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- The Arabian Nights Entertainments vol. 4 - 70/71 -

bosom of the child, who uttered loud screams; upon which the assassin, fearful of detection, ran away, and escaped from the house. The cauzee's wife awaking in a fright, alarmed her unhappy hosts, who, striking a light, came to her assistance; but how can we describe their agonizing affliction when they beheld their beloved child expiring, and their unfortunate guest, who had swooned away, bathed in the infant's blood. From such a scene we turn away, as the pen is incapable of description. The unhappy lady at length revived, but their darling boy was gone for ever. Some days after this tragical event she began her pilgrimage, and, as above stated, reached the city where she released the young man from his cruel creditors, and was shortly afterwards ungratefully sold by him as a slave. But to return to the good cauzee and his wicked companions.

They had not travelled far when they overtook a young man, who saluted them, and inquired their course; of which being informed, he begged to join in company, saying, that he also was going to pay his respects to the celebrated religious, in hopes that by her prayers he might obtain pardon of God for a most flagitious ingratitude; the remorse for which had rendered him a burthen to himself ever since the commission of the crime. The four pilgrims pursued their journey, and a few days afterwards overtook the master of a vessel, who told them he had some time back suffered shipwreck; since which he had undergone the severest distress, and was now going to request the aid of the far-famed woman, whose charities and miraculous prayers had been noised abroad through all countries. The companions then invited him to join them, and they proceeded on the pilgrimage together, till at length they reached the capital of the good sultan who protected the cauzee's wife.

The five pilgrims having entered the city, repaired immediately to the abode of the respected devotee; the courts of which were crowded with petitioners from all parts, so that they could with difficulty gain admission. Some of her domestics seeing they were strangers newly arrived, and seemingly fatigued, kindly invited them, into an apartment, and to repose themselves while they informed their mistress of their arrival; which having done, they brought word that she would see them when the crowd was dispersed, and hear their petitions at her leisure. Refreshments were then brought in, of which they were desired to partake, and the pilgrims having make their ablutions, sat down to eat, all the while admiring and praising the hospitality of their pious hostess; who, unperceived by them, was examining their persons and features through the lattice of a balcony, at one end of the hall. Her heart beat with joyful rapture when she beheld her long lost husband, whose absence she had never ceased to deplore, but scarcely expected ever to meet him again; and great was her surprise to find him in company with his treacherous brother, her infamous intending assassin, her ungrateful betrayer the young man, and the master of the vessel to whom he had sold her as a slave. It was with difficulty she restrained her feelings; but not choosing to discover herself till she should hear their adventures, she withdrew into her chamber, and being relieved by tears prostrated herself on the earth, and offered up thanksgivings to the protector of the just, who had rewarded her patience under affliction by succeeding blessings, and at length restored to her the partner of her heart. Having finished her devotions, she sent to the sultan requesting him to send her a confidential officer, who might witness the relations of five visitors whom she was going to examine. On his arrival she placed him where he could listen unseen; and covering herself with a veil, sat down on her stool to receive the pilgrims, who being admitted, bowed their foreheads to the ground; when requesting them to arise, she addressed them as follows: "You are welcome, brethren, to my humble abode, to my counsel and my prayers, which, by God's mercy, have sometimes relieved the repentant sinner; but as it is impossible I can give advice without hearing a case, or pray without knowing the wants of him who entreats me, you must relate your histories with the strictest truth, for equivocation, evasion, or concealment, will prevent my being of any service; and this you may depend upon, that the prayers of a liar tend only to his own destruction." Having said this, she ordered the cauzee to remain, but the other four to withdraw; as she should, to spare their shame before each other, hear their cases separately. The good cauzee having no sins to confess related his pilgrimage to Mecca; the supposed infidelity of his wife; and his consequent resolve to spend his days in visiting sacred places and holy personages, among whom she stood so famous, that to hear her edifying conversation, and entreat the benefit of her prayers for his unhappy wife, was the object of his having travelled to her sacred abode. When he had finished his narrative the lady dismissed him to another chamber, and heard one by one the confessions of his companions; who not daring to conceal any thing, related their cruel conduct towards herself, as above-mentioned; but little suspecting that they were acknowledging their guilt to the intended victim of their evil passions. After this the cauzee's wife commanded the officer to conduct all five to the sultan, and inform him of what he had heard them confess. The sultan, enraged at the wicked behaviour of the cauzee's brother, the camel-driver, the young man, and the master of the vessel, condemned them to death; and the executioner was preparing to put the sentence in force, when the lady arriving at the presence demanded their pardon; and to his unspeakable joy discovered herself to her delighted husband. The sultan complying with her request, dismissed the criminals; but prevailed on the cauzee to remain at his court, where for the remainder of his life this upright judge filled the high office of chief magistrate with honour to himself, and satisfaction to all who had causes tried before him; while he and his faithful partner continued striking examples of virtue and conjugal felicity. The sultan was unbounded in his favour towards them, and would often pass whole evenings in their company in friendly conversation, which generally turned upon the vicissitudes of life, and the goodness of Providence in relieving the sufferings of the faithful, by divine interposition, at the very instant when ready to sink under them and overwhelmed with calamity. "I myself," said the sultan, "am an example of the protection of heaven, as you, my friends, will learn from my adventures." He then began as follows.

The Sultan's Story of Himself.

Though now seated on a throne, I was not born to such exalted rank, but am the son of a rich merchant in a country far distant from this which I now govern. My father brought me up to his own profession; and by instruction and example encouraged me to be virtuous, diligent, and honest. Soon after I had attained to the age of manhood death snatched away this valuable parent, who in his last moments gave me instructions for my future conduct; but particularly requested that nothing might ever prevail upon me to take an oath, though ever so just or necessary to my concerns. I assured him it would not: soon after which he breathed his last, leaving me, my mother, and sister in sincere grief for his loss. After the funeral I examined his property, and found myself in possession of a vast sum of money, besides an ample stock in trade, two-thirds of which I immediately paid to my mother and sister, who retired to a house which they purchased for themselves. Many weeks had not elapsed when a merchant set up a claim on my father's estate for a sum of money equal to nearly the whole that I possessed: I asked him for his bond, but he had none, yet swore solemnly to the justice of his demand. I had no doubt of the falsity of his oath, but as I had promised never to swear, I could not disprove it by mine, and therefore was obliged to pay the money, which I did entirely from my own share, not choosing to distress my mother and sister by lessening theirs. After this, other unjust demands were preferred, and I paid them, rather than falsify my promise to my father, though by so doing I became reduced to the most abject poverty, as still I would not trouble my mother. At length I resolved to quit my native city, and seek for subsistence in a distant country as clerk to a merchant, or in any other way that might offer. I accordingly set out alone, and had travelled some days, when in passing over a sandy desert I met a venerable looking personage dressed in white, who kindly accosting me, inquired the object of my journey: upon which I related my story. The old man blessed me, highly praised the steadfastness of my adherence to the promise I had made to a dying father; and said, "My son, be not dismayed, thy virtuous conduct has been approved by our holy prophet, who has interceded for thee at the throne of bounty: follow me, and reap the reward of thy sufferings." I did as he desired; and we, after some time, reached this city, which was then wholly depopulated, and even this palace in a state of decay. On our entrance my venerable guide bade me welcome, saying, "Here heaven has decreed thee to reign, and thou wilt soon become a powerful sultan." He then conducted me to the palace, and we descended from one of the apartments into a vault, where to my astonishment I beheld vast heaps of gold and silver ingots, large bags of coins of the same metals, and several rich chests filled with jewels of inestimable value, of all which he saluted me master. I was overcome with astonishment; but said, "Of what use is all this wealth in a depopulated city? and how can I be a sultan without subjects?" The old man smiled, and said, "Have patience, my son; this evening a numerous caravan will arrive here composed of emigrants, who are in search of a settlement, and they will elect thee their sovereign." His words proved true; the caravan arrived, when the old man invited them to inhabit the city; his offer was gladly accepted, and by his direction they declared me their sultan. My protector remained with me a whole year, during which he gave me instructions how to govern, and I became what I am. Heaven has prospered my endeavours to do good: the fame of my liberality, justice, and clemency soon spread abroad; the city was soon filled by industrious inhabitants, who repaired the decayed buildings, and erected new ones. The country round became well cultivated, and our port was filled with vessels from every quarter. I shortly after sent for my family, for I had left behind me a wife and two sons; and you may guess from your own joy at meeting after long separation what must have been mine on such an occasion. My venerable patron, at the expiration of the year, one day thus addressed me: "My son, as my mission is completed I must now leave you; but be not alarmed, for provided thou continuest to act as thou hast begun, we shall meet again. Know that I am the prophet Khizzer, and was sent by heaven to protect thee. Mayest thou deserve its blessings!" Having said this he embraced me in his arms, and then vanished, how I know not, from my sight. For some time I continued rapt in astonishment and wonder, which at length gave place to reverential awe and gratitude to heaven; by degrees I recovered myself, and bowed down with fervent devotion. I have endeavoured to follow the admonitions of my holy adviser. It is unnecessary to say more; you see my state and the happiness I enjoy.

The Arabian Nights Entertainments vol. 4 - 70/71

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