They relate that a certain king sat one day on the terrace-roof of his palace, solacing himself with the view, and presently, his wandering glances espied, on a house-top over against his palace, a woman seer never saw her like. So he turned to those present and asked them, "To whom belongeth yonder house?" when they answered, "To thy servant Fírúz, and that is his spouse." So he went down (and indeed passion had made him drunken as with wine, and he was deeply in love of her), and calling Firuz, said to him, "Take this letter and go with it to such a city and bring me the reply." Firuz took the letter and going to his house, laid it under his head and passed that night; and when the morning morrowed, he farewelled his wife and fared for that city, unknowing what his sovran purposed against him. As for the king, he arose in haste after the husband had set out and repairing to the house of Firuz in disguise, knocked at the entrance. Quoth Firuz's wife, "Who's at the door?" and quoth he, saying, "I am the king, thy husband's master." So she opened and he entered and sat down, saying, "We are come to visit thee." She cried, "I seek refuge [FN#294] from this visitation, for indeed I deem not well of it;" but the king said, "O desire of hearts, I am thy husband's master and methinks thou knowest me not." She replied, "Nay, I know thee, O my lord and master, and I wot thy purpose and whatso thou wantest 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 verses referring to thy case,
'Now will I leave your water way untrod; * For many treading that same way I see:
When fall the clustering flies upon the food, * I raise my hand whate'er my hunger be:
And lions eke avoid the water way * When dogs to lap at fountain side are free.' "
Then said she, "O king, comest thou to a watering place whereat thy dog hath drunk and wilt thou drink thereof?" The king was abashed at her and at her words and fared forth from her but forgot his sandal in the house. Such was his case; but as regards Firuz, when he went forth from his house, he sought the letter, but found it not in pouch; so he returned home. Now his return fell in with the king's going forth and he came upon the sandal in his house, whereat his wit was wildered and he knew that the king had not sent him away save for a device of his own. However, he kept silence and spake not a word, but, taking the letter, went on his mission and accomplished it and returned to the king, who gave him an hundred dinars. So Firuz betook himself to the bazar and bought what beseemeth women of goodly gifts and returning to his wife, saluted her and gave her all he had purchased, and said to her, "Arise and hie thee to thy father's home." Asked she, "Wherefore?" and he answered, "Verily, the king hath been bountiful to me and I would have thee make this public, so thy father may joy in that which he seeth upon thee." She rejoined "With love and gladness," and arising forthwith, 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 Firuz, 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 e'en plead." So they went to the king and found the Kazi sitting with him; whereupon the damsel's brother began, "Allah assist our lord the Kazi! I let this man on hire a flower-garden, high-walled, with a well well-conditioned and trees fruit-laden; but he beat down its walls and ruined its well and ate its fruits, and now he desireth to return it to me." The Kazi turned to Firuz and asked him, "What sayest thou, O youth?" when he answered, "Indeed, I delivered him the garden in better case than it was before." So the Kazi said to the brother, "Hath he delivered to thee the garden, as he avoucheth?" And the pleader replied, "No; but I desire to question him of the reason of his returning it." Quoth the Kazi, "What sayest thou, O youth?" And quoth Firuz, "I returned it willy nilly, because I entered it one day and saw the trail of the lion; so I feared lest an I entered it again, the lion should devour me. Wherefore that which I did, I did of reverence to him and for fear of him." Now the king was leaning back upon the cushion, and when he heard the young man's words, he comprehended the purport thereof; so he sat up and said, "Return to thy flower-garden in all ease of heart; for, by Allah, never saw I the like of thy garth nor stronger of guard than its walls over its trees!" So Firuz returned to his wife, and the Kazi 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 wife's brother.