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Burton: The Man and his Wife

[Go back to The Boy and the Thieves]

They relate that a certain man had a wife whom he loved and honoured, giving ear to her speech and doing according to her rede. Moreover, he had a garden, which he had newly planted with his own hand and was wont to go thither every day, to tend it and water it. One day his wife asked him, "What hast thou planted in thy garden?", and he answered, "All thou lovest and desirest, and I am assiduous in tending and watering it." Quoth she, "Wilt thou not carry me thither and show it to me, so I may look upon it and offer thee up a pious prayer for its prosperity seeing that my orisons are effectual?" Quoth he, "I will well, but have patience with me till the morrow, when I will come and take thee." So early on the ensuing day, he carried her to the garden which he entered with her. Now two young men saw them enter from afar and said each to other, "Yonder man is an adulterer and yonder woman an adulteress, and they have not entered this garden but to commit adultery." Thereupon they followed the couple to see what they would do, and hid themselves in a corner of the garden. The man and his wife after entering abode awhile therein, and presently he said to her, "Pray me the prayer thou didst promise me;" but she replied, saying, "I will not pray for thee, until thou do away my desire of that which women seek from men." Cried he, "Out on thee, O woman! Hast thou not thy fill of me in the house? Here I fear scandal, especially as thou divertest me from my affairs. Fearest thou not that someone will see us?" Quoth she, "We need have no care for that, seeing that we do neither sin nor lewdness; and, as for the watering of the garden, that may wait, because thou canst water it when thou wilt." And she would take neither excuse nor reason from him, but was instant with him in seeking carnal coition. So he arose and lay with her, which when the young men aforesaid saw, they ran upon them and seized them, saying, "We will not let you go, for ye are adulterers, and except we have carnal knowledge of the woman, we will report you to the police." Answered the man, "Fie upon you! This is my wife and I am the master of the garden." They paid no heed to him, but fell upon the woman, who cried out to him for succour, saying, "Suffer them not to defile me!" Accordingly he came up to them, calling out for help; but one of them turned on him and smote him with his dagger and slew him.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Nine Hundred and Twentieth Night,

She continued: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that after slaying the husband the two young men returned to the wife and ravished her. "This I tell thee, O King," continued the Wazir, "But that thou mayst know that it becometh not men to give ear unto a woman's talk neither obey her in aught nor accept her judgment in counsel. Beware, then, lest thou don the dress of ignorance, after the robe of knowledge and wisdom, and follow perverse rede, after knowing that which is righteous and profitable. Wherefore pursue thou not a paltry pleasure, whose trending is to corruption and whose inclining is unto sore and uttermost perdition." When the King heard this from Shimas he said to him, "To-morrow I will come forth to them, an it be the will of Allah the Most High." So Shimas returned to the Grandees and Notables who were present and told them what the King had said. But this came to the ears of the favourite wife; whereupon she went in to the King and said to him, "The subjects of a King should be his slaves; but I see, O King, thou art become a slave to thy subjects, because thou standest in awe of them and fearest their mischief. They do but desire to make proof of thine inner man, and if they find thee weak, they will disdain thee; but, if they find thee stout and brave, they will dread thee. On this wise do ill Wazirs with their King, for that their wiles are many; but I will make manifest unto thee the truth of their malice. An thou comply with the conditions they demand, they will cause thee cease ruling and do their will; nor will they leave leading thee on from affair to affair, till they cast thee into destruction, and thy case will be as that of the Merchant and the Robbers." Asked the King, "How was that?" and she answered, "I have heard tell this tale anent...

[Go to The Merchant and the Robbers]

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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