The fuller gave not over sleeping till sunrise, when he awoke and finding himself in this plight, misdoubted of his affair and imagined that he was a Turk and abode putting one foot forward and drawing the other back. Then said he in himself, ’I will go to my dwelling, and if my wife know me, then am I Ahmed the fuller; but, if she know me not, I am a Turk.’ So he betook himself to his house; but when the artful baggage his wife saw him, she cried out in his face, saying, ’Whither away, O trooper? Wilt thou break into the house of Ahmed the fuller, and he a man of repute, having a brother-in-law a Turk, a man of high standing with the Sultan? An thou depart not, I will acquaint my husband and he will requite thee thy deed.’
When he heard her words, the dregs of the drunkenness wrought in him and he imagined that he was indeed a Turk. So he went out from her and putting his hand to his sleeve, found therein a scroll and gave it to one who read it to him. When he heard that which was written in the scroll, his mind was confirmed in the false supposition; but he said in himself, ’Maybe my wife seeketh to put a cheat on me; so I will go to my fellows the fullers; and if they know me not, then am I for sure Khemartekeni the Turk.’ So he betook himself to the fullers and when they espied him afar off, they thought that he was one of the Turks, who used to wash their clothes with them without payment and give them nothing.
Now they had complained of them aforetime to the Sultan, and he said, ‘If any of the Turks come to you, pelt them with stones.’ So, when they saw the fuller, they fell upon him with sticks and stones and pelted him; whereupon quoth he [in himself], ’Verily, I am a Turk and knew it not.’ Then he took of the money in his pocket and bought him victual [for the journey] and hired a hackney and set out for Ispahan, leaving his wife to the trooper. Nor,” added the vizier, “is this more extraordinary than the story of the merchant and the old woman and the king.”
The vizier’s story pleased King Shah Bekht and his heart clave to the story of the merchant and the old woman; so he bade Er Rehwan withdraw to his lodging, and he went away to his house and abode there the next day.
The Eight Night of the Month
When the evening evened, the king sat in his privy chamber and bade fetch the vizier, who presented himself before him, and the king required of him the promised story. So the vizier answered, “With all my heart. Know, O king, that
There was once in a city of Khorassan a family of affluence and distinction, and the townsfolk used to envy them for that which God had vouchsafed them. As time went on, their fortune ceased from them and they passed away, till there remained of them but one old woman. When she grew feeble and decrepit, the townsfolk succoured her not with aught, but put her forth of the city, saying, ’This old woman shall not harbour with us, for that we do her kindness and she requiteth us with evil.’ So she took shelter in a ruined place and strangers used to bestow alms upon her, and on this wise she abode a while of time.