Story of the Officer and his Mistress, his Servant,
and the Woman's Husband

IN the kingdom of Balqīs* and city of Sapā, there lived a tailor, of whose wife a young officer became enamoured. When the tailor was from home, the officer sent his servant with a message to the wife. The slave, being a handsome youth, found favour with her, and stayed so long, that the officer's patience being exhausted, he proceeded himself to the house. Aware of his approach, the woman concealed the slave in an inner apartment. While the officer was with her, the husband was heard knocking at the door. The woman, afraid to hide the officer in the other apartment, lest he should discover his slave there, devised the following escape from her difficulty. She desired her lover to draw his sword, feign to be in a violent passion with her, and, abusing her in opprobrious terms, to rush out of the house past her husband, without saying a word to him. The officer having done so, and the husband entering, the wife hastens to his embrace. “Be thankful,” cried she, “that we are delivered from such a calamity! This morning, a lad rushed in here, trembling like a reed, and entreating me to save his life. I concealed him in that apartment. That furious man, whom you saw, burst in upon me, and asked, ‘Where is the boy, my slave?’ I replied that he was not here, and that I had not seen him; upon which he darted away in a passion. Enter the closet, and quiet the lad's fears. He is an orphan, and without relations.” The simple husband did so, and having soothed and consoled the lad, sent him away with good wishes. [4]

“I have related this tale,” added the vazīr, “to show the cunning of women: believe not their words. I will vouch for the prince's innocence with my life.” The king reflected for a while, and then, remanding the youth to prison, retired to his private apartment.

Next morning, the Damsel, hearing of the impres­sion which had been made upon his Majesty by the eloquence of one of his vazīrs, and how her plans were thus overthrown, again presented herself, and, com­plaining loudly of her wrongs, implored justice. She reminded his Majesty of a day of retribution; accused him of protecting one who had looked on his harem with an eye of sin; denounced the vazīr as corrupt and a receiver of bribes; and as bent upon bestowing the sovereignty on the prince by the death of his master. “If,” said she, “your Majesty will not listen to my advice, the same thing will happen to you which happened to the washerman through his son.” “Relate it,” said the king; and she began: