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The Arabian Nights Entertainments Complete by Anon.

Part 2 out of 28

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"Knowest thou," said the king, when he saw him, "why I sent for
thee?" "No, Sir," answered he; "I wait till your majesty be
pleased to inform me." "I sent for thee," replied the king, "to
rid myself of thee, by taking away thy life."

No man can express the surprise of the physician, when he heard
the sentence of death pronounced against him. "Sir," said he,
"why would your majesty take my life? What crime have I
committed?" "I am informed," replied the king, "that you came to
my court only to attempt my life; but to prevent you, I will be
sure of yours. Give the blow," said he to the executioner, who
was present, "and deliver me from a perfidious wretch, who came
hither on purpose to assassinate me."

When the physician heard this cruel order, he readily judged that
the honours and presents he had received from the king had
procured him enemies, and that the weak prince was imposed on. He
repented that he had cured him of his leprosy; but it was now too
late. "Is it thus," asked the physician, "that you reward me for
curing you?" The king would not hearken to him, but a second time
ordered the executioner to strike the fatal blow. The physician
then had recourse to his prayers; "Alas, Sir," cried he, "prolong
my days, and God will prolong yours; do not put me to death, lest
God treat you in the same manner."

The fisherman broke off his discourse here, to apply it to the
genie. "Well, genie," said he, "you see that what passed betwixt
the Grecian king and his physician Douban is acted just now by

The Grecian king, continued he, instead of having regard to the
prayers of the physician, who begged him to spare his life,
cruelly replied, "No, no; I must of necessity cut you off,
otherwise you may assassinate with as much art as you cured me."
The physician, without bewailing himself for being so ill
rewarded by the king, prepared for death. The executioner tied
his hands, and was going to draw his cimeter.

The courtiers who were present, being moved with compassion,
begged the king to pardon him, assuring his majesty that he was
not guilty of the crime laid to his charge, and that they would
answer for his innocence: but the king was inflexible.

The physician being on his knees, his eyes tied up, and ready to
receive the fatal blow, addressed himself once more to the king:
"Sir," said he, "since your majesty will not revoke the sentence
of death, I beg, at least, that you would give me leave to return
to my house, to give orders about my burial, to bid farewell to
my family, to give alms, and to bequeath my books to those who
are capable of making good use of them. I have one particularly I
would present to your majesty; it is a very precious book, and
worthy of being laid up carefully in your treasury." "What is
it," demanded the king, "that makes it so valuable?" "Sir,"
replied the physician, "it possesses many singular and curious
properties; of which the chief is, that if your majesty will give
yourself the trouble to open it at the sixth leaf, and read the
third line of the left page, my head, after being cut off, will
answer all the questions you ask it." The king being curious,
deferred his death till next day, and sent him home under a
strong guard.

The physician, during that time, put his affairs in order; and
the report being spread, that an unheard of prodigy was to happen
after his death, the viziers, emirs, officers of the guard, and,
in a word, the whole court, repaired next day to the hall of
audience, that they might be witnesses of it.

The physician Douban was brought in, and advancing to the foot of
the throne, with a book in his hand, he called for a basin, and
laid upon it the cover in which the book was wrapped; then
presenting the book to the king, "Take this," said he, "and after
my head is cut off, order that it be put into the basin upon that
cover; as soon as it is placed there, the blood will stop; then
open the book, and my head will answer your questions. But permit
me once more to implore your majesty's clemency; for God's sake
grant my request, I protest to you that I am innocent." "Your
prayers," answered the king, "are in vain; and were it for
nothing but to hear your head speak after your death, it is my
will you should die." As he said this, he took the book out of
the physician's hand, and ordered the executioner to do his duty.

The head was so dexterously cut off that it fell into the basin,
and was no sooner laid upon the cover of the book than the blood
stopped; then to the great surprise of the king, and all the
spectators, its eyes, and said, "Sir, will your majesty be
pleased to open the book?" The king proceeded to do so; but
finding that the leaves adhered to each other, that he might turn
them with more ease, he put his finger to his mouth, and wetted
it with spittle. He did thus till he came to the sixth leaf, and
finding no writing on the place where he was desired to look for
it, "Physician," said he, "there is nothing written." "Turn over
some more leaves," replied the head. The king went on, putting
always his finger to his mouth, until the poison with which each
leaf was imbued, coming to have its effect, the prince found
himself suddenly taken with an extraordinary fit, his eye-sight
failed, and he fell down at the foot of the throne in violent

When the physician Douban, or rather his head, saw that the
poison had taken effect, and that the king had but a few moments
to live; "Tyrant," it cried, "now you see how princes are
treated, who, abusing their authority, cut off innocent men: God
punishes soon or late their injustice and cruelty." Scarcely had
the head spoken these words, when the king fell down dead, and
the head itself lost what life it had.

As soon as the fisherman had concluded the history of the Greek
king and his physician Douban, he made the application to the
genie, whom he still kept shut up in the vessel. "If the Grecian
king," said he, "had suffered the physician to live, God would
have continued his life also; but he rejected his most humble
prayers, and the case is the same with thee, O genie! Could I
have prevailed with thee to grant me the favour I supplicated, I
should now take pity on thee; but since, notwithstanding the
extreme obligation thou west under to me, for having set thee at
liberty, thou didst persist in thy design to kill me, I am
obliged, in my turn, to be equally hard-hearted to thee."

"My good friend fisherman," replied the genie, "I conjure thee
once more, not to be guilty of such cruelty; consider, that it is
not good to avenge one's self, and that on the other hand, it is
commendable to do good for evil; do not treat me as Imama
formerly treated Ateca." "And what did Imama to Ateca?" enquired
the fisherman. "Ho!" says the genie, "if you have a mind to be
informed, open the vessel: do you think that I can be in an
humour to relate stories in so strait a prison? I will tell you
as many as you please, when you have let me out." "No," said the
fisherman, "I will not let thee out; it is in vain to talk of it;
I am just going to throw thee into the bottom of the sea." "Hear
me one word more," cried the genie; "I promise to do thee no
hurt; nay, far from that, I will shew thee a way to become
exceedingly rich."

The hope of delivering himself from poverty, prevailed with the
fisherman. "I could listen to thee," said he, "were there any
credit to be given to thy word; swear to me by the great name of
God, that you will faithfully perform what you promise, and I
will open the vessel; I do not believe you will dare to break
such an oath."

The genie swore to him, upon which the fisherman immediately took
off the covering of the vessel. At that instant the smoke
ascended, and the genie having resumed his form, the first thing
he did was to kick the vessel into the sea. This action alarmed
the fisherman. "Genie," said he, "will not you keep the oath you
just now made? And must I say to you, as the physician Douban
said to the Grecian king, suffer me to live, and God will prolong
your days."

The genie laughed at the fisherman's fear, and answered, "No,
fisherman, be not afraid, I only did it to divert myself, and to
see if thou wouldst be alarmed at it: but to convince thee that I
am in earnest, take thy nets and follow me." As he spoke these
words, he walked before the fisherman, who having taken up his
nets, followed him, but with some distrust. They passed by the
town, and came to the top of a mountain, from whence they
descended into a vast plain, which brought them to a lake, that
lay betwixt four hills.

When they reached the side of the lake, the genie said to the
fisherman, "Cast in thy nets, and catch fish; "the fisherman did
not doubt of taking some, because he saw a great number in the
water; but he was extremely surprised, when he found they were of
four colours, that is to say, white, red, blue, and yellow. He
threw in his nets, and brought out one of each colour. Having
never seen the like before, he could not but admire them, and
judging that he might get a considerable sum for them, he was
very joyful. "Carry those fish," said the genie to him, "and
present them to thy sultan; he will give thee more money for
them. Thou mayest come every day to fish in this lake; but I give
thee warning not to throw in thy nets above once a day, otherwise
thou wilt repent." Having spoken thus, he struck his foot upon
the ground, which opened, and after it had swallowed him up
closed again.

The fisherman being resolved to follow the genie's advice,
forbore casting in his nets a second time; and returned to the
town very well satisfied; and making a thousand reflections upon
his adventure. He went immediately to the sultan's palace, to
offer his fish.

The sultan was much surprised, when he saw the four fish which
the fisherman presented. He took them up one after another, and
viewed them with attention; and after having admired them a long
time, "Take those fish," said he to his vizier, "and carry them
to the cook, whom the emperor of the Greeks has sent me. I cannot
imagine but that they must be as good as they are beautiful."

The vizier, carried them as he was directed, and delivering them
to the cook, said, "Here are four fish just brought to the
sultan; he orders you to dress them:" he then returned to the
sultan his master, who ordered him to give the fisherman four
hundred pieces of gold of the coin of that country, which he did

The fisherman, who had never seen so much money, could scarcely
believe his good fortune, but thought the whole must be a dream,
until he found it otherwise, by being able to provide necessaries
for his family with the produce of his fish.

As soon as the sultan's cook had gutted the fish, she put them
upon the fire in a frying-pan, with oil, and when she thought
them fried enough on one side, she turned them upon the other;
but, O monstrous prodigy! scarcely were they turned, when the
wall of the kitchen divided, and a young lady of wonderful beauty
entered from the opening. She was clad in flowered satin, after
the Egyptian manner, with pendants in her ears, a necklace of
large pearls, and bracelets of gold set with rubies, with a rod
in her hand. She moved towards the frying-pan, to the great
amazement of the cook, who continued fixed by the sight, and
striking one of the fish with the end of the rod, said, "Fish,
fish, are you in duty?" The fish having answered nothing, she
repeated these words, and then the four fish lifted up their
heads, and replied, "Yes, yes: if you reckon, we reckon; if you
pay your debts, we pay ours; if you fly, we overcome, and are
content." As soon as they had finished these words, the lady
overturned the frying-pan, and returned into the open part of the
wall, which closed immediately, and became as it was before.

The cook was greatly frightened at what had happened, and coming
a little to herself, went to take up the fish that had fallen on
the hearth, but found them blacker than coal, and not fit to be
carried to the sultan. This grievously troubled her, and she fell
to weeping most bitterly. "Alas!" said she, "what will become of
me? If I tell the sultan what I have seen, I am sure he will not
believe me, but will be enraged against me."

While she was thus bewailing herself, the grand vizier entered,
and asked her if the fish were ready? She told him all that had
occurred, which we may easily imagine astonished him; but without
speaking a word of it to the sultan, he invented an excuse that
satisfied him, and sending immediately for the fisherman, bid him
bring four more such fish, for a misfortune had befallen the
others, so that they were not fit to be carried to the sultan.
The fisherman, without saying any thing of what the genie had
told him, in order to excuse himself from bringing them that day,
told the vizier, he had a great way to go for them, but would
certainly bring them on the morrow.

Accordingly the fisherman went away by night, and coming to the
lake, threw in his nets betimes next morning, took four fish like
the former, and brought them to the vizier, at the hour
appointed. The minister took them himself, carried them to the
kitchen, and shutting himself up with the cook, she gutted them,
and put them on the fire, as she had done the four others the day
before. When they were fried on one side, and she had turned them
upon the other, the kitchen wall again opened, and the same lady
came in with the rod in her hand, struck one of the fish, spoke
to it as before, and all four gave her the same answer.

After the four fish had answered the young lady, she overturned
the frying-pan with her rod, and retired into the wall. The grand
vizier, being witness to what had passed: "This is too wonderful
and extraordinary," said he, "to be concealed from the sultan; I
will inform him of this prodigy."

The sultan, being much surprised, sent immediately for the
fisherman, and said to him, "Friend, cannot you bring me four
more such fish?" The fisherman replied, "If your majesty will be
pleased to allow me three days, I will do it." Having obtained
his time, he went to the lake immediately, and at the first
throwing in of his net, he caught four fish, and brought them
directly to the sultan; who was so much the more rejoiced, as he
did not expect them so soon, and ordered him four hundred pieces
of gold. As soon as the sultan had the fish, he ordered them to
be carried into his closet, with all that was necessary for
frying them; and having shut himself up with the vizier, the
minister gutted them, put them into the pan, and when they were
fried on one side, turned them upon the other; then the wall of
the closet opened, but instead of the young lady, there came out
a black, in the habit of a slave, and of a gigantic stature, with
a great green staff in his hand. He advanced towards the pan, and
touching one of the fish with his staff, said with a terrible
voice, "Fish, are you in your duty?" At these words, the fish
raised up their heads, and answered, "Yes, yes; we are: if you
reckon, we reckon; if you pay your debts, we pay ours; if you
fly, we overcome, and are content."

The fish had no sooner finished these words, than the black threw
the pan into the middle of the closet, and reduced the fish to a
coal. Having done this, he retired fiercely, and entering again
into the aperture, it closed, and the wall appeared just as it
did before.

"After what I have seen," said the sultan to the vizier, "it will
not be possible for me to be easy: these fish, without doubt,
signify something extraordinary." He sent for the fisherman, and
when he came, said to him, "Fisherman, the fish you have brought
us, make me very uneasy; where did you catch them?" "Sir,"
answered he, "I fished for them in a lake situated betwixt four
hills, beyond the mountain that we see from hence." "Knowst thou
not that lake?" said the sultan to the vizier. "No," replied the
vizier. "I never so much as heard of it, although I have for
sixty years hunted beyond that mountain." The sultan asked the
fisherman, how far the lake might be from the palace? The
fisherman answered, it was not above three hours journey; upon
this assurance, the sultan commanded all his court to take horse,
and the fisherman served them for a guide. They all ascended the
mountain, and at the foot of it they saw, to their great
surprise, a vast plain, that nobody had observed till then, and
at last they came to the lake, which they found to be situated
betwixt four hills as the fisherman had described. The water was
so transparent, that they observed all the fish to be like those
which the fisherman had brought to the palace.

The sultan stood upon the bank of the lake, and after beholding
the fish with admiration, demanded of his courtiers, if it were
possible they had never seen this lake, which was within so short
a distance of the town. They all answered, that they had never so
much as heard of it.

"Since you all agree that you never heard of it, and as I am no
less astonished than you are, at this novelty, I am resolved not
to return to my palace till I learn how this lake came here, and
why all the fish in it are of four colours." Having spoken thus,
he ordered his court to encamp; and immediately his pavilion and
the tents of his household were planted upon the banks of the

When night came, the sultan retired under his pavilion, and spoke
to the grand vizier. thus: "Vizier, my mind is uneasy: this lake
transported hither; the black that appeared to us in my closet,
and the fish that we heard speak; all these things so much excite
my curiosity, that I cannot resist my impatient desire to have it
satisfied. To this end, I am resolved to withdraw alone from the
camp, and I order you to keep my absence secret: stay in my
pavilion, and to-morrow morning, when the emirs and courtiers
come to attend my levee, send them away, and tell them, that I am
somewhat indisposed, and wish to be alone; and the following days
tell them the same thing, till I return."

The grand vizier. endeavoured to divert the sultan from this
design; he represented to him the danger to which he might be
exposed, and that all his labour might perhaps be in vain: but it
was to no purpose; the sultan was resolved. He put on a suit fit
for walking, and took his cimeter; and as soon as he found that
all was quiet in the camp, went out alone, and passed over one of
the hills without much difficulty; he found the descent still
more easy, and when he came to the plain, walked on till the sun
arose, and then he saw before him, at a considerable distance, a
vast building. He rejoiced at the sight, in hopes of receiving
there the information he sought. When he drew near, he found it
was a magnificent palace, or rather a strong castle, of black
polished marble, and covered with fine steel, as smooth as glass.
Being highly pleased that he had so speedily met with something
worthy his curiosity, he stopped before the front of the castle,
and considered it with attention.

He then advanced towards the gate, which had two leaves, one of
them open; though he might immediately have entered, yet he
thought it best to knock. This he did at first softly, and waited
for some time; but seeing no one, and supposing he had not been
heard, he knocked harder the second time, and after that he
knocked again and again, but no one yet appearing, he was
exceedingly surprised; for he could not think that a castle in
such repair was without inhabitants. "If there be no one in it,"
said he to himself, "I have nothing to fear; and if it be
inhabited, I have wherewith to defend myself."

At last he entered, and when he came within the porch, he cried,
"Is there no one here to receive a stranger, who comes in for
some refreshment as he passes by?" He repeated the same words two
or three times; but though he spoke very loud, he was not
answered. The silence increased his astonishment: he came into a
spacious court, and looked on every side for inhabitants, but
discovered none.

The sultan entered the grand halls, which were hung with silk
tapestry, the alcoves and sofas were covered with stuffs of
Mecca, and the porches with the richest stuffs of India, mixed
with gold and silver. He came afterwards into a superb saloon, in
the middle of which was a fountain, with a lion of massy gold at
each angle: water issued from the mouths of the four lions; and
as it fell, formed diamonds and pearls, resembling a jet d'eau,
which springing from the middle of the fountain, rose nearly to
the top of a cupola painted in Arabesque.

The castle, on three sides, was encompassed by a garden, with
parterres of flowers, shrubbery, and whatever could concur to
embellish it; and to complete the beauty of the place, an
infinite number of birds filled the air with their harmonious
notes, and always remained there, nets being spread over the
garden, and fastened to the palace to confine them. The sultan
walked from apartment to apartment, where he found every thing
rich and magnificent. Being tired with walking, he sat down in a
verandah or arcade closet, which had a view over the garden,
reflecting what he had already seen, and then beheld: when
suddenly he heard the voice of one complaining, in lamentable
tones. He listened with attention, and heard distinctly these
words: "O fortune! thou who wouldst not suffer me longer to enjoy
a happy lot, forbear to persecute me, and by a speedy death put
an end to my sorrows. Alas! is it possible that I am still alive,
after so many torments as I have suffered!"

The sultan rose up, advanced toward the place whence he heard the
voice; and coming to the door of a great hall, opened it, and saw
a handsome young man, richly habited, seated upon a throne raised
a little above the ground. Melancholy was painted on his
countenance. The sultan drew near, and saluted him; the young man
returned his salutation by an inclination of his head, not being
able to rise, at the same time saying, "My lord, I should rise to
receive you; but am hindered by sad necessity, and therefore hope
you will not be offended." "My lord," replied the sultan, "I am
much obliged to you for having so good an opinion of me: as to
the reason of your not rising, whatever your apology be, I
heartily accept it. Being drawn hither by your complaints, and
afflicted by your grief, I come to offer you my help; would to
God that it lay in my power to ease you of your trouble! I would
do my utmost to effect it. I flatter myself that you will relate
to me the history of your misfortunes; but inform me first of the
meaning of the lake near the palace, where the fish are of four
colours? whose this castle is? how you came to be here? and why
you are alone?"

Instead of answering these questions, the young man began to weep
bitterly. "How inconstant is
fortune!" cried he; "she takes pleasure to pull down those she
had raised. Where are they who enjoy quietly the happiness which
they hold of her, and whose day is always clear and serene?"

The sultan, moved with compassion to see him in such a condition,
prayed him to relate the cause of his excessive grief. "Alas! my
lord," replied the young man, "how is it possible but I should
grieve, and my eyes be inexhaustible fountains of tears?" At
these words, lifting up his robe, he shewed the sultan that he
was a man only from the head to the girdle, and that the other
half of his body was black marble.

The sultan was much surprised, when he saw the deplorable
condition of the young man. "That which you shew me," said he,
"while it fills me with horror, excites my curiosity, so that I
am impatient to hear your history, which, no doubt, must be
extraordinary, and I am persuaded that the lake and the fish make
some part of it; therefore I conjure you to relate it. You will
find some comfort in so doing, since it is certain, that the
unfortunate find relief in making known their distress." "I will
not refuse your request," replied the young man, "though I cannot
comply without renewing my grief. But I give you notice before
hand, to prepare your ears, your mind, and even your eyes, for
things which surpass all that the imagination can conceive."

The History of the Young King of the Black Isles.

You must know that my father, named Mahmoud, was king of this
country. This is the kingdom of the Black Isles, which takes its
name from the four small neighbouring mountains; for these
mountains were formerly isles: the capital where the king my
father resided was situated on the spot now occupied by the lake
you have seen. The sequel of my history will inform you of those

The king my father died when he was seventy years of age; I had
no sooner succeeded him, than I married, and the lady I chose to
share the royal dignity with me, was my cousin. I had so much
reason to be satisfied with her affection, and, on my part, loved
her with so much tenderness, that nothing could surpass the
harmony and pleasure of our union. This lasted five years, at the
end of which time, I perceived the queen, my cousin, ceased to
delight in my attentions.

One day, after dinner, while she was at the bath, I found myself
inclined to repose and lay down upon a sofa. Two of her ladies,
who were then in my chamber, came and sat down, one at my head,
and the other at my feet, with fans in their hands to moderate
the heat, and to prevent the flies from disturbing me. They
thought I was asleep, and spoke in whispers; but as I only closed
my eyes, I heard all their conversation.

One of them said to the other, "Is not the queen wrong, not to
love so amiable a prince?" "Certainly," replied the other; "I do
not understand the reason, neither can I conceive why she goes
out every night, and leaves him alone!" "Is it possible that he
does not perceive it?" "Alas!" said the first, "how should he?
she mixes every evening in his liquor, the juice of a certain
herb, which makes him sleep so sound all night, that she has time
to go where she pleases, and as day begins to appear, she comes
and lies down by him again, and wakes him by the smell of
something she puts under his nostrils."

You may guess, my lord, how much I was surprised at this
conversation, and with what sentiments it inspired me; yet,
whatever emotion it excited, I had sufficient self-command to
dissemble, and feigned to awake without having heard a word.

The queen returned from the bath, we supped together and she
presented me with a cup full of such water as I was accustomed to
drink; but instead of putting it to my mouth, I went to a window
that was open, and threw out the water so quickly, that she did
not perceive it, and returned.

We went to bed together, and soon after, believing that I was
asleep, she got up with so little precaution, that she said loud
enough for me to hear her distinctly, "Sleep on, and may you
never wake again!" She dressed herself, and went out of the

As soon as the queen my wife was gone, I dressed myself in haste,
took my cimeter, and followed her so quickly, that I soon heard
the sound of her feet before me, and then walked softly after
her, for fear of being heard. She passed through several gates,
which opened upon her pronouncing some magical words, and the
last she opened was that of the garden, which she entered. I
stopt at this gate, that she might not perceive me, as she passed
along a parterre; then looking after her as far as the darkness
of the night permitted, I saw her enter a little wood, whose
walks were guarded by thick palisadoes. I went thither by another
way, and concealing myself behind the palisadoes of a long walk,
I saw her walking there with a man.

I did not fail to lend the most attentive ear to their discourse,
and heard her address herself thus to her gallant: "I do not
deserve to be reproached by you for want of diligence. You well
know the reason; but if all the proofs of affection I have
already given you be not sufficient to convince you of my
sincerity, I am ready to give you others more decisive: you need
but command me, you know my power; I will, if you desire it,
before sun-rise convert this great city, and this superb palace,
into frightful ruins, inhabited only by wolves, owls, and revens.
If you would have me transport all the stones of those walls so
solidly built, beyond mount Caucasus, or the bounds of the
habitable world, speak but the word, and all shall be changed."

As the queen finished these words she and her lover came to the
end of the walk, turned to enter another, and passed before me. I
had already drawn my cimeter, and her lover being next me, I
struck him on the neck, and brought him to the ground. I
concluded I had killed him, and therefore retired speedily
without making myself known to the queen, whom I chose to spare,
because she was my kinswoman.

The wound I had given her lover was mortal; but by her
enchantments she preserved him in an existence in which he could
not be said to be either dead or alive. As I crossed the garden
to return to the palace, I heard the queen loudly lamenting, and
judging by her cries how much she was grieved, I was pleased that
I had spared her life.

As soon as I had reached my apartment, I went to bed, and being
satisfied with having punished the villain who had injured me,
fell asleep; and when I awoke next morning, found the queen
lying. I cannot tell you whether she slept or not; but I arose,
went to my closet, and dressed myself. I afterwards held my
council. At my return, the queen, clad in mourning, her hair
dishevelled, and part of it torn off, presented herself before
me, and said; "I come to beg your majesty not to be surprised to
see me in this condition. My heavy affliction is occasioned by
intelligence of three distressing events which I have just
received." "Alas! what are they, madam?" said I. "The death of
the queen my dear mother," she replied, "that of the king my
father killed in battle, and of one of my brothers, who has
fallen down a precipice."

I was not displeased that she used this pretext to conceal the
true cause of her grief, and I concluded she had not suspected me
of being the author of her lover's death. "Madam," said I, "so
far from blaming, I assure you I heartily commiserate your
sorrow. I should feel surprise if you were insensible to such
heavy calamities: weep on; your tears are so many proofs of your
tenderness; but I hope that time and reflection will moderate
your grief."

She retired into her apartment, where, giving herself wholly up
to sorrow, she spent a whole year in mourning and lamentation. At
the end of that period, she begged permission to erect a burying
place for herself, within the bounds of the palace, where she
would continue, she told me, to the end of her days: I consented,
and she built a stately edifice, crowned by a cupola, which may
be seen from hence, and called it the Palace of Tears. When it
was finished, she caused her lover to be conveyed thither, from
the place to which she had caused him to be carried the night I
wounded him: she had hitherto prevented his dying, by potions
which she had administered to him; and she continued to convey
them to him herself every day after he came to the Palace of

Yet, with all her enchantments, she could not cure him; he was
not only unable to walk or support himself, but had also lost the
use of his speech, and exhibited no sign of life except in his
looks. Though the queen had no other consolation but to see him,
and to say to him all that her senseless passion could inspire,
yet every day she made him two long visits. I was well apprised
of this, but pretended ignorance.

One day my curiosity induced me to go to the Palace of Tears, to
observe how the princess employed herself, and from a place where
she could not see me, I heard her thus address her lover: "I am
afflicted to the highest degree to behold you in this condition;
I am as sensible as yourself of the tormenting pain you endure;
but, dear soul, I am continually speaking to you, and you do not
answer me: how long will you remain silent? Speak only one word:
alas! the sweetest moments of my life are these I spend here in
partaking of your grief. I cannot live at a distance from you,
and would prefer the pleasure of having you always before me, to
the empire of the universe."

At these words, which were several times interrupted by her sighs
and sobs, I lost all patience: and discovering myself, came up to
her, and said, "Madam, you have wept enough, it is time to give
over this sorrow, which dishonours both; you have too much
forgotten what you owe to me and to yourself." "Sire," said she,
"if you have any kindness or compassion for me left, I beseech
you to put no restraint upon me; allow me to indulge my grief,
which it is impossible for time to assuage."

When I perceived that my remonstrance, instead of restoring her
to a sense of duty, served only to increase her anguish, I gave
over and retired. She continued every day to visit her lover, and
for two whole years abandoned herself to grief and despair.

I went a second time to the Palace of Tears, while she was there.
I concealed myself again, and heard her thus address her lover:
"It is now three years since you spoke one word to me; you answer
not the proofs I give you of my love by my sighs and
lamentations. Is it from insensibility, or contempt? O tomb! hast
thou destroyed that excess of affection which he bare me? Hast
thou closed those eyes that evinced so much love, and were all my
delight? No, no, this I cannot think. Tell me rather, by what
miracle thou becamest the depositary of the rarest treasure the
world ever contained."

I must confess, my lord, I was enraged at these expressions; for,
in truth, this beloved, this adored mortal, was by no means what
you would imagine him to have been. He was a black Indian, one of
the original natives of this country. I was so enraged at the
language addressed to him, that I discovered myself, and
apostrophising the tomb in my turn; I cried, "O tomb! why dost
not thou swallow up that monster so revolting to human nature, or
rather why dost not thou swallow up both the lover and his

I had scarcely uttered these words, when the queen, who sat by
the black, rose up like a fury. "Miscreant!" said she "thou art
the cause of my grief; do not think I am ignorant of this, I have
dissembled too long. It was thy barbarous hand that brought the
objets of my fondness into this lamentable condition; and thou
hast the cruelty to come and insult a despairing lover." "Yes,"
said I, in a rage, "it was I that chastised that monster,
according to his desert; I ought to have treated thee in the same
manner; I now repent that I did not; thou hast too long abused my
goodness." As I spoke these words, I drew out my cimeter, and
lifted up my hand to punish her; but regarding me stedfastly, she
said with a jeering smile, "Moderate thy anger." At the same
time, she pronounced words I did not understand; and afterwards
added, "By virtue of my enchantments, I command thee to become
half marble and half man." Immediately, my lord, I became what
you see, a dead man among the living, and a living man among the

After the cruel sorceress, unworthy of the name of queen, had
metamorphosed me thus, and brought me into this hall, by another
enchantment she destroyed my capital, which was very flourishing
and populous; she annihilated the houses, the public places and
markets, and reduced the site of the whole to the lake and desert
plain you have seen; the fishes of four colours in the lake are
the four kinds of inhabitants of different religions, which the
city contained. The white are the Moosulmauns; the red, the
Persians, who worship fire; the blue, the Christians and the
yellow, the Jews. The four little hills were the four islands
that gave name to this kingdom. I learned all this from the
enchantress, who, to add to my affliction, related to me these
effects of her rage. But this is not all; her revenge not being
satisfied with the destruction of my dominions, and the
metamorphosis of my person, she comes every day, and gives me
over my naked shoulders a hundred lashes with a whip until I am
covered with blood. When she has finished this part of my
punishment, she throws over me a coarse stuff of goat's hair, and
over that this robe of brocade, not to honour, but to mock me.

When he came to this part of the narrative, the young king could
not restrain his tears; and the sultan was himself so affected by
the relation, that he could not find utterance for any words of
consolation. Shortly after, the young king, lifting up his eyes
to heaven, exclaimed, "Mighty creator of all things, I submit
myself to thy judgments, and to the decrees of thy providence: I
endure my calamities with patience, since it is thy will things
should be as they are; but I hope thy infinite goodness will
ultimately reward me."

The sultan, greatly moved by the recital of this affecting story,
and anxious to avenge the sufferings of the unfortunate prince,
said to him, "Inform me whither this perfidious sorceress
retires, and where may be found her vile paramour, who is
entombed before his death." "My lord," replied the prince, "her
lover, as I have already told you, is lodged in the Palace of
Tears, in a superb tomb constructed in the form of a dome: this
palace joins the castle on the side in which the gate is placed.
As to the queen, I cannot tell you precisely whither she retires,
but every day at sun-rise she goes to visit her paramour, after
having executed her bloody vengeance upon me; and you see I am
not in a condition to defend myself. She carries to him the
potion with which she had hitherto prevented his dying, and
always complains of his never having spoken to her since he was

"Prince," said the sultan, "your condition can never be
sufficiently deplored: no one can be more sensibly affected by
your misfortunes than I am. Never did any thing so extraordinary
befall any man, and those who write your history will have the
advantage of relating what surpasses all that has hitherto been
recorded. One thing only is wanting; the revenge to which you are
entitled, and I will omit nothing in my power to effect it."

In his subsequent conversation with the young prince, the sultan
told him who he was, and for what purpose he had entered the
castle; and afterwards informed him of a mode of revenge which he
had devised. They agreed upon the measures they were to take for
accomplishing their design, but deferred the execution of it till
the following day. In the mean time, the night being far spent,
the sultan took some rest; but the young prince passed the night
as usual, without sleep, having never slept since he was
enchanted, still indulging some hopes of being speedily delivered
from his misery.

Next morning the sultan arose with the dawn, and prepared to
execute his design, hiding his upper garment, which might
encumber him; he then proceeded to the Palace of Tears. He found
it lighted up with an infinite number of flambeaux of white wax,
and perfumed by a delicious scent issuing from several censers of
fine gold of admirable workmanship. As soon as he perceived the
bed where the black lay, he drew his cimeter, and without
resistance deprived him of his wretched life, dragged his corpse
into the court of the castle, and threw it into a well. After
this, he went and lay down in the black's bed, placed his cimeter
under the covering, and waited to complete his design.

The queen arrived shortly after. She first went into the chamber
of her husband, the king of the Black Islands, stripped him, and
with unexampled barbarity gave him a hundred stripes. The
unfortunate prince filled the palace with his lamentations, and
conjured her in the most affecting tone to take pity on him; but
the cruel wretch ceased not till she had given the usual number
of blows. "You had no compassion on my lover," said she, "and you
are to expect none from me."

After the enchantress had given the king, her husband, a hundred
blows with the whip, she put on again his covering of goat's
hair, and his brocade gown over all; she went afterwards to the
Palace of Tears, and as she entered renewed her tears and
lamentations: then approaching the bed, where she thought her
paramour lay, "What cruelty," cried she, "was it to disturb the
satisfaction so tender and passionate a lover as I am? O cruel
prince, who reproachest me that I am inhuman, when I make thee
feel the effects of my resentment! Does not thy barbarity surpass
my vengeance? Traitor! in attempting the life of the object which
I adore, hast thou not robbed me of mine? Alas!" said she,
addressing herself to the sultan, conceiving him to be the black
"My sun, my life, will you always be silent! Are you resolved to
let me die, without affording me the comfort of hearing again
from your own lips that you love me? My soul, speak one word to
me at least, I conjure you."

The sultan, as if he had awaked out of a deep sleep, and
counterfeiting the pronunciation of the blacks, answered the
queen with a grave tone, "There is no strength or power but in
God alone, who is almighty." At these words the enchantress, who
did not expect them, uttered a loud exclamation of joy. "My dear
lord," cried she, "do not I deceive myself; is it certain that I
hear you, and that you speak to me?" "Unhappy woman," said the
sultan, "art thou worthy that I should answer thee?" "Alas!"
replied the queen, "why do you reproach me thus?" "The cries,"
returned the sultan, "the groans and tears of thy husband, whom
thou treatest every day with so much indignity and barbarity,
prevent my sleeping night or day. Hadst thou disenchanted him, I
should long since have been cured, and have recovered the use of
my speech. This is the cause of my silence, of which you
complain." "Well," said the enchantress, "to pacify you, I am
ready to execute your commands; would you have me restore him?"
"Yes," replied the sultan; "make haste to set him at liberty,
that I be no longer disturbed by his lamentations."

The enchantress went immediately out of the Palace of Tears; she
took a cup of water, and pronounced some words over it, which
caused it to boil, as if it had been on the fire. She afterwards
proceeded to the young king her husband, and threw the water upon
him, saying, "If the creator of all things did form thee as thou
art at present; or if he be angry with thee, do not change; but
if thou art in that condition merely by virtue of my
enchantments, resume thy natural shape, and become what thou west
before." She had scarcely spoken these words, when the prince,
finding himself restored to his former condition, rose up and
returned thanks to God. The enchantress then said to him, "Get
thee from this castle, and never return on pain of death." The
young king, yielding to necessity, went away from the
enchantress, without replying a word; and retired to a remote
place, where he patiently awaited the event of the design which
the sultan had so happily begun. Meanwhile, the enchantress
returned to the Palace of Tears, and supposing that she still
spoke to the black, said, "Dear love, I have done what you
required; nothing now prevents your rising and giving me the
satisfaction of which I have so long been deprived."

The sultan, still counterfeiting the pronunciation of the blacks,
said, "What you have now done is by no means sufficient for my
cure; you have only removed a part of the evil; you must cut it
up by the root." "My lovely black," resumed the queen, "what do
you mean by the root?" "Wretched woman," replied the sultan,
"understand you not that I allude to the town, and its
inhabitants, and the four islands, destroyed by thy enchantments?
The fish every night at midnight raise their heads out of the
lake, and cry for vengeance against thee and me. This is the true
cause of the delay of my cure. Go speedily, restore things to
their former state, and at thy return I will give thee my hand,
and thou shalt help me to arise."

The enchantress, inspired with hope from these words, cried out
in a transport of joy, "My heart, my soul, you shall soon be
restored to your health, for I will immediately do as you command
me." Accordingly she went that instant, and when she came to the
brink of the lake, she took a little water in her hand, and
sprinkling it, had no sooner pronounced some words over the fish
and the lake, than the city was immediately restored. The fish
became men, women, and children; Mahummedans, Christians,
Persians, or Jews; freemen or slaves, as they were before: every
one having recovered his natural form. The houses and shops were
immediately filled with their inhabitants, who found all things
as they were before the enchantment. The sultan's numerous
retinue, who found themselves encamped in the largest square,
were astonished to see themselves in an instant in the middle of
a large, handsome, well-peopled city.

To return to the enchantress: As soon as she had effected this
wonderful change, she returned with all expedition to the Palace
of Tears, that she might receive her reward. "My dear lord,"
cried she, as she entered, "I come to rejoice with you in the
return of your health: I have done all that you required of me,
then pray rise, and give me your hand." "Come near," said the
sultan, still counterfeiting the pronunciation of the blacks. She
did so. "You are not near enough," he continued, "approach
nearer." She obeyed. He then rose up, and seizing her by the arm
so suddenly, that she had not time to discover him, he with a
blow of his cimeter cut her in two, so that one half fell one way
and the other another. This done he left the body on the spot,
and going out of the Palace of Tears, went to seek the young king
of the Black Isles, who waited for him with great impatience.
When he found him, "Prince," said he, embracing him, "rejoice;
you have now nothing to fear; your cruel enemy is dead."

The young prince returned thanks to the sultan in a manner that
sufficiently the sincerity of his gratitude, and in return wished
him long life and happiness. "You may henceforward," said the
sultan, "dwell peaceably in your capital, unless you will
accompany me to mine, which is near: you shall there be welcome,
and have as much honour and respect shown you as if you were in
your own kingdom." "Potent monarch, to whom I am so much
indebted," replied the king, "you think then that you are near
your capital?" "Yes," said the sultan, "I know it is not above
four or five hours' journey." "It will take you a whole year to
return," said the prince "I do indeed believe that you came
hither from your capital in the time you mention, because mine
was enchanted; but since the enchantment is taken off, things are
changed: however, this shall not prevent my following you, were
it to the utmost corners of the earth. You are my deliverer, and
that I may give you proofs of my acknowledging this during my
whole life, I am willing to accompany you, and to leave my
kingdom without regret."

The sultan was extremely surprised to understand that he was so
far from his dominions, and could not imagine how it could be.
But the young king of the Black Islands convinced him beyond a
possibility of doubt. Then the sultan replied, "It is no matter;
the trouble of returning to my own country is sufficiently
recompensed by the satisfaction of having obliged you, and by
acquiring you for a son; for since you will do me the honour to
accompany me, as I have no child, I look upon you as such, and
from this moment appoint you my heir and successor."

The conversation between the sultan and the king of the Black
Islands concluded with most affectionate embraces, after which
the young prince employed himself in making preparations for his
journey, which were finished in three weeks, to the great regret
of his court and subjects, who agreed to receive at his hands one
of his nearest kindred for their monarch.

At length, the sultan and the young prince began their journey,
with a hundred camels laden with inestimable riches from the
treasury of the young king, followed by fifty handsome gentlemen
on horseback, perfectly well mounted and dressed They had a
pleasant journey; and when the sultan, who had sent couriers to
give advice of his delay, and of the adventure which had
occasioned it, approached his capital, the principal officers
came to receive him, and to assure him that his long absence had
occasioned no alteration in his empire. The inhabitants also came
out in great crowds, received him with acclamations, and made
public rejoicings for several days.

The day after his arrival the sultan gave all his courtiers a
very ample account of the circumstances, which, contrary to his
expectation, had detained him so long. He acquainted them with
his having adopted the king of the Four Black Islands, who was
willing to leave a great kingdom, to accompany and live with him;
and, in reward for their loyalty, he made each of them presents
according to their rank.

As for the fisherman, as he was the first cause of the
deliverance of the young prince, the sultan gave him a plentiful
fortune, which made him and his family happy the rest of their


In the reign of Caliph Haroon al Rusheed, there was at Bagdad, a
porter, who, notwithstanding his mean and laborious business, was
a fellow of wit and good humour. One morning as he was at the
place where he usually plyed, with a great basket, waiting for
employment, a handsome young lady, covered with a great muslin
veil, accosted him, and said with a pleasant air, "Hark you,
porter, take your basket and follow me." The porter, charmed with
these words, pronounced in so agreeable a manner, took his basket
immediately, set it on his head, and followed the lady,
exclaiming, "O happy day, O day of good luck!"

In a short time the lady stopped before a gate that was shut, and
knocked: a Christian, with a venerable long white beard, opened
it; and she put money into his hand, without speaking; but the
Christian, who knew what she wanted, went in, and in a little
time, brought a large jug of excellent wine. "Take this jug,"
said the lady to the porter, "and put it in your basket." This
being done, she commanded him to follow her; and as she
proceeded, the porter continued his exclamation, "O happy day!
This is a day of agreeable surprise and joy."

The lady stopped at a fruit-shop, where she bought several sorts
of apples, apricots, peaches, quinces, lemons, citrons, oranges;
myrtles, sweet basil, lilies, jessamin, and some other flowers
and fragrant plants; she bid the porter put all into his basket,
and follow her. As she went by a butcher's stall, she made him
weigh her twenty five pounds of his best meat, which she ordered
the porter to put also into his basket. At another shop, she took
capers, tarragon, cucumbers, sassafras, and other herbs,
preserved in vinegar: at another, she bought pistachios, walnuts,
filberts, almonds, kernels of pine-apples, and such other fruits;
and at another, all sorts of confectionery. When the porter had
put all these things into his basket, and perceived that it grew
full, "My good lady," said he, "you ought to have given me notice
that you had so much provision to carry, and then I would have
brought a horse, or rather a camel, for the purpose; for if you
buy ever so little more, I shall not be able to bear it." The
lady laughed at the fellow's pleasant humour, and ordered him
still to follow her.

She then went to a druggist, where she furnished herself with all
manner of sweet-scented waters, cloves, musk, pepper, ginger, and
a great piece of ambergris, and several other Indian spices; this
quite filled the porter's basket, and she ordered him to follow
her. They walked till they came to a magnificent house, whose
front was adorned with fine columns, and had a gate of ivory.
There they stopped, and the lady knocked softly.

While the young lady and the porter waited for the opening of the
gate, the porter made a thousand reflections. He wondered that
such a fine lady should come abroad to buy provisions; he
concluded she could not be a slave, her air was too noble, and
therefore he thought she must needs be a woman of quality. Just
as he was about to ask her some questions upon this head, another
lady came to open the gate, and appeared to him so beautiful,
that he was perfectly surprised, or rather so much struck with
her charms, that he had nearly suffered his basket to fall, for
he had never seen any beauty that equalled her.

The lady who brought the porter with her, perceiving his
disorder, and knowing the cause, was greatly diverted, and took
so much pleasure in watching his looks, that she forgot the gate
was opened. "Pray, Sister," said the beautiful portress, "come
in, what do you stay for? Do not you see this poor man so heavy
laden, that he is scarcely able to stand,"

When she entered with the porter, the lady who had opened the
gate shut it, and all three, after having passed through a
splendid vestibule, entered a spacious court, encompassed with an
open gallery, which had a communication with several apartments
of extraordinary magnificence. At the farther end of the court
there was a platform, richly furnished, with a throne of amber in
the middle, supported by four columns of ebony, enriched with
diamonds and pearls of an extraordinary size, and covered with
red satin embroidered with Indian gold of admirable workmanship.
In the middle of the court there was a fountain, faced with white
marble, and full of clear water, which was copiously supplied out
of the mouth of a lion of brass.

The porter, though heavy laden, could not but admire the
magnificence of this house, and the excellent order in which
every thing was placed; but what particularly captivated his
attention, was a third lady, who seemed to be more beautiful than
the second, and was seated upon the throne just mentioned; she
descended as soon as she saw the two others, and advanced towards
them: he judged by the respect which the other ladies showed her,
that she was the chief, in which he was not mistaken. This lady
was called Zobeide, she who opened the gate Safie, and she who
went to buy the provisions was named Amene.

Zobeide said to the two ladies, when she came to them, "Sisters,
do not you see that this honest man is ready to sink under his
burden, why do not you ease him of it?" Then Amene and Safie took
the basket, the one before and the other behind; Zobeide also
assisted, and all three together set it on the ground; then
emptied it; and when they had done, the beautiful Amene took out
money, and paid the porter liberally.

The porter was well satisfied with the money he had received; but
when he ought to have departed, he could not summon sufficient
resolution for the purpose. He was chained to the spot by the
pleasure of beholding three such beauties, who appeared to him
equally charming; for Amene having now laid aside her veil,
proved to be as handsome as either of the others. What surprised
him most was, that he saw no man about the house, yet most of the
provisions he had brought in, as the dry fruits, and the several
sorts of cakes and confections, were adapted chiefly for those
who could drink and make merry.

Zobeide thought at first, that the porter staid only to take
breath, but perceiving that he remained too long, "What do you
wait for," said she, "are you not sufficiently paid?" And turning
to Amene. she continued, "Sister, give him something more, that
he may depart satisfied." "Madam," replied the porter, "it is not
that which detains me, I am already more than paid for my
services; I am sensible that I act rudely in staying longer than
I ought, but I hope you will the goodness to pardon me, when I
tell you, that I am astonished not to see a man with three ladies
of such extraordinary beauty: and you know that a company of
women without men is as melancholy as a company of men without
women." To this he added several other pleasant things, to prove
what he said, and did not forget the Bagdad proverb, "That the
table is not completely furnished, except there be four in
company:" and so concluded, that since they were but three, they
wanted another.

The ladies fell a laughing at the porter's reasoning; after which
Zobeide gravely addressed him, "Friend, you presume rather too
much; and though you do not deserve that I should enter into any
explanation with you, I have no objection to inform you that we
are three sisters, who transact our affairs with so much secrecy
that no one knows any thing of them. We have but too much reason
to be cautious of acquainting indiscreet persons with our
counsel; and a good author that we have read, says, ‘Keep thy own
secret, and do not reveal it to any one. He that makes his secret
known it no longer its master. If thy own breast cannot keep thy
counsel, how canst thou expect the breast of another to be more

"My ladies," replied the porter, "by your very air, I judged at
first that you were persons of extraordinary merit, and I
conceive that I am not mistaken. Though fortune has not given me
wealth enough to raise me above my mean profession, yet I have
not omitted to cultivate my mind as much as I could, by reading
books of science and history; and allow me, I beseech you, to
say, that I have also read in another author a maxim which I have
always happily followed: ‘We conceal our secret from such persons
only as are known to all the world to want discretion, and would
abuse our confidence; but we hesitate not to discover it to the
prudent, because we know that with them it is safe.' A secret in
my keeping is as secure as if it were locked up in a cabinet, the
key of which is lost, and the door sealed up."

Zobeide perceiving that the porter was not deficient in wit, but
thinking he wished to share in their festivity, answered him,
smiling, "You know that we have been making preparations to
regale ourselves, and that, as you have seen, at a considerable
expense; it is not just that you should now partake of the
entertainment without contributing to the cost." The beautiful
Safie seconded her sister, and said to the porter, "Friend. have
you never heard the common saying, ‘If you bring something with
you, you shall carry something away, but if you bring nothing,
you shall depart empty?'"

The porter, notwithstanding his rhetoric, must, in all
probability, have retired in confusion, if Amene had not taken
his part, and said to Zobeide and Safie, "My dear sisters, I
conjure you to let him remain; I need not tell you that he will
afford us some diversion, of this you perceive he is capable: I
assure you, had it not been for his readiness, his alacrity, and
courage to follow me, I could not have done so much business, in
so short a time; besides, where I to repeat to you all the
obliging expressions he addressed to me by the way, you would not
feel surprised at my taking his part."

At these words of Amene, the porter was so transported with joy,
that he fell on his knees, kissed the ground at her feet, and
raising himself up, said, "Most beautiful lady, you began my good
fortune to-day, and now you complete it by this generous conduct;
I cannot adequately express my acknowledgments. As to the rest,
ladies," said he, addressing himself to all the three sisters,
"since you do me so great an honour, do not think that I will
abuse it, or look upon myself as deserving of the distinction.
No, I shall always look upon myself as one of your most humble
slaves." When he had spoken these words he would have returned
the money he had received, but Zobeide ordered him to keep it.
"What we have once given," said she, "to reward those who have
served us, we never take back. My friend, in consenting to your
staying with us, I must forewarn you, that it is not the only
condition we impose upon you that you keep inviolable the secret
we may entrust to you, but we also require you to attend to the
strictest rules of good manners." During this address, the
charming Amene put off the apparel she went abroad with, and
fastened her robe to her girdle that she might act with the
greater freedom; she then brought in several sorts of meat, wine,
and cups of gold. Soon after, the ladies took their places, and
made the porter sit down by them, who was overjoyed to see
himself seated with three such admirable beauties. After they had
eaten a little, Amene took a cup, poured some wine into it, and
drank first herself; she then filled the cup to her sisters, who
drank in course as they sat; and at last she filled it the fourth
time for the porter, who, as he received it, kissed Amene's hand;
and before he drank, sung a song to this purpose. That as the
wind bears with it the sweet scents of the purfumed places over
which it passes, so the wine he was going to drink, coming from
her fair hands, received a more exquisite flavour than it
naturally possessed. The song pleased the ladies much, and each
of them afterwards sung one in her turn. In short, they were all
very pleasant during the repast, which lasted a considerable
time, and nothing was wanting that could serve to render it
agreeable. The day drawing to a close, Safie spoke in the name of
the three ladies, and said to the porter, "Arise, it is time for
you to depart." But the porter, not willing to leave good
company, cried, "Alas! ladies, whither do you command me to go in
my present condition? What with drinking and your society, I am
quite beside myself. I shall never find the way home; allow me
this night to recover myself, in any place you please, but go
when I will, I shall leave the best part of myself behind."

Amene pleaded the second time for the porter, saying, "Sisters,
he is right, I am pleased with the request, he having already
diverted us so well; and, if you will take my advice, or if you
love me as much as I think you do, let us keep him for the
remainder of the night." "Sister," answered Zobeide, "we can
refuse you nothing;" and then turning to the porter, said, "We
are willing once more to grant your request, but upon this new
condition, that, whatever we do in your presence relating either
to ourselves or any thing else, you do not so much as open your
mouth to ask the reason; for if you put any questions respecting
what does not concern you, you may chance to hear what you will
not like; beware therefore, and be not too inquisitive to pry
into the motives of our actions.

"Madam," replied the porter, "I promise to abide by this
condition, that you shall have no cause to complain, and far less
to punish my indiscretion; my tongue shall be immovable on this
occasion, and my eye like a looking-glass, which retains nothing
of the objets that is set before it." "To shew you," said Zobeide
with a serious countenance, "that what we demand of you is not a
new thing among us, read what is written over our gate on the

The porter went and read these words, written in large characters
of gold: "He who speaks of things that do not concern him, shall
hear things that will not please him." Returning again to the
three sisters, "Ladies," said he, "I swear to you that you shall
never hear me utter a word respecting what does not relate to me,
or wherein you may have any concern."

These preliminaries being settled, Amene brought in supper, and
after she had lighted up the room with tapers, made of aloe-wood
and ambergris, which yield a most agreeable perfume, as well as a
delicate light, she sat down with her sisters and the porter.
They began again to eat and drink, to sing, and repeat verses.
The ladies diverted themselves in intoxicating the porter, under
pretext of making him drink their healths, and the repast was
enlivened by reciprocal flashes of wit. When they were all in the
best humour possible, they heard a knocking at the gate.

When the ladies heard the knocking, they all three got up to open
the gate; but Safie was the nimblest; which her sisters
perceiving, they resumed their seats. Safie returning, said,
"Sisters, we have a very fine opportunity of passing a good part
of the night pleasantly, and if you agree with me, you will not
suffer it to go by. There are three calenders at our gate, at
least they appear to be such by their habit; but what will
surprise you is, they are all three blind of the right eye, and
have their heads, beards, and eye-brows shaved. They say, they
are but just come to Bagdad, where they never were before; it
being night, and not knowing where to find a lodging, they
happened by chance to knock at this gate, and pray us, for the
love of heaven, to have compassion on them, and receive them into
the house. They care not what place we put them in, provided they
may be under shelter; they would be satisfied with a stable. They
are young and handsome, and seem not to want spirit. But I cannot
without laughing think of their amusing and uniform figure." Here
Safie laughed so heartily, that the two sisters and the porter
could not refrain from laughing also. "My dear sisters," said
she, "you will permit them to come in; it is impossible but that
with such persons as I have described them to be, we shall finish
the day better than we began it; they will afford us diversion
enough, and put us to no charge, because they desire shelter only
for this night, and resolve to leave us as soon as day appears."

Zobeide and Amene made some difficulty to grant Safie's request,
for reasons which she herself well knew. But being very desirous
to obtain this favour, they could not refuse her; "Go then," said
Zobeide, "and bring them in, but do not forget to acquaint them
that they must not speak of any thing which does not concern
them, and cause them to read what is written over the gate."
Safie ran out with joy, and in a little time after returned with
the three calenders.

At their entrance they made a profound obeisance to the ladies,
who rose up to receive them, and told them courteously that they
were welcome, that they were glad of the opportunity to oblige
them, and to contribute towards relieving the fatigues of their
journey, and at last invited them to sit down with them.

The magnificence of the place, and the civility they received,
inspired the calenders with high respect for the ladies: but,
before they sat down, having by chance cast their eyes upon the
porter, whom they saw clad almost like those devotees with whom
they have continual disputes respecting several points of
discipline, because they never shave their beards nor eye-brows;
one of them said, "I believe we have got here one of our revolted
Arabian brethren."

The porter having his head warm with wine, took offence and with
a fierce look, without stirring from his place, answered, "Sit
you down, and do not meddle with what does not concern you: have
you not read the inscription over the gate? Do not pretend to
make people live after your fashion, but follow ours."

"Honest man," said the calender, "do not put yourself in a
passion; we should be sorry to give you the least occasion; on
the contrary, we are ready to receive your commands." Upon which,
to put an end to the dispute, the ladies interposed, and pacified
them. When the calenders were seated, the ladies served them with
meat; and Safie, being highly pleased with them, did not let them
want for wine.

After the calenders had eaten and drunk liberally, they signified
to the ladies, that they wished to entertain them with a concert
of music, if they had any instruments in the house, and would
cause them to be brought: they willingly accepted the proposal,
and fair Safie going to fetch them, returned again in a moment,
and presented them with a flute of her own country fashion,
another of the Persian, and a tabor. Each man took the instrument
he liked, and all three together began to play a tune The ladies,
who knew the words of a merry song that suited the air, joined
the concert with their voices; but the words of the song made
them now and then stop, and fall into excessive laughter.

In the height of this diversion, when the company were in the
midst of their jollity, a knocking was heard at the gate; Safie
left off singing, and went to see who it was. The caliph Haroon
al Rusheed was frequently in the habit of walking abroad in
disguise by night, that he might discover if every thing was
quiet in the city, and see that no disorders were committed.

This night the caliph went out on his rambles, accompanied by
Jaaffier his grand vizier, and Mesrour the chief of the eunuchs
of his palace, all disguised in merchants' habits; and passing
through the street where the three ladies dwelt, he heard the
sound of music and fits of loud laughter; upon which he commanded
the vizier, to knock, as he wished to enter to ascertain the
reason. The vizier, in vain represented to him that the noise
proceeded from some women who were merry-making, that without
question their heads were warm with wine, and that it would not
be proper he should expose himself to be affronted by them:
besides, it was not yet an unlawful hour, and therefore he ought
not to disturb them in their mirth. "No matter," said the caliph,
"I command you to knock." Jaaffier complied; Safie opened the
gate, and the vizier, perceiving by the light in her hand, that
she was an incomparable beauty, with a very low salutation said,
"We are three merchants of Mossoul, who arrived here about ten
days ago with rich merchandise, which we have in a warehouse at a
caravan-serai, where we have also our lodging. We happened this
evening to be with a merchant of this city, who invited us to his
house, where we had a splendid entertainment: and the wine having
put us in good humour, he sent for a company of dancers. Night
being come on, and the music and dancers making a great noise,
the watch, passing by, caused the gate to be opened and some of
the company to be taken up; but we had the good fortune to escape
by getting over the wall. Being strangers, and somewhat overcome
with wine, we are afraid of meeting that or some other watch,
before we get home to our khan. Besides, before we can arrive
there the gates will be shut, and will not be opened till
morning: wherefore, hearing, as we passed by this way, the sound
of music, we supposed you were not yet going to rest, and made
bold to knock at your gate, to beg the favour of lodging
ourselves in the house till morning; and if you think us worthy
of your good company, we will endeavour to contribute to your
diversion to the best of our power, to make some amends for the
interruption we have given you; if not, we only beg the favour of
staying this night in your vestibule."

Whilst Jaaffier was speaking, Safie had time to observe the
vizier, and his two companions, who were said to be merchants
like himself, and told them that she was not mistress of the
house; but if they would have a minute's patience, she would
return with an answer.

Safie made the business known to her sisters, who considered for
some time what to do: but being naturally of a good disposition,
and having granted the same favour to the three calenders, they
at last consented to let them in.

The caliph, his grand vizier, and the chief of the eunuchs, being
introduced by the fair Safie, very courteously saluted the ladies
and the calenders. The ladies returned their salutations,
supposing them to be merchants. Zobeide, as the chief, addressed
them with a grave and serious countenance, which was natural to
her, and said, "You are welcome. But before I proceed farther, I
hope you will not take it ill if we desire one favour of you."
"Alas!" said the vizier, "what favour? We can refuse nothing to
such fair ladies." Zobeide continued, "It is that, while here,
you would have eyes, but no tongues; that you question us not for
the reason of any thing you may see, and speak not of any thing
that does not concern you, lest you hear what will by no means
please you."

"Madam," replied the vizier, "you shall be obeyed. We are not
censorious, nor impertinently curious; it is enough for us to
notice affairs that concern us, without meddling with what does
not belong to us." Upon this they all sat down, and the company
being united, they drank to the health of the new-comers.

While the vizier, entertained the ladies in conversation, the
caliph could not forbear admiring their extraordinary beauty,
graceful behaviour, pleasant humour, and ready wit; on the other
hand, nothing struck him with more surprise than the calenders
being all three blind of the right eye. He would gladly have
learnt the cause of this singularity; but the conditions so
lately imposed upon himself and his companions would not allow
him to speak. These circumstances, with the richness of the
furniture, the exact order of every thing, and the neatness of
the house, made him think they were in some enchanted place.

Their conversation happening to turn upon diversions, and the
different ways of making merry; the calenders arose, and danced
after their fashion, which augmented the good opinion the ladies
had conceived of them, and procured them the esteem of the caliph
and his companions.

When the three calenders had finished their dance, Zobeide arose,
and taking Amene by the hand, said, "Pray, sister, arise, for the
company will not be offended if we use our freedom, and their
presence need not hinder the performance of our customary
exercise." Amene understanding her sister's meaning, rose from
her seat, carried away the dishes, the flasks and cups, together
with the instruments which the calenders had played upon.

Safie was not idle, but swept the room, put every thing again in
its place, trimmed the lamps, and put fresh aloes and ambergris
to them; this being done, she requested the three calenders to
sit down upon the sofa at one side, and the caliph with his
companions on the other: then addressing herself to the porter,
she said, "Get up, and prepare yourself to assist us in what we
are going to do; a man like you, who is one of the family, ought
not to be idle." The porter, being somewhat recovered from his
wine, arose immediately, and having tied the sleeve of his gown
to his belt, answered, "Here am I, ready to obey your commands."
"Very well," replied Safie, "stay till you are spoken to; and you
shall not be idle long." A little time after, Amene came in with
a chair, which she placed in the middle of the room; and then
went towards a closet. Having opened the door, she beckoned to
the porter, and said, "Come hither and assist me." He obeyed, and
entered the closet, and returned immediately, leading two black
bitches, each of them secured by a collar and chain; they
appeared as if they had been severely whipped with rods, and he
brought them into the middle of the apartment.

Zobeide, rising from her seat between the calenders and the
caliph, moved very gravely towards the porter; "Come," said she,
heaving a deep sigh, "let us perform our duty:" she then tucked
up her sleeves above her elbows, and receiving a rod from Safie,
"Porter," said she, "deliver one of the bitches to my sister
Amene, and bring the other to me."

The porter did as he was commanded. Upon this the bitch that he
held in his hand began to howl, and turning towards Zobeide, held
her head up in a supplicating posture; but Zobeide, having no
regard to the sad countenance of the animal, which would have
moved pity, nor to her cries that resounded through the house,
whipped her with the rod till she was out of breath; and having
spent her strength, threw down the rod, and taking the chain from
the porter, lifted up the bitch by her paws, and looking upon her
with a sad and pitiful countenance, they both wept: after which,
Zobeide, with her handkerchief, wiped the tears from the bitch's
eye, kissed her, returned the chain to the porter, desired him to
carry her to the place whence he took her, and bring her the
other. The porter led back the whipped bitch to the closet, and
receiving the other from Amene, presented her to Zobeide, who
requested him to hold her as he had done the first, took up the
rod, and treated her after the same manner; and when she had wept
over her, she dried her eyes, kissed her, and returned her to the
porter: but Amene spared him the trouble of leading her back into
the closet, and did it herself. The three calenders, with the
caliph and his companions, were extremely surprised at this
exhibition, and could not comprehend why Zobeide, after having so
furiously beaten those two bitches, that by the moosulman
religion are reckoned unclean animals, should weep with them,
wipe off their tears, and kiss them. They muttered among
themselves, and the caliph, who, being more impatient than the
rest, longed exceedingly to be informed of the cause of so
strange a proceeding, could not forbear making signs to the
vizier to ask the question: the vizier turned his head another
way; but being pressed by repeated signs, he answered by others,
that it was not yet time for the caliph to satisfy his curiosity.

Zobeide sat still some time in the middle of the room, where she
had whipped the two bitches, to recover herself of her fatigue;
and Safie called to her, "Dear sister, will you not be pleased to
return to your place, that I may also aft my part?" "Yes,
sister," replied Zobeide; and then went, and sat down upon the
sofa, having the caliph, Jaaffier, and Mesrour, on her right
hand, and the three calenders, with the porter, on her left.

After Zobeide had taken her seat, the whole company remained
silent for some time; at last, Safie, sitting on a chair in the
middle of the room, spoke to her sister Amene, "Dear sister, I
conjure you to rise; you know what I would say." Amene rose, and
went into another closet, near to that where the bitches were,
and brought out a case covered with yellow satin, richly
embroidered with gold and green silk. She went towards Safie and
opened the case, from whence she took a lute, and presented it to
her: and after some time spent in tuning it, Safie began to play,
and accompanying the instrument with her voice, sung a song about
the torments that absence creates to lovers, with so much
sweetness, that it charmed the caliph and all the company. Having
sung with much passion and action, she said to Amene, "Pray take
it, sister, for my voice fails me; oblige the company with a
tune, and a song in my stead." "Very willingly," replied Amene,
who, taking the lute from her sister Safie, sat down in her

Amene played and sung almost as long upon the same subject, but
with so much vehemence, and was so much affected, or rather
transported, by the words of the song, that her strength failed
her as she finished.

Zobeide, desirous of testifying her satisfaction, said, "Sister,
you have done wonders, and we may easily see that you feel the
grief you have expressed in so lively a manner." Amene was
prevented from answering this civility, her heart being so
sensibly touched at the moment, that she was obliged, for air, to
uncover her neck and bosom, which did not appear so fair as might
have been expected; but, on the contrary, were black and full of
scars, which surprised and affected all the spectators. However,
this gave her no ease, for she fell into a fit.

When Zobeide and Safie had run to help their sister, one of the
calenders could not forbear saying, "We had better have slept in
the streets than have come hither to behold such spectacles." The
caliph, who heard this, came to him and the other calenders, and
asked them what might be the meaning of all this? They answered,
"We know no more than you do." "What," said the caliph, "are you
not of the family? Can you not resolve us concerning the two
black bitches and the lady that fainted away, who appears to have
been so basely abused?" "Sir," said the calenders, "this is the
first time of our being in the house; we came in but a few
minutes before you."

This increased the caliph's astonishment: "Probably," said he,
"this man who is with you may know something of the matter." One
of the calenders beckoned the porter to come near; and asked him,
whether he knew why those two black bitches had been whipped, and
why Amene's bosom was so scarred. "Sir," said the porter, "I can
swear by heaven, that if you know nothing of all this, I know as
little as you do. It is true, I live in this city, but I never
was in the house until now, and if you are surprised to see me I
am as much so to find myself in your company; and that which
increases my wonder is, that I have not seen one man with these

The caliph and his company, as well as the calenders, had
supposed the porter to be one of the family, and hoped he would
have been able to give them the information they sought; but
finding he could not, and resolving to satisfy his curiosity, the
caliph said to the rest, "We are seven men, and have but three
women to deal with; let us try if we can oblige them to explain
what we have seen, and if they refuse by fair means, we are in a
condition to compel them by force."

The grand vizier Jaaffier objected to this, and shewed the caliph
what might be the consequence. Without discovering the prince to
the calenders, he addressed him as if he had been a merchant, and
said, "Consider, I pray you, that our reputation is at stake. You
know the conditions on which these ladies consented to receive
us, and which we agreed to observe; what will they say of us if
we break them? We shall be still more to blame, if any mischief
befall us; for it is not likely that they would have extorted
such a promise from us, without knowing themselves to be in a
condition to punish us for its violation."

Here the vizier took the caliph aside, and whispered to him, "The
night will soon be at an end, and if your majesty will only be
pleased to have so much patience, I will to-morrow morning bring
these ladies before your throne, where you may be informed of all
that you desire to know." Though this advice was very judicious,
the caliph rejected it, desired the vizier to hold his tongue,
and said, he would not wait so long, but would immediately have
his curiosity satisfied.

The next business was to settle who should carry the message. The
caliph endeavoured to prevail with the calenders to speak first;
but they excused themselves, and at last they agreed that the
porter should be the man: as they were consulting how to word
this fatal question, Zobeide returned from her sister Amene, who
was recovered of her fit. She drew near them, and having
overheard them speaking pretty loud, said, "Gentlemen, what is
the subject of your conversation? What are you disputing about?"

The porter answered immediately, "Madam, these gentlemen beseech
you to inform them why you wept over your two bitches after you
had whipped them so severely, and how the bosom of that lady who
lately fainted away came to be so full of scars? These are the
questions I am ordered to ask in their name."

At these words, Zobeide put on a stern countenance, and turning
towards the caliph and the rest of the company, "Is it true,
gentlemen," said she, "that you desired him to ask me these
questions?" All of them, except the vizier Jaaffier, who spoke
not a word, answered, "Yes." On which she exclaimed, in a tone
that sufficiently expressed her resentment, "Before we granted
you the favour of receiving you into our house, and to prevent
all occasion of trouble from you, because we are alone, we
imposed the condition that you should not speak of any thing that
did not concern you, lest you might hear that which would not
please you; and yet after having received and entertained you,
you make no scruple to break your promise. It is true that our
easy temper has occasioned this, but that shall not excuse your
rudeness." As she spoke these words, she gave three stamps with
her foot, and clapping her hands as often together, cried, "Come
quickly:" upon this, a door flew open, and seven black slaves
rushed in; every one seized a man, threw him on the ground, and
dragged him into the middle of the room, brandishing a cimeter
over his head.

We may easily conceive the caliph then repented, but too late,
that he had not taken the advice of his vizier, who, with
Mesrour, the calenders and porter, was from his ill-timed
curiosity on the point of forfeiting his life. Before they would
strike the fatal blow, one of the slaves said to Zobeide, and her
sisters: "High, mighty, and adorable mistresses, do you command
us to strike off their heads?" "Stay," said Zobeide, "I must
examine them first." The frightened porter interrupted her thus:
"In the name of heaven, do not put me to death for another man's
crime. I am innocent; they are to blame." "Alas!" said he,
weeping, "how pleasantly did we pass our time! those blind
calenders are the cause of this misfortune; there is no town in
the world but suffers wherever these inauspicious fellows come.
Madam, I beg you not to destroy the innocent with the guilty, and
consider, that it is more glorious to pardon such a wretch as I
am, who have no way to help myself, than to sacrifice me to your

Zobeide, notwithstanding her anger, could not but laugh within
herself at the porter's lamentation: but without replying to him,
she spoke a second time to the rest; "Answer me, and say who you
are, otherwise you shall not live one moment longer: I cannot
believe you to be honest men, or persons of authority or
distinction in your own countries; for if you were, you would
have been more modest and more respectful to us."

The caliph, naturally warm, was infinitely more indignant than
the rest, to find his life depending upon the command of a woman:
but he began to conceive some hopes, when he found she wished to
know who they all were; for he imagined she would not put him to
death, when informed of his quality; therefore he spoke with a
low voice to the vizier, who was near him, to declare it
speedily: but the vizier, more prudent, resolved to save his
master's honour, and not let the world know the affront he had
brought upon himself by his own imprudence; and therefore
answered, "We have what we deserve." But if he had intended to
speak as the caliph commanded him, Zobeide would not have allowed
him time: for having turned to the calenders, and seeing them all
blind with one eye, she asked if they were brothers. One of them
answered, "No, madam, no otherwise than as we are calenders; that
is to say, as we observe the same rules." "Were you born blind of
the right eye," continued she? "No, madam," answered he; "I lost
my eye in such a surprising adventure, that it would be
instructive to every body were it in writing: after that
misfortune I shaved my beard and eyebrows, and took the habit of
a calender which I now wear."

Zobeide asked the other two calenders the same question, and had
the same answers; but the last who spoke added, "Madam, to shew
you that we are no common fellows, and that you may have some
consideration for us, be pleased to know, that we are all three
sons of sultans; and though we never met together till this
evening, yet we have had time enough to make that known to one
another; and I assure you that the sultans from whom we derive
our being were famous in the world."

At this discourse Zobeide suppressed her anger, and said to the
slaves, "Give them their liberty a while, but remain where you
are. Those who tell us their history, and the occasion of their
coming, do them no hurt, let them go where they please; but do
not spare those who refuse to give us that satisfaction."

The three calendars, the caliph, the grand vizier, Jaaffier, the
eunuch Mesrour, and the porter, were all in the middle of the
hall, seated upon a carpet in the presence of the three ladies,
who reclined upon a sofa, and the slaves stood ready to do
whatever their mistresses should command.

The porter, understanding that he might extricate himself from
danger by telling his history, spoke first, and said, "Madam, you
know my history already, and the occasion of my coming hither; so
that what I have to say will be very short. My lady, your sister,
called me this morning at the place where I plyed as porter to
see if any body would employ me, that I might get my bread; I
followed her to a vintner's, then to a herb-shop, then to one
where oranges, lemons, and citrons were sold, then to a grocer's,
next to a confectioner's, and a druggist's, with my basket upon
my head as full as I was able to carry it; then I came hither,
where you had the goodness to suffer me to continue till now, a
favour that I shall never forget. This, madam, is my history."

When the porter had done, Zobeide said to him, "Depart, let us
see you here no more." "Madam," replied the porter, "I beg you to
let me stay; it would not be just, after the rest have had the
pleasure to hear my history, that I should not also have the
satisfaction of hearing theirs." And having spoken thus, he sat
down at the end of the sofa, glad at heart to have escaped the
danger that had frightened him so much. After him, one of the
three calenders directing his speech to Zobeide, as the principal
of the three ladies, began thus:

The History of the First Calender.

Madam, in order to inform you how I lost my right eye, and why I
was obliged to put myself into a calender's habit, I must tell
you, that I am a sultan's son born: my father had a brother who
reigned over a neighbouring kingdom; and the prince his son and I
were nearly of the same age.

After I had learned my exercises, the sultan my father granted me
such liberty as suited my dignity. I went regularly every year to
see my uncle, at whose court I amused myself for a month or two,
and then returned again to my father's. These journeys cemented a
firm and intimate friendship between the prince my cousin and
myself. The last time I saw him, he received me with greater
demonstrations of tenderness than he had done at any time before;
and resolving one day to give me a treat, he made great
preparations for that purpose. We continued a long time at table,
and after we had both supped; "Cousin," said he, "you will hardly
be able to guess how I have been employed since your last
departure from hence, about a year past. I have had a great many
men at work to perfect a design I have formed; I have caused an
edifice to be built, which is now finished so as to be habitable:
you will not be displeased if I shew it you. But first you are to
promise me upon oath, that you will keep my secret, according to
the confidence I repose in you."

The affection and familiarity that subsisted between us would not
allow me to refuse him any thing. I very readily took the oath
required of me: upon which he said to me, "Stay here till I
return, I will be with you in a moment; and accordingly he came
with a lady in his hand, of singular beauty, and magnificently
apparelled: he did not intimate who she was, neither did I think
it would be polite to enquire. We sat down again with this lady
at table, where we continued some time, conversing upon
indifferent subjects; and now and then filling a glass to each
other's health. After which the prince said, "Cousin, we must
lose no time; therefore pray oblige me by taking this lady along
with you, and conducting her to such a place, where you will see
a tomb newly built in form of a dome: you will easily know it;
the gate is open; enter it together, and tarry till I come, which
will be very speedily."

Being true to my oath, I made no farther enquiry, but took the
lady by the hand, and by the directions which the prince my
cousin had given me, I brought her to the place. We were scarcely
got thither, when we saw the prince following us, carrying a
pitcher of water, a hatchet, and a little bag of mortar.

The hatchet served him to break down the empty sepulchre in the
middle of the tomb; he took away the stones one after another,
and laid them in a corner; he then dug up the ground, where I saw
a trap-door under the sepulchre, which he lifted up, and
underneath perceived the head of a staircase leading into a
vault. Then my cousin, speaking to the lady, said, "Madam, it is
by this way that we are to go to the place I told you of:" upon
which the lady advanced, and went down, and the prince began to
follow; but first turning to me, said, "My dear cousin, I am
infinitely obliged to you for the trouble you have taken; I thank
you. Adieu." "Dear cousin," I cried, "what is the meaning of
this?" "Be content," replied he; "you may return the way you

I could get nothing farther from him, but was obliged to take my
leave. As I returned to my uncle's palace, the vapours of the
wine got up into my head; however, I reached my apartment, and
went to bed. Next morning, when I awoke, I began to reflect upon
what had happened, and after recollecting all the circumstances
of such a singular adventure, I fancied it was nothing but a
dream. Full of these thoughts, I sent to enquire if the prince my
cousin was ready to receive a visit from me; but when they
brought word back that he did not lie in his own lodgings that
night, that they knew not what was become of him, and were in
much trouble in consequence, I conceived that the strange event
of the tomb was too true. I was sensibly afflicted, and went to
the public burying-place, where there were several tombs like
that which I had seen: I spent the day in viewing them one after
another, but could not find that I sought for, and thus I spent
four days successively in vain.

You must know, that all this while the sultan my uncle was
absent, and had been hunting for several days; I grew weary of
waiting for him, and having prayed his ministers to make my
apology at his return, left his palace, and set out towards my
father's court. I left the ministers of the sultan my uncle in
great trouble, surmising what was become of the prince: but
because of my oath to keep his secret, I durst not tell them what
I had seen.

I arrived at my father's capital, where, contrary to custom, I
found a numerous guard at the gate of the palace, who surrounded
me as I entered. I asked the reason, and the commanding officer
replied, "Prince, the army has proclaimed the grand vizier,
instead of your father, who is dead, and I take you prisoner in
the name of the new sultan." At these words the guards laid hold
of me, and carried me before the tyrant: I leave you to judge,
madam, how much I was surprised and grieved.

This rebel vizier, had long entertained a mortal hatred against
me; for this reason. When I was a stripling, I loved to shoot
with a cross-bow; and being one day upon the terrace of the
palace with my bow, a bird happening to come by, I shot but
missed him, and the ball by misfortune hit the vizier, who was
taking the air upon the terrace of his own house, and put out one
of his eyes. As soon as I understood this, I not only sent to
make my excuse to him, but did it in person: yet he never forgave
me, and, as opportunity offered, made me sensible of his
resentment. But now that he had me in his power, he expressed his
feelings; for he came to me like a madman, as soon as he saw me,
and thrusting his finger into my right eye, pulled it out, and
thus I became blind of one eye.

But the usurper's cruelty did not stop here; he ordered me to be
shut up in a machine, and commanded the executioner to carry me
into the country, to cut off my head, and leave me to be devoured
by birds of prey. The executioner conveyed me thus shut up into
the country, in order to execute the barbarous sentence; but by
my prayers and tears, I moved the man's compassion: "Go," said he
to me, "get you speedily out of the kingdom, and take heed of
returning, or you will certainly meet your own ruin, and be the
cause of mine." I thanked him for the favour he did me; and as
soon as I was left alone, comforted myself for the loss of my
eye, by considering that I had very narrowly escaped a much
greater evil.

Being in such a condition, I could not travel far at a time; I
retired to remote places during the day, and travelled as far by
night as my strength would allow me. At last I arrived in the
dominions of the sultan my uncle, and came to his capital.

I gave him a long detail of the tragical cause of my return, and
of the sad condition he saw me in. "Alas!" cried he, "was it not
enough for me to have lost my son, but must I have also news of
the death of a brother I loved so dearly, and see you reduced to
this deplorable condition?" He told me how uneasy he was that he
could hear nothing of his son, notwithstanding all the enquiry he
could make. At these words, the unfortunate father burst into
tears, and was so much afflicted, that pitying his grief, it was
impossible for me to keep the secret any longer; so that,
notwithstanding my oath to the prince my cousin, I told the
sultan all that I knew.

His majesty listened to me with some sort of comfort, and when I
had done, "Nephew," said he, "what you tell me gives me some
hope. I knew that my son ordered that tomb to be built, and I can
guess pretty nearly the place; and with the idea you still have
of it, I fancy we shall find it: but since he ordered it to be
built privately, and you took your oath to keep his secret, I am
of opinion, that we ought to go in quest of it without other
attendants." But he had another reason for keeping the matter
secret, which he did not then tell me, and an important one it
was, as you will perceive by the sequel of my story.

We disguised ourselves and went out by a door of the garden which
opened into the fields, and soon found what we sought for. I knew
the tomb, and was the more rejoiced, because I had formerly
sought it a long time in vain. We entered, and found the iron
trap pulled down at the head of the staircase; we had great
difficulty in raising it, because the prince had fastened it
inside with the water and mortar formerly mentioned, but at last
we succeeded.

The sultan my uncle descended first, I followed, and we went down
about fifty steps. When we came to the foot of the stairs, we
found a sort of antechamber, full of thick smoke of an ill scent,
which obscured the lamp, that gave a very faint light.

From this antechamber we came into another, very large, supported
by columns, and lighted by several branched candlesticks. There
was a cistern in the middle, and provisions of several sorts
stood on one side of it; but we were much surprised not to see
any person. Before us there appeared a high estrade, which we
mounted by several steps, and upon this there was a large bed,
with curtains drawn. The sultan went up, and opening the
curtains, perceived the prince his son and the lady in bed
together, but burnt and changed to cinder, as if they had been
thrown into a fire, and taken out before they were consumed.

But what surprised me most was, that though this spectacle filled
me with horror, the sultan my uncle, instead of testifying his
sorrow to see the prince his son in such a condition, spat on his
face, and exclaimed, with a disdainful air, "This is the
punishment of this world, but that of the other will last to
eternity;" and not content with this, he pulled off his sandal,
and gave the corpse of his son a blow on the cheek.

I cannot adequately express how much I was astonished when I saw
the sultan my uncle abuse his son thus after he was dead. "Sir,"
said I, "whatever grief this dismal sight has impressed upon me,
I am forced to suspend it, to enquire of your majesty what crime
the prince my cousin may have committed, that his corpse should
deserve such indignant treatment?" "Nephew," replied the sultan,
"I must tell you, that my son (who is unworthy of that name)
loved his sister from his infancy, as she did him: I did not
check their growing fondness, because I did not foresee its
pernicious consequence. This tenderness increased as they grew in
years, and to such a height, that I dreaded the end of it. At
last, I applied such remedies as were in my power: I not only
gave my son a severe reprimand in private, laying before him the
horrible nature of the passion he entertained, and the eternal
disgrace he would bring upon my family, if he persisted; but I
also represented the same to my daughter, and shut her up so
close that she could have no conversation with her brother. But
that unfortunate creature had swallowed so much of the poison,
that all the obstacles which by my prudence I could lay in the
way served only to inflame her love.

"My son being persuaded of his sister's constancy, on presence of
building a tomb, caused this subterraneous habitation to be made,
in hopes of finding one day or other an opportunity to possess
himself of that objets which was the cause of his flame, and to
bring her hither. He took advantage of my absence, to enter by
force into the place of his sister's confinement; but this was a
circumstance which my honour would not suffer me to make public.
And after so damnable an action, he came and shut himself up with
her in this place, which he has supplied, as you see, with all
sorts of provisions, that he might enjoy detestable pleasures,
which ought to be a subject of horror to all the world; but God,
who would not suffer such an abomination, has justly punished
them both." At these words, he melted into tears, and I joined
mine with his.

After a while, casting his eyes upon me, "Dear nephew," cried he,
embracing me, "if I have lost that unworthy son, I shall happily
find in you what will better supply his place." The reflections
he made on the doleful end of the prince and princess his
daughter made us both weep afresh.

We ascended the stairs again, and departed at last from that
dismal place. We let down the trap door, and covered it with
earth, and such other materials as the tomb was built of, on
purpose to hide, as much as lay in our power, so terrible an
effect of the wrath of God.

We had not been long returned to the palace, unperceived by any
one, but we heard a confused noise of trumpets, drums, and other
instruments of war. We soon understood by the thick cloud of
dust, which almost darkened the air, that it was the arrival of a
formidable army: and it proved to be the same vizier that had
dethroned my father, and usurped his place, who with a vast
number of troops was come to possess himself of that also of the
sultan my uncle.

My uncle, who then had only his usual guards about him, could not
resist so numerous an enemy; they invested the city, and the
gates being opened to them without any resistance, soon became
masters of it, and broke into the palace where my uncle defended
himself, and sold his life at a dear rate. I fought as valiantly
for a while; but seeing we were forced to submit to a superior
power, I thought on my retreat, which I had the good fortune to
effect by some back ways, and got to one of the sultan's servants
on whose fidelity I could depend.

Being thus surrounded with sorrows and persecuted by fortune, I
had recourse to a stratagem, which was the only means left me to
save my life: I caused my beard and eye-brows to be shaved, and
putting on a calender's habit, I passed, unknown by any, out of
the city; after that, by degrees, I found it easy to quit my
uncle's kingdom, by taking the bye-roads.

I avoided passing through towns, until I had reached the empire
of the mighty governor of the Moosulmauns, the glorious and
renowned caliph Haroon al Rusheed, when I thought myself out of
danger; and considering what I was to do, I resolved to come to
Bagdad, intending to throw myself at the feet of that monarch,
whose generosity is renowned throughout the world. "I shall move
him to compassion," said I to myself, "by the relation of my
uncommon misfortunes, and without doubt he will take pity on a
persecuted prince, and not suffer me to implore his assistance in

In short, after a journey of several months, I arrived yesterday
at the gate of this city, into which I entered about the dusk of
evening ; and stopping a little while to consider which way I was
to turn, another calender came up; he saluted me, and I him: "You
appear," said I, "to be a stranger, as I am." "You are not
mistaken," replied he. He had no sooner returned this answer,
than a third calender overtook us. He saluted us, and told us he
was a stranger newly come to Bagdad; so that as brethren we
joined together, resolving not to separate from one another.

It was now late, and we knew not where to seek a lodging in the
city, where we had never been before. But good fortune having
brought us to your gate, we made bold to knock, when you received
us with so much kindness, that we are incapable of rendering
suitable thanks. "This, madam," said he, "is, in obedience to
your commands, the account I was to give how I lost my right eye,
wherefore my beard and eye-brows are shaved, and how I came to be
with you at this time."

"It is enough," said Zobeide; "you may retire to what place you
think fit." The calender begged the ladies' permission to stay
till he had heard the relations of his two comrades, "Whom I
cannot," said he, "leave with honour;" and that he might also
hear those of the three other persons in company.

The story of the first calender seemed wonderful to the whole
company, but especially to the caliph, who, notwithstanding the
slaves stood by with their cimeters drawn, could not forbear
whispering to the vizier "Many stories have I heard, but never
any that equalled in surprising incident that of the calender."
Whilst he was saying this, the second calender began, addressing
himself to Zobeide.

The Story of the Second Calender.

Madam, to obey your commands, and to shew you by what strange
accident I became blind of the right eye, I must of necessity
give you the account of my life.

I was scarcely past my infancy, when the sultan my father (for
you must know I am a prince by birth) perceived that I was
endowed with good natural ability, and spared nothing proper for
improving it.

No sooner was I able to read and write, but I learned the Koraun
from beginning to end by heart, that admirable book, which
contains the foundation, the precepts, and the rules of our
religion; and that I might be thoroughly instructed in it, I read
the works of the most approved divines, by whose commentaries it
had been explained. I added to this study, that of all the
traditions collected from the mouth of our prophet, by the great
men that were contemporary with him. I was not satisfied with the
knowledge of all that had any relation to our religion, but made
also a particular search into our histories. I made myself
perfect in polite learning, in the works of poets, and
versification. I applied myself to geography, chronology, and to
speak the Arabian language in its purity; not forgetting in the
meantime all such exercises as were proper for a prince to
understand. But one thing which I was fond of, and succeeded in,
was penmanship; wherein I surpassed all the celebrated scribes of
our kingdom.

Fame did me more honour than I deserved, for she not only spread
the renown of my talents through all the dominions of the sultan
my father, but carried it as far as the empire of Hindoostan,
whose potent monarch, desirous to see me, sent an ambassador with
rich presents: my father, who rejoiced at this embassy for
several reasons, was persuaded, that nothing could be more
improving to a prince of my age than to travel and visit foreign
courts; and he wished to gain the friendship of the Indian
monarch. I departed with the ambassador, but with no great

When we had travelled about a month, we discovered at a distance
a cloud of dust, and under that we saw very soon fifty horsemen
well armed, who were robbers, advancing towards us at full speed.

As we had ten horses laden with baggage, and presents to the
sultan of Hindoostan, from my father, and my retinue was but
small, you may easily judge that these robbers came boldly up to
us; and not being in a posture to make any opposition, we told
them, that we were ambassadors, and hoped they would attempt
nothing contrary to the respect due to such sacred characters,
thinking by this means to save our equipage and our lives: but
the robbers most insolently replied, "For what reason would you
have us shew any respect to the sultan your master? We are none
of his subjects, nor are we upon his territories:" having spoken
thus, they surrounded and fell upon us: I defended myself as long
as I could; but finding myself wounded, and seeing the ambassador
with his attendants and mine lying on the ground, I made use of
what strength was yet remaining in my horse, who was also very
much wounded, and rode away as fast as he could carry me; but he
shortly after, from weariness and the loss of blood, fell down
dead. I cleared myself from him unhurt, and finding that I was
not pursued, judged the robbers were not willing to quit the
booty they had obtained.

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