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Payne: The Fakir and His Pot of Butter

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'A fakir abode once with one of the nobles of a certain town, who made him a daily allowance of three cakes of bread and a little butter and honey. Now butter was dear in those parts and the fakir laid all that came to him together in a pot he had, till he filled it and hung it up over his head for safe keeping. One night, as he sat on his bed, with his staff in his hand, he fell a-musing upon the butter and the greatness of its price and said in himself, "Needs must I sell all this butter I have and buy an ewe with the price and take to partner therein a husbandman who has a ram. The first year she will bear a male lamb and a female and the second the like, and these in their turn will bear others, nor will they give over bearing males and females, till they become a great matter. The males I will sell and buy with them bulls and cows, which will also engender and multiply and become many.

Then will I take my share and sell thereof what I will and buy such a piece of land and plant a garden therein and build thereon a great palace. Moreover, I will get me clothes and raiment and slaves and slave-girls and take me to wife the daughter of such a merchant and hold a wedding the like whereof was never seen. I will slaughter cattle and make rich meats and sweetmeats and confections and provide flowers and perfumes and all manner sweet herbs and assemble all the musicians and mimes and mountebanks and player-folk. Then will I bid rich and poor and the learned and captains and grandees, and whoso asks for aught, I will cause it to be brought him. Moreover, I will make ready all manner of meat and drink and send out a crier to cry aloud and say, 'Whoso seeketh aught, let him [come] and get it.' Then will I go in to my bride, after they have unveiled her before me, and enjoy her beauty and grace; and I will eat and drink and make merry and say to myself, 'Now hast thou attained thy desire,' and will rest from devotion and asceticism.

In due time my wife will bear me a boy, and I shall rejoice in him and make banquets in his honour and rear him delicately and teach him philosophy and mathematics and polite letters. So shall I make his name renowned among the folk and glory in him among the assemblies of the learned. I will enjoin him to do good and he shall not gainsay me, and I will forbid him from lewdness and iniquity and exhort him to the fear of God and the practice of righteousness. Moreover, I will bestow on him rich and goodly gifts, and if I see him assiduous in obedience, I will redouble in my bounties towards him: but, if I see him incline unto disobedience, I will come down on him with his staff.' So saying, he raised his dand, to beat his son, but the staff struck the pot of butter, that hung over his head, and broke it; whereupon the potsherds fell upon him and the butter ran down upon his head and beard. So his clothes and bed were spoiled and he became an admonition to whoso will profit by admonition. Wherefore, O king,' added the vizier, 'it behoves not a man to speak of aught ere it come to pass.' 'Thou sayst sooth,' answered the king, 'fair fall thee for a vizier! For thou speakest the truth and counsellest righteousness. Verily, thy rank with me is such as thou couldst wish and thou shalt never cease to have acceptance with me.'

The vizier prostrated himself before the king and wished him continuance of prosperity, saying, 'May God prolong thy days and exalt thy dignity! Know that I conceal from thee nought, neither in private nor in public; thy pleasure is my pleasure, and thy wrath my wrath. There is no joy for me but in thy joyance and I cannot sleep, if thou be angered against me, for that God the Most High hath vouchsafed me all good through thy bounties to me; wherefore I beseech Him to guard thee with His angels and make fair thy rewards whenas thou meetest Him.' The king rejoiced in this, and Shimas arose and went out from before him.

In due time the king's wife gave birth to a male child, and the messengers hastened to bear the glad tidings to the king, who rejoiced therein with an exceeding joy and offered up abundant thanks to God, saying, 'Praised be God who hath vouchsafed me a son, after I had despaired! For He is pitiful and tenderly solicitous over His servants.' Then he wrote to all the people of his dominions, acquainting them with the good news and bidding them to his capital; and great were the rejoicings and festivities in all the kingdom. So there came amirs and captains and grandees and sages and men of learning and philosophers from all quarters to the palace and presenting themselves before the king, company after company, according to their several ranks, gave him joy, and he bestowed largesse upon them. Then he signed to the seven chief viziers, whose head was Shimas, to speak, each after the measure of his knowledge, upon the matter in question.

So the Grand Vizier Shimas began and sought leave of the king to speak, which being granted, he spoke as follows. 'Praised be God who brought us forth of nothingness into being and who favoureth His servant with kings who observe justice and equity in that wherewith He hath invested them of dominion and deal righteously with that which He appointeth at their hands of provision for their subjects; and especially our king, by whom He hath quickened the deadness of our land, with that which He hath conferred upon us of bounties, and hath blessed us, of His protection, with ease of life and tranquillity and justice! What king did ever with his people that which this king hath done with us in making provision for our needs and giving us our dues and doing us justice, each of the other, and in unfailing carefulness over us and redress of our grievances? Indeed, it is of the bounty of God to the people that their king be assiduous in ordering their affairs and in defending them from their enemies; for the end of the enemy's intent is to subdue his enemy and hold him in his hand; and many peoples bring their sons unto kings, servant-wise, and they become with them in the stead of slaves, to the intent that they may repel enemies from them. As for us, no enemy hath sodden our soil in our king's time, by reason of this great good fortune and exceeding happiness, that none may avail to describe, for indeed it passeth description. And verily, O king, thou art worthy of this exceeding happiness, and we are under thy safeguard and in the shadow of thy wings, may God make fair thy reward and prolong thy life!

Indeed, we have long been diligent in supplication to God the Most High that He would vouchsafe an answer to our prayers and continue thee to us and grant thee a virtuous son, to be the solace of thine eyes: and now God (blessed and exalted be He!) hath accepted of us and answered our prayer and brought us speedy relief, even as He did to the fishes in the pond of water.' 'And how was that?' asked the king. 'Know, O king,' answered Shimas, 'that...

[Go to The Fishes and the Crab]

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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