This section is from the book "Stories From The Thousand And One Nights", by Edward William Lane and Stanley Lanepoole. Also available from Amazon: Stories From Thousand And One Nights: The Arabian Nights' Entertainments.
The Khalifeh then said, By my forefathers, I will not pass the remainder of my night but with him, for he is a just man, who frequenteth the sheykhs, and attendeth to the poor, and favoureth the indigent; and I imagine all his acquaintances are with him this night: so I must repair to him: perhaps one of them may offer up for us a prayer productive of good to us in this world and the next; and probably some advantage may accrue to him from my presence, and he will receive pleasure from this, together with his friends.-O Prince of the Faithful, replied Ja'far, the greater part of the night hath passed, and they are now about to disperse. But the Khalifeh said, We must go to them. And Ja'far was silent, and was perplexed in his mind, not knowing what to do. So the Khalifeh rose upon his feet, and Ja'far rose and preceded him, and Mesrur the eunuch went with them. The three walked on reflecting, and, departing from the palace, proceeded through the streets, in the attire of merchants, until they arrived at the gate of the garden above mentioned; and the Khalifeh, approaching it, found it open; and he was surprised, and said, See, O Ja'far, how the sheykh Ibrahim hath left the gate open until this hour, which is not his usual custom. They then entered, and came to the end of the garden, where they stopped beneath the palace; and the Khalifeh said, O Ja'far, I desire to take a view of them secretly before I go up to them, that I may see how the sheykhs are occupied in the dispensing of their blessings and the employment of their miraculous powers; for they have qualities which distinguish them both in their private retirements and in their public exercises; and now we hear not their voices, nor discover any indication of their presence. Having thus said, he looked around, and, seeing a tall walnut-tree, he said, O
Ja'far, I would climb this tree (for its branches are neat to the windows) and look at them. And accordingly he ascended the tree, and climbed from branch to branch until he came to that which was opposite to one of the windows, and there he sat, and, looking in through this window of the palace, beheld a damsel and a young man, Hke two moons (extolled be the perfection of Him who created them!) ; and he saw the sheykh Ibrahim sitting with a cup in his hand, and saying, O mistress of beauties, drinking unaccompanied by merry sounds is not pleasant. Hast thou not heard the saying of the poet ?
Circulate it in the large cup, and in the small; and receive it from the hand of the shining moon;4
And drink not without merry sounds; for I have observed that horses drink to the sound of whistling.
When the Khalifeh witnessed this conduct of the sheykh Ibrahim, the vein of anger swelled between his eyes, and he descended, and said, O Ja'far, I have never seen anything of the miraculous performances of the just such as I have beheld this night: ascend, therefore, thyself also, into this tree, and look, lest the blessings of the just escape thee.-On hearing the words of the Prince of the Faithful, Ja'far was perplexed at his situation; and he climbed up into the tree, and looked, and saw Nur-ed-Din and the sheykh Ibrahim and the damsel, and the sheykh Ibrahim had the cup in his hand. As soon as he beheld this, he made sure of destruction; and he descended, and stood before the Prince of the Faithful, and the Khalifeh said, O Ja'far, praise be to God who hath made us to be of the number of those who follow the external ordinances of the holy law, and averted from us the sin of disguising ourselves by the practice of hypocrisy! But Ja'far was unable to reply, from his excessive confusion. The Khalifeh then looked towards him, and said, Who can have brought these persons hither, and admitted them into my palace? But the like of this young man and this damsel, in beauty and loveliness and symmetry of form, mine eye hath never beheld.-Ja'far, now conceiving a hope that the Khalifeh might be propitiated, replied, Thou hast spoken truly, O Prince of the Faithful. And the Khalifeh said, O Ja'far, climb up with us upon this branch which is opposite them, that we may amuse ourselves by observing them. So they both climbed up into the tree, and, looking at them, heard the shevkh Ibrahim sav. O mv mistress. I haverelinquished decorum by the drinking of wine; but the pleasure of this is not complete without the melodious sounds of stringed instruments.-O sheykh Ibrahim, replied Enis-el- Jelis, by Allah, if we had any musical instrument, our happiness were perfect. And when the sheykh Ibrahim heard her words, he rose upon his feet-The Khalifeh said to Ja'far, What may he be going to do? Ja'far replied, I know not.- And the sheykh Ibrahim went away, and returned with a lute; and the Khalifeh, looking attentively at it, saw that it was the lute of Ishak the cup-companion; and said, By Allah, if this damsel sing not well, I will crucify you all; but if she sing well, I will pardon them, and crucify thee. So Ja'far said, O Allah, let her not sing well!-Why ? asked the Khalifeh,-That thou mayest crucify all of us, answered Ja'far; and then we shall cheer one another by conversation. And the Khalifeh laughed: and the damsel took the lute, and tuned its strings, and played upon it in a manner that would melt iron, and inspire an idiot with intellect; after which she sang with such sweetness that the Khalifeh exclaimed, O Ja'far, never in my life have I heard so enchanting a voice as this! -Perhaps, said Ja'far, the anger of the Khalifeh hath departed from him?-Yea, he answered; it hath departed. He then descended with Ja'far from the tree, and, looking towards him, said, I am desirous of going up to them, to sit with them, and to hear the damsel sing before me.-O Prince of the Faithful, replied Ja'far, if thou go up to them, probably they will be troubled by thy presence; and as to the sheykh Ibrahim, he will assuredly die of fear. The Khalifeh therefore said, O Ja'far, thou must acquaint me with some stratagem by means of which I may learn the truth of the affair without their knowing that I have discovered them.