Page:The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night - Volume 4.djvu/45

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made his grandson King in his stead; and as to Kamar al-Zaman he also made As'ad king in his room over the capital of the Ebony Islands, with the consent of his grandfather, King Armanus and set out himself, with his father, King Shahriman, till the two made the Islands of Khálidan. Then the lieges decorated the city in their honour and they ceased not to beat the drums for glad tidings a whole month; nor did Kamar al-Zaman leave to govern in his father's place, till there overtook them the Destroyer of delights and the Sunderer of societies; and Allah knoweth all things! Quoth King Shahryar, "O Shahrazad, this is indeed a most wonderful tale!" And she answered, "O King, it is not more wonderful than that of

ALA AL-DIN ABU AL-SHAMAT.[1]

"What is that?" asked he, and she said, It hath reached me that there lived, in times of yore and years and ages long gone before, a merchant of Cairo[2] named Shams al-Din, who was of the best and truest spoken of the traders of the city; and he had eunuchs and servants and negro-slaves and handmaids and Mame lukes and great store of money. Moreover, he was Consul[3] of the Merchants of Cairo and owned a wife, whom he loved and who loved him; except that he had lived with her forty years, yet had not been blessed with a son or even a daughter. One day, as he sat in his shop, he noted that the merchants, each and every, had a son or two sons or more sitting in their shops like their sires. Now the day being Friday, he entered the Hammam-bath and made the total-ablution: after which he came out and took the barber's glass and looked in it, saying, "I testify that there is no god but the God and I testify that Mohammed is the Messenger of God!" Then he considered his beard and, seeing that the white hairs in it covered the black, bethought himself that hoariness is the harbinger of death. Now his wife knew the time of his coming home and had washed and made herself ready for him, so when he

  1. Pronounce Aladdin Abush-Shámát.
  2. Arab. "Misr," vulg. Masr: a close connection of Misraim the "two Misrs," Egypt, upper and lower.
  3. The Persians still call their Consuls "Shah-bander," lit. king of the Bandar or port.