Arabic Folklore The Queen & The Young Man Who Never Laughed

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There was a man, of those possessed of houses and riches, who had wealth and servants and slaves and other possessions; and he departed from the world to receive the mercy of God (whose name be exalted!), leaving a young son. And when the son grew up, he took to eating and drinking, and the hearing of instruments of music and songs, and was liberal and gave gifts, and expended the riches that his father had left to him until all the wealth had gone. He then betook himself to the sale of the male black slaves, and the female slaves, and other possessions, and expended all that he had of his father’s wealth and other things, and became so poor that he worked with the labourers. In this state he remained for a period of years.

While he was sitting one day beneath a wall, waiting to see who would hire him, lo! a man of comely countenance and apparel drew near to him and saluted him. So the youth said to him, “O uncle, hast thou known me before now?” The man answered him, “I have not known thee, O my son, at all; but I see the traces of affluence upon thee, though thou art in this condition.” The young man replied, “O uncle, what fate and destiny have ordained hath come to pass. But hast thou, O uncle, O comely-faced, any business in which to employ me?” The man said to him, “O my son, I desire to employ thee in an easy business.” The youth asked, “And what is it, O uncle?” And the man answered him, “I have with me ten sheykhs in one abode, and we have no one to perform our wants. Thou shalt receive from us, of food and clothing, what will suffice thee, and shalt serve us, and thou shalt receive of us thy portion of benefits and money.

Perhaps, also, God will restore to thee thine affluence by our means.” The youth therefore replied, “I hear and obey.” The sheykh then said to him, “I have a condition to impose upon thee.” “And what is thy condition, O uncle?” asked the youth. He answered him, “O my son, it is that thou keep our secret with respect to the things that thou shalt see us do; and when thou seest us weep, that thou ask us not respecting the cause of our weeping.” And the young man replied, “Well, O uncle.”

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