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.
Know, O King of the age, that what hath happened to me is more wonderful than the events which have happened to all the others. Before I met the humpback, I was, early in the morning, at an entertainment given to certain tradesmen of my acquaintance, consisting of tailors and linen-drapers and carpenters and others; and when the sun had risen, the repast was brought for us to eat; and lo, the master of the house came in to us, accompanied by a strange and handsome young man, of the inhabitants of Baghdad. He was attired in clothes of the handsomest description, and was a most comely person, except that he was'lame; and as soon as he had entered and saluted us, we rose to him; but when he was about to seat himself, he observed among us a man who was a barber, whereupon he refused to sit down, and desired to depart from us. We and the master of the house, however, prevented him, and urged him to seat himself; and the host conjured him, saying, What is the reason of thy entering, and then immediately departing?
By Allah, O my master, replied he, offer me no opposition; for the cause of my departure is this barber, who is sitting with you. And when the host heard this, he was exceedingly surprised, and said, How is it that the heart of this young man, who is from Baghdad, is troubled by the presence of this barber? We then looked towards him, and said, Relate to us the cause of thy displeasure against this barber; and the young man replied, O company, a surprising adventure happened to me with this barber in Baghdad, my city; and he was the cause of my lameness, and of the breaking of my leg; and I have sworn that I will not sit in any place where he is present, nor dwell in any town where he resides: I quitted Baghdad and took up my abode in this city, and I will not pass the next night without departing from it.- Upon this, we said to him, We conjure thee, by Allah, to relate to us thy adventure with him.-And the countenance of the barber turned pale when he heard us make this request. The young man then said:
Know, O good people, that my father was one of the chief merchants of Baghdad; and God (whose name be exalted!) blessed him with no son but myself; and when I grew up, and had attained to manhood, my father was admitted to the mercy of God, leaving me wealth and servants and other dependants; whereupon I began to attire myself in clothes of the handsomest description, and to feed upon the most delicious meats. Now God (whose perfection be extolled!) made me to be a hater of women; and so I continued, until, one day, I was walking through the streets of Baghdad, when a party of them stopped my way: I therefore fled from them, and, entering a by-street which was not a thoroughfare, I reclined upon a mastabah at its further extremity. Here I had been seated but a short time when, lo, a window opposite the place where I sat was opened, and there looked out from it a damsel like the full moon, such as I had never in my life beheld. She had some flowers, which she was watering, beneath the window; and she looked to the right and left, and then shut the window, and disappeared from before me. Fire had been shot into my heart, and my mind was absorbed by her; my hatred of women was turned into love, and I continued sitting in the same place until sunset, in a state of distraction from the violence of my passion, when, lo, the Kadi of the city came riding along, with slaves before him and servants behind him, and alighted, and entered the house from which the damsel had looked out: so I knew that he must be her father. I then returned to my house, sorrowful and fell upon my bed, full of anxious thoughts; and my female slaves came in to me, and seated themselves around me, not knowing what was the matter with me; and I acquainted them not with my case, nor returned any answers to their questions; and my disorder increased. The neighbours, therefore, came to cheer me with their visits; and among those who visited me was an old woman, who, as soon as she saw me, discovered my state; whereupon she seated herself at my head, and, addressing me in a kind manner, said, O my son, tell me what hath happened to thee? So I related to her my story, and she said, O my son, this is the daughter of the Kadi of Baghdad, and she is kept in close confinement: the place where thou sawest her is her apartment, and her father occupies a large saloon below, leaving her alone; and often do I visit her: thou canst obtain an interview with her only through me: so brace up thy nerves. When I heard, therefore, what she said, I took courage, and fortified my heart; and my family rejoiced that day. I rose up firm in limb, and hoping for complete restoration; and the old woman departed; but she returned with her countenance changed, and said, O my son, ask not what she did when I told her of thy case; for she said, If thou abstain not, O ill-omened old woman, from this discourse, I will treat thee as thou deservest:-but I must go to her a second time.
On hearing this, my disorder increased: after some days, however, the old woman came again, and said, O my son, I desire of thee a reward for good tidings. My soul returned to my body at these words, and I replied, Thou shalt receive from me everything that thou canst wish. She then said, I went yesterday to the damsel, and when she beheld me with broken heart and weeping eye, she said to me, O my aunt, wherefore do I see thee with contracted heart?-and when she had thus said, I wept, and answered, O my daughter and mistress, I came to thee yesterday from visiting a youth who loveth thee, and he is at the point of death on thy account:-and, her heart being moved with compassion, she asked, Who is this youth of whom thou speakest ? I answered, He is my son, and the child that is dear to my soul: he saw ihee at the window some days ago, while thou wast watering thy flowers; and when he beheld thy face, he became distracted with love for thee: I informed him of the conversation that I had with thee the first time; upon which his disorder increased, and he took to his pillow: he is now dying, and there is no doubt of his fate.-And upon this, her countenance became pale and she said, Is this all on my account?-Yea, by Allah, I answered; and what dost thou order me to do?-Go to him, said she; convey to him my salutation, and tell him that my love is greater than his; and on Friday next, before the congregation prayers, let him come hither: I will give orders to open the door to him, and to bring him up to me, and I will have a short interview with him, and he shall return before my father comes back from the prayers.