THE KING AND THE VIRTUOUS WIFE

A certain King once went forth in disguise, to look into the affairs of his subjects. Presently, he came to a great village and being athirst, stopped at the door of a house and asked for water. There came out to him a fair woman, with a pitcher of water, which she gave him, and he drank. When he looked at her, he was ravished with her and required her of love. Now she knew him; so she brought him into the house and making him sit down, brought out a book and said to him, 'Look in this book, whilst I order my affair and return to thee.' So he looked into the book, and behold, it treated of the Divine prohibition against adultery and of the punishments that God hath prepared for those that do it. When he read this, his flesh quaked and he repented to God the Most High: then he called the woman and giving her the book, went away. Now her husband was absent and when he returned, she told him what had passed, whereat he was confounded and said in himself, 'I fear lest the King's desire have fallen upon her.' And he dared not have to do with her after this.

After awhile, the wife told her kinsfolk of her husband's conduct, and they complained of him to the King, saying, 'May God advance the King! This man hired of us a piece of land, for tillage, and tilled it awhile; then left it fallow and tilled it not, neither forsook it, that we might let it to one who would till it. Indeed, harm is come to the field, and we fear its corruption, for that land, if it be not tilled' spoileth.' Quoth the King to the man, 'What hinders thee from tilling thy land?' 'May God advance the King!' answered he. 'It came to my knowledge that a lion entered the field, wherefore I stood in awe of him and dared not approach it, seeing that I know I cannot cope with the lion, and I stand in fear of him.' The King understood the parable and rejoined, saying, 'O fellow, the lion trampled not thy land, and it is good for tillage; so do thou till it and God prosper thee in it, for the lion hath done it no hurt.' Then he bade give the man and his wife a handsome present and sent them away.




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