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The Woman Who Humored Her Lover at Her Husband’s Expense

There was a man in Cairo and he had a wife who ever boasted of her gentle blood and her obedience and her docility and her fear of the Lord. Now she happened to have in the house a pair of fatted ganders and she also had a lover whom she kept in the background. Presently the man came to visit her and seeing beside her the plump birds felt his appetite sharpened by them, so he said to her, "O Such-an-one, needs must thou let cook these two geese with the best of stuffing so that we may make merry over them, for that my mind is bent upon eating goose flesh." Quoth she, "'Tis right easy; and by thy life, O So-and-so, I will slaughter them and stuff them and thou shalt take them and carry them home with thee and eat them, nor shall this pimp my husband taste of them or even smell them." "How wilt thou do?" asked he, and she answered, "I will serve him a sleight shall enter into his brains and then give them to thee, for none is dear to me as thyself, O thou light of mine eyes; whereas this pander my mate shall not touch a bittock thereof." Upon this agreement the lover went from her and when her husband returned at sunset-tide she said to him, "Ho Man, how canst thou ever call thyself a man when thou never invitest anybody to thy house and no day of the days thou sayest me, 'I have a guest coming to us,' even as another would do; and folk surely will talk of thee and declare thou art a miser and unknowing the ways of generosity." "O Woman," said he, "this were for me an easy business and to-morrow morning (Inshallah!) I will buy for thee flesh and rice and thou shalt let cook for us or dinner or supper, whereto I will invite one of my intimates." Quoth she to him, "Nay, O Man; rather do thou buy for me a pound of mince-meat; then slaughter the two geese and I will stuff them and fry them, for that nothing is more savoury to set before guests." Said he, "Upon my head and mine eye be it!"and as soon as it was dawn he slaughtered the geese and went forth and bought a Rotolo of meat which he minced and took all was required of rice and hot spices and what not else. These he carried home to his wife and said to her, "Do thou finish off thy cooking before midday when I will bring my guests," and presently he fared forth from her. Then she arose and cleaned out the geese and stuffed them with minced meat and a portion of rice and almonds and raisins; and fried them until they were well cooked; after which she sent for her lover and as soon as he came she and he made merry together, and she gave him the geese which he took up and left her.--And Shahrazad was surprised by the dawn of day and fell silent and ceased to say her permitted say. Then quoth her sister Dunyazad, "How sweet is thy story, O sister mine, and how enjoyable and delectable!" Quoth she, "And where is this compared with that I would relate to you on the coming night and the King suffer me to survive?"

Shahrazad and Dunyazad by Gustaf Thomée. The two sisters sit holding hands, the elder behind the younger. Both are sumptuously dressed and wearing jewels; Shahrazad wears a turban.Shahrazad and Dunyazad by Gustaf Thomée

Now when it was the next night, Dunyazad said to her, "Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou be other than sleepy, finish for us thy tale that we may cut short the watching of this our latter night." She replied, "With love and good will!" It hath reached me, O auspicious King, the director, the right-guiding, lord of the rede which is benefiting and of deeds fair-seeming and worthy celebrating, that the woman gave to her lover the geese which she had fried and he took the twain and fared away with them. Now when it was noon suddenly her husband came home accompanied by a friend and knocked at the door; so she arose and opened to him and admitted them. Then she asked, "And hast thou brought only one man? hie thee forth and fetch at least two or better still three." "'Tis well," said he and went off to do her bidding. Then the woman accosted the guest who came first and cried, "Oh the pity of it! By Allah thou art lost and the Lá Haul of Allah is upon thee and doubtless thou hast no children." Now when the man heard these words he exclaimed, "Why, O Woman?" for indeed fear and affright had sunk deep into his heart. She rejoined, "Verily my husband hath not brought thee hither save with the intention of cutting off thy precious stones the honours of thy yard and of gelding thee to a Castrato; and heigho and alas for thee whether thou die or whether thou live, and Oh the pity of it for thee!"

Now when the man heard this speech, he arose in haste and hurry and rushed out by the door, when behold, the husband came bringing with him two of his familiars. So the wife met him at the entrance and said to him, "O Man, O miserablest of men, O thou disappointed, O thou dissatisfied, thou hast brought to me a fellow which was a thief, a ne'er-do-well like unto thyself." "How so?" asked he, and she answered, "The man stole the two geese and stole away." Thereupon the husband went out and catching sight of the guest running off shouted to him, "Come back! Come back! even although thou bring only one with thee and take the other." Cried the man in reply, "An thou catch me do thou take thee the two. But the house-master meant the two geese whilst the man who was running away thought only of himself, saying in his mind, "This one speaketh of my ballocks, meaning that he will take only one of my stones and leave me the other." So he ceased not running and the other followed after him, but being unable to catch him he returned to his guests and served them with somewhat of bread and so forth, whilst the woman kept blaming him and nagging about the matter of the geese which she said had been carried off, but which had been given by her to her lover. The husband enjoined her to silence; however she would not hold her peace and on this wise he was balked of the meal to feed his wife's friend.

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