[Go back to The King's Son and the Merchant's Wife]
A certain man of rank once entered the slave-market and saw a page being cried for sale; so he bought him and carrying him home, said to his wife, "Take good care of him." The lad abode there for a while till, one day, the man said to his wife, "Go forth to-morrow to the garden and take thy solace therein and amuse thyself and enjoy thyself." And she replied, "With love and gladness!" Now when the page heard this, he made ready in secret meat and drink and fruits and desert, and sallied forth with them privily that night to the garden, where he laid the meat under one tree, the wine under another and the fruit and conserves under a third, in the way his mistress must pass. When morning morrowed the husband bade him accompany the lady to that garden carrying with him all the provisions required for the day; so she took horse and riding thither with him, dismounted and entered. Presently, as they were walking about, a crow croaked, and the page said, "Thou sayst sooth;" whereupon his mistress asked him, "Dost thou know what the crow said?"; and he answered, "Yes, O my lady, he said, Under yonder tree is meat; go and eat it." So she said, "I see thou really dost understand them;" then she went up to the tree and, finding a dish of meat ready dressed, was assured that the youth told the truth and marvelled with exceeding marvel. They ate of the meat and walked about awhile, taking their pleasure in the garden, till the crow croaked a second time, and the page again replied, "Thou sayst sooth." "What said he?" quoth the lady, and quoth the page, "O my lady, he saith that under such a tree are a gugglet of water flavoured with musk and a pitcher of old wine." So she went up with him to the tree and, finding the wine and water there, redoubled in wonderment and the page was magnified in her eyes. They sat down and drank, then arose and walked in another part of the garden. Presently the crow croaked again and the page said, "Thou sayst sooth." Said the lady, "What saith he now?" and the page replied, "He saith that under yonder tree are fruits, fresh and dried." So they went thither and found all as he said and sat down and ate. Then they walked about again till the crow croaked a fourth time, whereupon the page took up a stone and threw it at him. Quoth she, "What said he, that thou shouldst stone him?" "O my lady," answered he, "he said what I cannot tell thee." "Say on," rejoined she, "and be not abashed in my presence, for there is naught between me and thee." But he ceased not to say, "No," and she to press him to speak, till at last she conjured him to tell her, and he answered, "The crow said to me, 'Do with thy lady even as doth her husband.'" When she heard his words she laughed till she fell backward and said, "This is a light matter, and I may not gainsay thee therein." So saying, she went up to a tree and, spreading the carpet under it, lay down, and called to him to come and do her need, when, lo! her husband, who had followed them unawares and saw this, called out to the page, saying, "Harkye, boy! What ails thy mistress to lie there, weeping?" Answered the page, "O my lord, she fell off the tree and was killed; and none but Allah (be He extolled and exalted!) restored her to thee. Wherefore she lay down awhile to recover herself by rest." When the lady saw her husband standing by her head, she rose and made a show of weakness and pain, saying, "O my back! O my sides! Come to my help, O my friends! I shall never survive this." So her husband was deceived and said to the page, "Fetch thy mistress's horse and set her thereon." Then he carried her home, the boy holding one stirrup and the man the other and saying, "Allah vouchsafe thee ease and recovery!" "These then, O King," (said the damsel) "are some instances of the craft of men and their perfidy; wherefore let not thy Wazirs turn thee from succouring me and doing me justice." Then she wept, and when the King saw her weeping (for she was the dearest to him of all his slave-girls) he once more commanded to put his son to death; but the sixth Minister entered and kissing ground before him, said, "May the Almighty advance the King! Verily I am a loyal counsellor to thee, in that I counsel thee to deal deliberately in the matter of thy son;"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Five Hundred and Ninety-third Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the sixth Wazir said, "O King, deal deliberately in the matter of thy son; for falsehood is as smoke and fact is built on base which shall not be broken; yea, and the light of sooth dispelleth the night of untruth. Know that the perfidy of women is great, even as saith Allah the Most High in His Holy Book, "Verily, the malice of you is great. And indeed a tale hath reached me that a certain woman befooled the Chiefs of the State on such wise as never did any before her." Asked the King, "And how was that?" And the Wazir answered, "I have heard tell a tale, O King, as follows concerning...
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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