He said, ‘They have related* that in the city of Sarándíp there was a Carpenter who had reached the uttermost limits of stolidity. He had a wife excessively beautiful and extremely lovely. She was a gazelle-eyed charmer who used to strike down the savage lion with her glance of coquetry, and imposed by her fox-like stratagems a hare’s sleep on the knowing ones of the world.

A mistress heart-alluring, soul-dissolving, she;
An idol, love-rewarding, fair to view.
The hyacinth her ringlets writhed to see,
And her cheeks bathed the rose in jealous dew.

The carpenter was infatuated with her, and could never rest an instant without seeing her. The wife, compelled by necessity granted him her favors, but drank the cup of desire in the feast of pleasure with others who were his rivals. In the vicinity lived a youth, in stature like the cypress that grows in the garden of the living spirit, and in face like a fresh rose whose cheeks have been washed in the water of life.

Not sun and moon together blending could produce that matchless cheek;
And to his beard thou mightest vainly e’en in musk a rival seek.

The fair one’s eyes fell upon him, and her heart was bound to him in love and affection. Things between them proceeded from correspondence to intimacy, and from letters and messages to unintermitting enjoyment and intercourse, morning and evening. A party of envious people, with whom the very idea of the union of two lovers was wont to turn bright day into gloomy night, and whom the thought of ‘Why should the lamp of converse be kindled between two persons? would consume with the fire of envy and jealousy,

Wealth and rank did never make envious thoughts arise in me;
But I grudge that any lover happy with his love should be;

having got information of those circumstances, acquainted the Carpenter with them. The poor fellow, though he had not much jealousy, wished to learn the certainty of the matter, and take steps to remedy it. He said to his wife, ‘Get some food ready for a journey, for I am going to a village, and though the distance is not great, nevertheless my stay there will be for some days, and I do not know how I shall endure being without thee, nor how I can bear to be melted in the crucible of separation.

Thou, from whom this cruel parting is unwished, abhorred by me;
Who of his free choice would suffer a removal far from thee?

The wife too simulated affection, and, weeping for joy, let fall some tears from her eyes; and forthwith prepared the provisions, and dismissed her husband. The Carpenter as he was going gave her many injunctions, saying, ‘Thou must securely fasten the door, and take good care of the household stuffs, that during my absence thieves may not find an opportunity, and we suffer loss in our property and goods. The wife received these instructions with good will, and swore to observe them, and directly her spouse was gone, sent to tell her lover.

‘Come into my garden for the rose is blooming, and no thorn is left.’

Her paramour promised, saying, ‘As soon as a watch of the night passes, expect the rising of the morn of union.’ The fair one, rejoicing at that promise, made preparations to entertain him.

Gramercy! happy fortune! if that lovely moon, one night,
In my deserted cottage from beauty’s heaven alight.

The Carpenter returned at an unseasonable hour to his house by a secret way. It happened to be at the time when the sun and moon were in conjunction, and the lover and his mistress were in mutual raptures at the sight of one another. At one time the beautiful youth, with his ravishing glances, threw the fire of perturbation into the harvest of her patience. At another, the fair one, like a silver moon, with her fascinating coquetry, made havoc of the reason and senses of the youth.

Two graceful, sense-beguiling idols they,
From head to foot in love’s adornments dressed.
His cheek shed lamplike o’er their couch its ray,
Her lip to every wine-cup lent new zest.

The hapless Carpenter waited until they betook themselves to the bed­chamber, and then very softly crept under the bed, that he might observe what they were doing in private. Suddenly his wife’s eyes fell on his foot, and she perceived that the departure of her spouse had been a mere pre­text to discover the truth of this affair. Whispering to her lover, she said, ‘Ask of me in a loud voice whether I like thee or my husband best.’ The youth raised his voice, and said, ‘O pretty one! I want to know whether the love thou hast in thy heart for me is greater than thy attachment to thy husband?’ The woman replied, ‘How camest thou to ask this question, and what is the use of inquiring?’ The youth, in fear of his life, pressed her for an answer, and took her hand.* The woman answered, ‘If I am to speak the truth, these accidents happen to women either from trifling and careless­ness, or from wantonness and lust; and they take up with friends without caring about their worth or birth, or without laying stress on their vices or bad habits. And when their sensual wants are satisfied, and their passion begins to wane, they soon regard them as mere strangers.

They cease their fondling, and their lover quit.
Their passion—not a thought remains of it.

But their husband resembles the life of their bosom, and is precious as the light of their eyes,

One might life indeed surrender, but not e’er relinquish thee.

May she never reap the fruit of life and youth, and means and existence, who does not value her husband a thousand times above dear life itself, and who does not wish for the capital of vitality simply to increase his comfort and his happiness here and hereafter!

Without thee, may I ne’er my hope attain!
And, save for thee, I’d e’en from life refrain.’

When the Carpenter heard this speech, tenderness and commiseration arose in his heart, and emotion and pity overpowered him, and he said, ‘It had very nearly happened that I had wronged this woman, and had become guilty and sinful in the sight of God. After all, what was this evil suspicion that I entertained of her, while the poor thing was all the time pining for me, and terribly in love with me; and, in the creed of friendship and path of love one ought not to attach much weight to it if, with all this attachment and friendship that she has for me, she make a little slip; nor ought one to reckon too strictly with her for follies like these which she may commit, for no creature can be pure from errors and failings.

Where lives there one whose skirt has not been staincd?

And I, blockhead that I am! have given myself all this trouble, and plunged myself in such distress gratuitously. My best course is now not to embitter their enjoyments, and not to disgrace her before a strange man, since she acts so from mere playfulness and folly, and not intentionally and of set purpose. I ought to fix my eyes on her merits, and close my eyes to her failings.

Hast thou one virtue, faults threescore and ten;
Nought but that virtue shines in friendship’s ken.’

He then remained sitting in silence in the same place under the bed, and did not utter a word until they had finished their toying, and the flag of gloomy night had been reversed.

When from night’s shade sprang up the charming day,—
Morn’s breath from heaven made creation gay,

the stranger departed, and the Carpenter’s wife pretended to be asleep on the bed. The Carpenter came gently out from under the bed, and sat down upon it courteously and kindly, and was wiping off the dust of dejection from his wife’s face with the sleeve of suavity, and stroked her limbs gently with his hand, until the wily woman opened her eyes, and fixing her eyes upon her husband as he sate at her pillow, started up and said,

‘Welcome the morn that brings my loved one home!
Thanks that the partner of my cares is come.’

She then asked, ‘When didst thou safely arrive?’ He replied, ‘At the time when thou wast pressing the hand of desire in the bosom of union with that stranger. However, as I knew that necessity was the cause of it, I preserved thy credit, and did nothing to annoy him. And as I am aware of thy kind feelings towards me, and know the friendship thou entertainest for me; and am quite sure that thou art anxious for life only for communion with me, and wishest for sight only to gaze on my beauty; if thou art guilty of these immoralities, it must, of course, be from frailty. Wherefore I felt it incumbent on me to be indulgent to thy friend, and to preserve thy honor. Be of good cheer, and do not give way to alarm or fear, and emancipate thyself from thy terrors, and pardon me for thinking ill of thee, and for entertaining a hundred kinds of bad suspicions of thee. Praise be to God! thou hast not turned out to be what I supposed thee.

All my suspicion was indeed mistake!’

The wife made use of deceitful words; and both sides, forgetting their anger, placed the arms of reconciliation round the neck of satisfaction; and the Carpenter, loosing the tongue of apology, was expressing this sentiment.

‘In no grave light my God thy error see!
Since I’m content, may He forgiving be!’

And I have introduced this story, that you too, like the carpenter, who was cajoled by the words of a profligate woman, may not be deceived by the talk of this deceitful crow, nor seduced by his hypocrisy and artifices, which smell of blood.

Let not the foe malignant thee beguile;
He rues it in the end who heeds his wile.

And every enemy who, by means of his distant position, cannot make an assault, advances closer by stratagem; and assuming the part of an adviser, brings himself, by hypocrisy and fawning, into the situation of confidential intercourse. As soon as he has learned the secrets [of his dupe] he looks out for an opportunity, and, with perfect insight, commences his undertaking; and not a blow that he strikes, but like the fire-raining thunderbolt, consumes the fire of life; and, like the arrow of fate, unerringly reaches the target of his wish and the mark of his desire.’ The crow (Kárshinás) said, ‘O cruel friend! what is the use of all this eloquence? and what results from this useless preamble which thou art linking together? After all, what connection has this cruelty, which has been practised upon me, and this tyranny which has befallen me, with deceit and stratagem? No sensible person is willing to suffer pain himself to give comfort to another, nor have I voluntarily taken upon myself this disgrace and suffering. And every one knows that these tortures were nothing but the requital of my opposition to the crows.’ The vazír said, ‘This thing that thou hast done is the spring of thy deceit, and thou hast willingly, nay, greedily, submitted to these sufferings; and the sweetuess of revenge which thou hast in mind has made the bitter draught of this pain pleasant to the palate of thy hope; and there have been many who have been willing to die in order to destroy their enemy, and who, to do their patrons and benefactors a service, have cast themselves into the vortex of annihilation, to leave inscribed on the page of their life the character of gratitude and loyalty. So that Monkey gave himself up to be killed, in order that he might avenge his friends.’ The king of the owls asked, ‘How was that?’