The Book Of The Thousand Nights And A Night, Vol 1 Page-101

The Book Of The Thousand Nights And A Night, Vol 1

A plain and literal translation of the arabian nights entertainments

was one of themselves and said, “A mendicant like us! whether Arab or foreigner.”[FN#169] But when the Porter heard these words, he rose up, and fixing his eyes fiercely upon them, said, “Sit ye here without exceeding in talk! Have you not read what is writ over the door? surely it befitteth not fellows who come to us like paupers to wag your tongues at us.” “We crave thy pardon, O Fak�r,”[FN#170] rejoined they, “and our heads are between thy hands.” The ladies laughed consumedly at the squabble; and, making peace between the Kalandars and the Porter, seated the new guests before meat and they ate. Then they sat together, and the portress served them with drink; and, as the cup went round merrily, quoth the Porter to the askers, “And you, O brothers mine, have ye no story or rare adventure to amuse us withal?” Now the warmth of wine having mounted to their heads they called for musical instruments; and the portress brought them a tambourine of Mosul, and a lute of Ir�k, and a Persian harp; and each mendicant took one and tuned it; this the tambourine and those the lute and the harp, and struck up a merry tune while the ladies sang so lustily that there was a great noise.[FN#171] And whilst they were carrying on, behold, some one knocked at the gate, and the portress went to see what was the matter there. Now the cause of that knocking, O King (quoth Shahrazad) was this, the Caliph, Harun al-Rashid, had gone forth from the palace, as was his wont now and then, to solace himself in the city that night, and to see and hear what new thing was stirring; he was in merchant’s gear, and he was attended by Ja’afar, his Wazir, and by Masrur his Sworder of Vengeance.[FN#172] As they walked about the city, their way led them towards the house of the three ladies; where they heard the loud noise of musical instruments and singing and merriment; so quoth the Caliph to Ja’afar, “I long to enter this house and hear those songs and see who sing them.” Quoth Ja’afar, “O Prince of the Faithful; these folk are surely drunken with wine, and I fear some mischief betide us if we get amongst them.” “There is no help but that I go in there,” replied the Caliph, “and I desire thee to contrive some pretext for our appearing among them.” Ja’afar replied, “I hear and I obey;”[FN#173] and knocked at the door, whereupon the portress came out and opened. Then Ja’afar came forward and kissing the ground before her said, “O my lady, we be merchants from Tiberias town: we arrived at Baghdad ten days ago; and, alighting at the mer chants’ caravanserai, we sold all our merchandise. Now a certain trader invited us to an entertainment this night; so we went to his house and he set food before us and we ate: then we sat at wine and wassail with him for an hour or so when he gave