The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night - Vol. 4

The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night - Vol. 4

The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night - Vol. 4

The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night - Vol. 4

Synopsis

An unabashed and accurate translation of the wonderful and enchanting tales of the Arabian Nights, complete in four volumes.

Excerpt

It is related in the writings of the wise past that the Commander of the Faithful, al-Mutasid Billāh, sixth Khalīfah in the line of Abbās, grandson of al-Mutawakkil, grandson of Hārūn al-Rashīd, was a prince of lofty soul and fearless heart. He was noble and beautiful, royal and intelligent, he had the courage and strength of lions, and a genius which made him the greatest poet of his time. He kept sixty zealous wazirs about him in Baghdād to watch day and night over the welfare of his people; so that no trifle escaped him in all his mighty empire, from the desert of Shām to the Moorish confines, from the mountains of Khurāsān and the western sea to the furthest bounds of India and Afghanistan.

One day, as the Khalīfah was walking with Ahmad ibn Hamdūn, his intimate friend and chosen cup-companion (to whom we owe the oral transmission of the fairest tales and verses of our ancestors), he came to a lordly dwelling folded pleasantly among gardens. Its harmonious architecture said more of its owner's fine taste than the tongue of an eager friend, and to a man of the Khalīfah's subtle and attentive soul seemed eloquence itself.

As the two men sat down on a marble bench which faced the gate, to rest from their walking and breathe an air laden with the souls of jasmine and lily, they saw two youths of moon-like beauty coming towards them out of the shades of the garden. One was saying to the other: 'Would that heaven might send some chance guests to our master on this delightful day. He is sad when he has to eat alone.' 'This is the first time that such a thing has happened, ' answered the second youth. 'It is strange that no citizen has walked out to see our gardens on this fair Spring day.'

These words astonished al-Mutasid in two particulars: that there should be a lord of high rank so near at hand whose name he did not know, and that this lord should have so strange a taste as to dislike solitude. 'I am the Khalīfah, ' he said to himself, 'and yet I often love to be alone. I would soon die if I had to feel some strange life for ever beating with mine. There is nothing so precious as occasional loneliness.' Then to his companion he said: 'O Hamdūn, O honey-tongued teller, surely you, who know the present as well as the past, have some knowledge of the man who owns this palace? Do you not think that we should make ourselves known to so strange a being?

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