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- The Arabian Nights Entertainments vol. 4 - 50/71 -


Abou Neeut, who had been captivated by the beauty of the princess, asked, as his reward, her hand in marriage: upon which the sultan consulted with his viziers, who advised him to dismiss the petitioner for the present, with orders to return in the morning, when he should receive the sultan's decision on a request which demanded much consideration. When Abou Neeut had retired, the viziers represented to the sultan, that it was fitting the husband of his daughter should at least possess great wealth: for though Abou Neeut had expelled the evil spirit, yet if he could not support her in a manner becoming her rank, he was not worthy to marry her. They, therefore, advised him to select a number of his most valuable jewels, to shew them to Abou Neeut, and demand as a dowry for the princess some of equal estimation; which if he could produce he was ready to receive him as his son- in-law; but if not, he must accept a compensation for his services more suited to his condition than the royal alliance.

On Abou Neeut's appearance at court the next morning the sultan displayed the jewels, and made the proposal advised by his viziers; when looking with the utmost indifference upon the brilliant stones before him, he assured the sultan that he would the next day present him with ten times the number, of superior value and lustre; which declaration astonished the whole court, as it was known that no prince possessed richer gems than those in possession of the sultan of Moussul.

Abou Neeut having taken leave of the sultan proceeded to the poultry market, and having purchased a cock entirely white and free from blemish, brought it to his lodgings, where he continued till the rising of the moon, when he walked out of the city alone, and speeded to the mound of blueish earth mentioned by the Afreet of the well to contain the invaluable hidden treasure. Being arrived at the mound, he ascended it, cut the throat of the cock, whose blood began to flow, when, lo! the earth shook, and soon made an opening, through which, to his great satisfaction, he perceived such heaps of inestimable precious stones, of all sorts, as are not to be adequately described, Abou Neeut now went back to the city, where, having procured ten camels, with two panniers on each, he returned and loaded them with his treasure, which he conveyed to his lodging, having first filled up the cavity of the mound.

In the morning Abou Neeut repaired with his. loaded camels to the palace, and entering the court of the divan, in which the sultan sat expecting him, after a profound obeisance, cried out, "Descend for a moment, my lord, and examine the dowry of the princess." The sultan, arising from his throne, came down the steps of the hall, and the camels being made to kneel, he examined the panniers, and was so astonished at the richness of their contents, being jewels far surpassing his own in size and lustre, that he exclaimed, "By Allah! if the treasuries of all the sultans of the world were brought together they could not afford gems equal to these." When somewhat recovered from his surprise, he inquired of his viziers how he should now act towards Abou Neeut; when they all unanimously cried out, "By all means give him your daughter." The marriage was then immediately celebrated with great splendour, and Abou Neeut conducted himself so well in his high station, that the sultan his father-in-law committed to him the giving public audience in his stead, and the decision of all appeals, three days in each week.

Some time had elapsed after his elevation, when Abou Neeut one day giving audience in the magnificent hall of one of his country palaces, beheld a man among the crowd of a sorrowful aspect, dressed in a wretched habit, who cried, "O true believers, O charitable gentlemen, relieve the distressed!" Abou Neeut commanded one of his mace-bearers to bring him to his presence, and on his appearance recognized his treacherous companion who had left him in the well. Without making himself known, or betraying any emotion but that of compassion, he ordered attendants to conduct him to the warm bath; in which being refreshed, he was arrayed in a magnificent habit, and again brought to the divan. Abou Neeut having retired with him into a closet, said, "Knowest them me not, my old friend?" "No, by Allah," replied the other. "Know then," returned he, "that I am Abou Neeut, thy benefactor and companion, whom you treacherously left in the well." He then related all his adventures, concluding them with an assurance, that so far from resenting his treachery, he regarded his conduit as the impulse of fate, and as the means by which he, himself, had attained his present dignity and affluence, which he would share with him. The envious heart of Abou Neeuteen was unconquerable; and instead of thanking the noble-minded Abou Neeut for his forgiveness and liberality, he exclaimed, "Since the well has been to thee so fortunate, why should it not prove so also to me?" Having said this, he hastily rose up and quitted Abou Neeut, who would not punish such rudeness, even without taking leave.

Abou Neeuteen hastened with all speed to the well, and having descended by a rope, sat down, impatiently expecting the arrival of the Afreets, who about midnight alighted, and resting themselves on the terrace above, began to inquire each other's adventures. "Since we met last," said one, "I have been rendered miserable; for a cunning Mussulmaun found out the secret of overpowering me, and has married my princess, nor can I revenge myself, for he is under the protection of a converted genie, whom the prophet has appointed to watch over him. "I," continued the other Afreet, "have been equally unfortunate with thyself; for the same man who has wedded thy mistress discovered my hidden treasure, and keeps it in spite of my attempts to recover it: but let us fill up this abominable well, which must have been the cause of all our disasters." Having said thus, the two Afreets immediately hurled the terrace and large stones into the well, which crushed the ungrateful and envious Abou Neeuteen to atoms. Some days after this, the good Abou Neeut, finding he did not return, repaired to the well, and seeing it fallen in, ordered it to be cleared; when the discovery of the body proved to him that the malicious spirit of the wretch had been the cause of his own destruction. He with reverence exclaimed, "There is no refuge but with the Almighty; may he preserve us from envy, which is destructive to the envious alone!"

Abou Neeut returned to the capital, where, not long after, his father-in-law the sultan dying, left him heir to his kingdom. His succession was disputed by the husbands of the two elder sisters of his wife; but the ministers and people being in favour of the sultan's will, they resigned their pretensions and submitted to his authority. His wife being brought to bed of a son, her sisters bribed the midwife to pretend that the sultana had produced a dog. They did the same by another son. At the third lying-in of the sultana Abou Neeut resolved to be present, and a beautiful princess appeared. The two infant princes having been thrown at the gate of one of the royal palaces, were taken up by the gardener and his wife, who brought them up as their own. Abou Neeut in visiting the garden with his daughter, who shewed an instinctive affection for them, from this, and their martial play with each other (having made horses of clay, bows and arrows, &c.), was induced to inquire of the gardener whether they were really his own children. The gardener upon this related the circumstance of his having found them exposed at the gate of the palace, and mentioned the times, which agreed exactly with those of the sultana's delivery. Abou Neeut then questioned the midwife, who confessed the imposition and wickedness of the sisters, whom he left to be punished by the pangs of their own consciences, convinced that envy is its own severest tormentor. The young princes were acknowledged; and the good Abou Neeut had the satisfaction of seeing them grow up to follow his example.

ADVENTURE OF A COURTIER, RELATED BY HIMSELF TO HIS PATRON, AN AMEER OF EGYPT.

It is related by an historian that there was an ameer of the land of Egypt, whose mind being one night unusually disturbed, he sent for one of his courtiers, a convivial companion, and said to him, "To-night my bosom, from what cause I know not, is uncommonly restless, and I wish thee to divert me by some amusing narrative." The courtier replied, "To hear is to obey: I will describe an adventure which I encountered in the youthful part of my life."

When a very young man I was deeply in love with a beautiful Arab maiden, adorned by every elegance and grace, who resided with her parents; and I used frequently to visit their camp, for her family was one of the desert tribes. One day my mind felt uncommonly anxious concerning her, and I resolved to seek relief by a visit; but when I reached the spot found neither my beloved nor any of her kindred. I questioned some passengers, who informed me that the family had removed their encampment from scarcity of forage for their herds and camels. I remained for some time on the ground; but observing no signs of their return, my impatience of absence became intolerable, and my love compelled me to travel in search of my charmer. Though the shades of evening were falling, I replaced the saddle upon my camel, put on my vestments, and girding on my sabre proceeded. I had advanced some distance, when the night became dismally black, and from the darkness I now sunk into sands and hollows, and now ascended declivities, while the yells of wild beasts resounded on every quarter. My heart beat with apprehension, and my tongue did not cease to repeat the attributes of the Almighty, our only defender in time of need. At length stupor overcame my senses, and I slept; while my camel quitted the track, and wandered from the route I had meant to pursue all night. Suddenly my head was violently intercepted by the branch of a tree, and I was awakened by the blow, which gave me infinite pain. As I recovered myself I beheld trees, verdure sprinkled with flowers, and a clear rivulet; also a variety of birds, whose notes were melodiously sweet. I alighted from my camel, and laid the bridle on my arm, as the underwood of the thicket was closely entwined.

I did not cease leading my camel till I was out of the thicket, when I remounted; but at a loss which way to go, and unknowing where Providence might direct me, I reached the desert, and cast my eyes over the expanse; when, lo! at length a smoke appeared in the midst of it. I whipped my camel, and at length reached a fire, and near it observed a handsome tent, before which was a standard planted, surrounded by spears, horses picketted, and camels grazing. I said to myself, "What can mean this tent, which has a grand appearance, in so solitary a plain?" I then went to the rear of the tent, and exclaimed, "Health to you, O inhabitants of this tent, and may the Almighty to you be merciful!" Upon this there advanced from it a youth, seemingly about nineteen, who appeared graceful as the rising moon, and valour and benevolence gleamed upon his aspect. He returned my salutation, and said, "Brother Arab, perchance thou hast missed


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