Presently, up came the old woman, whereupon the young man sprang to his feet and laying hold of her, demanded of her the turban-cloth. Quoth she, “Know that I entered one of the houses and made the ablution and prayed in the place of prayer; and I forgot the turban-cloth there and went out. Now I know not the house in which I prayed, nor have I been directed[FN#59] thereto, and I go round about every day till the night, so haply I may light on it, for I know not its owner.” When the draper heard this, he said to the old woman, “Verily, Allah restoreth unto thee vhat which thou hast lost. Rejoice, for the turban-cloth is with me and in my house.” And he arose forthright and gave her the turban-cloth, as it was. She gave it to the young man, and the draper made his peace with his wife and gave her raiment and jewellery, [by way of peace-offering], till she was content and her heart was appeased. [FN#60]
When the king heard his chamberlain’s story, he was confounded and abashed and said to him, ’Abide on thy wonted service and till thy land, for that the lion entered it, but marred it not, and he will never more return thither.’[FN#61] Then he bestowed on him a dress of honour and made him a sumptuous present; and the man returned to his wife and people, rejoicing and glad, for that his heart was set at rest concerning his wife. Nor,” added the vizier, “O king of the age, is this rarer or more extraordinary than the story of the fair and lovely woman, endowed with amorous grace, with the foul-favoured man.”
When the king heard the vizier’s speech, he deemed it goodly and it pleased him; so he bade him go away to his house, and there he abode his day long.
The Twenty-fifth Night of the Month.
When the evening evened, the king summoned his vizier and bade him tell the [promised] story. So he said, “It is well. Know, O king, that
There was once a man of the Arabs who had a number of sons, and amongst them a boy, never was seen a fairer than he of favour nor a more accomplished in loveliness, no, nor a more perfect of wit. When he came to man’s estate, his father married him to the daughter of one of his uncles, and she excelled not in beauty, neither was she praiseworthy of attributes; wherefore she pleased not the youth, but he bore with her, for kinship’s sake.
One day, he went forth in quest of certain stray camels of his and fared on all his day and night till eventide, when he [came to an Arab encampment and] was fain to seek hospitality of one of the inhabitants. So he alighted at one of the tents of the camp and there came forth to him a man of short stature and loathly aspect, who saluted him and lodging him in a corner of the tent, sat entertaining him with talk, the goodliest that might be. When his food was dressed, the Arab’s wife brought it to the guest,