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Asleep And Awake
by [?]

Asleep and Awake[1]

[Footnote 1] Breslau Text, vol. iv. pp. 134-189, Nights cclxxii.-ccxci. This is the story familiar to readers of the old “Arabian Nights” as “Abon Hassan, or the Sleeper Awakened” and is the only one of the eleven tales added by Galland to his version of the (incomplete) MS. of the Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night procured by him from Syria, the Arabic original of which has yet been discovered. (See my “Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night,” Vol. IX. pp. 264 et seq.) The above title is of course intended to mark the contrast between the everyday (or waking) hours of Aboulhusn and his fantastic life in the Khalif’s palace, supposed by him to have passed in a dream, and may also be rendered “The Sleeper and the Waker.”

There was once [at Baghdad], in the Khalifate of Haroun er Reshid, a man, a merchant, who had a son by name Aboulhusn el Khelia.[2] The merchant died and left his son great store of wealth, which he divided into two parts, one of which he laid up and spent of the other half; and he fell to companying with Persians[3] and with the sons of the merchants and gave himself up to good eating and good drinking, till all that he had with him of wealth[4] was wasted and gone; whereupon he betook himself to his friends and comrades and boon-companions and expounded to them his case, discovering to them the failure of that which was in his hand of wealth; but not one of them took heed of him neither inclined unto him.

[Footnote 2] i.e. The Wag.

[Footnote 3] Always noted for debauchery.

[Footnote 4] i.e. the part he had taken for spending money.

So he returned to his mother (and indeed his spirit was broken), and related to her that which had happened to him and what had betided him from his friends, how they, had neither shared with him nor requited him with speech. “O Aboulhusn,” answered she, “on this wise are the sons[5]of this time: if thou have aught, they make much of thee,[6] and if thou have nought, they put thee away [from them].” And she went on to condole with him, what while he bewailed himself and his tears flowed and he repeated the following verses:

An if my substance fail, no one there is will succour me,
But if my wealth abound, of all I’m held in amity.
How many a friend, for money’s sake, hath companied with me!
How many an one, with loss of wealth, hath turned mine enemy!

[Footnote 5] i.e. “those,” a characteristic Arab idiom.

[Footnote 6] Lit. draw thee near (to them).

Then he sprang up [and going] to the place wherein was the other half of his good, [took it] and lived with it well; and he swore that he would never again consort with those whom he knew, but would company only with the stranger nor entertain him but one night and that, whenas it morrowed, he would never know him more. So he fell to sitting every night on the bridge[7] and looking on every one who passed by him; and if he saw him to be a stranger, he made friends with him and carried him to his house, where he caroused with him till the morning. Then he dismissed him and would never more salute him nor ever again drew near unto him neither invited him.

[Footnote 7] i.e. that over the Tigris.

On this wise he continued to do for the space of a whole year, till, one day, as he sat on the bridge, according to his custom, expecting who should come to him, so he might take him and pass the night with him, behold, [up came] the Khalif and Mesrour, the swordsman of his vengeance, disguised [in merchants’ habits] as of their wont. So he looked at them and rising up, for that he knew them not, said to them, “What say ye? Will you go with me to my dwelling-place, so ye may eat what is ready and drink what is at hand, to wit, bread baked in the platter[Footnote 8] and meat cooked and wine clarified?” The Khalif refused this, but he conjured him and said to him, “God on thee, O my lord, go with me, for thou art my guest this night, and disappoint not my expectation concerning thee!” And he ceased not to press him till he consented to him; whereat Aboulhusn rejoiced and going on before him, gave not over talking with him till they came to his [house and he carried the Khalif into the] saloon. Er Reshid entered and made his servant abide at the door; and as soon as he was seated, Aboulhusn brought him somewhat to eat; so he ate, and Aboulhusn ate with him, so eating might be pleasant to him. Then he removed the tray and they washed their hands and the Khalif sat down again; whereupon Aboulhusn set on the drinking vessels and seating himself by his side, fell to filling and giving him to drink and entertaining him with discourse.