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From 1001 Arabian Nights

There was once, my lord and crown upon my head, a man in a certain city, who was a fisherman by trade and a hashish-eater by occupation. When he had earned his daily wage, he would spend a little of it on food and the rest on a sufficiency of that hilarious herb. He took his hashish three times a day: once in the morning on an empty stomach, once at noon, and once at sundown. Thus he was never lacking in extravagent gaity. Yet he worked hard enough at his fishing, though sometimes in a very extravagent fashion.

On a certain evening, for instance, when he had taken a larger dose of his favorite drug than usual, he lit a tallow candle and sat in front of it, asking himself eager questions and answering with obliging wit. After some hours of this delight, he became aware of the cool silence of the night about him and the clear light of a full moon abouve his head, and exclaimed affably to himself: "Dear friend, the silent streets and the cool of the moon invite us to a walk. Let us go forth, while all the world is in bed and none may mar our solitary exaltation." Speaking in this way to himself, the fisherman left his house and began to walk towards the river; but, as he went, he saw the light of the full moon lying in the roadway and took it to be the water of the river. "My dear old friend the fisherman," he said, "get your line and take the best of the fishing, while your rivals are indoors." So he ran back and fetched his hook and line, and cast into the glittering patch of moonlight on the road.

Soon an enormous dog, tempted by the smell of the bait, swallowed the hook greedily and then, feeling the barb, made desperate efforts to get loose. The fisherman struggled for some time against this enormous fish, but at last he was pulled over and rolled into the moonlight. Even then he would not let go his line, but held on grimly, uttering frightened cries. "Help, help, good Mussulmans!" he shouted. "Help me to secure this mighty fish, for he is dragging me into the deeps! Help, help, good friends, for I am drowning!" The guards of that quarter ran up at the noise and began laughing at the fisherman's antics; but when he yelled: "Allah curse you, O sons of bitches! Is it a time to laugh when I am drowning?" they grew angry and, after giving him a sound beating, dragged him into the presence of the kadi.

At this point Shahrazad saw the approach of morning and discreetly fell silent.


Allah had willed that the kadi should also be addicted to the use of hashish; recognizing that the prisoner was under that jocund influence, he rated the guards soundly and dismissed them. Then he handed over the fisherman to his slaves that they might give him a bed for calm sleep. After a pleasant night and a day given up to the consumption of excellent food, the fisherman was called to the kadi in the evening and received by him like a brother. His host supped with him; and then the two sat opposite the lighted candles and each swallowed enough hashish to destroy a hundred-year-old elephant. When the drug exalted their natural dispositions, they undressed completely and began to dance about, singing and committing a thousand extravagances.

Now it happened that the Sultan and his wazir were walking through the city, disguised as merchants, and heard a strange noise rising from the kadi's house. They entered through the unlatched door and found two naked men, who stopped dancing at their entrance and welcomed them without the least embarrassment. The Sultan sat down to watch his venerable kadi dance again; but when he saw that the other man had a dark and lively zabb, so long that the eye might not carry to the end of it, he whispered in his wazir's startled ear: "As Allah lives, our kadi is not as well hung as his guest!" "What are you whispering about?" cried the fisherman. "I am the Sultan of this city and I order you to watch my dance respectfully, otherwise I will have your head cut off. I am the Sultan, this is my wazir; I hold the whole world like a fish in the palm of my right hand." The Sultan and his wazir realized that they were in the presence of two hashish-eaters, and the wazir, to amuse his master, addressed the fisherman, saying: "How long have you been Sultan, dear master, and can you tell me what has happened to your predecessor?" "I deposed the fellow," answered the fisherman. "I said: 'Go Away!' and he went away."

"Did he not protest?" asked the wazir.

"Not at all," replied the fisherman. "He was delighted to be relased from the burden of kingship. He abdicated with such good grace that I keep him by me as a servant. He is an excellent dancer. When he pines for his throne, I tell him stories. Now I want to piss." So saying, he lifted up his interminable tool and, walking over to the Sultan, seemed to be about to discharge upon him.

"I also want to piss," exclaimed the kadi, and took up the same threatening position in front of the wazir. The two victims shouted with laughter and fled from that house, crying over their shoulders: "God's curse on all hashish-eaters!"

Next morning, that the jest might be complete, the Sultan called the kadi and his guest before him. "O discreet pillar of our law," he said, "I have called you to me because I wish to learn the most convenient manner of pissing. Should one squat and carefully lift the robe, as religion prescribes? Should one stand up, as is the unclean habit of unbelievers? Or should one undress completely and piss against one's friends, as is the custom of two hashish-eaters of my acquaintance?"

Knowing that the Sultan used to walk about the city in disguise, the kadi realized in a flash the identity of his last night's visitors, and fell on his knees, crying: "My lord, my lord, the hashish spake in these indelicacies, not I!"

But the fisherman, who by his careful daily taking of the drug was always under its effect, called somewhat sharply: "And what of it? You are in your palace this morning, we were in our palace last night."

"O sweetest noise in all our kingdom," answered the delighted King, "as we are both Sultans of this city, I think you had better henceforth stay with me in my palace. If you can tell stories, I trust that you will at once sweeten our hearing with a chosen one."

"I will do so gladly, as soon as you have pardoned my wazir," replied the fisherman; so the Sultan bade the kadi rise and sent him back forgiven to his duties.

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