SHAHRAZAD AND SHAHRYAR.



As for King Shahryar, he wondered at Shahrazad with the utmost wonder and drew her near to his heart of his abounding affection for her; and she was magnified in his eyes and he said within himself, “By Allah, the like of this is not deserving of slaughter, for indeed the time favoureth us not with her equal.  By the Almighty, I have been reckless of mine affair, and had not the Lord overcome me with His ruth and put his one at my service so she might recount to me instances manifest and cases truthful and admonitions goodly and traits edifying, such as should restore me to the right road, I had come to ruin!  Wherefore to Allah be the praise here for and I beseech the Most High to make my end with her like that of the Wazir and Shah Bakht.”  Then sleep overcame the king and glory be unto Him who sleepeth not! [FN#562]  When it was the Nine hundred and thirtieth Night, Shahrazad said, “O king, there is present in my thought a tale which treateth of women’s trickery and wherein is a warning to whoso will be warned and an admonishment to whoso will be admonished and whoso hath sight and insight; but I fear lest the hearing of this belittle me with the liege-lord and lower my degree in his esteem; yet I hope that this will not be, because ‘tis a rare tale.  Women are indeed mischief-makers; their craft and their cunning may not be told nor may their wiles be known; while men enjoy their company and are not instant to uphold them in the right way, neither are they vigilant over them with all vigilance, but relish their society and take whatso is winsome and regard not that which is other than this.  Indeed, they are like unto the crooked rib, which an thou go about to straighten, thou distortest it, and which an thou persist in straightening, thou breakest it, [FN#563] so it behoveth the wise man to be silent concerning them.”  Thereupon quoth Dinarzad, “O sister mine, bring forth that which is with thee and that which is present to thy mind of the story concerning the guile of women and their wiles, and have no fear lest this lessen thee with the king; for that women are, like jewels, of all kinds and colours.  When a gem falleth into the hand of an expert, he keepeth it for himself and leaveth all beside it.  Eke he preferreth some of them over others, and in this he is like the potter, [FN#564] who filleth his liln with all the vessels he hath moulded and under them kindleth his fire.  When the making is done and he taketh out that which is in the kiln, he findeth no help for it but that he must break some of them, whilst others are what the folk need and whereof they make use, while yet others there are which return to be as they were.  So fear thou not nor deem it a grave matter to adduce that which thou knowest of the craft of women, for that in this is profit for all folk.”  Then said Shahrazad, “Then relate, O king (but Allah alone knoweth the secret things) the Tale of–



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End of Volume 11