The Book Of The Thousand Nights And A Night, Vol 1 Page-161

The Book Of The Thousand Nights And A Night, Vol 1

A plain and literal translation of the arabian nights entertainments

The Eldest Lady’s Tale. Verily a strange tale is mine and ‘tis this:—Yon two black bitches are my eldest sisters by one mother and father; and these two others, she who beareth upon her the signs of stripes and the third our procuratrix are my sisters by another mother. When my father died, each took her share of the heritage and, after a while my mother also deceased, leaving me and my sisters german three thousand diners; so each daughter received her portion of a thousand diners and I the same, albe the youngest. In due course of time my sisters married with the usual festivities and lived with their husbands, who bought merchandise with their wives monies and set out on their travels together. Thus they threw me off. My brothers in law were absent with their wives five years, during which period they spent all the money they had and, becoming bankrupt, deserted my sisters in foreign parts amid stranger folk. After five years my eldest sister returned to me in beggar’s gear with her clothes in rags and tatters[FN#302] and a dirty old mantilla;[FN#303] and truly she was in the foulest and sorriest plight. At first sight I did not know my own sister; but presently I recognised her and said “What state is this?” “O our sister,” she replied, “Words cannot undo the done; and the reed of Destiny hath run through what Allah decreed.” Then I sent her to the bath and dressed her in a suit of mine own, and boiled for her a bouillon and brought her some good wine and said to her, “O my sister, thou art the eldest, who still standest to us in the stead of father and mother; and, as for the inheritance which came to me as to you twain, Allah hath blessed it and prospered it to me with increase; and my circumstances are easy, for I have made much money by spinning and cleaning silk; and I and you will share my wealth alike.” I entreated her with all kindliness and she abode with me a whole year, during which our thoughts and fancies were always full of our other sister Shortly after she too came home in yet fouler and sorrier plight than that of my eldest sister; and I dealt by her still more honorably than I had done by the first, and each of them had a share of my substance. After a time they said to me, ‘O our sister, we desire to marry again, for indeed we have not patience to drag on our days without husbands and to lead the lives of widows bewitched;” and I replied, “O eyes of me![FN#304] ye have hitherto seen scanty weal in wedlock, for now-a-days good men and true are become rarities and curiosities;