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- The Arabian Nights Entertainments vol. 3 - 1/74 -

Text scanned by JC Byers and proofread by JC Byers, Sally Gellert, Renate Preuss, and Christine Sturrock.

The "Aldine" Edition of

The Arabian Nights Entertainments

Illustrated by S. L. Wood


In Four Volumes

Volume 3

London Pickering and Chatto 1890

Contents of Volume III.

The Story of Beder, Prince of Persia, and Jehaunara, Prince of Samandal, or Summunder The History of Prince Zeyn Alasnam and the Sultan of the Genii The History of Codadad, and His Brothers The History of the Princess of Deryabar The Story of Abu Hassan, or the Sleeper Awakened The Story of Alla Ad Deen; Or, the Wonderful Lamp Adventure of the Caliph Haroon Al Rusheed The Story of Baba Abdoollah The Story of Syed Naomaun The Story of Khaujeh Hassan Al Hubbaul The Story of Ali Aba and the Forty Robbers Destroyed by a Slave The Story of Ali Khujeh, a Merchand of Bagdad


Persia was an empire of such vast extent, that its ancient monarchs, not without reason, assumed the haughty title of King of kings. For not to mention those subdued by their arms, there were kingdoms and provinces whose kings were not only tributary, but also in as great subjection as governors in other nations are to the monarchs.

One of these kings, who in the beginning of his reign had signalized himself by many glorious and successful conquests, enjoyed so profound a peace and tranquillity, as rendered him the happiest of princes. The only point in which he thought himself unfortunate was, that amongst all his wives, not one had brought him a son; and being now far advanced in years, he was desirous of an heir. He had above a hundred ladies, all lodged in separate apartments, with women-slaves to wait upon and eunuchs to guard them; yet, notwithstanding all his endeavours to please their taste, and anticipate their wishes, there was not one that answered his expectation. He had women frequently brought him from the most remote countries; and if they pleased him, he not only gave the merchants their full price, but loaded them with honours and benedictions, in hopes that at last he might be so happy as to meet with one by whom he might have a son. There was scarcely an act of charity but he performed, to prevail with heaven. He gave immense sums to the poor, besides large donations to the religious; building for their use many noble colleges richly endowed, in hopes of obtaining by their prayers what he so earnestly desired.

One day, according to the custom of his royal predecessors, during their residence in their capital, he held an assembly of his courtiers, at which all the ambassadors and strangers of quality about the court were present; and where they not only entertained one another with news and politics, but also by conversing on the sciences, history, poetry, literature, and whatever else was capable of diverting the mind. On that day a eunuch came to acquaint him with the arrival of a certain merchant from a distant country, who, having brought a slave with him, desired leave to shew her to his majesty. "Give him admittance instantly," said the king, "and after the assembly is over I will talk with him." The merchant was introduced, and seated in a convenient place, from whence he might easily have a full view of the king, and hear him talk familiarly to those that stood near his person. The king observed this rule to all strangers, in order that by degrees they might grow acquainted with him; so that, when they saw with what freedom and civility he addressed himself to all, they might be encouraged to talk to him in the same manner, without being abashed at the pomp and splendour of his appearance, which was enough to deprive those of their power of speech who were not used to it. He treated the ambassadors also after the same manner. He ate with them, and during the repast asked them several questions concerning their health, their journey, and the peculiarities of their country. After they had been thus encouraged, he gave them audience.

When the assembly was over, and all the company had retired, the merchant, who was the only person left, fell prostrate before the king's throne, with his face to the earth, wishing his majesty an accomplishment of all his desires As soon as he arose, the king asked him if the report of his having brought a slave for him was true, and whether she were handsome.

"Sire," replied the merchant, "I doubt not but your majesty has many very beautiful women, since you search every corner of the earth for them; but I may boldly affirm, without overvaluing my merchandise, that you never yet saw a woman that could stand in competition with her for shape and beauty, agreeable qualifications, and all the perfections that she is mistress of." "Where is she?" demanded the king; "bring her to me instantly." "Sire," replied the merchant, "I have delivered her into the hands of one of your chief eunuchs; and your majesty may send for her at your pleasure."

The fair slave was immediately brought in; and no sooner had the king cast his eyes on her, but he was charmed with her beautiful and easy shape. He went directly into a closet, and was followed by the merchant and a few eunuchs. The fair slave wore, over her face, a red satin veil striped with gold; and when the merchant had taken it off, the king of Persia beheld a female that surpassed in beauty, not only his present ladies, but all that he had ever had before. He immediately fell passionately in love with her, and desired the merchant to name his price.

"Sire," said he, "I gave a thousand pieces of gold to the person of whom I bought her; and in my three years' journey to your court, I reckon I have spent as much more: but I shall forbear setting any price to so great a monarch; and therefore, if your majesty likes her, I humbly beg you would accept of her as a present." "I am highly obliged to you," replied the king; "but it is never my custom to treat merchants, who come hither for my pleasure, in so ungenerous a manner; I am going to order thee ten thousand pieces of gold; will that be sufficient?" "Sire," answered the merchant, "I should have esteemed myself happy in your majesty's acceptance of her; yet I dare not refuse so generous an offer. I will not fail to publish your liberality in my own country, and in every place through which I may pass." The money was paid; and before he departed, the king made him put on a rich suit of cloth of gold.

The king caused the fair slave to be lodged in the apartment next his own, and gave particular orders to the matrons, and the female slaves appointed to attend her, that after bathing they should dress her in the richest habit they could find, and carry her the finest pearl necklaces, the brightest diamonds, and other richest precious stones, that she might choose those she liked best.

The officious matrons, whose only care was to please the king, were astonished at her beauty; and being good judges, they told his majesty, that if he would allow them but three days, they would engage to make her so much handsomer than she was at present, that he would scarcely know her again. The king could hardly prevail with himself to delay so long the pleasure of seeing her, but at last he consented.

The king of Persia's capital was situated in an island; and his palace, which was very magnificent, was built on the shore: his apartment looked on the water; the fair slave's, which was near it, had also the same prospect, and was the more agreeable, on account of the sea's beating almost against the walls.

At the three days' end, the fair slave, magnificently dressed, was alone in her chamber, sitting on a sofa, and leaning against one of the windows that faced the sea, when the king, being informed that he might visit her, came in. The slave, hearing somebody walk in the room with an air quite different from that of the female slaves, who had hitherto attended her, immediately turned her head about to see who it was. She knew him to be the king, but without discovering the least surprise, or so much as rising from her seat to salute or receive him, as if he had been the most indifferent person in the world, she put herself in the same posture again.

The king of Persia was extremely surprised to see a slave of so beauteous a form so ignorant of the world. He attributed this to the narrowness of her education, and the little care that had been taken to instruct her in the first rules of civility. He went to her at the window, where, notwithstanding the coldness and indifference with which she had received him, she suffered herself to be admired, caressed, and embraced, as much as he pleased.

In the midst of these amorous embraces and tender endearments, the king paused awhile, to gaze upon, or rather to devour her with his eyes. "My lovely fair one! my charmer!" exclaimed he; "whence came you, and where do those happy parents live who brought into the world so surprising a masterpiece of nature? How

The Arabian Nights Entertainments vol. 3 - 1/74

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