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Burton: The Debauchee and the Three-Year-Old Child

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Know, O King that a certain profligate man, who was addicted to the sex, once heard of a beautiful and lovely woman who dwelt in a city other than his own. So he journeyed thither, taking with him a present, and wrote her a note, setting forth all that he suffered of love-longing and desire for her and how his passion for her had driven him to forsake his native land and come to her; and he ended by praying for an assignation. She gave him leave to visit her and, as he entered her abode, she stood up and received him with all honour and worship, kissing his hands and entertaining him with the best entertainment of meat and drink. Now she had a little son, but three years old, whom she left and busied herself in cooking rice. Presently the man said to her, "Come, let us go and lie together;" but she replied, "My son is sitting looking at us." Quoth the man, "He is a little child, understanding not neither knowing how to speak." Quoth the woman, "Thou wouldst not say thus, and thou knew his intelligence." When the boy saw that the rice was done, he wept with bitter weeping and his mother said to him, "What gars thee weep, O my son?" "Ladle me out some rice," answered he, "and put clarified butter in it." So she ladled him out somewhat of rice and put butter therein; and the child ate a little, then began to weep again. Quoth she, "What ails thee now, O my son?"; and quoth he, "O mother mine, I want some sugar with my rice." At this said the man, who was an-angered, "Thou art none other than a curst child." "Curst thyself, by Allah," answered the boy, "seeing thou weariest thyself and journeyest from city to city, in quest of adultery. As for me, I wept because I had somewhat in my eye, and my tears brought it out; and now I have eaten rice with butter and sugar and am content; so which is the curst of us twain?" The man was confounded at this rebuke from a little child and forthright grace entered him and he was reclaimed. Wherefor he laid not a finger on the woman, but went out from her and returned to his own country, where he lived a contrite life till he died. "As for the story of the five-year-old child" (continued the Prince), "I have heard tell, O King, the following anent...

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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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