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King Shah Bekht And His Vizier Er Rehwan
by [?]

King Shah Bekht And His Vizier Er Rehwan [177]

[Footnote 177] Breslau Text, vol xi. pp. 84-318, Nights dccclxxv-dccccxxx.

There was once, of old days and in bygone ages and times, a king of the kings of the time, by name Shah Bekht, who had troops and servants and guards galore and a vizier called Er Rehwan, who was wise, understanding, a man of good counsel and a cheerful acceptor of the commandments of God the Most High, to whom belong might and majesty. The king committed to him the affairs of his kingdom and his subjects and said according to his word, and on this wise he abode a long space of time.

Now this vizier had many enemies, who envied him his high place and still sought to do him hurt, but found no way thereunto, and God, in His fore-knowledge and His fore-ordinance from time immemorial, decreed that the king dreamt that the Vizier Er Rehwan gave him a fruit from off a tree and he ate it and died. So he awoke, affrighted and troubled, and when the vizier had presented himself before him [and withdrawn] and the king was alone with those in whom he trusted, he related to them his dream and they counselled him to send for the astrologers and interpreters [of dreams] and commended to him a sage, for whose skill and wisdom they vouched. So the king sent for him and entreated him with honour and made him draw near to himself. Now there had been private with the sage in question a company of the vizier’s enemies, who besought him to slander the vizier to the king and counsel him to put him to death, in consideration of that which they promised him of wealth galore; and he agreed with them of this and told the king that the vizier would slay him in the course of the [ensuing] month and bade him hasten to put him to death, else would he surely slay him.

Presently, the vizier entered and the king signed to him to cause avoid the place. So he signed to those who were present to withdraw, and they departed; whereupon quoth the king to him, “How deemest thou, O excellent vizier, O loyal counsellor in all manner of governance, of a vision I have seen in my sleep?” “What is it, O king?” asked the vizier, and Shah Bekht related to him his dream, adding, “And indeed the sage interpreted it to me and said to me, ‘An thou put not the vizier to death within a month, he will slay thee.’ Now I am exceeding both to put the like of thee to death, yet do I fear to leave thee on life. What then dost thou counsel me that I should do in this matter?” The vizier bowed his head awhile, then raised it and said, “God prosper the king! Verily, it skills not to continue him on life of whom the king is afraid, and my counsel is that thou make haste to put me to death.”

When the king heard his speech, he turned to him and said, “It is grievous to me, O vizier of good counsel.” And he told him that the [other] sages testified [to the correctness of their fellow’s interpretation of the dream]; whereupon Er Rehwan sighed and knew that the king went in fear of him; but he showed him fortitude and said to him, “God assain the king! My counsel is that the king accomplish his commandment and execute his ordinance, for that needs must death be and it is liefer to me that I die, oppressed, than that I die, an oppressor. But, if the king see fit to defer the putting of me to death till the morrow and will pass this night with me and take leave of me, when the morrow cometh, the king shall do what he will.”