A Thousand And One Arabian Nights
The Story of the Greek King and the Physician Douban
In the country of Zouman, in Persia, there lived a Greek king.
This king was a leper, and all his doctors had been unable to cure him,
when a very clever physician came to his court.
He was very learned in all languages, and knew a great deal about
herbs and medicines.
As soon as he was told of the king's illness he put on his best
robe and presented himself before the king. "Sire," said he,
"I know that no physician has been able to cure your majesty,
but if you will follow my instructions, I will promise to cure you
without any medicines or outward application."
The king listened to this proposal.
"If you are clever enough to do this," he said, "I promise to make
you and your descendants rich for ever."
The physician went to his house and made a polo club, the handle
of which he hollowed out, and put in it the drug he wished to use.
Then he made a ball, and with these things he went the next day to
He told him that he wished him to play at polo. Accordingly the
king mounted his horse and went into the place where he played.
There the physician approached him with the bat he had made, saying,
"Take this, sire, and strike the ball till you feel your hand and whole
body in a glow. When the remedy that is in the handle of the club
is warmed by your hand it will penetrate throughout your body.
The you must return to your palace, bathe, and go to sleep,
and when you awake to-morrow morning you will be cured."
The king took the club and urged his horse after the ball which he
had thrown. He struck it, and then it was hit back by the courtiers
who were playing with him. When he felt very hot he stopped playing,
and went back to the palace, went into the bath, and did all that
the physician had said. The next day when he arose he found,
to his great joy and astonishment, that he was completely cured.
When he entered his audience-chamber all his courtiers, who were
eager to see if the wonderful cure had been effected, were overwhelmed
The physician Douban entered the hall and bowed low to the ground.
The king, seeing him, called him, made him sit by his side, and showed
him every mark of honour.
That evening he gave him a long and rich robe of state, and presented
him with two thousand sequins. The following day he continued
to load him with favours.
Now the king had a grand-vizier who was avaricious, and envious,
and a very bad man. He grew extremely jealous of the physician,
and determined to bring about his ruin.
In order to do this he asked to speak in private with the king,
saying that he had a most important communication to make.
"What is it?" asked the king.
"Sire," answered the grand-vizier, "it is most dangerous for a monarch
to confide in a man whose faithfulness is not proved, You do not know
that this physician is not a traitor come here to assassinate you."
"I am sure," said the king, "that this man is the most faithful and
virtuous of men. If he wished to take my life, why did he cure me?
Cease to speak against him I see what it is, you are jealous of him;
but do not think that I can be turned against him. I remember well
what a vizier said to King Sindbad, his master, to prevent him from
putting the prince, his son, to death."
What the Greek king said excited the vizir's curiosity, and he
said to him, "Sire, I beg your majesty to have the condescension
to tell me what the vizier said to King Sindbad."
"This vizier," he replied, "told King Sindbad that one ought not
believe everything that a mother-in-law says, and told him this story."
Next: The Story of the Husband and the Parrot
Return to A Thousand and One Arabian Nights