[Go back to The Story of the Retired Sage and His Pupil, Related to the Sultan by the Second Lunatic]
Formerly, O mighty sultan, was a schoolmaster, and had under my tuition nearly seventy scholars, of whose manners I was as careful as of their learning: so much did I make them respect me, that whenever I sneezed they laid down their writing boards, stood up with arms crossed, and with one voice exclaimed, "God have mercy upon our tutor!" to which I replied, "May he have mercy upon me and you, and all who have children." If any one of the boys did not join in this prayer, I used to beat him severely. One fine afternoon my scholars requested leave to visit a certain garden some distance from the town, which I granted; and they clubbed their pittances to purchase sweetmeats and fruits. I attended them on this excursion, and was as much delighted as themselves with the pleasure they enjoyed, and their childish gambols. When evening approached we returned homewards, and on the way, my boys having fatigued themselves with play, as well as eaten much sweets and fruit, were seized with extreme thirst, of which they heavily complained. At length we reached a draw-well, but, alas! it had no bucket or cord. I pitied their situation, and resolved, if possible, to relieve them. I requested them to give me their turbans, which I tied to each other; but as they were altogether not long enough to reach the water, I fixed one of the turbans round my body, and made them let one down into the well, where I filled a small cup I had with me, which they drew up repeatedly till their thirst was satisfied. I then desired them to draw me up again, which they attempted; and I had reached nearly the mouth of the well, when I was unfortunately seized with a fit of sneezing; upon which the boys mechanically, as they had been accustomed to do in school, one and all let go their hold, crossed their arms, and exclaimed, "God have mercy upon our venerable tutor!" while I tumbled at once to the bottom of the well, and broke my back. I cried out from the agony of pain, and the children ran on all sides for help. At length some charitable passengers drew me out, and placing me upon an ass, carried me home; where I languished for a considerable time, and never could recover my health sufficiently again to attend to my school. Thus did I suffer for my foolish pride: for had I not been so tenacious of respect from my scholars, they would not upon my sneezing have let go their hold and broken my back.
When the broken-backed schoolmaster had finished his story, the old man with the wry-mouth thus began:
[Go to Story of the Wry-mouthed Schoolmaster]
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