This section is from the book "Stories From The Thousand And One Nights", by Edward William Lane and Stanley Lanepoole. Also available from Amazon: Stories From Thousand And One Nights: The Arabian Nights' Entertainments.
Never trust in women; nor rely upon their vows, For their pleasure and displeasure depend upon their passions.
They offer a false affection; for perfidy lurks within their clothing. By the tale of Yusuf be admonished, and guard against their stratagems.
Dost thou not consider that Iblis ejected Adam by means of woman?
And another poet says:
Abstain from censure; for it will strengthen the censured, and increase desire into violent passion. If I suffer such passion* my case is but the same as that of many a man before me:
For greatly indeed to be wondered at is he who hath kept himself safe from women's artifice.
When the two Kings heard these worda from her lips they were struck with the utmost astonishment* and said, one to the other If this is an 'Efrit, and a greater calamity hath hap* pened unto him than that which hath befallen us, this is a circumstance that should console us:-and immediately they dt* parted, and returned to the city.
As soon as they had entered the palace, Shahriyar caused his wife to be beheaded, and in like manner the women and black slaves; and thenceforth he made it his regular custom, every time that he took a virgin to his bed, to kill her at the expiration of the night Thus he continued to do during a period of three years; and the people raised an outcry against him, and fled with their daughters, and there remained not a virgin in the city of a sufficient age for marriage. Such was the case when the King ordered the Wexir to bring him a virgin according to his custom; and the Wezir went forth and searched, and found none; and he went back to his house enraged and vexed, fearing what the King might do to him.
Now the Wezir had two daughters; the elder of whom was named Shahrazad; and the younger, Dunyzad. The former had read various books of histories, and the lives of preceding kings, and stories of past generations: it is asserted that she had collected together a thousand books of histories, relating to pre* ceding generations and kings, and works of the poets: and she said to her father on this occasion, Why do I see thee thus changed, and oppressed with solicitude and sorrows? It has been said by one of the poets:
Tell htm who is oppressed with anxiety, that anxiety will not last: As happiness passeth away, so passeth away anxiety.
When the Wezir heard these words from his daughter, he related to her all that had happened to him with regard to the King: upon which she said. By Allah, 0 my father, give me in marriage to this King: either I shall die, and be a ransom for one of the daughters of the Muslims, or I shall live, and be the cause of their deliverance from him. I conjure thee by Allah, exclaimed he, that thou expose not thyself to such peril:-but she said, It must be so. Then, said he, I fear for thee that the same will befall thee that happened in the case of the Ass and the Bull and the husbandman.-And what, she asked, was that, O my father?
Know, O my daughter, said the Wezir, that there was a certain merchant, who possessed wealth and cattle, and had a wife and children; and God, whose name be exalted, had also endowed him with the knowledge of the languages of beasts and birds. The abode of this merchant was in the country; and fie had, in his house, an ass and a bull When the bull came to the place where the ass was tied, he found it swept and sprinkled; in his manger were sifted barley and sifted cut straw, and the ass was lying at his ease; his master being accustomed only to ride him occasionally, when business required, and soon to return: and it happened, one day, that the merchant overheard the bull saying to the ass, May thy food benefit thee! I am oppressed with fatigue, while thou art enjoying repose: thou eatest sifted barley, and men serve thee; and it is only occasionally that thy master rides thee, and returns; while I am continually employed in ploughing, and turning the mill--The ass answered, When thou goest out to the field, and they place the yoke upon thy neck, lie down, and do not rise again, even if they beat thee; or, if thou rise, lie down a second time; and when they take thee back, and place the beans before thee, eat them not, as though thou wert sick: abstain from eating and drinking a day or two days, or three; and so shalt thou find rest from trouble and labour.-Accordingly, when the driver came to the bull with his fodder, he ate scarcely any of it; and on the morrow, when the driver came again to take him to plough, he found him apparently quite infirm: so the merchant said, Take the ass, and make him draw the plough in his stead all the day. The man did so; and when the ass returned at the dose of the day, the bull thanked him for the favour he had conferred upon him by relieving him of his trouble on that day; but the ass returned him no answer, for he repented most grievously. On the next day, the ploughman came again, and took the ass, and ploughed with him till evening; and the ass returned with his neck flayed by the yoke, and reduced to an extreme state of weakness; and the bull looked upon him, and thanked and praised him. The ass exclaimed, I was living at ease, and nought but my meddling hath injured me! Then said he to the bull, Know that I am one who would give thee good advice: I heard our master say, If the bull rise not from his place, take him to the butcher, that he may kill him, and make anat'*of his skin:-I am therefore in fear for thee, and so I have given thee advice; and peace be on thee!-When the bull heard these words of the ass, he thanked him, and said, To-morrow I will go with alacrity:-so he ate the whole of his fodder, and even licked the manger.-Their master, meanwhile, was listening to their conversation.
On the following morning, the merchant and his wife went to the bull's crib, and sat down there; and the driver came, and took out the bull; and when the bull saw his master, he shook his tail, and showed his alacrity by sounds and actions, bounding about in such a manner that the merchant laughed until he fell backwards. His wife, in surprise, asked him, At what dost thou laugh? He answered, At a thing that I have heard and seen; but I cannot reveal it; for if I did, I should die. She said, Thou must inform me of the cause of thy laughter, even if thou die.-I cannot reveal it, said he: the fear of death prevents me.-Thou laughedst only at me, she said; and she ceased not to urge and importune him until he was quite overcome and distracted. So he called together his children, and sent for the Kadi and witnesses, that he might make his will, and reveal the secret to her, and die: for he loved her excessively, since she was the daughter of his paternal uncle, and the mother of his children, and he had lived with her to the age of a hundred and twenty years. Having assembled her family and his neighbours, he related to them his story, and told them that as soon as he revealed his secret he must die; upon which every one present said to her, We conjure thee by Allah that thou give up this affair, and let not thy husband, and the father of thy children, die. But she said, I will not desist until he tell me, though he die for it So they ceased to solicit her; and the merchant left them, and went to the stable to perform the ablution, and then to return, and tell them the secret, and die.
5Nat': a large round piece of leather which, spread upon the ground, serves as a table for dinner, etc.