Story of the Lady whose Hair was cut off.*

WHEN the lady was excited with wine, her lover came into her mind, and she lost her wits, and forgot where she was. The old companion leapt into her suddenly, and with a dagger she cut her hair to the roots. She scratched her cheek with her nails, till her face was bathed in blood. At dawn the lady went forth from the house, confused as her own tresses. When she reached home she began to weep; tore her collar and bared her head—her face all wounds with her nails. She raised her cries and wail to the moon; twisted her hairs round her fingers, pulled them out, and strewed them by handfuls all the way home, so that her path resembled the Milky Way therewith; saying that her husband's days were come to an end—a stranger had unexpectedly told her that news. The women gathered in her street, and they all became as disordered as her hair. One said: “The poor thing! see how, fair creature, for the death of her husband, she has cut off her hair!” Another said: “See her face, how she has torn it into wounds! See what she has done to her bosom!” There now befell wailings in that dwelling; the mansion was filled with the weeping of mourners. She prepared a worthy wake for her husband, and gave food.* —After a month had elapsed, her lord came home. Like fire from iron, the woman leapt out, and exclaimed: “Take care, O young man—you outside-cheat! I knew not if thou wast in the bath stoke-hole or in the tomb. For thy death have I cut off my hair from the roots, and torn all my face with my nails. With whom have you been in close converse? Tell me, with whom have you been in close search? If I had a little once, not an atom now remains;—for this reason, of thy ten houses not a farthing has been left. What an evil day was that on which we were joined!” Thus did she vent her ill-temper. Her lord said: “O kind companion, what may it all be? Let no harm come to thy life.” He then made up for all the expenses that had befallen, and paid all the money she had borrowed.—Thus do women practise sleight-of-hand; with craft thus do they split hairs. Though a woman were a phœnix, she were best plucked of feathers; though she were a noble falcon, she were best with her head wrung off. None knows the tricks and spells of women;—make mourning a duty under her sway, and weep blood.*

“If his Majesty,” continued the Fifth Vazīr, “is not wearied by these headache-giving tales, I will relate another example.”