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Title: The Thousand and One Days - A Companion to the 'Arabian Nights'
Author: Pardoe, Julia, 1804-1862
Language: English
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The Thousand and One Days;

A COMPANION TO THE

"_Arabian Nights._"

WITH INTRODUCTION BY MISS PARDOE.

[Illustration: P. 113.]

LONDON:
WILLIAM LAY, KING WILLIAM STREET, STRAND.
1857.



INTRODUCTION.


The Compiler of the graceful little volume which I have the pleasure
of introducing to the public, has conferred an undeniable benefit upon
the youth of England by presenting to them a collection of Oriental
Tales, which, rich in the elements of interest and entertainment, are
nevertheless entirely free from the licentiousness which renders so
many of the fictions of the East, beautiful and brilliant as they are,
most objectionable for young and ardent minds. There is indeed no lack
of the wonderful in the pages before us, any more than in the Arabian
and Persian Tales already so well known: but it will be seen that the
supernatural agency in the narratives is used as a means to work out
totally different results. There is, in truth, scarcely one of these
Tales which does not inculcate a valuable moral lesson; as may be seen
by reference to "The Powder of Longevity," "The Old Camel," and "The
Story of the Dervise Abounadar" among several, others.

The present collection of Eastern Stories has been principally derived
from the works of different Oriental Scholars on the Continent, and
little doubt can be entertained of the genuineness of their origin;
while they have been carefully selected, and do honour to the good
taste of their Compiler. An acknowledgment is also due to him for his
adherence to the good old orthography to which we have all been
accustomed from our childhood, in the case of such titles as "Caliph,"
"Vizier," "Houri," "Genii," &c.; as, however critically correct and
learned the spelling of Mr. Lane may be in his magnificent version of
the "Thousand and One Nights," and however appropriate to a work of so
much research and value to Oriental students, it would have been alike
fatiguing and out of character to have embarrassed a volume, simply
intended for the amusement of youthful readers, by a number of hard
and unfamiliar words, difficult of pronunciation to all save the
initiated; and for the pleasure of the young requiring translation
fully as much as the narrative itself.

In one of the Tales there will be at once detected a portion of the
favourite old story of Aladdin's Lamp, in the subterranean gem-garden
discovered by the handsome youth; while in another, mention is made
of the already-familiar legend of the hidden city of Ad, so popular
among the ancient Arabs[1]; but these repetitions will cease to create
any surprise when it is remembered that the professional story-tellers
of the East are a wandering race, who travel from city to city,
exhibiting their talent during seasons of festivity, in the palaces of
the wealthy and the public coffee-houses. Those admitted to the
women's apartments are universally aged crones, whose volubility is
something marvellous; and they are always welcome guests to the
indolent beauties, who listen to them for hours together without a
symptom of weariness, as they pour forth their narratives in a
monotonous voice strangely displeasing to European ears. The men,
while reciting their tales, indulge in violent gesticulations and
contortions of the body, which appear to produce great delight in
their audience. Since they generally travel two or three in company;
and, save in rare cases of improvisation, their stock of narrative is
common to all, it is their ambition so individually to embellish,
heighten, and amplify their subject-matter, as to outshine their
competitors; and it is consequently to this cause that the numerous
variations of the same Tale which have reached Europe must be
attributed.

Taken altogether, there can be no doubt that the "Thousand and One
Days" merit the warm welcome which I trust awaits them.

J. P.

LONDON, FEB. 1857.



CONTENTS.


I.
                                                             PAGE
HASSAN ABDALLAH, OR THE ENCHANTED KEYS                          1
  Story of Hassan                                               7
  Story of the Basket-Maker                                    11
  Story of the Dervise Abounadar                               21
  Conclusion of the Story of Hassan                            29


II.

SOLIMAN BEY AND THE THREE STORY TELLERS                        46
  First Story Teller                                           47
  Second Story Teller                                          49
  Third Story Teller                                           55


III.

PRINCE KHALAF AND THE PRINCESS OF CHINA                        58
  Story of Prince Al Abbas                                     67
  Continuation of Prince Khalaf and the Princess of China      99
  Story of Lin-in                                             106
  Story of Prince Khalaf concluded                            126


IV.

THE WISE DEY                                                  178


V.

THE TUNISIAN SAGE                                             190


VI.

THE NOSE FOR GOLD                                             203


VII.

THE TREASURES OF BASRA                                        215
  History of Aboulcassem                                      223
  Conclusion of the Treasures of Basra                        230


VIII.

THE OLD CAMEL                                                250


IX.

THE STORY OF MEDJEDDIN                                       263


X.

KING BEDREDDIN-LOLO AND HIS VIZIR                             299
  Story of the Old Slippers                                   300
  Story of Atalmulc the Sorrowful                             305
  Continuation of King Bedreddin-Lolo and his Vizir           338
  Story of Malek and the Princess Schirine                    340
  Conclusion                                                  358

[Illustration]



THE "THOUSAND AND ONE DAYS;"

OR,

ARABIAN TALES.



I.

THE STORY OF HASSAN ABDALLAH; OR, THE ENCHANTED KEYS.


Theilon, caliph of Egypt, died, after having bequeathed his power to
his son, Mohammed, who, like a wise and good prince, proceeded to root
out abuses, and finally caused peace and justice to flourish
throughout his dominions. Instead of oppressing his people by new
taxes, he employed the treasures, which his father had amassed by
violence, in supporting learned men, rewarding the brave, and
assisting the unfortunate. Every thing succeeded under his happy sway;
the risings of the Nile were regular and abundant; every year the soil
produced rich harvests; and commerce, honoured and protected, caused
the gold of foreign nations to flow abundantly into the ports of
Egypt.

Mohammed determined, one day, to take the census of the officers of
his army, and of all the persons in public situations whose salaries
were paid out of the treasury. The vizirs, to the number of forty,
first made their appearance and knelt in succession before the
sovereign. They were, for the most part, men venerable from their age,
and some of them had long beards of snowy whiteness. They all wore on
their heads tiaras of gold, enriched with precious stones, and carried
in their hands long staves as badges of their power. One enumerated
the battles in which he had been engaged, and the honourable wounds he
had received; another recounted the long and laborious studies he had
pursued, in order to render himself master of the various sciences,
and to qualify himself to serve the state by his wisdom and knowledge.

After the vizirs, came the governors of provinces, the generals, and
the great officers of the army; and next to them the civil
magistrates, and all who were entrusted with the preservation of the
peace and the awarding of justice. Behind these walked the public
executioner, who, although stout and well-fed, like a man who had
nothing to do, went along as if depressed with grief, and instead of
carrying his sword naked on his shoulder, he kept it in its scabbard.
When he came into the presence of the prince, he threw himself at his
feet, and exclaimed, "O mighty prince, the day of justice and of
munificence is at last about to dawn on me! Since the death of the
terrible Theilon, under whose reign my life was happy and my condition
prosperous, I have seen my occupation and its emoluments diminish
daily. If Egypt continue thus to live in peace and plenty, I shall run
great danger of perishing with hunger, and my family will be brought
to misery and ruin."

Mohammed listened in silence to the complaints of the headsman, and
acknowledged that there was some foundation for them, for his salary
was small, and the chief part of his profits arose from what he
obtained from criminals, either by way of gift, or as a rightful fee.
In times of trouble, quarrelling, and violence, he had lived, in
fact, in a state of ease and affluence, while now, under the present
prosperous reign, he had nothing better than the prospect of beggary
before him.

"Is it then true," exclaimed the caliph, "that the happiness of all is
a dream? that what is joy to one, may be the cause of grief to
another? O executioner, fear not as to your fate! May it, indeed,
please God that, under my reign, your sword,--which is almost as often
an instrument of vengeance as of justice,--may remain useless and
covered with rust. But, in order to enable you to provide for the
wants of yourself and your family, without the unhappy necessity of
exercising your fatal office, you shall receive every year the sum of
two hundred dinars."

In this way all the officers and servants of the palace passed before
the notice of the prince; he interrogated each on the nature of his
occupation and his past services, on his means of existence, and on
the salary which he received. When he found that any one held a
situation of a painful and difficult nature, for which he was
inadequately remunerated, the caliph diminished his duties and
increased his pay; and, on the other hand, when he found the contrary
to be the case, he lessened the salary and increased the duties of the
office. After having, in this way, performed many acts of wisdom and
justice, the caliph observed, among the officers of the civil service,
a sheik, whose wrinkled countenance and stooping figure indicated his
great age. The caliph called him up, in order to inquire what was his
employment in the palace, and the sum which it yielded him.

"Prince," the old man replied, "my only employment is to take care of
a chest that was committed to my charge by your father, the late
caliph, and for attending to which he allowed me ten pieces of gold a
month."

"It seems to me," replied Mohammed, "that the reward is great for so
slight a service. Pray what are the contents of this chest?"

"I received it," replied the sheik, "in charge forty years ago, and I
solemnly swear to you that I know not what it contains."

The caliph commanded the chest to be brought to him, which was of pure
gold, and most richly adorned. The old man opened it. It contained a
manuscript written in brilliant characters on the skin of a gazelle,
painted purple and sprinkled with a red dust. Neither the prince,
however, nor his ministers, nor the ulemas who were present, could
decipher the writing. By the caliph's order, the wise men of Egypt
were summoned, as well as others from Syria, Persia, and India, but to
no purpose; not one was able to interpret the mysterious characters.
The book remained open for a long time, exposed to the gaze of all,
and a great reward was offered to any one who could bring forward a
person of sufficient learning to read it.

Some time after this, a savant who had left Egypt in the reign of
Theilon, and had now returned after a long absence, chanced to hear of
the mysterious book, and said that he knew what it was, and could
explain its history. The caliph immediately admitted him to an
audience, and the old man addressed him as follows:

"O sovereign ruler, may the Almighty prolong your days! Only one man
can read this book, its rightful master, the sheik Hassan Abdallah,
son of El-Achaar. This man had travelled through many lands, and
penetrated into the mysterious city of Aram, built on columns, from
which he brought this book, which no one but himself could read. He
made use of it in his experiments in alchemy, and by its aid he could
transmute the most worthless metals into gold. The caliph Theilon,
your father, having learned this, commanded the sage to be brought
before him, with a view of compelling him to reveal the secret of his
knowledge. Hassan Abdallah refused to do so, for fear of putting into
the hands of the unjust an instrument of such terrible power; and the
prince, in a rage, laid hold of the chest, and ordered the sage to be
thrown into prison, where he still remains, unless he has died since
that time, which is forty years ago."

On hearing this, Mohammed immediately despatched his officers to visit
the prisons, and, on their return, learned with pleasure that Hassan
was still alive. The caliph ordered him to be brought forth and
arrayed in a dress of honour; and, on his appearing in the audience
chamber, the prince made him sit down beside him, and begged him to
forgive the unjust treatment which his father had caused him to
undergo. He then told him how he had accidentally discovered that he
was still alive; and at last, placing the mysterious book before him,
said,

"Old man, if this book could make me the owner of all the treasures of
the world, I would not consent to possess it, since it only belongs to
me by injustice and violence."

On hearing these words, Hassan burst into tears.

"O God," he exclaimed, "all wisdom proceeds from Thee! Thou causest to
arise from the same soil the poisonous and the wholesome plant. Every
where good is placed by the side of evil. This prince, the support of
the feeble, the defender of the oppressed, who has conferred on me the
happiness of spending my remaining years in the light of day, is the
son of the tyrant who plunged Egypt in mourning, and who kept me for
forty years in a loathsome dungeon. Prince," added the old man,
addressing Mohammed, "what I refused to the wrath of your father, I
willingly grant to your virtues: this book contains the precepts of
the true science, and I bless Heaven that I have lived long enough to
teach it to you. I have often risked my life to become the master of
this wonderful book, which was the only article of value that I
brought from Aram, that city into which no man can enter who is not
assisted by Heaven."

The caliph embraced the old man, and, calling him his father, begged
him to relate what he had seen in the city of Aram.

"Prince," replied Hassan, "it is a long story, as long, nearly, as my
whole life."

He then proceeded as follows.

[Illustration: Story of the Enchanted Keys, p. 7.]


THE STORY OF HASSAN ABDALLAH.

I am the only son of one of the richest inhabitants of Egypt. My
father, who was a man of extensive knowledge, employed my youth in the
study of science; and at twenty years of age I was already honourably
mentioned among the ulemas, when my father bestowed a young maiden on
me as my wife, with eyes brilliant as the stars, and with a form
elegant and light as that of the gazelle. My nuptials were
magnificent, and my days flowed on in peace and happiness. I lived
thus for ten years, when at last this beautiful dream vanished. It
pleased Heaven to afflict me with every kind of misfortune: the plague
deprived me of my father; war destroyed my dear brothers; my house
fell a prey to the flames; my richly-laden ships were buried beneath
the waves. Reduced to misery and want, my only resource was in the
mercy of God and the compassion of the faithful whom I met while I
frequented the mosques. My sufferings, from my own wretched state of
poverty, and that of my wife and children, were cruel indeed. One day
when I had not received any charitable donations, my wife, weeping,
took some of my clothes, and gave them to me in order to sell them at
the bazaar. On the way thither I met an Arab of the desert, mounted on
a red camel. He greeted me, and said,

"Peace be with you, my brother! Can you tell me where the sheik Hassan
Abdallah, the son of El-Achaar, resides in the city?"

Being ashamed of my poverty, and thinking I was not known, I replied,

"There is no man at Cairo of that name."

"God is great!" exclaimed the Arab; "are you not Hassan Abdallah, and
can you send away your guest by concealing your name?"

Greatly confused, I then begged him to forgive me, and laid hold of
his hands to kiss them, which he would not permit me to do, and I then
accompanied him to my house. On the way there I was tormented by the
reflection that I had nothing to set before him; and when I reached
home I informed my wife of the meeting I had just had.

"The stranger is sent by God," said she; "and even the children's
bread shall be his. Go, sell the clothes which I gave you; buy some
food for our guest with the money, and if any thing should remain
over, we will partake of it ourselves."

In going out it was necessary that I should pass through the apartment
where the Arab was. As I concealed the clothes, he said to me, "My
brother, what have you got there hid under your cloak?"

I replied that it was my wife's dress, which I was carrying to the
tailor.

"Show it to me," he said. I showed it to him, blushing.

"O merciful God," he exclaimed, "you are going to sell it in order to
get money to enable you to be hospitable towards me! Stop, Hassan!
here are ten pieces of gold; spend them in buying what is needful for
our own wants and for those of your family."

I obeyed, and plenty and happiness seemed to revisit my abode. Every
day the Arab gave me the same sum, which, according to his orders, I
spent in the same way; and this continued for fifteen days. On the
sixteenth day my guest, after chatting on indifferent matters, said to
me, "Hassan, would you like to sell yourself to me?"

"My lord," I replied, "I am already yours by gratitude."

"No," he replied, "that is not what I mean; I wish to make you my
property, and you shall fix the price yourself."

Thinking he was joking, I replied, "The price of a freeman is one
thousand dinars if he is killed at a single blow; but if many wounds
are inflicted upon him, or if he should be cut in many pieces, the
price is then one thousand five hundred dinars."

"Very well," answered my guest, "I will pay you this last-mentioned
sum if you will consent to the bargain."

When I saw that he was speaking seriously, I asked for time in order
to consult my family.

"Do so," he replied, and then went out to look after some affairs in
the city.

When I related the strange proposal of my guest, my mother said, "What
can this man want to do with you?" The children all clung to me, and
wept. My wife, who was a wise and prudent woman, remarked,

"This detestable stranger wants, perhaps, to get back what he has
spent here. You have nothing but this wretched house, sell it, and
give him the money, but don't sell yourself."

I passed the rest of the day and the following night in reflection,
and was in a state of great uncertainty. With the sum offered by the
stranger I could at least secure bread for my family. But why wish to
purchase me? What could he intend to do? Before next morning, however,
I had come to a decision. I went to the Arab and said, "I am yours."
Untying his sash, he took out one thousand five hundred gold pieces,
and giving them to me, said, "Fear not, my brother, I have no designs
against either your life or your liberty; I only wish to secure a
faithful companion during a long journey which I am about to
undertake."

Overwhelmed with joy, I ran with the money to my wife and mother; but
they, without listening to my explanations, began weeping and crying
as if they were lamenting for the dead.

"It is the price of flesh and blood," they exclaimed; "neither we nor
our children will eat bread procured at such a cost!"

By dint of argument, however, I succeeded at length in subduing their
grief; and having embraced them, together with my children, I set out
to meet my new master.

By order of the Arab I purchased a camel renowned for its speed, at
the price of a hundred drachms; I filled our sacks with food
sufficient for a long period; and then, mounting our camels, we
proceeded on our journey.

We soon reached the desert. Here no traces of travellers were to be
seen, for the wind effaced them continually from the surface of the
moving sand. The Arab was guided in his course by indications known
only to himself. We travelled thus together for five days under a
burning sun; each day seemed longer to me than a night of suffering or
of fear. My master, who was of a lively disposition, kept up my
courage by tales which I remember even now with pleasure after forty
years of anguish; and you will forgive an old man for not being able
to resist the pleasure of relating some of them to you. The following
story, he said, had been recounted to him by the basket-maker himself,
a poor man whom he had found in prison, and whom he had charitably
found means to release.


THE STORY OF THE BASKET-MAKER.

I was born of poor and honest parents; and my father, who was a
basket-maker by trade, taught me to plait all kinds of baskets. So
long as I had only myself to care for, I lived tolerably well on the
produce of my labour; but when I reached twenty years of age, and took
a wife, who in a few years presented me with several children, my
gains proved insufficient to maintain my family. A basket-maker earns
but little; one day he gets a drachm, the next he may get two, or
perhaps only half a drachm. In this state of things I and my children
had often to endure the pangs of hunger.

One day it happened that I had just finished a large basket; it was
well and strongly made, and I hoped to obtain at least three drachms
for it. I took it to the bazaar and through all the streets, but no
purchaser appeared. Night came on and I went home. When my wife and
children saw me return without any food, they began to cry and to ask
for bread, but as I had none to give them, I could only weep with
them: the night was long and sorrowful. At daybreak my wife awoke me,
saying, "Go, and sell the basket at any price you can get for it, were
it only half a drachm." I set out, and perambulated the streets and
squares, but night came on again without my finding a purchaser. My
wife burst out into a great rage. "What!" she said, "do you still
bring back this basket? Do you wish to see us die with hunger?"

I assured her that I had tried every means, but in vain, to sell the
basket. She then took some articles of her own, and told me to go and
sell them, and procure some bread for the children. I did as she said,
and my famished family partook of a miserable repast, which my
depressed state of mind prevented me from sharing with them. I slept
little that night; and as soon as it was day I performed my devotions,
and prayed to God to come to my assistance. I then went out again with
my unsaleable basket, with which I made many weary and fruitless
rounds through the whole city. At noon, overwhelmed with fatigue and
famished with hunger, I sat down at the door of a mosque, where the
voice of the muezzim was calling the faithful to prayer. I entered to
implore of God's goodness that I might be able, by his assistance, to
sell the basket. Prayer being ended, the faithful left the mosque, and
I found myself alone with a venerable Persian, named Saadi, who seemed
lost in contemplation. Rising to go away, he passed near me, and
noticing how pale I was, he said, "Friend, you are too much addicted
to wine, and your health suffers from it."

"My lord," I replied, "do not believe it; I have never tasted wine; my
weakness and paleness arise from my not having had any food for the
last two days."

I then related to him my life, my occupation, and my wretched state.
Whilst listening to me the stranger shed tears; and when I had
finished speaking, he said, "God be praised, my brother! for I can put
an end to your troubles: take this," putting a purse of gold into my
hands; "run to the market, and buy meat, bread, and fruits for the
refreshment of yourself and family. What I have given you will last
you for a year to come; and in exchange, I only ask you to meet me
here, at the same day and hour, every year." So saying, he departed.

I could scarcely think but that I had been dreaming; the purse,
however, proved that I was indeed awake. I opened it, and found in it
a hundred pieces of gold! Overjoyed, I ran to the bazaar, and, in
pursuance of the orders of the benevolent donor, I purchased enough,
not only to satisfy the calls of hunger, but also food of such a
nourishing nature, as had never entered my house before. The whole I
put into my basket, and hastened to return home. Having reached the
door, I listened, being curious to know what was going on. My children
were uttering lamentations, and their mother was endeavouring to quiet
them by repeating, for the hundredth time, her advice, to be quiet,
and not to weep, for that their father would be sure to return with
something to eat. I then entered the room, exclaiming, that God had
heard them, and had sent them a plentiful supply for a long time to
come. But when I showed them the purse and its contents, my wife
shouted out, "What! have you then killed and robbed some one? Are we
to become the object of the inquiries and suspicions of the police?"

I then related my fortunate meeting with the old man, and while
embracing me with tears of joy, and a conscience at ease, my family
partook, with me, of a plentiful repast, at the same time invoking
blessings on our unknown benefactor.

For a whole year I lived happily in this manner. The day fixed upon by
the stranger having arrived, I went to the mosque, after having
attired myself in a becoming manner. The Persian came and seated
himself beside me. When prayers were ended, and all the worshippers
had departed, he turned towards me and said, with a smiling look,

"O my brother! how has the time passed with you since our last
interview?"

"Thanks to your generosity, my lord," I replied, "my life has been
spent in a tranquil and happy manner."

The stranger then questioned me as to my courage, address, and love
of travelling; and to all his questions I replied in a satisfactory
manner, and, in my turn, asked him if I could be of any service to
him.

"Noureddin," he replied, "I intend setting out on a journey, and I
wish you to accompany me as my servant. I shall employ you in a
respectable and becoming manner; and if you show yourself obedient and
devoted to my interests, you will have no reason to repent it. The
journey will last two months; look, here are thirty dinars; buy
provisions, that your family may want for nothing during your absence.
In eight days you must bid adieu to your wife and children, and come
to meet me here, bringing a supply of rice and dates, and arming
yourself with a yatagan, to defend yourself in case of our being
attacked."

I then went to my wife, and told her what the stranger required of me.
"He is our benefactor," she replied; "it is your duty to obey him." I
spent the eight days in laying in a store of food for my family and
for the journey, and on the appointed day, after embracing my wife and
children, I went to the mosque, where I found the Persian. The muezzim
having proclaimed the hour of prayer, we joined in it; and afterwards
I followed him to a desert place, where were two fine horses well
harnessed and yoked, which we unloosed and mounted, and then set out
on our journey.

After having traversed deserts and mountains during a whole month, we
arrived at a fertile plain, watered by a fine river, whose peaceful
and limpid waters winding about a thick forest, formed it into
peninsula: a pavilion, with a golden cupola, seemed to rise out of
this mass of verdure, and shone in the sun's rays as if it had been on
fire.

[Illustration: The Pavilion with the golden cupola, p. 14]

The Persian now said to me, "Noureddin, enter this forest, and give me
an account of what you see." I obeyed, but I had scarcely walked an
hour, when I saw two huge lions with manes erect. Seized with alarm, I
drew back, and running away reached my master out of breath, who only
laughed at my fears, and assured me that I was needlessly afraid of
the monsters. He wanted me to return, but I refused, and he was
obliged to come back along with me. Having approached the lions, the
Persian charmed them by some magical words, on which they became as
submissive as lambs, remained motionless, and permitted us to pass. We
journeyed on for many hours in the recesses of the forest, meeting, to
my great dread, with what appeared to be troops of horsemen, sword in
hand, and giants, armed with clubs, ready to strike us. All these
fantastic beings disappeared at the sight of my master, and we reached
at last the pavilion which crowned the forest.

My master then said to me, "Go, Noureddin, to this pavilion; remove
the belt of iron chains which fastens the gates, while I go and pray
to the great Solomon to be propitious to our enterprise." I did as he
commanded me; but when I let the chains fall, a frightful noise was
heard, which made the earth shake under my feet. More dead than alive,
I returned to the Persian, who, having finished his prayer, entered
the pavilion. At the end of an hour he came out, bringing a book with
him written in the sacred language. He began to read it; and when he
had finished, with his countenance radiant with delight he exclaimed,
"O thrice fortunate Saadi! thou possessest at last this holy
book,--the sum of wisdom, the mirror of the good and the terror of the
wicked! May the perusal of this garden of roses lead the children of
Adam back to that original innocence from which they have so fatally
departed! Hearken to these maxims and sentences, worthy to be the
guides of mankind from the shepherd to the king:--

     'He who learns the rules of wisdom without conforming his
     life to them, is like the man who tills his field but never
     sows any seed therein.

     'Virtue does not consist in acquiring the riches of this
     world, but in attaching all hearts by benefits and good
     offices.

     'If you are insensible to the sufferings of the unfortunate,
     you do not deserve the name of a man.

     'It is better to be loaded with chains for having told the
     truth, than to be freed from them by means of a lie.

     'A wicked person that accuses you of licentiousness should
     be made to blush, in his turn, by your virtues and your
     innocence.

     'Man should remember that he is born of the earth, and that
     his pride will one day come to an end in it.

     'Crystal is found every where; but nothing is more rare than
     the diamond, and hence the difference in their value.

     'Instruction only bears fruit in so far as it is assisted by
     your own endeavours.

     'The discipline of the master is of greater benefit to the
     child than the indulgence of the father.

     'So long as the tree is young it is easy to fashion it as
     you please; but when it has been permitted to grow, nothing
     but fire can straighten it.

     'Woe to the man of might, who devours the substance of the
     people! At last some dire calamity will, of a surety,
     overtake him.

     'The most awful spectacle at the day of judgment will be,
     says the prophet, to see pious slaves in paradise, and hard
     and merciless masters in hell.

     'Do you ask whether the ant beneath your feet has a right to
     complain? Yes; just as much right as you would have if
     crushed to atoms by an elephant.

     'Encouragement towards the wicked is a wrong done to the
     good; and the severest attack on virtue is to be indulgent
     to crime.

     'The perpetrator of an unjust action dies, but his memory is
     held in everlasting abhorrence. The just man dies, and his
     good actions bear fruit unto eternity.

     'Be assured that thou wilt be rewarded if thine actions are
     good, whether thou wearest the dress of the dervise or the
     crown of the king.

     'Would a king have nothing to fear from his enemies, let him
     live in peace with his subjects.

     'O my brother! the world forsakes us all. Fix thy heart on
     the Creator of the universe, and all will be well with thee.

     'What signifies it, whether we die in a stable or on a
     throne?

     'At your morning and evening prayer be able to say, Almighty
     God, be pleased to remember Thy servant, who has never
     forgotten Thee!'

"My ambition is satisfied," resumed the Persian, "by the possession of
this book; but a fortune of that description would be no fortune to
you, Noureddin. You stand in need of a material treasure; and this
sacred volume tells me where we ought to look for it. Quick! Mount
your steed, and let us proceed so long as Solomon favours us." Leaping
into our saddles, therefore, we set off at full gallop, and entering
the desert, journeyed thus for two days and a night.

On the evening of the second day we arrived at a city situated on a
high mountain, and surrounded with white walls which shone like
silver. We passed the night under the trees of an adjoining wood; and
next day, having offered up our prayers, looked about for some way of
entering the city, the gates of which were shut, and within which
there reigned a perfect stillness. My master went round the walls, and
in his examination of them he discovered a stone slab, in which was
fastened an iron ring. We endeavoured to move the slab, but could not.
The Persian then ordered me to take the horses and to fasten them to
the ring with our sashes; and by this means we succeeded in removing
the stone, which discovered the entrance to a subterraneous passage.
My master said to me, "Noureddin, follow me; by this passage we shall
get into the city." On leaving the subterraneous passage we heard a
noise like that which might be produced by the loud puffing of the
bellows of a forge, and we supposed for a moment that the city was
inhabited. This strange noise was nothing else than the hissing of two
winged serpents, which advanced towards us at a frightful pace. With
the sacred book in his hand the Persian advanced to meet them, and
with one touch of this talisman laid them prostrate on the ground.

This obstacle being overcome, we traversed the whole city, admiring
its squares, houses, mosques, and palaces. But what had become of the
inhabitants? By what scourge had they been cut off, or what reason had
induced them to quit so beautiful a city? How long ago was it
inhabited? My mind was lost in conjectures about what seemed so far
beyond my comprehension, and my master made no reply to the questions
which I addressed to him. At length we stopped at the open railing of
some gardens surrounding an enormous palace, which surpassed all that
the imagination could conceive. Bushy thickets; orchards covered with
flowers and fruits; enamelled meads, watered by murmuring streams;
parterres planted with the rarest and most variegated flowers, every
where met the eye. The Persian sat down under the shadow of a tree,
opened the book, and commenced reading, and when he had finished
ordered me to enter the palace. I reached it by a staircase that could
only have been constructed by the hands of genii; it was formed of the
most rare and costly marble, as were also the statues which were
placed at the sides. After having walked through many spacious and
magnificent apartments richly adorned, I entered a subterranean hall,
still larger and more splendid. A hundred crystal lustres, brilliant
with gold and precious stones, and lit up with thousands of
wax-lights, shed a refulgence more dazzling than the day. Its walls
were covered with paintings, in which the spirit of evil strove in
vain for the mastery over the spirit of good, and a long series of the
statues of justly-renowned dead princes were ranged all around. Vacant
pedestals, waiting to receive monarchs still living, whose names were
inscribed on them, were also to be seen. In the centre of this
subterranean apartment, a throne of gold arose, incrusted with pearls
and rubies. On this throne an old man was reposing, with a countenance
pale as death, but whose open eyes shone with a supernatural
brilliancy. I saluted him respectfully, but he made no gesture. I
spoke to him, and he made no reply. Seized with astonishment and fear,
I returned to my master and told him what I had seen.

"God be praised!" he said, "we are now near the end of our
enterprise. Return, Noureddin, to the old man; go up to him
fearlessly, and bring to me the chest on which his head rests."

I obeyed, and on my return to the subterranean hall I drew near to the
throne, to which three silver steps led up. When I placed my foot on
the first step the old man stood up; in spite of my surprise I
ascended the second step, when, seizing a bow, he placed a
keen-pointed arrow in it, and aimed it at me. Without any
consideration of my benefactor's orders, I jumped backwards and took
to flight anew. When the Arab saw me, he said, "Is this what you
promised me? cowardly man, come with me, and you will find inestimable
riches!" I then conducted him to the place where the old man was to be
found. When my master was near the throne, he ascended the first step,
and the old man arose; at the second step he took his bow and arrow;
and at the third he shot it at my master, who received it on the
sacred book, from which it rebounded as from a steel cuirass, and fell
broken on the ground. The old man fell back motionless on the throne,
and his eyes ceased to shine. My master then laid hold of the
mysterious chest of which he had spoken to me, and took from it the
magic key which opened subterranean recesses where heaps of pearls,
diamonds, and rubies were deposited. The Persian allowed me to take as
much as I pleased. I filled my trousers and the folds of my robe and
turban with the finest pearls, the largest diamonds, and many other
kinds of precious stones. As Saadi the Wise passed by all these
treasures without looking at them, I said to him, "O my lord, why do
you leave here all this wealth, and take away with you, as the reward
of so many fatigues, an article of so little value? The book of wisdom
is now useless; what man is there who does not think himself wise?"

"My son," replied the old man, "I am near the end of my career, and my
life has been spent in the search after true wisdom. If I have done
nothing to improve mankind, God, when I appear before Him, will
reckon with me not only for the evil I shall have done, but also for
the good I may have neglected to do. As for you, who have a wife and
children, I approve of your wishing to provide for their future
condition."

We left the enchanted city and its treasures, which I greatly
regretted not being able to carry away. When we reached the open
country, I looked back to gaze upon the palace and city, but they had
disappeared, at which I expressed my astonishment to my master, who
replied, "Noureddin, do not seek to fathom the mysteries of knowledge,
but be contented to rejoice with me at the success of our journey." We
then directed our faces towards Bagdad, and at the end of a short time
arrived there, without meeting with any thing else worth relating. My
family were rejoiced at my return and at the good fortune I had so
unexpectedly met with. The old man abode with us for some time, which
he employed in reading the Gulistan and in giving me useful counsels
as to my future conduct.

"Noureddin," he said, "you are the possessor of great wealth; know how
to make a good use of it; always remember the wretched condition in
which I found you in the mosque; beware of bad company and pretended
friends and flatterers; avoid covetousness, and be charitable toward
the poor; remember the uncertainty of riches, and how Providence often
punishes those who give way to ingratitude and pride." Besides his
good advice, he would often relate to me instructive histories by way
of example, and I shall not tire you too much if I repeat one of them
to you.


THE STORY OF THE DERVISE ABOUNADAR.

A dervise, venerable from his age, fell ill at the house of a woman
who was a widow, and who lived in a state of great poverty in the
outskirts of Balsora. He was so affected by the care and zeal with
which she had nursed him, that at the time of his departure he said to
her, "I have noticed that your means are sufficient for yourself
alone, and are not adequate for the additional support of your only
son, the young Mujahid; but if you will entrust him to my care, I will
do my utmost to repay through him the obligations which I am under to
your care."

The good woman received the proposal with pleasure, and the dervise
took his departure with the young man, stating, at the same time, that
they were to be absent two years on a journey. While travelling in
various countries the widow's son lived in opulence with his
protector, who gave him excellent instructions, attended to him in a
dangerous illness which he had, and, in short, treated him in every
respect as if he had been his only son. Mujahid often said how
grateful he was for such kindness, and the old man's constant reply
was, "My son, gratitude is shown by actions, not words; at the proper
time and place we shall see how you estimate my conduct towards you."

One day, in their journeyings, they reached a place out of the beaten
road, and the dervise said to Abdallah, "We are now at the end of our
travels; I am about to cause the earth to open and allow you to enter
a place where you will find one of the greatest treasures in the bosom
of the globe; have you courage sufficient to descend into this
subterranean recess?" Mujahid declared that he might be depended upon
for his obedience and zeal. The dervise then lighted a small fire,
into which he threw some perfumes, and when he had pronounced some
prayers the earth opened, and the dervise said to the young man, "You
can now enter; remember that it is in your power to render me a great
service, and that the present occasion is perhaps the only one when
you can prove to me that you are not ungrateful. Do not allow yourself
to be dazzled by all the wealth which you will find, but think only of
getting possession of an iron chandelier with twelve branches which
you will see near a door; lose no time in bringing it to me." The
youth promised to attend to all that was required of him, and plunged
into the subterraneous recess full of confidence in himself.
Forgetting, however, what had been so expressly enjoined upon him,
while he was busy filling his pockets with the gold and diamonds
spread around in prodigious quantities, the entrance by which he had
descended was closed. He had, however, the presence of mind to lay
hold of the iron chandelier which the dervise had urged him to bring
away; and although he was now, by the closing of the entrance, placed
in circumstances which were enough to appal a stouter heart, he did
not abandon himself to despair. While trying to discover some way of
escape from a place which was likely otherwise to be his grave, he saw
but too plainly that the opening had been closed upon him on account
of his not having strictly followed the dervise's orders; and
reflecting on the kindness and care with which he had been treated, he
bitterly reproached himself for his ingratitude. At length, after a
busy search and much anxiety, he was fortunate enough to discover a
narrow passage that led out of this dark cavern. The opening was
covered over with briers and thorns, through which he managed to
struggle, and thus recovered the light of day. He looked around him
every where for the dervise in order to deliver the chandelier to him,
but in vain; he was not to be seen.

Unable to recognize any of the places where he had been, he walked at
random, and was very much astonished to find himself, after a short
time, at his mother's door, from which he had thought himself at a
great distance. In reply to her inquiries respecting the dervise, he
frankly told her all that had happened, and the danger he had
encountered in order to gratify the fancy of the dervise; and then he
showed her the riches with which he was loaded. His mother concluded,
on seeing all this wealth, that the dervise only wanted to try his
courage and obedience, and that he ought to take advantage of his good
luck, adding, that such was no doubt the intention of the holy man.

While they gazed on these treasures with avidity, and framed a
thousand dazzling projects for spending them, the whole vanished
suddenly from their eyes. Mujahid then reproached himself again for
his ingratitude and disobedience; and looking at the iron chandelier
which alone remained of all his treasure, said, "What has happened is
just. I have lost what I had no wish to render back; and the
chandelier, which I desired to give to the dervise, remains with
me,--a proof that it belongs to him, and that the rest was improperly
obtained." So saying, he placed the chandelier in the middle of his
mother's small house.

When night came on, Mujahid thought he would put a light in the
chandelier, by way of turning it to some use. No sooner had he done
this, than a dervise immediately appeared, who, after turning round,
vanished, and threw a small coin behind him. Mujahid, whose thoughts
were occupied all next day with what he had seen the evening before,
wished to see what would be the event if he placed a light in each of
the twelve branches. He did so, and twelve dervises immediately
appeared, who, after wheeling round, also became invisible, each of
them at the same time throwing down a small coin. Every day Mujahid
repeated the same ceremony with the same success; but he could only
make it occur once in twenty-four hours. The moderate sum with which
the dervises supplied him daily was sufficient for the subsistence of
himself and his mother, and for a long time this was all that he
desired. By and by, however, his imagination began to feast itself
with the idea of the riches of the cavern, the sight of those which he
had once thought to be safe in his possession, and the schemes which
he had formed as to the use to be made of his wealth; all these things
had left so deep an impression on his mind, that he found it
impossible to rest. He resolved, therefore, if possible, to find out
the dervise, and to take him the chandelier, in the hope of obtaining
the treasure by bringing to the holy man an article for which he had
shown so strong a desire.

Fortunately Mujahid recollected the dervise's name, and the name of
the city, Magnebi, where he dwelt. He set out on his journey as soon
as possible, bidding farewell to his mother, and taking the chandelier
with him, which supplied him every evening, after being lit, with the
means of supporting himself, without having occasion to resort for
assistance to the compassion of the faithful. When he reached Magnebi,
his first inquiry was after the house where Abounadar lodged. He was
so well known, that the first person he met could tell him his
residence. On arriving at the house, or rather palace, he found fifty
porters keeping watch at the door, each of them bearing a wand with a
golden apple for its handle. The courts of the palace were crowded
with slaves and domestics; indeed, no prince's residence ever
displayed greater splendour. Mujahid, struck with astonishment and
admiration, was reluctant to proceed further. "Either," said he to
himself, "I have described the person whom I wanted imperfectly, or
those to whom I spoke must have wished to make a mock of me,
observing that I was a stranger. This is not the residence of a
dervise, but of a king."

Mujahid was in this state of embarrassment when a man came up to him
and said, "You are welcome, Mujahid; my master, Abounadar, has been
long expecting you;" and so saying, he conducted him into a
magnificent garden, where the dervise was seated. Mujahid, struck with
the riches which he saw every where around him, would have thrown
himself at his feet, but Abounadar would not permit him, and
interrupted him when he was about to make a merit of bringing back the
chandelier which he presented to him, by saying, "You are an
ungrateful wretch. Do you think to impose upon me? I know all your
thoughts; and if you had known the worth of this chandelier, you would
never have brought it to me. I shall now make you acquainted with its
true use." In each of the branches of the chandelier he now placed a
light; and when the dervises had turned round, Abounadar gave each of
them a blow with a stick, and immediately they were converted into
twelve heaps of sequins, diamonds, and other precious stones. "Look,"
he said, "at the use to be made of this wonderful chandelier. My only
reason, however, for wishing to place it in my cabinet, was on account
of its being a talisman composed by a sage whom I revered; and I shall
be always happy to show it to persons who visit me. To prove to you,"
he continued, "that curiosity is the only reason which induced me to
procure the lamp, take the keys of my cellars, open them, and judge
for yourself of the extent of my opulence, and say if I should not be
the most insatiably avaricious of all men, not to be contented with
what I have." Mujahid took the keys, and made a survey of twelve
magazines so filled with every description of precious stones, that he
was unable to tell which of them most deserved his admiration. Regret
at having restored the chandelier, and at not having discovered its
uses, now wrung his heart intensely. Abounadar seemed not to perceive
this, but on the contrary loaded Mujahid with caresses, kept him for
some days in his palace, and desired his servants to treat him as they
would himself. On the evening before the day fixed for his departure,
Abounadar said to him, "Mujahid, my son, I think, from what has
occurred, that you are now cured of the frightful sin of ingratitude;
however, I owe you something for having undertaken so long a journey
for the purpose of bringing to me an article which I wished to
possess. You may now depart; I will detain you no longer. To-morrow
you will find at the gate of my palace one of my horses to carry you
home. I will make you a present of it, together with a slave who will
bring you two camels loaded with gold and precious stones, which you
can select for yourself from among my treasures."

During the night Mujahid was restless and uneasy, and unable to think
of any thing except the chandelier and its wonderful qualities. For a
long time he said to himself, "It was in my power; Abounadar would
never have obtained it but for me. What risks did I not encounter in
the subterranean cave in order to secure it! Why is it that he is now
the fortunate owner of this treasure of treasures? Is it not owing to
my fidelity, or rather folly, in bringing it to him, that he now
profits by the trouble and danger I underwent in the long journey I
had to make? And what does he give me in return? only two miserable
camels loaded with gold and precious stones, when in a moment the
chandelier could supply me with ten times as much! It is Abounadar who
is ungrateful, and not I who am so. What injury shall I do him by
taking the chandelier? Not any; for he is rich, and wants nothing
more."

These ideas determined him, at last, to do all in his power to get
possession of the chandelier; and it was not difficult to do so. He
knew where to find it, and having taken it, he placed it at the
bottom of one of his sacks which he had filled with the treasure given
to him, and put the sack, along with the others, on the back of one of
the camels. His only desire now was to get away, and after having
hurriedly bid farewell to the generous Abounadar, he took his
departure, with his slave and camels.

When now at some considerable distance from Balsora, he sold his
slave, not wishing to retain him as a witness of his former poverty,
or of the source of his wealth. He purchased another, and went
straight to his mother's house, whom he scarcely noticed, so absorbed
was he with his treasures. His first care was to place the camels'
luggage in a secure place; and, in his impatience to feast his eyes
with solid riches, he placed lights in the chandelier without delay.
The twelve dervises made their appearance, and he bestowed on each of
them a blow with all his might, being afraid of not complying
sufficiently with the laws of the talisman; but he had not noticed
that Abounadar, when striking them, held his stick in his left hand.
Mujahid naturally held his in his right hand, and the dervises,
instead of being changed into heaps of treasure, drew from beneath
their robes formidable bludgeons, with which they all belaboured him
so long and so severely, that they left him nearly dead, after which
they disappeared, carrying with them the camels and all their burdens,
the horse, the slave, and the chandelier.

Thus, for not being contented with a large fortune honestly acquired,
Mujahid fell into a state of misery from which he never recovered--a
suitable punishment for his ingratitude and avarice.

The old man at last took his leave of us, and returned to Schiraz, his
native place, bearing with him the blessings of all my family.

After Saadi's departure, I unhappily neglected to follow his good
advice. I purchased a new and splendid residence, where I lived in
great splendour and luxury. Instead of being grateful to Heaven for
its bounty, I became proud and insolent. I entertained and feasted all
the gay companions I could meet with, while I refused to give alms,
and drove the needy from my door; in short, I spent my money rapidly,
and made the worst possible use of what I had so mysteriously
acquired. My treasure soon began to run low; still I lived in the same
profuse extravagance, until at last all was spent, and I found that,
for some time, I had been living upon credit. The truth could no
longer be concealed, and, being unable to meet the demands upon me, I
had to sell off the whole of my property. A small sum would have
sufficed to release me, so that I might again return to my trade, and,
for this purpose, I appealed for assistance to my former friends and
companions. Not one of these, however, would come forward in my
behalf. The produce of the sale of my house and effects was
insufficient to pay my debts, and I was consequently thrown into
prison, where I have remained for three years, my family, in the mean
time, living upon the casual alms of the faithful. The aid you have
rendered me will suffice to set me free, and I am now resolved to
labour with diligence, in order to repair, as far as possible, my past
folly.

[Illustration: Shooting at the Enchanted Keys, p. 29]


CONTINUATION OF THE STORY OF HASSAN ABDALLAH.

In this manner our journey was beguiled, and on the sixth day, in the
morning, we entered on an immense plain, whose glittering soil seemed
composed of silver dust. In the middle of the plain arose a lofty
pillar of granite, surmounted by a statue of copper, representing a
young man, whose right hand was stretched out open, and to each of
whose fingers was suspended a key; the first was of iron, the second
of lead, the third of bronze, the fourth of copper, and the fifth of
gold.

This statue was the workmanship of an enchanter, and each key was a
talisman; whoever was led by accident or his own free will into this
desert, and became possessed of these keys, inherited the destiny
attached to them. The first was the key of calamities, the second of
physical sufferings, the third of death, the fourth of glory, and the
last of knowledge and wealth.

I was ignorant of all these matters; but my master had become
acquainted with them from a learned Indian, who had also informed him
that the keys could only be obtained by shooting them down with
arrows. The Arab planted his foot near to the column, and then fixing
an arrow in his bow, which was of a foreign make, he shot it towards
the statue, but, whether from want of skill or intentionally, the
arrow did not reach halfway. He then said to me, "Hassan, you have
now an opportunity of discharging your debt to me, and of purchasing
your liberty. You are both strong and skilful; take this bow and
arrows, and bring me down those keys." I took the bow, and perceived
that it was of Persian workmanship, and made by a skilful hand. In my
youth, I had accustomed myself to this exercise, and had acquired
great reputation in it. Desirous of displaying my attainments, I bent
the bow with all my strength, and with the first arrow I brought down
the first key. Overjoyed, I took it up, and presented it to my master.
"Keep it," he said; "it is the reward of your skill." With a second
arrow, I brought down the leaden one. The Arab would not touch it, and
I took it, and put it in my belt, along with the other. With two other
arrows, I brought down two more keys--the copper key and the golden
key. My companion took them up, uttering exclamations of delight.

"O Hassan," he said, "God be praised! blessed be he who trained your
arm and practised your eye to such accuracy. I am proceeding happily
towards the accomplishment of my object."

I was about to aim at the last key--that of death, and had raised my
bow for that purpose, but he forbade me, and struck my arm to prevent
my shooting. In doing this, he caused the arrow to fall and pierce my
foot, producing a painful wound. Having dressed it as well as he
could, he assisted me to mount my camel, and we thereupon continued
our journey. After three days and nights of laborious travelling, we
arrived in the neighbourhood of a small wood, where we stopped to
spend the night. I set about looking for water, and some refreshing
fruits, and particularly some with whose good qualities I was
acquainted, but I could find nothing eatable. At last I discovered in
the crevice of a rock a small spring, which invited me, by its clear
and limpid waters, to refresh myself; but stooping down to drink, I
heard the voice of my companion shouting to me not to taste the
water, for that it was poisoned. "What matters it," I said, "whether I
die of thirst or of poison?"

"This water," he said, "comes from the infernal regions, and passes
through the mass of sulphur, bitumen, and metals that feed the fires
in the centre of the earth; and if you drink, you will in all
probability fall a victim to your imprudence."

Although bitter, the water was so clear and fresh, that without
heeding what he said, I drank some of it, and feeling refreshed for
the time, I agreed to proceed on our journey, but I had scarcely gone
on a hundred paces, when I was attacked by the most racking pains, and
with many exclamations and cries to Heaven for help, I endeavoured to
moderate the speed of my camel, who was following his companion at a
brisk pace. My tortures became so great, that I called aloud to the
Arab, and begged him to stop; he consented, when I dismounted and
walked for some time, which partly relieved me. The Arab chid me for
my disobedience to his commands, and taking out a small phial from his
pocket, gave me a few drops of a cordial, which in a short time
completely cured me.

Towards evening we came near a high mountain, where we stopped to take
a little rest. The Arab said, "God be praised, to-day will not be a
fast day with us! by experience I have learned to collect a healthy
and refreshing nourishment from a quarter where you would only find
poison." He then went to a bush with leaves of a very thick and
prickly nature, and having cut off some of them with his sabre, and
stript them, of their skins, he extracted from them a yellow and
sugary substance, similar in taste to figs, and I partook of the food
until I was quite satisfied and refreshed. I was beginning to forget
my sufferings, and hoped to pass the night in peaceful slumber, but
when the moon arose my master said to me, "I expect you to perform a
signal service for me; you have to ascend this mountain, and when at
the summit, you must wait for sunrise; then, standing up and turning
towards the East, you must offer up your devotions and descend; but
take care, and do not allow yourself to be overtaken by sleep, for the
emanations which arise from the ground in this place are extremely
noxious, and you may suffer severely from them."

Although overwhelmed with fatigue and pain, I obeyed the Arab's
orders, remembering that he had given bread to my children; and that,
perhaps, should I refuse, he would abandon me in this savage
wilderness. I ascended the mountain and reached the summit about
midnight. The soil was bare and stony; not a shrub, not a blade of
grass was to be found upon it. The extreme cold, together with
fatigue, threw me into such a state of torpor that I could not resist
lying down on the earth and falling asleep. I awoke at the rising of
the sun to fulfil my instructions. I stood up with difficulty; my
aching limbs refused to support my body; my head hung down as if made
of lead, and I was unable to lift up my paralyzed arms. Making a
painful effort, and holding myself up towards the East, I invoked the
name of God. I then endeavoured to descend the mountain, but it was so
steep, and my weakness was so great, that at the first step my limbs
tottered under me, and I fell, and rolled down the mountain with
frightful rapidity; stones and thorns were the only obstacles to my
descent, and they tore my dress and my skin, causing me to bleed at
every pore. At length I reached the bottom of the hill, near to where
my master was stretched on the ground, tracing lines on it with such
attention, that he did not observe in what a state I was. "God be
thanked and praised," he said, without noticing me; "we were born
under a happy planet; every thing succeeds with us! Thanks to you,
Hassan, I have just discovered what I wanted, by measuring the shadow
projected by your head from the summit of the mountain. Assist me to
dig where I have stuck my lance." He raised his head, and seeing me
extended on the earth, motionless, came up to me, and exclaimed,
"What! in disobedience to my orders you have slept on the mountain,
and imbibed its unwholesome vapours into your blood! Do not despair,
however, I will cure you;" and he took from his pocket a lancet, with
which, before I could offer any resistance, he made small incisions in
different parts of my body, from which I bled profusely. He then
dressed my wounds and bruises carefully, and I felt a little better.
Seeing that I was too weak to assist him, he began to dig in the earth
himself at the place which he had marked. He soon exposed to view a
tomb of white marble, which he opened; it contained some human bones,
and a book written in letters of gold on the skin of the gazelle.

My master began reading it with attention: at length his pale brow
became lit up with pleasure, and his eyes sparkled with delight.

"Hassan Abdallah," he said to me, "this book teaches me the way to the
mysterious city; we shall soon enter into Aram, built on columns,
where no mortal has ever as yet penetrated; it is there that we shall
find the principle of earthly riches, the germ of the metallic mines
which God has placed in the centre of the earth."

"My lord," I replied, "I share with you in your joy; but this treasure
is of little or no advantage to me; I would rather, I assure you, be
poor and in good health at Cairo, than rich and in wretchedness here."

"Ungrateful man!" he exclaimed; "I am labouring for your advantage as
well as for my own, intending to share with you the fruit of our
journey, as I have done until now."

"True," I said, "but, alas! all the ill fortunes and calamities fall
to me." However, after some further assurances on the part of the
Arab, I became pacified, and the same day, after having laid in a
stock of fruits, we reascended our camels, and continued our journey
towards the East.

We journeyed thus for three days and nights. The fourth day in the
morning we perceived in the horizon the appearance of a large mirror,
which reflected the sunbeams. On drawing near we saw that it was a
river of quicksilver; it was crossed by a bridge of crystal, without
balustrades, but so narrow and slippery that no man in his senses
would think of attempting to pass it. My master told me to unsaddle
the camels, to let them feed at liberty, and to prepare woollen
slippers with thick and soft soles for both of us; and having ordered
me to walk behind him without looking to the right hand or to the
left, he crossed the bridge with a firm step, and I followed him
trembling.

After we had crossed the river and proceeded for some hours, we found
ourselves at the entrance of a gloomy valley. It was surrounded on all
sides with black rocks, hard as iron, and here and there on the ground
were spread human bones, bleached by time. Through the dark foliage of
the shrubs which grew there might be seen the undulating and scaly
forms of serpents gliding along. I retreated hastily from this den of
horror, but could not discover the spot at which I had entered, the
rocks seeming every where to rise up like the walls of a great cavern.

I began to weep, and said to my companion, "You have led me on to
death by the path of suffering and misery; I shall never see my wife
and children again. Why have you torn me away from my poor but
peaceful home?"

"Hassan," he said to me, "be a man! Have patience; we shall soon get
out of this horrible place. Wait a few moments, and I will show you
how we may escape." So saying, he sat down on the ground, and, opening
the mysterious book, began turning over the pages and reading in it
as calmly as if he had been sitting in his own house. After a short
time he called to me, and said, "My friend, call up your courage, your
task is easy; you are a skilful marksman; take this bow and arrows;
examine the valley until you meet with a huge serpent with a black
head, kill him and bring his head and heart to me."

"Alas!" I said, weeping, "is this indeed a thing so easy for me? Why
will you not do it yourself? We are too fortunate not to be molested
by these monsters; why should we go in search of them?" Upon this he
started up with a fierce aspect, and, drawing his sword, swore that he
would kill me that instant if I did not obey him.

"Do you see all these bones?" he said. "They are the bones of men who
disobeyed me, and who died in consequence by my hand." Trembling, I
took the bow and arrows, and went among the rocks where the serpents
were to be found. Selecting one which appeared to me to answer the
description given me, I took aim at its head, and, invoking the
assistance of Heaven, discharged my arrow. The serpent, mortally
wounded, sprung up, and twisting and contorting itself in a frightful
manner, fell dead on the ground. When I was certain that he was dead,
I took my knife, cut off his head, and took out his heart. With these
bloody trophies I returned to my master, who received me with a
smiling countenance. "Forgive me," he said, "for employing threats
towards you; in reality I was anxious to save you from a miserable
fate. The men to whom these bones belonged died here of hunger by
their own fault; they proved deficient in courage, and I was
compelled, in spite of myself, to abandon them to their fate."

"Now," he continued, "come and assist me to make a fire."

I collected dry leaves and small branches of trees, of which he made a
small heap; then turning an enchanted diamond towards the sun, which
was then in its meridian, a ray of light issued from the precious
stone which set the materials in a blaze. He next drew from under his
robe a small iron vase and three phials; the first, of ruby, contained
the elements of winds; the second, of emerald, contained a ray of
moonlight; and the third, which was of gold, contained the blood of a
phoenix. All these substances he placed in the vase, and added the
heart and brain of the serpent. He then opened the book and put the
vase on the fire, pronouncing at the same time some words which to me
were unintelligible. When he had finished, he uncovered his shoulders,
as the pilgrims do at their departure, and dipping a portion of his
garment in the mixture, handed it to me, desiring me to rub his back
and shoulders with it. As I did so I observed the skin swell out and
wings spring forth, which, visibly increasing in size, soon reached
the ground. The Arab spread them and began to rise in the air. Fear of
remaining in this doleful place lent me courage, and laying hold with
all my might of the end of his girdle, I was borne up along with him,
and in a few moments we bade farewell to the black rocks of this fatal
valley. Presently, as we pursued this aërial tour, we found ourselves
soaring above an immense plain, surrounded by a precipice of crystal,
tinged with azure and purple. The earth seemed formed of golden dust,
and the pebbles upon it looked like precious stones. Before us were
the lofty walls of a city crowded with magnificent palaces and
delicious gardens. Lost in admiration of this glorious scene, the Arab
forgot to keep his wings moving, and we descended rapidly towards the
ground, which I of course reached first, he falling upon me. I then
perceived his wings gradually diminish, and by degrees wholly
disappear. When I noticed this to him, he replied, that,
unfortunately, science was limited in its powers; it enabled him to
construct wings of great power, but could not avail for their
preservation beyond a certain time. "To become the possessor," said
he, "of the ingredients which you saw me employ in forming these
wings, I have spent thirty years of my life, the lives of many men,
and money sufficient for a king's ransom. The wings helped me but for
a few moments, long enough, however, for my purpose; they have borne
me to glory and fortune. Rejoice, Hassan Abdallah; behold Aram, the
city built on columns, the mysterious city!"

[Illustration: The Escape of Hassan Abdallah and the Arab from the
Enchanted Valley, p. 36.]

We then approached the walls; they were built of alternate layers of
bricks of gold and silver. The battlements were of marble, cut and
sculptured by the hands of genii. There were eight gates in the
walls,--the number of the gates of paradise; the first was of silver,
the second of gold, the third of agate, the fourth of coral, the fifth
of pearl, the sixth of topaz, the seventh of emerald, and the eighth
of ruby.

The Arab informed me that this city had been built by the famous
enchanter Tchedad, the son of Aad, who had exhausted upon it all the
treasures of earth, sea, and sky. He wanted in his pride to rival the
glory of the Almighty by this piece of workmanship; but God, to punish
him, struck him and his family with lightning at the very instant he
and they were solemnly taking possession of the palace. An
impenetrable veil hangs over the city ever since, and no one has been
able to discover it.

We went forward, invoking the name of God; the streets were lined with
palaces adorned with columns of marble, agate, and all kinds of costly
materials; streams of odoriferous waters embalmed and refreshed the
atmosphere; trees of a wondrous form furnished a delicious shelter
from the rays of the sun, and in their branches birds of song produced
concerts of ravishing sweetness. The very air that one breathed seemed
to fascinate the mind, and to lift it up to heaven.

The Arab, taking me by the hand, conducted me towards the palace of
Tchedad; its construction, in point of art and splendour of adornment,
was unspeakably magnificent. Terraces, formed of coloured crystal,
were supported on a thousand columns of gold. In the midst of the
palace was an enchanted garden, where the earth, breathing of musk,
bore fruits and flowers of marvellous richness and beauty. Three
rivers surrounded the garden, flowing with wine, rose-water, and
honey. In the centre of the garden there was a pavilion, whose dome,
formed of a single emerald, overshadowed a throne of gold covered with
pearls and rubies. On the throne there was a small chest of gold; the
Arab opened it, and found in it a red powder. "Throw away this dust,"
I said, "and fill the casket with precious stones."

"Poor fool that you are," he replied; "this dust is the source of all
the riches of the world; it is red sulphur. A small portion of it is
sufficient to change into gold the basest metals. With it I can build
palaces, found cities, purchase the life of men and the admiration of
beautiful women. I can even, if I please, cause myself to become
prince and king; but I cannot by it prolong my life a single day, or
efface an hour from my by-past existence. God alone is great! God
alone is eternal!"

Whilst he thus spoke, I employed myself in collecting precious stones
and pearls, filling with them my girdle, pockets, and turban.

"Unhappy man!" he cried, "what are you doing? You will bring down upon
us the vengeance of Heaven. We are only permitted to touch this
casket; and if we should attempt to carry out of the valley a leaf
from one of these trees, or a stone from off the ground, instantaneous
death would be our lot."

I immediately emptied my pockets, much to my regret, and followed my
master, not however without often turning my head aside to look at the
incalculable riches spread around me. Fearing that I should fall a
prey to the seductions of wealth, my master took me by the hand and
led me out of the city. We quitted it by the path by which we came,
but more slowly than we approached. When we arrived at the crystal
precipice it opened before us, and we passed through it; when we had
done so, we looked about in vain for the wonderful plain and the
city,--they could no longer be seen. We found ourselves on the brink
of the river of quicksilver, and crossed the bridge. Our camels were
feeding on the flowery herbage, and I ran to mine with delight, as to
an old friend. After refastening our girths, we mounted and set out on
the road to Egypt. We were three months in reaching Cairo. During all
this time I suffered many privations; my health was destroyed, and I
endured every kind of evil. From some fatality, the cause of which was
unknown to me at the time, I alone was exposed to all the accidents of
the journey, while my companion continued in health and comfort,
passing safely through every danger. I discovered afterwards that all
my misfortunes arose from my having in my possession the enchanted
keys. This was one day towards the close of our journey, when the Arab
confessed to me that he was aware of this fatal quality of theirs, and
that it was in order to free himself from it that he purchased me.
When I wanted to throw away the accursed keys, he withheld me.
"Patience and resignation," said he, "and these virtues only, can
exhaust their evil influence, and for your own sake I would advise you
to keep them to the end. All will turn out eventually for your good."

A few days after receiving this communication we arrived at Cairo, and
I immediately ran to my home, the door of which was open and broken,
and the interior occupied by crowds of famished and prowling dogs, who
had taken up their abode there. A neighbour, who heard me calling out
in an agony of despair, opened her door, and said to me, "Hassan
Abdallah, is that you? Well may you be astounded! Know that some time
after your departure,--that is, about five months ago,--some thieves,
knowing that you were absent, and that there was no male slave left to
take care of your house, broke into your house during the night,
insulted the women, and went off with all the property that you had
left. Your mother died a few days after, in consequence. Your wife, in
her destitution, resolved to go to Alexandria, to her brother. The
caravan which she accompanied was attacked by the Arabs of the desert,
who, being enraged at the resistance they met with, put all to the
sword without mercy."

On hearing these sad tidings, I shed many tears, and returning to the
Arab, accused him with being the cause of all my misfortunes. "God is
the author and end of all things," he said to me, and then, taking me
by the hand, led me along with him. It appeared that on the same day
he had hired a magnificent palace, to this he now compelled me to
repair and reside with him; and for my consolation, he told me that he
would share with me the treasures of science, and teach me to read in
the book of alchemy.

Here we resided a long time: whenever his costly fancies caused him to
be in want of money, he used to have several hundred-weight of lead
conveyed secretly to him, and when it was melted he threw some small
portions of red sulphur into it, and in a moment the vile metal was
changed into the purest gold. In the midst of all this luxury, I
continued ill and unhappy; my feeble body was unable to support the
weight, or to endure the contact of the rich clothes and the precious
stuffs with which I was covered. The most delicate food was served up
to me in vain, and the most delicious wines; I only felt disgusted and
disinclined towards them all. I had superb apartments, beds formed of
sweet smelling and costly woods, and divans of purple; but sleep, in
spite of all, was a stranger to my eyes.

I called on death, but he refused to come to me. The Arab, on the
other hand, passed his time in pleasure and feasting.

The palace gardens extended to the banks of the Nile; they were
planted with the rarest trees, brought at a great expense from India,
Persia, China, and the isles. Machines, constructed with great skill,
raised the water of the Nile, and caused it to fall in fresh and
brilliant jets into marble reservoirs,

     "'Mid orange groves and myrtle bowers, that breathed a gale
     of fragrance round,"

mingled with the perfume of jasmines and roses; there were silken
pavilions, embroidered with gold, and supported on pillars of gold and
silver; brilliant lamps, enclosed in globes of crystal, shed over all
a light soft and effulgent as that of the moon.

There, on each returning night, the Arab received his companions, and
treated them with the utmost magnificence. His liberality made every
one who approached him his friend, and they styled him the Great, the
Magnificent.

He would sometimes come to see me at the pavilion, where my illness
compelled me to remain, a solitary prisoner. On one such occasion, he
paid me his visit after a night of pleasure, early in the morning. He
was heated with wine, his face red, and his eyes shining with a
strange lustre. He sat down beside me, and taking hold of my hand,
began singing, and when he had concluded, shut his eyes, leaned his
head on his breast, and appeared to fall asleep. Alarmed at length at
his unnatural stillness, I leaned over to him; his breathing had
ceased, he had expired.

Perceiving that all help was useless, I began to rummage his pockets,
his girdle, and his turban, in the hope of finding the keys of
happiness and of wisdom, but could not discover them. I thereupon, in
spite of my bad state of health, and without losing a moment, laid
hold of the casket containing the book of alchemy and the red sulphur;
and considering that I might lawfully regard myself as the legitimate
proprietor, I carried it secretly to my former house, which I had
previously caused to be rebuilt and provided with new furniture.

Returning to the palace just as I had left it, I began to cry aloud,
and to ask for help; the slaves and servants ran immediately to know
what was the matter, and I then sent them to bring the best physician,
even the caliph's, if he could be found. When the medical men came
they declared that the stranger had died by the will of God. I then
gave orders for the funeral.

His body, attired in the richest vestments, was placed, exposed to
view, in a coffin of aloe-wood, lined with gold. A cloth of a
marvellously fine tissue, which had been manufactured for a Persian
prince, served for a coverlet. Fifty servants, all dressed in mourning
attire, bore, in turns, the coffin on their shoulders; and every good
mussulman who passed by, hastened to lend his assistance, if it were
only by a helping hand.

A considerable number of women, hired for the purpose, followed the
bier, uttering plaintive cries.

The keepers of the mosque sung sacred verses, and the crowd repeated,
"God is God! There is no God but God! He alone is eternal." In this
order, accompanied by numerous friends whom the Arab had made by his
generosity, we proceeded to the cemetery, southward of the city, and
near to the gate of Bab-el-Masr (the gate of victory). I gave a purse
of gold to a skilful architect, with orders to raise a tomb to the
memory of my master.

Returning to the palace, it fell to my lot, of course, to preside at
the funeral repast. This painful duty was scarcely over, when I saw
some officers from the caliph arrive, who were commanded by his order
to take possession of the wealth contained in the palace, and which
belonged to him, as a stranger's heir. I was driven away, and left the
palace, taking with me, in appearance, nothing but the dress which I
wore, but, in reality, the owner of an inestimable treasure.

Betaking myself to my house, I resolved to live there an unknown and
peaceful life, passing the time in the study of the sciences, and only
using the red sulphur to impart benefit to others in secret.

A curious and jealous neighbour having ascended the terrace of my
house one evening, and seen me at work, effecting the transmutation of
the lead into gold, told my secret to his wife, who repeated it at the
bath, and next morning all Cairo was acquainted with it.

The report reached the ears of the caliph, Theilon, who sent for me,
and told me that he knew I possessed the great secret of knowledge,
and that if I would share it with him, he would overwhelm me with
honours, and associate me with him in rank. I refused to the impious
man the distinguished favour which God had denied to him. Transported
with rage, he caused me to be loaded with chains, and thrown into a
gloomy dungeon; and being baffled in his attempts to penetrate my
secret, he placed the casket and the book under the care of a person
on whose fidelity he could depend, hoping to force the secret from me
by the sufferings which he made me endure. In this state I have lived
for forty years. By my persecutor's orders, I have been made to
undergo all kinds of privations and tortures, and only knew of his
death by my being relieved from punishment.

This morning, when kneeling on the ground at my devotions, I put my
hand on a strange and hard substance. Looking at it, I perceived that
it was the fatal keys which I had years ago buried under the floor of
my dungeon. They were so worn by rust and damp, that they crumbled
into powder in my hand, and I then thought that God intended to have
pity upon me, and that my afflictions were about to end, either by
death or the alleviation of my sufferings. A few moments after, your
officers came and set me at liberty.

"Now, O king!" continued the old man, "I have lived long enough, since
I have been permitted to approach the greatest and most upright of
monarchs."

Mohammed, overjoyed at performing an act of justice, thanked Heaven
for having sent him such a treasure, and being desirous to prove its
reality, he caused one thousand hundred-weight of lead to be melted in
immense caldrons; and having mixed some of the red powder in the fiery
mass, and pronounced over it the magical words dictated to him by the
old man, the base metal was instantly changed into pure gold.

The caliph, in order to propitiate the favour of Heaven, resolved to
employ this treasure in the building of a mosque which should
transcend by its magnificence every other in the world. He collected
architects from all the neighbouring countries, laid before them the
plan of a vast edifice, unfettered by the difficulties or expense of
its execution.

The architects traced out an immense quadrangle, the sides of which
faced the four cardinal points of the heavens. At each corner a tower
of prodigious height was placed, of admirable proportions; the top of
the structure was surrounded with a gallery and crowned with a dome of
gilt copper. On each side of the edifice one thousand pillars were
raised, supporting arches of an elegant curve and solid construction,
and on the arches terraces were laid out with balustrades of gold of
exquisite workmanship. In the centre of the edifice an immense
pavilion was erected, whose construction was of so light and elegant a
nature, that one would have thought it reached from earth to heaven.
The vault was inlaid with azure-coloured enamel and studded with
golden stars. Marbles of the rarest kinds formed the pavement, and the
walls consisted of a mosaic formed of jasper, porphyry, agate,
mother-of-pearl, sapphires, rubies, and other precious stones. The
pillars and arches were covered with arabesques and verses from the
Koran, carved in relief, and painted. No wood was employed in the
building of this wonderful edifice, which was therefore fire-proof.
Mohammed spent seven years in erecting this celebrated mosque, and
expended on it a sum of two millions of dinars.

Although so old, Hassan Abdallah recovered his health and strength,
and lived to be a hundred years of age, honoured with the esteem and
the friendship of the caliph.

The mosque built by the caliph Mohammed is still to be seen at Cairo,
and is the largest and the finest of all the mosques of that great
city.

       *       *       *       *       *

One day, very shortly after the completion of the mosque, the caliph
and Hassan Abdallah were absent for three days on a journey. Mohammed
communicated to no one but his first vizir his intention; but on his
return he assembled his whole court, and informed them that the object
of the expedition had been to bury the casket, with the book and the
powder, where it was impossible they could ever be discovered. "I have
done," added Mohammed, "what I could to consecrate this wonderful
treasure, but I would not trust even myself any longer with so
dangerous a temptation."

FOOTNOTES:

[1] Most of our readers will also recognize in the Story of the
Princess Schirine the groundwork of one of Hans Andersen's beautiful
Danish Tales, "The Flying Trunk."



II.

SOLIMAN BEY AND THE THREE STORY-TELLERS.


Soliman Bey, passing one day along a street in Cairo, saw three
common-looking men seated at the door of a coffee-house and sipping
their cup of mocha. From their dull and meaningless looks he
conjectured that they were under the influence of haschich[2]. After
looking at them attentively, the bey saluted them, and was pursuing
his way, when he suddenly found himself obliged to stop, as a long
train of camels, heavily laden, blocked up the street and prevented
him from passing on. The bey, having nothing better to do, amused
himself by scrutinizing attentively the eaters of haschich, who were
old men. A warm discussion seemed to be going on among them; they
raised their arms, vied with each other who should cry the loudest,
and made the strangest possible grimaces; but owing to the distance at
which he stood, he was unable to hear what they said. On his return
home, being curious to know the subject of their dispute, he sent his
officer to beg these three originals to wait upon him.

When they arrived, he said to them, "What were you disputing about, my
friends, when I passed you?"

"May Allah prolong your days!" replied one of them; "we were
disputing about which of us it was to whom the salutation belonged
that your highness addressed to us, for each of us took that honour to
himself."

The bey burst out laughing. "I greeted," he said, after a moment's
reflection, "him among you who did the greatest number of foolish
things while intoxicated by the haschich."

"It was I, my lord," they all at once exclaimed.

"Stop," replied the bey; "let each of you tell me one of the tricks
played him by the haschich, and the honour of my greeting shall be his
who shall have committed the greatest act of folly; and do you begin,"
added the bey, pointing to one of the men.


THE FIRST STORY-TELLER.

"Be it known to you, my lord," said the first story-teller, "that a
short time ago I had in my purse a thousand piastres, which were
enough for my expenses, and I was contented with my lot. One day,
however, I had been taking a walk, and on my return I sat down to rest
and chewed a bit of haschich, took my coffee, and lit my pipe; in two
or three hours my head began to buzz. I went out again and walked
about the streets. In front of a coffee-house I noticed some men
collected round an _improvisatore_, who was singing and accompanying
himself on the timbrel. I sat down in the circle and asked for coffee.
I lighted my pipe and commenced listening. The improvisatore depicted
a young girl. Oh, how beautiful she was! it was impossible not to love
her. Compared with her Iyleika[3] was but as a star in the presence of
the sun, and Ablia[3] but as the dirt of the street. I was so
captivated by his description of the beautiful girl, that when he
ceased I gave him all the money I had about me.

"Next day, at the same hour, while the haschich was boiling in my
brain, I ran to the coffee-house, where the improvisatore was
commencing the continuation of his yesterday's story. He now told how
paladins and padishahs disputed for the possession of my adorable
Haridée, and how she disdained their love and refused their offers. I
became more distracted this time than before, and the improvisatore
got from me twice as much as he did the day before. I gave him all
that I had, even to the last farthing.

"Next day I never left my little seat at the _café_. The improvisatore
struck his tambourine this time with more vehemence while singing the
charms of the beautiful Haridée. He then began to relate how Haridée
was in love with a certain worthless fellow. At this it was impossible
to tell what I felt; the hydra of jealousy devoured my heart and
poured a maddening poison through my veins. I became as one deprived
of all sense and feeling. But stop; the parents have separated the
lovers and plunged them in an ocean of tears. I again breathed more
freely, and emptied my pockets to fill the purse of the improvisatore.

"Thus were passed many days in succession. The flame of love and the
stings of jealousy tormented me without ceasing. The haschich did its
part unremittingly, and threw me at one moment into fire, and at
another into ice and snow, hurling me from the height of bliss into
the depths of misery. My fortunes fell with me, and I soon became
totally destitute. But my thoughts were otherwise taken up than with
eating or drinking; my love for Haridée had become the only source to
me of life and action. In this way, with empty stomach and purse, I
went one day to the _café_ after having paid a few paras for a little
haschich. I listened--the voice of the improvisatore trembled; in
truth he wept, and grief was depicted on his features.

"'What has happened?' I asked, drawing near to him.

"'Poor Haridée!' he replied.

"'What is the matter? What has taken place?' I exclaimed.

"'She is dead!' he muttered.

"I wept, I tore my clothes, and fled I scarce knew where. When the
first transports of my despair had subsided, I saw pass before my
eyes, still under the influence of the haschich, the funeral of
Haridée. The mournful cry of 'There is no God but God, and Mahomet is
his prophet,' echoed in my ears, amidst the outcries and the
lamentations of the women. I ran like a madman from street to street,
while the crowd followed on my path with the coffin of Haridée, and
the frightful groans and cries burst forth louder and louder on my
ears. At length, worn out, and sore all over, I fell down in a state
of complete unconsciousness, and when I came to myself, I perceived
that I was at the threshold of my own home. I arose, and endeavoured
to recal past events, which as they woke up in my memory caused me to
feel the utmost surprise. My purse was empty, my heart broken, and the
blood was flowing down my face, for in my fall I had cut open my head.
After remaining a whole day in the house, I took a small piece of
haschich and went to a coffee-house near at hand, where my friend the
landlord poured me out a cup of mocha, and gave me a pipe. It was
there that I met my two friends, and received from you, my gracious
lord, a look, and a nod."

"This story is not a bad one," replied Soliman Bey, "but do not too
hastily take to yourself the honour of my greeting; let me hear first
what the others have to say."


THE SECOND STORY-TELLER.

"Know, my lord," replied the second, "that I was formerly a rich and
respected merchant, with a beautiful wife and fine children. My life
was like a morning of spring-time--clear, peaceful, and balmy. But
haschich has ruined the structure of my happiness, and destroyed it
from the roof to the foundations. One day when I had imbibed a little
of this fatal poison, I was reclining, after the labours of the day,
on my sofa, sipping from time to time a mouthful of coffee, and
inhaling a whiff of perfumed _latakia_. My wife was occupied at my
side in embroidery, and my children were at play in the room, which
they made ring again with their shrill voices. At length, my brain
becoming overpowered by the vapours of the haschich, the thickening
fancies began to chase each other in quick succession, and my
imagination at length became morbidly excited. The cries of my
children seemed insupportable to me. I ordered them several times to
be quiet, but the brats, wild with their games and noise, paid no
attention to me. At last I lost patience, laid hold of my stick, and
rapped angrily on the floor, ordering them sternly to be quiet. In the
midst of this fit of anger, I stopped short, all of a sudden. The
floor of my apartment emitted a hollow sound, as if there were a vault
beneath it. The haschich suggested to me that there might be hidden
treasure down below. 'Oh, oh,' I said to myself, 'I must not be in a
hurry. If I should discover the treasure in my wife's presence, she
will foolishly run and trumpet it about to all our neighbours. What
good would that do? Let me consider, then, what I shall do to get her
away.' Intoxicated as I was, there was no need to deliberate long. I
darted from my seat, exclaiming, 'Woman! thou art separated from me by
a triple divorce!'[4]

"My wife became pale as death. She threw aside her embroidery, and
rose up.

"'What is the matter, my dear husband? What has happened? Of what have
I been guilty?'

"'Don't say a word! And hasten this moment to leave the house, with
your children.'

"'But pray inform me, my lord and master, when and how I have given
you any cause of complaint? We have now lived together twelve years in
perfect peace and harmony, and never been but on the most affectionate
terms; tell me.'

"'No more explanations,' I replied; 'here are a thousand
_grouches_[5]. Go to your room, and take of the furniture as much as
you require, and return to your father's house.'

"Sadly and sorrowfully she thereupon proceeded to collect her wearing
apparel, uttering mournful cries and lamentations, and taking her
children with her, left the house.

"'Now!' I exclaimed, with satisfaction, 'now, I am quite alone.'

"'Silence, Abou-Kalif,' whispered the haschich to me; 'don't be in
such haste. Suppose you find this treasure, who knows but that at the
first meeting of haschich-eaters, you will disclose your discovery to
all the world. Put yourself to the proof beforehand, by some effectual
means, and thus find out if your tongue have sufficient self-command
to keep still, and not say one word too much.'

"Faithful to the voice of my inward monitor, I arose, and taking from
my chest the sum of five hundred grouches, went to pay a visit to the
vali[6].

"'Here,' said I to him, 'take this money, and give me on the soles of
my feet five hundred blows with a leathern thong, and, while laying
them on, ask me if I have seen, found, or discovered any thing?'

"The man was extremely surprised at my request, and refused to comply
with it; but the people about him said that my body was my own, and
that I was at liberty to dispose of it as I thought proper. 'Take his
money,' they said to him, 'and give him a hearty flogging.'

"The vali, shrugging his shoulders, gave the signal; I was laid on the
ground, my feet were tied together, and the lash whistled and sung on
my bare feet. At each blow, the question I had suggested was asked,
and I replied in the negative. This system of question and answer went
on till the last blow. Fairly exhausted with the pain, I fell down the
moment I attempted to stand up. I therefore crawled along on my knees,
and reached my ass, on whose back I managed, somehow or other, to
raise myself, and thus reached my home.

"A few days' rest having restored me in some measure, I resolved to
prosecute my search for the hidden treasure. But the haschich, to
which I had not forgotten on that day to pay my usual respects,
stopped me in my intention. 'O Abou-Kalif,' it muttered in my ear,
'you have not yet put yourself sufficiently to the proof. Are you now
in a fit state to resist all attempts to make you disclose your
secret? Submit to another trial, my good fellow!' This suggestion was
all-powerful, and I submitted forthwith. I drew from my strong-box one
thousand grouches, and went to the aga of the Janissaries. 'Take this
money,' I said to him, 'and give me in exchange for it a thousand
stripes with a thong on the bare back; asking me between the blows,
Have you seen any thing? have you found any thing? have you discovered
any thing?' The aga did not keep me waiting long for a reply,--and
having pocketed the money, bestowed upon me most faithfully the full
complement of the lashes desired.

"At the conclusion of the whipping my soul seemed hovering on my lips,
as if about to leave my mutilated body, which was quite prostrated by
the infliction. I was obliged to be carried to my ass, and it was many
days before I could set my feet to the ground. When I had recovered a
little, I recollected all the details of the strange adventure which
had brought upon me the acute anguish that I felt in every part of my
body; and the more I reflected on the matter, the more vividly I saw
the fatal consequences that would follow from too much confidence in
the suggestions inspired by the haschich. I cursed the hateful ideas
produced by the vapours of this drug, and promised myself that I would
amend my ways, and repair, as far as possible, my injustice to my
wife. But at the very moment when this praiseworthy resolution arose
in my brain and diffused its odours there, like a fresh-opening
flower, my hand, from the strength of habit, sought for the tin box
that lay under my pillow, and drew from it a white particle, which I
placed in my mouth, as if to mock all the weak efforts of my will. In
fact, while my mind was occupied in planning a final rupture with the
perfidious hempen-seed, my enemy stole in on me like a midnight robber
by night, imposed his yoke, and overthrew completely all my good
intentions. Unwittingly I found myself again in the power of the
enemy. 'Well, Abou-Kalif,' he said, 'arise. The precautions you have
taken are sufficiently severe; it is time to set to work, and not
allow the favourable moment to escape, otherwise you may repent it.'
In this manner spake the delusive poison working within me, and I was
wholly in its power, incapable of resistance. I rose from my bed with
a frightful pain in my back and sides, dragged myself along towards
the mysterious flag-stone, and with my heart beating violently, and my
brain cloudy and obscured, I set to work to raise the stone, which
speedily yielded to my efforts. In a state of the highest excitement,
I sat down on the edge of the cavern with my legs hanging down into
it, and my hands leaning on its sides; I scarcely dared to look
downwards. The haschich, however, pushed me forwards, and seemed to
press on my shoulders. My hands at last yielded, and I fell down. O my
sovereign and master, do not ask where I found myself; enough that I
felt myself stifled. The noisome matter into which I had fallen up to
the chin, being disturbed and agitated, had emitted exhalations which
fairly suffocated me. I strove to cry out, but in vain. I fainted, and
lost all consciousness.

"Meanwhile, whilst I, pursued by the fatal influence of the haschich,
had fallen over the edge of the precipice, where I was now struggling,
my disconsolate wife had begged her father to allow her to make
inquiry respecting me. 'I know,' she said, weeping, 'that a sudden
attack of madness has seized him, and that the real cause of his
sending me away, as well as of all the evil that has just befallen us,
is the haschich. Let no curse fall upon him. No doubt my husband will
change his conduct with regard to me, as I cannot reproach myself with
any thing; I will therefore go and see what has happened to him.'
'Well, my child, you may go,' replied her father; 'I shall not seek to
hinder you.' She went, and knocked at the door, but no one replied.
She then inquired of the neighbours if Abou-Kalif was at home; they
said they had not seen him leave the house for the last week. On being
told this, she had the door burst open, and, followed by a crowd of
neighbours of both sexes, searched for me for a long time in vain. At
last, however, I was discovered, half dead and stifled. They pulled me
out, cleansed and sweetened me, and attired me in a fresh suit of
clothes; after which I left the house to breathe the fresh air and
recover myself. It was not long, however, before the haschich regained
its old dominion over me, and led me to the coffee-house, where you
saw me, and condescended to honour me with your greeting."

"Not quite so soon," exclaimed the bey, holding his sides with
laughter; "your story is also a very good one, but before I award to
you the honour of my salutation, I must hear what your other companion
has got to say."


THE THIRD STORY-TELLER.

"Sovereign and master," commenced the third eater of haschich, "no
longer ago than a week I was so happy and satisfied with my lot, that
in truth I would not have exchanged it even for your own. I had a
house filled with every comfort, plenty of money, and a wife who was a
miracle of beauty. One day this charming better half of myself, after
having passed all the day in the bath, returned from it looking so
clean, fresh, and rosy, that my head, where the haschich which I had
been taking for the last hour and a half was breeding disorder, became
on fire and was lost. My eyes grew intoxicated with my wife, as if I
had then beheld her beauty for the first time, and my heart bounded
like the holy waves of the Nile during a storm.

"'Dear cousin,' I cried, for she was my cousin as well as my wife,
'how captivating you are to-day! I am over head and ears in love with
you again!'

"At this instant the haschich suggested to me to divorce her
immediately in order to contract a new marriage and taste again the
bliss of a first union. No sooner said than done; I pronounced the
prescribed phrase, and the next day I celebrated a new marriage with
her[7]. When the festivities were over, I conducted my relations and
guests to the door, which, from absence of mind, I had forgotten to
shut.

"'Dear cousin,' said my wife to me when we were alone, 'go and shut
the street door.'

"'It would be strange indeed if I did,' I replied. 'Am I just made a
bridegroom, clothed in silk, wearing a shawl and a dagger set with
diamonds, and am I to go and shut the door? Why, my dear, you are
crazy; go and shut it yourself!'

"'Oh indeed!' she exclaimed; 'am I, young, robed in a satin dress,
with lace and precious stones, am I to go and shut the court-yard
door? No, indeed, it is you who have become crazy, and not I. Come,
let us make a bargain,' she continued; 'and let the first who speaks
get up and bar the door.'

"'Agreed,' I replied, and straightway I became mute, and she too was
silent, while we both sat down, dressed as we were in our nuptial
attire, looking at each other, and seated on opposite sofas. We
remained thus for one--two--hours. During this time thieves happening
to pass by, and seeing the door open, entered and laid hold of
whatever came to their hand. We heard footsteps in the house, but
opened not our mouths; the robbers came even into our room, and saw us
seated, motionless and indifferent to all that took place. They
continued therefore their pillage, collecting together every thing
valuable, and even dragging away the carpets from beneath us; they
then laid hands on our own persons, which they despoiled of every
article worth taking, while we, in the fear of losing our wager, said
not a word.

"Having thus cleared the house, the thieves departed quietly, but we
remained on our seats, saying not a syllable. Towards morning a police
officer came round on his tour of inspection, and, seeing our door
opened, walked in. Having searched all the rooms and found no one, he
entered the apartment where we were seated, and inquired the meaning
of what he saw. Neither my wife nor I would condescend to reply. The
officer became angry, and ordered our heads to be cut off. The
executioner's sword was just about to perform its office, when my wife
cried out, 'Sir, he is my husband, spare him!'

"'Oh, oh!' I exclaimed, overjoyed and clapping my hands, 'you have
lost the wager; go, shut the door.'

"I then explained the whole affair to the police officer, who shrugged
his shoulders and went away, leaving us in a truly dismal plight.
Immediately after I went to a coffee-house, where you deigned to
honour me with a salutation."

       *       *       *       *       *

At the conclusion of this story the bey, who was ready to die with
laughter, exclaimed, "This time it is you who are in the right; you
are truly entitled to my respects."

FOOTNOTES:

[2] An intoxicating drug, like opium.

[3] Personages who figure in Arabian legends.

[4] This is the legal form of pronouncing a divorce among the
Mahometans.

[5] A small coin, in circulation in Turkey, about the value of
eighteenpence of our money. It is probably from the same root as the
German _groschen_.

[6] The public executioner.

[7] The Mahometans may immediately take back the woman whom they had
divorced, but a fresh marriage ceremony must take place.



III.

THE STORY OF PRINCE KHALAF AND THE PRINCESS OF CHINA.


Prince Khalaf was the son of an aged khan of the Nagäi-Tartars. The
history of his time makes honourable mention of his name. It relates
that he surpassed all the princes of the age in beauty, in wisdom, and
in valour; that he was as learned as the greatest doctors of his age;
that he could fathom the deepest mysteries of the commentaries on the
Koran; and that he knew by heart the sayings of the prophet: it speaks
of him, in short, as the hero of Asia and the wonder of the East.

This prince was the soul of the councils of his father Timurtasch.
When he gave advice, the most accomplished statesmen approved it, and
could not sufficiently admire his prudence and wisdom. If, moreover,
it were necessary to take up arms, he was immediately seen at the head
of the troops of the state, seeking out the enemy, engaging them and
vanquishing them. He had already won several victories, and the Nagäis
had rendered themselves so formidable by their repeated successes,
that the neighbouring nations did not venture to quarrel with them.

Such was the prosperous state of affairs in the khan's dominions, when
an ambassador from the sultan of Carisma arrived at the court of
Timurtasch, and demanded in the name of his master that the Nagäis
should henceforth pay him a yearly tribute; he added that in default
he would come in person, with an overwhelming force, and compel them
to submit, at the same time depriving their sovereign of his crown as
a punishment for his refusal. On hearing this arrogant message, the
khan immediately assembled his council in order to decide whether to
pay the tribute rather than risk a war with so powerful an enemy, or
whether to treat his menaces with contempt and prepare to repel the
invaders. Khalaf, with the majority of the council, were of the latter
opinion, and the ambassador being dismissed with a refusal, took his
departure for Carisma.

The khan lost no time in sending deputies to the neighbouring nations,
in order to represent to them that it was to their interest to unite
with him against the sultan of Carisma, whose ambition now exceeded
all bounds, and who would undoubtedly exact the same tribute from them
if he should succeed in conquering the Nagäis. The deputies succeeded
in these negotiations; the neighbouring nations and tribes, and
amongst them the Circassians, engaged to join in the proposed
confederation, and to furnish among them a quota of fifty thousand
men. On this promise, the khan proceeded to raise fresh troops, in
addition to the army which he already had on foot.

While the Nagäis were making these preparations, the sultan of Carisma
assembled an army of two hundred thousand men, and crossed the
Jaxartes at Cogende. He marched through the countries of Ilac and
Saganac, where he found abundance of provisions; and had advanced as
far as Jund, before the army of the khan, commanded by prince Khalaf,
was able to take the field, in consequence of the Circassians and the
other auxiliary troops not having been able sooner to join him. As
soon as these succours arrived, Khalaf marched direct towards Jund,
but he had scarcely passed Jenge Kemt, when his scouts informed him
that the enemy was close at hand, and was advancing to attack him. The
young prince immediately ordered his troops to halt, and proceeded to
arrange them in order of battle.

The two armies were nearly equal in numbers, and the men who composed
them equally courageous. The battle which ensued was bloody and
obstinate. The sultan did all that a warrior skilled in the conduct of
armies could do; and the prince Khalaf, on his side, more than could
be expected from so young a general. At one time the Nagäi-Tartars had
the advantage, at another they were obliged to yield to the
Carismians; at last both parties, alternately victors and vanquished,
were obliged by the approach of night to sound a retreat. The combat
was to have recommenced in the morning; but, in the mean time, the
leader of the Circassians went secretly to the sultan, and offered to
abandon the cause of the Nagäis, provided the sultan would pledge
himself, on oath, never to exact tribute from the Circassians upon any
pretence whatever. The sultan having consented, the treaty was
confirmed, and the Circassian leader, instead of occupying his place
next day in the army of the khan, detached his troops from the Nagäis,
and took the road back to his own country.

This treachery was a terrible blow to prince Khalaf, who, seeing
himself now much weakened in numbers, would have withdrawn for the
time from the conflict; but there was no possibility of retreat. The
Carismians advanced furiously to the charge, and taking advantage of
the ground which allowed them to extend their lines, they surrounded
the Nagäis on all sides. The latter, notwithstanding that they had
been deserted by their best auxiliaries, did not lose their courage.
Animated by the example of their prince, they closed their ranks, and
for a long time firmly sustained the terrible onset of their enemies.
At last, however, resistance became hopeless, and Khalaf, seeing all
hope at an end, thought of nothing but his escape, which he
fortunately succeeded in effecting. The moment the sultan was apprised
of his flight, he sent six thousand horsemen to endeavour to capture
him, but he eluded their pursuit, by taking roads that were unknown to
them; and after a few days' hard riding through unfrequented and
unknown tracts, arrived at his father's court, where he spread sorrow
and consternation, by the disastrous tidings he brought.

If this piece of news deeply afflicted Timurtasch, the intelligence he
next received drove him to despair. An officer who had escaped from
the battle, brought word that the sultan of Carisma had put to the
sword nearly all the Nagäis, and that he was advancing with all
possible speed, fully resolved to put the whole family of the khan to
death, and to absorb the nation into his own kingdom. The khan then
repented of having refused to pay the tribute, but he fully recognized
the force of the Arab proverb, "When the city is in ruins, what is the
use of repentance?" As time pressed, and it was necessary to fly, for
fear of falling into the hands of the sultan, the khan, the princess
Elmaze (diamond), his wife, and Khalaf, made a selection of all their
most precious treasures, and departed from the capital, Astracan,
accompanied by several officers of the palace, who refused to abandon
them in their need, as well as by such of the troops as had cut their
way through the ranks of their enemies with the young prince.

They directed their march towards Bulgaria; their object being to beg
an asylum at the court of some sovereign prince. They had now been
several days on their journey, and had gained the Caucasus, when a
swarm of some four thousand suddenly poured down upon them from that
range. Although Khalaf had scarcely a hundred men with him, he
steadily received the furious attack of the robbers, of whom numbers
fell; his troops, however, were by degrees overpowered and
slaughtered, and he himself remained in the power of the bandits, some
of whom fell upon the spoil, whilst others butchered the followers of
the khan. They only spared the lives of that prince, his wife, and
his son, leaving them, however, almost naked in the midst of the
mountains.

It is impossible to describe the grief of Timurtasch when he saw
himself reduced to this extremity. He envied the fate of those whom he
had seen slain before his eyes, and giving way to despair, sought to
destroy himself. The princess burst into tears, and made the air
resound with her lamentations and groans. Khalaf alone had strength to
support the weight of their misfortunes; he was possessed of an
indomitable courage. The bitter lamentations which the khan and his
wife uttered were his greatest trouble. "Oh, my father! Oh, my
mother!" said he, "do not succumb to your misfortunes. Remember that
it is God who wills that you should be thus wretched. Let us submit
ourselves without a murmur to his absolute decrees. Are we the first
princes whom the rod of justice has struck? How many rulers before us
have been driven from their kingdoms, and after wandering about for
years in foreign lands, sharing the lot of the most abject of mortals,
have been in the end restored to their thrones! If God has the power
to pluck off crowns, has He not also the power to restore them? Let us
hope that He will commiserate our misery, and that He will in time
change into prosperity the deplorable condition in which we now are."

[Illustration: Prince Khalaf holding back his father, p. 63.]

With such arguments he endeavoured to console his father and mother,
and to some extent succeeded; they experienced a secret consolation,
and at last allowed themselves to take comfort. "So be it, my son,"
said the khan, "let us bow to Providence; and since these evils which
encompass us are written in the book of fate, let us endure them
without repining." At these words the royal party made up their minds
to be firm under their misfortunes, and proceeded to continue their
journey on foot, the robbers having taken their horses. They wandered
on for a long time, living upon the fruits they found in the valleys;
but at length they entered upon a desert, where the earth yielded
nothing upon which they could subsist, and now their courage deserted
them. The khan, far advanced in years, began to feel his strength fail
him; and the princess, worn out with the fatigue of the journey she
had made, could scarcely hold out any longer. In this predicament,
Khalaf, although wofully tired himself, had no resource but to carry
them by turns on his shoulders. At last all three, overwhelmed by
hunger, thirst, and weariness, arrived at a spot abounding with
frightful precipices. It was a hill, very steep, and intersected with
deep chasms, forming what appeared to be dangerous passes. Through
these, however, seemed to be the only way by which to enter upon the
vast plain which stretched out beyond; for both sides of the hill were
so encumbered with brambles and thorns, that it was impossible to
force a way through. When the princess perceived the chasms, she
uttered a piercing cry, and the khan at length lost his patience. He
rushed furiously forward. "I can bear this no longer," said he to his
son; "I yield to my hard destiny; I succumb to so much suffering. I
will throw myself headlong into one of these deep gulfs, which,
doubtless, Heaven has reserved for my tomb. I will escape the tyranny
of wickedness. I prefer death to such a miserable existence."

The khan, yielding himself up to the frenzy which had taken possession
of him, was on the point of throwing himself down one of the
precipices, when prince Khalaf seized him in his arms and held him
back. "Oh, my father!" said he, "what are you doing? Why give way to
this transport of fury? Is it thus that you show the submission you
owe to the decrees of Heaven? Calm yourself. Instead of displaying a
rebellious impatience of its will, let us endeavour to deserve by our
constancy its compassion and favour. I confess that we are in a
deplorable state, and that we can scarcely take a step without danger
amidst these abysses; but there may be another road by which we can
enter the plain: let me go and see if I can find one. In the mean
time, my lord, calm the violence of your transports, and remain near
the princess; I will return immediately."

"Go, then, my son," replied the khan, "we will await you here; do not
fear that I will any longer give way to despair."

The young prince traversed the whole hill without being able to
discover any path. He was oppressed with the deepest grief; he threw
himself on the ground, sighed, and implored the help of Heaven. He
rose up, and again searched for some track that would conduct them to
the plain. At length he found one. He followed it, returning thanks to
Heaven for the discovery, and advanced to the foot of a tree which
stood at the entrance of the plain, and which covered with its shade a
fountain of pure transparent water. He also perceived other trees
laden with fruit of an extraordinary size. Delighted with this
discovery, he ran to inform his father and mother, who received the
news with the greater joy, since they now began to hope that Heaven
had begun to compassionate their misery.

Khalaf conducted them to the fountain, where all three bathed their
faces and their hands and quenched the burning thirst which consumed
them. They then ate of the fruits which the young prince gathered for
them, and which, in their state of exhaustion from want of food,
appeared to them delicious. "My lord," said Khalaf to his father, "you
see the injustice of your complaints. You imagined that Heaven had
forsaken us; I implored its succour, and it has succoured us. It is
not deaf to the voice of the unfortunate who put their whole trust in
its mercy."

They remained near the fountain two or three days to repose and
recruit their wasted strength. After that they collected as much of
the fruit as they could carry, and advanced into the plain, hoping to
find their way to some inhabited place. They were not deceived in
their expectations; they soon perceived before them a town which
appeared large and splendidly built. They made their way to it, and
having arrived at the gates, resolved to remain there and wait for
night, not wishing to enter the town during the day, covered with dust
and perspiration, and with what little clothing the robbers had left
them, travel-worn and rent with brambles. They selected a tree which
cast a delicious shade, and stretched themselves upon the grass at its
foot. They had reposed there some time, when an old man came out of
the town and directed his steps to the same place, to enjoy the cool
shade. He sat down near them after making them a profound obeisance.
They in turn saluted him, and then inquired what was the name of the
town. "It is called Jaic," replied the old man. "The king,
Ileuge-Khan, makes it his residence. It is the capital of the country,
and derives its name from the river which flows through it. You must
be strangers since you ask me that question." "Yes," replied the khan,
"we come from a country very far from here. We were born in the
kingdom of Chrisnia, and we dwell upon the banks of the Caspian Sea;
we are merchants. We were travelling with a number of other merchants
in Captchak; a large band of robbers attacked our caravan and pillaged
us; they spared our lives, but have left us in the situation in which
you see us. We have traversed mount Caucasus, and found our way here
without knowing where we were directing our steps."

The old man, who had a compassionate heart for the distress of his
neighbour, expressed his sympathy for their misfortunes, and, to
assure them of his sincerity, offered them shelter in his house. He
made the offer with such cordiality, that, even if they had not needed
it, they would have felt some difficulty in refusing.

As soon as night set in he conducted them to his home. It was a small
house, very plainly furnished; but every thing was neat, and wore the
appearance rather of simplicity than of poverty. As the old man
entered he gave some orders in an undertone to one of his slaves, who
returned in a short time followed by two boys, one of whom carried a
large bundle of men's and women's clothes ready made, the other was
laden with all sorts of veils, turbans, and girdles. Prince Khalaf and
his father each took a caftan of cloth and a brocaded dress with a
turban of Indian muslin, and the princess a complete suit. After this
their host gave the boys the price of the clothes, sent them away, and
ordered supper. Two slaves brought the table and placed upon it a tray
covered with dishes of china, sandal, and aloe-wood, and several cups
of coral perfumed with ambergris. They then served up a repast,
delicate, yet without profusion. The old man endeavoured to raise the
spirits of his guests; but perceiving that his endeavours were vain,
"I see clearly," said he, "that the remembrance of your misfortunes is
ever present to your minds. You must learn how to console yourselves
for the loss of the goods of which the robbers have plundered you.
Travellers and merchants often experience similar mishaps. I was
myself once robbed on the road from Moussul to Bagdad. I nearly lost
my life on that occasion, and I was reduced to the miserable condition
in which I found you. If you please I will relate my history; the
recital of my misfortunes may encourage you to support yours." Saying
this, the good old man ordered his slaves to retire, and spoke as
follows.


THE STORY OF PRINCE AL ABBAS.

I am the son of the king of Moussul, the great Ben-Ortoc. As soon as I
had reached my twentieth year, my father permitted me to make a
journey to Bagdad; and, to support the rank of a king's son in that
great city, he ordered a splendid suite to attend me. He opened his
treasures and took out for me four camel-loads of gold; he appointed
officers of his own household to wait upon me, and a hundred soldiers
of his guard to form my escort.

I took my departure from Moussul with this numerous retinue in order
to travel to Bagdad. Nothing happened the first few days; but one
night, whilst we were quietly reposing in a meadow where we had
encamped, we were suddenly attacked so furiously by an overwhelming
body of Bedouin Arabs, that the greater part of my people were
massacred almost before I was aware of the danger. After the first
confusion I put myself at the head of such of the guards and officers
of my father's household as had escaped the first onslaught, and
charged the Bedouins. Such was the vigour of our attack, that more
than three hundred fell under our blows. As the day dawned, the
robbers, who were still sufficiently numerous to surround us on all
sides, seeing our insignificant numbers, and ashamed and irritated by
the obstinate resistance of such a handful of men, redoubled their
efforts. It was in vain that we fought with the fury of desperation;
they overpowered us; and at length we were forced to yield to
numbers.

They seized our arms and stripped off our clothes, and then, instead
of reserving us for slaves, or letting us depart, as people already
sufficiently wretched, in the state to which we were reduced, they
resolved to revenge the deaths of their comrades; and were cowards and
barbarians enough to slaughter the whole of their defenceless
prisoners. All my people perished; and the same fate was on the point
of being inflicted on me, when making myself known to the robbers,
"Stay, rash men," I exclaimed, "respect the blood of kings. I am
prince Al Abbas, only son of Ben-Ortoc, king of Moussul, and heir to
his throne." "I am glad to learn who thou art," replied the chief of
the Bedouins. "We have hated thy father mortally these many years; he
has hanged several of our comrades who fell into his hands; thou shalt
be treated after the same manner."

Thereupon they bound me; and the villains, after first sharing among
them all my baggage, carried me along with them to the foot of a
mountain between two forests, where a great number of small grey tents
were pitched. Here was their well-concealed camping ground. They
placed me under the chief's tent, which was both loftier and larger
than the rest. Here I was kept a whole day, after which they led me
forth and bound me to a tree, where, awaiting the lingering death that
was to put an end to my existence, I had to endure the mortification
of finding myself surrounded by the whole gang, insulted with bitter
taunts, and every feeling miserably outraged.

I had been tied to the tree for some considerable time, and the last
moments of my life appeared fast approaching, when a scout came
galloping in to inform the chief of the Bedouins that a splendid
chance offered itself seven leagues from thence; that a large caravan
was to encamp the next evening in a certain spot, which he named. The
chief instantly ordered his companions to prepare for the expedition;
this was accomplished in a very short time. They all mounted their
horses, and left me in their camp, not doubting but at their return
they would find me a corpse. But Heaven, which renders useless all the
resolves of men which do not agree with its eternal decrees, would not
suffer me to perish so young. The wife of the robber chief had, it
seems, taken pity on me; she managed to creep stealthily, during the
night, to the tree where I was bound, and said to me, "Young man, I am
touched by thy misfortune, and I would willingly release thee from the
dangers that surround thee; but, if I were to unbind thee, dost thou
think that thou hast strength enough left to escape." I replied, "The
same good God who has inspired thee with these charitable feelings
will give me strength to walk." The woman loosed my cords, gave me an
old caftan of her husband's, and showing me the road, "Take that
direction," said she, "and thou wilt speedily arrive at an inhabited
place." I thanked my kind benefactress, and walked all that night
without deviating from the road she had pointed out.

The next day, I perceived a man on foot, who was driving before him a
horse, laden with two large packages. I joined him, and, after telling
him that I was an unfortunate stranger, who did not know the country,
and had missed my way, I inquired of him where he was going. "I am
going," replied he, "to sell my merchandise at Bagdad, and I hope to
arrive there in two days." I accompanied this man, and only left him
when I entered that great city; he went about his business, and I
retired to a mosque, where I remained two days and two nights. I had
no desire to go forth into the streets; I was afraid of meeting
persons from Moussul, who might recognize me. So great was my shame at
finding myself in this plight, that far from thinking of making my
condition known, I wished to conceal it, even from myself. Hunger at
length overcame my shame, or rather I was obliged to yield to that
necessity which brooks no refusal. I resolved to beg my bread, until
some better prospect presented itself. I stood before the lower
window of a large house, and solicited alms with a loud voice. An old
female slave appeared almost immediately, with a loaf in her hand,
which she held out to me. As I advanced to take it, the wind by chance
raised the curtain of the window, and allowed me to catch a glimpse of
the interior of the chamber; there I saw a young lady of surpassing
beauty; her loveliness burst upon my vision like a flash of lightning.
I was completely dazzled. I received the bread without thinking what I
was about, and stood motionless before the old slave, instead of
thanking her, as I ought to have done.

I was so surprised, so confused, and so violently enamoured, that
doubtless she took me for a madman; she disappeared, leaving me in the
street, gazing intently, though fruitlessly, at the window, for the
wind did not again raise the curtain. I passed the whole day awaiting
a second favourable breeze. Not until I perceived night coming on,
could I make up my mind to think of retiring; but before quitting the
house, I asked an old man, who was passing, if he knew to whom it
belonged. "It is," replied he, "the house of Mouaffac, the son of
Adbane; he is a man of rank, and, moreover, a rich man and a man of
honour. It is not long since he was the governor of the city, but he
quarrelled with the cadi, who found means of ruining him in the
estimation of the caliph, and thereby caused him to lose his
appointment."

With my thoughts fully taken up by this adventure, I slowly wandered
out of the city, and entering the great cemetery determined to pass
the night there. I ate my bread without appetite, although my long
fast ought to have given me a good one, and then lay down near a tomb,
with my head resting on a pile of bricks. It was with difficulty that
I composed myself to sleep: the daughter of Mouaffac had made too deep
an impression upon me; the remembrance of her loveliness excited my
imagination too vividly, and the little food I had eaten was not
enough to cause the usual tendency to a refreshing sleep. At length,
however, I dozed off, in spite of the ideas that filled my
imagination; but my sleep was not destined to be of long duration; a
loud noise within the tomb soon awoke me.

Alarmed at the disturbance, the cause of which I did not stay to
ascertain, I started up, with the intention of flying from the
cemetery, when two men, who were standing at the entrance of the tomb,
perceiving me, stopped me, and demanded who I was, and what I was
doing there. "I am," I replied, "an unfortunate stranger, whom
misfortune has reduced to live upon the bounty of the charitable, and
I came here to pass the night, as I have no place to go to in the
town." "Since thou art a beggar," said one of them, "thank Heaven that
thou hast met with us; we will furnish thee with an excellent supper."
So saying, they dragged me into the tomb, where four of their comrades
were eating large radishes and dates, and washing them down with
copious draughts of raki.

They made me sit near them, at a long stone that served as a table,
and I was obliged to eat and drink, for politeness' sake. I suspected
them to be what they really were, that is to say, thieves, and they
soon confirmed my suspicions by their discourse. They began to speak
of a considerable theft they had just committed, and thought that it
would afford me infinite pleasure to become one of their gang; they
made me the offer, which threw me into great perplexity. You may
imagine that I had no desire to associate myself with such fellows,
but I was fearful of irritating them by a refusal. I was embarrassed,
and at a loss for a reply, when a sudden event freed me from my
trouble. The lieutenant of the cadi, followed by twenty or thirty
_asas_ (archers) well armed, entered the tomb, seized the robbers and
me, and took us all off to prison, where we passed the remainder of
the night. The following day, the cadi came and interrogated the
prisoners. The thieves confessed their crime, as they saw there was no
use in denying it; for myself, I related to the judge how I had met
with them, and, as they corroborated my statement, I was put on one
side. The cadi wished to speak to me in private, before he set me
free. Accordingly, he presently came over to me, and asked what took
me into the cemetery where I was caught, and how I spent my time in
Bagdad. In fact, he asked me a thousand questions, all of which I
answered with great candour, only concealing the royalty of my birth.
I recounted to him all that had happened to me, and I even told him of
my having stopped before the window of Mouaffac's house to beg, and of
my having seen, by chance, a young lady who had charmed me.

At the name of Mouaffac I noticed the eyes of the cadi sparkle, with a
curious expression. He remained a few moments immersed in thought;
then, assuming a joyous countenance, he said, "Young man, it depends
only on thyself to possess the lady thou sawest yesterday. It was
doubtless Mouaffac's daughter; for I have been informed that he has a
daughter of exquisite beauty. Though thou wert the most abject of
beings, I would find means for thee to possess the object of thine
ardent wishes. Thou hast but to leave it to me, and I will make thy
fortune."

I thanked him, without being able to penetrate his designs, and then
by his orders followed the aga of his black eunuchs, who released me
from the prison, and took me to the bath.

Whilst I was there, the judge sent two of his _tchaous_ (guards) to
Mouaffac's house, with a message that the cadi wished to speak to him
upon business of the greatest importance. Mouaffac accompanied the
guards back. As soon as the cadi saw him coming he went forward to
meet him, saluted him, and kissed him several times. Mouaffac was in
amazement at this reception.

"Ho! ho!" said he to himself, "how is this, that the cadi, my greatest
enemy, is become so civil to me to-day? There is something at the
bottom of all this."

"Friend Mouaffac," said the judge, "Heaven will not suffer us to be
enemies any longer. It has furnished us with an opportunity of
extinguishing that hatred which has separated our families for so many
years. The prince of Bozrah arrived here last night. He left Bozrah
without taking leave of his father the king. He has heard of your
daughter; and from the description of her beauty which he has
received, he has become so enamoured of her, that he is resolved to
ask her in marriage. He wishes me to arrange the marriage,--a task
which is the more agreeable to me, as it will be the means of
reconciling us."

"I am astounded," replied Mouaffac, "that the prince of Bozrah should
have condescended to confer upon me the honour of marrying my
daughter; and that you of all men should be the chosen means of
communicating this happiness to me, as you have always shown yourself
so anxious to injure me."

"Let us not speak of the past, friend Mouaffac," returned the cadi;
"pray let all recollection of what we have done to annoy each other be
obliterated in our happiness at the splendid connexion which is to
unite your daughter with the prince of Bozrah; let us pass the
remainder of our days in good fellowship."

Mouaffac was naturally as good and confiding as the cadi was crafty
and bad: he allowed himself to be deceived by the false expressions of
friendship that his enemy displayed. He stifled his hatred in a
moment, and received without distrust the perfidious caresses of the
cadi. They were in the act of embracing each other, and pledging an
inviolable friendship, when I entered the room, conducted by the aga.
This officer, on my coming out of the bath, had clothed me with a
beautiful dress, which he had ready, and a turban of Indian muslin,
with a gold fringe that hung down to my ear, and altogether my
appearance was such as fully to bear out the statements of the cadi.

"Great prince," said the cadi as soon as he perceived me, "blessed be
your feet, and your arrival in Bagdad, since it has pleased you to
take up your abode with me. What tongue can express to you the
gratitude I feel for so great an honour? Here is Mouaffac, whom I have
informed of the object of your visit to this city. He consents to give
you in marriage his daughter, who is as beautiful as a star."

Mouaffac then made me a profound obeisance, saying, "O son of the
mighty, I am overwhelmed with the honour you are willing to confer
upon my daughter; she would esteem herself sufficiently honoured in
being made a slave to one of the princesses of your harem."

Judge of the astonishment that this discourse caused me. I knew not
what to answer. I saluted Mouaffac without speaking; but the cadi,
perceiving my embarrassment, and fearing lest I should make some reply
which would destroy his plot, instantly took up the conversation.

"I venture to submit," said he, "that the sooner the marriage contract
is made in presence of the proper witnesses the better." So saying, he
ordered his aga to go for the witnesses, and in the mean time drew up
the contract himself.

When the aga arrived with the witnesses, the contract was read before
them. I signed it, then Mouaffac, and then the cadi, who attached his
signature the last. The judge then dismissed the witnesses, and
turning to Mouaffac said, "You know that with great people these
affairs are not managed as with persons of humble rank. Besides, in
this case you readily perceive that silence and despatch are
necessary. Conduct this prince, then, to your house, for he is now
your son-in-law; give speedy orders for the consummation of the
marriage, and take care that every thing is arranged as becomes his
exalted rank."

I left the cadi's house with Mouaffac. We found two mules richly
caparisoned awaiting us at the door; the judge insisted upon our
mounting them with great ceremony. Mouaffac conducted me to his house;
and when we were in the court-yard dismounted first, and with a
respectful air presented himself to hold my stirrup,--a ceremony to
which of course I was obliged to submit. He then took me by the hand
and conducted me to his daughter, with whom he left me alone, after
informing her of what had passed at the cadi's.

Zemroude, persuaded that her father had espoused her to a prince of
Bozrah, received me as a husband who would one day place her upon the
throne,--and I, the happiest of men, passed the day at her feet,
striving by tender and conciliating manners to inspire her with love
for me. I soon perceived that my pains were not bestowed in vain, and
that my youth and ardent affection produced a favourable impression
upon her. With what rapture did this discovery fill me! I redoubled my
efforts, and I had the gratification of remarking that each moment I
made advances in her esteem.

In the mean time Mouaffac had prepared a splendid repast to celebrate
his daughter's nuptials, at which several members of his family were
present. The bride appeared there more brilliant and more beautiful
than the houris. The sentiments with which I had already inspired her,
seemed to add new lustre to her beauty.

The next morning I heard a knock at my chamber-door; I got up and
opened it. There stood the black aga of the cadi carrying a large
bundle of clothes. I thought that perhaps the cadi had sent robes of
honour to my wife and myself, but I was deceived.

"Sir adventurer," said the negro in a bantering tone, "the cadi sends
his salutations, and begs you to return the dress he lent you
yesterday to play the part of the prince of Bozrah in. I have brought
you back your own old garment, and the rest of the tatters, which are
more suited to your station than the other."

I was astounded at the application; my eyes were opened, and I saw
through the whole malicious scheme of the cadi. However, making a
virtue of necessity, I gravely restored to the aga the robe and turban
of his master, and retook my own old caftan, which was a mass of rags.
Zemroude had heard part of the conversation; and seeing me covered
with rags, "O heavens!" she exclaimed, "what is the meaning of this
change, and what has that man been saying to you?"

"My princess," I replied, "the cadi is a great rascal, but he is the
dupe of his own malice. He thinks he has given you a beggar for a
husband, a man born in the lowest grade, but you are, indeed, the wife
of a prince, and my rank is in no way inferior to that of the husband,
whose hand you fancy you have received. I am to the full the equal of
the prince of Bozrah, for I am the only son of the king of Moussul,
and am heir to the kingdom of the great Ben-Ortoc; my name is Al
Abbas." I then related my history to her, without suppressing the
least circumstance. When I had finished the recital,

"My prince," said she, "even were you not the son of a great king, I
should love you none the less; and, believe me, that if I am overjoyed
to learn the circumstance of your exalted birth, it is but out of
regard to my father, who is more dazzled by the honours of the world
than I; my only ambition is to possess a husband who will love me
alone, and not grieve me by giving me rivals."

I did not fail to protest that I would love her, and her alone, all my
life, with which assurance she appeared delighted. She then summoned
one of her women, and ordered her to proceed with all speed and
secrecy to a merchant's, and buy a dress, ready made, of the richest
materials that could be procured. The slave who was charged with this
commission acquitted herself in the most satisfactory manner. She
returned speedily, bringing a magnificent dress and robe, and a turban
of Indian muslin as handsome, even handsomer, than what I had worn the
previous day, so that I found myself even more gorgeously dressed than
on the occasion of my first interview with my father-in-law. "Well, my
lord," said Zemroude, "do you think the cadi has much reason to be
satisfied with his work? He thought to heap reproaches on my family,
and he has bestowed upon it an imperishable honour. He thinks that we
are now overwhelmed with shame. What will be his grief when he knows
that he has conferred such a benefit upon his enemy? But before he is
made aware of your birth, we must invent some means of punishing him
for his wicked designs against us. I will take that task upon me.
There is in this city a dyer, who has a daughter most frightfully
ugly. I will not tell you further," she continued, checking herself.
"I will not deprive you of the pleasure of the surprise. I shall only
let you know that I have conceived a project which will drive the cadi
nearly mad, and make him the laughingstock of the court and the city."

She then dressed herself in plain clothes, and covering her face with
a thick veil, asked my permission to go out, which I granted her. She
went alone, repaired to the cadi's house, and placed herself in one
corner of the hall, where the judge gave audience.

He no sooner cast his eyes upon her, than he was struck with her
majestic figure; he sent an officer to ask who she was, and what she
desired. She answered that she was the daughter of an artisan in the
town, and that she wished to speak to the cadi on important private
business. The officer having borne her answer to the cadi, the judge
made a sign to Zemroude to approach, and enter his private apartment,
which was on one side of the court; she complied, making a low
obeisance. When she entered the cadi's private apartment, she took her
seat upon the sofa, and raised her veil. The cadi had followed her,
and as he seated himself near her, was astonished at her beauty.

"Well! my dear child," said he, patronizingly, "of what service can I
be to you?"

"My lord," she replied, "you, who have the power to make the laws
obeyed, who dispense justice to rich and poor alike, listen, I pray
you, to my complaint, and pity the unfortunate situation in which I am
placed."

"Explain yourself," replied the judge, already moved, "and I swear by
my head and my eyes that I will do every thing that is possible, ay,
and impossible, to serve you."

"Know then, my lord," replied Zemroude, "that, notwithstanding the
attractions which Heaven has bestowed upon me, I live in solitude and
obscurity in a house, forbidden not only to men, but even to women, so
that even the conversation of my own sex is denied me. Not that
advantageous proposals were at one time wanting for my hand; I should
have been married long ago, if my father had not had the cruelty to
refuse me to all who have asked me in marriage. To one he says, I am
as withered as a dead tree; to another, that I am bloated with
unnatural fat; to this one, that I am lame, and have lost the use of
my hands; to that one, that I have lost my senses, that I have a
cancer on my back, that I am dropsical; in fact, he wishes to make me
out a creature not worthy the society of human beings, and has so
decried me, that he has at length succeeded in making me the reproach
of the human race; nobody inquires about me now, and I am condemned to
perpetual celibacy."

When she ceased speaking she pretended to weep, and played her part so
well that the judge allowed himself to be deceived.

"What can be the reason, my angel," said he, "that your father
prevents your marrying? What can his motive be?"

"I know not, my lord," replied Zemroude; "I cannot conceive what his
intentions can be; but I confess my patience is exhausted. I can no
longer live in this state. I have found means to leave home, and I
have escaped to throw myself into your arms, and to implore your help;
take pity on me, I implore you, and interpose your authority, that
justice may be done to me, otherwise I will not answer for my life."

"No, no," replied he, "you shall not die, neither shall you waste your
youth in tears and sighs. It only remains with yourself to quit the
darkness in which your perfections are buried, and to become this very
day the wife of the cadi of Bagdad. Yes, lovely creature, more fair
than the houris, I am ready to marry you, if you will consent."

"My lord," replied the lady, "even were not your station one of the
most dignified and honourable in the city, I could have no objection
to give you my hand, for you appear to be one of the most amiable of
men; but I fear that you will not be able to obtain the consent of my
father, notwithstanding the honour of the alliance."

"Don't trouble yourself upon that point," replied the judge, "I will
pledge myself as to the issue; only tell me in what street your father
lives, what his name is, and what his profession."

"His name is Ousta Omar," replied Zemroude; "he is a dyer, he lives
upon the eastern quay of the Tigris, and in front of his door is a
palm-tree laden with dates."

"That is enough," said the cadi; "you can return home now; you shall
soon hear from me, depend upon my word."

The lady, after bestowing a gracious smile upon him, covered her face
again with her veil, left the private chamber, and returned to me.

"We shall be revenged," she said, laughing gaily; "our enemy, who
thought to make us the sport of the people, will himself become so."

The judge had scarcely lost sight of Zemroude, ere he sent an officer
to Ousta Omar, who was at home. "You are to come to the cadi," said
the man, "he desires to speak with you, and he commanded me to bring
you before him." The dyer grew pale at these words, he thought that
some one had lodged a complaint against him before the judge, and that
it was on that account the officer had come to fetch him. He rose,
however, and followed in silence, but in great uneasiness.

As soon as he appeared before the cadi, the judge ordered him into the
same chamber where he had had the interview with Zemroude, and made
him sit upon the same sofa. The artisan was so astonished at the
honour paid him, that he changed colour several times.

"Master Omar," said the cadi, "I am glad to see you; I have heard you
spoken very well of this long time past. I am informed that you are a
man of good character, that you regularly say your prayers five times
a day, and that you never fail to attend the great mosque on Friday;
besides, I know that you never eat pork, and never drink wine nor
date-spirits; in fact, that whilst you are at work one of your
apprentices reads the Koran."

"That is true," replied the dyer; "I know above four thousand _hadits_
(sayings of Mahomet), and I am making preparations for a pilgrimage to
Mecca."

"I assure you," replied the cadi, "that all this gives me the greatest
pleasure, for I passionately love all good mussulmen. I am also
informed that you keep concealed at home a daughter of an age to
marry; is that true?"

"Great judge," answered Ousta Omar, "whose palace serves as a haven
and refuge for the unfortunate who are tossed about by the storms of
the world, they have told you true. I have a daughter who is old
enough, in all conscience, to be married, for she is more than thirty
years old; but the poor creature is not fit to be presented to a man,
much less to so great a man as the cadi of Bagdad; she is ugly, or
rather frightful, lame, covered with blotches, an idiot; in a word,
she is a monster whom I cannot take too much pains to hide from the
world."

"Indeed," said the cadi, "that is what I expected, master Omar. I was
certain that you would thus praise your daughter; but know, my friend,
that this blotchy, idiotic, lame, frightful person, in short, this
monster, with all her defects, is loved to distraction by a man who
desires her for his wife, and that man is myself."

At this speech the dyer seemed to doubt whether he were awake; he
pinched himself, rubbed his eyes, and then looking the cadi full in
the face, said,

"If my lord, the cadi, wishes to be merry, he is master; he may make a
jest of my child as much as he pleases."

"No, no," replied the cadi, "I am not joking, I am in love with your
daughter, and I ask her in marriage."

The artisan at these words burst into a fit of laughter. "By the
prophet," cried he, "somebody wants to give you something to take care
of. I give you fair warning, my lord, that my daughter has lost the
use of her hands, is lame, dropsical."

"I know all about that," replied the judge, "I recognize her by her
portrait. I have a peculiar liking for that sort of girls, they are my
taste."

"I tell you," insisted the dyer, "she is not a fit match for you. Her
name is Cayfacattaddhari (the monster of the age), and I must confess
that her name is well chosen."

"Come, come!" replied the cadi, in an impatient and imperious tone,
"this is enough, I am sick of all these objections. Master Omar, I ask
you to give me this Cayfacattaddhari just as she is, so not another
word."

The dyer, seeing him determined to espouse his daughter, and more than
ever persuaded that some person had made him fall in love with her
upon false representations for fun, said to himself, "I must ask him a
heavy _scherbeha_ (dowry): the amount may disgust him, and he will
think no more of her."

"My lord," said he, "I am prepared to obey you; but I will not part
with Cayfacattaddhari unless you give me a dowry of a thousand golden
sequins beforehand."

"That is rather a large sum," said the cadi, "still I will pay it
you." He immediately ordered a large bagful of sequins to be brought,
a thousand were counted out, which the dyer took after weighing them,
and the judge then ordered the marriage contract to be drawn out.
When, moreover, it was ready for signature, the artisan protested that
he would not sign it except in the presence of a hundred lawyers at
least.

"You are very distrustful," said the cadi; "but never mind, I will
satisfy your wishes, for I don't intend to let your daughter slip
through my fingers." He thereupon sent immediately for all the
neighbouring doctors, alfayins, mollahs, persons connected with the
mosques and courts of law, of whom far more crowded in than the dyer
required.

When all the witnesses had arrived at the cadi's, Ousta Omar spoke
thus,

"My lord cadi, I give you my daughter in marriage, since you
absolutely require me to do so; but I declare before all these
gentlemen that it is on condition, that if you are not satisfied with
her when you see her, and you wish afterwards to repudiate her, you
will give her a thousand gold sequins, such as I have received from
you."

"Well! so be it," replied the cadi, "I promise it before all this
assembly. Art thou content?" The dyer replied in the affirmative, and
departed, saying that he would send the bride.

He had scarcely left the house before the enamoured judge gave orders
to have an apartment furnished in the most splendid manner to receive
his new bride. Velvet carpets were laid down, new draperies hung up,
and sofas of silver brocade placed round the walls, whilst several
braziers perfumed the chamber with delicious scents. All was at length
in readiness, and the cadi impatiently awaited the arrival of
Cayfacattaddhari. The fair bride, however, not making her appearance
so speedily as his eagerness expected, he called his faithful aga, and
said, "The lovely object of my affections ought to be here by this
time, I think. What can detain her so long at her father's? How slow
the moments appear which retard my happiness!" At length his
impatience could brook no longer delay, and he was on the point of
sending the aga to Ousta Omar's, when a porter arrived carrying a deal
case covered with green taffeta.

"What hast thou got there, my friend," inquired the judge.

"My lord," replied the porter, placing the box on the ground, "it is
your bride; you have only to take off the covering and you will see
what she is like."

The cadi removed the cloth and saw a girl three feet and a half high:
she had a lank visage covered with blotches, eyes sunk deep in their
sockets and as red as fire, not the least vestige of a nose, but above
her mouth two horrid wide nostrils like those of a crocodile. He could
not look at this object without horror; he hastily replaced the cover,
and, turning to the porter, cried,

"What am I to do with this miserable creature?"

"My lord," replied the porter, "it is the daughter of master Omar, the
dyer, who told me you had married her from choice."

"Merciful heavens!" exclaimed the cadi, "is it possible to marry such
a monster as that?"

At that moment the dyer, who had foreseen the surprise of the judge,
arrived.

"Wretch," said the cadi, "what dost thou take me for? Thou certainly
hast an amazing amount of impudence to dare to play me such a trick as
this. Dost thou dare thus to treat me who have it in my power to
revenge myself on my enemies; me who, when I please, can put the like
of thee in fetters? Dread my wrath, wretch! Instead of the hideous
monster which thou hast sent me, give me instantly thy other daughter,
whose beauty is unparalleled, or thou shalt experience what an angry
cadi can do!"

"My lord," replied Omar, "spare your threats, I beg, and don't be
angry with me. I swear by the Creator of the light that I have no
other daughter but this. I told you a thousand times that she would
not suit you; you would not believe--whose fault is it?"

The cadi at these words felt his soul sink within him, and said to the
dyer,

"Master Omar, a damsel of the most exquisite loveliness came here this
morning and told me that you were her father, and that you represented
her to the world as a perfect monster, indeed so much so, that no one
would ask her in marriage."

"My lord," returned the dyer, "that girl must have been playing you a
trick; you must have some enemy."

The cadi bent his head on his bosom, and remained some time in deep
thought.

"It is a misfortune that was destined to befal me; let us say no more
about it; have your daughter taken back home; keep the thousand
sequins you have got, but don't ask for any more, if you wish us to be
friends."

Although the judge had sworn before witnesses that he would give a
thousand sequins more if Omar's daughter did not please him, the
artisan did not dare to endeavour to compel him to keep his word, for
he knew him to be a most vindictive man, and one who would easily find
an opportunity of revenging himself upon any one he disliked, and was,
of course, afraid to offend him. He thought it better to be content
with what he had received.

"My lord," said he, "I will obey you, and relieve you of my daughter,
but you must, if you please, divorce her first."

"Oh! true," said the cadi; "I have not the least objection; be assured
that shall soon be done."

Accordingly, he instantly sent for his naib, and the divorce was made
out in due form, after which master Omar took leave of the judge, and
ordered the porter to bear the wretched Cayfacattaddhari back home.

This adventure was speedily noised all over the city. Every body
laughed at it, and warmly applauded the trick which had been played
upon the cadi, who could not escape the ridicule in which the whole
city indulged at his expense. We carried our revenge still further. By
Mouaffac's advice, I presented myself before the prince of the
faithful, to whom I told my name and related my story. I did not
suppress, as you may imagine, the circumstances which put the malice
of the cadi in so strong a light. The caliph, after listening to me
with the greatest attention, received me very graciously. "Prince,"
said he, "why did you not come at once to me? Doubtless you were
ashamed of your condition, but you might, without a blush, have
presented yourself before my face, even in your wretched state. Does
it depend upon men themselves to be happy or unhappy? Is it not Allah
that spins the thread of our destiny? Ought you to have feared an
ungracious reception? No! You know that I love and esteem king
Ben-Ortoc, your father; my court was a safe asylum for you."

The caliph embraced me, and conferred on me a _gulute_ (robe of
honour) and a beautiful diamond which he wore on his finger. He
regaled me with excellent sherbet, and when I returned to my
father-in-law's house, I found six large bales of Persian brocade,
gold and silver, two pieces of damask, and a beautiful Persian horse
richly caparisoned. In addition, he reinstated Mouaffac in the
government of Bagdad; and as to the cadi, by way of punishment for his
malicious attempt to deceive Zemroude and her father, he deposed him,
and condemned him to perpetual imprisonment, and, to crown his misery,
ordered him as a companion in his confinement the daughter of Ousta
Omar.

A few days after my marriage, I sent a courier to Moussul, to inform
my father of all that had happened to me since my departure from his
court, and to assure him that I would return shortly, with the lady
whom I had married. I waited most impatiently for the return of the
courier; but, alas! he brought me back news which deeply afflicted me.
He informed me that Ben-Ortoc having heard that four thousand Bedouin
Arabs had attacked me, and that my escort had been cut to pieces,
persuaded that I no longer lived, took my supposed death so much to
heart that he died; that prince Amadeddin Zingui, my cousin-german,
occupied the throne; that he reigned with equity; and that,
nevertheless, although he was generally beloved, the people no sooner
learned that I was still alive, than they gave themselves up to the
greatest joy. Prince Amadeddin himself, in a letter which the courier
placed in my hands, assured me of his fidelity, and expressed his
impatience for my return, in order that he might restore the crown to
me, and become the first subject in my dominions.

This news decided me to hasten my return to Moussul. I took my leave
of the prince of the faithful, who ordered a detachment of three
thousand cavalry of his own guard to escort me to my kingdom, and,
after embracing Mouaffac and his wife, I departed from Bagdad with my
beloved Zemroude, who would almost have died of grief at the
separation from her parents, if her love for me had not somewhat
moderated the violence of her sorrow. About halfway between Bagdad and
Moussul, the vanguard of my escort discovered a body of troops
marching towards us. Concluding at once that it was a body of Bedouin
Arabs, I immediately drew up my men, and was fully prepared for the
attack, when my scouts brought me word, that those whom we had taken
for robbers and enemies were, in fact, troops from Moussul, who had
set out to meet me, with Amadeddin at their head.

This prince, on his part, having learned who we were, left his little
army to meet me, accompanied by the principal nobles of Moussul. When
he reached the spot where I was awaiting him, he addressed me in the
same tone in which his letter had been couched, submissively and
respectfully, whilst all the nobles who accompanied him assured me of
their zeal and fidelity. I thought it my duty to show my entire
confidence in them, by dismissing the soldiers of the caliph's guard.
I had no reason to repent of this step; far from being capable of
forming any treacherous design, prince Amadeddin did all in his power
to give me proofs of his attachment.

When we came to Moussul, our safe and auspicious arrival was
celebrated by gifts to the mosques, abundant alms to the poor, fêtes,
and an illumination of the palace gardens with lamps of a thousand
different colours. The people in general testified the delight they
felt at my return by acclamations, and for a space of three days gave
themselves up entirely to great rejoicings. The booths of the
itinerant merchants, and the bazaars, were hung within and without
with draperies, and at night they were lit up by lamps, which formed
the letters of a verse of the Koran, so that every shop having its
particular verse, this holy book was to be read entire in the city;
and it appeared as though the angel Gabriel had brought it a second
time in letters of light to our great prophet.

In addition to this pious illumination, before each shop were placed
large dishes, plates of pillau, of all sorts of colours, in the form
of pyramids, and huge bowls of sherbet and pomegranate juice, for the
passers-by to eat and drink at pleasure. In all the cross streets were
to be seen dancers, displaying their graceful evolutions to the sounds
of drums, lutes, and tambourines.

The different trades formed a procession, consisting of cars decorated
with tinsel and many-coloured flags, and with the tools used in their
trades; and after traversing the principal streets, defiled to the
music of pipes, cymbals, and trumpets, before my balcony, where
Zemroude was sitting by my side, and after saluting us, shouted at the
top of their voices, "Blessing and health to thee, Apostle of God, God
give the king victory."

It was not enough for me to share these honours with the daughter of
Mouaffac, my study was to find out every thing that would afford her
any pleasure. I caused her apartments to be adorned with every thing
most rare and pleasing to the sight. Her suite was composed of
twenty-five young Circassian ladies, slaves in my father's harem; some
sang and played the lute exquisitely, others excelled on the harp, and
the rest danced with the greatest grace and lightness. I also gave her
a black aga, with twelve eunuchs, who all possessed some talent which
might contribute to her amusement.

I reigned over faithful and devoted subjects; every day I loved
Zemroude more and more, and she as ardently reciprocated my
attachment.

My days passed thus in perfect happiness, till one day a young
dervise appeared at my court. He introduced himself to the principal
nobles, and gained their friendship by his pleasing and agreeable
manners, as well as by his wit and his happy and brilliant repartees.
He accompanied them to the chase, he entered into all their gaieties,
and was a constant guest at their parties of pleasure. Every day some
of my courtiers spoke to me of him as a man of charming manners, so
that at last they excited in me a desire to see and converse with the
agreeable stranger. Far from finding his portrait overdrawn, he
appeared to me even more accomplished than they had represented him.
His conversation charmed me, and I was disabused of an error into
which many persons of quality fall, namely, that men of wit and high
sentiment are only to be met with at court. I experienced so much
pleasure in the company of the dervise, and he seemed so well suited
to manage affairs of the greatest importance, that I wished to appoint
him my minister, but he thanked me, and told me he had made a vow
never to accept any employment, that he preferred a free and
independent life, that he despised honours and riches, and was content
with what God, who cares for the lowest animals, should provide for
him; in a word, he was content with his condition.

I admired a man so much raised above worldly considerations, and
conceived the greatest esteem for him; I received him with pleasure
each time he presented himself at court; if he was among the crowd of
courtiers my eyes sought him out, and to him I most frequently
addressed myself; I insensibly became so attached to him, that I made
him my exclusive favourite.

One day during a hunt, I had strayed from the main body of my
followers, and the dervise was alone with me. He began by relating his
travels, for although young he had travelled extensively. He spoke of
several curious things he had seen in India, and, amongst others, of
an old Bramin whom he knew. "This great man," said he, "knew an
infinity of secrets, each more extraordinary than the former. Nature
had no mystery but what he could fathom. He died in my arms," said the
dervise, "but as he loved me, before he expired he said, 'My son, I
wish to teach you a secret by which you may remember me, but it is on
condition that you reveal it to no one.' I promised to keep it
inviolate, and on the faith of my promise he taught me the secret."

"Indeed!" said I, "what is the nature of the secret? Is it the secret
of making gold?"

"No, sire," replied he, "it is a greater and much more precious secret
than that. It is the power of reanimating a dead body. Not that I can
restore the same soul to the body it has left, Heaven alone can
perform that miracle; but I can cause my soul to enter into a body
deprived of life, and I will prove it to your highness whenever you
shall please."

"Most willingly!" said I, "now, if you please."

At that moment there passed by us most opportunely a doe; I let fly an
arrow, which struck her, and she fell dead. "Now let me see," said I,
"if you can reanimate this creature."

"Sire," replied the dervise, "your curiosity shall soon be gratified;
watch well what I am about to do."

He had scarcely uttered these words, when I beheld with amazement his
body fall suddenly without animation, and at the same moment I saw the
doe rise with great nimbleness. I will leave you to judge of my
surprise. Although there was no room left to doubt what I beheld, I
could hardly believe the evidence of my senses. The creature, however,
came to me, fondled me, and after making several bounds, fell dead
again, and immediately the body of the dervise, which lay stretched at
my feet, became reanimated.

I was delighted at so wonderful a secret, and entreated the dervise to
impart it to me.

[Illustration: The Dervise and the Prince, p. 91.]

"Sire," said he, "I deeply regret that I cannot comply with your
desire; for I promised the dying Bramin not to disclose it to any one,
and I am a slave to my word."

The more the dervise excused himself from satisfying my wishes, the
more did I feel my curiosity excited.

"In the name of Allah," said I, "do not refuse to comply with my
entreaties. I promise thee never to divulge the secret, and I swear by
Him who created us both never to employ it to a bad purpose."

The dervise considered a moment, then turning to me said,

"I cannot resist the wishes of a king whom I love more than my life; I
will yield to your desire. It is true," added he, "that I only gave a
simple promise to the Bramin. I did not bind myself by an inviolable
oath. I will impart my secret to your highness. It consists only in
remembering two words; it is sufficient to repeat them mentally to be
able to reanimate a dead body."

He then taught me the two magic words. I no sooner knew them, than I
burned to test their power. I pronounced them, with the intention to
make my soul pass into the body of the doe, and in a moment I found
myself metamorphosed into the animal. But the delight I experienced at
the success of the trial was soon converted into consternation; for no
sooner had my spirit entered into the body of the doe, than the
dervise caused his to pass into mine, and then suddenly drawing my
bow, the traitor was on the point of shooting me with one of my own
arrows, when, perceiving his intention, I took to flight, and by my
speed just escaped the fatal shaft. Nevertheless, he let fly the arrow
at me with so true an aim, that it just grazed my shoulder.

I now beheld myself reduced to live with the beasts of the forests and
mountains. Happier for me would it have been if I had resembled them
more perfectly, and if in losing my human form, I had at the same
time lost my power of reason. I should not then have been the prey to
a thousand miserable reflections.

Whilst I was deploring my misery in the forests, the dervise was
occupying the throne of Moussul; and fearing that, as I possessed the
secret as well as himself, I might find means to introduce myself into
the palace, and take my revenge upon him, on the very day he usurped
my place he ordered all the deer in the kingdom to be destroyed,
wishing, as he said, to exterminate the whole species, which he
mortally hated. Nay, so eager was he for my destruction, that the
moment he returned from the hunting expedition, he again set out at
the head of a large body of followers, intent upon the indiscriminate
slaughter of all the deer they might meet.

The people of Moussul, animated by the hope of gain, spread themselves
all over the country with their bows and arrows; they scoured the
forests, over-ran the mountains, and shot every stag and deer they met
with. Happily, by this time I had nothing to fear from them; for,
having seen a dead nightingale lying at the foot of a tree, I
reanimated it, and under my new shape flew towards the palace of my
enemy, and concealed myself among the thick foliage of a tree in the
garden. This tree was not far from the apartments of the queen. There,
thinking upon my misfortune, I poured forth in tender strains the
melancholy that consumed me. It was one morning, as the sun rose, and
already several birds, delighted to see its returning beams, expressed
their joy by their minstrelsy. For my part, taken up with my griefs, I
paid no attention to the brightness of the newborn day; but with my
eyes sadly turned towards Zemroude's apartment, I poured forth so
plaintive a song, that I attracted the attention of the princess, who
came to the window. I continued my mournful notes in her presence, and
I tried all the means in my power to render them more and more
touching, as though I could make her comprehend the subject of my
grief. But, alas! although she took pleasure in listening to me, I had
the mortification to see, that instead of being moved by my piteous
accents, she only laughed with one of her slaves, who had come to the
window to listen to me.

I did not leave the garden that day, nor for several following, and I
took care to sing every morning at the same spot. Zemroude did not
fail to come to the window; and at length, by the blessing of
Providence, took a fancy to have me. One morning she said to her
female attendants, "I wish that nightingale to be caught; let
birdcatchers be sent for. I love that bird; I doat upon it; let them
try every means to catch it, and bring it to me." The queen's orders
were obeyed; expert birdcatchers were found, who laid traps for me,
and, as I had no desire to escape, because I saw that their only
object in depriving me of my liberty was to make me a slave to my
princess, I allowed myself to be taken. The moment I was brought to
her she took me in her hand, with every symptom of delight. "My
darling," said she, caressing me, "my charming bul-bul, I will be thy
rose; I already feel the greatest tenderness for thee." At these words
she kissed me. I raised my beak softly to her lips. "Ah! the little
rogue," cried she laughing, "he appears to know what I say." At last,
after fondling me, she placed me in a gold filigree cage, which an
eunuch had been sent into the city to buy for me.

Every day as soon as she woke I began my song; and whenever she came
to my cage to caress me or feed me, far from appearing wild, I spread
out my wings, and stretched my beak towards her, to express my joy.
She was surprised to see me so tame in so short a time. Sometimes she
would take me out of the cage, and allow me to fly about her chamber.
I always went to her to receive her caresses, and to lavish mine upon
her; and if any of her slaves wished to take hold of me, I pecked at
them with all my might. By these little insinuating ways I endeared
myself so much to Zemroude, that she often said if by any mishap I
were to die, she should be inconsolable, so strong was her attachment
to me.

Zemroude also had a little dog in her chamber, of which she was very
fond. One day, when the dog and I were alone, it died. Its death
suggested to me the idea of making a third experiment of the secret.
"I will pass into the body of the dog," thought I, "for I wish to see
what effect the death of her nightingale will produce upon the
princess." I cannot tell what suggested the fancy, for I did not
foresee what this new metamorphosis would lead to; but the thought
appeared to me a suggestion of Heaven, and I followed it at all risks.

When Zemroude returned to the room, her first care was to come to my
cage. As soon as she perceived that the nightingale was dead, she
uttered a shriek that brought all her slaves about her. "What ails
you, madam?" said they in terrified accents. "Has any misfortune
happened to you?"

"I am in despair," replied the princess, weeping bitterly; "my
nightingale is dead. My dear bird, my little husband, why art thou
taken from, me so soon? I shall no more hear your sweet notes! I shall
never see you again! What have I done to deserve such punishment from
Heaven?"

All the efforts of her women to console her were in vain. The dervise
had just returned from his murderous expedition, and one of them ran
to acquaint him with the state in which they had found the queen. He
quickly came and told her that the death of a bird ought not to cause
her so much grief; that the loss was not irreparable; that if she was
so fond of nightingales, and wanted another, it was easy to get one.
But all his reasoning was to no purpose, he could make no impression
upon her.

"Cease your endeavours," she exclaimed, "to combat my grief, you will
never overcome it. I know it is a great weakness to mourn so for a
bird, I am as fully persuaded of it as you can be, still I cannot bear
up against the force of the blow that has overwhelmed me. I loved the
little creature; he appeared sensible of the caresses I bestowed on
him, and he returned them in a way that delighted me. If my women
approached him, he exhibited ferocity, or rather disdain; whereas he
always came eagerly on to my hand when I held it out to him. It
appeared as though he felt affection for me, he looked at me in so
tender and languishing a manner, that it almost seemed as though he
was mortified that he had not the power of speech to express his
feelings towards me. I could read it in his eyes. Ah! I shall never
think of him without despair." As she finished speaking her tears
gushed out afresh, and she seemed as if nothing could ever console
her.

I drew a favourable omen from the violence of her grief. I had laid
myself down in a corner of the room, where I heard all that was said
and observed all that passed without their noticing me. I had a
presentiment that the dervise, in order to console the queen, would
avail himself of the secret, and I was not disappointed.

Finding the queen inaccessible to reason, and being deeply enamoured
of her, he was moved by her tears, and instead of persevering in
fruitless arguments, he ordered the queen's slaves to quit the room
and leave him alone with her. "Madam," said he, thinking that no one
overheard him, "since the death of your nightingale causes you so much
sorrow, he must be brought to life. Do not grieve, you shall see him
alive again; I pledge myself to restore him to you; to-morrow morning,
when you wake, you shall hear him sing again, and you shall have the
satisfaction of caressing him."

"I understand you, my lord," said Zemroude; "you look upon me as
crazed, and think that you must humour my sorrow; you would persuade
me that I shall see my nightingale alive to-morrow; to-morrow you
will postpone your miracle till the following day, and so on from one
day to another; by this means you reckon on making me gradually forget
my bird; or, perhaps," pursued she, "you intend to get another put in
his place to deceive me."

"No, my queen," replied the dervise, "no; it is that very bird which
you see stretched out in his cage without life; this very nightingale,
the enviable object of such poignant grief; it is that very bird
himself that shall sing. I will give him new life, and you can again
lavish your caresses upon him. He will better appreciate that delight,
and you shall behold him still more anxious to please you, for it will
be I myself who will be the object of your endearments; every morning
I will myself be his fresh life in order to divert you. I can perform
this miracle," continued he; "it is a secret I possess; if you have
any doubts upon it, or if you are impatient to behold your favourite
reanimated, I will cause him to revive now immediately."

As the princess did not reply, he imagined from her silence that she
was not fully persuaded he could accomplish what he professed; he
seated himself on the sofa, and by virtue of the two cabalistic words
left his body, or rather mine, and entered into that of the
nightingale. The bird began to sing in its cage to the great amazement
of Zemroude. But his song was not destined to continue long; for no
sooner did he begin to warble than I quitted the body of the dog and
hastened to retake my own. At the same time running to the cage, I
dragged the bird out and wrung his neck. "What have you done, my
lord?" cried the princess. "Why have you treated my nightingale thus?
If you did not wish him to live, why did you restore him to life?"

"I thank Heaven!" cried I, without paying any regard to what she said,
so much were my thoughts taken up with the feeling of vengeance which
possessed me at the treacherous conduct of the dervise, "I am
satisfied. I have at length avenged myself on the villain whose
execrable treason deserved a still greater punishment."

If Zemroude was surprised to see her nightingale restored to life, she
was not the less so to hear me utter these words with such fierce
emotion.

"My lord," said she, "whence this violent transport which agitates
you, and what do those words mean which you have just spoken?"

I related to her all that had happened to me, and she could not doubt
that I was truly Al Abbas, because she had heard that the body of the
dervise had been found in the forest, and she was also of course well
acquainted with the order which he had given for destroying all the
deer.

But my poor princess could not recover the shock her sensitive love
had sustained. A few days after she fell ill, and died in my arms,
literally frightened to death by the imminence of the danger from
which she had just been so happily rescued.

After I had bewailed her, and erected a splendid tomb to her memory, I
summoned the prince Amadeddin.

"My cousin," said I, "I have no children, I resign the crown of
Moussul in your favour. I give the kingdom up into your hands. I
renounce the regal dignity, and wish to pass the rest of my days in
repose and privacy." Amadeddin, who really loved me, spared no
arguments to deter me from taking the step I proposed, but I assured
him that nothing could shake my resolution.

"Prince," said I, "my determination is fixed, I resign my rank to you.
Fill the throne of Al Abbas, and may you be more happy than he. Reign
over a people who know your merit, and have already experienced the
blessings of your rule. Disgusted with pomp, I shall retire to distant
climes, and live in privacy; there freed from the cares of state, I
shall mourn over the memory of Zemroude, and recall the happy days we
passed together."

I left Amadeddin upon the throne of Moussul, and, accompanied only by
a few slaves, and carrying an ample supply of riches and jewels, took
the road to Bagdad, where I arrived safely. I immediately repaired to
Mouaffac's house. His wife and he were not a little surprised to see
me, and they were deeply affected when I informed them of the death of
their daughter, whom they had tenderly loved. The recital unlocked the
fountains of my own grief, and I mingled my tears with theirs. I did
not stay long in Bagdad, I joined a caravan of pilgrims going to
Mecca, and after paying my devotions, found, by chance, another
company of pilgrims from Tartary, whom I accompanied to their native
country. We arrived in this city; I found the place agreeable, and
took up my abode here, where I have resided for nearly forty years. I
am thought to be a stranger who was formerly concerned in trade, and
whose time is now passed in study and contemplation. I lead a retired
life, and rarely see strangers. Zemroude is ever present to my
thoughts, and my only consolation consists in dwelling fondly upon her
memory and her virtues.


CONTINUATION OF THE STORY OF PRINCE KHALAF AND THE PRINCESS OF CHINA.

Al Abbas, having finished the recital of his adventures, thus
addressed his guests:

"Such is my history. You perceive by my misfortunes and your own, that
human life is but as a reed, ever liable to be bent to the earth by
the bleak blasts of misfortune. I will, however, confess to you that I
have led a happy and quiet life ever since I have been in Jaic; and
that I by no means repent having abdicated the throne of Moussul; for
in the obscurity in which I now live, I have discovered peaceful and
tranquil joys which I never experienced before."

Timurtasch, Elmaze, and Khalaf bestowed a thousand flattering
encomiums upon the son of Ben-Ortoc; the khan admired the resolution
which had caused him to deprive himself of his kingdom, in order to
live in privacy in a country of strangers, where the station which he
had filled in the world was unknown. Elmaze praised the fidelity he
displayed towards Zemroude, and the grief he experienced at her death.
And Khalaf remarked, "My lord, it were to be wished that all men could
display the same constancy in adversity which you have done, under
your misfortunes."

They continued their conversation till it was time to retire. Al Abbas
then summoned his slaves, who brought wax-lights in candlesticks made
of aloe-wood, and conducted the khan, the princess, and her son to a
suite of apartments, where the same simplicity reigned that
characterized the rest of the house. Elmaze and Timurtasch retired to
sleep in a chamber appropriated to themselves, and Khalaf to another.
The following morning their host entered the chamber of his guests as
soon as they were up, and said,

"You are not the only unfortunate persons in the world; I have just
been informed that an ambassador from the sultan of Carisma arrived in
the city last evening; that his master has sent him to Ileuge-Khan, to
beg of him not only to refuse an asylum to the khan of the Nagäis, his
enemy, but if the khan should endeavour to pass through his dominions,
to arrest him. Indeed, it is reported," pursued Al Abbas, "that the
unfortunate khan, for fear of falling into the hands of the sultan of
Carisma, has left his capital and fled with his family." At this news,
Timurtasch and Khalaf changed colour, and the princess fainted.

The swoon of Elmaze, as well as the evident trouble of the father and
son, instantly caused Al Abbas to suspect that his guests were not
merchants.

"I see," said he, as soon as the princess had recovered her senses,
"that you take a deep interest in the misfortunes of the khan of the
Nagäis; indeed, if I may be permitted to tell you what I think, I
believe you are yourselves the objects of the sultan of Carisma's
hatred."

"Yes, my lord," replied Timurtasch, "we are, indeed, the victims for
whose immolation he is thirsty. I am the khan of the Nagäis, you
behold my wife and my son; we should, indeed, be ungrateful, if we did
not discover our position to you, after your generous reception, and
the confidence you have reposed in us. I am encouraged even to hope,
that by your counsels you will aid us to escape from the danger which
threatens us."

"Your situation is most critical," replied the aged king of Moussul;
"I know Ileuge-Khan well, and, as he fears the sultan of Carisma, I
cannot doubt that, to please him, he will search for you every where.
You will not be safe, either in my house or in any other in this city;
the only resource left you, is to leave the country of Jaic as
speedily as possible, cross the river Irtisch, and gain, with the
utmost diligence, the frontiers of the tribe of the Berlas."

This advice pleased Timurtasch, his wife, and son. Al Abbas had three
horses instantly got ready, together with provisions for the journey,
and giving them a purse filled with gold; "Start immediately," said
he, "you have no time to lose, by to-morrow, no doubt, Ileuge-Khan
will cause search to be made for you every where."

They returned their heartfelt thanks to the aged monarch, and then
quitted Jaic, crossed the Irtisch, and joining company with a
camel-driver, who was travelling that way, arrived after several days'
journey in the territories of the tribe of Berlas. They took up their
quarters with the first horde they met, sold their horses, and lived
quietly enough as long as their money lasted; but, as soon as it came
to an end, the misery of the khan recommenced. "Why am I still in the
world?" he began to exclaim. "Would it not have been better to have
awaited my blood-thirsty foe in my own kingdom, and have died
defending my capital, than to drag on a life which is only one
continued scene of misery? It is in vain that we endure our
misfortunes with patience; for, in spite of our submission to its
decrees, Heaven will never restore us to happiness, but leaves us
still the sport of misery."

"My lord," replied Khalaf, "do not despair of our miseries coming to
an end. Heaven, which decrees these events, is preparing for us, I
doubt not, some relief which we cannot foresee. Let us proceed at
once," added he, "to the principal horde of this tribe. I have a
presentiment, that our fortunes will now assume a more favourable
aspect."

They all three proceeded accordingly to the horde with whom the khan
of Berlas resided. They entered a large tent which served as a refuge
for poor strangers. Here they laid themselves down, worn out with
their journey, and at a loss at last to know how to obtain even the
necessaries of life. Khalaf, however, quietly slipt out of the tent,
leaving his father and mother there, and went through the horde,
asking charity of the passers-by. By the evening he had collected a
small sum of money, with which he bought some provisions, and carried
them to his parents. When they learned that their son had actually
solicited charity, they could not refrain from tears. Khalaf himself
was moved by their grief, but cheerfully remarked, nevertheless, "I
confess that nothing we have yet endured has appeared to me more
mortifying than to be reduced to solicit alms; still, as at present I
cannot procure you subsistence by any other means, is it not my duty
to do it, in spite of the mortification it costs me? But," he added,
as though struck with a sudden thought, "there is still another
resource--sell me for a slave, and the money you will receive will
last you a long time."

"What do you say, my son?" cried Timurtasch, when he heard these
words. "Can you propose to us that we should live at the expense of
your liberty? Ah! rather let us endure for ever our present misery.
But if it should come to this, that one of us must be sold, let it be
myself; I do not refuse to bear the yoke of servitude for you both."

"My lord," said Khalaf, "another thought strikes me; to-morrow morning
I will take my station among the porters; some one may chance to
employ me, and we may thus earn a living by my labour." They agreed to
this, and the following day the prince stationed himself among the
porters of the horde, and waited till some one should employ him; but
unfortunately no one wanted him, so that half the day passed and he
had not had a single job. This grieved him deeply. "If I am not more
successful than this," thought he, "how am I to support my father and
mother?"

He grew tired of waiting among the porters on the chance of some
person wanting his services. He went out of the encampment and
strolled into the country, in order to turn over in his mind
undisturbedly the best means of earning a livelihood. He sat down
under a tree, where, after praying Heaven to have pity on his
perplexity, he fell asleep. When he woke he saw near him a falcon of
singular beauty: its head was adorned with a tuft of gaudy feathers,
and from its neck hung a chain of gold filigree-work set with
diamonds, topazes, and rubies. Khalaf, who understood falconry, held
out his fist, and the bird alighted on it. The prince of the Nagäis
was delighted at the circumstance. "Let us see," said he, "what this
will lead to. This bird, from all appearance, belongs to the sovereign
of the tribe." Nor was he wrong. It was the favourite falcon of
Almguer, khan of Berlas, who had lost it the previous day. His
principal huntsmen were engaged at that moment in searching every
where for it with the greatest diligence and uneasiness, for their
master had threatened them with the severest punishments if they
returned without his bird, which he loved passionately.

Prince Khalaf returned to the encampment with the falcon. As soon as
the people of the horde saw it, they began to cry out, "Ha! here is
the khan's falcon recovered. Blessings on the youth who will make our
prince rejoice by restoring him his bird." And so it turned out, for
when Khalaf arrived at the royal tent, and appeared with the falcon,
the khan, transported with joy, ran to his bird and kissed it a
thousand times. Then addressing the prince of the Nagäis, he asked him
where he found it. Khalaf related how he had recovered the falcon. The
khan then said to him, "Thou appearest to be a stranger amongst us;
where wast thou born, and what is thy profession?"

"My lord," replied Khalaf, prostrating himself at the khan's feet, "I
am the son of a merchant of Bulgaria, who was possessed of great
wealth. I was travelling with my father and mother in the country of
Jaic, when we were attacked by robbers, who stripped us of every thing
but our lives, and we have found our way to this encampment actually
reduced to beg our bread."

"Young man," replied the khan, "I am glad that it is thou who hast
found my falcon; for I swore to grant to whomsoever should bring me my
bird, whatever two things he might ask; so thou hast but to speak.
Tell me what thou desirest me to grant thee, and doubt not that thou
shalt obtain it." "Since I have permission to ask two things,"
returned Khalaf, "I request in the first place that my father and
mother, who are in the strangers' tent, may have a tent to themselves
in the quarter where your highness resides, and that they may be
supported during the rest of their days at your highness's expense,
and waited on by officers of your highness's household; secondly, I
desire to have one of the best horses in your highness's stables and a
purse full of gold, to enable me to make a journey which I have in
contemplation." "Thy wishes shall be gratified," said Almguer; "thou
shalt bring thy father and mother to me, and from this day forth I
will begin to entertain them as thou desirest; and to-morrow, dressed
in rich attire, and mounted on the best horse in my stables, thou
shalt be at liberty to go wherever it shall please thee. Thy modesty,
the filial love which is imprinted upon thy features, thy youth, thy
noble air, please me; be my guest, come and join my festivities, and
thou shalt listen to an Arabian story-teller, whose knowledge and
imaginative powers instruct and amuse my tribes."

The khan and the son of Timurtasch presently seated themselves at a
table loaded with viands, confectionary, fruit, and flowers; gazelle
venison, red-legged partridges, pheasants, and black cock were
displayed as trophies of the skill of the hunter king. The Arab
stationed near the khan awaited his orders. "Moustapha," said the khan
at length, turning to the Arab, "I have been extolling thy knowledge
and wit to my guest; surpass thyself, and let him see that I have not
exaggerated. He shall give thee a subject; treat it in such a manner
as to deserve his praise."

"I am curious," said the prince, "to hear of China; I ask thee to
instruct me concerning the government of that important kingdom, and
to give me an insight into the manners and customs of its people."

The Arab reflected a moment, and then, prefacing his recital with a
few general remarks, proceeded to depict in glowing colours this
celestial empire, whose civilization dates back to the remotest ages
of the world. He described its extent as equal to one-half of the
habitable globe; its population as so numerous that it might be
counted by hundreds of millions; he spoke of cities, each of which
alone brought a revenue to their crown, which surpassed that of entire
kingdoms; of those gigantic works, the canals, whose extent equalled
the course of the largest rivers, which traversed the vast empire. And
he foretold that a time would come when Tartar warriors should scale
that very wall which the terror of their arms had caused to be built,
and should again reconquer the whole of that wealthy tract. He then
began his story as follows.


THE STORY OF LIN-IN.

A CHINESE TALE.

At Wou-si, a town dependent upon the city of Tchang-tcheou, in the
province of Kiang-nan, there resided a family in the middle sphere of
life. Three brothers composed the family; the name of the eldest was
Lin-in (the jasper); the second Lin-pao (the precious); the youngest
Lin-tchin (the pearl); this last was not yet old enough to marry; the
other two had taken wives to themselves. The wife of the first was
named Wang; the wife of the second Yang; and both possessed every
grace which can constitute the charm of woman.

Lin-pao's engrossing passions were gambling and wine; he evinced no
inclination to good. His wife was of a similar disposition, and
depraved in her conduct; she was very different from her sister-in-law
Wang, who was a pattern of modesty and propriety. So although these
two women lived together on neighbourly terms, there was but little
real sympathy between them.

Wang had a son named Hi-eul, that is to say, "the son of rejoicing."
He was a child of six years old. One day having stopped in the street
with some other children, to look at a great procession in the
neighbourhood, he was lost in the crowd, and in the evening did not
return to the house.

This loss caused the deepest sorrow to his parents. They had handbills
posted up, and there was not a street in which they did not make
inquiries, but all to no purpose; they could gain no intelligence
respecting their darling child. Lin-in was inconsolable; and giving
way to the grief that overwhelmed him, he sought to fly from his home,
where every thing brought back the remembrance of his dear Hi-eul. He
borrowed a sum of money from one of his friends to enable him to carry
on a small trade in the neighbourhood of the city and the adjacent
villages, hoping that in one of these short excursions he might be
able to recover the treasure he had lost.

As his whole thoughts were taken up with his child, he took little
pleasure in the circumstance that his trade flourished. He
nevertheless continued to pursue it during five years, without making
long journeys from home, whither he returned every year to spend the
autumn. At length, being utterly unsuccessful in discovering the least
trace of his son after so many years, and concluding that he was lost
to him for ever, and finding moreover that his wife Wang bore him no
more children, as he had now amassed a good sum of money, he
determined to divert his thoughts from painful recollections by
trading in another province.

He joined the company of a rich merchant travelling the road he had
fixed upon; and the merchant, having observed his aptitude for
business, made him a very advantageous offer. The desire of becoming
wealthy now took possession of him, and diverted his thoughts from
their accustomed channel.

Within a very short time after their arrival in the province of
Chan-si every thing had succeeded to their utmost wishes. They found a
quick sale for their merchandise, and the profits arising from it was
considerable. The payments, however, were delayed for two years in
consequence of a drought and famine which afflicted the country, as
well as by a tedious illness by which Lin-in was attacked. They were
detained altogether three years in the province; after which, having
recovered his money and his health, he took his departure to return to
his own country.

He halted one day during his journey near a place named Tchin-lieou
to recruit his strength, and strolling round the neighbourhood
accidentally came upon a girdle of blue cloth, in the form of a long,
narrow bag, such as is worn round the body, under the dress, and in
which money is usually kept; as he took it up, he found the weight
considerable. He retired to a quiet spot, opened the girdle, and found
it contained about two hundred täels.

At sight of this treasure he fell into the following train of
reflection: "My good fortune has placed this sum in my hands; I might
keep it and employ it for my own use without fearing any unpleasant
consequences. Still the person who has dropt it, the moment he
discovers his loss, will be in great distress, and will return in
haste to look for it. Do they not say that our forefathers dared
scarcely touch money found in this way; and if they picked it up, only
did so with a view of restoring it to its owner? This appears to me a
very praiseworthy custom, and I will imitate it, the more so as I am
growing old and have no heir. Of what benefit would money got by such
means be to me?"

Whilst thus reasoning, he had wandered to some distance from the spot
where he had found the money; he now, however, retraced his steps to
the place, and waited there the whole day, to be ready in case the
owner should return. Nobody came, however, and the next day he
continued his journey.

After five days' travelling, he arrived in the evening at
Nan-sou-tcheou, and took up his quarters at an inn where several other
merchants were staying. The conversation having turned upon the
advantages of commerce, one of the company said, "Five days ago, on
leaving Tchin-lieou, I lost two hundred täels, which I had in an
inside girdle. I had taken it off, and placed it near me whilst I lay
down to sleep, when a mandarin and his cortége chanced to pass by. I
hastened to get out of the way for fear of insult, and in my hurry
forgot to take up my money. It was only at night, as I was undressing
to go to bed, that I discovered my loss. I felt sure that as the place
where I lost my money was by the side of a well-frequented road, it
would be useless to delay my journey for several days in order to look
for what I should never find."

Every one condoled with him on his loss. Lin-in asked him his name and
place of abode. "Your servant," replied the merchant, "is named Tchin,
and lives at Yang-tcheou, where he has a shop and a large warehouse.
May I be so bold in return to inquire to whom I have the honour of
speaking?" Lin-in told him his name, and said that he was an
inhabitant of the town of Wou-si. "My shortest road there," added he,
"lies through Yang-tcheou; and, if agreeable to you, I shall have much
pleasure in your company so far."

Tchin acknowledged this politeness in a becoming manner. "Most
willingly," said he; "we will continue our journey together, and I
esteem myself very fortunate in meeting with such an agreeable
companion." The journey was not long, and they soon arrived at
Yang-tcheou.

After the usual civilities, Tchin invited his fellow-traveller to his
house, and on their arrival there immediately ordered refreshments to
be brought. Whilst they were discussing their meal, Lin-in managed to
turn the conversation on the subject of the lost money.

"What," he asked, "was the colour of the girdle which contained your
money, and of what material was it made?"

"It was of blue cloth," replied Tchin; "and what would enable me to
identify it is, that at one end the letter Tchin, which is my name, is
embroidered upon it in white silk."

This description left no doubt as to the owner. Lin-in, therefore,
rejoined in a cheerful tone, "If I have asked you all these
questions, it was merely because passing through Tchin-lieou, I found
a belt such as you describe." At the same time producing it, he added,
"Look if this is yours." "The very same," said Tchin. Whereupon Lin-in
politely restored it to its owner.

Tchin, overwhelmed with gratitude, pressed him to accept the half of
the sum which it contained; but his entreaties were in vain, Lin-in
would receive nothing. "What obligations am I not under to you?"
resumed Tchin; "where else should I find such honesty and generosity?"
He then ordered a splendid repast to be brought, over which they
pledged each other with great demonstrations of friendship.

Tchin thought to himself, "Where should I find a man of such probity
as Lin-in? Men of his character are very scarce in these days. What!
shall I receive from him such an act of kindness, and not be able to
repay him? I have a daughter twelve years old; I must form an alliance
with such an honest man. But has he got a son? On this point I am
entirely ignorant."

"My dear friend," said he, "how old is your son?"

This question brought tears into the eyes of Lin-in. "Alas!" replied
he, "I had but one, who was most dear to me. It is now eight years ago
since my child, having run out of the house to see a procession pass
by, disappeared; and from that day to this I have never been able to
learn any thing of him; and, to crown my misfortune, my wife has not
borne me any more children."

Upon hearing this, Tchin appeared to think for a moment, then,
continuing the conversation, said, "My brother and benefactor, of what
age was the child when you lost him?" "About six years old," replied
Lin-in. "What was his name?" "We called him Hi-eul," returned Lin-in.
"He had escaped all the dangers of the small-pox which had left no
traces upon his countenance; his complexion was clear and florid."

This description gave the greatest pleasure to Tchin, and he could not
prevent his satisfaction from displaying itself in his looks and
manner. He immediately called one of his servants, to whom he
whispered a few words. The servant, having made a gesture of
obedience, retired into the interior of the house.

Lin-in, struck by the questions, and the joy which lit up the
countenance of his host, was forming all sorts of conjectures, when he
saw a youth of about fourteen years of age enter the room. He was
dressed in a long gown, with a plain though neat jacket. His graceful
form, his air and carriage, his face with its regular features, and
his quick and piercing eyes, and finely arched black eyebrows, at once
engaged the admiration and riveted the attention of Lin-in.

As soon as the youth saw the stranger seated at table, he turned
towards him, made a low bow, and uttered some respectful words; then
approaching Tchin, and standing modestly before him, he said in a
sweet and pleasing tone, "My father, you have called Hi-eul; what are
you pleased to command?" "I will tell you presently," replied Tchin,
"in the mean time stand beside me."

The name of Hi-eul, by which the youth called himself, excited fresh
suspicions in the breast of Lin-in. A secret sympathy suddenly forced
itself upon him; and by one of those wonderful instincts of nature
which are so unerring, recalled to his recollection the image of his
lost child, his form, his face, his air, and manners; he beheld them
all in the youth before him. There was but one circumstance that made
him doubt the truth of his conjectures, and that was his addressing
Tchin by the name of 'father.' He felt it would be rude to ask Tchin
if the youth really were his son; perhaps he might truly be so, for it
was not impossible that there might be two children bearing the same
name, and in many respects resembling each other.

Lin-in, absorbed in these reflections, paid little attention to the
good cheer placed before him. Tchin could read on the countenance of
Lin-in the perplexing thoughts that filled his mind. An indescribable
charm seemed to attract him irresistibly towards the youth. He kept
his eyes constantly fixed upon him, he could not turn them away.
Hi-eul, on his part, despite his bashfulness and the timidity natural
to his age, could not help gazing intently upon Lin-in; it seemed as
though nature was revealing his father to him.

At length Lin-in, no longer master of his feelings, suddenly broke the
silence, and asked Tchin if the youth really was his son.

"I am not," replied Tchin, "really his father, although I look upon
him as my own child. Eight years ago, a man passing through this city,
leading this child in his hand, addressed me by chance, and begged me
to assist him in his great need. 'My wife,' said he, 'is dead, and has
left me with this child. The impoverished state of my affairs has
compelled me to leave my native place, and go to Hoaingan to my
relations, from whom I hope to receive a sum of money, to enable me to
set up in business again. I have not wherewith to continue my journey
to that town, will you be so charitable as to lend me three täels? I
will faithfully restore them on my return, and I will leave as a
pledge all that I hold most dear in the world, my only son; I shall no
sooner reach Hoaingan, than I will return and redeem my dear child.'

"I felt gratified by this mark of confidence, and I gave him the sum
he asked. As he left me he burst into tears, and gave every evidence
of the grief he felt in leaving his child. I was, however, surprised
that the child did not exhibit the least emotion at the separation;
as, however, time wore on, and the pretended father did not return,
suspicions began to rise, which I was anxious to set at rest. I called
the child, and by various questions I put to him, learned that he was
born in Wou-si, that having one day run out to see a procession pass
by, he had strayed too far from home, and lost his way, and that he
had been trepanned and carried off by a stranger. He also told me the
name of his father and mother; indeed, it is that of your own family.
I thus discovered that the fellow, so far from being the father of the
poor child, was the identical rascal who had carried him off. Not only
was my compassion excited, but the boy's pleasing manners had entirely
won my heart; I treated him from that time as one of my own children,
and I sent him to college with my own son, to study with him. I have
often entertained the plan of going to Wou-si, to inquire after his
family. But business of some kind always prevented me from undertaking
the journey, of which, however, I had never fully relinquished the
idea; when, happily, a few moments ago, you chanced in the course of
conversation to mention your son, my suspicions were aroused, and upon
the extraordinary coincidence of your tale, and the circumstances of
which I was acquainted, I sent for your child to see if you would
recognize him."

At these words Hi-eul wept for joy, and his tears caused those of
Lin-in to flow copiously. "A peculiar mark," said he, "will prove his
identity; a little above the left knee you will find a small black
spot, which has been there from his birth." Hi-eul pulled up the leg
of his trouser, and showed the spot in question. Lin-in, on seeing it,
threw himself upon the neck of the child, covered him with kisses, and
folded him in his arms. "My child," cried he, "my dear child, what
happiness for your father to find you after so many years' absence."

It is not difficult to conceive to what transports of joy the father
and son delivered themselves up, during these first moments of
pleasure. After a thousand tender embraces, Lin-in at length tore
himself from the arms of his son, and made a profound obeisance to
Tchin. "What gratitude do I not owe you," said he, "for having
received my son into your house, and brought up this dear portion of
myself with so much care. But for you we should never have been
united."

"My kind benefactor," replied Tchin, rising, "it was the act of
disinterested generosity you practised towards me, in restoring the
two hundred täels, which moved the compassion of Heaven. It is Heaven
that conducted you to my house, where you have found him whom you
sought in vain for so many years. Now that I know that good youth is
your son, I regret that I have not treated him with greater
consideration."

"Kneel, my son," said Lin-in, "and thank your generous benefactor."

Tchin was about to return these salutations, when Lin-in himself
prevented him, overcome with this excess of respect. This interchange
of civilities being over they resumed their seats, and Tchin placed
little Hi-eul on a seat by his father's side.

Then Tchin resuming the conversation, said, "My brother (for
henceforth that is the title by which I shall address you), I have a
daughter twelve years of age, and it is my intention to give her in
marriage to your son, in order that the union may cement our
friendship more closely." This proposition was made in so sincere and
ardent a manner, that Lin-in did not feel it right to make the usual
excuses that good breeding prescribed. He therefore waived all
ceremony, and gave his consent at once.

As it was growing late, they separated for the night. Hi-eul slept in
the same chamber with his father. You may imagine all the tender and
affectionate conversation that passed between them during the night.
The next day Lin-in prepared to take leave of his host, but he could
not resist his pressing invitation to remain. Tchin had prepared a
second day's festivity, in which he spared no expense to regale the
future father-in-law of his daughter, and his new son-in-law, and
thereby to console himself for their departure. They drank and sang,
and gave themselves up fully to the hilarity of the occasion.

When the repast was ended, Tchin drew out a packet of twenty täels,
and looking towards Lin-in, said, "During the time my dear son-in-law
has been with me, it is possible he may have suffered many things
against my wish, and unknown to me; here is a little present I wish to
make him, until I can give him more substantial proofs of my
affection. I will not hear of a refusal."

"What!" replied Lin-in, "at a time when I am contracting an alliance
so honourable to me, and when I ought, according to custom, to make
marriage presents for my son, presents which I am prevented from doing
at this moment, only because I am travelling, do you load me with
gifts? I cannot accept them; the thought covers me with confusion."

"Well!" replied Tchin, "I am not dreaming of offering _you_ such a
trifle. It is for my son-in-law, not the father-in-law of my daughter,
that I intend this present. Indeed, if you persist in the refusal, I
shall consider it as a sign that the alliance is not agreeable to
you."

Lin-in saw that he must yield, and that resistance would be useless.
He humbly accepted the present, and making his son rise from table,
ordered him to make a profound reverence to Tchin. "What I have given
you," said Tchin, raising him up, "is but a trifle, and deserves no
thanks." Hi-eul then went into the house to pay his respects to his
mother-in-law. The whole day passed in feasting and diversions; it was
only at night that they separated.

When Lin-in retired to his chamber, he gave himself up entirely to the
reflections to which these events gave rise. "It must be confessed,"
cried he, "that by restoring the two hundred täels, I have done an
action pleasing to Heaven, and now I am rewarded by the happiness of
finding my child, and contracting so honourable an alliance. This is,
indeed, joy upon joy; it is like putting gold flowers upon a beautiful
piece of silk. How can I be sufficiently grateful for so many favours?
Here are the twenty täels that my friend Tchin has given me; can I do
better than employ them towards the maintenance of some virtuous
bonzes? It will be sowing them in a soil of blessings."

The next day, after breakfast, the father and son got ready their
luggage, and took leave of their host; they proceeded to the quay,
hired a boat, and commenced their journey. They had scarcely gone half
a league, ere they came in sight of a scene of terrible excitement;
the river was full of struggling people, whose cries rent the air. A
bark, full of passengers, had just sunk, and the cries of the
unfortunate creatures for help were heart-rending! The people on the
shore called loudly to several small boats which were near to come to
the rescue. But the hard-hearted and selfish boatmen demanded that a
good sum should be guaranteed them, before they would bestir
themselves. At this critical moment Lin-in's boat came up. The moment
he perceived what was going on, he said to himself: "It is a much more
meritorious action to save the life of a man, than to adorn the
temples and support bonzes. Let us consecrate the twenty täels to this
good work; let us succour these poor drowning souls." He instantly
proclaimed that he would give the twenty täels amongst those who would
take the drowning men into their boats.

At this offer all the boatmen crowded towards the scene of the
disaster, and the river was, in a moment, covered with their boats; at
the same time, some of the spectators on shore, who knew how to swim,
threw themselves into the water, and, in a few moments, all were
saved, without exception. Lin-in then distributed amongst the boatmen
the promised reward.

The poor creatures, snatched from a watery grave, came in a body to
return thanks to their preserver. One amongst them, having looked
attentively at Lin-in, suddenly cried out, "What! is that you, my
eldest brother? By what good luck do I find you here?"

Lin-in, turning towards him, recognized his youngest brother,
Lin-tchin. Then, transported with joy, he exclaimed, clasping his
hands, "O wonderful circumstance! Heaven has led me hither to save my
brother's life." He instantly reached out his hand to him, and made
him come into his boat, helped him off with his wet clothes, and gave
him others.

As soon as Lin-tchin had sufficiently recovered, he paid the respects
due to an elder brother which good breeding demands from a younger,
and Lin-in, having acknowledged his politeness, called Hi-eul, who was
in the cabin, to come and salute his uncle; he then recounted all his
adventures, which threw Lin-tchin into a state of amazement, from
which he was a long time in recovering. "But tell me," said Lin-in, at
length, "your motive in coming to this country."

"It is not possible," replied Lin-tchin, "to tell you in a few words
the reason of my travels. In the course of the three years which have
elapsed since your departure from home, the melancholy news of your
death from illness reached us. My second brother made every inquiry,
and assured himself that the report was true. It was a thunderbolt for
my sister-in-law; she was inconsolable, and put on the deepest
mourning. For my part, I could not give credit to the report. After a
few days had elapsed, my second brother tried all in his power to
induce my sister-in-law to contract a fresh marriage. She, however,
steadily rejected the proposal; at length she prevailed upon me to
make a journey to Chan-si, to ascertain upon the spot what had become
of you; and, when I least expected it, at the point of perishing in
the water, the very person I was in search of, my well-beloved
brother, has saved my life. Is not this unexpected good fortune, a
blessing from Heaven? But believe me, my brother, there is no time to
be lost; make all possible haste to return home, and to put an end to
my sister-in-law's grief. The least delay may cause an irreparable
misfortune."

Lin-in, overwhelmed at this news, sent for the captain of the boat,
and, although it was late, ordered him to set sail, and continue the
voyage during the night.

Whilst all these events were happening to Lin-in, Wang, his wife, was
a prey to the most poignant grief. A thousand circumstances led her to
suspect that her husband was not dead; but Lin-pao, who by that
reported death became the head of the family, so positively assured
her that it was true, that, at last, she had allowed herself to be
persuaded into that belief, and had assumed the widow's weeds.

Lin-pao possessed a bad heart, and was capable of the most unworthy
acts. "I have no doubt," said he, "of my elder brother's death. My
sister-in-law is young and handsome; she has, besides, no one to
support her; I must force her to marry again, and I shall make money
by this means."

He thereupon communicated his plan to Yang, his wife, and ordered her
to employ some clever matchmaker. But Wang resolutely rejected the
proposal; she vowed that she would remain a widow, and honour the
memory of her husband by her widowhood. Her brother-in-law, Lin-tchin,
supported her in her resolution. Thus all the artifices which Lin-pao
and his wife employed were useless; and, as every time they urged her
on the subject it occurred to her that they had no positive proof of
his death, "I am determined," said she, at length, "to know the truth;
these reports are often false; it is only on the very spot that
certain information can be obtained. True, the distance is nearly a
hundred leagues. Still, I know that Lin-tchin is a good-hearted man;
he will travel to the province of Chan-si to relieve my anxiety, and
learn positively if I am so unfortunate as to have lost my husband;
and, if I have, he will, at least, bring me his precious remains."

Lin-tchin was asked to undertake the journey, and, without a moment's
hesitation, departed. His absence, however, only rendered Lin-pao more
eager in the pursuit of his project. To crown the whole, he had
gambled very deeply, and, having been a heavy loser, was at his wit's
end to know where to obtain money. In this state of embarrassment, he
met with a merchant of Kiang-si, who had just lost his wife, and was
looking for another. Lin-pao seized upon the opportunity, and proposed
his sister-in-law to him. The merchant accepted the offer, taking
care, however, to make secret inquiries whether the lady who was
proposed to him was young and good-looking. As soon as he was
satisfied on these points, he lost no time, and paid down thirty täels
to clinch the bargain.

Lin-pao, having taken the money, said to the merchant, "I ought to
warn you, that my sister-in-law is proud and haughty. She will raise
many objections to leaving the house, and you will have a great deal
of trouble to force her to do it. Now this will be your best plan for
managing it. This evening, as soon as it gets dark, have a palanquin
and good strong bearers in readiness; come with as little noise as
possible, and present yourself at the door of the house. The young
woman who will come to the door, attired in the head-dress of
mourners, is my sister-in-law; don't say a word to her, and don't
listen to what she may say, but seize her at once, thrust her into
your palanquin, carry her to your boat, and set sail at once." This
plan met with the approbation of the merchant, and its execution
appeared easy enough of accomplishment.

In the mean time, Lin-pao returned home, and, in order to prevent his
sister-in-law from suspecting any thing of the project he had planned,
he assumed an air of the most perfect indifference, but as soon as she
left the room, he communicated his plans to his wife, and, alluding to
his sister-in-law, in a contemptuous manner, said, "That two-legged
piece of goods must leave this house to-night. However, not to be a
witness of her tears and sighs, I shall go out beforehand, and, as it
gets dark, a merchant of Kiang-si will come, and take her away in a
palanquin to his boat."

He would have continued the conversation, when he heard the footsteps
of some person outside the window, and went hurriedly away. In his
haste he forgot to mention the circumstance of the mourning dress. It
was doubtless an interposition of Providence that this circumstance
was omitted. The lady Wang easily perceived that the noise she made
outside the window had caused Lin-pao to break off the conversation
suddenly. The tone of his voice plainly showed that he had something
more to say; but she had heard enough; for having remarked by his
manner that he had some secret to tell his wife when he entered the
house, she had pretended to go away, but listening at the window had
heard these words distinctly, "They will take her away and put her
into a palanquin."

These words strongly fortified her suspicions. Her resolution was
taken at once. She entered the room, and approaching Yang, gave
utterance to her anxiety. "My sister-in-law," said she, "you behold an
unfortunate widow, who is bound to you by the strongest ties of a
friendship which has been always sincere. By this long-standing
friendship I conjure you to tell me candidly whether my brother-in-law
still persists in his design of forcing me into a marriage that would
cover me with disgrace."

At these words Yang at first appeared confused, and changed colour;
then, assuming a more confident expression, "What are you thinking
of?" she asked, "and what fancies have you got into your head? If
there were any intention of making you marry again, do you think there
would be any difficulty? What is the good of throwing oneself into the
water before the ship is really going to pieces?"

The moment the lady Wang heard this allusion to the ship, she
understood more clearly the meaning of the secret conference of her
brother-in-law with his wife. She now suspected the worst, and gave
vent to her lamentations and sighs; and yielding to the current of her
grief, she shut herself up in her room, where she wept, groaned, and
bewailed her hard lot. "Unfortunate wretch that I am," cried she, "I
do not know what has become of my husband. Lin-tchin, my
brother-in-law and friend, upon whom alone I can rely, is gone on a
journey. My father, mother, and relations live far from hence. If this
business is hurried on, how shall I be able to inform them of it? I
can hope for no assistance from our neighbours. Lin-pao has made
himself the terror of the whole district, and every body knows him to
be capable of the greatest villany. Miserable creature that I am! how
can I escape his snares? If I do not fall into them to-day, it may be
to-morrow, or at any rate in a very short time."

She fell to the ground half dead; her fall, and the violence of her
grief, made a great noise. The lady Yang, hearing the disturbance,
hastened to her room, and finding the door firmly fastened, concluded
that it was a plan of her distracted sister-in-law to evade the scheme
of the night; she therefore seized a bar which stood by and broke the
door open. As she entered the room, the night being very dark, she
caught her feet in the clothes of the lady Wang, and fell tumbling
over her. In her fall she lost her head-dress, which flew to some
distance, and the fright and fall brought on a faint, in which she
remained for some time. When she recovered she got up, went for a
light, and returned to the room, where she found the lady Wang
stretched on the floor, without motion and almost without breath.

At the moment she was going to procure other assistance, she heard a
gentle knock at the door. She knew it must be the merchant of Kiang-si
come to fetch the wife he had bought. She quickly ran to receive him
and bring him into the room, that he might himself be witness of what
had occurred; but remembering that she had no head-dress, and that she
was unfit to present herself in that state, she hastily caught up the
one she found at her feet, which was the lady Wang's head-dress of
mourning, and ran to the door.

It was indeed the merchant of Kiang-si, who had come to fetch away his
promised bride. He had a bridal palanquin, ornamented with silk flags,
festoons, flowers, and several gay lanterns; it was surrounded by
servants bearing lighted torches, and by a troop of flute and
hautboy-players. The whole cortége was stationed in the street in
perfect silence. The merchant, having knocked gently and finding the
door open, entered the house with some of those who bore torches to
light him.

Upon the lady Yang's appearance, the merchant, who spied at a glance
the mourning head-dress, which was the mark by which he was to
distinguish his bride, flew upon her like a hungry kite upon a
sparrow. His followers rushed in, carried off the lady, and shut her
into the palanquin, which was all ready to receive her. It was in vain
she endeavoured to make herself heard, crying out, "You are mistaken;
it is not me you want." The music struck up as she was forced into the
palanquin, and drowned her voice, whilst the bearers flew rather than
walked, and bore her to the boat.

[Illustration: The lady Yang carried off in the Palanquin, p. 122.]

Whilst all this was taking place, the lady Wang had gradually revived
and come to her senses. The great hubbub she heard at the door of the
house renewed her fears, and occasioned her the most painful anxiety;
but as she found that the noise of music, and the tumult of voices,
which had arisen so suddenly died gradually away in the distance, she
regained her courage, and after a few minutes summoned up strength to
go and inquire what was the matter.

After calling her sister-in-law two or three times without effect, the
truth began to dawn on her; and after considering the matter
carefully, she could only come to the conclusion that the merchant had
made a mistake, and had carried off the wrong lady. But now a fresh
cause of uneasiness arose; she dreaded the consequences when Lin-pao
should return and be informed of the mistake. She shut herself up in
her room, and after picking up the head-pins, the earrings, and the
head-dress, which were lying on the floor, threw herself, quite worn
out with fatigue and anxiety, on her couch, and endeavoured to get a
little sleep, but she was not able to close her eyes all night.

At daybreak she rose and bathed her face, and proceeded to complete
her toilet. As, however, she was searching about for her mourning
head-dress, some one began making a great noise at the room-door,
knocking loudly and crying out, "Open the door instantly!" It was, in
fact, Lin-pao himself. She recognized the voice at once. She made up
her mind at once what to do; she let him go on knocking without
answering him. He swore, stormed and bawled, till he was hoarse. At
length the lady Wang went to the door, and standing behind it without
opening it, asked, "Who is knocking there, and making such a
disturbance?" Lin-pao, who recognized the voice of his sister-in-law,
began to shout still louder: but seeing that his storming had no
effect, he had recourse to an expedient which proved successful.
"Sister-in-law," said he, "I have brought you good news! Lin-tchin, my
youngest brother, has come back, and our eldest brother is in
excellent health; open the door at once!"

Overjoyed at this intelligence, the lady Wang ran to complete her
toilet, and in her haste put on the black[8] head-dress that her
sister-in-law had left behind, and eagerly opened the door; but, alas!
in vain did she look for her friend Lin-tchin; no one was there but
Lin-pao. He entered her room hurriedly and looked round, but not
seeing his wife, and perceiving a black head-dress on the head of his
sister-in-law, his suspicions began to be excited in a strange manner.

"Well! where is your sister-in-law?" he asked roughly.

"You ought to know better than I," replied the lady Wang, "since you
had the whole management of this admirable plot."

"But tell me," returned Lin-pao, "why don't you still wear a white
head-dress? have you left off mourning?" The lady Wang forthwith
proceeded to relate to him all that had happened during his absence.

Just at this moment he caught sight through the window of four or five
persons hurrying towards his house. To his utter astonishment he
perceived that they were his eldest brother Lin-in, his youngest
brother Lin-tchin, his nephew Hi-eul, and two servants carrying their
luggage. Lin-pao, thunderstruck at this sight, and not having
impudence enough to face them, ran off by the back-door, and
disappeared like a flash of lightning.

The lady Wang was transported with joy at her husband's return. But
who shall describe her ecstasies of joy when her son was presented to
her? She could scarcely recognize him, so tall and handsome had he
grown. "Oh!" cried she, "by what good fortune did you recover our dear
child, whom I thought we had lost for ever?"

Lin-in gave her in detail an account of his adventures; and the lady
Wang related at length all the indignities she had endured at the
hands of Lin-pao, and the extremities to which she had been reduced by
his scandalous treatment.

Lin-in lavished on his wife encomiums which indeed her fidelity
deserved; after which, reflecting on the whole chain of events by
which the present meeting had been brought about, he seemed deeply
moved, and remarked, "If a blind passion for wealth had caused me to
keep the two hundred täels I found by accident, how should I have ever
met with our dear child? If avarice had prevented me from employing
the twenty täels in saving those drowning people, my dear brother
would have perished in the waves, and I should never have seen him; if
by an unlooked-for chance I had not met my kind-hearted brother, how
should I have discovered the trouble and confusion that reigned in
this house in time to prevent its disastrous consequences? But for all
this, my beloved wife, we should never have seen each other again. I
recognize the special interposition of Providence in bringing about
all these things. As to my other brother, that unnatural brother, who
has unconsciously sold his own wife, he has drawn upon himself his own
terrible punishment. Heaven rewards men according to their deserts;
let them not think to escape its judgments.

"Let us learn from this how profitable in the end, as well as good, it
is to practise virtue; it is that alone which bestows lasting
prosperity upon a house."

In due course of time Hi-eul brought home his bride, the daughter of
Tchin. The marriage was celebrated with great rejoicings, and proved a
happy one. They had several children, and lived to see a crowd of
grandchildren, several of whom became men of learning, and acquired
important positions in the state.


CONTINUATION OF THE STORY OF PRINCE KHALAF AND THE PRINCESS OF CHINA.

The prince applauded the narrative of the story-teller; and, dinner
being over, he prostrated himself a second time before the khan, and,
after thanking him for his goodness, returned to the tent, where
Elmaze and Timurtasch were anxiously expecting him. "I bring you good
news," said he to them; "our fortune has changed already." He then
related to them all that had passed. This fortunate event caused them
the greatest pleasure; they regarded it as an infallible sign that the
hardness of their destiny was beginning to soften. They willingly
followed Khalaf, who conducted them to the royal tent and presented
them to the khan. This prince received them with courtesy, and renewed
to them the promise he had given to their son; and he did not fail to
keep his word. He appointed them a private tent, caused them to be
waited on by the slaves and officers of his household, and ordered
them to be treated with the same respect as himself.

The next day Khalaf was arrayed in a rich dress; he received from the
hand of Almguer himself a sabre with a diamond hilt and a purse full
of gold sequins; they then brought him a beautiful Turcoman horse. He
mounted before all the court; and to show that he understood the
management of a horse, he made him go through all his paces and
evolutions in a manner that charmed the prince and all his courtiers.

After having thanked the khan for all his benefits, he took his leave.
He then sought Elmaze and Timurtasch; and after some time spent in
desultory conversation, proceeded to unfold to them a scheme which for
some days past had been agitating his mind. "I have a great desire,"
said he, "to see the great kingdom of China; give me permission to
gratify that wish. I have a presentiment that I shall signalize myself
by some splendid action, and that I shall gain the friendship of the
monarch who holds that vast empire under his sway. Suffer me to leave
you in this asylum, where you are in perfect safety, and where you can
want for nothing. I am following an impulse which inspires me, or
rather, I am yielding myself to the guidance of Heaven."

"Go, my son," replied Timurtasch; "yield to the noble impulse which
animates you; hasten to the fortune that awaits you. Accelerate by
your valour the arrival of that tardy prosperity which must one day
succeed our misfortunes, or by a glorious death deserve an illustrious
place in the history of unfortunate princes."

The young prince of the Nagäis, after having embraced his father and
mother, mounted upon his beautiful charger, took a respectful leave of
the khan, received from the hand of the princess Elmaze, who came out
of her tent for the purpose, the parting cup, and set out on his
journey. Historians do not mention that he encountered any thing
worthy notice on his route; they only say that, having arrived at the
great city Canbalac, otherwise Pekin, he dismounted at a house near
the gate, where a worthy woman, a widow, lived. Khalaf reined up his
horse here, and on the widow presenting herself at the door, he
saluted her and said,

"My good mother, would you kindly receive a stranger? If you could
give me a lodging in your house, I can venture to say that you will
have no cause to regret it." The widow scrutinized him; and judging
from his good looks, as well as from his dress, that he was no mean
guest, she made him a low bow, and replied, "Young stranger of noble
bearing, my house is at your service, and all that it contains."

"Have you also a place where I can put my horse?"

"Yes," said she, "I have," and called a young slave, who took the
horse by the bridle, and led him into a small stable behind the house.
Khalaf, who felt very hungry, then asked her if she would kindly send
and buy something for him in the market. The widow replied, that she
had a maiden who lived with her, and who would execute his orders. The
prince then drew from his purse a sequin of gold and placed it in the
girl's hand, who went off to the market.

In the mean time, the widow had enough to do to answer the inquiries
of Khalaf. He asked her a thousand questions; what were the customs of
the inhabitants of the city? how many families Pekin was said to
contain? and, at length, the conversation fell upon the king of China.

"Tell me, I pray you," said Khalaf, "what is the character this prince
bears. Is he generous, and do you think that he would pay any regard
to a young stranger, who might offer to serve him against his enemies?
In a word, is he a man to whose interests I could worthily attach
myself?"

"Doubtless," replied the widow; "he is an excellent prince, who loves
his subjects as much as he is beloved by them, and I am surprised that
you have never heard of our good king, Altoun-Khan, for the fame of
his justice and liberality is spread far and wide."

"From the favourable picture you draw of him," replied the prince of
the Nagäis, "I should imagine that he ought to be the happiest and
most prosperous monarch in the world."

"He is not so, however," replied the widow; "indeed, he may be said to
be the most wretched. In the first place, he has no prince to succeed
him on his throne; a male heir is denied him, notwithstanding all the
prayers of himself and his subjects, and all the good deeds he
performs to that end. But I must tell you, the grief of having no son
is not his greatest trouble; what principally disturbs the peace of
his life is the princess Tourandocte, his only daughter."

"How is it," replied Khalaf, "that she is such a source of grief to
him?"

"I will tell you," replied the widow; "and, indeed, I can speak upon
the subject from the very best authority; for my daughter has often
told me the story and she has the honour of being among the attendants
on the princess."

"The princess Tourandocte," continued the hostess of the prince of the
Nagäis, "is in her nineteenth year; she is so beautiful, that the
artists to whom she has sat for her portrait, although the most expert
in the East, have all confessed that they were ashamed of their
efforts; and that the most able painter in the world, and the best
skilled in delineating the charms of a beautiful face, could not
express those of the princess of China; nevertheless, the different
portraits which have been taken of her, although infinitely inferior
to the original, have produced the most disastrous consequences.

"She combines, with her ravishing beauty, a mind so cultivated, that
she not only understands all that is usual for persons in her station
to know, but is mistress of sciences suited only for the other sex.
She can trace the various characters of several languages, she is
acquainted with arithmetic, geography, philosophy, mathematics, law,
and, above all, theology, she knows the laws and moral philosophy of
our great legislator, Berginghuzin; in fact, is as learned as all the
wise men put together. But her good qualities are effaced by a
hardness of heart without parallel, and all her accomplishments are
tarnished by detestable cruelty.

"It is now two years ago since the king of Thibet sent to ask her in
marriage for his son, who had fallen in love with her from a portrait
he had seen. Altoun-Khan, delighted with the prospect of this
alliance, proposed it to Tourandocte. The haughty princess, to whom
all men appeared despicable, so vain had her beauty rendered her,
rejected the proposal with disdain. The king flew into a violent rage
with her, and declared that he would be obeyed; but instead of
submitting dutifully to the wishes of her father, she burst into
bitter lamentations, because he showed a disposition to force her to
comply; she grieved immoderately, as though it were intended to
inflict a great injury upon her; in fact, she took it so much to heart
that she fell seriously ill. The physicians, who soon discovered the
secret of her complaint, told the king that all their remedies were
useless, and that the princess would certainly lose her life, if he
persisted in his resolution to make her espouse the prince of Thibet.

"The king then, who loves his daughter to distraction, alarmed at the
danger she was in, went to see her, and assured her that he would send
back the ambassador with a refusal. 'That is not enough, my lord,'
replied the princess; 'I am resolved to die, except you grant what I
ask you. If you wish me to live, you must bind yourself by an
inviolable oath never to try to influence my wishes in this matter,
and to publish a decree declaring that of all the princes who may seek
my hand, none shall be allowed to espouse me who shall not previously
have replied, without hesitation, to the questions which I shall put
to him before all the learned men in this city; that if his answers
prove satisfactory, I will consent to his becoming my husband, but if
the reverse, that he shall lose his head in the court-yard of your
palace.'

"'By this edict,' added she, 'of which all the foreign princes who may
arrive at Pekin shall be informed, you will extinguish all desire of
asking me in marriage; and that is exactly what I wish, for I hate
men, and do not wish to be married.'

"'But, my child,' said the king, 'if by chance some one should present
himself, and reply to your questions?'--

"'Ha! I do not fear that,' she said quickly, interrupting him; 'I can
put questions which would puzzle the most learned doctors; I am
willing to run that risk.'

"Altoun-Khan pondered over what the princess demanded of him. 'I see
clearly,' thought he, 'that my daughter does not wish to marry, and
the effect of this edict will be to frighten away all lovers. I run no
risk, therefore, in yielding to her fancies, no evil can come of it.
What prince would be mad enough to face such danger?'

"At length the king, persuaded that this edict would not be followed
by any bad results, and that the recovery of his daughter entirely
depended upon it, caused it to be published, and swore upon the laws
of Berginghuzin to see that it was observed to the letter.
Tourandocte, reassured by this oath, which she knew her father dare
not violate, regained her strength, and was soon restored to perfect
health.

"In spite of the decree, the fame of her beauty attracted several
young princes to Pekin. It was in vain that they were informed of the
nature of the edict; and as every body, but particularly a young
prince, entertains a good opinion of himself, they had the hardihood
to present themselves to reply to the questions of the princess; and
not being able to fathom her deep meaning, they perished miserably one
after another.

"The king, to do him justice, appears deeply afflicted with their sad
fate. He repents of having made the oath which binds him; and however
tenderly he may love his daughter, he would now almost rather he had
let her die than have saved her life at such a price. He does all in
his power to prevent these evils. When a lover whom the decree cannot
restrain comes to demand the hand of the princess, he strives to deter
him from his purpose; and he never consents, but with the deepest
regret, to his exposing himself to the chance of losing his life. But
it generally happens that he is unable to dissuade these rash young
men. They are infatuated with Tourandocte, and the hope of possessing
her blinds them to the difficulty of obtaining her.

"But if the king shows so much grief at the ruin of the unfortunate
princes, it is not the case with his barbarous daughter. She takes a
pride in these spectacles of blood with which her beauty periodically
furnishes the Chinese. So great is her vanity, that she considers the
most accomplished prince not only unworthy of her, but most insolent
in daring to raise his thoughts towards her, and she looks upon his
death as a just chastisement for his temerity.

"But what is still more deplorable, Heaven is perpetually permitting
princes to come and sacrifice themselves to this inhuman princess.
Only the other day, a prince, who flattered himself that he had
knowledge enough to reply to her questions, lost his life; and this
very night another is to die, who, unfortunately, came to the court of
China with the same hopes."

Khalaf was deeply attentive to the widow's story.

"I cannot understand," said he, after she had ceased speaking, "how
any princes can be found sufficiently devoid of judgment to come and
ask the hand of the princess of China. What man would not be terrified
at the condition without which he cannot hope to obtain her? Besides,
despite what the artists may say who have painted her portrait;
although they may affirm that their productions are but an imperfect
image of her beauty, my firm belief is that they have added charms,
and that their portraits exaggerate her beauty, since they have
produced such powerful effects; indeed, I cannot think that
Tourandocte is so beautiful as you say."

"Sir," replied the widow, "she is more lovely by far than I have
described her to you; and you may believe me, for I have seen her
several times when I have gone to the harem to visit my daughter. Draw
upon your fancy as you please, collect in your imagination all that
can possibly be brought together in order to constitute a perfect
beauty, and be assured that even then you would not have pictured to
yourself an object which could approach the perfections of the
princess."

The prince of the Nagäis could not credit the story of the widow, so
overdrawn did he consider it; he felt, nevertheless, a secret pleasure
for which he could not account. "But, my mother," said he, "are the
questions which the king's daughter proposes so difficult of solution
that it is impossible to reply to them to the satisfaction of the
lawyers who are judges? For my part, I cannot help thinking that the
princes who were not able to penetrate the meaning of her questions,
must have been persons of very little ingenuity, if not absolutely
ignorant."

"No, no!" replied the widow. "There is no enigma more obscure than the
questions of the princess, and it is almost impossible to reply to
them."

Whilst they were conversing thus of Tourandocte and her lovers, the
girl arrived from the market loaded with provisions. Khalaf sat down
to a table which the widow had prepared, and ate like a man famishing
with hunger. Whilst thus engaged the night drew on, and they heard
shortly in the town the gong of justice. The prince asked what the
noise meant. "It is to give notice to the people," replied the widow,
"that some person is going to be executed; and the unfortunate victim
about to be immolated is the prince of whom I told you, and who is to
be executed to-night for not being able to answer the princess's
questions. It is customary to punish the guilty during the day, but
this is an exceptional case. The king, who in his heart abhors the
punishment which he causes to be inflicted upon the lovers of his
daughter, will not suffer the sun to be witness of such a cruel
action."

The son of Timurtasch had a wish to see this execution, the cause of
which appeared so singular to him. He went out of the house, and
meeting a crowd of Chinese in the street animated by the same
curiosity, he mixed with them, and went to the court-yard of the
palace, where the tragic scene was to be enacted. He beheld in the
middle of the yard a _schebt-cheraghe_, in other words a very high
wooden tower, the outside of which, from the top to the bottom, was
covered with branches of cypress, amongst which a prodigious quantity
of lamps, tastefully arranged, spread a brilliant light around, and
illuminated the whole court-yard. Fifteen cubits from the tower a
scaffold was raised, covered with white satin, and around the scaffold
were arranged several pavilions of taffetas of the same colour open
towards the scaffold. Behind these two thousand soldiers of the guard
of Altoun-Khan were stationed, with drawn swords and axes in their
hands, forming a double rank, which served as a barrier against the
people. Khalaf was looking with deep attention at all that presented
itself to his view, when suddenly the mournful ceremony commenced. It
was ushered in by a confused noise of drums and bells, which proceeded
from the town, and could be heard at a great distance. At the same
moment twenty mandarins and as many judges, all dressed in long robes
of white woollen cloth, emerged from the palace, advanced towards the
scaffold, and after walking three times around it, took their places
under the pavilions.

Next came the victim, crowned with flowers interwoven with cypress
leaves, and with a blue fillet round his head,--not a red one, such as
criminals condemned by justice wear. He was a young prince, who had
scarcely reached his eighteenth year; he was accompanied by a mandarin
leading him by the hand, and followed by the executioner. The three
ascended the scaffold; instantly the noise of the drums and bells
ceased. The mandarin then addressed the prince in a tone so loud that
he was heard by nearly the whole concourse of people. "Prince," said
he, "is it not true that you were apprised of the terms of the king's
edict before you presented yourself to ask the princess in marriage?
Is it not also true that the king himself used all his endeavours to
dissuade you from your rash resolution?" The prince, having replied in
the affirmative, "Acknowledge, then," continued the mandarin, "that it
is by your own fault that you lose your life to-day, and that the king
and princess are not guilty of your death."

"I pardon them," returned the prince; "I impute my death to myself
alone, and I pray Heaven not to require of them my blood which is
about to be shed."

He had scarcely finished these words, when the executioner swept off
his head with one stroke of the sword. The air instantly resounded
with the noise of the drums and the bells. Then twelve mandarins took
up the body, laid it in a coffin of ivory and ebony, and placed it
upon a litter, which six of them bore away upon their shoulders into
the gardens of Serail. Here they deposited it under a dome of white
marble, which the king had ordered to be erected purposely to be the
resting-place of all those unfortunate princes who should share the
same fate. He often retired there to weep upon the tombs of those who
were buried within it, and tried, by honouring their ashes with his
tears, in some measure to atone for the barbarity of his child. As
soon as the mandarins had carried away the body of the prince who had
just suffered, the people and all the councillors retired to their
homes, blaming the king for having had the imprudence to sanction
such barbarity by an oath that he could not break. Khalaf remained in
the court-yard of the palace in a state of bewilderment; he noticed a
man near him weeping bitterly; he guessed that it was some person who
was deeply interested in the execution that had just taken place, and
wishing to know more about it, addressed him in these words:

"I am deeply moved," said he, "by the lively grief you exhibit, and I
sympathize in your troubles, for I cannot doubt that you were
intimately acquainted with the prince who has just suffered."

"Ah! sir," replied the mourner, with a fresh outburst of grief, "I
ought indeed to know him, for I was his tutor. O unhappy king of
Samarcand!" added he, "what will be thy grief when thou shalt be told
of the extraordinary death of thy son? and who shall dare to carry
thee the news?"

Khalaf asked by what means the prince of Samarcand had become
enamoured of the princess of China. "I will tell you," replied the
tutor: "and you will doubtless be astonished at the recital I am about
to make. The prince of Samarcand," pursued he, "lived happily at his
father's court. The court looked upon him as a prince who would one
day be their sovereign, and they studied to please him as much as the
king himself. He usually passed the day in hunting and playing at
ball, and at night he assembled secretly in his apartments the
distinguished youth of the court, with whom he drank all sorts of
liquors. He sometimes amused himself by seeing the beautiful slaves
dance, or by listening to music and singing. In a word, his life was
passed in a constant round of pleasure.

"One day a famous painter arrived at Samarcand with several portraits
of princesses which he had painted in the different courts through
which he had passed. He showed them to my prince, who, looking at the
first he presented, said, 'These are very beautiful pictures; I am
certain that the originals are under a deep obligation to you.'

"'My lord,' replied the artist, 'I confess that in these portraits I
have somewhat flattered the sitters; but I crave permission to tell
you that I have one far more beautiful than these, which does not
approach the original.' Saying this, he drew from the case which
contained his portraits that of the princess of China.

"Scarcely had my master looked at it, when not conceiving that nature
was capable of producing so perfect a beauty, he exclaimed that there
was not in the world a woman of such exquisite loveliness, and that
the portrait of the princess of China was more flattering than the
others. The artist protested that it was not, and assured him that no
pencil could convey an idea of the grace and beauty which shone in the
countenance of the princess Tourandocte. Upon this assurance my master
bought the portrait, which made so deep an impression on him, that,
leaving the court of his father, he quitted Samarcand, accompanied by
me alone, and without informing any one of his intentions, took the
road for China, and came to this city. He volunteered to serve
Altoun-Khan against his enemies, and asked the hand of his daughter
the princess. We were apprized of the severe edict connected with the
proposal, but alas! my prince, instead of being dismayed by the
severity of the conditions, conceived the liveliest joy. 'I will go,'
said he, 'and present myself to answer the questions of Tourandocte; I
am not deficient in talent or ready wit, and I shall obtain the hand
of the princess.'

"It is needless to tell you the rest, sir," continued the tutor,
sobbing; "you may judge by the mournful spectacle you have beheld that
the unfortunate prince of Samarcand was unable to answer, as he hoped,
the fatal questions of this barbarous beauty, whose delight is to shed
blood, and who has already been the means of sacrificing the lives of
several kings' sons. A few moments before his death he gave me the
portrait of this cruel princess. 'I entrust,' said he, 'this portrait
to thee; guard carefully the precious deposit. Thou hast but to show
it to my father when thou informest him of my sad fate, and I doubt
not that when he beholds so beautiful a face, he will pardon my
temerity.' But," added the old man, "let any one else who pleases
carry the sad news to the king his father; for my part, borne down by
the weight of my affliction, I will go far from hence and Samarcand,
and mourn for my beloved charge. This is what you wished to know; and
here is the dangerous portrait," pursued he, taking it from beneath
his cloak and throwing it on the ground in a paroxysm of rage; "behold
the cause of the sad fate of my prince. O execrable portrait! why had
my master not my eyes when he took thee into his hands? O inhuman
princess! may all the princes of the earth entertain for thee the same
sentiments as those with which thou hast inspired me! Instead of being
the object of their love, thou wouldest then be their aversion."
Saying this, the tutor of the prince of Samarcand retired full of
rage, regarding the palace with a furious eye and without speaking
another word to the son of Timurtasch. The latter quickly picked up
the portrait of Tourandocte, and turned to retrace his steps to the
house of the widow; but he missed his way in the darkness, and
wandered heedlessly out of the city. He impatiently awaited the
daylight to enable him to contemplate the beauty of the princess of
China. As soon as the approach of dawn furnished him with sufficient
light to satisfy his curiosity, he opened the case which contained the
portrait.

Still he hesitated before he looked at it. "What am I about to do?"
cried he; "ought I to disclose to my eyes so dangerous an object?
Think, Khalaf, think of the direful effects it has caused; hast thou
already forgotten what the tutor of the prince of Samarcand has just
narrated to thee? Look not on this portrait; resist the impulse which
urges thee, it is nothing more than a feeling of idle curiosity.
Whilst thou retainest thy reason thou canst prevent thy destruction.
But what do I say? prevent," added he, checking himself; "with what
false reasoning does my timid prudence inspire me. If I am to love the
princess, is not my love already written in indelible characters in
the book of fate. Besides, I think that it is possible to look upon
the most beautiful portrait with impunity; one must be weak, indeed,
to be influenced by the sight of a vain array of colours. Never fear;
let us scan these surpassing and murderous features without emotion. I
will even find defects, and taste the pleasure of criticizing the
charms of this too beautiful princess; and I could wish, in order to
mortify her vanity, that she might learn that I have looked upon her
portrait without emotion."

The son of Timurtasch had fully made up his mind to look upon the
portrait of Tourandocte with an indifferent eye. He now casts his eyes
on it, he regards it attentively, examines it, admires the contour of
the countenance, the regularity of the features, the vivacity of the
eyes,--the mouth, the nose, all appear perfect; he is surprised at so
rare a combination of perfect features, and although still on his
guard, he allows himself to be charmed. An inconceivable uneasiness
takes possession of him in spite of himself; he can no longer
understand his feelings. "What fire," said he, "has suddenly kindled
itself in my bosom! What tumult has this portrait produced in my
thoughts! Merciful Heaven, is it the lot of all those who look upon
this portrait to become enamoured of this inhuman princess? Alas! I
feel but too surely that she has made the same impression upon me, as
she did upon the unhappy prince of Samarcand; I yield to the charms
that wounded him, and far from being terrified by his melancholy fate,
I could almost envy his very misfortune. What a change, gracious
Heaven! I could not conceive a short time ago, how one could be mad
enough to despise the severity of the edict, and now I see nothing
that frightens me, all the danger has vanished.

"No! incomparable princess," pursued he, devouring the portrait with
an enamoured gaze, "no obstacle can stop me, I love you spite of your
barbarity; and since it is permitted to me to aspire to your
possession, from this day I will strive to win you; if I perish in the
bold attempt, I shall only feel in dying the grief of not being able
to possess you."

Khalaf, having formed the resolve of demanding the hand of the
princess, returned to the widow's house, a journey which cost him no
little trouble, for he had rambled to some considerable distance
during the night. "Ah! my son," exclaimed his hostess, as soon as she
beheld him, "I am so glad to see you, I was very uneasy about you, I
feared some accident had befallen you; why did you not return
earlier?"

"My good mother," replied he, "I am sorry to have caused you any
uneasiness, I missed my way in the darkness." He then related to her
how he had met the tutor of the prince whom they had put to death, and
did not fail to repeat to her all that he had told him. Then showing
her the portrait of Tourandocte; "Tell me," said he, "if this portrait
is only an imperfect likeness of the princess of China; for my part, I
cannot conceive that it is not equal to the original."

"By the soul of the prophet Jacmouny," cried the widow, after she had
examined the portrait, "the princess is a thousand times more
beautiful, and infinitely more charming than she is here represented.
I wish you could see her, you would be of my opinion, that all the
artists in the world who should undertake to paint her as she really
is, could never succeed. I will not even make an exception in favour
of the famous Many."

"You delight me above measure," replied the prince of the Nagäis, "by
assuring me that the beauty of Tourandocte surpasses all the efforts
of the artist's power. How flattering the assurance! It strengthens me
in my determination, and incites me to attempt at once the brilliant
adventure. Oh that I were before the princess! I burn with impatience
to try whether I shall be more fortunate than the prince of
Samarcand."

"What do you say, my son?" eagerly asked the widow, "what enterprise
are you so rashly planning? And do you seriously think of carrying it
into effect?"

"Yes, my good mother," returned Khalaf, "I intend this very day to
present myself to answer the questions of the princess. I came to
China only with the intention of offering my services to the great
king, Altoun-Khan, but it is better to be his son-in-law than an
officer in his army."

At these words the widow burst into tears. "Ah! sir, in the name of
Heaven do not persist in so rash a resolution; you will certainly
perish if you are bold enough to aspire to the hand of the princess;
instead of allowing her beauty to charm you, let it be the object of
your detestation, since it has been the cause of so many frightful
tragedies; picture to yourself what the grief of your parents will be
when they hear of your death; let the thoughts of the mortal grief
into which you will plunge them deter you."

"For pity's sake, my mother," interrupted the son of Timurtasch,
"cease to present to my mind such affecting images. I cannot be
ignorant, that if it be my destiny to die this day, my sad end will be
a source of bitter and inexhaustible grief to my beloved parents; nay,
I can conceive their misery being so excessive as to endanger their
own lives, for well do I know their extreme affection for me;
notwithstanding all this, however, notwithstanding the gratitude with
which their love ought to inspire, and indeed does inspire me, I must
yield to the passion that consumes me. But, what! Is it not in hopes
of making them more happy that I am about to expose my life? Yes,
doubtless, their interest is bound up with the desire that urges me
on, and I feel sure that if my father were here, far from opposing my
design, he would rather excite me to its speedy execution. My
resolution is taken; waste no more time in trying to dissuade me;
nothing shall shake my determination."

When the widow found that her young guest would not heed her advice,
her grief increased. "So it must be, then, sir," continued she; "you
will not be restrained from rushing headlong on your destruction. Why
was it ordained that you should come to lodge in my house? why did I
speak of Tourandocte? You became enamoured of her from the description
I gave of her; wretched woman that I am, it is I who have caused your
ruin; why must I reproach myself with your death?"

"No, my good mother," said the prince of the Nagäis, interrupting her
a second time, "you are not the cause of my misfortune; do not blame
yourself because I love the princess; I am to love her, and do but
fulfil my destiny. Besides, how do you know that I shall not be able
to reply to her questions? I am not without understanding, and I have
studied much; and Heaven may have reserved for me the honour of
delivering the king of China from the grief with which his frightful
oath overwhelms him. But," added he, drawing out the purse which the
khan of Berlas had given him, and which still contained a considerable
quantity of gold pieces, "as my success is after all uncertain, and I
may chance to die, I make you a present of this purse to console you
for my death. You may sell my horse and keep the money, for it will be
of no more use to me, whether the daughter of Altoun-Khan become the
reward of my boldness, or my death be the mournful forfeit of my
audacity."

The widow took the purse from Khalaf, saying, "O my son, you are much
mistaken if you imagine that these pieces of gold will console me for
your loss. I will employ them in good works, I will distribute a
portion among the poor in the hospitals, who bear their afflictions
with patience, and whose prayers are consequently acceptable to
Heaven; the remainder I will give to the ministers of our religion,
that they all may pray together that Heaven may inspire you, and not
suffer you to perish. All the favour I ask you is, not to go to-day
and present yourself to answer the questions of Tourandocte; wait till
to-morrow, the time is not long; grant me that interval to enlist the
hearts of the pious in your behalf, and propitiate our Prophet in your
favour, after that you can do as you think best. I pray you to grant
me that favour; I am bold to say that you owe it to one who has
conceived so great a friendship for you, that she would be
inconsolable if you were to die."

Indeed Khalaf's appearance had made a favourable impression upon her,
for, besides being one of the handsomest princes in the world, his
manners were so easy and pleasing that it was impossible to see him
without loving him. He was moved by the grief and affection the good
lady exhibited. "Well, my mother," said he, "I will do as you desire
me; and I will not go to-day to ask the hand of the princess; but, to
speak my sentiments frankly, I don't believe that even your prophet
Jacmouny will be able to make me forego my determination."

The following morning, the prince appeared more determined than ever
to demand Tourandocte. "Adieu, my good mother," said he, to the widow.
"I am sorry that you have given yourself so much trouble on my
account; you might have spared it, for I assured you yesterday that I
should be of the same mind." With these words, he left the widow, who,
giving herself up to the deepest sorrow, covered her face with her
veil, and sat with her head on her knees, overwhelmed with
indescribable grief.

The young prince of the Nagäis, perfumed with rare scents and more
beautiful than the moon, repaired to the palace. He found at the gate
five elephants, and, on each side, a line of two thousand soldiers,
with helmets on their heads, armed with shields, and covered with
plate armour. One of the principal officers in command of the troops,
judging from Khalaf's air that he was a stranger, stopped him, and
demanded his business at the palace.

"I am a foreign prince," replied the son of Timurtasch. "I am come to
present myself to the king, and pray him to grant me permission to
reply to the questions of the princess his daughter."

The officer, at these words, regarding him with astonishment, said to
him, "Prince, do you know that you come to seek death? You would have
done more wisely to have remained in your own country, than form the
design which brings you hither; retrace your steps, and do not flatter
yourself with the deceitful hope that you will obtain the hand of the
cruel Tourandocte. Although you may have studied until you have become
more learned in science than all the mandarins, you will never be able
to fathom the meaning of her ambiguous questions."

"Accept my heartfelt thanks," replied Khalaf; "but, believe me, I am
not come thus far to retreat."

"Go on to your certain death, then," returned the officer, in a tone
of chagrin, "since it is impossible to restrain you." At the same
moment, he allowed him to enter the palace, and then, turning towards
some other officers who had been listening to their conversation, he
said, "How handsome and well-grown this young prince is. It is a pity
he should die so early."

Khalaf traversed several saloons, and, at length, found himself in the
hall where the king was accustomed to give audience to his people. In
it was placed the steel throne of Cathay, made in the form of a
dragon, three cubits high; four lofty columns, of the same material,
supported above it a vast canopy of yellow satin, ornamented with
precious stones. Altoun-Khan, dressed in a caftan of gold brocade
upon a crimson ground, was seated on his throne, with an air of
gravity which was in admirable keeping with his long moustache and
ample beard. The monarch, after listening to some of his subjects,
cast his eyes by chance to where the prince of the Nagäis stood
amongst the crowd; he saw, at once, by his noble bearing and splendid
dress, that he was not a man of common birth; he pointed out Khalaf to
one of his mandarins, and gave an order, in an undertone, to learn his
rank, and the reason of his visit to his court.

The mandarin approached the son of Timurtasch, and told him that the
king desired to know who he was, and whether he wished to make any
request of the king. "You may tell the king, your master," replied the
prince, "that I am the only son of a king, and that I am come to
endeavour to merit the honour of becoming his son-in-law."

Altoun-Khan no sooner learned the reply of the prince of the Nagäis,
than he changed colour; his august countenance became pale as death,
he broke up the audience, and dismissed all the people; he then
descended from his throne, and, approaching Khalaf, "Rash young man,"
said he, "are you aware of the severity of my edict, and of the
miserable fate of those who have hitherto persisted in their desire to
obtain the hand of the princess my daughter?"

"Yes, my lord," replied the son of Timurtasch, "I know all the danger
I incur; my eyes have witnessed the just and severe punishment your
majesty inflicted upon the prince of Samarcand; but the deplorable end
of the audacious youths who have flattered themselves with the sweet,
though vain, hope of possessing the princess Tourandocte, only
stimulates the desire I have of deserving her."

"What madness!" rejoined the king; "scarcely has one prince lost his
life, than another presents himself to share the same fate; it appears
as though they took a pleasure in sacrificing themselves. What
blindness! Reconsider the step you are taking, and be less prodigal of
your blood; you inspire me with more pity than any who have hitherto
come to seek their destruction; I feel a growing inclination towards
you, and wish to do all in my power to hinder you from perishing.
Return to your father's kingdom, and do not inflict upon him the pain
of learning from strangers' lips the sad intelligence that he will
never more behold his only son."

"My lord," replied Khalaf, "I am overjoyed to hear, from your
majesty's own lips, that I have the honour of pleasing you; I draw a
happy presage from it. It may be that Heaven, touched by the
misfortunes caused by the beauty of the princess, will use me as a
means of putting an end to them, and securing you, at the same time,
tranquillity for the remainder of your life, which the necessity of
authorizing these cruel deeds disturbs. Can you be sure that I shall
not be able to answer the questions that may be put to me? What
certainty have you that I shall perish? If others have been unable to
fathom the depths of the obscure propositions of Tourandocte, is it to
be concluded that I cannot penetrate their meaning? No, my lord, their
example shall never make me renounce the brilliant honour of having
you for a father-in-law."

"Ah! unhappy prince," replied the king, melting into tears, "you wish
to die; all the princes who have presented themselves before you, to
answer the fatal questions put by my daughter, used the same language;
they all hoped that they could penetrate her meaning, and not one was
able to do so. Alas! you will be the dupe of your own confidence. Once
more, my son, let me dissuade you. I love you, and wish to save you;
do not frustrate my good intentions by your obstinacy; whatever
confidence you may feel, distrust it. You deceive yourself, if you
imagine that you will be able to answer upon the spot what the
princess may propose to you; you will, it is true, have seven minutes
to answer in; that is the rule. But if in that time you do not give a
satisfactory reply, and one that shall be approved of by all the
doctors and wise men who are appointed the judges, that moment you
will be declared worthy of death, and on the following night will be
conducted to execution. So, prince, retire; pass the rest of the day
in considering what is your duty in reference to the step you propose
to take; consult wise persons, reflect well, and to-morrow let me know
your determination." When the king had finished speaking, he dismissed
Khalaf, who immediately quitted the palace, much mortified that he was
obliged to wait till the next day, for he was no way daunted by what
the king had said. He returned to his hostess without exhibiting the
least concern about the danger to which he had determined to expose
himself. As soon as he presented himself to the widow, and had related
all that had passed at the palace, she began to remonstrate with him
afresh, and bring every argument she could think of into play to
dissuade him from his enterprise; but her efforts were crowned with no
better success, and she had the mortification of seeing that they only
inflamed her young guest more, and strengthened him in his resolution.
The next day the prince returned to the palace, and was announced to
the king, who received him in his cabinet, not wishing any one to be
present at their interview.

"Well, prince," began Altoun-Khan, "am I to rejoice or grieve at your
presence here to-day? What is your determination?"

"My lord," replied Khalaf, "I am in the same mind as yesterday. Before
I had the honour of presenting myself then before your majesty, I had
thoroughly reflected upon the matter; and I am still prepared to
suffer the same punishment as my rivals, if Heaven has not otherwise
ordained." At these words the king smote his breast, rent his
clothes, and plucked the hairs from his beard.

"Wretched man that I am!" cried he, "that I should have conceived such
friendship for him. The death of the others has not caused me half the
pain which his will occasion me. Ah! my son," continued he, embracing
the prince of the Nagäis with a tenderness that caused him deep
emotion, "yield to my grief, if my arguments are not able to shake
thee. I feel that the blow which takes thy life will strike my heart
with deadly force. Renounce, I conjure thee, the hope of possessing my
cruel daughter; thou wilt find in the world plenty of other princesses
whom thou mayst gain with more ease and as much honour. Why persevere
in the pursuit of an inhuman creature whom thou wilt never be able to
obtain? Remain, if thou wilt, in my court; thou shalt hold the first
rank after me; thou shalt have beautiful slaves; pleasures shall
follow thee wherever thou goest; in a word, I will look on thee as my
own son. Desist from thy pursuit of Tourandocte. Oh! let me at least
have the joy of rescuing one victim from the sanguinary princess."

The son of Timurtasch was deeply moved by the friendship which the
king of China exhibited towards him; but he replied, "My lord, let me
for pity's sake expose myself to the danger from which you seek to
deter me; the greater it is, the more do I feel myself tempted to
encounter it. I must avow that even the cruelty of the princess
stimulates my love. I feel an inward pleasure in the thought that I am
the happy mortal who is to triumph over this proud beauty. For
Heaven's sake, your majesty," pursued he, "cease to oppose a design
which my glory, my repose, my life even render it necessary for me to
prosecute; for, truly, I cannot live unless I obtain Tourandocte."

Altoun-Khan, perceiving that Khalaf was not to be moved, was
overwhelmed with affliction. "Ah! rash youth," said he, "thy
death-warrant is sealed, since thou art still determined to persist in
demanding my daughter. Heaven is witness that I have done all in my
power to inspire thee with rational thoughts. Thou rejectest my
counsel, and lovest rather to perish than follow it; let us say no
more; thou wilt receive the reward of thy mad constancy. I consent to
thy undertaking to answer the questions of Tourandocte, but I must
first pay thee the honour which I am accustomed to bestow upon princes
who seek my alliance."

At these words he called the chief of his first band of eunuchs; he
ordered him to conduct Khalaf into the princes' palace, and to assign
him two hundred eunuchs to wait upon him.

The prince of the Nagäis had scarcely entered the palace to which the
eunuch conducted him, before the principal mandarins came to salute
him, which they did in the following manner: they placed themselves on
their knees before him, bowed their heads to the ground, saying one
after the other, "Prince, the perpetual servant of your illustrious
race comes to make his obeisance to you." They then all made him
presents and retired.

The king, who felt the greatest friendship for the son of Timurtasch,
and pitied him, sent for the most learned professor of the royal
college, and said to him, "There is a new prince, who has come to my
court to demand the hand of my daughter. I have spared no pains to
induce him to renounce his intention, but without success. I wish thee
to exert thine eloquence in endeavouring to make him listen to reason.
It is for this I have sent for thee." The professor obeyed. He went to
Khalaf and entered into a long conversation with him; after which he
returned to Altoun-Khan, and said, "My lord, it is impossible to
dissuade this young prince; he will absolutely deserve the princess or
die. When I saw the futility of attempting to conquer his resolution,
I had the curiosity to try and ascertain whether his obstinacy did
not proceed from some other cause than his love. I interrogated him
upon several different subjects, and I found him so well informed that
I was surprised at his learning. He is a Moslem, and appears to me
perfectly instructed in all that concerns his religion; in fact, to
confess the truth to your majesty, I believe if any prince is capable
of replying to the questions of the princess it is he."

"O wise man," cried the king, "I am overjoyed at thy report. Heaven
grant that he may become my son-in-law. From the moment he appeared
before me I felt an affection for him; may he be more fortunate than
the others who came to this city only to seek a grave."

After prayers and sacrifices, the Chinese monarch sent his calao to
the prince of the Nagäis with notice that he was to hold himself in
readiness to reply to the princess's questions on the next day, and to
tell him that the proper officers would come at the right time to
conduct him to the divan; and that the persons who were to compose the
assembly had already received orders to attend.

Notwithstanding his inflexible determination to persevere in this
adventure, Khalaf did not pass a quiet night; if at one time he dared
to trust to his genius, and promise himself success, at another,
losing confidence, he represented to himself the shame he should
endure if his replies did not please the divan; at another time he
thought of Elmaze and Timurtasch. "Alas!" said he, "if I die, what
will become of my father and mother?"

Day surprised him occupied with these conflicting thoughts. Presently
he heard the ringing of bells and beating of drums. He concluded that
this was to call to the council all those who were ordered to attend.
Then raising his thoughts to Mahomet, "O great prophet," said he, "you
behold my difficulties and know my doubts. Inspire me, and reveal to
me whether I must go to the divan, or must confess to the king that
the danger terrifies me!" He had scarcely pronounced these words,
before he felt all his fears vanish and his confidence return. He rose
and dressed himself in a caftan, and mantle of red silk worked with
gold flowers, which Altoun-Khan had sent him, with stockings and
slippers of blue silk.

When he had finished dressing, six mandarins, booted and dressed in
very wide robes of crimson, entered his apartment, and after having
saluted him in the same manner as on the previous day, informed him
that they came from the king to lead him to the divan. He immediately
rose and accompanied them; they traversed a court between a double
file of soldiers, and when they arrived in the first council-chamber
found more than a thousand singers and players upon instruments, who
performing in concert produced a wonderful noise. From thence they
advanced into the hall, where the council was sitting, and which
communicated with the interior palace.

All the persons who were to assist at this assembly were already
seated under canopies of different colours arranged round the hall.
The mandarins of the highest rank were on one side, the calao with the
professors of the college on the other, and several doctors, renowned
for their erudition, occupied other seats. In the middle were placed
two thrones of gold raised upon triangular pedestals.

As soon as the prince of the Nagäis appeared, the noble and learned
assembly saluted him with gestures of great respect, but without
speaking a word; for every body, being in expectation of the king's
arrival, preserved the strictest silence.

The sun was upon the point of rising. As soon as the first rays of
that brilliant luminary were perceived, two eunuchs drew aside the
curtains which hung before the door of the inner palace, and
immediately the king appeared, accompanied by the princess
Tourandocte, who wore a long robe of silk and gold tissue, whilst her
face was concealed by a veil of the same material. When the king and
princess had taken their seats upon their thrones, which they ascended
by five steps of silver, two young girls of perfect beauty approached
and stationed themselves, one on the side of the king and the other
near the princess. They were slaves of the harem of Altoun-Khan; their
faces and necks were exposed; they wore large pearls in their ears;
and they stood each with pen and paper, ready to transcribe what the
king or the princess might desire. All this time the whole assembly,
who had risen upon the entrance of Altoun-Khan, stood up with great
gravity and their eyes half closed. Khalaf alone looked about him, or
rather looked only at the princess, whose majestic demeanour filled
him with admiration.

When the powerful monarch of China had ordered the mandarins and
doctors to be seated, one of the six nobles who had conducted Khalaf,
and who stood with him at fifteen cubits' distance from the two
thrones, kneeled down and read a petition, which contained the demand
of the stranger prince for the hand of the princess Tourandocte. He
then rose and told Khalaf to make three salutations to the king. The
prince of the Nagäis acquitted himself with so much grace, that
Altoun-Khan could not refrain from smiling and expressing the pleasure
he experienced in seeing him.

The calao then rose from his place and read with a loud voice the
fatal edict, which condemned to death all the rash lovers who should
fail to reply satisfactorily to the questions of Tourandocte. Then
addressing Khalaf, "Prince," said he, "you have just heard the
conditions upon which alone the princess's hand is to be obtained. If
the sense of danger makes any impression upon you, there is still time
to retire."

"No, no!" said the prince; "the prize to be carried off is too
precious to be lost by cowardice."

The king, seeing Khalaf ready to reply to the questions of
Tourandocte, turned towards the princess and said, "My daughter, it
is for you to speak; propose to this young prince the questions which
you have prepared; and may all the spirits to whom sacrifices were
offered yesterday grant that he may penetrate the meaning of your
words."

Tourandocte thereupon said, "I take the prophet Jacmouny to witness,
that I behold with sorrow the death of so many princes; but why do
they persist in desiring to wed me? why will they not leave me to live
in peace without making attempts on my liberty? Know then, rash young
man," added she, addressing Khalaf, "that you cannot reproach me if
you suffer a cruel death; you have the examples of your rivals before
your eyes; you alone are the cause of your own destruction; I do not
oblige you to come and ask my hand."

"Lovely princess," replied the prince of the Nagäis, "I am fully alive
to all that has been said upon this subject; propound, if you please,
your questions, and I will endeavour to unravel their meaning."

"Well then," said Tourandocte, "tell me what creature is that which
belongs to every land, is a friend to the whole world, and will not
brook an equal?"

"Madam," replied Khalaf, "it is the sun."

"He is right," exclaimed all the doctors, "it is the sun."

"What is that mother," resumed the princess, "who, after having
brought her children into the world, devours them when they are grown
up?"

"It is the sea," replied the prince of the Nagäis; "because the
rivers, which draw their sources from the sea, discharge themselves
into it again."

Tourandocte, seeing that the prince gave correct replies to her
questions, was so vexed that she resolved to spare no effort to
destroy him. Exerting all her ingenuity, she next asked, "What tree is
that whose leaves are white on one side and black on the other?" She
was not satisfied with proposing the riddle alone; the malignant
princess, in order to dazzle and confuse him, raised her veil at the
same moment, and allowed the assembly to see all the beauty of her
countenance, the haughty charms of which were only enhanced by the
violence of her emotions. Her head was adorned with natural flowers
arranged with infinite art, and her eyes shone more brilliantly than
the stars. She was as lovely as the sun in all his splendour, when he
emerges from a thick cloud. The son of Timurtasch, at the sight of
this incomparable princess, remained mute and motionless; so much so,
that all the divan, who were deeply interested in him, were seized
with terror; the king himself grew pale, and thought that the prince
was lost for ever.

But Khalaf, recovering from the surprise that the beauty of
Tourandocte had caused him, quickly reassured the assembly by
resuming, "Charming princess, I pray you pardon me if I remained for
some moments speechless; I could not behold so much loveliness without
being disturbed. Have the goodness to repeat the question, for I no
longer remember it; your charms have made me forget every thing."

"I asked you," said Tourandocte, "what tree is that whose leaves are
white on one side and black on the other?"

"That tree," replied Khalaf, "is the year, which is composed of days
and nights."

This reply was again applauded in the divan. The mandarins and the
doctors said that it was correct, and bestowed a thousand praises on
the young prince. Altoun-Khan said to Tourandocte, "Come, my daughter,
confess thyself vanquished, and consent to espouse thy conqueror; the
others were not able to reply to even one of thy questions, and this
one, thou seest, has answered them all."

"He has _not_ gained the victory," angrily retorted the princess,
replacing her veil to conceal her confusion and the tears she was not
able to repress; "I have others to propose to him. But I will defer
them till to-morrow."

"No," replied the king, "I will certainly not permit you to propose
questions without end: all that I can allow you is to ask him one
more, and that immediately."

The princess objected, saying that she had only prepared those which
had just been answered, and entreated the king, her father, for
permission to interrogate the prince on the following day.

"I will certainly not grant it," cried the monarch of China, in a
rage; "you are only endeavouring to perplex this young prince, while I
am eagerly grasping at the prospect of escaping from the frightful
oath I had the imprudence to make. Ah! cruel one, you breathe nothing
but blood, and the death of your lovers is a pleasant sight to you.
The queen, your mother, touched by the first misfortunes your cruelty
caused, died of grief at having brought into the world so barbarous a
child; and I, you know well, am plunged into a state of profound
melancholy, which nothing can dissipate, whilst I behold the fatal
results of the love I entertained for you; but, thanks to the sun, and
the moon, and the spirits who preside in the heavens, and by whom my
sacrifices have been regarded with a propitious eye, no more of those
horrible executions which have rendered my name execrable shall be
committed in my palace. Since this prince has answered your questions
satisfactorily, I ask all this assembly if it is not right that you
should become his wife?"

The mandarins and the doctors expressed their assent in murmurs, and
the calao took upon himself to speak. "My lord," said he, addressing
the king, "your majesty is no longer bound by the oath you made, to
execute your severe edict; it is for the princess to fulfil her
engagement. She promised her hand to him who should answer her
questions correctly; a prince has answered them, to the satisfaction
of the whole divan; she must keep her promise, or we cannot doubt that
the spirits who preside over the punishment of perjurers will quickly
take vengeance upon her."

Tourandocte kept silence during the delivery of this speech; she sat
with her head on her knees, and appeared buried in deep affliction.
Khalaf, perceiving this, prostrated himself before Altoun-Khan, and
said, "Great king, whose justice and goodness have raised the vast
empire of China to such prosperity, I beg of your majesty to grant me
a favour. I see that the princess is in despair at my having been so
fortunate as to reply to her questions; doubtless she would rather it
had so happened that I should have deserved death. Since she exhibits
so strong an aversion to me, that, in spite of her promise, she
refuses to become my wife, I will renounce my right to her, on
condition that she, on her part, replies correctly to a question which
I shall propose."

The whole assembly was surprised at this speech. "Is this young prince
mad," they whispered one to another, "to risk the loss of that for
which he perilled his life? Does he imagine he can propose a question
that will be too difficult for Tourandocte to solve? He must have lost
his senses." Altoun-Khan was also amazed at the request which Khalaf
had the temerity to make. "Prince," said he, "have you reflected upon
the words which have just escaped your lips?"

"Yes, my lord," replied the prince of the Nagäis, "and I implore you
to grant me this favour."

"I grant it," returned the king; "but, whatever be the result, I
declare that I am no longer bound by the oath I made, and that,
henceforth, I will not cause another prince to be put to death."

"Divine Tourandocte," resumed the son of Timurtasch, addressing the
princess, "you have heard what I said. Although the decision of this
learned assembly has awarded to me the prize of your hand, although
you are mine, I will give you back your liberty, I will yield up
possession of you, I will despoil myself of a treasure precious to me
above all things, provided you reply at once to a question I shall
ask; but, on your part, swear that if you cannot, you will consent
willingly to complete my happiness and crown my love."

"Yes, prince," replied Tourandocte, "I accept the conditions, and I
take this assembly as witnesses of my oath."

All the divan awaited, in breathless suspense, the question that
Khalaf was to propose to the princess, and there was not one who did
not blame the young prince for exposing himself to the risk of losing
the daughter of Altoun-Khan; they were all amazed at his temerity.
"Lovely princess," said Khalaf, "what is the name of that prince who,
after suffering a thousand hardships, and being reduced even to beg
his bread, finds himself, at this moment, overwhelmed with glory and
joy?"

"It is impossible," said Tourandocte, "for me to reply to that
question on the spot, but I promise that to-morrow I will tell you the
name of that prince."

"Madam," cried Khalaf, "I asked no time for consideration, and it is
not right to grant you any; still, I will grant you your wish; I hope,
after that, you will look more favourably on me, and not oppose any
further difficulty to your becoming my bride."

"She must make up her mind to that," said Altoun-Khan, "if she cannot
reply to the question proposed. Let her not think by falling ill, or
pretending to do so, that she will thereby escape. Even if my rash
oath should not bind me to grant him her hand, and she were not his
according to the tenor of the edict, I would rather let her die, than
send this young prince away. Where would it be possible for her to
meet with one more perfectly worthy of her?" With these words, he rose
and dismissed the assembly. He re-entered the inner palace with the
princess, who retired to her own apartments.

As soon as the king had left the divan, all the mandarins and doctors
complimented Khalaf upon his wit and understanding. "I admire," said
one, "your ready and easy conception." "No!" said another, "there is
not a bachelor licentiate, or doctor even, of greater penetration than
you. Not one of all the princes who has presented themselves hitherto,
in the least degree approached your merit, and we feel the most
heartfelt joy at your success." The prince of the Nagäis had no light
task to perform in thanking all those who pressed round him to
congratulate him. At length, the six mandarins who had conducted him
to the council-chamber, led him back to the same palace whence they
had brought him, whilst the others, together with the learned doctors
retired, not without anxiety about the answer which the daughter of
Altoun-Khan would return to the question.

The princess Tourandocte regained her palace, followed by the two
young slaves who enjoyed her confidence. No sooner had she entered
into her apartment, than she tore off her veil, and throwing herself
upon a couch, gave free vent to the grief and rage which agitated her;
shame and sorrow were depicted on her countenance; her eyes already
bedimmed with tears, overflowed afresh; she tore off the flowers that
adorned her head, and allowed her hair to fall about her in confusion.
Her two favourite slaves attempted to console her, but she only said
bitterly, "Leave me, both of you, cease your useless attentions. I
will listen to nothing but my despair; leave me alone to pour forth my
tears and lamentations. Ah! how great will be my confusion to-morrow,
when I shall be forced to acknowledge before the whole council, and
the wisest doctors of China, that I cannot solve the question. Is
that, they will say, the transcendent princess who prides herself
upon knowing every thing, and to whom the solution of the most
difficult enigma presented no difficulty?"

"Alas!" continued she, "they all take an interest in this young
prince. I noticed them grow pale with anxiety when he appeared
embarrassed. I saw their faces beaming with joy when he penetrated the
meaning of my questions. I shall have the bitter mortification of
seeing them again rejoice at my confusion, when I shall have to
confess myself conquered. How great will be their delight when I make
the degrading avowal, and what agony must I endure in making it."

"My princess," said one of her slaves, "instead of afflicting yourself
beforehand, instead of picturing to yourself the shame you fear to
suffer to-morrow, would it not be better to think of some means of
preventing it? Is the question the prince has proposed so difficult,
that you cannot answer it? with the genius and penetration you
possess, can you not accomplish it?"

"No," said Tourandocte, "it is impossible. He asks me to name the
prince who, after suffering a thousand hardships, and being reduced to
beg his bread, is, at this moment, overwhelmed with joy and glory? I
feel assured that he is himself that prince, but not knowing him, I
cannot tell his name."

"Still, madam," rejoined the same slave, "you have promised to name
that prince to-morrow; when you made that promise, you hoped,
doubtless, to be able to fulfil it."

"I had no hope," replied the princess, "and I only demanded time to
die of grief, rather than be obliged to acknowledge my shame, and
marry the prince."

"The resolution is a violent one," said the other favourite slave. "I
know well that no man is worthy of you, but you must allow that this
prince possesses singular merits; his beauty, his noble bearing, and
his ready wit ought to plead in his favour."

"I grant it all," interrupted the princess. "If there is any prince
in the world who is worthy of my regards, it is he. Indeed, I will not
deny it, that I grieved for him, before I put my questions to him; I
sighed when I beheld him, and--what has never happened till to-day--I
almost hoped he would reply to my questions correctly. It is true
that, at the same moment, I blushed at my weakness, but my pride got
the better of me, and the apt answers he made excited my abhorrence
towards him; all the commendations which the doctors bestowed on him
so deeply mortified me, that I then felt, and still feel, the most
bitter hatred against him. O unhappy Tourandocte, lay thee down and
die of vexation and grief, at having found a man, and he a youth, who
has been able to load thee with disgrace, and compel thee to become
his wife."

At these words she redoubled her tears, and in the transport of her
rage spared neither her hair nor her clothes. She raised her hands
more than once towards her cheeks to tear them, and punish them as the
prime authors of the disgrace she had endured; but her slaves, who
were watching her frenzy, prevented her. They tried, however, in vain
to console her; they could not calm the fury of her agitation. Whilst
she was in this fearful state of excitement, the prince of the Nagäis,
charmed with the result, and overwhelmed with joy, delivered himself
up to the hope of bearing off his bride the next day.

The king, having returned from the council-chamber, sent for Khalaf to
talk over in private the events which had taken place at the divan.
The prince of the Nagäis hastened to obey the orders of the monarch,
who, after embracing him with great tenderness, said, "Ah! my son,
release me from the anxiety I am suffering. I fear lest my daughter
should be able to answer the question you have proposed. Why have you
risked the danger of losing the object of your love?"

"Let not your majesty be under the least apprehension," replied
Khalaf; "it is impossible that the princess can tell me who the prince
is whose name I have asked, for I am that prince, and no one in your
court knows me."

"This gives me fresh hope," cried the king in a transport of joy; "I
confess I was most anxious about you. Tourandocte is very shrewd; the
subtlety of her wit made me tremble for you; but, thank Heaven, you
dispel my doubts. However great her facility of penetrating the sense
of enigmas, she cannot guess your name. I can no longer accuse you of
temerity; and I see what appeared to me a lack of prudence, is an
ingenious device you have formed to remove every pretext for my
daughter's refusal."

Altoun-Khan, after laughing with Khalaf at the question proposed to
the princess, prepared to enjoy the diversion of the chase. He dressed
himself in a light and close-fitting caftan, and enclosed his beard in
a bag of black satin. He ordered the mandarins to hold themselves in
readiness to accompany him, and commanded a hunting-dress to be given
to the prince of the Nagäis. They partook of a slight repast, and then
quitted the palace. The mandarins, in open palanquins of ivory inlaid
with gold, headed the procession, each carried by six men; two men
armed with whips of cord marched before each palanquin, and two others
followed with tablets of silver, upon which were written in large
characters all the mandarin's titles. The king and Khalaf, in an open
litter of red sandalwood, carried by twenty military officers, on
whose dresses were embroidered in silver the monarch's monogram
and badges,--the latter consisting of several figures of
animals,--appeared next. After the mandarins, two generals of
Altoun-Khan's army marched on either side of the litter, carrying
large fans or umbrellas to ward off the heat, and three thousand
eunuchs on foot completed the cortége.

When they arrived at the place where the hunters awaited the king with
the falcons, the sport began by flying hawks at quails; this
diversion lasted till sunset, when the king and the prince, and the
persons of their suites, returned to the palace in the same order in
which they had left. They found in the court several pavilions of silk
of different colours, a great number of small tables, beautifully
polished and covered with all sorts of viands ready cut up. As soon as
the king had taken his seat, Khalaf and the mandarins sat down, each
at a little separate table, near which stood another, which served as
a buffet. They all began by drinking several bumpers of rice wine
before touching the viands; they then proceeded to eat without
drinking any more. The banquet ended, the king, Altoun-Khan, led the
prince of the Nagäis into a large hall, brilliantly illuminated, and
fitted up with seats arranged for seeing some spectacle, and they were
followed by all the mandarins. The king appointed each his place, and
made Khalaf sit near him, upon a large ebony throne, inlaid with gold
tracery.

As soon as the company had taken their places, singers and musicians
entered, who commenced an agreeable concert. Altoun-Khan was delighted
with it. Infatuated with the Chinese music, he asked the son of
Timurtasch, from time to time, what he thought of it, and the young
prince, out of politeness, gave it the highest rank of all the music
in the world. The concert finished, the singers and musicians retired,
to make room for an artificial elephant, which having advanced by
secret springs into the middle of the hall, vomited forth six
vaulters, who began by making some perilous leaps. They were attired
in very thin dresses; they had on only drawers of Indian cloth, caps
of brocade, and light shoes. After they had exhibited their agility
and suppleness by a thousand extraordinary performances, they
re-entered the elephant, which went away as it came. Next, there
appeared players, who performed, impromptu, a piece, the subject of
which the king chose. When all these diversions were finished, and
the night was far advanced, Altoun-Khan and Khalaf rose, to retire to
their apartments, and the mandarins followed their example.

The young prince of the Nagäis, conducted by eunuchs bearing wax
candles in gold candelabra, was preparing to taste the sweets of
repose as well as his impatience to return to the divan would permit
him, when on entering his chamber, he found a young lady, dressed in a
robe of red brocade with silver flowers, and adorned with rubies and
emeralds; she wore a head-dress of rose-coloured silk, ornamented with
pearls and bound by a very light silver border, which only covered the
top of her head, and allowed her beautiful hair to escape, which hung
down in ringlets, adorned with a few artificial flowers; as to her
figure and face it was impossible to see any more beautiful and
perfect except that of the princess of China.

The son of Timurtasch was much surprised at meeting a lady alone, and
so beautiful, at midnight in his room. He could not have looked upon
her with indifference, had he not seen Tourandocte; but as the lover
of that princess he had no eyes for any other.

As soon as the lady perceived Khalaf, she rose from the sofa where she
was seated, and upon which she had laid her veil, and after making a
low inclination of her head, "Prince," said she, "I doubt not that you
are surprised to find a woman here; for you cannot be ignorant that it
is rigorously forbidden for men and women who inhabit the harem, to
have any communication together; but the importance of the matter that
I have to communicate to you, has made me disregard all danger. I have
had dexterity and good fortune enough to overcome all the obstacles
which opposed my design. I have gained the eunuchs who wait upon you.
It now only remains for me to tell you what brought me here."

Khalaf felt interested; he could not doubt but that the lady who had
taken so perilous a step, had something to communicate worthy his
attention; he begged her to resume her seat on the sofa; they both sat
down; and the lady then continued in these terms:

"My lord, I believe I ought to begin by informing you that I am the
daughter of a khan, one of the tributaries of Altoun-Khan. Some years
ago, my father was bold enough to refuse to pay the usual tribute,
and, relying too much upon his experience in the art of war, as well
as upon the valour of his troops, prepared to defend himself in case
he were attacked. What he expected happened. The king of China
irritated by his audacity, sent the most experienced of his generals
with a powerful army against him. My father, though considerably
weaker in numbers, went out to meet him. After a sanguinary battle,
which was fought on the banks of a river, the Chinese general remained
victorious. My father, pierced with a thousand wounds, died during the
battle, but before his death, he ordered all his wives and children to
be thrown into the river, to preserve them from slavery. Those who
were charged with the generous, though inhuman order, executed it;
they threw me, together with my mother, sisters, and two brothers,
whose tender age had kept them with us, into the river. The Chinese
general arrived at the spot at the very moment when they had cast us
in, and when we were about to finish our miserable existence. This
mournful and horrible sight excited his compassion; he promised a
reward to any of the soldiers who should save any of the vanquished
khan's family. Several Chinese horsemen, in spite of the rapidity of
the stream, dashed in, and urged their horses wherever they saw our
dying bodies floating. They recovered a few, but their assistance was
only of use to me. I still breathed when they brought me to shore. The
general took great pains for my recovery, as though the glory acquired
by my captivity would bestow a fresh lustre on his victory; he brought
me to this city, and presented me to the king, after giving an
account of his mission. Altoun-Khan placed me with his daughter the
princess, who is two or three years younger than I am.

"Although still a child, I could not help reflecting that I had become
a slave, and that I ought to have sentiments conformable to my
situation. I therefore studied the disposition of Tourandocte, and
strove to please her, and I succeeded so well by my compliance with
her wishes and my attentions, that I gained her friendship. From that
time I have shared her confidence with a young person of illustrious
birth, whom the misfortunes of her family have reduced to slavery.

"Pardon, my lord," she continued, "this narrative which does not bear
any relation to the subject that has brought me here. I thought it but
right to apprize you that I am of noble blood, that you might place
more reliance in me; for the important communication I have to make is
such, that an ordinary slave might induce you to give but little
credence to what she had to say; and I know not, that even I, though
the daughter of a khan, shall be able to influence you: would a prince
enamoured of Tourandocte give credit to what I am about to say of
her?"

"Princess," replied the son of Timurtasch, interrupting her, "keep me
no longer in suspense, tell me, I pray you, at once what you have to
say concerning the princess of China."

"My lord," replied the lady, "Tourandocte, the barbarous Tourandocte
has formed a plot to assassinate you!"

At these words Khalaf, falling back on the sofa, lay for a moment in a
state of horror and amazement.

The slave-princess, who had foreseen the astonishment of the young
prince, said,

"I am not surprised that you should thus receive this frightful
announcement, and I was right when I doubted that you would believe
it."

"Merciful Heaven," cried Khalaf, when he recovered from his
stupefaction, "did I hear aright? Is it possible that the princess of
China could be guilty of such an atrocious attempt? How could she
conceive so base a project?"

"Prince," replied the lady, "I will explain to you how she came to
take this horrible resolution. When she left the divan this morning,
where I had been stationed behind her throne, I saw that she was
mortally enraged at what had taken place; she returned into her
apartments writhing under the most bitter feelings of mortification
and fury; she pondered over the question you asked her for a long
time, and not being able to find a suitable answer, she abandoned
herself to despair. While she was in the bath, I spared no means, in
which I was seconded by the other favourite slave, to calm the
violence of her transports; we tried all in our power to inspire her
with sentiments favourable to you; we extolled your person and your
talents; we represented to her, that she ought to determine to bestow
her hand upon you; we pointed out the unseemliness of such immoderate
grief; but she imposed silence upon us, with a torrent of injurious
words. The most agreeable and handsome make no more impression upon
her than the ugliest and most deformed. 'They are all,' said she,
'objects of my contempt, and for whom I shall always entertain the
deepest aversion. As regards him who has presented himself last, I
entertain a greater hatred towards him than towards the others, and if
I cannot rid myself of him by any other means I will have him
assassinated.'

"I opposed this detestable design," continued the slave-princess, "and
laid before her the terrible consequences of such a deed. I
represented to her the injury she would inflict upon herself, the
despair she would occasion the king, and the just horror that future
ages would entertain for her memory.

"The other favourite slave supported with all her eloquence the
arguments I adduced, but all our persuasions were of no avail; we
could not turn her from her purpose. She has entrusted her faithful
eunuchs with orders to take your life to-morrow morning as you leave
your palace to repair to the divan."

"O inhuman princess, perfidious Tourandocte," cried the prince of the
Nagäis, "is it thus you prepare to crown the affection of the unhappy
son of Timurtasch? Has Khalaf indeed appeared so hateful to you, that
you would rather rid yourself of him by a crime that will dishonour
you, than unite your destiny with his? Great Heaven! how chequered
with strange events is my life! At one moment I seem to enjoy
happiness that the greatest might envy, at another I am plunged into a
whirlpool of misery."

"My lord," said the slave-princess, "if Heaven ordains that you should
suffer misfortunes, it does not will that you should sink beneath
their weight, since it warns you of the dangers that threaten you.
Yes, prince, it is Heaven that has doubtless inspired me with the
thought of saving you, for I come not only to point out the snare laid
for your life, I come also to furnish you with means to escape. By the
assistance of some eunuchs who are devoted to me, I have gained over
the soldiers of the guard, who will facilitate your flight from the
serail. As they will not fail to make a searching investigation, when
they know of your departure, and discover that I am the author of it,
I am resolved to fly with you, and escape from this court, where I
have more than one cause for discontent; my state of bondage makes me
hate it, and you make it still more odious to me.

"Let us waste no time; come, and let to-morrow's sun, when he begins
his course, find us far, far from Pekin.

"In a certain spot in the town," continued she, "horses await us; let
us fly, and reach if possible the territory of the tribe of Berlas."

Khalaf replied, "Beautiful princess, I render you a thousand thanks
for your wish to save me from the danger with which I am encompassed.
Oh! that I could, to prove my gratitude, deliver you from your
slavery, and conduct you in safety to the horde of the khan of Berlas
your relation. With what pleasure would I place you in his hands! I
should thereby repay some of the obligations I lie under to him. But I
ask you, princess, ought I thus to steal away from Altoun-Khan? What
would he think of me? He would believe that I came to his court for
the sole purpose of carrying you off, and at the very time when I
should be flying, only that I might save his daughter from
perpetrating a fearful crime, he would be accusing me of violating the
laws of hospitality. Ah! must I confess it, cruel though the princess
of China be, I could never find in my foolish heart to hate her?
Whatever misfortune may be in store for me, I cannot consent to so
ignominious a flight. I acknowledge that charms like yours would amply
repay your liberator, and that my days with you might pass in the
greatest bliss, but I am not born to be happy, my destiny is to love
Tourandocte; despite the aversion she feels towards me, I should wear
out my days in endless sorrow, were they spent away from her."

"Well then, ingrate, remain," cried the lady passionately,
interrupting him, "and let the spot in which thy happiness is
concentrated be sprinkled with thy blood." Saying these words, she
replaced her veil, and quitted the apartment.

The young prince, after the lady had retired, remained upon the
sofa in a state of bewilderment. "Must I believe," said he, "what I
have just heard? Can she carry her cruelty thus far? Alas! I dare
not doubt it, for the slave-princess's expressions of horror at
Tourandocte's plot were so natural--the risks she ran in coming
herself to warn me of it so great, and the feelings she displayed
so unquestionable,--that all are pledges of the truthfulness of her
words. Ah! cruel daughter of the best of kings, is it thus that you
abuse the gifts with which Heaven has endowed you? O Heaven! how
couldst thou confer on this barbarous princess so much beauty, or
why adorn so inhuman a soul with so many charms?"

Instead of seeking a few hours' sleep, he passed the night, distracted
with the most painful reflections. At length day appeared, the ringing
of the bells and beating of drums was again heard, and shortly after
six mandarins arrived to conduct him to the council-chamber, as on the
preceding day. He traversed the court where the soldiers were arranged
in two files: he expected to meet his death at this spot, and that it
was here the persons who had been appointed to assassinate him were
posted, in order to despatch him as he passed. Far from thinking of
defending himself or putting himself upon his guard, he walked on like
a man prepared to die; he even appeared to chide the delay of his
assassins. He passed through the court, however, without any attack
being made upon him, and reached the first hall of the divan. "Ah!
doubtless it is here," thought he, "that the sanguinary order of the
princess is to be put in execution." He looked around him on all
sides, and thought he saw in every one he surveyed a murderer. He
nevertheless advanced and entered the hall where the council was
sitting, without receiving the deadly stroke which he thought awaited
him.

All the doctors and mandarins were already seated under their
canopies, and Altoun-Khan was momentarily expected. "What can be the
design of the princess?" thought he. "Can she wish to be an
eye-witness of my death, and does she desire to have me assassinated
before the eyes of her father? Can the king be an accomplice in the
deed? What am I to think? Can he have changed his mind, and issued the
order for my death?"

Whilst his thoughts were occupied with these doubts, the door of the
inner palace opened, and the king, accompanied by Tourandocte, entered
the hall. They took their seats upon their thrones, and the prince of
the Nagäis stood before them, at the same distance as on the day
before.

When the calao saw the king seated, he rose, and demanded of the young
prince whether he remembered having promised to renounce the hand of
the princess if she answered the question which he had proposed.
Khalaf replied that he did, and again declared that in that event, he
would renounce all claim to the honour of being the king's son-in-law.
The calao then addressed Tourandocte, and said, "And you, great
princess, you are aware of the oath that binds you, and of the penalty
to which you are subjected if you do not this day declare the name of
the prince, which you are required to give."

The king, persuaded that she could not reply to the question of
Khalaf, said to her, "My daughter, you have had ample time to consider
the question which was proposed to you; but if you had a whole year to
think of it, I believe that in spite of your sagacity you would be
obliged, at the end of it, to acknowledge that it is something which
even you could not reveal. So, as you cannot guess, yield with good
grace to the love of this young prince, and satisfy the wish I feel
that he should be your husband. He is worthy of being so, and of
reigning with you, after my death, over the people of this mighty
empire."

"My lord," replied Tourandocte, "why do you think that I shall not be
able to reply to the question of this prince? It is not so difficult
as you imagine. I suffered the shame of a defeat yesterday, but to-day
I look forward to the honour of a victory. I will confound this rash
young man who has entertained so mean an opinion of my talents. Let
him put the question, and I will answer it."

"Madam," thereupon said the prince of the Nagäis, "I ask, what is the
name of that prince who, after suffering a thousand hardships, and
being reduced to beg his bread, finds himself at this moment covered
with glory, and overwhelmed with joy?"

"This prince," replied Tourandocte, "is named Khalaf, and he is the
son of Timurtasch."

When Khalaf heard his name he changed colour, a dark mist seemed to
cover his eyes, and he fell senseless to the ground. The king and all
the mandarins, judging from this that Tourandocte had answered
correctly, and had given the prince's real name, grew pale, and sat in
great consternation.

After Khalaf had recovered from his swoon, through the attentions of
the mandarins and the king himself, who had quitted his throne to come
to his assistance, he thus addressed Tourandocte:

"Beautiful princess, you are mistaken if you think you have given a
fitting answer to my question; the son of Timurtasch is not covered
with glory, and overwhelmed with joy; he is rather covered with shame,
and overwhelmed with grief."

"I agree with you," replied the princess, "that at this moment you are
not overwhelmed with glory and joy, but you were so when you proposed
this question; so, prince, instead of having recourse to vain
quibbles, confess honestly that you have lost your right to
Tourandocte. I therefore can, if I choose, refuse you my hand, and
abandon you to the regret of having lost your prize; nevertheless, I
will acknowledge to you, and declare here publicly, that I entertain
different feelings towards you to what I did. The friendship my father
has conceived for you, and your own merit, have determined me to take
you for my husband."

At these words all etiquette was for a moment forgotten; the
council-chamber resounded with shouts of joy. The mandarins and
doctors applauded the words of Tourandocte. The king approached her,
and kissing her, said, "My child, you could not have formed a decision
more agreeable to me; by this act you will efface the bad impression
you have made upon the minds of my people, and you confer upon your
father a joy to which he has long been a stranger, and which hitherto
he had hoped for in vain. Yes, that aversion you entertained for
marriage, that aversion so contrary to nature, robbed me of the sweet
hope of seeing princes of my own blood spring from you. Happily, that
aversion has ceased, and what crowns my wishes is, that you have
extinguished it in favour of a young hero who is dear to me. But tell
us," added he, "how you have been able to guess the name of a prince
who was unknown to you."

"My lord," replied Tourandocte, "it was not by enchantment that I
learned it; it was by perfectly natural means. One of my slaves sought
the prince Khalaf, and had subtlety enough to rob him of his secret,
and I hope he will forgive me for taking advantage of this treachery,
since I have made no worse use of it."

"Ah! charming Tourandocte," hereupon cried the prince of the Nagäis,
"is it possible that you entertain such favourable sentiments towards
me? From what a frightful abyss do you draw me, to raise me to the
height of bliss! Alas, how unjust was I! whilst you were preparing
such a glorious fate for me I thought you guilty of the blackest of
all treachery. Deceived by a horrible fable which darkened my reason,
I repaid your good intentions with injurious doubts. Oh! what
impatience do I feel to expiate my unjust suspicions at your feet."

Altoun-Khan ordered the preparations for the marriage of Khalaf and
Tourandocte to be set on foot, and whilst they were engaged about them
he sent ambassadors to the tribe of Berlas, to inform the khan of the
Nagäis of all that had taken place in China, and to beg him to come
with the princess his wife.

The preparations being concluded, the marriage was celebrated with all
the pomp and magnificence which belonged to the high birth of the
happy pair. Khalaf was raised to the rank of the highest subject, and
the king himself made a public declaration that, to mark his sense of
the esteem and consideration he entertained for his son-in-law, he
should allow him to dispense with the customary obeisances to his
bride. During a whole month nothing was seen at the court but feasting
and pageants, and in the city nothing but gaiety and rejoicings.

The possession of Tourandocte did not diminish the love Khalaf
entertained for her, and the princess, who had hitherto regarded men
with so much contempt, could not but love so perfect a prince. Some
time after their marriage the ambassadors whom Altoun-Khan had sent to
the country of Berlas returned, bringing with them not only the father
and mother of the king's son-in-law, but also prince Almguer, who, to
pay honour to Elmaze and Timurtasch, insisted on accompanying them,
with the most distinguished of his nobles, and conducting them to
Pekin.

The young prince of the Nagäis, apprized of their arrival, immediately
rode out to meet them. He found them nearly at the gate of the palace.
The joy he felt on seeing his father and mother, and their transports
on seeing him, can be scarcely conceived, much less described. They
all three embraced each other over and over again, and the tears they
shed drew forth corresponding signs of emotion from the Chinese and
Tartars who were present.

After these tender embraces, Khalaf saluted the khan of Berlas; he
expressed to him how deeply he felt his kindness, and more especially
his condescension in himself accompanying his parents to the court of
China; the prince Almguer replied that, being ignorant of the rank of
Timurtasch and Elmaze, he had not shown towards them the respect that
was due to them, and thus to atone for any neglect they might have
experienced, he thought it his duty to pay them this mark of honour;
the khan of the Nagäis and his wife the princess, however, paid a high
tribute to the attentive kindness of the khan of Berlas; they then all
entered the palace of the king, to be presented to Altoun-Khan. They
found this monarch awaiting them in the first hall. He embraced them
all, one after the other, and received them very graciously; he then
conducted them into his cabinet, where, after expressing the pleasure
he felt at seeing Timurtasch, and his sympathy in his misfortunes, he
assured him that he would employ all his power to avenge him on the
sultan of Carisma. This was no empty offer, for that very day he
despatched orders to the governors of the provinces to march with all
speed with the soldiers who were in the towns within their
jurisdiction, and to take the route to lake Baljouta, which was chosen
for the rendezvous of the formidable army he proposed to assemble
there.

For his part, the khan of Berlas, who had foreseen this war, and who
wished to assist in the re-establishment of Timurtasch in his
dominions, had, previous to his departure from his tribe, ordered the
general of his army to be in readiness to take the field at the first
summons. He now commanded him also to repair to lake Baljouta with all
possible speed.

During the time the officers and soldiers who were to compose the army
of Altoun-Khan, and who were dispersed throughout the kingdom, were
marching to assemble at the spot indicated, this king spared no pains
to express his high consideration for his new guests; he appointed a
separate palace to each, with a great number of eunuchs, and a guard
of two thousand men. Every day some new fête was contrived for their
entertainment, and the king's whole attention seemed turned towards
affording them pleasure. Khalaf, although he had now every day a
thousand matters to occupy his attention, did not forget his kind
hostess; he remembered with gratitude the solicitude she expressed for
him; he sent for her to the palace, and begged Tourandocte to receive
her amongst her attendants.

The hope that Timurtasch and Elmaze entertained of reascending the
throne of the Nagäi-Tartars, by the assistance of the king of China,
insensibly made them forget their past troubles; and when Tourandocte
gave birth to a beautiful prince, they were quite overwhelmed with
joy. The birth of this child, who was named the prince of China, was
celebrated in all the cities of this vast empire by public rejoicings.

Whilst these festivities were taking place, news was brought by
couriers, sent by the officers who had orders to collect the army,
that all the troops of the kingdom, and those of the khan of Berlas,
had assembled at lake Baljouta. Immediately Timurtasch, Khalaf, and
Almguer set out for the camp, where they found every thing in
readiness, and seven hundred thousand men ready to march; they
immediately took the read to Kotan, from whence they marched to
Raschar, and at length entered the dominions of the sultan of Carisma.

This prince, informed of their numbers, and of the invasion of his
territories, by couriers whom the governors of the frontier towns had
despatched, far from being alarmed at the number of his enemies,
courageously prepared to meet them. Instead even of intrenching
himself, he had the boldness to take the field himself, at the head of
four hundred thousand men, whom he had hastily collected. The armies
met near Cogendi, where they drew up in battle array. On the side of
the Chinese, Timurtasch commanded the right wing, prince Almguer the
left, and Khalaf the centre. On the other side, the sultan confided
the command of his right wing to the ablest of his generals, opposed
the prince of Carisma to the prince of the Nagäis, and reserved the
left to himself, where the elite of his cavalry were stationed. The
khan of Berlas began the attack with the soldiers of his tribe, who,
fighting like men who knew the eyes of their master were on them, soon
turned the right wing of their enemies; the officer who commanded it,
however, succeeded in reforming it almost immediately. Meanwhile the
right wing, commanded by Timurtasch, was not so fortunate; the sultan
broke them at the first onset, and the Chinese in disorder were on
the point of taking flight, in spite of every effort of the khan of
the Nagäis, when Khalaf, informed of what had taken place, confided
the care of the centre to an experienced Chinese general, and rushed
to the assistance of his father at the head of reinforcements. In a
short time things assumed a different aspect. The left wing of the
Carismians was driven back, and in turn routed; the whole of the ranks
fell into disorder and were easily broken--the entire wing was put to
flight. The sultan determined to conquer or die, and made incredible
efforts to rally his soldiers; but Timurtasch and Khalaf gave them no
time, and surrounded them on all sides, whilst prince Almguer having
defeated the right wing, victory declared in favour of the Chinese.

There remained but one chance of safety for the sultan of Carisma, and
that was to cut his way through the ranks of his enemies, and to take
refuge with some foreign prince; but he preferred not surviving his
defeat to exhibiting amongst the nations his brow despoiled of the
diadem; so rushing blindly into the thickest of the carnage, he fell
bravely, fighting to the last, and pierced with a thousand mortal
wounds, on a heap of slain. The prince of Carisma, his son, shared the
same fate; two hundred thousand of their troops were killed or made
prisoners, the rest seeking safety in flight. The Chinese also lost a
great number of men; but if the battle had been a bloody one, it was
decisive. Timurtasch, after thanking Heaven for this signal success,
despatched an officer to Pekin to give an account of the battle to the
king of China; he then advanced into Zagatay, and seized upon the city
of Carisma.

He made a proclamation in this capital that he would not touch the
property, or interfere with the liberty of the Carismians; that Heaven
having made him master of the throne of his enemy, he intended to take
possession of it, and that henceforth, Zagatay, and the other
countries which had been under the sway of the sultan, should
acknowledge for their sovereign his son Khalaf.

The Carismians, tired of the harsh rule of their late master, and
persuaded that that of Khalaf would be milder, submitted readily, and
proclaimed as sultan this young prince, with whose merits they were
acquainted. Whilst the new sultan took all necessary measures to
strengthen his position, Timurtasch departed with a body of Chinese
troops with all possible speed to his own dominions. The Nagäi-Tartars
received him like faithful subjects, and were overjoyed to see their
legitimate sovereign; but he was not content with regaining his
throne; he declared war against the Circassians, in order to punish
them for their treachery to prince Khalaf at Jund. Instead of trying
to appease him by submission, these warlike people speedily collected
an army to oppose him. He attacked them, and cut them nearly all to
pieces; after which he caused himself to be proclaimed king of
Circassia, and then returned to Zagatay, where he found Elmaze and
Tourandocte, whom Altoun-Khan had sent to Carisma in great state.

Such was the end of the misfortunes of prince Khalaf, who gained by
his virtues the love and esteem of the Carismians. He reigned long and
peacefully over them, and never abated in his love for Tourandocte; he
had a second son by her, who became afterwards the sultan of Carisma.
As for the prince of China, Altoun-Khan brought him up, and chose him
for his successor. Timurtasch and the princess Elmaze passed the rest
of their days at Astrachan, and the khan of Berlas, after having
received from them and their children all the tokens of gratitude
which his generosity merited, retired to his tribe with the remainder
of his troops.

FOOTNOTES:

[8] The Chinese mourning colour is white.



IV.

THE WISE DEY.


Chaaban, Dey of Algiers, being dead, the Turkish janissaries bethought
themselves of electing a new dey; and their intention was to place in
this high station an inert, weak, and indolent man, who would allow
them to be their own masters, to act as they pleased either with or
without justice, and who would never inflict any punishment upon them.
Passing through the streets of Algiers, they beheld Hadgi-Achmet, a
man of ripe age, seated peaceably at the door of his dwelling, and
carefully mending his old slippers, without taking any part either in
the outcries, the conversation, or the gossiping going on all around
him. Hadgi-Achmet seemed to them to be just the sort of apathetic man
they were in search of, a man who would never interfere with any one,
would allow them to do exactly as they pleased, and who, in short,
would be but the shadow of a dey. They therefore laid hold of
Hadgi-Achmet, tore him from his work, led him to the divan, and
elected him dey in spite of himself.

Hadgi-Achmet, thus forced to assume the reins of government, wisely
examined into the duties of his new position, and set himself to
fulfil them with as much assiduity and zeal as he had employed in the
humbler task of mending his old slippers. He watched over the
interests of the country, and over those of justice, and punished
severely all misdeeds which came under his observation; having a
stern, strange habit of knitting his shaggy eyebrows and flashing his
brilliant eyes whenever any thing mean or wicked came under his
notice. All this was very displeasing to the Turkish janissaries, and
to several members of the divan. Four of these latter formed a species
of plot with the design of bringing Hadgi-Achmet into contempt in the
eyes of the public. Now as it was the pleasure of the dey to
administer justice himself, and to enquire into the smallest matter
that concerned the interests of the people, they thought to render him
ridiculous, by begging him one day to judge four distinct matters,
unworthy, in their opinion, to occupy the attention of a great ruler.

"Hadgi-Achmet," said one of the members of the divan to the dey, "my
lord, here is a culprit who can only be judged by thee, O sun of
justice! He is a Tunisian merchant, who has established himself a
short time since at Bab-a-Zoun street, not far from the mosque. At
first he carried on his trade with tolerable honesty; but by degrees
it has been shown that he is nothing better than a rogue, and has
cheated a great number of his customers in the weight, the quality,
and the value of his goods. Thou knowest well the law which condemns
such offenders to lose an ear. This man was seized, carried before the
cadi, and his rogueries being but too apparent, condemned by the cadi
to lose his left ear, the right being reserved in the event of fresh
misdemeanors. But when the man's turban was removed, it was discovered
that his left ear was already gone. The cadi, being informed of the
fact, ordered the right ear to be cut off. To execute this order, they
had to pull the hand of the culprit away from his right ear, and when
this had been done, it was discovered that the Tunisian's right ear
was missing as well as the left. The cadi therefore sent to inform me,
and I, knowing the pleasure thou takest in resolving grave and
important questions, have come to submit this one to thy consummate
prudence, to thy glorious justice."

Hadgi-Achmet, having heard these words, knit his brows, his eyes
flashed fire upon him who had just spoken, and upon all those who were
present at this audience; then, turning towards the man without ears,
he said,

"Since thou hast always been a rogue, and that nothing could reform
thee, I condemn thee all thy life long to wear neither turban nor any
head-dress whatsoever to conceal the mutilation of thy ears.
Purchasers, on beholding this mutilation, will shun thee if they are
wise, for no one is ignorant that a merchant without ears is nothing
else than a rogue."

The earless Tunisian went sadly away. Being compelled to exhibit to
every one and at all times the mutilation he had undergone, was a far
worse punishment than the loss of five hundred ears, if he had had
them.

This judgment pronounced, a second member of the divan addressed the
dey,

"Hadgi-Achmet, our lord and master, here are two men who are
quarrelling upon a question which thou only canst decide by thy
profound wisdom. One of these men is the father of a beautiful and
promising boy. He had this son and two others. One day, about ten
years ago, Ibrahim, his neighbour, who was childless, said to him,
'Chamyl, give me thy youngest son, I will adopt him; he shall live in
my house, inherit my wealth, and be happy. If thou desirest it, I will
give thee in exchange for thy son my country-house at Boudjaréah; thou
knowest that the north breeze is wafted there in the hottest days of
summer.'

"Chamyl consented to give his son, and took the house at Boudjaréah in
exchange. Ormed, the son of Chamyl, went to live with Ibrahim, who
soon loved him very tenderly, whilst Ormed, if only out of gratitude,
soon became much attached to him.

"Chamyl has now lost both his other sons, and having become rich,
desires to take back Ormed, saying, 'This child is henceforth the sole
hope of my race, the joy of my heart, and I wish him to become my
heir.'

"As for Ibrahim, he has lost nearly the half of his fortune, but he
has not lost the attachment which he bears to his adopted son. On the
contrary, his affection continues daily to strengthen for this child,
who is endowed with the finest qualities of mind, and with a grateful
and affectionate heart.

"With whom dost thou decree that Ormed shall remain? with his adopted
or with his real father?"

Hadgi-Achmet, addressing himself to Chamyl, said, "In what does thy
fortune consist?"

Chamyl enumerated his possessions: a house, a ship, several country
houses, and merchandise.

"Can these things be removed?" asked Hadgi-Achmet.

"Some of them can," replied Chamyl.

"And the others," replied Hadgi-Achmet; "couldst not thou, if
necessary, dispose of them, and buy others with the price?"

"I could," replied Chamyl.

"And the affection which thou hadst for thy sons who are dead, couldst
thou transfer it, and bestow it upon other children."

"Ah! that would be impossible," replied Chamyl, sorrowfully.

"Then affection cannot be transferred or exchanged," said
Hadgi-Achmet; "and as it forms part of the heart of man, it is of far
higher consequence than material things, is it not?"

"Yes, my lord," answered Chamyl.

"So that," continued the dey, "we may say to a man, Sell, or give
away, thy possessions; but we cannot, without absurdity, say to any
one, Cease to love him whom thou lovest. For which reason, Chamyl, I
condemn thee to leave with Ibrahim the child whom he loves, and whom
thou voluntarily gavest him when thou hadst affection for thy two sons
who are no more. As to thy possessions, thou canst bear them
whithersoever thou wilt, for riches are not the heart."

"But I love my son," cried Chamyl, "and I will have him, and him only,
for my heir."

"Ah! thou lovest thy son," rejoined Hadgi-Achmet. "It may be so, but
thou gavest no proofs of it so long as thy two other children were
alive. Moreover, thou hast taken a house in exchange for thy son; it
is exactly the same as if thou hadst sold thy child."

"I was poor," murmured Chamyl.

"A lame excuse," said the dey, "for there are many more poor men than
rich men, yet we do not see poor men giving up their children for any
gain whatsoever."

"No, no! I have not sold my son," cried Chamyl, "and my son is mine."

"No, thy son is no longer thine," said the dey, "for thou art not a
father after my heart, and for ten years thy son has been cared for by
the man to whom thou gavest him in exchange for a house. Ibrahim has
not deserved that the child whom he so tenderly loves should be taken
from him, and I order him to be left with him. But since thou wilt
have none other than thy son for thine heir, I decree moreover that
all thy property shall revert to him after thy death, which is nothing
but justice."

Ibrahim then interposed. "My lord," said he to the dey, "Ormed and I
have no need of the fortune of Chamyl. What Allah has left to us is
sufficient for our wants. Permit Chamyl then to preserve the right of
choosing for himself an heir among orphans or poor children, of whom
he will now probably adopt one."

"No," replied the dey, "the man who has been able to calmly select one
from among his own children and barter him for a house, can never
attach himself to the orphan or the unfortunate. I see no reason to
alter the judgment I have pronounced. Ormed will have for his
inheritance the love of his adopted father and the wealth of his real
one."

Chamyl withdrew, greatly incensed at this judgment, which seemed to
him unjust, but which appeared highly equitable to the inhabitants of
Aldgezaire.

A third member of the divan then addressed Hadgi-Achmet:

"All thy words bear the impress of the wisdom which illuminates thee.
It suffices to hear thee, in order to know and venerate thee. If we do
not abuse thy patience and thy goodness, it is because both are
inexhaustible. Behold," added he, "a woman veiled, according to the
law. She accuses her husband of leaving her to perish with hunger,
whilst her husband here maintains that the woman tells an infamous
untruth, and that he supplies her with ample means for becoming fat
and strong; he adds, that the famished locusts from the desert eat not
more voraciously than doth this woman, all the while remaining lean
and feeble, as thou seest. The woman persists in asserting that her
husband scarcely gives her sufficient to languish on like a dying
tree, and she claims thy pity and thy justice."

Hadgi-Achmet, having heard these words, knit his brows, his eyes
flashed fire upon him who had just spoken, and upon those present at
this audience. Then he said, "Mahmoud, dost thou declare that thou
affordest sufficient nourishment to thy wife?"

"Yes, my lord," replied Mahmoud.

"And thou, woman," said the dey, "dost thou still maintain that thy
husband leaves thee in want of nourishment?"

"Yes, my lord," replied the poor starving woman in a faint voice, and
extending her transparent hands and long thin arms, in a supplicating
manner towards her master and her judge.

"Art thou poor?" demanded Hadgi-Achmet of Mahmoud.

"No, my lord," replied Mahmoud, "I could support several wives if I
wished, but it pleases me to have only this one in my house."

"Ah! thou couldst support several wives," replied the dey; "and why
then dost thou not give to this one all she desires, even supposing
she devoured as voraciously as the famished locusts of the desert?"

"I never refuse her any thing," said Mahmoud.

The poor veiled woman sighed.

"Well," added Hadgi-Achmet, "since thou art both rich and generous, I
will put thee in the position to repel an accusation so disgraceful to
thee as that of leaving the woman whom thou hast espoused to perish of
hunger. To which end I order that thy wife shall dwell in my palace in
the apartments of my women and receive from thee a pension which will
enable her to purchase whatever food she may desire. If at the end of
a year of peace and plenty she should still possess that feeble voice
and that excessive thinness which inspire my compassion, I shall
regard her as inflicted with an incurable malady, and will leave her
to go and die beneath thy roof; but if, on the contrary, she regains
strength and voice, thou shalt be hung, not only for having violated
the law which commands the husband to minister to the support of his
wife, but still more for having lied before thy lord and thy judge,
who knows and ever will know how to punish those who offend him."

Having spoken thus, Hadgi-Achmet cast terrible looks upon all the men
present at this audience. Mahmoud withdrew only too sure of being hung
next year, and every one preserved a gloomy silence which lasted for
several minutes.

Hadgi-Achmet meanwhile resumed: "If there remains any other cause for
me to judge, let it be declared."

Then with less self-possession and confidence than his colleagues had
displayed, a fourth member of the divan presented himself. "Here, my
lord," said he, "is a strange affair which occupies us, and which thou
alone canst judge.

"These two men here present are twin-brothers. They have always loved
each other, and have never been separated. Their father is just dead.
After having deplored his loss, they said to each other: 'The roof of
our father's dwelling has sheltered us to this day, let it shelter us
still; and let us amicably share all that is left us by our father,
arms, vestments, or jewels.'

"But all at once an object presented itself which could not be
divided, and for the loss of which nothing else would compensate. The
article in question is a holy amulet, which it is said bestows wisdom
on him who wears it upon his breast beneath his tunic. Now the two
brothers equally desire wisdom, and both would fain possess the
precious talisman left them by their father."

Hadgi-Achmet having heard these words, knit his brows, again his eyes
flashed fire, as he said to one of the twins:

"Mozza, canst thou not yield to thy brother, who so earnestly desires
it, the amulet left you both by your father?"

"No, my lord," replied Mozza, "I could easily reconcile myself to my
brother's being richer than myself, but not to his being wiser!"

Hadgi-Achmet turned to the other brother:

"Farzan, canst thou not yield to thy brother the amulet he wishes to
possess?"

"No, my lord," replied Farzan, "for wisdom not alone bestows upon its
possessor the things of the earth, but those also which belong to
heaven, and I desire those above all."

Hadgi-Achmet then ordered Mozza to place upon his breast beneath his
tunic the cherished amulet, which being done, he said to the young
man:

"I am charmed to find that thou preferrest wisdom to fortune, for
wisdom is above all. But dost thou not see that it is wise to be at
peace with thy brother, and that to obtain this peace there is no
sacrifice too great? To yield to thy brother is the beginning and the
end of wisdom; he who yields is ever the best and the wisest. On this
ground thou wilt now, I am persuaded, yield cheerfully this amulet to
thy brother."

"I repeat, my lord," answered Mozza, "that I will yield every thing to
my brother, slaves, diamonds, house--my entire fortune; but I will
never willingly give up this sacred amulet: it is the only heritage I
covet."

"Ah!" said Hadgi-Achmet, "thou hast not changed thy mind then! well,
give me thy father's amulet."

Mozza reluctantly handed the precious talisman to the dey.

"Farzan," said the dey, "place this amulet upon thy breast, and
beneath thy tunic."

Farzan obeyed. He had no sooner placed the amulet upon his breast than
he felt so lively a joy that he would have embraced his brother had he
dared, and his eyes glistened with pleasure.

"Ah!" said Hadgi-Achmet, addressing himself to Farzan, "I perceive
that this amulet has great power over thee. Thy heart is opened to
wisdom, and thou wilt renounce foolish quarrels, wilt thou not, and
yield to thy brother the talisman which he so much desires, and of
which he has perhaps greater need than thou?"

"I!" cried Farzan, "rather would I die than part with my father's
amulet! I feel myself capable of plunging my dagger into the bosom of
any one rash enough to attempt to tear it from me, whoever he might
be."

"In truth," rejoined Hadgi-Achmet, "I see that this amulet is far from
bestowing all the wisdom of which you young men deem it capable. On
the contrary it only seems to me fit to sow dissensions between you,
since notwithstanding you have both worn it upon your breast, you
have nevertheless preserved your animosity and unjust pretensions in
the dispute in question. For which reason I ordain that this precious
talisman, of whose real power we are doubtless ignorant, shall remain
in my palace and be restored in ten years' time to whichever of you
two shall have given by his conduct the most incontestable proofs of
piety and virtue."

Having heard this sentence, the two brothers sorrowfully withdrew. But
they had no sooner crossed the threshold of the palace, than they were
reconciled to each other, avowing that the dey had acted with justice,
and thenceforth they lived happy and united as before.

In the mean time, Hadgi-Achmet, having delivered these four judgments,
knit his brows once more, and turning to the members of the divan,
addressed them as follows:

"Joyfully have I just occupied myself with the smallest things which
concern the welfare and repose of my subjects, and I should not regret
my time had it been employed in affairs still more trifling. Every
thing appears of importance to me which in any way relates to the
wellbeing of one of those over whom Allah has made me sovereign. I
nothing doubt that you applaud my conduct, and that you would gladly
imitate my zeal in the service of the people. Your praises prove it;
but I know well that men such as you prefer proving their zeal by
actions, rather than by words. I am about therefore to entrust you
with a task of great importance to me, since it is for the most
interesting class of my subjects, namely, the most unfortunate. I am
about to distribute before the Ramadan, four sacks of rice among poor
old men and widows. An unskilful hand has contrived in filling these
sacks with the rice, to spill amongst it a quantity of _oats_. Now as
I do not wish these poor people to think themselves treated with
contempt by receiving rice mixed with oats, I wish that pious hands
should carefully sift the rice and extract from it these grains. It is
on you I rely for the performance of this duty, which awaits you in
one of the halls of my palace. I cannot at this moment be an
eye-witness of your zeal in obeying me, and serving the people; but
before your task is finished, I will be with you."

Having spoken these words, the dey caused the members of the divan to
be respectfully conducted by his guards to a large hall, where they
found four sacks of rice and several baskets.

The members of the divan feeling persuaded that this was an affair
which more nearly concerned their heads than the sacks of rice, set
themselves silently to this unexpected work, whilst the guards
remained stationary at the entrance of the hall in which the labour
was being carried on.

The flight of a musquito might have been heard in this hall where the
members of the divan were busily engaged sifting the rice for the
poor, all the while vowing to be revenged upon Hadgi-Achmet, if they
ever had the power.

Towards the evening the members of the divan were joined by
Hadgi-Achmet, who perceiving that one of them had made less progress
in his task than his three colleagues, said,

"I would not accuse thee of want of zeal: man knows not always what he
wishes, nor knows what he can do; I will therefore aid thee in thy
task," and he began gravely to assist the four members of the divan in
sifting the rice of the poor.

The tasks being accomplished, the four sacks of rice were carefully
closed. Hadgi-Achmet thanked his enemies, and caused them to be
conducted with the greatest respect to the gates of his palace.

These men left to themselves, regarded each other with consternation
and shame; they then said, "We would fain have laughed at
Hadgi-Achmet, and it is he who has mocked us. Let us henceforth
abstain from criticizing his scrupulous exactitude in rendering
justice, but let us think only of avenging ourselves."

But they sought the opportunity in vain. Hadgi-Achmet, who had
commenced his career by so carefully mending his old slippers, held
the reins of power with a strong hand, and whilst other deys in those
times almost always met a violent death by steel or poison, he died
peacefully in his palace, after having lived many long years.



V.

THE TUNISIAN SAGE; OR, THE POWDER OF LONGEVITY.


Selim-ben-Foubi had been twenty years engaged in commerce when he
inherited a fortune which greatly surpassed his wants and even his
desires.

As he had lost all his children, his great wealth caused him but
little joy, and he felt it even embarrassing to possess so much gold
and so many precious things, of which he should never be able to make
any use.

"I am now fifty," said he, "and were I to live to a hundred, I should
not spend half of what I possess. I can only take one meal at a time,
dress in a single suit, and sleep in but one bed. Hence if I can but
rest in peace in a substantial and commodious house, eat as much as I
desire, and invite a friend to partake of my repast, that is all I
need wish for. I have therefore resolved to give away the half of my
fortune during my lifetime, that I may enjoy the pleasure of beholding
happiness of my own creating."

Having formed this generous project, Selim nevertheless wished before
putting it into execution to take counsel with two of his friends.

Quitting therefore his country-house at Boudjaréah, he repaired to
Aldgezaire, where in the garden of the grand mosque dwelt usually a
sage mufti, a grave and reverend man. Seating himself by his side
beneath the shade of some flowering pomegranate trees, he thus
accosted him:

"Mehemet, I have come to visit thee in order to open my whole heart
to thee and take counsel of thy wisdom. I am suddenly become very
rich, as thou knowest, and I have no son to inherit my wealth; is it
not too great for a single solitary man? speak, answer me."

"That which Allah gives should never be despised," replied the sage.

"I do not disdain my riches," replied Selim, "but I am thinking of
sharing them with others, and of keeping only what is necessary to my
existence for the remainder of my days."

"Thou knowest not what the number of thy days will be."

"I will suppose that I may enjoy the longest of lives, a hundred years
for example, thinkest thou I shall live yet longer?"

"Allah alone knows."

"Let us say five hundred," continued Selim, "surely that covers all
chances; well then, during this long course of years, would it not be
more agreeable to me to know that my riches are useful, than to feel
that they were hidden in some coffer, where they might become an
object of envy to the poor, or tempt the cupidity of the ill-doer?"

"May be so," said the mufti.

"My thought is a good one then?"

"It may be; but will it be good in practice? I cannot say. Nothing is
more common than to think wisely; nothing more rare than to put wise
thoughts into practice."

"Advise me," said Selim, "and I shall then be sure of fulfilling the
law, and of doing good. How ought I to distribute the half of my large
fortune?"

The mufti reflected profoundly, and then replied:

"I advise thee first to take at least one year to reflect upon thy
project. Time is the sun that ripens the thoughts of men. We never
repent of having reflected before acting; we often regret not having
done so. Reflect then, and afterwards come and consult with me."

Selim quitted the mosque, and repaired to Bab-a-Zoun street, to the
house of his other friend, a Moorish merchant, who laboured hard to
support himself by his calling. He began thus:

"We have been friends and have known each other these ten years, for
which reason I come to put to thee this question: 'In what way,
thinkest thou, a man who is both rich and beneficent should employ his
fortune, in order to be useful?'"

The Moorish merchant replied: "Thou makest a very singular demand of
me. I cannot believe that a man can find any difficulty in giving, if
he really possess the desire. He may found a mosque, succour the aged,
support the widow and the orphan, enrich his friends, if he have any,
and the rich are seldom without friends."

"But thou," rejoined Selim, "if thou hadst aught to give away, what
wouldst thou do?"

"I? I cannot fancy myself having any thing to give away, seeing that I
can scarcely pay the rent of my poor shop, and fill that shop with a
few sacks of rice and a little coffee. If I had money, it is very
certain that I should begin by buying a house and goods. It is of no
use to say to a poor man like me, 'To whom wouldst thou give thy
money?' But I repeat to thee there is no lack of good actions to be
done. Happy he who has only to choose."

"Thou art right," said Selim to his friend; and quitting him, he
returned to his country-house at Boudjaréah. One of his neighbours,
Achmet the Arab, accosted him upon the road thither; and Selim, having
stopped to converse with his friend, said to him: "Thou art of a ripe
age, and art not wanting in experience of the things of this life.
Tell me then if thou considerest that it would be well for a man who
is rich and childless to give away, while still living, the half of
his fortune, reserving the other half, upon which to subsist
honourably the remainder of his days."

Achmet replied, "I cannot say whether it is better in the sight of
Allah to give away or to retain the goods with which he has endowed
thee. As for myself, I have nothing to give, for I have a very small
fortune, and a great many children; but if I were rich and without
heirs, I would bury my gold in some corner of my garden, sooner than
bestow it to gratify men who are either wicked or ungrateful, and such
they almost all are. This gold would sooner or later be discovered by
some one whom Allah desired to enrich, and thus I should not be
responsible for the use that was made of it."

"Thy idea is not, perhaps, a bad one," said Selim, "and I will
certainly reflect upon it."

While Selim and his neighbour were talking together, a Tunisian of
miserable aspect approached the spot. This was no other than Hussein
Muley, a physician of Tunis. He was already advanced in years, and
passed for a man rich in science, but poor in money. Selim requested
this man to rest himself in his house, and his invitation being
accepted, he saluted his neighbour Achmet, and conducted his guest
into one of the fresh and salubrious halls of his smiling abode.
Hussein Muley, fatigued by two hours' walk under a broiling sun, threw
himself upon a divan, whilst fruits and coffee were abundantly served
to him. When he had somewhat reposed and refreshed himself, Selim said
to him in a friendly manner, "I am happy to receive thee at my house,
because thou art a wise man, and of good renown in thy profession.
Thou hast travelled, read, and seen life; thou must of necessity be
able to judge wisely of the things which relate to this life. I should
therefore be very glad to have thy opinion upon a project which I have
formed. I have become very rich by inheritance; and having no
children, I think of disposing, while yet living, of a great portion
of my wealth. In what way dost thou consider it would be most
desirable to employ this wealth?"

Hussein Muley regarded Selim with surprise.

"Thou wouldst give away a great portion of what thou hast," said he.
"This is, indeed, a marvellous thing. I have, as thou sayest,
travelled, read, and seen life, but never yet have I heard of any man
giving away, during his lifetime, the greater part of his fortune."

"Does that prove that it would be wrong to do so?" demanded Selim.

"I know not," replied the Tunisian, falling into a fit of profound
meditation, and looking all the while at the tips of his old slippers,
instead of contemplating from afar the ever-changing sea and azure
sky.

"On what dost thou muse?" at length demanded Selim.

"I was thinking--I was thinking that if the duration of man's life
were longer, it would be better both for those who study science, and
for those who are the fortunate possessors of great wealth; it would
be equally good for the poor, since they might one day hope to enjoy
the fruit of their toils, if they took pains to become rich."

"What profits it to meditate so deeply upon a thing which all the
reflections of man cannot change?"

"I do not regard the prolongation of human existence as impossible.
Hitherto physicians have most frequently been instrumental in
abridging it. My aim is to repair the wrongs they have involuntarily
committed. I would have succeeding ages regard my memory with
gratitude."

"What sayest thou?" cried Selim. "Thou wouldst change the order of
things, the whole course of nature?"

"Nothing can convince me that we follow the course of nature by dying
at sixty or eighty years of age, when men formerly lived hundreds of
years. On the contrary, I am certain that we were created to live
longer, much longer, and I consecrate all my days, my nights, and my
studies to the pursuit of a discovery which is destined to prolong the
existence of mankind, and renew the state of things as they were when
men married at a hundred years of age, and lived to see their sons'
sons grow up and marry in their turn. Why, have I often asked myself,
should our lives be shorter than those of an oak of the forests, of a
serpent, or even of a vulture?"

"If we lived as long as an oak," replied Selim, "the cedars and the
palm trees would still live longer than we."

"Thou dost but jest, but thy jesting is ill-timed; nothing is more
serious than the thought which occupies me. Thou thyself, confess now,
wouldst thou not be enchanted to see suns succeed suns, and to
contemplate for ages to come the wonders of the heavens and the
fecundity of the earth?"

Selim reflected a little, and replied, "Man does not love death, it is
true; nevertheless life is not so desirable as thou wouldst fain have
us believe."

"Then thou desirest not to prolong thy days upon the earth? For
myself, I confess that I desire it greatly; so that besides my days
and my nights, I consecrate all that I glean from learned researches
to the accomplishment of this great end. I am already upon the track.
But unfortunately gold is wanting--this gold which thou despisest, or
knowest not how to employ--this gold would in my hands contribute to
the happiness of future generations. With gold--with gold you can
purchase books of precious value, measure the stars, dig the bowels of
the earth, rend metals from her bosom, decompose substances, in short,
penetrate into every mystery. Yes, gold which heretofore has been
unable to bestow a day, nay an hour upon its possessor, gold in my
hands would accomplish a wondrous discovery. I should certainly not
keep the secret for myself alone, and I should share it first of all
with the man whose wealth had helped me to the means of obtaining it."

"But shouldst thou discover the means of prolonging my life for many
centuries, I should not then be rich enough to give away half of my
fortune."

"What!" cried the physician of Tunis, "is not life preferable to all
the riches in the world? and if at this moment it were said to thee,
'thou shalt die, or give up the whole of thy possessions,' wouldst
thou not readily yield them to avoid the thrust of a yataghan, or the
discharge of a gun in thy breast?"

"Thou puzzlest me, but I think that in such a case I should give up my
property to preserve my life."

"Thou seest then that life is dear, even to the poor. Why not
therefore endeavour to prolong thine own? Even if my profound science
did not succeed, thou wouldst still be rich enough to enjoy an
existence of the shorter duration."

Listening thus to the learned physician, Selim fell by degrees into a
profound reverie, and the Tunisian, instead of continuing his
discourse, gave himself up to meditation also; so that both these two
men became absorbed in their own dreams in presence of each other, but
without communicating their ideas, and Allah alone knows of what they
were thinking.

After long and silent reflection, Selim said to Hussein Muley, "Before
seeing thee I had intended to bestow while yet alive one-half of my
fortune in making others happy. It will, I think, be no change of
purpose, if I aid thee in pursuing those learned researches which tend
to prolong the life of man. For which reason, Hussein Muley, I propose
at once to present thee with the gold of which thou hast need. Come
with me."

The Tunisian, appearing more astonished than rejoiced at these words,
gravely arose, followed Selim into another apartment in the house, and
received from him a little casket filled with pieces of gold.

"Employ this wisely," said Selim, "and communicate to me the result of
thy labour."

"I will not fail to do so," replied Hussein Muley. And clasping the
precious casket to his breast, he exclaimed, "Here then is the means
of satisfying my thirst for knowledge, of surmounting all obstacles,
of snatching from the past the secret which shall add hundreds of
years to the existence of man, and prolong his days to the space of
those of his fathers. Selim," added he, "thou dost a meritorious
action in giving me this. I need not thank thee, because I am going to
work for thee as for myself; nevertheless I do thank thee, and with my
whole heart."

Having said these words the learned physician withdrew gravely, and
with an air of deep abstraction.

Selim was not less preoccupied. Left to himself, he meditated long and
profoundly on long and short lives, and on the prodigies accomplished
by science, and he ended by asking himself whether he should confide
to the sage mufti, whom he was soon about to see again, what he had
done for Hussein Muley, and his hope of beholding the existence of the
human species prolonged to an almost indefinite period. His final
resolution was to admit no one to his confidence in the matter, but to
await in silence the marvellous discovery of his new friend Hussein
Muley, the physician of Tunis.

Several months passed by without the reappearance of the latter, but
when at length he returned to Boudjaréah he was yellower, leaner, and
more attenuated even than a man who had crossed on foot the mighty
desert of Sahara. His limbs, in fact, could scarcely support his
trembling frame.

"Well," said Selim, "what has befallen thee? art thou sick, or dost
thou return to me perishing of hunger?"

"No, but I have travelled night and day beneath the pale light of the
stars, and the burning rays of the sun, and have often forgotten to
take necessary sustenance, so deeply was I absorbed in my studies."

"Well, and the result?"

"Alas! I have not yet succeeded as I could desire. Thus far have I
attained only, that I have secured the power of prolonging our days
fifty years."

Having uttered these words, Hussein Muley sorrowfully clasped his
withered hands upon his breast, and then added:

"I know that such a discovery would afford intense joy to any other
but myself, but it is far from satisfying me. To live fifty years
longer than usual, what is that?"

"It is something, nevertheless," replied Selim, "and wilt thou tell me
what is necessary to be done, in order to add fifty years to one's
existence?"

"Will I tell thee?" cried the Tunisian; "I am come expressly for that
purpose, and to give thee this powder. It must be taken every morning
fasting, for one year, three months, a week, and a day, without fail."

"I must write down these directions," said Selim.

He wrote them down at once, and then asked, "Dost thou not think thou
shouldst rest satisfied with thy discovery, and begin to live well,
and sleep well, in order to enjoy the remaining years of thy life?"

"I have no desire to repose yet from my labours. Of what account are
fifty years added to sixty or eighty, soon to be over for me? No, no,
I would live two centuries at the least, to enjoy the fruits of my
toil, and make the fortunes of my children, and my children's
children. For thou dost not imagine we shall at first give to every
one for nothing this magnificent secret, which has cost us so much. It
is this secret which will procure us the means of living in splendour
to the end of our days. Thou canst, for heavy sums of money, dispose
of the powder which I shall have composed to whomsoever thou pleasest,
while I on my part equally will part with it for gold; and when at
length we die, surfeited with life, we will leave our secret to the
multitude that survives us."

"This arrangement seems to me just, and well conceived. Nevertheless,
I desire not to sell the powder, but may I bestow it, and at once,
upon one or two men whom I esteem highly?"

"No, let us not yet draw attention to our happy fortune; let us wait
until my discovery shall be completely perfected."

"Agreed; but I lament to see thee yellow, thin, and attenuated, as
thou art."

"Oh! that is nothing," said the Tunisian, striking his forehead with
his hands; "do not let my haggard appearance disturb thee. I would
rather have nothing but skin upon my bones, and keep my secret to
myself. I shall soon regain my flesh and my complexion. No, my health
causes me no uneasiness. I merely suffer from anxiety, which arises
from not having money sufficient for the prosecution of my studies."

"Dost thou require much?" demanded Selim.

"Ah! yes, much," replied Hussein with a sigh; "and if I fail in
procuring it, instead of living fifty years longer than the usual
course of things, I will either starve myself to death, or drown
myself in the well of my house."

"Beware of acting thus," said Selim. "I can still give thee something;
make use of that, and afterwards follow my advice, and sell to some
rich man thy powder, in order to meet the expenses of thy lengthened
researches."

Hussein Muley appeared to meditate profoundly with his forehead buried
in his hands, and seemed not to listen to Selim, but it is not
improbable that he heard him very well.

"Thou dost not listen to me," continued Selim. "Hussein! Hussein! I
will give thee another little casket of gold; but after this casket I
have nothing more to give thee. There will only remain just
sufficient for me, during the time that I hope to live, thanks to thy
powder. If thou discoverest another still more marvellous, thou wilt
give it me, at least for my own use, wilt thou not?"

Hussein Muley seemed suddenly to come to himself, and exclaimed:

"Oh! I have at length found that of which I was in search! Yes, one
herb alone is now wanting; I will go in quest of it, were it at the
other end of the earth, and I will resolve the great problem which has
occupied me for more than thirty years. Selim! Selim! entrust to my
keeping what thou canst still consecrate to the happiness of mankind,
and rest assured that thou wilt merit the admiration and the gratitude
of ages to come."

"I desire neither the one nor the other," replied Selim; "I only wish
to do a little good, that is all. Shall I succeed in my purpose? I
will confess to thee, Hussein Muley, that I have more than once
regretted devoting my fortune to a discovery which may prove more
fatal than useful to the world; for the world is already peopled
enough, and what would it be, if men lived for several centuries?
Would they not kill each other for want of room?"

"Do they not already kill each other by sea and by land?" said Hussein
Muley with a strange smile. "Come," continued he, "do not disquiet
thyself about what will some day happen upon the earth; profit by what
fate offers thee, and prolong thy days in peace."

Having thus spoken, he took the second casket proffered him by Selim,
put it under his arm, and said in a grave tone:

"I am about to undertake a journey into Asia. There, near the Indies,
is a high mountain, Mount Himalaya--dost thou not know it?"

"No," answered Selim.

"Well, nor I either; but I go to cull from its summit, covered with
perpetual snows, a plant, which will complete the discoveries I have
already made."

"I thought that no plant was ever to be found on those mountain tops
covered with perpetual snow and frost?"

"There grows none, but that of which I have immediate need; I am going
in quest of it, and will show it thee on my return."

"It is well," said Selim, and they separated.

Hussein Muley retreated with rapid strides.

Selim carefully placed in a small box the powder which he was to take
fasting, during one year, three months, a week, and a day, and he
began from the very next day to administer to himself this drug, which
happily he did not find to be very nauseous to the taste.

Meanwhile the Tunisian set out from Aldgezaire with his wife, his
children, and several chests, containing no doubt his books, and the
papers necessary for his studies; but Selim never saw him more. He
awaited his return, three, five, ten years, and, as he judged that ten
years should suffice to go to Asia, and scale the highest mountain
there, he began to think that the yellow, thin, and learned Tunisian
was either dead, or else had taken advantage of his credulity and
ignorance.

Whilst these thoughts occupied his mind, an epidemic broke out in
Aldgezaire; Selim was attacked by it.

He therefore begged the wise mufti, who was still alive, to come and
visit him; and then with that burst of confidence which seizes men in
the hour of danger, he opened his heart to him, and related how he had
given two caskets full of gold to Hussein Muley, in the hope of
prolonging the existence of mankind for many centuries.

The wise mufti stroked his venerable beard and exclaimed:

"Selim, Selim, thou hast been played upon by a swindler, to whom thou
hast imprudently confided thy generous thoughts. This proves the truth
of what I one day said to thee, 'With the best intentions we may
commit the most foolish actions.'"

"Ah!" said Selim sorrowfully, "my misfortune has been in not
spontaneously following the first impulse of my heart, for I had
really the wish to do good, but in taking counsel of one and another I
have followed the worst I received."

"Yes," replied the mufti, "thou mightest perhaps have acted wisely in
following thy first idea; at the same time, if thou hadst, in
accordance with my advice, reflected longer upon thy projects of
benevolence, it is certain that thou wouldst not have given thy gold
to a cheat who has done nothing but laugh at thy credulity."

Selim willingly consented to acknowledge his fault. He confessed that
it is useless to take the opinion of the wise and learned, if we do
not mean to profit by it; then he prostrated himself devoutly before
Allah, recovered his health by degrees, and caused a large sum of
money to be distributed among the poor of the mosques, for he relied
no longer on the hundreds of years of existence which were to come to
him from Mount Himalaya, any more than on the powder of longevity.



VI.

THE NOSE FOR GOLD.


Mohammed and Yousouf, young Moors, born in Aldgezaire, had loved each
other from infancy, and increasing years only served to strengthen the
bonds of their attachment. Besides the happiness they enjoyed in their
mutual affection, their friendship tended also to elevate their
characters, and make them remarkable, for every body knows that
constant friendships are never the lot of vulgar minds. These two
young men, therefore, raised themselves above the level of the vulgar
herd by the fidelity of their affection; they were cited as models in
their native city; people smiled with pleasure on seeing them pass,
always together, ever in good humour; and although they were far from
being rich, yet their fate was envied by every one.

Mohammed and Yousouf generally dressed alike, and they had recourse to
the same trade to gain their living. Their only trouble,--there must
always be some in this world,--arose from the shops in which they were
engaged during the day being separated from each other; evening, it is
true, reunited them in the same dwelling, but that was not enough for
them. When they married even, they contrived that it should be to each
other's relatives. One family established itself on the first floor of
the house, the other immediately above, and the two friends continued
to love as heretofore, and to rejoice in their common felicity.

Over and over again, during their long conversations, they would
repeat with the reiteration usual to those to whom a subject is dear,
some such sentiments as these:

"The restless periods of youth, marriage, and commercial affairs have
tried our friendship without altering it; it is henceforth secure from
all changes; old age will only serve to render us dearer to each
other, and we shall leave to our families the record and example of an
affection which a future day will doubtless see renewed in our sons."

"It is probable," they would often say, "that Allah, touched by our
friendship upon earth, will reunite us eternally in the paradise of
true believers, beneath fresh shades, and by the side of bubbling
fountains, surrounded by flowers of sweet perfume."

At this prospect of an eternal union, an eternal happiness, both would
smile in anticipation, and such expressions as these they were never
weary of repeating to each other.

These two friends were about thirty years of age, when a lucky chance
gave them the opportunity of accomplishing the dearest wish of their
hearts, that of occupying together two small shops adjoining each
other.

An old Israelite, without family and without children, had inhabited
them for twenty years. In one he slept and ate, not having any other
house; in the other he displayed his merchandise; essences, amber,
pastilles, necklaces and bracelets for the rich Moors, small
looking-glasses, and beads of coral for the slaves; all of which he
sold at the dearest possible price, as if he had a dozen children to
support, and as many of his co-religionists.

Mohammed and Yousouf established themselves with lively satisfaction
in these shops, the possession of which they had so long coveted,
without at the same time desiring the death of the old Jew. They were
incapable of a wicked action; but the Jew being dead, as they could
not restore him to life, they saw no harm in lawfully taking
possession of his domicile. This event seemed to complete their
happiness.

But who can say or know what is really a good or an evil? who can
foresee the consequences of things?

Mohammed one day, while knocking a nail into the partition wall
between his shop and that of Yousouf, discovered that this wall was
hollow, and that it contained some pieces of metal. His first impulse
was to call, "Yousouf! Yousouf! there is gold or silver in our wall;"
but the next moment he thought, "I will first assure myself of what
this part of the wall contains, and if I really make a fortunate
discovery, I shall give Yousouf such an agreeable surprise by calling
him to partake of it."

Accordingly he waited until Yousouf should be out of the way for an
hour or two to give him the opportunity of exploring further into his
wall, but it so happened that Yousouf was never absent at all for
several days following.

Mohammed then said to his friend:

"I fancy that something has been stolen from my shop during the night.
I shall sleep there to-night, in order to surprise the thief, if he
should reappear."

"I shall not leave thee alone here all night," replied Yousouf, "but
shall sleep also in my shop by the side of thee."

Mohammed in vain strove to oppose the resolution of his friend; he
could not revisit his shop alone in the evening, and for several days
following, Yousouf seeing that he appeared pensive and uneasy, quitted
him less than ever, and said to him with the solicitude of true
friendship:

"Thou seemest sad! Thy wife and thy sons, are they ill? Regrettest
thou what has been taken from thy shop? Compensate thyself for thy
loss by selecting whatever thou wilt from that which I possess."

Mohammed thanked Yousouf, and replied with a smile:

"Rest satisfied, I have no grief." He dared not add, "I have no
secret," for he had one.

In order however to put an end to the feeling of intense anxiety that
filled his mind, he came to his shop one night unknown to Yousouf, and
hastily detaching from the partition wall first one stone, then two or
three more, he discovered a hundred Spanish doubloons, and eight
four-dollar pieces. This was a perfect treasure to Mohammed, who had
never in his life possessed more than the half of a small house, and
the few goods exposed for sale in his shop.

"We are rich," said he. "Yousouf and I can now purchase a country
house by the sea-side, as we have so often wished. Our wives and our
children will disport themselves in our sight. My son Ali, that
beautiful child whom I so tenderly love, will be delighted to run
among the trees and climb up into their topmost branches. Ah! how
rejoiced I am, if only for his sake."

Thus thinking, Mohammed took his gold and his silver, replaced, as
well as he was able, the stones in his wall, and returned to his home,
his mind occupied with delightful visions, and already beholding
himself in imagination enjoying the pleasures of a delightful
habitation by the sea-shore, with his beautiful Ali, that dear child
whom he so tenderly loved. During two days he put off from hour to
hour the disclosure which he had to make to Yousouf; and during those
two days he revolved all sorts of ideas in his mind.

"If I made the fortune of my son, instead of that of my friend," said
he at length to himself, "should I be guilty? Is not a son nearer and
dearer than all the friends in the world? Yes; but then the gold and
silver which I have discovered belong by rights as much to Yousouf as
to myself, for the wall whence I have taken them belongs as much to
his shop as to mine."

Unable to resolve either to share his treasure with his friend or to
keep it for himself alone, he took the resolution of carefully
concealing it in the chamber in which he slept, and of waiting until
the agitation caused in his mind by so important an event should have
somewhat subsided, to which end he hastened to secure his newly
acquired possession.

"Reflection is no crime," said he. Consequently he gave himself time
to reflect, instead of following the first impulse of his heart and
remaining faithful to that devotion of friendship which had hitherto
constituted his pride and glory, and which still bore the promise of
so rich a harvest in the future.

He passed all his time then, extended during the heat of the day upon
a mat by the side of his merchandise, and with closed eyes feigning to
sleep, while in reality he was thinking of nothing but his treasure,
and of what he ought to do with it.

Yousouf meanwhile, impressed with the idea that his friend was
sleeping, took every care to guard his slumbers from interruption,
thinking as he gently fanned his fevered brow of nothing but Mohammed,
and what he could possibly invent to divert him and render him happy.

One day as Yousouf and Mohammed were reposing after their labours, an
old hump-backed Jew with a sallow complexion and an enormous nose
accosted Yousouf, saying:

"Was it not here that Nathan Cohen, the son of David, lived about two
years since?"

"Speak low," replied Yousouf to the Jew. "My friend is asleep, and I
would not that his slumbers should be disturbed."

The Jew seated himself on the edge of Yousouf's little counter, and
repeated his inquiry, at the same time lowering the harsh and hollow
tones of his voice.

"Yes, it was here that Nathan Cohen, the son of David, dwelt," replied
the young Moor.

"Ah!" said the old Jew, working his large and flexible nostrils, "I
was sure of it--that is why I scent gold hidden here."

"Indeed!" said Yousouf, regarding somewhat incredulously the
extraordinary nose of his interlocutor. "Thou dost well to talk of
smelling gold or silver either. Thy olfactory nerves are of the
strongest no doubt, nevertheless I fear me they are at fault in this
dwelling, where gold and silver but seldom make their appearance."

"They are not often to be seen here," replied the Jew; "I know that
full well; they are not heard here either, for the earth conceals them
both from sight and sound. But remove them from the envious ground
that covers them, and they will dazzle thine eyes and charm thine
ears."

"Indeed!" said Yousouf, laughing. "Thou art the bearer of good news.
How much dost thou demand for thy reward?"

"I would have thee share with me all that I shall cause to be
discovered in thy house by means of the marvellous sense of smelling
with which I am endowed, and at which thou now jestest."

"Share with thee!" exclaimed Yousouf. "Oh no, indeed! If I were
fortunate enough to discover a treasure, it is with my friend Mohammed
that I should hasten to share it."

"But thou wilt have nothing to share with him if I do not disclose to
thee the spot where thy treasure lies concealed."

"Perhaps so. But if I put any confidence in thy nose, what prevents me
from turning my whole shop topsy-turvy, digging up the floor, and
pulling down the walls and the shelves?"

The Jew slowly regarded the ground, the walls, and the shelves, as
they were severally named by Yousouf; then he said in an ironical
manner:

"Thou wouldst not do much harm if thou wert to demolish all around
thee; but to save thyself so much trouble and labour, thou hadst far
better give me at least one-third of what I shall discover in thy
dwelling. The other two-thirds can be for thyself and thy friend, if
thou art fool enough not to wish to keep all for thyself."

"Ah, it may suit such a man as thou to call him who prefers friendship
to money a fool! But in spite of all thy arguments I shall never
change, and I shall love Mohammed better than all the money in the
world."

"As you please. It remains to be seen if Mohammed would do the same
for you."

"I have not the slightest doubt of it," replied Yousouf.

The Jew uttered a suppressed laugh.

"And I have every doubt of it," said he. "I doubt even _thy_ future
disinterestedness, notwithstanding the warmth of thy discourse.
Yousouf! Yousouf! thou hast not yet beheld the dazzling brilliancy of
gold! It is the lustre of this metal which charms the eyes and wins
the heart of man. Once let him see gold before him, and know that he
has the power to possess himself of it, and adieu to every other
thought. Gold! why it is the thing to be most desired in the world.
Possessed of gold, what can we not enjoy? a fine house, smiling
pasturage, blooming gardens, rich stuffs, divans, perfumes, all, in
short, that renders life desirable!"

"That is very true," replied Yousouf. "We can procure many things with
gold; but still gold cannot purchase youth, gaiety, friendship, or
even a good appetite or sound sleep. Leave me then in peace with thy
discoveries, and if thou art so skilled in the art of scenting gold,
learn also to scan the disposition of him to whom thou addressest
thyself."

"Then thou wilt not consent to give me the third of what I know to be
here, hidden though it may be?"

"Decidedly not," replied Yousouf. "I have no faith in thy ridiculous
pretensions; moreover, I do not know thee, and have never seen thee
either in the public walks, the streets, or elsewhere."

"I have just returned from a long journey," replied the old man; "my
name is Ephraim. When I quitted this city, thou wert but sixteen
years of age; my friend Nathan Cohen, son of David, was then very old:
he has been dead, they say, these two years."

"And so thou comest to exercise thy sense of smelling in thy
accustomed haunt," said Yousouf gaily; "and seest thou not then that
there is some power in friendship, since it is the memory of a friend
that brings thee hither?"

"Ah! it is not the memory of the past, but hope for the future,"
replied the old Jew. "So long as our friends are alive they may be
useful, though that is a thing that very rarely happens; but when they
are dead, what is the use of thinking any more of them?"

Yousouf, wearied out with so much discussion, said at length to
Ephraim:

"Come, come, enough of this! Leave this place; thy voice will, I am
sure, awaken my friend, and prevent him from sleeping, as he delights
to do during the heat of the day."

"Do not let us awaken him," replied the Jew, "but let us remove the
ground there beneath thy feet. I will hope that a feeling of gratitude
may induce thee to bestow upon me a portion of what I shall discover
for thee."

So saying, the Jew drew a long iron pickaxe from beneath his dirty
brown tunic, and began to break up the ground around the feet of
Yousouf. The latter regarded the old man--his prodigious nose inflated
by the hope of gain--with a smile of derision. But in a short space of
time their eyes were dazzled by a sight of the precious metal. The Jew
had, indeed, succeeded in disinterring a veritable treasure.

"Let us now count this gold and silver," said he.

They took it, and counted it, and found that Yousouf had suddenly
become the possessor of five hundred Spanish doubloons, and sixty
four-dollar pieces. He could scarcely believe his eyes.

"Well," said the Jew, "what sayest thou? have I lied to thee, or
deceived myself? Come, let us see now what thou art going to give me
in reward for my pains."

"I will awaken Mohammed," said Yousouf, "and he and I will certainly
give thee something as a recompense."

"Yousouf!" said the Jew, arresting the young Moor by the arm, "reflect
a moment before awakening thy friend. Would it not be better to keep
this treasure for thyself and for thy sons? Hast thou not children,
and are not children much dearer than a friend?"

"If I have children," replied Yousouf, "Mohammed has them also. We
loved each other before they were born, and we know how to be good
fathers without being faithless friends."

At this moment Mohammed, who had not awaked, for the very sufficient
reason that he had not been asleep, started as if he had been stung by
a thousand mosquitoes at once, and rose with a sudden bound. The
concluding words of Yousouf had awakened a feeling of remorse within
his breast.

"Yousouf! Yousouf!" said he to his friend, "I have heard all. Yes,
every thing, and thy sincere friendship, tried by time and tried by
gold, is now the sole treasure I desire."

"I know for how long a time thou hast thought thus," replied Yousouf.
"But since Allah has chosen to make us rich, let us not disdain the
blessing which he sends. He it was who first inspired us with the wish
for these two little shops, and who has bestowed them upon us. It is
he who has conducted hither this Jew who has been the instrument of
our discovering this treasure. Let us offer our thanks to Allah, and
let us give to Ephraim that which is meet and right."

"Be that as thou only wilt," said Mohammed with a preoccupied air.
"Thou art just and righteous, and thy thoughts are pure in the sight
of Allah."

Yousouf paid no great heed to this friendly eulogium, but continued
gaily:

"Since thou permittest me to be the sole arbiter in the affair, this
is my decision."

Then, turning towards Ephraim: "Thou shalt be more or less
recompensed," said he, "according to the candour with which thou
repliest to my question. Come, then, answer me truly, hast thou
really, thanks to the singular form of thy nose, so fine a sense of
smell as to be able to trace any metal whatever, either under ground
or elsewhere?"

"Yes," said the Jew, "I possess this rare faculty, thanks to my nose;
and to give thee a farther proof of it, I declare that I can again
scent in this spot in the wall a sum of gold and silver, the exact
amount of which I cannot enumerate."

Mohammed turned pale at these words. "In this wall?" said he.

"Yes. Suffer me to make a little hole with this gimlet here, and you
will see if I speak falsely."

"Dig where thou wilt," replied Yousouf; "we have no right to prevent
thee after the discovery thou hast just made here."

The Jew instantly set to work at the wall, but it was now his turn to
be astonished, for the wall, hollow it is true, was guiltless of gold
or silver either.

Yousouf burst out laughing at the disconcerted and stupified look of
the old Jew.

"Never mind," said he, "thy nose has deceived thee for once; but thou
must not let that discourage thee. Still, hadst thou frankly told me
that as a friend of old Nathan Cohen thou knewest where he had hidden
his treasure, in return for thy confidence I should have given thee a
quarter of what thou hast found; but since thou hast persisted in
assuring me that thy nose is gifted with supernatural powers, I shall
give thee much less. Besides, with such a nose as thine no one can
doubt but thy fortune is made."

"Ah!" cried the Jew, clasping his withered and wrinkled hands,
"Yousouf! Yousouf! since thou art good and just, as Mohammed says,
take pity on my poverty; it impelled me to deal falsely with thee; I
confess it now; and spite of its singular form, my nose has nothing
but what is common to other noses. Accord then to my tardy sincerity
that which thou wouldst at first have given me."

Yousouf consulted Mohammed again, who replied thus:

"Thou art just and pious; act according to thy own desire."

Yousouf then counted out to the old Jew the fourth part of what he had
just found, thus rendering him happy for the remainder of his days.

Then, finding himself alone with his friend, he began to divide into
two equal parts the gold and silver which remained.

"Give me none! give me none, Yousouf!" exclaimed Mohammed, "I am no
longer deserving of thy friendship."

"Thou!" said Yousouf, "art thou mad? what sayst thou?"

"I speak the melancholy truth," cried Mohammed; "I have not a noble
heart like thine. Some time since I discovered in the wall the gold
and silver which the Jew thought to find there; but instead of saying
as thou hast done, 'I will share it with my friend,' I put off from
day to day the fulfilment of this sacred duty. Ah, Yousouf, I am
unworthy of thy friendship, and am very unhappy!"

Yousouf remained silent for a few moments, but soon his brow grew
clear, and a pleasing smile diffused itself over his features and
illuminated his fine dark eyes.

"What man," said he, "is entirely master over his own thoughts? Thou
didst hesitate, sayst thou, before confiding to me the discovery thou
hadst made. That may be, but thou wouldst not have failed to do so at
last. Thou wouldst never have been able to behold thyself rich,
knowing me to be poor, and to sit at a feast whilst I lived upon black
bread. Thou didst not thoroughly understand the wants and feelings of
thy heart: that is all. Thou didst not at once perceive wherein lies
true happiness, for which reason thou hast caused thyself much
uneasiness. It is over now; our friendship has been tried by gold;
nothing remains for us but to enjoy the good fortune that has befallen
us. Let us seek to do so like wise men, and never let us forget to set
apart for the poor a portion of that which Allah has bestowed upon
us."

The two friends agreed therefore to give a hundred doubloons to the
poor of the great mosque. Then with the rest of their treasure they
purchased a beautiful country house not far from the sea, on the coast
of Punta Pescada. There they lived happily for many long years, always
admired and esteemed for their mutual affection, and for the goodness
of their hearts; for, strange to say, their sudden and unexpected
change of fortune never served to render them callous to the poor, nor
indifferent to the wants and troubles of their fellow-creatures.



VII.

THE STORY OF THE TREASURES OF BASRA.


All historians agree that the caliph Haroun-al-Raschid would have been
the most perfect prince of his time, as he was also the most powerful,
if he had not so often given way both to anger and to an insupportable
vanity. He was always saying that no prince in the world was so
generous as himself. Giafar, his chief vizir, being at last quite
disgusted with his boasting, took the liberty to say to him one day,
"Oh, my sovereign lord, monarch of the world, pardon your slave if he
dares to represent to you that you ought not thus to praise yourself.
Leave that to your subjects and the crowds of strangers who frequent
your court. Content yourself with the knowledge that the former thank
heaven for being born in your dominions, and that the latter
congratulate themselves on having quitted their country to come and
live under your laws." Haroun was very angry at these words; he looked
sternly at his vizir, and asked him if he knew any one who could be
compared to himself in generosity.

"Yes, my lord," answered Giafar, "there is in the town of Basra a
young man named Aboulcassem, who, though a private individual, lives
in more magnificence than kings, and without excepting even your
majesty, no prince is more generous than this man."

The caliph reddened at these words, his eyes flashed with anger. "Do
you know," he said, "that a subject who has the audacity to lie to his
master merits death?"

"I have said nothing but the truth," replied the vizir. "During my
last visit to Basra I saw this Aboulcassem; I stayed at his house; my
eyes, though accustomed to your treasures, were surprised at his
riches, and I was charmed with the generosity of his manners."

At these words the impetuous Haroun could no longer contain his anger.
"You are most insolent," he cried, "to place a private individual on
an equality with myself! Your imprudence shall not remain unpunished."

So saying, he made a sign for the captain of his guards to approach,
and commanded him to arrest the vizir Giafar. He then went to the
apartment of the princess Zobeide his wife, who grew pale with fear on
seeing his irritated countenance.

"What is the matter, my lord?" said she; "what causes you to be thus
agitated?"

Haroun told her all that had passed, and complained of his vizir in
terms that soon made Zobeide comprehend how enraged he was with the
minister. This wise princess advised him to suspend his resentment,
and send some one to Basra to ascertain the truth of Giafar's
assertion; if it was false, she argued, the vizir should be punished;
on the contrary, if it proved true, which she could not believe, it
was not just to treat him as a criminal. This discourse calmed the
fury of the caliph.

"I approve of this counsel, madam," said he, "and will acknowledge
that I owe this justice to such a minister as Giafar. I will do still
more; as any other person I charged with this office might, from an
aversion to my vizir, give me a false statement, I will myself go to
Basra and judge of the truth of this report. I will make acquaintance
with this young man, whose generosity is thus extolled; if Giafar has
told me true, I will load him with benefits instead of punishing him
for his frankness; but I swear he shall forfeit his life if I find he
has told me a falsehood."

As soon as Haroun had formed this resolution he thought of nothing but
how to execute it. One night he secretly left the palace, mounted his
horse, and left the city, not wishing any one to follow him, though
Zobeide entreated him not to go alone. Arriving at Basra, he
dismounted at the first caravansary he found on entering the city, the
landlord of which seemed a good old man.

"Father," said Haroun, "is it true that there is in this city a young
man called Aboulcassem, who surpasses even kings in magnificence and
generosity?"

"Yes, my lord," answered the landlord; "and if I had a hundred mouths,
and in each mouth a hundred tongues, I could not relate to you all his
generous actions." As the caliph had now need of some repose, he
retired to rest after partaking of a slight refreshment. He was up
very early in the morning, and walked about until sunrise. Then he
approached a tailor's shop and asked for the dwelling of Aboulcassem.
"From what country do you come?" said the tailor; "most certainly you
have never been at Basra before, or you would have heard where the
lord Aboulcassem lives; why, his house is better known than the palace
of the king."

The caliph answered, "I am a stranger; I know no one in this city, and
I shall be obliged if you will conduct me to this lord's house."

Upon that the tailor ordered one of his boys to show the caliph the
way to the residence of Aboulcassem. It was a large house built of
stone, with a doorway of marble and jasper. The prince entered the
court, where there was a crowd of servants and liberated slaves who
were amusing themselves in different ways while they awaited the
orders of their master. He approached one of them and said, "Friend, I
wish you would take the trouble to go to the lord Aboulcassem and tell
him a stranger wishes to see him." The domestic judged from the
appearance of Haroun that he was no common man. He ran to apprise his
master, who coming into the court took the stranger by the hand and
conducted him to a very beautiful saloon. The caliph then told the
young man, that having heard him mentioned in terms of praise, he had
become desirous of seeing him, and had travelled to Basra for that
purpose. Aboulcassem modestly replied to this compliment, and seating
his guest on a sofa, asked of what country and profession he was, and
where he lodged at Basra.

"I am a merchant of Bagdad," replied the caliph, "and I have taken a
lodging at the first caravansary I found on my arrival."

After they had conversed for a short time there entered twelve pages
bearing vases of agate and rock crystal, enriched with precious
stones, and full of the most exquisite beverages. They were followed
by twelve very beautiful female slaves, some carrying china bowls
filled with fruit and flowers, and others golden caskets containing
conserves of an exquisite flavour. The pages presented their beverages
to the caliph; the prince tasted them, and though accustomed to the
most delicious that could be obtained in the East, he acknowledged
that he had never tasted better. As it was now near the hour for
dinner, Aboulcassem conducted his guest to another room, where they
found a table covered with the choicest delicacies served on dishes of
massive gold. The repast finished, the young man took the caliph by
the hand and led him to a third room more richly furnished than the
two others. Here the slaves brought a prodigious quantity of gold
vases, enriched with rubies, filled with all sorts of rare wines, and
china plates containing dried sweetmeats. While the host and his guest
were partaking of these delicious wines there entered singers and
musicians, who commenced a concert, with which Haroun was enchanted.
"I have," he said to himself, "the most admirable voices in _my_
palace, but I must confess they cannot bear comparison with these. I
do not understand how a private individual can live in such
magnificence."

Amongst the voices there was one in particular the extraordinary
sweetness of which attracted the attention of the prince, and whilst
he was absorbed in listening to it Aboulcassem left the room and
returned a moment after holding in one hand a wand, and in the other a
little tree whose stem was of silver, the branches and leaves
emeralds, and the fruit rubies. On the top of this tree was a golden
peacock beautifully executed, the body of which was filled with amber,
essence of aloes, and other perfumes. He placed this tree at the
caliph's feet; then striking the head of the peacock with his wand,
the bird extended its wings and tail, and moved itself quickly to the
right and left, whilst at each movement of its body the most
odoriferous perfumes filled the apartment. The caliph was so
astonished and delighted that he could not take his eyes off the tree
and the peacock, and he was just going to express his admiration when
Aboulcassem suddenly took them away. Haroun was offended at this, and
said to himself, "What does all this mean? It appears to me this young
man does not merit so much praise. He takes away the tree and the
peacock when he sees me occupied in looking at them more than he
likes. Is he afraid I want him to make me a present? I fear Giafar is
mistaken in calling him a generous man." He was thus thinking when
Aboulcassem returned accompanied by a little page as beautiful as the
sun. This lovely child was dressed in gold brocade covered with pearls
and diamonds. He held in his hand a cup made of one single ruby, and
filled with wine of a purple colour. He approached the caliph, and
prostrating himself to the ground, presented the cup. The prince
extended his hand to receive it, but, wonderful to relate, he
perceived on giving back the cup to the page, that though he had
emptied the cup, it was still quite full. He put it again to his lips
and emptied it to the very last drop. He then placed it again in the
hands of the page, and at the same moment saw it filling without any
one approaching it. The surprise of Haroun was extreme at this
wonderful circumstance, which made him forget the tree and the
peacock. He asked how it was accomplished. "My lord," said
Aboulcassem, "it is the work of an ancient sage who was acquainted
with most of the secrets of nature;" and then, taking the page by the
hand, he precipitately left the apartment. The caliph was indignant at
this behaviour. "I see how it is," said he, "this young man has lost
his senses. He brings me all these curiosities of his own accord, he
presents them to my view, and when he perceives my admiration, he
instantly removes his treasures. I never experienced treatment so
ridiculous or uncourteous. Ah, Giafar! I thought you a better judge of
men."

In this manner they continued amusing themselves till sunset. Then
Haroun said to the young man, "Oh, generous Aboulcassem, I am confused
with the reception you have given me; permit me now to retire and
leave you to repose." The young lord of Basra not wishing to
inconvenience his guest, politely saluted him, and conducted him to
the door of the house, apologizing for not having received him in a
more magnificent style. "I quite acknowledge," said the caliph on
returning to his caravansary, "that for magnificence Aboulcassem
surpasses kings, but for generosity, there my vizir was wrong in
placing him in comparison with myself; for what present has he made me
during my visit? I was lavish in my praises of the tree, the cup, and
the page, and I should have thought my admiration would have induced
him to offer me, at least, one of these things. No, this man is
ostentatious; he feels a pleasure in displaying his riches to the eyes
of strangers. And why? Only to satisfy his pride and vanity. In
reality he is a miser, and I ought not to pardon Giafar for thus
deceiving me." Whilst making these disagreeable reflections on his
minister, he arrived at the caravansary. But what was his astonishment
on finding there silken carpets, magnificent tents, a great number of
servants, slaves, horses, mules, camels, and besides all these, the
tree and the peacock, and the page with his cup? The domestics
prostrated themselves before him, and presented a roll of silk paper,
on which were written these words, "Dear and amiable guest, I have
not, perhaps, shown you the respect which is your due; I pray you to
forget any appearance of neglect in my manner of receiving you, and do
not distress me by refusing the little presents I have sent you. As to
the tree, the peacock, the page, and the cup, since they please you,
they are yours already, for any thing that delights my guests ceases
to be mine from that instant." When the caliph had finished reading
this letter, he was astounded at the liberality of Aboulcassem, and
remembered how wrongly he had judged the young man. "A thousand
blessings," cried he, "on my vizir Giafar! He has caused me to be
undeceived. Ah, Haroun, never again boast of being the most
magnificent and generous of men! one of your subjects surpasses you.
But how is a private individual able to make such presents? I ought to
have asked where he amassed such riches; I was wrong not to have
questioned him on this point: I must not return to Bagdad without
investigating this affair. Besides, it concerns me to know why there
is a man in my dominions who leads a more princely life than myself. I
must see him again, and try to discover by what means he has acquired
such an immense fortune."

Impatient to satisfy his curiosity, he left his new servants in the
caravansary, and returned immediately to the young man's residence.
When he found himself in his presence he said, "Oh, too amiable
Aboulcassem, the presents you have made me are so valuable, that I
fear I cannot accept them without abusing your generosity. Permit me
to send them back before I return to Bagdad, and publish to the world
your magnificence and generous hospitality." "My lord," answered the
young man with a mortified air, "you certainly must have had reason to
complain of the unhappy Aboulcassem; I fear some of his actions have
displeased you, since you reject his presents; you would not have done
me this injury, if you were satisfied with me."

"No," replied the prince, "heaven is my witness that I am enchanted
with your politeness; but your presents are too costly; they surpass
those of kings, and if I dared tell you what I think, you would be
less prodigal with your riches, and remember that they may soon be
exhausted."

Aboulcassem smiled at these words and said to the caliph, "My lord, I
am very glad to learn that it is not to punish me for having committed
any fault against yourself that you wished to refuse my presents; and
now to oblige you to accept them, I will tell you that every day I can
make the same and even more magnificent ones without inconveniencing
myself. I see," added he, "that this astonishes you, but you will
cease to be surprised when I have told you all the adventures which
have happened to me. It is necessary that I should thus confide in
you."

Upon this he conducted Haroun to a room a thousand times richer and
more ornamented than any of the others. The most exquisite essences
perfumed this apartment, in which was a throne of gold placed on the
richest carpets. Haroun could not believe he was in the house of a
subject; he imagined he must be in the abode of a prince infinitely
more powerful than himself. The young man made him mount the throne,
and placing himself by his side, commenced the history of his life.


HISTORY OF ABOULCASSEM.

I am the son of a jeweller of Cairo, named Abdelaziz. He possessed
such immense riches, that fearing to draw upon himself the envy or
avarice of the sultan of Egypt, he quitted his native country and
established himself at Basra, where he married the only daughter of
the richest merchant in that city. I am the only child of that
marriage, so that inheriting the estates of both my parents I became
possessed on their death of a very splendid fortune. But I was young,
I liked extravagance, and having wherewith to exercise my liberal
propensities, or rather my prodigality, I lived with so much
profusion, that in less than three years my fortune was dissipated.
Then, like all who repent of their foolish conduct, I made the most
promising resolutions for the future.

After the life I had led at Basra, I thought it better to leave that
place, for it seemed to me my misery would be more supportable among
strangers. Accordingly I sold my house, and left the city before
daybreak. When it was light I perceived a caravan of merchants who had
encamped on a spot of ground near me. I joined them, and as they were
on their road to Bagdad, where I also wished to go, I departed with
them; I arrived there without accident, but soon found myself in a
very miserable situation. I was without money, and of all my large
fortune there remained but one gold sequin. In order to do something
for a living I changed my sequin into aspres, and purchased some
preserved apples, sweetmeats, balms, and roses. With these I went
every day to the house of a merchant where many persons of rank and
others were accustomed to assemble and converse together. I presented
to them in a basket what I had to sell. Each took what he liked, and
never failed to remunerate me, so that by this little commerce I
contrived to live very comfortably. One day as I was as usual selling
flowers at the merchant's house, there was seated in a corner of the
room an old man, of whom I took no notice, and on perceiving that I
did not address him, he called me and said, "My friend, how comes it
that you do not offer your merchandise to me as well as the others? Do
you take me for a dishonest man, or imagine that my purse is empty?"

"My lord," answered I, "I pray you pardon me. All that I have is at
your service, I ask nothing for it." At the same time I offered him my
basket; he took some perfume, and told me to sit down by him. I did
so, and he asked me a number of questions, who I was, and what was my
name.

"Excuse me satisfying your curiosity," said I, sighing; "I cannot do
so without reopening wounds which time is beginning to heal."

These words, or the tone in which I uttered them, prevented the old
man from questioning me further. He changed the discourse, and after a
long conversation, on rising to depart he took out his purse and gave
me ten gold sequins. I was greatly surprised at this liberality. The
wealthiest lords to whom I had been accustomed to present my basket
had never given me even one sequin, and I could not tell what to make
of this man.

On the morrow, when I returned to the merchants, I again found my old
friend; and for many days he continued to attract my attention. At
length, one day, as I was addressing him after he had taken a little
balm from my basket, he made me again sit by him, and pressed me so
earnestly to relate my history, that I could not refuse him. I
informed him of all that had happened to me; after this confidence he
said:

"Young man, I knew your father. I am a merchant of Basra; I have no
child, and have conceived a friendship for you; I will adopt you as my
son, therefore console yourself for your past misfortunes. You have
found a father richer by far than Abdelaziz, and who will have as much
affection for you." I thanked the venerable old man for the honour he
did me, and followed him as he left the house. He made me throw away
my basket of flowers, and conducted me to a large mansion that he had
hired. There I was lodged in a spacious apartment with slaves to wait
on me, and by his order they brought me rich clothes. One would have
thought my father Abdelaziz again lived, and it seemed as if I had
never known sorrow. When the merchant had finished the business that
detained him at Bagdad,--namely, when he had sold the merchandise he
brought with him,--we both took the road to Basra. My friends, who
never thought to see me again, were not a little surprised to hear I
had been adopted by a man who passed for the richest merchant in the
city. I did my best to please the old man. He was charmed with my
behaviour. "Aboulcassem," he often said to me, "I am enchanted that I
met you at Bagdad. You appear worthy of all I have done for you." I
was touched with the kindness he evinced for me, and far from abusing
it, endeavoured to do all I could to please my kind benefactor.
Instead of seeking companions of my own age, I always kept in his
company, scarcely ever leaving him. At last this good old man fell
sick, and the physicians despaired of his life. When he was at the
last extremity he made all but myself leave him, and then said, "Now
is the time, my son, to reveal to you a most important secret. If I
had only this house with all its riches to bequeath, I should leave
you but a moderate fortune; but all that I have amassed during the
course of my life, though considerable for a merchant, is nothing in
comparison to the treasure that is concealed here, and which I am now
about to reveal to you. I shall not tell you how long ago, by whom, or
in what manner it was found, for I am ignorant of that myself; all I
know is, that my grandfather, when dying, told the secret to my
father, who also made me acquainted with it a few days before his
death. But," continued he, "I have one advice to give you, and take
care you do not slight it. You are naturally generous. When you are at
liberty to follow your own inclinations, you will no doubt be lavish
of your riches. You will receive with magnificence any strangers who
may come to your house. You will load them with presents, and will do
good to all who implore your assistance. This conduct, which I much
approve of if you can keep it within bounds, will at last be the cause
of your ruin. The splendour of your establishment will excite the envy
of the king of Basra, and the avarice of his ministers. They will
suspect you of having some hidden treasure. They will spare no means
to discover it, and will imprison you. To prevent this misfortune, you
have only to follow my example. I have always, as well as my
grandfather and father, carried on my business and enjoyed this
treasure without ostentation; we have never indulged in any
extravagance calculated to surprise the world."

I faithfully promised the merchant I would imitate his prudence. He
told me where I should find the treasure, and assured me that whatever
idea I might have formed of its splendour, I should find the reality
far exceed my expectations. At last, when the generous old man died,
I, as his sole heir, performed for him the last offices, and, taking
possession of his property, of which this house is a part, proceeded
at once to see this treasure. I confess to you, my lord, that I was
thunderstruck. I found it to be, if not inexhaustible, at least so
vast that I could never expend it, even if heaven were to permit me to
live beyond the age of man. My resolution therefore was at once
formed, and instead of keeping the promise I made to the old merchant,
I spend my riches freely. It is my boast that there is no one in Basra
who has not benefited by my generosity. My house is open to all who
desire my aid, and they leave it perfectly contented. Do you call it
_possessing_ a treasure if it must not be touched? And can I make a
better use of it than by endeavouring to relieve the unhappy, to
receive strangers with liberality, and to lead a life of generosity
and charity? Every one thought I should be ruined a second time.

"If Aboulcassem," said they, "had all the treasures of the commander
of the faithful, he would spend them."

But they were much astonished, when, instead of seeing my affairs in
disorder, they, on the contrary, appeared every day to become more
flourishing. No one could imagine how my fortune increased, while I
was thus squandering it. As the old man predicted, a feeling of envy
was excited against me. A rumour prevailed that I had found a
treasure. This was sufficient to attract the attention of a number of
persons greedy of gain. The lieutenant of police at Basra came to see
me.

"I am," said he, "the daroga, and am come to demand where the treasure
is which enables you to live in such magnificence."

I trembled at these words, and remained silent. He guessed from my
confused air that his suspicions were not without foundation; but
instead of compelling me to discover my treasure, "My lord
Aboulcassem," continued he, "I exercise my office as a man of sense.
Make me some present worthy of my discretion in this affair, and I
will retire."

"How much do you ask?" said I.

"I will content myself with ten gold sequins a day."

"That is not enough--I will give you a hundred. You have only to come
here every day or every month, and my treasurer will count them out
to you."

The lieutenant of police was transported with joy at hearing these
words. "My lord," said he, "I wish that you could find a thousand
treasures. Enjoy your fortune in peace; I shall never dispute your
possession of it." Then taking a large sum of money in advance he went
his way.

A short time after the vizir Aboulfatah-Waschi sent for me, and,
taking me into his cabinet, said:

"Young man, I hear you have discovered a treasure. You know the fifth
part belongs to God; you must give it to the king. Pay the fifth, and
you shall remain the quiet possessor of the other four parts."

I answered him thus: "My lord, I acknowledge that I _have_ found a
treasure, but I swear to you at the same time that I will confess
nothing, though I should be torn in pieces. But I promise to give you
every day a thousand gold sequins, provided you leave me in peace."

Aboulfatah was as tractable as the lieutenant of police. He sent his
confidential servant, and my treasurer gave him thirty thousand
sequins for the first month. This vizir, fearing no doubt that the
king of Basra would hear of what had passed, thought it better to
inform him himself of the circumstance. The prince listened very
attentively, and thinking the affair required investigating, sent to
summon me. He received me with a smiling countenance, saying:

"Approach, young man, and answer me what I shall ask you. Why do you
not show me your treasure? Do you think me so unjust, that I shall
take it from you?"

"Sire," replied I, "may the life of your majesty be prolonged for
ages; but if you commanded my flesh to be torn with burning pincers I
would not discover my treasure; I consent every day to pay to your
majesty two thousand gold sequins. If you refuse to accept them, and
think proper that I should die, you have only to order it; but I am
ready to suffer all imaginable torments, sooner than satisfy your
curiosity."

The king looked at his vizir as I said this, and demanded his opinion.

"Sire," said the minister, "the sum he offers you is considerable--it
is of itself a real treasure. Send the young man back, only let him be
careful to keep his word with your majesty."

The king followed this advice; he loaded me with caresses, and from
that time, according to my agreement, I pay every year to the prince,
the vizir, and the lieutenant of police, more than one million sixty
thousand gold sequins. This, my lord, is all I have to tell you. You
will now no longer be surprised at the presents I have made you, nor
at what you have seen in my house.


CONCLUSION OF THE STORY OF THE TREASURES OF BASRA.

When Aboulcassem had finished the recital of his adventures, the
caliph, animated with a violent desire to see the treasure, said to
him, "Is it possible that there is in the world a treasure that your
generosity can never exhaust? No! I cannot believe it, and if it was
not exacting too much from you, my lord, I would ask to see what you
possess, and I swear never to reveal what you may confide to me." The
son of Abdelaziz appeared grieved at this speech of the caliph's. "I
am sorry, my lord," he said, "that you have conceived this curiosity;
I cannot satisfy it but upon very disagreeable conditions."

"Never mind," said the prince, "whatever the conditions, I submit
without repugnance."

"It is necessary," said Aboulcassem, "that I blindfold your eyes, and
conduct you unarmed and bareheaded, with my drawn scimitar in my hand,
ready to cut you to pieces at any moment, if you violate the laws of
hospitality. I know very well I am acting imprudently, and ought not
to yield to your wishes; but I rely on your promised secrecy, and
besides that, I cannot bear to send away a guest dissatisfied."

"In pity then satisfy my curiosity," said the caliph.

"That cannot be just yet," replied the young man, "but remain here
this night, and when my domestics are gone to rest I will come and
conduct you from your apartment."

He then called his people, and by the light of a number of wax tapers,
carried by slaves in gold flambeaux, he led the prince to a
magnificent chamber, and then retired to his own. The slaves disrobed
the caliph, and left him to repose, after placing at the head and foot
of his bed their lighted tapers, whose perfumed wax emitted an
agreeable odour. Instead of taking any rest, Haroun-al-Raschid
impatiently awaited the appearance of Aboulcassem, who did not fail to
come for him towards the middle of the night. "My lord," he said, "all
my servants are asleep. A profound silence reigns in my house. I will
now show you my treasure upon the conditions I named to you."

"Let us go then," said the caliph. "I am ready to follow you, and I
again swear that you will not repent thus satisfying my curiosity."

The son of Abdelaziz aided the prince to dress; then putting a bandage
over his eyes, he said, "I am sorry, my lord, to be obliged to treat
you thus; your appearance and your manners seem worthy of confidence,
but--"

"I approve of these precautions," interrupted the caliph, "and I do
not take them in ill part."

Aboulcassem then made him descend by a winding staircase into a garden
of vast extent, and after many turnings they entered the place where
the treasure was concealed. It was a deep and spacious cavern closed
at the entrance by a stone. Passing through this they entered a long
alley, very dark and steep, at the end of which was a large saloon,
brilliantly lighted by carbuncles. When they arrived at this room the
young man unbound the caliph's eyes, and the latter gazed with
astonishment on the scene before him. A basin of white marble, fifty
feet in circumference and thirty feet deep, stood in the middle of the
apartment. It was full of large pieces of gold, and ranged round it
were twelve columns of the same metal, supporting as many statues
composed of precious stones of admirable workmanship. Aboulcassem
conducted the prince to the edge of the basin and said to him, "This
basin is thirty feet deep. Look at that mass of gold pieces. They are
scarcely diminished the depth of two fingers. Do you think I shall
soon spend all this?"

Haroun, after attentively looking at the basin, replied: "Here are, I
confess, immense riches, but you still may exhaust them."

"Well," said the young man, "when this basin is empty I shall have
recourse to what I am now going to show you."

He then proceeded to another room, more brilliant still, where on a
number of red brocaded sofas were immense quantities of pearls and
diamonds. Here was also another marble basin, not so large or so deep
as that filled with gold pieces, but to make up for this, full of
rubies, topazes, emeralds, and all sorts of precious stones. Never was
surprise equal to that of the caliph's. He could scarcely believe he
was awake, this new basin seemed like enchantment. His gaze was still
fixed on it, when Aboulcassem made him observe two persons seated on a
throne of gold, who he said were the first masters of the treasure.
They were a prince and princess, having on their heads crowns of
diamonds. They appeared as if still alive, and were in a reclining
posture, their heads leaning against each other. At their feet was a
table of ebony, on which were written these words in letters of gold:
"I have amassed all these riches during the course of a long life. I
have taken and pillaged towns and castles, have conquered kingdoms and
overthrown my enemies. I have been the most powerful monarch in the
world, but all my power has yielded to that of death. Whoever sees me
in this state ought to reflect upon it. Let him remember that once I
was living, and that he also must die. He need not fear diminishing
this treasure: it will never be exhausted. Let him endeavour so to use
it as to make friends both for this world and the next. Let him lead a
life of generosity and charity, for in the end he must also die. His
riches cannot save him from the fate common to all men."

"I will no longer disapprove of your conduct," said Haroun to the
young man on reading these words; "you are right in living as you now
do, and I condemn the advice given you by the old merchant. But I
should like to know the name of this prince. What king could have
possessed such riches? I am sorry this inscription does not inform
us."

The young man next took the caliph to see another room in which also
there were many rarities of even greater value than what he had seen,
amongst others several trees like the one he had given the prince.
Haroun would willingly have passed the remainder of the night admiring
all that was contained in this wonderful cavern, but the son of
Abdelaziz, fearing to be observed by his servants, wished to return
before daybreak in the same manner as they came, namely, the caliph
blindfolded and bareheaded, and Aboulcassem with his scimitar in his
hand, ready to cut off the prince's head if he made the least
resistance. In this order they traversed the garden, and ascended by
the winding stairs to the room where the caliph had slept. Finding the
tapers still burning, they conversed together till sunrise; the caliph
then, with many thanks for the reception he had received, returned to
the caravansary, from whence he took the road to Bagdad, with all the
domestics and presents he had accepted from Aboulcassem.

Two days after the prince's departure, the vizir Aboulfatah, hearing
of the magnificent gifts that Aboulcassem made to strangers when they
came to see him, and above all astonished at the regularity of his
payments to the king, the lieutenant, and himself, resolved to spare
no means to discover the treasure from which he drew such
inexhaustible supplies. This minister was one of those wicked men to
whom the greatest crimes are nothing, when they wish to gain their own
ends. He had a daughter eighteen years of age, and of surpassing
beauty. She was named Balkis, and possessed every good quality of
heart and mind. Prince Aly, nephew of the king of Basra, passionately
loved her; he had already demanded her of her father, and they were
soon to be married. Aboulfatah summoned Balkis one day to his presence
and said: "My daughter, I have great need of your assistance. I wish
you to array yourself in your richest robes, and go this evening to
the house of the young Aboulcassem. You must do every thing to charm
him, and oblige him to discover the treasure he has found."

Balkis trembled at this speech; her countenance expressed the horror
she felt at this command. "My lord," said she, "what is it you propose
to your daughter? Do you know the peril to which you may expose her?
Consider the stain on your honour, and the outrage against the prince
Aly."

"I have considered all this," answered the vizir, "but nothing will
turn me from my resolution, and I order you to prepare to obey me."

The young Balkis burst into tears at these words. "For heaven's sake,
my father," said the weeping girl, "stifle this feeling of avarice,
seek not to despoil this man of what is his own. Leave him to enjoy
his riches in peace."

"Be silent, insolent girl!" said the vizir angrily, "it does not
become you to blame my actions. Answer me not. I desire you to repair
to the house of Aboulcassem, and I swear that if you return without
having seen his treasure, I will kill you."

Balkis, hearing this dreadful alternative, retired to her apartment
overwhelmed with grief; she called her women, and made them attire her
in the richest apparel and most costly ornaments, though in reality
she needed nothing to enhance her natural beauty. No young girl was
less desirous to please than Balkis. All she feared was appearing too
beautiful in the eyes of the son of Abdelaziz, and not sufficiently so
to prince Aly.

At length, when night arrived and Aboulfatah judged it time for his
daughter to go, he secretly conducted her to the door of the young
man's house, where he left her, after again declaring he would kill
her if she returned unsuccessful. She timidly knocked and desired to
speak to the son of Abdelaziz. A slave led her to a room where his
master was reposing on a sofa, musing on the vicissitudes of his past
life. As soon as Balkis appeared Aboulcassem rose to receive his
visitor; he gravely saluted her, and, taking her hand with a
respectful air, seated her on a sofa, at the same time inquiring why
she honoured him by this visit. She answered, that hearing of his
agreeable manners, she had resolved to spend an evening in his
company.

"Beautiful lady," said he, "I must thank my lucky star for procuring
me this delightful interview; I cannot express my happiness."

After some conversation supper was announced. They seated themselves
at a table covered with choice delicacies. A great number of officers
and pages were in attendance, but Aboulcassem dismissed them that the
lady might not be exposed to their curious looks. He waited on her
himself, presenting her with the best of every thing, and offering her
wine in a gold cup enriched with diamonds and rubies. But all these
polite attentions served but to increase the lady's uneasiness; and at
length, frightened at the dangers which menaced her, she suddenly
changed countenance and became pale as death, whilst her eyes filled
with tears.

"What is it, madam?" said the young man much surprised; "why this
sudden grief? Have I said or done any thing to cause your tears to
flow? Speak, I implore you; inform me of the cause of your sorrow."

"Oh, Mahomet!" exclaimed Balkis, "I can dissimulate no longer; the
part I am acting is insupportable. I have deceived you, Aboulcassem; I
am a lady of rank. My father, who knows you have a hidden treasure,
wishes me to discover where you have concealed it. He has ordered me
to come here and spare no means to induce you to show it me. I refused
to do so, but he has sworn to kill me if I return without being able
to satisfy his curiosity. What an unhappy fate is mine! If I was not
beloved by a prince who will soon marry me, this cruel vow of my
father's would not appear so terrible."

When the daughter of Aboulfatah had thus spoken, Aboulcassem said to
her, "Madam, I am very glad you have informed me of this. You will not
repent your noble frankness; you shall see my treasure, and be treated
with all the respect you may desire. Do not weep, therefore, or any
longer afflict yourself."

"Ah, my lord," exclaimed Balkis at this speech, "it is not without
reason that you pass for the most generous of men. I am charmed with
your noble conduct, and shall not be satisfied until I have found
means to testify my gratitude."

After this conversation Aboulcassem conducted the lady to the same
chamber that the caliph had occupied, where they remained until all
was quiet in the dwelling. Then blindfolding the eyes of Balkis he
said, "Pardon me, madam, for being obliged to act thus, but it is only
on this condition that I can show you my treasure."

"Do what you please, my lord," answered Balkis; "I have so much
confidence in your generosity that I will follow wherever you desire;
I have no fear but that of not sufficiently repaying your kindness."

Aboulcassem then took her by the hand, and causing her to descend to
the garden by the winding stairs, he entered the cavern and removed
the bandage from her eyes. If the caliph had been surprised to see
such heaps of gold and precious stones, Balkis was still more so.
Every thing she saw astonished her. But the objects that most
attracted her attention were the ancient owners of the treasure. As
the queen had on a necklace composed of pearls as large as pigeons'
eggs, Balkis could not avoid expressing her admiration. Aboulcassem
detached it from the neck of the princess, and placed it round that of
the young lady, saying her father would judge from this that she had
seen the treasure; he then, after much persuasion, made her take a
large quantity of precious stones which he himself chose for her.

The young man then, fearing the day would dawn whilst she was looking
at the wonders of the cavern, again placed the bandage over her eyes,
and conducted her to a saloon where they conversed together until
sunrise. Balkis then took leave, repeatedly assuring the son of
Abdelaziz that she would never forget his generous conduct.

She hastened to her father's and informed him of all that had passed.
The vizir had been impatiently awaiting his daughter's return. Fearing
she might not be sufficiently able to charm Aboulcassem, he remained
in a state of inconceivable agitation. But when he saw her enter with
the necklace and precious stones that Aboulcassem had given her, he
was transported with joy.

"Well, my daughter," he said, "have you seen the treasure?"

"Yes, my lord," answered Balkis, "and to give you a just idea of its
magnitude, I tell you that if all the kings of the world were to unite
their riches, they could not be compared to those of Aboulcassem. But
still, however vast this young man's treasures, I am less charmed with
them than with his politeness and generosity." And she then related to
her father the whole of her adventure.

In the mean time Haroun-al-Raschid was advancing towards Bagdad. As
soon as he arrived at his palace he set his chief vizir at liberty,
and restored him to his confidence. He then proceeded to relate to him
the events of his journey, and ended by asking, "Giafar, what shall I
do? You know the gratitude of monarchs ought to surpass the pleasures
they have received. If I should send the magnificent Aboulcassem the
choicest and most precious treasure I possess, it will be but a slight
gift, far inferior to the presents he has made me. How then can I
surpass him in generosity?"

"My lord," replied the vizir, "since your majesty condescends to
consult me, I should write this day to the king of Basra and order him
to commit the government of the state to the young Aboulcassem. We can
soon despatch the courier, and in a few days I will depart myself to
Basra and present the patents to the new king."

The caliph approved of this advice. "You are right," he said to his
minister, "it will be the only means of acquitting myself towards
Aboulcassem, and of taking vengeance on the king of Basra and his
unworthy vizir, who have concealed from me the considerable sums they
have extorted from this young man. It is but just to punish them for
their violence against him; they are unworthy of the situations they
occupy."

He immediately wrote to the king of Basra and despatched the courier.
He then went to the apartment of the princess Zobeide to inform her of
the success of his journey, and presented her with the little page,
the tree, and the peacock. He also gave her a beautiful female slave.
Zobeide found this slave so charming that she smilingly told the
caliph she accepted this gift with more pleasure than all his other
presents. The prince kept only the cup for himself; the vizir Giafar
had all the rest; and this good minister, as he had before resolved,
made preparations for his departure from Bagdad.

The courier of the caliph no sooner arrived in the town of Basra than
he hastened to present his despatch to the king, who was greatly
concerned on reading it. The prince showed it to his vizir.
"Aboulfatah," said he, "see the fatal order that I have received from
the commander of the faithful. Can I refuse to obey it?"

"Yes, my lord," answered the minister; "do not afflict yourself.
Aboulcassem must be removed from hence. Without taking his life I will
make every one believe he is dead. I can keep him so well concealed
that he shall never be seen again; and by this means you will always
remain on the throne and possess the riches of this young man; for
when we are masters of his person we can increase his sufferings until
he is obliged to reveal where his treasure is concealed."

"Do what you like," replied the king; "but what answer shall we send
the caliph?"

"Leave that to me. The commander of the faithful will be deceived as
well as others. Let me execute the design I meditate, and the rest
need cause you no uneasiness."

Aboulfatah then, accompanied by some courtiers who were ignorant of
his intention, went to pay a visit to Aboulcassem. He received them
according to their rank, regaled them magnificently, seated the vizir
in the place of honour, and loaded him with presents without having
the least suspicion of his perfidy. Whilst they were at table and
partaking of the most delicious wines, the treacherous Aboulfatah
skilfully threw unperceived into the cup of the son of Abdelaziz a
powder which would render him insensible, and cause his body to remain
in a state of lethargy resembling that of a corpse long deprived of
life. The young man had no sooner taken the cup from his lips than he
fainted away. His servants hastened to support him, but soon
perceiving he had all the appearance of a dead man, they placed him on
a sofa and uttered the most lamentable cries. The guests, struck with
sudden terror, were silent from astonishment. As for Aboulfatah, it is
impossible to say how well he dissimulated. He not only feigned the
most immoderate grief, but tore his clothes and excited the rest of
the company to follow his example. He ordered a coffin to be made of
ivory and ebony, and while they were preparing it, he collected all
the effects of Aboulcassem and placed them in the king's palace. The
account of the young man's death soon spread abroad. All persons, men
and women, put on mourning, and came to the door of the house, their
heads and feet bare; old and young men, women and girls, were bathed
in tears, filling the air with their cries and lamentations. Some said
they had lost in him an only son, others a brother or a husband
tenderly beloved. Rich and poor were equally afflicted at his death;
the rich mourned a friend who had always welcomed them, and the poor a
benefactor whose charity had never been equalled. His death caused a
general consternation.

Meanwhile the unhappy Aboulcassem was enclosed in the coffin, and a
procession having been formed, the people, by order of Aboulfatah,
carried him out of the town to a large cemetery containing a number of
tombs, and amongst others a magnificent one where reposed the vizir's
father and many others of his family. They placed the coffin in this
tomb, and the perfidious Aboulfatah, leaning his head on his knees,
beat his breast, and gave way apparently to the most violent grief.
Those present pitied and prayed heaven to console him. As night
approached the people returned to the town, but the vizir remained
with two of his slaves in the tomb, the door of which he shut and
double locked. They lit a fire, warmed some water in a silver basin,
and taking Aboulcassem from the coffin, bathed him with the warm
water. The young man by degrees regained his senses. He cast his eyes
on Aboulfatah, whom he at once recognized. "Ah, my lord," said he,
"where are we, and to what state am I reduced?"

"Wretch!" answered the minister, "know that it is I who have caused
your misfortune. I brought you here to have you in my power, and to
make you suffer a thousand torments if you will not discover to me
your treasure. I will rack your body with tortures--will invent each
day new sufferings to render life insupportable: in a word, I will
never cease to persecute you until you deliver me those hidden
treasures which enable you to live with even more magnificence than
kings."

"You can do what you please," replied Aboulcassem; "I will never
reveal my treasure."

He had scarcely uttered these words, when the cruel Aboulfatah, making
his slaves seize the unfortunate son of Abdelaziz, drew from his robe
a whip made of twisted lion's skin, with which he struck so long and
with such violence that the young man fainted. When the vizir saw him
in this state, he commanded the slaves to replace him in the coffin,
and leaving him in the tomb, which he firmly secured, returned to his
palace.

On the morrow he went to inform the king of what he had done. "Sire,"
said he, "I tried yesterday, but in vain, to overcome the firmness of
Aboulcassem; however, I have now prepared torments for him which I
think he cannot resist."

The prince, who was quite as barbarous as his minister, said, "Vizir,
I am perfectly satisfied with all you have done. Ere long, I hope, we
shall know where this treasure is concealed. But we must send back the
courier without delay. What shall I write to the caliph?"

"Tell him, my lord, that Aboulcassem, hearing he was to occupy your
place, was so enchanted, and made such great rejoicings, that he died
suddenly at a feast."

The king approved of this advice, and writing immediately to
Haroun-al-Raschid, despatched the courier. The vizir, flattering
himself that he should at length be able to force Aboulcassem to
reveal his treasure, left the town, resolving to extract the secret or
leave him to perish. But on arriving at the tomb, he was surprised to
find the door open. He entered trembling, and not seeing the son of
Abdelaziz in the coffin, he nearly lost his senses. Returning
instantly to the palace, he related to the king what had occurred. The
monarch, seized with a mortal terror, exclaimed, "Oh, Waschi! what
will become of us? Since this young man has escaped, we are lost. He
will not fail to hasten to Bagdad, and acquaint the caliph with all
that has taken place."

Aboulfatah, on his part, in despair that the victim of his avarice was
no longer in his power, said to the king his master, "What would I now
give to have taken his life yesterday! He would not then have caused
us such uneasiness. But we will not quite despair yet; if he has taken
flight, as no doubt he has, he cannot be very far from here. Let me
take some soldiers of your guard, and search in all the environs of
the town; I hope still to find him."

The king instantly consented to so important a step. He assembled all
his soldiers, and dividing them into two bodies, gave the command of
one to his vizir, and placing himself at the head of the other,
prepared with his troops to search in all parts of his kingdom.

Whilst they were seeking Aboulcassem in the villages, woods, and
mountains, the vizir Giafar, who was already on the road to Basra, met
the courier returning, who said to him, "My lord, it is useless for
you to proceed further, if Aboulcassem is the sole cause of your
journey, for this young man is dead; his funeral took place some days
past; my eyes were witnesses of the mournful ceremony."

Giafar, who had looked forward with pleasure to see the new king, and
present his patents, was much afflicted at his death. He shed tears on
hearing the sad news, and, thinking it was useless to continue his
journey, retraced his steps. As soon as he arrived at Bagdad, he went
with the courier to the palace. The sadness of his countenance
informed the king he had some misfortune to announce.

"Ah, Giafar!" exclaimed the prince, "you have soon returned. What are
you come to tell me?'

"Commander of the faithful," answered the vizir, "you do not, I am
sure, expect to hear the bad news I am going to tell. Aboulcassem is
no more; since your departure from Basra the young man has lost his
life."

Haroun-al-Raschid had no sooner heard these words than he threw
himself from his throne. He remained some moments extended on the
ground without giving any signs of life. At length his eyes sought the
courier, who had returned from Basra, and he asked for the despatch.
The prince read it with much attention. He shut himself in his cabinet
with Giafar, and showed him the letter from the king of Basra. After
re-reading it many times, the caliph said,

"This does not appear to me natural; I begin to suspect that the king
of Basra and his vizir, instead of executing my orders, have put
Aboulcassem to death."

"My lord," said Giafar, "the same suspicion occurred to me, and I
advise that they should both be secured."

"That is what I determine from this moment," said Haroun; "take ten
thousand horsemen of my guard, march to Basra, seize the two guilty
wretches, and bring them here. I will revenge the death of this most
generous of men."

"We will now return to the son of Abdelaziz, and relate why the vizir
Aboulfatah did not find him in the tomb. The young man, after long
remaining insensible, was beginning to recover, when he felt himself
laid hold of by powerful arms, taken from the coffin, and gently laid
on the earth. He thought it was the vizir and his slaves come again on
their cruel errand.

"Executioners!" he cried, "put me to death at once; if you have any
pity spare me these useless torments, for again I declare that nothing
you can do will ever tempt me to reveal my secret."

"Fear not, young man," answered one of the persons who had lifted him
from the coffin; "instead of ill-treating you, we are come to your
assistance."

At these words Aboulcassem opened his eyes, and, looking at his
liberators, recognized the young lady to whom he had shown his
treasure.

"Ah, madam!" he said, "is it to you I owe my life?"

"Yes, my lord," answered Balkis; "to myself and prince Aly, my
betrothed, whom you see with me. Informed of your noble behaviour, he
wished to share with me the pleasure of delivering you from death."

"It is quite true," said prince Aly; "I would expose my life a
thousand times, rather than leave so generous a man to perish."

The son of Abdelaziz, having entirely recovered his senses by the help
of some cordials they had given him, expressed to the lady and the
prince his grateful thanks for the service they had rendered him, and
asked how they had been informed he still lived.

"My lord," said Balkis, "I am the daughter of the vizir Aboulfatah. I
was not deceived by the false report of your death. I suspected my
father in this affair, and, bribing one of his slaves, was informed of
all concerning you. This slave is one of the two who were with him in
the tomb, and as he had charge of the key he confided it to me for a
few hours. I no sooner made this affair known to prince Aly than he
hastened to join me with some of his confidential domestics. We lost
not a moment in coming hither, and, thanks be to heaven, we did not
arrive too late."

"Oh, Mahomet!" said Aboulcassem, "is it possible so unworthy and cruel
a father possesses such a daughter?"

"Let us depart, my lord," said prince Aly; "the time is precious. I
doubt not but that to-morrow the vizir, finding you have escaped, will
seek you in all directions. I am going to conduct you to my house,
where you will be in perfect safety, for no one will suspect me of
giving you an asylum."

They then covered Aboulcassem with a slave's robe, and all left the
tomb. Balkis proceeded to her father's, and returned the key to the
slave, whilst prince Aly took the son of Abdelaziz to his own palace,
and kept him so well concealed, that it was impossible his enemies
could discover him. Aboulcassem remained some time in prince Aly's
house, who treated him most kindly, until the king and his vizir,
despairing of finding him, gave up their search. The prince then gave
him a very beautiful horse, loaded him with sequins and precious
stones, and said to him:

"You can now safely depart; the roads are open, and your enemies know
not what is become of you. Hasten to seek a place where you will be
secure from harm."

The young man thanked this generous prince for his hospitality, and
assured him he should ever gratefully remember it. Prince Aly embraced
him, and prayed heaven to protect and watch over him on his journey.
Aboulcassem then took the road to Bagdad, and arrived there in safety
a few days afterwards. The first thing he did on entering the city was
to hasten to the place where the merchants usually assembled. The hope
of seeing there some one he had known at Basra, and of relating his
misfortunes, was his only consolation. He was vexed at being unable to
find this place, and traversing the town, sought in vain for the face
of a friend amongst the multitudes he met. Feeling fatigued, he
stopped before the caliph's palace to rest a little: the page whom he
had given to his former guest was then at a window, and the child
looking by chance that way, instantly recognized him. He ran to the
caliph's apartment.

"My lord," he exclaimed, "I have just seen my old master from Basra!"

Haroun put no faith in this report. "You are mistaken," he said;
"Aboulcassem no longer lives. Deceived by some fancied resemblance,
you have taken another for him."

"No, no, commander of the faithful; I assure you it is he: I am
certain I am not mistaken."

Though the caliph did not believe this assertion, still he wished to
fathom the mystery, and sent one of his officers with the page to see
the man the boy declared was the son of Abdelaziz. They found him in
the same place, for, imagining he had recognized his little page, he
waited till the child reappeared at the window. When the boy was
convinced he was not deceived, he threw himself at the feet of
Aboulcassem, who raised him, and asked if he had the honour of
belonging to the caliph.

"Yes, my lord," said the child; "it was to the commander of the
faithful himself--he it was whom you entertained at Basra--it was to
him that you gave me. Come with me, my lord; the caliph will be
delighted to see you."

The surprise of the young man at this speech was extreme. He allowed
himself to be conducted into the palace by the page and the officer,
and was soon ushered into the apartment of Haroun. The prince was
seated on a sofa. He was extremely affected at the sight of
Aboulcassem. He hastened towards the young man, and held him long
embraced without uttering a word, so much was he transported with joy.
When he recovered a little from his emotion he said to the son of
Abdelaziz:

"Young man, open your eyes, and recognize your happy guest. It was I
whom you received so hospitably, and to whom you gave presents that
kings could not equal."

At these words Aboulcassem, who was not less moved than the caliph,
and who from respect had drawn his cloak over his head, and had not
yet dared to look up, now uncovered his face, and said:

"Oh, my sovereign master! oh, king of the world, was it you who
honoured your slave's house?" And he threw himself at the feet of
Haroun, and kissed the floor before him.

"How is it," said the prince, raising him, and placing him on a sofa,
"that you are still alive? Tell me all that has happened to you."

[Illustration: ABOULCASSEM AND THE PAGE, p. 246.]

Aboulcassem then related the cruelties of Aboulfatah, and how he had
been preserved from the fury of that vizir. Haroun listened
attentively, and then said:

"Aboulcassem, I am the cause of your misfortunes. On my return to
Bagdad, wishing to repay my debt to you, I sent a courier to the king
of Basra, desiring him to resign his crown to you. Instead of
executing my orders, he resolved to take your life. Aboulfatah, by
putting you to the most frightful tortures, hoped to induce you to
reveal your treasures; that was the sole reason he delayed your death.
But you would have been revenged. Giafar, with a large body of my
troops, is gone to Basra. I have given him orders to seize your two
persecutors, and to bring them here. In the mean time you shall remain
in my palace, and be attended by my officers with as much respect as
myself."

After this speech he took the young man by the hand, and made him
descend to a garden, filled with the choicest flowers. There he saw
basins of marble, porphyry, and jasper, which served for reservoirs to
multitudes of beautiful fish. In the midst of the garden, supported
upon twelve lofty pillars of black marble, was a dome, the roof of
sandal wood and aloes. The spaces between the columns were closed by a
double trellis-work of gold, which formed an aviary containing
thousands of canaries of different colours, nightingales, linnets, and
other harmonious birds, who mingling their notes formed the most
charming concert. The baths of Haroun-al-Raschid were under this dome.
The prince and his guest took a bath, after which the attendants
rubbed them with the finest towels, which had never before been used.
They then clothed Aboulcassem in rich apparel. The caliph conducted
him to a chamber where refreshments awaited them, such as roasted
fowls and lamb, white soups, pomegranates from Amlas and Ziri, pears
from Exhali, grapes from Melah and Sevise, and apples from Ispahan.
After they had partaken of these delicacies, and drunk some delicious
wine, the caliph conducted Aboulcassem to Zobeide's apartment. This
princess was seated on a throne of gold, surrounded by her slaves, who
were ranged standing on each side of her; some had tambourines, others
flutes and harps. At that moment their instruments were mute, all
being attentively engaged in listening to a young girl whose charming
voice rang through the saloon like the warblings of a nightingale. As
soon as Zobeide perceived the caliph and the son of Abdelaziz, she
descended from her throne to receive them.

"Madam," said Haroun, "allow me to present to you my host of Basra."

The young man prostrated himself before the princess. At this moment
the vizir Giafar was heard returning with the troops, and bringing
with him Aboulfatah securely bound. As for the king of Basra, he was
left behind dying of grief and fright at not finding Aboulcassem.
Giafar had no sooner rendered an account of his mission, than the
caliph ordered a scaffold to be erected before the palace, to which
the wicked Aboulfatah was conducted. The people knowing the cruelty of
this vizir, instead of being touched with his misfortune, testified
the utmost impatience to witness his execution. The executioner was
already prepared, sabre in hand, to strike off the guilty man's head,
when the son of Abdelaziz prostrating himself before the caliph,
exclaimed, "Oh, commander of the faithful, yield to my prayers the
life of Aboulfatah! Let him live to witness my happiness, to behold
all the favours you are conferring upon me, and he will be
sufficiently punished."

"Oh, too generous Aboulcassem," replied the caliph, "you, indeed,
deserve a crown! Happy the people of Basra to have you for their
king."

"My lord, I have one more favour to ask. Give to the prince Aly the
throne you destined for myself. Let him reign, together with the lady
who had the generosity to avert from me the fury of her father; these
two lovers are worthy this honour. As to myself, cherished and
protected by the commander of the faithful, I have no need of a crown;
I shall be superior to kings."

The caliph assented to this proposal, and to recompense prince Aly for
the service he had rendered the son of Abdelaziz, sent him the
patents, and made him king of Basra; but finding Aboulfatah too guilty
to accord him liberty as well as life, he ordered the vizir to be shut
up in a dark tower for the remainder of his days. When the people of
Bagdad were informed that it was Aboulcassem himself who had begged
the life of his persecutor, they showered a thousand praises on the
generous young man, who soon after departed for Basra, escorted by a
troop of the caliph's guards, and a great number of his officers.



VIII.

THE OLD CAMEL.


Eggadi-ben-Yousouf, a merchant at Miliana, was a mere lover of gain;
he never gave away any thing in alms; his heart was dry as the earth
in the hottest days of summer, and never open to pity for the
unfortunate. To amass, to amass for ever was the sole desire of
Eggadi. But in what did his riches consist? None could say, for he
concealed them with the utmost care.

One day one of his camels having died, he bought to replace it the
only camel of Ali-Bénala, a poor dealer in mats. This camel was the
sole heritage of which Ali came into possession at the death of his
father. He sold it for much less than its value;--Eggadi, who was an
adept at bargaining, depreciating it in every possible way, especially
on account of its extreme age.

On his next journey Eggadi added this camel to his little caravan. As
he was passing a solitary place, he was surprised to see the camel
betake itself with hasty steps to a spot at some distance behind some
rocks, and on its arrival there kneel down and groan, as camels
usually do when they expect to be unloaded. A negro, having run after
the animal, brought it back to its place in the caravan.

Eggadi soon took a second journey on the same road, and on this
occasion too the camel sold him by Ali-Bénala again quitted the rank,
and was again observed to kneel down and groan at the same place.
This time Eggadi followed it, and saw with surprise that the spot at
which it stopped was one where no merchant of any country had been
ever known to unload his merchandise. He reflected deeply on this
circumstance, and in the end resolved to revisit the spot alone with
the camel, who, faithful perhaps to some recollection, might, he
thought, be the means of disclosing to him some mysterious act, or
perhaps the place where a treasure lay concealed.

Eggadi returned, in short, soon after, to this solitary spot. He had
brought with him a spade, and proceeded to dig with care around the
camel, who had invariably knelt in the same place. He had scarcely
laboured ten minutes ere he discovered traces of another spade; this
redoubled his zeal, and soon after, to his intense satisfaction, he
came upon some bags of money, then a coffer firmly shut, but which
contained, he could not doubt, objects of costly value. He first took
the bags, which were filled with good and true Spanish doubloons; with
these he loaded his camel, who thus had gained nothing but a double
burden for his pains; then, having re-covered with stones and sand the
precious coffer, which he resolved upon examining another time, he
returned with his mind greatly preoccupied, asking himself whether it
must not have been the old father of Ali-Bénala to whom all the wealth
he had just discovered formerly belonged.

This question, which he could not help addressing to his conscience
over and over again, prevented him from fully enjoying the possession
of his treasure. Although he dearly loved money, yet Eggadi to obtain
possession of it had never yet plundered the widow and the orphan. The
first step in the road to evil is not accomplished without difficulty
and without remorse; Eggadi painfully experienced the truth of this.
"And yet," said he to himself, "I made a fair bargain with poor Ali
for this very camel which has been the means of my finding a
treasure."

Before going to take possession of the coffer left underground behind
the rocks, Eggadi, impelled by his conscience, approached the
miserable shop where Ali carried on the sale of his mats, and said to
him:

"How comes it, Ali, that your father, rich as it is said he was, left
you no fortune, only an old camel and a house in ruins?"

"Ah!" replied Ali, "my father was good to the poor. Not only did he
call every poor man his brother, but assisted him to the utmost of his
power. At times, however, I have suspected that my father may have had
riches concealed in some spot, and that he intended to bestow them
upon me before he died. And I will tell you what led me to suppose so.

"A few moments before his death he sent for me, and said: 'I have a
great secret to confide to thee. Come close to me that my voice may
reach thy ear alone: but before our conversation, my son, let us pray
to Allah to grant us on this solemn day that which is best for us.'

"We prayed, and in ten minutes my father was no more. Allah, no doubt,
judged that that which was best for me was poverty. Allah be praised."

Ali bowed his head profoundly, laying his hand upon his breast.
Eggadi, much disturbed at the virtuous resignation of Ali-Bénala,
rejoined:

"But thinkest thou, that if good fortune befel thee, thou wouldst know
how to make good use of it?"

"Allah alone knows," said Ali. "Should he ever see fit to make me
rich, he will know how to fit me for the change. For myself, I cannot
succeed in improving the poverty of my estate. I work incessantly, but
nothing succeeds with me. My oxen, if I have any, drown themselves in
crossing a torrent; my goods either do not sell or are damaged. I am
destined to possess upon this earth nothing but this miserable hut,
which has been my only home for ten years, But what matters it,
provided I fulfil the law of the prophet? I shall see Abraham, in
heaven. If at times my poverty renders me uneasy, it is only for the
sake of my poor children, who live miserably in a house as open to the
wind and the rain as though it were without a roof."

"Well," said Eggadi, "it is certainly not just that such an honest man
as thou should be in such a wretched state of poverty."

"How! not just!" replied Ali. "Are there not, then, many honest men
who are no richer than myself?"

"That may be," said Eggadi. "Nevertheless, since thy father was rich,
it seems to be but just that thou shouldst be so too, and I come to
propose to thee to enter into partnership with me. I have two good
houses outside the town; one shall be for thy family, the other for
mine. We will live as brothers, and unite our children as in the time
of the patriarchs."

Ali remained greatly astonished at such a proposition, coming
especially from Eggadi-ben-Yousouf, who had never had any friendship
for him, and who so far from evincing any generosity towards him, had
bargained with him for his poor camel like the veriest Jew in the
world.

He therefore remained silent, neither accepting nor refusing the
offer, but looking with an abstracted air upon the mats in his
miserable dwelling.

"Well," said Eggadi, ashamed at the bottom of his heart at making this
show of generosity to one whom he was secretly despoiling, "well, thou
dost not reply to me?"

"Grant me time to imitate the example of my father by invoking Allah
before taking a resolution," said Ali. "Allah alone can know whether
it will be best for me to keep at once my poverty and the freedom of
all my actions, or to accept opulence and with it the necessity of
being always of thy opinion; for bringing into our partnership nothing
but my two stout arms, I should be an ingrate if I did not yield in
every thing to thy wishes."

Eggadi involuntarily cast down his eyes before this poor man who spoke
with so much wisdom.

"Well," said he again, "reflect till to-morrow, and come to me in the
morning under the palm trees in front of my house; I will there await
thee."

Then these two men separated. Ali, praying in the mosque, thought he
heard his father pronounce these words. "Never associate thyself save
with him who has no more than thyself, and who already knows the right
way. The good are spoilt by associating with the rogue and the miser,
whilst neither rogue nor miser is reformed by association with one
better than himself."

The next morning Ali repaired to the palm trees which grew before the
house of Eggadi, where the latter awaited him uneasy and fatigued
after a sleepless night. After the usual Mussulman salutation,
Ali-Bénala said to the rich Eggadi:

"How comes it that thou appearest sad, thou who possessest fine
houses, coffers of gold, and merchandise, whilst I, I who have
nothing, rise with a joyous heart, and smoke my pipe all day with
pleasure, seated on the threshold of my poor shop?"

"The weight of business overwhelms me," replied Eggadi; "I have great
need of some one to share it."

"Then why not diminish thy transactions, and live in peace?" inquired
Ali.

"No, no, it is impossible to set limits to one's purchases and sales.
A fortunate speculation balances an unlucky one. You must accept all
if you would grow rich. But come, hast thou decided? Wilt thou enter
into partnership with me?"

"I have reflected and prayed," said Ali. "I am very grateful for thy
offers, and Allah will doubtless recompense thee; but prudence forbids
me to accept them. I will never enter into partnership but with one
who is as poor as myself."

"Indeed!" exclaimed Eggadi-ben-Yousouf, "be no longer then surprised
at thy poverty, since thou refusest the opportunity of enriching
thyself. The traveller who does not stop beneath the first trees he
meets runs the risk of not finding another upon his road, and of
performing the whole journey without enjoying their refreshing shade.
Such a man would have no right to complain of the dust of the roads,
or the heat of the sun."

"I do not complain," replied Ali, "I come, on the contrary, to tell
thee that I live and sleep in peace."

"It is well, it is well," said Eggadi, who had not closed his eyes
till the morning, "it is well, remain as thou art. Instead of gold
pieces, be content to receive rain-drops through thy roof, eat bread
when thou hast any, and go fasting oftener; it concerns me no more."

"I should be a fool," added he internally, "to trouble myself any
longer about the poverty of this man." And he remembered his fine
house, where gilded cakes, a delicious repast, and rich and rare
fruits awaited him.

He ate his meal in company with his sons; then he washed his beard and
hands, rose from the table, and called his wife, his daughters, his
mother, and his grandmother, and said to them, "Women, eat in your
turn; this is for you."

The women respectfully kissed his hands, and proceeded to make their
meal, whilst he went and sat down out of doors, and smoked with his
sons, to whom he spoke as follows whilst a negro waited upon him with
coffee:

"I am about to take another journey. During my absence see to such and
such things, and do not forget any of my orders, if you would not run
the risk of becoming poor, poor--" he was going to say, "as Ali, the
seller of mats," but this name excited too keenly his remorse; he
could not venture to pronounce it.

So that in spite of the good repast of which he had just partaken,
Eggadi felt ill at ease, for the thought was ever recurring to him,
"Ali is poor, his father was rich, and it is I who have unjustly taken
possession of his father's wealth." Meanwhile Eggadi had this very
moderate relief, he might still enjoy the benefit of a doubt as to
whether the father of Ali was really the possessor of the discovered
treasures. However, the coffer left behind the rocks would doubtless
throw a light upon this matter. Eggadi proceeded at once in search of
this coffer; he opened it, and his eyes, dazzled though they were by
the precious objects that met their gaze, were constrained to perceive
at the same time a sheet of parchment, upon which the following words
were very distinctly inscribed:

"All the treasures buried in this spot have been lawfully acquired, or
received in heritage by me, Mustapha Selim. I bequeath them to my only
son, Ali-Bénala, who has ever been a faithful servant of Allah, and
respectful towards me. May he, and his children, and his children's
children inherit and enjoy these possessions, to which I add my
benediction."

As soon as Eggadi had read these words a profound sadness took
possession of him, for he could no longer doubt that these hidden
riches were the inheritance of Ali-Bénala. If therefore he
appropriated them, he was a despoiler of the poor and the orphan. It
would have been so delightful to have been able to keep up the
illusion, and to say to himself: "This wealth was without an owner;
Allah has been pleased to bestow it on me!" But if Eggadi had never as
yet committed any very culpable actions, he had never done any good
ones, and did not merit the protection of heaven. He dared not doubt
that by keeping unlawful possession of the property of Ali he should
incur the wrath of heaven; at the same time he could not bring himself
to renounce it. He took the coffer, carried it home, meditating by
turns on the uses to which he might turn his great fortune, and on
what might be done by way of compromising his conscience for poor Ali,
his children, and his children's children.

Arrived at his own house, he placed his treasures in a large chest,
which he kept thenceforth in the chamber where he passed his nights.
By day, too, this coffer often served him for a seat; whilst scarce a
day passed without his opening it, to assure himself that nothing had
disappeared. He kept it carefully fastened with the aid of several
locks and a master key, of which he never gave up the possession.

Eggadi contemplated a thousand times these treasures acquired with so
little trouble; if we can call that gained with little trouble which
is purchased at the price of our peace of mind. And each time after
having contemplated them, he would repeat to himself the words of Ali,
"Allah will no doubt recompense thee." "Ah! if he recompenses me as I
deserve," he could not help reflecting, "he will send me great
disasters indeed."

Pursued by the dread of a heavy chastisement, Eggadi became so
miserable in the midst of his fine family and his treasures, that he
formed the project of quitting his country, where the sight of Ali,
his humble house and miserable shop, haunted him incessantly. So he
adjusted his affairs, collected his merchandise, and then communicated
his intention to his children and his servants.

But whilst, spurred on by a secret terror, he was hastening the
preparations for his departure, Allah, on whose will depend all things
on earth and in heaven, visited him with a severe fever, accompanied
with delirium, during which he spoke incessantly of the old camel of
Ali, of concealed treasures, and the vengeance of Heaven.

Salmanazar, an old Jew doctor, had charge of Eggadi; he heard the
incoherent ravings of his patient, and immediately divined them to be
the result of preceding mental anguish. Thanks to the skill acquired
by medical science, and still more to the intuition engendered by the
desire of self-enrichment, the old Jew was not slow in comprehending
that there was a secret relating to a treasure unjustly acquired, and
he saw no reason, moreover, why he should not be a partaker in the
booty.

He found means therefore to remove all the attendants, and
constituting himself sole guardian of the sick man, seated himself by
his bedside and patiently awaited the auspicious moment which should
deliver into his merciless keeping a soul harassed by the stings of
remorse.

This moment at length arrived; Eggadi ceased to be delirious, and as
though awakening from a painful dream, drew a long breath, and cast
looks of inquiry around him.

Salmanazar, who had been watching for this opportunity, then
exclaimed: "Eggadi! Eggadi! you Mussulmans cry, 'God is great,' but
you do not believe it, for if you did, how could you dare enrich
yourselves at the expense of the poor man and his children? Thou art
rich, Eggadi, and Ali is poor."

"What sayst thou?" cried the sick man, distending his eyes with terror
as dismal recollections thronged upon him.

"I say that thou hast a treasure which should not belong to thee, and
that this is why thou hast the fever, and why moreover thou wilt die,
unless I save thy life by my profound science. Restitution must be
made; nay, if indeed thou wert to do good with this treasure to poor
Jews like me, God would perhaps pardon thee, but thou takest care to
give us nothing. If I cure thee what will be my profit? a few
miserable doubloons, which I shall have all the same if thou diest;
for thy sons will give them me, and if they refused to pay me, I
should summon them before the cadi. Thus, whether thou livest or
whether thou diest is much the same to me. Nevertheless, if I had a
mind I could easily cure thee, and cause thee still to live, that thy
days might be long upon the earth. But what profit would this be to
me?"

"Cure me, cure me," cried the sick man, "and I will give thee far more
than my sons would give thee, far more than the cadi would grant thee
did my children refuse thee payment. I will give thee twenty
doubloons; nay, fifty. That would be a fine thing for thee."

"It would be a much better thing for thyself," chuckled Salmanazar.
"Of what use will thy doubloons be to thee when thou art dead? I
demand five hundred doubloons for curing thee, and I will have them at
once, for in an hour's time I shall demand a thousand, and if you then
delay deciding there will be no longer any time to choose."

"A thousand doubloons!" exclaimed the patient; "I will not even give
thee five hundred. If I did,--Allah would not pardon me the more, even
supposing I really am guilty of what thou suggested."

"Well, then, thou wilt die," rejoined Salmanazar, settling himself
again in his chair.

The chamber of the sick man was gloomy. A small lamp cast a fitful
light upon one corner, while the rest seemed inhabited by nothing but
dim shadows. An odour of fever and its remedies pervaded the
atmosphere; out of doors,--for it was night,--the dismal cry of the
jackals seeking food resounded, whilst the deep baying of the
neighbouring dogs was heard without intermission. The weather was
windy and tempestuous. All this but served to increase the deep
depression which filled the soul of Eggadi. He threw a wistful look
around his shadow-haunted room; it fell upon the old Jew who was
watching him askance, his large dark eyes dimmed by ophthalmia, and he
asked himself whether the old man with his prominent nose, yellow
visage, long, lean and withered arms, habited in a scanty and dirty
garment, were not some evil genius come thither to curse him for his
crime, and drag him to the bottomless pit of perdition.

Nevertheless, Eggadi contrived to raise himself up in a sitting
posture on his bed. He collected all his strength, drew a long breath,
sighed feebly, and said:

"Well, I have decided, Salmanazar; give me the remedy which will make
my days long upon the earth."

"Give me first the five hundred doubloons," said Salmanazar.

"I have them not here," replied the sick man.

"Tell me where they are, I will go and get them."

"That is impossible," said Eggadi; "but summon Bankala, my black
slave, he will bring me the key of my coffer, and the coffer itself
which contains my treasures."

"Well and good," replied Salmanazar; and he summoned Bankala.

Eggadi gave some orders to the slave in a language unknown to
Salmanazar, and he disappeared. He returned shortly with two other
slaves, whom he placed like two sentinels by the side of his master's
bed.

"Send away those men," said Salmanazar to the sick man. The latter
replied, "They are needed to go and bring the coffer as soon as
Bankala shall have given us the key; he and I alone know where it is
hidden."

"It is well," said the Jew; and he held his peace, looking alternately
at the sick man and the two slaves.

"What wilt thou do to effect my cure?" began Eggadi to inquire of the
Jew in a doleful tone.

"Thou shalt see--thou shalt see," replied the latter. And they both
awaited the return of the slave with an equal anxiety, which they in
vain strove to conceal.

Bankala made them wait a long time, but when at length he did return,
Ali, the poor seller of mats, followed upon his footsteps. "Arise
quickly," had been the summons of the slave to him; "Eggadi my master
summons thee in the name of Allah, and desires to see thee before he
dies." Ali had hastened to obey. At sight of him the Jew trembled.
Eggadi, on the contrary, felt himself happy and reassured.

"Come hither, Ali," said he; "come and behold a man guilty but
repentant. The example of thy virtues did not suffice to bring me back
to the path of duty: it was necessary that I should be struck by
misfortune. Thanks to Heaven misfortune has befallen me. Ali! Ali! it
was I who bought of thee the old camel which was left thee by thy
father. That camel no doubt aided him in concealing the great wealth
he would fain have bestowed upon thee ere he died. I discovered this
wealth, and I conceived the iniquitous design of keeping it, instead
of restoring it to thee in accordance with the demands of justice. I
was on the point of quitting my country to avoid the further sight of
thy poverty, the unceasing reproach to my crime, when Allah visited me
with a terrible malady, and a still more terrible physician. This
physician, whom thou there beholdest, having discovered my secret,
instead of urging me to the restitution of my ill-acquired fortune,
dreamt only of sharing it with me, and threatened me with death if I
refused the division of the plunder.

"His horrible conduct, his avarice and cruelty combined, have inspired
me with horror, and have shown me to what lengths an inordinate love
of gold may lead. I have mourned for my fault, and have taken a sudden
resolution to repair it. By deceiving this skilful man, I have been
enabled to send for thee, and before him I declare that I render thee
up joyfully all the treasures which are enclosed in the chest upon
which Salmanazar is seated."

Salmanazar started up on hearing these words. How! he had been
actually sitting upon the treasure and had not divined it.

Eggadi continued:

"Consider, Ali, what will be most suitable to bestow upon this Jew. He
demanded of me five hundred doubloons down, or a thousand in an hour's
time, if I desired to live. I think that five hundred blows with a
stick should be his recompense; at the same time I am unworthy to
judge any man in this world. Thou who art just, act towards him as
thou thinkest best, but deign, above all things, to grant me thy
forgiveness."

Ali was of course greatly surprised at all he had just heard. He took
a moment to collect his thoughts and then said:

"Eggadi-ben-Yousouf, I pardon thee willingly; and to prove it, I say
to thee as thou once saidst to me:

"Let us enter into partnership, let us live as brothers, and unite our
children as in the time of the patriarchs. As for Salmanazar, let his
only punishment be to behold the riches he would have forced thee to
share with him, and after having seen them, let him return home
without money and without blows."

The wish of the wise Ali was put into execution. The coffer, the key
of which Eggadi had about him, was opened; and the Jew, though still
trembling with the fear of receiving the blows, could not help eagerly
regarding the gold and precious stones which were revealed to his
cupidity. Then he departed, filled with grief at having missed his
aim, and at not having been himself the fortunate purchaser of the old
camel of Ali. This event was engraven on his memory, and caused him to
regard with looks of eager anxiety all the old camels whom he chanced
to meet. He often stopped before them, and seemed to endeavour to
trace in their movements some mysterious sign which might lead to the
discovery of hidden treasures.

Eggadi, having his conscience at ease, regained his health without the
aid of any other physician. He became the adopted brother of Ali, who
insisted on sharing with him his newly-acquired fortune; and these two
men, their children, and their children's children, continued to live
together wealthy and united.



IX.

THE STORY OF MEDJEDDIN.


Many hundred years ago there lived in the famous city of Bagdad a
retired merchant named El Kattab. The earlier part of his life had
been assiduously devoted to commercial pursuits, in the prosecution of
which he had made many a long journey, and crossed many a sea. In the
course of his wanderings he had not only amassed the wealth he sought,
but, what was better, had stored his mind and memory with the
treasures of wisdom and general information. The property he had
acquired was far from immense, yet it was amply sufficient to enable
him to live in a style of substantial comfort and respectability, and
to devote himself to the darling object of his declining years, the
education and training of his only son.

El Kattab's beard was grey, yet he had not very long passed the prime
of life, and still retained most of the vigour and elasticity of his
earlier years. He was wise enough to be content with the quiet
enjoyments of a moderate affluence, and had no desire to wear out the
rest of his life in the feverish labour of constant acquirement, for
the mere sake of amassing a splendid fortune; therein differing from
too many of his friends, who seemed to forget in their headlong
pursuit of enormous riches, that by the time these might be acquired,
life would be nigh spent, and at any rate all its charms gone, unless
some higher and nobler object had been substituted for that of mere
wealth-getting.

The city of Mossul had been El Kattab's home in his earlier days; but
he quitted it, and took up his abode in Bagdad, partly in order to be
near his friend Salek, with whom he had been on the most intimate
terms from his youth; partly, too, for the sake of his son's
education, as he expected that a residence in the latter city would
produce good and lasting impressions on the mind of the young man; for
the great city of Bagdad was at this time under the rule of the
far-famed caliph Haroun al Raschid, and was the resort of strangers
from all parts of the globe; and here artists and sages of all
countries mingled with each other. Nor had El Kattab conceived a vain
expectation. His son, whose name was Medjeddin, was a young man gifted
with good natural abilities, and endowed with a pure and noble heart.
He used every opportunity to extend his knowledge and improve his
disposition; nor was he deficient in bodily exercises and warlike
accomplishments: so that through good discipline he became powerful in
body and strong in mind. He was not only, therefore, as was natural
enough, the joy and pride of his father, but was loved and esteemed by
all who knew him, and was often pointed out by the elders, to others
of his own age, as an example worthy of imitation. As the father saw
his greatest treasure in the person of his son, so the latter, with
all the fervour of a well-directed mind, clung affectionately to his
father.

Some years passed over them in this mutual love, rendered still more
delightful by the companionship of their friend Salek, and their
happiness was full and uninterrupted. It chanced one day that El
Kattab and Salek were taking their accustomed walk in the gardens
adjoining the city in front of the gate. The heat of the summer's day
had been diminished by a gentle rain, and the two strolled on, in
happy conversation, and extended their walk beyond its usual length.
They passed the last garden, and wandered on over some green
meadow-land, behind a little wood, at the entrance of which stood high
palms, whose shadows invited to repose, while a fresh spring gushed
from a neighbouring rock, and meandered among the verdant herbage and
variegated flowers.

The two friends lay down in the shade, and conversed on the perils to
which even the most virtuous men are subject, particularly enlarging
on the danger of an over-confidence in the rectitude of our own
intentions, and on the comparative ease with which a sudden impulse
will sometimes hurry even the best of men, who possesses an
overweening reliance on his own firmness of purpose, into a false or
even fatal step in life.

"I have known men," observed Salek, "who, although among the best and
noblest I have ever met in the course of my life, have been led
unawares, by too great self-confidence, into an action which they
might easily have avoided by moderate caution, but which has proved
the beginning of a long chain of evils, ending at last in their
complete ruin."

El Kattab, on the contrary, maintained that a heart accustomed from
early youth to virtue, would not be easily led to commit a serious
fault; and even if this should happen, that it would readily find its
way back from a slight error to the right road. They continued to talk
on these subjects, each endeavouring to confirm his assertions by
examples, whilst Medjeddin, stretched beside them, listened with
attention to their conversation. Suddenly he sprang to his feet, and
ran quickly up the woody hill, at the foot of which they were
reposing. His father and Salek looked after him surprised, as they
could not comprehend what had occasioned his sudden disappearance.
They then saw that a little bird, as white as snow, was flying before
him, which he was trying to catch. He was soon lost to their view
among the bushes; they called to him to come back; but in vain. They
waited for a quarter of an hour, and still Medjeddin did not return.
Growing uneasy about him, they advanced in the direction in which he
had disappeared, but could discover nothing. At last the sun set; then
Salek said, "Let us return home: your son is a strong, active young
man; he will easily find his way back to the city. Perhaps he has gone
home some other way, and will be there before us."

After much opposition, the father was persuaded to return without his
son; but he was still full of anxiety which no arguments could
overcome. When they arrived at the city, his friend accompanied him to
his house. They entered hastily, and inquired for Medjeddin: but he
had not returned. Salek's cheering suggestions were of no more avail;
El Kattab would no longer listen to him, but threw himself weeping on
his couch. Salek rebuked him for this weakness, and represented to him
that it might easily have happened that the young man had lost his way
in the pursuit of the bird, and could not recover the track all at
once.

"He has no doubt found a shelter where he will remain till morning,"
continued he; "he will return here early to-morrow, and will laugh
heartily at your fears."

When Salek was gone, El Kattab gave free scope to his feelings. He
wept aloud, tore his beard, and dashed himself upon the ground, like a
madman. The slaves stood around in motionless astonishment, surprised
to see their master exhibiting such passionate emotion; others sought
to console him, but fruitlessly; at length they all began to cry and
bewail with him for his dear son, who was beloved by them all. After a
sleepless night, the afflicted father rose not at all quieted. He
wished early in the morning to send messengers in all directions; but
Salek, who had come to inquire if the lost one had returned home,
explained to him how foolish this step would be.

"Consider," said he, "that your Medjeddin has most probably found a
night's lodging, and slept better than you. Supposing him, therefore,
to be at any probable distance, even if he had set out on his way at
daybreak, he could hardly be here now: if you send these messengers
after him, he may perhaps come home by a shorter path, while they will
be searching for him in vain; wait at least till mid-day."

El Kattab yielded; he appointed the messengers to be ready at noon,
and in the meanwhile walked through the gardens and in the country
around the city, where they had been on the preceding day. His friend
accompanied him, although he pointed out that Medjeddin might, in the
interval, have reached home while they were walking, and that El
Kattab was thus perhaps giving himself more trouble than was
necessary.

"I have yielded to you in the rest," replied El Kattab; "let me at
least in this instance have my own will, and walk here."

They went together to the fountain in the rock near the palms; they
climbed the neighbouring heights; they called the name of the lost one
in all directions; but no sound was heard in reply. At noon they went
home, and asked all they met if they had seen a young man, whom they
accurately described. Nobody could give them any information about
him. El Kattab now sent out his messengers in all directions;
promising a rich reward to the one who should lead his lost son back
to his arms. The messengers returned on the tenth day, and reported
that all their researches had been without success. At this the
parent's grief knew no bounds. His friend Salek remained almost
constantly with him, comforting him; and all his friends held a
consultation on the possible means of gaining tidings of Medjeddin.
They agreed that he could not have been killed, for then his corpse
would have been found: that he had no cause to conceal himself: that
he could not have been attacked by enemies, as he had none: might he,
they suggested, in the pursuit of the bird, have been led to the brink
of the river, and have thrown himself in, and been carried away by
the stream? scarcely had this idea presented itself, ere two
messengers were despatched to each side of the river to search, from
its junction with the Euphrates above Balsora to the spot where it
flows into the Arabian Sea, and ascertain if the corpse of Medjeddin
had been washed ashore. But these messengers also returned to the
anxious parent, without having found what they sought. The parent and
his friend now gave up Medjeddin for lost; El Kattab's spirit was
broken; grief for his lost son shortened his life; he soon became old:
all joy fled from his mind; and his sorrow was only a little
alleviated when his faithful friend Salek sat by him in the evening,
talking with him of his son, relating the virtues by which he had been
distinguished, and telling him how it had been his darling wish that
this excellent young man should marry his daughter Maryam.

A few days afterwards the caliph Haroun al Raschid went, as he was
accustomed, in disguise, with his grand vizier Giafar, and Mesrur his
chamberlain, through the streets of Bagdad, to see with his own eyes
and to hear with his own ears how justice and order were maintained by
his servants, and whether his people were happy and prosperous. He
had, as usual, chosen the last hour of the evening for this walk,
because he thought that at this time he could look deeper into the
joys and pleasures of his subjects, as they had then ended their daily
toils, and were seeking comfort and repose in the bosoms of their
families. In the course of his progress he came to a street remarkable
for its peculiar quiet. As he approached a house, before the door of
which two men were standing whispering, Haroun al Raschid addressed
them with these words: "Why do you whisper, as if you were concerting
a crime? is not this street lonely enough, that you cannot hold your
discourse aloud? Can you tell me why this street is so quiet, as
though every inhabitant were dead?"

"I can easily tell you, my lord," answered one of the whisperers;
"here, in the next house, lives the unfortunate El Kattab; and, as
usual at this hour, his friend Salek is sitting with him to console
him. Now all the inhabitants of this street respect this man, and wish
not to remind him, by any outburst of joy, that happier men than
himself live in his neighbourhood."

Before the caliph could answer him, the man turned away, and entered
the house, and the other followed him.

"Have you ever heard of this unfortunate El Kattab before?" asked
Haroun al Raschid of his grand vizier; and as he answered in the
negative, the caliph proceeded, "Let us make an inspection of the
house where this El Kattab dwells; perhaps we may discover the cause
of his sorrow."

They drew near, and saw the light from the inner court shining through
a crevice. The caliph applied his eye to the aperture, and after he
had watched for some time, beckoned his followers to him, and said,
"Two grey-headed men are sitting in this court by the light of a lamp,
and one seems to be comforting the other; but this latter continues to
weep all the more bitterly, the more his companion endeavours to
console him: both appear to be of the same rank. I am desirous of
knowing what sorrow oppresses the unfortunate El Kattab: order him to
appear at my palace early to-morrow morning; perhaps it may be in my
power to lighten his calamity."

The next day the grand vizier executed his commission. El Kattab was
alarmed when he heard that his presence was required at the palace. He
was led into the great hall where the divan usually assembled; but
there the attendants left him quite alone. He reviewed the whole of
his past life, to see if he had sinned in any way, so as to bring on
him the displeasure of the caliph; for he knew that Haroun al Raschid
often, in a mysterious manner, discovered the faults of his subjects,
and punished them accordingly. But he could not call to mind any deed
of which he felt ashamed, nor any that deserved punishment. Whilst he
was thus meditating, a curtain was drawn back, and the caliph entered,
followed by his vizier and his chamberlain. El Kattab rose from the
ground, and bowed his head down to the carpet on which the caliph
stood.

"El Kattab," said the caliph, "a heavy weight of grief seems to
oppress you; and by the anxiety which your neighbours manifest to show
respect for your sorrow, I must consider you as a man of worth: I wish
then to know the cause of your despondency; have you any objection to
inform me of it before these two witnesses, or would you rather
confide to me alone the reason of your tears?"

"Ruler of the faithful," answered El Kattab, "sorrow is great and deep
in my soul; but still the cause of it is unworthy to distract for a
moment the attention of the caliph from the cares of his kingdom."

The caliph replied, "That which fills the heart of the meanest of my
subjects with such grief that it consumes his life, is not unworthy of
my care. If I am careful for my whole kingdom, this care none the less
extends to each individual; and, if I am careful for one, this one is
a member of the whole, and thus my care is not lost. But speak, what
is the cause of your affliction?"

El Kattab then recounted the mysterious disappearance of his son; how
he had sought for him every where, and how all his messengers had
returned home without the least trace of him. "I must therefore weep
for him as one that is dead,"--thus he ended his relation; "and in
tears perhaps my sorrow might expend itself, if at the same time a
spark of hope did not live in my heart, that possibly he is still
alive: but ah! where? This spark of hope keeps the wound in the
father's heart always open."

"You have, indeed, real cause for grief," answered the caliph, "and I
comprehend that the uncertainty of your son's fate must be as terrible
to bear, as would be the mournful certainty of his death. You did
wrong in not applying to me before; my power extends not only over
believers, but also into foreign lands: other kings and rulers I have
as my servants, whose eyes see for me, whose ears hear for me, and
whose hands perform what is necessary in order to do my pleasure. That
which was not possible to yourself, your friends, and your servants to
accomplish, may perhaps prove easy for me. Now go home, and believe
that you shall obtain news of your son, if he live on the earth, in
any land where my power can reach."

With these words he dismissed him, after he had first inquired the
marks by which his lost son might be recognised.

When El Kattab was sitting again with his friend Salek in the evening,
he related to him the gracious and comforting words of the caliph.
Salek perceived that hope was revived in his friend's heart, and that
he confidently trusted to find his son. He thought it his duty,
therefore, to damp somewhat this hope, and said, "Beloved friend, I
have once heard a speech, which sunk deeply in my memory: it is,
'Trust not in princes; they are but men.' In truth, the mightiest on
earth are subject to destiny. If the caliph have influence in distant
lands, it must still be within a comparatively confined and narrow
limit; whilst what is in the farthest regions of the earth, as well as
what is but a span distant, are all equally under the control of
all-governing fate, even from the meanest slave to the ruler of the
faithful."

Haroun al Raschid meanwhile resolved to do all he could to fulfil the
hope he had raised in El Kattab's heart. He gave a commission to all
his servants in the kingdom, high and low, and to his ambassadors in
the neighbouring kingdoms, and even sent into distant lands, with the
princes of which he was on terms of friendship, at the same time
despatching messengers with the charge to search for Medjeddin with
all diligence, giving them a description by which they might recognise
him if they found him. But week after week, and month after month
passed away; even a whole year elapsed, without any intelligence being
received either of the life or death of the lost one. So that all hope
of finding him deserted the father for ever.

Medjeddin, meantime, had not perished--none of the accidents suggested
by his father's advisers had befallen him; he still lived, but in such
complete concealment that it was impossible for any one to discover
him. He had followed the snow-white bird till evening, without clearly
knowing why: he was induced to think he could catch the curious
creature, particularly as it flew at such a moderate height from the
ground, and at the same time so slowly. The tardiness of its flight
made him conjecture that it must have hurt one of its wings; several
times he succeeded in getting quite close to it, but just as he
stretched out his hand to seize it, the bird again raised its wings,
and flew a little in advance. Medjeddin now felt himself tired, and
would have given up the pursuit, but the bird also seemed fatigued; he
approached it, but again the bird flew a little farther off. In this
chase he climbed a hill, and soon after found himself in a narrow
meadow-valley, down which he ran; twilight came, but the snow-white
colour of the bird still lighted him on. At last the pursued bird
perched in a thicket; he hastened to it, but when he closed his hand
to seize his prisoner, it flew away, leaving only one of its
tail-feathers tightly grasped in his hand: still he saw it through the
twilight flying before him, and still he hastened after it. The bird
seemed now to quicken its pace; but as he had so nearly caught it
once, he continued the pursuit with more eagerness; he ran through the
high grass, with his strained sight fixed on this glimmering white
object, he saw nothing else. Thus he came unexpectedly on a small but
deep pool of water, which lay across his path; he jumped in, swam
across, and tried to climb the other side, but it was so steep that he
fell in with some of the crumbling earth: the water closed over his
head, and he lost all consciousness. When he came to himself, he found
himself lying on the turf, and a tall, grey-headed man of strange
appearance by him, clothed in a long black robe reaching to his
ancles, and fastened by a glittering girdle of a fiery colour. Instead
of a turban, he wore a high pointed cap on his head, with a tassel of
the same hue as the girdle.

"Has your life returned to you?" he asked: "you deserved to be
suffocated in the mud. Come, we must go farther before daylight quite
leaves us."

With these words the stranger raised him from the ground, passed his
left arm round his body, and flew with him through the air with the
speed of an arrow. Medjeddin again soon lost recollection, and did not
know how long he remained in this condition. He awoke at last as from
a deep sleep; and looking around, the first thing he observed was a
cage of gold wire, hanging from the ceiling by a long golden chain,
and within was the snow-white bird he had so long followed. He found
himself alone with this bird in a hall, the roof of which was
supported on pillars of white marble, and the walls were built of
smooth pale-green stones. The openings which served as windows were
protected by lattices so skilfully contrived with winding tracery,
that even the white bird could have found no space to pass through,
even if it had escaped from the cage. Beside one wall stood a crystal
urn; and from this fell a stream of clear water, which passing over
the curved brim of the urn, was received in a white basin beneath,
from which it disappeared unseen. Whilst he was observing this, and
wondering what had happened to him, and how he came there, suddenly
the old man in the black robe entered from behind a curtain. He
carried a small golden box in his hand, and approached him with these
words: "You have now caught the white bird, and have it safe in a
cage; in this box is food for it, and there is water; take diligent
care of it, and mind that it does not escape."

As he said this he disappeared. Medjeddin now arose and walked round
the hall: he looked through the windows, and ascertained that he must
be in a foreign land, as the forms of the mountains and trees were
quite different from any he had before seen. The hall seemed to be
high in the air, as if it were the upper story of a lofty tower. No
other edifice was to be seen, and from the windows he could not
distinguish what shrubs and plants bloomed beneath. He drew the
curtain aside, and discovered a doorway; but there was a thick metal
door which he could not open. He was now very much embarrassed, for he
began to feel hungry, and could find nothing that would serve him for
food. He examined the walls to see if he could discover any concealed
outlet; he tried to open the lattices, that he might put his head out,
and see if there were any body beneath, to whom he might cry out.
There was no door; he could not open the lattices; and as far as he
could strain his sight in every direction, he could see nobody: he
threw himself in despair on the pillow, wrung his hands, and wept, and
cried: "I am then imprisoned--imprisoned in a dungeon where splendour
and riches are lavished around! Of what avail is it that these walls
are built of precious stones? that this lattice is of fine gold, that
this cage is of gold, and hangs on a golden chain? I am as much a
prisoner behind golden lattices as I should be behind a grating of
iron." Then he rose and shouted through the lattices, in hopes that
his voice might be heard, and aid brought; but nobody appeared, and no
one answered him. When he again threw himself weeping on his couch,
after these useless efforts, he observed that the white bird
fluttered restlessly in its prison, and pecked at the golden dish for
its food, without finding any.

"Poor brother in misfortune," said Medjeddin, "you shall not suffer
want; I will take care of you; come, I will bring you what you want."

He took the pans from the cage, filling one with water from the urn,
and the other with grain from the gold box which the old man had given
him. Scarcely had he hung the last on the cage, when, on turning
round, he saw a table behind him covered with costly viands. He was
astonished, and could not understand how this had happened; still it
was not long before he attacked the meats with the zest of a young man
who had fasted nearly all day. Although these viands were altogether
different from those he had been accustomed to taste in his father's
house, they all appeared excellent. He ate till he was fully
satisfied, and then took from the table a golden cup, and quenched his
thirst with pure water from the urn. After this he threw himself on a
couch and fell asleep. When he awoke he felt strong and well. He arose
and began to make another tour of the hall, and he then observed that
the table with the meats had disappeared. This was a disappointment,
as he had thought to make a good supper of the remainder. He did not
allow this, however, to trouble him much, as he now felt pretty sure
that he was not to die of hunger. He next proceeded to scrutinise his
prison more closely: he examined all anew, pillars, walls, and floor;
but could no where find a crevice or a fissure: all was fast and
whole. His view from the windows did not allow him to make any further
discovery; he only saw that he was very far above the earth, and in a
spacious valley; mountains were to be seen in the distance, with
curiously-pointed summits. As soon as he had completed this
examination, and found there was nothing to occupy him, he turned his
attention to the white bird in the cage. Here was still life; and if
the cage was narrow, yet the prisoner could hop about on the different
perches. Soon it remained still and gazed at him with its bright eyes,
which seemed as if sense and speech lay in them, the interpretation
only was wanting.

Night put an end to these reflections. Next morning he observed that
the bird again wanted food. He filled its seed-pan with grain from his
golden box, and gave it fresh water from the urn. Scarcely had he done
this, when the table covered with meats again stood in the same place
as the day before. This day passed like the former, and the following
in the same manner; Medjeddin wept and mourned, took care of the
little bird, fed it, and was every time rewarded in the same manner
with the table covered with dishes as soon as he had filled the bird's
seed-pan. He could not perceive who brought the table, nor how it
disappeared. It always came whilst he stood beside the cage with his
back turned, and without any noise. On the ninth day the old man
suddenly appeared to him, and said, "To-day is a day of rest for you;
you have performed your duty during the preceding days in giving the
bird its food, you may now amuse yourself in the garden till evening."
He led him through a door into a narrow passage, at the end of which
they descended twenty steps; he then opened a small metal trap-door,
and then Medjeddin descended twenty steps more: they next came to a
similar door, and descended twenty more steps to a third, and so on,
till, after passing the ninth door, they found themselves in the open
air.

"Remain here till you are called," said the old man, who went back
into the building through the same doors, which he shut after him.
Medjeddin was very curious to examine more closely the building in
which he had been imprisoned: he therefore went round it, and narrowly
observed it. It was a tower of nine stories, each about fifteen feet
in height. The tower was nine-sided, with a window in the third side
of each story, so arranged that no window was directly over another,
and that consequently only three altogether appeared in each side of
the tower from bottom to top. This distribution of regularity and
order reigned throughout the whole building. The walls were made of
large pieces of gold, quite as smooth as glass; and these were so
skilfully put together that, even when closely looked at, the joints
could not be discovered. The lattices of the windows were all of gold,
like those in the upper hall, and the lower doors through which he had
passed were of a yellow metal, inclining to green. All these
considerations were not calculated to lessen his conviction that no
man could possibly find him out in such a prison. Suddenly a new hope
awoke in him: "I am no longer shut up in the tower," said he to
himself; "here I am in the open air, in a garden: I can clamber and
jump like a monkey; I may possibly find some outlet from this garden,
by which I can escape." He immediately turned from the tower, and
hastened through the gardens, seeking freedom; but he soon discovered
that this hope was vain. He found the gardens surrounded on all sides
by a lofty wall, constructed of the same materials, and quite as
glassy, as the tower. After making the whole circuit of the garden, he
at length found a gate, consisting of a grating of strong iron bars,
polished to the highest degree of smoothness, and so close together,
that he could scarcely pass his arm through. He tried to climb it by
holding by the upper bars with his hands; but his feet slipped on the
smooth iron, and he hurt his knee so much, that he lost his hold and
fell backwards on the earth. He next examined the grating closely to
see if there were no means of escape; but all was in vain: every where
the bars were high, thick, and like polished glass. Sorrowfully he
wandered round the garden; the sun's rays darting down scorched up the
grass, and he sought some shade where he might screen himself from
their influence. He lay down on a mossy bank, and meditated anew on
his fate. Besides his own grief at his imprisonment, the thought of
his father's sorrow at his loss pained him. The exhaustion consequent
on tears and loud lamentations, joined with the noontide heat, at last
caused him to fall into a deep sleep. When he awoke, the table covered
with meats was again before him; he ate, and wandered again mournfully
through the garden, meditating whether he could not make a ladder from
the trees around him, to aid him in his escape over the grating. But
there was something wanting for this work; he had not even a dagger or
a knife. As he thus thought, the old man appeared, and said, "Evening
is drawing on; follow me in." He led him again to the upper room of
the tower, and locked the metal door upon him.

There was no change observable in his prison, only the bird seemed
harassed and mournful; it sat quiet and still on the lowest perch, its
plumage was rough, and its eyes dull. "Poor creature," said Medjeddin,
"what is the matter? are you ill?" It seemed as if the bird was
affected by these sympathising questions, but it soon sank again into
its former dejection. He mused long upon this. The next day and the
following ones passed like the former; but on the ninth the old man
again appeared, led him into the garden, and at night conducted him
back into the hall. He took care of the bird; and as soon as he had
given it food and water, he always found the table covered with meats
behind him. In the intervals he stood at the lattice of one of the
three windows looking on the plain below, earnestly hoping to catch
sight of some person to free him from his captivity. In such
monotonous employment many months passed away: every ninth day the old
man appeared, and gave him leave to walk in the garden; but he did not
derive much amusement from his strolls in this narrow enclosure. In
the mean time he asked the old man many times the reason of his
imprisonment, and how long it was to last. No answer was vouchsafed
but these words: "Every man has his own fate; this is thine."

One day the old man appeared and led him into the garden as usual; but
he had not been there more than a quarter of an hour, when he
returned, called him in, and then quickly retired with marks of
disquietude. Medjeddin also remarked that the white bird, which he had
learnt to love more every day, sat at the bottom of its cage, more
mournful than it usually was after the old man's visit. He drew near,
and observed a little door in the cage which he had never before seen.
He examined it closely, and found a fine bolt which passed into a ring
of gold wire. These were made so skilfully, and worked into the
ornamental parts of the cage so cunningly, that nobody could have
discovered them if his attention had not been drawn to them by design
or accident. Medjeddin pushed back the bolt and opened the door; the
bird started up as if some sudden joy had seized it, hopped out, and
as soon as it touched the floor was transformed, and in its stead a
young maiden stood before Medjeddin, clothed in a white silk robe;
beautiful dark locks streamed over her neck and shoulders, and a thin
fragrant veil fell over them, confined by a fillet set with precious
stones; her finely-formed countenance was as white as ivory, relieved
by the softest shade of the rose. Surprised and astonished, Medjeddin
started back and said, "By the beard of the prophet, I conjure you to
tell me whether you are of human race, or whether you belong to the
genii?"

"I am a helpless maiden," said she, "and implore you to deliver me
from the hands of this cruel magician; I will reward you handsomely
for it: know, I am the only daughter of Omar, king of Zanguebar; and
this wicked enchanter has cunningly carried me off from my father's
palace, and shut me up in this cage. He has one son, as ugly as night,
whom he wishes me to take for my husband. Every ninth day he comes,
brings his son with him, and praises his excellent qualities. This he
has done regularly for many months past, tormenting me at every visit
for my consent to this odious union; and he now threatens me with
cruel tortures if I give it not by the next new moon. On that day he
will have kept me a year in imprisonment, and longer than a year he
says he will not continue to entreat: then will the time of my
punishment begin; I conjure you therefore to help me." At these words
she burst into a flood of tears.

"Noble maiden," answered Medjeddin, "how willingly would I free you!
but, alas, I am as helpless as yourself, and cannot even free myself.
But tell me how is it? you say the enchanter brings his hateful son
with him--why, then, have I never seen him?"

"He always sends you away when he comes," answered the princess.

"But even then," pursued Medjeddin, "the son could not conceal himself
from me on the stairs, or in the narrow passage."

"Quite true," she answered, "but he carries him in his pocket."

"What," exclaimed Medjeddin in astonishment, "in his pocket!--how can
that be?"

The princess informed him that the young man became on the occasion of
each visit a white bird, like herself: that the enchanter put him into
the cage with her, and that she felt such a dislike to him that she
always fluttered about the cage to avoid getting near him; but that
he, with the pertinacious obstinacy of a brutal affection, would
follow her and settle confidingly near her. "You must," she continued,
"have remarked how tired and mournful I always was on the ninth day
when you returned."

Medjeddin, astonished at this explanation, assured her of his
willingness to free her, but bewailed his helplessness. The princess,
however, would not give up hopes of their success. "It seems to me,"
said she, "a good omen that the enchanter has to-day received a
message which caused him to leave so early, and in such haste that he
did not securely close the cage, and that you returned so early to-day
from the garden; this day is my birthday, the only day I can be
delivered from the magician's power; on any other day I should still
have remained a dumb bird, even if you had freed me from my cage; only
on this day has my touching the floor had power to restore me to my
natural form; the enchantment lies in the cage."

Medjeddin instantly seized the cage, exclaiming, "If it be so, we will
break the enchantment." He threw the cage to the ground, stamped on it
with his feet till it was quite flat, and its shape no longer
distinguishable, then he rolled it together, and threw it into a
corner of the hall.

At this moment a frightful noise like thunder resounded through the
air. The whole building shook as with a furious tempest, the doors
flew open with a crash, the curtains were drawn aside, and the
magician stood before them with a countenance full of anger. "Ah,"
cried he, "weak worms, what have you presumed to do? how did you learn
to break my charm in this manner? who bid you destroy the cage?"

Medjeddin was so terrified he could answer nothing. The enchanter then
turned to the maiden and cried, "And you, you thought this miserable
worm could defend you against my power: I will show you how useless it
is to oppose me."

He felt in the pocket of his black robe, and pulled out thence a small
box; this he opened, and a white bird flew out and perched on the
table. He then took a smaller box from his girdle and opened it,--it
was filled with grains of millet; from these he took one, and laid it
before the bird, who had scarcely eaten it before such a distorted man
stood in its place, that both Medjeddin and the princess screamed
aloud. His head was large and thick, his eyes red and dark, his nose
small and quite flat, his lips thick and blueish red, his chin broad
and projecting, and on his head grew a few stiff white hairs; a hump
grew out in front, and a similar one behind; his shoulders were quite
drawn up, and his head so jammed between them that his ears could not
be seen. The upper part of his body was so unwieldy, and his legs so
weak and thin that it was wonderful how they supported him; he
tottered about incessantly, balancing himself first on one leg, then
on the other.

"Come forward, my son," said the enchanter to this deformed creature;
"behold, there is your bride; she does not wish to wait till the new
moon which I fixed upon for your betrothal: to-day she has effected
her own change by the help of this friend. Go, my son, give your bride
a kiss, and then thank this young man."

The deformed creature approached the princess with a horrible fiendish
laugh; she averted her face with disgust, and stretched out her arms
to motion him away. But by this time Medjeddin's courage had returned:
resolving to venture all, he stepped before the princess and gave the
deformity such a blow that he reeled and fell backwards. His head
struck in the fall on the corner of the pedestal of one of the marble
pillars with such violence, that his skull was broken: a stream of
blood flowed from the wound, and the monster gave a hollow groan.
Medjeddin thought of nothing but the father's rage and revenge, and
gave up his life for lost. But the enchanter stood quite confounded as
he observed his son's mortal wound, and appeared stupified with horror
and amazement. Presently he threw himself down beside him, examined
the injury, and wrung his hands, forgetting his revenge in his sorrow.
Medjeddin quickly seized the hand of the princess, and led her through
the door and down the stairs: all the doors were open, and they found
their way without any obstacle into the garden. Soon they stood before
the grating of the iron gate, which was closed.

"Of what use is our flight?" said Medjeddin despondingly; "we are
still as much as ever in the power of the enchanter; and even if we
were on the other side of the gate, and concealed in the deepest
cavern, he would discover us by his knowledge, and wreak his vengeance
on us."

"I am of a different opinion," said the princess; "I know many of the
things on which the superior power of this magician depends, and I
believe that if we could only get out of this place, we should be
safe."

They went on a little further, and came to a spot where a number of
trees had been uprooted by the hurricane; one of these lay overturned
with its summit resting on the top of the wall, and its boughs and
branches hanging far over the other side. At this sight the young man
rejoiced; he climbed quickly on to the trunk, pulling the princess
after him, and guiding her with great care and tenderness into the top
of the tree. They then clambered over the wall in spite of a
formidable row of spikes, and let themselves down on the other side by
the overhanging branches of the tree. These did not quite reach to the
ground, but near enough for them to leap down; they let go
accordingly, and fell gently to the earth; then jumping up, they
proceeded as rapidly as the strength of the princess and the
difficulties of the way would allow them, through thickets, underwood,
and plains studded with prickly plants, towards the distant mountains.

After the two fugitives had continued their flight for several hours
without looking back on the scene of their imprisonment, the princess
felt her strength exhausted, and that she could go no further; she
begged her companion, therefore, to stop and rest for a short time.
Medjeddin sought a place free from bushes, and clad with moss and long
grass; they seated themselves there, and Medjeddin entreated the
princess to relate her history. She was too much exhausted at first,
but after a short pause recovered her strength and commenced thus:

"My early history is very simple. I am called Jasmin, the only
daughter of the sultan of Zanguebar. My mother was brought over the
wide-stretching sea, from beyond Arabia and Mount Caucasus, and was
sold to him as a slave. Soon attracted by her beauty and manners, he
raised her to the dignity of wife. My earliest youth was spent in
happy sports under my mother's eyes, who died, however, before I had
passed the age of childhood, as the change from the mild climate of
her land to the heat of my father's shortened her days. My father
loved me as his greatest treasure, and confided me to a careful nurse.
Every evening I passed several hours with him, as soon as he was
released from the cares of government, and one whole day in each week
he devoted to conversation with me. On that day we always went
together in a light bark to a neighbouring promontory, where he had a
beautiful palace and gardens. The air there was cooler and more
refreshing, the trees and shrubs were clothed with fresher green than
in the shut-up garden in the capital, and we passed the whole day in
the open air. In the mean time I had outgrown childhood, and was
beloved by a prince, the son of a neighbouring king, to whom I was
betrothed, and who was to succeed my father in his kingdom. This
prince, whose name was Mundiana Mesoud, often accompanied us in these
visits to the castle on the promontory.

"It happened one day, as we were sitting on a terrace by the sea, that
a foreign ship anchored just below us. A stranger caused himself to be
landed in a little boat, and asked us permission to appear before us,
as he had many costly wares to offer for sale. I was desirous to see
his wares, and begged my father to admit him. The man laid many costly
trinkets of gold and precious stones before us; and my father bought
some which pleased me the most. I remarked that the merchant watched
me closely, but he did this with such evident pleasure that my vanity
ascribed it to his admiration of my charms, and found no harm in it.
Whilst he showed his goods, he let fall some words which intimated
that he had left his most precious articles behind in the ship; he had
there, he said, many curious birds, particularly a snow-white bird
which was the most beautiful of all creatures of this kind. He managed
thus to excite my curiosity so much that I begged my father to allow
me to go with the stranger to his ship to see these rarities. My
father was weak enough to comply with this unreasonable wish. A
suitable train ought to have accompanied me, but the stranger
prevented this; he said his boat had only room in it for three people,
and that he should not like to show his wares if many strangers came
into his ship. 'They are only things fit for the royal princess,' he
said; 'there is no fear that I should expose her to danger. I can
never forget that a powerful king has entrusted his only daughter to
my care. However, the prince may accompany you as a watchful
protector.' We accompanied the merchant to the ship; there we found an
immense number of extraordinary things and unknown animals. In the
place where in other ships the rowers sat, were great apes; on high on
the mast sat an eagle; in the cabins were many large and small cages
of smooth ebony with thick gold bars, behind which moved a confused
multitude of animals.

"My desire was now directed to the snow-white bird, about which I made
inquiry. He showed it me high up in a sort of box; and as I could not
see it distinctly, he took it out and placed it in my hand. 'The most
wonderful circumstance,' said he, 'connected with this bird is, that,
being a native of a far distant country, when removed to this it can
only remain a few days alive, but I have found the corn of life of
which I give it some grains each week, and it is then refreshed for
nine days.' We asked for the corn of life, of which we had never
heard; and he opened a little box and took out three grains. He gave
me one to give the bird, the other I was to try, and the third prince
Mesoud. When I offered the grain to the bird, it refused it; and when
I pressed my hand closer, drew back, lost its balance and fell down
with outspread wings. I hastened to it, picked it up perhaps somewhat
roughly, and as it tried to escape, I held some of its tail-feathers
fast, so that it lay fluttering in my hand. I was very much
frightened, and the merchant seemed so also. He soon laughed, however,
with a sort of malicious joy, and said that I should swallow the corn,
because it would prevent the flight of the frightened prisoner; he
said the same to the prince; and we swallowed the grains at the same
moment. I felt a wonderful transformation pass over me, and found that
I was changed into a snow-white bird; and when I looked towards the
prince, in his stead I saw a black bird. Upon this the stranger, who
was no other than the enchanter, seized me, and shut me up in the
golden cage which you have trodden to pieces. The apes began to ply
the oars, and the ship moved with unusual swiftness over the sea. I
still saw my father and the attendants on the terrace, and could
distinguish their gestures of wonder as they saw the ship depart; I
believed even that I heard their voices calling us back. But what
could I do in my cage? The black bird flew to the promontory; and from
that moment I have neither heard nor seen any thing of prince Mesoud.

"When my home was far in the distance, and even the summit of the
mountains which overhung it could no longer be distinguished, the
enchanter rose with my cage high in the air, leaving his ship behind,
and bore me into the hall of the tower. How he brought the other white
bird, I do not know; I only know that he took it out of his pocket and
put it into the cage. 'Now you have a companion,' said he. As I took
him for a real bird, I considered myself, though unfortunate, superior
to him, and drew myself back into a corner. But the bird came nearer
and followed me round the cage. At last I lost patience, and pecked
his eyes. When the enchanter saw this, he took out a little box and
took from it a grain which he laid before the bird, who picked it up
immediately. It was then changed into a man, the same ugly wretch you
saw in the tower. He desired me, as I have already told you, to take
that deformity for my husband; and promised me that, on my consent, I
should be immediately restored to my proper form, and assured me that
otherwise I should always remain as a bird, except on my birthday. It
was also part of my enchantment to be obliged to allure you here. I
have now no other wish than to return to my father in Zanguebar,
because I know he is living in great affliction."

This relation vividly reminded Medjeddin of his own father; he knew,
from the great love he had always shown him, that he must have pined
for his loss, and his mournful countenance and bowed-down form
presented themselves before his mind. "Princess," said he, "your
desire cannot be greater than mine. Still, I swear to you, that I will
not return to my father till I have safely conducted you to your
native land, or have seen you safe into the hands of those who will
bring you to your father; if I do not, may Heaven not grant my father
life to receive this joy!"

They journeyed on with renewed vigour. But evening was drawing near,
and it was necessary to find a resting-place for the night; fortune
was favourable; they soon found a nook overhung by a large and lofty
bush. Medjeddin broke away the boughs, so as to form a hedge which
fenced round a small spot in which he concealed the princess, leaving
only a narrow entrance, before which he lay down to watch. Night
passed without danger. However anxiously Medjeddin strove against
sleep in order to watch over his companion, it at last weighed down
his eyelids; and they both awoke with the first rays of the sun. They
wandered the whole day, resting occasionally; at every step the
journey became more hazardous; the thickets became thicker and higher;
they were often obliged to creep between the boughs, and their clothes
hung in rags. On the fourth day they reached the foot of the
mountains. There they found cultivated land and human habitations.
Medjeddin inquired where they were, and asked the way to the sea. The
people told them the name of the country, which was unknown to
Medjeddin and to the princess Jasmin, and added, that on the other
side of the high mountains lay a large flat land, bordering on the
sea. They received this information with great joy, and, tired and
footsore as they were, addressed themselves, without loss of time, to
the task of crossing the mountains, and at last, after a wearisome
journey, during which they had seen the sun rise and set seven times,
they arrived at the flat country and the sea-coast of which they had
been told. A ship lay ready at anchor; and when they inquired its
destination, the steersman answered, "We are going to Zanguebar, to
fetch a cargo of cinnamon." To Medjeddin's question where they came
from, and the name of the land where they were, he received for
answer, "that the ship belonged to a merchant of Balsora, and that it
had been cast on these unknown shores by a violent storm."

When the princess perceived that the ship was going towards her native
land, she was very much rejoiced. She took one of the precious stones
out of the fillet on her forehead, and gave it for the passage money
of herself and her companion. The following morning they weighed
anchor, and, after a prosperous voyage, reached the very same place
where the enchanter's ship had formerly lain at anchor, when he
carried off the princess.

They were landed in a small boat, and Jasmin led her deliverer through
the beautiful leafy walks of the imperial gardens. In this way they
came to a terrace, from which they could see the ship. Instead of
pressing hastily forwards, they concealed themselves behind a bush,
for on the terrace sat a venerable and noble-looking man, with the
profoundest melancholy stamped on his features; he was looking
seawards, and the vessel had just caught his eye; a flood of tears ran
down his face, "Ah!" cried he, "it was just so on the day that my
sorrows began! There lay the ship of the robber; there landed the boat
which carried away my beloved daughter and her betrothed. It was even
at the same hour of the day. I have sent messengers into all the
neighbouring lands; I have caused the opposite sea-coasts to be
searched; but all has been in vain. I must die, and never see my child
again."

He pronounced these words aloud, and covered his face, as he bowed
himself forward on his hands.

The princess Jasmin was rushing towards him, but Medjeddin held her
back, and said, "Let me first prepare him for your arrival, for
otherwise joy may kill him." And he came forward, and bowed himself
before the sorrowing old man.

The king then said, "Who are you? Are you a beggar, and do you need
any gift? It shall be given you; go to my palace."

Medjeddin stood up and answered, "From my appearance, you might well
take me for a beggar, O great king Omar. But know that under these
ragged clothes is concealed a magician, who is able to change your
tears into smiles, your sobs into transports of joy."

"Can any man on earth do this?" asked Omar.

"I have only to speak three words," answered the other, "and it will
happen. Are you strong enough to support the highest joy that your
heart can feel or conceive?"

At these questions, a ray of hope kindled in the soul of the mourning
father. "What is it? Who are you who can promise this?" asked he; and,
on Medjeddin repeating his question, he answered, "I think so,"
regarding him, at the same time, with eager looks.

"Approach, princess Jasmin," cried the youth; and she sprang forward
into her father's open arms.

Medjeddin's promise was indeed fulfilled; the aged monarch's tears
were changed into smiles of joy. Their embrace continued long. At last
Omar raised himself, beckoned Medjeddin to approach, and said, "You
are indeed a magician such as I have never seen before. By your words
you have changed the mournful course of my life into the brightest
sunshine. I will not now ask you who you are, and what I have to thank
you for, nor inquire what chance brought you to my daughter; I shall
only give myself up to joy at her return."

They went back to the capital in the king's barge, and soon the joyful
news of the unexpected reappearance of the princess spread every
where. Crowds assembled at the palace to ascertain if the news were
true, and the princess at length went out of the principal gate of the
palace, and showed herself at the head of the flight of steps which
led up to it. Then arose a shout of joy from ten thousand voices, and
loud wishes for her health and happiness.

The next day, after the king had heard from his daughter the history
of her imprisonment, and of the devotion with which Medjeddin had
watched over her and when Medjeddin had in turn narrated his history
Omar became very thoughtful, and caused his council to assemble, to
deliberate how they should reward him. "If he were not so young," said
some of them "he might be made grand vizier, the next in dignity to
the king, or be appointed governor of a province. But his youth
prevents his being placed over the people next to the king."

After longer consultation, the eldest of the councillors rose, and
said, "Omar, my king and lord, the youth has certainly performed a
great service to you and the princess Jasmin; it seems to me,
therefore, that his reward ought to come from you. It is fitting that
the king, having received from him a great benefit in his family,
should reward him from his family. Were I in such a case, I would
constitute him Mundiana, and give him for a wife the daughter whom he
has restored."

The whole assembly were of the same opinion, and the king gave them to
understand that this was also his wish. "I am old," said he, "and can
easily perceive that the cares of this land will soon need other hands
to support them. I shall be much pleased to see my daughter with so
good a husband. The prince Mundiana Mesoud, whom I had before chosen,
has disappeared; and this youth, although of lower birth, is of noble
soul, and will soon, under my guidance, acquire the necessary
experience to enable him to promote justice and order in my kingdom."

He did not delay, but immediately caused Medjeddin to be called. A
costly band of gold and silver was fastened round his forehead, and
the king then said, "I herewith appoint you Mundiana;" and the
assembled councillors immediately added their congratulations.

Medjeddin expressed his gratitude in becoming terms, but inquired,
smiling, what was the precise nature of the dignity conferred on him.

The eldest councillor stepped forward and said, "This name points out
the highest post of honour which the king can bestow. You are found
worthy of this honour, and no other lives who bears the title, because
the Mundiana Prince Mesoud has disappeared."

An elephant covered with costly trappings was now brought in by its
keeper, and upon it was a richly ornamented seat. On this the new
officer was placed, and led through the streets. Heralds went before
him, and cried aloud, "Listen to what Omar makes known to all people.
This youth has restored to him his dearest jewel, which he had lost.
In gratitude, the king has nominated him Mundiana, and has appointed
his daughter Jasmin for his wife. To-morrow the betrothal will be
celebrated; and every body is invited to the court of the palace to
partake of the general joy."

Medjeddin hardly knew how all this had come about. He had received
clothes and rich arms as a present from the king, and the king so
highly favoured him, that he was not only to be husband of the
princess Jasmin, but was to succeed Omar on the throne, and to reign
over that beautiful and rich land. In his happiness he forgot his
early life, his father's sorrow, and even his playfellow Maryam and
his father's faithful friend Salek, and thought no more of his home or
his father-land. The next day his betrothal with the princess was
celebrated with great pomp.

The princess had willingly yielded to her father's wish, without
manifesting any particular joy, although, she felt a very sincere
friendship for her intended husband, and treated him with great
respect and attention, as she did not forget in her prosperity how
much she had owed to him in the time of misfortune. The first days and
weeks after the ceremony of betrothal were devoted to recreation and
amusement, after which he was formally introduced by the king to the
council, and instructed in the business of the state. The king and
councillors had soon reason to wonder at the acuteness of his judgment
in difficult cases, and above all, at his quick perception of right
and order. Throughout the country, the justice and wisdom of the
king's future son-in-law were praised, and it was hoped that fortune
would permit him to rule over the land. A whole year had now elapsed,
and the day was fast approaching when he was to marry the princess and
ascend the throne. One day, as usual, he sought his betrothed, the
princess Jasmin, in her apartments. He happened to enter very rapidly
after his announcement by the attendant, and saw the princess hastily
wiping her eyes; and as he drew nearer, he perceived the traces of her
tears. Sympathising with her, he asked the cause of her grief; she
tried to avoid answering him, but as he continued to urge her, she at
last said, "I dare tell you why these tears flow, because you are good
and compassionate, and will not consider it a crime that I have a
feeling and constant heart. You know that I was formerly beloved by
prince Mesoud, the son of the neighbouring king; I related to you that
this prince was changed into a black bird by the enchanter, and flew
from the ship to the promontory of the island where our country seat
was situated. Now I must tell you that I grieve so much the more about
this prince's fate, as from my own change I can compassionate his
mournful condition. I could not repress the desire to ascertain his
fate, and I have obtained certain news of his present condition, by
the secret knowledge of a certain wise man. I have learned that he
still lives in his new form, and that he has flown away, from fear of
the machinations of the demon hunter, called among us Dolda Waldas,
and is now in far distant regions; and that it is ordained by fate
that he shall never regain his human form if I give my hand to another
husband. Sorrow at his mournful destiny has drawn these tears from my
eyes, the traces of which you observed."

This narrative made a deep impression on Medjeddin; he discovered that
Jasmin had acceded to her father's wish only from gratitude and filial
obedience, whilst her affections were still fixed on the absent
prince. He saw that he could purchase the good fortune of being the
husband of the noble princess, and son-in-law of the great king Omar,
and after him king of Zanguebar, only by the misfortunes of prince
Mesoud. He asked himself if this were right, and was obliged to
confess that justice and honour were opposed to it. He saw that the
intoxication of good fortune had hitherto blinded him. Then the
remembrance of his father came before him, and his imagination
pictured him pining away at the uncertainty of his son's fate. He
bitterly reproached himself for his long forgetfulness, and for not
having sent an embassy to announce his safe arrival in Zanguebar.
Scarcely had these thoughts and feelings arisen in his breast, than he
made up his mind: he went to the king, told him all, and begged him to
let him go and fulfil a son's duty to a father whom he had too long
neglected. Omar sighed deeply at these disclosures of his expected
son-in-law; he proposed to send a ship to bring his father, so that he
might spend the rest of his life in sharing his son's good fortune and
companionship. Upon this Medjeddin declared to him, with
determination, that he could never be his son-in-law or successor to
the throne. "I cannot purchase such good fortune at another's
expense," said he; "it was otherwise before I knew the decision of
fate; but now that I know that the prince Mesoud must, through my
happiness, always remain in his present condition, if I thus take away
the possibility of his ever returning to his human form, I should be
in the highest degree culpable, if I did not voluntarily give up my
good fortune."

All the persuasions and arguments of Omar were useless. The
councillors also, and the grand vizier and the governors of the
provinces, begged him to continue in the land, and to take still more
share in the government. He remained firm in his resolution; he
promised the princess, who was astonished at his honourable spirit,
that, as soon as he had seen and comforted his father, he would seek
information about prince Mesoud from all the sages and magicians of
his native land, and that he would try all means to restore him to his
former condition. As he was determined to set out, the king gave him
costly presents, including many precious stones from his treasury, and
provided him with a ship, and all necessaries for the voyage.

The heavens seemed to favour the resolution of the returning son: the
finest weather and most favourable winds seconded his journey, and the
ship anchored in the harbour without accident. He took some servants,
bought some camels, which he loaded with the king's presents, and so
went through Balsora along the river to Bagdad. One beautiful evening
he came near the city, and recognised the very place where he had lain
at the feet of his father and Salek, and listened to their
conversation; their last discourse there returned to his memory.
"Well," said he to himself, "my own experience has indeed proved how
true it is that it is easy for a man to be seduced from virtue into
one false step, if he be not watchful, but relies on his own power: I
thought that my heart was sure to be always right, and neglected the
practice of weighing carefully each action beforehand. In this manner
have I so much forgotten my love for my father, and had nearly
committed a great wrong, having been about to sacrifice to my vanity,
in the intoxication of good fortune, the happiness of the princess and
her betrothed. And you, my father, were also right when you maintained
that a heart accustomed to virtue from early years would only for a
short time wander from the right road. I have myself experienced the
truth of these words, and I therefore thank you with tears that you
brought me up to what was good." As he spoke, he espied a small
solitary hut where the palm-trees used to stand. A venerable man, much
marked by sorrow, appeared at the door; he stood still before the
threshold, and regarded the youth with astonishment; the young man
gazed earnestly at him. Then suddenly recognising the features of the
old man, he threw himself on his knees before him, seized his hand,
and covered it with kisses.

"My father," cried he, "is it so indeed? have you become so much
altered in the course of so few years? that is my fault. Father,
forgive your offending son, who forgot you in the height of
prosperity."

El Kattab extended his other hand to him, blessed him, and said: "Rise
up, my son, rise; he who feels repentance is forgiven." He rose and
threw himself into his father's arms.

When he looked up again, he saw a man approaching, accompanied by a
maiden, whose features he recognised. It was Salek and his daughter
Maryam, Medjeddin's playfellow. After welcoming him, they sat down,
and Medjeddin related to them all that had happened to him since the
memorable evening. He related, truly and candidly, how he had
forgotten his father, and nearly fallen into greater crimes, because
he had been blinded by fortune, by greatness, and by honours. As they
were sitting and conversing, they observed three birds coming up from
a distance, and who seemed to be chasing one another. They soon
perceived that one of them was a black bird flying in great fright
from a large hawk. It was obvious that the hawk would soon have seized
his prey, had he not been pursued in turn by a larger bird, to avoid
which, he was often compelled to dart from side to side: at last they
came to close conflict. The pursued black bird fell into Medjeddin's
lap; the hawk, struck by his pursuer, fell to the ground at their
feet, and was, by the strong hooked bill and sharp claws of his
adversary, soon killed and torn to pieces. Scarcely had this taken
place, when the conqueror changed into a venerable-looking sage. He
turned to Medjeddin, who was quite astonished, and said: "Dip quickly
your forefinger in the blood of this slain bird, and anoint with it
the beak of the black one."

Medjeddin obeyed immediately; and scarcely had he touched the black
bird's beak with the blood, ere it was transformed, and a handsome
youth in kingly dress stood before them.

"Guess who this is," said the genius.

"The prince Mesoud?" asked Medjeddin.

The genius answered, "It is he!" And as he stood looking at the young
prince with astonishment, added, "You do not perceive how and why all
this has happened. I could explain to you all these mysteries; but to
what purpose? It is not necessary for weak men to know the threads by
which their fates are linked together: suffice it to know that it was
necessary for you to perform all this, that you might be tried: you
are found worthy, and Heaven rewards you with Maryam, the early
companion of your youth, now to be your wife."

Then Medjeddin turned towards Maryam, and looked inquiringly at Salek,
her father. This latter said, "With joy I listen to the will of fate;
the highest wish of my heart will now be fulfilled."

"Know," continued the genius, "that the slain bird was the enchanter
who transformed the princess Jasmin and the prince Mesoud. They were
also to pass through trials; thus it was decreed by fate. Because the
enchanter only fulfilled the will of fate from selfish motives, and
carried his revenge beyond it, and contrary to it, the king of the
genii commanded me to slay him."

With these words he disappeared from their sight. They returned now in
happy union to the city; and El Kattab, who had built his hut at the
edge of the wood to be always near the place of his sorrow, dwelt
again in his house with his children. The prince proceeded to
Zanguebar in the same ship that had brought Medjeddin. He was received
there with great joy, and was soon married to his early love. But
Medjeddin's name lived long in their memory, and in that of all the
inhabitants of that island.

When the caliph Haroun al Raschid heard of Medjeddin's return, he had
him called before him, and made him relate his history. The caliph was
so pleased with him that he took him into his palace, and gave him an
important post in his court. His history he caused to be inscribed in
the records of his kingdom. And when Giafar, his aged vizier,
expressed a wish to end his life in quietness, the caliph raised
Medjeddin to the grand viziership; and he continued long in this
office, to the pleasure of his friends and the happiness of the
people, by whom he was greatly beloved.



VIII.

THE STORY OF KING BEDREDDIN-LOLO AND HIS VIZIR ATALMULC.


The city of Damascus is one of the most populous and flourishing
cities of the East, and to this capital of a rich kingdom travellers
and caravans arrive from all the countries of the world. Its
sovereigns bear the title of "Prince of the Believers," and their
person is sacred.

Bedreddin-Lolo, king of Damascus, had for his grand vizir a man
celebrated in history for his goodness. This minister, whose real name
was Aswad, but whose great virtues had acquired for him the surname of
Atalmulc[9], was in every way worthy of the high name he had so
obtained; uniting to an indefatigable zeal for the king's service a
vigilance that nothing could deceive, a penetrating and capacious
mind, and a disinterestedness that was universally admired. But he was
surnamed the "sorrowful" vizir, because he appeared to be always
plunged in a profound melancholy. Whatever he did at court was
performed in a grave and serious manner, and he never smiled at the
wittiest remark that was made in his presence.

One day the king entertained this vizir and Sedif-Elmuloak, his
favourite, and related to them, laughing immoderately all the while,
the following misfortunes that happened to a rich old miser.


THE OLD PAIR OF SLIPPERS.

There was at Bagdad a merchant very notorious for his avarice, and his
name was Abou-Cassem-Tambouri. Although he was enormously rich, his
clothes were constantly in rags and tatters, and his turban, made of
coarse stuff, was so dirty that its colour could no longer be
distinguished. Of all his garments, however, his slippers were the
most remarkable; the soles were kept together by large, clumsy nails,
and the upper leathers were pieced in every direction. The famous ship
Argo was not made up of a greater number of separate fragments. During
the ten years of their existence as slippers, the cleverest cobblers
of Bagdad had exerted their utmost skill to tag together their
remains, and had only succeeded by adding piece on piece, by which
means they had become so heavy, that they had passed into a proverb;
and when any one wished to describe something weighty, the slippers of
Cassem were always the object of comparison.

One day, when this merchant was taking a walk in the great bazaar of
the city, a proposal was made to him to buy a considerable quantity of
glass; he agreed to the offer, because it was an advantageous one; and
having heard a few days afterwards, that a perfumer who had fallen
into difficulties had nothing left but some rose-water, which he would
of course be obliged to sell as speedily as possible, Cassem took
advantage of the poor man's misfortune, and purchased it at less than
half its value. This successful stroke of business had put him into
good humour, and instead of giving a great feast, according to the
custom of Eastern merchants, when they have made an excellent bargain,
he thought it better to take a bath, a luxury which he had not enjoyed
for a long time.

Whilst he was taking off his clothes, one of his friends, or at least
one who pretended to be a friend--for it is a rare thing for a miser
to have one--remarked to him that his slippers made him the
laughing-stock of the whole city, and that he certainly ought to
purchase a new pair.

"I have long thought of doing so," replied Cassem; "but my old ones
are not so very bad, and will last me for some time even yet." While
talking, he stripped off his clothes, and entered the bath.

At this juncture the cadi of Bagdad came also to take one. Cassem,
having finished his bath before the judge, went into the first
apartment, where he found his clothes, but not his slippers, which had
disappeared, and in their place was a new pair, which our miser was
convinced were a present from the man who had made him such a friendly
remonstrance about them. With that he made no more ado, but put the
new pair on his own feet, thus sparing himself the pain of buying new
ones, and left the bath overjoyed with his prize.

When the cadi had finished his bath, his slaves looked about in vain,
for their master's slippers, and finding only a wretched pair, which
were immediately recognized as Cassem's, the police ran after the
supposed sharper, and brought him back with the stolen goods upon his
feet. The cadi, after having exchanged the slippers, sent Cassem to
prison; and, as he was well known to be rich as well as avaricious, he
was not allowed to come out of prison until he had paid a handsome
fine.

On returning home the afflicted Cassem threw his slippers, in a rage,
into the Tigris, which flowed beneath his windows. A few days after,
some fishermen, drawing up a net heavier than usual, found in it
Cassem's slippers. The nails, with which they had been patched, had
broken the meshes of the net. The fishermen, out of spite to Cassem
and his slippers, threw them into his room by the open window, and in
their passage they struck the bottles containing the rose-water, and
knocking them down, the bottles were broken and the water totally
lost.

The grief and wrath of Cassem on seeing this may easily be conceived.
He cursed his slippers, and tearing out the hair from his beard, vowed
that they should cause him no more mischief; and so saying, he took a
spade, and digging a hole in his garden, buried them there.

One of his neighbours, however, who had borne him a grudge for a long
time, perceived him turning up the earth, and ran and told the
governor that Cassem had dug up a treasure in his garden. This was
enough to excite the cupidity of the officer, and he sent forthwith
for Cassem. In vain our miser declared that he had not found money,
that he was only employed in burying his slippers. The governor had
calculated on his bribe, and the afflicted Cassem could only regain
his liberty by paying down a second large sum.

Our friend, in an extremity of despair, consigned his slippers to
Shitan[10], and went and threw them into an aqueduct at some distance
from the city, thinking that this time he should hear no more of them.
But as though the evil spirit he had invoked was determined to play
him a trick, the slippers somehow found their way just to the very
pipe of the aqueduct, by this means preventing the flowing of the
water. The persons who had the care of the aqueduct having gone to
ascertain the cause of the stoppage, and to remove it, carried
Cassem's slippers to the governor of the city, declaring them to be
the cause of all the injury. Their unfortunate owner was thrown again
into prison, and condemned to pay a larger fine than before. The
governor who had punished the offence, and who pretended to be
indebted to no one for any thing, returned Cassem's precious slippers
to him again most faithfully; and Cassem, in order to free himself
from all the evils which they had brought upon him, resolved to burn
them. As they were saturated with water, he first of all put them out
to dry in the sun on the terrace of his house. But Cassem's evil
genius had not yet quite done with his tricks, and the last which he
played him was the worst of all.

A neighbour's dog prowling along the terrace on the housetops spied
out the slippers, and, darting at them, carried off one of them. As,
however, the dog was playing with it, and tossing it about, he
contrived to let it fall off the terrace on to the head of a woman who
happened to be passing below. The fright and the violence of the blow
together, made the poor woman quite ill; and her husband having
carried his complaint before the cadi, Cassem was condemned to pay a
fine proportionate to the misfortune of which he had been the cause.
Going home, he took up his slippers, and returned to the cadi with
them in his hands.

"My lord," he exclaimed with a vehemence which excited the judge's
laughter, "my lord, look at the fatal cause of all my troubles! These
abominable slippers have at length reduced me to poverty; be pleased
now to issue a decree, in order that the misfortunes which they will,
no doubt, still continue to occasion, may not be imputed to me."

The cadi could not refuse to comply with this request, and Cassem
learned, at great expense, the danger there is in not changing one's
slippers often enough.

       *       *       *       *       *

The vizir listened to this story with such a serious countenance that
Bedreddin was astonished.

"Atalmulc," he said, "you are of a strange disposition; you seem
always sad and melancholy. During ten years that you have been in my
service I have never seen the slightest sign of pleasure on your
countenance."

"May it please your majesty," replied the vizir, "you need not be
surprised at it; all have their secret sorrows; there is no man on
earth who is exempt from them."

"Your remark is surely untrue," replied the king. "Do you mean to say
that all men have some secret anxiety preying on their minds, because
you appear in that state? Do you really believe this to be the truth?"

"Yes, your majesty," replied Atalmulc; "such is the condition of all
the children of Adam; our bosoms are incapable of enjoying perfect
ease. Judge of others by yourself. Is your majesty quite contented?"

"Oh, as to me," exclaimed Bedreddin, "that is impossible! I have
enemies to deal with--the weight of an empire on my hands--a thousand
cares to distract my thoughts, and disturb the repose of my life; but
I am convinced that there are in the world a vast number of persons
whose days run on in unruffled enjoyment."

The vizir Atalmulc, however, pertinaciously adhered to what he had
stated, so that the king, seeing him so strongly attached to his
opinion, said to him:

"If no one is exempt from vexation, all the world, at any rate, is not
like you, wholly overcome by affliction. You have made me, however,
very curious to know what it is that has rendered you so pensive and
sorrowful; tell me therefore the reason of your melancholy."

"I shall comply with your majesty's wish," replied the vizir, "and
reveal the cause of my secret cares to you, by relating the history of
my life."


THE HISTORY OF ATALMULC, SURNAMED "THE SORROWFUL VIZIR," AND THE
PRINCESS ZELICA.

I am the only son of a rich jeweller of Bagdad. My father, whose name
was Cogia Abdallah, spared no expense in my education; having from my
earliest infancy hired masters, who taught me the various sciences,
philosophy, law, theology, and more particularly the different
languages of Asia, in order that they might be useful to me in my
travels, if I should ever make any in that part of the world.

Shortly after this my father died, and when the funeral ceremony,
which was magnificent, was over, I took possession of all his immense
property. Instead of giving myself up to the pursuit of pleasure, I
resolved to devote myself to my father's profession. Being well versed
in the knowledge of precious stones, I had reason to believe that I
should succeed in business, and accordingly I went into partnership
with two merchant jewellers of Bagdad, friends of my father, who were
about to undertake a trading expedition to Ormus. At Basra we hired a
vessel, and embarked on our enterprise from the bay which bears the
name of that city.

Our companions on board were agreeable; the ship wafted by favourable
winds glided swiftly through the waves. We passed the time in festive
mirth, and our voyage promised to end as pleasantly as we could
desire, when my two associates gave me a startling proof that they
were not the honourable characters I had supposed. We were just at the
end of our voyage, and being in good spirits on that account, we held
a sort of farewell feast, and did ample justice to some exquisite
wines which we had laid in at Basra. For my part, being in the highest
spirits, I made copious libations, and, on retiring to rest, lay down
on a sofa, without taking off my clothes. In the middle of the night,
while I was buried in profound slumber, my partners took me up in
their arms, and threw me over-board through the cabin window. Death
would seem inevitable under the circumstances, and in truth it is
still impossible for me to imagine how I was fortunate enough to
survive such a catastrophe. The sea was running high at the time, but
the waves, as if Heaven had commanded them to spare me, instead of
overwhelming me, bore me to the foot of a mountain, and cast me
violently on shore. As soon as I recovered the shock, I found myself
safe and sound on the beach, where I passed the remainder of the night
in thanking God for my deliverance, at which I could not sufficiently
wonder.

At break of day I clambered up with great difficulty to the top of the
mountain, which was very steep, and met there with some peasants of
the neighbourhood, who were occupied in collecting crystal, which they
afterwards sold at Ormus. I related to them the danger in which my
life had been placed, and my escape seemed miraculous to them, as well
as to myself. These worthy people took pity on me, gave me part of
their provisions, which consisted of honey and rice, and as soon as
they had finished gathering their crystal, acted as my guides to the
great city of Ormus. I put up at a caravansary, where the first object
that met my eyes was one of my associates.

His surprise was great at seeing a man whom he no doubt believed to be
safely housed in some marine monster's stomach, and he ran off
instantly to find his companion, in order to acquaint him with my
arrival, and to plan how they should receive me. They soon settled as
to their course of proceeding, and, returning to the place where I
was, they took no notice of me, and studiously conducted themselves as
though they had never seen me before.

"O traitors!" I exclaimed, "Heaven frustrated your murderous
intentions, and in spite of your cruelty I am still alive; give me
back instantly all my precious stones; I will no longer associate with
such vile wretches."

On hearing these words, which ought to have overwhelmed them with
shame and remorse, they had the impudence to reply:

"O thief and rogue! who are you, and where do you come from? What
precious stones do you speak of that we have belonging to you?"

So saying, they set on me, and gave me several blows with a stick. I
threatened to complain to the cadi, but they anticipated me by going
to that judge themselves. Bowing down before him, after having
previously taken care to present him with some valuable brilliants,
which no doubt belonged to me, they said to him:

"O lamp of justice! light which dispels the darkness of deceit! We
have recourse to you. We are poor strangers, come from the ends of the
earth to trade here; is it right that a thief should insult us, and
will you permit that he should deprive us by an imposture of what we
have acquired at the risk of our lives, and after running a thousand
dangers?"

"Who is the man of whom you make this complaint?" asked the cadi.

"My lord," they replied, "we do not know him, we never saw him before
this morning."

At this moment I presented myself before the judge, to make my own
complaint, but as soon as they saw me they exclaimed:

"Here is the man--here is the wretch, the arrant thief! He is even
impudent enough to venture into your palace, and show himself before
you, the very sight of whom ought to frighten the guilty. Great judge,
condescend to protect us."

I now approached the cadi, in order to address him, but having no
presents to make to him, I found it impossible to get him to listen to
my story. The calm and unmoved aspect with which I spoke to him,
proceeding from the testimony of a good conscience, was thought by the
cadi's prejudiced mind to arise from impudence, and he ordered his
archers to convey me instantly to prison, an order which they lost no
time in executing. So that while I, an innocent man, was loaded with
chains, my partners departed, not only unpunished but in triumph, and
well persuaded that a new miracle would require to be wrought to
deliver me from the hands of the cadi.

And, indeed, my escape from my present difficulty might not have been
of so fortunate a nature as that from drowning, had not an incident
occurred which showed the goodness of Heaven still visibly displayed
on my behalf. The peasants who had brought me to Ormus, having heard
by chance that I had been put in prison, moved with compassion, went
to the cadi, and told him in what way they had fallen in with me,
together with all the details which they had heard from myself on the
mountain.

This recital began to open the eyes of the judge, and caused him to
regret that he had not listened to me. He forthwith resolved to
investigate the matter; and first of all sent to the caravansary to
inquire for the two merchants, but they had hastily decamped, and
returned on board the ship, which had put to sea; for in spite of the
bias of the cadi in their favour they had taken the alarm. Their rapid
flight effectually convinced the judge that I had been committed to
prison unjustly, and he gave orders to set me at liberty. Such was the
termination of the partnership I had entered into with the two honest
jewellers.

As one saved from drowning, and the hands of justice, (or rather
injustice,) I might well have considered myself eminently bound to
return thanks to the Almighty. My situation, however, was such as to
render me rather indifferent as to what might happen to me; for I was
without money, without friends, without credit, and reduced either to
subsist on charity, or to perish of hunger. I quitted Ormus, without
knowing what would become of me, and walked in the direction of the
prairie of Lar, which is between the mountains and the Persian Gulf.
On arriving there, I met a caravan of merchants from Hindostan, who
were setting out for Schiras, and, joining myself to them, I gained a
subsistence by rendering myself useful on trifling occasions. On our
arrival at Schiras, where the shah Tahmaspe held his court, I stopped
for some time in that city.

One day, when returning from the great mosque to the caravansary where
I lodged, I saw an officer of the king of Persia, richly dressed and
very handsome; looking at me attentively, he came up to me and said,
"Young man, from what country do you come; for I see you are a
stranger, and evidently not in a very prosperous condition?" I
replied, that I came from Bagdad, and that his conjecture was but too
well founded. I then related my history more at length, to which he
listened attentively, and with much feeling for my misfortunes. He
next asked me how old I was; and when I told him that I was nineteen
years of age, he desired me to follow him, and walking before me
proceeded to the king's palace, which I entered along with him.
Conducting me into a very elegant apartment, he asked me, "What is
your name?" I replied, "Aswad;" he then asked many other questions,
and being satisfied with my replies, said at last:

"Aswad, your misfortunes have affected me greatly, and I wish to
assist you as a father: I am the capi-aga[11] of the king of Persia;
there is now a place vacant for a new page, and I have appointed you
to it. You are young and handsome, and I cannot make a better choice,
for there is not one among the present pages who surpasses you in good
looks."

I thanked the capi-aga for his kindness, and he forthwith took me
under his command, and caused me to be equipped in the dress of a
page. I was made acquainted with my duties, which I soon learned to
discharge in such a manner as to gain the esteem of the zuluflis[12],
and to confer honour on my protector.

There was a rule that no page of the twelve chambers should, under
pain of death, remain in the gardens of the seraglio after a certain
hour, when the women were accustomed occasionally to walk there. The
same rule extended to all the officers of the palace and the soldiers
of the guard. Being in the gardens one evening quite alone, and musing
on my misfortunes, I became so lost in thought that I did not perceive
that the proper time for men to leave the gardens was already past:
knowing that no time was to be lost, I quickened my pace in order to
enter the palace, when just as I was turning the corner of one of the
walks, a lady appeared before me. She was of a majestic stature, and
in spite of the darkness I could see that she was both young and
beautiful. "You are in a great hurry," she remarked; "what can it be
that obliges you to walk so fast?"

"I have very good reasons for doing so," I replied, "and if you belong
to the palace, as doubtless you do, you cannot be ignorant of them.
You know that men are forbidden to appear in the gardens after a
certain hour, and that whoever breaks this rule suffers death."

"You have been rather slow in remembering the rule," replied the lady,
"for the hour is long past; however, on another account you may thank
your stars you have loitered, for if you had not, you would not have
met with me."

"How unfortunate for me that I should have mistaken the time," I
exclaimed, thinking only that I had placed my life in danger.

"Don't reproach yourself," said the lady; "if you do, I shall feel
offended. You ought to look on your misfortune to be rather a source
of congratulation. It is very true that the danger in which you are
placed presents ideas disagreeable enough, but it is not quite so
certain that you will be beheaded, for the king is a good prince, who
may be induced to forgive you. Who are you?"

"I am one of the pages," I replied.

"Indeed!" she exclaimed, "you make very wise observations for a page;
the grand vizir could not make better. Well, don't distress yourself
about what may happen to-morrow, the events of which are hidden from
you, and are only known to Heaven, which has perhaps even now prepared
a means of escape for you. Leave then the future to take care of
itself, and think only of the present. If you knew who I am, and the
great honour conferred upon you by this adventure, instead of
poisoning the precious moments by bitter reflections, you would esteem
yourself the most fortunate of mortals."

By such animating language the lady at length dispelled my fears: the
idea of the punishment which threatened me vanished from my mind as I
abandoned myself to the flattering ideas which she held out to me, and
I proceeded somewhat over ardently to ingratiate myself with my
companion. The next moment, however, as if at a signal from her, I
found myself surrounded by ten or a dozen women who had concealed
themselves close by, in order to listen to our conversation. It was
easy now to see that the woman who had played me this trick was
laughing at me. I supposed she was one of the female slaves of the
princess of Persia who was desirous of having a little amusement at my
expense. All the other women ran quickly to her assistance, and,
bursting into laughter, began to surround me, and to joke with me.
One remarked that I was of a lively character, and well fitted for an
amusing companion. "If I should ever walk all alone at night," said
another, "I hope I shall meet with somebody quite as clever as this
page." Their pleasantries put me quite out of countenance, while every
now and then they laughed outrageously, and I felt as ashamed as if
they had rallied me for being too bashful. They even made themselves
merry at my having permitted the hour for leaving the gardens to
escape me, and said that it would be a pity if I were to die on that
account; and that I well deserved to live since I was so devoted to
the service of the ladies. The first one then, whom I had heard
addressed as Cale-Cairi, said to another, "It is for you, my princess,
to determine respecting his lot: is it your wish that he should be
abandoned to his fate, or shall we lend him our assistance?"

"He must be saved from the danger he is in," replied the princess: "I
give my consent for him to live; and, indeed, to the end that he may
remember this adventure of his for a long time to come, we must make
it still more agreeable to him; let him come to my apartments."

When I entered the chamber of Zelica Begum--for such was her name, and
she was the princess of Persia--she inquired my name, and how long I
had been a page. When I had satisfied her curiosity on these points
she said:

"Well, Aswad, make yourself at home, and forget that you are in an
apartment which is forbidden to be entered by any man: forget that I
am Zelica: speak to us as if you were with a party of young ladies,
the daughters of plain citizens of Schiras: look attentively at all
these young women, and tell me frankly which one among us all you like
best."

Although Zelica's slaves were perfectly beautiful, and the princess
herself might be considered to have a just claim to the preference, my
heart decided at once in favour of the charming Cale-Cairi; but
concealing sentiments which would seem to cast Zelica into the shade,
I said to her that she ought not to place herself in the same rank
with the others, or contend with her slaves for the possession of my
heart, for that her beauty was such that wherever she was seen, all
eyes must be directed to her, and her alone. While speaking thus,
however, I could not resist looking at Cale-Cairi in a way which would
make her think that my language had been dictated by courtesy alone,
and not by the real feelings of my breast. Zelica noticing this, said,
"Aswad, you flatter me too much: you must be more candid: I am certain
that you have not spoken your real sentiments, and you must really
answer me truly in reply to my question: open your inmost soul to us:
we all beg you to do this, and you cannot confer a greater pleasure
both on myself and all my slaves." Yielding at last to their urgent
requests, I threw off my timidity, and addressing myself to Zelica, I
said:

"I will then endeavour to comply with your highness's wishes: it would
be difficult to decide which of the exquisitely beautiful assemblage
before me is the most beautiful, but I will avow to you that the
amiable Cale-Cairi is the lady for whom the inclinations of my heart
plead the most strongly."

Zelica, instead of being offended by my boldness, replied: "I am well
pleased, Aswad, that you have given the preference to Cale-Cairi; she
is my favourite, and that is sufficient to prove that your taste is
not bad. You do not know the full worth of the fair lady whom you have
chosen: we unite in owning that she excels us all."

The princess and her slaves now began to banter Cale-Cairi on the
triumph which her charms had achieved--and she received all their
witticisms in very good part. Zelica then ordered a lute to be
brought, and placing it in Cale's hands, said to her, "Show your lover
what you can do with it," and she played upon it in a style which
enchanted me, accompanying it at the same time with her voice in a
song which indicated that when a lover has made choice of a suitable
object, he ought to love that dear one for ever. An old slave at
length came to inform us that daylight was approaching, and that there
was no time to be lost, if it were intended that I should quit the
apartments in safety. Zelica then told me to follow the slave, who led
me through many galleries, and by many windings and turnings, until we
reached a little gate of which she had the key; and on the door being
opened, I went out, and as it was now daylight, I saw that I was no
longer in the palace. A few hours after I rejoined my companions.

Eight days after this, an eunuch came to the door of the king's
apartments, and said that he wished to speak with me. I went to him
and inquired what he wanted.

"Is not your name Aswad?" he asked.

I replied that it was. He then put a note into my hands, and went
away. The letter stated that if I felt inclined to pay a visit to the
gardens of the seraglio next night, and would be at the same place as
before, I should there see a lady who was very sensibly touched with
the preference I had given to her over all the princess's women.
Although I suspected that Cale-Cairi had taken a fancy to me, I had no
idea of receiving such a letter as this from her. Intoxicated with my
good luck, I asked leave from the oda-baschi to pay a visit to a
dervise--who was a countryman of my own, and who had just arrived from
Mecca. Leave being granted me, I ran, or rather flew, to the gardens
of the seraglio, as soon as night was come. If, on the first occasion
time fled too swiftly and surprised me into stopping after the hour
for leaving the gardens, it seemed now too slow in bringing me the
promised pleasure, and I thought the hour of retreat would never come.
It did come, however, and I could see, shortly afterwards, approaching
the place where I was concealed, a lady whom I recognized by her
stature and air to be Cale-Cairi. Transported with delight, I drew
near, and throwing myself at her feet, I remained for some time
prostrate on the ground without speaking a word, so completely had I
lost all self-possession.

"Rise, Aswad," she said, "I am enraptured at having inspired you with
such feelings towards me, for I will confess to you that for my part I
have not been able to resist a friendly regard for you. Your youth,
good looks, and lively and brilliant wit, but more than all, perhaps,
your preferring me to other ladies of great beauty, have endeared you
to me. My conduct proves this sufficiently; but, alas! my dear Aswad,"
she added, sighing, "I scarcely know whether I ought to be proud of
the conquest I have made, or rather to regard it as an event which
will embitter the whole course of my life."

"But, madam," I replied, "why give way to such gloomy presentiments at
the very time when your presence brings me such delight?"

"It is not," she replied, "a foolish fear that now, at such a moment
as this, causes me annoyance and disturbs the pleasure of our meeting;
my fears are only too well founded, and you are ignorant of the cause
of my grief. The princess Zelica loves you, and when she has freed
herself, as she will do soon, from the splendid bondage in which she
is held, she will inform you of your happiness. When she confesses to
you that you are dear to her, how will you receive such a glorious
avowal? Will your love for me hold out against the honour of having
the affections of the first princess in the world?"

"Yes, charming Cale-Cairi," I said, interrupting her; "I would prefer
you even to Zelica. Were it to please Heaven that you should have even
a still more formidable rival, you would see that nothing could shake
the constancy of a heart that is devoted to you."

"Unhappy Aswad!" exclaimed the lady, "whither does your love carry
you? What a fatal assurance you are giving me of your fidelity! You
forget that I am a slave of the princess of Persia. If you were to
repay her kindness by ingratitude you would draw down her anger upon
us both, and we should perish. Better it were that I should yield you
up to so powerful a rival; it would be the only means of saving
ourselves."

"No, no," I replied hastily; "there is another means which I should
rather choose in my despair, and that would be to banish myself from
the court altogether. After my retreat you would be safe from the
vengeance of Zelica, and you would regain your peace of mind: by
degrees you would forget the unfortunate Aswad, who would retire into
the deserts to seek for rest in his misfortunes."

I spoke with such deep feeling and truth that the lady was herself
overcome with my grief, and said:

"Cease, Aswad, to yield to a needless affliction. You are mistaken;
your merits are such that it would be wrong to keep you longer in the
dark. I am Zelica herself, and not her slave. That night when you came
to my apartment I personated Cale-Cairi, and you supposed my attendant
to be myself."

Zelica then called one of her women, who ran to her from amidst some
cypress trees where she was concealed, and I perceived that she was
the slave whom I supposed to be the princess of Persia.

"Aswad," said the princess to me, "you now see the true Cale-Cairi; I
give her back her name and take my own: I have no wish to disguise
myself any longer. Although your love is greater than your ambition, I
am certain that it will be a source of new pleasure to you to know
that the lady who loves you is a princess."

We passed nearly the whole night in walking about and conversing, and
daylight would no doubt have found us in the gardens, had not
Cale-Cairi, who was with us, taken care to inform us that it was time
to withdraw. It was needful then that we should separate, but before
I parted from Zelica the princess said to me:

"Adieu, Aswad! do not forget me. We shall see each other again, and I
will soon let you know how dear you are to me." I threw myself at her
feet to thank her for so flattering a promise, after which Cale-Cairi
took me out by the same winding passages as before, and I then left
the seraglio.

Beloved by the august princess whom I idolized, and forming an
enchanting image of what she had promised me, I abandoned myself to
the most pleasing fancies that the mind could depict, when an
unlooked-for event deprived me all on a sudden of my proud hopes. I
had heard a report that the princess Zelica was ill, and two days
afterwards the rumour of her death was circulated in the palace. I was
unwilling to give credit to this fatal intelligence, and refused to do
so until I saw preparations going for the funeral ceremony. I did not
see the whole of it, because excessive grief threw me into a
succession of dangerous fainting fits which lasted for a long time.
One of the officers of the palace gave directions for me to be carried
into the pages' room, where great care was taken of me; my limbs were
rubbed with a balm of exceeding virtue, and in spite of my
overwhelming misery, such was the progress I made, that in two days my
strength was restored. A stay in Schiras, however, having become
insupportable, I secretly left the court of Persia three days after
the interment of my beloved princess. Overwhelmed with grief, I walked
all night without knowing whither I was going or where I ought to go.
Next morning, having stopped to rest myself, a young man approached
who was dressed in a very extraordinary manner. Coming up to me he
saluted me and presented me with a green branch which he held in his
hand, and after having civilly made me accept it, he began to recite
some Persian verses to induce me to bestow my charity upon him. As I
had no money I could not give him any. Thinking that I was ignorant
of the Persian language he recited some Arabic verses, but seeing that
he had no better success this way than the other, and that I did not
do what he wanted, he said to me, "Brother, I cannot persuade myself
that you are deficient in charity, but rather in the means wherewith
to exercise it."

"You are right," I said, "I have not a farthing in the world, and I
know not even where to shelter my head."

"Unfortunate man," he exclaimed, "what a sad plight you are in; I
really pity you, and wish, moreover, to assist you."

I was not a little astonished to be thus addressed by a man who had
been asking alms of me a moment before, and I supposed that the
assistance he offered was merely that of his prayers, when he went on
to say:

"I am one of those merry fellows they call fakirs; and I can tell you,
that though we subsist entirely on charity, we fare none the less
sumptuously for that, as we have discovered the secret of exciting the
compassion of well-meaning people by an appearance of mortification
and penance which we well know how to impart to ourselves. It is true
there are a few fakirs fools enough to be really what they seem, and
who lead a life of such austerity as sometimes to go ten whole days
without the least nourishment. But we are a little less rigorous than
these ascetics; we make no pretensions to the reality of their
virtues, only to the appearance of them. Will you become one of our
fraternity? I am now on my way to meet two of them at Bost; if you
have a fancy to make the fourth, you have but to follow me."

"I am afraid," I replied, "that not being accustomed to your religious
exercises I shall acquit myself but clumsily."

"Pray don't trouble yourself," he broke in, "on that head; I repeat to
you that we are not fakirs of the austere order; in short, we have
really nothing of the fakir about us but the dress."

Although I guessed from what the fakir had told me, that he and his
companions were in reality three libertines in disguise, I
nevertheless did not hesitate to join them; for besides being reckless
from sheer misery, I had not learned among the pages of the court many
lessons of scrupulousness on the score of morality. As soon as I had
signified to the fakir my consent, he set out with me at once for
Bost, feeding me on the road with abundance of dates, rice, and other
good things, which people presented to him in the towns and villages
through which we passed; for the moment his little bell and his
peculiar cry became heard, the good Mussulmans came running to him
with provisions from all quarters.

In this way we arrived at the large town of Bost; we made our way to a
small house in the suburbs, where the two other fakirs resided. They
received us with open arms, and appeared delighted with my resolution
of joining them. They soon initiated me into their mysteries; that is
to say, they showed me how to perform their antics. As soon as I was
well instructed in the art of imposing on the populace, they sent me
into the town to present respectable citizens with flowers or
branches, and to recite verses to them. I always returned home with
some pieces of silver, which enabled us to live merrily enough.

I passed nearly two years with the fakirs, and should have lived there
much longer had not the one who had induced me to join them, and whom
I liked the best, proposed to me to travel.

"Aswad," said he one day, "I am sick of this town; I begin to long to
roam a little. I have heard wonderful accounts of the city of
Candahar; if you will accompany me we will put the truth of these
reports to the test."

I consented at once, for I had a curiosity to see some new country,
or rather, I was impelled by that superior power which guides our
destinies.

Accordingly we both quitted Bost, and passing through many cities of
Segestan without stopping, we reached the noble city of Candahar,
surrounded with its strong fortifications. We betook ourselves to a
caravansary, where our dresses, the most commendable thing about us by
the way, procured us a kind and hearty reception. We found the
inhabitants of the city in a great bustle, as they were going to
celebrate the feast of Giulous on the following day. We learned that
at court they were no less busy, as every one was anxious to show his
attachment for the king Firouzshah, who had earned by his justice the
love of all good men, and still more by his rigour the fear of the
wicked.

The fakirs going where they please without hindrance, we proceeded
next day to court to witness the festival, which however had few
charms for the eyes of a man who had seen the Giulous of the king of
Persia.

Whilst we were attentively watching what passed, I felt myself pulled
by the sleeve, and turning round, perceived close to me the very
eunuch who, in the shah's palace, had been the bearer of Cale-Cairi's,
or rather Zelica's letter.

"My lord," he whispered, "I recognized you at once in spite of your
strange dress; but indeed, though I flatter myself I am never
mistaken, I am not quite sure whether on the present occasion I ought
not to doubt the evidence of my own eyes. Is it possible that it is
you I have met here?"

"And pray," I asked in reply, "what are you doing at Candahar, and why
have you left the court of Persia? Can the death of the princess
Zelica have driven you away as it did me?"

"That," replied he, "is exactly what I cannot tell you at this moment,
but I will amply satisfy your curiosity if you will meet me here
to-morrow alone at the same hour. I have a few things to tell you
which will astonish you, and which--let me add--concern you not a
little."

I promised to return alone to the same spot the following day, and
took care to keep my word. The eunuch was there, and coming up to me,
proposed that we should leave the palace and seek some place better
adapted for conversation. We accordingly went out into the city, and
after traversing several streets, stopped at last at the door of a
good-sized house, of which he had the key. We entered, and I observed
suites of apartments magnificently furnished, delicious carpets and
luxurious sofas, whilst through the windows I perceived a garden
beautifully laid out, with a delightful piece of water in the middle,
bordered with variegated marble.

"My lord Aswad," said the eunuch, "I trust the house pleases you."

"I am delighted with it," I replied.

"I am glad to hear you say so," he returned, "for I yesterday took it,
just as you see it, for _you_. You will next want slaves to wait on
you. I will go and purchase some whilst you take a bath."

So saying, he conducted me to a chamber, where I found baths all
ready.

"In Heaven's name," I exclaimed, "tell me for what purpose you have
brought me here, and what the news is you have promised to tell me."

"At the proper time and place," he rejoined, "you shall learn all; for
the present be content to know that your lot is materially changed
since I met you, and that I have my orders for every thing I am
doing."

As he spoke, he assisted me to undress--a process which did not take
long--I entered the bath and the eunuch left me, enjoining patience.

All this mystery furnished ample food for conjecture, but I wearied
myself fruitlessly in endeavouring to fathom it. Schapour left me a
long time in the bath, and my patience was beginning to be exhausted,
when he returned, followed by four slaves, two of whom carried towels
and garments, and the others all sorts of provisions.

"I beg your pardon, my lord," said he, "I am extremely sorry I have
kept you waiting so long."

At the same time the slaves placed their bundles on the sofas and
proceeded to wait on me: they rubbed me with towels of the finest
texture, and then dressed me in rich garments, with a magnificent robe
and turban.

"What on earth is all this to end in?" said I to myself; "and by whose
orders can it be that this eunuch treats me in such a manner?"

My impatience to be enlightened became so lively that I could not
conceal it. Schapour soon perceived it, and said:

"It is with the deepest regret that I see you so restless and uneasy,
but I cannot yet relieve you. Even supposing I had not been expressly
forbidden to say a word, or even supposing that I betrayed my trust,
and told you every thing I am now concealing from you, I should not
succeed in tranquillizing you in the least; anxieties still more
harassing would take the place of those which now worry you--you must
wait till night, and you shall then learn all you desire to know."

Though I would not but augur well from what the eunuch said, yet it
was impossible to help being for the rest of the day in a state of
cruel suspense. I really believe that the expectation of evil causes
less real suffering than that of some great pleasure. The night
however came at last, and the slaves proceeded to light up the whole
house, and particularly the principal apartment, with wax candles. In
this apartment I took my seat with Schapour, who, to assuage my
impatience, kept saying to me, "They will be here in a moment--have
but a little more patience." At last we heard knocking at the door,
the eunuch went himself to open it, and returned with a lady whom,
the moment she raised her veil, I recognized as Cale-Cairi. My
surprise was extreme, for I believed her to be at Schiras.

"My lord Aswad," said she, "however astonished you may be to see me,
you will be much more so when you hear the story I have to tell you."

At these words Schapour and the slaves quitted the apartment, leaving
me alone with Cale-Cairi; we both sat down on the same sofa, and she
commenced her narration as follows:

"You recollect well, my lord, that night on which Zelica made herself
known to you, nor can you yet have forgotten the promise she made you
on leaving. The following day I asked her whether she had come to any
resolution what course to pursue in the matter; I represented to her
the absurdity of a princess of her rank dreaming of exposing herself
to disgrace and death for the sake of a mere page; in short, I used
every effort to overcome her passion; and you may well pardon me for
doing so, as all my reasoning served but to strengthen her attachment.
When I saw I was utterly unable to prevail with her, 'Madam,' I said
at length, 'I cannot contemplate without shuddering the danger into
which you are rushing, but since no consideration seems powerful
enough to detach you from your lover, we must endeavour to contrive
some plan for you to meet without endangering either your life or his.
I have thought of one which would doubtless be gratifying to your
affection, but it seems to me so daring that I hardly like to propose
it.'

"'Let me hear it at once, Cale-Cairi,' said the princess; 'whatever it
may be, pray do not keep it from me.'

"'If you put it in practice,' replied I, 'you must make up your mind
to quit the court and live as though you had been born to the humblest
lot in life. You must renounce all the honours of your rank. Do you
love Aswad sufficiently to make so great a sacrifice?'

"'_Do_ I love him?' returned she, drawing a deep sigh. 'Ah! the very
humblest lot with him would please me far more than all the pomp and
luxury with which I am now surrounded. Only point out to me what I can
do in order to enjoy his society without constraint and without
impropriety, and I am ready to do it without a moment's hesitation.'

"'Well, madam,' I replied, 'since I perceive it is useless to
endeavour to overcome your attachment, I will do all in my power to
favour it. I am acquainted with the properties of a herb of singular
power. One leaf of it placed in your ear will in an hour bring on so
lethargic a sleep that you will appear quite dead; they will then
perform the funeral rites, and carry you to your tomb, from which at
nightfall I can easily release you--'"

Here I interrupted Cale-Cairi, "Great Heavens!" I exclaimed, "is it
possible that the princess Zelica did not die after all--what then has
become of her?--"

"My lord," said Cale-Cairi, "she is still alive. But pray listen
patiently to my story, and you will learn all that you desire to know.
My mistress," she continued, "threw herself into my arms with joy, so
clever did my plan appear to her; presently, however, she began to
perceive many difficulties connected with the rites and observances
usual at funerals. I removed all her doubts, and thus we set about the
execution of our plan.

"Zelica complained of a terrible pain in her head, and went to bed.
The next morning I spread a report that she was dangerously ill; the
royal physician was sent for; it was no difficult matter to deceive
him. He sent some remedies which of course were never taken. From day
to day the princess's illness increased; and as soon as, in my
judgment, her last moments ought to approach, I placed in her ear a
leaf of the herb I have mentioned. I immediately after ran to the
shah, and told him the princess had but a few moments to live, and
desired anxiously to speak to him. He came to her at once, and,
observing that, as the herb began its work, her face changed rapidly,
he was deeply moved, and began to weep.

"'My lord,' said his daughter, in faint accents, 'I implore you, by
the love you have always borne me, to order my last wishes to be
carried out to the letter. My wish is, that when I am dead, no one but
Cale-Cairi shall be permitted to wash my body, and that none of my
other slaves shall share that honour with her. I also beg that none
but she shall watch my tomb the first night, that no tears but hers
shall fall on it, and that her prayers alone shall ascend to the
prophet, to avert from me the assaults of evil spirits.'

"Shah Tahmaspe promised his daughter that I alone should perform for
her these last sad duties.

"'But this is not all, my lord,' continued she; 'I also implore you to
give Cale-Cairi her liberty the moment I am no more, and to give her,
with her freedom, presents worthy of yourself and of the affection she
has always evinced towards me.'

"'My child,' replied the shah, 'make yourself perfectly easy on all
the matters you have commended to my notice; should it be my
misfortune to lose you, I swear that your favourite slave, loaded with
presents, shall be at liberty to go whither she pleases.'

"He had hardly done speaking when the herb completed its work. Zelica
lost all consciousness, and her father, supposing her to be dead,
retired to his own apartments in deep grief. He gave orders that I
alone should wash and embalm the body, which I pretended to do, and
then wrapping it in a white cloth, laid it in the coffin. The princess
was then carried in great pomp to the tomb, where by the shah's
express orders I was left alone for the first night. I made a careful
survey all round, to assure myself that no one was on the watch, and,
not having discovered any one, I roused my mistress at once from her
sleep in the coffin, made her put on a dress and veil I had concealed
under my own, and we both repaired to a spot where Schapour was in
waiting. The faithful eunuch conducted the princess to a small house
which he had taken, and I returned to the tomb to pass the remainder
of the night. I made up a bundle to represent the corpse, covered it
with the same cloth in which I had previously wrapped Zelica, and
placed it in the coffin. The next morning the princess's other slaves
came to take my place, which I took care not to leave without
previously indulging in all the expressions of inconsolable grief
usual on such occasions. A faithful account of this exhibition of woe
was duly carried to the king's ear, who was induced by it to make me
presents far beyond what he had determined on. He ordered me ten
thousand sequins out of his treasury, and granted me permission, the
moment I asked it, to quit the court and carry with me the eunuch
Schapour. I immediately proceeded to join my mistress, and
congratulate her on the complete success of our stratagem. Next day we
sent the eunuch to the royal apartments with a note asking you to come
and see me. But one of your attendants told him you were ill, and
could see no one. Three days after we sent him again; he brought back
word that you had left the palace, and that no one knew what had
become of you. We caused search to be made for you all through the
city; Schapour left nothing undone in order to discover you; and when
at last we gave up the search in despair and left Schiras, we took the
road to the Indus, because we thought it just possible that you might
have turned your steps in that direction;--and, stopping at every town
on our route, we set on foot the most careful inquiries, which
nevertheless proved entirely useless.

"One day, on our road from one city to another, though we were
travelling with a caravan, a vast horde of robbers surrounded us, and,
in spite of a vigorous defence, swept down the merchants and plundered
their goods. Of us, of course, they soon made themselves masters,
robbed us of our money and jewels, carried us to Candahar, and sold us
to a slave merchant of their acquaintance. This merchant had no sooner
secured Zelica, than he resolved to show her to the king of Candahar.
Firouzshah was charmed the moment he saw her, and asked her whence she
came. She told him Ormus was her native place, and answered the
prince's other inquiries in a similar manner. In the end he purchased
us, and placed us in the palace of his wives, where the handsomest
apartments were assigned to us. Passionately though she is loved by
the king of Candahar, she cannot, nevertheless, forget you; and,
though he sighs at her feet, he has never succeeded in obtaining the
slightest proof of any return of attachment. No one ever saw any thing
like the joy she exhibited yesterday when Schapour informed her he had
met with you. She was quite beside herself all the rest of the day.
She ordered Schapour instantly to engage a furnished house for you, to
conduct you there to-day, and to suffer you to want for nothing. I am
now here by her orders to inform you of the several things I have
communicated, and to prepare you to see her in the course of to-morrow
night. We shall leave the palace unobserved, and let ourselves in here
by a small door in the garden wall, of which we have had a key made
for us." As she uttered these last words the favourite slave of the
princess of Persia rose and quitted the apartment, in order to return
to her mistress, and Schapour accompanied her.

I could do nothing all that night but think of Zelica, my love for
whom seemed to return with tenfold ardour. Sleep never approached my
eyelids, and the following day seemed a century. At last, as I almost
began to think I should fall a victim to the agonies of suspense, I
heard a knocking at the door; my slaves ran to open it, and the next
moment I saw my princess entering the room. How shall I describe the
feelings which her presence excited in me! and for her part what was
her delight to see me once more! I threw myself at her feet and for
some time could do nothing but embrace them without uttering a
syllable. At length she forced me to rise, and seating me next her on
the sofa, "Aswad," said she, "I render thanks to Heaven for reuniting
us; let us now hope that the goodness of Providence will not stop
here, but will remove the new obstacle which hinders our union. In
expectation of the arrival of that happy hour we will live here in
contentment; and if circumstances prevent our meeting unconstrainedly,
we can at least enjoy the consolation of hearing daily news of each
other, as well as of occasional secret interviews." In such
conversation we passed the greater part of the night. Next day, in
spite of the happy thoughts which now filled my mind, I did not forget
the fakir in whose company I had come to Candahar; and picturing to
myself his uneasiness at not knowing where I was, I determined to go
and find him out. I met him by accident in the street and we embraced
each other.

"My friend," said I, "I was on my way to your caravansary to inform
you of what has happened to me, and to set your mind at ease. No doubt
I have occasioned you some uneasiness."

"That is true enough," replied he; "I was in no small trouble about
you. But what a change! What clothes are these you appear in? You seem
to have been in luck. Whilst I was worrying myself about what had
become of you, you were passing your time, as it seems to me,
pleasantly enough."

"I confess it, my dear friend," replied I; "and I can assure you,
moreover, that I am a thousand times happier than it is possible for
you to conceive. I want you not only to be witness of my good fortune,
but to profit by it as well. Quit your caravansary and come and live
with me."

So saying, I led him to my house and showed him all over it. He
admired the rooms and the furniture amazingly, and every now and then
would exclaim, "O Heaven! what has Aswad done more than other men to
deserve such an accumulation of good fortune?"

"What, now, fakir," asked I, "do you view my happy condition with
chagrin? It seems to me that my good fortune is positively annoying to
you."

"On the contrary," returned he, "it affords me the liveliest
satisfaction; so far from envying my friends' happiness, I am never so
happy as when I see them flourishing."

As he concluded this speech he embraced me ardently, the better to
persuade me of the sincerity of his words. I believed him sincere, and
acting towards him myself in the most perfect good faith, betrayed
myself without the least mistrust into the hands of the most envious,
the most cowardly, and the most treacherous of men.

In this way we continued to live for some time. Schapour or Cale-Cairi
brought me daily intelligence of my beloved princess, and an
occasional stolen interview elevated me to the seventh heaven of
happiness. The fakir expressed the liveliest interest in the progress
of my attachment, and I confided to him, as to my bosom friend, every
particular of my life.

One day, as I was reposing on a sofa and dreaming of Zelica, I was
aroused by a great noise in my house. I rose in order to ascertain the
cause, and to my great dismay, found that it was occasioned by a body
of Firouzshah's own guards.

"Follow me," said the officer in command; "our orders are to conduct
you to the palace."

"What crime have I committed?" asked I; "of what am I accused?"

"We have not been informed," replied the officer; "our orders are
merely to carry you before the king; we know nothing about the cause:
but I may tell you for your comfort, that if you are innocent you have
nothing whatever to fear, for you have to do with a prince of the
strictest justice, who never lightly condemns any one who is brought
before him. He requires the most convincing proofs before he will pass
an adverse sentence; but it is true at the same time that he punishes
the guilty with the utmost rigour, so that, if you are guilty, I pity
you."

There was no help for it; I was obliged to follow the officer. On my
way to the palace I said to myself, "Firouzshah has no doubt
discovered my correspondence with Zelica; but how can he have learned
it?" As we crossed the court-yard of the palace I observed that four
gibbets had been erected there. I made a shrewd guess at their
destination, and apprehended that this kind of death was the least
part of the punishment I had to expect from the wrath of Firouzshah. I
raised my eyes to heaven and prayed that at least the princess of
Persia might be saved from this. We entered the palace; the officer
who had charge of me conducted me into the king's apartment. That
prince was there, attended only by his grand vizir and the fakir. The
moment I perceived my treacherous friend I saw that I had been
betrayed.

"It is you, then," said Firouzshah to me, "who has secret interviews
with my favourite. Wretch! you must be bold indeed to dare to trifle
with me! Speak, and reply exactly and truly to my questions:--When you
came to Candahar, were you not told that I was a severe punisher of
criminals?"

I replied that I was informed of it.

"Well," he continued, "since you knew that, why have you committed the
greatest of all crimes?"

"Sire," I answered, "may your majesty's days last for ever. You know
that love gives courage to the dove: a man possessed by a violent
passion fears nothing: I am ready to be a victim to your just wrath;
and as to any tortures that may be reserved for me I shall not
complain of your severity, provided you grant a pardon to your
favourite. Alas! she was living peacefully in your palace before I
came here, and would soon have been contented with rendering a great
king happy, while gradually forgetting an unfortunate lover whom she
never thought to see again. Knowing that I was in this city, her
former attachment returned. It was I that separated her from your
affection, and your punishment should fall on me alone."

While I was thus speaking, Zelica, who had been sent for by the king's
order, entered the apartment, followed by Schapour and Cale-Cairi, and
hearing the last words I uttered, ran forward and threw herself at the
feet of Firouzshah.

"Great prince!" she exclaimed, "forgive this young man: it is on your
guilty slave, who has betrayed you, that your vengeance ought to
fall."

"Traitors that you both are!" exclaimed the king "expect no favour
either of you: die! both of you. This ungrateful woman only implores
my kindness in behalf of the rash man who has offended me; while his
sensibilities are only alive to the loss of her whom he loves; both of
them thus parading in my very sight their amorous madness; what
insolence! Vizir!" he cried, turning to his minister, "let them be led
away to execution. Hang them up on gibbets, and after their death, let
their carcasses be thrown to the dogs and the vultures."

The officers were leading us away, when I resolved on one more
desperate effort to save the princess.

"Stop, sire!" I shouted at the top of my voice, "take care what you
do, and do not treat with ignominy the daughter of a king! Let your
jealousy even in its fury have respect to the august blood from which
she has sprung!"

At these words Firouzshah appeared thunderstruck, and then addressing
Zelica, he inquired, "Who then is the prince who is your father?"

The princess looked at me with a proud countenance, and said:

"Alas! Aswad, where was your discretion? how is it that you have told
what I wished to conceal, if it were possible, even from myself? I
should have had the consolation in death of knowing that my rank was
a secret, but in disclosing it, you have overwhelmed me with shame.
Learn then who I am," she continued, addressing herself to Firouzshah;
"the slave whom you have condemned to an infamous death is the
daughter of shah Tahmaspe!" She then related her whole story, without
omitting the slightest circumstance.

When she had concluded her recital, which increased the king's
astonishment, she said to him, "Now I have revealed a secret which it
was my intention to bury in my own breast, and which nothing but the
indiscretion of my lover could have wrung from me. After this
confession, which I make with extreme humiliation, I beg that you will
instantly give orders for my immediate execution. This is the only
favour I now ask of your majesty."

"Madam," replied the king, "I revoke the order for your death: I have
too great a love for justice not to honour your faithfulness: what you
have told me makes me look upon you in a different light; I have no
complaint to make against you, and I set you at liberty. Live for
Aswad, and may the happy Aswad live for you! Schapour also and your
friend have life and liberty granted to them. Go, most faithful
lovers, and may you pass the rest of your days in the enjoyment of
each other's society, and may nothing interrupt the course of your
happiness. As for you, traitor," he continued, turning to the fakir,
"you shall be punished for your treason, for your base and envious
heart, which could not endure to see the happiness of your friend, and
led you to deliver him up yourself to my vengeance. Miserable wretch!
You shall yourself be the victim of my jealousy!"

While this villain was being led to the gallows, Zelica and I threw
ourselves at the feet of the king of Candahar, and bathed them with
tears of gratitude and joy. We assured him that we should ever retain
a grateful sense of his generous goodness. And at length we left his
palace, accompanied by Schapour and Cale-Cairi, with the intention of
taking up our lodging at a caravansary. We were just about to enter,
when an officer sent by the king accosted us. "I come," he said, "from
my master, Firouzshah, to offer you a lodging: the grand vizir will
lend you a house of his, situated at the gates of the city, where you
will be very commodiously lodged. I will be your conductor thither, if
you will allow me, and will take the trouble to follow me." We
accompanied him, and soon arrived at a house of imposing appearance,
and elegant architecture: the interior corresponded to the outside
appearance. Every thing was magnificent, and in good taste. There were
more than twenty slaves, who told us that their master had desired
them to supply us with every thing that we wanted, and to treat us as
they would himself all the time that we remained in the house.

Here my marriage with the princess was duly celebrated, though with
the strictest privacy. Two days after we received a visit from the
grand vizir, who brought an immense quantity of presents from the
king. There were bales of silk and cloth of India, with twenty purses,
each containing a thousand sequins of gold. As we did not feel
ourselves quite at our ease in a house which was not our own, and as
the king's bounty enabled us to go elsewhere, we joined ourselves to a
great caravan of merchants, who were proceeding to Bagdad, where we
arrived without encountering any disaster.

We took up our lodgings at my own house, where we remained for a few
days after our arrival, for the purpose of recovering ourselves from
the fatigue of our long journey. I then went into the city and visited
my friends, who were astonished to see me, as they had been told by my
associates on their return, that I was dead. As soon as I knew that
they were at Bagdad, I hastened to the grand vizir, threw myself at
his feet, and related their perfidious conduct towards me. He gave
orders for their immediate arrest, and commanded them to be
interrogated in my presence. "Is it not true," I asked them, "that I
awoke when you took me up in your arms, that I asked what you intended
doing with me, and that without replying you threw me out through the
porthole of the ship into the sea?"

They replied that I must have been dreaming, and that I must certainly
have thrown myself into the sea when asleep.

"Why then," said the vizir, "did you pretend not to know him at
Ormus?"

They replied that they had not seen me at Ormus.

"Traitors!" he replied, eyeing them with a threatening aspect, "what
will you say, when I show you a certificate from the cadi of Ormus,
proving the contrary?"

At these words, which the vizir only made use of to put them to the
proof, my associates turned pale and became confused. The vizir
noticed their altered looks, and bade them confess their crime, that
they might not be compelled to do so, by being put to the torture.

They then confessed every thing and were conveyed to prison, until the
caliph should be informed of the matter, and give his orders
respecting the kind of death which they were to undergo. In the mean
time, however, they contrived to make their escape, either by bribing
their guards, or deceiving their vigilance, and concealed themselves
so carefully in Bagdad, that all search after them proved ineffectual.
Their property, however, was confiscated to the caliph, excepting a
small part which was bestowed upon me, by way of some compensation for
the robbery.

After this all my ambition consisted in living a quiet life with the
princess, with whom I was perfectly united in love and affection. My
constant prayer to Heaven was, that such a state of felicity might be
continued to us; but alas! how vain are the wishes and hopes of man,
who is never destined to enjoy unruffled repose for a long time, but
whose existence is continually disturbed by contending cares and
sorrows! Returning home one evening from partaking of an entertainment
with some friends, I knocked at the door of my house, but could get no
one to admit me, although I knocked loudly and repeatedly. I was
surprised at this, and began to form the gloomiest conjectures. I
redoubled my knocks at the door, but no slave came to admit me. What
can have happened? I thought; can this be some new misfortune that has
befallen me? Such were my surmises. At the noise I made several
neighbours came out of their houses, and being as astonished as myself
at none of the domestics appearing, we broke open the door, and on
entering found my slaves lying on the floor, with their throats cut,
and weltering in their blood. We passed from them to Zelica's
apartment, and here another frightful spectacle presented itself, for
we found both Schapour and Cale-Cairi stretched lifeless on the
ground, bathed in their blood. I called on Zelica, but received no
reply. I searched every room and corner in the house, but without
finding her. Such a blow was too much for me, and I sank back in a
swoon in the arms of my neighbours. Happy would it have been for me
had the angel of death at that moment borne me away; but no! it was
the will of Heaven that I should live to see the full horror of my
fate.

When my neighbours by their attentions had succeeded in recalling me
to life, I asked how it was possible that so terrible a slaughter
could have taken place in my house, and not the slightest sound of it
have been heard by them. They replied that they were as astonished as
I was at the circumstance. I then ran to the cadi, who despatched his
nayb[13] into all the surrounding country with all his asas[14], but
their inquiries were fruitless, and every one formed his own
conjecture respecting this horrible tragedy. As for myself, I
believed, as well as many others, that my former partners were the
perpetrators of the crime. My grief was so intense that I fell ill,
and continued in a languishing state at Bagdad for a long time. When I
recovered I sold my house, and went to reside at Mossoul, carrying
with me the wreck of my fortune. I adopted this course because I had a
relation there of whom I was extremely fond, and who belonged to the
household of the grand vizir of the king of Mossoul. My relation
received me very cordially, and in a short time I became known to the
minister, who, thinking that he saw in me good business talents, gave
me some employment. I endeavoured to discharge effectively the duties
entrusted to me, and I had the good fortune to succeed. His
satisfaction with me daily increased, and I became insensibly
initiated into the most secret state affairs, the weight of which I
even assisted him to bear. In a few years this minister died, and the
king, who was perhaps too partial to me, appointed me to his place,
which I filled for two years, to the satisfaction of the king, and the
contentment of the people. To mark, also, how much he was pleased with
my conduct as minister, he first gave me the name of Atalmulc. And now
envy soon began to be excited against me. Some of the chief nobles
became my secret enemies, and plotted my ruin. The better to secure
their ends, they instilled suspicions respecting me into the mind of
the prince of Mossoul, who, being influenced by their unfavourable
insinuations, asked the king, his father, to deprive me of power. The
king at first refused, but yielded at last to the urgent requests of
his son. I thereupon left Mossoul, and came to Damascus, where I had
soon the honour of being presented to your majesty.

I have now related to you, sire, the history of my life, and the cause
of the deep grief in which I seem to be buried. The abduction of
Zelica is ever present to my mind, and renders me insensible to every
kind of pleasure. If I could learn that she was no more in life, I
might, perhaps, lose the recollection of her, as I did before; but the
uncertainty of her fate brings her ever back to my memory, and
constantly feeds my grief.


CONTINUATION OF THE STORY OF KING BEDREDDIN-LOLO AND HIS VIZIR.

When the vizir Atalmulc had concluded the recital of his adventures,
the king said to him:

"I am no longer surprised at your melancholy, for you have, indeed,
good reason for it; but every one has not, like you, lost a princess,
and you are wrong in thinking that there is not one man in the world
who is perfectly satisfied with his condition."

For the purpose of proving to his grand vizir that there are men in
this state, the king of Damascus said, one day, to his favourite
Seyf-Elmulouk, "Go into the city, walk before the shop of the
artisans, and bring me here immediately the man who seems the gayest
of the gay." The favourite obeyed, and returned to Bedreddin in a few
hours. "Well," said the monarch, "have you done what I commanded you?"

"Yes, sire," replied the favourite, "I passed in front of several
shops, and saw all descriptions of workmen who sung while at their
various occupations, and seemed quite contented with their lot. I
noticed one among them, a young weaver, named Malek, who laughed with
his neighbours till I thought he would have split his sides, and I
stopped to have some chat with him. 'Friend,' I said, 'you appear to
be very merry.' 'Yes,' he replied, 'it is my way: I don't encourage
melancholy.' I asked his neighbours if it was true that he was of such
a happy turn of mind, and they all assured me that he did nothing but
laugh from morning till night. I then told him to follow me, and I
have brought him to the palace. He is now at hand: does your majesty
wish him to be introduced to your presence?"

"By all means," replied the king, "bring him here, for I wish to speak
with him."

Seyf-Elmulouk immediately left the king's cabinet and returned in an
instant, followed by a good-looking young man, whom the favourite
presented to the king. The weaver threw himself down at the monarch's
feet, who said to him, "Rise, Malek, and tell me truly if you are as
happy as you seem to be: I am told you do nothing but laugh and sing
the live-long day while at your work: you are thought to be the
happiest man in my dominions, and there is reason to believe that such
is really the case. Tell me whether or not this is a correct judgment,
and if you are contented with your condition. This is a matter that I
am concerned to know; and I desire that you will speak without
disguise."

"Great king," replied the weaver, standing up, "may your majesty's
days last to the end of the world, and be interwoven with a thousand
delights, unmixed with the slightest misfortune. Excuse your slave
from satisfying your curiosity. If it is forbidden to lie to kings, it
must also be owned that there are truths that we dare not reveal. I
can only say that a false idea is entertained respecting me: in spite
of my laughter and songs, I am perhaps the most unfortunate of men. Be
contented with this avowal, sire, and do not compel me to relate my
misfortunes to you."

"I am resolved to have them," replied the king. "Why should you be
afraid to tell them? Are they not creditable to you?"

"Of this your majesty must judge," replied the weaver. "I had resolved
to keep them to myself, but since it is necessary I will proceed with
my story."

The weaver then began as follows:--


THE STORY OF MALEK AND THE PRINCESS SCHIRINE.

I am the only son of a merchant of Surat, who left me at his death
considerable wealth, most of which I squandered away in a very short
time. I was nearly at the end of my property, when one day a stranger,
who was going to the island of Serendib, happened to be dining with
me. The conversation turned on voyages and travels: some who were
present praised the advantages and the pleasure attending them, and
others expatiated on their dangers. Among the guests there were a few
persons who had travelled extensively, and who gave us detailed
accounts of their experience in this adventurous kind of life. Between
their accounts of the strange and curious scenes which they had
witnessed and of the dangers which they had encountered, my mind was
kept in suspense, as I conceived a strong desire to travel, and yet
felt afraid of the accompanying risks. After listening to all that was
related, I remarked:

"It is impossible to hear your striking account of the pleasure
experienced by you in travelling over the world without feeling a
strong wish to travel also; but the dangers to which a traveller is
exposed deprive me of all inclination for visiting foreign countries.
If it were possible," I added, smiling, "to go from one end of the
earth to the other, without meeting with any bad accident by the way,
I would leave Surat to-day."

These words excited universal laughter, but the stranger before
alluded to remarked:

"O Malek! if you have a desire to travel, and if nothing prevents you
but the fear of encountering robbers and other dangers, I will teach
you whenever you have a mind, a method of travelling at your pleasure,
and without peril, from one kingdom to another."

I thought he was joking, but after dinner he took me aside, and told
me that he would pay me a visit the following morning and show me
something extraordinary. He was true to his word, for the next day he
came to see me, and said, "I mean to keep my promise, but some days
must elapse before you can see the effect, for what I have to show you
is a piece of workmanship which cannot be constructed in a day. Send
therefore for a carpenter; let one of your slaves go for him, and let
them both return with planks and other materials according to this
list." I immediately complied with his request. When the slave and the
carpenter returned, the stranger directed the latter to construct a
box in the form of a bird, six feet in length and four in breadth, the
upper part open, so as to admit a man to sit in it. The artisan
immediately set to work, and the stranger on his part was not idle,
for he made or brought from his lodging several parts of the machine,
such as wings, wheels, and springs. For several days the carpenter and
he worked together, and afterwards the former was dismissed, while the
stranger spent one day in putting together the machinery and finishing
the work.

At length on the sixth day the box was finished, and covered with a
Persian carpet. I observed that in this box there were several
apertures, as well to admit air as to serve for look-outs. At the
stranger's desire I then ordered some of my slaves to carry it into
the country, whither I followed with the stranger. When we arrived at
the spot he said to me, "Send away your slaves and let no one be here
but ourselves. I do not wish to have other persons present beside
yourself to see what I am about to do."

I ordered my slaves to return home, while I remained alone with the
stranger. I was very anxious to know what he intended to do with this
machine, and eagerly watched his movements. He removed the carpet, and
stepped inside. In a moment the box began to ascend above the earth
and soared into the sky with incredible swiftness, carrying him
rapidly to a great distance in the clouds; before I had recovered from
my astonishment he was down again on the ground. I cannot express to
you my amazement at witnessing this miracle of art.

"You behold," said the stranger to me, as he stepped out of the
machine, "a very quiet carriage, and you must admit that in travelling
in it there is no fear of being robbed on the journey. This is the
method I spoke of, and I now make you a present of the machine to be
employed by you if ever you should take a fancy to visit foreign
countries. Do not suppose that there is any magic or black art in what
you have seen: it is neither by cabalistic words nor by virtue of a
talisman that the box rises above the earth: its motion is produced
merely by an ingenious adaptation of machinery. I am perfectly
conversant with the mechanical arts, and know how to construct other
machines quite as surprising as this one."

I thanked the stranger for such a rare gift, and as a mark of my
gratitude presented him with a purse of sequins. I then requested him
to instruct me how to set the machine in motion. "It is very easily
done," he said, and requested me to step into the box along with him:
he then touched a spring and we immediately mounted up into the air;
when there, he next showed me how to steer the machine. "By turning
this screw," he said, "you will go to the right, and that other screw
will take you to the left; by touching this spring you will ascend,
and the same operation applied to another spring will cause you to
descend." I wanted to make the experiment myself: I turned the screws
and touched the springs, and the machine, obedient to my hand, went
whither I pleased; I quickened its movements, or slackened them, just
as I wished. After having taken several turns in the air, we directed
our flight towards my house and alighted in the garden.

We reached home before my slaves, who were astonished beyond measure
when they found we had returned. I shut up the box in my room, where I
watched it more carefully than any heap of gold; and the stranger
departed as well satisfied with me as I was with him. I continued to
amuse myself in the society of my friends until I had eaten and drunk
all my fortune--was compelled to borrow money, and eventually got over
head and ears in debt. As soon as it was known in Surat that I was a
ruined man, I lost all credit; no one would trust me, and my creditors
being impatient to get their money, sent me summonses to pay them.
Finding myself almost penniless, and consequently exposed to all kinds
of insults and mortifications, I had recourse to my machine, and
dragging it out one night from my room into the open air, I stepped
into it, taking with me some provisions and the little money I had
left. I touched the spring which caused the machine to ascend; and
then moving one of the screws, I turned my back upon Surat and my
creditors, without any fear of their sending the officers after me. I
put on as much propelling power as possible all night, and it seemed
to me that my flight was swifter than the winds. At daybreak I looked
out of one of the apertures in the carpet to see whereabouts I was. I
could see nothing but mountains, precipices, a barren country, and a
frightful desert. Wherever I looked I could discover no signs of human
habitations. During all that day and the following night I continued
my aërial tour, and next day I found myself above a very thick wood,
near which was a fine city situated in an extensive plain. I stopped
here in order to take a view of the city, as well as of a magnificent
palace which I saw at some distance from it at the extremity of the
plain. I was extremely anxious to know where I was, and began to
ponder in what way I could satisfy my curiosity, when I observed a
peasant at work in a field. I descended in the wood, left my box
there, and going up to the labourer, asked the name of the city.
"Young man," he replied, "it is easy to see that you are a stranger,
since you do not know that this is the renowned city of Gazna, where
the just and valiant king Bahaman resides."

"And who lives," I asked, "in the palace at the end of the plain?"

"The king of Gazna," he replied, "has built it in order to keep his
daughter, the princess Schirine, shut up there; for the princess's
horoscope declares that she is threatened with being deceived by a
man. Bahaman, for the purpose of evading this predicted danger, has
erected this palace, which is built of marble, and surrounded by a
deep ditch. The gate is formed of Indian steel, and while the king
himself keeps the key, a numerous body of troops keep watch round it
day and night to prevent any man from gaining entrance. The king goes
once a week to see his daughter, and then returns to Gazna. Schirine's
only companions in the palace are a governess and a few female
slaves."

I thanked the peasant for his information, and directed my steps
towards the city. When I was near to it, I heard the noise of an
approaching multitude, and soon espied a vast crowd of horsemen
magnificently attired, and mounted on very fine horses richly
caparisoned. I perceived in the midst of this splendid cavalcade a
tall individual, with a crown of gold on his head, and whose dress was
covered with diamonds. I concluded that this person was the king of
Gazna, going to visit the princess his daughter; and, in fact, I
learned in the city that my conjecture was correct.

After having made the circuit of the city, and somewhat satisfied my
curiosity, I bethought me of my machine; and although I had left it in
a spot which seemed to promise security, I became uneasy on its
account. I left Gazna and had no peace of mind until I reached the
place where I had left the box, which I found quite safe. I then
became tranquil, and partook with a good appetite of the food which I
had brought with me, and as night was coming on, I resolved to pass it
in the wood. I had reason to hope that a profound sleep would soon
overpower me, for latterly my debts, as well as the general
complication of my affairs, had naturally caused me much uneasiness
and many sleepless nights: but my wishes were in vain, I could not
sleep; for what the peasant had told me respecting the princess
Schirine was constantly present to my mind. The more I thought of her
and her peculiar situation, the more did I become possessed with the
desire of effecting an interview; at length my inclinations became
ungovernable, and I resolved to convey myself to the roof of the
princess's palace and endeavour to obtain an entrance into her
chamber. "Perhaps," thought I, "I may have the happiness to please
her, perhaps to dispel the _ennui_ she must suffer under: perhaps even
I may be the mortal whose fortunate audacity was foretold by the
astrologers." I was young and consequently thoughtless, and I was not
deficient in courage, or such a scheme would not have occurred to me.
However, having formed the rash resolution, I instantly proceeded to
execute it. I raised myself up in the air and steered my machine in
the direction of the palace: the night was as dark as I could wish. I
passed without being seen over the heads of the soldiers, who were
dispersed around the palace fosse, keeping watch, and descended on the
roof near a spot where I saw a light; quitting my box I then slipped
in at a window which had been left open to admit the cool night
breeze. The room was furnished with the utmost magnificence; and I
saw, reposing in slumber on a sofa, a young lady who, from the
splendour and luxury with which she was surrounded, I could not doubt
was the princess Schirine herself. I gazed for some time on her and
found her to be of such dazzling beauty as exceeded the highest idea I
had formed of her. I drew nearer in order to gaze upon her more
intently: I could not, without an overwhelming emotion of rapture,
contemplate such charms. I was quite overcome; and hardly knowing what
I was about, knelt down beside her to kiss one of her beautiful hands.
She awoke at that instant, and seeing a man near her, though in an
attitude of respect which need have excited no alarm, uttered a cry
which soon brought her governess, who slept in an adjoining room.

"Help, Mahpeiker!" exclaimed the princess: "here is a man! how was it
possible for him to get into my room? You must surely have admitted
him, and are an accomplice in his crime."

"I his accomplice!" exclaimed the governess: "the bare idea is an
insult to me! I am as astonished as you can be, to see here this rash
young man. Besides, if I had even been inclined to favour him in his
bold attempt, how was it possible for me to deceive the vigilance of
the guards who keep watch around the palace? You know also that there
are twenty gates of burnished steel to be opened before any person can
get in here; the seal royal is on every lock, and the king, your
father, keeps the keys. I cannot imagine how this young man has been
able to overcome all these obstacles."

All this time I remained kneeling, overwhelmed with confusion: the
governess's long speech, however, gave me time to collect my thoughts,
and it occurred to me that I would endeavour to persuade them that I
was a being of a superior order.

"Beautiful princess," I said to Schirine, rising from my knee and
making her a profound obeisance, "do not be surprised at seeing me
here. I am not a lover who lavishes gold, and resorts to nefarious
tricks to accomplish his wishes; far be from me any unworthy
intention: I have not a wish at which your virtuous mind need be
ashamed. Know then that I am the king of the genii: for a long time I
have been aware of your singular position, and could not without
pitying you see you condemned to pass your best days in a prison. I am
come here to throw myself at your feet, and to ask you in marriage
from Bahaman: as my bride it will be in my power to shield you from
the danger alluded to by the prediction which has terrified your
father. Deign, therefore, beautiful princess, to look kindly on my
suit, and then let both your father and yourself be at rest respecting
your future fate, which cannot fail to be both glorious and happy; for
as soon as the news of your marriage is spread abroad in the world,
all the kings of the earth will stand in awe of the father-in-law of
so powerful a monarch, and every princess will envy your fate."

Schirine and her governess looked at each other during this speech as
if desirous of consulting together whether they should give credit to
it. I confess I had reason to believe that they would give no heed to
such a fable, but women are fond of the wonderful, and both Mahpeiker
and her mistress believed me.

After passing the greater part of the night in delightful conversation
with the princess of Gazna and her governess, I left her apartment
before daybreak, promising to return next day. I lost no time in
getting into my machine, and ascended to a great height that I might
not be seen by the soldiers. I alighted in the wood, left the box
there, and went into the city, where I purchased a stock of provisions
for eight days, magnificent robes, a turban of Indian woof surrounded
with a golden circlet, darting forth rays of light, and a rich girdle.
At the same time I did not forget the costliest perfumes and
essences. I spent all my money in these purchases without troubling my
head about the future; for I thought that after such a pleasant
adventure as had befallen me, I should never more want for any thing.
I remained all day in the wood employed in dressing and perfuming
myself with the utmost care and attention. When night came on, I
entered the machine and set off for the roof of Schirine's palace,
where I introduced myself into her apartment as before, and spent
another delightful evening in conversation with the princess and her
attendant. I left the palace when night was waning, for fear lest my
imposture should be discovered. I returned next day, and always
conducted myself so cleverly that the princess and Mahpeiker had not
the least idea that I was an impostor. True it is that the princess by
degrees had acquired such a fondness for me that, on this account, she
gave a more ready belief to what I said; for love is blind and, when
such feelings exist in favour of a person, his sincerity is never
doubted. I, too, had become deeply enamoured of the beautiful
princess, and more than once regretted the imposture I was practising
on her; but what was I to do? To discover it was certain destruction,
and I could not summon up courage to undeceive her.

After some days had elapsed, the king of Gazna, attended by some of
his officers, paid his weekly visit to his daughter's palace, and
finding the gates securely fastened, and his seal on the locks, said
to the vizirs who accompanied him:

"Every thing goes on as well as possible: so long as the palace gates
continue in this state I have little fear of the evil with which my
daughter is threatened."

He went up to her apartment alone and unannounced, and at seeing him
she could not help betraying some emotion, which he noticed and
required to know the reason of. His curiosity added to her perplexity;
and, finding herself at last compelled to satisfy him, she related
all that had taken place. Your majesty may conceive the astonishment
of king Bahaman when he learned that, without his knowledge, a
proposal of marriage had been made by the king of the genii. But he
was not so easily duped as his daughter. Suspecting the truth, he
exclaimed:

"Alas! my child, how credulous you are! O Heaven! I see that it is
hopeless to endeavour to avoid the misfortunes destined for us; the
horoscope of Schirine is fulfilled; some villain has deceived her!"

So saying, he left the princess's room in a state of great agitation,
and went over all the palace, from the top to the bottom, searching
every where, and strictly examining all the attendants, but I need
hardly say without success, for he found no trace of any stranger, nor
the slightest circumstance to lead to the supposition that bribery had
been resorted to, which increased his astonishment. "By what means,"
he said, "can any person, however ingenious and daring, enter this
fortress? To me it is inconceivable."

He resolved to get at the truth of the matter somehow, but being
desirous of setting to work prudently, and of speaking himself alone,
in the first instance, and without witnesses, to the pretended genius,
he sent back his vizirs and courtiers to Gazna. "Withdraw," he said to
them, "and I will remain alone at the palace this night with my
daughter; and do you return here to-morrow."

They all obeyed the king's orders: they returned to the city, and
Bahaman set about questioning the princess afresh until night drew on.
He asked her if I had eaten with her. She replied that I had not, for
that she had in vain offered me refreshments, and that she had not
seen me either eat or drink any thing since I came to her. "Tell me
the whole occurrence again," he said, "and conceal nothing." Schirine
related to him her story all over again, and the king, who was
attentive to her recital, weighed every circumstance of it carefully.

Night had now set in; Bahaman seated himself on a sofa, and ordered
tapers to be lit and to be placed before him on the marble table. He
then drew his sabre, to be employed, if necessary, in wiping out with
my blood the insult he conceived to have been offered to his honour.
He sat thus, expecting me every moment; and the idea of seeing me
appear instantaneously probably agitated him not a little.

That night it happened that the atmosphere was highly charged with
electric matter. A brilliant flash of lightning darted across the sky
before him and made him start. Approaching the window at which
Schirine had told him I should enter, and observing the heavens to be
on fire with vivid flashes, his imagination was excited, although
nothing was taking place but what was quite natural: he thought he saw
in the clouds fanciful forms, among which was prominently conspicuous
that of a venerable old man, such as the prophet is represented to us.
As he gazed he forgot to reflect that these meteors arose merely from
exhalations of an inflammable nature that exploded in the air, and
came to regard them as brilliant lights announcing to the world the
descent of the king of the genii. In such a state of mind the king was
disposed to receive me as really bearing the character to which I
pretended, and therefore when I appeared at the window, instead of
exhibiting the fury he had contemplated, he was overcome with respect
and fear; he dropped his sabre, and, falling at my feet, kissed them,
and said, "O great king! what am I, and what have I done to deserve
the honour of being your father-in-law?"

From these words I could guess what had passed between the king and
the princess, and discovered that the worthy monarch was almost as
easily imposed upon as his daughter. We sat down together on the sofa
and conversed. I now formally renewed to him my suit for the hand of
the princess. He believed all I told him, and feeling delighted at the
prospect of being allied to me, again prostrated himself at my feet
in sign of gratitude for my kindness. I raised him up, embraced him,
and assured him of my protection, for which he could not find language
sufficiently strong to thank me. It was arranged that the marriage
should take place the following day. I stopped with Schirine and her
father for a few hours, but however pleased I might be with our
interview, I did not forget how time was flying; I was apprehensive of
daylight surprising us, and of my box being seen on the roof of the
palace. I therefore made haste to leave in good time and to reseat
myself in the machine.

The following day, on the return of the vizirs and great officers of
state, a magnificent banquet was prepared at the palace, and
immediately on my arrival in the evening the marriage was celebrated
with great pomp and rejoicing.

A month had nearly passed during which I continued to be looked on and
treated as the king of the genii, and I was leading a most agreeable
life, when there arrived in the city of Gazna an ambassador from a
neighbouring monarch to demand Schirine in marriage. On being admitted
to an audience, and detailing the object of his embassy, Bahaman said
to him:

"I am sorry that I am unable to give my daughter in marriage to the
king, your master, for I have already bestowed her hand on the king of
the genii."

From such a reply the ambassador supposed that king Bahaman had lost
his senses; he therefore took leave and returned to his master, who
also at first thought Bahaman was mad, but on reconsidering the answer
began to look on the refusal as a studied insult; he therefore raised
troops, and forming a large army, entered the kingdom of Gazna in a
hostile manner. This king, whose name was Cacem, was more powerful
than Bahaman, who also was so slow in preparing to oppose his enemy
that he could not prevent him from making great progress. Cacem
defeated some troops which opposed him, and advancing rapidly towards
the city of Gazna, found the army of Bahaman intrenched in the plain
before the castle of the princess Schirine. The design of the
irritated lover was to attack Bahaman in his intrenchments; but as his
troops had need of rest, and he had only arrived that evening in the
plain after a long forced march, he delayed his attack until the
following morning.

The king of Gazna, having been informed of the numbers and valour of
Cacem's soldiers, began to tremble for the result. He assembled his
privy council and asked for their advice, when one of its members
spoke in the following terms:

"I am astonished that the king should appear to be at all uneasy on
this occasion. What alarm can all the princes of the world, to say
nothing of Cacem, occasion to the father-in-law of the king of the
genii? Your majesty need only address yourself to him, and beg his
assistance, and he will soon confound your enemies. It is his duty to
do this, indeed, since it is on his account that Cacem has come to
disturb the quiet of your majesty's subjects."

This speech did not fail to inspire king Bahaman with confidence.

"You are right," he said to the courtier; "I shall at once go and beg
of him to repulse my proud enemy, and I venture to hope that he will
not reject my supplication."

So saying, he went to visit his daughter, and said to her:

"Schirine, to-morrow at daybreak it is Cacem's intention to attack us,
and I am afraid he will carry our intrenchments. I wish to entreat of
the king of the genii that he would undertake our defence. Let us
unite our prayers that he would be favourable to us."

"My lord and father," replied the princess, "there will be no great
difficulty in engaging the king on our side; he will soon disperse the
enemy's troops, and all the kings of the world will learn, at Cacem's
expense, to respect you."

"But," resumed king Bahaman, "night is coming on, and still the king
of the genii does not appear; can he have forsaken us?"

"No, no, my father," replied Schirine; "do not fear that he will fail
us in time of need. He sees the army which is now besieging us, and is
perhaps at this moment preparing to carry disorder and terror into all
its ranks."

And this, in fact, was what I was desirous of doing. I had watched
during the day Cacem's troops; I had observed their arrangement, and
taken particular notice of the head-quarters of the king. I collected
a quantity of stones and pebbles, both large and small, with which I
filled my box, and at midnight I mounted aloft. Advancing towards the
tents of Cacem, I easily discovered that in which the king was
reposing. It was very lofty, richly adorned with gilding, and in the
form of a dome, supported on twelve columns of painted wood, fixed
deep in the ground; the spaces between the columns were intertwined
with branches of different kinds of trees, and towards the summit
there were two windows, one at the east, and another at the south
side.

All the soldiers around the tent were asleep; and this circumstance
permitted me to descend near one of the windows without being
perceived. Through it I saw the king lying on a sofa, with his head
supported on a satin cushion. Rising a little in my box, I hurled a
large stone at Cacem; I struck him on the forehead, and wounded him
dangerously; he uttered a cry, which soon awoke his guards and
officers, who, running up to him, found him covered with blood, and
almost insensible. Immediately loud cries were heard, and the alarm
was communicated to the whole quarter, every one asking what had
happened. A report was soon circulated that the king was wounded, and
it was not known by whom the blow had been struck. Whilst the culprit
was being searched for, I ascended high up among the clouds, and
discharged from an immense height a shower of stones on the royal tent
and all near it. The stones cut through the silk of the tent, and
severely wounded the attendants; many of the soldiers who surrounded
it, too, were very badly hit, and began to cry out that stones were
being rained down on them from heaven. The news soon spread, and to
confirm it I scattered my stony artillery in all directions. Terror
took possession of the army; both officers and soldiers thinking that
the Prophet was enraged with Cacem, and that his anger was too
evidently declared by this miraculous interference. In short,
Bahaman's enemies took to flight in a panic, and with such
precipitation, that they abandoned their tents and baggage to their
foes, crying out, "We are lost; Heaven is destroying us!"

When day dawned the king of Gazna was not a little surprised to find,
that, instead of advancing to the attack, the enemy was in full
retreat. Seeing this, however, he pursued the fugitives with his best
troops, who made prodigious carnage, and took prisoner Cacem himself,
whose wound prevented his making a sufficiently speedy flight.

"Why," asked Bahaman, when his enemy was brought before him, "why have
you advanced into my dominions against all right and reason? What
provocation have I given you for making war against me?"

"Bahaman," replied the vanquished monarch, "I thought you had refused
me your daughter out of contempt for me, and I thirsted to be revenged
upon you. I believed the story of the king of the genii being your
son-in-law to be a mere pretext. I have now, however, good reason to
be sure of its truth, for it is he who has wounded me and dispersed my
army."

When the pursuit was ended Bahaman returned to Gazna with Cacem, who,
however, died of his wound the same day. The spoil was divided, and it
was so considerable, that even the common soldiers returned home
laden with booty; and prayers were offered up in all the mosques
thanking Heaven for having confounded the enemies of the state.

When night arrived, the king repaired to the princess's palace.

"My daughter," he said, "I have come to thank the king of the genii
for a success I owe entirely to him. The courier whom I despatched to
you has informed you of all that he has done for us, and I am so
profoundly grateful for it, that I am dying with impatience to embrace
his knees."

This satisfaction was soon granted him. I entered Schirine's room by
the usual window, and there, as I indeed expected, I found him.

"O great king!" he exclaimed, "language is wanting to express to you
what I feel on this occasion. Read yourself in my countenance the full
measure of my gratitude."

I raised up Bahaman, and kissed his forehead.

"Prince," I said to him, "could you possibly think that I would refuse
to help you in the embarrassing situation in which you were placed on
my account? I have punished the proud Cacem who intended to make
himself master of your kingdom, and to carry off Schirine, to place
her among the slaves of his seraglio. No longer fear that any
potentate on the earth will dare to make war against you; but if any
one should be so bold, be assured that I will rain a fiery shower upon
his troops, which will reduce them to ashes."

After having again assured the king of Gazna that I would take his
kingdom under my protection, I related how the enemy's army had been
terrified at seeing stones showered down upon their camp. Bahaman, for
his part, repeated to me what Cacem had told him, and then took his
departure, leaving Schirine and myself to ourselves. The princess was
as sensible as her father of the important service I had rendered to
the country, and manifested the greatest gratitude, caressing me a
thousand times over.

Two days after the interment of Cacem, on whom, although a foe, a
magnificent funeral was bestowed, the king of Gazna commanded that
rejoicings should take place in the city for the defeat of the enemy's
troops. I thought that a festival prepared in my honour ought to be
signalized by some wonderful prodigy; and for this purpose I purchased
in Gazna some combustible materials. With these I manufactured
fireworks, which I let off at as great a height as possible, while the
people in the streets were celebrating their victory with great
rejoicings. My pyrotechnic display was very successful; and as soon as
daylight appeared I left my machine, and went into the town to have
the pleasure of hearing what people said about me. I was not deceived
in my expectations. A thousand extravagant accounts were current among
those who had been spectators of my display. Some said that the king
of the genii had illuminated the whole heavens expressly to show his
satisfaction with the festival; and others asserted that they had even
seen him in the sky, surrounded by a blaze of meteors.

All these speeches amused me exceedingly. But alas! while I was
indulging in these pleasurable sensations, my box--my dear
machine--the instrument by which I had worked all my wonders--was
burning to ashes in the wood. A spark, which I had not perceived, had
set fire to it in my absence, and consumed it, and in this state I
found it on my return. A father who enters his house, and finds his
only son pierced with a thousand mortal wounds, and lying bathed in
his blood, could not suffer more than I did on this occasion. I tore
my hair and garments, while the wood resounded with my cries and
lamentations; I even wonder that I did not lay violent hands upon
myself in the paroxysm of my despair. However, by degrees I became
calmed, and reflecting that there was no help for my disaster, I at
the same time perceived that some resolution must be formed
immediately. Only one course seemed open to me, and that was to seek
my fortunes elsewhere.

Leaving, therefore, Bahaman and Schirine, doubtless in the deepest
distress about me, I left the city of Gazna, and falling in with a
caravan of Egyptian merchants, returning to their own country, I
joined myself to them, and travelled to Grand Cairo, where I became a
weaver in order to gain a subsistence. I lived there for some years
and afterwards came to Damascus, where I have followed the same
occupation. In appearance I am very well satisfied with my condition,
but in reality I am not at all happy, I cannot forget my former
fortunate condition, Schirine is ever present to my thoughts, and
although I would wish to banish her from my recollection, and in truth
make every effort to do so, yet the attempt, as painful as useless,
merely causes me constant uneasiness.

I have now, may it please your majesty, performed what you required of
me. I know very well that you do not approve the deceit I practised
towards the king of Gazna and the princess Schirine, for I have
perceived oftener than once, that my story was repugnant to your
feelings and that your piety shuddered at my sacrilegious audacity.
But be pleased to remember that you demanded a true account from me,
and condescend to forgive the confession I have made of my adventures,
in consideration of the necessity I was under of obeying you.


CONCLUSION.

The king of Damascus made a suitable reply, and dismissed the weaver,
whose story afforded a new argument in favour of the grand vizir's
opinion that there is no man who is perfectly happy: however, the king
would not desist.

"Atalmulc," he said, "with the exception of yourself, there is no man
approaches me but with a smiling countenance; it cannot be that not
one of all these is perfectly happy; I shall ask my generals,
courtiers, and all the officers of my household. Go, vizir, and summon
them all into my presence in succession."

He had the patience to speak to them all individually, and they all
made the same reply; namely, that they were not exempt from grief. One
complained of his wife, another of his children; the poor accused
their poverty as the cause of all their misfortunes, and the rich
either did not enjoy good health, or laboured under some other source
of affliction.

Bedreddin having questioned so many persons, not one of whom was
contented with his lot, came at last to be of the same mind with
Atalmulc, and was obliged to admit to his favourite vizir that perfect
felicity is not to be looked for in the present life; that every lot
and every station has its cares, its anxieties, and its misfortunes;
and that we approach the condition of complete happiness only as we
conscientiously discharge those duties which our position daily and
hourly requires of us.

[Illustration]

THE END.


FOOTNOTES:

[9] A gift to the kingdom.

[10] The Devil.

[11] Captain of the door of the king's chamber.

[12] The officer in command of the pages.

[13] Lieutenant.

[14] Archers.

GILBERT AND RIVINGTON, PRINTERS, ST. JOHN'S SQUARE, LONDON.

       *       *       *       *       *

WILLIAM LAY'S

_Catalogue_

OF

ATTRACTIVE AND ENTERTAINING WORKS

BY POPULAR AUTHORS.

LONDON:

WILLIAM LAY, KING WILLIAM STREET, STRAND.

1857.

       *       *       *       *       *

THE AMUSING LIBRARY

FOR HOME AND RAIL.


The object is to provide a choice supply of Books of Light Reading,
entirely free from objectionable matter, and which may be
indiscriminately used by young and old. Great care has been bestowed
in the selection; and it is hoped that the Works contained in this
Series will be found adapted in every respect for the perusal of all
who desire a sound and healthy imaginative literature, free from
everything immoral on the one hand, or controversial on the other. The
volumes, while issued at a price which brings them within the reach of
all, yet possess sufficient attractions of typography and
embellishment to fit them for the drawing-room table and for presents
to friends.

"We have not seen for many a day books which so deeply interested us,
and which are so much in advance of the ordinary books provided for
the rail or road. The 'Amusing Library' will be the most popular of
the many which these stirring days have produced."--_Churchman's
Companion._

"Ministers of religion and philanthropists have long lamented the
absence of some well-written serial works suitable for the million, to
counteract the baneful influence of the impure literature of the day.
The want is here supplied with judgment and good taste. The books are
valuable both to old and young."--_Manchester Courier._


Grantley Manor:

     The well-known and favourite Novel by Lady Georgiana
     Fullerton. 2_s._ boards; 2_s._ 6_d._ cloth.

"The skill with which the plot of 'Grantley Manor' is constructed, the
exquisite truth of delineation which the characters exhibit, and the
intensity of passion which warms and dignifies the subject, are alike
admirable.... The depth of passion which surrounds the story of
Genevra is the result of unquestionable genius. No heroine that we can
remember excels this lovely creation in purity, deep affection, a
solemn sense of the sanctity of duty, and a profound feeling of the
beauty and holiness of religion."--_Times._


Tales of Humour.

     Fcap. 8vo, 2_s._ boards; 2_s._ 6_d._ cloth.

"Spirited and well-selected tales of most inviting dimensions. Will be
a favourite on the 'line.'"--_Brighton Herald._


Abroad and at Home.

     Tales Here and There. By Miss Pardoe. Fcap. 8vo, 2_s._
     boards; 2_s._ 6_d._ cloth.

"Ten pretty tales, full of interesting matter, gracefully
related."--_Glasgow Herald._

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: The Lay of the Golden Dice.]

Amusing Poetry.

A new and choice selection, Edited by Shirley Brooks. Fcap. 8vo, 2_s._
boards; 2_s._ 6_d._ cloth.

13; KING WILLIAM STREET, STRAND.

       *       *       *       *       *

AMUSING LIBRARY, _continued_.

Hendrik Conscience's Tales.

Complete in Six Volumes. Each Fcap. 8vo, 2_s._ boards; 2_s._ 6_d._
cloth.

     I. THE DEMON OF GOLD. (_Just ready._)

     II. THE LION OF FLANDERS.

     III. THE CURSE OF THE VILLAGE, ETC.

     IV. VEVA; OR, THE WAR OF THE PEASANTS.

     V. THE MISER, AND RICKETICKETACK.

     VI. TALES OF FLANDERS.

"Had our writers of fiction preserved the healthful tone which
characterises these volumes, they would not have been a proscribed
class. Each of the tales may be read by the most modest without a
blush, and by the most fastidious without scruple."--_Eclectic
Review._

"Writing in a language familiar to comparatively few, Conscience owes
to his own merits alone the European reputation which he now enjoys.
There is a truthfulness in his pictures which is perfectly delightful,
while the whole moral of his works is such as to make them a valuable
addition to the light-reading division of a library."--_Notes and
Queries._

"We do not know if, laying aside Sir Walter Scott, it would be
possible to name any English historical novel at all equal in
deep interest to the 'Lion of Flanders,' or the 'War of the
Peasants.'"--_Scotsman._

Romantic Tales of Great Men:

Artists, Poets, Scholars, Statesmen, etc. 2s. boards; 2_s._ 6_d._
cloth.

This volume will be found to convey information as well as amusement,
all the tales being founded on historical facts. It is charmingly
written, and forms an excellent prize or gift-book.

Tales of the City and the Plain.

1_s._ 6_d._ boards; 2_s._ cloth.

The Betrothed;

A Romance of the Seventeenth Century. By Manzoni. 2_s._ boards; 2_s._
6_d._ cloth.

This unrivalled romance, which stands quite alone in the literature of
fiction, is now brought within the reach of every reader in this very
neat and portable edition.

"_I am not sure_," says Rogers, "_that I would not rather have written
the Betrothed than all Scott's novels_." "It has every quality that a
work of fiction ought to have."--_Heir of Redcliffe._

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration]

The Adventures of Jules Gerard, the "Lion-killer"

of Northern Africa, during his Ten Years' Campaigns among the Lions of
Algeria; including the Details of more than Forty Encounters,
Adventures, and Episodes, and a variety of interesting sketches of
Arab life.

New Edition, Enlarged, and Profusely Illustrated, containing a
Complete and Concise History and Description of Algeria, with Maps,
Sections, and numerous Illustrations of Arab and French Colonial Life
and Manners; and further enriched with numerous new Engravings
illustrative of M. Gerard's startling Adventures among the Lions of
North Africa. Fcap. 8vo, 3s. 6d., cloth.

The Amusing Library Edition may still be had, price 2s. boards; 2s.
6d. cloth. Also a Cheap Edition, 1s., boards.

       *       *       *       *       *

Popular Tales and Sketches.

By Mrs. S. C. Hall. Containing Eighteen Beautiful Tales by this most
popular Authoress. 2_s._ boards; 2_s._ 6_d._ cloth.


Tales of France.

Romantic Historical, and Domestic. 2_s._ boards; 2_s._ 6_d._ cloth.

"Original in style, full of interest, and unexceptionable in
morals."--_Hants Advertiser._


Tales of Paris and its Streets.

2_s._ boards; 2_s._ 6 _d._ cloth.

[**three asterisks]These tales, of which the scenes are laid in the
capital of France, introduce to the English reader some of the most
interesting, and, at the same time, unexceptionable of the shorter
fictions of our Continental neighbours; many of which will be found
useful as well as entertaining, from the illustrations which they
supply of history and manners at different periods.


Tales and Traditions of the Netherlands.

1_s._ 6_d._ boards; 2_s._ cloth.

"A most varied, interesting, and readable volume."--_Caledonian
Mercury._

"Wrought up with great skill, and extremely interesting."--_Daily
Express._


Romantic Tales of Spain.

    I. THE RIVALS; A TALE OF CASTILE.
    II. THE GIPSY LOVERS. By Cervantes.
    III. THE GUIDE; AN EPISODE OF THE CIVIL WARS.

Fcap. 8vo, 1_s._ 6_d._ boards; 2_s._ cloth.


Sea Stories:

Tales of Discovery, Adventure, and Escape. A new and choice
Collection, containing several striking Narratives, mostly unknown to
English readers; also a complete and graphic Sketch of the Adventures
of Columbus. 2_s._ boards; 2_s._ 6_d._ cloth.

"The best volume of the kind we have ever met with."--_Churchman's
Companion._

       *       *       *       *       *

NEW WORKS.

       *       *       *       *       *

A Life of John Banim, the Irish Novelist.

Author of "Damon and Pythias," etc., and one of the writers of "Tales
by the O'Hara Family." With Extracts from his Correspondence--general
and literary. By Patrick Joseph Murray. Fcap. 8vo.

[_Just ready._

_In the Press, and will speedily appear at short intervals,_

Tales by the O'Hara Family.

Reproductions of several of the most popular and powerful of these
wonderfully graphic Tales, with the addition of Prefaces and Notes by
Michael Banim, the survivor of the O'Hara family.


_Nearly ready,_

    CROHOORE OF THE BILLHOOK.
    FATHER CONNELL.
    JOHN DOE.


Tales of Brigands and Smugglers.

A collection of some of the most remarkable events in the lives of
some celebrated Bandits and Smugglers, as well as of Adventures met
with by Travellers in their company, not hitherto published in any
other collection. Fcap. 8vo, 2_s._ boards; 2_s._ 6_d._ cloth.

[_Just ready._

       *       *       *       *       *

THE ENTERTAINING LIBRARY.

A NEW SERIES OF CHOICE BOOKS OF RECREATION FOR THE YOUNG, FULLY
ILLUSTRATED.


The History of Jean Paul Choppart;

Or, the Surprising Adventures of a Runaway. Illustrated with 22
Engravings. Fcap. 8vo, 2_s._ 6_d._ cloth.

"'Jean Paul Choppart' is a translation of a work which has become very
popular on the Continent, and is destined to receive a like share of
favour in this country, should parents and instructors of children
become aware of the excellent moral which its pages convey through the
medium of a story which is most piquant and catching for the youthful
mind."--_Court Journal._


The Thousand and One Days;

Or, Arabian Tales. A select and thoroughly unexceptionable collection
of highly entertaining tales, illustrative of Oriental manners and
customs, carefully revised and adapted for the young. With a Preface
by Miss PARDOE. Fcap. 8vo, with numerous engravings, 3_s._ 6_d._
cloth.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Books for Students and Travellers._


The Vade Mecum

For Tourists in France and Belgium; containing a copious Phrasebook
and Vocabulary adapted for every emergency of the traveller, with Maps
of the chief routes, and full information as to Money, Passports,
Hotels, etc. etc. Of a size for the waistcoat-pocket, limp cloth,
1_s._; with pockets and strap for passport, etc., 2_s._

"Everything wanted on the journey, and nothing more."


The German Vade Mecum;

Or German and English Phrase and Guide Book for Students, Travellers,
etc. Compiled on exactly the same principles, and containing precisely
the same sort of matter, as the French Vade Mecum. 1_s._


A Compendious French Grammar,

For the use of Students and Travellers; with full instructions in
Pronunciation, and containing the substance of all the best French
Grammars in a neat portable form, easily carried in the pocket. 1_s._


The Pocket French Dictionary.

A compendious French and English and English and French Dictionary,
for the use of Students and Travellers.

[_Nearly ready._


The following is an enumeration of the principal points which
distinguish this Dictionary:--

I. All those words are excluded which, however much they are in place
in a large Dictionary, like that of Johnson or Webster, or the French
Dictionary of the Academy, are yet totally useless to ordinary
readers.

II. The space thus saved is occupied by matter really useful to the
student or traveller, such as--

     (1.) The various meanings and uses of words in different
     connections, so as at once to point out the particular term
     required.

     (2.) Commercial and travelling expressions, especially those
     recently introduced; also technical words in general use.

     (3.) A selection of the most useful idioms and phrases.

     (4.) The prepositions required by the French verbs and
     adjectives.

III. A clear and full explanation of the Rules of Pronunciation is
prefixed, while that of all difficult or exceptional words is
indicated as they occur.

       *       *       *       *       *

A LIST OF NEW AND POPULAR WORKS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE.

SOLD BY W. H. DALTON,

BOOKSELLER TO THE QUEEN,

28, COCKSPUR STREET, CHARING CROSS.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Adventures of a Cat; and a Fine Cat too! By ALFRED Elwes, Author
of "The Adventures of a Bear," &c. With Eight Illustrations by
HARRISON WEIR. Fcap. 4to. cloth, 3s. 6d.; or 6s. with coloured plates.

The Adventures of a Dog, and a Good Dog too! By ALFRED ELWES, Author
of "The Adventures of a Bear," &c. With Eight large Illustrations by
HARRISON WEIR. Fcap. 4to. cloth, 3s. 6d.; or 6s. coloured pictures,
gilt edges.

The Adventures of a Bear, and a Great Bear too! By ALFRED ELWES. With
Nine Illustrations by HARRISON WEIR. Fcap. 4to. 3s. 6d. cloth; or 6s.
with coloured pictures, gilt edges.

The Old Story Teller. Translated from the German of LUDWIG BECHSTEIN,
by the Translators of "Grimm's Household Stories." With 100
Illustrations by LUDWIG RICHTER. Crown 8vo. cloth, 8s. coloured
pictures, gilt edges.

Danish Fairy Tales and Legends. By HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN. The
genuine edition, translated direct from the Danish. With Twenty
Illustrations, and a Memoir and Portrait of the Author. Fcap. 8vo. 5s.
cloth.

A Hero: Philip's Book; A Tale for Young People. By the Author of
"Olive," "The Head of the Family," "Cola Monti," &c. Illustrated by
JAMES GODWIN. Fcap. 8vo. cloth, 3s. 6d. coloured pictures, gilt edges.

       *       *       *       *       *

W. H. DALTON, BOOKSELLER TO THE QUEEN, 28, COCKSPUR STREET, CHARING
CROSS.

       *       *       *       *       *

Instructive and Amusing Works.


The Little Drummer; or, the Boy Soldier. A Story of the Russian
Campaign. Edited by H. W. DULCKEN. Illustrated by JOHN GILBERT. Fcap.
8vo. cloth, 3s. 6d. coloured pictures, gilt edges.

All is not Gold that Glitters. By ALICE B. NEAL (Cousin Alice).
Illustrated by DALZIEL. Fcap. 8vo. cloth, 3s. 6d.


BY MRS. HARRIET MYRTLE.

The Little Sister. With Sixteen Illustrations on Steel by H. J.
SCHNEIDER. Fcap. 4to. cloth, gilt edges, 7s. 6d.

A Day Of Pleasure. A Simple Story for Young Children. With Eight
Illustrations by HABLOT K. BROWNE. Fcap. 4to. cloth, 6s. with coloured
pictures, gilt edges.

Home and its Pleasures. Simple Stories for Young Children. With Eight
Illustrations by HALBLOT K. BROWNE. Fcap. 4to. cloth, 6s. with
coloured pictures, gilt edges.

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