27. The Sleeper and the Waker

Abu al-Hasan divides his inheritance into two. He lives of the first half and gets a lot of friends. These friends leave him when he has run out of money. He then leaves of the second half, never to make friends again. He only invites people for one night and then never salutes them again. He meets the Caliph in this way, who is disguised. He says to the Caliph he tells the Caliph a story and says he wants to be Caliph for one day to take revenge on the shaykhs and Iman of a mosque because they don’t like him inviting various people into his home. The Caliph puts Abu to sleep by use of a drug. Abu wakes up in the Palace and everybody pretends he is the Caliph. He orders to punishes the shaykhs and the Imam and enjoys the luxuries of the Palace. Abu is put to sleep again and brought to his own home. When he wakes up he finds his mother next to him, who says he has been dreaming. He denies and beats his mother. But folk outside seize him and he is brought to prison. He repents and goes back to his home, taking up his old habit of inviting people. He again meets the Caliph, whom he thinks is the Devil. The Caliph denies and says he made his wish come true. The Caliph is again invited and again Abu is put to sleep and brought to the Palace. When he wakes up he thinks he has become mad, but eventually the Caliph comes out of his hiding place laughing and honours him. Abu is married to Nuzhat al-Fuad.

When Abu and Nuzhat run out of money they play a trick on the Caliph and his Lady. They pretend to be dead, Abu to Zubaydah, and Nuzhat to Caliph. They receive a hundred dinars and a piece of silk both. When Lady Zubaydah and the Caliph quarrel on who’s actually dead they send their servant to the home of Abu. But as Abu sees them coming both he and Nuzhat pretend to be dead in turns. To solve the matter the Caliph and Lady Zubaydah go to the home of Abu to see for themselves. When they see them both dead, the Caliph says he would give a thousand dinars to know who died first. Then Abu springs up and says he died first. The Caliph understand the trick Abu played and is enjoyed by it. He gives the thousand dinars and increases his solde. Abu and Nuzhat both live happily until they die.

There is a merchant during the reign of Caliph Harun al-Rashid who has a son named Abu al-Hasan-al-Khali’a. The merchant dies and leaves a great store of money to his son. Abu divides the sum into two equal parts. He keeps one part and spends the other. He gets a lot of companions, but when his money is gone his friends leave him. He then goes back to his mother and she says that people leave if you have nothing. He then decides to use his other half of his inheritance and live well from it.

Abu al-Hasan invites one guest per night, have a good time and then dismiss him and would never more salute him again. So he lives for a full year until he meets the Caliph and Masrur, the Sworder of his vengeance, disguised in merchants’ dress. The Caliph is invited in his home and they have a great time. But then Abu tells the Caliph they won’t meet after this night and he explains his condition through a story.

Story of the Larrikin and the Cook

In the story the Larrikin says that the story has a tail, a cause, and the Caliph says he would like to know the cause of the story of Abu. Abu tells his story and the Caliph says he won’t leave his host. Abu says that this will happen as he told before. When the Caliph asks Abu if there is something he really would like to do, Abu says he would like to be Caliph for one day and avenge himself on four shaykhs, who don’t like Abu taking in guests. and oppress him exceedingly. Abu wants to bat them with four hundred lashes as well as the Imam of the mosque and parade them around the city of Baghdad and bid cry before them: “This is the reward and the least of the reward of whoso exceeds in talk and vexes the folk and turns their joy to annoy.” The Caliph hopes his wish will be fulfilled one day. Then he secretly put Cretan Bhang in Abu’s drink and he falls asleep. He orders his slave Masrur to take Abu to the Palace. The Caliph informs his whole Palace to pretend Abu is the Caliph and they have to obey him.

When Abu al-Hasan wakes up he finds himself in a luxurious apartment. He thinks he is either dreaming or in Paradise. All the slaves and Mamelukes in the Palace claim he is the Commander of the Faithful. Slowly but surely he accepts himself being the Caliph, whilst the real Caliph sees everything in hiding and laughs. Abu commands a hundred dinars are to be given to the mother of Abu al-Hasan the Wag, and to deal with the shaykhs and Imam as he told the Caliph. He goes to the Harem and thinks either he is the Commander of the Faithful or the Harem are Jann and the visitor of last night one of their kings. Then, when night falls, the real Caliph puts Bhang in a drink, gives it to one of the slave-girls and lets Abu drink from it. He falls asleep and is brought to his own home again.

The next morning Abu wakes up and find his mother at this bedside. He says he is the Caliph, but his mother says he has only dreamed. They quarrel on this and he beats his mother with a staff. Folk outside think he is a madman, afflicted by a Jinn. He is brought to prison, stripped of his clothes and chained. He mother comes to him and asks her son to return to reason as this must be the Devil’s doing. Abu agrees and the Superintendent lets him go.

Abu turns to his old habit, going forth to the bridge and inviting people for the night. He again meets the Caliph, but says he doesn’t want to invite him anymore, because he thinks he is the Devil. The Caliph says that maybe the Devil entered Abu’s home because he left the door open. He also states that he made sure Abu’s wish was granted. The Caliph has to swear not to make his Jinns make fun of Abu, and then he is invited. Again the Caliph puts Bhang in Abu’s drink and he falls asleep.

Abu wakes up in the Palace again and he thinks he has become mad. Everybody at the Palace states, again, that he is the Caliph and they have to bite Abu to make sure he knows it’s for real. Then he puts off his clothes and dances naked among the slave-girls. The Caliph appears from behind the curtain laughing and takes him into special favour. He is married to Nuzhat al-Fuad and preferred by the Caliph. They enjoyed the full delight of life.

Then, when the money is all spent, Abu comes with an idea to get more money from the Caliph by use of a trick. They will feign their death. Abu will first pretend that he is dead. Nuzhat has to go to Lady Zubaydah and tell her Abu is dead, she will get one hundred dinars and a piece of silk. When she comes back, she has to switch places with Abu. He will go to the Caliph and tell the same story about Nuzhat. Abu will get a hundred dinars from the Caliph and a piece of silk. They do so and receive the money.

Then Lady Zubaydah condoles the Caliph with the death of Abu al-Hasan. The Caliph is confused for he has just seen Abu. He says Nuzhat is dead, which Lady Zubaydah denies. They make a wager who is right send Masrur to the home of Abu and see who is dead. When Masrur goes to the home of Abu, he is spotted and Abu says to Nuzhat to lie down and pretend she is died. Masrur reports back to the Palace that it is Nuzhat who is dead. Upon hearing this Lady Zubaydah sends her duenna. When the old woman is spotted, Abu pretends to be dead. The old woman returns to the Palace and tells Abu al-Hasan is dead. The Caliph says she lies and he and Lady Zubaydah go to the home of Abu and Nuzhat to see for themselves. When they are spotted, Abu and Nuzhat both pretend they are dead. At Abu’s home, the Caliph says he would give a thousand dinars to know who died first. Upon hearing this Abu springs up and says: “I died first!” Now the Caliph sees their death was a trick to get the gold, but he laughs about it and gives them a thousand dinars for the joke. Caliph also increases Abu’s solde and supplies and Abu al-Hasan and Nuzhat al-Fuad cease not to live in joy and contentment until there comes the Garnerer of graves.

From: The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night — Supplemental vol. 1

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