Man. T h e narrator was a Baghdad woman, a Christian and illiterate. T h e tale has points of resemblance with an Armenian tale in Contes Armeniens entitled 'Dieu donne ä celui qui donne', but the 'Iraqi story is richer in detail. Similar incidents also appear in ' T h e Story of Roads and Short-Cuts' (Persian Tales). X L V I I. The Boy andtheDeyus. A Kurdish girl narrated this tale (in Arabic). T h e watch by the tomb is interesting. T h e removal of a corpse from its tomb amongst most races of the human family, but especially amongst Semitic races, is considered a disaster, since the spirit which once tenanted the desecrated body has henceforth no rest. See Jeremiah viii. In the Epic of Gilgamish (translation from the tablets in the British Museum) Eabani says: ' T h e man whose corpse lieth in the wilderness, T h o u and I have often seen such a one, His spirit resteth not in the earth. T h e man whose spirit hath none to care for it. . . . T h e dregs of the vessel, the leavings of the feast And that which is cast out into the street are his food.' T h e watch three nights by the tomb or dead body of the deceased occurs in European folk-tales, e.g. ' T h e Grave Mound' (Grimm's Household Tales). In the latter story it is the devil who attempts to carry away the dead man. T h e sequence of colour of the deyus is also significant, and recalls the coloured stages of the Sumerian ziggurat. Here the colours possibly symbolize the evil spirits of the underworld, earth and air. W i t h regard to the sea-mare upon which the prince eloped with



his bride, L a n e , in his note to the 'First Voyage of Es-Sindibad o f the Sea', quotes A l - K a z w l n i : ' T h e water-horse is like the land-horse, save that he is longer in the mane and tail, and more handsome in colour; and his hoof is cloven like the hoof of the wild ox . . . and his size is smaller than that of the land-horse, but larger than that o f the ass, by a little.' Sindibad (First Voyage) describes h o w at the time of the herbage the sea-horses come out of the sea, at which period K i n g M i h r a j sent his grooms with swift mares which they tied on the shore so that they might attract the sea-stallions. Compare also Türkische Volksmärchen aus Stambul, pp. 137 and 270. X L V I I I . The Shepherd and His Brother. T h i s was related by the same Kurdish girl as the preceding story. T h e magic pipes, which make all living creatures dance to their music, are too wellk n o w n a folk-theme to need comment: compare ' T h e J e w A m o n g the T h o r n s ' in G r i m m ' s Household Tales, the nursery rhyme ' O v e r the Hills and Far away', & c . T h e gold which sticks to the measure which has been daubed with pitch is another incident which occurs in many other tales, e.g. ' A l i Baba and the F o r t y T h i e v e s ' , 'Simeli Mountains' in G r i m m ' s Household Tales, & c . T h e inhuman demand o f the farmer recalls Shylock. T h e shepherd-brother's revenge through pretended misunderstanding of his master's orders is found in other folk-stories, but it would be difficult to match the superb bathos of the last sentence. Compare also ' M e h m e d , der Kahlköpfiger' in Türkische Volksmärchen aus Stambul.

TABLE OF CONTENTS Table of Contents







The Story of the Khalifa and the Three Maidens



The Valiant Shepherd, or the Chinese Egg



The Adventures of Sultan Mahmud's Youngest Son



Harun al-Rashid and the Poor Man's Daughter






The Loves of Ahmad Sultan and Tar Aswar



The Sardines



The Coppersmith and the Jinni



The Story of the Avaricious Man



The Story of the Fisherman and the Sultan


11 The Story of the Jackal Who Turned Hajji (Pilgrim to Mecca) .415 12 Juj and Majuj (Gog and Magog)



The Story of Hasan al-Basri



The Girl and the Rat


15 How the All-Powerful Yielded a Hundredfold




The Appearance of the White Cat

17 Allah Maku (There is No God)



The Faithful Slave



The Lion and the Jackal



How Heskel was Possessed by a Jewish Demon




469 CCCVll




The Black Cat



The Story of Budur





PREFACE Lady E. S. Drower (1879-1972) was a famous self-taught scholar, author of novels, field-work and travel accounts, many of which were set in the Near East. What I call Drawer's "archives" contain much of her scholarly correspondence, notebooks, field-notes, and so on. In 1988, Lady Drawer's daughter, Mrs. Margaret Hackforth-Jones gave me these archives. Among the many papers is a folder with a collection of stories from Iraq. O n May 4, 1939, several years after she published Folktales of Iraq, 1931, Drower sent a letter to the secretary of The Clarendon Press, Oxford, from her residence: The White Lodge, Baghdad, Iraq. Among other items, she mentions that, "In repacking, I have come on a number of Arab tales collected from storytellers and elsewhere." Among these tales there are, "also two Mandaean tales which I left out of TheMandaeans of Iraq and Iran.'"1 Drower expresses her wish to make the Iraqi stories into one volume. About the new collection, she states that, "they have one feature in common, that they were all related to me by people of this country (i.e., Iraq), high or low, tribeswoman, Jew storyteller, Armenian, Kurd, and so on." She feels bound to offer the manuscript to the Clarendon at Oxford University Press because the latter published her last two books. Obviously, nothing came of the plan for a single volume of stories. The date of the letter, May 4, 1939, indicates that events leading up to the Second World War probably put a stop to any hopes for publication.

1 Lady Ethel Stefana Drower, The Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran. This is one of Drawer's most well known works (recently reprinted by Gorgias Press, 2002). The Mandaeans are the last living ancient Gnostics, who still survive in Iraq and Iran, and also in emigration throughout much of the world.




In her preface to the 1931 Folktales of Iraq, Drower observes that Iraq furnishes a link between east and west, and that storytelling was a profession up to the time of the First World War. 2 About her selection of stories in 1931, Drower says that the Hasan al-Basri story was too long to fit in, but we have it here, in the current volume. One of the persons Drower thanks in the first volume is Abd al-Aziz Beg Mudhaffar, who told The Jackal as Hajji, which we have now. Regarding the frequently encountered initial formula "there was and was not," Drower states that it is a typically Turkish-Armenian way of starting off a story. 3 We find it in the present collection, too. I refer the reader to Drawer's Preface in her 1931 volume for descriptions of various demons, monsters, and spirits. In a typescript added to the present collection, a Jewish informant from Suleymania gives additional categories of spirits. The informant says that the drinj eats the children of Adam (i.e., humans). "It is like the children of Adam, but so big and strong that he could lift Baghdad in one hand. There is no drinj now, as there was in the time of (the heroes) Rustum and Gal. Drinj is like a siluwa: he meets a man in the road and takes him to its cave and eats him after forty days." Then, there is the peri pardazi. This creature is not a deyu (a type of demon), but is of the children of Adam. She resembles a woman in form, and she comes and loves men and boys, even if they are married to women. 4 Next, there is a female demon called an 'alh, or a shawa. She is also not a true demon, but of the children of Adam. She seizes children, and is harmful to them and to women. She has a rosary (sibhhd) that she fingers {til 'ab wiya), and each bead of it glows like a hundred electric lights (yishal mithl mi't lektrik), for the rosary is all of jewels of immense value. She goes to a house and hangs her khirza (string of beads) on the door, then enters and comes to the woman and seizes her heart, kidneys, liver, and entrails and puts them in a basin 2

The tradition was probably still alive, to a degree, until a few decades

ago. Lady E.S. Drower, Folktales of Iraq, xii, xiii, n.l. Drower thinks this must be like the qarina, which appears in several of the tales, below. 3 4



and carries them out on her head. Then she goes out to her place in the desert, where she has a garden with a fountain, and she washes them in the fountain, and the woman dies. The husband of the woman, if he sees and seizes the rosary on the door, takes the string to the suq (market), and sells the jewels one by one for a great price, and kings buy them. Then the shawa comes and begs for her jewels, but he (i.e., the dead woman's husband) will not give her as much as one of them, and she must come and enter the house of the man and become his servant for seven years. At the end of that time she begs him to release her, and kisses his hand and swears by God's chair (for being of the children of Adam she can use God's name) that she will never harm him again, and she returns to her place. If he can seize the jewels before the 'alh has harmed his wife, he can save her. There was a man who loved his wife like his religion, like his salvation. The 'alh came and seized his wife before he could save her. He took her khirza, and did not sell the jewels, but when the creature had served her seven years, and begged to be allowed to return to her country, he said to her, "I will not let you go unless you give my wife back to me." Then he took her to the graveyard, to the tomb of his wife, and the shawa put on the grave a lal and a lal azar (a bird like a nightingale, one weeps and the other laughs) and the woman who was dead rose whole and sound from her tomb, and her husband took her and embraced her and kissed her. He brought the woman to his house again and invited a hundred thousand Pehlewan (giants) and deyus5 and Narnar, Qarqar, Sarsar, Jehan, and Qarun Agha (five giants who served a great king once). 6 They smoked from a waterpipe as big as a room, and the smoke from it was like the smoke from a furnace. For food, they would take forty sheep and roast them at the fire of the sun-like 'Auj ibn

5 These supernatural beings are not supernatural with the Kurds, says Drawer. 6 This information about the five giants actually comes from Heskel, who tells the story of his own bewitchment, below.



'Anak (another famous giant), and made merry for many days and nights.7 Among the papers pertaining to the new set of tales is a letter to Drower (by a writer whose signature I cannot identify), dated Jan. 8, 1931. The letter explains that parzade is fairy-born, and peri parzade therefore seem to be the fairy child of a fairy. Regarding 'ar and shawa, the letter writer says, "I have met these two ladies in Kurdistan; the former in the shape of 'alh (Kurdish heavy L H sounds very like R)." Further, the letter writer continues, the 'alh is a female demon who steals the lives of women who have just given birth, while the shawa throttles newborn children. Moreover, "in Persia today the strong man of a circus is the Pehlewan." The writer ends by saying that he does not know the drinj, lal or lal azar. But the next January, there is another letter, from the same person, who now has inquired of a Kurdish friend who says that in the Zoroastrian Avesta drinj is the demon of lies. "Present-day Kurds, however, do not know this word, except in a compound coupled with dew (Persian div)." So, dew u drinj means "demons of all kinds." There is no suggestion that the drinj is female, says the writer.

* Traditionally, folklorists have used the classification system from A. Aarne and S. Thompson. 8 In the present collection of Iraqi tales, many of these types are represented. The mountain strewn with gold and jewels appears in the story of Hasan al-Basri, the bird choosing the next king by alighting on the person also turns up, while the short tale of Lokman features the "bottle with the poison" motif. Re-vivification of a dead person can be done with the application of green grass, hashish, as we see in The Faithful Slave. A woman giving birth to two puppies is a well-known motif, which we also see in one of the stories.

7 These descriptions come from Drawer's Jewish informant from Suleymania. 8 Antti Aarne and Stith Thompson, The Type of the Folktale: A Classification and Bibliography.



Birdsong reveals a secret; magical slippers are lost and found, and castles are moved long distances by magical means. We also find the act of burning the hairs of a super-natural being in order to s u m m o n his/her help when the hero has arrived in dire straits. Almost all of these are c o m m o n themes in N e a r Eastern folk traditions, and turn up in a variety of contexts. As always in folktales, there are voyages, heroes, and maidens locked away in castles. A n emphasis on endogamous society values is discernible in several of the stories. Friendships are important, especially between males, with honor codes, vows, and shared behavioral standards. Obedience to parents and elders must be held in honor, in the animal as in the human and supernatural world. Trust and also inevitable rivalry between brothers is a c o m m o n theme, as is the special b o n d between brother and sister. Stories featuring talking animals reflect human society and interactions. Many tales carry not only social comments, but even outright provocations to shared social norms. We find gender switches, w o m e n in male disguise fight with men, w o m e n fool men, the poor vanquish the rich and successfully challenge the power of sultans and other authorities. Violence erupts and vanishes quite quickly, without lengthy elaborations. Power is not complete or fully predictable, for heroes with superhuman capacities are usually vulnerable in some respects. In the present collection, religious themes predominate in the story of Juj and Majuj and in the t w o Mandaean tales. I see the t w o latter stories as focusing very carefully on conciliation, on positive relations with Muslims. Here and elsewhere, stinginess is criticized. Friendliness to strangers and the p o o r is another c o m m o n factor. It may be a surprise to find modern inventions, such as cigarettes and coffee, airplanes, telephones, and electricity. Such elements put the tale into modern context, showing the span of the continued relevance of cultural knowledge. In the story-telling context, such novel "intrusions" may not have seemed jarring.




Sweet sentimentalism regarding folktales may come through in statements such as this, by Frances Jenkins Olcott, in his Foreword to Tales of the Persian Genii, Modern life in the West is very colorless, lacking richness and warmth. To counteract this coldness and to foster in children their natural love of colour and an appreciation of beautiful objects, there is no more effective means than the steeping of their imaginations in suitable Oriental literature.9 His is an outdated attitude, of course, as folktales are not primarily for children, for furthering their esthetic growth. Introductions to more recent folktale collections show that the stories are taken in a much more serious vein.10 A couple of scholarly notes, useful to keep in mind for the present collection, are a few by Walter J. Ong in Orality and Literacy. The Technologizing of the Word. He states that oral cultures "use stories of human action to store, organize and communicate much of what they know," and that narrative plots, leading to a climax, take the listener into the middle of things. Only later may the narrator explain how things came to be. Another observation is that oral cultures take no interest in a linear plot, and that the storyteller often excels in "managing flashbacks and other episodic techniques."11 Here, in the current collection, stories appear inside stories, especially in the very long folktales. The storytellers show their professional talent by weaving the subplots into a long narrative. Somehow, the story always ends up with a neat tying of ends, which long threatened to remain loose. Jorunn J. Buckley May 15, 2007

Frances Jenkins Olcott, Tales of the Persian Genii, v. See, Dov Noy, ed., Folktales of Israel-, Ibrahim Muhawi and Sharif Kanaana, Speak Bird, Speak Again:. Palestinian Arab Folktales-, and Raphael Patai, Arab Folktales from Palestine and Israel. 11 Walter J. Ong, Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word, 140-144. 9


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I thank Mrs. Margaret Hackforth-Jones, first of all, for giving me the collection of her mother's tales, and also Mr. Mamoon Aldulaimi, Dr. Charles Haberl, and Professor Susan T. Hollis for their help.


1 T H E STORY OF THE KHALIFA AND THE THREE MAIDENS Language in which the story was told: Arabic Narrator: Moslem schoolmaster, who had it from his mother. They say that there was once a Khalifa {calif) who, like Harun alRashid, had the habit of walking abroad in the city by night in disguise, so that he might learn for himself the conditions under which his subjects lived and their opinions concerning the Government. As he was passing one night down a certain street, he saw three maidens leaning for air from their balcony window, and he placed himself beneath so that he might hear what they were saying. One said to the other two, "Should the Khalifa take me as his bride, I would bake him a loaf which would suffice for him and his whole army!" The second maiden said, "And should the Khalifa take me as his bride, I should bear him children with hair of gold and of silver." The third, who also seemed the eldest, said, "And I, should the Khalifa wish to take me as his bride, should not accept him unless he brings me my garments in his own hands, and puts my slippers ready for me to put on." The Khalifa wished to test the truth of the maidens, so the next day, he sent for them, and telling them that he had heard what they said, he asked if they abode by their declarations of the night before. The first said, "Yes," and averred that she could indeed bake bread as she had said. The second said, "Yes," and that time would prove that what she had said was true. Then the Khalifa turned to the third and frowned. "Do you, too, hold to what you have said?" And she, too, answered "Yes," in her confusion. Then he said to the first two that he would marry them both, but to the third he gave a letter that he ordered her to be delivered to the executioner. N o w the letter contained an order for her immediate execution, but when the executioner saw 317



her beauty and her youth he took compassion on her, and instead of killing her, he bade her escape from the town. Now, the first had told a lie, but had feared to deny it in her fright, and when the Khalifa ordered her to make a loaf as she had boasted, she baked him a loaf with so much salt in it that he could not eat more than a crumb of it, and as for the army, it was the same thing with them, so that the loaf remained untouched. But the Khalifa was angry with the maiden, and he ordered that she should become a servant in the house, instead of his bride. But the second sister, she who had said that she would bear the Khalifa children with hair of gold and silver, he married, and in due time she bore him, as she had promised, two beautiful children, twins. The hair of the boy was like gold, and the hair of the girl was like silver. But no sooner were the children brought into the world than the first sister, who envied the second sister's good luck, went to the midwife, and told her to put the babies in a box, and to throw it into the river. "But what will the Khalifa say?" asked the midwife. The wicked sister answered, "Tell him that my sister was delivered of two puppies, 12 and that you killed them." The midwife agreed to do this for a reward, and threw a box with the babies in it into the river. When the Khalifa came to see the children, he was informed that instead of bearing him children, his bride had borne two puppies, which had been drowned. So, deeming that his wife was an evil person, he ordered that she should be buried up to her throat, and left until she was dead; and so it was done. This was the end of the second sister. N o w when the eldest sister had fled into the desert, she walked until she saw tents of one of the tribes, and there she sheltered in one of the tents for the night, with an old Bedawi (Beduin) and his wife. They saw her lonely plight and her sorrow, and were good to her. But in the morning she left them and walked on into the desert until she came to a small hill. O n this she sat awhile to rest herself and to think on her cruel fate, and as she sat, she scrabbled the soil with her hand. Lo, beneath the dust, there was something that was hard and smooth,

12 Drawer's note says that a similar story is related in "The Story of the Jealous Sisters," D. L. R. Lorimer and E. O. Lorimer, Persian Tales.



and she began to dig to see what it was. Before long, she had uncovered seven boxes, which, when she opened them, she discovered to be full of gold pieces. With great joy she ran back to the houses of hair and said to them, "I have had a good fortune, and I will share it with you. Let me be a daughter to you!" They were delighted when she showed them the gold, and accepted her as their daughter. So they forsook the tribe, and when she said to them, "I want a house finer than the Khalifa's!" they found masons, and a splendid house was built, so fine that the fame of it reached the Khalifa. The Khalifa was now without a wife, and when he heard that the mistress of the house was a maiden of great kindness and wealth, he began to covet her for his wife, and he sent to demand her hand in marriage. The maiden sent the reply that she would not accept the Khalifa unless he walked behind her, carrying her clothes, and brought her slippers, and put them ready for her to wear. When he received this reply, the Khalifa was not pleased, but nevertheless, he accepted the conditions she named, because he coveted her wealth. So on the appointed day, he came to fulfill the conditions, and he himself bore his bride's trousseau, and walked behind her, and when she had come to the Palace, he brought her slippers as she had ordained. When he saw his wife's face, he knew her to be the maiden he had condemned to death, and at the same time he rejoiced, because she was fair and he loved her. Then she told him all the strange adventures that had befallen her, and he was astonished, and he praised Allah, the Uniter.


Told by a Kurdish woman, in Arabic, February and March 1931 There was once a man of the West country (gharbi), a nomad, and he had a son w h o was a shepherd of sheep. The boy t o o k his sheep into the chol (open country), and there he saw a lion coming towards him. The boy t o o k his stick, and hit the lion, but the lion seized the lad in his mouth, and cracked his head against the stem of a palm tree. T h e lad seized the palm tree, tore it f r o m the ground, and beat the lion with it until it died. At sunset he returned to his beyt (house) and said, " Wallah, m y mother, I am tired today, and m y head aches a little!" The mother saw that the son's head was cracked, and asked him what had happened. H e told her, saying, "By Allah, m y mother, a lion came u p o n me, and seized me and knocked m y head against a palm tree, but I up-rooted the palm tree and beat the lion so that it died." T h e mother answered, Seb'a abu halg al jaif, Fesakh rasak, Nta muidni\ Ma aridak! Itla!13 A lion, father of a stinking mouth Split your head You are not my son, and I don't want you! Go away! H e t o o k a reed basket full of dates and went out of the house. H e walked into the desert and saw another countryman of the West and said, "This is m y brother! You, where are you going?" T h e man said, 13

She meant that had he been adroit and courageous, he would not have allowed the lion to crack his head. 321



" A n d where are y o u going?" The lad said, " M y mother turned me out, and I can stay no longer in this country." The other said, "I t o o will go with you. Wherever y o u go, I will go!" So they were two. The second also t o o k a basket of dates, and they walked until they saw a third man of the West. H e asked, "Where are y o u going?" The lad replied, " M y mother turned me out and I can stay no longer in this country, and this man came with me." The third man said, "I will go with y o u also." So they were three upon the road, and this comrade, like the first, t o o k a basket of dates with him. A t last they reached a town, at sunset time, and knocked at a p o o r little house that they saw. A n old woman called out, "Who is it?" A n d they replied, "We are your guests, we need shelter." She replied, "I am poor, and I have nothing, but come in and rest." T h e y were very thirsty, and they said to her, " M y mother, do y o u have no water to give us?" The old w o m a n went and brought them urine. O n e drank and cried, "What is this, O mother?" She said, "Shall I tell you the truth?" T h e y said, "Yes, Wallah (by God), tell us the truth." She said, "That was urine that I brought y o u to drink." T h e y said, "Why? A n d why did y o u treat us thus? Is there no water in your town?" She answered, " O u r water comes all from one spring, and the s'aluwa (an evil, female water-spirit) who lives in that spring will only allow the water to flow for one hour, and that only if we bring it a young girl as an offering. This night we are bringing it the Sultan's daughter, and the water will flow for one hour the next day." T h e shepherd lad asked, "At what hour do they take the girl to the s'aluwa?" She replied, "At the second hour of the night." H e said, " G o o d ! " A n d he t o o k his club and his 'aba (cloak), and went out, bidding his friends to remain behind, saying, " M y brothers, stay here; I have work to do." H e went to the haunt of the s'aluwa, and there they had built a r o o m for the girls w h o m they brought to it. T h e y placed them in the r o o m and left them there for the s'aluwa. T h e lad went to the r o o m and saw the maiden, who was frightened when she saw him, thinking that the s'aluwa had come for her. But he said, " D o n ' t be afraid; I shall not let the s'aluwa eat y o u ! " She said to him, " C a n y o u do anything against the s'aluwa?" H e answered, "Yes!" and asked her to put out the light, and when she had done so, he said to her, "When the s'aluwa ar-



rives, and says, ' C o m e out!' reply 'I am a Sultan's daughter, and I do not go out! Y o u must stretch out y o u r hand and take me.'" T h e girl said, " G o o d , I will do it." T h e s'aluwa arrived, and said, " C o m e out!" T h e girl replied, "I am a Sultan's daughter and I do not go out! Stretch out y o u r hand and take me!" T h e s'aluwa stretched out its head, and the b o y hit it with his club. H e hit it, and it died! T h e lad then wished to leave the r o o m quickly, but the maiden seized him and said, "Where are y o u going?" T h e lad said, "Let me go out!" But the girl t o o k her hand and dipped it in the s'aluwa's blood, and printed it on his 'aba like a mark ( nishan ), and he went. Then the girl rose and lit the lamp. T h e people in the king's castle saw the light and said, "What can that light mean? Is the girl living?" T h e police, the dowriya (the police that go on a tour of inspection) came, and saw that the girl was well, and the s'aluwa lying slain beside her. T h e police went and gave the glad tidings to the Sultan, and all rejoiced greatly that the girl was saved. T h e Sultan asked, " O m y daughter, w h o did this kind of deed?" She said, " Wallah (by God), m y father, it was a stranger, a shepherd, a lad f r o m the West and not of this country." T h e king asked, " D o y o u k n o w where he is?" She replied, " N o , m y father, I do not k n o w where he is to be found, but I left a mark on the b o y so that I might k n o w him again." T h e Sultan ordered a crier to tell all the people of the town to go out into the chol, and his daughter to sit in her window, so that when they returned, one by one, and passed beneath her window, she might look at them well. If she saw her mark on any man, she was to drop an apple of gold, so that they might k n o w him. It was done; and she gazed at the people of the t o w n as they returned one by one and passed beneath her window. N o t one remained at last, and they came to her and said, " Y o u have thrown n o apple!" She replied, " A s yet, he has not come. H a s every man here passed b y ? " T h e y said, "There are three strangers, guests of an old w o m a n , but they are not of this t o w n . " T h e y went and ordered them to come t o the sultan, and the shepherd said, "I do not k n o w what y o u r Sultan can want f r o m me!" When they passed beneath her window, the princess cried, "That is him!" Then they went to the three friends and said t o the shepherd, " Y o u are bidden to marry the Sultan's daughter, and to become the



Sultan's heir." The shepherd said to his comrades, "One of you: go in my place and be betrothed to the Sultan's daughter!" And one accepted. The shepherd then said to those who had come to fetch him, "These are my brothers!" and they took the first comrade, and drew up the marriage contract between him and the princess. They married, and were content. Now there were two left, the shepherd and his comrade. They said, "Let us leave this place and travel!" And they set forth again. At last they came to another town, and there also they sheltered for the night with a poor old woman. They asked her for water, and she said to them, "There is no water!" They said, "What is this judgment upon you?" She said, "There is an 'afrit (monster) who will not allow anyone to approach the spring of water, and only when we bring him a maiden will he give us water. This night they are taking the Sultan's daughter." That night the people assembled, and there was mourning music, and all stood waiting while the Sultan's daughter was taken to the 'afrit. The lad said to them, "Take the girl back to her father's house; I will deal with the 'afrit." He went to the spring, and there he saw the seven-headed 'afrit that guarded it. He struck with his club at the first head, and the others replied, "That is not my head!" He said, "And that is not my club!" and hit all the other heads, so that the 'afrit died. So large was it that the spring ran red with its blood for a space of seven days. The sultan said to the shepherd lad, "You have rescued my daughter; I will marry you to her!" The shepherd said to his comrade, "From me to you! I will not take her; take her for yourself!" His comrade was grateful, and the marriage contract was made and he married the princess and became the Sultan's heir. There remained the shepherd lad, and he said, "I cannot remain in this place; I must walk on." He walked on, alone, and came into the country of Chin (China). There he entered a large town which was all open and desolate. He walked in it, and perceived no living creature, whether human or animal. The doors were open, the houses were empty, no one was there. He saw not a cat, not a sparrow; the city was empty. He wandered about in this city for seven days and saw no one. One house was larger than the rest, and he entered its courtyard,



which in itself was as big as a town. Here he saw one shut door, and when he opened it, he heard the sound of a human voice, reading. H e went forward and saw a maiden, who was afraid when she saw him and said, "What are you doing here? Where do you come from?" H e replied, "And I ask you: what has happened to this city, and what is the cause of its desolation?" She replied, "It is a judgment. It does not bear talking about." He said, "You must tell me." She answered, "There is a deyu (demon) who comes here to drink, and I milk a flock of sheep every day for him and put the milk into that cistern. When the month is ended and the cistern is full, he comes and drinks the milk. It is this deyu that ate all the inhabitants of this city." H e asked, "After how many days will he return to drink?" She replied, "He will come in three days' time." The shepherd said, "Speak! Tell me how all this came about!" The girl answered him, "My father was the Sultan of this city. One day, when he was out hunting, he saw an enormous egg lying in the desert. The egg was half red, half white. He was delighted, and said, 'By Allah, this is a pretty thing!' And he took it back with him, as if it had been an antique, and put it in his palace. His minister said to him, 'Why keep this egg here? Place it beneath a hen, and perhaps some rare bird may be hatched from it.' So they put it beneath a hen, and when it was hatched, it was an animal of the most terrible ugliness. It quickly became as big as a cat, and every day it ate a rat. Then it became as big as a dog and began to eat cats. Each year it increased in size and a new head grew upon it. In seven years it was as big as a donkey and had seven heads, and it ate all the animals of the place: sheep, cows, everything. When it had finished all the animals, it began to eat people. My father wished to kill it, but was unable to do so. It ate until not one person was left alive in my father's kingdom, and only my father and mother, my brother, and myself remained. Then it ate my parents and brother, and I remained alive, the only living being in the city. H e kept me to milk his sheep and to fill his cistern for him, and he returns, as I told you, to drink at the end of every month." The shepherd said, "I will kill it!" She said, "How?" He said, "With this club!" The girl replied, "You cannot! But I have a sword that belonged to my father. I will show it to you now, and I will see if



y o u are strong enough to wield it." H e said. "Bring it!" A n d when she had brought it, he t o o k t w o big stones, each as high as a man, and set one above the other. Then he struck at the t w o stones, and they were cut in two, so that there were four stones instead of two. T h e maiden said, " G o o d ! N o w dig a hole before the door, and when the deyu comes, hide in it, and cover it, and attack him from it. But y o u must not strike off one head at a time, but y o u must strike off all »seven at one blow, or he will kill y o u . " T h e lad answered, "I will do so. A t the end of the three days, the b o y hid in the hole, and the monster arrived. When he came into the courtyard, he cried, "I smell a man here!" The maiden replied, " H o w is that possible? W h o would enter this city? Does anyone remain alive here?" H e said to her, " N o , a man must be with you! I smell his scent." She swore that no man was with her, and said to the monster, " C o m e , drink your milk and return as usual." The monster went to the cistern and bent to drink, and as he was doing so, the lad came and struck him on all seven heads at once, so that they rolled off and he died. T h e maiden rejoiced greatly and said, " T h a n k G o d ! We are rid of that monster!" Then the shepherd t o o k the maiden, and made her his wife, for she was very beautiful. N o w there was a prince of a neighboring country who had heard of the beauty of the princess, and he said to his people, "I want to have that maiden!" T h e y said to him, "Who can enter that city? N o one!" T h e prince replied, "That is w o r k for an old w o m a n (a worker of spells). Bring one here." T h e y went to an old w o m a n and asked her, " C a n y o u transport this maiden to our prince?" She replied, "Yes. Make ready a ship, and man it. Seven men who can play music must come, and seven bottles of ' araq (liquor) also in the ship, and I will go to that city and bring back the maiden." T h e y carried out all that she had asked, and the old woman got on the ship, and the seven men and the seven bottles of ' araq with her. Also: a camel, a suit of green clothes, and a rosary. When the ship had come near to the country of Chin, the old w o m a n told the captain to stand off a little f r o m the land, and to put her and the camel on the shore. When they had done so, she put on the green clothes, and t o o k the rosary in her hand, and then she rode



on the camel until she reached the castle. There she spread a prayer carpet, and began to pray. The shepherd, as was his custom, had gone to hunt, and when he returned f r o m the day's sport, he saw an old w o m a n before the castle engaged in prayer. H e said to her, "Where did Y o u r H o n o r come f r o m ? " She answered, "I come f r o m the H o u s e of Allah (Mecca)." H e t o o k her to his house and went to his wife, saying, "I have brought a Seyyidiya (a w o m a n who has made the pilgrimage to Mecca) to the house." She did not wish the old woman to enter, " W h o is this old w o m a n y o u have brought?" H e said, "Shame, O woman! This is a Seyyidiya, and Allah brought her here, and she is tired!" T h e princess, his wife, answered, "I do not want her! I fear that she is not what she appears to be!" The shepherd said, " F o r m y sake, let her remain here for three days and then she may go." So the old woman entered the house, and the shepherd went every day to hunt. O n the third day the old w o m a n rose, saying, "It is forbidden to stay more than three days. I must go." The shepherd said, " D o not go yet, for m y wife is lonely." T h e old w o m a n rose and heated the bath, and said to the princess, " C o m e , I have made y o u a bath which will increase your beauty." The princess came, and the old woman washed her head, and changed her clothes, and made her look beautiful. When the shepherd returned f r o m hunting, he said to his wife, "What has made y o u look so sweet?" She said, " Wallah (by God), the old w o m a n heated the bath, and washed m y head and changed m y clothes." H e was very pleased, and said, " M y wife, I won't let this old woman go away; let her remain with y o u . " N o w the old w o m a n had left c o m m a n d with the seven men on the ship that after a week they should come and play music in front of the castle. O n the seventh day, they came, and when the princess heard them she was amazed and said, " W h o can this be that plays music in front of the castle? Is not the whole country empty? Then who are these?" Then she said, "Perhaps they came by ship." The old w o m a n said to her, " O m y daughter, I will tell y o u something." The princess said, "What is it?" The old w o m a n said to her, " M y daughter, your husband does not love you! If he loves you, he will answer truly when y o u ask him, 'Where is your soul?'" When the



shepherd returned that evening from hunting, the princess went to him and said, "O my husband, if you love me truly, you will tell me truly when I ask you where your soul is." He replied, "My soul is with Allah. Are not all men's souls with God?" The princess went to the old woman and said, "My husband loves me! He has answered, 'My soul is with God!'" The old woman replied, "No, my daughter, he does not love you. This is an evasion! Ask him tonight, and force him to tell you truly where his soul is." Night came, and the girl began to weep. The shepherd said to her, "My wife, why do you weep?" She answered, "Tell me the truth, where is your soul? (:ruh)." He said, "Shall I tell you the truth?" She said, "Yes." He said, "My soul is in your father's sword." Now this was the seventh day after the old woman's coming. The princess said, "Good, now I know that you love me!" She rose and went to the old woman and said, "He has told me that his soul in my father's sword." The old woman answered, "Good. Now he loves you, he loves you truly." But she went in secret and took down the sword from the place where it hung, and while all were asleep, she went and threw it into the midst of the sea. The man rose from his sleep, and he saw that the sword was gone. When he perceived that, he fell down like a piece of wood; his spirit left him, and he neither ate nor drank. He resembled someone dead. When the old woman saw that he was like that, she called up the seven men who had come to play in the castle, and they seized the princess, put her on the ship and sailed away with her, leaving the shepherd in the castle, lying like one dead. The ship went to the country of Sin (India), where the prince lived who had desired to have the princess as his bride. When he learned of their arrival, the prince went to see her, and found that she had become mad of her grief, with her hair unbound, and her wits wandering. He was horrified and said, "I cannot take this madwoman to wife! They told me that she was beautiful, but this is a crazy creature! Put her in a room under custody, give her food and drink, and tend her well." They put her into a room (khatiya) and did as he had said. But the princess had only pretended to be mad, as you shall hear. Now, in the meantime, the shepherd's two comrades, who had set out with him on



his travels, took fal (performed divination) every day. They read in the sand, and when they read the omens they saw that their brother was dead. One said to the other, "Brother! We must go to find our brother!" They went, and learning from their divinations which way to take, they arrived presently to the wilaya (province) of Chin, and entering the castle they found him stretched out as if dead. They spread sand, and made divinations, and asked the cause of his case. The sand replied, "She threw the sword into the sea." One of them said, "I will dive into the sea and bring it out!" H e found a plank, and taking it down to the sea, he got astride it, for there was no ship, and he rode out into the midst of the sea, tying a rope to his leg, the other end of which remained in his comrade's hand. Then he dived into the sea, and took out the sword. Then his comrade pulled at the rope and brought him in, and they went to the castle, and let the water from the sword drip into the shepherd's mouth. The shepherd jumped up and looked around him and said, "Where is my wife?" and called for her. They said to him, "We have learned by divination that your wife has been taken away by an old woman," and they informed him of what had happened. Then all three mounted the mare on which they had ridden there, and rode until they came to the country of the Sultan of Sin. Then they entered the palace of the prince, who received them with courtesy, saying "Ahlan u sahlan bikum\ (Welcome! You are family, and easy guests!)" and offered them coffee. They refused, saying, "We will neither drink your coffee or eat your food until we have done our work. Give us the girl that you have, of the country of Chin. Bi zeynia zeynl (Be fair!) If you act with justice, we have no quarrel with you. But if not, we are three comrades, and you have soldiers, and we will go to war with you." H e said, "Well! But we will not fight with you! I will give her to you!" The shepherd said, "It was my wife that the old woman brought you!" The prince said, "Take her; but she is mad." H e sent people to bring her, and the shepherd sent his ring with them to her. When she saw his ring and knew that her husband had come, she was happy, very happy, and went gladly with those who had come to fetch her, and so they came together again. The shepherd said



to the prince, "I need one more thing from you and that is the old woman who took away my wife." The prince gave him the old woman, too, and they took her back with them to the wilaya of Chin. Then the shepherd said to the old woman, "When you threw the sword into the sea, where did you throw it in?" She answered, "I threw it in the midst of the sea." Then they brought iron, and bound the old woman with hoops of iron, and then they threw her into the midst of the sea. The two comrades said to him after a while, "Brother, do not remain in so desolate a place as this! Let us all return to our own country." So they took gold and treasures from the Sultan's treasury and went away. On the road, the two comrades fetched their brides, and then the shepherd, and his two comrades and the three wives all journeyed to the Country of the West, the place where the sun sets. When they were only halfway, one of the two comrades said to the shepherd, "Wallah (by God), brother, I must tell you something! You have something more than we have!" "Say what it is, my brother, and I will divide it with you!" He said, "Your wife is more beautiful than our wives!" The shepherd said, "What do you want! I will bring my sword and will divide her into two." He lifted the sword and prepared to cut his wife in half, but they seized his hand and did not permit him to do it. They said, "We were only trying you. How could we let you kill your wife?" When they reached their own West Country, each man found that his parents, through much weeping for them, had lost their sight. Each man opened the eyes of his parents, and all were rich and all were happy, and lived in peace.

3 THE ADVENTURES OF SULTAN MAHMUD'S YOUNGEST SON Told by a man from Basra, March 1931 There was—and was not—a sultan whose name was Mahmud, and he had forty sons. They all lived with their father, and each prince had his own servant to carry his purse and make purchases for him in the suq. In the course of time the father died, and after a certain number of days his wife died, too. The eldest son assembled his brothers and said to them, "O my brothers! Now we are alone in the world! Up to the present time we lived without thought, and spent our money whenever we wished to do so. Our mother was alive, but now that she has joined our father, let us live more prudently. We will dismiss thirty-six of our servants, and only retain four." His brothers replied, "As you will! Our parents are dead and you are now father and mother to us. We will do all that you wish us to do." The eldest brother then set about getting a ship and filling it with merchandise, with cloths and silk and such wares, and this was done, and he and his brothers sailed to Bombay to trade. At Bombay they hired a pilot, and set off again and sailed until— as Allah had decreed from the beginning of time—they encountered a storm. The waves were mountain-high, and the ship went to pieces and sank. Only ten of the princes were saved, and one servant with them. Each one clung to a plank, and so escaped drowning. The water carried them here and there, but in the end it carried them to the shore. Allah had so ordered that trees were found in this place: apple trees and nabaks.u They said to each other, "We will remain here and eat of the fruit of the trees." Then a man appeared to them, riding a mare. He was really a nisr (a kind of ogre), but appeared in the guise of a man. He spoke to them, 14

A tree resembling a cherry tree. 331



saying, "Why do you remain here, living in this miserable way? Our town is not very far away, and in my house there are clothes, and shelter, and all that you need. I will take one of you on my mare each day, and so, gradually, you will all assemble there. In the town you can find work, and earn your keep." They listened to his fair words, and one of them mounted the mare with him. When they were midway on the road, the nisr seized him, bit his head off, threw it away, and then ate the body. The next day the nisr came back, and said, "O, how your brother is enjoying himself! He has plenty of clothes to wear, and is comfortable. Rejoice over your brother!" Then another one of them went with the nisr, and when they were midway on the road, the nisr seized him, bit his head off and threw it away, and then ate the body. So it was every day, until only the youngest of the brothers remained. He was alone, and said to himself, "Why should I remain here in solitude? Tomorrow the man will fetch me, but I will walk forward and meet him on the road." It was night, but he set off, walking along the road. Before he had gone far, he saw by the light of the moon a skull lying by the roadside. He picked it up and cried, "Akh\ This is my brother's head!" He walked further, and he found the skull of another brother, and he began to weep, saying, "Allah! We were forty brothers, and of the forty only I am left! Am I to die also?" He returned to the oasis, weeping and saying, "That must have been a deyu (monster)! Shall it eat us all?" He climbed into a tree, and when it was light, the nisr returned, saying, "You must be lonely here! Come with me. Your brothers are all enjoying themselves." The boy cried, "No! Allah, and may Muhammad and Ali defend me from you! We were forty, and of these ten were saved from the sea, only to perish in your mouth. I alone remain. Permit me to go and see my people!" The demon replied, "Ha! You know that I am a nisr! I am sated now, and not hungry, so I shall sleep here, beneath the trees, but when I awake, I shall take you and eat you!" The boy began to pray, "Oh Lord! Save me from the nisr I For there is no escape. I will throw myself out of this tree upon him, and either I shall kill him, or be killed myself."


The nisr was sleeping beneath the tree, and the boy threw himself down upon him. Beside the nisr on the ground lay his sword, and the boy seized the sword, struck at the nisr and killed it. He said to himself, "And now what shall I do?" He took off the nisr's clothes, and after he had washed them clean of blood and dried them, he put them on, saying, "Now I shall be like the demon! I will mount his mare and let her go as she lists, and see where she takes me!" He girt the nisr's sword on his side, and mounted the mare, and looked like the nisr himself. Now this nisr was the captain of all the nisrs. When the lad arrived at the nisr's castle, which was a big place, he saw many of them. He was afraid, and cried, "Allah! I am not yet saved, for these will eat me!" But it is the custom of the nisrs to salute their captain with their faces to the ground: they remain prostrated as he passes and do not look up, so the mare passed between them with the boy on her back, and they suspected nothing. The nisr had a wife, and it was her habit to come out of the castle to receive her husband, to lift him off his mare, and to accompany him into the castle. Accordingly, when the lad reached the castle, she came out, and lifted him off the mare. But she noticed that he was light, and not heavy, and began to weep. The boy, seeing that she knew he was not her husband, began to draw his sword to kill her. But she said, "I was not weeping for myself, but for you, for you are in danger." He said to her, "What are you, then? A female nisr, a female jinn, or a human woman?" She answered him, "No! I am the daughter of a sheikh of the Arabs. The nisr came upon us, slew all my people, and took me for his bride. That nisr was the eldest of his family, but when they know what you have done, they will slay you. But come, and I will hide you." She hid him, and when it was night, she came and took him from room to room in the castle, unlocking them with the nisr's keys. The first was full of gold pieces, the second of gold ornaments; indeed, there were ten chambers full of treasure. They took as much as they could, and then the woman said, "You did well to kill the nisrl Now we will escape. Every morning it has been my custom, while the nisrs bow to the ground, to get the nisr's mare from the stable and take it to him. Until I have done this, the nisrs remain prostrate. As soon as I



have returned to my room, they can raise their heads. Tomorrow morning, when I have brought the mare, I will mount with you, and we will ride away. The mare is a wonderful mare, and there is not her like in the world for swiftness." The lad answered, "Good. Take with you as much of your jewelry as you can." In the morning, the woman took her gold ornaments, and a little money for the journey, while he put on the nisr's clothes. Then she went and caught the nisr's mare, and brought her to him. They went an hour on the road, the lad riding before, and she behind. In the meantime, the nisrs near the door of the castle noticed that the woman had not returned, and they began to suspect that the rider was not their king. They gathered together, and began to run after the mare. The lad struck the mare, and she galloped, and quickly outdistanced them. Then the nisrs returned to their place, and put on mourning, and wailed, for they knew that their king must be dead. At the hour when Allah willed it, they arrived at a nearby city, dismounted from the mare and knocked at the door of a large house in the gardens outside of the walls. They were thirsty and hungry, and when a woman came out to them, they asked her for water. She replied to them, "I am an old woman, and the house is far from the town. So how can I give you water?" But at last she offered them some water, which was so dirty that they could not drink it. The boy took a couple of gold liras from his pocket and threw them into the dish. The old woman changed her tone and exclaimed, "Oh! Ahlan u sahlan bikum! Be very welcome! Be pleased to enter!" She took them in, and gave them clean water, brought them a tray of food, and they had supper. The lad put twenty liras in the tray when they had finished, and she said to them, "Pardon! I did not know you at first! It is our custom here to entertain guests, who must spend a day and a night in each house in the city. Every day a guest feasts and sleeps with a new host. We must give the king information about your arrival!" The lad answered, "Good." The woman sent someone to tell the king, and the first day and night the lad and the woman were the guests of the king, who said to them, "My son, you must not leave my kingdom until you have been a guest in every house in the city. Not until then shall we permit you to depart."


Accordingly, the lad and his wife were lodged and fed every day in a fresh house. A year passed, and still they were being entertained, when the woman fell ill, and died. They came to him and said, "Your wife is dead, so bequeath all your possessions, your gold, your mare, your clothes, to us." The lad said, "Why should I bequeath my possessions? My wife is dead, but I will go out into the world." They replied, "That cannot be. It is our custom that if a wife dies, we bury her husband with her, and if he dies, she is buried with him. We cannot alter our custom." The lad cried, "What! I am living, and you will bury me?" They said, "It is our ancient custom, and we are unable to change it." They seized him by force, bound his legs and arms, put him in an open coffin in which there was food and water ipib mat), and let him and his dead wife down into a large vault. The lad began to pray, " O h Lord! Have you rescued me from the nisr only so that I might die by the hand of these people who threw me into this vault?" He managed to free his leg, and began to look for a way to escape. The vault was full of bodies, and as he strode among them, examining the place, he stepped upon a foot. A woman's voice cried, "Akh\ Did you not look? You crushed my foot! Curse you and your city!" The lad asked, "Who are you?" She answered, "My husband died yesterday, and they buried me with him. Come, let us eat and drink together, and when we have finished the dates and water, let us die." The lad said, "Corpses lie around us, rotten and putrid and stinking. H o w can we eat here? Is there no means of getting out of this place?" She replied, "There is a fissure in the wall, from which a wolf comes every night to eat of the dead bodies and go out again." He replied, "When it comes tonight, I will seize its tail and let it pull me through." She said, "I, too, will follow you." He said, "How shall I tie you on?" She said, "Take the bandages off the dead, and we will weave a rope with them. Tie it to your belt, and when you go out, I will hold the rope and also be drawn through the crack." In the night the wolf came, as she had said, and stretched its head down to eat. The lad seized the beast's head from behind, and clung closely to it. The wolf was frightened, and ran off. It squeezed through the crack and the boy with him, and the woman was drawn after



them. It drew them up into the world, and then the boy loosened him, and fled. The woman cried to him, "Take me with you!" But he answered, "No! I am afraid that they will take me and put me back! I will go alone." He ran and ran and did not gaze behind him. But before him in the road he saw three wolves, one in the middle of the road, and the other two on either side of the way. He also saw a man praying in the desert, and in his fright he fled to him, crying, "Dakhilak\ (I am in your protection!) Allah! DakhilakV And he threw himself at him. The man who was praying took some dust and threw it at the wolves, which fled away. Then he asked the lad who he was, and where he came from. The lad replied, "O, my uncle! My story is a long one, and I cannot tell it to you." The stranger answered, "You must tell me your story, so that I can take you to my people." Then the lad told him all that had happened to him, from the time that his father, King Mahmud, had died, until the present time, when he had escaped from the vault, and met the wolves. The old man answered, "Your trials have been many, but you are shortly, by Allah's permission, to become king." The lad lifted his eyes, and he saw in the distance a fair city, a large place. He bade farewell to the old man, and going forward, he entered that place. He found that everyone was mourning. Even the walls were draped with black, and the people all wore black. Then he spoke to a man of the city and asked him, "O citizen of this place! If a man dies here, do you bury his wife with him?" The man replied, "No, we do not have that custom." The lad said, "That is well. Tell me, what is this wailing, and why are people wearing mourning?" The man said, "Our king has just died, and all the people are mourning for him. In three days they will appoint a new king. A crier goes through the city and orders all people to go out into the desert. When we are all assembled, a bird is loosed, and when he alights on the head of a man, we know that that man is to be our king." It was as he had said, and on the third day, all the people assembled outside the city walls. They urged a bird to flight. The lad climbed up on a corner of a wall of the city to watch from a distance. They


urged the bird up, and it flew up into the sky, and then it came down and descended upon the head of the young man. The people cried, "We will not accept that youth! He is an Arab, a foreigner. The bird is deceived. We will not accept this!" Then they loosed the bird a second time, and the second time he alighted on the head of the youth, after it had turned a while in the air. The third time it was the same way. The great men of the city said then, "If he must be king, he must be!" So they took him to the hammam (the baths), they played the big drum, and they took him to the palace. There they changed his clothes, and put a king's crown on his head, and he reigned as a king. His rule was equal and just, and the people were pleased with him, and said, "This is a good king!" He stayed there, and married, and went to his own place when his time had come and he was old.

4 HARUN AL-RASHID AND THE POOR MAN'S DAUGHTER Told by Fatum, a Moslem woman, ca. 70 years old There were once two brothers, one was a merchant who had made himself wealthy, and the other was a poor man. Both brothers married, and both wives had a child. The poor man's wife had a daughter and the rich man's wife a son. The rich man's wife said to the other, "When your daughter is grown, she shall marry my son." They grew up, the two of them. The rich man's wife said, "Now I will go and betroth our daughter to her cousin!" She went, taking gold earrings with her as a gift, and said to her sister-in-law, "I have brought these earrings for the betrothal of your daughter to our son." The other woman and her daughter were delighted, and when evening came the first woman returned to her husband and said, "I took earrings today to your brother's daughter, for our son wishes to marry her." The rich man said, "No, no, that can never be!" She said, "Why?" He replied, "No, no, no!" His wife said, "Why do you say no? She is a sweet girl, and good." "Ina shab'an, akhudshab'anl (I am rich and I will take a rich one!) I want a wealthy bride for my son, not a poor one!" She said, "But he is your brother!" He said, "Let him be my brother! I will not take his daughter as a wife for my son!" And he was angry and scolded his wife for taking the earrings to the girl. The next morning the woman rose, and she went to the house of her sister-in-law. They were pleased to see her, and the girl was very happy, and her people cheerful. But when she said, "Give me back your earrings, I beg you. My son's father does not want your daughter, for he wants to betroth him to a rich girl," their smiles were changed into tears. The girl wept and wept, and she would eat neither lunch nor supper, for she wanted the earrings. Her father came in and said, "What is the matter with you both, and why is the bride weeping?" His wife told him, saying, "Your brother bade his wife come here and 339



take back the earrings which were brought as a betrothal gift, for he wishes his son to marry a rich girl." When he heard that, the poor man became confused in his wits. He was beside himself, and said, "My girl shall have a husband if I have to look on the road for one, and search for one in the kennel." He rushed from the house, and he was wandering about the streets until three at night. Now the Khalifa Harun al-Rashid, and his minister J'afer were wandering about the streets in disguise, looking at the town. The Khalifa saw this man wandering about as if he were mad, and called to him, "Come!" The man came, and the Khalifa said to him, "What is the matter with you? W h y are you wandering hither and thither like a madman?" The man said, "What do you want with me?" The Khalifa asked him again what ailed him, and the man told him how his brother had treated them, and how his daughter was weeping because of it, saying, "Since she was little, the two were promised one to the other." The Khalifa asked, "What are you seeking on the road?" The man said, "I came out determined to find her a husband, be he a donkeydriver, or a porter, or a beggar! For I am resolved to draw up the marriage contract for her tonight, and marry her to someone." The Khalifa said, "I am a poor darwish—give her to me!" The man said, "Good," and he took the two back with him, called a mullah and drew up the contract, J'afer acting as the wakil (contract agent) in the matter. The darwish (that is the Khalifa) offered twenty dinars as the dowry, and said to them, "I make one stipulation: that I will enter your house only by night, and will not visit your daughter in the daylight." They said, "As you will." Then they rose, and the mother wept and decorated a room as well as she could, spreading bedding on the ground for the bridal bed, for they were poor. The darwish took the bride that same night, and at dawn he rose, and put a thousand dinars beneath the pillow of the bride, and went out, saying to her, "I will return when it is dark tonight." When the girl and her mother found the purse beneath the pillow, they said to each other, "He is a darwish! Leave the purse where it lies." When he came back that night, the girl said to him, "You forgot your purse, and left it beneath the pillow." He answered, "I did not



forget it! It is yours, and belongs to you and your people. Let your mother buy clothes and jewels and food with it, or whatever you will." He went, and the next morning, before it was light, he went out, and left another purse under the pillow, saying to the girl, "I shall leave this for you, to use as you like." He came in that manner for ten days. As for the rich man and his wife, they brought a bride from the other side of the river, and the wife said, "We will invite the girl, your brother's child, for it would be unkind not to do so. Why should she not come to the wedding?" So they invited her, and when they came to the house, the girl replied, "I will ask my husband's permission to come." They said, "Are you married? Then who is your husband?" She answered, "He is a darwish, who comes to me by night. If he permits, I will come to you tomorrow." That night, when her husband came, the girl said to him, "They have invited me to go to my cousin's wedding." The Khalifa said, "You wish to go?" The girl replied, "I would like to go to see it, and it will be a disgrace if I refuse. I should like to go." The Khalifa said, "Tell them that you will come, and I will send a motorcar to take you, and some wedding clothes for you to wear." So the girl washed her head, and combed her hair, and got herself ready in good time. The motorcar came, and with it two maidservants and two boxes of clothes that had been sent from the Khalifa's palace, and jewels for the girl to wear. They dressed the girl in clothes fit for a queen, and decked her with pearls and diamonds and gold ornaments— here, and here, and here—(the narrator made motions of decking herself) and then they put an izar (silk veil) embroidered all over with gold thread (kalabdun), and she went, she and her maidservants, to her uncle's house. They entered, and seated themselves on the stools that they had brought with them. All the guests left the bride, and came to gaze at the girl, saying, "Who can this be?" And some said to the aunt, "This is your brother's daughter, who was taken to wife by a beggar, from the road, a darwishl" The aunt came and looked at the diamonds and pearls that the girl was wearing, and then she said to the two maidservants, "This is our daughter. We did not give her to your master." They said, "Why did you refuse the girl as a bride for your son?" She replied, "We are



her own people. And I have never wanted any other as a bride for my son. It was my husband who refused her, but I have always wished to have her as my daughter-in-law. I want her now, for he is sweet, and she is pretty." They said to the aunt, "It is not in your hand now to alter the matter." But the woman was determined that her son should marry the girl, and so she drove off the two servants and dismissed their car, and the other bride she sent away, saying, "We did not give permission for my niece to wed the darwish, and she belongs to her cousin. She has always belonged to her cousin." The young man, her cousin, went to accuse the girl to the Khalifa, saying, "I did not give her in marriage, and she belongs to our family, and must wed me. Her father gave her to a darwish, but we wish the marriage annulled." The Khalifa said to the young man and his parents, "Why did you not wed her in the first place? Why have you come in a hurry to me now?" They said, "At first we did not want her, but she was promised to our son, and her father has no right to give her to a darwish. We wish to take her from this darwish by force." The Khalifa said to them, "Return tomorrow with the girl, and let her say which she prefers, the darwish, or her cousin. Come, all of you, to the court, and we will ask her publicly whom she accepts." They said, "Good!" And they went. That night the Khalifa went to her disguised as a darwish, and she told him that she must appear on the morrow before the Khalifa in the court, and asked whether she should go. He replied, "You have permission. Go with them." She said, "I am shy! It is such a disgrace!" He said, "It is no disgrace; go to the court with them." So the next day they went, all of them, to the serai. The girl did not recognize her husband in the Khalifa, for he sat on his throne wearing beautiful robes, embroidered with gold and gems, whereas the darwish had worn a turban and plain robes and had come in the dark. They came and stood before the Khalifa, the girl and her mother and father on one side, and the boy and his mother and father on the other. The Khalifa said to the girl, "These people accuse you, my daughter. They want you to marry your cousin. Do you want to marry your cousin or do you prefer the darwish}" The girl said, "I



want the darwish. My cousin did not take me when I was willing to wed him, and now I am willing no more, for I prefer the darwish." Then the Khalifa said to them, "Go out, all of you, except the girl!" They went out of the place—di\ Outside! Then the Khalifa descended to the girl, and took her by the hand, and unveiled her. He pointed to the palace, which was next to the serai, and said, "There is our house! I am the darwish I Let us go together into the palace, where you shall live with me always, by day as well as by night." Then he sent for her mother and father and kissed their hands. He had the girl enter the harem of his palace, and she forsook the house of her parents, and lived there always. Kunna adkum wajinal (We have been with you, and came back!)

5 THE ARABI BOY There was—and was not—a lad who came of a family of forty brothers—forty brothers all from the same womb. Also, in the Jazira, there was a qasr (a country house), and in that qasr lived forty maidens, also from one womb. Their father was a sheikh. The forty youths heard about them, and said to each other, "We will go to the Jazira (upper Iraq) and take the forty maidens to wife." They got on their horses, for the way from Al Hilla to Jazira was long. And they set off and rode hard. Night came, and they slept in the Jazira. The youngest brother did not sleep but stood on guard. In the night there came from the sky something like a black cloud, and stood above them. It was a serpent. The youngest brother took his sword Zenzala and struck at the cloud, and took off its head, but he did not cry out, for he did not wish to wake his brothers. At dawn they rose and mounted their horses and rode off, each thinking of his bride, one for each one of the forty. They arrived at the house of the forty maidens, and turned and turned around it, but found no gate and the wall was high. They went round and round seeking a way in, till at last the eldest said, "Maku tariql" "There's no road!" And thirty-nine of the brothers turned and rode back. Who remained behind? The youngest lad; and he was as beautiful as a star. He was weary, and he went to sleep in front of the house. One of the girls, the eldest, looked out from the window and saw him sleeping, and she let herself down and came to him, and said to him. "Are you ins or jins—human or fairy?" He replied, "I am human, and fairy and more than human—I am a lion. I am an Arab!" She was pleased with him. She said, "What do you look for?" He told her that he and his forty brothers had come seeking forty brides. She said, "Well! I accept you, my son!" (She was fair and very tall). "But," said she, "a hunfish (monster) is put to guard us, and if he sees you, he will eat you! Where shall I hide you?" The she said, "I will hide you in the kitchen." She




took him into the house, and hid him in a hole beneath the pots and shut the stone down upon him so that no one could see him. Now this hunfish who was the guardian of the forty maidens had made up his mind to take one of them and sleep with her. But they kept him off, saying (here the narrator kissed her fingers and spoke in a wheedling tone): "Ainil" (a kiss), "fidwal" (a kiss), "fidwal" "Darling! I am yours, but wait a little, only a little!" For they were all frightened of him, and all one after another kept him off thus, but they were virtuous maidens, and did not accept that the hunfish should play with them. Yes, they were frightened, for he was their guardian. Now the eldest that night sat beside the hunfish and flattered him, and laid his head on her lap, and stroked him until he went to sleep, that big hunfishl Then she gently slipped her legs from beneath him and went to the kitchen and took off the stone and called out the boy. She told him that the hunfish was asleep, and he seized his sword Zenzala and struck a blow, and cut off his head. The hunfish arose, and rushed into the yard and there he died. Then the youth returned to the girl and told her what he had done. She said, "That is good, but the hunfish has a brother, and I am afraid that he will kill you!" And she hid him again in the kitchen. Presently the hunfish's brother came into the courtyard, and he saw the hunfish lying there, the head here and the body there! He was very angry and began to shout, "Fatum\" "Yes!" "My brother! Who killed him?" "I know not, by Allah, effendiV' "You did not know?" "By Allah, I learnt it not, I heard it not!" "Shlonl (How come?) You did not know that he had been killed?" He then questioned all her sisters, and all the forty said that they knew nothing about it. All said, "We were ignorant about it!" All denied. Then he said, "As my brother is dead, I will be your guardian tonight." They cried, "Ahlan u sahlanl Be welcome!" and pretended to be delighted, and set to work to cook a feast for him and to flatter him. He sat beside the eldest daughter, who stroked him, and he fell asleep in her lap. Very beautiful was the eldest daughter! Soon after, she lifted his head gently from her lap and rose and went to the boy and brought him forth and said to him, "His brother is here now, and asleep; take your sword and kill him!" The boy arose, and took his sword Zenzala and with one blow severed the head from



the body. All the girls rejoiced and danced, for the Bedu's young son had killed this creature and given them freedom. They had been very afraid. They said to the boy, "Now return and bring your brothers with you, and we will be their brides." The youth returned—he, the lion who had rescued the maiden—and he told his brothers, and they came back, riding hard. Each took a bride behind him on the saddle and set back again. The road was long, and there was no water by the way, and they soon were ready to die of thirst. The women said, "We want water!" The youngest brother said, "We must go forward," and encouraged them, and they kept on—di!—until they arrived at a water-station. There was a deep well there. The lad took the horse rope, and let down a tannika (petroleum can) into the well, but each time it came up empty. Then he said to the others, "Ride on a little, and I will remain here and descend into the well." He climbed down by the rope into the well, and there he saw a kuta (a female whale, or she-fish) in the water. This she-fish ate anything it could, people, horses, sparrows—anything! He took his sword, Zenzala, and struck at her and killed her—and this boy was only as big as Khalil! He filled the bucket and called the others, and brought them back to the well. Then they drew up water, again and again, until all had drunk their fill, the men, the horses, and the women! When all were satisfied, he shook the rope and said, "Pull me up!" But they got on their horses and took the forty maidens, and rode off back to their father. Their father asked them, "Where is the youngest? How did he disappear?" and they answered, "We know nothing about him! We went, and we brought back the forty maidens, and we saw nothing of him." They lied to their father. Then they made a wedding. All the maidens were clean (virgin), and there was a great feast. The eldest brother took his bride and the eldest maiden as well. The youngest brother remained in the well. After a awhile, camels came by, and he shouted from the well, "People of the camels, people of the camels, come, take me out of the well!" They came and called down to him, "Who are you, ins or jins?" for they had heard of the creature that lived in the well. The boy replied, "I am neither ins or jins, neither human nor fairy, but better than both! I am an Arab!" But



they were afraid, and thought he was the fish. But he said to them, "Fear not, I am a Moslem, y o u are Moslems! I have killed the she-fish!" Then they drew him up, and they saw h o w handsome he was, and he told them what had happened to him. T h e y watered their camels; there were twenty camels, and the b o y mounted one of them, and rode with them to Al Hilla. There he went to the eldest brother's house, and saw his own bride, the eldest daughter, in his brother's house. T h e y spoke together, and she said, "I was afraid, and was forced to do this!" T h e b o y said, " F o r y o u r sake, I will not kill them, but I will let them be and go away!" Then they ran away together. As they walked on the road, they met t w o in a car, and these t w o were a qarin and a qarina (a male and a female demonic spirit)! (Praise to Allah, w h o created them!) T h e faces of the qarin and the qarina were covered. Presently, they came to the qarin s house, and it was empty, for had not the qarin and his wife gone into the chol (open countryside)? N o w the qarin and the qarina are very beautiful, and if anyone sees them they kill that person. T h e y had gone out, and on the fire in their kitchen was a pot full of rice and meat and vegetables. T h e A r a b b o y uncovered the pot, and t o o k out the food, and he and his wife ate all of it and then went down into the sirdab (basement). After some time the qarin and the qarina returned f r o m their journey in the car, and got out, and entered their house, and washed themselves and went t o eat. T h e y f o u n d the pot empty, and cried, " Q a r i n l Qarina, 'abd al qarin (servant of a qarin)\" But the qarina sniffed and said, "There is a smell of a child of A d a m in the house!" and they called, " C o m e forth! If a son of A d a m sees the qarina, he must die!" " O n l y Allah may look u p o n her and live!" the b o y answered, and the qarin said, " C o m e out, son of A d a m ! Are y o u fairy or h u m a n ? " T h e b o y replied, "I am fairy, human, and better than human! I am a lion! I am an A r a b ! " A n d he came out of the sirdab. T h e qarin said, " Y o u are welcome. W h y did y o u enter our house?" T h e b o y said, "Wallah (by God), I came to see the qarinar T h e qarin said, "If y o u see the qarina, I must cut off your head!" Said the boy, "I am a lion! Very good, m y dear, aini, if y o u must take off m y head, that is nothing to you! But I want to see the qarina\"



Then the qarin called to the qarina, "Qarina, Qarinal Come! This Arab boy wants to see you. I have agreed, so take off your veil, and then I will cut off his head." She came, with her veil over her head, and then took it away, and he saw her. Then the qarin said, "Now you have seen her, and I shall cut off your head." The boy said, "It does not matter. Only give me a respite till tomorrow—I want to pray. After that, cut off my head." So the qarin gave him until an hour before dawn. (As for the girl, his bride, he helped her escape during the night). The boy went up on the roof, and pulled a bell that he found there, and a khrrli bird came. He seized it by the body, and it rose with him into the air, and escaped! When the qarin saw that, he called to the qarina and said, "This Arab has seen you and escaped! I shall kill you!" and he took his knife and cut her throat. And the Arab had gone, and Allah be with him!

15 This means "falling" or "shooting" as in "a falling star" or a comet "shooting" through the sky.

6 T H E LOVES OF AHMAD SULTAN AND TAR ASWAR A Kurdish Story There was once a king who was brother to a merchant; one brother ruled, the other was a rich merchant. They used to hunt together, and one day, at a time when both of their wives were pregnant, the two brothers went on a hunting expedition, taking with them a thousand Pehlewan (giants), with tents and food for several days. By night they spread the tents in the desert, and by day they hunted. In the course of their expedition, they came one day to a fountain, and around it a garden full of sweetness, and flowers and myrtle—a pretty place. The Sultan and his brother talked together in the garden, and the merchant said to his brother, "Until now, we are childless. If my wife bears a daughter and yours a son, or if my wife gives me a son, and yours give you a daughter, let them marry." The Sultan agreed. After forty days and forty nights they again went hunting, and the wives of both were near delivery. They came again to the garden and the merchant said to the Sultan, "Give me your promise, and make a covenant with me that our children shall marry each other if it should happen that our wives bear us a girl and a boy." And they vowed together that it should be so. They returned to their city after forty days, and when they approached the gate they saw a rider coming furiously toward them, bearing the news that the wife of the Sultan had borne him a daughter and that the wife of the merchant had borne him a son. The merchant was very happy, and gave his son the name Melek (King) Ahmad, and hired seven nurses to look after him. Both the boy and the princess were fine children. The days became weeks, and the weeks months, and the months years, and the children grew and were, at seven years, as big as most children when they are twenty—for they were of the Pehlewan. So they grew and became handsome. 351



One day the king and the merchant went again on a hunting expedition, and came to the same garden. The merchant said to the Sultan, "Did we not make an oath here that our children should marry if they were a boy and a girl?" And the Sultan said, "Yes, truly, and if my wife agrees, we will marry the one to the other." They returned to the city with their Pehlewan and the deyus (demons) (for the Pehlewan had deyus as soldiers), and the Sultan went to his wife and said to her, "My wife, I swore to my brother that our daughter should marry his son. Do you agree?" She said, "Kheyr\ (No!) I do not accept." After some time had gone by, the merchant bought his son fine clothes embroidered with jewels, diamonds and emeralds and sapphires, and put him on a mare caparisoned with jeweled trappings and cloths (for the merchant was a rich man), and sent him to his uncle the Sultan's house to ask for the girl in marriage. Ahmad rode on the mare and when he came to his uncle's house he dismounted and went to him and said, "My uncle, a flower grows in your garden. If you still honor me, by bestowing it on me, accept these jewels, and let my cousin come to our house." His aunt, the king's wife, then said, "Keep your treasure for yourself. We will only give you our daughter if you bring here seven treasures won by the sweat of your brow." He returned, and his father said to him, "Ha, my son, what did your uncle say?" The lad replied, "My father, my aunt wants me to go and perform some work which will bring me seven treasures, and then she will give me her daughter." The father said, "I have seven treasures. Take them to your uncle so that he may give you your cousin." The boy said, "My father, she will not accept them: the seven treasures must be acquired by the sweat of my brow." Then he made provisions for a journey, and set forth alone in the world. Ardhat shilu, ardhat hattu, ardhat shilu (step-by-step)—until, after forty days' journeying, he came to a garden where there was every kind and species of fruit—apples, pears, plums, apricots—in short, every kind of fruit that Allah created for man. In the midst there was a marble fountain with flowers and grass around it. Ahmad said to himself, "By Allah, this is a good spot! Ah!" He took his knapsack, and took from it bread, and a fried and stuffed chicken, and began to eat.



When he had finished, he looked up, and behold, there was a rider approaching like the wind. Ahmad drew his sword and put it on his knees, thinking that it might be a thief or raider who wished to attack him, and prepared himself to meet him. But the rider tightened his rein and said, "Peace upon you!" to which Ahmad answered, "Peace upon you, and the salvation of God, and his blessing!" The rider said, "Are you alone? What are you doing in this garden? You have no permission to be here!" Ahmad replied, "Cursed one! I am the son of a wazir who is better than a king!" The other came at him, crying, "I shall kill you for entering this garden!" But when he came near, he saw that Ahmad was young and comely and sweet to the sight, and instead of striking him, he softened, and took his hand and kissed it. Ahmad returned the kiss, and they sat down and conversed with each other and became friends. Soon, servants brought a tent, all richly embroidered with precious stones, and food and fruit and tea, and when they had eaten and drunk, dancers appeared, and singers, and there was a chalgheh (musical entertainer), and the two amused themselves in the garden as if it had been a theatre. The stranger said, "You! What is your name?" "My name is Ahmad, and yours?" "My name is Tar Aswar. Tell me how you found your way into this garden, and with what travelers you came here." Ahmad said, " Wallah \ (By God!) Mine is a story!" And he told him the story of his birth and the Sultan's promise to his father and what had come of it, and how he had left and journeyed until he happened on the garden. Tar Aswar said, "And are you alone, without servants or followers?" Ahmad answered, "Yes, I am alone, for I was angry with my uncle and father and all my relatives, so I took some money and set out alone." Tar Aswar said, "Oh king Ahmad, give me your hand and we will be brothers." Each put his hand into that of his friend, and from then on they were like brothers. Far into the night they remained awake, telling each other's stories and listening to music. But at last Tar Aswar said to his friend, "Ahmad!" He answered, "Yes?" The other one said, "There is a sultan called Qarari Gawer, who has taken tribute (koda, sheep-tax) from me for the past seven years. Let us go and fight with him and get it back from him, so that you may have the money to take your bride." Ahmad agreed, and they went to sleep.



The next morning Ahmad and Tar Aswar rose, got on their two mares, and a servant on a third, and then they rode off until they reached the palace of Qarari Gawer. It was strong city, surrounded by a high wall of iron, with two gates, one for entry and the other for exit. Forty deyus guarded the wall, and forty Pehlewan, and the latter wore one earring each, as a badge of servitude, which prevented them from biting people and eating them up. Close to the town there was a hill, and the two companions did not enter the town but spread their tent on the hill. Then Tar Aswar rose and wrote a letter, saying, "I, Tar Aswar, son of Sultan Mashriq (sunrise), and Ahmad, son of Sultan Mahgrib (sunset), whose kingdom is a distance of five hundred years away, have come to your place. You have taken sheep-tax from me these seven years, and it is upon your head! If you do not return the money, we will fight with you!" Then he put the letter in an envelope and sealed it, and sent his servant with it to the Sultan. The servant took it into the city, and asked the people in the street, "Where is the Sultan's house?" They said, "There it is!" The he entered, and found the Sultan sitting with four councils, one hundred thousand strong men and deywat, and all his ministers and courtiers. The Sultan tore open the envelope and unfolded the letter and read it, and when he finished it, he threw himself backwards and laughed, "Ha, ha, ha!" The ministers and courtiers around him said to him, "O, our Sultan! Why do you laugh? Tell us!" The Sultan said, "I am laughing at this letter!" And he told them what was in it, and he said to them, "Do I not have cause to laugh?" His chief minister said, "But if Tar Aswar writes in this way, he must have forces with him!" Then the king called his coffee-maker, and said to him, "Come! Cram this letter into the mouth of the servant, and strike him on both cheeks, and make him swallow it!" But the prime minister said, "No, Sultan, do not do it! For if he did not have some forces behind him, Tar Aswar would not have dared to write this. Give the sheep-tax money for the past seven years!" But the Sultan would not listen to him, and sent the servant back with the message, "I will make war with you!" Meanwhile, the Sultan called the chief {jehan) of his fighting Pehlewan, and said to him, "Jehan Pehlewan! Take a thousand of your



men, and go to these two, and bring their heads back to me, and throw them into the assembly so that we may play ball with them!" The servant of Tar Aswar, keeping watch on the hill, then cried to his master, "O, my masters! A thousand Pehlewan are approaching us, riding on rhinoceroses (karkadun)^ Ahmad cried, "Weh\ (Oh no!) O n my eyes and on my head! They are not coming in peace!" Tar Aswar ordered the servant to bring food, and coffee and tea, and both ate and drank. Then he called for the horses, and they mounted. Tar Aswar said, "Ahmad!" And Ahmad replied, "Yes!" Tar Aswar said, "I will be on the right, and you on the left. I will engage them on one flank, and you on the other." Ahmad answered him, "O, my brother, yes!" They rode to the host, slaying right and left, for they were strong with their love for each other. They slew the Pehlewan, except for one man, and they took him, and cut off his eyelids, and his ears and nose and his lips, and put them into his hand and sent him back to his master. The warrior's knees were knocking together with fear, but he returned to the city and sought the Sultan. The Sultan saw him approaching, and saw the gleam of his teeth (for his lips were gone), and thought he was laughing, and rose joyfully. But when he perceived the sorry state he was in, and heard what had happened, he fainted. The chief wazir said to his master, "Ey, Sultan! Did I not tell you that those two must have power when they sent a message to demand the money?" Then the Sultan called forty scribes and wrote a letter to Tar Aswar, saying, "I do not have the sheep-tax for seven years—I do not have that much in my treasury. But I will give you the sheep-tax for four years. The rest is missing." When Tar Aswar read the letter, he said to the Sultan by telephone, "That will not satisfy me: if you do not send the money owed for seven years, we will make war on you." The wazir said to the Sultan, "Why not give what he asks?" The Sultan replied, "We do not have it in the treasury! Lies! For he was not lord over a country that it took seven years to cross." So the Sultan called, "Jehan Pehlewan!" And Jehan Pehlewan answered, "Yes?" The Sultan said, "Take ten thousand Pehlewan and make war on these two.



Kill them, and bring their heads here, so that we may play ball with them!" Then the servant of Tar Aswar looked toward the city and he saw an army approaching, and called to his master, "Woe upon my head and upon my eyes! A hundred thousand are advancing upon us!" Tar Aswar laughed, and said, "Bring food, and coffee!" They ate and drank, and then the servant brought their mares, and they mounted them. Tar Aswar said to Melek Ahmad, "I am on the right and you on the left." So they rode to battle, and killed all the Pehlewan except two. And with these they did as with the other, and sent them back to the sultan carrying their noses, and their eyelids, and their ears and their lips in their hands. They came and brought the news of the battle to the sultan, and he fell back in a swoon. The wazir said, "Eyhu\ (Oh no!) Sultan! Did I not tell you they were strong, or they would not have demanded this of us!" Then the Sultan called Jehan Pehlewan and asked him, "What soldiers have we left? Bring all of them, all the Pehlewan and all the demons and make war on these two and bring back their heads so that we may use them as footballs." The servant of Tar Aswar saw the army approaching and said to his master, "Woe! An army larger by far than the other two is upon us!" Tar Aswar did as before: they ate and drank, and mounted their mares, and Tar Aswar said to Ahmad, "You on the left and I on the right." But Ahmad said to him, "No, my brother! Twice you have fought on the right and I on the left: now it is my turn to fight on the right." So they went down and fought, but this time they took Melek Ahmad prisoner, and bound his hands and feet and took him to the Sultan. The Sultan did not wish to kill him until he had captured Tar Aswar, too, so he took Ahmad and bound him in irons and put him in a hole in the ground, with a heavy stone over his head, and set forty deywat to guard the stone and see that he did not escape. As soon as Tar Aswar perceived that Ahmad was not there, he fell to the earth, and did not know day from night, and was like one dead. When he recovered his senses, he wept and neither heard not spoke, until he said, "Servant! If they have not already slain Ahmed, I will



bring him back, even if he were seven layers deep in the earth, or seven heavens high in the sky. But if he is dead, I will kill myself." Then he beat his breast and wept, saying, "Akh\ Sweetness and beauty like Ahmad's are not found on earth!" Now the Sultan, fearing Tar Aswar, had ordered his subjects to douse every gleam and every fire, and to extinguish every electric light and all candles, for he thought that Tar Aswar might try to come by night and take Ahmad away by force. When night had come, Tar Aswar disguised himself as a darwish (a poor beggar, but a wise man), and entered the city. It was all dark, and the streets were empty, but he saw a glimmer of light in one house, and went to it and knocked on the door. The householder inside quickly blew out the light, fearing that the Sultan had sent a spy, and would punish him. But Tar Aswar called at the door, "Do not fear! I am no servant of the Sultan: I am a darwish I Open the door and give me your hand!" The father of the house undid the latch, and opened the door and put out his hand, and Tar Aswar put a lira into it. When the poor man saw the gold lira, his eyes jumped out on top of his head, and he cried, "Peace upon you! The peace of God, and his salvation and his blessing upon you! On my eyes, on my head! Come in, and I will give you coffee and tea!" Tar Aswar said, "I want only one thing. Show me the Sultan's house, where a friend of mine lies in the dungeon, and in seven years you shall be Sultan in his place!" And he took gold liras from his bosom, and gave them to him. Now the householder was a poor carpet-weaver, and he was the father of many little girls, and when he saw the money, he was overcome with joy, and kissed Tar Aswar's hand. Tar Aswar said, "What is the price of that rope? Sell it to me, and guide me to the Sultan's house, and I will give you a thousand lirasl" The man went before him, and Tar Aswar took the rope on his shoulders and they reached the Sultan's palace, and the man returned to his place. There were two lions guarding the door of the Sultan's house, and they advanced on him. He hit them with his fist—one, two!—and they died. He broke open the door with his hands, entered the house, and found the forty deywat (demons) guarding the great stone above Ah-



med's dungeon. With two sweeps of his sword he cut off the heads of the deywat, twenty at each cut, and they lay dead. Then he lifted the heavy stone with one finger, and threw it a distance of forty parasangs. Then he called down the hole to his friend, "Ahmad! Are you alive?" Ahmad answered him, "Yes!" Tar Aswar said, "I will let a rope down to you. Seize it and come up!" He let the rope down to Ahmad. But Ahmad was bound, and how could he seize it! However, he took it in his teeth, and bit on it, and was drawn to the surface in this way. Tar Aswar broke the iron bands, and then they embraced and kissed each other tenderly. Tar Aswar said to him, "I swore that if you were alive I would bring you back, even if you were seven layers under the earth or seven heavens above it, and that if you were dead, I would kill myself." Then they returned to the hill, and Tar Aswar summoned music, and embroidered pavilions, and banquets, and jugglers (for he was a magician), and from dawn until dark they made merry together. When they brought the news to the Sultan the next day that Ahmad had escaped, he was eating, and the knife fell from his hand and he fell in a swoon. The wazir said, "Ha! Sultan! Did I not tell you that Tar Aswar and Ahmad had secret forces unknown to us?" The Sultan said, "What shall I do?" The wazir answered, "Forty of your ministers and chief people must go barefoot, and bare-headed, with their handkerchiefs about their necks like halters, and you yourself at their head, and must seek Tar Aswar and must say to him, 'We are yours and all our country is yours.'" And so they prepared themselves, and set out barefoot and bareheaded, with the Sultan before them, to go to Tar Aswar. When Tar Aswar heard of it, he said to his servant, "Bring them into our tent, and when the Sultan, who goes before them, bends his head to enter, cut off his head, but leave the others unscathed." So it was, and when the Sultan bent his head to enter the tent, the servant smote him, and his head flew off. Then the servant put back his sword, and the forty entered and said to Tar Aswar, "We are your servants and our country is yours. We will serve you. Mercy! We served you ill, but do not serve us so!" Tar Aswar rose, and he and Ahmad went into town, and went to the bath, and changed their clothes. Then Tar Aswar made Melek



Ahmad sultan of the country, and he himself was his wazir, for he loved Ahmad like his eyes, like his religion, like his salvation! Their rule was so just that the lion lay down with the lamb, and when merchants went home in the evening, they did not trouble to lock up their shops in the suq, but left them open, for there were no thieves to steal. Neither did householders lock the doors of their houses. This lasted for seven years, and then Tar Aswar called the fatherof-carpets, and ordered him to be taken to the bath. There they washed him, and rubbed him, and shaved him, and put him in fine clothes and brought him to the palace. Tar Aswar said, "Ha, did not the darwish promise that you should be sultan in seven years?" And he took the carpet-seller, and made him sultan in Ahmad's place. Now the two friends had determined to leave the country, so they loaded a hundred camels with liras and treasures, and forty other camels carried their followers. Now the Sultan whom they had killed had a daughter who was very beautiful, and Ahmad wished to take her with them. So they took her, and the hundred loads of treasure, and they rode away until they came to the garden in which Ahmad and Tar Aswar had first known each other. Tar Aswar said, "We will divide the treasure here. Take your fifty loads of treasure, and I will take fifty, and as for the girl, we will cut her in two halves, and you shall take one half and I the other." Ahmad cried, "Akhl The girl is sweet! If you cut her in two she must die! Take the hundred loads of treasure, and let me have the girl!" But Tar Aswar refused, saying, "No, she must be divided between us!" Ahmad trembled with grief, and the girl wept bitterly. But Tar Aswar said to her, "Come!" And he seized his sword, and placed the girl before him, and she held herself straight, with her two hands down by her sides. He raised his sword in the air, and she opened her mouth and shrieked with fear, and from her open mouth came a serpent. Tar Aswar slew the serpent, and then he said to Ahmad, "Take the girl: she is yours, and the hundred loads of treasure are yours also. Go back to your father's house, and take the hundred loads to the daughter of your uncle as a wedding gift, and tell her that they are a present of love ('ishq) of Tar Aswar to you!" Then he rose, and he and Ahmad embraced and kissed each other. After that, they parted, and Ahmad went back to his own city, and



gave fifty loads of treasure to his father, and fifty to his uncle. There was great rejoicing at his return, and the Sultan made a wedding between the cousins, which lasted for forty days and forty nights. None went hungry or thirsty in those forty days, for feasts were made for all the people. At the end of the festivities, the night of Entry, when the bridegroom and bride were left together in the bridal chamber, the girl said to Ahmad, "Tell me, where did you get all these riches that you brought with you?" He said, "All came from the love of Tar Aswar towards me!" She said, "Were you and Tar Aswar lovers? Wakhl Is there one better and lovelier than I?" And she was angry and said, "I will not give you as much as a finger of my hand unless you bring this Tar Aswar before me, and put us side by side, so that it might be judged if he is more beautiful than I am, or better than I am!" Ahmad rose and swore by his right hand, "O, daughter of my uncle! Let me approach you, and let us have pleasure this one night, and I promise that I will bring Tar Aswar here!" But she would not let him approach her or sleep beside her, saying, "Ha! Is there one more beautiful than I?" Ahmad was like one mad when she refused him in this way, for he loved her as Majnun loved Leyla. The morning came, and he rose and said to his father and mother, "My father, my mother! Make ready provisions for a journey, for I must depart from this place." His mother said, "I am your slave! God's fortune upon you! My son, why do you leave us, and leave your wife?" He replied, "As God is One, I must go! But put this stick in the ground. If it remains green and fresh, you will know that I am well; but if it withers and dies, you will know that I am dead." Then they brought the mare, and he mounted, and took leave of his wife, saying to her, "I go, and peace upon you!" She answered him, "Not until you bring Tar Aswar here and I see with my own eyes than he is lovelier than I, will I permit you to approach me as my husband." Then Ahmad left his country and traveled he did not know where, for he did not know the road to Tar Aswar. Ahmad was of the children of Sultan Mahgrib, and Tar Aswar of the children of Sultan Mashriq—God's mercy upon you! Their countries were far from one another.



He rode and rode through desert, woods, wildernesses, and places so barren that there was not even a bird in the sky. He traveled and traveled until at last he came to the garden in which he had met Tar Aswar. Here he dismounted and let his mare wander and crop the grass, while he sat by the fountain, for he was weary, having traveled for seven days and seven nights. He opened his provision bag and took out his food, and set it before him, and ate, and washed, and drank water. When he was refreshed, he said to himself, " Wallah! (By God!) I will wander in the garden for a while for pleasure." He rose, and wandered in the garden for pleasure, when suddenly a deyu (demon) in the shape of a son of Adam appeared before him and cried to Ahmad, "O, accursed one! Did you dare to come into this garden without permission?" Ahmad replied, "Accursed one! This garden belonged to the grandfather of my grandfather! What are you doing here? If you do not flee immediately, I will destroy you utterly, and cut you into small pieces." The deyu replied, "Wakh\ Woe, woe! You dare to speak to me in this way, and you are a son of Adam and I am a deyu\ Come, let us fight with our fists!" He aimed heavy blows at Ahmad, and Ahmad returned them. Ahmad hit the deyu so hard on his head that blood spurted from his nose. Then the deyu took a stick (chamagh), and Ahmad took a stick, and they belabored one another until they were sore, and the deyu said, "A son of Adam manages to treat me in this way? So, from the hour of one till the hour of twelve they exchanged blow for blow, the deyu and Ahmad. At twelve both fell asleep with fatigue, and weary from loss of blood and blows they lay down on the ground. The sun rose at seven in the morning, and Ahmad sprang up refreshed, and the deyu likewise. The deyu cried, "Ahmad!" And Ahmad replied, "Yes! Ey, you son of Adam," to which the other answered again, "Yes!" The deyu said, "You are valiant and you are strong. Let us agree to wrestle, and shake hands on it. If I throw you, I will kill you; and if you throw me, you shall kill me!" Ahmad said, "Agreed!" And they shook hands on it.



Then they closed in on one another and wrestled, and until six o'clock of the day neither had thrown the other. Then Ahmad cried, "O, accursed one, let us call a truce for a while, so that I may say my prayers." Then Ahmad went to the fountain and made his ablutions, and washed the sweat from his face and his body. He dipped in the fountain twenty-four times, and when he came out of his bath, as a jewel is beautiful and dazzling, so fair and resplendent was he! He spread his prayer-mat, and he prayed to his Lord, "O, God, I am your servant! Give me the strength to overthrow this deyu so that he may die! Let me not be weakened and be overthrown by him, so that he kills me!" Then his Lord placed forty batman (measures) of strength in his body, and the valor of Rustam16 in his soul. Ahmad rose quickly, and went to the deyu who said, "Have you finished your prayer?" Ahmad cried, "Yes! Your turn!" Ahmad seized him, and once he twisted him, and twice he twisted him, and the third time the deyu fell to the earth. As he fell, the button of his garment came undone, and it fell away and disclosed two breasts the nipples of which shone like jewels as he lay on the ground. When Ahmad saw this, and perceived that a beautiful girl lay before him, he could not kill, and he began to weep and cry, "Woe, woe!" The maiden arose quickly and went to him where he sat weeping and said, "Ahmad! Why weep? Rise, quickly! Seven suitors have loved me, but I killed them in fight, and their heads hung from the minaret. Only you have I loved! Come with me, and we will live together in my castle which is built of gold and silver—one brick of gold and the other of silver! Why do you weep? I am Tar Aswar, and I love you!" Then Ahmad told her the story of his adventures from the time they had parted until now, and how the daughter of his uncle had refused him because of her jealousy of Tar Aswar. Then Tar Aswar rose and took Ahmad to her castle, which was built of gold and silver, and to her room in which there was a bedstead encrusted with diamonds, rubies and emeralds.


A famous legendary hero.



Then she said, " A h m a d ! " H e answered her, "Yes!" "We will n o w marry each other, but we need a mullah to bless our vows. G o to that palm tree in the garden, and say to it,

Daraka, banta ruhta daraka Wara Tar Aswar I'Ahmad maraka!' In Kurdish, this means: " O palm tree! Come and betroth Tar Aswar and Ahmad!" "When y o u have said that, the tree will turn into a mullah w h o will come and perform the rites of espousal. But be careful not to stretch y o u r hand to pluck anything f r o m the tree!" A h m a d went into the garden and approached the tree, but when he looked at it, he saw that it was covered with fruit, not of one kind only, but of every kind and species. H e saw an apple, and he stretched out his hand and t o o k it and slipped it into his b o s o m . Then he said,

Daraka, banta ruhta daraka Wara Tar Aswar I Ahmad maraka! But nothing happened. H e returned to T a r Aswar, w h o said to him, "Where is the mullah?" A h m a d replied, " N o mullah came forth f r o m the tree." T a r A s w a r cried, " D o y o u play the serpent with me, and lie to me? Is there not an apple concealed in your b o s o m ? " F o r she knew by her magic arts what had happened. " G o a second time, and this time, do not stretch out y o u hand to pluck anything f r o m the tree." A h m a d returned to the palm tree, but this time, together with the most luscious fruits, there were flowers of overpowering sweetness and beauty. H e plucked one of them and put it in his b o s o m , and then he said,

Daraka banta ruhta daraka Wara Tar Aswar I Ahmad maraka\ But the palm tree remained unchanged. H e returned t o T a r Aswar, w h o said t o him, "Where is the mullah?" H e said, "There was n o mullah\" She said, " N o w y o u are indeed a serpent! W h y did y o u pluck that flower which is in y o u r bosom? G o once more, and if y o u pluck anything f r o m the tree this time, y o u will die, and never see me anymore!" A h m a d went the third time, but he restrained his longing, and did not stretch out his hand t o the tree, but said,



Daraka banta ruhta daraka Wara Tar Aswar I'Ahmad maraka\ And the palm tree turned into a mullah and came with him, and pronounced the words of betrothal over them both. Then, Tar Aswar was the bride of Ahmad! There were musicians and dancers and gurgia, and forty gurgia (entertainers) danced, and there was cinema and teatro, and every kind of amusement, drums, flutes, orchestras, and every kind of music! So Tar Aswar and Ahmad were married, and remained in the castle, and the memory of his uncle's daughter disappeared from his mind, so happy was he with Tar Aswar. They passed the time in fond dalliance, and by day they rode together to the chase, and when they returned, they amused each other in the castle. In this way, Ahmad forgot his father's house and his country. In the castle, there were many curious and wonderful things. Tar Aswar gave Ahmad forty keys, and said to him, "Go freely into each room, and see what your eye sees, only do not unlock or enter the fortieth room!" Ahmad opened one room, and saw that it was full of diamonds; another room was full of pearls, another of corals, another of shawa,17 another of amber, and others were full of things such as rain, and snow and hail. Many rare things were in these rooms. But the fortieth room was not permitted for him to open. Ahmad said to her, "What rare jewel does this room contain, since I may not see it?" Then he gave back the key to it into Tar Aswar's hand. At about five in the night these two slept, embracing each other, their arms about each other's necks, lip to lip, when Ahmad woke, and put his hand—pilfering-like—into Tar Aswar's pocket. The key was there, and he rose and left her, and went down to the fortieth room, and opened it. Within it, he saw many slippers, all made of single emeralds. He seized one pair, and put them in his bosom, and returned to their chamber and put the key again into Tar Aswar's pocket. As usual, they went to the chase, but the next morning Ahmad said to Tar Aswar, "O, daughter of my uncle (i.e., "my wife," as marriage between cousins 17

Uncertain meaning.



is common), today I will go to the chase alone!" She said, "Why alone?" He said, "I wish to go alone just this day." He went, and when he returned to his house at ten o'clock, he took the emerald slippers from his bosom, and gave them to Tar Aswar, saying, "This is my gift to you! While out hunting today, I met a merchant, who sold them to me for a thousand liras." Then Tar Aswar bit on her finger and said, "What have you done? Why did you give the key back to me and then steal it! These shoes came from no merchant, for their like is not to be bought with money in any market in the world. Now you and I will be parted, and you will be killed, for this is the fate you have brought upon us!" Ahmad said, "O my wife, who can come between us and part us, or who can kill me? Only God can sever the two of us, and only God can kill me, for here we are safe. Wear the slippers for my sake." Tar Aswar loved Ahmad and put on the slippers, but two days later Ahmad saw that Tar Aswar had laid the slippers aside in the corner. Then he was angry, and forced his wife to put them on again. The castle was near a river, and one day soon afterwards, when the ground was slippery after rain, Tar Aswar fell as she was walking by the river, and the shoe fell into the water and was carried away. She began to weep, " W a k h \ Ahmad is no longer mine {rah min idi)." Ahmad returned and saw her in tears, and said, "Why are you weeping?" She told him that this presaged misfortune, since the shoe had fallen into the river, and feared that they would be parted. Ahmad said, "Is there no ransom ifedwa makti) (i.e., are there no means of averting misfortune)? The fellow to the shoe that is lost does not weep, so why do you weep? Had the shoe that remained wept, then indeed we might be parted!" So. Now it happened that the son of Sultan Kakanichin sent one day a diver to dive to the bottom of the sea and take a handful from the sea-floor to see his fate in it. The diver dived, and into his hand came the emerald shoe of Tar Aswar. He brought it to the son of Sultan Kakanichin and said, "This is your fate!" The prince had no sooner looked at the shoe than he became lovesick, and cried, "If the shoe is so beautiful, what can its wearer be like? Let my father die, and my mother also—only let me behold and possess the owner of this shoe!"



His parents saw his state of mind, and his mother said, "O my son, how can the owner of this shoe be found? God only knows who she may be!" The prince replied, "If you do not bring her to me and wed her to me, I shall take a knife and plunge it into my breast!" Then the Sultan arose and called a crier, and told him to proclaim, "To the person who can find and bring here the owner of this shoe, the Sultan will give seven times his weight in gold!" An old woman, a witch, came to the Sultan, and said to him, "My master the Sultan, I will go and bring the owner of the shoe. Give me an airplane, and I will go in it and will bring her." They went and they brought her an airplane. But it was not an airplane like they have now, but was shaped like a small room. A person sat in it and turned a screw one way and it rose in the air and flew, and if they turned the screw the other way, it descended again. This they had in the olden times, and it was called a charku felk (flying wheel). The old woman put on green clothes, and took a green rosary in her hand as if she were a darwish. She took with her in her pockets bitter-sweet kustinana (a fruit), jams, sweets, and so on, and also in some of them she put benj (henbane). Then she got into the flying ark, and turned the screw and it flew into the air, and off she went, Di, didi-i! Hr-r-r-r-r-r! At last she came, that old witch, into the garden of Tar Aswar. Ahmad and Tar Aswar had gone to the chase, and so she seated herself at the wayside, on the road where they returned, and began to tell her beads: "Allah! Allah! Allah! Allah!" Ahmad and Tar Aswar came by, and Ahmad said, "Look! There is an old woman by the road. O my aunt, old woman! What are you doing here?" The witch answered, "I have made the pilgrimage to Mecca seven times, and now the caravan with which I was traveling has forsaken me and I am alone. Bakht Allah wa bakhtakl (May God's good fortune rest on you!) I am without food; I have nothing! Help me! (Sowwiniferd char a!)" Tar Aswar said, "Kill her! Kill her!" Ahmad answered, "Ya zakh\ (O, injustice!) Why should I kill her? She is miserable and old! Let us give her food, and clothe her and let her come into the castle and sweep the house a little!"



Tar Aswar said, "She will be our Azrael (the angel of death)—she will bring death into the house." Ahmad said, " O , daughter of my uncle, she is of the race of Adam, and it would be a sin to treat her ill. Let her come into the house!" Tar Aswar replied, "As you will!" For she loved Ahmad. They took her to the house, and the old woman washed, and swept and dusted and cooked, and made beds, and made herself very useful around the place. Ahmad said, "There! Did I not tell you the old woman would be useful to us?" The next day they went again to the chase, leaving the old woman alone in the house. At night they returned, and went to their chamber. The old woman's bedding was laid at the foot of their own bed. They ate in their room, and they said to the old woman, "Come, eat with us!" She replied, "I am your slave! I eat my own food that I brought with me from Mecca. It is blessed, and because I eat it I am never ill." They said to her, "Give us a little of this food, O old woman!" She handed them each a morsel, and as soon as Ahmad had put it into his mouth, he fell like one dead. Tar Aswar saw it, and arose, crying, "Now, old woman, you shall die! I shall cut your throat with this knife!" The old woman cried, " D o not kill me, for I can tell you how to cure him! Go into the garden, and you will find grass growing by the fountain. Strew this upon your husband and he will arise again and become as he was." So Tar Aswar rose and went out quickly into the garden and plucked grass. As soon as she had gone out, the old woman came to Ahmad, and seized a knife and cut open his throat so that he died. Then she came to Tar Aswar in the garden, as she was plucking the grass, where the witch had placed the flying ark. Tar Aswar cried, "What is this?" The old woman said, "This flies in the air. Get in and I will show you how it works!" Tar Aswar got in, and the witch sprang in after her, and turned the screw and the ark flew away into the air. In this way they were parted, Tar Aswar borne off in the ark, and Ahmad lay slain in the house! Meanwhile, in Ahmad's house, the twig they had planted—a young palm tree, which had flourished and been green till that moment—drooped and became dry. When his wife saw this, she was



grieved, and went to a smith and ordered seven pairs of iron shoes to be made. When they were ready, she put on the dress of a darwish, and one pair of the iron shoes on her feet, and took the other six with her, and left her house and city and went in search of her husband. She came to a country, and asked in every place and of everyone she met, "Did you see my husband, Ahmad? His appearance was so and so, and his height so, and his beauty so!" And she described him to them, saying, "Did he travel by this road? Did you see him as he went?" But those she asked always replied, "We did not see him." She traveled in this way for forty days, visiting new places daily, and asking, asking, asking, and then she went to another country and did the same there. So she wandered from country to country, and asking, asking, but nobody could give her tidings of Ahmad. At last, by the favor of Allah, she reached the garden of Tar Aswar. She was hungry, thirsty, unlucky (kalqan), and tired, and had no food left, and was wearing her last pair of iron shoes, for she had worn out the other six pairs. But she still had some rubies, and diamonds, and emeralds in her pocket, for was she not a king's daughter! She went into the garden, and came to the fountain and drank of its water, and ate some of the fruit from the trees, and rested. Then she said to herself, "WallahI (By God!) I must rise quickly and search!" She passed through the garden and came upon a castle, built of gold and silver, one brick of gold and the other of silver. She was amazed and cried, "Wakhl (Oh!) Can there be people in this castle?" Then she entered it, but saw no one. It was empty, except for the birds and animals that had taken refuge in it and wandered about inside. Of these there were plenty, but there were no people, not one was to be seen. She went up forty steps to the upper story, and entered a room there, and saw a bedstead all bejewelled with precious stone, and a sleeper upon it. The princess said, " Wallah! I must uncover the face of this person, to see if he is human, or a deyu, or a fairy child!" She uncovered his face, and she beheld Ahmad, her husband, but dead and with his throat cut! She began to tear her face with her nails, and to beat her breast and to weep. Now his body had remained there for seven years, and had not decomposed, but had become dry, like wood. She wept night and day, and for three days and three nights she neither ate nor drank. She



prayed to her Lord, "O Lord! For your sake, I became a darwishl You are the cause of my weeping! It was because of you that I required my husband to bring me Tar Aswar, and the reason of our parting! Either revive him, or kill me!" When she was done praying, two birds flew and sat on the castle roof, and one said to the other, "O my sister! Master Ahmad is slain! Do you know who slew him?" The other replied, "My sister, a witch slew him!" The first bird said, "O my sister, if only his wife knew! Grass grows by the fountain, and were she to pluck some, and pound it and put it on the dead man's neck, he would revive." The second answered, "Yes, my sister! But she is of the children of Adam, and how could she understand our speech?" The first said, "Come, kill me in her presence, and then bring the grass and pound it, and revivify me before her eyes, so that she may see and understand!" Then they flew before her, and one bird killed the other. Then it flew off and brought back grass in its beak, and pounded it with a stone, and laid it on the throat of the dead bird, which immediately became well again. Ahmad's wife saw all this, and understood, and went and plucked the grass, and pounded it, and placed it on Ahmad's throat and face, and bound it with a kerchief. Then, wearied out, she fell asleep. After three hours, Ahmad sneezed and rose, alive and well. He gazed, and saw his wife lying asleep beside him, while Tar Aswar was not to be seen. He roused his wife and cried to her, "What is this? A dream? Where is Tar Aswar?" She answered, "O absent one! May God's fortune be upon you! What are you saying? We have mourned you as dead! Your father and mother are beside themselves with grief and woe! We have wept for you and lamented you! What does Tar Aswar matter? Come, let us return quickly to your house and to your people!" Ahmad answered, "Where is my wife? Where is Tar Aswar? I must search for her and cannot rest until I have found her!" And he rose to depart. His uncle's daughter said, "Do not leave me here, I beg you, for I would be frightened to remain here alone in an empty house, only inhabited by wild beasts and evil creatures!" Ahmad said to her, "Do not



be afraid! You will find food and drink here, and I will give you the keys to the forty rooms of the house. You can come to no harm." He delivered the keys of the house into her hand, and then dressed himself like a darwish and went out from the castle into the world again. He went, and he purchased a tambourine and slung it on his shoulder and went forth afoot. He searched, and he searched and he searched until another seven years had gone by. The he came to the country of Kakanichin. He reached the chief city about twelve in the daytime, and asked, "Where is there a guest room? Do you have no place for the reception of strangers? By Allah, I am your guest!" Then he knocked on a door, and when it was opened to him, whom should he see, by the decree of God, but the very old woman who had slain him! He recognized her at once, and she cried, "Can this be Ahmad, whom I slew with my own hand?" He said, "Yes, old woman, I am Ahmad. Did you kill me? May God's fortune be your fortune! You killed me, but by the mercy of God I am living again. Do me a favor! Lead me to Tar Aswar!" The old woman came to him and kissed him and embraced him and turned him around him like a sheep. "You are Ahmad!" Then she took him to the bath, and washed him, and adorned him and shaved him and put on him the dress of a girl. In this way, she disguised him as her daughter. They returned together to her house, and when people saw them and asked her, "Who is that?" she replied, "My daughter!" In a woman's dress Ahmad appeared more beautiful than ever! His beauty was such that all who beheld his face could neither eat nor drink but were stricken by his loveliness. So exquisite was his beauty! The old woman went and got some food and cooked it. She made towikh (sauce), and. pilau (a rice dish), and they ate and drank. The old woman said, "Ahmad!" He replied, "Yes!" She said, "Rise quickly. I will take you to Tar Aswar!" Now they had no permission to go to the palace where Tar Aswar lived in the crystal room. Tar Aswar had never permitted the prince into her presence, exclaiming, "O, cruel fate! Ahmad has been taken from me! How could I take another?" And she remained within her crystal room, and mourned.



The old woman went to the palace and asked for permission to see Tar Aswar in her crystal room. They said, "Who are you?" She said, "I am the old woman who brought her here, and this is my daughter, who has come from the south. I wish to take her to see Tar Aswar." They went to the Sultan, and said to him, "Eyh, King, the old woman who brought Tar Aswar here want to take her daughter to see her. Do you permit this?" The Sultan answered, "I give permission. Let her take her daughter to the crystal room." Then they went, and when Tar Aswar learned who had come, she opened the room, and they looked at one another and then rushed together and kissed and embraced, crying, "I testify that there is only one God, and He is the Merciful!" The old woman returned to her house, but those two remained mouth to mouth, cheek to cheek, arms around each other, together on the bedstead, and the seven days and seven nights that went by seemed to them one moment! They were like those lovers who, embracing, did not know that grain had been sown, and that grain had been grown, and that grain had been garnered, and thought that they had kissed only an instant! So fervent was their love! When they a rose, Tar Aswar said, "Ahmad!" And Ahmad said, "Yes!" Tar Aswar said, "I will now write to the Sultan and say, 'Seven years have passed since I came, and now the time has come for me to accept your son!'" So it was done, and how the Sultan and his people rejoiced when the letter reached them and was read! As for Tar Aswar, she said to her husband Ahmad, "Go, and ask the Sultan if you can become his coffee-maker!" Ahmad said, "O wife, that would be unworthy of me! I, the son of a Sultan, to be the coffeemaker to a Sultan! It would be an indignity!" Tar Aswar said, "Never mind that. You are performing God's work, not man's work!" Ahmad said, "But what then?" Tar Aswar replied, "The night of the Dakhala (i.e., the wedding night) gives me the opportunity of riding beside you as I go to the bridegroom's house, I on the right and you on the left! We will make war on these people!" Ahmad rose quickly and went to the council-chamber of the Sultan, where the Sultan was sitting in state with all his ministers and his



people. Then he stood before him and saluted him—thus! The Sultan saw him and when he beheld his loveliness and his ravishing beauty, he felt as if he could eat him! At once, he loved him! He said to Ahmad, "What do you need?" Ahmad replied, "I wish to become your coffee-maker." The Sultan replied, "Who are you, and where do you come from?" Ahmad said, "I am a foreigner. I have no one here as a friend." The Sultan said, "My son, it would be a shame for such a one as you to become my coffee-maker! You shall be my minister." So he made Ahmad his minister, and they took him to the bath, and brought clothes suitable for his position, and washed him and shaved him and adorned him, and brought him back to the council chamber, and he was bid to sit beside the Sultan. The Sultan said, "My son, where did you come from, and where are you going?" Ahmad said, "I am a son of the Sultan of Mahgrib, and I was traveling to the Sultan of Mashriq and on the road I fell in with robbers who took my mare and stole my clothes. I am a foreigner and know no one, so they advised me, saying, 'Why not ask the Sultan to make you his coffee-maker?' So I came here, and—may God prolong your life and preserve your soul!—you took me and made me your minister. The Sultan rose and exclaimed, "My son!" And he kissed him on both cheeks, saying, "Why did you not tell me this before? I am under the hand of your father, the Sultan of Mahgrib! I will give your soldiers, and have music and drums brought to welcome you and honor you. Have you no wife, my son? Are you unmarried?" Ahmad replied, "No, I am not married." The Sultan said, "My son, I have a daughter, and she shall be my gift to you. If, when you have beheld her, you do not care to possess her, it shall be as you will, but if you want her, I will bestow her on you." Ahmad kissed the Sultan's hand and said, "My uncle, I am grateful to you!" The Sultan said, "Come with me, my son, and we will go to my house." He rose, and the ministers and courtiers rose, saying, "O, our Sultan, which way?" He replied, "I am going to my house, and my minister is accompanying me."



Then the Sultan mounted his mare, and Ahmad mounted another, and the forty ministers of the suite followed him, and they went to the Sultan's palace. There the Sultan telephoned his wife and in her quarters and said, "Do you accept that I visit you and bring a guest with me—a guest whom I dearly love?" Then the wife made ready, and told her head servant, who set the other sixty-five servants to work. Carpets and couches, and cushioned places were spread and prepared, with hangings and coverings of silk embroidered with precious stones, with a throne for the Sultan and a crown beside it. Then the queen put on her clothes that she had worn on her wedding night, and she made her daughter put on the robes of a bride also, and all were ready. The Sultan entered, and Ahmad at the head of the forty ministers. Ahmad came before the queen and said, "Peace be upon you!" A chair was brought, adorned with diamonds and rubies and emeralds, and the Sultan said to Ahmad, "Deign to sit, my heart!" Then the Sultan said to Ahmad, "Master Ahmad!" Ahmad replied, "Yes!" Then the Sultan said to him, in verse, O my beloved! Light of my eyes! My heart burns for you, and turns for you, Rest my heart and still my weeping, If you do not, I must enter the tomb, And so lie forever at your feet!

Then the coffee maker approached with coffee. Ahmad drank it, and when he returned the cup to the coffee maker, he put his hand into his bosom and drew out three pearls of such size and luster that they gave light for a distance as from here to Muadhem,18 and each one was the size of a hen's egg. These he placed in the cup as a gift to the coffee maker. When the coffee maker beheld the three jewels in the cup, he rejoiced with exceedingly great joy and cast his eyes to Allah in thanks. And, as for the Sultan, when he saw that Ahmad gave three such pearls as bakshish (gift) to a coffee maker, he was delighted. He sent a messenger to whisper in the queen's ear, "Ahmad has given the


A suburb of Baghdad.



coffee maker three pearls of more value than all those in my treasury or in my house. Indeed, they are worth more than my kingdom!" When they had drunk tea and coffee and smoked water pipes together, food was brought and set before the Sultan and his guest, and after they had eaten, they brought a ewer, basin, soap and towel so that they might wash their hands. After that, the Sultan sent for his daughter, and they brought her in, wearing bridal array and jewels. Ahmad looked at her and saw that she was fair and comely. The Sultan said, "This is my daughter. If you desire her, take her; and if not—as you please!" Ahmad said, "I will take her." And they brought a qadi (judge), and betrothed them one to the other. After that, they returned to the Sultan's own house with music and drums. The Sultan sat on his throne and Ahmad beside him. For forty days and forty nights they made music and rejoicings, and gave drink to the thirsty and food to the hungry. They played the big drum and they played the cither, for the night of the nuptials of Tar Aswar to the Sultan's son was near also, so that the rejoicings were double—for the betrothal of Ahmad and for the marriage of Tar Aswar to the Sultan's son. Then Ahmad went secretly to Tar Aswar and said, "What is your idea? What is your plan? The night of your nuptials has arrived, and what can I do? What escape is there for you and me?" The bridal procession was at the door, and they took Tar Aswar down, and put he on her mare. She said to Ahmad, "Ahmad! I on the right and you on the left!" Now there was an escort of two hundred thousand soldiers. Ahmad and Tar Aswar set upon them suddenly and killed them all—all the guards of the king, every one! At the hour of twelve it was finished, and they were free. Ahmad went to the house of the witch, the old woman, and said to her, "My mother, old woman! Did you not kill me, and God raised me to life again! I have taken my due here and I am going to leave the country and return to my people." Then he went and fetched his bride, the daughter of the Sultan, and Tar Aswar, and when the three of them were ready on horseback to set off on the journey, the old woman said to Ahmad, "You are my son! I will come with you also!"



So Ahmad put the old woman behind him on his mare and they set out and rode toward the castle of Tar Aswar. On the way there were two mountains, and the road passed between them. When they were passing by this place, Tar Aswar cried, "Ahmad!" And Ahmad replied, "Yes!" Tar Aswar said, "Seize the old woman's leg!" Ahmad seized it. Then Tar Aswar seized the other, and the old woman was torn in two. Tar Aswar threw one half of her on one mountain and the other half on the other mountain. In this way Tar Aswar was avenged for the slaying of Ahmad. Then they reached the garden and castle of Tar Aswar, and Ahmad found his uncle's daughter there. Tar Aswar said, "Who is this?" And Ahmad told her, "This is my uncle's daughter, to whom I am married." Then the three embraced each another, for Ahmad now had four wives: the wife he had left in his father's house, and his cousin, and Tar Aswar, and the Sultan's daughter. After a little, his cousin said to Ahmad, "O, son of my uncle! These seven years I have had to remain here alone and husbandless. Come, let us return to our home, for our parents will die of their grief. Your head be the ransom!" Then Ahmad rose and told Tar Aswar what his cousin had said, asking her, "Will you come with us?" Tar Aswar said, "Gladly, and blessing upon you! Only have patience for forty day's more, so that I may make my heart consent." Ahmad was patient and waited forty days, and at the end of these, Tar Aswar stamped on the ground, and forty deywat (demons) appeared. They said, " Ya Sultanem! Utlub u temenna! (O Ruler! Ask, and desire!)" Tar Aswar said, "My desire and request is this. Remove my garden and my castle with its fountains, and take them and place them near the house of my husband, Ahmad!" Then the forty deywat lifted the house in one moment, and flew with it and set it down in the city of Ahmad. This was at six at night, and a muezzin, seeing the light, thought that the day had come and went up to call for prayer. No sooner had he called than the light dazzled him so much that he fell from the minaret and broke his neck. The Sultan, hearing the call to prayer, rose, and found that it was still dark. He rose and sent for the mullah, and said to him, "O mullahl Why was prayer called? It is six at night!"



The mullah replied, "My master, we thought it was day, for there was a shining that illuminated the sky. Look! See! A castle has appeared in the town which sheds light, for one brick is of silver and the other of gold, and it is full of the light of pearls!" The Sultan went and gazed outside, and he began to tremble and shake. But when Ahmad had come, he wrote a letter to his uncle, saying, "My uncle! May the help of Allah be your help! I am your brother's son, and have come here with your daughter!" The Sultan was overjoyed. For forty days and forty nights they gave mai lil atshan, zad lil ju an (water to the thirsty; provision to the hungry). And they celebrated the return of Ahmad and his wives with every kind of festivity. The Sultan kissed Ahmad, and his daughter, and Ahmad's parents kissed their daughters-in-law. Finally, the Sultan said to Ahmad, "I shall bestow my kingdom upon you! I will become a minister, under your hand!" And may you live! I have seven little apples and will divide them: four to you, one to the coffee maker, one to Heskeyl, and one to your husband!


There was once a rich merchant of Stambul (Istanbul), and he used to send every night for a woman to sleep with him, for he was very rich. Each night they brought him a fresh one from the streets. He said to each in turn, "You, bi ey haja jiti andi? (Why did they send you here to me?)" One said, "I went to visit at my uncle's house, and so I had an opportunity to come to you." He wrote down what she said in a notebook. Another night he asked another, "You, why did they send you here to me?" She replied, "I was coming from my sister's house, and came to yours." He wrote down her words in is notebook. He asked a third, and she replied, "I was on the road from my uncle's." And so it was each night. One said she had been visiting an aunt, another a cousin, another a mother, and so on. He wrote their words down in his notebook, until he had a list of replies this long! (The narrator extended her arms). So! Then the merchant said to himself, "My money is all going to these women! It would be better if I were to take a girl of good family and marry her. It would be better!" He sent to a house of a respectable family and asked them for their daughter. The betrothal was made, and the contract drawn up, and she came to his house as a bride. When he went to his office in the morning, he locked the door of the house after him, for he had done many bad things himself, and he thought that all women were bad, like those whose company he had kept. For three or four months it was like that, and the girl had never been outside the door of the house. One day she said to her husband, "Oh, my husband! May Allah keep you! I want to go and see my people! I have not seen them for a long time!" He said to her, "Wait!" And he brought his notebook, and looked in it. Then he said, "You cannot go." She was silent. What could she do? 377



But at the end of another month she said to him, "Oh, my husband, I want to go and see my people! Give me permission." He went and he looked in his notebook and said, "You may not go." She said to herself, "I must look in this notebook, and see what he has written there!" When he had gone, she went and looked in the notebook, and when she read what was written there, she understood and said, "Oh! This is the reason why he forbids me to visit my relatives! This is why he keeps me locked up!" She said to herself, "These must be women he has known, and because he thinks all women are alike, he treats me in this way and will not let me go out. Patience! I will contrive to change his mind." When her husband went the next day to his office, she took out a window from its frame, and, looking out into the street, she saw a father-of-fish (a fish-seller) selling a quantity of sardines in a basket. She called to him. "Father-of-fish!" He said, "Yes, lady!" "For how much do you sell those fish?" "For so-and-so much." She threw down the money to him, and with it one end of a rope, so that she could draw the basket up into the room. That evening when her husband came back as always, and had supper, he prayed and slept. When he was asleep, she rose, and took the sardines and strewed them all over the courtyard, on the roof, on the terrace, everywhere. Then she went to wake her husband, and said to him, "Look! It has rained small fish on us!" He went out, and gazed, and said, "Yes, in truth, oh woman! What a strange thing! H o w could it be?" She said, " G o out, and inquire at the coffee-house next door if it has rained fish there, too. Go and see." He said, "Yes, I will go out and look." He opened the door, and went to the coffee-house beside their house and said to the people there, "Has it rained fish here?" They answered, "No! W h y should it?" He replied, "It has rained fish in our house! Come and see!" They rose and went with him, but she, as soon as her husband had left the house, had collected all the fish, every one, and put them back in the basket and hidden them.



They came and looked, and said, "Where are the fish? You are mad!" He said, "No, but it rained fish, and just now, they were strewn all over the house!" She said to the people, "My husband is crazy, his understanding has strayed." They took him off to the madhouse and clapped their hands at him, crying, "Mad! Mad!" The doctor came, and asked them, "What is the matter with this man?" They told him, and the doctor took him and asked him, "Why have you come here?" He said, "They brought me here, because it rained fish in our house, and I brought the neighbors to see. When we returned, the fish had gone, and they thought I lied, but it was so! There were fish!" The doctor returned and told those who had brought him, "Akiluh la'ab\ His wits are wandering!" Every day the doctor came to see him and asked him the same question, and he always made the same reply. After fifteen days his wife said, "I will go to visit my husband." She took the road and went to the asylum. She asked to see him, and they took her to the doctor. She asked if her husband was better, and the doctor said, "He is fairly well, but is still confused in his mind, for he persists in saying that it rained fish." She went in to see her husband, and said to him, "O, my husband! How is it going with you? Are you better? Has your mind returned to you? I am lonely without you!" He said, "I am well, but they will not give me permission to leave this place." She said, "My husband, I will give you some advice! When the doctor asks you why you came to this hospital, say to him, 'My head was aching.' But don't mention fish! Let not the word fish leave your lips!" He said, "Good." She said, "If you are careful to obey my words, he will give you permission to return." She went to her house, and a week went by. The doctor came to see him, and asked him, "Why are you here?" He replied, "For no reason! My head was aching a little, and they brought me here." The doctor saw that he was reasonable, and left him. He continued to ask him every day, and always received the same answer.



The doctor said, "Praise be to Allah! His reason has returned! F o r eight days he has mentioned no fish!" He sent for the wife, and she rose and came to the hospital. She asked the doctor, "How is he?" He replied, "He has not mentioned fish for eight days! He is cured!" She said, " D o you permit me to take him back?" The doctor said, "Yes." When she got home, she cooked a meal for her husband, and in the center of the rice she put one small sardine. Her husband returned to the house, and took a bath, and washed his head and changed his clothes. She said to him, "Will you not eat?" And she set the table, and put on it the food that she had prepared. He ate but when he came to the pilau (rice dish), and put his spoon into the rice, at the second spoonful, he saw the head of a small fish! He cried out, "Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate!" She said, "What is it, O , my husband?" He was afraid to tell her, for he feared to mention the word fish. She said, to him, "If you were to see five sardines, would you say that each one is exactly alike?" He said, "How? What do you mean?" She said, "Think! Is that sardine in the rice like the sardines you saw in the house before you went to the madhouse?" He said, "No! No!" Then she told him all that she had done, and she fetched the notebook and placed it before him, saying, "I am the daughter of respectable people! And these were whores! Are sardines all alike? Are women all alike?" He said, "Mercy, mercy! I am in your protection! In the future, you may visit your relatives as often as you wish!"

8 THE COPPERSMITH AND THE JINNI There was once a coppersmith who wished to enjoy the feast-day, but he had little money and had much work in hand and no assistant, for he was only a poor coppersmith and had no great skill. There appeared to him a jinn, who said, "Go and enjoy yourself! It is a feast-day! We will do your work for you." He went, and when he came back the next day he found all his work beautifully performed, and instead of being copper, all that had been made was of pure gold. He sold a piece or two in the bazaar and obtained much money. Seeing that the jinn had appeared to him out of an empty shop, which happened to be next to his own, he resolved to stay in his shop after dark and watch the next shop through a hole in the wall. When the other shopkeepers had locked up their shops and gone home, he remained to spy, and soon saw a light in the empty shop. When he looked, he saw a jinn working there, and making the most beautiful things. Then he heard one jinn say to another, "Where is the kich mat boraq?"19 The other said, "I have none; I must go to Damascus for »

one. At that moment the copper smith who was peeping through the wall, could not contain himself but called out, "There is no need to go to Damascus! I can lend you a kichl" Then the jinn disappeared, and all the gold in the copper smith's shop became copper again.


This refers either to a whitening substance, used for tinning the inside of copper pots, or to the wad of cotton used to rub the substance on the pot. 381

9 THE STORY OF THE AVARICIOUS M A N Told by Habza Khanum, March 1931. There was—and was not—a man, a merchant, who was very avaricious. Every morning he broke his fast by eating a single pea. At midday he ate another pea, and at sunset, another. This was his only nourishment. He had one black servant who lived like his master. One day, the merchant wished to get married, so he went to the house of a poor old woman, mother of three daughters, who lived by spinning wool which they sold in the suq, and asked her, "Do you have a daughter to give me in marriage?" She gave him her eldest daughter, the marriage contract was made, and on the appointed day, the bride went to her husband's house, but no invitations were given out, and there was no feast or rejoicing. The morning after the wedding, he gave her a single pea, as he wished to make her like himself. She said to him, "O Arabi, I am dying of hunger! It would have been better for me had I remained in my father's house!" At the end of seven days she wanted to go to the bath and went to her husband, saying, "O my husband, give me some money, for I wish to go to the hammam." He put his hand in his pocket and gave her one halfpenny and said, "Bring me a farthing in change." Then he gave her a golden bowl, and she took her things and went to the hammam. When the bath women saw her, they gave her a good reception, as is usual with brides, and made halhala (joy cries) and took her and washed her head. When she had finished, she came out, and put on her clothes, and, taking her halfpenny from her pocket she gave it to the bath keeper, saying, "Give me a farthing in change." The bath keeper began to beat her, and they took her golden bowl from her. She went back weeping, not because of the beating, but because she was afraid that her husband would be angry. The merchant, her husband, came back from the suq and said, "O woman, where is the farthing?" She replied, "What is a farthing! They have taken the 383



golden bowl from me." He said to her, "You are no longer my wife!" And he took her to a room, unlocked it, and brought a nail and nailed her to the ceiling by the nipple of her breast, and locked the door. Then he went to the old woman again, and said, "Your eldest daughter was not a good woman. Give me your middle daughter." She gave him her second daughter, and the marriage contract was made, and on the appointed day the bride went to her husband's house. It was with her as it was with her sister: they only gave her three peas each day to eat, and at the end of seven days she went to her husband and asked for money for the bath. He gave her a halfpenny and said to her, "Give me a farthing in change." She took another golden bowl from him and went to the bath. When they saw the bride, the bath women gave her a good reception, and began to make joy-cries. When they had washed her head and the masseuse had finished with her, and she had washed and put on her clothes, she gave them a halfpenny and said, "Give me a farthing in change." They beat her also, and seized her golden bowl. The merchant returned from the suq at sunset, and said to her, "O woman, where is the farthing?" She replied, "What is a farthing? They took the golden bowl from me!" He said, "You, too, shall not be a wife of mine anymore!" And he took her, and nailed her by the nipple of her breast to the ceiling and left her there with her dead sister. Then he went to the old woman again and said, "Give me the youngest girl as wife." The old woman did not ask after the fate of her elder daughters, for they were so poor that she was glad to be rid of them. They made the marriage contract, and the bride went to her husband, but she was more clever than her sisters. The next morning she woke and saw a locked room with a big lock. When her husband had gone to the suq, she went to her neighbors and borrowed some money from them. Then she went to a shop and bought a large key for a rupee. As soon as she returned with it, she unlocked the door with the key, and saw that the room was full of gold liras, millions of gold liras! She brought a bath basin, filled it with liras, came out, and locked the door behind her. Then she took the key and unlocked the room next to it, and there she saw her two dead sisters, nailed by their breasts to the ceiling, and other women with them, also nailed to the ceiling, for



he had treated many woman in the same manner. She was very afraid, and went out, locking the door behind her. After seven days, she went to her husband and said, "O, my husband, I am going to the bath; give me money." He gave her a halfpenny, and said, "Bring me a farthing's change." He also gave her a golden bowl. She said, "Good." She went to the bath, and the bath women gave her a good reception, and uttered cries of joy. They washed her head, and washed her, and when all was finished, and she had put on her clothes, she took out a bag of gold, and gave five liras to the bath keeper and five to the masseuse, and took away her sisters' golden bowls as well as her own. An old man was sitting near the door to the bath house as she left it, and he said to her, "Khatami 'Atini ferd annal Ferd girshl" (Lady! Give me a halfpenny, one farthing!). She gave him a farthing, and the other farthing she took back with her to her house. When it was sunset, her husband came back, and said to her, " O woman, where is the farthing?" She gave it to him, and he was delighted, very pleased. She said, "I brought back these bowls from the bath as well." He was enraptured, and said, "You shall be my wife! Because you are such an excellent woman, I will give a party in your honor." The next morning he went off to the suq, and saw a boy selling a sparrow. He called the boy and asked him, "How much is the sparrow?" The boy said, "A halfpenny." He said, "No, a farthing!" The boy said, "Good." Then the merchant took the sparrow and called a porter and said, "Porter?" He said, "Yes." He said to him, " G o to my house, and tell my wife to kill this sparrow, and to cut it in half, and to hang half of it on a nail. The other half she must cook, for I have invited all the merchants of the suq to dinner." The porter went to the merchant's house and did as he had been told. The girl took the sparrow and cut off its head. Then she cut it in half, and, giving half to the cat, she took the other and hung it on a nail. Then she took out some of the golden liras and went to the suq herself, and bought meat, oil, vegetables, chicken, rice, and everything that was lacking in the merchant's house, such as plates, napkins, bowls, drinking-cups, and so on. Then she cooked, and cleaned the house, and prepared the table, and made the house perfect. The merchant came home in the after-



noon, and saw the house and was delighted. He went into the kitchen and saw pots and pans all cooking and steaming and said to himself, "How did she manage to provide all this out of what I gave her?" The guests came, many of them, and sat down and ate their fill. The merchant was so pleased that he left them, and went to his wife and kissed her hand, saying, "You are a good woman! There is not your equal to be found!" (How she deceived him!) Then he said to her, "Where is the half sparrow?" She said, "Hung up on the nail! Go and see it!" He looked, and when he saw the half sparrow he was so pleased that he began to dance with joy. He danced and danced, and was so delighted, that he fell down and died! When they heard that their host was dead, the guests were still eating at the table, and every one drew back his hand from the food. The merchant's wife said to them, " D o not grow pale! Eat, and may it do you good! We will bury him afterwards." They ate, and when they had finished, they drank tea and coffee. Then they took him to the tomb. The girl returned to her father's house and fetched her mother. She said, "Come, look! The man is dead!" She took her, and opened the room where her sisters were nailed to the ceiling, and then she opened the next room, and showed her the gold liras. They gave money to the poor and said to them, "Come every night, and we will give you supper." She and her mother were very happy.

10 THE STORY OF THE FISHERMAN AND THE SULTAN There was once an old woman who had only one son, and he was a fisherman who let his net down into the sea and took fish and sold them in the suq. One day he cast his net into the sea and a biz (big fish) took the net. This biz was enormous (and Allah is great). It was so big that it weighed forty times the ordinary weight. The fisherman pulled and hauled until he had landed it, and it struggled on the shore. Then he drew his dagger and opened its belly. He saw something glittering within, and he took out a block of jewels, a brick composed entirely of pearls and diamonds and rubies and precious stones. The fisherman cried, " Wallah! (By God!) I am taking it to the Sultan to ask in exchange a measure of millet." The wazir said, "My son, give it to me, and I will give you a thousand liras and a measure of wheat." The fisherman replied, "Go! I will not give it to you! It is for the Sultan, and I am taking it to him!" The wazir said, "My son, why will not you give it to me?" The fisherman replied, "It is an offering suitable for the Sultan, and not for you." The wazir said, "My son, I will give you half of my possessions for it, and above that, the hand of my daughter." So said the wazir to the fisherman! But the fisherman replied, "I will not give it to you!" While the fisherman was still on the way to the palace, the wazir went quickly to the Sultan, and said to him, "O my master the Sultan, a fisherman is bringing you an ingot of jewels, and is asking a measure of millet in exchange for it." The fisherman came, and put the ingot before the Sultan. The Sultan was highly delighted and said to the boy, "My son, ask and desire! Whatever you ask for shall be yours!" The boy said, "O my master, I desire your health only (rasak tayyib)." The Sultan said, "My son, ask and desire! I wish to bestow a favor upon you and give you a present." The boy answered, "I desire your prosperity and that your life may be lengthened by God." 387



The Sultan said for the third time, "My son, speak! Tell me what you wish—wealth, position, office in the government—what?" The fisher-boy said, "My master the Sultan, bestow on me a measure of millet." The Sultan called a servant and said to him, "Take this boy to the suq and buy him a measure of millet for two coins." It was done, and the fisher-boy returned to his mother with the millet and said to her, "Take the millet to the water-mill, and get it ground, and then make bread." The old woman went to the watermill, and had the millet ground, and then took it home, and got a basin, and worked it into a dough and baked it in the oven. When it was ready, and they sat eating the bread, the old woman asked, "My son, how did you get this millet?" The boy replied, " Wallah, my mother, I found a brick of jewels in a fish, and took it to the Sultan, and asked him to give me this millet in exchange. On the road, I met the wazir." The old woman said, "My son, what did the wazir say to you?" The boy said, "He offered me half of his possessions and his daughter if I would give the treasure to him, but I would not, and took it to the Sultan in his house." The old woman said, "Why did you not let the wazir have it? A pity, for if you had, we should be wealthy now, and you would be married to the wazir's daughter!" Her son replied, "I did not give the treasure to him because it was the Sultan's luck (nesib), not his!" Then he returned to the sea, saw the same fish, seized it, and brought it to the suq to sell it. He sold it for two hundred rupees, put the money in his pocket and went home. That night the Sultan sat in his diwan (reception room) among his courtiers, ministers, servants and slaves. He said, "Ey, my ministers! Does a greater one that I exist! I have in my room an ingot of diamonds and emeralds and rubies, such as no one else in the world possesses! Only Allah is greater than I!" The wazir said, "Yes, my Sultan! Only Allah is greater than you! But such a rarity needs a castle worthy of it. It should lie in a castle built of lion's milk and ivory!" He meant that the castle should be built of ivory and the cement mixed with lion's milk. The Sultan said, "There is no such castle, and how can it be possible to have one such as you describe?" The wazir said, "The boy who



brought you the ingot could build it for you." Then the Sultan ordered a servant to go and bring the lad. They went and called the fisher-boy, who came to the diwan of the Sultan, and asked him, " O my master the Sultan, what is your command? Ask and desire!" The Sultan said, " O my son, I want from you a castle built of ivory and lion's milk." The boy replied, " O my master, does such a castle exist? It does not!" The Sultan then said, "Make me one, and if you do not succeed in building me such a castle in forty days' time, I will cut off your head! It must be perfect and faultless in forty days!" The boy went home and wept. The old woman, his mother, asked him, "Why do you weep?" "My mother, the Sultan wants from me a castle built of ivory and lioness milk, and from where can I get these materials?" She said, "My son, why weep? There is God, and God is greater than the Sultan! Your father was a friend of an elephant that lives in such-and-such a water-mill (dughraman). If you ask this elephant, he may give you his tusk." The lad (his name was Mahmud Chellabi), went and traveled seven days and seven nights until he reached the water-mill to which his mother had directed him. Sitting in the water-mill was an elephant, so big that he filled up the water-mill completely—a needle would not have passed between it and the wall. Mahmud saw that the elephant's nails had grown seven yards into the earth, and that the hair on its head was so thick that it fell like a tent over its eyes. He came and cut the nails of its hands and feet and its hair—the hair which hung over its eyes was a long as from here to Mu adhem! 20 But Mahmud cut it all off, and shaved the elephant's head. The elephant cried, " O heigh\ (Wow!) Allah! How thankful I am! O son of Adam, before your Lord, I am so grateful to you that I will give you whatever you ask!" Mahmud said, "I only wish your health!" "Child of Adam! Ask and demand! Whatever you wish in the world, I will bestow upon you! Child of man, I adjure you three times


A suburb of Baghdad.



to tell me what you will ask of me, and if you do not wish for anything, then leave!" Then Mahmud told him what the Sultan had asked of him, saying, "So-and-so, he said! May Allah's good fortune be yours! Help me in this matter, find me a way out of my difficulty, for the Sultan will cut off my head if the castle is not built within forty days!" The elephant said, "Child of Adam! God willed that I should remain here forty years without seeing the sky or sun because of my hair and feet. In all those forty years I have not heard of such a thing as that which you ask of me! Your request is a large one! My son, you have done well by me, and I will do well by you. D o not fear! I will give you ivory, but as for lioness' milk, I have none!" Mahmud said, "If I have only ivory and not lioness' milk, the Sultan will kill me!" "My son, I will tell you who will give you lioness' milk!" Mahmud said, "Tell me!" The elephant said, "Outside the door there are crossroads. T w o are named ' G o and Return,' but the third is called 'Went and Did Not Return.' Take the third, for it leads to the eagle, who will help you." The elephant wrote a letter to the eagle, sealed it and put it into Mahmud's hand. Then he cut off his tusks and gave them to Mahmud, who loaded them on his back. Mahmud took leave of the elephant and traveled and traveled until he reached the shores of a sea. Mahmud exclaimed, "What can I do now? W h o will take me to the other side of this sea?" Allah, Lord of the T w o Worlds, then caused Eliahu (Elijah) the Prophet to appear before him. The prophet said to him, "My son, what are you doing here in the desert, in the wilderness, and what is your work on sea and land?" Mahmud replied, "My master! May God's good fortune be upon you! I must cross this sea, and I do not know how I shall be able to do so. Find me a way out of this difficulty!" The saint replied, "Son of Adam, close your eyes!" Mahmud closed his eyes, and when he opened them again, lo! He was on the other side of the sea, and he could not see the old man who had stood beside him. He cried, "Was it a dream? Where is the old man



who spoke with me?" H e gazed, but there was no trace of the man he had spoken with—he was completely absent from view. Then Mahmud continued on his way, and crossed desert after desert, walked and walked and walked—ardhat hatt, ardhat shil (step-bystep)—until at last he reached a tree, a palm tree so tall that when he gazed upward to its summit, his turban fell from his head. Yes, it was tall, that tree! A thousand ram, and it rose from the earth to the heaven—it was so tall! In the palm tree he saw an eagle's nest with her brood in it, and close to them was a seven-headed serpent of immense size—as big as Allah! Each head was so enormous that it could have made a mouthful of seven men. Mahmud was afraid and said to himself," What can I do against this serpent? H e will swallow me up! O, Lord!" H e drew his sword and went to the serpent, and as Allah decreed, he cut off its seven heads with one thrust of his sword. The serpent cried, " O son of Adam! Give me another thrust of your sword, and I will give you dawa (a magic potion)!" So said the serpent—God's grace upon you! 21 —speaking craftily, for had the boy struck a second blow, the serpent would have revived. The boy therefore replied, " O serpent! My mother taught me better than that!" And he refrained from striking twice. So the serpent died. It was more than a serpent, it was an 'afrit (demon)! When the monster was dead, he divided its body into morsels and threw them up to the eagle's brood in the tree above. The eaglets ate and were satisfied, all of them. The remaining morsels they put aside for their mother, who had gone into the mountains to hunt for food. The eagle was not like other eagles, but was a simurgh.22 Meanwhile, Mahmud, being tired, slept beneath the tree and remained asleep until dawn. At that time the eagle returned from her hunting. She saw the child of Adam beneath the tree and cried, "Wakhl (Alas!) Each year for forty years I have reared a brood, and each year they are eaten. It must be this son of Adam!" With that, she seized a whole mountain in her claws in order to hurl it on the child of Adam

21 22

To mention a serpent is unlucky, therefore the invocation. A mythological bird, common in fairy tales and in Sufi traditions.



and destroy him, but before she could do so, the eaglets flew out to their mother and cried, "O our mother! Do not do this! This son of Adam killed the serpent—God's grace upon you!—and cut it into morsels which we ate, putting a portion aside for you." The simurgh had seized the mountain and held it in her claws, but now she dropped it from her hand, and Mahmud, who had been sleeping in its shade, awoke. The eagle perceived this, and spread her wings and hovered between him and the sun, for since she knew the truth, he had become dear to her. As he awoke, he saw the eagle above his head. The eagle cried to him, "Son of Adam! Ask and desire! Whatever you wish for in the wide world, it shall be yours!" Mahmud said, "O lady! I only wish for your health! I thank you!" The eagle said, "Son of Adam, ask and desire! I will give you in reward for your services whatever you ask for! But if you have no wish, then go, and Allah be with you!" Mahmud answered, "I want of you—and of Allah—some lioness' milk." The eagle said, "O son of Adam! I have reared broods for forty years, and the serpent devoured them, but you came and slew it and rid me of my enemy. I would gladly have given you jewels or gold, or precious stones! But from where can I obtain lioness' milk? I cannot give you that! Ask me anything in the world but that!" Mahmud answered, "O lady, I do not want treasure, nor rubies, nor precious stones! I want only lioness' milk. If you can help me, help me! If not, I will go on my way." The eagle replied, "Son of Adam, ride on my back!" She descended and Mahmud got on her back. She said, "Son of Adam, hold on tight, or you will fall off and die!" With that, she flew off like an airplane in the sky. She flew up and up and up. She said, "Son of Adam, what does the world look like?" Mahmud replied, "It appears before me as if it were a table." She said, "Son of Adam, cling on!" He hung on tight, and the eagle flew on. Then she said, "Ey, son of Adam, how does the world look in your eyes?" Mahmud answered her, "I see it like a mirror—like a watch! I could compass it with finger and thumb." She said to him, "Son of Adam, hold fast!" Mahmud clung on, and she flew up and up. Soon they were so near the sun that Mahmud's



neck was burnt, and he cried, " W a k h \ My neck is being scorched by the sun!" The eagle said, "Son of Adam, cling on fast!" He clung on fast, and-khr-khr-khr-khr\—sh.e flew down, down, down, and brought him to the ground. She put him on the earth, and said to him, "This is the place you want! I must go! You did well by us, and I will do well by you! This is my reward to you!" Mahmud said, " O lady Simurgh, you have landed me here, but what is there here in this country?" She replied, "Use your eyes and look! Over there is a lioness, and these forty years she has endured a dagger that ran into her foot, and could not be drawn out! Go to her, for she is sleeping and weeping, saying in her sleep, ' Wakh, will this dagger never come out of my foot!' Dig a hole just by her foot, get into it and put grass over your head, and pull at the dagger. I will put my strength into your body!" Mahmud went, and he did as the simurgh had bidden, and when he was hidden in the hole, he seized the dagger, and by the aid of the strength that the simurgh had put into his body, he was able to draw out the dagger from the lioness' foot. She gave a mighty roar and awoke. The eagle said to Mahmud, "Rise quickly! Seize her teat which hangs over her shoulder and suck her milk!" Mahmud rose and did as the simurgh had commanded, and sucked the lioness' milk. Then the eagle rose, in order to fly back to her place. The lioness had roared so loudly that her voice carried for a distance of five hundred years. At the sound, all the lions came running toward her. So many were they that a needle could not have been put among them! But the eagle, speaking from the air above Mahmud's head, said to him, " D o not fear, son of Adam! They have no power to eat you, for you have drunk the milk of their queen!" The lions said to the lioness, "Why did you summon us? We heard your voice, and came running here!" (For she was their ruler, and not only queen of lions but of all animals, for the lion is the king of beasts). They said, "Our queen! What is your command?" The queen said, "I have work for you to do!" The she said to Mahmud, "Ey, son of Adam, are you fairy, born of fairy, or human, born of human? Whatever you are, to him who pulled the dagger from my foot, I will grant his request. Let him ask what he will!"



Mahmud came and stood before her, and she said to him, "Was it you?" He answered, "Yes." She said, "Whatever you wish in the world that Allah created shall be given to you! Ask and desire!" Mahmud said, "I desire your health." She said, "Ask and desire!" Mahmud answered, "I wish your prosperity! I thank you! May the wealth of God be upon you!" The lioness said, "Son of Adam, for the third and last time, ask whatever you desire, and if you want nothing, go!" Mahmud said, "I want of you—and of Allah—some lioness' milk." The lioness answered, "You ask for our milk! You pulled the dagger from my foot after it had been tormenting me for forty years, and I would gladly have rewarded you, but the demand you have made is difficult! However, I am very grateful, and I will give it to you." She roared, and all the lions advanced to her. Now she had forty children, and among them seven lionesses. She summoned these, and then she killed two of her other children, and they skinned them, and milked the seven lionesses into lion skins. They took from the lionesses just enough milk for the castle—not more and not less. Then the lioness called her eldest son, and said to him, "Here is the son of Adam, and here is the milk. Can you take him to his country?" The lion said, "My mother, his country lies at a distance of five hundred years! H o w can I take him so far?" The lioness said, "Five hundred years! His castle must be built in forty days, and you must get him back in time to build it." The lion said, "I cannot." The she called another lion son, and said to him, "In what time will you take this son of Adam to his country?" He replied, "In five hundred days!" The lioness said, "It is too long—go!" Then she asked another, and another, and another. One said two hundred days, another one hundred days, another fifty days, another forty days, another a month, another twenty days, another fifteen days, another ten days, another five days, another three days, another two days. T o all of them the lioness said, "Go! It must be quicker!" At last she asked the last of her sons, and he had only one arm, one leg, one ear and one eye, and he said, "My mother, I will take him in a single day!" His mother replied, "Yes, take him! My son—upon



your head!—bring him in safety to his own country. When that is done, bring me back word in his own hand that he has arrived there." Then the lion said, "Child of Adam, close your eyes!" Mahmud closed his eyes and the lion flew through the air, and in one moment they arrived at the place of the simurgh. The simurgh came, and saw Mahmud and the milk, and she was very glad. She cried, "Son of Adam, give me your hand!" And she and Mahmud shook hands and kissed each other. Then the lion said, "O lady! With your permission, we must not linger here, for I am bound to take Mahmud to his place." The simurgh said, "O prince! By your permission, this is his place!" The lion answered, "Then bring paper, and write on it and seal it and I will return to my mother. Otherwise, I cannot return." The eagle said, "Why do you want this?" "My mother's orders, and if I disobey her, she will kill me!" The eagle said, "I will give you permission, and a paper to say that Mahmud has reached his country." The lion answered, "O ruler! This is still wilderness, and if I leave Mahmud here, he will die before he gets to his country. Allow me to take him to his own country, or my mother will kill me!" Then the eagle kissed Mahmud and gave her permission, and the lion continued with Mahmud—di-di-i ¡—until he had brought him to his own city. Then Mahmud wrote a word to the lioness, "Wallahl I have reached my own country in safety and peace!" He sealed it and the lion took it and returned to his mother. Now Mahmud had the milk and the ivory and was ready to begin! He called a builder, and told him to build a castle of the milk and the ivory, and to build it in forty days—no more and no less. The builder replied, "If I take less than forty days you may cut off my head!" (It was the Sultan who paid for the building). At the end of forty days it was ready, and they set the brick of jewels on a table in the middle of the castle. Mahmud went before the Sultan and wished him peace. The Sultan said, "Peace be upon you, and salvation and the blessing of Allah!" Mahmud said, "Ey, my master the Sultan, your castle is ready. Deign to enter it and dwell in it!" The Sultan rose quickly from his diwan, and went to the castle with his forty ministers, and his courtiers and servants. They brought his throne, and he sat there surrounded by his forty ministers, and his deputies and servants. Mahmud saluted him, and said, "Now that your



castle is complete and finished, I ask for permission to return home. Do not give me a present, or money!" Mahmud then went home to his mother, who said to him, "Ha! My son! Peace be upon you!" Mahmud said, "May God give you peace! My mother! Give me something to eat! The Sultan did not offer me anything to eat." Then his mother brought a little ryebread and put it before him, for the lad was hungry and thirsty, and exhausted. Meanwhile, in the palace the Sultan sat while they brought him coffee and tea and costly foods. He said, "Ey, my ministers! Does a greater one than I exist? I have reigned now for seven years, and now I have a castle made of ivory and lioness' milk and a brick of jewels in the midst. Surely there can be none wealthier and greater than I!" The ministers and courtiers answered, "Bil 'afiyal Mubarakl (May it benefit you! May it be blessed!)" But the chief wazir on the right said, "Yes, Sultan, may it be blessed! But there is an 'alas!' in it!" The Sultan said, "What is missing? Is anything missing or superfluous?" The wazir answered, "There is something missing!" The Sultan said, "What is it? Tell me quickly, or I will cut off your head!" And the ministers trembled. The wazir said, "The Fairy Queen (Shamophai Perian) must be your wife!" The Sultan asked, "Who could bring her here? Who could bring her here to marry me?" The wazir replied, "He who built this castle could bring her here." The Sultan said, "My servants! Come!" And the servants came and said, "Your order, our master the Sultan!" "Go tell Mahmud that I want him—now, quickly!" Mahmud was brought, and said, "Your orders, my master the Sultan?" The Sultan said, " Bring the Queen of the Fairies here in forty day's time, so that I may wed her. If you do not bring her, I will cut off your head!" Mahmud said, "How can I, a son of Adam, bring here the Queen of Fairies?" The Sultan said, "There is no way out! If you bring her, good! But if not, I will cut off your head!" Mahmud went home and began to weep. His mother said to him, "What! A son of Adam has been summoned to the Sultan's house and returns weeping! He should rejoice, not weep!"



Mahmud said, "I am weeping over my plight. The Sultan wants me to bring the Queen of Fairies so that he may wed her, and in forty days! The Queen of Fairies lives five hundred years' distance from here, so how can I get her in forty days?" His mother said, "My son, don't weep! Allah is merciful and powerful! He is greater than the Sultan! My son, rise, and go to the place where you went before, and ask the elephant to help you!" Mahmud rose, and packed his bag of provisions, and left his town. Before he went he and his mother kissed each other, and she said to him, "Allah knows about you iy'arefbik). The good luck of God upon you! He went—di\—desert! Ardhat hatt, ardhat shil\ And he came to the water-mill in which the elephant sat. His shape was that of an elephant, for Allah created him thus, but he was like a man and spoke like a man. Mahmud said, "Peace be upon you, my uncle!" The elephant said, "Peace and the salvation of Allah and his blessing!" Mahmud kissed the elephant's hand, and the elephant kissed Mahmud, and said to him, "What is your business here? What do you want?" Mahmud said, " Wallah, my uncle, with God's help and yours I made the castle that the Sultan asked of me, but now he has asked me to fetch the Queen of Fairies for him. I do not know where to find her, or how to get her. Help me!" The elephant said, "My son, Allah is Allah! I helped you in the matter of the ivory and the lioness' milk, but this is beyond my power and I do not know which road you should take, or which way you should go! Your shoes on my head and eyes! I don't know, and cannot tell! Go, and God help you!" Mahmud began to weep. The elephant said, "My son, why weep? God is merciful!" Mahmud said, "My uncle, I weep over my plight, for if I do not succeed, the Sultan will cut off my head." "My son, Allah is greater than the Sultan. W h y weep? Rise! Go on your way! Do not travel either to the right or to the left, but take the road which lies straight before you and walk on it!" Mahmud rose and took his leave and walked. Mesha, mesha, mesha, mesha\ (He walked and walked and walked and walked). Wilderness! Desert! Not even a bird in the sky! Just desert—ground! He went his



way seven days and seven nights and saw no living thing, neither man, nor beast, nor bird. Hich! (Too bad!) Never a thing! Then he saw that his provisions were getting eaten and his water skin empty. There were no means of buying or getting! He began to pray, "Allah, you know my condition, and I am your slave, and you are my Lord! Whether you save me or kill me, I am yours!" Then a voice from Allah spoke in his ear, and said to him, "Take this road, and if you follow it, good will result. Do not fear, for Allah has accepted you prayer!" And Allah allayed his hunger and assuaged his thirst, and gave him strength, and he walked for another seven days and seven nights. No living thing did he see—it was desert—empty! He began to cry, "Allah knows my plight! I have walked fourteen days and fourteen nights, and have seen no son of man, and no living creature! This is of Allah!" Allah heard his complaint, and sent a voice in his ear that said to him, "Close your eyes!" Mahmud closed his eyes, and when he opened them, he saw before him a castle built of forty stories, one above the other! He was delighted and exclaimed, "Okh heigh\ (Oh, good!) Allah knows this, and by his favor I have arrived at a castle!" He saw forty mills grinding grain beside the castle, and there were also forty ovens baking bread, and forty cooks cooking meat, and forty fountains spouting water. The cooks took forty measures of rice and forty baked and stuffed buffaloes, and made a pilau (rice dish) with the buffalo meat on top. They sent this, and forty loads of bread, and forty rabia (measures) of water, and took them into the castle to a deyu (monster). But the deyu complained that he was still hungry and thirsty. Mahmud saw this and he said, "Mash' Allah\ (What God wished!) The dispensation of Allah! All that bread, and. pilau, and meat and water have they put into his maw, and yet he complains of hunger and thirst! Mash'AllahV The deyu heard him, and ordered him to be brought before him, and said to him, "Well, son of Adam, why did you say 'Mash' Allah\ That they bring all this food and drink and this one is hungry and thirsty?' Say 'Mash' Allah' upon Mahmud, who built a castle of milk and ivory, and not upon me!"



Mahmud said, "If you saw Mahmud, what would you do with him?" The deyu said, "I would become his slave." Mahmud said, "Ey, deyu \ I am that Mahmud who built the castle!" The deyu said, "Are you indeed that Mahmud? Give me information (;nishan) about his achievement, and I will become your slave." Mahmud rose and recounted the whole story, and the deyu believed him and became his slave. The deyu said, "Beni Adam! (Son of Adam!) Sit down!" They brought a chair all of rubies and diamond and pearls, and Mahmud sat. They offered him food, tea, coffee, water pipe, cigarettes, and he ate and drank and was satisfied and finished. The deyu asked, "Son of Adam, what business brought you here?" Mahmud answered, "Ey, my slave, the Sultan ordered me to bring the Queen of Fairies, and Allah brought me here!" The deyu said, "Son of Adam, where are you? Where is the Queen of Fairies? Come, sit on my hand." Mahmud rose, and stood on the deyu's hand, and the deyu made him pluck three hairs from his head. Mahmud did so, and the deyu said to him, "Son of Adam, put them in your cigarette-box, and if you are in need, or the Sultan brings an army against you, strike a match and burn one of these hairs, and I will come immediately to help you." Then he said, "Son of Adam, close your eyes!" Mahmud closed his eyes, and he was borne a distance of two hundred and fifty years in a second—as if he had been shot from a cannon! When he opened his eyes, he was sitting on the ground in the desert and it was empty, there was nothing to be seen. Mahmud cried, "Wakh\ What have I brought upon myself? And what has the Sultan brought upon me? What can I do in this desert?" He rose quickly and said, " V a r e f b i n 'aleyk\ (Allah knows my case!) What shall I do?" There came a voice in his ears, sent by the Lord of the Two Worlds. It commanded Mahmud, "Do not fear! You have done well. You have traversed the two hundred and fifty years' distance between your country and this place in a short time. There remains before you a distance of yet another two hundred and fifty years." Mahmud said, "Allah knows my case! How can I, a son of Adam, perform such a journey?" The voice said, "Close your eyes." Mahmud closed them, and when he opened them the deyu stood before him, bearing an axe on his shoulders. Mahmud watched this



deyu, and he saw that with one stroke, he leveled a mountain to the ground. Mahmud cried, "Mash' Allah upon the strength of that deyu\" The deyu said, "Ey, son of Adam, why do you say 'Mash' Allah upon the strength of that deyuY Say rather 'Mash'Allah upon Mahmud, who made the castle of ivory and milk for the Sultan!'" Mahmud said, "Ey deyu, if that Mahmud was here, what would you do?" The deyu replied, "I would become his slave." Mahmud said, "I am that Mahmud." Then said the deyu, "Where does my master go, and what is his business?" Mahmud said, "I have come here in order to go to the Queen of Fairies so that I may bring her to the Sultan!" The deyu said, "Son of Adam, sit on my hand!" Mahmud sat on his hand, as if it had been a chair, and at the deyu's command, he plucked three hairs from his head, and put them in his cigarette box. The deyu said, "Take these with you to the Queen of Fairies, and if you need me, I will appear before you. Close your eyes! Mahmud closed his eyes, and in one second the deyu flew with him a distance of two hundred years. He put him on the ground, and when Mahmud opened his eyes he was alone, and the deyu was not there. Mahmud began to weep, and one came before him in the guise of a man and said to him, "Why are you weeping?" Mahmud replied, "I weep over my plight!" The man said, "Do not weep! Allah is merciful!" As he said that, a deyu appeared from the ground in the shape of a little man.23 [There are deywat that live underground. In Amrani their name is sheyle. They only have permission to come into the upper world on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and they are of all sects and religions, just like men. All deywat have a religion. And when one is possessed, a Muslim deyu attacks a Muslim, and a Christian a Christian. When the deyu attacks him, the man will go mad, but he will recover. But if a man is struck by a deyu belonging to another sect or religion, he will die. That is written in the Scriptures, and is in the hand of the prophet 23

Here comes the storyteller's long explanation about deywat.



Solomon. When a man is possessed, they take him to the sheikh, who brings a bowl of water and spreads an 'aba (cloak) upon it, and talks with the spirits in this way, "From what sect are you?" If the demon replies that he is of the same sect as the man, the sheikh says to him, "Free this man, or we will write your names on paper and burn them!" And the demons are afraid, and depart from the man. But if a Moslem deyu, for instance, strikes a Christian man or a Jew, the sheikh says to the relatives, "Go! There is no cure for him!" But, lady, if one carries a du'a (talisman), no demon can touch a man: not as much as with a finger!] (Now the story-teller resumes the story) This deyu had one hundred and fifty millstones tied to each foot, and one hundred and one hung around his neck as a rosary. But he was so swift that when he saw a gazelle, he ran like the wind and overtook it, and killed it and ate it. When Mahmud saw this, he exclaimed, "Mash' Allahl The swiftness of this demon who has millstones on his feet and neck is beyond belief!" The demon said, "Ey, son of Adam, why say 'Mash' Allah' to me! Say rather 'Mash' Allah' to Mahmud, who built the Sultan a castle of ivory and lioness' milk!" Mahmud said, "I am he!" The demon said, "I am your slave!" And he gave him three hairs from his head, saying, "If you have need of me, burn them." And he asked Mahmud his business and Mahmud told him. Then he bade Mahmud sit on his hand and shut his eyes, and flew with him a distance of fifty years, and set him down, saying, "Son of Adam, here is your destination—the Queen of Fairies lives here!" And he left. Mahmud looked, and he saw a castle on the other side of a river. The castle was forty stories high, and was built of gold and silver, one brick of gold, the other of silver. And on the near side of the bank was a minaret, and a man came from it and filled a bowl of water from the river, and set it on his head, and climbed to the top of the minaret. When he had reached the top, he danced there, and not a drop was spilt. This he did three times. Mahmud was amazed, and exclaimed, "Shlon! (How can this be?) Mash'Allahl How—God knows how!—did you contrive to climb that



minaret and dance there, and yet not spill a drop from the brimming bowl?" The man of the minaret said, "Do not say 'Mash'Allah' to me, but to Mahmud, who built the Sultan a castle of ivory and lioness' milk!" Mahmud said, "I am that Mahmud!" The man of the minaret said, "Ey, Mahmud, I am your slave! Take three hairs from my moustache, and if you are in need of me burn one and I will come to your aid." Then he saw an ant running about on the shore, as though she wished to cross the river, and he said to the man of the minaret, "I need to cross this river, to go to the Queen of Fairies, and this ant also wishes to cross. Make us a bridge!" The man of the minaret said, "Willingly!" And he took his minaret, and lifted it, and laid it across the river like a bridge. The ant crossed first, and Mahmud second. When they had reached the other side, the ant said to Mahmud, "Put a piece of this straw inside your cigarette-box. If you need me, burn it, and I will come to you!" Mahmud said, "How could a creature as small as you help me?" The ant said, "It may be that I can." So Mahmud took the straw and put it in his pocket. Then Mahmud came to the castle, and knocked at the door and rang the bell—like a telephone bell—of the Queen of Fairies. The Queen of Fairies sat on a throne like a Sultana, and it was all sparkling with precious stones, and as for herself, she was so lovely that she might have said to the sun and moon, "Be absent! I have come!" There is none lovelier than she is, and one must half shut one's eyes in order to gaze at her. Around her a thousand wazirs sat on jeweled chairs drinking tea and coffee and smoking water-pipes, and they were so finely attired, with crowns of rubies and diamonds and emeralds on their heads, that when one saw them, one would have thought them kings, not servants of kings. Besides these there were courtiers, and servants, almost as fine as they. Mahmud approached the Queen of Fairies and saluted her and said to her, "Peace upon you!" She said, "Upon you the peace, and the mercy of God and his blessing! How did you come here, and who brought you here?"



Mahmud answered, "Allah brought me here—He who created me." The Queen of Fairies said, "Ask and desire, and I will bestow! If you desire honor and fame, I will give it. If you are in danger of death, I will protect you, and if you are poor, I will make you rich!" Mahmud answered, "I do not need honor, nor protection, nor riches! I ask by the grace of Allah and yours, that Your Honor will marry me." The Fairy Queen answered, "Ey, son of Adam! These words have been uttered by you once! If they are uttered again, I will cut off your head! Son of Adam! Look in that garden. What does your eye see?" He looked, and saw a palm tree and on it hung two hundred thousand heads. She said, "Those heads belong to those who came here to woo me. Son of Adam, how could you have traveled the distance of five hundred years to ask me such a question?" Mahmud said to the Queen of Fairies, " O Queen! What are your orders? I do not come here to marry you empty-handed." When she heard this, she cried aloud, and all the creatures of Allah— deywat, men, animals and serpents—came before her, and when she cried a second time, her counselors stood before her. One of them was one thousand five hundred and ninety years old, and lived in a cage like a parrot. She cried to him, " O my uncle, old man! This son of Adam came to demand my hand in marriage. What shall I do with him? Shall I kill him?" The old man answered, " O Queen, why kill him? Give him five tasks. If he cannot perform them, cut off his head." The Queen said, "Beni Adam! Go into this room!" Mahmud arose, and went in and sat in it, and it was very large. Then she said, "Son of Adam! I am going to send you a dish of food. If you eat it all, I will marry you—if not, I shall cut off your head." He replied, "Good." Then she sent to her kitchens, and they brought eleven loads of wheat, eleven buffaloes, and put them into water. Then they added eleven loads of milk, and eleven loads of lentils, and cooked all together. When it was cooked, a thousand servants carried it and set the dish before Mahmud and said, "Eat this, and if one small quantity remains by the morning, you must be killed."



Mahmud replied, "Good." Then they locked the doors and left him. Mahmud rose to eat, and put a mouthful into his mouth, but there was so much salt in it that his tongue was burnt, and he cried, "Wakhl All Baghdad could not eat this!" Then he sat down and beat his breast and wept, "Akh\ What has the Sultan required of me?" At last, wearied of weeping, he went to sleep, saying, "Let them beat me and crucify me in hell!" He slept until nine at night. At nine, he rose, saying to himself, "By Allah, the first deyu, the one that gave me hairs from his head, why should I not burn the hairs and call him?" He struck a match and kindled the hairs, and the deyu appeared before him, saying, "Your commands, King Mahmud?" Mahmud said, "I want you to eat all that is in this big pot!" The deyu—what else could he do—swallowed it all in a mouthful, saying, "Is this a sultan's palace? They offer me only this mouthful? I am unsatisfied!" Then Mahmud said, "Ey, deyu\ Go to your place, and Allah be with you!" And the deyu returned to his castle. At noon the next day, the Queen of Fairies said to her ministers, "Go, fetch me this son of Adam and kill him." They went, and looked, and beheld Mahmud lying there sleeping. Not only was the pot empty, but the deyu, in his hunger, had eaten half of the plate as well. The servants went and told the queen that Mahmud had performed what she had asked of him. What did the Queen of Fairies do? She took her head between her hands, crying, "He has got me!" Meanwhile, Mahmud rose, washed himself with the water and soap they had brought him, and shaved himself, and then presented himself before the queen, saying, "Ha, Queen! I performed your task! Let us make the betrothal quickly!" The Queen answered, "Yawash, Yawashl (Softly, softly!) Not so fast! Have patience! Go to your room for this night again, for I have something else that you must do for me." Mahmud answered, "Mamnunl (Gladly!)" Then he returned to his room, and they brought him a water-pipe and food and drink, and he ate and drank, and amused himself until twelve o'clock. They made music for his amusement (chalghiai) and showed him teatro and sinema, and he enjoyed himself very much. But



in the middle of the night a thousand porters arrived, each bearing a sack. The sacks were filled with chickpeas. Then a thousand more came with a thousand sacks of wheat, and after them, sacks of lentils, and rice, and millet, and barley. And oats were brought—a thousand of each. Then the porters mixed the sacks all together (for the room was a large one, and Allah is great!). And the heap that all made together was as large as from here to the other bank of the river! They said, "Divide all this into heaps according to their kinds before morning!" Mahmud said, " Wakh! Were I given a thousand years to perform such a task, I could not achieve it!" Then the servants and the people left the room, and locked the door, so that Mahmud was alone with the grain. He sat down and began to sort the grain, and at the end of an hour's effort, he had only a small heap of chickpeas. He cried, "By Hell! She may kill me!" And he threw the chickpeas back into the heap and slept. At six, he woke, and rose and smoked a cigarette. Then he cried, "Waigh\ The ant said she would help me!" He burnt the straw she had given him, and the ants came out of the earth by the millions and cried, "What do you want of us?" Mahmud told them, and they set to work, while Mahmud sat in a chair. Before he had finished smoking his cigarette, the task was finished, and not a grain was out of p l a c e each kind was in its separate heap. The next day, when the Queen of Fairies learned that the task was performed, she was in despair. Mahmud said to her, "Have you anything else you wish me to do? I have still ten days left before the Sultan cuts off my head." And he laughed. She said, " G o to your place, and I will send for you." Then she called her ministers—there were a thousand of them—and said to them, " O my ministers! Give me your opinion! This man is getting the better of me! Find me a way out! Whatever task I set for him, Allah performs it for him. Shall I cut off his head?" The ministers replied, "This is of Allah! Send for him, and say to him, 'Bring me Zemzem 2 4 water. If you do not, I will cut off your


The holy well at Mecca.



head.'" Now Zemzem water is the Water of Life, and if one drinks of it, he will not die. The Queen did as they had advised, and told Mahmud what she required of him. He answered, "O Queen, I will bring you the water, if you will send one of your servants for it also. If he brings it first, cut off my head, but if I bring it first, you must marry me." The Queen agreed, and called a servant, and said to him, "Go and fetch me Zemzem water and be back in an hour. If one minute is lacking of the hour, I will cut off your head!" The servant answered, "It is a distance of five hundred years! How can I make the road in an hour minus a minute?" The Queen said, "Go, go! If not, I will cut off your head." He replied, "I cannot!" So she cut off his head. (At this point in the story, Drower remarked to the story-teller, "This queen was extremely careless about the life of her servants!" The story-teller answered, "Servants! What are they? Kill one, and another appears!") Then she called another, "Servant!" He answered, "Yes!" She said, "I want you to go and fetch Zemzem water in less than an hour!" He answered, "My mistress! I cannot! I am no peri (fairy) or jinni (spirit), but a Pehlewan (giant)!" So she cut off his head. She asked forty servants, and cut off their heads, because they could not fetch the water. The Queen was angry, and cried in a loud voice, and all the animals in the world came before her, and all her courtiers and servants. She said, "I am the Queen of Fairies, and a son of Adam is to espouse me! Ey, my ministers! I have built seven towers of the heads of sons of Adam who came here to woo me! Shall I now be forced to take this son of Adam?" The ministers answered, "Appeal to his heart! O Queen, send for him, and we will talk to him! He must perform these tasks by the aid of Allah and the deywat (monsters)." She ordered her servants to go and bring Mahmud. They brought him, and the ministers were all present, and Mahmud saluted them, saying, "What are your commands?"



They said, "The Queen of Fairies agreed to let one of her servants go to bring the water of Zemzem, to see if he could bring it faster than you! But none of them will go! You must go alone! You alone!" He was afraid, and answered, "Upon my eyes and head!" But he was in despair, and cried, "Y'aref bih\ (He knows!)" 25 He went into the garden of the Queen of Fairies, which was a large one (and Allah is great!), and began to pray, saying, "I am your suppliant! I have no help but you! I am your slave and you are my Lord! There is no escape for me unless you help me! They will kill me—the Queen of Fairies will cut off my head!" Thus he made his petition before his Lord. Allah caused a voice to whisper in his ear, "Mahmud! On the road here, what did your eyes see?" Then Mahmud remembered the deyu who had moved swifter than the gazelles, and he took out the hair he had plucked from its beard, and burnt it. The deyu instantly appeared and said to him, "What do you want of me? What do you order?" Mahmud answered, " Wallah! The Queen of Fairies has demanded Zemzem water from me! How shall I bring it here? Upon your luck! She ordered it to be brought within the hour! Can you bring it in halfan-hour's time?" The deyu said, "Ey, Mahmud, do not be afraid!" And he changed Mahmud into a bird, and himself he made into the likeness of Mahmud, and went to the Queen of Fairies, and greeted her. She thought that he was Mahmud. The deyu said, "Ey, Queen, peace be upon you!" She answered, "Peace be upon you, and the mercy of Allah and his blessing!" The deyu said, "You are the Queen of Fairies, and yet you do not have a servant who will come with me to Zemzem. If there is not one of them who will go, how can you ask me to go? It was an agreement!" The Queen arose, and cried aloud, and forty fairies appeared. She said to the captain of the fairies, "I wish you to go and fetch me Zemzem water. Help me! If you can bring it back before this son of Adam, I will cut off his head, but if not, I must marry him!"


I.e." God knows!" An expression of one who is desperate.



The peri replied, "Upon my eyes, I will bring it." The Queen ordered a bowl to be brought, and they brought her a diamond bowl, and she gave it to the peri, saying, "Bring this back full of Zemzem water." He flew away, and as for the deyu, he returned to the garden and returned Mahmud to his shape, while he again became like a deyu. The deyu said, "Amuse yourself in the garden, and do not fear! I will get the water for you!" Then he flew off to the well of Zemzem, and there he saw the peri, who was filling his bowl. He said to the peri, "You are taking Zemzem water?" The peri answered, "Yes, the Queen of Fairies wants me to bring her some." And he flew off, while the deyu said to him, "Take it, and Allah be with you!" Then the deyu sat on the edge of the well and sang and amused himself, for he was in no hurry. When the peri on his homeward journey had arrived in Baghdad, the deyu filled his bowl, and flew off with it, and he was at the Fairy Queen's castle half an hour before the^en! Then he took the shape of Mahmud and went with it to the Queen of Fairies, and placed it in her hand. When this was done, he returned to Mahmud, and took his leave and went. When the peri arrived with his diamond bowl full of water, he saw Mahmud's bowl already there. The Queen of Fairies then sent her servant to fetch Mahmud, who appeared before her and said to her, "Do you have another wish?" She answered him, "I want this of you! I shall make a big fire, of a thousand loads of firewood, a thousand boxes of gasoline, and a thousand boxes of naphta. The naphta and the gasoline they will pour on the wood, and kindle it. You must enter the flames, and I will send a servant of mine with you. If you come out unharmed, I will marry you! Mahmud replied, "I will return to give you an answer." He went to his place, and took out the hair of the deyu whom he had seen removing mountains, and burned the hair. The deyu appeared before him and said to him, "Ey, King Mahmud! What is your command?" Mahmud said, "Bakht Allah bakhtakl (May God's luck be yours)!" And he told him what the Queen of Fairies had demanded of him.



The deyu replied, "We deywat are sons of the fire! I am happy to do this!" Then he changed himself into the shape of Mahmud, and went to the Queen of Fairies and said to her, "Ey, Queen! Make your fire quickly!" They made the fire, which was exceedingly fierce, and they brought a servant and put him and Mahmud in a charghu felk (flying wheel), and threw them into the flame. As quickly as a match is fired, the servant was burnt up and died. But the deyu began to shiver and to shake in the midst of the flame, crying, "O, this cold! O, this draft!" The Queen of Fairies was watching from her housetop, and when she put a telescope to her eye and saw her servant burned, she was delighted and cried, "Elhamdu illah\ (Allah be praised)! Mahmud is burnt and he cannot take me to be his wife!" And she laughed with glee. The fire was not extinguished until eleven o'clock, and the Queen was so happy that she could neither eat nor drink. But when the fire had become ashes, who should step out of the glow but the deyu, wearing the shape of Mahmud. The Queen of the Fairies shook and trembled so violently that the telescope fell from her hands. She cried, "Wakhl (Alas)! The star of my house has set! Mahmud must take me now!" And she struck her hands together in despair. She was so downcast that she descended the thousand and one steps that led to the roof-top, and went to her couch, and drew a jewelled coverlet over her. She was bathed in sweat, and kept to her bed. Then she called and forty slaves came, and a thousand physicians, with a head physician, and he was Lokman the Wise.26 He said to her, "Ey, Queen! We will make you a potion that will cure you! Afterwards, you can see Mahmud and speak with him." Then Lokman the Wise gave her medicine, and she drank it, and her trembling and shaking left her. She sent for Mahmud, and said to him, "Ey, Mahmud!" Mahmud said to her, "Your orders!" She said, "I want one more thing from you! Ascend a minaret with a bowl brimful of water on your head, and when you have 26

See the story of Lokman.



reached the summit, dance! Not one drop of water must be spilt. This you must do three times. If you can do this, I will take you as husband, but if not, I will cut off your head!" Mahmud left her and went into the garden, and took out his cigarette box, and lit a match and burnt a hair, and the man of the minaret (minarchi) appeared before him, and said, "Your order, Mahmud?" Mahmud said, "Such and such has the Queen of Fairies asked of me!" The man answered, "Change clothes with me!" Mahmud changed clothes with him, and the man said to him, "Now go and amuse yourself and I will go and do what the Queen asks." He went, and they gave him a diamond bowl brimful of water. He put it on his head and his hands to his sides. Then he ascended the minaret, three times, and three times he danced with the bowl of water and not one drop was spilt. The Queen sat on her throne and watched, and when all was ended, he came to her and she rose. He said, "Sit! What more do you want? Have I not performed every task you asked of me? Bring the qadi (judge) immediately and make the betrothal!" Then he went to the garden, and took back his clothes and sent Mahmud to the Queen. Mahmud came, and said to her, "Peace upon you!" The Queen returned his salutation, and stood before him with her hands on her breast. Mahmud said, "Good! Sit down! Give me your hand!" She gave it, and he shook it. Then the Queen of Fairies called the qadi of Allah, and he came to perform the ceremony of the betrothal. Then Mahmud said, "Ey, Queen! I do not come to claim you as my bride, for I am a poor fisher lad and you are a queen, daughter of kings! I came to take you to my Sultan." She answered him, "Yes." Then she bade her servants take Mahmud to the bath. They washed him and shaved him and brought a court dress and put it on him, and brought him back to the Queen, who made him sit beside her. Mahmud said, "Yallal (Quickly)! We must go back to my country!" She said, "Give me a respite of forty days!" Mahmud replied, "I had only forty days in which to bring you, and of those, only ten remain. If I give you a respite of forty days the Sultan will cut off my head! I will give you respite, but only for five days. I cannot give you more."



The Queen said, "What are five days?" H e said, "It cannot be more, for it is five hundred years from here!" She completed all that she wished to do in the five days, and Mahmud said to her, "Come! Yalla \ (Quickly!)" Then he went into the garden, and by burning a hair, he summoned the deyu who was lord of the castle forty stories high. When he stood before him, Mahmud asked him to transport the Queen of Fairies, with her garden and all her court, and to place it beside the palace of the Sultan. The deyu uttered a cry, and two hundred thousand deywat appeared before him, for he was a sultan of the deywat. They cried, "What is your order, O, our Sultan?" H e said, "I ask of you this—that you will take up this castle and garden with all that are in it and transport it to Mahmud's country." They replied, "Yes! We are ready to obey!" So many deywat came that they were like grains of sand on the seashore! The Queen beheld all these deywat, and she trembled, for all things are subject to others, and just as men have kings, so the dogs and the birds and the fish have their rulers, and those that are greater than others of their own kind. So the Sultan of the deywat was greater than the Queen of Fairies. H e cried to Mahmud, Ey azizem nuri chawum Ruhum fidha beh A to feramush yedillum bqa Rahmi huwa beh! Have patience a little, and give me respite for a few hours!

Mahmud said, " O Queen, I say yes! I will go to the garden and return to you!" H e went and spoke to the Sultan of the deywat, and said, " E y Sultan, the Samoshai Peri asks me to have patience until six o'clock!" The Sultan of the deywat answered, "As you will!" A n d he called aloud, and the deywat all returned to their place. Then he went back to the Queen who stood before him and saluted him. Mahmud said, " O Queen, you have respite until six in the evenmg!



She said, "O Mahmud, tell me by what power you do all this! Tell me what is in your heart!" He replied, "Were I to talk with you for a hundred thousand years, I could not tell you that!" So it was. Later on, the deywat took the castle and the Queen, and her people and her garden and Mahmud, and transported them in the space of an hour and put down the castle next to the palace of the Sultan, and then returned to their place. Mahmud went to the Sultan, and said to him, "O Sultan! The Queen of Fairies is here, and what you bade me to do, I did in forty days!" Then he went to his home, and to the old woman, his mother. The Queen of Fairies saw a castle of ivory and milk, and was astonished! She said, "Is there indeed a Sultan who has a castle of ivory and milk! What a Sultan he must be!" And she rejoiced. The Sultan did not give Mahmud any payment for his trouble, not a para, nothing! He was as poor as before. But a man, a darwish, came to Mahmud's door at night, and said to him, "O Mahmud! Did the Sultan give you no reward for procuring him his castle and his bride, the Queen of Fairies?" Mahmud replied, "WallahI A measure of millet; otherwise, nothing!" The darwish said, "Ey, Mahmud! I have a word for you! Listen! Go to the suq and buy a sword!" Mahmud answered, "I have no money! Not a pesa, not an anna, not a liral I only have the compassion of Allah!" The darwish put his hand in his pocket and took out his pouch and gave a lira to Mahmud, saying, "My son! I give you this lira! Go to the suq and buy a good sword! When you have bought it, go to the Sultan's reception room, wearing it, and hide behind the door. When you hear the Sultan boasting of himself, and the wazir answering, spring forth and cut off the wazir''% head and that of the Sultan. The all the ministers will come and kiss your hand, and all that was the Sultan's will be yours!" Mahmud rose, and bought the sword in the suq as the darwish had said, then took his stand behind the door of the reception hall. The Sultan was there, and he said, "Ey, my ministers! Does a greater one than I exist? Who else has a castle of ivory and milk, and the Queen of Fairies as his bride? Only Allah is greater than I!"



The wazir replied, "In truth, Sultan! There is none greater than Y o u r Majesty!" A t that Mahmud rushed forth and smote off the head of the wazir, and then that of the Sultan. Then all the ministers came and kissed his hand, and took him to the bath, and put the Sultan's robes on him. So, Mahmud became Sultan, and f o r forty days and forty nights they played music, and gave water to the thirsty and provisions of food (zad) to the hungry. Then Mahmud rose, without his courtiers, and servants and ministers and qadis, and went to the Samoshai Peri. She rose, and laughed, saying, " M y Mahmud! Y o u said that y o u would take me to be the bride of a Sultan, and n o w y o u are a Sultan!" Mahmud laughed and said, " O Queen of Fairies! There are those w h o k n o w fate! Even the prophet Moses only attained his rights b y the help of Allah! A n d what has happened to me is the w o r k of Allah, w h o has made me Sultan in the place of him w h o was Sultan! If y o u will take me as your husband, it will be 'good upon good,' but if not, return to your country, and Allah be with you! I do not wish to take y o u b y force." The Queen of Fairies replied, " O Mahmud! Y o u are m y eyes, m y heart, m y beloved! Without compulsion, without force, and without bending m y will, I will be yours, f o r I cannot do without you!" Then Mahmud took her and kissed her, and she him, and she gave him her hand in promise. Then they made the betrothal in the presence of the entire court, and Jellahu jellalahu, mara buryan halalahu Bi yasin (?) bi taraqin, bi kurakochan charmin Melan hna qazian cherriy, bi sheri sheriyf Ma rai Samoshai Perian, liMahmud ber'iyl27 Then the bridegroom entered the bridal chamber, and the t w o of them were happy.


Translation lacking.

11 THE STORY OF THE JACKAL WHO TURNED HAJJI (PILGRIM TO MECCA) Language in which the story was told: English Narrator: 'Abdul Aziz Beg Mudhaffar There was once a jackal, who, finding it difficult to catch enough to satisfy his hunger, built a small raft (kelek), put a green Seyyidiya (turban) on his head and took a long rosary in his hand. Assuming a look of piety, he embarked on the raft and set off down the Tigris. Before long, he met the crow, who said to him. "Shinu hai, abu al wiyuT (What is this, father of jackals?) The jackal replied, "Leave me, my brother! I have given up my old tricks and am going to Mecca to become a hajji. Please do not disturb my meditations." The crow said, "Khatr Allah, (for God's sake), Hajji, take me with you!" The jackal said, "Come on my raft." The crow and the jackal sailed on and met a pigeon ifukhtaya). The pigeon said, "Where are you two going together, you who are old enemies?" The jackal replied, "We are enemies no longer, but have become reconciled, and are going to make the pilgrimage to Mecca." The pigeon cried, "I too will make the Hajj! Let me accompany you." They agreed, and she too got on the raft. Before long they met a hen, who exclaimed, "Wonder of wonders! A jackal with a crow and a pigeon!" The jackal answered, "We are all reconciled, and are going to make the pilgrimage to Mecca." She begged him, "Take me too, oh Hajji!" The jackal consented, and just after that they met a cock. He, too, cried out with amazement at seeing them, and when the jackal explained, he asked if he could be of their company. So the pious pilgrims floated down the stream. Before they had gone far, the jackal said, "You are not accustomed to navigation, and you are disturbing the balance of the kelek. I must tie you up!" And he tied them up. When they had gone a little further, the jackal addressed them and said, "Brothers and sisters! As we are going to the holiest spot on earth, we had better confess our sins. You 415



shall confess first, and you shall receive absolution at my hands. But he who does not confess freely, and tell the whole truth, must submit to my punishment." Then he turned to the crow and said, "Now, Father of Blackness, tell me your sins!" The crow replied, " Wallahi (I swear by God), I am innocent! I never committed a sin all the days of my life." The jackal replied, "Oh, liar! I will tell you what your sin is! Whenever a poor man goes out of his house in the morning to win bread for himself and his family, you wish him bad luck by saying, 'Qa-qa-qaY in your ugly voice!' 28 This is one of the worst sins, and I shall punish you!" So saying, he fell upon the crow and devoured him. The others sat shivering with fright. Then, the jackal felt hungry again, and spoke to the pigeon, "Dear sister, open your heart and confess your sins!" She wept and said, "By your head, I am pure and innocent!" "Oh!" cried the jackal, "Such a lie merits death! I will tell you what your sin is! When the poor fellah (peasant), tired out by his toil, seeks shade and sleeps beneath a tree at noon-time, you come and disturb his peace by shouting 'Cucukhti, cucukhtiY" And the jackal sprang at the pigeon and ate her up. When he had digested the pigeon, he turned to the hen and said, "Confess, my sister, and hide nothing!" The hen replied, "I have nothing to hide, O h Hajji Jackal. I am the most harmless of birds!" The jackal said, " N o , you have a deadly sin! When a poor widow goes from farm to farm begging a handful of grains, and spreads what she has garnered in the sun to dry, you come like a daughter of Shaitan (Satan) and scratch up the grain and mingle it with the dust, so that the poor woman is left hungry. Is not this a heinous sin?" So saying, he seized her by her neck and ate her. The cock was silent from fright for some time, but at last, daring to speak, he said, " O h Hajji, Father of the Wiyu! Mercy, mercy! I have never committed a sin all my life." The jackal replied, "Your sin is the grossest of all! I will tell you what it is. When a poor woman rises at the break of day so as to profit by the early hours to perform her daily tasks, you start shouting, and wake up her child, so that you impede 28

To meet a crow first thing in the morning is considered unlucky.



her in her work and draw upon her the displeasure of her mother-inlaw. Oh, what a heartless villain!" And he sprang at him and ate him. Then, having no more pilgrims on his kelek, he threw his Seyyidiya and his misbaha (rosary) in the river, and returned to his home as fat as butter!

12 J u j AND MAJUJ ( G O G AND MAGOG) Juj and Majuj were two archangels, high in the hierarchy of Heaven, and they spent their time in praying and praising God. But one day Iblis (the devil) came to them and said, "You have never seen the earth, and the men and women who are on it. They, too, pray and praise God after their fashion, and you could carry on your worship just as well there as here." They replied, "We should indeed like to see the earth, and those creations of Allah called women, for we have never seen them." And they went to Allah and asked if they might be given permission to leave Paradise and go to the earth, and serve him there. And Allah gave them permission and they went down to Babylon, and built themselves a domed room, in which they prayed and praised and worshipped Allah as before. Then Iblis changed himself into a girl, so fair that she lit the night, and came and knocked at the door of Juj and Majuj. They said, "Who is it?" The girl said, "It is me, and I ask for shelter." So they opened the door, and saw her, and she was so fair that their understanding flew from them. She wore silver ornaments and an 'aba (cloak) of silk, and was sweet to the eyes. They saw her, and they desired her, and they bade her enter, and thought no more of prayer. They said, "Who are you?" And she said, "I am a girl, and my people live close by." They said, "Spend the night with us, and give us pleasure." And she replied, "Gratefully, I will, but let me first go to my house and change my clothes." They let her go, but they could not go on with their prayers, for they thought of nothing but the maiden. Then Iblis changed himself again, and this time he made himself into an old man, and he went and knocked at the door. They answered him, "Who is it?" He said, "I am an old man, and I have heard that two archangels dwell in this place, who perpetually praise and glorify God, and I have come here to pray with them so that my prayer may be more acceptable to God." Then they said, "Not now, old man!" Iblis said, "Let me in, so that I may pray a little with you and then go 419



away." They answered, " G o away, baba (father), go away! Tonight we have other occupations. G o away, baba, and return some other time!" And they gazed all the time to see if the girl was coming. Then Iblis departed, and going to Allah, he said, "See how your two archangels have forgotten you!" And he told Allah what had happened. Allah transported the two archangels to Paradise, and they were brought to his presence. H e said, "It was reported to me that such and such were your actions." They said, "It is true. Forgive us! But we have praised and glorified you for eighty thousand years, and only forgot you for one night!" And Allah said, "It is so, and I pardon you. But the sin must be punished and so, until the Day of Judgment, you two must remain suspended between earth and heaven." So, Juj and Majuj were suspended by their eyelids between Babylon and Paradise, and there they are till this day.

13 T H E STORY OF HASAN AL-BASRI Language: Arabic Narrator: illiterate Chaldaean woman from Baghdad29 Kan u ma kan, 'ala Allah at Tuklan Taqul toba istaghfar Allah It was, and it was not; O n Allah, the Relied-on. Say, "Repent, I seek pardon f r o m G o d . "

In Basra there once lived a Jew who was a jeweler. Each year, he took a new apprentice, saying to the boy, "Come to me and learn the trade of the gold- and silversmith. I will teach you alchemy and the secrets of the trade. You shall know the profession perfectly and at the end of your time be an expert yourself, and be able to go away and make much money." One year a boy named Hasan was passing down the street when he came to the shop of the Jewish silversmith. The smith greeted him, and the boy asked, "Do you want an apprentice? I need to work to earn money." The Jew answered him, "I need one, for my apprentice has just left me. If you come to me, you shall learn your trade well, and not only that, but writing, alchemy and all the secrets of the jeweler's art." So the boy Hasan came to him as an apprentice, and as he was clever and intelligent, he learned his work well. When he had been in the shop one year, the silversmith said, "Today I shall shut my shop and go into the desert to hunt. Will you go with me?" The boy said, "Good." 29 This is probably Lili, the narrator of Drawer's Folktales of Iraq. D r a w e r says that this story is a much shorter, and different, version of the one found in the Arabian Nights.




So they went together into the desert, meshi, meshi, meshi— walking, walking, walking—ardh athattu, ardh atshilu, ardh athattu, ardh atshilu (step-by-step)—until the boy was tired, and said, "We have walked very far, and as yet, there are no birds and no gazelle." The silversmith said, "Wait. We are going to a distant spot, where there is plenty of game." And they walked— meshi, meshi, meshi—until they came to a wild place where there was a very high rock, and beside it a deep and swift river. Near the rock was a shepherd tending his sheep. When they came close to the shepherd, the Jew asked, "Will you sell me a sheep, O shepherd?" And the Jew chose a large sheep, and paid the shepherd, and when he and his flock had gone, he killed the sheep. Cutting open its belly, he removed the insides. The boy said to his master, "Liweysh? (Why?) O master, are you doing this?" He answered him, "I will tell you. I want you to crawl inside the body of this sheep, and I will sew up the belly, giving you a knife, so that you can easily free yourself again. There will come an eagle, which, taking you for meat, will fly with you to the top of the rock. When you are there, cut yourself free, pick up the stones that you will see lying around, and throw them down to me. With my alchemical art I can make them into fine jewels." The boy Hasan said, "But how will I get down?" The Jew said, "I will get you down." Hasan said, "I am afraid that you may not take me down. And if anything should happen to me, so that I do not return, my mother will weep for me, her only son." The Jew said, "Do not be afraid. I will get you down off the mountain." Then the boy did as the Jew said, and got within the sheep's belly, with a knife in his hand, and-f-r-r-r-r\—an eagle flew down, seized him in her beak, and flew with him to the top of the rock. The boy used his knife and got out, and the Jew cried out to him, "Shaku! (what is there)?" The boy answered, "There are diamonds, and rubies, and emeralds and pearls in great numbers lying around." The Jew said, "Take off your 'aba (cloak) and tie up as many as you can in a bundle and throw them down." The boy said, "And how will you fetch me down?" The Jew answered, "Throw them down quickly. I will bring you down when you have given me the stones."



The boy did as he was bid, and then he saw the Jew preparing to go away with the bundle. He began to cry to him, "Take me down, master! May Allah keep you! Take me down!" The Jew answered him, "Look behind you on the mountain-side at those who are sleeping there! Go and sleep with them, for I shall never bring you down." The boy turned and looked behind him, and he saw many skeletons and bones lying there. The Jew said, "Those who sleep there are those that came by the same road as yourself to the mountain." Saying that, he turned and went back to Basra. The boy began to walk and found the top of the rock all covered with dead bodies and bones, so that he had to tread on them. He looked to the right and to the left, but there was no way to get down to the plain. He said to himself, "I will take this path that leads to the back of the mountain, and perhaps I shall find a descent." He walked and walked—meshi, meshi, meshi—looking this way and that, and then he came to a cave full of diamonds. He looked in, and when he saw them he sighed and said, "Liweysh! (Why!) What good is all of this wealth to me! My life is finished, and there is nothing for me to do but die like these others." He found that whichever way he turned, there was a precipice, and so he remained for three days without food or drink. On the third day he went to the side of the rock that overhung the river, and gazed at the water as it flowed deep and swift below. He said to himself, "Either way, death! If I throw myself into this river, I shall die swiftly and that is better than to remain up here." Dum-m-mm-m\ He threw himself from the rock and fell into the river below. The waves carried him along, and at last he was borne by their force against a shallow shore in the desert and was thrown on the land. How glad Hasan was! He kissed his hand, thanked God for His mercy, and rejoiced exceedingly. When he had the strength, he set off walking, walking, walking—ardh athattu, ardh atshilu—until he saw in the distance a large house. He went up to the gate of the house and knocked at the door and cried, "May Allah keep you! By the mercy of Allah! I am hungry, I am thirsty! Give me a piece of bread and a little water!" Within the gate was a maidservant, and when she heard him she ran to her three mistresses, who were three daughters of the jinns, and



told them, "There is a man outside, who is asking for bread and water." The sisters answered her, "Bring him in and let him come below into the courtyard." So she let him in, and brought him into the courtyard. Then they told her, "Bring him up," and she said to him, "Tafadhalul (do us a favor!) Be pleased to come up, for my ladies wish to see you!" He went up, and the three sisters came to him pleasantly, and wished him welcome, saying, "Marhabbal (welcome!) How are you! You are our brother, and we are very glad to see you. Tell us how you came here!" They made him sit down, and gave him food and drink, and he told them how he became an apprentice to the Jew, and was taken up on the mountain. When they heard that, one exclaimed, "We know this dog! Every year he takes an apprentice up there on the rock, and when he has made him throw down the precious stones, he leaves him there to die! How was it, my brother, that you escaped?" And he told them how he had hurled himself into the river in despair, and that by the mercy of Allah he had been cast by the waves to the shore. Then they said to him, "You are now safe, and you shall be our brother, like our three jinn brothers, who live far from here." They kept him with them for one year, two years, three years, and he was treated as if he had been their real brother. He especially loved the youngest daughters of the jinns, for she was the kindest of the three. At the end of the third year, they said to him, "Our brother, we must go to see our father, who is a king among the jinns, and our three brothers, for it is a long time since we visited them. We shall not be gone long, for we will return. But, in order that you shall not be bored during our absence, here are the keys to the castle: open the rooms and amuse yourself with what you find in them. There are forty rooms and forty keys. However, the fortieth room you must not enter, only the thirty-nine! Remember, you must not on any account enter the fortieth room!" And he said to them, "No, I will not open it." Then they rode away, and took their servants with them, so that he was alone in the qasr (castle). The next day he opened one of the rooms, and found it full of emeralds, and the next he opened the next day and found it full of gold ornaments, and—di,di,di,di!—each day he



opened another r o o m and found them full of all manner of treasures, money and jewels, until all the thirty-nine were opened. O n the fortieth day he said t o himself, "I must see the fortieth r o o m ! If the others contained such rare and beautiful things, the fortieth must contain the rarest and most beautiful of all of them!" A n d he longed to open it, and at last, he did so. H e turned the key in the lock, opened the door and went in. H e looked, and the r o o m was empty! There was nothing there. But in one corner there was a cupboard, and going to it, he opened it, and saw a flight of steps. When he saw them, nothing could stop him, and he went down, down, down, and there were forty steps. T h e y ended in a door that led into a garden:

Wa al awwal, wa la tani! First in beauty! None second to it! In the garden was a palace. H e wandered in the garden, and came to a fountain of water ( shedrwan , a pool fed b y a spring) and b y its pool were three chairs and a couch. H e sat down and wondered w h y the three jinn sisters had forbidden him to enter the fortieth r o o m . " A n d here was this lovely garden, and I did not k n o w about it!" Then he thought, "These chairs are here for someone to use. I will hide under the couch, and watch, to see w h o comes and goes in the garden." N o sooner had he hid himself than— f-r-r-r-r\ —there came three doves, w h o alighted b y the pool, and t o o k off their shirts of feathers, and

Subhan rabb al khalaqin Wal Khaliq ahsan! Praise to the Lord of Creation! The Creator is more beautiful than his creatures! L o , three beautiful girls stood before him. T h e y threw their feather dresses on the three chairs, and plunged into the pool. All were lovely, but when he saw the youngest, w h o was even fairer than the other two, his heart was hot with love. T h e y plunged into the water, and swam, and threw balls, and laughed and amused themselves until at last they came to the chairs, put on their feathers, and—f-r-r-r-r\— flew upwards and away. When he could see them no more, Hasan re-



turned to the steps, ascended into the room, locked the door, and came into the castle again. But his love for the youngest maiden he had seen by the pool was so great that he could neither eat nor sleep, and he took to his bed. The three jinn sisters returned then, and when they arrived, they called, "Where is Hasan? Where?" When they found him in bed, they cried, "You are ill! What is the matter, our brother? We are sad to see you in this situation. What has happened to you?" He answered, "I am sick; I don't know why." But the little one, who loved him best, stayed behind and said, "Eysh bik? (What is going on?) What is it, Hasan? You are hiding something from us." He said, "It is nothing." She said, "I am your little sister. Tell me. I am afraid that you entered the fortieth room." The he told her, "I entered the fortieth room, and I saw the youngest of the three, and I love her. Sowwili charal (find me a way out of this difficulty!) If you are really my sister, and love me, help me to get her, for I love her madly." She said, "Her people will not give her to you, for her father is a powerful king of the jinns. His name is Shahzaban of the island Waqwaq. But I will tell you what you must do if you want to have her. Here are the keys. Open the door to the fortieth room and go down, and hide as you hid before, under the couch by the pool. When the sisters come to bathe, steal her shirt of feathers." The next day he opened the door and went into the garden, but no one came, and each day he went down, for forty days. One the fortieth day, when he had hid as before under the couch—f-r-r-r-r\—down flew the three doves, alighted, took off their shirts of feathers, and entered the pool. While they were swimming and laughing and playing, Hasan stole the shirt of feathers that belonged to the youngest, and put it in his bosom. At last the eldest sister said, "Our time has passed! Di\ We must return!" And she slipped into her shirt of feathers, and so did the second sister, but the third stood looking for hers. As soon as the first two had become doves again—f-r-r-r-r\—away they flew, and the youngest stood there. Hasan came from the couch, and went to her and took her by the wrists, and said, "I want you!" And he took her to the castle where he told her that he loved her and took her for his



own. She told him that her name was Light-of-Morning, and they lived together in the castle, and in time she bore him a son, and the next year she bore him another. Meanwhile, her two sisters flew away over seven seas to Waqwaq, to their father Shahzaban, and when they had arrived, the king said to them, "Where is my youngest daughter, Light-of-Morning?" They answered him, "We do not know what happened to her." As for Hasan, he began to wish to see his mother and Basra, and said to his sisters, "I want to see my mother and to show her my wife and my sons." They answered, "Good." And the youngest said, "I will give you three hairs, son of Adam, and if you rub them together, you will have a mare who can fly like the wind, and she will bring you back to us or where you will." And he rubbed the three hairs together, and said, "I should like a mare." And there appeared a mare who could fly like the wind, and he and his wife and his two sons mounted her and said farewell to the three jinn sisters, and flew like the wind until they came to Basra. Now the mother of Hasan, who had not seen him for so many years, thought that he was dead, and had wept and mourned him. When Hasan came and knocked at her door, she said, "Who is it? (Minu?)" He said, "I am Hasan, your son." She said, "My son Hasan died years ago." He answered, "He is not dead: I am he! I have come back with wife and children! Open!" Then she opened, and took him in her arms, and his children, and wife, Light-of-Morning, and the girl was so beautiful that had the moon been absent, she would have lit the sky. How happy they were together, and they sat and talked, and his mother rejoiced. Hasan made haste to build a fine house, and to spend money on the place, for he was now a wealthy man. But he had not forgotten his sisters, the daughters of the jinn, and one day, when his boys were aged, one six and the other seven years old, he said, "My mother, I want to travel, halahala bi owladi, take care of my children, and my wife, and do not let her out of your sight." And he said goodbye to his mother, and gave her the shirt of feathers that belonged to his wife, and told her to lock it away in a chest and never to take it out. Then he mounted the mare that came when he rubbed the three hairs together, and went to the qasr of the three jinn sisters, and told



them, "I have left my wife and children with my mother, and have come to see you. How are you? I am very happy to see you, and each year, if God wills, I will come to see you." And he stayed with them for some days. One day, Light-of-Morning said to her mother-in-law, "My mother, I wish to go to the hammam in the suq." The old woman replied, "We have a hammam in the house, my darling, and your husband bade me not to let you leave the house. Shlon tatl'ain? (How could you go out?)" Then Light-of-Morning said, "I wish to go. Am I in prison here? I want to go out and see Basra, and the streets. Let me go." And the old woman answered, "Keyfki, ya binti\ (as you wish, my daughter!)" And she sent a servant with her to the public baths. Now, when she entered the bath, there was no need of lights there, for her beauty illumined the place. It happened that the wife of the Khalifa went to the hammam that day, and when she entered and saw Light-of-Morning, she said to the bath attendants, "Who is that?" They answered, "That is the wife of Hasan of Basra." She exclaimed, "Allah! The wife of the Goodly One (i.e., Hasan) is the most goodly I ever saw. Is there anything more beautiful in the world?" Then she approached Light-of-Morning and said, "Come to my house, for you are so lovely, that I want to look upon you. You must come to our house, my darling." Light-of-Morning returned to her mother-in-law, and said, "The Khalifa's wife wishes me to go to her house. I must make ready and go." Hasan's mother struck her hands to her head, and said, "Why did you go out? You know the people of Basra have evil manners, and now, if you do not go to the Khalifa's wife, she will be angry!" So Light-of-Morning took her two children, and she went to the house of the Khalifa's wife. The Khalifa's wife was delighted to see her, and said to her, "Surely you are the most beautiful, wife of Hasan! How sweet you are, how delightful!" Then Light-of-Morning answered, "If you think me beautiful as I am, you would think me more beautiful is I were to put on my own dress and dance before you." The wife of the Khalifa answered her, "Where is this dress?" She said, "It is with my mother-in-law. Will you not send someone to fetch it?"



The Khalifa's wife replied, "Your pleasure!" And she sent her servant to ask for Light-of-Morning's dress. When the servant knocked at the house, and asked for the dress, Hasan's mother began to weep, " O u r family will be ruined! I do not have the dress. M y son put it in a chest and locked it, and told me I must not give it. Say that I do not have the dress." The servant returned and said, "She says she does not have the dress." Light-of-Morning said, "Lies! The dress is with my mother-inlaw!" Then the Khalifa's wife sent the servant again, saying, "Mother of Hasan! If you do not give the dress, I will destroy you utterly." Then Hasan's mother was afraid, and unlocked the chest, and gave the servant the dress of feathers, and the woman brought it to Light-ofMorning. Then Light-of-Morning put on the shirt of feathers, put one boy on each wing, and—f-r-r-r\—she flew out of the palace window and over the roofs of Basra until she came to Hasan's house. Then she flew over the courtyard and, as she flew, she cried out to her mother-in-law, "Greet my husband for me, and tell him that I have gone to my father, King Shahzaban in the island of Waqwaq over the seven seas, and that if he has courage enough, he can fetch me!" And—f-r-r-r\—she flew away. N o w when Light-of-Morning descended upon the roof of her father's place in the land of Waqwaq, which is beyond the seven seas, she found her two sisters sitting there. They were very astonished when they saw her return with two boys, and exclaimed, Ya hajera Ya fajera Nti akhadti insi Wa jibti min oulad. O, outlawed one! O, shameless one! You have abased yourself with a man, You have borne human children. Then they went to King Shahzaban, and said to him, "Our sister has come, and with her two human brats." And the king ordered that she should be taken to the garden, and bound to a palm-tree by her



long hair, and she and her boys should stay there. Every morning and every evening, they were to beat her and give her a bowl (tungd) of water and a loaf of bread. So much for Light-of-Morning. As for Hasan, after he had stayed a few days with his sisters, the daughters of the jinn, he bade them farewell, and returned upon his flying mare. H e came and knocked at the door of his house, and when he had entered the harem, began to call, "Nur-es-Sabah\ (Light of morning!) Where is Light-of-Morning?" His mother came weeping, and said, " O , my son, for the sake of Allah, do not be angry! Such-and-such has happened." And she told him of the misfortunes that had happened to their house, and told him that his wife, when she had flown over the roof, had called and told her to inform her son that if he had the valiance and courage enough, he should find her in the island of Waqwaq behind the seven seas. When he heard this news, Hasan began to beat his head and lament. Then he said to his mother, "O, my mother, I must return immediately to my sisters, the daughters of the jinn, to ask them to help me." So saying, he struck the hairs that the youngest sister had given him, and immediately a black slave appeared, saying, Labbeik, labbeik, Ana 'abidbeyn ideik Utlub u temenna. At your service, at your service! I am your willing slave; Ask what you will.

The young man asked for the flying mare. It was there instantly, and he mounted it, and-f-r-r-r-r\—it flew through the air like an arrow, and came down in the castle of his sisters, the daughters of the jinn. When they saw him come back so soon they were astonished, and asked him what was the matter. H e told them, and said, " N o w tell me how I can reach the island of Waqwaq, which is beyond seven seas, for I must find my wife, Light-of-Morning, or die!" They answered him, "Our brother, we do not know where the island of Waqwaq is. But we will give you a letter to our eldest brother, who is king over the small birds that fly everywhere, and he may be able to tell you where it is." So they wrote to their eldest brother, and



gave it to Hasan, and then he mounted his horse and flew, flew, flew, till he alighted in the castle of the eldest brother. The jinns came running and said, "Who are you that treads on land? Who is this child of man who dares to come into the land of the jinns}" Then he said, "Take me to your master," and when they had done so, he gave the king the letter, saying, "This is from your sisters." He replied, "On my eyes and head!" He read the letter and said, "Mamnun\ (gladly!) I will be glad to be of service. Speak! What do you wish?" Hasan replied, "I want my wife, Light-of-Morning, daughter of the king Shahzaban." The jinn-king asked, "Where is she?" He answered, "She has flown to the island of Waqwaq, beyond the seven seas." Thejinn said, "I do not know where the island of Waqwaq is." He pondered, and then he went up to the roof and called all the small birds. They came flying, from all around the sky, and lit on the roof. Then he asked them, "Do you know where the island of Waqwaq is, beyond the seven seas?" They answered, "Kheyr\ (no!) We have never heard of it, never!" Then he said to Hasan, "I will send you to my brother, the king of the large birds and the eagles. Perhaps he might have heard of this place." Then he wrote a letter to his brother, and gave it to Hasan, and Hasan mounted his mare again and flew, flew, flew, until the mare descended in the castle of the second brother. The jinns came running about him, crying, "How bold you are, son of man, that you dare to come here!" But he said, "Take this to your master." When the king of the eagles took the letter, he kissed it and put it on his forehead, seeing that it was from his brother. Then he said, "What do you want? How can I help you?" Hasan told him, as he had told the first brother, that he wished to go to his wife in the island of Waqwaq. The jinn struck his foot on the ground and exclaimed, "That must be a very long journey, and I do not know where this island might be, but I will ask the eagles, for they soar high and see much." So he went out on the roof and called the eagles, and they came from far and wide, flying about him. And he asked them, "Have you heard of the island of Waqwaq, beyond the seven seas?" They answered him, "Kheyrl No, we have never heard of it, never."



Then the jinn said, "Perhaps our youngest brother knows. I will write to him, and ask him to do this favor and help you." So he wrote to his youngest brother, and Hasan mounted his horse and flew, flew— flew— f-r-r-r-r\—until he reached the castle of the youngest brother. When he had alighted the jinns came around him and cried, "Beni Adam, 'andak jasaral Tiji tadus belednal (child of man, how bold you are to place foot in our country!)" But he gave the letter from the king of eagles to the youngest brother, who kissed it and lifted it to his forehead. Then he asked Hasan what he wanted, and Hasan told him his story. Then the youngest brother spread sand before him, and began to work sorcery, and read spells, and gazed at the sand, until it said, "There is an ancient woman, mistress of all the daughters of the jinns, who is sick and ill. Nevertheless, I will bring her, for she may know where this island of Waqwaq may be found, and where your wife Light-of-Morning is." So, by sorcery he brought her, and the ancient crone stood before them. They told her what they required of her, and she replied, "Yes, a long time ago, I heard there was a land of that name beyond seven seas, and that a boat comes and goes there once a year, but I do not know how to get to it." The Hasan cried, "O, ancient lady, I want Light-ofMorning, daughter of king Shahzaban and if all the daughters of the jinns are beneath your hand, order them all to come so that I may take my wife from among them." She said, "If you disguise yourself as a woman, and put on a cloak and veil and sit beside me in the desert, I will do what you ask." So Hasan cloaked and veiled himself and sat by the crone in the desert, and she said, "I will summon them all, and you shall tell me which one is Light-of-Morning." Then she summoned them, and the daughters of the jinns came and began to pass before them, row after row, all that day and all that night and the next day and the next night. As they passed, they called to the crone, "Who is that woman who sits with you? We do not know her." She answered, "She is my friend." And among the daughters of the jinns who passed were Hasan's three sisters, but they did not know him. The sisters of Light-ofMorning passed also, but not Light-of-Morning, because she was bound by her hair to the palm tree in Shahzaban's garden, and could not obey



the summons. The old woman asked Hasan, "Is it not that one? O r any of these?" H e answered, "She is not here." A t the end of the third night the old woman said, "There can be no more, for all have passed now." He thanked her and walked out into the desert alone, saying, "Either I will get her, or I will die." A n d he walked and walked— meshi, meshi, meshi—until he came to a place where he saw two men fighting and quarreling. H e went to them, and said, "Peace be upon you. W h y are you fighting?" They answered, " O u r father died and left us to a treasure of a little cap, a carpet, and a stick, and we are quarreling about how we shall divide our inheritance." Hasan began to laugh, and said, "That is not a big inheritance, and you fight about it!" They said, "But whoever puts on this cap (taqiyd) becomes invisible, and as for the carpet, if it is beaten with the stick, it will carry one wherever one desires, even over seven seas!" When he heard this, Hasan said, "I will settle your dispute. I will throw this stone as far as I can, and whoever of you two reaches it first, shall have the whole inheritance." The brothers agreed, and taking a stone, he threw is as hard as he could. The brothers started to run, and Hasan put on the cap while they ran and stood on and beat the carpet, so that it rose in the air. Then the brothers looked around and did not see him. "Where has that man gone?" they cried but Hasan had told the carpet to fly over seven seas to the castle of Shahzaban in the island of Waqwaq, and it carried him through the air. Hasan thanked Allah, who had sent him this chance, and—f-r-r-r-r\—the carpet flew and soon came down in the castle of Shahzaban. Because he was wearing the cap, no one saw him, and he walked through the castle and into the garden. There, he was astounded to see large fruit trees, bearing—instead of fruit—sweet-faced girls, with golden hair and blue eyes, all chanting, Waq-waq\ Subhan al malak al Khallaql Waq-waq\ Glory to the Lord the Creator! Then he perceived his wife, Light-of-Morning, tied to the palm tree by her long hair, and nearby, his two sons playing together. He said no word, but remained watching her, until, since it was morning,



the servant came bearing the bowl of water and a loaf of bread and a stick. When he had set the bread and water by her, he beat her, and went. Then Light-of-Morning broke the bread into three portions, and gave her sons two, eating the third herself. A t this, Hasan lifted a corner of his cap from his head for a second, and his sons saw him, and began to cry, " Baba! Baba! (Father! Father!) Mother, there is our father!" Their mother reproved them, saying, "Be silent! If they hear you, they will kill you! H o w can your father be here in the country of the jinnsl Be silent, m y unhappy children, be silent. It is only your imagination, for y o u did not see your father." But the boys persisted, saying, " Suduq (truly), we saw him." The Hasan lifted his cap again, and a second time the children cried for joy, " Baba\ Baba\ It is in truth our father!' Their mother chided them. Then Hasan t o o k off his cap and showed himself to Light-of-Morning, and embraced her and his children. What joy there was! Light-of-Morning asked him, " H o w did y o u come! H o w bold to come here! I fear for you!" H e answered, " D o not fear, for tonight I shall take y o u to the house of m y youngest brother." She said, "Be silent! We may be overheard, and m y sisters will kill y o u when they k n o w that y o u are here! Be silent!" But he said, " D o not fear. T h e y will not be able to touch me. O n l y wait until nightfall, and permit me to play a little with your father's head and make him laugh, and y o u and m y children shall come with me." Then he went to the kitchen, where they were preparing the king's dinner, and, taking up a large tray of f o o d and rice, he carried it to his wife and made them eat. The cook looked at the place where he had set the tray, and it was empty. H e looked here, and he looked there, and the f o o d was gone. H e said, "Who has the audacity to steal the king's food?" So, he prepared some more. Then Hasan went to the king's diwan, and when king Shahzaban began to eat, he seized each mouthful as it went to his mouth, so that the king ate nothing but air. T h e king could not understand it and cried, "Who is it that takes the f o o d f r o m m y mouth? W h o is there beside me?" T h e y answered, "There is no one. Maybe Y o u r Majesty is ill." H e said, " N o , but a moment ago there were t w o lemons and t w o oranges on this plate, and I have eaten one lemon and one orange, but



now the plate is empty! See who is in the room." They answered, "You must be mad! There is no one here." But as he ordered, they searched the room and found no one. Having dined with the king, Hasan waited until everyone in the palace was asleep, and then he unfastened his wife from the tree, placed her and their children and himself on the carpet, struck it with the stick, and they flew, and flew, until they descended on the house of the youngest jinn brother. When he saw him and his wife and family, the youngest brother was amazed and said, "My brother! You have returned and succeeded! For the sake of Allah, how was it? {Khatr Allah, Shlon?)" Hasan told the youngest brother how it had happened, and the youngest brother said to him, "Give me that cap! I ask it of you." Hasan answered, "Mamnunl (gladly!)" And he gave it to him. Meanwhile, when morning came and he perceived that his daughter was gone, King Shahzaban said, "Now I know that there was someone with us last night. It was the human being, and he has stolen my daughter." So he found out by magic where they were, and sent a mighty army of soldiers to surround the castle of the youngest brother. When Hasan was taking his leave, he looked down from the castle, and he saw an army, soldiers like ants, all around the place. He struck with his stick on the ground, and a black slave instantly appeared, saying, Labbeik, labbeik, Ana 'abidbeyn ideikl Utlub u temenna. And he said, "I want an army of soldiers that is twice as large as this army that Shahzaban has sent against me, and I want them to kill all these soldiers here." Di-di-di\ An immense army appeared, and began to kill the other army until every soldier that King Shahzaban had sent was dead. Then Hasan and his wife and sons sat on the carpet, said farewell to the youngest brother, and flew for three days and three nights until they reached the house of the middle brother, the king of the eagles. Here, too, he was welcomed, and told the story of his success. When he had finished his story, the second brother said, "Give me the carpet! I ask it



of you." H e answered, "Willingly!" Then he rubbed the hairs of the daughters of the jinns, and summoned his flying mare, and sat down on her, and—f-r-r-r-r\—they all flew to the house of the eldest brother, where it happened as it had happened in the house of the last. When he said farewell, the eldest brother said, "Give me the stick! I ask it of you." H e answered, "Willingly!" And he flew on to the castle of the jinn sisters. The mare flew on to the roof with them, and the sisters asked, "Who comes to our house?" Hasan answered, "It is your brother, Hasan of Basra, and I have with me Light-of-Morning and my sons!" They said, "Ahlan wa sahlanl Welcome, our brother!" They kissed him, and all of them, and asked how they came, and rejoiced and had a feast. Here they stayed a week, and then Hasan said that he must go to Basra to see his mother. When he left, each sister gave him a hair from her head, saying, "If you need us, rub these and we will come." The eldest gave him her ring, and told him to turn it, and a slave would appear to do his bidding. Lastly, they bade him take what he wanted of the precious stones in the house, saying, Khafif al himl Ghali al thamin! Light to carry, precious in value!

Then, laden with their gifts, Hasan and his wife and children set off for Basra. They had only gone a little way before he saw a man and a lad on the road, and perceived that the man was the Jewish silversmith, who had played him the sorry trick years ago. H e returned at once to the castle, and calling the sisters, he said to them, "I have seen that dog, that unclean person, that Jew who left me on the mountain! H e has a boy with him, and I do not doubt that he plans to do with him as he did with me." The sisters said, "Kill him. We will give you a pistol." But he answered, " N o , I will serve him his just deserts." And he returned. The Jew was already busy cutting up the sheep he had bought, and Hasan called aside the lad, and said to him, "The Jew will do so-and-so. N o w , when he tells you to get into the skin, pretend to be frightened and ask



him to get into the skin to show you that it will not harm you. When he is inside, sew him in." The boy said he would do so. When the Jew looked up from the sheep, he said to the boy, "Who was that man you were talking to? He is like a lad I knew once." The boy answered, "There may be many who resemble one another. This man is a stranger." Then he did as Hasan had said, and said, "I am frightened to get into the skin. You go in first." The Jew said, "You are foolish! It is nothing. T o please you, I will get into the skin." And he got in, and the boy began to sew him in. The Jew cried out, "Do not sew me in!" The boy said, "Stay there a little," and he did not stop sewing until the Jew was sewn fast inside the sheep. Then the eagle came down, and lifted the sheep in his beak and threw him upon the mountain. When the Jew came out, Hasan called to him, "Do you not know me? I am Hasan of Basra, whom you left on the mountain. Now it is your turn, and you shall die the same death that you served out to me and others!" Then the Jew said, "May Allah keep you! Let me come down by the way that you escaped." But Hasan said, "Throw down the precious stones." The Jew threw down diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and pearls, and all the while he begged for his life, saying, "Just teach me how to descend as you descended!" But when Hasan had enough, he said to the Jew, "I will not show you how to descend. Remain there, and sleep with those who sleep behind you. As for me, I shall go to Basra and will destroy your house and kindred!" Then he gave the jewels to the lad, and they all went riding until they reached Basra. When he approached his house, he saw his mother weeping, for she had thought him dead. How happy she was! She greeted him, "O, my son! Where have you been? I have mourned you as dead!" She received him and wife and children with joy, great joy, and she and they were together. Now it came to the ears of the Khalifa that Hasan of Basra and his beautiful wife, Light-of-Morning, had returned, and he sent one day to Hasan's house, saying, "Divorce your wife, for I wish her sent to my house at once." Then Hasan turned the ring that the eldest daughter of thejinns had given him, and the black slave appeared, saying, Labbeik, labbeik



Ana 'abidbeyn ideikl Utlub u temenna! Hasan said, "Fetch my eldest brother, the jinn." And in one instant he was there. Hasan told him what the Khalifa had asked of him, and asked him to help him. The jinn said, "Mamnunl (gladly!)" He went to the palace and appeared to the Khalifa and said, "We are three brothers and three sisters, children of the jinns, and Hasan is our brother. Leave him and his family in peace, or I shall blow fire on you and you and your house will be utterly destroyed, and you will become ashes!" The Khalifa said, "Pardon! Pardon! I will do nothing to harm Hasan. I did not know that he was brother to the jinns." But Hasan would stay no longer in Basra after that. He summoned the second brother before he left the town, and ordered him to utterly destroy the relations of the Jewish silversmith. When they were all dead, he gave the Jew's house and all his wealth to the apprentice whom he had saved from death. Then he, his mother, Light-of-Morning, and their two children mounted the flying mare, and left Basra forever, and went to live for the future with their sisters, the daughters of the jinns, in their castle. Wa lo beytna qarib Kunt ajiblak tubeg hummus wa tubegazbib\ And if our house was near, I would bring you a dish of peas and a dish of raisins!30

30 The protagonist of this story seems to be the well known 8th century Sufi master Hasan of Basra. Drower refers to the Arabian Nights—and to European writers commenting on the stories—regarding the Island of Waqwaq and the miraculous creatures there, including the women growing like fruit from the trees, hanging by their hair.

14 T H E GIRL AND THE R A T T o l d by a Kurdish girl. March 1931, Baghdad There was once an old w o m a n who had three daughters. T h e y were very poor, and every day the girls spun wool, and t o o k it to the suq. With the money they earned, they bought bread. This was their livelihood. O n e day the youngest t o o k her wool to the suq to sell it. She sold it, and when she had the money in her hand, she saw a pretty rat. She bought it for the money she should have spent on food, and when she returned, her mother began to scold her, saying, "What shall we eat today? We have to fast because y o u bought this rat!" The girl answered, " W a l l a h \ (By God!) M y mother, I loved the rat, and I bought it!" T h e y went hungry that day, and when night came, they slept. T h e rat slept beside its mistress, the girl. T h e next morning she looked, and saw beside her bed pearls and gold. She was delighted and told the good news to her mother. T h e y went to the suq and bought bread, oil, rice, and meat, and everything they needed, and were very happy. N o w an old w o m a n who was their neighbor came into their house and saw the pearls and gold and said to herself, "Where did these p o o r people get their wealth?" A n d she went and informed the Sultan, saying, "These are poor people, and up till now they have not had enough to nourish themselves, and now they are rich!" T h e Sultan sent soldiers and went to the house of the woman and her daughters and said, "What do y o u have here?" T h e y replied, "We have a rat—nothing else. H e is the cause of our good fortune." T h e soldiers seized the rat and t o o k it to the Sultan's house. There, the rat gave out a horrible stench and they were forced to kill it. N o w the youngest daughter wept every day over the loss of her rat, and she went to the Sultan's house to beg that she might see it. She saw the dead b o d y of the rat lying near the gate, and they told her, "It smelled badly, so we killed it and threw it out."




The girl picked it up, and took it home with her, and buried it in their courtyard. A palm tree came up out of its grave. The leaves were emerald, and the dates {ham) of pearl. The old woman who was their neighbor saw the tree and went to tell the Sultan. The Sultan sent his soldiers to pull up the tree and take it to the Sultan's house. They came, trying to uproot it, but it would not allow them, and although they tried and tried, they could not stir it from its place, for it was the girl's luck (hadhah). They returned to the sultan and said, "We cannot uproot it!" H e said, "Cut it down," and they tried, but it was so hard that they could not. They returned to tell the Sultan, and they said to him, "Why not take the girl, and the tree with her?" The Sultan took their advice, and married the girl, and the day that the bride moved from her house to his, the tree went by itself and followed her.

15 H o w THE ALL-POWERFUL YIELDED A HUNDREDFOLD Language: English Narrator: an Englishman who had it from a Shi'a Baghdadi There was once a man, a good Sunni, who attended Friday prayers, and heard a khotba (sermon) from an earnest mullah, in which the congregation was exhorted eloquently to give freely to the poor in the name of the All-Merciful, the Compassionate, for He would reward the charitable by repaying their gift a hundredfold. The man said to himself, "A hundredfold! That is high interest, indeed!" When he left the mosque, he took out his purse, and, counting all that was in it (ten dinars), he gave it to the beggars who sat at the door. The next day he looked in his purse, but it was empty, and so was his stomach, for he had nothing to buy food for. The next day also, he looked in his purse, and there was nothing in it, as before, and he was in dire straits from hunger and thirst. So he went out into the countryside, and finding running water beneath some trees, he drank of Allah's free gift to man, and composed himself to sleep in the shade. But just as he had laid down, he heard a step approach, and peeping through the leaves of a bush, he saw a darwish. When the darwish had drunk, he took some of the mud from the stream and began to fashion little images of clay and set them up before him, all in a row. When he had finished, he looked at his handiwork, and taking up one of the images, he began to address it as if it was the nebi (prophet) Adam. The darwish said, "Oh, Father Adam, great is your guilt, for you are of those who listen to the words of women. Had you not listened to the guile of your accursed wife, the Mother of All that live, mankind would still be in the earthly paradise." And he took up the image, struck off its head, and cast it into the water. Then he took up another, and calling it "Father Noah", he began to talk to it in the same manner, "Oh, Father Noah, if it was not for you and your ark, the whole 441



miserable race of mankind would long since have been drowned and left none to propagate their kind. Had you not interfered, what misery could have been avoided! A curse on you and your children!" And he knocked off the head of that image, too, and cast in into the water. Then he took a third, and said, "Father Abraham! Y o u also deserve blame. Could you not content yourself with one good son, but had to beget another in your dotage? From him sprang the accursed race of Jews, which has plagued the world ever since by their usury and love of gain!" And he took him up and did with him as he had done with the others. And so he did with the other nebis—Moses, Al Khidr (Elijah), Issa (Jesus), and the rest—cursing each in turn for the evils that he asserted they had brought on mankind. Finally, he took up an image and addressed it by the name of the Rasul Allah Muhammad (God's messenger Mohammed)—upon him be prayer and praise! But when he began with such impious words, to curse the prophet of God, the Sunni could not endure it any longer, but springing from behind the bush, he fell on the darwish and dispatched him with his dagger. Then, he cut off his head and cast it into the stream, as the darwish had cast the heads of the clay images. When he had done so, he started to examine the pockets of the dead man, and in them he found a thousand dinars. In this way Allah rewarded his charity and his piety, and so the man received the hundred percent, which he had been promised. 31

31 Drower notes that this story is found, though in a different form, in Edward Browne, A Year Amongst the Persians. A similar story occurs as "The Idiot Boy Who Became King," in D. L. R. Lorimer and E. O Lorimer, Persian Tales.

16 THE APPEARANCE OF THE WHITE CAT When we lived in al-Amara my father had a little island opposite his house. Nowadays houses have been built on it, but then it was covered with grass, and my father, who loved to sit on grass beside water, was fond of sitting on the island.32 There came one day to al-Amara a darwish from Fas u Miknas ("hatchet and broom"), and he was a great friend of Sheikh Mohi, my uncle, Sheikh Joda's brother. Sheikh Mohi was an enlightened man. And that darwish—if only you had seen him! For he was not like other men; he was a greybeard, wise, a nurani (illuminated soul), and instructed. The darwish asked, "To whom does this island belong?" They told him, "It belongs to the Mulla Khidr," for so the Arabs called my father, as a nickname: his actual lay name was Mulla Khatell. Yes, Mulla Khatell was my father's worldly name, but his baptismal name was Mhattam Yuhana bar Sharat Simat, the latter being his mother's name. For horoscopes we use the baptismal name, "so-and-so, son of his mother," but if a man signs a document, he uses his worldly name.33 Then the darwish went to his friend, my uncle Sheikh Mohi. Sheikh Mohi was very fond of him, although he did not know his sect—only that he was a holy man. The darwish said to him, "I should like to build myself a place on the island near your people, for I want a pure place in which to worship God—a place near running water, where I can dwell among the trees and the grass." Sheikh Mohi replied to him, " N o doubt, if you go to my kinsman, Mulla Khidr, and ask him, he will like you and give you permission to settle on his island." 32

This story was related to Drawer by a son of Mulla Khidr. For a story about Sheikh Mohi (who is mentioned here), see J. J. Buckley, TheMandaeans. Ancient Texts and Modern People, 31-32. 33 For the complexities of Mandaean names, see J. J. Buckley, The Great Stem ofSouls: Reconstructing Mandaean History, 4-7. 443



In those days the people of al-Amara built their houses of reeds and not of brick. The darwish came to my father one Sunday. My father was wearing his rasta, in which he prayed. It was his custom to wear white always, and nothing but white. In winter he wore white wool and in summer white cotton or linen. When the darwish came to my father, he kissed his hand and began to weep. My father was tenderhearted and could not bear to see anyone weep, and he was fond of good people. The darwish said to him, "There are people in Fas u Miknas who wear white clothes like those you are wearing, and they are called Nasurai.34 Are you of those Nasurai?" My father replied, "Yes, I am of the Nasurai." He was delighted to hear that the darwish had seen some of our people in his country, and said to him, "Tell me, are there many Nasurai in Fas u Miknas?" The darwish replied, "There are many, but they keep their houses and families apart and do not mix with other people, and all wear this dress that you are wearing—they will wear no other." He said, "The governor of Fas u Miknas was very wealthy and clever, possessing much property and much learning. He frequented very much the society of learned men of all religions, but whoever it was who visited him, he always spoke with him, denying Allah, and saying that Allah had no existence." My father was interested in talking to the darwish, and he built a very pleasant house for him on the island, amidst the grass. It was a very clean place, for we love cleanliness. Then he asked the darwish to tell him more about the governor of Fas u Miknas. The darwish told him that the governor and his learned men influenced the people of the place so that they all began to deny God. One day the governor was sleeping, and the hour was about fourteen and the moon was bright when he was awakened by a noise, like knocking, on his door. He looked, and he saw a white cat sitting beside him. He said, "Psss-sssl" to the cat, but it did not move. Then he threw his stick at it, but it did not go. His wife heard this and rose, disturbed by the noise. She said, "What is it?" And she saw her husband gazing at


The learned people among the Mandaeans.



the cat as if he had gone mad. The woman said to him, "Why are you afraid? Hit it on the head and it will die!" The governor seized a chamagh (a rough stick) and hit it on the head. The cat died, and then—they saw it sitting beside them again. The woman ran away in a fright and her little boy with her, and the man began to shout, "Come to me! Come to me!" Neighbors and friends came in answer to his cries, and he said to them, "That is not a cat! That is not a cat!" They said, "It is only a cat; why are you afraid of it?" One of them, an Arab, had brought a gun and a sword with him, thinking that the governor had been attacked by thieves, and had rushed in saying, "What is it, master, what is it?" The governor said to them, "This cat, the more I kill it, the more it remains alive! That is the cause of my fright." The Arab said, "A cat! H o w could it remain living when dead?" And he drew his sword and cut off its head and chopped it up into little pieces. They buried it in the garden. The governor and his wife took refuge in a neighboring house, but after they had sat there four minutes, the governor looked, and the cat was beside him! They fled out again. As for the Arab who had killed the cat, he went to his house, and the cat suddenly appeared before him and seized his wife with its teeth. She screamed with terror and all the people were afraid, as the cat constantly made an appearance among them. They said, "What is it? What can it be?" As for the governor, the cat sat in his house from eight at night until the day dawned, and he had no rest or peace. If he fled to the house of a neighbor, the cat followed him. It appeared in many houses, and by night it scratched the faces of those who were sleeping and gave them fever. The governor said to the people, "Search, look, go to those who are wise and find us a deliverance from this pest!" They went to an old man skilled in exorcism and he said, "What is this? Why are you afraid? This is a spirit and if I exorcise it, it will go!" The governor said, "Whatever you wish I will give you, if only you will rid us of this cat!" The wise man went to the governor's house, bringing incense with him, and read spells there from twelve until sunset, and with him he brought five other ulema (learned Muslim men) who read spells with him. They remained there reading until it was eight o'clock at



night. T h e governor sat on a neighboring roof t o watch, and the exorcists were in the courtyard of his house. At eight, the governor said t o them, "See! It has come!" T h e wise man said, "It has come! H a ! " A n d he t o o k his sword and began t o read spells, then struck at the cat. But as often as he killed it, it appeared before him whole and unhurt. H e read spells and struck at it, but at last he became afraid and fled, and the governor fled, too. All said, "What can this mean?" After that, whenever a person struck it, the cat flew at him and half strangled him. Spells, knowledge, nothing could lay the cat. It had on its head a crest like a hoopoe, 3 5 and people used to cry, " T h e Father-of-a-crest (Abu'l Weysha) has come!" A n d they were all crazy with fear. T h e wise men of the Sikhs and of other religions—the R a m r a m 3 6 , and others—tried according t o their own methods to exorcise the cat and kill it. But it was in vain, and n o one could sleep. At last, the governor went to the old ganzovra (high priest) of the Mandai (Mandaeans). H e went one Sunday, he and his ministers, and wise men (those who denied G o d ) were with him. T h e y came to the ganzovra's diwan (sitting room) and saluted him. T h e ganzovra said t o them, "Why do y o u deny G o d , the One? H o w can y o u deny H i m ? " T h e risk ama37 said, " Y o u have n o understanding, y o u and your ruler! H o w can there be no G o d ? If a man were the arbiter of his own fate, would he die? Y o u must undoubtedly acknowledge that there is a god w h o gives life and death!" Then the ganzovra asked them. " D i d y o u kill the cat?" T h e y said, "Yes." T h e ganzovra said, "Allah had issued no decree that it should die, and so it lives. W h y do y o u declare that there is n o G o d when G o d has the sovereignty of life and death in his hands? Y o u must all confess this, all of you, men and women, old men and children, great and small!" T h e governor said, "I have sinned greatly! M y trespass is great, for I was the cause of the unbelief of the ulema, and the people followed

A bird. Uncertain meaning. 37 The ganzovra is "the head of the people," a title for the highest Mandaean priestly status. 35 36



them. O ganzovra! We believe now! There is no escape f r o m the belief in G o d ! But, by your favor, remove this cat f r o m me! Let it depart f r o m me and f r o m m y relatives and friends. If y o u will do this, I will give y o u whatever y o u ask." T h e ganzovra said, "I do not wish money; I shall be glad to attack the cat!" A n d he sent a yalufa (a learned layman) with the governor t o read an exorcism over the cat and t o tell him what the cat said. T h e yalufa and the governor and those with him went to the governor's house and opened the door. Inside, they saw a man dressed like an Arab, wearing a keffiyeh and agal,38 walking in the courtyard. T h e y asked him, "What business do y o u have here?" H e replied, " I ' m an Arab. A n d you, what is your business here?" T h e governor said, "This is m y place, but y o u have come in without permission. What are y o u doing here?" O n e of the ulema gave the man a push t o send him outside, but as soon as he touched him, he was thrown to the ground. O n e after another tried to push the A r a b out, but one after another, they fell. Then the yalufa smiled, and, addressing the man, said, " D o not throw me!" T h e people gazed at the head of the Arab, for his keffiyeh had come off, and they cried, " H e is the Father-of-a-crest, he is the Father-of-acrest!" T h e A r a b said t o the yalufa, "Why did the governor send y o u here? I wish to do these people harm. Let the ganzovra himself come and speak with m e . " T h e yalufa said, " T h e ganzovra gave me an incantation, and if I read it over you, y o u will be forced to depart!" T h e A r a b said, "Never! N o incantation or exorcism will force me to leave! C u t m y head off and I shall still remain upright! But let the ganzovra come, and I will deal with h i m . " T h e yalufa returned to the ganzovra and told him what the creature had said. T h e ganzovra said, "That spirit is of Sin (i.e., the moon). I will go to h i m . " A t eleven on Sunday he went to the governor's house, taking with him his daughter, w h o wished t o see the spirit. T h e y entered and the spirit immediately appeared before them. T h e ganzovra saluted it, saying, " Soth havilakh, ya melka\" ( G o o d evening, oh King!). T h e melka (i.e., the spirit) replied, " Suwath ad Haiyi


The traditional headgear, with a twirled rope to keep it in place.



havilakh, ya ganzovral" (May G o d bless you, oh ganzovra?) T h e ganzovra was extremely glad that the spirit had returned his salutation, because having done so, he could do them no harm. H e asked, " W h y do y o u hurt these people?" T h e spirit replied, "I was sent f r o m on high." T h e ganzovra said, " F r o m where?" T h e other replied, " F r o m above, f r o m malkuta elayta, the Elevated Kingliness." T h e ganzovra said, " B y whose power are y o u killed and yet live?" T h e spirit replied, " H o w can I tell y o u this? H o w can I reveal the incantation t o you? Y o u are a man w h o knows! It is a secret and I m a y not divulge it." T h e ganzovra asked, " W h y do y o u harm these people by night and by day?" T h e spirit replied, "I owe allegiance and obedience to Sin, and it was Sin w h o sent me down t o these people, for darkness is upon them." T h e ganzovra said, "If they return to their worship of G o d , do not let Y o u r H o n o r harm them anymore! F o r they have already ceased to deny G o d . " T h e spirit said, "I am here! A n d if I see that the governor and his people worship G o d , I shall not harm them anymore." T h e ganzovra returned and told the governor and the people. All began worshipping G o d : y o u n g men, old men, w o m e n and children, crying, "We repent! Mercy and forgiveness!" T h e y were glad, and their hearts rejoiced to be free of the cat. But if a person w o k e suddenly f r o m sleep in the night, they said to him, "Rise and pray, so that the Father-of-a-crest may not come!" All prayed, each according to his rite. What a j o y there was! As for the ganzovra and the Mandaeans, they prayed according to their custom three times a day. A t night we do not pray, because prayer does not pass in the darkness, the darkness being the realm of the Spirits of Darkness. O n l y at one season do we pray night and day, and that is the Panja, when the gates of heaven are open b y night as well as b y day. 3 9


Panja is the five-day intercalary period in the Mandaean year.

17 ALLAH MAKU (THERE IS N O G O D ) There was once a darwish who had studied long and read many writings and learned many crafts. He was skilled as a silversmith, as a worker of iron, as a carpenter and as a tailor. As for his learning, he had read all the writings and had studied many religions and had read the sacred books of many faiths in many languages. Yes, he could read them all! Moreover, he was a ruler of men. But the more he knew, the less he believed in God. He became wearied of knowledge and of power and so he put on a woolen robe and became a darwish.40 He took his bowl, and, leaving his kingdom behind him, he set out into the world on foot. In the course of his wanderings, he came to a mountain, and near it, he encountered a graybeard, who had built himself a hut near a spring of water that came falling from the height of the mountain. As soon as the darwish saw the old hermit, he perceived that he was a wise man, and his heart loved him. That night, he was the hermit's guest, and when he woke in the morning, about dawn, he watched him go to the spring of water, put on his rasta,41 make his ablutions (rishama) in the water and pray. N o w that darwish had seen many wise men, and men who professed to be religious, but he had never liked them as he liked this old man. He had talked with them, but he had always said to himself, "What they tell me is lies and deception—there is nothing in it." But his heart was moved by this old man, and the hermit liked to have him near him and to converse with him. So the darwish continued to remain there with him. One day the darwish said to the hermit, "Until now, I have scorned and laughed at all those I have seen praying." The hermit said,


A poor wanderer often endowed with—or seeking—supernatural pow-


The Mandaean white ritual dress.





"Why so? Why did you laugh at them?" The darwish replied, "Because they do not see that to which they pray. I despise such men. As for me, I say that there is nothing to which man can pray." The hermit, who was a Nasurai (a learned Mandaean), answered him nothing. But when the darwish sat behind him at the hour when the old man prayed—and he prayed gazing in the direction of Awathur (i.e., to the north) and facing his little hut—the darwish thought he perceived, standing before them, something resembling a figure of light. The hermit prayed three times a day: at daybreak, a noon, and before sunset, and each time this appearance seemed to come before him. After the evening prayer the darwish said to the hermit, "I wish to ask you something." The hermit said, "Ask!" The darwish said, "When you pray, do you see something which you are certain is real?" The hermit said to him, "If Mara d-Rabutha42 wishes to give a man certainty, he reveals himself to him; and if he does not wish to do so, he will leave a man in ignorance." The darwish said, "I have searched much and grown weary in seeking. I have read many writings and learned sciences and crafts, but I have learned or seen nothing that gives me certainty of God, or of the existence of God. Instead of faith, I have gained weariness!" The hermit said to him, "If a man is wise, it is not from outside that true knowledge will come to him, but from within. You have been following the ways of darkness, and cannot learn the truths of light. The doors of knowledge are locked to you. You must not d e n y that is the way of darkness, and your soul cannot learn. First believe that knowledge and life are in the hands of the Lord of Light. Confess the Light and you will see! The World of Light and the Lord of Light do not love those who are not good men. To one who seeks and prays, the Lord of Light will open a Way. If you wish to pray and reach the Light, it is listening—for it loves you, and all the Beings of Light lean down to listen to you. But they cannot help those who make no effort to reach them. When you said, 'Maku!' ('there is not!'), great darkness envelops you, and you become like the animals. Neither joy nor satis-


"Lord of Greatness," a supreme being in Mandaeism.



faction nor peace can be yours, and your thoughts can only be of gloom." The darwish answered, "As soon as I approached you, my heart went out to you. Your words make an impression on my mind." The hermit replied, "You must seek faith, not repel it!" The darwish said, "I feel a difference already, and I will obey you and place myself under your direction. Then, perhaps, I may begin to attain certainty." As they conversed together, they looked up and saw a large bird hovering over the mountain. It was a beautiful bird with green iridescent plumage and red legs. Its eyes were human in appearance, and the darwish looked and admired the bird, and his spirit yearned to embrace it and seize it. He went softly, nearer and nearer, and at last seized its legs. As soon as he had grasped it, he found that his fingers would not unclasp themselves, and the bird rose in the air and the darwish with it. As it flew with him, the bird bent its head and looked at the darwish, who cried, "I am your suppliant! I confess that there is the Life and there is My Lord, and there is Manda d-Hiia!" 43 When he had made this confession, the 'utri (Beings of Light) with the sun appeared to him, and when he saw them, he began to weep and repent of his unbelief and obstinacy. The bird gazed at him and said, "If you had denied for just another month, you would have belonged to the world of darkness altogether. But God put this old hermit in your path, and through him you have been saved." Then the bird descended with the darwish and flew with him down toward an ancient castle set on a rock in the midst of the sea. N o w this castle, which had been uninhabited for many years, had in the old times been a place of worship belonging to the Nasurai, and their writings and inscriptions were on the walls. The castle was in the dominion of a Sultan of the West, and he was an infidel. He had had eight sons who had never been permitted to live beyond the age of fourteen, for as soon as they had attained their fourteenth year, a lion or panther appeared and seized them and killed them. Though they remained in the palace and there were guards 43 Manda d-Hiia ("Knowledge-of-Life") is one of the chief Mandaean Beings of Light, a messenger from the World of Light.



around it, a wild beast contrived to penetrate and to slay them. Eight sons had died in this way—there was no escape! For the Sultan was an infidel. His wife came to him shortly before the fourteenth birthday of the ninth son, and said to him, "This evil fate comes upon us because you deny God. How else would it be possible for wild beasts to pass the sentinels and come through the town unhurt in order to destroy our sons? This is of God, and it happens because of your unbelief. Say, 'There is a God' and perhaps it will avert this fate, for we have only one son, the last of nine, remaining to us! It cannot hurt you to say this, and we will send our son, meanwhile, to that place which belonged to the Nasurai, where they used to worship. It is in the midst of the sea, and perhaps there he may live." The Sultan said to her, "Do not be anxious!" And in order to pacify her, he said, "There is a God!" But he thought to himself, "It is a lie!" So they took their boy to the sea-castle, saying to him, "Here no wolf or lion or leopard can eat you!" The Sultan comforted his wife, "Here our son is in the midst of the sea, and no wild beast can possibly reach him. So fear no longer!" But the wife pleaded with her lord, saying, "Only say, 'There is!'" The Sultan said, "There is not—where is the difference? I have done my work well, and our boy is protected by the sea." Then, when they had brought food and bedding and carpets, they left the boy there with an old slave to look after him, and went away in a boat. Now the castle had been deserted for a long time, and was never visited except by the curious, for it was ancient and stood on a high rock in the belly of the sea. It was built of stone and the rooms were lofty. The Nasurai had built it so that they might be far from the noise of the world and be able to listen to the voice of the 'utri in the air and the communications of the stars with one another, for the Nasurai in the old times were masters of great knowledge. It was on that rock, and into the courtyard of this castle, that the bird dropped the darwish. When the darwish had his feet on the ground, he found his hands loosened from the bird's legs, so that he stood free. Then the bird flew away, leaving the darwish behind. The darwish looked around him and saw nothing but the wide sea about the rock. Then he entered the castle and began to wander around in it.



At first he saw no one, but he saw signs that it was inhabited, such as food, plates and furnishings. He began to pray, "God the Great, I am in Your hands! What is the meaning of this?" Then he ascended on to the roof, and there he found the young prince sitting with his slave. The boy began to shout with joy, "Welcome! Where do you come from?" The darwish came and sat beside them and they brought him food and water. He ate and drank. When he had done so, he felt weary, and asked permission to sleep. The boy answered, "Please sleep!" When the darwish closed his eyes to sleep, he saw the bird gazing at him and smiling, and he cried to it, "I am your suppliant!" When the boy saw him talking in this way while half asleep, he thought that he must be suffering from a nightmare, and woke him up, saying, "Why does Your Honor talk, and to whom? What did you see?" The darwish said, "I saw a vision and talked with it!" The other two said to him, "That was an illusion (literally: a "smoke," bukhar) in your head." The darwish exclaimed, "Illusion! Not so! I saw with my eyes the bird that brought me here." They said, "Did you not come in a ship?" He said, "No, a bird brought me." The lala (slave, eunuch) and the prince began to smile and to say to each other, "He is mad! His reason is wanting!" And they began to reason with him, saying, "How could that be? You are dreaming! How could a bird have brought you here?" And the more he assured them, the less they believed him, for darkness lay upon their spirits. He could not persuade them; it was useless. The darwish began to laugh heartily, saying to himself, "These are as I once was! I was exactly in their position, and would not believe that which I had seen!" When he laughed that big laugh, the prince said to him, "What makes you laugh so heartily?" The darwish said, "Like you, I am of a kingly race and was a sultan amongst the Iranians, and named Ahriman after the King of Darkness who denies all. Once I was no darwish. I studied deeply and read much. I became proficient in arts and crafts. I acquired much learning and many tongues, and became greatly wearied. At the end of all, like you, I used to say, 'There is no God! Faith is an illusion (bukhar bi ras).' I was as you are." The boy said, "Are you a skilled craftsman?" The darwish replied, "Yes." The boy said to him, "If Your Honor is an usta (craftsman), I want you to make me the image of a lion." The darwish said, "What



will you do with the image of a lion?" The prince said, "I must tell you of the fate that befalls us in our family. My father has had eight sons, and, one after another, they have been slain by a wild beast. No matter how closely they have been guarded, a wild beast has obtained access to them and killed them. Now, at the approach of my fourteenth birthday, my father has put me and this old man in this castle, so that no lion or other beast may reach us. I ask you now to make me the image on a lion so that I can see what it looks like, for I have never seen one." The darwish consented, and asked them to bring wax. Now they had brought many wax candles with them, and the lala went and brought many of these yellow candles. The darwish took them and melted them, and then he began to mould the wax into the model of a lion—body, legs and head. Life-size he made it, and reddened the eyes, and lo! It was exactly like a lion! The boy watched and admired the work, saying, "What a craftsman!" The darwish completed and perfected it—hair, mane, tail and all. The boy gazed and said, "Is it finished?" "Yes," said the darwish, "finished completely." The boy, his slave and the darwish sat down and looked at it, the boy directly in the middle, before the lion. As they were contemplating it, behold, the hair of the lion began to quiver and his eyes to move! The boy was afraid; his heart was terrified. He cried, "What is this? His tail, his eyes are moving! He is of wax and yet he moves!" (At this point the story teller says to Drower: "Lady, all at once the lion walked! He wanted to eat the boy!") The darwish who had made it leapt from his place, crying, "Ya, Hiwel Ziwa!" 44 And he seized the lion, which became wax again and returned to its lifeless condition. The boy cried, "Take it away! Take it away! Melt it! Destroy it! I am afraid!" He trembled and his cheeks were yellow from fright, while the lala had fainted away. The darwish said, "Yes, I will melt it and destroy it, but do you see what God can do—and you said there was no God!"


Another one of the Mandaean Beings of Light.



Now the boy's father, the Sultan, had seen in a dream, the previous night, the darwish being borne in the air by the great bird. He had seen that bird descend upon the rock and had watched the doings of the darwish. He had seen the darwish fashion the lion, and had seen all that happened until the moment when the darwish had rescued his son. Then he woke and roused his wife, saying, "I have seen a strange thing!" And he recounted his dream, saying, "I saw it as plainly as if it had been real. I will go to the castle and, if what I saw in my dream has really taken place, I will confess that God exists. If not, I will remain in my unbelief." The two, the Sultan and his wife, crossed the sea in a baggarah (sailboat) and reached the castle. They entered it, the Sultan and his wife, and the prince came and kissed his father. The Sultan saw that the darwish was exactly as he had seen him in his dream, and knew that a part of his vision was true. The wife saw the man and said to her husband, "Where did this darwish come from? Is this not a fulfillment of your dream? Can you not now say 'there is' and not 'there is not'"? The sultan said to the darwish, "Come, I wish you to tell me how you came here and what happened since you came. Tell me, did a green bird bring you here?" The darwish said, "Yes." The sultan said, "Did Your Honor fashion a lion and then, when it advanced to eat my son, did you rush between him and it and seized it?" The darwish answered, "Yes, I seized it in the name of God and your son was saved." The sultan said, "By what name did you adjure the lion, and did you speak to it?" The darwish replied, "I compelled it by the power and in the name of Hiwel Ziwa." The woman began to cry, "Mercy, O Hiwel Ziwa, mercy, O my little son!" The sultan began to fear and exclaimed, "Until now I have been rebellious! Forgive, O Lord of the two worlds!" The darwish asked permission to sleep, saying, "I wish to sleep a little; will you permit it?" The sultan said, "Yes." The darwish laid down his head and prepared to sleep. Now the air that came to that castle in the midst of the sea was pure and full of ether (ayar). The darwish thought that the bird came to him and said, "Tomorrow at dawn I will come here for you, so prepare to go!" When he awoke from sleep, the sultan said, "Ha! Have you had another inspiration?" The darwish said, "The bird came to me in my



sleep and said, 'I will take you away at dawn, so prepare to depart.'" The sultan said, "If you go with it, we shall seize you and hold you and fly away with you! Let us accompany you!" That night they did not sleep, but spent the time in contemplation and talk and happiness. The darwish told them his whole story, and that he had once been a sultan and became a darwish. He told them where he had wandered, saying, "Like you, I was rebellious and an unbeliever! Then, by the mercy of God, I saw perfectly!" They said, "We can think of nothing but the bird, and how we shall seize it!" The darwish said, "Yes, seize it! By all means, seize it!" The sun rose and the break of day appeared, and they stood waiting and gazing. Lo! The bird flew out of the wilderness. The little mother, the sultan's wife, ran before all of them to the bird, and grasped its legs; the darwish came after and seized her feet, the sultan seized the darwish's feet as he rose; the prince his, and last of all, the slave grasped his young master's. As the bird soared with them all, they were full of joy, and the little mother more than all of them. She cried, "I am your suppliant, little son!" And as they traveled through the air, she cried to her husband, "Never say again, 'There is no God!'" The sultan replied, "Do not utter the word! God exists. God is great!" They flew onward until the bird descended with them near the hermit who lived on the mountain. The bird alighted with them gently, and gazed at the old man, who cried to it, "Take my greeting to the land where you are bound!" Then he saluted those who had come and welcomed them. The woman came and sat at the old man's side and said, "Give my son your protection!" He answered her, "Do not fear! Neither lion, nor leopard, nor wolf can attack your son now. For the cause of your misfortunes was that your hearts were rebellious to God." And all six of them rejoiced greatly. They began to tell the Nasurai all that had happened, and he said, "None must say, 'There is not!' None must say it!" The sultan answered him, "I used to think all was a dream and a delusion, but, when these things happened, I realized my ignorance and confessed that God exists and that there is no escape from Him."



A s f o r the darwish, the sultan, his wife, their son and the slave, they stayed on the m o u n t a i n with the N a s u r a i and believed and in t i m e they became a tribe. 4 5

45 In an unfinished handwritten note Drower adds that the story of the wax lion turned into a live one is dependent on an ancient Egyptian tale of a wax crocodile that came to life.

18 T H E FAITHFUL SLAVE In the time of the Abbasids, there was a certain sultan whose name was Melek Mahmud. H e was childless, but in his old age G o d gave him a boy. T h e sultan made a sirdab (basement room), and a wetnurse was placed with the b o y in the sirdab, for the merchant did not wish people to see the child. H e grew up in the sirdab, and when he was old enough teachers were brought to him t o teach him t o read and write. When the lad had grown, a number of people went to the sultan and said, " O Melek M a h m u d , we hear that y o u have a son. H o w is it that we have never seen him?" Then the sultan issued invitations, and gave a banquet in the garden, and exhibited his son to the people, so that they should k n o w him. T h e next day the b o y said, " W h y should I remain confined t o this place any longer? I wish to see something of the world." So, he went out with his companions, and they made a chalghi (music and song entertainment) in the garden, and sat there, making merry and drinking, without the knowledge of the father. T h e lad returned to his palace very drunk, and going to his mother, he struck her. She knew that he was drunk, and hid him, fearing that the father w o u l d be angry with him. When the sultan entered, he asked, "Where is m y son?" for he was very f o n d of him. T h e mother replied, " H e is not very well; he is in bed." T h e sultan demanded t o see him, and when he went into his son's chamber, he said to him, "What ails you? W h y are y o u sleeping?" T h e youth rose and struck his father, and broke t w o teeth. T h e sultan was very angry, saying, "I must kill him, for he has struck me!" H e drew his sword. T h e mother said, "That would be a sin! W h y should y o u kill him? Let him go out a m o n g the outcasts, but don't bring him down into the dust! (Bil 'arban wa la biattarbari)." T h e sultan let himself be persuaded, but said, "I will leave, for if I see him again I will kill h i m . "




The youth woke from his sleep, and was ashamed. His mother said to him, "See what you have done! You have struck your father, and he will not permit you to remain in the palace any longer." She gave him food, clothes and money, and bade him farewell, and the boy had to depart. He went to the riverside, and saw a ship employed for bringing firewood from the chol (countryside). He hailed it, and said, "Let me come with you! I can help in the ship." The master of the ship said, "Good, come aboard." So! He went with them, and traveled with them from place to place. When they came to a large city, he said, "I will not stay with you any longer. If I stay here, it will be better." So he remained in that city, and entered into service with a man. The man had no son, and soon became so fond of the youth that he said to him, "Remain always with me, be my son, and do not go elsewhere." The youth went every day to the suq with his master, and one morning he saw a female slave (jarid) being sold in the suq. She was very beautiful, and there was no lack of bidders, but whenever a bidder outbid the others, she would not accept him. Her glance fell on the youth, and after three days, she went to him and said, "The auctioneer has tried to sell me these three days, but I will not take service with the purchasers. Can you not buy me?" The youth replied, "I am needy! I have no money. But I will go back and get some and return to you." He returned to his patron and said, "My uncle, give me forty liras." The man said, "What do you want to do with the forty liras, my son?" The youth said, "I have an occasion to buy something," but he did not tell him what it was. The man rose, and got the forty liras and gave them to him. The youth returned to the suq with the money, bought the slave and retuned with her to the house. When he saw her, the master of the house was exceedingly angry, and said, "Is this slave your purchase? When I gave you the money, I thought that you intended to buy merchandise or some useful thing! You are a dissolute youth, and I do not want you anymore!" And he turned the youth and his slave out of the house. The slave comforted the youth, saying, "Do not fear: I am skilled in weaving carpets, and we can keep ourselves on the proceeds of my work." She gave him money to buy her materials for her weaving, and



he went to the suq and bought a loom, thread, wool, and silk. He brought them to the house, and she sat weaving the carpet all night. In the morning, the carpet was finished, and she wrote on it that its price was fifty liras. The youth went with it to the suq, and as the merchants saw that it was good work, he sold it quickly and returned to her. That night she played on her W (a stringed instrument) , and he sang, and they drank wine together, and so the pair passed their time happily. Whenever they needed money, she wove a carpet, and they had no difficulty in disposing of it. Now the girl's name was Mariam, and she was a princess by birth, for her father was a king in the land of Al Hind. She had been stolen from her parents, and taken away to be sold as a slave. Before long, some of her father's people, who had been looking for her, came to Baghdad, and heard how the youth had bought the slave, and they knew that it must be the princess Mariam. They came to the youth, and said, "Sell us the maiden you bought." He said, "Never!" Finding that they could not persuade him, they took recourse to cunning, and invited him one night to a party. When his slave heard it, she was afraid, and said, "Do not sell me to these men!" He replied, "How could I sell you? I will never sell you!" When he arrived at the place of entertainment, the strangers made him drunk, and then asked him, "Will you sell us your slave?" He replied, "I will never sell her." They offered him fifty thousand liras, and sixty thousand liras, but still he would not sell her. All the while they plied him with wine, and offered more and more money for her, until at last, when he was very drunk, he agreed, and sold her to them. They went to the girl, showed her the agreement, and took her with them back to Al Hind. So! When he awoke from his sleep in the morning, he went back and asked the servants, "Where is my wife?" The servants replied, "They came and said you had sold her, and they took her and went." The youth went, and took a ship, and sailed to the city of Bumbai, in the country of Al Hind, and this was where the maiden lived. In the meantime, the king, her father, has sworn an oath that he would kill forty men as a feda'i (ransom) for his daughter, and men were seized by his servants to die as her ransom. The youth contrived to be among the forty, and was taken to the king's palace.



Near the palace he saw the favorite mare of the king, which had become blind in one eye. H e said to his captors, "Let me treat that mare! I have the means to cure her quickly." N o w the mare was much beloved by the king, and instead of killing him, they let him treat the mare, and he cured her completely by putting grass into her eye. 46 H e was not a physician, but Allah gave him the power of healing, and the mare got well quickly. The king was very pleased and said, "I will not kill you, but will put you in my stable as a groom." N o w the princess was to be married the next day according to her father's wish, and as she went to the church, on the eve of her wedding, she heard the youth singing in the stable. She knew his voice at once and said to her people, "I wish to go see the horses. I shall go alone, and I wish all the grooms to go from the stable, except that groom who cured my father's mare." They rose and made all the grooms leave the stable, except the new groom, after they had cleaned the stable well. At sunset she came, and when she saw her husband, she said, "So you came here also! Why did you sell me? I said to you, ' D o not sell me!'" H e asked her pardon, saying, "I was drunk, and did not know what I was doing. N o w I have come to take you back to my city." She said, "Can you find the way if we flee together?" Then she told him that she was to be married that night, and was to proceed the next day to her husband's house. She said, "But tomorrow evening, when I am left alone with my bridegroom, I will make him drunk. When he is unconscious, I will come outside the city wall. Wait for me there with the mare that you cured, and another one, and we will escape on them." The next night, at nine, the youth rose and took the two mares, and went out into the chol to wait for the princess. T w o soldiers came upon him, as he was sleeping beside the mares, and said to each other, "What can this youth be doing here with these mares? We will watch and see." And when the maiden came, the soldiers said to each other, "Who can this be?" And they recognized the princess. When they ap-


Yadowi: this also means to cure by spells.



proached, the girl drew a sword, and killed them both, while the lad lay sleeping and knew nothing of it. Then she roused him, saying, "Why do you sleep? Rise! Wake!" Then they mounted the mares and rode away. Soon, the boy looked around and saw that they were being pursued by the king and his soldiers, and he told her. The maiden said to him, "What will you do for me?" He replied, "I will do anything!" She said to him, "Light me a cigarette, and you, you light a pipe!" So he lit a cigarette for her and filled a pipe for himself. The soldiers came to seize her, but she killed forty-one of them, one after another. Her father cried to her from afar, "Mariam, Mariam! W h y do you flee from us? We are your people!" She replied, "I do not want you anymore!" And when he sent some more soldiers to fetch her, she killed them also. At last they let her go, and she and the youth returned to Baghdad together. They remained there, and began to drink and amuse themselves as before.


Told by a Shi'a tribesman near Khidr on the Euphrates A lion was one day walking in the desert, roaring with hunger, for his belly was empty, when he met a jackal and sprang upon him, saying, "How shall I kill you?" The jackal said, "Do not kill me, Abu Khumayis (Father of Lions), for I am thin and weak, but if you will let me go, I will bring you a nice fat pig so that you may devour his heart." The lion said, "Lies! How can you bring me a pig?" The jackal said, "I will bring him, and all you will have to do will be to lie down and groan as if you were dying." The lion said, "Suduq? (Truly)?" And the jackal said, "Yes, by Allah, I will bring you the pig if you let me go!" And he swore to it. The lion let him go and lay on his side groaning loudly while the jackal went onto a khor (waterway) where a fine fat pig was rooting in the mud. He said to the pig, "Oh my brother! How can you remain here while your uncle, Abu Khumayis, lies dying and wishes you to come and hear his dying wishes." The pig said, "I am afraid, my brother." The jackal said, "Why are you afraid? Your uncle is weak and cannot harm you." At last he persuaded the pig, who went with him to the place where the lion lay groaning. The jackal said, "Go close to him, brother, and hear his last words." The pig said, "I am afraid," and he remained at some distance. The lion said in a faint voice that he must come nearer, so the pig went a little nearer. "Come closer," said the lion, "for I must speak into your ear." The pig went close, at last, and bent his ear towards the lion, who immediately seized his ear between his teeth. The pig was so alarmed that he tore away, leaving his ear in the lion's mouth, and escaped. The lion was angry and said, "You see that the pig has run off and left me as hungry as before!" The jackal said, "You were too rough and sudden! However, I will go to him once more and see if I can bring him back. Lie there and continue to groan." The lion said, "You will not be able




to do that, for now the pig is alarmed." The jackal said, "Leave it to me! And he went again to the khor and said, "What behavior is this, my brother! Your uncle is at death's door and you run off like that without listening to his dying wishes!" The pig said, "He bit my ear!" The jackal answered, "He is a rough fellow, and it was only his loving caress. Had you not started back in a fright, your ear would still be on your head." And he talked so smoothly to the pig that the pig at last followed him back to the place where the lion lay on the ground, as if he were dead. The jackal said, "You see that all his strength has left him! Go close, and bend over him, and see if he still has the breath to utter his last words." The pig went closer, and seeing that the lion did not move, he went quite close to his head. The lion waited until the pig had lost his fear, and then he sprang up and seized him and killed him. Then he ate his fill of the pig. He ate and ate, until at last he was thirsty. He said, "I must drink, but I fear you will eat what is left of the pig while I go down to the river." The jackal said, "No, Wallahl (By God!)" The lion said, "I shall draw a circle around the dead pig in the dust with my paw, and if I see by the marks in the dust that you have crossed the circle, I shall kill you! The jackal waited until the lion had disappeared, then, hup! He made one jump and landed on the pig's body, and tore the heart out and devoured it. Then he jumped back to his place, and licked his muzzle clean and folded his tail and sat there. The lion came back and looked within the circle and saw that the dust was undisturbed. Then he lay down beside the pig and went on eating it, until he perceived that there was no heart, and roared, "Where is the heart you promised me?" The jackal said, "Oh Abu Khumayis, this was a strange pig. You bit him once, and he returned to be eaten. Could such a pig have a heart?"

20 H o w HESKEL WAS POSSESSED BY A JEWISH DEMON I was returning one night from the teatro (dancing girls) and I sat in the coffee house. A young man came and gazed at me, and I said to him, "You, who are you?" He answered me nothing. I spoke to him several times, "Who are you? Speak!" But he did not reply. I said to him, "Answer, or I will kill you!" And I drew out my revolver. I was young and handsome in those days, and I was wearing fine clothes—ooh!—not as I am now. Then I looked, and it was a girl of beauty and loveliness. She came to me and struck me three times on the shoulder, saying, "''Afiya, 'afiya, 'afiya\" (Bravo, bravo, bravo!). Then she said to me, "Come, take me and lie with me! I am the daughter of the Sultan of the Jinn!" I turned and paid attention, but I had my hand on my dagger and on my revolver, and these demons fear such things. I said to her, " Wallah (By God!), I will not!" But she continued to press me, and I said to her (for I was afraid), "I will go home to my father and mother and get their permission, and then I will sleep with you." I went my way, and ran trembling home, and knocked at the door. When my parents opened it, I fell inside and lay on the ground and did not know day from night, and my tongue was bound. My mother said to me, "My son Heskel!" I did not speak, but fixed my look on the horizon. My parents ran to a wise man who came and wrote upon a gold coin and slipped it beneath my tongue, which was then loosened, and I told them what had happened. They asked the wise man to write a talisman for me, but he asked one hundred liras, and in those times—ooh!—money is not like straw like it is now! My parents could not pay him, for how would they obtain a hundred liras? That night I was sleeping in my mother's room, and the girl came again. She was beautiful—like a hundred thousand electric lights! She embraced me, and asked me, "Did your father and mother give you 467



permission?" I answered her, "No." She reproached me, and said, "You brought a wise man!" Then I pulled out a dagger and a revolver from beneath my pillow and she fled away. I woke my parents and told them, and they said, "In the name of Allah! Our son has departed from us! Why do you go to the teatro and the sinema! This has come upon you because of it!" Then they went to another wise man in Rowandus.47 Wallahl For forty liras he wrote this talisman that I wear now. He made this writing, and I became mad. The wise man said to my parents, "The girl loves Heskel, so she will not strike him—he will recover." Then they put irons on me, and put me in a sirdab (basement room), and put this writing on me, and I became well.


A Kurdish town in the north.


L o k m a n

Lokman was a great physician, the greatest that the world has ever seen! In his room there were shelves like these shelves, and, instead of books there were bottles of medicine. A man came to him one day for a cure, and Lokman gave him a bottle, in which there was a poison so powerful that it boiled within the bottle. The man said, "Pardon! If Your Honor gives me a poison to drink, I shall die!" Lokman said, "As you will!" And he put the bottle back. The man went out, and he walked into the chol (countryside), and because his sickness was heavy upon him, he lay down in the chol. A shepherd was there, tending his sheep, and presently a black serpent came out of a hole. The shepherd took one of his ewes and milked her into a basin and set the basin for the serpent. The serpent drank it all, and then vomited into the basin and went. The sick man saw this, and thought to himself that his illness was so heavy that he would drink the poison and die. He took the basin and drank the poison that had come from the throat of the serpent. After three hours, his skin began to split, and it came away from him, and beneath he was red like meat. Then, after another three hours, a new skin had grown upon him and it was like the skin of a newborn infant, and he was well, perfectly well! He went and returned and told Lokman, who said, "You refused the poison I offered you that would have cured you, yet you drank the poison of the serpent and now you know that a poison may cure as well as kill!"



Told by Lili, March 1931, Baghdad There was once a great sheikh of the Arabs, and he was rich and powerful. He took a woman to wife, and the first year she bore him a daughter, and the second a daughter, and the third also a daughter. At the time he wed, this man had plenty of cattle, sheep and camels, but bad times came, and there was no rain and his camel herds died. He began to become weak and poor. The family sold sheep and ate them, and sold cattle and ate them, and the sheikh became more and more impoverished. He was sad and troubled and complained to his wife, "I, who was once rich and prosperous, am now a poor man! Why has God afflicted me in this way?" The woman replied, "Oh, my husband, do not be troubled! Allah is merciful, and things will mend. Do not fret, and do not sit in sadness!" But the sheikh worried and worried and fretted and fretted, and at last he became sick, let his head droop, and died. By this time he had no property left, and the little mother and her three daughters were left to manage as best they could. They were hungry, and had no bread, but were ashamed to beg. What could they do? The woman said to her daughters, "We cannot sell this ground, for it is poor, so let us rise and go to another place." They replied, "As you will, our mother! Where you go, we will go also." They put their things together and went out by night so that no one should know that they were fleeing. The little mother and her daughters set out and walked all night. Ardh atshilhum, ardh athattuml (literally: "ground giving, ground taking," i.e., "step-by-step.") At last, while it was still dark, at the first dawn, they reached a city and entered it. They passed into the suq, but it was early, the shops were shut, and no people were around. Only one shop—a butcher's— was open. The woman and her daughters stopped near the shop and waited there. The butcher looked at them, and thought to himself, "Why are those women stopping by my shop? What is their purpose?" 471



They remained there until he had sold all his meat and had locked up his shop. By that time it was late in the day, and the butcher saw that they were still sitting where he had first seen them. He felt curious to learn their business, and approaching them, he spoke to them, saying, "Excuse me, but I should like to know why you have been waiting here since dawn." The little mother said, "I want a house. I am a stranger to this city, and I know nobody here." The butcher replied, "If you want a house, you have spoken to the right person, for I have ten houses, and if you will please come with me, you can see them and rent from me whichever one you prefer." He took them to the first house, which was a large, expensive place, as were all the houses where the butcher was a landlord. But when they had looked at it, the little mother said, "This is not suitable, do you have anything better?" The butcher said, "I have a finer house," and he took them to another one, even better than the first. But the second satisfied her no better than the first, and he took her to one after the other, until they came to the tenth house, which was the most spacious and well built of them all. It was fit for an emir. The woman asked him, "What is the rent for this house, baba?" He replied, "The rent is only three thousand rupees." The woman answered, "I will take it, and when my husband comes, in seven days' time, he will pay you the first of the rent." But it was not true, for, as you know, she had no living husband! The mother and daughters entered the house, and she said to them, "We cannot go out to buy, for we have no money! But we will look around in the house, and perhaps we may find something." They went upstairs, and in a corner they found a candle and some matches beside it. The little mother struck a match and kindled the candle, and they seated themselves on the bare floor, for they had no mats or bedding. A servant belonging to the wall s (governor's) household passed beneath the jutting windows of the house, and he heard them talking and saw the light. He went back to his mistress and said, "Bibi, the butcher has let his house to some strangers!" She asked, "How do you know?" He replied, "I saw a light and people sitting in the window."



N o w it was the custom in that place that if a stranger came there, they should be fed for three days, so the wall s wife went down to her kitchen and said, "Strangers have come! Prepare f o o d quickly, and send it to them." A n d the c o o k set about her w o r k and put meat and chicken and rice on a tray, and a servant t o o k it to the house as soon as all was ready. When he came to the butcher's house, he knocked at the door. T h e little mother looked out and saw the man carrying a tray of food. She said to him, "Where do y o u come f r o m ? " H e answered, " F r o m the wall s family; they have sent y o u this tray f r o m their kitchen." She exclaimed, " O , why did you give yourselves this trouble? were about to cook a meal for ourselves!" She t o o k the tray f r o m servant, and carrying it to her daughter, she cried, " H o w now, daughters! Ya benati, ukulu, ushrabul Wal Muddabir guwy! (O daughters, eat! Drink! T h e provider of all is powerful!)"

We the my my

T h e y seated themselves around the tray with their mother, and as they put their hands to the food, what did they see? Three cats walked in. O n e was white, one yellow, and one black, and all three sat with them around the tray. A m o n g the f o o d was a roasted chicken, and the little mother broke it in her hands and gave a leg to the black cat, while her daughters threw morsels to the others. T h e y ate, and when they had finished, they washed the dishes and put them in the corner. In the morning the servant came for the tray and dishes, and t o o k them back. T h e wall s wife went t o visit the wazir's (government advisor's) wife the next morning, and said to her, "Last night we sent f o o d t o the strangers w h o have taken the butcher's house." T h e wazir's wife said, "I thank y o u for telling me! I did not k n o w that strangers had come to the town. We must send them supper tonight." She called her cook and said, " M a k e a g o o d supper tonight and send it on a tray to the strangers w h o have taken the butcher's house." T h e cook roasted a turkey, and made sweetmeats and other dishes, and put the f o o d on a tray. T w o servants went with it, the one carrying the tray and the other a lantern. T h e little mother looked out and cried, " W h o is it?" T h e servants answered, " T h e family of the wazir greets y o u and asks y o u to accept this tray." T h e w o m a n replied, " W h y did they give themselves such trouble? I was just about to c o o k



the supper!" (But it was a lie!) "We really cannot accept such kindness." T h e servants replied, " T h a t cannot be, for it is the custom of the place to provide any stranger w h o arrives in the town with supper for three days." T h e y departed, and the little mother called her daughters, saying, "See, m y daughters! Eat and drink! Providence is powerful!" But her daughters were troubled and said, " T h e y have sent us this food, and will certainly visit us, and we have no matting, no carpets, nothing!" She replied, "Eat and drink, m y daughters! Providence is powerful and Allah is merciful!" T h e y sat around the tray, and the three cats entered as before and sat with them. T h e little mother pulled the leg off the turkey and offered it t o the black cat, and the daughters fed the others. T h e y ate, and when only the tray remained, they washed the plates and put them in the corner. T h e next day the servants fetched the tray and left. This was the third day, and the wall s wife and the wazir's wife went to visit the sultan's wife. T h e y told her that there were strangers in the butcher's house, for until then, the news had not reached her. She exclaimed, " O ! I am most grateful t o you! Tonight I must send them supper." She called for her cook, and he came and said, "Yes, lady?" She said, "I want y o u t o make a very good supper tonight for the strangers w h o have taken the butcher's house." T h e c o o k made a splendid supper. There was a lamb, a turkey, pilaus, dateli (a Turkish sweetmeat), buraq (a rice dish stuffed with cheese and parsley), and other dishes. Servants were called, and they t o o k a lantern with them and repaired with the tray to the butcher's house, where they knocked at the door. T h e little mother looked out, and they said to her, " T h e sultan's wife sends y o u this tray and salutes you. Be so kind as to accept it." T h e little mother answered, "Indeed, she should not have done so, for we were ready to eat our own supper!" She t o o k the tray in to her daughters, but they were ready to kill themselves. T h e y said, " H o w now? T h e sultan's wife will come t o visit us as well as the other two! O n what can we seat them? O n the bare floor?" Their mother chided them, saying, "Yallal D o not sigh, m y daughters! Eat and drink, for H e w h o Provides is strong!" She set the tray ready, and when they sat around it, the cats entered and sat beside



them around the tray. The little mother gave the black cat the leg of the lamb. It ate a morsel, then rubbed its head against her and gazed at her, then ate another morsel, and then rubbed its head and gazed again. So it did continually. She said, "The cat is caressing me with its head as if it wished to talk with me." The girls said, "Yes, it loves you!" She spoke to the cat and said, "Are you trying to talk to me?" The cat nodded its head twice as if it were saying "Yes!" She said, "Shall I come with you?" It nodded its head again and seemed to say, "Yes!" They ate and finished, and the little mother rose, and the black cat rose, too, and looked at her. She followed it out of the room and down the stairs. It descended into the courtyard, and then—di \ di \ di\—down into the cellar. She followed it there, and then the tomcat traced a circle on the floor with his paw and signed to her to dig. The little mother looked about her until she found a piece of iron, and then she dug at the spot her had shown her. She soon came to a marble slab, and when she had lifted this, she found a jar beneath it. The cat pointed at his with his paw, and when she had opened it, she saw that it was full of red gold! After guiding her to open this, the black cat went. Oh! How delighted she was! She took the gold to her daughters and said to them, "There! Did I not tell you that He who Provides was strong?" Oh, how happy they were! The little mother said, "Now I can go into the suq and buy carpets and furniture for the room. You stay here and wait." She went to the suq and bought bedding, mattresses, carpets and cushions—everything needed to furnish a house. She was so busy that before long the house was 'ala arb'a u asherin habbaia (perfect to the last detail; literally: "to twenty-four beans"), and carpeted and furnished and upholstered. She cried to her daughters, "Is the place complete, or is it not?" They said, "Yes! We are grateful to you; it is splendid!" Her girls were well brought up and intelligent as well as pretty, for were they not a sheikh's daughters? So, she rose and paid the butcher his rent, hired servants and, at the end of the week, her house was ready in every way. The sultan's wife went to the wazir's wife and to the wall s wife, and said to them, "We must go to visit these strangers." They sent



w o r d of their coming to the little mother, w h o sent back the answer, "Be welcome! We shall be honored b y your visit." She s u m m o n e d her cook, and said to him, " C o o k us a fine supper for the Sultan's ladies are coming to visit us. Hadhi ham meynal (This is part of the deal!)" T h e cook set t o w o r k and cooked a magnificent feast. T h e guests arrived and the little mother received them. T h e y admired the furniture, and danced to the clapping of hands. T h e little mother offered them sherbet and jam, and the three visitors admired her daughters and praised their beauty and sweetness, f o r all three were tall and of rare good looks. When they had an opportunity, the three guests talked privately about the girls and said, "This lady is rich, and her daughters are fair and well mannered. W o u l d they not make good wives for our sons?" When they would rise to go, the little mother prevented them, saying, " N o , y o u cannot leave us yet, stay and eat with us!" A n d she compelled them t o break their fast with her. T h e y remained, and the servants brought supper. T h e y ate, drank and finished, and then, while coffee was served, one guest said to another behind her hand, "We must betroth these girls to our sons!" Then the sultan's wife spoke to the little mother, "I am in love with y o u r daughters and I want one of them for m y son!" T h e little mother answered, "I will give her, gratefully!" T h e wazir's wife said, " A n d I should like one of y o u r daughters for m y son!" T h e little mother answered, "Gratefully!" T h e wall s wife also asked for one of the girls, and the little mother accepted, with thanks. T h e three girls were overjoyed, f o r they liked the ladies. So the betrothals t o o k place, and shortly afterwards the mullah came and the agents of the three y o u n g men, the contracts were made, and the girls married. Their mother said to their mothers-in-law, "I am giving y o u m y daughters, but do not provide their clothes, gear or dowry, for they have all that they need, and all that is necessary." So it was, and the girls went to their husbands, and all three married in a single night. Di!—A month passed, and the mother went often to visit her daughters, and they her. All were happy. O n e day when the little mother was sitting alone in her house, an old w o m a n entered, and bade her peace. T h e little mother replied, " A n d peace u p o n y o u ! " T h e y greeted each other, and then sat, and the



little mother bade her servants bring coffee and cigarettes. As soon as they were brought, she said to her visitor, "Welcome! What is your purpose in visiting me?" The old woman answered, "I have come to betroth you to my son. You are young, and why should you live here alone? It is not seemly for such a woman as you to remain without protection. I wish you to marry my son, who is a good lad and handsome." She spoke winningly, and the little mother answered, "I will ask my daughters, and if they approve, I will marry. But if not, then I will remain in my widowed state." The old woman asked, "When shall I come for your answer? Please give it soon, for they are waiting outside to hear." The little mother answered, "Come tomorrow about this hour." And it was noon. The old woman went forth. There was a young man on the road, and he came to her, saying, "What is the answer?" She replied, "She is asking her daughters' permission, and I am to return tomorrow for an answer." The next morning, the little mother sent to ask her daughters to visit her, and when they came, she said to them, "My daughters, I want to ask you something." They said, "Tell us." She said, "They want to betroth me. I ask your opinion, and your permission. Do you accept this proposal, or not?" They answered, "O, indeed we do! We shall be delighted if you remarry. You are here alone, and we are always thinking about you with anxiety, fearing that being without protector, and wealthy, you may be attacked and robbed. Take a husband to protect you. Then our minds will be at rest." She asked, "You give your consent, then?" They answered, "By Allah, our mother, we have feared greatly for you, remembering that you sleep here alone every night!" They went out, and presently the old woman entered, for it was noon. The little mother rose and saluted her, and treated her with honor and respect, giving her coffee, and lighting a cigarette for her. The old woman said, "Well! What did they say, your daughters?" The little mother replied, "It is my daughters' opinion that I should marry. Who is this youth, and where does he come from? I know nothing of him, and have not seen him." The old woman said, "He is a handsome youth of good character, but you will not see him until the night of the wedding (dakhala)." The



next day the old woman brought the mullah, and a contract was drawn up, and the old woman said to the bride, "Your husband will come to take you tonight." The little mother said, "It is well." She went to the bath, and made the bridal bed ready, and she prayed. Then she waited in the wedding chamber. At night there was a knocking on the door and the servant opened. It was the bridegroom, who went up into the room where the bride was waiting for him. Indeed, he was a goodly youth, but he sat down, gazing at the ground, and neither greeted her nor smiled at her. She saluted him politely, but he did not answer, and she wondered to herself, "Why does he not speak, or greet me? Why does he sit there silently?" Then she raised her head and looked at him, and he nodded his head silently, like this—(the narrator nodded hers slowly and solemnly). The little mother began to laugh a long laugh. The bridegroom said to her, "I have not spoken, nor greeted you, nor uttered a word. Why did you laugh when I nodded my head?" She answered, "Nothing! A story came into my head, and I laughed." H e then began to converse with her, and soon again nodded his head. She laughed again, and he said, "You must tell me the story that makes you laugh when I nod my head." She said, "Yes, I will tell you!" And she related to him how the black tomcat had come and shown her the treasure, and she finished by saying to him, "I laughed because you nodded your head just like that black cat." H e said, "The black cat?" She said, "Yes, by Allah!" H e said to her, "I am that black cat! From the day that you came and stood by the butcher's door I loved you, and came to you in the guise of a cat, for I am a son of the Jinn." Yes, he was a son of the Jinn, that black tomcat! And they became one, and laughed, and had a great pleasure. Kunna adkum wa jina! Wad daff umgarg'a Wal arus hazina. We have been with you, and came back! The wedding drum is rusty. The bride is sad.


Told by a Jewish woman of illiterate class. Kan u ma kan, 'ala Allah at tuklan Laqa ibna uddukkan, Bab al meidan Jit al huwiyya wa akhadeythu, tayethu chabha wa'ameythu! Whether truth, or not truth, God knows the truth, The apprentice lad was going forth; there came a breeze from the north, It hit him full, this unkind breeze; it knocked him flat and made him blind. There was once a sultan w h o killed every girl-child that his wife bore him. The reason was that a soothsayer had told him that a daughter would bring shame upon him. It happened that he went on a pilgrimage at a time when his wife was pregnant, and before he set out, he said to his wife, "If the child that is to be born will be a boy, good. Hang his picture on the door of the courtyard. But if it is a girl, the child must be killed with a knife." H e went, taking his son with him, and the woman, when her time had come, brought a girl into the world. She began to kiss and fondle the baby, and to love it, and sent f o r a woman to suckle it and bring it up, for she could not do as her husband had commanded. H e r heart was sad at the thought. The woman w h o took the child was a neighbor. The little girl was sweet, very sweet! Then the woman sent a telegram to her husband in Mecca, " Y o u r wife had had a daughter." The sultan said to his son, "Return, kill your sister, if she is not already dead, and take her blood and put it in a bottle, so that I may drink it when I return." The boy came back, but saw no girl, so he took a bird and killed it, and put its blood in a bottle and put the bottle in his bosom. A year or so later he saw a little girl in his mother's place, f o r the neighbor came every day on the pretext of taking live charcoal from their bra479



zier to light her own, and brought the child with her so that the mother might see it every day. The boy said to his mother, "What a lovely child! How I should like to have a sister like that!" She replied, "What can I do! Each time a girl is born to us, your father kills her!" The boy covered his face and began to weep. Then his mother said to him, "Swear on the Qur'an that you will not tell your father what I am going to tell you!" He took the Qur'an, and swore on it. Then she said, "The little girl you saw with the neighbor, she is your sister." The boy rejoiced greatly, and when she had grown a little bigger, he used to take her with him when he went away every day to hunt. Now, all this time the sultan was still away, but after six years' absence he returned, and the boy gave him the bottle of blood and he drank the blood in it. While he sat one morning, the girl came from the neighbor's house to take fire from the brazier. The sultan asked his wife, "Where does that girl come from?" The wife replied, "She is from a neighbor's house." Then she took out her handkerchief and began to weep. The sultan said, "Why are you weeping?" She said, "If you had not killed all our girl-children as soon as they came into the world, we would have a daughter like that pretty child!" The sultan wept also, and said, "Yes, indeed!" When she saw this, the wife said, "Swear on the Qur'an," for there was one on the writing table, "that there shall be no killing or slaughter!" The sultan put his hand on the Qur'an, and he swore he would not kill. Then the boy and his mother said, "This child is your daughter!" Then the sultan said to his son, "Rise, and command a castle to be built by the sea, with a garden by it, so that my daughter may live in it alone." The boy did as his father had ordered, and a castle was built on the seashore, and the girl dwelled alone in it. A slave came three times a day with a tray of food, but except for that, she remained alone all day and all night. Only on Friday evening did the sultan go to see her and sat with her for two hours. He began to love her, for she was a sweet maiden. One day, as the girl sat eating meat, she took a bone from her mouth and threw it away. It struck the window, which was covered with paint so that she could not see out. The bone broke the window, and she looked out and saw the sun and the world and the sea and said,



"What is all this?" She caught the sunshine in her hands and played with it and gazed her fill from the window. As she looked, she saw a tall horseman riding along the road in the distance. N o w this horseman was the son of another sultan, and as he rode he gazed at the castle and saw the girl at the window, and that she was very fair. H e came quickly, and descended at the castle, and entered the door and went up to her, for he loved her at sight. She was very happy, and began to love him, too. H e stayed with her all day, and in the evening they took their food out on the seashore and ate it there. At night, they slept side by side by the sea, but the youth put his sword between them, and he slept on one side of it and she on the other, so that the girl remained a virgin. In this way they spent some days until it was Friday, and as the girl feared discovery, the youth mended the window and made it as it was before, for she was afraid that her father would kill her. So, when the sultan came on Friday evening, the youth hid, and the sultan, seeing all as it was, suspected nothing. When the sultan had returned, the youth came out of hiding, and spread the food by the sea, and a mattress for sleeping. So they spent their time, but one day the youth said to her, "Why don't we marry each other? I will leave you, and bring my mother and sisters and father to ask for you from your father and we will be betrothed and marry." The girl, whose name was Budur, was afraid when she heard this and was sad at the thought of separation. She began to weep, and said, "You are going away from me, and will leave me alone!" But so it was decided, and they passed the night in weeping, until it was dawn, and the youth rose and left her and set out for his home. When he had gone, Budur fell asleep out of weariness, and slept until it was noon. Then the sun, falling on her golden anklets, made them so hot that they burned her and she awoke. Meanwhile, the slave who brought her food had come with the tray and, when she entered the castle, she saw that the girl was not there. She called, "Budur! Budur!" But there was no reply. She made a thorough search and found that the girl was not in the castle. She returned to the sultan and said to him, " O Sultan, your daughter is not to be found!" The sultan rose and went to his son and said, "Ha! Did I not tell you that your sister would be a whore!"



When Budur woke, she saw that it was noon, and she was afraid, and cried, "Akhl N o w m y father will k n o w and will kill me!" She went into the castle, and put on her clothes, and took money and went out f r o m the castle and into the world. She had not gone far before she saw a shepherd with his flock, and she said to him, Ya ammi r'ai al ghanam Ma shifet tufah al 'Ajam ? Habibi ma habib an nas Habibi ma ga'adni min manami La waddi li habibi salami\ O my uncle; O shepherd Did you not see the apple of Persia? He was my lover, and did not love others. My beloved did not rouse me from sleep. Do not take my greeting to my beloved! Then she gave the shepherd a lira and asked him to kill a lamb and give her its belly (qulsheyya). The shepherd brought a lamb and did as she asked. Then she braided her hair around her head, and drew the belly over her head, so that she appeared to be bald. The she said, "Take this lira and give me y o u r clothes." H e gave her his clothes, and she put them on, and walked and walked. Ga 'aat shila, ga 'aat hatta Ga 'aat shila, ga 'aat hatta Ground taking, ground placing, i.e., "step by step" She was weeping as she walked, until she met the youth, with all his family riding along the road. She seized the reins of his mare and cried to him, Ya 'ammi, rai al ghanam Ma shifet tufah al 'Ajam Habibi ma habib an nas Ma wa'a ani in manami Habibi bi ham wa huwas La waddi li habibi salami\ O uncle, O shepherd of sheep! Did you not see the apple of Persia?



My lover, and not a lover of many He did not rouse me from my sleep My lover is in madness and distraction Do not take my greeting to him.

The youth thought that it was a message from Budur, and that she had been killed, and he wept, and she with him. Then he took the (false) shepherd, and set him on his own mare, and they returned—he and his people—to where they had come from. The youth fell into melancholy, and sat with the shepherd all day, who repeated the verse without ceasing, for the girl had been distracted by her fear, and could not disclose herself to him. The father, distressed by his son's state, set about finding a bride for him. A girl was brought, and the betrothal was made. But the youth had no joy in it, as he sat with the bald shepherd and they wept continually. One day, the bride was brought, and they took her to the bridegroom. But the bridegroom sat there with the shepherd and so, when the bride was brought in, they were three. Budur was ashamed to remain with him now that the bride was there, so she rose and said to them, "I must go and relieve myself." The bridegroom called to her, " D o not stay long; come back soon!" She answered, " N o . " Then she went, and removed the belly from her head, and took off the shepherd's clothes, and put on her own. Then she went to the Sultan's stables, and took out a knife from her pocket, and cut her throat. The youth was distressed that the shepherd tarried and left him alone with the bride, and he rose and began to search for him, leaving the bride still virgin, for he had not approached her. When he entered the stable, there was the maiden dead. H e began to beat his head and tear his clothes, and weep and throw dust on his head. Then he lay down beside the dead girl, and put her arm beneath his head, and his left arm beneath hers. The he took the knife, and cult his own throat and died. The bride went to look for her groom as he did not come back, and went from room to room until at last she came to the stable. There she saw her husband lying dead with his arm around the neck of a dead girl, and she was exceedingly beautiful with her yellow hair. The she began to weep, and to beat her breast. She took the hand of



the dead youth and put it beneath her head, and her own beneath his head. Then she cut her own head off. All three were dead, side by side! The sultan, meanwhile, was sleeping, and when he rose from his sleep, he came and knocked at the bridal chamber. There was no reply. He wanted his son, and so he knocked again, and when there was no answer, he broke in and saw that neither the bride nor her groom were there. He searched all over the house until at last he came to the stable, and saw his son and the bride and a maiden as fair as the moon side by side, and all three dead. He shut up the stable, and locked the door, and took his mare, and he rode away. He rode and rodz—ga'aat shila wa ga'aathatta (step-by-step)—until he saw a garden and entered it to rest. In the garden was a water channel, and he took water and washed his hands and face and feet in it. As he was doing this, he saw two rats come out of the herbage, and they fell to fighting. They fought until one killed the other, and it lay dead on the ground. After awhile the other rat went and pulled grass with its teeth and covered the dead rat with it. Then the dead rat rose quickly to its feet, and was well, and ran about again. The sultan was certain that it had been dead earlier, and marveled. Then he went and plucked a great quantity of the grass, and, putting it on his shoulder, he mounted his mare and rode back to his house. When he had arrived, he went to the stable, unlocked it, and spread the grass over the three. Then the three of them shook themselves and rose and were sound and well again. The sultan was delighted, and rejoiced at his son's recovery. He gave him a castle of his own to live in with his two brides, and made a wedding for them, a big one for the first girl, Budur, whom the prince loved, and a smaller one for the second bride. The he took off his crown and put it on his son, and the son became sultan, while he himself was under his son's hand. So all ended in happiness.


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