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.
Accordingly, he went forth with me from the city, and. having taken me out from the chest, bound hand and foot, was about to bandage my eye, and kill me; whereupon I wept, and exclaimed, How many brothers have I taken as armour! and such they were j but to guard my enemies. I thought they would be as piercing arrows: and such they were; but to enter my heart!
The executioner, who had served my father in the same capacity, and to whom I had shewn kindnesses, said, on hearing these verses, O my master, what can I do, being a slave under command ?-but presently he added, Depart with thy life, and return not to this country, lest thou perish, and cause me to perish with thee. The poet saith,- Flee with thy life if thou fearest oppression, and leave the house to tell its builder's fate. Thou wilt find, for the land that thou quittest, another: but mo soul wilt thou find to replace thine own.
As soon as he had thus said, I kissed his hands, and believed not in my safety until I had fled from his presence. The loss of my eye appeared light to me when I considered my escape from death; and I journeyed to my uncle's capital, and, presenting myself before him, informed him of what had befallen my father, and of the manner in which I had lost my eye: upon which he wept bitterly, and said, Thou hast added to my trouble and my grief; for thy cousin hath been lost for some days, and I know not what hath happened to him, nor can any one give me information respecting him. Then he wept again, until he became insensible; and when he recovered, he said, O my son, the loss of thine eye is better than the loss of thy life.
Upon this I could no longer keep silence respecting his son, my cousin; so I informed him of all that happened to him; and on hearing this news he rejoiced exceedingly, and said, Shew me the tomb.-By Allah, O my uncle, I replied, I know not where it is; for I went afterwards several times to search for it, and could not recognize its place. We, however, went together to the burial-ground, and, looking to the right and left, I discovered it; and both I and my uncle rejoiced. I then entered the tomb with him, and when we had removed the earth, and lifted up the trap-door, we descended fifty steps, and, arriving at the bottom of the stairs, there issued forth upon us a smoke which blinded our eyes; whereupon my uncle pronounced those words which relieve from fear him who uttereth them,-There is no strength nor power but in God, the High, the Great!-After this, we proceeded, and found ourselves in a saloon, filled with flour and grain, and various eatables; and we saw there a curtain suspended over a couch, upon which my uncle looked, and found there his son and the woman who had descended with him, lying side by side, and converted into black charcoal, as if they had been thrown into a pit of fire. And when he beheld this spectacle, he spat in his son's face, and exclaimed, This is what thou deservest, O thou wretch! This is the punishment of the present world, and there remaineth the punishment of the other world, which will be more severe and lasting!-and he struck him with his shoes. Astonished at this action, and grieved for my cousin, seeing him and the damsel thus converted into charcoal, I said, By Allah, O my uncle, moderate the trouble of thy heart, for my mind is perplexed by that which hath happened to thy son, and by thinking how it hath come to pass that he and the damsel are converted into black charcoal. Dost thou not deem it enough for him to be in this state, that thou beatest him with thy shoes ?
O son of my brother, he replied, this my son was, from his early years, inflamed with love for his [foster-]sister, and I used to forbid him from entertaining this passion for her, and to say within myself. They are now children, but when they grow older a base act will be committed by them:-and, indeed, I heard that such had been the case, but I believed it not. I, however, reprimanded him severely, and said to him, Beware of so foul an action, which none before thee hath committed, nor will any commit after thee: otherwise we shall suffer disgrace and disparagement among the Kings until we die, and our history will spread abroad with the caravans: have a care for thyself that such an action proceed not from thee; for I should be incensed against thee, and kill thee. I then separated him from her, and her from him: but the vile woman loved him excessively; the Devil got possession of them both; and when my son saw that I had separated him, he secretly made this place beneath the earth, and, having conveyed hither the provisions which thou seest, took advantage of my inadvertence when I had gone out to hunt, and came hither: but the Truth (whose perfection be extolled, and whose name be exalted!) was jealously vigilant over them, and consumed them by fire; and the punishment of the world to come will be more severe and lasting.-He then wept, and I wept with him; and he said to me, Thou art my son in his stead.-I remained a while reflecting upon the world and its vicissitudes, upon the murder of my father by the Wezir, and his usurping his throne, and the loss of my eye, and the strange events which had happened to my cousin, and I wept again.
We then ascended, and, having. replaced the trap-door and the earth above it, and restored the tomb to its former state, returned to our abode; but scarcely had we seated ourselves when we heard the sounds of drums and trumpets, warriors galloped about, and the air was filled with dust raised by the horses' hoofs. Our minds were perplexed, not knowing what had happened, and the King, asking the news, was answered, The Wezir of thy brother hath slain him and his soldiers and guards, and come with his army to assault the city unawares ; and the inhabitants, being unable to withstand, have submitted to him:-whereupon I said within myself, If I fall into his hand, he will slay me.-Griefs overwhelmed me, and I thought of the calamities which had befallen my father and my mother, and knew not what to do; for if I appeared, the people of the city would know me, and the troops of my father would hasten to kill and destroy me. I knew no way of escape but to shave off my beard; so I shaved it, and, having changed my clothes, departed from the city, and came hither, to this abode of peace, in the hope that some person would introduce me to the Prince of the Faithful, the Khalifeh of the Lord of all creatures, that I might relate to him my story, and all that had befallen me. I arrived in this city this night; and as I stood perplexed, not knowing whither to direct my steps, I saw this mendicant, and saluted him, and said, I am a stranger. He replied, And I, too, am a stranger:-and while we were thus addressing each other, our companion, this third person, came up to us, and, saluting us, said, I am a stranger. We replied, And we, also, are strangers. So we walked on together, and darkness overtook us, and destiny directed us unto your abode:-This was the cause of the shaving of my beard, and of the loss of my eye.
The lady then said to him, Stroke thy head, and depart;- but he replied, I will not depart until I have heard the stories of the others. And they wondered at his tale; and the Khalifeh said to Ja'far, Verily I have never known the like of that which hath happened to this mendicant.
The second mendicant then advanced, and, having kissed the ground, said: