The "Aldine" Edition of
The Arabian Nights Entertainments
Illustrated by S. L. Wood
FROM THE TEXT OF DR. JONATHAN SCOTT
In Four Volumes
Only 500 copies of the Small Paper Edition are printed for America, of which this is No. 217
London Pickering and Chatto 1890
The Publishers' Preface.
This, the "Aldine Edition" of "The Arabian Nights Entertainments," forms the first four volumes of a proposed series of reprints of the Standard works of fiction which have appeared in the English language.
It is our intention to publish the series in an artistic way, well illustrating a text typographically as perfect as possible. The texts in all cases will be carefully chosen from approved editions.
The series is intended for those who appreciate well printed and illustrated books, or who are in want of a handy and handsome edition of such works to place upon their bookshelves.
The exact origin of the Tales, which appear in the Arabic as "The Thousand and One Nights," is unknown. The Caliph Haroon al Rusheed, who, figures in so lifelike a manner in many of the stories, was a contemporary of the Emperor Charlemagne, and there is internal evidence that the collection was made in the Arabic language about the end of the tenth century.
They undoubtedly convey a picturesque impression of the manners, sentiments, and customs of Eastern Mediaeval Life.
The stories were translated from the Arabic by M. Galland and first found their way into English in 1704, when they were retranslated from M. Galland's French text and at once became exceedingly popular.
This process of double translation had great disadvantages; it induced Dr. Jonathan Scott, Oriental Professor, to publish in 1811, a new edition, revised and corrected from the Arabic.
It is upon this text that the present edition is formed.
It will be found free from that grossness which is unavoidable in a strictly literal translation of the original into English; and which has rendered the splendid translations of Sir R. Burton and Mr. J. Payne quite unsuitable as the basis of a popular edition, though at the same time stamping the works as the two most perfect editions for the student.
The scholarly translation of Lane, by the too strict an adherence to Oriental forms of expression, and somewhat pedantic rendering of the spelling of proper names, is found to be tedious to a very large number of readers attracted by the rich imagination, romance, and humour of these tales.
Contents of Volume I.
The Ass, the Ox, and the Labourer. THE MERCHANT AND THE GENIE. The Story of the First Old Man and the Hind. The Story of the Second old Man and the Two Black Dogs. THE STORY OF THE FISHERMAN. The Story of the Grecian King and the Physician Douban. The Story of the Husband and the Parrot. The Story of the Vizier that was Punished. The History of the Young King of the Black Isles. STORY OF THE THREE CALENDERS, SONS OF SULTANS; AND OF THE FIVE LADIES OF BAGDAD. The History of the First Calender. The Story of the Second Calender. The Story of the Envious Man, and of him that he Envied. The History of the Third Calender. The Story of Zobeide. The Story of Amene. THE STORY OF SINBAD THE VOYAGER. The First Voyage. The Second Voyage. The Third Voyage. The Fourth Voyage. The Fifth Voyage. The Sixth Voyage. The Seventh and Last Voyage. THE THREE APPLES. The Story of the Lady who was Murdered, and of the Young Man her Husband. The Story of Noor ad Deen Ali and Buddir ad Deen Houssun. THE HISTORY OF GANEM, SON OF ABOU AYOUB, AND KNOWN BY THE SURNAME OF LOVE'S SLAVE.
The Arabian Nights Entertainments.
The chronicles of the Sassanians, ancient kings of Persia, who extended their empire into the Indies, over all the adjacent islands, and a great way beyond the Ganges, as far as China, acquaint us, that there was formerly a king of that potent family, who was regarded as the most excellent prince of his time. He was as much beloved by his subjects for his wisdom and prudence, as he was dreaded by his neighbours, on account of his velour, and well-disciplined troops. He had two sons; the elder Shier-ear, the worthy heir of his father, and endowed with all his virtues; the younger Shaw-zummaun, a prince of equal merit.
After a long and glorious reign, this king died; and Shier-ear mounted his throne. Shaw-zummaun, being excluded from all share in the government by the laws of the empire, and obliged to live a private life, was so far from envying the happiness of his brother, that he made it his whole business to please him, and in this succeeded without much difficulty. Shier-ear, who had naturally a great affection the prince his brother, gave him the kingdom of Great Tartary. Shaw-zummaun went immediately and took possession of it, and fixed the seat of his government at Samarcand, the metropolis of the country.
After they had been separated ten years, Shier-ear, being very desirous of seeing his brother, resolved to send an ambassador to invite him to his court. He made choice of his prime vizier for the embassy, and sent him to Tartary, with a retinue answerable to his dignity. The vizier proceeded with all possible expedition to Samarcand. When he came near the city, Shaw-zummaun was informed of his approach, and went to meet him attended by the principal lords of his court, who, to shew the greater honour to the sultan's minister, appeared in magnificent apparel. The king of Tartary received the ambassador with the greatest demonstrations of joy; and immediately asked him concerning the welfare of the sultan his brother. The vizier having acquainted him that he was in health, informed him of the purpose of his embassy. Shaw-zummaun was much affected, and answered: "Sage vizier, the sultan my brother does me too much honour; nothing could be more agreeable to me, for I as ardently long to see him as he does to see me. Time has not diminished my friendship more than his. My kingdom is in peace, and I want no more than ten days to get myself ready to return with you. There is therefore no necessity for your entering the city for so short a period. I pray you to pitch your tents here, and I will order everything necessary to be provided for yourself and your attendants." The vizier readily complied; and as soon as the king returned to the city, he sent him a prodigious quantity of provisions of all sorts, with presents of great value.
In the meanwhile, Shaw-zummaun prepared for his journey, gave orders about his most important affairs, appointed a council to govern in his absence, and named a minister, of whose wisdom he had sufficient experience, and in whom he had entire confidence, to be their president. At the end of ten days, his equipage being ready, he took leave of the queen his wife, and went out of town in the evening with his retinue. He pitched his royal pavilion near the vizier's tent, and conversed with him till midnight. Wishing once more to see the queen, whom he ardently loved, he returned alone to his palace, and went directly to her majesty's apartments. But she, not expecting his return, had taken one of the meanest officers of her household to her bed.
The king entered without noise, and pleased himself to think how he should surprise his wife who he thought loved him with reciprocal tenderness. But how great was his astonishment, when, by the light of the flambeau, he beheld a man in her arms! He stood immovable for some time, not knowing how to believe his own eyes. But finding there was no room for doubt, "How!" said he to himself, "I am scarcely out of my palace, and but just under the walls of Samarcand, and dare they put such an outrage upon me? Perfidious wretches! your crime shall not go unpunished. As a king, I am bound to punish wickedness committed in my dominions; and as an enraged husband, I must sacrifice you to my just resentment." The unfortunate prince, giving way to his rage, then drew his cimeter, and approaching the bed killed them both with one blow, their sleep into death; and afterwards taking them up, he threw them out of a window into the ditch that surrounded the palace.
Having thus avenged himself, he returned to his pavilion without saying one word of what had happened, gave orders that the tents should be struck, and everything made ready for his journey. All was speedily prepared, and before day he began his march, with kettle-drums and other instruments of music, that filled everyone with joy, excepting the king; he was so much afflicted by the disloyalty of his wife, that he was seized with extreme melancholy, which preyed upon his spirits during the whole of his journey.
When he drew near the capital of the Indies, the sultan Shier-ear and all his court came out to meet him. The princes were overjoyed to see one another, and having alighted, after mutual embraces and other marks of affection and respect, remounted, and entered the city, amidst the acclamations of the people. The sultan conducted his brother to the palace provided for him, which had a communication with his own by a garden. It was so much the more magnificent as it was set apart as a banqueting-house for public entertainments, and other diversions of the court, and its splendour had been lately augmented by new furniture.
Shier-ear immediately left the king of Tartary, that he might give him time to bathe, and to change his apparel. As soon as he had done, he returned to him again, and they sat down together on a sofa or alcove. The courtiers out of respect kept at a distance, and the two princes entertained one another suitably to their friendship, their consanguinity, and their long separation. The time of supper being come, they ate together, after which they renewed their conversation, which continued till Shier-ear, perceiving that it was very late, left his brother to repose.
The unfortunate Shaw-zummaun retired to bed. Though the conversation of his brother had suspended his grief for some time, it returned again with increased violence; so that, instead of taking his necessary rest, he tormented himself with the bitterest reflections. All the circumstances of his wife's disloyalty presented themselves afresh to his imagination, in so lively a manner, that he was like one distracted being able to sleep, he arose, and abandoned himself to the most afflicting thoughts, which made such an impression upon his countenance, as it was impossible for the sultan not to observe. "What," said he, "can be the matter with the king of Tartary that he is so melancholy? Has he any cause to complain of his reception? No, surely; I have received him as a brother whom I love, so that I can charge myself with no omission in that respect. Perhaps it grieves him to be at such a distance from his dominions, or from the queen his wife? If that be the case, I must forthwith give him the presents I designed for him, that he may return to Samarcand." Accordingly the next day Shier-ear sent him part of those presents, being the greatest rarities and the richest things that the Indies could afford. At the same time he endeavoured to divert his brother every day by new objects of pleasure, and the most splendid entertainments. But these, instead of affording him ease, only increased his sorrow.
One day, Shier-ear having appointed a great hunting-match, about two days journey from his capital, in a place that abounded with deer, Shaw-zummaun besought him to excuse his attendance, for his health would not allow him to bear him company. The sultan, unwilling to put any constraint upon him, left him at his liberty, and went a-hunting with his nobles. The king of Tartary being thus left alone, shut himself up in his apartment, and sat down at a window that looked into the garden. That delicious place, and the sweet harmony of an infinite number of birds, which chose it for their retreat, must certainly have diverted him, had he been capable of taking pleasure in anything; but being perpetually tormented with the fatal remembrance of his queen's infamous conduct, his eyes were not so much fixed upon the garden, as lifted up to heaven to bewail his misfortune.
While he was thus absorbed in grief, a circumstance occurred which attracted the whole of his attention. A secret gate of the sultan's palace suddenly opened, and there came out of it twenty women, in the midst of whom walked the sultaness, who was easily distinguished from the rest by her majestic air. This princess thinking that the king of Tartary was gone a-hunting with his brother the sultan, came with her retinue near the windows of his apartment. For the prince had so placed himself that he could see all that passed in the garden without being perceived himself. He observed, that the persons who accompanied the sultaness threw off their veils and long robes, that they might be more at their ease, but he was greatly surprised to find that ten of them were black men, and that each of these took his mistress. The sultaness, on her part, was not long without her gallant. She clapped her hands, and called "Masoud, Masoud," and immediately a black descended from a tree, and ran towards her with great speed.
Modesty will not allow, nor is it necessary, to relate what passed between the blacks and the ladies. It is sufficient to say, that Shaw-zummaun saw enough to convince him, that his brother was as much to be pitied as himself. This amorous company continued together till midnight, and having bathed together in a great piece of water, which was one of the chief ornaments of the garden, they dressed themselves, and re-entered the palace by the secret door, all except Masoud, who climbed up his tree, and got over the garden wall as he had come in.
These things having passed in the king of Tartary's sight, filled him with a multitude of reflections. "How little reason had I," said he, "to think that none was so unfortunate as myself? It is surely the unavoidable fate of all husbands, since even the sultan my brother, who is sovereign of so-many dominions, and the greatest prince of the earth, could not escape. Such being the case, what a fool am I to kill myself with grief? I am resolved that the remembrance of a misfortune so common shall never more disturb my peace."
From that moment he forbore afflicting himself. He called for his supper, ate with a better appetite than he had done since his leaving Samarcand, and listened with some degree of pleasure to the agreeable concert of vocal and instrumental music that was appointed to entertain him while at table.
He continued after this very cheerful; and when he was informed that the sultan was returning, went to meet him, and paid him his compliments with great gaiety. Shier-ear at first took no notice of this alteration. He politely expostulated with him for not bearing him company, and without giving him time to reply, entertained him with an account of the great number of deer and other game they had killed, and the pleasure he had received in the chase. Shaw-zummaun heard him with attention; and being now relieved from the melancholy which had before depressed his spirits, and clouded his talents, took up the conversation in his turn, and spoke a thousand agreeable and pleasant things to the sultan.
Shier-ear, who expected to have found him in the same state as he had left him, was overjoyed to see him so cheerful: "Dear brother," said he, "I return thanks to heaven for the happy change it has wrought in you during my absence. I am indeed extremely rejoiced. But I have a request to make to you, and conjure you not to deny me." "I can refuse you nothing," replied the king of Tartary; "you may command Shaw-zummaun as you please: speak, I am impatient to know what you desire of me." "Ever since you came to my court," resumed Shier-ear, "I have found you immersed in a deep melancholy, and I have in vain attempted to remove it by different diversions. I imagined it might be occasioned by your distance from your dominions, or that love might have a great share in it; and that the queen of Samarcand, who, no doubt, is an accomplished beauty, might be the cause. I do not know whether I am mistaken in my conjecture; but I must own, that it was for this very reason I would not importune you upon the subject, for fear of making you uneasy. But without myself contributing anything towards effecting the change, I find on my return that your mind is entirely delivered from the black vapour which disturbed it. Pray do me the favour to tell me why you were so melancholy, and wherefore you are no longer so."
The king of Tartary continued for some time as if he had been meditating and contriving what he should answer; but at last replied, "You are my sultan and master; but excuse me, I beseech you, from answering your question." "No, dear brother," said the sultan, "you must answer me, I will take no denial." Shaw-zummaun, not being able to withstand these pressing entreaties, replied, "Well then, brother, I will satisfy you, since you command me;" and having told him the story of the queen of Samarcand's treachery "This," said he, "was the cause of my grief; judge whether I had not sufficient reason for my depression."
"O! my brother," said the sultan, (in a tone which shewed what interest he took in the king of Tartary's affliction), "what a horrible event do you tell me! I commend you for punishing the traitors who offered you such an outrage. None can blame you for what you have done. It was just; and for my part, had the case been mine, I should scarcely have been so moderate. I could not have satisfied myself with the life of one woman; I should have sacrificed a thousand to my fury. I now cease to wonder at your melancholy. The cause was too afflicting and too mortifying not to overwhelm you. O heaven! what a strange adventure! Nor do I believe the like ever befell any man but yourself. But I must bless God, who has comforted you; and since I doubt not but your consolation is well-grounded, be so good as to inform me what it is, and conceal nothing from me." Shaw-zummaun was not so easily prevailed upon in this point as he had been in the other, on his brother's account. But being obliged to yield to his pressing instances, answered, "I must obey you then, since your command is absolute, yet I am afraid that my obedience will occasion your trouble to be greater than my own. But you must blame yourself, since you force me to reveal what I should otherwise have buried in eternal Oblivion." "What you say," answered Shier-ear, "serves only to increase my curiosity. Discover the secret, whatever it be." The king of Tartary being no longer able to refuse, related to him the particulars of the blacks in disguise, of the ungoverned passion of the sultaness, and her ladies; nor did he forget Masoud. After having been witness to these infamous actions, he continued, "I believed all women to be naturally lewd; and that they could not resist their inclination. Being of this opinion, it seemed to me to be in men an unaccountable weakness to place any confidence in their fidelity. This reflection brought on many others; and in short, I thought the best thing I could do was to make myself easy. It cost me some pains indeed, but at last I grew reconciled; and if you will take my advice, you will follow my example."
Though the advice was good, the sultan could not approve of it, but fell into a rage. "What!" said he, "is the sultaness of the Indies capable of prostituting herself in so base a manner! No, brother, I cannot believe what you state unless I beheld it with my own eyes. Yours must needs have deceived you; the matter is so important that I must be satisfied of it myself." "Dear brother," answered Shaw-zummaun, "that you may without much difficulty. Appoint another hunting-match, and when we are out of town with your court and mine, we will rest under our tents, and at night let you and I return unattended to my apartments. I am certain the next day you will see a repetition of the scene." The sultan approving the stratagem, immediately appointed another hunting-match. And that same day the tents were pitched at the place appointed.
The next day the two princes set out with all their retinue; they arrived at the place of encampment, and stayed there till night. Shier-ear then called his grand vizier, and, without acquainting him with his design, commanded him during his absence to suffer no person to quit the camp on any presence whatever. As soon as he had given this order, the king of Grand Tartary and he took horse, passed through the camp incognito, returned to the city, and went to Shaw-zummaun's apartment. They had scarcely placed themselves in the window whence the king of Tartary had beheld the scene of the disguised blacks, when the secret gate opened, the sultaness and her ladies entered the garden with the blacks, and she having called to Masoud, the sultan saw more than enough fully to convince him of his dishonour and misfortune.
"Oh heavens!" he exclaimed, "what indignity! What horror! Can the wife of a sovereign be capable of such infamous conduct? After this, let no prince boast of being perfectly happy. Alas! my brother," continued he, embracing the king of Tartery, "let us both renounce the world, honour is banished out of it; if it flatter us one day, it betrays us the next. Let us abandon our dominions, and go into foreign countries, where we may lead an obscure life, and conceal our misfortunes." Shaw-zummaun did not at all approve of this plan, but did not think fit to contradict Shierear in the heat of his passion. "Dear brother," he replied, "your will shall be mine. I am ready to follow you whithersoever you please: but promise me that you will return, if we meet with any one more unhappy than ourselves." "To this I agree," said the sultan, "but doubt much whether we shall." "I am not of your opinion in this," replied the king of Tartary; "I fancy our journey will be but short." Having thus resolved, they went secretly out of the palace. They travelled as long as day-light continued; and lay the first night under trees. They arose about break of day, went on till they came to a fine meadow on the seashore, that was be-sprinkled with large trees They sat down under one of them to rest and refresh themselves, and the chief subject of their conversation was the infidelity or their wives.
They had not rested long, before they heard a frightful noise from the sea, and a terrible cry, which filled them with fear. The sea then opened, and there arose something like a great black column, which reached almost to the clouds. This redoubled their terror, made them rise with haste, and climb up into a tree to bide themselves. They had scarcely got up, when looking to the place from whence the noise proceeded, and where the sea had opened, they observed that the black column advanced, winding about towards the shore, cleaving the water before it. They could not at first think what this could mean, but in a little time they found that it was one of those malignant genies that are mortal enemies to mankind, and are always doing them mischief. He was black and frightful, had the shape of a giant, of a prodigious stature, and carried on his head a large glass box, fastened with four locks of fine steel. He entered the meadow with his burden, which he laid down just at the foot of the tree where the two princes were concealed, who gave themselves over as lost. The genie sat down by his box, and opening it with four keys that he had at his girdle, there came out a lady magnificently appareled, of a majestic stature, and perfect beauty. The monster made her sit down by him, and eyeing her with an amorous look, said, "Lady, nay, most accomplished of all ladies who are admired for their beauty, my charming mistress, whom I carried off on your wedding-day, and have loved so constantly ever since, let me sleep a few moments by you; for I found myself so very drowsy that I came to this place to take a little rest." Having spoken thus, he laid down his huge head upon the lady's knees, and stretching out his legs, which reached as far as the sea, he fell asleep presently, and snored so loud that he made the shores echo.
The lady happening at this time to look up, saw the two princes in the tree, and made a sign to them with her hand to come down without making any noise. Their fear was extreme when they found themselves discovered, and they prayed the lady, by other signs, to excuse them. But she, after having laid the monster's head softly on the ground, rose up and spoke to them, with a low but eager voice, to come down to her; she would take no denial. They informed her by signs that they were afraid of the genie, and would fain have been excused. Upon which she ordered them to come down, and threatened if they did not make haste, to awaken the genie, and cause him to put them to death.
These words so much intimidated the princes, that they began to descend with all possible precaution lest they should awake the genie. When they had come down, the lady took them by the hand, and going a little farther with them under the trees, made them a very urgent proposal. At first they rejected it, but she obliged them to comply by her threats. Having obtained what she desired, she perceived that each of them had a ring on his finger, which she demanded. As soon as she had received them, she pulled out a string of other rings, which she shewed the princes, and asked them if they knew what those jewels meant? "No," said they, "we hope you will be pleased to inform us." "These are," she replied, "the rings of all the men to whom I have granted my favours. There are fourscore and eighteen, which I keep as memorials of them; and I asked for yours to make up the hundred. So that I have had a hundred gallants already, notwithstanding the vigilance of this wicked genie, who never leaves me. He may lock me up in this glass box and hide me in the bottom of the sea; but I find methods to elude his vigilance. You may see by this, that when a woman has formed a project, there is no husband or lover that can prevent her from putting it in execution. Men had better not put their wives under such restraint, as it only serves to teach them cunning." Having spoken thus to them, she put their rings on the same string with the rest, and sitting down by the monster, as before, laid his head again upon her lap, end made a sign to the princes to depart.
They returned immediately the way they had come, and when they were out of sight of the lady and the genie Shier-ear said to Shaw-zummaun "Well, brother, what do you think of this adventure? Has not the genie a very faithful mistress? And do you not agree that there is no wickedness equal to that of women?" "Yes, brother," answered the king of Great Tartary; "and you must also agree that the monster is more unfortunate, and more to be pitied than ourselves. Therefore, since we have found what we sought for, let us return to our dominions, and let not this hinder us from marrying. For my part, I know a method by which to preserve the fidelity of my wife inviolable. I will say no more at present, but you will hear of it in a little time, and I am sure you will follow my example." The sultan agreed with his brother; and continuing their journey, they arrived in the camp the third night after their departure.
The news of the sultan's return being spread, the courtiers came betimes in the morning before his pavilion to wait his pleasure. He ordered them to enter, received them with a more pleasant air than he had formerly done, and gave each of them a present. After which, he told them he would go no farther, ordered them to take horse, and returned with expedition to his palace.
As soon as he arrived, he proceeded to the sultaness's apartment, commanded her to be bound before him, and delivered her to his grand vizier, with an order to strangle her, which was accordingly executed by that minister, without inquiring into her crime. The enraged prince did not stop here, but cut off the heads of all the sultaness's ladies with his own hand. After this rigorous punishment, being persuaded that no woman was chaste, he resolved, in order to prevent the disloyalty of such as he should afterwards marry, to wed one every night, and have her strangled next morning. Having imposed this cruel law upon himself, he swore that he would put it in force immediately after the departure of the king of Tartary, who shortly took leave of him, and being laden with magnificent presents, set forward on his journey.
Shaw-zummaun having departed, Shier-ear ordered his grand vizier to bring him the daughter of one of his generals. The vizier obeyed. The sultan lay with her, and putting her next morning into his hands again in order to have her strangled, commanded him to provide him another the next night. Whatever reluctance the vizier might feel to put such orders in execution, as he owed blind obedience to the sultan his master, he was forced to submit. He brought him then the daughter of a subaltern, whom he also put to death the next day. After her he brought a citizen's daughter; and, in a word, there was every day a maid married, and a wife murdered.
The rumour of this unparalleled barbarity occasioned a general consternation in the city, where there was nothing but crying and lamentation. Here, a father in tears, and inconsolable for the loss of his daughter; and there, tender mothers dreating lest their daughters should share the same fate, filling the air with cries of distress and apprehension. So that, instead of the commendation and blessings which the sultan had hitherto received from his subjects, their mouths were now filled with imprecations.
The grand vizier who, as has been already observed, was the unwilling executioner of this horrid course of injustice, had two daughters, the elder called Scheherazade, and the younger Dinarzade. The latter was highly accomplished; but the former possessed courage, wit, and penetration, infinitely above her sex. She had read much, and had so admirable a memory, that she never forgot any thing she had read. She had successfully applied herself to philosophy, medicine, history, and the liberal arts; and her poetry excelled the compositions of the best writers of her time. Besides this, she was a perfect beauty, and all her accomplishments were crowned by solid virtue.
The vizier loved this daughter, so worthy of his affection. One day, as they were conversing together, she said to him, "Father, I have one favour to beg of you, and most humbly pray you to grant it." "I will not refuse," answered he, "provided it be just and reasonable." "For the justice of it," resumed she, "there can be no question, and you may judge of this by the motive which obliges me to make the request. I wish to stop that barbarity which the sultan exercises upon the families of this city. I would dispel those painful apprehensions which so many mothers feel of losing their daughters in such a fatal manner." "Your design, daughter," replied the vizier "is very commendable; but the evil you would remedy seems to me incurable. How do you propose to effect your purpose?" "Father," said Scheherazade, "since by your means the sultan makes every day a new marriage, I conjure you, by the tender affection you bear me, to procure me the honour of his bed." The vizier could not hear this without horror. "O heaven!" he replied in a passion, "have you lost your senses, daughter, that you make such a dangerous request? You know the sultan has sworn, that he will never lie above one night with the same woman, and to command her to be killed the next morning; would you then have me propose you to him? Consider well to what your indiscreet zeal will expose you." "Yes, dear father," replied the virtuous daughter, "I know the risk I run; but that does not alarm me. If I perish, my death will be glorious; and if I succeed, I shall do my country an important service." "No, no," said the vizier "whatever you may offer to induce me to let you throw yourself into such imminent danger, do not imagine that I will ever consent. When the sultan shall command me to strike my poniard into your heart, alas! I must obey; and what an employment will that be for a father! Ah! if you do not dread death, at least cherish some fears of afflicting me with the mortal grief of imbuing my hands in your blood." "Once more father," replied Scheherazade, "grant me the favour I solicit." "Your stubbornness," resumed the vizier "will rouse my anger; why will you run headlong to your ruin? They who do not foresee the end of a dangerous enterprise can never conduct it to a happy issue. I am afraid the same thing will happen to you as befell the ass, which was well off, but could not remain so." "What misfortune befell the ass?" demanded Scheherazade. "I will tell you," replied the vizier, "if you will hear me."
The Ass, the Ox, and the Labourer.
A very wealthy merchant possessed several country-houses, where he kept a large number of cattle of every kind. He retired with his wife and family to one of these estates, in order to improve it under his own direction. He had the gift of understanding the language of beasts, but with this condition, that he should not, on pain of death, interpret it to any one else. And this hindered him from communicating to others what he learned by means of this faculty.
He kept in the same stall an ox and an ass. One day as he sat near them, and was amusing himself in looking at his children who were playing about him, he heard the ox say to the ass, "Sprightly, O! how happy do I think you, when I consider the ease you enjoy, and the little labour that is required of you. You are carefully rubbed down and washed, you have well-dressed corn, and fresh clean water. Your greatest business is to carry the merchant, our master, when he has any little journey to make, and were it not for that you would be perfectly idle. I am treated in a very different manner, and my condition is as deplorable as yours is fortunate. Daylight no sooner appears than I am fastened to a plough, and made to work till night, which so fatigues me, that sometimes my strength entirely fails. Besides, the labourer, who is always behind me, beats me continually. By drawing the plough, my tail is all flayed; and in short, after having laboured from morning to night, when I am brought in they give me nothing to eat but sorry dry beans, not so much as cleansed from dirt, or other food equally bad; and to heighten my misery, when I have filled my belly with such ordinary stuff, I am forced to lie all night in my own dung: so that you see I have reason to envy your lot."
The ass did not interrupt the ox; but when he had concluded, answered, "They that called you a foolish beast did not lie. You are too simple; you suffer them to conduct you whither they please, and shew no manner of resolution. In the mean time, what advantage do you reap from all the indignities you suffer. You kill yourself for the ease, pleasure, and profit of those who give you no thanks for your service. But they would not treat you so, if you had as much courage as strength. When they come to fasten you to the stall, why do you not resist? why do you not gore them with your horns, and shew that you are angry, by striking your foot against the ground? And, in short, why do not you frighten them by bellowing aloud? Nature has furnished you with means to command respect; but you do not use them. They bring you sorry beans and bad straw; eat none of them, only smell and then leave them. If you follow my advice, you will soon experience a change, for which you will thank me."
The ox took the ass's advice in very good part, and owned he was much obliged to him. "Dear Sprightly," added he, "I will not fail to do as you direct, and you shall see how I will acquit myself." Here ended their conversation, of which the merchant lost not a word.
Early the next morning the labourer went for the ox. He fastened him to the plough and conducted him to his usual work. The ox, who had not forgotten the ass's counsel, was very troublesome and untowardly all that day, and in the evening, when the labourer brought him back to the stall, and began to fasten him, the malicious beast instead of presenting his head willingly as he used to do, was restive, and drew back bellowing; and then made at the labourer, as if he would have gored him with his horns. In a word, he did all that the ass had advised him. The day following, the labourer came as usual, to take the ox to his labour; but finding the stall full of beans, the straw that he had put in the night before not touched, and the ox lying on the ground with his legs stretched out, and panting in a strange manner, he believed him to be unwell, pitied him, and thinking that it was not proper to take him to work, went immediately and acquainted his master with his condition. The merchant perceiving that the ox had followed all the mischievous advice of the ass, determined to punish the latter, and accordingly ordered the labourer to go and put him in the ox's place, and to be sure to work him hard. The labourer did as he was desired. The ass was forced to draw the plough all that day, which fatigued him so much the more, as he was not accustomed to that kind of labour; besides he had been so soundly beaten, that he could scarcely stand when he came back.
Meanwhile, the ox was mightily pleased; he ate up all that was in his stall, and rested himself the whole day. He rejoiced that he had followed the ass's advice, blessed him a thousand times for the kindness he had done him, and did not fail to express his obligations when the ass had returned. The ass made no reply, so vexed was he at the ill treatment he had received; but he said within himself, "It is by my own imprudence I have brought this misfortune upon myself. I lived happily, every thing smiled upon me; I had all that I could wish; it is my own fault that I am brought to this miserable condition; and if I cannot contrive some way to get out of it, I am certainly undone." As he spoke, his strength was so much exhausted that he fell down in his stall, as if he had been half dead.
Here the grand vizier, himself to Scheherazade, and said, "Daughter, you act just like this ass; you will expose yourself to destruction by your erroneous policy. Take my advice, remain quiet, and do not seek to hasten your death." "Father," replied Scheherazade, "the example you have set before me will not induce me to change my resolution. I will never cease importuning you until you present me to the sultan as his bride." The vizier, perceiving that she persisted in her demand, replied, "Alas! then, since you will continue obstinate, I shall be obliged to treat you in the same manner as the merchant whom I before referred to treated his wife a short time after."
The merchant understanding that the ass was in a lamentable condition, was desirous of knowing what passed between him and the ox, therefore after supper he went out by moonlight, and sat down by them, his wife bearing him company. After his arrival, he heard the ass say to the ox "Comrade, tell me, I pray you, what you intend to do to-morrow, when the labourer brings you meat?" "What will I do?" replied the ox, "I will continue to act as you taught me. I will draw back from him and threaten him with my horns, as I did yesterday: I will feign myself ill, and at the point of death." "Beware of that," replied the ass, "it will ruin you; for as I came home this evening, I heard the merchant, our master, say something that makes me tremble for you." "Alas! what did you hear?" demanded the ox; "as you love me, withhold nothing from me, my dear Sprightly." "Our master," replied the ass, "addressed himself thus to the labourer: Since the ox does not eat, and is not able to work, I would have him killed to-morrow, and we will give his flesh as an alms to the poor for God's sake, as for the skin, that will be of use to us, and I would have you give it the currier to dress; therefore be sure to send for the butcher.' This is what I had to tell you," said the ass. "The interest I feel in your preservation, and my friendship for you, obliged me to make it known to you, and to give you new advice. As soon as they bring you your bran and straw, rise up and eat heartily. Our master will by this think that you are recovered, and no doubt will recall his orders for killing you; but, if you act otherwise, you will certainly be slaughtered."
This discourse had the effect which the ass designed. The ox was greatly alarmed, and bellowed for fear. The merchant, who heard the conversation very attentively, fell into a loud fit of laughter. His wife was greatly surprised, and asked, "Pray, husband, tell me what you laugh at so heartily, that I may laugh with you." "Wife," replied he, "you must content yourself with hearing me laugh." "No," returned she, "I will know the reason." "I cannot afford you that satisfaction," he, "and can only inform you that I laugh at what our ass just now said to the ox. The rest is a secret, which I am not allowed to reveal." "What," demanded she "hinders you from revealing the secret?" "If I tell it you," replied he, "I shall forfeit my life." "You only jeer me," cried his wife, "what you would have me believe cannot be true. If you do not directly satisfy me as to what you laugh at, and tell me what the ox and the ass said to one another, I swear by heaven that you and I shall never bed together again."
Having spoken thus, she went into the house, and seating herself in a corner, cried there all night. Her husband lay alone, and finding next morning that she continued in the same humour, told her, she was very foolish to afflict herself in that manner; that the thing was not worth so much; that it concerned her very little to know while it was of the utmost consequence to him to keep the secret: "therefore," continued he, "I conjure you to think no more of it." "I shall still think so much of it," replied she, "as never to forbear weeping till you have satisfied my curiosity." "But I tell you very seriously," answered he, "that it will cost me my life if I yield to your indiscreet solicitations." "Let what will happen," said she, "I do insist upon it." "I perceive," resumed the merchant, "that it is impossible to bring you to reason, and since I foresee that you will occasion your own death by your obstinacy, I will call in your children, that they may see you before you die." Accordingly he called for them, and sent for her father and mother, and other relations. When they were come and had heard the reason of their being summoned, they did all they could to convince her that she was in the wrong, but to no purpose: she told them she would rather die than yield that point to her husband. Her father and mother spoke to her by herself, and told her that what she desired to know was of no importance to her; but they could produce no effect upon her, either by their authority or intreaties. When her children saw that nothing would prevail to draw her out of that sullen temper, they wept bitterly. The merchant himself was half frantic, and almost ready to risk his own life to save that of his wife, whom he sincerely loved.
The merchant had fifty hens and one cock, with a dog that gave good heed to all that passed. While the merchant was considering what he had best do, he saw his dog run towards the cock as he was treading a hen, and heard him say to him: "Cock, I am sure heaven will not let you live long; are you not ashamed to ad thus to-day?" The cock standing up on tiptoe, answered fiercely: "And why not to-day as well as other days?" "If you do not know," replied the dog, "then I will tell you, that this day our master is in great perplexity. His wife would have him reveal a secret which is of such a nature, that the disclosure would cost him his life. Things are come to that pass, that it is to be feared he will scarcely have resolution enough to resist his wife's obstinacy; for he loves her, and is affected by the tears she continually sheds. We are all alarmed at his situation, while you only insult our melancholy, and have the impudence to divert yourself with your hens."
The cock answered the dog's reproof thus: "What, has our master so little sense? he has but one wife, and cannot govern her, and though I have fifty, I make them all do what I please. Let him use his reason, he will soon find a way to rid himself of his trouble." "How?" demanded the dog; "what would you have him do?" "Let him go into the room where his wife is," resumed the cock, "lock the door, and take a stick and thrash her well; and I will answer for it, that will bring her to her senses, and make her forbear to importune him to discover what he ought not to reveal." The merchant had no sooner heard what the cock said, than he took up a stick, went to his wife, whom he found still crying, and shutting the door, belaboured her so soundly, that she cried out, "Enough, husband, enough, forbear, and I will never ask the question more." Upon this, perceiving that she repented of her impertinent curiosity, he desisted; and opening the door, her friends came in, were glad to find her cured of her obstinacy, and complimented her husband upon this happy expedient to bring his wife to reason.
"Daughter," added the grand vizier, "you deserve to be treated as the merchant treated his wife."
"Father," replied Scheherazade, "I beg you would not take it ill that I persist in my opinion. I am nothing moved by the story of this woman. I could relate many, to persuade you that you ought not to oppose my design. Besides, pardon me for declaring, that your opposition is vain; for if your paternal affection should hinder you from granting my request, I will go and offer myself to the sultan." In short, the father, being overcome by the resolution of his daughter, yielded to her importunity, and though he was much grieved that he could not divert her from so fatal a resolution, he went instantly to acquaint the sultan, that next night he would bring him Scheherazade.
The sultan was much surprized at the sacrifice which the grand vizier proposed to make. "How could you", said he, "resolve to bring me your own daughter?" "Sir," answered the vizier, "it is her own offer. The sad destiny that awaits her could not intimidate her; she prefers the honour of being your majesty's wile for one night, to her life." "But do not act under a mistake, vizier," said the sultan; "to-morrow when I place Scheherazade in your hands, I expect you will put her to death; and if you fail, I swear that your own life shall answer." "Sir," rejoined the vizier "my heart without doubt will be full of grief to execute your commands; but it is to no purpose for nature to murmur. Though I am her father, I will answer for the fidelity of my hand to obey your order." Shier-ear accepted his minister's offer, and told him he might bring his daughter when he pleased.
The grand vizier went with the intelligence to Schcherazade, who received it with as much joy as if it had been the most agreeable information she could have received. She thanked her father for having so greatly obliged her; and perceiving that he was overwhelmed with grief, told him for his consolation, that she hoped he would never repent of having married her to the sultan; and that, on the contrary, he should have reason to rejoice at his compliance all his days.
Her business now was to adorn herself to appear before the sultan; but before she went, she took her sister Dinarzade apart, and said to her, "My dear sister, I have need of your assistance in a matter of great importance, and must pray you not to deny it me. My father is going to conduct me to the sultan; do not let this alarm you, but hear me with patience. As soon as I am in his presence, I will pray him to allow you to lie in the bride-chamber, that I may enjoy your company this one night more. If I obtain that favour, as I hope to do, remember to awake me to-morrow an hour before day, and to address me in these or some such words: 'My sister, if you be not asleep, I pray you that till day-break, which will be very shortly, you will relate to me one of the entertaining stories of which you have read so many.' I will immediately tell you one; and I hope by this means to deliver the city from the consternation it is under at present." Dinarzade answered that she would with pleasure act as she required her.
The grand vizier conducted Schcherazade to the palace, and retired, after having introduced her into the sultan's apartment. As soon as the sultan was left alone with her, he ordered her to uncover her face: he found her so beautiful that he was perfectly charmed; but perceiving her to be in tears, demanded the reason. "Sir," answered Scheherazade, "I have a sister who loves me tenderly, and I could wish that she might be allowed to pass the night in this chamber, that I might see her, and once more bid her adieu. Will you be pleased to allow me the consolation of giving her this last testimony of my affection?" Shier-ear having consented, Dinarzade was sent for, who came with all possible expedition.
An hour before day, Dinarzade failed not to do as her sister had ordered. "My dear sister," cried she, "if you be not asleep, I pray that until daybreak, which will be very shortly, you will tell me one of those pleasant stories you have read. Alas! this may perhaps be the last time that I shall enjoy that pleasure."
Scheherazade, instead of answering her sister, addressed herself to the sultan: "Sir, will your majesty be pleased to allow me to afford my sister this satisfaction?" "With all my heart," replied the sultan. Scheherazade then bade her sister attend, and afterwards, addressing herself to Shier-ear, proceeded as follows.
THE MERCHANT AND THE GENIE.
There was formerly a merchant who possessed much property in lands, goods, and money, and had a great number of clerks, factors, and slaves. He was obliged from time to time to visit his correspondents on business; and one day being under the necessity of going a long journey on an affair of importance, he took horse, and carried with him a wallet containing biscuits and dates, because he had a great desert to pass over, where he could procure no sort of provisions. He arrived without any accident at the end of his journey; and having dispatched his affairs, took horse again, in order to return home.
The fourth day of his journey, he was so much incommoded by the heat of the sun, and the reflection of that heat from the earth, that he turned out of the road, to refresh himself under some trees. He found at the root of a large tree a fountain of very clear running water. Having alighted, he tied his horse to a branch, and sitting down by the fountain, took some biscuits and dates out of his wallet. As he ate his dates, he threw the shells carelessly in different directions. When he had finished his repast, being a good Moosulmaun, he washed his hands, face, and feet, and said his prayers. Before he had finished, and while he was yet on his knees, he saw a genie, white with age, and of a monstrous bulk, advancing towards him with a cimeter in his hand. The genie spoke to him in a terrible voice: "Rise, that I may kill thee with this cimeter, as thou hast killed my son;" and accompanied these words with a frightful cry. The merchant being as much alarmed at the hideous shape of the monster as at his threatening language, answered him, trembling, "Alas! my good lord, of what crime can I be guilty towards you, that you should take away my life?" "I will," replied the genie, "kill thee, as thou hast killed my son." "Heavens," exclaimed the merchant, "how could I kill your son? I never knew, never saw him." "Did not you sit down when you came hither?" demanded the genie: "did you not take dates out of your wallet, and as you ate them, did not you throw the shells about in different directions?" "I did all that you say," answered the merchant, "I cannot deny it." "If it be so," resumed the genie, "I tell thee that thou hast killed my son; and in this manner: When thou wert throwing the shells about, my son was passing by, and thou didst throw one into his eye, which killed him; therefore I must kill thee." "Ah! my lord! pardon me!" cried the merchant. "No pardon," exclaimed the genie, "no mercy. Is it not just to kill him that has killed another?" "I agree it is," replied the merchant, "but certainly I never killed your son; and if I have, it was unknown to me, and I did it innocently; I beg you therefore to pardon me, and suffer me to live." "No, no," returned the genie, persisting in his resolution, "I must kill thee, since thou hast killed my son." Then taking the merchant by the arm, he threw him with his face on the ground, and lifted up his cimeter to cut off his head.
The merchant, with tears, protested he was innocent, bewailed his wife and children, and supplicated the genie, in the most moving expressions. The genie, with his cimeter still lifted up, had the patience to hear his unfortunate victims to the end of his lamentations, but would not relent. "All this whining," said the monster, "is to no purpose; though you should shed tears of blood, they should not hinder me from killing thee, as thou hast killed my son." "What!" exclaimed the merchant, "can nothing prevail with you? Will you absolutely take away the life of a poor innocent?" "Yes," replied the genie, "I am resolved."
As soon as she had spoken these words, perceiving it was day, and knowing that the sultan rose early in the morning to say his prayers, and hold his council, Scheherazade discontinued her story. "Dear sister," said Dinarzade, "what a wonderful story is this!" "The remainder of it," replied Scheherazade "is more surprising, and you will be of this opinion, if the sultan will but permit me to live over this day, and allow me to proceed with the relation the ensuing night." Shier-ear, who had listened to Scheherazade with much interest, said to himself, "I will wait till to-morrow, for I can at any time put her to death when she has concluded her story." Having thus resolved not to put Scheherazade to death that day, he rose and went to his prayers, and to attend his council.
During this time the grand vizier was in the utmost distress. Instead of sleeping, he spent the night in sighs and groans, bewailing the lot of his daughter, of whom he believed he should himself shortly be the executioner. As, with this melancholy prospect before him, he dreaded to meet the sultan, he was agreeably surprised when he found the prince entered the council chamber without giving him the fatal orders he expected.
The sultan, according to his custom, spent the day in regulating his affairs; and when the night had closed in, retired with Scheherazade. The next morning before day, Dinarzade failed not to call to her sister: "My dear sister, if you be not asleep, I pray you till day-break, which is very near, to go on with the story you began last night." The sultan, without waiting for Scheherazade to ask his permission, bade her proceed with the story of the genie and the merchant; upon which Scheherazade continued her relation as follows. [FN: In the original work Scheherazade continually breaks off to ask the sultan to spare her life for another day, that she may finish the story she is relating. As these interruptions considerably interfere with the continued interest of the stories, it has been deemed advisable to omit them.]
When the merchant saw that the genie was going to cut off his head, he cried out aloud to him, "For heaven's sake hold your hand! Allow me one word. Have the goodness to grant me some respite, to bid my wife and children adieu, and to divide my estate among them by will, that they may not go to law after my death. When I have done this, I will come back and submit to whatever you shall please to command." "But," said the genie, "if I grant you the time you ask, I doubt you will never return?" "If you will believe my oath," answered the merchant, "I swear by all that is sacred, that I will come and meet you here without fail." "What time do you require then?" demanded the genie. "I ask a year," said the merchant; "I cannot in less settle my affairs, and prepare myself to die without regret. But I promise you, that this day twelve months I will return under these trees, to put myself into your hands." "Do you take heaven to be witness to this promise?" said the genie. "I do," answered the merchant, "and you may rely on my oath." Upon this the genie left him near the fountain, and disappeared.
The merchant being recovered from his terror, mounted his horse, and proceeded on his journey, glad on the one hand that he had escaped so great a danger, but grieved on the other, when he reflected on his fatal oath. When he reached home, his wife and children received him with all the demonstrations of perfect joy. But he, instead of returning their caresses, wept so bitterly, that his family apprehended something calamitous had befallen him. His wife enquire reason of his excessive grief and tears; "We are all overjoyed," said she, "at your return; but you alarm us by your lamentations; pray tell us the cause of your sorrow." "Alas!" replied the husband, "I have but a year to live." He then related what had passed betwixt him and the genie, and informed her that he had given him his oath to return at the end of the year, to receive death from his hands.
When they heard this afflicting intelligence, they all began to lament in the most distressing manner. His wife uttered the most piteous cries, beat her face, and tore her hair. The children, all in tears, made the house resound with their groans; and the father, not being able to resist the impulse of nature, mingled his tears with theirs: so that, in a word, they exhibited the most affecting spectacle possible.
On the following morning the merchant applied himself to put his affairs in order; and first of all to pay his debts. He made presents to his friends, gave liberal alms to the poor, set his slaves of both sexes at liberty, divided his property among his children, appointed guardians for such of them as were not of age; and after restoring to his wife all that was due to her by their marriage contract, he gave her in addition as much as the law would allow him.
At last the year expired, and he was obliged to depart. He put his burial clothes in his wallet; but when he came to bid his wife and children adieu, their grief surpassed description. They could not reconcile their minds to the separation, but resolved to go and die with him. When, however, it became necessary for him to tear himself from these dear objects, he addressed them in the following terms: "My dear wife and children, I obey the will of heaven in quitting you. Follow my example, submit with fortitude to this necessity, and consider that it is the destiny of man to die." Having thus spoken, he went out of the hearing of the cries of his family; and pursuing his journey, arrived on the day appointed at the place where he had promised to meet the genie. He alighted, and seating himself down by the fountain, waited the coming of the genie, with all the sorrow imaginable. Whilst he languished under this painful expectation, an old man leading a hind appeared and drew near him. After they had saluted one another, the old man said to him, "Brother, may I ask why you are come into this desert place, which is possessed solely by evil spirits, and where consequently you cannot be safe? From the beautiful trees which are seen here, one might indeed suppose the place inhabited; but it is in reality a wilderness, where it is dangerous to remain long."
The merchant satisfied his curiosity, and related to him the adventure which obliged him to be there. The old man listened with astonishment, and when he had done, exclaimed, "This is the most surprising thing in the world! and you are bound by the most inviolable oath. However, I will be witness of your interview with the genie." He then seated himself by the merchant, and they entered into conversation.
"But I see day," said Scheherazade, "and must leave off; yet the best of the story is to come." The sultan resolving to hear the end of it, suffered her to live that day also.
The next morning Dinarzade made the same request to her sister as before: "My dear sister," said she, "if you be not asleep, tell me one of those pleasant stories that you have read." But the sultan, wishing to learn what followed betwixt the merchant and the genie, bade her proceed with that, which she did as follows.
Sir, while the merchant and the old man who led the hind were conversing, they saw another old man coming towards them, followed by two black dogs; after they had saluted one another, he asked them what they did in that place? The old man with the hind told him the adventure of the merchant and genie, with all that had passed between them, particularly the merchant's oath. He added, that it was the day agreed on, and that he was resolved to stay and see the issue.
The second old man thinking it also worth his curiosity, resolved to do the same, and took his seat by them. They had scarcely begun to converse together, when there arrived a third old man leading a mule. He addressed himself to the two former, and asked why the merchant who sat with them looked so melancholy? They told him the reason, which appeared to him so extraordinary, that he also resolved to witness the result; and for that purpose sat down with them.
In a short time they perceived a thick vapour, like a cloud of dust raised by a whirlwind, advancing towards them. When it had come up to them it suddenly vanished, and the genie appeared; who, without saluting them, went to the merchant with a drawn cimeter, and taking him by the arm, said, "Get thee up, that I may kill thee, as thou didst my son." The merchant and the three old men began to lament and fill the air with their cries.
When the old man who led the hind saw the genie lay hold of the merchant, and about to kill him, he threw himself at the feet of the monster, and kissing them, said to him, "Prince of genies, I most humbly request you to suspend your anger, and do me the favour to hear me. I will tell you the history of my life, and of the hind you see; and if you think it more wonderful and surprising than the adventure of the merchant, I hope you will pardon the unfortunate man a third of his offence." The genie took some time to deliberate on this proposal, but answered at last, "Well then, I agree."
The Story of the First Old Man and the Hind.
I shall begin my story then; listen to me, I pray you, with attention. This hind you see is my cousin; nay, what is more, my wife. She was only twelve years of age when I married her, so that I may justly say, she ought to regard me equally as her father, her kinsman, and her husband.
We lived together twenty years, without any children. Her barrenness did not effect any change in my love; I still treated her with much kindness and affection. My desire of having children only induced me to purchase a slave, by whom I had a son, who was extremely promising. My wife being jealous, cherished a hatred for both mother and child, but concealed her aversion so well, that I knew nothing of it till it was too late.
Mean time my son grew up, and was ten years old, when I was obliged to undertake a long journey. Before I went, I recommended to my wife, of whom I had no mistrust, the slave and her son, and prayed her to take care of them during my absence, which was to be for a whole year. She however employed that time to satisfy her hatred. She applied herself to magic, and when she had learnt enough of that diabolical art to execute her horrible design, the wretch carried my son to a desolate place, where, by her enchantments, she changed him into a calf, and gave him to my farmer to fatten, pretending she had bought him. Her enmity did not stop at this abominable action, but she likewise changed the slave into a cow, and gave her also to my farmer.
At my return, I enquired for the mother and child. "Your slave," said she, "is dead; and as for your son, I know not what is become of him, I have not seen him this two months." I was afflicted at the death of the slave, but as she informed me my son had only disappeared, I was in hopes he would shortly return. However, eight months passed, and I heard nothing of him. When the festival of the great Bairam was to be celebrated, I sent to my farmer for one of the fattest cows to sacrifice. He accordingly sent me one, and the cow which was brought me proved to be my slave, the unfortunate mother of my son. I bound her, but as I was going to sacrifice her, she bellowed piteously, and I could perceive tears streaming from her eyes. This seemed to me very extraordinary, and finding myself moved with compassion, I could not find in my heart to give her a blow, but ordered my farmer to get me another.
My wife, who was present, was enraged at my tenderness, and resisting an order which disappointed her malice, she cried out, "What are you doing, husband? Sacrifice that cow; your farmer has not a finer, nor one fitter for the festival." Out of deference to my wife, I came again to the cow, and combating my compassion, which suspended the sacrifice, was going to give her the fatal blow, when the victim redoubling her tears, and bellowing, disarmed me a second time. I then put the mallet into the farmer's hands, and desired him to take it and sacrifice her himself, for her tears and bellowing pierced my heart.
The farmer, less compassionate than myself; sacrificed her; but when he flayed her, found her to be nothing except bones, though to she seemed very fat. "Take her yourself," said I to him, "dispose of her in alms, or any way you please: and if you have a very fat calf, bring it me in her stead." I did not enquire what he did with the cow, but soon after he had taken her away, he returned with a fat calf. Though I knew not the calf was my son, yet I could not forbear being moved at the sight of him. On his part, as soon as he beheld me, he made so great an effort to come near me, that he broke his cord, threw himself at my feet, with his head against the ground, as if he meant to excite my compassion, conjuring me not to be so cruel as to take his life; and did as much as was possible for him, to signify that he was my son.
I was more surprised and affected with this action, than with the tears of the cow. I felt a tender pity, which interested me on his behalf, or rather, nature did its duty. "Go," said I to the farmer, "carry home that calf, take great care of him, and bring me another in his stead immediately."
As soon as my wife heard me give this order, she exclaimed, "What are you about, husband? Take my advice, sacrifice no other calf but that." "Wife," I replied, "I will not sacrifice him, I will spare him, and pray do not you oppose me." The wicked woman had no regard to my wishes; she hated my son too much to consent that I should save him. I tied the poor creature, and taking up the fatal knife, was going to plunge it into my son's throat, when turning his eyes bathed with tears, in a languishing manner, towards me, he affected me so much that I had not strength to kill him. I let the knife fall, and told my wife positively that I would have another calf to sacrifice, and not that. She used all her endeavours to persuade me to change my resolution; but I continued firm, and pacified her a little, by promising that I would sacrifice him against the Bairam of the following year.
The next morning my farmer desired to speak with me alone. "I come," said he, "to communicate to you a piece of intelligence, for which I hope you will return me thanks. I have a daughter that has some skill in magic. Yesterday, as I carried back the calf which you would not sacrifice, I perceived she laughed when she saw him, and in a moment after fell a weeping. I asked her why she acted two such opposite parts at one and the same time. 'rather,' replied she, 'the calf you bring back is our landlord's son; I laughed for joy to see him still alive, and wept at the remembrance of the sacrifice that was made the other day of his mother, who was changed into a cow. These two metamorphoses were made by the enchantments of our master's wife, who hated both the mother and son.' This is what my daughter told me," said the farmer, "and I come to acquaint you with it."
I leave you to judge how much I was surprised. I went immediately to my farmer, to speak to his daughter myself. As soon as I arrived, I went forthwith to the stall where my son was kept; he could not return my embraces, but received them in such a manner, as fully satisfied me he was my son.
The farmer's daughter then came to us: "My good maid," said I, "can you restore my son to his former shape?" "Yes," she replied, "I can." "Ah!" said I, "if you do, I will make you mistress of all my fortune." She answered me, smiling, "You are our master, and I well know what I owe to you; but I cannot restore your son to his former shape, except on two conditions: the first is, that you give him to me for my husband; and the second, that you allow me to punish the person who changed him into a calf." "As to the first," I replied, "I agree with all my heart: nay, I promise you more, a considerable fortune for yourself, independently of what I design for my son: in a word, you shall see how I will reward the great service I expect from you. As to what relates to my wife, I also agree; a person who has been capable of committing such a criminal action, justly deserves to be punished. I leave her to your disposal, only I must pray you not to take her life." "I am going then," answered she, "to treat her as she treated your son." "To this I consent," said I, "provided you first of all restore to me my son."
The damsel then took a vessel full of water, pronounced over it words that I did not understand, and addressing herself to the calf, "O calf, if thou west created by the almighty and sovereign master of the world such as thou appearest at this time, continue in that form; but if thou be a man, and art changed into a calf by enchantment, return to thy natural shape, by the permission of the sovereign Creator." As she spoke, she threw water upon him, and in an instant he recovered his natural form.
"My son, my dear son," cried I, immediately embracing him with such a transport of joy that I knew not what I was doing, "it is heaven that hath sent us this young maid, to remove the horrible charm by which you were enchanted, and to avenge the injury done to you and your mother. I doubt not but in acknowledgment you will make your deliverer your wife, as I have promised." He joyfully consented; but before they married, she changed my wife into a hind; and this is she whom you see here. I desired she might have this shape, rather than another less agreeable, that we might see her in the family without horror.
Since that time, my son is become a widower, and gone to travel. It being now several years since I heard of him, I am come abroad to inquire after him; and not being willing to trust anybody with my wife, till I should return home, I thought fit to take her everywhere with me.
"This is the history of myself and this hind: is it not one of the most wonderful and surprising?" "I admit it is," said the genie, "and on that account forgive the merchant one third of his crime."
When the first old man had finished his story, the second, who led the two black dogs, addressed the genie, and said: "I am going to tell you what happened to me, and these two black dogs you see by me; and I am certain you will say, that my story is yet more surprising than that which you have just heard. But when I have done this, I hope you will be pleased to pardon the merchant another third of his offence." "I will," replied the genie, "provided your story surpass that of the hind." Then the second old man began in this manner—
The Story of the Second old Man and the Two Black Dogs.
Great prince of genies, you must know that we are three brothers, the two black dogs and myself. Our father, when he died, left each of us one thousand sequins. With that sum, we all became merchants. A little time after we had opened shop, my eldest brother, one of these two dogs, resolved to travel and trade in foreign countries. With this view, he sold his estate, and bought goods suited to the trade intended to follow.
He went away, and was absent a whole year. At the expiration of this time, a poor man, who I thought had come to ask alms, presented himself before me in my shop. I said to him, "God help you." He returned my salutation, and continued, "Is it possible you do not know me?" Upon this I looked at him narrowly, and recognised him: "Ah, brother," cried I, embracing him, "how could I know you in this condition?" I made him come into my house, and asked him concerning his health and the success of his travels. "Do not ask me that question," said he; "when you see me, you see all: it would only renew my grief, to relate to you the particulars of the misfortunes I have experienced since I left you, which have reduced me to my present condition."
I immediately shut up my shop, and taking him to a bath, gave him the best clothes I had. Finding on examining my books, that I had doubled my stock, that is to say, that I was worth two thousand sequins, I gave him one half; "With that," said I, "brother, you may make up your loss." He joyfully accepted the present, and having repaired his fortunes, we lived together, as before.
Some time after, my second brother, who is the other of these two dogs, would also sell his estate. His elder brother and myself did all we could to divert him from his purpose, but without effect. He disposed of it, and with the money bought such goods as were suitable to the trade which he designed to follow. He joined a caravan, and departed. At the end of the year he returned in the same condition as my other brother. Having myself by this time gained another thousand sequins, I made him a present of them. With this sum he furnished his shop, and continued his trade.
Some time after, one of my brothers came to me to propose that I should join them in a trading voyage; I immediately declined. "You have travelled," said I, "and what have you gained by it? Who can assure me, that I shall be more successful than you have been?" It was in vain that they urged open me all the considerations they thought likely to gain me over to their design, for I constantly refused; but after having resisted their solicitations five whole years, they importuned me so much, that at last they overcame my resolution. When, however, the time arrived that we were to make preparations for our voyage, to buy the goods necessary to the undertaking, I found they had spent all, and had not one dirhem left of the thousand sequins I had given to each of them. I did not, on this account, upbraid them. On the contrary, my stock being still six thousand sequins, I shared the half of it with them, telling them, "My brothers, we must venture these three thousand sequins, and hide the rest in some secure place: that in case our voyage be not more successful than yours was formerly, we may have wherewith to assist us, and to enable us to follow our ancient way of living." I gave each of them a thousand sequins, and keeping as much for myself, I buried the other three thousand in a corner of my house. We purchased goods, and having embarked them on board a vessel, which we freighted betwixt us, we put to sea with a favourable wind.
After two months sail, we arrived happily at port, where we landed, and had a very good market for our goods. I, especially, sold mine so well, that I gained ten to one. With the produce we bought commodities of that country, to carry back with us for sale.
When we were ready to embark on our return, I met on the sea-shore a lady, handsome enough, but poorly clad. She walked up to me gracefully, kissed my hand, besought me with the greatest earnestness imaginable to marry her, and take her along with me. I made some difficulty to agree to this proposal; but she urged so many things to persuade me that I ought not to object to her on account of her poverty, and that I should have all the reason in the world to be satisfied with her conduct, that at last I yielded. I ordered proper apparel to be made for her; and after having married her, according to form, I took her on board, and we set sail. I found my wife possessed so many good qualities, that my love to her every day increased. In the mean time my two brothers, who had not managed their affairs as successfully as I had mine, envied my prosperity; and suffered their feelings to carry them so far, that they conspired against my life; and one night, when my wife and I were asleep, threw us both into the sea.
My wife proved to be a fairy, and, by consequence, a genie, so that she could not be drowned; but for me, it is certain I must have perished, without her help. I had scarcely fallen into the water, when she took me up, and carried me to an island. When day appeared, she said to me, "You see, husband, that by saving your life, I have not rewarded you ill for your kindness to me. You must know, that I am a fairy, and being upon the sea-shore, when you were going to embark, I felt a strong desire to have you for my husband; I had a mind to try your goodness, and presented myself before you in disguise. You have dealt generously by me, and I am glad of an opportunity of returning my acknowledgment. But I am incensed against your brothers, and nothing will satisfy me but their lives."
I listened to this discourse with admiration; I thanked the fairy the best way I could, for the great kindness she had done me; "But, Madam," said I, "as for my brothers, I beg you to pardon them; whatever cause of resentment they have given me, I am not cruel enough to desire their death." I then informed her what I had done for them, but this increased her indignation; and she exclaimed, "I must immediately pursue those ungrateful traitors, and take speedy vengeance on them. I will destroy their vessel, and sink them into the bottom of the sea." "My good lady," replied I, "for heaven's sake forbear; moderate your anger, consider that they are my brothers, and that we ought to return good for evil."
I pacified her by these words; and as soon as I had concluded, she transported me in a moment from the island to the roof of my own house, which was terraced, and instantly disappeared. I descended, opened the doors, and dug up the three thousand sequins I had formerly secreted. I went afterwards to my shop, which I also opened; and was complimented by the merchants, my neighbours, upon my return. When I went back to my house, I perceived there two black dogs, which came up to me in a very submissive manner: I could not divine the meaning of this circumstance, which greatly astonished me. But the fairy, who immediately appeared, said, "Husband, be not surprised to see these dogs, they are your brothers." I was troubled at this declaration, and asked her by what power they were so transformed. "I did it," said she, "or at least authorised one of my sisters to do it, who at the same time sunk their ship. You have lost the goods you had on board, but I will compensate you another way. As to your two brothers, I have condemned them to remain five years in that shape. Their perfidiousness too well deserves such a penance." Having thus spoken and told me where I might hear of her, she disappeared.
"The five years being now nearly expired, I am travelling in quest of her; and as I passed this way, I met this merchant, and the good old man who led the hind, and sat down by them. This is my history, O prince of genies! do not you think it very extraordinary?"
"I own it is," replied the genie, "and on that account I remit the merchant the second third of the crime which he has committed against me."
As soon as the second old man had finished, the third began his story, after repeating the request of the two former, that the genie would pardon the merchant the other third of his crime, provided what he should relate surpassed in singularity of incidents the narratives he had already heard. The genie made him the same promise as he had given the others.
The third old man related his story to the genie; and it exceeded the two former stories so much, in the variety of wonderful adventures, that the genie was astonished; and no sooner heard the conclusion, than he said to the old man, "I remit the other third of the merchant's crime on account of your story. He is greatly obliged to all of you, for having delivered him out of his danger by what you have related, for to this he owes his life." Having spoken thus he disappeared, to the great contentment of the company.
The merchant failed not to make due acknowledgment to his deliverers. They rejoiced to see him out of danger; and bidding him adieu, each of them proceeded on his way. The merchant returned to his wife and children, and passed the rest of his days with them in peace.
THE STORY OF THE FISHERMAN.
There was an aged fisherman, who was so poor, that he could scarcely as much as would maintain himself, his wife, and three children. He went every day to fish betimes in the morning; and imposed it as a law upon himself, not to cast his nets above four times a-day. He went one morning by moon-light, and coming to the seaside, undressed himself, and cast in his nets. As he drew them towards the shore, he found them very heavy, and thought he had a good draught of fish, at which he rejoiced; but in a moment after, perceiving that instead of fish his nets contained nothing but the carcass of an ass, he was much vexed.
When the fisherman had mended his nets, which the carcass of the ass had broken in several places, he threw them in a second time; and when he drew them, found a great deal of resistance, which made him think he had taken abundance of fish; but he found nothing except a basket full of gravel and slime, which grieved him extremely. "O fortune!" cried he, with a lamentable tone, "be not angry with me, nor persecute a wretch who prays thee to spare him. I came hither from my house to seek for my livelihood, and thou pronouncest against me a sentence of death. I have no other trade but this to subsist by: and notwithstanding all my care, I can scarcely provide what is absolutely necessary for my family. But I am to blame to complain of thee; thou takest pleasure to persecute honest people, and to leave great men in obscurity, while thou shewest favour to the wicked, and advancest those who have no virtue to recommend them."
Having finished this complaint, he fretfully threw away the basket, and washing his nets from the slime, cast them the third time; but brought up nothing, except stones, shells, and mud. No language can express his disappointment; he was almost distracted. However, when day began to appear, he did not forget to say his prayers, like a good Moosulmaun, and he added to them this petition: "Lord, thou knowest that I cast my nets only four times a day; I have already drawn them three times, without the least reward for my labour: I am only to cast them once more; I pray thee to render the sea favourable to me, as thou didst to Moses."
The fisherman having finished this prayer, cast his nets the fourth time; and when he thought it was proper, drew them as formerly, with great difficulty; but instead of fish, found nothing in them but a vessel of yellow copper, which from its weight seemed not to be empty; and he observed that it was shut up and sealed with lead, having the impression of a seal upon it. This turn of fortune rejoiced him; "I will sell it," said he, "to the founder, and with the money buy a measure of corn." He examined the vessel on all sides, and shook it, to try if its contents made any noise, but heard nothing. This circumstance, with the impression of the seal upon the leaden cover, made him think it inclosed something precious. To try this, he took a knife, and opened it with very little labour. He turned the mouth downward, but nothing came out; which surprised him extremely. He placed it before him, but while he viewed it attentively, there came out a very thick smoke, which obliged him to retire two or three paces back.
The smoke ascended to the clouds, and extending itself along the sea and upon the shore formed a great mist, which we may well imagine filled the fisherman with astonishment. When the smoke was all out of the vessel, it re-united and became a solid body, of which was formed a genie twice as high as the greatest of giants. At the sight of a monster of such an unwieldy bulk, the fisherman would fain have fled, but was so frightened, that he could not move.