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- The Arabian Nights Entertainments Volume 1 - 3/114 -


passed betwixt the blacks and ladies. It is sufficient to say, that Schahzenan saw enough to convince him that his brother had as much cause to complain as himself. This amorous company continued together till midnight and having bathed all together in a great pond, which was one of the chief ornaments of the garden, they dressed themselves, and re-entered the palace, by the secret door, all except Masoud, who climbed up his tree, and got over the garden-wall the same way as he came.

All this having passed in the king of Tartary's sight, it gave him occasion to make a multitude of reflections. How little reason had I, says he, to think that no one was so unfortunate as myself? It is certainly the unavoidable fate of all husbands, since the sultan, my brother, who is sovereign of so many dominions, and the greatest prince of the earth, could not escape it. The case being so, what a fool am I to kill myself with grief? I will throw it off, and the remembrance of a misfortune so common shall never after this disturb my quiet. So that, from that moment, he forebore afflicting himself. Being unwilling to sup till he saw the whole scene that was acted under his window, he called then for his supper, ate with a better appetite than he had done at any time after his coming to Samarcande, and listened with pleasure to the agreeable concert of vocal and instrumental music that was appointed to entertain him while at table.

He continued after this to be of a very good humour; and when he knew that the sultan was returning, he went to meet him, and paid him his compliments with a great deal of gaiety. Schahriar at first took no notice of this great alteration, but expostulated with him modestly, why he would not bear him company at hunting the stag; and, without giving him time to reply, entertained him with the great number of deer and other game they had killed, and what pleasure he had in the sport. Schahzenan heard him with attention, gave answers to every thing, and being rid of that melancholy which formerly over-clouded his wit, he said a thousand agreeable and pleasant things to the sultan.

Schahriar, who expected to have found him in the same condition as he left him, was overjoyed to see him so cheerful, and spoke to him thus: Dear brother, I return thanks to Heaven for the happy change it has made on you during my absence; I am extremely rejoiced at it; but I have a request to make to you, and conjure you not to deny me. I can refuse you nothing, replies the king of Tartary; you may command Schahzenan as you please; pray speak, I am impatient to know what you desire of me. Ever since you came to my court, replies Schahriar, I found you swallowed up by a deep melancholy, and I did in vain attempt to remove it by diversions of all sorts. I imagined it might be occasioned by reason of the distance from your dominions, or that love might have a great share in it; and that the queen of Samarcande, who, no doubt, is an accomplished beauty, might be the cause of it. I do not know if I be mistaken; but I must own that this was the peculiar reason why I did not importune you upon the subject, for fear of making you uneasy. But, without my being able to contribute any thing towards it, I find now, upon my return, that you are in the best humour that can be, and that your mind is entirely delivered from that black vapour which disturbed it. Pray do me the favour to tell me why you were so melancholy, and how you came to be rid of it.

Upon this, the king of Tartary continued for some time as if he had been in a dream, and contrived what he should answer; but at last replied as follows: You are my sultan and master; but excuse me, I beseech you, from answering your question. No, dear brother, said the sultan, you must answer, I will take no denial. Schahzenan, not being able to withstand these pressing instances, answered, Well, then, brother, I will satisfy you, since you command me; and, having told him the story of the queen of Samarcande's treachery, this, says he, was the cause of my grief; pray judge whether I had not reason enough to give myself up to it.

Oh! my brother, says the sultan, (in a tone which showed that he had the same sentiments of the matter with the king of Tartary,) what a horrible story do you tell me! How impatient was I till I heard it out! I commend you for punishing the traitors who put such an outrage upon you. Nobody can blame you for that action: it was just; and for my part, had the case been mine, I could scarce have been so moderate as you, I should not have satisfied myself with the life of one woman; I verily think I should have sacrificed a thousand to my fury. I cease now to wonder at your melancholy. The cause of it was too sensible, and too mortifying, not to make you yield to it. O heaven! what a strange adventure! nor do I believe the like of it ever befel any man but yourself. But, in short, I must bless God, who has comforted you; and since I doubt not but your consolation is well grounded, be so good as let me know what it is, and conceal nothing from me. Schahzenan was not so easily prevailed upon in this point as he had been in the other, because of his brother's concern in it; but, being obliged to yield to his pressing instances, answered, I must obey you then, since your command is absolute; yet am afraid that my obedience will occasion your trouble to be greater than ever mine was. But you must blame yourself for it, since you force me to reveal a thing which I should have otherwise buried in eternal oblivion. What you say, answers Schahriar, serves only to increase my curiosity. Make haste to discover the secret, whatever it may be. The king of Tartary, being no longer able to refuse, gave him the particulars of all that he had seen of the blacks in disguise, of the lewd passion of the sultaness and her ladies; and, to be sure, he did not forget Masoud. After having been witness to those infamous actions, says he, I believed all women to be that way naturally inclined, and that they could not resist those violent desires. Being of this opinion, it seemed to me to be an unaccountable weakness in men to make themselves uneasy at their infidelity. This reflection brought many others along with it; and, in short, I thought the best thing I could do was to make myself easy. It cost me some pain indeed, but at last I effected it; and, if you will take my advice, you shall follow my example.

Though the advice was good, the sultan could not take it, but fell into a rage. What! says he, is the sultaness of the Indies capable of prostituting herself in so base a manner? No, brother, I cannot believe what you say,--unless I saw it with my eyes: yours must needs have deceived you; the matter is so important, that I must be satisfied of it myself. Dear brother, answers Schahzenan, that you may without much difficulty. Appoint another hunting-match, and when we are out of town with your court and mine, we will stop under our pavilions, and at night let you and I return alone to my apartment. I am certain that next day you will see what I saw. The sultan, approving the stratagem, immediately appointed a new hunting-match; and that same day the pavilions were set up at the place appointed.

Next day the two princes set out with all their retinue; they arrived at the place of encampment, and staid there till night. Then Schahriar called his grand vizier, and, without acquainting him of his design, commanded him to stay in his place during his absence, and to suffer no person to go out of the camp upon any occasion whatever. As soon as he had given this order, the king of Grand Tartary and he took horse, passed through the camp incognito, returned to the city, and went to Schahzenan's apartment. They had scarce placed themselves in the same window where the king of Tartary had seen the disguised blacks act their scene, but the secret gate opened, the sultaness and her ladies entered the garden with the blacks, and she having called upon Masoud, the sultan saw more than enough to convince him plainly of his dishonour and misfortune.

O heavens! cried he, what indignity! what horror! Can the wife of a sovereign, such as I am, be capable of such an infamous action? After this let no prince boast of his being perfectly happy. Alas! my brother, continues he, (embracing the king of Tartary,) let us both renounce the world; honesty is banished out of it; if it flatter us the one day, it betrays us the next; let us abandon our dominions and grandeur; let us go into foreign countries, where we may lead an obscure life, and conceal our misfortune. Schahzenan did not at all approve of such a resolution, but did not think fit to contradict Schahriar in the heat of his passion. Dear brother, says he, your will shall be mine; I am ready to follow you whither you please; but promise that you will return, if we can meet with any one that is more unhappy than ourselves. I agree to it, says the sultan, but doubt much whether we shall. I am not of your mind in this, replied the king of Tartary; I fancy our journey will be but short. Having said this, they went secretly out of the palace by another way than they came. They travelled as long as it was day, and lay the first night under the trees; and getting up about break of day, they went on till they came to a fine meadow upon the banks of the sea, in which meadow there were tufts of great trees at some distance from one another. They sat down under those trees to rest and refresh themselves, and the chief subject of their conversation was the lewdness of their wives.

They had not sat long, before they heard a frightful noise, and a terrible cry from the sea, which filled them with fear; then the sea opening, there rose up a thing like a great black column, which reached almost to the clouds. This redoubled their fear, made them rise speedily, and climb up into a tree to hide themselves. They had scarce got up, till, looking to the place from whence the voice came, and where the sea opened, they observed that the black column advanced, winding about towards the shore, cleaving the water before it. They could not at first think what it should be; but in a little time they found that it was one of those malignant genie that are mortal enemies to mankind, and always doing them mischief. He was black, frightful, had the shape of a giant, of a prodigious stature, and carried on his head a great glass box, shut with four locks of fine steel. He entered the meadow with his burden, which he laid down just at the foot of the tree where the two princes were, who looked upon themselves to be dead men. Meanwhile the genie sat down by his box, and opening it with four keys that he had at his girdle, there came out a lady magnificently apparelled, of a majestic stature, and a complete beauty. The monster made her sit down by him; and eying her with an amorous look, Lady (says he) nay, most accomplished of all ladies who are admired for their beauty my charming mistress, whom I carried off on your wedding-day, and have loved so constantly ever since, let me sleep a few moments by you; for I found myself so very sleepy, that I came to this place to take a little rest. Having spoken thus, he laid down his huge head on the lady's knees; and stretching out his legs, which reached as far as the sea, he fell asleep, and snored so, that he made the banks to echo again.

The lady, happening at the same time to look up to the tree, saw the two princes and made a sign to them with her hand to come down without making any noise. Their fear was extraordinary when they found themselves discovered, and they prayed the lady, by other signs, to excuse them; but she, after having laid the monster's head softly down, rose up, and spoke to them with a low


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