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.
And when he came back to the troops, they passed the day devising means of entering the city; and the Emir Musa said to his Wezir, Talib the son of Sahl, and to those of his chief officers, who were around him, How shall we contrive to enter the city, that we may see its wonders ? Perhaps we shall find in it something by which we may ingratiate ourselves with the Prince of the Faithful.-Talib the son of Sahl replied, May God continue the prosperity of the Emir! Let us make a ladder, and mount upon it, and perhaps we shall gain access to the gate from within.-And the Emir said, This is what occurred to my mind, and excellent is the advice. Then he called to the carpenters and blacksmiths, and ordered them to make straight some pieces of wood, and to construct a ladder covered with plates of iron. And they did so, and made it strong. They employed themselves in constructing it a whole month, and many men were occupied in making it. And they set it up and fixed it against the wall, and it proved to be equal to the wall in height, as though it had been made for it before that day. So the Emir Musa wondered at it, and said, God bless you! It seemeth, from the excellence of your work, as though ye had adapted it by measurement to the wall.
He then said to the people, Which of you will ascend this ladder, and mount upon the wall, and walk along it, and contrive means of descending into the city, that he may see how the case is, and then inform us of the mode of opening the gate? And one of them answered, I will ascend it, O Emir, and descend and open the gate. The Emir therefore replied, Mount. God bless thee!-Accordingly, the man ascended the ladder until he reached the top of it; when he stood, and fixed his eyes towards the city, clapped his hands, and cried out with his loudest voice, saying, Thou art beautiful! Then he cast himself down into the city, and his flesh became mashed with his bones. So the Emir Musa said, This is the action of the rational. How then will the insane act? If we do thus with all our companions, there will not remain of them one; and we shall be unable to accomplish our affair, and the affair of the Prince of the Faithful. Depart ye; for we have no concern with this city.-But one of them said, Perhaps another than this may be more steady than he. And a second ascended, and a third, and a fourth, and a fifth; and they ceased not to ascend by that ladder to the top of the wall, one after another, until twelve men of them had gone, acting as acted the first Therefore the sheykh 'Abd-Es-Samad said, There is none for this affair but myself, and the experienced is not like the inexperienced. But the Emir Musa said to him, Thou shalt not do that, nor will I allow thee to ascend to the top of this wall; for shouldst thou die, thou wouldst be the cause of the death of us all, and there would not remain of us one; since thou art the guide of the party. The sheykh however replied, Perhaps the object will be accomplished by my means, through the will of God (whose name be exalted!) And thereupon all the people agreed to his ascending.
Then the sheykh 'Abd-Es-Samad arose, and encouraged himself, and, having said, In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful!-he ascended the ladder, repeating the praises of God (whose name be exalted!), and reciting the Verses of Safety, until he reached the top of the wall; when he clapped his hands, and fixed his eyes. The people therefore all called out to him, and said, O sheykh 'Abd-Es-Samad, do it not, and cast not thyself down! And they said. Verily to God we belong, and verily unto Him we return! If the sheykh 'Abd-Es-Samad fall, we all perish!
Then the sheykh 'Abd-Es-Samad laughed immoderately, and sat a long time repeating the praises of God (whose name be exalted!), and reciting the Verses of Safety; after which he rose with energy, and called out with his loudest voice, O Emir, no harm shall befall you; for God (to whom be ascribed might and glory!) hath averted from me the effect of the artifice and fraudulence of the Devil, through the blessing resulting from the utterance of the words, In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful.-So the Emir said to him, What hast thou seen, O sheykh ? He answered, When I reached the top of the wall, I beheld ten damsels, like moons, who made a sign with their hands, as though they would say, Come to us. And it seemed to me that beneath me was a sea (or great river) of water; whereupon I desired to cast myself down, as our companions did: but I beheld them dead; so I withheld myself from them, and recited some words of the book of God (whose name be exalted!), whereupon God averted from me the influence of those damsels' artifice, and they departed from me; therefore I cast not myself down, and God repelled from me the effect of their artifice and enchantment. There is no doubt that this is an enchantment and an artifice which the people of this city contrived in order to repel from it every one who should desire to look down upon it, and wish to obtain access to it; and these our companions are laid dead.
He then walked along the wall till he came to the two towers of brass, when he saw that they had two gates of gold, without locks upon them, or any sign of the means of opening them. Therefore the sheykh paused as long as God willed, and, looking attentively, he saw in the middle of one of the.gates a figure of a horseman of brass, having one hand extended, as though he were pointing with it, and on it was an inscription, which the sheykh read, and, lo, it contained these words:-Turn the pin that is in the middle of the front of the horseman's body twelve times, and then the gate will open. So he examined the horseman, and in the middle of the front of his body was a pin, strong, firm, well fixed; and he turned it twelve times; whereupon the gate opened immediately, with a noise like thunder; and the sheykh 'Abd-Es-Samad entered. He was a learned man, acquainted with all languages and characters. And he walked on until he entered a long passage, whence he descended some steps, and he found a place with handsome wooden benches, on which were people dead, and over their heads were elegant shields, and keen swords, and strung bows, and notched arrows. And behind the [next] gate were a bar of iron, and barricades of wood, and locks of delicate fabric, and strong apparatus. Upon this, the sheykh said within himself, Perhaps the keys are with these people. Then he looked, and, lo, there was a sheykh who appeared to be the oldest of them, and he was upon a high wooden bench among the dead men. So the sheykh 'Abd-Es-Samad said, May not the keys of the city be with this sheykh! Perhaps he was the gate-keeper of the city, and these were under his authority.-He therefore drew near to him, and lifted up his garments, and, lo, the keys were hung to his waist. At the sight of them, the sheykh 'Abd-Es-Samad rejoiced exceedingly; his reason almost fled from him in consequence of his joy; and he took the keys, approached the gate, opened the locks, and pulled the gate and the barricades and other apparatus, which opened, and the gate also opened, with a noise like thunder, by reason of its greatness and terribleness, and the enormousness of its apparatus. Upon this, the sheykh exclaimed, God is most great!-and the people made the same exclamation with him, rejoicing at the event. The Emir Musa also rejoiced at the safety of the sheykh 'Abd-Es-Samad, and at the opening of the gate of the city; the people thanked the sheykh for that which he had done, and all the troops hastened to enter the gate. But the Emir Musa cried out to them, O people, if all of us enter, we shall not be secure from some accident that may happen. Half shall enter, and half shall remain behind.