After this he came back again to the guest in the public room, and he went himself and brought food and set it before him and said: "Partake of supper." But he said: "I will not eat." "Why not," asked the Merchant. "Tell me your story," said the young man, "if you want me to partake of your supper. Unless you do, I will not touch it."

"Man," said the Merchant, "you are young. Don't throw away your life; it would be a pity. Let this matter be. If I were to tell you about it, I should immediately cut off your head." Then he brought before him all those he had already killed, saying: "These I told and slew them. Now it is for you to please yourself." "I have said good-bye to the world," said the young man, "say on."

"O Brother," said the Merchant, "this woman is my uncle's daughter and was my wife. I loved her very dearly and built this castle for her sake, that no evil should come near her. And I brought some black and white fish and put them in a tank for ornament. One day I went to the tank to bathe. I stripped at the side of the tank, and then I noticed that my wife appeared over the gateway and seemed overcome by modesty. 'O Cousin,' said I, 'what's the matter with you? You are my uncle's daughter and you are my lawful wife, why are you bashful?' 'O Cousin,' said she, 'those fish that are in the tank, some of them are males; it is quite improper that they should be admitted to a woman's privacy.' 'All right,' said I, and I went and threw fish-poison into the tank, and they died and the tank became fishless.

"Now I had two horses; they were very swift, and one I called 'Cloud' and the other 'Wind.' They were tied up in a stable and had a man who looked after them, and they were fed on milk, barley, sweets, and sugar-candy. I went unexpectedly into the stable, and saw that the horses were day by day getting thinner and thinner. 'What's the explanation of this?' thought I. 'I give them all this good food and I look after them well, and yet they are thin.' Then I turned to the groom: 'My lad, why are the horses thin? It is evident that you are not giving them their food, but are taking it away and selling it.' But he took his oath, saying: 'O Master, I never do such a thing as that. Just you stop riding them for ten days, and if I don't make them fat, then cut off my ears.' - 'But when have I ridden them?' 'These are your written orders for the horses,' replied the groom. I saw that he was telling the truth, and he went on: 'You ride Cloud one night and you ride Wind the next night.' 'All right,' said I. 'I am always riding them, but do you just look well after them.' To myself I said: 'This is the work of my wife. I must keep a watch on her and see where she goes to.'

"That night she started talking, and we drank wine together. Now every night my wife had been in the habit of putting a drug in the wine and giving it to me, and that night she put it in as usual, but I noticed what she was about, and poured the wine down inside my shirt-collar. Then I said: 'I'm getting very sleepy,' and we went and lay down to sleep. I pretended to be asleep, but I watched my wife, and saw her put on her accoutrements and take a sword in her hand, and she called out to me, meaning if I woke up to strike off my head, but if I was asleep to go off on her business.

"When she saw I was asleep, she put her hand in my pocket and took out my seal. Then she wrote an order to the groom, saying: 'Saddle the horse Wind,' and she sealed it and despatched it. The groom in due course saddled Wind and brought him round for her, and she mounted and rode off. I went quickly and saddled Cloud and followed closely on her tracks till we came to a hill. We went up it, and at the top there was a level hollow, and at the end of the hollow there was a cave, which was the abode of a Div, so hideous that no one could look at him. As soon as the woman arrived, she tied up her horse and went into the cave.

"Now the dog had come with me too. I thought: 'Perhaps she comes here through fear of the Div, and says to herself: 'If I don't go to him he will come at night and carry me away.' But as soon as she got inside she poured out some wine and gave it to the Div. He began to drink it, and they fell to kissing and playing with each other.

O Brother, then I could stand it no longer, and I shouted to him to leave off. On that the woman suddenly shrieked out: 'O Zingi, this is my husband, kill him! If you don't kill him, he will kill both of us.'

"They charged at me, and the Div and I flew at each other. There were we two and my wife. They threw me down on the ground and flung themselves on me, and were proceeding at once to cut off my head, but at this moment the dog came up and seized the Div by the leg and drove him off me. Then I promptly smote him on the back of the neck and his head flew off, and then I seized the woman and put her in chains. 'O shorn-locks!' I said to her, 'what wrong did I ever do to you? Did I not show you every favour and kindness? Did I not give you clothes and the best of food? A dog will be faithful because of the mouthful of bread his master gives him, then why should you be faithless? I see clearly that woman is faithless and a creature of the Devil.'

"Then I brought her and the dog back here, and for a long time they have spent their lives in the way you see. Now this matter must not pass your lips, so come here till I cut off your head."

"Very good," said the young man. "I am no better than the others you have killed. But it is dark now and there is no road out of your castle, and in any case I am a stranger and don't know my way about, so let me go up on to the roof and perform my ablutions for prayer. Let me first say my prayers, and then you may kill me."

Reflecting that there was no way out of the castle, the Merchant said: "Go." Then the young man went up on to the roof and struck a light, and held the Simurgh's feather in the flame. Instantly the Simurgh appeared, and he took his seat on her wings and she rose up into the air. When the Merchant saw that the young man to whom he had told his story had made his escape, he said: "It is no longer fitting that I should live," and he drew his sword and cut off his wife's head and then the dog's head, and then he drove a dagger into his own body and all three of them died.

Now the young man arrived at the foot of the tree, sitting on the Simurgh's wing, and she let him down and said: "Now go your way." So he set out for his own country and arrived there safely, and told the Merchant's story. "Very good," said the girl's father, so the young man married and carried his bride away.

XXXVI The Story Of The Merchant Of Isfahan And His 39

The story is ended.