By Sir Richard Francis Burton

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Sample text

So arch-thief Ahmad Kamakin waited till midnight, when Canopus shone bright, and all creatures to sleep were dight whilst the Creator veiled them with the veil of night. Then he took his drawn sword in his right and his grappling hook in his left and, repairing to the Caliph's sitting-saloon planted his scaling ladder and cast his grapnel on to the side of the terrace-roof; then, raising the trap-door, let himself down into the saloon, where he found the eunuchs asleep. He drugged them with hemp-fumes;[FN#93] and, taking the Caliph's dress; dagger, rosary, kerchief, signet-ring and the lanthorn whereupon were the pearls, returned whence he came and betook himself to the house of Ala al-Din, who had that night celebrated his wedding festivities with Jessamine and had gone in unto her and gotten her with child.

She was lying at full length on the ground and, when he put his hand to her breast, he found her dead. " He replied, "O my father, may thy head outlive thy daughter Zubaydah! " So when the morning dawned, they buried her in the earth and her husband and father condoled with and mutually consoled each other. Thus far concerning her; but as regards Ala al-Din he donned mourning dress and declined the Divan, abiding tearful-eyed and heavy-hearted at home. " "I hear and I obey," replied Ja'afar. '" When the Caliph had made an end of condoling with him, he charged him not to absent himself from the Divan and returned to his palace.

That will I," answered she and, going out from her, repaired to her son. " Now this was the first night of the new month, and it was the custom of the Caliph to spend that night with the Lady Zubaydah, for the setting free of a slave-girl or a Mameluke or something of the sort. Moreover, on such occasions he used to doff his royal-habit, together with his rosary and dagger-sword and royal-signet, and set them all upon a chair in the sittingsaloon: and he had also a golden lanthorn, adorned with three jewels strung on a wire of gold, by which he set great store; and he would commit all these things to the charge of the eunuchry, whilst he went into the Lady Zubaydah's apartment.

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