Stories from Arabian Nights - Revenge of The Dead

Revenge Of The Dead 

Once upon a time, there was a king who suffered from a dangerous disease. All the physicians in the kingdom could not cure him. Day and night the king remained sad. At times he prayed to God for his help. Far away in a small village lived a sage. From traveling merchants, he heard about the king's suffering. The sage had learned the cures for some deadly diseases from his master who was no more. The master had told him to treat only such men who were good to the best of his knowledge. He was not to use his learning for money. The sage felt pity for the king. He went to the town and examined the king. After ascertaining the nature of his disease, he said, "I can cure you!." "Really?" The king could not contain his joy. "I shall make you so rich that your children and grandchildren and their grandchildren won't have any reason to worry for a happy living. Moreover, you'll be my life long friend."

"Thank you, my lord. Hold this herb in your grip and walk in the sun till you sweat. Then take a bath and have your food and go to sleep. We will see how you feel tomorrow," said the physician. The king held the herb in his grip and walked around the palace. The sage asked him to stop when he sweated. Then the king had his bath and food and then he went to bed. He woke up the next morning fresh as a healthy youngster. To his great surprise, he saw no symptom of the disease that troubled him for years. In time he appeared in court. The sage was already there. The king rushed to him and embraced him. He made the sage sit by his side. He was so overwhelmed with gratefulness that for some time he could not even speak. Then he addressed his ministers and courtiers and said, "This sage did what a hundred famous physicians had failed to do. He cured me of the curse of a disease. Gentlemen, with how much money should I reward him?" "Five thousand!" "Ten thousand!" "Twenty thousand!" shouted the different courtiers. "I'll give him anything he desires!" announced the king. "That's the right thing to do!" agreed the courtiers. "My friend and savior! How much money will satisfy you? Ask and the amount is yours!" said the king, looking at the sage. "Thanks a lot, my lord, but I cannot accept any money. That is the injunction my master has passed on me," humbly said the sage. Nothing would persuade the sage to accept any reward. 

"Then remain here as my best friend and most valued courtier," the king said. The sage stayed on, waiting for a time when he can take leave of the king. The reception and the respect the sage received was never liked by the king's old minister. Envy consumed him. One day he called on the king privately and said, "I am old. Death would claim me at any moment. But I shall fail in my duty if I do not warn you against a great danger that is looming large on you!" "What is it, my good old minister?" asked the king, extremely anxious. By and by the minister disclosed to the king that was in his wretched mind. "The man whom you call a sage is a spy. What has cured you is not medicine but black magic!" was the theme of the minister's warning. At first, the king rejected the minister's suspicions as utter nonsense. But the crafty minister drove home his point with arguments. Why should the sage refuse to accept any money unless he had some other motive? If he could cure you so easily, what guarantee is there that he would not kill you equally easily? The last argument did the trick.

The king spent a restless night torn between affection and suspicion. When it was morning, he called the wicked minister and asked him, "What should I do?" "Kill him immediately, my good lord!" advised the fellow. The king at once summoned the sage and said, "You are to lose your head." "Lose my head, my lord? Why? What is my crime?" asked the sage. "You are a spy. If you could cure me by making me hold a herb, tomorrow you can kill me by making me smell a flower." The sage implored the king to be spared of his life. "I am not only an innocent man but also your benefactor. God will not pardon you if you slay me," he said again and again. But his words fell on deaf ears. When the sage knew that he had no escape, he said, "I wish I could hand over my book to someone who deserves it." "What book?" demanded the king. "As you have found out, I am a magician. My greatest possession is my book of magic." "Give it to us!" commanded the king. "Good, Since I am giving my life to you, why not the book? Read it carefully and make use of the magic formulae written in it. To begin with, you can even make my severed head answer your question." "How wonderful!" exclaimed the king. "It is so. After I am beheaded, place my head on a seat in front of you. Turn the leaves of the book one by one till you come to a page where something is written in red. Read that aloud and look at my head. Though I would be dead by then, it shall speak!" assured the sage.

The sage then went into his lodge and, after some time, came out with an old book and handed it over to the king. The happy king then ordered him to be beheaded. His severed head was placed on a seat before the throne and the king began turning the leaves of the book. The leaves stuck to one another. The king, as was his habit, moistured his fingers by his tongue again and again to separate the leaves. Almost on the last page, he saw the writing in red. It read, "You ungrateful creature! Follow me to the abode of death." The scared king looked at the sage's severed head. It looked like grinning. The king rolled down from his throne. The poison his victim had spread on the leaves of the book had gone into this system through his poisoned fingers touching his tongue again and again. He gave a terrifying cry looking at his wicked minister before breathing his last. The guilty old minister did not understand what happened. But the severed head of the sage and the sudden death of the king made him so nervous that his heartbeat stopped. The sage though a dead man had the last laugh.

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