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Scott: The Cauzee's Story

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A young tailor, whose shop was opposite the house of an officer, was so attracted from his work by the appearance of a beautiful young lady, his wife, in her balcony, that he became desperately in love, and would sit whole days waiting her coming, and when she showed herself make signs of his passion. For some time his ridiculous action diverted her, but at length she grew tired of the farce she had kept up by answering his signals, and of the interruption it gave to her taking the fresh air, so that she resolved to punish him for his presumption, and oblige him to quit his stall. Having laid her plan, one day when her husband was gone out for a few hours she dispatched a female slave to invite the tailor to drink coffee. To express the rapture of the happy snip is impossible. He fell at the feet of the slave, which he kissed as the welcome messengers of good tidings, gave her a piece of gold, and uttered some nonsensical verses that he had composed in praise of his beloved; then dressing himself in his best habit, he folded his turban in the most tasty manner, and curled his mustachios to the greatest advantage, after which he hastened exultingly to the lady's house, and was admitted to her presence. She sat upon a rich musnud, and gracefully lifting up her veil welcomed the tailor, who was so overcome that he had nearly fainted away with excess of rapture. She desired him to be seated, but such was his bashfulness that he would not approach farther than the corner of the carpet. Coffee was brought in, and a cup presented him; but not being used to such magnificence and form, and his eyes, also, being staringly fixed on the beauties of the lady, instead of carrying the cup to his mouth, he hit his nose and overthrew the liquid upon his vest. The lady smiled, and ordered him another cup; but while he was endeavouring to drink it with a little more composure, a loud knock was heard at the door, and she starting up, cried out with great agitation, "Good heavens! this is my husband's knock; if he finds us together he will sacrifice us to his fury!" The poor tailor, in terror, fell flat upon the carpet, when the lady and her slave threw some cold water upon his face, and when a little recovered hurried him away to a chamber, into which they forced him, and desired him to remain quiet, as the only means of saving his life. Here he remained quivering and trembling, more alive than dead, but perfectly cured of his love, and vowing never again to look up at a balcony.

When the tailor was disposed of, the lady again sat down upon her stool, and ordered her slave to open the gate. Upon her husband's entering the room he was surprised at beholding things set out for an entertainment, and inquired who had been with her; when she replied tartly, "A lover." "And where is he now?" angrily replied the officer. "In yonder chamber, and if you please you may sacrifice him to your fury, and myself afterwards." The officer demanded the key, which she gave him; but while this was passing, the agony of the unfortunate tailor was worse than death; he fully expecting every moment to have his head struck off: in short, he was in a most pitiable condition. The officer went to the door, and had put the key into the lock, when his wife burst suddenly into a fit of laughter: upon which he exclaimed angrily, "Who do you laugh at?" "Why, at yourself, to be sure, my wise lord," replied the lady; "for who but yourself could suppose a woman serious when she told him where to find out a concealed lover? I wanted to discover how far jealousy would carry you, and invented this trick for the purpose," The officer, upon this, was struck with admiration of his wife's pleasantry and his own credulity, which so tickled his fancy that he laughed immoderately, begged pardon for his foolish conduct, and they spent the evening cheerfully together; after which, the husband going to the bath, his wife charitably released the almost dead tailor, and reproving him for his impertinence, declared if he ever again looked up at her balcony she would contrive his death. The tailor, perfectly cured of love for his superior in life, made the most abject submission, thanked her for his deliverance, hurried home, prayed heartily for his escape, and the very next day took care to move from so dangerous a neighbourhood.

The husband and wife were highly diverted with the cauze's story, and after another dance permitted him to depart, and get home as well as he could in his ridiculous habit. How he got there, and what excuse he was able to make for so unmagisterial an appearance, we are not informed; but strange whispers went about the city, and the cauzee's dance became the favourite one or the strolling drolls, whom he had often the mortification of seeing taking him off as he passed to and from the tribunal, and not unfrequently in causes of adultery the evidences and culprits would laugh in his face. He, however, never again suffered Satan to tempt him, and was scarcely able to look at a strange woman, so great was his fear of being led astray.

When the cauzee was gone, the lady, repairing to the apartment, brought out the grave tax-collector, whom her husband addressed by name, saying, "Venerable sir, how long have you turned droll? can you favour me with a dance?" The tax-collector made no reply, but began capering, nor was he permitted to stop till quite tired. He was then allowed to sit, some refreshment was given him, and when revived he was desired to tell a story: knowing resistance vain, he complied. After having finished he was dismissed, and the other gallants were brought in and treated in a like manner.

[Go toThe Merchant, His Daughter, and the Prince of Eerauk]

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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