FIROUZ AND HIS WIFE (175)

A certain king sat one day on the roof of his palace, diverting himself with looking about him, and presently, chancing to look aside, he espied, on [the roof of] a house over against his palace, a woman, never saw his eyes her like. So he turned to those who were present and said to them, "To whom belongeth yonder house?" "To thy servant Firouz," answered they, "and that is his wife." So he went down, (and indeed love had made him drunken and he was passionately enamoured of her), and calling Firouz, said to him, "Take this letter and go with it to such a city and bring me the answer." Firouz took the letter and going to his house, laid it under his head and passed that night. When the morning morrowed, he took leave of his wife and set out for the city in question, unknowing what the king purposed against him.

As for the king, he arose in haste and disguising himself, repaired to the house of Firouz and knocked at the door. Quoth Firouz's wife, "Who is at the door?" And he answered, saying, "I am the king, thy husband's master." So she opened the door and he entered and sat down, saying, "We are come to visit thee." Quoth she, "I seek refuge [with God] from this visitation, for indeed I deem not well thereof." And the king said, "O desire of hearts, I am thy husband's master and methinks thou knowest me not." "Nay," answered she, "I know thee, O my lord and master, and I know thy purpose and that which thou seekest and that thou art my husband's lord. I understand what thou wishest, and indeed the poet hath forestalled thee in his saying of the following verses, in reference to thy case:


          Your water I'll leave without drinking, for there Too many already have drunken whilere.
          When the flies light on food, from the platter my hand I raise, though my spirit should long for the fare;
          And whenas the dogs at a fountain have lapped, The lions to drink of the water forbear."

Then said she, "O king, comest thou to a [watering-]place whereat thy dog hath drunken and wilt thou drink thereof?" The king was abashed at her and at her words and went out from her, but forgot his sandal in the house.

As for Firouz, when he went forth from his house, he sought the letter, but found it not; so he returned home. Now his return fell in with the king's going forth and he found the latter's sandal in his house, whereat his wit was dazed and he knew that the king had not sent him away but for a purpose of his own. However, he held his peace and spoke not a word, but, taking the letter, went on his errand and accomplished it and returned to the king, who gave him a hundred dinars. So Firouz betook himself to the market and bought what beseemeth women of goodly gifts and returning to his wife, saluted her and gave her all that he had brought and said to her, "Arise [go] to thy father's house." "Wherefore?" asked she, and he said, "Verily, the king hath been bountiful to me and I would have thee show forth this, so thy father may rejoice in that which he seeth upon thee." "With all my heart," answered she and arising forthright, betook herself to the house of her father, who rejoiced in her coming and in that which he saw upon her; and she abode with him a month's space, and her husband made no mention of her.

Then came her brother to him and said, "O Firouz, an thou wilt not acquaint me with the reason of thine anger against thy wife, come and plead with us before the king." Quoth he, "If ye will have me plead with you, I will do so." So they went to the king and found the cadi sitting with him; whereupon quoth the damsel's brother, "God assist our lord the cadi! I let this man on hire a high-walled garden, with a well in good case and trees laden with fruit; but he beat down its walls and ruined its well and ate its fruits, and now he desireth to return it to me." The cadi turned to Firouz and said to him, "What sayst thou, O youth?" And he answered, "Indeed, I delivered him the garden in the goodliest of case." So the cadi said to the brother, "Hath he delivered thee the garden, as he saith?" And the other replied, "No; but I desire to question him of the reason of his returning it." Quoth the cadi, "What sayst thou, O youth?" And Firouz answered, "I returned it in my own despite, for that I entered it one day and saw the track of the lion; wherefore I feared lest, if I entered it again, the lion should devour me. So that which I did, I did of reverence to him and for fear of him."

Now the king was leaning back upon the cushion, when he heard the man's words, he knew the purport thereof; so he sat up and said, "Return to thy garden in all assurance and ease of heart; for, by Allah, never saw I the like of thy garden nor stouter of ward than its walls over its trees!" So Firouz returned to his wife, and the cadi knew not the truth of the affair, no, nor any of those who were in that assembly, save the king and the husband and the damsel's brother. (176)




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