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- The Arabian Nights Entertainments Complete - 270/272 -


The husband and wife were highly diverted with the cauze's story, and after another dance permitted him to depart, and get home as well as he could in his ridiculous habit. How he got there, and what excuse he was able to make for so unmagisterial an appearance, we are not informed; but strange whispers went about the city, and the cauzee's dance became the favourite one or the strolling drolls, whom he had often the mortification of seeing taking him off as he passed to and from the tribunal, and not unfrequently in causes of adultery the evidences and culprits would laugh in his face. He, however, never again suffered Satan to tempt him, and was scarcely able to look at a strange woman, so great was his fear of being led astray.

When the cauzee was gone, the lady, repairing to the apartment, brought out the grave tax-collector, whom her husband addressed by name, saying, "Venerable sir, how long have you turned droll? can you favour me with a dance?" The tax-collector made no reply, but began capering, nor was he permitted to stop till quite tired. He was then allowed to sit, some refreshment was given him, and when revived he was desired to tell a story: knowing resistance vain, he complied. After having finished he was dismissed, and the other gallants were brought in and treated in a like manner.

STORY OF THE MERCHANT, HIS DAUGHTER, AND THE PRINCE OF EERAUK.

A certain rich merchant was constantly repining, because Providence had not added to his numerous blessings that of a child to inherit his vast wealth. This want destroyed the power of affluence to make him happy, and he importuned heaven with unceasing prayers. At length one evening, just as he had concluded his devotions, he heard a voice, saying, "Thy request has been heard, and thou wilt have a daughter, but she will give thee much uneasiness in her fourteenth year by an amour with the prince of Eerauk, and remember there is no avoiding the decrees of fate."

The merchant's wife that same night conceived, and at the usual time brought forth a daughter, who grew up an exquisite beauty. No pains were spared in her education, so that at thirteen she became most accomplished, and the fame of her charms and perfections was spread throughout the city. The merchant enjoyed the graces of his child, but at the same time his heart was heavy with anxiety for her fate, whenever he called to mind the prediction concerning her; so that at length he determined to consult a celebrated dervish, his friend, on the possible means of averting the fulfilment of the prophecy. The dervish gave him but little hopes of being able to counteract the will of heaven, but advised him to carry the beautiful maiden to a sequestered mansion, situated among unfrequented mountains surrounding it on all sides, and the only entrance to which was by a dark cavern hewn out of the solid rock, which might be safely guarded by a few faithful domestics. "Here," said the dervish, "your daughter may pass the predicted year, and if any human care can avail she may be thus saved from the threatened dishonour; but it is in vain for man to fight against the arms of heaven, therefore prepare thy mind for resignation to its decrees."

The merchant followed the advice of his friend, and having made the necessary preparations, accompanied by him, and attended by some white and black slaves of both sexes, arrived, after a month's journey, with his daughter, at the desired mansion; in which having placed her, he, after a day's repose, took his departure homewards with the dervish. Ample stores of all necessaries for her accommodation had been laid in, and slaves male and female were left for her attendance and protection. Not many days, had elapsed when an incident occurred, clearly proving the emptiness of human caution against the predestination of fate. The prince of Eerauk being upon a hunting excursion outrode his attendants, and missing his way, reached the gate of the cavern leading to the mansion, which was guarded by two black slaves, who seeing a stranger, cried out to him to withdraw. He stopped his horse, and in a supplicating tone requested protection and refreshment for the night, as he had wandered from the road, and was almost exhausted from weariness and want of food. The slaves were moved by the representation of his distress, as well as awed by his noble appearance, and apprehending no danger from a single person, conducted him through the cavern, into the beautiful valley, in which stood the mansion. They then informed their mistress of his arrival, who commanded him to be introduced into an apartment, in which an elegant entertainment was provided, where she gave him the most hospitable reception. To become known to each other was to love; nor was it long ere the prediction respecting the merchant's daughter proved fully verified. Some months passed in mutual happiness; when the prince, becoming anxious to return to his friends, took leave of his mistress, promising when he had seen his family to visit her again, and make her his wife.

On his way he met the merchant, who was coming to see his daughter. Halting at the same spot they fell into conversation, in which each inquired after the other's situation, and the prince, little aware to whom he was speaking, related his late adventure. The merchant, convinced that all his caution had been vain, concealed his uneasiness, resolved to take his daughter home, make the best of what had happened, and never again to struggle against fate. On his arrival at the cavern he found his daughter unwell; and before they reached their own abode she was delivered of a male infant, who, to save her credit, was left exposed in a small tent with a sum of money laid under its pillow, in hopes that the first passenger would take the child under his care. It so happened, that a caravan passing by, the leader of it, on examining the tent and seeing the infant, took it up, and having no children adopted it as his own. The prince of Eerauk having seen his parents, again repaired to visit his beautiful mistress, and on his journey to the cavern once more met the merchant, who, at his daughter's request, was travelling towards Eerauk to acquaint him with her situation. The prince, overjoyed, accompanied the merchant home, married the young lady, and with her parents returned to his dominions. Their exposed son, after long inquiry, was discovered, and liberal rewards bestowed on the leader of the caravan, who at his own request was permitted to reside in the palace of Eerauk, and superintend the education of his adopted son.

ADVENTURES OF THE CAUZEE, HIS WIFE, &c.

In the capital of Bagdad there was formerly a cauzee, who filled the seat of justice with the purest integrity, and who by his example in private life gave force to the strictness of his public decrees. After some years spent in this honourable post, he became anxious to make the pilgrimage to Mecca; and having obtained permission of the caliph, departed on his pious journey, leaving his wife, a beautiful woman, under the protection of his brother, who promised to respect her as his daughter. The cauzee, however, had not long left home, when the brother, instigated by passion, made love to his sister-in-law, which she rejected with scorn; being, however, unwilling to expose so near a relative to her husband, she endeavoured to divert him from his purpose by argument on the heinousness of his intended crime, but in vain. The abominable wretch, instead of repenting, a gain and again offered his love, and at last threatened, if she would not accept his love, to accuse her of adultery, and bring upon her the punishment of the law. This threat having no effect, the atrocious villain suborned evidences to swear that they had seen her in the act of infidelity, and she was sentenced to receive one hundred strokes with a knotted whip, and be banished from the city. Having endured this disgraceful punishment, the unhappy lady was led through Bagdad by the public executioner, amid the taunts and scorns of the populace; after which she was thrust oat of the gates and left to shift for herself. Relying on Providence, and without complaining of its decrees, she resolved to travel to Mecca, in hopes of meeting her husband, and clearing her defamed character to him, whose opinion alone she valued. When advanced some days on her journey she entered a city, and perceived a great crowd of people following the executioner, who led a young man by a rope tied about his neck. Inquiring the crime of the culprit, she was informed that he owed a hundred deenars, which being unable to pay, he was sentenced to be hung, such being the punishment of insolvent debtors in that city. The cauzee's wife, moved with compassion, immediately tendered the sum, being nearly all she had, when the young man was released, and falling upon his knees before her, vowed to dedicate his life to her service. She related to him her intention of making the pilgrimage to Mecca, upon which the young man requested to accompany and protect her, to which she consented. They set out on their journey; but had not proceeded many days, when the youth forgot his obligations, and giving way to impulse, insulted his benefactress by offering her his love. The unfortunate lady reasoned with him on the ingratitude of his conduct, and the youth seemed to be convinced and repentant, but revenge rankled in his heart. Some days after this they reached the sea-shore, where the young man perceiving a ship, made a signal to speak with it, and the master letting down his boat sent it to land; upon which the young man going on board the vessel, informed the master that he had for sale a handsome female slave, for whom he asked a thousand deenars. The master, who had been used to purchase slaves upon that coast, went on shore, and looking at the cauzee's wife, paid the money to the wicked young man, who went his way, and the lady was carried on board the ship, supposing that her companion had taken the opportunity of easing her fatigue, by procuring her a passage to some sea-port near Mecca: but her persecution was not to end here. In the evening she was insulted by attentions of the master of the vessel, who being surprised at her coolness, informed her that he had purchased her as his slave for a thousand deenars. The unfortunate lady told him that she was a free woman, but this had no effect on the brutish sailor, who finding tenderness ineffectual proceeded to force and blows in order to reduce her to submit to his authority. Her strength was almost exhausted, when suddenly the ship struck upon a rock, the master was hurried upon deck, and in a few moments the vessel went to pieces. Providentially the virtuous wife laying hold of a plank was wafted to the shore, after being for several hours buffeted by the waves. Having recovered her senses she walked inland, and found a pleasant country abounding in fruits and clear streams,


The Arabian Nights Entertainments Complete - 270/272

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