X. Story of King Shahryar and his brother

Two brother Kings, Shahriyar  and Shah Zaman, each rule their own country. One day the younger goes visiting the elder, but just before he leaves he finds his wife, the Queen cheating on him with a black cook. He kills them both and then goes to his brother. He does not tell him anything but is very melancholy. When his brother goes hunting he stays in the palace and finds his brother’s wife being adulterous with a hideous blackamoor. He forgets his minor sorrow and with new fervour tells his brother the story. They both go to the seaside where they encounter an Ifrit. They hide in a tree and find out he has a captive lady. When the Ifrit sleeps the lady sees them in the tree, she says they must come out of the tree and have her otherwise she will awaken the Ifrit, who will then kill them. They are reluctant, but eventually mount her. She tells them she has been imprisoned by the Ifrit to keep her chaste but has had many men so far and keeps many seal rings of other men and asks for theirs. They give them to her and leave. Shahriyar then orders to let his wife be killed and vows he will slay every wife with whom he shared the night. In the end almost all the virgins of the city are dead and then Sharahzad, daughter of the King’s Wazir wants to go. Her father declines and tells her a story about wit and wisdom, about a Bull and an Ass. She still wants to marry the King and in the end the Wazir consents. When Sharahzad is with the King she starts weeping and asks for his sister Dunyazad, whom she has instructed to ask for a story. The King admits the younger sister and removes the bridal maidenhead of Sharahzad. At midnight, Dunyazad asks for a story which Sharahzad tells after the King’s consent and so the first night of the Thousand and one Night begins.

There is a King of Kings of Banu Sasan in the Islands of India and China who had two sons, Shahriyar and Shah Zaman. Shahriyar, who is the strongest and eldest, succeeded his father. His younger brother is made King of Samarcand by Shahriyar. Each rules his own country, but one day King Shahriyar wants to see his brother, but his Wazir advises against it and lets his brother come to King Shahriyar. So Shahriyar prepares a caravan to be sent to his brother with the Wazir. When he arrives Shah Zaman says he will obey the commands, but lets the Wazir stay for three days out of hospitality. He makes his camels and tents ready, but when he returns to the palace, because he forgot something, he finds the Queen, his wife, in bed with a black cook. He cuts the two in four pieces with one blow of his scimitar, and departs without letting anyone know.

When Shah Zaman arrives at Shahriyar’s court he will not tell his brother what has happened, except that he has ‘an inner wound’. One day Shahriyar goes to hunt, but his brother declines to go with him. At night he looks out from his window pondering over the loss of his wife when twenty slave girls with his brother’s wife enter the garden. When the Queen is left alone, she cries for lord Saeed. A hideous blackamoor appears and the Queen embraces him after which he enjoys her. Other slaves have their passions satisfied with the slave-girls. After watching this scene, Shah Zaman puts aside his own lighter calamity. He strengthens himself with food and rest, and when his brother returns after ten days from the hunt, he rides out to meet him. King Shahriyar is pleased to see colour has returned in the face of his brother. Shah Zaman says he will tell his brother why he was so melancholy. After his own story he relates what he saw in the garden and invites his brother to watch the scene himself. Shahriyar sets his Wazir in disguise in his stead for three days, leaves the palace with his brother and they both return in secret. They watch the same scene enfolding as before.

The brothers set off for a second private postern and sit by a tree at the sea-side. Then they hear a mighty roar and a black pillar towers from the sea. They fearfully climb in the tree and see a Jinni appear with a coffer of crystal on his head. The Jinni sits himself at the tree and draws out of his coffer a casket with seven padlocks of steel. He then unlocks them with seven keys of steel and out of it comes a young lady. The Jinni tells his lady, snatched from her bride night, he loves her. He lays his head on his lady’s thighs and falls asleep.

The lady spots the two Kings in the tree and says it is safe to come down. She then says to have her otherwise she will arouse the Ifrit and he will kill them. They are reluctant to do this deed, but she keeps threatening them and they mount her. Then she draws five hundred and seventy seal rings and says that these are the seal rings of all the men that had her. So she asks for the seal rings of the brother, which they give her. She tells them the Ifrit keeps her locked because she might remain chaste. She returns to the Jinni and lays his head on her again. When they are gone from the lady and the Ifrit they come to the conclusion that even a powerful being like an Ifrit has a lady who has her own way. They decide never to marry again. King Shahriyar lets his Wazir kill his wife, the Queen, and slays the blackamoor, concubines and their mamalukes. He also swears that whatever wife he marries, he will kill her after taking her maidenhead.

King Shah Zaman returns home and Shahriyar  asks for the bride of the night and kills her the next morning. This goes on for three years and folk rise an outcry against the King and curse him. One day the Wazir has to find another virgin but can’t find one anymore. He himself has two daughters, Shahrazad and Dunyazad, of whom the elder had read a lot of books. She is wise and witty and when the Wazir relates his story she says she wants him to give her in marriage to the King. She will either live or be ransom for all the virgins. The Wazir is reluctant to do so because it reminds him of the story of the Bull and the Ass.

Tale of the Bull and the Ass

After telling the tale the Wazir threatens to do with her what the merchant did to his wife, but she is resilient. She threatens him by saying she will tell the King she wants to marry him, but that her father does not want her to. The Wazir goes to his King and relates the story. The King is amazed as he has made an exception for the Wazir’s daughter. The Wazir says she insisted and Shahriyar rejoices. Shahrazad instructs her sister to ask for a story when she is with the King.

When Shahrazad and the King are in bed and he wants to get in to her she starts to weep. He asks what is wrong. She says she would like to see her sister before she sees the dawn. Dunyazad is brought and the King removes the bride’s maidenhead. But at midnight Dunyazad asks for a story. Sharahzad is willing to tell her if the King consents, which he does. And so the first night of the Thousand Nights and a Night begins.


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