In Cairo, a youth named Shah Munsur bred singing birds. Outside his house, he hung a cage containing two golden canaries, whose singing never failed to draw a crowd of passers-by.
One day Abu, the captain of the Caliph’s guard, happened to pass Munsur’s house and was greatly intrigued by these singing birds. Now it should be explained that this Abu was a vile man, who enjoyed torturing prisoners, and for some obscure reason, was proud that the people dubbed him with the name ‘Son of Satan’.
Having decided he wanted the birds, Abu pushed his way into Munsur’s house and offered the youth two pieces of silver for the birds.
“I am sorry,” said Munsur, “but those birds are not for sale. I have others you can buy.”
Abu was not used to people refusing his demands, so he taught this youth a lesson. So putting on a pleasant smile, he pleaded with the child and offered him two pieces of gold for the birds.
Munsur could hardly afford to refuse such a generous offer and agreed to bring the birds to Abu’s house that evening and collect the gold.
It Came evening, and Munsur went to Abu’s house, and the main door was opened by a member of the guard, who took the cage from Munsur and promptly closed it.
Munsur did not like this and banged the door with his fists. After a while, the same guardsman opened the door, demanding to know what Munsur wanted.
“I want my two pieces of gold,” Munsur shouted.
“Be off with you,” the guard said with a grin. “You certainly will not get any gold here.” With this, he again shut the door in Munsur’s face.
Munsur lost his temper and banged and kicked the door, causing a terrific din. At last, the door was flung wide open, and there on the threshold stood Abu himself.
“I want my two pieces of gold,” Munsur demanded.
Abu burst out laughing. “Gold,” he bellowed. “I will give you something to remember me by.” Turning to his guards, he ordered. “Flog this man within an inch of his life. Then throw him into the street”.
Bruised and bleeding, Munsur managed to drag his aching body to his house, where he fell on his bed, past caring as to whether he lived or died.
It was several days before Munsur could move around, and it would be weeks before his back healed from the brutal flogging.
As the days passed, Munsur brooded on ways and meant to make this Abu pay for his misdeeds. Then he remembered a story he had heard in the bazaar: Abu spent most evenings, usually the worse for a drink, ogling and annoying the women who went to the well to draw water.
This, Munsur thought, was an excellent opportunity to wreak his revenge. So, that evening Munsur, dressed in feminine finery and carrying a brass pot on his head, went to the well.
True enough, Abu was there, boasting in a harsh voice of his incredible feats as a soldier. Munsur dallied at the well until the other women had departed.
Abu seeing this comely young woman, soon started pestering her with a lot of silly questions. Munsur acted like a shy girl, and when Abu was not looking, he quickly pushed his brass pot into the well and shrieked.
“What is the matter?” Abu exclaimed.
“Oh dear, my pot has fallen into the well,” Munsur cried. “Please get it for me.”
Abu knew the well was far too deep to reach her pot. Nevertheless, he leaned over the parapet and looked down into the well’s murky gloom.
Munsur acted quickly. Sei- zing hold of Abu’s ankles, he gave a sudden jerk, and Abu went headlong down into the well.
Luckily the water was not very deep, but Abu, in his fall, sustained some terrible bruises. And down in the depth of the well, Abu was scared to death, with no way of getting out. He hollered and shrieked like all the devils from hell were after him.
The commotion soon attracted a crowd, and Munsur, who stayed to see the fun, told the first of the incomers that the son of Satan was down the well.
Now, plenty there had cause to hate the Caliph’s captain, and remembering past floggings, someone started the cry. “Let us repay the son of Satan what we owe.”
There was a rush to pick up rotten vegetables, stones and anything else handy to pelt—the miscreant in the well. Abu was now in the wrong way, and his cries could be heard everywhere.
Soon the guards came run- ning, and when they finally managed to get their captain out of the well with the aid of ropes, his plight only drew sneer- ing laughter from the crowd.
Covered in filth and shaking like an aspen leaf, Abu knew then he would never be able to face these people again.
As for Munsur, he went home quite happy. He had not got his two pieces of gold, but revenge can sometimes be very sweet.