Home - FAQ - Images - Bibliography | complete versions by Burton - Dixon - Lang - Payne - Scott

Burton: The Merchant and the Robbers

[Go back to The Man and his Wife]

There was once a wealthy Merchant, who set out for a certain city purposing to sell merchandise there, and when he came thither, he hired him a lodging wherein he took up his abode. Now certain Robbers saw him, men wont to lie in wait for merchants, that they might rob their goods; so they went to his house and sought some device whereby to enter in, but could find no way thereto, and their Captain said, "I'll manage you his matter." Then he went away and, donning the dress of a leach, threw over his shoulder a bag containing somewhat of medicines, after which he set out crying, 'Who lacks a doctor?' and fared on till he came to the merchant's lodging and him sitting eating the noon-day dinner. So he asked him, "Dost thou need thee a physician?"; and the trader answered, "I need naught of the kind, but sit thee down and eat with me." The thief sat down facing him and began to eat. Now this merchant was a belle fourchette, and the Robber seeing this, said to himself, "I have found my chance." Then he turned to his host and said to him, "'Tis but right for me to give thee an admonition, and after thy kindness to me, I cannot hide it from thee. I see thee to be a great eater and the cause of this is a disorder in thy stomach; wherefore unless thou take speedy measures for thy cure, thine affair will end in perdition." Quoth the merchant, "My body is sound and my stomach speedy of digestion, and though I be a hearty eater, yet is there no disease in my body, to Allah be the praise and the thanks!" Quoth the Robber, "It may appear thus unto thee, but I know thou hast a disease incubating in thy vitals and if thou hearken to me, thou wilt medicine thyself." The Merchant asked, "And where shall I find him who knoweth my remedy?"; and the Robber answered, "Allah is the Healer; but a physician like myself cureth the sick to the best of his power." Then the other said, "Show me at once my remedy and give me thereof." Hereupon he gave him a powder, wherein was a strong dose of aloes, saying, "Use this to- night;" and he accepted it gratefully. When the night came, the Merchant tasted somewhat of the powder and found it nauseous of gust; nevertheless he misdoubted not of it, but swallowed it all and therefrom found ease that night. Next night the thief brought him another powder, wherein was yet more aloes and he took it; it purged him that night, but he bore patiently with this and rejected it not. When the Robber saw that he gave ear unto his word and put trust in him nor would gainsay him in aught, he brought him a deadly drug and gave it to him. The Merchant swallowed it and no sooner had he done this than that which was in his stomach fell down and his bowels were rent in sunder, and by the morrow he was a dead man; whereupon the Robbers came and took all the merchandise and monies that belonged to him. "This I tell thee, O King," added the favourite "but that thou mayst not accept one word from these deluders, else will there befal thee that whereby thou wilt destroy thyself." Cried the King, "Thou sayst sooth. I will not go forth to them." Now when the morning morrowed, the folk assembled together and repairing to the King's door, sat there the most part of the day, till they despaired of his coming forth, when they returned to Shimas and said to him, "O sage philosopher and experienced master, seest thou not that this ignorant lad cloth naught but redouble in falsehood to us? Verily 'twere only reasonable and right to take the Kingdom from him and give it to another, so our affairs may be ordered and our estates maintained; but go thou in to him a third time and tell him that naught hindereth us from rising against him and taking the Kingship from him but his father's goodness to us and that which he required from us of oaths and engagements. However, to-morrow, we will all, to the last of us, assemble here with our arms and break down the gate of the citadel; and if he come forth to us and do that which we wish, no harm is yet done, else we will go in to him and slay him and put the Kingdom in the hand of other than he." So the Wazir Shimas went in to him and said, "O King, that grovellest in thy gusts and thy lusts, what is this thou dost with thyself? Would Heaven I wot who seduced thee thereto! An it be thou who sinnest against thyself, there hath ceased from thee that which we knew in thee aforetime of integrity and wisdom and eloquence. Could I but learn who hath thus changed thee and fumed thee from wisdom to folly and from fidelity to iniquity and from mildness to harshness and from acceptation of me to aversion from me! How cometh it that I admonish thee thrice and thou acceptest not mine admonition and that I counsel thee rightfully and stir thou gainsayest my counsel? Tell me, what is this child's play and who is it prompteth thee thereunto? Know that the people of thy Kingdom have agreed together to come in to thee and slay thee and give thy Kingdom to another. Art able to cope with them all and save thyself from their hands or canst quicken thyself after being killed? If, indeed, thou be potent to do all this, thou art safe and hast no occasion for my rede; but an thou have any concern for thy life and thy kingship, return to thy sound sense and hold fast thy reign and show forth to the folk the power of thy prowess and persuade the people with thine excuse, for they are minded to tear away that which is in thy hand and commit it unto other, being resolved upon revolt and rebellion, led thereto by that which they know of thy youth and thy self-submission to love-liesse and lusts; for that stones, albeit they lie long underwater, an thou withdraw them therefrom and smite one upon other, fire will be struck from them. Now thy lieges are many folk and they have taken counsel together against thee, with a design to transfer the Kingship from thee to another and accomplish upon thee whatso they desire of thy destruction. So shalt thou fare as did the Jackals with the Wolf."----And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Nine Hundred and Twenty-first Night,

She pursued: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Wazir Shimas concluded with saying, "And they shall accomplish upon thee whatso they desire of thy destruction; so shalt thou fare as fared the Jackals with the Wolf." Asked the King, "How was that?" and the Wazir answered, "They tell the following tale of...

[Go to The Jackals and the Wolf]

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

powered by FreeFind