Story of the Man who compiled a Book on
the Wiles of Women

IN former days and early times, there was a wise man, active in his affairs; free from stain was his skirt; no sister, or mother, or mother-in-law had he. All his life he had lived in chastity—nought knew he, save prayer. Never in all his life had he seen woman's face; his heart was at peace from the witch, woman; his heart was undisturbed by antimony or collyrium.* Even the great ones of the faith, and the lions of the path, have glanced towards women. Flee thou from aloes-wood and ambergris,* as a child would escape from a lion. All day he collected (tales of) the wiles of women. He encompassed the world like the wind; he, the master, became a disciple. At length, one day he arrived at a city, and he saw in that city an experienced man, who (like himself) had spent his life in the same work: for forty years he had traversed sea and land, and finally composed a treatise on this subject, adorned with the lies and excuses—the tricks and contrivances of women. This man became his guest, and ate at the same table; and when they were done with bread and tray, they began to converse on various subjects, and he said that which was on his mind. When he (the experienced man) saw what was the object of his guest, he redeemed him from his trouble and labour, by giving him the collection he had him­self made, including the commentary which he had also composed. And thus the young man secured what had been the object of his life from morn till eve, and his work was completed. Thereupon, long­ing for home seized upon his heart. No evil is worse than the plight of the poor; nothing is pleasanter than one's own house. In truth, when God gives daily bread, why should the beggar trouble himself? … The wise man desires his own country; for delightful is the sight of an old friend. What is pleasanter than to return home after a long absence?*

He placed his books upon a camel, and proceeded homeward. In returning he was like a hawk; he sped in that direction as a falcon. At a village, one day's journey from his city, one received him as a guest, with honour, respect, and distinction. He set down his chests of books outside, for there was no room in the house sufficient to contain them. Presently some important business called away the good-man of the house, who, on leaving, thus commissioned his wife: “O wise one, be not a moment neglectful of this man.” Having said this, he went off, and left his wife, who was a rose like the cypress of Paradise. The blackness (of her eyes) was like the Water of Life; the sugar of her smile bound up the hand of the cane. She was a spring-blossom, fresher than the jasmine-leaf; covered with leaves and flowers fresher than those in the meadow.

She came to seek an excuse of the youth;—see what will come of this excuse-seeking! When he beheld her, a torrent poured from his eyes. He fell into the place of evil. He stumbled, and his face became pale; his breath became cold as the wind of autumn. The woman perceived how it was with him —how her magic had worked on that Sāmirī. She sat down, and soothed him. She asked, slowly and softly, her face hidden in her linen veil: “Welcome! whence hast thou come with joy? Thou hast adorned our narrow hovel!” She was curious to know whether his load was gold—she knew not that it was the load of an ass! “O master,” she said to him, “what is your load —what manner of stuff is in it?” Painfully and slowly, he gave answer, his heart filled with fire, and his soul overthrown: “It is a number of books containing all the wiles and devices of women.” When the wanton beauty heard these words, she tripped out of the house. The poor wretch remained with his own griefs;—there was none to draw the thorn from the wound. He forgot good and bad; he became so that he forgot himself. The crafty one came back, and saved him… Come, now, and see his case: see the end of his work and business. The labour of forty years comes to nothing. His brain was confused, and he became mad: though he was a friend, he became a stranger. He washed out all that was in his books. He ran from door to door like the mad. Now he smote his breast with a stone, now he tore his collar. His claims all went to the winds—all his austerity, asceticism, and piety. At length, in this pain and stress, he died;—there was none to snatch his soul from the hand of woman's wiles.]*

The period during which the evil aspects in the prince's horoscope were to prevail having now come to a close, and the seven days during which he was to keep silence being ended, he sent a messenger to the chief vazīr to thank him for the exertions he had made in his behalf.* The vazīr, upon this, waited on the prince, who requested him to beg for him an audience of his Majesty [on the morrow], when the nobles and courtiers should be all assembled. The vazīr joyfully hastened to the king, and announced the request of the prince, expressing his confidence that it would soon appear, before the whole assembly, who was innocent and who was guilty.

The king accordingly assembled his grandees [next day], and when he was seated on his throne, the sage Sindibād entered, and the king desired him to be seated. The prince next presented himself, and, after kissing his father's carpet, raising his head, he gave thanks to God that he was again permitted to appear at the foot of the throne. “When God wills not the destruction of any one,” said he, “no ingenuity of man can effect it; and if it be decreed by him, it cannot be countervailed.” In illustration of this remark, the Prince relates the