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- The Arabian Nights Entertainments Complete - 10/272 -
asleep, be pleased to awake; for I once more repeat, that the physician Douban left his native country, and came to settle himself at your court, for the sole purpose of executing the horrible design which I have intimated."
"No, no, vizier," interrupted the king; "I am certain, that this physician, whom you suspect to be a villain and a traitor, is one of the best and most virtuous of men. You know by what medicine, or rather by what miracle, he cured me of my leprosy: If he had had a design upon my life, why did he save me then? He needed only to have left me to my disease; I could not have escaped it, as life was fast decaying. Forbear then to fill me with unjust suspicions: instead of listening to you, I tell you, that from this day forward I will give that great man a pension of a thousand pieces of gold per month for his life; nay, though I were to share with him all my riches and dominions, I should never pay him sufficiently for what he has done. I perceive it to be his virtue that raises your envy; but do not think I will be unjustly prejudiced against him. I remember too well what a vizier said to king Sinbad, his master, to prevent his putting to death the prince his son."
What the Grecian king said about king Sinbad raised the vizier's curiosity, who said, "I pray your majesty to pardon me, if I have the boldness to ask what the vizier of king Sinbad said to his master to divert him from putting the prince his son to death." The Grecian king had the condescension to satisfy him: "That vizier," said he, "after having represented to king Sinbad, that he ought to beware, lest on the accusation of a mother-in-law he should commit an action of which he might afterwards repent, told him this story."
The Story of the Husband and the Parrot.
A certain man had a beautiful wife, whom he loved so dearly, that he could scarcely allow her to be out of his sight. One day, some urgent affairs obliging him to go from home, he went to a place where all sorts of birds were sold, and bought a parrot, which not only spoke well, but could also give an account of every thing that was done in its presence. He brought it in a cage to his house, desired his wife to put it in his chamber, and take care of it during his absence, and then departed.
On his return, he questioned the parrot concerning what had passed while he was from home, and the bird told him such things as gave him occasion to upbraid his wife. She concluded some of her slaves had betrayed her, but all of them swore they had been faithful, and agreed that the parrot must have been the tell- tale.
Upon this, the wife began to devise how she might remove her husband's jealousy, and at the same time revenge herself on the parrot. Her husband being gone another journey, she commanded a slave in the night-time to turn a hand-mill under the parrot's cage; she ordered another to sprinkle water, in resemblance of rain, over the cage; and a third to move a looking-glass, backward and forward against a candle, before the parrot. The slaves spent a great part of the night in doing what their mistress desired them, and acquitted themselves with much skill.
Next night the husband returned, and examined the parrot again about what had passed during his absence. The bird answered, "Good master, the lightning, thunder, and rain so much disturbed me all night, that I cannot tell how much I suffered." The husband, who knew that there had been neither thunder, lightning, nor rain in the night, fancied that the parrot, not having spoken truth in this, might also have lied in the other relation; upon which he took it out of the cage, and threw it with so much force to the ground that he killed it. Yet afterwards he understood from his neigbours, that the poor parrot had not deceived him in what it had stated of his wife's base conduct, made him repent that he had killed it.
When the Grecian king had finished the story of the parrot, he added, "And you, vizier, because of the hatred you bear to the physician Douban, who never did you any injury, you would have me cut him off; but I will beware lest I should repent as the husband did after killing his parrot."
The mischievous vizier was too desirous of effecting the ruin of the physician Douban to stop here. "Sir," said he, "the death of the parrot was but a trifle, and I believe his master did not mourn for him long: but why should your fear of wronging an innocent man, hinder your putting this physician to death? Is it not sufficient justification that he is accused of a design against your life? When the business in question is to secure the life of a king, bare suspicion ought to pass for certainty; and it is better to sacrifice the innocent than to spare the guilty. But, Sir, this is not a doubtful case; the physician Douban has certainly a mind to assassinate you. It is not envy which makes me his enemy; it is only my zeal, with the concern I have for preserving your majesty's life, that makes me give you my advice in a matter of this importance. If the accusation be false, I deserve to be punished in the same manner as a vizier formerly was." "What had the vizier done," demands the Grecian king, "to deserve punishment?" "I will inform your majesty," said the vizier, "if you will be pleased to hear me."
The Story of the Vizier that was Punished.
There was a king who had a son that loved hunting. He allowed him to pursue that diversion often; but gave orders to his grand vizier always to attend him.
One hunting day, the huntsman having roused a deer, the prince, who thought the vizier followed him, pursued the game so far, and with so much earnestness, that he separated himself from the company. Perceiving he had lost his way he stopped, and endeavoured to return to the vizier; but not knowing the country he wandered farther.
Whilst he was thus riding about, he met on his way a handsome lady, who wept bitterly. He stopped his horse, and enquired who she was, how she came to be alone in that place, and what she wanted. "I am," replied she, "the daughter of an Indian king. As I was taking the air on horseback, in the country, I grew sleepy, and fell from my horse, who is run away, and I know not what is become of him." The young prince taking compassion on her, requested her to get up behind him, which she willingly did.
As they were passing by the ruins of a house, the lady expressed a desire to alight. The prince stopped, and having put her down, dismounted himself, and went near the building, leading his horse after him. But you may judge how much he was surprised, when he heard the pretended lady utter these words: "Be glad, my children, I bring you a young man for your repast;" and other voices, which answered immediately, "Where is he, for we are very hungry?"
The prince heard enough to convince him of his danger. He perceived that the lady, who called herself the daughter of an Indian king, was one of those savage demons, called Gholes, who live in desolated places, and employ a thousand wiles to surprise passengers, whom they afterwards devour. The prince instantly remounted his horse, and luckily escaped.
The pretended princess appeared that very moment, and perceiving she had missed her prey, exclaimed, "Fear nothing, prince: Who are you? Whom do you seek?" "I have lost my way," replied he, "and am endeavouring to find it." "If you have lost your way," said she, "recommend yourself to God, he will deliver you out of your perplexity."
After the counterfeit Indian princess had bidden the young prince recommend himself to God, he could not believe she spoke sincerely, but thought herself sure of him; and therefore lifting up his hands to heaven, said, "Almighty Lord, cast shine eyes upon me, and deliver me from this enemy." After this prayer, the ghole entered the ruins again, and the prince rode off with all possible haste. He happily found his way, and arrived safe at the court of his father, to whom he gave a particular account of the danger he had been in through the vizier's neglect: upon which the king, being incensed against that minister, ordered him to be immediately strangled.
"Sir," continued the Grecian king's vizier, "to return to the physician Douban, if you do not take care, the confidence you put in him will be fatal to you; I am very well assured that he is a spy sent by your enemies to attempt your majesty's life. He has cured you, you will say: but alas! who can assure you of that? He has perhaps cured you only in appearance, and not radically; who knows but the medicine he has given you, may in time have pernicious effects?"
The Grecian king was not able to discover the wicked design of his vizier, nor had he firmness enough to persist in his first opinion. This discourse staggered him: "Vizier," said he, "thou art in the right; he may be come on purpose to take away my life, which he may easily do by the smell of his drugs."
When the vizier found the king in such a temper as he wished, "Sir," said he, "the surest and speediest method you can take to secure your life, is to send immediately for the physician Douban, and order his head to be struck off." "In truth," said the king, "I believe that is the way we must take to frustrate his design." When he had spoken thus, he called for one of his officers, and ordered him to go for the physician; who, knowing nothing of the king's purpose, came to the palace in haste.
"Knowest thou," said the king, when he saw him, "why I sent for thee?" "No, Sir," answered he; "I wait till your majesty be pleased to inform me." "I sent for thee," replied the king, "to rid myself of thee, by taking away thy life."
No man can express the surprise of the physician, when he heard the sentence of death pronounced against him. "Sir," said he, "why would your majesty take my life? What crime have I committed?" "I am informed," replied the king, "that you came to my court only to attempt my life; but to prevent you, I will be sure of yours. Give the blow," said he to the executioner, who
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