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- The Arabian Nights Entertainments vol. 3 - 60/74 -
happiness she had procured me.
"Syed Naomaun," said the daughter to me, "let us not talk of the obligation you say you owe me; it is enough for me that I have done any service to so honest a man. But let us talk of Ameeneh your wife. I was acquainted with her before your marriage; and as I know her to be a sorceress, she also is sensible that I have some of the same kind of knowledge as herself, since we both learnt it of the same mistress. We often meet at the baths, but as our tempers are different, I avoid all opportunities of contracting an intimacy with her, which is no difficult matter, as she does the same by me. I am not at all surprised at her wickedness: but what I have already done for you is not sufficient; I must complete what I have begun. It is not enough to have broken the enchantment by which she has so long excluded you from the society of men. You must punish her as she deserves, by going home again, and assuming the authority which belongs to you. I will give you the proper means. Converse a little with my mother till I return to you."
My deliveress went into a closet, and while she was absent, I repeated my obligations to the mother as well as the daughter. She said to me, "You see my daughter has as much skill in the magic art as the wicked Ameeneh; but makes such use of it, that you would be surprised to know the good she has done, and daily does, by exercising her science. This induces me to let her practise it; for I should not permit her, if I perceived she made an improper application of it in the smallest instance."
The mother then related some of the wonders she had seen her perform: by this time the daughter returned with a little bottle in her hand. "Syed Naomaun," said she, "my books which I have been consulting tell me that Ameeneh is now abroad, but will be at home presently. They also inform me that she pretended before your servants to be very uneasy at your absence, and made them believe, that at dinner you recollected some business which obliged you to go out immediately; that as you went, you left the door open, and a dog running into the hall where she was at dinner, she had beaten him out with a great stick.
"Take this little bottle, go home immediately, and wait in your own chamber till Ameeneh comes in, which she will do shortly. As soon as she returns, run down into the court, and meet her face to face. In her surprise at seeing you so unexpectedly, she will turn her back to run away; have the bottle ready, and throw some of the liquor it contains upon her, pronouncing at the same time these words: ‘Receive the chastisement of thy wickedness.' I will tell you no more; you will see the effect."
After these instructions I took leave of my benefactress, and her mother, with all the testimonies of the most perfect gratitude, and a sincere protestation never to forget my obligation to them; and then went home.
All things happened as the beautiful and humane enchantress had foretold. Ameeneh was not long before she came home. As she entered the court, I met her with the bottle in my hand. Upon seeing me, she shrieked; and as she turned to run towards the door, I threw the liquor upon her, pronouncing the words which the young lady had taught me, when she was instantly transformed into the mare which your majesty saw me upon yesterday.
At that instant, owing to the surprise she was in, I easily seized her by the mane, and notwithstanding her resistance, led her into the stable, where I put a halter upon her head, and when I had tied her to the rack, reproaching her with her baseness, I chastised her with a whip till I was tired, and have punished her every day since in the manner which your majesty has witnessed.
"I hope, commander of the faithful," concluded Syed Naomaun, "your majesty will not disapprove of my conduct, but will rather think I have shewn so wicked and pernicious a woman more indulgence than she deserved."
When the caliph found that Syed Naomaun had ended his story, he said to him, "Your adventure is very singular, and the wickedness of your wife inexcusable; therefore I do not condemn the chastisement you have hitherto given her; but I would have you consider how great a punishment it is to be reduced to the condition of beasts, and wish you would be content with the chastisement you have already inflicted. I would order you to go and address yourself to the young enchantress, to end the metamorphosis she has inflicted, but that I know the obstinacy and incorrigible cruelty of magicians of both sexes, who abuse their art; which makes me apprehensive that a second effect of your wife's revenge might be more fatal than the first."
The caliph, who was naturally mild and compassionate to all criminals, after he had declared his mind to Syed Naomaun, addressed himself to the third person the grand vizier had summoned to attend him. "Khaujeh Hassan," said he, "passing yesterday by your house, it seemed so magnificent that I felt a curiosity to know to whom it belonged, and was told that you, whose trade is so mean that a man can scarcely get his bread by it, have built this house after you had followed this trade some years. I was likewise informed that you make a good use of the riches God has blessed you with, and your neighbours speak well of you.
"All this pleases me well," added the caliph, "but I am persuaded that the means by which Providence has been pleased to bestow these gifts on you must have been very extraordinary. I am curious to know the particulars from your own mouth, and sent for you on purpose to have that satisfaction. Speak truly, that when I know your story, I may rejoice in your good fortune.
"But that you may not suspect my curiosity, and believe I have any other interest than what I tell you, I declare, that far from having any pretensions, I give you my word you shall enjoy freely all you possess."
On these assurances of the caliph, Khaujeh Hassan prostrated himself before the throne, with his forehead down to the carpet, and when he rose up, said, "Commander of the faithful, some persons might have been alarmed at having been summoned to appear before your majesty; but knowing that my conscience was clear, and that I had committed nothing against the laws or your majesty, but, on the contrary, had always the most respectful sentiments and the profoundest veneration for your person, my only fear was, that I should not be able to support the splendour of your presence. But nevertheless on the public report of your majesty's receiving favourably, and hearing the meanest of your subjects, I took courage, and never doubted but I should have confidence enough to give you all the satisfaction you might require of me. Besides, your majesty has given me a proof of your goodness, by granting me your protection before you know whether I deserve it. I hope, however, you will retain the favourable sentiments you have conceived of me, when, in obedience to your command, I shall have related my adventures."
After this compliment to conciliate the caliph's good-will and attention, and after some moments' recollection, Khaujeh Hassan related his story in the following manner:
The Story of Khaujeh Hassan al Hubbaul.
Commander of the faithful, that your majesty may the better understand by what means I arrived at the happiness I now enjoy, I must acquaint you, there are two intimate friends, citizens of Bagdad, who can testify the truth of what I shall relate, and to whom, after God, the author of all good, I owe my prosperity.
These two friends are called, the one Saadi, the other Saad. Saadi, who is very rich, was always of opinion that no man could be happy in this world without wealth, to live independent of every one.
Saad was of a different opinion; he agreed that riches were necessary to comfort, but maintained that the happiness of a man's life consisted in virtue, without any farther eagerness after worldly goods than what was requisite for decent subsistence, and benevolent purposes.
Saad himself is one of this number, and lives very happily and contentedly in his station: but though Saadi is infinitely more opulent, their friendship is very sincere, and the richest sets no more value on himself than the other. They never had any dispute but on this point; in all other things their union of opinion has been very strict.
One day as they were talking upon this subject, as I have since been informed by them both, Saadi affirmed, that poverty proceeded from men's being born poor, or spending their fortunes in luxury and debauchery, or by some of those unforeseen fatalities which do not often occur. "My opinion," said he, "is, that most people's poverty is owing to their wanting at first a sufficient sum of money to raise them above want, by employing their industry to improve it; for," continued he, "if they once had such a sum, and made a right use of it, they would not only live well, but would in time infallibly grow rich."
Saad could not agree in this sentiment: "The way," said he, "which you propose to make a poor man rich, is not so certain as you imagine. Your plan is very hazardous, and I can bring many good arguments against your opinion, but that they would carry us too far into dispute, I believe, with as much probability, that a poor man may become rich by other means as well as by money: and there are people who have raised as large and surprising fortunes by mere chance, as others have done by money, with all their good economy and management to increase it by the best conducted trade."
"Saad," replied Saadi, "I see we shall not come to any determination by my persisting to oppose my opinion against yours. I will make an experiment to convince you, by giving, for example, a sum of money to some artisan, whose ancestors from father to son have always been poor, lived only from day to day, and died as indigent as they were born. If I have not the success I expect, you shall try if you will have better by the means you shall employ."
Some days after this dispute, the two friends happened to walk out together, and passing through the street where I was at work at my trade of rope-making, which I learnt of my father, who
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