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Ali Nur Al-Din And Miriam The Girdle-Girl[FN#377] There was once in days of yore and in ages and times long gone before in the parts of Cairo, a merchant named Táj al-Dín who was of the most considerable of the merchants and of the chiefs of the freeborn. But he was given to travelling everywhere and loved to fare over wild and wold, waterless lowland and stony waste, and to journey to the isles of the seas, in quest of dirhams and dinars: wherefore he had in his time encountered dangers and suffered duresse of the way such as would grizzle little children and turn their black hair grey. He was possessed of black slaves and Mamelukes, eunuchs and concubines, and was the wealthiest of the merchants of his time and the goodliest of them in speech, owning horses and mules and Bactrian camels and dromedaries; sacks great and small of size; goods and merchandise and stuffs such as muslins of Hums, silks and brocades of Ba'allak, cotton of Mery, stuffs of India, gauzes of Baghdad, burnouses of Moorland and Turkish white slaves and Abyssinian castratos and Grecian girls and Egyptian boys; and the coverings of his bales were silk with gold purfled fair, for he was wealthy beyond compare. Furthermore he was rare of comeliness, accomplished in goodliness, and gracious in his kindliness, even as one of his describers doth thus express, "A merchant I spied whose lovers * Were fighting in furious          guise: Quoth he, 'Why this turmoil of people?' * Quoth I, 'Trader, for          those fine eyes!'" And saith another in his praise and saith well enough to accomplish the wish of him, "Came a merchant to pay us a visit * Whose glance did my heart          surprise: Quoth he, 'What surprised thee so?' * Quoth I, 'Trader, 'twas          those fine eyes.'"

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Now that merchant had a son called Ali Nur al-Din, as he were the full moon whenas it meeteth the sight on its fourteenth night, a marvel of beauty and loveliness, a model of form and symmetrical grace, who was sitting one day as was his wont, in his father's shop, selling and buying, giving and taking, when the sons of the merchants girt him around and he was amongst them as moon among stars, with brow flower-white and cheeks of rosy light in down the tenderest dight, and body like alabaster-bright even as saith of him the poet, "'Describe me!' a fair one said. * Said I, 'Thou art Beauty's          queen.' And, speaking briefest speech, * 'All charms in thee are seen.'" And as saith of him one of his describers, "His mole upon plain of cheek is like * Ambergrís-crumb on marble          plate, And his glances likest the sword proclaim * To all Love's rebels          'The Lord is Great!'"[FN#378] The young merchants invited him saying, "O my lord Nur al-Din, we wish thee to go this day a-pleasuring with us in such a garden." And he answered, "Wait till I consult my parent, for I cannot go without his consent." As they were talking, behold, up came Taj al-Din, and his son looked at him and said, "O father mine, the sons of the merchants have invited me to wend a-pleasuring with them in such a garden. Dost thou grant me leave to go?" His father replied, "Yes, O my son, fare with them;" and gave him somewhat of money. So the young men mounted their mules and asses and Nur al-Din mounted a she-mule and rode with them to a garden, wherein was all that sould desireth and that eye charmeth. It was high of walls which from broad base were seen to rise; and it had a gateway vault-wise with a portico like a saloon and a door azure as the skies, as it were one of the gates of Paradise: the name of the door-keeper was Rizwán,[FN#379] and over the gate were trained an hundred trellises which grapes overran; and these were of various dyes, the red like coralline, the black like the snouts of Súdán[FN#380]-men and the white like egg of the pigeon-hen. And in it peach and pomegranate were shown and pear, apricot and pomegranate were grown and fruits with and without stone hanging in clusters or alone,—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say. When it was the Eight Hundred and Sixty-fourth Night,

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She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the sons of the merchants entered the vergier, they found therein all that soul desireth or eye charmeth, grapes of many hues grown, hanging in bunches or alone, even as saith of them the poet, "Grapes tasting with the taste of wine * Whose coats like          blackest Raven's shine: Their sheen, amid the leafage shows, * Like women's fingers          henna'd fine." And as saith another on the same theme, "Grape-bunches likest as they sway * A-stalk, my body frail and          snell: Honey and water thus in jar, * When sourness past, make          Hydromel." Then they entered the arbour of the garden and say there Rizwan the gate-keeper sitting, as he were Rizwan the Paradise-guardian, and on the door were written these lines,

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"Garth Heaven-watered wherein clusters waved * On boughs which          full of sap to bend were fain: And, when the branches danced on Zephyr's palm, * The Pleiads          shower'd as gifts[FN#381] fresh pearls for rain." And within the arbour were written these two couplets, "Come with us, friend, and enter thou * This garth that cleanses          rust of grief: Over their skits the Zephyrs trip[FN#382] * And flowers in sleeve          to laugh are lief."[FN#383] So they entered and found all manner fruits in view and birds of every kind and hue, such as ringdove, nightingale and curlew; and the turtle and the cushat sang their love lays on the sprays. Therein were rills that ran with limpid wave and flowers suave; and bloom for whose perfume we crave and it was even as saith of it the poet in these two couplets, "The Zephyr breatheth o'er its branches, like * Fair girls that

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         trip as in fair skirts they pace: Its rills resemble swords in hands of knights * Drawn from the          scabbard and containing-case."[FN#384] And again as singeth the songster, "T        he streamlet swings by branchy wood and aye * Joys in its breast those beauties to display; And Zephyr noting this, for jealousy * Hastens and bends the          branches other way." On the trees of the garden were all manner fruits, each in two sorts, amongst them the pomegranate, as it were a ball of silver-dross,[FN#385] whereof saith the poet and saith right well, "Granados of finest skin, like the breasts * Of maid         firm-standing in sight of male; When I strip the skin, they at once display * The rubies

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         compelling all sense to quail." And even as quoth another bard, "Close prest appear to him who views th' inside * Red rubies in          brocaded skirts bedight: Granado I compare with marble dome * Or virgin's breasts          delighting every sight: Therein is cure for every ill as e'en * Left an Hadís the Prophet          pure of sprite; And Allah (glorify His name) eke deigned * A noble say in Holy          Book indite.[FN#386] The apples were the sugared and the musky and the Dámáni, amazing the beholder, whereof saith Hassan the poet, "Apple which joins hues twain, and brings to mind * The cheek of

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         lover and beloved combined: Two wondrous opposites on branch they show * This dark[FN#387]          and that with hue incarnadined The twain embraced when spied the spy and turned * This red, that          yellow for the shame designed."[FN#388] There also were apricots of various kinds, almond and camphor and Jíláni and 'Antábi,[FN#389] wereof saith the poet, "And Almond-apricot suggesting swain * Whose lover's visit all          his wits hath ta'en. Enough of love-sick lovers' plight it shows * Of face deep yellow          and heart torn in twain."[FN#390] And saith another and saith well, "Look at that Apricot whose bloom contains * Gardens with          brightness gladding all men's eyne:

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Like stars the blossoms sparkle when the boughs * Are clad in          foliage dight with sheen and shine." There likewise were plums and cherries and grapes, that the sick of all diseases assain and do away giddiness and yellow choler from the brain; and figs the branches between, varicoloured red and green, amazing sight and sense, even as saith the poet, "'Tis as the Figs with clear white skins outthrown * By foliaged          trees, athwart whose green they peep, Were sons of Roum that guard the palace-roof * When shades close          in and night-long ward they keep."[FN#391] And saith another and saith well, "Welcome[FN#392] the Fig! To us it comes * Ordered in handsome          plates they bring: Likest a Surfah[FN#393]-cloth we draw * To shape of bag without a          ring."

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And how well saith a third, "Give me the Fig sweet-flavoured, beauty-clad, * Whose inner          beauties rival outer sheen: And when it fruits thou tastest it to find * Chamomile's scent          and Sugar's saccharine: And eke it favoureth on platters poured * Puff-balls of silken          thread and sendal green." And how excellent is the saying of one of them, "Quoth they (and I had trained my taste thereto * Nor cared for          other fruits whereby they swore), 'Why lovest so the Fig?' whereto quoth I * 'Some men love Fig and          others Sycamore.[FN#394]'" And are yet goodlier those of another,

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"Pleaseth me more the fig than every fruit * When ripe and          hanging from the sheeny bough; Like Devotee who, when the clouds pour rain, * Sheds tears and          Allah's power doth avow." And in that garth were also pears of various kinds Sinaïtic,[FN#395] Aleppine and Grecian growing in clusters and alone, parcel green and parcel golden.—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say. When it was the Eight Hundred and Sixty-fifth Night, She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the merchants' sons went down into the garth they saw therein all the fruits we mentioned and found pears Sinaïtic, Aleppine and Grecian of every hue, which here clustering there single grew, parcel green and parcel yellow to the gazer a marvel-view, as saith of them the poet, "With thee that Pear agree, whose hue a-morn * Is hue of hapless          lover yellow pale; Like virgin cloistered strait in strong Harím * Whose face like

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        racing steed outstrips the veil." And Sultani[FN#396] peaches of shades varied, yellow and red, whereof saith the poet, "Like Peach in vergier growing * And sheen of Andam[FN#397]         showing: Whose balls of yellow gold * Are dyed with blood-gouts flowing." There were also green almonds of passing sweetness, resembling the cabbage[FN#398] of the palm-tree, with their kernels within three tunics lurking of the Munificent King's handiworking, even as is said of them, "Three coats yon freshest form endue * God's work of varied shape          and hue: Hardness surrounds it night and day; * Prisoning without a sin to          rue." And as well saith another,

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"Seest not that Almond plucked by hand * Of man from bough where          wont to dwell: Peeling it shows the heart within * As union-pearl in oyster-          shell." And as saith a third better than he, "How good is Almond green I view! * The smallest fills the hand          of you: Its nap is as the down upon * The cheeks where yet no beardlet          grew: Its kernels in the shell are seen, * Or bachelors or married two, As pearls they were of lucent white * Casèd and lapped in          Jasper's hue." And as saith yet another and saith well,

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"Mine eyes ne'er looked on aught the Almond like * For charms,          when blossoms[FN#399] in the Prime show bright: Its head to hoariness of age inclines * The while its cheek by          youth's fresh down is dight." And jujube-plums of various colours, grown in clusters and alone whereof saith one, describing them, "Look at the Lote-tree, note on boughs arrayed * Like goodly          apricots on reed-strown floor,[FN#400] Their morning-hue to viewer's eye is like * Cascavels[FN#401]          cast of purest golden ore." And as saith another and saith right well, "The Jujube-tree each Day * Robeth in bright array.

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As though each pome thereon * Would self to sight display. Like falcon-bell of gold * Swinging from every spray." And in that garth grew blood oranges, as they were the Khaulanján,[FN#402] whereof quoth the enamoured poet,[FN#403] "Red fruits that fill the hand, and shine with sheen * Of fire,          albe the scarf-skin's white as snow. 'Tis marvel snow on fire doth never melt * And, stranger still,          ne'er burns this living lowe!" And quoth another and quoth well, "A        nd trees of Orange fruiting ferly fair * To those who straitest have their charms surveyed; Like cheeks of women who their forms have decked * For holiday in          robes of gold brocade." And yet another as well,

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"Like are the Orange-hills[FN#404] when Zephyr breathes * Swaying the boughs and spray with airy grace, Her cheeks that glow with lovely light when met * At greeting- tide by cheeks of other face." And a fourth as fairly, "And fairest Fawn, we said to him 'Portray * This garth and          oranges thine eyes survey:' And he, 'Your garden favoureth my face * Who gathereth orange          gathereth fire alway.'" In that garden too grew citrons, in colour as virgin gold, hanging down from on high and dangling among the branches, as they were ingots of growing gold;[FN#405] and saith thereof the 'namoured poet, "Hast seen a Citron-copse so weighed adown * Thou fearest bending

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         roll their fruit on mould; And seemed, when Zephyr passed athwart the tree * Its branches          hung with bells of purest gold?" And shaddocks,[FN#406] that among their boughs hung laden as though each were the breast of a gazelle-like maiden, contenting the most longing wight, as saith of them the poet and saith aright, "And Shaddock mid the garden-paths, on bough * Freshest like          fairest damsel met my sight; And to the blowing of the breeze it bent * Like golden ball to          bat of chrysolite." And the lime sweet of scent, which resembleth a hen's egg, but its yellowness ornamenteth its ripe fruit, and its fragrance hearteneth him who plucketh it, as saith the poet who singeth it, "Seest not the Lemon, when it taketh form, * Catch rays of light          and all to gaze constrain;

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Like egg of pullet which the huckster's hand * Adorneth dyeing          with the saffron-stain?" Moreover in this garden were all manner of other fruits and sweet-scented herbs and plants and fragrant flowers, such as jessamine and henna and water-lilies[FN#407] and spikenard[FN#408] and roses of every kind and plantain[FN#409] and myrtle and so forth; and indeed it was without compare, seeming as it were a piece of Paradise to whoso beheld it. If a sick man entered it, he came forth from it like a raging lion, and tongue availeth not to its description, by reason of that which was therein of wonders and rarities which are not found but in Heaven: and how should it be otherwise when its doorkeeper's name was Rizman? Though widely different were the stations of those twain! Now when the sons of the merchants had walked about gazing at the garden after taking their pleasure therein, they say down in one of its pavilions and seated Nur al-Din in their midst.—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say. When it was the Eight Hundred and Sixty-sixth Night, She resume, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the sons of the merchants sat down in the pavilion they seated Nur al-Din in their midst on a rug of gold-purfled leather of Al-Táif,[FN#410] leaning on a pillow[FN#411] of minever, stuffed with ostrich down. And they gave him a fan of ostrich feathers, whereon were written these two couplets, "A fan whose breath is fraught with fragrant scent; * Minding of          happy days and times forspent, Wafting at every time its perfumed air * O'er face of noble youth          on honour bent." Then they laid by their turbands and outer clothes and sat talking and chatting and inducing one another to discourse, while they all kept their eyes fixed on Nur al-Din and gazed on his beauteous form. After the sitting had lasted an hour or so, up came a slave with a tray on his head, wherein were platters of china and crystal containing viands of all sorts (for one of the youths had so charged his people before coming to the garden); and the meats were of whatever walketh earth or wingeth air or swimmeth waters, such as Katá-grouse and fat quails and pigeon-poults and mutton and chickens and the delicatest fish. So, the tray being sat before them, they fell to and ate their fill; and when they had made an end of eating, they rose from meat and washed their hands with pure water and musk-scented soap, and dried them with napery embroidered in silk and bugles; but to Nur al-Din they brought a napkin laced with red gold whereon he wiped his hands. Then coffee[FN#412] was served up and each drank what he would, after which they sat talking, till presently the garden-keeper who was young went away and returning with a basket full of roses, said to them, "What say ye, O my masters, to flowers?" Quoth one of them, "There is no harm in them,[FN#413] especially roses, which are not to be resisted." Answered the gardener, "'Tis well, but it is of our wont not to give roses but in exchange for pleasant converse; so whoever would take aught thereof, let him recite some verses suitable to the situation." Now they were ten sons of merchants of whom one said, "Agreed: give me thereof and I will recite thee somewhat of verse apt to the case." Accordingly the gardener gave him a bunch of roses[FN#414] which he took and at once improvised these three couplets,

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"The Rose in highest stead I rate * For that her charms ne'er          satiate; All fragrant flow'rs be troops to her * Their general of high          estate: Where she is not they boast and vaunt; * But, when she comes,          they stint their prate." Then the gardener gave a bunch to another and he recited these two couplets, "Take, O my lord, to thee the Rose * Recalling scent by mush be          shed. Like virginette by lover eyed * Who with her sleeves[FN#415]          enveileth head." Then he gave a bunch to a third who recited these two couplets,

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"Choice Rose that gladdens heart to see her sight; * Of Nadd recalling fragrance exquisite. The branchlets clip her in her leaves for joy, * Like kiss of          lips that never spake in spite." Then he gave a bunch to a fourth and he recited these two couplets, "Seest not that rosery where Rose a-flowering displays * Mounted          upon her steed of stalk those marvels manifold? As though the bud were ruby-stone and girded all around * With          chrysolite and held within a little hoard of gold." Then he gave a posy to a fifth and he recited these two couplets, "Wands of green chrysolite bare issue, which * Were fruits like          ingots of the growing gold.[FN#416] And drops, a dropping from its leaves, were like * The tears my

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         languorous eyelids railed and rolled." Then he gave a sixth a bunch and he recited these two couplets, "O Rose, thou rare of charms that dost contain * All gifts and          Allah's secrets singular, Thou'rt like the loved one's cheek where lover fond * And fain of          Union sticks the gold dinar."[FN#417] Then he gave a bunch to a seventh and he recited these two couplets, "To Rose quoth I, 'What gars thy thorns to be put forth * For all          who touch thee cruellest injury?' Quoth she, 'These flowery troops are troops of me * Who be their          lord with spines for armoury.'" And he gave an eighth a bunch and he recited these two couplets,

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"Allah save the Rose which yellows a-morn * Florid, vivid and          likest the nugget-ore; And bless the fair sprays that displayed such fowers * And mimic          suns gold-begilded bore." Then he gave a bunch to a ninth and he recited these two couplets, "The bushes of golden-hued Rose excite * In the love-sick lover          joys manifold: 'Tis a marvel shrub watered every day * With silvern lymph and it          fruiteth gold." Then he gave a bunch of roses to the tenth and last and he recited these two couplets, "Seest not how the hosts of the Rose display * Red hues and          yellow in rosy field?

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I compare the Rose and her arming thorn * To emerald lance          piercing golden shield." And whilst each one hent bunch in hand, the gardener brought the wine-service and setting it before them, on a tray of porcelain arabesqued with red gold, recited these two couplets, "Dawn heralds day-light: so wine pass round, * Old wine, fooling          sage till his wits he tyne: Wot I not for its purest clarity * An 'tis wine in cup or 'tis          cup in wine."[FN#418] Then the gardener filled and drank and the cup went round, till it came to Nur al-Din's turn, whereupon the man filled and handed it to him; but he said, "This thing I wot it not nor have I ever drunken thereof, for therein is great offence and the Lord of All-might hath forbidden it in His Book." Answered the gardener, "O my Lord Nur al-Din, an thou forbear to drink only by reason of the sin, verily Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) is bountiful, of sufferance great, forgiving and compassionate and pardoneth the mortalest sins: His mercy embraceth all things, Allah's ruth be upon the poet who saith, 'Be as thou, wilt, for Allah is bountiful * And when thou sinnest          feel thou naught alarm: But 'ware of twofold sins nor ever dare * To give God partner or

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         mankind to harm.'" Then quoth one of the sons of the merchants, "My life on thee, O my lord Nur al-Din, drink of this cup!" And another conjured him by the oath of divorce and yet another stood up persistently before him, till he was ashamed and taking the cup from the gardener, drank a draught, but spat it out again, crying, "'Tis bitter." Said the young gardener, "O my lord Nur al-Din, knowest thou not that sweets taken by way of medicine are bitter? Were this not bitter, 'twould lack of the manifold virtues it possesseth; amongst which are that it digesteth food and disperseth cark and care and dispelleth flatulence and clarifieth the blood and cleareth the complexion and quickeneth the body and hearteneth the hen-hearted and fortifieth the sexual power in man; but to name all its virtues would be tedious. Quoth one of the poets, 'We'll drink and Allah pardon sinners all * And cure of ills by          sucking cups I'll find: Nor aught the sin deceives me; yet said He * 'In it there be          advantage[FN#419] to mankind.'" Then he sprang up without stay or delay and opened one of the cupboards in the pavilion and taking out a loaf of refined sugar, broke off a great slice which he put into Nur al-Din's cup, saying, "O my lord, an thou fear to drink wine, because of its bitterness, drink now, for 'tis sweet." So he took the cup and emptied it: whereupon one of his comrades filled him another, saying, "O my lord Nur al-Din, I am thy slave," and another did the like, saying, "I am one of thy servants," and a third said, "For my sake!" and a fourth, "Allah upon thee, O my lord Nur al-Din, heal my heart!" And so they ceased not plying him with wine, each and every of the ten sons of merchants till they had made him drink a total of ten cups. Now Nur al-Din's body was virgin of wine-bibbing, or never in all his life had he drunken vine-juice till that hour, wherefore its fumes wrought in his brain and drunkenness was stark upon him and he stood up (and indeed his tongue was thick and his speech stammering) and said, "O company, by Allah, ye are fair and your speech is goodly and your place pleasant; but there needeth hearing of sweet music; for drink without melody lacks the chief of its essentiality, even as saith the poet, 'Pass round the cup to the old and the young man, too, And take          the bowl from the hand of the shining moon,[FN#420] But without music, I charge you, forbear to drink; I see even          horses drink to a whistled tune.'"[FN#421]

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Therewith up sprang the gardener lad and mounting one of the young men's mules, was absent awhile, after which he returned with a Cairene girl, as she were a sheep's tail, fat and delicate, or an ingot of pure silvern ore or a dinar on a porcelain plate or a gazelle in the wold forlore. She had a face that put to shame the shining sun and eyes Babylonian[FN#422] and brows like bows bended and cheeks rose-painted and teeth pearly-hued and lips sugared and glances languishing and breast ivory white and body slender and slight, full of folds and with dimples dight and hips like pillows stuffed and thighs like columns of Syrian stone, and between them what was something like a sachet of spices in wrapper swathed. Quoth the poet of her in these couplets, "Had she shown her shape to idolaters' sight, * They would gaze          on her face and their gods detest: And if in the East to a monk she'd show'd, * He'd quit Eastern          posture and bow to West.[FN#423] An she crached in the sea and the briniest sea * Her lips would          give it the sweetest zest." And quoth another in these couplets, "Brighter than Moon at full with kohl'd eyes she came * Like Doe,          on chasing whelps of Lioness intent: Her night of murky locks lets fall a tent on her * A tent of          hair[FN#424] that lacks no pegs to hold the tent;

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And roses lighting up her roseate cheeks are fed * By hearts and          livers flowing fire for languishment: An 'spied her all the Age's Fair to her they'd rise *          Humbly,[FN#425] and cry 'The meed belongs to precedent!'" And how well saith a third bard,[FN#426] "Three things for ever hinder her to visit us, for fear Of the          intriguing spy and eke the rancorous envier; Her forehead's lustre and the sound of all her ornaments And the          sweet scent her creases hold of ambergris and myrth. Grant with the border of her sleeve she hide her brow and doff          Her ornaments, how shall she do her scent away from her?" She was like the moon when at fullest on its fourteenth night, and was clad in a garment of blue, with a veil of green, overbrown flower-white that all wits amazed and those of understanding amated.—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying his permitted say.

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When it was the Eight Hundred and Sixty-seventh Night, She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the gardener brought a girl whom we have described, possessed of the utmost beauty and loveliness and fine stature and symmetrical grace as it were she the poet signified when he said,[FN#427] "She came apparelled in a vest of blue, That mocked the skies and shamed their azure hue; I thought thus clad she burst upon my sight, Like summer moonshine on a wintry night." And how goodly is the saying of another and how excellent, "She came thick veiled, and cried I, 'O display * That face like          full moon bright with pure-white ray.' Quoth she, 'I fear disgrace,' quoth I, 'Cut short * This talk, no          shift of days thy thoughts affray.'

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Whereat she raised her veil from fairest face * And crystal spray          on gems began to stray: And I forsooth was fain to kiss her cheek, * Lest she complain of          me on Judgment-Day. And at such tide before the Lord on High * We first of lovers          were redress to pray: So 'Lord, prolong this reckoning and review' * (Prayed I) 'that          longer I may sight my may.'" Then said the young gardener to her, "Know thou, O lady of the fair, brighter than any constellation which illumineth air we sought, in bringing thee hither naught but that thou shouldst entertain with converse this comely youth, my lord Nur al-Din, for he hath come to this place only this day." And the girl replied, "Would thou hadst told me, that I might have brought what I have with me!" Rejoined the gardener, "O my lady, I will go and fetch it to thee." "As thou wilt," said she: and he, "Give me a token." So she gave him a kerchief and he fared forth in haste and returned after awhile, bearing a green satin bag with slings of gold. The girl took the bag from him and opening it shook it, whereupon there fell thereout two-and-thirty pieces of wood, which she fitted one into other, male into female and female into male[FN#428] till they became a polished lute of Indian workmanship. Then she uncovered her wrists and laying the lute in her lap, bent over it with the bending of mother over babe, and swept the strings with her finger-tips; whereupon it moaned and resounded and after its olden home yearned; and it remembered the waters that gave it drink and the earth whence it sprang and wherein it grew and it minded the carpenters who made it their merchandise and the ships that shipped it; and it cried and called aloud and moaned and groaned; and it was as if she asked it of all these things and it answered her with the tongue of the case, reciting these couplets,[FN#429] "A tree whilere was I the Bulbul's home * To whom for love I          bowed my grass-green head: They moaned on me, and I their moaning learnt * And in that moan          my secret all men read:

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The woodman fell me falling sans offence, * And slender lute of          me (as view ye) made: But, when the fingers smite my strings, they tell * How man          despite my patience did me dead; Hence boon-companions when they hear my moan * Distracted wax as          though by wine misled: And the Lord softens every heart of me, * And I am hurried to the          highmost stead: All who in charms excel fain clasp my waist; * Gazelles of          languid eyne and Houri maid: Allah ne'er part fond lover from his joy * Nor live the loved one          who unkindly fled." Then the girl was silent awhile, but presently taking the lute in lap, again bent over it, as mother bendeth over child, and preluded in many different modes; then, returning to the first, she sang these couplets,

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"Would they [FN#430] the lover seek without ado, * He to his          heavy grief had bid adieu: With him had vied the Nightingale[FN#431] on bough * As one far          parted from his lover's view: Rouse thee! awake! The Moon lights Union-night * As tho' such          Union woke the Morn anew. This day the blamers take of us no heed * And lute-strings bid us          all our joys ensue. Seest not how four-fold things conjoin in one * Rose, myrtle,          scents and blooms of golden hue.[FN#432] Yea, here this day the four chief joys unite * Drink and dinars,          beloved and lover true: So win thy worldly joy, for joys go past * And naught but storied         tales and legends last."

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When Nur al-Din heard the girl sing these lines he looked on her with eyes of love and could scarce contain himself for the violence of his inclination to her; and on like wise was it with her, because she glanced at the company who were present of the sons of the merchants and she saw that Nur al-Din was amongst the rest as moon among stars; for that he was sweet of speech and replete with amorous grace, perfect in stature and symmetry, brightness and loveliness, pure of all defect, than the breeze of morn softer, than Tasnim blander, as saith of him the poet,[FN#433] "By his cheeks' unfading damask and his smiling teeth I swear, By          the arros that he feathers with the witchery of his air, By his sides so soft and tender and his glances bright and keen,          By the whiteness of his forehead and the blackness of his          hair, By his arched imperious eyebrows, chasing slumber from my lids          With their yeas and noes that hold me 'twixt rejoicing and          despair, By the Scorpions that he launches from his ringlet-clustered          brows, Seeking still to slay his lovers with his rigours          unaware, By the myrtle of his whiskers and the roses of his cheek, By his          lips' incarnate rubies and his teeth's fine pearls and rare,

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By the straight and tender sapling of his shape, which for its          fruit Doth the twin pomegranates, shining in his snowy          bosom, wear, By his heavy hips that tremble, both in motion and repose, And          the slender waist above them, all too slight their weight to          bear, By the silk of his apparel and his quick and sprightly wit, By          all attributes of beauty that are fallen to his share; Lo, the musk exhales its fragrance from his breath, and eke the          breeze From his scent the perfume borrows, that it scatters          everywhere. Yea, the sun in all his splendour cannot with his brightness vie          And the crescent moon's a fragment that he from his nails          doth pare."

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—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say. When it was the Eight Hundred and Sixty-eighth Night, She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Nur al-Din was delighted with the girl's verses and he swayed from side to side for drunkenness and fell a-praising her and saying, "A lutanist to us inclined * And stole our wits bemused with          wine: And said to us her lute, 'The Lord * Bade us discourse by voice          divine.'" When she heard him thus improvise the girl gazed at him with loving eyes and redoubled in passion and desire for him increased upon her, and indeed she marvelled at his beauty and loveliness, symmetry and grace, so that she could not contain herself, but took the lute in lap again and sang these couplets, "He blames me for casting on him my sight * And parts fro' me          bearing my life and sprite:

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He repels me but kens what my heart endures * As though Allah          himself had inspired the wight: I portrayed his portrait in palm of hand * And cried to mine          eyes, 'Weep your doleful plight.' For neither shall eyes of me spy his like * Nor my heart have          patience to bear its blight: Wherefore, will I tear thee from breast, O Heart * As one who          regards him with jealous spite. And when say I, 'O heart be consoled for pine,' * 'Tis that heart          to none other shall e'er incline:" Nur al-Din wondered at the charms of her verse and the elegance of her expression and the sweetness of her voice and the eloquence of her speech and his wit fled for stress of love and longing, and ecstasy and distraction, so that he could not refrain from her a single moment, but bent to her and strained her to his bosom: and she in like manner bowed her form over his and abandoned herself to his embrace and bussed him between the eyes. Then he kissed her on the mouth and played with her at kisses, after the manner of the billing of doves; and she met him with like warmth and did with him as she was done by till the others were distracted and rose to their feet; whereupon Nur al-Din was ashamed and held his hand from her. Then she took her lute and, preluding thereon in manifold modes, lastly returned to the first and sang these couplets, "A Moon, when he bends him those eyes lay bare * A brand that gars gazing gazelle despair:

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A King, rarest charms are the host of him * And his lance-like shape men with cane compare: Were his softness of sides to his heart transferred * His friend had not suffered such cark and care: Ah for hardest heart and for softest sides! * Why not that to these alter, make here go there? O thou who accusest my love excuse: * Take eternal and leave me the transient share."[FN#434] When Nur al-Din heard the sweetness of her voice and the rareness of her verse, he inclined to her for delight and could not contain himself for excess of wonderment; so he recited these couplets. "Methought she was the forenoon sun until she donned the veil *          But lit she fire in vitals mine still flaring fierce and          high, How had it hurt her an she deigned return my poor salám * With

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         fingertips or e'en vouchsafed one little wink of eye? The cavalier who spied her face was wholly stupefied * By charms          that glorify the place and every charm outvie. 'Be this the Fair who makes thee pine and long for love liesse? *          Indeed thou art excused!' 'This is my fairest she;'(quoth I) Who shot me with the shaft of looks nor deigns to rue my woes *          Of strangerhood and broken heart and love I must aby: I rose a-morn with vanquished heart, to longing love a prey * And          weep I through the live long day and all the night I cry." The girl marvelled at his eloquence and elegance and taking her lute, smote thereon with the goodliest of performance, repeating all the melodies, and sang these couplets, "By the life o' thy face, O thou life o' my sprite! * I'll ne'er          leave thy love for despair or delight: When art cruel thy vision stands hard by my side * And the

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         thought of thee haunts me when far from sight: O who saddenest my glance albe weeting that I * No love but thy          love will for ever requite? Thy cheeks are of Rose and thy lips-dews are wine; * Say, wilt          grudge them to us in this charming site?" Hereat Nur al-Din was gladdened with extreme gladness and wondered with the utmost wonder, so he answered her verse with these couplets, "The sun yellowed not in the murk gloom li'en * But lay pearl          enveiled 'neath horizon-chine; Nor showed its crest to the eyes of Morn * But took refuge from          parting with Morning-shine.[FN#435] Take my tear-drops that trickle as chain on chain * And they'll          tell my case with the clearest sign. An my tears be likened to Nile-flood, like * Malak's[FN#436]

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         flooded flat be this love o'mine. Quoth she, 'Bring thy riches!' Quoth I, 'Come, take!' * 'And thy          sleep?' 'Yes, take it from lids of eyne!'" When the girl heard Nur al-Din's words and noted the beauty of his eloquence her senses fled and her wit was dazed and love of him gat hold upon her whole heart. So she pressed him to her bosom and fell to kissing him like the billing of doves, whilst he returned her caresses with successive kisses; but preeminence appertaineth to precedence.[FN#437] When she had made an end of kissing, she took the lute and recited these couplets, "Alas, alack and well-away for blamer's calumny! * Whether or not          I make my moan or plead or show no plea: O spurner of my love I ne'er of thee so hard would deem * That I          of thee should be despised, of thee my property. I wont at lovers' love to rail and for their passion chide, * But          now I fain debase myself to all who rail at thee: Yea, only yesterday I wont all amourists to blame * But now I          pardon hearts that pine for passion's ecstasy; And of my stress of parting-stowre on me so heavy weighs * At

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         morning prayer to Him I'll cry, 'In thy name, O Ali!'" And also these two couplets, "His lovers said, 'Unless he deign to give us all a drink * Of          wine, of fine old wine his lips deal in their purity; We to the Lord of Threefold Worlds will pray to grant our prayer'          * And all exclaim with single cry 'In thy name, O Ali!'" Nur al-Din, hearing these lines and their rhyme, marvelled at the fluency of her tongue and thanked her, praising her grace and passing seductiveness; and the damsel, delighted at his praise, arose without stay or delay and doffing that was upon her of outer dress and trinkets till she was free of all encumbrance sat down on his knees and kissed him between the eyes and on his cheek-mole. Then she gave him all she had put off.—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say. When it was the Eight Hundred and Sixty-ninth Night, She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the girl gave to Nur al-Din all she had doffed, saying, "O beloved of my heart, in very sooth the gift is after the measure of the giver." So he accepted this from her and gave it back to her and kissed her on the mouth and cheeks and eyes. When this was ended and done, for naught is durable save the Living, the Eternal, Provider of the peacock and the owl,[FN#438] Nur al-Din rose from the séance and stood upon his feet, because the darkness was now fallen and the stars shone out; whereupon quoth the damsel to him, "Whither away, O my lord?"; and quoth he, "To my father's home." Then the sons of the merchants conjured him to night with them, but he refused and mounting his shemule, rode, without stopping, till he reached his parent's house, where his mother met him and said to him, "O my son, what hath kept thee away till this hour? By Allah, thou hast troubled myself and thy sire by thine absence from us, and our hearts have been occupied with thee." Then she came up to him, to kiss him on his mouth, and smelling the fumes of the wine, said, "O my wine-bibber and a rebel against Him to whom belong creation and commandment?" But Nur al-Din threw himself down on the bed and lay there. Presently in came his sire and said, "What aileth Nur al-Din to lie thus?"; and his mother answered, "'Twould seem his head acheth for the air of the garden." So Taj al-Din went up to his son, to ask him of his ailment, and salute him, and smelt the reek of wine.[FN#439] Now the merchant loved not wine-drinkers; so he said to Nur al-Din, "Woe to thee, O my son! Is folly come to such a pass with thee, that thou drinkest wine?" When Nur al-Din heard his sire say this, he raised his hand, being yet in his drunkenness, and dealt him a buffet, when by decree of the Decreer the blow lit on his father's right eye which rolled down on his cheek; whereupon he fell a-swoon and lay therein awhile. They sprinkled rose-water on him till he recovered, when he would have beaten his son; but the mother withheld him, and he swore, by the oath of divorce from his wife that, as soon as morning morrowed, he would assuredly cut off his son's right hand.[FN#440] When she heard her husband's words, her breast was straitened and she feared for he son and ceased not to soothe and appease his sire, till sleep overcame him. Then she waited till moon-rise, when she went in to her son, whose drunkenness had now departed from him, and said to him, "O Nur al-Din, what is this foul deed thou diddest with thy sire?" He asked, "And what did I with him?"; and answered she, "Thou dealtest him a buffet on the right eye and struckest it out so that it rolled down his cheek; and he hath sworn by the divorce-oath that, as soon as morning shall morrow he will without fail cut off thy right hand." Nur al-Din repented him of that he had done, whenas repentance profited him naught, and his mother sait to him, "O my son, this penitence will not profit thee; nor will aught avail thee but that thou arise forthwith and seek safety in flight: go forth the house privily and take refuge with one of thy friends and there what Allah shall do await, for he changeth case after case and state upon state." Then she opened a chest and taking out a purse of an hundred dinars said, "O my son, take these dinars and provide thy wants therewith, and when they are at an end, O my son, send and let me know thereof, that I may send thee other than these, and at the same time covey to me news of thyself privily: haply Allah will decree thee relief and thou shalt return to thy home. And she farewelled him and wept passing sore, nought could be more. Thereupon Nur al-Din took the purse of gold and was about to go forth, when he espied a great purse containing a thousand dinars, which his mother had forgotten by the side of the chest. So he took this also and binding the two purses about his middle,[FN#441] set out before dawn threading the streets in the direction of Búlák, where he arrived when day broke and all creatures arose, attesting the unity of Allah the Opener and went forth each of them upon his several business, to win that which Allah had unto him allotted. Reaching Bulak he walked on along the riverbank till he sighted a ship with her gangway out and her four anchors made fast to the land. The folk were going up into her and coming down from her, and Nur al-Din, seeing some sailors there standing, asked them whither they were bound, and they answered, "To Rosetta-city." Quoth he, "Take me with you;" and quoth they, "Well come, and welcome to thee, to thee, O goodly one!" So he betook himself forthright to the market and buying what he needed of vivers and bedding and covering, returned to the port and went on board the ship, which was ready to sail and tarried with him but a little while before she weighed anchor and fared on, without stopping, till she reached Rosetta,[FN#442] where Nur al-Din saw a small boat going to Alexandria. So he embarked in it and traversing the sea-arm of Rosetta fared on till he came to a bridge called Al-Jámí, where he landed and entered Alexandria by the gate called the Gate of the Lote-tree. Allah protected him, so that none of those who stood on guard at the gate saw him, and he walked on till he entered the city.—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say. When it was the Eight Hundred and Seventieth Night,

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She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Nur al-Din entered Alexandria he found it a city goodly of pleasaunces, delightful to its inhabitants and inviting to inhabit therein. Winter had fared from it with his cold and Prime was come to it with his roses: its flowers were kindly ripe and welled forth its rills. Indeed, it was a city goodly of ordinance and disposition; its folk were of the best of men, and when the gates thereof were shut, its folk were safe.[FN#443] And it was even as is said of it in these couplets, "Quoth I to a comrade one day, * A man of good speech and rare, 'Describe Alexandria.' * Quoth he, 'Tis a march-town fair.' Quoth I, 'Is there living therein?' * And he, 'An the wind blow          there.'" Or as saith one of the poets, "Alexandria's a frontier;[FN#444] Whose dews of lips are sweet          and clear; How fair the coming to it is, * So one therein no raven speer!" Nur al-Din walked about the city and ceased not walking till her came to the merchants' bazar, whence he passed on to the mart of the money-changers and so on in turn to the markets of the confectioners and fruiterers and druggists, marvelling, as he went, at the city, for that the nature of its qualities accorded with its name.[FN#445] As he walked in the druggists' bazar, behold, an old man came down from his shop and saluting him, took him by the hand and carried him to his home. And Nur al-Din saw a fair bystreet, swept and sprinkled, whereon the zephyr blew and made pleasantness pervade it and the leaves of the trees overshaded it. Therein stood three houses and at the upper end a mansion, whose foundations were firm sunk in the water and its walls towered to the confines of the sky. They had swept the space before it and they had sprinkled it freshly; so it exhaled the fragrance of flowers, borne on the zephyr which breathed upon the place; and the scent met there who approached it on such wise as it were one of the gardens of Paradise. And, as they had cleaned and cooed the by-street's head, so was the end of it with marble spread. The Shaykh carried Nur al-Din into the house and setting somewhat of food before him ate with his guest. When they had made an end of eating, the druggist said to him, "When camest thou hither from Cairo?"; and Nur al-Din replied, "This very night, O my father." Quoth the old man, "What is thy name?"; and quoth he, "Ali Nur al-Din." Said the druggist, "O my son, O Nur al-Din, be the triple divorce incumbent on me, an thou leave me so long as thou abidest in this city; and I will set thee apart a place wherein thou mayst dwell." Nur al-Din asked, "O my lord the Shaykh, let me know more of thee"; and the other answered, "Know, O my son, that some years ago I went to Cairo with merchandise, which I sold there and bought other, and I had occasion for a thousand dinars. So thy sire Taj al-Din weighed them out[FN#446] for me, all unknowing me, and would take no written word of me, but had patience with me till I returned hither and sent him the amount by one of my servants, together with a gift. I saw thee, whilst thou wast little; and, if it please Allah the Most High, I will repay thee somewhat of the kindness thy father did me." When Nur al-Din heard the old man's story, he showed joy and pulling out with a smile the purse of a thousand dinars, gave it to his host the Shaykh and said to him, "Take charge of this deposit for me, against I buy me somewhat of merchandise whereon to trade." Then he abode some time in Alexandria city taking his pleasure every day in its thoroughfares, eating and drinking ad indulging himself with mirth and merriment till he had made an end of the hundred dinars he had kept by way of spending-money; whereupon he repaired to the old druggist, to take of him somewhat of the thousand dinars to spend, but found him not in his shop and took a seat therein to await his return. He sat there gazing right and left and amusing himself with watching the merchants and passers-by, and as he was thus engaged behold, there came into the bazar a Persian riding on a she-mule and carrying behind him a damsel; as she were argent of alloy free or a fish Balti[FN#447] in mimic sea or a doe-gazelle on desert lea. Her face outshone the sun in shine and she had witching eyne and breasts of ivory white, teeth of marguerite, slender waist and sides dimpled deep and calves like tails of fat sheep;[FN#448] and indeed she was perfect in beauty and loveliness, elegant stature and symmetrical grace, even as saith one, describing her,[FN#449]

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"'Twas as by will of her she was create * Nor short nor long, but          Beauty's mould and mate: Rose blushes reddest when she sees those cheeks * And fruits the          bough those marvel charms amate: Moon is her favour, Musk the scent of her * Branch is her shape:          she passeth man's estate: 'Tis e'en as were she cast in freshest pearl * And every limblet          shows a moon innate." Presently the Persian lighted down from his she-mule and, making the damsel also dismount, loudly summoned the broker and said to him as soon as he came, "Take this damsel and cry her for sale in the market." So he took her and leading her to the middlemost of the bazar disappeared for a while and presently he returned with a stool of ebony, inlaid with ivory, and setting it upon the ground, seated her thereon. Then he raised her veil and discovered a face as it were a Median targe[FN#450] or a cluster of pearls:[FN#451] and indeed she was like the full moon, when it filleth on its fourteenth night, accomplished in brilliant beauty. As saith the poet, "Vied the full moon for folly with her face, * But was          eclipsed[FN#452] and split for rage full sore; And if the spiring Bán with her contend * Perish her hands who          load of fuel bore!"[FN#453]

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And how well saith another, "Say to the fair in the wroughten veil * How hast made that          monk-like worshipper ail? Light of veil and light of face under it * Made the hosts of          darkness to fly from bale; And, when came my glance to steal look at cheek. * With a          meteor-shaft the Guard made me quail."[FN#454] Then said the broker to the merchants,[FN#455] "How much do ye bid for the union-pearl of the diver and prize-quarry of the fowler?" Quoth one, "She is mine for an hundred dinars." And another said, "Two hundred," and a third, "Three hundred"; and they ceased not to bid, one against other, till they made her price nine hundred and fifty dinars, and there the biddings stopped awaiting acceptance and consent.[FN#456]—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say. When it was the Eight Hundred and Seventy-first Night, She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the merchants bid one against other till they made the price of the girl nine hundred and fifty dinars. Then the broker went up to her Persian master and said to him, "The biddings for this thy slavegirl have reached nine hundred and fifty dinars: so say me, wilt thou sell her at that price and take the money?" Asked the Persian, "Doth she consent to this? I desire to fall in with her wishes, for I sickened on my journey hither and this handmaid tended me with all possible tenderness, wherefore I sware not to sell her but to him whom she should like and approve, and I have put her sale in her own hand. So do thou consult her and if she say, 'I consent,' sell her to whom thou wilt: but an she say, 'No,' sell her not." So the broker went up to her and asked her, "O Princess of fair ones, know that thy master putteth thy sale in thine own hands, and thy price hath reached nine hundred and fifty dinars; dost thou give me leave to sell thee?" She answered, "Show me him who is minded to buy me before clinching the bargain." So he brought her up to one of the merchants a man stricken with years and decrepit; and she looked at him a long while, then turned to the broker and said to him, "O broker, art thou Jinn-mad or afflicted in thy wit?" Replied he, "Why dost thou ask me this, O Princess of fair ones?"; and said she, "Is it permitted thee of Allah to sell the like of me to yonder decrepit old man, who saith of his wife's case these couplets,

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'Quoth she to me,—and sore enraged for wounded pride was she, *          For she in sooth had bidden me to that which might not be,— 'An if thou swive me not forthright, as one should swive his          wife, * Thou be made a cuckold straight, reproach it not to          me. Meseems thy yard is made of wax, for very flaccidness; * For when          I rub it with my hand, it softens instantly.'[FN#457] And said he likewise of his yard, 'I have a yard that sleeps in base and shameful way * When grants          my lover boon for which I sue and pray: But when I wake o' mornings[FN#458] all alone in bed, * 'Tis fain          o' foin and fence and fierce for futter-play.' And again quoth he thereof of his yard,

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'I have a froward yard of temper ill * Dishonoring him who shows          it most regard: It stands when sleep I, when I stand it sleeps * Heaven pity not          who pitieth that yard!'" When the old merchant heard this ill flouting from the damsel, he was wroth with wrath exceeding beyond which was no proceeding and said to the broker, "O most ill-omened of brokers, thou hast not brought into the market this ill-conditioned wench but to gibe me and make mock of me before the merchants." Then the broker took her aside and said to her, "O my lady, be not wanting in self-respect. The Shaykh at whom thou didst mock is the Syndic of the bazar and Inspector[FN#459] thereof and a committee-man of the council of the merchants." But she laughed and improvised these two couplets, "It behoveth folk who rule in our time, * And 'tis one of the          duties of magistrateship, To hand up the Wali above his door * And beat with a whip the          Mohtasib!" Adding, "By Allah, O my lord, I will not be sold to yonder old man; so sell me to other than him, for haply he will be abashed at me and vend me again and I shall become a mere servant[FN#460] and it beseemeth not that I sully myself with menial service; and indeed thou knowest that the matter of my sale is committed to myself." He replied, "I hear and I obey," and carried her to a man which was one of the chief merchants. And when standing hard by him the broker asked, "How sayst thou, O my lady? Shall I sell thee to my lord Sharíf al-Dín here for nine hundred and fifty gold pieces?" She looked at him and, seeing him to be an old man with a dyed beard, said to the broker, "Art thou silly, that thou wouldst sell me to this worn out Father Antic? Am I cotton refuse or threadbare rags that thou marchest me about from greybeard to greybeard, each like a wall ready to fall or an Ifrit smitten down of a fire-ball? As for the first, the poet had him in mind when he said,[FN#461] 'I sought of a fair maid to kiss her lips of coral red, But, 'No,

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         by Him who fashioned things from nothingness!' she said. Unto the white of hoary hairs I never had a mind, And shall my          mouth be stuffed, forsooth, with cotton, ere I'm dead?' And how goodly is the saying of the poet, 'The wise have said that white of hair is light that shines and          robes * The face of man with majesty and light that awes the          sight; Yet until hoary seal shall stamp my parting-place of hair * I          hope and pray that same may be black as the blackest night. Albe Time-whitened beard of man be like the book he bears[FN#462]          * When to his Lord he must return, I'd rather 'twere not          white,' And yet goodlier is the saying of another,

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'A guest hath stolen on my head and honour may he lack! * The          sword a milder deed hath done that dared these locks to          hack. Avaunt, O Whiteness,[FN#463] wherein naught of brightness          gladdens sight * Thou 'rt blacker in the eyes of me than          very blackest black!' As for the other, he is a model of wantonness and scurrilousness and a blackener of the face of hoariness; his dye acteth the foulest of lies: and the tongue of his case reciteth these lines,[FN#464] 'Quoth she to me, 'I see thou dy'st thy hoariness;' and I, 'I do          but hide it from thy sight, O thou mine ear and eye!' She laughed out mockingly and said, 'A wonder 'tis indeed! Thou          so aboundest in deceit that even thy hair's a lie.' And how excellent is the saying of the poet,

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'O thou who dyest hoariness with black, * That youth wi' thee          abide, at least in show; Look ye, my lot was dyèd black whilome * And (take my word!) none          other hue 'twill grow.'" When the old man with dyed beard heard such words from the slave-girl, he raged with exceeding rage in fury's last stage and said to the broker, "O most ill-omened of brokers, this day thou hast brought to our market naught save this gibing baggage to flout at all who are therein, one after other, and fleer at them with flyting verse and idle jest?" And he came down from his shop and smote on the face the broker, who took her an angered and carried her away, saying to her, "By Allah, never in my life saw I a more shameless wench than thyself![FN#465] Thou hast cut off my daily bread and thine own this day and all the merchants will bear me a grudge on thine account." Then they saw on the way a merchant called Shihab al-Din who bid ten dinars more for her, and the broker asked her leave to sell her to him. Quoth she, "Trot him out that I may see him and question him of a certain thing, which if he have in his house, I will be sold to him; and if not, then not." So the broker left her standing there and going up to Shihab al-Din, said to him, "O my lord, know that yonder damsel tells me she hath a mind to ask thee somewhat, which an thou have, she will be sold to thee. Now thou hast heard what she said to thy fellows, the merchants,"—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say. When it was the Eight Hundred and Seventy-second Night, She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the broker said to the merchant, "Thou hast heard what this handmaid said to thy fellows, the traders, and by Allah, I fear to bring her to thee, lest she do with thee like as she did with thy neighbours and so I fall into disgrace with thee: but, an thou bid me bring her to thee, I will bring her." Quoth the merchant, "Hither with her to me." "Hearing and obeying," answered the broker and fetched for the purchaser the damsel, who looked at him and said, "O my lord, Shihab al-Din, hast thou in thy house round cushions stuffed with ermine strips?" Replied Shihab al-Din, "Yes, O Princess of fair ones, I have at home half a score such cushions; but I conjure thee by Allah, tell me, what will thou do with them?" Quoth she, "I will bear with thee till thou be asleep, when I will lay them on thy mouth and nose and press them down till thou die." Then she turned to the broker and said to him, "O thou refuse of brokers, meseemeth thou art mad, in that thou showest me this hour past, first to a pair of greybeards, in each of whom are two faults, and then thou proferrest me to my lord Shihab al-Din wherein be three defects; and thirdly, he is dwarfish, secondly, he hath a nose which is big, and thirdly, he hath a beard which is long. Of him quoth one of the poets, 'We never heard of wight nor yet espied * Who amid men three          gifts hath unified: To wit, a beard one cubit long, a snout * Span-long and figure          tall a finger wide:'

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And quoth another poet, 'From the plain of his face springs a minaret * Like a bezel of          ring on his finger set: Did creation enter that vasty nose * No created thing would          elsewhere be met.'" When Shihab al-Din heard this, he came down from his shop and seized the broker by the collar, saying, "O scurviest of brokers, what aileth thee to bring us a damsel to flout and make mock of us, one after other, with her verses and talk that a curse is?" So the broker took her and carried her away from before him and fared, saying, "By Allah, all my life long, since I have plied this profession never set I eyes on the like of thee for unmannerliness nor aught more curst to me than thy star, for thou hast cut off my livelihood this day and I have gained no profit by thee save cuffs on the neck-nape and catching by the collar!" Then he brought her to the shop of another merchant, owner of negro slaves and white servants, and stationing her before him, said to her, "Wilt thou be sold to this my lord 'Alá al-Dín?" She looked at him and seeing him hump-backed, said, "This is a Gobbo, and quoth the poet of him, 'Drawn in thy shoulders are and spine thrust out, * As seeking          star which Satan gave the lout;[FN#466] Or as he tasted had first smack of scourge * And looked in marvel          for a second bout.' And saith another on the same theme,

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'As one of you who mounted mule, * A sight for me to ridicule: Is 't not a farce? Who feels surprise * An start and bolt with him the mule?' And another on a similar subject, 'Oft hunchback addeth to his bunchy back * Faults which gar folk          upon his front look black: Like branch distort and dried by length of days * With citrons          hanging from it loose and slack.'" With this the broker hurried up to her and, carrying her to another merchant, said to her, "Wilt thou be sold to this one?" She looked at him and said, "In very sooth this man is blue-eyed;[FN#467] how wilt thou sell me to him?" Quoth one of the poets, 'His eyelids sore and bleared * Weakness of frame denote: Arise, ye folk and see * Within his eyes the mote!'" Then the broker carried her to another and she looked at him and seeing that he had a long beard, said to the broker, "Fie upon thee! This is a ram, whose tail hath sprouted from his gullet. Wilt thou sell me to him, O unluckiest of brokers? Hast thou not heard say: 'All long of beard are little of wits? Indeed, after the measure of the length of the beard is the lack of sense; and this is a well-known thing

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