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- The Arabian Nights Entertainments vol. 4 - 60/71 -
shore, where he had disembarked with the magician. On the journey nothing remarkable occurred, and on their arrival at the coast they found a vessel ready to receive them, when the wind proving fair, a short time carried them safely to Bussorah, where Mazin had the satisfaction of finding his mother alive, though greatly wasted with constant grief and lamentation for his loss. To describe the joy of their meeting is impossible, for never was there more tender affeftion between parent and child than subsisted between Mazin and his mother. She seemed to gain new life from his recovery, and again to grow young. The fair genie, who was now in the way of being a mother, appeared perfectly contented in her situation, and Mazin, so unexpectedly restored to his country, was happy in the possession of all he wished; for the generous sisters had bestowed such wealth upon him, that, in addition to the domestic felicity he enjoyed, he was now one of the richest persons in all Bussorah.
Three years had rolled away in undisturbed happiness, during which the fair genie had borne him two sons, when Mazin thought it grateful to perform his promise to the seven sisters, the benevolent foundresses of his good fortune. Having accordingly made preparations for his journey, he committed his wife's native robes to the care of his mother, giving her the key of a secret recess in which he had lodged them, but with a strict charge not to let the genie put them on, lest an irresistible impulse might inspire her to fly away to her own country; for though in general she had seemed contented, he had heard her now and then express a wish to be again with her own friends and species. The mother promised obedience, and Mazin having taken an affectionate leave of her, his wife and children, with assurances of speedy return, embarked on board a vessel and pursued his voyage, which was uncommonly prosperous. On his landing he found camels waiting his arrival on the beach, for the genie ladies, by magic arts, knew of his coming, and had stationed them for his conveyance to their palace, which he reached in safety, and was received with the most aftectionate welcomes and hospitality.
Some time after the departure of Mazin, his wife requested her mother-in-law's permission to amuse herself at a public bath, and the old lady willingly accompanied her and the children to the most celebrated humnaum in the city, which was frequented by the ladies and those of the chief personages of the court, the caliph Haroon al Rusheed then happening to be at Bussorah. When they reached the bath there were then in it some of the principal female slaves, attendants of Zobeide, who, on the entrance of Mazin's wife, were struck with her uncommon beauty, and instantly collecting round her, rapturously gazed upon her as she was undressing.
The slaves of Zobeide did not cease to admire Mazin's wife till she left the hummaum, and even followed her till she entered her own house, when dusk had begun to gloom, and they became apprehensive of their mistress's being displeased at their long absence, and so it happened.
Upon entering into her presence, Zobeide exclaimed, "Where have ye loitered, and what has been the cause of your unusually long stay at the hummaum?" Upon which they looked confusedly at each other, and remained silent. The sultana then said in anger, "Instantly inform me of the cause of your delay!" when they related the wonderful beauty of Mazin's wife, and dwelt so much upon her charms, that Zobeide was overcome by curiosity to behold them. On the follow ing day she sent for the mother of Mazin, who obeyed the summons with fear and trembling, wondering what could have made the caliph's consort desirous of seeing a person of her inferior rank.
Mazin's mother prostrated herself, and kissed the feet of the sultana, who graciously raising her, said, "Am Mazin, our wish is that you introduce to me your son's wife, of whose beauty I have heard such a description, that I long to behold her."
When the mother of Mazin heard these words, her heart sunk within her, she trembled, but dared not refuse the command of Zobeide, and she said, "To hear is to obey!" after which she took leave, with the usual ceremony of prostration before the throne of the sultana.
When the mother of Mazin left the princess Zobeide she returned towards her own house; and when she had reached it. entered to her son's wife, and said, "Our sultana Zobeide hath invited thee to an entertainment." The wife of Mazin was delighted, instantly rose up, arrayed herself in the richest apparel she was mistress of, and dressed her two children in their choicest garments and ornaments Then with them, the mother of her husband, and a black slave, she proceeded, till they reached the palace of the princess Zobeide, which they entered, and found her sitting in impatient expectation. They kissed the ground be fore her, and prayed for her prosperity.
When the sultana Zobeide beheld the wife of Mazin her senses were confounded, her heart fluttered, she was astonished at her beauty, elegance, graceful stature, and blooming complexion, and exclaimed, "Gracious heaven! Where could such a form as this have been created?" Then she seated her guests, and ordered a collation to be brought in, which was done immediately, when they ate and were satisfied, but Zobeide could not keep her eyes from the wife of Mazin of Bussorah. She kissed her, and questioned her concerning what had befallen herself and her husband. Her astonishment was redoubled on the relation of their adventures.
The wife of Mazin then said, "My princess, if you are thus surprised, though you have not seen me in my native robes, how would you be delighted at my appearance in them! If, therefore, you wish to gratify your curiosity by beholding a miracle, you must command the mother of my husband to bring my country dress. "Upon this Zobeide commanded the mother of Mazin to fetch the flying robes, and as she dared not disobey the sultana of the caliph, she went home, and speedily returned with them. Zobeide took them into her hands, examined them, and was surprised at their fashion and texture. At length she gave them to the wife of Mazin.
When the wife of Mazin had received the robes, she unfolded them, and going into the open court of the palace, arrayed herself in them, then taking her children in her arms, mounted with them suddenly into the air. When she had ascended to about the height of sixty feet, she called out to the mother of her husband, saying, "Give my adieu, dear mother, to my lord, and tell him, should ardent love for me affect him he may come to me in the islands of Waak al Waak." After this speech she soared towards the clouds, till she was hidden from their eyes, and speeded to her own country.
When the mother of Mazin beheld her in the air, she beat her cheeks, scattered dust upon her head, and cried aloud to the princess Zobeide, "This is thy mischief." Zobeide was not able to answer or reprove her boldness from the excess of her sorrow and regret, which made her repent, when repentance could not avail. The old lady returned in despair to her own habitation.
Thus it happened to the persons above mentioned, but how was it with the affairs of Mazin? He did not cease travelling for some time, till he arrived at the palace of the seven sisters, and paid his respefts. They were rejoiced at his arrival, and inquired after his wife, when he informed them she was well, and that God had blessed him with two children, both sons, which added to their satisfaction. He remained with them for some time, after which he entreated their permission to depart. They took a tender leave of him, when he bade them farewell, and returned towards his own country; nor did he halt till he arrived in safety at Bussorah. When he entered his house he found his mother alone, mournfully weeping and lamenting what had happened in his absence. Seeing her in this state, he inquired the cause, upon which she informed him of all that had occurred, from the beginning to the conclusion.
When Mazin had heard the unwelcome intelligence, he cried out in an agony of distress for the loss of his wife and children, fell fainting to the ground, and forgot his own existence. His mother, on beholding his condition, beat her cheeks, and sprinkled water upon his face till he came to himself, when he wept and said to his mother, "Inform me what my wife may have spoken on her departure." She repeated her farewell words: upon hearing which his distress and ardent longing for his wife and children was redoubled. He remained mournfully at home for the space of ten days, after which he resolved upon the journey to the islands of Waak al Waak, distant from Bussorah one hundred and fifty years of travel.
Mazin departed from his mother after he had taken leave and entreated her prayers for his success, but the aged matron was so affected that she ordered her tomb to be prepared, and did nothing but weep and lament night and day for her son, who did not halt till he had reached the palace of the seven sisters. When they saw him they were surprised, and said to one another, "There must be some urgent cause for his returning so speedily." They saluted him, and inquired after his affairs: upon which he informed them of the desertion of his wife, what she had said at going away, and of his resolves to travel to the islands of Waak al Waak. The seven ladies replied, "This expedition is impossible to be accomplished either by thee or any of thy race; for these islands are distant a hundred and fifty years' journey, so that thou canst not live to reach them." Mazin exclaimed, "My attempting it, however, is incumbent upon me, though I may perish on the road: if God has decreed my reunion with my wife I shall meet her again; but if not, I shall die and be received into the mercy of the Almighty." The sisters did not cease to importune him to lay aside the journey, but it was impossible for him to obey them or remain at ease; upon which their grief for his situation increased. They knew that the distance was such as he could never overcome by human aid, or rejoin his wife, but they respected his ardent love for her and his children.
On this account they consulted with one another how to assist him on the journey. He remained with them a month, but unable to repose or enjoy their entertainments. The sisters had two uncles, one named Abd al Kuddoos, and the other Abd al Sulleeb, who lived at three months distance from them, to whom they wrote in recommendation of Mazin as follows.
"The bearer is our friend Mazin of Bussorah. If you can direct him how to reach the islands of Waak al Waak, assist him; but if not, prevent him from proceeding, lest he plunge himself into destruction. At present he will not attend to our advice or reproofs, from excess of love to his wife and children, but through you there may finally occur to him safety and success."
When they had sealed this letter they gave it to Mazin, and bestowed also upon him, of water and provisions, what would
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