12. The Sweep and the Noble Lady

A sweep of blood and offal is brought to the Emir because it seemed he asked Allah to make a man commit adultery. The sweep tells the Emir he was brought to the house of a noble lady and she slept with him for eight days. Every next day he was send away and received money. She was committing adultery because her husband had done the same with the cookmaid. The couple was reconciled and the sweeper hopes the man will turn on the cookmaid again.

During the season of Meccan pilgrimage a man cries out holding the covering of Ka’abah: “I beseech thee, O Allah, that she may once again be wroth with her husband and that I may know her!” Upon hearing this he taken to the Emir and they relate the story. The Emir commands to hang the man, but he begs to listen to his story first, which is granted.

The man is a sweep who carries off blood and the offal of a slaughterhouse. One day there was a lot of tumult in the streets. A noble woman passed by with beating eunuchs to make room for her. The sweep was captured, thinking his smell might have offended her. But at her house he was bathed and clothed. He received sumptuous meals and wine. Then he shared her bed. The next day he received a kerchief with fifty gold pieces and he buried the largest part of that.

After the afternoon prayer a slave-girl said to him her mistress called for him. He ate and drank and laid with her again that night. In the morning she gave him again fifty dinars. And this went on for seven days, and when he woke on the eighth a slave-girl told him to go into a closet.

The sweep saw a young man coming and when he came to the lady he kissed the ground between her hands and made peace with her. They laid together that night.

The lady explained to the sweep that the man is her husband who committed adultery with one of the cookmaids. She decided she would commit adultery with the foulest and filthiest man in Baghdad. Now she quit her oath, but if her husband would turn to the cookmaid again she would call on the sweep. He prayed to Allah her husband would turn to the cookmaid again. When the Emir hears the story the sweeper is set free, for he is excusable.

From: The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night — Volume 04

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