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- The Arabian Nights Entertainments vol. 2 - 1/66 -
The "Aldine" Edition of
The Arabian Nights Entertainments
Illustrated by S. L. Wood
FROM THE TEXT OF DR. JONATHAN SCOTT
In Four Volumes
London Pickering and Chatto 1890
Contents of Volume II.
The Story of the Little Hunch-Back The Story Told by the Christian Merchant The Story Told by the Sultan of Casgar's Purveyor The Story Told by the Jewish Physician The Story Told by the Tailor The Story Told by the Barber The Story Told by the Barber's Eldest Brother The Story Told by the Barber's Second Brother The Story Told by the Barber's Third Brother The Story Told by the Barber's Fourth Brother The Story Told by the Barber's Fifth Brother The Story Told by the Barber's Sixth Brother
The History of Aboulhassen Ali Ebn Ecar, and Schemselnihar, Favourite of Caliph Haroon Al Rusheed
The Story of the Loves of Kummir Al Zummaun, Prince of the Isles of the Children of Khaledan, and of Badoura, Princess of China
The Story of the Princes Amgiad and Assad The Story of the Prince Amgiad and a Lady of the City of Magicians
The Story of Noor Ad Deen and the Fair Persian
THE STORY OF THE LITTLE HUNCH-BACK.
There was in former times at Casgar, on the extreme boundaries of Tartary, a tailor who had a pretty wife, whom he affectionately loved, and by whom he was beloved with reciprocal tenderness. One day while he was at work, a little hunch-back seated himself at the shop door and began to sing, and play upon a tabor. The tailor was pleased with his performance, and resolved to take him to his house to entertain his wife: "This little fellow," said he, "will divert us both this evening." He accordingly invited him, and the other readily accepted the invitation: so the tailor shut up his shop, and carried him home. Immediately after their arrival the tailor's wife placed before them a good dish of fish; but as the little man was eating, he unluckily swallowed a bone, which, notwithstanding all that the tailor and his wife could do, choked him. This accident greatly alarmed them both, dreading, if the magistrates should hear of it, that they would be punished as murderers. However, the husband devised a scheme to get rid of the corpse. He reflected that a Jewish doctor lived just by, and having formed his plan, his wife and he took the corpse, the one by the feet and the other by the head, and carried it to the physician's house. They knocked at the door, from which a steep flight of stairs led to his chamber. The servant maid came down without any light, and opening the door, asked what they wanted. "Have the goodness," said the tailor, "to go up again, and tell your master we have brought him a man who is very ill, and wants his advice. Here," continued he, putting a piece of money into her hand, "give him that beforehand, to convince him that we do not mean to impose." While the servant was gone up to inform her master, the tailor and his wife hastily conveyed the hunchbacked corpse to the head of the stairs, and leaving it there, hurried away.
In the mean time, the maid told the doctor, that a man and woman waited for him at the door, desiring he would come down and look at a sick man whom they had brought with them, and clapped into his hand the money she had received. The doctor was transported with joy; being paid beforehand, he thought it must needs be a good patient, and should not be neglected. "Light, light," cried he to the maid; "follow me quickly." As he spoke, he hastily ran towards the head of the stairs without waiting for a light, and came against the corpse with so much violence that he precipitated it to the bottom, and had nearly fallen with it. "Bring me a light," cried he to the maid; "quick, quick." At last she brought one, and he went down stairs with her; but when he saw that what he had kicked down was a dead man, he was so frightened, that he invoked Moses, Aaron, Joshua, Esdras, and all the other prophets of his nation. "Unhappy man that I am," said he, "why did I attempt to come without a light! I have killed the poor fellow who was brought to me to be cured: doubtless I am the cause of his death, and unless Esdras's ass come to assist me, I am ruined: Mercy on me, they will be here out of hand, and drag me out of my house for a murderer."
Notwithstanding the perplexity and confusion into which he was thrown, he had the precaution to shut his door, for fear any one passing by should observe the accident of which he reckoned himself to be the author. He then took the corpse into his wife's chamber, who was ready to swoon at the sight. "Alas," cried she, "we are utterly ruined and undone, unless we can devise some expedient to get the corpse out of our house this night. If we harbour it till morning we are lost. What a deplorable misfortune is this! What have you done to kill this man?" "That is not now the question," replied the Jew; "our business at present is, to find a remedy for the evil which threatens us."
The doctor and his wife consulted how to dispose of the corpse that night. The doctor racked his brain in vain, he could not think of any stratagem to relieve his embarrassment; but his wife, who was more fertile in invention, said, "A thought is just come into my head; let us carry the corpse to the terrace of our house, and throw it down the chimney of our Mussulmaun neighbour."
This Mussulmaun was one of the sultan's purveyors for furnishing oil, butter, and articles of a similar nature, and had a magazine in his house, where the rats and mice made prodigious havoc.
The Jewish doctor approving the proposed expedient, the wife and he took the little hunch-back up to the roof of the house; and clapping ropes under his arm-pits, let him down the chimney into the purveyor's chamber so dexterously that he stood upright against the wall, as if he had been alive. When they found he had reached the bottom, they pulled up the ropes, and left the corpse in that posture. They were scarcely got down into their chamber, when the purveyor, who had just returned from a wedding feast, went into his room, with a lanthorn in his hand. He was not a little surprised to discover a man standing in his chimney; but being a stout fellow, and apprehending him to be a thief, he took up a stick, and making straight up to the hunch-back, "Ah!" said he, "I thought the rats and mice ate my butter and tallow; but it is you who come down the chimney to rob me? However, I think you will have no wish to come here again." Upon this he attacked hunch-back, and struck him several times with his stick. The corpse fell down flat on the ground, and the purveyor redoubled his blows. But, observing that the body did not move, he stood a little time to regard it; and then, perceiving it to be dead, fear succeeded his anger. "Wretched man that I am," said he, "what have I done! I have killed a man; alas, I have carried my revenge too far. Good God, unless thou pity me my life is gone! Cursed, ten thousand times accursed, be the fat and the oil that occasioned me to commit so criminal an action." He stood pale and thunderstruck; he fancied he already saw the officers come to drag him to condign punishment, and could not tell what resolution to take.
The sultan of Casgar's purveyor had never noticed the little man's hump-back when he was beating him, but as soon as he perceived it, he uttered a thousand imprecations against him. "Ah, thou cursed hunch-back," cried he, "thou crooked wretch, would to God thou hadst robbed me of all my fat, and I had not found thee here. I then should not have been thrown into this perplexity on account of this and thy vile hunch. Ye stars that twinkle in the heavens, give your light to none but me in this dangerous juncture." As soon as he had uttered these words, he took the crooked corpse upon his shoulders, and carried it to the end of the street, where he placed it in an upright posture against a shop; he then returned without once looking behind him.
A few minutes before day-break, a Christian merchant, who was very rich, and furnished the sultan's palace with various articles, having sat up all night at a debauch, happened to come from his house in this direction on his way to the bath. Though he was intoxicated, he was sensible that the night was far spent, and that the people would soon be called to morning prayers; he therefore quickened his pace to get to the bath in time, lest some Mussulmaun, in his way to the mosque, should meet him and carry him to prison for a drunkard. When he came to the end of the street, he had occasion to stop by the shop where the sultan's purveyor had put the hunch-backed corpse; which being jostled by him, tumbled upon the merchant's back. The merchant thinking he was attacked by a robber, knocked it down, and after redoubling his blows, cried out "Thieves!"
The outcry alarmed the watch, who came up immediately, and finding a Christian beating a Mussulmaun (for hump-back was of our religion), "What reason have you," said he, "to abuse a Mussulmaun in this manner?" "He would have robbed me," replied the merchant, "and jumped upon my back in order to take me by the throat." "If he did," said the watch, "you have revenged yourself sufficiently; come, get off him." At the same time he stretched out his hand to help little hump-back up, but observing he was
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