The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night/The Stolen Necklace
THE STOLEN NECKLACE.
There was once a devout woman, who had renounced the world and devoted herself to the service of God. Now she used to resort to a certain king’s palace, the dwellers wherein looked for a blessing by reason of her presence, and she was held of them in high honour. One day, she entered the palace, according to her wont, and sat down beside the queen. Presently the latter gave her a necklace, worth a thousand dinars, saying, “Keep this for me, whilst I go to the bath.” So she entered the bath, which was in the palace, and the pious woman laid the necklace on the prayer-carpet and stood up to pray. As she was thus engaged, there came a magpie, which snatched up the necklace, [unseen of her,] and carrying it off, hid it in a crevice in one of the palace-walls. When the queen came out of the bath, she sought the necklace of the recluse, and the latter searched for it, but found it not nor could light on any trace of it; so she said to the queen, “By Allah, O my daughter, none has been with me. When thou gavest me the necklace, I laid it on the prayer-carpet, and I know not if one of the servants saw it and took it without my heed, whilst I was engaged in prayer. God only knows what is come of it!” When the King heard what had happened, he bade his consort put the woman to the question by fire and beating; Night dxcvii.so they tortured her with all manner tortures, but could not bring her to confess or to accuse any. Then he commanded to lay her in irons and cast her into prison, and they did as he bade.
One day, after this, as the King sat in the inner court of his palace, with the queen by his sidewater flowing around him, he saw the magpie fly into a crevice of the wall and pull out the lost necklace, whereupon he cried out to a damsel who was with him, and she caught the bird and took the necklace from it. By this the King knew that the pious woman had been wronged and repented of that he had done with her. So he sent for her and fell to kissing her head and sought pardon of Moreover, he commanded great treasure to be given to her, but she would none of it. However, she forgave him and went away, vowing never again to enter any one’s house. So she betook herself to wandering in the mountains and valleys and worshipped God the Most High till she died.
Return to The Malice of Women.