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The Arabian Nights Entertainments Complete by Anon.

Part 9 out of 28

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The Story of the Barber's Fifth Brother.

Alnaschar, as long as our father lived, was very lazy; instead of
working he used to beg in the evening, and live upon what he got.
Our father died at a very old age, and left among us seven
hundred dirhems: we divided equally, so that each of us had a
hundred for his share. Alnaschar, who had never before possessed
so much money, was much perplexed to know what he should do with
it. He consulted a long time with himself, and at last resolved
to lay it out in glass-ware which he bought of a wholesale
dealer. He put all in an open basket, and sat with it before him,
and his back against a wall, in a place where he might sell it.
In this posture, with his eyes fixed on his basket, he began to
meditate; during which he spoke as follows: "This basket cost me
a hundred dirhems, which is all I have in the world. I shall make
two hundred of them by retailing my glass, and of these two
hundred, which I will again lay out in glass-ware, I shall make
four hundred; and going on thus, I shall at last make four
thousand dirhems; of four thousand I shall easily make eight
thousand, and when I come to ten thousand, I will leave off
selling glass and turn jeweller; I will trade in diamonds,
pearls, and all sorts of precious stones: then when I am as rich
as I can wish, I will buy a fine mansion, a great estate, slaves,
eunuchs, and horses. I will keep a good house, and make a great
figure in the world; I will send for all the musicians and
dancers of both sexes in town. Nor will I stop here, for, I will,
by the favour of Heaven, go on till I get one hundred thousand
dirhems, and when I have amassed so much, I will send to demand
the grand vizier's daughter in marriage; and represent to that
minister, that I have heard much of the wonderful beauty,
understanding, wit, and all the other qualities of his daughter;
in a word, that I will give him a thousand pieces of gold the
first night after we are married; and if the vizier be so uncivil
as to refuse his daughter, which cannot be supposed, I will go
and carry her off before his face, and take her to my house
whether he will or no. As soon as I have married the grand
vizier's daughter, I will buy her ten young black eunuchs, the
handsomest that can be had; I will clothe my self like a prince,
and mounted upon a fine horse, with a saddle of fine gold, with
housings of cloth of gold, finely embroidered with diamonds and
pearls, I will ride through the city, attended by slaves before
and behind. I will go to the vizier's palace in view of all the
people great and small, who will show me the most profound
respect. When I alight at the foot of the vizier's staircase, I
will ascend through my own people, ranged in files on the right
and left; and the grand vizier, receiving me as his son-in-law,
shall give me the right hand and set me above him, to do me the
more honour. If this comes to pass, as I hope it will, two of my
people shall each of them have a purse with a thousand pieces of
gold, which they shall carry with them. I will take one, and
presenting it to the grand vizier, tell him, ‘There is the
thousand pieces of gold that I promised the first night of
marriage:' and I will offer him the other and say to him, ‘There
is as much more, to shew you that I am a man of my word, and even
better than my promise.' After such an action as this, all the
world will talk of my generosity. I will return to my own house
in the same pomp. My wife will send some officer to compliment
me, on account of my visit to the vizier, her father: I will
honour the officer with a fine robe, and send him back with a
rich present. If she send me a present, I will not accept it, but
dismiss the bearer. I will not suffer her to go out of her
apartment on any account whatever, without giving me notice: and
when I have a mind to come to her apartment, it shall be in such
a manner as to make her respect me. In short, no house shall be
better ordered than mine. I will be always richly clad. When I
retire with my wife in the evening, I will sit on the upper seat,
I will affect a grave air, without turning my head to one side or
the other. I will speak little; and whilst my wife, beautiful as
the full moon, stands before me in all her charms, I will make as
if I did not see her. Her women about her will say to me, ‘Our
dear lord and master, here is your spouse, your humble servant,
before you, ready to receive your caresses, but much mortified
that you do not vouchsafe to look upon her; she is wearied with
standing so long, bid her, at least, sit down.' I will make no
answer, which will increase their surprise and grief. They will
prostrate themselves at my feet; and after they have for a
considerable time entreated me to relent, I will at last lift up
my head, give her a careless look, and resume my former posture:
they will suppose that my wife is not handsomely enough dressed,
and will carry her to her closet to change her apparel. At the
same time I will get up and put on a more magnificent suit; they
will return and address me as before, but I will not so much as
look upon my wife, till they have prayed and entreated as long as
they did at first. Thus I will begin on the first day of
marriage, to teach her what she is to expect during the rest of
her life.

"After the ceremonies of the marriage, I will take from one of my
servants, who shall be about me, a purse of five hundred pieces
of gold, which I will give to the tire-women, that they may leave
me alone with my spouse: when they are gone, my wife shall go to
bed first; then I will lie down by her with my back towards her,
and will not say one wore to her all night. The next morning she
will certainly complain of my contempt and of my pride, to her
mother the grand vizier's wife, which will rejoice my heart. Her
mother will come to wait upon me, respectfully kiss my hands, and
say to me, ‘Sir' (for she will not dare to call me son-in-law,
for fear of provoking me by such a familiar style), ‘I entreat
you not to disdain to look on my daughter, and refuse to come
near her. I assure you that her chief delight is to please you,
and that she loves you with all her soul.' But in spite of all my
mother-in-law can say, I will not answer her one word, but keep
an obstinate gravity. Then she will throw herself at my feet,
kiss them repeatedly, and say to me, ‘Sir, is it possible that
you can suspect my daughter's virtue? You are the first man who
ever saw her face: do not mortify her so much; do her the favour
to look upon her, to speak to her, and confirm her in her good
intentions to satisfy you in every thing.' But nothing of this
shall prevail with me. Upon which my mother-in-law will take a
glass of wine, and putting it in the hand of her daughter my
wife, will say, ‘Go, present him this glass of wine yourself;
perhaps he will not be so cruel as to refuse it from so fair a
hand.' My wife will come with the glass and stand trembling
before me; and when she finds that I do not look towards her, but
that I continue to disdain her, she will say to me with tears in
her eyes, ‘My heart, my dear soul, my amiable lord, I conjure
you, by the favours which heaven heaps upon you, to receive this
glass of wine from the hand of your most humble servant:' but I
will not look upon her still, nor answer her. ‘My charming
spouse,' will she say, redoubling her tears, and putting the
glass to my mouth, "I will never cease till I prevail with you to
drink;' then, wearied with her entreaties, I will dart a terrible
look at her, shake my hand in her face, and spurn her from me
with my foot."

My brother was so full of these chimerical visions, that he acted
with his foot as if she had been really before him, and
unfortunately gave such a push to his basket and glasses, that
they were thrown down, and broken into a thousand pieces,

On this fatal accident, he came to himself, and perceiving that
he had brought misfortune upon himself by his insupportable
pride, beat his face, tore his clothes, and cried so loud, that
the neighbours came about him; and the people, who were going to
their noon prayers, stopped to know what was the matter. Being on
a Friday, more people went to prayers than usual; some of them
took pity on Alnaschar, and others only laughed at his
extravagance. In the mean time, his vanity being dispersed with
his property, he bitterly bewailed his loss; and a lady of rank
passing by upon a mule richly caparisoned, my brother's situation
moved her compassion. She asked who he was, and what he cried
for? They told her, that he was a poor man, who had laid out the
little money he possessed in the purchase of a basket of
glassware, that the basket had fallen, and all his glasses were
broken. The lady immediately turned to an eunuch who attended
her, and said to him, "Give the poor man what you have about
you." The eunuch obeyed, and put into my brother's hands a purse
with five hundred pieces of gold. Alnaschar was ready to die with
joy when he received it. He gave a thousand blessings to the
lady, and shutting up his shop, where he had no more occasion to
sit, went to his house.

While he was pondering over his good luck, he heard somebody
knock at his door. Before he opened, he asked who it was, and
knowing by the voice that it was a woman, he let her in. "My
son," said she, "I have a favour to beg of you: the hour of
prayer is come, let me perform my ablutions in your house, that I
may be fit to say my prayers." My brother looking at her, and
seeing that she was well advanced in years, though he knew her
not, granted her request, and sat down again still full of his
new adventure. He put his gold in a long strait purse, proper to
carry at his girdle. The old woman in the mean time said her
prayers, and when she had done, came to my brother and bowed
twice to the ground, so low, that she touched it with her
forehead: then rising up, she wished him all happiness.

The old woman then bowed again, and thanked him for his civility.
Being meanly clad, and very humble, he thought she asked alms;
upon which he offered her two pieces of gold. The old woman
stepped back in a sort of surprise, as if my brother had
affronted her. "Good God!" said she, "what is the meaning of
this? Is it possible, sir, that you took me for one of those
impudent beggars who push into people's houses to ask alms? Take
back your money: thank heaven, I need it not. I belong to a young
lady of this city, who is a perfect beauty, and very rich; she
lets me want for nothing."

My brother was not cunning enough to perceive the craft of the
old woman, who only refused the two pieces of gold, that she
might catch more. He asked her, if she could not procure him the
honour of seeing that lady. "With all my heart," she replied;
"she will be very glad to marry you, and to put you in possession
of her fortune, by making you master of her person. Take up your
money, and follow me." My brother, transported with his good luck
in finding so great a sum of money, and almost at the same time a
beautiful and rich wife, shut his eyes to all other
considerations; so that he took his five hundred pieces of gold,
and followed the old woman. She walked on, and he followed at a
distance, to the gate of a great house, where she knocked. He
came up just as a young Greek slave opened the gate. The old
woman made him enter first, crossed a well-paved court, and
introduced him into a hall, the furniture of which confirmed him
in the good opinion he had conceived of the mistress of the
house. While the old woman went to acquaint the lady, he sat
down, and the weather being hot, put off his turban, and laid it
by him. He speedily saw the young lady enter: her beauty and rich
apparel perfectly surprised him; he arose as soon as he saw her.
The lady, with a smiling countenance, prayed him to sit down
again, and placed herself by him. She told him, she was very glad
to see him; and after having spoken some engaging words, said,
"We do not sit here at our ease. Come, give me your hand." At
these words she presented him hers, and conducted him into an
inner chamber, where she conversed with him for some time: she
then left him, saying that she would be with him in a moment. He
waited for her; but instead of the lady came in a great black
slave with a cimeter in his hand, and looking upon my brother
with a terrible aspect, said to him fiercely, "What have you to
do here?" Alnaschar was so frightened, that he had no power to
answer. The black stripped him, carried off his gold, and gave
him several flesh wounds with his cimeter. My unhappy brother
fell to the ground, where he lay without motion, though he had
still the use of his senses. The black thinking him to be dead,
asked for salt: the Greek slave brought him a basin full: they
rubbed my brother's wounds with it, but he had so much command of
himself, notwithstanding the intolerable pain it put him to, that
he lay still without giving any sign of life. The black and the
Greek slave having retired, the old woman, who had enticed my
brother into the snare, came and dragged him by the feet to a
trapdoor, which she opened, and threw him into a place under
ground, among the bodies of several other people who had been
murdered. He perceived this as soon as he came to himself, for
the violence of the fall had taken away his senses. The salt
rubbed into his wounds preserved his life, and he recovered
strength by degrees, so as to be able to walk. After two days he
opened the trap-door in the night, and finding in the court a
place proper to hide himself in, continued there till break of
day, when he saw the cursed old woman open the street gate, and
go out to seek another victim. He stayed in the place some time
after she was gone, that she might not see him, and then came to
me for shelter, when he told me of his adventures.

In a month's time he was perfectly cured of his wounds by
medicines that I gave him, and resolved to avenge himself of the
old woman, who had put such a barbarous cheat upon him. To this
end he took a bag, large enough to contain five hundred pieces of
gold, and filled it with pieces of glass.

My brother fastened the bag of glass about him, disguised himself
like an old woman, and took a cimeter under his gown. One morning
he met the old woman walking through the town to seek her prey;
he went up to her, and counterfeiting a woman's voice, said,
"Cannot you lend me a pair of scales? I am newly come from
Persia, have brought five hundred pieces of gold with me, and
would know if they are weight." "Good woman," answered the old
hag, "you could not have applied to a fitter person: follow me, I
will conduct you to my son, who changes money, and will weigh
them himself to save you the trouble. Let us make haste, for fear
he should go to his shop." My brother followed her to the house
where she carried him at first, and the Greek slave opened the

The old woman took my brother to the hall where she desired him
to wait till she called her son. The pretended son came, and
proved to be the villainous black slave. "Come, old woman," said
he to my brother, "rise and follow me:" having spoken thus, he
went before to conduct him to the place where he designed to
murder him. Alnaschar got up, followed him, and drawing his
cimeter, gave him such a dexterous blow behind on the neck, that
he cut off his head, which he took in one hand, and dragging the
corpse with the other, threw them both into the place under
ground before-mentioned. The Greek slave, who was accustomed to
the trade, came presently with a basin of salt; but when she saw
Alnaschar with his cimeter in his hand, and without his veil, she
laid down the basin, and fled. But my brother overtaking her, cut
off her head also. The wicked old woman came running at the
noise, and my brother seizing her, said to her, "Treacherous
wretch, do not you know me?" "Alas, Sir!" answered she trembling,
"who are you? I do not remember that I ever saw you." "I am,"
replied he, "the person to whose house you came the other day to
wash and say your prayers. Hypocritical hag, do not you
remember?" Then she fell on her knees to beg his pardon, but he
cut her in four pieces.

There remained only the lady, who knew nothing of what had
passed: he sought her out, and found her in a chamber, where she
was ready to sink when she saw him: she begged her life, which he
generously granted. "Madam," said he, "how could you live with
such wicked people, as I have so justly revenged myself upon?" "I
was," she answered, "wife to an honest merchant; and the old
woman, whose wickedness I did not then know, used sometimes to
come to see me; ‘Madam,' said she to me one day, ‘we have a
wedding at our house, which you will be pleased to see, if you
will give us the honour of your company:' I was persuaded by her,
put on my best apparel, and took with me a hundred pieces of
gold. I followed her; she brought me to this house, where the
black has since kept me by force, and I have been three years
here to my great sorrow." "By the trade which that cursed black
followed," replied my brother, "he must have gathered together a
vast deal of riches." "There is so much," said she "that you will
be made for ever, if you can carry them off: follow me, and you
shall see them." Alnaschar followed her to a chamber, where she
shewed him several coffers full of gold, which he beheld with
admiration. "Go," said she, "and fetch people to carry it all
off." My brother went out, got ten men together, and brought them
with him, but was much surprised to find the gate open, the lady
and the coffers gone, for she being more diligent than he, had
conveyed them all off and disappeared. However, being resolved
not to return empty-handed, he carried off all the furniture of
the house, which was a great deal more than enough to make up the
five hundred pieces of gold he had been robbed of; but when he
went out of the house, he forgot to shut the gate. The
neighbours, who saw my brother and the porters come and go, went
and acquainted the magistrate, for they looked upon my brother's
conduct as suspicious. Alnaschar slept well enough all night, but
the next morning, when he came out of his house, twenty of the
magistrate's men seized him. "Come along with us," said they,
"our master would speak with you." My brother prayed them to have
patience for a moment, and offered them a sum of money to let him
escape; but instead of listening to him, they bound him, and
forced him to go with them. They met in the street an old
acquaintance of my brother's, who stopped them awhile, asked them
why they had seized my brother, offered them a considerable sum
to let him escape, and tell the magistrate they could not find
him, but in vain.

When the officers brought him before the magistrate, he asked him
where he had the goods which he had carried home the preceding
evening? "Sir," replied Alnaschar, "I am ready to tell you all
the truth; but allow me first to have recourse to your clemency,
and to beg your promise, that I shall not be punished." "I give
it you," said the magistrate. My brother then told him the whole
story without disguise, from the period the old woman came into
his house to say her prayers, to the time the lady made her
escape, after he had killed the black, the Greek slave, and the
old woman: and as for what he had carried to his house, he prayed
the judge to leave him part of it, for the five hundred pieces of
gold of which he had been robbed.

The judge, without promising any thing, sent his officers to
bring off the whole, and having put the goods into his own
warehouse, commanded my brother to quit the town immediately, and
never to return, for he was afraid, if he had stayed in the city,
he would have found some way to represent this injustice to the
caliph. In the mean time, Alnaschar obeyed without murmuring, and
left that town to go to another. By the way, he met with
highwaymen, who stripped him naked; and when the ill news was
brought to me, I carried him a suit, and brought him secretly
into the town, where I took the like care of him as I did of his
other brothers.

The Story of the Barber's Sixth Brother.

I have now only to relate the story of my sixth brother, called
Schacabac, with the hare lips. At first he was industrious enough
to improve the hundred dirhems of silver which fell to his share,
and went on very well; but a reverse of fortune brought him to
beg his bread, which he did with a great deal of dexterity. He
studied chiefly to get into great men's houses by means of their
servants and officers, that he might have access to their
masters, and obtain their charity. One day as he passed by a
magnificent house, whose high gate shewed a very spacious court,
where there was a multitude of servants, he went to one of them,
and asked him to whom that house belonged? "Good man," replied
the servant, "whence do you come that you ask me such a question?
Does not all that you behold point out to you that it is the
palace of a Barmecide?" "My brother, who very well knew the
liberality and generosity of the Barmecides, addressed himself to
one of his porters (for he had more than one), and prayed him to
give him alms. "Go in," said he, "nobody hinders you, and address
yourself to the master of the house; he will send you back

My brother, who expected no such civility, thanked the porters,
and with their permission entered the palace, which was so large,
that it took him a considerable time to reach the Barmecide's.
apartment; at last he came to an arcade square building of an
excellent architecture, and entered by parterres of flowers
intersected by walks of several colours, extremely pleasant to
the eye: the lower apartments round this square were most of them
open, and were shut only with great curtains to keep out the sun,
which were opened again when the heat was over to let in the
fresh air.

Such an agreeable place would have struck my brother with
admiration, even if his mind had been more at ease than it was.
He went on till he came into a hall richly furnished and adorned
with painting of gold and azure foliage, where he saw a venerable
man with a long white beard, sitting at the upper end on a sofa,
whence he concluded him to be the master of the house; and in
fact it was the Barmecide himself, who said to my brother in a
very civil manner, that he was welcome; and asked him what he
wanted? "My lord," answered my brother, in a begging tone, "I am
a poor man who stands in need of the help of such rich and
generous persons as yourself." He could not have addressed
himself to a fitter person than this lord, who had a thousand
good qualities.

The Barmecide seemed to be astonished at my brother's answer, and
putting both his hands to his stomach, as if he would rend his
clothes for grief, "Is it possible," cried he, "that I am at
Bagdad, and that such a man as you is so poor as you say? this is
what must never be." My brother, fancying that he was going to
give him some singular mark of his bounty, blessed him a thousand
times, and wished him all happiness. "It shall not be said,"
replied the Barmecide, "that I will abandon you, nor will I have
you leave me." "Sir," replied my brother, "I swear to you I have
not eaten one bit to-day." "Is it true," demanded the Barmecide,
"that you are fasting till now? Alas, poor man! he is ready to
die for hunger. Ho, boy," cried he, with a loud voice, "bring a
basin and water presently, that we may wash our hands." Though no
boy appeared, and my brother saw neither water nor basin, the
Barmecide fell to rubbing his hands as if one had poured water
upon them, and bade my brother come and wash with him. Schacabac
judged by this, that the Barmecide lord loved to be merry, and he
himself understanding raillery, and knowing that the poor must be
complaisant to the rich, if they would have any thing from them,
came forward and did as he was required.

"Come on," said the Barmecide, "bring us something to eat, and do
not let us wait." When he had spoken, though nothing appeared, he
began to cut as if something had been brought him upon a plate,
and putting his hand to his mouth began to chew, and said to my
brother, "Come, friend, eat as freely as if you were at home;
come, eat; you said you were like to die of hunger, but you eat
as if you had no appetite." "Pardon me, my lord," said Schacabac,
who perfectly imitated what he did, "you see I lose no time, and
that I play my part well enough." "How like you this bread," said
the Barmecide; "do not you find it very good?" "O! my lord,"
replied my brother, who saw neither bread nor meat, "I have never
eaten anything so white and so fine." "Eat your belly-full," said
the Barmecide; "I assure you the woman who bakes me this good
bread cost me five hundred pieces of gold to purchase her."

The Barmecide, after having boasted so much of his bread, which
my brother ate only in idea, cried, "Boy, bring us another dish:"
and though no boy appeared, "Come, my good friend," continued he,
"taste this new dish; and tell me if ever you ate better mutton
and barley-broth than this." "It is admirably good," replied my
brother, "and therefore you see I eat heartily." "You oblige me
highly," resumed the Barmecide; "I conjure you then, by the
satisfaction I have to see you eat so heartily, that you eat all
up, since you like it so well." A little while after he called
for a goose and sweet sauce, made up of vinegar, honey, dry
raisins, grey peas, and dry figs, which were brought just in the
same manner as the others had. "The goose is very fat," said the
Barmecide, "eat only a leg and a wing; we must save our stomachs,
for we have abundance of other dishes to come." He actually
called for several others, of which my brother, who was ready to
die of hunger, pretended to eat; but what he boasted of more than
all the rest was a lamb fed with pistachio nuts, which he ordered
to be brought up in the same manner. "Here is a dish," said the
Barmecide "that you will see at nobody's table but my own; I
would have you eat your belly-full of it." Having spoken thus, he
stretched out his hand as if he had had a piece of lamb in it,
and putting it to my brother's mouth, "There," said he, "swallow
that, and you will judge whether I had not reason to boast of
this dish." My brother thrust out his head, opened his mouth, and
made as if he took the piece of lamb, and eat it with extreme
pleasure. "I knew you would like it," said the Barmecide. "There
is nothing in the world finer," replied my brother; "your table
is most delicious." "Come, bring the ragout; I fancy you will
like that as well as you did the lamb: Well, how do you relish
it?" "O! it is wonderful," replied Schacabac; "for here we taste
all at once, amber, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, pepper, and the most
odoriferous herbs, and all these delicacies are so well mixed,
that one does not prevent our tasting the other." "How pleasant!
Honour this ragout," said the Barmecide, "by eating heartily of
it. Ho, boy, bring us another ragout." "No, my lord, if it please
you," replied my brother, "for indeed I can eat no more."

"Come, take away then," said the Barmecide, "and bring the
fruit." He stayed a moment as it were to give time for his
servants to carry away; after which, he addressed my brother,
"Taste these almonds, they are good and fresh gathered." Both of
them made as if they had peeled the almonds, and eaten them;
after this, the Barmecide invited my brother to eat something
else. "Look," said he, "there are all sorts of fruits, cakes, dry
sweetmeats, and conserves, take what you like;" then stretching
out his hand, as if he had reached my brother something, "Look,"
he continued, "there is a lozenge, very good for digestion."
Schacabac made as if he ate it, and said, "My lord, there is no
want of musk here." "These lozenges," replied the Barmecide, "are
made at my own house, where nothing is wanting to make every
article good." He still bade my brother eat, and said to him,
"Methinks you do not eat as if you had been so hungry as you
complained you were when you came in." "My lord," replied
Schacabac, whose jaws ached with moving and having nothing to
eat, "I assure you I am so full that I cannot eat one bit more."

"Well, then, friend," resumed the Barmecide, "we must drink now,
after we have eaten so well." "You may drink wine, my lord,"
replied my brother, "but I will drink none if you please, because
I am forbidden." "You are too scrupulous," rejoined the
Barmecide; "do as I do." "I will drink then out of complaisance,"
said Schacabac, "for I see you will have nothing wanting to make
your treat complete; but since I am not accustomed to drink wine,
I am afraid I shall commit some error in point of good breeding,
and contrary to the respect that is due to you; therefore I pray
you, once more, to excuse me from drinking any wine; I will be
content with water." "No, no," said the Barmecide, "you shall
drink wine," and at the same time he commanded some to be
brought, in the same manner as the meat and fruit had been served
before. He made as if he poured out wine, and drank first
himself, and then pouring out for my brother, presented him the
glass, saying, "Drink my health, and let us know if you think
this wine good." My brother made as if he took the glass, and
looked as if the colour was good, and put it to his nose to try
the flavour: he then made a low salute to the Barmecide, to
signify that he took the liberty to drink his health, and lastly
he appeared to drink with all the signs of a man that drinks with
pleasure: "My lord," said he, "this is very excellent wine, but I
think it is not strong enough." "If you would have stronger,"
answered the Barmecide, "you need only speak, for I have several
sorts in my cellar. Try how you like this." Upon which he made as
if he poured out another glass for himself, and one for my
brother; and did this so often, that Schacabac, feigning to be
intoxicated with the wine, and acting a drunken man, lifted up
his hand, and gave the Barmecide such a box on the ear as made
him fall down. He was going to give him another blow, but the
Barmecide holding up his hand to ward it off, cried, "Are you
mad?" Then my brother, making as if he had come to himself again,
said, "My lord, you have been so good as to admit your slave into
your house, and give him a treat; you should have been satisfied
with making me eat, and not have obliged me to drink wine; for I
told you beforehand, that it might occasion me to fail in my
respect for you. I am very sorry for it, and beg you a thousand

Scarcely had he finished these words, when the Barmecide, instead
of being in a passion, fell a laughing with all his might. "I
have been long," said he, "seeking a man of your character."

The Barmecide caressed Schacabac mightily, and told him, "I not
only forgive the blow you have given me, but I desire
henceforward we should be friends, and that you take my house for
your home: you have had the complaisance to accommodate yourself
to my humour, and the patience to keep the jest up to the last;
we will now eat in good earnest." When he had finished these
words, he clapped his hands, and commanded his servants, who then
appeared, to cover the table; which was speedily done, and my
brother was treated with all those dishes in reality, which he
ate of before in fancy. At last they cleared the table, and
brought in the wine, and at the same time a number of handsome
slaves, richly appareled, came and sung some agreeable airs to
their musical instruments. In a word, Schacabac had all the
reason in the world to be satisfied with the Barmecide's civility
and bounty; for he treated him as his familiar friend, and
ordered him a suit from his wardrobe.

The Barmecide found my brother to be a man of so much wit and
understanding, that in a few days after he entrusted him with the
care of his household and all his affairs. My brother acquitted
himself very well in that employment for twenty years; at the end
of which the generous Barmecide died, and leaving no heirs, all
his property was confiscated to the use of the prince; and my
brother lost all he had acquired. Being reduced to his first
condition, he joined a caravan of pilgrims going to Mecca,
designing to accomplish that pilgrimage by their charity; but
unfortunately the caravan was attacked and plundered by a number
of Bedouins, superior to that of the pilgrims. My brother was
then taken as a slave by one of the Bedouins, who put him under
the bastinado for several days, to oblige him to ransom himself.
Schacabac protested that it was all in vain. "I am your slave,"
said he, "you may dispose of me as you please; but I declare to
you that I am extremely poor, and not able to redeem myself." In
a word, my brother discovered to him all his misfortunes, and
endeavoured to soften him with tears; but the Bedouin was not to
be moved, and being vexed to find himself disappointed of a
considerable sum of which he reckoned himself sure, he took his
knife and slit my brother's lips. to avenge himself by this
inhumanity for the loss that he thought he had sustained.

The Bedouin had a handsome wife, and frequently when he went on
his excursions left my brother alone with her. At such times she
used all her endeavours to comfort my brother under the rigour of
his slavery. She gave him tokens enough that she loved him, but
he durst not return her passion, for fear he should repent; and
therefore avoided being alone with her, as much as she sought the
opportunity to be alone with him. She was so much in the habit of
caressing and playing with the miserable Schacabac, whenever she
saw him, that one day she happened to act in the same manner, in
the presence of her husband. My brother, without taking notice
that he observed them (so his sins would have it), played
likewise with her. The Bedouin, immediately supposing that they
lived together in a criminal manner, fell upon my brother in a
rage, and after he had mutilated him in a barbarous manner,
carried him on a camel to the top of a desert mountain, where he
left him. The mountain was on the road to Bagdad, so that the
passengers who saw him there informed me where he was. I went
thither speedily, and found unfortunate Schacabac in a deplorable
condition: I gave him what help he stood in need of, and brought
him back to the city.

This is what I told the caliph; that prince applauded me with new
fits of laughter. "Now," said he, "I cannot doubt but they justly
give you the surname of Silent. No one can say the contrary for
certain reasons, however, I command you to depart this town
immediately, and let me hear no more of you." I yielded to
necessity, and travelled for several years in distant countries.
Understanding at last that the caliph was dead, I returned to
Bagdad, where I found not one of my brothers alive. It was on my
return to this city that I did the lame young man the important
service which you have heard. You are, however, witnesses of his
ingratitude, and of the injurious manner in which he treated me;
instead of testifying his obligation, he rather chose to fly from
me and leave his own country. When I understood that he was not
at Bagdad, though no one could tell me whither he was gone, I
determined to seek him. I travelled from province to province a
long time; and when I least expected, met him this day, but I
little thought to find him so incensed against me.

When the barber had concluded his story, we found that the young
man was not to blame for calling him a great chatterer. However,
he wished him to stay with us, and partake of the entertainment
which the master of the house had prepared. We sat down to table,
and were merry together till afternoon prayers; when all the
company parted, and I went to my shop, till it was time to return
home. It was during this interval that humpback came half drunk
before my shop, where he sung and played on his tabor. I thought
that, by carrying him home with me, I should divert my wife,
therefore I took him in: my wife gave us a dish of fish, and I
presented humpback with some, which he ate, without taking notice
of a bone. He fell down dead before us, and after having in vain
essayed to help him, in the trouble and fear occasioned by such
an unlucky accident, we carried the corpse out, and dexterously
lodged him with the Jewish doctor. The Jewish doctor put him into
the chamber of the purveyor, and the purveyor carried him out
into the street, where it was believed the merchant had killed
him. "This sir," added the tailor, "is what I had to say to
satisfy your majesty, who must pronounce whether we be worthy of
mercy or wrath, life or death."

The sultan of Casgar shewed a satisfaction in his countenance,
which restored the tailor and his comrades to life. "I cannot but
acknowledge," said he, "that I am more struck with the history of
the young cripple, with that of the barber, and with the
adventures of his brothers, than with the story of my jester: but
before I send you all away, and we proceed to bury humpback, I
should like to see the barber who is the occasion of my pardoning
you; since he is in my capital, it is easy to satisfy my
curiosity." At the same time he sent an officer with the tailor
to find him.

The officer and the tailor went immediately and brought the
barber, whom they presented to the sultan: the barber was a
venerable man about ninety years of age; his eye-brows and beard
were white as snow, his ears hanging down, and his nose very
long. The sultan could not forbear laughing when he saw him.
"Silent man," said he to him, "I understand that you know
wonderful stories, will you tell me some of them?"

"Sir," answered the barber, "let us forbear the stories, if you
please, at present. I most humbly beg your majesty to permit me
to ask what that Christian, that Jew, that Moosulmaun and that
dead humpback, who ties on the ground, do here before your
majesty?" The sultan smiled at the barber's freedom, and replied,
"Why do you ask?" "Sir," replied the barber, "it concerns me to
ask, that your majesty may know I am not so great a talker as
some represent me, but a man justly called Silent."

The sultan commanded them to tell him the story of the humpback,
which he seemed earnestly to wish for. When the barber heard it,
he shook his head, as if he would say, there was something under
this which he did not understand. "Truly," cried he, "this is a
surprising story; but I wish to examine humpback a little
nearer." He approached him, sat down on the ground, took his head
between his knees, and after he had looked upon him steadfastly,
fell into so great a fit of laughter, and had so little command
of himself, that he fell backwards on the ground, without
considering that he was before the sultan of Casgar. As soon as
he came to himself, "It is said," cried he, "and not without
reason, that no man dies without a cause. If ever any history
deserved to be written in letters of gold, it is that of this

At this all the people looked on the barber as a buffoon, or an
old dotard. "Silent man," said the sultan, "why do you laugh?"
"Sir," answered the barber, "I swear by your majesty's
benevolence, that humpback is not dead: he is yet alive, and I
shall be content to pass for a madman if I do not convince you
this minute." So saying, he took a box wherein he had several
medicines that he carried about him to use as occasion might
require; and drew out a little phial of balsam, with which he
rubbed humpback's neck a long time; then he took out of his case
a neat iron instrument, which he put betwixt his teeth, and after
he had opened his mouth, he thrust down his throat a pair of
small pincers, with which he took out a bit of fish and bone,
which he shewed to all the people. Immediately humpback sneezed,
stretched forth his arms and feet, opened his eyes, and shewed
several other signs of life.

The sultan of Casgar, and all who were witnesses of this
operation, were less surprised to see humpback revive, after he
had passed a whole night, and great part of a day, without giving
any sign of life, than at the merit and capacity of the barber,
who performed this; and notwithstanding all his faults, began to
look upon him as a great physician. The sultan, transported with
joy and admiration, ordered the story of humpback to be written
down, with that of the barber, that the memory of them might, as
it deserved, be preserved for ever. Nor did he stop here; but,
that the tailor, Jewish doctor, purveyor, and Christian merchant
might remember the adventure, which the accident of humpback had
occasioned to them, with pleasure, he did not send them away till
he had given each of them a very rich robe, with which he caused
them to be clothed in his presence. As for the barber, he
honoured him with a great pension, and kept him near his person.

The History of Aboulhassen Ali Ebn Becar, and
Schemselnihar, Favourite of Caliph Maroon Al Rusheed.

In the reign of the caliph Haroon al Rusheed, there lived at
Bagdad a druggist, named Alboussan Ebn Thaher, a very rich
handsome man. He had more wit and politeness than people of his
profession generally possess: his integrity, sincerity, and good
humour made him beloved and sought after by all sorts of people.
The caliph, who knew his merit, had entire confidence in him. He
held him in such high esteem, that he entrusted him to provide
his favourite ladies with all the things they stood in need of.
He chose for them their clothes, furniture, and jewels, with
admirable taste.

His good qualities, and the favour of the caliph, occasioned the
sons of emirs, and other officers of the first rank, to be always
about him: his house was the rendezvous of all the nobility of
the court Among the young lords that went daily to visit him, was
one whom he took more notice of than the rest, and with whom he
contrasted a particular friendship, called Aboulhassen Ali Ebn
Becar, originally of an ancient royal family of Persia. This
family had continued at Bagdad ever since the conquest of that
kingdom. Nature seemed to have taken pleasure in endowing this
young prince with the rarest qualities of body and mind: his face
was so very beautiful, his shape so fine, his air so easy, and
his physiognomy so engaging, that it was impossible to see him
without immediately loving him. When he spoke, he expressed
himself in terms proper and well chosen, with a new and agreeable
turn, and his voice charmed all that heard him: he had besides so
much wit and judgment, that he thought and spoke of all subjects
with admirable exactness. He was so reserved and modest, that he
advanced nothing till after he had taken all possible care to
avoid giving any ground of suspicion that he preferred his own
opinion to that of others.

Being such a person as I have represented him, we need not wonder
that Ebn Thaher distinguished him from all the other young
noblemen of the court, most of whom had the vices which composed
the opposites to his virtues. One day, when the prince was with
Ebn Thaher, there came a lady mounted on a piebald mule, in the
midst of ten female slaves who accompanied her on foot, all very
handsome, as far as could be judged by their air, and through
their veils which covered their faces. The lady had a girdle of a
rose colour, four inches broad, embroidered with pearls and
diamonds of an extraordinary bigness; and for beauty it was easy
to perceive that she surpassed all her women, as far as the full
moon does that of two days old. She came to buy something, and as
she wanted to speak to Ebn Thaher, entered his shop, which was
very neat and spacious; and he received her with all the marks of
the most profound respect, entreating her to sit down, and
directing her to the most honourable place.

In the mean time, the prince of Persia, unwilling to lose such an
opportunity of strewing his good breeding and gallantry, adjusted
the cushion of cloth of gold, for the lady to lean on; after
which he hastily retired, that she might sit down; and having
saluted her, by kissing the carpet under her feet, rose and stood
before her at the lower end of the sofa. It being her custom to
be free with Ebn Thaher, she lifted up her veil, and discovered
to the prince of Persia such an extraordinary beauty as struck
him to the heart. On the other hand, the lady could not refrain
from looking upon the prince, the sight of whom had made the same
impressions upon her. "My lord," said she to him, with an
obliging air, "pray sit down." The prince of Persia obeyed, and
sat on the edge of the sofa. He had his eyes constantly fixed
upon her, and swallowed large draughts of the sweet poison of
love. She quickly perceived what passed in his heart, and this
discovery served to inflame her the more towards him. She arose,
went to Ebn Thaher, and after she had whispered to him the cause
of her coming, asked the name and country of the prince. "Madam,"
answered Ebn Thaher, "this young nobleman's name is Aboulhassen
Ali Ebn Becar, and he is a prince of the blood royal of Persia."

The lady was transported at hearing that the person she already
loved so passionately was of so high a rank. "Do you really
mean," said she, "that he is descended from the kings of Persia?"
"Yes, madam," replied Ebn Thaher, "the last kings of Persia were
his ancestors, and since the conquest of that kingdom, the
princes of his family have always made themselves very acceptable
at the court of our caliphs." "You will oblige me much," added
she, "by making me acquainted with this young nobleman: when I
send this woman," pointing to one of her slaves, "to give you
notice to come and see me, pray bring him with you; I shall be
glad to afford him the opportunity of seeing the magnificence of
my house, that he may have it in his power to say, that avarice
does not reign at Bagdad among persons of quality. You know what
I mean."

Ebn Thaher was a man of too much penetration not to perceive the
lady's mind by these words: "My princess, my queen," replied he,
"God preserve me from giving you any occasion of anger: I shall
always make it a law to obey your commands." At this answer, the
lady bowed to Ebn Thaher, and took her leave; and after she had
given a favorable look to the prince of Persia, she remounted her
mule, and departed.

The prince of Persia was so deeply in love with the lady, that he
looked after her as far as he could; and long after she was out
of sight directed his eyes that way. Ebn Thaher told him, that he
remarked several persons observing him, and began to laugh to see
him in this posture. "Alas!" said the prince, "the world and you
would pity me, if you knew that the beautiful lady, who is just
gone from you, has carried with her the best part of me, and that
the remaining part seeks for an opportunity to go after her. Tell
me, I conjure you," added he, "what cruel lady is this, who
forces people to love her, without giving them time to reflect?"
"My lord," answered Ebn Thaher, "this is the celebrated
Schemselnihar, the principal favourite of the caliph, our
master." "She is justly so called," added the prince, "since she
is more beautiful than the sun at noonday." "True," replied Ebn
Thaher; "therefore the commander of the faithful loves, or rather
adores her. He gave me express orders to furnish her with all
that she asked for, and to anticipate her wishes as far as lies
in my power."

He spoke thus to hinder him from engaging in a passion which
could not but prove unfortunate to him; but this served only to
inflame it the more. "I feared, charming Schemselnihar," cried
he, "I should not be allowed so much as to think of you; I
perceive, however, that without hopes of being loved in return, I
cannot forbear loving you; I will love you then, and bless my lot
that I am the slave of an object fairer than the meridian sun."

While the prince of Persia thus consecrated his heart to the fair
Schemselnihar, this lady, as she went home, contrived how she
might see, and have free converse with him. She no sooner entered
her palace, than she sent to Ebn Thaher the woman she had pointed
out to him, and in whom she placed all her confidence, to tell
him to come and see her without delay, and bring the prince of
Persia with him. The slave came to Ebn Thaher's shop, while he
was speaking to the prince, and endeavouring to dissuade him, by
very strong arguments, from loving the caliph's favourite. When
she saw them together, "Gentlemen," said she, "my honourable
mistress Schemselnihar the chief favourite of the commander of
the faithful, entreats you to come to her palace, where she waits
for you." Ebn Thaher, to testify his obedience, rose up
immediately, without answering the slave, and followed her, not
without some reluctance. The prince also followed he, without
reflecting on the danger there might be in such a visit. The
presence of Ebn Thaher, who had liberty to go to the favourite
when he pleased, made the prince very easy: they followed the
slave, who went a little before them, and entered after her into
the caliph's palace, and joined her at the gate of
Schemselnihar's pavilion, which was ready open. She introduced
them into a great hall, where she prayed them to be seated.

The prince of Persia thought himself in one of those delicious
palaces that are promised to us in the other world: he had never
seen any thing that came near the magnificence of the place. The
carpets, cushions, and other appendages of the sofa, the
furniture, ornaments, and architecture, were surprisingly rich
and beautiful. A little time after Ebn Thaher and he had seated
themselves, a very handsome black slave brought in a table
covered with several delicacies, the admirable smell of which
evinced how deliciously they were seasoned. While they were
eating, the slave who brought them in waited upon them; she took
particular care to invite them to eat of what she knew to be the
greatest dainties. The other slaves brought them excellent wine
after they had eaten. When they had done, there was presented to
each of them a gold basin full of water to wash their hands;
after which, they brought them a golden pot full of the wood of
aloes, with which they perfumed their beards and clothes.
Odoriferous water was not forgotten, but served in a golden
vessel enriched with diamonds and rubies, and it was thrown upon
their beards and faces according to custom; they then resumed
their places, but had scarcely sat down, when the slave entreated
them to arise and follow her. She opened a door, and conducted
them into a large saloon of wonderful structure. It was a dome of
the most agreeable form, supported by a hundred pillars of
marble, white as alabaster. The bases and chapiters of the
pillars were adorned with four-footed beasts, and birds of
various sorts, gilded. The carpet of this noble saloon consisted
of one piece of cloth of gold, embroidered with bunches of roses
in red and white silk; and the dome painted in the same manner,
after the Arabian fashion, presented to the mind one of the most
charming objects. In every space between the columns was a little
sofa adorned in the same manner, and great vessels of china,
crystal, jasper, jet, porphyry, agate, and other precious
materials, garnished with gold and jewels; in these spaces were
also so many large windows, with balconies projecting breast
high, fitted up as the sofas, and looking out into the most
delicious garden; the walks were of little pebbles of different
colours, of the same pattern as the carpet of the saloon; so
that, looking upon the carpet within and without it seemed as if
the dome and the garden with all its ornaments had been upon the
same carpet. The prospect was, at the end of the walks,
terminated by two canals of clear water, of the same circular
figure as the dome, one of which being higher than the other,
emptied its water into the lowermost, in form of a sheet; and
curious pots of gilt brass, with flowers and shrubs, were set
upon the banks of the canals at equal distances. Those walks lay
betwixt great plots of ground planted with straight and bushy
trees, where a thousand birds formed a melodious concert, and
diverted the eye by flying about, and playing together, or
fighting in the air.

The prince of Persia and Ebn Thaher were a long time engaged in
viewing the magnificence of the place, and expressed their
surprise at every thing thing saw, especially the prince, who had
never beheld any thing like it. Ebn Thaher, though he had been
several times in that delicious place, could not but observe many
new beauties, In a word they never grew weary in admiring so many
singularities, and were thus agreeably employed, when they
perceived a company of ladies richly appareled sitting without,
at some distance from the dome, each of them upon a seat of
Indian plane wood inlaid with silver filigree in compartments,
with instruments of music in their hands, waiting for orders to
play. They both went forward, and had a full view of the ladies,
and on the right they saw a great court with a stair up from the
garden, encompassed with beautiful apartments. The slave had left
them, and being alone, they conversed together; "For you, who are
a wise man," said the prince of Persia, "I doubt not but you look
with a great deal of satisfaction upon all these marks of
grandeur and power; for my part, I do not think there is any
thing in the world more surprising. But when I consider that this
is the glorious habitation of the lovely Schemselnihar, and that
the greatest monarch of the earth keeps her here, I confess to
you that I look upon myself to be the most unfortunate of all
mankind, and that no destiny can be more cruel than mine, to love
an object possessed by my rival, and that too in a place where he
is so potent, that I cannot think myself sure of my life one

Ebn Thaher, hearing the prince of Persia speak, replied, "Sir, I
wish you could give me as good assurance of the happy success of
your passion, as I can give you of the safety of your life.
Though this stately palace belongs to the caliph, who built it on
purpose for Schemselnihar, and called it the palace of eternal
pleasures, and though it makes part of his own palace, yet you
must know that this lady lives here at absolute liberty. She is
not beset by eunuchs to be spies upon her; this is her private
house, absolutely at her disposal. She goes into the city when
she pleases, and returns again, without asking leave of any body:
and the caliph never comes to see her, but he sends Mesrour, the
chief of his eunuchs, to give her notice, that she may be
prepared to receive him. Therefore you may be easy, and give full
attention to the concert of music, which, I perceive,
Schemselnihar is preparing for you."

Just as Ebn Thaher had spoken these words, the prince of Persia,
and he, saw the favourite's trusty slave giving orders to the
ladies to begin to sing, and play with the instruments: they all
began immediately to play together as a prelude, and after they
had played some time, one of them began to sing alone, and
accompanied herself at the same time admirably upon her lute,
being informed beforehand upon what subject she was to sing. The
words were so agreeable to the prince of Persia's sentiments,
that he could not forbear applauding her at the end of the
couplet. "Is it possible," cried he, "that you have the gift of
knowing people's hearts, and that the knowledge of what is
passing in my mind has occasioned you to give us a taste of your
charming voice by those words? I should not express myself
otherwise, were I to choose." The lady made no reply, but went on
and sung several other stanzas, with which the prince was so
affected, that he repeated some of them with tears in his eyes;
which discovered plainly enough that he applied them to himself.
When she had finished, she and her companions rose up and sung a
chorus, signifying by their words, that the full moon was going
to rise in all her splendour, and that they should speedily see
her approach the sun. Intimating, that Schemselnihar was coming,
and that the prince of Persia would soon have the pleasure of
beholding her.

In fact, as they looked towards the court, they saw
Schemselnihar's confidant coming towards them, followed by ten
black women, who, with much difficulty, carried a throne of
massive silver curiously wrought, which they set down before them
at a certain distance; the black slaves then retired behind the
trees, to the entrance of a walk. After this came twenty handsome
ladies richly appareled alike; they advanced in two rows, each
singing and playing upon instruments which she held in her hands,
and placed themselves on each side of the throne.

All these things kept the prince of Persia and Ebn Thaher in so
much the greater expectation, as they were curious to know how
they would end. At length they saw advancing from the gate
through which the ten black women had proceeded ten other ladies
equally handsome, and well dressed, who halted a few moments,
expecting the favourite, who came out last, and placed herself in
the midst of them.

Schemselnihar was easily distinguished from the rest, by her fine
shape and majestic air, as well as by a sort of mantle, of a very
fine stuff of gold and sky-blue, fastened to her shoulders, over
her other apparel, which was the most handsome, most magnificent,
and best contrived that could be imagined.

The pearls, rubies, and diamonds, which adorned her, were well
disposed; not many in number, but chosen with taste, and of
inestimable value. She came forward, with a majesty resembling
the sun in its course amidst the clouds, which receive his
splendour without hiding his lustre, and sat upon the silver
throne that had been brought for her.

As soon as the prince of Persia saw Schemselnihar, his eyes were
rivetted on her. "We cease inquiring," said he to Ebn Thaher,
"after what we seek, when once it is in view; and no doubt
remains, when once the truth is made apparent. Do you see this
charming beauty? She is the cause of all my sufferings, which I
bless, and will never forbear to bless, however severe and
lasting. At the sight of this objets, I am not my own master; my
soul is disturbed, and rebels, and seems disposed to leave me. Go
then, my soul, I allow thee; but let it be for the welfare and
preservation of this weak body. It is you, cruel Ebn Thaher, who
are the cause of this disorder, in bringing me hither. You
thought to do me a great pleasure; but I perceive I am only come
to complete my ruin. Pardon me," he continued, interrupting
himself; "I am mistaken. I would come, and can blame no one but
myself;" and at these words he burst into tears. "I am glad,"
said Ebn Thaher, "that you do me justice. When I told you at
first, that Schemselnihar was the caliph's chief favourite, I did
it on purpose to prevent that fatal passion which you please
yourself with entertaining. All that you see here ought to
disengage you, and you are to think of nothing but of
acknowledging the honour which Schemselnihar has done you, by
ordering me to bring you with me; recall then your wandering
reason, and prepare to appear before her, as good breeding
requires. See, she advances: were we to begin again, I would take
other measures, but since the thing is done, I pray God we may
not have cause to repent. All that I have now to say to you is,
that love is a traitor, who may involve you in difficulties from
which you will never be able to extricate yourself."

Ebn Thaher had no time to say more, because Schemselnihar
approached, and sitting down upon her throne, saluted them both
by bowing her head; but she fixed her eyes on the prince of
Persia, and they spoke to one another in a silent language
intermixed with sighs; by which in a few moments they spoke more
than they could have done by words in a much longer time. The
more Schemselnihar, looked upon the prince, the more she found in
his looks to confirm her opinion that he was in love with her;
and being thus persuaded of his passion, thought herself the
happiest woman in the world. At last she turned her eyes from
him, to command the women, who began to sing first, to come near;
they rose, and as they advanced, the black women, who came out of
the walk into which they had retired, brought their seats, and
placed them near the window, in the front of the dome where Ebn
Thaher and the prince of Persia stood, and their seats were so
disposed, that, with the favourite's throne and the women on each
side of her, they formed a semicircle before them.

The women, who were sitting before she came resumed their places,
with the permission of Schemselnihar, who ordered them by a sign;
that charming favourite chose one of those women to sing, who,
after she had spent some moments in tuning her lute, sung a song,
the meaning whereof was, that when two lovers entirely loved one
another with affection boundless, their hearts, though in two
bodies, were united; and, when any thing opposed their desires,
could say with tears in their eyes, "If we love because we find
one another amiable, ought we to be blamed? Let destiny bear the

Schemselnihar evinced so plainly by her eyes and gestures that
those words were applicable to herself and the prince of Persia,
that he could not contain himself. He arose, and advancing to a
balustrade, which he leaned upon, beckoned to one of the
companions of the woman who had just done singing, to approach.
When she had got near enough, he said to her, "Do me the favour
to accompany me with your lute, in a song which you shall hear me
sing." He then sung with an air so tender and passionate, as
perfectly expressed the violence of his love. As soon as he had
done, Schemselnihar, following his example, said to one of the
women, "Attend to me likewise, and accompany my song." At the
same time she sung in such a manner, as more deeply to penetrate
the heart of the prince of Persia, who answered her by a new air,
more passionate than the former.

The two lovers having declared their mutual affection by their
songs, Schemselnihar yielded to the force of hers. She arose from
her throne in transport, and advanced towards the door of the
hall. The prince, who perceived her design, rose up immediately,
and went to meet her. They met at the door, where they took one
another by the hand, and embraced with so much passion, that they
fainted, and would have fallen, if the woman who followed
Schemselnihar had not hindered them. They supported them to a
sofa, where they were brought to themselves, by throwing
odoriferous water on their faces, and applying pungent odours to
their nostrils.

When they had recovered, the first thing Schemselnihar did was to
look about: and not seeing Ebn Thaher, she asked, with eagerness,
where he was? He had withdrawn out of respect whilst her women
were engaged in recovering her, and dreaded, not without reason,
that some disagreeable consequence might follow what he had seen;
but as soon as he heard Schemselnihar inquire for him, he came

Schemselnihar was much pleased to see Ebn Thaher, and expressed
her joy in the most obliging terms: "Ebn Thaher, I know not how
to make you proper returns for the great obligations you have put
upon me; without you, I should never have seen the prince of
Persia, nor have loved the most amiable person in the world.
Assure yourself I shall not die ungrateful, and that my
gratitude, if possible, shall be equal to the obligation." Ebn
Thaher answered this compliment by a low obeisance, and wished
the favourite the accomplishment of all her desires.

Schemselnihar, turning towards the prince of Persia, who sat by
her, and looking upon him with some confusion after what had
passed, said to him, "I am well assured you love me, and how
great soever your love may be to me, you need not doubt but mine
is as great towards you: but let us not flatter ourselves; for,
notwithstanding this conformity of our sentiments, I see nothing
for you and me but trouble, impatience, and tormenting grief.
There is no other remedy for our evils but to love one another
constantly, to refer ourselves to the disposal of Heaven, and to
wait its determination of our destiny." "Madam," replied the
prince of Persia, "you will do me the greatest injustice, if you
doubt for a moment the continuance of my love. It is so
interwoven with my soul, that I can justly say it makes the best
part of it, and will continue so after death. Pains, torments,
obstacles, nothing shall prevent my loving you." Speaking these
words he shed tears in abundance, and Schemselnihar was not able
to restrain hers.

Ebn Thaher took this opportunity to speak to the favourite.
"Madam, allow me to represent to you, that, instead of melting
into tears, you ought to rejoice that you are now together. I
understand not this grief. What will it be when you are obliged
to part? But why do I talk of that? We have been a long while
here, and you know, madam, it is time for us to be going." "Ah!
how cruel are you!" replied Schemselnihar, "You, who know the
cause of my tears, have you no pity for my unfortunate condition?
Oh! sad fatality! What have I done to subject myself to the
severe law of not being able to join with the only person I

Persuaded as she was that Ebn Thaher spoke to her only out of
friendship, she did not take amiss what he said, but made a
proper use of his intimation She made a sign to the slave her
confidant, who immediately went out, and in a little time brought
a collation of fruits upon a small silver table, which she set
down betwixt her mistress and the prince of Persia. Schemselnihar
took some of the best, and presented it to the prince, praying
him to eat it for her sake; he took it, and put to his mouth that
part which she had touched; and then he presented some to her,
which she took, and ate in the same manner. She did not forget to
invite Ebn Thaher to eat with them; but he thinking himself not
safe in that place, and wishing himself at home, ate only out of
complaisance. After the collation was taken away, they brought a
silver basin, with water in a vessel of gold, and washed
together; they afterwards returned to their places, and three of
the ten black women brought each a cup of rock crystal full of
exquisite wine, upon a golden salver; which they placed before
Schemselnihar, the prince of Persia, and Ebn Thaher. That they
might be the more private, Schemselnihar kept with her only ten
black women, with ten others who began to sing, and play upon
instruments; and after she had sent away all the rest, she took
up one of the cups, and holding it in her hand sung some tender
words, which one of her women accompanied with her lute. When she
had done, she drank, and afterwards took up one of the other cups
and presented it to the prince, praying him to drink for love of
her, as she had drunk for love of him. He received the cup with a
transport of love and joy; but before he drank, he sung also a
song, which another woman accompanied with an instrument: and as
he sang the tears fell from his eyes in such abundance, that he
could not forbear expressing in his song, that he knew not
whether he was going to drink the wine she had presented to him,
or his own tears. Schemselnihar at last presented the third cup
to Ebn Thaher, who thanked her for her kindness, and for the
honour she did him.

After this she took a lute from one of her women, and sung to it
in such a passionate manner, that she seemed to be transported
out of herself: and the prince of Persia stood with his eyes
fixed upon her, as if he had been enchanted. At this instant, her
trusty slave came in great alarm, and addressing herself to her
mistress, said, "Madam Mesrour and two other officers, with
several eunuchs that attend them, are at the gate, and want to
speak with you from the caliph." When the prince of Persia and
Ebn Thaher heard these words, they changed colour, and began to
tremble as if they had been undone: but Schemselnihar who
perceived their agitation, revived their courage by a sigh.

After Schemselnihar had quieted the fears of the prince of Persia
and Ebn Thaher, she ordered the slave, her confidant, to go and
speak to Mesrour, and the two other officers, till she had put
herself in a condition to receive them, and could send her to
introduce them. Immediately she ordered all the windows of' the
saloon to be shut, and the painted cloth on the side of the
garden to be let down: and after having assured the prince and
Ebn Thaher that they might continue there without any fear, she
went out at the gate leading to the garden, and closed it upon
them: but whatever assurance she had given them of their safety,
they were full of apprehension all the while they remained there.

As soon as Schemselnihar had reached the garden with the women
that had followed her, she ordered all the seats, which served
the women who played on the instruments, to be placed near the
window, where the prince of Persia and Ebn Thaher heard them; and
having got things in order, she sat down upon her silver throne:
she then sent notice to the slave her confidant to bring in the
chief of the eunuchs, and his two subaltern officers.

They appeared, followed by twenty black eunuchs all handsomely
clothed, with cimeters by their sides, and gold belts of four
inches broad. As soon as they perceived the favourite
Schemselnihar at a distance, they made her a profound reverence,
which she returned them from her throne. When they approached,
she arose and went to meet Mesrour, who advanced first; she asked
what news he brought? He answered, "Madam, the commander of the
faithful has sent me to signify that he cannot live longer
without seeing you; he designs to do himself that pleasure this
night, and I am come to give you notice, that you may be ready to
receive him. He hopes, madam, that you will receive him with as
much pleasure as he feels impatience to see you."

At these words the favourite Schemselnihar prostrated herself to
the ground, as a mark of that submission with which she received
the caliph's order. When she rose, she said, "Pray tell the
commander of the faithful, that I shall always reckon it my glory
to execute his majesty's commands, and that his slave will do her
utmost to receive him with all the respect that is due to him."
At the same time she ordered the slave her confidant to tell the
black women appointed for that service to get the palace ready to
receive the caliph, and dismissing the chief of the eunuchs, said
to him, "You see it requires some time to get all things ready,
therefore I entreat you to curb his majesty's impatience, that,
when he arrives, he may not find things out of order."

The chief of the eunuchs and his retinue being gone,
Schemselnihar returned to the saloon, extremely concerned at the
necessity she was under of sending back the prince of Persia
sooner than she had intended. She came up to him again with tears
in her eyes, which heightened Ebn Thaher's fear, who thought it
no good omen. "Madam," said the prince to her, "I perceive you
are come to tell me that we must part: if there be nothing more
to dread, I hope Heaven will give me the patience which is
necessary to support your absence." "Alas!" replied the too
tender Schemselnihar, "how happy do I think you, and how unhappy
do I think myself, when I compare your lot with my sad destiny!
No doubt you will suffer by my absence, but that is all, and you
may comfort yourself with hopes of seeing me again; but as for
me, just Heaven! what a terrible trial am I brought to! I must
not only be deprived of the sight of the only person whom I love,
but I must be tormented with the presence of one whom you have
made hateful to me. Will not the arrival of the caliph put me in
mind of your departure? And how can I, when I am taken up with
your dear image, express to that prince the joy which he always
observed in my eyes whenever he came to see me? I shall have my
mind perplexed when I speak to him, and the least complaisance
which I shew to his love will stab me to the heart. Can I relish
his kind words and caresses? Think, prince, to what torments I
shall be exposed when I can see you no more." Her tears and sighs
hindered her from going on, and the prince of Persia would have
replied, but his own grief, and that of his mistress, deprived
him of the power of speech.

Ebn Thaher, who only wished to get out of the palace, was obliged
to comfort them, and to exhort them to have patience: but the
trusty slave again interrupted them. "Madam," said she to
Schemselnihar, "you have no time to lose; the eunuchs begin to
arrive, and you know the caliph will be here immediately." "O
Heaven! how cruel is this separation!" cried the favourite. "Make
haste," said she to the confidant, "take them both to the gallery
which looks into the garden on the one side, and to the Tigris on
the other; and when the night grows dark, let them out by the
back gate, that they may retire with safety." Having spoken thus,
she tenderly embraced the prince of Persia, without being able to
say one word more, and went to meet the caliph in such disorder
as cannot well be imagined.

In the mean time, the trusty slave conducted the prince and Ebn
Thaher to the gallery, as Schemselnihar had appointed; and left
them there, assuring them, as she closed the door upon them, that
they had nothing to fear, and that she would come for them when
it was time

When Schemselnihar's trusty slave had left the prince of Persia
and Ebn Thaher, they forgot she had assured them they had nothing
to apprehend. They examined the gallery, and were seized with
extreme fear, because they knew no means of escape, if the caliph
or any of his officers should happen to come there.

A great light, which they suddenly beheld through the lattices on
the garden side, caused them to approach them to see from whence
it came. It was occasioned by a hundred flambeaux of white wax,
carried by as many young eunuchs: these were followed by more
than a hundred others, who guarded the ladies of the caliph's
palace, clothed, and armed with cimeters, in the same manner as
those I spoke of before; and the caliph came after them, betwixt
Mesrour their captain on his right, and Vassif their second
officer on his left hand.

Schemselnihar waited for the caliph at the entrance of a walk,
accompanied by twenty women all of surprising beauty, adorned
with necklaces and ear-rings of large diamonds; they played and
sung on their instruments, and formed a charming concert. The
favourite no sooner saw the prince appear, but she advanced and
prostrated herself at his feet; and while she was doing this,
"Prince of Persia," said she, within herself, "if your sad eyes
witness what I do, judge of my hard lot; if I were humbling
myself so before you, my heart would feel no reluctance."

The caliph was delighted to see Schemselnihar: "Rise, madam,"
said he to her, "come near, I am angry with myself that I should
have deprived myself so long of the pleasure of seeing you." As
he spoke, he took her by the hand, and, with many tender
expressions, went and sat down upon the silver throne which
Schemselnihar caused to be brought for him, and she sat down on a
seat before him. The twenty women made a circle round them upon
other seats, while the young eunuchs, who carried flambeaux,
dispersed themselves at a certain distance from one another, that
the caliph might the better enjoy the cool of the evening.

When the caliph had seated himself, he looked round him, and
beheld with great satisfaction the garden illuminated with many
other lights, besides those flambeaux which the young eunuchs
held; but taking notice that the saloon was shut, expressed his
surprise, and demanded the reason. It was done on purpose to
surprise him; for he had no sooner spoken, than all the windows
flew open at once, and he saw it illuminated within and without,
in a much better manner than ever he had beheld it before.
"Charming Schemselnihar," cried he, at this sight, "I understand
you; you would have me know there are as fine nights as days.
After what I have seen, I cannot deny this."

Let us return to the prince of Persia and Ebn Thaher, whom we
left in the gallery. Ebn Thaher could not enough admire all that
he saw: "I am not young," said he, "and I have seen great
entertainments in my time; but I do not think any thing can be
seen so surprising and magnificent! All that is said of enchanted
palaces does not come up to the prodigious spectacle we now
behold. What riches and magnificence united!"

The prince of Persia was not at all interested by the objects
which so delighted Ebn Thaher; he could look on nothing but
Schemselnihar, and the presence of the caliph threw him into
inconceivable grief. "Dear Ebn Thaher," he exclaimed, "would to
God I had my mind as much at liberty to attend to those objects
of admiration as you! But alas! I am in a quite different
situation, all these things serve only to increase my torment.
Can I see the caliph familiar with the objets of my love, and not
die of grief? Must so ardent a passion as mine be disturbed with
so potent a rival? O heavens! How cruel and strange is my
destiny! It is but a moment since I esteemed myself the most
fortunate lover in the world, and at this instant I feel a death
stroke to my heart. I cannot resist it, my dear Ebn Thaher; my
patience is exhausted, my disorder overwhelms me, and my courage
fails." While he was speaking, he saw something pass in the
garden, which obliged him to be silent and to turn all his
attention that way.

The caliph had ordered one of the women, who was near him, to
play upon her lute, and she began to sing. The words she sung
were very passionate, and the caliph, persuaded that she sung
thus by order of Schemselnihar, who had frequently entertained
him with the like testimonies of her affection, interpreted them
in his own favour. But this was not now Schemselnihar's meaning;
she applied them to her dear Ali Ebn Becar, and was so sensibly
touched with grief, to have before her an object whose presence
she could no longer enjoy, that she fainted and fell backwards
upon her seat, which having no arms to support her, she must have
fallen, had not some of the women given her timely assistance,
taken her up, and carried her into the saloon.

Ebn Thaher, who was in the gallery, being surprised at this
accident, turned towards the prince of Persia; but instead of
finding him standing, and looking through the window as before,
he was extremely amazed to discover him Iying at his feet
motionless. This convinced him of the violence of the prince's
passion for Schemselnihar, and he admired that strange effect of
sympathy, which put him into a mortal fear on account of the
place they were in. He did all he could to recover the prince,
but in vain. Ebn Thaher was in this perplexity, when
Schemselnihar's confidant opened the gallery door, and entered
out of breath, as one who knew not where she was. "Come
speedily," cried she "that I may let you out; all is in confusion
here; and I fear this will be the last of our days." "Alas! how
would you have us go?" replied Ebn Thaher, with a mournful voice;
"approach, and see what a condition the prince of Persia is in."
When the slave saw him in a swoon, she ran for water, and
returned in an instant.

At last the prince of Persia, after they had thrown water on his
face, recovered. "Prince," said Ebn Thaher to him, "we run the
risk of perishing if we stay here any longer; exert yourself,
therefore, let us endeavour to save our lives." He was so feeble,
that he could not rise alone; Ebn Thaher and the confidant lent
him their hands, and supported him on each side. They reached a
little iron gate which opened towards the Tigris, went out at it,
and came to the side of a little canal which communicated with
the river. The confidant clapped her hands, and immediately a
little boat appeared, and came towards them with one rower. Ali
Ebn Becar and his comrade went aboard, and the confidant remained
at the side of the canal. As soon as the prince was seated in the
boat, he stretched out one hand towards the palace, and laying
the other on his heart, exclaimed with a feeble voice, "Dear
object of my soul, receive my faith with this hand, while I
assure you with the other, that my heart shall for ever preserve
the fire with which it burns for you."

In the mean time the boatman rowed with all his might, and
Schemselnihar's confidant accompanied the prince of Persia and
Ebn Thaher walking along the side of the canal, until they came
to the Tigris, and when she could go no farther she took leave of
them and returned.

The prince of Persia continued very feeble. Ebn Thaher comforted
him, and exhorted him to take courage. "Consider," said he, "that
when we are landed, we have a great way to walk before we reach
my house, and I would not advise you to go to your palace, which
is a great deal farther, at this hour and in this condition." At
last they went out of the boat, but the prince had so little
strength that he could not walk, which put Ebn Thaher into great
perplexity. He recollected he had a friend in the neighbourhood,
and carried the prince thither with great difficulty. His friend
received him very cheerfully, and when he had made them sit down,
he asked them where they had been so late. Ebn Thaher answered,
"I heard this evening that a man who owed me a considerable sum
of money was setting out on a long voyage. I lost no time to find
him, and by the way I met with this young nobleman, to whom I am
under a thousand obligations; for knowing my debtor, he did me
the favour to go along with me. We had a great deal of trouble to
bring the man to reason. We have at length succeeded, and that is
the cause of our being so late. In our return home, this good
lord, to whom I am for ever bound to shew all possible respect,
was attacked by a sudden illness, which made me take the liberty
to knock at your door, flattering myself that you would be
pleased to lodge us this night."

Ebn Thaher's friend took all this for truth, told them they were
welcome, and offered the prince of Persia, whom he knew not, all
the assistance he could desire; but Ebn Thaher spoke for the
prince, and said, that his distemper was of such a nature as to
require nothing but rest. His friend understood by this that they
desired to go to bed. Upon which he conducted them to an
apartment, where he left them.

Though the prince of Persia slept, he was interrupted by
troublesome dreams, which represented Schemselnihar in a swoon at
the caliph's feet, and increased his affliction. Ebn Thaher was
very impatient to be at home, and doubted not but his family was
under great apprehension, because he never used to sleep out. He
arose and departed early in the morning, after he had taken leave
of his friend, who rose at break of day to prayers At last he
reached his house, and the first thing the prince of Persia did,
who had walked so far with much trouble, was to lie down upon a
sofa, as weary as if he had been a long journey. Not being in a
state to go to his own palace, Ebn Thaher ordered a chamber to be
prepared for him, and sent to acquaint his friends with his
condition, and where he was. In the mean time he begged him to
compose himself, to command in his house, and to dispose of all
things as he pleased. "I thank you heartily for your obliging
offers," said the prince; "but that I may not be any ways
troublesome to you, I conjure you to deal with me as if I were
not at your house. I would not stay one moment, if I thought my
presence would incommode you in the least."

As soon as Ebn Thaher had time to recollect himself, he told his
family all that had passed at Schemselnihar's palace, and
concluded by thanking God, who had delivered him from the danger
he had been in. The prince of Persia's principal domestics came
to receive his orders at Ebn Thaher's house, and in a little time
there arrived several of his friends, who had notice of his
indisposition. Those friends passed the greatest part of the day
with him; and though their conversation could not extinguish
those melancholy ideas which were the cause of his trouble, yet
it afforded him some relief. He would have taken his leave of Ebn
Thaher towards the evening; but this faithful friend found him
still so weak, that he obliged him to stay till next day, and in
the mean time, to divert him, gave a concert of vocal and
instrumental music in the evening; but this concert served only
to remind him of the preceding night, and renewed his trouble,
instead of assuaging it; so that next day his distemper seemed to
increase. Upon this Ebn Thaher did not oppose his going home, but
took care to accompany him; and when he was with him alone in his
chamber, he represented to him all those arguments which might
influence him to a generous effort to overcome his passion, which
in the end would neither prove fortunate to himself nor to the
favourite. "Ah! dear Ebn Thaher," exclaimed the prince, "how easy
is it for you to give this advice, but how hard for me to follow
it! I am sensible of its importance, but am not able to profit by
it. I have said already, that I shall carry to the grave the love
I bear to Schemselnihar." When Ebn Thaher saw that he could gain
nothing upon the prince, he took his leave, and would have

The prince of Persia interrupted him, and said, "Kind Ebn Thaher,
since I have declared to you that it is not in my power to follow
your wise counsels, I beg you would not charge it on me as a
crime, nor forbear to give me the usual testimonies of your
friendship. You cannot do me a greater favour than to inform me
of the destiny of my dear Schemselnihar, when you hear of her.
The uncertainty I am in concerning her fate, and the
apprehensions her fainting have occasioned in me, keep me in this
languishing condition you reproach me with." "My lord," answered
Ebn Thaher, "you have reason to hope that her fainting was not
attended with any bad consequences: her confidant will quickly
come and inform me of the issue; and as soon as I know the
particulars, I will not fail to impart them."

Ebn Thaher left the prince in this hope, and returned home, where
he expected Schemselnihar's confidant all the rest of the day,
but in vain, nor did she come on the following. His uneasiness to
know the state of the prince of Persia's health would not suffer
him to wait any longer without seeing him. He went to his palace
to exhort him to patience, and found him lying on his bed as ill
as ever, surrounded by a great many of his friends, and several
physicians, who used all their art to discover the cause of his
disorder. As soon as he saw Ebn Thaher, he looked at him with a
smile, to signify that he had two things to tell him; the one,
that he was glad to see him; the other how much the physicians,
who could not discover the cause of his illness, were out in
their reasonings.

His friends and physicians retired one after another, so that Ebn
Thaher being alone with him, approached his bed to ask him how he
had been since he had last seen him. "I must tell you," answered
the prince, "that my passion, which continually gathers new
strength, and the uncertainty of the lovely Schemselnihar's fate,
augment my disorder every moment, and cast me into such a state
as afflicts my kindred and friends, and breaks the measures of my
physicians, who do not understand it. You cannot think," he
added, "how much I suffer by seeing so many people about me, who
importune me, and whom I cannot in civility put away. Your
company alone relieves me; but I conjure you not to dissemble
with me: what news do you bring of Schemselnihar? Have you seen
her confidant? What says she to you?" Ebn Thaher answered, that
he had not seen her yet. No sooner had he communicated to the
prince of Persia this sad intelligence, than the tears came into
his eyes; he could not answer one word, his heart was so
oppressed. "Prince," added Ebn Thaher, "suffer me to tell you,
that you are too ingenious in tormenting yourself. In the name of
God, wipe away your tears: if any of your people should come in,
they would discover you by this, notwithstanding the care you
ought to take to conceal your thoughts." Whatever his judicious
adviser could say, it was not possible for the prince to refrain
from weeping. "Wise Ebn Thaher," said he, when he had recovered
his speech, "I may indeed hinder my tongue from revealing the
secrets of my heart, but I have no power over my tears, upon such
an alarming subject as Schemselnihar's danger. If that adorable
and only objets of my desires be no longer in the world, I shall
not survive her a moment." "Reject so afflicting a thought,"
replied Ebn Thaher; "Schemselnihar is yet alive, you need not
doubt it: if you have heard no news of her, it is because she
could find no opportunity to send to you, and I hope you will
hear from her to-day." To this he added several other consoling
arguments, and then withdrew.

Ebn Thaher had scarcely reached his own house, when
Schemselnihar's confidant arrived with a melancholy countenance,
which he reckoned a bad omen. He asked news of her mistress.
"Tell me yours first," said the confidant, "for I was in great
trouble to see the prince of Persia go away in that condition."
Ebn Thaher told her all that she wished to know, and when he had
done, the slave began thus: "If the prince of Persia has
suffered, and does still suffer for my mistress, she suffers no
less for him. After I departed from you, I returned to the
saloon, where I found Schemselnihar not yet recovered from her
swoon, notwithstanding all the assistance they endeavoured to
give her. The caliph was sitting near her with all the signs of
real grief. He asked all the women, and me in particular, if we
knew the cause of her disorder; but we kept all secret, and told
him we were altogether ignorant of it. In the mean time we all
wept to see her suffer so long, and forgot nothing that might any
ways relieve her. In a word, it was almost midnight before she
came to herself. The caliph, who had the patience to wait the
event, was rejoiced at her recovery, and asked Schemselnihar the
cause of her illness. As soon as she heard him speak, she
endeavoured to recover her seat; and after she had kissed his
feet, before he could hinder her, ‘Sir,' said she, ‘I have reason
to complain of heaven, that it did not allow me to expire at your
majesty's feet to testify thereby how sensible I am of your

"‘I am persuaded you love me,' replied the caliph, ‘and I command
you to preserve yourself for my sake. You have probably exceeded
in something to-day, which has occasioned this indisposition;
take care, I entreat you; abstain from it for the future. I am
glad to see you better, and advise you to stay here to-night, and
not return to your chamber, for fear the motion should affect
you.' He then commanded a little wine to be brought to strengthen
her; and taking leave of her, returned to his apartment.

"As soon as the caliph had departed, my mistress gave me a sign
to come near her. She asked me earnestly concerning you: I
assured her that you had been gone a long time, which made her
easy on that head. I took care not to speak of the prince of
Persia's fainting, lest she should fall into the same state, from
which we had so much trouble to recover her: but my precautions
were in vain, as you shall hear. ‘Prince,' exclaimed she, ‘I
henceforth renounce all pleasure as long as I am deprived of the
sight of you. If I have understood your heart right, I only
follow your example. You will not cease to weep and mourn until I
see you.' At these words, which she uttered in a manner
expressive of the violence of her passion, she fainted a second
time in my arms.

"My companions and I were a long time recovering her; at last she
came to herself; and then I said to her, ‘Madam, are you resolved
to kill yourself, and to make us also die with you? I entreat
you, in the name of the prince of Persia, who is so deeply
interested in your life, to preserve it.' ‘I am much obliged to
you,' replied she, ‘ for your care, your zeal, and your advice;
but alas! they are useless to me: you are not to flatter us with
any hopes, for we can expect no end of our torment but in the

"One of my companions would have diverted these sad thoughts by
playing on the lute, but she commanded her to be silent, and
ordered all of them to retire, except me, whom she kept all night
with her. O heavens! what a night it was! she passed it in tears
and groans, and incessantly naming the prince of Persia. She
lamented her lot, that had destined her to the caliph, whom she
could not love, and not for him whom she loved so dearly.

"Next morning, as she was not commodiously lodged in the saloon,
I helped her to her chamber, which she had no sooner reached,
than all the physicians of the palace came to see her, by order
of the caliph, who was not long before he arrived himself. The
medicines which the physicians prescribed to Schemselnihar were
ineffectual, because they were ignorant of the cause of her
malady, which was augmented by the presence of the caliph. She
got a little rest however this night, and as soon as she awoke,
she charged me to come to you, to learn some news of the prince
of Persia." "I have already informed you of his case," said Ebn
Thaher; "so return to your mistress, and assure her, that the
prince of Persia waits for some account of her with an impatience
equal to her own. Above all, exhort her to moderation, and to
overcome her feelings, for fear she should drop before the caliph
some word, which may prove fatal to us all." "As for me," replied
the confidant, "I confess I dread her transports. I have taken
the liberty to tell her my mind, and am persuaded that she will
not take it ill that I tell her this from you."

Ebn Thaher, who had but just come from the prince of Persia's
lodgings, thought it not convenient to return so soon, and
neglect his own important affairs; he therefore went not till the
evening. The prince was alone, and no better than in the morning.
"Ebn Thaher," said he to him, as soon as he saw him, "you have
doubtless many friends, but they do not know your worth, which
you discover to me by your zeal, your care, and the trouble you
give yourself to oblige me. I am confounded with all that you do
for me with so much affection, and I know not how I shall be able
to express my gratitude." "Prince," answered Ebn Thaher, "do not
speak thus, I entreat you. I am ready, not only to give one of my
eyes to save one of yours, but to sacrifice my life for you. But
this is not the present business. I come to tell you that
Schemselnihar sent her confidant to ask me about you, and at the
same time to inform me of her condition. You may assure yourself
that I said nothing but what might confirm the excess of your
passion for her mistress, and the constancy with which you love
her." Then Ebn Thaher gave him a particular account of all that
had passed betwixt the trusty slave and him. The prince listened
with all the different emotions of fear, jealousy, affection, and
compassion, which this conversation could inspire, making, upon
every thing which he heard, all the afflicting or comforting
reflections that so passionate a lover was capable of.

Their conversation continued so long that the night was far
advanced, so that the prince of Persia obliged Ebn Thaher to stay
with him. The next morning, as this trusty friend returned home,
there came a woman to him whom he knew to be Schemselnihar's
confidant, and immediately she spoke to him thus: "My mistress
salutes you, and I am come to entreat you in her name to deliver
this letter to the prince of Persia." The zealous Ebn Thaher took
the letter, and returned to the prince, accompanied by the
confidant slave.

When Ebn Thaher entered the prince of Persia's house with
Schemselnihar's confidant, he prayed her to stay, and wait for
him a moment in the ante-room. As soon as the prince saw him, he
asked earnestly what news he had to communicate? "The best you
can expect," answered Ebn Thaher: "you are as dearly beloved as
you love; Schemselnihar's confidant is in your anteroom; she has
brought you a letter from her mistress, and waits for your orders
to come in." "Let her enter," cried the prince, with a transport
of joy; and so saying, sat up to receive her.

The prince's attendants retired as soon as they saw Ebn Thaher,
and left him alone with their master. Ebn Thaher opened the door
himself, and brought in the confidant. The prince knew her, and
received her with great politeness. "My lord," said she to him,
"I am sensible of the affliction you have endured since I had the
honour to conduct you to the boat which waited to bring you back;
but I hope the letter I have brought will contribute to your
cure." So saying, she presented him the letter. He took it, and
after he had kissed it several times, opened it, and read as

Letter from Schemselnihar to the Prince of Persia.

"The person who will deliver to you this letter will give you
more correct information concerning me than I can, for I have not
been myself since I saw you. Deprived of your presence, I
endeavour to deceive myself by conversing with you by these ill-
written lines, with the same pleasure as if I had the happiness
of speaking to you in person.

"It is said that patience is a cure for all evils, but instead of
relieving it heightens my sufferings. Although your picture is
deeply engraver in my heart, my eyes desire to have the original
continually before them; and they will lose all their light, if
they be any considerable time deprived of this felicity. May I
flatter myself that yours have the same impatience to see me?
Yes, I can; their tender glances have sufficiently assured me of
this. How happy, prince, would it be for you, how happy for
Schemselnihar, if our united desires were not thwarted by
invincible obstacles; obstacles which afflict me the more
sensibly as they affect you.

"These thoughts which my fingers write, and which I express with
incredible pleasure, repeating them again and again, proceed from
the bottom of my heart, and from the incurable wound which you
have made in it; a wound which I bless a thousand times,
notwithstanding the cruel torments I endure through your absence.
I would reckon all that opposes our love nothing, were I only
allowed to see you sometimes with freedom; I should then enjoy
your company, and what could I desire more?

"Do not imagine that I say more than I think. Alas! whatever
expressions I use, I feel that I think more than I can tell you.
My eyes, which are continually watching and weeping for your
return; my afflicted heart, which desires you alone; the sighs
that escape me as often as I think on you, and that is every
moment; my imagination, which represents no other object to me
than my dear prince; the complaints that I make to heaven for the
rigour of my destiny; m a word, my grief, my distress, my
torments, which have allowed me no ease since I was deprived of
your presence, will vouch for what I write.

"Am not I unhappy to be born to dove, without hope of enjoying
the object of my passion? This afflicting thought oppresses me so
that I should die, were I not persuaded that you love me: but
this sweet comfort balances my despair, and preserves my life.
Tell me that you love me always. I will keep your letter
carefully, and read it a thousand times a-day: I shall endure my
afflictions with less impatience: I pray heaven may cease to be
angry at us, and grant us an opportunity to say that we love one
another without fear; and that we shall never cease thus to love.
Adieu. I salute Ebn Thaher, to whom we are so much obliged."

The prince of Persia was not satisfied with reading the letter
once; he thought he had perused it with too little attention, and
therefore read it again with more leisure; and while so doing,
sometimes heaved deep sighs, sometimes shed tears, and sometimes
broke out into transports of joy and tenderness as the contents
affected him. In short, he could not keep his eyes off those
characters drawn by so beloved a hand, and was beginning to read
it a third time, when Ebn Thaher observed to him that the
confidant had no time to lose, and that he ought to think of
giving an answer. "Alas!" cried the prince, "how would you have
me reply to so kind a letter! In what terms shall I express
myself in my present disturbed state! My mind is tossed with a
thousand tormenting thoughts, which are lost the moment they are
conceived, to make way for others. So long as my body is
influenced by the impressions of my mind, how shall I be able to
hold the paper, or guide a reed to write."

So saying, he took out of a little desk which was near him,
paper, a cane ready cut, and an inkhorn.

The prince of Persia, before he began to write, gave
Schemselnihar's letter to Ebn Thaher, and prayed him to hold it
open while he wrote, that by casting his eyes upon it he might
the better see what to answer. He began to write; but the tears
that fell from his eyes upon the paper obliged him several times
to stop, that they might fall the more freely. At last he
finished his letter, and giving it to Ebn Thaher, "Read it, I
pray," said he, "and do me the favour to see if the disorder of
my mind has allowed me to give a favourable answer." Ebn Thaher
took it, and read as follows:

The Prince of Persia's Answer to Schemselnihar's Letter.

"I was plunged in the deepest grief when I received your letter,
but at the sight of it I was transported with unspeakable joy.
When I beheld the characters written by your fair hand, my eyes
were enlightened by a stronger light than they lost, when yours
were suddenly closed at the feet of my rival. The words contained
in your kind epistle are so many rays which have dispelled the
darkness wherewith my soul was obscured; they shew me how much
you suffer from your love of me, and that you are not ignorant of
what I endure on your account. Thus they comfort me in my
afflictions. On the one hand they cause me to shed tears in
abundance; and on the other, inflame my heart with a fire which
supports it, and prevents my dying of grief. I have not had one
moment's rest since our cruel separation. Your letter alone gave
me some ease. I kept a mournful silence till the moment I
received it, and then recovered my speech. I was buried in
profound melancholy, but it inspired me with joy, which
immediately appeared in my eyes and countenance. But my surprise
at receiving a favour which I had not yet deserved was so great,
that I knew not how to begin to testify my thankfulness. In a
word, after having kissed it several times, as a precious pledge
of your goodness, I read it over and over, and was confounded at
the excess of my good fortune. You would have me declare that I
always love you. Ah! did I not love you so perfectly as I do, I
could not forbear adoring you, after all the marks you have given
me of an affection so uncommon: yes, I love you, my dear soul,
and shall account it my glory to burn all my days with that sweet
fire you have kindled in my heart. I will never complain of that
ardour with which I feel it consumes me: and how rigorous soever
the evils I suffer, I will bear them with fortitude, in hopes
some time or other to see you. Would to heaven it were to-day,
and that, instead of sending you my letter, I might be allowed to
come and assure you in person, that I die for you! My tears
hinder me from saying more. Adieu."

Ebn Thaher could not read these last lines without weeping. He
returned the letter to the prince of Persia, and assured him it
wanted no correction. The prince closed it, and when he had
sealed it, he desired the trusty slave to come near, and said to
her, "This is my answer to you dear mistress's letter. I conjure
you to carry it to her, and to salute her in my name." The slave
took the letter, and retired with Ebn Thaher.

After Ebn Thaher had walked some way with the slave, he left her,
and went to his house, and began to think in earnest upon the
amorous intrigue in which he found himself unhappily engaged. He
considered, that the prince of Persia and Schemselnihar,
notwithstanding their interest to conceal their correspondence,
conducted themselves with so little discretion, that it could not
be long a secret. He drew all the consequences from it, which a
man of good sense might have anticipated. "Were Schemselnihar,"
said he to himself, "a lady of common rank, I would contribute
all in my power to make her and her lover happy; but she is the
caliph's favourite, and no man can without danger attempt to
engage the affections of the objets of his choice. His anger
would fall in the first instance on Schemselnihar; it will next
cost the prince of Persia his life, and I should be involved in
his misfortune. In the mean time I have my honour, my quiet, my
family, and my property to preserve. I must, while I can,
extricate myself out of such a perilous situation."

These thoughts occupied his mind all that day. Next morning he
went to the prince of Persia, with a design of making one more
effort to induce him to conquer his passion. He represented to
him what he had before urged in vain; that it would be much
better for him to summon all his resolution, to overcome his
inclination for Schemselnihar, than to suffer himself to be
hurried away by it; and that his passion was so much the more
dangerous, as his rival was powerful. "In short, sir," added he,
"if you will hearken to me, you ought to think of nothing but to
triumph over your love; otherwise you run the risk of destroying
yourself with Schemselnihar, whose life ought to be dearer to you
than your own. I give you this advice as a friend, for which you
will some time or other thank me."

The prince heard Ebn Thaher with great impatience, but suffered
him to speak his mind, and then replied to him thus: "Ebn Thaher,
do you think I can cease to love Schemselnihar, who loves me so
tenderly? She is not afraid to expose her life for me, and would
you have me regard mine? No; whatever misfortunes befall me, I
will love Schemselnihar to my last breath."

Abn Thaher, shocked at the obstinacy of the prince of Persia,
left him hastily, and going to his own house, recalled his former
reflections, and began to think seriously what he should do. In
the mean time a jeweller, one of his intimate friends, came to
see him. The jeweller had perceived that Schemselnihar's
confidant came oftener to Ebn Thaher than usual, and that he was
constantly with the prince of Persia, whose sickness was known to
every one, though not the cause. This had awakened the jeweller's
suspicions, and finding Ebn Thaher very pensive, he presently
judged that he was perplexed with some important affair, and
fancying that he knew the cause, he asked what Schemselnihar's
confidant wanted with him? Ebn Thaher being struck with this
question, would have dissembled, and told him, that it was on
some trifling errand she came so frequently to him. "You do not
tell me the truth," said the jeweller, "and your dissimulation
only serves to prove to me that this trifle is a more important
affair than at first I thought it to be."

Ebn Thaher, perceiving that his friend pressed him so much, said
to him, "It is true, that it is an affair of the greatest
consequence. I had resolved to keep it secret, but since I know
how much you are my friend, I choose rather to make you my
confidant, than to suffer you to be under a mistake about it. I
do not bind you to secrecy, for you will easily judge by what I
am going to tell you how impossible it is to keep it unknown."
After this preamble, he told him the amour between Schemselnihar
and the prince of Persia. "You know," he continued, "in what
esteem I am at court, in the city, and with lords and ladies of
the greatest quality; what a disgrace would it be for me, should
this rash amour come to be discovered? But what do I say; should
not I and my family be completely ruined! That is what perplexes
my mind; but I have just formed my resolution: I will go
immediately and satisfy my creditors, and recover my debts, and
when I have secured my property, will retire to Bussorah, and
stay till the storm, that I foresee, is blown over. My friendship
for Schemselnihar and the prince of Persia makes me very sensible
to what dangers they are exposed. I pray heaven to convince them
of their peril, and to preserve them; but if their evil destiny
should bring their attachment to the knowledge of the caliph, I
shall, at least, be out of the reach of his resentment; for I do
not think them so wicked as to design to involve me in their
misfortunes. It would be the height of ingratitude, and a bad
reward for the service I have done them, and the good advice I
have given, particularly to the prince of Persia, who may save
both himself and his mistress from this precipice. He may as
easily leave Bagdad as I; and absence will insensibly disenage
him from a passion, which will only increase whilst he continues
in this place."

The jeweller was extremely surprised at what Ebn Thaher told him.
"What you say," said he, "is of so much importance, that I cannot
understand how Schemselnihar and the prince could have abandoned
themselves to such a violent passion. What inclination soever
they may have for one another, instead of yielding to it, they
ought to resist it, and make a better use of their reason. Is it
possible they can be insensible of the danger of their
correspondence? How deplorable is their blindness! I anticipate
all its consequences as well as yourself; but you are wise and
prudent, and I approve your resolution; as it is the only way to
deliver yourself from the fatal events which you have reason to
fear." After this conversation the jeweller rose, and took his
leave of Ebn Thaher.

Before the jeweller retired, Ebn Thaher conjured him by the
friendship betwixt them, to say nothing of what he had heard.
"Fear not," replied the jeweller, "I will keep this secret at the
peril of my life."

Two days after, the jeweller went to Ebn Thaher's shop, and
seeing it shut, he doubted not but he had executed his design;
but, to be more sure, he asked a neighbour, if he knew why it was
not opened? The neighbour answered that he knew not, unless Ebn
Thaher was gone a journey. There was no need of his enquiring
farther, and he immediately thought of the prince of Persia:
"Unhappy prince," said he to himself, "what will be your grief
when you hear this news? How will you now carry on your
correspondence with Schemselnihar? I fear you will die of
despair. I pity you, and must repair your loss of a too timid

The business that obliged him to come abroad was of no
consequence, so that he neglected it, and though he had no
knowledge of the prince of Persia, only by having sold him some
jewels, he went to his house. He addressed himself to one of his
servants, and desired him to tell his master, that he wished to
speak with him about business of very great importance. The
servant returned immediately to the jeweller, and introduced him
to the prince's chamber. He was leaning on a sofa, with his head
on a cushion. As soon as the prince saw him, he rose up to
receive and welcome him, and entreated him to sit down; asked him
if he could serve him in any thing, or if he came to tell him any
thing interesting concerning himself. "Prince," answered the
jeweller, "though I have not the honour to be particularly
acquainted with you, yet the desire of testifying my zeal has
made me take the liberty to come to your house, to impart to you
a piece of news that concerns you. I hope you will pardon my
boldness for my good intention."

After this introduction, the jeweller entered upon the matter,
and continued: "Prince, I shall have the honour to tell you, that
it is a long time since conformity of disposition, and some
business we have had together, united Ebn Thaher and myself in
strict friendship. I know you are acquainted with him, and that
he has employed himself in obliging you to his utmost. I have
learnt this from himself, for he keeps nothing secret from me,
nor I from him. I went just now to his shop, and was surprised to
find it shut. I addressed myself to one of his neighbours, to ask
the reason; he answered me, that two days ago Ebn Thaher took
leave of him, and other neighbours, offering them his service at
Bussorah, whither he is gone, said he, about an affair of great
importance. Not being satisfied with this answer, my concern for
his welfare determined me to come and ask if you knew any thing
particular concerning this his sudden departure."

At this discourse, which the jeweller accommodated to the
subject, the better to compass his design, the prince of Persia
changed colour, and looked at the jeweller in a manner which
convinced him how much he was disconcerted at the intelligence.
"I am surprised at what you inform me," said he; "a greater
misfortune could not befall me: Ah!" he continued, with tears in
his eyes, "if what you tell me be true, I am undone! Has Ebn
Thaher, who was all my comfort, in whom I put all my confidence,
left me? I cannot think of living after so cruel a blow."

The jeweller needed no more to convince him fully of the prince
of Persia's violent passion, which Ebn Thaher had told him of:
mere friendship would not make him speak so; nothing but love
could produce such lively sensations.

The prince continued some moments absorbed in melancholy
thoughts; at last he lifted up his head, and calling one of his
servants, said, "Go, to Ebn Thaher's house, and ask some of his

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