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Payne: The Man and His Wilful Wife

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A certain man had a wife whom he loved and honoured, giving ear to her speech and doing according to her counsel. Moreover, he had a garden, which he had newly planted with his own hand, and was wont to go thither every day, to tend and water it. One day his wife said to him, "What hast thou planted in thy garden?" And he answered, "All that thou lovest and desirest, and I am assiduous in tending and watering it." Quoth she, "Wilt thou not carry me thither and show it to me, so I may see it and offer thee up a prayer [for its prosperity], for that my prayers are effectual?" "I will well," answered he; "but have patience with me till the morrow, when I will come and take thee." So, on the morrow, he carried her to the garden and entered with her therein.

Now two young men saw them enter from afar and said to each other, "Yonder man is an adulterer and yonder woman an adulteress, and they have not entered this garden but to do adultery therein." So they followed them, to see what they would do, and hid themselves in a corner of the garden. The man and his wife abode awhile therein, and presently he said to her, "Pray me the prayer thou didst promise me;" but she answered, saying, "I will not pray for thee, until thou fulfil my desire of that which women seek from men." "Out on thee, O woman!" cried he. "Hast thou not thy fill of me in the house? Here I fear scandal, more by token that thou divertest me from my affairs. Fearest thou not that some one will see us?" Quoth she, "We need have no care for that, seeing that we do neither sin nor lewdness; and as for the watering of the garden, that may wait, for that thou canst water it whenas thou wilt." And she would take neither excuse nor reason from him, but was instant with him in seeking dalliance.

So he arose and lay with her, which when the young men aforesaid saw, they ran upon them and seized them, saying, "We will not let you go. for ye are adulterers, and except we lie with the woman, we will denounce you to the police." "Out on you!" answered the man. "This is my wife and I am the master of the garden." They paid no heed to him, but fell upon the woman, who cried out to him for succour, saying, "Suffer them not to defile me!" So he came up to them, calling out for help, but one of them turned on him and smote him with his dagger and slew him. Then they returned to the woman and ravished her. This I tell thee, O king' continued the vizier, 'but that thou mayst know that it behoveth not men to give ear unto a woman's talk neither obey her in aught nor accept her judgment in counsel. Beware, then, lest thou don the garment of ignorance, after that of knowledge and wisdom, and follow perverse counsel, after knowing that which is true and profitable. Wherefore ensue thou not a paltry pleasure, whose end is corruption and whose inclining is unto sore and uttermost perdition.'

When the king heard this, he said to Shimas, 'To-morrow I will come forth to them, if it be the will of God the Most High.' So Shimas returned to the grandees and notables who were present and told them what the king had said. But this came to the ears of the favourite; so she went in to the king and said to him, 'A king's subjects should be his slaves; but thou art become a slave to thy subjects, for that thou standest in awe of them and fearest their mischief. They do but seek to make proof of thy temper; and if they find thee weak they will disdain thee; but, if they find thee stout and brave they will stand in awe of thee. On this wise do ill viziers with their king, for that their wiles are many: but I will make manifest unto thee the truth of their malice. If thou fall in with their demands, they will cause thee leave thy commandment and do their will; nor will they cease to lead thee on from affair to affair till they cast thee into destruction; and thy case will be as that of the merchant and the thieves.' 'How was that?' asked the king; and she answered, 'I have heard tell that...

[Go to The Merchant and the Thieves]

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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