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.
But he now felt certain, O 'Efrit, that the King would put him to death, and that there was no escape for him; so he said, O King, if my death is indispensable, grant me some respite, that I may return to my house, and acquit myself of my duties, and give directions to my family and neighbours to bury me, and dispose of my medical books; and among my books is one of the most especial value, which I offer as a present to thee, that thou mayest treasure it in thy library.
And what, said the King, is this book? He answered, It contains things not to be enumerated; and the smallest of the secret virtues that it possesses is this; that, when thou hast cut off my head, if thou open this book, and count three leaves, and then read three lines on the page to the left, the head will speak to thee, and answer whatever thou shalt ask. At this the King was excessively astonished, and shook with delight, and said to him, O Sage, when I have cut off thy head will it speak? He answered, Yes, O King; and this is a wonderful thing.
The King then sent him in the custody of guards; and the sage descended to his house, and settled all his affairs on that day; and on the following day he went up to the court: and the Emirs and Wezirs, and Chamberlains and Deputies, and all the great officers of the state, went thither also: and the court resembled a flower-garden. And when the sage had entered, he presented himself before the King, bearing an old book, and a small pot containing a powder: and he sat down, and said, Bring me a tray. So they brought him one; and he poured out the powder into it, and spread it. He then said, O King, take this book, and do nothing with it until thou hast cut off my head; and when thou hast done so, place it upon this tray, and order some one to press it down upon the powder; and when this is done, the blood will be stanched: then open the book. As soon as the sage had said this, the King gave orders to strike off his head; and it was done. The King then opened the book, and found that its leaves were stuck together; so he put his finger to his mouth, and moistened it with his spittle, and opened the first leaf, and the second, and the third; but the leaves were not opened without difficulty. He opened six leaves, and looked at them; but found upon them no writing. So he said, O Sage, there is nothing written in it. The h^ad of the. sage answered, Turn over more leaves.
The King did so; and in a little while, the poison penetrated into his system; for the book was poisoned; and the King fell back, and cried out, The poison hath penetrated into me!-and upon this, the head of the sage Duban repeated these verses:
They made use of their power, and used it tyrannically; and soon it became as though it never had existed. Had they acted equitably, they had experienced equity; but they oppressed; wherefore fortune oppressed them with calamities and trials.
Then did the case itself announce to them, This is the reward of your conduct, and fortune is blameless.
And when the head of the sage Duban had uttered these words, the King immediately fell down dead.
Now, O 'Efrit, continued the fisherman, know that if King Yunan had spared the sage, Duban, God had spared him; but he refused, and desired his destruction; therefore God destroyed him; and thou, O 'Efrit, if thou hadst spared me, God had spared thee, and I had spared thee; but thou desiredst my death; therefore will I put thee to death imprisoned in this bottle, and will throw thee here into the sea. The Marid. upon this, cried out, and said, I conjure thee by Allah, O fisherman, that thou do it not: spare me in generosity, and be not angry with me for what I did; but if I have done evil, do thou good, according to the proverb,- O thou benefactor of him who hath done evil, the action that he hatfi done is sufficient for him:-do not therefore as Umameh did to 'Atikeh.-And what, said the fisherman, was their case? The 'Efrit answered, This is not a time for telling stories, when I am in this prison; but when thou liberatest me, I will relate to thee their case. The* fisherman said, Thou must be thrown into the sea, and there shall be no way of escape for thee from it; for I endeavoured to propitiate thee, and humbled myself before thee, yet thou wouldest nothing but my destruction, though I had committed no offence to deserve it, and had done no evil to thee whatever, but only good, delivering thee from thy confinement; and when thou didst thus unto me, I perceived that thou wast radically corrupt: and I would have thee know, that my motive for throwing thee into this sea, is that I may acquaint with thy story every one that shall take thee out, and caution him against thee, that he may cast thee in again: thus shalt thou remain in this sea to the end of time, and experience varieties of torment.-The 'Efrit then said, Liberate me, for this is an opportunity for thee to display humanity; and I vow to thee that I will never do thee harm; but, on the contrary, will do thee a service that shall enrich thee for ever.
Upon this the fisherman accepted his covenant that he would not hurt him, but that he would do him good; and when he had bound him by oaths and vows, and made him swear by the Most Great Name of God, he opened to him; and the smoke ascended until it had all come forth, and then collected together, and became, as before, an 'Efrit of hideous form. The 'Efrit then kicked the bottle into the sea. When the fisherman saw him do this, he made sure of destruction, and said, This is no sign of good:-but afterwards he fortified his heart, and said, O 'Efrit, God, whose name be exalted, hath said, Perform the covenant, for the covenant shall be inquired into:*-and thou hast covenanted with me, and sworn that thou wilt not act treacherously towards me; therefore, if thou so act, Gofl will recompense thee; for He is jealous; He respiteth, but suffereth not to escape; and remember that I said to thee as said the sage Duban to King Yunan, Spare me, and so may God spare thee.
ĽKur*an, xrii. 36.