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.
Mv father was king of the city which was here situate: his name was Mahmud, and he was lord of the Black Islands, and of the four mountains. After a reign of seventy years, he died, and I succeeded to his throne; whereupon I took as my wife the daughter of my uncle; and she loved me excessively, so that when I absented myself from her, she would neither eat nor drink till she saw me again. She remained under my protection five years. After this, she went one day to the bath; and I had commanded the cook to prepare the supper, and entered this palace, and slept in my usual place. I had ordered two maids to fan me; and one of them sat at my head, and the other at my feet; but I was restless, because my wife was not with me; and I could not sleep. My eyes were closed, but my spirit was awake; and I heard the maid at my head say to her at my feet, 0 Mes'udeh, verily our lord is unfortunate in his youth, and what a pity is it that it should be passed with our depraved, wicked mistress!-Perdition to unfaithful wives! replied the other: but (added she) such a person as our lord, so en* dowed by nature, is not suited to this profligate woman, who passes every night absent from his bed.-Verily, rejoined she at my head, our lord is careless in not making any inquiry respecting her.-Wo to thee! said the other: hath our lord any knowledge of her conduct, or doth she leave him to his choice? Nay, on the contrary, she contriveth to defraud him by means of the cup of wine which he drinketh every night before he sleepeth, putting benj8 into it; in consequence of which he sleepeth so soundly that he knoweth not what happeneth, nor whither she goeth, nor what she doeth; for, after she hath given him the wine to drink, she dresseth herself, and goeth out from hirn, and is absent until daybreak, when she returneth to him, and burneth a perfume under his nose, upon which he awaketh from his sleep.
When I heard this conversation of the maids, the light became darkness before my face, and I was hardly conscious of the approach of night, when my cousin returned from the bath. The table was prepared, and we ate, and sat a while drinking our wine as usual. I then called for the wine which I was accustomed to drink before I lay down to sleep, and she handed to me the cup; but I turned away, and, pretending to drink it as I was wont to do, poured it into my bosom, and immediately lay down: upon which she said, Sleep on; I wisH that thou wouldst never wakt again! By Allah, I abhor thee, and abhor thy person, and my soul is weary of thy company!-She then arose, and attired herself in the most magnificent of her apparel, and, having perfumed herself, and slung on a sword, opened the door of the palace, and went out I got up immediately, and followed Her until she had quitted the palace, and passed through the streets of the city, and arrived at the city-gates, when she pronounced some words that I understood not; whereupon the locks fell off, and the gates opened, and she went out, I still following her, without her knowledge. Thence she proceeded to a space among the mounds, and arrived at a strong edifice) in which was a kubbeh* constructed of mud, with a door, which she entered. I then climbed upon the roof of the kubbeh, and, looking down upon her through an aperture, saw that she was visiting a black slave, whose large lips, one of which overlapped the other, gathered up the sand from the pebbly floor, while he lay, in a filthy and wet condition, upon a few stalks of sugar-cane.
8 Bhang, hemp.
She kissed the ground before this slave; and he raised his head towards her, and said, Wo to thee! Wherefore hast thou remained away until this hour? The other blacks have been here drinking wine, and each of them has gone away with his mistress; and I refused to drink on thy account.-She answered, O my master, and beloved of my heart, knowest thou not that I am married to my cousin, and that I abhor every man who resembles him, and hate myself while I am in his company? If I did not fear to displease thee, I would reduce the city to ruins, so that the owl and the raven should cry in it, and would transport its stones beyond Mount Kaf.10-Thou liest, thou infamous woman, replied the slave; and I swear by the generosity of the blacks (and if I speak not truth, may our valour be as the valour of the whites), that if thou loiter as thou hast now done till this hour, I will no longer give thee my company, nor approach thy person, thou faithless one!
Dost thou inconvenience me for the sake of thine own pleasure, thou filthy wretch, and vilest of the whites?- When I heard (continued the King) their words, and witnessed what passed between them, the world became dark before my face, and I knew not where I was.-My cousin still stood weeping, and abasing herself before him, and said, O my beloved, and treasure of my heart, there remaineth to me none but thee for whom I care, and if thou cast me off, alas for me! O my beloved! O light of mine eye!- Thus she continued to weep, and to humble herself before him, until he became pacified towards her; upon which she rejoiced, and arose, and, having disrobed herself, said to him, O my master, hast thou here anything that thy maid may eat? He answered, Uncover the dough-pan; it contains some cooked rats' bones: eat of them, and pick them; and take this earthen pot: thou wilt find in it some buzah11 to drink. So she arose, and ate and drank, and washed her hands; after which she lay down by the side of the slave, upon the stalks of sugar-cane, and covered herself with his tattered clothes and rags.
• a building with a dome.
10 The chain of mountains believed by Muslims to encircle the earth.
When I saw her do this, I became unconscious of my existence, and, descending from the roof of the kubbeh, entered, and took the sword from the side of my cousin, with the intention of killing them both. I struck the slave upon his neck, and thought that he was killed; but the blow, which I gave with the view of severing his head, only cut the gullet and skin and flesh; and when I thought that I had killed him, he uttered a loud snore, upon which my cousin started up, and, as soon as I had gone, took the sword, and returned it to its scabbard, and came back to the city and to the palace, and lay down again in my bed, in which she remained until the morning.