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.
The King above mentioned had a son who was ardently fond of the chase; and he had a Wezir whom he charged to be always with his son wherever he went. One day the son went forth to hunt, and his father's Wezir was with him; and as they rode together, they saw a great wild beast; upon which the Wezir exclaimed to the Prince, Away after this wild beast! The King's son pursued it until he was out of the sight of his attendants, and the beast also escaped from before, his eyes in the desert; and while the Prince wandered in perplexity, not knowing whither to direct his course, he met in his way a damsel, who was weeping. He said to her, Who art thou?-and she answered, I am a daughter of one of the kings of India; I was in the desert, and slumber overtook me, and I fell from my horse in a state of insensibility, and being thus separated from my attendants, I lost my way. The Prince, on hearing this, pitied her forlorn state, and placed her behind him on his horse; and as they proceeded, they passed by a ruin, and the damsel said to him, O my master, I would alight here for a little while. The Prince therefore lifted her from his horse at this ruin; but she delayed so long to return, that he wondered wherefore she had loitered so, and entering after her, without her knowledge, perceived that she was a Ghuleh,* and heard her say, My children, I have brought you to-day a fat young man:-on which they exclaimed, Bring him in to us, O mother! that we may fill our stomachs with his flesh. When the Prince heard their words, he felt assured of destruction; the muscles of his sides quivered, and fear overcame him, and he retreated. The Ghuleh then came forth, and, seeing that he appeared alarmed and fearful, and that he was trembling, said to him, Wherefore dost thou fear? He answered, I have an enemy of whom I am in fear. The Ghuleh said, Thou assertest thyself to be the son of the King. He replied, Yes.-Then, said she, wherefore dost thou not give some money to thine enemyf and so conciliate him? He answered, He will not be appeased with money, nor with anything but life; and therefore do I fear him: I am an injured man. She then said to him, if thou be an injured man, as thou affirmest, beg aid of God against thine oppressor, and He will avert from thee his mischievous design, and that of every other person whom thou fearest. Upon this, therefore, the Prince raised his head towards heaven, and said, O Thou who answerest the distressed when he prayeth to Thee, and dispellest evil, assist me, and cause mine enemy to depart from me; for Thou art able to do whatsoever Thou wilt!-and the Ghuleh no sooner heard his prayer, than she departed from him. The Prince then returned to his father, and informed him of the conduct of the Wezir; upon which the King gave orders that the minister should be put to death.
* A female Ghul, that eats men.
And thou, O King, continued the Wezir of King Yunan, if thou trust in this sage, he will kill thee in the foulest manner. If thou continue to bestow favours upon him, and to make him thine intimate companion, he will plot thy destruction. Dost thou not see that he hath cured thee of the disease by external means, by a thing that thou heldest in thy hand? Therefore thou art not secure against his killing thee by a thing that thou shalt hold in the same manner.-King Yunan answered, Thou hast spoken truth: the case is as thou hast said, O faithful Wezir: it is probable that this sage came as a spy to accomplish my death; and if he cured me by a thing I held in my hand, he may destroy me by a thing that I may smell: what then, O Wezir, shall be done respecting him ? The Wezir answered, Send to him immediately, and desire him to come hither; and when he is come, strike off his head, and so shalt thou avert from thee his evil design, and be secure from him. Betray him before he betray thee.-The King said, Thou hast spoken right.
Immediately, therefore, he sent for the sage, who came, full of joy, not knowing what the Compassionate had decreed against him, and addressed the King with these words of the ooet.
If I fail any day to render thee due thanks, tell me for whom I haye composed my verse and prose*
Thou hast loaded me with favours unsolicited, bestowed without delay on thy part, or excuse.
How then should I abstain from praising thee as thou deservest, and lauding thee both with my heart and voice?
Nay, I will thank thee for thy benefits conferred upon me: they are light upon my tongue, though weighty to my back.
Knowest thou, said the King, wherefore I have summoned thee? The sage answered, None knoweth what is secret but God, whose name be exalted! Then said the King, I have summoned thee that I may take away thy life. The sage, in the utmost astonishment at this announcement, said, O King, wherefore wouldst thou kill me, and what offence hath been committed by me? The King answered, It hath been told me that thou art a spy, and that thou hast come hither to kill me: but I will prevent thee by killing thee first:-and so saying, he called out to the executioner, Strike off the head of this traitor, and relieve me from his wickedness.-Spare me, said the sage, and so may God spare thee; and destroy me not, lest God destroy thee.-And he repeated these words several times, like as I did, O 'Efrit; but thou wouldst not let me go, desiring to destroy me.
King Yunan then said to the sage Duban, I shall not be secure unless I kill thee; for thou curedst me by a thing that I held in my hand, and I have no security against thy killing me by a thing that I may smell, or by some other means.-O King, said the sage, is this my recompense from thee ? Dost thou return evil for good ?-The King answered, Thou must be slain without delay. When the sage, therefore, was convinced that the King intended to put him to death, and that his fate was inevitable, he lamented the benefit that he had done to the undeserving. The executioner then advanced, and bandaged his eyes, and, having drawn his sword, said, Give permission. Upon this the sage wept, and said again, Spare me, and so may God spare thee; and destroy me not, lest God destroy thee! Wouldst thou return me the recompense of the crocodile?-What, said the King, is the story of the crocodile? The sage answered, I cannot relate it while in this condition; but I conjure thee by Allah to spare me, and so may He spare thee. And he wept bitterly. Then one of the chief officers of the King arose, and said, O King, give up to me the blood of this sage; for we have not seen him commit any offence against thee; nor have we seen him do aught but cure thee of thy disease, which wearied the other physicians and sages. The King answered, Ye know not the reason wherefore I would kill the sage: it is this, that if I suffered him to live, I should myself inevitably perish; for he who cured me of the disease under which I suffered by a thing that I held in my hand, may kill me by a thing that I may smell; and I fear that he would do so, and would receive an appointment on account of it; seeing that it is probable he is a spy who hath eome hither to kill me; I must therefore kill him, and then shall I feel myself safe.-The sage then said again, Spare me, and so may God spare thee; and destroy me not, lest God destroy thee.