The Sixteenth Night of the Month.
When the evening evened, the king sat in his sitting- chamber and sending for his vizier, bade him relate the story of the wealthy man who lost his wealth and his wit. So he said, “Know, O king, that
STORY OF THE IDIOT AND THE SHARPER.
There was once a man of fortune, who lost his wealth, and chagrin and melancholy got the mastery of him, so that he became an idiot and lost his wit. There abode with him of his wealth about a score of dinars and he used to beg alms of the folk, and that which they gave him he would gather together and lay to the dinars that were left him. Now there was in that town a vagabond, who made his living by sharping, and he knew that the idiot had somewhat of money; so he fell to spying upon him and gave not over watching him till he saw him put in an earthen pot that which he had with him of money and enter a deserted ruin, where he sat down, [as if] to make water, and dug a hole, in which he laid the pot and covering it up, strewed earth upon the place. Then he went away and the sharper came and taking what was in the pot, covered it up again, as it was.
Presently, the idiot returned, with somewhat to add to his hoard, but found it not; so he bethought him who had followed him and remembered that he had found the sharper aforesaid assiduous in sitting with him and questioning him. So he went in quest of him, assured that he had taken the pot, and gave not over looking for him till he espied him sitting; whereupon he ran to him and the sharper saw him. [Then the idiot stood within earshot] and muttered to himself and said, ’In the pot are threescore dinars and I have with me other score in such a place and to-day I will unite the whole in the pot.’ When the sharper heard him say this to himself, muttering and mumbling after his fashion, he repented him of having taken the dinars and said, ’He will presently return to the pot and find it empty; wherefore that[FN#264] for which I am on the look-out will escape me; and meseemeth I were best restore the dinars [to their place], so he may see them and leave all that is with him in the pot, and I can take the whole.’
Now he feared [to return to the pot then and there], lest the idiot should follow him to the place and find nothing and so his plan be marred. So he said to him, ’O Ajlan,[FN#265] I would have thee come to my lodging and eat bread with me.” So the idiot went with him to his lodging and he seated him there and going to the market, sold somewhat of his clothes and pawned somewhat from his house and bought dainty food. Then he betook himself to the ruin and replacing the money in the pot, buried it again; after which he returned to his lodging and gave the idiot to eat and drink, and they went out together. The sharper went away and hid himself, lest the idiot should see him, whilst the latter repaired to his hiding- place and took the pot