Then she charged her husband keep watch over the thief, till she should return, and repairing to his wife, acquainted her with his case and told her that her husband the thief had been taken and had compounded for his release, at the price of seven hundred dirhems, and named to her the token. So she gave her the money and she took it and returned to her house. By this time, the dawn had broken; so she let the thief go his way, and when he went out, she said to him, ’O my dear one, when shall I see thee come and take the treasure?’ ‘O indebted one,’ answered he, ’when thou needest other seven hundred dirhems, wherewithal to amend thy case and that of thy children and to discharge thy debts.’ And he went out, hardly believing in his deliverance from her. Nor,” added the vizier, “is this more extraordinary than the story of the three men and our Lord Jesus.”
And the king bade him depart to his own house.
The Twelfth Night of the Month.
When it was eventide, the king summoned the vizier and bade him tell the [promised] story, “Hearkening and obedience,” answered he. “Know, O king, that
STORY OF THE THREE MEN AND OUR LORD JESUS.
Three men once went out in quest of riches and came upon a block of gold, weighing a hundred pounds. When they saw it, they took it up on their shoulders and fared on with it, till they drew near a certain city, when one of them said, ’Let us sit in the mosque, whilst one of us goes and buys us what we may eat.” So they sat down in the mosque and one of them arose and entered the city. When he came therein, his soul prompted him to play his fellows false and get the gold for himself alone. So he bought food and poisoned it; but, when he returned to his comrades, they fell upon him and slew him, so they might enjoy the gold without him. Then they ate of the [poisoned] food and died, and the gold abode cast down over against them.
Presently, Jesus, son of Mary (on whom be peace!) passed by and seeing this, besought God the Most High for tidings of their case; so He told him what had betided them, whereat great was his wonderment and he related to his disciples what he had seen. Quoth one of them, ’O Spirit of God,[FN#251] nought resembleth this but my own story.’ ‘How so?’ asked Jesus, and the other said,
The disciple’s story.
’I was aforetime in such a city and hid a thousand dirhems in a monastery there. After awhile, I went thither and taking the money, bound it about my middle. [Then I set out to return] and when I came to the desert, the carrying of the money was burdensome to me. Presently, I espied a horseman pricking after me; so I [waited till he came up and] said to him, “O horseman, carry this money [for me] and earn reward and recompense [from God].” “Nay,” answered he; “I will not do it, for I should weary myself and weary my horse.” Then he went on, but, before he had gone far, he said