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Supplemental Nights, Volume 1 by Richard F. Burton

Part 4 out of 6

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no answer. Quoth the Wazir, "What is the weight of the elephant?"
The merchant was perplexed and returned him no reply, giving
himself up for lost; however, at last he said, "Grant me three
days of delay." The minister granted him the time he sought and
he returned to his lodging and related what had passed to the old
woman, who said, "When the morrow cometh, go to the Wazir and say
to him, ‘Make a ship and launch it on the sea and put in it an
elephant, and when it sinketh in the water, mark the place
whereunto the water riseth. Then take out the elephant and cast
in stones in its place, till the ship sink to that same mark;
whereupon do thou take out the stones and weigh them and thou
wilt presently know the weight of the elephant.'"[FN#368]
Accordingly, when he arose in the morning, he went to the Wazir
and repeated to him that which the old woman had taught him;
whereat the Minister marvelled and said to him, "What sayest thou
of a man, who seeth in his house four holes, and in each hole a
viper offering to sally out upon him and slay him, and in his
house are four sticks and each hole may not be stopped but with
the ends of two sticks? How, then, shall he stop all the holes
and deliver himself from the vipers?" When the merchant heard
this, there befel him such concern that it garred him forget the
first and he said to the Wazir, "Grant me delay, so I may reflect
on the reply"; and the Minister cried, "Go out, and bring me the
answer, or I will seize thy monies." The merchant fared forth and
returned to the old woman who, seeing him changed of complexion,
said to him, "What did his hoariness ask thee?" So he acquainted
her with the case and she cried, "Fear not; I will bring thee
forth of this strait." Quoth he, "Allah requite thee with weal!"
Then quoth she, "To-morrow go to him with a stout heart and say,
‘The answer to that whereof thou asketh me is this. Put the heads
of two sticks into one of the holes; then take the other two
sticks and lay them across the middle of the first two and stop
with their two heads the second hole and with their ferrules the
fourth hole. Then take the ferrules of the first two sticks and
stop with them the third hole.'"[FN#369] So he repaired to the
Wazir and repeated to him the answer; and he marvelled at its
justness and said to him, "Go; by Allah; I will ask thee no more
questions, for thou with thy skill marrest my
foundation."[FN#370] Then he treated him as a friend and the
merchant acquainted him with the affair of the old woman;
whereupon quoth the Wazir, "Needs must the intelligent company
with the intelligent." Thus did this weak woman restore to that
man his life and his monies on the easiest wise; "Nor," continued
the Wazir, "is this stranger than the story of the Simpleton
Husband." When the king heard this, he said, "How like it must be
to this our own case!" Then he bade the Minister retire to his
lodging; so he withdrew and on the morrow he abode at home till
the king should summon him to his presence.

The Ninth Night of the Month.

When the night came, the king sat private in his chamber and
sending after the Wazir, sought of him the story; and he said
"Hear, O august king,

The Tale of the Simpleton Husband.[FN#371]

There was once in olden time a foolish man and an ignorant, who
had abounding wealth, and his wife was a beautiful woman, who
loved a handsome youth. The Cicisbeo used to watch for her
husband's absence and come to her, and on this wise he abode a
long while. One day of the days, as the woman was closeted with
her lover, he said to her, "O my lady and my beloved, an thou
desire me and love me, give me possession of thy person and,
satisfy my need in the presence of thy husband; otherwise I will
never again come to thee nor draw near thee while I live my
life." Now she loved him with exceeding love and could not suffer
his separation an hour nor could endure to anger him; so, when
she heard his words, she said to him, "Bismillah, so be it, in
Allah's name, O my darling and coolth of mine eyes: may he not
live who would vex thee!" Quoth he, "To-day?" and quoth she,
"Yes, by thy life," and made an appointment with him for this.
When her husband came home, she said to him, "I want to go
a-pleasuring," and he said, "With all my heart." So he went, till
he came to a goodly place, abounding in vines and water, whither
he carried her and pitched her a tent by the side of a tall tree;
and she betook herself to a place alongside the tent and made her
there a Sardáb, in which she hid her lover. Then said she to her
husband, "I want to climb this tree;"[FN#372] and he said, "Do
so." So she clomb it and when she came to the tree-top, she cried
out and slapped her face, saying, "O thou lecher, are these thy
lewd ways? Thou swarest faith to me, and thou liedest." And she
repeated her speech twice and thrice. Then she came down from the
tree and rent her raiment and said, "O lecher, an these be thy
dealings with me before my eyes, how dost thou when thou art
absent from me?" Quoth he, "What aileth thee?" and quoth she, "I
saw thee futter the woman before my very eyes." Cried he, "Not
so, by Allah! But hold thy peace till I go up and see." So he
clomb the tree and no sooner did he begin to do so than out came
the lover from his hiding-place and taking the woman by the legs,
fell to shagging her. When the husband came to the top of the
tree, he looked and beheld a man futtering his wife; so he called
out, "O whore, what doings are these?" and he made haste to come
down from the tree to the ground. But meanwhile the lover had
returned to his hiding-place and his wife asked him, "What sawest
thou?" and he answered, "I saw a man shag thee;" but she said,
"Thou liest; thou sawest naught and sayst this only by way of
phantasy." The same they did three several times, and every time
he clomb the tree the lover came up out of the underground place
and mounted her, whilst her husband looked on and she still said,
"Seest thou aught, O liar?" "Yes," would he answer, and came down
in haste, but saw no one and she said to him, "By my life, look
and speak naught but sooth!" Then he cried to her, "Arise, let us
depart this place, for 'tis full of Jinn and Marids."[FN#373]
Accordingly, they returned to their house and nighted there, and
the man arose in the morning, assured that this was all but
phantasy and fascination. And so the lover won his wicked will.
"Nor, O king of the age," continued the Wazir, "is this stranger
than the story of the King and the Tither." When the king heard
this from the Minister, he bade him go away, and he went.

The Tenth Night of the Month.

When it was eventide, the king summoned the Wazir and sought of
him the story of the King and the Tither, and he said, "Hear, O

The Tale of the Unjust King and the Tither.

There was once a king of the kings of the earth, who dwelt in a
flourishing city, abounding in good; but he wronged its people
and entreated them foully, so that he ruined the city; and he was
named naught else but tyrant and oppressor. Now he was wont,
whenas he heard of a violent man in another land, to send after
him and lure him with lucre to take service with him; and there
was a certain Tither, who exceeded all other Tithers in
oppression of the people and foul dealing. So the king sent after
him and when he stood before him, he found him a man of mighty
fine presence and said to him, "Thou hast been described to me,
but I see thou surpassest the description. Set out to me some of
thy doings and sayings, so I may be dispensed therewith from
enquiring into the whole of thy case." Answered the other, "With
all my heart! Know, O King, that I oppress the folk and people
the land, whilst other than I ruineth it and peopleth it not."
Now the king was leaning back: but presently he sat upright and
said, "Tell me of this." The Tither replied, "'Tis well: I go to
the man whom I purpose to tithe and cozen him and feign to be
busied with certain business, so that I seclude myself therewith
from the people; and meanwhile the man is squeezed with the
foulest of extortion, till naught of money is left him. Then I
appear and they come in to me and questions arise concerning him
and I say, ‘Indeed, I was ordered worse than this, for some one
(may Allah curse him!) hath slandered him to the king.' Presently
I take half of his good and return him the rest publicly before
the folk and dismiss him to his house, in all honour and worship,
and he garreth the money returned be carried before him, whilst
he blesseth me and all who are with him also bless me. So is it
bruited abroad in the city that I have restored to him his monies
and he himself notifieth the like, to the intent that he may have
a claim on me for the favour due to those who praise me. On this
wise I keep half his property. Then I seem to forget him till the
year[FN#374] hath passed over him, when I send for him and recall
to him somewhat of that which hath befallen aforetime and require
of him somewhat of money in secret; accordingly he doth this and
hasteneth to his house and forwardeth whatso I bid him, with a
contented heart. Then I send to another man, between whom and the
first is enmity, and lay hands upon him and feign to the other
man that it is he who hath slandered him to the king and hath
taken the half of his good; and the people praise me."[FN#375]
The King wondered at this and at his wily dealing and clever
contrivance and made him controller of all his affairs and of his
kingdom and the land was placed under his governance, and he said
to him, "Take and people." [FN#376] One day, the Tither went out
and saw an old man, a woodcutter, and with him wood; so he said
to him, "Pay a dirham tithe for thy load." Quoth the Shaykh,
"Behold, thou killest me and killest my family;" and quoth the
Tither, "What? Who killeth the folk?" And the oldster answered,
"An thou let me enter the city, I shall there sell the load for
three dirhams, whereof I will give thee one and buy with the
other two silvers what will support my family; but, an thou press
me for the tithe outside the city, the load will sell but for one
dirham and thou wilt take it and I shall abide without food, I
and my family. Indeed, thou and I in this circumstance are like
unto David and Solomon (on the twain be the Peace!)" "How so?"
asked the Tither, and the woodcutter answered, "Do thou hear

The Story of David and Solomon.

Certain husbandmen once made complaint to David (on whom be the
Peace!) against some sheep-owners, whose flocks had come down
upon their crops by night and had devoured them, and he bade
value the crops and that the shepherds should make good the
damage. But Solomon (on whom be the Peace!) rose and said, "Nay,
but let the sheep be delivered to the husbandmen, so they may
take their milk and wool, till they have recouped the value of
their crops; then let the sheep return to their owners."
Accordingly David reversed his own decision and caused execute
that of Solomon; yet was David no oppressor; but Solomon's
judgment was the juster and he showed himself therein better
versed in jurisprudence and Holy Law.[FN#377] When the Tither
heard the old man's speech, he felt ruthful and said to him, "O
Shaykh, I make thee a gift of that which is due from thee, and do
thou cleave to me and leave me not, so haply I may get of thee
gain which shall do away from me my wrongousness and guide me on
the path of righteousness." So the old man followed him, and
there met him another with a load of wood. Quoth the Tither to
him, "Pay me that which thou owest me;" and quoth he, "Have
patience with me till to-morrow, for I owe the hire of a house,
and I will sell another load of fuel and pay thee two days'
tithe." But he refused him this and the Shaykh said to him, "An
thou constrain him unto this, thou wilt compel him quit thy
country, because he is a stranger here and hath no domicile; and
if he remove on account of one dirham, thou wilt forfeit of him
three hundred and sixty dirhams a year.[FN#378] Thus wilt thou
lose the mickle in keeping the little." Quoth the Tither,
"Verily[FN#379] will I give him a dirham every month to the rent
of his lodging." Then he went on and presently there met him a
third woodcutter and he said to him, "Pay thy due;" but he said,
"I will pay thee a dirham, when I enter the city; or take of me
four dániks[FN#380] now." Quoth the Tither, "I will not do it,"
but the Shaykh said to him, "Take of him the four daniks
presently, for 'tis easy to take and hard to give back."
Exclaimed the Tither, "By Allah 'tis good!" and he arose and hied
on, crying out at the top of his voice and saying, "I have no
power this day to do evil."[FN#381] Then he doffed his dress and
went forth wandering at a venture, repenting unto his Lord. "Nor"
(continued the Wazir), "is this story stranger than that of the
Robber who believed the Woman and sought refuge with Allah
against falling in with her like, by reason of her cunning
contrivance for herself." When the king heard this, he said to
himself, "Since the Tither repented, in consequence of the
woodcutter's warnings, it behoveth I leave this Wazir on life so
I may hear the story of the Robber and the Woman." And he bade
Al-Rahwan return to his lodging.

The Eleventh Night of the Month.

When the evening came and the king had taken his seat, he
summoned the Wazir and required of him the story of the Robber
and the Woman. Quoth the Minister, "Hear, O king,

The Tale of the Robber and the Woman.

A certain Robber was a cunning workman and used not to steal
aught, till he had wasted all that was with him; moreover, he
stole not from his neighbours, neither companied with any of the
thieves, for fear lest some one should betray him, and his case
become public. After this fashion he abode a great while, in
flourishing condition, and his secret was concealed, till
Almighty Allah decreed that he broke in upon a beggar, a poor man
whom he deemed rich. When he gained access to the house, he found
naught, whereat he was wroth, and necessity prompted him to wake
that man, who lay asleep alongside of his wife. So he aroused him
and said to him, "Show me thy treasure." Now he had no treasure
to show; but the Robber believed him not and was instant upon him
with threats and blows. When he saw that he got no profit of him,
he said to him, "Swear by the oath of divorce[FN#382] from thy
wife that thou hast nothing." So he sware and his wife said to
him, "Fie on thee! Wilt thou divorce me? Is not the hoard buried
in yonder chamber?" Then she turned to the Robber and conjured
him to be weightier of blows upon her husband, till he should
deliver to him the treasure, anent which he had forsworn himself.
So he drubbed him with a grievous drubbing, till he carried him
to a certain chamber, wherein she signed to him that the hoard
was and that he should take it up. So the Robber entered, he and
the husband; and when they were both in the chamber, she locked
on them the door, which was a stout and strong, and said to the
Robber, "Woe to thee, O fool! Thou hast fallen into the trap and
now I have but to cry out and the officers of police will come
and take thee and thou wilt lose thy life, O Satan!" Quoth he,
"Let me go forth;" and quoth she, "Thou art a man and I am a
woman; and in thy hand is a knife, and I am afraid of thee." He
cried, "Take the knife from me." So she took it and said to her
husband, "Art thou a woman and he a man? Pain his neck-nape with
tunding, even as he tunded thee; and if he put out his hand to
thee, I will cry out a single cry and the policemen will come and
take him and hew him in two." So the husband said to him, "O
thousand-horned,[FN#383] O dog, O dodger, I owe thee a
deposit[FN#384] wherefor thou hast dunned me." And he fell to
bashing him grievously with a stick of holm-oak,[FN#385] whilst
he called out to the woman for help and prayed her to deliver
him: but she said, "Keep thy place till the morning, and thou
shalt see queer things." And her husband beat him within the
chamber, till he killed[FN#386] him and he swooned away. Then he
left beating him and when the Robber came to himself, the woman
said to her husband, "O man, this house is on hire and we owe its
owners much money, and we have naught; so how wilt thou do?" And
she went on to bespeak him thus. The Robber asked "And what is
the amount of the rent?" ‘The husband answered, "'Twill be eighty
dirhams;" and the thief said, "I will pay this for thee and do
thou let me go my way." Then the wife enquired, "O man, how much
do we owe the baker and the greengrocer?" Quoth the Robber, "What
is the sum of this?" And the husband said, "Sixty dirhams."
Rejoined the other, "That makes two hundred dirhams; let me go my
way and I will pay them." But the wife said, O my dear, and the
girl groweth up and needs must we marry her and equip her and do
what else is needful." So the Robber said to the husband, "How
much dost thou want?" and he rejoined, "An hundred dirhams in a
modest way."[FN#387] Quoth the Robber, "That maketh three hundred
dirhams." Then the woman said, "O my dear, when the girl is
married, thou wilt need money for winter expenses, charcoal and
firewood and other necessaries." The Robber asked "What wouldst
thou have?" And she answered, "An hundred dirhams." He rejoined,
"Be it four hundred dirhams." And she continued, "O my dear and O
coolth of mine eyes, needs must my husband have capital in
hand,[FN#388] wherewith he may buy goods and open him a shop."
Said he, "How much will that be?" And she, "An hundred dirhams."
Quoth the Robber, "That maketh five hundred dirhams; I will pay
it; but may I be triply divorced from my wife if all my
possessions amount to more than this, and they be the savings of
twenty years! Let me go my way, so I may deliver them to thee."
Cried she, "O fool, how shall I let thee go thy way? Utterly
impossible! Be pleased to give me a right token."[FN#389] So he
gave her a token for his wife and she cried out to her young
daughter and said to her, "Keep this door." Then she charge her
husband to watch over the Robber, till she should return, and
repairing to his wife, acquainted her with his case and told her
that her husband the thief had been taken and had compounded for
his release, at the price of seven hundred dirhams, and named to
her the token. Accordingly, she gave her the money and she took
it and returned to her house. By this time, the dawn had dawned;
so she let the thief go his way, and when he went out, she said
to him, "O my dear, when shall I see thee come and take the
treasure?" And he, "O indebted one,[FN#390] when thou needest
other seven hundred dirhams, wherewith to amend thy case and that
of thy children and to pay thy debts." And he went out, hardly
believing in his deliverance from her. "Nor," continued the
Wazir, "is this stranger than the story of the Three Men and our
Lord Ísà." So the king bade him hie to his own home.

The Twelfth Night of the Month.

When it was eventide, the king summoned the Minister and bade him
tell the promised tale. He replied, "Hearing and obeying. Give
ear, O glorious king, to

The Tale of the Three Men and our Lord Isa.

Three men once went out questing treasure and came upon a nugget
of gold, weighing fifty maunds.[FN#391] When they saw it, they
took it up on their shoulders and carried it till they drew near
a certain city, when one of them said, "Let us sit in the
cathedral-mosque,[FN#392] whilst one of us shall go and buy us
what we may eat." So they sat down in the mosque and one of them
arose and entered the city. When he came therein, his soul
prompted him to false his two fellows and get the gold to himself
alone. Accordingly, he bought food and poisoned it: but, when he
returned to his comrades, they sprang upon him and slew him, in
order that they might enjoy the gold without him. Then they ate
of the poisoned food and died, and the gold lay cast down over
against them. Presently, Ísà bin Maryam (on whom be the Peace!)
passed by and seeing this, besought Allah Almighty for tidings of
their case; so He told him what had betided them, whereat great
was his surprise and he related to his disciples[FN#393] what he
had seen. Quoth one of them, "O Spirit of Allah,[FN#394] naught
resembleth this but my own adventure." Quoth Isa, "How so?" and
the other began to tell

The Disciple's Story.

Once I was in such a city, where I hid a thousand dirhams in a
monastery. After a while, I went thither and taking the money,
bound it about my waist. Then I set out to return and when I came
to the Sahará[FN#395]-waste, the carrying of the money was heavy
upon me. Presently, I espied a horseman pushing on after me; so I
waited till he came up and said to him, "O rider, carry this
money for me and earn reward and recompense in Heaven." Said he,
"No, I will not do it, for I should tire myself and tire out my
horse." Then he went on but, before he had gone far, he said in
his mind, "An I take up the money and put my steed to speed and
devance him, how shall he overtake me?" And I also said in my
mind, "Verily, I erred; for, had he taken the money and made off,
what could I have done?" Then he turned back to me and cried to
me, "Hand over the money, that I may carry it for thee." But I
replied to him, "That which hath occurred to thy mind hath
occurred to mine also; so go thou and go safe." Quoth Isa (on
whom be the Peace!), "Had these done prudently, they had taken
thought for themselves; but they unheeded the issues of events;
for that whoso acteth cautiously is safe and winneth his wish,
and whoso neglecteth precaution is lost and repenteth."[FN#396]
"Nor," continued the Wazir, "is this stranger or rarer than the
story of the King, whose kingdom was restored to him and his
wealth, after he had become poor, possessing not a single
dirham." When the king heard this, he said in himself, "How like
is this to my own story in the matter of the Minister and his
slaughter! Had I not used deliberation, I had done him dead." And
he bade AlRahwan hie to his own home.

The Thirteenth Night of the Month.

When the even evened, the king sent for the Wazir to his
sitting-chamber and bade him tell the promised tale. So he said,
"Hearkening and obedience. They relate, O king,

The Tale of the Dethroned Ruler Whose Reign and Wealth
Were Restored to Him.

There was once, in a city of the cities of Al-Hind, a just king
and a beneficent, and he had a Wazir, a man of understanding,
upright in his rede, and praiseworthy in his policy, a Minister
in whose hand was the handling of all the affairs of the realm;
for he was firmly based on the Sultan's favour and high in esteem
with the folk of his time, and the king set great store by him
and entrusted himself to him in all his transactions, by reason
of his excellent management of the lieges, and he had
guards[FN#397] who were content with him and grateful to him. Now
that king had a brother, who envied him and would lief have taken
his place; and when he was a-weary of looking for his death and
the term of his life seemed distant, he took counsel with certain
of his partisans and they said, "The Minister is the monarch's
counsellor and but for this Wazir the king were kingdomless." So
the pretender cast about for the ruin of the defender, but could
find no means of furthering his design; and when the affair grew
longsome upon him, he said to his wife, "What deemest thou will
gar us gain herein?" "What is it?" "I mean in the matter of
yonder Minister, who inciteth my brother to worship with all his
might and biddeth him unto devoutness, and indeed the king doteth
upon his counsel and stablisheth him governor of all monies and
matters." "True; but how shall we devise with him?" "I have a
device, so thou wilt help me in that which I shall say to thee."
"Thou shalt have my help in whatsoever thou desirest." "I mean to
dig him a pit in the vestibule and conceal it artfully."
Accordingly, he did this, and when it was night, he covered the
pit with a light covering, so that, when the Wazir trod upon it,
it would give way under his tread. Then he sent to him and
summoned him to the Court in the king's name, and the messenger
bade him enter by the private wicket-way. So he came in alone,
and when he stepped upon the covering of the pit, it caved in
with him and he fell to the bottom; whereupon the king's brother
fell to pelting him with stones. When the Minister beheld what
had betided him he gave himself up for lost; so he stirred not
for a while and lay still. The Prince, seeing him make no sign,
deemed him dead; so he took him forth and wrapping him up in his
robes, cast him into the surges of the sea in the middle night.
When the Wazir felt the water, he awoke from the swoon and swam
for an hour or so, till a ship passed by him, whereupon he
shouted to the sailors and they took him up. Now when the morning
morrowed, the people went seeking for him, but found him not; and
the king learning this, was perplexed concerning his affair and
abode unknowing whatso he should do. Then he sought for a
Minister to stand in his stead, and the king's brother said, "I
have for Wazir an efficient man." Said the king, "Bring him to
me." So he brought him a man, whom he set at the head of affairs;
but he seized upon the kingdom and threw the king in fetters and
made his brother king in lieu of him. The new ruler gave himself
up to all manner of frowardness, whereat the folk murmured and
his Minister said to him, "I fear lest the Hindians take the old
king and restore him to the kingship and we both come to ruin:
so, if we seize him and cast him into the sea, we shall be at
rest from him; and we will publish among the folk that he is
dead." And they, agreeing upon this, took him up and carrying him
out to sea, cast him in. When he felt the water, he struck out,
and ceased not swimming till he landed upon an island, where he
tarried five days finding nothing which he might eat or drink;
but, on the sixth day, when he despaired of his life, behold,
there passed a ship; so he made signals to the crew and they came
and took him up and fared on with him to an inhabited country,
where they set him ashore, mother-naked as he was. There, seeing
a man seeding, he sought guidance of him and the husbandman
asked, "Art thou a foreigner?" "Yes," answered the king and sat
with him and they talked. The peasant found him clever and
quick-witted and said to him, "An thou beheld a comrade of mine,
thou wouldst see him the like of what I see thee, for his case is
even as thy case, and he is at this present my friend." Quoth the
king, "Verily, thou makest me long to look at him. Canst thou not
bring us together, me and him?" Quoth the husbandman, "With joy
and goodly gree;" and the king sat with him till he had made an
end of his seeding, when he carried him to his homestead and
brought him in company with the other stranger, and behold it was
his Wazir. When each saw other, the twain wept and embraced, and
the sower wept for their weeping; but the king hid their affair
and said to him, "This man is from my mother-land and he is as my
brother." So they homed with the husbandman and helped him for a
hire, wherewith they supported themselves a long spell.
Meanwhile, they sought news of their patrial stead and learned
that which its people suffered of straitness and severity. One
day there came a ship and in it a merchant from their own
country, who knew them and rejoiced in them with joy exceeding
and clad them in goodly clothing. He also acquainted them with
the manner of the treachery that had been practised upon them,
and counselled them to return to their own land, they and he with
whom they had made friends,[FN#398] assuring them that Almighty
Allah would restore them to their former rank. So the king
returned and the folk joined themselves to him and he fell upon
his brother and his Wazir and took them and threw them into jail.
Then he sat down again upon the throne of his kingship, whilst
the Minister stood between his hands and they returned to their
former estate, but they had naught of worldly wealth. Presently
the king said to his Wazir, "How shall we continue tarrying in
this city, and we thus poorly conditioned?" and he answered, "Be
at thine ease and have no concern." Then he singled out one of
the soldiers[FN#399] and said to him, "Send us thy
service[FN#400] for the year." Now there were in the city fifty
thousand subjects[FN#401] and in the hamlets and villages[FN#402]
a like number; and the Minister sent to each of these, saying,
"Let each and every of you get an egg and set it under a hen."
They did this and it was neither burden nor grievance to them;
and when twenty days had passed by, each egg was hatched, and the
Wazir bade them pair the chickens, male with female, and rear
them well. They did accordingly and it was found a charge unto no
one. Then they waited for them awhile and after this the Minister
asked of the chickens and was answered that they were become
fowls. Furthermore, they brought him all their eggs and he bade
set them; and after twenty days there were hatched from each pair
of them thirty or five-and-twenty or fifteen chickens at the
least. The Wazir bade note against each man the number of
chickens which pertained to him, and after two months, he took
the old partlets and the cockerels, and there came to him from
each man some half a score, and he left the young partlets with
them. Even so he sent to the country folk and let the cocks
remain with them. Thus he got him whole broods of young poultry
and appropriated to himself the sale of the fowls, and on this
wise he gained for him, in the course of a year, that which the
kingly estate required of the King, and his affairs were set
right for him by the cunning contrivance of the Minister. And he
caused the country to thrive and dealt justly by his subjects and
returned to them all that he took from them and lived a grateful
and prosperous life. Thus right counsel and prudence are better
than wealth, for that understanding profiteth at all times and
seasons. "Nor," continued the Wazir, "is this stranger than the
story of the Man whose caution slew him." When the king heard the
words of his Wazir, he wondered with the uttermost wonder and
bade him retire to his lodging.

The Fourteenth Night of the Month.

Whenthe Minister returned to the presence, the King sought of him
the story of the Man whose caution slew him and he said, "Hear, O
auspicious King,

The Tale of the Man whose Caution Slew Him.

There was once a man who was cautious exceedingly concerning
himself, and he set out one day on a journey to a land abounding
in wild beasts. The caravan wherewith he fared came by night to
the gate of a city; but the warders would not open to them, for
there were lions there; so they nighted without the walls. Now
that man, of the excess of his caution, could not determine a
place wherein he should pass the night, for fear of the wild
beasts and reptiles; so he went about seeking an empty stead
wherein he might lie. At last, as there was a ruined building
hard by, he climbed up on to a high wall and ceased not
clambering hither and thither, of the excess of his carefulness,
till his feet betrayed him and he slipped and fell to the bottom
and died, whilst his companions arose in the morning safe and
sound. Now, had he overmastered his wrongous rede and had he
submitted himself to Fate and Fortune, it had been safer and
better for him; but he made light of the folk and belittled their
wit and was not content to take example by them; for his soul
whispered him that he was a man of wits and he fancied that, an
he abode with them, he would perish; so his folly cast him into
perdition. "Nor," continued the Wazir, "is this stranger than the
story of the Man who was lavish of his house and his provision to
one he knew not." When the King heard this, he said, "I will not
separate myself from the folk and slay my Minister." And he bade
him hie to his own house.

The Fifteenth Night of the Month.

When the evening evened, the King bade fetch the Wazir and
required of him the story. So he said, "Hear, O King,

The Tale of the Man who was Lavish of his House and his
Provision to One Whom He Knew Not.

There was once an Arab of high rank and noble presence, a model
of magnanimity and exalted generosity, and he had brethren, with
whom he consorted and caroused, and they were wont to assemble by
rotation at one another's homes. When it came to his turn, he gat
ready in his house all manner goodly meats and pleasant and
dainty drinks and the fairest flowers and the finest fruits, and
he provided all kinds of instruments of music and store of
wondrous dictes and marvellous stories and pleasant instances and
histories and witty anecdotes and verses and what not else, for
there was none among those with whom he was wont to company but
enjoyed this in every goodly fashion, and the entertainment he
had provided contained all whereof each had need. Then he sallied
forth in quest of his friends, and went round about the city, so
he might assemble them; but found none of them at home. Now in
that town was a man of pleasant conversation and large
generosity, a merchant of condition, young of years and bright of
blee, who had come to that place from his own country with
merchandise in great store and wealth galore. He took up his
abode therein and the town was pleasant to him and he was large
in lavishing, so that he came to the end of all this wealth and
there remained in his hand naught save what was upon him of
raiment. So he left the lodging which had homed him in the days
of his prosperity; after he had wasted that which was therein of
furniture, and fell to finding refuge in the houses of the
townsfolk from night to night. One day, as he went wandering
about the streets, he beheld a woman of the uttermost beauty and
loveliness, and what he saw of her charms amazed him and there
happened to him what made him forget his sorry plight. She
accosted him and jested with him and he besought her of union and
intimacy; so she consented to this and said to him, "Let us go to
thy lodging." Herewith he repented and was perplexed concerning
his procedure and grieved for that which must escape him of her
company by reason of the straitness of his hand, for that he had
not a whit of spending-money. But he was ashamed to say "No,"
after he had sued and wooed her; wherefore he went on before her,
bethinking him how he should rid himself of her and seeking some
excuse which he might put off on her, and gave not over going
from street to street, till he entered one that had no issue and
saw, at the farther end, a door, whereon was a padlock.[FN#403]
Then said he to her, "Do thou excuse me, for my lad hath locked
the door and how shall we open it?" Said she, "O my lord, the
padlock is worth only some ten dirhams;" and presently she tucked
up her sleeves from forearms as they were crystal and taking a
stone, smote the padlock and broke it; and, opening the door,
said to him, "Enter, O my lord." Accordingly he went in,
committing his affair to Allah (to whom belong Honour and Glory),
and she entered after him and locked the door from within. They
found themselves in a pleasant house, collecting all good and
gladness; and the young man fared forwards, till he came to the
sitting-chamber, and, behold, it was furnished with the finest of
furniture as hath before been set out.[FN#404] He seated himself
and leant upon a cushion, whilst she put out her hand to her veil
and doffed it. Then she threw off her heavy outer clothes till
she was clad in the thinnest which showed her charms, whereupon
the young man embraced her and kissed her and enjoyed her; after
which they washed with the Ghusl-ablution and returned to their
place and he said to her, "Know that I have little knowledge of
what goeth on in my own house, for that I trust to my servant: so
arise thou and see what the lad hath made ready in the kitchen."
Accordingly, she arose and going down into the kitchen, saw
cooking pots over the fire, wherein were all manner of dainty
viands, and firstsbread[FN#405] and fresh almond cakes.[FN#406]
So she set bread on a dish and ladled out what she would from the
pots and brought it to him. They ate and drank and played and
made merry a while of the day; and as they were thus engaged,
suddenly up came the master of the house, with his friends, whom
he had brought with him, that they might converse together, as of
wont. He saw the door opened and knocked a light knock, saying to
his company, "Have patience with me, for some of my family are
come to visit me: wherefore excuse belongeth first to Allah
Almighty, and then to you."[FN#407] So they farewelled him and
fared their ways, whilst he rapped another light rap at the door.
When the young man heard this, he changed colour and the woman
said to him, "Methinks thy lad hath returned." He answered,
"Yes;" and she arose and opening the door to the master of the
house, said to him, "Where hast thou been? Indeed, thy master is
angry with thee!" and he said, "O my lady, I have not been save
about his business." Then he girt his waist with a kerchief and
entering, saluted the young merchant, who said to him, "Where
hast thou been?" Quoth he, "I have done thine errands;" and quoth
the youth, "Go and eat and come hither and drink." So he went
away, as he bade him, and ate; then he washed hands and returning
to the sittingroom, sat down on the carpet and fell to talking
with them; whereupon the young merchant's heart was heartened and
his breast broadened and he applied himself to pleasure. They
were in all joyance of life and the most abounding pleasance till
a third part of the night was past, when the house-master arose,
and spreading them a bed, invited them to take their rest. So
they lay down and the youth wide awake, pondering their affair
till daybreak, when the woman roused herself from sleep and said
to her companion, "I wish to go." He farewelled her and she
departed; whereupon the master of the house followed her with a
purse of silver and gave it to her, saying, "Blame not my lord,"
and made his excuse to her for his master. Then he returned to
the youth and said to him, "Arise and come to the
Hammam;"[FN#408] and he fell to shampooing his hands and feet,
whilst the youth called down blessings on him and said "O my
lord, who art thou? Methinks there is not in the world the like
of thee; no, nor a pleasanter in thy disposition." Then each of
the twain acquainted the other with his case and condition and
they went to the bath; after which the master of the house
conjured the young merchant to return with him and summoned his
friends. So they ate and drank and he told them the tale,
wherefore they thanked the house-master and praised him; and
their friendship was complete while the young merchant abode in
the town, till Allah made easy to him a means of travel,
whereupon they farewelled him and he departed; and this is the
end of his tale. "Nor," continued the Wazir, "O king of the age,
is this stranger than the story of the Richard who lost his
wealth and his wit." When the king heard the Minister's story, it
pleased him and he bade him hie to his home.

The Sixteenth Night of the Month.

When the evening evened, the King sat in his sitting-chamber and
sending for his Wazir, bade him relate the story of the Wealthy
Man who lost his wealth and his wit. So he said, "Hear, O King,

The Tale of the Melancholist and the Sharper.[FN#409]

There was once a Richard hight 'Ajlán, the Hasty, who wasted his
wealth, and concern and chagrin gat the mastery of him, so that
he became a Melancholist[FN#410] and lost his wit. There remained
with him of his monies about twenty dinars and he used to beg
alms of the folk, and whatso they gave him in charity he would
gather together and add to the gold pieces that were left him.
Now there was in that town a Sharper, who made his living by
roguery, and he knew that the Melancholist had somewhat of money;
so he fell to spying upon him and ceased not watching him till he
saw him put into an earthen pot that which he had with him of
silvers and enter a deserted ruin, where he sat down, as if to
make water, and dug a hole, wherein he laid the pot and covering
it up, smoothed the ground as it had been. Then he went away and
the Sharper came and taking what was in the pot, restored it to
its former place. Presently 'Ajlan returned, with somewhat to add
to his hoard, but found it not; so he bethought him of who had
followed him and remembered that he had found that Sharper
assiduous in sitting with him and questioning him. So he went in
search of him, assured that he had taken the pot, and gave not
over looking for him till he saw him sitting; whereupon he ran to
him and the Sharper saw him. Then the Melancholist stood within
earshot and muttered[FN#411] to himself and said, "In the pot are
sixty ducats and I have with me other twenty in such a place and
to-day I will unite the whole in the pot." When the Sharper heard
him say this to himself, muttering and mumbling, repeating and
blundering in his speech, he repented him of having taken the
sequins and said, "He will presently return to the pot[FN#412]
and find it empty; wherefore that for which I am on the look-out
will escape me; and meseemeth 'twere best I replace the dinars,
so he may see them and leave all which is with him in the pot,
and I can take the whole." Now he feared to return to the pot at
once, lest the Melancholist should follow him to the place and
find nothing and on this wise his arrangements be marred; so he
said to him, "O 'Ajlan,[FN#413] I would have thee come to my
lodging and eat bread with me." Thereupon the Melancholist went
with him to his quarters and he seated him there and going to the
market, sold somewhat of his clothes and pawned somewhat from his
house and bought the best of food. Then he betook himself to the
ruin and replacing the money in the pot, buried it again; after
which he returned to his lodging and gave the Melancholist to eat
and drink, and they went out together. The Sharper walked away
and hid himself, lest his guest should see him, whilst 'Ajlan
repaired to his hiding-place and took the pot. Presently, the
Sharper returned to the ruin, rejoicing in that which he deemed
he should get, and dug in the place, but found naught and knew
that the Melancholist had outwitted him. So he began buffetting
his face for regret, and fell to following the other whitherso he
went, to the intent that he might win what was with him, but he
failed in this, because the Melancholist knew what was in his
mind and was assured that he spied upon him; so he kept watch
over himself. Now, had the Sharper considered the consequences of
haste and that which is begotten of loss therefrom, he had not
done on such wise. "Nor," continued the Wazir, "is this tale, O
king of the age, rarer or stranger or daintier than the story of
Khalbas[FN#414] and his Wife and the learned man and that which
befel between the three." When the king heard this story, he left
his purpose of putting the Minister to death and his soul bade
him to continue him on life. So he ordered him off to his house.

The Seventeenth Night of the Month.

When the evening evened, the King summoned the Minister, and as
soon as he presented himself, he required of him the story. So he
said, "Hearkening and obedience. Hear, O august King,

The Tale of Khalbas and his Wife and the Learned Man.

There was once a man called Khalbas, who was a fulsome fellow, a
calamity, notorious for this note, and he had a charming wife,
renowned for beauty and loveliness. A man of his townsfolk fell
in love with her and she also loved him. Now Khalbas was a wily
wight and full of guile, and there was in his neighbourhood a
learned man, to whom the folk used to resort every day and he
told them histories and admonished them with moral instances; and
Khalbas was wont to be present in his assembly, for the sake of
making a show before the folk. This learned man also had a wife
famed for comeliness and seemlihead and quickness of wit and
understanding and the lover sought some device whereby he might
manage to meet Khalbas's wife; so he came to him and told him as
a secret what he had seen of the learned man's wife and confided
to him that he was in love with her and besought his assistance
in this. Khalbas told him that she was known as a model of
chastity and continence and that she exposed herself not to ill
doubts; but the other said, "I cannot renounce her, in the first
place because the woman inclineth to me and coveteth my wealth,
and secondly, because of the greatness of my fondness for her;
and naught is wanting but thy help." Quoth Khalbas, "I will do
thy will;" and quoth the other, "Thou shalt have of me every day
two silvern dirhams, on condition that thou sit with the learned
man and that, when he riseth from the assembly, thou speak a word
which shall notify to me the breaking up of the meeting." So they
agreed upon that and Khalbas entered and sat in the session,
whilst the lover was assured in his heart that the secret was
safe and secure with him, wherefore he rejoiced and was content
to pay the two dirhams. Then Khalbas used to attend the learned
man's assembly, whilst the other would go in to his wife and be
very much with her, on such wise as he thought good, till the
learned man arose from his meeting; and when Khalbas saw that he
proposed rising, he would speak a word for the lover to hear,
whereupon he went forth from the wife of Khalbas who knew not
that doom was in his own home. But when the learned man saw
Khalbas do the same thing every day, he began to suspect him,
especially on account of that which he knew of his bad name, and
suspicion grew upon him; so, one day, he resolved to advance the
time of his rising ere the wonted hour and hastening up to
Khalbas, seized him and said to him, "By Allah, an thou say a
single syllable, I will do thee a damage!" Then he went in to his
wife, with Khalbas in his grip, and behold, she was sitting, as
of her wont, nor was there about her aught of suspicious or
unseemly. The learned man bethought him awhile of this, then made
for Khalbas's house, which adjoined his own, still holding his
man; and when they entered, they found the young lover lying on
the bed with Khalbas's wife; whereupon quoth the learned man to
him, "O accursed, the doom is with thee and in thine own home!"
So Khalbas divorced his wife and went forth, fleeing, and
returned not to his own land. "This, then" (continued the Wazir),
"is the consequence of lewdness, for whoso purposeth in himself
wile and perfidious guile, they get possession of him, and had
Khalbas conceived of himself that dishonour and calamity which he
conceived of the folk, there had betided him nothing of this. Nor
is this tale, rare and curious though it be, stranger or rarer
than the story of the Devotee whose husband's brother accused her
of lewdness." When the king heard this, wonderment gat hold of
him and his admiration for the Wazir redoubled; so he bade him
hie to his home and return to him on the morrow, according to his
custom. So the Minister withdrew to his lodging, where he passed
the night and the ensuing day.

The Eighteenth Night of the Month.

When the evening evened, the King summoned the Wazir and required
of him the story; so he said, "'Tis well. Hear O King,

The Tale of the Devotee Accused of Lewdness.[FN#415]

There was once a man of Níshábúr[FN#416] who, having a wife of
the uttermost beauty and piety, yet was minded to set out on the
pilgrimage. So before leaving home he commended her to the care
of his brother and besought him to aid her in her affairs and
further her wishes till he should return, for the brothers were
on the most intimate terms.[FN#417] Then he took ship and
departed and his absence was prolonged. Meanwhile, the brother
went to visit his brother's wife, at all times and seasons, and
questioned her of her circumstances and went about her wants; and
when his calls were prolonged and he heard her speech and saw her
face, the love of her gat hold upon his heart and he became
passionately fond of her and his soul prompted him to evil. So he
besought her to lie with him, but she refused and showed him how
foul was his deed, and he found him no way to win what he
wished;[FN#418] wherefore he wooed her with soft speech and
gentle ways. Now she was righteous in all her doings and never
swerved from one saying;[FN#419] so, when he saw that she
consented not to him, he had no doubts but that she would tell
his brother, when he returned from his journey, and quoth he to
her, "An thou consent not to whatso I require of thee, I will
cause a scandal to befal thee and thou wilt perish." Quoth she,
"Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) judge betwixt me and thee,
and know that, shouldst thou hew me limb from limb, I would not
consent to that thou biddest me to do." His ignorance[FN#420] of
womankind persuaded him that she would tell her spouse; so he
betook himself of his exceeding despite, to a company of people
in the mosque and informed them that he had witnessed a man
commit adultery with his brother's wife. They believed his word
and documented his charge and assembled to stone her.[FN#421]
Then they dug her a pit outside the city and seating her therein,
stoned her, till they deemed her dead, when they left her.
Presently a Shaykh of a village passed by the pit and finding her
alive, carried her to his house and cured her of her wounds. Now
he had a youthful son, who, as soon as he saw her, loved her and
besought her of her person; but she refused and consented not to
him, whereupon he redoubled in love and longing and his case
prompted him to suborn a youth of the people of his village and
agree with him that he should come by night and take somewhat
from his father's house and that, when he was seized and
discovered, he should say that she was his accomplice in this and
avouch that she was his mistress and had been stoned on his
account in the city. Accordingly he did this, and, coming by
night to the villager's house, stole therefrom goods and clothes;
whereupon the owner awoke and seizing the thief, pinioned him
straitly and beat him to make him confess; and he confessed
against the woman that she was a partner in the crime and that he
was her lover from the city. The news was bruited abroad and the
citizens assembled to put her to death; but the Shaykh with whom
she was forbade them and said, "I brought this woman hither,
coveting the recompense of Allah, and I know not the truth of
that which is said of her and will not empower any to hurt or
harm her." Then he gave her a thousand dirhams, by way of alms,
and thrust her forth of the village. As for the thief, he was
imprisoned for some days; after which the folk interceded for him
with the old man, saying, "This is a youth and indeed he erred;"
and he released him from his bonds. Meanwhile the woman went out
at hap-hazard and donning a devotee's dress, fared on without
ceasing, till she came to a city and found the king's deputies
dunning the townsfolk for the tribute, out of season. Presently,
she saw a man, whom they were pressing for the tribute; so she
asked of his case and being acquainted with it, paid down the
thousand dirhams for him and delivered him from the bastinado;
whereupon he thanked her and those who were present. When he was
set free, he walked with her and besought her to go with him to
his dwelling: accordingly, she accompanied him thither and supped
with him and passed the night. When the dark hours gloomed on
him, his soul prompted him to evil, for that which he saw of her
beauty and loveliness, and he lusted after her, and required her
of her person; but she rejected him and threatened him with Allah
the Most High and reminded him of that which she had done with
him of kindness and how she had delivered him from the stick and
its disgrace. However, he would not be denied, and when he saw
her persistent refusal of herself to him, he feared lest she
should tell the folk of him. So, when he arose in the morning, he
wrote on a paper what he would of forgery and falsehood and going
up to the Sultan's palace, said, "I have an advisement for the
King." So he bade admit him and he delivered him the writ he had
forged, saying, "I found this letter with the woman, the devotee,
the ascetic, and indeed she is a spy, a secret informer against
the sovran to his foe; and I deem the King's due more incumbent
on me than any other claim and warning him to be the first duty,
for that he uniteth in himself all the subjects, and but for the
King's existence, the lieges would perish; wherefore I have
brought thee good counsel." The King gave credit to his words and
sent with him those who should lay hands upon the Devotee and do
her to death; but they found her not. As for the woman, when the
man went out from her, she resolved to depart; so she fared
forth, saying to herself, "There is no wayfaring for me in
woman's habit." Then she donned men's dress, such as is worn of
the pious, and set out and wandered over the earth; nor did she
cease wandering till she entered a certain city. Now the king of
that city had an only daughter, in whom he gloried and whom he
loved, and she saw the Devotee and deeming her a pilgrim youth,
said to her father, "I would fain have this youth take up his
lodging with me, so I may learn of him lere and piety and
religion." Her father rejoiced in this and commanded the pilgrim
to take up his abode with his daughter in his palace. So they
were in one place and the Princess was strenuous to the uttermost
in continence and chastity and nobility of mind and magnanimity
and devotion; but the ignorant tattled anent her and the folk of
the realm said, "The king's daughter loveth the pilgrim youth and
he loveth her." Now the king was a very old man and destiny
decreed the ending of his life-term; so he died and when he was
buried, the lieges assembled and many were the sayings of the
people and of the king's kinsfolk and officers, and they
counselled together to slay the Princess and the young pilgrim,
saying, "This fellow dishonoureth us with yonder whore and none
accepteth shame save the base." So they fell upon them and slew
the king's daughter in her mosque, without asking her of aught;
whereupon the pious woman (whom they deemed a youth) said to
them, "Woe to you, O miscreants! Ye have slain the pious lady."
Quoth they, "O thou fulsome fellow, dost thou bespeak us thus?
Thou lovedst her and she loved thee, and we will assuredly slay
thee." And quoth she, "Allah forfend. Indeed, the affair is the
clear reverse of this." They asked, "What proof hast thou of
that?" and she answered, "Bring me women." They did so, and when
the matrons looked on her, they found her a woman. As soon as the
townsfolk saw this, they repented of that they had done and the
affair was grievous to them; so they sought pardon of Allah and
said to her, "By the virtue of Him whom thou servest, do thou
crave pardon for us." Said she, "As for me, I may no longer tarry
with you and I am about to depart from you." Then they humbled
themselves before her and shed tears and said to her, "We conjure
thee, by the might of Allah the Most High, that thou take upon
thyself the rule of the realm and of the lieges." But she refused
and drew her back; whereupon they came up to her and wept and
ceased not supplicating her, till she consented and undertook the
kingship. Her first commandment to them was that they bury the
Princess and build over her a dome and she abode in that palace,
worshipping the Almighty and dealing judgment between the people
with justice, and Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) vouchsafed
her, for the excellence of her piety and her patience and
renunciation, the acceptance of her prayers, so that she sought
not aught of Him (to whom belong Might and Majesty), but He
granted her petition; and her fame was bruited abroad in all
lands. Accordingly, the folk resorted to her from all parts and
she used to pray Allah (to whom belong Might and Majesty) for the
oppressed and the Lord granted him relief, and against his
oppressor, and He brake him asunder; and she prayed for the sick
and they were made sound; and in this goodly way she tarried a
great space of time. So fared it with the wife; but as for her
husband, when he returned from the pilgrimage, his brother and
the neighbours acquainted him with the affair of his spouse,
whereat he was sore concerned and suspected their story, for that
which he knew of her chastity and prayerfulness; and he shed
tears for the loss of her. Meanwhile, she prayed to Almighty
Allah that He would stablish her innocence in the eyes of her
spouse and the folk, and He sent down upon her husband's brother
a sickness so sore that none knew a cure for him. Wherefore he
said to his brother, "In such a city is a Devotee, a worshipful
woman and a recluse whose prayers are accepted; so do thou carry
me to her, that she may pray for my healing and Allah (to whom
belong Might and Majesty) may give me ease of this disease."
Accordingly, he took him up and journeyed with him, till they
came to the village where dwelt the Shaykh, the grey-beard who
had rescued the devout woman from the pit and carried her to his
dwelling and healed her in his home. Here they halted and lodged
with the old man, who questioned the husband of his case and that
of his brother and the cause of their journey, and he said, "I
purpose to go with my brother, this sick wight, to the holy
woman, her whose petitions are answered, so she may pray for him,
and Allah may heal him by the blessing of her orisons." Quoth the
villager, "By Allah, my son is in parlous plight for sickness and
we have heard that this Devotee prayeth for the sick and they are
made sound. Indeed, the folk counsel me to carry him to her, and
behold,[FN#422] I will go in company with you." And they said,
"'Tis well." So they all nighted in that intent and on the morrow
they set out for the dwelling of the Devotee, this one carrying
his son and that one bearing his brother. Now the man who had
stolen the clothes and had forged against the pious woman a lie,
to wit, that he was her lover, sickened of a sore sickness, and
his people took him up and set out with him to visit the Devotee
and crave her prayers, and Destiny brought them altogether by the
way. So they fared forward in a body till they came to the city
wherein the man dwelt for whom she had paid the thousand dirhams
to deliver him from torture, and found him about to travel to her
by reason of a malady which had betided him. Accordingly, they
all journeyed on together, unknowing that the holy woman was she
whom they had so foully wronged, and ceased not going till they
came to her city and foregathered at the gates of her palace,
that wherein was the tomb of the Princess. Now the folk used to
go in to her and salute her with the salam, and crave her
orisons; and it was her custom to pray for none till he had
confessed to her his sins, when she would ask pardon for him and
pray for him that he might be healed, and he was straightway made
whole of sickness, by permission of Almighty Allah. When the four
sick men were brought in to her, she knew them forthright, though
they knew her not, and said to them "Let each of you confess and
specify his sins, so I may sue pardon for him and pray for him."
And the brother said, "As for me, I required my brother's wife of
her person and she refused; whereupon despite and ignorance
prompted me and I lied against her and accused her to the
townsfolk of adultery; so they stoned her and slew her wrongously
and unrighteously; and this my complaint is the issue of unright
and falsehood and of the slaying of the innocent soul, whose
slaughter Allah hath made unlawful to man." Then said the youth,
the old villager's son, "And I, O holy woman, my father brought
to us a woman who had been stoned, and my people nursed her till
she recovered. Now she was rare of beauty and loveliness; so I
required of her her person; but she refused and clave in chastity
to Allah (to whom belong Might and Majesty), wherefore ignorance
prompted me, so that I agreed with one of the youths that he
should steal clothes and coin from my father's house. Then I laid
hands on him and carried him to my sire and made him confess. He
declared that the woman was his mistress from the city and had
been stoned on his account and that she was his accomplice in the
theft and had opened the doors to him; but this was a lie against
her, for that she had not yielded to me in that which I sought of
her. So there befel me what ye see of requital." And the young
man, the thief, said, "I am he with whom thou agreedst concerning
the theft, and to whom thou openedst the door, and I am he who
accused her falsely and calumniously and Allah (extolled be He!)
well knoweth that I never did evil with her; no, nor knew her in
any way before that time." Then said he whom she had delivered
from torture by paying down a thousand dirhams and who had
required of her her person in his house, for that her beauty
pleased him, and when she refused had forged a letter against her
and treacherously denounced her to the Sultan and requited her
graciousness with ingratitude, "I am he who wronged her and lied
against her, and this is the issue of the oppressor's affair."
When she heard their words, in the presence of the folk, she
cried, "Alhamdolillah, praise be to Allah, the King who over all
things is omnipotent, and blessing upon His prophets and
apostles!" Then quoth she to the assembly, "Bear testimony, O ye
here present, to these men's speech, and know ye I am that woman
whom they confess to having wronged." And she turned to her
husband's brother and said to him, "I am thy brother's wife and
Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) delivered me from that
whereinto thou castedst me of calumny and suspicion, and from the
folly and frowardness whereof thou hast spoken, and now hath He
shown forth my innocence, of His bounty and generosity. Go, for
thou art quit of the wrong thou didst me." Then she prayed for
him and he was made sound of his sickness. Thereupon she said to
the son of the village Shaykh, "Know that I am the woman whom thy
father delivered from strain and stress and whom there betided
from thee of calumny and ignorance that which thou hast named."
And she sued pardon for him and he was made sound of his
sickness. Then said she to the thief, "I am the woman against
whom thou liedst, avouching that I was thy leman who had been
stoned on thine account, and that I was thine accomplice in
robbing the house of the village Shaykh and had opened the doors
to thee." And she prayed for him and he was made whole of his
malady.[FN#423] Then said she to the townsman, him of the
tribute, "I am the woman who gave thee the thousand dirhams and
thou didst with me what thou didst." And she asked pardon for him
and prayed for him and he was made whole; whereupon the folk
marvelled at her enemies who had all been afflicted alike, so
Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) might show forth her
innocence upon the heads of witnesses.[FN#424] Then she turned to
the old man who had delivered her from the pit and prayed for him
and gave him presents manifold and among them a myriad, a
Badrah;[FN#425] and the sick made whole departed from her. When
she was alone with her husband, she made him draw near unto her
and rejoiced in his arrival, and gave him the choice of abiding
with her. Presently, she assembled the citizens and notified to
them his virtue and worth and counselled them to invest him with
management of their rule and besought them to make him king over
them. They consented to her on this and he became king and made
his home amongst them, whilst she gave herself up to her orisons
and cohabited with her husband as she was with him aforetime.
"Nor," continued the Wazir, "is this tale, O king of the time,
stranger or pleasanter than that of the Hireling and the Girl
whose maw he slit and fled." When King Shah Bakht heard this, he
said, "Most like all they say of the Minister is leasing, and his
innocence will be made manifest even as that of the Devotee was
manifested." Then he comforted the Wazir's heart and bade him hie
to his house.

The Nineteenth Night of the Month.

When the evening evened, the King bade fetch the Wazir and sought
of him the story of the Hireling and the Girl. So he said,
"Hearkening and obedience. Give ear, O auspicious King, to

The Tale of the Hireling and the Girl.

There was once, of old time, in one of the tribes of the Arabs, a
woman pregnant by her husband, and they had a hired servant, a
man of insight and understanding. When the woman came to her
delivery-time, she gave birth to a girl-child in the night and
they sought fire of the neighbours.[FN#426] So the Hireling went
in quest of fire. Now there was in the camp a Divineress,[FN#427]
and she questioned him of the new-born child, an it was male or
female. Quoth he, "'Tis a girl;" and quoth she, "That girl will
whore with an hundred men and a hireling shall wed her and a
spider shall slay her." When the hired man heard this, he
returned upon his steps and going in to the woman, took the child
from her by wily management and slit its maw: then he fled forth
into the wold at hap-hazard and abode in strangerhood while Allah
so willed.[FN#428] He gained much money; and, returning to his
own land, after twenty years' absence, alighted in the
neighbourhood of an old woman, whom he wheedled and treated with
liberality, requiring of her a young person whom he might enjoy
without marriage. Said she, "I know none but a certain fair
woman, who is renowned for this industry." Then she described her
charms to him and made him lust after her, and he said, "Hasten
to her this minute and lavish upon her whatso she asketh." So the
crone betook herself to the girl and discovered his wishes to her
and invited her to him; but she answered, "'Tis true that I was
in the habit of whoredom, but now I have repented to Almighty
Allah and have no more longing to this: nay, I desire lawful
wedlock; so, if he be content with that which is legal, I am
between his hands."[FN#429] The old woman returned to the man and
told him what the damsel said; and he lusted after her, because
of her beauty and her penitence; so he took her to wife, and when
he went in to her, he loved her and after like fashion she loved
him. Thus they abode a great while, till one day he questioned
her of the cause of a scar[FN#430] he espied on her body, and she
said, "I wot naught thereof save that my mother told me a
marvellous thing concerning it." Asked he, "What was that?" and
she answered, "My mother declared that she gave birth to me one
night of the wintry nights and despatched a hired man, who was
with us, in quest of fire for her. He was absent a little while
and presently returning, took me and slit my maw and fled. When
my mother saw this, chagrin seized her and compassion possessed
her; so she sewed up my stomach and nursed me till the wound
healed by the ordinance of Allah (to whom belong Might and
Majesty)." When her husband heard this, he said to her, "What is
thy name and what may be the name of thy mother and who may be
thy father?" She told him their names and her own, whereby he
knew that it was she whose maw he had slit and said to her, "And
where are thy father and mother?" "They are both dead." "I am
that Hireling who slit thy stomach." "Why didst thou that?"
"Because of a saying I heard from the wise woman." "What was it?"
"She declared thou wouldst play the whore with an hundred men and
that I after that should wed thee." "Ay, I have whored with an
hundred men, no more and no less, and behold, thou hast married
me." "The Divineress also foresaid that thou shouldst die, at the
last of thy life, of the bite of a spider. Indeed, her saying
hath been verified of the fornication and the marriage, and I
fear lest her word come true no less in the death." Then they
betook themselves to a place without the city, where he builded
him a mansion of solid stone and white stucco and stopped its
inner walls and plastered them; leaving not therein or cranny or
crevice, and he set in it two slavegirls whose services were
sweeping and wiping, for fear of spiders. Here he abode with his
wife a great while, till one day the man espied a spider on the
ceiling and beat it down. When his wife saw it, she said, "This
is that which the wise woman foresaid would slay me; so, by thy
life, suffer me to kill it with mine own hand." Her husband
forbade her from this, but she conjured him to let her destroy
the spider; then, of her fearfulness and her eagerness, she took
a piece of wood and smote it. The wood brake of the force of the
blow, and a splinter from it entered her hand and wrought upon
it, so that it swelled. Then her fore-arm also swelled and the
swelling spread to her side and thence grew till it reached her
heart and she died. "Nor" (continued the Wazir), "is this
stranger or more wondrous than the story of the Weaver who became
a Leach by commandment of his wife." When the King heard this,
his admiration redoubled and he said, "In very truth, Destiny is
written to all creatures, and I will not accept aught that is
said against my Minister the loyal counsellor." And he bade him
hie to his home.

The Twentieth Night of the Month.

When the evening evened, the King bade summon his Minister and he
presented himself before him, whereupon he required of him the
hearing of the story. So the Wazir said, "Hearkening and
obedience. Give ear, O King, to

The Tale of the Weaver who Became a Leach by Order of his

There was once, in the land of Fars,[FN#431] a man who wedded a
woman higher than himself in rank and nobler of lineage, but she
had no guardian to preserve her from want. She loathed to marry
one who was beneath her; yet she wived with him because of need,
and took of him a bond in writing to the effect that he would
ever be under her order to bid and forbid and would never thwart
her in word or in deed. Now the man was a Weaver and he bound
himself in writing to pay his wife ten thousand dirhams in case
of default. Atfer such fashion they abode a long while till one
day the wife went out to fetch water, of which she had need, and
saw a leach who had spread a carpet hard by the road, whereon he
had set out great store of simples[FN#432] and implements of
medicine and he was speaking and muttering charms, whilst the
folk flocked to him from all quarters and girt him about on every
side. The Weaver's wife marvelled at the largeness of the
physician's fortune[FN#433] and said in herself, "Were my husband
thus, he would lead an easy life and that wherein we are of
straitness and poverty would be widened to him." Then she
returned home, cark-full and care-full, and when her husband saw
her in this condition, he questioned her of her case and she said
to him, "Verily, my breast is harrowed by reason of thee and of
the very goodness of thine intent," presently adding, "Narrow
means suit me not and thou in thy present craft gainest naught;
so either do thou seek out a business other than this or pay me
my rightful due[FN#434] and let me wend my ways." Her husband
chid her for this and advised her to take patience; but she would
not be turned from her design and said to him, "Go forth and
watch yonder physician how he doth and learn from him what he
saith." Said he, "Let not thy heart be troubled," and added, "I
will go every day to the session of the leach." So he began
resorting daily to the physician and committing to memory his
answers and that which he spoke of jargon,[FN#435] till he had
gotten a great matter by rote, and all this he learned and
thoroughly digested it. Then he returned to his wife and said to
her, "I have stored up the physician's sayings in memory and have
mastered his manner of muttering and diagnoses and prescribing
remedies and I wot by heart the names of the medicines[FN#436]
and of all the diseases, and there abideth of thy bidding naught
undone: so what dost thou command me now to do?" Quoth she,
"Leave the loom and open thyself a leach's shop;" but quoth he,
"My fellow-townsmen know me and this affair will not profit me,
save in a land of strangerhood; so come, let us go out from this
city and get us to a foreign land and there live." And she said,
"Do whatso thou willest." Accordingly, he arose and taking his
weaving gear, sold it and bought with the price drugs and simples
and wrought himself a carpet, with which they set out and
journeyed to a certain village, where they took up their abode.
Then the man fell to going round about the hamlets and villages
and outskirts of towns, after donning leach's dress; and he began
to earn his livelihood and make much gain. Their affairs
prospered and their circumstances were bettered; wherefore they
praised Allah for their present ease and the village became to
them a home. In this way he lived for a long time, but at length
he wandered anew,[FN#437] and the days and the nights ceased not
to transport him from country to country, till he came to the
land of the Roum and lighted down in a city of the cities
thereof, wherein was Jálinús[FN#438] the Sage; but the Weaver
knew him not, nor was aware who he was. So he fared forth, as was
his wont, in quest of a place where the folk might be gathered
together, and hired the courtyard[FN#439] of Jalinus. There he
spread his carpet and setting out on it his simples and
instruments of medicine, praised himself and his skill and
claimed a cleverness such as none but he might claim.[FN#440]
Jalinus heard that which he affirmed of his understanding and it
was certified unto him and established in his mind that the man
was a skilled leach of the leaches of the Persians and he said in
himself, "Unless he had confidence in his knowledge and were
minded to confront me and contend with me, he had not sought the
door of my house neither had he spoken that which he hath
spoken." And care and doubt gat hold upon Jalinus: so he drew
near the Weaver and addressed himself to see how his doings
should end, whilst the folk began to flock to him and describe to
him their ailments,[FN#441] and he would answer them thereof,
hitting the mark one while and missing it another while, so that
naught appeared to Jalinus of his fashion whereby his mind might
be assured that he had justly estimated his skill. Presently, up
came a woman with a urinal,[FN#442] and when the Weaver saw the
phial afar off, he said to her, "This is the water of a man, a
stranger." Said she, "Yes;" and he continued, "Is he not a Jew
and is not his ailment flatulence?" "Yes," replied the woman, and
the folk marvelled at this; wherefore the man was magnified in
the eyes of Jalinus, for that he heard speech such as was not of
the usage of doctors, seeing that they know not urine but by
shaking it and looking straitly thereon, neither wot they a man's
water from a woman's water, nor a stranger's from a countryman's,
nor a Jew's from a Sharif's.[FN#443] Then the woman asked, "What
is the remedy?" and the Weaver answered, "Bring the
honorarium."[FN#444] So she paid him a dirham and he gave her
medicines contrary to that ailment and such as would only
aggravate the complaint. When Jalinus saw what appeared to him of
the man's incapacity, he turned to his disciples and pupils and
bade them fetch the mock doctor, with all his gear and drugs.
Accordingly they brought him into his presence without stay or
delay, and when Jalinus saw him before him, he asked him,
"Knowest thou me?" and the other answered, "No, nor did I ever
set eyes on thee before this day." Quoth the Sage, "Dost thou
know Jalinus?" and quoth the Weaver, "No." Then said Jalinus,
"What drave thee to do that which thou dost?" So he acquainted
him with his adventure, especially with the dowry and the
obligation by which he was bound with regard to his wife whereat
the Sage marvelled and certified himself anent the matter of the
marriage-settlement. Then he bade lodge him near himself and
entreated him with kindness and took him apart and said to him,
"Expound to me the story of the urine-phial and whence thou
knewest that the water therein was that of a man, and he a
stranger and a Jew, and that his ailment was flatulence?" The
Weaver replied, "'Tis well. Thou must know that we people of
Persia are skilled in physiognomy,[FN#445] and I saw the woman to
be rosy-cheeked, blue-eyed and tall-statured. Now these qualities
belong to women who are enamoured of a man and are distracted for
love of him;[FN#446] moreover, I saw her burning with anxiety; so
I knew that the patient was her husband.[FN#447] As for his
strangerhood, I noted that the dress of the woman differed from
that of the townsfolk, wherefore I knew that she was a foreigner;
and in the mouth of the phial I saw a yellow rag,[FN#448] which
garred me wot that the sick man was a Jew and she a Jewess.
Moreover, she came to me on first day;[FN#449] and 'tis the Jews'
custom to take meat puddings[FN#450] and food that hath passed
the night[FN#451] and eat them on the Saturday their Sabbath, hot
and cold, and they exceed in eating; wherefore flatulence and
indigestion betide them. Thus I was directed and guessed that
which thou hast heard." Now when Jalinus heard this, he ordered
the Weaver the amount of his wife's dowry and bade him pay it to
her and said to him, "Divorce her." Furthermore, he forbade him
from returning to the practice of physic and warned him never
again to take to wife a woman of rank higher than his own; and he
gave him his spending money and charged him return to his proper
craft. "Nor" (continued the Wazir), "is this tale stranger or
rarer than the story of the Two Sharpers who each cozened his
Compeer." When King Shah Bakht heard this, he said to himself,
"How like is this story to my present case with this Minister,
who hath not his like!" Then he bade him hie to his own house and
come again at eventide.

The Twenty-first Night of the Month.

Whenas nighted the night, the Wazir presented himself before the
King, who bade him relate the promised story. So he said,
"Hearkening and obedience. Give ear, O king, to

The Tale of the Two Sharpers who each Cozened his

There was once, in the city of Baghdad, a man hight
Al-Marwazí,[FN#452] who was a sharper and ruined the folk with
his rogueries and he was renowned in all quarters for knavery. He
went out one day, carrying a load of sheep's droppings, and sware
to himself that he would not return to his lodging till he had
sold it at the price of raisins. Now there was in another city a
second sharper, hight Al-Rází,[FN#453] one of its worst, who went
out the same day, bearing a load of goat's droppings,[FN#454]
anent which he had sworn to himself that he would not sell it but
at the price of sundried figs. So the twain fared on with that
which was by them and ceased not going till they met in one of
the khans[FN#455] and one complained to other of what he had
suffered on travel in quest of gain and of the little demand for
his wares. Now each of them had it in mind to cheat his fellow;
so the man of Marw said to the man of Rayy, "Wilt thou sell me
that?" He said, "Yes," and the other continued, "And wilt thou
buy that which is with me?" The man of Rayy consented; so they
agreed upon this and each of them sold to his mate that which was
with him in exchange for the other's; after which they bade
farewell and both fared forth. As soon as the twain were out of
sight, they examined their loads, to see what was therein, and
one of them found that he had a load of sheep's droppings and the
other that he had a load of goat's droppings; whereupon each of
them turned back in quest of his fellow. They met again in the
khan and laughing at each other cancelled their bargain; then
they agreed to enter into partnership and that all they had of
money and other good should be in common, share and share alike.
Then quoth Al-Razi to Al-Marwazi, "Come with me to my city, for
that 'tis nearer than thine." So he went with him, and when he
arrived at his quarters, he said to his wife and household and
neighbours, "This is my brother, who hath been absent in the land
of Khorasan and is come back." And he abode with him in all
honour for a space of three days. On the fourth day, Al-Razi said
to him, "Know, O my brother, that I purpose to do something." The
other asked, "What is it?" and the first answered, "I mean to
feign myself dead and do thou go to the bazar and hire two
porters and a bier. Then take me up and go about the streets and
markets with my body and collect alms on my account."[FN#456]
Accordingly the Marw man repaired to the market and, fetching
that which he sought, returned to the Rayy man's house, where he
found his fellow cast down in the entrancepassage, with his beard
tied and his eyes shut, and his complexion was paled and his
belly was blown and his limbs were loose. So he deemed him really
dead and shook him but he spoke not; then he took a knife and
pricked his feet, but he budged not. Presently said Al-Razi,
"What is this, O fool?" and said Al-Marwazi, "I deemed thou wast
dead in very deed." Al-Razi cried, "Get thee to business, and
leave funning." So he took him up and went with him to the market
and collected alms for him that day till eventide, when he bore
him back to his abode and waited till the morrow. Next morning,
he again took up the bier and walked round with it as before, in
quest of charity. Presently, the Chief of Police, who was of
those who had given him alms on the previous day, met him; so he
was angered and fell on the porters and beat them and took the
dead body, saying, "I will bury him and win reward in
Heaven."[FN#457] So his followers took him up and carrying him to
the Police-officer, fetched gravediggers, who dug him a grave.
Then they brought him a shroud and perfumes[FN#458] and fetched
an old man of the quarter, to wash him: so the Shaykh recited
over him the appointed prayers[FN#459] and laying him on the
bench, washed him and shrouded him. After he had been shrouded he
skited;[FN#460] so the grey-beard renewed the washing and went
away to make the Wuzu-ablution, whilst all the folk departed to
do likewise, before the orisons of the funeral. When the dead man
found himself alone, he sprang up, as he were a Satan; and,
donning the corpse-washer's dress,[FN#461] took the cups and
water-can[FN#462] and wrapped them up in the napkins; then he
clapped his shroud under his armpit and went out. The doorkeepers
thought that he was the washer and asked him, "Hast thou made an
end of the washing, so we may acquaint the Emir?" The sharper
answered "Yes," and made off to his abode, where he found the
Marw man a-wooing his wife and saying to her, "By thy life, thou
wilt never again look upon his face for the best reason that by
this time he is buried: I myself escaped not from them but after
toil and trouble, and if he speak, they will do him to death."
Quoth she, "And what wouldst thou have of me?" and quoth he,
"Satisfy my desire and heal my disorder, for I am better than thy
husband." And he began toying with her as a prelude to
possession. Now when the Rayy man heard this, he said, "Yonder
wittol-pimp lusteth after my wife; but I will at once do him a
damage." Then he rushed in upon them, and when Al-Marwazi saw
him, he wondered at him and said to him, "How didst thou make
thine escape?" Accordingly he told him the trick he had played
and they abode talking of that which they had collected from the
folk, and indeed they had gotten great store of money. Then said
the man of Marw, "In very sooth, mine absence hath been prolonged
and lief would I return to my own land." Al-Razi said, "As thou
willest;" and the other rejoined, "Let us divide the monies we
have made and do thou go with me to my home, so I may show thee
my tricks and my works." Replied the man of Rayy, "Come
to-morrow, and we will divide the coin." So the Marw man went
away and the other turned to his wife and said to her, "We have
collected us great plenty of money, and the dog would fain take
the half of it; but such thing shall never be, for my mind hath
been changed against him, since I heard him making love to thee;
now, therefore, I propose to play him a trick and enjoy all the
money; and do thou not oppose me." She replied, "'Tis well;" and
he said to her, "To-morrow, at peep o' day I will feign myself
dead, and do thou cry aloud and tear thy hair, whereupon the folk
will flock to me. Then lay me out and bury me; and, when the folk
are gone away from the grave, dig down to me and take me; and
fear not for me, as I can abide without harm two days in the
tomb-niche."[FN#463] Whereto she made answer, "Do e'en whatso
thou wilt." Accordingly, when it was the dawn-hour, she bound his
beard and spreading a veil over him, shrieked aloud, whereupon
the people of the quarter flocked to her, men and women.
Presently, up came AlMarwazi, for the division of the money, and
hearing the keening asked, "What may be the news?" Quoth they,
"Thy brother is dead;" and quoth he in himself, "The accursed
fellow cozeneth me, so he may get all the coin for himself, but I
will presently do with him what shall soon requicken him." Then
he tare the bosom of his robe and bared his head, weeping and
saying, "Alas, my brother, ah! Alas, my chief, ah! Alas, my lord,
ah!" Then he went in to the men, who rose and condoled with him.
Then he accosted the Rayy man's wife and said to her, "How came
his death to occur?" Said she, "I know nothing except that, when
I arose in the morning, I found him dead." Moreover, he
questioned her of the money which was with her, but she cried, "I
have no knowledge of this and no tidings." So he sat down at his
fellow-sharper's head, and said to him, "Know, O Razi, that I
will not leave thee till after ten days with their nights,
wherein I will wake and sleep by thy grave. So rise and don't be
a fool." But he answered him not, and the man of Marw drew his
knife and fell to sticking it into the other's hands and feet,
purposing to make him move; but he stirred not and he presently
grew weary of this and determined that the sharper was really
dead. However, he still had his suspicions and said to himself,
"This fellow is falsing me, so he may enjoy all the money."
Therewith he began to prepare the body for burial and bought for
it perfumes and whatso was needed. Then they brought him to the
washing-place and Al-Marwazi came to him; and, heating water till
it boiled and bubbled and a third of it was evaporated, fell to
pouring it on his skin, so that it turned bright red and lively
blue and was blistered; but he abode still on one case.[FN#464]
Presently they wrapped him in the shroud and set him on the bier,
which they took up and bearing him to the burial-place, placed
him in the grave-niche and filled in the earth; after which the
folk dispersed. But the Marw man and the widow abode by the tomb,
weeping, and ceased not sitting till sundown, when the woman said
to him, "Come, let us hie us home, for this weeping will not
profit us, nor will it restore the dead." He replied to her, "By
Allah, I will not budge hence till I have slept and waked by this
tomb ten days with their nights!" When she heard this his speech,
she feared lest he should keep his word and his oath, and so her
husband perish; but she said in her mind, "This one dissembleth:
an I leave him and return to my house, he will tarry by him a
little while and go away." And Al-Marwazi said to her, "Arise,
thou, and hie thee home." So she arose and repaired to her house,
whilst the man of Marw abode in his place till the night was half
spent, when he said to himself, "How long? Yet how can I let this
knavish dog die and lose the money? Better I open the tomb on him
and bring him forth and take my due of him by dint of grievous
beating and torment." Accordingly, he dug him up and pulled him
forth of the grave; after which he betook himself to a garden
hard by the burial-ground and cut thence staves and
palmfronds.[FN#465] Then he tied the dead man's legs and laid on
to him with the staff and beat him a grievous beating; but the
body never budged. When the time grew longsome on him, his
shoulders became a-weary and he feared lest some one of the watch
passing on his round should surprise and seize him. So he took up
Al-Razi and carrying him forth of the cemetery, stayed not till
he came to the Magians' mortuary place and casting him down in a
Tower of Silence,[FN#466] rained heavy blows upon him till his
shoulders failed him, but the other stirred not. Then he seated
him by his side and rested; after which he rose and renewed the
beating upon him; and thus he did till the end of the night, but
without making him move. Now, as Destiny decreed, a band of
robbers whose wont it was, when they had stolen any, thing, to
resort to that place and there divide their loot, came thither in
early-dawn, according to their custom; they numbered ten and they
had with them much wealth which they were carrying. When they
approached the Tower of Silence, they heard a noise of blows
within it and their captain cried, "This is a Magian whom the
Angels[FN#467] are tormenting." So they entered the cemetery and
as soon as they arrived over against him, the man of Marw feared
lest they should be the watchmen come upon him, therefore he fled
and stood among the tombs.[FN#468] The robbers advanced to the
place and finding a man of Rayy bound by the feet and by him some
seventy sticks, wondered at this with exceeding wonder and said,
"Allah confound thee! This was a miscreant, a man of many crimes;
for earth hath rejected him from her womb, and by my life, he is
yet fresh! This is his first night in the tomb and the Angels
were tormenting him but now; so whoso of you hath a sin upon his
soul, let him beat him, by way of offering to Almighty Allah."
The robbers said, "We be sinners one and all;" so each of them
went up to the corpse and dealt it about an hundred blows, one
saying the while, "This is for my father!"[FN#469] and another
laid on to him crying, "This is for my grandfather!" whilst a
third muttered, "This is for my brother!" and a fourth exclaimed,
"This is for my mother!" And they gave not over taking turns at
him and beating him till they were weary, whilst Al-Marwazi stood
laughing and saying in self, "'Tis not I alone who have entered
into default against him. There is no Majesty and there is no
Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!"[FN#470] Then the
robbers applied themselves to sharing their loot wherein was a
sword which caused them to fall out anent the man who should take
it. Quoth the Captain, "'Tis my rede that we make proof of it;
so, an it be a fine blade, we shall know its worth, and if it be
worthless we shall know that;" whereto they said, "Try it on this
corpse, for it is fresh." So the Captain took the sword, and
drawing it, brandished and made a false cut with it; but, when
the man of Rayy saw this, he felt sure of death and said in his
mind, "I have borne the washing-slab and the boiling water and
the pricking with the knife-point and the grave-niche and its
straitness and all this, trusting in Allah that I might be
delivered from death, and indeed I have been delivered; but the
sword I may not suffer seeing that one stroke of it will make me
a dead man." So saying, he sprang to his feet and seizing a
thigh-bone of one departed, shouted at the top of his voice, "O
ye dead ones, take them to yourselves!" And he smote one of them,
whilst his mate of Marw smote another and they cried out at them
and buffeted them on their neck-napes: whereupon the robbers left
that which was with them of loot and ran away; and indeed their
wits took flight for terror and they ceased not running till they
came forth of the Magians' mortuary-ground and left it a
parasang's length behind them, when they halted, trembling and
affrighted for the muchness of that which had befallen them of
fear and awe of the dead.[FN#471] As for Al-Razi and AlMarwazi,
they made peace each with other and sat down to share the spoil.
Quoth the man of Marw, "I will not give thee a dirham of this
money, till thou pay me my due of the monies that be in thy
house." And quoth the man of Rayy, "I will do naught of the
kind,[FN#472] nor will I withdraw this from aught of my due." So
they fell out thereupon and disputed each with other and either
of the twain went saying to his fellow, "I will not give thee a
dirham!" Wherefore words ran high between them and the brawl was
prolonged. Meanwhile, when the robbers halted, one of them said
to the others, "Let us go back and see;" and the Captain said,
"This thing is impossible of the dead: never heard we that they
came to life in such way. Return we and take our monies, for that
the dead have no need of money." And they were divided in opinion
as to returning: but presently one said, "Indeed, our weapons are
gone and we may not prevail against them and will not draw near
the place: only let one of us go look at it, and if he hear no
sound of them, let him suggest to us what we shall do." At this
they agreed that they should send a man of them and assigned him
for such mission two parts of the plunder. Accordingly he
returned to the burial-ground and gave not over going till he
stood at the door of the Tower of Silence, when he heard the
words of Al-Marwazi to his fellow, "I will not give thee a single
dirham of the money!" The other said the same and they were
occupied with brawling and abuse and talk. So the robber returned
in haste to his mates, who said, "What is behind thee?"[FN#473]
Quoth he, "Get you gone and run for your lives, O fools, and save
yourselves: much people of the dead are come to life and between
them are words and brawls." Hereat the robbers fled, whilst the
two sharpers returned to the man of Rayy's house and made peace
and added the robbers' spoil to the monies they had gained and
lived a length of time. "Nor, O king of the age" (continued the
Wazir), "is this stranger or rarer than the story of the Four
Sharpers with the Shroff and the Ass." When the king heard this
story, he smiled and it pleased him and he bade the Minister to
his own house.

The Twenty-second Night of the Month.

When the evening evened, King Shah Bakht summoned the Wazir and
required of him the hearing of the story. So Al-Rahwan said,
"Hearkening and obedience. Give ear, O King, to

The Tale of the Sharpers with the Shroff[FN#474] and the Ass.

Four sharpers once plotted against a Shroff, a man of much
wealth, and agreed upon a sleight for securing some of his coins.
So one of them took an ass and laying on it a bag, wherein were
dirhams, lighted down at the shop of the Shroff and sought of him
small change. The man of monies brought out to him the silver
bits and bartered them with him, whilst the sharper was easy with
him in the matter of exchange, so he might gar him long for more
gain. As they were thus, up came the other three sharpers and
surrounded the donkey; and one of them said, "'Tis he," and
another said, "Wait till I look at him." Then he took to
considering the ass and stroking him from crest[FN#475] to tail;
whilst the third went up to him and handled him and felt him from
head to rump, saying, "Yes, 'tis in him." Said another, "No, 'tis
not in him;" and they left not doing the like of this for some
time. Then they accosted the donkey's owner and chaffered with
him and he said, "I will not sell him but for ten thousand
dirhams." They offered him a thousand dirhams; but he refused and
swore that he would not vend the ass but for that which he had
said. They ceased not adding to their offer till the price
reached five thousand dirhams, whilst their mate still said,
"I'll not vend him save for ten thousand silver pieces." The
Shroff advised him to sell, but he would not do this and said to
him, "Ho, shaykh! Thou wottest not the case of this donkey. Stick
to silver and gold and what pertaineth thereto of exchange and
small change; because indeed the virtue of this ass is a mystery
to thee. For every craft its crafty men and for every means of
livelihood its peculiar people." When the affair was prolonged
upon the three sharpers, they went away and sat down aside; then
they came up privily to the money-changer and said to him, "An
thou can buy him for us, do so, and we will give thee twenty
dirhams." Quoth he, "Go away and sit down at a distance from
him." So they did as he bade and the Shroff went up to the owner
of the ass and ceased not luring him with lucre and saying,
"Leave these wights and sell me the donkey, and I will reckon him
a present from thee," till he sold him the animal for five
thousand and five hundred dirhams. Accordingly the ,money-changer
weighed out to him that sum of his own monies, and the owner of
the ass took the price and delivered the beast to him, saying,
"Whatso shall betide, though he abide a deposit upon thy
neck,[FN#476] sell him not to yonder cheats for less than ten
thousand dirhams, for that they would fain buy him because of a
hidden hoard they know, whereto naught can guide them save this
donkey. So close thy hand on him and cross me not, or thou shalt
repent." With these words he left him and went away, whereupon up
came the three other sharpers, the comrades of him of the ass,
and said to the Shroff, "God requite thee for us with good, in
that thou hast bought him! How can we reward thee?" Quoth he, "I
will not sell him but for ten thousand dirhams." When they heard
that they returned to the ass and fell again to examining him
like buyers and handling him. Then said they to the
money-changer, "Indeed we were deceived in him. This is not the
ass we sought and he is not worth to us more than ten
nusfs."[FN#477] Then they left him and offered to go away,
whereat the Shroff was sore chagrined and cried out at their
speech, saying, "O folk, ye asked me to buy him for you and now I
have bought him, ye say, we were deceived in him, and he is not
worth to us more than ten nusfs." They replied, "We thought that
in him was whatso we wanted; but, behold, in him is the contrary
of that which we wish; and indeed he hath a blemish, for that he
is short of back." Then they made long noses[FN#478] at him and
went away from him and dispersed. The money-changer deemed they
did but play him off, that they might get the donkey at their own
price; but, when they walked away from him and he had long
awaited their return, he cried out saying, "Well-away!" and
"Ruin!" and "Sorry case I am in!" and shrieked aloud and rent his
raiment. So the market-people assembled to him and questioned him
of his case; whereupon he acquainted them with his condition and
told them what the knaves had said and how they had cozened him
and how they had cajoled him into buying an ass worth fifty
dirhams[FN#479] for five thousand and five hundred.[FN#480] His
friends blamed him and a gathering of the folk laughed at him and
admired his folly and over-faith in believing the talk of the
sharpers without suspicion, and meddling with that which he
understood not and thrusting himself into that whereof he had no
sure knowledge. "On this wise, O King Shah Bakht" (continued the
Wazir), "is the issue of greed for the goods of the world and
indeed coveting that which our knowledge containeth not shall
lead to ruin and repentance. Nor, O King of the age" (added he),
"is this story stranger than that of the Cheat and the
Merchants." When the King heard these words, he said in himself,
"Indeed, had I given ear to the sayings of my courtiers and
inclined to their idle prate in the matter of my Minister, I had
repented to the utterest of penitence, but Alhamdolillah--laud be
to the Lord--who hath disposed me to endurance and long-suffering
and hath vouchsafed to me patience!" Then he turned to the Wazir
and dismissed him to his dwelling and gave congé to those who
were present, according to his custom.

The Twenty-third Night of the Month.

When the evening evened, the King summoned the Minister and when
he presented himself before him, he required of him the hearing
of the story. So he said, "Hearing and obeying. Give ear, O
illustrious lord, to

The Tale of the Cheat and the Merchants.

There was once in olden time a certain Cheat, who could turn the
ear inside out by his talk, and he was a model of cleverness and
quick wit and skill and mischief. It was his wont to enter a town
and make a show of being a trader and engage in intimacy with
people of worth and sit in session with the merchants, for his
name was noted as a man of virtue and piety. Then he would put a
sleight on them and take of them what he might spend and fare
forth to another stead; and he ceased not to do thus for a while
of time. It chanced one day that he entered a certain city and
sold somewhat that was with him of merchandise and made friends
of the merchants of the place and took to sitting with them and
entertaining them and inviting them to his quarters and his
assembly, whilst they also invited him to their houses. He abode
after such fashion a long time until he was minded to quit the
city; and this was bruited among his intimates, who grieved for
parting from him. Then he betook himself to one of them who was
the richest in substance and the most conspicuous for generosity,
and sat with him and borrowed his goods; and when rising to
depart, he bade him return the deposit that he had left with him.
Quoth the merchant, "And what is the deposit?" and quoth the
Cheat, "'Tis such a purse, with the thousand dinars therein." The
merchant asked, "And when didst thou give me that same?" and the
Cheat answered, "Extolled be Allah of All Might! Was it not on
such a day, by such a token which is thus and thus?" The man
rejoined, "I know naught of this," and words were bandied about
between them, whilst the folk who heard them disputed together
concerning their sayings and doings, till their voices rose high
and the neighbours had knowledge of that which passed between
them.[FN#481] Then said the Cheat, "O people, this is my friend
and I deposited with him a deposit which he denieth having
received: so in whom shall men put trust after this?" And they
said, "This person is a man of worth and we have known in him
naught but trustiness and good faith and the best of breeding,
and he is endowed with sense and manliness.[FN#482] Indeed, he
affirmeth no false claim, for that we have consorted and
associated with him and he with us and we know the sincerity of
his religion." Then quoth one of them to the merchant, "Ho,
Such-an-one! Bethink thee of the past and refresh thy memory. It
cannot be that thou hast forgotten." But quoth he, "O people, I
wot nothing of what he saith, for indeed he deposited naught with
me:" and the matter was prolonged between them. Then said the
Cheat to the merchant, "I am about to travel and I have, praised
be Allah Almighty, much wealth, and this money shall not escape
me; but do thou make oath to me." And the folk said, "Indeed,
this man doth justice upon himself."[FN#483] Whereupon the
merchant fell into that which he disliked[FN#484] and came nigh
upon loss and ill fame. Now he had a friend, who pretended to
sharpness and intelligence; so he came up to him secretly and
said to him, "Let me do so I may cheat this Cheat, for I know him
to be a liar and thou art near upon having to weigh out the gold;
but I will parry off suspicion from thee and say to him, The
deposit is with me and thou erredst in suspecting that it was
with other than myself; and so I will divert him from thee." The
other replied, "Do so, and rid the people of such pretended
debts." Accordingly the friend turned to the Cheat and said to
him, "O my lord, I am Such-an-one, and thou goest under a
delusion. The purse is with me, for it was with me that thou
depositedst it, and this Shaykh is innocent of it." But the Cheat
answered him with impatience and impetuosity, saying, "Extolled
be Allah! As for the purse that is with thee, O noble and
faithful man, I know 'tis under Allah's charge and my heart is
easy anent it, because 'tis with thee as it were with me; but I
began by demanding the purse which I deposited with this man, of
my knowledge that he coveteth the goods of folk." At this the
friend was confounded and put to silence and returned not a
reply; and the only result of his meddling was that each of them-
-merchant and friend--had to pay a thousand gold pieces. So the
Cheat took the two thousand dinars and made off; and when he was
gone, the merchant said to his friend, the man of pretended
sharpness and intelligence, "Ho, Such-an-one! Thou and I are like
the Falcon and the Locust." The friend asked, "What was their
case?" and the merchant answered with

The Story of the Falcon and the Locust.[FN#485]

There was once, of old time, a Falcon who made himself a nest
hard by the home of a Locust, and his neighbour gloried in such
neighbourhood and betaking herself to him, saluted him with the
salam and said, "O my lord and lord of all the birds, indeed the
nearness to thee delighteth me and thou honourest me with thy
vicinity and my soul is fortified with thee." The Falcon thanked
her for this and friendship between them followed. One day, the
Locust said to the bird, "O prince of the flying race, how is it
that I see thee alone, solitary, having with thee no friend of
thy kind, the volatiles, on whom thou mayst repose in time of
gladness and of whom thou mayst seek aid in tide of sadness?
Indeed, 'tis said, ‘Man goeth about seeking ease of body and ward
of strength,' and there is naught in this more necessary to him
than a true friend who shall be the crown of his comfort and the
column of his career and on whom shall be his dependence in his
distress and in his delight. Now I, although ardently desiring
thy weal in that which befitteth thy rank and degree, yet am weak
in that which the soul craveth; but, an thou deign give me leave,
I will seek out for thee one of the birds who shall fellow thee
in body and strength." And the Falcon said, "I commit this to
thee and rely upon thee herein." Thereupon, the Locust began
going round the company of the birds, but saw naught resembling
the Falcon in bulk and body save the Kite and thought well of
her. So she brought the twain together and counselled the Falcon
to foregather with the Kite. Presently it fortuned that the
Falcon fell sick and the Kite tarried with and tended him a long
while till he recovered and became sound and strong, wherefore he
thanked her and she fared from him. But after some days the
Falcon's sickness returned to him and he needed succour of the
Kite, so the Locust went out from him and was absent from him a
day; after which she returned to him with another locust,[FN#486]
saying, "I have brought thee this one." When the Falcon saw her,
he said, "God requite thee with good! Indeed, thou hast done well
in the quest and thou hast shown subtlety and discrimination in
the choice." All this befel because the Locust had no knowledge
of the essence which lurketh in the outer semblance of bodies.
"As for thee, O my brother (Allah requite thee with weal!), thou
wast subtle in device and usedst precaution; but forethought
availeth not against Fate, and Fortune foreordained baffleth
force of fence. How excellent is the saying of the poet when he
spake these couplets:--[FN#487]

‘It chances whiles that the blind man escapes a pit, * Whilst he
who is clear of sight falls into it.
The ignorant man may speak with impunity * A word that is death
to the wise and the ripe of wit.
The true believer is pinched for his daily bread, * Whilst
infidel rogues enjoy all benefit.
Where is a man's resource and what can he do? * It is the
Almighty's will: we must submit.'"

"Nor" (continued the Wazir) "is this, O king of the age, rarer or
stranger than the story of the King and his Chamberlain's wife;
nay, this is more wondrous than that and more delectable." When
the king heard this story, he was strengthened in his resolve to
spare the Minister and to eschew haste in an affair whereof he
was not certified; so he comforted him and bade him hie to his

The Twenty-fourth Night of the Month.

When it was night, the King summoned the Wazir and sought of him
the hearing of the story. Al-Rahwan replied, "Hearkening and
obedience! Listen, O august sovran, to

The Tale of the King and his Chamberlain's Wife.[FN#488]

There was once, in days of yore and in ages and times long gone
before, a King of the kings of the Persians, who was much
addicted to the love of fair women. His courtiers spoke him of
the wife of a certain of his Chamberlains, a model of beauty and
loveliness and perfect grace, and this egged him on to go in to
her. When she saw him, she knew him and said to him, "What urgeth
the King to this that he doeth?" and he replied, saying, "Verily,
I long for thee with excess of longing and there is no help but
that I enjoy thy favours." And he gave her of wealth that after
whose like women lust; but she said, "I cannot do the deed
whereof the king speaketh, for fear of my husband; "[FN#489] and
she refused herself to him with the most rigorous of refusals and
would not suffer him to win his wish. So the king went out in
wrath, and forgot his girdle in the place. Now it chanced that
her husband entered immediately after his lord had departed, and
saw the girdle and knew it. He was aware of the king's love for
women; so quoth he to his wife, "What be this I see with thee?"
Quoth she, "I'll tell thee the truth," and recounted to him the
occurrence; but he believed her not and suspicion entered his
heart. As for the King, he passed that night in care and concern,
and when the morning morrowed, he summoned that Chamberlain and
made him governor of one of his provinces; then he bade him
betake himself thither, purposing, after he should have departed
and fared afar, to foregather with his wife. The Chamberlain
perceived his project and kenned his intent; so he answered,
saying, "To hear is to obey!" presently adding, "I will go and
order my affairs and give such injunctions as may be needed for
the well-doing of my affairs; then will I go about the sovran's
commission." And the King said, "Do this and make haste." So the
Chamberlain went about that which he needed and assembling his
wife's kinsfolk, said to them, "I am determined to dismiss my
wife." They took this ill of him and complained of him and
summoning him before the sovereign, sat prosecuting him. Now the
King had no knowledge of that which had passed; so he said to the
Chamberlain, "Why wilt thou put her away and how can thy soul
consent to this and why takest thou unto thyself a fine and
fertile piece of land and presently forsakest it?" Answered the
husband, "Allah amend the king! By the Almighty, O my King, I saw
therein the trail of the lion and fear to enter that land, lest
the lion devour me; and the like of my affair with her is that
which befel between the Crone and the Draper's Wife. The king
asked, "What is their adventure?" and the Chamberlain answered,
"Hear, O king,

The Story of the Crone and the Draper's Wife.[FN#490]

There was once a man of the Drapers, who had a beautiful wife,
and she was curtained[FN#491] and chaste. A certain young man saw
her coming forth of the Hammam and loved her and his heart was
engrossed with her. So he devised for access to her all manner of
devices, but availed not to foregather with her; and when he was
a-weary and his patience failed for travail and trouble and his
fortitude betrayed and forsook him and he was at an end of his
resources against her, he complained of this to an ill-omened
crone,[FN#492] who promised him to bring about union between him
and his beloved. He thanked her for this and promised her all
manner of douceurs; and she said to him, "Hie thee to her husband
and buy of him a turband-cloth of fine linen, and let it be of
the very best of stuff." So he repaired to the Draper and buying
of him a turband-cloth of lawn, returned and gave it to the old
woman, who took it and burned it in two places. Then she donned
the dress of a devotee and taking the turband-cloth with her,
went to the Draper's house and knocked at the door. When the
Draper's wife saw her thus habited as a holy woman, she opened to
her and admitted her with kindly reception, and made much of her
and welcomed her: so the crone went in to her and conversed with
her awhile. Then said she to her, "I want to make the
Wuzu-ablution preparatory to prayer."[FN#493] At these words the
wife brought the water and she made the ablution and standing up
to pray, prayed and satisfied herself; and when she had ended her
orisons, she left the turband-cloth in the place of prayer and
fared forth. Presently, in came the Draper, at the hour of
night-devotions, and sitting down in the prayer-place where the
old woman had prayed, looked about him and espied the turband. He
knew it and suspected foul play; so wrath showed in his face and
he was furious with his wife and reviled her and abode his day
and his night without speaking to her, during all which while she
knew not the cause of his rage. Then she looked and seeing the
turband-cloth before him and noting the traces of burning
thereon, understood that his anger was on account of this and
concluded that he was in ill-temper because it was burnt. When
the morning morrowed, the Draper went out, still wroth with his

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