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Payne: The Debauchee and the Three-Year-Old Child

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A certain profligate man, who was addicted to women, once heard of a beautiful and graceful woman who dwelt in a town other than his own. So he journeyed thither, taking with him a gift, and wrote her a letter, seeking access to her and setting out all that he suffered for longing and desire for her and how the love of her had driven him to forsake his native land and come to her. She gave him leave to visit her and received him with all honour and worship, kissing his hands and entertaining him with the best of meat and drink. Now she had a little three-year-old son, whom she left and busied herself in cooking rice. Presently the man said to her, "Come, let us go to bed;" and she, "My son is sitting looking at us." Quoth the man, "He is a little child, understanding not neither knowing how to speak." "Thou wouldst not say thus," answered the woman, "if thou knewest his intelligence." When the boy saw that the rice was done, he fell to weeping bitterly, and his mother said to him, "What ails thee to weep, O my son?" "Give me some rice," answered he, "and put butter in it." So she ladled him out somewhat of rice and put butter therein; and he ate a little, then began to weep again. Quoth she, "What ails thee now?" and he answered, saying, "O my mother, I want same sugar with my rice." At this the man was angered and said to him, "Thou art none other than a curst child." "It is thou who art curst," answered the boy, "seeing thou weariest thyself and journeyest from city to city, in quest of lewdness. As for me, I wept because I had somewhat in my eye, and my weeping brought it out; and now I have eaten rice with butter and sugar and am content; so which is the curst of us twain?" The man was confounded at this rebuke from a little child and grace entered him and he repented. Wherefore he laid not a finger on the woman, but went out from her forthright and returned to his own country, where he lived a contrite life till he died.

As for the story of the five-year-old child,' continued the prince, 'I have heard tell, O King, that...

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Payne, John (1842-1916). The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night. London. 1901. Gutenberg Vol. I. Gutenberg Vol. II. Gutenberg Vol. III. Gutenberg Vol. IV. Please consult the Gutenberg edition for footnotes; the footnotes have not been included in this web version. Wollamshram Vol. V. Wollamshram Vol. VI. Wollamshram Vol. VII. Wollamshram Vol. VIII. Wollamshram Vol. IX. Please consult the Wollamshram 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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