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´╗┐Title: The Arabian Nights
Author: Lang, Andrew, 1844-1912
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Arabian Nights" ***

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The Arabian Nights Entertainments,


Selected and Edited

by

Andrew Lang



after the edition of

Longmans, Green and Co, 1918 (1898)



Contents

  Preface
  The Arabian Nights
  The Story of the Merchant and the Genius
  The Story of the First Old Man and of the Hind
  The Story of the Second Old Man, and of the Two Black Dogs
  The Story of the Fisherman
  The Story of the Greek King and the Physician Douban
  The Story of the Husband and the Parrot
  The Story of the Vizir Who Was Punished
  The Story of the Young King of the Black Isles
  The Story of the Three Calenders, Sons of Kings,
    and of Five Ladies of Bagdad
  The Story of the First Calender, Son of a King
  The Story of the Envious Man and of Him Who Was Envied
  The Story of the Second Calendar, Son of a King
  The Story of the Third Calendar, Son of a King
  The Seven Voyages of Sindbad the Sailor
    First Voyage
    Second Voyage
    Third Voyage
    Fourth Voyage
    Fifth Voyage
    Sixth Voyage
    Seventh and Last Voyage
  The Little Hunchback
  The Story of the Barber's Fifth Brother
  The Story of the Barber's Sixth Brother
  The Adventures of Prince Camaralzaman and the Princess Badoura
  Noureddin and the Fair Persian
  Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp
  The Adventures of Haroun-al-Raschid, Caliph of Bagdad
  The Story of the Blind Baba-Abdalla
  The Story of Sidi-Nouman
  The Story of Ali Colia, Merchant of Bagdad
  The Enchanted Horse
  The Story of Two Sisters Who Were Jealous of Their Younger Sister



Preface


The stories in the Fairy Books have generally been such as old women in
country places tell to their grandchildren.  Nobody knows how old they
are, or who told them first.  The children of Ham, Shem and Japhet may
have listened to them in the Ark, on wet days.  Hector's little boy may
have heard them in Troy Town, for it is certain that Homer knew them,
and that some of them were written down in Egypt about the time of
Moses.

People in different countries tell them differently, but they are
always the same stories, really, whether among little Zulus, at the
Cape, or little Eskimo, near the North Pole.  The changes are only in
matters of manners and customs; such as wearing clothes or not, meeting
lions who talk in the warm countries, or talking bears in the cold
countries.  There are plenty of kings and queens in the fairy tales,
just because long ago there were plenty of kings in the country.  A
gentleman who would be a squire now was a kind of king in Scotland in
very old times, and the same in other places.  These old stories, never
forgotten, were taken down in writing in different ages, but mostly in
this century, in all sorts of languages.  These ancient stories are the
contents of the Fairy books.

Now "The Arabian Nights," some of which, but not nearly all, are given
in this volume, are only fairy tales of the East.  The people of Asia,
Arabia, and Persia told them in their own way, not for children, but
for grown-up people.  There were no novels then, nor any printed books,
of course; but there were people whose profession it was to amuse men
and women by telling tales.  They dressed the fairy stories up, and
made the characters good Mahommedans, living in Bagdad or India.  The
events were often supposed to happen in the reign of the great Caliph,
or ruler of the Faithful, Haroun al Raschid, who lived in Bagdad in
786-808 A.D. The vizir who accompanies the Caliph was also a real
person of the great family of the Barmecides.  He was put to death by
the Caliph in a very cruel way, nobody ever knew why.  The stories must
have been told in their present shape a good long while after the
Caliph died, when nobody knew very exactly what had really happened.
At last some storyteller thought of writing down the tales, and fixing
them into a kind of framework, as if they had all been narrated to a
cruel Sultan by his wife.  Probably the tales were written down about
the time when Edward I. was fighting Robert Bruce.  But changes were
made in them at different times, and a great deal that is very dull and
stupid was put in, and plenty of verses.  Neither the verses nor the
dull pieces are given in this book.

People in France and England knew almost nothing about "The Arabian
Nights" till the reigns of Queen Anne and George I., when they were
translated into French by Monsieur Galland.  Grown-up people were then
very fond of fairy tales, and they thought these Arab stories the best
that they had ever read.  They were delighted with Ghouls (who lived
among the tombs) and Geni, who seemed to be a kind of ogres, and with
Princesses who work magic spells, and with Peris, who are Arab fairies.
Sindbad had adventures which perhaps came out of the Odyssey of Homer;
in fact, all the East had contributed its wonders, and sent them to
Europe in one parcel.  Young men once made a noise at Monsieur
Galland's windows in the dead of night, and asked him to tell them one
of his marvellous tales.  Nobody talked of anything but dervishes and
vizirs, rocs and peris.  The stories were translated from French into
all languages, and only Bishop Atterbury complained that the tales were
not likely to be true, and had no moral.  The bishop was presently
banished for being on the side of Prince Charlie's father, and had
leisure to repent of being so solemn.

In this book "The Arabian Nights" are translated from the French
version of Monsieur Galland, who dropped out the poetry and a great
deal of what the Arabian authors thought funny, though it seems
wearisome to us.  In this book the stories are shortened here and
there, and omissions are made of pieces only suitable for Arabs and old
gentlemen.  The translations are by the writers of the tales in the
Fairy Books, and the pictures are by Mr. Ford.

I can remember reading "The Arabian Nights" when I was six years old,
in dirty yellow old volumes of small type with no pictures, and I hope
children who read them with Mr. Ford's pictures will be as happy as I
was then in the company of Aladdin and Sindbad the Sailor.



The Arabian Nights


In the chronicles of the ancient dynasty of the Sassanidae, who reigned
for about four hundred years, from Persia to the borders of China,
beyond the great river Ganges itself, we read the praises of one of the
kings of this race, who was said to be the best monarch of his time.
His subjects loved him, and his neighbors feared him, and when he died
he left his kingdom in a more prosperous and powerful condition than
any king had done before him.

The two sons who survived him loved each other tenderly, and it was a
real grief to the elder, Schahriar, that the laws of the empire forbade
him to share his dominions with his brother Schahzeman.  Indeed, after
ten years, during which this state of things had not ceased to trouble
him, Schahriar cut off the country of Great Tartary from the Persian
Empire and made his brother king.

Now the Sultan Schahriar had a wife whom he loved more than all the
world, and his greatest happiness was to surround her with splendour,
and to give her the finest dresses and the most beautiful jewels.  It
was therefore with the deepest shame and sorrow that he accidentally
discovered, after several years, that she had deceived him completely,
and her whole conduct turned out to have been so bad, that he felt
himself obliged to carry out the law of the land, and order the
grand-vizir to put her to death.  The blow was so heavy that his mind
almost gave way, and he declared that he was quite sure that at bottom
all women were as wicked as the sultana, if you could only find them
out, and that the fewer the world contained the better.  So every
evening he married a fresh wife and had her strangled the following
morning before the grand-vizir, whose duty it was to provide these
unhappy brides for the Sultan.  The poor man fulfilled his task with
reluctance, but there was no escape, and every day saw a girl married
and a wife dead.

This behaviour caused the greatest horror in the town, where nothing
was heard but cries and lamentations.  In one house was a father
weeping for the loss of his daughter, in another perhaps a mother
trembling for the fate of her child; and instead of the blessings that
had formerly been heaped on the Sultan's head, the air was now full of
curses.

The grand-vizir himself was the father of two daughters, of whom the
elder was called Scheherazade, and the younger Dinarzade.  Dinarzade
had no particular gifts to distinguish her from other girls, but her
sister was clever and courageous in the highest degree.  Her father had
given her the best masters in philosophy, medicine, history and the
fine arts, and besides all this, her beauty excelled that of any girl
in the kingdom of Persia.

One day, when the grand-vizir was talking to his eldest daughter, who
was his delight and pride, Scheherazade said to him, "Father, I have a
favour to ask of you.  Will you grant it to me?"

"I can refuse you nothing," replied he, "that is just and reasonable."

"Then listen," said Scheherazade.  "I am determined to stop this
barbarous practice of the Sultan's, and to deliver the girls and
mothers from the awful fate that hangs over them."

"It would be an excellent thing to do," returned the grand-vizir, "but
how do you propose to accomplish it?"

"My father," answered Scheherazade, "it is you who have to provide the
Sultan daily with a fresh wife, and I implore you, by all the affection
you bear me, to allow the honour to fall upon me."

"Have you lost your senses?" cried the grand-vizir, starting back in
horror.  "What has put such a thing into your head?  You ought to know
by this time what it means to be the sultan's bride!"

"Yes, my father, I know it well," replied she, "and I am not afraid to
think of it.  If I fail, my death will be a glorious one, and if I
succeed I shall have done a great service to my country."

"It is of no use," said the grand-vizir, "I shall never consent.  If
the Sultan was to order me to plunge a dagger in your heart, I should
have to obey.  What a task for a father!  Ah, if you do not fear death,
fear at any rate the anguish you would cause me."

"Once again, my father," said Scheherazade, "will you grant me what I
ask?"

"What, are you still so obstinate?" exclaimed the grand-vizir. "Why are
you so resolved upon your own ruin?"

But the maiden absolutely refused to attend to her father's words, and
at length, in despair, the grand-vizir was obliged to give way, and
went sadly to the palace to tell the Sultan that the following evening
he would bring him Scheherazade.

The Sultan received this news with the greatest astonishment.

"How have you made up your mind," he asked, "to sacrifice your own
daughter to me?"

"Sire," answered the grand-vizir, "it is her own wish.  Even the sad
fate that awaits her could not hold her back."

"Let there be no mistake, vizir," said the Sultan.  "Remember you will
have to take her life yourself.  If you refuse, I swear that your head
shall pay forfeit."

"Sire," returned the vizir.  "Whatever the cost, I will obey you.
Though a father, I am also your subject."  So the Sultan told the
grand-vizir he might bring his daughter as soon as he liked.

The vizir took back this news to Scheherazade, who received it as if it
had been the most pleasant thing in the world.  She thanked her father
warmly for yielding to her wishes, and, seeing him still bowed down
with grief, told him that she hoped he would never repent having
allowed her to marry the Sultan.  Then she went to prepare herself for
the marriage, and begged that her sister Dinarzade should be sent for
to speak to her.

When they were alone, Scheherazade addressed her thus:

"My dear sister; I want your help in a very important affair.  My
father is going to take me to the palace to celebrate my marriage with
the Sultan.  When his Highness receives me, I shall beg him, as a last
favour, to let you sleep in our chamber, so that I may have your
company during the last night I am alive.  If, as I hope, he grants me
my wish, be sure that you wake me an hour before the dawn, and speak to
me in these words:  'My sister, if you are not asleep, I beg you,
before the sun rises, to tell me one of your charming stories.'  Then I
shall begin, and I hope by this means to deliver the people from the
terror that reigns over them." Dinarzade replied that she would do with
pleasure what her sister wished.

When the usual hour arrived the grand-vizir conducted Scheherazade to
the palace, and left her alone with the Sultan, who bade her raise her
veil and was amazed at her beauty.  But seeing her eyes full of tears,
he asked what was the matter.  "Sire," replied Scheherazade, "I have a
sister who loves me as tenderly as I love her.  Grant me the favour of
allowing her to sleep this night in the same room, as it is the last we
shall be together."  Schahriar consented to Scheherazade's petition and
Dinarzade was sent for.

An hour before daybreak Dinarzade awoke, and exclaimed, as she had
promised, "My dear sister, if you are not asleep, tell me I pray you,
before the sun rises, one of your charming stories.  It is the last
time that I shall have the pleasure of hearing you."

Scheherazade did not answer her sister, but turned to the Sultan.
"Will your highness permit me to do as my sister asks?" said she.

"Willingly," he answered.  So Scheherazade began.



The Story of the Merchant and the Genius


Sire, there was once upon a time a merchant who possessed great wealth,
in land and merchandise, as well as in ready money.  He was obliged
from time to time to take journeys to arrange his affairs.  One day,
having to go a long way from home, he mounted his horse, taking with
him a small wallet in which he had put a few biscuits and dates,
because he had to pass through the desert where no food was to be got.
He arrived without any mishap, and, having finished his business, set
out on his return.  On the fourth day of his journey, the heat of the
sun being very great, he turned out of his road to rest under some
trees.  He found at the foot of a large walnut-tree a fountain of clear
and running water.  He dismounted, fastened his horse to a branch of
the tree, and sat by the fountain, after having taken from his wallet
some of his dates and biscuits.  When he had finished this frugal meal
he washed his face and hands in the fountain.

When he was thus employed he saw an enormous genius, white with rage,
coming towards him, with a scimitar in his hand.

"Arise," he cried in a terrible voice, "and let me kill you as you have
killed my son!"

As he uttered these words he gave a frightful yell.  The merchant,
quite as much terrified at the hideous face of the monster as at his
words, answered him tremblingly, "Alas, good sir, what can I have done
to you to deserve death?"

"I shall kill you," repeated the genius, "as you have killed my son."

"But," said the merchant, "how can I have killed your son?  I do not
know him, and I have never even seen him."

"When you arrived here did you not sit down on the ground?" asked the
genius, "and did you not take some dates from your wallet, and whilst
eating them did not you throw the stones about?"

"Yes," said the merchant, "I certainly did so."

"Then," said the genius, "I tell you you have killed my son, for whilst
you were throwing about the stones, my son passed by, and one of them
struck him in the eye and killed him.  So I shall kill you."

"Ah, sir, forgive me!" cried the merchant.

"I will have no mercy on you," answered the genius.

"But I killed your son quite unintentionally, so I implore you to spare
my life."

"No," said the genius, "I shall kill you as you killed my son," and so
saying, he seized the merchant by the arm, threw him on the ground, and
lifted his sabre to cut off his head.

The merchant, protesting his innocence, bewailed his wife and children,
and tried pitifully to avert his fate.  The genius, with his raised
scimitar, waited till he had finished, but was not in the least touched.

Scheherazade, at this point, seeing that it was day, and knowing that
the Sultan always rose very early to attend the council, stopped
speaking.

"Indeed, sister," said Dinarzade, "this is a wonderful story."

"The rest is still more wonderful," replied Scheherazade, "and you
would say so, if the sultan would allow me to live another day, and
would give me leave to tell it to you the next night."

Schahriar, who had been listening to Scheherazade with pleasure, said
to himself, "I will wait till to-morrow; I can always have her killed
when I have heard the end of her story."

All this time the grand-vizir was in a terrible state of anxiety.  But
he was much delighted when he saw the Sultan enter the council-chamber
without giving the terrible command that he was expecting.

The next morning, before the day broke, Dinarzade said to her sister,
"Dear sister, if you are awake I pray you to go on with your story."

The Sultan did not wait for Scheherazade to ask his leave.  "Finish,"
said he, "the story of the genius and the merchant.  I am curious to
hear the end."

So Scheherazade went on with the story.  This happened every morning.
The Sultana told a story, and the Sultan let her live to finish it.

When the merchant saw that the genius was determined to cut off his
head, he said:  "One word more, I entreat you.  Grant me a little
delay; just a short time to go home and bid my wife and children
farewell, and to make my will.  When I have done this I will come back
here, and you shall kill me."

"But," said the genius, "if I grant you the delay you ask, I am afraid
that you will not come back."

"I give you my word of honour," answered the merchant, "that I will
come back without fail."

"How long do you require?" asked the genius.

"I ask you for a year's grace," replied the merchant.  "I promise you
that to-morrow twelvemonth, I shall be waiting under these trees to
give myself up to you."

On this the genius left him near the fountain and disappeared.

The merchant, having recovered from his fright, mounted his horse and
went on his road.

When he arrived home his wife and children received him with the
greatest joy.  But instead of embracing them he began to weep so
bitterly that they soon guessed that something terrible was the matter.

"Tell us, I pray you," said his wife, "what has happened."

"Alas!" answered her husband, "I have only a year to live."

Then he told them what had passed between him and the genius, and how
he had given his word to return at the end of a year to be killed.
When they heard this sad news they were in despair, and wept much.

The next day the merchant began to settle his affairs, and first of all
to pay his debts.  He gave presents to his friends, and large alms to
the poor.  He set his slaves at liberty, and provided for his wife and
children.  The year soon passed away, and he was obliged to depart.
When he tried to say good-bye he was quite overcome with grief, and
with difficulty tore himself away.  At length he reached the place
where he had first seen the genius, on the very day that he had
appointed.  He dismounted, and sat down at the edge of the fountain,
where he awaited the genius in terrible suspense.

Whilst he was thus waiting an old man leading a hind came towards him.
They greeted one another, and then the old man said to him, "May I ask,
brother, what brought you to this desert place, where there are so many
evil genii about?  To see these beautiful trees one would imagine it
was inhabited, but it is a dangerous place to stop long in."

The merchant told the old man why he was obliged to come there.  He
listened in astonishment.

"This is a most marvellous affair.  I should like to be a witness of
your interview with the genius."  So saying he sat down by the merchant.

While they were talking another old man came up, followed by two black
dogs.  He greeted them, and asked what they were doing in this place.
The old man who was leading the hind told him the adventure of the
merchant and the genius.  The second old man had not sooner heard the
story than he, too, decided to stay there to see what would happen.  He
sat down by the others, and was talking, when a third old man arrived.
He asked why the merchant who was with them looked so sad.  They told
him the story, and he also resolved to see what would pass between the
genius and the merchant, so waited with the rest.

They soon saw in the distance a thick smoke, like a cloud of dust.
This smoke came nearer and nearer, and then, all at once, it vanished,
and they saw the genius, who, without speaking to them, approached the
merchant, sword in hand, and, taking him by the arm, said, "Get up and
let me kill you as you killed my son."

The merchant and the three old men began to weep and groan.

Then the old man leading the hind threw himself at the monster's feet
and said, "O Prince of the Genii, I beg of you to stay your fury and to
listen to me.  I am going to tell you my story and that of the hind I
have with me, and if you find it more marvellous than that of the
merchant whom you are about to kill, I hope that you will do away with
a third part of his punishment?"

The genius considered some time, and then he said, "Very well, I agree
to this."



The Story of the First Old Man and of the Hind


I am now going to begin my story (said the old man), so please attend.

This hind that you see with me is my wife.  We have no children of our
own, therefore I adopted the son of a favorite slave, and determined to
make him my heir.

My wife, however, took a great dislike to both mother and child, which
she concealed from me till too late.  When my adopted son was about ten
years old I was obliged to go on a journey.  Before I went I entrusted
to my wife's keeping both the mother and child, and begged her to take
care of them during my absence, which lasted a whole year.  During this
time she studied magic in order to carry out her wicked scheme.  When
she had learnt enough she took my son into a distant place and changed
him into a calf.  Then she gave him to my steward, and told him to look
after a calf she had bought.  She also changed the slave into a cow,
which she sent to my steward.

When I returned I inquired after my slave and the child.  "Your slave
is dead," she said, "and as for your son, I have not seen him for two
months, and I do not know where he is."

I was grieved to hear of my slave's death, but as my son had only
disappeared, I thought I should soon find him.  Eight months, however,
passed, and still no tidings of him; then the feast of Bairam came.

To celebrate it I ordered my steward to bring me a very fat cow to
sacrifice.  He did so.  The cow that he brought was my unfortunate
slave.  I bound her, but just as I was about to kill her she began to
low most piteously, and I saw that her eyes were streaming with tears.
It seemed to me most extraordinary, and, feeling a movement of pity, I
ordered the steward to lead her away and bring another.  My wife, who
was present, scoffed at my compassion, which made her malice of no
avail.  "What are you doing?" she cried.  "Kill this cow.  It is the
best we have to sacrifice."

To please her, I tried again, but again the animal's lows and tears
disarmed me.

"Take her away," I said to the steward, "and kill her; I cannot."

The steward killed her, but on skinning her found that she was nothing
but bones, although she appeared so fat.  I was vexed.

"Keep her for yourself," I said to the steward, "and if you have a fat
calf, bring that in her stead."

In a short time he brought a very fat calf, which, although I did not
know it, was my son.  It tried hard to break its cord and come to me.
It threw itself at my feet, with its head on the ground, as if it
wished to excite my pity, and to beg me not to take away its life.

I was even more surprised and touched at this action than I had been at
the tears of the cow.

"Go," I said to the steward, "take back this calf, take great care of
it, and bring me another in its place instantly."

As soon as my wife heard me speak this she at once cried out, "What are
you doing, husband?  Do not sacrifice any calf but this."

"Wife," I answered, "I will not sacrifice this calf," and in spite of
all her remonstrances, I remained firm.

I had another calf killed; this one was led away.  The next day the
steward asked to speak to me in private.

"I have come," he said, "to tell you some news which I think you will
like to hear.  I have a daughter who knows magic.  Yesterday, when I
was leading back the calf which you refused to sacrifice, I noticed
that she smiled, and then directly afterwards began to cry.  I asked
her why she did so."

"Father," she answered, "this calf is the son of our master.  I smile
with joy at seeing him still alive, and I weep to think of his mother,
who was sacrificed yesterday as a cow.  These changes have been wrought
by our master's wife, who hated the mother and son."

"At these words, of Genius," continued the old man, "I leave you to
imagine my astonishment.  I went immediately with the steward to speak
with his daughter myself.  First of all I went to the stable to see my
son, and he replied in his dumb way to all my caresses.  When the
steward's daughter came I asked her if she could change my son back to
his proper shape."

"Yes, I can," she replied, "on two conditions.  One is that you will
give him to me for a husband, and the other is that you will let me
punish the woman who changed him into a calf."

"To the first condition," I answered, "I agree with all my heart, and I
will give you an ample dowry.  To the second I also agree, I only beg
you to spare her life."

"That I will do," she replied; "I will treat her as she treated your
son."

Then she took a vessel of water and pronounced over it some words I did
not understand; then, on throwing the water over him, he became
immediately a young man once more.

"My son, my dear son," I exclaimed, kissing him in a transport of joy.
"This kind maiden has rescued you from a terrible enchantment, and I am
sure that out of gratitude you will marry her."

He consented joyfully, but before they were married, the young girl
changed my wife into a hind, and it is she whom you see before you.  I
wished her to have this form rather than a stranger one, so that we
could see her in the family without repugnance.

Since then my son has become a widower and has gone travelling.  I am
now going in search of him, and not wishing to confide my wife to the
care of other people, I am taking her with me.  Is this not a most
marvellous tale?

"It is indeed," said the genius, "and because of it I grant to you the
third part of the punishment of this merchant."

When the first old man had finished his story, the second, who was
leading the two black dogs, said to the genius, "I am going to tell you
what happened to me, and I am sure that you will find my story even
more astonishing than the one to which you have just been listening.
But when I have related it, will you grant me also the third part of
the merchant's punishment?"

"Yes," replied the genius, "provided that your story surpasses that of
the hind."

With this agreement the second old man began in this way.



The Story of the Second Old Man, and of the Two Black Dogs


Great prince of the genii, you must know that we are three
brothers--these two black dogs and myself.  Our father died, leaving us
each a thousand sequins.  With this sum we all three took up the same
profession, and became merchants.  A short time after we had opened our
shops, my eldest brother, one of these two dogs, resolved to travel in
foreign countries for the sake of merchandise.  With this intention he
sold all he had and bought merchandise suitable to the voyages he was
about to make.  He set out, and was away a whole year.  At the end of
this time a beggar came to my shop.  "Good-day," I said.  "Good-day,"
he answered; "is it possible that you do not recognise me?"  Then I
looked at him closely and saw he was my brother.  I made him come into
my house, and asked him how he had fared in his enterprise.

"Do not question me," he replied, "see me, you see all I have.  It
would but renew my trouble to tell of all the misfortunes that have
befallen me in a year, and have brought me to this state."

I shut up my shop, paid him every attention, taking him to the bath,
giving him my most beautiful robes.  I examined my accounts, and found
that I had doubled my capital--that is, that I now possessed two
thousand sequins.  I gave my brother half, saying:  "Now, brother, you
can forget your losses."  He accepted them with joy, and we lived
together as we had before.

Some time afterwards my second brother wished also to sell his business
and travel.  My eldest brother and I did all we could to dissuade him,
but it was of no use.  He joined a caravan and set out.  He came back
at the end of a year in the same state as his elder brother.  I took
care of him, and as I had a thousand sequins to spare I gave them to
him, and he re-opened his shop.

One day, my two brothers came to me to propose that we should make a
journey and trade.  At first I refused to go.  "You travelled," I said,
"and what did you gain?"  But they came to me repeatedly, and after
having held out for five years I at last gave way.  But when they had
made their preparation, and they began to buy the merchandise we
needed, they found they had spent every piece of the thousand sequins I
had given them.  I did not reproach them.  I divided my six thousand
sequins with them, giving a thousand to each and keeping one for
myself, and the other three I buried in a corner of my house.  We
bought merchandise, loaded a vessel with it, and set forth with a
favorable wind.

After two months' sailing we arrived at a seaport, where we disembarked
and did a great trade.  Then we bought the merchandise of the country,
and were just going to sail once more, when I was stopped on the shore
by a beautiful though poorly dressed woman.  She came up to me, kissed
my hand, and implored me to marry her, and take her on board.  At first
I refused, but she begged so hard and promised to be such a good wife
to me, that at last I consented.  I got her some beautiful dresses, and
after having married her, we embarked and set sail.  During the voyage,
I discovered so many good qualities in my wife that I began to love her
more and more.  But my brothers began to be jealous of my prosperity,
and set to work to plot against my life.  One night when we were
sleeping they threw my wife and myself into the sea.  My wife, however,
was a fairy, and so she did not let me drown, but transported me to an
island.  When the day dawned, she said to me,

"When I saw you on the sea-shore I took a great fancy to you, and
wished to try your good nature, so I presented myself in the disguise
you saw.  Now I have rewarded you by saving your life.  But I am very
angry with your brothers, and I shall not rest till I have taken their
lives."

I thanked the fairy for all that she had done for me, but I begged her
not to kill my brothers.

I appeased her wrath, and in a moment she transported me from the
island where we were to the roof of my house, and she disappeared a
moment afterwards.  I went down, and opened the doors, and dug up the
three thousand sequins which I had buried.  I went to the place where
my shop was, opened it, and received from my fellow-merchants
congratulations on my return.  When I went home, I saw two black dogs
who came to meet me with sorrowful faces.  I was much astonished, but
the fairy who reappeared said to me,

"Do not be surprised to see these dogs; they are your two brothers.  I
have condemned them to remain for ten years in these shapes." Then
having told me where I could hear news of her, she vanished.

The ten years are nearly passed, and I am on the road to find her.  As
in passing I met this merchant and the old man with the hind, I stayed
with them.

This is my history, O prince of genii!  Do you not think it is a most
marvellous one?

"Yes, indeed," replied the genius, "and I will give up to you the third
of the merchant's punishment."

Then the third old man made the genius the same request as the other
two had done, and the genius promised him the last third of the
merchant's punishment if his story surpassed both the others.

So he told his story to the genius, but I cannot tell you what it was,
as I do not know.

But I do know that it was even more marvellous than either of the
others, so that the genius was astonished, and said to the third old
man, "I will give up to you the third part of the merchant's
punishment.  He ought to thank all three of you for having interested
yourselves in his favour.  But for you, he would be here no longer."

So saying, he disappeared, to the great joy of the company.  The
merchant did not fail to thank his friends, and then each went on his
way.  The merchant returned to his wife and children, and passed the
rest of his days happily with them.

"But, sire," added Scheherazade, "however beautiful are the stories I
have just told you, they cannot compare with the story of the
Fisherman."



The Story of the Fisherman


Sire, there was once upon a time a fisherman so old and so poor that he
could scarcely manage to support his wife and three children.  He went
every day to fish very early, and each day he made a rule not to throw
his nets more than four times.  He started out one morning by moonlight
and came to the sea-shore. He undressed and threw his nets, and as he
was drawing them towards the bank he felt a great weight.  He though he
had caught a large fish, and he felt very pleased.  But a moment
afterwards, seeing that instead of a fish he only had in his nets the
carcase of an ass, he was much disappointed.

Vexed with having such a bad haul, when he had mended his nets, which
the carcase of the ass had broken in several places, he threw them a
second time.  In drawing them in he again felt a great weight, so that
he thought they were full of fish.  But he only found a large basket
full of rubbish.  He was much annoyed.

"O Fortune," he cried, "do not trifle thus with me, a poor fisherman,
who can hardly support his family!"

So saying, he threw away the rubbish, and after having washed his nets
clean of the dirt, he threw them for the third time.  But he only drew
in stones, shells, and mud.  He was almost in despair.

Then he threw his nets for the fourth time.  When he thought he had a
fish he drew them in with a great deal of trouble.  There was no fish
however, but he found a yellow pot, which by its weight seemed full of
something, and he noticed that it was fastened and sealed with lead,
with the impression of a seal.  He was delighted.  "I will sell it to
the founder," he said; "with the money I shall get for it I shall buy a
measure of wheat."

He examined the jar on all sides; he shook it to see if it would
rattle.  But he heard nothing, and so, judging from the impression of
the seal and the lid, he thought there must be something precious
inside.  To find out, he took his knife, and with a little trouble he
opened it.  He turned it upside down, but nothing came out, which
surprised him very much.  He set it in front of him, and whilst he was
looking at it attentively, such a thick smoke came out that he had to
step back a pace or two.  This smoke rose up to the clouds, and
stretching over the sea and the shore, formed a thick mist, which
caused the fisherman much astonishment.  When all the smoke was out of
the jar it gathered itself together, and became a thick mass in which
appeared a genius, twice as large as the largest giant.  When he saw
such a terrible-looking monster, the fisherman would like to have run
away, but he trembled so with fright that he could not move a step.

"Great king of the genii," cried the monster, "I will never again
disobey you!"

At these words the fisherman took courage.

"What is this you are saying, great genius?  Tell me your history and
how you came to be shut up in that vase."

At this, the genius looked at the fisherman haughtily.  "Speak to me
more civilly," he said, "before I kill you."

"Alas! why should you kill me?" cried the fisherman.  "I have just
freed you; have you already forgotten that?"

"No," answered the genius; "but that will not prevent me from killing
you; and I am only going to grant you one favour, and that is to choose
the manner of your death."

"But what have I done to you?" asked the fisherman.

"I cannot treat you in any other way," said the genius, "and if you
would know why, listen to my story.

"I rebelled against the king of the genii.  To punish me, he shut me up
in this vase of copper, and he put on the leaden cover his seal, which
is enchantment enough to prevent my coming out.  Then he had the vase
thrown into the sea.  During the first period of my captivity I vowed
that if anyone should free me before a hundred years were passed, I
would make him rich even after his death.  But that century passed, and
no one freed me.  In the second century I vowed that I would give all
the treasures in the world to my deliverer; but he never came.

"In the third, I promised to make him a king, to be always near him,
and to grant him three wishes every day; but that century passed away
as the other two had done, and I remained in the same plight.  At last
I grew angry at being captive for so long, and I vowed that if anyone
would release me I would kill him at once, and would only allow him to
choose in what manner he should die.  So you see, as you have freed me
to-day, choose in what way you will die."

The fisherman was very unhappy.  "What an unlucky man I am to have
freed you!  I implore you to spare my life."

"I have told you," said the genius, "that it is impossible.  Choose
quickly; you are wasting time."

The fisherman began to devise a plot.

"Since I must die," he said, "before I choose the manner of my death, I
conjure you on your honour to tell me if you really were in that vase?"

"Yes, I was," answered the genius.

"I really cannot believe it," said the fisherman.  "That vase could not
contain one of your feet even, and how could your whole body go in?  I
cannot believe it unless I see you do the thing."

Then the genius began to change himself into smoke, which, as before,
spread over the sea and the shore, and which, then collecting itself
together, began to go back into the vase slowly and evenly till there
was nothing left outside.  Then a voice came from the vase which said
to the fisherman, "Well, unbelieving fisherman, here I am in the vase;
do you believe me now?"

The fisherman instead of answering took the lid of lead and shut it
down quickly on the vase.

"Now, O genius," he cried, "ask pardon of me, and choose by what death
you will die!  But no, it will be better if I throw you into the sea
whence I drew you out, and I will build a house on the shore to warn
fishermen who come to cast their nets here, against fishing up such a
wicked genius as you are, who vows to kill the man who frees you."

At these words the genius did all he could to get out, but he could
not, because of the enchantment of the lid.

Then he tried to get out by cunning.

"If you will take off the cover," he said, "I will repay you."

"No," answered the fisherman, "if I trust myself to you I am afraid you
will treat me as a certain Greek king treated the physician Douban.
Listen, and I will tell you."



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 the king.

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 with joy.

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-vizir 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-vizir, "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 vizir 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 vizir said to King Sindbad."

"This vizir," he replied, "told King Sindbad that one ought not believe
everything that a mother-in-law says, and told him this story."



The Story of the Husband and the Parrot


A good man had a beautiful wife, whom he loved passionately, and never
left if possible.  One day, when he was obliged by important business
to go away from her, he went to a place where all kinds of birds are
sold and bought a parrot.  This parrot not only spoke well, but it had
the gift of telling all that had been done before it.  He brought it
home in a cage, and asked his wife to put it in her room, and take
great care of it while he was away.  Then he departed.  On his return
he asked the parrot what had happened during his absence, and the
parrot told him some things which made him scold his wife.

She thought that one of her slaves must have been telling tales of her,
but they told her it was the parrot, and she resolved to revenge
herself on him.

When her husband next went away for one day, she told on slave to turn
under the bird's cage a hand-mill; another to throw water down from
above the cage, and a third to take a mirror and turn it in front of
its eyes, from left to right by the light of a candle.  The slaves did
this for part of the night, and did it very well.

The next day when the husband came back he asked the parrot what he had
seen.  The bird replied, "My good master, the lightning, thunder and
rain disturbed me so much all night long, that I cannot tell you what I
have suffered."

The husband, who knew that it had neither rained nor thundered in the
night, was convinced that the parrot was not speaking the truth, so he
took him out of the cage and threw him so roughly on the ground that he
killed him.  Nevertheless he was sorry afterwards, for he found that
the parrot had spoken the truth.

"When the Greek king," said the fisherman to the genius, "had finished
the story of the parrot, he added to the vizir, "And so, vizir, I shall
not listen to you, and I shall take care of the physician, in case I
repent as the husband did when he had killed the parrot."  But the
vizir was determined.  "Sire," he replied, "the death of the parrot was
nothing.  But when it is a question of the life of a king it is better
to sacrifice the innocent than save the guilty.  It is no uncertain
thing, however.  The physician, Douban, wishes to assassinate you.  My
zeal prompts me to disclose this to your Majesty.  If I am wrong, I
deserve to be punished as a vizir was once punished."  "What had the
vizir done," said the Greek king, "to merit the punishment?" "I will
tell your Majesty, if you will do me the honour to listen," answered
the vizir."



The Story of the Vizir Who Was Punished


There was once upon a time a king who had a son who was very fond of
hunting.  He often allowed him to indulge in this pastime, but he had
ordered his grand-vizir always to go with him, and never to lose sight
of him.  One day the huntsman roused a stag, and the prince, thinking
that the vizir was behind, gave chase, and rode so hard that he found
himself alone.  He stopped, and having lost sight of it, he turned to
rejoin the vizir, who had not been careful enough to follow him.  But
he lost his way.  Whilst he was trying to find it, he saw on the side
of the road a beautiful lady who was crying bitterly.  He drew his
horse's rein, and asked her who she was and what she was doing in this
place, and if she needed help.  "I am the daughter of an Indian king,"
she answered, "and whilst riding in the country I fell asleep and
tumbled off.  My horse has run away, and I do not know what has become
of him."

The young prince had pity on her, and offered to take her behind him,
which he did.  As they passed by a ruined building the lady dismounted
and went in.  The prince also dismounted and followed her.  To his
great surprise, he heard her saying to some one inside, "Rejoice my
children; I am bringing you a nice fat youth."  And other voices
replied, "Where is he, mamma, that we may eat him at once, as we are
very hungry?"

The prince at once saw the danger he was in.  He now knew that the lady
who said she was the daughter of an Indian king was an ogress, who
lived in desolate places, and who by a thousand wiles surprised and
devoured passers-by. He was terrified, and threw himself on his horse.
The pretended princess appeared at this moment, and seeing that she had
lost her prey, she said to him, "Do not be afraid.  What do you want?"

"I am lost," he answered, "and I am looking for the road."

"Keep straight on," said the ogress, "and you will find it."

The prince could hardly believe his ears, and rode off as hard as he
could.  He found his way, and arrived safe and sound at his father's
house, where he told him of the danger he had run because of the
grand-vizir's carelessness.  The king was very angry, and had him
strangled immediately.

"Sire," went on the vizir to the Greek king, "to return to the
physician, Douban.  If you do not take care, you will repent of having
trusted him.  Who knows what this remedy, with which he has cured you,
may not in time have a bad effect on you?"

The Greek king was naturally very weak, and did not perceive the wicked
intention of his vizir, nor was he firm enough to keep to his first
resolution.

"Well, vizir," he said, "you are right.  Perhaps he did come to take my
life.  He might do it by the mere smell of one of his drugs.  I must
see what can be done."

"The best means, sire, to put your life in security, is to send for him
at once, and to cut off his head directly he comes," said the vizir.

"I really think," replied the king, "that will be the best way."

He then ordered one of his ministers to fetch the physician, who came
at once.

"I have had you sent for," said the king, "in order to free myself from
you by taking your life."

The physician was beyond measure astonished when he heard he was to die.

"What crimes have I committed, your majesty?"

"I have learnt," replied the king, "that you are a spy, and intend to
kill me.  But I will be first, and kill you.  Strike," he added to an
executioner who was by, "and rid me of this assassin."

At this cruel order the physician threw himself on his knees.  "Spare
my life," he cried, "and yours will be spared."

The fisherman stopped here to say to the genius:  "You see what passed
between the Greek king and the physician has just passed between us
two.  The Greek king," he went on, "had no mercy on him, and the
executioner bound his eyes."

All those present begged for his life, but in vain.

The physician on his knees, and bound, said to the king: "At least let
me put my affairs in order, and leave my books to persons who will make
good use of them.  There is one which I should like to present to your
majesty.  It is very precious, and ought to be kept carefully in your
treasury.  It contains many curious things the chief being that when
you cut off my head, if your majesty will turn to the sixth leaf, and
read the third line of the left-hand page, my head will answer all the
questions you like to ask it."

The king, eager to see such a wonderful thing, put off his execution to
the next day, and sent him under a strong guard to his house.  There
the physician put his affairs in order, and the next day there was a
great crowd assembled in the hall to see his death, and the doings
after it.  The physician went up to the foot of the throne with a large
book in his hand.  He carried a basin, on which he spread the covering
of the book, and presenting it to the king, said:  "Sire, take this
book, and when my head is cut off, let it be placed in the basin on the
covering of this book; as soon as it is there, the blood will cease to
flow.  Then open the book, and my head will answer your questions.
But, sire, I implore your mercy, for I am innocent."

"Your prayers are useless, and if it were only to hear your head speak
when you are dead, you should die."

So saying, he took the book from the physician's hands, and ordered the
executioner to do his duty.

The head was so cleverly cut off that it fell into the basin, and
directly the blood ceased to flow.  Then, to the great astonishment of
the king, the eyes opened, and the head said, "Your majesty, open the
book."  The king did so, and finding that the first leaf stuck against
the second, he put his finger in his mouth, to turn it more easily.  He
did the same thing till he reached the sixth page, and not seeing any
writing on it, "Physician," he said, "there is no writing."

"Turn over a few more pages," answered the head.  The king went on
turning, still putting his finger in his mouth, till the poison in
which each page was dipped took effect.  His sight failed him, and he
fell at the foot of his throne.

When the physician's head saw that the poison had taken effect, and
that the king had only a few more minutes to live, "Tyrant," it cried,
"see how cruelty and injustice are punished."

Scarcely had it uttered these words than the king died, and the head
lost also the little life that had remained in it.

That is the end of the story of the Greek king, and now let us return
to the fisherman and the genius.

"If the Greek king," said the fisherman, "had spared the physician, he
would not have thus died.  The same thing applies to you.  Now I am
going to throw you into the sea."

"My friend," said the genius, "do not do such a cruel thing.  Do not
treat me as Imma treated Ateca."

"What did Imma do to Ateca?" asked the fisherman.

"Do you think I can tell you while I am shut up in here?" replied the
genius.  "Let me out, and I will make you rich."

The hope of being no longer poor made the fisherman give way.

"If you will give me your promise to do this, I will open the lid.  I
do not think you will dare to break your word."

The genius promised, and the fisherman lifted the lid.  He came out at
once in smoke, and then, having resumed his proper form, the first
thing he did was to kick the vase into the sea.  This frightened the
fisherman, but the genius laughed and said, "Do not be afraid; I only
did it to frighten you, and to show you that I intend to keep my word;
take your nets and follow me."

He began to walk in front of the fisherman, who followed him with some
misgivings.  They passed in front of the town, and went up a mountain
and then down into a great plain, where there was a large lake lying
between four hills.

When they reached the lake the genius said to the fisherman, "Throw
your nets and catch fish."

The fisherman did as he was told, hoping for a good catch, as he saw
plenty of fish.  What was his astonishment at seeing that there were
four quite different kinds, some white, some red, some blue, and some
yellow.  He caught four, one of each colour.  As he had never seen any
like them he admired them very much, and he was very pleased to think
how much money he would get for them.

"Take these fish and carry them to the Sultan, who will give you more
money for them than you have ever had in your life.  You can come every
day to fish in this lake, but be careful not to throw your nets more
than once every day, otherwise some harm will happen to you.  If you
follow my advice carefully you will find it good."

Saying these words, he struck his foot against the ground, which
opened, and when he had disappeared, it closed immediately.

The fisherman resolved to obey the genius exactly, so he did not cast
his nets a second time, but walked into the town to sell his fish at
the palace.

When the Sultan saw the fish he was much astonished.  He looked at them
one after the other, and when he had admired them long enough, "Take
these fish," he said to his first vizir, "and given them to the clever
cook the Emperor of the Greeks sent me.  I think they must be as good
as they are beautiful."

The vizir took them himself to the cook, saying, "Here are four fish
that have been brought to the Sultan.  He wants you to cook them."

Then he went back to the Sultan, who told him to give the fisherman
four hundred gold pieces.  The fisherman, who had never before
possessed such a large sum of money at once, could hardly believe his
good fortune.  He at once relieved the needs of his family, and made
good use of it.

But now we must return to the kitchen, which we shall find in great
confusion.  The cook, when she had cleaned the fish, put them in a pan
with some oil to fry them.  When she thought them cooked enough on one
side she turned them on the other.  But scarcely had she done so when
the walls of the kitchen opened, and there came out a young and
beautiful damsel.  She was dressed in an Egyptian dress of flowered
satin, and she wore earrings, and a necklace of white pearls, and
bracelets of gold set with rubies, and she held a wand of myrtle in her
hand.

She went up to the pan, to the great astonishment of the cook, who
stood motionless at the sight of her.  She struck one of the fish with
her rod, "Fish, fish," said she, "are you doing your duty?" The fish
answered nothing, and then she repeated her question, whereupon they
all raised their heads together and answered very distinctly, "Yes,
yes.  If you reckon, we reckon.  If you pay your debts, we pay ours.
If you fly, we conquer, and we are content."

When they had spoken the girl upset the pan, and entered the opening in
the wall, which at once closed, and appeared the same as before.

When the cook had recovered from her fright she lifted up the fish
which had fallen into the ashes, but she found them as black as
cinders, and not fit to serve up to the Sultan.  She began to cry.

"Alas! what shall I say to the Sultan?  He will be so angry with me,
and I know he will not believe me!"

Whilst she was crying the grand-vizir came in and asked if the fish
were ready.  She told him all that had happened, and he was much
surprised.  He sent at once for the fisherman, and when he came said to
him, "Fisherman, bring me four more fish like you have brought already,
for an accident has happened to them so that they cannot be served up
to the Sultan."

The fisherman did not say what the genius had told him, but he excused
himself from bringing them that day on account of the length of the
way, and he promised to bring them next day.

In the night he went to the lake, cast his nets, and on drawing them in
found four fish, which were like the others, each of a different colour.

He went back at once and carried them to the grand-vizir as he had
promised.

He then took them to the kitchen and shut himself up with the cook, who
began to cook them as she had done the four others on the previous day.
When she was about to turn them on the other side, the wall opened, the
damsel appeared, addressed the same words to the fish, received the
same answer, and then overturned the pan and disappeared.

The grand-vizir was filled with astonishment.  "I shall tell the Sultan
all that has happened," said he.  And he did so.

The Sultan was very much astounded, and wished to see this marvel for
himself.  So he sent for the fisherman, and asked him to procure four
more fish.  The fisherman asked for three days, which were granted, and
he then cast his nets in the lake, and again caught four different
coloured fish.  The sultan was delighted to see he had got them, and
gave him again four hundred gold pieces.

As soon as the Sultan had the fish he had them carried to his room with
all that was needed to cook them.

Then he shut himself up with the grand-vizir, who began to prepare them
and cook them.  When they were done on one side he turned them over on
the other.  Then the wall of the room opened, but instead of the maiden
a black slave came out.  He was enormously tall, and carried a large
green stick with which he touched the fish, saying in a terrible voice,
"Fish, fish, are you doing your duty?" To these words the fish lifting
up their heads replied, "Yes, yes.  If you reckon, we reckon.  If you
pay your debts, we pay ours.  If you fly, we conquer, and are content."

The black slave overturned the pan in the middle of the room, and the
fish were turned to cinders.  Then he stepped proudly back into the
wall, which closed round him.

"After having seen this," said the Sultan, "I cannot rest.  These fish
signify some mystery I must clear up."

He sent for the fisherman.  "Fisherman," he said, "the fish you have
brought us have caused me some anxiety.  Where did you get them from?"

"Sire," he answered, "I got them from a lake which lies in the middle
of four hills beyond yonder mountains."

"Do you know this lake?" asked the Sultan of the grand-vizir.

"No; though I have hunted many times round that mountain, I have never
heard of it," said the vizir.

As the fisherman said it was only three hours' journey away, the sultan
ordered his whole court to mount and ride thither, and the fisherman
led them.

They climbed the mountain, and then, on the other side, saw the lake as
the fisherman had described.  The water was so clear that they could
see the four kinds of fish swimming about in it.  They looked at them
for some time, and then the Sultan ordered them to make a camp by the
edge of the water.

When night came the Sultan called his vizir, and said to him, "I have
resolved to clear up this mystery.  I am going out alone, and do you
stay here in my tent, and when my ministers come to-morrow, say I am
not well, and cannot see them.  Do this each day till I return."

The grand-vizir tried to persuade the Sultan not to go, but in vain.
The Sultan took off his state robe and put on his sword, and when he
saw all was quiet in the camp he set forth alone.

He climbed one of the hills, and then crossed the great plain, till,
just as the sun rose, he beheld far in front of him a large building.
When he came near to it he saw it was a splendid palace of beautiful
black polished marble, covered with steel as smooth as a mirror.

He went to the gate, which stood half open, and went in, as nobody came
when he knocked.  He passed through a magnificent courtyard and still
saw no one, though he called aloud several times.

He entered large halls where the carpets were of silk, the lounges and
sofas covered with tapestry from Mecca, and the hangings of the most
beautiful Indian stuffs of gold and silver.  Then he found himself in a
splendid room, with a fountain supported by golden lions.  The water
out of the lions' mouths turned into diamonds and pearls, and the
leaping water almost touched a most beautifully-painted dome.  The
palace was surrounded on three sides by magnificent gardens, little
lakes, and woods.  Birds sang in the trees, which were netted over to
keep them always there.

Still the Sultan saw no one, till he heard a plaintive cry, and a voice
which said, "Oh that I could die, for I am too unhappy to wish to live
any longer!"

The Sultan looked round to discover who it was who thus bemoaned his
fate, and at last saw a handsome young man, richly clothed, who was
sitting on a throne raised slightly from the ground.  His face was very
sad.

The sultan approached him and bowed to him.  The young man bent his
head very low, but did not rise.

"Sire," he said to the Sultan, "I cannot rise and do you the reverence
that I am sure should be paid to your rank."

"Sir," answered the Sultan, "I am sure you have a good reason for not
doing so, and having heard your cry of distress, I am come to offer you
my help.  Whose is this palace, and why is it thus empty?"

Instead of answering the young man lifted up his robe, and showed the
Sultan that, from the waist downwards, he was a block of black marble.

The Sultan was horrified, and begged the young man to tell him his
story.

"Willingly I will tell you my sad history," said the young man.



The Story of the Young King of the Black Isles


You must know, sire, that my father was Mahmoud, the king of this
country, the Black Isles, so called from the four little mountains
which were once islands, while the capital was the place where now the
great lake lies.  My story will tell you how these changes came about.

My father died when he was sixty-six, and I succeeded him.  I married
my cousin, whom I loved tenderly, and I thought she loved me too.

But one afternoon, when I was half asleep, and was being fanned by two
of her maids, I heard one say to the other, "What a pity it is that our
mistress no longer loves our master!  I believe she would like to kill
him if she could, for she is an enchantress."

I soon found by watching that they were right, and when I mortally
wounded a favourite slave of hers for a great crime, she begged that
she might build a palace in the garden, where she wept and bewailed him
for two years.

At last I begged her to cease grieving for him, for although he could
not speak or move, by her enchantments she just kept him alive.  She
turned upon me in a rage, and said over me some magic words, and I
instantly became as you see me now, half man and half marble.

Then this wicked enchantress changed the capital, which was a very
populous and flourishing city, into the lake and desert plain you saw.
The fish of four colours which are in it are the different races who
lived in the town; the four hills are the four islands which give the
name to my kingdom.  All this the enchantress told me to add to my
troubles.  And this is not all.  Every day she comes and beats me with
a whip of buffalo hide.

When the young king had finished his sad story he burst once more into
tears, and the Sultan was much moved.

"Tell me," he cried, "where is this wicked woman, and where is the
miserable object of her affection, whom she just manages to keep alive?"

"Where she lives I do not know," answered the unhappy prince, "but she
goes every day at sunrise to see if the slave can yet speak to her,
after she has beaten me."

"Unfortunate king," said the Sultan, "I will do what I can to avenge
you."

So he consulted with the young king over the best way to bring this
about, and they agreed their plan should be put in effect the next day.
The Sultan then rested, and the young king gave himself up to happy
hopes of release.  The next day the Sultan arose, and then went to the
palace in the garden where the black slave was.  He drew his sword and
destroyed the little life that remained in him, and then threw the body
down a well.  He then lay down on the couch where the slave had been,
and waited for the enchantress.

She went first to the young king, whom she beat with a hundred blows.

Then she came to the room where she thought her wounded slave was, but
where the Sultan really lay.

She came near his couch and said, "Are you better to-day, my dear
slave?  Speak but one word to me."

"How can I be better," answered the Sultan, imitating the language of
the Ethiopians, "when I can never sleep for the cries and groans of
your husband?"

"What joy to hear you speak!" answered the queen.  "Do you wish him to
regain his proper shape?"

"Yes," said the Sultan; "hasten to set him at liberty, so that I may no
longer hear his cries."

The queen at once went out and took a cup of water, and said over it
some words that made it boil as if it were on the fire.  Then she threw
it over the prince, who at once regained his own form.  He was filled
with joy, but the enchantress said, "Hasten away from this place and
never come back, lest I kill you."

So he hid himself to see the end of the Sultan's plan.

The enchantress went back to the Palace of Tears and said, "Now I have
done what you wished."

"What you have done," said the Sultan, "is not enough to cure me.
Every day at midnight all the people whom you have changed into fish
lift their heads out of the lake and cry for vengeance.  Go quickly,
and give them their proper shape."

The enchantress hurried away and said some words over the lake.

The fish then became men, women, and children, and the houses and shops
were once more filled.  The Sultan's suite, who had encamped by the
lake, were not a little astonished to see themselves in the middle of a
large and beautiful town.

As soon as she had disenchanted it the queen went back to the palace.

"Are you quite well now?" she said.

"Come near," said the Sultan.  "Nearer still."

She obeyed.  Then he sprang up, and with one blow of his sword he cut
her in two.

Then he went and found the prince.

"Rejoice," he said, "your cruel enemy is dead."

The prince thanked him again and again.

"And now," said the Sultan.  "I will go back to my capital, which I am
glad to find is so near yours."

"So near mine!" said the King of the Black Isles.

"Do you know it is a whole year's journey from here?  You came here in
a few hours because it was enchanted.  But I will accompany you on your
journey."

"It will give me much pleasure if you will escort me," said the Sultan,
"and as I have no children, I will make you my heir."

The Sultan and the prince set out together, the Sultan laden with rich
presents from the King of the Black Isles.

The day after he reached his capital the Sultan assembled his court and
told them all that had befallen him, and told them how he intended to
adopt the young king as his heir.

Then he gave each man presents in proportion to his rank.

As for the fisherman, as he was the first cause of the deliverance of
the young prince, the Sultan gave him much money, and made him and his
family happy for the rest of their days.



The Story of the Three Calenders, Sons of Kings,
  and of Five Ladies of Bagdad


In the reign of the Caliph Haroun-al-Raschid, there lived at Bagdad a
porter who, in spite of his humble calling, was an intelligent and
sensible man.  One morning he was sitting in his usual place with his
basket before him, waiting to be hired, when a tall young lady, covered
with a long muslin veil, came up to him and said, "Pick up your basket
and follow me."  The porter, who was greatly pleased by her appearance
and voice, jumped up at once, poised his basket on his head, and
accompanied the lady, saying to himself as he went, "Oh, happy day!
Oh, lucky meeting!"

The lady soon stopped before a closed door, at which she knocked.  It
was opened by an old man with a long white beard, to whom the lady held
out money without speaking.  The old man, who seemed to understand what
she wanted, vanished into the house, and returned bringing a large jar
of wine, which the porter placed in his basket.  Then the lady signed
to him to follow, and they went their way.

The next place she stopped at was a fruit and flower shop, and here she
bought a large quantity of apples, apricots, peaches, and other things,
with lilies, jasmine, and all sorts of sweet-smelling plants.  From
this shop she went to a butcher's, a grocer's, and a poulterer's, till
at last the porter exclaimed in despair, "My good lady, if you had only
told me you were going to buy enough provisions to stock a town, I
would have brought a horse, or rather a camel." The lady laughed, and
told him she had not finished yet, but after choosing various kinds of
scents and spices from a druggist's store, she halted before a
magnificent palace, at the door of which she knocked gently.  The
porteress who opened it was of such beauty that the eyes of the man
were quite dazzled, and he was the more astonished as he saw clearly
that she was no slave.  The lady who had led him hither stood watching
him with amusement, till the porteress exclaimed, "Why don't you come
in, my sister?  This poor man is so heavily weighed down that he is
ready to drop."

When they were both inside the door was fastened, and they all three
entered a large court, surrounded by an open-work gallery.  At one end
of the court was a platform, and on the platform stood an amber throne
supported by four ebony columns, garnished with pearls and diamonds.
In the middle of the court stood a marble basin filled with water from
the mouth of a golden lion.

The porter looked about him, noticing and admiring everything; but his
attention was specially attracted by a third lady sitting on the
throne, who was even more beautiful than the other two.  By the respect
shown to her by the others, he judged that she must be the eldest, and
in this he was right.  This lady's name was Zobeida, the porteress was
Sadie, and the housekeeper was Amina.  At a word from Zobeida, Sadie
and Amina took the basket from the porter, who was glad enough to be
relieved from its weight; and when it was emptied, paid him handsomely
for its use.  But instead of taking up his basket and going away, the
man still lingered, till Zobeida inquired what he was waiting for, and
if he expected more money.  "Oh, madam," returned he, "you have already
given me too much, and I fear I may have been guilty of rudeness in not
taking my departure at once.  But, if you will pardon my saying so, I
was lost in astonishment at seeing such beautiful ladies by themselves.
A company of women without men is, however, as dull as a company of men
without women."  And after telling some stories to prove his point, he
ended by entreating them to let him stay and make a fourth at their
dinner.

The ladies were rather amused at the man's assurances and after some
discussion it was agreed that he should be allowed to stay, as his
society might prove entertaining.  "But listen, friend," said Zobeida,
"if we grant your request, it is only on condition that you behave with
the utmost politeness, and that you keep the secret of our way of
living, which chance has revealed to you." Then they all sat down to
table, which had been covered by Amina with the dishes she had bought.

After the first few mouthfuls Amina poured some wine into a golden cup.
She first drank herself, according to the Arab custom, and then filled
it for her sisters.  When it came to the porter's turn he kissed
Amina's hand, and sang a song, which he composed at the moment in
praise of the wine.  The three ladies were pleased with the song, and
then sang themselves, so that the repast was a merry one, and lasted
much longer than usual.

At length, seeing that the sun was about to set, Sadia said to the
porter, "Rise and go; it is now time for us to separate."

"Oh, madam," replied he, "how can you desire me to quit you in the
state in which I am?  Between the wine I have drunk, and the pleasure
of seeing you, I should never find the way to my house.  Let me remain
here till morning, and when I have recovered my senses I will go when
you like."

"Let him stay," said Amina, who had before proved herself his friend.
"It is only just, as he has given us so much amusement."

"If you wish it, my sister," replied Zobeida; "but if he does, I must
make a new condition.  Porter," she continued, turning to him, "if you
remain, you must promise to ask no questions about anything you may
see.  If you do, you may perhaps hear what you don't like."

This being settled, Amina brought in supper, and lit up the hall with a
number of sweet smelling tapers.  They then sat down again at the
table, and began with fresh appetites to eat, drink, sing, and recite
verses.  In fact, they were all enjoying themselves mightily when they
heard a knock at the outer door, which Sadie rose to open.  She soon
returned saying that three Calenders, all blind in the right eye, and
all with their heads, faces, and eyebrows clean shaved, begged for
admittance, as they were newly arrived in Bagdad, and night had already
fallen.  "They seem to have pleasant manners," she added, "but you have
no idea how funny they look.  I am sure we should find their company
diverting."

Zobeida and Amina made some difficulty about admitting the new comers,
and Sadie knew the reason of their hesitation.  But she urged the
matter so strongly that Zobeida was at last forced to consent.  "Bring
them in, then," said she, "but make them understand that they are not
to make remarks about what does not concern them, and be sure to make
them read the inscription over the door." For on the door was written
in letters of gold, "Whoso meddles in affairs that are no business of
his, will hear truths that will not please him."

The three Calenders bowed low on entering, and thanked the ladies for
their kindness and hospitality.  The ladies replied with words of
welcome, and they were all about to seat themselves when the eyes of
the Calenders fell on the porter, whose dress was not so very unlike
their own, though he still wore all the hair that nature had given him.
"This," said one of them, "is apparently one of our Arab brothers, who
has rebelled against our ruler."

The porter, although half asleep from the wine he had drunk, heard the
words, and without moving cried angrily to the Calender, "Sit down and
mind your own business.  Did you not read the inscription over the
door?  Everybody is not obliged to live in the same way."

"Do not be so angry, my good man," replied the Calender; "we should be
very sorry to displease you;" so the quarrel was smoothed over, and
supper began in good earnest.  When the Calenders had satisfied their
hunger, they offered to play to their hostesses, if there were any
instruments in the house.  The ladies were delighted at the idea, and
Sadie went to see what she could find, returning in a few moments laden
with two different kinds of flutes and a tambourine.  Each Calender
took the one he preferred, and began to play a well-known air, while
the ladies sang the words of the song.  These words were the gayest and
liveliest possible, and every now and then the singers had to stop to
indulge the laughter which almost choked them.  In the midst of all
their noise, a knock was heard at the door.

Now early that evening the Caliph secretly left the palace, accompanied
by his grand-vizir, Giafar, and Mesrour, chief of the eunuchs, all
three wearing the dresses of merchants.  Passing down the street, the
Caliph had been attracted by the music of instruments and the sound of
laughter, and had ordered his vizir to go and knock at the door of the
house, as he wished to enter.  The vizir replied that the ladies who
lived there seemed to be entertaining their friends, and he thought his
master would do well not to intrude on them; but the Caliph had taken
it into his head to see for himself, and insisted on being obeyed.

The knock was answered by Sadie, with a taper in her hand, and the
vizir, who was surprised at her beauty, bowed low before her, and said
respectfully, "Madam, we are three merchants who have lately arrived
from Moussoul, and, owing to a misadventure which befel us this very
night, only reached our inn to find that the doors were closed to us
till to-morrow morning.  Not knowing what to do, we wandered in the
streets till we happened to pass your house, when, seeing lights and
hearing the sound of voices, we resolved to ask you to give us shelter
till the dawn.  If you will grant us this favour, we will, with your
permission, do all in our power to help you spend the time pleasantly."

Sadie answered the merchant that she must first consult her sisters;
and after having talked over the matter with them, she returned to tell
him that he and his two friends would be welcome to join their company.
They entered and bowed politely to the ladies and their guests.  Then
Zobeida, as the mistress, came forward and said gravely, "You are
welcome here, but I hope you will allow me to beg one thing of
you--have as many eyes as you like, but no tongues; and ask no
questions about anything you see, however strange it may appear to you."

"Madam," returned the vizir, "you shall be obeyed.  We have quite
enough to please and interest us without troubling ourselves about that
with which we have no concern."  Then they all sat down, and drank to
the health of the new comers.

While the vizir, Giafar, was talking to the ladies the Caliph was
occupied in wondering who they could be, and why the three Calenders
had each lost his right eye.  He was burning to inquire the reason of
it all, but was silenced by Zobeida's request, so he tried to rouse
himself and to take his part in the conversation, which was very
lively, the subject of discussion being the many different sorts of
pleasures that there were in the world.  After some time the Calenders
got up and performed some curious dances, which delighted the rest of
the company.

When they had finished Zobeida rose from her seat, and, taking Amina by
the hand, she said to her, "My sister, our friends will excuse us if we
seem to forget their presence and fulfil our nightly task." Amina
understood her sister's meaning, and collecting the dishes, glasses,
and musical instruments, she carried them away, while Sadie swept the
hall and put everything in order.  Having done this she begged the
Calenders to sit on a sofa on one side of the room, and the Caliph and
his friends to place themselves opposite.  As to the porter, she
requested him to come and help her and her sister.

Shortly after Amina entered carrying a seat, which she put down in the
middle of the empty space.  She next went over to the door of a closet
and signed to the porter to follow her.  He did so, and soon reappeared
leading two black dogs by a chain, which he brought into the centre of
the hall.  Zobeida then got up from her seat between the Calenders and
the Caliph and walked slowly across to where the porter stood with the
dogs.  "We must do our duty," she said with a deep sigh, pushing back
her sleeves, and, taking a whip from Sadie, she said to the man, "Take
one of those dogs to my sister Amina and give me the other."

The porter did as he was bid, but as he led the dog to Zobeida it
uttered piercing howls, and gazed up at her with looks of entreaty.
But Zobeida took no notice, and whipped the dog till she was out of
breath.  She then took the chain from the porter, and, raising the dog
on its hind legs, they looked into each other's eyes sorrowfully till
tears began to fall from both.  Then Zobeida took her handkerchief and
wiped the dog's eyes tenderly, after which she kissed it, then, putting
the chain into the porter's hand she said, "Take it back to the closet
and bring me the other."

The same ceremony was gone through with the second dog, and all the
while the whole company looked on with astonishment.  The Caliph in
particular could hardly contain himself, and made signs to the vizir to
ask what it all meant.  But the vizir pretended not to see, and turned
his head away.

Zobeida remained for some time in the middle of the room, till at last
Sadie went up to her and begged her to sit down, as she also had her
part to play.  At these words Amina fetched a lute from a case of
yellow satin and gave it to Sadie, who sang several songs to its
accompaniment.  When she was tired she said to Amina, "My sister, I can
do no more; come, I pray you, and take my place."

Amina struck a few chords and then broke into a song, which she sang
with so much ardour that she was quite overcome, and sank gasping on a
pile of cushions, tearing open her dress as she did so to give herself
some air.  To the amazement of all present, her neck, instead of being
as smooth and white as her face, was a mass of scars.

The Calenders and the Caliph looked at each other, and whispered
together, unheard by Zobeida and Sadie, who were tending their fainting
sister.

"What does it all mean?' asked the Caliph.

"We know no more than you," said the Calender to whom he had spoken.

"What!  You do not belong to the house?"

"My lord," answered all the Calenders together, "we came here for the
first time an hour before you."

They then turned to the porter to see if he could explain the mystery,
but the porter was no wiser than they were themselves.  At length the
Caliph could contain his curiosity no longer, and declared that he
would compel the ladies to tell them the meaning of their strange
conduct.  The vizir, foreseeing what would happen, implored him to
remember the condition their hostesses had imposed, and added in a
whisper that if his Highness would only wait till morning he could as
Caliph summon the ladies to appear before him.  But the Caliph, who was
not accustomed to be contradicted, rejected this advice, and it was
resolved after a little more talking that the question should be put by
the porter.  Suddenly Zobeida turned round, and seeing their excitement
she said, "What is the matter--what are you all discussing so
earnestly?"

"Madam," answered the porter, "these gentlemen entreat you to explain
to them why you should first whip the dogs and then cry over them, and
also how it happens that the fainting lady is covered with scars.  They
have requested me, Madam, to be their mouthpiece."


"Is it true, gentlemen," asked Zobeida, drawing herself up, "that you
have charged this man to put me that question?"

"It is," they all replied, except Giafar, who was silent.

"Is this," continued Zobeida, growing more angry every moment, "is this
the return you make for the hospitality I have shown you?  Have you
forgotten the one condition on which you were allowed to enter the
house?  Come quickly," she added, clapping her hands three times, and
the words were hardly uttered when seven black slaves, each armed with
a sabre, burst in and stood over the seven men, throwing them on the
ground, and preparing themselves, on a sign from their mistress, to cut
off their heads.

The seven culprits all thought their last hour had come, and the Caliph
repented bitterly that he had not taken the vizir's advice.  But they
made up their minds to die bravely, all except the porter, who loudly
inquired of Zobeida why he was to suffer for other people's faults, and
declared that these misfortunes would never have happened if it had not
been for the Calenders, who always brought ill-luck. He ended by
imploring Zobeida not to confound the innocent with the guilty and to
spare his life.

In spite of her anger, there was something so comic in the groans of
the porter that Zobeida could not refrain from laughing.  But putting
him aside she addressed the others a second time, saying, "Answer me;
who are you?  Unless you tell me truly you have not another moment to
live.  I can hardly think you are men of any position, whatever country
you belong to.  If you were, you would have had more consideration for
us."

The Caliph, who was naturally very impatient, suffered far more than
either of the others at feeling that his life was at the mercy of a
justly offended lady, but when he heard her question he began to
breathe more freely, for he was convinced that she had only to learn
his name and rank for all danger to be over.  So he whispered hastily
to the vizir, who was next to him, to reveal their secret.  But the
vizir, wiser than his master, wished to conceal from the public the
affront they had received, and merely answered, "After all, we have
only got what we deserved."

Meanwhile Zobeida had turned to the three Calenders and inquired if, as
they were all blind, they were brothers.

"No, madam," replied one, "we are no blood relations at all, only
brothers by our mode of life."

"And you," she asked, addressing another, "were you born blind of one
eye?"

"No, madam," returned he, "I became blind through a most surprising
adventure, such as probably has never happened to anybody.  After that
I shaved my head and eyebrows and put on the dress in which you see me
now."

Zobeida put the same question to the other two Calenders, and received
the same answer.

"But," added the third, "it may interest you, madam, to know that we
are not men of low birth, but are all three sons of kings, and of
kings, too, whom the world holds in high esteem."

At these words Zobeida's anger cooled down, and she turned to her
slaves and said, "You can give them a little more liberty, but do not
leave the hall.  Those that will tell us their histories and their
reasons for coming here shall be allowed to leave unhurt; those who
refuse--" And she paused, but in a moment the porter, who understood
that he had only to relate his story to set himself free from this
terrible danger, immediately broke in,

"Madam, you know already how I came here, and what I have to say will
soon be told.  Your sister found me this morning in the place where I
always stand waiting to be hired.  She bade me follow her to various
shops, and when my basket was quite full we returned to this house,
when you had the goodness to permit me to remain, for which I shall be
eternally grateful.  That is my story."

He looked anxiously to Zobeida, who nodded her head and said, "You can
go; and take care we never meet again."

"Oh, madam," cried the porter, "let me stay yet a little while.  It is
not just that the others should have heard my story and that I should
not hear theirs," and without waiting for permission he seated himself
on the end of the sofa occupied by the ladies, whilst the rest crouched
on the carpet, and the slaves stood against the wall.

Then one of the Calenders, addressing himself to Zobeida as the
principal lady, began his story.



The Story of the First Calender, Son of a King


In order, madam, to explain how I came to lose my right eye, and to
wear the dress of a Calender, you must first know that I am the son of
a king.  My father's only brother reigned over the neighbouring
country, and had two children, a daughter and a son, who were of the
same age as myself.

As I grew up, and was allowed more liberty, I went every year to pay a
visit to my uncle's court, and usually stayed there about two months.
In this way my cousin and I became very intimate, and were much
attached to each other.  The very last time I saw him he seemed more
delighted to see me than ever, and gave a great feast in my honour.
When we had finished eating, he said to me, "My cousin, you would never
guess what I have been doing since your last visit to us!  Directly
after your departure I set a number of men to work on a building after
my own design.  It is now completed, and ready to be lived in.  I
should like to show it to you, but you must first swear two things: to
be faithful to me, and to keep my secret."

Of course I did not dream of refusing him anything he asked, and gave
the promise without the least hesitation.  He then bade me wait an
instant, and vanished, returning in a few moments with a richly dressed
lady of great beauty, but as he did not tell me her name, I thought it
was better not to inquire.  We all three sat down to table and amused
ourselves with talking of all sorts of indifferent things, and with
drinking each other's health.  Suddenly the prince said to me, "Cousin,
we have no time to lose; be so kind as to conduct this lady to a
certain spot, where you will find a dome-like tomb, newly built.  You
cannot mistake it.  Go in, both of you, and wait till I come.  I shall
not be long."

As I had promised I prepared to do as I was told, and giving my hand to
the lady, I escorted her, by the light of the moon, to the place of
which the prince had spoken.  We had barely reached it when he joined
us himself, carrying a small vessel of water, a pickaxe, and a little
bag containing plaster.

With the pickaxe he at once began to destroy the empty sepulchre in the
middle of the tomb.  One by one he took the stones and piled them up in
a corner.  When he had knocked down the whole sepulchre he proceeded to
dig at the earth, and beneath where the sepulchre had been I saw a
trap-door. He raised the door and I caught sight of the top of a spiral
staircase; then he said, turning to the lady, "Madam, this is the way
that will lead you down to the spot which I told you of."

The lady did not answer, but silently descended the staircase, the
prince following her.  At the top, however, he looked at me.  "My
cousin," he exclaimed, "I do not know how to thank you for your
kindness.  Farewell."

"What do you mean?"  I cried.  "I don't understand."

"No matter," he replied, "go back by the path that you came."

He would say no more, and, greatly puzzled, I returned to my room in
the palace and went to bed.  When I woke, and considered my adventure,
I thought that I must have been dreaming, and sent a servant to ask if
the prince was dressed and could see me.  But on hearing that he had
not slept at home I was much alarmed, and hastened to the cemetery,
where, unluckily, the tombs were all so alike that I could not discover
which was the one I was in search of, though I spent four days in
looking for it.

You must know that all this time the king, my uncle, was absent on a
hunting expedition, and as no one knew when he would be back, I at last
decided to return home, leaving the ministers to make my excuses.  I
longed to tell them what had become of the prince, about whose fate
they felt the most dreadful anxiety, but the oath I had sworn kept me
silent.

On my arrival at my father's capital, I was astonished to find a large
detachment of guards drawn up before the gate of the palace; they
surrounded me directly I entered.  I asked the officers in command the
reason of this strange behaviour, and was horrified to learn that the
army had mutinied and put to death the king, my father, and had placed
the grand-vizir on the throne.  Further, that by his orders I was
placed under arrest.

Now this rebel vizir had hated me from my boy-hood, because once, when
shooting at a bird with a bow, I had shot out his eye by accident.  Of
course I not only sent a servant at once to offer him my regrets and
apologies, but I made them in person.  It was all of no use.  He
cherished an undying hatred towards me, and lost no occasion of showing
it.  Having once got me in his power I felt he could show no mercy, and
I was right.  Mad with triumph and fury he came to me in my prison and
tore out my right eye.  That is how I lost it.

My persecutor, however, did not stop here.  He shut me up in a large
case and ordered his executioner to carry me into a desert place, to
cut off my head, and then to abandon my body to the birds of prey.  The
case, with me inside it, was accordingly placed on a horse, and the
executioner, accompanied by another man, rode into the country until
they found a spot suitable for the purpose.  But their hearts were not
so hard as they seemed, and my tears and prayers made them waver.

"Forsake the kingdom instantly," said the executioner at last, "and
take care never to come back, for you will not only lose your head, but
make us lose ours."  I thanked him gratefully, and tried to console
myself for the loss of my eye by thinking of the other misfortunes I
had escaped.


After all I had gone through, and my fear of being recognised by some
enemy, I could only travel very slowly and cautiously, generally
resting in some out-of-the-way place by day, and walking as far as I
was able by night, but at length I arrived in the kingdom of my uncle,
of whose protection I was sure.

I found him in great trouble about the disappearance of his son, who
had, he said, vanished without leaving a trace; but his own grief did
not prevent him sharing mine.  We mingled our tears, for the loss of
one was the loss of the other, and then I made up my mind that it was
my duty to break the solemn oath I had sworn to the prince.  I
therefore lost no time in telling my uncle everything I knew, and I
observed that even before I had ended his sorrow appeared to be
lightened a little.

"My dear nephew," he said, "your story gives me some hope.  I was aware
that my son was building a tomb, and I think I can find the spot.  But
as he wished to keep the matter secret, let us go alone and seek the
place ourselves."

He then bade me disguise myself, and we both slipped out of a garden
door which opened on to the cemetery.  It did not take long for us to
arrive at the scene of the prince's disappearance, or to discover the
tomb I had sought so vainly before.  We entered it, and found the
trap-door which led to the staircase, but we had great difficulty in
raising it, because the prince had fastened it down underneath with the
plaster he had brought with him.

My uncle went first, and I followed him.  When we reached the bottom of
the stairs we stepped into a sort of ante-room, filled with such a
dense smoke that it was hardly possible to see anything.  However, we
passed through the smoke into a large chamber, which at first seemed
quite empty.  The room was brilliantly lighted, and in another moment
we perceived a sort of platform at one end, on which were the bodies of
the prince and a lady, both half-burned, as if they had been dragged
out of a fire before it had quite consumed them.

This horrible sight turned me faint, but, to my surprise, my uncle did
not show so much surprise as anger.

"I knew," he said, "that my son was tenderly attached to this lady,
whom it was impossible he should ever marry.  I tried to turn his
thoughts, and presented to him the most beautiful princesses, but he
cared for none of them, and, as you see, they have now been united by a
horrible death in an underground tomb."  But, as he spoke, his anger
melted into tears, and again I wept with him.

When he recovered himself he drew me to him.  "My dear nephew," he
said, embracing me, "you have come to me to take his place, and I will
do my best to forget that I ever had a son who could act in so wicked a
manner."  Then he turned and went up the stairs.

We reached the palace without anyone having noticed our absence, when,
shortly after, a clashing of drums, and cymbals, and the blare of
trumpets burst upon our astonished ears.  At the same time a thick
cloud of dust on the horizon told of the approach of a great army.  My
heart sank when I perceived that the commander was the vizir who had
dethroned my father, and was come to seize the kingdom of my uncle.

The capital was utterly unprepared to stand a siege, and seeing that
resistance was useless, at once opened its gates.  My uncle fought hard
for his life, but was soon overpowered, and when he fell I managed to
escape through a secret passage, and took refuge with an officer whom I
knew I could trust.

Persecuted by ill-fortune, and stricken with grief, there seemed to be
only one means of safety left to me.  I shaved my beard and my
eyebrows, and put on the dress of a calender, in which it was easy for
me to travel without being known.  I avoided the towns till I reached
the kingdom of the famous and powerful Caliph, Haroun-al-Raschid, when
I had no further reason to fear my enemies.  It was my intention to
come to Bagdad and to throw myself at the feet of his Highness, who
would, I felt certain, be touched by my sad story, and would grant me,
besides, his help and protection.

After a journey which lasted some months I arrived at length at the
gates of this city.  It was sunset, and I paused for a little to look
about me, and to decide which way to turn my steps.  I was still
debating on this subject when I was joined by this other calender, who
stopped to greet me.  "You, like me, appear to be a stranger," I said.
He replied that I was right, and before he could say more the third
calender came up.  He, also, was newly arrived in Bagdad, and being
brothers in misfortune, we resolved to cast in our lots together, and
to share whatever fate might have in store.

By this time it had grown late, and we did not know where to spend the
night.  But our lucky star having guided us to this door, we took the
liberty of knocking and of asking for shelter, which was given to us at
once with the best grace in the world.

This, madam, is my story.

"I am satisfied," replied Zobeida; "you can go when you like."

The calender, however, begged leave to stay and to hear the histories
of his two friends and of the three other persons of the company, which
he was allowed to do.



The Story of the Second Calendar, Son of a King


"Madam," said the young man, addressing Zobeida, "if you wish to know
how I lost my right eye, I shall have to tell you the story of my whole
life."

I was scarcely more than a baby, when the king my father, finding me
unusually quick and clever for my age, turned his thoughts to my
education.  I was taught first to read and write, and then to learn the
Koran, which is the basis of our holy religion, and the better to
understand it, I read with my tutors the ablest commentators on its
teaching, and committed to memory all the traditions respecting the
Prophet, which have been gathered from the mouth of those who were his
friends.  I also learnt history, and was instructed in poetry,
versification, geography, chronology, and in all the outdoor exercises
in which every prince should excel.  But what I liked best of all was
writing Arabic characters, and in this I soon surpassed my masters, and
gained a reputation in this branch of knowledge that reached as far as
India itself.

Now the Sultan of the Indies, curious to see a young prince with such
strange tastes, sent an ambassador to my father, laden with rich
presents, and a warm invitation to visit his court.  My father, who was
deeply anxious to secure the friendship of so powerful a monarch, and
held besides that a little travel would greatly improve my manners and
open my mind, accepted gladly, and in a short time I had set out for
India with the ambassador, attended only by a small suite on account of
the length of the journey, and the badness of the roads.  However, as
was my duty, I took with me ten camels, laden with rich presents for
the Sultan.

We had been travelling for about a month, when one day we saw a cloud
of dust moving swiftly towards us; and as soon as it came near, we
found that the dust concealed a band of fifty robbers.  Our men barely
numbered half, and as we were also hampered by the camels, there was no
use in fighting, so we tried to overawe them by informing them who we
were, and whither we were going.  The robbers, however, only laughed,
and declared that was none of their business, and, without more words,
attacked us brutally.  I defended myself to the last, wounded though I
was, but at length, seeing that resistance was hopeless, and that the
ambassador and all our followers were made prisoners, I put spurs to my
horse and rode away as fast as I could, till the poor beast fell dead
from a wound in his side.  I managed to jump off without any injury,
and looked about to see if I was pursued.  But for the moment I was
safe, for, as I imagined, the robbers were all engaged in quarrelling
over their booty.

I found myself in a country that was quite new to me, and dared not
return to the main road lest I should again fall into the hands of the
robbers.  Luckily my wound was only a slight one, and after binding it
up as well as I could, I walked on for the rest of the day, till I
reached a cave at the foot of a mountain, where I passed the night in
peace, making my supper off some fruits I had gathered on the way.

I wandered about for a whole month without knowing where I was going,
till at length I found myself on the outskirts of a beautiful city,
watered by winding streams, which enjoyed an eternal spring.  My
delight at the prospect of mixing once more with human beings was
somewhat damped at the thought of the miserable object I must seem.  My
face and hands had been burned nearly black; my clothes were all in
rags, and my shoes were in such a state that I had been forced to
abandon them altogether.

I entered the town, and stopped at a tailor's shop to inquire where I
was.  The man saw I was better than my condition, and begged me to sit
down, and in return I told him my whole story.  The tailor listened
with attention, but his reply, instead of giving me consolation, only
increased my trouble.

"Beware," he said, "of telling any one what you have told me, for the
prince who governs the kingdom is your father's greatest enemy, and he
will be rejoiced to find you in his power."

I thanked the tailor for his counsel, and said I would do whatever he
advised; then, being very hungry, I gladly ate of the food he put
before me, and accepted his offer of a lodging in his house.

In a few days I had quite recovered from the hardships I had undergone,
and then the tailor, knowing that it was the custom for the princes of
our religion to learn a trade or profession so as to provide for
themselves in times of ill-fortune, inquired if there was anything I
could do for my living.  I replied that I had been educated as a
grammarian and a poet, but that my great gift was writing.

"All that is of no use here," said the tailor.  "Take my advice, put on
a short coat, and as you seem hardy and strong, go into the woods and
cut firewood, which you will sell in the streets.  By this means you
will earn your living, and be able to wait till better times come.  The
hatchet and the cord shall be my present."

This counsel was very distasteful to me, but I thought I could not do
otherwise than adopt it.  So the next morning I set out with a company
of poor wood-cutters, to whom the tailor had introduced me.  Even on
the first day I cut enough wood to sell for a tolerable sum, and very
soon I became more expert, and had made enough money to repay the
tailor all he had lent me.

I had been a wood-cutter for more than a year, when one day I wandered
further into the forest than I had ever done before, and reached a
delicious green glade, where I began to cut wood.  I was hacking at the
root of a tree, when I beheld an iron ring fastened to a trapdoor of
the same metal.  I soon cleared away the earth, and pulling up the
door, found a staircase, which I hastily made up my mind to go down,
carrying my hatchet with me by way of protection.  When I reached the
bottom I discovered that I was in a huge palace, as brilliantly lighted
as any palace above ground that I had ever seen, with a long gallery
supported by pillars of jasper, ornamented with capitals of gold.  Down
this gallery a lady came to meet me, of such beauty that I forgot
everything else, and thought only of her.

To save her all the trouble possible, I hastened towards her, and bowed
low.

"Who are you?  Who are you?" she said.  "A man or a genius?"

"A man, madam," I replied; "I have nothing to do with genii."

"By what accident do you come here?" she asked again with a sigh.  "I
have been in this place now for five and twenty years, and you are the
first man who has visited me."

Emboldened by her beauty and gentleness, I ventured to reply, "Before,
madam, I answer your question, allow me to say how grateful I am for
this meeting, which is not only a consolation to me in my own heavy
sorrow, but may perhaps enable me to render your lot happier," and then
I told her who I was, and how I had come there.

"Alas, prince," she said, with a deeper sigh than before, "you have
guessed rightly in supposing me an unwilling prisoner in this gorgeous
place.  I am the daughter of the king of the Ebony Isle, of whose fame
you surely must have heard.  At my father's desire I was married to a
prince who was my own cousin; but on my very wedding day, I was
snatched up by a genius, and brought here in a faint.  For a long while
I did nothing but weep, and would not suffer the genius to come near
me; but time teaches us submission, and I have now got accustomed to
his presence, and if clothes and jewels could content me, I have them
in plenty.  Every tenth day, for five and twenty years, I have received
a visit from him, but in case I should need his help at any other time,
I have only to touch a talisman that stands at the entrance of my
chamber.  It wants still five days to his next visit, and I hope that
during that time you will do me the honour to be my guest."

I was too much dazzled by her beauty to dream of refusing her offer,
and accordingly the princess had me conducted to the bath, and a rich
dress befitting my rank was provided for me.  Then a feast of the most
delicate dishes was served in a room hung with embroidered Indian
fabrics.

Next day, when we were at dinner, I could maintain my patience no
longer, and implored the princess to break her bonds, and return with
me to the world which was lighted by the sun.

"What you ask is impossible," she answered; "but stay here with me
instead, and we can be happy, and all you will have to do is to betake
yourself to the forest every tenth day, when I am expecting my master
the genius.  He is very jealous, as you know, and will not suffer a man
to come near me."

"Princess," I replied, "I see it is only fear of the genius that makes
you act like this.  For myself, I dread him so little that I mean to
break his talisman in pieces!  Awful though you think him, he shall
feel the weight of my arm, and I herewith take a solemn vow to stamp
out the whole race."

The princess, who realized the consequences of such audacity, entreated
me not to touch the talisman.  "If you do, it will be the ruin of both
of us," said she; "I know genii much better than you." But the wine I
had drunk had confused my brain; I gave one kick to the talisman, and
it fell into a thousand pieces.

Hardly had my foot touched the talisman when the air became as dark as
night, a fearful noise was heard, and the palace shook to its very
foundations.  In an instant I was sobered, and understood what I had
done.  "Princess!"  I cried, "what is happening?"

"Alas!" she exclaimed, forgetting all her own terrors in anxiety for
me, "fly, or you are lost."

I followed her advice and dashed up the staircase, leaving my hatchet
behind me.  But I was too late.  The palace opened and the genius
appeared, who, turning angrily to the princess, asked indignantly,

"What is the matter, that you have sent for me like this?"

"A pain in my heart," she replied hastily, "obliged me to seek the aid
of this little bottle.  Feeling faint, I slipped and fell against the
talisman, which broke.  That is really all."

"You are an impudent liar!" cried the genius.  "How did this hatchet
and those shoes get here?"

"I never saw them before," she answered, "and you came in such a hurry
that you may have picked them up on the road without knowing it."  To
this the genius only replied by insults and blows.  I could hear the
shrieks and groans of the princess, and having by this time taken off
my rich garments and put on those in which I had arrived the previous
day, I lifted the trap, found myself once more in the forest, and
returned to my friend the tailor, with a light load of wood and a heart
full of shame and sorrow.

The tailor, who had been uneasy at my long absence, was, delighted to
see me; but I kept silence about my adventure, and as soon as possible
retired to my room to lament in secret over my folly.  While I was thus
indulging my grief my host entered, and said, "There is an old man
downstairs who has brought your hatchet and slippers, which he picked
up on the road, and now restores to you, as he found out from one of
your comrades where you lived.  You had better come down and speak to
him yourself."  At this speech I changed colour, and my legs trembled
under me.  The tailor noticed my confusion, and was just going to
inquire the reason when the door of the room opened, and the old man
appeared, carrying with him my hatchet and shoes.

"I am a genius," he said, "the son of the daughter of Eblis, prince of
the genii.  Is not this hatchet yours, and these shoes?" Without
waiting for an answer--which, indeed, I could hardly have given him, so
great was my fright--he seized hold of me, and darted up into the air
with the quickness of lightning, and then, with equal swiftness,
dropped down towards the earth.  When he touched the ground, he rapped
it with his foot; it opened, and we found ourselves in the enchanted
palace, in the presence of the beautiful princess of the Ebony Isle.
But how different she looked from what she was when I had last seen
her, for she was lying stretched on the ground covered with blood, and
weeping bitterly.

"Traitress!" cried the genius, "is not this man your lover?"

She lifted up her eyes slowly, and looked sadly at me.  "I never saw
him before," she answered slowly.  "I do not know who he is."

"What!" exclaimed the genius, "you owe all your sufferings to him, and
yet you dare to say he is a stranger to you!"

"But if he really is a stranger to me," she replied, "why should I tell
a lie and cause his death?"

"Very well," said the genius, drawing his sword, "take this, and cut
off his head."

"Alas," answered the princess, "I am too weak even to hold the sabre.
And supposing that I had the strength, why should I put an innocent man
to death?"

"You condemn yourself by your refusal," said the genius; then turning
to me, he added, "and you, do you not know her?"

"How should I?"  I replied, resolved to imitate the princess in her
fidelity.  "How should I, when I never saw her before?"

"Cut her head off," then, "if she is a stranger to you, and I shall
believe you are speaking the truth, and will set you at liberty."

"Certainly," I answered, taking the sabre in my hands, and making a
sign to the princess to fear nothing, as it was my own life that I was
about to sacrifice, and not hers.  But the look of gratitude she gave
me shook my courage, and I flung the sabre to the earth.

"I should not deserve to live," I said to the genius, "if I were such a
coward as to slay a lady who is not only unknown to me, but who is at
this moment half dead herself.  Do with me as you will--I am in your
power--but I refuse to obey your cruel command."

"I see," said the genius, "that you have both made up your minds to
brave me, but I will give you a sample of what you may expect." So
saying, with one sweep of his sabre he cut off a hand of the princess,
who was just able to lift the other to wave me an eternal farewell.
Then I lost consciousness for several minutes.

When I came to myself I implored the genius to keep me no longer in
this state of suspense, but to lose no time in putting an end to my
sufferings.  The genius, however, paid no attention to my prayers, but
said sternly, "That is the way in which a genius treats the woman who
has betrayed him.  If I chose, I could kill you also; but I will be
merciful, and content myself with changing you into a dog, an ass, a
lion, or a bird--whichever you prefer."

I caught eagerly at these words, as giving me a faint hope of softening
his wrath.  "O genius!"  I cried, "as you wish to spare my life, be
generous, and spare it altogether.  Grant my prayer, and pardon my
crime, as the best man in the whole world forgave his neighbour who was
eaten up with envy of him." Contrary to my hopes, the genius seemed
interested in my words, and said he would like to hear the story of the
two neighbours; and as I think, madam, it may please you, I will tell
it to you also.



The Story of the Envious Man and of Him Who Was Envied


In a town of moderate size, two men lived in neighbouring houses; but
they had not been there very long before one man took such a hatred of
the other, and envied him so bitterly, that the poor man determined to
find another home, hoping that when they no longer met every day his
enemy would forget all about him.  So he sold his house and the little
furniture it contained, and moved into the capital of the country,
which was luckily at no great distance.  About half a mile from this
city he bought a nice little place, with a large garden and a
fair-sized court, in the centre of which stood an old well.

In order to live a quieter life, the good man put on the robe of a
dervish, and divided his house into a quantity of small cells, where he
soon established a number of other dervishes.  The fame of his virtue
gradually spread abroad, and many people, including several of the
highest quality, came to visit him and ask his prayers.

Of course it was not long before his reputation reached the ears of the
man who envied him, and this wicked wretch resolved never to rest till
he had in some way worked ill to the dervish whom he hated.  So he left
his house and his business to look after themselves, and betook himself
to the new dervish monastery, where he was welcomed by the founder with
all the warmth imaginable.  The excuse he gave for his appearance was
that he had come to consult the chief of the dervishes on a private
matter of great importance.  "What I have to say must not be
overheard," he whispered; "command, I beg of you, that your dervishes
retire into their cells, as night is approaching, and meet me in the
court."

The dervish did as he was asked without delay, and directly they were
alone together the envious man began to tell a long story, edging, as
they walked to and fro, always nearer to the well, and when they were
quite close, he seized the dervish and dropped him in.  He then ran off
triumphantly, without having been seen by anyone, and congratulating
himself that the object of his hatred was dead, and would trouble him
no more.

But in this he was mistaken!  The old well had long been inhabited
(unknown to mere human beings) by a set of fairies and genii, who
caught the dervish as he fell, so that he received no hurt.  The
dervish himself could see nothing, but he took for granted that
something strange had happened, or he must certainly have been dashed
against the side of the well and been killed.  He lay quite still, and
in a moment he heard a voice saying, "Can you guess whom this man is
that we have saved from death?"

"No," replied several other voices.

And the first speaker answered, "I will tell you.  This man, from pure
goodness of heart, forsook the town where he lived and came to dwell
here, in the hope of curing one of his neighbours of the envy he felt
towards him.  But his character soon won him the esteem of all, and the
envious man's hatred grew, till he came here with the deliberate
intention of causing his death.  And this he would have done, without
our help, the very day before the Sultan has arranged to visit this
holy dervish, and to entreat his prayers for the princess, his
daughter."

"But what is the matter with the princess that she needs the dervish's
prayers?" asked another voice.

"She has fallen into the power of the genius Maimoum, the son of
Dimdim," replied the first voice.  "But it would be quite simple for
this holy chief of the dervishes to cure her if he only knew!  In his
convent there is a black cat which has a tiny white tip to its tail.
Now to cure the princess the dervish must pull out seven of these white
hairs, burn three, and with their smoke perfume the head of the
princess.  This will deliver her so completely that Maimoum, the son of
Dimdim, will never dare to approach her again."

The fairies and genii ceased talking, but the dervish did not forget a
word of all they had said; and when morning came he perceived a place
in the side of the well which was broken, and where he could easily
climb out.

The dervishes, who could not imagine what had become of him, were
enchanted at his reappearance.  He told them of the attempt on his life
made by his guest of the previous day, and then retired into his cell.
He was soon joined here by the black cat of which the voice had spoken,
who came as usual to say good-morning to his master.  He took him on
his knee and seized the opportunity to pull seven white hairs out of
his tail, and put them on one side till they were needed.

The sun had not long risen before the Sultan, who was anxious to leave
nothing undone that might deliver the princess, arrived with a large
suite at the gate of the monastery, and was received by the dervishes
with profound respect.  The Sultan lost no time in declaring the object
of his visit, and leading the chief of the dervishes aside, he said to
him, "Noble scheik, you have guessed perhaps what I have come to ask
you?"

"Yes, sire," answered the dervish; "if I am not mistaken, it is the
illness of the princess which has procured me this honour."

"You are right," returned the Sultan, "and you will give me fresh life
if you can by your prayers deliver my daughter from the strange malady
that has taken possession of her."

"Let your highness command her to come here, and I will see what I can
do."

The Sultan, full of hope, sent orders at once that the princess was to
set out as soon as possible, accompanied by her usual staff of
attendants.  When she arrived, she was so thickly veiled that the
dervish could not see her face, but he desired a brazier to be held
over her head, and laid the seven hairs on the burning coals.  The
instant they were consumed, terrific cries were heard, but no one could
tell from whom they proceeded.  Only the dervish guessed that they were
uttered by Maimoum the son of Dimdim, who felt the princess escaping
him.

All this time she had seemed unconscious of what she was doing, but now
she raised her hand to her veil and uncovered her face.  "Where am I?"
she said in a bewildered manner; "and how did I get here?"

The Sultan was so delighted to hear these words that he not only
embraced his daughter, but kissed the hand of the dervish.  Then,
turning to his attendants who stood round, he said to them, "What
reward shall I give to the man who has restored me my daughter?"

They all replied with one accord that he deserved the hand of the
princess.

"That is my own opinion," said he, "and from this moment I declare him
to be my son-in-law."

Shortly after these events, the grand-vizir died, and his post was
given to the dervish.  But he did not hold it for long, for the Sultan
fell a victim to an attack of illness, and as he had no sons, the
soldiers and priests declared the dervish heir to the throne, to the
great joy of all the people.

One day, when the dervish, who had now become Sultan, was making a
royal progress with his court, he perceived the envious man standing in
the crowd.  He made a sign to one of his vizirs, and whispered in his
ear, "Fetch me that man who is standing out there, but take great care
not to frighten him."  The vizir obeyed, and when the envious man was
brought before the Sultan, the monarch said to him, "My friend, I am
delighted to see you again."  Then turning to an officer, he added,
"Give him a thousand pieces of gold out of my treasury, and twenty
waggon-loads of merchandise out of my private stores, and let an escort
of soldiers accompany him home."  He then took leave of the envious
man, and went on his way.

Now when I had ended my story, I proceeded to show the genius how to
apply it to himself.  "O genius," I said, "you see that this Sultan was
not content with merely forgiving the envious man for the attempt on
his life; he heaped rewards and riches upon him."

But the genius had made up his mind, and could not be softened.  "Do
not imagine that you are going to escape so easily," he said.  "All I
can do is to give you bare life; you will have to learn what happens to
people who interfere with me."

As he spoke he seized me violently by the arm; the roof of the palace
opened to make way for us, and we mounted up so high into the air that
the earth looked like a little cloud.  Then, as before, he came down
with the swiftness of lightning, and we touched the ground on a
mountain top.

Then he stooped and gathered a handful of earth, and murmured some
words over it, after which he threw the earth in my face, saying as he
did so, "Quit the form of a man, and assume that of a monkey." This
done, he vanished, and I was in the likeness of an ape, and in a
country I had never seen before.

However there was no use in stopping where I was, so I came down the
mountain and found myself in a flat plain which was bounded by the sea.
I travelled towards it, and was pleased to see a vessel moored about
half a mile from shore.  There were no waves, so I broke off the branch
of a tree, and dragging it down to the water's edge, sat across it,
while, using two sticks for oars, I rowed myself towards the ship.

The deck was full of people, who watched my progress with interest, but
when I seized a rope and swung myself on board, I found that I had only
escaped death at the hands of the genius to perish by those of the
sailors, lest I should bring ill-luck to the vessel and the merchants.
"Throw him into the sea!" cried one.  "Knock him on the head with a
hammer," exclaimed another.  "Let me shoot him with an arrow," said a
third; and certainly somebody would have had his way if I had not flung
myself at the captain's feet and grasped tight hold of his dress.  He
appeared touched by my action and patted my head, and declared that he
would take me under his protection, and that no one should do me any
harm.

At the end of about fifty days we cast anchor before a large town, and
the ship was immediately surrounded by a multitude of small boats
filled with people, who had come either to meet their friends or from
simple curiosity.  Among others, one boat contained several officials,
who asked to see the merchants on board, and informed them that they
had been sent by the Sultan in token of welcome, and to beg them each
to write a few lines on a roll of paper.  "In order to explain this
strange request," continued the officers, "it is necessary that you
should know that the grand-vizir, lately dead, was celebrated for his
beautiful handwriting, and the Sultan is anxious to find a similar
talent in his successor.  Hitherto the search has been a failure, but
his Highness has not yet given up hope."

One after another the merchants set down a few lines upon the roll, and
when they had all finished, I came forward, and snatched the paper from
the man who held it.  At first they all thought I was going to throw it
into the sea, but they were quieted when they saw I held it with great
care, and great was their surprise when I made signs that I too wished
to write something.

"Let him do it if he wants to," said the captain.  "If he only makes a
mess of the paper, you may be sure I will punish him for it.  But if,
as I hope, he really can write, for he is the cleverest monkey I ever
saw, I will adopt him as my son.  The one I lost had not nearly so much
sense!"

No more was said, and I took the pen and wrote the six sorts of writing
in use among the Arabs, and each sort contained an original verse or
couplet, in praise of the Sultan.  And not only did my handwriting
completely eclipse that of the merchants, but it is hardly too much to
say that none so beautiful had ever before been seen in that country.
When I had ended the officials took the roll and returned to the Sultan.

As soon as the monarch saw my writing he did not so much as look at the
samples of the merchants, but desired his officials to take the finest
and most richly caparisoned horse in his stables, together with the
most magnificent dress they could procure, and to put it on the person
who had written those lines, and bring him to court.

The officials began to laugh when they heard the Sultan's command, but
as soon as they could speak they said, "Deign, your highness, to excuse
our mirth, but those lines were not written by a man but by a monkey."

"A monkey!" exclaimed the Sultan.

"Yes, sire," answered the officials.  "They were written by a monkey in
our presence."

"Then bring me the monkey," he replied, "as fast as you can."

The Sultan's officials returned to the ship and showed the royal order
to the captain.

"He is the master," said the good man, and desired that I should be
sent for.

Then they put on me the gorgeous robe and rowed me to land, where I was
placed on the horse and led to the palace.  Here the Sultan was
awaiting me in great state surrounded by his court.

All the way along the streets I had been the object of curiosity to a
vast crowd, which had filled every doorway and every window, and it was
amidst their shouts and cheers that I was ushered into the presence of
the Sultan.

I approached the throne on which he was seated and made him three low
bows, then prostrated myself at his feet to the surprise of everyone,
who could not understand how it was possible that a monkey should be
able to distinguish a Sultan from other people, and to pay him the
respect due to his rank.  However, excepting the usual speech, I
omitted none of the common forms attending a royal audience.

When it was over the Sultan dismissed all the court, keeping with him
only the chief of the eunuchs and a little slave.  He then passed into
another room and ordered food to be brought, making signs to me to sit
at table with him and eat.  I rose from my seat, kissed the ground, and
took my place at the table, eating, as you may suppose, with care and
in moderation.

Before the dishes were removed I made signs that writing materials,
which stood in one corner of the room, should be laid in front of me.
I then took a peach and wrote on it some verses in praise of the
Sultan, who was speechless with astonishment; but when I did the same
thing on a glass from which I had drunk he murmured to himself, "Why, a
man who could do as much would be cleverer than any other man, and this
is only a monkey!"

Supper being over chessmen were brought, and the Sultan signed to me to
know if I would play with him.  I kissed the ground and laid my hand on
my head to show that I was ready to show myself worthy of the honour.
He beat me the first game, but I won the second and third, and seeing
that this did not quite please I dashed off a verse by way of
consolation.

The Sultan was so enchanted with all the talents of which I had given
proof that he wished me to exhibit some of them to other people.  So
turning to the chief of the eunuchs he said, "Go and beg my daughter,
Queen of Beauty, to come here.  I will show her something she has never
seen before."

The chief of the eunuchs bowed and left the room, ushering in a few
moments later the princess, Queen of Beauty.  Her face was uncovered,
but the moment she set foot in the room she threw her veil over her
head.  "Sire," she said to her father, "what can you be thinking of to
summon me like this into the presence of a man?"

"I do not understand you," replied the Sultan.  "There is nobody here
but the eunuch, who is your own servant, the little slave, and myself,
yet you cover yourself with your veil and reproach me for having sent
for you, as if I had committed a crime."

"Sire," answered the princess, "I am right and you are wrong.  This
monkey is really no monkey at all, but a young prince who has been
turned into a monkey by the wicked spells of a genius, son of the
daughter of Eblis."

As will be imagined, these words took the Sultan by surprise, and he
looked at me to see how I should take the statement of the princess.
As I was unable to speak, I placed my hand on my head to show that it
was true.

"But how do you know this, my daughter?" asked he.

"Sire," replied Queen of Beauty, "the old lady who took care of me in
my childhood was an accomplished magician, and she taught me seventy
rules of her art, by means of which I could, in the twinkling of an
eye, transplant your capital into the middle of the ocean.  Her art
likewise teaches me to recognise at first sight all persons who are
enchanted, and tells me by whom the spell was wrought."

"My daughter," said the Sultan, "I really had no idea you were so
clever."

"Sire," replied the princess, "there are many out-of-the-way things it
is as well to know, but one should never boast of them."

"Well," asked the Sultan, "can you tell me what must be done to
disenchant the young prince?"

"Certainly; and I can do it."

"Then restore him to his former shape," cried the Sultan.  "You could
give me no greater pleasure, for I wish to make him my grand-vizir, and
to give him to you for your husband."

"As your Highness pleases," replied the princess.

Queen of Beauty rose and went to her chamber, from which she fetched a
knife with some Hebrew words engraven on the blade.  She then desired
the Sultan, the chief of the eunuchs, the little slave, and myself to
descend into a secret court of the palace, and placed us beneath a
gallery which ran all round, she herself standing in the centre of the
court.  Here she traced a large circle and in it wrote several words in
Arab characters.

When the circle and the writing were finished she stood in the middle
of it and repeated some verses from the Koran.  Slowly the air grew
dark, and we felt as if the earth was about to crumble away, and our
fright was by no means diminished at seeing the genius, son of the
daughter of Eblis, suddenly appear under the form of a colossal lion.

"Dog," cried the princess when she first caught sight of him, "you
think to strike terror into me by daring to present yourself before me
in this hideous shape."

"And you," retorted the lion, "have not feared to break our treaty that
engaged solemnly we should never interfere with each other."

"Accursed genius!" exclaimed the princess, "it is you by whom that
treaty was first broken."

"I will teach you how to give me so much trouble," said the lion, and
opening his huge mouth he advanced to swallow her.  But the princess
expected something of the sort and was on her guard.  She bounded on
one side, and seizing one of the hairs of his mane repeated two or
three words over it.  In an instant it became a sword, and with a sharp
blow she cut the lion's body into two pieces.  These pieces vanished no
one knew where, and only the lion's head remained, which was at once
changed into a scorpion.  Quick as thought the princess assumed the
form of a serpent and gave battle to the scorpion, who, finding he was
getting the worst of it, turned himself into an eagle and took flight.
But in a moment the serpent had become an eagle more powerful still,
who soared up in the air and after him, and then we lost sight of them
both.

We all remained where we were quaking with anxiety, when the ground
opened in front of us and a black and white cat leapt out, its hair
standing on end, and miauing frightfully.  At its heels was a wolf, who
had almost seized it, when the cat changed itself into a worm, and,
piercing the skin of a pomegranate which had tumbled from a tree, hid
itself in the fruit.  The pomegranate swelled till it grew as large as
a pumpkin, and raised itself on to the roof of the gallery, from which
it fell into the court and was broken into bits.  While this was taking
place the wolf, who had transformed himself into a cock, began to
swallow the seed of the pomegranate as fast as he could.  When all were
gone he flew towards us, flapping his wings as if to ask if we saw any
more, when suddenly his eye fell on one which lay on the bank of the
little canal that flowed through the court; he hastened towards it, but
before he could touch it the seed rolled into the canal and became a
fish.  The cock flung himself in after the fish and took the shape of a
pike, and for two hours they chased each other up and down under the
water, uttering horrible cries, but we could see nothing.  At length
they rose from the water in their proper forms, but darting such flames
of fire from their mouths that we dreaded lest the palace should catch
fire.  Soon, however, we had much greater cause for alarm, as the
genius, having shaken off the princess, flew towards us.  Our fate
would have been sealed if the princess, seeing our danger, had not
attracted the attention of the genius to herself.  As it was, the
Sultan's beard was singed and his face scorched, the chief of the
eunuchs was burned to a cinder, while a spark deprived me of the sight
of one eye.  Both I and the Sultan had given up all hope of a rescue,
when there was a shout of "Victory, victory!" from the princess, and
the genius lay at her feet a great heap of ashes.

Exhausted though she was, the princess at once ordered the little
slave, who alone was uninjured, to bring her a cup of water, which she
took in her hand.  First repeating some magic words over it, she dashed
it into my face saying, "If you are only a monkey by enchantment,
resume the form of the man you were before." In an instant I stood
before her the same man I had formerly been, though having lost the
sight of one eye.

I was about to fall on my knees and thank the princess but she did not
give me time.  Turning to the Sultan, her father, she said, "Sire, I
have gained the battle, but it has cost me dear.  The fire has
penetrated to my heart, and I have only a few moments to live.  This
would not have happened if I had only noticed the last pomegranate seed
and eaten it like the rest.  It was the last struggle of the genius,
and up to that time I was quite safe.  But having let this chance slip
I was forced to resort to fire, and in spite of all his experience I
showed the genius that I knew more than he did.  He is dead and in
ashes, but my own death is approaching fast."  "My daughter," cried the
Sultan, "how sad is my condition!  I am only surprised I am alive at
all!  The eunuch is consumed by the flames, and the prince whom you
have delivered has lost the sight of one eye."  He could say no more,
for sobs choked his voice, and we all wept together.

Suddenly the princess shrieked, "I burn, I burn!" and death came to
free her from her torments.

I have no words, madam, to tell you of my feelings at this terrible
sight.  I would rather have remained a monkey all my life than let my
benefactress perish in this shocking manner.  As for the Sultan, he was
quite inconsolable, and his subjects, who had dearly loved the
princess, shared his grief.  For seven days the whole nation mourned,
and then the ashes of the princess were buried with great pomp, and a
superb tomb was raised over her.

As soon as the Sultan recovered from the severe illness which had
seized him after the death of the princess he sent for me and plainly,
though politely, informed me that my presence would always remind him
of his loss, and he begged that I would instantly quit his kingdom, and
on pain of death never return to it.  I was, of course, bound to obey,
and not knowing what was to become of me I shaved my beard and eyebrows
and put on the dress of a calender.  After wandering aimlessly through
several countries, I resolved to come to Bagdad and request an audience
of the Commander of the Faithful.

And that, madam, is my story.

The other Calender then told his story.



The Story of the Third Calendar, Son of a King


My story, said the Third Calender, is quite different from those of my
two friends.  It was fate that deprived them of the sight of their
right eyes, but mine was lost by my own folly.

My name is Agib, and I am the son of a king called Cassib, who reigned
over a large kingdom, which had for its capital one of the finest
seaport towns in the world.

When I succeeded to my father's throne my first care was to visit the
provinces on the mainland, and then to sail to the numerous islands
which lay off the shore, in order to gain the hearts of my subjects.
These voyages gave me such a taste for sailing that I soon determined
to explore more distant seas, and commanded a fleet of large ships to
be got ready without delay.  When they were properly fitted out I
embarked on my expedition.

For forty days wind and weather were all in our favour, but the next
night a terrific storm arose, which blew us hither and thither for ten
days, till the pilot confessed that he had quite lost his bearings.
Accordingly a sailor was sent up to the masthead to try to catch a
sight of land, and reported that nothing was to be seen but the sea and
sky, except a huge mass of blackness that lay astern.

On hearing this the pilot grew white, and, beating his breast, he
cried, "Oh, sir, we are lost, lost!" till the ship's crew trembled at
they knew not what.  When he had recovered himself a little, and was
able to explain the cause of his terror, he replied, in answer to my
question, that we had drifted far out of our course, and that the
following day about noon we should come near that mass of darkness,
which, said he, is nothing but the famous Black Mountain.  This
mountain is composed of adamant, which attracts to itself all the iron
and nails in your ship; and as we are helplessly drawn nearer, the
force of attraction will become so great that the iron and nails will
fall out of the ships and cling to the mountain, and the ships will
sink to the bottom with all that are in them.  This it is that causes
the side of the mountain towards the sea to appear of such a dense
blackness.

As may be supposed--continued the pilot--the mountain sides are very
rugged, but on the summit stands a brass dome supported on pillars, and
bearing on top the figure of a brass horse, with a rider on his back.
This rider wears a breastplate of lead, on which strange signs and
figures are engraved, and it is said that as long as this statue
remains on the dome, vessels will never cease to perish at the foot of
the mountain.

So saying, the pilot began to weep afresh, and the crew, fearing their
last hour had come, made their wills, each one in favour of his fellow.

At noon next day, as the pilot had foretold, we were so near to the
Black Mountain that we saw all the nails and iron fly out of the ships
and dash themselves against the mountain with a horrible noise.  A
moment after the vessels fell asunder and sank, the crews with them.  I
alone managed to grasp a floating plank, and was driven ashore by the
wind, without even a scratch.  What was my joy on finding myself at the
bottom of some steps which led straight up the mountain, for there was
not another inch to the right or the left where a man could set his
foot.  And, indeed, even the steps themselves were so narrow and so
steep that, if the lightest breeze had arisen, I should certainly have
been blown into the sea.

When I reached the top I found the brass dome and the statue exactly as
the pilot had described, but was too wearied with all I had gone
through to do more than glance at them, and, flinging myself under the
dome, was asleep in an instant.  In my dreams an old man appeared to me
and said, "Hearken, Agib!  As soon as thou art awake dig up the ground
underfoot, and thou shalt find a bow of brass and three arrows of lead.
Shoot the arrows at the statue, and the rider shall tumble into the
sea, but the horse will fall down by thy side, and thou shalt bury him
in the place from which thou tookest the bow and arrows.  This being
done the sea will rise and cover the mountain, and on it thou wilt
perceive the figure of a metal man seated in a boat, having an oar in
each hand.  Step on board and let him conduct thee; but if thou
wouldest behold thy kingdom again, see that thou takest not the name of
Allah into thy mouth."

Having uttered these words the vision left me, and I woke, much
comforted.  I sprang up and drew the bow and arrows out of the ground,
and with the third shot the horseman fell with a great crash into the
sea, which instantly began to rise, so rapidly, that I had hardly time
to bury the horse before the boat approached me.  I stepped silently in
and sat down, and the metal man pushed off, and rowed without stopping
for nine days, after which land appeared on the horizon.  I was so
overcome with joy at this sight that I forgot all the old man had told
me, and cried out, "Allah be praised!  Allah be praised!"

The words were scarcely out of my mouth when the boat and man sank from
beneath me, and left me floating on the surface.  All that day and the
next night I swam and floated alternately, making as well as I could
for the land which was nearest to me.  At last my strength began to
fail, and I gave myself up for lost, when the wind suddenly rose, and a
huge wave cast me on a flat shore.  Then, placing myself in safety, I
hastily spread my clothes out to dry in the sun, and flung myself on
the warm ground to rest.

Next morning I dressed myself and began to look about me.  There seemed
to be no one but myself on the island, which was covered with fruit
trees and watered with streams, but seemed a long distance from the
mainland which I hoped to reach.  Before, however, I had time to feel
cast down, I saw a ship making directly for the island, and not knowing
whether it would contain friends or foes, I hid myself in the thick
branches of a tree.

The sailors ran the ship into a creek, where ten slaves landed,
carrying spades and pickaxes.  In the middle of the island they
stopped, and after digging some time, lifted up what seemed to be a
trapdoor.  They then returned to the vessel two or three times for
furniture and provisions, and finally were accompanied by an old man,
leading a handsome boy of fourteen or fifteen years of age.  They all
disappeared down the trapdoor, and after remaining below for a few
minutes came up again, but without the boy, and let down the trapdoor,
covering it with earth as before.  This done, they entered the ship and
set sail.

As soon as they were out of sight, I came down from my tree, and went
to the place where the boy had been buried.  I dug up the earth till I
reached a large stone with a ring in the centre.  This, when removed,
disclosed a flight of stone steps which led to a large room richly
furnished and lighted by tapers.  On a pile of cushions, covered with
tapestry, sat the boy.  He looked up, startled and frightened at the
sight of a stranger in such a place, and to soothe his fears, I at once
spoke:  "Be not alarmed, sir, whoever you may be.  I am a king, and the
son of a king, and will do you no hurt.  On the contrary, perhaps I
have been sent here to deliver you out of this tomb, where you have
been buried alive."

Hearing my words, the young man recovered himself, and when I had
ended, he said, "The reasons, Prince, that have caused me to be buried
in this place are so strange that they cannot but surprise you.  My
father is a rich merchant, owning much land and many ships, and has
great dealings in precious stones, but he never ceased mourning that he
had no child to inherit his wealth.

"At length one day he dreamed that the following year a son would be
born to him, and when this actually happened, he consulted all the wise
men in the kingdom as to the future of the infant.  One and all they
said the same thing.  I was to live happily till I was fifteen, when a
terrible danger awaited me, which I should hardly escape.  If, however,
I should succeed in doing so, I should live to a great old age.  And,
they added, when the statue of the brass horse on the top of the
mountain of adamant is thrown into the sea by Agib, the son of Cassib,
then beware, for fifty days later your son shall fall by his hand!

"This prophecy struck the heart of my father with such woe, that he
never got over it, but that did not prevent him from attending
carefully to my education till I attained, a short time ago, my
fifteenth birthday.  It was only yesterday that the news reached him
that ten days previously the statue of brass had been thrown into the
sea, and he at once set about hiding me in this underground chamber,
which was built for the purpose, promising to fetch me out when the
forty days have passed.  For myself, I have no fears, as Prince Agib is
not likely to come here to look for me."

I listened to his story with an inward laugh as to the absurdity of my
ever wishing to cause the death of this harmless boy, whom I hastened
to assure of my friendship and even of my protection; begging him, in
return, to convey me in his father's ship to my own country.  I need
hardly say that I took special care not to inform him that I was the
Agib whom he dreaded.

The day passed in conversation on various subjects, and I found him a
youth of ready wit and of some learning.  I took on myself the duties
of a servant, held the basin and water for him when he washed, prepared
the dinner and set it on the table.  He soon grew to love me, and for
thirty-nine days we spent as pleasant an existence as could be expected
underground.

The morning of the fortieth dawned, and the young man when he woke gave
thanks in an outburst of joy that the danger was passed.  "My father
may be here at any moment," said he, "so make me, I pray you, a bath of
hot water, that I may bathe, and change my clothes, and be ready to
receive him."

So I fetched the water as he asked, and washed and rubbed him, after
which he lay down again and slept a little.  When he opened his eyes
for the second time, he begged me to bring him a melon and some sugar,
that he might eat and refresh himself.

I soon chose a fine melon out of those which remained, but could find
no knife to cut it with.  "Look in the cornice over my head," said he,
"and I think you will see one."  It was so high above me, that I had
some difficulty in reaching it, and catching my foot in the covering of
the bed, I slipped, and fell right upon the young man, the knife going
straight into his heart.

At this awful sight I shrieked aloud in my grief and pain.  I threw
myself on the ground and rent my clothes and tore my hair with sorrow.
Then, fearing to be punished as his murderer by the unhappy father, I
raised the great stone which blocked the staircase, and quitting the
underground chamber, made everything fast as before.

Scarcely had I finished when, looking out to sea, I saw the vessel
heading for the island, and, feeling that it would be useless for me to
protest my innocence, I again concealed myself among the branches of a
tree that grew near by.

The old man and his slaves pushed off in a boat directly the ship
touched land, and walked quickly towards the entrance to the
underground chamber; but when they were near enough to see that the
earth had been disturbed, they paused and changed colour.  In silence
they all went down and called to the youth by name; then for a moment I
heard no more.  Suddenly a fearful scream rent the air, and the next
instant the slaves came up the steps, carrying with them the body of
the old man, who had fainted from sorrow!  Laying him down at the foot
of the tree in which I had taken shelter, they did their best to
recover him, but it took a long while.  When at last he revived, they
left him to dig a grave, and then laying the young man's body in it,
they threw in the earth.

This ended, the slaves brought up all the furniture that remained
below, and put it on the vessel, and breaking some boughs to weave a
litter, they laid the old man on it, and carried him to the ship, which
spread its sails and stood out to sea.

So once more I was quite alone, and for a whole month I walked daily
over the island, seeking for some chance of escape.  At length one day
it struck me that my prison had grown much larger, and that the
mainland seemed to be nearer.  My heart beat at this thought, which was
almost too good to be true.  I watched a little longer: there was no
doubt about it, and soon there was only a tiny stream for me to cross.

Even when I was safe on the other side I had a long distance to go on
the mud and sand before I reached dry ground, and very tired I was,
when far in front of me I caught sight of a castle of red copper,
which, at first sight, I took to be a fire.  I made all the haste I
could, and after some miles of hard walking stood before it, and gazed
at it in astonishment, for it seemed to me the most wonderful building
I had ever beheld.  While I was still staring at it, there came towards
me a tall old man, accompanied by ten young men, all handsome, and all
blind of the right eye.

Now in its way, the spectacle of ten men walking together, all blind of
the right eye, is as uncommon as that of a copper castle, and I was
turning over in my mind what could be the meaning of this strange fact,
when they greeted me warmly, and inquired what had brought me there.  I
replied that my story was somewhat long, but that if they would take
the trouble to sit down, I should be happy to tell it them.  When I had
finished, the young men begged that I would go with them to the castle,
and I joyfully accepted their offer.  We passed through what seemed to
me an endless number of rooms, and came at length into a large hall,
furnished with ten small blue sofas for the ten young men, which served
as beds as well as chairs, and with another sofa in the middle for the
old man.  As none of the sofas could hold more than one person, they
bade me place myself on the carpet, and to ask no questions about
anything I should see.

After a little while the old man rose and brought in supper, which I
ate heartily, for I was very hungry.  Then one of the young men begged
me to repeat my story, which had struck them all with astonishment, and
when I had ended, the old man was bidden to "do his duty," as it was
late, and they wished to go to bed.  At these words he rose, and went
to a closet, from which he brought out ten basins, all covered with
blue stuff.  He set one before each of the young men, together with a
lighted taper.

When the covers were taken off the basins, I saw they were filled with
ashes, coal-dust, and lamp-black. The young men mixed these all
together, and smeared the whole over their heads and faces.  They then
wept and beat their breasts, crying, "This is the fruit of idleness,
and of our wicked lives."

This ceremony lasted nearly the whole night, and when it stopped they
washed themselves carefully, and put on fresh clothes, and lay down to
sleep.

All this while I had refrained from questions, though my curiosity
almost seemed to burn a hole in me, but the following day, when we went
out to walk, I said to them, "Gentlemen, I must disobey your wishes,
for I can keep silence no more.  You do not appear to lack wit, yet you
do such actions as none but madmen could be capable of.  Whatever
befalls me I cannot forbear asking, `Why you daub your faces with
black, and how it is you are all blind of one eye?'" But they only
answered that such questions were none of my business, and that I
should do well to hold my peace.

During that day we spoke of other things, but when night came, and the
same ceremony was repeated, I implored them most earnestly to let me
know the meaning of it all.

"It is for your own sake," replied one of the young men, "that we have
not granted your request, and to preserve you from our unfortunate
fate.  If, however, you wish to share our destiny we will delay no
longer."

I answered that whatever might be the consequence I wished to have my
curiosity satisfied, and that I would take the result on my own head.
He then assured me that, even when I had lost my eye, I should be
unable to remain with them, as their number was complete, and could not
be added to.  But to this I replied that, though I should be grieved to
part company with such honest gentlemen, I would not be turned from my
resolution on that account.

On hearing my determination my ten hosts then took a sheep and killed
it, and handed me a knife, which they said I should by-and-by find
useful.  "We must sew you into this sheep-skin," said they, "and then
leave you.  A fowl of monstrous size, called a roc, will appear in the
air, taking you to be a sheep.  He will snatch you up and carry you
into the sky, but be not alarmed, for he will bring you safely down and
lay you on the top of a mountain.  When you are on the ground cut the
skin with the knife and throw it off.  As soon as the roc sees you he
will fly away from fear, but you must walk on till you come to a castle
covered with plates of gold, studded with jewels.  Enter boldly at the
gate, which always stands open, but do not ask us to tell you what we
saw or what befel us there, for that you will learn for yourself.  This
only we may say, that it cost us each our right eye, and has imposed
upon us our nightly penance."

After the young gentlemen had been at the trouble of sewing the
sheep-skin on me they left me, and retired to the hall.  In a few
minutes the roc appeared, and bore me off to the top of the mountain in
his huge claws as lightly as if I had been a feather, for this great
white bird is so strong that he has been known to carry even an
elephant to his nest in the hills.

The moment my feet touched the ground I took out my knife and cut the
threads that bound me, and the sight of me in my proper clothes so
alarmed the roc that he spread his wings and flew away.  Then I set out
to seek the castle.

I found it after wandering about for half a day, and never could I have
imagined anything so glorious.  The gate led into a square court, into
which opened a hundred doors, ninety-nine of them being of rare woods
and one of gold.  Through each of these doors I caught glimpses of
splendid gardens or of rich storehouses.

Entering one of the doors which was standing open I found myself in a
vast hall where forty young ladies, magnificently dressed, and of
perfect beauty, were reclining.  As soon as they saw me they rose and
uttered words of welcome, and even forced me to take possession of a
seat that was higher than their own, though my proper place was at
their feet.  Not content with this, one brought me splendid garments,
while another filled a basin with scented water and poured it over my
hands, and the rest busied themselves with preparing refreshments.
After I had eaten and drunk of the most delicate food and rarest wines,
the ladies crowded round me and begged me to tell them all my
adventures.

By the time I had finished night had fallen, and the ladies lighted up
the castle with such a prodigious quantity of tapers that even day
could hardly have been brighter.  We then sat down to a supper of dried
fruits and sweetmeats, after which some sang and others danced.  I was
so well amused that I did not notice how the time was passing, but at
length one of the ladies approached and informed me it was midnight,
and that, as I must be tired, she would conduct me to the room that had
been prepared for me.  Then, bidding me good-night, I was left to sleep.

I spent the next thirty-nine days in much the same way as the first,
but at the close of that time the ladies appeared (as was their custom)
in my room one morning to inquire how I had slept, and instead of
looking cheerful and smiling they were in floods of tears.  "Prince,"
said they, "we must leave you, and never was it so hard to part from
any of our friends.  Most likely we shall never see you again, but if
you have sufficient self-command perhaps we may yet look forward to a
meeting."

"Ladies," I replied, "what is the meaning of these strange words--I
pray you to tell me?"

"Know then," answered one of them, "that we are all princesses--each a
king's daughter.  We live in this castle together, in the way that you
have seen, but at the end of every year secret duties call us away for
the space of forty days.  The time has now come; but before we depart,
we will leave you our keys, so that you may not lack entertainment
during our absence.  But one thing we would ask of you.  The Golden
Door, alone, forbear to open, as you value your own peace, and the
happiness of your life.  That door once unlocked, we must bid you
farewell for ever."

Weeping, I assured them of my prudence, and after embracing me
tenderly, they went their ways.

Every day I opened two or three fresh doors, each of which contained
behind it so many curious things that I had no chance of feeling dull,
much as I regretted the absence of the ladies.  Sometimes it was an
orchard, whose fruit far exceeded in bigness any that grew in my
father's garden.  Sometimes it was a court planted with roses,
jessamine, dafeodils, hyacinths and anemones, and a thousand other
flowers of which I did not know the names.  Or again, it would be an
aviary, fitted with all kinds of singing birds, or a treasury heaped up
with precious stones; but whatever I might see, all was perfect of its
own sort.

Thirty-nine days passed away more rapidly than I could have conceived
possible, and the following morning the princesses were to return to
the castle.  But alas!  I had explored every corner, save only the room
that was shut in by the Golden Door, and I had no longer anything to
amuse myself with.  I stood before the forbidden place for some time,
gazing at its beauty; then a happy inspiration struck me, that because
I unlocked the door it was not necessary that I should enter the
chamber.  It would be enough for me to stand outside and view whatever
hidden wonders might be therein.

Thus arguing against my own conscience, I turned the key, when a smell
rushed out that, pleasant though it was, overcame me completely, and I
fell fainting across the threshold.  Instead of being warned by this
accident, directly I came to myself I went for a few moments into the
air to shake of the effects of the perfume, and then entered boldly.  I
found myself in a large, vaulted room, lighted by tapers, scented with
aloes and ambergris, standing in golden candle-sticks, whilst gold and
silver lamps hung from the ceiling.

Though objects of rare workmanship lay heaped around me, I paid them
scant attention, so much was I struck by a great black horse which
stood in one corner, the handsomest and best-shaped animal I had ever
seen.  His saddle and bridle were of massive gold, curiously wrought;
one side of his trough was filled with clean barley and sesame, and the
other with rose water.  I led the animal into the open air, and then
jumped on his back, shaking the reins as I did so, but as he never
stirred, I touched him lightly with a switch I had picked up in his
stable.  No sooner did he feel the stroke, than he spread his wings
(which I had not perceived before), and flew up with me straight into
the sky.  When he had reached a prodigious height, he next darted back
to earth, and alighted on the terrace belonging to a castle, shaking me
violently out of the saddle as he did so, and giving me such a blow
with his tail, that he knocked out my right eye.

Half-stunned as I was with all that had happened to me, I rose to my
feet, thinking as I did so of what had befallen the ten young men, and
watching the horse which was soaring into the clouds.  I left the
terrace and wandered on till I came to a hall, which I knew to have
been the one from which the roc had taken me, by the ten blue sofas
against the wall.

The ten young men were not present when I first entered, but came in
soon after, accompanied by the old man.  They greeted me kindly, and
bewailed my misfortune, though, indeed, they had expected nothing less.
"All that has happened to you," they said, "we also have undergone, and
we should be enjoying the same happiness still, had we not opened the
Golden Door while the princesses were absent.  You have been no wiser
than we, and have suffered the same punishment.  We would gladly
receive you among us, to perform such penance as we do, but we have
already told you that this is impossible.  Depart, therefore, from
hence and go to the Court of Bagdad, where you shall meet with him that
can decide your destiny." They told me the way I was to travel, and I
left them.

On the road I caused my beard and eyebrows to be shaved, and put on a
Calender's habit.  I have had a long journey, but arrived this evening
in the city, where I met my brother Calenders at the gate, being
strangers like myself.  We wondered much at one another, to see we were
all blind of the same eye, but we had no leisure to discourse at length
of our common calamities.  We had only so much time as to come hither
to implore those favours which you have been generously pleased to
grant us.

He finished, and it was Zobeida's turn to speak:  "Go wherever you
please," she said, addressing all three.  "I pardon you all, but you
must depart immediately out of this house."



The Seven Voyages of Sindbad the Sailor


In the times of the Caliph Haroun-al-Raschid there lived in Bagdad a
poor porter named Hindbad, who on a very hot day was sent to carry a
heavy load from one end of the city to the other.  Before he had
accomplished half the distance he was so tired that, finding himself in
a quiet street where the pavement was sprinkled with rose water, and a
cool breeze was blowing, he set his burden upon the ground, and sat
down to rest in the shade of a grand house.  Very soon he decided that
he could not have chosen a pleasanter place; a delicious perfume of
aloes wood and pastilles came from the open windows and mingled with
the scent of the rose water which steamed up from the hot pavement.
Within the palace he heard some music, as of many instruments cunningly
played, and the melodious warble of nightingales and other birds, and
by this, and the appetising smell of many dainty dishes of which he
presently became aware, he judged that feasting and merry making were
going on.  He wondered who lived in this magnificent house which he had
never seen before, the street in which it stood being one which he
seldom had occasion to pass.  To satisfy his curiosity he went up to
some splendidly dressed servants who stood at the door, and asked one
of them the name of the master of the mansion.

"What," replied he, "do you live in Bagdad, and not know that here
lives the noble Sindbad the Sailor, that famous traveller who sailed
over every sea upon which the sun shines?"

The porter, who had often heard people speak of the immense wealth of
Sindbad, could not help feeling envious of one whose lot seemed to be
as happy as his own was miserable.  Casting his eyes up to the sky he
exclaimed aloud,

"Consider, Mighty Creator of all things, the differences between
Sindbad's life and mine.  Every day I suffer a thousand hardships and
misfortunes, and have hard work to get even enough bad barley bread to
keep myself and my family alive, while the lucky Sindbad spends money
right and left and lives upon the fat of the land!  What has he done
that you should give him this pleasant life--what have I done to
deserve so hard a fate?"

So saying he stamped upon the ground like one beside himself with
misery and despair.  Just at this moment a servant came out of the
palace, and taking him by the arm said, "Come with me, the noble
Sindbad, my master, wishes to speak to you."

Hindbad was not a little surprised at this summons, and feared that his
unguarded words might have drawn upon him the displeasure of Sindbad,
so he tried to excuse himself upon the pretext that he could not leave
the burden which had been entrusted to him in the street.  However the
lackey promised him that it should be taken care of, and urged him to
obey the call so pressingly that at last the porter was obliged to
yield.

He followed the servant into a vast room, where a great company was
seated round a table covered with all sorts of delicacies.  In the
place of honour sat a tall, grave man whose long white beard gave him a
venerable air.  Behind his chair stood a crowd of attendants eager to
minister to his wants.  This was the famous Sindbad himself.  The
porter, more than ever alarmed at the sight of so much magnificence,
tremblingly saluted the noble company.  Sindbad, making a sign to him
to approach, caused him to be seated at his right hand, and himself
heaped choice morsels upon his plate, and poured out for him a draught
of excellent wine, and presently, when the banquet drew to a close,
spoke to him familiarly, asking his name and occupation.

"My lord," replied the porter, "I am called Hindbad."

"I am glad to see you here," continued Sindbad.  "And I will answer for
the rest of the company that they are equally pleased, but I wish you
to tell me what it was that you said just now in the street." For
Sindbad, passing by the open window before the feast began, had heard
his complaint and therefore had sent for him.

At this question Hindbad was covered with confusion, and hanging down
his head, replied, "My lord, I confess that, overcome by weariness and
ill-humour, I uttered indiscreet words, which I pray you to pardon me."

"Oh!" replied Sindbad, "do not imagine that I am so unjust as to blame
you.  On the contrary, I understand your situation and can pity you.
Only you appear to be mistaken about me, and I wish to set you right.
You doubtless imagine that I have acquired all the wealth and luxury
that you see me enjoy without difficulty or danger, but this is far
indeed from being the case.  I have only reached this happy state after
having for years suffered every possible kind of toil and danger.

"Yes, my noble friends," he continued, addressing the company, "I
assure you that my adventures have been strange enough to deter even
the most avaricious men from seeking wealth by traversing the seas.
Since you have, perhaps, heard but confused accounts of my seven
voyages, and the dangers and wonders that I have met with by sea and
land, I will now give you a full and true account of them, which I
think you will be well pleased to hear."

As Sindbad was relating his adventures chiefly on account of the
porter, he ordered, before beginning his tale, that the burden which
had been left in the street should be carried by some of his own
servants to the place for which Hindbad had set out at first, while he
remained to listen to the story.



First Voyage


I had inherited considerable wealth from my parents, and being young
and foolish I at first squandered it recklessly upon every kind of
pleasure, but presently, finding that riches speedily take to
themselves wings if managed as badly as I was managing mine, and
remembering also that to be old and poor is misery indeed, I began to
bethink me of how I could make the best of what still remained to me.
I sold all my household goods by public auction, and joined a company
of merchants who traded by sea, embarking with them at Balsora in a
ship which we had fitted out between us.

We set sail and took our course towards the East Indies by the Persian
Gulf, having the coast of Persia upon our left hand and upon our right
the shores of Arabia Felix.  I was at first much troubled by the uneasy
motion of the vessel, but speedily recovered my health, and since that
hour have been no more plagued by sea-sickness.

From time to time we landed at various islands, where we sold or
exchanged our merchandise, and one day, when the wind dropped suddenly,
we found ourselves becalmed close to a small island like a green
meadow, which only rose slightly above the surface of the water.  Our
sails were furled, and the captain gave permission to all who wished to
land for a while and amuse themselves.  I was among the number, but
when after strolling about for some time we lighted a fire and sat down
to enjoy the repast which we had brought with us, we were startled by a
sudden and violent trembling of the island, while at the same moment
those left upon the ship set up an outcry bidding us come on board for
our lives, since what we had taken for an island was nothing but the
back of a sleeping whale.  Those who were nearest to the boat threw
themselves into it, others sprang into the sea, but before I could save
myself the whale plunged suddenly into the depths of the ocean, leaving
me clinging to a piece of the wood which we had brought to make our
fire.  Meanwhile a breeze had sprung up, and in the confusion that
ensued on board our vessel in hoisting the sails and taking up those
who were in the boat and clinging to its sides, no one missed me and I
was left at the mercy of the waves.  All that day I floated up and
down, now beaten this way, now that, and when night fell I despaired
for my life; but, weary and spent as I was, I clung to my frail
support, and great was my joy when the morning light showed me that I
had drifted against an island.

The cliffs were high and steep, but luckily for me some tree-roots
protruded in places, and by their aid I climbed up at last, and
stretched myself upon the turf at the top, where I lay, more dead than
alive, till the sun was high in the heavens.  By that time I was very
hungry, but after some searching I came upon some eatable herbs, and a
spring of clear water, and much refreshed I set out to explore the
island.  Presently I reached a great plain where a grazing horse was
tethered, and as I stood looking at it I heard voices talking
apparently underground, and in a moment a man appeared who asked me how
I came upon the island.  I told him my adventures, and heard in return
that he was one of the grooms of Mihrage, the king of the island, and
that each year they came to feed their master's horses in this plain.
He took me to a cave where his companions were assembled, and when I
had eaten of the food they set before me, they bade me think myself
fortunate to have come upon them when I did, since they were going back
to their master on the morrow, and without their aid I could certainly
never have found my way to the inhabited part of the island.

Early the next morning we accordingly set out, and when we reached the
capital I was graciously received by the king, to whom I related my
adventures, upon which he ordered that I should be well cared for and
provided with such things as I needed.  Being a merchant I sought out
men of my own profession, and particularly those who came from foreign
countries, as I hoped in this way to hear news from Bagdad, and find
out some means of returning thither, for the capital was situated upon
the sea-shore, and visited by vessels from all parts of the world.  In
the meantime I heard many curious things, and answered many questions
concerning my own country, for I talked willingly with all who came to
me.  Also to while away the time of waiting I explored a little island
named Cassel, which belonged to King Mihrage, and which was supposed to
be inhabited by a spirit named Deggial.  Indeed, the sailors assured me
that often at night the playing of timbals could be heard upon it.
However, I saw nothing strange upon my voyage, saving some fish that
were full two hundred cubits long, but were fortunately more in dread
of us than even we were of them, and fled from us if we did but strike
upon a board to frighten them.  Other fishes there were only a cubit
long which had heads like owls.

One day after my return, as I went down to the quay, I saw a ship which
had just cast anchor, and was discharging her cargo, while the
merchants to whom it belonged were busily directing the removal of it
to their warehouses.  Drawing nearer I presently noticed that my own
name was marked upon some of the packages, and after having carefully
examined them, I felt sure that they were indeed those which I had put
on board our ship at Balsora.  I then recognised the captain of the
vessel, but as I was certain that he believed me to be dead, I went up
to him and asked who owned the packages that I was looking at.

"There was on board my ship," he replied, "a merchant of Bagdad named
Sindbad.  One day he and several of my other passengers landed upon
what we supposed to be an island, but which was really an enormous
whale floating asleep upon the waves.  No sooner did it feel upon its
back the heat of the fire which had been kindled, than it plunged into
the depths of the sea.  Several of the people who were upon it perished
in the waters, and among others this unlucky Sindbad.  This merchandise
is his, but I have resolved to dispose of it for the benefit of his
family if I should ever chance to meet with them."

"Captain," said I, "I am that Sindbad whom you believe to be dead, and
these are my possessions!"

When the captain heard these words he cried out in amazement,
"Lackaday! and what is the world coming to?  In these days there is not
an honest man to be met with.  Did I not with my own eyes see Sindbad
drown, and now you have the audacity to tell me that you are he!  I
should have taken you to be a just man, and yet for the sake of
obtaining that which does not belong to you, you are ready to invent
this horrible falsehood."

"Have patience, and do me the favour to hear my story," said I.

"Speak then," replied the captain, "I'm all attention."

So I told him of my escape and of my fortunate meeting with the king's
grooms, and how kindly I had been received at the palace.  Very soon I
began to see that I had made some impression upon him, and after the
arrival of some of the other merchants, who showed great joy at once
more seeing me alive, he declared that he also recognised me.

Throwing himself upon my neck he exclaimed, "Heaven be praised that you
have escaped from so great a danger.  As to your goods, I pray you take
them, and dispose of them as you please." I thanked him, and praised
his honesty, begging him to accept several bales of merchandise in
token of my gratitude, but he would take nothing.  Of the choicest of
my goods I prepared a present for King Mihrage, who was at first
amazed, having known that I had lost my all.  However, when I had
explained to him how my bales had been miraculously restored to me, he
graciously accepted my gifts, and in return gave me many valuable
things.  I then took leave of him, and exchanging my merchandise for
sandal and aloes wood, camphor, nutmegs, cloves, pepper, and ginger, I
embarked upon the same vessel and traded so successfully upon our
homeward voyage that I arrived in Balsora with about one hundred
thousand sequins.  My family received me with as much joy as I felt
upon seeing them once more.  I bought land and slaves, and built a
great house in which I resolved to live happily, and in the enjoyment
of all the pleasures of life to forget my past sufferings.

Here Sindbad paused, and commanded the musicians to play again, while
the feasting continued until evening.  When the time came for the
porter to depart, Sindbad gave him a purse containing one hundred
sequins, saying, "Take this, Hindbad, and go home, but to-morrow come
again and you shall hear more of my adventures."

The porter retired quite overcome by so much generosity, and you may
imagine that he was well received at home, where his wife and children
thanked their lucky stars that he had found such a benefactor.

The next day Hindbad, dressed in his best, returned to the voyager's
house, and was received with open arms.  As soon as all the guests had
arrived the banquet began as before, and when they had feasted long and
merrily, Sindbad addressed them thus:

"My friends, I beg that you will give me your attention while I relate
the adventures of my second voyage, which you will find even more
astonishing than the first."



Second Voyage


I had resolved, as you know, on my return from my first voyage, to
spend the rest of my days quietly in Bagdad, but very soon I grew tired
of such an idle life and longed once more to find myself upon the sea.

I procured, therefore, such goods as were suitable for the places I
intended to visit, and embarked for the second time in a good ship with
other merchants whom I knew to be honourable men.  We went from island
to island, often making excellent bargains, until one day we landed at
a spot which, though covered with fruit trees and abounding in springs
of excellent water, appeared to possess neither houses nor people.
While my companions wandered here and there gathering flowers and fruit
I sat down in a shady place, and, having heartily enjoyed the
provisions and the wine I had brought with me, I fell asleep, lulled by
the murmur of a clear brook which flowed close by.

How long I slept I know not, but when I opened my eyes and started to
my feet I perceived with horror that I was alone and that the ship was
gone.  I rushed to and fro like one distracted, uttering cries of
despair, and when from the shore I saw the vessel under full sail just
disappearing upon the horizon, I wished bitterly enough that I had been
content to stay at home in safety.  But since wishes could do me no
good, I presently took courage and looked about me for a means of
escape.  When I had climbed a tall tree I first of all directed my
anxious glances towards the sea; but, finding nothing hopeful there, I
turned landward, and my curiosity was excited by a huge dazzling white
object, so far off that I could not make out what it might be.

Descending from the tree I hastily collected what remained of my
provisions and set off as fast as I could go towards it.  As I drew
near it seemed to me to be a white ball of immense size and height, and
when I could touch it, I found it marvellously smooth and soft.  As it
was impossible to climb it--for it presented no foot-hold--I walked
round about it seeking some opening, but there was none.  I counted,
however, that it was at least fifty paces round.  By this time the sun
was near setting, but quite suddenly it fell dark, something like a
huge black cloud came swiftly over me, and I saw with amazement that it
was a bird of extraordinary size which was hovering near.  Then I
remembered that I had often heard the sailors speak of a wonderful bird
called a roc, and it occurred to me that the white object which had so
puzzled me must be its egg.

Sure enough the bird settled slowly down upon it, covering it with its
wings to keep it warm, and I cowered close beside the egg in such a
position that one of the bird's feet, which was as large as the trunk
of a tree, was just in front of me.  Taking off my turban I bound
myself securely to it with the linen in the hope that the roc, when it
took flight next morning, would bear me away with it from the desolate
island.  And this was precisely what did happen.  As soon as the dawn
appeared the bird rose into the air carrying me up and up till I could
no longer see the earth, and then suddenly it descended so swiftly that
I almost lost consciousness.  When I became aware that the roc had
settled and that I was once again upon solid ground, I hastily unbound
my turban from its foot and freed myself, and that not a moment too
soon; for the bird, pouncing upon a huge snake, killed it with a few
blows from its powerful beak, and seizing it up rose into the air once
more and soon disappeared from my view.  When I had looked about me I
began to doubt if I had gained anything by quitting the desolate island.

The valley in which I found myself was deep and narrow, and surrounded
by mountains which towered into the clouds, and were so steep and rocky
that there was no way of climbing up their sides.  As I wandered about,
seeking anxiously for some means of escaping from this trap, I observed
that the ground was strewed with diamonds, some of them of an
astonishing size.  This sight gave me great pleasure, but my delight
was speedily damped when I saw also numbers of horrible snakes so long
and so large that the smallest of them could have swallowed an elephant
with ease.  Fortunately for me they seemed to hide in caverns of the
rocks by day, and only came out by night, probably because of their
enemy the roc.

All day long I wandered up and down the valley, and when it grew dusk I
crept into a little cave, and having blocked up the entrance to it with
a stone, I ate part of my little store of food and lay down to sleep,
but all through the night the serpents crawled to and fro, hissing
horribly, so that I could scarcely close my eyes for terror.  I was
thankful when the morning light appeared, and when I judged by the
silence that the serpents had retreated to their dens I came
tremblingly out of my cave and wandered up and down the valley once
more, kicking the diamonds contemptuously out of my path, for I felt
that they were indeed vain things to a man in my situation.  At last,
overcome with weariness, I sat down upon a rock, but I had hardly
closed my eyes when I was startled by something which fell to the
ground with a thud close beside me.

It was a huge piece of fresh meat, and as I stared at it several more
pieces rolled over the cliffs in different places.  I had always
thought that the stories the sailors told of the famous valley of
diamonds, and of the cunning way which some merchants had devised for
getting at the precious stones, were mere travellers' tales invented to
give pleasure to the hearers, but now I perceived that they were surely
true.  These merchants came to the valley at the time when the eagles,
which keep their eyries in the rocks, had hatched their young.  The
merchants then threw great lumps of meat into the valley.  These,
falling with so much force upon the diamonds, were sure to take up some
of the precious stones with them, when the eagles pounced upon the meat
and carried it off to their nests to feed their hungry broods.  Then
the merchants, scaring away the parent birds with shouts and outcries,
would secure their treasures.  Until this moment I had looked upon the
valley as my grave, for I had seen no possibility of getting out of it
alive, but now I took courage and began to devise a means of escape.  I
began by picking up all the largest diamonds I could find and storing
them carefully in the leathern wallet which had held my provisions;
this I tied securely to my belt.  I then chose the piece of meat which
seemed most suited to my purpose, and with the aid of my turban bound
it firmly to my back; this done I laid down upon my face and awaited
the coming of the eagles.  I soon heard the flapping of their mighty
wings above me, and had the satisfaction of feeling one of them seize
upon my piece of meat, and me with it, and rise slowly towards his
nest, into which he presently dropped me.  Luckily for me the merchants
were on the watch, and setting up their usual outcries they rushed to
the nest scaring away the eagle.  Their amazement was great when they
discovered me, and also their disappointment, and with one accord they
fell to abusing me for having robbed them of their usual profit.
Addressing myself to the one who seemed most aggrieved, I said:  "I am
sure, if you knew all that I have suffered, you would show more
kindness towards me, and as for diamonds, I have enough here of the
very best for you and me and all your company."  So saying I showed
them to him.  The others all crowded round me, wondering at my
adventures and admiring the device by which I had escaped from the
valley, and when they had led me to their camp and examined my
diamonds, they assured me that in all the years that they had carried
on their trade they had seen no stones to be compared with them for
size and beauty.

I found that each merchant chose a particular nest, and took his chance
of what he might find in it.  So I begged the one who owned the nest to
which I had been carried to take as much as he would of my treasure,
but he contented himself with one stone, and that by no means the
largest, assuring me that with such a gem his fortune was made, and he
need toil no more.  I stayed with the merchants several days, and then
as they were journeying homewards I gladly accompanied them.  Our way
lay across high mountains infested with frightful serpents, but we had
the good luck to escape them and came at last to the seashore.  Thence
we sailed to the isle of Rohat where the camphor trees grow to such a
size that a hundred men could shelter under one of them with ease.  The
sap flows from an incision made high up in the tree into a vessel hung
there to receive it, and soon hardens into the substance called
camphor, but the tree itself withers up and dies when it has been so
treated.

In this same island we saw the rhinoceros, an animal which is smaller
than the elephant and larger than the buffalo.  It has one horn about a
cubit long which is solid, but has a furrow from the base to the tip.
Upon it is traced in white lines the figure of a man.  The rhinoceros
fights with the elephant, and transfixing him with his horn carries him
off upon his head, but becoming blinded with the blood of his enemy, he
falls helpless to the ground, and then comes the roc, and clutches them
both up in his talons and takes them to feed his young.  This doubtless
astonishes you, but if you do not believe my tale go to Rohat and see
for yourself.  For fear of wearying you I pass over in silence many
other wonderful things which we saw in this island.  Before we left I
exchanged one of my diamonds for much goodly merchandise by which I
profited greatly on our homeward way.  At last we reached Balsora,
whence I hastened to Bagdad, where my first action was to bestow large
sums of money upon the poor, after which I settled down to enjoy
tranquilly the riches I had gained with so much toil and pain.

Having thus related the adventures of his second voyage, Sindbad again
bestowed a hundred sequins upon Hindbad, inviting him to come again on
the following day and hear how he fared upon his third voyage.  The
other guests also departed to their homes, but all returned at the same
hour next day, including the porter, whose former life of hard work and
poverty had already begun to seem to him like a bad dream.  Again after
the feast was over did Sindbad claim the attention of his guests and
began the account of his third voyage.



Third Voyage


After a very short time the pleasant easy life I led made me quite
forget the perils of my two voyages.  Moreover, as I was still in the
prime of life, it pleased me better to be up and doing.  So once more
providing myself with the rarest and choicest merchandise of Bagdad, I
conveyed it to Balsora, and set sail with other merchants of my
acquaintance for distant lands.  We had touched at many ports and made
much profit, when one day upon the open sea we were caught by a
terrible wind which blew us completely out of our reckoning, and
lasting for several days finally drove us into harbour on a strange
island.

"I would rather have come to anchor anywhere than here," quoth our
captain.  "This island and all adjoining it are inhabited by hairy
savages, who are certain to attack us, and whatever these dwarfs may do
we dare not resist, since they swarm like locusts, and if one of them
is killed the rest will fall upon us, and speedily make an end of us."

These words caused great consternation among all the ship's company,
and only too soon we were to find out that the captain spoke truly.
There appeared a vast multitude of hideous savages, not more than two
feet high and covered with reddish fur.  Throwing themselves into the
waves they surrounded our vessel.  Chattering meanwhile in a language
we could not understand, and clutching at ropes and gangways, they
swarmed up the ship's side with such speed and agility that they almost
seemed to fly.

You may imagine the rage and terror that seized us as we watched them,
neither daring to hinder them nor able to speak a word to deter them
from their purpose, whatever it might be.  Of this we were not left
long in doubt.  Hoisting the sails, and cutting the cable of the
anchor, they sailed our vessel to an island which lay a little further
off, where they drove us ashore; then taking possession of her, they
made off to the place from which they had come, leaving us helpless
upon a shore avoided with horror by all mariners for a reason which you
will soon learn.

Turning away from the sea we wandered miserably inland, finding as we
went various herbs and fruits which we ate, feeling that we might as
well live as long as possible though we had no hope of escape.
Presently we saw in the far distance what seemed to us to be a splendid
palace, towards which we turned our weary steps, but when we reached it
we saw that it was a castle, lofty, and strongly built.  Pushing back
the heavy ebony doors we entered the courtyard, but upon the threshold
of the great hall beyond it we paused, frozen with horror, at the sight
which greeted us.  On one side lay a huge pile of bones--human bones,
and on the other numberless spits for roasting!  Overcome with despair
we sank trembling to the ground, and lay there without speech or
motion.  The sun was setting when a loud noise aroused us, the door of
the hall was violently burst open and a horrible giant entered.  He was
as tall as a palm tree, and perfectly black, and had one eye, which
flamed like a burning coal in the middle of his forehead.  His teeth
were long and sharp and grinned horribly, while his lower lip hung down
upon his chest, and he had ears like elephant's ears, which covered his
shoulders, and nails like the claws of some fierce bird.

At this terrible sight our senses left us and we lay like dead men.
When at last we came to ourselves the giant sat examining us
attentively with his fearful eye.  Presently when he had looked at us
enough he came towards us, and stretching out his hand took me by the
back of the neck, turning me this way and that, but feeling that I was
mere skin and bone he set me down again and went on to the next, whom
he treated in the same fashion; at last he came to the captain, and
finding him the fattest of us all, he took him up in one hand and stuck
him upon a spit and proceeded to kindle a huge fire at which he
presently roasted him.  After the giant had supped he lay down to
sleep, snoring like the loudest thunder, while we lay shivering with
horror the whole night through, and when day broke he awoke and went
out, leaving us in the castle.

When we believed him to be really gone we started up bemoaning our
horrible fate, until the hall echoed with our despairing cries.  Though
we were many and our enemy was alone it did not occur to us to kill
him, and indeed we should have found that a hard task, even if we had
thought of it, and no plan could we devise to deliver ourselves.  So at
last, submitting to our sad fate, we spent the day in wandering up and
down the island eating such fruits as we could find, and when night
came we returned to the castle, having sought in vain for any other
place of shelter.  At sunset the giant returned, supped upon one of our
unhappy comrades, slept and snored till dawn, and then left us as
before.  Our condition seemed to us so frightful that several of my
companions thought it would be better to leap from the cliffs and
perish in the waves at once, rather than await so miserable an end; but
I had a plan of escape which I now unfolded to them, and which they at
once agreed to attempt.

"Listen, my brothers," I added.  "You know that plenty of driftwood
lies along the shore.  Let us make several rafts, and carry them to a
suitable place.  If our plot succeeds, we can wait patiently for the
chance of some passing ship which would rescue us from this fatal
island.  If it fails, we must quickly take to our rafts; frail as they
are, we have more chance of saving our lives with them than we have if
we remain here."

All agreed with me, and we spent the day in building rafts, each
capable of carrying three persons.  At nightfall we returned to the
castle, and very soon in came the giant, and one more of our number was
sacrificed.  But the time of our vengeance was at hand!  As soon as he
had finished his horrible repast he lay down to sleep as before, and
when we heard him begin to snore I, and nine of the boldest of my
comrades, rose softly, and took each a spit, which we made red-hot in
the fire, and then at a given signal we plunged it with one accord into
the giant's eye, completely blinding him.  Uttering a terrible cry, he
sprang to his feet clutching in all directions to try to seize one of
us, but we had all fled different ways as soon as the deed was done,
and thrown ourselves flat upon the ground in corners where he was not
likely to touch us with his feet.

After a vain search he fumbled about till he found the door, and fled
out of it howling frightfully.  As for us, when he was gone we made
haste to leave the fatal castle, and, stationing ourselves beside our
rafts, we waited to see what would happen.  Our idea was that if, when
the sun rose, we saw nothing of the giant, and no longer heard his
howls, which still came faintly through the darkness, growing more and
more distant, we should conclude that he was dead, and that we might
safely stay upon the island and need not risk our lives upon the frail
rafts.  But alas! morning light showed us our enemy approaching us,
supported on either hand by two giants nearly as large and fearful as
himself, while a crowd of others followed close upon their heels.
Hesitating no longer we clambered upon our rafts and rowed with all our
might out to sea.  The giants, seeing their prey escaping them, seized
up huge pieces of rock, and wading into the water hurled them after us
with such good aim that all the rafts except the one I was upon were
swamped, and their luckless crews drowned, without our being able to do
anything to help them.  Indeed I and my two companions had all we could
do to keep our own raft beyond the reach of the giants, but by dint of
hard rowing we at last gained the open sea.  Here we were at the mercy
of the winds and waves, which tossed us to and fro all that day and
night, but the next morning we found ourselves near an island, upon
which we gladly landed.

There we found delicious fruits, and having satisfied our hunger we
presently lay down to rest upon the shore.  Suddenly we were aroused by
a loud rustling noise, and starting up, saw that it was caused by an
immense snake which was gliding towards us over the sand.  So swiftly
it came that it had seized one of my comrades before he had time to
fly, and in spite of his cries and struggles speedily crushed the life
out of him in its mighty coils and proceeded to swallow him.  By this
time my other companion and I were running for our lives to some place
where we might hope to be safe from this new horror, and seeing a tall
tree we climbed up into it, having first provided ourselves with a
store of fruit off the surrounding bushes.  When night came I fell
asleep, but only to be awakened once more by the terrible snake, which
after hissing horribly round the tree at last reared itself up against
it, and finding my sleeping comrade who was perched just below me, it
swallowed him also, and crawled away leaving me half dead with terror.

When the sun rose I crept down from the tree with hardly a hope of
escaping the dreadful fate which had over-taken my comrades; but life
is sweet, and I determined to do all I could to save myself.  All day
long I toiled with frantic haste and collected quantities of dry
brushwood, reeds and thorns, which I bound with faggots, and making a
circle of them under my tree I piled them firmly one upon another until
I had a kind of tent in which I crouched like a mouse in a hole when
she sees the cat coming.  You may imagine what a fearful night I
passed, for the snake returned eager to devour me, and glided round and
round my frail shelter seeking an entrance.  Every moment I feared that
it would succeed in pushing aside some of the faggots, but happily for
me they held together, and when it grew light my enemy retired, baffled
and hungry, to his den.  As for me I was more dead than alive!  Shaking
with fright and half suffocated by the poisonous breath of the monster,
I came out of my tent and crawled down to the sea, feeling that it
would be better to plunge from the cliffs and end my life at once than
pass such another night of horror.  But to my joy and relief I saw a
ship sailing by, and by shouting wildly and waving my turban I managed
to attract the attention of her crew.

A boat was sent to rescue me, and very soon I found myself on board
surrounded by a wondering crowd of sailors and merchants eager to know
by what chance I found myself in that desolate island.  After I had
told my story they regaled me with the choicest food the ship afforded,
and the captain, seeing that I was in rags, generously bestowed upon me
one of his own coats.  After sailing about for some time and touching
at many ports we came at last to the island of Salahat, where sandal
wood grows in great abundance.  Here we anchored, and as I stood
watching the merchants disembarking their goods and preparing to sell
or exchange them, the captain came up to me and said,

"I have here, brother, some merchandise belonging to a passenger of
mine who is dead.  Will you do me the favour to trade with it, and when
I meet with his heirs I shall be able to give them the money, though it
will be only just that you shall have a portion for your trouble."

I consented gladly, for I did not like standing by idle.  Whereupon he
pointed the bales out to me, and sent for the person whose duty it was
to keep a list of the goods that were upon the ship.  When this man
came he asked in what name the merchandise was to be registered.

"In the name of Sindbad the Sailor," replied the captain.

At this I was greatly surprised, but looking carefully at him I
recognised him to be the captain of the ship upon which I had made my
second voyage, though he had altered much since that time.  As for him,
believing me to be dead it was no wonder that he had not recognised me.

"So, captain," said I, "the merchant who owned those bales was called
Sindbad?"

"Yes," he replied.  "He was so named.  He belonged to Bagdad, and
joined my ship at Balsora, but by mischance he was left behind upon a
desert island where we had landed to fill up our water-casks, and it
was not until four hours later that he was missed.  By that time the
wind had freshened, and it was impossible to put back for him."

"You suppose him to have perished then?" said I.

"Alas! yes," he answered.

"Why, captain!"  I cried, "look well at me.  I am that Sindbad who fell
asleep upon the island and awoke to find himself abandoned!"

The captain stared at me in amazement, but was presently convinced that
I was indeed speaking the truth, and rejoiced greatly at my escape.

"I am glad to have that piece of carelessness off my conscience at any
rate," said he.  "Now take your goods, and the profit I have made for
you upon them, and may you prosper in future."

I took them gratefully, and as we went from one island to another I
laid in stores of cloves, cinnamon, and other spices.  In one place I
saw a tortoise which was twenty cubits long and as many broad, also a
fish that was like a cow and had skin so thick that it was used to make
shields.  Another I saw that was like a camel in shape and colour.  So
by degrees we came back to Balsora, and I returned to Bagdad with so
much money that I could not myself count it, besides treasures without
end.  I gave largely to the poor, and bought much land to add to what I
already possessed, and thus ended my third voyage.

When Sindbad had finished his story he gave another hundred sequins to
Hindbad, who then departed with the other guests, but next day when
they had all reassembled, and the banquet was ended, their host
continued his adventures.



Fourth Voyage


Rich and happy as I was after my third voyage, I could not make up my
mind to stay at home altogether.  My love of trading, and the pleasure
I took in anything that was new and strange, made me set my affairs in
order, and begin my journey through some of the Persian provinces,
having first sent off stores of goods to await my coming in the
different places I intended to visit.  I took ship at a distant
seaport, and for some time all went well, but at last, being caught in
a violent hurricane, our vessel became a total wreck in spite of all
our worthy captain could do to save her, and many of our company
perished in the waves.  I, with a few others, had the good fortune to
be washed ashore clinging to pieces of the wreck, for the storm had
driven us near an island, and scrambling up beyond the reach of the
waves we threw ourselves down quite exhausted, to wait for morning.

At daylight we wandered inland, and soon saw some huts, to which we
directed our steps.  As we drew near their black inhabitants swarmed
out in great numbers and surrounded us, and we were led to their
houses, and as it were divided among our captors.  I with five others
was taken into a hut, where we were made to sit upon the ground, and
certain herbs were given to us, which the blacks made signs to us to
eat.  Observing that they themselves did not touch them, I was careful
only to pretend to taste my portion; but my companions, being very
hungry, rashly ate up all that was set before them, and very soon I had
the horror of seeing them become perfectly mad.  Though they chattered
incessantly I could not understand a word they said, nor did they heed
when I spoke to them.  The savages now produced large bowls full of
rice prepared with cocoanut oil, of which my crazy comrades ate
eagerly, but I only tasted a few grains, understanding clearly that the
object of our captors was to fatten us speedily for their own eating,
and this was exactly what happened.  My unlucky companions having lost
their reason, felt neither anxiety nor fear, and ate greedily all that
was offered them.  So they were soon fat and there was an end of them,
but I grew leaner day by day, for I ate but little, and even that
little did me no good by reason of my fear of what lay before me.
However, as I was so far from being a tempting morsel, I was allowed to
wander about freely, and one day, when all the blacks had gone off upon
some expedition leaving only an old man to guard me, I managed to
escape from him and plunged into the forest, running faster the more he
cried to me to come back, until I had completely distanced him.

For seven days I hurried on, resting only when the darkness stopped me,
and living chiefly upon cocoanuts, which afforded me both meat and
drink, and on the eighth day I reached the seashore and saw a party of
white men gathering pepper, which grew abundantly all about.  Reassured
by the nature of their occupation, I advanced towards them and they
greeted me in Arabic, asking who I was and whence I came.  My delight
was great on hearing this familiar speech, and I willingly satisfied
their curiosity, telling them how I had been shipwrecked, and captured
by the blacks.  "But these savages devour men!" said they.  "How did
you escape?"  I repeated to them what I have just told you, at which
they were mightily astonished.  I stayed with them until they had
collected as much pepper as they wished, and then they took me back to
their own country and presented me to their king, by whom I was
hospitably received.  To him also I had to relate my adventures, which
surprised him much, and when I had finished he ordered that I should be
supplied with food and raiment and treated with consideration.

The island on which I found myself was full of people, and abounded in
all sorts of desirable things, and a great deal of traffic went on in
the capital, where I soon began to feel at home and contented.
Moreover, the king treated me with special favour, and in consequence
of this everyone, whether at the court or in the town, sought to make
life pleasant to me.  One thing I remarked which I thought very
strange; this was that, from the greatest to the least, all men rode
their horses without bridle or stirrups.  I one day presumed to ask his
majesty why he did not use them, to which he replied, "You speak to me
of things of which I have never before heard!"  This gave me an idea.
I found a clever workman, and made him cut out under my direction the
foundation of a saddle, which I wadded and covered with choice leather,
adorning it with rich gold embroidery.  I then got a lock-smith to make
me a bit and a pair of spurs after a pattern that I drew for him, and
when all these things were completed I presented them to the king and
showed him how to use them.  When I had saddled one of his horses he
mounted it and rode about quite delighted with the novelty, and to show
his gratitude he rewarded me with large gifts.  After this I had to
make saddles for all the principal officers of the king's household,
and as they all gave me rich presents I soon became very wealthy and
quite an important person in the city.

One day the king sent for me and said, "Sindbad, I am going to ask a
favour of you.  Both I and my subjects esteem you, and wish you to end
your days amongst us.  Therefore I desire that you will marry a rich
and beautiful lady whom I will find for you, and think no more of your
own country."

As the king's will was law I accepted the charming bride he presented
to me, and lived happily with her.  Nevertheless I had every intention
of escaping at the first opportunity, and going back to Bagdad.  Things
were thus going prosperously with me when it happened that the wife of
one of my neighbours, with whom I had struck up quite a friendship,
fell ill, and presently died.  I went to his house to offer my
consolations, and found him in the depths of woe.

"Heaven preserve you," said I, "and send you a long life!"

"Alas!" he replied, "what is the good of saying that when I have but an
hour left to live!"

"Come, come!" said I, "surely it is not so bad as all that.  I trust
that you may be spared to me for many years."

"I hope," answered he, "that your life may be long, but as for me, all
is finished.  I have set my house in order, and to-day I shall be
buried with my wife.  This has been the law upon our island from the
earliest ages--the living husband goes to the grave with his dead wife,
the living wife with her dead husband.  So did our fathers, and so must
we do.  The law changes not, and all must submit to it!"

As he spoke the friends and relations of the unhappy pair began to
assemble.  The body, decked in rich robes and sparkling with jewels,
was laid upon an open bier, and the procession started, taking its way
to a high mountain at some distance from the city, the wretched
husband, clothed from head to foot in a black mantle, following
mournfully.

When the place of interment was reached the corpse was lowered, just as
it was, into a deep pit.  Then the husband, bidding farewell to all his
friends, stretched himself upon another bier, upon which were laid
seven little loaves of bread and a pitcher of water, and he also was
let down-down-down to the depths of the horrible cavern, and then a
stone was laid over the opening, and the melancholy company wended its
way back to the city.

You may imagine that I was no unmoved spectator of these proceedings;
to all the others it was a thing to which they had been accustomed from
their youth up; but I was so horrified that I could not help telling
the king how it struck me.

"Sire," I said, "I am more astonished than I can express to you at the
strange custom which exists in your dominions of burying the living
with the dead.  In all my travels I have never before met with so cruel
and horrible a law."

"What would you have, Sindbad?" he replied.  "It is the law for
everybody.  I myself should be buried with the Queen if she were the
first to die."

"But, your Majesty," said I, "dare I ask if this law applies to
foreigners also?"

"Why, yes," replied the king smiling, in what I could but consider a
very heartless manner, "they are no exception to the rule if they have
married in the country."

When I heard this I went home much cast down, and from that time
forward my mind was never easy.  If only my wife's little finger ached
I fancied she was going to die, and sure enough before very long she
fell really ill and in a few days breathed her last.  My dismay was
great, for it seemed to me that to be buried alive was even a worse
fate than to be devoured by cannibals, nevertheless there was no
escape.  The body of my wife, arrayed in her richest robes and decked
with all her jewels, was laid upon the bier.  I followed it, and after
me came a great procession, headed by the king and all his nobles, and
in this order we reached the fatal mountain, which was one of a lofty
chain bordering the sea.

Here I made one more frantic effort to excite the pity of the king and
those who stood by, hoping to save myself even at this last moment, but
it was of no avail.  No one spoke to me, they even appeared to hasten
over their dreadful task, and I speedily found myself descending into
the gloomy pit, with my seven loaves and pitcher of water beside me.
Almost before I reached the bottom the stone was rolled into its place
above my head, and I was left to my fate.  A feeble ray of light shone
into the cavern through some chink, and when I had the courage to look
about me I could see that I was in a vast vault, bestrewn with bones
and bodies of the dead.  I even fancied that I heard the expiring sighs
of those who, like myself, had come into this dismal place alive.  All
in vain did I shriek aloud with rage and despair, reproaching myself
for the love of gain and adventure which had brought me to such a pass,
but at length, growing calmer, I took up my bread and water, and
wrapping my face in my mantle I groped my way towards the end of the
cavern, where the air was fresher.

Here I lived in darkness and misery until my provisions were exhausted,
but just as I was nearly dead from starvation the rock was rolled away
overhead and I saw that a bier was being lowered into the cavern, and
that the corpse upon it was a man.  In a moment my mind was made up,
the woman who followed had nothing to expect but a lingering death; I
should be doing her a service if I shortened her misery.  Therefore
when she descended, already insensible from terror, I was ready armed
with a huge bone, one blow from which left her dead, and I secured the
bread and water which gave me a hope of life.  Several times did I have
recourse to this desperate expedient, and I know not how long I had
been a prisoner when one day I fancied that I heard something near me,
which breathed loudly.  Turning to the place from which the sound came
I dimly saw a shadowy form which fled at my movement, squeezing itself
through a cranny in the wall.  I pursued it as fast as I could, and
found myself in a narrow crack among the rocks, along which I was just
able to force my way.  I followed it for what seemed to me many miles,
and at last saw before me a glimmer of light which grew clearer every
moment until I emerged upon the sea shore with a joy which I cannot
describe.  When I was sure that I was not dreaming, I realised that it
was doubtless some little animal which had found its way into the
cavern from the sea, and when disturbed had fled, showing me a means of
escape which I could never have discovered for myself.  I hastily
surveyed my surroundings, and saw that I was safe from all pursuit from
the town.

The mountains sloped sheer down to the sea, and there was no road
across them.  Being assured of this I returned to the cavern, and
amassed a rich treasure of diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and jewels of
all kinds which strewed the ground.  These I made up into bales, and
stored them into a safe place upon the beach, and then waited hopefully
for the passing of a ship.  I had looked out for two days, however,
before a single sail appeared, so it was with much delight that I at
last saw a vessel not very far from the shore, and by waving my arms
and uttering loud cries succeeded in attracting the attention of her
crew.  A boat was sent off to me, and in answer to the questions of the
sailors as to how I came to be in such a plight, I replied that I had
been shipwrecked two days before, but had managed to scramble ashore
with the bales which I pointed out to them.  Luckily for me they
believed my story, and without even looking at the place where they
found me, took up my bundles, and rowed me back to the ship.  Once on
board, I soon saw that the captain was too much occupied with the
difficulties of navigation to pay much heed to me, though he generously
made me welcome, and would not even accept the jewels with which I
offered to pay my passage.  Our voyage was prosperous, and after
visiting many lands, and collecting in each place great store of goodly
merchandise, I found myself at last in Bagdad once more with unheard of
riches of every description.  Again I gave large sums of money to the
poor, and enriched all the mosques in the city, after which I gave
myself up to my friends and relations, with whom I passed my time in
feasting and merriment.

Here Sindbad paused, and all his hearers declared that the adventures
of his fourth voyage had pleased them better than anything they had
heard before.  They then took their leave, followed by Hindbad, who had
once more received a hundred sequins, and with the rest had been bidden
to return next day for the story of the fifth voyage.

When the time came all were in their places, and when they had eaten
and drunk of all that was set before them Sindbad began his tale.



Fifth Voyage


Not even all that I had gone through could make me contented with a
quiet life.  I soon wearied of its pleasures, and longed for change and
adventure.  Therefore I set out once more, but this time in a ship of
my own, which I built and fitted out at the nearest seaport.  I wished
to be able to call at whatever port I chose, taking my own time; but as
I did not intend carrying enough goods for a full cargo, I invited
several merchants of different nations to join me.  We set sail with
the first favourable wind, and after a long voyage upon the open seas
we landed upon an unknown island which proved to be uninhabited.  We
determined, however, to explore it, but had not gone far when we found
a roc's egg, as large as the one I had seen before and evidently very
nearly hatched, for the beak of the young bird had already pierced the
shell.  In spite of all I could say to deter them, the merchants who
were with me fell upon it with their hatchets, breaking the shell, and
killing the young roc.  Then lighting a fire upon the ground they
hacked morsels from the bird, and proceeded to roast them while I stood
by aghast.

Scarcely had they finished their ill-omened repast, when the air above
us was darkened by two mighty shadows.  The captain of my ship, knowing
by experience what this meant, cried out to us that the parent birds
were coming, and urged us to get on board with all speed.  This we did,
and the sails were hoisted, but before we had made any way the rocs
reached their despoiled nest and hovered about it, uttering frightful
cries when they discovered the mangled remains of their young one.  For
a moment we lost sight of them, and were flattering ourselves that we
had escaped, when they reappeared and soared into the air directly over
our vessel, and we saw that each held in its claws an immense rock
ready to crush us.  There was a moment of breathless suspense, then one
bird loosed its hold and the huge block of stone hurtled through the
air, but thanks to the presence of mind of the helmsman, who turned our
ship violently in another direction, it fell into the sea close beside
us, cleaving it asunder till we could nearly see the bottom.  We had
hardly time to draw a breath of relief before the other rock fell with
a mighty crash right in the midst of our luckless vessel, smashing it
into a thousand fragments, and crushing, or hurling into the sea,
passengers and crew.  I myself went down with the rest, but had the
good fortune to rise unhurt, and by holding on to a piece of driftwood
with one hand and swimming with the other I kept myself afloat and was
presently washed up by the tide on to an island.  Its shores were steep
and rocky, but I scrambled up safely and threw myself down to rest upon
the green turf.

When I had somewhat recovered I began to examine the spot in which I
found myself, and truly it seemed to me that I had reached a garden of
delights.  There were trees everywhere, and they were laden with
flowers and fruit, while a crystal stream wandered in and out under
their shadow.  When night came I slept sweetly in a cosy nook, though
the remembrance that I was alone in a strange land made me sometimes
start up and look around me in alarm, and then I wished heartily that I
had stayed at home at ease.  However, the morning sunlight restored my
courage, and I once more wandered among the trees, but always with some
anxiety as to what I might see next.  I had penetrated some distance
into the island when I saw an old man bent and feeble sitting upon the
river bank, and at first I took him to be some ship-wrecked mariner
like myself.  Going up to him I greeted him in a friendly way, but he
only nodded his head at me in reply.  I then asked what he did there,
and he made signs to me that he wished to get across the river to
gather some fruit, and seemed to beg me to carry him on my back.
Pitying his age and feebleness, I took him up, and wading across the
stream I bent down that he might more easily reach the bank, and bade
him get down.  But instead of allowing himself to be set upon his feet
(even now it makes me laugh to think of it!), this creature who had
seemed to me so decrepit leaped nimbly upon my shoulders, and hooking
his legs round my neck gripped me so tightly that I was well-nigh
choked, and so overcome with terror that I fell insensible to the
ground.  When I recovered my enemy was still in his place, though he
had released his hold enough to allow me breathing space, and seeing me
revive he prodded me adroitly first with one foot and then with the
other, until I was forced to get up and stagger about with him under
the trees while he gathered and ate the choicest fruits.  This went on
all day, and even at night, when I threw myself down half dead with
weariness, the terrible old man held on tight to my neck, nor did he
fail to greet the first glimmer of morning light by drumming upon me
with his heels, until I perforce awoke and resumed my dreary march with
rage and bitterness in my heart.

It happened one day that I passed a tree under which lay several dry
gourds, and catching one up I amused myself with scooping out its
contents and pressing into it the juice of several bunches of grapes
which hung from every bush.  When it was full I left it propped in the
fork of a tree, and a few days later, carrying the hateful old man that
way, I snatched at my gourd as I passed it and had the satisfaction of
a draught of excellent wine so good and refreshing that I even forgot
my detestable burden, and began to sing and caper.

The old monster was not slow to perceive the effect which my draught
had produced and that I carried him more lightly than usual, so he
stretched out his skinny hand and seizing the gourd first tasted its
contents cautiously, then drained them to the very last drop.  The wine
was strong and the gourd capacious, so he also began to sing after a
fashion, and soon I had the delight of feeling the iron grip of his
goblin legs unclasp, and with one vigorous effort I threw him to the
ground, from which he never moved again.  I was so rejoiced to have at
last got rid of this uncanny old man that I ran leaping and bounding
down to the sea shore, where, by the greatest good luck, I met with
some mariners who had anchored off the island to enjoy the delicious
fruits, and to renew their supply of water.

They heard the story of my escape with amazement, saying, "You fell
into the hands of the Old Man of the Sea, and it is a mercy that he did
not strangle you as he has everyone else upon whose shoulders he has
managed to perch himself.  This island is well known as the scene of
his evil deeds, and no merchant or sailor who lands upon it cares to
stray far away from his comrades."  After we had talked for a while
they took me back with them on board their ship, where the captain
received me kindly, and we soon set sail, and after several days
reached a large and prosperous-looking town where all the houses were
built of stone.  Here we anchored, and one of the merchants, who had
been very friendly to me on the way, took me ashore with him and showed
me a lodging set apart for strange merchants.  He then provided me with
a large sack, and pointed out to me a party of others equipped in like
manner.

"Go with them," said he, "and do as they do, but beware of losing sight
of them, for if you strayed your life would be in danger."

With that he supplied me with provisions, and bade me farewell, and I
set out with my new companions.  I soon learnt that the object of our
expedition was to fill our sacks with cocoanuts, but when at length I
saw the trees and noted their immense height and the slippery
smoothness of their slender trunks, I did not at all understand how we
were to do it.  The crowns of the cocoa-palms were all alive with
monkeys, big and little, which skipped from one to the other with
surprising agility, seeming to be curious about us and disturbed at our
appearance, and I was at first surprised when my companions after
collecting stones began to throw them at the lively creatures, which
seemed to me quite harmless.  But very soon I saw the reason of it and
joined them heartily, for the monkeys, annoyed and wishing to pay us
back in our own coin, began to tear the nuts from the trees and cast
them at us with angry and spiteful gestures, so that after very little
labour our sacks were filled with the fruit which we could not
otherwise have obtained.

As soon as we had as many as we could carry we went back to the town,
where my friend bought my share and advised me to continue the same
occupation until I had earned money enough to carry me to my own
country.  This I did, and before long had amassed a considerable sum.
Just then I heard that there was a trading ship ready to sail, and
taking leave of my friend I went on board, carrying with me a goodly
store of cocoanuts; and we sailed first to the islands where pepper
grows, then to Comari where the best aloes wood is found, and where men
drink no wine by an unalterable law.  Here I exchanged my nuts for
pepper and good aloes wood, and went a-fishing for pearls with some of
the other merchants, and my divers were so lucky that very soon I had
an immense number, and those very large and perfect.  With all these
treasures I came joyfully back to Bagdad, where I disposed of them for
large sums of money, of which I did not fail as before to give the
tenth part to the poor, and after that I rested from my labours and
comforted myself with all the pleasures that my riches could give me.

Having thus ended his story, Sindbad ordered that one hundred sequins
should be given to Hindbad, and the guests then withdrew; but after the
next day's feast he began the account of his sixth voyage as follows.



Sixth Voyage


It must be a marvel to you how, after having five times met with
shipwreck and unheard of perils, I could again tempt fortune and risk
fresh trouble.  I am even surprised myself when I look back, but
evidently it was my fate to rove, and after a year of repose I prepared
to make a sixth voyage, regardless of the entreaties of my friends and
relations, who did all they could to keep me at home.  Instead of going
by the Persian Gulf, I travelled a considerable way overland, and
finally embarked from a distant Indian port with a captain who meant to
make a long voyage.  And truly he did so, for we fell in with stormy
weather which drove us completely out of our course, so that for many
days neither captain nor pilot knew where we were, nor where we were
going.  When they did at last discover our position we had small ground
for rejoicing, for the captain, casting his turban upon the deck and
tearing his beard, declared that we were in the most dangerous spot
upon the whole wide sea, and had been caught by a current which was at
that minute sweeping us to destruction.  It was too true!  In spite of
all the sailors could do we were driven with frightful rapidity towards
the foot of a mountain, which rose sheer out of the sea, and our vessel
was dashed to pieces upon the rocks at its base, not, however, until we
had managed to scramble on shore, carrying with us the most precious of
our possessions.  When we had done this the captain said to us:

"Now we are here we may as well begin to dig our graves at once, since
from this fatal spot no shipwrecked mariner has ever returned."

This speech discouraged us much, and we began to lament over our sad
fate.

The mountain formed the seaward boundary of a large island, and the
narrow strip of rocky shore upon which we stood was strewn with the
wreckage of a thousand gallant ships, while the bones of the luckless
mariners shone white in the sunshine, and we shuddered to think how
soon our own would be added to the heap.  All around, too, lay vast
quantities of the costliest merchandise, and treasures were heaped in
every cranny of the rocks, but all these things only added to the
desolation of the scene.  It struck me as a very strange thing that a
river of clear fresh water, which gushed out from the mountain not far
from where we stood, instead of flowing into the sea as rivers
generally do, turned off sharply, and flowed out of sight under a
natural archway of rock, and when I went to examine it more closely I
found that inside the cave the walls were thick with diamonds, and
rubies, and masses of crystal, and the floor was strewn with ambergris.
Here, then, upon this desolate shore we abandoned ourselves to our
fate, for there was no possibility of scaling the mountain, and if a
ship had appeared it could only have shared our doom.  The first thing
our captain did was to divide equally amongst us all the food we
possessed, and then the length of each man's life depended on the time
he could make his portion last.  I myself could live upon very little.

Nevertheless, by the time I had buried the last of my companions my
stock of provisions was so small that I hardly thought I should live
long enough to dig my own grave, which I set about doing, while I
regretted bitterly the roving disposition which was always bringing me
into such straits, and thought longingly of all the comfort and luxury
that I had left.  But luckily for me the fancy took me to stand once
more beside the river where it plunged out of sight in the depths of
the cavern, and as I did so an idea struck me.  This river which hid
itself underground doubtless emerged again at some distant spot.  Why
should I not build a raft and trust myself to its swiftly flowing
waters?  If I perished before I could reach the light of day once more
I should be no worse off than I was now, for death stared me in the
face, while there was always the possibility that, as I was born under
a lucky star, I might find myself safe and sound in some desirable
land.  I decided at any rate to risk it, and speedily built myself a
stout raft of drift-wood with strong cords, of which enough and to
spare lay strewn upon the beach.  I then made up many packages of
rubies, emeralds, rock crystal, ambergris, and precious stuffs, and
bound them upon my raft, being careful to preserve the balance, and
then I seated myself upon it, having two small oars that I had
fashioned laid ready to my hand, and loosed the cord which held it to
the bank.  Once out in the current my raft flew swiftly under the
gloomy archway, and I found myself in total darkness, carried smoothly
forward by the rapid river.  On I went as it seemed to me for many
nights and days.  Once the channel became so small that I had a narrow
escape of being crushed against the rocky roof, and after that I took
the precaution of lying flat upon my precious bales.  Though I only ate
what was absolutely necessary to keep myself alive, the inevitable
moment came when, after swallowing my last morsel of food, I began to
wonder if I must after all die of hunger.  Then, worn out with anxiety
and fatigue, I fell into a deep sleep, and when I again opened my eyes
I was once more in the light of day; a beautiful country lay before me,
and my raft, which was tied to the river bank, was surrounded by
friendly looking black men.  I rose and saluted them, and they spoke to
me in return, but I could not understand a word of their language.
Feeling perfectly bewildered by my sudden return to life and light, I
murmured to myself in Arabic, "Close thine eyes, and while thou
sleepest Heaven will change thy fortune from evil to good."

One of the natives, who understood this tongue, then came forward
saying:

"My brother, be not surprised to see us; this is our land, and as we
came to get water from the river we noticed your raft floating down it,
and one of us swam out and brought you to the shore.  We have waited
for your awakening; tell us now whence you come and where you were
going by that dangerous way?"

I replied that nothing would please me better than to tell them, but
that I was starving, and would fain eat something first.  I was soon
supplied with all I needed, and having satisfied my hunger I told them
faithfully all that had befallen me.  They were lost in wonder at my
tale when it was interpreted to them, and said that adventures so
surprising must be related to their king only by the man to whom they
had happened.  So, procuring a horse, they mounted me upon it, and we
set out, followed by several strong men carrying my raft just as it was
upon their shoulders.  In this order we marched into the city of
Serendib, where the natives presented me to their king, whom I saluted
in the Indian fashion, prostrating myself at his feet and kissing the
ground; but the monarch bade me rise and sit beside him, asking first
what was my name.

"I am Sindbad," I replied, "whom men call `the Sailor,' for I have
voyaged much upon many seas."

"And how come you here?" asked the king.

I told my story, concealing nothing, and his surprise and delight were
so great that he ordered my adventures to be written in letters of gold
and laid up in the archives of his kingdom.

Presently my raft was brought in and the bales opened in his presence,
and the king declared that in all his treasury there were no such
rubies and emeralds as those which lay in great heaps before him.
Seeing that he looked at them with interest, I ventured to say that I
myself and all that I had were at his disposal, but he answered me
smiling:

"Nay, Sindbad.  Heaven forbid that I should covet your riches; I will
rather add to them, for I desire that you shall not leave my kingdom
without some tokens of my good will."  He then commanded his officers
to provide me with a suitable lodging at his expense, and sent slaves
to wait upon me and carry my raft and my bales to my new dwelling
place.  You may imagine that I praised his generosity and gave him
grateful thanks, nor did I fail to present myself daily in his audience
chamber, and for the rest of my time I amused myself in seeing all that
was most worthy of attention in the city.  The island of Serendib being
situated on the equinoctial line, the days and nights there are of
equal length.  The chief city is placed at the end of a beautiful
valley, formed by the highest mountain in the world, which is in the
middle of the island.  I had the curiosity to ascend to its very
summit, for this was the place to which Adam was banished out of
Paradise.  Here are found rubies and many precious things, and rare
plants grow abundantly, with cedar trees and cocoa palms.  On the
seashore and at the mouths of the rivers the divers seek for pearls,
and in some valleys diamonds are plentiful.  After many days I
petitioned the king that I might return to my own country, to which he
graciously consented.  Moreover, he loaded me with rich gifts, and when
I went to take leave of him he entrusted me with a royal present and a
letter to the Commander of the Faithful, our sovereign lord, saying, "I
pray you give these to the Caliph Haroun al Raschid, and assure him of
my friendship."

I accepted the charge respectfully, and soon embarked upon the vessel
which the king himself had chosen for me.  The king's letter was
written in blue characters upon a rare and precious skin of yellowish
colour, and these were the words of it: "The King of the Indies, before
whom walk a thousand elephants, who lives in a palace, of which the
roof blazes with a hundred thousand rubies, and whose treasure house
contains twenty thousand diamond crowns, to the Caliph Haroun al
Raschid sends greeting.  Though the offering we present to you is
unworthy of your notice, we pray you to accept it as a mark of the
esteem and friendship which we cherish for you, and of which we gladly
send you this token, and we ask of you a like regard if you deem us
worthy of it.  Adieu, brother."

The present consisted of a vase carved from a single ruby, six inches
high and as thick as my finger; this was filled with the choicest
pearls, large, and of perfect shape and lustre; secondly, a huge snake
skin, with scales as large as a sequin, which would preserve from
sickness those who slept upon it.  Then quantities of aloes wood,
camphor, and pistachio-nuts; and lastly, a beautiful slave girl, whose
robes glittered with precious stones.

After a long and prosperous voyage we landed at Balsora, and I made
haste to reach Bagdad, and taking the king's letter I presented myself
at the palace gate, followed by the beautiful slave, and various
members of my own family, bearing the treasure.

As soon as I had declared my errand I was conducted into the presence
of the Caliph, to whom, after I had made my obeisance, I gave the
letter and the king's gift, and when he had examined them he demanded
of me whether the Prince of Serendib was really as rich and powerful as
he claimed to be.

"Commander of the Faithful," I replied, again bowing humbly before him,
"I can assure your Majesty that he has in no way exaggerated his wealth
and grandeur.  Nothing can equal the magnificence of his palace.  When
he goes abroad his throne is prepared upon the back of an elephant, and
on either side of him ride his ministers, his favourites, and
courtiers.  On his elephant's neck sits an officer, his golden lance in
his hand, and behind him stands another bearing a pillar of gold, at
the top of which is an emerald as long as my hand.  A thousand men in
cloth of gold, mounted upon richly caparisoned elephants, go before
him, and as the procession moves onward the officer who guides his
elephant cries aloud, `Behold the mighty monarch, the powerful and
valiant Sultan of the Indies, whose palace is covered with a hundred
thousand rubies, who possesses twenty thousand diamond crowns.  Behold
a monarch greater than Solomon and Mihrage in all their glory!'"

"Then the one who stands behind the throne answers:  'This king, so
great and powerful, must die, must die, must die!'"

"And the first takes up the chant again, `All praise to Him who lives
for evermore.'"

"Further, my lord, in Serendib no judge is needed, for to the king
himself his people come for justice."

The Caliph was well satisfied with my report.

"From the king's letter," said he, "I judged that he was a wise man.
It seems that he is worthy of his people, and his people of him."

So saying he dismissed me with rich presents, and I returned in peace
to my own house.

When Sindbad had done speaking his guests withdrew, Hindbad having
first received a hundred sequins, but all returned next day to hear the
story of the seventh voyage, Sindbad thus began.



Seventh and Last Voyage


After my sixth voyage I was quite determined that I would go to sea no
more.  I was now of an age to appreciate a quiet life, and I had run
risks enough.  I only wished to end my days in peace.  One day,
however, when I was entertaining a number of my friends, I was told
that an officer of the Caliph wished to speak to me, and when he was
admitted he bade me follow him into the presence of Haroun al Raschid,
which I accordingly did.  After I had saluted him, the Caliph said:

"I have sent for you, Sindbad, because I need your services.  I have
chosen you to bear a letter and a gift to the King of Serendib in
return for his message of friendship."

The Caliph's commandment fell upon me like a thunderbolt.

"Commander of the Faithful," I answered, "I am ready to do all that
your Majesty commands, but I humbly pray you to remember that I am
utterly disheartened by the unheard of sufferings I have undergone.
Indeed, I have made a vow never again to leave Bagdad."

With this I gave him a long account of some of my strangest adventures,
to which he listened patiently.

"I admit," said he, "that you have indeed had some extraordinary
experiences, but I do not see why they should hinder you from doing as
I wish.  You have only to go straight to Serendib and give my message,
then you are free to come back and do as you will.  But go you must; my
honour and dignity demand it."

Seeing that there was no help for it, I declared myself willing to
obey; and the Caliph, delighted at having got his own way, gave me a
thousand sequins for the expenses of the voyage.  I was soon ready to
start, and taking the letter and the present I embarked at Balsora, and
sailed quickly and safely to Serendib.  Here, when I had disclosed my
errand, I was well received, and brought into the presence of the king,
who greeted me with joy.

"Welcome, Sindbad," he cried.  "I have thought of you often, and
rejoice to see you once more."

After thanking him for the honour that he did me, I displayed the
Caliph's gifts.  First a bed with complete hangings all cloth of gold,
which cost a thousand sequins, and another like to it of crimson stuff.
Fifty robes of rich embroidery, a hundred of the finest white linen
from Cairo, Suez, Cufa, and Alexandria.  Then more beds of different
fashion, and an agate vase carved with the figure of a man aiming an
arrow at a lion, and finally a costly table, which had once belonged to
King Solomon.  The King of Serendib received with satisfaction the
assurance of the Caliph's friendliness toward him, and now my task
being accomplished I was anxious to depart, but it was some time before
the king would think of letting me go.  At last, however, he dismissed
me with many presents, and I lost no time in going on board a ship,
which sailed at once, and for four days all went well.  On the fifth
day we had the misfortune to fall in with pirates, who seized our
vessel, killing all who resisted, and making prisoners of those who
were prudent enough to submit at once, of whom I was one.  When they
had despoiled us of all we possessed, they forced us to put on vile
raiment, and sailing to a distant island there sold us for slaves.  I
fell into the hands of a rich merchant, who took me home with him, and
clothed and fed me well, and after some days sent for me and questioned
me as to what I could do.

I answered that I was a rich merchant who had been captured by pirates,
and therefore I knew no trade.

"Tell me," said he, "can you shoot with a bow?"

I replied that this had been one of the pastimes of my youth, and that
doubtless with practice my skill would come back to me.

Upon this he provided me with a bow and arrows, and mounting me with
him upon his own elephant took the way to a vast forest which lay far
from the town.  When we had reached the wildest part of it we stopped,
and my master said to me:  "This forest swarms with elephants.  Hide
yourself in this great tree, and shoot at all that pass you.  When you
have succeeded in killing one come and tell me."

So saying he gave me a supply of food, and returned to the town, and I
perched myself high up in the tree and kept watch.  That night I saw
nothing, but just after sunrise the next morning a large herd of
elephants came crashing and trampling by.  I lost no time in letting
fly several arrows, and at last one of the great animals fell to the
ground dead, and the others retreated, leaving me free to come down
from my hiding place and run back to tell my master of my success, for
which I was praised and regaled with good things.  Then we went back to
the forest together and dug a mighty trench in which we buried the
elephant I had killed, in order that when it became a skeleton my
master might return and secure its tusks.

For two months I hunted thus, and no day passed without my securing, an
elephant.  Of course I did not always station myself in the same tree,
but sometimes in one place, sometimes in another.  One morning as I
watched the coming of the elephants I was surprised to see that,
instead of passing the tree I was in, as they usually did, they paused,
and completely surrounded it, trumpeting horribly, and shaking the very
ground with their heavy tread, and when I saw that their eyes were
fixed upon me I was terrified, and my arrows dropped from my trembling
hand.  I had indeed good reason for my terror when, an instant later,
the largest of the animals wound his trunk round the stem of my tree,
and with one mighty effort tore it up by the roots, bringing me to the
ground entangled in its branches.  I thought now that my last hour was
surely come; but the huge creature, picking me up gently enough, set me
upon its back, where I clung more dead than alive, and followed by the
whole herd turned and crashed off into the dense forest.  It seemed to
me a long time before I was once more set upon my feet by the elephant,
and I stood as if in a dream watching the herd, which turned and
trampled off in another direction, and were soon hidden in the dense
underwood.  Then, recovering myself, I looked about me, and found that
I was standing upon the side of a great hill, strewn as far as I could
see on either hand with bones and tusks of elephants.  "This then must
be the elephants' burying place," I said to myself, "and they must have
brought me here that I might cease to persecute them, seeing that I
want nothing but their tusks, and here lie more than I could carry away
in a lifetime."

Whereupon I turned and made for the city as fast as I could go, not
seeing a single elephant by the way, which convinced me that they had
retired deeper into the forest to leave the way open to the Ivory Hill,
and I did not know how sufficiently to admire their sagacity.  After a
day and a night I reached my master's house, and was received by him
with joyful surprise.

"Ah! poor Sindbad," he cried, "I was wondering what could have become
of you.  When I went to the forest I found the tree newly uprooted, and
the arrows lying beside it, and I feared I should never see you again.
Pray tell me how you escaped death."

I soon satisfied his curiosity, and the next day we went together to
the Ivory Hill, and he was overjoyed to find that I had told him
nothing but the truth.  When we had loaded our elephant with as many
tusks as it could carry and were on our way back to the city, he said:

"My brother--since I can no longer treat as a slave one who has
enriched me thus--take your liberty and may Heaven prosper you.  I will
no longer conceal from you that these wild elephants have killed
numbers of our slaves every year.  No matter what good advice we gave
them, they were caught sooner or later.  You alone have escaped the
wiles of these animals, therefore you must be under the special
protection of Heaven.  Now through you the whole town will be enriched
without further loss of life, therefore you shall not only receive your
liberty, but I will also bestow a fortune upon you."

To which I replied, "Master, I thank you, and wish you all prosperity.
For myself I only ask liberty to return to my own country."

"It is well," he answered, "the monsoon will soon bring the ivory ships
hither, then I will send you on your way with somewhat to pay your
passage."

So I stayed with him till the time of the monsoon, and every day we
added to our store of ivory till all his ware-houses were overflowing
with it.  By this time the other merchants knew the secret, but there
was enough and to spare for all.  When the ships at last arrived my
master himself chose the one in which I was to sail, and put on board
for me a great store of choice provisions, also ivory in abundance, and
all the costliest curiosities of the country, for which I could not
thank him enough, and so we parted.  I left the ship at the first port
we came to, not feeling at ease upon the sea after all that had
happened to me by reason of it, and having disposed of my ivory for
much gold, and bought many rare and costly presents, I loaded my pack
animals, and joined a caravan of merchants.  Our journey was long and
tedious, but I bore it patiently, reflecting that at least I had not to
fear tempests, nor pirates, nor serpents, nor any of the other perils
from which I had suffered before, and at length we reached Bagdad.  My
first care was to present myself before the Caliph, and give him an
account of my embassy.  He assured me that my long absence had
disquieted him much, but he had nevertheless hoped for the best.  As to
my adventure among the elephants he heard it with amazement, declaring
that he could not have believed it had not my truthfulness been well
known to him.

By his orders this story and the others I had told him were written by
his scribes in letters of gold, and laid up among his treasures.  I
took my leave of him, well satisfied with the honours and rewards he
bestowed upon me; and since that time I have rested from my labours,
and given myself up wholly to my family and my friends.

Thus Sindbad ended the story of his seventh and last voyage, and
turning to Hindbad he added:

"Well, my friend, and what do you think now?  Have you ever heard of
anyone who has suffered more, or had more narrow escapes than I have?
Is it not just that I should now enjoy a life of ease and tranquillity?"

Hindbad drew near, and kissing his hand respectfully, replied, "Sir,
you have indeed known fearful perils; my troubles have been nothing
compared to yours.  Moreover, the generous use you make of your wealth
proves that you deserve it.  May you live long and happily in the
enjoyment in it."

Sindbad then gave him a hundred sequins, and hence-forward counted him
among his friends; also he caused him to give up his profession as a
porter, and to eat daily at his table that he might all his life
remember Sindbad the Sailor.



The Little Hunchback


In the kingdom of Kashgar, which is, as everybody knows, situated on
the frontiers of Great Tartary, there lived long ago a tailor and his
wife who loved each other very much.  One day, when the tailor was hard
at work, a little hunchback came and sat at the entrance of the shop,
and began to sing and play his tambourine.  The tailor was amused with
the antics of the fellow, and thought he would take him home to divert
his wife.  The hunchback having agreed to his proposal, the tailor
closed his shop and they set off together.

When they reached the house they found the table ready laid for supper,
and in a very few minutes all three were sitting before a beautiful
fish which the tailor's wife had cooked with her own hands.  But
unluckily, the hunchback happened to swallow a large bone, and, in
spite of all the tailor and his wife could do to help him, died of
suffocation in an instant.  Besides being very sorry for the poor man,
the tailor and his wife were very much frightened on their own account,
for if the police came to hear of it the worthy couple ran the risk of
being thrown into prison for wilful murder.  In order to prevent this
dreadful calamity they both set about inventing some plan which would
throw suspicion on some one else, and at last they made up their minds
that they could do no better than select a Jewish doctor who lived
close by as the author of the crime.  So the tailor picked up the
hunchback by his head while his wife took his feet and carried him to
the doctor's house.  Then they knocked at the door, which opened
straight on to a steep staircase.  A servant soon appeared, feeling her
way down the dark staircase and inquired what they wanted.

"Tell your master," said the tailor, "that we have brought a very sick
man for him to cure; and," he added, holding out some money, "give him
this in advance, so that he may not feel he is wasting his time." The
servant remounted the stairs to give the message to the doctor, and the
moment she was out of sight the tailor and his wife carried the body
swiftly after her, propped it up at the top of the staircase, and ran
home as fast as their legs could carry them.

Now the doctor was so delighted at the news of a patient (for he was
young, and had not many of them), that he was transported with joy.

"Get a light," he called to the servant, "and follow me as fast as you
can!" and rushing out of his room he ran towards the staircase.  There
he nearly fell over the body of the hunchback, and without knowing what
it was gave it such a kick that it rolled right to the bottom, and very
nearly dragged the doctor after it.  "A light! a light!" he cried
again, and when it was brought and he saw what he had done he was
almost beside himself with terror.

"Holy Moses!" he exclaimed, "why did I not wait for the light?  I have
killed the sick man whom they brought me; and if the sacred Ass of
Esdras does not come to my aid I am lost!  It will not be long before I
am led to jail as a murderer."

Agitated though he was, and with reason, the doctor did not forget to
shut the house door, lest some passers-by might chance to see what had
happened.  He then took up the corpse and carried it into his wife's
room, nearly driving her crazy with fright.

"It is all over with us!" she wailed, "if we cannot find some means of
getting the body out of the house.  Once let the sun rise and we can
hide it no longer!  How were you driven to commit such a terrible
crime?"

"Never mind that," returned the doctor, "the thing is to find a way out
of it."

For a long while the doctor and his wife continued to turn over in
their minds a way of escape, but could not find any that seemed good
enough.  At last the doctor gave it up altogether and resigned himself
to bear the penalty of his misfortune.

But his wife, who had twice his brains, suddenly exclaimed, "I have
thought of something!  Let us carry the body on the roof of the house
and lower it down the chimney of our neighbour the Mussulman." Now this
Mussulman was employed by the Sultan, and furnished his table with oil
and butter.  Part of his house was occupied by a great storeroom, where
rats and mice held high revel.

The doctor jumped at his wife's plan, and they took up the hunchback,
and passing cords under his armpits they let him down into the
purveyor's bed-room so gently that he really seemed to be leaning
against the wall.  When they felt he was touching the ground they drew
up the cords and left him.

Scarcely had they got back to their own house when the purveyor entered
his room.  He had spent the evening at a wedding feast, and had a
lantern in his hand.  In the dim light it cast he was astonished to see
a man standing in his chimney, but being naturally courageous he seized
a stick and made straight for the supposed thief.  "Ah!" he cried, "so
it is you, and not the rats and mice, who steal my butter.  I'll take
care that you don't want to come back!"

So saying he struck him several hard blows.  The corpse fell on the
floor, but the man only redoubled his blows, till at length it occurred
to him it was odd that the thief should lie so still and make no
resistance.  Then, finding he was quite dead, a cold fear took
possession of him.  "Wretch that I am," said he, "I have murdered a
man.  Ah, my revenge has gone too far.  Without the help of Allah I am
undone!  Cursed be the goods which have led me to my ruin." And already
he felt the rope round his neck.

But when he had got over the first shock he began to think of some way
out of the difficulty, and seizing the hunchback in his arms he carried
him out into the street, and leaning him against the wall of a shop he
stole back to his own house, without once looking behind him.

A few minutes before the sun rose, a rich Christian merchant, who
supplied the palace with all sorts of necessaries, left his house,
after a night of feasting, to go to the bath.  Though he was very
drunk, he was yet sober enough to know that the dawn was at hand, and
that all good Mussulmen would shortly be going to prayer.  So he
hastened his steps lest he should meet some one on his way to the
mosque, who, seeing his condition, would send him to prison as a
drunkard.  In his haste he jostled against the hunchback, who fell
heavily upon him, and the merchant, thinking he was being attacked by a
thief, knocked him down with one blow of his fist.  He then called
loudly for help, beating the fallen man all the while.

The chief policeman of the quarter came running up, and found a
Christian ill-treating a Mussulman.  "What are you doing?" he asked
indignantly.

"He tried to rob me," replied the merchant, "and very nearly choked me."

"Well, you have had your revenge," said the man, catching hold of his
arm.  "Come, be off with you!"

As he spoke he held out his hand to the hunchback to help him up, but
the hunchback never moved.  "Oho!" he went on, looking closer, "so this
is the way a Christian has the impudence to treat a Mussulman!" and
seizing the merchant in a firm grasp he took him to the inspector of
police, who threw him into prison till the judge should be out of bed
and ready to attend to his case.  All this brought the merchant to his
senses, but the more he thought of it the less he could understand how
the hunchback could have died merely from the blows he had received.

The merchant was still pondering on this subject when he was summoned
before the chief of police and questioned about his crime, which he
could not deny.  As the hunchback was one of the Sultan's private
jesters, the chief of police resolved to defer sentence of death until
he had consulted his master.  He went to the palace to demand an
audience, and told his story to the Sultan, who only answered,

"There is no pardon for a Christian who kills a Mussulman.  Do your
duty."

So the chief of police ordered a gallows to be erected, and sent criers
to proclaim in every street in the city that a Christian was to be
hanged that day for having killed a Mussulman.

When all was ready the merchant was brought from prison and led to the
foot of the gallows.  The executioner knotted the cord firmly round the
unfortunate man's neck and was just about to swing him into the air,
when the Sultan's purveyor dashed through the crowd, and cried,
panting, to the hangman,

"Stop, stop, don't be in such a hurry.  It was not he who did the
murder, it was I."

The chief of police, who was present to see that everything was in
order, put several questions to the purveyor, who told him the whole
story of the death of the hunchback, and how he had carried the body to
the place where it had been found by the Christian merchant.

"You are going," he said to the chief of police, "to kill an innocent
man, for it is impossible that he should have murdered a creature who
was dead already.  It is bad enough for me to have slain a Mussulman
without having it on my conscience that a Christian who is guiltless
should suffer through my fault."

Now the purveyor's speech had been made in a loud voice, and was heard
by all the crowd, and even if he had wished it, the chief of police
could not have escaped setting the merchant free.

"Loose the cords from the Christian's neck," he commanded, turning to
the executioner, "and hang this man in his place, seeing that by his
own confession he is the murderer."

The hangman did as he was bid, and was tying the cord firmly, when he
was stopped by the voice of the Jewish doctor beseeching him to pause,
for he had something very important to say.  When he had fought his way
through the crowd and reached the chief of police,

"Worshipful sir," he began, "this Mussulman whom you desire to hang is
unworthy of death; I alone am guilty.  Last night a man and a woman who
were strangers to me knocked at my door, bringing with them a patient
for me to cure.  The servant opened it, but having no light was hardly
able to make out their faces, though she readily agreed to wake me and
to hand me the fee for my services.  While she was telling me her story
they seem to have carried the sick man to the top of the staircase and
then left him there.  I jumped up in a hurry without waiting for a
lantern, and in the darkness I fell against something, which tumbled
headlong down the stairs and never stopped till it reached the bottom.
When I examined the body I found it was quite dead, and the corpse was
that of a hunchback Mussulman.  Terrified at what we had done, my wife
and I took the body on the roof and let it down the chimney of our
neighbour the purveyor, whom you were just about to hang.  The
purveyor, finding him in his room, naturally thought he was a thief,
and struck him such a blow that the man fell down and lay motionless on
the floor.  Stooping to examine him, and finding him stone dead, the
purveyor supposed that the man had died from the blow he had received;
but of course this was a mistake, as you will see from my account, and
I only am the murderer; and although I am innocent of any wish to
commit a crime, I must suffer for it all the same, or else have the
blood of two Musselmans on my conscience.  Therefore send away this
man, I pray you, and let me take his place, as it is I who am guilty."

On hearing the declaration of the Jewish doctor, the chief of police
commanded that he should be led to the gallows, and the Sultan's
purveyor go free.  The cord was placed round the Jew's neck, and his
feet had already ceased to touch the ground when the voice of the
tailor was heard beseeching the executioner to pause one moment and to
listen to what he had to say.

"Oh, my lord," he cried, turning to the chief of police, "how nearly
have you caused the death of three innocent people!  But if you will
only have the patience to listen to my tale, you shall know who is the
real culprit.  If some one has to suffer, it must be me!  Yesterday, at
dusk, I was working in my shop with a light heart when the little
hunchback, who was more than half drunk, came and sat in the doorway.
He sang me several songs, and then I invited him to finish the evening
at my house.  He accepted my invitation, and we went away together.  At
supper I helped him to a slice of fish, but in eating it a bone stuck
in his throat, and in spite of all we could do he died in a few
minutes.  We felt deeply sorry for his death, but fearing lest we
should be held responsible, we carried the corpse to the house of the
Jewish doctor.  I knocked, and desired the servant to beg her master to
come down as fast as possible and see a sick man whom we had brought
for him to cure; and in order to hasten his movements I placed a piece
of money in her hand as the doctor's fee.  Directly she had disappeared
I dragged the body to the top of the stairs, and then hurried away with
my wife back to our house.  In descending the stairs the doctor
accidentally knocked over the corpse, and finding him dead believed
that he himself was the murderer.  But now you know the truth set him
free, and let me die in his stead."

The chief of police and the crowd of spectators were lost in
astonishment at the strange events to which the death of the hunchback
had given rise.

"Loosen the Jewish doctor," said he to the hangman, "and string up the
tailor instead, since he has made confession of his crime.  Really, one
cannot deny that this is a very singular story, and it deserves to be
written in letters of gold."

The executioner speedily untied the knots which confined the doctor,
and was passing the cord round the neck of the tailor, when the Sultan
of Kashgar, who had missed his jester, happened to make inquiry of his
officers as to what had become of him.

"Sire," replied they, "the hunchback having drunk more than was good
for him, escaped from the palace and was seen wandering about the town,
where this morning he was found dead.  A man was arrested for having
caused his death, and held in custody till a gallows was erected.  At
the moment that he was about to suffer punishment, first one man
arrived, and then another, each accusing themselves of the murder, and
this went on for a long time, and at the present instant the chief of
police is engaged in questioning a man who declares that he alone is
the true assassin."

The Sultan of Kashgar no sooner heard these words than he ordered an
usher to go to the chief of police and to bring all the persons
concerned in the hunchback's death, together with the corpse, that he
wished to see once again.  The usher hastened on his errand, but was
only just in time, for the tailor was positively swinging in the air,
when his voice fell upon the silence of the crowd, commanding the
hangman to cut down the body.  The hangman, recognising the usher as
one of the king's servants, cut down the tailor, and the usher, seeing
the man was safe, sought the chief of police and gave him the Sultan's
message.  Accordingly, the chief of police at once set out for the
palace, taking with him the tailor, the doctor, the purveyor, and the
merchant, who bore the dead hunchback on their shoulders.

When the procession reached the palace the chief of police prostrated
himself at the feet of the Sultan, and related all that he knew of the
matter.  The Sultan was so much struck by the circumstances that he
ordered his private historian to write down an exact account of what
had passed, so that in the years to come the miraculous escape of the
four men who had thought themselves murderers might never be forgotten.

The Sultan asked everybody concerned in the hunchback's affair to tell
him their stories.  Among others was a prating barber, whose tale of
one of his brothers follows.



The Story of the Barber's Fifth Brother


As long as our father lived Alnaschar was very idle.  Instead of
working for his bread he was not ashamed to ask for it every evening,
and to support himself next day on what he had received the night
before.  When our father died, worn out by age, he only left seven
hundred silver drachmas to be divided amongst us, which made one
hundred for each son.  Alnaschar, who had never possessed so much money
in his life, was quite puzzled to know what to do with it.  After
reflecting upon the matter for some time he decided to lay it out on
glasses, bottles, and things of that sort, which he would buy from a
wholesale merchant.  Having bought his stock he next proceeded to look
out for a small shop in a good position, where he sat down at the open
door, his wares being piled up in an uncovered basket in front of him,
waiting for a customer among the passers-by.

In this attitude he remained seated, his eyes fixed on the basket, but
his thoughts far away.  Unknown to himself he began to talk out loud,
and a tailor, whose shop was next door to his, heard quite plainly what
he was saying.

"This basket," said Alnaschar to himself, "has cost me a hundred
drachmas--all that I possess in the world.  Now in selling the
contents piece by piece I shall turn two hundred, and these hundreds I
shall again lay out in glass, which will produce four hundred.  By this
means I shall in course of time make four thousand drachmas, which will
easily double themselves.  When I have got ten thousand I will give up
the glass trade and become a jeweller, and devote all my time to
trading in pearls, diamonds, and other precious stones.  At last,
having all the wealth that heart can desire, I will buy a beautiful
country house, with horses and slaves, and then I will lead a merry
life and entertain my friends.  At my feasts I will send for musicians
and dancers from the neighbouring town to amuse my guests.  In spite of
my riches I shall not, however, give up trade till I have amassed a
capital of a hundred thousand drachmas, when, having become a man of
much consideration, I shall request the hand of the grand-vizir's
daughter, taking care to inform the worthy father that I have heard
favourable reports of her beauty and wit, and that I will pay down on
our wedding day 3 thousand gold pieces.  Should the vizir refuse my
proposal, which after all is hardly to be expected, I will seize him by
the beard and drag him to my house."

When I shall have married his daughter I will give her ten of the best
eunuchs that can be found for her service.  Then I shall put on my most
gorgeous robes, and mounted on a horse with a saddle of fine gold, and
its trappings blazing with diamonds, followed by a train of slaves, I
shall present myself at the house of the grand-vizir, the people
casting down their eyes and bowing low as I pass along.  At the foot of
the grand-vizir's staircase I shall dismount, and while my servants
stand in a row to right and left I shall ascend the stairs, at the head
of which the grand-vizir will be waiting to receive me.  He will then
embrace me as his son-in-law, and giving me his seat will place himself
below me.  This being done (as I have every reason to expect), two of
my servants will enter, each bearing a purse containing a thousand
pieces of gold.  One of these I shall present to him saying, "Here are
the thousand gold pieces that I offered for your daughter's hand, and
here," I shall continue, holding out the second purse, "are another
thousand to show you that I am a man who is better than his word."
After hearing of such generosity the world will talk of nothing else.

I shall return home with the same pomp as I set out, and my wife will
send an officer to compliment me on my visit to her father, and I shall
confer on the officer the honour of a rich dress and a handsome gift.
Should she send one to me I shall refuse it and dismiss the bearer.  I
shall never allow my wife to leave her rooms on any pretext whatever
without my permission, and my visits to her will be marked by all the
ceremony calculated to inspire respect.  No establishment will be
better ordered than mine, and I shall take care always to be dressed in
a manner suitable to my position.  In the evening, when we retire to
our apartments, I shall sit in the place of honour, where I shall
assume a grand demeanour and speak little, gazing straight before me,
and when my wife, lovely as the full moon, stands humbly in front of my
chair I shall pretend not to see her.  Then her women will say to me,
"Respected lord and master, your wife and slave is before you waiting
to be noticed.  She is mortified that you never deign to look her way;
she is tired of standing so long.  Beg her, we pray you, to be seated."
Of course I shall give no signs of even hearing this speech, which will
vex them mightily.  They will throw themselves at my feet with
lamentations, and at length I will raise my head and throw a careless
glance at her, then I shall go back to my former attitude.  The women
will think that I am displeased at my wife's dress and will lead her
away to put on a finer one, and I on my side shall replace the one I am
wearing with another yet more splendid.  They will then return to the
charge, but this time it will take much longer before they persuade me
even to look at my wife.  It is as well to begin on my wedding-day as I
mean to go on for the rest of our lives.

The next day she will complain to her mother of the way she has been
treated, which will fill my heart with joy.  Her mother will come to
seek me, and, kissing my hands with respect, will say, "My lord" (for
she could not dare to risk my anger by using the familiar title of
"son-in-law"), "My lord, do not, I implore you, refuse to look upon my
daughter or to approach her.  She only lives to please you, and loves
you with all her soul." But I shall pay no more heed to my
mother-in-law's words than I did to those of the women.  Again she will
beseech me to listen to her entreaties, throwing herself this time at
my feet, but all to no purpose.  Then, putting a glass of wine into my
wife's hand, she will say to her, "There, present that to him yourself,
he cannot have the cruelty to reject anything offered by so beautiful a
hand," and my wife will take it and offer it to me tremblingly with
tears in her eyes, but I shall look in the other direction.  This will
cause her to weep still more, and she will hold out the glass crying,
"Adorable husband, never shall I cease my prayers till you have done me
the favour to drink."  Sick of her importunities, these words will goad
me to fury.  I shall dart an angry look at her and give her a sharp
blow on the cheek, at the same time giving her a kick so violent that
she will stagger across the room and fall on to the sofa.

"My brother," pursued the barber, "was so much absorbed in his dreams
that he actually did give a kick with his foot, which unluckily hit the
basket of glass.  It fell into the street and was instantly broken into
a thousand pieces."

His neighbour the tailor, who had been listening to his visions, broke
into a loud fit of laughter as he saw this sight.

"Wretched man!" he cried, "you ought to die of shame at behaving so to
a young wife who has done nothing to you.  You must be a brute for her
tears and prayers not to touch your heart.  If I were the grand-vizir I
would order you a hundred blows from a bullock whip, and would have you
led round the town accompanied by a herald who should proclaim your
crimes."

The accident, so fatal to all his profits, had restored my brother to
his senses, and seeing that the mischief had been caused by his own
insufferable pride, he rent his clothes and tore his hair, and lamented
himself so loudly that the passers-by stopped to listen.  It was a
Friday, so these were more numerous than usual.  Some pitied Alnaschar,
others only laughed at him, but the vanity which had gone to his head
had disappeared with his basket of glass, and he was loudly bewailing
his folly when a lady, evidently a person of consideration, rode by on
a mule.  She stopped and inquired what was the matter, and why the man
wept.  They told her that he was a poor man who had laid out all his
money on this basket of glass, which was now broken.  On hearing the
cause of these loud wails the lady turned to her attendant and said to
him, "Give him whatever you have got with you."  The man obeyed, and
placed in my brother's hands a purse containing five hundred pieces of
gold.  Alnaschar almost died of joy on receiving it.  He blessed the
lady a thousand times, and, shutting up his shop where he had no longer
anything to do, he returned home.

He was still absorbed in contemplating his good fortune, when a knock
came to his door, and on opening it he found an old woman standing
outside.

"My son," she said, "I have a favour to ask of you.  It is the hour of
prayer and I have not yet washed myself.  Let me, I beg you, enter your
house, and give me water."

My brother, although the old woman was a stranger to him, did not
hesitate to do as she wished.  He gave her a vessel of water and then
went back to his place and his thoughts, and with his mind busy over
his last adventure, he put his gold into a long and narrow purse, which
he could easily carry in his belt.  During this time the old woman was
busy over her prayers, and when she had finished she came and
prostrated herself twice before my brother, and then rising called down
endless blessings on his head.  Observing her shabby clothes, my
brother thought that her gratitude was in reality a hint that he should
give her some money to buy some new ones, so he held out two pieces of
gold.  The old woman started back in surprise as if she had received an
insult.  "Good heavens!" she exclaimed, "what is the meaning of this?
Is it possible that you take me, my lord, for one of those miserable
creatures who force their way into houses to beg for alms?  Take back
your money.  I am thankful to say I do not need it, for I belong to a
beautiful lady who is very rich and gives me everything I want."

My brother was not clever enough to detect that the old woman had
merely refused the two pieces of money he had offered her in order to
get more, but he inquired if she could procure him the pleasure of
seeing this lady.

"Willingly," she replied; "and she will be charmed to marry you, and to
make you the master of all her wealth.  So pick up your money and
follow me."

Delighted at the thought that he had found so easily both a fortune and
a beautiful wife, my brother asked no more questions, but concealing
his purse, with the money the lady had given him, in the folds of his
dress, he set out joyfully with his guide.

They walked for some distance till the old woman stopped at a large
house, where she knocked.  The door was opened by a young Greek slave,
and the old woman led my brother across a well-paved court into a
well-furnished hall.  Here she left him to inform her mistress of his
presence, and as the day was hot he flung himself on a pile of cushions
and took off his heavy turban.  In a few minutes there entered a lady,
and my brother perceived at the first glance that she was even more
beautiful and more richly dressed than he had expected.  He rose from
his seat, but the lady signed to him to sit down again and placed
herself beside him.  After the usual compliments had passed between
them she said, "We are not comfortable here, let us go into another
room," and passing into a smaller chamber, apparently communicating
with no other, she continued to talk to him for some time.  Then rising
hastily she left him, saying, "Stay where you are, I will come back in
a moment."

He waited as he was told, but instead of the lady there entered a huge
black slave with a sword in his hand.  Approaching my brother with an
angry countenance he exclaimed, "What business have you here?" His
voice and manner were so terrific that Alnaschar had not strength to
reply, and allowed his gold to be taken from him, and even sabre cuts
to be inflicted on him without making any resistance.  As soon as he
was let go, he sank on the ground powerless to move, though he still
had possession of his senses.  Thinking he was dead, the black ordered
the Greek slave to bring him some salt, and between them they rubbed it
into his wounds, thus giving him acute agony, though he had the
presence of mind to give no sign of life.  They then left him, and
their place was taken by the old woman, who dragged him to a trapdoor
and threw him down into a vault filled with the bodies of murdered men.

At first the violence of his fall caused him to lose consciousness, but
luckily the salt which had been rubbed into his wounds had by its
smarting preserved his life, and little by little he regained his
strength.  At the end of two days he lifted the trapdoor during the
night and hid himself in the courtyard till daybreak, when he saw the
old woman leave the house in search of more prey.  Luckily she did not
observe him, and when she was out of sight he stole from this nest of
assassins and took refuge in my house.

I dressed his wounds and tended him carefully, and when a month had
passed he was as well as ever.  His one thought was how to be revenged
on that wicked old hag, and for this purpose he had a purse made large
enough to contain five hundred gold pieces, but filled it instead with
bits of glass.  This he tied round him with his sash, and, disguising
himself as an old woman, he took a sabre, which he hid under his dress.

One morning as he was hobbling through the streets he met his old enemy
prowling to see if she could find anyone to decoy.  He went up to her
and, imitating the voice of a woman, he said, "Do you happen to have a
pair of scales you could lend me?  I have just come from Persia and
have brought with me five hundred gold pieces, and I am anxious to see
if they are the proper weight."

"Good woman," replied the old hag, "you could not have asked anyone
better.  My son is a money-changer, and if you will follow me he will
weigh them for you himself.  Only we must be quick or he will have gone
to his shop."  So saying she led the way to the same house as before,
and the door was opened by the same Greek slave.

Again my brother was left in the hall, and the pretended son appeared
under the form of the black slave.  "Miserable crone," he said to my
brother, "get up and come with me," and turned to lead the way to the
place of murder.  Alnaschar rose too, and drawing the sabre from under
his dress dealt the black such a blow on his neck that his head was
severed from his body.  My brother picked up the head with one hand,
and seizing the body with the other dragged it to the vault, when he
threw it in and sent the head after it.  The Greek slave, supposing
that all had passed as usual, shortly arrived with the basin of salt,
but when she beheld Alnaschar with the sabre in his hand she let the
basin fall and turned to fly.  My brother, however, was too quick for
her, and in another instant her head was rolling from her shoulders.
The noise brought the old woman running to see what was the matter, and
he seized her before she had time to escape.  "Wretch!" he cried, "do
you know me?"

"Who are you, my lord?" she replied trembling all over.  "I have never
seen you before."

"I am he whose house you entered to offer your hypocritical prayers.
Don't you remember now?"

She flung herself on her knees to implore mercy, but he cut her in four
pieces.

There remained only the lady, who was quite ignorant of all that was
taking place around her.  He sought her through the house, and when at
last he found her, she nearly fainted with terror at the sight of him.
She begged hard for life, which he was generous enough to give her, but
he bade her to tell him how she had got into partnership with the
abominable creatures he had just put to death.

"I was once," replied she, "the wife of an honest merchant, and that
old woman, whose wickedness I did not know, used occasionally to visit
me.  'Madam,' she said to me one day, 'we have a grand wedding at our
house to-day. If you would do us the honour to be present, I am sure
you would enjoy yourself.'  I allowed myself to be persuaded, put on my
richest dress, and took a purse with a hundred pieces of gold.  Once
inside the doors I was kept by force by that dreadful black, and it is
now three years that I have been here, to my great grief."

"That horrible black must have amassed great wealth," remarked my
brother.

"Such wealth," returned she, "that if you succeed in carrying it all
away it will make you rich for ever.  Come and let us see how much
there is."

She led Alnaschar into a chamber filled with coffers packed with gold,
which he gazed at with an admiration he was powerless to conceal.
"Go," she said, "and bring men to carry them away."

My brother did not wait to be told twice, and hurried out into the
streets, where he soon collected ten men.  They all came back to the
house, but what was his surprise to find the door open, and the room
with the chests of gold quite empty.  The lady had been cleverer than
himself, and had made the best use of her time.  However, he tried to
console himself by removing all the beautiful furniture, which more
than made up for the five hundred gold pieces he had lost.

Unluckily, on leaving the house, he forgot to lock the door, and the
neighbours, finding the place empty, informed the police, who next
morning arrested Alnaschar as a thief.  My brother tried to bribe them
to let him off, but far from listening to him they tied his hands, and
forced him to walk between them to the presence of the judge.  When
they had explained to the official the cause of complaint, he asked
Alnaschar where he had obtained all the furniture that he had taken to
his house the day before.

"Sir," replied Alnaschar, "I am ready to tell you the whole story, but
give, I pray you, your word, that I shall run no risk of punishment."

"That I promise," said the judge.  So my brother began at the beginning
and related all his adventures, and how he had avenged himself on those
who had betrayed him.  As to the furniture, he entreated the judge at
least to allow him to keep part to make up for the five hundred pieces
of gold which had been stolen from him.

The judge, however, would say nothing about this, and lost no time in
sending men to fetch away all that Alnaschar had taken from the house.
When everything had been moved and placed under his roof he ordered my
brother to leave the town and never more to enter it on peril of his
life, fearing that if he returned he might seek justice from the
Caliph.  Alnaschar obeyed, and was on his way to a neighbouring city
when he fell in with a band of robbers, who stripped him of his clothes
and left him naked by the roadside.  Hearing of his plight, I hurried
after him to console him for his misfortunes, and to dress him in my
best robe.  I then brought him back disguised, under cover of night, to
my house, where I have since given him all the care I bestow on my
other brothers.



The Story of the Barber's Sixth Brother


There now remains for me to relate to you the story of my sixth
brother, whose name was Schacabac.  Like the rest of us, he inherited a
hundred silver drachmas from our father, which he thought was a large
fortune, but through ill-luck, he soon lost it all, and was driven to
beg.  As he had a smooth tongue and good manners, he really did very
well in his new profession, and he devoted himself specially to making
friends with the servants in big houses, so as to gain access to their
masters.

One day he was passing a splendid mansion, with a crowd of servants
lounging in the courtyard.  He thought that from the appearance of the
house it might yield him a rich harvest, so he entered and inquired to
whom it belonged.

"My good man, where do you come from?" replied the servant.  "Can't you
see for yourself that it can belong to nobody but a Barmecide?" for the
Barmecides were famed for their liberality and generosity.  My brother,
hearing this, asked the porters, of whom there were several, if they
would give him alms.  They did not refuse, but told him politely to go
in, and speak to the master himself.

My brother thanked them for their courtesy and entered the building,
which was so large that it took him some time to reach the apartments
of the Barmecide.  At last, in a room richly decorated with paintings,
he saw an old man with a long white beard, sitting on a sofa, who
received him with such kindness that my brother was emboldened to make
his petition.

"My lord," he said, "you behold in me a poor man who only lives by the
help of persons as rich and as generous as you."

Before he could proceed further, he was stopped by the astonishment
shown by the Barmecide.  "Is it possible," he cried, "that while I am
in Bagdad, a man like you should be starving?  That is a state of
things that must at once be put an end to!  Never shall it be said that
I have abandoned you, and I am sure that you, on your part, will never
abandon me."

"My lord," answered my brother, "I swear that I have not broken my fast
this whole day."

"What, you are dying of hunger?" exclaimed the Barmecide.  "Here,
slave; bring water, that we may wash our hands before meat!" No slave
appeared, but my brother remarked that the Barmecide did not fail to
rub his hands as if the water had been poured over them.

Then he said to my brother, "Why don't you wash your hands too?" and
Schacabac, supposing that it was a joke on the part of the Barmecide
(though he could see none himself), drew near, and imitated his motion.

When the Barmecide had done rubbing his hands, he raised his voice, and
cried, "Set food before us at once, we are very hungry." No food was
brought, but the Barmecide pretended to help himself from a dish, and
carry a morsel to his mouth, saying as he did so, "Eat, my friend, eat,
I entreat.  Help yourself as freely as if you were at home!  For a
starving man, you seem to have a very small appetite."

"Excuse me, my lord," replied Schacabac, imitating his gestures as
before, "I really am not losing time, and I do full justice to the
repast."

"How do you like this bread?" asked the Barmecide.  "I find it
particularly good myself."

"Oh, my lord," answered my brother, who beheld neither meat nor bread,
"never have I tasted anything so delicious."

"Eat as much as you want," said the Barmecide.  "I bought the woman who
makes it for five hundred pieces of gold, so that I might never be
without it."

After ordering a variety of dishes (which never came) to be placed on
the table, and discussing the merits of each one, the Barmecide
declared that having dined so well, they would now proceed to take
their wine.  To this my brother at first objected, declaring that it
was forbidden; but on the Barmecide insisting that it was out of the
question that he should drink by himself, he consented to take a
little.  The Barmecide, however, pretended to fill their glasses so
often, that my brother feigned that the wine had gone into his head,
and struck the Barmecide such a blow on the head, that he fell to the
ground.  Indeed, he raised his hand to strike him a second time, when
the Barmecide cried out that he was mad, upon which my brother
controlled himself, and apologised and protested that it was all the
fault of the wine he had drunk.  At this the Barmecide, instead of
being angry, began to laugh, and embraced him heartily.  "I have long
been seeking," he exclaimed, "a man of your description, and henceforth
my house shall be yours.  You have had the good grace to fall in with
my humour, and to pretend to eat and to drink when nothing was there.
Now you shall be rewarded by a really good supper."

Then he clapped his hands, and all the dishes were brought that they
had tasted in imagination before and during the repast, slaves sang and
played on various instruments.  All the while Schacabac was treated by
the Barmecide as a familiar friend, and dressed in a garment out of his
own wardrobe.

Twenty years passed by, and my brother was still living with the
Barmecide, looking after his house, and managing his affairs.  At the
end of that time his generous benefactor died without heirs, so all his
possessions went to the prince.  They even despoiled my brother of
those that rightly belonged to him, and he, now as poor as he had ever
been in his life, decided to cast in his lot with a caravan of pilgrims
who were on their way to Mecca.  Unluckily, the caravan was attacked
and pillaged by the Bedouins, and the pilgrims were taken prisoners.
My brother became the slave of a man who beat him daily, hoping to
drive him to offer a ransom, although, as Schacabac pointed out, it was
quite useless trouble, as his relations were as poor as himself.  At
length the Bedouin grew tired of tormenting, and sent him on a camel to
the top of a high barren mountain, where he left him to take his
chance.  A passing caravan, on its way to Bagdad, told me where he was
to be found, and I hurried to his rescue, and brought him in a
deplorable condition back to the town.

"This,"--continued the barber,--"is the tale I related to the Caliph,
who, when I had finished, burst into fits of laughter.

"Well were you called `the Silent,'" said he; "no name was ever better
deserved.  But for reasons of my own, which it is not necessary to
mention, I desire you to leave the town, and never to come back."

"I had of course no choice but to obey, and travelled about for several
years until I heard of the death of the Caliph, when I hastily returned
to Bagdad, only to find that all my brothers were dead.  It was at this
time that I rendered to the young cripple the important service of
which you have heard, and for which, as you know, he showed such
profound ingratitude, that he preferred rather to leave Bagdad than to
run the risk of seeing me.  I sought him long from place to place, but
it was only to-day, when I expected it least, that I came across him,
as much irritated with me as ever"--  So saying the tailor went on to
relate the story of the lame man and the barber, which has already been
told.

"When the barber," he continued, "had finished his tale, we came to the
conclusion that the young man had been right, when he had accused him
of being a great chatter-box. However, we wished to keep him with us,
and share our feast, and we remained at table till the hour of
afternoon prayer.  Then the company broke up, and I went back to work
in my shop.

"It was during this interval that the little hunchback, half drunk
already, presented himself before me, singing and playing on his drum.
I took him home, to amuse my wife, and she invited him to supper.
While eating some fish, a bone got into his throat, and in spite of all
we could do, he died shortly.  It was all so sudden that we lost our
heads, and in order to divert suspicion from ourselves, we carried the
body to the house of a Jewish physician.  He placed it in the chamber
of the purveyor, and the purveyor propped it up in the street, where it
was thought to have been killed by the merchant.

"This, Sire, is the story which I was obliged to tell to satisfy your
highness.  It is now for you to say if we deserve mercy or punishment;
life or death?"

The Sultan of Kashgar listened with an air of pleasure which filled the
tailor and his friends with hope.  "I must confess," he exclaimed,
"that I am much more interested in the stories of the barber and his
brothers, and of the lame man, than in that of my own jester.  But
before I allow you all four to return to your own homes, and have the
corpse of the hunchback properly buried, I should like to see this
barber who has earned your pardon.  And as he is in this town, let an
usher go with you at once in search of him."

The usher and the tailor soon returned, bringing with them an old man
who must have been at least ninety years of age.  "O Silent One," said
the Sultan, "I am told that you know many strange stories.  Will you
tell some of them to me?"

"Never mind my stories for the present," replied the barber, "but will
your Highness graciously be pleased to explain why this Jew, this
Christian, and this Mussulman, as well as this dead body, are all here?"

"What business is that of yours?" asked the Sultan with a smile; but
seeing that the barber had some reasons for his question, he commanded
that the tale of the hunchback should be told him.

"It is certainly most surprising," cried he, when he had heard it all,
"but I should like to examine the body."  He then knelt down, and took
the head on his knees, looking at it attentively.  Suddenly he burst
into such loud laughter that he fell right backwards, and when he had
recovered himself enough to speak, he turned to the Sultan.  "The man
is no more dead than I am," he said; "watch me."  As he spoke he drew a
small case of medicines from his pocket and rubbed the neck of the
hunchback with some ointment made of balsam.  Next he opened the dead
man's mouth, and by the help of a pair of pincers drew the bone from
his throat.  At this the hunchback sneezed, stretched himself and
opened his eyes.

The Sultan and all those who saw this operation did not know which to
admire most, the constitution of the hunchback who had apparently been
dead for a whole night and most of one day, or the skill of the barber,
whom everyone now began to look upon as a great man.  His Highness
desired that the history of the hunchback should be written down, and
placed in the archives beside that of the barber, so that they might be
associated in people's minds to the end of time.  And he did not stop
there; for in order to wipe out the memory of what they had undergone,
he commanded that the tailor, the doctor, the purveyor and the
merchant, should each be clothed in his presence with a robe from his
own wardrobe before they returned home.  As for the barber, he bestowed
on him a large pension, and kept him near his own person.



The Adventures of Prince Camaralzaman and the Princess Badoura


Some twenty days' sail from the coast of Persia lies the isle of the
children of Khaledan.  The island is divided into several provinces, in
each of which are large flourishing towns, and the whole forms an
important kingdom.  It was governed in former days by a king named
Schahzaman, who, with good right, considered himself one of the most
peaceful, prosperous, and fortunate monarchs on the earth.  In fact, he
had but one grievance, which was that none of his four wives had given
him an heir.

This distressed him so greatly that one day he confided his grief to
the grand-vizir, who, being a wise counsellor, said:  "Such matters are
indeed beyond human aid.  Allah alone can grant your desire, and I
should advise you, sire, to send large gifts to those holy men who
spend their lives in prayer, and to beg for their intercessions.  Who
knows whether their petitions may not be answered!"

The king took his vizir's advice, and the result of so many prayers for
an heir to the throne was that a son was born to him the following year.

Schahzaman sent noble gifts as thank offerings to all the mosques and
religious houses, and great rejoicings were celebrated in honour of the
birth of the little prince, who was so beautiful that he was named
Camaralzaman, or "Moon of the Century."

Prince Camaralzaman was brought up with extreme care by an excellent
governor and all the cleverest teachers, and he did such credit to them
that when he was grown up, a more charming and accomplished young man
was not to be found.  Whilst he was still a youth the king, his father,
who loved him dearly, had some thoughts of abdicating in his favour.
As usual he talked over his plans with his grand-vizir, who, though he
did not approve the idea, would not state all his objections.

"Sire," he replied, "the prince is still very young for the cares of
state.  Your Majesty fears his growing idle and careless, and doubtless
you are right.  But how would it be if he were first to marry?  This
would attach him to his home, and your Majesty might give him a share
in your counsels, so that he might gradually learn how to wear a crown,
which you can give up to him whenever you find him capable of wearing
it."

The vizir's advice once more struck the king as being good, and he sent
for his son, who lost no time in obeying the summons, and standing
respectfully with downcast eyes before the king asked for his commands.

"I have sent for you," said the king, "to say that I wish you to marry.
What do you think about it?"

The prince was so much overcome by these words that he remained silent
for some time.  At length he said:  "Sire, I beg you to pardon me if I
am unable to reply as you might wish.  I certainly did not expect such
a proposal as I am still so young, and I confess that the idea of
marrying is very distasteful to me.  Possibly I may not always be in
this mind, but I certainly feel that it will require some time to
induce me to take the step which your Majesty desires."

This answer greatly distressed the king, who was sincerely grieved by
his objection to marriage.  However he would not have recourse to
extreme measures, so he said:  "I do not wish to force you; I will give
you time to reflect, but remember that such a step is necessary, for a
prince such as you who will some day be called to rule over a great
kingdom."

From this time Prince Camaralzaman was admitted to the royal council,
and the king showed him every mark of favour.

At the end of a year the king took his son aside, and said: "Well, my
son, have you changed your mind on the subject of marriage, or do you
still refuse to obey my wish?"

The prince was less surprised but no less firm than on the former
occasion, and begged his father not to press the subject, adding that
it was quite useless to urge him any longer.

This answer much distressed the king, who again confided his trouble to
his vizir.

"I have followed your advice," he said; "but Camaralzaman declines to
marry, and is more obstinate than ever."

"Sire," replied the vizir, "much is gained by patience, and your
Majesty might regret any violence.  Why not wait another year and then
inform the Prince in the midst of the assembled council that the good
of the state demands his marriage?  He cannot possibly refuse again
before so distinguished an assemblage, and in our immediate presence."

The Sultan ardently desired to see his son married at once, but he
yielded to the vizir's arguments and decided to wait.  He then visited
the prince's mother, and after telling her of his disappointment and of
the further respite he had given his son, he added: "I know that
Camaralzaman confides more in you than he does in me.  Pray speak very
seriously to him on this subject, and make him realize that he will
most seriously displease me if he remains obstinate, and that he will
certainly regret the measures I shall be obliged to take to enforce my
will."

So the first time the Sultana Fatima saw her son she told him she had
heard of his refusal to marry, adding how distressed she felt that he
should have vexed his father so much.  She asked what reasons he could
have for his objections to obey.

"Madam," replied the prince, "I make no doubt that there are as many
good, virtuous, sweet, and amiable women as there are others very much
the reverse.  Would that all were like you!  But what revolts me is the
idea of marrying a woman without knowing anything at all about her.  My
father will ask the hand of the daughter of some neighbouring
sovereign, who will give his consent to our union.  Be she fair or
frightful, clever or stupid, good or bad, I must marry her, and am left
no choice in the matter.  How am I to know that she will not be proud,
passionate, contemptuous, and recklessly extravagant, or that her
disposition will in any way suit mine?"

"But, my son," urged Fatima, "you surely do not wish to be the last of
a race which has reigned so long and so gloriously over this kingdom?"

"Madam," said the prince, "I have no wish to survive the king, my
father, but should I do so I will try to reign in such a manner as may
be considered worthy of my predecessors."

These and similar conversations proved to the Sultan how useless it was
to argue with his son, and the year elapsed without bringing any change
in the prince's ideas.

At length a day came when the Sultan summoned him before the council,
and there informed him that not only his own wishes but the good of the
empire demanded his marriage, and desired him to give his answer before
the assembled ministers.

At this Camaralzaman grew so angry and spoke with so much heat that the
king, naturally irritated at being opposed by his son in full council,
ordered the prince to be arrested and locked up in an old tower, where
he had nothing but a very little furniture, a few books, and a single
slave to wait on him.

Camaralzaman, pleased to be free to enjoy his books, showed himself
very indifferent to his sentence.

When night came he washed himself, performed his devotions, and, having
read some pages of the Koran, lay down on a couch, without putting out
the light near him, and was soon asleep.

Now there was a deep well in the tower in which Prince Camaralzaman was
imprisoned, and this well was a favourite resort of the fairy Maimoune,
daughter of Damriat, chief of a legion of genii.  Towards midnight
Maimoune floated lightly up from the well, intending, according to her
usual habit, to roam about the upper world as curiosity or accident
might prompt.

The light in the prince's room surprised her, and without disturbing
the slave, who slept across the threshold, she entered the room, and
approaching the bed was still more astonished to find it occupied.

The prince lay with his face half hidden by the coverlet.  Maimoune
lifted it a little and beheld the most beautiful youth she had ever
seen.

"What a marvel of beauty he must be when his eyes are open!" she
thought.  "What can he have done to deserve to be treated like this?"

She could not weary gazing at Camaralzaman, but at length, having
softly kissed his brow and each cheek, she replaced the coverlet and
resumed her flight through the air.

As she entered the middle region she heard the sound of great wings
coming towards her, and shortly met one of the race of bad genii.  This
genie, whose name was Danhasch, recognised Maimoune with terror, for he
knew the supremacy which her goodness gave her over him.  He would
gladly have avoided her altogether, but they were so near that he must
either be prepared to fight or yield to her, so he at once addressed
her in a conciliatory tone:

"Good Maimoune, swear to me by Allah to do me no harm, and on my side I
will promise not to injure you."

"Accursed genie!" replied Maimoune, "what harm can you do me?  But I
will grant your power and give the promise you ask.  And now tell me
what you have seen and done to-night."

"Fair lady," said Danhasch, "you meet me at the right moment to hear
something really interesting.  I must tell you that I come from the
furthest end of China, which is one of the largest and most powerful
kingdoms in the world.  The present king has one only daughter, who is
so perfectly lovely that neither you, nor I, nor any other creature
could find adequate terms in which to describe her marvellous charms.
You must therefore picture to yourself the most perfect features,
joined to a brilliant and delicate complexion, and an enchanting
expression, and even then imagination will fall short of the reality.

"The king, her father, has carefully shielded this treasure from the
vulgar gaze, and has taken every precaution to keep her from the sight
of everyone except the happy mortal he may choose to be her husband.
But in order to give her variety in her confinement he has built her
seven palaces such as have never been seen before.  The first palace is
entirely composed of rock crystal, the second of bronze, the third of
fine steel, the fourth of another and more precious species of bronze,
the fifth of touchstone, the sixth of silver, and the seventh of solid
gold.  They are all most sumptuously furnished, whilst the gardens
surrounding them are laid out with exquisite taste.  In fact, neither
trouble nor cost has been spared to make this retreat agreeable to the
princess.  The report of her wonderful beauty has spread far and wide,
and many powerful kings have sent embassies to ask her hand in
marriage.  The king has always received these embassies graciously, but
says that he will never oblige the princess to marry against her will,
and as she regularly declines each fresh proposal, the envoys have had
to leave as disappointed in the result of their missions as they were
gratified by their magnificent receptions."

"Sire," said the princess to her father, "you wish me to marry, and I
know you desire to please me, for which I am very grateful.  But,
indeed, I have no inclination to change my state, for where could I
find so happy a life amidst so many beautiful and delightful
surroundings?  I feel that I could never be as happy with any husband
as I am here, and I beg you not to press one on me."

"At last an embassy came from a king so rich and powerful that the King
of China felt constrained to urge this suit on his daughter.  He told
her how important such an alliance would be, and pressed her to
consent.  In fact, he pressed her so persistingly that the princess at
length lost her temper and quite forgot the respect due to her father.
"Sire," cried she angrily, "do not speak further of this or any other
marriage or I will plunge this dagger in my breast and so escape from
all these importunities."

"The king of China was extremely indignant with his daughter and
replied: "You have lost your senses and you must be treated
accordingly." So he had her shut in one set of rooms in one of her
palaces, and only allowed her ten old women, of whom her nurse was the
head, to wait on her and keep her company.  He next sent letters to all
the kings who had sued for the princess's hand, begging they would
think of her no longer, as she was quite insane, and he desired his
various envoys to make it known that anyone who could cure her should
have her to wife.

"Fair Maimoune," continued Danhasch, "this is the present state of
affairs.  I never pass a day without going to gaze on this incomparable
beauty, and I am sure that if you would only accompany me you would
think the sight well worth the trouble, and own that you never saw such
loveliness before."

The fairy only answered with a peal of laughter, and when at length she
had control of her voice she cried, "Oh, come, you are making game of
me!  I thought you had something really interesting to tell me instead
of raving about some unknown damsel.  What would you say if you could
see the prince I have just been looking at and whose beauty is really
transcendent?  That is something worth talking about, you would
certainly quite lose your head."

"Charming Maimoune," asked Danhasch, "may I inquire who and what is the
prince of whom you speak?"

"Know," replied Maimoune, "that he is in much the same case as your
princess.  The king, his father, wanted to force him to marry, and on
the prince's refusal to obey he has been imprisoned in an old tower
where I have just seen him."

"I don't like to contradict a lady," said Danhasch, "but you must
really permit me to doubt any mortal being as beautiful as my princess."

"Hold your tongue," cried Maimoune.  "I repeat that is impossible."

"Well, I don't wish to seem obstinate," replied Danhasch, "the best
plan to test the truth of what I say will be for you to let me take you
to see the princess for yourself."

"There is no need for that," retorted Maimoune; "we can satisfy
ourselves in another way.  Bring your princess here and lay her down
beside my prince.  We can then compare them at leisure, and decide
which is in the right."

Danhasch readily consented, and after having the tower where the prince
was confined pointed out to him, and making a wager with Maimoune as to
the result of the comparison, he flew off to China to fetch the
princess.

In an incredibly short time Danhasch returned, bearing the sleeping
princess.  Maimoune led him to the prince's room, and the rival beauty
was placed beside him.

When the prince and princess lay thus side by side, an animated dispute
as to their respective charms arose between the fairy and the genius.
Danhasch began by saying:

"Now you see that my princess is more beautiful than your prince.  Can
you doubt any longer?"

"Doubt!  Of course I do!" exclaimed Maimoune.  "Why, you must be blind
not to see how much my prince excels your princess.  I do not deny that
your princess is very handsome, but only look and you must own that I
am in the right."

"There is no need for me to look longer," said Danhasch, "my first
impression will remain the same; but of course, charming Maimoune, I am
ready to yield to you if you insist on it."

"By no means," replied Maimoune.  "I have no idea of being under any
obligation to an accursed genius like you.  I refer the matter to an
umpire, and shall expect you to submit to his verdict."

Danhasch readily agreed, and on Maimoune striking the floor with her
foot it opened, and a hideous, hump-backed, lame, squinting genius,
with six horns on his head, hands like claws, emerged.  As soon as he
beheld Maimoune he threw himself at her feet and asked her commands.

"Rise, Caschcasch," said she.  "I summoned you to judge between me and
Danhasch.  Glance at that couch, and say without any partiality whether
you think the youth or the maiden lying there the more beautiful."

Caschcasch looked at the prince and princess with every token of
surprise and admiration.  At length, having gazed long without being
able to come to a decision, he said

"Madam, I must confess that I should deceive you were I to declare one
to be handsomer than the other.  There seems to me only one way in
which to decide the matter, and that is to wake one after the other and
judge which of them expresses the greater admiration for the other."

This advice pleased Maimoune and Danhasch, and the fairy at once
transformed herself into the shape of a gnat and settling on
Camaralzaman's throat stung him so sharply that he awoke.  As he did so
his eyes fell on the Princess of China.  Surprised at finding a lady so
near him, he raised himself on one arm to look at her.  The youth and
beauty of the princess at once awoke a feeling to which his heart had
as yet been a stranger, and he could not restrain his delight.

"What loveliness!  What charms!  Oh, my heart, my soul!" he exclaimed,
as he kissed her forehead, her eyes and mouth in a way which would
certainly have roused her had not the genie's enchantments kept her
asleep.

"How, fair lady!" he cried, "you do not wake at the signs of
Camaralzaman's love?  Be you who you may, he is not unworthy of you."

It then suddenly occurred to him, that perhaps this was the bride his
father had destined for him, and that the King had probably had her
placed in this room in order to see how far Camaralzaman's aversion to
marriage would withstand her charms.

"At all events," he thought, "I will take this ring as a remembrance of
her."

So saying he drew off a fine ring which the princess wore on her
finger, and replaced it by one of his own.  After which he lay down
again and was soon fast asleep.

Then Danhasch, in his turn, took the form of a gnat and bit the
princess on her lip.

She started up, and was not a little amazed at seeing a young man
beside her.  From surprise she soon passed to admiration, and then to
delight on perceiving how handsome and fascinating he was.

"Why," cried she, "was it you my father wished me to marry?  How
unlucky that I did not know sooner!  I should not have made him so
angry.  But wake up! wake up! for I know I shall love you with all my
heart."

So saying she shook Camaralzaman so violently that nothing but the
spells of Maimoune could have prevented his waking.

"Oh!" cried the princess.  "Why are you so drowsy?"  So saying she took
his hand and noticed her own ring on his finger, which made her wonder
still more.  But as he still remained in a profound slumber she pressed
a kiss on his cheek and soon fell fast asleep too.

Then Maimoune turning to the genie said:  "Well, are you satisfied that
my prince surpasses your princess?  Another time pray believe me when I
assert anything."

Then turning to Caschcasch:  "My thanks to you, and now do you and
Danhasch bear the princess back to her own home."

The two genii hastened to obey, and Maimoune returned to her well.

On waking next morning the first thing Prince Camaralzaman did was to
look round for the lovely lady he had seen at night, and the next to
question the slave who waited on him about her.  But the slave
persisted so strongly that he knew nothing of any lady, and still less
of how she got into the tower, that the prince lost all patience, and
after giving him a good beating tied a rope round him and ducked him in
the well till the unfortunate man cried out that he would tell
everything.  Then the prince drew him up all dripping wet, but the
slave begged leave to change his clothes first, and as soon as the
prince consented hurried off just as he was to the palace.  Here he
found the king talking to the grand-vizir of all the anxiety his son
had caused him.  The slave was admitted at once and cried:

"Alas, Sire!  I bring sad news to your Majesty.  There can be no doubt
that the prince has completely lost his senses.  He declares that he
saw a lady sleeping on his couch last night, and the state you see me
in proves how violent contradiction makes him." He then gave a minute
account of all the prince had said and done.

The king, much moved, begged the vizir to examine into this new
misfortune, and the latter at once went to the tower, where he found
the prince quietly reading a book.  After the first exchange of
greetings the vizir said:

"I feel really very angry with your slave for alarming his Majesty by
the news he brought him."

"What news?" asked the prince.

"Ah!" replied the vizir, "something absurd, I feel sure, seeing how I
find you."

"Most likely," said the prince; "but now that you are here I am glad of
the opportunity to ask you where is the lady who slept in this room
last night?"

The grand-vizir felt beside himself at this question.

"Prince!" he exclaimed, "how would it be possible for any man, much
less a woman, to enter this room at night without walking over your
slave on the threshold?  Pray consider the matter, and you will realise
that you have been deeply impressed by some dream."

But the prince angrily insisted on knowing who and where the lady was,
and was not to be persuaded by all the vizir's protestations to the
contrary that the plot had not been one of his making.  At last, losing
patience, he seized the vizir by the beard and loaded him with blows.

"Stop, Prince," cried the unhappy vizir, "stay and hear what I have to
say."

The prince, whose arm was getting tired, paused.

"I confess, Prince," said the vizir, "that there is some foundation for
what you say.  But you know well that a minister has to carry out his
master's orders.  Allow me to go and to take to the king any message
you may choose to send."

"Very well," said the prince; "then go and tell him that I consent to
marry the lady whom he sent or brought here last night.  Be quick and
bring me back his answer."

The vizir bowed to the ground and hastened to leave the room and tower.

"Well," asked the king as soon as he appeared, "and how did you find my
son?"

"Alas, sire," was the reply, "the slave's report is only too true!"

He then gave an exact account of his interview with Camaralzaman and of
the prince's fury when told that it was not possible for any lady to
have entered his room, and of the treatment he himself had received.
The king, much distressed, determined to clear up the matter himself,
and, ordering the vizir to follow him, set out to visit his son.

The prince received his father with profound respect, and the king,
making him sit beside him, asked him several questions, to which
Camaralzaman replied with much good sense.  At last the king said: "My
son, pray tell me about the lady who, it is said, was in your room last
night."

"Sire," replied the prince, "pray do not increase my distress in this
matter, but rather make me happy by giving her to me in marriage.
However much I may have objected to matrimony formerly, the sight of
this lovely girl has overcome all my prejudices, and I will gratefully
receive her from your hands."

The king was almost speechless on hearing his son, but after a time
assured him most solemnly that he knew nothing whatever about the lady
in question, and had not connived at her appearance.  He then desired
the prince to relate the whole story to him.

Camaralzaman did so at great length, showed the ring, and implored his
father to help to find the bride he so ardently desired.

"After all you tell me," remarked the king, "I can no longer doubt your
word; but how and whence the lady came, or why she should have stayed
so short a time I cannot imagine.  The whole affair is indeed
mysterious.  Come, my dear son, let us wait together for happier days."

So saying the king took Camaralzaman by the hand and led him back to
the palace, where the prince took to his bed and gave himself up to
despair, and the king shutting himself up with his son entirely
neglected the affairs of state.

The prime minister, who was the only person admitted, felt it his duty
at last to tell the king how much the court and all the people
complained of his seclusion, and how bad it was for the nation.  He
urged the sultan to remove with the prince to a lovely little island
close by, whence he could easily attend public audiences, and where the
charming scenery and fine air would do the invalid so much good as to
enable him to bear his father's occasional absence.

The king approved the plan, and as soon as the castle on the island
could be prepared for their reception he and the prince arrived there,
Schahzaman never leaving his son except for the prescribed public
audiences twice a week.

Whilst all this was happening in the capital of Schahzaman the two
genii had carefully borne the Princess of China back to her own palace
and replaced her in bed.  On waking next morning she first turned from
one side to another and then, finding herself alone, called loudly for
her women.

"Tell me," she cried, "where is the young man I love so dearly, and who
slept near me last night?"

"Princess," exclaimed the nurse, "we cannot tell what you allude to
without more explanation."

"Why," continued the princess, "the most charming and beautiful young
man lay sleeping beside me last night.  I did my utmost to wake him,
but in vain."

"Your Royal Highness wishes to make game of us," said the nurse.  "Is
it your pleasure to rise?"

"I am quite in earnest," persisted the princess, "and I want to know
where he is."

"But, Princess," expostulated the nurse, "we left you quite alone last
night, and we have seen no one enter your room since then."

At this the princess lost all patience, and taking the nurse by her
hair she boxed her ears soundly, crying out:  "You shall tell me, you
old witch, or I'll kill you."

The nurse had no little trouble in escaping, and hurried off to the
queen, to whom she related the whole story with tears in her eyes.

"You see, madam," she concluded, "that the princess must be out of her
mind.  If only you will come and see her, you will be able to judge for
yourself."

The queen hurried to her daughter's apartments, and after tenderly
embracing her, asked her why she had treated her nurse so badly.

"Madam," said the princess, "I perceive that your Majesty wishes to
make game of me, but I can assure you that I will never marry anyone
except the charming young man whom I saw last night.  You must know
where he is, so pray send for him."

The queen was much surprised by these words, but when she declared that
she knew nothing whatever of the matter the princess lost all respect,
and answered that if she were not allowed to marry as she wished she
should kill herself, and it was in vain that the queen tried to pacify
her and bring her to reason.

The king himself came to hear the rights of the matter, but the
princess only persisted in her story, and as a proof showed the ring on
her finger.  The king hardly knew what to make of it all, but ended by
thinking that his daughter was more crazy than ever, and without
further argument he had her placed in still closer confinement, with
only her nurse to wait on her and a powerful guard to keep the door.

Then he assembled his council, and having told them the sad state of
things, added:  "If any of you can succeed in curing the princess, I
will give her to him in marriage, and he shall be my heir."

An elderly emir present, fired with the desire to possess a young and
lovely wife and to rule over a great kingdom, offered to try the magic
arts with which he was acquainted.

"You are welcome to try," said the king, "but I make one condition,
which is, that should you fail you will lose your life."

The emir accepted the condition, and the king led him to the princess,
who, veiling her face, remarked, "I am surprised, sire, that you should
bring an unknown man into my presence."

"You need not be shocked," said the king; "this is one of my emirs who
asks your hand in marriage."

"Sire," replied the princess, "this is not the one you gave me before
and whose ring I wear.  Permit me to say that I can accept no other."

The emir, who had expected to hear the princess talk nonsense, finding
how calm and reasonable she was, assured the king that he could not
venture to undertake a cure, but placed his head at his Majesty's
disposal, on which the justly irritated monarch promptly had it cut off.

This was the first of many suitors for the princess whose inability to
cure her cost them their lives.

Now it happened that after things had been going on in this way for
some time the nurse's son Marzavan returned from his travels.  He had
been in many countries and learnt many things, including astrology.
Needless to say that one of the first things his mother told him was
the sad condition of the princess, his foster-sister. Marzavan asked if
she could not manage to let him see the princess without the king's
knowledge.

After some consideration his mother consented, and even persuaded the
eunuch on guard to make no objection to Marzavan's entering the royal
apartment.

The princess was delighted to see her foster-brother again, and after
some conversation she confided to him all her history and the cause of
her imprisonment.

Marzavan listened with downcast eyes and the utmost attention.  When
she had finished speaking he said,

"If what you tell me, Princess, is indeed the case, I do not despair of
finding comfort for you.  Take patience yet a little longer.  I will
set out at once to explore other countries, and when you hear of my
return be sure that he for whom you sigh is not far off." So saying, he
took his leave and started next morning on his travels.

Marzavan journeyed from city to city and from one island and province
to another, and wherever he went he heard people talk of the strange
story of the Princess Badoura, as the Princess of China was named.

After four months he reached a large populous seaport town named Torf,
and here he heard no more of the Princess Badoura but a great deal of
Prince Camaralzaman, who was reported ill, and whose story sounded very
similar to that of the Princess Badoura.

Marzavan was rejoiced, and set out at once for Prince Camaralzaman's
residence.  The ship on which he embarked had a prosperous voyage till
she got within sight of the capital of King Schahzaman, but when just
about to enter the harbour she suddenly struck on a rock, and foundered
within sight of the palace where the prince was living with his father
and the grand-vizir.

Marzavan, who swam well, threw himself into the sea and managed to land
close to the palace, where he was kindly received, and after having a
change of clothing given him was brought before the grand-vizir. The
vizir was at once attracted by the young man's superior air and
intelligent conversation, and perceiving that he had gained much
experience in the course of his travels, he said, "Ah, how I wish you
had learnt some secret which might enable you to cure a malady which
has plunged this court into affliction for some time past!"

Marzavan replied that if he knew what the illness was he might possibly
be able to suggest a remedy, on which the vizir related to him the
whole history of Prince Camaralzaman.

On hearing this Marzavan rejoiced inwardly, for he felt sure that he
had at last discovered the object of the Princess Badoura's
infatuation.  However, he said nothing, but begged to be allowed to see
the prince.

On entering the royal apartment the first thing which struck him was
the prince himself, who lay stretched out on his bed with his eyes
closed.  The king sat near him, but, without paying any regard to his
presence, Marzavan exclaimed, "Heavens! what a striking likeness!"
And, indeed, there was a good deal of resemblance between the features
of Camaralzaman and those of the Princess of China.

These words caused the prince to open his eyes with languid curiosity,
and Marzavan seized this moment to pay him his compliments, contriving
at the same time to express the condition of the Princess of China in
terms unintelligible, indeed, to the Sultan and his vizir, but which
left the prince in no doubt that his visitor could give him some
welcome information.

The prince begged his father to allow him the favour of a private
interview with Marzavan, and the king was only too pleased to find his
son taking an interest in anyone or anything.  As soon as they were
left alone Marzavan told the prince the story of the Princess Badoura
and her sufferings, adding, "I am convinced that you alone can cure
her; but before starting on so long a journey you must be well and
strong, so do your best to recover as quickly as may be."

These words produced a great effect on the prince, who was so much
cheered by the hopes held out that he declared he felt able to get up
and be dressed.  The king was overjoyed at the result of Marzavan's
interview, and ordered public rejoicings in honour of the prince's
recovery.

Before long the prince was quite restored to his original state of
health, and as soon as he felt himself really strong he took Marzavan
aside and said:

"Now is the time to perform your promise.  I am so impatient to see my
beloved princess once more that I am sure I shall fall ill again if we
do not start soon.  The one obstacle is my father's tender care of me,
for, as you may have noticed, he cannot bear me out of his sight."

"Prince," replied Marzavan, "I have already thought over the matter,
and this is what seems to me the best plan.  You have not been out of
doors since my arrival.  Ask the king's permission to go with me for
two or three days' hunting, and when he has given leave order two good
horses to be held ready for each of us.  Leave all the rest to me."

Next day the prince seized a favourable opportunity for making his
request, and the king gladly granted it on condition that only one
night should be spent out for fear of too great fatigue after such a
long illness.

Next morning Prince Camaralzaman and Marzavan were off betimes,
attended by two grooms leading the two extra horses.  They hunted a
little by the way, but took care to get as far from the towns as
possible.  At night-fall they reached an inn, where they supped and
slept till midnight.  Then Marzavan awoke and roused the prince without
disturbing anyone else.  He begged the prince to give him the coat he
had been wearing and to put on another which they had brought with
them.  They mounted their second horses, and Marzavan led one of the
grooms' horses by the bridle.

By daybreak our travellers found themselves where four cross roads met
in the middle of the forest.  Here Marzavan begged the prince to wait
for him, and leading the groom's horse into a dense part of the wood he
cut its throat, dipped the prince's coat in its blood, and having
rejoined the prince threw the coat on the ground where the roads parted.

In answer to Camaralzaman's inquiries as to the reason for this,
Marzavan replied that the only chance they had of continuing their
journey was to divert attention by creating the idea of the prince's
death.  "Your father will doubtless be plunged in the deepest grief,"
he went on, "but his joy at your return will be all the greater."

The prince and his companion now continued their journey by land and
sea, and as they had brought plenty of money to defray their expenses
they met with no needless delays.  At length they reached the capital
of China, where they spent three days in a suitable lodging to recover
from their fatigues.

During this time Marzavan had an astrologer's dress prepared for the
prince.  They then went to the baths, after which the prince put on the
astrologer's robe and was conducted within sight of the king's palace
by Marzavan, who left him there and went to consult his mother, the
princess's nurse.

Meantime the prince, according to Marzavan's instructions, advanced
close to the palace gates and there proclaimed aloud:

"I am an astrologer and I come to restore health to the Princess
Badoura, daughter of the high and mighty King of China, on the
conditions laid down by His Majesty of marrying her should I succeed,
or of losing my life if I fail."

It was some little time since anyone had presented himself to run the
terrible risk involved in attempting to cure the princess, and a crowd
soon gathered round the prince.  On perceiving his youth, good looks,
and distinguished bearing, everyone felt pity for him.

"What are you thinking of, sir," exclaimed some; "why expose yourself
to certain death?  Are not the heads you see exposed on the town wall
sufficient warning?  For mercy's sake give up this mad idea and retire
whilst you can."

But the prince remained firm, and only repeated his cry with greater
assurance, to the horror of the crowd.

"He is resolved to die!" they cried; "may heaven have pity on him!"

Camaralzaman now called out for the third time, and at last the
grand-vizir himself came out and fetched him in.

The prime minister led the prince to the king, who was much struck by
the noble air of this new adventurer, and felt such pity for the fate
so evidently in store for him, that he tried to persuade the young man
to renounce his project.

But Camaralzaman politely yet firmly persisted in his intentions, and
at length the king desired the eunuch who had the guard of the
princess's apartments to conduct the astrologer to her presence.

The eunuch led the way through long passages, and Camaralzaman followed
rapidly, in haste to reach the object of his desires.  At last they
came to a large hall which was the ante-room to the princess's chamber,
and here Camaralzaman said to the eunuch:

"Now you shall choose.  Shall I cure the princess in her own presence,
or shall I do it from here without seeing her?"

The eunuch, who had expressed many contemptuous doubts as they came
along of the newcomer's powers, was much surprised and said:

"If you really can cure, it is immaterial when you do it.  Your fame
will be equally great."

"Very well," replied the prince:  "then, impatient though I am to see
the princess, I will effect the cure where I stand, the better to
convince you of my power."  He accordingly drew out his writing case
and wrote as follows--"Adorable princess!  The enamoured Camaralzaman
has never forgotten the moment when, contemplating your sleeping
beauty, he gave you his heart.  As he was at that time deprived of the
happiness of conversing with you, he ventured to give you his ring as a
token of his love, and to take yours in exchange, which he now encloses
in this letter.  Should you deign to return it to him he will be the
happiest of mortals, if not he will cheerfully resign himself to death,
seeing he does so for love of you.  He awaits your reply in your
ante-room."

Having finished this note the prince carefully enclosed the ring in it
without letting the eunuch see it, and gave him the letter, saying:

"Take this to your mistress, my friend, and if on reading it and seeing
its contents she is not instantly cured, you may call me an impudent
impostor."

The eunuch at once passed into the princess's room, and handing her the
letter said:

"Madam, a new astrologer has arrived, who declares that you will be
cured as soon as you have read this letter and seen what it contains."

The princess took the note and opened it with languid indifference.
But no sooner did she see her ring than, barely glancing at the
writing, she rose hastily and with one bound reached the doorway and
pushed back the hangings.  Here she and the prince recognised each
other, and in a moment they were locked in each other's arms, where
they tenderly embraced, wondering how they came to meet at last after
so long a separation.  The nurse, who had hastened after her charge,
drew them back to the inner room, where the princess restored her ring
to Camaralzaman.

"Take it back," she said, "I could not keep it without returning yours
to you, and I am resolved to wear that as long as I live."

Meantime the eunuch had hastened back to the king.  "Sire," he cried,
"all the former doctors and astrologers were mere quacks.  This man has
cured the princess without even seeing her." He then told all to the
king, who, overjoyed, hastened to his daughter's apartments, where,
after embracing her, he placed her hand in that of the prince, saying:

"Happy stranger, I keep my promise, and give you my daughter to wife,
be you who you may.  But, if I am not much mistaken, your condition is
above what you appear to be."

The prince thanked the king in the warmest and most respectful terms,
and added:  "As regards my person, your Majesty has rightly guessed
that I am not an astrologer.  It is but a disguise which I assumed in
order to merit your illustrious alliance.  I am myself a prince, my
name is Camaralzaman, and my father is Schahzaman, King of the Isles of
the Children of Khaledan."  He then told his whole history, including
the extraordinary manner of his first seeing and loving the Princess
Badoura.

When he had finished the king exclaimed:  "So remarkable a story must
not be lost to posterity.  It shall be inscribed in the archives of my
kingdom and published everywhere abroad."

The wedding took place next day amidst great pomp and rejoicings.
Marzavan was not forgotten, but was given a lucrative post at court,
with a promise of further advancement.

The prince and princess were now entirely happy, and months slipped by
unconsciously in the enjoyment of each other's society.

One night, however, Prince Camaralzaman dreamt that he saw his father
lying at the point of death, and saying:  "Alas! my son whom I loved so
tenderly, has deserted me and is now causing my death."

The prince woke with such a groan as to startle the princess, who asked
what was the matter.

"Ah!" cried the prince, "at this very moment my father is perhaps no
more!" and he told his dream.

The princess said but little at the time, but next morning she went to
the king, and kissing his hand said:

"I have a favour to ask of your Majesty, and I beg you to believe that
it is in no way prompted by my husband.  It is that you will allow us
both to visit my father-in-law King Schahzaman."

Sorry though the king felt at the idea of parting with his daughter, he
felt her request to be so reasonable that he could not refuse it, and
made but one condition, which was that she should only spend one year
at the court of King Schahzaman, suggesting that in future the young
couple should visit their respective parents alternately.

The princess brought this good news to her husband, who thanked her
tenderly for this fresh proof of her affection.

All preparations for the journey were now pressed forwards, and when
all was ready the king accompanied the travellers for some days, after
which he took an affectionate leave of his daughter, and charging the
prince to take every care of her, returned to his capital.

The prince and princess journeyed on, and at the end of a month reached
a huge meadow interspersed with clumps of big trees which cast a most
pleasant shade.  As the heat was great, Camaralzaman thought it well to
encamp in this cool spot.  Accordingly the tents were pitched, and the
princess entering hers whilst the prince was giving his further orders,
removed her girdle, which she placed beside her, and desiring her women
to leave her, lay down and was soon asleep.

When the camp was all in order the prince entered the tent and, seeing
the princess asleep, he sat down near her without speaking.  His eyes
fell on the girdle which, he took up, and whilst inspecting the
precious stones set in it he noticed a little pouch sewn to the girdle
and fastened by a loop.  He touched it and felt something hard within.
Curious as to what this might be, he opened the pouch and found a
cornelian engraved with various figures and strange characters.

"This cornelian must be something very precious," thought he, "or my
wife would not wear it on her person with so much care."

In truth it was a talisman which the Queen of China had given her
daughter, telling her it would ensure her happiness as long as she
carried it about her.

The better to examine the stone the prince stepped to the open doorway
of the tent.  As he stood there holding it in the open palm of his
hand, a bird suddenly swooped down, picked the stone up in its beak and
flew away with it.

Imagine the prince's dismay at losing a thing by which his wife
evidently set such store!

The bird having secured its prey flew off some yards and alighted on
the ground, holding the talisman it its beak.  Prince Camaralzaman
advanced, hoping the bird would drop it, but as soon as he approached
the thief fluttered on a little further still.  He continued his
pursuit till the bird suddenly swallowed the stone and took a longer
flight than before.  The prince then hoped to kill it with a stone, but
the more hotly he pursued the further flew the bird.

In this fashion he was led on by hill and dale through the entire day,
and when night came the tiresome creature roosted on the top of a very
high tree where it could rest in safety.

The prince in despair at all his useless trouble began to think whether
he had better return to the camp.  "But," thought he, "how shall I find
my way back?  Must I go up hill or down?  I should certainly lose my
way in the dark, even if my strength held out."  Overwhelmed by hunger,
thirst, fatigue and sleep, he ended by spending the night at the foot
of the tree.

Next morning Camaralzaman woke up before the bird left its perch, and
no sooner did it take flight than he followed it again with as little
success as the previous day, only stopping to eat some herbs and fruit
he found by the way.  In this fashion he spent ten days, following the
bird all day and spending the night at the foot of a tree, whilst it
roosted on the topmost bough.  On the eleventh day the bird and the
prince reached a large town, and as soon as they were close to its
walls the bird took a sudden and higher flight and was shortly
completely out of sight, whilst Camaralzaman felt in despair at having
to give up all hopes of ever recovering the talisman of the Princess
Badoura.

Much cast down, he entered the town, which was built near the sea and
had a fine harbour.  He walked about the streets for a long time, not
knowing where to go, but at length as he walked near the seashore he
found a garden door open and walked in.

The gardener, a good old man, who was at work, happened to look up,
and, seeing a stranger, whom he recognised by his dress as a Mussulman,
he told him to come in at once and to shut the door.

Camaralzaman did as he was bid, and inquired why this precaution was
taken.

"Because," said the gardener, "I see that you are a stranger and a
Mussulman, and this town is almost entirely inhabited by idolaters, who
hate and persecute all of our faith.  It seems almost a miracle that
has led you to this house, and I am indeed glad that you have found a
place of safety."

Camaralzaman warmly thanked the kind old man for offering him shelter,
and was about to say more, but the gardener interrupted him with:

"Leave compliments alone.  You are weary and must be hungry.  Come in,
eat, and rest."  So saying he led the prince into his cottage, and
after satisfying his hunger begged to learn the cause of his arrival.

Camaralzaman told him all without disguise, and ended by inquiring the
shortest way to his father's capital.  "For," added he, "if I tried to
rejoin the princess, how should I find her after eleven days'
separation.  Perhaps, indeed, she may be no longer alive!" At this
terrible thought he burst into tears.

The gardener informed Camaralzaman that they were quite a year's land
journey to any Mahomedan country, but that there was a much shorter
route by sea to the Ebony Island, from whence the Isles of the Children
of Khaledan could be easily reached, and that a ship sailed once a year
for the Ebony Island by which he might get so far as his very home.

"If only you had arrived a few days sooner," he said, "you might have
embarked at once.  As it is you must now wait till next year, but if
you care to stay with me I offer you my house, such as it is, with all
my heart."

Prince Camaralzaman thought himself lucky to find some place of refuge,
and gladly accepted the gardener's offer.  He spent his days working in
the garden, and his nights thinking of and sighing for his beloved wife.

Let us now see what had become during this time of the Princess Badoura.

On first waking she was much surprised not to find the prince near her.
She called her women and asked if they knew where he was, and whilst
they were telling her that they had seen him enter the tent, but had
not noticed his leaving it, she took up her belt and perceived that the
little pouch was open and the talisman gone.

She at once concluded that her husband had taken it and would shortly
bring it back.  She waited for him till evening rather impatiently, and
wondering what could have kept him from her so long.  When night came
without him she felt in despair and abused the talisman and its maker
roundly.  In spite of her grief and anxiety however, she did not lose
her presence of mind, but decided on a courageous, though very unusual
step.

Only the princess and her women knew of Camaralzaman's disappearance,
for the rest of the party were sleeping or resting in their tents.
Fearing some treason should the truth be known, she ordered her women
not to say a word which would give rise to any suspicion, and proceeded
to change her dress for one of her husband's, to whom, as has been
already said, she bore a strong likeness.

In this disguise she looked so like the prince that when she gave
orders next morning to break up the camp and continue the journey no
one suspected the change.  She made one of her women enter her litter,
whilst she herself mounted on horseback and the march began.

After a protracted journey by land and sea the princess, still under
the name and disguise of Prince Camaralzaman, arrived at the capital of
the Ebony Island whose king was named Armanos.

No sooner did the king hear that the ship which was just in port had on
board the son of his old friend and ally than he hurried to meet the
supposed prince, and had him and his retinue brought to the palace,
where they were lodged and entertained sumptuously.

After three days, finding that his guest, to whom he had taken a great
fancy, talked of continuing his journey, King Armanos said to him:

"Prince, I am now an old man, and unfortunately I have no son to whom
to leave my kingdom.  It has pleased Heaven to give me only one
daughter, who possesses such great beauty and charm that I could only
give her to a prince as highly born and as accomplished as yourself.
Instead, therefore, of returning to your own country, take my daughter
and my crown and stay with us.  I shall feel that I have a worthy
successor, and shall cheerfully retire from the fatigues of government."

The king's offer was naturally rather embarrassing to the Princess
Badoura.  She felt that it was equally impossible to confess that she
had deceived him, or to refuse the marriage on which he had set his
heart; a refusal which might turn all his kindness to hatred and
persecution.

All things considered, she decided to accept, and after a few moments
silence said with a blush, which the king attributed to modesty:

"Sire, I feel so great an obligation for the good opinion your Majesty
has expressed for my person and of the honour you do me, that, though I
am quite unworthy of it, I dare not refuse.  But, sire, I can only
accept such an alliance if you give me your promise to assist me with
your counsels."

The marriage being thus arranged, the ceremony was fixed for the
following day, and the princess employed the intervening time in
informing the officers of her suite of what had happened, assuring them
that the Princess Badoura had given her full consent to the marriage.
She also told her women, and bade them keep her secret well.

King Armanos, delighted with the success of his plans, lost no time in
assembling his court and council, to whom he presented his successor,
and placing his future son-in-law on the throne made everyone do homage
and take oaths of allegiance to the new king.

At night the whole town was filled with rejoicings, and with much pomp
the Princess Haiatelnefous (this was the name of the king's daughter)
was conducted to the palace of the Princess Badoura.

Now Badoura had thought much of the difficulties of her first interview
with King Armanos' daughter, and she felt the only thing to do was at
once to take her into her confidence.

Accordingly, as soon as they were alone she took Haiatelnefous by the
hand and said:

"Princess, I have a secret to tell you, and must throw myself on your
mercy.  I am not Prince Camaralzaman, but a princess like yourself and
his wife, and I beg you to listen to my story, then I am sure you will
forgive my imposture, in consideration of my sufferings."

She then related her whole history, and at its close Haiatelnefous
embraced her warmly, and assured her of her entire sympathy and
affection.

The two princesses now planned out their future action, and agreed to
combine to keep up the deception and to let Badoura continue to play a
man's part until such time as there might be news of the real
Camaralzaman.

Whilst these things were passing in the Ebony Island Prince
Camaralzaman continued to find shelter in the gardeners cottage in the
town of the idolaters.

Early one morning the gardener said to the prince:

"To-day is a public holiday, and the people of the town not only do not
work themselves but forbid others to do so.  You had better therefore
take a good rest whilst I go to see some friends, and as the time is
near for the arrival of the ship of which I told you I will make
inquiries about it, and try to bespeak a passage for you." He then put
on his best clothes and went out, leaving the prince, who strolled into
the garden and was soon lost in thoughts of his dear wife and their sad
separation.

As he walked up and down he was suddenly disturbed in his reverie by
the noise two large birds were making in a tree.

Camaralzaman stood still and looked up, and saw that the birds were
fighting so savagely with beaks and claws that before long one fell
dead to the ground, whilst the conqueror spread his wings and flew
away.  Almost immediately two other larger birds, who had been watching
the duel, flew up and alighted, one at the head and the other at the
feet of the dead bird.  They stood there some time sadly shaking their
heads, and then dug up a grave with their claws in which they buried
him.

As soon as they had filled in the grave the two flew off, and ere long
returned, bringing with them the murderer, whom they held, one by a
wing and the other by a leg, with their beaks, screaming and struggling
with rage and terror.  But they held tight, and having brought him to
his victim's grave, they proceeded to kill him, after which they tore
open his body, scattered the inside and once more flew away.

The prince, who had watched the whole scene with much interest, now
drew near the spot where it happened, and glancing at the dead bird he
noticed something red lying near which had evidently fallen out of its
inside.  He picked it up, and what was his surprise when he recognised
the Princess Badoura's talisman which had been the cause of many
misfortunes.  It would be impossible to describe his joy; he kissed the
talisman repeatedly, wrapped it up, and carefully tied it round his
arm.  For the first time since his separation from the princess he had
a good night, and next morning he was up at day-break and went
cheerfully to ask what work he should do.

The gardener told him to cut down an old fruit tree which had quite
died away, and Camaralzaman took an axe and fell to vigorously.  As he
was hacking at one of the roots the axe struck on something hard.  On
pushing away the earth he discovered a large slab of bronze, under
which was disclosed a staircase with ten steps.  He went down them and
found himself in a roomy kind of cave in which stood fifty large bronze
jars, each with a cover on it.  The prince uncovered one after another,
and found them all filled with gold dust.  Delighted with his discovery
he left the cave, replaced the slab, and having finished cutting down
the tree waited for the gardener's return.

The gardener had heard the night before that the ship about which he
was inquiring would start ere long, but the exact date not being yet
known he had been told to return next day for further information.  He
had gone therefore to inquire, and came back with good news beaming in
his face.

"My son," said he, "rejoice and hold yourself ready to start in three
days' time.  The ship is to set sail, and I have arranged all about
your passage with the captain.

"You could not bring me better news," replied Camaralzaman, "and in
return I have something pleasant to tell you.  Follow me and see the
good fortune which has befallen you."

He then led the gardener to the cave, and having shown him the treasure
stored up there, said how happy it made him that Heaven should in this
way reward his kind host's many virtues and compensate him for the
privations of many years.

"What do you mean?" asked the gardener.  "Do you imagine that I should
appropriate this treasure?  It is yours, and I have no right whatever
to it.  For the last eighty years I have dug up the ground here without
discovering anything.  It is clear that these riches are intended for
you, and they are much more needed by a prince like yourself than by an
old man like me, who am near my end and require nothing.  This treasure
comes just at the right time, when you are about to return to your own
country, where you will make good use of it."

But the prince would not hear of this suggestion, and finally after
much discussion they agreed to divide the gold.  When this was done the
gardener said:

"My son, the great thing now is to arrange how you can best carry off
this treasure as secretly as possible for fear of losing it.  There are
no olives in the Ebony Island, and those imported from here fetch a
high price.  As you know, I have a good stock of the olives which grew
in this garden.  Now you must take fifty jars, fill each half full of
gold dust and fill them up with the olives.  We will then have them
taken on board ship when you embark."

The prince took this advice, and spent the rest of the day filling the
fifty jars, and fearing lest the precious talisman might slip from his
arm and be lost again, he took the precaution of putting it in one of
the jars, on which he made a mark so as to be able to recognise it.
When night came the jars were all ready, and the prince and his host
went to bed.

Whether in consequence of his great age, or of the fatigues and
excitement of the previous day, I do not know, but the gardener passed
a very bad night.  He was worse next day, and by the morning of the
third day was dangerously ill.  At daybreak the ship's captain and some
of his sailors knocked at the garden door and asked for the passenger
who was to embark.

"I am he," said Camaralzaman, who had opened the door.  "The gardener
who took my passage is ill and cannot see you, but please come in and
take these jars of olives and my bag, and I will follow as soon as I
have taken leave of him."

The sailors did as he asked, and the captain before leaving charged
Camaralzaman to lose no time, as the wind was fair, and he wished to
set sail at once.

As soon as they were gone the prince returned to the cottage to bid
farewell to his old friend, and to thank him once more for all his
kindness.  But the old man was at his last gasp, and had barely
murmured his confession of faith when he expired.

Camaralzaman was obliged to stay and pay him the last offices, so
having dug a grave in the garden he wrapped the kind old man up and
buried him.  He then locked the door, gave up the key to the owner of
the garden, and hurried to the quay only to hear that the ship had
sailed long ago, after waiting three hours for him.

It may well be believed that the prince felt in despair at this fresh
misfortune, which obliged him to spend another year in a strange and
distasteful country.  Moreover, he had once more lost the Princess
Badoura's talisman, which he feared he might never see again.  There
was nothing left for him but to hire the garden as the old man had
done, and to live on in the cottage.  As he could not well cultivate
the garden by himself, he engaged a lad to help him, and to secure the
rest of the treasure he put the remaining gold dust into fifty more
jars, filling them up with olives so as to have them ready for
transport.

Whilst the prince was settling down to this second year of toil and
privation, the ship made a rapid voyage and arrived safely at the Ebony
Island.

As the palace of the new king, or rather of the Princess Badoura,
overlooked the harbour, she saw the ship entering it and asked what
vessel it was coming in so gaily decked with flags, and was told that
it was a ship from the Island of the Idolaters which yearly brought
rich merchandise.

The princess, ever on the look out for any chance of news of her
beloved husband, went down to the harbour attended by some officers of
the court, and arrived just as the captain was landing.  She sent for
him and asked many questions as to his country, voyage, what passengers
he had, and what his vessel was laden with.  The captain answered all
her questions, and said that his passengers consisted entirely of
traders who brought rich stuffs from various countries, fine muslins,
precious stones, musk, amber, spices, drugs, olives, and many other
things.

As soon as he mentioned olives, the princess, who was very partial to
them, exclaimed:

"I will take all you have on board.  Have them unloaded and we will
make our bargain at once, and tell the other merchants to let me see
all their best wares before showing them to other people."

"Sire," replied the captain, "I have on board fifty very large pots of
olives.  They belong to a merchant who was left behind, as in spite of
waiting for him he delayed so long that I was obliged to set sail
without him."

"Never mind," said the princess, "unload them all the same, and we will
arrange the price."

The captain accordingly sent his boat off to the ship and it soon
returned laden with the fifty pots of olives.  The princess asked what
they might be worth.

"Sire," replied the captain, "the merchant is very poor.  Your Majesty
will not overpay him if you give him a thousand pieces of silver."

"In order to satisfy him and as he is so poor," said the princess, "I
will order a thousand pieces of gold to be given you, which you will be
sure to remit to him."

So saying she gave orders for the payment and returned to the palace,
having the jars carried before her.  When evening came the Princess
Badoura retired to the inner part of the palace, and going to the
apartments of the Princess Haiatelnefous she had the fifty jars of
olives brought to her.  She opened one to let her friend taste the
olives and to taste them herself, but great was her surprise when, on
pouring some into a dish, she found them all powdered with gold dust.
"What an adventure! how extraordinary!" she cried.  Then she had the
other jars opened, and was more and more surprised to find the olives
in each jar mixed with gold dust.

But when at length her talisman was discovered in one of the jars her
emotion was so great that she fainted away.  The Princess Haiatelnefous
and her women hastened to restore her, and as soon as she recovered
consciousness she covered the precious talisman with kisses.

Then, dismissing the attendants, she said to her friend:

"You will have guessed, my dear, that it was the sight of this talisman
which has moved me so deeply.  This was the cause of my separation from
my dear husband, and now, I am convinced, it will be the means of our
reunion."

As soon as it was light next day the Princess Badoura sent for the
captain, and made further inquiries about the merchant who owned the
olive jars she had bought.

In reply the captain told her all he knew of the place where the young
man lived, and how, after engaging his passage, he came to be left
behind.

"If that is the case," said the princess, "you must set sail at once
and go back for him.  He is a debtor of mine and must be brought here
at once, or I will confiscate all your merchandise.  I shall now give
orders to have all the warehouses where your cargo is placed under the
royal seal, and they will only be opened when you have brought me the
man I ask for.  Go at once and obey my orders."

The captain had no choice but to do as he was bid, so hastily
provisioning his ship he started that same evening on his return voyage.

When, after a rapid passage, he gained sight of the Island of
Idolaters, he judged it better not to enter the harbour, but casting
anchor at some distance he embarked at night in a small boat with six
active sailors and landed near Camaralzaman's cottage.

The prince was not asleep, and as he lay awake moaning over all the sad
events which had separated him from his wife, he thought he heard a
knock at the garden door.  He went to open it, and was immediately
seized by the captain and sailors, who without a word of explanation
forcibly bore him off to the boat, which took them back to the ship
without loss of time.  No sooner were they on board than they weighed
anchor and set sail.

Camaralzaman, who had kept silence till then, now asked the captain
(whom he had recognised) the reason for this abduction.

"Are you not a debtor of the King of the Ebony Island?" asked the
captain.

"I?  Why, I never even heard of him before, and never set foot in his
kingdom!" was the answer.

"Well, you must know better than I," said the captain.  "You will soon
see him now, and meantime be content where you are and have patience."

The return voyage was as prosperous as the former one, and though it
was night when the ship entered the harbour, the captain lost no time
in landing with his passenger, whom he conducted to the palace, where
he begged an audience with the king.

Directly the Princess Badoura saw the prince she recognised him in
spite of his shabby clothes.  She longed to throw herself on his neck,
but restrained herself, feeling it was better for them both that she
should play her part a little longer.  She therefore desired one of her
officers to take care of him and to treat him well.  Next she ordered
another officer to remove the seals from the warehouse, whilst she
presented the captain with a costly diamond, and told him to keep the
thousand pieces of gold paid for the olives, as she would arrange
matters with the merchant himself.

She then returned to her private apartments, where she told the
Princess Haiatelnefous all that had happened, as well as her plans for
the future, and begged her assistance, which her friend readily
promised.

Next morning she ordered the prince to be taken to the bath and clothed
in a manner suitable to an emir or governor of a province.  He was then
introduced to the council, where his good looks and grand air drew the
attention of all on him.

Princess Badoura, delighted to see him looking himself once more,
turned to the other emirs, saying:

"My lords, I introduce to you a new colleague, Camaralzaman, whom I
have known on my travels and who, I can assure you, you will find well
deserves your regard and admiration."

Camaralzaman was much surprised at hearing the king--whom he never
suspected of being a woman in disguise--asserting their acquaintance,
for he felt sure he had never seen her before.  However he received all
the praises bestowed on him with becoming modesty, and prostrating
himself, said:

"Sire, I cannot find words in which to thank your Majesty for the great
honour conferred on me.  I can but assure you that I will do all in my
power to prove myself worthy of it."

On leaving the council the prince was conducted to a splendid house
which had been prepared for him, where he found a full establishment
and well-filled stables at his orders.  On entering his study his
steward presented him with a coffer filled with gold pieces for his
current expenses.  He felt more and more puzzled by such good fortune,
and little guessed that the Princess of China was the cause of it.

After a few days the Princess Badoura promoted Camaralzaman to the post
of grand treasurer, an office which he filled with so much integrity
and benevolence as to win universal esteem.

He would now have thought himself the happiest of men had it not been
for that separation which he never ceased to bewail.  He had no clue to
the mystery of his present position, for the princess, out of
compliment to the old king, had taken his name, and was generally known
as King Armanos the younger, few people remembering that on her first
arrival she went by another name.

At length the princess felt that the time had come to put an end to her
own and the prince's suspense, and having arranged all her plans with
the Princess Haiatelnefous, she informed Camaralzaman that she wished
his advice on some important business, and, to avoid being disturbed,
desired him to come to the palace that evening.

The prince was punctual, and was received in the private apartment,
when, having ordered her attendants to withdraw, the princess took from
a small box the talisman, and, handing it to Camaralzaman, said:  "Not
long ago an astrologer gave me this talisman.  As you are universally
well informed, you can perhaps tell me what is its use."

Camaralzaman took the talisman and, holding it to the light, cried with
surprise, "Sire, you ask me the use of this talisman.  Alas! hitherto
it has been only a source of misfortune to me, being the cause of my
separation from the one I love best on earth.  The story is so sad and
strange that I am sure your Majesty will be touched by it if you will
permit me to tell it you."

"I will hear it some other time," replied the princess.  "Meanwhile I
fancy it is not quite unknown to me.  Wait here for me.  I will return
shortly."

So saying she retired to another room, where she hastily changed her
masculine attire for that of a woman, and, after putting on the girdle
she wore the day they parted, returned to Camaralzaman.

The prince recognised her at once, and, embracing her with the utmost
tenderness, cried, "Ah, how can I thank the king for this delightful
surprise?"

"Do not expect ever to see the king again," said the princess, as she
wiped the tears of joy from her eyes, "in me you see the king.  Let us
sit down, and I will tell you all about it."

She then gave a full account of all her adventures since their parting,
and dwelt much on the charms and noble disposition of the Princess
Haiatelnefous, to whose friendly assistance she owed so much.  When she
had done she asked to hear the prince's story, and in this manner they
spent most of the night.

Next morning the princess resumed her woman's clothes, and as soon as
she was ready she desired the chief eunuch to beg King Armanos to come
to her apartments.

When the king arrived great was his surprise at finding a strange lady
in company of the grand treasurer who had no actual right to enter the
private apartment.  Seating himself he asked for the king.

"Sire," said the princess, "yesterday I was the king, to-day I am only
the Princess of China and wife to the real Prince Camaralzaman, son of
King Schahzaman, and I trust that when your Majesty shall have heard
our story you will not condemn the innocent deception I have been
obliged to practise."

The king consented to listen, and did so with marked surprise.

At the close of her narrative the princess said, "Sire, as our religion
allows a man to have more than one wife, I would beg your Majesty to
give your daughter, the Princess Haiatelnefous, in marriage to Prince
Camaralzaman.  I gladly yield to her the precedence and title of Queen
in recognition of the debt of gratitude which I owe her."

King Armanos heard the princess with surprise and admiration, then,
turning to Camaralzaman, he said, "My son, as your wife, the Princess
Badoura (whom I have hitherto looked on as my son-in-law), consents to
share your hand and affections with my daughter, I have only to ask if
this marriage is agreeable to you, and if you will consent to accept
the crown which the Princess Badoura deserves to wear all her life, but
which she prefers to resign for love of you."

"Sire," replied Camaralzaman, "I can refuse your Majesty nothing."

Accordingly Camaralzaman was duly proclaimed king, and as duly married
with all pomp to the Princess Haiatelnefous, with whose beauty,
talents, and affections he had every reason to be pleased.

The two queens lived in true sisterly harmony together, and after a
time each presented King Camaralzaman with a son, whose births were
celebrated throughout the kingdom with the utmost rejoicing.



Noureddin and the Fair Persian


Balsora was the capital of a kingdom long tributary to the caliph.
During the time of the Caliph Haroun-al-Raschid the king of Balsora,
who was his cousin, was called Zinebi.  Not thinking one vizir enough
for the administration of his estates he had two, named Khacan and
Saouy.

Khacan was kind, generous, and liberal, and took pleasure in obliging,
as far as in him lay, those who had business with him.  Throughout the
entire kingdom there was no one who did not esteem and praise him as he
deserved.

Saouy was quite a different character, and repelled everyone with whom
he came in contact; he was always gloomy, and, in spite of his great
riches, so miserly that he denied himself even the necessaries of life.
What made him particularly detested was the great aversion he had to
Khacan, of whom he never ceased to speak evil to the king.

One day, while the king amused himself talking with his two vizirs and
other members of the council, the conversation turned on female slaves.
While some declared that it sufficed for a slave to be beautiful,
others, and Khacan was among the number, maintained that beauty alone
was not enough, but that it must be accompanied by wit, wisdom,
modesty, and, if possible, knowledge.

The king not only declared himself to be of this opinion, but charged
Khacan to procure him a slave who should fulfil all these conditions.
Saouy, who had been of the opposite side, and was jealous of the honour
done to Khacan, said, "Sire, it will be very difficult to find a slave
as accomplished as your Majesty desires, and, if she is to be found,
she will be cheap if she cost less than 10,000 gold pieces."

"Saouy," answered the king, "you seem to find that a very great sum.
For you it may be so, but not for me."

And forthwith he ordered his grand treasurer, who was present, to send
10,000 gold pieces to Khacan for the purchase of the slave.

As soon, then, as Khacan returned home he sent for the dealers in
female slaves, and charged them directly they had found such a one as
he described to inform him.  They promised to do their utmost, and no
day passed that they did not bring a slave for his inspection but none
was found without some defect.

At length, early one morning, while Khacan was on his way to the king's
palace, a dealer, throwing himself in his way, announced eagerly that a
Persian merchant, arrived late the previous evening, had a slave to
sell whose wit and wisdom were equal to her incomparable beauty.

Khacan, overjoyed at this news, gave orders that the slave should be
brought for his inspection on his return from the palace.  The dealer
appearing at the appointed hour, Khacan found the slave beautiful
beyond his expectations, and immediately gave her the name of "The Fair
Persian."

Being a man of great wisdom and learning, he perceived in the short
conversation he had with her that he would seek in vain another slave
to surpass her in any of the qualities required by the king, and
therefore asked the dealer what price the merchant put upon her.

"Sir," was the answer, "for less than 10,000 gold pieces he will not
let her go; he declares that, what with masters for her instruction,
and for bodily exercises, not to speak of clothing and nourishment, he
has already spent that sum upon her.  She is in every way fit to be the
slave of a king; she plays every musical instrument, she sings, she
dances, she makes verses, in fact there is no accomplishment in which
she does not excel."

Khacan, who was better able to judge of her merits than the dealer,
wishing to bring the matter to a conclusion, sent for the merchant, and
said to him, "It is not for myself that I wish to buy your slave, but
for the king.  Her price, however, is too high."

"Sir," replied the merchant, "I should esteem it an honour to present
her to his Majesty, did it become a merchant to do such a thing.  I ask
no more than the sum it has cost me to make her such as she is."

Khacan, not wishing to bargain, immediately had the sum counted out,
and given to the merchant, who before withdrawing said:

"Sir, as she is destined for the king, I would have you observe that
she is extremely tired with the long journey, and before presenting her
to his Majesty you would do well to keep her a fortnight in your own
house, and to see that a little care is bestowed upon her.  The sun has
tanned her complexion, but when she has been two or three times to the
bath, and is fittingly dressed, you will see how much her beauty will
be increased."

Khacan thanked the merchant for his advice, and determined to follow
it.  He gave the beautiful Persian an apartment near to that of his
wife, whom he charged to treat her as befitting a lady destined for the
king, and to order for her the most magnificent garments.

Before bidding adieu to the fair Persian, he said to her: "No happiness
can be greater than what I have procured for you; judge for yourself,
you now belong to the king.  I have, however, to warn you of one thing.
I have a son, who, though not wanting in sense, is young, foolish, and
headstrong, and I charge you to keep him at a distance."

The Persian thanked him for his advice, and promised to profit by it.

Noureddin--for so the vizir's son was named--went freely in and out of
his mother's apartments.  He was young, well-made and agreeable, and
had the gift of charming all with whom he came in contact.  As soon as
he saw the beautiful Persian, though aware that she was destined for
the king, he let himself be carried away by her charms, and determined
at once to use every means in his power to retain her for himself.  The
Persian was equally captivated by Noureddin, and said to herself:  "The
vizir does me too great honour in buying me for the king.  I should
esteem myself very happy if he would give me to his son."

Noureddin availed himself of every opportunity to gaze upon her beauty,
to talk and laugh with her, and never would have left her side if his
mother had not forced him.

Some time having elapsed, on account of the long journey, since the
beautiful Persian had been to the bath, five or six days after her
purchase the vizir's wife gave orders that the bath should be heated
for her, and that her own female slaves should attend her there, and
after-wards should array her in a magnificent dress that had been
prepared for her.

Her toilet completed, the beautiful Persian came to present herself to
the vizir's wife, who hardly recognised her, so greatly was her beauty
increased.  Kissing her hand, the beautiful slave said: "Madam, I do
not know how you find me in this dress that you have had prepared for
me; your women assure me that it suits me so well that they hardly knew
me.  If it is the truth they tell me, and not flattery, it is to you I
owe the transformation."

"My daughter," answered the vizir's wife, "they do not flatter you.  I
myself hardly recognised you.  The improvement is not due to the dress
alone, but largely to the beautifying effects of the bath.  I am so
struck by its results, that I would try it on myself."

Acting forthwith on this decision she ordered two little slaves during
her absence to watch over the beautiful Persian, and not to allow
Noureddin to enter should he come.

She had no sooner gone than he arrived, and not finding his mother in
her apartment, would have sought her in that of the Persian.  The two
little slaves barred the entrance, saying that his mother had given
orders that he was not to be admitted.  Taking each by an arm, he put
them out of the anteroom, and shut the door.  Then they rushed to the
bath, informing their mistress with shrieks and tears that Noureddin
had driven them away by force and gone in.

This news caused great consternation to the lady, who, dressing herself
as quickly as possible, hastened to the apartment of the fair Persian,
to find that Noureddin had already gone out.  Much astonished to see
the vizir's wife enter in tears, the Persian asked what misfortune had
happened.

"What!" exclaimed the lady, "you ask me that, knowing that my son
Noureddin has been alone with you?"

"But, madam," inquired the Persian, "what harm is there in that?"

"How!  Has my husband not told you that you are destined for the king?"

"Certainly, but Noureddin has just been to tell me that his father has
changed his mind and has bestowed me upon him.  I believed him, and so
great is my affection for Noureddin that I would willingly pass my life
with him."

"Would to heaven," exclaimed the wife of the vizir, "that what you say
were true; but Noureddin has deceived you, and his father will
sacrifice him in vengeance for the wrong he has done."

So saying, she wept bitterly, and all her slaves wept with her.

Khacan, entering shortly after this, was much astonished to find his
wife and her slaves in tears, and the beautiful Persian greatly
perturbed.  He inquired the cause, but for some time no answer was
forthcoming.  When his wife was at length sufficiently calm to inform
him of what had happened, his rage and mortification knew no bounds.
Wringing his hands and rending his beard, he exclaimed:

"Wretched son! thou destroyest not only thyself but thy father.  The
king will shed not only thy blood but mine."  His wife tried to console
him, saying:  "Do not torment thyself.  With the sale of my jewels I
will obtain 10,000 gold pieces, and with this sum you will buy another
slave."

"Do not suppose," replied her husband, "that it is the loss of the
money that affects me.  My honour is at stake, and that is more
precious to me than all my wealth.  You know that Saouy is my mortal
enemy.  He will relate all this to the king, and you will see the
consequences that will ensue."

"My lord," said his wife, "I am quite aware of Saouy's baseness, and
that he is capable of playing you this malicious trick.  But how can he
or any one else know what takes place in this house?  Even if you are
suspected and the king accuses you, you have only to say that, after
examining the slave, you did not find her worthy of his Majesty.
Reassure yourself, and send to the dealers, saying that you are not
satisfied, and wish them to find you another slave."

This advice appearing reasonable, Khacan decided to follow it, but his
wrath against his son did not abate.  Noureddin dared not appear all
that day, and fearing to take refuge with his usual associates in case
his father should seek him there, he spent the day in a secluded garden
where he was not known.  He did not return home till after his father
had gone to bed, and went out early next morning before the vizir
awoke, and these precautions he kept up during an entire month.

His mother, though knowing very well that he returned to the house
every evening, dare not ask her husband to pardon him.  At length she
took courage and said:

"My lord, I know that a son could not act more basely towards his
father than Noureddin has done towards you, but after all will you now
pardon him?  Do you not consider the harm you may be doing yourself,
and fear that malicious people, seeking the cause of your estrangement,
may guess the real one?"

"Madam," replied the vizir, "what you say is very just, but I cannot
pardon Noureddin before I have mortified him as he deserves."

"He will be sufficiently punished," answered the lady, "if you do as I
suggest.  In the evening, when he returns home, lie in wait for him and
pretend that you will slay him.  I will come to his aid, and while
pointing out that you only yield his life at my supplications, you can
force him to take the beautiful Persian on any conditions you please."
Khacan agreed to follow this plan, and everything took place as
arranged.  On Noureddin's return Khacan pretended to be about to slay
him, but yielding to his wife's intercession, said to his son:

"You owe your life to your mother.  I pardon you on her intercession,
and on the conditions that you take the beautiful Persian for your
wife, and not your slave, that you never sell her, nor put her away."

Noureddin, not hoping for so great indulgence, thanked his father, and
vowed to do as he desired.  Khacan was at great pains frequently to
speak to the king of the difficulties attending the commission he had
given him, but some whispers of what had actually taken place did reach
Saouy's ears.

More than a year after these events the minister took a chill, leaving
the bath while still heated to go out on important business.  This
resulted in inflammation of the lungs, which rapidly increased.  The
vizir, feeling that his end was at hand, sent for Noureddin, and
charged him with his dying breath never to part with the beautiful
Persian.

Shortly afterwards he expired, leaving universal regret throughout the
kingdom; rich and poor alike followed him to the grave.  Noureddin
showed every mark of the deepest grief at his father's death, and for
long refused to see any one.  At length a day came when, one of his
friends being admitted, urged him strongly to be consoled, and to
resume his former place in society.  This advice Noureddin was not slow
to follow, and soon he formed little society of ten young men all about
his own age, with whom he spent all his time in continual feasting and
merry-making.

Sometimes the fair Persian consented to appear at these festivities,
but she disapproved of this lavish expenditure, and did not scruple to
warn Noureddin of the probable consequences.  He, however, only laughed
at her advice, saying, that his father had always kept him in too great
constraint, and that now he rejoiced at his new-found liberty.

What added to the confusion in his affairs was that he refused to look
into his accounts with his steward, sending him away every time he
appeared with his book.

"See only that I live well," he said, "and do not disturb me about
anything else."

Not only did Noureddin's friends constantly partake of his hospitality,
but in every way they took advantage of his generosity; everything of
his that they admired, whether land, houses, baths, or any other source
of his revenue, he immediately bestowed on them.  In vain the Persian
protested against the wrong he did himself; he continued to scatter
with the same lavish hand.

Throughout one entire year Noureddin did nothing but amuse himself, and
dissipate the wealth his father had taken such pains to acquire.  The
year had barely elapsed, when one day, as they sat at table, there came
a knock at the door.  The slaves having been sent away, Noureddin went
to open it himself.  One of his friends had risen at the same time, but
Noureddin was before him, and finding the intruder to be the steward,
he went out and closed the door.  The friend, curious to hear what
passed between them, hid himself behind the hangings, and heard the
following words:

"My lord," said the steward, "I beg a thousand pardons for interrupting
you, but what I have long foreseen has taken place.  Nothing remains of
the sums you gave me for your expenses, and all other sources of income
are also at end, having been transferred by you to others.  If you wish
me to remain in your service, furnish me with the necessary funds, else
I must withdraw."

So great was Noureddin's consternation that he had not a word to say in
reply.

The friend, who had been listening behind the curtain, immediately
hastened to communicate the news to the rest of the company.

"If this is so," they said, "we must cease to come here."

Noureddin re-entering at that moment, they plainly saw, in spite of his
efforts to dissemble, that what they had heard was the truth.  One by
one they rose, and each with a different excuse left the room, till
presently he found himself alone, though little suspecting the
resolution his friends had taken.  Then, seeing the beautiful Persian,
he confided to her the statement of the steward, with many expressions
of regret for his own carelessness.

"Had I but followed your advice, beautiful Persian," he said, "all this
would not have happened, but at least I have this consolation, that I
have spent my fortune in the company of friends who will not desert me
in an hour of need.  To-morrow I will go to them, and amongst them they
will lend me a sum sufficient to start in some business."

Accordingly next morning early Noureddin went to seek his ten friends,
who all lived in the same street.  Knocking at the door of the first
and chief, the slave who opened it left him to wait in a hall while he
announced his visit to his master.  "Noureddin!" he heard him exclaim
quite audibly.  "Tell him, every time he calls, that I am not at home."
The same thing happened at the second door, and also at the third, and
so on with all the ten.  Noureddin, much mortified, recognised too late
that he had confided in false friends, who abandoned him in his hour of
need.  Overwhelmed with grief, he sought consolation from the beautiful
Persian.

"Alas, my lord," she said, "at last you are convinced of the truth of
what I foretold.  There is now no other resource left but to sell your
slaves and your furniture."

First then he sold the slaves, and subsisted for a time on the
proceeds, after that the furniture was sold, and as much of it was
valuable it sufficed for some time.  Finally this resource also came to
an end, and again he sought counsel from the beautiful Persian.

"My lord," she said, "I know that the late vizir, your father, bought
me for 10,000 gold pieces, and though I have diminished in value since,
I should still fetch a large sum.  Do not therefore hesitate to sell
me, and with the money you obtain go and establish yourself in business
in some distant town."

"Charming Persian," answered Noureddin, "how could I be guilty of such
baseness?  I would die rather than part from you whom I love better
than my life."

"My lord," she replied, "I am well aware of your love for me, which is
only equalled by mine for you, but a cruel necessity obliges us to seek
the only remedy."

Noureddin, convinced at length of the truth of her words, yielded, and
reluctantly led her to the slave market, where, showing her to a dealer
named Hagi Hassan, he inquired her value.

Taking them into a room apart, Hagi Hassan exclaimed as soon as she had
unveiled, "My lord, is not this the slave your father bought for 10,000
pieces?"

On learning that it was so, he promised to obtain the highest possible
price for her.  Leaving the beautiful Persian shut up in the room
alone, he went out to seek the slave merchants, announcing to them that
he had found the pearl among slaves, and asking them to come and put a
value upon her.  As soon as they saw her they agreed that less than
4,000 gold pieces could not be asked.  Hagi Hassan, then closing the
door upon her, began to offer her for sale--calling out: "Who will bid
4,000 gold pieces for the Persian slave?"

Before any of the merchants had bid, Saouy happened to pass that way,
and judging that it must be a slave of extraordinary beauty, rode up to
Hagi Hassan and desired to see her.  Now it was not the custom to show
a slave to a private bidder, but as no one dared to disobey the vizir
his request was granted.

As soon as Saouy saw the Persian he was so struck by her beauty, that
he immediately wished to possess her, and not knowing that she belonged
to Noureddin, he desired Hagi Hassan to send for the owner and to
conclude the bargain at once.

Hagi Hassan then sought Noureddin, and told him that his slave was
going far below her value, and that if Saouy bought her he was capable
of not paying the money.  "What you must do," he said, "is to pretend
that you had no real intention of selling your slave, and only swore
you would in a fit of anger against her.  When I present her to Saouy
as if with your consent you must step in, and with blows begin to lead
her away."

Noureddin did as Hagi Hassan advised, to the great wrath of Saouy, who
riding straight at him endeavoured to take the beautiful Persian from
him by force.  Noureddin letting her go, seized Saouy's horse by the
bridle, and, encouraged by the applause of the bystanders, dragged him
to the ground, beat him severely, and left him in the gutter streaming
with blood.  Then, taking the beautiful Persian, he returned home
amidst the acclamations of the people, who detested Saouy so much that
they would neither interfere in his behalf nor allow his slaves to
protect him.

Covered from head to foot with mire and streaming with blood he rose,
and leaning on two of his slaves went straight to the palace, where he
demanded an audience of the king, to whom he related what had taken
place in these words:

"May it please your Majesty, I had gone to the slave market to buy
myself a cook.  While there I heard a slave being offered for 4,000
pieces.  Asking to see her, I found she was of incomparable beauty, and
was being sold by Noureddin, the son of your late vizir, to whom your
Majesty will remember giving a sum of 10,000 gold pieces for the
purchase of a slave.  This is the identical slave, whom instead of
bringing to your Majesty he gave to his own son.  Since the death of
his father this Noureddin has run through his entire fortune, has sold
all his possessions, and is now reduced to selling the slave.  Calling
him to me, I said:  "Noureddin, I will give you 10,000 gold pieces for
your slave, whom I will present to the king.  I will interest him at
the same time in your behalf, and this will be worth much more to you
than what extra money you might obtain from the merchants."  "Bad old
man," he exclaimed, "rather than sell my slave to you I would give her
to a Jew." "But, Noureddin," I remonstrated, "you do not consider that
in speaking thus you wrong the king, to whom your father owed
everything." This remonstrance only irritated him the more.  Throwing
himself on me like a madman, he tore me from my horse, beat me to his
heart's content, and left me in the state your Majesty sees."

So saying Saouy turned aside his head and wept bitterly.

The king's wrath was kindled against Noureddin.  He ordered the captain
of the guard to take with him forty men, to pillage Noureddin's house,
to rase it to the ground, and to bring Noureddin and the slave to him.
A doorkeeper, named Sangiar, who had been a slave of Khacan's, hearing
this order given, slipped out of the king's apartment, and hastened to
warn Noureddin to take flight instantly with the beautiful Persian.
Then, presenting him with forty gold pieces, he disappeared before
Noureddin had time to thank him.

As soon, then, as the fair Persian had put on her veil they fled
together, and had the good fortune to get out of the town without being
observed.  At the mouth of the Euphrates they found a ship just about
to start for Bagdad.  They embarked, and immediately the anchor was
raised and they set sail.

When the captain of the guard reached Noureddin's house he caused his
soldiers to burst open the door and to enter by force, but no trace was
to be found of Noureddin and his slave, nor could the neighbours give
any information about them.  When the king heard that they had escaped,
he issued a proclamation that a reward of 1,000 gold pieces would be
given to whoever would bring him Noureddin and the slave, but that, on
the contrary, whoever hid them would be severely punished.  Meanwhile
Noureddin and the fair Persian had safely reached Bagdad.  When the
vessel had come to an anchor they paid five gold pieces for their
passage and went ashore.  Never having been in Bagdad before, they did
not know where to seek a lodging.  Wandering along the banks of the
Tigris, they skirted a garden enclosed by a high wall.  The gate was
shut, but in front of it was an open vestibule with a sofa on either
side.  "Here," said Noureddin, "let us pass the night," and reclining
on the sofas they soon fell asleep.

Now this garden belonged to the Caliph.  In the middle of it was a vast
pavilion, whose superb saloon had eighty windows, each window having a
lustre, lit solely when the Caliph spent the evening there.  Only the
door-keeper lived there, an old soldier named Scheih Ibrahim, who had
strict orders to be very careful whom he admitted, and never to allow
any one to sit on the sofas by the door.  It happened that evening that
he had gone out on an errand.  When he came back and saw two persons
asleep on the sofas he was about to drive them out with blows, but
drawing nearer he perceived that they were a handsome young man and
beautiful young woman, and decided to awake them by gentler means.
Noureddin, on being awoke, told the old man that they were strangers,
and merely wished to pass the night there.  "Come with me," said Scheih
Ibrahim, "I will lodge you better, and will show you a magnificent
garden belonging to me." So saying the doorkeeper led the way into the
Caliph's garden, the beauties of which filled them with wonder and
amazement.  Noureddin took out two gold pieces, and giving them to
Scheih Ibrahim said,

"I beg you to get us something to eat that we may make merry together."
Being very avaricious, Scheih Ibrahim determined to spend only the
tenth part of the money and to keep the rest to himself.  While he was
gone Noureddin and the Persian wandered through the gardens and went up
the white marble staircase of the pavilion as far as the locked door of
the saloon.  On the return of Scheih Ibrahim they begged him to open
it, and to allow them to enter and admire the magnificence within.
Consenting, he brought not only the key, but a light, and immediately
unlocked the door.  Noureddin and the Persian entering, were dazzled
with the magnificence they beheld.  The paintings and furniture were of
astonishing beauty, and between each window was a silver arm holding a
candle.

Scheih Ibrahim spread the table in front of a sofa, and all three ate
together.  When they had finished eating Noureddin asked the old man to
bring them a bottle of wine.

"Heaven forbid," said Scheih Ibrahim, "that I should come in contact
with wine!  I who have four times made the pilgrimage to Mecca, and
have renounced wine for ever."

"You would, however, do us a great service in procuring us some," said
Noureddin.  "You need not touch it yourself.  Take the ass which is
tied to the gate, lead it to the nearest wine-shop, and ask some
passer-by to order two jars of wine; have them put in the ass's
panniers, and drive him before you.  Here are two pieces of gold for
the expenses."

At sight of the gold, Scheih Ibrahim set off at once to execute the
commission.  On his return, Noureddin said:  "We have still need of
cups to drink from, and of fruit, if you can procure us some." Scheih
Ibrahim disappeared again, and soon returned with a table spread with
cups of gold and silver, and every sort of beautiful fruit.  Then he
withdrew, in spite of repeated invitations to remain.

Noureddin and the beautiful Persian, finding the wine excellent, drank
of it freely, and while drinking they sang.  Both had fine voices, and
Scheih Ibrahim listened to them with great pleasure--first from a
distance, then he drew nearer, and finally put his head in at the door.
Noureddin, seeing him, called to him to come in and keep them company.
At first the old man declined, but was persuaded to enter the room, to
sit down on the edge of the sofa nearest the door, and at last to draw
closer and to seat himself by the beautiful Persian, who urged him so
persistently to drink her health that at length he yielded, and took
the cup she offered.

Now the old man only made a pretence of renouncing wine; he frequented
wine-shops like other people, and had taken none of the precautions
Noureddin had proposed.  Having once yielded, he was easily persuaded
to take a second cup, and a third, and so on till he no longer knew
what he was doing.  Till near midnight they continued drinking,
laughing, and singing together.

About that time the Persian, perceiving that the room was lit by only
one miserable tallow candle, asked Scheih Ibrahim to light some of the
beautiful candles in the silver arms.

"Light them yourself," answered the old man; "you are younger than I,
but let five or six be enough."

She did not stop, however, till she had lit all the eighty, but Scheih
Ibrahim was not conscious of this, and when, soon after that, Noureddin
proposed to have some of the lustres lit, he answered:

"You are more capable of lighting them than I, but not more than three."

Noureddin, far from contenting himself with three, lit all, and opened
all the eighty windows.

The Caliph Haroun-al-Raschid, chancing at that moment to open a window
in the saloon of his palace looking on the garden, was surprised to see
the pavilion brilliantly illuminated.  Calling the grand-vizir, Giafar,
he said to him:

"Negligent vizir, look at the pavilion, and tell me why it is lit up
when I am not there."

When the vizir saw that it was as the Caliph said, he trembled with
fear, and immediately invented an excuse.

"Commander of the Faithful," he said, "I must tell you that four or
five days ago Scheih Ibrahim told me that he wished to have an assembly
of the ministers of his mosque, and asked permission to hold it in the
pavilion.  I granted his request, but forgot since to mention it to
your Majesty."

"Giafar," replied the Caliph, "you have committed three faults--first,
in giving the permission; second, in not mentioning it to me; and
third, in not investigating the matter more closely.  For punishment I
condemn you to spend the rest of the night with me in company of these
worthy people.  While I dress myself as a citizen, go and disguise
yourself, and then come with me."

When they reached the garden gate they found it open, to the great
indignation of the Caliph.  The door of the pavilion being also open,
he went softly upstairs, and looked in at the half-closed door of the
saloon.  Great was his surprise to see Scheih Ibrahim, whose sobriety
he had never doubted, drinking and singing with a young man and a
beautiful lady.  The Caliph, before giving way to his anger, determined
to watch and see who the people were and what they did.

Presently Scheih Ibrahim asked the beautiful Persian if anything were
wanting to complete her enjoyment of the evening.

"If only," she said, "I had an instrument upon which I might play."

Scheih Ibrahim immediately took a lute from a cup-board and gave it to
the Persian, who began to play on it, singing the while with such skill
and taste that the Caliph was enchanted.  When she ceased he went
softly downstairs and said to the vizir:

"Never have I heard a finer voice, nor the lute better played.  I am
determined to go in and make her play to me."

"Commander of the Faithful," said the vizir, "if Scheih Ibrahim
recognises you he will die of fright."

"I should be sorry for that," answered the Caliph, "and I am going to
take steps to prevent it.  Wait here till I return."

Now the Caliph had caused a bend in the river to form a lake in his
garden.  There the finest fish in the Tigris were to be found, but
fishing was strictly forbidden.  It happened that night, however, that
a fisherman had taken advantage of the gate being open to go in and
cast his nets.  He was just about to draw them when he saw the Caliph
approaching.  Recognising him at once in spite of his disguise, he
threw himself at his feet imploring forgiveness.

"Fear nothing," said the Caliph, "only rise up and draw thy nets."

The fisherman did as he was told, and produced five or six fine fish,
of which the Caliph took the two largest.  Then he desired the
fisherman to change clothes with him, and in a few minutes the Caliph
was transformed into a fisherman, even to the shoes and the turban.
Taking the two fish in his hand, he returned to the vizir, who, not
recognising him, would have sent him about his business.  Leaving the
vizir at the foot of the stairs, the Caliph went up and knocked at the
door of the saloon.  Noureddin opened it, and the Caliph, standing on
the threshold, said:

"Scheih Ibrahim, I am the fisher Kerim.  Seeing that you are feasting
with your friends, I bring you these fish."

Noureddin and the Persian said that when the fishes were properly
cooked and dressed they would gladly eat of them.  The Caliph then
returned to the vizir, and they set to work in Scheih Ibrahim's house
to cook the fish, of which they made so tempting a dish that Noureddin
and the fair Persian ate of it with great relish.  When they had
finished Noureddin took thirty gold pieces (all that remained of what
Sangiar had given him) and presented them to the Caliph, who, thanking
him, asked as a further favour if the lady would play him one piece on
the lute.  The Persian gladly consented, and sang and played so as to
delight the Caliph.

Noureddin, in the habit of giving to others whatever they admired,
said, "Fisherman, as she pleases you so much, take her; she is yours."

The fair Persian, astounded that he should wish to part from her, took
her lute, and with tears in her eyes sang her reproaches to its music.

The Caliph (still in the character of fisherman) said to him, "Sir, I
perceive that this fair lady is your slave.  Oblige me, I beg you, by
relating your history."

Noureddin willingly granted this request, and recounted everything from
the purchase of the slave down to the present moment.

"And where do you go now?" asked the Caliph.

"Wherever the hand of Allah leads me," said Noureddin.

"Then, if you will listen to me," said the Caliph, "you will
immediately return to Balsora.  I will give you a letter to the king,
which will ensure you a good reception from him."

"It is an unheard-of thing," said Noureddin, "that a fisherman should
be in correspondence with a king."

"Let not that astonish you," answered the Caliph; "we studied together,
and have always remained the best of friends, though fortune, while
making him a king, left me a humble fisherman."

The Caliph then took a sheet of paper, and wrote the following letter,
at the top of which he put in very small characters this formula to
show that he must be implicitly obeyed:--"In the name of the Most
Merciful God.

"Letter of the Caliph Haroun-al-Raschid to the King of Balsora.

"Haroun-al-Raschid, son of Mahdi, sends this letter to Mohammed Zinebi,
his cousin.  As soon as Noureddin, son of the Vizir Khacan, bearer of
this letter, has given it to thee, and thou hast read it, take off thy
royal mantle, put it on his shoulders, and seat him in thy place
without fail.  Farewell."

The Caliph then gave this letter to Noureddin, who immediately set off,
with only what little money he possessed when Sangiar came to his
assistance.  The beautiful Persian, inconsolable at his departure, sank
on a sofa bathed in tears.

When Noureddin had left the room, Scheih Ibrahim, who had hitherto kept
silence, said:  "Kerim, for two miserable fish thou hast received a
purse and a slave.  I tell thee I will take the slave, and as to the
purse, if it contains silver thou mayst keep one piece, if gold then I
will take all and give thee what copper pieces I have in my purse."

Now here it must be related that when the Caliph went upstairs with the
plate of fish he ordered the vizir to hasten to the palace and bring
back four slaves bearing a change of raiment, who should wait outside
the pavilion till the Caliph should clap his hands.

Still personating the fisherman, the Caliph answered: "Scheih Ibrahim,
whatever is in the purse I will share equally with you, but as to the
slave I will keep her for myself.  If you do not agree to these
conditions you shall have nothing."

The old man, furious at this insolence as he considered it, took a cup
and threw it at the Caliph, who easily avoided a missile from the hand
of a drunken man.  It hit against the wall, and broke into a thousand
pieces.  Scheih Ibrahim, still more enraged, then went out to fetch a
stick.  The Caliph at that moment clapped his hands, and the vizir and
the four slaves entering took off the fisherman's dress and put on him
that which they had brought.

When Scheih Ibrahim returned, a thick stick in his hand, the Caliph was
seated on his throne, and nothing remained of the fisherman but his
clothes in the middle of the room.  Throwing himself on the ground at
the Caliph's feet, he said:  "Commander of the Faithful, your miserable
slave has offended you, and craves forgiveness."

The Caliph came down from his throne, and said:  "Rise, I forgive
thee." Then turning to the Persian he said:  "Fair lady, now you know
who I am; learn also that I have sent Noureddin to Balsora to be king,
and as soon as all necessary preparations are made I will send you
there to be queen.  Meanwhile I will give you an apartment in my
palace, where you will be treated with all honour."

At this the beautiful Persian took courage, and the Caliph was as good
as his word, recommending her to the care of his wife Zobeida.

Noureddin made all haste on his journey to Balsora, and on his arrival
there went straight to the palace of the king, of whom he demanded an
audience.  It was immediately granted, and holding the letter high
above his head he forced his way through the crowd.  While the king
read the letter he changed colour.  He would instantly have executed
the Caliph's order, but first he showed the letter to Saouy, whose
interests were equally at stake with his own.  Pretending that he
wished to read it a second time, Saouy turned aside as if to seek a
better light; unperceived by anyone he tore off the formula from the
top of the letter, put it to his mouth, and swallowed it.  Then,
turning to the king, he said:

"Your majesty has no need to obey this letter.  The writing is indeed
that of the Caliph, but the formula is absent.  Besides, he has not
sent an express with the patent, without which the letter is useless.
Leave all to me, and I will take the consequences."

The king not only listened to the persuasions of Saouy, but gave
Noureddin into his hands.  Such a severe bastinado was first
administered to him, that he was left more dead than alive; then Saouy
threw him into the darkest and deepest dungeon, and fed him only on
bread and water.  After ten days Saouy determined to put an end to
Noureddin's life, but dared not without the king's authority.  To gain
this end, he loaded several of his own slaves with rich gifts, and
presented himself at their head to the king, saying that they were from
the new king on his coronation.

"What!" said the king; "is that wretch still alive?  Go and behead him
at once.  I authorise you."

"Sire," said Saouy, "I thank your Majesty for the justice you do me.  I
would further beg, as Noureddin publicly affronted me, that the
execution might be in front of the palace, and that it might be
proclaimed throughout the city, so that no one may be ignorant of it."

The king granted these requests, and the announcement caused universal
grief, for the memory of Noureddin's father was still fresh in the
hearts of his people.  Saouy, accompanied by twenty of his own slaves,
went to the prison to fetch Noureddin, whom he mounted on a wretched
horse without a saddle.  Arrived at the palace, Saouy went in to the
king, leaving Noureddin in the square, hemmed in not only by Saouy's
slaves but by the royal guard, who had great difficulty in preventing
the people from rushing in and rescuing Noureddin.  So great was the
indignation against Saouy that if anyone had set the example he would
have been stoned on his way through the streets.  Saouy, who witnessed
the agitation of the people from the windows of the king's privy
chambers, called to the executioner to strike at once.  The king,
however, ordered him to delay; not only was he jealous of Saouy's
interference, but he had another reason.  A troop of horsemen was seen
at that moment riding at full gallop towards the square.  Saouy
suspected who they might be, and urged the king to give the signal for
the execution without delay, but this the king refused to do till he
knew who the horsemen were.

Now, they were the vizir Giafar and his suite arriving at full speed
from Bagdad.  For several days after Noureddin's departure with the
letter the Caliph had forgotten to send the express with the patent,
without which the letter was useless.  Hearing a beautiful voice one
day in the women's part of the palace uttering lamentations, he was
informed that it was the voice of the fair Persian, and suddenly
calling to mind the patent, he sent for Giafar, and ordered him to make
for Balsora with the utmost speed--if Noureddin were dead, to hang
Saouy; if he were still alive, to bring him at once to Bagdad along
with the king and Saouy.

Giafar rode at full speed through the square, and alighted at the steps
of the palace, where the king came to greet him.  The vizir's first
question was whether Noureddin were still alive.  The king replied that
he was, and he was immediately led forth, though bound hand and foot.
By the vizir's orders his bonds were immediately undone, and Saouy was
tied with the same cords.  Next day Giafar returned to Bagdad, bearing
with him the king, Saouy, and Noureddin.

When the Caliph heard what treatment Noureddin had received, he
authorised him to behead Saouy with his own hands, but he declined to
shed the blood of his enemy, who was forthwith handed over to the
executioner.  The Caliph also desired Noureddin to reign over Balsora,
but this, too, he declined, saying that after what had passed there he
preferred never to return, but to enter the service of the Caliph.  He
became one of his most intimate courtiers, and lived long in great
happiness with the fair Persian.  As to the king, the Caliph contented
himself with sending him back to Balsora, with the recommendation to be
more careful in future in the choice of his vizir.



Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp


There once lived a poor tailor, who had a son called Aladdin, a
careless, idle boy who would do nothing but play all day long in the
streets with little idle boys like himself.  This so grieved the father
that he died; yet, in spite of his mother's tears and prayers, Aladdin
did not mend his ways.  One day, when he was playing in the streets as
usual, a stranger asked him his age, and if he were not the son of
Mustapha the tailor.

"I am, sir," replied Aladdin; "but he died a long while ago."

On this the stranger, who was a famous African magician, fell on his
neck and kissed him, saying:  "I am your uncle, and knew you from your
likeness to my brother.  Go to your mother and tell her I am coming."

Aladdin ran home, and told his mother of his newly found uncle.

"Indeed, child," she said, "your father had a brother, but I always
thought he was dead."

However, she prepared supper, and bade Aladdin seek his uncle, who came
laden with wine and fruit.  He presently fell down and kissed the place
where Mustapha used to sit, bidding Aladdin's mother not to be
surprised at not having seen him before, as he had been forty years out
of the country.  He then turned to Aladdin, and asked him his trade, at
which the boy hung his head, while his mother burst into tears.  On
learning that Aladdin was idle and would learn no trade, he offered to
take a shop for him and stock it with merchandise.  Next day he bought
Aladdin a fine suit of clothes, and took him all over the city, showing
him the sights, and brought him home at nightfall to his mother, who
was overjoyed to see her son so fine.

Next day the magician led Aladdin into some beautiful gardens a long
way outside the city gates.  They sat down by a fountain, and the
magician pulled a cake from his girdle, which he divided between them.
They then journeyed onwards till they almost reached the mountains.
Aladdin was so tired that he begged to go back, but the magician
beguiled him with pleasant stories, and led him on in spite of himself.

At last they came to two mountains divided by a narrow valley.

"We will go no farther," said the false uncle.  "I will show you
something wonderful; only do you gather up sticks while I kindle a
fire."

When it was lit the magician threw on it a powder he had about him, at
the same time saying some magical words.  The earth trembled a little
and opened in front of them, disclosing a square flat stone with a
brass ring in the middle to raise it by.  Aladdin tried to run away,
but the magician caught him and gave him a blow that knocked him down.

"What have I done, uncle?" he said piteously; whereupon the magician
said more kindly:  "Fear nothing, but obey me.  Beneath this stone lies
a treasure which is to be yours, and no one else may touch it, so you
must do exactly as I tell you."

At the word treasure, Aladdin forgot his fears, and grasped the ring as
he was told, saying the names of his father and grandfather.  The stone
came up quite easily and some steps appeared.

"Go down," said the magician; "at the foot of those steps you will find
an open door leading into three large halls.  Tuck up your gown and go
through them without touching anything, or you will die instantly.
These halls lead into a garden of fine fruit trees.  Walk on till you
come to a niche in a terrace where stands a lighted lamp.  Pour out the
oil it contains and bring it to me."

He drew a ring from his finger and gave it to Aladdin, bidding him
prosper.

Aladdin found everything as the magician had said, gathered some fruit
off the trees, and, having got the lamp, arrived at the mouth of the
cave.  The magician cried out in a great hurry:

"Make haste and give me the lamp."  This Aladdin refused to do until he
was out of the cave.  The magician flew into a terrible passion, and
throwing some more powder on the fire, he said something, and the stone
rolled back into its place.

The magician left Persia for ever, which plainly showed that he was no
uncle of Aladdin's, but a cunning magician who had read in his magic
books of a wonderful lamp, which would make him the most powerful man
in the world.  Though he alone knew where to find it, he could only
receive it from the hand of another.  He had picked out the foolish
Aladdin for this purpose, intending to get the lamp and kill him
afterwards.

For two days Aladdin remained in the dark, crying and lamenting.  At
last he clasped his hands in prayer, and in so doing rubbed the ring,
which the magician had forgotten to take from him.  Immediately an
enormous and frightful genie rose out of the earth, saying:

"What wouldst thou with me?  I am the Slave of the Ring, and will obey
thee in all things."

Aladdin fearlessly replied:  "Deliver me from this place!" whereupon
the earth opened, and he found himself outside.  As soon as his eyes
could bear the light he went home, but fainted on the threshold.  When
he came to himself he told his mother what had passed, and showed her
the lamp and the fruits he had gathered in the garden, which were in
reality precious stones.  He then asked for some food.

"Alas! child," she said, "I have nothing in the house, but I have spun
a little cotton and will go and sell it."

Aladdin bade her keep her cotton, for he would sell the lamp instead.
As it was very dirty she began to rub it, that it might fetch a higher
price.  Instantly a hideous genie appeared, and asked what she would
have.  She fainted away, but Aladdin, snatching the lamp, said boldly:

"Fetch me something to eat!"

The genie returned with a silver bowl, twelve silver plates containing
rich meats, two silver cups, and two bottles of wine.  Aladdin's
mother, when she came to herself, said:

"Whence comes this splendid feast?"

"Ask not, but eat," replied Aladdin.

So they sat at breakfast till it was dinner-time, and Aladdin told his
mother about the lamp.  She begged him to sell it, and have nothing to
do with devils.

"No," said Aladdin, "since chance has made us aware of its virtues, we
will use it and the ring likewise, which I shall always wear on my
finger."  When they had eaten all the genie had brought, Aladdin sold
one of the silver plates, and so on till none were left.  He then had
recourse to the genie, who gave him another set of plates, and thus
they lived for many years.

One day Aladdin heard an order from the Sultan proclaimed that everyone
was to stay at home and close his shutters while the princess, his
daughter, went to and from the bath.  Aladdin was seized by a desire to
see her face, which was very difficult, as she always went veiled.  He
hid himself behind the door of the bath, and peeped through a chink.
The princess lifted her veil as she went in, and looked so beautiful
that Aladdin fell in love with her at first sight.  He went home so
changed that his mother was frightened.  He told her he loved the
princess so deeply that he could not live without her, and meant to ask
her in marriage of her father.  His mother, on hearing this, burst out
laughing, but Aladdin at last prevailed upon her to go before the
Sultan and carry his request.  She fetched a napkin and laid in it the
magic fruits from the enchanted garden, which sparkled and shone like
the most beautiful jewels.  She took these with her to please the
Sultan, and set out, trusting in the lamp.  The grand-vizir and the
lords of council had just gone in as she entered the hall and placed
herself in front of the Sultan.  He, however, took no notice of her.
She went every day for a week, and stood in the same place.

When the council broke up on the sixth day the Sultan said to his
vizir:  "I see a certain woman in the audience-chamber every day
carrying something in a napkin.  Call her next time, that I may find
out what she wants."

Next day, at a sign from the vizir, she went up to the foot of the
throne, and remained kneeling till the Sultan said to her: "Rise, good
woman, and tell me what you want."

She hesitated, so the Sultan sent away all but the vizir, and bade her
speak freely, promising to forgive her beforehand for anything she
might say.  She then told him of her son's violent love for the
princess.

"I prayed him to forget her," she said, "but in vain; he threatened to
do some desperate deed if I refused to go and ask your Majesty for the
hand of the princess.  Now I pray you to forgive not me alone, but my
son Aladdin."

The Sultan asked her kindly what she had in the napkin, whereupon she
unfolded the jewels and presented them.

He was thunderstruck, and turning to the vizir said:  "What sayest
thou?  Ought I not to bestow the princess on one who values her at such
a price?"

The vizir, who wanted her for his own son, begged the Sultan to
withhold her for three months, in the course of which he hoped his son
would contrive to make him a richer present.  The Sultan granted this,
and told Aladdin's mother that, though he consented to the marriage,
she must not appear before him again for three months.

Aladdin waited patiently for nearly three months, but after two had
elapsed his mother, going into the city to buy oil, found everyone
rejoicing, and asked what was going on.

"Do you not know," was the answer, "that the son of the grand-vizir is
to marry the Sultan's daughter to-night?"

Breathless, she ran and told Aladdin, who was overwhelmed at first, but
presently bethought him of the lamp.  He rubbed it, and the genie
appeared, saying:  "What is thy will?"

Aladdin replied:  "The Sultan, as thou knowest, has broken his promise
to me, and the vizir's son is to have the princess.  My command is that
to-night you bring hither the bride and bridegroom."

"Master, I obey," said the genie.

Aladdin then went to his chamber, where, sure enough at midnight the
genie transported the bed containing the vizir's son and the princess.

"Take this new-married man," he said, "and put him outside in the cold,
and return at daybreak."

Whereupon the genie took the vizir's son out of bed, leaving Aladdin
with the princess.

"Fear nothing," Aladdin said to her; "you are my wife, promised to me
by your unjust father, and no harm shall come to you."

The princess was too frightened to speak, and passed the most miserable
night of her life, while Aladdin lay down beside her and slept soundly.
At the appointed hour the genie fetched in the shivering bridegroom,
laid him in his place, and transported the bed back to the palace.

Presently the Sultan came to wish his daughter good-morning.  The
unhappy vizir's son jumped up and hid himself, while the princess would
not say a word, and was very sorrowful.

The Sultan sent her mother to her, who said:  "How comes it, child,
that you will not speak to your father?  What has happened?"

The princess sighed deeply, and at last told her mother how, during the
night, the bed had been carried into some strange house, and what had
passed there.  Her mother did not believe her in the least, but bade
her rise and consider it an idle dream.

The following night exactly the same thing happened, and next morning,
on the princess's refusing to speak, the Sultan threatened to cut off
her head.  She then confessed all, bidding him ask the vizir's son if
it were not so.  The Sultan told the vizir to ask his son, who owned
the truth, adding that, dearly as he loved the princess, he had rather
die than go through another such fearful night, and wished to be
separated from her.  His wish was granted, and there was an end of
feasting and rejoicing.

When the three months were over, Aladdin sent his mother to remind the
Sultan of his promise.  She stood in the same place as before, and the
Sultan, who had forgotten Aladdin, at once remembered him, and sent for
her.  On seeing her poverty the Sultan felt less inclined than ever to
keep his word, and asked the vizir's advice, who counselled him to set
so high a value on the princess that no man living could come up to it.

The Sultan then turned to Aladdin's mother, saying:  "Good woman, a
Sultan must remember his promises, and I will remember mine, but your
son must first send me forty basins of gold brimful of jewels, carried
by forty black slaves, led by as many white ones, splendidly dressed.
Tell him that I await his answer."  The mother of Aladdin bowed low and
went home, thinking all was lost.

She gave Aladdin the message, adding:  "He may wait long enough for
your answer!"

"Not so long, mother, as you think," her son replied "I would do a
great deal more than that for the princess."

He summoned the genie, and in a few moments the eighty slaves arrived,
and filled up the small house and garden.

Aladdin made them set out to the palace, two and two, followed by his
mother.  They were so richly dressed, with such splendid jewels in
their girdles, that everyone crowded to see them and the basins of gold
they carried on their heads.

They entered the palace, and, after kneeling before the Sultan, stood
in a half-circle round the throne with their arms crossed, while
Aladdin's mother presented them to the Sultan.

He hesitated no longer, but said:  "Good woman, return and tell your
son that I wait for him with open arms."

She lost no time in telling Aladdin, bidding him make haste.  But
Aladdin first called the genie.

"I want a scented bath," he said, "a richly embroidered habit, a horse
surpassing the Sultan's, and twenty slaves to attend me.  Besides this,
six slaves, beautifully dressed, to wait on my mother; and lastly, ten
thousand pieces of gold in ten purses."

No sooner said than done.  Aladdin mounted his horse and passed through
the streets, the slaves strewing gold as they went.  Those who had
played with him in his childhood knew him not, he had grown so handsome.

When the Sultan saw him he came down from his throne, embraced him, and
led him into a hall where a feast was spread, intending to marry him to
the princess that very day.

But Aladdin refused, saying, "I must build a palace fit for her," and
took his leave.

Once home he said to the genie:  "Build me a palace of the finest
marble, set with jasper, agate, and other precious stones.  In the
middle you shall build me a large hall with a dome, its four walls of
massy gold and silver, each side having six windows, whose lattices,
all except one, which is to be left unfinished, must be set with
diamonds and rubies.  There must be stables and horses and grooms and
slaves; go and see about it!"

The palace was finished by next day, and the genie carried him there
and showed him all his orders faithfully carried out, even to the
laying of a velvet carpet from Aladdin's palace to the Sultan's.
Aladdin's mother then dressed herself carefully, and walked to the
palace with her slaves, while he followed her on horseback.  The Sultan
sent musicians with trumpets and cymbals to meet them, so that the air
resounded with music and cheers.  She was taken to the princess, who
saluted her and treated her with great honour.  At night the princess
said good-bye to her father, and set out on the carpet for Aladdin's
palace, with his mother at her side, and followed by the hundred
slaves.  She was charmed at the sight of Aladdin, who ran to receive
her.

"Princess," he said, "blame your beauty for my boldness if I have
displeased you."

She told him that, having seen him, she willingly obeyed her father in
this matter.  After the wedding had taken place Aladdin led her into
the hall, where a feast was spread, and she supped with him, after
which they danced till midnight.

Next day Aladdin invited the Sultan to see the palace.  On entering the
hall with the four-and-twenty windows, with their rubies, diamonds, and
emeralds, he cried:

"It is a world's wonder!  There is only one thing that surprises me.
Was it by accident that one window was left unfinished?"

"No, sir, by design," returned Aladdin.  "I wished your Majesty to have
the glory of finishing this palace."

The Sultan was pleased, and sent for the best jewelers in the city.  He
showed them the unfinished window, and bade them fit it up like the
others.

"Sir," replied their spokesman, "we cannot find jewels enough."

The Sultan had his own fetched, which they soon used, but to no
purpose, for in a month's time the work was not half done.  Aladdin,
knowing that their task was vain, bade them undo their work and carry
the jewels back, and the genie finished the window at his command.  The
Sultan was surprised to receive his jewels again and visited Aladdin,
who showed him the window finished.  The Sultan embraced him, the
envious vizir meanwhile hinting that it was the work of enchantment.

Aladdin had won the hearts of the people by his gentle bearing.  He was
made captain of the Sultan's armies, and won several battles for him,
but remained modest and courteous as before, and lived thus in peace
and content for several years.

But far away in Africa the magician remembered Aladdin, and by his
magic arts discovered that Aladdin, instead of perishing miserably in
the cave, had escaped, and had married a princess, with whom he was
living in great honour and wealth.  He knew that the poor tailor's son
could only have accomplished this by means of the lamp, and travelled
night and day till he reached the capital of China, bent on Aladdin's
ruin.  As he passed through the town he heard people talking everywhere
about a marvellous palace.

"Forgive my ignorance," he asked, "what is this palace you speak of?"

"Have you not heard of Prince Aladdin's palace," was the reply, "the
greatest wonder of the world?  I will direct you if you have a mind to
see it."

The magician thanked him who spoke, and having seen the palace knew
that it had been raised by the genie of the lamp, and became half mad
with rage.  He determined to get hold of the lamp, and again plunge
Aladdin into the deepest poverty.

Unluckily, Aladdin had gone a-hunting for eight days, which gave the
magician plenty of time.  He bought a dozen copper lamps, put them into
a basket, and went to the palace, crying:  "New lamps for old!"
followed by a jeering crowd.

The princess, sitting in the hall of four-and-twenty windows, sent a
slave to find out what the noise was about, who came back laughing, so
that the princess scolded her.

"Madam," replied the slave, "who can help laughing to see an old fool
offering to exchange fine new lamps for old ones?"

Another slave, hearing this, said:  "There is an old one on the cornice
there which he can have."

Now this was the magic lamp, which Aladdin had left there, as he could
not take it out hunting with him.  The princess, not knowing its value,
laughingly bade the slave take it and make the exchange.

She went and said to the magician:  "Give me a new lamp for this."

He snatched it and bade the slave take her choice, amid the jeers of
the crowd.  Little he cared, but left off crying his lamps, and went
out of the city gates to a lonely place, where he remained till
nightfall, when he pulled out the lamp and rubbed it.  The genie
appeared, and at the magician's command carried him, together with the
palace and the princess in it, to a lonely place in Africa.

Next morning the Sultan looked out of the window towards Aladdin's
palace and rubbed his eyes, for it was gone.  He sent for the vizir,
and asked what had become of the palace.  The vizir looked out too, and
was lost in astonishment.  He again put it down to enchantment, and
this time the Sultan believed him, and sent thirty men on horseback to
fetch Aladdin in chains.  They met him riding home, bound him, and
forced him to go with them on foot.  The people, however, who loved
him, followed, armed, to see that he came to no harm.  He was carried
before the Sultan, who ordered the executioner to cut off his head.
The executioner made Aladdin kneel down, bandaged his eyes, and raised
his scimitar to strike.

At that instant the vizir, who saw that the crowd had forced their way
into the courtyard and were scaling the walls to rescue Aladdin, called
to the executioner to stay his hand.  The people, indeed, looked so
threatening that the Sultan gave way and ordered Aladdin to be unbound,
and pardoned him in the sight of the crowd.

Aladdin now begged to know what he had done.

"False wretch!" said the Sultan, "come hither," and showed him from the
window the place where his palace had stood.

Aladdin was so amazed that he could not say a word.

"Where is my palace and my daughter?" demanded the Sultan.  "For the
first I am not so deeply concerned, but my daughter I must have, and
you must find her or lose your head."

Aladdin begged for forty days in which to find her, promising if he
failed to return and suffer death at the Sultan's pleasure.  His prayer
was granted, and he went forth sadly from the Sultan's presence.  For
three days he wandered about like a madman, asking everyone what had
become of his palace, but they only laughed and pitied him.  He came to
the banks of a river, and knelt down to say his prayers before throwing
himself in.  In so doing he rubbed the magic ring he still wore.

The genie he had seen in the cave appeared, and asked his will.

"Save my life, genie," said Aladdin, "and bring my palace back."

"That is not in my power," said the genie; "I am only the slave of the
ring; you must ask the slave of the lamp."

"Even so," said Aladdin "but thou canst take me to the palace, and set
me down under my dear wife's window."  He at once found himself in
Africa, under the window of the princess, and fell asleep out of sheer
weariness.

He was awakened by the singing of the birds, and his heart was lighter.
He saw plainly that all his misfortunes were owing to the loss of the
lamp, and vainly wondered who had robbed him of it.

That morning the princess rose earlier than she had done since she had
been carried into Africa by the magician, whose company she was forced
to endure once a day.  She, however, treated him so harshly that he
dared not live there altogether.  As she was dressing, one of her women
looked out and saw Aladdin.  The princess ran and opened the window,
and at the noise she made Aladdin looked up.  She called to him to come
to her, and great was the joy of these lovers at seeing each other
again.

After he had kissed her Aladdin said:  "I beg of you, Princess, in
God's name, before we speak of anything else, for your own sake and
mine, tell me what has become of an old lamp I left on the cornice in
the hall of four-and-twenty windows, when I went a-hunting."

"Alas!" she said "I am the innocent cause of our sorrows," and told him
of the exchange of the lamp.

"Now I know," cried Aladdin, "that we have to thank the African
magician for this!  Where is the lamp?"

"He carries it about with him," said the princess, "I know, for he
pulled it out of his breast to show me.  He wishes me to break my faith
with you and marry him, saying that you were beheaded by my father's
command.  He is forever speaking ill of you, but I only reply by my
tears.  If I persist, I doubt not that he will use violence."

Aladdin comforted her, and left her for a while.  He changed clothes
with the first person he met in the town, and having bought a certain
powder returned to the princess, who let him in by a little side door.

"Put on your most beautiful dress," he said to her, "and receive the
magician with smiles, leading him to believe that you have forgotten
me.  Invite him to sup with you, and say you wish to taste the wine of
his country.  He will go for some, and while he is gone I will tell you
what to do."

She listened carefully to Aladdin, and when he left her arrayed herself
gaily for the first time since she left China.  She put on a girdle and
head-dress of diamonds, and seeing in a glass that she looked more
beautiful than ever, received the magician, saying to his great
amazement:  "I have made up my mind that Aladdin is dead, and that all
my tears will not bring him back to me, so I am resolved to mourn no
more, and have therefore invited you to sup with me; but I am tired of
the wines of China, and would fain taste those of Africa."

The magician flew to his cellar, and the princess put the powder
Aladdin had given her in her cup.  When he returned she asked him to
drink her health in the wine of Africa, handing him her cup in exchange
for his as a sign she was reconciled to him.

Before drinking the magician made her a speech in praise of her beauty,
but the princess cut him short saying:

"Let me drink first, and you shall say what you will afterwards." She
set her cup to her lips and kept it there, while the magician drained
his to the dregs and fell back lifeless.

The princess then opened the door to Aladdin, and flung her arms round
his neck, but Aladdin put her away, bidding her to leave him, as he had
more to do.  He then went to the dead magician, took the lamp out of
his vest, and bade the genie carry the palace and all in it back to
China.  This was done, and the princess in her chamber only felt two
little shocks, and little thought she was at home again.

The Sultan, who was sitting in his closet, mourning for his lost
daughter, happened to look up, and rubbed his eyes, for there stood the
palace as before!  He hastened thither, and Aladdin received him in the
hall of the four-and-twenty windows, with the princess at his side.
Aladdin told him what had happened, and showed him the dead body of the
magician, that he might believe.  A ten days' feast was proclaimed, and
it seemed as if Aladdin might now live the rest of his life in peace;
but it was not to be.

The African magician had a younger brother, who was, if possible, more
wicked and more cunning than himself.  He travelled to China to avenge
his brother's death, and went to visit a pious woman called Fatima,
thinking she might be of use to him.  He entered her cell and clapped a
dagger to her breast, telling her to rise and do his bidding on pain of
death.  He changed clothes with her, coloured his face like hers, put
on her veil and murdered her, that she might tell no tales.  Then he
went towards the palace of Aladdin, and all the people thinking he was
the holy woman, gathered round him, kissing his hands and begging his
blessing.  When he got to the palace there was such a noise going on
round him that the princess bade her slave look out of the window and
ask what was the matter.  The slave said it was the holy woman, curing
people by her touch of their ailments, whereupon the princess, who had
long desired to see Fatima, sent for her.  On coming to the princess
the magician offered up a prayer for her health and prosperity.  When
he had done the princess made him sit by her, and begged him to stay
with her always.  The false Fatima, who wished for nothing better,
consented, but kept his veil down for fear of discovery.  The princess
showed him the hall, and asked him what he thought of it.

"It is truly beautiful," said the false Fatima.  "In my mind it wants
but one thing."

"And what is that?" said the princess.

"If only a roc's egg," replied he, "were hung up from the middle of
this dome, it would be the wonder of the world."

After this the princess could think of nothing but a roc's egg, and
when Aladdin returned from hunting he found her in a very ill humour.
He begged to know what was amiss, and she told him that all her
pleasure in the hall was spoilt for the want of a roc's egg hanging
from the dome.

"It that is all," replied Aladdin, "you shall soon be happy."

He left her and rubbed the lamp, and when the genie appeared commanded
him to bring a roc's egg.  The genie gave such a loud and terrible
shriek that the hall shook.

"Wretch!" he cried, "is it not enough that I have done everything for
you, but you must command me to bring my master and hang him up in the
midst of this dome?  You and your wife and your palace deserve to be
burnt to ashes; but this request does not come from you, but from the
brother of the African magician whom you destroyed.  He is now in your
palace disguised as the holy woman--whom he murdered.  He it was who
put that wish into your wife's head.  Take care of yourself, for he
means to kill you."  So saying the genie disappeared.

Aladdin went back to the princess, saying his head ached, and
requesting that the holy Fatima should be fetched to lay her hands on
it.  But when the magician came near, Aladdin, seizing his dagger,
pierced him to the heart.

"What have you done?" cried the princess.  "You have killed the holy
woman!"

"Not so," replied Aladdin, "but a wicked magician," and told her of how
she had been deceived.

After this Aladdin and his wife lived in peace.  He succeeded the
Sultan when he died, and reigned for many years, leaving behind him a
long line of kings.



The Adventures of Haroun-al-Raschid, Caliph of Bagdad


The Caliph Haroun-al-Raschid sat in his palace, wondering if there was
anything left in the world that could possibly give him a few hours'
amusement, when Giafar the grand-vizir, his old and tried friend,
suddenly appeared before him.  Bowing low, he waited, as was his duty,
till his master spoke, but Haroun-al-Raschid merely turned his head and
looked at him, and sank back into his former weary posture.

Now Giafar had something of importance to say to the Caliph, and had no
intention of being put off by mere silence, so with another low bow in
front of the throne, he began to speak.

"Commander of the Faithful," said he, "I have taken on myself to remind
your Highness that you have undertaken secretly to observe for yourself
the manner in which justice is done and order is kept throughout the
city.  This is the day you have set apart to devote to this object, and
perhaps in fulfilling this duty you may find some distraction from the
melancholy to which, as I see to my sorrow, you are a prey."

"You are right," returned the Caliph, "I had forgotten all about it.
Go and change your coat, and I will change mine."

A few moments later they both re-entered the hall, disguised as foreign
merchants, and passed through a secret door, out into the open country.
Here they turned towards the Euphrates, and crossing the river in a
small boat, walked through that part of the town which lay along the
further bank, without seeing anything to call for their interference.
Much pleased with the peace and good order of the city, the Caliph and
his vizir made their way to a bridge, which led straight back to the
palace, and had already crossed it, when they were stopped by an old
and blind man, who begged for alms.

The Caliph gave him a piece of money, and was passing on, but the blind
man seized his hand, and held him fast.

"Charitable person," he said, "whoever you may be grant me yet another
prayer.  Strike me, I beg of you, one blow.  I have deserved it richly,
and even a more severe penalty."

The Caliph, much surprised at this request, replied gently: "My good
man, that which you ask is impossible.  Of what use would my alms be if
I treated you so ill?"  And as he spoke he tried to loosen the grasp of
the blind beggar.

"My lord," answered the man, "pardon my boldness and my persistence.
Take back your money, or give me the blow which I crave.  I have sworn
a solemn oath that I will receive nothing without receiving
chastisement, and if you knew all, you would feel that the punishment
is not a tenth part of what I deserve."

Moved by these words, and perhaps still more by the fact that he had
other business to attend to, the Caliph yielded, and struck him lightly
on the shoulder.  Then he continued his road, followed by the blessing
of the blind man.  When they were out of earshot, he said to the vizir,
"There must be something very odd to make that man act so--I should
like to find out what is the reason.  Go back to him; tell him who I
am, and order him to come without fail to the palace to-morrow, after
the hour of evening prayer."

So the grand-vizir went back to the bridge; gave the blind beggar first
a piece of money and then a blow, delivered the Caliph's message, and
rejoined his master.

They passed on towards the palace, but walking through a square, they
came upon a crowd watching a young and well-dressed man who was urging
a horse at full speed round the open space, using at the same time his
spurs and whip so unmercifully that the animal was all covered with
foam and blood.  The Caliph, astonished at this proceeding, inquired of
a passer-by what it all meant, but no one could tell him anything,
except that every day at the same hour the same thing took place.

Still wondering, he passed on, and for the moment had to content
himself with telling the vizir to command the horseman also to appear
before him at the same time as the blind man.

The next day, after evening prayer, the Caliph entered the hall, and
was followed by the vizir bringing with him the two men of whom we have
spoken, and a third, with whom we have nothing to do.  They all bowed
themselves low before the throne and then the Caliph bade them rise,
and ask the blind man his name.

"Baba-Abdalla, your Highness," said he.

"Baba-Abdalla," returned the Caliph, "your way of asking alms yesterday
seemed to me so strange, that I almost commanded you then and there to
cease from causing such a public scandal.  But I have sent for you to
inquire what was your motive in making such a curious vow.  When I know
the reason I shall be able to judge whether you can be permitted to
continue to practise it, for I cannot help thinking that it sets a very
bad example to others.  Tell me therefore the whole truth, and conceal
nothing."

These words troubled the heart of Baba-Abdalla, who prostrated himself
at the feet of the Caliph.  Then rising, he answered: "Commander of the
Faithful, I crave your pardon humbly, for my persistence in beseeching
your Highness to do an action which appears on the face of it to be
without any meaning.  No doubt, in the eyes of men, it has none; but I
look on it as a slight expiation for a fearful sin of which I have been
guilty, and if your Highness will deign to listen to my tale, you will
see that no punishment could atone for the crime."



The Story of the Blind Baba-Abdalla


I was born, Commander of the Faithful, in Bagdad, and was left an
orphan while I was yet a very young man, for my parents died within a
few days of each other.  I had inherited from them a small fortune,
which I worked hard night and day to increase, till at last I found
myself the owner of eighty camels.  These I hired out to travelling
merchants, whom I frequently accompanied on their various journeys, and
always returned with large profits.

One day I was coming back from Balsora, whither I had taken a supply of
goods, intended for India, and halted at noon in a lonely place, which
promised rich pasture for my camels.  I was resting in the shade under
a tree, when a dervish, going on foot towards Balsora, sat down by my
side, and I inquired whence he had come and to what place he was going.
We soon made friends, and after we had asked each other the usual
questions, we produced the food we had with us, and satisfied our
hunger.

While we were eating, the dervish happened to mention that in a spot
only a little way off from where we were sitting, there was hidden a
treasure so great that if my eighty camels were loaded till they could
carry no more, the hiding place would seem as full as if it had never
been touched.

At this news I became almost beside myself with joy and greed, and I
flung my arms round the neck of the dervish, exclaiming:  "Good
dervish, I see plainly that the riches of this world are nothing to
you, therefore of what use is the knowledge of this treasure to you?
Alone and on foot, you could carry away a mere handful.  But tell me
where it is, and I will load my eighty camels with it, and give you one
of them as a token of my gratitude."

Certainly my offer does not sound very magnificent, but it was great to
me, for at his words a wave of covetousness had swept over my heart,
and I almost felt as if the seventy-nine camels that were left were
nothing in comparison.

The dervish saw quite well what was passing in my mind, but he did not
show what he thought of my proposal.

"My brother," he answered quietly, "you know as well as I do, that you
are behaving unjustly.  It was open to me to keep my secret, and to
reserve the treasure for myself.  But the fact that I have told you of
its existence shows that I had confidence in you, and that I hoped to
earn your gratitude for ever, by making your fortune as well as mine.
But before I reveal to you the secret of the treasure, you must swear
that, after we have loaded the camels with as much as they can carry,
you will give half to me, and let us go our own ways.  I think you will
see that this is fair, for if you present me with forty camels, I on my
side will give you the means of buying a thousand more."

I could not of course deny that what the dervish said was perfectly
reasonable, but, in spite of that, the thought that the dervish would
be as rich as I was unbearable to me.  Still there was no use in
discussing the matter, and I had to accept his conditions or bewail to
the end of my life the loss of immense wealth.  So I collected my
camels and we set out together under the guidance of the dervish.
After walking some time, we reached what looked like a valley, but with
such a narrow entrance that my camels could only pass one by one.  The
little valley, or open space, was shut up by two mountains, whose sides
were formed of straight cliffs, which no human being could climb.

When we were exactly between these mountains the dervish stopped.

"Make your camels lie down in this open space," he said, "so that we
can easily load them; then we will go to the treasure."

I did what I was bid, and rejoined the dervish, whom I found trying to
kindle a fire out of some dry wood.  As soon as it was alight, he threw
on it a handful of perfumes, and pronounced a few words that I did not
understand, and immediately a thick column of smoke rose high into the
air.  He separated the smoke into two columns, and then I saw a rock,
which stood like a pillar between the two mountains, slowly open, and a
splendid palace appear within.

But, Commander of the Faithful, the love of gold had taken such
possession of my heart, that I could not even stop to examine the
riches, but fell upon the first pile of gold within my reach and began
to heap it into a sack that I had brought with me.

The dervish likewise set to work, but I soon noticed that he confined
himself to collecting precious stones, and I felt I should be wise to
follow his example.  At length the camels were loaded with as much as
they could carry, and nothing remained but to seal up the treasure, and
go our ways.

Before, however, this was done, the dervish went up to a great golden
vase, beautifully chased, and took from it a small wooden box, which he
hid in the bosom of his dress, merely saying that it contained a
special kind of ointment.  Then he once more kindled the fire, threw on
the perfume, and murmured the unknown spell, and the rock closed, and
stood whole as before.

The next thing was to divide the camels, and to charge them with the
treasure, after which we each took command of our own and marched out
of the valley, till we reached the place in the high road where the
routes diverge, and then we parted, the dervish going towards Balsora,
and I to Bagdad.  We embraced each other tenderly, and I poured out my
gratitude for the honour he had done me, in singling me out for this
great wealth, and having said a hearty farewell we turned our backs,
and hastened after our camels.

I had hardly come up with mine when the demon of envy filled my soul.
"What does a dervish want with riches like that?"  I said to myself.
"He alone has the secret of the treasure, and can always get as much as
he wants," and I halted my camels by the roadside, and ran back after
him.

I was a quick runner, and it did not take me very long to come up with
him.  "My brother," I exclaimed, as soon as I could speak, "almost at
the moment of our leave-taking, a reflection occurred to me, which is
perhaps new to you.  You are a dervish by profession, and live a very
quiet life, only caring to do good, and careless of the things of this
world.  You do not realise the burden that you lay upon yourself, when
you gather into your hands such great wealth, besides the fact that no
one, who is not accustomed to camels from his birth, can ever manage
the stubborn beasts.  If you are wise, you will not encumber yourself
with more than thirty, and you will find those trouble enough."

"You are right," replied the dervish, who understood me quite well, but
did not wish to fight the matter.  "I confess I had not thought about
it.  Choose any ten you like, and drive them before you."

I selected ten of the best camels, and we proceeded along the road, to
rejoin those I had left behind.  I had got what I wanted, but I had
found the dervish so easy to deal with, that I rather regretted I had
not asked for ten more.  I looked back.  He had only gone a few paces,
and I called after him.

"My brother," I said, "I am unwilling to part from you without pointing
out what I think you scarcely grasp, that large experience of
camel-driving is necessary to anybody who intends to keep together a
troop of thirty.  In your own interest, I feel sure you would be much
happier if you entrusted ten more of them to me, for with my practice
it is all one to me if I take two or a hundred."

As before, the dervish made no difficulties, and I drove off my ten
camels in triumph, only leaving him with twenty for his share.  I had
now sixty, and anyone might have imagined that I should be content.

But, Commander of the Faithful, there is a proverb that says, "the more
one has, the more one wants."  So it was with me.  I could not rest as
long as one solitary camel remained to the dervish; and returning to
him I redoubled my prayers and embraces, and promises of eternal
gratitude, till the last twenty were in my hands.

"Make a good use of them, my brother," said the holy man.  "Remember
riches sometimes have wings if we keep them for ourselves, and the poor
are at our gates expressly that we may help them."

My eyes were so blinded by gold, that I paid no heed to his wise
counsel, and only looked about for something else to grasp.  Suddenly I
remembered the little box of ointment that the dervish had hidden, and
which most likely contained a treasure more precious than all the rest.
Giving him one last embrace, I observed accidentally, "What are you
going to do with that little box of ointment?  It seems hardly worth
taking with you; you might as well let me have it.  And really, a
dervish who has given up the world has no need of ointment!"

Oh, if he had only refused my request!  But then, supposing he had, I
should have got possession of it by force, so great was the madness
that had laid hold upon me.  However, far from refusing it, the dervish
at once held it out, saying gracefully, "Take it, my friend, and if
there is anything else I can do to make you happy you must let me know."

Directly the box was in my hands I wrenched off the cover.  "As you are
so kind," I said, "tell me, I pray you, what are the virtues of this
ointment?"

"They are most curious and interesting," replied the dervish.  "If you
apply a little of it to your left eye you will behold in an instant all
the treasures hidden in the bowels of the earth.  But beware lest you
touch your right eye with it, or your sight will be destroyed for ever."

His words excited my curiosity to the highest pitch.  "Make trial on
me, I implore you," I cried, holding out the box to the dervish.  "You
will know how to do it better than I!  I am burning with impatience to
test its charms."

The dervish took the box I had extended to him, and, bidding me shut my
left eye, touched it gently with the ointment.  When I opened it again
I saw spread out, as it were before me, treasures of every kind and
without number.  But as all this time I had been obliged to keep my
right eye closed, which was very fatiguing, I begged the dervish to
apply the ointment to that eye also.

"If you insist upon it I will do it," answered the dervish, "but you
must remember what I told you just now--that if it touches your right
eye you will become blind on the spot."

Unluckily, in spite of my having proved the truth of the dervish's
words in so many instances, I was firmly convinced that he was now
keeping concealed from me some hidden and precious virtue of the
ointment.  So I turned a deaf ear to all he said.

"My brother," I replied smiling, "I see you are joking.  It is not
natural that the same ointment should have two such exactly opposite
effects."

"It is true all the same," answered the dervish, "and it would be well
for you if you believed my word."

But I would not believe, and, dazzled by the greed of avarice, I
thought that if one eye could show me riches, the other might teach me
how to get possession of them.  And I continued to press the dervish to
anoint my right eye, but this he resolutely declined to do.

"After having conferred such benefits on you," said he, "I am loth
indeed to work you such evil.  Think what it is to be blind, and do not
force me to do what you will repent as long as you live."

It was of no use.  "My brother," I said firmly, "pray say no more, but
do what I ask.  You have most generously responded to my wishes up to
this time, do not spoil my recollection of you for a thing of such
little consequence.  Let what will happen I take it on my own head, and
will never reproach you."

"Since you are determined upon it," he answered with a sigh, "there is
no use talking," and taking the ointment he laid some on my right eye,
which was tight shut.  When I tried to open it heavy clouds of darkness
floated before me.  I was as blind as you see me now!

"Miserable dervish!"  I shrieked, "so it is true after all!  Into what
a bottomless pit has my lust after gold plunged me.  Ah, now that my
eyes are closed they are really opened.  I know that all my sufferings
are caused by myself alone!  But, good brother, you, who are so kind
and charitable, and know the secrets of such vast learning, have you
nothing that will give me back my sight?"

"Unhappy man," replied the dervish, "it is not my fault that this has
befallen you, but it is a just chastisement.  The blindness of your
heart has wrought the blindness of your body.  Yes, I have secrets;
that you have seen in the short time that we have known each other.
But I have none that will give you back your sight.  You have proved
yourself unworthy of the riches that were given you.  Now they have
passed into my hands, whence they will flow into the hands of others
less greedy and ungrateful than you."

The dervish said no more and left me, speechless with shame and
confusion, and so wretched that I stood rooted to the spot, while he
collected the eighty camels and proceeded on his way to Balsora.  It
was in vain that I entreated him not to leave me, but at least to take
me within reach of the first passing caravan.  He was deaf to my
prayers and cries, and I should soon have been dead of hunger and
misery if some merchants had not come along the track the following day
and kindly brought me back to Bagdad.

From a rich man I had in one moment become a beggar; and up to this
time I have lived solely on the alms that have been bestowed on me.
But, in order to expiate the sin of avarice, which was my undoing, I
oblige each passer-by to give me a blow.

This, Commander of the Faithful, is my story.

When the blind man had ended the Caliph addressed him: "Baba-Abdalla,
truly your sin is great, but you have suffered enough.  Henceforth
repent in private, for I will see that enough money is given you day by
day for all your wants."

At these words Baba-Abdalla flung himself at the Caliph's feet, and
prayed that honour and happiness might be his portion for ever.



The Story of Sidi-Nouman


The Caliph, Haroun-al-Raschid, was much pleased with the tale of the
blind man and the dervish, and when it was finished he turned to the
young man who had ill-treated his horse, and inquired his name also.
The young man replied that he was called Sidi-Nouman.

"Sidi-Nouman," observed the Caliph, "I have seen horses broken all my
life long, and have even broken them myself, but I have never seen any
horse broken in such a barbarous manner as by you yesterday.  Every one
who looked on was indignant, and blamed you loudly.  As for myself, I
was so angry that I was very nearly disclosing who I was, and putting a
stop to it at once.  Still, you have not the air of a cruel man, and I
would gladly believe that you did not act in this way without some
reason.  As I am told that it was not the first time, and indeed that
every day you are to be seen flogging and spurring your horse, I wish
to come to the bottom of the matter.  But tell me the whole truth, and
conceal nothing."

Sidi-Nouman changed colour as he heard these words, and his manner grew
confused; but he saw plainly that there was no help for it.  So he
prostrated himself before the throne of the Caliph and tried to obey,
but the words stuck in his throat, and he remained silent.

The Caliph, accustomed though he was to instant obedience, guessed
something of what was passing in the young man's mind, and sought to
put him at his ease.  "Sidi-Nouman," he said, "do not think of me as
the Caliph, but merely as a friend who would like to hear your story.
If there is anything in it that you are afraid may offend me, take
courage, for I pardon you beforehand.  Speak then openly and without
fear, as to one who knows and loves you."

Reassured by the kindness of the Caliph, Sidi-Nouman at length began
his tale.

"Commander of the Faithful," said he, "dazzled though I am by the
lustre of your Highness' presence, I will do my best to satisfy your
wishes.  I am by no means perfect, but I am not naturally cruel,
neither do I take pleasure in breaking the law.  I admit that the
treatment of my horse is calculated to give your Highness a bad opinion
of me, and to set an evil example to others; yet I have not chastised
it without reason, and I have hopes that I shall be judged more worthy
of pity than punishment."

Commander of the Faithful, I will not trouble to describe my birth; it
is not of sufficient distinction to deserve your Highness' attention.
My ancestors were careful people, and I inherited enough money to
enable me to live comfortably, though without show.

Having therefore a modest fortune, the only thing wanting to my
happiness was a wife who could return my affection, but this blessing I
was not destined to get; for on the very day after my marriage, my
bride began to try my patience in every way that was most hard to bear.

Now, seeing that the customs of our land oblige us to marry without
ever beholding the person with whom we are to pass our lives, a man has
of course no right to complain as long as his wife is not absolutely
repulsive, or is not positively deformed.  And whatever defects her
body may have, pleasant ways and good behaviour will go far to remedy
them.

The first time I saw my wife unveiled, when she had been brought to my
house with the usual ceremonies, I was enchanted to find that I had not
been deceived in regard to the account that had been given me of her
beauty.  I began my married life in high spirits, and the best hopes of
happiness.

The following day a grand dinner was served to us but as my wife did
not appear, I ordered a servant to call her.  Still she did not come,
and I waited impatiently for some time.  At last she entered the room,
and she took our places at the table, and plates of rice were set
before us.

I ate mine, as was natural, with a spoon, but great was my surprise to
notice that my wife, instead of doing the same, drew from her pocket a
little case, from which she selected a long pin, and by the help of
this pin conveyed her rice grain by grain to her mouth.

"Amina," I exclaimed in astonishment, "is that the way you eat rice at
home?  And did you do it because your appetite was so small, or did you
wish to count the grains so that you might never eat more than a
certain number?  If it was from economy, and you are anxious to teach
me not to be wasteful, you have no cause for alarm.  We shall never
ruin ourselves in that way!  Our fortune is large enough for all our
needs, therefore, dear Amina, do not seek to check yourself, but eat as
much as you desire, as I do!"

In reply to my affectionate words, I expected a cheerful answer; yet
Amina said nothing at all, but continued to pick her rice as before,
only at longer and longer intervals.  And, instead of trying the other
dishes, all she did was to put every now and then a crumb, of bread
into her mouth, that would not have made a meal for a sparrow.

I felt provoked by her obstinacy, but to excuse her to myself as far as
I could, I suggested that perhaps she had never been used to eat in the
company of men, and that her family might have taught her that she
ought to behave prudently and discreetly in the presence of her
husband.  Likewise that she might either have dined already or intend
to do so in her own apartments.  So I took no further notice, and when
I had finished left the room, secretly much vexed at her strange
conduct.

The same thing occurred at supper, and all through the next day,
whenever we ate together.  It was quite clear that no woman could live
upon two or three bread-crumbs and a few grains of rice, and I
determined to find out how and when she got food.  I pretended not to
pay attention to anything she did, in the hope that little by little
she would get accustomed to me, and become more friendly; but I soon
saw that my expectations were quite vain.

One night I was lying with my eyes closed, and to, all appearance sound
asleep, when Amina arose softly, and dressed herself without making the
slightest sound.  I could not imagine what she was going to do, and as
my curiosity was great I made up my mind to follow her.  When she was
fully dressed, she stole quietly from the room.

The instant she had let the curtain fall behind her, I flung a garment
on my shoulders and a pair of slippers on my feet.  Looking from a
lattice which opened into the court, I saw her in the act of passing
through the street door, which she carefully left open.

It was bright moonlight, so I easily managed to keep her in sight, till
she entered a cemetery not far from the house.  There I hid myself
under the shadow of the wall, and crouched down cautiously; and hardly
was I concealed, when I saw my wife approaching in company with a
ghoul--one of those demons which, as your Highness is aware, wander
about the country making their lairs in deserted buildings and
springing out upon unwary travellers whose flesh they eat.  If no live
being goes their way, they then betake themselves to the cemeteries,
and feed upon the dead bodies.

I was nearly struck dumb with horror on seeing my wife with this
hideous female ghoul.  They passed by me without noticing me, began to
dig up a corpse which had been buried that day, and then sat down on
the edge of the grave, to enjoy their frightful repast, talking quietly
and cheerfully all the while, though I was too far off to hear what
they said.  When they had finished, they threw back the body into the
grave, and heaped back the earth upon it.  I made no effort to disturb
them, and returned quickly to the house, when I took care to leave the
door open, as I had previously found it.  Then I got back into bed, and
pretended to sleep soundly.

A short time after Amina entered as quietly as she had gone out.  She
undressed and stole into bed, congratulating herself apparently on the
cleverness with which she had managed her expedition.

As may be guessed, after such a scene it was long before I could close
my eyes, and at the first sound which called the faithful to prayer, I
put on my clothes and went to the mosque.  But even prayer did not
restore peace to my troubled spirit, and I could not face my wife until
I had made up my mind what future course I should pursue in regard to
her.  I therefore spent the morning roaming about from one garden to
another, turning over various plans for compelling my wife to give up
her horrible ways; I thought of using violence to make her submit, but
felt reluctant to be unkind to her.  Besides, I had an instinct that
gentle means had the best chance of success; so, a little soothed, I
turned towards home, which I reached about the hour of dinner.

As soon as I appeared, Amina ordered dinner to be served, and we sat
down together.  As usual, she persisted in only picking a few grains of
rice, and I resolved to speak to her at once of what lay so heavily on
my heart.

"Amina," I said, as quietly as possible, "you must have guessed the
surprise I felt, when the day after our marriage you declined to eat
anything but a few morsels of rice, and altogether behaved in such a
manner that most husbands would have been deeply wounded.  However I
had patience with you, and only tried to tempt your appetite by the
choicest dishes I could invent, but all to no purpose.  Still, Amina,
it seems to me that there be some among them as sweet to the taste as
the flesh of a corpse?"

I had no sooner uttered these words than Amina, who instantly
understood that I had followed her to the grave-yard, was seized with a
passion beyond any that I have ever witnessed.  Her face became purple,
her eyes looked as if they would start from her head, and she
positively foamed with rage.

I watched her with terror, wondering what would happen next, but little
thinking what would be the end of her fury.  She seized a vessel of
water that stood at hand, and plunging her hand in it, murmured some
words I failed to catch.  Then, sprinkling it on my face, she cried
madly:

"Wretch, receive the reward of your prying, and become a dog."

The words were not out of her mouth when, without feeling conscious
that any change was passing over me, I suddenly knew that I had ceased
to be a man.  In the greatness of the shock and surprise--for I had no
idea that Amina was a magician--I never dreamed of running away, and
stood rooted to the spot, while Amina grasped a stick and began to beat
me.  Indeed her blows were so heavy, that I only wonder they did not
kill me at once.  However they succeeded in rousing me from my stupor,
and I dashed into the court-yard, followed closely by Amina, who made
frantic dives at me, which I was not quick enough to dodge.  At last
she got tired of pursuing me, or else a new trick entered into her
head, which would give me speedy and painful death; she opened the gate
leading into the street, intending to crush me as I passed through.
Dog though I was, I saw through her design, and stung into presence of
mind by the greatness of the danger, I timed my movements so well that
I contrived to rush through, and only the tip of my tail received a
squeeze as she banged the gate.

I was safe, but my tail hurt me horribly, and I yelped and howled so
loud all along the streets, that the other dogs came and attacked me,
which made matters no better.  In order to avoid them, I took refuge in
a cookshop, where tongues and sheep's heads were sold.

At first the owner showed me great kindness, and drove away the other
dogs that were still at my heels, while I crept into the darkest
corner.  But though I was safe for the moment, I was not destined to
remain long under his protection, for he was one of those who hold all
dogs to be unclean, and that all the washing in the world will hardly
purify you from their contact.  So after my enemies had gone to seek
other prey, he tried to lure me from my corner in order to force me
into the street.  But I refused to come out of my hole, and spent the
night in sleep, which I sorely needed, after the pain inflicted on me
by Amina.

I have no wish to weary your Highness by dwelling on the sad thoughts
which accompanied my change of shape, but it may interest you to hear
that the next morning my host went out early to do his marketing, and
returned laden with the sheep's heads, and tongues and trotters that
formed his stock in trade for the day.  The smell of meat attracted
various hungry dogs in the neighbourhood, and they gathered round the
door begging for some bits.  I stole out of my corner, and stood with
them.

In spite of his objection to dogs, as unclean animals, my protector was
a kind-hearted man, and knowing I had eaten nothing since yesterday, he
threw me bigger and better bits than those which fell to the share of
the other dogs.  When I had finished, I tried to go back into the shop,
but this he would not allow, and stood so firmly at the entrance with a
stout stick, that I was forced to give it up, and seek some other home.

A few paces further on was a baker's shop, which seemed to have a gay
and merry man for a master.  At that moment he was having his
breakfast, and though I gave no signs of hunger, he at once threw me a
piece of bread.  Before gobbling it up, as most dogs are in the habit
of doing, I bowed my head and wagged my tail, in token of thanks, and
he understood, and smiled pleasantly.  I really did not want the bread
at all, but felt it would be ungracious to refuse, so I ate it slowly,
in order that he might see that I only did it out of politeness.  He
understood this also, and seemed quite willing to let me stay in his
shop, so I sat down, with my face to the door, to show that I only
asked his protection.  This he gave me, and indeed encouraged me to
come into the house itself, giving me a corner where I might sleep,
without being in anybody's way.

The kindness heaped on me by this excellent man was far greater than I
could ever have expected.  He was always affectionate in his manner of
treating me, and I shared his breakfast, dinner and supper, while, on
my side, I gave him all the gratitude and attachment to which he had a
right.

I sat with my eyes fixed on him, and he never left the house without
having me at his heels; and if it ever happened that when he was
preparing to go out I was asleep, and did not notice, he would call
"Rufus, Rufus," for that was the name he gave me.

Some weeks passed in this way, when one day a woman came in to buy
bread.  In paying for it, she laid down several pieces of money, one of
which was bad.  The baker perceived this, and declined to take it,
demanding another in its place.  The woman, for her part, refused to
take it back, declaring it was perfectly good, but the baker would have
nothing to do with it.  "It is really such a bad imitation," he
exclaimed at last, "that even my dog would not be taken in.  Here
Rufus!  Rufus!" and hearing his voice, I jumped on to the counter.  The
baker threw down the money before me, and said, "Find out if there is a
bad coin."  I looked at each in turn, and then laid my paw on the false
one, glancing at the same time at my master, so as to point it out.

The baker, who had of course been only in joke, was exceedingly
surprised at my cleverness, and the woman, who was at last convinced
that the man spoke the truth, produced another piece of money in its
place.  When she had gone, my master was so pleased that he told all
the neighbours what I had done, and made a great deal more of it than
there really was.

The neighbours, very naturally, declined to believe his story, and
tried me several times with all the bad money they could collect
together, but I never failed to stand the test triumphantly.

Soon, the shop was filled from morning till night, with people who on
the pretence of buying bread came to see if I was as clever as I was
reported to be.  The baker drove a roaring trade, and admitted that I
was worth my weight in gold to him.

Of course there were plenty who envied him his large custom, and many
was the pitfall set for me, so that he never dared to let me out of his
sight.  One day a woman, who had not been in the shop before, came to
ask for bread, like the rest.  As usual, I was lying on the counter,
and she threw down six coins before me, one of which was false.  I
detected it at once, and put my paw on it, looking as I did so at the
woman.  "Yes," she said, nodding her head.  "You are quite right, that
is the one."  She stood gazing at me attentively for some time, then
paid for the bread, and left the shop, making a sign for me to follow
her secretly.

Now my thoughts were always running on some means of shaking off the
spell laid on me, and noticing the way in which this woman had looked
at me, the idea entered my head that perhaps she might have guessed
what had happened, and in this I was not deceived.  However I let her
go on a little way, and merely stood at the door watching her.  She
turned, and seeing that I was quite still, she again beckoned to me.

The baker all this while was busy with his oven, and had forgotten all
about me, so I stole out softly, and ran after the woman.

When we came to her house, which was some distance off, she opened the
door and then said to me, "Come in, come in; you will never be sorry
that you followed me."  When I had entered she fastened the door, and
took me into a large room, where a beautiful girl was working at a
piece of embroidery.  "My daughter," exclaimed my guide, "I have
brought you the famous dog belonging to the baker which can tell good
money from bad.  You know that when I first heard of him, I told you I
was sure he must be really a man, changed into a dog by magic.  To-day
I went to the baker's, to prove for myself the truth of the story, and
persuaded the dog to follow me here.  Now what do you say?"

"You are right, mother," replied the girl, and rising she dipped her
hand into a vessel of water.  Then sprinkling it over me she said, "If
you were born dog, remain dog; but if you were born man, by virtue of
this water resume your proper form."  In one moment the spell was
broken.  The dog's shape vanished as if it had never been, and it was a
man who stood before her.

Overcome with gratitude at my deliverance, I flung myself at her feet,
and kissed the hem of her garment.  "How can I thank you for your
goodness towards a stranger, and for what you have done?  Henceforth I
am your slave.  Deal with me as you will!"

Then, in order to explain how I came to be changed into a dog, I told
her my whole story, and finished with rendering the mother the thanks
due to her for the happiness she had brought me.

"Sidi-Nouman," returned the daughter, "say no more about the obligation
you are under to us.  The knowledge that we have been of service to you
is ample payment.  Let us speak of Amina, your wife, with whom I was
acquainted before her marriage.  I was aware that she was a magician,
and she knew too that I had studied the same art, under the same
mistress.  We met often going to the same baths, but we did not like
each other, and never sought to become friends.  As to what concerns
you, it is not enough to have broken your spell, she must be punished
for her wickedness.  Remain for a moment with my mother, I beg," she
added hastily, "I will return shortly."

Left alone with the mother, I again expressed the gratitude I felt, to
her as well as to her daughter.

"My daughter," she answered, "is, as you see, as accomplished a
magician as Amina herself, but you would be astonished at the amount of
good she does by her knowledge.  That is why I have never interfered,
otherwise I should have put a stop to it long ago."  As she spoke, her
daughter entered with a small bottle in her hand.

"Sidi-Nouman," she said, "the books I have just consulted tell me that
Amina is not home at present, but she should return at any moment.  I
have likewise found out by their means, that she pretends before the
servants great uneasiness as to your absence.  She has circulated a
story that, while at dinner with her, you remembered some important
business that had to be done at once, and left the house without
shutting the door.  By this means a dog had strayed in, which she was
forced to get rid of by a stick.  Go home then without delay, and await
Amina's return in your room.  When she comes in, go down to meet her,
and in her surprise, she will try to run away.  Then have this bottle
ready, and dash the water it contains over her, saying boldly, "Receive
the reward of your crimes." That is all I have to tell you."

Everything happened exactly as the young magician had foretold.  I had
not been in my house many minutes before Amina returned, and as she
approached I stepped in front of her, with the water in my hand.  She
gave one loud cry, and turned to the door, but she was too late.  I had
already dashed the water in her face and spoken the magic words.  Amina
disappeared, and in her place stood the horse you saw me beating
yesterday.

This, Commander of the Faithful, is my story, and may I venture to hope
that, now you have heard the reason of my conduct, your Highness will
not think this wicked woman too harshly treated?

"Sidi-Nouman," replied the Caliph, "your story is indeed a strange one,
and there is no excuse to be offered for your wife.  But, without
condemning your treatment of her, I wish you to reflect how much she
must suffer from being changed into an animal, and I hope you will let
that punishment be enough.  I do not order you to insist upon the young
magician finding the means to restore your wife to her human shape,
because I know that when once women such as she begin to work evil they
never leave off, and I should only bring down on your head a vengeance
far worse than the one you have undergone already."



The Story of Ali Colia, Merchant of Bagdad


In the reign of Haroun-al-Raschid, there lived in Bagdad a merchant
named Ali Cogia, who, having neither wife nor child, contented himself
with the modest profits produced by his trade.  He had spent some years
quite happily in the house his father had left him, when three nights
running he dreamed that an old man had appeared to him, and reproached
him for having neglected the duty of a good Mussulman, in delaying so
long his pilgrimage to Mecca.

Ali Cogia was much troubled by this dream, as he was unwilling to give
up his shop, and lose all his customers.  He had shut his eyes for some
time to the necessity of performing this pilgrimage, and tried to atone
to his conscience by an extra number of good works, but the dream
seemed to him a direct warning, and he resolved to put the journey off
no longer.

The first thing he did was to sell his furniture and the wares he had
in his shop, only reserving to himself such goods as he might trade
with on the road.  The shop itself he sold also, and easily found a
tenant for his private house.  The only matter he could not settle
satisfactorily was the safe custody of a thousand pieces of gold which
he wished to leave behind him.

After some thought, Ali Cogia hit upon a plan which seemed a safe one.
He took a large vase, and placing the money in the bottom of it, filled
up the rest with olives.  After corking the vase tightly down, he
carried it to one of his friends, a merchant like himself, and said to
him:

"My brother, you have probably heard that I am staffing with a caravan
in a few days for Mecca.  I have come to ask whether you would do me
the favour to keep this vase of olives for me till I come back?"

The merchant replied readily, "Look, this is the key of my shop: take
it, and put the vase wherever you like.  I promise that you shall find
it in the same place on your return."

A few days later, Ali Cogia mounted the camel that he had laden with
merchandise, joined the caravan, and arrived in due time at Mecca.
Like the other pilgrims he visited the sacred Mosque, and after all his
religious duties were performed, he set out his goods to the best
advantage, hoping to gain some customers among the passers-by.

Very soon two merchants stopped before the pile, and when they had
turned it over, one said to the other:

"If this man was wise he would take these things to Cairo, where he
would get a much better price than he is likely to do here."

Ali Cogia heard the words, and lost no time in following the advice.
He packed up his wares, and instead of returning to Bagdad, joined a
caravan that was going to Cairo.  The results of the journey gladdened
his heart.  He sold off everything almost directly, and bought a stock
of Egyptian curiosities, which he intended selling at Damascus; but as
the caravan with which he would have to travel would not be starting
for another six weeks, he took advantage of the delay to visit the
Pyramids, and some of the cities along the banks of the Nile.

Now the attractions of Damascus so fascinated the worthy Ali, that he
could hardly tear himself away, but at length he remembered that he had
a home in Bagdad, meaning to return by way of Aleppo, and after he had
crossed the Euphrates, to follow the course of the Tigris.

But when he reached Mossoul, Ali had made such friends with some
Persian merchants, that they persuaded him to accompany them to their
native land, and even as far as India, and so it came to pass that
seven years had slipped by since he had left Bagdad, and during all
that time the friend with whom he had left the vase of olives had never
once thought of him or of it.  In fact, it was only a month before Ali
Cogia's actual return that the affair came into his head at all, owing
to his wife's remarking one day, that it was a long time since she had
eaten any olives, and would like some.

"That reminds me," said the husband, "that before Ali Cogia went to
Mecca seven years ago, he left a vase of olives in my care.  But really
by this time he must be dead, and there is no reason we should not eat
the olives if we like.  Give me a light, and I will fetch them and see
how they taste."

"My husband," answered the wife, "beware, I pray, of your doing
anything so base!  Supposing seven years have passed without news of
Ali Cogia, he need not be dead for all that, and may come back any day.
How shameful it would be to have to confess that you had betrayed your
trust and broken the seal of the vase!  Pay no attention to my idle
words, I really have no desire for olives now.  And probably after all
this while they are no longer good.  I have a presentiment that Ali
Cogia will return, and what will he think of you?  Give it up, I
entreat."

The merchant, however, refused to listen to her advice, sensible though
it was.  He took a light and a dish and went into his shop.

"If you will be so obstinate," said his wife, "I cannot help it; but do
not blame me if it turns out ill."

When the merchant opened the vase he found the topmost olives were
rotten, and in order to see if the under ones were in better condition
he shook some out into the dish.  As they fell out a few of the gold
pieces fell out too.

The sight of the money roused all the merchant's greed.  He looked into
the vase, and saw that all the bottom was filled with gold.  He then
replaced the olives and returned to his wife.

"My wife," he said, as he entered the room, "you were quite right; the
olives are rotten, and I have recorked the vase so well that Ali Cogia
will never know it has been touched."

"You would have done better to believe me," replied the wife.  "I trust
that no harm will come of it."

These words made no more impression on the merchant than the others had
done; and he spent the whole night in wondering how he could manage to
keep the gold if Ali Cogia should come back and claim his vase.  Very
early next morning he went out and bought fresh new olives; he then
threw away the old ones, took out the gold and hid it, and filled up
the vase with the olives he had bought.  This done he recorked the vase
and put it in the same place where it had been left by Ali Cogia.

A month later Ali Cogia re-entered Bagdad, and as his house was still
let he went to an inn; and the following day set out to see his friend
the merchant, who received him with open arms and many expressions of
surprise.  After a few moments given to inquiries Ali Cogia begged the
merchant to hand him over the vase that he had taken care of for so
long.

"Oh certainly," said he, "I am only glad I could be of use to you in
the matter.  Here is the key of my shop; you will find the vase in the
place where you put it."

Ali Cogia fetched his vase and carried it to his room at the inn, where
he opened it.  He thrust down his hand but could feel no money, but
still was persuaded it must be there.  So he got some plates and
vessels from his travelling kit and emptied out the olives.  To no
purpose.  The gold was not there.  The poor man was dumb with horror,
then, lifting up his hands, he exclaimed, "Can my old friend really
have committed such a crime?"

In great haste he went back to the house of the merchant.  "My friend,"
he cried, "you will be astonished to see me again, but I can find
nowhere in this vase a thousand pieces of gold that I placed in the
bottom under the olives.  Perhaps you may have taken a loan of them for
your business purposes; if that is so you are most welcome.  I will
only ask you to give me a receipt, and you can pay the money at your
leisure."

The merchant, who had expected something of the sort, had his reply all
ready.  "Ali Cogia," he said, "when you brought me the vase of olives
did I ever touch it?"

"I gave you the key of my shop and you put it yourself where you liked,
and did you not find it in exactly the same spot and in the same state?
If you placed any gold in it, it must be there still.  I know nothing
about that; you only told me there were olives.  You can believe me or
not, but I have not laid a finger on the vase."

Ali Cogia still tried every means to persuade the merchant to admit the
truth.  "I love peace," he said, "and shall deeply regret having to
resort to harsh measures.  Once more, think of your reputation.  I
shall be in despair if you oblige me to call in the aid of the law."

"Ali Cogia," answered the merchant, "you allow that it was a vase of
olives you placed in my charge.  You fetched it and removed it
yourself, and now you tell me it contained a thousand pieces of gold,
and that I must restore them to you!  Did you ever say anything about
them before?  Why, I did not even know that the vase had olives in it!
You never showed them to me.  I wonder you have not demanded pearls or
diamonds.  Retire, I pray you, lest a crowd should gather in front of
my shop."

By this time not only the casual passers-by, but also the neighbouring
merchants, were standing round, listening to the dispute, and trying
every now and then to smooth matters between them.  But at the
merchant's last words Ali Cogia resolved to lay the cause of the
quarrel before them, and told them the whole story.  They heard him to
the end, and inquired of the merchant what he had to say.

The accused man admitted that he had kept Ali Cogia's vase in his shop;
but he denied having touched it, and swore that as to what it contained
he only knew what Ali Cogia had told him, and called them all to
witness the insult that had been put upon him.

"You have brought it on yourself," said Ali Cogia, taking him by the
arm, "and as you appeal to the law, the law you shall have!  Let us see
if you will dare to repeat your story before the Cadi."

Now as a good Mussulman the merchant was forbidden to refuse this
choice of a judge, so he accepted the test, and said to Ali Cogia,
"Very well; I should like nothing better.  We shall soon see which of
us is in the right."

So the two men presented themselves before the Cadi, and Ali Cogia
again repeated his tale.  The Cadi asked what witnesses he had.  Ali
Cogia replied that he had not taken this precaution, as he had
considered the man his friend, and up to that time had always found him
honest.

The merchant, on his side, stuck to his story, and offered to swear
solemnly that not only had he never stolen the thousand gold pieces,
but that he did not even know they were there.  The Cadi allowed him to
take the oath, and pronounced him innocent.

Ali Cogia, furious at having to suffer such a loss, protested against
the verdict, declaring that he would appeal to the Caliph,
Haroun-al-Raschid, himself.  But the Cadi paid no attention to his
threats, and was quite satisfied that he had done what was right.

Judgment being given the merchant returned home triumphant, and Ali
Cogia went back to his inn to draw up a petition to the Caliph.  The
next morning he placed himself on the road along which the Caliph must
pass after mid-day prayer, and stretched out his petition to the
officer who walked before the Caliph, whose duty it was to collect such
things, and on entering the palace to hand them to his master.  There
Haroun-al-Raschid studied them carefully.

Knowing this custom, Ali Cogia followed the Caliph into the public hall
of the palace, and waited the result.  After some time the officer
appeared, and told him that the Caliph had read his petition, and had
appointed an hour the next morning to give him audience.  He then
inquired the merchant's address, so that he might be summoned to attend
also.

That very evening, the Caliph, with his grand-vizir Giafar, and
Mesrour, chief of the eunuchs, all three disguised, as was their habit,
went out to take a stroll through the town.

Going down one street, the Caliph's attention was attracted by a noise,
and looking through a door which opened into a court he perceived ten
or twelve children playing in the moonlight.  He hid himself in a dark
corner, and watched them.

"Let us play at being the Cadi," said the brightest and quickest of
them all; "I will be the Cadi.  Bring before me Ali Cogia, and the
merchant who robbed him of the thousand pieces of gold."

The boy's words recalled to the Caliph the petition he had read that
morning, and he waited with interest to see what the children would do.

The proposal was hailed with joy by the other children, who had heard a
great deal of talk about the matter, and they quickly settled the part
each one was to play.  The Cadi took his seat gravely, and an officer
introduced first Ali Cogia, the plaintiff, and then the merchant who
was the defendant.

Ali Cogia made a low bow, and pleaded his cause point by point;
concluding by imploring the Cadi not to inflict on him such a heavy
loss.

The Cadi having heard his case, turned to the merchant, and inquired
why he had not repaid Ali Cogia the sum in question.

The false merchant repeated the reasons that the real merchant had
given to the Cadi of Bagdad, and also offered to swear that he had told
the truth.

"Stop a moment!" said the little Cadi, "before we come to oaths, I
should like to examine the vase with the olives.  Ali Cogia," he added,
"have you got the vase with you?" and finding he had not, the Cadi
continued, "Go and get it, and bring it to me."

So Ali Cogia disappeared for an instant, and then pretended to lay a
vase at the feet of the Cadi, declaring it was his vase, which he had
given to the accused for safe custody; and in order to be quite
correct, the Cadi asked the merchant if he recognised it as the same
vase.  By his silence the merchant admitted the fact, and the Cadi then
commanded to have the vase opened.  Ali Cogia made a movement as if he
was taking off the lid, and the little Cadi on his part made a pretence
of peering into a vase.

"What beautiful olives!" he said, "I should like to taste one," and
pretending to put one in his mouth, he added, "they are really
excellent!

"But," he went on, "it seems to me odd that olives seven years old
should be as good as that!  Send for some dealers in olives, and let us
hear what they say!"

Two children were presented to him as olive merchants, and the Cadi
addressed them.  "Tell me," he said, "how long can olives be kept so as
to be pleasant eating?"

"My lord," replied the merchants, "however much care is taken to
preserve them, they never last beyond the third year.  They lose both
taste and colour, and are only fit to be thrown away."

"If that is so," answered the little Cadi, "examine this vase, and tell
me how long the olives have been in it."

The olive merchants pretended to examine the olives and taste them;
then reported to the Cadi that they were fresh and good.

"You are mistaken," said he, "Ali Cogia declares he put them in that
vase seven years ago."

"My lord," returned the olive merchants, "we can assure you that the
olives are those of the present year.  And if you consult all the
merchants in Bagdad you will not find one to give a contrary opinion."

The accused merchant opened his mouth as if to protest, but the Cadi
gave him no time.  "Be silent," he said, "you are a thief.  Take him
away and hang him."  So the game ended, the children clapping their
hands in applause, and leading the criminal away to be hanged.

Haroun-al-Raschid was lost in astonishment at the wisdom of the child,
who had given so wise a verdict on the case which he himself was to
hear on the morrow.  "Is there any other verdict possible?" he asked
the grand-vizir, who was as much impressed as himself.  "I can imagine
no better judgment."

"If the circumstances are really such as we have heard," replied the
grand-vizir, "it seems to me your Highness could only follow the
example of this boy, in the method of reasoning, and also in your
conclusions."

"Then take careful note of this house," said the Caliph, "and bring me
the boy to-morrow, so that the affair may be tried by him in my
presence.  Summon also the Cadi, to learn his duty from the mouth of a
child.  Bid Ali Cogia bring his vase of olives, and see that two
dealers in olives are present."  So saying the Caliph returned to the
palace.

The next morning early, the grand-vizir went back to the house where
they had seen the children playing, and asked for the mistress and her
children.  Three boys appeared, and the grand-vizir inquired which had
represented the Cadi in their game of the previous evening.  The eldest
and tallest, changing colour, confessed that it was he, and to his
mother's great alarm, the grand-vizir said that he had strict orders to
bring him into the presence of the Caliph.

"Does he want to take my son from me?" cried the poor woman; but the
grand-vizir hastened to calm her, by assuring her that she should have
the boy again in an hour, and she would be quite satisfied when she
knew the reason of the summons.  So she dressed the boy in his best
clothes, and the two left the house.

When the grand-vizir presented the child to the Caliph, he was a little
awed and confused, and the Caliph proceeded to explain why he had sent
for him.  "Approach, my son," he said kindly.  "I think it was you who
judged the case of Ali Cogia and the merchant last night?  I overheard
you by chance, and was very pleased with the way you conducted it.
To-day you will see the real Ali Cogia and the real merchant.  Seat
yourself at once next to me."

The Caliph being seated on his throne with the boy next him, the
parties to the suit were ushered in.  One by one they prostrated
themselves, and touched the carpet at the foot of the throne with their
foreheads.  When they rose up, the Caliph said:  "Now speak.  This
child will give you justice, and if more should be wanted I will see to
it myself."

Ali Cogia and the merchant pleaded one after the other, but when the
merchant offered to swear the same oath that he had taken before the
Cadi, he was stopped by the child, who said that before this was done
he must first see the vase of olives.

At these words, Ali Cogia presented the vase to the Caliph, and
uncovered it.  The Caliph took one of the olives, tasted it, and
ordered the expert merchants to do the same.  They pronounced the
olives good, and fresh that year.  The boy informed them that Ali Cogia
declared it was seven years since he had placed them in the vase; to
which they returned the same answer as the children had done.

The accused merchant saw by this time that his condemnation was
certain, and tried to allege something in his defence.  The boy had too
much sense to order him to be hanged, and looked at the Caliph, saying,
"Commander of the Faithful, this is not a game now; it is for your
Highness to condemn him to death and not for me."

Then the Caliph, convinced that the man was a thief, bade them take him
away and hang him, which was done, but not before he had confessed his
guilt and the place in which he had hidden Ali Cogia's money.  The
Caliph ordered the Cadi to learn how to deal out justice from the mouth
of a child, and sent the boy home, with a purse containing a hundred
pieces of gold as a mark of his favour.



The Enchanted Horse


It was the Feast of the New Year, the oldest and most splendid of all
the feasts in the Kingdom of Persia, and the day had been spent by the
king in the city of Schiraz, taking part in the magnificent spectacles
prepared by his subjects to do honour to the festival.  The sun was
setting, and the monarch was about to give his court the signal to
retire, when suddenly an Indian appeared before his throne, leading a
horse richly harnessed, and looking in every respect exactly like a
real one.

"Sire," said he, prostrating himself as he spoke, "although I make my
appearance so late before your Highness, I can confidently assure you
that none of the wonders you have seen during the day can be compared
to this horse, if you will deign to cast your eyes upon him."

"I see nothing in it," replied the king, "except a clever imitation of
a real one; and any skilled workman might do as much."

"Sire," returned the Indian, "it is not of his outward form that I
would speak, but of the use that I can make of him.  I have only to
mount him, and to wish myself in some special place, and no matter how
distant it may be, in a very few moments I shall find myself there.  It
is this, Sire, that makes the horse so marvellous, and if your Highness
will allow me, you can prove it for yourself."

The King of Persia, who was interested in every thing out of the
common, and had never before come across a horse with such qualities,
bade the Indian mount the animal, and show what he could do.  In an
instant the man had vaulted on his back, and inquired where the monarch
wished to send him.

"Do you see that mountain?" asked the king, pointing to a huge mass
that towered into the sky about three leagues from Schiraz; "go and
bring me the leaf of a palm that grows at the foot."

The words were hardly out of the king's mouth when the Indian turned a
screw placed in the horse's neck, close to the saddle, and the animal
bounded like lightning up into the air, and was soon beyond the sight
even of the sharpest eyes.  In a quarter of an hour the Indian was seen
returning, bearing in his hand the palm, and, guiding his horse to the
foot of the throne, he dismounted, and laid the leaf before the king.

Now the monarch had no sooner proved the astonishing speed of which the
horse was capable than he longed to possess it himself, and indeed, so
sure was he that the Indian would be quite ready to sell it, that he
looked upon it as his own already.

"I never guessed from his mere outside how valuable an animal he was,"
he remarked to the Indian, "and I am grateful to you for having shown
me my error," said he.  "If you will sell it, name your own price."

"Sire," replied the Indian, "I never doubted that a sovereign so wise
and accomplished as your Highness would do justice to my horse, when he
once knew its power; and I even went so far as to think it probable
that you might wish to possess it.  Greatly as I prize it, I will yield
it up to your Highness on one condition.  The horse was not constructed
by me, but it was given me by the inventor, in exchange for my only
daughter, who made me take a solemn oath that I would never part with
it, except for some object of equal value."

"Name anything you like," cried the monarch, interrupting him.  "My
kingdom is large, and filled with fair cities.  You have only to choose
which you would prefer, to become its ruler to the end of your life."

"Sire," answered the Indian, to whom the proposal did not seem nearly
so generous as it appeared to the king, "I am most grateful to your
Highness for your princely offer, and beseech you not to be offended
with me if I say that I can only deliver up my horse in exchange for
the hand of the princess your daughter."

A shout of laughter burst from the courtiers as they heard these words,
and Prince Firouz Schah, the heir apparent, was filled with anger at
the Indian's presumption.  The king, however, thought that it would not
cost him much to part from the princess in order to gain such a
delightful toy, and while he was hesitating as to his answer the prince
broke in.

"Sire," he said, "it is not possible that you can doubt for an instant
what reply you should give to such an insolent bargain.  Consider what
you owe to yourself, and to the blood of your ancestors."

"My son," replied the king, "you speak nobly, but you do not realise
either the value of the horse, or the fact that if I reject the
proposal of the Indian, he will only make the same to some other
monarch, and I should be filled with despair at the thought that anyone
but myself should own this Seventh Wonder of the World.  Of course I do
not say that I shall accept his conditions, and perhaps he may be
brought to reason, but meanwhile I should like you to examine the
horse, and, with the owner's permission, to make trial of its powers."

The Indian, who had overheard the king's speech, thought that he saw in
it signs of yielding to his proposal, so he joyfully agreed to the
monarch's wishes, and came forward to help the prince to mount the
horse, and show him how to guide it:  but, before he had finished, the
young man turned the screw, and was soon out of sight.

They waited some time, expecting that every moment he might be seen
returning in the distance, but at length the Indian grew frightened,
and prostrating himself before the throne, he said to the king, "Sire,
your Highness must have noticed that the prince, in his impatience, did
not allow me to tell him what it was necessary to do in order to return
to the place from which he started.  I implore you not to punish me for
what was not my fault, and not to visit on me any misfortune that may
occur."

"But why," cried the king in a burst of fear and anger, "why did you
not call him back when you saw him disappearing?"

"Sire," replied the Indian, "the rapidity of his movements took me so
by surprise that he was out of hearing before I recovered my speech.
But we must hope that he will perceive and turn a second screw, which
will have the effect of bringing the horse back to earth."

"But supposing he does!" answered the king, "what is to hinder the
horse from descending straight into the sea, or dashing him to pieces
on the rocks?"

"Have no fears, your Highness," said the Indian; "the horse has the
gift of passing over seas, and of carrying his rider wherever he wishes
to go."

"Well, your head shall answer for it," returned the monarch, "and if in
three months he is not safe back with me, or at any rate does not send
me news of his safety, your life shall pay the penalty." So saying, he
ordered his guards to seize the Indian and throw him into prison.

Meanwhile, Prince Firouz Schah had gone gaily up into the air, and for
the space of an hour continued to ascend higher and higher, till the
very mountains were not distinguishable from the plains.  Then he began
to think it was time to come down, and took for granted that, in order
to do this, it was only needful to turn the screw the reverse way; but,
to his surprise and horror, he found that, turn as he might, he did not
make the smallest impression.  He then remembered that he had never
waited to ask how he was to get back to earth again, and understood the
danger in which he stood.  Luckily, he did not lose his head, and set
about examining the horse's neck with great care, till at last, to his
intense joy, he discovered a tiny little peg, much smaller than the
other, close to the right ear.  This he turned, and found him-self
dropping to the earth, though more slowly than he had left it.

It was now dark, and as the prince could see nothing, he was obliged,
not without some feeling of disquiet, to allow the horse to direct his
own course, and midnight was already passed before Prince Firouz Schah
again touched the ground, faint and weary from his long ride, and from
the fact that he had eaten nothing since early morning.

The first thing he did on dismounting was to try to find out where he
was, and, as far as he could discover in the thick darkness, he found
himself on the terraced roof of a huge palace, with a balustrade of
marble running round.  In one corner of the terrace stood a small door,
opening on to a staircase which led down into the palace.

Some people might have hesitated before exploring further, but not so
the prince.  "I am doing no harm," he said, "and whoever the owner may
be, he will not touch me when he sees I am unarmed," and in dread of
making a false step, he went cautiously down the staircase.  On a
landing, he noticed an open door, beyond which was a faintly lighted
hall.

Before entering, the prince paused and listened, but he heard nothing
except the sound of men snoring.  By the light of a lantern suspended
from the roof, he perceived a row of black guards sleeping, each with a
naked sword lying by him, and he understood that the hall must form the
ante-room to the chamber of some queen or princess.

Standing quite still, Prince Firouz Schah looked about him, till his
eyes grew accustomed to the gloom, and he noticed a bright light
shining through a curtain in one corner.  He then made his way softly
towards it, and, drawing aside its folds, passed into a magnificent
chamber full of sleeping women, all lying on low couches, except one,
who was on a sofa; and this one, he knew, must be the princess.

Gently stealing up to the side of her bed he looked at her, and saw
that she was more beautiful than any woman he had ever beheld.  But,
fascinated though he was, he was well aware of the danger of his
position, as one cry of surprise would awake the guards, and cause his
certain death.

So sinking quietly on his knees, he took hold of the sleeve of the
princess and drew her arm lightly towards him.  The princess opened her
eyes, and seeing before her a handsome well-dressed man, she remained
speechless with astonishment.

This favourable moment was seized by the prince, who bowing low while
he knelt, thus addressed her:

"You behold, madame, a prince in distress, son to the King of Persia,
who, owing to an adventure so strange that you will scarcely believe
it, finds himself here, a suppliant for your protection.  But
yesterday, I was in my father's court, engaged in the celebration of
our most solemn festival; to-day, I am in an unknown land, in danger of
my life."

Now the princess whose mercy Prince Firouz Schah implored was the
eldest daughter of the King of Bengal, who was enjoying rest and change
in the palace her father had built her, at a little distance from the
capital.  She listened kindly to what he had to say, and then answered:

"Prince, be not uneasy; hospitality and humanity are practised as
widely in Bengal as they are in Persia.  The protection you ask will be
given you by all.  You have my word for it."  And as the prince was
about to thank her for her goodness, she added quickly, "However great
may be my curiosity to learn by what means you have travelled here so
speedily, I know that you must be faint for want of food, so I shall
give orders to my women to take you to one of my chambers, where you
will be provided with supper, and left to repose."

By this time the princess's attendants were all awake, and listening to
the conversation.  At a sign from their mistress they rose, dressed
themselves hastily, and snatching up some of the tapers which lighted
the room, conducted the prince to a large and lofty room, where two of
the number prepared his bed, and the rest went down to the kitchen,
from which they soon returned with all sorts of dishes.  Then, showing
him cupboards filled with dresses and linen, they quitted the room.

During their absence the Princess of Bengal, who had been greatly
struck by the beauty of the prince, tried in vain to go to sleep again.
It was of no use:  she felt broad awake, and when her women entered the
room, she inquired eagerly if the prince had all he wanted, and what
they thought of him.

"Madame," they replied, "it is of course impossible for us to tell what
impression this young man has made on you.  For ourselves, we think you
would be fortunate if the king your father should allow you to marry
anyone so amiable.  Certainly there is no one in the Court of Bengal
who can be compared with him."

These flattering observations were by no means displeasing to the
princess, but as she did not wish to betray her own feelings she merely
said, "You are all a set of chatterboxes; go back to bed, and let me
sleep."

When she dressed the following morning, her maids noticed that,
contrary to her usual habit, the princess was very particular about her
toilette, and insisted on her hair being dressed two or three times
over.  "For," she said to herself, "if my appearance was not
displeasing to the prince when he saw me in the condition I was, how
much more will he be struck with me when he beholds me with all my
charms."

Then she placed in her hair the largest and most brilliant diamonds she
could find, with a necklace, bracelets and girdle, all of precious
stones.  And over her shoulders her ladies put a robe of the richest
stuff in all the Indies, that no one was allowed to wear except members
of the royal family.  When she was fully dressed according to her
wishes, she sent to know if the Prince of Persia was awake and ready to
receive her, as she desired to present herself before him.

When the princess's messenger entered his room, Prince Firouz Schah was
in the act of leaving it, to inquire if he might be allowed to pay his
homage to her mistress:  but on hearing the princess's wishes, he at
once gave way.  "Her will is my law," he said, "I am only here to obey
her orders."

In a few moments the princess herself appeared, and after the usual
compliments had passed between them, the princess sat down on a sofa,
and began to explain to the prince her reasons for not giving him an
audience in her own apartments.  "Had I done so," she said, "we might
have been interrupted at any hour by the chief of the eunuchs, who has
the right to enter whenever it pleases him, whereas this is forbidden
ground.  I am all impatience to learn the wonderful accident which has
procured the pleasure of your arrival, and that is why I have come to
you here, where no one can intrude upon us.  Begin then, I entreat you,
without delay."

So the prince began at the beginning, and told all the story of the
festival of Nedrouz held yearly in Persia, and of the splendid
spectacles celebrated in its honour.  But when he came to the enchanted
horse, the princess declared that she could never have imagined
anything half so surprising.  "Well then," continued the prince, "you
can easily understand how the King my father, who has a passion for all
curious things, was seized with a violent desire to possess this horse,
and asked the Indian what sum he would take for it.

"The man's answer was absolutely absurd, as you will agree, when I tell
you that it was nothing less than the hand of the princess my sister;
but though all the bystanders laughed and mocked, and I was beside
myself with rage, I saw to my despair that my father could not make up
his mind to treat the insolent proposal as it deserved.  I tried to
argue with him, but in vain.  He only begged me to examine the horse
with a view (as I quite understood) of making me more sensible of its
value."

"To please my father, I mounted the horse, and, without waiting for any
instructions from the Indian, turned the peg as I had seen him do.  In
an instant I was soaring upwards, much quicker than an arrow could fly,
and I felt as if I must be getting so near the sky that I should soon
hit my head against it!  I could see nothing beneath me, and for some
time was so confused that I did not even know in what direction I was
travelling.  At last, when it was growing dark, I found another screw,
and on turning it, the horse began slowly to sink towards the earth.  I
was forced to trust to chance, and to see what fate had in store, and
it was already past midnight when I found myself on the roof of this
palace.  I crept down the little staircase, and made directly for a
light which I perceived through an open door--I peeped cautiously in,
and saw, as you will guess, the eunuchs lying asleep on the floor.  I
knew the risks I ran, but my need was so great that I paid no attention
to them, and stole safely past your guards, to the curtain which
concealed your doorway.

"The rest, Princess, you know; and it only remains for me to thank you
for the kindness you have shown me, and to assure you of my gratitude.
By the law of nations, I am already your slave, and I have only my
heart, that is my own, to offer you.  But what am I saying?  My own?
Alas, madame, it was yours from the first moment I beheld you!"

The air with which he said these words could have left no doubt on the
mind of the princess as to the effect of her charms, and the blush
which mounted to her face only increased her beauty.

"Prince," returned she as soon as her confusion permitted her to speak,
"you have given me the greatest pleasure, and I have followed you
closely in all your adventures, and though you are positively sitting
before me, I even trembled at your danger in the upper regions of the
air!  Let me say what a debt I owe to the chance that has led you to my
house; you could have entered none which would have given you a warmer
welcome.  As to your being a slave, of course that is merely a joke,
and my reception must itself have assured you that you are as free here
as at your father's court.  As to your heart," continued she in tones
of encouragement, "I am quite sure that must have been disposed of long
ago, to some princess who is well worthy of it, and I could not think
of being the cause of your unfaithfulness to her."

Prince Firouz Schah was about to protest that there was no lady with
any prior claims, but he was stopped by the entrance of one of the
princess's attendants, who announced that dinner was served, and, after
all, neither was sorry for the interruption.

Dinner was laid in a magnificent apartment, and the table was covered
with delicious fruits; while during the repast richly dressed girls
sang softly and sweetly to stringed instruments.  After the prince and
princess had finished, they passed into a small room hung with blue and
gold, looking out into a garden stocked with flowers and arbutus trees,
quite different from any that were to be found in Persia.

"Princess," observed the young man, "till now I had always believed
that Persia could boast finer palaces and more lovely gardens than any
kingdom upon earth.  But my eyes have been opened, and I begin to
perceive that, wherever there is a great king he will surround himself
with buildings worthy of him."

"Prince," replied the Princess of Bengal, "I have no idea what a
Persian palace is like, so I am unable to make comparisons.  I do not
wish to depreciate my own palace, but I can assure you that it is very
poor beside that of the King my father, as you will agree when you have
been there to greet him, as I hope you will shortly do."

Now the princess hoped that, by bringing about a meeting between the
prince and her father, the King would be so struck with the young man's
distinguished air and fine manners, that he would offer him his
daughter to wife.  But the reply of the Prince of Persia to her
suggestion was not quite what she wished.

"Madame," he said, "by taking advantage of your proposal to visit the
palace of the King of Bengal, I should satisfy not merely my curiosity,
but also the sentiments of respect with which I regard him.  But,
Princess, I am persuaded that you will feel with me, that I cannot
possibly present myself before so great a sovereign without the
attendants suitable to my rank.  He would think me an adventurer."

"If that is all," she answered, "you can get as many attendants here as
you please.  There are plenty of Persian merchants, and as for money,
my treasury is always open to you.  Take what you please."

Prince Firouz Schah guessed what prompted so much kindness on the part
of the princess, and was much touched by it.  Still his passion, which
increased every moment, did not make him forget his duty.  So he
replied without hesitation:

"I do not know, Princess, how to express my gratitude for your obliging
offer, which I would accept at once if it were not for the recollection
of all the uneasiness the King my father must be suffering on my
account.  I should be unworthy indeed of all the love he showers upon
me, if I did not return to him at the first possible moment.  For,
while I am enjoying the society of the most amiable of all princesses,
he is, I am quite convinced, plunged in the deepest grief, having lost
all hope of seeing me again.  I am sure you will understand my
position, and will feel that to remain away one instant longer than is
necessary would not only be ungrateful on my part, but perhaps even a
crime, for how do I know if my absence may not break his heart?

"But," continued the prince, "having obeyed the voice of my conscience,
I shall count the moments when, with your gracious permission, I may
present myself before the King of Bengal, not as a wanderer, but as a
prince, to implore the favour of your hand.  My father has always
informed me that in my marriage I shall be left quite free, but I am
persuaded that I have only to describe your generosity, for my wishes
to become his own."

The Princess of Bengal was too reasonable not to accept the explanation
offered by Prince Firouz Schah, but she was much disturbed at his
intention of departing at once, for she feared that, no sooner had he
left her, than the impression she had made on him would fade away.  So
she made one more effort to keep him, and after assuring him that she
entirely approved of his anxiety to see his father, begged him to give
her a day or two more of his company.

In common politeness the prince could hardly refuse this request, and
the princess set about inventing every kind of amusement for him, and
succeeded so well that two months slipped by almost unnoticed, in
balls, spectacles and in hunting, of which, when unattended by danger,
the princess was passionately fond.  But at last, one day, he declared
seriously that he could neglect his duty no longer, and entreated her
to put no further obstacles in his way, promising at the same time to
return, as soon as he could, with all the magnificence due both to her
and to himself.

"Princess," he added, "it may be that in your heart you class me with
those false lovers whose devotion cannot stand the test of absence.  If
you do, you wrong me; and were it not for fear of offending you, I
would beseech you to come with me, for my life can only be happy when
passed with you.  As for your reception at the Persian Court, it will
be as warm as your merits deserve; and as for what concerns the King of
Bengal, he must be much more indifferent to your welfare than you have
led me to believe if he does not give his consent to our marriage."

The princess could not find words in which to reply to the arguments of
the Prince of Persia, but her silence and her downcast eyes spoke for
her, and declared that she had no objection to accompanying him on his
travels.

The only difficulty that occurred to her was that Prince Firouz Schah
did not know how to manage the horse, and she dreaded lest they might
find themselves in the same plight as before.  But the prince soothed
her fears so successfully, that she soon had no other thought than to
arrange for their flight so secretly, that no one in the palace should
suspect it.

This was done, and early the following morning, when the whole palace
was wrapped in sleep, she stole up on to the roof, where the prince was
already awaiting her, with his horse's head towards Persia.  He mounted
first and helped the princess up behind; then, when she was firmly
seated, with her hands holding tightly to his belt, he touched the
screw, and the horse began to leave the earth quickly behind him.

He travelled with his accustomed speed, and Prince Firouz Schah guided
him so well that in two hours and a half from the time of starting, he
saw the capital of Persia lying beneath him.  He determined to alight
neither in the great square from which he had started, nor in the
Sultan's palace, but in a country house at a little distance from the
town.  Here he showed the princess a beautiful suite of rooms, and
begged her to rest, while he informed his father of their arrival, and
prepared a public reception worthy of her rank.  Then he ordered a
horse to be saddled, and set out.

All the way through the streets he was welcomed with shouts of joy by
the people, who had long lost all hope of seeing him again.  On
reaching the palace, he found the Sultan surrounded by his ministers,
all clad in the deepest mourning, and his father almost went out of his
mind with surprise and delight at the mere sound of his son's voice.
When he had calmed down a little, he begged the prince to relate his
adventures.

The prince at once seized the opening thus given him, and told the
whole story of his treatment by the Princess of Bengal, not even
concealing the fact that she had fallen in love with him.  "And, Sire,"
ended the prince, "having given my royal word that you would not refuse
your consent to our marriage, I persuaded her to return with me on the
Indian's horse.  I have left her in one of your Highness's country
houses, where she is waiting anxiously to be assured that I have not
promised in vain."

As he said this the prince was about to throw himself at the feet of
the Sultan, but his father prevented him, and embracing him again, said
eagerly:

"My son, not only do I gladly consent to your marriage with the
Princess of Bengal, but I will hasten to pay my respects to her, and to
thank her in my own person for the benefits she has conferred on you.
I will then bring her back with me, and make all arrangements for the
wedding to be celebrated to-day."

So the Sultan gave orders that the habits of mourning worn by the
people should be thrown off and that there should be a concert of
drums, trumpets and cymbals.  Also that the Indian should be taken from
prison, and brought before him.

His commands were obeyed, and the Indian was led into his presence,
surrounded by guards.  "I have kept you locked up," said the Sultan,
"so that in case my son was lost, your life should pay the penalty.  He
has now returned; so take your horse, and begone for ever."

The Indian hastily quitted the presence of the Sultan, and when he was
outside, he inquired of the man who had taken him out of prison where
the prince had really been all this time, and what he had been doing.
They told him the whole story, and how the Princess of Bengal was even
then awaiting in the country palace the consent of the Sultan, which at
once put into the Indian's head a plan of revenge for the treatment he
had experienced.  Going straight to the country house, he informed the
doorkeeper who was left in charge that he had been sent by the Sultan
and by the Prince of Persia to fetch the princess on the enchanted
horse, and to bring her to the palace.

The doorkeeper knew the Indian by sight, and was of course aware that
nearly three months before he had been thrown into prison by the
Sultan; and seeing him at liberty, the man took for granted that he was
speaking the truth, and made no difficulty about leading him before the
Princess of Bengal; while on her side, hearing that he had come from
the prince, the lady gladly consented to do what he wished.

The Indian, delighted with the success of his scheme, mounted the
horse, assisted the princess to mount behind him, and turned the peg at
the very moment that the prince was leaving the palace in Schiraz for
the country house, followed closely by the Sultan and all the court.
Knowing this, the Indian deliberately steered the horse right above the
city, in order that his revenge for his unjust imprisonment might be
all the quicker and sweeter.

When the Sultan of Persia saw the horse and its riders, he stopped
short with astonishment and horror, and broke out into oaths and
curses, which the Indian heard quite unmoved, knowing that he was
perfectly safe from pursuit.  But mortified and furious as the Sultan
was, his feelings were nothing to those of Prince Firouz Schah, when he
saw the object of his passionate devotion being borne rapidly away.
And while he was struck speechless with grief and remorse at not having
guarded her better, she vanished swiftly out of his sight.  What was he
to do?  Should he follow his father into the palace, and there give
reins to his despair?  Both his love and his courage alike forbade it;
and he continued his way to the palace.

The sight of the prince showed the doorkeeper of what folly he had been
guilty, and flinging himself at his master's feet, implored his pardon.
"Rise," said the prince, "I am the cause of this misfortune, and not
you.  Go and find me the dress of a dervish, but beware of saying it is
for me."

At a short distance from the country house, a convent of dervishes was
situated, and the superior, or scheih, was the doorkeeper's friend.  So
by means of a false story made up on the spur of the moment, it was
easy enough to get hold of a dervish's dress, which the prince at once
put on, instead of his own.  Disguised like this and concealing about
him a box of pearls and diamonds he had intended as a present to the
princess, he left the house at nightfall, uncertain where he should go,
but firmly resolved not to return without her.

Meanwhile the Indian had turned the horse in such a direction that,
before many hours had passed, it had entered a wood close to the
capital of the kingdom of Cashmere.  Feeling very hungry, and supposing
that the princess also might be in want of food, he brought his steed
down to the earth, and left the princess in a shady place, on the banks
of a clear stream.

At first, when the princess had found herself alone, the idea had
occurred to her of trying to escape and hide herself.  But as she had
eaten scarcely anything since she had left Bengal, she felt she was too
weak to venture far, and was obliged to abandon her design.  On the
return of the Indian with meats of various kinds, she began to eat
voraciously, and soon had regained sufficient courage to reply with
spirit to his insolent remarks.  Goaded by his threats she sprang to
her feet, calling loudly for help, and luckily her cries were heard by
a troop of horsemen, who rode up to inquire what was the matter.

Now the leader of these horsemen was the Sultan of Cashmere, returning
from the chase, and he instantly turned to the Indian to inquire who he
was, and whom he had with him.  The Indian rudely answered that it was
his wife, and there was no occasion for anyone else to interfere
between them.

The princess, who, of course, was ignorant of the rank of her
deliverer, denied altogether the Indian's story.  "My lord," she cried,
"whoever you may be, put no faith in this impostor.  He is an
abominable magician, who has this day torn me from the Prince of
Persia, my destined husband, and has brought me here on this enchanted
horse."  She would have continued, but her tears choked her, and the
Sultan of Cashmere, convinced by her beauty and her distinguished air
of the truth of her tale, ordered his followers to cut off the Indian's
head, which was done immediately.

But rescued though she was from one peril, it seemed as if she had only
fallen into another.  The Sultan commanded a horse to be given her, and
conducted her to his own palace, where he led her to a beautiful
apartment, and selected female slaves to wait on her, and eunuchs to be
her guard.  Then, without allowing her time to thank him for all he had
done, he bade her repose, saying she should tell him her adventures on
the following day.

The princess fell asleep, flattering herself that she had only to
relate her story for the Sultan to be touched by compassion, and to
restore her to the prince without delay.  But a few hours were to
undeceive her.

When the King of Cashmere had quitted her presence the evening before,
he had resolved that the sun should not set again without the princess
becoming his wife, and at daybreak proclamation of his intention was
made throughout the town, by the sound of drums, trumpets, cymbals, and
other instruments calculated to fill the heart with joy.  The Princess
of Bengal was early awakened by the noise, but she did not for one
moment imagine that it had anything to do with her, till the Sultan,
arriving as soon as she was dressed to inquire after her health,
informed her that the trumpet blasts she heard were part of the solemn
marriage ceremonies, for which he begged her to prepare.  This
unexpected announcement caused the princess such terror that she sank
down in a dead faint.

The slaves that were in waiting ran to her aid, and the Sultan himself
did his best to bring her back to consciousness, but for a long while
it was all to no purpose.  At length her senses began slowly to come
back to her, and then, rather than break faith with the Prince of
Persia by consenting to such a marriage, she determined to feign
madness.  So she began by saying all sorts of absurdities, and using
all kinds of strange gestures, while the Sultan stood watching her with
sorrow and surprise.  But as this sudden seizure showed no sign of
abating, he left her to her women, ordering them to take the greatest
care of her.  Still, as the day went on, the malady seemed to become
worse, and by night it was almost violent.

Days passed in this manner, till at last the Sultan of Cashmere decided
to summon all the doctors of his court to consult together over her sad
state.  Their answer was that madness is of so many different kinds
that it was impossible to give an opinion on the case without seeing
the princess, so the Sultan gave orders that they were to be introduced
into her chamber, one by one, every man according to his rank.

This decision had been foreseen by the princess, who knew quite well
that if once she allowed the physicians to feel her pulse, the most
ignorant of them would discover that she was in perfectly good health,
and that her madness was feigned, so as each man approached, she broke
out into such violent paroxysms, that not one dared to lay a finger on
her.  A few, who pretended to be cleverer than the rest, declared that
they could diagnose sick people only from sight, ordered her certain
potions, which she made no difficulty about taking, as she was
persuaded they were all harmless.

When the Sultan of Cashmere saw that the court doctors could do nothing
towards curing the princess, he called in those of the city, who fared
no better.  Then he had recourse to the most celebrated physicians in
the other large towns, but finding that the task was beyond their
science, he finally sent messengers into the other neighbouring states,
with a memorandum containing full particulars of the princess's
madness, offering at the same time to pay the expenses of any physician
who would come and see for himself, and a handsome reward to the one
who should cure her.  In answer to this proclamation many foreign
professors flocked into Cashmere, but they naturally were not more
successful than the rest had been, as the cure depended neither on them
nor their skill, but only on the princess herself.

It was during this time that Prince Firouz Schah, wandering sadly and
hopelessly from place to place, arrived in a large city of India, where
he heard a great deal of talk about the Princess of Bengal who had gone
out of her senses, on the very day that she was to have been married to
the Sultan of Cashmere.  This was quite enough to induce him to take
the road to Cashmere, and to inquire at the first inn at which he
lodged in the capital the full particulars of the story.  When he knew
that he had at last found the princess whom he had so long lost, he set
about devising a plan for her rescue.

The first thing he did was to procure a doctor's robe, so that his
dress, added to the long beard he had allowed to grow on his travels,
might unmistakably proclaim his profession.  He then lost no time in
going to the palace, where he obtained an audience of the chief usher,
and while apologising for his boldness in presuming to think that he
could cure the princess, where so many others had failed, declared that
he had the secret of certain remedies, which had hitherto never failed
of their effect.

The chief usher assured him that he was heartily welcome, and that the
Sultan would receive him with pleasure; and in case of success, he
would gain a magnificent reward.

When the Prince of Persia, in the disguise of a physician, was brought
before him, the Sultan wasted no time in talking, beyond remarking that
the mere sight of a doctor threw the princess into transports of rage.
He then led the prince up to a room under the roof, which had an
opening through which he might observe the princess, without himself
being seen.

The prince looked, and beheld the princess reclining on a sofa with
tears in her eyes, singing softly to herself a song bewailing her sad
destiny, which had deprived her, perhaps for ever, of a being she so
tenderly loved.  The young man's heart beat fast as he listened, for he
needed no further proof that her madness was feigned, and that it was
love of him which had caused her to resort to this species of trick.
He softly left his hiding-place, and returned to the Sultan, to whom he
reported that he was sure from certain signs that the princess's malady
was not incurable, but that he must see her and speak with her alone.

The Sultan made no difficulty in consenting to this, and commanded that
he should be ushered in to the princess's apartment.  The moment she
caught sight of his physician's robe, she sprang from her seat in a
fury, and heaped insults upon him.  The prince took no notice of her
behaviour, and approaching quite close, so that his words might be
heard by her alone, he said in a low whisper, "Look at me, princess,
and you will see that I am no doctor, but the Prince of Persia, who has
come to set you free."

At the sound of his voice, the Princess of Bengal suddenly grew calm,
and an expression of joy overspread her face, such as only comes when
what we wish for most and expect the least suddenly happens to us.  For
some time she was too enchanted to speak, and Prince Firouz Schah took
advantage of her silence to explain to her all that had occurred, his
despair at watching her disappear before his very eyes, the oath he had
sworn to follow her over the world, and his rapture at finally
discovering her in the palace at Cashmere.  When he had finished, he
begged in his turn that the princess would tell him how she had come
there, so that he might the better devise some means of rescuing her
from the tyranny of the Sultan.

It needed but a few words from the princess to make him acquainted with
the whole situation, and how she had been forced to play the part of a
mad woman in order to escape from a marriage with the Sultan, who had
not had sufficient politeness even to ask her consent.  If necessary,
she added, she had resolved to die sooner than permit herself to be
forced into such a union, and break faith with a prince whom she loved.

The prince then inquired if she knew what had become of the enchanted
horse since the Indian's death, but the princess could only reply that
she had heard nothing about it.  Still she did not suppose that the
horse could have been forgotten by the Sultan, after all she had told
him of its value.

To this the prince agreed, and they consulted together over a plan by
which she might be able to make her escape and return with him into
Persia.  And as the first step, she was to dress herself with care, and
receive the Sultan with civility when he visited her next morning.

The Sultan was transported with delight on learning the result of the
interview, and his opinion of the doctor's skill was raised still
higher when, on the following day, the princess behaved towards him in
such a way as to persuade him that her complete cure would not be long
delayed.  However he contented himself with assuring her how happy he
was to see her health so much improved, and exhorted her to make every
use of so clever a physician, and to repose entire confidence in him.
Then he retired, without awaiting any reply from the princess.

The Prince of Persia left the room at the same time, and asked if he
might be allowed humbly to inquire by what means the Princess of Bengal
had reached Cashmere, which was so far distant from her father's
kingdom, and how she came to be there alone.  The Sultan thought the
question very natural, and told him the same story that the Princess of
Bengal had done, adding that he had ordered the enchanted horse to be
taken to his treasury as a curiosity, though he was quite ignorant how
it could be used.

"Sire," replied the physician, "your Highness's tale has supplied me
with the clue I needed to complete the recovery of the princess.
During her voyage hither on an enchanted horse, a portion of its
enchantment has by some means been communicated to her person, and it
can only be dissipated by certain perfumes of which I possess the
secret.  If your Highness will deign to consent, and to give the court
and the people one of the most astonishing spectacles they have ever
witnessed, command the horse to be brought into the big square outside
the palace, and leave the rest to me.  I promise that in a very few
moments, in presence of all the assembled multitude, you shall see the
princess as healthy both in mind and body as ever she was in her life.
And in order to make the spectacle as impressive as possible, I would
suggest that she should be richly dressed and covered with the noblest
jewels of the crown."

The Sultan readily agreed to all that the prince proposed, and the
following morning he desired that the enchanted horse should be taken
from the treasury, and brought into the great square of the palace.
Soon the rumour began to spread through the town, that something
extraordinary was about to happen, and such a crowd began to collect
that the guards had to be called out to keep order, and to make a way
for the enchanted horse.

When all was ready, the Sultan appeared, and took his place on a
platform, surrounded by the chief nobles and officers of his court.
When they were seated, the Princess of Bengal was seen leaving the
palace, accompanied by the ladies who had been assigned to her by the
Sultan.  She slowly approached the enchanted horse, and with the help
of her ladies, she mounted on its back.  Directly she was in the
saddle, with her feet in the stirrups and the bridle in her hand, the
physician placed around the horse some large braziers full of burning
coals, into each of which he threw a perfume composed of all sorts of
delicious scents.  Then he crossed his hands over his breast, and with
lowered eyes walked three times round the horse, muttering the while
certain words.  Soon there arose from the burning braziers a thick
smoke which almost concealed both the horse and princess, and this was
the moment for which he had been waiting.  Springing lightly up behind
the lady, he leaned forward and turned the peg, and as the horse darted
up into the air, he cried aloud so that his words were heard by all
present, "Sultan of Cashmere, when you wish to marry princesses who
have sought your protection, learn first to gain their consent."

It was in this way that the Prince of Persia rescued the Princess of
Bengal, and returned with her to Persia, where they descended this time
before the palace of the King himself.  The marriage was only delayed
just long enough to make the ceremony as brilliant as possible, and, as
soon as the rejoicings were over, an ambassador was sent to the King of
Bengal, to inform him of what had passed, and to ask his approbation of
the alliance between the two countries, which he heartily gave.



The Story of Two Sisters Who Were Jealous of Their Younger Sister


Once upon a time there reigned over Persia a Sultan named Kosrouschah,
who from his boyhood had been fond of putting on a disguise and seeking
adventures in all parts of the city, accompanied by one of his
officers, disguised like himself.  And no sooner was his father buried
and the ceremonies over that marked his accession to the throne, than
the young man hastened to throw off his robes of state, and calling to
his vizir to make ready likewise, stole out in the simple dress of a
private citizen into the less known streets of the capital.

Passing down a lonely street, the Sultan heard women's voices in loud
discussion; and peeping through a crack in the door, he saw three
sisters, sitting on a sofa in a large hall, talking in a very lively
and earnest manner.  Judging from the few words that reached his ear,
they were each explaining what sort of men they wished to marry.

"I ask nothing better," cried the eldest, "than to have the Sultan's
baker for a husband.  Think of being able to eat as much as one wanted,
of that delicious bread that is baked for his Highness alone!  Let us
see if your wish is as good as mine."

"I," replied the second sister, "should be quite content with the
Sultan's head cook.  What delicate stews I should feast upon!  And, as
I am persuaded that the Sultan's bread is used all through the palace,
I should have that into the bargain.  You see, my dear sister, my taste
is as good as yours."

It was now the turn of the youngest sister, who was by far the most
beautiful of the three, and had, besides, more sense than the other
two.  "As for me," she said, "I should take a higher flight; and if we
are to wish for husbands, nothing less than the Sultan himself will do
for me."

The Sultan was so much amused by the conversation he had overheard,
that he made up his mind to gratify their wishes, and turning to the
grand-vizir, he bade him note the house, and on the following morning
to bring the ladies into his presence.

The grand-vizir fulfilled his commission, and hardly giving them time
to change their dresses, desired the three sisters to follow him to the
palace.  Here they were presented one by one, and when they had bowed
before the Sultan, the sovereign abruptly put the question to them:

"Tell me, do you remember what you wished for last night, when you were
making merry?  Fear nothing, but answer me the truth."

These words, which were so unexpected, threw the sisters into great
confusion, their eyes fell, and the blushes of the youngest did not
fail to make an impression on the heart of the Sultan.  All three
remained silent, and he hastened to continue:  "Do not be afraid, I
have not the slightest intention of giving you pain, and let me tell
you at once, that I know the wishes formed by each one.  You," he said,
turning to the youngest, "who desired to have me for an husband, shall
be satisfied this very day.  And you," he added, addressing himself to
the other two, "shall be married at the same moment to my baker and to
my chief cook."

When the Sultan had finished speaking the three sisters flung
themselves at his feet, and the youngest faltered out, "Oh, sire, since
you know my foolish words, believe, I pray you, that they were only
said in joke.  I am unworthy of the honour you propose to do me, and I
can only ask pardon for my boldness."

The other sisters also tried to excuse themselves, but the Sultan would
hear nothing.

"No, no," he said, "my mind is made up.  Your wishes shall be
accomplished."

So the three weddings were celebrated that same day, but with a great
difference.  That of the youngest was marked by all the magnificence
that was customary at the marriage of the Shah of Persia, while the
festivities attending the nuptials of the Sultan's baker and his chief
cook were only such as were suitable to their conditions.

This, though quite natural, was highly displeasing to the elder
sisters, who fell into a passion of jealousy, which in the end caused a
great deal of trouble and pain to several people.  And the first time
that they had the opportunity of speaking to each other, which was not
till several days later at a public bath, they did not attempt to
disguise their feelings.

"Can you possibly understand what the Sultan saw in that little cat,"
said one to the other, "for him to be so fascinated by her?"

"He must be quite blind," returned the wife of the chief cook.  "As for
her looking a little younger than we do, what does that matter?  You
would have made a far better Sultana than she."

"Oh, I say nothing of myself," replied the elder, "and if the Sultan
had chosen you it would have been all very well; but it really grieves
me that he should have selected a wretched little creature like that.
However, I will be revenged on her somehow, and I beg you will give me
your help in the matter, and to tell me anything that you can think of
that is likely to mortify her."

In order to carry out their wicked scheme the two sisters met
constantly to talk over their ideas, though all the while they
pretended to be as friendly as ever towards the Sultana, who, on her
part, invariably treated them with kindness.  For a long time no plan
occurred to the two plotters that seemed in the least likely to meet
with success, but at length the expected birth of an heir gave them the
chance for which they had been hoping.

They obtained permission of the Sultan to take up their abode in the
palace for some weeks, and never left their sister night or day.  When
at last a little boy, beautiful as the sun, was born, they laid him in
his cradle and carried it down to a canal which passed through the
grounds of the palace.  Then, leaving it to its fate, they informed the
Sultan that instead of the son he had so fondly desired the Sultana had
given birth to a puppy.  At this dreadful news the Sultan was so
overcome with rage and grief that it was with great difficulty that the
grand-vizir managed to save the Sultana from his wrath.

Meanwhile the cradle continued to float peacefully along the canal
till, on the outskirts of the royal gardens, it was suddenly perceived
by the intendant, one of the highest and most respected officials in
the kingdom.

"Go," he said to a gardener who was working near, "and get that cradle
out for me."

The gardener did as he was bid, and soon placed the cradle in the hands
of the intendant.

The official was much astonished to see that the cradle, which he had
supposed to be empty, contained a baby, which, young though it was,
already gave promise of great beauty.  Having no children himself,
although he had been married some years, it at once occurred to him
that here was a child which he could take and bring up as his own.
And, bidding the man pick up the cradle and follow him, he turned
towards home.

"My wife," he exclaimed as he entered the room, "heaven has denied us
any children, but here is one that has been sent in their place.  Send
for a nurse, and I will do what is needful publicly to recognise it as
my son."

The wife accepted the baby with joy, and though the intendant saw quite
well that it must have come from the royal palace, he did not think it
was his business to inquire further into the mystery.

The following year another prince was born and sent adrift, but happily
for the baby, the intendant of the gardens again was walking by the
canal, and carried it home as before.

The Sultan, naturally enough, was still more furious the second time
than the first, but when the same curious accident was repeated in the
third year he could control himself no longer, and, to the great joy of
the jealous sisters, commanded that the Sultana should be executed.
But the poor lady was so much beloved at Court that not even the dread
of sharing her fate could prevent the grand-vizir and the courtiers
from throwing themselves at the Sultan's feet and imploring him not to
inflict so cruel a punishment for what, after all, was not her fault.

"Let her live," entreated the grand-vizir, "and banish her from your
presence for the rest of her days.  That in itself will be punishment
enough."

His first passion spent, the Sultan had regained his self-command.
"Let her live then," he said, "since you have it so much at heart.  But
if I grant her life it shall only be on one condition, which shall make
her daily pray for death.  Let a box be built for her at the door of
the principal mosque, and let the window of the box be always open.
There she shall sit, in the coarsest clothes, and every Mussulman who
enters the mosque shall spit in her face in passing.  Anyone that
refuses to obey shall be exposed to the same punishment himself.  You,
vizir, will see that my orders are carried out."

The grand-vizir saw that it was useless to say more, and, full of
triumph, the sisters watched the building of the box, and then listened
to the jeers of the people at the helpless Sultana sitting inside.  But
the poor lady bore herself with so much dignity and meekness that it
was not long before she had won the sympathy of those that were best
among the crowd.

But it is now time to return to the fate of the third baby, this time a
princess.  Like its brothers, it was found by the intendant of the
gardens, and adopted by him and his wife, and all three were brought up
with the greatest care and tenderness.

As the children grew older their beauty and air of distinction became
more and more marked, and their manners had all the grace and ease that
is proper to people of high birth.  The princes had been named by their
foster-father Bahman and Perviz, after two of the ancient kings of
Persia, while the princess was called Parizade, or the child of the
genii.

The intendant was careful to bring them up as befitted their real rank,
and soon appointed a tutor to teach the young princes how to read and
write.  And the princess, determined not to be left behind, showed
herself so anxious to learn with her brothers, that the intendant
consented to her joining in their lessons, and it was not long before
she knew as much as they did.

From that time all their studies were done in common.  They had the
best masters for the fine arts, geography, poetry, history and science,
and even for sciences which are learned by few, and every branch seemed
so easy to them, that their teachers were astonished at the progress
they made.  The princess had a passion for music, and could sing and
play upon all sorts of instruments she could also ride and drive as
well as her brothers, shoot with a bow and arrow, and throw a javelin
with the same skill as they, and sometimes even better.

In order to set off these accomplishments, the intendant resolved that
his foster children should not be pent up any longer in the narrow
borders of the palace gardens, where he had always lived, so he bought
a splendid country house a few miles from the capital, surrounded by an
immense park.  This park he filled with wild beasts of various sorts,
so that the princes and princess might hunt as much as they pleased.

When everything was ready, the intendant threw himself at the Sultan's
feet, and after referring to his age and his long services, begged his
Highness's permission to resign his post.  This was granted by the
Sultan in a few gracious words, and he then inquired what reward he
could give to his faithful servant.  But the intendant declared that he
wished for nothing except the continuance of his Highness's favour, and
prostrating himself once more, he retired from the Sultan's presence.

Five or six months passed away in the pleasures of the country, when
death attacked the intendant so suddenly that he had no time to reveal
the secret of their birth to his adopted children, and as his wife had
long been dead also, it seemed as if the princes and the princess would
never know that they had been born to a higher station than the one
they filled.  Their sorrow for their father was very deep, and they
lived quietly on in their new home, without feeling any desire to leave
it for court gaieties or intrigues.

One day the princes as usual went out to hunt, but their sister
remained alone in her apartments.  While they were gone an old
Mussulman devotee appeared at the door, and asked leave to enter, as it
was the hour of prayer.  The princess sent orders at once that the old
woman was to be taken to the private oratory in the grounds, and when
she had finished her prayers was to be shown the house and gardens, and
then to be brought before her.

Although the old woman was very pious, she was not at all indifferent
to the magnificence of all around her, which she seemed to understand
as well as to admire, and when she had seen it all she was led by the
servants before the princess, who was seated in a room which surpassed
in splendour all the rest.

"My good woman," said the princess pointing to a sofa, "come and sit
beside me.  I am delighted at the opportunity of speaking for a few
moments with so holy a person."  The old woman made some objections to
so much honour being done her, but the princess refused to listen, and
insisted that her guest should take the best seat, and as she thought
she must be tired ordered refreshments.

While the old woman was eating, the princess put several questions to
her as to her mode of life, and the pious exercises she practiced, and
then inquired what she thought of the house now that she had seen it.

"Madam," replied the pilgrim, "one must be hard indeed to please to
find any fault.  It is beautiful, comfortable and well ordered, and it
is impossible to imagine anything more lovely than the garden.  But
since you ask me, I must confess that it lacks three things to make it
absolutely perfect."

"And what can they be?" cried the princess.  "Only tell me, and I will
lose no time in getting them."

"The three things, madam," replied the old woman, "are, first, the
Talking Bird, whose voice draws all other singing birds to it, to join
in chorus.  And second, the Singing Tree, where every leaf is a song
that is never silent.  And lastly the Golden Water, of which it is only
needful to pour a single drop into a basin for it to shoot up into a
fountain, which will never be exhausted, nor will the basin ever
overflow."

"Oh, how can I thank you," cried the princess, "for telling me of such
treasures!  But add, I pray you, to your goodness by further informing
me where I can find them."

"Madam," replied the pilgrim, "I should ill repay the hospitality you
have shown me if I refused to answer your question.  The three things
of which I have spoken are all to be found in one place, on the borders
of this kingdom, towards India.  Your messenger has only to follow the
road that passes by your house, for twenty days, and at the end of that
time, he is to ask the first person he meets for the Talking Bird, the
Singing Tree, and the Golden Water." She then rose, and bidding
farewell to the princess, went her way.

The old woman had taken her departure so abruptly that the Princess
Parizade did not perceive till she was really gone that the directions
were hardly clear enough to enable the search to be successful.  And
she was still thinking of the subject, and how delightful it would be
to possess such rarities, when the princes, her brothers, returned from
the chase.

"What is the matter, my sister?" asked Prince Bahman; "why are you so
grave?  Are you ill?  Or has anything happened?"

Princess Parizade did not answer directly, but at length she raised her
eyes, and replied that there was nothing wrong.

"But there must be something," persisted Prince Bahman, "for you to
have changed so much during the short time we have been absent.  Hide
nothing from us, I beseech you, unless you wish us to believe that the
confidence we have always had in one another is now to cease."

"When I said that it was nothing," said the princess, moved by his
words, "I meant that it was nothing that affected you, although I admit
that it is certainly of some importance to me.  Like myself, you have
always thought this house that our father built for us was perfect in
every respect, but only to-day I have learned that three things are
still lacking to complete it.  These are the Talking Bird, the Singing
Tree, and the Golden Water."  After explaining the peculiar qualities
of each, the princess continued:  "It was a Mussulman devotee who told
me all this, and where they might all be found.  Perhaps you will think
that the house is beautiful enough as it is, and that we can do quite
well without them; but in this I cannot agree with you, and I shall
never be content until I have got them.  So counsel me, I pray, whom to
send on the undertaking."

"My dear sister," replied Prince Bahman, "that you should care about
the matter is quite enough, even if we took no interest in it
ourselves.  But we both feel with you, and I claim, as the elder, the
right to make the first attempt, if you will tell me where I am to go,
and what steps I am to take."

Prince Perviz at first objected that, being the head of the family, his
brother ought not to be allowed to expose himself to danger; but Prince
Bahman would hear nothing, and retired to make the needful preparations
for his journey.

The next morning Prince Bahman got up very early, and after bidding
farewell to his brother and sister, mounted his horse.  But just as he
was about to touch it with his whip, he was stopped by a cry from the
princess.

"Oh, perhaps after all you may never come back; one never can tell what
accidents may happen.  Give it up, I implore you, for I would a
thousand times rather lose the Talking Bird, and the Singing Tree and
the Golden Water, than that you should run into danger."

"My dear sister," answered the prince, "accidents only happen to
unlucky people, and I hope that I am not one of them.  But as
everything is uncertain, I promise you to be very careful.  Take this
knife," he continued, handing her one that hung sheathed from his belt,
"and every now and then draw it out and look at it.  As long as it
keeps bright and clean as it is to-day, you will know that I am living;
but if the blade is spotted with blood, it will be a sign that I am
dead, and you shall weep for me."

So saying, Prince Bahman bade them farewell once more, and started on
the high road, well mounted and fully armed.  For twenty days he rode
straight on, turning neither to the right hand nor to the left, till he
found himself drawing near the frontiers of Persia.  Seated under a
tree by the wayside he noticed a hideous old man, with a long white
moustache, and beard that almost fell to his feet.  His nails had grown
to an enormous length, and on his head he wore a huge hat, which served
him for an umbrella.

Prince Bahman, who, remembering the directions of the old woman, had
been since sunrise on the look-out for some one, recognised the old man
at once to be a dervish.  He dismounted from his horse, and bowed low
before the holy man, saying by way of greeting, "My father, may your
days be long in the land, and may all your wishes be fulfilled!"

The dervish did his best to reply, but his moustache was so thick that
his words were hardly intelligible, and the prince, perceiving what was
the matter, took a pair of scissors from his saddle pockets, and
requested permission to cut off some of the moustache, as he had a
question of great importance to ask the dervish.  The dervish made a
sign that he might do as he liked, and when a few inches of his hair
and beard had been pruned all round the prince assured the holy man
that he would hardly believe how much younger he looked.  The dervish
smiled at his compliments, and thanked him for what he had done.

"Let me," he said, "show you my gratitude for making me more
comfortable by telling me what I can do for you."

"Gentle dervish," replied Prince Bahman, "I come from far, and I seek
the Talking Bird, the Singing Tree, and the Golden Water.  I know that
they are to be found somewhere in these parts, but I am ignorant of the
exact spot.  Tell me, I pray you, if you can, so that I may not have
travelled on a useless quest."  While he was speaking, the prince
observed a change in the countenance of the dervish, who waited for
some time before he made reply.

"My lord," he said at last, "I do know the road for which you ask, but
your kindness and the friendship I have conceived for you make me loth
to point it out."

"But why not?" inquired the prince.  "What danger can there be?"

"The very greatest danger," answered the dervish.  "Other men, as brave
as you, have ridden down this road, and have put me that question.  I
did my best to turn them also from their purpose, but it was of no use.
Not one of them would listen to my words, and not one of them came
back.  Be warned in time, and seek to go no further."

"I am grateful to you for your interest in me," said Prince Bahman,
"and for the advice you have given, though I cannot follow it.  But
what dangers can there be in the adventure which courage and a good
sword cannot meet?"

"And suppose," answered the dervish, "that your enemies are invisible,
how then?"

"Nothing will make me give it up," replied the prince, "and for the
last time I ask you to tell me where I am to go."

When the dervish saw that the prince's mind was made up, he drew a ball
from a bag that lay near him, and held it out.  "If it must be so," he
said, with a sigh, "take this, and when you have mounted your horse
throw the ball in front of you.  It will roll on till it reaches the
foot of a mountain, and when it stops you will stop also.  You will
then throw the bridle on your horse's neck without any fear of his
straying, and will dismount.  On each side you will see vast heaps of
big black stones, and will hear a multitude of insulting voices, but
pay no heed to them, and, above all, beware of ever turning your head.
If you do, you will instantly become a black stone like the rest.  For
those stones are in reality men like yourself, who have been on the
same quest, and have failed, as I fear that you may fail also.  If you
manage to avoid this pitfall, and to reach the top of the mountain, you
will find there the Talking Bird in a splendid cage, and you can ask of
him where you are to seek the Singing Tree and the Golden Water.  That
is all I have to say.  You know what you have to do, and what to avoid,
but if you are wise you will think of it no more, but return whence you
have come."

The prince smilingly shook his head, and thanking the dervish once
more, he sprang on his horse and threw the ball before him.

The ball rolled along the road so fast that Prince Bahman had much
difficulty in keeping up with it, and it never relaxed its speed till
the foot of the mountain was reached.  Then it came to a sudden halt,
and the prince at once got down and flung the bridle on his horse's
neck.  He paused for a moment and looked round him at the masses of
black stones with which the sides of the mountain were covered, and
then began resolutely to ascend.  He had hardly gone four steps when he
heard the sound of voices around him, although not another creature was
in sight.

"Who is this imbecile?" cried some, "stop him at once."  "Kill him,"
shrieked others, "Help! robbers! murderers! help! help!"  "Oh, let him
alone," sneered another, and this was the most trying of all, "he is
such a beautiful young man; I am sure the bird and the cage must have
been kept for him."

At first the prince took no heed to all this clamour, but continued to
press forward on his way.  Unfortunately this conduct, instead of
silencing the voices, only seemed to irritate them the more, and they
arose with redoubled fury, in front as well as behind.  After some time
he grew bewildered, his knees began to tremble, and finding himself in
the act of falling, he forgot altogether the advice of the dervish.  He
turned to fly down the mountain, and in one moment became a black stone.

As may be imagined, Prince Perviz and his sister were all this time in
the greatest anxiety, and consulted the magic knife, not once but many
times a day.  Hitherto the blade had remained bright and spotless, but
on the fatal hour on which Prince Bahman and his horse were changed
into black stones, large drops of blood appeared on the surface.  "Ah!
my beloved brother," cried the princess in horror, throwing the knife
from her, "I shall never see you again, and it is I who have killed
you.  Fool that I was to listen to the voice of that temptress, who
probably was not speaking the truth.  What are the Talking Bird and the
Singing Tree to me in comparison with you, passionately though I long
for them!"

Prince Perviz's grief at his brother's loss was not less than that of
Princess Parizade, but he did not waste his time on useless
lamentations.

"My sister," he said, "why should you think the old woman was deceiving
you about these treasures, and what would have been her object in doing
so!  No, no, our brother must have met his death by some accident, or
want of precaution, and to-morrow I will start on the same quest."

Terrified at the thought that she might lose her only remaining
brother, the princess entreated him to give up his project, but he
remained firm.  Before setting out, however, he gave her a chaplet of a
hundred pearls, and said, "When I am absent, tell this over daily for
me.  But if you should find that the beads stick, so that they will not
slip one after the other, you will know that my brother's fate has
befallen me.  Still, we must hope for better luck."

Then he departed, and on the twentieth day of his journey fell in with
the dervish on the same spot as Prince Bahman had met him, and began to
question him as to the place where the Talking Bird, the Singing Tree
and the Golden Water were to be found.  As in the case of his brother,
the dervish tried to make him give up his project, and even told him
that only a few weeks since a young man, bearing a strong resemblance
to himself, had passed that way, but had never come back again.

"That, holy dervish," replied Prince Perviz, "was my elder brother, who
is now dead, though how he died I cannot say."

"He is changed into a black stone," answered the dervish, "like all the
rest who have gone on the same errand, and you will become one likewise
if you are not more careful in following my directions." Then he
charged the prince, as he valued his life, to take no heed of the
clamour of voices that would pursue him up the mountain, and handing
him a ball from the bag, which still seemed to be half full, he sent
him on his way.

When Prince Perviz reached the foot of the mountain he jumped from his
horse, and paused for a moment to recall the instructions the dervish
had given him.  Then he strode boldly on, but had scarcely gone five or
six paces when he was startled by a man's voice that seemed close to
his ear, exclaiming:  "Stop, rash fellow, and let me punish your
audacity."  This outrage entirely put the dervish's advice out of the
prince's head.  He drew his sword, and turned to avenge himself, but
almost before he had realised that there was nobody there, he and his
horse were two black stones.

Not a morning had passed since Prince Perviz had ridden away without
Princess Parizade telling her beads, and at night she even hung them
round her neck, so that if she woke she could assure herself at once of
her brother's safety.  She was in the very act of moving them through
her fingers at the moment that the prince fell a victim to his
impatience, and her heart sank when the first pearl remained fixed in
its place.  However she had long made up her mind what she would do in
such a case, and the following morning the princess, disguised as a
man, set out for the mountain.

As she had been accustomed to riding from her childhood, she managed to
travel as many miles daily as her brothers had done, and it was, as
before, on the twentieth day that she arrived at the place where the
dervish was sitting.  "Good dervish," she said politely, "will you
allow me to rest by you for a few moments, and perhaps you will be so
kind as to tell me if you have ever heard of a Talking Bird, a Singing
Tree, and some Golden Water that are to be found somewhere near this?"

"Madam," replied the dervish, "for in spite of your manly dress your
voice betrays you, I shall be proud to serve you in any way I can.  But
may I ask the purpose of your question?"

"Good dervish," answered the princess, "I have heard such glowing
descriptions of these three things, that I cannot rest till I possess
them."

"Madam," said the dervish, "they are far more beautiful than any
description, but you seem ignorant of all the difficulties that stand
in your way, or you would hardly have undertaken such an adventure.
Give it up, I pray you, and return home, and do not ask me to help you
to a cruel death."

"Holy father," answered the princess, "I come from far, and I should be
in despair if I turned back without having attained my object.  You
have spoken of difficulties; tell me, I entreat you, what they are, so
that I may know if I can overcome them, or see if they are beyond my
strength."

So the dervish repeated his tale, and dwelt more firmly than before on
the clamour of the voices, the horrors of the black stones, which were
once living men, and the difficulties of climbing the mountain; and
pointed out that the chief means of success was never to look behind
till you had the cage in your grasp.

"As far as I can see," said the princess, "the first thing is not to
mind the tumult of the voices that follow you till you reach the cage,
and then never to look behind.  As to this, I think I have enough
self-control to look straight before me; but as it is quite possible
that I might be frightened by the voices, as even the boldest men have
been, I will stop up my ears with cotton, so that, let them make as
much noise as they like, I shall hear nothing."

"Madam," cried the dervish, "out of all the number who have asked me
the way to the mountain, you are the first who has ever suggested such
a means of escaping the danger!  It is possible that you may succeed,
but all the same, the risk is great."

"Good dervish," answered the princess, "I feel in my heart that I shall
succeed, and it only remains for me to ask you the way I am to go."

Then the dervish said that it was useless to say more, and he gave her
the ball, which she flung before her.

The first thing the princess did on arriving at the mountain was to
stop her ears with cotton, and then, making up her mind which was the
best way to go, she began her ascent.  In spite of the cotton, some
echoes of the voices reached her ears, but not so as to trouble her.
Indeed, though they grew louder and more insulting the higher she
climbed, the princess only laughed, and said to herself that she
certainly would not let a few rough words stand between her and the
goal.  At last she perceived in the distance the cage and the bird,
whose voice joined itself in tones of thunder to those of the rest:
"Return, return! never dare to come near me."

At the sight of the bird, the princess hastened her steps, and without
vexing herself at the noise which by this time had grown deafening, she
walked straight up to the cage, and seizing it, she said: "Now, my
bird, I have got you, and I shall take good care that you do not
escape."  As she spoke she took the cotton from her ears, for it was
needed no longer.

"Brave lady," answered the bird, "do not blame me for having joined my
voice to those who did their best to preserve my freedom.  Although
confined in a cage, I was content with my lot, but if I must become a
slave, I could not wish for a nobler mistress than one who has shown so
much constancy, and from this moment I swear to serve you faithfully.
Some day you will put me to the proof, for I know who you are better
than you do yourself.  Meanwhile, tell me what I can do, and I will
obey you."

"Bird," replied the princess, who was filled with a joy that seemed
strange to herself when she thought that the bird had cost her the
lives of both her brothers, "bird, let me first thank you for your good
will, and then let me ask you where the Golden Water is to be found."

The bird described the place, which was not far distant, and the
princess filled a small silver flask that she had brought with her for
the purpose.  She then returned to the cage, and said:  "Bird, there is
still something else, where shall I find the Singing Tree?"

"Behind you, in that wood," replied the bird, and the princess wandered
through the wood, till a sound of the sweetest voices told her she had
found what she sought.  But the tree was tall and strong, and it was
hopeless to think of uprooting it.

"You need not do that," said the bird, when she had returned to ask
counsel.  "Break off a twig, and plant it in your garden, and it will
take root, and grow into a magnificent tree."

When the Princess Parizade held in her hands the three wonders promised
her by the old woman, she said to the bird:  "All that is not enough.
It was owing to you that my brothers became black stones.  I cannot
tell them from the mass of others, but you must know, and point them
out to me, I beg you, for I wish to carry them away."

For some reason that the princess could not guess these words seemed to
displease the bird, and he did not answer.  The princess waited a
moment, and then continued in severe tones, "Have you forgotten that
you yourself said that you are my slave to do my bidding, and also that
your life is in my power?"

"No, I have not forgotten," replied the bird, "but what you ask is very
difficult.  However, I will do my best.  If you look round," he went
on, "you will see a pitcher standing near.  Take it, and, as you go
down the mountain, scatter a little of the water it contains over every
black stone and you will soon find your two brothers."

Princess Parizade took the pitcher, and, carrying with her besides the
cage the twig and the flask, returned down the mountain side.  At every
black stone she stopped and sprinkled it with water, and as the water
touched it the stone instantly became a man.  When she suddenly saw her
brothers before her her delight was mixed with astonishment.

"Why, what are you doing here?" she cried.

"We have been asleep," they said.

"Yes," returned the princess, "but without me your sleep would probably
have lasted till the day of judgment.  Have you forgotten that you came
here in search of the Talking Bird, the Singing Tree, and the Golden
Water, and the black stones that were heaped up along the road?  Look
round and see if there is one left.  These gentlemen, and yourselves,
and all your horses were changed into these stones, and I have
delivered you by sprinkling you with the water from this pitcher.  As I
could not return home without you, even though I had gained the prizes
on which I had set my heart, I forced the Talking Bird to tell me how
to break the spell."

On hearing these words Prince Bahman and Prince Perviz understood all
they owed their sister, and the knights who stood by declared
themselves her slaves and ready to carry out her wishes.  But the
princess, while thanking them for their politeness, explained that she
wished for no company but that of her brothers, and that the rest were
free to go where they would.

So saying the princess mounted her horse, and, declining to allow even
Prince Bahman to carry the cage with the Talking Bird, she entrusted
him with the branch of the Singing Tree, while Prince Perviz took care
of the flask containing the Golden Water.

Then they rode away, followed by the knights and gentlemen, who begged
to be permitted to escort them.

It had been the intention of the party to stop and tell their
adventures to the dervish, but they found to their sorrow that he was
dead, whether from old age, or whether from the feeling that his task
was done, they never knew.

As they continued their road their numbers grew daily smaller, for the
knights turned off one by one to their own homes, and only the brothers
and sister finally drew up at the gate of the palace.

The princess carried the cage straight into the garden, and, as soon as
the bird began to sing, nightingales, larks, thrushes, finches, and all
sorts of other birds mingled their voices in chorus.  The branch she
planted in a corner near the house, and in a few days it had grown into
a great tree.  As for the Golden Water it was poured into a great
marble basin specially prepared for it, and it swelled and bubbled and
then shot up into the air in a fountain twenty feet high.

The fame of these wonders soon spread abroad, and people came from far
and near to see and admire.

After a few days Prince Bahman and Prince Perviz fell back into their
ordinary way of life, and passed most of their time hunting.  One day
it happened that the Sultan of Persia was also hunting in the same
direction, and, not wishing to interfere with his sport, the young men,
on hearing the noise of the hunt approaching, prepared to retire, but,
as luck would have it, they turned into the very path down which the
Sultan was coming.  They threw themselves from their horses and
prostrated themselves to the earth, but the Sultan was curious to see
their faces, and commanded them to rise.

The princes stood up respectfully, but quite at their ease, and the
Sultan looked at them for a few moments without speaking, then he asked
who they were and where they lived.

"Sire," replied Prince Bahman, "we are sons of your Highness's late
intendant of the gardens, and we live in a house that he built a short
time before his death, waiting till an occasion should offer itself to
serve your Highness."

"You seem fond of hunting," answered the Sultan.

"Sire," replied Prince Bahman, "it is our usual exercise, and one that
should be neglected by no man who expects to comply with the ancient
customs of the kingdom and bear arms."

The Sultan was delighted with this remark, and said at once, "In that
case I shall take great pleasure in watching you.  Come, choose what
sort of beasts you would like to hunt."

The princes jumped on their horses and followed the Sultan at a little
distance.  They had not gone very far before they saw a number of wild
animals appear at once, and Prince Bahman started to give chase to a
lion and Prince Perviz to a bear.  Both used their javelins with such
skill that, directly they arrived within striking range, the lion and
the bear fell, pierced through and through.  Then Prince Perviz pursued
a lion and Prince Bahman a bear, and in a very few minutes they, too,
lay dead.  As they were making ready for a third assault the Sultan
interfered, and, sending one of his officials to summon them, he said
smiling, "If I let you go on, there will soon be no beasts left to
hunt.  Besides, your courage and manners have so won my heart that I
will not have you expose yourselves to further danger.  I am convinced
that some day or other I shall find you useful as well as agreeable."

He then gave them a warm invitation to stay with him altogether, but
with many thanks for the honour done them, they begged to be excused,
and to be suffered to remain at home.

The Sultan who was not accustomed to see his offers rejected inquired
their reasons, and Prince Bahman explained that they did not wish to
leave their sister, and were accustomed to do nothing without
consulting all three together.

"Ask her advice, then," replied the Sultan, "and to-morrow come and
hunt with me, and give me your answer."

The two princes returned home, but their adventure made so little
impression on them that they quite forgot to speak to their sister on
the subject.  The next morning when they went to hunt they met the
Sultan in the same place, and he inquired what advice their sister had
given.  The young men looked at each other and blushed.  At last Prince
Bahman said, "Sire, we must throw ourselves on your Highness's mercy.
Neither my brother nor myself remembered anything about it."

"Then be sure you do not forget to-day," answered the Sultan, "and
bring me back your reply to-morrow."

When, however, the same thing happened a second time, they feared that
the Sultan might be angry with them for their carelessness.  But he
took it in good part, and, drawing three little golden balls from his
purse, he held them out to Prince Bahman, saying, "Put these in your
bosom and you will not forget a third time, for when you remove your
girdle to-night the noise they will make in falling will remind you of
my wishes."

It all happened as the Sultan had foreseen, and the two brothers
appeared in their sister's apartments just as she was in the act of
stepping into bed, and told their tale.

The Princess Parizade was much disturbed at the news, and did not
conceal her feelings.  "Your meeting with the Sultan is very honourable
to you," she said, "and will, I dare say, be of service to you, but it
places me in a very awkward position.  It is on my account, I know,
that you have resisted the Sultan's wishes, and I am very grateful to
you for it.  But kings do not like to have their offers refused, and in
time he would bear a grudge against you, which would render me very
unhappy.  Consult the Talking Bird, who is wise and far-seeing, and let
me hear what he says."

So the bird was sent for and the case laid before him.

"The princes must on no account refuse the Sultan's proposal," said he,
"and they must even invite him to come and see your house."

"But, bird," objected the princess, "you know how dearly we love each
other; will not all this spoil our friendship?"

"Not at all," replied the bird, "it will make it all the closer."

"Then the Sultan will have to see me," said the princess.

The bird answered that it was necessary that he should see her, and
everything would turn out for the best.

The following morning, when the Sultan inquired if they had spoken to
their sister and what advice she had given them, Prince Bahman replied
that they were ready to agree to his Highness's wishes, and that their
sister had reproved them for their hesitation about the matter.  The
Sultan received their excuses with great kindness, and told them that
he was sure they would be equally faithful to him, and kept them by his
side for the rest of the day, to the vexation of the grand-vizir and
the rest of the court.

When the procession entered in this order the gates of the capital, the
eyes of the people who crowded the streets were fixed on the two young
men, strangers to every one.

"Oh, if only the Sultan had had sons like that!" they murmured, "they
look so distinguished and are about the same age that his sons would
have been!"

The Sultan commanded that splendid apartments should be prepared for
the two brothers, and even insisted that they should sit at table with
him.  During dinner he led the conversation to various scientific
subjects, and also to history, of which he was especially fond, but
whatever topic they might be discussing he found that the views of the
young men were always worth listening to.  "If they were my own sons,"
he said to himself, "they could not be better educated!" and aloud he
complimented them on their learning and taste for knowledge.

At the end of the evening the princes once more prostrated themselves
before the throne and asked leave to return home; and then, encouraged
by the gracious words of farewell uttered by the Sultan, Prince Bahman
said:  "Sire, may we dare to take the liberty of asking whether you
would do us and our sister the honour of resting for a few minutes at
our house the first time the hunt passes that way?"

"With the utmost pleasure," replied the Sultan; "and as I am all
impatience to see the sister of such accomplished young men you may
expect me the day after to-morrow."

The princess was of course most anxious to entertain the Sultan in a
fitting way, but as she had no experience in court customs she ran to
the Talking Bird, and begged he would advise her as to what dishes
should be served.

"My dear mistress," replied the bird, "your cooks are very good and you
can safely leave all to them, except that you must be careful to have a
dish of cucumbers, stuffed with pearl sauce, served with the first
course."

"Cucumbers stuffed with pearls!" exclaimed the princess.  "Why, bird,
who ever heard of such a dish?  The Sultan will expect a dinner he can
eat, and not one he can only admire!  Besides, if I were to use all the
pearls I possess, they would not be half enough."

"Mistress," replied the bird, "do what I tell you and nothing but good
will come of it.  And as to the pearls, if you go at dawn to-morrow and
dig at the foot of the first tree in the park, on the right hand, you
will find as many as you want."

The princess had faith in the bird, who generally proved to be right,
and taking the gardener with her early next morning followed out his
directions carefully.  After digging for some time they came upon a
golden box fastened with little clasps.

These were easily undone, and the box was found to be full of pearls,
not very large ones, but well-shaped and of a good colour.  So leaving
the gardener to fill up the hole he had made under the tree, the
princess took up the box and returned to the house.

The two princes had seen her go out, and had wondered what could have
made her rise so early.  Full of curiosity they got up and dressed, and
met their sister as she was returning with the box under her arm.

"What have you been doing?" they asked, "and did the gardener come to
tell you he had found a treasure?"

"On the contrary," replied the princess, "it is I who have found one,"
and opening the box she showed her astonished brothers the pearls
inside.  Then, on the way back to the palace, she told them of her
consultation with the bird, and the advice it had given her.  All three
tried to guess the meaning of the singular counsel, but they were
forced at last to admit the explanation was beyond them, and they must
be content blindly to obey.

The first thing the princess did on entering the palace was to send for
the head cook and to order the repast for the Sultan When she had
finished she suddenly added, "Besides the dishes I have mentioned there
is one that you must prepare expressly for the Sultan, and that no one
must touch but yourself.  It consists of a stuffed cucumber, and the
stuffing is to be made of these pearls."

The head cook, who had never in all his experience heard of such a
dish, stepped back in amazement.

"You think I am mad," answered the princess, who perceived what was in
his mind.  "But I know quite well what I am doing.  Go, and do your
best, and take the pearls with you."

The next morning the princes started for the forest, and were soon
joined by the Sultan.  The hunt began and continued till mid-day, when
the heat became so great that they were obliged to leave off.  Then, as
arranged, they turned their horses' heads towards the palace, and while
Prince Bahman remained by the side of the Sultan, Prince Perviz rode on
to warn his sister of their approach.

The moment his Highness entered the courtyard, the princess flung
herself at his feet, but he bent and raised her, and gazed at her for
some time, struck with her grace and beauty, and also with the
indefinable air of courts that seemed to hang round this country girl.
"They are all worthy one of the other," he said to himself, "and I am
not surprised that they think so much of her opinions.  I must know
more of them."

By this time the princess had recovered from the first embarrassment of
meeting, and proceeded to make her speech of welcome.

"This is only a simple country house, sire," she said, "suitable to
people like ourselves, who live a quiet life.  It cannot compare with
the great city mansions, much less, of course, with the smallest of the
Sultan's palaces."

"I cannot quite agree with you," he replied; "even the little that I
have seen I admire greatly, and I will reserve my judgment until you
have shown me the whole."

The princess then led the way from room to room, and the Sultan
examined everything carefully.  "Do you call this a simple country
house?" he said at last.  "Why, if every country house was like this,
the towns would soon be deserted.  I am no longer astonished that you
do not wish to leave it.  Let us go into the gardens, which I am sure
are no less beautiful than the rooms."

A small door opened straight into the garden, and the first object that
met the Sultan's eyes was the Golden Water.

"What lovely coloured water!" he exclaimed; "where is the spring, and
how do you make the fountain rise so high?  I do not believe there is
anything like it in the world."  He went forward to examine it, and
when he had satisfied his curiosity, the princess conducted him towards
the Singing Tree.

As they drew near, the Sultan was startled by the sound of strange
voices, but could see nothing.  "Where have you hidden your musicians?"
he asked the princess; "are they up in the air, or under the earth?
Surely the owners of such charming voices ought not to conceal
themselves!"

"Sire," answered the princess, "the voices all come from the tree which
is straight in front of us; and if you will deign to advance a few
steps, you will see that they become clearer."

The Sultan did as he was told, and was so wrapt in delight at what he
heard that he stood some time in silence.

"Tell me, madam, I pray you," he said at last, "how this marvellous
tree came into your garden?  It must have been brought from a great
distance, or else, fond as I am of all curiosities, I could not have
missed hearing of it!  What is its name?"

"The only name it has, sire," replied she, "is the Singing Tree, and it
is not a native of this country.  Its history is mixed up with those of
the Golden Water and the Talking Bird, which you have not yet seen.  If
your Highness wishes I will tell you the whole story, when you have
recovered from your fatigue."

"Indeed, madam," returned he, "you show me so many wonders that it is
impossible to feel any fatigue.  Let us go once more and look at the
Golden Water; and I am dying to see the Talking Bird."

The Sultan could hardly tear himself away from the Golden Water, which
puzzled him more and more.  "You say," he observed to the princess,
"that this water does not come from any spring, neither is brought by
pipes.  All I understand is, that neither it nor the Singing Tree is a
native of this country."

"It is as you say, sire," answered the princess, "and if you examine
the basin, you will see that it is all in one piece, and therefore the
water could not have been brought through it.  What is more astonishing
is, that I only emptied a small flaskful into the basin, and it
increased to the quantity you now see."

"Well, I will look at it no more to-day," said the Sultan.  "Take me to
the Talking Bird."

On approaching the house, the Sultan noticed a vast quantity of birds,
whose voices filled the air, and he inquired why they were so much more
numerous here than in any other part of the garden.

"Sire," answered the princess, "do you see that cage hanging in one of
the windows of the saloon? that is the Talking Bird, whose voice you
can hear above them all, even above that of the nightingale.  And the
birds crowd to this spot, to add their songs to his."

The Sultan stepped through the window, but the bird took no notice,
continuing his song as before.

"My slave," said the princess, "this is the Sultan; make him a pretty
speech."

The bird stopped singing at once, and all the other birds stopped too.

"The Sultan is welcome," he said.  "I wish him long life and all
prosperity."

"I thank you, good bird," answered the Sultan, seating himself before
the repast, which was spread at a table near the window, "and I am
enchanted to see in you the Sultan and King of the Birds."

The Sultan, noticing that his favourite dish of cucumber was placed
before him, proceeded to help himself to it, and was amazed to and that
the stuffing was of pearls.  "A novelty, indeed!" cried he, "but I do
not understand the reason of it; one cannot eat pearls!"

"Sire," replied the bird, before either the princes or the princess
could speak, "surely your Highness cannot be so surprised at beholding
a cucumber stuffed with pearls, when you believed without any
difficulty that the Sultana had presented you, instead of children,
with a dog, a cat, and a log of wood."

"I believed it," answered the Sultan, "because the women attending on
her told me so."

"The women, sire," said the bird, "were the sisters of the Sultana, who
were devoured with jealousy at the honour you had done her, and in
order to revenge themselves invented this story.  Have them examined,
and they will confess their crime.  These are your children, who were
saved from death by the intendant of your gardens, and brought up by
him as if they were his own."

Like a flash the truth came to the mind of the Sultan.  "Bird," he
cried, "my heart tells me that what you say is true.  My children," he
added, "let me embrace you, and embrace each other, not only as
brothers and sister, but as having in you the blood royal of Persia
which could flow in no nobler veins."

When the first moments of emotion were over, the Sultan hastened to
finish his repast, and then turning to his children he exclaimed:
"To-day you have made acquaintance with your father.  To-morrow I will
bring you the Sultana your mother.  Be ready to receive her."

The Sultan then mounted his horse and rode quickly back to the capital.
Without an instant's delay he sent for the grand-vizir, and ordered him
to seize and question the Sultana's sisters that very day.  This was
done.  They were confronted with each other and proved guilty, and were
executed in less than an hour.

But the Sultan did not wait to hear that his orders had been carried
out before going on foot, followed by his whole court to the door of
the great mosque, and drawing the Sultana with his own hand out of the
narrow prison where she had spent so many years, "Madam," he cried,
embracing her with tears in his eyes, "I have come to ask your pardon
for the injustice I have done you, and to repair it as far as I may.  I
have already begun by punishing the authors of this abominable crime,
and I hope you will forgive me when I introduce you to our children,
who are the most charming and accomplished creatures in the whole
world.  Come with me, and take back your position and all the honour
that is due to you."

This speech was delivered in the presence of a vast multitude of
people, who had gathered from all parts on the first hint of what was
happening, and the news was passed from mouth to mouth in a few seconds.

Early next day the Sultan and Sultana, dressed in robes of state and
followed by all the court, set out for the country house of their
children.  Here the Sultan presented them to the Sultana one by one,
and for some time there was nothing but embraces and tears and tender
words.  Then they ate of the magnificent dinner which had been prepared
for them, and after they were all refreshed they went into the garden,
where the Sultan pointed out to his wife the Golden Water and the
Singing Tree.  As to the Talking Bird, she had already made
acquaintance with him.

In the evening they rode together back to the capital, the princes on
each side of their father, and the princess with her mother.  Long
before they reached the gates the way was lined with people, and the
air filled with shouts of welcome, with which were mingled the songs of
the Talking Bird, sitting in its cage on the lap of the princess, and
of the birds who followed it.

And in this manner they came back to their father's palace.





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