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 most wonderful of the events that happened to me in my younger days was this:-I was residing in Damascus, where I learnt and practised my art; and while I was thus occupied, one day there came to me a memluk from the house of the governor of the city: so I went forth with him, and accompanied him to the abode of the governor. I entered, and beheld, at the upper end of a saloon, a couch of alabaster overlaid with plates of gold, upon which was reclining a sick man: he was young; and a person more comely had not been seen in his age. Seating myself at his head, I ejaculated a prayer for his restoration; and he made a sign to me with his eye. I then said to him, O my master, stretcH forth to me thy hand:-whereupon he put forth to me fiis left hand; and I was surprised at this, and said within myself, What self-conceit! I felt his pulse, however, and wrote a prescription for him, and continued to visit him for a period of ten days, until he recovered his strength; when he entered the bath, and washed himself, and came forth: and the governor conferred upon me a handsome dress of honour, and appointed me superintendent of the hospital of Damascus. But when I went with him into the bath, which they had cleared of all other visitors for us alone, and the servants had brought the clothes, and taken away those which he had pulled off within, I perceived that his right hand had been cruelly amputated; at the sight of which I twondered, and grieved for him; and looking at his skin, I observed upon him marks of beating with mikr'ahs, which caused me to wonder more. The young man then turned towards me, and said, O doctor of the age, wonder not at my case; for I will relate to thee my story when we have gone out from the bath:-and when we had gone forth, and arrived at the house, and had eaten some food, and rested, he said to me, Hast thou a desire to divert thyself in the supper-room? I answered, Yes:-and immediately he ordered the slaves to take up thither the furniture, and to roast a lamb and bring us some fruit. So the slaves did as he commanded them: and when they had brought the fruit, and we had eaten, I said to him, Relate to me thy story:- and he replied, O doctor of the age, listen to the relation of the events which have befallen me.
Know that I am of the children of El-Mosil. My paternal grandfather died leaving ten male children, one of whom was my father: he was the eldest of them, and they all grew up and married; and my father was blest with me; but none of his nine brothers was blest with children. So I grew up among my uncles, who delighted in me exceedingly ; and when I had attained to manhood, I was one day with my father in the chief mosque of El-Mosil. The day was Friday; and we performed the congregational prayers, and all the people went out, except my father and my uncles, who sat conversing together respecting the wonders of various countries, and the strange sights of different cities, until they mentioned Egypt; when one of my uncles said, The travellers assert, that there is not on the face of the earth a more agreeable country than Egypt with its Nile:- and my father added, He who hath not seen Cairo hath not seen the world: its soil is gold; its Nile is a wonder; its women are like the black-eyed virgins of Paradise; its houses are palaces; and its air is temperate; its odour surpassing that of aloes-wood, and cheering the heart: and how can Cairo be otherwise when it is the metropolis of the world? Did ye see its gardens in the evening (he continued), with the shade obliquely extending over them, ye would behold a wonder, and yield with ecstasy to their attractions.
When I heard these descriptions of Egypt, my mind became wholly engaged by reflections upon that country; and after they had departed to their homes, I passed the night sleepless from my excessive longing towards it, and neither food nor drink was pleasant to me. A few days after, my uncles prepared to journey thither, and I wept before my father that I might go with them, so that he prepared a stock of merchandise for me, and I departed in their company; but he said to them, Suffer him not to enter Egypt, but leave him at Damascus, that he may there sell his merchandise.
I took leave of my father, and we set forth from El-Mosil, and continued our journey until we arrived at Aleppo, where we remained some days; after which we proceeded thence until we came to Damascus; and we beheld it to be a city with trees and rivers and fruits and birds, as though it were a paradise, containing fruits of every kind. We took lodgings in one of the Khans, and my uncles remained there until they had sold and bought; and they also sold my merchandise, gaining, for every piece of silver, five, so that I rejoiced at my profit. My uncles then left me, and repaired to Egypt, and I remained and took up my abode in a handsome Ka'ah, such as the tongue cannot describe; the monthly rent of which was two pieces of gold.
Here I indulged myself with eating and drinking, squandering away the money that was in my possession; and as I was sitting one day at the door of the Ka'ah, a damsel approached me, attired in clothing of the richest description, such as I had never seen surpassed in costliness, and I invited her to come in; whereupon, without hesitation, she entered; and I was delighted at her compliance, and closed the door upon us both. She then uncovered her face, and took off her izar, and I found her to be so surprisingly beautiful that love for her took possession of my heart: so I went and brought a repast consisting of the most delicious viands and fruit and everything else that was requisite for her entertainment, and we ate and sported together; after which we drank till we were intoxicated, and fell asleep, and so we remained until the morning, when I handed her ten pieces of gold; but she swore that she would not accept them from me, and said, Expect me again, O my beloved, after three days: at the hour of sunset I will be with thee: and do thou prepare for us, with these pieces of gold, a repast similar to this which we have just enjoyed. She then gave me ten pieces of gold, and took leave of me, and departed, taking my reason with her. And after the three days had expired, she came again, decked with embroidered stuffs and ornaments and other attire more magnificent than those which she wore on the former occasion. I had prepared for her what was required previously to her arrival; so we now ate and drank and fell asleep as before; and in the morning she gave me again ten pieces of gold, promising to return to me after three more days. I therefore made ready what was requisite, and after the three days she came attired in a dress still more magnificent than the first and secorid, and said to me, O my master, am I beautiful?-Yea, verily, I answered.- Wilt thou give me leave, she rejoined, to bring with me a damsel more beautiful than myself, and younger than I, that she may sport with us, and we may make merry with her? For she hath requested that she may accompany me, and pass the night in frolicking with us.-And so saying, she gave me twenty pieces of gold, desiring me to prepare a more plentiful repast, on account of the lady who was to come with her; after which, she bade me farewell, and departed.