Presently, there came in upon us a spunger, without leave, and we went on playing, whilst he played with us. Then quoth the Sultan to the Vizier, “Bring the spunger who cometh in to the folk, without leave or bidding, that we may enquire into his case. Then will I cut off his head.” So the headsman arose and dragged the spunger before the Sultan, who bade cut off his head. Now there was with them a sword, that would not cut curd;[FN#151] so the headsman smote him therewith and his head flew from his body. When we saw this, the wine fled from our heads and we became in the sorriest of plights. Then my friends took up the body and went out with it, that they might hide it, whilst I took the head and made for the river.
Now I was drunken and my clothes were drenched with the blood; and as I passed along the road, I met a thief. When he saw me, he knew me and said to me, “Harkye, such an one!” “Well?” answered I, and he said, “What is that thou hast with thee?” So I acquainted him with the case and he took the head from me. Then we went on till we came to the river, where he washed the head and considering it straitly, said, “By Allah, this is my brother, my father’s son. and he used to spunge upon the folk.” Then he threw the head into the river. As for me, I was like a dead man [for fear]; but he said to me, “Fear not neither grieve, for thou art quit of my brother’s blood.”
Then he took my clothes and washed them and dried them, and put them on me; after which he said to me, “Get thee gone to thy house.” So I returned to my house and he accompanied me, till I came thither, when he said to me, “May God not forsake thee! I am thy friend [such an one, who used to take of thee goods on credit,] and I am beholden to thee for kindness; but henceforward thou wilt never see me more."’
The company marvelled at the generosity of this man and his clemency[FN#152] and courtesy, and the Sultan said, ’Tell us another of thy stories.’[FN#153] ‘It is well,’ answered the officer, ’They avouch that
A merry Jest of A thief.
A thief of the thieves of the Arabs went [one night] to a certain man’s house, to steal from a heap of wheat there, and the people of the house surprised him. Now on the heap was a great copper measure, and the thief buried himself in the corn and covered his head with the measure, so that the folk found him not and went away; but, as they were going, behold, there came a great crack of wind forth of the corn. So they went up to the measure and [raising it], discovered the thief and laid hands on him. Quoth he, “I have eased you of the trouble of seeking me: for I purposed, [in letting wind], to direct you to my [hiding-]place; wherefore do ye ease me and have compassion on me, so may God have compassion on you!” So they let him go and harmed him not.
And for another story of the same kind,’ continued the officer,