The Poor Porter and his Greedy Wife

Once there was a woman married to a very simple-minded poor man. She used to beat him and send him out of the house whenever it pleased her. One day she beat him and told him to go and bring her the golden jewellery of the wife of the chief merchant, the richest merchant in the city at that time. He went out and left the house because he was afraid of his wife. He went to sleep on a bench in a coffee shop. Seven thieves passed by and they asked him, What are you doing, sleeping here at night?

He said, My wife beat me and told me to go and bring her the golden jewellery of the wife of the chief merchant.

The seven thieves told him, We are going out to rob. Come along with us as our helper. You don"t have to do anything. Just sit and wait and when we are ready, you will help us carry the stuff away.

He went with them to a rich man"s house and the seven thieves told the porter to sit down and keep still while they opened the rooms and searched the boxes and cupboards. But the porter got tired of waiting and couldn"t sit still, so he went upstairs to the roof for a little exercise. He saw the owner of the house and his wife sleeping under a quilt of very fine quality. It was red with designs in gold sequins. Real gold, too. It looked very beautiful in the moonlight.

The porter thought to himself, If I take this quilt to my wife she will love me. Let me take the quilt off them and take it to my wife. It is so beautiful that maybe she won"t throw me out of the house again. The man was really very simple-minded.

He took the quilt off the man and wife. Then he thought, Poor ones, they may catch cold. He went downstairs and got another quilt. He came to cover them and they woke up. They opened their eyes and said, Who are you?

He said, I am a thief.

A thief? What are you doing here?

I want this quilt because my wife threw me out of the house. She doesn"t love me and she doesn"t want me around. She told me to go and get the golden jewellery of the wife of the chief merchant, but the seven thieves brought me here. They are downstairs, and they told me to sit still while they collected the loot. But when I saw this quilt I said to myself that if I took it to my wife she might like it and love me again, but I was afraid you might catch cold so I went downstairs and got another quilt for you.

The man and his wife went downstairs and found that the seven thieves had run away. They kept the porter in the house for the rest of the night and in the morning they gave him the red quilt and mat¬tresses and pillows enough for a big household as a reward for saving them from the seven thieves.

He went home to his wife well pleased with himself. He said, O Wife, come and see what I have brought you.


His wife took the things from him, - mattresses, pillows, quilts, bedcovers of all kinds, - and said, Dog, son of a dog, I wanted you to bring me the golden jewellery of the wife of the chief merchant. Go to their house this time. Again she beat him and threw him out of the house.

That night the porter slept in the coffee shop again. The seven thieves passed by. Their leader said, Bad luck to you, dog, son of a dog! What did you do to us yesterday? You took the food right out of our mouths. We were all ready to take the stuff away and you made us lose it all. What shall I do to you? I am going to kill you.

The other thieves said, It"s a pity to kill him, he is such a simple¬ton.

The leader said, No, no, no. There"s no help for it. I have to kill him.

The others said, and there were six of them, Never mind this time. Give him another chance. Take him along tonight as our helper and he won"t cause trouble again. He will sit still in his place. Forgive him. He’s is a simpleton and he didn"t understand.

They took the porter with them and entered a house even richer than the other house. They told him, Sit still in your place and don"t get up.

He said, I won"t get up.

The thieves went and broke open the rooms, gathered up things, and collected things, and bundled and wrapped up things to their hearts" content.

As he sat there the porter saw a bucket on the well (in those days there were no water pipes). The bucket was of copper, newly tinned, and it shone like silver in the moonlight. At home the porter had only an old jar for dipping water from the well. When he saw t he bucket he said to himself, I want to take this bucket to my wife. When she sees it she will love me. But poor ones. These people have 1111 empty cistern. Let me fill it for them before taking away the bucket.

He let the bucket down into the well, and, as the rope paid out, I he pulleys squeaked, eek, eek, eek, until the bucket dropped into the wilier, plunk. The robbers whispered, Hush, hush, but in vain. The porter kept on pulling up water, eek, eek, eek, plunk, until the people in the house woke up.

They called out. What are you doing? And they came and caught him.

He answered, By Allah, there were seven thieves here but they have run away. I am not a thief. They brought me here. My wife beat me and threw me out of the house and said she wanted the golden jewellery of the wife of the chief merchant. How can I get it for her? I saw this silver bucket and thought that if I took it to her she might love me and not send me away again. But I saw that the cistern was empty and I said to myself, Poor people, let me fill the cistern for them.

May Allah reward you for saving us from the seven thieves! They kept him in the house overnight and in the morning they gathered up many things of real silver as well as the copper bucket and let him go.

When he got home he knocked on the door and called out, Come, a Wife, come and see what I have brought you.

What"s this? she said taking the things from him. Get out, you pimp. I want you to bring me the golden jewellery of the wife of the chief merchant. Get out. She took the things and threw him out of the house again.

When it was night the porter went to sleep again on the bench in the coffee shop. The seven thieves came along. The leader said, Ya procurer! On account of you we have lost two good hauls. Tonight I will surely kill you.

The other thieves spoke up for the porter as they had the night before and the leader pardoned him. They took him along with them and said, Don"t you dare move from your place this time.

O father, I won"t move.

They set out together and entered another house, still richer than the other two. They told the porter, Sit here. Don"t move from your place.

Sitting there in the moonlight he saw something shining in the distance like a light. He went to see what it was and found that it was a brass mortar and pestle that shone like gold. He thought of the old, black, iron mortar and pestle that his wife used at home. He thought to himself, By Allah, perhaps if I take this to my wife she will be happy. He saw that there were cardamom seeds in the mortar not yet crushed. He thought, Poor ones. If I take away their mortar how will they crush their cardamom seeds tomorrow? Let me pound them and put them in a paper ready for them to use.

The seven thieves were upstairs gathering together their loot when, what should they hear, but thud, thud, tring; thud, thud, tring. They rushed to hush up the porter as he pounded away, thud, thud, tring.

The people of the house woke up and said, Who"s that?

He said, I am a thief. I am a thief.

What kind of a thief are you? What are you doing? In the mean¬time the seven thieves ran away.

Well, my wife beat me and wouldn"t have anything to do with me, and those seven thieves brought me with them, but I am not really a thief. And I liked this golden mortar and pestle and thought that if I took it to my wife she would love me. But when I saw the cardamom seeds I thought that I"d better pound them, because, if I took the mortar and pestle, you wouldn"t be able to pound them to¬morrow.

They let him sleep in the house that night and when morning came they gave him the mortar and pestle and all kinds of pots and kettles and dishes and trays and loaded him with the things.

He went home to his wife and knocked on the door, knock, knock, knock.

His wife called out, Who is it?

He said, It"s me, O my Eyes. Come and see what I have brought you.

She took the mortar and pestle from him and all the other things and said, You pimp. I want you to bring me the golden jewellery of the wife of the chief merchant. And she threw him out of the house again.

The poor porter thought, If I sleep again on the bench in the coffee shop the thieves will surely kill me this time. Where shall I go? Where shall I go? He went to a friend and borrowed a drum and a flute. He said, I will make music and collect a few pennies to pay for a place to sleep, for, if I sleep on the bench in the coffee shop. the thieves will kill me. And he went through the streets stopping from time to time to beat the drum and tootle on the flute, tweet, tweet, boom, boom; tweet, tweet, boom, boom.

When night came he found himself near the open door of a man¬sion. It was the palace of the chief merchant. The palace was divided into two pans, one for the men and one for the women, and near the door was a storeroom for straw for the horses. The porter slipped in and climbed up on the top of the straw with his drum and flute and went to sleep.

Now it so happened that the wife of the chief merchant had a lover other than her husband. She loved another man who came to her secretly at night. In the middle of the night came a rap on the door, knock, knock, knock. The wife was waiting behind the door. Her husband was asleep on the roof. The wife opened the door for her lover and brought him into the room where the straw was stored. She spread a carpet for him. I see you are very late tonight. Why were you so late?

He said, I was at a wedding party where they had drums and music so I couldn"t leave and come until now.

Was there music and songs and dancing?
Yes, he said.
She brought him some food to eat, - a dish of rice and a stuffed roast chicken. Did you dance, too?

Yes, I danced, too. They called on each of us in turn and as one sat down another got up. That"s our way.

I"d love to see you dance.

In the dark how can you see?

I am going to bring a small light to see how you dance.

The porter was awakened by the noise and the smell of food. He stretched out his hand slowly, slowly toward the chicken until he caught hold of it. Then he began to eat.

When the woman came back her lover said, It seems you brought me rice and nothing else to eat.

No, Dear, I brought chicken with the rice. She saw the empty plate. A cat has stolen it, she said, and she began to shoo the cat, Pst, pst, pst. The porter was eating away on the top of the straw stack.

The woman said, Please dance for me a little, and she began to snap her fingers.

The porter heard all this and thought what a pity it was that the man would not dance to please the woman, so he struck up his music, toot, toot, boom-de-boom-da; toot, toot, boom-de-boom-da. The lover went out of the door running so fast that his heels flew over his head.

The woman thought a jinni was there and she cried out, Jinni, Jinni, be quiet. Hush. I am afraid you will wake my husband.

I won"t be quiet unless you give me your golden jewellery. Toot, toot, boom-de-boom-da.

Yes, yes, you shall have them, Jinni. Toot, toot, boom-de-boom¬da. Just be quiet a minute till I go up and bring them.

The porter was quiet and the woman went and brought her jewel box with everything in it. She gave it to him for fear he would wake up her husband.

Indeed the chief merchant had waked up with the noise and calledout, What is that music?

His wife went to him running. I heard it, too. I thought it was a wedding but when I opened the door I saw something running past the door playing on a flute and pounding on a drum. I don"t know whether
it was a jinni or what it was.

Well then, let us go back to sleep, said the chief merchant.

As for the porter, he reached his house before dawn and rapped at the door, knock, knock, knock.

Who is it?

It"s me. Open the door. I have brought you something.

The wife opened the door and took the box and found golden orna¬ments for her ears and neck and wrists and arms and fingers and waist and ankles. A complete set of jewellery. This time the wife let her hus¬band stay with her. She sold a few pieces of jewellery, bought a better house, moved all their belongings into it, and settled down. And she never drove the porter out of the house again.