once upon a time there lived in the city of Bagdad a young man called Jalaladdeen. It was not his native place; but, in his early days, his father had taken up his abode there. He was, however, little acquainted with the town, in which he had grown up a sturdy youth; for his father inhabited a small house in one of the suburbs, and lived a very retired and frugal life. They managed their household affairs, and cultivated their small garden, without the aid of any domestics.
One day the father, feeling his end approaching, called for his son once more to his bed-side before his death, and said to him, "Jalaladdeen, my dearest son, thou seest that I have arrived at the bourne of my earthly career: now I should joyously quit this life, were it not for the thought that I must leave thee here alone. After my death, thou wilt find that thou are not so poor as thou mayest have conceived, and that too with good reason, from our hitherto contracted habits of life. Nevertheless, guard against the impression that thou art in possession of inexhaustible riches. Reflect that a year has three hundred and sixty-five days, and that the smallest expenditure, when it occurs daily, will in the end amount to no inconsiderable sum. Pay careful heed, therefore, to these my instructions, and be contented with the necessaries of life. Provide that which is indispensable to thy subsistence; but beware of purchasing superfluities. Man's wants increase daily, if he do not accustom himself in his early days to practise self-denial. But shouldest thou ever be so unhappy as to neglect these my sincere cautions, and consequently fall into poverty, I have only this piece of advice left for thee:—Take this rope, fasten it to the nail in yonder wall, and pull stoutly three times."
After these words, with his latest strength he drew a new rope from under the head of his bed, and presented it to Jalaladdeen: the next moment he expired.
So remarkable was the last lesson of the dying father to Jalaladdeen, that he carefully preserved the rope. The care of the funeral of the deceased, and the grief for the loss of his parent, and his own abandonment in the world, occupied Jalaladdeen's mind for the first week; but soon the household matters demanded his attention, and he speedily found his father's words verified. One day he discovered in a chamber which his father had always kept locked, and which he himself had never before entered, a great quantity of gold and jewels. He still, however, persevered in his accustomed solitary and frugal life in the same manner as before the death of his father. He fetched his daily provisions for himself, worked in his garden, and dressed his own food. One day it happened that as he went to fetch a piece of meat from his butcher, he passed a house adjacent to his own, from an inner room of which there sounded joyous voices, jokes, songs, and laughter. He felt a desire to open the door a little and to peep in; and a tastefully furnished chamber, hung with light blue silk draperies ornamented with golden lace, presented itself to his view. Beneath a canopy reclined five richly dressed young men at a table covered with a costly cloth, on which stood dishes and plates. On a side-board stood drinking-vessels and jugs; and five slaves were busily employed in serving the company with viands and liquors. At sight of this cheerful and joyous assemblage, Jalaladdeen felt discontented with his lot.