The Arabian Nights Entertainments, by Andrew Lang
Part 4 out of 6
Camaralzaman's love? Be you who you may, he is not unworthy of you."
It then suddenly occurred to him, that perhaps this was the bride
his father had destined for him, and that the King had probably
had her placed in this room in order to see how far Camaralzaman's
aversion to marriage would withstand her charms.
"At all events," he thought, "I will take this ring as a remembrance
So saying he drew off a fine ring which the princess wore on
her finger, and replaced it by one of his own. After which he
lay down again and was soon fast asleep.
Then Danhasch, in his turn, took the form of a gnat and bit
the princess on her lip.
She started up, and was not a little amazed at seeing a young man
beside her. From surprise she soon passed to admiration, and then
to delight on perceiving how handsome and fascinating he was.
"Why," cried she, "was it you my father wished me to marry?
How unlucky that I did not know sooner! I should not have made
him so angry. But wake up! wake up! for I know I shall love you
with all my heart."
So saying she shook Camaralzaman so violently that nothing
but the spells of Maimoune could have prevented his waking.
"Oh!" cried the princess. "Why are you so drowsy?" So saying she
took his hand and noticed her own ring on his finger, which made her
wonder still more. But as he still remained in a profound slumber
she pressed a kiss on his cheek and soon fell fast asleep too.
Then Maimoune turning to the genie said: "Well, are you satisfied
that my prince surpasses your princess? Another time pray believe
me when I assert anything."
Then turning to Caschcasch: "My thanks to you, and now do you
and Danhasch bear the princess back to her own home."
The two genii hastened to obey, and Maimoune returned to her well.
On waking next morning the first thing Prince Camaralzaman did
was to look round for the lovely lady he had seen at night,
and the next to question the slave who waited on him about her.
But the slave persisted so strongly that he knew nothing of any lady,
and still less of how she got into the tower, that the prince lost
all patience, and after giving him a good beating tied a rope round him
and ducked him in the well till the unfortunate man cried out that he
would tell everything. Then the prince drew him up all dripping wet,
but the slave begged leave to change his clothes first, and as soon
as the prince consented hurried off just as he was to the palace.
Here he found the king talking to the grand-vizir of all the anxiety
his son had caused him. The slave was admitted at once and cried:
"Alas, Sire! I bring sad news to your Majesty. There can be no
doubt that the prince has completely lost his senses. He declares
that he saw a lady sleeping on his couch last night, and the state
you see me in proves how violent contradiction makes him."
He then gave a minute account of all the prince had said and done.
The king, much moved, begged the vizir to examine into this
new misfortune, and the latter at once went to the tower, where he
found the prince quietly reading a book. After the first exchange
of greetings the vizir said:
"I feel really very angry with your slave for alarming his Majesty
by the news he brought him."
"What news?" asked the prince.
"Ah!" replied the vizir, "something absurd, I feel sure, seeing how
I find you."
"Most likely," said the prince; "but now that you are here I am
glad of the opportunity to ask you where is the lady who slept
in this room last night?"
The grand-vizir felt beside himself at this question.
"Prince!" he exclaimed, "how would it be possible for any man,
much less a woman, to enter this room at night without walking over
your slave on the threshold? Pray consider the matter, and you
will realise that you have been deeply impressed by some dream."
But the prince angrily insisted on knowing who and where the lady was,
and was not to be persuaded by all the vizir's protestations to the
contrary that the plot had not been one of his making. At last,
losing patience, he seized the vizir by the beard and loaded him
"Stop, Prince," cried the unhappy vizir, "stay and hear what I
have to say."
The prince, whose arm was getting tired, paused.
"I confess, Prince," said the vizir, "that there is some foundation
for what you say. But you know well that a minister has to carry
out his master's orders. Allow me to go and to take to the king
any message you may choose to send."
"Very well," said the prince; "then go and tell him that I consent
to marry the lady whom he sent or brought here last night.
Be quick and bring me back his answer."
The vizir bowed to the ground and hastened to leave the room and tower.
"Well," asked the king as soon as he appeared, "and how did you
find my son?"
"Alas, sire," was the reply, "the slave's report is only too true!"
He then gave an exact account of his interview with Camaralzaman
and of the prince's fury when told that it was not possible for any
lady to have entered his room, and of the treatment he himself
had received. The king, much distressed, determined to clear
up the matter himself, and, ordering the vizir to follow him,
set out to visit his son.
The prince received his father with profound respect, and the king,
making him sit beside him, asked him several questions, to which
Camaralzaman replied with much good sense. At last the king said:
"My son, pray tell me about the lady who, it is said, was in your room
"Sire," replied the prince, "pray do not increase my distress
in this matter, but rather make me happy by giving her to me
in marriage. However much I may have objected to matrimony formerly,
the sight of this lovely girl has overcome all my prejudices,
and I will gratefully receive her from your hands."
The king was almost speechless on hearing his son, but after a time
assured him most solemnly that he knew nothing whatever about
the lady in question, and had not connived at her appearance.
He then desired the prince to relate the whole story to him.
Camaralzaman did so at great length, showed the ring, and implored
his father to help to find the bride he so ardently desired.
"After all you tell me," remarked the king, "I can no longer doubt
your word; but how and whence the lady came, or why she should
have stayed so short a time I cannot imagine. The whole affair
is indeed mysterious. Come, my dear son, let us wait together
for happier days."
So saying the king took Camaralzaman by the hand and led him back
to the palace, where the prince took to his bed and gave himself up
to despair, and the king shutting himself up with his son entirely
neglected the affairs of state.
The prime minister, who was the only person admitted, felt it his
duty at last to tell the king how much the court and all the people
complained of his seclusion, and how bad it was for the nation.
He urged the sultan to remove with the prince to a lovely little
island close by, whence he could easily attend public audiences,
and where the charming scenery and fine air would do the invalid so
much good as to enable him to bear his father's occasional absence.
The king approved the plan, and as soon as the castle on the island
could be prepared for their reception he and the prince arrived there,
Schahzaman never leaving his son except for the prescribed public
audiences twice a week.
Whilst all this was happening in the capital of Schahzaman the two
genii had carefully borne the Princess of China back to her own
palace and replaced her in bed. On waking next morning she first
turned from one side to another and then, finding herself alone,
called loudly for her women.
"Tell me," she cried, "where is the young man I love so dearly,
and who slept near me last night?"
"Princess," exclaimed the nurse, "we cannot tell what you allude
to without more explanation."
"Why," continued the princess, "the most charming and beautiful young
man lay sleeping beside me last night. I did my utmost to wake him,
but in vain."
"Your Royal Highness wishes to make game of us," said the nurse.
"Is it your pleasure to rise?"
"I am quite in earnest," persisted the princess, "and I want to know
where he is."
"But, Princess," expostulated the nurse, "we left you quite alone
last night, and we have seen no one enter your room since then."
At this the princess lost all patience, and taking the nurse by her
hair she boxed her ears soundly, crying out: "You shall tell me,
you old witch, or I'll kill you."
The nurse had no little trouble in escaping, and hurried off to
the queen, to whom she related the whole story with tears in her eyes.
"You see, madam," she concluded, "that the princess must be out
of her mind. If only you will come and see her, you will be able
to judge for yourself."
The queen hurried to her daughter's apartments, and after tenderly
embracing her, asked her why she had treated her nurse so badly.
"Madam," said the princess, "I perceive that your Majesty wishes
to make game of me, but I can assure you that I will never marry
anyone except the charming young man whom I saw last night.
You must know where he is, so pray send for him."
The queen was much surprised by these words, but when she
declared that she knew nothing whatever of the matter the
princess lost all respect, and answered that if she were not
allowed to marry as she wished she should kill herself, and
it was in vain that the queen tried to pacify her and bring her to reason.
The king himself came to hear the rights of the matter, but the
princess only persisted in her story, and as a proof showed the ring
on her finger. The king hardly knew what to make of it all, but ended
by thinking that his daughter was more crazy than ever, and without
further argument he had her placed in still closer confinement,
with only her nurse to wait on her and a powerful guard to keep the door.
Then he assembled his council, and having told them the sad state
of things, added: "If any of you can succeed in curing the princess,
I will give her to him in marriage, and he shall be my heir."
An elderly emir present, fired with the desire to possess a young
and lovely wife and to rule over a great kingdom, offered to try
the magic arts with which he was acquainted.
"You are welcome to try," said the king, "but I make one condition,
which is, that should you fail you will lose your life."
The emir accepted the condition, and the king led him to the princess,
who, veiling her face, remarked, "I am surprised, sire, that you
should bring an unknown man into my presence."
"You need not be shocked," said the king; "this is one of my emirs
who asks your hand in marriage."
"Sire," replied the princess, "this is not the one you gave me
before and whose ring I wear. Permit me to say that I can accept
The emir, who had expected to hear the princess talk nonsense,
finding how calm and reasonable she was, assured the king that he
could not venture to undertake a cure, but placed his head at his
Majesty's disposal, on which the justly irritated monarch promptly
had it cut off.
This was the first of many suitors for the princess whose inability
to cure her cost them their lives.
Now it happened that after things had been going on in this way for
some time the nurse's son Marzavan returned from his travels. He had
been in many countries and learnt many things, including astrology.
Needless to say that one of the first things his mother told him
was the sad condition of the princess, his foster-sister. Marzavan
asked if she could not manage to let him see the princess without
the king's knowledge.
After some consideration his mother consented, and even persuaded
the eunuch on guard to make no objection to Marzavan's entering
the royal apartment.
The princess was delighted to see her foster-brother again,
and after some conversation she confided to him all her history
and the cause of her imprisonment.
Marzavan listened with downcast eyes and the utmost attention.
When she had finished speaking he said,
"If what you tell me, Princess, is indeed the case, I do not despair
of finding comfort for you. Take patience yet a little longer.
I will set out at once to explore other countries, and when you hear
of my return be sure that he for whom you sigh is not far off."
So saying, he took his leave and started next morning on his travels.
Marzavan journeyed from city to city and from one island and province
to another, and wherever he went he heard people talk of the strange
story of the Princess Badoura, as the Princess of China was named.
After four months he reached a large populous seaport town named Torf,
and here he heard no more of the Princess Badoura but a great deal
of Prince Camaralzaman, who was reported ill, and whose story
sounded very similar to that of the Princess Badoura.
Marzavan was rejoiced, and set out at once for Prince
Camaralzaman's residence. The ship on which he embarked had
a prosperous voyage till she got within sight of the capital
of King Schahzaman, but when just about to enter the harbour she
suddenly struck on a rock, and foundered within sight of the
palace where the prince was living with his father and the grand-vizir.
Marzavan, who swam well, threw himself into the sea and managed
to land close to the palace, where he was kindly received,
and after having a change of clothing given him was brought before
the grand-vizir. The vizir was at once attracted by the young man's
superior air and intelligent conversation, and perceiving that he
had gained much experience in the course of his travels, he said,
"Ah, how I wish you had learnt some secret which might enable you
to cure a malady which has plunged this court into affliction
for some time past!"
Marzavan replied that if he knew what the illness was he might
possibly be able to suggest a remedy, on which the vizir related
to him the whole history of Prince Camaralzaman.
On hearing this Marzavan rejoiced inwardly, for he felt sure that he
had at last discovered the object of the Princess Badoura's infatuation.
However, he said nothing, but begged to be allowed to see the prince.
On entering the royal apartment the first thing which struck
him was the prince himself, who lay stretched out on his bed
with his eyes closed. The king sat near him, but, without paying
any regard to his presence, Marzavan exclaimed, "Heavens! what a
striking likeness!" And, indeed, there was a good deal of resemblance
between the features of Camaralzaman and those of the Princess of China.
These words caused the prince to open his eyes with languid curiosity,
and Marzavan seized this moment to pay him his compliments,
contriving at the same time to express the condition of the Princess
of China in terms unintelligible, indeed, to the Sultan and his vizir,
but which left the prince in no doubt that his visitor could give
him some welcome information.
The prince begged his father to allow him the favour of a private
interview with Marzavan, and the king was only too pleased to find
his son taking an interest in anyone or anything. As soon as they
were left alone Marzavan told the prince the story of the Princess
Badoura and her sufferings, adding, "I am convinced that you alone
can cure her; but before starting on so long a journey you must
be well and strong, so do your best to recover as quickly as may be."
These words produced a great effect on the prince, who was so much
cheered by the hopes held out that he declared he felt able
to get up and be dressed. The king was overjoyed at the result
of Marzavan's interview, and ordered public rejoicings in honour
of the prince's recovery.
Before long the prince was quite restored to his original state
of health, and as soon as he felt himself really strong he took
Marzavan aside and said:
"Now is the time to perform your promise. I am so impatient to see
my beloved princess once more that I am sure I shall fall ill
again if we do not start soon. The one obstacle is my father's
tender care of me, for, as you may have noticed, he cannot bear
me out of his sight."
"Prince," replied Marzavan, "I have already thought over the matter,
and this is what seems to me the best plan. You have not been
out of doors since my arrival. Ask the king's permission to go
with me for two or three days' hunting, and when he has given
leave order two good horses to be held ready for each of us.
Leave all the rest to me."
Next day the prince seized a favourable opportunity for making
his request, and the king gladly granted it on condition that
only one night should be spent out for fear of too great fatigue
after such a long illness.
Next morning Prince Camaralzaman and Marzavan were off betimes,
attended by two grooms leading the two extra horses. They hunted
a little by the way, but took care to get as far from the towns
as possible. At night-fall they reached an inn, where they supped
and slept till midnight. Then Marzavan awoke and roused the prince
without disturbing anyone else. He begged the prince to give him
the coat he had been wearing and to put on another which they had
brought with them. They mounted their second horses, and Marzavan
led one of the grooms' horses by the bridle.
By daybreak our travellers found themselves where four cross roads
met in the middle of the forest. Here Marzavan begged the prince
to wait for him, and leading the groom's horse into a dense part
of the wood he cut its throat, dipped the prince's coat in its blood,
and having rejoined the prince threw the coat on the ground where
the roads parted.
In answer to Camaralzaman's inquiries as to the reason for this,
Marzavan replied that the only chance they had of continuing their journey
was to divert attention by creating the idea of the prince's death.
"Your father will doubtless be plunged in the deepest grief,"
he went on, "but his joy at your return will be all the greater."
The prince and his companion now continued their journey by land
and sea, and as they had brought plenty of money to defray their
expenses they met with no needless delays. At length they reached
the capital of China, where they spent three days in a suitable
lodging to recover from their fatigues.
During this time Marzavan had an astrologer's dress
prepared for the prince. They then went to the baths,
after which the prince put on the astrologer's robe and was
conducted within sight of the king's palace by Marzavan,
who left him there and went to consult his mother, the princess's nurse.
Meantime the prince, according to Marzavan's instructions,
advanced close to the palace gates and there proclaimed aloud:
"I am an astrologer and I come to restore health to
the Princess Badoura, daughter of the high and mighty
King of China, on the conditions laid down by His
Majesty of marrying her should I succeed, or of losing my life if I fail."
It was some little time since anyone had presented himself to run
the terrible risk involved in attempting to cure the princess,
and a crowd soon gathered round the prince. On perceiving his youth,
good looks, and distinguished bearing, everyone felt pity for him.
"What are you thinking of, sir," exclaimed some; "why expose yourself
to certain death? Are not the heads you see exposed on the town
wall sufficient warning? For mercy's sake give up this mad idea
and retire whilst you can."
But the prince remained firm, and only repeated his cry with
greater assurance, to the horror of the crowd.
"He is resolved to die!" they cried; "may heaven have pity on him!"
Camaralzaman now called out for the third time, and at last
the grand-vizir himself came out and fetched him in.
The prime minister led the prince to the king, who was much struck
by the noble air of this new adventurer, and felt such pity for
the fate so evidently in store for him, that he tried to persuade
the young man to renounce his project.
But Camaralzaman politely yet firmly persisted in his intentions,
and at length the king desired the eunuch who had the guard of the
princess's apartments to conduct the astrologer to her presence.
The eunuch led the way through long passages, and Camaralzaman
followed rapidly, in haste to reach the object of his desires.
At last they came to a large hall which was the ante-room to the
princess's chamber, and here Camaralzaman said to the eunuch:
"Now you shall choose. Shall I cure the princess in her own presence,
or shall I do it from here without seeing her?"
The eunuch, who had expressed many contemptuous doubts as they came
along of the newcomer's powers, was much surprised and said:
"If you really can cure, it is immaterial when you do it.
Your fame will be equally great."
"Very well," replied the prince: "then, impatient though I am
to see the princess, I will effect the cure where I stand,
the better to convince you of my power." He accordingly drew
out his writing case and wrote as follows--"Adorable princess!
The enamoured Camaralzaman has never forgotten the moment when,
contemplating your sleeping beauty, he gave you his heart.
As he was at that time deprived of the happiness of conversing
with you, he ventured to give you his ring as a token of his love,
and to take yours in exchange, which he now encloses in this letter.
Should you deign to return it to him he will be the happiest
of mortals, if not he will cheerfully resign himself to death,
seeing he does so for love of you. He awaits your reply in your
Having finished this note the prince carefully enclosed the ring in it
without letting the eunuch see it, and gave him the letter, saying:
"Take this to your mistress, my friend, and if on reading it
and seeing its contents she is not instantly cured, you may call
me an impudent impostor."
The eunuch at once passed into the princess's room, and handing
her the letter said:
"Madam, a new astrologer has arrived, who declares that you will be
cured as soon as you have read this letter and seen what it contains."
The princess took the note and opened it with languid indifference.
But no sooner did she see her ring than, barely glancing at the writing,
she rose hastily and with one bound reached the doorway and pushed
back the hangings. Here she and the prince recognised each other,
and in a moment they were locked in each other's arms, where they
tenderly embraced, wondering how they came to meet at last after
so long a separation. The nurse, who had hastened after her charge,
drew them back to the inner room, where the princess restored her ring
"Take it back," she said, "I could not keep it without returning
yours to you, and I am resolved to wear that as long as I live."
Meantime the eunuch had hastened back to the king. "Sire," he cried,
"all the former doctors and astrologers were mere quacks.
This man has cured the princess without even seeing her."
He then told all to the king, who, overjoyed, hastened to his
daughter's apartments, where, after embracing her, he placed
her hand in that of the prince, saying:
"Happy stranger, I keep my promise, and give you my daughter to wife,
be you who you may. But, if I am not much mistaken, your condition
is above what you appear to be."
The prince thanked the king in the warmest and most respectful terms,
and added: "As regards my person, your Majesty has rightly guessed
that I am not an astrologer. It is but a disguise which I assumed
in order to merit your illustrious alliance. I am myself a prince,
my name is Camaralzaman, and my father is Schahzaman, King of the
Isles of the Children of Khaledan." He then told his whole history,
including the extraordinary manner of his first seeing and loving
the Princess Badoura.
When he had finished the king exclaimed: "So remarkable a story must
not be lost to posterity. It shall be inscribed in the archives
of my kingdom and published everywhere abroad."
The wedding took place next day amidst great pomp and rejoicings.
Marzavan was not forgotten, but was given a lucrative post at court,
with a promise of further advancement.
The prince and princess were now entirely happy, and months slipped
by unconsciously in the enjoyment of each other's society.
One night, however, Prince Camaralzaman dreamt that he saw his
father lying at the point of death, and saying: "Alas! my son whom
I loved so tenderly, has deserted me and is now causing my death."
The prince woke with such a groan as to startle the princess,
who asked what was the matter.
"Ah!" cried the prince, "at this very moment my father is perhaps
no more!" and he told his dream.
The princess said but little at the time, but next morning she went
to the king, and kissing his hand said:
"I have a favour to ask of your Majesty, and I beg you to believe
that it is in no way prompted by my husband. It is that you will
allow us both to visit my father-in-law King Schahzaman."
Sorry though the king felt at the idea of parting with his daughter,
he felt her request to be so reasonable that he could not refuse it,
and made but one condition, which was that she should only spend
one year at the court of King Schahzaman, suggesting that in future
the young couple should visit their respective parents alternately.
The princess brought this good news to her husband, who thanked
her tenderly for this fresh proof of her affection.
All preparations for the journey were now pressed forwards, and when
all was ready the king accompanied the travellers for some days,
after which he took an affectionate leave of his daughter, and charging
the prince to take every care of her, returned to his capital.
The prince and princess journeyed on, and at the end of a month
reached a huge meadow interspersed with clumps of big trees which cast
a most pleasant shade. As the heat was great, Camaralzaman thought it
well to encamp in this cool spot. Accordingly the tents were pitched,
and the princess entering hers whilst the prince was giving his
further orders, removed her girdle, which she placed beside her,
and desiring her women to leave her, lay down and was soon asleep.
When the camp was all in order the prince entered the tent and,
seeing the princess asleep, he sat down near her without speaking.
His eyes fell on the girdle which, he took up, and whilst inspecting
the precious stones set in it he noticed a little pouch sewn
to the girdle and fastened by a loop. He touched it and felt
something hard within. Curious as to what this might be, he opened
the pouch and found a cornelian engraved with various figures
and strange characters.
"This cornelian must be something very precious," thought he,
"or my wife would not wear it on her person with so much care."
In truth it was a talisman which the Queen of China had given
her daughter, telling her it would ensure her happiness as long
as she carried it about her.
The better to examine the stone the prince stepped to the open
doorway of the tent. As he stood there holding it in the open
palm of his hand, a bird suddenly swooped down, picked the stone
up in its beak and flew away with it.
Imagine the prince's dismay at losing a thing by which his wife
evidently set such store!
The bird having secured its prey flew off some yards and
alighted on the ground, holding the talisman it its beak.
Prince Camaralzaman advanced, hoping the bird would drop it, but as
soon as he approached the thief fluttered on a little further still.
He continued his pursuit till the bird suddenly swallowed the stone
and took a longer flight than before. The prince then hoped to kill
it with a stone, but the more hotly he pursued the further flew the bird.
In this fashion he was led on by hill and dale through the entire day,
and when night came the tiresome creature roosted on the top
of a very high tree where it could rest in safety.
The prince in despair at all his useless trouble began to think
whether he had better return to the camp. "But," thought he,
"how shall I find my way back? Must I go up hill or down?
I should certainly lose my way in the dark, even if my strength
held out." Overwhelmed by hunger, thirst, fatigue and sleep,
he ended by spending the night at the foot of the tree.
Next morning Camaralzaman woke up before the bird left its perch,
and no sooner did it take flight than he followed it again
with as little success as the previous day, only stopping to eat
some herbs and fruit he found by the way. In this fashion he
spent ten days, following the bird all day and spending the night
at the foot of a tree, whilst it roosted on the topmost bough.
On the eleventh day the bird and the prince reached a large town,
and as soon as they were close to its walls the bird took a sudden
and higher flight and was shortly completely out of sight,
whilst Camaralzaman felt in despair at having to give up all hopes
of ever recovering the talisman of the Princess Badoura.
Much cast down, he entered the town, which was built near the sea
and had a fine harbour. He walked about the streets for a long time,
not knowing where to go, but at length as he walked near the seashore
he found a garden door open and walked in.
The gardener, a good old man, who was at work, happened to look up,
and, seeing a stranger, whom he recognised by his dress as a Mussulman,
he told him to come in at once and to shut the door.
Camaralzaman did as he was bid, and inquired why this precaution
"Because," said the gardener, "I see that you are a stranger and
a Mussulman, and this town is almost entirely inhabited by idolaters,
who hate and persecute all of our faith. It seems almost a miracle
that has led you to this house, and I am indeed glad that you
have found a place of safety."
Camaralzaman warmly thanked the kind old man for offering him shelter,
and was about to say more, but the gardener interrupted him with:
"Leave compliments alone. You are weary and must be hungry.
Come in, eat, and rest." So saying he led the prince into his cottage,
and after satisfying his hunger begged to learn the cause of
Camaralzaman told him all without disguise, and ended by inquiring
the shortest way to his father's capital. "For," added he,
"if I tried to rejoin the princess, how should I find her after
eleven days' separation. Perhaps, indeed, she may be no longer alive!"
At this terrible thought he burst into tears.
The gardener informed Camaralzaman that they were quite a year's land
journey to any Mahomedan country, but that there was a much shorter
route by sea to the Ebony Island, from whence the Isles of the Children
of Khaledan could be easily reached, and that a ship sailed once
a year for the Ebony Island by which he might get so far as his very home.
"If only you had arrived a few days sooner," he said, "you might
have embarked at once. As it is you must now wait till next year,
but if you care to stay with me I offer you my house, such as it is,
with all my heart."
Prince Camaralzaman thought himself lucky to find some place of refuge,
and gladly accepted the gardener's offer. He spent his days working in
the garden, and his nights thinking of and sighing for his beloved wife.
Let us now see what had become during this time of the Princess Badoura.
On first waking she was much surprised not to find the prince
near her. She called her women and asked if they knew where he was,
and whilst they were telling her that they had seen him enter
the tent, but had not noticed his leaving it, she took up her belt
and perceived that the little pouch was open and the talisman gone.
She at once concluded that her husband had taken it and would shortly
bring it back. She waited for him till evening rather impatiently,
and wondering what could have kept him from her so long. When night
came without him she felt in despair and abused the talisman
and its maker roundly. In spite of her grief and anxiety however,
she did not lose her presence of mind, but decided on a courageous,
though very unusual step.
Only the princess and her women knew of Camaralzaman's disappearance,
for the rest of the party were sleeping or resting in their tents.
Fearing some treason should the truth be known, she ordered her
women not to say a word which would give rise to any suspicion,
and proceeded to change her dress for one of her husband's, to whom,
as has been already said, she bore a strong likeness.
In this disguise she looked so like the prince that when she gave
orders next morning to break up the camp and continue the journey no
one suspected the change. She made one of her women enter her litter,
whilst she herself mounted on horseback and the march began.
After a protracted journey by land and sea the princess, still under
the name and disguise of Prince Camaralzaman, arrived at the capital
of the Ebony Island whose king was named Armanos.
No sooner did the king hear that the ship which was just in port
had on board the son of his old friend and ally than he hurried
to meet the supposed prince, and had him and his retinue brought
to the palace, where they were lodged and entertained sumptuously.
After three days, finding that his guest, to whom he had taken
a great fancy, talked of continuing his journey, King Armanos said
"Prince, I am now an old man, and unfortunately 1 have no son
to whom to leave my kingdom. It has pleased Heaven to give me
only one daughter, who possesses such great beauty and charm
that I could only give her to a prince as highly born and as
accomplished as yourself. Instead, therefore, of returning to your
own country, take my daughter and my crown and stay with us.
I shall feel that I have a worthy successor, and shall cheerfully
retire from the fatigues of government."
The king's offer was naturally rather embarrassing to the Princess
Badoura. She felt that it was equally impossible to confess that she
had deceived him, or to refuse the marriage on which he had set his heart;
a refusal which might turn all his kindness to hatred and persecution.
All things considered, she decided to accept, and after a few moments
silence said with a blush, which the king attributed to modesty:
"Sire, I feel so great an obligation for the good opinion
your Majesty has expressed for my person and of the honour
you do me, that, though I am quite unworthy of it,
I dare not refuse. But, sire, I can only accept such
an alliance if you give me your promise to assist me with your counsels."
The marriage being thus arranged, the ceremony was fixed for the
following day, and the princess employed the intervening time in
informing the officers of her suite of what had happened, assuring them
that the Princess Badoura had given her full consent to the marriage.
She also told her women, and bade them keep her secret well.
King Armanos, delighted with the success of his plans, lost no
time in assembling his court and council, to whom he presented
his successor, and placing his future son-in-law on the throne
made everyone do homage and take oaths of allegiance to the new king.
At night the whole town was filled with rejoicings, and with much pomp
the Princess Haiatelnefous (this was the name of the king's daughter)
was conducted to the palace of the Princess Badoura.
Now Badoura had thought much of the difficulties of her first
interview with King Armanos' daughter, and she felt the only thing
to do was at once to take her into her confidence.
Accordingly, as soon as they were alone she took Haiatelnefous
by the hand and said:
"Princess, I have a secret to tell you, and must throw myself
on your mercy. I am not Prince Camaralzaman, but a princess
like yourself and his wife, and I beg you to listen to my story,
then I am sure you will forgive my imposture, in consideration
of my sufferings."
She then related her whole history, and at its close Haiatelnefous
embraced her warmly, and assured her of her entire sympathy
The two princesses now planned out their future action, and agreed
to combine to keep up the deception and to let Badoura continue
to play a man's part until such time as there might be news
of the real Camaralzaman.
Whilst these things were passing in the Ebony Island Prince
Camaralzaman continued to find shelter in the gardeners cottage
in the town of the idolaters.
Early one morning the gardener said to the prince:
"To-day is a public holiday, and the people of the town not only
do not work themselves but forbid others to do so. You had better
therefore take a good rest whilst I go to see some friends, and as
the time is near for the arrival of the ship of which I told you I
will make inquiries about it, and try to bespeak a passage for you."
He then put on his best clothes and went out, leaving the prince,
who strolled into the garden and was soon lost in thoughts of his
dear wife and their sad separation.
As he walked up and down he was suddenly disturbed in his reverie
by the noise two large birds were making in a tree.
Camaralzaman stood still and looked up, and saw that the birds were
fighting so savagely with beaks and claws that before long one fell dead
to the ground, whilst the conqueror spread his wings and flew away.
Almost immediately two other larger birds, who had been watching the duel,
flew up and alighted, one at the head and the other at the feet of
the dead bird. They stood there some time sadly shaking their heads,
and then dug up a grave with their claws in which they buried him.
As soon as they had filled in the grave the two flew off, and ere
long returned, bringing with them the murderer, whom they held,
one by a wing and the other by a leg, with their beaks, screaming and
struggling with rage and terror. But they held tight, and having
brought him to his victim's grave, they proceeded to kill him,
after which they tore open his body, scattered the inside and once
more flew away.
The prince, who had watched the whole scene with much interest,
now drew near the spot where it happened, and glancing at the dead
bird he noticed something red lying near which had evidently fallen
out of its inside. He picked it up, and what was his surprise when he
recognised the Princess Badoura's talisman which had been the cause
of many misfortunes. It would be impossible to describe his joy;
he kissed the talisman repeatedly, wrapped it up, and carefully
tied it round his arm. For the first time since his separation
from the princess he had a good night, and next morning he was up
at day-break and went cheerfully to ask what work he should do.
The gardener told him to cut down an old fruit tree which had quite
died away, and Camaralzaman took an axe and fell to vigorously.
As he was hacking at one of the roots the axe struck on something hard.
On pushing away the earth he discovered a large slab of bronze,
under which was disclosed a staircase with ten steps.
He went down them and found himself in a roomy kind of cave
in which stood fifty large bronze jars, each with a cover on it.
The prince uncovered one after another, and found them all filled
with gold dust. Delighted with his discovery he left the cave,
replaced the slab, and having finished cutting down the tree waited
for the gardener's return.
The gardener had heard the night before that the ship about which he
was inquiring would start ere long, but the exact date not being yet
known he had been told to return next day for further information.
He had gone therefore to inquire, and came back with good news
beaming in his face.
"My son," said he, "rejoice and hold yourself ready to start
in three days' time. The ship is to set sail, and I have arranged
all about your passage with the captain
"You could not bring me better news," replied Camaralzaman,
"and in return I have something pleasant to tell you. Follow me
and see the good fortune which has befallen you."
He then led the gardener to the cave, and having shown him the
treasure stored up there, said how happy it made him that Heaven
should in this way reward his kind host's many virtues and compensate
him for the privations of many years.
"What do you mean?" asked the gardener. "Do you imagine that I should
appropriate this treasure? It is yours, and I have no right whatever
to it. For the last eighty years I have dug up the ground here without
discovering anything. It is clear that these riches are intended
for you, and they are much more needed by a prince like yourself
than by an old man like me, who am near my end and require nothing.
This treasure comes just at the right time, when you are about
to return to your own country, where you will make good use of it."
But the prince would not hear of this suggestion, and finally
after much discussion they agreed to divide the gold. When this
was done the gardener said:
"My son, the great thing now is to arrange how you can best carry
off this treasure as secretly as possible for fear of losing it.
There are no olives in the Ebony Island, and those imported from
here fetch a high price. As you know, I have a good stock of the
olives which grew in this garden. Now you must take fifty jars,
fill each half full of gold dust and fill them up with the olives.
We will then have them taken on board ship when you embark."
The prince took this advice, and spent the rest of the day filling
the fifty jars, and fearing lest the precious talisman might slip
from his arm and be lost again, he took the precaution of putting
it in one of the jars, on which he made a mark so as to be able
to recognise it. When night came the jars were all ready,
and the prince and his host went to bed.
Whether in consequence of his great age, or of the fatigues and excitement
of the previous day, I do not know, but the gardener passed a very
bad night. He was worse next day, and by the morning of the third day was
dangerously ill. At daybreak the ship's captain and some of his sailors
knocked at the garden door and asked for the passenger who was to embark.
"I am he," said Camaralzaman, who had opened the door.
"The gardener who took my passage is ill and cannot see you,
but please come in and take these jars of olives and my bag,
and I will follow as soon as I have taken leave of him."
The sailors did as he asked, and the captain before leaving charged
Camaralzaman to lose no time, as the wind was fair, and he wished
to set sail at once.
As soon as they were gone the prince returned to the cottage
to bid farewell to his old friend, and to thank him once more
for all his kindness. But the old man was at his last gasp,
and had barely murmured his confession of faith when he expired.
Camaralzaman was obliged to stay and pay him the last offices,
so having dug a grave in the garden he wrapped the kind old man up
and buried him. He then locked the door, gave up the key to the owner
of the garden, and hurried to the quay only to hear that the ship
had sailed long ago, after waiting three hours for him.
It may well be believed that the prince felt in despair at this
fresh misfortune, which obliged him to spend another year in a strange
and distasteful country. Moreover, he had once more lost the Princess
Badoura's talisman, which he feared he might never see again.
There was nothing left for him but to hire the garden as the old man
had done, and to live on in the cottage. As he could not well cultivate
the garden by himself, he engaged a lad to help him, and to secure
the rest of the treasure he put the remaining gold dust into fifty more
jars, filling them up with olives so as to have them ready for transport.
Whilst the prince was settling down to this second year of toil
and privation, the ship made a rapid voyage and arrived safely
at the Ebony Island.
As the palace of the new king, or rather of the Princess Badoura,
overlooked the harbour, she saw the ship entering it and asked what
vessel it was coming in so gaily decked with flags, and was told
that it was a ship from the Island of the Idolaters which yearly
brought rich merchandise.
The princess, ever on the look out for any chance of news of her
beloved husband, went down to the harbour attended by some officers
of the court, and arrived just as the captain was landing. She sent for
him and asked many questions as to his country, voyage, what passengers
he had, and what his vessel was laden with. The captain answered all
her questions, and said that his passengers consisted entirely of traders
who brought rich stuffs from various countries, fine muslins, precious
stones, musk, amber, spices, drugs, olives, and many other things.
As soon as he mentioned olives, the princess, who was very partial
to them, exclaimed:
"I will take all you have on board. Have them unloaded and we
will make our bargain at once, and tell the other merchants to let
me see all their best wares before showing them to other people."
"Sire," replied the captain, "I have on board fifty very large
pots of olives. They belong to a merchant who was left behind,
as in spite of waiting for him he delayed so long that I was obliged
to set sail without him."
"Never mind," said the princess, "unload them all the same, and we
will arrange the price."
The captain accordingly sent his boat off to the ship and it soon
returned laden with the fifty pots of olives. The princess asked
what they might be worth.
"Sire," replied the captain, "the merchant is very poor. Your Majesty
will not overpay him if you give him a thousand pieces of silver."
"In order to satisfy him and as he is so poor," said the princess,
"I will order a thousand pieces of gold to be given you, which you
will be sure to remit to him."
So saying she gave orders for the payment and returned to the palace,
having the jars carried before her. When evening came the Princess
Badoura retired to the inner part of the palace, and going to the
apartments of the Princess Haiatelnefous she had the fifty jars
of olives brought to her. She opened one to let her friend taste
the olives and to taste them herself, but great was her surprise when,
on pouring some into a dish, she found them all powdered with
gold dust. "What an adventure! how extraordinary!" she cried.
Then she had the other jars opened, and was more and more surprised
to find the olives in each jar mixed with gold dust.
But when at length her talisman was discovered in one of the jars
her emotion was so great that she fainted away. The Princess
Haiatelnefous and her women hastened to restore her, and as soon
as she recovered consciousness she covered the precious talisman
Then, dismissing the attendants, she said to her friend:
"You will have guessed, my dear, that it was the sight of this
talisman which has moved me so deeply. This was the cause
of my separation from my dear husband, and now, I am convinced,
it will be the means of our reunion."
As soon as it was light next day the Princess Badoura sent
for the captain, and made further inquiries about the merchant
who owned the olive jars she had bought.
In reply the captain told her all he knew of the place where the
young man lived, and how, after engaging his passage, he came
to be left behind.
"If that is the case," said the princess, "you must set sail
at once and go back for him. He is a debtor of mine and must be
brought here at once, or I will confiscate all your merchandise.
I shall now give orders to have all the warehouses where your cargo
is placed under the royal seal, and they will only be opened when you
have brought me the man I ask for. Go at once and obey my orders."
The captain had no choice but to do as he was bid, so hastily
provisioning his ship he started that same evening on his return voyage.
When, after a rapid passage, he gained sight of the Island of Idolaters,
he judged it better not to enter the harbour, but casting anchor
at some distance he embarked at night in a small boat with six
active sailors and landed near Camaralzaman's cottage.
The prince was not asleep, and as he lay awake moaning over
all the sad events which had separated him from his wife,
he thought he heard a knock at the garden door. He went to
open it, and was immediately seized by the captain and sailors,
who without a word of explanation forcibly bore him off to
the boat, which took them back to the ship without loss of time.
No sooner were they on board than they weighed anchor and set sail.
Camaralzaman, who had kept silence till then, now asked the captain
(whom he had recognised) the reason for this abduction.
"Are you not a debtor of the King of the Ebony Island?" asked the captain.
"I? Why, I never even heard of him before, and never set foot
in his kingdom!" was the answer.
"Well, you must know better than I," said the captain. "You will soon
see him now, and meantime be content where you are and have patience."
The return voyage was as prosperous as the former one, and though
it was night when the ship entered the harbour, the captain lost no
time in landing with his passenger, whom he conducted to the palace,
where he begged an audience with the king.
Directly the Princess Badoura saw the prince she recognised him in
spite of his shabby clothes. She longed to throw herself on his neck,
but restrained herself, feeling it was better for them both that
she should play her part a little longer. She therefore desired
one of her officers to take care of him and to treat him well.
Next she ordered another officer to remove the seals from the warehouse,
whilst she presented the captain with a costly diamond, and told
him to keep the thousand pieces of gold paid for the olives,
as she would arrange matters with the merchant himself.
She then returned to her private apartments, where she told the
Princess Haiatelnefous all that had happened, as well as her plans for
the future, and begged her assistance, which her friend readily promised.
Next morning she ordered the prince to be taken to the bath and
clothed in a manner suitable to an emir or governor of a province.
He was then introduced to the council, where his good looks and grand
air drew the attention of all on him.
Princess Badoura, delighted to see him looking himself once more,
turned to the other emirs, saying:
"My lords, I introduce to you a new colleague, Camaralzaman, whom I
have known on my travels and who, I can assure you, you will find
well deserves your regard and admiration."
Camaralzaman was much surprised at hearing the king--whom he never
suspected of being a woman in disguise--asserting their acquaintance,
for he felt sure he had never seen her before. However he
received all the praises bestowed on him with becoming modesty,
and prostrating himself, said:
"Sire, I cannot find words in which to thank your Majesty
for the great honour conferred on me. I can but assure
you that I will do all in my power to prove myself worthy of it."
On leaving the council the prince was conducted to a splendid house
which had been prepared for him, where he found a full establishment
and well-filled stables at his orders. On entering his study his
steward presented him with a coffer filled with gold pieces for his
current expenses. He felt more and more puzzled by such good fortune,
and little guessed that the Princess of China was the cause of it.
After a few days the Princess Badoura promoted Camaralzaman to the
post of grand treasurer, an office which he filled with so much
integrity and benevolence as to win universal esteem.
He would now have thought himself the happiest of men had it not
been for that separation which he never ceased to bewail. He had
no clue to the mystery of his present position, for the princess,
out of compliment to the old king, had taken his name, and was
generally known as King Armanos the younger, few people remembering
that on her first arrival she went by another name.
At length the princess felt that the time had come to put an end
to her own and the prince's suspense, and having arranged all her
plans with the Princess Haiatelnefous, she informed Camaralzaman
that she wished his advice on some important business, and, to avoid
being disturbed, desired him to come to the palace that evening.
The prince was punctual, and was received in the private apartment,
when, having ordered her attendants to withdraw, the princess took
from a small box the talisman, and, handing it to Camaralzaman,
said: "Not long ago an astrologer gave me this talisman. As you
are universally well informed, you can perhaps tell me what is its use."
Camaralzaman took the talisman and, holding it to the light,
cried with surprise, "Sire, you ask me the use of this talisman.
Alas! hitherto it has been only a source of misfortune to me,
being the cause of my separation from the one I love best on earth.
The story is so sad and strange that I am sure your Majesty will be
touched by it if you will permit me to tell it you."
"I will hear it some other time," replied the princess.
"Meanwhile I fancy it is not quite unknown to me. Wait here for me.
I will return shortly."
So saying she retired to another room, where she hastily changed
her masculine attire for that of a woman, and, after putting on
the girdle she wore the day they parted, returned to Camaralzaman.
The prince recognised her at once, and, embracing her with the
utmost tenderness, cried, "Ah, how can I thank the king for this
"Do not expect ever to see the king again," said the princess,
as she wiped the tears of joy from her eyes, "in me you see the king.
Let us sit down, and I will tell you all about it."
She then gave a full account of all her adventures since their parting,
and dwelt much on the charms and noble disposition of the
Princess Haiatelnefous, to whose friendly assistance she owed
so much. When she had done she asked to hear the prince's story,
and in this manner they spent most of the night.
Next morning the princess resumed her woman's clothes, and as soon
as she was ready she desired the chief eunuch to beg King Armanos
to come to her apartments.
When the king arrived great was his surprise at finding a strange
lady in company of the grand treasurer who had no actual right to
enter the private apartment. Seating himself he asked for the king.
"Sire," said the princess, "yesterday I was the king, to-day I am
only the Princess of China and wife to the real Prince Camaralzaman,
son of King Schahzaman, and I trust that when your Majesty shall
have heard our story you will not condemn the innocent deception I
have been obliged to practise."
The king consented to listen, and did so with marked surprise.
At the close of her narrative the princess said, "Sire, as our religion
allows a man to have more than one wife, I would beg your Majesty
to give your daughter, the Princess Haiatelnefous, in marriage
to Prince Camaralzaman. I gladly yield to her the precedence and
title of Queen in recognition of the debt of gratitude which I owe her."
King Armanos heard the princess with surprise and admiration,
then, turning to Camaralzaman, he said, "My son, as your wife,
the Princess Badoura (whom I have hitherto looked on as my son-in-law),
consents to share your hand and affections with my daughter,
I have only to ask if this marriage is agreeable to you, and if you
will consent to accept the crown which the Princess Badoura deserves
to wear all her life, but which she prefers to resign for love of you."
"Sire," replied Camaralzaman, "I can refuse your Majesty nothing."
Accordingly Camaralzaman was duly proclaimed king, and as duly
married with all pomp to the Princess Haiatelnefous, with whose
beauty, talents, and affections he had every reason to be pleased.
The two queens lived in true sisterly harmony together, and after
a time each presented King Camaralzaman with a son, whose births
were celebrated throughout the kingdom with the utmost rejoicing.
Noureddin and the Fair Persian
Balsora was the capital of a kingdom long tributary to the caliph.
During the time of the Caliph Haroun-al-Raschid the king of Balsora,
who was his cousin, was called Zinebi. Not thinking one vizir enough
for the administration of his estates he had two, named Khacan
Khacan was kind, generous, and liberal, and took pleasure
in obliging, as far as in him lay, those who had business with him.
Throughout the entire kingdom there was no one who did not esteem
and praise him as he deserved.
Saouy was quite a different character, and repelled everyone with
whom he came in contact; he was always gloomy, and, in spite of his
great riches, so miserly that he denied himself even the necessaries
of life. What made him particularly detested was the great aversion
he had to Khacan, of whom he never ceased to speak evil to the king.
One day, while the king amused himself talking with his two
vizirs and other members of the council, the conversation turned
on female slaves. While some declared that it sufficed for a
slave to be beautiful, others, and Khacan was among the number,
maintained that beauty alone was not enough, but that it must
be accompanied by wit, wisdom, modesty, and, if possible, knowledge.
The king not only declared himself to be of this opinion, but charged
Khacan to procure him a slave who should fulfil all these conditions.
Saouy, who had been of the opposite side, and was jealous of the
honour done to Khacan, said, "Sire, it will be very difficult to find
a slave as accomplished as your Majesty desires, and, if she is
to be found, she will be cheap if she cost less than 10,000 gold pieces."
"Saouy," answered the king, "you seem to find that a very great sum.
For you it may be so, but not for me."
And forthwith he ordered his grand treasurer, who was present,
to send 10,000 gold pieces to Khacan for the purchase of the slave.
As soon, then, as Khacan returned home he sent for the dealers in
female slaves, and charged them directly they had found such a one
as he described to inform him. They promised to do their utmost,
and no day passed that they did not bring a slave for his inspection
but none was found without some defect.
At length, early one morning, while Khacan was on his way to the
king's palace, a dealer, throwing himself in his way, announced eagerly
that a Persian merchant, arrived late the previous evening, had a
slave to sell whose wit and wisdom were equal to her incomparable beauty.
Khacan, overjoyed at this news, gave orders that the slave should
be brought for his inspection on his return from the palace.
The dealer appearing at the appointed hour, Khacan found the slave
beautiful beyond his expectations, and immediately gave her the name
of "The Fair Persian."
Being a man of great wisdom and learning, he perceived in the short
conversation he had with her that he would seek in vain another
slave to surpass her in any of the qualities required by the king,
and therefore asked the dealer what price the merchant put upon her.
"Sir," was the answer, "for less than 10,000 gold pieces he will not
let her go; he declares that, what with masters for her instruction,
and for bodily exercises, not to speak of clothing and nourishment,
he has already spent that sum upon her. She is in every way fit to be
the slave of a king; she plays every musical instrument, she sings,
she dances, she makes verses, in fact there is no accomplishment
in which she does not excel."
Khacan, who was better able to judge of her merits than the dealer,
wishing to bring the matter to a conclusion, sent for the merchant,
and said to him, "It is not for myself that I wish to buy your slave,
but for the king. Her price, however, is too high."
"Sir," replied the merchant, "I should esteem it an honour to present
her to his Majesty, did it become a merchant to do such a thing.
I ask no more than the sum it has cost me to make her such as she is."
Khacan, not wishing to bargain, immediately had the sum counted out,
and given to the merchant, who before withdrawing said:
"Sir, as she is destined for the king, I would have you observe
that she is extremely tired with the long journey, and before
presenting her to his Majesty you would do well to keep her
a fortnight in your own house, and to see that a little care is
bestowed upon her. The sun has tanned her complexion, but when she
has been two or three times to the bath, and is fittingly dressed,
you will see how much her beauty will be increased."
Khacan thanked the merchant for his advice, and determined to follow it.
He gave the beautiful Persian an apartment near to that of his wife,
whom he charged to treat her as befitting a lady destined for the king,
and to order for her the most magnificent garments.
Before bidding adieu to the fair Persian, he said to her:
"No happiness can be greater than what I have procured for you;
judge for yourself, you now belong to the king. I have, however, to warn
you of one thing. I have a son, who, though not wanting in sense,
is young, foolish, and headstrong, and I charge you to keep him
at a distance."
The Persian thanked him for his advice, and promised to profit
Noureddin--for so the vizir's son was named--went freely in and out
of his mother's apartments. He was young, well-made and agreeable,
and had the gift of charming all with whom he came in contact.
As soon as he saw the beautiful Persian, though aware that she was
destined for the king, he let himself be carried away by her charms,
and determined at once to use every means in his power to retain
her for himself. The Persian was equally captivated by Noureddin,
and said to herself: "The vizir does me too great honour in buying me
for the king. I should esteem myself very happy if he would give me
to his son."
Noureddin availed himself of every opportunity to gaze upon her beauty,
to talk and laugh with her, and never would have left her side
if his mother had not forced him.
Some time having elapsed, on account of the long journey, since the
beautiful Persian had been to the bath, five or six days after her
purchase the vizir's wife gave orders that the bath should be heated
for her, and that her own female slaves should attend her there,
and after-wards should array her in a magnificent dress that had
been prepared for her.
Her toilet completed, the beautiful Persian came to present herself
to the vizir's wife, who hardly recognised her, so greatly was her
beauty increased. Kissing her hand, the beautiful slave said:
"Madam, I do not know how you find me in this dress that you
have had prepared for me; your women assure me that it suits me
so well that they hardly knew me. If it is the truth they tell me,
and not flattery, it is to you I owe the transformation."
"My daughter," answered the vizir's wife, "they do not flatter you.
I myself hardly recognised you. The improvement is not due to the
dress alone, but largely to the beautifying effects of the bath.
I am so struck by its results, that I would try it on myself."
Acting forthwith on this decision she ordered two little slaves
during her absence to watch over the beautiful Persian, and not
to allow Noureddin to enter should he come.
She had no sooner gone than he arrived, and not finding his mother
in her apartment, would have sought her in that of the Persian.
The two little slaves barred the entrance, saying that his mother had
given orders that he was not to be admitted. Taking each by an arm,
he put them out of the anteroom, and shut the door. Then they
rushed to the bath, informing their mistress with shrieks and tears
that Noureddin had driven them away by force and gone in.
This news caused great consternation to the lady, who, dressing
herself as quickly as possible, hastened to the apartment of
the fair Persian, to find that Noureddin had already gone out.
Much astonished to see the vizir's wife enter in tears,
the Persian asked what misfortune had happened.
"What!" exclaimed the lady, "you ask me that, knowing that my son
Noureddin has been alone with you?"
"But, madam," inquired the Persian, "what harm is there in that?"
"How! Has my husband not told you that you are destined for the king?"
"Certainly, but Noureddin has just been to tell me that his father
has changed his mind and has bestowed me upon him. I believed him,
and so great is my affection for Noureddin that I would willingly
pass my life with him."
"Would to heaven," exclaimed the wife of the vizir, "that what you
say were true; but Noureddin has deceived you, and his father
will sacrifice him in vengeance for the wrong he has done."
So saying, she wept bitterly, and all her slaves wept with her.
Khacan, entering shortly after this, was much astonished to find his wife
and her slaves in tears, and the beautiful Persian greatly perturbed.
He inquired the cause, but for some time no answer was forthcoming.
When his wife was at length sufficiently calm to inform him
of what had happened, his rage and mortification knew no bounds.
Wringing his hands and rending his beard, he exclaimed:
"Wretched son! thou destroyest not only thyself but thy father.
The king will shed not only thy blood but mine." His wife tried
to console him, saying: "Do not torment thyself. With the sale
of my jewels I will obtain 10,000 gold pieces, and with this sum you
will buy another slave."
"Do not suppose," replied her husband, "that it is the loss of the money
that affects me. My honour is at stake, and that is more precious
to me than all my wealth. You know that Saouy is my mortal enemy.
He will relate all this to the king, and you will see the consequences
that will ensue."
"My lord," said his wife, "I am quite aware of Saouy's baseness,
and that he is capable of playing you this malicious trick.
But how can he or any one else know what takes place in this house?
Even if you are suspected and the king accuses you, you have only
to say that, after examining the slave, you did not find her worthy
of his Majesty. Reassure yourself, and send to the dealers,
saying that you are not satisfied, and wish them to find you
This advice appearing reasonable, Khacan decided to follow it,
but his wrath against his son did not abate. Noureddin dared
not appear all that day, and fearing to take refuge with his
usual associates in case his father should seek him there,
he spent the day in a secluded garden where he was not known.
He did not return home till after his father had gone to bed,
and went out early next morning before the vizir awoke, and these
precautions he kept up during an entire month.
His mother, though knowing very well that he returned to the house
every evening, dare not ask her husband to pardon him. At length
she took courage and said:
"My lord, I know that a son could not act more basely towards
his father than Noureddin has done towards you, but after
all will you now pardon him? Do you not consider the harm
you may be doing yourself, and fear that malicious people,
seeking the cause of your estrangement, may guess the real one?"
"Madam," replied the vizir, "what you say is very just, but I cannot
pardon Noureddin before I have mortified him as he deserves."
"He will be sufficiently punished," answered the lady, "if you do
as I suggest. In the evening, when he returns home, lie in wait
for him and pretend that you will slay him. I will come to his aid,
and while pointing out that you only yield his life at my supplications,
you can force him to take the beautiful Persian on any conditions
you please." Khacan agreed to follow this plan, and everything
took place as arranged. On Noureddin's return Khacan pretended
to be about to slay him, but yielding to his wife's intercession,
said to his son:
"You owe your life to your mother. I pardon you on her intercession,
and on the conditions that you take the beautiful Persian for your wife,
and not your slave, that you never sell her, nor put her away."
Noureddin, not hoping for so great indulgence, thanked his father,
and vowed to do as he desired. Khacan was at great pains frequently
to speak to the king of the difficulties attending the commission he
had given him, but some whispers of what had actually taken place
did reach Saouy's ears.
More than a year after these events the minister took a chill,
leaving the bath while still heated to go out on important business.
This resulted in inflammation of the lungs, which rapidly increased.
The vizir, feeling that his end was at hand, sent for Noureddin,
and charged him with his dying breath never to part with the
Shortly afterwards he expired, leaving universal regret throughout
the kingdom; rich and poor alike followed him to the grave.
Noureddin showed every mark of the deepest grief at his father's death,
and for long refused to see any one. At length a day came when,
one of his friends being admitted, urged him strongly to be consoled,
and to resume his former place in society. This advice Noureddin
was not slow to follow, and soon he formed little society of ten
young men all about his own age, with whom he spent all his time in
continual feasting and merry-making.
Sometimes the fair Persian consented to appear at these festivities,
but she disapproved of this lavish expenditure, and did not scruple
to warn Noureddin of the probable consequences. He, however, only
laughed at her advice, saying, that his father had always kept him in
too great constraint, and that now he rejoiced at his new-found liberty.
What added to the confusion in his affairs was that he refused
to look into his accounts with his steward, sending him away every
time he appeared with his book.
"See only that I live well," he said, "and do not disturb me about
Not only did Noureddin's friends constantly partake of his hospitality,
but in every way they took advantage of his generosity; everything of
his that they admired, whether land, houses, baths, or any
other source of his revenue, he immediately bestowed on them.
In vain the Persian protested against the wrong he did himself;
he continued to scatter with the same lavish hand.
Throughout one entire year Noureddin did nothing but amuse himself,
and dissipate the wealth his father had taken such pains to acquire.
The year had barely elapsed, when one day, as they sat at table,
there came a knock at the door. The slaves having been sent away,
Noureddin went to open it himself. One of his friends had risen at
the same time, but Noureddin was before him, and finding the intruder
to be the steward, he went out and closed the door. The friend,
curious to hear what passed between them, hid himself behind the hangings,
and heard the following words:
"My lord," said the steward, "I beg a thousand pardons for
interrupting you, but what I have long foreseen has taken place.
Nothing remains of the sums you gave me for your expenses, and all
other sources of income are also at end, having been transferred
by you to others. If you wish me to remain in your service,
furnish me with the necessary funds, else I must withdraw."
So great was Noureddin's consternation that he had not a word
to say in reply.
The friend, who had been listening behind the curtain, immediately
hastened to communicate the news to the rest of the company.
"If this is so," they said, "we must cease to come here."
Noureddin re-entering at that moment, they plainly saw, in spite
of his efforts to dissemble, that what they had heard was the truth.
One by one they rose, and each with a different excuse left the room,
till presently he found himself alone, though little suspecting the
resolution his friends had taken. Then, seeing the beautiful Persian,
he confided to her the statement of the steward, with many expressions
of regret for his own carelessness.
"Had I but followed your advice, beautiful Persian," he said,
"all this would not have happened, but at least I have this consolation,
that I have spent my fortune in the company of friends who will
not desert me in an hour of need. To-morrow I will go to them,
and amongst them they will lend me a sum sufficient to start
in some business."
Accordingly next morning early Noureddin went to seek his ten friends,
who all lived in the same street. Knocking at the door of the first
and chief, the slave who opened it left him to wait in a hall while
he announced his visit to his master. "Noureddin!" he heard him
exclaim quite audibly. "Tell him, every time he calls, that I am
not at home." The same thing happened at the second door, and also at
the third, and so on with all the ten. Noureddin, much mortified,
recognised too late that he had confided in false friends,
who abandoned him in his hour of need. Overwhelmed with grief,
he sought consolation from the beautiful Persian.
"Alas, my lord," she said, "at last you are convinced of the truth
of what I foretold. There is now no other resource left but to sell
your slaves and your furniture."
First then he sold the slaves, and subsisted for a time on the proceeds,
after that the furniture was sold, and as much of it was valuable it
sufficed for some time. Finally this resource also came to an end,
and again he sought counsel from the beautiful Persian.
"My lord," she said, "I know that the late vizir, your father,
bought me for 10,000 gold pieces, and though I have diminished
in value since, I should still fetch a large sum. Do not therefore
hesitate to sell me, and with the money you obtain go and establish
yourself in business in some distant town."
"Charming Persian," answered Noureddin, "how could I be guilty
of such baseness? I would die rather than part from you whom
I love better than my life."
"My lord," she replied, "I am well aware of your love for me,
which is only equalled by mine for you, but a cruel necessity
obliges us to seek the only remedy."
Noureddin, convinced at length of the truth of her words, yielded,
and reluctantly led her to the slave market, where, showing her
to a dealer named Hagi Hassan, he inquired her value.
Taking them into a room apart, Hagi Hassan exclaimed as soon as she
had unveiled, "My lord, is not this the slave your father bought
for 10,000 pieces?"
On learning that it was so, he promised to obtain the highest possible
price for her. Leaving the beautiful Persian shut up in the room alone,
he went ont to seek the slave merchants, announcing to them that he
had found the pearl among slaves, and asking them to come and put
a value upon her. As soon as they saw her they agreed that less
than 4,000 gold pieces could not be asked. Hagi Hassan, then closing
the door upon her, began to offer her for sale--calling out:
"Who will bid 4,000 gold pieces for the Persian slave?"
Before any of the merchants had bid, Saouy happened to pass that way,
and judging that it must be a slave of extraordinary beauty, rode up
to Hagi Hassan and desired to see her. Now it was not the custom
to show a slave to a private bidder, but as no one dared to disobey
the vizir his request was granted.
As soon as Saouy saw the Persian he was so struck by her beauty,
that he immediately wished to possess her, and not knowing that she
belonged to Noureddin, he desired Hagi Hassan to send for the owner
and to conclude the bargain at once.
Hagi Hassan then sought Noureddin, and told him that his slave
was going far below her value, and that if Saouy bought her he
was capable of not paying the money. "What you must do," he said,
"is to pretend that you had no real intention of selling your slave,
and only swore you would in a fit of anger against her. When I
present her to Saouy as if with your consent you must step in,
and with blows begin to lead her away."
Noureddin did as Hagi Hassan advised, to the great wrath of Saouy,
who riding straight at him endeavoured to take the beautiful Persian
from him by force. Noureddin letting her go, seized Saouy's horse
by the bridle, and, encouraged by the applause of the bystanders,
dragged him to the ground, beat him severely, and left him in the
gutter streaming with blood. Then, taking the beautiful Persian,
he returned home amidst the acclamations of the people, who detested
Saouy so much that they would neither interfere in his behalf nor
allow his slaves to protect him.
Covered from head to foot with mire and streaming with blood he rose,
and leaning on two of his slaves went straight to the palace,
where he demanded an audience of the king, to whom he related what
had taken place in these words:
"May it please your Majesty, I had gone to the slave market to buy myself
a cook. While there I heard a slave being offered for 4,000 pieces.
Asking to see her, I found she was of incomparable beauty,
and was being sold by Noureddin, the son of your late vizir,
to whom your Majesty will remember giving a sum of 10,000 gold
pieces for the purchase of a slave. This is the identical slave,
whom instead of bringing to your Majesty he gave to his own son.
Since the death of his father this Noureddin has run through his
entire fortune, has sold all his possessions, and is now reduced
to selling the slave. Calling him to me, I said: "Noureddin, I
will give you 10,000 gold pieces for your slave, whom I will present
to the king. I will interest him at the same time in your behalf,
and this will be worth much more to you than what extra money you
might obtain from the merchants." "Bad old man," he exclaimed,
"rather than sell my slave to you I would give her to a Jew."
"But, Noureddin," I remonstrated, "you do not consider that in speaking
thus you wrong the king, to whom your father owed everything."
This remonstrance only irritated him the more. Throwing himself on me
like a madman, he tore me from my horse, beat me to his heart's content,
and left me in the state your Majesty sees."
So saying Saouy turned aside his head and wept bitterly.
The king's wrath was kindled against Noureddin. He ordered the captain
of the guard to take with him forty men, to pillage Noureddin's house,
to rase it to the ground, and to bring Noureddin and the slave to him.
A doorkeeper, named Sangiar, who had been a slave of Khacan's,
hearing this order given, slipped out of the king's apartment,
and hastened to warn Noureddin to take flight instantly with the
beautiful Persian. Then, presenting him with forty gold pieces,
he disappeared before Noureddin had time to thank him.
As soon, then, as the fair Persian had put on her veil they
fled together, and had the good fortune to get out of the town
without being observed. At the mouth of the Euphrates they
found a ship just about to start for Bagdad. They embarked,
and immediately the anchor was raised and they set sail.
When the captain of the guard reached Noureddin's house he caused his
soldiers to burst open the door and to enter by force, but no trace was
to be found of Noureddin and his slave, nor could the neighbours give
any information about them. When the king heard that they had escaped,
he issued a proclamation that a reward of 1,000 gold pieces would be
given to whoever would bring him Noureddin and the slave, but that,
on the contrary, whoever hid them would be severely punished.
Meanwhile Noureddin and the fair Persian had safely reached Bagdad.
When the vessel had come to an anchor they paid five gold pieces for
their passage and went ashore. Never having been in Bagdad before,
they did not know where to seek a lodging. Wandering along the banks
of the Tigris, they skirted a garden enclosed by a high wall.
The gate was shut, but in front of it was an open vestibule with a sofa
on either side. "Here," said Noureddin, "let us pass the night,"
and reclining on the sofas they soon fell asleep.
Now this garden belonged to the Caliph. In the middle of it was
a vast pavilion, whose superb saloon had eighty windows, each window
having a lustre, lit solely when the Caliph spent the evening there.
Only the door-keeper lived there, an old soldier named Scheih Ibrahim,
who had strict orders to be very careful whom he admitted,
and never to allow any one to sit on the sofas by the door.
It happened that evening that he had gone out on an errand.
When he came back and saw two persons asleep on the sofas he was
about to drive them out with blows, but drawing nearer he perceived
that they were a handsome young man and beautiful young woman,
and decided to awake them by gentler means. Noureddin, on being awoke,
told the old man that they were strangers, and merely wished to pass
the night there. "Come with me," said Scheih Ibrahim, "I will lodge
you better, and will show you a magnificent garden belonging to me."
So saying the doorkeeper led the way into the Caliph's garden,
the beauties of which filled them with wonder and amazement.
Noureddin took out two gold pieces, and giving them to Scheih Ibrahim
"I beg you to get us something to eat that we may make merry together."
Being very avaricious, Scheih Ibrahim determined to spend only
the tenth part of the money and to keep the rest to himself.
While he was gone Noureddin and the Persian wandered through the
gardens and went up the white marble staircase of the pavilion as far
as the locked door of the saloon. On the return of Scheih Ibrahim
they begged him to open it, and to allow them to enter and admire
the magnificence within. Consenting, he brought not only the key,
but a light, and immediately unlocked the door. Noureddin and the
Persian entering, were dazzled with the magnificence they beheld.
The paintings and furniture were of astonishing beauty, and between
each window was a silver arm holding a candle.
Scheih Ibrahim spread the table in front of a sofa, and all
three ate together. When they had finished eating Noureddin
asked the old man to bring them a bottle of wine.
"Heaven forbid," said Scheih Ibrahim, "that I should come in contact
with wine! I who have four times made the pilgrimage to Mecca,
and have renounced wine for ever."
"You would, however, do us a great service in procuring
us some," said Noureddin. "You need not touch it yourself.
Take the ass which is tied to the gate, lead it to the nearest
wine-shop, and ask some passer-by to order two jars of wine;
have them put in the ass's panniers, and drive him before you.
Here are two pieces of gold for the expenses."
At sight of the gold, Scheih Ibrahim set off at once to execute
the commission. On his return, Noureddin said: "We have still need
of cups to drink from, and of fruit, if you can procure us some."
Scheih Ibrahim disappeared again, and soon returned with a table spread
with cups of gold and silver, and every sort of beautiful fruit.
Then he withdrew, in spite of repeated invitations to remain.
Noureddin and the beautiful Persian, finding the wine excellent,
drank of it freely, and while drinking they sang. Both had fine
voices, and Scheih Ibrahim listened to them with great pleasure--
first from a distance, then he drew nearer, and finally put his
head in at the door. Noureddin, seeing him, called to him to come
in and keep them company. At first the old man declined, but was
persuaded to enter the room, to sit down on the edge of the sofa
nearest the door, and at last to draw closer and to seat himself
by the beautiful Persian, who urged him so persistently to drink
her health that at length he yielded, and took the cup she offered.
Now the old man only made a pretence of renouncing wine;
he frequented wine-shops like other people, and had taken none
of the precautions Noureddin had proposed. Having once yielded,
he was easily persuaded to take a second cup, and a third,
and so on till he no longer knew what he was doing. Till near
midnight they continued drinking, laughing, and singing together.
About that time the Persian, perceiving that the room was lit
by only one miserable tallow candle, asked Scheih Ibrahim to light
some of the beautiful candles in the silver arms.
"Light them yourself," answered the old man; "you are younger than I,
but let five or six be enough."
She did not stop, however, till she had lit all the eighty, but Scheih
Ibrahim was not conscious of this, and when, soon after that,
Noureddin proposed to have some of the lustres lit, he answered:
"You are more capable of lighting them than I, but not more than three."
Noureddin, far from contenting himself with three, lit all,
and opened all the eighty windows.
The Caliph Haroun-al-Raschid, chancing at that moment to open
a window in the saloon of his palace looking on the garden,
was surprised to see the pavilion brilliantly illuminated.
Calling the grand-vizir, Giafar, he said to him:
"Negligent vizir, look at the pavilion, and tell me why it is lit
up when I am not there."
When the vizir saw that it was as the Caliph said, he trembled
with fear, and immediately invented an excuse.
"Commander of the Faithful," he said, "I must tell you that four
or five days ago Scheih Ibrahim told me that he wished to have
an assembly of the ministers of his mosque, and asked permission
to hold it in the pavilion. I granted his request, but forgot
since to mention it to your Majesty."
"Giafar," replied the Caliph, "you have committed three faults--
first, in giving the permission; second, in not mentioning it
to me; and third, in not investigating the matter more closely.
For punishment I condemn you to spend the rest of the night with me
in company of these worthy people. While I dress myself as a citizen,
go and disguise yourself, and then come with me."
When they reached the garden gate they found it open, to the great
indignation of the Caliph. The door of the pavilion being also open,
he went softly upstairs, and looked in at the half-closed door
of the saloon. Great was his surprise to see Scheih Ibrahim,
whose sobriety he had never doubted, drinking and singing with a young
man and a beautiful lady. The Caliph, before giving way to his anger,
determined to watch and see who the people were and what they did.
Presently Scheih Ibrahim asked the beautiful Persian if anything
were wanting to complete her enjoyment of the evening.
"If only," she said, "I had an instrument upon which I might play."
Scheih Ibrahim immediately took a lute from a cup-board and gave
it to the Persian, who began to play on it, singing the while
with such skill and taste that the Caliph was enchanted.
When she ceased he went softly downstairs and said to the vizir:
"Never have I heard a finer voice, nor the lute better played.
I am determined to go in and make her play to me."
"Commander of the Faithful," said the vizir, "if Scheih Ibrahim
recognises you he will die of fright."
"I should be sorry for that," answered the Caliph, "and I am going
to take steps to prevent it. Wait here till I return."
Now the Caliph had caused a bend in the river to form a lake in
his garden. There the finest fish in the Tigris were to be found,
but fishing was strictly forbidden. It happened that night,
however, that a fisherman had taken advantage of the gate being
open to go in and cast his nets. He was just about to draw them
when he saw the Caliph approaching. Recognising him at once in spite
of his disguise, he threw himself at his feet imploring forgiveness.
"Fear nothing," said the Caliph, "only rise up and draw thy nets."
The fisherman did as he was told, and produced five or six fine fish,
of which the Caliph took the two largest. Then he desired the
fisherman to change clothes with him, and in a few minutes the Caliph
was transformed into a fisherman, even to the shoes and the turban.
Taking the two fish in his hand, he returned to the vizir, who,
not recognising him, would have sent him about his business.
Leaving the vizir at the foot of the stairs, the Caliph went up
and knocked at the door of the saloon. Noureddin opened it,
and the Caliph, standing on the threshold, said:
"Scheih Ibrahim, I am the fisher Kerim. Seeing that you are feasting
with your friends, I bring you these fish."
Noureddin and the Persian said that when the fishes were properly
cooked and dressed they would gladly eat of them. The Caliph then
returned to the vizir, and they set to work in Scheih Ibrahim's
house to cook the fish, of which they made so tempting a dish
that Noureddin and the fair Persian ate of it with great relish.
When they had finished Noureddin took thirty gold pieces (all
that remained of what Sangiar had given him) and presented them to
the Caliph, who, thanking him, asked as a further favour if the lady
would play him one piece on the lute. The Persian gladly consented,
and sang and played so as to delight the Caliph.
Noureddin, in the habit of giving to others whatever they admired,
said, "Fisherman, as she pleases you so much, take her; she is yours."
The fair Persian, astounded that he should wish to part from her,
took her lute, and with tears in her eyes sang her reproaches to
The Caliph (still in the character of fisherman) said to him,
"Sir, I perceive that this fair lady is your slave. Oblige me,
I beg you, by relating your history."
Noureddin willingly granted this request, and recounted everything
from the purchase of the slave down to the present moment.
"And where do you go now?" asked the Caliph.
"Wherever the hand of Allah leads me," said Noureddin.
"Then, if you will listen to me," said the Caliph, "you will
immediately return to Balsora. I will give you a letter to the king,
which will ensure you a good reception from him."
"It is an unheard-of thing," said Noureddin, "that a fisherman
should be in correspondence with a king."
"Let not that astonish you," answered the Caliph; "we studied together,
and have always remained the best of friends, though fortune,
while making him a king, left me a humble fisherman."
The Caliph then took a sheet of paper, and wrote the following letter,
at the top of which he put in very small characters this formula
to show that he must be implicitly obeyed:--"In the name of the Most
"Letter of the Caliph Haroun-al-Raschid to the King of Balsora.
"Haroun-al-Raschid, son of Mahdi, sends this letter to Mohammed Zinebi,
his cousin. As soon as Noureddin, son of the Vizir Khacan,
bearer of this letter, has given it to thee, and thou hast read it,
take off thy royal mantle, put it on his shoulders, and seat him
in thy place without fail. Farewell."
The Caliph then gave this letter to Noureddin, who immediately
set off, with only what little money he possessed when Sangiar
came to his assistance. The beautiful Persian, inconsolable at
his departure, sank on a sofa bathed in tears.
When Noureddin had left the room, Scheih Ibrahim, who had hitherto
kept silence, said: "Kerim, for two miserable fish thou hast
received a purse and a slave. I tell thee I will take the slave,
and as to the purse, if it contains silver thou mayst keep one piece,
if gold then I will take all and give thee what copper pieces I
have in my purse."
Now here it must be related that when the Caliph went upstairs
with the plate of fish he ordered the vizir to hasten to the palace
and bring back four slaves bearing a change of raiment, who should
wait outside the pavilion till the Caliph should clap his hands.
Still personating the fisherman, the Caliph answered:
"Scheih Ibrahim, whatever is in the purse I will share equally
with you, but as to the slave I will keep her for myself.
If you do not agree to these conditions you shall have nothing."
The old man, furious at this insolence as he considered it,
took a cup and threw it at the Caliph, who easily avoided a missile
from the hand of a drunken man. It hit against the wall, and broke
into a thousand pieces. Scheih Ibrahim, still more enraged,
then went ont to fetch a stick. The Caliph at that moment clapped
his hands, and the vizir and the four slaves entering took off
the fisherman's dress and put on him that which they had brought.
When Scheih Ibrahim returned, a thick stick in his hand, the Caliph
was seated on his throne, and nothing remained of the fisherman
but his clothes in the middle of the room. Throwing himself on the
ground at the Caliph's feet, he said: "Commander of the Faithful,
your miserable slave has offended you, and craves forgiveness."
The Caliph came down from his throne, and said: "Rise, I forgive thee."
Then turning to the Persian he said: "Fair lady, now you know who
I am; learn also that I have sent Noureddin to Balsora to be king,
and as soon as all necessary preparations are made I will send
you there to be queen. Meanwhile I will give you an apartment
in my palace, where you will be treated with all honour."
At this the beautiful Persian took courage, and the Caliph was as
good as his word, recommending her to the care of his wife Zobeida.
Noureddin made all haste on his journey to Balsora, and on his
arrival there went straight to the palace of the king, of whom he
demanded an audience. It was immediately granted, and holding
the letter high above his head he forced his way through the crowd.
While the king read the letter he changed colour. He would instantly
have executed the Caliph's order, but first he showed the letter
to Saouy, whose interests were equally at stake with his own.
Pretending that he wished to read it a second time, Saouy turned
aside as if to seek a better light; unperceived by anyone he tore
off the formula from the top of the letter, put it to his mouth,
and swallowed it. Then, turning to the king, he said:
"Your majesty has no need to obey this letter. The writing is indeed
that of the Caliph, but the formula is absent. Besides, he has not
sent an express with the patent, without which the letter is useless.
Leave all to me, and I will take the consequences."
The king not only listened to the persuasions of Saouy, but gave
Noureddin into his hands. Such a severe bastinado was first
administered to him, that he was left more dead than alive; then Saouy
threw him into the darkest and deepest dungeon, and fed him only
on bread and water. After ten days Saouy determined to put an end
to Noureddin's life, but dared not without the king's authority.
To gain this end, he loaded several of his own slaves with rich gifts,
and presented himself at their head to the king, saying that they
were from the new king on his coronation.
"What!" said the king; "is that wretch still alive? Go and behead
him at once. I authorise you."
"Sire," said Saouy, "I thank your Majesty for the justice you
do me. I would further beg, as Noureddin publicly affronted me,
that the execution might be in front of the palace, and that it
might be proclaimed throughout the city, so that no one may be
ignorant of it."
The king granted these requests, and the announcement caused
universal grief, for the memory of Noureddin's father was still fresh
in the hearts of his people. Saouy, accompanied by twenty of his
own slaves, went to the prison to fetch Noureddin, whom he mounted on
a wretched horse without a saddle. Arrived at the palace, Saouy went
in to the king, leaving Noureddin in the square, hemmed in not only
by Saouy's slaves but by the royal guard, who had great difficulty
in preventing the people from rushing in and rescuing Noureddin.
So great was the indignation against Saouy that if anyone had set
the example he would have been stoned on his way through the streets.
Saouy, who witnessed the agitation of the people from the windows
of the king's privy chambers, called to the executioner to strike
at once. The king, however, ordered him to delay; not only was
he jealous of Saouy's interference, but he had another reason.
A troop of horsemen was seen at that moment riding at full gallop
towards the square. Saouy suspected who they might be, and urged
the king to give the signal for the execution without delay,
but this the king refused to do till he knew who the horsemen were.
Now, they were the vizir Giafar and his suite arriving at full speed
from Bagdad. For several days after Noureddin's departure with the
letter the Caliph had forgotten to send the express with the patent,
without which the letter was useless. Hearing a beautiful voice
one day in the women's part of the palace uttering lamentations,
he was informed that it was the voice of the fair Persian,
and suddenly calling to mind the patent, he sent for Giafar,
and ordered him to make for Balsora with the utmost speed--
if Noureddin were dead, to hang Saouy; if he were still alive,
to bring him at once to Bagdad along with the king and Saouy.
Giafar rode at full speed through the square, and alighted
at the steps of the palace, where the king came to greet him.
The vizir's first question was whether Noureddin were still alive.
The king replied that he was, and he was immediately led forth,
though bound hand and foot. By the vizir's orders his bonds
were immediately undone, and Saouy was tied with the same cords.
Next day Giafar returned to Bagdad, bearing with him the king, Saouy,
When the Caliph heard what treatment Noureddin had received,
he authorised him to behead Saouy with his own hands, but he
declined to shed the blood of his enemy, who was forthwith handed
over to the executioner. The Caliph also desired Noureddin to reign
over Balsora, but this, too, he declined, saying that after what had
passed there he preferred never to return, but to enter the service
of the Caliph. He became one of his most intimate courtiers, and lived
long in great happiness with the fair Persian. As to the king,
the Caliph contented himself with sending him back to Balsora, with the
recommendation to be more careful in future in the choice of his vizir.
Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp
There once lived a poor tailor, who had a son called Aladdin,
a careless, idle boy who would do nothing but play all day long
in the streets with little idle boys like himself. This so grieved
the father that he died; yet, in spite of his mother's tears
and prayers, Aladdin did not mend his ways. One day, when he
was playing in the streets as usual, a stranger asked him his age,
and if he were not the son of Mustapha the tailor.
"I am, sir," replied Aladdin; "but he died a long while ago."
On this the stranger, who was a famous African magician, fell on his
neck and kissed him, saying: "I am your uncle, and knew you from your
likeness to my brother. Go to your mother and tell her I am coming."
Aladdin ran home, and told his mother of his newly found uncle.
"Indeed, child," she said, "your father had a brother, but I always
thought he was dead."
However, she prepared supper, and bade Aladdin seek his uncle,
who came laden with wine and fruit. He presently fell down and kissed
the place where Mustapha used to sit, bidding Aladdin's mother not
to be surprised at not having seen him before, as he had been forty
years out of the country. He then turned to Aladdin, and asked him
his trade, at which the boy hung his head, while his mother burst
into tears. On learning that Aladdin was idle and would learn no trade,
he offered to take a shop for him and stock it with merchandise.
Next day he bought Aladdin a fine suit of clothes, and took him
all over the city, showing him the sights, and brought him home at
nightfall to his mother, who was overjoyed to see her son so fine.
Next day the magician led Aladdin into some beautiful gardens
a long way outside the city gates. They sat down by a fountain,
and the magician pulled a cake from his girdle, which he divided
between them. They then journeyed onwards till they almost reached
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