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Payne: The Lady and Her Two Lovers

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There was once a man, who was swordbearer to one of the kings, and he loved a certain woman of the common people. One day, he sent his page to her with a message, as of wont between them, and the latter sat down with her and toyed with her. She inclined to him and pressed him to her bosom, whereupon he sought to lie with her and she consented unto him; but, as they were thus, the sword bearer knocked at the door. So she clapped the young man into an underground chamber there and opened the door to his master, who came in, sword in hand, and sat down on her bed. Then she came to him and sported and toyed with him, kissing him and pressing him to her bosom, and he took her and lay with her.

Presently her husband knocked at the door and he said to her, "Who is that?" "My husband," replied she. Quoth he, "How shall I do?" And she, "Draw thy sword and stand in the vestibule and rail at me and revile me; and when my husband comes in to thee, do thou go forth and go thy ways." He did as she bade him, and when the husband entered, he saw the king's swordbearer standing with his drawn sword in his hand, reviling and threatening his wife; but, when the other saw him, he was ashamed and sheathing his sword, went forth the house. Quoth the man to his wife, "What means this?" And she answered, saying, "O man, how blessed is the hour of thy coming! Thou hast saved a true believer from death; and it was on this wise. I was on the housetop, spinning, when there came up to me a youth, panting and distracted for fear of death, fleeing from yonder man, who followed hard upon him with his drawn sword. The young man fell down before me, and kissed my hands and feet, saying, 'O my lady, save me from him who would kill me without just cause!' So I hid him in the underground chamber there and presently in came yonder man to me with his naked sword in his hand, demanding the youth. But I denied him to him, whereupon he fell to reviling and threatening me as thou sawest. And praised be God who sent thee to me, for I was at my wits' end and had none to deliver me!"

"Well hast thou done, O woman!" answered the husband. "Thy reward is with God and may He abundantly requite thee!" Then he went to the trapdoor and called to the page, saying, "Come forth and fear not; no harm shall befall thee." So he came out, trembling for fear, and the husband condoled with him on what had befallen him, saying, "Be of good cheer: none shall hurt thee;" whilst the page called down blessings on his head. Then they both went forth, nor was either aware of that which the woman had contrived. This, then, O King,' said the vizier, 'is one of the tricks of women; so beware lest thou put faith in their speech.'

The King was persuaded and turned from putting his son to death, but, next day, the favourite came in to him and kissing the earth before him, said, 'O King, do me justice on thy son and be not turned from thy purpose by thy Vizier's prate, for there is no good in wicked viziers, and be not as the king, who relied on the word of a certain wicked vizier of his.' 'And how was that? asked the King. Quoth she, 'It hath been told me, O august and well-advised 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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