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.
As to Nur-ed-Din, he continued his journey until he entered El-Basrah, and went up to the palace of the Sultan, when he uttered a loud cry, whereupon the Sultan desired him to approach; and when he came into the presence of the King, he kissed the ground before him, and produced the letter, and handed it to him. And as soon as the Sultan saw the superscription in the handwriting of the Prince of the Faithful, he rose upon his feet, and, having kissed it three times, said, I, hear and pay obedience to God (whose name be exalted!) and' to the Prince of the Faithful. He then summoned before him the four Kadis,8 and the Emirs, and was about to divest himself of the regal office: but, lo, the Wezir El-Mo'in the son of Sawi was before him, and the Sultan gave him the letter of the Prince of the Faithful, and when he saw it, he rent it in pieces, and put it into his mouth, and chewed it, and threw it down. The Sultan, enraged, cried, Wo to thee! What hath induced thee to act thus?-He answered, This man hath had no interview with the Khalifeh nor with his Wezir; but is a young wretch, an artful devil, who, having met with a paper containing the handwriting of the Khalifeh, hath counterfeited it, and written what he desired: wherefore then shouldst thou abdicate the sovereignty, when the Khalifeh hath not sent to thee an envoy with a royal autographical mandate; for if this affair were true, he had sent with him a Chamberlain or a Wezir; but he came alone.-What then is to be done? said the Sultan. The Wezir answered, Send away this young man with me, and I will take charge of him, and despatch him in company with a Chamberlain to the city of Baghdad; and if his words be true, he will bring us a royal autographical mandate and diploma of investiture; and if not true, they will send him back to us with the Chamberlain, and I will take my revenge upon my offender.
ĽOf the four orthodox sects.
When the Sultan heard what the Wrezir said, it pleased him; and the Wezir took him away, and cried out to the pages, who threw down Nur-ed-Din, and beat him until he became insensible. He then ordered to put a chain upon his feet, and called to the jailer; and when he came, he kissed the ground before him. This jailer was named Kuteyt; and the Wezir said to him, O Kuteyt, I desire that thou take this person, and cast him into one of the subterranean cells which are in thy prison, and torture him night and day. The jailer replied, I hear and obey:-and he put Nur-ed-Din into the prison, and locked the door upon him; but after having done this, he gave orders to sweep a mastabah within the door, and furnished it with a prayer-carpet and a pillow, and seated Nur-ed-Din upon it, and loosed his chain, and treated him with kindness. The Wezir every day sent to him, commanding him to beat him; and the jailer pretended that he tortured him, while, on the contrary, he treated him with benignity.
Thus he continued to do for forty days; and on the forty-first day, there came a present from the Khalifeh, and when the Sultan saw it, it pleased him, and he conferred with the Wezirs upon the subject; but one said, Perhaps this present was designed for the new Sultan. Upon this, the Wezir El-Mo'in the son of Sawi remarked, It were proper to have slain him on his arrival:-and the Sultan exclaimed, Now thou hast reminded me of him, go down and bring him, and I will strike off his head. The Wezir replied, I hear and obey:-and arose, saying, I desire to proclaim throughout the city, He who wisheth to witness the decapitation of Nur-ed-Din 'Ali the son of El-Fadl the son of Khakan, let him come to the palace:-so that all the people may come to behold it, and I may gratify my heart, and mortify my enviers. The Sultan said, Do what thou wilt So the Wezir descended, full of joy and happiness, and went to the Wall, and ordered him to make this proclamation; and when the people heard the crier, they all grieved and wept, even the boys in the schools, and the tradesmen in their shops; and numbers of the people strove together to take for themselves places where they might behold the spectacle, while others repaired to the prison, to accompany him thence. The Wezir then went forth, attended by ten memluks, to the prison: and Kuteyt the jailer said to him, What dost thou desire, O our lord the Wezir?-Bring forth to me, said the Wezir, this young wretch. The jailer replied, He is in a most miserable state from the excessive beating that I have inflicted upon him. And he entered, and found him reciting some verses, commencing thus:
Who is there to aid me in my affliction? For my pain hath become intense, and my remedy is scarce procurable!
And the jailer pulled off from him his clean clothes, and, having clad him in two dirty garments, brought him out to the Wezir. Nur-ed-Din then looked at him, and saw that he was his enemy who had incessantly desired his destruction; and when he beheld him, he wept, and said to him, Art thou secure from misfortune? Hast thou not heard the saying of the poet ?
They made use of their power, and used it tyrannically; and soon it became as though it never had existed.
O Wezir, know that God (whose perfection be extolled, and whose name be exalted!) is the doer of whatsoever He willeth.-O 'Ali, replied the Wezir, wouldst thou frighten me by these words? I am now going to strike off thy head, in spite of the people of El-Basrah; and I will pay no regard to thy counsel; but I will rather attend to the saying of the poet:
Let fortune do whatever it willeth, and bear with cheerful mind the effects of fate.
How excellent also is the saying of another poet:
He who liveth after his enemy a single day, hath attained his desire.
The Wezir then ordered his pages to convey him on the back of a mule; whereupon they said to him (being distressed to obey), Suffer us to stone him and cut him in pieces, though our lives should be sacrificed in consequence. But he replied, Never do it. Have ye not heard what the poet hath said: