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- The Arabian Nights Entertainments vol. 1 - 3/63 -


sultan, "but doubt much whether we shall." "I am not of your opinion in this," replied the king of Tartary; "I fancy our journey will be but short." Having thus resolved, they went secretly out of the palace. They travelled as long as day-light continued; and lay the first night under trees. They arose about break of day, went on till they came to a fine meadow on the seashore, that was be-sprinkled with large trees They sat down under one of them to rest and refresh themselves, and the chief subject of their conversation was the infidelity or their wives.

They had not rested long, before they heard a frightful noise from the sea, and a terrible cry, which filled them with fear. The sea then opened, and there arose something like a great black column, which reached almost to the clouds. This redoubled their terror, made them rise with haste, and climb up into a tree m bide themselves. They had scarcely got up, when looking to the place from whence the noise proceeded, and where the sea had 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 this could mean, but in a little time they found that it was one of those malignant genies that are mortal enemies to mankind, and are always doing them mischief. He was black and frightful, had the shape of a giant, of a prodigious stature, and carried on his head a large glass box, fastened 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 concealed, who gave themselves over as lost. 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 appareled, of a majestic stature, and perfect beauty. The monster made her sit down by him, and eyeing her with an amorous look, said, "Lady, 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 drowsy that I came to this place to take a little rest." Having spoken thus, he laid down his huge head upon the lady's knees, and stretching out his legs, which reached as far as the sea, he fell asleep presently, and snored so loud that he made the shores echo.

The lady happening at this time to look up, saw the two princes in the tree, and made a sign to them with her hand to come down without making any noise. Their fear was extreme 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 on the ground, rose up and spoke to them, with a low but eager voice, to come down to her; she would take no denial. They informed her by signs that they were afraid of the genie, and would fain have been excused. Upon which she ordered them to come down, and threatened if they did not make haste, to awaken the genie, and cause him to put them to death.

These words so much intimidated the princes, that they began to descend with all possible precaution lest they should awake the genie. When they had come down, the lady took them by the hand, and going a little farther with them under the trees, made them a very urgent proposal. At first they rejected it, but she obliged them to comply by her threats. Having obtained what she desired, she perceived that each of them had a ring on his finger, which she demanded. As soon as she had received them, she pulled out a string of other rings, which she shewed the princes, and asked them if they knew what those jewels meant? "No," said they, "we hope you will be pleased to inform us." "These are," she replied, "the rings of all the men to whom I have granted my favours. There are fourscore and eighteen, which I keep as memorials of them; and I asked for yours to make up the hundred. So that I have had a hundred gallants already, notwithstanding the vigilance of this wicked genie, who never leaves me. He may lock me up in this glass box and hide me in the bottom of the sea; but I find methods to elude his vigilance. You may see by this, that when a woman has formed a project, there is no husband or lover that can prevent her from putting it in execution. Men had better not put their wives under such restraint, as it only serves to teach them cunning." Having spoken thus to them, she put their rings on the same string with the rest, and sitting down by the monster, as before, laid his head again upon her lap, end made a sign to the princes to depart.

They returned immediately the way they had come, and when they were out of sight of the lady and the genie Shier-ear said to Shaw-zummaun "Well, brother, what do you think of this adventure? Has not the genie a very faithful mistress? And do you not agree that there is no wickedness equal to that of women?" "Yes, brother," answered the king of Great Tartary; "and you must also agree that the monster is more unfortunate, and more to be pitied than ourselves. Therefore, since we have found what we sought for, let us return to our dominions, and let not this hinder us from marrying. For my part, I know a method by which to preserve the fidelity of my wife inviolable. I will say no more at present, but you will hear of it in a little time, and I am sure you will follow my example." The sultan agreed with his brother; and continuing their journey, they arrived in the camp the third night after their departure.

The news of the sultan's return being spread, the courtiers came betimes in the morning before his pavilion to wait his pleasure. He ordered them to enter, received them with a more pleasant air than he had formerly done, and gave each of them a present. After which, he told them he would go no farther, ordered them to take horse, and returned with expedition to his palace.

As soon as he arrived, he proceeded to the sultaness's apartment, commanded her to be bound before him, and delivered her to his grand vizier, with an order to strangle her, which was accordingly executed by that minister, without inquiring into her crime. The enraged prince did not stop here, but cut off the heads of all the sultaness's ladies with his own hand. After this rigorous punishment, being persuaded that no woman was chaste, he resolved, in order to prevent the disloyalty of such as he should afterwards marry, to wed one every night, and have her strangled next morning. Having imposed this cruel law upon himself, he swore that he would put it in force immediately after the departure of the king of Tartary, who shortly took leave of him, and being laden with magnificent presents, set forward on his journey.

Shaw-zummaun having departed, Shier-ear ordered his grand vizier to bring him the daughter of one of his generals. The vizier obeyed. The sultan lay with her, and putting her next morning into his hands again in order to have her strangled, commanded him to provide him another the next night. Whatever reluctance the vizier might feel to put such orders in execution, as he owed blind obedience to the sultan his master, he was forced to submit. He brought him then the daughter of a subaltern, whom he also put to death the next day. After her he brought a citizen's daughter; and, in a word, there was every day a maid married, and a wife murdered.

The rumour of this unparalleled barbarity occasioned a general consternation in the city, where there was nothing but crying and lamentation. Here, a father in tears, and inconsolable for the loss of his daughter; and there, tender mothers dreating lest their daughters should share the same fate, filling the air with cries of distress and apprehension. So that, instead of the commendation and blessings which the sultan had hitherto received from his subjects, their mouths were now filled with imprecations.

The grand vizier who, as has been already observed, was the unwilling executioner of this horrid course of injustice, had two daughters, the elder called Scheherazade, and the younger Dinarzade. The latter was highly accomplished; but the former possessed courage, wit, and penetration, infinitely above her sex. She had read much, and had so admirable a memory, that she never forgot any thing she had read. She had successfully applied herself to philosophy, medicine, history, and the liberal arts; and her poetry excelled the compositions of the best writers of her time. Besides this, she was a perfect beauty, and all her accomplishments were crowned by solid virtue.

The vizier loved this daughter, so worthy of his affection. One day, as they were conversing together, she said to him, "Father, I have one favour to beg of you, and most humbly pray you to grant it." "I will not refuse," answered he, "provided it be just and reasonable." "For the justice of it," resumed she, "there can be no question, and you may judge of this by the motive which obliges me to make the request. I wish to stop that barbarity which the sultan exercises upon the families of this city. I would dispel those painful apprehensions which so many mothers feel of losing their daughters in such a fatal manner." "Your design, daughter," replied the vizier "is very commendable; but the evil you would remedy seems to me incurable. How do you propose to effect your purpose?" "Father," said Scheherazade, "since by your means the sultan makes every day a new marriage, I conjure you, by the tender affection you bear me, to procure me the honour of his bed." The vizier could not hear this without horror. "O heaven!" he replied in a passion, "have you lost your senses, daughter, that you make such a dangerous request? You know the sultan has sworn, that he will never lie above one night with the same woman, and to command her to be killed the next morning; would you then have me propose you to him? Consider well to what your indiscreet zeal will expose you." "Yes, dear father," replied the virtuous daughter, "I know the risk I run; but that does not alarm me. If I perish, my death will be glorious; and if I succeed, I shall do my country an important service." "No, no," said the vizier "whatever you may offer to induce me to let you throw yourself into such imminent danger, do not imagine that I will ever consent. When the sultan shall command me to strike my poniard into your heart, alas! I must obey; and what an employment will that be for a father! Ah! if you do not dread death, at least cherish some fears of afflicting me with the mortal grief of imbuing my hands in your blood." "Once more father," replied Scheherazade, "grant me the favour I solicit." "Your stubbornness," resumed the vizier "will rouse my anger; why will you run headlong to your ruin? They who do not foresee the end of a dangerous enterprise can never conduct it to a happy issue. I am afraid the same thing will happen to you as befell the ass, which was well off, but could not remain so." "What misfortune befell the ass?" demanded Scheherazade. "I will tell you," replied the vizier, "if you will hear me."

The Ass, the Ox, and the Labourer.

A very wealthy merchant possessed several country-houses, where


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