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.
I slept, O my mistress, and forgot all that had befallen me; and when I awoke, I found her rubbing my feet; upon which I called to her, and we sat down again and conversed awhile; and she said to me, By Allah, I was straitened in my heart, living here alone, without any person to talk with me, five and twenty years. Praise be to God who hath sent thee to me.-I thanked her for her kind expressions; and love of her took possession of my heart, and my anxiety and grief fled away. We then sat down to drink together; and I remained by her side all the night, delighted with her company, for I had never seen her like in my whole life; and in the morning, when we were both full of joy, I said to her, Shall I take thee up from this subterranean place, and release thee from the Jinni? But she laughed, and replied, Be content, and hold thy peace; for, of every ten days, one day shall be for the 'Efrit, and nine for thee. I persisted, however, being overcome with passion; and said, I will this instant demolish this kubbeh upon which the inscription is engraved, and let the 'Efrit come, that I may slay him: for I am predestined to kill 'Efrits. She entreated me to refrain; but, paying no attention to her words, I kicked the kubbeh with violence; upon which she exclaimed, The 'Efrit hath arrived! Did I not caution thee against this? Verily thou hast brought a calamity upon me; but save thyself, and ascend by the way that thou earnest.
In the excess of my fear I forgot my sandals and my axe, and when I had ascended two steps, turning round .to look for them, I saw that the ground had opened, and there rose from it an 'Efrit of hideous aspect, who said, Wherefore is this disturbance with which thou hast alarmed me, and what misfortune hath befallen thee? She answered, No misfortune hath happened to me, excepting that my heart was contracted, and I desired to drink some wine to dilate it, and, rising to perform my purpose, I fell against the kubbeh.-Thou liest, vile woman, he exclaimed;-and, looking about the palace to the right and left, he saw the sandals and axe; and said to her, These are the property of none but a man. Who hath visited thee?-I have not seen them, she answered, until this instant: probably they caught lo thee.-This language, said he, is absurd, and will have no effect upon me, thou shameless woman!-and, so saying, he stripped her of her clothing, and tied her down, with her arms and legs extended, to four stakes, and began to beat her, urging her to confess what had happened.
For myself, being unable to endure her cries, I ascended the stairs, overpowered by fear, and, arriving at the top, replaced the trap-door as it was at first, and covered it over with earth. I repented bitterly of what I had done, and reflecting upon the lady and her beauty, and how this wretch was torturing her after she had lived with him five and twenty years, and that he tortured her only on my account, and reflecting also upon my father and his kingdom, and how I had been reduced to the condition of a wood-cutter, I repeated this verse:
When fortune bringeth thee affliction, console thyself by remembering that one day thou must see prosperity, and another day, difficulty.
Returning to my companion, the tailor, I found him awaiting my return as if he were placed in a pan upon burning coals. I passed last night, said he, with anxious heart on thy account, fearing for thee from some wild beast or other calamity. Praise be to God for thy safe return.-I thanked him for his tender concern for me, and entered my apartment ; and as I sat meditating upon that which had befallen me, and blaming myself for having kicked the kubbeh, my friend the tailor came in to me, and said, In the shop is a foreigner, who asks for thee, and he has thy axe and sandals; he came with them to the wood-cutters, and said to them, I went out at the time of the call of the Mu'eddin to morning-prayer, and stumbled upon these, and know not to whom they belong: can ye guide me to their owner?-The woodcutters, therefore, directed him to thee: he is sitting in my shop; so go out to him and thank him, and take thy axe and thy sandals.-On hearing these words, my countenance turned pale, and my whole state became changed; and while I was in this condition, the floor of my chamber clove asunder, and there rose from it the stranger, and lo, he was the 'Efrit; he had tortured the lady with the utmost cruelty; but she would confess nothing: so he took the axe and the sandals, and said to her, If I am Jarjaris, of the descendants of Iblis, I will bring the owner of this axe and these sandals. Accordingly, he came, with the pretence before mentioned, to the wood-cutters, and, having entered my chamber without granting me any delay, seized me, and soared with me through the air: he then descended, and dived into the earth, and brought me up into the place where I was before.
Here I beheld the lady stripped of her clothing, and with blood flowing from her sides; and tears trickled from my eyes. The 'Efrit then took hold of her, and said, Vile woman, this is thy lover:-whereupon she looked at me, and replied, I know him not, nor have I ever seen him until this instant. The 'Efrit said to her, With all this torture wilt thou not confess ? She answered, Never in my life have I seen him before, and it is not lawful in the sight of God that I should speak falsely against him.-Then, said he, if thou know him not, take this sword and strike off his head. She took the sword, and came to me, and stood over my head: but I made a sign to her with my eyebrow, while tears ran down my cheeks. She replied in a similar manner, Thou art he who hath done all this to me:-I made a sign to her, however, that this was a time for pardon, conveying my meaning in the manner thus described by the poet:
Our signal in love is the glance of our eyes; and every intelligent person understandeth the sign. Our eyebrows carry on an intercourse between us: we are silent; but love speaketh.
And when she understood me, she threw the sword from her hand, O my mistress, and the 'Efrit handed it to me, saying, Strike off her head, and I will liberate thee, and do thee no harm. I replied, Good:-and, quickly approaching her, raised my hand; but she made a sign as though she would say, I did no injury to thee:-whereupon my eyes poured with tears, and, throwing down the sword, I said, O mighty 'Efrit, and valiant hero, if a woman, deficient in sense and religion, seeth it not lawful to strike off my head, how is it lawful for me to do so to her, and especially when I have never seen her before in my life ? I will never do it, though I should drink the cup of death and destruction.- There is affection between you, said the 'Efrit, and, taking the sword, he struck off one of the hands of the lady; then, the other; after this, her right foot; and then, her left foot: thus with four blows he cut off her four extremities, while I looked on, expecting my own death. She then made a sign to me with her eye; and the 'Efrit, observing her, exclaimed, Now thou hast been guilty of incontinence with thine eye! -and, with a blow of his sword, struck off her head; after which, he turned towards me, and said, O man, it is allowed us by our law, if a wife be guilty of incontinence, to put her to death. This woman I carried off on her wedding-night, when she was twelve years of age, and she was acquainted with no man but me; and I used to pass one night with her in the course of every ten days in the garb of a foreigner; and when I discovered of a certainty that she had been unfaithful to me, I killed her: but as for thee, I am not convinced that thou hast wronged me with respect to. her; yet I must not leave thee unpunished: choose, therefore, what injury I shall do to thee.
Upon this, O my mistress, I rejoiced exceedingly, and, eager to obtain his pardon, I said to him, What shall I choose from thy hands?-Choose he answered, into what form I shall change thee; either the form of a dog, or that of an ass, or that of an ape. I replied, in my desire of forgiveness, Verily, if thou wilt pardon me, God will pardon thee in recompense for thy shewing mercy to a Muslim who hath done thee no injury:-and I humbled myself in the most abject manner, and said to him, Pardon me as the envied man did the envier.-And how was that? said he. I answered as follows: