Variants and Analogues of some of the Tales in the Supplemental Nights: Volume 1

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Variants and Analogues of some of the Tales in the Supplemental Nights: Volume 1
by William Alexander Clouston
Written to follow the translation of The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night by Richard F. Burton

Variants and Analogues of Some of the Tales in Volumes XI. and XII.

By. W. A. Clouston.

Author of “Popular Tales and Fictions: Their Mirgations and Transformations,” Etc.


Variants and Analogues of Some of the Tales in Volumes XI and XII

By W. A. Clouston.


Few if the stories in the "Arabian Nights" which charmed our marvelling boyhood were greater favourites than this one, under the title of "Abou Hassan; or, the Sleeper Awakened."  What recked we in those days whence it was derived?--the story--the story was the thing!  As Sir R. F. Burton observes in his first note, this is "the only one of the eleven added by Galland, whose original has been discovered in Arabic;" [FN#483] and it is probable that Galland heard it recited in a coffee-house during his residence in Constantinople.  The plot of the Induction to Shakspeare's comedy of "The Taming of the Shrew" is similar to the adventure of Abú al-Hasan the Wag, and is generally believed to have been adapted from a story entitled "The Waking Man's Fortune" in Edward's collection of comic tales, 1570, which were retold somewhat differently in "Goulart's Admirable and Memorable Histories," 1607; both versions are reprinted in Mr. Hazlitt's "Shakspeare Library," vol. iv., part I, pp. 403-414.  In Percy's "Reliques of Ancient English Poetry" we find the adventure told in a ballad entitled "The Frolicksome Duke; or, the Tinker's Good Fortune," from the Pepys collection: "whether it may be thought to have suggested the hint to Shakspeare or is not rather of latter date," says Percy, "the reader must determine:"

Now as fame does report, a young duke keeps a court, One that pleases his fancy with frolicksome sport: But amongst all the rest, here is one, I protest, Which will make you to smile when you hear the true jest: A poor tinker he found lying drunk on the ground, As secure in a sleep as if laid in a swownd.

The duke said to his men, William, Richard, and Ben, Take him home to my palace, we'll sport with him then. O'er a horse he was laid, and with care soon convey'd To the palace, altho' he was poorly arrai'd; Then they stript off his cloaths, both his shirt, shoes, and hose, And they put him in bed for to take his repose.

Having pull'd off his shirt, which was all over durt, They did give him clean holland, this was no great hurt: On a bed of soft down, like a lord of renown, They did lay him to sleep the drink out of his crown. In the morning when day, then admiring [FN#484] he lay, For to see the rich chamber both gaudy and gay.

Now he lay something late, in his rich bed of state, Till at last knights and squires they on him did wait; And the chamberling bare, then did likewise declare, He desired to know what apparel he'd ware: The poor tinker amaz'd, on the gentleman gaz'd, And admired how he to this honour was rais'd.

Tho' he seem'd something mute, yet he chose a rich suit, Which he straitways put on without longer dispute; With a star on his side, which the tinker offt ey'd, And it seem'd for to swell him no little with pride; For he said to himself, Where is Joan my sweet wife? Sure she never did see me so fine in her life.

From a convenient place, the right duke his good grace Did observe his behavior in every case. To a garden of state, on the tinker they wait, Trumpets sounding before him: thought he this is great: Where an hour or two, pleasant walks he did view, With commanders and squires in scarlet in blew. A find dinner was drest, both for him and his guests, He was placed at the table above all the rest, In a rich chair, or bed, lin'd with fine crimson red, With a rich golden canopy over his head: As he sat at his meat, the musick play'd sweet, With the choicest of singing his joys to compleat.

While the tinker did dine, he had plenty of wine. Rich canary with sherry and tent superfine, Like a right honest soul, faith, he took off his bowl, Till at last he began for to tumble and roul From his chair to the floor, where he sleeping did snore, Being seven times drunker than ever before.

Then the duke did ordain, they should strip him amain, And restore him his old leather garments again: 'Twas a point next the worst, yet perform it they must, And they carry'd him strait, where they found him at first; Then he slept all the night, as indeed well he might, But when he did waken, his joys took their flight.

For his glory to him so pleasant did seem, That he thought it to be but a meer golden dream; Till at length he was brought to the duke, where he sought For a pardon as fearing he had set him at nought; But his highness he said, Thou'rt a jolly bold blade, Such a frolick before I think never was plaid.

Then his highness bespoke him a new suit and cloak, Which he gave for the sake of this frolicksome joak; Nay, and five hundred pound, with ten acres of ground Thou shalt never, said he, range the counteries round, Crying old brass to mend, for I'll be thy good friend, Nay, and Joan thy sweet wife shall my duchess attend.

Then the tinker reply'd, What! must Joan my sweet bride Be a lady in chariots of pleasure to ride? Must we have gold and land ev'ry day at command? Then I shall be a squire I well understand: Well I thank your good grace, and your love I embrace, I was never before in so happy a case.

The same story is also cited in the "Anatomy of Melancholy," part 2, memb. 4, from Ludovicus Vives in Epist. [FN#485] and Pont. Heuter in Rerum Burgund., as follows:

"It is reported of Philippus Bonus, that good Duke of Burgundy, that the said duke, at the marriage of Eleonora, sister to the King of Portugal, at Bruges in Flanders, which was solemnized in the deep of winter, when as by reason of the unseasonable (!) weather he could neither hawk nor hunt, and was now tyred with cards, dice, &c., and such other domestical sports, or to see ladies dance, with some of his courtiers, he would in the evening walk disguised all about the town.  It so fortuned as he was walking late one night, he found a country fellow dead drunk, snorting on a bulk; he caused his followers to bring him to his palace, and there stripping him of his old clothes, and attiring him after the court fashion, when he waked, he and they were all ready to attend upon his excellency, persuading him that he was some great duke.  The poor fellow, admiring how he came there, was served in state all the day long; after supper he saw them dance, heard musick, and the rest of those court-like pleasures; but late at night, when he was well-tipled, and again fast asleep they put on his old robes, and so conveyed him to the place where they first found him.  Now the fellow had not made them so good sport the day before, as he did when he returned to himself; all the jest was to see how he looked upon it.  In conclusion, after some little admiration, the poor man told his friends he had seen a vision, constantly beleeved it, would not otherwise be perswaded; and so the jest ended."

I do not think that this is a story imported from the East: the adventure is just as likely to have happened in Bruges as in Baghdád; but the exquisite humor of the Arabian tale is wanting--even Shakspeare's Christopher Sly is not to be compared with honest Abú al-Hasan the Wag.

This story of the Sleeper and the Waker recalls the similar device practised by the Chief of the Assassins--that formidable, murderous association, the terror of the Crusades--on promising novices.  Von Hammer, in his "History of the Assassins," end of Book iv., gives a graphic description of the charming gardens into which the novices were carried while insensible from hashish:

In the center of the Persian as well as the Assyrian territory of the Assassins, that is to say, both at Alamut and Massiat, were situated, in a space surrounded by walls, splendid gardens--true Eastern paradises.  There were flower-beds and thickets of fruit-trees, intersected by canals, shady walks, and verdant glades, where the sparkling stream bubbled at every step; bowers of roses and vineyards; luxurious halls and porcelain kiosks, adorned with Persian carpets and Grecian stuffs, where drinking-vessels of gold, silver, and crystal glittered on trays of the same costly materials; charming maidens and handsome boys of Muhammed's Paradise, soft as the cushions on which they reposed, and intoxicating as the wine which they presented.  The music of the harp was mingled with the songs of birds, and the melodious tones of the songstress harmonized with the murmur of the brooks.  Everything breathed pleasure, rapture, and sensuality.  A youth, was deemed worthy by his strength and resolution to be initiated into the Assassin service, was invited to the table and conversation of the grand master, or grand prior; he was then intoxicated with hashish and carried into the garden, which on awaking he believed to be Paradise; everything around him, the houris in particular, contributing to confirm the delusion.  After he had experienced as much of the pleasures of Paradise, which the Prophet has promised to the faithful, as his strength would admit; after quaffing enervating delight from the eyes of the houris and intoxicating wine from the glittering goblets; he sank into the lethargy produced by debility and the opiate, on awakening from which, after a few hours, he again found himself by the side of his superior.  The latter endeavored to convince him that corporeally he had not left his side, but that spiritually he had been wrapped into Paradise and had there enjoyed a foretaste of the bliss which awaits the faithful who devote their lives to the service of the faith and the obedience of their chiefs.


The precise date of the Persian original of this romance ("Bakhtyár Náma") has not been ascertained, but it was probably composed before the beginning of the fifteenth century, since there exists in the Bodleian Library a unique Turkí version, in the Uygur language and characters, which was written in 1434.  Only three of the tales have hitherto been found in other Asiatic storybooks.  The Turkí version, according to M. Jaubert, who gives an account of the MS. and a translation of one of the tales in the Journal Asiatique, tome x. 1827, is characterised by "great sobriety of ornament and extreme simplicity of style, and the evident intention on the part of the translator to suppress all that may not have appeared to him sufficiently probable, and all that might justly be taxed with exaggeration;" and he adds that "apart from the interest which the writing and phraseology of the work may possess for those who study the history of languages, it is rather curious to see how a Tátár translator sets to work to bring within the range of his readers stories embellished in the original with descriptions and images familiar, doubtless, to a learned and refined nation like the Persians, for foreign to shepherds."

At least three different versions are known to the Malays--different in the frame, or leading story, if not in the subordinate tales.  One of those is described in the second volume of Newbold's work on Malacca, the frame of which is similar to the Persian original and its Arabian derivative, excepting that the name of the king is Zádbokhtin and that of the minister's daughter (who is nameless in the Persian) is Mahrwat.  Two others are described in Van den Berg's account of Malay, Arabic, Javanese and other MSS. published at Batavia, 1877: p. 21, No. 132 is entitled "The History of Ghulám, son of Zádbukhtán, King of Adán, in Persia," and the frame also corresponds with our version, with the important difference that the robber-chief who had brought up Ghulám, "learning that he had become a person of consequence, came to his residence to visit him, but finding him imprisoned, he was much concerned, and asked the king's pardon on his behalf, telling him at the same time how he had formerly found Ghulám in the jungle; from which the king knew that Ghulám was his son."  The second version noticed by Van den Berg (p. 32, No. 179), though similar in title to the Persian original, "History of Prince Bakhtyár," differs very materially in the leading story, the outline of which is as follows: This prince, when his father was put to flight by a younger brother, who wished to dethrone him, was born in a jungle, and abandoned by his parents. A merchant named Idrís took charge of him and brought him up. Later on he became one of the officers of state with his own father, who had in the meanwhile found another kingdom, and decided with fairness, the cases brought before him.  He was, however, put in prison on account of a supposed attempt on the king's life, and would have been put to death had he not stayed the execution by telling various beautiful stories.  Even the king came repeatedly to listen to him.  At one of these visits Bakhtyár's foster-father Idrís was present, and related to his adopted son how he had found him in the jungle.  The king, on hearing this, perceived that it was his son who had been brought up by Idrís, recognised Bakhtyár as such, as made over to him the kingdom."--I have little doubt that this romance is of Indian extraction.


This agrees pretty closely with the Turkí version of the same story (rendered into French by M. Jaubert), though in the latter the names of the characters are the same as in the Persian, King Dádín and the Wazírs Kámgár and Kárdár.  In the Persian story, the damsel is tied hands and feet and placed upon a camel, which is then turned into a dreary wilderness.  "Here she suffered from the intense heat and from thirst; but she resigned herself to the will of Providence, conscious of her own innocence.  Just then the camel lay down, and on the spot a fountain of delicious water suddenly sprang forth; the cords which bound her hands and feet dropped off; she refreshed herself by a draught of the water, and fervently returned thanks to Heaven for this blessing and her wonderful preservation."  This two-fold miracle does not appear in the Turkí and Arabian versions.  It is not the cameleer of the King of Persia, but of King Dádín, who meets with the pious damsel in the wilderness.  He takes her to his own house and one day relates his adventure to King Dádín, who expresses a wish to see such a prodigy of sanctity.  The conclusion of the Persian story is quite dramatic: The cameleer, having consented, returned at once to his house, accompanied by the king, who waited at the door of the apartment where the daughter of Kámgár was engaged in prayer.  When she had concluded he approached, and with astonishment recognised her.  Having tenderly embraced her, he wept, and entreated her forgiveness.  This she readily granted, but begged that he would conceal himself in the apartment while she should converse with Kárdár, whom she sent for.  When he arrived, and beheld her with a thousand expressions of fondness, he inquired how she had escaped, and told her that on the day the king had banished her into the wilderness, he had sent people to seek her and bring her to him.  "How much better would it have been," he added, "had you followed my advice, and agreed to my proposal of poisoning the king, who, I said, would one day destroy you as he had done your father!  But you rejected my advice, and declared yourself ready to submit to whatever Providence should decree.  Hereafter you will pay more attention to my words.  But now let us not think of what is past.  I am your slave, and you are dearer to me than my own eyes."  So saying, he attempted to clasp the daughter of Kámgár in his arms, when the king, who was concealed behind the hangings, rushed furiously on him and put him to death.  After this he conducted the damsel to his palace, and constantly lamented his precipitancy in having killed her father.--This tale seems to have been taken from the Persian "Tútí Náma," or Parrot-book, composed by Nahkshabí about the year 1306; [FN#486] it occurs in the 51st Night of the India Office MS. 2573, under the title of "Story of the Daughter of the Vazír Khássa, and how she found safety through the blessing of her piety:"  the name of the king is Bahram, and the Wazírs are called Khássa and Khalássa.


The catastrophe of this story forms the subject of the Lady's 37th tale in the text of the Turkish "Forty Vezírs," translated by Mr. E. J. W. Gibb.  This is how it goes:

In the palace of the world there was a king, and that king had three vezírs, but there was rivalry between them.  Two of them day and night incited the king against the third, saying, "He is a traitor."  But the king believed them not.  At length they promised two pages much gold, and instructed them thus: "When the king has lain down, ere he yet fall asleep, do ye feign to think him asleep, and while talking with each other, say at a fitting time, 'I have heard from such a one that yon vezír says this and that concerning the king, and that he hates him; many people say that vezír is an enemy to our king.'"  So they did this, and when the king heard this, he said in his heart, "What those vezírs said is then true; when the very pages have heard it somewhat it must indeed have some foundation.  Till now, I believed not those vezírs, but it is then true."  And the king executed that vezír.  The other vezírs were glad and gave the pages the gold they had promised.  So they took it and went to a private place, and while they were dividing it one of them said, "I spake first; I want more."  The other said, "If I had not said he was an enemy to our king, the king would not have killed him; I shall take more."  And while they were quarrelling with one another the king passed by there, and he listened attentively to their words, and when he learned of the matter, he said, "Dost thou see, they have by a trick made us kill that hapless vezír."  And he was repentant.


The Persian original has been very considerably amplified by the Arabian translator.  In the "Bakhtyár Náma" there is not a word about the two brothers and their fair cousin, the attempted murder of the infant, and the adventures of the fugitive young prince.  This story has also been taken from the "Tútí Náma" of Nakhshabú, Night the 50th of the Indian Office MS. 2573, where, under the title of "Story of the Daughter of the Kaysar of Roum, and her trouble by reason of her son," it is told somewhat as follows:

In former times there was a great king, whose army was numerous and whose treasury was full to overflowing; but, having no enemy to contend with, he neglected to pay his soldiers, in consequence of which they were in a state of destitution and discontent.  At length one day the soldiers went to the prime minister and made their condition known to him.  The vazír promised that he would speedily devise a plan by which they should have employment and money.  Next morning he presented himself before the king, and said that it was widely reported the Kaysar of Rou, had a daughter unsurpassed for beauty--one who was fit only for such a great monarch as his Majesty; and suggested that it would be advantageous if an alliance were formed between two such great potentates.  The notion pleased the king well, and he forthwith despatched to Roum an ambassador with rich gifts, and requested the Kaysar to grant him his daughter in marriage.  But the Kaysar waxed wroth at this, and refused to give his daughter to the king.  When the ambassador returned thus unsuccessful, the king, enraged at being made of no account, resolved to make war upon the Kaysar; so, opening the doors of his treasury, he distributed much money among his troops, and then, "with a woe-bringing host, and a blood-drinking army, he trampled Roum and the folk of Roum in the dust."  And when the Kaysar was become powerless, he sent his daughter to the king, who married her according to the law of Islam.

Now that princess had a son by a former husband, and the Kaysar had said to her before she departed, "Beware that thou mention not thy son, for my love for his society is great, and I cannot part with him." [FN#487]  But the princess was sick at heart for the absence of her son, and she was ever pondering how she should speak to the king about him, and in what manner she might contrive to bring him to her.  It happened one day the king gave her a string of pearls and a casket of jewels.  She said, "With my father is a slave who is well skilled in the science of jewels."  The king replied, "If I should ask that slave of thy father, would he give him to me?"  "Nay," said she, "for he holds him in the place of a son.  But if the king desire him, I will send a merchant to Roum, and I myself will give him a token, and with pleasant wiles and fair speeches will bring him hither."  Then the king sent for a clever merchant who knew Arabic eloquently and the language of Roum, and gave him goods for trading and sent him to Roum with the object of procuring the slave.  But the daughter of the Kaysar said privily to the merchant, "That slave is my son; I have, for a good reason, said to the king that he is a slave; so thou must bring him as a slave, and let it be thy duty to take care of him."  In due course the merchant brought the youth to the king's service; and when the king saw his fair face, and discovered in him many pleasing and varied accomplishments, he treated him with distinction and favour, and conferred on the merchant a robe of honour and gifts.  His mother saw him from afar, and was pleased with receiving a secret salutation from him.

One day the eking had gone to the chase, and the palace remained void of rivals; so the mother called in her son, kissed his fair face, and told him the tale of her great sorrow.  A chamberlain became aware of the secret and another suspicion fell upon him, and he said to himself, "The harem of the king is the sanctuary of security and the palace of protection.  If I speak not of this, I shall be guilty of treachery and shall have wrought unfaithfulness."  When the king returned from the chase, the chamberlain related to him what he had seen, and the eking was angry and said, "This woman hath deceived me with words and deeds, and has brought hither her desire by craft and cunning.  This conjecture must be true, else why did she play such a trick?  And why did she hatch such a plot?  And why did she send the merchant?"  Then the king, enraged, went into the harem, and the queen saw from his countenance that the occurrence of the night before had become known to him, and she said, "Be it not that I see the king angry?"  He said, "How should I not be angry?  Thou, by craft and trickery, and intrigue, and plotting, hast brought thy desire from Roum--what wantonness is this that thou hast done?"  And then he thought to slay her, but he forbore, because of his great love for her.  But he ordered the chamberlain to carry the youth to some obscure place, and straightway sever his head from his body.  When the poor mother saw this, she well-nigh fell on her face, and her soul was near leaving her body.  But she knew that sorry would not avail, and so she restrained herself.

And when the chamberlain took the youth into his own house, he said to him, "O youth, knowest thou not that the harem of the king is the sanctuary of security?  What great treachery is this that thou hast perpetrated?"  The youth replied, "That queen is my mother, and I am her true son.  Because of her natural delicacy, she said not to the king that she had a son by another husband.  And when yearning came over her, she contrived to bring me here from Roum; and while the king was engaged in the chase, maternal love stirred in her, and she called me to her and embraced me."  On hearing this, the chamberlain said to himself, "What is passing in his mother's breast?  What have I not done I can yet do, and it were better that I preserve this youth some days, for such a rose may not be wounded through idle words, and such a bough may not be broken by a breath.  For some day the truth of this matter will be disclosed, and it will become known to the king when repentance may be of no avail."  So he went before the king and said, "That which was commanded have I fulfilled."  On hearing this the king's wrath was to some extent removed but his trust in the Kaysar's daughter was departed; while she, poor creature, was grieved and dazed at the loss of her son.

Now in the palace-harem there was an old woman, who said to the queen, "How is it that I find thee sorrowful?"  And the queen told the whole story, concealing nothing.  This old woman was a heroine in the field of craft, and she answered, "Keep thy mind at ease; I will devise a stratagem by which the heart of the king will be pleased with thee, and every grief he has will vanish from his heart."  The queen said that, if she did so, she should be amply rewarded.  One day the old woman, seeing the king alone, said to him, "Why is thy former aspect altered?  And why are there traces of care and anxiety visible on thy countenance?"  The king then told her all.  Then said the old woman, "I have an amulet of the charms of Sulayman, in the Syriac language, and in the writing of the jinn (genii).  When the queen is asleep, do thou place it on her breast, and whatever it may be, she will tell the truth of it.  But take care, fall not asleep, but listen well to what she says."  The king wondered at this and said, "Give me that amulet, that the truth of this matter may be learned."  So the old woman gave him the amulet, and then went to the queen and explained what she had done, and said, "Do thou feign to be asleep, and relate the whole of thy story faithfully."

When a watch of the night was past, the king laid the amulet upon his wife's breast, and she thus began: "By a former husband I had a son, and when my father gave me to this king, I was ashamed to say I had a tall son.  When my yearning passed all bounds, I brought him here by an artifice.  One day that the king was gone to the chase I called him into the house, when, after the way of mothers, I took him in my arms and kissed him.  This reached the king's ears; he unwittingly gave it another construction, and cut off the head of that innocent boy, and withdrew from me his own heart.  Alike is my son lost to me and the king angry."  When the king heard these words he kissed her and exclaimed, "O my life, what an error is this thou hast committed?  Thou hast brought calumny upon thyself, and hast given such a son to the winds, and hast made me ashamed!"  Straightway he called the chamberlain, and said, "That boy whom thou hast killed is the son of my beloved and the darling of my beauty! Where is his grave, that we may make there a guest-house?"  The chamberlain said, "That youth is yet alive.  When the king commanded his death, I was about to kill him, but he said, 'That queen is my mother.  Through modesty before the king, she revealed not the secret that she has a tall son.  Kill me not; it may be that some day the truth will become known, and repentance profiteth not, and regret is useless."  The king commanded them to bring the youth; so they brought him forthwith.  And when the mother saw the face of her son, she thanked God and praised the Most High, and became one of the Muslims, and from the sect of unbelievers came into the faith of Islam.  And the king favoured the chamberlain in the highest degree, and they passed the rest of their lives in comfort and ease.

 FIRUZ AND HIS WIFE.--Vol. XI. p. 125.

This tale, as Sir R. F. Burton remarks, is a rechauffé of that of the King and the Wazir's Wife in the "Malice of Women," or the Seven Wazírs (vol. vi. 129); and at p. 308 we have yet another variant. [FN#488]  it occurs in all the Eastern texts of the Book of Sindibád, and it is commonly termed by students of that cycle of stories "The Lion's Track," from the parabolical manner in which the husband justifies his conduct before the king.  I have cited some versions in the Appendix to my edition of the Book of Sindibád (p. 256 ff.), and to these may be added the following Venetian variant, from Crane's "Italian Popular Tales," as an example of how a story becomes garbled in passing orally from one generation unto another generation.

A king, averse from marriage, commanded his steward to remain single.  The latter, however, one day saw a beautiful girl named Vigna and married her secretly.  Although he kept her closely confined in her chamber, the king became suspicious, and sent the steward on an embassy.  After his departure the king entered the apartment occupied by him, and saw his wife asleep.  He did not disturb her, but in leaving the room accidentally dropped one of his gloves on the bed.  When the husband returned he found the glove, but kept a discreet silence, ceasing, however, all demonstration of affection, believing his wife had been unfaithful.  The king, desirous to see again the beautiful woman, made a feast and ordered the steward to bring his wife.  He denied that he had one, but brought her at last, and while every one else was talking gaily at the feast she was silent.  The king observed it and asked the cause of her silence, and she answered with a pun on her own name, "Vineyard I was, and Vineyard I am.  I was loved and no longer am. I know not for what reason the Vineyard has lost its season." Her husband, who heard this, replied, "Vineyard thou wast, and Vineyard thou art: the Vineyard lost its season, for the lion's claw."  The king, who understood what he meant, answered, "I entered the Vineyard; I touched the leaves; but I swear by my crown that I have not tasted the fruit."  Then the steward understood that his wife was innocent, and the two made peace, and always after lived happy and contented. So far as I am aware, this tale of "The Lion's Track" is not popularly known in any European country besides Italy; and it is not found in any of the Western versions of the Book of Sindibád, generally known under the title of the "History of the Seven Wise Masters," how, then, did it reach Venice, and become among the people "familiar in their mouths as household words?"  I answer, that the intimate commercial relations which long existed between the Venetian Republic and Egypt and Syria are amply sufficient to account for the currency of this and scores of other Eastern tales in Italy.  This is not one of those fictions introduced into the south of Europe through the Ottomans, since Boccaccio has made use of the first part of it in his "Decameron," Day I. nov. 5; and it is curious to observe that the garbled Venetian popular version has preserved the chief characteristic of the Eastern story--the allegorical reference to the king as a lion and his assuring the husband that the lion had done no injury to his "Vineyard."


While the frame-story of this interesting group is similar to that of the Ten Wazírs (vol. i. p. 37), insomuch as in both a king's favourite is sentenced to death in consequence of the false accusations of his enemies, and obtains a respite from day to day by relating stories to the king, there is yet a very important difference: Like those of the renowned Shahrazad, the stories which Al-Rahwan tells have no particular, at least no uniform, "purpose," his sole object being to prolong his life by telling the king an entertaining story, promising, when he has ended his recital, to relate one still "stranger" the next night, if the king will spare his life another day.  On the other hand, Bakhtyár, while actuated by the same motive, appeals to the king's reason, by relating stories distinctly designed to exhibit the evils of hasty judgements and precipitate conduct--in fact, to illustrate the maxim,

    Each order given by a reigning king,          Should after long reflection be expressed;     For it may be that endless woe will spring          From a command he paused not to digest.

And in this respect they are consistent with the circumstances of the case, like the tales of the Book of Sindibád, from which the frame of the Ten Wazírs was imitated, and in which the Wazírs relate stories showing the depravity and profligacy of women and that no reliance should be placed on their unsupported assertions, and to these the lady opposes equally cogent stories setting forth the wickedness and perfidy of men.  Closely resembling the frame-story of the Ten Wazírs, however, is that of a Tamil romance entitled, "Alakeswara Kathá," a copy of which, written on palm leaves, was in the celebrated Mackenzie collection, of which Dr. H. H. Wilson published a descriptive catalogue; it is "a story of the Rájá of Alakespura and his four ministers, who, being falsely accused of violating the sanctity of the inner apartments, vindicate their innocence and disarm the king's wrath by relating a number of stories."  Judging by the specimen given by Wilson, the well-known tale of the Lost Camel, it seems probable that the ministers' stories, like those of Bakhtyár, are suited to their own case and illustrate the truth of the adage that "appearances are often deceptive."  Whether in the Siamese collection "Nonthuk Pakkaranam" (referred to in vol. i. p. 127) the stories related by the Princess Kankras to the King of Pataliput (Palibothra), to save her father's life, are similarly designed, does not appear from Benfey's notice of the work in his paper in "Orient and Occident," iii. 171 ff.  He says that the title of the book, "Nonthuk Pakkaranam," is taken from the name of a wise ox, Nonthuk, that plays the principal part in the longest of the tales, which are all apparently translated from the Sanskrit, in which language the title would be Nandaka Prakaranam, the History of Nandaka.

Most of the tales related by the wazir Al-Rahwan are not only in themselves entertaining, but are of very considerable importance from the story-comparer's point of view, since in this group occur Eastern forms of tales which were known in Italy in the 14th century, and some had spread over Europe even earlier.  The reader will have seen from Sir R. F. Burton's notes that not a few of the stories have their parallels or analogues in countries far apart, and it is interesting to find four of them which properly belong to the Eastern texts of the Book of Sindibad, with the frame-story of which that of this group has so close an affinity.


"Quoth she, I have a bangle; sell it and buy seed pearls with the price; then round them and fashion them into great pearls."

For want of a more suitable place, I shall here reproduce an account of the "Method of making false pearls" (nothing else being meant in the above passage), cited, from Post. Com. Dict. In vol. xxvi. Of Rees' Cyclopaedia," London, 1819:

"Take of thrice distilled vinegar two pounds, Venice turpentine one pound, mix them together into a mass and put them into a cucurbit, fit a head and receiver to it, and after you have luted the joints set it when dry on a sand furnace, to distil the vinegar from it; do not give it too much heat, lest the stuff swell up.  After this put the vinegar into another glass cucurbit in which there is a quantity of seed pearls wrapped in a piece of thin silk, but so as not to touch the vinegar; put a cover or head upon the cucurbit, lute it well and put it in bal. MariF, where you may let it remain a fortnight.  The heat of the balneum will raise the fumes of the vinegar, and they will soften the pearls in the silk and bring them to the consistence of a paste, which being done, take them out and mould them to what bigness, form, and shape you please.  Your mould must be of fine silver, the inside gilt; you must also refrain from touching the paste with your fingers, but use silver-gilt utensils, with which fill your moulds.  When they are moulded, bore them through with a hog's bristle or gold wire, and then tread them again on gold wire, and put them into a glass, close it up, and set them in the sun to dry.  After they are thoroughly dry, put them in a glass matrass into a stream of running water and leave them there twenty days; by that time they will contract the natural hardness and solidity of pearls.  Then take them out of th matrass and hang them in mercurial water, where they will moisten, swell, and assume their Oriental beauty; after which shift them into a matrass hermitically closed to prevent any water coming to them, and let it down into a well, to continue there about eight days.  Then draw the matrass up, and in opening it you will find pearls exactly resembling Oriental ones."  (Here follows a recipe for making the mercurial water used in the process, with which I need not occupy more space.)

A similar formula, "To make of small pearls a necklace of large ones," is given in the "Lady's Magazine" for 1831, vol. iv., p. 119, which is said to be extracted from a scarce old book.  Thus, whatever mystery may surround the art is Asiatic countreis there is evidently none about it in Europe.  The process appears to be somewhat tedious and complicated, but is doubtless profitable.

In Philostratus' Life of Appolonius there is a curious passage about pearl-making which has been generally considered as a mere "traveller's tale":  Apollonious relates that the inhabitants of the shores of the Red Sea, after having calmed the water by means of oil, dived after the shell-fish, enticed them with some bait to open their shells, and having pricked the animals with a sharp-pointed instrument, received the liquor that flowed from them in small holes made in an iron vessel, in which is hardened into real pearls.--It is stated by several reputable writers that the Chinese do likewise at the present day.  And Sir R. F. Burton informs me that when he was on the coast of Midian he found the Arabs were in the habit of "growing" pearls by inserting a grain of sand into the shells.


The diverting adventures related in the first part of this tale should be of peculiar interest to the student of Shakspeare as well as to those engaged in tracing the genealogy of popular fiction.  Jonathan Scott has given--for reasons of his own--a meagre abstract of a similar tale which occurs in the “Bahár-i-Dánish” (vol. iii. App., p. 291), as follows:


A young man, being upon business in a certain city, goes on a hunting excursion, and, fatigued with the chase, stops at a country house to ask refreshment.  The lady of the mansion receives him kindly, and admits him as her lover.  In the midst of their dalliance the husband comes home, and the young man had no recourse to escape discovery but to jump into a basin which was in the court of the house, and stand with head in a hollow gourd that happened to be in the water.  The husband, surprised to see the gourd stationary in the water, which was itself agitated by the wind, throws a stone at it, when the lover slips from beneath it and holds his breath till almost suffocated.  Fortunately, the husband presently retires with his wife into an inner room of the house, and thus the young man was enabled to make good his escape.

The next day he relates his adventure before a large company at a coffee-house.  The husband happens to be one of the audience, and, meditating revenge, pretends to admire the gallantry of the young man and invites him to his home.  The lover accompanies him, and on seeing his residence is overwhelmed with confusion; but, recovering himself, resolves to abide all hazards, in hopes of escaping by some lucky stratagem.  His host introduces him to his wife, and begs him to relate his merry adventure before her, having resolved, when he should finish, to put them both to death.  The young man complies, but with an artful presence of mind exclaims at the conclusion, “Glad was I when I awoke from so alarming a dream.”  The husband upon this, after some questions, is satisfied that he had only told his dream, and, having entertained him nobly, dismisses him kindly.

This story is told in an elaborate form by Ser Giovanni Fiorentino, in “Il Pecorone” (The Big Sheep, or, as Dunlop has it, The Dunce), which was begun in 1378 but not published till 1554 (at Milan).  It is the second novel of the First Day and has been thus translated by Roscoe:


There were once two very intimate friends, both of the family of Saveli, in Rome; the name of one of whom was Bucciolo; that of the other Pietro Paolo, both of good birth and easy circumstances.  Expressing a mutual wish to study for a while together at Bologna they took leave of their relatives and set out.  One of them attached himself to the study of the civil law, the other to that of the canon law, and thus they continued to apply themselves for some length of time.  But the subject of Decretals takes a much narrower range than is embraced by the common law, so Bucciolo, who pursued the former, made greater progress than did Pietro Paolo, and, having taken a licentiate’s degree, he began to think of returning to Rome.  “You see, my dear fellow student,” he observed to his friend Paolo, “I am now a licentiate, and it is time for me to think of moving homewards.”  “Nay, not so,” replied his companion; “I have to entreat you will not think of leaving me here this winter.  Stay for me till spring, and we can return together.  In the meantime you may pursue some other study, so that you need not lose any time;” and to this Bucciolo at length consented, promising to await his relative’s own good time.

Having thus resolved, he had immediate recourse to his former tutor, informing him of his determination to bear his friend company a little longer, and entreating to be employed in some pleasant study to beguile the period during which he had to remain.  The professor begged him to suggest something he should like, as he should be very happy to assist him in its attainment.  “My worthy tutor,” replied Bucciolo, “I think I should like to learn the way in which one falls in love, and the best manner to begin.”  “O very good!” cried the tutor, laughing.  “You could not have hit upon anything better, for you must know that, if such be your object, I am a complete adept in the art.  To lose no time, in the first place go next Sunday to the church of the Frati Minori (Friars Minor of St. Francis), where all the ladies will be clustered together, and pay proper attention during service in order to discover if any one of them in particular happens to please you.  When you have done this, keep your eye upon her after service, to see the way she takes to her residence, and then come back to me.  And let this be the first lesson--the first part--of that in which it is my intention to instruct you.”  Bucciolo went accordingly, and taking his station the next Sunday in the church, as he had been directed, his eyes, wandering in every direction, were fixed upon all the pretty women in the place, and upon one in particular, who pleased him above all the rest.  She was by far the most beautiful and attractive lady he could discover, and on leaving church he took care to obey his master and follow her until he had made himself acquainted with her residence.  Nor was it long before the young lady began to perceive that the student was smitten with her; upon which Bucciolo returned to his master and informed him of what he had done.  “I have,” said he, “learned as much as you ordered me, and have found somebody I like very well.”  “So far, good,” cried the professor, not a little amused at the sort of science to which his pupil had thus seriously devoted himself--“so far, good!  And now observe what I have next to say to you: Take care to walk two or three times a day very respectfully before her house, casting your eyes about you in such a way that no one may catch you staring in her face; look in a modest and becoming manner, so that she cannot fail to notice and be struck with it.  And then return to me; and this, sir, will be the second lesson in this gay science.”

So the scholar went and promenaded with great discretion before the lady’s door, who observed that he appeared to be passing to and fro out of respect to one of the inhabitants.  This attracted her attention, for which Bucciolo very discreetly expressed his gratitude by looks and bows, which being as often returned, the scholar began to be aware that the lady liked him.  He immediately went and told the professor all that had passed, who replied, “Come, you have done very well.  I am hitherto quite satisfied.  It is now time for you to find some way of speaking to her, which you may easily do by means of those gipsies who haunt the streets of Bologna, crying ladies’ veils, purses and other articles for sale.  Send word by her that you are the lady’s most faithful, devoted servant, and that there is no one in the world you so much wish to please.  In short, let her urge your suit, and take care to bring the answer to me as soon as you have received it.  I will then tell you how you are to proceed.”

Departing in all haste, he soon found a little old pedlar woman, quite perfect in the trade, to whom he said he should take it as a particular favour if she would do one thing, for which he would reward her handsomely.  Upon this she declared her readiness to serve him in anything he pleased.  “For you know,” she added, “it is my business to get money in every way I can.”  Bucciolo gave her two florins, saying, ‘I wish you to go for me to-day as far as the Via Maccarella, where resides a young lady of the name of Giovanna, for whom I have the very highest regard.  Pray tell her so, and recommend me to her most affectionately, so as to obtain for me her good graces by every means in your power.  I entreat you to have my interest at heart, and to say such pretty things as she cannot refuse to hear.”  “O leave that to me, sir,” said the little old woman, “I will not fail to say a good word for you at the proper time.”  “Delay not,” said Bucciolo, “but go now, and I will wait for you here;” and she set off at once, taking her basket of trinkets under her arm.  On approaching the place, she saw the lady before the door, enjoying the air and curtseying to her very low, “Do I happen to have anything here you would fancy?” she said, displaying her wares.  “Pray, take something, madam--whatever pleases you best.”  Veils, stays, purses, and mirrors were now spread in the most tempting way before the lady’s eyes.  Out of all these things her attention seemed to be most attracted by a beautiful purse, which, she observed, if she could afford, she should like to purchase. “Nay, madam,” exclaimed the crone, “do not think anything about the price--take anything yo please, since they are all paid for already, I assure you.”  Surprised at hearing this, and perceiving the very respectful manner of the speaker, the lady rejoined, “Do you know what you are saying?  What do you mean by that?”  The old woman, pretending now to be much affected, said, “Well, madam, if it must be so, I shall tell you.  It is very true that a young gentleman of the name of Bucciolo sent me hither; one who loves you better than all the world besides.  There is nothing he would not do to please you, and indeed he appears to very wretched because he cannot speak to you, and he is so very good, that it is quite a pity.  I think it will be the death of him, and then he is such a fine--such an elegant--young man, the more is the pity!”  on hearing this, the lady, blushing deeply, turned sharply round upon the little old woman, exclaiming, “O you wicked creature! were it not for the sake of my own reputation, I would give you such a lesson that you should remember it to the latest day of your life!  A pretty story to come before decent people with! Are you not ashamed of yourself to let such words come out of your mouth?”  then seizing an iron bar that lay across the doorway, “Ill betide you, little wretch!” she cried, as she brandished it.  “If you ever come this way again, depend on it, you will never go back alive!”  the trembling old trot, quickly bundling up her wares, scampered off, in dread of feeling that cruel weapon on her shoulders, nor did she think of stopping till she had reached the place where Bucciolo stood waiting her return.  Eagerly inquiring the news and how she succeeded, “O very badly--very badly,” answered the crone.  “I was never in such a fright in all my life.  Why, she will neither see nor listen to you, and if I had not run away, I should have felt the weight of a great iron bar upon my shoulders.  For my own part, I shall go there no more; and I advise you, signor, to look to yourself how you proceed in such affairs in future.”

Poor Bucciolo became quite disconsolate, and returned in all haste to acquaint the professor with this unlucky result.  But the professor, not a whit cast down, consoled him, saying, “Do not despair; a tree is not levelled at a single stroke, you know.  I think you must have a repetition of your lesson to-night.  So go and walk before her door as usual; notice how she eyes you, and whether she appears angry or not, and then come back again to me.”  Bucciolo accordingly proceeded without delay to the lady’s house.  The moment she perceived him she called her maid and said to her, “Quick, quick--hasten after the young man--that is he, and tell him from me that he must come and speak with me this evening without fail--without fail.”  The girl soon came up with Bucciolo and thus addressed him: “My lady, signor, my lady, Giovanna, would be glad of your company this evening, she would be very glad to speak with you.”  Greatly surprised at this, Bucciolo replied, “Tell your lady I shall be most happy to wait upon her,” so saying, he set off once more to the professor, and reported the progress of the affair.  But this time the master looked a little more serious; for, from some trivial circumstances put together, he began to entertain suspicions that the lady was (as it really turned out) no other than his own wife.  So he rather anxiously inquired of Bucciolo whether he intended to accept the invitation.  “To be sure I do,” replied his pupil.  “Then,” said the professor, “promise that you will come here before you set off.”  “Certainly I will,” answered Bucciolo readily, and took his leave.

Now Bucciolo was far from suspecting that the lady bore so near a relationship to his respected tutor, although the latter began to be rather uneasy as to the result, feeling some twinges of jealousy which were by no means pleasant.  For he passed most of his winter evenings at the college where he gave lectures, and not unfrequently remained there for the night.  “I should be sorry,” said he to himself, “if this young gentleman were learning these things at my expense, and I must therefore know the real state of the case.”  In the evening his pupil called according to promise, saying, “Worthy master, I am now ready to go.”  “Well, go,” replied the professor; “but be wise, Signor Bucciolo--be wise and think more than once what you are about.”  “Trust me for that,” said the scholar, a little piqued: “I shall go well provided, and not walk into the mouth of danger unarmed.”  And away he went, furnished with a good cuirass, a rapier, and a stiletto in his belt.  He was no sooner on his way than the professor slipped out quietly after him, dogging his steps closely, until, trembling with rage, he saw him stop at his own house-door, which, on a smart tap being given, was quickly opened by the lady herself and the pupil admitted.  When the professor saw that it was indeed his own wife, he was quite overwhelmed and thought, “Alas, I fear this young fellow has learned more than he confesses at my expense;” and vowing to be revenged, he ran back to the college, where arming himself with sword and dagger, he then hastened to his house in a terrible passion. Arriving at his own door, he knocked loudly, and the lady, sitting before the fire with Bucciolo, instantly knew it was her husband, so taking hold of Bucciolo, she concealed him hurriedly under a heap of damp clothes lying on a table near the window for ironing, which done, she ran to the door and inquired who was there.  “Open quickly,” exclaimed the professor.  “You vile woman, you shall soon know who is here!”  On opening the door, she beheld him with a drawn sword, and cried in well-affected alarm, “O my dearest life, what means this?”  “You know very well what it means,” said he.  “The villain is now in the house.”  “Good Heaven! what is that you say?” exclaimed the lady.  “Are you gone out of your wits? Come and search the house, and if you find anybody, I will give you leave to kill me on the spot.  What! do you think I should now begin to misconduct myself as I never before did – as none of my family ever did before? Beware lest the Evil One should be tempting you, and, suddenly depriving you of your senses, draw you to perdition!”  But the professor, calling for candles, began to search the house from the cellar upwards--among the tubs and casks--in every place but the right place--running his sword through the beds and under the beds, and into every inch of the bedding--leaving no corner or crevice of the whole house untouched.  The lady accompanied him with a candle in her hand, frequently interrupting him with, “Say your beads--say your beads, good signor; it is certain that the Evil One is dealing with you, for were I half so bad as you esteem me, I would kill myself with my own hands.  But I entreat you not to give way to this evil suggestion: oppose the adversary while you can.”  Hearing these virtuous observations of his wife, and not being able to discover any one after the strictest search, the professor began to think that he must, after all, be possessed, and presently extinguished the lights and returned to the college.  The lady, on shutting the door after him, called out to Bucciolo to come from his hiding place, and then, stirring the fire, began to prepare a fine capon for supper, with some delicious wines and fruits.  And thus they regaled themselves, highly entertained with each other, nor was it their least satisfaction that the professor had just left them, apparently convinced that they had learned nothing at his expense.

Proceeding to the college the next morning, Bucciolo, without the least suspicion of the truth, informed his master that he had something for his ear which he was sure would make him laugh.  “How so?” demanded the professor. “Why,” said his pupil, “you must know that last night, just as I had entered the lady’s house, who should come in but her husband, and in such a rage!  He searched the whole house from top to bottom, without being able to find me.  I lay under a heap of newly-washed clothes, which were not half dry.  In short, the lady placed her part so well that the poor gentleman forthwith took his leave, and we afterwards ate a fine capon for supper and drank such wines--and with such zest!  It was really one of the pleasantest evenings I ever spent in my life.  But I think I’ll go and take a nap, for I promised to return this evening about the same hour.”  “Then be sure before you go,” said the professor, trembling with suppressed rage, “be sure to come and tell me when you set out.”  “O certainly,” responded Bucciolo, and away he went.  Such was now the unhappy tutor’s condition as to render him incapable of delivering a single lecture during the whole day, and such was his extreme vexation and eagerness for evening, that he spent his time in arming himself with sword and dagger and cuirass, meditating only upon deeds of blood.  At the appointed time came Bucciolo, with the utmost innocence, saying, “My dear master, I am going now.”  “Yes, go,” replied the professor, “and come back to-morrow morning, if you can, and tell me how you have fared.”  “I intend doing so,” said Bucciolo, and departed at a brisk pace for the house of the lady.

Armed cap-B-pie, the professor ran out after him, keeping pretty close to his heels, with the intention of catching him just as he entered.  But the lady, being on the watch, opened the door suddenly for the pupil and shut it in her husband’s face.  The professor began to knock and to call out with a furious noise.  Extinguishing the light in a moment, the lady placed Bucciolo behind the door, and throwing her arms round her husband’s neck as he entered, motioned to her lover while thus she held his enemy to make his escape, and he, upon the husband’s rushing forward, slipped out from behind the door unperceived.  She then began to scream as loud as she could, “Help! Help! The professor has gone mad! Will nobody help me?” for he was in an ungovernable rage, and she clung faster to him than before.  The neighbors running to her assistance and seeing the peaceable professor armed with deadly weapons, and his wife crying out, “Help, for the love of Heaven!--too much study hath driven him mad!”{ they readily believed such to be the fact.  “Come, good signor,” they said, “what is all this about?  Try to compose yourself--nay, do not struggle so hard, but let us help you to your couch.”  “How can I rest, think you,” he replied, “while this wicked woman harbours paramours in my house?  I saw him come in with my own eyes.”  “Wretch that I am!” cried his wife.  “inquire of all my friends and neighbors whether any one of them ever saw anything the least unbecoming in my conduct.”  The whole party entreated the professor to lay such thoughts aside, for there was not a better lady breathing, or one who set a higher value upon her reputation.  “But how can that be,” said he, “when I saw him enter the house, and he is in it now?”  in the meanwhile the lady’s two brothers arrived, when she began to weep bitterly, exclaiming, “O my dear brothers, my poor husband has gone mad, quite mad--and he even says there is a man in the house.  I believe he would kill me if he could; but you know me too well to listen for a moment to such a story,” and she continued to weep.

The brothers then accosted the professor in no gentle terms:  “We are surprised, signor--we are shocked to find that you dare bestow such epithets on our sister.  What can have led you, after living so amicably together, to bring these charges against her now?” “I can only tell you,” answered the professor, “that there is a man in the house.  I saw him enter.”  “Then come, and let us find him.  Show him to us,” retorted the incensed brothers, “for we will sift this matter to the bottom.  Show us the man, and we will then punish her in such a way as will satisfy you.”  One of the brothers, taking his sister aside, said, “First tell me, have you really got any one hidden in the house? Tell the truth.”  “Heavens!” cried his sister, “I tell you, I would rather suffer death.  Should I be the first to bring a scandal on our house?  I wonder you are not ashamed to mention such a thing.”  Rejoiced to hear this, the brothers, directed by the professor, at once commenced a search.  Half frantic, he led them at once to the great bundle of linen, which he pierced through and through with his sword, firmly believing that he was killing Bucciolo, all the while taunting him at every blow.  “There! I told you,” cried his wife, “that he was mad.  To think of destroying your own property thus!  It is plain he did not help to get them up,” she continued, whimpering--“all my best clothes!”

Having now sought everywhere in vain, one of the brothers observed, “He is indeed mad,” to which the other agreed, while he again attacked the professor in the bitterest terms:  “You have carried matters too far, signor; your conduct to our sister is shameful, and nothing but insanity can excuse it.”  Vexed enough before, the professor upon this flew into a violent passion, and brandished his naked sword in such a way that the others were obliged to use their sticks, which they did so very effectively that, after breaking them over his head, they chained him down like a maniac upon the floor, declaring he had lost his wits by excessive study, and taking possession of his house, they remained with their sister all night.  next morning they sent for a physician, who ordered a couch to be placed as near as possible to the fire, that no one should be allowed to speak or reply to the patient, and that he should be strictly dieted until he recovered his wits; and this regimen was diligently enforced. [FN#489]

A report immediately spread through Bologna that the good professor had become insane, which caused very general regret, his friends observing to each other, “It is indeed a bad business; but I suspected yesterday how it was--he could scarcely get a word out as he was delivering his lecture, did you not perceive?”  “Yes,” said another, “I saw him change colour, poor fellow.”  And by everybody, everywhere, it was decided that the professor was mad.  In this situation numbers of his scholars went to see him, and among the rest Bucciolo, knowing nothing of what had happened, agreed to accompany them to the college, desirous of acquainting his master with last night’s adventure.  What was his surprise to learn that he had actually taken leave of his senses, and being directed on leaving the college to the professor’s house, he was almost panic-struck on approaching the place, beginning to comprehend the whole affair.  Yet, in order that no one might be led to suspect the truth, he walked into the house along with the rest, and on reaching a certain apartment which he knew, he beheld his poor tutor almost beaten to a mummy, and chained down upon his bed, close to the fire.  His pupils were standing round condoling with him and lamenting his piteous case.  At length it came to Bucciolo’s turn to say something to him, which he did as follows:  “My dear master, I am truly concerned for you as if you were my own father, and if there is anything in which I can be of service to you, command me as your own son.”  To this the poor professor only replied, “No, Bucciolo, depart in peace, my pupil; depart, for you have learned much, very much, at my expense.”  Here his wife interrupted him: “You see how he wanders--heed not what he says--pay no attention to him, signor.”  Bucciolo, however, prepared to depart, and taking a hasty leave of the professor, he proceeded to the lodging of his friend Pietro Paolo, and said to him, “Fare you well.  god bless you, my friend.  I must away; and I have lately learned so much at other people’s expense that I am going home.”  So saying, he hurried away, and in due course arrived in safety in Rome.

The affliction of the professor of Giovanni’s sprightly tale will probably be considered by most readers as well-merited punishment; the young gallant proved an apt scholar in the art of love, and here was the inciter to evil repaid with the same coin!

Straparola also tells the story, but in a different form, in his “Pleasant Nights” (Piacevoli Notti), First Day, second novella; and his version is taken into a small collection entitled “Tarlton’s Newes out of Purgatorie,” first published in or before 1590--a catchpenny tract in which, of course, Dick Tarlton had never a hand, any more than he had in the collection of jests which goes under his name.


In Pisa, a famous city of Italye, there lived a gentleman of good lineage and landes, feared as well for his wealth, as honoured for his vertue, but indeed well thought on for both; yet the better for his riches.  This gentleman had one onelye daughter, called Margaret, who for her beauty was liked of all, and desired of many.  But neither might their sutes nor her owne prevaile about her father’s resolution, who was determyned not to marrye her, but to such a man as should be able in abundance to maintain the excellency of her beauty.  Divers young gentlemen proffered large feoffments, but in vaine, a maide shee must bee still: till at last an olde doctor in the towne, that professed phisicke, became a sutor to her, who was a welcome man to her father, in that he was one of the wealthiest men in all Pisa; a tall stripling he was and a proper youth, his age about foure score, his heade as white as milke, wherein for offence sake there was left never a tooth.  But it is no matter, what he wanted in person he had in the purse, which the poore gentlewoman little regarded, wishing rather to tie herself to one that might fit her content, though they lived meanly, then to him with all the wealth in Italye.  But shee was yong, and forcst to follow her father’s direction, who, upon large covenants, was content his daughter should marry with the doctor, and whether she likte him or no, the match was made up, and in short time she was married.  The poore wench was bound to the stake, and had not onely an olde impotent man, but one that was so jealous, as none might enter into his house without suspition, nor shee doo any thing without blame; the least glance, the smallest countenance, any smile was a manifest instance to him that she thought of others better than himselfe.  Thus he himselfe lived in a hell, and tormented his wife in as ill perplexitie.

At last it chaunced that a young gentleman of the citie, coming by her house, and seeing her looke out at her window, noting her rare and excellent proportion, fell in love with her, and that so extreamelye, as his passions had no meanes till her favour might mittigate his heart sicke discontent.  The yong man that was ignorant in amorous matters, and had never beene used to courte anye gentlewoman, thought to reveale his passions to some one freend that might given him counsaile for the winning of her love, and thinking experience was the surest maister, on a daye seeing the olde doctor walkinge in the churche that was Margaret’s husband, little knowing who he was, he thought this the fittest man to whom he might discover his passions, for that hee was olde and knew much, and was a phisition that with his drugges might helpe him forward in his purposes, so that seeing the olde man walke solitary, he joinde unto him, and after a curteous salute, tolde him that he was to impart a matter of great import to him, wherein, if hee would not onely be secrete, but indevour to pleasure him, his pains should bee every way to the full considered.  You must imagine, gentleman, quoth Mutio, for so was the doctor’s name, that men of our profession are no blabs, but hold their secrets in their hearts bottome, and therefore reveale what you please, it shall not onely be concealed, but cured, if either my art or counsaile may doo it.  Upon this, Lyonell, so was the young gentleman called, told and discourst unto him from point to point, how he was falne in love with a gentlewoman that was married to one of his profession, discovered her dwelling and the house, for that he was unacquainted with the woman, and a man little experienced in love matters, he required his favour to further him with his advice.  Mutio at this motion was stung to the hart, knowing it was his wife hee was fallen in love withall, yet to conceale the matter, and to experience his wive’s chastity, and that if she plaide false, he might be revenged on them both, he dissembled the matter, and answered that he knewe the woman very well, and commended her highly: but said she had a churle to her husband, and therefore he thought shee would bee the more tractable: Trye her, man, quoth hee, fainte harte never wonne faire lady, and if shee will not be brought to the bent of your bowe, I will provide such a potion as shall dispatch all to your owne content: and to give you further instructions for oportunitie, knowe that her husband is foorth every after-noone from three till sixe.  Thus farre I have advised you, because I pitty your passions, as my selfe being once a lover, but now I charge thee reveale it to none whomsoever, least it doo disparage my credit to meddle in amorous matters.

The yong gentleman not onely promised all carefull secrecy, but gave him harty thanks for his good counsell, promising to meete him there the next day, and tell him what newes.  Then hee left the old man, who was almost mad for feare his wife any way should play false; he saw by experience brave men came to besiege the castle, and seeing it was in woman’s custodie, and had so weeke a governor as himselfe, he doubted it would in time be delivered up: which feare made him almost franticke, yet he drivde of the time great torment, till he might heare from his rival.  Lionello he hastes him home and sutes him in his braverye, and goes downe toward the house of Mutio, where he sees her at the windowe whome he courted with a passionate looke, with such humble salute and shee might perceive how the gentleman was affectionate.  Margaretta, looking earnestlye upon him, and noting the perfection of his proportion, accounted him in her eye the flower of all Pisa, thinkte herselfe fortunate if shee might have him for her freend, to supply the defaultes that she found in Mutio.  Sundry times that afternoone he past by her window, and he cast not up more loving lookes, than he received gratious favours, which did so incourage him that the next daye betweene three and sixe hee went to her house, and knocking at the doore, desired to speake with the mistris of the house, who hearing by her maid’s description what he was, commaunded him to come in, where she intertained him with all courtesie.

The youth that never before had given the attempt to court a ladye, began his exordium with a blushe; and yet went forward so well, that hee discourst unto her howe hee loved her, and that if it might please her to accept of his service, as of a freende ever vowde in all dutye to bee at her commaunde, the care of her honour should bee deerer to him than his life, and hee would be ready to prise her discontent with his bloud at all times.  The gentlewoman was a little coye, but, before they part, they concluded that the next daye at foure of the clock hee should come thither and eate a pound of cherries, which was resolved on with a succado des labras, and so with a loath to depart they tooke their leaves.  Lionello as joyfull a man as might be, hyed him to the church to meete his olde doctor, where he found him in his olde walke: What newes, syr, quoth Mutio, how have you sped?  Even as I can wishe, quoth Lionello, for I have been with my mistrisse, and have found her so tractable, that I hope to make the olde peasant, her husband, looke broadheaded by a paire of browantlers.  How deepe this strooke into Mutio’s hart, let them imagine that can conjecture what jealousie is; insomuch that the olde doctor askte when should be the time.  marry, quoth Lionello, at foure of the clocke in the afternoone, and then Maister Doctor, quoth hee, will I dub the old squire knight of the forked order.

Thus they past on in that, till it grew late, and then Lyonello went home to his lodging and Mutio to his house, covering all his sorrows with a merrye countenance, with full resolution to revenge them both the next daye with extremitie.  He past the night as patiently as he could, and the next daye, after dinner, awaye hee went, watching when it should bee foure of the clocke.  At the hour justly came Lyonello and was intertained with all curtesie; but scarce had they kist, ere the maid cryed out to her mistresse that her maister was at the doore; for he hasted, knowing that a horne was but a litle while in grafting.  Margaret, at this alarum, was amazed, and yet for a shift chopt Lionello into a great driefatte [FN#491] full of feathers, [FN#492] and sat her downe close to her woorke.  By that came Mutio in blowing, and as though hee came to looke somewhat in haste, called for the keyes of his chamber, and looked in everye place, searching so narrowlye in everye corner of the house, that he left not the very privie unsearcht.  Seeing he could not finde him, hee said nothing, but fayning himselfe not well at ease, staide at home, so that poor Lionello was faine to staye in the drifatte till the old churle was in bed with his wife; and then the maide let him out at a backe doore, who went home with a flea in his eare to his lodging.

Well, the next day he went againe to meete his doctor, whome he founde in his wonted  walke.  What newes? Quoth Mutio, how have you sped?  A poxe of the olde slave, quoth Lyonello; I was no sooner in and had given my mistresse one kisse, but the jelous asse was at the doore; the maide spied him, and cryed her maister; so that the poore gentlewoman, for very shifte, was faine to put me in a driefatte of feathers that stoode in an olde chamber, and there I was faine to tarry while [FN#493] he was in bed and a-sleepe, and then the maide let me out, and I departed.  But it is no matter; ’twas but a chaunce, and I hope to crye quittance with him ere it be long.  As how? Quoth Mutio.  Marry, thus, quoth Lionello: shee sent me woord by her maide this daye that upon Thursday next the olde churle suppeth with a patient of his a mile out of Pisa, and then I feare not but to quitte [FN#494] him for all.  It is well, quoth Mutio; fortune bee your frende.  I thanke you, quoth Lionello: and so, after a little more prattle, they departed.

To bee shorte, Thursdaye came, and about sixe of the clocke, foorth goes Mutio no further than a freendes house of his, from whence he might descrye who went into his house; straight hee saw Lionello enter in, and after goes hee, insomuche that hee was scarcelye sitten downe, before the mayde cryed out againe, my maister comes.  The goodwife, that before had provided for after-claps, [FN#495] had found out a privie place between two seelings of a plauncher, [FN#496] and there she thrust Lionello, and her husband came sweting.  What news, quoth shee, drives you home againe so soone, husband?  Marry, sweete wife, quoth he, a fearfull dream that I had this night, which came to my remembrance, and that was this: me thought there was a villaine that came secretlye into my house, with a naked poinard in his hand, and hid himselfe, but I could not finde the place; with that mine nose bled, and I came back; and, by the grace of God, I will seeke every corner in the house for the quiet of my minde.  Marry, I pray you doo, husband, quoth she.  With that he lockt in all the doors, and began to search every chamber, every hole, every chest, every tub, the very well; he stabd every feather bed through, and made havocke like a mad man, which made him thinke all was in vaine; and hee began to blame his eies that thought they saw that which they did not.  Upon this he rest halfe lunaticke, and all night he was very wakefull, that towards the morning he fell into a dead sleepe, and then was Lionello conveighed away.

In the morning when Mutio wakened, hee thought how by no meanes hee should be able to take Lionello tardy: yet he laid in his head a most dangerous plot; and that was this:  Wife, quoth he, I must the next Monday ride to Vycensa, to visit an olde patient of mine; till my returne, which will be some ten dayes, I will have thee staye at our little graunge house in the countrey.  Marry, very well content, quoth she.  With that he kist her, and was verye pleasant, as though he had suspected nothing, and away hee flings to the church, where he meetes Lionello.  What, sir, quoth he, what news? is your mistresse yours in possession?  No, a plague of the olde slave, quoth hee.  I think he is either a witch or els woorkes by magick; for I can no sooner enter into the doores, but he is at my backe, and so he was againe yesternight; for I was not warm in my seate before the maide cryed, my maister comes; and then was the poore soule faine to conveigh me betweene two seelings of a chamber, in a fit place for the purpose, wher I laught hartely to myself too see how he sought every corner, ransakt every tub, and stabd every feather bed, but in vaine; I was safe enough until the morning, and then, when he was fast asleepe, I lept out.  Fortune frownes on you, quoth Mutio.  I, [FN#497] but I hope, quoth Lionello, this is the last time, and now shee will begin to smile; for on Monday next he rides to Vicensa, and his wife lyes at the grange house a little (out) of the towne, and there in his absence I will revenge all forepast misfortunes.  God sent it be so, quoth Mutio; and so took his leave.

These two lovers longd for Monday, and at last it came.  Early in the morning Mutio horst himselfe and his wife, his maide and a man, and no more, and away he rides to his grange house, wher, after he had brok his fast, he took his leave, and away towards Vincensa.  He rode not far ere, by a false way, he returned into a thicket, and there, with a company of cuntry peasants, lay in an ambuscade to take the young gentleman.  In the afternoon comes Lionello galloping, and as soon as he came within sight of the house, he sent back his horse by his boy, and went easily afoot, and there, at the very entry, was entertained by Margaret, who led him up the staires, and convaid him into her bedchamber, saying he was welcome into so mean a cottage.  But, quoth she, now I hope fortun shall not envy the purity of our loves.  Alas! alas! mistris, cried the maid, heer is my maister, and 100 men with him, with bils and staves.  We are betraid, quoth Lionel, and I am but a dead man.  Feare not, quoth she, but follow me: and straight she carried him downe into a low parlor, where stoode an olde rotten chest full of writinges; she put him into that, and covered him with olde papers and evidences, and went to the gate to meet her husband.

Why, Signor Mutio, what meanes this hurly burly? quoth she.  Vile and shameless strumpet as thou art, thou shalt know by and by, quoth he.  Where is thy love?  All we have watcht him and seen him enter in.  Now, quoth he, shall neither thy tub of feathers or thy seeling serve, for perish he shall with fire, or els fall into my handes.  Doo thy worst, jealous foole, quoth she, I ask thee no favour.  With that, in a rage, he beset the house round, and then set fire on it.  Oh, in what perplexitie was poore Lionello in that he was shut in a chest, and the fire about his eares! and how was Margaret passionat, that knew her lover was in such danger!  Yet she made light of the matter, and, as one in a rage, called her maid to her and said: Come on, wench, seeing thy maister, mad with jealousie, hath set the house and al my living on fire, I will be revenged on him: help me heer to lift this old chest where all his writings and deeds are; let that burne first, and as soon as I see that on fire I will walke towards my freends, for the olde foole will be beggard, and I will refuse him.  Mutio, that knew al his obligations and statutes lay there, puld her back and had two of his men carry the chest into the field, and see it were safe, himselfe standing by and seeing his house burned downe sticke and stone.  Then, quieted in his mind, he went home with his wife and began to flatter her, thinking assuredly that he had burnt her paramour, causing his chest to be carried in a cart to his house in Pisa.  Margaret, impatient, went to her mother’s and complained to her and her brethren of the jealousie of her husband, who maintaned her it to be true, and desired but a daies respite to proove it.

Wel, hee was bidden to supper the next night at her mother’s, she thinking to make her daughter and him freends againe.  In the meane time he to his woonted walk in the church, and there, prFter expectationem, he found Lionello walking.  Wondring at this, he straight enquires what newes.  What newes, Maister Doctor, quoth he, and he fell in a great laughing; in faith yesterday, I scapt a scouring, for syrrha, I went to the grange-house, where I was appointed to come, and I was no sooner gotten up to the chamber, but the magicall villeine, her husband, beset the house with bils and staves, and that he might be sure no seeling nor corner should shrowde me, he set the house on fire, and so burnt it downe to the ground.  Why, quoth Mutio, and how did you escape?  Alas, quoth he, wel fare a woman’s wit; she conveighed me into an old chest full of writings, which she knew her husband durst not burne, and so I was saved and brought to Pisa, and yesternight, by her maide, let home to my lodging.  This, quoth he, is the pleasantest jest that ever I heard; and upon this I have a sute to you: I am this night bidden foorth to supper, you shall be my guest, onely I will crave so much favour, as after supper for a pleasant sporte, to make relation what successe you have had in your loves.  For that I will not sticke, quoth he, and so he conveyed Lionello to his mother-in-law’s house with him, and discovered to his wive’s brethren who he was, and how at supper he would disclose the whole matter; For, quoth he, he knowes not that I am Margaret’s husband.  At this all the brethren bad him welcome, and so did the mother to, and Margaret, she was kept out of sight.  Supper time being come they fell to their victals, and Lionello was carrowst unto by Mutio, who was very pleasant, to drawe him into a merry humour, that he might to the ful discourse the effect and fortunes of his love.  Supper being ended, Mutio requested him to tel to the gentlemen what had hapned between him and his mistresse.  Lionello, with a smiling countenance, began to describe his mistresse, the house and street where she dwelt, how he fell in love with her, and how he used the councell of this doctor, who in all his affaires was his secretarye.  Margaret heard all this with a great feare, and when he came to the last point, she caused a cup of wine to be given him by one of her sisters, wherein was a ring that he had given Margaret.  As he had told how he had escapt burning, and was ready to confirme all for a troth, the gentlewoman drunke to him, who taking the cup and seeing the ring, having a quick wit and a reaching head, spide the fetch, and perceived that all this while this was his lover’s husband to whome hee had revealed these escapes; at this drinking the wine and swallowing the ring into his mouth he went forward.  Gentlemen, quoth he, how like you of my loves and my fortunes?  Wel, quoth the gentlemen; I pray you is it true?  As true, quoth he, as if I would be so simple as to reveal what I did to Margaret’s husband; for, know you, gentlemen, that I knew this Mutio to be her husband whom I notified to be my lover; and for that he was generally known throughout Pisa to be a jealous fool, therefore, with these tales I brought him into paradice, which are follies of mine owne braine; for, trust me, by the faith of a gentleman, I never spake to the woman, was never in her companye, neyther doo I know her if I see her.  At this they all fell in a laughing at Mutio, who was ashamde that Lionello had so scoft him.  But all was well; they were made friends, but the jest went so to his hart that he shortly after died, and Lionello enjoyed the ladye.

Ser Giovanni’s story, Roscoe observes, is “curious as having through the medium of translation suggested the idea of those amusing scenes in which the renowned Falstaff acquaints Master Ford, disguised under the name of Brooke, with his progress in the good graces of Mrs. Ford.  The contrivances likewise by which he eludes the vengeance of the jealous husband are similar to those recounted in the novel, with the addition of throwing the unweildy knight into the river.  Dunlop says that the same story has been translated is a collection entitled ‘The Fortunate, Deceived, and Unfortunate Lovers,’ and that Shakspeare may probably also have seen it in ‘Tarlton’s Newes out of Purgatorie,’ where the incidents related in the Lovers of Pisa are given according to Straparola’s story.  Moliere made a happy use of it in his ‘Ecole des Femmes,’ where the humour of the piece turns upon a young gentleman confiding his progress in the affections of a lady to the ear of her guardian, who believed he was on the point of espousing her himself.”  Two other French plays were based upon the story, one of which was written by La Fontaine under the title of “La Maitre en Droit.”  Readers of “Gil Blas” will also recollect how Don Raphael confides to Balthazar the progress of his amour with his wife, and expresses his vexation at the husband’s unexpected return.

It is much to be regretted that nothing is known as to the date and place of the composition of the Breslau edition of The Nights, which alone contains this and several other tales found in the collections of the early Italian novelists.


Although we may find, as already stated, the direct source of this tale in the forty-sixth chapter of Al-Mas’údi’s “Meadows of Gold and Mines of Gems,” which was written about A.D. 943, yet there exists a much older version--if not the original form--in a Sanskrit collection entitled, “Vetálapanchavinsatí,” or Twenty-five Tales of a Vampyre.  This ancient work is incorporated with the “Kathá Sarit Ságara,” or Ocean of the Streams of Story, composed in Sanskrit verse by Somadeva in the 11th century, after a similar work, now apparently lost, entitled “Vrihat Kathá,” or Great Story, written by Gunadhya, in the 6th century. [FN#498]  In the opinion of Benfey all the Vampyre Tales are of Buddhist extraction (some are unquestionably so), and they probably date from before our era.  As a separate work they exist, more or less modified, in many of the Indian vernaculars; in Hindí, under the title of “Baital Pachísí”; in Tamil, “Vedala Kadai”; and there are also versions in Telegu, Mahratta, and Canarese.  The following is from Professor C. H. Tawney’s complete translation of the “Kathá Sarit Ságara” (it is the 8th recital of the Vetala):


There is a great tract of land assigned to Bráhmans in the country of Anga, called Vrikshaghata.  In it there lived a rich sacrificing Bráhman named Vishnusvámin.  And he had a wife equal to himself in birth.  And by her he had three sons born to him, who were distinguished for preternatural acuteness.  In course of time they grew up to be young men.  One day, when he had begun a sacrifice, he sent those three brothers to the sea to fetch a turtle.  So off they went, and when they had found a turtle, the eldest said to his two brothers, “Let one of you take the turtle for our father’s sacrifice; I cannot take it, as it is all slippery with slime.”  When the eldest said this, the two younger ones answered him, “If you hesitate about taking it, why should not we?”  When the eldest heard that, he said, “You two must take the turtle; if you do not, you will have obstructed your father’s sacrifice, and then you will certainly sink down to hell.” When he told the younger brother’s this, they laughed and said to him, “If you see our duty so clearly, why do you not see that your own is the same?”  Then the eldest said, “What, do you not know how fastidious I am?  I am very fastidious about eating, and I cannot be expected to touch what is repulsive.”  The middle brother, when he heard this speech of his, said to his brother, “Then I am a more fastidious person than you, for I am a most fastidious connoisseur of the fair sex.”  When the middle one said this, the eldest went on to say, “Then let the younger of you two take the turtle.”  Then the youngest brother frowned, and in his turn said to the two elder, “You fools, I am very fastidious about beds; so I am the most fastidious of the lot.”

So the three brothers fell to quarrelling with one another, and being completely under the dominion of conceit, they left that turtle and went off immediately to the court of the king of that country, whose name was Prasenajit, and who lived in a city named Vitankapura, in order to have the dispute decided.  There they had themselves announced by the warder, and went in, and gave the king a circumstantial account of their case.  The king said, “Wait here, and I will put you all in turn to the proof;’ so they agreed and remained there.  And at the time that the king took his meal, he had them conducted to a seat of honour, and given delicious food fit for a king, possessing all the six flavours.  And while all were feasting around him, the Bráhman who was fastidious about eating along of the company did not eat, but sat there with his face puckered up with disgust.  The king himself asked the Bráhman why he did not eat his food, though it was sweet and fragrant, and he slowly answered him, “I perceive in this food an evil smell of the reek from corpses, so I cannot bring myself to eat it, however delicious it may be.”  When he said this before the assembled multitude, they all smelled it by the king’s orders, and said, “This food is prepared from white rice and is good and fragrant.”  But the Bráhman who was so fastidious about eating would not touch it, but stopped his nose.  Then the king reflected, and proceeded to inquire into the matter, and found out from his officers that the food had been made from rice which had been grown in a field near the burning ghát of a certain village.  Then the king was much astonished, and, being pleased, he said to him, “In truth you are very particular as to what you eat; so eat of some other dish.”

And after they had finished their dinner, the king dismissed the Bráhmans to their apartments and sent for the loveliest lady of his court.  And in the evening he sent that fair one, all whose limbs were of faultless beauty, splendidly adorned, to the second Bráhman, who was so squeamish about the fair sex.  And that matchless kindler of Cupid’s flame, with a face like the full moon of midnight, went, escorted by the king’s servants, to the chamber of the Bráhman.  But when she entered, lighting up the chamber with her brightness, that gentleman who was so fastidious about the fair sex felt quite faint, and stopping his nose with his left hand, said to the king’s servants, “Take her away; if you do not, I am a dead man: a smell comes from her like that of a goat.”  When the king’s servants heard this, they took the bewildered fair one to their sovereign, and told him what had taken place.  And the eking immediately had the squeamish gentleman sent for, and said to him, “How can this lovely woman, who has perfumed herself with sandal-wood, camphor, black aloes, and other splendid scents, so that she diffuses exquisite fragrance through the world, smell like a goat?”  But though the king used this argument to the squeamish gentleman he stuck to his point; and then the king began to have his doubts on the subject, and at last, by artfully framed questions, he elicited from the lady herself that, having been separated in her childhood from her mother and nurse, she had been brought up on goat’s milk.

Then the king was much astonished, and praised highly the discernment of the man who was fastidious about the fair sex, and immediately had given to the third Bráhman, who was fastidious about beds, in accordance with his taste, a bed composed of seven mattresses placed upon a bedstead.  White smooth sheets and coverlets were laid upon the bed, and the fastidious man slept upon it in a splendid room.  But, before half a watch of the night had passed, he rose up from that bed, with his hand pressed to his side, screaming in an agony of pain.  And the king’s officers, who were there, saw a red crooked mark on his side, as if a hair had been pressed deep into it. And they went and told the king, and the king said to them, “Look and see if there is not something under the mattress.”  So they went and examined the bottom of the mattresses one by one, and they found a hair in the middle of the bedstead underneath them all.  And they took it and showed it to the king, and they also brought the man who was fastidious about beds, and when the king saw the state of his body, he was astonished.  And he spent the whole night in wondering how a hair could make so deep an impression on his skin through seven mattresses. [FN#499]

And the next morning the king gave three hundred thousand gold pieces to those fastidious men, because they were persons of wonderful discernment and refinement.  And they remained in great comfort in the king’s court, forgetting all about the turtle, and little did they reck of the fact that they had incurred sin by obstructing their father’s sacrifice. [FN#500]

The story of the brothers who were so very “knowing” is common to most countries, with occasional local modifications.  It is not often we find the knowledge of the “quintessence of things” concentrated in a single individual, as in the case of the ex-king of our tale, but we have his exact counterpart--and the circumstance is significant--in No. 2 of the “Cento Novelle Antiche,” the first Italian collection of short stories, made in the 13th century, where a prisoner informs the king of Greece that a certain horse has been suckled by a she-ass, that a jewel contains a flaw, and that the king himself is a baker.  Mr. Tawney, in a note on the Vetála story, as above, refers also to the decisions of Hamlet in Saxo Grammaticus, 1839, p. 138, in Simrock’s “Quellen des Shakespeare,” I, 81-85; 5, 170; he lays down that some bread tastes of blood (the corn was grown on a battlefield); that some liquor tastes of iron (the malt was mixed with water taken from a well in which some rusty swords had lain); that some bacon tastes of corpses (the pig had eaten a corpse); lastly, that the king is a servant and his wife a serving-maid.  But in most versions of the story three brothers are the gifted heroes.

In “Mélusine” [FN#501] for 5 Nov. 1885, M. René Basset cites an interesting variant (in which, as is often the case, the “Lost Camel” plays a part, but are not concerned about it at present) from Radloff’s “Proben der Volksliteratur der turkischen Stamme des Sud-Siberiens,” as follows:


Meat and bread were set before the three brothers, and the prince went out.  The eldest said, “The prince is a slave;” the second, “This is dog’s flesh;” the youngest, “This bread has grown over the legs of a dead body.”  The prince heard them.  He took a knife and ran to find his mother.  “Tell me the truth,” cried he--“were you unfaithful to my father during his absence?  A man who is here has called me a slave.”  “My son,” replied she, “If I don’t tell the truth, I shall die; if I tell it, I shall die.  When thy father was absent, I gave myself up to a slave.”  The prince left his mother and ran to the house of the shepherd:  “The meat which you have cooked to-day--what is it?  Tell the truth, otherwise I’ll cut your head off.”  “Master, if I tell it, I shall die; if I don’t I shall die.  I will be truthful.  It was a lamb whose mother had no milk; on the day of its birth, it was suckled by a bitch: that is to-day’s ewe.”  The prince left the shepherd and ran to the house of the husbandman: “Tell the truth, or else I’ll cut off your head.  Three young men have come to my house, I have placed bread before them, and they say that the grain has grown over the limbs of a dead man.”  “I will be frank with you.  I ploughed with my plough in a place where were (buried) the limbs of a man; without knowing it, I sowed some wheat, which grew up.”  the prince quitted his slave and returned to his house, where were seated the strangers.  He said to the first, “Young man, how do you know that I am a slave?”  “Because you went out as soon as the repast was brought in.”  He asked the second, “How do you know that the meat which was served was that of a dog?” “Because it has a disagreeable taste like the flesh of a dog.”  Then to the third: “How come you to know that this bread was grown over the limbs of a dead person?”  “What shall I say?  It smells of the limbs of a dead body; that is why I recognised it.  If you do not believe me, ask your slave; he will tell you that what I say is true.”

In the same paper (col. 516) M. René Basset cites a somewhat elaborate variant, from Stier’s “Ungarische Sagen und Märchen,” in which, once more, the knowledge of the “quintessence of things” is concentrated in a single individual.


A clever Magyar is introduced with his companions in disguise into the camp of the king of the Tátárs, who is menacing his country.  The prince, suspicious, causes him to be carefully watched by his mother, a skilful sorceress.  They brought in the evening’s repast.  “What good wine the prince has!” said she.  “Yes,” replied one, “but it contains human blood.”  The sorceress took not of the bed from whence these words proceeded, and when all were asleep she deftly cut a lock of hair from him who had spoken, crept stealthily out of the room, and brought this mark to her son.  the strangers started up, and when our hero discovered what had been done to him, he cut a lock from all, to render his decision impossible.  When they came to dinner, the king knew not from whom the lock had been taken.  The following night the mother of the prince again slipped into the room, and said, “What good bread has the prince of the Tátárs!”  “Very good,” replied one, “it is made with the milk of a woman.”  When all were asleep, she cut a little off the moustache of him who was lying in the bed from which the voice proceeded.  This time the Magyars were still more on the alert, and when they were apprised of the matter, they all cut a little from their moustaches, so that next morning the prince found himself again foiled.  The third night the old lady hid herself, and said in a loud voice, “What a handsome man is the prince of the Tátárs!”  “Yes,” said one, “but he is a bastard.”  When all were asleep, the old lady made a mark on the visor of the helmet of the one from whence had come the words, and then acquainted her son of what she had done.  In the morning the prince perceived that all the helmets were similarly marked. [FN#502] At length he refrained, and said, “I see that there is among you a master greater than myself; that is why I desire very earnestly to know him.  He may make himself known; I should like to see and know this extraordinary man, who is more clever and powerful than myself.”  The young man started up from his seat and said, “I have not wished to be stronger or wiser than yourself.  I have only wished to find out what you had preconcerted for us.  I am the person who has been marked three nights.”  “It is well, young man.  But prove now your words:  How is there human blood in the wine?”  “Call your butler and he will tell you.”  The butler came in trembling all over, and confessed that when he corked the wine he had cut his finger with the knife, and a drop of blood had fallen into the cask.  “But how is there woman’s milk in the bread?” asked the king.  “Call the bakeress,” he replied, “and she will tell it you.”  When they questioned her, she confessed that she was kneading the bread and at the same time suckling her baby, and that on pressing it to her breast some milk flowed and was mixed with the bread.  The sorceress, the mother of the king, when they came to the third revelation of the young man, confessed in her turn that the king was illegitimate.

Mr. Tawney refers to the Chevalier de Mailly’s version of the Three Princes of Serendip (Ceylon):  The three are sitting at table, and eating a leg of lamb, sent with some splendid wine from the table of the emperor Bahrám.  The eldest maintains that the wine was made of grapes that grew in a cemetery; the second, that the lamb was brought up on dog’s milk; while the third asserts that the emperor had put to death the son of the wazír. And that the latter is bent on vengeance.  All these statements turn out to be well-grounded.  Mr. Tawney also refers to parallel stories in the Breslau edition of The Nights; namely, in Night 458, it is similarly conjectured that the bread was baked by a sick woman; that the kid was suckled by a bitch, and that the sultan is illegitimate; and in Night 459, a gem-cutter guesses that a jewel has an internal flaw, a man skilled in the pedigrees of horses divines that a horse is the offspring of a female buffalo, and a man skilled in human pedigrees that the mother of the favourite queen was a rope-dancer.  Similar incidents occur in “The Sultan of Yemen and his Three Sons,” one of the Additional Tales translated by Scott, from the Wortley-Montague MS., now in the Bodleian Library, and comprised in vol. vi. of his edition of “The Arabian Nights Entertainments,” published at London in 1811.

An analogous tale occurs in Mr. E. J. W. Gibb’s recently-published translation of the “History of the Forty Vezirs (the Lady’s Fourth Story, p. 69 ff.), the motif of which is that “all things return to their origin:”


There was in the palace of the world a king who was very desirous of seeing Khizr [FN#503] (peace on him!), and he would even say, “If there be any one who will show me Khizr, I will give him whatsoever he may wish.”  Now there was at that time a man poor of estate, and from the stress of his poverty he said to himself, “Let me go and speak to the king, that if he provide for me during three years, either I will be dead, or the king will be dead, or he will forgive me my fault, or I shall on somewise win to escape, and in this way shall I make merry for a time.”  so he went to the king and spake these words to him. [FN#504]  the king said, “An thou show him not, then I will kill thee,” and that poor man consented.  Then the king let give him much wealth and money, and the poor man took that wealth and money and went to his house.  Three years he spent in merriment and delight, and he rested at ease till the term was accomplished.  At the end of that time he fled and hid himself in a trackless place and he began to quake for fear.  Of a sudden he saw a personage with white raiment and shining face, who saluted him.  The poor man returned the salutation, and the radiant being asked, “Why art thou thus sad?”  but he gave no answer.  Again the radiant being asked him and sware to him, saying, “Do indeed tell to me thy plight, that I may find thee some remedy.”  So that hapless one narrated his story from its beginning to its end, and the radiant being said, “Come, I will go with thee to the king, and I will answer for thee.”  So they arose.

Now the king wanted that hapless one, and while they were going some of the king’s officers who were seeking met them, and they straightway seized the poor man and brought him to the king.  Quoth the king, “Lo, the three years are accomplished; come now, and show me Khizr.”  The poor man said, “My king, grace and bounty are the work of kings--forgive my sin.”  Quoth the king, “I made a pact; till I have killed thee, I shall not have fulfilled it.”  And he looked to his chief vezír and said, “How should this be done?”  quoth the vezír, “This man should be hewn in many pieces and then hung up on butchers’ hooks, that others may see and lie not before the king.”  Said that radiant being, “True spake the vezír;--all things return to their origin.”  Then the king looked to the second vezír and said, “What sayest thou?”  he replied, “This man should be boiled in a cauldron.”  Said that radiant being, “True spake the vezír;--all things return to their origin.”  The king looked to the third vezir and said, “What sayest though?”  the vezír replied, “This man should be hewn in small pieces and baked in an oven.”  Again said that elder, “True spake the vezír;--all things return to their origin.”  Then quoth the king to the fourth vezír, “Let us see what sayest thou?”  The vezír replied, “O king, the wealth thou gavest this poor creature was for the love of Khizr (peace on him!).  he, thinking to find him, accepted it; now that he has not found him he seeks pardon.  This were befitting, that thou set free this poor creature for love of Khizr.”  Said that elder, “True spake the vezír;--all things return to their origin.”  Then the king said to the elder, “O elder, my vezírs have said different things contrary the one to the other, and thou hast said concerning each of them, ‘True spake the vezír; - all things return to their origin.’  What is the reason thereof?”  that elder replied, “O king, thy first vezír is a butcher’s son; therefore did he draw to his origin.  Thy second vezír is a cook’s son, and he likewise proposed a punishment as became his origin.  Thy third vezír is a baker’s son; he likewise proposed a punishment as became his origin.   But thy fourth vezír is of gentle birth; compassion therefore becomes his origin, so he had compassion on that hapless one, and sought to do good and counselled liberation.  O king, all things return to their origin.” [FN#505]  And he gave the king much counsel, and at last said, “Lo, I am Khizr,” and vanished. [FN#506]

The discovery of the king’s illegitimate birth, which occurs in so many versions, has its parallels in the story of the Nephew of Hippocrates in the “Seven Wise Masters,” and the Lady’s 2nd Story in Mr. Gibb’s translation of the ”Forty Vezírs.”  The extraordinary sensitiveness of the third young Bráhman, in the Vetála story, whose side was scratched by a hair that was under the seventh of the mattresses on which he lay, Rohde (says Tawney), in his “Greichische Novellistik,” p. 62, compares with a story told by Aelian of the Sybarite Smindyrides, who slept on a bed of rose-leaves and got up in the morning covered with blisters.  He also quotes from the Chronicle of Tabari a story of a princess who was made to bleed by a rose-leaf lying in her bed. [FN#507]

The eleventh recital of the Vetála is about a king’s three sensitive wives:  As one of the queens was playfully pulling the hair of the king, a blue lotus leaped from her ear and fell on her lap; immediately a would was produced on the front of her thigh by the blow, and the delicate princess exclaimed, “Oh! oh!” and fainted. At night, the second retired with the king to an apartment on the roof of the palace exposed to the rays of the moon, which fell on the body of the queen, who was sleeping by the king’s side, where it was exposed by her garment blowing aside; immediately she woke up, exclaiming, “Alas! I am burnt,” and rose up from the bed rubbing her limbs.  The king woke up in a state of alarm, crying out, “What is the meaning of this?”  then he got up and saw that blisters had been produced on the queen’s body.  In the meanwhile the king’s third wife heard of it and left her palace to come to him.  And when she got into the open air, she heard distinctly, as the night was still, the sound of a pestle pounding in a distant house.  The moment the gazelle-eyed one heard it, she said, “Alas! I am killed,” and she sat down on the path, shaking her hands in an agony of pain.  Then the girl turned back, and was conducted by her attendants to her own chamber, where she fell on her bed and groaned.  And when her weeping attendants examined her, they saw that her hands were covered with bruises, and looked like lotuses upon which black beetles had settled.

To this piteous tale of the three very sensitive queens Tawney appends the following note:  Rohde, in his “Greichische Novellistik,” p. 62, compares with this a story told by TimFus, of a Sybarite who saw a husbandman hoeing a field, and contracted rupture from it.  Another Sybarite, to whom he told the tale of his sad mishap, got ear-ache from hearing it.  Oesterley, in his German translation of the Baitál Pachísí, points out that Grimm, in his “Kindermärchen,” iii. p. 238, quotes a similar incident from the travels of the Three sons of Giaffar:  out of four princesses, one faints because a rose-twig is thrown into her face among some roses; a second shuts her eyes in order not to see the statue of a man; a third says, “Go away; the hairs in your fur cloak run into me;” and the fourth covers her face, fearing that some of the fish in a tank may belong to the male sex.  He also quotes a striking parallel from the “Elites des contes du Sieur d’Onville:” Four ladies dispute as to which of them is the most delicate.  One has been lame for three months owing to a rose-leaf having fallen on her foot; another has had three ribs broken by a sheet in her bed having been crumpled; a third has held her head on one side for six weeks owing to one half of her head having three more hairs on it than the other; a fourth has broken a blood-vessel by a slight movement, and the rupture cannot be healed without breaking the whole limb.[Poor things!]


In the Persian tales of “The Thousand and One Days,” a young prince entered his father’s treasury one day, and saw there a little cedar chest “set with pearls, diamonds, emeralds, and topazes;” on opening it (for the key was in the lock) he beheld the picture of an exceedingly beautiful woman, with whom he immediately fell in love.  Ascertaining the name of the lady from an inscription on the back of the portrait, he set off with a companion to discover her, and having been told by an old man at Baghdad that her father at one reigned in Ceylon, he continued his journey thither, encountering many unheard-of adventures by the way.  Ultimately he is informed that the lady with whose portrait he had become enamoured was one of the favourites of King Solomon.  One should suppose that his would have effectually cured the love-sick prince; but no:  he “could never banish her sweet image from his heart.” [FN#508]

Two instances of falling in love with the picture of a pretty woman occur in the “Kathá Sarít Ságara.”  In Book ix., chap. 51, a painter shows King Prithvirúpa the “counterfeit presentment” of the beauteous Princess Rapalatá, and “as the king gazed on it his eye was drowned in that sea of beauty her person, so that he could not draw it out again.  For the king, whose longing was excessive, could not be satisfied with devouring her form, which poured forth a stream of the nectar of beauty, as the partridge cannot be satisfied with devouring the moonlight.”  In Book xii., chap. 100, a female ascetic shows a wandering prince the portrait of the Princess Mandáravatí, “and Sundarasena when he beheld that maiden, who, though she was present there only in a picture, seemed to be of romantic beauty and like a flowing forth of joy, immediately felt as if he had been pierced with the arrows of the god of the flowery bow [i.e. Káma].”  In chapter 35 of Scott’s translation of the “Bahár-i-Dánish,” Prince Ferokh-Faul opens a volume, “which he had scarcely done when the fatal portrait of the fair princess who, the astrologers had foretold, was to occasion him so many perils, presented itself to his view.  He instantly fainted, when the slave, alarmed, conveyed intelligence of his condition to the sultan, and related the unhappy cause of the disorder.”  In Gomberville’s romances of Polexandre, the African prince, Abd-el-Malik, falls in love with the portrait of Alcidiana, and similar incidents occur in the romance of Agesilaus of Colchos and in the Story of the Seven Wazírs (vol. vi.); but why multiply instances?  Nothing is more common in Asiatic fictions.


In addition to the versions of this amusing story referred to on p. 157--all of which will be found in the second volume of my work on “Popular Tales and Fictions,” pp. 212-228--there is yet another in a Persian story-book, of unknown date, entitled, “Shamsa ú Kuhkuha,” written by Mirza Berkhorder Turkman, of which an account, together with specimens, is given in a recently-published little book (Quaritch), “Persian Portraits, a sketch of Persian History, Literature, and Politics,” by Mr. F. F. Arbuthnot, author of “Early Ideas: a Group of Hindoo Stories.”

This version occurs in a tale of three artful wives--or, to employ the story-teller’s own graphic terms, “three whales of the sea of fraud and deceit: three dragons of the nature of thunder and the quickness of lightning; three defamers of honour and reputation; namely, three men-deceiving, lascivious women, each of whom had from the chicanery of her cunning issued the diploma of turmoil to a hundred cities and countries, and in the arts of fraud they accounted Satan as an admiring spectator in the theatre of their stratagems. [FN#509]  One of them was sitting in the court of justice of the kazi’s embrace; the second was the precious gem of the bazaar-master’s diadem of compliance; and the third was the beazle and ornament of the signet-ring of the life and soul of the superintendent of police.  They were constantly entrapping the fawns of the prairie of deceit within the grasp of cunning, and plundered the wares of the caravans of tranquillity of hearts of strangers and acquaintances, by means of the edge of the scimitar of fraud.  One day this trefoil of roguery met at the public bath, and, according to their homogeneous nature they intermingled as intimately as the comb with the hair; they tucked up their garment of amity to the waist of union, entered the tank of agreement, seated themselves in the hot-house of love, and poured from the dish of folly, by means of the key of hypocrisy, the water of profusion upon the head of intercourse; they rubbed with the brush of familiarity and the soap of affection the stains of jealousies from each other’s limbs.  After a while, when they had brought the pot of concord to boil by the fire of mutual laudation, they warmed the bath of association with the breeze of kindness, and came out.  In the dressing-room all three of them happened simultaneously to find a ring, the gem of which surpassed the imagination of the jeweler of destiny, and the like of which he had never beheld in the storehouse of possibility.  In short, these worthy ladies contended with each other for possession of the ring, until at length the mother of the bathman came forward and proposed that they should entrust the ring to her in the meanwhile, and it should be the prize of the one who most cleverly deceived and befooled her husband, to which they all agreed, and then departed for their respective domiciles. [FN#510]

Mr. Arbuthnot’s limits pertained only of abstracts of the tricks played upon their husbands by the three ladies--which the story-teller gives at great length--and that of the kazi’s wife is as follows:

The kazi’s wife knows that a certain carpenter, who lived close to her, was very much in love with her.  She sends her maid to him with a message to say that the flame of his love had taken effect upon her heart, and that he must make an underground passage between his house and her dwelling, so that they might communicate with each other freely by means of the mine.  The carpenter digs the passage, and the lady pays him a visit, and says to him, “To-morrow I shall come here, and you must bring the kazi to marry me to you.”  The next day the kazi goes to his office; the lady goes to the carpenter’s house, and send him to bring her husband, the kazi, to marry them.  The carpenter fetches him, and, as the kazi hopes for a good present, he comes willingly enough, but is much surprised at the extreme likeness between the bride and his own wife.  The more he looks at her, the more he is in doubt; and at last, offering an excuse to fetch something, he rushes off to his own house, but is forestalled by his souse, who had gone thither by the passage, and on his arrival is lying on her bed.  The kazi makes some excuses for his sudden entry into her room, and, after some words, goes back to the carpenter’s house; but his wife had preceded him, and is sitting in her place.  Again he begins the ceremony, but is attracted by a black mole on the corner of the bride’s lip, which he could have sworn was the same as that possessed by his wife.  Making more excuses, and in spite of the remonstrances of the carpenter, he hurries back to his house once more; but his wife had again got there before him, and he finds her reading a book, and much astonished at his second visit.  She suggests that he is mad, and he admits that his conduct is curious, and returns to the carpenter’s house to complete the ceremony.  This is again frequently interrupted, but finally he marries his own wife to the carpenter, and, having behaved in such an extraordinary manner throughout, is sent off to a lunatic asylum.

For the tricks of the two other ladies, and for many other equally diverting tales, I refer the reader to Mr. Arbuthnot’s pleasing and instructive little book, which is indeed an admirable epitome of the history and literature of Persia, and one which was greatly wanted in these days, when most men, “like the dogs in Egypt for fear of the crocodiles, must drink of the waters of information as they run, in dread of the old enemy Time.”

I have discussed the question of the genealogy of this tale elsewhere, but, after a somewhat more minute comparative analysis of the several versions, am disposed to modify the opinion which I then entertained.  I think we must consider as the direct or indirect source of the versions and variants the “Miles Gloriosus” of Plautus, the plot of which, it is stated in the prologue to the second act, was taken from a Greek play.  It is, however, not very clear whether Berni adapted his story from Plautus or the “Seven Wise Masters”; probably from the former, since in both the lady is represented, to the captain and the cuckold, as a twin sister, while in the S. W. M. the crafty knight pretends that she is his leman, come from Hungary with tidings that he may now with safety return home.  On the other hand, in the S. W. M., as in Plautus, the lovers make their escape by sea, an incident which Berni has altered to a journey by land--no doubt, in order to introduce further adventures for the development of his main plot.  But then we find a point of resemblance between Berni and the S. W. M., in the incident of the cuckold accompanying the lovers part of their way--in the latter to the sea-shore; while in Plautus the deceived captain remains at home to prosecute an amour and get a thrashing for his reward (in Plautus, instead of a wife, it is the captain’s slave-girl).  It is curious that amidst all the masquerade of the Arabian story the cuckold’s wife also personates her supposititious twin-sister, as in Plautus and Berni.  In Plautus the houses of the lover and the captain adjoin, as is also the case in the modern Italian and Sicilian versions; while in Berni, the S. W. M., the Arabian, and the Persian story cited in this note they are at some distance.  With these resemblances and variations it is not easy to say which version was derived from another.  Evidently the Arabian story has been deliberately modified by the compiler, and he has, I think, considerably improved upon the original: the ludicrous perplexity of the poor fuller when he awakes, to find himself apparently transformed into a Turkish trooper, recalls the nursery rhyme of the little woman “who went to market her eggs for to sell,” and falling asleep on the king’s highway a pedlar cut off her petticoats up to the knees, and when she awoke and saw her condition she exclaimed, “Lawk-a-mercy me, this is none of I!” and so on.  And not less diverting is the pelting the blockhead receives from his brother fullers--altogether, a capital story.


The “curious” reader will find European and Asiatic versions of this amusing story in “Originals and Analogues of some of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.” Published for the Chaucer Society, pp. 177-188 and (in a paper contrived by me: “The Enchanted Tree”) p. 341-364.


Under the title of “The Robbers and the Treasure-Trove” I have brought together many European and Asiatic versions of this wide-spread tale in “Chaucer Analogues,” pp. 415-436.


A similar but much shorter story is found in Gladwin's "Persian Moonshee," and storybooks in several of the Indian vernaculars which have been rendered into English:

A miser said to a friend, "I have now a thousand rupees, which I will bury out of the city, and I will not tell the secret to any one besides yourself."  They went out of the city together, and buried the money under a tree.  Some days after the miser went alone to the tree and found no signs of his money.  He said to himself, "Excepting that friend, no other has taken it away, but if I question him he will never confess."  He therefore went to his (the friend's) house and said, "A great deal of money is come into my hands, which I want to put in the same place; if you will come to-morrow, we will go together."  The friend, by coveting this large sum, replaced the former money, and the miser next day went there alone and found it.  He was delighted with his own contrivance, and never again placed any confidence in friends.

One should suppose a miser the last person to confide the secret of his wealth to any one; but the Italian versions bear a closer resemblance to the Arabian story.  From No. 74 of the "Cento Novelle Antiche" Sacchetti, who was born in 1335 and is ranked by Crescimbini as next to Boccaccio, adapted his 198th novella, which is a most pleasing version of the Asiatic story:


A blind man of Orvieto, of the name of Cola, hit upon a device to recover a hundred florins he had been cheated of, which showed he was possessed of all the eyes of Argus, though he had unluckily lost his own.  And this he did without wasting a farthing either upon law or arbitration, by sheer dexterity, for he had formerly been a barber, and accustomed to shave very close, having then all his eyes about him, which had been now closed for about thirty years.  Alms seemed then the only resource to which he could betake himself, and such was the surprising progress he in a short time made in his new trade that he counted a hundred florins in his purse, which he secretly carried about him until he could find a safer place.  His gains far surpassed anything he had realised with his razor and scissors; indeed, they increased so fast that he no longer knew where to bestow them, until one morning happening to remain the last, as he believed, in the church, he thought of depositing his purse of a hundred florins under a loose tile in the floor behind the door, knowing the situation of the place perfectly well.  After listening some time without hearing a foot stirring, he very cautiously laid it in the spot; but unluckily there remained a certain Juccio Pezzichernolo, offering his adoration before an image of San Giovanni Boccadoro, who happened to see Cola busily engaged behind the door.  He continued his adorations until he saw the blind man depart, when, not in the least suspecting the truth, he approached and searched the place.  He soon found the identical tile, and on removing it with the help of his knife, he found the purse, which he very quietly put into his pocket, replacing the tiles just as they were, and, resolving to say nothing about it, he went home.

At the end of three days the blind mendicant, desirous of inspecting his treasure, took a quiet time for visiting the place, and removing the tile searched a long while in great perturbation, but all vain, to find his beloved purse.  At last, replacing things just as they were, he was compelled to return in no very enviable state of mind to his dwelling, and there meditating on his loss, the harvest of the toil of so many days, by dint of intense thinking a bright thought struck him (as frequently happens by cogitating in the dark), how he had yet a kind of chance of redeeming his lost spoils.  Accordingly in the morning he called his young guide, a lad about nine years old, saying, "My son, lead me to church," and before setting out he tutored him how he was to behave, seating himself at his side before the entrance, and particularly remarking every person who should enter into the church.  "Now, if you happen to see any one who takes particular notice of me, and who either laughs or makes any sign, be sure you observe it and tell me."  The boy promised he would; and they proceeded accordingly and took their station before the church

When the dinner-hour arrived, the father and son prepared to leave the place, the former inquiring by the way whether his son had observed any one looking hard at him as he passed along. "That I did," answered the lad, "but only one, and he laughed as he went past us.  I do not know his name, but he is strongly marked with the small-pox and lives somewhere near the Frati Minori."  "Do you think, my dear lad," said his father, "that you could take me to his shop, and tell me when you see him there?"  "To be sure I could," said the lad.  "Then come, let us lose no time," replied the father, "and when we are there tell me, and while I speak to him you can step on one side and wait for me."  So the sharp little fellow led him along the way until he reached a cheesemonger's stall, when he acquainted his father, and brought him close to it.  No sooner did the blind man hear him speaking with his customers than he recognised him for the same Juccio with whom he had formerly been acquainted during his days of light.  When the coast was a little clear, our blind hero entreated some moments' conversation, and Juccio, half suspecting the occasion took him on one side into a little room, saying, "Cola, friend, what good news?"  "Why," said Cola, "I am come to consult you, in great hopes you will be of use to me.  You know it is a long time since I lost my sight, and being in a destitute condition, I was compelled to earn my subsistence by begging alms.  Now, by the grace of God, and with the help of you and of other good people of Orvieto, I have saved a sum of two hundred florins, one hundred of which I have deposited in a safe place, and the other is in the hands of my relations, which I expect to receive with interest in the course of a week.  Now if you would consent to receive, and to employ for me to the best advantage, the whole sum of two hundred florins it would be doing me a great kindness, for there is no one besides in all Orvieto in whom I dare to confide; nor do I like to be at the expense of paying a notary for doing business which we can as well transact ourselves.  Only I wish you would say nothing about it, but receive the two hundred florins from me to employ as you think best.  Say not a word about it, for there would be an end of my calling were it known I had received so large a sum in alms."  Here the blind mendicant stopped; and the sly Juccio, imagining he might thus become master of the entire sum, said he should be very happy to serve him in every way he could and would return an answer the next morning as to the best way of laying out the money.  Cola then took his leave, while Juccio, going directly for the purse, deposited it in its old place being in full expectation of soon receiving it again with the addition of the other hundred, as it was clear that Cola had not yet missed the money.  The cunning old mendicant on his part expected that he would do no less, and trusting that his plot might have succeeded, he set out the very same day to the church, and had the delight, on removing the tile, to find his purse really there.  Seizing upon it with the utmost eagerness, he concealed it under his clothes, and placing the tiles exactly in the same position, he hastened home whistling, troubling himself very little about his appointment of the next day.

The sly thief Juccio set out accordingly the next morning to see his friend Cola, and actually met him on the road.  "Whither are you going?" inquired Juccio.  "I was going," said Cola, "to your house."  The former, then taking the blind man aside, said, "I am resolved to do what you ask; and since you are pleased to confide in me, I will tell you of a plan that I have in hand for laying out your money to advantage.  If you will put the two hundred florins into my possession, I will make a purchase in cheese and salt meat, a speculation which cannot fail to turn to good account."  "Thank you," quoth Cola, "I am going to-day for the other hundred, which I mean to bring, and when you have got them both, you can do with them what you think proper."  Juccio said, "Then let me have them soon, for I think I can secure this bargain; and as the soldiers are come into the town, who are fond of these articles, I think it cannot fail to answer; so go, and Heaven speed you."  And Cola went, but with very different intentions from those imagined by his friend--Cola being now clear-sighted, and Juccio truly blind.  The next day Cola called on his friend with very downcast and melancholy looks, and when Juccio bade him good day, he said, "I wish from my soul it were a good, or even a middling, day for me."  "Why, what is the matter?"  "The matter?" echoed Cola; "why, it is all over with me: some rascal has stolen a hundred florins from the place where they were hidden, and I cannot recover a penny from my relations, so that I may eat my fingers off or anything I have to expect."  Juccio replied, "This is like all the rest of my speculations.  I have invariably lost where I expected to make a good hit.  What I shall do I know not, for if the person should choose to keep me to the agreement I made for you, I shall be in a pretty dilemma indeed."  "Yet," said Cola, "I think my condition is still worse than yours.  I shall be sadly distressed and shall have to amass afresh capital, which will take me ever so long. And when I have got it, I will take care not to conceal it in a hole in the floor, or trust it, Juccio, into any friend's hands."  "But," said Juccio, "if we could contrive to recover what is owing by your relations, we might still make some pretty profit of it, I doubt not."  For he thought, if he could only get hold of the hundred he had returned it would still be something in his way.  "Why," said Cola, "to tell the truth, if I were to proceed against my relations I believe I might get it; but such a thing would ruin my business, my dear Juccio, for ever:  the world would know I was worth money, and I should get no more money from the world; so I fear I shall hardly be able to profit by your kindness, though I shall always consider myself as much obliged as if I had actually cleared a large sum.  Moreover, I am going to teach another blind man my profession, and if we have luck you shall see me again, and we can venture a speculation together."  So far the wily mendicant, to whom Juccio said, "Well, go and try to get money soon, and bring it; you know where to find me, but look sharp about you and the Lord speed you; farewell."  "Farewell," said Cola; "and I am well rid of thee," he whispered to himself, and going upon his way, in a short time he doubled his capital; but he no longer went near his friend Juccio to know how he should invest it.  He had great diversion in telling the story to his companions during their feasts, always concluding, "By St. Lucia! Juccio is the blinder man of the two:  he thought it was a bold stroke to risk his hundred to double the amount."

For my own part, I think the blind must possess a more acute intellect than other people, inasmuch as the light, exhibiting such a variety of objects to view, is apt to distract the attention, of which many examples might be adduced.  For instance, two gentlemen may be conversing together on some matter of business, and in the middle of a sentence a fine woman happens to pass by, and they will suddenly stop, gazing after her; or a fine equipage or any other object is enough to turn the current of their thoughts.  And then we are obliged to recollect ourselves, saying, "Where was I?" "What was it that I was observing?"--a thing which never occurs to a blind man. The philosopher Democritus very properly on this account knocked his eyes out in order to catch objects in a juster light with his mind's eye.

It is impossible to describe Juccio's vexation on going to church and finding the florins were gone.  His regret was far greater than if he had actually lost a hundred of his own; as is known to be the case with all inveterate rogues, half of whose pleasure consists in depriving others of their lawful property.

There are many analogous stories, one of which is the well-known tale of the merchant who, before going on a journey, deposited with a dervish 1,000 sequins, which he thought it prudent to reserve in case of accidents. When he returned and requested his deposit, the dervish flatly denied that he ever had any of his money.  Upon this the merchant went and laid his case before the kazi, who advised him to return to the dervish and speak pleasantly to him, which he does, but receives nothing but abuse.  He informed the kazi of this, and was told not to go near the dervish for the present, but to be at ease for he should have his money next day.  The kazi then sent for the dervish, and after entertaining him sumptuously, told him that, for certain reasons, he was desirous of removing a considerable sum of money from his house; that he knew of no person in whom he could confide so much as himself; and that if he would come the following evening at a late hour, he should have the precious deposit.  On hearing this, the dervish expressed his gratification that so much confidence should be placed in his integrity, and agreed to take charge of the treasure.  Next day the merchant returned to the kazi, who bade him go back to the dervish and demand his money once more, and should he refuse, threaten to complain to the kazi.  The result may be readily guessed: no sooner did the merchant mention the kazi than the rascally dervish said, "My good friend, what need is there to complain to the kazi?  Here is your money; it was only a little joke on my part."  But in the evening, when he went to receive the kazi's pretended deposit, he experienced the truth of the saw, that "covetousness sews up the eyes of cunning."

A variant of this found in the continental "Gesta Romanorum" (ch. cxviii. of Swan's translation), in which a knight deposits ten talents with a respectable old man, who when called upon to refund the money denies all knowledge of it.  By the advice of an old woman the knight has ten chests made, and employs a person to take them to the old man and represent them as containing treasure; and while one of them is being carried into his house the knight enters and in the stranger's presence demands his money, which is at once delivered to him.

In Mr. Edward Rehatsek's translated selections from the Persian story-book "Shamsa ú Kuhkuha" (see ante, p. 237), printed at Bombay in 1871, under the title of "Amusing Stories," there is a tale (No. xviii.) which also bears some resemblance to that of the Melancholist and the Sharper; and as Mr. Rehatsek's little work is exceedingly scarce, I give it in extenso as follows:

There was in Damascus a man of the name of Zayn el-Arab, with the honey of whose life the poison of hardships was always mixed.  Day and night he hastened like the breeze from north to south in the world of exertion, and he was burning brightly like straw, from his endeavours in the oven of acquisition in order to gain a loaf of bread and feed his family.  In course of time, however, he succeeded in accumulating a considerable sum of money, but as he had tasted the bitter poison of destitution, and had for a very long time earned the heavy load of poverty upon his back, and fearing to lose his property by the chameleon-like changes of fortune, he took up his money on a certain night, carried it out of the city, and buried it under a tree.  After some time had passed be began sorely to miss the presence of his treasure, and betook himself to the tree to refresh his eyes with the sight of it.  But when he dug up the ground at the foot of the tree he discovered that his soul-exhilarating deposit was refreshing the palate of some one else.  The morning of his prosperity was suddenly changed into the evening of bitterness and disappointment.  He was perplexed to what friend to confide his secret, and to what remedy to fly for the recovery of his treasure.  The lancet of grief had pierced the liver of his peace, and the huntsman of distress had tied up the wings and feet of the bird of his serenity.  One day he went on some business to a learned and wise man of the city with whom he was on a footing of intimacy.  This man said to him, "It is some time since I perceived the glade of your circumstances to have been destroyed by the burning coals of restlessness, and a sad change to have taken place in your health.  I do not know the reason, nor what thorn of misfortune has pierced the foot of your heart, nor what hardship has dawned from the east of your mind."  Zayn el-Arab wept tears of sadness and said, "O thou standard coin from the mint of love! the treachery of misfortune has brought a strange accident upon me, and the bow of destiny has let fly an unpropitious arrow upon my feeble target.  I have a heavy heart and great sorrow, and were I to reveal it to you perhaps it would be of no use and would plunge you also into grief."  The learned man said, "Since the hearts of intimate friends are like looking-glasses and are receiving the figures of mutual secrets, it is at all times necessary that they should communicate to each other any difficulties which they have fallen into, that they may remove them by taking in common those steps which prudence and foresight should recommend."  Zayn el-Arab replied, "Dear friend, I had some gold, and fearing lest it should be stolen, I carried it to such and such a place and buried it under a tree, and when I again visited the place, I perceived the garment of my beloved Joseph to be sprinkled with the blood of the wolf of deception."  The learned man said, "This is a grave accident, and it will be difficult to get on the track of your gold.  Perhaps some one saw you bury it:  he who has taken it will have to give an account of it in the next world, for God is omniscient.  Give me ten days' delay, that I may study the book of expedients and stratagems, when mayhap somewhat will occur to me."

That knowing man sat down for ten days in the school of meditation, and how much so ever he turned over the leaves of the volume of his mind from the preface to the epilogue, he could hit upon no plan.  On the tenth day they again met in the street, and he said to Zayn el-Arab, "Although the diver of my mind has plunged deeply and searched diligently in this deep sea, he has been unable to seize the precious pearl of a wise plan of operation:  may God recompense you from the stores of His hidden treasury!"  They were conversing in this way when a lunatic met them and said, "Well, my boys, what secret- mongering have you got between you?"  The learned man said to Zayn el-Arab, "Come, let us relate our case to this crazy fellow, to see the flower of the plant that may bloom from his mind."  Zayn el-Arab replied, "Dear friend, you, with all your knowledge, cannot devise anything during ten days:  what information are we likely to gain from a poor lunatic who does not know whether it is now day or night?"  The learned man said, "There is no telling what he may say to us. But you know that the most foolish as well as the most wise have ideas, and a sentence uttered at random has sometimes furnished a clue by which the desired object may be attained."  Meanwhile a little boy also came up, and perceiving the lunatic stopped to see his tricks.  The two friends explained their case to the lunatic, who then seemed immersed in thought for some time, after which he said, "He who took the root of that tree for a medicine also took the gold," and having thus spoken, he turned his back upon them and went his way.  They consulted with each other what indication this remark might furnish, when the little boy who had overheard the conversation, asked what kind of tree it was.  Zayn el-Arab replied that it was a jujube tree.  The boy said, "This is an easy matter: you ought to inquire of all the doctors of this town for whom a medicine has been prescribed of the roots of this tree."  They greatly admired the boy's acuteness and also of the lunatic's lucky thought. [FN#511]  The learned man was well acquainted with all the physicians of the city and made his enquiries, till he met with one who informed him that about twenty days ago he had prescribed for a merchant of the name of Khoja Semender, who suffered from asthma, and that one of the remedies was the root of that jujube tree.  The learned man soon discovered the merchant's house, found him enjoying excellent health, and said to him, "Ah Khoja, all the goods of this world ought to be surrendered to procure health.  By the blessing of God, you have recovered your health, and you ought to give up what you found at the root of that tree, because the owner of it is a worthy man and possesses nothing else."  The honest merchant answered, "It is true, I have found it, and it is with me.  If you will describe it I will deliver it into your hands."  The exact sum being stated, the merchant at once delivered up the gold.

In the "Kathá Sarit Ságara," Book vi. ch. 33, we have probably the original of this last story:  A wealthy merchant provided a Bráhman with a lodging near his own house, and every day gave him a large quantity of unhusked rice and other presents and in course of time he received like gifts from other great merchants.  In this way the miserly fellow gradually accumulated a thousand dínárs, and going into the forest he dug a hole and buried it in the ground, and he went daily to carefully examine the spot.  One day, however, he discovered that his hoard had been stolen, and he went to his friend the merchant near whose house he lived, and, weeping bitterly, told him of his loss, and that he had resolved to go to a holy bathing-place and there starve himself to death.  The merchant tried to console him and dissuade him from his resolution, saying, "Bráhman, why do you long to die for the loss of your wealth?  Wealth, like an unseasonable cloud, suddenly comes and goes."  But the Bráhman would not abandon his fixed determination to commit suicide, for wealth is dearer to the miser than life itself.  When he was about to depart for the holy place, the king, having heard of it, came and asked him, "Bráhman, do you know of any mark by which you can distinguish the place where you buried your dínárs?"  He replied, "There is a small tree in the wood, at the foot of which I buried that money."  Then said the king, "I will find the money and give it back to you, or I will give it you from my own treasury;--do not commit suicide, Bráhman."

When the king returned to his palace, he pretended to have a headache, and summoned all the physicians in the city by proclamation with beat of drum.  And he took aside every one of them singly and questioned them privately, saying, "What patients have you, and what medicines have you prescribed for each?"  And they thereupon, one by one, answered the king's questions.  At length a physician said, "The merchant Mátridatta has been out of sorts, O king, and this is the second day I have prescribed for him nágabalá (the plant Uraria Lagopodioides)."  Then the king sent for the merchant, and said to him, "Tell me, who fetched you the nágabalá?" The merchant replied, "My servant, your highness."  On hearing this, the king at once summoned the servant and said to him, "Give up that treasure belonging to a Bráhman, consisting of a store of dínárs, which you found when you were digging at the foot of the tree for nágabalá."  When the king said this to him the servant was frightened, and confessed immediately, and bringing the money left it there.  Then the king summoned the Bráhman and gave him, who had been fasting meanwhile, the dínárs, lost and found again, like a second soul external to his body.  Thus did the king by his wisdom recover to the Bráhman his wealth which had been taken away from the root of the tree, knowing that that simple grew in such spots.


This is one of three Arabian variants of Chaucer's Man of Law's Tale (the Story of Constance), of which there are numerous versions--see my paper entitled "The Innocent Persecuted Wife," pp. 365-414 of "Originals and Analogues of some of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales."


Somewhat resembling his, but much more elaborate, is the amusing story of Ahmed the Cobbler, in Sir John Malcolm's "Sketches of Persia," ch. xx., the original of which is probably found in the tale of Harisarman, book vi. ch. 30, of the "Kathá Sarit Ságara," and it has many European variants, such as the German story of Doctor Allwissend, in Grimm's collection, and that of the Charcoal Burner in Sir George Dasent's "Tales from the Fjeld.--According to the Persian story, Ahmed the Cobbler had a young and pretty wife, of whom he was very fond. She was ever forming grand schemes of riches and splendour, and was firmly persuaded that she was destined to great fortune. It happened one evening, while in this frame of mind, that she went to the public baths, where she saw a lady retiring dressed in a magnificent robe, covered with jewels, and surrounded by slaves. This was the very condition she had always longed for, and she eagerly inquired the name of the happy person who had so many attendants and such fine jewels. She learned it was the wife of the chief astrologer to the king. With this information she returned home. Ahmed met her at the door, but was received with a frown, nor could all his caresses obtain a smile or a word; for several hours she continued silent, and in apparent misery, at length she said, "Cease your caresses, unless you are ready to give me a proof that you do really and sincerely love me." "What proof of love," exclaimed poor Ahmed, "can you desire that I will not give?" "Give over cobbling, it is a vile, low trade, and never yields more than ten or twelve dínárs a day. Turn astrologer; your fortune will be made, and I shall have all I wish and be happy." "Astrologer!" cried Ahmed--"astrologer! Have you forgotten who I am--a cobbler, without any learning--that you want me to engage in a profession which requires so much skill and knowledge?" "I neither think nor care about your qualifications," said the enraged wife; "all I know is that if you do not turn astrologer immediately, I will be divorced from you to-morrow." The cobbler remonstrated, but in vain. The figure of the astrologer's wife, with her jewels and her slaves, took complete possession of her imagination. All night it haunted her: she dreamt of nothing else, and on awakening declared that she would leave the house if her husband did not comply with her wishes. What could poor Ahmed do? He was no astrologer, but he was dotingly fond of his wife, and he could not bear the idea of losing her. He promised to obey, and having sold his little stock, bought an astrolabe, an astronomical almanac, and a table of the twelve signs of the zodiac. Furnished with these, he went to the marketplace, crying, "I am an astrologer! I know the sun, and the moon, and the stars, and the twelve signs of the zodiac; I can calculate nativities; I can foretell everything that is to happen." No man was better known than Ahmed the Cobbler. A crowd soon gathered round him. "What, friend Ahmed," said one, "have you worked till your head is turned?" "Are you tired of looking down at your last," cried another, "that you are now looking up at the stars?" These and a thousand other jokes assailed the ears of the poor cobbler, who notwithstanding continued to exclaim that he was an astrologer, having resolved on doing what he could to please his beautiful wife.

It so happened that the king's jeweller was passing by. He was in great distress, having lost the richest ruby belonging to the king. Every search had been made to recover this inestimable jewel, but to no purpose; and as the jeweller knew he could no longer conceal its loss from the king, he looked forward to death as inevitable. In this hopeless state, while wandering about the town, he reached the crowd around Ahmed, and asked what was the matter. "Don't you know Ahmed the Cobbler?" said one of the bystanders, laughing. "He has been inspired and is become an astrologer." A drowning man will catch at a broken reed: the jeweller no sooner heard the sound of the word astrologer than he went up to Ahmed, told him what had happened, and said, "If you understand your art, you must be able to discover the king's ruby. Do so, and I will give you two hundred pieces of gold. But if you do not succeed within six hours, I will use my influence at court to have you put to death as an impostor." Poor Ahmed was thunderstruck. He stood long without being able to speak, reflecting on his misfortunes, and grieving, above all, that his wife, whom he so loved, had, by her envy and selfishness, brought him to such a fearful alternative. Full of these sad thoughts, he exclaimed aloud, "O woman! woman! thou art more baneful to the happiness of man than the poisonous dragon of the desert!" Now the lost ruby had been secreted by the jeweller's wife, who, disquieted by those alarms which ever attend guilt, sent one of her female slaves to watch her husband. This slave, on seeing her master speak to the astrologer, drew near; and when she heard Ahmed, after some moments of abstraction, compare a woman to a poisonous dragon, she was satisfied that he must know everything. She ran to her mistress, and, breathless with fear, cried, “You are discovered by a vile astrologer! Before six hours are past the whole story will be known, and you will become infamous, if you are even so fortunate as to escape with life, unless you can find some way of prevailing on him to be merciful." She then related what she had seen and heard; and Ahmed's exclamation carried as complete conviction to the mind of the terrified lady as it had done to that of her slave. The jeweller's wife hastily throwing on her veil, went in search of the dreaded astrologer. When she found him, she erred, "Spare my honour and my life, and I will confess everything." "What can you have to confess to me?" said Ahmed, in amazement. "O nothing--nothing with which you are not already acquainted. You know too well that I stole the king's ruby. I did so to punish my husband, who uses me most cruelly; and I thought by this means to obtain riches for myself and have him put to death. But you, most wonderful man, from whom nothing is hidden, have discovered and defeated my wicked plan. I beg only for mercy, and will do whatever you command me." An angel from heaven could not have brought more consolation to Ahmed than did the jeweller's wife. He assumed all the dignified solemnity that became his new character, and said, "Woman! I know all thou hast done, and it is fortunate for thee that thou hast come to confess thy sin and beg for mercy before it was too late. Return to thy house; put the ruby under the pillow of the couch on which thy husband sleeps; let it be laid on the side farthest from the door, and be satisfied thy guilt shall never be even suspected." The jeweller's wife went home and did as she was instructed. In an hour Ahmed followed her, and told the jeweller he had made his calculations, and found by the aspect of the sun and moon, and by the configuration of the stars, that the ruby was at that moment lying under the pillow of his couch on the side farthest from the door. The jeweller thought Ahmed must be crazy; but as a ray of hope is like a ray from heaven to the wretched, he ran to his couch, and there, to his joy and wonder, found the ruby in the very place described. He came back to Ahmed, embraced him, called him his dearest friend and the preserver of his life, gave him two hundred pieces of gold, declaring that he was the first astrologer of the age.

Ahmed returned home with his lucky gains, and would gladly have resumed his cobbling but his wife insisting on his continuing to practice his new profession, there was no help but to go out again next day and proclaim his astrological accomplishments. By mere chance he is the means of a lady recovering a valuable necklace which she had lost at the bath, and forty chests of gold stolen from the king's treasury, and is finally rewarded with the hand of the king's daughter in marriage.


In the "Indian Antiquary" for June 1886 the Rev. J. Hinton Knowles gives a translation of what he terms a Kashmírí Tale, under the title of "Pride Abased," which, he says, was told him by "a Brahman named Mukund Báyú, who resides at Suthú, Srínagar," and which is an interesting variant of the Wazír Er-Rahwan's second story of the King who lost his Realm and Wealth:


There was once a king who was noted throughout his dominions for daily boasting of his power and riches. His ministers at length became weary of this self-glorification, and one day when he demanded of them, as usual, whether there existed in the whole world another king as powerful as he, they plainly told him that there was such another potentate, upon which he assembled his troops and rode forth at their head, challenging the neighbouring kings to fight with him. Ere long he met with more than his match, for another king came with a great army and utterly defeated him, and took possession of his kingdom. Disguising himself, the humbled king escaped with his wife and two boys, and arriving at the sea shore, found a ship about to sail. The master agreed to take him and his family and land them at the port for which he was bound. But when he beheld the beauty of the queen, he became enamoured of her, and determined to make her his own. The queen was the first to go on board the ship, and the king and his two sons were about to follow, when they were seized by a party of ruffians, hired by the shipmaster, and held back until the vessel had got fairly under way. The queen was distracted on seeing her husband and children left behind, and refused to listen to the master's suit, who, after having tried to win her love for several days without success, resolved to sell her as a slave. Among the passengers was a merchant, who, seeing that the lady would not accept the shipmaster for her husband, thought that if he bought her, he might in time gain her affection. Accordingly he purchased her of the master for a large sum of money, and then told her that he had done so with a view of making her his wife. The lady replied that, although the shipman had no right thus to dispose of her, yet she would consent to marry him at the end of two years, if she did not during that period meet with her husband and their two sons, and to this condition the merchant agreed. In the meanwhile the king, having sorrowfully watched the vessel till it was out of sight, turned back with his two boys, who wept and lamented as they ran beside him. After walking a great distance, he came to a shallow but rapid river, which he wished to cross, and, as there was no boat or bridge, he was obliged to wade through the water. Taking up one of his sons he contrived to reach the other side in safety, and was returning for the other when the force of the current overcame him and he was drowned.

When the two boys noticed that their father had perished, they wept bitterly. Their separation, too, was a further cause for grief. There they stood, one on either side of the river, with no means of reaching each other. They shouted, and ran about hither and thither in their grief, till they had almost wearied themselves into sleep, when a fisherman came past, who, seeing the great distress of the boys, took them into his boat, and asked them who they were, and who were their parents; and they told him all that had happened. When he had heard their story, he said, "You have not a father or mother, and I have not a child. Evidently God has sent you to me. Will you be my own children and learn to fish, and live in my house?" Of course, the poor boys were only too glad to find a friend and shelter. "Come," said the fisherman kindly, leading them out of the boat to a house close by, "I will look after you." The boys followed most happily, and went into the fisherman's house, and when they saw his wife they were still better pleased, for she was very kind to them, and treated them as if they had been her own children. The two boys went to school, and when they had learned all that the master could teach them, they began to help their adoptive father, and in a little while became most expert and diligent young fishermen.

Thus time was passing with them, when it happened that a great fish threw itself on to the bank of the river and could not get back again into the water. Everybody in the village went to see the monstrous fish, and cut a slice of its flesh and took it home. A few people also went from the neighbouring villages, and amongst them was a maker of earthernware. His wife had heard of the great fish and urged him to go and get some of the flesh. So he went, although the hour was late. On his arrival he found that all the people had returned to their homes. The potter had taken an axe with him, thinking that the bones would be so great and strong as to require its use in breaking them. When he struck the first blow a voice came out of the fish, like that of some one in pain, at which the potter was greatly surprised. "Perhaps," thought he, "the fish is possessed by a bhút. [FN#513] I'll try again," whereupon he struck another blow with his axe. Again the voice came forth from the fish, saying, "Woe is me! woe is me!" On hearing this, the potter thought, "Well, this is evidently not a bhút, but the voice of an ordinary man. I'll cut the flesh carefully.  May be that I shall find some poor distressed person." So he began to cut away the flesh carefully, and presently he perceived a man's foot, then the legs appeared, and then the entire body. "Praise be to God," he cried, "the soul is yet in him." He carried the man to his house as fast as he could, and on arriving there did everything in his power to recover him. A large fire was soon got ready, and tea and soup given the man, and great was the joy of the potter and his wife when they saw him reviving. [FN#514] For some months the stranger lived with those good people, and learnt how to make pots and pans and other articles and thereby helped them considerably. Now it happened that the king of that country died and it was the custom of the people to take for their sovereign whomsoever the late king's elephant and hawk should select. And so on the death of the king the royal elephant was driven all over the country, and the hawk was made to fly about, in search of a successor and it came to pass that the person before whom the elephant saluted and on whom the hawk alighted was considered as the divinely-chosen one. Accordingly the elephant and the hawk went about the country, and in the course of their wanderings came by the house of the potter who had so kindly succoured the poor man whom he found in the belly of the monstrous fish; and it chanced that as they passed the place the stranger was standing by the door, and behold, no sooner did the elephant and hawk see him than the one bowed down before him and the other perched on his hand. "Let him be king! let him be king!" shouted the people who were in attendance on the elephant, and they prostrated themselves before the stranger and begged him to accompany them to the palace. [FN#515]

The ministers were glad when they heard the news, and most respectfully welcomed their new king. As soon as the rites and ceremonies necessary for the installation of a king had been observed, his majesty entered on his duties. The first thing he did was to send for the potter and his wife and grant them some land and money. In this and other ways such as just judgments, proper laws, and kindly notices of all who were clever and good, he won for himself the good opinion and affection of his subjects and prospered in consequence thereof. After a few months, however, his health was impaired, and his physicians advised him to take out-door exercise. Accordingly, he alternately rode, hunted and fished. He was especially fond of fishing, and whenever he indulged in this amusement, he was attended by two sons of a fisherman, who were clever and handsome youths.

About this time the merchant who bought the wife of the poor king that was carried away by the rapid river visited that country for purposes of trade. He obtained an interview with the king, and displayed before him all his precious stones and stuffs. The king was much pleased to see such treasures, and asked many questions about them and the countries whence they had been brought. The merchant satisfied the king's curiosity, and then begged permission to trade in that country, under his majesty's protection, which the king readily granted, and ordered that some soldiers should be placed on guard in the merchant's courtyard, and sent the fisherman's two sons to sleep in the premises.

One night those two youths not being able to sleep, the younger asked his brother to tell him a story to pass the time, so he replied, "I will tell you one out of our own experience: Once upon a time there lived a great and wealthy king, who was very proud, and his pride led him to utter ruin and caused him the sorest afflictions.. One day when going about with his army, challenging other kings to fight with him, a great and powerful king appeared and conquered him. He escaped with his wife and two sons to the sea, hoping to find a vessel, by which he and his family might reach a foreign land. After walking several miles they reached the sea-shore and found a ship ready to sail. The master of the vessel took the queen, but the king and his two sons were held back by some men, who had been hired by the master for this purpose, until the ship was under way. The poor king after this walked long and far till he came to a rapid river. As there was no bridge or boat near, he was obliged to wade across. He took one of his boys and got over safely, and was returning for the other when he stumbled over a stone, lost his footing, and was carried down the stream; and he has not been heard of since. A fisherman came along, and, seeing the two boys crying, took them into his boat, and afterwards to his house, and became very fond of them, as did also his wife, and they were like father and mother to them. All this happened a few years ago, and the two boys are generally believed to be the fisherman's own sons. O brother, we are these two boys! And there you have my story."

The tale was so interesting and its conclusion so wonderful that the younger brother was more awake than before. It had also attracted the attention of another. The merchant's promised wife, who happened to be lying awake at the time, and whose room was separated from the warehouse by a very thin partition, overheard all that had been said, and she thought within herself, "Surely these two boys must be my own sons." Presently she was sitting beside them and asking them many questions. Two years or more had made great difference in the persons of both the boys, but there were certain signs which a hundred years could not efface from a mother's memory. These, together with the answers which she elicited from them, assured her that she had found her own sons again. Tears streamed down her face as she embraced them, and revealed to them that she was the queen, their mother, about whom they had just been speaking. She then told them all that had happened to her since she had been parted from them and their poor father, the king; after which she explained that although the merchant was a good man and very wealthy yet she did not like him well enough to become his wife, and proposed a plan for her getting rid of him. "My device," said she, "is to pretend to the merchant that you attempted my honour. I shall affect to be very angry and not give him any peace until he goes to the king and complains against you. Then will the king send for you in great wrath and inquire into this matter. In reply you may say it is all a mistake, for you regard me as your own mother, and in proof of this you will beg the king to summon me into his presence, that I may corroborate what you say. Then I will declare that you are really my own sons, and beseech the king to free me from the merchant and allow me to live with you in any place I may choose for the rest of my days."

The sons agreed to this proposal, and next night, when the merchant was also sleeping in the house, the woman raised a great cry, so that everybody was awakened by the noise. The merchant came and asked the cause of the outcry, and she answered, "The two youths who look after your warehouse have attempted to violate me, so I screamed in order to make them desist." On hearing this the merchant was enraged. He immediately bound the two youths, and, as soon as there was any chance of seeing the king, took them before him preferred his complaint. "What have you to say in your defence?" said the king, addressing the youths; "because, if what this merchant charges against you be true, I will have you at once put to death. Is this the gratitude you manifest for all my kindness and condescension towards you? Say quickly what you have to say." "O king, our benefactor," replied the elder brother, "we are not affrighted by your words and looks, for we are true servants. We have not betrayed your trust in us, but have always tried to fully your wishes to the utmost of our power. The charges brought against us by this merchant are unfounded. We have not attempted to dishonour his wife; we have rather always regarded her as our own mother. May it please your majesty to send for the woman and inquire further into this matter."

The king consented, and the woman was brought before him. "Is it true," he asked her "what the merchant, your affianced husband, witnesses against these two youths?" "O king," she replied, "the youths whom you gave to help the merchant have most carefully tried to carry out your wishes. But the night before last I heard their conversation. The elder was telling the younger a tale, from his own experience, he said. It was a story of a conceited king who had been defeated by another more powerful than he, and obliged to fly with his wife and two children to the sea. There, through the vile trickery of the master of a vessel, the wife was stolen and taken away to far distant lands, where she became engaged to a wealthy trader; while the exiled king and his two sons wandered in another direction, till they came to a river, in which the king was drowned. The two boys were found by a fisherman and brought up as his own sons. These two boys, O king, are before you, and I am their mother, who was taken away and sold to the trader, and who after two days must be married to him. For I promised that if within a certain period I should not meet with my husband and two sons I would be his wife. But I entreat your majesty to free me from this man. I do not wish to marry again, now that I have found my two sons. In order to obtain an audience of your majesty, this trick was arranged with the two youths."

By the time the woman had finished her story the king's face was suffused with tears and he was trembling visibly. When he had somewhat recovered he rose from the throne and going up to the woman and the two youths embraced them long and fervently. "You are my own dear wife and children," he cried. "God has sent you back to me. I, the king, your husband, your father, was not drowned as you supposed; but was swallowed by a great fish and nourished by it for some time, and then the monster threw itself upon the river's bank and I was extricated. A potter and his wife had pity on me and taught me their trade, and I was just beginning to earn my living by making earthen vessels when the late king of this country died, and I was chosen king by the royal elephant and hawk--I who am now standing here." Then his majesty ordered the queen and her two sons to be taken into the inner apartments of the palace, and explained his conduct to the people assembled. The merchant was politely dismissed from the country. And as soon as the two princes were old enough to govern the kingdom, the king committed to them the charge of all affairs, while he retired with his wife to a sequestered spot and passed the rest of his days in peace.

The tale of Sarwar and Nír, "as told by a celebrated Bard from Baraut, in the Merath district," in vol. iii. of Captain R. C. Temple's "Legends of the Panjáb" (pp. 97-125) though differing in form somewhat from the Kashmírí version, yet possesses the leading incidents in common with it, as will be seen from the following abstract:


Ambá the rájá of Púná had a beautiful wife named Amlí and two young sons, Sarwar and Nír. There came to his court one day a fakír. The rájá promised to give him whatsoever he should desire. The fakir required Ambá to give up to him all he possessed, or lose his virtue, and the rájá gave him all, save his wife and two children, receiving in return the blessings of the fakír, Then the rájá and the rání went away; he carrying Sarwar in his bosom, and she with Nír in her lap. For a time they lived on the fruits and roots of the forest. At length the raní gave her husband her (jewelled) bodice to sell in the bazar, in order to procure food. He offered it to Kundan the merchant, who made him sit down and asked him where he had left the raní and why he did not bring her with him. Ambá told him that he had left her with their two boys under the banyan-tree. Then Kundan, leaving Ambá in the shop, went and got a litter, and proceeding to the banyan-tree showed the rání the bodice, and said, "Thy husband wishes thee to come to him." Nothing doubting, the rání entered the litter, and the merchant sent it off to his own house. Leaving the boys in the forest, he returned to Ambá, and said to him that he had not enough money to pay the price of the bodice, so the rájá must take it back. Ambá took the bodice, and coming to the boys, learned from Sarwar how their mother had been carried away in a litter, and he was sorely grieved in his heart, but consoled the children, saying that their mother had gone to her brother's house, and that he would take them to her at once. Placing the two boys on his shoulders he walked along till he came to a river. He set down Nír and carried Sarwar safely across, but as he was going back for the other, behold, an alligator seized him. It was the will of God: what remedy is there against the writing of Fate? The two boys, separated by the river, sat down and wept in their sorrow. In the early morning a washerman was up and spreading his clothes. He heard the two boys weeping and came to see. He had pity on them and brought them together. Then he took them to his house, and washed their faces and gave them food. He put them into a separate house and a Brahman cooked for them and gave them water. [FN#516] He caused the brothers to be taught all kinds of learning, and at the end of twelve years they both set out together to seek their living. They went to the city of Ujjain, and told the rájá their history--how they had left their home and kingdom. The rájá gave them arms and suitable clothing, and appointed them guards over the female apartments. [FN#517] One day a fisherman caught an alligator in his net. When he cut open its body, he found in it Rájá Ambá, alive. [FN#518] So he took him to the rájá of Ujjain, and told how he had found him in the stomach of an alligator. Ambá related his whole history to the rájá; how he gave up all his wealth and his kingdom to a fakír, how his wife had been stolen from him; and how after safely carrying one of his young sons over the river in returning for the other he had been swallowed by an alligator. On hearing of all these misfortunes the rájá of Ujjain pitied him and loved him in his heart: he adopted Ambá as his son; and they lived together twenty years, when the rájá died and Ambá obtained the throne.

Meanwhile the beautiful Rání Amlí, the wife of Ambá, had continued to refuse the merchant Kundan's reiterated proffers of love. At length he said to her, "Many days have passed over thee, live now in my house as my wife." And she replied, "Let me bathe in the Ganges, and then I will dwell in thy house." So he took elephants and horses and lakhs of coin, and set the rání in a litter and started on the journey. When he reached the city of Ujjain, he made a halt and pitched his tents. Then he went before Rájá Ambá and said, "Give me a guard, for the nights are dark. Hitherto I have had much trouble and no ease at nights. I am going to bathe in the Ganges, to give alms and much food to Brahmans. I am come, rájá, to salute thee, bringing many things from my house."

The rájá sent Sarwar and Nír as guards. They watched the tents, and while the rain was falling the two brothers began talking over their sorrows, saying "What can our mother be doing? Whither hath our father gone?" Their mother overheard them talking, and by the will of God she recognised the princes; then she tore open the tent, and cried aloud, "All my property is gone! Who brought this thief to my tent?" The rání had both Sarwar and Nír seized, and brought before Rájá Ambá on the charge of having stolen her property. The rájá held a court, and began to ask questions, saying, "Tell me what hath passed during the night. How much of thy property hath gone, my friend? I will do thee justice, according to thy desire: my heart is grieved that thy goods are gone." Then said the raní, "Be careful of the young elephant! The lightning flashes and the heavy rain is falling. Said Nír, 'Hear, brother Sarwar, who knows whither our mother hath gone?' And I recognised my son; so I made all this disturbance, raja [in order to get access to thee]".  [FN#519] Hearing this, Rájá Ambá rose up and took her to his breast--Amlí and Ambá met again through the mercy of God. The rájá gave orders to have Kundan hanged, saving, "Do it at once, he is a scoundrel; undo him that he may not live." They quickly fetched the executioners and put on the noose; and then was Kundan strangled. The rání dwelt in the palace and all her troubles passed far away. She fulfilled all her obligations, and obtained great happiness through her virtue.


Under the title of "Krisa Gautami" in the collection of "Tibetan Tales from Indian Sources," translated by Mr. Ralston from the German of Von Schiefner, we have what appears to be a very much garbled form of an old Buddhist version of our story. The heroine is married to a young merchant, whose father gives him some arable land in a hill district, where he resides with Krisa Guatami his wife.

When the time came for her to expect her confinement, she obtained leave of her husband to go to her parents' house in order that she might have the attendance of her mother. After her confinement and the naming of the boy, she returned home. When the time of her second confinement drew near, she again expressed to her husband a desire to go to her parents. Her husband set out with her and the boy in a waggon; but by the time they had gone half way she gave birth to a boy. When the husband saw that this was to take place he got out of the waggon, sat under a tree, and fell asleep. While he was completely overcome by slumber a snake bit him and he died. When his wife in her turn alighted from the waggon, and went up to the tree in order to bring him the joyful tidings that a son was born unto him, he, as he had given up the ghost, made no reply. She seized him by the hand and found that he was dead. Then she began to weep. Meantime a thief carried off the oxen. After weeping for a long time, and becoming very mournful, she looked around on every side, pressed the new-born babe to her bosom, took the elder child by the hand, and set out on her way. As a heavy rain had unexpectedly fallen, all the lakes, ponds, and springs were full of water, and the road was flooded by the river. She reflected that if she were to cross the water with both the children at once, she and they might meet with a disaster, and therefore the children had better be taken over separately. So she seated the elder boy on the bank of the river, and took the younger one in her arms, walked across to the other side and laid him down upon the bank. Then she went back for the elder boy. But while she was in the middle of the river, the younger boy was carried off by a jackal. The elder boy thought that his mother was calling him, and sprang into the water. The bank was very steep, so he fell down and was killed. The mother hastened after the jackal, who let the child drop and ran off. When she looked at it, she found that it was dead. So after she had wept over it, she threw it into the water. When she saw that the elder was being carried along by the stream, she became still more distressed. She hastened after him, and found that he was dead. Bereft of both husband and children, she gave way to despair, and sat down alone on the bank, with only the lower part of her body covered. There she listened to the howling of the wind, the roaring of the forest and of the waves, as well as the singing of various kinds of birds. Then wandering to and fro, with sobs and tears of woe, she lamented the loss of her husband and her two children.

She meets with one of her father's domestics, who informs her that her parents and their servants had all been destroyed by a hurricane, and that "he only had escaped" to tell her the sad tidings. After this she is married to a weaver, who ill-uses her, and she escapes from him one night. She attaches herself to some travellers returning from a trading expedition in the north, and the leader of the caravan takes her for his wife. The party are attacked by robbers and the leader is killed. She then becomes the wife of the chief of the robbers, who in his turn finds death at the hands of the king of that country, and she is placed in his zenana.

The king died, and she was buried alive in his tomb, after having had great honour shown to her by the women, the princes, the ministers, and a vast concourse of people. Some men from the north who were wont to rob graves broke into this one also. The dust they raised entered into Krisa Gautami's nostrils, and made her sneeze. The grave-robbers were terrified, thinking that she was a demon (vetála), and they fled; but Krisa Gautami escaped from the grave through the opening which they had made. Conscious of all her troubles, and affected by the want of food, just as a violent storm arose, she went out of her mind. Covered with merely her underclothing, her hands and feet foul and rough, with long locks and pallid complexion, she wandered about until she reached Sravastí. There, at the sight of Bhagavant, she recovered her intellect. Bhagavant ordered Ananda to give her an overrobe, and he taught her the doctrine, and admitted her into the ecclesiastical body, and he appointed her the chief of the Bhikshunís who had embraced discipline. [FN#520]

This remarkable story is one of those which reached Europe long anterior to the Crusades. It is found in the Greek martyr acts, which were probably composed in the eighth century, where it is told of Saint Eustache, who was before his baptism a captain of Trajan, named Placidus, and the same legend reappears, with modifications of the details, in many mediFval collections and forms the subject of several romances. In most versions the motif is similar to that of the story of Job. The following is the outline of the original legend, according to the Greek martyr acts:


As Placidus one day hunted in the forest, the Saviour appeared to him between the antlers of a hart, and converted him. Placidus changed his name into Eustache, when he was baptised with his wife and sons. God announced to him by an angel his future martyrdom. Eustache was afflicted by dreadful calamities, lost all his estate, and was compelled to go abroad as a beggar with his wife and his children. As he went on board a ship bound for Egypt, his wife was seized by the shipmaster and carried off. Soon after, when Eustache was travelling along the shore, his two children were borne off by a lion and a leopard. Eustache then worked for a long time as journeyman, till he was discovered by the emperor Trajan, who had sent out messengers for him, and called him to court. Reappointed captain, Eustache undertook an expedition against the Dacians. During this war he found his wife in a cottage as a gardener--the shipmaster had fallen dead to the ground as he ventured to touch her--and in the same cottage he found again his two sons as soldiers: herdsmen had rescued them from the wild beasts and brought them up. Glad was their meeting again! But as they returned to Rome they were all burnt in a glowing bull of brass by the emperor's order, because they refused to sacrifice to the heathen gods. [FN#521]

The story of Placidus, which forms chapter 110 of the continental “Gesta Romanorum," presents few and unimportant variations from the foregoing: Eustatius came to a river the water of which ran so high that it seemed hazardous to attempt to cross it with both the children at the same time; one therefore he placed upon the bank, and then passed over with the other in his arms, and having laid it on the ground, he returned for the other child. But in the midst of the river, looking back, he beheld a wolf snatch up the child he had just carried over and run with it into the adjoining wood. He turned to rescue it, but at that instant a huge lion approached the other child and disappeared with it. After the loss of his two boys Eustatius journeyed on till he came to a village, where he remained for fifteen years, tending sheep as a hired servant, when he was discovered by Trajan's messengers, and so on.

The story is so differently told in one of the Early English translations of the "Gesta Romanorum" in the Harleian MSS. 7333 (re-edited by Herrtage for the E.E.T. Soc., pp. 87-91) that it is worth while, for purposes of comparison, reproducing it here in full:


Averios was a wise emperour regnyng in the cite of Rome; and he let crye a grete feste, and who so ever wold come to that feste, and gete victory in the tournament, he shuld have his doughter to wyf, after his decease. So there was a doughti knyght, and hardy in armys, and specially in tournament, the which hadde wyf, and two yong children of age of thre yere; and when this knyght had herd this crye, in a clere morowenyng [FN#522] he entred in to a forest, and there he herd a nyghtingale syng upon a tre so swetly, that he herd never so swete a melody afore that tyme. The knyght sette him doun undre the tre, and seid to him self, "Now, Lord, if I myght knowe what this brid [FN#523] shold bemene!" [FN#524] There come an old man, and seid to him, "That thou shalt go within tines thre daies to the emperours feste and thou shalt suffre grete persecution or thou come there, and if thou be constant, and pacient in all thi tribulacion, thy sorowe shal turne the [FN#525] to grete joy, and, ser. this is the interpretacion of his song." When this was seid, the old man vanysshed, and the brid fly away. Tho [FN#526] the knyght had grete merviell; he yede [FN#527] to his wif, and told her the cas. [FN#528] "Ser." quod she, "the will of God be fulfilled, but I counsel! that we go to the feste of the emperour and that ye thynk on the victory in the tournament, by the which we may be avaunced [FN#529] and holpen." [FN#530] When the knyght had made all thing redy, there come a grete fire in the nyght; and brent [FN#531] up all his hous and all his goodis, for which he had grete sorowe in hert, nevertheles, notwithstondyng ail this, he yede forthe toward the see, with his wife, and with his two childryn, and there he hired a ship, to passe over. When thei come to londe, the maister of the shippe asked of the knyght his hire for his passage, for him, and for his wif and for his two childryn. "Dere freed," said the knyght to him, "dere freed, suffre me, and thou shalt have all thyn, for I go now to the feste of the emperour, where I trust to have the victory in turnement, and then thou shalt be wele ypaied." "Nay, by the feith that I owe to the emperour," quod that other, "hit shal not be so, for but if  [FN#532] you pay now, I shal horde thi wif to wed, [FN#533] tyll tyme that I be paled fully my salary." And he seid that for he desired the love of the lady. Tho the knyght profren his two childryn to wed, so that he myght have his wif; and the shipman seid, "Nay, such wordis beth [FN#534] vayn, for," quod he, "or [FN#535] I wol have my mede, or els I wolle horde thi wif." So the knyght lefte his wif with him, and kyst her with bitter teris; and toke the two childryn, scil. oon on his arme, and that othir in his nek, and so he yede forth to the turnement. Aftir, the maister of the shippe wolde have layn by the lady, but she denyed hit, and seid, that she had lever dey [FN#536] than consente therto. So within short tyme, the maister drew to a fer [FN#537] fond, and there he deied; and the lady beggid her brede fro core to core, and knew not in what fond her husbond was duellinge. The knyght was gon toward the paleis, and at the last he come by a depe water, that was impossible to be passid, but [FN#538] hit were in certein tyme, when hit was at the lowist. The knyght sette doun oo [FN#539] child, and bare the othir over the water; and aftir that he come ayen [FN#540] to fecche over the othir, but or [FN#541] he myght come to him, there come a lion, and bare him awey to the forest. The knyght pursued aftir, but he myght not come to the lion, and then he wept bitterly, and yede ayen over the water to the othir child, and or he were ycome, a bere had take the child, and ran therwith to the forest. When the knyght saw that, sore he wepte, and seid, "Alias! that ever I was bore, for now have I lost wif and childryn. O thou brid! thi song that was so swete is yturned in to grete sorowe, and hath ytake away myrth fro my hert." Aftir this he turned toward the feste, and made him redy toward the turnement, and there he bare him so manly, and so doutely in the turnement and that twies or thries, that he wan the victory, and worship, and wynnyng of that day. For the emperour hily avauncid him, and made him maister of his oste, [FN#542] and commaundid that all shuld obey to him, and he encresid, and aros from day to day in honure and richesse. And he went aftirward in a certain day in the cite, [and] he found a precious stone, colourid with thre maner of colours, as in oo partie [FN#542] white, in an othir partie red, and in the thrid partie blak. Anon he went to a lapidary, that was expert in the vertue of stonys; and he seid, that the vertue of thilke [FN#544] stone was this, who so ever berith the stone upon him, his hevynesse [FN#545] shall turne in to joy; and if he be povere, [FN#546] he shal be made riche; and if he hath lost anything, he shall fynde hit ayen with grete joy. And when the knyght herd this, he was glad and blith, and thought in him self, "I am in grete hevynesse and poverte, for I have lost all that I had, and by this stone I shal recovere all ayen, whether hit be so or no, God wote!" Aftir, when he must go to bataile of the emperour he gadrid togidre [FN#547] all the oste, and among them he found two yong knyghtis, semely in harneis, [FN#548] and wele i-shape, the which he hired for to go with him yn bataill of the emperour. And when thei were in the bataill, there was not oon in all the batail that did so doutely, [FN#549] as did tho [FN#550] two knyghtis that he hired; and therof this knyght, maister of the ost, was hily gladid. When the bataill was y-do, [FN#551] tines two yong knyghtes yede to her oste [FN#552] in the cite; and as they sat to-gidir, the elder seid to the yonger, "Dere freed, hit is long sithen [FN#553] that we were felawys, [FN#554] and we have grete grace of God,for in everybatailwe have the victory; and therfore I pray you, telle me of what contre ye were ybore, and in what nacion? For I askid never this of the or now; and if thou wilt telle me soth, [FN#555] I shall telle my kynrede and where I was borne." And when oo felawe spak thus to the othir, a faire lady was loggid [FN#556] in the same ostry; [FN#557] and when she herd the elder knyght speke, she herkened to him; but she knew neither of hem, [FN#558] and yit she was modir of both, and wyf of the maister of the oste, [FN#559] the which also the maister of the shippe withheld for ship hire, but ever God kept her fro synne. Then spake the yonger knyght, "Forsoth, good man, I note [FN#560] who was my fader or who was my modir, ne [FN#561] in what stede [FN#562] I was borne, but I have this wele in mynde that my fader was a knyght, and that he bare me over the water, and left my eldir brothir in the fond; and as he passid over ayen to fecche him, there come a lion, and toke me up but a man of the cite come with houndis, and when he saw him, he made him to leve me with his houndis." [FN#563] "Now sothly," quod that othir, "and in the same maner hit happid vith me. For I was the sone of a knyght, and had only a brothir; and my fader brought me and my brothir, and my modir, over the see toward the emperour; and for my fader had not to pay to the maister of the ship for the fraught, he left my modir to wed; and then my fader toke me with my yong brothir, and brought us on his teak, and in his armys, tyll that we come unto a water, and there left me in a side of the water, and bare over my yong brothir; and or my fader myght come to me ayene, to bare me over, ther come a bere, and bore me to wode; [FN#564] and the people that saw him, make grete cry, and for fere the bere let me falle, and so with thelke [FN#565] poeple I duellid x. yere, and ther I was y-norisshed." When the modir herd tines wordis, she seid, "Withoute douse tines teen my sonys," and ran to hem anon, and fil upon her [FN#566] nekkes, and wepte sore for joy, and seid, "Al dere sonys, I am your modir, that your fader left with the maister of the shippe; and I know wele by your wordis and signes that ye teeth true brethern. But how it is with your fader that I know not, but God, that all seth, [FN#567] yeve [FN#568] me grace to fynd my husbond." And alle that nyght tines thre were in gladnes. On the morow the modir rose up, and the childryn, scil. the knyghtis, folowid; and as thei yede, the maister of the oste mette with hem in the strete and though he were her fader, he knew hem not, but [FN#569] as thei had manli fought the day afore; and therfor he salued hem honurably, and askid of hem what feir lady that was, that come with hem? Anon as his lady herd his voys, and perceyved a certeyn signe in his frount, [FN#570] she knew fully therby that it was her husbond; and therfore she ran to him, and crypt him and kyst him, and for joy fille doun to the erth, as she had be deaf. So aftir this passion, she was reised up; and then the maister seid to her, "Telle me, feir woman, whi thou clippest me, and kyssist me so?" She seid, "I am thi wif, that thou leftist with the maister of the ship; and tines two knyghtis bene your sonys. Loke wele on my front, and see." Then the knyght byheld her were, with a good avisement, [FN#571] and knew wele by diverse tokyns that she was his wif; and anon kyst her, and the sonys eke; and blessid hiely God, that so had visited hem. Tho went he ayen to his fond, with his wif, and with his children, and endid faire his lif.

From the legend of St. Eustache the romances of Sir Isumbras, Octavian, Sir Eglamour of Artois, and Sir Torrent of Portugal are derived. In the last, while the hero is absent aiding the king of Norway with his sword, his wife Desonelle is delivered of twins, and her father, King Calamond, out of his hatred of her, causes her and the babes to be put to sea in a boat; but a favourable wind saves them from destruction, and drives the boat upon the coast of Palestine. As she is wandering aimlessly along the shore, a huge griffin appears and seizes one of her children, and immediately after a leopard drags away the other. With submission she suffers her miserable fate, relying on the help of the Holy Virgin. The king of Jerusalem, just returning from a voyage, happened to find the leopard with the child, which he ordered to be saved and delivered to him. Seeing from the foundling's golden ring that the child was of noble descent, and pitying its helpless state, he took it into his palace, and brought him up as if he were his own son, at his court. The dragon with the other child was seen by a pious hermit, St. Antony, who, though son of the king of Greece, had in his youth forsaken the world. Through his prayer St. Mary made the dragon put down the infant. Antony carried him to his father, who adopted him and ordered him to be baptised. Desonelle wandered up and down, after the loss of her children, till she happened to meet the king of Nazareth hunting. He, recognising her as the king of Portugal's daughter, gave her a kind welcome and assistance, and at his court she lived several years in happy retirement. Ultimately she is re-united to her husband and her two sons, when they have become famous knights. The following is an epitome of "Sir Isumbras," from Ellis's "Specimens of Early English Metrical Romances" (Bohr's ed. p. 479 ff.):


There was once a knight, who, from his earliest infancy, appeared to be the peculiar favourite of Fortune. His birth was noble; his person equally remarkable for strength and beauty, his possessions so extensive as to furnish the amusements of hawking and hunting in the highest perfection. Though he had found no opportunity of signalising his courage in war, he had borne away the prize at numberless tournaments; his courtesy was the theme of general praise; his hall was the seat of unceasing plenty; it was crowded with minstrels, whom he entertained with princely liberality, and the possession of a beautiful wife and three lovely children completed the sum of earthly happiness.

Sir Isumbras had many virtues, but he had one vice. In the pride of his heart he forgot the Giver of all good things, and considered the blessings so abundantly showered upon him as the proper and just reward of his distinguished merit. Instances of this overweening presumption might perhaps be found in all ages among the possessors of wealth and power; but few sinners have the good fortune to be recalled, like Sir Isumbras, by a severe but salutary punishment, to the pious sentiments of Christian humility.

It was usual with knights to amuse themselves with hawking or hunting whenever they were not occupied by some more serious business; and, as business seldom intervened, they thus amused themselves every day in the year. One morning, being mounted on his favourite steed, surrounded by his dogs, and with a hawk on his wrist, Sir Isumbras cast his eyes on the sky, and discovered an angel, who, hovering over him, reproached him with his pride, and announced the punishment of instant and complete degradation. The terrified knight immediately fell on his knees; acknowledged the justice of his sentence; returned thanks to Heaven for deigning to visit him with adversity while the possession of youth and health enabled him to endure it; and, filled with contrition, prepared to return from the forest. But scarcely had the angel disappeared when his good steed suddenly fell dead under him, the hawk dropped from his wrist; his hounds wasted and expired; and, being thus left alone, he hastened on foot towards his palace, filled with melancholy forebodings, but impatient to learn the whole extent of his misfortune.

He was presently met by a part of his household, who, with many tears, informed him that his horses and oxen had been suddenly struck dead with lightning, and that his capons were all stung to death with adders. He received the tidings with humble resignation, commanded his servants to abstain from murmurs against Providence, and passed on. He was next met by a page, who related that his castle was burned to the ground, that many of his servants had lost their lives, and that his wife and children had with great difficulty escaped from the flames. Sir Isumbras, rejoiced that Heaven had yet spared those who were most dear to him, bestowed upon the astonished page his purse of gold as a reward for the intelligence.

         A doleful sight then gan he see;          His wife and children three             Out of the fire were fled:          There they sat, under a thorn,          Bare and naked as they were born,             Brought out of their bed.          A woful man then was he,          When he saw them all naked be,             The lady said, all so blive,          "For nothing, sir, be ye adrad."          He did off his surcoat of pallade, [FN#572]             And with it clad his wife.          His scarlet mantle then shore [FN#573] he;          Therein he closed his children three             That naked before him stood.

He then proposed to his wife that, as an expiation of their sins, they should at once under take a pilgrimage to Jerusalem; so, cutting with his knife a sign of the cross on his bare shoulder, he set off with the four companions of his misery resolving to beg his bread till they should arrive at the Holy Sepulchre. After passing through "seven lands," supported by the scanty alms of the charitable, they arrived at length at a forest, where they wandered during three days without meeting a single habitation. Their food was reduced to the few berries which they were able to collect; and the children, unaccustomed to such hard fare began to sink under the accumulated difficulties of their journey. In this situation they were stopped by a wide and rapid though shallow river. Sir Isumbras, taking his eldest son in his arms, carried him over to the opposite bank and placing him under a bush of broom, directed him to dry his tears, and amuse himself by playing with the blossoms till his return with his brothers. But scarcely had he left the place when lion, starting from a neighbouring thicket, seized the child and bore him away into the recesses of the forest. The second son became, in like manner,- the prey of an enormous leopard, and the disconsolate mother, when carried over with her infant to the fatal spot, was with difficulty persuaded to survive the loss of her two elder children. Sir Isumbras, though he could not repress the tears extorted by this cruel calamity, exerted himself to console his wife and humbly confessing his sins, contented himself with praying that his present misery might be accepted by Heaven as a partial expiation.

         Through forest they went days three,          Till they came to the Greekish sea;             They grette, [FN#574] and were full wo!          As they stood upon the land,          They saw a fleet sailand, [FN#575]             Three hundred ships and mo. [FN#576]          With top-casters set on-loft,          Richly then were they wrought,             With joy and mickle [FN#577] pride:          A heathen king was therein,          That Christendom came to win;             His power was full wide.

It was now seven days since the pilgrims had tasted bread or meat, the soudan's [FN#578] galley therefore, was no sooner moored to the beach than the hastened on board to beg for food The soudan, under the apprehension that they were spies, ordered them to be driven back on shore; but his attendants observed to him that these could not be common beggars that the robust limbs and tall stature of the husband proved him to be a knight in disguise, and that the delicate complexion of the wife, who was "bright as blossom on tree," formed a striking contrast to the ragged apparel with which she was very imperfectly covered. They were now brought into the royal presence; and the soudan, addressing Sir Isumbras, immediately offered him as much treasure as he should require, on condition that he should renounce Christianity and consent to fight under the Saracen banners. The answer was a respectful but peremptory refusal, concluded by an earnest petition for a little food; but the soudan, having by this time turned his eyes from Sir Isumbras to the beautiful companion of his pilgrimage, paid no attention to his request.

         The soudan beheld that lady there,          Him thought an angel that she were,             Comen a-down from heaven;          "Man! I will give thee gold and fee,          An thou that woman will sellen me,             More than thou can neven. [FN#579]          I will give thee an hundred pound          Of pennies that been whole and round,             And rich robes seven:          She shall be queen of my land,          And all men bow unto her hand,             And none withstand her steven." [FN#580]          Sir Isumbras said, "Nay!          My wife I will nought sell away,             Though ye me for her sloo! [FN#581]          I weddid her in Goddislay,          To hold her to mine ending day,             Both for weal and wo."

It evidently would require no small share of casuistry to construe this declaration into an acceptance of the bargain, but the Saracens, having heard the offer of their sovereign, deliberately counted out the stipulated sum on the mantle of Sir Isumbras; took possession of the lady, carried the knight with his infant son on shore; beat him till he was scarcely able to move, and then returned for further orders. During this operation, the soudan, with his own hand, placed the regal crown on the head of his intended bride; but recollecting that the original project of the voyage to Europe was to conquer it, which might possibly occasion a loss of some time, he delayed his intended nuptial, and ordered a fast-sailing vessel to convey her to his dominions, providing her at the same time with a charter addressed to his subjects, in which he enjoined them to obey her, from the moment of her landing, as their legitimate sovereign.

The lady, emboldened by these tokens of deference on the part of her new lord, now fell on her knees and entreated his permission to pass a few moments in private with her former husband, and the request was instantly granted by the complaisant Saracen. Sir Isumbras still smarting from his bruises, was conducted with great respect and ceremony to his wife, who, embracing him with tears, earnestly conjured him to seek her out as soon as possible in her new dominions, to slay his infidel rival, and to take possession of a throne which was probably reserved to him by Heaven as an indemnification for his past losses. She then supplied him with provisions for a fortnight; kissed him and her infant son; swooned three times, and then set sail for Africa.

Sir Isumbras, who had been set on shore quite confounded by this quick succession of strange adventures, followed the vessel with his eyes till it vanished from his sight, and then taking his son by the hand led him up to some rocky woodlands in the neighbourhood. Here they sat down under a tree, and after a short repast, which was moistened with their tears, resumed their journey. But they were again bewildered in forest, and, after gaining the summit of the mountain without being able to descry a single habitation, lay down on the bare ground and resigned themselves to sleep. The next morning Sir Isumbras found that his misfortunes were not yet terminated. He had carried his stock of provisions, together with his gold, the fatal present of the soudan, enveloped in a scarlet mantle; and scarcely had the sun darted its first rays on the earth when an eagle, attracted by the red cloth; swooped down upon the treasure and bore it off in his talons. Sir Isumbras, waking at the moment, perceived the theft, and for some time hastily pursued the flight of the bird, who, he expected, would speedily drop the heavy and useless burthen but he was disappointed; for the eagle, constantly towering as he approached the sea, at length directed his flight towards the opposite shore of Africa. Sir Isumbras slowly returned to his child, whom he had no longer the means of feeding, but the wretched father only arrived m time to behold the boy snatched from him by a unicorn. The knight was now quite disheartened. But his last calamity was so evidently miraculous that even the grief of the father was nearly absorbed by the contrition of the sinner. He fell on his knees and uttered a most fervent prayer to Jesus and the Virgin, and then proceeded on his journey.

His attention was soon attracted by the sound of a smith's bellows: he quickly repaired to the forge and requested the charitable donation of a little food, but was told by the labourers that he seemed as well able to work as they did, and they had nothing to throw away in charity.

         Then answered the knight again,          "For meat would I swink [FN#582] fain."             Fast he bare and drow, [FN#583]          They given him meat and drink anon.          And taughten him to bear stone:             Then had he shame now.

This servitude lasted a twelvemonth, and seven years expired before he had fully attained all the mysteries of his new profession. He employed his few leisure hours in fabricating a complete suit of armour: every year had brought him an account of the progress of the Saracens; and he could not help entertaining a hope that his arm, though so ignobly employed, was destined at some future day to revenge the wrongs of the Christians, as well as the injury which he had personally received from the unbelievers.

At length he heard that the Christian army had again taken the field, that the day was fixed for a great and final effort; and that a plain at an inconsiderable distance from his shop was appointed for the scene of action. Sir Isumbras rose before day, buckled on his armour, and mounting a horse which had hitherto been employed in carrying coals, proceeded to the field and took a careful view of the disposition of both armies. When the trumpets gave the signal to charge, he dismounted, fell on his knees, and after a short but fervent prayer to Heaven, again sprang into his saddle and rode into the thickest ranks of the enemy. His uncouth war-horse and awkward armour had scarcely less effect than his wonderful address and courage in attracting the attention of both parties; and when after three desperate charges, his sorry steed was slain under him, one of the Christian chiefs make a powerful effort for his rescue, bore him to a neighbouring eminence, and presented to him a more suitable coat of armour, and a horse more worthy of the heroic rider.

         When he was armed on that stead          It is seen where his horse yede, [FN#584]             And shall be evermore.          As sparkle glides off the glede, [FN#585]          In that stour he made many bleed,             And wrought hem wonder sore.          He rode up into the mountain,          The soudan soon hath he slain,             And many that with him were.          All that day lasted the fight;          Sir Isumbras, that noble knight,             Wan the battle there.          Knights and squires have him sought,          And before the king him brought;             Full sore wounded was he.          They asked what was his name;          He said, "Sire, a smith's man;             What will ye do with me?"          The Christian king said, than,          “I trow never smith's man             In war was half so wight."          "I bid [FN#586] you, give me meat and drink          And what that I will after think,             Till I have kevered [FN#587] my might."          The king a great oath sware,          As soon as he whole were,             That he would dub him knight.          In a nunnery they him leaved,          To heal the wound in his heved, [FN#588]             That he took in that fight.          The nuns of him were full fain,          For he had the soudan slain,             And many heathen hounds;          For his sorrow they gan sore rue;          Every day they salved him new,             And stopped well his wounds.

We may fairly presume, without derogating from the merit of the holy sisters or from the virtue of their salves and bandages, that the knight's recovery was no less accelerated by the pleasure of having chastised the insolent possessor of his wife and the author of his contumelious beating. In a few days his health was restored; and having provided himself with a "scrip and pike" and the other accoutrements of a palmer, he took his leave of the nuns, directed his steps once more to the "Greekish Sea,” and, embarking on board of a vessel which he found ready to sail, speedily arrived at the port of Acre.

During seven years, which were employed in visiting every part of the Holy Land, the penitent Sir Isumbras led a life of continued labour and mortification: fed during the day by the precarious contributions of the charitable, and sleeping at night in the open air, without any addition to the scanty covering which his pilgrim's weeds, after seven years service, were able to afford. At length his patience and contrition were rewarded. After a day spent in fruitless applications for a little food,

         Beside the burgh of Jerusalem          He set him down by a well-stream,             Sore wepand [FN#589] for his sin.          And as he sat, about midnight,          There came an angel fair and bright,             And brought him bread and wine;          He said, "Palmer, well thou be!          The King of Heaven greeteth well thee;             Forgiven is sin thine."

Sir Isumbras accepted with pious gratitude the donation of food, by which his strength was instantly restored, and again set out on his travels; but he was still a widower, still deprived of his children, and as poor as ever; nor had his heavenly monitor afforded him any hint for his future guidance. He wandered therefore through the country, without any settled purpose, till he arrived at a "rich burgh," built round a "fair castle," the possessor of which, he was told, was a charitable queen, who daily distributed a florin of gold to every poor man who approached her gates, and even condescended to provide food and lodging within her palace for such as were distinguished by superior misery. Sir Isumbras presented himself with the rest; and his emaciated form and squalid garments procured him instant admittance.

         The rich queen in hall was set;          Knights her served, at hand and feet,             In rich robes of pall:          In the floor a cloth was laid;          "The poor palmer," the steward said,             "Shall sit above you all."          Meat and drink forth they brought;          He sat still, and ate right nought,             But looked about the hall.          So mickle he saw of game and glee          (Swiche mirthis he was wont to see)             The tears he let down fall.

Conduct so unusual attracted the attention of the whole company, and even of the queen, who, ordering "a chair with a cushion" to be placed near the palmer, took her seat in it, entered into conversation with him on the subject of his long and painful pilgrimage and was much edified by the moral lessons which he interspersed in his narrative. But no importunity could induce him to taste food: he was sick at heart, and required the aid of solitary meditation to overcome the painful recollections which continually assailed him The queen was more and more astonished, but at length left him to his reflections, after declaring that, "for her lord's soul, or for his love, if he were still alive," she was determined to retain the holy palmer in her palace, and to assign him a convenient apartment, together with a servant to attend him.

An interval of fifteen years, passed in the laborious occupations of blacksmith and pilgrim, may be supposed to have produced a very considerable alteration in the appearance of Sir Isumbras; and even his voice, subdued by disease and penance, may have failed to discover the gallant knight under the disguise which he had so long assumed. But that his wife (for such she was) should have been equally altered by the sole operation of time that the air and gestures and action of a person once so dear and so familiar to him should have awakened no trace of recollection in the mind of a husband, though in the midst of scenes which painfully recalled the memory of his former splendour, is more extraordinary. Be this as it may, the knight and the queen, though lodged under the same roof and passing much of their time together, continued to bewail the miseries of their protracted widowhood. Sir Isumbras, however, speedily recovered, in the plentiful court of the rich queen, his health and strength, and with these the desire of returning to his former exercises. A tournament was proclaimed; and the lists, which were formed immediately under the widows of the castle, were quickly occupied by a number of Saracen knights, all of whom Sir Isumbras successively overthrew. So dreadful was the stroke of his spear, that many were killed at the first encounter; some escaped with a few broken bones; others were thrown headlong into the castle ditch, but the greater number consulted their safety by a timely flight; while the queen contemplated with pleasure and astonishment the unparalleled exploits of her favourite palmer.

         Then fell it, upon a day,          The Knight went him for to play,             As it was ere his kind;          A fowl's nest he found on high;          A red cloth therein he seygh [FN#590]             Wavand [FN#591] in the wind.          To the nest he gan win; [FN#592]          His own mantle he found therein;             The gold there gan he find.

The painful recollection awakened by this discovery weighed heavily on the soul of Sir Isumbras. He bore the fatal treasure to his chamber, concealed it under his bed, and spent the remainder of the day in tears and lamentations. The images of his lost wife and children now began to haunt him continually; and his altered demeanour attracted the attention and excited the curiosity of the whole court, and even of the queen, who could only learn from the palmer's attendant that his melancholy seemed to originate in the discovery of something in a bird's nest. With this strange report she was compelled to be satisfied, till Sir Isumbras, with the hope of dissipating his grief, began to resume his usual exercises in the field, but no sooner had he quitted his chamber than the "squires" by her command broke open the door, discovered the treasure, and hastened with it to the royal apartment. The sight of the gold and the scarlet mantle immediately explained to the queen the whole mystery of the palmer's behaviour. She burst into tears; kissed with fervent devotion the memorial of her lost husband; fell into a swoon; and on her recovery told the story to her attendants, and enjoined them to go in quest of the palmer, and to bring him at once before her. A short explanation removed her few remaining doubts; she threw herself into the arms of her husband, and the reunion of this long separated couple was immediately followed by the coronation of Sir Isumbras and by a protracted series of festivities.

The Saracen subjects of the Christian sovereign continued, with unshaken loyalty, to partake of the plentiful entertainments provided for all ranks of people on this solemn occasion, but no sooner had the pious Sir Isumbras signified to them the necessity of their immediate conversion, than his whole "parliament" adopted the resolution of deposing and committing to the flames their newly acquired sovereign, as soon as they should have obtained the concurrence of the neighbouring princes. Two of these readily joined their forces for the accomplishment of this salutary purpose, and invading the territories of Sir Isumbras with an army of thirty thousand men, sent him, according to usual custom, a solemn defiance. Sir Isumbras boldly answered the defiance, issued the necessary orders, called for his arms, sprang upon his horse, and prepared to march out against the enemy; when he discovered that his subjects had, to a man, abandoned him, and that he must encounter singly the whole host of the invaders.

         Sir Isumbras was bold and keen,          And took his leave at the queen,             And sighed wonder sore:          He said, "Madam, have good day!          Sickerly, as you I say,             For now and evermore!"          "Help me, sir, that I were dight          In arms, as it were a knight;             I will with you fare:          Gif God would us grace send,          That we may together end,             Then done were all my care."          Soon was the lady dight          In arms, as it were a knight;             He gave her spear and shield:          Again [FN#593] thirty thousand Saracens and mo. [FN#594]          There came no more but they two,             When they met in field.

Never, probably, did a contest take place between such disproportioned forces. Sir Isumbras was rather encumbered than assisted by the presence of his beautiful but feeble helpmate; and the faithful couple were upon the point of being crushed by the charge of the enemy, when three unknown knights suddenly made their appearance, and as suddenly turned the fortune of the day. The first of these was mounted on a lion, the second on a leopard, and the third on a unicorn. The Saracen cavalry, at the first sight of these unexpected antagonists, dispersed in all directions. But flight and resistance were equally hopeless: three and twenty thousand unbelievers were soon laid lifeless on the plain by the talons of the lion and leopard and by the resistless horn of the unicorn, or by the swords of their young and intrepid riders; and the small remnant of the Saracen army who escaped from the general carnage quickly spread, through every corner of the Mohammedan world the news of this signal and truly miraculous victory.

Sir Isumbras, who does not seem to have possessed the talent for unravelling mysteries, had never suspected that his three wonderful auxiliaries were his own children whom Providence had sent to his assistance at the moment of his greatest distress, but he was not the less thankful when informed of the happy termination of all his calamities. The royal family were received in the city with every demonstration of joy by his penitent subjects whose loyalty had been completely revived by the recent miracle. Magnificent entertainments were provided; after which Sir Isumbras, having easily overrun the territories of his two pagan neighbours, who had been slain in the last battle, proceeded to conquer a third kingdom for his youngest son; and the four monarchs, uniting their efforts for the propagation of the true faith, enjoyed the happiness of witnessing the baptism of all the inhabitants of their respective dominions.

         They lived and died in good intent;          Unto heaven their souls went,             When that they dead were.          Jesu Christ, heaven's king,          Give us, aye, his blessing,             And shield us from care!

On comparing these several versions it will be seen that, while they differ one from another m some of the details, yet the fundamental outline is identical, with the single exception of the Tibetan story, which, in common with Tibetan tales generally, has departed very considerably from the original. A king, or knight, is suddenly deprived of all his possessions, and with his wife and two children becomes a wanderer on the face of the earth; his wife is forcibly taken from him; he afterwards loses his two sons, he is once more raised to affluence; his sons, having been adopted and educated by a charitable person, enter his service, their mother recognises them through overhearing their conversation; finally husband and wife and children are happily re-united. Such is the general outline of the story, though modifications have been made in the details of the different versions-- probably through its being transmitted orally in some instances. Thus in the Arabian story, the king is ruined apparently in consequence of no fault of his own; in the Panjábí version, he relinquishes his wealth to a fakír as a pious action; in the Kashmírí and in the romance of Sir Isumbras, the hero loses his wealth as a punishment for his overweening ride, in the legend of St. Eustache, as in the story of Job, the calamities which overtake the Christian convert are designed by Heaven as a trial of his patience and fortitude; while even in the corrupted Tibetan story the ruin of the monarch is reflected in the destruction of the parents of the heroine by a hurricane. In both the Kashmírí and the Panjábí versions, the father is swallowed by a fish (or an alligator) in re-crossing the river to fetch his second child, in the Tibetan story the wife loses her husband, who is killed by a snake, and having taken one of her children over the river, she is returning for the other when, looking back, she discovers her babe in the jaws of a wolf: both her children perish: in the European versions they are carried off by wild beasts and rescued by strangers--the romance of Sir Isumbras is singular in representing the number of children to be three. Only in the Arabian story do we find the father carrying his wife and children in safety across the stream, and the latter afterwards lost in the forest. The Kashmírí and Gesta versions correspond exactly in representing the shipman as seizing the lady because her husband could not pay the passage-money: in the Arabian she is entrapped in the ship, owned by a Magian, on the pretext that there is on board a woman in labour; in Sir Isumbras she is forcibly "bought" by the Soudan. She is locked up in a chest by the Magian; sent to rule his country by the Soudan; respectfully treated by the merchant in the Kashmírí story, and, apparently, also by Kandan in the Panjábí legend; in the story of St. Eustache her persecutor dies and she is living in humble circumstances when discovered by her husband.--I think there is internal evidence, apart from the existence of the Tibetan version, to lead to the conclusion that the story is of Buddhist extraction, and if such be the fact, it furnishes a further example of the indebtedness of Christian hagiology to Buddhist tales and legends.


We must, I think, regard this group of tales as being genuine narratives of the exploits of Egyptian sharpers. From the days of Herodotus to the present time, Egypt has bred the most expert thieves in the world. The policemen don't generally exhibit much ability for coping with the sharpers whose tricks they so well recount; but indeed our home-grown "bobbies" are not particularly quick-witted.

 THE THIEF'S TALE.--Vol. XII. p. 28.

A parallel to the woman's trick of shaving off the beards and blackening the faces of the robbers is found in the well-known legend, as told by Herodotus (Euterpe, 121), of the robbery of the treasure-house of Rhampsinitus king of Egypt, where the clever thief, having made the soldiers dead drunk, shaves off the right side of their beards and then decamps with his brother's headless body.


The narrow escape of the singing-girl hidden under a pile of halfah grass may be compared with an adventure of a fugitive Mexican prince whose history, as related by Prescott, is as full of romantic daring and hair's breadth 'scapes as that of Scanderbeg or the “Young Chevader.” This prince had just time to turn the crest of a hill as his enemies were climbing it on the other side, when he fell in with a girl who was reaping chian, a Mexican plant, the seed of which is much used in the drinks of the country. He persuaded her to cover him with the stalks she had been cutting. When his pursuers came up and inquired if she had seen the fugitive, the girl coolly answered that she had, and pointed out a path as the one he had taken.


The concluding part of this story differs very materially from that of the Greek legend of Ibycus (fl. B.C. 540), which is thus related in a small MS. collection of Arabian and Persian anecdotes in my possession, done into English from the French:

It is written in the history of the first kings that in the reign of a Grecian king there lived a philosopher named Ibycus, who surpassed in sagacity all other sages of Greece. Ibycus was once sent by the king to a neighbouring court. On the way he was attacked by robbers who, suspecting him to have much money, formed the design of killing him "Your object in taking my life," said Ibycus, "is to obtain my money; I give it up to you, but allow me to live." The robbers paid no attention to his words, and persisted in their purpose. The wretched Ibycus, in his despair, looked about him to see if any one was coming to his as assistance, but no person was in sight. At that very moment a flock of cranes flew overhead. "O cranes!" cried Ibycus, "know that I have been seized in this desert by these wicked men, and I die from their blows. Avenge me, and demand from them my blood." At these words the robbers burst into laughter: "To take away life from those who have lost their reason," they observed, "is to add nothing to their hurt." So saying, they killed Ibycus and divided his money. On receipt of the news that Ibycus had been murdered, the inhabitants of the town were exasperated and felt great sorrow. They caused strict inquiries to be made for the murderers, but they could not be found. After some time the Greeks were celebrating a feast. The inhabitants of the adjoining districts came in crowds to the temples. The murderers of Ibycus also came, and everywhere showed themselves. Meanwhile a flock of cranes appeared in the air and hovered above the people, uttering cries so loud and prolonged that the prayers and ceremonies were interrupted. One of the robbers looked with a smile at his comrades, saying, by way of joke, "These cranes come without doubt to avenge the blood of Ibycus." Some one of the town, who was near them, heard these words, repeated them to his neighbour, and they together reported them to the king The robbers were taken, strictly cross-examined, confessed their crime, and suffered for it a just punishment. In this way the cranes inflicted vengeance on the murderers of Ibycus. But we ought to see in this incident a matter which is concealed in it: This philosopher although apparently addressing his words to the cranes, was really imploring help from their Creator; he hoped, in asking their aid, that He would not suffer his blood to flow unavenged. So God accomplished his hopes, and willed that cranes should be the cause that his death was avenged in order that the sages of the world should learn from it the power and wisdom of the Creator.

This ancient legend was probably introduced into Arabian literature in the 9th century when translations of so many of the best Greek works were made, and, no doubt, it was adapted in the following Indian (Muslim) story: [FN#595]

There was a certain pir, or saint, of great wisdom, learning, and sanctity, who sat by the wayside expounding the Kurán to all who would listen to him. He dwelt in the out-buildings of a ruined mosque close by, his only companion being a maina, or hill-starling, which he had taught to proclaim the excellence of the formula of his religion, saying, "The Prophet is just!" It chanced that two travellers passing that way beheld the holy man at his devotions, and though far from being religious persons yet tarried a while to hear the words of truth. Evening now drawing on, the saint invited his apparently pious auditors to his dwelling, and set before them such coarse food as he had to offer. Having eaten and refreshed themselves, they were astonished at the wisdom displayed by the bird, who continued to repeat holy texts from the Kurán. The meal ended, they all lay down to sleep, and while the good man reposed, his treacherous guests, who envied him the possession a bird that in their hands might be the means of enriching them, determined to steal the treasure and murder its master. So they stabbed the sleeping devotee to the heart and then seized hold of the bird's cage. But, unperceived by them, the door of it had been left open and the bird was not to be found. After searching for the bird in vain, they considered it necessary to dispose of the body, since, if discovered, suspicion would assuredly fall upon them, and carrying it away to what they deemed a safe distance they buried it. Vexed to be obliged to leave the place without obtaining the reward of their evil deeds, they again looked carefully for the bird, but without success; it was nowhere to be seen, and so they were compelled to go forward without the object of their search. The maina had witnessed the atrocious deed, and unseen had followed the murderers to the place were they had buried the body, it then perched upon the tree beneath which the saint had been wont to enlighten the minds of his followers, and when they assembled flew into their midst, exclaiming, "The Prophet is just!" making short flights and then returning. These unusual motions, together with the absence of their preceptor, induced the people to follow it and directing its flight to the grave of its master, it uttered a mournful cry over the newly-covered grave. The villagers, astonished, began to remove the earth, and soon discovered the bloody corse.  Surprised and horror-stricken, they looked about for some traces of the murderers, and perceiving that the bird had resumed the movements which had first induced them to follow it, they suffered it to lead them forward. Before evening fell, the avengers came up with two men, who no sooner heard the maina exclaim, “The Prophet is just'" and saw the crowd that accompanied it, than they fell upon their knees, confessing that the Prophet had indeed brought their evil deeds to light; so, their crime being thus made manifest, summary justice was inflicted upon them.


An entertaining story, but very inconsistent in the character of Iblis, who is constantly termed, in good Muslim fashion, "the accursed," yet seems to be somewhat of a follower of the Prophet, and on the whole a good-natured sort of fellow. His mode of expressing his approval of the damsel's musical "talent" is, to say the least, original.

 WOMEN'S WILES.--Vol. XII. p. 99.

A variant--perhaps an older form--of this story occurs in the tale of Prince Fadlallah, which is interwoven with the History of Prince Calaf and the Princess of China, in the Persian tales of “The Thousand and One Days”:

The prince, on his way to Baghdad, is attacked by robbers, his followers are all slain, and himself made prisoner, but he is set at liberty by the compassionate wife of the robber-chief during his absence on a plundering expedition. When he reaches Baghdad he has no resource but to beg his bread, and having stationed himself in front of a large mansion, an old female slave presently comes out and gives him a loaf. At this moment a gust of wind blew aside the curtain of a window and discovered to his admiring eyes a most beautiful damsel, of whom he became immediately enamoured. He inquired of a passerby the name of the owner of the mansion, and was informed that it belonged to a man called Mouaffac, who had been lately governor of the city, but having quarrelled with the kází, who was of a revengeful disposition, the latter had found means to disgrace him with the khalíf and to have him deprived of his office. After lingering near the house in vain till nightfall, in hopes of once more obtaining a glimpse of this beauty, he retired for the night to a burying-ground, where he was soon joined by two thieves, who pressed upon him a share of the good cheer with which they had provided themselves, but while the thieves were feasting and talking over a robbery which they had just accomplished, the police suddenly pounced upon them, and took all three and cast them into prison.

In the morning they were examined by the kází, and the thieves, seeing it was useless to deny it, confessed their crime.  The prince then told the kází how he chanced to fall into company of the thieves, who confirmed all he said, and he was set at liberty. Then the kází began to question him as to how he had employed his time since he came to Baghdád, to which he answered very frankly but concealed his rank. On his mentioning the brief glance he had of the beautiful lady at the window of the ex-governor's house, the kází's eyes sparkled with apparent satifaction, and he assured the prince that he should have the lady for his bride; for, believing the prince to be a mere beggarly adventurer, he resolved to foist him on Mouaffac as the son of a great monarch So, having sent the prince to the bath and provided him with rich garments, the kází dispatched a messenger to request Mouaffac to come to him on important business. When the ex-governor arrived, the kází told him blandly that there was now an excellent opportunity for doing away the ill will that had so long existed between them. “It is this,” continued he: “the prince of Basra, having fallen in love with your daughter from report of her great beauty, has just come to Baghdád, unknown to his father, and intends to demand her of you in marriage. He is lodged in my house, and is most anxious that this affair should be arranged by my interposition, which is the more agreeable to me, since it will, I trust, be the means of reconciling our differences.” Mouaffac expressed his surprise that the prince of Basra should think of marrying his daughter, and especially that the proposal should come through the kází, of all men. The kází begged him to forget their former animosity and consent to the immediate celebration of the nuptials. While they were thus talking, the prince entered, in a magnificent dress, and was not a little astonished to be presented to Mouaffac by the treacherous kází as the prince of Basra, who had come as a suitor for his daughter in marriage. The ex-governor saluted him with every token of profound respect, and expressed his sense of the honour of such an alliance: his daughter was unworthy to wait upon the meanest of the prince's slaves. In brief, the marriage is at once celebrated, and the prince duly retires to the bridal chamber with the beauteous daughter of Mouaffac. But in the morning, at an early hour, a servant of the kází knocks at his door, and, on the prince opening it, says that he brings him his rags of clothes and is required to take back the dress which the kází had lent him yesterday to personate the prince of Basra. The prince, having donned his tattered garments, said to his wife, “The kází thinks he has married you to a wretched beggar, but I am no whit inferior in rank to the prince of Basra--I am also a prince, being the only son of the king of Mosel,” and then proceeded to recount all his adventures. When he had concluded his recital, the lady despatched a servant to procure a suitable dress for the prince, which when he had put on, she said, “I see it all: the kází no doubt, believes that by this time we are all overwhelmed with shame and grief. But what must be his feelings when he learns that he has been a benefactor to his enemies! Before you disclose to him your real rank, however, we must contrive to punish him for his malicious intentions. There is a dyer in this town who has a frightfully ugly daughter-- but leave this affair in my hands.”

The lady then dressed herself in plain but becoming apparel, and went out of the house alone. She proceeded to the court of the kází, who no sooner cast his eyes upon her than he was struck with her elegant form. He sent an officer to inquire of her who she was and what she had come about. She made answer that she was the daughter of an artisan in the city. and that she desired to have some private conversation with the kází. When the officer reported the lady's reply, the kází directed her to be conducted into a private chamber, where he presently joined her, and gallantly placed his services at her disposal. The lady now removed her veil, and asked him whether he saw anything ugly or repulsive in her features. The kází on seeing her beautiful face was suddenly plunged in the sea of love, and declared that her forehead was of polished silver, her eyes were sparkling diamonds, her mouth a ruby casket containing a bracelet of pearls. Then she displayed her arms, so white and plump, the sight of which threw the kází into ecstasies and almost caused him to faint. Quoth the lady, “I must tell you, my lord, that with all the beauty I possess, my father, a dyer in the city, keeps me secluded, and declares to all who come to ask me in marriage that I am an ugly, deformed monster, a mere skeleton, lame, and full of diseases.” On this the kází burst into a tirade against the brutal father who could thus traduce so much beauty, and vowed that he would make her his wife that same day. The lady, after expressing her fears that he would not find it easy to gain her father's consent, took her leave and returned home.

The kází lost no time in sending for the dyer, and, after complimenting him upon his reputation for piety, said to him, “I am informed that behind the curtain of chastity you have a daughter ripe for marriage. Is not this true?” Replied the dyer, “My lord, you have been rightly informed. I have a daughter who is indeed fully ripe for marriage, or she is more than thirty years of age, but the poor creature is not fit to be a wife to any man. She is very ugly, lame, leprous, and foolish. In short, she is such a monster that I am obliged to keep her out of all people’s sight.” “Ha!” exclaimed the kází, “you can’t impose on me with such a tale. I was prepared for it. But let me tell you that I myself am ready and willing to marry that same ugly and leprous daughter of yours, with all her defects.” When the dyer heard this, he looked the kází full in the face and said, “My lord, you are welcome to divert yourself by making a jest of my daughter.” No,” replied the kází “I am quite in earnest. I demand your daughter in marriage.” The dyer broke into laughter, saying, 'By Allah, some one has meant to play you a trick, my lord. I forewarn you that she is ugly, lame, and leprous.”  “True,” responded the kází, with a knowing smile; “I know her by these tokens. I shall take her notwithstanding.” The dyer, seeing him determined to marry his daughter, and being now convinced that he had been imposed upon by some ill-wisher, thought to himself, “I must demand of him a round sum of money which may cause him to cease troubling me any further about my poor daughter.” So he said to the kází, “My lord, I am ready to obey your command; but I will not part with my daughter unless you pay me beforehand a dowry of a thousand sequins.” Replied the kází, “Although, methinks, your demand is somewhat exorbitant, yet I will pay you the money at once.” which having done, he ordered the contract to be drawn up. But when it came to be signed the dyer declared that he would not sign save in the presence of a hundred men of the law.  “Thou art very distrustful,” said the kází, “but I will comply in everything, for I am resolved to make sure of thy daughter.” So he sent for all the men of law in the city, and when they were assembled at the house of the kází, the dyer said that he was now willing to sign the contract; “But I declare,” he added, “in the presence of these honourable witnesses, that I do so on the condition that if my daughter should not prove to your liking when you have seen her, and you should determine to divorce her, you shall oblige yourself to give her a thousand sequins of gold in addition to the same amount which I have already received from you. “Agreed,” said the kází, “I oblige myself to it, and call this whole assembly to be witnesses. Art thou now satisfied?” “I am,” replied the dyer, who then went his way, saying that he would at once send him his bride. As soon as the dyer was gone, the assembly broke up, and the kází was left a house. He had been two years married to the daughter of a merchant of Baghdád, whom he had hitherto lived on very amicable terms. When she heard that he was arranging for a second marriage, she came to him in a great rage. “How now,” said she, “two hands in one glove! two swords in one scabbard! two wives in one house! Go, fickle man! Since the caresses of a young and faithful wife cannot secure your constancy, I am ready to yield my place to my rival and retire to my own family. Repudiate me--return my dowry--and you shall never see me more.” “I am glad you have thus anticipated me,” answered the kází, “for I was somewhat perplexed how to acquaint you of my new marriage.” So saying, he opened a coffer and took out a purse of five hundred sequins of gold, and putting it into her hands, “There, woman,” said he, “thy dowry is in that purse: begone, and take with you what belongs to you. I divorce thee once; I divorce thee twice, three times I divorce thee. And that thy parents may be satisfied thou art divorced from me, I shall give thee a certificate signed by myself and my nayb.” This he did accordingly, and his wife went to her father's house, with her bill of divorce and her dowry.

The kází then gave orders to furnish an apartment sumptuously for the reception of his bride. The floor was spread with velvet carpets, the walls were hung with rich tapestry, and couches of gold and silver brocade were placed around the room. The bridal chamber was decked with caskets filled with the most exquisite perfumes. When everything was in readiness, the kází impatiently expected the arrival of his bride, and at last was about to despatch a messenger to the dyer's when a porter entered, carrying a wooden chest covered with a piece of green taffeta. “What hast thou brought me there, friend?” asked the kází. “My lord,” replied the porter, setting the chest on the floor, “I bring your bride.” The kází opened the chest, and discovered a woman of three feet and a half, defective in every limb and feature. He was horrified at the sight of this object, and throwing the covering hastily over it, demanded of the porter, “What wouldst thou have me do with this frightful creature?” “My lord,” said the porter, “this is the daughter of Omar the dyer, who told me that you had espoused her out of pure inclination.” “O Allah!” exclaimed the kází, “is it possible to marry such a monster as this?” Just then, the dyer, well knowing that the kází must be surprised, came in. “Thou wretch,” cried the kází, “how cost thou dare to trifle with me? In place of this hideous object, send hither your other daughter, whose beauty is beyond comparison; otherwise thou shalt soon know what it is to insult me.” Quoth the dyer, “My lord, I swear, by Him who out of darkness produced light, that I have no other daughter but this. I told you repeatedly that she was not for your purpose, but you would not believe my words. Who, then, is to blame?” Upon this the kází began to cool, and said so the dyer, “I must tell you, friend Omar, that this morning there came to me a most beautiful damsel, who pretended that you were her father, and that you represented her to everybody as a monster, on purpose to deter all suitors that came to ask her in marriage.” “My lord,” answered the dyer, “this beautiful damsel must be an impostor; some one, undoubtedly, owes you a grudge.” Then the kází, having reflected for a few minutes, said to the dyer, “Bid the porter carry thy daughter home again. Keep the thousand sequins of gold which I gave thee, but ask no more of me, if thou desirest that we should continue friends.” The dyer, knowing the implacable disposition of the kází, thought it advisable to content himself with what he had already gained, and the kází, having formally divorced his hideous bride, sent her away with her father. The affair soon got wind in the city and everybody was highly diverted with the trick practiced on the kází.

It will be observed that in the Arabian story there are two clever devices: that of the lady who tricks the boastful merchant, whose motto was that men's craft is superior to women's craft, into marrying the ugly daughter of the kází; and that of the merchant to get rid of his bad bargain by disgusting the kází with the alliance. The scene at the house of the worthy judge--the crowd of low rascals piping, drumming, and capering, and felicitating themselves on their pretended kinsman the merchant's marriage--is highly humorous. This does not occur in the Persian story, because it is the kází, who has been duped into marrying the dyer's deformed daughter, and she is therefore simply packed off again to her father's house.

That the tales of the “Thousand and One Days” are not (as is supposed by the writer of an article on the several English versions of The Nights in the “Edinburgh Review” for July 1886, p. 167) mere imitations of Galland [FN#596] is most certain, apart from the statement in the preface to Petis' French translation, which there is no reason to doubt--see vol. x. of The Nights, p. 166, note 1. Sir William Ouseley, in his Travels, vol. ii., p. 21, note, states that he brought from Persia a manuscript which comprised, inter alia, a portion of the “Hazár ú Yek Rúz,” or the Thousand and One Days, which agreed with Petis' translation of the same stories. In the Persian collection entitled “Shamsa ú Kuhkuha” occur several of the tales and incidents, for example, the Story of Nasiraddoli King of Mousel, the Merchant of Baghdád, and the Fair Zeinib, while the Story of the King of Thibet and the Princess of the Naimans has its parallel in the Turkish “Kirk Vazír,” or Forty Vazírs. Again, the Story of Couloufe and the Beautiful Dilara reminds us of that of Haji the Cross-grained in Malcolm's “Sketches of Persia.” But of the French translation not a single good word can be said--the Oriental “costume” and phraseology have almost entirely disappeared, and between Petis de la Croix and the author of “Gil Blas”--who is said to have had a hand in the work--the tales have become ludicrously Frenchified. The English translation made from the French is, if possible, still worse. We there meet with “persons of quality,” “persons of fashion,” with “seigneurs,” and a thousand and one other inconsistencies and absurdities. A new translation is much to be desired. The copy of the Persian text made by Petis is probably in the Paris Library and Ouseley's fragment is doubtless among his other Oriental MSS. in the Bodleian. But one should suppose that copies of the “Hazár ú Yek Rúz” may be readily procured at Ispahán or Tehrán, and at a very moderate cost, since the Persians now-a-days are so poor in general that they are eager to exchange any books they possess for the “circulating medium.”


This is an excellent tale, the incidents occur naturally and the reader's interest in the fortunes of the hero and heroine never flags. The damsel's sojourn with the old Muezzin--her dispatching him daily to the shroff--bears some analogy to part of the tale of Ghanim the Slave of Love (vol. ii. of The Nights), which, by the way, finds close parallels in the Turkish "Forty Vazírs" (the Lady's 18th story in Mr. Gibb's translation), the Persian "Thousand and One Days" (story of Aboulcasem of Basra), and the "Bagh o Bahár" (story of the First Dervish). This tale is, in fact, a compound of incidents occurring in a number of different Arabian fictions.


Here we have another instance of a youth falling in love with the portrait of a pretty girl (see ante, p. 236). The doughty deeds performed by the young prince against thousands of his foes throw into the shade the exploits of the Bedouin hero Antar, and those of our own famous champions Sir Guy of Warwick and Sir Bevis of Hampton.