Eastern Tales by Many Story Tellers
Author: Various
1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13     Next Part
Home - Random Browse







Author of "Sea Fights and Land Battles," &c., &c., &c.





* * * * *


In compiling this volume of Eastern Tales, the Editor has been careful to select only those best suited to youthful readers. They have been gathered from both ancient and modern, French, Italian, and English sources, and therefore offer great variety of style and subject.

In the stories taken from the Tales of the Genii, an omission of a few words has been made, to fit them for their place in this volume.

* * * * *

















* * * * *


Jalaladdeen of Bagdad.

Once upon a time there lived in the city of Bagdad a young man called Jalaladdeen. It was not his native place; but, in his early days, his father had taken up his abode there. He was, however, little acquainted with the town, in which he had grown up a sturdy youth; for his father inhabited a small house in one of the suburbs, and lived a very retired and frugal life. They managed their household affairs, and cultivated their small garden, without the aid of any domestics.

One day the father, feeling his end approaching, called for his son once more to his bed-side before his death, and said to him, "Jalaladdeen, my dearest son, thou seest that I have arrived at the bourne of my earthly career: now I should joyously quit this life, were it not for the thought that I must leave thee here alone. After my death, thou wilt find that thou are not so poor as thou mayest have conceived, and that too with good reason, from our hitherto contracted habits of life. Nevertheless, guard against the impression that thou art in possession of inexhaustible riches. Reflect that a year has three hundred and sixty-five days, and that the smallest expenditure, when it occurs daily, will in the end amount to no inconsiderable sum. Pay careful heed, therefore, to these my instructions, and be contented with the necessaries of life. Provide that which is indispensable to thy subsistence; but beware of purchasing superfluities. Man's wants increase daily, if he do not accustom himself in his early days to practise self-denial. But shouldest thou ever be so unhappy as to neglect these my sincere cautions, and consequently fall into poverty, I have only this piece of advice left for thee:—Take this rope, fasten it to the nail in yonder wall, and pull stoutly three times."

After these words, with his latest strength he drew a new rope from under the head of his bed, and presented it to Jalaladdeen: the next moment he expired.

So remarkable was the last lesson of the dying father to Jalaladdeen, that he carefully preserved the rope. The care of the funeral of the deceased, and the grief for the loss of his parent, and his own abandonment in the world, occupied Jalaladdeen's mind for the first week; but soon the household matters demanded his attention, and he speedily found his father's words verified. One day he discovered in a chamber which his father had always kept locked, and which he himself had never before entered, a great quantity of gold and jewels. He still, however, persevered in his accustomed solitary and frugal life in the same manner as before the death of his father. He fetched his daily provisions for himself, worked in his garden, and dressed his own food. One day it happened that as he went to fetch a piece of meat from his butcher, he passed a house adjacent to his own, from an inner room of which there sounded joyous voices, jokes, songs, and laughter. He felt a desire to open the door a little and to peep in; and a tastefully furnished chamber, hung with light blue silk draperies ornamented with golden lace, presented itself to his view. Beneath a canopy reclined five richly dressed young men at a table covered with a costly cloth, on which stood dishes and plates. On a side-board stood drinking-vessels and jugs; and five slaves were busily employed in serving the company with viands and liquors. At sight of this cheerful and joyous assemblage, Jalaladdeen felt discontented with his lot.

"How happy are they!" said he to himself: "here they repose together, and take their refreshments in common, savoured by sprightly conversation and jokes. Alas! I, poor Jalaladdeen, must sit at home alone, and take my solitary meal!"

While he was indulging in these reflections, one of the young men observed him; and, as Jalaladdeen was withdrawing, he stepped forward hastily and invited him in a most friendly manner to remain with them during the day, and to pass it in a cheerful and convivial spirit. Jalaladdeen endeavoured to excuse himself by pointing to his mean garb, intimating his inability to mix in such society; but his objections were of no avail. He was conducted to the table in a most courteous manner, and seated with them. The slaves waited on him, and placed before him viands with which he was at once pleased and astonished.

As one of the slaves handed him a full goblet, he held it doubtfully in his hand for some time, without tasting it. Upon this, one of the young men, who appeared to be the host, said, "Why do you not drink?"

"I do not know," replied he, "what the liquor is: I am fearful it may be wine, which our great Prophet has forbidden us."

Hereupon all the company raised a hearty laugh at him.

"Do you know," said one, "why the Prophet forbade his disciples to drink wine?"

As Jalaladdeen replied in the negative, the other proceeded thus: "The Prophet observed many of his disciples, when they had partaken freely of the vine, brawling and quarrelsome; and therefore he forbade it. The beverage, however, was very different in its effects: some of them it rendered lazy and inactive; others, too, would defy the whole world, when heated by its influence. But why should he order us to shun it? He in fact allows us to use it, so long as we do not abuse it; and as we are all good companions, and avoid brawls in every possible way, there is no danger of neglecting the Prophet's command."

In consequence of this explanation, Jalaladdeen lifted the flagon to his mouth, and emptied it with the greatest pleasure. "Sorry company spoils good liquor." This maxim was readily adopted. In consequence of his father's precepts, Jalaladdeen had always been in the habit of treating all religious tenets with the greatest respect. But fearful that, by remaining long with his new acquaintance, he should neglect his father's words, he contrived at first to drink very sparingly. The beverage, which he had hitherto never tasted, proved very agreeable to his palate; and when the host called upon him to drain his cup, "Ah," thought he, "I have made one false step; I have erred from the right path! Whether I drink little, or empty the goblet, is of no great consequence; for I have broken the commandment of the Prophet."

He quaffed again and again, and had his cup filled so frequently, that he gradually forgot all his good intentions, and felt a degree of excitement which seemed to run through his veins in a manner he had never before experienced. He had by this time lost all self-command; and as he could neither call sense nor recollection to his aid, by degrees he fashioned himself to the habits of his friends, and pleased them more and more.

"Here, friend," said one of them at last, "your company is very pleasant. I wish to have you always with us, that we may revel and enjoy ourselves together."

The others also approved of the plan, and pressed him to become one of them.

"I would willingly do so," said Jalaladdeen; "but I must first know what your society is, and whether it would be proper for me to conform to its customs. Some associations are dangerous."

"Have no fear on that account," said one: "our brotherhood is perfectly harmless, and its aim innocent. See, we are five unencumbered young men, each having some independent property. We have linked ourselves together, and formed a confederacy to meet at one another's residences, and to enjoy ourselves day after day in comfort and pleasure. He to whose lot it has fallen to become host to-day provides meat and drink, and if it should cost him something more than usual, he makes up the loss by becoming on the next occasions the guest of others. In this manner we pass a life devoid of care, and feast, joke, and laugh with one another the livelong day."

The condition into which the wine and the luxuries of the table had brought Jalaladdeen disposed him to be well pleased with the offer, and he was easily induced to identify his lot with theirs. When evening drew on, and he rose to take his departure, they showed him the house of meeting for the morrow, and he returned to his own home delighted with the events of the day, and, retiring to rest, was soon locked in profound sleep, and lulled by happy dreams.

When he awoke the next morning, he reflected on the transactions of the previous day, lamenting that he had so entirely disregarded his father's last words, and had totally neglected the observance of the Prophet's command. These thoughts, coupled with the admonition of his dying father, occasioned great anguish to his heart; and the recollection of the vast expense incurred by the feasting of the former day, and the calculation of the sum he should require to entertain his friends with similar hospitality, made him feel an inclination to withdraw from the connection; but, as he had pledged his word, he was reluctant to quit them at so early a stage.

He then calculated what he should require, and proceeded to the chamber where his riches lay. But the sight of the treasures banished all cares from his breast; "for," thought he to himself, "if I should expend a sum similar to that of yesterday, I shall want but very little of this gold." He then took a bag of gold with him, and went out to purchase the necessaries for the banquet.

On arriving at the city he took a porter with him, and bought various articles for the feast: a table for six, with a costly cover and carpet. From thence he proceeded to a silversmith, and purchased jugs, and flagons, and drinking-vessels, and other utensils for the table, superior to those of his friends. Then he visited a china-shop, and selected some of the handsomest porcelain china and Japan ware that was to be found, and provided himself with elegant services of plates and dishes. He continued in this manner furnishing himself with every useful and ornamental article for one of his largest rooms.

While he was thus employed in collecting and dispatching to his house these various utensils, the time for assembling at his friend's house drew near. He accordingly bent his steps thither, and was most gladly welcomed. They sat down to table, and when the first course was served, "You should have brought a slave with you," said the host, "as we do: that is one of our customs."

Jalaladdeen explained that he had not yet purchased a slave, but undertook to procure one by the following morning.

The day passed, like the former one, in great glee and festivity. The second supply of wine was ordered, and Jalaladdeen took his first goblet with great hesitation; but this was soon dissipated by his friends, and his cup was filled again and again, till he became exactly in the same condition as on the previous occasion.

After three or four days, he was altogether accustomed to his new mode of living; and he was at a loss to comprehend how he could have remained so long in his old quiet habits, blaming his father in his mind for keeping him in retirement so many years, and for depriving him of the happiness of a convivial life.

He looked back with joy to the day upon which he had formed an acquaintance with his new friends, and congratulated himself on the prospect of a closer intimacy with them. He soon provided himself with two slaves: to one he confided the duties of the kitchen; the office of the other was to wait upon him and his friends.

When the young men met for the first time at his house, they were astonished at its meanness and the want of accommodation, owing to the small size of the rooms. Jalaladdeen apologized to them, saying it had been his father's house, and that in consequence he did not wish to part with it. Though his companions approved of this motive, still they considered that he ought to provide a spacious dining-room for their comfort, or to build an open pavilion in the garden, where they might assemble more conveniently.

"In this small chamber," said one, "it is impossible to enjoy oneself at ease: the room is so contracted and inconvenient."

"Yes, brother," said another; "you must do something: a pavilion must be erected in the garden; and while you are about it, let it be both handsome and commodious."

Then they suggested all kinds of plans for the building, each one pointing out some novel feature or other which he particularly begged might not be forgotten in its construction.

Jalaladdeen was soon thoroughly convinced of the necessity of providing a large room for their comfort; and pledging himself now, as he knew what was required, to follow the suggestion of his friends, he promised to use his best endeavours to render the building conformable to their several tastes.

He accordingly the next day sent for an architect, who well knew how to enlarge upon what was necessary for the solidity of the pavilion, what was requisite for its proper appearance, and what the cost of the building would be, and desired him to erect it. Jalaladdeen yielded to his opinion on every point, hoping to gain the praise and approbation of his friends; and in order to carry this out more fully, he would not suffer any one to enter the garden during the progress of the work.

At length the pavilion was completed, and the friends were assembled together there for the banquet. Everything was deemed praiseworthy, and highly approved.

At last, however, one exclaimed, "It is much to be regretted, friend Jalaladdeen, that your garden is so small. What a miserable prospect you have! On this side nothing but poor vegetable-gardens; on the other side that ugly old building obstructs the view. If I were in your place, I would buy up the land around, pull down the barracks and the little buildings adjacent, and thus make one vast pleasure-garden, befitting such a splendid pavilion."

As the rest of the guests concurred, Jalaladdeen began to think himself that to erect a large handsome pavilion on such small grounds was indeed a mistake. He immediately, therefore, bought up all the small gardens, for which he was obliged to pay a very heavy price—firstly, because the owners did not wish to part with them; and secondly, as the produce of the ground was necessary for their subsistence.

As he had now got the requisite space on all sides, he employed a skilful gardener to lay out the grounds tastefully; and in order to cultivate this new garden, and keep it constantly in proper order, he was compelled to enlarge his establishment by a head gardener and several assistants. His house was too small to accommodate them. He therefore built a dwelling-house for them on a suitable spot of the garden. Thus one foolish expenditure always renders another outlay necessary.

Soon, by degrees, their manner of living became more and more expensive, as each endeavoured to excel the others in the splendour of his hospitality, and to procure for the next meeting at his house scarcer viands and more costly wines. In this manner they vied with each other, increasing their expenses with savoury spices and the most delicious perfumes.

This daily intercourse, however, was soon discontinued; and they assembled every day at Jalaladdeen's pavilion. He took a delight in being continual host, on account of the praise they lavished upon him, and the assurance they gave him that his table produced the best fare, and that the taste of his saloon was of the most superior order. By this means, in a short time his treasures of gold were expended; still he comforted himself with his precious stones, of which he possessed an immense quantity. At last these gems were squandered away; and he offered one costly article after another to a jeweller for sale, who on each occasion named a less price than before. Soon his only remaining valuable ring was sold for a small sum; and Jalaladdeen entertained his friends for the last time.

In the course of the banquet, he took the opportunity of explaining the state of his affairs, and begged some one of them to undertake the office of host, as they had been in the habit of doing. But his friends on this occasion received his announcement with great surprise.

"Is it thus with you?" said one, in astonishment.

"Are you obliged to have recourse to such means?" said another. "You have invited us here, and furnished your table most sumptuously; and are matters thus with you? If it be so, you are rightly served. Your profligate habits have led us into great expenses. 'T is good; you have given us a proof of what such things lead to."

"What!" said a third, "do you wish us to take up the office of host in order to come to the same end at which you have arrived?"

"I will give you some sound advice," said a fourth: "whenever you meet with a fool who is inclined to lay out his money in the purchase of such a poor tasteless garden as you have made, dispose of it to him, and with the proceeds take a little shop, and support yourself by trade."

"Look to yourself," said the fifth: "I am very sorry for you; but I cannot help you."

They then left him, some upbraiding him, others shrugging their Shoulders with pity.

"These are friends indeed!" said Jalaladdeen, bitterly, as they deserted him. "Oh, why did I neglect my father's injunctions? Even on the first day of our acquaintance, I should have taken warning by their carelessness in disregarding the Prophet's commandment concerning the abuse of wine. Ah me! I am justly punished."

He immediately began to retrench his household expenditure, and shortly his handsome tapestries and costly goods were all sold off, and he was reduced to the necessity of economizing most rigidly. But deeply as he felt the loss of those comforts which he had so lately enjoyed, his reflections bore still heavier upon him.

In his contemplations one day on his unhappy lot, he laid himself down in the same chamber in which he had received his dying father's commands. Here he experienced the most bitter anguish for the past—looked forward with sorrow and amazement to the future, as he had no one to advise and counsel him. Here his eye lighted upon the nail in the wall; and the last words of his father rung again in his ears—"Take this rope; you will see a nail in the wall; fasten it, and pull three times."

Jalaladdeen immediately opened a drawer where the rope lay, fetched a stool to the spot, made fast the end of the rope to the nail, and pulled with all his might. At the third pull he found he had torn the nail out of the wall, which had brought with it a square piece of board, thus leaving a large opening: he observed, too, that this was not the effect of chance, but of design. How great, then, was his astonishment when, on fetching a ladder, and looking into the opening, he discovered a much larger bag of gold, pearls, and other precious stones, than that one he found on a previous occasion, and which he had so thoughtlessly squandered. He now perceived that his father had prevented his touching this treasure until he should have learnt by misfortune how easily vast riches are dissipated, and should have been convinced by experience of the truth of his fatherly instructions and warning.

In order to avoid falling again into the hands of his profligate friends, should they hear of his improved circumstances, and to rid himself of their company for ever, he sold his house, and bought another, moderately large, pleasantly situated in an open plain in the neighbourhood of a mosque. He fitted it up conveniently; for his wealth, though not limited, was still not superfluously large.

When he took possession of his new house, the person who had sold it to him said, "I must leave something of my own here with you, as I have not been able to remove it, though with the best intention." He then conducted him into one of the apartments in which was standing a large copper vessel of elaborate workmanship. The cover of the vessel was sealed, and on the seal Jalaladdeen perceived the letters of a strange language.

"Sir," said the former owner, "this chest has stood in this room from time immemorial. My father forbade me to break the seal, and declared that he who should lay his hand on it for such a purpose would suffer severely for his foolhardiness. I have, I confess, in former times felt a strong inclination to loosen the seal, but fear has hitherto deterred me; but to-day as I had all my furniture removed from this house, I had this chest also conveyed to my new dwelling; but scarcely had the porter placed it down, when it disappeared. However, I found it shortly afterwards in this room again, and ordered its removal a second time; but it was soon standing here again in its old place. Perhaps a tutelary genius, invisible to us, inhabits the house. However, as it will not suffer itself to be removed, you may keep it here in the name of the Prophet. But forget not my warning—leave the seal unbroken."

Jalaladdeen felt half inclined to doubt these words; but nodding his head, he said to the man, "Well, well, leave the chest here; and if at any time I find it inconvenient, you will not, of course, object to remove it."

Scarcely had the man quitted the house, when Jalaladdeen called a slave, and desired him to place the vessel in a corner of the house.

"'T is an old chest," said he: "remove it; its old appearance does not correspond with the decorations of this room, which I intend to use as my sleeping-chamber. Now," said he to himself, "I shall see if the man has told the truth."

The slave removed the chest without ceremony, and Jalaladdeen contemplated, for some time, with great earnestness, the spot where it had lately stood; and as it did not appear again, he fancied that he had rid himself of it for ever. All at once, however, it was standing on the same spot once more, without his having observed by what agency it had been done. He had it then removed again and again, and on each occasion it returned to the same chamber. Seeing at last all his efforts fruitless, he permitted it to remain. The adventure, however, was too remarkable to make no impression on his mind. He threw himself down in his clothes on his couch; but sleep was denied to him. A train of thought on the subject of the wondrous chest, and his fear on account of the warning he had received, disturbed his mind, and prevented him from taking any rest. There he lay awake till midnight, and saw the chest glittering in the light of the moon, which fell upon it as it streamed through the window.

Curiosity at once overcame his fear: he started up and procured an iron tool with which he could break the seal of the cover, and took a hammer and chisel with him. With the aid of these instruments he broke through the leaden seal; but scarcely had it given way, when the lid opened, and a blue curling smoke arose from it, and from the midst of it issued a hideous old woman in a strange dress. She carried a crutch under her left arm, and held another in her right hand. She limped over the side of the vessel, and hobbling towards the astonished Jalaladdeen, said,

"Fool, fool that thou art! is it befitting for thee, so young as thou art, to stand there like an old idler? Go forth into the world, and fetch the wonder-stone from Mount Massis, otherwise thou canst never be my husband."

After these words she hobbled back on her crutch to the copper vessel, gathered herself together, as it were, into a ball, tumbled hastily in, and closed the cover on herself.

Overcome with fear and astonishment, Jalaladdeen threw himself upon his couch; but the dawn of morning found him still awake. He endeavoured to beguile the day in the arrangement of his house; but, nevertheless, he could not chase from his memory the wonderful spectacle which he had witnessed, and the portentous words that attended it. He felt an uneasiness which he endeavoured in vain to subdue, nor could he rest satisfied until he had investigated the cause of his anxiety.

At length he was so exhausted by the business of the day, fatigue, and want of rest, that he laid himself down early in the evenings and fell asleep; but at the hour of midnight he awoke again. He saw the vessel open, and the blue smoke arising from it, and from the midst of it the ugly old woman hobbled towards him, and cried out, as she swung her crutch to and fro in the air,

"Fool, fool, young idle fool! think of the stone of Mount Massis, otherwise thou canst not be my husband."

After these words she limped back again, gathered herself up as before, and the lid of the urn closed once more of itself.

This occurred every night; but after that Jalaladdeen had recovered from the agitation caused by her first appearance, he slept as soundly as ever: still the old woman woke him night after night by thrusts in the ribs with her crutch, and on every occasion repeated the same or similar words.

But she generally awoke him in the midst of a dream, in which he always saw a very beautiful young lady, who rose from a kingly throne near him, and touched him with her golden sceptre. To this succeeded the reality of the hideous old woman; and instead of the sceptre, the crutch was wielded against him.

He often endeavoured by day to get the vessel removed; and sometimes even it was thrown into the river which flows by Bagdad; but still it always found its way back to his chamber at night. He then caused his couch to be removed to another room, but this was to no purpose, as the vessel always followed it. Thus matters went on, till the nightly disturbances, and still more the disturbed state of his mind, affected him to such a degree, that his health was very much impaired. He sought the advice of physicians, who prescribed all kinds of stimulants and restoratives; but their combined skill could not restore him to his lost rest. At length one of the physicians said to him,

"My skill has done all it can, my medicines avail nothing: if your illness were really that of the body, you would have been restored to health long since; but if your indisposition has its source in the mind, my prescriptions cannot aid you. Seek a magician—that is my advice: he by his occult science may be enabled to discover the cause of your bad health, and to effect a cure."

Jalaladdeen felt the truth of these words.

"It cannot be denied," said he, "that the cause of my illness is seated in my mind, and till that be removed, my health cannot be restored."

He then sought out one of the most skilful magicians of the day, and disclosed to him the circumstances of his nightly disturbance, assuring him, that before the first night on which the old woman had made her odious appearance out of the vessel, his rest had never been impaired. He ended by begging and entreating of him that he would use all his skill to make the vision cease, and to rid his house of the fatal urn.

The magician consulted for some time with himself, and then addressed him thus:

"You tell me that this vessel was fastened down by a leaden seal; if it be loose, let me see it."

Jalaladdeen immediately conducted the magician to his house, and showed him the vessel, to which the seal was still attached. The magician studied with great attention the inscription on the seal, and then turning to Jalaladdeen, spoke thus:

"All my skill put together could not accomplish your wishes: know that this is the seal of the great Solomon; and it is inevitable, that he who breaks it must become an inmate of the vessel. To counteract this fate is not in the power of the most mighty magician. You are in the hands of this old woman, and no human power or wisdom can extricate you from it."

This speech involved Jalaladdeen in the greatest perplexity; he threw himself upon the ground, beat his breast, and sobbed and wept violently.

"Whence," exclaimed he, "is the power of this hideous old woman? Shall I, to the end of my days, remain in her trammels? Shall she, even when I have recovered from my illness, and lie wrapped in sweet dreams, approach my couch, and rouse me with her crutch to listen to her croaking voice? Whither can I fly for comfort? I would rather die than drag on a miserable existence in such trouble and anxiety. Take this dagger, I pray you, and stab me, and thus put an end to my illness."

With this he handed a dagger to the magician, and prayed him with many tears, as he bared his breast, to plunge it in, and rid him of his sufferings.

"Heaven forbid that I should commit such an act," replied the magician. "You are, without doubt, destined for great deeds, which will be worthy of you, one of which is, that you should break the seal of the great Solomon. You tell me that the old woman has desired you to fetch the wonder-stone from Mount Massis; follow her advice, journey to the mountain, and work out your good fortune. Perhaps your fate may take another and a more prosperous turn."

He lengthened out his speech in the same tone and spirit, and spoke seriously for some time, till at length he succeeded in quieting Jalaladdeen; so that he embraced the hope of being restored one day to perfect health.

"But," said he to the magician, "whither shall I bend my course? where is Mount Massis? and even if I succeed in reaching it, how shall I discover the wonder-stone?"

Hereupon the magician promised to consider all these points, and to give him the necessary instructions on the morrow.

On the following night the ugly old woman appeared again out of the vessel; but did not, as on former occasions, rouse him with her crutch; but it seemed as though he woke of his own accord, and found her standing by his bed-side.

"Now," said she to him, "will you at last be wise, and give up this idleness? it will prove advantageous both to you and me."

She then addressed him in the most friendly terms, and left him in her usual manner.

The next morning the magician made his appearance again, and gave him the necessary information as to the course to be pursued. He told him that the wonder-stone lay concealed in a stone castle about midway up Mount Massis; but that the enterprise required great patience, perseverance, and skill. With such words as these he brought his speech to a close, and left Jalaladdeen to his own reflections.

"The mountain is difficult of ascent, and is guarded by vigilant genii: he who cannot comply with their singular demands must certainly sink under the dangers to be encountered, or at least withdraw from the attempt without bringing it to completion."

Jalaladdeen assured the magician that he had sufficient patience to carry him through any trial, and that he was ready and willing to submit to any labour, if by that means he could rid himself of the illness from which he was at that time suffering.

"Then," said he, "where is Mount Massis? which I have never before heard of."

"You will know it, perhaps, by another name; it is also called Mount Ararat. There was, at some time or other, a great flood upon the earth, which destroyed every creature, man and beast, save one, who, with his wife and family, was warned by Allah; and placed in a large vessel, which floated upon the waters; then, as soon as the flood subsided, the ship remained fixed on one of the two ridges of the mountain; from this time the mount has been considered holy, and the spot most devoutly worshipped."

"I have heard of it," replied Jalaladdeen; "but in which direction am I to journey, in order to discover this wonder-stone?"

"You must follow the course of the Tigris," said he, "and then you will be at no great distance from the place."

Jalaladdeen immediately set his house in order, hired some armed attendants, took from his chest some gold and valuable jewels, and set off on his journey, following the windings of the river. The road appeared pleasant to him, and no danger or misfortune occurred to annoy him; the weather was fine, and he feasted his eyes upon the various features of the country, which were most beautiful and enchanting, travelling cheerfully onward. He began to forget his old sorrows and grievances, and to enjoy an unusual degree of happiness, as he left behind him the vision of the ugly old woman; for she never visited him again from the time he quitted his home.

At length he arrived with his suite on a high eminence, from which he beheld a most beautiful expanse of country, and in the distance the most charming scenery, from morning till night. In a corner of the valley a single hill towered up to the sky; farther on rose a chain of mountains; but the little hill was formed at the summit into two peaks. A cloud floated over their tops, one of which shot up more lofty than the other, and the sun cast a brilliant light upon them. But it was remarkable, that the nearer one approached the hill, the higher it appeared, and more majestic. At its base lay a very fruitful plain, and on the other side stood at little city.

Jalaladdeen inquired the name of the city, and was told that it was Semaenum.

"What!" said he, "Semaenum? How did it acquire this extraordinary name?"

The people laughed at his simplicity, and inquired whether or not he had heard of the great flood from which only one man and his wife, and three sons with their wives also, escaped.

"These eight persons," added they, "on their descent from the mountain, took up their abode here, and laid the foundation of the city."

After this Jalaladdeen heard that the castle in which the wonder-stone was concealed lay on the other side of the hill; but still no one knew anything of the stone, nor had the inhabitants a satisfactory idea of the castle. But he was informed that so many extraordinary and gigantic masses of stone were standing in the various clefts of the mount, that their appearance was certainly that of a castle, and that the lofty crowning point in the distance resembled a tower.

"However," added the relaters, "yonder spot is not accessible, nor has it ever been heard of, within the memory of man, that any one ever dreamt of attempting its ascent. Everybody dreads the road on that side of the hill, as it has been said that mighty genii carry on their orgies there; and there is also a tradition, that a traveller once undertook to attain the summit, but that he had never been known to return."

As soon as Jalaladdeen had clearly ascertained from the inhabitants on which side of the hill the so-called castle was situated, he felt a strong inclination to journey on towards it at that minute, regardless of the warnings of the neighbouring people and the entreaties of his guide. He accordingly took some of his gold and jewels with him, and set off on his journey, ordering his guide to remain behind. He gave these last instructions to his servants:

"If I return not in three months, you may regard my property here as your own; then go back each one to his home, or wherever his inclination may lead him."

He soon lost his road, and arrived at unknown and intricate paths, with which the foot of the mountain was surrounded. Gradually the trees and all traces of vegetation disappeared, save here and there a tuft of close underwood, which sprang up in the clefts of the rocks. Round about him were piled blocks of stone of monstrous size, and his farther progress was soon altogether stopped. There rose before him a massive stone wall like a tower, which was so steep and smooth, that it was impossible to pass it. He therefore made a wide circuit round, and at last found himself in a broad chasm of the rock, which seemed to extend far into the mountain.

Wild and unfrequented as this appeared, nevertheless he ventured to descend. The way was very laborious; he was often obliged to mount sharp-pointed masses of rock, often to wind along between crags and briars, often again to descend into deep abysses, down which rapid streams rushed violently, and then again to clamber up on the other side. At times he hung suspended from one side, searching out in vain a resting-place for his foot, to furnish him a support in his progress.

At length, after long and incessant labour through a dangerous pathway, he arrived at the steep summit, from which he discovered massive walls and lofty towers, that appeared to be constructed of rough unhewn stone. With the last exertion of his exhausted strength, he ascended these heights, and found himself before an opening. He knew not whether this was merely a cleft in the rock resembling a doorway, or a doorway hewn in the rough rock like a natural chasm. It was formed of upright blocks of stone, on which was cast another of wonderful size; but there was no door. He laboured now more assiduously than ever through the thorns and pointed stones, which lay here and there over the little level space that extended in front of the opening, till he stood before the dark entrance. The gloom concealed the nature of the interior of the cavity from his view, and he stood for a short time on the threshold, thinking on his past trials and collecting his scattered senses. As he was about to enter, a man stepped up to him, armed with a bow and bearing on his back a quiver of arrows.

"Take the bow," said he to Jalaladdeen, "choose yourself an arrow, and go do your duty."

So surprised and astonished was he, that he seized the bow, drew an arrow from the quiver, and asked,

"What is my duty? What shall I do?"

"There," answered the man, pointing in the distance, "far beyond you must go; there is a great sea, which you must compass to its southern side, and then proceed through a wide expanse of plain until you arrive at a large inland lake, called the Eagles' Lake. There, every morning immediately after sunrise, you will see a swarm of black eagles on the shore, and among them a single white one. This kill, and, in proof of what you have done, bring back here the left wing."

This announcement came like a thunderbolt upon the miserable Jalaladdeen, who had fancied that he had arrived very near the end of his journey. But now he was ordered to proceed still farther through an unknown tract of land. On looking back he saw that the sun had already sunk in the heavens, and that dusky and humid clouds were gathering over the sky; so, turning to the man, he said,

"The night is fast drawing on, and I am very weary; and if I were to be exposed for so many hours in the abyss of this rocky ravine, I should certainly perish. May I not be permitted to pass the night here?"

The man nodded assent, and ordered Jalaladdeen to follow him. They passed into a dark hall from the entrance, with a vaulted roof formed of rough blocks of stone, from which hung a single iron lamp, that spread a feeble and dim light around. His conductor left him here alone, and two domestics soon appeared. They brought him an ottoman, and made him understand by signs that he was to sit down. They then placed a table before him with meat and drink, and stationed themselves at a respectful distance from him, waiting to serve him. He ate and drank and refreshed himself after the labours of the day, while the attendants handed everything to him with the greatest attention.

As soon as he had satisfied the craving of his appetite, they removed the table with its appendages, and beckoned to him to follow them. They conducted him through a side passage to a door, and when they had drawn back the curtain which hung before it, Jalaladdeen stood mute with astonishment.

The chamber was precisely like his sleeping-room at Bagdad: every article of furniture was of the same size and colour as his, and occupied exactly the same position.

"You are surprised at this chamber," said one of the attendants: "our master wished to make it as comfortable for you as possible after your long journey, and he thinks that a man never experiences more comforts than in his own house."

With this they saluted him, and retired; but Jalaladdeen was too much astonished to sink to rest immediately; he accordingly walked round the room and inspected everything. It was his own chamber, with his own cushions, tapestries, and carpet; the curtains which he had purchased on entering his new house were there, and even the most minute article of furniture was the same; and that nothing might be wanting, there stood, on the precise spot, the fatal vessel which he had not been able to remove from his room by any means. Disagreeable as this last was, still he was so taken with surprise at the strange resemblance to his own chamber, that it made no impression on his mind; and at last he laid himself down on the couch, and Nature soon asserting her rights, he slumbered. He slept soundly throughout the night, and experienced the same happy dream which had so often visited him when at home. He saw a beautiful young maiden in princely garb, adorned with the most costly jewels, and at the moment that she raised herself from her queenly throne, and bent towards him her golden sceptre, he awoke, and the hideous old woman hobbled up to him.

"Commit no rash act of folly," said she, in a hoarse croaking voice; "do not go without a dog: they must give you one."

She then turned herself about, shook her crutch at him in a menacing manner, and disappeared all at once into the vessel, as on every former occasion.

"A dog!" said Jalaladdeen to himself: "what shall I do with such an unclean animal? However, she seems to know of the journey in store for me."

And revolving the matter in his mind, it appeared to him better to follow her advice. In the midst of his thoughts he again fell fast asleep; and when he awoke, he found, to his no small surprise, that he had been slumbering in a chasm of the rock upon a bed of dried mountain grass.

The sun shone in upon him, and before him stood the man who had given him the bow and arrow, and who immediately reminded him of his journey, and urged him to prepare speedily to do his duty. He arose at once, and declared himself ready.

"But," said he, calling to mind the old woman's words, "could I not have a dog to accompany me on the way?"

"Certainly," replied the man; and at his call a large dog with broad paws made its appearance, and began to run round him in a friendly manner, barking for joy. He then tore off a small piece of the hem of his garment, and having shewn it to the dog, gave it to Jalaladdeen, and said,

"So long as you bear this with you, the dog will follow you wherever you go; be therefore careful of it. Now proceed, turn not back to the town, but go straight on to the east."

The dog immediately bounded forward, and, on issuing from the hollow of the rock, turned toward the east. Jalaladdeen followed, and found, to his astonishment, a winding path, not altogether level, but still not very inconvenient. Whenever a dangerous spot showed itself at times, the dog discovered another path by which the danger might be avoided. Jalaladdeen therefore allowed him to run on before, and followed his steps.

They soon reached the plain, and arrived at a hilly district, where the mountains rose higher and higher behind them in the distance. The land on the other side declined gently; and, afar off, they beheld the sea. Many days, however, passed before he was able to make the wide circuit which led to the southern side. He then found himself in a flat country, and, after a journey of fourteen days, arrived at the shores of the Eagle Lake. Jalaladdeen threw himself down, in the evening, upon a dry spot of the shore; for in the course of his long journey he had habituated himself to rest on the earth under the broad canopy of heaven.

In the morning, his dog awoke him by a low barking and lively indications of restlessness. He had hardly risen from the ground, when the dog sprang joyously up to him, looking to one side, as though to direct his attention. On turning his eyes towards the spot, he discovered a great multitude of black birds hovering over the trees, and felt satisfied that they were the eagles. He then looked anxiously for the white one, which he was to kill; but in vain. Whilst he was engaged in the search, the dog made a circuit, and crept close to them beneath some bushes; then, by a sudden loud bark, he dislodged them from the spot, and they flew in the direction of Jalaladdeen, across the lake. He, on a sudden, discovered the snow-white eagle among the others, and bent his bow, and, although the bird was now at so great a distance that no ordinary shot could have reached it, still the arrow flew straight to its mark, and he saw the object of his aim fall far from the shore into the blue waters of the lake.

"What avails my fortunate shot?" said he, looking with vexation on the waves which bore it farther from the shore.

Immediately the dog plunged hastily into the water, and swimming with extraordinary rapidity, seized the eagle in his mouth, and brought it safely to his master. Jalaladdeen quickly drew out the arrow, which had pierced it through the middle of the body, and cutting off the left wing, secured it to his person. During this operation, he had smeared his fingers with blood; and, as he was wiping it off on the inside of his girdle, the little piece of the man's garment, which he had hitherto kept safely, fell to the ground without his noticing it. Hereupon the dog caught up the body of the eagle, which Jalaladdeen had thrown away, and ran off with it at full speed.

Jalaladdeen called repeatedly to the dog, and coaxed him to return, but in vain; so he proceeded home on his way alone. He certainly met with nothing of material import to molest him in his journey; nevertheless he had to encounter a thousand little obstacles, which very much impeded his progress. He could not discover the path by which he had originally come, but frequently arrived at places where there was no road, or at thick forests, through which he was obliged to hew a path with his sabre, and to pass the night upon the naked earth beneath the open sky.

After a much longer journey than before, and many different detours, he arrived at a spot from which he could see the two-pointed head of Mount Massis. When, after some days, he came to the foot of the mount, he was in hopes of finding the path by which he had descended in company with the dog; but he looked for it in vain, and was obliged to climb up by one of the dreadful rocky ravines, at the risk of his life, as on a former occasion.

At length, weary and exhausted, he arrived at the opening, and was about to enter, with the eagle's wing in his hand, when the man who had given him the bow and arrow presented himself before him, and said,

"Hast thou done thy duty?"

Jalaladdeen immediately placed the wing in his hands.

"Good," replied the other; "I will see if it be the right one."

He then called the dog by name, who immediately appeared from the castle, carrying the eagle's body in his mouth.

As soon as the man had applied the wing to the place from which it had been cut, and compared it with the other, he said to him, nodding approvingly, "'T is well: I have that which I wanted. But stay here a moment; my brother will come to you, and inform you what you must do for him, if you wish to have your desire fulfilled." With these words, he entered the hollow again, and the dog accompanied him.

Jalaladdeen followed him with his eyes; and then, sighing deeply, said, "Another labour still! I fancied I had already discovered the wonder-stone of Mount Massis, and now I must journey out into the world again on anew adventure. God knows whither the brother will send me."

His soliloquy was interrupted by the appearance of a man, who stepped forward from the opening, and presented to him a lance with a glittering steel head.

"Take it," said he, "and with it do thy duty."

Jalaladdeen took it, and intimated his readiness to undertake the mission, at the same time asking, "What is my duty?"

The man answered, "On the way hence to Mount Lebanon, on the other side of the Tigris and Euphrates, the traveller comes, after a journey of some days, to a vast desert. There, in the middle of a large barren and sandy plain, lies a fruitful oasis, watered by a little stream, on whose brink grow tall palms, refreshing the wanderer with their shade and fruit. But the neighbourhood of the palms is frequented by a monstrous lion of a dark colour,—the only one that has wandered into the district,—and his ferocity renders it dangerous to rest beneath their shade. This you must kill—not only for the safety of future travellers, but in order to accomplish your own wishes. Then bring here to me the lion's tail; you will hereafter need it."

Again it was evening; and Jalaladdeen begged permission to recruit his strength and refresh himself by a night's rest. The man assented, and made a sign that he should follow him. In the hall he was again provided with meat and drink by the two attendants; and after his repast, they conducted him to the same door, drew back the curtain from before it, and he again, to his utter amazement, found himself in his own sleeping-chamber at Bagdad. Once more he recognized every article of furniture as his own, or exactly similar to his own, and the copper vessel standing precisely on the same spot. He then threw himself on his couch, and was soon locked in deep slumber. But at the hour of midnight he was again roused from his dream by the hideous old woman, who stood by his bed-side, flourishing her crutch in a threatening attitude, and calling upon him in a hoarse, croaking voice,

"See thou commit no rash act of folly," she cried. "Go not on foot to the desert, otherwise the floating clouds of sand will bury thee for ever before thou arrivest at the palms; or if thou shouldest attain the spot, the lion will tear thee in pieces if he find no other booty. They must give thee a camel: see that thou demand it." At these words she shook her crutch at him, and disappeared into the vessel.

"A camel!" said Jalaladdeen to himself: "can they possibly have camels in this unfrequented place? And even if they had, how could I descend to the plain with such a beast, through the clefts in the rocks, from this height?"

His weariness was so great that, amid a chain of thoughts that attended the vision, he fell fast asleep again. The next morning he was awoke by the man who gave him the lance, and he discovered himself at the opening of the rock, as on a former occasion. The sun again shone through the hollow, and the man said to him,

"'T is time that you should make ready to do your duty: take the bow and arrow, together with my lance, and journey on to the desert."

At the moment he called to mind the injunction of the old woman, and answered, "For my passage through the desert I shall require a camel."

"Then thou shalt have one," replied the man; and, on emerging a second time from the opening, there stood a camel, ready furnished with many necessaries for his comfort and convenience during the journey.

To his astonishment, after he had mounted the animal, it proceeded by an easy pathway down the side of the mountain; and, although he could see nothing but impassable spots, huge blocks of stone, and deep abysses both before and behind, still the camel travelled on by a level and gently declining track.

On this occasion, too, his journey was more prosperous and far more speedy than at the first. He arrived at the desert without any mishap, and in the evening reached the fruitful strip of land where the palms stood. The camel immediately refreshed itself with water, while Jalaladdeen's repast consisted of dates from the neighbouring trees. He then allowed the camel to browse upon the brink of the stream, while he resigned himself, without care, to rest beneath the shade. He was soon, however, terrified by the roar of a lion, which sounded close to him; accordingly he sprang up hastily, seized his arms, and took up a position behind some large palms, which concealed him from the sight of his approaching enemy. Soon the lion drew on with rapid strides, and was about to rush upon the browsing camel, when Jalaladdeen shot an arrow, which took effect in his right eye. Scarcely had the dart reached the lion, when he sprang vengefully forward on his foe, whom he had but that moment discovered. Jalaladdeen, nothing daunted, stepped boldly forwards, and thrust at him with the point of his lance; but the lion bounded on with such force, that he could not withstand the attack: he fell, and the whole bulk of the lion rolled over him. Jalaladdeen gave himself up for lost: he lay senseless some time, and when he had recovered sufficiently to comprehend his dreadful situation, the moon was high in the heavens. He was very weak, and bruised all over the body, and he felt some great weight upon him. By means of considerable exertion, he released himself, and remarked for the first time that his clothes were saturated with blood. He immediately fancied that he had been wounded by the teeth or claws of the lion, and accordingly rolled over to the water and washed himself; but, after a very careful examination of his person, he could not discover a wound. The coolness of the water refreshed his limbs, and eased the pain of the bruises in the various parts of his body. After this he was soon enabled to stand up, and he found that the weight which had been pressing upon him was the lion, dead and stiff, and soaked in his blood. In its bound forward it had pierced itself with the lance, and had fallen to the ground, in consequence of the furious attack it was designing. The body of the dead lion proved a soft pillow, and its bulk was so immense that Jalaladdeen could recline at full length upon its back with great ease. In this manner he slept on, and did not rise till broad daylight, when he felt himself fully refreshed and well. He then cut off the lion's tail, and remounted the camel, which had strayed to a short distance from the spot.

The return to the castle on the mount was prosperous, and not marked by any particular adventure. He soon left the desert behind, and found himself at the foot of Mount Massis. But as evening was approaching, he considered whether it would be better to rest till morning, and then ascend the acclivity; the camel, however, perseveringly trotted on with that zeal which animals generally show when approaching their accustomed dwelling.

The last gleam of day had not disappeared in the western sky when he found himself in the little chamber before the well-known entrance of the castle. Although the distance from the foot of the hill thus far up to the castle, notwithstanding the rapid steps of the beast, had occupied the greater part of a whole day, yet it appeared that it could now be accomplished in the short space of a single hour. Jalaladdeen could not comprehend how he had reached it so rapidly; but it occurred to him for the first time that he had never seen so extraordinary a pathway, or one accompanied with so much difficulty and danger. He contemplated with surprise the rapidity with which he had completed this journey, and made a sign to the camel to kneel, to give his rider an opportunity of descending and unloading him. He took his arms and the lion's tail, and entered the gate of the castle.

On his entry he was met by a man, who took his lance from him and said, "Hast thou done thy duty?"

And as Jalaladdeen presented to him the lion's tail, he said that he had failed in nothing.

"Good," said he; "but still I will put it to the test, to prove whether you are right."

He then called out aloud four names, upon which immediately appeared four large dogs out of the chasm in the rock, dragging after them the dead body of the dark lion. The man now applied the tail to the lion's body, and on finding that it corresponded, "Good," said he; "I have now what I desire. Wait, however, a short time, and my brother will come and tell you what he requires you to do for him, if you are inclined to see your wishes fulfilled." With these words he retired into the castle, and the four dogs dragged in the lion after him.

"Alas!" said Jalaladdeen, "I have not yet accomplished my labours! Who knows how many brothers may be dwelling here together? And if I receive only a slight demand from each of them, a year may elapse ere I obtain the wonder-stone."

He had scarcely uttered these words when the third brother advanced, and handing to him a basket made of rushes, accompanied it with the words, "Go and do thy duty."

He inquired what was his duty, and received this answer: "Go and fetch water."

"What!" said he; "fetch water in a basket! It will run out between the rushes!"

The man shrugged up his shoulders, and said, "That is for you to look to: water you must bring in this basket, and without the aid of any other vessel; for you will stand in need of the water."

"That is impossible," replied Jalaladdeen. "Set me to any other kind of work—send me into a distant country on the other side of the Caucasus, let me herd with wild beasts, and I will, without making any objection, obey your injunctions, even at the risk of my life; but do not require impossibilities of me."

"'T is not impossible," answered the man. "Reflect: I dare not say anything more to you. You have till morning to consider what you will do. Come in here and refresh yourself with food and rest."

Jalaladdeen followed him, and was conducted into a chamber, where he was abundantly supplied with viands and liquors. The bed-room appropriated to him was that in which he had formerly rested and known as his own; and he laid himself down, exhausted and overcome with grief on account of the new demand made upon him. He awoke again at midnight, and the little old woman stood once more before him with her uplifted crutch.

"Commit no rash act of folly," said she. "Seek not water out of the deep: carry that not in thy basket; the water which thou must bring in it will not escape through it. Step out; above thou wilt find the water I speak of; thence thou must fetch it. Dost thou hear? Be not foolish: hast thou lost thine understanding?"

After she had disappeared, as on previous occasions, Jalaladdeen rolled about for some time on his couch, sleepless and perplexed with care. It appeared to him like an unsolvable riddle.

"What! shall I not fetch water from the depth, whence commonly springs and streams flow? and yet shall I go upwards? and am I to carry it in a simple wicker basket?"

At last, however, he fell asleep again, and was awoke in the morning, with positive orders to make ready to do his duty. As he was preparing, he said, "The way up the rock and the oft-frequented path is dangerous; could I not get a travelling-staff to help me?"

"Here is one ready," answered the man, handing him a long pole, made of a light tough wood, with a strong iron spike fixed to it. He then shook him heartily by the hand, and let him out of the opening.

When he gained the exterior, he looked all around him. He hoped to discover some track which would indicate in what direction he should set out; but stones and ruins, the effects of a great convulsion of nature, surrounded, in a wild and unnatural confusion, the small and even spot before the entrance of the castle. But what most astonished him was, that the road which had appeared formerly to be impassable for his camel should now present an even and unencumbered path. At last, after various attempts, by great good fortune, he found a part where, by help of his travelling-staff, he was able to climb up the projecting mass of rock. On the other side he found a spot by which he could, without much danger, descend into a large plain. It seemed to him like the same piece of rock on which he, in the first instance, had got in proceeding from the castle. He was nearly, from this circumstance, led to descend there; but he thought of the warning given to him by the old woman in good time, who had advised him not to fetch water from the bottom, but from the summit, and he accordingly bent his steps upwards. But here the road lay through enormous fragments of rock, choked up at intervals with briars and thorns. At length, after frequently-repeated efforts, he succeeded in journeying on a short distance by the help of his travelling-staff, when a spot presented itself where there was a chasm in the rock, which it was impossible for him to surmount. He was accordingly obliged to turn sideways till he had passed it, in order to follow up his prescribed route. He toiled on with intense exertion, endeavouring to reach the summit of the rock, for more than an hour; but, from various obstacles, had not made any great progress. At last, worn out with fatigue, he sat himself down beneath the shade of an overhanging crag, to recruit his strength, in order to renew the attempt with increased vigour.

Up to this time, through all his wanderings, he had not found a stream from whose source he was able to draw water. He had certainly seen in deep hollows small rivulets issuing from the rock, which by their fall covered the neighbouring plain with white flakes of foam. Still, although he persevered assiduously, he could not discover one spot which he could approach sufficiently near.

He was by this time suffering intensely from thirst; for, notwithstanding the height at which he had arrived, where the cold was more severe than in the hollows beneath, still his anxiety, and his journey upwards beneath the midday sun, had parched his lips, and he had not yet been able to reach a stream at which to moisten them.

"Fool, fool that I am!" exclaimed Jalaladdeen, bitterly; "why should I thus exhaust my strength? If I attain the summit of the hill, I shall meet with no water; or even if I were to find a spring at the top of it, still I should not be able to carry its waters in a rush basket."

He then reasoned with himself whether or not it were better to return; but then the thought flashed across his mind that the words of the old woman had on two previous occasions been fully verified. He therefore determined to follow her advice once more.

"Did she not assure me," said he, "that I should find water enough above me? 'T is passing strange: the streams certainly flow thence, or remain still in their channels."

With this he set forward again on his ascent, and it now appeared that he had advanced much farther than he had been aware of, and in a shorter space of time. He had not proceeded far when he arrived at a spot hollowed out, and sheltered from behind by a large mass of rock. In this cavity was a quantity of snow and ice, which the air at that height could not melt, and to which the rays of the sun could not penetrate through the surrounding masses.

Jalaladdeen laid himself down to rest at the edge of the snow, and refreshed himself with its grateful coolness by taking a small quantity in his hands, and by applying it to his lips. He first of all moistened the exterior of his mouth, and then swallowed a little with great pleasure. This at once solved the mystery of the problem.

"Here," said he, "is a large expanse of snow: the tops of the mountains are covered with it. What is snow but water? and such water I can easily carry in my rush basket; and even if some should melt in the journey, it cannot all dissolve and escape."

He then began immediately to fill the basket with clean snow from the middle of a heap, and to render it more firm, he pressed it together with his hands. As soon as he had filled his basket, he set off joyously on his return; but it seemed as though he must again have taken a different route, as he did not meet in the course of his way one of the thousand obstacles that had impeded his progress on his journey in search of this water.

The last traces of sunlight were fast disappearing in the west when he found himself at the entrance of the castle. Immediately the three brothers advanced to meet him.

"See," said the third, who had imposed this last mission on him, "see, thou hast brought us water in a rush basket."

With these words they ushered him into the interior, and gave him the joyful intelligence that he had now accomplished everything that was necessary to put him in possession of the wonder-stone.

"You must know," said they, "that the wonder-stone is concealed in an iron chest; but the bolt, by lapse of time, is so thoroughly rusted that no power has yet been discovered sufficient to force it back and to disclose the contents. There is, however, a tradition that he who shall be deemed worthy to possess this treasure, and who shall have successfully performed all our commands, shall be endued with power to draw back the bolt—a feat which has been deemed impossible for many hundred years. But, as destiny often depends on circumstances which mortals consider trivial and insignificant, so in this case a combination of materials is requisite, by whose agency alone a sure and happy success can crown our hitherto prosperous attempts. It would, doubtless, be imagined that a rusty bolt might be moved by the application of a little oil or grease, of whatever nature it might be; but in this case nothing save that portion of marrow which is contained in the lion's tail will be efficient, and this, too, must be boiled in water fetched in a rush basket. Nor is this all: the marrow must be applied with three feathers plucked from the left wing of a white eagle, the king of eagles in Eagle Land."

After these words they conducted him into a chamber; in the middle of it stood a large iron chest, whose cover was fastened down by seven strong iron bolts.

"Behold the chest in which the wonder-stone is hid," said they. "Let us proceed to work immediately."

Hereupon they brought in a cauldron, and filled it with snow from the rush basket, and placed it on a fire in the kitchen. The lion's tail was then cut into pieces and thrown into the water; the fat was soon extracted, and floated at the top. Then the first of the three brothers brought in the eagle's wing, and Jalaladdeen was ordered to pluck out the three outside feathers, and with them to anoint the bolts. While he was thus occupied, a drop of the fat fell upon his hands, which he rubbed over them.

"Right, right!" said another brother, who had observed it with great satisfaction; "it is very strengthening to the limbs."

And he accordingly rubbed both his hands and feet, and immediately experienced a pleasurable sensation of new vigour.

Jalaladdeen had been exceedingly fatigued by the toils of the day; nevertheless by this application he felt as recruited as he had on other occasions in consequence of a prolonged and peaceful slumber.

"The marrow has done its work," said the second brother; "it has already unclosed the bolt. Approach, then, and open the chest."

Jalaladdeen bowed, and with great apparent ease withdrew the bolts. As soon as he had lifted up the lid he beheld a beautiful gem, which appeared to be a rare specimen of the onyx. In the middle of it was a golden hook, to which a chain was attached, by which it might be suspended from the neck. Upon the stone was an engraving of an altar, upon which a sacrificial fire was burning, and before it a suppliant family bowed the knee; over this was thrown a white vestment archwise in the form of a rainbow.

"Is this really the wonder-stone?" said Jalaladdeen, gazing on it with rapture.

"It is," replied the brothers; and continuing, "Hail, thou happy youth!" they exclaimed; "hail, prince! thou wilt shortly be seated on the throne of thy fathers."

"A Prince!" cried Jalaladdeen, in astonishment; "a Prince! My father died at Bagdad, a quiet, retired man, and never in the whole course of my life did I hear him say that he had ever been a King."

"He was a King," exclaimed one of the brothers; "but his subjects made war against him, and drove him into exile; they then elected another Sultan, who sat upon the throne there many years. He is since dead, and the people are not unanimous in raising his daughter to the queenly station. They are divided into two factions, opposed to one another with the most dreadful hatred and animosity. Go thither, and give thy people peace."

"Whither shall I go?" asked Jalaladdeen, anxiously. "How shall I procure myself to be recognized as their lawful monarch?"

"That will be easily accomplished," answered one of the brothers, "by the agency of this wonder-stone. Place the chain round thy neck, and support the gem on thy breast. Now come," said they, as soon as he had complied with this direction; "thou hast no time to spare: refresh thyself, as though for a long journey, with meat and drink, and then set out."

They then conducted him into an adjoining room, and waited upon him themselves; after his repast they handed to him a crystal goblet filled with a liquor most agreeable to his palate, superior to any drink he had formerly tasted.

"Now proceed onward," said they: "this is the first step towards your happiness."

One of them then traced a small cross with his forefinger upon the wall, and immediately there opened a small vaulted chamber.

"What!" said Jalaladdeen, "am I to enter that gloomy hole?" shuddering and involuntarily drawing back, in consequence of the cold damp vapour that issued from it.

"Hand him another goblet to refresh himself," said one of the brothers, and at the same time filling one for him.

Then the third brother presented to him the eagle's wing and the tip of the lion's tail, which had been reserved from the cauldron, and the arrow and lance, too, with which he had killed them.

"Forward! On, in the name of the Prophet!" was the next command.

"I obey," answered Jalaladdeen; "but suffer me before my departure to ask, Who are ye?"

"We are three genii," said they, "sent here by the King of Spirits, as keepers of the mysteries of the holy Mount Massis. But proceed, in order that thou mayest arrive in due time at thy destination." They led him to the opening, and as he was stooping down to enter it, "See," said they, "if thou shouldst return by this way, throw upon the ground this wing of the eagle and the tail of the lion, and call out in a loud voice our names, Arjeh, Neschar, and Mana-Guma. We shall then know what thou requirest."

With these words the passage closed upon him, and he found himself in such dense darkness that there was not a single glimmer of light through the whole space. The ground as he advanced was even, and for the first few steps he could walk upright, so that it did not seem inconvenient. Suddenly, however, he came to a gradual declivity, and after a few steps he felt the bottom sinking beneath his feet. He could no longer remain upright, but sank upon his knees, and eventually sat himself down; for it gave way more and more, and the more he struggled the lower he sank. At last he bent forward with his head laid upon his knee, as he was completely exhausted, in consequence of the rapid though gradual fall of earth. How long he might have been descending he could not tell, as his self-possession had entirely deserted him; and when he recovered himself, he seemed to be just awakening out of a sound sleep. This commotion was suspended for a moment, and he felt the spot on which he was seated rising up again; but it soon descended, and continued to ascend and descend with unceasing force and rapidity. But at times he lost all consciousness, and recovered his recollection again as the motion changed and proceeded downwards. In this manner was he driven from sleeping to waking, overcome with exhaustion and perplexed with the darksomeness of his journey. How long he was in this gloomy passage he knew not: at one time he thought that the journey had been one of several days; but then this could not be so, as he had not even once experienced the cravings of hunger or thirst: as he had not suffered in this particular, he felt convinced that the time that had elapsed was much less, and that it must have appeared so from his total abstinence.

At length he perceived a small gleam of light at the farther end of this way, and by it he observed that he was in a narrow part of a subterranean chamber, which seemed scarcely large enough to admit his body. His movements, however, were so quick that he brought himself nearer and nearer to the light at every step, till at last he succeeded in extricating himself. He found himself standing upon a mount on a spot hitherto unknown to him, which was illumined by the sun from the opposite horizon. Here he remained, gazing joyously around, and breathing now for the first time the pure fresh air.

On a sudden he heard a loud warlike sound at the foot of the hill; and, on a closer inspection, he discovered several companies, ranged in battle order half-way up the hill, and preparing for the attack. Without allowing himself time for reflection, he threw the lion's tail and eagle's wing to the ground, exclaiming at the same time in a loud voice the names of the three genii of Mount Massis, "Arjeh, Neschar, Mana-Guma!"

Scarcely had he uttered the last word, when he found himself mounted upon a noble white steed with a black tail, the arrow in his left hand, and the spear in his right; and without his taking hold of the reins, which were ornamented with gold and precious stones, the tractable steed flew along the hill rapidly, and bore him safely between the two contending factions.

"What are you doing?" exclaimed Jalaladdeen in a tone of anger to both parties, who immediately ceased their hostile contentions, through their amazement at the sudden appearance of the stranger horseman. "What is the cause of this deadly feud?"

At these words a joyous train of voices proceeded from the band upon his right hand; and the combatants immediately threw down their weapons, exclaiming,

"This, this is he who shall bring peace to our people! This is the appointed Sultan! Lo! it was prophesied that he should appear upon a white horse with a black tail, upon the longest day of the year. Hail, Sultan! all hail!"

Upon this the commander of the company approached Jalaladdeen with submission, bending before him with his arms crossed upon his breast; and the troops threw themselves upon the earth, each one bowing low with his forehead to the dust.

Hereupon the leader of the opposite faction sprang forward, crying out, "Down with them! down with them!"

But Jalaladdeen's horse turned towards him instinctively, and bore him to the band.

"Why would you prolong the strife and contest?" cried he. "What is your complaint?"

"They carry arms for Gulnaschare," was the answer. "Dost thou not know that a young maiden dares to rule over a people of warlike customs—that she arrogates to herself a right to the throne, alleging that thus it hath been decreed she should reign until the son of the late banished Sultan shall appear, who is the appointed one to share the sovereignty? Canst thou be such a stranger in the country as to be ignorant of the prediction of the prophet and the astrologers? and how she has led her subjects into grievous error, to the effect that the Prince Jalaladdeen would appear in a wonderful manner in the country on the longest day of the year, and fall upon his enemies with the strength of a lion and the swiftness of an eagle?"

Upon this Jalaladdeen cried out aloud, "The people have not been led into error, nor have they been deceived; they have heard the truth. Behold, I am Jalaladdeen; and if ye do not all, to a man, cease from your hostilities, ye shall be made to feel the strength of the lion and the swiftness of the eagle."

But the leader of the party said, "What! hast thou suffered thyself to be deceived, and to be made an advocate of the imposition? Now our arms must decide it."

At these words they pressed upon him and drew near, when Jalaladdeen wielded his lance with the swiftness of lightning, and with extraordinary strength and courage beat them off, one after the other. His steed gave a joyous neigh, and bounded forward among the crowd; while the troops of Gulnaschare followed after him, seeing his perilous position.

When the enemy saw their leader weltering in his blood, and the courageous youth heading their antagonists, they fled in disorder; some even threw their arms from them, and surrendered at discretion.

Jalaladdeen and his troops pursued the fugitives; but so fleet was his steed, that he found himself alone in the midst of the flying, while his band had not yet come up. As soon as the enemy perceived this, they surrounded him and enclosed him in a large circle. In this emergency the swiftness of the eagle and the strength of the lion proved necessary to him; and his steed, as though endued with reason, turned itself about continually, shooting quick glances like lightning from its eyeballs, so that Jalaladdeen could perceive every man in the circle who stood near him. In this manner he struck them to the ground, or shot them through before they had determined upon their method of attack, or could see through his manoeuvres. But, to his astonishment, he found that he had a fresh arrow in his hand after every shot from his bow. In a short time there was a large circle of killed and wounded round him. At length his own army arrived; and the enemy again took to flight. Jalaladdeen pursued after them again, to a narrow pass, whence there was no escape. Here they threw themselves upon their faces, and humbly sought for mercy. Jalaladdeen then proceeded to the capital of the country, followed by his warriors, and accompanied by a train of many thousand prisoners and captured foes.

The news of his appearance upon the hill, and the account of the victory which he had subsequently gained, had already reached the city; and the elders poured out to the gate to meet him. The prophets and astrologers also flocked together to welcome him as the appointed Sultan, and to escort him to the royal palace. The streets through which they passed were magnificently decorated; and the joy of the populace was such as greets an ancient and once loved lord on his entry into his capital.

In the palace yard the upper officers of the household, the servants of the Court, and the slaves, were drawn up to welcome him with becoming respect. Here he dismounted from his horse, passed up the steps, and proceeded through the colonnades and antechambers which led to the throne-room, where Gulnaschare was seated, surrounded by a splendid retinue.

The royal maiden rose from her throne at his entrance; but how amazed and confused was Jalaladdeen! She was not altogether unknown to him; for he now saw before him in reality the young maid who had been so often present to him in his dreams, out of which he had been so repeatedly roused by the old woman belabouring him with her crutch. She gazed upon him with an affectionate smile; and as he drew near, she descended the steps of her throne, extended to him the golden sceptre, and touched him with the point of it.

"Hast thou the wonder-stone from Mount Massis?" said she.

Jalaladdeen was too confused to reply to her; but the gem suspended from his neck assured her as to his identity.

"That is it," said she, in continuation. "The possession of that stone proves thee destined to become my husband, and to reign over the vast empire of the Moguls, from which thou, with thy father, wast banished in thine early days."

She then took him by the hand, led him up the steps, and seated him upon the throne, bent before him, and delivered the sceptre into his hand.

"Behold," said she to the surrounding multitude, "behold your rightful sovereign! It was written in the book of fate that Janghiz his father should, in consequence of his covetousness, be driven into exile by my father Khamar; then that the innocent son, after many severe proofs and labours imposed by the King of Spirits, if deemed worthy, should share the throne with me."

"He has been tried, and is found worthy!" exclaimed all the prophets and astrologers.

"Hail to him! hail, Sultan!" immediately burst from the lips of all present in the palace; and the multitudes in the streets and approaches reiterated the shout.

Then Jalaladdeen, advancing from the throne, addressed the throng:

"Heartily do I thank Allah and the Prophet that my fate has taken so wondrous and happy a turn; but, above all, I prize my good fortune in becoming the husband of this amiable Princess."

Jalaladdeen thus concluded his address; and Gulnaschare said to him,

"Didst thou so often wish for me when I, in the guise of an old woman, roused thee night after night from thy peaceful slumbers and happy dreams with my crutch?"

"How!" exclaimed Jalaladdeen; "wast thou that hideous old woman? impossible!"

"Passing strange, perchance, it may seem; but nevertheless it is so: all things are possible to the King of Spirits, which mortal mind can barely comprehend."

The marriage ceremony was now ordered to take place; and one festivity followed another; happiness, and joy, and peace, reigned together.

Jalaladdeen ruled for many years over the kingdom of the Moguls, and enlarged it by many prosperous conquests; he brought it to a state of peace and tranquillity which it had never experienced in former years, and which, after his death, it did not long enjoy.

The Story of Haschem.



More than a thousand years ago, there lived in the famous city of Bagdad a man called Naima, who, although he was now grey with age, had still the lusty strength of earlier days. The opening of his life was devoted to trade; and in pursuit of it he made many journeys, by which he not only gained great intellectual treasures and experiences, but also acquired property, which afforded him, not certainly the means for extravagant expenditure, but still sufficient to live in comfort. He had the good sense and wisdom to be satisfied with such moderate possessions, and to enjoy them in peaceful quiet—labouring meanwhile for the improvement of his only son. Many of his acquaintance, however, sought to amass greater wealth, forgetting, as it would seem, that by such constant efforts, life itself, after its meridian, would be but lost without some new and higher enjoyment. The city of Mossul was his home in early days; but he quitted it, and took up his abode in Bagdad, partly owing to the suggestions of a friend with whom he had been on the most intimate and confidential terms from his youth—partly, too, for the sake of the education of his son, as he expected that a residence in that city would produce worthy and lasting impressions on the mind of the young man.

Bagdad was, at this time, under the rule of the famed Caliph Haroun al Raschid, and was the resort of strangers from all parts of the globe, where artists and sages of that country mingled among those of the neighbouring lands. Nor had Naima conceived a vain expectation. His son Haschem was a young man gifted with good natural abilities, and endowed with a pure unsullied heart. He used every opportunity which chance threw in his way to extend his knowledge, cultivate his mind, or to improve his disposition; nor was he deficient in bodily exercises and warlike accomplishments; so that through good discipline he became powerful in body and strong in mind. He was, therefore, as was natural enough, not only the joy and pride of his father, but was loved and esteemed by all who knew him, and was often pointed out by the elders, to others of his own age, as an example worthy of imitation. As the father saw his greatest treasure in the person of his only son, so he, with all the fervour of a well-directed mind, clung to his father.

Some years passed over them in this mutual love, heightened still more by the companionship of their friend Saad, and their happiness was full and uninterrupted. It chanced one day that Naima and Saad were taking their accustomed walk in the princely gardens adjoining the city in front of the gate. The heat of the summer's day had been diminished by a gentle rain, and the two strolled on in happy conversation, and extended their walk beyond its ordinary length. The last gardens were already left behind them, and they wandered on over green meadow-land; behind a little wood, at the entrance of which stood high palms, whose shadows invited to repose. A fresh spring gushed from a neighbouring rock, and meandered sparkling among the verdant herbage and variegated flowers.

The two friends lay down in the shade, and conversed on the dangers to which the most virtuous men are subject, and how easily one may, through passion, be led into a false step, if he allow himself to confide in his own firmness of purpose.

"I have known men," continued Saad, "who, although among the best and noblest whom I have ever known in the course of my life, were led unawares, by too great self-confidence, to an action which they might easily have avoided by a little caution, but which has been the beginning of a long chain of transgressions and vices, ending in their complete ruin."

Naima maintained that a heart accustomed from early youth to virtue would, on the contrary, not be easily led to commit a serious fault; and even if it should happen so, that it would readily find its way back from a slight error to the right road.

They talked still longer on these subjects, each endeavouring to confirm his assertions by examples. Haschem, stretched beside them, listened with attention to their instructive conversation; but suddenly he sprang to his feet, and ran quickly up the woody hill, at the foot of which they were reposing. Saad and his father looked after him with astonishment, as they could not comprehend what had occasioned his sudden departure. Then they saw that a little bird, as white as snow, was flying before him, which he was trying to catch. He was soon lost to their view among the bushes; they cried to him, and begged him to come back—but in vain. They waited for a quarter of an hour, and still Haschem did not return. Uneasy as to what had become of him, they advanced in the direction in which he had disappeared; but they could discover nothing. They called his name: the wood echoed it. At last the sun set; then said Saad,

"Let us return home: your son is a robust and strong young man; he will easily find his way back into the city. Perhaps he has gone home some other way."

After long opposition, the father was at last persuaded to return without his son; but he was still full of anxiety, which no arguments could overcome. When they arrived at the city, his friend accompanied him to his house. They entered hastily, and inquired for Haschem; but he had not returned. Saad's hopes were of no more avail; Naima would no longer listen to him, but weeping, threw himself on his couch. Saad rebuked him for this weakness, and represented to him that it might easily have happened that the young man had lost his way in the pursuit of the bird, and could not recover the track.

"He has certainly found a shelter where he will remain till morning," continued he; "he will return here early to-morrow, and will laugh heartily at your unmanly spirit and desponding grief."

When Saad was gone Naima gave free scope to his feelings. He wept aloud, tore his beard, and threw himself upon the ground, like a madman. The servants and slaves of the house stood around in motionless astonishment, as they were not accustomed to see their master exhibiting such passionate emotion; others sought to console him, but fruitlessly; so they cried and bewailed with him for his dear son, who was beloved by them all. After a sleepless night, the afflicted father was not at all quieted. He wished early in the morning to send messengers in all directions; but Saad, who had come to hear if the lost one had returned home, explained to him how foolish this step would be.

"Remember," said he, "that your Haschem has most probably found a night's lodging, and slept better than you. If he had set out on his way at daybreak, he could not be here now; and if you send these messengers after him, he may perhaps come home by a shorter path, while they will be searching for him in vain. Wait, at least, till noon."

Naima yielded: he appointed the messengers to be ready at noon, and in the meanwhile walked through the gardens and in the country round about the city, where they had been on the preceding day. His friend accompanied him, although he pointed out that Haschem might, in the interval, have reached home while they were walking, and that he was thus perhaps giving himself more grief than was necessary.

"I have given up to you in the rest," replied Naima; "let me at least in this instance have my own will, that I may walk here."

They went together to the fountain in the rock near the palms; they climbed the neighbouring heights; they called the name of the lost one in all directions; but no sound was heard in reply. At noon they went home, and asked all they met if they had not seen a young man, whom they accurately described. Nobody could give them any information about him. Naima now sent out his messengers in all directions; to each he promised a rich reward, but tenfold to that one who should lead the lost one back to his arms. They set out joyfully, each one hoping to gain the tenfold sum, and they all intended to return home in the evening; but these hopes were disappointed. Naima with earnest desire expected them in the evening; none came. At last a few returned on the third day. They had gone a day's journey in the appointed direction, had sought everywhere, had described the wanderer to all they had met, but none had seen him. The rest of the messengers also returned, one by one, and none had discovered the least trace of him. The hopes of the sorrowing father had almost disappeared: only one of the dispatched messengers was not yet come back. Although it was probable that this one might remain away without success, he still clung to the hope that he at least might discover a trace of his son, who had disappeared in so unaccountable a manner. But when this last messenger returned on the tenth day, and reported that all his researches had been without success, the parent's grief knew no bounds. His friend Saad stood by him comforting him, and inquired, together with all his friends, whether no tidings could be learned of Haschem. He could not have been killed, for then his corpse would have been found; he had no cause to conceal himself; he could not have been attacked by enemies, as he had none: might he, in the pursuit of the bird, have been led to the brink of the stream, and have thrown himself in, and been carried away by the waves? Scarcely did the possibility of this idea arise, when two messengers were dispatched to each side of the river to make fresh search, from its junction with the Euphrates above Balsora to the spot where it flows into the Arabian Sea, to ascertain if the corpse of Haschem had been washed ashore. But these messengers also returned to the anxious father, and had not found what they sought. Now the father and his friend gave up Haschem for lost; Naima's manly spirit was broken; grief for his lost son shortened his life; he soon became old: all joy had by this time fled from his mind; and his sorrow was only a little alleviated when his faithful friend Saad sat by him in the evening, talked with him of his son, relating the virtues by which he had been distinguished, and told him how it had been his darling wish that this excellent young man should marry his daughter Zoraine.



In a few days the Caliph Haroun al Raschid went, as he was accustomed, in disguise, with his Grand Vizier Giafar, and Mesrour his Chamberlain, through the streets of Bagdad, to see with his own eyes and to hear with his own ears how justice and order were maintained by his servants, and whether his people were happy and prosperous. He had, as usual, chosen the last hour of the evening for this walk, because he thought that at this time he could look deeper into men's joys and pleasures, as they had then ended their daily toils, and were seeking comfort and repose in the bosom of their family. In his progress he came to a street distinguished by peculiar silence and quiet. As he approached a house, before the door of which two men were standing whispering, Haroun al Raschid addressed them with these words:

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13     Next Part
Home - Random Browse