When the king heard this, his wrath subsided and he said, “Carry him back to the prison till the morrow, so we may look into his affair.”
The Eighth Day.
Of envy and malice.
When it was the eighth day, the viziers all assembled and took counsel together and said, “How shall we do with this youth, who baffleth us with his much talk? Indeed, we fear lest he be saved and we fall [into perdition]. Wherefore, let us all go in to the king and unite our efforts to overcome him, ere he appear without guilt and come forth and get the better of us.” So they all went in to the king and prostrating themselves before him, said to him, “O king, have a care lest this youth beguile thee with his sorcery and bewitch thee with his craft. If thou heardest what we hear, thou wouldst not suffer him live, no, not one day. So pay thou no heed to his speech, for we are thy viziers, [who endeavour for] thy continuance, and if thou hearken not to our word, to whose word wilt thou hearken? See, we are ten viziers who testify against this youth that he is guilty and entered not the king’s sleeping-chamber but with evil intent, so he might put the king to shame and outrage his honour; and if the king slay him not, let him banish him his realm, so the tongue of the folk may desist from him.”
When the king heard his viziers’ words, he was exceeding wroth and bade bring the youth, and when he came in to the king, the viziers all cried out with one voice, saying, “O scant o’ grace, thinkest thou to save thyself from slaughter by craft and guile, that thou beguilest the king with thy talk and hopest pardon for the like of this great crime which thou hast committed?” Then the king bade fetch the headsman, so he might smite off his head; whereupon each of the viziers fell a-saying, “I will slay him;” and they sprang upon him. Quote the youth, “O king, consider and ponder these men’s eagerness. Is this of envy or no? They would fain make severance between thee and me, so there may fall to them what they shall plunder, as aforetime.” And the king said to him, “Consider their testimony against thee.” “O king,” answered the young man, “how shall they testify of that which they saw not? This is but envy and rancour; and thou, if thou slay me, thou wilt regret me, and I fear lest there betide thee of repentance that which betided Ilan Shah, by reason of the malice of his viziers.” “And what is his story?” asked Azadbekht. “O king,” replied the youth,
“There was once a merchant named Abou Temam, and he was a man of understanding and good breeding, quick-witted and truthful in all his affairs, and he had wealth galore. Now there was in his land an unjust king and a jealous, and Abou Temam feared for his wealth from this king and said, ’I will remove hence to another place where I shall not be in fear.’ So he made for the city of Ilan