KING KISRA ANOUSHIRWAN AND THE VILLAGE DAMSEL

The just King, Kisra Anoushirwan, (113) was hunting one day and became separated from his suite, in pursuit of an antelope. Presently, he caught sight of a hamlet, near at hand, and being sore athirst, made for the door of a house, that stood by the wayside, and asked for a draught of water. A damsel came out and looked at him; then, going back into the house, pressed the juice from a sugar-cane into a tankard and mixed it with water; after which she strewed on the top somewhat of perfume, as it were dust, and carried it to the King. He took it and seeing in it what resembled dust, drank it, little by little, till he came to the end. Then said he to her, 'O damsel, the drink is good and sweet, but for this dust in it, that troubles it.' 'O guest,' answered she, 'I put that in, of intent.' 'And why didst thou thus?' asked he; and she replied, 'I saw that thou wast exceeding thirsty and feared that thou wouldst swallow the whole at one draught and that this would do thee a mischief; and so hadst thou done, but for this dust that troubled the drink.' The King wondered at her wit and good sense and said to her, 'How many sugar-canes didst thou press for this draught?' 'One,' answered she; whereat the King marvelled and calling for the roll of the taxes of the village, saw that its assessment was but little and bethought him to increase it, on his return to his palace, saying in himself, 'Why is a village so lightly taxed, where they get this much juice out of one sugar-cane?'

Then he left the village and pursued his chase. As he came back at the end of the day, he passed alone by the same door and called again for drink; whereupon the same damsel came out and knowing him, went in to fetch him drink. It was some time before she returned and the King wondered at this and said to her, 'Why hast thou tarried?' Quoth she, 'Because one sugar-cane yielded not enough for thy need. So I pressed three; but they yielded not so much as did one aforetime.' 'What is the cause of that?' asked the King; and she answered, 'The cause of it is that the King's mind is changed.' Quoth he, 'How knewst thou that?' 'We hear from the wise,' replied she, 'that, when the King's mind is changed against a folk, their prosperity ceaseth and their good waxeth less.' Anoushirwan laughed and put away from his mind that which he had purposed against the people of the village. Moreover, he took the damsel to wife then and there, being pleased with her much wit and acuteness and the excellence of her speech.




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