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 Emir Musa then entered the gate, and with him half of the people, who bore their weapons of war. And the party saw their companions lying dead: so they buried them. They saw also the gate-keepers and servants and chamberlains and lieutenants lying upon beds of silk, all of them dead. And they entered the market of the city, and beheld a great market, with lofty buildings, none of which projected beyond another: the shops were open, and the scales hung up, and the utensils of brass ranged in order, and the khans were full of all kinds of goods. And they saw the merchants dead in their shops: their skins were dried, and their bones were carious, and they had become examples of him who would be admonished. They saw likewise four markets of particular shops filled with wealth. And they left this place, and passed on to the silk-market, in which were silks and brocades interwoven with red gold and white silver upon various colours, and the owners were dead, lying upon skins, and appearing almost as though they would speak. Leaving these, they went on to the market of jewels and pearls and jacinths; and they left it, and passed on to the market of the money-changers, whom they found dead, with varieties of silks beneath them, and their shops were filled with gold and silver. These they left, and they proceeded to the market of the perfumers; and, lo, their shops were filled with varieties of perfumes, and bags of musk, and ambergris, and aloes-wood, and nedd, and camphor, and other things; and the owners were all dead, not having with them any food. And when they went forth from the market of the perfumers, they found near unto it a palace, decorated, and strongly constructed; and they entered it, and found banners unfurled, and drawn swords, and strung bows, and shields hung up by chains of gold and silver, and helmets gilded with red gold. And in the passages of that palace were benches of ivory, ornamented with plates of brilliant gold, and with silk, on which were men whose skins had dried upon the bones: the ignorant would imagine them to be sleeping; but, from the want of food, they had died, and tasted mortality. Upon this, the Emir Musa paused, extolling the perfection of God (whose name be exalted!), and his holiness, and contemplating the beauty of that palace, and its strong construction, and its wonderful fabrication in the most beautiful form and with the firmest architecture; and most of its decoration was in ultramarine. Around it were inscribed these verses:
Consider what thou beholdest, O man; and be on thy guard before thou departest; And prepare good provision, that thou mayest enjoy it; for every dweller in a house shall depart.
Consider a people who decorated their abodes, and in the dust have become pledged for their actions. They built; but their buildings availed not: and treasured; but their wealth did not save them when the term had expired. How often they hoped for what was not decreed them! But they passed to the graves, and hope did not profit them; And from their high and glorious state they were removed to the narrowness of the sepulchre. Evil is their abode! Then there came to them a crier, after they were buried, saying, Where are the thrones and the crowns and the apparel? Where are the faces which were veiled and curtained, and on which, for their beauty, proverbs were composed?- And the grave plainly answered the inquirer for them, As to the cheeks, the rose is gone from them. Long time they ate and drank; but now, after pleasant eating, they themselves have been eaten.
And the Emir Musa wept until he became senseless; and afterwards, having given orders to write these verses, he went on into the interior of the palace. There he beheld a great hall, and four large and lofty chambers, each one fronting another, wide, decorated with gold and silver and with various colours. In the midst of the hall was a great fountain of alabaster, over which was a canopy of brocade; and in those chambers were places [one in each chamber] containing decorated fountains, and tanks lined with marble; and channels of water flowed along the floors of those chambers, the four streams meeting together in a great tank lined with marbles of various colours.-The Emir Musa then said to the sheykh 'Abd-Es-Samad, Enter these chambers with us. So they entered the first chamber; and they found it filled with gold and with white silver, and pearls and jewels, and jacinths and precious minerals. They found in it also chests full of red and yellow and white brocades. And they went thence to the second chamber, and opened a closet in it, and, lo, it was filled with arms and weapons of war, consisting of gilded helmets, and Davidean coats of mail, and Indian swords, and lances of Khatt Hejer, and maces of Khuwarezm, and other instruments of war and battle. Then they passed thence to the third chamber, in which they found closets having upon their doors closed locks, and over them were curtains worked with various kinds of embroidery. They opened one of these closets, and found it filled with weapons decorated with vaneties of gold and silver and jewels. And they went thence to the fourth chamber, where also they found closets, one of which they opened, and they found it full of utensils for food and drink, consisting of various vessels of gold and silver, and saucers of crystal, and cups set with brilliant pearls, and cups of carnelian, and other things. So they began to take what suited them of those things, and each of the soldiers carried off what he could. And when they determined to go forth from those chambers, they saw there a door of saj inlaid with ivory and ebony, and adorned with plates of brilliant gold, in the midst of that palace. Over it was hung a curtain of silk worked with various kinds of embroidery, and upon it were locks of white silver, to be opened by artifice, without a key. The sheykh 'Abd-Es-Samad therefore advanced to those locks, and he opened them by his knowledge and boldness and excellent skill. And the party entered a passage paved with marble, upon the sides of which were curtains whereon were figured various wild beasts and birds, all these being worked with red gold and white silver, and their eyes were of pearls and jacinths: whosoever beheld them was confounded. Next they came to a saloon, on beholding which the Emir Musa and the sheykh 'Abd-Es-Samad were amazed at its construction.