KING KISRA ANUSHIRWAN [FN#124] AND THE VILLAGE DAMSEL



The Just King, Kisrá Anúshirwán, one day rode forth to the chase and, in pursuit of a deer, became separated from his suite.  Presently, he caught sight of a hamlet near hand and being sore athirst, he made for it and presenting himself at the door of a house that lay by the wayside, asked for a draught of water.  So a damsel came out and looked at him; then, going back into the house, pressed the juice from a single sugar-cane into a bowl and mixed it with water; after which she strewed on the top some scented stuff, as it were dust, and carried it tot he King.  Thereupon he seeing in it what resembled dust, drank it, little by little, till he came to the end; when said he to her, “O damsel, the drink is good, and how sweet it had been but for this dust in it that troubleth it.”  Answered she, “O guest, I put in that powder for a purpose;” and he asked, “And why didst thou thus?”; so she replied, “I saw thee exceedingly thirsty and feared that thou wouldst drain the whole at one draught and that this would thee mischief; and but for this dust that troubled the drink so hadst thou done.”  The Just King wondered at her words, knowing that they came of her wit and good sense, and said to her, “From how many sugar canes didst thou express this draught?”  “One,” answered she; whereat Anushirwan marvelled and, calling for the register of the village taxes, saw that its assessment was but little and bethought him to increase it, on his return to his palace, saying in himself, “A village where they get this much juice out of one sugar-cane, why is it so lightly taxed?”  He then left the village and pursued his chase; and, 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 at a look, went in to fetch him water.  It was some time before she returned and Anushirwan wondered thereat and said to her, “Why hast thou tarried?” -- And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Three hundred and Ninetieth Night

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Anushirwan hurried the damsel and asked her, “Why hast thou tarried?” she answered, “Because a single sugar-cane gave not enough for thy need; so I pressed three; but they yielded not to much as one did before.”  Rejoined he, “What is the cause of that?”; and she replied, “The cause of it is that when the Sultan’s [FN#125] mind is changed against a folk, their prosperity ceaseth and their good waxeth less.”  So Anushirwan laughed and dismissed from his mind that which he had purposed against the villagers.  Moreover, he took the damsel to wife then and there, being pleased with her much wit and acuteness and the excellence of her speech.  And they tell another tale of the




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