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- The Arabian Nights Entertainments Complete - 260/272 -


swifter than the eagle soon alighted on the table-land of the mountain; when Mazin, feeling himself on the ground, ripped the stitches of his dangerous enclosure, and the roc being alarmed, uttered a loud scream and flew away. Mazin now arose, and walked upon the surface of the mountain, which he found covered with black dust; but he beheld also the skeletons of the young men whom the accursed Bharam, after they had served his purpose, had left to perish. His blood became chilled with horror at the view, as he apprehended the same unhappy fate: he however filled his bag with the black powder, and advanced to the edge of a precipice, from which he beheld the magician eagerly looking upwards to discover him. Mazin called out; and when the hypocrite saw him, he began dancing and capering for joy, at the same time exclaiming, "Welcome, welcome, my son! my best friend, beloved child! all our dangers are now over, throw me down the bag." "I will not," said Mazin," but will give it thee when thou hast conveyed me safely from this perilous summit." "That is not in my power," answered Bharam, "till I shall have the bag: cast it down, and I swear by the fire which I worship immediately to procure thee a safe descent. "Mazin, relying on his oath, and seeing no other chance of escape, cast down the bag; which having taken up, the accursed sorcerer mounted his camel and was departing. The unhappy Mazin in agony called after him, saying, "Surely thou wilt not forfeit thy oath, nor leave me to perish!" "Perish thou must, Mussulmaun dog!" exclaimed the treacherous magician, "that my secret may be kept, nor can thy boasted prophet save thee from destruction; for around thee are mountains impassable, and below a fathomless sea. I have obtained what I wished, and leave thee to thy fate." Having said thus he speeded onwards, and was soon out of sight.

Mazin was now in an agony of despair, not a ray of hope comforted his mind; he beat his bosom, threw himself on the ground amid the mouldering skeletons of the former victims to the treachery of the magician, and lay for some time in a state of insensibility. At length the calls of hunger and thirst forced him back to a sense of wretched existence; and the love of life, however miserable, made him have recourse to his water and his loaves. Being somewhat revived, religion came to his aid, and he began to pray for resignation to submit to the decrees of Heaven, however painful. He then walked to the edge of the mountain overhanging the sea, which he observed to wash the base of the rock without any beach, at sight of which a desperate chance of escape struck his mind: this was, to throw himself from the precipice into the ocean, in hopes, should he survive the fall and rise to the surface, he might reach land. He commended himself to God, shut his eyes, held in his breath, and giving a desperate spring, plunged headlong into the dreadful abyss, which providentially received him unhurt, and a friendly wave drove him on shore; where, however, he remained some minutes in a lifeless stupor, owing to the rapidity of his descent from the brain-sickening precipice.

When his senses returned Mazin looked wildly around him, at first scarcely able to bear the light from the recollection of the dizzy eminence from which he had plunged; and an uneasy interval elapsed before he could persuade himself that the certainty of death was past. Convinced at length of this, he prostrated himself to the earth, and exclaimed, "In God alone is our refuge and support! I thought I should have perished, but his providence has sustained me." He then wept exceedingly, entreated forgiveness of his offences, read several passages from the Koran, which he had preserved in his vestband, repeated the whole of his rosary, and besought the intercession of the prophet for his deliverance from future dangers. After this he walked onwards till evening, the fruits of the forest his food, his drink the water of the streams, and his resting place the green turf. Such was his progress, that after three days he reached the spot under the mountain where he had been taken up by the roc in the camel's skin. He now recognized the road he had come; and after measuring back his steps for nine days, beheld on the last the superb palace, concerning which he had inquired of the magician, who had informed him it was inhabited by evil genii, his most bitter enemies.

For some time Mazin hesitated whether he should advance to the gates of the palace; but considering that no greater calamity could happen to him than he had already endured, he contemned danger, and boldly advanced to a grand lodge built of white marble exquisitely polished. He entered, and beheld on one of the raised platforms which skirted the passage into the court two beautiful damsels playing at the game of chess; one of whom on beholding him exclaimed, "Surely, sister, this is the young man who passed this way about a month ago with Bharam the magician?" "I am he!" exclaimed Mazin, at the same time throwing himself at her feet, "and entreat your hospitable protection." The lady, raising him from the ground, said, "Stranger, you resemble so much a once beloved brother, that I feel inclined to adopt thee as such, if my sister will also agree to do so." The other lady readily assented. They then embraced Mazin, seated him between them, and requested to be informed of his adventures, of which he gave them a true narration.

When Mazin had concluded his story, the ladies expressed compassion for his misfortunes, and the strongest resentment against the accursed magician, whom they vowed to punish by a tormenting death for having had the insolence to accuse them of being evil genii. They then proceeded to acquaint him with the cause of their residence in this secluded palace, saying, "Brother, for as such we shall henceforward regard you, our father is a most potent sultan of a race of good genii, who were converted by Solomon, the son of David, to the true faith; we are seven daughters by the same mother; but for some cause which we do not know the sultan our father, being fearful of our becoming connected with mankind, has placed us in this solitary spot. This palace was erected by genii for our accommodation; the meadows and forests around it are delightful, and we often amuse ourselves with field sports, there being plenty of every sort of game, as you must have observed. When we want horses or camels we have only to beat a small magical drum, and they instantly attend our call, ready caparisoned. Our five sisters are at present at the chase, but will soon return. Set thy heart at rest, forget thy misfortunes, which are now at an end, and thou shall live with us in ease and pleasure."

The five sisters soon returned, and Mazin's adventures being recounted to them they also adopted him as their brother; and he continued with these ladies, who strove to divert him all in their power by repeated rounds of amusements: one day they hunted, another hawked, another fished, and their indoor pleasures were varied and delightful; so that Mazin soon recovered his health, and was happy to the extent of his wishes. A year had elapsed, when Mazin one day riding out for his amusement to the enamelled dome supported on four golden columns, perceived under it the accursed magician, and with him a youth, whom, like himself, he had inveigled into his snares, and devoted also to destruction. The rage of Mazin was kindled at the sight; he drew his sabre, and rushing unperceived behind the sorcerer, who was in the act of flaying a camel for the purposes already described, seized him by his hair, and exclaimed, "Wretch! the judgment of Heaven at length hath overtaken thee, and soon shall thy impure soul be plunged into that fire thou hast blasphemously adored." The magician struggled, but in vain. He then implored for mercy and forgiveness; but Mazin, convinced by experience that he deserved none, struck off his head at one blow. Then informing the intended viftim, who stood near gazing with astonishment, of the wicked arts of the accursed Bharam, and of his own narrow escape from almost certain destruction, he advised the young man to remount his camel, and return to the spot where he had disembarked from the vessel, which would safely convey him back to his own country. The youth, having thanked him for his deliverance, took his leave; and Mazin returned to the palace, carrying with him the head of the magician as a trophy of his victory. He was highly applauded for his prowess by the sisters, who rejoiced in the destruction of so cruel an enemy to mankind.

Many days had not elapsed after this event, when one morning Mazin and the sisters sitting together in a gallery of the palace, observed a thick cloud of dust rising from the desert and approaching towards them. As it came nearer they perceived through it a troop of horsemen; upon which the sisters, desiring Mazin to retire into an inner chamber, went to the gateway to inquire who the strangers might be. They were servants of the genie sultan, father to the ladies, and sent by him to conduct them to his presence, in order to attend the nuptials of a near relation. Upon this summons the sisters prepared for the journey, and at the end of three days departed, assuring Mazin that they would return in a month. At taking leave they gave him the keys of every apartment in the palace, telling him that he might open every door except one, which to enter might be attended with unpleasant consequences, and therefore had better be avoided. Mazin promised to observe their caution; and for many days was so well amused in examining the magnificent rooms and curiosities of the palace, that he did not feel a wish to transgress till the forbidden door alone remained unopened. Having then nothing to divert him, he could not resist the impulse of curiosity, but unlocked the door, which opened on a marble staircase by which he ascended to the terraced roof of the palace, from whence a most delightful prospect feasted his sight. On one side his eye was arrested by an extensive garden, in the centre of which, under shady trees, was a basin of clear water, lined with gems of every colour and description. He resolved to visit this enchanting object; and descending the staircase, explored his way through a long arcade, which led him at length into the garden, in which he diverted himself with the scenery it afforded for some time. He then retired to an alcove on the margin of the basin, and sat down; but had not rested many moments, when to his astonishment he beheld descending from the sky a company of beautiful damsels, whose robes of light green silk floating in the air seemed their only support. Alarmed at such a preternatural appearance, he retired to the end of the alcove, from whence he watched their motions. They alighted on the brink of the water, and having thrown off their robes, stood to the enraptured view of Mazin in native loveliness. Never had he beheld such enchanting beauty; but one even more exquisitely charming than the rest attracted his gaze, and from the instant fixed the affections of his heart. They now plunged into the basin, where for some time they amused themselves by swimming, every now and then playfully dashing the water over themselves and at each other. When satiated with frolic they came out of the water, sat for some time on the verdant margin, then dressed themselves, and adjusting their robes to the air, soared aloft, and were soon far from the sight of the enamoured Mazin, who followed them till his eyes could stretch no farther; then despairing of ever again beholding the object of his affections, he fainted on the grass, and it was some time before he recovered his senses. He returned melancholy to the palace, and spent the night in reposeless agitation.

The following morning the seven sisters returned; and she who had first welcomed him to their abode, and had ever since retained


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