Then he went on and presently there met him a third woodcutter and he said to him, ‘Pay what is due from thee.’ And he answered, ’I will pay thee a dirhem when I enter the city; or take of me four danics[FN#246] [now].’ Quoth the tither, ‘I will not do it,’ but the old man said to him, ’Take of him the four danics presently, for it is easy to take and hard to restore.’ ’By Allah,’ quoth the tither, ‘it is good!’ and he arose and went on, crying out, at the top of his voice and saying, ’I have no power to-day [to do evil].’ Then he put off his clothes and went forth wandering at a venture, repenting unto his Lord. Nor,” added the vizier, “is this story more extraordinary than that of the thief who believed the woman and sought refuge with God against falling in with her like, by reason of her cunning contrivance for herself.”
When the king heard this, he said in himself, “Since the tither repented, in consequence of the admonitions [of the woodcutter], it behoves that I spare this vizier, so I may hear the story of the thief and the woman.” And he bade Er Rehwan withdraw to his lodging.
The Eleventh Night of the Month.
When the evening came and the king sat in his privy chamber, he summoned the vizier and required of him the story of the thief and the woman. Quoth the vizier, “Know, O king, that
STORY OF THE THIEF AND THE WOMAN.
A certain thief was a [cunning] workman and used not to steal aught, till he had spent all that was with him; moreover, he stole not from his neighbours, neither companied with any of the thieves, lest some one should come to know him and his case get wind. On this wise he abode a great while, in flourishing case, and his secret was concealed, till God the Most High decreed that he broke in upon a poor man, deeming that he was rich. When he entered the house, he found nought, whereat he was wroth, and necessity prompted him to wake the man, who was asleep with his wife. So he aroused him and said to him, ‘Show me thy treasure.’
Now he had no treasure; but the thief believed him not and insisted upon him with threats and blows. When he saw that he got no profit of him, he said to him, ’Swear by the oath of divorce from thy wife[FN#247] [that thou hast nothing].’ So he swore and his wife said to him, ’Out on thee! Wilt thou divorce me? Is not the treasure buried in yonder chamber?’ Then she turned to the thief and conjured him to multiply blows upon her husband, till he should deliver to him the treasure, concerning which he had sworn falsely. So he drubbed him grievously, till he carried him to a certain chamber, wherein she signed to him that the treasure was and that he should take it up.