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- The Arabian Nights Entertainments Volume 1 - 110/114 -
before it is quite day. Leave it to me; I will do it. Amgrad would not agree to that, saying that he would carry it away himself, since he had done the deed. Bahader replied, You are a stranger in this city, and will not come off so well as one who is acquainted here: I must do it, if for no other reason than both our safeties, to prevent our being questioned for her death. Stay you here; and if I do not come back before day, you may be sure the watch has taken me: and, for fear of the worst, I will by a writing give you this house and furniture for your habitation while you stay in this city.
When he had written, signed, and delivered the paper to prince Amgrad, he put the lady's body and head in a bag, took it on his shoulder, and went out with it from one street to another, taking the way to the sea-side; but he had not gone far before he was met by one of the judges of the city, going the rounds in person, as was usual for the chief magistrates to do there. Bahader was stopped by the judge's followers, who, opening the bag, found the body of a murdered lady, bundled up with the head. The judge, who knew the master of the horse notwithstanding his disguise, took him home to his house; and, not daring to put him to death without telling the king, because of his quality, he conveyed him to court as soon as it was day. As soon as the king had heard from the judge what a foul action the master of the horse had been guilty of, as appeared by the circumstances of the matter, he upbraided him in these words: Is it thus, then, that you rob and murder my subjects, and then would throw their dead bodies into the sea to hide your villany? Let us rid the world of such a monster; go hang him up immediately!
Innocent as Bahader was, he received his sentence of death with perfect resignation, and said not a word to justify himself. The judge escorted him to his house; and, while the gallows was preparing, sent a crier to publish throughout the city, that at noon the master of the horse was to be hanged for committing a murder.
Prince Amgrad, who had in vain expected Bahader's return, was in a terrible consternation when he heard the crier publish the approaching execution of the master of the horse. If, said he to himself, somebody must die for the death of such a wicked woman, it is I, and not Bahader; I will never let an innocent man be punished for the guilty: and, without deliberating any more, hastened to the place of execution, whither the people were running from all parts.
When Amgrad saw the judge bringing Bahader to the gibbet, he went up to him, and said, I am come to tell you, and to assure you, that the master of the horse, whom you are leading to execution, is wholly innocent of the lady's death: I am guilty of the crime, if it is one to have killed the most detestable of women, who would have murdered Bahader. So he told him the affair as it had happened.
The prince having informed the judge how he met her coming out of the bath; how she was the cause of going into the master of the horse's house of pleasure, and what had passed till the moment in which he was forced to cut off her head to save Bahader's life; the judge ordered the execution to be stopped, and conducted Amgrad to the king, taking the master of the horse with them.
The king had a mind to hear the story from Amgrad himself; and the prince, the better to prove his own and the master of the horse's innocence, embraced that opportunity to discover his quality, with all the accidents that had befallen him and his brother Assad, before and after their departure from the capital city of the isle of Ehene to that time.
The prince having done speaking, the king said, I rejoice that I have by this means come to the knowledge of you. I not only give you your own and my master of the horse's life, whom I commend for his civility to you, but I restore him to his office: and as for you, prince, I declare you my grand vizier, to make amends for your father's unjust usage of you, though it is also excusable; and I permit you to employ all the authority I now give you to find out prince Assad.
Prince Amgrad having thanked the king of the city and country of magicians for the honour he had done him, and taken possession of his office of grand vizier, ordered the common crier to promise a great reward to any one who should bring forth prince Assad, or tell any tidings of him. He sent men up and down the country to the same purpose; but, notwithstanding all his and their diligence, they could hear nothing.
THE SEQUEL OF THE STORY OF PRINCE ASSAD.
Assad, in the mean while, continued in the dungeon in chains; Bostava and Cavama, the cunning old conjurer's daughters, treating him daily with the same cruelty and inhumanity as at first.
The solemn festival of the adorers of fire approached, and a ship was fitted out for the Fiery Mountain as usual. The captain's name was Behram, a great bigot to that religion. He loaded it with proper merchandise; and, when it was ready to sail, he put Assad in a chest, half full of goods, a few crevices being left open to admit air sufficient to keep him alive. The chest was stowed in the bottom of the hold for greater security.
Before the ship sailed, the grand vizier Amgrad, Assad's brother, who had been told that the adorers of fire usually sacrificed a Mussulman every year on the Fiery Mountain, suspecting that Assad might unhappily have fallen into their hands, and designed as a victim at that bloody sacrifice, resolved to search the ship in person. He ordered all the passengers and seamen to be brought upon deck, and commanded his men to search every part of the ship; which they did; and yet Assad could not be found, being too artfully concealed.
When the grand vizier had done searching the vessel, she sailed; and as soon as Behram was got out to sea, he ordered prince Assad to be taken out of the chest and fettered, to prevent him from throwing himself into the sea, since he knew he was going to be sacrificed. The wind was favourable for two or three days; after which it proved contrary, and there arose a furious storm, which drove the vessel so far out of her course, that neither Behram nor his pilot knew where they were. They were afraid that the ship would be dashed against the rocks; for they discovered land and a dreadful shore before them. Behram saw that he was driven into the port and capital of queen Margiana, which was a great mortification to him.
Queen Margiana was a very devout professor of the Mahomedan religion, and a mortal enemy to the adorers of fire. She banished all of them out of her dominions, and would not let any of their ships touch at her ports.
The tempest increasing, Behram was forced to put into the port of the queen's capital city, or his ship would be dashed in pieces against the rocks that lay off the shore. In this extremity he held a council with his pilot and seamen. My lads, said he, you see to what a necessity we are reduced; we must choose one of two things; either resolve to be swallowed up by the waves, or put into queen Margiana's port, whose hatred to all persons of our religion you know well. She will certainly seize our vessel, and put us to death without mercy. I see but one likely way to escape her; which is, to take the fetters off the Mussulman we have on board, and dress him like a slave. When queen Margiana commands me to come before her, and asks what trade I use, I will tell her that I deal in slaves: that I have sold all except one, whom I keep to be my clerk, because he can read and write. She will no doubt desire to see him, and being handsome, and of her own religion, will have pity on him; she will certainly then ask to buy him; and I refusing, will not let us stay in the port till the weather is fair. If I sell him, perhaps she will give us leave to tarry, and let us be well used.
If any of you have any thing else to propose that may be more advantageous, I am ready to hearken to it.
The pilot and seamen applauded his judgment, and agreed to follow his advice.
Behram commanded prince Assad's chains to be taken off, and dressed him like a slave very neatly, as became one who was to pass for his clerk before the queen of the country. They had scarcely time to fit every thing for their purpose, before the ship drove into the port, and then dropped anchor.
Queen Margiana's palace was so near the sea-side, that her garden extended down to the shore. She saw the ship sail by, and sent to the captain to come to her as soon as he had moored his vessel. She was walking in her garden, and gave him to understand that she waited for him.
Behram, who knew he would be sent for, landed with prince Assad, whom he required to confirm what he had said of his being a slave, and his clerk. So he went to the palace garden, and was introduced to the queen. He threw himself at her feet, and informed her of the necessity he was under of putting into her port; that, he dealt in slaves, and had sold them all except one, who was Assad there present, whom he kept for his clerk.
The queen conceived an esteem for Assad as soon as she saw him, and was extremely glad to hear that he was a slave, resolving to buy him on any terms. She asked Assad what was his name.
Great queen, replied Assad, with tears in his eyes, does your majesty ask what my name was formerly, or what it is now? The queen answered, have you two names then? It is but too true, said Assad: I was once called Assad, The Most Happy; and now my name is Motar, Devoted to be Sacrificed.
As his condition of a slave obliged him to use mysterious answers, Margiana did not understand his meaning; she perceived, however, that he had a great deal of wit. Since you are clerk to the captain, said she, no doubt you can write well; let me see your writing.
Behram had furnished Assad with pen, ink, and paper, as a token of his office, that the queen might take him for what he designed she should.
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