The Ruined Man

There lived once in Baghdad a very wealthy man, who lost all his substance and became so poor, that he could only earn his living by excessive labor. One night, he lay down to sleep, dejected and sick at heart, and saw in a dream one who said to him, ‘Thy fortune is at Cairo; go thither and seek it.’ So he set out for Cairo; but, when he arrived there, night overtook him and he lay down to sleep in a mosque.

Presently, as fate would have it, a company of thieves entered the mosque and made their way from thence into an adjoining house; but the people of the house, being aroused by the noise, awoke and cried out; whereupon the chief of the police came to their aid with his officers.

The robbers made off; but the police entered the mosque and finding the man from Baghdad asleep there, laid hold of him and beat him with palm rods, till he was well-nigh dead. Then they cast him into prison, where he abode three days, after which the chief of the police sent for him and said to him, ‘From whence art thou?’ ‘From Baghdad,’ answered he. ‘And what brought thee to Cairo?’ asked the magistrate. Quoth the Baghdadi, ‘I saw in a dream one who said to me, “Thy fortune is at Cairo; go thither to it.” But when I came hither, the fortune that he promised me proved to be the beating I had of thee.’

The chief of the police laughed, till he showed his jaw-teeth, and said, ‘O man of little wit, thrice have I seen in a dream one who said to me, “There is in Baghdad a house of such a fashion and situate so-and-so, in the garden whereof is a fountain and thereunder a great sum of money buried. Go thither and take it.” Yet I went not; but thou, of thy little wit, hast journeyed from place to place, on the faith of a dream, which was but an illusion of sleep.’

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Then he gave him money, saying, ‘This is to help thee back to thy native land.’ Now the house he had described was the man’s own house in Baghdad; so the latter returned thither, and digging underneath the fountain in his garden, discovered a great treasure; and thus God gave him abundant fortune.

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