: Europa's Fairy Book

Now there was once a man at Bagdad who had seven sons, and when he

died he left to each of them one hundred dirhems; and his fifth son,

called Alnaschar the Babbler, invested all this money in some

glassware, and, putting it in a big tray, from which to show and sell

it, he sat down on a raised bench, at the foot of a wall, against

which he leant back, placing the tray on the ground in front of him.

As he sat he began
ay-dreaming and said to himself: "I have laid out

a hundred dirhems on this glass. Now I will surely sell it for two

hundred, and with it I will buy more glass and sell that for four

hundred; nor will I cease to buy and sell till I become master of

much wealth. With this I will buy all kinds of merchandise and jewels

and perfumes and gain great profit on them till, God willing, I will

make my capital a hundred thousand dinars or two million dirhems. Then

I will buy a handsome house, together with slaves and horses and

trappings of gold, and eat and drink, nor will there be a singing girl

in the city but I will have her to sing to me." This he said looking

at the tray before him with glassware worth a hundred dirhems. Then he

continued: "When I have amassed a hundred thousand dinars I will send

out marriage-brokers to demand for me in marriage the hand of the

Vizier's daughter, for I hear that she is perfect in beauty and of

surpassing grace. I will give her a dowry of a thousand dinars, and if

her father consent, 'tis well; if not, I will take her by force, in

spite of him. When I return home, I will buy ten little slaves and

clothes for myself such as are worn by kings and sultans and get a

saddle of gold, set thick with precious jewels. Then I will mount and

parade the city, with slaves before and behind me, while the people

will salute me and call down blessings upon me: after which I will go

to the Vizier, the girl's father, with slaves behind and before me, as

well as on either hand. When the Vizier sees me, he will rise and

seating me in his own place, sit down below me, because I am his

son-in-law. Now I will have with me two slaves with purses, in each a

thousand dinars, and I will give him the thousand dinars of the dowry

and make him a present of another thousand dinars so that he may

recognize my nobility and generosity and greatness of mind and the

littleness of the world in my eyes; and for every ten words he will

say to me, I will answer him only two. Then I will return to my house,

and if any one come to me on the bride's part, I will make him a

present of money and clothe him in a robe of honour; but if he bring

me a present I will return it to him and will not accept it so that

they may know how great of soul I am." After a while Alnaschar

continued: "Then I will command them to bring the Vizier's daughter to

me in state and will get ready my house in fine condition to receive

her. When the time of the unveiling of the bride is come, I will put

on my richest clothes and sit down on a couch of brocaded silk,

leaning on a cushion and turning my eyes neither to the right nor to

the left, to show the haughtiness of my mind and the seriousness of my

character. My bride shall stand before me like the full moon, in her

robes and ornaments, and I, out of my pride and my disdain, will not

look at her, till all who are present shall say to me: 'O my lord, thy

wife and thy handmaid stands before thee; deign to look upon her, for

standing is irksome to her.' And they will kiss the earth before me

many times, whereupon I will lift my eyes and give one glance at her,

then bend down my head again. Then they will carry her to the

bride-chamber, and meanwhile I will rise and change my clothes for a

richer suit. When they bring in the bride for the second time, I will

not look at her till they have implored me several times, when I will

glance at her and bow down my head; nor will I cease doing thus, till

they have made an end of parading and displaying her. Then I will

order one of my slaves to fetch a purse, and, giving it to the

tire-women, command them to lead her to the bride-chamber. When they

leave me alone with the bride, I will not look at her or speak to her,

but will sit by her with averted face, that she may say I am high of

soul. Presently her mother will come to me and kiss my head and hands

and say to me: 'O my lord, look on thy handmaid, for she longs for thy

favour, and heal her spirit,' But I will give her no answer; and when

she sees this, she will come and kiss my feet and say, 'O my lord,

verily my daughter is a beautiful girl, who has never seen man; and if

thou show her this aversion, her heart will break; so do thou be

gracious to her and speak to her.' Then she will rise and fetch a cup

of wine, and her daughter will take it and come to me; but I will

leave her standing before me, while I recline upon a cushion of cloth

of gold, and will not look at her to show the haughtiness of my heart,

so that she will think me to be a Sultan of exceeding dignity and will

say to me: 'O my lord, for God's sake, do not refuse to take the cup

from thy servant's hand, for indeed I am thy handmaid.' But I will not

speak to her, and she will press me, saying: 'Needs must thou drink

it,' and put it to my lips. Then I will shake my fist in her face and

spurn her with my foot thus." So saying, he gave a kick with his foot

and knocked over the tray of glass, which fell over to the ground, and

all that was in it was broken.