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.
Defer not a pleasure when it can be had; for fortune often destroyeth our plans.
Upon this I laughed from a heart laden with anger, and said to him, Do what I require, that I may go in the care of God, whose name be exalted! and do thou go to thy friends, for they are awaiting thine arrival. He replied, I desire noth-» ing but to introduce thee into the society of these people; for verily they are of the sons of that class among which is no impertinent person; and if thou didst but behold them once, thou wouldst leave all thine own companions.-May God, said I, give thee abundant joy with them, and I must bring them together here some day.-If that be thy wish, he rejoined, and thou wilt first attend the entertainment of thy friends this day, wait until I take this present with which thou hast honoured me, and place it before my friends, that they may eat and drink without waiting for me, and then I will return to thee, and go with thee to thy companions; for there is no false delicacy between me and my companions that should prevent my leaving them; so I will return to thee quickly, and repair with thee whithersoever thou goest,-Upoa *His I exclaimed, There is no strength nor power but in God, the High, the Great! Go thou to thy companions, and delight thy heart with them, and leave me to repair to mine, and to remain with them this day, for they are waiting my arrival.
But he said, I will not leave thee to go alone.-The place to which I am going, said I, none can enter except myself.-I suppose then, he rejoined, that thou hast an appointment today with some female: otherwise, thou wouldst take me with thee; for I am more deserving than all other men, and will assist thee to attain what thou desirest. I fear that thou art going to visit some strange woman, and that thy life will be lost; for in this city of Baghdad no one can do anything of this kind, especially on such a day as this; seeing that the Wali of Baghdad is a terrible, sharp sword.-Wo to thee, O wicked old man! I exclaimed, what are these words with which thou addressest me!-And upon this, he kept a long silence.
The time of prayer had now arrived, and the time of the Khutbeh" was near, when he had finished shaving my head: So I said to him, Go with this food and drink to thy friends, and I will wait for thee until thou return, and thou shalt accompany me:-and I continued my endeavours to deceive him; that he might go away; but he said to me, Verily thou art deceiving me, and wilt go alone, and precipitate thyself into a calamity from which there will be no escape for thee; by Allah! by Allah! then quit not this spot until I return to thee, and accompany thee, that I may know what will be the result of thine affair.-I replied, Well: prolong not thine absence from me. And he took the food and drink and other things which I had given him, but intrusted them to a porter to convey them to his abode, and concealed himself in one of the by-streets. I then immediately arose. The mueddins on the menarehs had chanted the Selam of Friday; and I put on my clothes, and went forth alone, and, arriving at the by-street, stopped at the door of the house where I had seen the damsel: and lo, the barber was behind me, and I knew it not. I found the door open, and entered; and immediately the master of the house returned from the prayers, and entered the saloon, and closed the door; and I said within myself, How did this devil discover me ?
11 Friday sermon*
Now it happened, just at this time, for the fulfilment of God's purpose to rend the veil of protection before me, that a female slave belonging to the master of the house committed some offence, in consequence of which he beat her, and she cried out; whereupon a male slave came in to him to liberate her; but he beat him also, and he likewise cried out; and the barber concluded that he was beating me; so he cried, and rent his clothes, and sprinkled dust upon his head, shrieking, and calling for assistance. He was surrounded by people, and said to them. My master hath been killed in the house of the Kadi! Then running to my house, crying out all the while, and with a crowd behind him, he gave the news to my family; and I knew not what he had done when they approached, crying, Alas for our master!- the barber all the while being before them, with his clothes rent, and a number of the people of the city with them. They continued shrieking, the barber shrieking at their head, and all of them exclaiming, Alas for our slain!-Thus they advanced to the house in which I was confined; and when the Kadi heard of this occurrence, the event troubled him, and he arose, and opened the door, and seeing a great crowd, he was confounded, and said, O people, what is the news ?
The servants replied, Thou hast killed our master.- O people, rejoined he, what hath your master done unto me that I should kill him; and wherefore do I see this barber before you?-Thou hast just now beaten him with mikra'ahs, said the barber; and I heard his cries.-What hath he done that I should kill him? repeated the Kadi. And whence, he added, came he; and whither would he go?
Be not an old man of malevolence, exclaimed the barber; for I know the story, and the reason of his entering thy house, and the truth of the whole affair; thy daughter is in love with him, and he is in love with her; and thou hast discovered that he had entered thy house, and hast ordered thy young men, and they have beaten him. By Allah, none shall decide between us and thee except the Khalifeh; or thou shalt bring forth to us our master that his family may take him; and oblige me not to enter and take him forth from you: haste then thyself to produce him.
Upon this, the Kadi was withheld from speaking, and became utterly abashed before the people: but presently he said to the barber, If thou speak truth, enter thyself, and bring him forth. So the barber advanced, and entered the house; and when I saw him do so, I sought for a way to escape; but I found no place of refuge except a large chest which I observed in the same apartment in which I then was; I therefore entered this, and shut down the lid, and held in my breath. Immediately after, the barber ran into the saloon, and, without looking in any other direction than that in which I had concealed myself, came thither: then turning his eyes to the right and left, and seeing nothing but the chest, he raised it upon his head; whereupon my reason forsook me. He quickly descended with it; and I, being now certain that he would not quit me, opened the chest, and threw myself upon the ground. My leg was "broken by the fall; and when I came to the door of the house, I found a multitude of people: I had never seen such a crowd as was there collected on that day; iso I began to scatter gold among them, to divert them; and while they were busied in picking it up, I hastened through the by-streets of Baghdad, followed by this barber; and wherever I entered, he entered after me, crying, They would have plunged me into affliction on account of my master! Praise be to God who aided me against them, and delivered my master from their hands! Thou con-tinuedst, O my master, to be excited by haste for the accomplishment of thine evil design* imtil thou broughtest upon thyself this event; and if God had not blessed thee with me, thou hadst not escaped from this calamity into which thou hast fallen; and they might have involved thee in a calamity from which thou wouldst never have escaped. Beg, therefore, of God, that I may live for thy sake, to liberate thee in future. By Allah, thou hast almost destroyed me by thine evil design, desiring to go alone; but we will not be angry with thee for thine ignorance, for thou art endowed with little sense and of a hasty disposition.-Art thou not satisfied, replied I, with that which thou hast done, but wilt thou run after me through the market-streets ?-And I desired for death to liberate me from him; but found it not; and in the excess of my rage I ran from him, and, entering a shop in the midst of the market, implored the protection of its owner; and he drove away the barber front me.