Part 10 out of 28
domestics if he be gone to Bussorah: run, and come back quickly
with the answer." While the servant was gone, the jeweller
endeavoured to entertain the prince of Persia with indifferent
subjects; but the prince gave little heed to him. He was a prey
to fatal grief: sometimes he could not persuade himself that Ebn
Thaher was gone, and at others he did not doubt of it, when he
reflected upon the conversation he had had with him the last time
he had seen him, and the abrupt manner in which he had left him.
At last the prince's servant returned, and reported that he had
spoken with one of Ebn Thaher's servants, who assured him that he
had been gone two days to Bussorah. "As I came from Ebn Thaher's
house," added the servant. "a slave well dressed met me, and
after she had asked me if I had the honour to belong to you, told
me she wanted to speak with you, and begged at the same time that
she might accompany me: she is in the outer room, and I believe
has a letter to deliver to you from some person of consequence."
The prince commanded her to be immediately introduced, not
doubting but it was Schemselnihar's confidant slave, as indeed it
was. The jeweller knew her, having seen her several times at Ebn
Thaher's house: she could not have come at a better time to save
the prince from despair. She saluted him. The prince of Persia
returned the salute of Schemselnihar's confidant. The jeweller
arose as soon as he saw her and retired, to leave them at liberty
to converse together. The confidant, after she had spoken some
time with the prince, took her leave and departed. She left him
quite another person from what he was before; his eyes appeared
brighter, and his countenance more gay, which satisfied the
jeweller that the good slave came to tell him something
favourable to his amour.
The jeweller having taken his place again near the prince, said
to him smiling, "I see, prince, you have business of importance
at the caliph's palace." The prince of Persia, astonished and
alarmed at these words, answered the jeweller, "What leads you to
suppose that I have business at the caliph's palace?" "I judge
so," replied the jeweller, "by the slave who has just left you."
"And to whom, think you, belongs this slave?" demanded the
prince. "To Schemselnihar the caliph's favourite," answered the
jeweller: "I know," continued he, "both the slave and her
mistress, who has several times done me the honour to come to my
house, and buy jewels. Besides, I know that Schemselnihar keeps
nothing secret from this slave; and I have seen her pass
backwards and forwards for several days along the streets, as I
thought very much troubled; I imagined that it was for some
affair of consequence concerning her mistress."
The jeweller's words greatly troubled the prince of Persia. "He
would not say so," said he to himself, "if he did not suspect, or
rather were not acquainted with my secret." He remained silent
for some time, not knowing what course to take. At last he began,
and said to the jeweller, "You have told me things which make me
believe that you know yet more than you have acquainted me with;
it concerns my repose that I be perfectly informed; I conjure you
therefore not to conceal any thing from me."
Then the jeweller, who desired nothing more, gave him a
particular account of what had passed betwixt Ebn Thaher and
himself. He informed him that he was apprised of his
correspondence with Schemselnihar. and forgot not to tell him
that Ebn Thaher, alarmed at the danger of being his confidant in
the matter, had communicated to him his intention of retiring to
Bussorah, until the storm which he dreaded should be blown over.
"This he has executed," added the jeweller, "and I am surprised
how he could determine to abandon you, in the condition he
informed me you were in. As for me, prince, I confess, I am moved
with compassion towards you, and am come to offer you my service.
If you do me the favour to accept of it, I engage myself to be as
faithful to you as Ebn Thaher; besides, I promise to be more
resolute. I am ready to sacrifice my honour and life for you:
and, that you may not doubt of my sincerity, I swear by all that
is sacred in our religion, to keep your secret inviolable. Be
persuaded then, prince, that you will find in me the friend whom
you have lost." This declaration encouraged the prince, and
comforted him under Ebn Thaher's absence. "I am glad," said he to
the jeweller, "to find in you a reparation of my loss; I want
words to express the obligations I am under to you. I pray God to
recompense your generosity, and I accept your obliging offer with
all my heart. Believe me," continued he, "Schemselnihar's
confidant came to speak to me concerning you. She told me that it
was you who advised Ebn Thaher to go from Bagdad; these were the
last words she spoke to me, as she went away, and she seemed
persuaded of what she said; but they do not do you justice. I
doubt not, after what you have told me, she is deceived."
"Prince" replied the jeweller, "I have had the honour to give you
a faithful account of my conversation with Ebn Thaher. It is
true, when he told me he meant to retire to Bussorah, I did not
oppose his design; but let not this prevent your putting
confidence in me. I am ready to serve you with all imaginable
zeal. If you do not use my service, this shall not hinder me from
keeping your secret religiously, according to my oath." "I have
already told you," replied the prince, "that I did not believe
what the confidant said: it is her zeal which inspired her with
this groundless suspicion, and you ought to excuse it, as I do."
They continued their conversation for some time, and consulted
together about the most convenient means to keep up the prince's
correspondence with Schemselnihar. They agreed to begin by
undeceiving the confidant, who was so unjustly prepossessed
against the jeweller. The prince engaged to remove her mistake
the first time he saw her again, and to intreat her to address
herself to the jeweller whenever she might bring letters, or any
other information from her mistress to him. In short, they
determined, that she ought not to come so frequently to the
prince's house, because thereby she might lead to the discovery
of what it was of so great importance to conceal. At last the
jeweller arose, and, after having again intreated the prince of
Persia to place an unreserved confidence in him, withdrew.
The jeweller returning to his house perceived before him a
letter, which somebody had dropped in the street. He took it up,
and as it was not sealed, he opened it, and read as follows:
Letter from Schemselnihar to the Prince of Persia.
"I have received from my confidant intelligence which gives me no
less concern than it must give you. In Ebn Thaher, we have indeed
sustained a great loss; but let this not hinder you, dear prince,
from thinking of your own preservation. If our friend has
abandoned us through fear, let us consider that it is a
misfortune which we could not avoid. I confess Ebn Thaher has
left us at a time when we most needed his assistance; but let us
bear this unexpected stroke with patience, and let us not forbear
to love one another constantly. Fortify your heart under this
misfortune. The object of our wishes is not to be obtained
without trouble. Let us not be discouraged, but hope that heaven
will favour us, and that, after so many afflictions, we shall see
a happy accomplishment of our desires. Adieu."
While the jeweller was conversing with the prince of Persia, the
confidant had time to return to the palace and communicate to her
mistress the ill news of Ebn Thaher's departure. Schemselnihar
immediately wrote this letter, and sent back her confidant with
it to the prince of Persia, but she negligently dropped it on her
The jeweller was glad to find it, for it furnished him with an
opportunity of justifying himself to the confidant, and bringing
her to the point he desired. When he had read it, he perceived
the slave seeking for it with the greatest anxiety. He closed it
again quickly, and put it into his bosom; but the slave observed
him, and running to him, said, "Sir, I have dropped a letter,
which you had just now in your hand; I beseech you to restore
it." The jeweller, pretending not to hear her, continued his way
till he came to his house. He left his door open, that the
confidant, who followed him, might enter after him. She followed
him in, and when she came to his apartment, said, "Sir, you can
make no use of that letter you have found, and you would not
hesitate to return it to me, if you knew from whom it came, and
to whom it is directed. Besides, allow me to tell you, you cannot
honestly keep it."
Before the jeweller returned her any answer he made her sit down,
and then said to her, "Is not this letter from Schemselnihar, and
is it not directed to the prince of Persia?" The slave, who
expected no such question, blushed. "The question embarrasses
you," continued he; "but I assure you I do not put it rashly: I
could have given you the letter in the street, but I wished you
to follow me, on purpose that I might come to some explanation
with you. Is it just, tell me, to impute a misfortune to persons
who have no ways contributed towards it? Yet this you have done,
in telling the prince of Persia that it was I who advised Ebn
Thaher to leave Bagdad for his own safety. I do not intend to
waste time in justifying myself; it is enough that the prince of
Persia is fully persuaded of my innocence; I will only tell you,
that instead of contributing to Ebn Thaher's departure, I have
been extremely afflicted at it, not so much from my friendship to
him, as out of compassion for the condition in which he left the
prince of Persia, whose correspondence with Schemselnihar he has
discovered to me. As soon as I knew certainly that Ebn Thaher was
gone from Bagdad, I went and presented myself to the prince, in
whose house you found me, to inform him of this event, and to
offer to undertake the service in which he had been employed; and
provided you put the same confidence in me, that you did in Ebn
Thaher, it will be your own fault if you do not make my
assistance of use to you. Inform your mistress of what I have
told you, and assure her, that though I should die for engaging
in so dangerous an intrigue, I should not repent of having
sacrificed myself for two lovers so worthy of one another."
The confidant, after having heard the jeweller with great
satisfaction, begged him to pardon the ill opinion she had
conceived of him, for the zeal she had for her mistress's
interest.? I am beyond measure glad," she added, "that
Schemselnihar and the prince have found in you a person so fit to
supply Ebn Thaher's place I will not fail to convince my mistress
of the good-will you bear her."
After the confidant had testified to the jeweller her joy to see
him so well disposed to serve Schemselnihar and the prince of
Persia, the jeweller took the letter out of his bosom, and
restored it to her, saying, "Go, carry it quickly to the prince,
and return this way that I may see his reply. Forget not to give
him an account of our conversation."
The confidant took the letter and carried it to the prince, who
answered it immediately. She returned to the jeweller's house to
shew him the answer, which was in these words:
The Prince of Persia's Answer to Schemselnihar.
"Your precious letter has had a great effect upon me, but not so
great as I could have wished. You endeavour to comfort me for the
loss of Ebn Thaher; alas! however sensible I am of this, it is
but the least of my troubles. You know these troubles, and you
know also that your presence alone can cure me. When will the
time come that I shall enjoy it without fear of a separation? How
distant does it seem to me! or shall we flatter ourselves that we
may ever see it? You command me to preserve myself; I will obey
you, since I have renounced my own will to follow only yours.
After the jeweller had read this letter, he returned it to the
confidant, who said, as she was going away, "I will desire my
mistress to put the same confidence in you that she did in Ebn
Thaher. You shall hear of me to-morrow." Accordingly, next day
she returned with a pleasant countenance. "Your very looks," said
he to her, "inform me that you have brought Schemselnihar to the
point you wished." "It is true," replied the confidant, "and you
shall hear how I succeeded. I found yesterday, on my return,
Schemselnihar expecting me with impatience, I gave her the prince
of Persia's letter, and she read it with tears in her eyes. When
she had done, I saw that she had abandoned herself to her usual
sorrow. ‘Madam,' said I to her, ‘it is doubtless Ebn Thaher's
removal that troubles you; but suffer me to conjure you in the
name of God, to alarm yourself no farther on this account. We
have found another Ebn Thaher, who offers to oblige you with
equal zeal; and, what is yet more important, with greater
courage.' Then I spoke to her of you," continued the slave, "and
acquainted her with the motive which led you to the prince of
Persia's house. In short, I assured her that you would keep
inviolably the secret betwixt her and the prince of Persia, and
that you were resolved to favour their amour with all your might.
She seemed to be much relieved by my discourse. ‘Ah! what
obligations,' said she, ‘are the prince of Persia and I under to
that honest man you speak of! I must be acquainted with him and
see him, that I may hear from his own mouth what you tell me, and
thank him for such unheard-of generosity towards persons on whose
account he is no way obliged to interest himself. The sight of
him will give me pleasure, and I shall omit nothing to confirm
him in those good sentiments. Fail not to bring him to me to-
morrow.' Therefore, sir, be so good as to accompany me to the
The confidant's proposal perplexed the jeweller. "Your mistress,"
replied he, "must allow me to say that she has not duly
considered what she requires of me. Ebn Thaher's access to the
caliph gave him admission every where; and the officers who knew
him, allowed him free access to Schemselnihar's palace; but as
for me, how dare I enter? You see clearly that it is impossible.
I entreat you to represent to Schemselnihar the reasons which
prevent me from affording her that satisfaction; and acquaint her
with all the ill consequences that would attend my compliance. lf
she considered it ever so little, she would find that it would
expose me needlessly to very imminent danger."
The confidant endeavoured to encourage the jeweller. "Can you
believe," said she, "that Schemselnihar is so unreasonable as to
expose you to the least danger by bringing you to her, from whom
she expects such important services? Consider with yourself that
there is not the least appearance of risk. My mistress and I are
too much interested in this affair to involve you in any danger.
You may depend upon me, and leave yourself to my conduit. After
the thing is over you will be the first to confess that your
apprehensions were groundless."
The jeweller yielded to the confidant's assurances, and rose up
to follow her, but notwithstanding his boasted courage, he was
seized with such terror that his whole body trembled. "In your
present state," said she, "I perceive it will be better for you
to remain at home, and that Schemselnihar should take other
measures to see you. It is not to be doubted but that to satisfy
her desire she will come hither herself: the case being so, sir,
I would not have you go: I am persuaded it will not be long ere
you see her here." The confidant foresaw this; for she no sooner
informed Schemselnihar of the jeweller's fear, but she prepared
to go to his house.
He received her with all the expressions of profound respect.
When she sat down, being a little fatigued, she unveiled herself,
and exhibited to the jeweller such beauty as convinced him that
the prince of Persia was excusable in giving his heart to the
caliph's favourite. Then she saluted the jeweller with a graceful
air, and said to him, "I could not hear with what zeal you have
engaged in the prince of Persia's concerns and mine, without
immediately determining to express my gratitude in person. I
thank heaven for having so soon made up to us the loss of Ebn
Schemselnihar said many other obliging things to the jeweller,
after which she returned to her palace. The jeweller went
immediately to give an account of this visit to the prince of
Persia; who said to him, as soon as he saw him, "I have expected
you impatiently. The trusty slave has brought me a letter from
her mistress, but it does not relieve me. Whatever the lovely
Schemselnihar says, I dare not hope, and my patience is
exhausted; I know not now what measures to pursue; Ebn Thaher's
departure reduces me to despair. He was my only support: in him I
have lost every thing. I had flattered myself with some hopes by
reason of his access to Schemselnihar."
After these words, which the prince spoke with so much eagerness,
that he gave the jeweller no time to interrupt him, he said to
the prince, "No man can take more interest in your affliction
than I do; and if you will have patience to hear me you will
perceive that I can relieve you." Upon this the prince became
silent, and listened to him. "I see," said the jeweller, "that
the only way to give you satisfaction is to devise a plan that
will afford you an opportunity of conversing freely with
Schemselnihar. This I wish to procure you, and to-morrow will
make the attempt. You must by no means expose yourself to enter
Schemselnihar's palace; you know by experience the danger of that
step. I know a fitter place for this interview, where you will be
safe." When the jeweller had finished, the prince embraced him
with transports of joy. "You revive," said he, "by this promise,
a wretched lover, who was condemned to die. You have fully
repaired the loss of Ebn Thaher; whatever you do will be well
performed; I leave myself entirely to your conduct."
After the prince had thus thanked him for his zeal, the jeweller
returned home, and next morning Schemselnihar's confidant came to
him. He told her that he had given the prince of Persia hopes
that he should shortly see her mistress. "I am come on purpose,"
answered she, "to concert measures with you for that end. I think
this house will be convenient enough for their interview." "I
could receive them very well here," replied he, "but I think they
will have more liberty in another house of mine where no one
resides at present; I will immediately furnish it for their
reception." "There remains nothing then for me to do," replied
the confidant, "but to bring Schemselnihar to consent to this. I
will go and speak to her, and return speedily with an answer."
She was as diligent as her promise, and returning to the
jeweller, told him that her mistress would not fail to keep the
appointment in the evening. In the mean time she gave him a
purse, and told him it was to prepare a collation. He carried her
immediately to the house where the lovers were to meet, that she
might know whither to bring her mistress: and when she was gone,
he went to borrow from his friends gold and silver plate,
tapestry, rich cushions, and other furniture, with which he
furnished the house very magnificently; and when he had put all
things in order, went to the prince of Persia.
You may easily conceive the prince of Persia's joy, when the
jeweller told him that he came to conduct him to the house he had
prepared to receive him and Schemselnihar. This news made him
forget all his former trouble. He put on a magnificent robe, and
went without his retinue along with the jeweller; who led him
through several by-streets that nobody might observe them, and at
last brought him to the house, where they conversed together
until Schemselnihar's arrival.
They did not wait long for this passionate lover. She came after
evening prayer, with her confidant, and two other slaves. It is
impossible to express the excess of joy that seized these two
lovers when they saw one another. They sat down together upon a
sofa, looking upon one another for some time, without being able
to speak, they were so much overjoyed: but when their speech
returned, they soon made up for their silence. They said to each
other so many tender things, as made the jeweller, the confidant,
and the two other slaves weep. The jeweller however restrained
his tears, to attend the collation, which he brought in himself.
The lovers ate and drank little, after which they sat down again
upon the sofa: Schemselnihar asked the jeweller if he had a lute,
or any other instrument, The jeweller, who took care to provide
all that could please her, brought her a lute: she spent some
time in tuning it, and then sung.
While Schemselnihar was charming the prince of Persia, and
expressing her passion by words composed extempore, a great noise
was heard; and immediately the slave, whom. the jeweller had
brought with him, came in great alarm to tell him that some
people were breaking in at the gate; that he asked who they were,
but instead of any answer the blows were redoubled. The jeweller,
being alarmed, left Schemselnihar and the prince to inform
himself of the truth of this intelligence. No sooner had he got
to the court, than he perceived, notwithstanding the darkness of
the night, a company of men armed with spears and cimeters, who
had broken the gate, and came directly towards him. He stood
close to a wall for fear of his life, and saw ten of them pass
without being perceived by them. Finding he could give no great
assistance to the prince of Persia and Schemselnihar, he
contented himself with lamenting their fate, and fled for refuge
to a neighbour's house, who was not yet gone to bed. He did not
doubt but this unexpected violence was by the caliph's order,
who, he thought, had been informed of his favourite's meeting the
prince of Persia there. He heard a great noise in his house,
which continued till midnight: and when all was quiet, as he
thought, he desired his neighbour to lend him a cimeter; and
being thus armed, went on till he came to the gate of his own
house: he entered the court full of fear, and perceived a man,
who asked him who he was; he knew by his voice that it was his
own slave. "How did you manage," said he, "to avoid being taken
by the watch?" "Sir," answered the slave, "I hid myself in a
corner of the court, and I went out as soon as I heard the noise.
But it was not the watch who broke into your house: they were
robbers, who within these few days robbed another house in this
neighbourhood. They doubtless had notice of the rich furniture
you brought hither, and had that in view."
The jeweller thought his slave's conjecture probable enough. He
entered the house, and saw that the robbers had taken all the
furniture out of the apartment where he received Schemselnihar
and her lover, that they had also carried off the gold and silver
plate, and, in a word, had left nothing. Perceiving this
desolation, he exclaimed, "O heaven! I am irrecoverably ruined!
What will my friends say, and what excuse can I make when I shall
tell them that the robbers have broken into my house, and robbed
me of all they had generously lent me? I shall never be able to
make up their loss. Besides, what is become of Schemselnihar and
the prince of Persia? This business will be so public, that it
will be impossible but it must reach the caliph's ears. He will
get notice of this meeting, and I shall fall a sacrifice to his
fury." The slave, who was very much attached to him, endeavoured
to comfort him. "As to Schemselnihar," said he, "the robbers
would probably consent themselves with stripping her, and you
have reason to think that she is retired to her palace with her
slaves. The prince of Persia too has probably escaped, so that
you have reason to hope the caliph will never know of this
adventure. As for the loss your friends have sustained, that is a
misfortune that you could not avoid. They know very well the
robbers are numerous, that they have not only pillaged the house
I have already spoken of, but many other houses of the principal
noblemen of the court: and they are not ignorant that,
notwithstanding the orders given to apprehend them, nobody has
been yet able to seize any of them. You will be acquitted by
restoring your friends the value of the things that are stolen,
and, blessed be God, you will have enough left."
While they were waiting for day-light, the jeweller ordered the
slave to mend the street door, which was broken, as well as he
could: after which he returned to his usual residence with his
slave, making melancholy reflections on what had happened. "Ebn
Thaher," said he to himself, "has been wiser than I; he foresaw
the misfortune into which I have blindly thrown myself: would to
God I had never meddled in this intrigue, which will, perhaps,
cost me my life!"
It was scarcely day when the report of the robbery spread through
the city, and a great many of his friends and neighbours came to
his house to express their concern for his misfortune; but were
curious to know the particulars. He thanked them for their
affection, and had at least the consolation, that he heard no one
mention Schemselnihar. or the prince of Persia: which made him
believe they were at their houses, or in some secure place.
When the jeweller was alone, his servants brought him something
to eat, but he had no appetite. About noon one of his slaves came
to tell him there was a man at the gate, whom he knew not, that
desired to speak with him. The jeweller, not choosing to receive
a stranger into his house, rose up, and went to speak to him.
"Though you do not know me," said the man; "I know you, and I am
come to talk to you about an important affair." The jeweller
desired him to come in. "No," answered the stranger "if you
please, rather take the trouble to go with me to your other
house." "How know you," asked the jeweller, "that I have another
house?" "I know very well," answered the stranger; "follow me,
and do not fear any thing: I have something to communicate which
will please you." The jeweller went immediately with him; and
after he had considered by the way how the house they were going
to had been robbed, he said to him that it was not fit to receive
When they were before the house, and the stranger saw the gate
half broken down, he said to the jeweller, "I see you have told
me the truth. I will conduct you to a place where we shall be
better accommodated." When he had thus spoken, he went on, and
walked all the rest of the day without stopping. The jeweller
being fatigued with his walk, vexed to see night approach, and
that the stranger went on without telling him where he was going,
began to lose his patience, when they came to a path which led to
the Tigris. As soon as they reached the river, they embarked in a
little boat, and went over. The stranger led the jeweller through
a long street, where he had never been before; and after he had
brought him through several by-streets, he stopped at a gate,
which he opened. He made the jeweller go in before him, he then
shut and bolted the gate, with a huge iron bolt, and conducted
him to a chamber, where there were ten other men, all of them as
great strangers to the jeweller as he who had brought him hither.
These ten men received him without much ceremony. They desired
him to sit down, of which he had great need; for he was not only
out of breath with walking so far, but his terror at finding
himself with people whom he thought he had reason to fear would
have disabled him from standing. They waited for their leader to
go to supper, and as soon as he came it was served up. They
washed their hands, obliged the jeweller to do the like, and to
sit at table with them. After supper the men asked him, if he
knew whom he spoke to? He answered, "No; and that he knew not the
place he was in." "Tell us your last night's adventure," said
they to him, "and conceal nothing from us." The jeweller, being
astonished at this request, answered, "Gentlemen, it is probable
you know it already." "That is true," replied they; "the young
man and the young lady, who were at your house yesternight, told
it us; but we would know it from your own mouth." The jeweller
needed no more to inform him that he spoke to the robbers who had
broken into and plundered his house. "Gentlemen," said he, "I am
much troubled for that young man and lady; can you give me any
tidings of them?"
Upon the jeweller's inquiry of the thieves, if they knew any
thing of the young man and the young lady, they answered, "Be not
concerned for them, they are safe and well," so saying, they
shewed him two closets, where they assured him they were
separately shut up. They added, "We are informed you alone know
what relates to them, which we no sooner came to understand, but
we shewed them all imaginable respect, and were so far from doing
them any injury, that we treated them with all possible kindness
on your account. We answer for the same," proceeded they, "for
your own person, you may put unlimited confidence in us."
The jeweller being encouraged by this assurance, and overjoyed to
hear that the prince of Persia and Schemselnihar were safe,
resolved to engage the robbers yet farther in their interest. He
commended them, flattered them, and gave them a thousand
benedictions. "Gentlemen," said he, "I must confess I have not
the honour to know you, yet it is no small happiness to me that I
am not wholly unknown to you; and I can never be sufficiently
grateful for the favours which that knowledge has procured me at
your hands. Not to mention your great humanity, I am fully
persuaded now, that persons of your character are capable of
keeping a secret faithfully, and none are so fit to undertake a
great enterprise, which you can best bring to a good issue by
your zeal, courage, and intrepidity. Confiding in these
qualities, which are so much your due, I hesitate not to tell you
my whole history, with that of those two persons you found in my
house, with all the fidelity you desire me."
After the jeweller had thus secured, as he thought, the
confidence of the robbers, he made no scruple to relate to them
the whole amour of the prince of Persia and Schemselnihar, from
the beginning of it to the time he had received them into his
The robbers were greatly astonished at all the particulars they
heard, and could not forbear exclaiming, "How! is it possible
that the young man should be the illustrious Ali Ebn Becar,
prince of Persia, and the young lady the fair and celebrated
beauty Schemselnihar?" The jeweller assured them nothing was more
certain, and that they need not think it strange, that persons of
so distinguished a character should wish not to be known.
Upon this assurance of their quality, the robbers went
immediately, one after another, and threw themselves at their
feet, imploring their pardon, and protesting that nothing of the
kind would have happened to them, had they been informed of the
quality of their persons before they broke into the house; and
that they would by their future conduct endeavour to make amends
for the crime they had thus ignorantly committed. Then turning to
the jeweller, they told him, they were heartily sorry they could
not restore to him all that had been taken from him, part of it
being no longer in their possession. but as for what remained, if
he would content himself with his plate, it should be forthwith
put into his hand.
The jeweller was overjoyed at the favour done him, and after the
robbers had delivered to him the plate, they required of the
prince, Schemselnihar, and him, to promise them upon oath, that
they would not betray them, and they would carry them to a place
whence they might easily return to their respective homes. The
prince, Schemselnihar, and the jeweller, replied, that they might
rely on their words, but since they desired an oath of them, they
solemnly swore not to discover them. The thieves, satisfied with
this, immediately went out with them.
On the way, the jeweller, uneasy at not seeing the confidant and
the two slaves, came up to Schemselnihar, and begged her to
inform him what was become of them. She answered, she knew
nothing of them, and that all she could tell him was, that she
was carried away from his house, ferried over the river, and
brought to the place from whence they were just come.
Schemselnihar and the jeweller had no farther conversation; they
let the robbers conduit them with the prince to the river's side,
when the robbers immediately took boat, and carried them over to
the opposite bank.
While the prince, Schemselnihar, and the jeweller were landing,
they heard the noise of the horse patrol coming towards them,
just as the boat had conveyed the robbers back.
The commander of the brigade demanded of the prince,
Schemselnihar, and the jeweller, who they were, and whence they
had come so late? Frightened as they were, and apprehensive of
saying any thing that might prejudice them, they could not speak;
but at length it was necessary they should. The jeweller's mind
being most at ease, he said, "Sir, I can assure you, we are
respectable people of the city. The persons who have just landed
us, and are now returned to the other side of the water, are
thieves, who having last night broke open the house where we
were, pillaged it, and afterwards carried us to their quarters,
whence by fair words, we prevailed on them to let us have our
liberty; and they brought us hither. They have restored us part
of the booty they had taken from us." At which words he shewed
the parcel of plate he had recovered.
The commander, not satisfied with what the jeweller had told him,
came up to him and the prince of Persia, and looking steadfastly
at them, said, "Tell me truly, who is this lady? How came you to
These questions embarrassed them so much that neither of them
could answer; till at length Schemselnihar extricated them from
their difficulty, and taking the commander aside, told him who
she was; which he no sooner heard, than he alighted with
expressions of great respect and politeness, and ordered his men
to bring two boats.
When the boats were come, he put Schemselnihar into one, and the
prince of Persia and the jeweller into the other, with two of his
people in each boat; with orders to accompany each of them
whithersoever they were bound. The boats took different routes,
but we shall at present speak only of that which contained the
prince and the jeweller.
The prince, to save his guides trouble, bade them land the
jeweller at his house, naming the place. The guide, by this
direction, stopped just before the caliph's palace, which put
both him and the jeweller into great alarm; for although they had
heard the commander's orders to his men, they could not help
imagining they were to be delivered up to the guard, to be
brought before the caliph next morning.
This nevertheless was not the intention of the guides. For after
they had landed them, they, by their master's command,
recommended them to an officer of the caliph's guard who assigned
them two soldiers to conduct them by land to the prince's house,
which was at some distance from the river. They arrived there,
but so tired and weary that they could hardly move.
The prince being come home, with the fatigue of his journey, and
this misadventure to himself and Schemselnihar, which deprived
him of all hope of ever seeing her more, fell into a swoon on his
sofa. While the greatest part of his servants were endeavoring to
recover him, the rest gathered about the jeweller, and begged him
to tell them what had happened to the prince their lord, whose
absence had occasioned them such inexpressible uneasiness.
While the greatest part of the prince's domestics were
endeavouring to recover him from his swoon, others of them got
about the jeweller, desiring to know what had happened to their
lord. The jeweller, who took care to discover nothing that was
not proper for them to know, told them that it was an
extraordinary case, but that it was not a time to relate it, and
that they would do better to go and assist the prince. By good
fortune the prince came to himself that moment, and those that
but just before required his history with so much earnestness
retreated to a respectful distance.
Although the prince had in some measure recovered his
recollection, he continued so weak that he could not open his
mouth to speak. He answered only by signs, even to his nearest
relations, when they spoke to him. He remained in this condition
till next morning, when the jeweller came to take leave of him.
He could answer only by a movement of his eyes, and holding out
his right hand; but when he saw he was laden with a bundle of
plate, which the thieves had returned to him, he made a sign to
his servants that they should take it and carry it to his house.
The jeweller had been expected with great impatience by his
family the day he departed with the stranger; but now he was
quite given over, and it was no longer doubted but some disaster
had befallen him. His wife, children, and servants, were in the
greatest alarm, and lamenting him. When he arrived, their joy was
excessive; yet they were troubled to see that he was so much
altered in the short interval, that he was hardly to be known.
This was occasioned by the great fatigue of the preceding day,
and the fears he had undergone all night, which would not permit
him to sleep. Finding himself much indisposed, he continued at
home two days, and would admit only one of his intimate friends
to visit him.
The third day, finding himself something better, he thought he
might recover strength by going abroad to take the air; and
therefore went to the shop of a rich merchant of his
acquaintance, with whom he continued long in conversation. As he
was rising to take leave of his friend to return home, he
observed a woman making a sign to him, whom he presently knew to
be the confidant of Schemselnihar. Between fear and joy, he made
what haste he could away, without looking at her; but she
followed him, as he feared she would, the place they were in
being by no means proper to converse in. As he quickened his
pace, she, not being able to overtake him, every now and then
called out to him to stay.
He heard her; but after what had happened, he did not think fit
to speak to her in public, for fear of giving cause to suspect
that he was connected with Schemselnihar. It was known to every
body in Bagdad, that this woman belonged to her, and executed all
her little commissions. He continued the same pace, and at length
reached a mosque, where he knew but few people came. He entered,
and she followed him, and they had a long conversation together,
without any body overhearing them.
Both the jeweller and confidant expressed much joy at seeing each
other, after the strange adventure of the robbers, and their
reciprocal apprehension for each other, without regarding their
own particular persons.
The jeweller wished her to relate to him how she escaped with the
two slaves, and what she knew of Schemselnihar from the time he
lost sight of her; but so great was her eagerness to know what
had happened to him from the time of their unexpected separation,
that he found himself obliged to satisfy her. "Having given you
the detail you desired," said he, "oblige me in your turn," which
she did in the following manner.
"When I first saw the robbers, I hastily imagined that they were
soldiers of the caliph's guard, and that the caliph being
informed of Schemselnihar's going out, had sent them to put her,
the prince, and all of us to death. Under this impression I
immediately got up to the terrace of your house, when the thieves
entered the apartment where the prince and Schemselnihar were,
and I was soon after followed by that lady's two slaves. From
terrace to terrace, we came at last to a house of very honest
people, who received us with much civility, and with whom we
lodged that night.
"Next morning, after thanking the master of the house for our
good usage, we returned to Schemselnihar's palace, where we
entered in great disorder and distress, because we could not
learn the fate of the two unfortunate lovers. The other women of
Schemselnihar were astonished to see me return without their
lady. We told them, we had left her at the house of one of her
female friends, and that she would send for us when she wished to
come home; with which excuse they seemed well satisfied.
"For my part, I spent the day in great uneasiness, and when night
arrived, opening a small private gate, I espied a little boat on
the canal which seemed driven by the stream. I called to the
waterman, and desired him to row up each side of the river, and
look if he could not see a lady; and if he found her, to bring
her along with him. The two slaves and I waited impatiently for
his return, and at length, about midnight, we saw the boat coming
down with two men in it, and a woman lying along in the stern.
When the boat was come up, the two men helped the woman to rise,
and then it was I knew her to be Schemselnihar. I cannot express
my joy at seeing her.
"I gave my hand to Schemselnihar to help her out of the boat; she
had great need of my assistance, for she could hardly stand. When
she was landed, she whispered me in a tone expressive of her
affliction, and bade me go and take a purse of one thousand
pieces of gold and give it to the two soldiers that had
accompanied her. I left her to the care of the two slaves to
support her, and having ordered the two soldiers to wait for me a
moment, I took the purse, and returned instantly; I gave it to
them, and having paid the waterman, shut the door.
"I then followed my lady, and overtook her before she had reached
her chamber. We immediately undressed her, and put her to bed,
where she had not long been, before she became so ill that for
the whole of the night we almost despaired of her life. The day
following, her other women expressed a great desire to see her;
but I told them she had been greatly fatigued, and wanted rest.
The other two women and I gave her all the assistance in our
power; but we should have given over every hope of her recovery,
had I not at last perceived that the wine which we every now and
then gave her had a sensible effect in recruiting her strength.
By importunity we at length prevailed with her to eat.
"When she recovered the use of her speech, for she had hitherto
only wept, groaned, and sighed, I begged of her to tell me how
she had escaped out of the hands of the robbers. ‘Why would you
require of me,' said she, with a profound sigh, ‘to renew my
grief? Would to God the robbers had taken away my life, rather
than have preserved it; my misfortunes would then have had an
end, whereas I live but to increase my sufferings.'
"Madam,' I replied, ‘I beg you would not refuse me this favour.
You cannot but know that the wretched feel a consolation in
relating their greatest misfortunes; what I ask would alleviate
yours, if you would have the goodness to gratify me.'
"‘Hear then,' said she, ‘the most afflicting adventure that could
possibly have happened to one so deeply in love as myself, who
considered myself as at the utmost point of my wishes. You must
know, when I first saw the robbers enter, sword in hand, I
considered it as the last moment of our lives. But death was not
an object of regret, since I thought I was to die with the prince
of Persia. However, instead of murdering us, as I expected, two
of the robbers were ordered to take care of us, whilst their
companions were busied in packing up the goods they found in the
house. When they had done, and got their bundles upon their
backs, they went out, and took us with them.
"‘As we went along, one of those that had charge of us demanded
of me who I was? I answered, I was a dancer. He put the same
question to the prince, who replied, he was a citizen.
"When we had reached the place of our destination, a new alarm
seized us. They gathered about us, and after having considered my
dress, and the rich jewels I was adorned with, they seemed to
suspect I had disguised my quality. "Dancers," said they, "do not
use to be dressed as you are. Tell us truly who you are?"
"‘When they saw I made no reply, they asked the prince once more
who he was, for they told him they plainly perceived he was not
the person he pretended to be. He did not satisfy them much more
than I had done; he only told them he came to see the jeweller,
naming him, who was the owner of the house where they found us.
"I know this jeweller," replied one of the rogues, who seemed to
have some authority over the rest: "I owe him some obligations,
which he knows nothing of, and I take upon me to bring him hither
to-morrow morning; but you must not expect," continued he, "to be
released till he arrives and tells us who you are; in the mean
time, I promise you there shall be no injury offered to you."
"‘ The jeweller was brought next morning, who thinking to oblige
us, as he really did, declared to the robbers the whole truth.
They immediately came and asked my pardon, and I believe did the
like to the prince, who was shut up in another room. They
protested to me, they would not have broken open the house where
we were, had they known it was the jeweller's. They soon after
took us (the prince, the jeweller, and myself), carried us to the
river side, put us aboard a boat, and rowed us across the water;
but we were no sooner landed, than a party of horse-patrol came
up to us.
"The robbers fled; I took the commander aside, and told him my
name, and that the night before I had been seized by robbers, who
forced me along with them; but having been told who I was,
released me, and the two persons he saw with me, on my account.
He alighted out of respect to me; and expressing great joy at
being able to oblige me, caused two boats to be brought: putting
me and two of his soldiers, whom you have seen, into one, he
escorted me hither: but what is become of the prince and his
friend I cannot tell.
"‘I trust,' added she, melting into tears, ‘no harm has befallen
them since our separation; and I do not doubt but the prince's
concern for me is equal to mine for him. The jeweller, to whom we
have been so much obliged, ought to be recompensed for the loss
he has sustained on our account. Fail not, therefore, to take two
purses of a thousand pieces of gold in each, and carry them to
him to-morrow morning in my name, and be sure to inquire after
the prince's welfare.'
"When my good mistress had done speaking, I endeavoured, as to
the last article of inquiring into the prince's welfare, to
persuade her to endeavour to triumph over her passion, after the
danger she had so lately escaped almost by miracle. ‘Make me no
answer,' said she, ‘but do what I require.'
"I was obliged to be silent, and am come hither to obey her
commands. I have been at your house, but not finding you at home,
and uncertain as I was of where you might be found, was about
going to the prince of Persia; but not daring to attempt the
journey, I have left the two purses with a particular friend, and
if you will wait here, I will go and fetch them immediately."
The confidant soon returned to the jeweller in the mosque, where
she had left him, and giving him the two purses, bade him out of
them satisfy his friends. "They are much more than is necessary,"
said he, "but I dare not refuse the present from so good and
generous a lady to her most humble servant; I beseech you to
assure her from me, that I shall preserve an eternal remembrance
of her goodness." He then agreed with the confidant, that she
should find him at the house where she had first seen him,
whenever she had occasion to impart any thing from Schemselnihar,
or to hear any tidings of the prince of Persia: and so they
The jeweller returned home well pleased, not only that he had got
wherewithal so fully to satisfy his friends, but also to think
that no person in Bagdad could possibly know that the prince and
Schemselnihar had been in his other house when it was robbed. It
is true, he had acquainted the thieves with it, but on their
secrecy he thought he might very well depend. Next morning he
visited the friends who had obliged him, and found no difficulty
in satisfying them. He had money in hand to furnish his other
house, in which he placed servants. Thus he forgot all his past
danger, and the next evening waited on the prince of Persia.
The prince's domestics told the jeweller, that he came very
opportunely, as the prince, since he had parted with him, was
reduced to such a state that his life was in danger. They
introduced him softly into his chamber, and he found him in a
condition that excited his pity. He was lying on his bed, with
his eyes closed; but when the jeweller saluted him, and exhorted
him to take courage, he recollected him, opened his eyes, and
gave him a look that sufficiently declared the greatness of his
affliction, infinitely beyond what he felt after he first saw
Schemselnihar. He grasped him by the hand, to testify his
friendship, and told him, in a feeble voice, that he was
extremely obliged to him for coming so far to visit one so
unhappy and wretched.
"Prince," replied the jeweller, "mention not, I beseech you, any
obligations you owe to me. I wish the good offices I have
endeavoured to do you had had a better effect; but at present,
let us talk only of your health; which, in the state I see you, I
fear you greatly injure by unreasonably abstaining from proper
The prince's servants took this opportunity to tell him, it was
with the greatest difficulty they had prevailed on their master
to take the smallest refreshment, and that for some time he had
taken nothing. This obliged the jeweller to entreat the prince to
let his servants bring him something to eat.
After the prince had, through the persuasion of the jeweller,
eaten more than he had hitherto done, he commanded the servants
to leave him alone with his friend. When the room was clear, he
said, "Besides the misfortune that distracts me, I have been
exceedingly concerned to think what a loss you have sustained on
my account; and it is but just I should make you some recompence.
But before I do this, after begging your pardon a thousand times,
I conjure you to tell me whether you have learnt any tidings of
Schemselnihar, since I had the misfortune to be parted from her."
Here the jeweller, instructed by the confidant, related to him
all that he knew of Schemselnihar's arrival at her palace, her
state of health from that time till she recovered, and how she
had sent her confidant to him to inquire after his welfare.
To all this the prince replied only by sighs and tears. He made
an effort to get up, and calling his servants, went himself to
his wardrobe, and having caused several bundles of rich furniture
and plate to be packed up, he ordered them to be carried to the
The jeweller would fain have declined this kind offer; but
although he represented that Schemselnihar had already made him
more than sufficient amends for what he had lost, the prince
would be obeyed. The jeweller was therefore obliged to make all
possible acknowledgments, and protested how much he was
confounded at his highness's liberality. He would then have taken
his leave, but the prince desired him to stay, and they passed
good part of the night in conversation.
Next morning the jeweller waited again on the prince, who made
him sit down by him. "You know," said he, "there is an end
proposed in all things: that which the lover proposes, is to
enjoy the beloved object in spite of all opposition. If once he
loses that hope, he must not think to live. Such is my hard case;
for twice when I have been at the very point of fulfilling my
desires, I have suddenly been torn from her I loved in the most
cruell manner imaginable. It remains for me only to think of
death, and I had sought it, but that our holy religion forbids
suicide; but I need not anticipate it; I need not wait long."
Here he stopped, and vented his passion in groans, sighs, sobs,
and tears, which flowed abundantly.
The jeweller, who knew no better way of diverting him from his
despair than by bringing Schemselnihar into his mind, and giving
him some shadow of hope, told him, he feared the confidant might
be come from her lady, and therefore it would not be proper to
stay any longer from home. "I will let you go," said the prince,
"but conjure you, that if you see her, you recommend to her to
assure Schemselnihar, that if I die, as I expect to do shortly, I
shall love her to the last moment, even in the grave."
The jeweller returned home, and waited in expectation of seeing
the confidant, who came some hours after, but all in tears, and
in great affliction. The jeweller alarmed, asked her what was the
matter? She answered, that Schemselnihar, the prince, herself,
and he, were all ruined. "Hear the sad news," said she, "as it
was told me just upon my entering the palace after I had left you
"Schemselnihar had for some fault chastised one of the slaves you
saw with her when you met in your other house. The slave, enraged
at the ill treatment, ran immediately away, and finding the gate
open, went out; so that we have just reason to believe she has
discovered all to an eunuch of the guard, who gave her
"But this is not all; the other slave her companion has fled too,
and has taken refuge in the caliph's palace. So that we may well
fear she has borne her part in this discovery: for just as I came
away, the caliph had sent twenty of his eunuchs for
Schemselnihar, who have carried her to the palace. I just found
means to come and tell you this. I know not what has passed, yet
I fear no good; but above all, I recommend to you to keep the
The confidant added to what she had related before to the
jeweller, that it was proper he should go immediately and
acquaint the prince with the whole affair, that he might be
prepared for every event, and keep faithful to the common cause.
She went away in haste, without staying for any answer.
What answer could the jeweller have made in the condition he was
in? He stood motionless as if thunderstruck. He found, however,
that there was no time to be lost, and immediately went to give
the prince information. He addressed him with an air, that
sufficiently shewed the bad news he brought. "Prince," said he,
"arm yourself with courage and patience, and prepare to receive
the most terrible shock that ever you had to encounter."
"Tell me in a few words," replied the prince, "what is the
matter, without keeping me in suspense; I am, if necessary,
prepared to die."
Then the jeweller repeated all that he had learnt from the
confidant. "You see," continued he, "your destruction is
inevitable. Rise, save yourself by flight, for the time is
precious. You, of all men, must not expose yourself to the anger
of the caliph, and, less than any, confess in the midst of
At these words the prince was ready to expire through grief,
affliction, and fear. However, he recovered himself, and asked
the jeweller what resolution he would advise him to take in this
conjuncture, every moment of which ought to be employed. The
jeweller told him, he thought nothing remained, but that he
should immediately take horse, and hasten away towards Anbar,
that he might get thither before day. "Take what servants and
swift horses you think necessary," continued he, "and suffer me
to escape with you."
The prince, seeing nothing more to be done, immediately gave
orders to prepare such an equipage as would be least troublesome;
took money and jewels, and having taken leave of his mother,
departed with the jeweller and such servants as he had chosen.
They travelled all night without stopping, till at length, both
their horses and themselves being spent with so long a journey,
they halted to rest themselves.
They had hardly alighted before they found themselves surrounded
and assaulted by a band of robbers. They defended their lives for
some time courageously; but at length the prince's servants being
all killed, both he and the jeweller were obliged to yield at
discretion. The robbers, however, spared their dives, but after
they had seized the horses and baggage, they took away their
clothes and left them naked.
When the thieves were gone, the prince said to the jeweller,
"What think you of our adventure and condition? Had I not better
have tarried in Bagdad, and awaited my death?" "Prince," replied
the jeweller, "it is the decree of Heaven that we should thus
suffer. It has pleased God to add affliction to affliction. and
we must not murmur, but receive his chastisements with
submission. Let us stay no longer here, but seek for some retreat
where we may perhaps be relieved."
"Let me die," said the prince; "for what signifies it whether I
die here or elsewhere. Perhaps while we are talking,
Schemselnihar is no more, and why should I endeavour to live
after she is dead!" The jeweller, by his entreaty, at length
prevailed on him, and they had not gone far before they came to a
mosque, which was open; they entered it, and passed there the
remainder of the night.
At day-break a man came into the mosque. When he had ended his
prayer, as he turned about to go away, he perceived the prince
and jeweller, who were sitting in a corner. He came up to them,
and after having saluted them with a great deal of civility,
said, "I perceive you are strangers."
The jeweller answered, "You are not deceived. We have been robbed
to-night in coming from Bagdad, as you may see, and have retired
hither for shelter, but we know not to whom to apply." "If you
think fit to accompany me to my house," answered the man, "I will
give you all the assistance in my power."
Upon this obliging offer, the jeweller turned to the prince, and
whispered, "This man, as you perceive, sir, does not know us, and
we have reason to fear that somebody else may come who does. We
cannot, I think, refuse his offer." "Do as you please," said the
prince; "I am willing to be guided by your discretion."
The man observing the prince and jeweller consulting together,
and thinking they made some difficulty to accept his offer, asked
them if they were resolved what to do? The jeweller answered "We
are ready to follow you; all we hesitate about is that we are
ashamed to appear thus naked."
Fortunately the man had it in his power to cover them
sufficiently till they could get to his house. As soon as they
had entered, he brought a very handsome suit for each of them. As
he thought they must be hungry, and might wish to be alone, he
had several dishes brought to them by a slave; but they ate
little, especially the prince who was so dejected and dispirited,
that he gave the jeweller cause to fear he would die. Their host
visited them several times in the course of the day, and in the
evening, as he knew they wanted rest, he left them early. But he
was no sooner in bed, than the jeweller was forced to call him
again to assist at the death of the prince of Persia. He found
him breathe short, and with difficulty, which gave him reason to
fear he had but few minutes to live. Coming near him, the prince
said, "It is all over, and I am glad you are witness of my last
words. I quit life with a great deal of satisfaction; I need not
tell you the reason, for you know it already. All my concern is,
that I cannot die in the arms of my dear mother, who has always
loved me tenderly, and for whom I had a reciprocal affection. Let
her know how much I was concerned at this, and request her in my
name to have my body removed to Bagdad, that she may have an
opportunity to bedew my tomb with her tears, and assist my
departed soul with her prayers." He then took notice of the
master of the house, and thanked him for his kindness in taking
him in; and after desiring him to let his body rest with him till
it should be conveyed to Bagdad, he expired.
The day after the prince's death, the jeweller took the
opportunity of a numerous caravan that was going to Bagdad, and
arrived there in safety. He first went home to change his
clothes, and then hastened to the prince's palace, where every
body was alarmed at not seeing the prince with him. He desired
them to acquaint the prince's mother that he wished to speak with
her, and it was not long before he was introduced to her in a
hall, with several of her women about her. "Madam," said he to
her, with an air that sufficiently denoted the ill news he
brought, "God preserve you, and shower down upon you the choicest
of his blessings. You cannot be ignorant that he alone disposes
of us at his pleasure."
The princess would not permit him to proceed, but exclaimed,
"Alas! you bring me the news of my son's death?" She and her
women at the same time wept and sobbed loudly. At length she
checked her sighs and groans, and begged of him to continue
without concealing from her the least circumstance of such a
melancholy separation. He satisfied her, and when he had done,
she farther demanded of him, if her son the prince had not given
him in charge something more particular in his last moments? He
assured her his last words were, that it was to him the most
afflicting circumstance that he must die so far distant from his
dear mother, and that the only thing he wished was, that she
would have his corpse transported to Bagdad. Accordingly early
next morning the princess set out with her women and great part
of her slaves, to bring her son's body to her own palace.
When the jeweller, whom she had detained, had seen her depart, he
returned home very sad and melancholy, at the reflection that so
accomplished and amiable a prince was thus cut off in the flower
of his age.
As he walked towards his house, dejected and musing, he saw a
woman standing before him. He recognized her to be
Schemselnihar's confidant. At the sight of her, his tears began
to flow afresh but he said nothing to her; and going into his own
house, she followed him.
They sat down; when the jeweller beginning the conversation,
asked the confidant, with a deep sigh, if she had heard of the
death of the prince of Persia, and if it was on his account that
she grieved. "Alas!" answered she, "What! is that charming prince
then dead? He has not lived long after his dear Schemselnihar.
Beauteous souls," continued she, "in whatsoever place ye now are,
ye must be happy that your loves will no more be interrupted.
Your bodies were an obstacle to your wishes; but Heaven has
delivered you from them; ye may now form the closest union."
The jeweller, who had heard nothing of Schemselnihar's death, and
had not reflected that the confidant was in mourning, suffered
fresh grief at this intelligence. "Is Schemselnihar then dead?"
cried he. "She is," replied the confidant, weeping afresh, "and
it is for her I wear these weeds. The circumstances of her death
were extraordinary," continued she, "and deserve to be known to
you: but before I give you an account of them, I beg you to
acquaint me with those of the prince of Persia, whom, with my
dearest friend and mistress, I shall lament as long as I live."
The jeweller then gave the confidant the information she desired;
and after he had told her all, even to the departure of the
prince's mother to bring her son's body to Bagdad, she began and
said, "You have not forgotten that I told you the caliph had sent
for Schemselnihar to his palace. He had, as we had every reason
to believe, been informed of the amour betwixt her and the prince
by the two slaves, whom he had examined apart. You may imagine,
he would be exceedingly enraged at Schemselnihar's conduct, and
give striking proofs of his jealousy and of his impending
vengeance against the prince. But this was by no means the case.
He pitied Schemselnihar, and in some measure blamed himself for
what had happened, in giving her so much freedom to walk about
the city without being attended by his eunuchs. This is the only
conclusion that could be drawn from his extraordinary behavior
towards her, as you will hear.
"He received her with an open countenance; and when he observed
that the melancholy which oppressed her did not lessen her beauty
(for she appeared thus before him without surprise or fear), with
a goodness worthy himself, he said ‘Schemselnihar, I cannot bear
your appearing before me thus with an air which gives me infinite
pain. You must needs be sensible how much I have always loved
you, and be convinced of the sincerity of my passion by the
continued demonstrations I have given of it. I can never change
my mind, for I love you more than ever. You have enemies,
Schemselnihar,' proceeded he, ‘and those enemies have insinuated
things against your conduct, but all they have said against you
has not made the least impression upon me. Shake off then this
melancholy, and prepare to entertain me this night with some
amusing conversation, after your accustomed manner.' He said many
other obliging things to her, and then desired her to step into a
magnificent apartment near her own, and wait for him.
"The afflicted Schemselnihar was very sensible of the caliph's
kindness; but the more she thought herself obliged to him, the
more she was concerned that she was so far removed, perhaps for
ever, from her prince, without whom she could not live.
"This interview between the caliph and Schemselnihar," continued
the confidant, "took place whilst I was come to speak to you, and
I learned the particulars of it from my companions who were
present. But I had no sooner left you," proceeded she, "than I
went to my dear mistress again, and was eye-witness to what
happened in the evening. I found her in the apartment I told you
of; and as she though I came from you, she drew near me, and
whispering me, said, ‘I am much obliged to you for the service
you have done me, but I feel it will be the last.' She said no
more; but I was not in a place proper to offer any thing to
"The caliph was introduced at night with the sound of instruments
which her women played upon, and the collation was immediately
served up. He took his mistress by the hand, and made her sit
down with him on the sofa; she put such a force upon herself to
please him, that she expired a few minutes after. In short, she
was hardly set down, when she fell backwards. The caliph believed
she had only fainted, and so we all thought; but she never
recovered, and in this manner we lost her.
"The caliph did her the honour to weep over her, not being able
to refrain from tears; and before he left the room ordered all
the musical instruments to be broken; this was immediately done.
I stayed with her corpse all night, and next morning washed and
dressed her for her funeral, bathing her with my tears. The
caliph had her interred in a magnificent tomb he had erected for
her in her lifetime, in a place she had desired to be buried in.
Now since you tell me," said she, "the prince of Persia's body is
to be brought to Bagdad, I will use my best endeavours that he
shall be interred in the same tomb."
The jeweller was much surprised at this resolution of the
confidant, and said, "Certainly you do not consider that the
caliph will never suffer this?" "You think the thing impossible,"
replied she; "it is not. You will alter your opinion when I tell
you that the caliph has given liberty to all her slaves, with a
pension to each for their support. He has committed to me the
care and keeping of my mistress's tomb, and allotted me an annual
income for that purpose, and for my maintenance. Besides, the
caliph, who was not ignorant of the amour between Schemselnihar
and the prince, as I have already told you, without being
offended, will not be sorry if after her death he be buried with
her." To all this the jeweller had not a word to say. He
earnestly entreated the confidant to conduct him to her
mistress's tomb, that he might say his prayers over her. When he
came in sight of it, he was not a little surprised to find a vast
concourse of people of both sexes, who were come thither from all
parts of Bagdad. As he could not come near the tomb, he said his
prayers at a distance; and then going to the confidant, who was
waiting hard by, said to her, "I am now so far from thinking that
what you proposed cannot be put in execution, that you and I need
only publish abroad what we know of the amour of this unfortunate
couple, and how the prince died much about the same time with his
mistress. Before his corpse arrives, all Bagdad will concur to
desire that two such faithful lovers, whom nothing could divide
in affection whilst they lived, should not be separated when
dead." It happened as he said; for as soon as it was known that
the corpse was within a day's journey of the city, an infinite
number of people went above twenty miles to meet it, and
afterwards walked before it till it came to the city gate; where
the confidant, waiting for that purpose, presented herself before
the prince's mother, and begged of her in the name of the whole
city, who earnestly desired it, that she would be pleased to
consent that the bodies of the two lovers, who had but one heart
whilst they lived, from the time their mutual passion commenced,
might be buried in the same tomb. The princess immediately
consented; and the corpse of the prince, instead of being
deposited in his own burying-place, was laid by Schemselnihar's
side, after it had been carried along in procession at the head
of an infinite number of people of all ranks. From that time all
the inhabitants of Bagdad, and even strangers from all parts of
the world where the Mahummedan religion prevails have held that
tomb in the highest veneration, and pay their devotions at it.
The Story of the Loves of Kummir Al Zummaun, Prince of
the Isles of the Children of Khaledan, and of Badoura,
Princess of China.
About twenty days' sail from the coast of Persia, there are
islands in the main ocean called the Islands of the Children of
Khaledan. These islands are divided into four great provinces,
which have all of them very flourishing and populous cities,
forming together a powerful kingdom. It was formerly governed by
a king named Shaw Zummaun, who had four lawful wives, all
daughters of kings, and sixty concubines.
Shaw Zummaun thought himself the most happy monarch of the world,
on account of his peaceful and prosperous reign. One thing only
disturbed his happiness; which was, that he was advanced in
years, and had no children, though he had so many wives. He knew
not to what to attribute this barrenness; and what increased his
affliction was, that he was likely to leave his kingdom without a
successor. He dissembled his discontent, and this dissimulation
only heightened his uneasiness. At length he broke silence; and
one day after he had complained bitterly of his misfortune to his
grand vizier, he asked him if he knew any remedy for it?
That wise minister replied, "If what your majesty requires of me
had depended on the ordinary rules of human wisdom, you had soon
had an answer to your satisfaction; but my experience and
knowledge fall far short of your question. It is to God only that
we can apply in cases of this kind. In the midst of our
prosperities, which often tempt us to forget him, he is pleased
to mortify us in some instance, that we may address our thoughts
to him, acknowledge his omnipotence, and ask of him what we ought
to expect from him alone. Your majesty has subjects," proceeded
he "who make a profession of honouring and serving God, and
suffering great hardships for his sake; to them I would advise
you to have recourse, and engage them, by alms, to join their
prayers with yours. Perhaps some one among them may be so pure
and pleasing to God as to obtain a hearing for your prayers."
Shaw Zummaun approved this advice, and thanked his vizier. He
immediately caused alms to be given to every community of these
holy men in his dominions: and having sent for the superiors,
declared to them his intention, and desired them to acquaint
their devout men with it.
The king obtained of Heaven what he requested, for in nine
months' time he had a son by one of his wives. To express his
gratitude to Heaven, he sent fresh alms to the communities of
devotees, and the prince's birth-day was celebrated not only in
his capital, but throughout his dominions, for a whole week. The
prince was brought to him as soon as born, and he found him so
beautiful that he gave him the name of Kummir al Zummaun, or Moon
of the Age.
He was brought up with all imaginable care; and when he had
arrived at a proper age, his father appointed him an experienced
governor and able preceptors. These persons, distinguished by
their capacity, found in him a ready wit capable of receiving all
the instructions that were proper to be given him, as well in
relation to morals as other knowledge which a prince ought to
possess. As he grew up, he learned all his exercises, and
acquitted himself with such grace and wonderful address, as to
charm all that saw him, and particularly the sultan his father.
When he had attained the age of fifteen, the sultan, who tenderly
loved him, and gave him every day new marks of his affection,
proposed to afford a still higher demonstration by resigning his
throne to him, and he accordingly acquainted his grand vizier
with his intentions. "I fear," said he, "lest my son should lose
in the inactivity of youth those advantages which nature and my
education have give him; therefore, since I am advanced in age,
and ought to think of retirement I propose to resign the
government to him, and pass the remainder of my days in the
satisfaction of seeing him reign. I have borne the fatigue of a
crown till I am weary of it, and think it is now proper for me to
The grand vizier declined offering all the reasons he could have
alleged to dissuade the sultan from such a proceeding; on the
contrary, he appeared to acquiesce with him in his opinion.
"Sir," replied he, "the prince is yet but young, and it would
not, in my humble opinion, be advisable to burden him with the
weight of a crown so soon. Your majesty fears, with great reason,
his youth may be corrupted by indolence: but to avoid this
danger, do not you think it would be proper to marry him?
Marriage forms attachment, and prevents dissipation. Your majesty
might then admit him of your council, where he would learn by
degrees the art of reigning; and so be prepared to receive your
authority, whenever by your own experience you shall think him
Shaw Zummaun approved the advice of his prime minister; and
summoned the prince to appear before him, at the same time that
he dismissed the grand vizier.
The prince, who had been accustomed to see his father only at
certain times without being sent for, was a little startled at
this summons; when, therefore, he came into his presence, he
saluted him with great respect, and stood with his eyes fixed on
The sultan perceiving his constraint, addressed him with great
mildness, "Do you know, son, for what reason I have sent for
you?" The prince modestly replied, "God alone knows the heart: I
shall hear it from your majesty with pleasure." "I sent for you,"
resumed the sultan, "to inform you that it is my intention to
provide a proper marriage for you: what do you think of my
The prince heard this with great uneasiness: he was greatly
agitated, and knew not what answer to make. After a few moments
silence, he replied, "Sir, I beseech you to pardon me if I seem
surprised at the declaration you have made. I did not expect such
proposals at my present age. I know not whether I could prevail
on myself to marry, on account of the trouble incident to a
married life, and the many treacheries of women, which I have
read of. I may not be always of the same mind, yet I conceive it
will require time to determine on what your majesty requires of
The prince's answer extremely afflicted his father. He was not a
little grieved to discover his aversion to marriage; yet would
not charge him with disobedience, nor exert his paternal
authority. He contented himself with telling him, he would not
force his inclinations, but give him time to consider of the
proposal; and reflect, that a prince destined to govern a great
kingdom ought to take some care to leave a successor; and that in
giving himself that satisfaction he communicated it to his
father, who would be glad to see himself revive in his son and
Shaw Zummaun said no more to the prince but admitted him into his
council, and gave him every reason to be satisfied. At the end of
the year he took him aside, and said to him; "My son, have you
thoroughly considered what I proposed to you last year about
marrying? Will you still refuse me that pleasure I expect from
your obedience, and suffer me to die without affording me that
The prince seemed less disconcerted than before; and was not long
answering his father to this effect: "Sir, I have not neglected
to consider of your proposal; but after the maturest reflection
find myself more confirmed in my resolution to continue in a
state of celibacy. The infinite mischief which women have caused
in the world, and which are on record in our histories, and the
accounts I daily hear to their disadvantage, are the motives
which powerfully influence me against having any thing to do with
them; so that I hope your majesty will pardon me if I presume to
tell you, it will be in vain to solicit me any further upon this
subject." As soon as he had thus spoken, he quitted the sultan
abruptly without waiting his answer.
Any monarch but Shaw Zummaun would have been angry at such
freedom in a son, and would have made him repent; but he loved
him, and preferred gentle methods before he proceeded to
compulsion. He communicated this new cause of discontent to his
prime minister. "I have followed your advice," said he, "but
Kummir al Zummaun is farther than ever from complying with my
desires. He delivered his determination in such free terms, that
it required all my reason and moderation to keep my temper.
Fathers who so earnestly desire children as I did this son are
fools, who seek to deprive themselves of that rest which it is in
their own power to enjoy without control. Tell me, I beseech you,
how I shall reclaim a disposition so rebellious to my will?"
"Sir," answered the grand vizier, "patience brings many things
about that before seemed impracticable; but it may be this affair
is of a nature not likely to succeed that way. Your majesty will
have no cause to reproach yourself for precipitation, if you
would give the prince another year to consider your proposal. If
in this interval he return to his duty, you will have the greater
satisfaction, as you will have employed only paternal love to
induce him; and if he still continue averse when this is expired,
your majesty may in full council observe, that it is highly
necessary for the good of the state that he should marry; and it
is not likely he will refuse to comply before so grave an
assembly, which you honour with your presence."
The sultan, who so anxiously desired to see his son married,
thought this long delay an age; however, though with much
difficulty, he yielded to his grand vizier's reasons, which he
could not disapprove.
After the grand vizier was gone, the sultan went to the apartment
of the mother of prince Kummir al Zummaun, to whom he had often
expressed his desire to see the prince married. When he had told
her, with much concern, how his son had a second time refused to
comply with his wishes, and the indulgence which, by the advice
of his grand vizier, he was inclined to shew him; he said, "I
know he has more confidence in you than he has in me, and will be
more likely to attend to your advice. I therefore desire you
would take an opportunity to talk to him seriously, and urge upon
him, that if he persists in his obstinacy, he will oblige me to
have recourse to measures which would be disagreeable to me, and
which would give him cause to repent having disobeyed me."
Fatima, for so was the lady called, told the prince the first
time she saw him, that she had been informed of his second
refusal to marry; and how much chagrin his resolution had
occasioned his father. "Madam," replied the prince, "I beseech
you not to renew my grief upon that head. I fear, under my
present uneasiness, something may escape me, which may not be
consistent with the respect I owe you." Fatima judged from this
answer that this was not a proper time to speak to him, and
therefore deferred what she had to say to another opportunity.
Some considerable time after, Fatima thought she had found a more
favourable season, which gave her hopes of being heard upon that
subject. "Son," said she, "I beg of you, if it be not
disagreeable, to tell me what reason you have for your great
aversion to marriage? If it be the wickedness of some women,
nothing can be more unreasonable and weak. I will not undertake
the defence of those that are bad; there are a great number of
them undoubtedly; but it would be the height of injustice on
their account to condemn all the sex. Alas! my son, you have in
your books read of many bad women, who have occasioned great
mischief, and I will not excuse them: but you do not consider how
many monarchs, sultans, and other princes there have been in the
world, whose tyrannies, barbarities, and cruelties astonish those
that read of them, as well as myself. Now, for one wicked woman,
you will meet with a thousand tyrants and barbarians; and what
torment do you think must a good woman undergo, who is matched
with any of these wretches?"
"Madam," replied the prince, "I doubt not there are a great
number of wise, virtuous, good, affable, and well-behaved women
in the world; would to God they all resembled you! But what
deters me is, the hazardous choice a man is obliged to make, and
oftentimes one has not the liberty of following his inclination.
"Let us suppose then, madam," continued he, "that I had a mind to
marry, as the sultan my father so earnestly desires; what wife,
think you, would he be likely to provide for me? Probably a
princess whom he would demand of some neighbouring prince, and
who would think it an honour done him to send her. Handsome or
ugly, she must be taken; nay, suppose no other princess excelled
her in beauty, who can be certain that her temper would be good;
that she would be affable, complaisant, easy, obliging, and the
like? That her conversation would generally turn on solid
subjects, and not on dress, fashions, ornaments, and a thousand
such fooleries, which would disgust any man of sense? In a word,
that she would not be haughty, proud, arrogant, impertinent,
scornful, and waste an estate in frivolous expenses, such as gay
clothes, jewels, toys, and foolish mistaken magnificence?
"You see, madam," continued he, "by one single article, how many
reasons a man may have to be disgusted at marriage. Let this
princess be ever so perfect, accomplished, and irreproachable in
her conduct, I have yet a great many more reasons not to alter my
opinion and resolution."
"What, son," exclaimed Fatima; "have you then more reasons after
those you have already alleged? I do not doubt of being able to
answer them, and stop your mouth with a word." "You may proceed,
madam," returned the prince, "and perhaps I may find a reply to
"I mean, son," said Fatima, "that it is easy for a prince, who
has had the misfortune to marry such a wife as you describe, to
get rid of her, and take care that she may not ruin the state."
"Ah, madam," replied the prince, "but you do not consider what a
mortification it would be to a person of my quality to be obliged
to come to such an extremity. Would it not have been more for his
honour and quiet that he had never run such a risk?"
"But, son," said Fatima once more, "as you take the case, I
apprehend you have a mind to be the last king of your race, who
have reigned so long and gloriously over the isles of the
children of Khaledan?"
"Madam," replied the prince, "for myself I do not desire to
survive the king my father; and if I should die before him, it
would be no great matter of wonder, since so many children have
died before their parents. But it is always glorious to a race of
kings, that it should end with a prince worthy to be so, as I
should endeavour to make myself like my predecessors, and like
the first of our race."
From that time Fatima had frequent conferences with her son the
prince on the same subject; and she omitted no opportunity or
argument to endeavour to root out his aversion to the fair sex;
but he eluded all her reasonings by such arguments as she could
not well answer, and continued unaltered.
The year expired, and, to the great regret of the sultan, prince
Kummir al Zummaun gave not the least proof of having changed his
sentiments. One day, therefore, when there was a great council
held, the prime vizier, the other viziers, the principal officers
of the crown, and the generals of the army being present, the
sultan thus addressed the prince: "My son, it is now a long while
since I expressed to you my earnest desire to see you married,
and I imagined you would have had more complaisance for a father,
who required nothing unreasonable of you, than to oppose him so
long. But after such a resistance on your part, which has almost
worn out my patience, I have thought fit to propose the same
thing once more to you in the presence of my council. It is not
merely to oblige a parent that you ought to have acceded to my
wish, the well-being of my dominions requires your compliance,
and this assembly join with me in expecting it: declare yourself,
then; that your answer may regulate my proceedings."
The prince answered with so little reserve, or rather with so
much warmth, that the sultan, enraged to see himself thwarted by
him in full council, exclaimed, "How, unnatural son! have you the
insolence to talk thus to your father and sultan?" He ordered the
guards to take him away, and carry him to an old tower that had
been long unoccupied; where he was shut up, with only a bed, a
little furniture, some books, and one slave to attend him.
Kummir al Zummaun, thus deprived of liberty, was nevertheless
pleased that he had the freedom to converse with his books, which
made him regard his confinement with indifference. In the evening
he bathed and said his prayers; and after having read some
chapters in the Koraun, with the same tranquillity of mind as if
he had been in the sultan's palace, he undressed himself and went
to bed, leaving his lamp burning by him while he slept.
In this tower was a well, which served in the daytime for a
retreat to a certain fairy, named Maimoune, daughter of Damriat,
king or head of a legion of genies. It was about midnight when
Maimoune sprung lightly to the mouth of the well, to wander about
the world after her wonted custom, where her curiosity led her.
She was surprised to see a light in the prince's chamber. She
entered, and without stopping at the slave who lay at the door,
approached the bed.
The prince had but half covered his face with the bed-clothes,
which Maimoune lifted up, and perceived the finest young man she
had ever seen in her rambles through the world. "What beauty, or
rather what prodigy of beauty," said she within herself, "must
this youth appear, when the eyes, concealed by such well-formed
eyelids, shall be open? What crime can he have committed, that a
man of his high rank can deserve to be treated thus rigorously?"
for she had already heard his story, and could hardly believe it.
She could not forbear admiring the prince, till at length having
kissed him gently on both cheeks, and in the middle of the
forehead, without waking him, she laid the bed-clothes in the
order they were in before, and took her flight into the air. As
she was ascending into the middle region, she heard a great
flapping of wings, towards which she directed her course; and
when she approached, she knew it was a genie who made the noise,
but it was one of those that are rebellious against God. As for
Maimoune, she belonged to that class whom the great Solomon had
compelled to acknowledge him.
This genie, whose name was Danhasch, and son of Schamhourasch,
knew Maimoune, and was seized with fear, being sensible how much
power she had over him by her submission to the Almighty. He
would fain have avoided her, but she was so near him, he must
either fight or yield. He therefore broke silence first.
"Brave Maimoune," said he, in the tone of a suppliant, "swear to
me in the name of the great God, that you will not hurt me; and I
swear also on my part not to do you any harm."
"Cursed genie," replied Maimoune, "what hurt canst thou do me? I
fear thee not; but I will grant thee this favour; I will swear
not to do thee any harm. Tell me then, wandering spirit, whence
thou comest, what thou hast seen, and what thou hast done this
night?" "Fair lady," answered Danhasch, "you meet me in a good
time to hear something very wonderful."
Danhasch, the genie rebellious against God, proceeded and said to
Maimoune, "Since you desire, I will inform you that I have come
from the utmost limits of China, which comprise the remotest
islands of this hemisphere. . . . . But, charming Maimoune," said
Danhasch, who trembled with fear at the sight of this fairy, so
that he could hardly speak, "promise me at least you will forgive
me, and let me proceed after I have satisfied your request."
"Go on, cursed spirit," replied Maimoune; "go on, and fear
nothing. Dost thou think I am as perfidious as thyself, and
capable of breaking the solemn oath I have made? Be sure you
relate nothing but what is true, or I shall clip thy wings, and
treat thee as thou deserves"
Danhasch, a little encouraged by the words of Maimoune, said, "My
dear lady, I will tell you nothing but what is strictly true, if
you will but have the goodness to hear me. The country of China,
from whence I come, is one of the largest and most powerful
kingdoms of the earth, on which depend the remotest islands of
this hemisphere, as I have already told you. The king of this
country is at present Gaiour, who has an only daughter, the
finest woman that ever was seen in the world since it has been a
world. Neither you nor I, neither your class nor mine, nor all
our respective genies, have expressions forcible enough, nor
eloquence sufficient to convey an adequate description of her
charms. Her hair is brown, and of such length as to trail on the
ground; and so thick, that when she has fastened it in buckles on
her head, it may be fitly compared to one of those fine clusters
of grapes whose fruit is so very large. Her forehead is as smooth
as the best polished mirror, and admirably formed. Her eyes are
black, sparkling, and full of fire. Her nose is neither too long
nor too short, and her mouth small and of a vermilion colour. Her
teeth are like two rows of pearls, and surpass the finest in
whiteness. When she moves her tongue to speak, she utters a sweet
and most agreeable voice; and expresses herself in such terms, as
sufficiently indicate the vivacity of her wit. The whitest
alabaster is not fairer than her neck. In a word, by this
imperfect sketch, you may guess there is no beauty likely to
exceed her in the world.
"Any one that did not know the king, the father of this
incomparable princess, would be apt to imagine, from the great
respect and kindness he shews her, that he was enamoured with
her. Never did a lover more for the most beloved mistress than he
has been seen to do for her. The most violent jealousy never
suggested such measures as his care has led him to adopt, to keep
her from every one but the man who is to marry her: and that the
retreat in which he has resolved to place her may not seem
irksome, he has built for her seven palaces, the most
extraordinary and magnificent that ever were known.
"The first palace is of rock crystal, the second of brass, the
third of fine steel, the fourth of another kind of brass more
valuable than the former and also than steel, the fifth of
touchstone, the sixth of silver, and the seventh of massive gold.
He has furnished these palaces most sumptuously, each in a manner
corresponding to the materials of the structure. He has
embellished the gardens with parterres of grass and flowers,
intermixed with pieces of water, water-works, jets d'eau, canals,
cascades, and several great groves of trees, where the eye is
lost in the perspective, and where the sun never enters, and all
differently arranged. King Gaiour, in a word, has shewn that his
paternal love has led him to spare no expense.
"Upon the fame of this incomparable princess's beauty, the most
powerful neighbouring kings have sent ambassadors to solicit her
in marriage. The king of China received them all in the same
obliging manner; but as he resolved not to marry his daughter
without her consent, and she did not like any of the parties, the
ambassadors were forced to return as they came, as to the subject
of their embassy; they were perfectly satisfied with the great
honours and civilities they had received.
"‘Sir,' said the princess to the king her father, ‘ you have an
inclination to see me married, and think to oblige me by it; but
where shall I find such stately palaces and delicious gardens as
are furnished me by your majesty? Through your good pleasure I am
under no constraint, and have the same honours shewn to me as are
paid to yourself. These are advantages I cannot expect to find
any where else, whoever may be my husband; men love to be
masters, and I have no inclination to be commanded.'
"After several other embassies on the same occasion, there
arrived one from a king more opulent and powerful than any of the
preceding. This prince the king of China recommended to his
daughter for her husband, urging many forcible arguments to shew
how much it would be to her advantage to accept him, but she
entreated her father to excuse her compliance for the reasons she
had before urged. He pressed her; but instead of consenting, she
lost all the respect due to the king her father: ‘ Sir,' said
she, in anger, ‘talk to me no more of this or any other match,
unless you would have me plunge this dagger in my bosom, to
deliver myself from your importunities'
"The king, greatly enraged, said, ‘Daughter, you are mad, and I
must treat you accordingly.' In a word, he had her shut up in a
single apartment of one of his palaces, and allowed her only ten
old women to wait upon her, and keep her company, the chief of
whom had been her nurse That the kings his neighbours, who had
sent embassies to him on her account, might not think any more of
her, he despatched envoys to them severally, to let them know how
averse his daughter was to marriage; and as he did not doubt but
she was really mad, he charged them to make known in every court,
that if there were any physician that would undertake to cure
her, he should, if he succeeded, have her for his pains.
"Fair Maimoune," continued Danhasch, "all that I have told you is
true; and I have gone every day regularly to contemplate this
incomparable beauty, to whom I would be sorry to do the least
harm, notwithstanding my natural inclination to mischief. Come
and see her, I conjure you; it would be well worth your while.
When you have seen from your own observation that I am no liar, I
am persuaded you will think yourself obliged to me for the sight
of a princess unequalled in beauty."
Instead of answering Danhasch, Maimoune burst out into violent
laughter, which lasted for some time; and Danhasch, not knowing
what might be the occasion of it, was astonished beyond measure.
When she had done laughing, she exclaimed, "Good, good, very
good! You would have me then believe all you have told me? I
thought you designed to tell me something surprising and
extraordinary, and you have been talking all this while of a mad
woman. Fie, fie! what would you say, cursed genie, if you had
seen the beautiful prince from whom I am just come, and whom I
love as he deserves. I am confident you would soon give up the
contest, and not pretend to compare your choice with mine."
"Agreeable Maimoune," replied Danhasch, "may I presume to ask who
this prince you speak of is?" "Know," answered Maimoune, "the
same thing has happened to him as to your princess. The king his
father would have married him against his will; but after much
importunity, he frankly told him he would have nothing to do with
a wife. For this reason he is at this moment imprisoned in an old
tower where I reside."
"I will not absolutely contradict you," replied Danhasch; "but,
my pretty lady, you must give me leave to be of opinion, till I
have seen your prince, that no mortal upon earth can equal my
princess in beauty." "Hold thy tongue, cursed sprite," replied
Maimoune. "I tell thee once more thou art wrong." "I will not
contend with you," said Danhasch, "but the way to be convinced,
whether what I say be true or false, is to accept of my proposal
to go and see my princess, and after that I will go with you to
"There is no need I should be at so much trouble," replied
Maimoune; "there is another way to satisfy us both; and that is,
for you to bring your princess, and place her at my prince's bed-
side: by this means it will be easy for us to compare them
together, and determine the dispute."
Danhasch consented, and determined to set out immediately for
China. But Maimoune drew him aside, and told him, she must first
shew him the tower whither he was to bring the princess. They
flew together to the tower, and when Maimoune had strewn it to
Danhasch, she cried, "Go fetch your princess, and do it quickly,
you will find me here."
Danhasch left Maimoune, and flew towards China, whence he soon
returned with incredible speed, bringing the fair princess along
with him asleep. Maimoune received him, and introduced him into
the chamber of Kummir al Zummaun, where they placed the princess
by the prince's side.
When the prince and princess were thus laid together, there arose
a sharp contest between the genie and the fairy about the
preference of their beauty. They were some time admiring and
comparing them without speaking; at length Danhasch said to
Maimoune, "You see, and I have already told you, my princess was
handsomer than your prince; now, I hope, you are convinced."
"How! convinced!" replied Maimoune; "I am not convinced, and you
must be blind, if you cannot see that my prince excels in the
comparison. That the princess is fair, I do not deny; but if you
compare them together without prejudice, you will soon see the
"How much soever I may compare them," returned Danhasch, "I shall
never change my opinion. I saw at first sight what I now behold,
and time will not make me see differently: however, this shall
not hinder my yielding to you, charming Maimoune, if you desire
it." "What! have you yield to me as a favour! I scorn it," said
Maimoune, "I would not receive a favour at the hand of such a
wicked genie. I will refer the matter to an umpire, and if you do
not consent, I shall win by your refusal."
Danhasch, who was ready to have shewn a different kind of
complaisance, no sooner gave his consent, than Maimoune stamped
with her foot. The earth opened, and out came a hideous, hump-
backed, squinting, and lame genie, with six horns upon his head,
and claws on his hands and feet. As soon as he was come out, and
the earth had closed, perceiving Maimoune, he threw himself at
her feet, and then rising on one knee, inquired her commands.
"Rise, Caschcasch," said Maimoune, "I brought you hither to
determine a difference between me and this cursed Danhasch. Look
on that bed, and tell me without partiality who is the handsomer
of those two that lie there asleep, the young man or the young
Caschcasch looked on the prince and princess with great
attention, admiration, and surprise; and after he had considered
them a good while, without being able to determine, he turned to
Maimoune, and said, "Madam, I must confess I should deceive you,
and betray myself, if I pretended to say one was handsomer than
the other. The more I examine them, the more clearly it appears
to me each possesses, in a sovereign degree, the beauty of which
both partake. Neither of them appears to have the least defect,
to yield to the other the palm of superiority; but if there be
any difference, the best way to determine it is, to awaken them
one after the other, and to agree that the person who shall
express most love for the other by ardour, eagerness, and
passion, shall be deemed to have in some respect less beauty."
This proposal of Caschcasch's pleased both Maimoune and Danhasch.
Maimoune then changed herself into a flea, and leaping on the
prince's neck, stung him so smartly, that he awoke, and put up
his hand to the place; but Maimoune skipped away, and resumed her
pristine form, which, like those of the two genies, was
invisible, the better to observe what he would do.
In drawing back his hand, the prince chanced to let it fall on
that of the princess of China. He opened his eyes, and was
exceedingly surprised to find lying by him a lady of the greatest
beauty. He raised his head, and leaned on his elbow, the better
to observe her. Her blooming youth and incomparable beauty fired
him in a moment with a flame of which he had never yet been
sensible, and from which he had hitherto guarded himself with the
Love seized on his heart in the most lively manner, and he
exclaimed, "What beauty! what charms! my heart! my soul!" As he
spoke he kissed her forehead, her cheeks, and her mouth with so
little caution, that he would have awakened her, had she not
slept sounder than ordinary, through the enchantment of Danhasch.
"How!" said the prince, "do you not awake at these testimonies of
love?" He was going to awake her, but suddenly refrained. "Is not
this she," said he, "that the sultan my father would have had me
marry? He was in the wrong not to let me see her sooner. I should
not have offended him by my disobedience and passionate language
to him in public, and he would have spared himself the confusion
which I have occasioned him."
The prince began to repent sincerely of the fault he had
committed, and was once more on the point of awaking the princess
of China. "It may be," said he, "that the sultan my father has a
mind to surprise me; and has sent this young lady to try if I had
really that aversion to marriage which I pretended. Who knows but
he has brought her himself, and is hidden behind the hangings, to
observe me, and make me ashamed of my dissimulation? The second
fault would be greater than the first. At all events, I will
content myself with this ring, as a remembrance of her."
He then gently drew off a ring which the princess had on her
finger, and immediately replaced it with one of his own. After
this he fell into a more profound sleep than before, through the
enchantment of the genies.
Danhasch now transformed himself into a flea in his turn, and bit
the princess so rudely on the lip, that she awoke, started up,
and on opening her eyes, was not a little surprised to see a man
lying by her side. From surprise she proceeded to admiration, and
from admiration to a transport of joy, at beholding so beautiful
and lovely a youth.
"What!" cried she, "is it you the king my father has designed me
for a husband? Would that I had known it, for then I should not
have displeased him, nor been deprived of a husband whom I cannot
forbear loving. Wake then, awake!"
So saying, she took the prince by the arm, and shook him so
violently, that he would have awaked, had not Maimoune increased
his sleep by her enchantment. She shook him several times, and
finding he did not awake, exclaimed, "What is come to thee? what
jealous rival, envying thy happiness and mine, has had recourse
to magic to throw thee into this unconquerable drowsiness when
thou shouldst be most awake?" Tired at length with her fruitless
endeavours to awaken the prince; "Since," said she, "I find it is
not in my power to awake thee, I will no longer disturb thy
repose, but wait our next meeting." After having kissed his
cheek, she lay down and fell asleep by enchantment.
Maimoune now cried out to Danhasch, "Ah, cursed genie, art thou
not now convinced how much thy princess is inferior to my prince?
Another time believe me when I assert any thing." Then turning to
Caschcasch, "As for you," said she, "I thank you for your
trouble; take the princess, in conjunction with Danhasch, and
convey her back again to her bed, from whence he has taken her."
Danhasch and Caschcasch did as they were commanded, and Maimoune
retired to her well.
Kummir al Zummaun on waking next morning, looked if the lady whom
he had seen the night before were by him. When he found she was
gone, he cried out, "I thought indeed this was a trick the king
my father designed to play me. I am glad I was aware of it." He
then awaked the slave, who was still asleep, and after he had
washed and said his prayers, took a book and read some time.
After these usual exercises, he called the slave, and said to
him, "Come hither, and be sure you do not tell me a lie. How came
the lady hither who lay with me to-night, and who brought her?"
"My lord," answered the slave with great astonishment, "I know
not what lady your highness speaks of." "I speak," said the
prince, "of her who came, or rather was brought hither, and lay
with me to-night." "My lord," replied the slave, "I swear I know
of no such lady; and how should she come in without my knowledge,
since I lay at the door?"
"You are a lying knave," replied the prince, "and in the plot to
vex and provoke me." He then gave him a box on the ear, which
knocked him down; and after having stamped upon him for some
time, he tied the well-rope under his arms, and plunged him
several times into the water, neck and heels. "I will drown
thee," cried he, "if thou dost not tell me directly who this lady
was, and who brought her."
The slave, perplexed and half dead, said within himself, "The
prince must have lost his senses through grief, and I shall not
escape if I do not tell him a falsehood. My lord," cried he, in a
suppliant tone, "I beseech your highness to spare my life, and I
will tell you the truth."
The prince drew the slave up, and pressed him to tell him. As
soon as he was out of the well, "My lord," said he, trembling,
"your highness must perceive it is impossible for me to satisfy
you in my present condition; I beg you to give me leave first to
go and change my clothes." "I permit you, but do it quickly,"
said the prince; "and be sure you conceal nothing."
The slave went out, and having locked the door upon the prince,
ran to the palace just as he was. The king was at that time in
discourse with his prime vizier, to whom he had just related the
grief in which he had passed the night on account of his son's
disobedience and opposition to his will.
The minister endeavoured to comfort his master, by telling him,
the prince himself had given him cause for his severity. "Sir,"
said he, "your majesty need not repent of having treated your son
in this manner. Have but patience to let him continue a while in
prison, and assure yourself his heat will abate, and he will
submit to all you require."
The grand vizier had but just done speaking when the slave came
in, and cast himself at the feet of the sovereign. "My lord,"
said he, "I am sorry to be the messenger of ill news to your
majesty, which I know must occasion you fresh affliction. The
prince is distracted; he raves of a lady having lain with him all
night, and his treatment of me, as you may see, too plainly
proves the state of his mind." Then he proceeded to relate the
particulars of what the prince had said, and the violence with
which he had been treated.
The king, who did not expect to hear any thing of this afflicting