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- The Arabian Nights Entertainments vol. 4 - 40/71 -

confidence; so leaving the cow tied to the branch of the tree, he returned home exulting in the good bargain he had made for the animal.

When he entered the house, his wife inquired what he had gotten for the cow; to which he replied, that he had sold her to an honest woman named Am Solomon, who had promised to pay him on the next Friday ten pieces of gold. The wife was contented, and when Friday arrived, her idiot of a husband having, as usual, taken a dose of bang, repaired to the tree, and hearing the bird chattering, as before, said, "Well, my good mother, hast thou brought the gold?" The bird croaked. Supposing the imaginary woman refused to pay him, he became angry, and threw up his spade, which frightening the bird, it flew from the nest, and alighted on a heap of soil at some distance. He fancied that Am Solomon had desired him to take his money from the heap, into which he dug with his spade, and found a brazen vessel full of gold coin. This discovery convinced him he was right, and being, notwithstanding his weakness, naturally honest, he only took ten pieces; then replacing the soil, said, "May Allah requite thee for thy punctuality, good mother!" and returned to his wife, to whom he gave the money, informing her at the same time of the great treasure his friend Am Solomon possessed, and where it was concealed. The wife waited till night, when she went and brought away the pot of gold; which her husband observing, said, "It is dishonest to rob one who has paid us so punctually, and if thou dost not return it to its place, I will inform the (walee) officer of police."

The wife laughed at his folly; but fearing the ill consequences of his executing his threat, she planned a stratagem to prevent them. Going to the market, she purchased some broiled meat and fish ready dressed, which she brought privately home, and concealed in the house. At night, the husband having regaled himself with his beloved bang, retired to sleep off his intoxication; but about midnight she strewed the provisions she had brought at the door, and awakening her partner, cried out, in pretended astonishment, "Dear husband, a most wonderful phenomenon has occurred; there has been a violent storm while you slept, and, strange to tell, it has rained pieces of broiled meat and fish, which now lie at the door!" The husband, still in a state of stupefaction from the bang, got up, went to the door, and seeing the provisions, was persuaded of the truth of his wife's story. The fish and flesh were gathered up, and he partook with much glee of the miraculous treat; but he still threatened to inform the walee of her having stolen the treasure of the good old woman Am Solomon.

In the morning the foolish bang-eater actually repaired to the walee, and informed him that his wife had stolen a pot of gold, which she had still in her possession. The walee upon this apprehended the woman, who denied the accusation, when she was threatened with death. She then said, "My lord, the power is in your hands; but I am an injured woman, as you wili find by questioning my unfortunate husband; who, alas! is deranged in his intellects. Ask him when I committed the theft." The walee did so; to which he replied, "It was on the evening of that night on which it rained broiled flesh and fish ready dressed." "Wretch!" exclaimed the walee, "dost thou dare to utter falsehoods before me? Who ever saw it rain any thing but water?" "As I hope for life, my lord," replied the bang-eater, "I speak the truth; for my wife and myself ate of the fish and flesh which fell from the clouds." The woman being appealed to, denied the assertion of her husband.

The walee being now convinced that the man was crazy, released his wife, and sent the husband to the madhouse; where he remained some days, till the wife, pitying his condition, contrived to get him released by the following stratagem. She visited her husband, and desired him when any one inquired of him if he had seen it rain flesh and fish, to answer, "No: who ever saw it rain any thing but water?" She then informed the keeper that he was come to his senses, and desired him to put the question. On his answering properly he was released.

The fisherman had not long been in the service of the sultan, when walking one day near the house of a principal merchant, his daughter chanced to look through a window, and the buffoon was so struck with her beauty that he became devoted to love. Daily did he repair to the same spot for weeks together in hopes of once seeing her, but in vain; for she did not again appear at the window. At length, his passion had such an effect upon him that he fell sick, kept his bed, and began to rave, exclaiming, "Ah! what charming eyes, what a beautiful complexion, what a graceful stature has my beloved!" In this situation he was attended by an old woman, who, compassionating his case, desired him to reveal the cause of his uneasiness.

"My dear mother," replied he, "I thank thee for thy kindness; but unless thou canst asssist me I must soon die." He then related what he had seen, and described to her the house of the merchant. When she said, "Son, be of good cheer; for no one could so readily have assisted thee in this dilemma as myself. Have patience, and I will speedily return with intelligence of thy beloved." Having spoken thus, she departed, and upon reaching her own house disguised herself as a devotee. Throwing over her shoulders a coarse woollen gown, holding in one hand a long string of beads, in the other a walking staff, she proceeded to the merchant's house, at the gate of which she cried, "God is God, there is no God but God; may his holy name be praised, and may God be with you," in a most devout tone.

The merchant's daughter, on hearing this devout ejaculation, came to the door, saluted the old woman with great respect, and said, "Dear mother, pray for me:" when she exclaimed, "May Allah protect thee, my beloved child, from all injury!" The young lady then introduced her into the house, seated her in the most honourable place, and with her mother sat down by her. They conversed on religious subjects till noon, when the old woman called for water, performed her ablutions, and recited prayers of an unusual length: upon which the mother and daughter remarked to one another that the aged matron must certainly be a most religious character. When prayers were ended, they set a collation before her; but she declined partaking, saying, "I am to day observing a fast." This increased their respect and admiration of her sanctity, so that they requested her to remain with them till sunset, and break her fast with them, to which she consented. At sunset she prayed again, after which she ate a little, and then uttered many pious exhortations. In short, the mother and daughter were so pleased with her, that they invited her to stay all night. In the morning, she rose early, made her ablutions, prayed for a considerable time, and concluded with a blessing upon her entertainers in learned words, which they could not understand. When she rose up, they supported her by the arms respectfully, and entreated her longer stay; but she declined it, and having taken leave, departed; promising, however, with the permission of Allah, to make them soon another visit.

On the second day following, the old woman repaired again to the merchant's house, and was joyfully received by the mother and daughter; who, kissing her hands and feet, welcomed her return. She behaved the same as before, and inspired them with stronger veneration for her sandity. Her visits now grew frequent, and she was always a welcome guest in the merchant's family. At length, one evening she entered, and said, "I have an only daughter, whose espousals are now celebrating, and this night the bride goes in state to her husband's house. My desire is that my good young lady should attend the ceremony, and receive the benefit of my prayers." The mother replied, "I am unwilling to let her go, lest some accident should befall her:" upon which the pretended religious exclaimed, "What canst thou fear, while I and other devout women shall be with her?" The daughter expressing great eagerness to attend the nuptials, her mother at length consented.

When the merchant's daughter had adorned herself in her richest habit, she accompanied the old woman; who, after leading her through several streets, conducted her to the lodging of the late fisherman, but now favourite to the sultan, who was eagerly expecting her arrival. The young lady was astonished on her entrance at beholding a comely looking man; who, she saw, could hardly restrain his raptures at the sight of her. Her first alarm was great at finding herself betrayed into such a snare by the hypocritical beldam; but having naturally much presence of mind, she concealed her fears, and considered how she might escape. She sat down, and after looking round the apartment affected to laugh, saying to the gallant, "It is commonly usual when a lover invites his mistress to his house to have an entertainment prepared; for what is love without the accompaniment of a feast? If you wish, therefore, that I should spend the evening here, go and bring in some good cheer, that our joy may be complete. I will with my good mother wait your return."

The gallant, rejoiced at her commands, exclaimed, "Thou hast spoken truly, and to hear is to obey;" after which, he went towards the market to order a splendid entertainment. When he was gone, the young lady locked the door after him, and thanking the old woman for introducing her to so handsome a lover, threw her off her guard, while she walked about the apartment meditating her escape. At length she found in one corner of it a sharp sabre, and drawing up her sleeve to her elbow, she grasped the weapon, which she struck with such force at her false friend, who was reclining on a sofa, as to cleave the head of the abandoned procuress in two, and she fell down weltering in her blood, to rise no more.

The merchant's daughter now searched the room, and finding a rich dress which the favourite usually wore when he visited the sultan, rolled it up in a bundle, and carrying it under her veil, unlocked the door, and hastened homewards. Luckily she reached her father's house without interruption. Her mother welcomed her with joy; but on perceiving the bundle, said, "My dear daughter, what can have been given thee at the nuptials of a poor religious?" The daughter, whose mind had been over agitated with her late adventure, was not able to answer; her spirits sunk at the recollection of her narrow escape, and she fainted away. The mother shrieked aloud with affright, which brought in her husband and attendants, who used various means for the young lady's recovery; and at length, having regained her senses, she related what had passed. The merchant having cursed the memory of the old woman for her hypocritical deception, comforted his virtuous daughter, and taking up the dress which he knew, and to whom it belonged, hastened to make his complaint to the sultan.

When the sultan had heard the complaint of the merchant, he was enraged against his unworthy favourite, and commanded him to be apprehended; but he could no where be found, for having on his return home seen the old woman weltering in her blood, he guessed what had happened; and apprehensive of being called to an account, putting on a mean disguise, made his escape from the city. Fortunately for him a caravan was just taking its

The Arabian Nights Entertainments vol. 4 - 40/71

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