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♪1øø1~The lady who was murdered♪

1001 NIGHTS

The lady who was murdered

"Sovereign of the Believers, i must acquaint your majesty that the murdered lady was my wife, and the daughter to this old man whom you see, who is my uncle on my father's side. She was only twelve years of age when he bestowed her on me in marriage, and eleven years have passed since that period. She has borne me three sons, who are still alive, and i must do her the justice to say, that she never gave me the least cause for displeasure. She was prudent and virtuous, and her greatest pleasure was to make me happy. In return i loved her with the truest affection, and anticipated all her wishes, instead of thwarting them."

"About two month since she fell sick, i treated her with all possible care, and spared no pains to effect her cure. At the expiration of a month she grew better, and wished to go to the bath. Before she went out of the house she said to me, 'Cousin,' for so she used familiarly to call me, 'i wish to eat some apples. I have had this desire for a long time, and i must confess that it has now increaše to such degree, that if i am not gratified i fear some misfortune will happen.' I replied, 'I will do all my power to content you.'"

"I immediately went into all markets and shops i could think of in quest of apples, but i could not to obtain one, although i offered to pay a sequin for each. I returned home much vexed at having taken so much trouble to no purpose. As for my wife, when she came back from the bath, and did not see any apples, she was so chagrined that she could not sleep all night. I rose early the next morning and went into all the gardens, but could not succeed in my purpose. I only met with an old gardener, who told me that, whatever pains i might take, i should not find any apples excepting in your majesty's gardens at Balsora."

"As i was passionately fond of my wife, and could not bear the thought of neglecting any means to satisfy her longing, i put on a dress of a traveller, and, having informed her of my intention. I set out for Balsora. I travelled with such despatch that i reached my home at the end of a fortnight. I brought with me three apples, which had cost me a sequin a piece. They were last in the garden, and the gardener would not sell them at a lower price. When i arrived i presented them to my wife, but her longing was then over, so she received in silence, and only placed them by her side. But her sickness continued, and i did not know what remedy to apply for her disorder."

"A few days after my return, as i sat in my shop in the public square, i saw a tall black slave enter, holding an apple in his hand, which i knew to be one of those i had brought from Balsora. I could have no doubt on the subject, for i knew that there were none in Bagdad, nor in any gardens in the environs. I called the slave, and said, 'My good slave, pray tell me where you got that apple.'
He replied laughing, 'It is a present from my mistress. I have been to see her today and found her unwell. I saw three apples by her side, and asked her where she had got them, and she told me that her foolish husband had been a fortnight's journey on purpose to get them for her. We breakfasted together, and when i came away i brought this with me.'"

"This inteligence enraged me beyond measure. I rose and then shut up my shop. I ran hastily home, and went into the chamber of my wife. I looked for the three apples, and seeing but two, i inquired what was become of the third. My wife, turning head towards the side where the apples were, and perceiving that there were only two, replied coldly, 'I do not know what is become of it, cousin.'
This answer convinced me that the slave had spoken truth. Transported by a fit of jealousy, i drew a knife which hung from my girdle and plunged it in the breast of my unhappy wife. I then cut off her head, and hewed her body into pieces. I tied up these pieces in a bundle, which concealed in a folding basket, and after sewing up the opening of the basked with some red worsted, i enclosed it in a chest, and as soon as it was night carried it on my shoulders to the Tigris, and threw it in."

"My two youngest children were in bed and asleep, and the third was from home. On my return i found him sitting at the door, weeping bitterly. I asked him reason of his tears. 'Father,' said he, 'this morning i took away from my mother, without her knowledge, one of the three apples you brought her. I kept it for some time, buw as i was playing with it in the street, with my little brothers, a great black slave who was passing snatched it out of my hand, and took it away with him. I ran after him, asking him for it. I told him that it belonged to my mother, who was ill, and you had been a forthnight's journey to procure it for her. All my enteaties were useless, for he would not return it. And as i followed him, crying, he returned back and beat me, and then ran off as fast as he could. Since then i have been walking about the city waiting for your return. I was staying here for you, my father to beg that you will not tell my mother, lest it should make her worse.'
And when he had finished speaking he wept anew."

"This story of my son's plunged me into the deepest affliction. I now saw the enormity of my crime, and repented, too late, my credolous belief of the story of the wicked slave. My uncle, who is now present, arrived at the moment. He came to see his daughter, but instead of finding her alive he learnt from my lips that she was no more, for i disguised nothing from him, and without waiting for his condemnation i denounced myself as the most criminal of men. Nevertheless, instead of pouring forth the reproaches i justly deserved, this good man mingled his tears with mine, and we wept together three whole days. He for the loss of a daughter he had always tenderly loved, i for that of a wife who was dear to me, and of whom i had miserably depreived myself by giving credit to the false statement of a lying slave."

"This, Sovereign of the Faithful, is the sincere confession which your majesty required of me. You know the extent of my crime, and i humbly supplicate you to give orders to my punishment, however rigorous it may be i shall not murmur at it, but esteem it too light."

"At this the caliph was in great astonishment, but this equitable prince, finding that the youth was more to be pitied than blamed, began to take his part. 'The action of this young man,' said he, 'is excusable in the sight of God, and may be pardoned by man. The wicked slave is the sole cause of this murder. He is the only one who ought to be punished, therefore,' continued he, addressing the vizier, 'i give you three days to find him, if you do not produce him within that time, your life shall be forfeit instead of this.'"

"The unhappy Giafar was again overhelmed with despair on hearing this new decree of the caliph, but as he did not dare to argue with his sovereign, he went out of his master's presence, and returned to his own house with his eyes bathed in tears, fully persuaded that he had only three days to live. He was so convinced of the impossibility of finding the slave that he did not even seek him. 'It is not believed,' cried he, 'that such a city as Bagdad, where there are vast numbers of black slaves, i should ever be able to discover the man the caliph requires. If Allah do not reveal him to me as he revealed the murderer, nothing can possibly save me.'"

"He passed the two first days in weeping with his family, who could not help murmuring at the rigour caliph. On the third day he prepared for death with firmnes, and like a minister who had ever acted with integrity, and had done nothing of which he was ashamed. At lenght and officer of the palace arrived, with the news that the caliph was much displeased at having heard from him about the black slave. 'I am ordered,' continued he, 'to bring you to the foot of the throne.'
The miserable vizier prepared to follow the officer, but as he was going, his youngest daughter was brought to him. She was five or six years old, and the women who had the care of her were bringing her to take leave of her father."

"As he was particulary fond of this daughter, he entreated the officer to allow him a few minutes to speak to her. He approached the child, and, taking her in his arms, kissed her several times. In kissing her he perceived she had something large and fragrant in her bosom. 'My dear little girl,' said he, 'what have you in your bosom?'
'My dear father,' replied she, 'its an apple, on which is written the name of the caliph, our lord and master. Rihan our slave sold it me for two sequins.'"

"At these words the grand vizier Giafar cried aloud with surprise and joy, and immediately took the apple from the child's bossom. He ordered the slave to be called and exclaimed, when the black was brought into his presence, 'Rasca! Where did you get this apple?'
'My lord,' replied the slave, 'I swear to you that i have not stolen it either from your garden or from that of the Commander of the Faithful. The other day i passed through a street where there were three or four children at play. On of them had this apple in his hand, and i took it away from him. The child ran after me, saying that the apple did not belong to him, but to his mother, who was ill, that his father, to gratify her longing, had gone to a great distance to procure it, and had brought her three. That this was one which he had taken without his mother's knowledge. He entreated me to return it, but i would not attend to him and brought the apple home, after which i sold it to the little lady, your daughter, for two sequins. This is all i have to say.'"

"Giafar could not help marvelling how the roguery of a slave had caused the death of an innocen woman, and nearly deprived himself of life. He took the slave with him, and when he reached the palace he related to the caliph what the slave had confessed, and the chance by which he discovered the crime"

"The astonishment of the caliph was beyond all bounds. He could not contain himself, and burst into violent fits of laughter. At last, having regained his composure, he said to the vizier, that since his slave had occasioned all this distress he merited an exemplary punishment. 'Commander of the Faithful,' replied the vizier, 'i cannot deny it, yet his crime is unpardonable. I know the history, far more surprising, of a vizier of Cairo, called Noureddin Ali, and of Bedreddin Hassan, of Balsora. As your majesy takes pleasure in hearing of such stories, i am ready to relate it to you, provided that if you find it more wonderful than the circumstance which occasions me to tell it, you will remit the punishment of my slave.'
'Let it be so,' returned the ...
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