January 18, 2021

#08-037: The Man Who Never Laughed Again

plumpish woman gesticulates to a man in opulent environment
Scheherazade tells Shahryār one of her tales in The 1001 Nights

Note: My favorite story from the 1001 Nights (also called The Book of One Thousand and One Nights) is not "Aladdin" or "Ali Baba," but this one, entitled "The Man Who Never Laughed Again."

Get Ready: If someone forbids you to do something ("Don't open that door!"), do you ever feel compelled to do it? Why or why not?

An irresponsible young man inherited his father's wealth, and soon had squandered it all. After he had been begging on the street for a year, a passerby recognized in him good breeding, and offered him a position tending to himself and ten other old men living in a house. He would be paid well, and housed and fed, but on one condition: If he saw any of the old men weeping, he was not to ask what had caused their sorrow.

The young man gladly accepted, and soon found himself living in a sumptuous house with fine furnishings and interior gardens.

Over time, the old men died one by one, and were buried in the garden, until only the one who had hired the young man remained. The two lived alone for years and years, until the old man fell ill. The young man took this opportunity to ask him: "As a reward for my loyalty, may I now ask the cause of your unceasing mourning and lamentation all these years?"

"No," the old man replied, "I cannot say. But if you wish to avoid our fate, do not open yonder door," pointing to the entry to another part of the house. "But if you open it, you will learn what we have suffered--and suffer the same!"

At last, the old man died, and the young man avoided the door until one day, living alone as he did, curiosity overtook him. For seven days he struggled, but at last went through--where he discovered he was on the seashore of a paradise! A great eagle carried him away from there to an island in the midst of the sea, where it left him. A ship soon arrived carrying ten beautiful women, who immediately hailed him as king!

They took him aboard and sailed to another land, where he was mounted on his choice of fine horses and set out in a procession to a palace. There he was met by a king in armor. But no! The king was a beautiful queen, and became his wife. He was given all her lands and riches, and put in charge of her army. Only one thing he must not do: open a certain door in the palace.

But, of course, he did, after seven years. Behind the door was the eagle which had carried him there, and it carried him back to the seashore whence he had come. Two months he stayed on that seashore, until at last he returned to the house of the weeping old men. And there he remained, weary and heartbroken, weeping until the day he, too, was buried in the garden next to the old men.


Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_Thousand_and_One_Nights

Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. entitled
  2. hailed
  3. inherited
  4. overtook
  5. passerby
  6. squandered
  7. sumptuous
  8. unceasing
  9. whence
  10. yonder

  1. wasted; spent badly
  2. from where
  3. caught up with; overwhelmed
  4. received after someone died
  5. elegant
  6. over there
  7. praised
  8. one who walks past
  9. with the name of
  10. without stopping

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for January 18, 2021

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. i; 2. g; 3. d; 4. c; 5. h; 6. a; 7. e; 8. j; 9. b; 10. f