The Man who never Laughed
” And the young man replied, “Well, O uncle.”
So the sheykh said to him, “O my son, come with us, relying on the blessing of God (whose name be exalted!).” And the young man followed the sheykh until the latter conducted him to the bath; after which he sent a man, who brought him a comely garment of linen, and he clad him with it, and went with him to his abode and his associates. And when the young man entered, he found it to be a high mansion, with lofty angles, ample, with chambers facing one another, and saloons; and in each saloon was a fountain of water, and birds were warbling over it, and there were windows overlooking, on every side, a beautiful garden within the mansion. The sheykh conducted him into one of the chambers, and he found it decorated with coloured marbles, and its ceiling ornamented with blue and brilliant gold, and it was spread with carpets of silk; and he found in it ten sheykhs sitting facing one another, wearing the garments of mourning, weeping, and wailing. So the young man wondered at their case, and was about to question the sheykh who had brought him, but he remembered the condition, and therefore withheld his tongue. Then the sheykh committed to the young man a chest, containing thirty thousand pieces of gold, saying to him, “O my son, expend upon us out of this chest, and upon thyself, according to what is just, and be thou faithful, and take care of that wherewith I have intrusted thee.” And the young man replied, “I hear and obey.” He continued to expend upon them for a period of days and nights, after which one of them died; whereupon his companions took him, and washed him and shrouded him, and buried him in a garden behind the mansion. And death ceased not to take of them one after another, until there remained only the sheykh who had hired the young man. So he remained with the young man in that mansion, and there was not with them a third; and they remained thus for a period of years. Then the sheykh fell sick; and when the young man despaired of his life, he addressed him with courtesy, and was grieved for him, and said to him, “O uncle, I have served you, and not failed in your service one hour for a period of twelve years, but have acted faithfully to you, and served you according to my power and ability.