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- The Arabian Nights Entertainments Complete - 230/272 -

upon a hunting excursion at a country palace; but when intelligence was brought him of the birth of a son, he instantly returned to me, and issued orders for the city to be decorated, which was done for forty days together, out of respect to the sultan. Such was my crime, and such was thy birth."

The sultan now returned to the adventurer, and commanded him to pull off his clothes, which he did; when the sultan, disrobing himself, habited him in the royal vestments, after which he said, "Inform me whence thou judgest that I was a bastard?"

"My lord," replied the adventurer, "when each of us shewed our skill in what was demanded, you ordered him only an allowance of a mess of pottage and three cakes of bread. Hence I judged you to be the offspring of a cook, for it is the custom of princes to reward the deserving with wealth and honours, but you only gratified us with victuals from your kitchen." The sultan replied, "Thou hast spoken truly." He then made him put on the rest of the royal robes and ornaments, and seated him upon the throne; after which he disguised himself in the habit of a dervish, and wandered from his abdicated dominions. When the lucky adventurer found himself in possession of the throne, he sent for his companions; and finding they did not recognize him in his royal habiliments, dismissed them with liberal presents, but commanded them to quit his territories with the utmost expedition, lest they should discover him. After this, with a satisfied mind, he fulfilled the duties of his new station with a liberality and dignity that made the inhabitants of the metropolis and all the provinces bless him, and pray for the prolongation of his reign.

The Adventures of the Abdicated Sultan.

The abdicated prince, disguised as a dervish, did not cease travelling in a solitary mood till he came to the city of Cairo, which he perceived to be in repose and security, and well regulated. Here he amused himself with walking through several streets, till he had reached the royal palace, and was admiring its magnificent architecture and extent, and the crowds passing in and out, when the sultan with his train appeared in sight returning from a hunting excursion, upon which he retired to one side of the road. The sultan observing his dignified demeanour, commanded one of his attendants to invite him to the palace, and entertain him till he should inquire after him.

When the sultan had reposed himself from the fatigue of his exercise, he sent for the supposed dervish to his presence, and said, "From what kingdom art thou arrived?" He answered, "I am, my lord, a wandering dervish." "Well," replied the sultan, "but inform me on what account thou art come here." On which he said, "My lord, this cannot be done but in privacy." "Let it be so," rejoined the sultan; and rising up, led him into a retired apartment of the palace. The supposed dervish then related what had befallen him, the cause of his having abdicated his kingdom, and taken upon himself the character of a religious. The sultan was astonished at his self-denial, and exclaimed, "Blessed be his holy name, who exalteth and humbleth whom he will by his almighty power; but my history is more surprising than thine. I will relate it to thee, and conceal nothing."

History of Mahummud, Sultan of Cairo.

At my first outset in the world I was an indigent man, and possessed none of the conveniences of life, till at length I became possessed of ten pieces of silver, which I resolved to expend in amusing myself. With this intention, I one day walked into the principal market, intending first to purchase somewhat delicate to feast upon. While I was looking about me, a man passed by, with a great crowd following and laughing at him, for he led in an iron chain a monstrous baboon, which he cried for sale at the price of ten pieces of silver. Something instinctively impelled me to purchase the creature, so I paid him the money, and took my bargain to my lodging; but on my arrival, was at a loss how to procure a meal for myself or the baboon. While I was considering what I should do, the baboon having made several springs, became suddenly transformed into a handsome young man, beautiful as the moon at the fourteenth night of its appearance, and addressed me, saying, "Shekh Mahummud, thou hast purchased me for ten pieces of silver, being all thou hadst, and art now thinking how thou canst procure food for me and thyself." "That is true," replied I; "but in the name of Allah, from whence dost thou come?" "Ask no questions," replied my companion, "but take this piece of gold, and purchase us somewhat to eat and drink." I took the gold, did as he had desired, and we spent the evening merrily together in feasting and conversation, till it was time to repose.

In the morning the young man said, "My friend, this lodging is not fitting for us; go, and hire a better." "To hear is to obey," replied I, and departed to the principal serai, where I hired an upper apartment, to which we removed. He then gave me ten deenars, with orders to purchase carpets and cushions, which I did, and on my return found before him a package, containing princely vestments. These he gave to me, desiring that I would go to the bath, and, after bathing, put them on. I obeyed his commands, dressed myself, and found in each pocket a hundred deenars. I was not a little proud of my improved appearance in the rich robes. On my return, he praised my figure, and seated me by him, when we refreshed ourselves, and chatted on various subjefls. At length he gave me a bundle, desiring that I would present it to the sultan, and at the same time demand his daughter in marriage for myself, assuring me that my request would meet a ready compliance.

The young man commanded a slave he had bought to attend me, who carried the bundle, and I set out for the palace; near which I found a great crowd of grandees, officers, and guards, who seeing me so richly habited, inquired respectfully what I wanted. Upon my replying that my business was with the sultan, they informed the ushers, who introduced me to the presence. I made the customary obeisance, and the sultan returned my salute; after which I presented the bundle before him, saying, "Will my lord accept this trifle, becoming my humble situation to offer, but certainly not worthy the royal dignity to receive?" The sultan commanded the package to be opened; when, lo! it contained a complete dress of royal apparel, richer than had ever been before seen, at which the sultan was astonished, and exclaimed, "Heavens! I have nothing like this, nor ever possessed so magnificent a suit; it shall be accepted: but inform me, Shekh, what thou requirest in return for so valuable an offering." "Mighty sovereign," replied I, "my wish is to become thy relation by espousing that precious gem of the casket of beauty, thy incomparable daughter."

When the sultan had heard this request, he turned towards his vizier and said, "Advise me how I should act in this affair." Upon which the minister replied, "Shew him, my lord, your most valuable diamond, and inquire if he has any one equally precious to match it as a marriage present for your daughter." The sultan did so; when I said, "If I present two, will you give me your daughter?" To which he assented, and I took my leave, carrying with me the diamond, to shew the young man as a model. Upon my arrival at our serai, I informed him of what passed, when he examined the diamond, and said, "The day is now far spent, but tomorrow I will procure ten like it, which thou shalt present to the sultan." Accordingly in the morning he walked out, and in the space of an hour returned with ten diamonds, which he gave me, and I hastened with them to the sultan. When he beheld the precious stones he was enraptured at their brilliancy, and again consulted his vizier how he should act in this business. "My lord," replied the minister, "you only required one diamond of the Shekh, and he has presented you with ten: it is therefore incumbent upon you to give him your daughter."

The sultan now sent for the cauzees and effendis, who drew up the deed of espousals, which they gave me, when I returned to our serai, and shewed it to the young man, who said, "It is well; go and complete thy marriage; but I entreat that thou wilt not consummate thy nuptials till I shall give thee permission." "To hear is to obey," replied I. When it was night I entered the princess's apartment, but sat down at a distance from her, and did not speak till morning, when I bade her farewell, and took my leave for the day. I observed the same conduct the second night and the third, upon which, offended at my coldness, she complained to her mother, who informed the sultan of my affronting behaviour.

The sultan sent for me to his presence, and with much anger threatened, if I should continue my coldness to the princess another evening, that he would put me to death. Upon this I hastened to inform my friend at the serai, who commanded, that when I should next be alone with my wife I should demand of her a bracelet which she wore upon her right arm, and bring it to him, after which I might consummate my nuptials. I replied, "To hear is to obey;" and the next evening, when I entered the apartment, said to my wife, "If thou desirest that we should live happily together, give me the bracelet on thy right arm." She did so immediately, when I carried it to the young man, and, returning to the palace, slept, as I supposed, with the princess till morning. Guess, however, what was my surprise, when on awaking I found myself lying in my first humble lodging, stripped of my rich vestments, and saw on the ground my former mean attire; namely, an old vest, a pair of tattered drawers, and a ragged turban, as full of holes as a sieve. When I had somewhat recovered my senses, I put them on and walked out in a melancholy mood, regretting my lost happiness, and not knowing what I should do to recover it. As I strolled towards the palace, I beheld sitting in the street a fortune-teller, who had some written papers before him, and was casting omens for the bystanders. I advanced, and made him a salute, which he returned kindly; and after looking attentively in my face, exclaimed, "What! has that accursed wretch betrayed thee, and torn thee from thy wife?" I replied, "Yes." Upon this he desired me to wait a little, and seated me by him. When his employers were departed, he said, "My friend, the ape which you purchased for ten pieces of silver, and who soon after was transformed into a young man, is not of human race, but a genie deeply in love with the princess whom you married. However, he could not approach her while she wore the

The Arabian Nights Entertainments Complete - 230/272

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