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- The Arabian Nights Entertainments vol. 1 - 2/63 -


sleep, he arose, and abandoned himself to the most afflicting thoughts, which made such an impression upon his countenance, as it was impossible for the sultan not to observe. "What," said he, "can be the matter with the king of Tartary that he is so melancholy? Has he any cause to complain of his reception? No, surely; I have received him as a brother whom I love, so that I can charge myself with no omission in that respect. Perhaps it grieves him to be at such a distance from his dominions, or from the queen his wife? If that be the case, I must forthwith give him the presents I designed for him, that he may return to Samarcand." Accordingly the next day Shier-ear sent him part of those presents, being the greatest rarities and the richest things that the Indies could afford. At the same time he endeavoured to divert his brother every day by new objects of pleasure, and the most splendid entertainments. But these, instead of affording him ease, only increased his sorrow.

One day, Shier-ear having appointed a great hunting-match, about two days journey from his capital, in a place that abounded with deer, Shaw-zummaun besought him to excuse his attendance, for his health would not allow him to bear him company. The sultan, unwilling to put any constraint upon him, left him at his liberty, and went a-hunting with his nobles. The king of Tartary being thus left alone, shut himself up in his apartment, and sat down at a window that looked into the garden. That delicious place, and the sweet harmony of an infinite number of birds, which chose it for their retreat, must certainly have diverted him, had he been capable of taking pleasure in anything; but being perpetually tormented with the fatal remembrance of his queen's infamous conduct, his eyes were not so much fixed upon the garden, as lifted up to heaven to bewail his misfortune.

While he was thus absorbed in grief, a circumstance occurred which attracted the whole of his attention. A secret gate of the sultan's palace suddenly opened, and there came out of it twenty women, in the midst of whom walked the sultaness, who was easily distinguished from the rest by her majestic air. This princess thinking that the king of Tartary was gone a-hunting with his brother the sultan, came with her retinue near the windows of his apartment. For the prince had so placed himself that he could see all that passed in the garden without being perceived himself. He observed, that the persons who accompanied the sultaness threw off their veils and long robes, that they might be more at their ease, but he was greatly surprised to find that ten of them were black men, and that each of these took his mistress. The sultaness, on her part, was not long without her gallant. She clapped her hands, and called "Masoud, Masoud," and immediately a black descended from a tree, and ran towards her with great speed.

Modesty will not allow, nor is it necessary, to relate what passed between the blacks and the ladies. It is sufficient to say, that Shaw-zummaun saw enough to convince him, that his brother was as much to be pitied as himself. This amorous company continued together till midnight, and having bathed together in a great piece of water, 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 as he had come in.

These things having passed in the king of Tartary's sight, filled him with a multitude of reflections. "How little reason had I," said he, "to think that none was so unfortunate as myself? It is surely the unavoidable fate of all husbands, since even the sultan my brother, who is sovereign of so-many dominions, and the greatest prince of the earth, could not escape. Such being the case, what a fool am I to kill myself with grief? I am resolved that the remembrance of a misfortune so common shall never more disturb my peace."

From that moment he forbore afflicting himself. He called for his supper, ate with a better appetite than he had done since his leaving Samarcand, and listened with some degree of pleasure to the agreeable concert of vocal and instrumental music that was appointed to entertain him while at table.

He continued after this very cheerful; and when he was informed that the sultan was returning, went to meet him, and paid him his compliments with great gaiety. Shier-ear at first took no notice of this alteration. He politely expostulated with him for not bearing him company, and without giving him time to reply, entertained him with an account of the great number of deer and other game they had killed, and the pleasure he had received in the chase. Shaw-zummaun heard him with attention; and being now relieved from the melancholy which had before depressed his spirits, and clouded his talents, took up the conversation in his turn, and spoke a thousand agreeable and pleasant things to the sultan.

Shier-ear, who expected to have found him in the same state as he had left him, was overjoyed to see him so cheerful: "Dear brother," said he, "I return thanks to heaven for the happy change it has wrought in you during my absence. I am indeed extremely rejoiced. But I have a request to make to you, and conjure you not to deny me."I can refuse you nothing," replied the king of Tartary; "you may command Shaw-zummaun as you please: speak, I am impatient to know what you desire of me." "Ever since you came to my court," resumed Shier-ear, "I have found you immersed in a deep melancholy, and I have in vain attempted to remove it by different diversions. I imagined it might be occasioned by your distance from your dominions, or that love might have a great share in it; and that the queen of Samarcand, who, no doubt, is an accomplished beauty, might be the cause. I do not know whether I am mistaken in my conjecture; but I must own, that it was for this very reason I would not importune you upon the subject, for fear of making you uneasy. But without myself contributing anything towards effecting the change, I find on my return that your mind is entirely delivered from the black vapour which disturbed it. Pray do me the favour to tell me why you were so melancholy, and wherefore you are no longer so."

The king of Tartary continued for some time as if he had been meditating and contriving what he should answer; but at last replied, "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 me, I will take no denial." Shaw- zummaun, not being able to withstand these pressing entreaties, replied, "Well then, brother, I will satisfy you, since you command me ;" and having told him the story of the queen of Samarcand's treachery "This," said he, "was the cause of my grief; judge whether I had not sufficient reason for my depression."

"O! my brother," said the sultan, (in a tone which shewed what interest he took in the king of Tartary's affliction), "what a horrible event do you tell me! I commend you for punishing the traitors who offered you such an outrage. None can blame you for what you have done. It was just; and for my part, had the case been mine, 1 should scarcely have been so moderate. I could not have satisfied myself with the life of one woman; I should have sacrificed a thousand to my fury. I now cease to wonder at your melancholy. The cause was too afflicting and too mortifying not to overwhelm you. O heaven! what a strange adventure! Nor do I believe the like ever befell any man but yourself. But I must bless God, who has comforted you; and since I doubt not but your consolation is well-grounded, be so good as to inform me what it is, and conceal nothing from me." Shaw-zummaun was not so easily prevailed upon in this point as he had been in the other, on his brother's account. But being obliged to yield to his pressing instances, answered, "I must obey you then, since your command is absolute, yet I am afraid that my obedience will occasion your trouble to be greater than my own. But you must blame yourself, since you force me to reveal what I should otherwise have buried in eternal Oblivion." "What you say," answered Shier-ear, "serves only to increase my curiosity. Discover the secret, whatever it be." The king of Tartary being no longer able to refuse, related to him the particulars of the blacks in disguise, of the ungoverned passion of the sultaness, and her ladies; nor did he forget Masoud. After having been witness to these infamous actions, he continued, "I believed all women to be naturally lewd; and that they could not resist their inclination. Being of this opinion, it seemed to me to be in men an unaccountable weakness to place any confidence in their fidelity. This reflection brought on many others; and in short, I thought the best thing I could do was to make myself easy. It cost me some pains indeed, but at last I grew reconciled; and if you will take my advice, you will follow my example."

Though the advice was good, the sultan could not approve of it, but fell into a rage. "What!" said he, "is the sultaness of the Indies capable of prostituting herself in so base a manner! No, brother, I cannot believe what you state unless I beheld it with my own eyes. Yours must needs have deceived you; the matter is so important that I must be satisfied of it myself." "Dear brother," answered Shaw-zummaun, "that you may without much difficulty. Appoint another hunting-match, and when we are out of town with your court and mine, we will rest under our tents, and at night let you and I return unattended to my apartments. I am certain the next day you will see a repetition of the scene." The sultan approving the stratagem, immediately appointed another hunting- match. And that same day the tents were pitched at the place appointed.

The next day the two princes set out with all their retinue; they arrived at the place of encampment, and stayed there till night. Shier-ear then called his grand vizier, and, without acquainting him with his design, commanded him during his absence to suffer no person to quit the camp on any presence 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 Shaw-zummaun's apartment. They had scarcely placed themselves in the window whence the king of Tartary had beheld the scene of the disguised blacks, when the secret gate opened, the sultaness and her ladies entered the garden with the blacks, and she having called to Masoud, the sultan saw more than enough fully to convince him of his dishonour and misfortune.

"Oh heavens!" he exclaimed, "what indignity! What horror! Can the wife of a sovereign be capable of such infamous conduct? After this, let no prince boast of being perfectly happy. Alas! my brother," continued he, embracing the king of Tartery, "let us both renounce the world, honour is banished out of it; if it flatter us one day, it betrays us the next. Let us abandon our dominions, and go into foreign countries, where we may lead an obscure life, and conceal our misfortunes." Shaw-zummaun did not at all approve of this plan, but did not think fit to contradict Shierear in the heat of his passion. "Dear brother," he replied, "your will shall be mine. I am ready to follow you whithersoever you please: but promise me that you will return, if we meet with any one more unhappy than ourselves." "To this I agree," said the


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