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.
And I answered him, O my master, it is thine to command, O King of the age! And upon this he sent immediately and caused the Kadi and the witnesses to come, and married me forthwith to a woman of noble rank, of high lineage, possessing abundant wealth and fortune, of great origin, of surprising loveliness and beauty, owner of dwellings and possessions and buildings. Then he gave me a great, handsome house, standing alone, and he gave me servants and other dependents, and assigned me supplies and salaries. Thus I became in a state of the utmost ease and joy and happiness, forgetting all the fatigue and affliction and adversity that had happened to me; and I said within myself, When I set forth on my voyage to my country, I will take her with me. But every event that is predestined to happen to man must inevitably take place, and no one knoweth what will befall hi I loved her and she loved me with a great affection, concord existed between me and her, and we lived in a most delightful manner, and most comfortable abode, and ceased not to enjoy this state for a length of time.
Then God (whose name be exalted!) caused to die the wife of my neighbour, and he was a companion of mine. So I went in to him to console him for the loss of his wife, and beheld him in a most evil state, anxious, weary in soul and heart; and upon this I consoled him and comforted him, saying to him, Mourn not for thy wife. God will happily compensate thee by giving thee one better than she, and thy life will be long if it be the will of God, whose name be exalted I-But he wept violently, and said to me, O my companion, how can I marry another after her, or how can God compensate me by giving me a better than she, when but one day remaineth of my life ? So I replied, O my brother, return to thy reason, and do not announce thine own death; for thou art well, in prosperity and health. But he said to me, O my companion, by thy life, to-morrow thou wilt lose me, and never in thy life wilt thou see me again.-And how so ? said I. He answered me, This day they will bury my wife, and they will bury me with her in the sepulchre; for it is our custom in our country, when the wife dieth, to bury with her her husband alive; and when the husband dieth, they bury with him hi9 wife alive; that neither of them /nay enjoy life after the other. I therefore said to him, By Allah, this custom is exceedingly vile, and none can endure it!-And while we were thus conversing, lo, most of the people of the city came, and proceeded to console my companion for the loss of his wife and for himself. They began to prepare her body for burial according to their custom, brought a bier, and carried the woman in it, with all her apparel and ornaments and wealth, taking the husband with them; and they went forth with them to the outside of the city, and came to a place in the side of a mountain by the sea. They advanced to a spot there, and lifted up from it a great stone, and there appeared, beneath the place of this, a margin of stone, like the margin of a well. Into this they threw down that woman; and, lo, it was a great pit beneath the mountain. Then they brought the man, tied him beneath his bosom by a rope of fibres of the palm-tree, and let him down into the pit. They also let down to him a great jug of sweet water, and seven cakes of bread; and when they had let him down, he loosed himself from the rope, and they drew it up, and covered the mouth of the pit with that great stone as it was before, and went their ways, leaving my companion with his wife in the pit.-So I said within myself, By Allah, this death is more grievous than the first death! I then went to their King, and said to him, O my lord, how is it that ye bury the living with the dead in your country ? And he answered me, Know that this is our custom in our country: when the husband ilieth, we bury with him his wife; and when the wife 3ieth, we bury with her her husband alive; that we may not separate them in life nor in death; and this custom we have received from our forefathers. And I said, O King of the age, and in like manner the foreigner like me, when his wife dieth among you do ye with him as ye have done with this man? He answered me, Yes: we bury him with her, and do with him as thou hast seen. And when I heard these words from him, my gall-bladder almost burst by reason of the violence of my grief and mourning for myself; my mind was stupefied, and I became fearful lest my wife should die before me and they should bury me alive with her. Afterwards, however, I comforted myself, and said, Perhaps I shall die before her: and no one knoweth which will precede and which will follow. And I proceeded to beguile myself with occupations.
And but a short time had elapsed after that when my wife fell sick, and she remained so a few days, and died. So the greater number of the people assembled to console me, and to console her family for her death; and the King also came to console me for the loss of her, as was their custom. Then they brought for her a woman to wash her, and they washed her, and decked her with the richest of her apparel, and ornaments of gold, and necklaces and jewels. And when they had attired my wife, and put her in the bier, and carried her and gone with her to that mountain, and lifted up the stone from the mouth of the pit, and cast her into it, all my companions, and the family of my wife, advanced to bid me farewell and to console me for the loss of my life. I was crying out among them, I am a foreigner, and am unable to endure your custom! But they would not hear what I said, nor pay any regard to my words. They laid hold upon me and bound me by force, tying with me seven cakes of bread and a jug of sweet water, according to their custom, and let me down into that pit. And, lo, it was a great cavern beneath that mountain. They said to me, Loose thyself from the ropes. But I would not loose myself. So they threw the ropes down upon me, and covered the mouth of the pit with the great stone that was- upon it, and went their ways. I beheld in that cavern many dead bodies, and their smell was putrid and abominable; and I blamed myself for that which I had done, saying, By Allah, I deserve all that happeneth to me and befalleth me! I knew not night from day; and I sustained myself with little food, not eating until hunger almost killed me, nor drinking until my thirst became violent, fearing the exhaustion of the food and water that I had with me, I said, There is no strength nor power but in God, the High, the Great! What tempted me to marry in this city ? And every time that I say, I have escaped from a calamity, I fall into a calamity that is more mighty than the preceding one! By Allah, my dying this ' death is unfortunate! Would that I had been drowned in the sea, or had died upon the mountains! It had been better for me than this evil death!-And I continued in this manner, blaming myself. I laid myself down upon the bones of the dead, begging aid of God (whose name be exalted 1), and wished for death, but I found it not, by reason of the severity of my sufferings. Thus I remained until hunger burned my stomach, and thirst inflamed me; when I sat, and felt for the bread, and ate a little of it, and I swallowed after it a little water. Then I rose and stood up, and walked about the sides of the cavern, and I found that it was spacious sideways, and with vacant cavities; but upon its bottom were numerous dead bodies, and rotten bones, that had lain there from old times. And upon this I made for myself a place in the side of the cavern, remote from the fresh corpses, and there I slept.