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.
On hearing this I rejoiced exceedingly, and we parted; and I returned to the Khan in which I lodged. I passed the whole night sleepless, and was scarcely sure that the daybreak had appeared when I rose and changed my clothes, and, having perfumed myself with essences and sweet scents, took with me fifty pieces of gold in a handkerchief, and walked from the Khan of Mesrur to Bab Zuweyleh,* where I mounted an ass, and said to its owner, Go with me to the Habbaniyeh. And in less than the twinkling of an eye he set off, and soon he stopped at a by-street called Darb El-Munakkiri, when I said to him, Enter the street, and inquire for the Ka'ah of the Nakib. He was absent but a little while, and, returning, said, Alight.-Walk on before me, said I, to the Ka'ah. And he went on until he had led me to the house; whereupon I said to him, To-morrow come to me hither to convey me back.- In the name of Allah, he replied: and I handed to him a quarter of a piece of gold, and he took it and departed. I then knocked at the door, and there came forth to me two young virgins in whom the forms of womanhood had just developed themselves, resembling two moons, and they said, Enter; for our mistress is expecting thee, and she hath not slept last night from her excessive love for thee. I entered an upper saloon with seven doors: around it were latticed windows looking upon a garden in which were fruits of every kind, and running streams and singing birds: it was plastered with imperial gypsum, in which a man might see his face reflected: its roof was ornamented with gilding, and surrounded by inscriptions in letters of gold upon a ground of ultramarine: it comprised a variety of beauties, and shone in the eyes of beholders: the pavement was of coloured marbles, having in the midst of it a fountain, with four snakes of red gold casting forth water from their mouths like pearls and jewels at the corners of the pool; and it was furnished with carpets of coloured silk, and mattresses.
Having entered, I seated myself; and scarcely had I done so when the lady approached me. She wore a crown set with pearls and jewels; her hands and feet were stained with henna; and her bosom was ornamented with gold. As soon as she beheld me she smiled in my face, and embraced me, saying, Is it true that thou hast come to me, or is this a dream ?-I am thy slave, I answered; and she said, Thou art welcome. Verily, from the time when I first saw thee, neither sleep hath been sweet to me nor hath food been pleasant!-In such case have / been, I replied;-and we sat down to converse; but I hung down my head towards the ground, in bashfulness; and not long had I thus remained when a repast was placed before me, consisting of the most exquisite dishes, as fricandoes and hashes and stuffed fowls. T ate with her until we were satisfied; when they brought the basin and ewer, and I washed my hands; after which we perfumed ourselves with rose-water infused with musk, and sat down again to converse; expressing to each other our mutual passion; and her love took such possession of me that all the wealth I possessed seemed worthless in comparison. In this manner we continued to enjoy ourselves until, night approaching, the female slaves brought supper and wine, a complete service; and we drank until midnight. Never in my life had I passed such a night. And when morning came, I arose, and, having thrown to her the handkerchief containing the pieces of gold, I took leave of her and went out; but as I did so she wept, and said, O my master, when shall I see again this lovely face? I answered her, I will be with thee at the commencement of the night. And when I went forth, I found the owner of the ass, who had brought me the day before, waiting for me at the door; and I mounted, and re< turned with him to the Khan of Mesrur, where I alighted^ and gave to him half a piece of gold, saying to him, Come hither at sunset. He replied, On the head be thy command.
'Or Zawileh, the southern gate of (the original) Cairo.
I entered the Khan, and ate my breakfast, and then went forth to collect the price of my stuffs; after which I returned. I had prepared for my wife a roasted lamb, and purchased some sweetmeat; and I now called the porter, described to him the house, and gave him his hire. Having done this, I occupied myself again with my business until sunset, when the owner of the ass came, and I took fifty pieces of gold, and put them into a handkerchief. Entering the house, I found that they had wiped the marble and polished the vessels of copper and brass, and filled the lamps and lighted tho candles, and dished the supper and strained the wine; and when my wife saw me, she threw her arms around my neck, and said, Thou hast made me desolate by thine absence! The tables were then placed before us, and we ate until we were satisfied, and the slave-girls took away the first table, and placed beforef us the wine 7 and we sat drinking, and eating of the dried fruits, and making merry, until midnight.
We then slept until morning, when I arose and handed her the fifty pieces of gold as before, and left her.
Thus I continued to do for a long time, until I passed the night and awoke possessing not a piece of silver nor one of gold; and I said within myself, This is of the work of the Devil 1 And I repeated these verses:
Poverty causeth the lustre of a man to grow dim, like the yellowness of the setting sun.
When absent, he is not remembered among mankind; and when present, he shareth not their pleasures.
In the market-streets he shunneth notice; and in desert places he poureth forth his tears.
By Allah) a man, among his own relations, when afflicted with poverty, fo as a stranger 1
With these reflections I walked forth into Beyn el-Kasreyn, and proceeded thence to Bab Zuweyleh, where I found the people crowding together, so that the gate was stopped up by their number; and, as destiny willed, I saw there a trooper, and, unintentionally pressing against him, my hand came in contact with his pocket, and I felt it, and found that it contained a purse; and I caught hold of the purse, and took it from his pocket But the trooper felt that his pocket was lightened, and, putting his hand into it, found nothing; upon which he looked aside at me, and raised his hand with the mace, and struck me upon my head. I fell to the ground, and the people surrounded us, and seized the bridle of the trooper's horse, saying, On account of the crowd dost thou strike this young man such a blow ? But he called out to them and said, This is a robber! On hearing this I feared. The people around me said, This is a comely young man, and hath taken nothing. While some, however, believed this, others disbelieved; and after many words, the people dragged me along, desiring to liberate me: but, as it was predestined, there came at this moment the Wali and other magistrates entering the gate, and, seeing the people surrounding me and the trooper, the Wali said, What is the news? The trooper answered, By Allah, O Emir, this is a robber: I had in my pocket a blue purse containing twenty pieces of gold; and he took it while I was pressed by the crowd.-Was any one with thee ? asked the Wali. The trooper answered, No. And the Wali called out to the chief of his servants, saying, Seize him and search him. So he seized me; and protection was withdrawn from me; and the Wali said to him, Strip him of all that is upon him. And when he did so, they found the purse in my clothes: and the Wali, taking it, counted the money, and found it to be twenty pieces of gold, as the trooper had said; whereupon he was enraged, and called out to his attendants, saying, Bring him forward. They, therefore, brought me before him, and he said to me, O young man, tell the truth. Didst thou steal this purse?-And I hung down my head towards the ground, saying within myself, If I answer that I did not steal it, it will be useless, for he hath produced it from my clothes; and if I say I stole it, I fall into trouble.