4- The Tale of the Warlock and the Young Cook of Baghdad

Here we begin with the aidance of Allah Almighty, the Tale of the Warlock and the Young Cook of Baghdad.[FN#234] It is related (and Allah is All knowing!) of a certain man which was a Warlock, that Destiny crave him from town to town until at last he entered Baghdad city and dismounted at a Khán of the Khans where he spent the night of arrival. Then, rising betimes next morning, he walked about the highways and wandered around the lanes and he stinted not passing from market street to market street, solacing himself with a sight of many places, till he reached the Long Bazar, whence he could descry the whole site of the city. Now he narrowly considered the land, and, lo and behold! it was a capital sans peer amongst the cities, where-through coursed the Dajlah River blended with the River Furát[FN#235] and over the united stream were thrown seven bridges of boats; all these were bound one to other for the folk to pass over on their several pursuits, especially for the pleasure seekers who fared forth to the palm orchards and the vergiers abounding in fruits while the birds were hymning Allah, the Sole, the All-conquering. Now one day as this Warlock was amusing himself amongst the markets he passed by the shop of a Cook before whom were set for sale dressed meats of all kinds and colours;[FN#236] and, looking at the youth, he saw that he was rising fourteen and beautiful as the moon on the fourteenth night; and he was elegant and habited in a habit as it had just come from the tailor"s hand for its purity and excellent fit, and one had said that he (the artisan) had laboured hard thereat, for the sheen of it shimmered like unto silver.[FN#237] Then the Warlock considering the face of this Cook saw his colour wan as the hue of metal leaves[FN#238] and he was lean of limb;[FN#239] so he took station facing him and said to him, "The Peace be upon thee, O my brother," and said the other in reply, "And upon thee be The Peace and the Truth of Allah and His blessings: so well come to thee and welcome and fair welcome. Honour me, O my lord, by suffering me to serve thee with the noonday meal." Hereat the Wizard entered the shop and the Kitchener took up two or three platters white as the whitest silver; and, turning over into each one a different kind of meat set them between the hands of the stranger who said to him, "Seat thee, O my son." And when his bidding was obeyed he added, "I see thee ailing and thy complexion is yellow exceedingly: what be this hath affected thee and what is thy disorder and what limb of thy limbs paineth thee and is it long since thou art in such case?" Now when the Cook heard this say he drew a sigh of regret from the depths of his heart and the soles of his feet and quoth he weeping, "Allah upon thee, O my lord, remind me not of that hath betided me!" But quoth the other, "Tell me what may be thy disease and whereof cost thou complain; nor conceal from me thy pain; for that I am a physician and by aidance of Allah an experienced; and I have a medicine for thy malady." Hereat the youth fell to moaning and groaning and presently replied, "In very sooth, O my lord, I have nor pain nor complaint, save that I am a lover." The Warlock asked, "Art thou indeed a lover?" whereto the Cook make answer, "And not only a lover but a lover parted from his beloved." "On whom hangeth thy heart, say me?" continued the Mediciner and the youth replied, "Leave me for the nonce till such time as I am quit of my business, and return to me about mid-afternoon, that I may inform thee of mine affair and acquaint thee with the case I am in." The Warlock rejoined, "Arise now to thy work lest it be miswrought by loitering;" and so saying he ate whatso of meats had been served up to him and fared forth to thread the Bazars of Baghdad and solace himself by seeing the city. But when it was the hour of Al "Asr--the mid afternoon prayer--he went back to the Cook and found that by this time he had wrought all his work, and as soon as the youth sighted him he rejoiced in him and his spirits were cheered and he said in his mind, "Haply joy shall come to me from the healing hand of this Mediciner;" so he shut his shop and taking with him his customer tried him to his own home. Now this young Kitchener was of amplest means which he had inherited from either parent; so as soon as they entered his quarters he served up food and the two ate and drank and were gladdened and comforted. After this quoth the guest to his host, "Now relate to me the manner of thy story and what is the cause of thy disorder?" "O my lord," quoth the youth, "I must inform thee that the Caliph Al-Mu"tazid bi"llah,[FN#240] the Commander of the Faithful, hath a daughter fair of favour, and gracious of gesture; beautiful delightsome and dainty of waist and flank, a maiden in whom all the signs and signals of loveliness are present, and the tout ensemble is independent of description: seer never saw her like and relator never related of aught that eveneth her in stature and seemlihead and graceful bearing of head. Now albeit a store of suitors galore, the grandees and the Kings, asked her from the Caliph, her sire refused to part with her, nor gave her neither would he give her to any one thereof. And every Friday when fare the folk to the Mosques that they pray the prayers of meeting-day, all the merchants and men who buy and sell and the very artisans and what not, leave their shops and warehouses[FN#241] and taverns[FN#242] unbolted and wide open and flock to congregational devotions. And at such time this rare maiden cometh down from her palace and solaceth herself with beholding the Bazars and anon she entereth the Hammam and batheth therein and straightway goeth forth and fareth homewards. But one Friday said I to myself, "I will not go to the Mosque, for I would fain look upon her with a single look;" and when prayer- time came and the folk flocked to the fane for divine service, I hid myself within my shop Presently that august damsel appeared with a comitive of forty handmaidens all as full moons newly risen and each fairer than her fellows, while she amiddlemost rained light upon them as she were the irradiating sun; and the bondswomen would have kept her from sight by thronging around her and they carried her skirts by means of bent rods[FN#243] golden and silvern. I looked at her but one look when straightway my heart fell in love to her burning as a live coal and from mine eyes tears railed and until now I am still in that same yearning, and what yearning!" And so saying the youth cried out with an outcry whereby his soul was like to leave his body. "Is this case still thy case?" asked the Warlock, and the youth answered, "Yes, O my lord;" when the other enquired, "An I bring thee and her together what wilt thou give me?" and the young Cook replied, "My money and my life which shall be between thy hands!" Hereupon quoth the Mediciner, "Up with thee and bring me a phial of metal and seven needles and a piece of fresh Lign-aloes;[FN#244] also a bit of cooked meat,[FN#245] and somewhat of sealing-clay and the shoulder-blade of a sheep together with felt and sendal of seven kinds." The youth fared forth and did his bidding, when the Sage took the shoulder-blades and wrote upon them Koranic versets and adjurations which would please the Lord of the Heavens and, wrapping them in felt, swathed them with silken stuff of sevenfold sorts. Then, taking the phial he thrust the seven needles into the green Lign-aloes and set it in the cooked meat which he made fast with the sealing clay. Lastly he conjured over these objects with a Conjuration[FN#246] which was, "I have knocked, I have knocked at the hall doors of Earth to summon the Jánn, and the Jánn have knocked for the Jánn against the Shaytán." Hereat appeared to me the son of Al bin Imrán[FN#247] with a snake and baldrick"d with a basilisk and cried, "Who be this trader and son of a slave-girl who hath knocked at the ground for us this evening?" "Then do thou, O youth, reply, "I am a lover and of age youthful and my love is to a young lady; and unto your gramarye I have had recourse, O folk of manliness and generosity and masterful deeds: so work ye with me and confirm mine affair and aid me in this matter. See ye not how Such an one, daughter of Such an one, oppression and wrong to me hath done, nor is she with me in affection as she was anon?" They shall answer thee, "Let it be, as is said, in the tail;"[FN#248] then do thou set the objects upon a fire exceeding fierce and recite then over them, "This be the business; and were Such-an- one, daughter of Such-an-one, within the well of Káshán[FN#249] or in the city Ispahan or in the towns of men who with cloaks buttoned tight and ever ready good fame to blight,[FN#250] let her come forth and seek union with the beloved." Whereto she will reply "Thou art the lord and I am the bondswoman." " Now the youth abode marvelling at such marvel-forms and the Warlock having repeated to him these words three times, turned to him and said "Arise to thy feet and perfume and fumigate thy person and don thy choicest dress and dispread thy bed, for at this very hour thou shalt see thy mistress by thy side." And so saying the Sage cast out of hand the shoulder-blades and set the phial upon the fire. Thereupon the youth arose without stay or delay and bringing a bundle of raiment the rarest, he spread it and habited himself, doing whatso the Wizard had bidden him; withal could he not believe that his mistress would appear. However ere a scanty space of time had elapsed, lo and behold! the young lady bearing her bedding[FN#251] and still sleeping passed through the house door and she was bright and beautiful as the easting sun. But when the youth the Cook sighted her, he was perplex" and his wits took flight with his sense and he cried aloud saying, "This be naught save a wondrous matter!" "And the same," quoth the Sage, "is that requiredst thou." Quoth the Cook, "And thou, O my lord art of the Hallows of Allah," and kissed his hand and thanked him for his kindly deed. "Up with thee and take thy pleasure," cried the Warlock; so the lover crept under the coverlet into the bed and he threw his arms round the fair one and kissed her between the eyes; after which he bussed her on the mouth. She sensed a sensation in herself and straightway awaking opened her eyes and beheld a youth embracing her, so she asked him, "Ho thou, who art thou?" Answered he, "One by thine eyes a captive ta"en and of thy love the slain and of none save thyself the fain." Hereat she looked at him with a look which her heart for love longing struck and again asked him, "O my beloved; say me then, who art thou, a being of mankind or of Jánn-kind?" whereto he answered, "I am human and of the most honourable." She resumed, "Then who was it brought me hither to thee?" and he responded, "The Angels and the Spirits, the Jinns and the Jann." "Then I swear thee, O my dearling," quoth she, "that thou bid them bear me hither to thine arms every night," and quoth he, "Hearkening and obeying, O my lady, and for me also this be the bourne of all wishes." Then, each having kissed other, they slept in mutual embrace until dawn. But when the morning morrowed and showed its sheen and shone, behold, the Warlock appeared and, calling the youth who came to him with a smiling face, said to him, "How was it with thy soul this night?"[FN#252] and both lovers cried, "We were in the Garden of Paradise together with the Hur and Ghilman:[FN#253] Allah requite thee for us with all weal." Then they passed into the Hammam and when they had bathed, the youth said, "O my lord, what shall we do with the young lady and how shall she hie to her household and what shall be the case of me without her?" "Feel no grief," said the other, "and quit all care of anything: e"en as she came so shall she go; nor shall any of Almighty Allah"s creatures know aught of her." Hereat the Sage dismissed her by the means which conveyed her, nor did she cease to bear her bedding with her every night and to visit the youth with all joyance and delight. Now after a few weeks had gone by, this young lady happening to be upon the terrace roof of her palace in company with her mother, turned her back to the sun, and when the heat struck her between the shoulders her belly swelled; so her parent asked her, "O my daughter, what hast thou that thou justest out after this wise?" "I wot naught thereof," answered she; so the mother put forth her hand to the belly of her child and found her pregnant; whereupon she screamed and buffeted her face and asked, "Whence did this befal thee?" The women- attendants all heard her cries and running up to her enquired, "What hath caused thee, O our lady, such case as this?" whereto she replied, "I would bespeak the Caliph." So the women sought him and said, "O our lord, thou art wanted by our lady;" and he did their bidding and went to his wife, but at first sight he noted the condition of his daughter and asked her, "What is to do with thee and what hath brought on thee such calamity?" Hereupon the Princess told him how it was with her and he exclaimed as he heard it, "O my daughter, I am the Caliph and Commander of the Faithful, and thou hast been sought to wife of me by the Kings of the earth one and all, but thou didst not accept them as connections and now thou doest such deed as this! I swear the most binding oaths and I vow by the tombs of my sires and my grandsires, an thou say me sooth thou shalt be saved; but unless thou tell me truth concerning whatso befel thee and from whom came this affair and the quality of the man"s intention thee- wards, I will slaughter thee and under earth I will sepulchre thee." Now when the Princess heard from her father"s mouth these words and had pondered this swear he had sworn she replied, "O my sire, albeit lying may save yet is truth-telling the more saving side. Verily, O my father, "tis some time before this day that my bed beareth me up every night and carrieth me to a house of the houses wherein dwelleth a youth, a model of beauty and loveliness, who causeth every seer to languish; and he beddeth with me and sleepeth by my side until dawn, when my couch uplifteth me and returneth with me to the Palace: nor wot I the manner of my going and the mode of my coming is alike unknown to me." The Caliph hearing these her words marvelled at this her tale with exceeding marvel and fell into the uttermost of wonderment, but bethinking him of his Wazir, a man of penetrative wit, sagacious, astute, argute exceedingly, he summoned him to the presence and acquainted him as soon as he came with this affair and what had befallen his daughter; to wit, how she was borne away in her bed without knowing whither or aught else. Quoth the Minister after taking thought for a full told hour, "O Caliph of the Time and the Age, I have a device by whose virtue I do opine we shall arrive at the stead whither wendeth the Princess;" and quoth the Caliph "What may be this device of thine?" "Bid bring me a bag;" rejoined the Wazir, "which I will let fill with millet;"[FN#254] so they brought him one and he after stuffing the same with grain set it upon the girl"s bed and close to her where lay her head, leaving the mouth open to the intent that when during the coming night her couch might be carried away, the millet in going and returning might be shed upon the path. "Allah bless thee, Ho thou the Wazir!" cried the Caliph: "this device of thine is passing good and fair fall it for a sleight than which naught can be slyer and good luck to it for a proof than which naught can be better proven." Now as soon as it was even-tide, the couch was carried off as had happened every night and the grain was strown broad cast upon the path, like a stream, from the gateway of the Palace to the door of the young Cook"s lodging, wherein the Princess righted as was her wont until dawn of day. And when morn appeared the Sage came and carried off with him the youth to the Hammam where he found privacy and said to him, "O my son, an thou ask me aught touching thy mistress"s kith and kin, I bid thee know that they have indeed discovered her condition and against thee they have devised a device." Exclaimed the youth, "Verily we are Allah"s and unto Him are we returning! What may be thy rede in this affair? An they slay me I shall be a martyr on Allah"s path;[FN#255] but do thou wend thy ways and save thyself and may the Almighty requite thee with all of welfare; thee, through whom mine every wish I have won, and the whole of my designs I have fulfilled; after which let them do with me as they desire." The Warlock replied, "O my son, grieve not neither fear, for naught shall befal thee of harm, and I purpose to show thee marvels and miracles wroughten upon them." When the youth heard these words his spirits were cheered, and joying with joy exceeding he replied, "Almighty Allah reward thee for me with fullest welfare!" Then the twain went forth the Hammam and tried them home. But as soon as morning morrowed, the Wazir repaired to the Caliph; and, both going to the Princess together, found her in her bower and the bag upon her bed clean empty of millet, at sight of which the Minister exclaimed, "Now indeed we have caught our debtor. Up with us and to horse, O Caliph of the Age, and sum and substance of the Time and the Tide, and follow we the millet and track its trail." The Com mender of the Faithful forthright gave orders to mount, and the twain, escorted by their host, rode forth on the traces of the grain till they drew near the house, when the youth heard the jingle and jangle[FN#256] of horses" tramp and the wrangle and cangle of men"s outcries. Upon this said the Cook to the Warlock, "Here they draw near to seize me, O my lord, what is there now for me to do?" and said the other, "Rise and fill me an ewer with water then mount therewith to the terrace-roof and pour the contents round and about the house, after which come down to me." The youth did his bidding, and meanwhile the Caliph and the Wazir and the soldiery had approached the house when, lo and behold! the site had become an island amiddlemost a main dashing with clashing billows.[FN#257] But when the Commander of the Faithful sighted this sea, he was perplexed with mighty great perplexity and enquired of the Wazir, "At what time did such great water appear in this place?" The Minister replied, "I never knew that here was any stream, albe well I wot that the Tigris river floweth amiddlemost the capital; but this is a magical current." So saying he bade the soldiery urge their horses into the water sans fear, and every one crave as he had directed until all who entered lost their lives and a many of men were drowned. Hereupon cried the Prince of True Believers, "O Wazir, we are about to destroy our host and to fare with them!" and cried the other, "How shall we act, O Caliph of the Age? Haply our first, nay our best way, is to ask help of those within the house and grant to them indemnity while they exchange words with us and we see anon what will come of their affair." "Do as beseemeth thee," answered the Prince of True Believers; whereupon the Minister commanded his men to cry aloud upon the household and they sued for help during a length of time. But the Sage, hearing their shouts, said to the youth, "Arise and go up to the terrace and say to the Caliph of the Age, "Thou art in safety; turn away thy steps hence and presently we will meet thy Highness in health and weal; otherwise[FN#258] thy daughter shall be lost and thine army shall be destroyed, and thou, O Commander of the Faithful, wilt depart and return as one outdriven. Do thou wend thy ways: this be not the mode of meeting us and in such manner there is no management." " The Cook did as he was bidden, and when the twain heard his words, quoth the Wazir to the Caliph, "Verily these be naught save Magicians, otherwise they must be of the fulsomest of the Jann, for indeed never heard we nor saw we aught of this." Hereupon the Prince of True Believers turned his back upon the place and he sorrowful and strait of breast and disheartened of heart; so he went down to his Palace and sat there for a full-told hour when behold, the Warlock and the Cook appeared before him. But as soon as they stood in the presence the Caliph cried out, "O Linkman, bring me the head of yonder youth from between his shoulders!" Hereupon the Executioner came forward and tearing a strip off the youth"s robe-skirt bandaged his eyes; then he walked thrice round about him brandishing his blade over the victim"s head and lastly cried, "O Caliph of the Age, shall I make away with this youth?" Answered the Caliph, "Yes, after thou shalt have stricken off his head." Hearing this the Sworder raised his hand and smote, when suddenly his grip was turned backwards upon a familiar of his who stood beside him, and it lighted upon his neck with such force that his head hew off and fell at the Caliph"s feet. The King and the Wazir, were perplexed at this affair, and the former cried out, "What be this? Art gone blind, O Bhang eater, that thy stroke hath missed the mark and thou hast not known thy familiar from this youth who kneeleth before thee? Smite him without delay!" Hereupon the Linkman again raised his hand to obey his lord, but the blow fell upon the neck of his varlet and the head flew off and rolled at the feet of the Caliph and his Chief Councillor. At this second mishap the wits of all present were bewildered and the King cried, "What business is this, O Wazir, whereto the other made answer, "O Caliph of the Time and rare gift of the Age and the Tide, what canst thou do, O my lord, with such as these? And whoso availeth to take away o" nights thy daughter upon her bed and dispread a sea around his house, the same also hath power to tear thy kingdom from thy grasp; nay more, to practice upon thy life. Now "tis my rede that thou rise and kiss the hand of this Sage and sue his protection,[FN#259] lest he work upon us worse than this. Believe me, "twere better for thee, O my lord, to do as I bid thee and thus "twill be well for us rather than to rise up as adversaries of this man." Hearing such words from his Minister, the King bade them raise the youth from the strip of blood-rug and remove the bandage from before his eyes, after which he rose to his feet, and, kissing the Warlock"s hand, said to him, "In very sooth we knew thee not nor were we ware of the measure of thine excellence. But, O teacher of the Time and sum and substance of revolving Tide, why hast thou wrought to me on this wise in the matter of my daughter and destroyed my servants and soldiers?" "O Viceregent of Allah upon His Earth," replied the Sage, "I am a stranger, and having eaten bread and salt with this youth, I formed friendship and familiarity with him: then, seeing his case which was sad and his state which was marvellous as it had afflicted him with sickness, I took compassion upon him; moreover I designed to show you all what I am and what Almighty Allah hath taught me of occult knowledge. Hitherto there hath been naught save weal, and now I desire of thy favour that thou marry thy daughter to this youth, my familiar, for that she suiteth none other save himself." Quoth the Caliph, "This proceeding I look upon as the fittest and it besitteth us that we obey thy bidding." Presently he robed the youth with a sumptuous robe worth the kingdom of a King, and commanded him to sit beside the presence and seated the Sage upon a chair of ebony-wood. Now whilst they were in converse the Warlock turned round and beheld arear of the Caliph a hanging of sendal whereupon stood figured lions twain: so he signed with his hand to these forms which were mighty huge of limb and awesome to look upon, when each put forth his paw upon his fellow and both roared with roars like unto the bellow of ear-rending thunder. Hereat all present were perplex in the extreme and were in admiration at that matter and especially the Prince of True Believers who cried, "O Wazir what seest thou in this business?" The Wazir replied, "O Caliph of the Age, verily Allah Almighty to thee hath sent this Sage that He[FN#260] might show thee such marvels as these." Then the Warlock signalled with his hand to the lions which shrank till they became as cats which carried on the combat; and both Caliph and Wazir wondered thereat with excessive wonderment. Anon quoth the King to the Minister, "Bid the Sage display to us more of his marvels;" and accordingly the Wazir obeyed his lord"s be hest, and the Warlock replied, "To hear is to obey." He then said, "Bring hither to me a chauldron full of water;" and when it was brought he asked the Courtiers, "Which of you would divert himself?" "I," quoth the Wazir; when quoth the Sage, "Do thou rise to thy feet and doff thy robes and gird thee with a zone:" whereto said the other, "Bring me a waistcloth;" and when it was brought he did therewith as he was bidden. Hereat said the Warlock, "Seat thee in the centre of the chauldron;" so he plunged into the water, but when he would have seated him amiddlemost thereof as ordered he saw only that he had entered a sea dashing with surges clashing wherein whoso goeth is lost to view, and whence whoso cometh is born anew; and he fell to swimming from side to side intending to issue forth, while the waves suffered him not to make the shore. And while he was in this case behold, a billow of the billows vomited[FN#261] him up from the sea to the strand and he stood on dry land, when he surveyed his person and suddenly saw that he had become a woman with the breasts of a woman and the solution of continuity like a woman, and long black hair flowing down to his heels even as a woman"s. Then said he to himself, "O ill- omened diversion! What have I done with such unlucky disport that I have looked upon this marvel and wonder of wonderments, only to become a woman.[FN#262] Verily we are Allah"s, and unto Him shall we return;" adding as he took thought of the matter and of what had befallen him, "There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great." Presently a Fisherman approached him and sighting a fair girl said, "This be none other than a blessed day which Allah hath opened to us with a beautiful maiden for quarry; and she is doubtless of the Daughters of the Deep, whom Allah Almighty hath sent to us that I may espouse her to my son." Hearing these words said the transformed to himself, "Now after being a Wazir I have become a woman and this be for that as tit for tat,[FN#263] and the wight furthermore desireth to see me married, and as for the Caliph and the kingdom and the countries, who shall now be able to offer them counsel?" But the Fisherman who for his joyance had no stomach to ply his pursuit, as was his custom, forthwith arose and taking with him the Daughter of the Deep led her to his house, and on entering the door cried aloud to his wife, "This day hath been a lucky for my fishing craft: during all these years it never befel me to happen upon a Mermaid save on this best-omened of all the days,ö adding, "Where is thy son, to whom Allah hath sent this Daughter of the Daughters of the Main; and hath made her his portion and vouchsafed her to his service? for "tis my design to marry them." Replied the woman, "He hath taken the beasts and hath fared forth to pasture it and plough therewith; but right soon will he return.[FN#264] And whilst they were thus conversing the youth came forward, and the Wazir on sighting him groaned and cried, Well-away for me! this very night I shall become a bride for this blamed lad[FN#265] to sleep withal. And if I say to them, "What intent have ye? Ye are in meanness and misery[FN#266] while I am Wazir to the Caliph;" they will never believe me for that I have become a woman, and all thereto appertaining now belongeth to me. Alack and alas for that I did with mine own self; indeed what business had I with such diversion?" Hereupon the fisherman called out, "O my son, up with thee and straightway take this Mermaid and marry her and abate her pucelage and be blessed with her and enjoy thy joy with her during all the days of thy life-tide: doubtless, O my child, thou art in all boon fortune, seeing that what good befel thee never betided any before thee nor will become the lot of one after thee." So the youth arose and for his delight hardly believing in his conquest, married her and lay with her and did away her maidenhead and on that very night she conceived by him. After nine months she bare him issue and the couple ceased not to be after this fashion till she had become a mother of seven. But the Wazir, of his stress and excess of the trouble and the travail he endured, said to himself, "How long shall last this toil and torment wherewith I am liver-smitten and that too by mine own consent? So e"en will I arise and hie me to this sea and hurl me thereinto and whatso shall become of me let it be: haply I may find rest from these torments into which I have fallen." And forthright he arose and sought the shore and did as he had devised, when a wave enveloped him and cast him deep into the depths and he was like to choke, when suddenly his head protruded from the chauldron and he was seated as before he had ducked it. Hereupon he saw the Caliph sitting in state with the Sage by his side and all the Lords of the land and the Notables of the commons awaiting the end of his adventure. So he gazed at them and showed a smiling face[FN#267] and laughed aloud when the Prince of True Believers asked him saying, "What hast thou seen, O Wazir?" So he repeated to the Sovran all he had sighted and everything that had come down upon his head, presently adding, "O Caliph of the Age and the sum and sub stance of the Time and the Tide, what be these marvels wrought by this Sage? Verily I have beheld the garths of Paradise[FN#268] with maidens of the Húr and the youths of Heaven, and wonderments galore unlooked upon by mankind at all, at all. But, an thou be pleased, O Commander of the Faithful, to espy these rare spectacles and marvellous conditions with thine own eyes, deign go down into the water; so shalt thou divert thyself with peregrine matters and adventures seld-seen." The Sultan, delighted at this rede, arose and doffed his dress; then, girding his loins with a zone, he entered the chauldron whereat the Sage cried out to him, "O my lord, sit thee down and duck thy head." But when this was done the Caliph found himself in a bottomless sea and wide dispread and never at rest by any manner of means, so he fell to swimming therein, when a huge breaker threw him high ashore and he walked up the beach mother-naked save for his zone. So he said in his mind, "Let me see what hath been wrought with me by the Sage and the Wazir who have thus practiced upon me and have cast me in this place; and haply they have married my daughter to the youth, and they have stolen my kingdom, the Sage becoming Sultan in my stead. And now let me ask myself, "What had I to do with such damned diversion as this?"" But as he brooded over these thoughts and the like of them behold, a bevy of maidens came forwards to fill their pitchers from a fountain and a pool of sweet water lying beside the sea; and sighting him they exclaimed, "Thou, who art thou? say sooth be thou of man-kind or rather haply of Jinn-kind?" He replied, "I am a mortal and of the noblest-born; withal I am a stranger in the land and I wot not whither I should wend." "Of what country art thou?" asked they, and he answered, "I am from Baghdad." "Up with thee," quoth one of the damsels, "to yonder knoll, then down to the flat on the further side, and thou shalt sight a city whose name is "Omán,[FN#269] whereinto do thou enter." The Caliph did her bidding, and no sooner had the people seen him stripped than they said one to other, "This man is a merchant who hath been shipwrecked;" so they gave him by way of almsgift a Tobe[FN#270] all tattered and torn wherewith he veiled his shame. And after so doing he fell to wandering about the city for pastime, and while walking about he passed into a Bazar and there sighted a cook, before whom he stood open mouthed (for indeed famine had thinned him), and he bethought him of what to do, and he knew not how to act. However the cook at first sight was certified of his being a foreigner, and haply a shipwrecked mariner so he asked him, "O my brother, why cost thou not come in and sit thee down, for thou art a stranger and without means; so in the way of Allah I would engage thy services and will pay thee daily two dirhams to provide thee with meat and drink." Answered the Caliph, "Hearing and obeying," after which he abode with the cook and served him and stinted not to serve him for a long time, saying in himself the while, "This for that is tit for tat! and after the Caliphate and commandment and happiness and honour, this day art thou left to lick the platters. What had I to do with such diversion as this? Withal "tis fairer than the spectacle that anyone even my Wazir ever saw and the more excellent, for that I after being the Caliph of the Age, and the choice gift of the Time and Tide have now become the hireling of a cook. Would to Heaven I wot the sin which brought me hereto?"[FN#271] Now as he abode with the cook it befel him that one day he threaded the Jewellers" Bazar; for about that city was a sea-site whereinto the duckers and divers went down and whence they brought up pearls and corals and precious stones; and as he stood in the market-place, quoth he to himself, "Let me here become a broker in this market street and find rest from my groaning in labour and my licking of platters." As soon as morning morrowed he did on such wise, when suddenly a merchant approached him, hending in hand a costly gem whose light burned like a lamp or rather like a ray of sunshine, and "twas worth the tribute of Egypt and Syria. Hereat the Caliph marvelled with exceeding marvel, and quoth he to the trader, "Say me, wilt thou sell this jewel?" and quoth the other, "Yes." So the Sultan taking it from him went about with it amongst the merchants, who seeing and considering it, wondered greatly at its beauty. Accordingly they bid for it fifty thousand diners, but the royal broker ceased not to bear it about and the buyers to increase their biddings till they offered an hundred thousand gold pieces. Thereupon the Caliph returned with it to the owner and accosted him saying, "Wilt thou sell it for the sum named?" and when the merchant consented, he continued, "I now go to receive its price, wherewith I will come back to thee." Then the broker went up to the buyer and said, "Bring hither its value and set it in my hand;" but the man asked him, "Where be its owner?" and the Caliph answered, "Its owner hath commissioned me to receive its price, after which he will come and recover the same from me." However the bidder retorted, "This be not fitting nor is it according to Holy Law: do thou bring me its owner; then come and let him pouch the price, for "tis he hath sold it to me and thou art only our agent." Hereupon the Caliph went forth to seek the proprietor and wandered about a long while without finding him; after which he again accosted the purchaser, and said to him, "I am the rightful proprietor: place the price in my hand." The buyer arose to pay his debt, but before so doing he considered the jewel and saw that it was a bit of dark Sandarach;[FN#272] whereat he was sore perplex" and cried out to the Caliph, "O Satan, cost thou palm off false wares, the market-place of the merchants being under the orders of the Sultan?" But when the traders heard these words, they flocked around the pretended broker and having seized him they pinioned his elbows and dragged him before the Sovran of that city who, when they set the prisoner before him, asked, "What be the offence of this man?" "O our honoured lord," answered they, "this wight palmeth off false wares and swindleth the traders in the royal Bazar." So the King commanded them to hang him, whereat they charged his neck with chains and bared his head, and bade the cryer cry, "This be his award and the least of awards who forgeth counterfeits and who tricketh the merchant folk in the market-place of the Sultan." Hereat quoth the Caliph to himself, "I was not content with platter licking, which now appeareth to me a mighty pleasant calling but e"en I must become a broker and die sus. per coll. This be for that tit for tat; how ever, scant blame to the Time which hath charged me with this work." Now when they brought him to the hanging place and threw the loop around his neck and fell to hoisting him up, as he rose from the ground his eyes were opened and he found himself emerging from the chauldron, whilst the Wazir and the Sage and the youth were sitting and considering him. And the Minister catching sight of his lord sprang to his feet and kissed ground before him, and laughed aloud, and the Commander of the Faithful asked him, "Why this laughter?" Answered he, "O thou, the Prince of True Believers and God- guarded Sovran, my laughter and my gladness are for myself, seeing that I have recovered my identity after becoming a woman and being wedded to a ploughman, who eared the ground, and after bearing to him seven babes." Cried the Caliph, "Woe to thee, O dog, O son of a dog, thou west married and rejoicedst in children, whereas I this very moment from the hanging-place have come down." Then he informed the Wazir of all that had befallen him and the Minister did on like guise, whereat all those present laughed consumedly and marvelled at the words of the Warlock, and his proficiency in occult knowledge. Then the Kazi and witnesses were summoned with their writing gear and were bidden draw up the marriage-contract of the young Cook and the Caliph"s daughter. After this the Sage sojourned with the Commander of the Faithful in highmost degree and most honourable dignity, and they abode eating and drinking and living the most delectable of lives and the most enjoyable with all manner of joy and jollity, till came to them the Destroyer of delights and the Divider of man"s days and they departed life one and all. FINIS.