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Burton: The Two Kings

[Go back to King Jali'ad of Hind and His Wazir Shimas: Followed by the History of King Wird Khan, son of King Jali'ad with His Women and Wazirs (cont.)]

There were once two Kings, a just and an unjust; and this one had a land abounding in trees and fruits and herbs, but he let no merchant pass without robbing him of his monies and his merchandise; and the traders endured this with patience, by reason of their profit from the fatness of the earth in the means of life and its pleasantness, more by token that it was renowned for its richness in precious stones and gems. Now the just King, who loved jewels, heard of this land and sent one of his subjects thither, giving him much specie and bidding him pass with it into the other's realm and buy jewels therefrom. So he went thither; and, it being told to the unjust King that a merchant was come to his kingdom with much money to buy jewels withal, he sent for him to the presence and said to him, "Who art thou and whence comest thou and who brought thee thither and what is thy errand?" Quoth the merchant, "I am of such and such a region, and the King of that land gave me money and bade me buy therewith jewels from this country; so I obeyed his bidding and came." Cried the unjust King, "Out on thee! Knowest thou not my fashion of dealing with the people of my realm and how each day I take their monies? How then comest thou to my country? And behold, thou hast been a sojourner here since such a time!" Answered the trader, "The money is not mine, not a mite of it; nay, 'tis a trust in my hands till I bring its equivalent to its owner." But the King said, "I will not let thee take thy livelihood of my land or go out therefrom, except thou ransom thyself with this money all of it."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Nine Hundred and Tenth Night,

She resumed: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the unjust Ruler said to the trader who came to buy jewels from his country, "'Tis not possible for thee to take thy livelihood of my land except thou ransom thy life with this money, all of it else shalt thou die." So the man said in himself, "I am fallen between two Kings, and I know that the oppression of this ruler embraceth all who abide in his dominions, and if I satisfy him not, I shall lose both life and money (whereof is no doubt) and shall fail of my errand; whilst, on the other hand, if I give him all the gold, it will most assuredly prove my ruin with its owner, the other King; wherefore no device will serve me but that I give this one a trifling part thereof and content him therewith and avert from myself and from the money perdition. Thus shall I get my livelihood of the fatness of this land, till I buy that which I desire of jewels; and, after satisfying the tyrant with gifts, I will take my portion of the profit and return to the owner of the money with his need, trusting in his justice and indulgence, and unfearing that he will punish me for that which this unjust King taketh of the treasure, especially if it be but a little." Then the trader called down blessings on the tyrant and said to him, "O King, I will ransom myself and this specie with a small portion thereof, from the time of my entering thy country to that of my going forth therefrom." The King agreed to this and left him at peace for a year, till he bought all manner jewels with the rest of the money and returned therewith to his master, to whom he made his excuses, confessing to having saved himself from the unjust King as before related. The just King accepted his excuse and praised him for his wise device and set him on his right hand in his divan and appointed him in his kingdom an abiding inheritance and a happy life-tide. "Now the just King is the similitude of the future world and the unjust King that of the present world ; the jewels that be in the tyrant's dominions are good deeds and pious works. The merchant is man and the money he hath with him is the provision appointed him of Allah. When I consider this, I know that it behoveth him who seeketh his livelihood in this world to leave not a day without seeking the goods of the world to come, so shall he content this world with that which he gaineth of the fatness of the earth and satisfy the other world with that which he spendeth of his life in seeking after it." Q "Are the spirit and the body alike in reward and retribution, or is the body, as the luster of lusts and doer of sinful deeds, and especially affected with punishment?"--"The inclination to lusts and sins may be the cause of earning reward by the withholding of the soul therefrom and the repenting thereof; but the command is in the hand of Him who cloth what He will, and things by their contraries are distinguished. Thus subsistence is necessary to the body, but there is no body without soul, and the purification of the spirit is in making clean the intention in this world and taking thought to that which shall profit in the world to come. Indeed, soul and body are like two horses racing for a wager or two foster brothers or two partners in business. By the intent are good deeds distinguished, and thus the body and soul are partners in actions and in reward and retribution, and in this they are like the Blind man and the Cripple with the Overseer of the garden." Asked Shimas, "How so?" and the Prince said. "Hear, O Wazir, the tale of...

[Go to The Blind Man and the Cripple]


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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