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Scott: The Bang-eater and the Cauzee

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In a certain city there was a vagabond fellow much addicted to the use of bang, who got his livelihood by fishing. When he had sold the product of his day's labour, he laid part of it out in provisions and part in bang, with which (his day's, work over) he solaced himself till he became intoxicated, and such was his constant practice. One night, having indulged more than ordinary, his senses were unusually stupefied; and in this, condition he had occasion to come down into the square in which was his lodging. It happened to be the fourteenth night of the moon, when she shone uncommonly bright, and shed such a lustre upon the ground, that the bang-eater from the dizziness of his head mistook the bright undulations of her reflection on the pavement for water, and fancied he was upon the brink of the river. He returned to his chamber, and brought down his line, supposing that he should catch his usual prey.

The bang-eater threw out his line, made of strong cord, and baited on several hooks with bits of flesh, into the square, when a dog, allured by the scent, swallowed one of the pieces, and feeling pain from the hook which stuck in his throat, pulled strongly at the cord. The bang-eater, supposing he had caught a monstrous fish, lugged stoutly, but in vain. The dog, agonized by the hook, resisted; at the same time yelping hideously, when the bang-eater, unwilling to quit his prey, yet fearing he should be dragged into the imaginary river, bellowed aloud for help. The watch came up, seized him, and perceiving him intoxicated, carried him bound to the cauzee.

It happened that the cauzee often privately indulged himself with bang. Seeing the intoxicated situation of the fisherman, he pitied his condition, and ordered him to be put into a chamber to sleep off his disorder; at the same time saying to himself, "This is a man after my own heart, and to-morrow evening I will enjoy myself with him." The fisherman was well taken care of during the day, and at night the cauzee sent for him to his apartment; where, after eating, they took each a powerful dose of bang, which soon operating upon their brains, they began to sing, dance, and commit a thousand extravagancies.

The noise which they made attracted the notice of the sultan, who with his vizier was traversing the city, disguised as merchants. Finding the doors open, they entered, and beheld the cauzee and his companion in the height of their mirth, who welcomed them, and they sat down. At length, after many ridiculous tricks, the fisherman starting up, exclaimed, "I am the sultan!" "And I," rejoined the cauzee, "am my lord the bashaw!" "Bashaw!" continued the fisherman, "if I choose I can strike off thy head." "I know it," returned the cauzee, "but at present I am not worth beheading; give me first a rich government, that I may be worth punishing." "Thou sayest true," answered the fisherman; "I must make thee fat before thou wilt be fit for killing."

The sultan laughed at their extravagancies, and said to his vizier, "I will amuse myself with these vagabonds to-morrow evening:" then rising up, he and his minister departed.

The next evening the cauzee and the fisherman indulged themselves as before, and while they were making merry, the sultan and his vizier entered, but in different disguises from those they had worn on the former night. They brought with them a strong confection of opium, which they presented to their hosts, who, highly delighted, greedily devoured it, and such were the effects that they became madder than ever. At length, the fisherman starting up, exclaimed, "The sultan is deposed, and I am sovereign in his stead." "Suppose the sultan should hear thee," replied the prince. "If he opposes me," cried the fisherman, "I will order my bashaw to strike off his head; but I will now punish thee for thy insolent question." He then ran up and seized the sultan by the nose, the cauzee at the same time attacking the vizier: it was with difficulty that they made their escape from the house.

The sultan, notwithstanding his tweak by the nose, resolved to divert himself further with the bang-eaters, and the next evening putting on a fresh disguise, repaired to the cauzee's house with his vizier; where he found the happy companions in high glee. They had taken it into their heads to dance, which they did with such vehemence, and for so long a time, that at length they fell down with fatigue. When they had rested a little, the fisherman perceiving the sultan, said, "Whence comest thou?" "We are strangers," replied the sultan, "and only reached this city to- night; but on our way through the streets, hearing your mirth, we made bold to enter, that we might participate it with you. Are ye not, however, fearful lest the sultan should hear you on his rounds, and punish you for an infringement of the laws?" "How should the sultan hear us?" answered the fisherman; "he is in his palace, and we in our own house, though, perhaps, much merrier than he, poor fellow, with the cares of state upon his mind, notwithstanding his splendour."

"How comes it," rejoined the sovereign, "that you have not visited the sultan? for you are merry fellows, and I think he would encourage you." "We fear," replied the fisherman, "his guards would beat us away." "Never mind thern," said the sultan; "if you choose I will give you a letter of recommendation, which I am sure he will pay attention to, for we were intimate when youths." "Let us have it," cried the fisherman. The sultan wrote a note, directed to himself, and departed.

In the morning the cauzee and the fisherman repaired to the palace, and delivered the note to one of the guards, who, on sight of it, placed it on his head, prostrated himself to the ground, and then introduced them to the sultan. Having read the letter, the sultan commanded them to be led into separate apartments, and to be treated respectfully. At noon a handsome collation was served up to each, and at sunset a full service, after which they were presented with coffee. When about two hours of the night had passed, the sultan ordered them into his presence, and on their making their obeisance returned their salutes, and desired them to be seated, saying, "Where is the person who gave you this letter?"

"Mighty sultan," replied the fisherman, "two men who last night visited our house inquired why we did not repair to your majesty, and partake of your bounty. We replied, that we feared the guards would drive us away; when one of them gave us this note, saying, ‘Fear not; take this recommendation to the sultan, with whom in my youth I was intimate.' We followed his direction, and have found his words to be true. We inquired whence they came; but they would not tell us more than that they were strangers in this city." "It is,"continued the sultan, "absolutely necessary that you should bring them to my presence, for it is long since I have beheld my old friends." "Permit us then to return home, where they may possibly visit us again," said the fisherman, "and we will oblige them to come with us." "How can you do that, "replied the sultan, "when the other evening you could not prevent your guest escaping, though you had him by the nose?"

The poor fisherman, and his companion the cauzee, were now confounded at the discovery that it was the sultan himself who had witnessed their intoxication and ridiculous transports. They trembled, turned pale, and fell prostrate to the ground, crying, "Pardon, pardon, gracious sovereign, for the offences we have committed, and the insult which in our madness we offered to the sacred person of your majesty."

The sultan, after laughing heartily at their distress, replied, "Your pardon is granted, for the insult was involuntary, though deserved, as I was an impertinent intruder on your privacy; make yourselves easy, and sit down; but you must each of you relate to me your adventures, or some story that you have heard." The cauzee and the fisherman, having recovered from their confusion, obeyed the commands of the sultan, and being seated, the latter related the following tale.

[Go to The Bang-eater and his Wife]

Scott, Jonathan (1754-1829). The Arabian Nights Entertainments. London: Pickering and Chatto, 1890. 4 Volumes. Project Gutenberg.

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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