This is just one section from the ``Arabian Nights'' in the translation of
Sir Richard Francis Burton. Here is an
The Man Who Stole The Dish Of Gold Wherein The Dog Ate
SOME time erst there was a man who had accumulated debts, and his
case was straitened upon him so that he left his people and family and
went forth in distraction, and he ceased not wandering on at random
till he came after a time to a city tall of walls and firm of
foundations. He entered it in a state of despondency and despair,
harried by hunger and worn with the weariness of his way. As he passed
through one of the main streets, he saw a company of the great going
along, so he followed them till they reached a house like to a royal
palace. He entered with them, and they stayed not faring forward
till they came in presence of a person seated at the upper end of a
saloon, a man of the most dignified and majestic aspect, surrounded by
pages and eunuchs, as he were of the sons of the wazirs. When he saw
the visitors, he rose to greet them and received them with honor,
but the poor man aforesaid was confounded at his own boldness when
beholding the goodliness of the place and the crowd of servants and
attendants, so drawing back in perplexity and fear for his life, sat
down apart in a place afar off, where none should see him.
Now it chanced that whilst he was sitting, behold, in came a man
with four sporting dogs, whereon were various kinds of raw silk and
brocade and wearing round their necks collars of gold with chains of
silver, and tied up each dog in a place set privy for him. After which
he went out and presently returned with four dishes of gold, full of
rich meats, which he set severally before the dogs, one for each. Then
he went away and left them, whilst the poor man began to eye the
food for stress of hunger, and longed to go up to one of the dogs
and eat with him. But fear of them withheld him. Presently, one of the
dogs looked at him and Allah Almighty inspired the dog with a
knowledge of his case, so he drew back from the platter and signed
to the man, who came and ate till he was filled. Then he would have
withdrawn, but the dog again signed to him to take for himself the
dish and what food was left in it, and pushed it toward him with his
forepaw. So the man took the dish and leaving the house, went his way,
and none followed him.
Then he journeyed to another city, where he sold the dish and buying
with the price a stock in trade, returned to his own town. There he
sold his goods and paid his debts, and he throve and became affluent
and rose to perfect prosperity. He abode in his own land, but after
some years had passed he said to himself, "Needs must I repair to
the city of the owner of the dish, and carry him a fit and handsome
present and pay him the money value of that which his dog bestowed
upon me." So he took the price of the dish and a suitable gift, and
setting out, journeyed day and night till he came to that city. He
entered it and sought the place where the man lived, but he found
there naught save ruins moldering in row and croak of crow, and
house and home desolate and all conditions in changed state. At
this, his heart and soul were troubled, and he repeated the saying
of him who saith:
"Void are the private rooms of treasury.
As void were hearts of fear and piety.
Changed is the wady, nor are its gazelles
Those fawns, nor sand hills those I wont to see."
Now when the man saw these moldering ruins and witnessed what the
hand of time had manifestly done with the place, leaving but traces of
the substantial things that erewhiles had been, a little reflection
made it needless for him to inquire of the case, so he turned away.
Presently, seeing a wretched man, in a plight which made him shudder
and feel goose skin, and which would have moved the very rock to ruth,
he said to him: "Ho, thou! What have time and fortune done with the
lord of this place? Where are his lovely faces, his shining full moons
and splendid stars? And what is the cause of the ruin that is come
upon his abode, so that nothing save the walls thereof remain?"
Quoth the other: "He is the miserable thou seest mourning that which
hath left him naked. But knowest thou not the words of the Apostle
(whom Allah bless and keep!), wherein is a lesson to him who will
learn by it and a warning to whoso will be warned thereby and guided
in the right way, 'Verily it is the way of Allah Almighty to raise
up nothing of this world, except He cast it down again'?
"If thou question of the cause of this accident, indeed it is no
wonder, considering the chances and changes of Fortune. I was the lord
of this place and I builded it and founded it and owned it, and I
was the proud possessor of its full moons lucent and its
circumstance resplendent and its damsels radiant and its garniture
magnificent, but Time turned and did away from me wealth and
servants and took from me what it had lent (not given), and brought
upon me calamities which it held in store hidden. But there must needs
be some reason for this thy question, so tell it me and leave
Thereupon the man who had waxed wealthy, being sore concerned,
told him the whole story, and added: "I have brought thee a present,
such as souls desire, and the price of thy dish of gold which I
took; for it was the cause of my affluence after poverty, and of the
replenishment of my dwelling place after desolation, and of the
dispersion of my trouble and straitness." But the man shook his head
and weeping and groaning and complaining of his lot, answered: "Ho,
thou! Methinks thou art mad, for this is not the way of a man of
sense. How should a dog of mine make generous gift to thee of a dish
of gold and I meanly take back the price of what a dog gave? This were
indeed a strange thing! Were I in extremest unease and misery, by
Allah, I would not accept of thee aught- no, not the worth of a nail
paring! So return whence thou camest in health and safety."
Whereupon the merchant kissed his feet and taking leave of him,
returned whence he came, praising him and reciting this couplet:
"Men and dogs together are all gone by,
So peace be with all of them, dogs and men!"
And Allah is All-knowing!
Again men tell the tale of
The Ruined Man Who Became Rich Again Through A Dream.
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