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- The Arabian Nights Entertainments vol. 3 - 50/74 -
When he came into the sultan's presence, he said to him, ‘"The haste in which your majesty sent for me makes me believe something extraordinary has happened, since you know that this is a day of public audience, and I should not have failed of attending at the usual time." "Indeed," said the sultan, "it is something very extraordinary, as you say, and you will allow it to be so: tell me what is become of Alla ad Deen's palace?" "His palace!" replied the grand vizier, in amazement, "I thought as I passed it stood in its usual place; such substantial buildings are not so easily removed." "Go into my closet," said the sultan, "and tell me if you can see it."
The grand vizier went into the closet, where he was struck with no less amazement than the sultan had been. When he was well assured that there was not the least appearance of this palace, he returned to the sultan. "Well," said the sultan, :have you seen Alla ad Deen's palace?" "No," answered the vizier; "but your majesty may remember that I had the honour to tell you, that palace, which was the subject of your admiration, with all its immense riches, was only the work of magic and a magician; but your majesty would not pay the least attention to what I said."
The sultan, who could not deny what the grand vizier had represented to him, flew into the greater passion: "Where is that impostor, that wicked wretch," said he, "that I may have his head taken off immediately?" "Sir," replied the grand vizier, "it is some days since he came to take his leave of your majesty, on pretence of hunting; he ought to be sent for, to know what is become of his palace, since he cannot be ignorant of what has been transacted." "That is too great an indulgence," replied the sultan: "command a detachment of horse to bring him to me loaded with chains." The grand vizier gave orders for a detachment, and instructed the officer who commanded them how they were to act, that Alla ad Deen might not escape. The detachment pursued their orders; and about five or six leagues from the town met him returning from the chase. The officer advanced respectfully, and informed him the sultan was so impatient to see him, that he had sent his party to accompany him home.
Alla ad Deen had not the least suspicion of the true reason of their meeting him; but when he came within half a league of the city, the detachment surrounded him, when the officer addressed himself to him, and said, "Prince, it is with great regret that I declare to you the sultan's order to arrest you, and to carry you before him as a criminal: I beg of you not to take it ill that we acquit ourselves of our duty, and to forgive us."
Alla ad Deen, who felt himself innocent, was much surprised at this declaration, and asked the officer if he knew what crime he was accused of; who replied, he did not. Then Alla ad Deen, finding that his retinue was much interior to this detachment, alighted off his horse, and said to the officers, "Execute your orders; I am not conscious that I have committed any offence against the sultan's person or government." A heavy chain was immediately put about his neck, and fastened round his body, so that both his arms were pinioned down; the officer then put himself at the head of the detachment, and one of the troopers taking hold of the end of the chain and proceeding after the officer, led Alla ad Deen, who was obliged to follow him on foot, into the city.
When this detachment entered the suburbs, the people, who saw Alla ad Deen thus led as a state criminal, never doubted but that his head was to be cut off; and as he was generally beloved, some took sabres and other arms; and those who had none gathered stones, and followed the escort. The last division faced about to disperse them; but their numbers presently increased so much, that the soldiery began to think it would be well if they could get into the sultan's palace before Alla ad Deen was rescued; to prevent which, according to the different extent of the streets, they took care to cover the ground by extending or closing. In this manner they with much difficulty arrived at the palace square, and there drew up in a line, till their officer and troopers with Alla ad Deen had got within the gates, which were immediately shut.
Alla ad Deen was carried before the sultan, who waited for him, attended by the grand vizier, in a balcony; and as soon as he saw him, he ordered the executioner, who waited there for the purpose, to strike off his head without hearing him or giving him leave to clear himself.
As soon as the executioner had taken off the chain that was fastened about Alla ad Deen's neck and body, and laid down a skin stained with the blood of the many he had executed, he made the supposed criminal kneel down, and tied a bandage over his eyes. Then drawing his sabre, took his aim by flourishing it three times in the air, waiting for the sultan's giving the signal to strike.
At that instant the grand vizier perceiving that the populace had forced the guard of horse, crowded the great square before the palace, and were scaling the walls in several places, and beginning to pull them down to force their way in; he said to the sultan, before he gave the signal, "I beg of your majesty to consider what you are going to do, since you will hazard your palace being destroyed; and who knows what fatal consequence may follow?" "My palace forced!" replied the sultan; "who can have that audacity?" "Sir," answered the grand vizier, "if your majesty will but cast your eyes towards the great square, and on the palace walls, you will perceive the truth of what I say."
The sultan was so much alarmed when he saw so great a crowd, and how enraged they were, that he ordered the executioner to put his sabre ;immediately into the scabbard, to unbind Alla ad Deen, and at the same time commanded the porters to declare to the people that the sultan had pardoned him, and that they might retire.
Those who had already got upon the walls, and were witnesses of what had passed, abandoned their design and got quickly down, overjoyed that they had saved the life of a man they dearly loved, and published the news amongst the rest, which was presently confirmed by the mace-bearers from the top of the terraces. The justice which the sultan had done to Alla ad Deen soon disarmed the populace of their rage; the tumult abated, and the mob dispersed.
When Alla ad Deen found himself at liberty, he turned towards the balcony, and perceiving the sultan, raised his voice, and said to him in a moving manner, "I beg of your majesty to add one favour more to that which I have already received, which is, to let me know my crime?" "Your crime," answered the sultan; "perfidious wretch! Do you not know it? Come hither, and I will shew it you."
Alla ad Deen went up, when the sultan, going before him without looking at him, said, "Follow me;" and then led him into his closet. When he came to the door, he said, "Go in; you ought to know whereabouts your palace stood: look round and tell me what is become of it?"
Alla ad Deen looked, but saw nothing. He perceived the spot upon which his palace had stood; but not being able to divine how it had disappeared, was thrown into such great confusion and amazement, that he could not return one word of answer.
The sultan growing impatient, demanded of him again, "Where is your palace, and what is become of my daughter?" Alla ad Deen, breaking silence, replied, "Sir, I perceive and own that the palace which I have built is not in its place, but is vanished; neither can I tell your majesty where it may be, but can assure you I had no concern in its removal."
"I am not so much concerned about your palace," replied the sultan, "I value my daughter ten thousand times more, and would have you find her out, otherwise I will cause your head to be struck off, and no consideration shall divert me from my purpose."
"I beg of your majesty," answered Alla ad Deen, "to grant me forty days to make my inquiries; and if in that time I have not the success I wish, I will offer my head at the foot of your throne, to be disposed of at your pleasure." "I give you the forty days you ask," said the sultan; "but think not to abuse the favour I shew you, by imagining you shall escape my resentment; for I will find you out in whatsoever part of the world you may conceal yourself."
Alla ad Deen went out of the sultan's presence with great humiliation, and in a condition worthy of pity. He crossed the courts of the palace, hanging down his head, and in such great confusion, that he durst not lift up his eyes. The principal officers of the court, who had all professed themselves his friends, and whom he had never disobliged, instead of going up to him to comfort him, and offer him a retreat in their houses, turned their backs to avoid seeing him. But had they accosted him with a word of comfort or offer of service, they would have no more known Alla ad Deen. He did not know himself, and was no longer in his senses, as plainly appeared by his asking everybody he met, and at every house, if they had seen his palace, or could tell him any news of it.
These questions made the generality believe that Alla ad Deen was mad. Some laughed at him, but people of sense and humanity, particularly those who had had any connection of business or friendship with him, really pitied him. For three days he rambled about the city in this manner, without coming to any resolution, or eating anything but what some compassionate people forced him to take out of charity.
At last, as he could no longer in his unhappy condition stay in a city where he had lately been next to the sultan, he took the road to the country; and after he had traversed several fields in wild uncertainty, at the approach of night came to the bank of a river. There, possessed by his despair, he said to himself, "Where shall I seek my palace? In what province, country, or part of the world, shall I find that and my dear princess, whom the sultan expects from me? I shall never succeed; I had better free myself at once from fruitless endeavours, and such bitter grief as preys upon me." He was just going to throw himself into the river, but, as a good Moosulmaun, true to his religion, he thought he should not do it without first saying his prayers. Going to prepare himself, he went to the river's brink, in order to perform the usual ablutions. The place being steep and slippery, from the water beating against it, he slid down, and had certainly fallen into the river, but for a little rock which projected about two feet out of the earth. Happily also for him he still had on the ring which the African magician had put on his finger before he went down into the subterraneous abode to
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