THE KING'S DAUGHTER AND THE APE

There was once a King's daughter, whose heart was taken with love of a black slave: he did away her maidenhead, and she became passionately addicted to amorous dalliance, so that she could not endure from it a single hour and made moan of her case to one of her body women, who told her that no thing doth the deed of kind more abundantly than the ape. Now it chanced, one day, that an ape-leader passed under her lattice, with a great ape; so she unveiled her face and looking upon the ape, signed to him with her eyes, whereupon he broke his bonds and shackles and climbed up to the princess, who hid him in a place with her, and he abode, eating and drinking and cricketing, night and day. Her father heard of this and would have killed her; but she took the alarm and disguising herself in a [male] slave's habit, loaded a mule with gold and jewels and precious stuffs past count; then, taking horse with the ape, fled to Cairo, where she took up her abode in one of the houses without the city.

Now, every day, she used to buy meat of a young man, a butcher, but came not to him till after noonday, pale and disordered in face; so that he said in himself, 'There hangs some mystery by this slave.' For she used to visit him in her slave's habit. [Quoth the butcher,] So, one day, when she came to me as usual, I went out after her, unseen, and ceased not to follow her from place to place, so as she saw me not, till she came to her lodging, without the city, and I looked in upon her, through a cranny, and saw her light a fire and cook the meat, of which she ate her fill and gave the rest to an ape she had with her. Then she put off her slave's habit and donned the richest of women's apparel; and so I knew that she was a woman. After this she set on wine and drank and gave the ape to drink; and he served her nigh half a score times, till she swooned away, when he threw a silken coverlet over her and returned to his place.

Thereupon I went down into the midst of the place and the ape, becoming aware of me, would have torn me in pieces; but I made haste to pull out my knife and slit his paunch. The noise aroused the young lady, who awoke, terrified and trembling; and when she saw the ape in this plight, she gave such a shriek, that her soul well-nigh departed her body. Then she fell down in a swoon, and when she came to herself, she said to me, "What moved thee to do thus? By Allah, I conjure thee to send me after him!" But I spoke her fair and engaged to her that I would stand in the ape's stead, in the matter of much clicketing, till her trouble subsided and I took her to wife.

However, I fell short in this and could not endure to it; so I complained of her case to a certain old woman, who engaged to manage the affair and said to me, "Thou must bring me a cooking-pot full of virgin vinegar and a pound of pyrethrum." (68) So I brought her what she sought, and she laid the pyrethrum in the pot with the vinegar and set it on the fire, till it boiled briskly. Then she bade me serve the girl, and I served her, till she fainted away, when the old woman took her up, and she unknowing, and set her kaze to the mouth of the cooking-pot. The steam of the pot entered her poke and there fell from it somewhat, which I examined and behold, it was two worms, one black and the other yellow. Quoth the old woman, "The black was bred of the embraces of the negro and the yellow of those of the ape."

When my wife recovered from her swoon, she abode with me, in all delight and solace of life, and sought not copulation, as before, for God the Most High had done away from her this appetite; whereat I marvelled and acquainted her with the case. Moreover, [quoth he who tells the tale,] she took the old woman to be to her in the stead of her mother, and she and Werdan and his wife abode in joy and cheer, till there came to them the Destroyer of Delights and the Sunderer of Companies; and glory be to the Living One, who dieth not and in whose hand is the empire of the Seen and the Unseen!




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