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

Then he wept till he wet his gray hairs and the king was moved to compassion for him and granted him that which he sought and vouchsafed him that night’s respite.

The First Night of the Month

When it was eventide, the king caused avoid his sitting chamber and summoned the vizier, who presented himself and making his obeisance to the king, kissed the earth before him and bespoke him as follows:


“There was once a man of Khorassan and he had a son, whose improvement he ardently desired; but the young man sought to be alone and to remove himself from his father’s eye, so he might give himself up to pleasance and delight. So he sought of his father [leave to make] the pilgrimage to the Holy House of God and to visit the tomb of the Prophet (whom God bless and keep!). Now between them and Mecca was a journey of five hundred parasangs; but his father could not gainsay him, for that the law of God made this[178] incumbent on him and because of that which he hoped for him of improvement [therefrom]. So he joined unto him a governor, in whom he trusted, and gave him much money and took leave of him. The son set out on the holy pilgrimage[179] with the governor and abode on that wise, spending freely and using not thrift.

[Footnote 178] i.e. A pilgrimage. Pilgrimage is one of a Muslim’s urgent duties.

[Footnote 179] By a rhetorical figure, Mecca is sometimes called El Hejj (the Pilgrimage) and this appears to be the case here. It is one of the dearest towns in the East and the chief occupation of its inhabitants a the housing and fleecing of pilgrims. An Arab proverb says, “There is no place in which money goes [so fast] as it goes in Mecca.”

Now there was in his neighbourhood a poor man, who had a slave-girl of surpassing beauty and loveliness, and the youth became enamoured of her and suffered grief and concern for the love of her and her loveliness, so that he was like to perish for passion; and she also loved him with a love yet greater than his love for her. So she called an old woman who used to visit her and acquainted her with her case, saying, ‘An I foregather not with him, I shall die.’ The old woman promised her that she would do her endeavour to bring her to her desire; so she veiled herself and repairing to the young man, saluted him and acquainted him with the girl’s case, saying, ‘Her master is a covetous man; so do thou invite him [to thy lodging] and tempt him with money, and he will sell thee the damsel.’

Accordingly, he made a banquet, and stationing himself in the man’s way, invited him and carried him to his house, where they sat down and ate and drank and abode in discourse. Presently, the young man said to the other, ‘I hear that thou hast with thee a slave-girl, whom thou desirest to sell.’ And he answered, saying, ‘By Allah, O my lord, I have no mind to sell her!’ Quoth the youth, ‘I hear that she cost thee a thousand dinars, and I will give thee six hundred, to boot.’ And the other said, ‘I sell her to thee [at that price].’ So they fetched notaries, who drew up the contract of sale, and the young man counted out to the girl’s master half the purchase money, saying, ‘Let her be with thee till I complete to thee the rest of the price and take my slave-girl.’ The other consented to this and took of him a bond for the rest of the money, and the girl abode with her master, on deposit.