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Burton: The Stolen Necklace

[Go back to The Three Wishes, or the Man Who Longed to see the Night of Power]

There was once a devotee, a recluse, a woman who had devoted herself to religion. Now she used to resort to a certain King's palace, whose dwellers were blessed by her presence and she was held of them in high honour. One day she entered that palace according to her custom and sat down beside the King's wife. Presently the Queen gave her a necklace, worth a thousand dinars, saying, "Keep this for me, O woman, whilst I go to the Hammam." So she entered the bath, which was in the palace, and the pious woman remaining in the place where the Queen was and awaiting her return laid the necklace on the prayer-carpet and stood up to pray. As she was thus engaged, there came a magpie which snatched up the necklace, while she went out to obey a call of nature and carrying it off, hid it inside a crevice in a corner of the palace-walls. When the Queen came out of the bath, she sought the necklace of the recluse, who also searched for it, but found it not nor could light on any trace of it; so she said to the King's wife, "By Allah, O my daughter, none hath been with me. When thou gavest me the necklace, I laid it on the prayer-carpet, and I know not if one of the servants saw it and took it without my heed, whilst I was engaged in prayer. Almighty Allah only knoweth what is come of it!" When the King heard what had happened, he bade his Queen put the bath-woman to the question by fire and grievous blows, --And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Five Hundred and Ninety-seventh Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the King bade his Queen question the bath-woman with fire and grievous blows, they tortured her with all manner tortures, but could not bring her to confess or to accuse any. Then he commanded to cast her into prison and manacle and fetter her; and they did as he bade. One day, after this, as the King sat in the inner court of his palace, with the Queen by his side and water flowing around him, he saw the pie fly into a crevice in a corner of the wall and pull out the necklace, whereupon he cried out to a damsel who was with him, and she caught the bird and took the necklace from it. By this the King knew that the pious bath-woman had been wronged and repented of that he had done with her. So he sent for her to the presence and fell to kissing her head and with many tears sought pardon of her. Moreover, he commanded much treasure to be given to her, but she refused and would none of it. However, she forgave him and went away, swearing never again to enter any one's house. So she betook herself to wandering in the mountains and valleys and worshipped God until she died, and Almighty Allah have mercy upon her! "And for an instance of the malice of the male sex" (continued the damsel), "I have heard, O King, tell this tale of...

[Go to The Two Pigeons]


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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