Story of the King and the Virtuous Wife,*

the commencement of which is also wanting, but it was probably similar to that of the story as found in Syntipas and other old versions: A king, who was very fond of women, chanced one day to see a beautiful lady on the terrace of her house, and immediately became enamoured of her. Having ascertained that she was the wife of one of his officers, or ministers, the king despatched him on a distant expedition, and soon after visited the lady one evening. Now this lady was as virtuous as she was beautiful, and, pretending to accede to the king's desire, she gave him a book to read while she bathed and adorned herself. This book consisted of warnings against the indulgence of illicit passions, and in the first page of what remains of the story, the king seems to be engaged in reading it with great interest, and the narrative thus proceeds:

When the king reflected on these things, he repented of all he had previously done; and when the lady came in at the door, he looked on her with a different eye. He offered excuses to her; gave her a signet-ring* with his name on it, in order that it might be a keep­sake for her, and then went to his own palace, with his heart and soul wounded for what he had done. That wine-drinking, beauty-adoring king became by this means a pure devotee, with the sacred volume (the Qur'ān) ever in his hand. He repented of his former wickedness, and never again did he but what was lawful.

One night the lady's husband came home unex­pectedly. She had placed beside her the ring, which shone afar, like (the planet) Jupiter. And when he saw it, he was confounded; he examined it, and read the inscription, and recognising the royal name of the king thereon, earth and heaven became black in his eyes. The ring, which was of diamond, became a diamond for the heart of that master—it made him bleed for such a lot, as though there was poison under that signet. He thrust her forth of the house, and said nothing.

The brother of the lady went before the king, and made complaint that “That good-man (his sister's hus­band) took from us a holding; without cause he has drawn back his hand from it: ask why he has left it.” The king demanded of that broken-hearted one: “What is the cause of thy leaving it? If there has arisen a quarrel, on whose account is it?” Then the good-man answered thus: “O king, Defender of the Faith, Issuer of Command, I saw therein the track of the lion's foot;—can one work in the lion's place? Otherwise, there is no complaint against my ground; but it is not prudent to go in the lion's track.” The king knew that this was the lady's husband, and the affair of the ring flashed upon him. So he encouraged him, saying: “Make not ill thy heart: thou art mis­taken. Do not commit a fault against thyself. The lion that was there did not any harm.” On hearing this, the man's heart was set at rest, and he repented the trouble and vexation he had caused his wife; he went at once and begged her forgiveness, and made all things pleasant for her. He sought the content­ment of her heart, for true was her word, and virtuous her condition.*

Having thus concluded, the vazīr then proceeds to relate the