Saturday, 17 September 2016


(The story  of a poor Chinese Muslim boy who dreamt to marry the King's daughter, Bedr al-Budur)

Lane, Edward William, trans. Stories from the Thousand and One Nights. Ed. Stanley Lane-Poole and Charles W. Eliot. Vol. XVI. New York: P.F. Collier & Son, 1909-14. Print. The Harvard Classics.

HAVE heard, O King of the Age, that there dwelt in a city of China a poor tailor who had a son named ‘Ala-ed-Din. Now this boy had been a scatter-brained scapegrace from his birth. And when he had come to his tenth year his father wished to teach him a handicraft; and being too poor to afford to spend money on him for learning an art or craft or business, he took him into his own shop to learn his trade of tailoring. But ‘Ala-ed-Din, being a careless boy, and always given to playing with the urchins of the street, would not stay in the shop a single day, but used to watch till his father went out on business or to meet a customer, and then would run off to the gardens along with his fellow-ragamuffins. Such was his case.................................

 ‘Ala-ed-Din waited patiently till his mother had ended her speech, and then said: “O my mother, all that thou recallest I know, and it is familiar to me that I am the son of the poor; but all these thy words cannot change my purpose in the least, nor do I the less expect of thee, as I am thy son and thou lovest me, to do me this kindness; otherwise thou wilt undo me, and speedy death is upon me; unless I obtain my desire of the darling of my heart; and in any case, O my mother, I am thy child.” And when she heard his words she wept in her grief for him, and said: “O my son, yea verily I am thy mother, nor have I child or blood of my blood save thee; and the height of my desire is to rejoice in thee and wed thee to a wife; but if I seek to ask for thee a bride of our equals and peers, they will ask at once if thou hast trade or merchandise or land or garden, to live on. And what can I answer them? And if I cannot answer the poor people, our likes, how shall I venture upon this hazard and dare this impertinence, O my son, and by what means shall I ask for thee of the Sultan his daughter, and howsoever shall I compass access to the Sultan’s presence? And if they question me, what shall I answer? And probably they will take me for a mad woman. And supposing I gain access to the presence, what shall I take him as an offering to his Majesty?  .........

And after a time the Sultan died, and ‘Ala-ed-Din sat on the royal throne and ruled and administered justice to the subjects, and all the people loved him, and he lived with his wife, the Lady Bedr-el-Budur, in perfect peace and happiness, till they were visited by the terminator of delights and the separator of companions.

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