4. Tale of Nur al-Din Ali and His Son Badr al-Din Hasan

There are two brothers who share a Wazirate, Shams al-Din and Nur al-Din. The elder suggests the younger their future children should marry. His brother should pay him an epxensive dower, which the younger declines. They end in a fight and they swear their children will never marry. When Shams is away with the Sultan, the younger brother flees. from Cairo to Bassorah. At a caravanserai he lets the door-keeper walk his mule. He shows it to the Sultan, because it is a wonderful animal. The Sultan speaks to Nur al-Din, who tells the Sultan his sotry. The Sultan offers his daughter and they marry. Shams cannot find his brother and he marries the daughter of a merchant. Both brothers’ wives give birth to a child on the same day. Nur’s son, Badr al-Din Hasan is taught by a fakir and when he is twenty years old, his father dies. His son mourns his father more than he is concerned with the Wazirate and the Sultan appoints one of his chamberlains as Wazir. When the men of the Sultan go to Badr’s place he is warned by a Mamaluke and flees. He has papers with him by his father which tell the full story of his history. Destiny brings him to his father’s grave where he finds a Jew who wants to buy the first cargo of Badr’s father’s merchant ships.BAdr consents. He is then taken by a Ifrit to the daughter of Shams, because the Ifrit has a discussion with a Jinniyah who of those two children is more beautiful. The daughter of Shams, Sitt al-Husn, is only to be married to Shams brother’s son, but Sultan thinks the Wazir is mocking him. So the Sultan gets a hideous man, a Hunchback, to marry Sitt. The Ifrit locks the Hunchback in the privy whilst making sure Badr shares the Lady of Beauty’s bed. When Badr is brought back to the cemetary the Ifrit is stuck by fire from heaven and the Jinniyah quickly lies him at a gate in Damascus. Waking up with only a shirt and claiming he was in Cairo people say he is mad. He is adopted by a Cook to work in his shop.  The Wazir hears the story of his daughter and at first does not believe her, but he soon does, because of Badr’s dinars and clothes that were left. A chamber is arranged where everything is put exactly as is was that night. Sitt gives birth to a son named Ajib. When Ajib is seven years old he bullies other children he is the son of the Wazir, but the other children soon bully him back that he is actually a bastard, and the Wazir is his grandfather. He cries at his mother, and the Wazir decides to go and find his lost son-in-law. Eventually they come to Damascus where Ajib with a Eunuch are invited to Badr’s shop to have a meal. Badr is captivated by the boy and follows him afterwards. This tires the boy out and he angrily hits him. Badr returns to his shop. The Wazir then moves on the Bassorah where he meets the Sultan who tells him of his brother. They meet Nur al-Din’s wife and she goes with them back to Cairo. They camp again at Damascus and Ajib and the Eunuch again meet Badr who again invites them to eat. They do so on the condition that he will not follow them afterwards. When the two return to the tents at one point they have to admit they have already eaten a wonderful meal at cook-shop, which was tastier than the meal from Ajib’s mother. To prove this the cook is ordered to prepare this meal again. Badr’s mother recognises Badr’s hand in the meal. The Wazir then lets his men demolish the cook-shop and take him as prisoner. He does so because, according to him, there was little pepper in the pomegrante-seed meal. Badr is put into a closet and taken back to Cairo. The Wazir tells him he will be crucified for the pepper. The Wazir then sets everything in order to make his daughter’s room look like ten years ago to test Badr to see if he is really the man who they think he is. Badr is confused when he is put in the room whether he is dreaming or has been  dreaming. He succesfully passes the test and is taken to the Sultan who tests him on his courtly graces which he also passes. He becomes then the boon-companion of the Sultan and lives a richly life until he dies.

There is a generous and just Sultan with a wise Wazir. The Wazir has two sons, the elder is called Shams al-Din Mohammed and the younger Nur al-Din. The younger excels the elder and people come to Egypt to see him. When their father dies they share the Wazirate, each a week one brother is Wazir. When the Sultan leaves for a while it is the eldest turn to accompany him. Shams al-Din suggests to his brother that they should marry with two sisters. The younger complies. Shams al-Din proposes that they would marry the same day, go into them the same night so they would have children on the same day. Shams al-Din gets a daughter and Nur al-Din a son. Their children should then be married to each other. Nur al-Din asks what he should pay as dower. Shams answers three thousands dinars and three pleasure gardens and three farms. Nur al-Din rejects this claiming that he is his brother. After a word fight, Shams al-Din says that he will never marry his daughter to his brother’s son. Nur al-Din claims the same: his daughter would never marry Shams al-Din’s son. Shams al-Din threatens he will vindicate his honour.

Shams al-Din travels with the Sultan. Nur al-Din richly saddles his mare-mule and tells his slaves he will be away for three days and they should not follow him. He went to Bilbays-city, Sa’adiyah, Jerusalem and Aleppo, when he finally comes to Bassorah-city. In Bassorah he stayed three days with a caravanserai. He gives his mule to the door-keeper to walk it around. The Wazir of Bassorah sees the door-keeper walking with the impressive mule and lets him come in. The Wazir asks whose mule that is and the porter answers it is of a comely young man of pleasant manners, who is grave and dignified and probably the son of a merchant. The Wazir goes to the Khan to meet Nur al-Din. Nur al-Din tells the Wazir everything that happened and that he wants to see all the cities and countries of the world. The Wazir offers his daughter, his only child. If Nur al-Din accepts the Wazir will tell the Sultan he is the Wazir’s nephew. Nur al-Din says: “To hear is to obey.” He is clad in rich clothes and marries the daughter of the Wazir.

When Shams al-Din returns home he finds out that his brother has left. He figures out it must be because he was angry at his brother. He tells the Sultan what has happened and dispatches servants to find his brother, but they cannot find him. He marries the daughter of a merchant from Cairo and he copulates the same night as Nur al-Din does with his wife. Both women conceive a child on the same day. The wife of Shams bears him a beautiful daughter, Nur al-Din’s wife bears him a beautiful son, Badr al-Din.  The Wazir goes to Sultan and tells him of his nephew and his son. The Wazir asks him to give the Wazirate to his nephew. The Sultan does so and wonders as Nur al-Din’s wit and good sense.

When Badr al-Din is four years old the old Wazir dies and has a sumptuous funeral ceremony. Badr gets a Fakir, a doctor of law and religion, to teach him when he is seven. He never leaves the house until his father clothes him to go to the Sultan. The King marvels at Badr’s presence and entreats him with special favour and asks the Wazir to have him attend the Sultan every day.

When Badr is twenty years old the Minister sickens and asks for his son. He reveals that Badr al-Din has an uncle in Cairo and that if anything ill would befall him he must travel to his uncle. Badr al-Din writes a letter dictated by Nur al-Din in which everything is told about what happened to Nur al-Din. Badr is given the five behests and after that his father dies and Badr al-Din Hasan seized not in mourning for two months. Sultan is not pleased and puts one of his Chamberlains as Wazir. Badr is wanted but when a host comes to get him one of his Mamalukes of his father warns him. Badr flees hearing in the streets that the Sultan has confiscated his belongings. He flees and is brought, by Destiny, to his father’s grave.

At his father’s grave he meets a Jewish Shroff, or money changer. The Jew says that Badr fathers had many merchant ships and he wants to buy the first cargo brought by the first ship for one thousand dinars. Badr consents and writes two copies of a letter in which he claims that Isaac the Jew has bought the cargo of the first ship.

At the cemetery there lived a lot of Jinns who were of the True Believers and a Jinniyah comes to Hasan. She finds him very beautiful and tells an Ifrit. He agrees but he also tells her of a beautiful lady in the land of Egypt. The Ifrit heard that the Wazir only wants to marry is daughter to the son of his brother. He also heard that his brother died at Bassorah and that his wife bore him a son. This is the man for his daughter. But the Sultan thought it was an excuse and planned to have her marry one of his meanest men. He married her to a Gobbo, a horse-groom, and the wedding procession is due today.

The Jinniyah says the Ifrit lies, as there is none the fairer than Hasan. The Ifrit says he is, yet none deserves the lady than Hasan. They agree to put the two aside to compare. Hasan is brought to Cairo. When Hasan wakes up and finds out he is not with his father’s tomb, he is soothed by the Ifrit. The Ifrit brings him a rich garment and tells him he should mingle with the people at the Hamman-door and stand at the right-hand of the Hunchback. He can by off the nurses and tirewomen with gold which should appear in his pockets. Hasan does so and when he stands next to the Hunchback people agrees Hasan is more suitable for the lady than the Hunchback, whom they damned.

The Wazir’s daughter enters the room and her tirewomen are amazed by the beauty and splendour of Hasan. The Gobbo sits by himself enraged. The Wazir’s daughter prays to Allah that this man will be her husband and not the Hunchback. The wedding guests are dismissed and Hasan and the Hunchback remain. The Hunchback says to Hasan it is time to leave, which he does. He meets the Ifrit at the door who says that he should wait till the Hunchback goes to the ‘closet of ease’, or bathroom, and go to the lady and tell her that he is her husband and unveil her.

When the Hunchback is at the closet of ease the Ifrit comes in the form of mouse to him, changes into a cat then into a dog then an ass then a buffalo. He blocks the door and asks why he marries his lady. The Hunchback answers he was forced. The Ifrit says the Hunchback should not leave this room tonight and don’t utter a word his neck will be wrung. After this night the Hunchback should leave a never return. The Ifrit leaves with the warning he will be watching the Gobbo.

An old woman attending the lady asks the Hunchback to arise and take what God has given him. She then goes away. Sitt al-Husn, who is the lady, expects the Hunchback but finds Hasan. She asks him who is her husband and Hasan states that everything was done to ward off the evil eye. She whispers to him that he has quenched a fire which has tortured her. They strip and Hasan puts his thousand dinars from the Jew on the edge of the bedding. They embrace each other and he finds Sitt al-Husn ‘unpierced’ and she conceives by him.

When the two are asleep the Ifrit brings Hasan back to where he came from, clad only in his blue shirt. Dawn is nigh and the Ifrits flee in haste. The Ifrit is consumed by the fire of Allah, but the Ifritah can escape with Badr al-Din. She places him at a gate of Damascus and disappears.

Badr is found by people passing by, he asks them where he is. He tells them he was in Cairo upon and the people think he hallucinates or is a madman. He flees into a cook-shop. The Cook hears his wondrous story and buys him clothes. He adopts Badr and with a Kazi he declares the man his son and he is known in the city as being the Cook’s son.

The Lady of Beauty wakes up in the morning finding no Hasan next to her expecting him to be in the privy room. She waits until her father enters. He wants to kills her when he hear his daughter speaking happily about the previous night, thinking she means the horse-groom. She denies this and says the man who took her virginity is in the draughthouse. The Wazir finds the Hunchback in the privy. The Gobbo asks for forgiveness from the Ifrit, but the Wazir says he is no Ifrit but the bride’s father. The Hunchback tells what happened to him and he flies away running to the Sultan telling him all that had befallen him. The Wazir finds Badr al-Din’s turband, one which is only worn by Wazirs.  In it he finds the thousand dinars, the letter to the Jew and the letter from his brother explaining everything. He now understand it was the son of his brother who was in his daughter’s chamber last night. He goes to the Sultan and tells him everything. The Sultan marvels and orders the story to be recorded. The Wazir arranges a chamber with the furniture set like it was in his daughter’s chamber and leaves Badr al-Din’s things in the room. He then locks the chamber. Eventually the Lady of Beauty gives birth to a son whom she names Ajib, the Wonderful.

When Ajib is seven years old he bullies other children that he is the son of a Wazir, and none is like him. The Monitor, or assistant master, tells the children to mock him for having no father as he is a bastard. So the children play the game of naming your mother and father. Ajib claims Shams al-Din being his father, but the children make a fool of him as he is not Ajib’s father. The Monitor tells him that until he knows who his father is, he is like the other children. The Monitor tells him that a Jinni came and slept with his mother. He goes crying with his mother and asks her who his father is. After trying to tell him Shams is his father, she cries with her son. Her father enters and asks what is the matter. When he hears what has passed he asks the Sultan for permission to find Ajib’s father with his daughter and grandson, which he gets.

Finally Shams al-Din comes to the city of Damascus. Ajib with an attending Eunuch go into the city and the people marvelled at his beauty. Destiny makes the Eunuch go opposite Badr’s shop. The Cook had died and Badr, having grown a beard, has taken over the shop. He invites this beautiful boy into his house. He is in tears because he sees in his boy what he could have become. Ajib wants to enter the shop because he thinks it might help him finding his father, but the Eunuch advises against it. Surely sons of Wazirs should not eat in cook-shops? But Badr recites a verse upon which the Eunuch is marvelled and enters the shop. Ajib tells of his searching of his father and they all weep. When Ajib leaves the shop, Badr feels as if his soul has left his shop so he follows Ajib and the Eunuch. The Eunuch is angered as it is what he feared, for the vulgar are ever vulgar. But Ajib says that they will walk on and see if he keeps following them.

When Badr keeps following Ajib he becomes agree, he thinks his father’s eye is treacherous, as being not what it seems, and redoubles his rage. He then strikes Badr on the forehead and blood comes gushing out its wounds and he falls to the ground. When he wakes up he returns back to his shop and busies himself again in selling his sweetmeats.

The Wazir Shams al-Din moves on and after a long travel comes to Bassorah. At the Sultan he inquires after Nur al-Din. The Sultan says he was his Wazir and his son was only Wazir for a month after which he disappeared. But his mother is still there and Shams is taken to her. When he comes to the place he finds Badr al-Din’s wife weeping and he asks her to come with him to Egypt. She complies and they return. On their way home they stop again at Damascus.

Ajib asks his Eunuch to go to the Bazar and see if they can find the cook whose sweetmeats they ate and skull broke. They find him and Ajib tells him he must know his heart is with him. Badr again invites them for sweetmeats. Ajib complies under condition that he will not follow them afterwards, which Badr does. However, Badr keeps staring at Ajib, who thinks Badr is a dotard. When Ajib returns to his mother he is not hungry and does not eat. Ajib and the Eunuch admit they have been in a simple cook shop and ate a wonderful meal there, better than Ajib’s mother’s. After torturing the Eunuch tells the Wazir that he has never eaten such wonderful pomegranate-seeds. He has to bring some of them to the Wazir so they can compare the cook’s with Sitt al-Husn’s.  When the Eunuch brings the dish to Badr’s mother she recognises Badr’s hand in the dish and says the cook must be her son Badr al-Din Hasan. The Wazir rejoices upon hearing this and sends fifty servants to demolish the cook-shop, tie him and bring him to the Wazir without hurting him.

The Wazir goes to the Palace and shows the Viceroy the paper he got from the Sultan. The Viceroy asks the Wazir who the offender is and Wazir says the cook. So when the Viceroy’s men come to the shop they find it in pieces. The Wazir quickly returns to his tent where he sees Badr. Badr asks what he could have possibly done wrong. He is put into a chest and put on a camel until they are back in Cairo. The Wazir then commands a wooden cross for the Cook to be crucified, become the pomegranate seeds lacked pepper. Badr is put into the chest again and brought to the Wazir’s house. He orders his daughter to prepare the house as it was during her bridal night. When her uncle’s son enters the room she has to say that he has loitered while going to the privy. She has to converse with him till the Wazir arrives.

When Badr al-Din Hasan awakes he thinks he is in a dream. He sees the bride and his turband and all his clothes. The Lady of Beauty tells him he was only away for an hour and Badr tells her he has been dreaming he was a cook in Damascus for ten years, but he feels the scar on his head done by Ajib and must affirm it was all true. Confusedly he lies besides Sitt al-Husn, thinking he was dreaming and then that he was awake. When the Wazir enters he recognises him as the man who wanted to crusify him for putting too little pepper on the pomegranate-seeds. And the Wazir says that he is really his brother’s son and this all was done to find out he is really that son. Badr is also shown his son Ajib.

The Wazir goes to the Sultan and tells him the story upon which the Sultan is rejoiced. Hasan the Bassorite, as Badr calls himself, presents himself excellently to the Sultan. He answers the questions of the Sultan well, and gives wise answers to his riddles. The Sultan affirms Badr al-Din Hasan is perfect in courtly breeding. He proclaims Hasan his boon-companion and Badr al-Din Hasan the Bassorite waxed high in honour in all comfort and solace and delight of life till Death overtakes him.

From The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night — Volume 01

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