4-a- Night Adventure of Harun Al-Rashid and the Youth Manjab - Story of the Darwaysh and the Barber's Boy and the Greedy Sultan

It is related (but Allah is All-knowing of hidden things and All-wise!) that in the days of a King called Dahmár[FN#151] there was a barber who had in his booth a boy for apprentice and one day of the days there came in a Darwaysh man who took seat and turning to the lad saw that he was a model of beauty and loveliness and stature and symmetric grace. So he asked him for a mirror and when it was brought he took it and considered his face therein and combed his beard, after which he put hand in pouch and pulling out an Ashrafi of gold set it upon the looking-glass which he gave back to the boy.[FN#152] Hereupon the barber turned towards the beggar and wondered in himself and said, "Praise be to Allah, albeit this man be a Fakir yet he placeth a golden piece upon the mirror, and surely this is a marvellous matter." Hereupon the Darwaysh went his ways, and on the following day he suddenly made his appearance and entering the booth called for a looking-glass from the barber"s prentice and when it was handed to him combed his beard after he had looked at his features therein; then, bringing forth an Ashrafi, he set it upon the mirror and gave it back to the boy; and the barber marvelled yet the more to see the Fakir rising up and wending his ways.[FN#153] The beggar ceased not coming every day and gazing at himself in the glass and laying down his ducat, whereat the barber said to himself, "By Allah, indeed this Darwaysh must have some object of his own and haply he is in love with the lad my prentice and I fear from the beggar lest he seduce the boy and take him away from me." Hereat he cried, "O boy, when the Darwaysh shall come to thee draw thou not anear him; and when he demandeth the looking-glass give it not to him; for I myself will do so." On the third day behold, the Fakir appeared according to his custom and asked for the mirror from the boy who wittingly disregarded him, whereupon he turned towards him and waxed wroth[FN#154] and was like to slay him. The apprentice was terrified at his rage and gave him the looking-glass whilst he was still an-angered; but when the man had reviewed himself therein and had combed his beard and had finished his need, he brought out ten dinars of gold and setting them upon the mirror handed them to the lad. Seeing this the barber wondered anew with extreme wonderment, saying to himself, "By Allah, this Darwaysh cometh daily and layeth down an Ashrafi, but this day he hath given ten gold pieces; withal there accrueth not to me from my shop even half a piastre of daily wage. However, O Boy, when the man shall come hither, as is his wont, do thou spread for him a prayer-rug in the inner room of the shop, lest the people seeing his constant visits should have ill suspicions of us." "Yes!" said the lad. So when it was the next day the Fakir came and went into the ben whither he was shown by the boy, and he followed him till they were in the innermost of the booth. Now the heart of this Religious hung to the love of the barber"s boy for that he had of beauty and perfection and he continued frequenting the shop every day whilst the lad ceased not spreading the rug and receiving upon the mirror ten Ashrafis. Hereat the barber and his apprentice rejoiced till one day of the days when the Darwaysh came to the shaving-shop, as was his wont, where he met none but only the boy nor was there any other in sight. So he asked concerning his employer and the other answered, "O uncle, my master hath gone forth to solace himself with seeing the casting of the cannon; for this day the Sultan and the Wazir and the Lords of the land will all be present thereat." Said he, "O my son, go thou with us and we will also enjoy the spectacle and return before the rest of the folk, ere thy master can be back, and we will enjoy ourselves and make merry and look at the sport before I set out upon my journey, for "tis my intention this day to go forth about noontide." Quoth the lad, ""Tis well O uncle;" and arising he locked the shop-door and walked with the Darwaysh till they reached the spot where the cannon were being cast. There they found the Sultan and the Wazirs and the Chamberlains and the Lords of the land and the Grandees of the realm all standing in a body until presently the workmen took the crucibles[FN#155] from off the ore. Now the first who went up to them was the Sultan and he found them full of molten brass: so he put his hand into his pocket and drew it forth full of gold which he cast into the melting pots. Then the Grand Wazir walked forward and did as the King had done and all the Notables who were present threw cash into the crucibles, bar-silver and piastres and dollars. Thereat the Darwaysh stepped out of the crowd and brought from his cowl a reed used as an étui[FN#156] wherefrom he drew a spoon-like ear-picker and cast into one of the crucibles a something of powder like grain.[FN#157] This he did to each one of the melting pots; after which he disappeared from the eyes of the folk and taking the boy with him returned to the booth and opened it and said to him, "O my child, when the Sultan shall send after thee and shall question thee concerning me, do thou tell him that I am in such a town where shouldst thou come to seek me thou shalt find me sitting beside the gate." Then he farewelled the boy, the barber"s apprentice, and set forth seeking that city. Such was the case with these twain; but as regards the matter of the King, he ceased not standing there until they had brought the crucibles to the cannon-moulds and when the folks designed to pour out their contents they found all therein pure gold. Then quoth the Sultan to the Wazir and the Notables of his realm, "Who was it threw aught into the crucibles and what stranger man happened to be here?" Quoth they, "We beheld a Darwaysh man who took some powder and fell to casting thereof a somewhat into the crucibles." Hereupon enquiries were made of the bystanders and they gave information how that same Darwaysh was inclined to the barber"s apprentice who lived in such a quarter. Hereupon the Sultan ordered one of his Chamberlains to bring the boy,--And Shahrazad was surprised by the dawn of day and fell silent and ceased to say her permitted say. Then quoth her sister Dunyazad, "How sweet is thy story, O sister mine, and how enjoyable and delectable!" Quoth she, "And where is this compared with that I would relate to you on the coming night an the King suffer me to survive?" Now when it was the next night and that was


The Six Hundred and Fifty-third Night,


Dunyazad said to her, "Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou be other than sleepy, finish for us thy tale that we may cut short the watching of this our latter night!" She replied, "With love and good will!" It hath reached me, O auspicious King, the director, the right-guiding, lord of the rede which is benefiting and of deeds fair-seeming and worthy celebrating, that the Sultan sent one of his Chamberlains to the boy, the apprentice of the barber, whom they sought for and brought into the presence and placed between the royal hands; and he on entering kissed ground and deprecated and prayed for his liege lord with prayers fit for the Caliphs. The Sovran returned his salam and questioned him concerning the Darwaysh who had been with him and he replied, "O King of the Realm, he charged me saying that he was faring for and would be found in such a city." Hereupon the Sultan commanded the lad go forth and bring him, and was answered, "Hearkening and obedience;" so he appointed for him an especial ship and gifted him with various presents and the boy set sail and voyaged for a short while till he reached the port-town in question. Here he landed and made for the city-gate and as he entered it behold, he came face to face with the Darwaysh who was sitting upon a raised bench, and when he beheld him he salam"d to him and told him what had taken place. The Fakir at once arose, and without resisting the lad, went down to the ship and they shook out the sails and the two voyaged together until they reached the city of the Sultan. Here the twain went in to him and kissed ground between his hands and salam"d to him and their greeting was answered. Now as to the lad, the King largessed him largely and raised his degree to Governor and despatched him to one of his provinces therein to rule;[FN#158] but as for the Darwaysh, he remained beside King Dahmar the first day and the second until the seventh; after which quoth the Sovran, ""Tis my desire that thou teach me the art and mystery of making gold;" whereto the other replied, "Hearing and obeying, O our lord the Sultan." Presently the Darwaysh arose; and, bringing a brazier,[FN#159] ranged thereupon the implements of his industry and lighted a fire thereunder; then, fetching a portion of lead and a modicum of tin and a quant. suff. of copper, the whole weighing about a quintal, he fanned the flame that was beneath the crucible until the metal was fluid as water. And while the Sultan was sitting and looking on and considering the operation, the Fakir brought out something from a casket and taking a pinch of it on the ear-picker besprinkled therewith the lead and copper and the tin which presently became virgin gold. He repeated this feat once or twice before the King who after that fell to working as the Religious had wrought and turned out in his presence the purest gold. So the Sultan rejoiced and was wont to sit before the Darwaysh whatever time his heart chose[FN#160] and there and then he gathered together ignoble metals and besprinkled them with the powder[FN#161] which had been given to him by the Fakir and all came out of the noblest gold. Now one night of the nights, as the Sultan was sitting in his Harem and would have worked as he had wrought in the presence of the Darwaysh, nothing went right with him; whereat he was exceedingly sorrowful and said, "I have neither magnified nor minished aught, so how is this case?"[FN#162] As soon as it was morning he forgathered with the Fakir and worked in his presence and produced virgin gold; so in his surprise he said, "Walláhi, "tis indeed most marvellous that whatso I work alone cometh not right and when I have wrought in presence of the Darwaysh it succeedeth and turneth to gold." After this the Sultan never transmuted metals save in the presence of the Fakir, until one day of the days when his breast was narrowed and he sought recreation in the gardens. Accordingly he rode forth, he and the Lords of the land, taking also the Darwaysh with him and he went to the riverside, the Monarch preceding and the Mendicant following together with the suite. And as the King rode along with a heavy hand upon the reins he grasped them strongly and his fist closed upon them; but suddenly he relaxed his grip when his seal-ring flew from his little finger and fell into the water, where it sank to the bottom. Seeing this the Sultan drew bridle and halted and said, "We will on no wise remove from this place till such time as my seal-ring shall be restored to me." So the suite dismounted, one and all, and designed plunging into the stream, when behold, the Fakir finding the King standing alone and in woeful plight by cause of his signet asked him saying, "What is to do with thee, O King of the Age, that I find thee here halted?" He replied, "Verily my signet-ring of Kingship[FN#163] hath dropped from me into the river somewhere about this place." Quoth the Darwaysh, "Be not grieved, O our lord;" after which he brought out from his breast pocket a pencase, and having drawn from it a bit of bees" wax, he fashioned it into the form of a man and cast it into the water. Then he stood gazing thereat when, lo and behold! the Figure came forth the river with the seal-ring hanging to its neck and sprang upon the saddle-bow in front of the Sultan. The King would have taken his signet when the Form jumped off and approached the Darwaysh who hent the ring in hand and rubbed it and the Figure at once became wax as it had been. Hereupon the Darwaysh restored it to his pencase and said to the Sovran, "Now do thou ride on!" All this and the Lords of the land sat gazing upon the Darwaysh and what he had done; after which the whole party fared forwards till they reached the gardens, where they dismounted and took seat and fell to conversing together. They enjoyed themselves that day and when evening fell they remounted and sought their homes, and the Darwaysh returned to the apartment which had been set apart for him. But presently the Grandees of the realm forgathered with the Sultan and said to him, "O King of the Age, yon Darwaysh requireth of thee exceeding caution seeing that he, whenso he ever will, availeth to slay everyone in the Palace, and after doing thee die can raise himself to rule in thy stead." "How so?" quoth the King, and quoth they, "In that "twere easy for him to make Figures of wax and cause them prevail over thee and over us, so that they may kill us and he may succeed thee as Sultan; nor would this be aught of inconvenience to him." Now when the King heard these words he was afeared and cried, "By Allah, sooth ye speak, and this is the right rede and one which may not be blamed indeed!" presently adding, "And how shall we manage with this Darwaysh?" Said they, "Do thou send for him and summon him and slay him forthright; and better "twere that thou kill him ere he kill thee;[FN#164] and if he say thee "I will go and return," suffer him not depart." The Sultan acted after their counsel and sending to fetch the Fakir--And Shahrazad was surprised by the dawn of day and fell silent and ceased saying her permitted say. Then quoth her sister Dunyazad, "How sweet and tasteful is thy tale, O sister mine, and how enjoyable and delectable!" Quoth she, "And where is this compared with that I would relate to you on the coming night an the Sovran suffer me to survive?" Now when it was the next night and that was


The Six Hundred and Fifty-fifth Night,


Dunyazad said to her, "Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou be other than sleepy, finish for us thy tale that we may cut short the watching of this our latter night!" She replied, "With love and good will!" It hath reached me, O auspicious King, the director, the right-guiding, lord of the rede which is benefiting and of deeds fair-seeming and worthy celebrating, that the Sultan sent after the Darwaysh and bade him be brought into the presence and set between his hands, when he said to him, "O Darwaysh, do thou know "tis mine aim and intention to slay thee: say me then, hast thou any charge thou wouldst send to thy family?" Quoth the Religious, "Wherefore shouldst thou kill me, O our lord, and what of ill deeds hath proceeded from me that thou shouldst destroy me therefor, and do thou make me aware of my sin, and then if I merit death kill me or decree to me banishment." Quoth the King, "There is no help but that I slay thee,"[FN#165] and the Darwaysh fell to gentling him but it availed him naught; so as soon as he was certified that the Sultan would not release him or dismiss him, he arose and drew a wide ring upon the ground in noose shape and measuring some fifteen ells, within which he described a lesser circle. Then he stood up before the Sovran and said, "O King of the Age, verily this greater circle is the dominion belonging to thee, whilst the lesser round is mine own realm." So saying he moved from his place and stepped forwards and passing into the smaller ring quoth he, "An thy reign, O King of the Age, be not ample for me I will inhabit my own;" and forthright upon entering the lesser circle he vanished from the view of those present. Cried the Sultan to the Lords of the land, "Seize him"; but they availed not to find him, and after going forth in search they returned and reported that they could light upon no one. Then said the Sovran, "He was beside me in this place and passed into the smaller ring; so do ye seek for him again;" and accordingly they went forth once more but could not see a trace of him. Hereupon the Sultan repented and cried, "There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah the Glorious, the Great: verily we have exceeded in the matter of this Darwaysh and we have hearkened to the words of hypocrites who caused us to fall into trouble by obeying them in all they said to me against him. However, whatso they did to me that will I do unto them." And as soon as it was morning-tide and the Lords of the land forgathered in the Divan, the Sultan commanded to slay those who had counselled him to kill the Darwaysh, and some of them were done to death and others of them were banished the country.[FN#166] Now when the Caliph Harun al-Rashid heard this narrative from Manjab, he wondered with extreme wonderment and said to him, "By Allah, O Manjab, thou deservest to be a cup-companion of the Kings:" so he created him from that moment his Equerry in honour to the Grand Wazir Ja"afar the Barmaki, whereof he had become brother-in-law. Now after some time Al-Rashid asked from Manjab a tale concerning the wiles of womankind, and when the youth hung his head groundwards and blushed before him, Harun said to him, "O Manjab, verily the place of the Kings in privacy is also the place for laying aside gravity." Said Manjab, "O Prince of True Believers, to-morrow night (Inshallah!) I will tell thee a tale in brief concerning the freaks of the gender feminine, and what things they do with their mates." Accordingly when night came on, the Caliph sent for and summoned Manjab to the presence, and when he came there he kissed ground and said, "An it be thy will, O Commander of the Faithful, that I relate thee aught concerning the wiles of wives, let it be in a private place lest haply one of the slave-girls hear me and any of them report my tale to the Queen." Quoth Rashid, "This is the right rede which may not be blamed indeed!" So he went with him to a private place concealed from the folk, and took seat, he and the youth, and none beside, when Manjab related to