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Burton: The Blind Man and the Cripple

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A blind man and a Cripple were travelling companions and used to beg alms in company. One day they sought admission into the garden of someone of the benevolent, and a kind-hearted wight, hearing their talk, took compassion on them and carried them into his garden, where he left them after plucking for them some of its produce and went away, bidding them do no waste nor damage therein. When the fruits became ripe, the Cripple said to the Blind man, "Harkye, I see ripe fruits and long for them, but I cannot rise to eat thereof; so go thou arise, for thou art sound of either leg, and fetch us somewhat that we may eat." Replied the Blind, "Fie upon thee! I had no thought of them, but now that thou callest them to my mind, I long to eat of them and I am impotent unto this, being unable to see them; so how shall we do to get at them?" At this moment, behold, up came the Overseer of the garden, who was a man of understanding, and the Cripple said to him, "Harkye, O Overseer! I long for somewhat of those fruits, but we are as thou seest: I am a cripple and my mate here is stone-blind; so what shall we do?" Replied the Overseer "Woe to you! Have ye forgotten that the master of the garden stipulated with you that ye should do nothing whereby waste or damage befal it; so take warning and abstain from this." But they answered, "Needs must we get our portion of these fruits that we may eat thereof; so tell us some device whereby we shall contrive this." When the Overseer saw that they were not to be turned from their purpose, he said, "This, then, is my device, O Cripple, let the Blind bear thee on his back and take thee under the tree whose fruit pleaseth thee, so thou mayst pluck what thou canst reach thereof." Accordingly the Blind man took on his back the Cripple who guided him till he brought him under a tree, and he fell to plucking from it what he would and tearing at its boughs till he had despoiled it, after which they went roundabout and throughout the garden and wasted it with their hands and feet; nor did they cease from this fashion, till they had stripped all the trees of the garth. Then they returned to their place and presently up came the master of the garden, who, seeing it in this plight, was wroth with sore wrath and coming up to them said, "Woe to you! What fashion is this? Did I not stipulate with you that ye should do no damage in the garden?" Quoth they, "Thou knowest that we are powerless to come at any of the fruit, for that one of us is a cripple and cannot rise and the other is blind and cannot see that which is before him; so what is our offense?" But the master answered, "Think ye I know not how ye wrought and how ye have gone about to do waste in my garden? I know, as if I had been with thee, O Blind, that thou tookest the Cripple pick-a-back, and he showed thee the way till thou borest him to the trees." Then he punished them with grievous punishment and thrust them out of the garden. "Now the Blind is the similitude of the body which seeth not save by the spirit, and the Cripple that of the soul, for that it hath no power of motion but by the body; the garden is the works, for which the creature is rewarded or punished, and the Overseer is the reason which biddeth to good and forbiddeth from evil. Thus the body and the soul are partners in reward and retribution."

[Resume King Jali'ad of Hind and His Wazir Shimas: Followed by the History of King Wird Khan, son of King Jali'ad with His Women and Wazirs]

Burton, Richard (1821-1890). The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night. London. 1885-1888. Gutenberg Vol. I. Gutenberg Vol. II. Gutenberg Vol. III. Gutenberg Vol. IV. Gutenberg Vol. V. Gutenberg Vol. V. Gutenberg Vol. VII. Gutenberg Vol. VIII. Gutenberg Vol. IX. Gutenberg Vol. X. Please consult the Gutenberg edition for footnotes; the footnotes have not been included in this web version.

1001 Nights Hypertext. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License. The texts presented here are in the public domain. Thanks to Gene Perry for his excellent help in preparing the texts for the web. Page last updated: January 1, 2005 10:46 PM

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