Part 12 out of 12
The prince stepped a little aside, and wrote as follows, suitable
to his miserable circumstances.
The blind man avoids the ditch into which the clear-sighted
falls. Fools advance themselves to honours by discourses which
signify nothing; while men of sense and eloquence live in poverty
and contempt. The Mussulman, with all his riches, is miserable.
The infidel triumphs, and we cannot hope things will be
otherwise; the Almighty has decreed it should be so, and his will
is not to be altered.
Assad presented the paper to queen Margiana, who admired alike
the sententiousness of the thoughts, and the goodness of the
writing. She needed no more to have her heart set on fire, and to
feel a sincere concern for his misfortunes. She had no sooner
read it, than she addressed herself to Behram, saying, Do which
you will; either sell me this slave, or make a present of him to
me: perhaps it will turn most to your account to do the latter.
Behram answered insolently, that he could neither give nor sell
him; that he wanted his slave, and would keep him.
Queen Margiana, provoked at his boldness, would not talk to him
about it any more. She took the prince by the arm, and turned him
before her into the palace; sending Behram word, that if he staid
a night in her port, she would confiscate his goods, and burn his
ship. So he was forced to go back to his vessel, and prepare to
put to sea again, notwithstanding the tempest was not yet
Queen Margiana commanded supper to be got ready; and, while it
was providing, she ordered Assad to be brought into her
apartment, where she bade him sit down. Assad would have excused
himself: It does not belong to a slave, said he, to presume to
To a slave! replied the queen; you shall not be so long:
henceforward you are no more a slave. Sit down near me, and tell
the story of your life; for, by what you wrote, and the insolence
of that slave merchant, I guess there is something extraordinary
Prince Assad obeyed her; and, sitting down, began thus: Mighty
queen, your majesty is not mistaken in thinking there is
something extraordinary in the story of my life; it is indeed
more so than you can imagine. The ills, the incredible torments,
I have suffered, and the death to which I was devoted, and from
which I am delivered by your generosity, will show, when I have
related them, that my obligation to you is infinite. But, before
I enter into the particulars of my miseries, which will strike
horror into the hearts of all who hear them related, to explain
the occasion of them, I must trace the matter a little higher,
and begin with the source of my misfortunes.
This preamble increased queen Margiana's curiosity.
The prince then told her of his royal birth; of his brother
Amgrad, and their mutual friendship; of their mother's criminal
passion, which in a night turned into inveterate hatred, the
cause of all their sufferings; of the king's rage; how
miraculously they saved their lives; how he lost his brother; how
he had been imprisoned, tortured, and was only sent there to be
sacrificed on the Fiery Mountain.
When Assad had finished his discourse, the queen was more than
ever enraged at the adorers of fire. Prince, said she, though I
have always had an aversion to the adorers of fire, yet hitherto
I have preserved some humanity for them; but, after their
barbarous usage, and execrable design of sacrificing you, I will
henceforth declare perpetual war against them.
She would have said more, but supper being served up, hindered
her. She made prince Assad sit at table with her, being charmed
with his beauty and eloquence, and touched with a most ardent
passion, which she hoped soon to let him know. Prince, said she,
we must make you amends for so many fasts and wretched meals
which the pitiless adorers of fire forced you to make; you will
want to be nourished after such sufferings. With these and such
like words supper began; and the queen plied the prince with wine
to recover his spirits; of which he drank more than he could well
The cloth being taken away, Assad wishing to go out, watched his
time when the queen did not see him. He descended into a court,
and, seeing the garden-door open, went in. Being tempted by the
pleasantness of the place, he walked there a while. At last he
came to a fountain, where he washed his face and hands to refresh
himself; and, lying down on some grass plots which surrounded the
fountain, fell asleep.
It was almost night, and Behram, fearing the queen would do as
she threatened, had weighed anchor, and was under sail, mightily
troubled at the loss of Assad, by which he was disappointed of a
most acceptable sacrifice. He comforted himself as well as he
could with the thoughts that the storm was over, and that a
land-breeze favoured his getting off from that coast. He was
towed out of the port, and, as he was hoisting more sail to
hasten his course, he remembered he wanted some fresh water. My
lads, said he to the seamen, we must put to shore again, and fill
our water-casks. The sailors excused themselves, for they did not
know where to get water. Behram had observed, while he was
talking to the queen in the garden, that there was a fountain at
the end of it, near the port. Go, said he, to such a place of the
palace-garden. The wall is not above breast high; you may easily
get over. There is a fountain, where you may fill all your
barrels, and hand them on board without difficulty.
The sailors accordingly went on shore to the place he directed
them, leaped over the wall, filled their barrels, and easily
enough heaved them over also, when they returned to their boat.
As they were filling the casks, they perceived a man sleeping on
the grass, and knew him to be Assad. They immediately divided
themselves; and, while some of the crew filled their barrels,
others surrounded Assad, and observed him, lest he should awake,
and offer to run away.
As soon as they had filled their casks, they handed them over the
wall to others of their crew, who waited there to carry them on
They afterwards seized Assad, and bore him away asleep as he was.
They got over the wall into their boat, and rowed to the ship.
When they came near her, they cried out, Captain, sound your
trumpets, beat your drums; we bring your slave again!
Behram, who could not imagine how the seamen could find and take
him again, and did not see Assad in the boat, it being night,
waited their coming on board with impatience, to ask what they
meant by their shouts; but seeing it was true, and that they had
really got him, he could not contain himself for joy. He
commanded him to be chained again, not staying to inquire how
they came at him; and having hauled the boat on board, set sail
for the Fiery Mountain.
In the mean while queen Margiana was in a dreadful fright. She
did not much concern herself at first when she found prince Assad
was gone out, because she did not doubt that he would soon
return. When several minutes, and then an hour, were past,
without hearing any thing, she began to be uneasy, and commanded
her women to look for him. They searched all about without
finding him; and, night coming, she ordered them to search again
with torches, which they did, but to as little purpose.
Queen Margiana was so impatient and frightened, that she went
with lights all over the garden to seek him herself; and passing
by the fountain, saw a slipper, which she took up, and knew to be
prince Assad's: her women also said that it was his; and the
water being spilled about the cistern in which the fountain
played, made her suspect that Behram had again carried him off.
She sent immediately to see if he was still in the port; and
hearing that he had set sail a little before it was dark, and had
stopped some time off the shore, while he sent his boat for water
from the fountain, she doubted no longer of the prince's ill
fortune. So she commanded the commodore of ten men of war, who
lay ready in the port to sail as occasion required, to prepare to
put to sea, for that she would embark herself next morning as
soon as it was day. The commodore ordered the captains and
subalterns, seamen and soldiers, on board, and was ready to sail
at the time appointed. She embarked, as she had said; and, when
the squadron was at sea, told the commodore her intention. Make
all the sail you can, said she, and give chase to the merchantman
that sailed yesterday out of this port: I give it to you to be
plundered, if you take it; if not, your life shall answer it.
The ten ships chased Behram's two entire days, and could not come
near her; but on the third day they got up with her, and
encompassed her so that she could not escape.
As soon as cruel Behram saw the ten men of war, he did not doubt
but it was queen Margiana's squadron in pursuit of him; and upon
that ordered Assad to be bastinadoed, which he did every day, and
had not once missed treating him go barbarously since he left the
port of the city of the magicians. On sight of these ships, he
treated him more cruelly than before. He was very much puzzled
what to do when he found he was encompassed. To keep Assad was to
declare himself guilty; to kill him was as dangerous, for he
feared some token of it might be seen; he therefore commanded him
to be unfettered, and brought from the bottom of the hold where
he lay. When he came before him, It is thou, said he, who art the
cause of my being pursued; and upon that he flung him in the sea.
Prince Assad, knowing how to swim, got safe to shore. The first
thing he did, after landing, was to thank Heaven, who had
delivered him from so great a danger, and once more rescued him
out of the hands of the adorers of fire. He then stripped
himself, and wringing the water out of his clothes, he spread
them on a rock, where, by the heat of the sun and the rock
together, they soon dried; after which, he lay down to rest,
deploring his miserable condition, not knowing in what country he
was, nor where to turn himself. He refreshed himself as well as
he could with wild fruits and fair water, and then went on his
way, keeping as near the sea-side as he could. At last he came to
a sort of path, which he followed, and travelled ten days through
a country not inhabited, still living on herbs, plants, and
fruits. On the eleventh he approached near a city, which be knew
to be that of the magicians, where he had been so ill used, and
where his brother Amgrad was grand vizier. He was very glad of
it, resolving not to come near anyone of the adorers of fire, but
only to converse with Mussulmen; for he remembered having seen
some the first time he entered the town. It being late, and
seeing the shops were already shut, and few people in the
streets, he resolved to stay in a churchyard near the city, where
several tombs were built in the form of mausoleums. Finding the
door of one open, he entered it, with an intention to pass the
We must now return to Behram's ship, which was soon surrounded on
all sides by queen Margiana's squadron, after throwing prince
Assad overboard. Queen Margiana's ship, in which she was in
person, first boarded; and Behram, being in no condition of
defence against so many, lowered his sails as a token of
The queen herself came on board him, and demanded where the clerk
was whom he had the boldness to take away from her out of her
very palace. Behram replied, 0 queen, I swear before your
majesty, that he is not in my ship; you will, by searching it,
see my innocence.
Margiana ordered the ship to be searched as narrowly as possible;
but she could not find the man whom she so passionately longed to
recover, as well out of love to him, as out of that generosity
which was her distinguishing character. She was going to kill
Behram with her own hand, which she, however, did not; contenting
herself with seizing his ship and cargo, and turning him and his
men on shore.
Behram and his seamen arrived at the city of the magicians the
same night that Assad did, and stopped at the same church yard,
the city gates being shut, intending to stay in some tomb till
next day, when they were opened again.
As Assad's ill luck would have it, Bahram lighted upon that in
which the prince was sleeping, with his head wrapped up in his
coat. Assad awoke at the noise he made, and asked, Who's there?
Behram knew him again presently. Hah, hah, said he, thou art the
man who hast been my ruin for ever; thou hast escaped being
sacrificed this year; but, depend upon it, thou shalt not escape
the next. Saying this, he flew upon him, clapped his handkerchief
in his mouth, to prevent his making noise, and by the help of his
seamen bound him.
Next morning, as soon as the city sates were open, Behram and his
men easily carried Assad to the old man's house where he had been
so inhumanly treated. It was so early that they met nobody in the
streets; and when he came to the old man's house, he was again
thrown into the dungeon. Behram acquainted the wizard with the
sad occasion of his return, and the ill success of his voyage.
The old rascal, upon this, commanded his two furies, Bostava and
Cavama, to treat him, if possible, more cruelly than before.
Assad was in a terrible surprise to find himself in the hands of
his old persecutors, from whom he had suffered so much, and hoped
that he had been delivered; he lamented the rigour of his
destiny, and trembled when he saw Bostava enter with a cudgel, a
loaf, and a pitcher of water; he was almost dead at the sight of
that unmerciful wretch, and the thoughts of the daily sufferings
he was to endure for another year, when he was to die the most
horrible of deaths.
Bostava dealt not so inhumanly by Prince Assad as she had done
the first time of his confinement; his cries, complaints, and
most earnest prayers to her to spare him, joined with his tears,
were so moving, that she could not help being melted by them, and
to weep as bitterly as himself. My lord, said she, covering his
shoulders, which were always bare while he was under the
bastinado, I ask a thousand pardons for my inhuman treatment of
you formerly, and for what you feel at this time. Till now I was
afraid of disobeying a father who is unjustly enraged against
you, and resolved on your destruction; but at last I loathe and
abhor this barbarity. Be comforted; your bad days are over; I
will endeavour to make amends for all my crimes, of the enormity
of which, by my future behaviour, you will find I am convinced.
You have hitherto looked upon me as an infidel; but having been
converted by a slave who is a Mussulman, you must henceforth
believe me one of your own religion. I hope your lessons will
finish my conversion. To show my good intentions, I first beg
pardon of Heaven for my sins in using you so cruelly; and I trust
that it will soon be in my power to set you entirely a liberty.
The prince was transported to hear her talk at this rate; he
thanked the Almighty for the change wrought upon her, and for
touching the heart of so barbarous a creature; he also thanked
her for her good disposition towards him, and omitted no
arguments which he thought would have any effect to confirm her
in her new religion. As a proof of the confidence he reposed in
her, he gave her an account of his high birth, together with a
relation of all his adventures to that period. When he began to
believe she was in earnest, he asked how she could hinder her
sister Cavama's treating him so barbarously as she used to do.
Let not that trouble you, replied Bostava; I know how to order
matters so that she shall never come near you.
According to promise, she every day prevented Cavama going down
to the dungeon, where she often visited the prince; and, instead
of carrying bread and water, she brought him the best wine, and
the choicest victuals she could get, which were provided by her
Mahometan slave. She often ate and drank with him herself, and
did her utmost to render his confinement as easy as possible.
A few days after, as Bostava was standing at her father's door,
she heard the common crier making proclamation, but, was at too
great a distance to hear distinctly what it was. Having finished
his harangue, he came nearer to repeat it again, when she drew
back; and, as she stood holding the door half open, perceived the
crier marching before the grand vizier Amgrad, brother to Assad,
who was accompanied by several officers, with attendants walking
before and behind him.
The crier, going a few steps from the house, repeated the
proclamation with a loud voice as follows:
The most excellent and illustrious lord the grand vizier is come
in person to seek for his dear brother, from whom he was
separated about a year ago; he is young and handsomely made. If
any person has him in keeping, or knows where he is, his
excellency commands that they bring him forth, or give notice
where he shall find him, promising a great reward to the person
who shall do so. If any one conceal him, and be found out, his
excellency declares that he or they shall be punished with death,
together with his or their children, and all who belong to the
family, and his or their house or houses razed to the ground.
Bostava had no sooner heard this, than she instantly shut the
door, and ran as fast as she could to the dungeon to inform Assad
of it. Prince, said she with joy, your troubles are at an end!
Follow me; come immediately, and be free! She having taken off
his fetters several days before, the prince followed her into the
street, where, quite transported with what she had done, she
cried, There! there!
The grand vizier, who was not far from the house, hearing her
clamours, returned. Assad, knowing him to be his brother, ran to
him, and embraced him; which Amgrad, who presently found it to be
his brother Assad, returned with all possible tenderness; and,
making him mount one of his officer's horses, who alighted for
that purpose, conducted him to the palace, where he presented him
to the king, by whom he was advanced to the post of a vizier.
Bostava would not return to her father's house, which was next
day razed to the ground, but kept prince Assad in sight; and she,
for the friendly part she had acted towards him, was admitted
into the queen's service.
The old man her father, and Behram, were brought before the king,
who condemned them and all their families to be beheaded. They
threw themselves at his feet, and implored his mercy. There is no
mercy to expect, said the king, unless you renounce your adoring
of fire, and profess the Mahometan religion.
They accepted the conditions, and were pardoned at the
intercession of Assad, in consideration of Bostava's friendship;
for whose sake Cavama's life, and the lives of the rest of their
families, were saved.
Amgrad, to reward Behram for turning Mussulman, and recompense
him for his losses, made him one of his officers, and lodged him
in his house. Behram, being informed of Amgrad and his brother
Assad's stories, proposed to his benefactor to fit him a vessel
to convey them to their father king Camaralzaman's court; for,
said he, the king must certainly have heard of your innocence,
and impatiently desire to see you ere this; otherwise we can
easily inform ourselves of the truth before we land; and if he is
still in the same mind, you can return hither.
The two brothers liking the proposal, communicated it to the king
of the city of the magicians, who approved of it, and commanded a
ship to be equipped for that purpose, Behram undertook the
employment cheerfully; and, being master of the art of navigation
and maritime affairs, he soon got in readiness to sail. The two
princes, when they understood that the ship was ready, waited
upon the king one morning to take their leave of him. While they
were reciprocally passing compliments on the occasion, they were
interrupted by a great noise and tumult in the city; and
presently an officer came to give them notice that a numerous
army was advancing against the city, nobody knowing who they
were, or from whence they came.
The king being mightily alarmed at the news, Amgrad addressed
himself thus to him: Sir, though I am come to resign into your
majesty's hands the dignity of your first minister, with which
you were pleased to honour me, I am, however, ready to do you all
the service that lies in my power: I desire, therefore, that you
would be pleased to let me go and see who this enemy is that
comes to attack you in your capital city, without having first
The king praying him to do so, Amgrad, with a very small retinue,
parted from him immediately, to see what enemy approached, and to
know the reason of their coming.
It was not long before prince Amgrad descried the army, which
approaching nearer and nearer, the foremost received him
favourably, and conducted him to their princess, who stopped
herself, and commanded the army to halt, while she discoursed
with the prince, who, bowing profoundly to her, demanded if she
came as a friend or an enemy; if as an enemy, what cause of
complaint she had against the king his master.
I come as a friend, replied the princess, and have nothing to
complain against the king of the city of the magicians; his
territories and mine are so situate, that it is almost impossible
for our subjects to quarrel with one another, or we ourselves to
have any dispute. I only come to require a slave, named Assad, to
be delivered up to me: he was carried away by one Behram, a
captain of a ship, the most insolent man in the world. I hope
your king will do me justice, especially when he knows that I am
The prince answered, Mighty queen! the slave you take so much
pains to seek is my brother; I lost him, and have found him
again. Come, madam, I will deliver him up to you myself, and will
do myself the honour to tell you the rest of the story as we go
to the king my master's palace, who will rejoice to see you.
The queen ordered her army to pitch their tents, and encamp where
they were; she then accompanied prince Amgrad to the city and
palace-royal, where he presented her to the king, who received
her as became his dignity and hers. Assad, who was present, and
knew her as soon as he saw her, also paid his duty to her; and
she, at sight of him, showed all the marks of transporting joy.
While thus busied, news came that an army, more powerful than the
former, was approaching on another side of the city.
The king of the magicians, understanding that the second army was
more numerous than the first, was frightened to a greater degree
than before; for the dust they made raised clouds in the air
which almost obscured the face of heaven. Amgrad, cried he, what
shall we do? A new army comes to destroy us! Amgrad, guessing
what the king would have of him, instantly mounted his horse
again, and gallopped towards the second army. He demanded of the
advanced guards to speak with their general; they conducted him
to their king, for such he perceived him to be by the crown he
had on his head. When he drew near, he threw himself on the
ground, and asked what he would have with the king his master.
The monarch replied, I am Gaiour, king of China. My desire to
learn some tidings of a daughter whose name is Badoura, whom I
married to Camaralzaman, you of Schahzaman, king of the isles of
the Children of Khaledan, obliged me to leave my dominions. I
suffered that prince to go to see his father king Schahzaman, on
condition that he came back in a year with my daughter, but have
impatiently waited ever since without hearing any thing of them.
Your king will lay an infinite obligation on an afflicted father,
by telling him if he knows what is become of them.
Prince Amgrad, perceiving by his discourse that the king was his
grandfather, kissed his hand with tenderness, and answered him
thus: I hope your majesty will pardon my freedom, when you know
that I take it only to pay my duty to my grandfather! I am the
son of Camaralzaman, king of the isle of Ebene, and of queen
Badoura, for whom you are thus troubled; and I doubt not that
they are both in good health in their kingdom.
The king of China, overjoyed to see his grandson, embraced him
with extraordinary affection. Such a meeting, so happy and
unexpected, drew tears from both. The king inquiring on what
occasion he came into a strange country, the prince told him all
that had happened to him and his brother Assad. When he had ended
his relation, My son, replied the king of China, it is not just
that such innocent princes as you are should be longer ill used.
Comfort yourself; I will carry you and your brother home, and
make your peace. Return, and acquaint your brother with my
While the king of China encamped in the place where prince Amgrad
met him, that prince returned to let the king of the magicians,
who waited for him impatiently, know how he had succeeded.
The king was amazed that so mighty a monarch as the king of China
should undertake such a long and troublesome journey from a
desire to see his daughter; and, seeing that he was so near his
capital, he gave orders to make things ready for his reception,
and went forth to meet him.
While these things were transacting, a great dust was seen from
another quarter of the town, and suddenly news came of the
arrival of a third army, which obliged the king to stop, and to
desire prince Amgrad once more to go and see who they were, and
on what account they came.
Amgrad accordingly went, accompanied by prince Assad. They found
it was Camaralzaman their father's army, with which he was coming
to seek for them. He was so grieved for the loss of his sons,
that emir Giendar at last declared how he had saved their lives,
and towards what country the two princes had travelled.
The sad father embraced both with tears of joy, which put an end
to those he had a long time shed for grief. The princes no sooner
told him that the king of China, his father-in-law, was arrived,
than he detached himself from the grand army, and with a small
party, among whom were his own sons, rode to wait upon him in his
camp. They had not gone far before they saw a fourth army
advancing, which seemed to come from the Persian side.
Camaralzaman bade the two princes go and see what army it was,
and in the mean while he would stay for them. They departed
immediately, and, coming up to it, were presented, to the king,
of whom, after saluting him with due reverence, they demanded on
what design he approached so near the king of the magicians'
capital. The grand vizier, who was present, answered, in the name
of the king his master, The monarch to whom you speak is
Schahzaman, king of the isles of the Children of Khaledan. He has
a long time travelled, thus attended, to seek his son prince
Camaralzaman, who left his dominions many years ago. If you know
any thing of him, you cannot oblige him more than to acquaint him
The princes only replied, that they would bring him an answer in
a little time; and, gallopping back as fast as they could, told
Camaralzaman that it was king Schahzaman's army, and that his
father was with it in person.
Wonder, surprise, joy, and grief, at having left the king his
father without taking leave of him, had such an effect on king
Camaralzaman, that he fell into a swoon as soon as he heard that
he was so near. Prince Amgrad and prince Assad used every
possible means to recover him; which having at last effected, he
hastened to his father's tent, and threw himself at his feet.
Never was there a more moving interview: Schahzaman gently
complained of Camaralzaman's unkindness in so cruelly leaving
him; and Camaralzaman discovered a heart-felt sorrow for the
fault he had committed.
The three kings and queen Margiana staid three days at the court
of the king of the magicians, who treated them magnificently.
These three days were rendered the more remarkable by prince
Assad's marriage with queen Margiana, and prince Amgrad's with
Bostava, for the service she had done his brother Assad. At last
the three kings, and queen Margiana, with prince Assad her
husband, went to their several kingdoms. As for Amgrad, the king
of the magicians had such a love for him, that he would not part
with him, but, being very old, resigned his crown to him. King
Amgrad, wben he had the supreme authority, did his utmost to
exterminate the worship of fire, and to establish the Mahometan
religion throughout all his territories.
THE STORY OF NOUREDDIN AND THE FAIR
Balsora was many years the capital of a kingdom tributary to the
caliphs of Arabia. The king who governed it in the days of the
caliph Haroun Alraschid, was named Zinchi. They were cousins, the
sons of two brothers. Zinchi, not thinking it proper to commit
the administration of his affairs to one vizier, made choice of
two, Khacan and Saouy.
Khacan was of a sweet, generous, affable temper, and took a
wonderful pride in obliging those, with whom he had any concern,
to the utmost of his power, without the least hinderance or
prejudice to justice, whenever it was demanded of him; so that he
was universally respected at court, in the city, and throughout
the whole kingdom; and every body's mouth was full of the praises
he so highly deserved.
Saouy was of a quite different character: he was always sullen
and morose, and treated every one in a disrespectful manner,
without any regard to rank or quality. Instead of making himself
beloved and admired for his riches, he was so perfect a miser,
that he denied himself the necessaries of life. In short, nobody
could endure him; and if ever any thing was said to him, it was
something of ill. But what increased the hatred of the people
against him the more, was his implacable aversion to Khacan;
always interpreting in the worst sense the actions of that worthy
minister, and endeavouring to do him all the ill offices
imaginable with the king.
One day, after council, the king of Balsora diverted himself with
his two viziers, and some other members of the council. They fell
into discourse about the women-slaves, who with us are daily
bought and sold, and are almost reckoned in the same rank with
our wives. Some were of opinion, that it was sufficient the slave
were beautiful and well-shaped; others maintained, and amongst
the rest Khacan, that neither beauty, nor a thousand other
charming perfections of the body, were the only things to be
coveted in a mistress; but that she ought to possess, with a
great deal of wit, prudence, modesty, and amenity of manners.
The king was entirely of their opinion who spoke last, and
quickly gave a demonstration of it, by ordering Khacan to buy him
a slave, one that was a perfect beauty, mistress of those
qualifications they had just mentioned, and especially very
Saouy, jealous of the honour the king had done Khacan, and vexed
at his being of a contrary opinion, said, Sir, it will be very
difficult to find a slave so accomplished as to answer your
majesty's demand; and should they light upon such a one, as I
scarcely believe they will, she will be a bargain at ten thousand
pieces of gold. Saouy, replied the king, I perceive plainly you
think it too great a sum; it may be so for you, though not for
me. Then turning to the chief treasurer, he ordered him to send
the ten thousand pieces of gold to the vizier's house.
Khacan, as soon as he came home, sent for all the courtiers who
dealt in women-slaves, and strictly charged them, that if they
met with a slave who answered the description he gave, they
should acquaint him. The courtiers, partly to oblige the vizier,
and partly for their own interest, promised to use their utmost
endeavours to find one to his liking. Accordingly, seldom a day
passed but they brought him one, yet he always found some fault
or other with her.
One day, as Khacan was getting on horseback, early in the
morning, to go to court, a courtier came to him, and, with a
great deal of eagerness, catching hold of the stirrup, told him
there was a Persian merchant arrived very late the day before,
who had a slave to sell, so surprisingly beautiful, that she
excelled all women that his eyes had ever beheld; and, as for
parts and learning, added he, the merchant engages she shall cope
with the finest wits and the most knowing persons of the age.
Khacan, overjoyed at this news, which made him hope for a
favourable reception at court, ordered him to bring the slave to
the palace against his coming back, and so pursued his journey.
The courtier did not fail to be at the vizier's at the appointed
hour; and Khacan, finding the lovely slave so much beyond his
expectation, immediately gave her the name of the Fair Persian.
As he had an infinite deal of wit and learning, he soon
perceived, by her conversation, that it was in vain to search any
further for a slave that surpassed her in any of those
qualifications required by the king, and therefore he asked the
courtier at what rate the Persian merchant valued her.
Sir, replied the courtier, he is a man of few words in
bargaining, and tells me, that the very lowest price he seeks for
her is ten thousand pieces of gold: he has also sworn to me,
that, without reckoning his pains and trouble from the time of
his first taking care of her, he has laid out pretty nearly that
sum upon her education, in masters to instruct and teach her,
besides clothes and maintenance; and as he always thought her fit
for a king, so from her infancy, in which he bought her, he has
not been sparing in any thing that might contribute towards
advancing her to that high honour. She plays upon all sorts of
instruments to perfection; she dances, sings, writes better than
the most celebrated authors, understands poetry, and, in short,
there are few books but what she has read: so that there never
was a slave of so great capacity.
The vizier Khacan, who understood the merit of the fair Persian
better than the courtier, who only reported what he had heard
from the merchant, was unwilling to put off the bargain till
another time; and therefore he sent one of his servants to look
after the merchant where the courtier told him he was to be
found. As soon as the Persian merchant came, It is not for
myself, but for the king, said the vizier Khacan, that I buy your
slave; you must, however, let him have her at a more reasonable
price than what you have already set upon her.
Sir, replied the merchant, I should do myself an unspeakable
honour in offering her as a present to his majesty, were I able
to make him one of so inestimable a value. I ask little more than
what her education and maintenance have cost me; and all I have
to say is, that I believe his majesty will be greatly pleased
with the purchase.
The vizier Khacan would stand no longer bargaining with the
merchant, but paid down the money immediately. Sir, said he to
the vizier, upon taking his leave, since the slave is designed
for the king's use, give me leave to tell you, that, being
extremely fatigued with our long journey, you see her at a great
disadvantage; and though, as to beauty, she has not her equal in
the world, yet if you please to keep her at your own house a
fortnight, and strive a little to please and humour her, she will
appear quite another creature: after that you may present her to
the king with abundance of honour and credit, for which, I doubt
not, you will think yourself much obliged to me. The sun, you
see, has a little tarnished her complexion; but, after two or
three times bathing and dressing her according to the fashion of
your country, she will appear to your eyes infinitely more
charming than at present.
Khacan was mightily pleased with the advice the merchant gave,
and was resolved to follow it. Accordingly the fair Persian was
lodged in a particular apartment near his lady, whom he desired
to invite to an entertainment, and thenceforth to treat her as a
mistress designed for the king: he also entreated his lady to get
the richest clothes for her that could possibly be had, and
especially those that became her best. Before he took his leave
of the fair Persian, Your happiness, madam, said he, cannot be
greater than what I am about to procure for you, since it is for
the king himself I have bought you; and I hope he will be better
pleased with the enjoyment of you than I am in discharging the
trust his majesty has laid upon me: however, I think it my duty
to warn you of my son, who, though he has a tolerable share of
wit, yet is a young, wanton, forward youth; and therefore have a
care how you suffer him to come near you. The fair Persian
thanked him for his good advice; and, on her giving him an
assurance of her intention to follow it, he withdrew.
End of Volume First.