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 'Ajln, 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 Nshbr[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 Wife.
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 Jlins[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 Compeer.
There was once, in the city of Baghdad, a man hight Al-Marwaz,[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-Rz,[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 cong 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 home.
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 wife, and the crone returned to her and found her changed of colour, pale of complexion, dejected and heart-broken. So she questioned her of the cause, and the wife told her how her husband was angered against her on account of the burns in the turband-cloth.[FN#494] Rejoined the old woman, "O my daughter, be not chagrined; for I have a son, a fine-drawer, and he, by thy life, shall fine-draw the holes and restore the turband-cloth as it was." The wife rejoiced in her saying and asked her, "And when shall this be?" The crone answered, "To-morrow, Inshallah—an it please Allah the Most High—I will bring him to thee, at the time of thy husband's going forth from thee, and he shall fine-draw it and depart forthwith." Then she comforted her heart and going away from her, returned to the young man and acquainted him with what had passed. Now when the Draper saw the turband-cloth, he determined to divorce his wife and waited only till he could collect that which was obligatory on him of the contingent dowry and what not else,[FN#495] for fear of her people. When the crone arose in the morning, she took the young man and carried him into the Draper's house. The wife opened the door to her and the ill-omened old woman entered with him and said to the lady, "Go, fetch that which thou wouldest have fine-drawn and give it to my son." So saying, she bolted the door on her, whereupon the young man raped[FN#496] her against her will and did his want of her and went forth. Then cried the crone, "Know that this is my son and that he loved thee with exceeding love and was like to lose his life for longing after thee; so I devised for thee with this device and came to thee with this turband-cloth, which is not thy husband's, but my son's. Now have I won to my wish; so do thou trust in me and I will put a sleight on thy husband for setting thee right with him, and thou wilt be subject to me and to him and to my son."[FN#497] And the wife replied, "'Tis well. Do so." Presently the old woman returned to the lover and said, "Know thou that I have engineered the affair for thee with her; and now we must mend that we have marred. Hie thee and sit with the Draper and mention to him the turband-cloth, saying, The turband I bought of thee I chanced to burn in two places; so I gave it to a certain old woman, to have fine-drawn, and she took it and went away, and I know not her dwelling-place.'[FN#498] When thou seest me pass by, rise and lay hold of me, and demand of me the cloth, to the intent that I may arrange her affair with her spouse and that matters go right with thee in her regard." Accordingly he repaired to the Draper's shop and sat down by him and asked him, "Thou knowest the turband-cloth I bought of thee?" "Yes." "Knowest thou what is come of it?" "No." "After I bought it of thee, I fumigated myself[FN#499] and it fortuned that the turbandcloth was burnt in two places; so I gave it to a woman, whose son, they said, was a fine-drawer, and she took it and fared forth with it; and I know not her home." When the Draper heard this, he was startled by the thought that he had suspected his wife wrongfully, and marvelled at the story of the turband-cloth, and his mind was made easy anent her. After a short while up came the old woman, whereupon the young man sprang to his feet and seizing her, demanded of her the turband-cloth. Said she, "Know that I entered one of the houses and wuzu'd and prayed in the prayerplace;[FN#500] and I forgot the turband-cloth there and went out. Now I weet not the house in which I prayed, nor have I been divinely directed[FN#501] thereto, and I go round about every day till the night, so haply I may light on the dwelling, for I know not its owner." When the Draper heard these words, he said to the old woman, "Verily, Allah restoreth to thee what thing thou hast lost. Be gladdened by good news, for the turband-cloth is with me and in my house." And he arose forthright and handed to her the turband-cloth, as it was, and she handed it to the young man. Then the Draper made peace with his wife and gave her raiment and jewellery, till she was content and her heart was appeased.[FN#502] When the king heard his Chamberlain's story, he was dazed and amazed and said to him, "Abide on thy service and ear thy field for that the lion entered it, but marred it not, and he will never more return thither." [FN#503] Then he bestowed on him an honourable robe and made him a costly present; and the man returned to his wife and people, rejoicing, his heart having been set at rest concerning his wife. "Nor" (continued the Wazir), "O King of the age, is this rarer or stranger than the story of the beautiful wife, a woman gifted of amorous grace, with the ugly Man, her husband." When King Shah Bakht heard the Minister's speech, he deemed it delectable and it pleased him; so he bade him hie to his house, and there he tarried his day long.
The Twenty-fifth Night of the Month.
When the evening evened, the King summoned his Wazir and bade him tell the tale. So he said, "'Tis well. Hear, O King,
The Tale of the Ugly Man and his Beautiful Wife.
There was once a man of the Arabs who had a number of children, and amongst them a boy, never was seen a fairer than he of favour nor a more complete in comeliness; no, nor a more perfect of prudence. When he came to man's estate, his father married him to his first cousin, the daughter of one of his paternal uncles, and she excelled not in beauty, neither was she laudable for qualities; wherefore she pleased not the youth, but he bore with her for the sake of kinship. One day, he fared forth in quest of certain camels[FN#504] of his which had strayed and hied him on all his day and night till eventide, when he was fain to seek hospitality in an Arab camp. So he alighted at one of the tents of the tribesmen and there came forth to him a man short of stature and foul of favour, who saluted him with the salam; and, lodging him in a corner of the tent, sat entertaining him with chat, the cheeriest that might be. When his food was dressed, the Arab's wife brought it to the guest, and he looked at the mistress of the tent and saw a semblance than which no seemlier might be. Indeed, her beauty and loveliness, her symmetry and perfect grace amazed him and he was struck with astonishment, gazing now at her and then at her mate. When his looking grew long, the man said to him, "Ho, thou son of the worthy! Busy thyself with thine own business, for by me and this woman hangeth a wondrous tale, which is even better than that thou seest of her beauty; and I will tell it to thee when we have made a finish of our food." So, when they had ended eating and drinking, the young man asked his host for the story, and he said, "Know that in my youth I was the same as thou seest me in the matter of loathliness and foul favour; and I had brethren of the fairest of the folk; wherefore my father preferred them over me and used to show them kindness, to my exclusion, and made me serve in their stead, like as a master employeth slaves. One day, a dromedary of his strayed from the herd of camels, and he said to me, Go thou forth in quest of her and return not but with her.' I replied, Send other than I of thy sons.' But he would not consent to this and scolded me and insisted upon me, till the matter came to such a pass with him that he took a thongwhip and fell to beating me. So I arose and saddling a riding-camel, mounted her and sallied forth at random, purposing to go out into the wolds and the wilds and return to him never more. I fared on all my night and the next day and coming at eventide[FN#505] to the encampment of this my wife's people, alighted down with and became the guest of her father, who was a Shaykh well stricken in years. Now when it was the noon of night, I arose and went forth the tent at a call of nature, and none knew of my case save this woman. The dogs followed me as a suspected stranger and ceased not worrying me[FN#506] till I fell on my back into a pit, wherein was water, a deep hollow and a steep; and a dog of those dogs fell in with me. The woman, who was then a girl in the bloom of youth, full of strength and spirit, was moved to ruth on me, for the calamity whereinto I was fallen, and coming to me with a rope, said to me, Catch hold of the rope,' So I hent it and clung to it and she haled me up; but, when I was half-way up, I pulled her down and she fell with me into the pit; and there we abode three days, she and I and the hound. When her people arose in the morning and did not see her, they sought her in the camp, but, finding her not and missing me also, never doubted but she had fled with me.[FN#507] Now she had four brothers, as they were Saker-hawks, and they took horse and dispersed in search of us. When the day yellowed on the fourth dawn, the dog began to bark and the other hounds answered him and coming to the mouth of the pit, stood howling to him. The Shaykh, my wife's father, hearing the howling of the hounds, came up and standing at the brink of the hollow, looked in and beheld a marvel. Now he was a brave man and a sensible, an elder experienced in affairs, so he fetched a cord and bringing forth the three, questioned us twain of our case. I told him all that had betided and he fell a-pondering the affair. Presently, her brothers returned, whereupon the old man acquainted them with the whole case and said to them, O my sons, know that your sister intended not aught but good, and if ye kill this man, ye will earn abiding shame and ye will wrong him, and wrong your own souls and eke your sister: for indeed there appeareth no cause such as calleth for killing, and it may not be denied that this accident is a thing whose like may well occur and that he may easily have been the victim of suchlike chance.' Then he addressed me and questioned me of my lineage; so I set forth to him my genealogy and he, exclaiming, A man of her match, honourable, understanding,' offered me his daughter in wedlock. I consented to this and marrying her, took up my abode with him and Allah hath opened on me the gates of weal and wealth, so that I am become the richest in monies of the tribesmen; and the Almighty hath stablished me in that which He hath given me of His bounties." The young man marvelled at his tale and lay the night with him; and when he arose in the morning, he found his estrays. So he took them and returning to his folk, acquainted them with what he had seen and all that had befallen him. "Nor" (continued the Wazir) "is this stranger or rarer than the story of the King who lost kingdom and wealth and wife and children and Allah restored them to him and requited him with a realm more magnificent than that which he had forfeited and better and finer and greater of wealth and degree." The Minister's story pleased the King and he bade him depart to his abode.