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Payne: The Story of the Envier and the Envied

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There dwelt once in a certain city two men, who occupied adjoining houses, having a common party-wall; and one of them envied the other and looked on him with an evil eye and did his utmost endeavour to work him ill; and his envy grew on him till he could hardly eat or enjoy the delight of sleep for it. But the envied man did nought but prosper, and the more the other strove to do him hurt, the more he increased and throve and flourished. At last the hatred his neighbour bore him and his constant endeavour to do him hurt came to his knowledge and he said, 'By Allah, I will renounce the world on his account!' So he left his native place and settled in a distant city, where he bought a piece of land, in which was a dried-up well, that had once been used for watering the fields. Here he built him an oratory, which he fitted up with all that he required, and took up his abode therein, devoting himself with a sincere heart to the service of God the Most High. Fakirs and poor folk soon flocked to him from all sides, and his fame spread abroad in the city, so that the notables resorted to him. After awhile, the news reached the envious man of the good fortune that had befallen his old neighbour and the high consideration in which he was held: so he set out for the town in which the latter dwelt and repaired to the hermitage, where the envied man welcomed him and received him with the utmost honour. Quoth the envier, 'I have journeyed hither on purpose to tell thee a piece of good news. So order thy fakirs to retire to their cells and go with me apart, for I will not say what I have to tell thee, except privately where none may overhear us.' Accordingly the envied man ordered the fakirs to retire to their cells; and they did so. Then he took the other by the hand and walked on with him a little way, till they came to the deserted well, when the envious man gave the other a push and cast him into the well, unseen of any; after which, he went out and went his way thinking that he had killed him. Now this well was haunted by Jinn, who bore up the envied man and let him down little by little, so that he reached the bottom unhurt, and they seated him on a stone. Then said one of the Jinn to the others, 'Know ye who this is?' And they answered, 'No.' Quoth he, 'This is the envied man who fled from him who envied him and settled in our city, where he built him this oratory and entertains us with his litanies and recitations of the Koran. But the envious man set out and journeyed till he rejoined him and contrived to throw him into this well. Now the news of him hath this very night come to the Sultan of the city and he purposes to visit him to-morrow, on account of his daughter. 'And what ails his daughter?' asked another. 'She is possessed of an evil spirit,' replied the first, 'for the genie Meimoun ben Demdem has fallen in love with her; but if the pious man knew the remedy, he could cure her; and it is the easiest of things.' 'And what is the remedy?' asked the other. Quoth the first speaker 'The black cat that is with him in the oratory has a white spot, the size of a dirhem, at the end of her tail: he should take seven white hairs from this spot and fumigate the princess therewith; whereupon the Marid will leave her and never return, and she will be cured immediately.' And the envied man heard all this. When the day broke and the morning appeared and shone, the fakirs came to seek their chief and found him rising from the well, wherefore he was magnified in their eyes; and he took the black cat and plucking seven white hairs from the spot at the end of her tail, laid them aside. The sun had hardly risen when the King arrived and entered the hermitage, attended by his chief officers, leaving the rest of his suite without. The envied man bade him welcome and drawing near to him, said, 'Shall I tell thee the object of thy visit?' 'Yes,' answered the King. And he said, 'Thou comest to consult me concerning thy daughter.' Quoth the King, 'Thou sayst truly, O virtuous elder!' Then said the envied man, 'Send and fetch her, and (God willing) I trust to cure her at once.' The King rejoiced and sent for his daughter; and they brought her bound hand and foot. The envied man made her sit down behind a curtain and taking out the hairs, fumigated her with them; whereupon the Afrit that was in her roared out and departed from her. And she was restored to her right mind and veiled her face, saying, 'What has happened and who brought me hither?' At this, the Sultan rejoiced beyond measure and kissed her on the eyes and kissed the envied man's hand. Then he turned to his officers and said, 'How say you? What reward doth he deserve who cured my daughter?' They answered, 'He deserves to have her to wife;' and the King, 'Ye say well.' So he married him to her, and the envied man became the King's son-in-law. After awhile, the Vizier died, and the King said, 'Whom shall we make Vizier in his stead?' 'Thy son-in-law,' answered the courtiers. So the envied man was made Vizier. Presently the Sultan also died, and the grandees determined to appoint the Vizier King in his place. So they made him Sultan, and he became King regnant. One day, as he was riding forth in his royal state, surrounded by his Viziers and Amirs and grandees, his eyes fell on his old neighbour, the envious man; so he turned to one of his viziers and said to him, 'Bring me yonder man and frighten him not.' So the Vizier went and returned with the envious man: and the King said, 'Give him a thousand dinars from my treasury and twenty loads of merchandise and send him under an escort to his own city.' Then he bade him farewell and sent him away and forbore to punish him for what he had done with him See, O Afrit, how the envied man forgave his envier, who had always hated him and borne him malice and had journeyed to him and made shift to throw him into the well: yet did he not requite him his ill-doing, but on the contrary was bountiful to him and forgave him."

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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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