I find yet another variant of this story in my small MS. collection of Arabian and Persian anecdotes, translated from the French (I have not ascertained its source):

They relate that a lord of Basra, while walking one day in his garden, saw the wife of his gardener, who was very beautiful and virtuous. He gave a commission to his gardener which required him to leave his home. He then said to his wife "Go and shut all the doors." She went out and soon returned, saying, "I have shut all the doors except one, which I am unable to shut." The lord asked, "And where is that door?" She replied "That which is between you and the respect due to your Maker: there is no way of closing it." When the lord heard these words, he asked the woman's pardon, and became a better and a wiser man.

We have here a unique form of the wide-spread tale of "The Lion's Track," which, while it omits the husband's part, yet reflects the virtuous wife's rebuke of the enamoured sultan.


If Straparola's version is to be considered as an adaptation of Ser Giovanni's novella-- which I do not think very probable--it must be allowed to be an improvement on his model. In the Arabian story the singer is first concealed in a mat, next in the oven, and again in the mat, after which he escapes by clambering over the parapet of the druggist's roof to that of an adjoining house, and his subsequent adventures seem to be added from a different story. In Ser Giovanni's version the lover is first hid beneath a heap of half dried clothes, and next behind the street door, from which he escapes the instant the husband enters, and the latter is treated as a madman by the wife's relatives and the neighbours--an incident which has parallels in other tales of women's craft and its prototype, perhaps, in the story of the man who compiled a book of the Wiles of Woman, as told in "Syntipas," the Greek version of the Book of Sindibad. In Straparola the lover--as in the Arabian story--is concealed three times, first in a basket, then between two boardings, and lastly in a chest containing law papers; and the husband induces him to recount his adventures in presence of the lady's friends, which having concluded, the lover declares the story to be wholly fictitious: this is a much more agreeable ending than that of Giovanni's story, and, moreover, it bears a close analogy to the latter part of the Persian tale, where the lover exclaims he is right glad to find it all a dream. Straparola's version has another point of resemblance in the Persian story--so far as can be judged from Scott's abstract--and also in the Arabian story: the lover discovers the lady by chance, and is not advised to seek out some object of love, as in Giovanni; in the Arabian the singer is counselled by the druggist to go about and entertain wine parties. Story-comparers have too much cause to be dissatisfied with Jonathan Scott's translation of the "Bahár-i- Dánish"--a work avowedly derived from Indian sources--although it is far superior to Dow's garbled version. The abstracts of a number of the tales which Scott gives in an appendix, while of some use, are generally tantalising: some stories he has altogether omitted "because they are similar to tales already well known" (unfortunately the comparative study of popular fictions was hardly begun in his time), while of others bare outlines are furnished, because he considered them "unfit for general perusal." But his work, even as it is, has probably never been "generally" read, and he seems to have had somewhat vague notions of "propriety," to judge by his translations from the Arabic and Persian. A complete English rendering of the "Bahár-i-Dánish" would be welcomed by all interested in the history of fiction.


The trick played on the silly fuller of dressing him up as a Turkish soldier resembles that of the Three Deceitful Women who found a gold ring in the public bath, as related in the Persian story-book, "Shamsa ú Kuhkuha:"

When the wife of the superintendent of police was apprised that her turn had come, she revolved and meditated for some time what trick she was to play off on her lord, and after having come to a conclusion she said one evening to him, "To-morrow I wish that we should both enjoy ourselves at home without interruptions, and I mean to prepare some cakes." He replied, "Very well, my dear; I have also longed for such an occasion." The lady had a servant who was very obedient and always covered with the mantle of attachment to her. The next morning she called this youth and said to him, "I have long contemplated the hyacinth grove of thy symmetrical stature; and I know that thou travellest constancy and faithfully on the road of compliance with all my wishes, and that thou seekest to serve me. I have a little business which I wish thee to do for me." The servant answered, "I shall be happy to comply. Then the lady gave him a thousand diners and said, "Go to the convent which is in our vicinity; give this money to one of the kalandars there and say to him, 'A prisoner whom the Amír had surrendered to the police has escaped last night. He closely resembles thee, and as the superintendent of the police is unable to account to the Amír, he has sent a man to take thee instead of the escaped criminal. I have compassion for thee and mean to rescue thee. Take this sum of money; give me thy dress; and flee from the town; for if thou remainest in it till the morning thou wilt be subjected to torture and wilt lose thy life.'" The servant acted as he was bid, and brought the garments to his mistress. When it was morning she said to her husband, "I know you have long wished to eat sweetmeats, and I shall make some to-day." He answered, "Very well." His wife made all her preparations and commenced to bake the sweetmeats. He said to her, "Last night a theft was committed in a certain place, and I sat up late to extort confessions; and as I have spent a sleepless night, I feel tired and wish to repose a little." The lady replied, "Very well."

Accordingly the superintendent of the police reclined on the pillow of rest; and when the sweetmeat was ready his wife took a little and putting an opiate into it she handed it to him, saying, "How long will you sleep? To-day is a day of feasting and pleasure, not of sleep and laziness. Lift up your head and see whether I have made the sweets according to your taste." He raised his head, swallowed a piece of the hot cake and lay down again. The morsel was still in his throat when consciousness left and a deep sleep overwhelmed him. His wife immediately undressed him and put on him the garments of the kalandar. The servant shaved his head and made some tattoo marks on his body. When the night set in the lady called her servant and said, "Hyacinth, be kind enough to take the superintendent on thy back, and carry him to the convent instead of that kalandar, and if he wishes to return to the house in the morning, do not let him." The servant obeyed. Towards dawn the superintendent recovered his senses a little; but as the opiate had made his palate very bitter, he became extremely thirsty. He fancied that he was in his own house, and so he exclaimed, "Narcissus, bring water." The kalandars awoke from sleep, and after hearing several shouts of this kind, they concluded that he was under the influence of bang, and said, "Poor fellow! the narcissus is in the garden; this is the convent of sufferers, and there are green garments enough here. Arise and sober thyself, for the morning and harbinger of benefits as well as of the acquisition of the victuals for subsistence is approaching." When the superintendent heard these words he thought they were a dream, for he had not yet fully recovered his senses. He sat quietly, but was amazed on beholding the walls and ceiling of the convent: he got up, looked at the clothes in which he was dressed and at the marks tattooed on his body, and began to doubt whether he was awake or asleep. He washed his face, and perceived that the caravan of his mustachios had likewise departed from the plain of his countenance.

In this state of perplexity he went out of the convent and proceeded to his house. There his wife, with her male and female servants, was expecting his arrival. He approached the house and placed his hand on the knocker of the door, but was received by Hyacinth, who said, "Kalandar, whom seekest thou?" The superintendent rejoined, "I want to enter the house." Hyacinth continued, "Thou hast to-day evidently taken thy morning draught of bang earlier and more copiously than usual, since thou hast foolishly mistaken the road to thy convent. Depart! This is not a place in which vagabond kalandars are harboured. This is the palace of the superintendent of the police. and if the symurgh looks with incivility from the fastness of the west of Mount Káf at this place, the wings of its impertinence will at once become singed." The superintendent said, "What nonsense art thou speaking? Go out of my way, for I do not relish thy imbecile prattle." But when he wanted to enter, Hyacinth struck him with a bludgeon on the shoulder, which the superintendent returned with a box on the ear, and both began to wrestle together. At that moment the lady and her maid-servants rushed forth from the rear and assailed him with sticks and stones, shouting, "This kalandar wishes in plain daylight to force his way into the house of the superintendent. What a pity that the superintendent is sick, or else this crime would have to be expiated on the gallows!" In the meantime all the neighbours assembled, and on seeing the shameless kalandar's proceedings they cried, "Look at that impudent kalandar who wants forcibly to enter the house of the superintendent." Ultimately the crowd amounted to more than five hundred persons, and the gentleman was put to flight and pursued by all the little boys, who pelted him with stones till they expelled him from the town.

At the distance of three farsangs from the town there was a village where the superintendent concealed himself in the corner of a mosque. During the evenings he went from house to house and begged for food to sustain life, until his mustachios again grew and the tattooed scars gradually began to disappear. Whenever anyone inquired for the superintendent at his house, he was informed by the servants that the gentleman was sick. After one month had expired, the grief of separation and the misery of his condition had again driven him back to the city. He went to the convent because fear hindered him from going to the house. His wife happened one day to catch a glimpse of him from her window, and perceived him sitting in the same dress with a company of kalandars. She felt compassion for him, called the servant and said, "The superintendent has had enough of this!" She made a loaf of bread and put some opiate into it, and said, "When the kalandars are asleep, you must go and place this loaf under the pillow of the superintendent." The servant obeyed, and when the gentleman awoke in the middle of the night he was surprised to find the loaf. He fancied that when his companions had during the night returned from begging, they had placed it there, and so he ate some of it. During the same night the servant went there by the command of the lady, took his master on his back and carried him home. When it was morning, the lady took off the kalandar's clothes from her husband and dressed him in his own garments, and began to make sweetmeats as on the former occasion. After some time he began to move, and his wife exclaimed, "O superintendent, do not sleep so much. I have told you that we shall spend this day in joy and pleasure, and it was not fair of you to pass the time in this lazy way. Lift up your head and see what beautiful sweetmeats I have baked for you." When he opened his eyes, and saw himself dressed in his own clothes and at home, the rosebush of his amazement again brought forth the flowers of astonishment, and he said, "God be praised! What has happened to me?" He sat up, and exclaimed, "Wife, things have happened to me which I can scarcely describe." She replied, "From the uneasy motions which you have made in your sleep, it appears you must have had extraordinary dreams." "Dreams, forsooth," said he, "since the moment I lay down I have experienced the most strange adventures." "Certainly," rejoined the lady, "last night you have been eating food disagreeing with your constitution, and to-day the vapours of it have ascended into your brains, and have caused you all this distress." The superintendent said, "Yes last night we went to a party in the house of Serjeant Bahman, and there was roasted pillau, of which I ate somewhat more than usual, and the vapour of it has occasioned me all this trouble.'' [FN#597]

Strikingly similar to this story is the trick of the first lady on her husband in the "Fabliau des Trois Dames qui trouverent un Anel." Having made him drunk, she causes his head to be shaved, dresses him in the habit of a monk, and carries him, assisted by her lover, to the entrance of a convent. When he awakes and sees himself thus transformed he imagines that God by a miraculous exercise of His grace had called him to the monastic life. He presents himself before the abbot and requests to be received among the brethren. The lady hastens to the convent in well-feigned despair, and is exhorted to be resigned and to congratulate her husband on the saintly vow he has taken. "Many a good man, ' says the poet, "has been betrayed by woman and by her harlotry. This one became a monk in the abbey, where he abode a very long time. Wherefore, I counsel all people who hear this story told, that they ought not to trust in their wives, nor in their households, if they have not first proved that they are full of virtues. Many a man has been deceived by women and by their treachery. This one became monk against right, who would never have been such in his life, if his wife had not deceived him.'' [FN#598]

The second lady's trick in the fabliau is a very close parallel to the story in The Nights, vol. v. p. 96. [FN#599] She had for dinner on a Friday some salted and smoked eels, which her husband bade her cook, but there was no fire in the house. Under the pretext of going to have them cooked at a neighbour's fire she goes out and finds her lover, at whose house she remains a whole week. On the following Friday, at the hour of dinner, she enters a neighbour's house and asks leave to cook the eels, saying that her husband is angry with her for having no fire, and that she did not dare to go back, lest he should take off her head. As soon as the eels are cooked she carries them piping hot to her own house. The husband asks her where she has been for eight days, and commences to beat her. She cries for help and the neighbours come in, and amongst them the one at whose fire the eels had been cooked, who swears that the wife had only just left her house and ridicules the husband for his assertion that she had been away a whole week. The husband gets into a great rage and is locked up for a madman.

The device of the third lady seems a reflection of the "Elopement," but without the underground tunnel between the houses of the wife and the lover. The lady proposes to her lover to marry him, and he believes that she is only jesting, seeing that she is already married, but she assures him that she is quite in earnest, and even undertakes that her husband will consent. The lover is to come for her husband and take him to the house of Dan Eustace, where he has a fair niece, whom the lover is to pretend he wishes to espouse, if he will give her to him. The wife will go thither, and she will have done her business with Eustace before they arrive. Her husband cannot but believe that he has left her at home, and she will be so apparelled that he cannot recognise her. This plan is accordingly carried out. The lover asks the husband for the hand of his niece in marriage, to which he joyously consents, and without knowing it makes a present of his own wife. "All his life long the lover possessed her, because the husband gave and did not lend her; nor could he ever get her back."

Le Grand mentions that this fabliau is told at great length in the tales of the Sieur d'Ouville, tome iv. p. 255. In the "FacetiF BebelianF," p. 86, three women wager which of them will play the best trick on her husband. One causes him to believe he is a monk, and he goes and sings mass, the second husband believed himself to be dead, and allows himself to be carried to that mass on a bier; and the third sings in it quite naked. (There is a very similar story in Campbell's "Popular Tales of the West Highlands.") It is also found, says Le Grand, in the "Convivales Sermones," tome i. p. 200, in the "Delices de Verboquet," p. 166; and in the FacetiF of Lod. Domenichi, p. 172. In the "Comes pour Rire," p. 197, three women find a diamond, and the arbiter whom they select promises it, as in the fabliau, to her who concocts the best device for deceiving her husband, but their ruses are different.

End of Supplemental Nights Volume 2.

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