One Thousand and One Nights: The Story of the Vizier Nouredine, his Brother the Vizier Chamseddine, and Hassan Badreddine: Fifth Night



al-Rashid,.png Harun al-Rashid

Noureddine dies and his son Hassan did not go to the palace of the sultan for two months. The sultan becomes very angry about that and Hassan is forced to flee without taking anything with him. He spends the night in the cemetery where his father Noureddine is buried.


Sheherazade said:

Nourreddine remembered his brother Chamseddine the vizier of Egypt, his country, his parents, and all his friends in Cairo; and, at this memory, he could not help weeping that he had not been able to see them again. But soon he thought that he still had recommendations to make to his son Hassan, and he said to him: “My child, memorize well the words that I am going to say to you because they are very important. Know then that I have, in Cairo, a brother named Chamseddine; he is your uncle, and he is also vizier in Egypt. In time, we parted a little scrambled, and I am here, in Basra, without his consent. I am therefore going to dictate to you my last instructions on this subject; take a paper and a reed, and write under my dictation."

Then Hassan Badreddine took a sheet of paper, took out the inkstand from his belt, took from the case the best reed pen which was the best cut, and plunged it into the tow soaked in ink inside the inkstand; then he sat down, folded the sheet of paper on his left hand and, holding the reed pen in his right hand, he said to his father Noureddine: “O my father, I listen to your words!" And Noureddine began to dictate: “In the name of Allah the Beneficent, the Merciful…” and he then continued to dictate to his son his whole story from the beginning to the end; moreover, he dictated to him the date of his arrival at Basra, of his marriage to the daughter of the old vizier; he dictated to him his complete genealogy, his direct and indirect ascendants, with their names, the names of their father and their grandfather, their origin, their degree of acquired personal nobility, and finally all his paternal and maternal lineage.

Then he said to his son: “Keep this sheet of paper carefully. And if, by force of destiny, something bad happens to you in your life, return to your father's country of origin, where I was born, your father Noureddine, in Cairo the prosperous city; there you will ask for the address of your uncle the vizier, who lives in our house; and greet him on my behalf, transmitting peace to him, and tell him that I am dead, grieving to die abroad, far from him, and that before I died I had no other desire than to see him! That, my son Hassan, is the advice I wanted to give you. So I urge you not to forget them!"

Then Hassan Badreddine carefully folded the paper, having sanded and dried it and sealed it with the seal of his father the vizier; then he put it in the lining of his turban, between the cloth and the bonnet, and sewed it; but, to preserve it from dampness, he took great care, before sewing it, to wrap it well in a piece of oilcloth.

That done, he only thought of crying, kissing his father Noureddine's hand, and grieving at the thought that he must be left alone, still very young, and be deprived of his father's sight: And Noureddine did not stop recommending his son Hassan Badreddine until he passed away.

Then Hassan Badreddine was in deep mourning and so was the sultan, as well as all the emirs, and the great and the small. Then they buried him according to his rank.

As for Hassan Badreddine, he made the mourning ceremonies last two months; and during all this time he did not for a moment leave his house, and even forgot to go up to the palace, and to go and see the sultan according to his custom.

The sultan, not understanding that affliction alone held the handsome Hassan away from him, thought that Hassan was neglecting and avoiding him. So he was very irritated, and instead of appointing Hassan as successor vizier to his father Noureddine, he appointed another to this office and befriended another young chamberlain.

Not content with this, the sultan did more. He ordered to seal and confiscate all Hassan's goods, all his houses, and all his properties; then he ordered that Hassan Badreddine be seized himself and brought to him in chains. And immediately the new vizier took with him some of the chamberlains and went towards the house of young Hassan, who had no idea of the misfortune that threatened him.

Now, among the young slaves of the palace, there was a young Mamluk who was very fond of Hassan Badreddine. So, at this news, the young Mamluk ran very quickly and came near young Hassan whom he found very sad, his head bowed, his heart aching, and still thinking of his deceased father. He then told him what was going to happen to him. And Hassan asked him: “But do I still have time to take enough to subsist on my flight abroad?" And the young Mamluk replied: "Time is running out. So think only of saving yourself first."

At these words, young Hassan, dressed as he was, and without taking anything with him, left in haste, after having raised the tails of his robe above his head so that no one would recognize him. And he started walking until he was out of the city.

As for the inhabitants of Basra, at the news of the projected arrest of the young Hassan Badreddine, son of the deceased Noureddine the vizier, of the confiscation of his property and his probable death, they were all in the greatest affliction and began to say: “O what a pity for his beauty and for his charming person!" And, crossing the streets without being recognized, young Hassan heard these regrets and these exclamations. But he hurried even more and continued to walk even faster until fate and destiny caused him to pass by the cemetery where his father's was. So he entered the cemetery, walked between the graves, and came to his father's türbe. Only then did he lower his robe, with which he had covered his head, and enter under the dome of the türbe and resolve to pass the night there.

Now, while he was sitting there deep in his thoughts, he saw coming to him a Jew from Basra, who was a merchant well-known throughout the city. This Jewish merchant was returning to the city from a neighboring village. Passing by Noureddine's türbe, he looked inside and saw the young Hassan Badreddine, whom he recognized immediately. Then he entered, approached him respectfully, and said to him: “My lord, oh! how you look defeated and changed, you so beautiful! Did a new misfortune happen to you in addition to the death of your father, vizier Noureddine, whom I respected and who also loved and esteemed me? But may Allah have him in his holy mercy!" But the young Hassan Badreddine would not tell him the exact reason for his change of face and replied: "As I was asleep this afternoon, in my bed, at home, suddenly, in my sleep, I saw my late father appear to me and severely reproach me for my reluctance to visit his türbe. Then I, full of terror and regret, woke up with a start, and, all upset, I ran here in haste. And you still see me under this painful impression."

Then the Jew said to him: “My lord, it has been some time since I was going to see you and talk to you about a matter; but fate favors me today because I meet you. Know then, my young lord, that the vizier your father, with whom I was in business, had sent ships afar, which are now returning laden with goods in his name. So if you wanted to give me the load of these ships, I would offer you a thousand dinars for each load, and I would pay you in cash, on the hour."

And the Jew took from his robe a purse filled with gold, counted out a thousand dinars, and immediately offered them to young Hassan, who did not fail to accept this offer, willed by Allah to rescue him from the state of destitution in which he was. Then the Jew added: "Now, my lord, write me this paper for the receipt and affix your seal upon it!" Then Hassan Badreddine took the paper that the Jew held out to him, and the reed too, dipped the reed in the copper inkstand and wrote this on the paper:

“I certify that the one who wrote this paper is Hassan Badreddine, son of the vizier Noureddine the deceased — may Allah have mercy on him! — and that he sold to the Jew such and such, son of such, merchant in Basra, the cargo of the first ship which will arrive in Basra, a ship belonging to the ships having belonged to his father Noureddine; and this, for the sum of a thousand dinars, no more." Then he sealed the bottom of the sheet with his seal and handed it to the Jew, who went away after having saluted him respectfully.

Then Hassan began to cry thinking of his late father and his past position and his present fate. But, as it was already night, while he was thus stretched out on his father's grave, sleep came to him, and he fell asleep in the türbe. And he remained thus asleep until the moon rose; at that moment, his head having rolled off the stone of the tomb, he was obliged to turn whole and lie on his back: in this way, his face was in the full light of the moon, and thus shone. with all its beauty.

Now, this cemetery was a place haunted by genies of the right kind, Muslim genies, and believers. And, by chance also, a charming female genie was taking the air at this hour, under the rays of the moon, and, in her walk, passed by the sleeping Hassan, saw him, and noticed his beauty and his beautiful proportions.

At this point in her narration, Sheherazade saw the morning appear and quietly fell silent.* - - -

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