The Arabian Nights Entertainments;
One Thousand and One Stories, Told by The Sultaness of the Indies,
To Divert the sultan from the execution of a bloody vow he had made to marry a Lady every day, and have her cut off next morning, to avenge himself of the disloyalty of his first sultaness, &c.
An accurate account of the customs, manners, and religion, of the Eastern nations.
In Two Volumes. Vol. I.
Contents of Volume I.
The story of the genius and the lady shut up in a glass box The fable of the ass, the ox, and the labourer The fable of the dog and the cock The story of the merchant and genius The history of the first old man and the bitch The story of the second old man and the two black dogs The story of the fisherman The story of the Grecian king, and the physician Douban The story of the husband and parrot The story of the vizier that was punished The history of the young king of the black isles The story of the three calenders, sons of kings; and of the five ladies of Bagdad The history of the first calender, a king's son The history of the second calender, a king's son The story of the envious man, and of him whom he envied The history of the third calender, a king's son The story of Zobeide The story of Amine The story of Sindbad the sailor His first voyage His second voyage His third voyage His fourth voyage His fifth voyage His sixth voyage His seventh and last voyage The story of the three apples The story of the young lady that was murdered, and of the young man her husband The story of Nourreddin Ali and Bedreddin Hassan The story of the little hunch-back The story told by the Christian merchant The story told by the sultan of Casgar's purveyor The story told by the Jewish physician The story told by the tailor The story of the barber The story of the barber's eldest brother Of the second Of the third Of the fourth Of the fifth Of the sixth The history of Aboulhassan All Ebn Becar and Schemselnihar, favourite of caliph Haroun Alraschid The story of the amours of Camaralzaman, prince of the isles of the children of Khaledan, and of Badoura, princess of China The history of the princess of China The story of Marzavan, with the sequel of that of the prince Camaralzaman The story of the princess Badoura, after her separation from prince Camaralzaman The story of the princes, Amgrad and Assad The story of prince Amgrad and a lady of the city of the magicians The sequel of the story of prince Assad The story of Nourreddin aad the fair Persian
To The Right Hon. The Lady Marchioness D'o, Lady of Honour to the Duchess of Burgundy.
The great kindnesses I received from M. de Guilleragus, your illustrious father, during my abode at Constantinople some years ago, are too fresh in my mind for me to neglect any opportunity of publishing what I owe to his memory. Were he still alive, for the welfare of France, and my particular advantage, I would take the liberty to dedicate this work to him, not only as my benefactor, but as a person most capable of judging what is fine, and inspiring others with the like sentiments. Every one remembers the wonderful exactness of his judgment;—the meanest of his thoughts had something in them that was shining, and his lowest expressions were always exact and nice, which made every one admire him; for never had any man so much wit and so much solidity. I have seen him, at a time when he was so much taken up with the affairs of his master, that nobody could expect any thing from him but what related to his ministry, and his profound capacity to manage the most knotty negotiations; yet all the weight of his employment diminished nothing of his inimitable pleasantness, which charmed his friends, and was agreeable even to those barbarous nations with whom that great man did treat. After the loss of him, which to me is irreparable, I could not address myself to any other person than yourself, Madam, since you alone can supply the want of him to me; therefore it is that I take the boldness to beg of you the same protection for this book that you was pleased to grant to the French translation of the seven Arabian stories that I had the honour to present you.
You may perhaps wonder, Madam, that I have not since that time presented them to you in print; but the reason of it is, that when I was about putting them to the press, I was informed that those seven stories were taken out of a prodigious collection of stories of the like sort, entitled "One thousand and one nights." This discovery obliged me to suspend the printing of them, and to use my endeavours to get that collection. I was forced to send for it from Syria; and have translated into French this first volume being one of the four that were sent me. These stories will certainly divert you, Madam, much more than those you have already seen. They are new to you, and more in number; you will also perceive, with pleasure, the ingenious design of this anonymous Arabian, who has given us these stories after the manner of his country, fabulous indeed, but very diverting.
I beg, Madam, your acceptance of this small present which I have the honour to make you; it is a public testimony of my acknowledgment of the profound respect with which I am, and shall for ever be,
Your most humble and most obedient servant,
There is no occasion to prepossess the reader with an opinion of the merit and beauty of the following work. There needs no more but to read it to satisfy any man, that hitherto nothing so fine of this nature has appeared in any language.
What can be more ingenious than to compose such a prodigious quantity of pleasant stories, whose variety is surprising, and whose connexion is so wonderful? We know not the name of the author of so great a work; but probably it is not all done by one hand; for how can we suppose that one man alone could have invention enough to make so many fine things?
If stories of this sort be pleasant and diverting, because of the wonders they usually contain, these have certainly the advantage above all that have yet been published; because they are full of surprising events, which engage our attention, and show how much the Arabians surpass other nations in compositions of this sort.
They must also be pleasing, because of the account they give of the customs and manners of the eastern nations, and of the ceremonies of their religion, as well Pagan as Mahometan, which are better described here than in any author that has written of them, or in the relation of travellers. All the eastern nations, Persians, Tartars, and Indians, are here distinguished, and appear such as they are, from the sovereign to the meanest subject; so that, without the fatigue of going to see those people in their respective countries, the reader has here the pleasure to see them act, and hear them speak. Care has been taken to preserve their characters, and to keep their sense; nor have we varied from the text, but when modesty obliged us to it. The translator flatters himself, that those who understand Arabic, and will be at the pains to compare the original with the translation, must agree that he has showed the Arabians to the French with all the circumspection that the niceness of the French tongue and of the times require; and if those who read these stories have any inclination to profit by the example of virtue and vice which they will here find exhibited, they may reap an advantage by it that is not to be reaped in other stories, which are more fit to corrupt than to reform our manners.
I have read, by order of my Lord Chancellor, this manuscript, and find nothing in it that should hinder its being printed.
Paris, October 4. 1706.
Arabian Nights Entertainments.
The chronicles of the Susanians, the ancient kings of Persia, who extended their empire into the Indies, over all the islands thereunto belonging, a great way beyond the Ganges, and as far as China, acquaint us, that there was formerly a king of that potent family, the most excellent prince of his time; he was as much beloved by his subjects for his wisdom and prudence, as he was dreaded by his neighbours because of his valour, and his warlike and well-disciplined troops. He had two sons; the eldest Schahriar, the worthy heir of his father, and endowed with all his virtues. The youngest, Schahzenan, was likewise a prince of incomparable merit.
After a long and glorious reign, the king died; and Schahriar mounted his throne. Schahzenan being excluded from all share of the government by the laws of the empire, and obliged to live a private life, was so far from envying the happiness of his brother, that he made it his whole business to please him, and effected it without much difficulty. Schahriar, who had naturally a great affection for that prince, was so charmed with his complaisance, that, out of an excess of friendship, he would needs divide his dominions with him, and gave him the kingdom of Great Tartary: Schahzenan went immediately and took possession of it, and fixed the seat of his government at Samarcande, the metropolis of the country,
After they had been separated ten years, Schahriar, having a passionate desire to see his brother, resolved to send an embassador to invite him to his court. He made choice of his prime vizier for the embassy, sent him to Tartary with a retinue answerable to his dignity, and he made all possible haste to Samarcande. When he came near the city, Schahzenan had notice of it, and went to meet him with the principal lords of his court; who, to put the more honour on the sultan's minister, appeared in magnificent apparel. The king of Tartary received the embassador with the greatest demonstrations of joy, and immediately asked him concerning the welfare of the sultan, his brother. The vizier, having acquainted him that he was in health, gave him an account of his embassy. Schahzenan was so much affected with it, that he answered thus:—"Sage vizier, the sultan, my brother, does me too much honour; he could propose nothing in the world more acceptable; I long as passionately to see him as he does to see me. Time has been no more able to diminish my friendship than his. My kingdom is in peace, and I desire no more than ten days to get myself ready to go with you; so that there is no necessity of your entering the city for so short a time; I pray you to pitch your tents here, and I will order provisions in abundance for yourself and company."
The vizier did accordingly; and as soon as the king returned, he sent him a prodigious quantity of provisions of all sorts, with presents of great value.
In the mean while, Schahzenan made ready for his journey, took orders about his most important affairs, appointed a council to govern in his absence, and named a minister, of whose wisdom he had sufficient experience, and in whom he had entire confidence, to be their president. At the end of ten days, his equipage being ready, he took his leave of the queen, his wife, and went out of town in the evening with his retinue, pitching his royal pavilion near the vizier's tent, and discoursed with that embassador till midnight. But willing once more to embrace the queen, whom he loved entirely, he returned alone to his palace, and went straight to her majesty's apartment; who, not expecting his return, had taken one of the meanest officers of the household to her bed, where they lay both fast asleep, having been in bed a considerable while.
The king entered without any noise and pleased himself to think how he should surprise his wife, who, he thought, loved him as entirely as he did her; but how strange was his surprise, when, by the light of the flambeaus, which burn all night in the apartments of those eastern princes, he saw a man in her arms! He stood immovable for a time, not knowing how to believe his own eyes; but finding it was not to be doubted, How! says he to himself, I am scarce out of my palace, and but just under the walls of Samarcande, and dare they put such an outrage upon me? All! perfidious wretches, your crime shall not go unpunished. As king, I am to punish wickednesses committed in my dominions; and, as an enraged husband, I must sacrifice you to my just resentment. In a word, this unfortunate prince, giving way to his rage, drew his scimitar, and, approaching the bed, killed them both with one blow, turning their sleep into death, and afterwards taking them up, threw them out of a window into the ditch that surrounded the palace.
Having avenged himself thus, he went out of town privately as he came into it; and returning to his pavilion, without saying one word of what had happened, he ordered the tents to be struck, and to make ready for his journey. This was speedily done, and before day he began his march, with kettle-drums and other instruments of music, that filled every one with joy, except the king, who was so much troubled at the disloyalty of his wife, that he was seized with extreme melancholy, which preyed upon him during his whole journey.
When he drew near the capital of the Indies, the sultan Schahriar, and all his court, came out to meet him; the princes were overjoyed fo see one another; and alighting, after mutual embraces, and other marks of affection and respect, they mounted again, and entered the city, with the acclamations of vast multitudes of people. The sultan conducted his brother to the palace he had provided for him, which had a communication with his own by means of a garden; and was so much the more magnificent, for it was set apart as a banqueting-house for public entertainment, and other diversions of the court, and the splendour of it had been lately augmented by new furniture.
Schahriar immediately left the king of Tartary, that he might give him time to bathe himself, and to change his apparel; and as soon as he had done, he came to him again, and they sat down together upon a sofa or alcove. The courtiers kept a distance, out of respect; and those two princes entertained one another suitably to their friendship, their nearness of blood, and the long separation that had been betwixt them. The time of supper being come, they ate together; after which they renewed their conversation, which continued till Schahriar, perceiving it was very late, left his brother to his rest.
The unfortunate Schahzenan went to bed; and though the conversation of his brother had suspended his grief for some time, it returned upon him with more violence; so that, instead of taking his necessary rest, he tormented himself with cruel reflections. All the circumstances of his wife's disloyalty represented themselves afresh to his imagination in so lively a manner, that he was like one beside himself. In a word, not being able to sleep, he got up, and giving himself over to afflicting thoughts, they made such an impression upon his countenance, that the sultan could not but take notice of it, and said thus to himself: "What can be the matter with the king of Tartary, that he is so melancholy; has he any cause to complain of his reception? No, surely; I have received him as a brother whom I love, so that I can charge myself with no omission in that respect. Perhaps it grieves him to be at such a distance from his dominions, or from the queen, his wife: Alas! if that be the matter, I must forthwith give him the presents I designed for him, that he may return to Samarcande when he pleases.' Accordingly, next day Schahriar sent him a part of those presents, being the greatest rarities and the richest things that the Indies could afford. At the same time he endeavoured to divert his brother every day by new objects of pleasure, and the finest treats, which, instead of giving the king of Tartary any ease, did only increase his sorrow.
One day, Schahriar having appointed a great hunting-match, about two days journey from his capital, in a place that abounded with deer, Schahzenan prayed him to excuse him, for his health would not allow him to bear him company. The sultan, unwilling to put any constraint upon him, left him at his liberty, and went a hunting with his nobles. The king of Tartary, being thus left alone, shut himself up in his apartment, and sat down at a window that looked into the garden. That delicious place, and the sweet harmony of an infinite number of birds, which chose it for a place of retreat, must certainly have diverted him, had he been capable of taking pleasure in any thing; but, being perpetually tormented with the fatal remembrance of his queen's infamous conduct, his eyes were not so often fixed upon the garden, as lifted up to heaven to bewail his misfortune.
Whilst he was thus swallowed up with grief, an object presented itself to his view, which quickly turned all his thoughts another way. A secret gate of the sultan's palace opened all of a sudden, and there came out at it twenty women, in the midst of whom marched the sultaness, who was easily distinguished from the rest by her majestic air. This princess, thinking that the king of Tartary was gone a hunting with his brother the sultan, came up with her retinue near the windows of his apartment; for the prince had placed himself so that he could see all that passed in the garden without being perceived himself. He observed that the persons who accompanied the sultaness threw off their veils and long robes, that they might be at more freedom; but was wonderfully surprised when he saw ten of them to be blacks, and that each of them took his mistress. The sultaness, on her part, was not long without her gallant. She clapped her hands, and called out Masoud, Masoud, and immediately a black came down from a tree, and ran to her in all haste.
Modesty will not allow, nor is it necessary to relate, what passed betwixt the blacks and ladies. It is sufficient to say, that Schahzenan saw enough to convince him that his brother had as much cause to complain as himself. This amorous company continued together till midnight and having bathed all together in a great pond, which was one of the chief ornaments of the garden, they dressed themselves, and re-entered the palace, by the secret door, all except Masoud, who climbed up his tree, and got over the garden-wall the same way as he came.
All this having passed in the king of Tartary's sight, it gave him occasion to make a multitude of reflections. How little reason had I, says he, to think that no one was so unfortunate as myself? It is certainly the unavoidable fate of all husbands, since the sultan, my brother, who is sovereign of so many dominions, and the greatest prince of the earth, could not escape it. The case being so, what a fool am I to kill myself with grief? I will throw it off, and the remembrance of a misfortune so common shall never after this disturb my quiet. So that, from that moment, he forebore afflicting himself. Being unwilling to sup till he saw the whole scene that was acted under his window, he called then for his supper, ate with a better appetite than he had done at any time after his coming to Samarcande, and listened with pleasure to the agreeable concert of vocal and instrumental music that was appointed to entertain him while at table.
He continued after this to be of a very good humour; and when he knew that the sultan was returning, he went to meet him, and paid him his compliments with a great deal of gaiety. Schahriar at first took no notice of this great alteration, but expostulated with him modestly, why he would not bear him company at hunting the stag; and, without giving him time to reply, entertained him with the great number of deer and other game they had killed, and what pleasure he had in the sport. Schahzenan heard him with attention, gave answers to every thing, and being rid of that melancholy which formerly over-clouded his wit, he said a thousand agreeable and pleasant things to the sultan.
Schahriar, who expected to have found him in the same condition as he left him, was overjoyed to see him so cheerful, and spoke to him thus: Dear brother, I return thanks to Heaven for the happy change it has made on you during my absence; I am extremely rejoiced at it; but I have a request to make to you, and conjure you not to deny me. I can refuse you nothing, replies the king of Tartary; you may command Schahzenan as you please; pray speak, I am impatient to know what you desire of me. Ever since you came to my court, replies Schahriar, I found you swallowed up by a deep melancholy, and I did in vain attempt to remove it by diversions of all sorts. I imagined it might be occasioned by reason of the distance from your dominions, or that love might have a great share in it; and that the queen of Samarcande, who, no doubt, is an accomplished beauty, might be the cause of it. I do not know if I be mistaken; but I must own that this was the peculiar reason why I did not importune you upon the subject, for fear of making you uneasy. But, without my being able to contribute any thing towards it, I find now, upon my return, that you are in the best humour that can be, and that your mind is entirely delivered from that black vapour which disturbed it. Pray do me the favour to tell me why you were so melancholy, and how you came to be rid of it.
Upon this, the king of Tartary continued for some time as if he had been in a dream, and contrived what he should answer; but at last replied as follows: You are my sultan and master; but excuse me, I beseech you, from answering your question. No, dear brother, said the sultan, you must answer, I will take no denial. Schahzenan, not being able to withstand these pressing instances, answered, Well, then, brother, I will satisfy you, since you command me; and, having told him the story of the queen of Samarcande's treachery, this, says he, was the cause of my grief; pray judge whether I had not reason enough to give myself up to it.
Oh! my brother, says the sultan, (in a tone which showed that he had the same sentiments of the matter with the king of Tartary,) what a horrible story do you tell me! How impatient was I till I heard it out! I commend you for punishing the traitors who put such an outrage upon you. Nobody can blame you for that action: it was just; and for my part, had the case been mine, I could scarce have been so moderate as you, I should not have satisfied myself with the life of one woman; I verily think I should have sacrificed a thousand to my fury. I cease now to wonder at your melancholy. The cause of it was too sensible, and too mortifying, not to make you yield to it. O heaven! what a strange adventure! nor do I believe the like of it ever befel any man but yourself. But, in short, I must bless God, who has comforted you; and since I doubt not but your consolation is well grounded, be so good as let me know what it is, and conceal nothing from me. Schahzenan was not so easily prevailed upon in this point as he had been in the other, because of his brother's concern in it; but, being obliged to yield to his pressing instances, answered, I must obey you then, since your command is absolute; yet am afraid that my obedience will occasion your trouble to be greater than ever mine was. But you must blame yourself for it, since you force me to reveal a thing which I should have otherwise buried in eternal oblivion. What you say, answers Schahriar, serves only to increase my curiosity. Make haste to discover the secret, whatever it may be. The king of Tartary, being no longer able to refuse, gave him the particulars of all that he had seen of the blacks in disguise, of the lewd passion of the sultaness and her ladies; and, to be sure, he did not forget Masoud. After having been witness to those infamous actions, says he, I believed all women to be that way naturally inclined, and that they could not resist those violent desires. Being of this opinion, it seemed to me to be an unaccountable weakness in men to make themselves uneasy at their infidelity. This reflection brought many others along with it; and, in short, I thought the best thing I could do was to make myself easy. It cost me some pain indeed, but at last I effected it; and, if you will take my advice, you shall follow my example.
Though the advice was good, the sultan could not take it, but fell into a rage. What! says he, is the sultaness of the Indies capable of prostituting herself in so base a manner? No, brother, I cannot believe what you say,—unless I saw it with my eyes: yours must needs have deceived you; the matter is so important, that I must be satisfied of it myself. Dear brother, answers Schahzenan, that you may without much difficulty. Appoint another hunting-match, and when we are out of town with your court and mine, we will stop under our pavilions, and at night let you and I return alone to my apartment. I am certain that next day you will see what I saw. The sultan, approving the stratagem, immediately appointed a new hunting-match; and that same day the pavilions were set up at the place appointed.
Next day the two princes set out with all their retinue; they arrived at the place of encampment, and staid there till night. Then Schahriar called his grand vizier, and, without acquainting him of his design, commanded him to stay in his place during his absence, and to suffer no person to go out of the camp upon any occasion whatever. As soon as he had given this order, the king of Grand Tartary and he took horse, passed through the camp incognito, returned to the city, and went to Schahzenan's apartment. They had scarce placed themselves in the same window where the king of Tartary had seen the disguised blacks act their scene, but the secret gate opened, the sultaness and her ladies entered the garden with the blacks, and she having called upon Masoud, the sultan saw more than enough to convince him plainly of his dishonour and misfortune.
O heavens! cried he, what indignity! what horror! Can the wife of a sovereign, such as I am, be capable of such an infamous action? After this let no prince boast of his being perfectly happy. Alas! my brother, continues he, (embracing the king of Tartary,) let us both renounce the world; honesty is banished out of it; if it flatter us the one day, it betrays us the next; let us abandon our dominions and grandeur; let us go into foreign countries, where we may lead an obscure life, and conceal our misfortune. Schahzenan did not at all approve of such a resolution, but did not think fit to contradict Schahriar in the heat of his passion. Dear brother, says he, your will shall be mine; I am ready to follow you whither you please; but promise that you will return, if we can meet with any one that is more unhappy than ourselves. I agree to it, says the sultan, but doubt much whether we shall. I am not of your mind in this, replied the king of Tartary; I fancy our journey will be but short. Having said this, they went secretly out of the palace by another way than they came. They travelled as long as it was day, and lay the first night under the trees; and getting up about break of day, they went on till they came to a fine meadow upon the banks of the sea, in which meadow there were tufts of great trees at some distance from one another. They sat down under those trees to rest and refresh themselves, and the chief subject of their conversation was the lewdness of their wives.
They had not sat long, before they heard a frightful noise, and a terrible cry from the sea, which filled them with fear; then the sea opening, there rose up a thing like a great black column, which reached almost to the clouds. This redoubled their fear, made them rise speedily, and climb up into a tree to hide themselves. They had scarce got up, till, looking to the place from whence the voice came, and where the sea opened, they observed that the black column advanced, winding about towards the shore, cleaving the water before it. They could not at first think what it should be; but in a little time they found that it was one of those malignant genie that are mortal enemies to mankind, and always doing them mischief. He was black, frightful, had the shape of a giant, of a prodigious stature, and carried on his head a great glass box, shut with four locks of fine steel. He entered the meadow with his burden, which he laid down just at the foot of the tree where the two princes were, who looked upon themselves to be dead men. Meanwhile the genie sat down by his box, and opening it with four keys that he had at his girdle, there came out a lady magnificently apparelled, of a majestic stature, and a complete beauty. The monster made her sit down by him; and eying her with an amorous look, Lady (says he) nay, most accomplished of all ladies who are admired for their beauty my charming mistress, whom I carried off on your wedding-day, and have loved so constantly ever since, let me sleep a few moments by you; for I found myself so very sleepy, that I came to this place to take a little rest. Having spoken thus, he laid down his huge head on the lady's knees; and stretching out his legs, which reached as far as the sea, he fell asleep, and snored so, that he made the banks to echo again.
The lady, happening at the same time to look up to the tree, saw the two princes and made a sign to them with her hand to come down without making any noise. Their fear was extraordinary when they found themselves discovered, and they prayed the lady, by other signs, to excuse them; but she, after having laid the monster's head softly down, rose up, and spoke to them with a low but quick voice to come down to her; she would take no denial. They made signs to her that they were afraid of the genie, and would fain have been excused. Upon which she ordered them to come down, and, if they did not make haste, threatened to awake the giant, and bid him kill them.
These words did so much intimidate the princes, that they began to come down with all possible precaution, lest they should awake the genie. When they came down, the lady took them by the hand, and going a little farther with them under the trees, made a very urgent proposal to them. At first they rejected it, but she obliged them to accept it by her threats. Having obtained what she desired, she perceived that each of them had a ring on his finger, which she demanded of them. As soon as she received them, she went and took a box out of the bundle, where her toilet was, pulled out a string of other rings of all sorts, which she showed them, and asked them if they knew what those jewels meant? No, say they, we hope you will be pleased to tell us. They are, replies she, the rings of all the men to whom I have granted my favour; There are full fourscore and eighteen of them, which I keep in token to remember them; and asked yours for the same reason, to make up my hundred. So that, continues she, I have had a hundred gallants already, notwithstanding the vigilance of this wicked genie, that never leaves me. He is much the nearer for locking me up in this glass box, and hiding me in the bottom of the sea; I find a way to cheat him for all his care. You may see by this, that when a woman has formed a project, there is no husband or gallant that can hinder her from putting it in execution. Men had better not put their wives under such restraint, if they have a mind they should be chaste. Having spoken thus to them, she put their rings upon the same string with the rest, and, sitting down by the monster as before, laid his head again upon her lap, and made a sign for the princes to be gone.
They returned immediately by the same way they came; and when they were out of sight of the lady and the genie, Schahriar says to Schahzenan, Well, brother, what do you think of this adventure? has not the genie a very faithful mistress? And do not you agree that there is no wickedness equal to that of women? Yes, brother, answers the king of Great Tartary; and you must. agree that the monster is more unfortunate, and has more reason to complain, than we. Therefore, since we have found what we sought for, let us return to our dominions, and let not this hinder us to marry again. For my part, I know a method by which I think I shall keep inviolable the faith that any woman shall plight to me. I shall say no more of it at present, but you will hear of it in a little time, and I am sure you will follow my example. The sultan agreed with his brother; and, continuing their journey, they arrived in the camp the third night after they left it.
The news of the sultan's return being spread, the courtiers came betimes in the morning before his pavilion to wait on him. He ordered them to enter, received them with a more pleasant air than formerly, and gave each of them a gratification; after which he told them he would go no further, ordered them to take horse, and returned speedily to his palace.
As soon as he arrived, he ran to the sultaness's apartment, commanded her to be bound before him, and delivered her to his grand vizier, with an order to strangle her; which was accordingly executed by that minister, without inquiring into her crime. The enraged prince did not stop here; he cut off the heads of all the sultaness's ladies with his own hand. After this rigorous punishment, being persuaded that no woman was chaste, he resolved, in order to prevent the disloyalty of such as he should afterwards marry, to wed one every night, and have her strangled next morning. Having imposed this cruel law upon himself, he swore that he would observe it immediately after the departure of the king of Tartary, who speedily took leave of him, and, being loaded with magnificent presents, set forward on his journey.
Schahzenan being gone, Schahriar ordered his grand vizier to bring him the daughter of one of his generals. The vizier obeyed; the sultan lay with her, and, putting her next morning into his hands in order to be strangled, commanded him to get another next night. Whatever reluctance the vizier had to put such orders in execution, as he owed blind obedience to the sultan his master, he was forced to submit. He brought him then the daughter of a subaltern, whom he also cut off the next day. After her, he brought a citizen's daughter; and, in a word, there was every day a maid married, and a wife murdered.
The rumour of this unparalleled barbarity occasioned a general consternation in the city, where there was nothing but crying and lamentation. Here a father in tears, and inconsolable for the loss of his daughter; and there tender mothers, dreading lest theirs should have the same fate, making the air to resound beforehand with their groans; so that, instead of the commendations and blessings which the sultan had hitherto received from his subjects, their mouths were now filled with imprecations against him.
The grand vizier, who, as has been already said, was the executioner of this horrid injustice against his will, had two daughters, the eldest called Scheherazade, and the youngest Dinarzade: the latter was a lady of very great merit; but the elder had courage, wit, and penetration, infinitely above her sex; she had read abundance, and had such a prodigious memory that she never forgot any thing. She had successfully applied herself to philosophy, physic, history, and the liberal arts, and for verse exceeded, the best poets of her times; besides this, she was a perfect beauty, and all her fine qualifications were crowned by solid virtue.
The vizier passionately loved a daughter so worthy of his tender affection; and one day, as they were discoursing together, she says to him, Father, I have one favour to beg of you, and must humbly pray you to grant it me. I will not refuse it, answered he, provided it be just and reasonable. For the justice of it, says she, there can be no question, and you may judge of it by the motive which obliges me to demand it of you. I have a design to stop the course of that barbarity which the sultan exercises upon the families of this city. I would dispel those unjust fears which so many mothers have of losing their daughters in such a fatal manner. Your design, daughter, replies the vizier, is very commendable; but the disease you would remedy seems to be incurable; how do you pretend to effect it? Father, says Scheherazade, since by your means the sultan makes every day a new marriage, I conjure you, by the tender affection you bear to me, to procure me the honour of his bed. The vizier could not hear this without horror. O heavens! replies he, in a passion, have you lost your senses, daughter, that you make such a dangerous request to me? You know the sultan has sworn by his soul that he will never lie above one night with the same woman, and to order her to be killed the next morning; and would you that I should propose you to him? Pray consider well to what your indiscreet zeal will expose you. Yes, dear father, replies the virtuous daughter, I know the risk I run; but that does not frighten me. If I perish, my death will be glorious; and if I succeed, I shall do my country an important piece of service. No, no, says the vizier, whatever you can represent to engage me to let you throw yourself into that horrible danger, do not you think that ever I will agree to it. When the sultan shall order me to strike my poignard into your heart, alas! I must obey him; and what a dismal employment is that for a father? Ah! if you do not fear death, yet at least be afraid of occasioning me the mortal grief of seeing my hand stained with your blood. Once more, father, says Scheherazade, grant me the favour I beg. Your stubbornness, replies the vizier, will make me angry; why will you run headlong to your ruin? They that do not foresee the end of a dangerous enterprise can never bring it to a happy issue. I am afraid the same thing will happen to you that happened to the ass, which was well, and could not keep itself so. What misfortune befel the ass? replies Scheherazade. I will tell you, says the vizier, if you will hear me.
The Ox, the Ass, and the Labourer.
A very rich merchant had several country-houses, where he had abundance of cattle of all sorts. He went with his wife and family to one of those estates, in order to improve it himself. He had the gift of understanding the language of beasts, but with this condition, that he should interpret it to nobody on pain of death; and this hindered him from communicating to others what he had learned by means of this gift.
He had in the same stall an ox and an ass; and one day as he sat near them, and diverted himself to see his children play about, him, he heard the ox say to the ass, Sprightly, O how happy do I think you, when I consider the ease you enjoy, and the little labour that is required of you! you are carefully rubbed down and washed; you have well-dressed corn, and fresh clean water. Your greatest business is to carry the merchant, our master, when he has any little journey to make; and, were it not for that, you would be perfectly idle. I am treated in a quite different manner, and my condition is as unfortunate as yours is pleasant. It is scarce day-light when I am fastened to a plough, and there they make me work till night, to till up the ground, which fatigues me so, that sometimes my strength fails me. Besides, the labourer, who is always behind me, beats me continually. By drawing the plough my tail is all flead; and, in short, after having laboured from morning till night, when I am brought in, they give me nothing to eat but sorry dry beans, not so much as cleaned from sand, or other things as pernicious; and, to heighten my misery, when I have filled my belly with such ordinary stuff, I am forced to lie all night in my own dung; so that you see I have reason to envy your lot.
The ass did not interrupt the ox, till he had said all that he had a mind to say; but, when he had made an end, answered, They that call you a foolish beast do not lie; you are too simple, you let them carry you whither they please, and show no manner of resolution. In the mean time, what advantage do you reap by all the indignities you suffer? You kill yourself for the ease, pleasure, and profit of those that give you no thanks for so doing. But they would not treat you so, if you had as much courage as strength.
When they come to fasten you to the stall, why do not you make resistance? why do not you strike them with your horns, and show that you are angry by striking your foot against the ground? and, in short, why do not you frighten them by bellowing aloud? Nature has furnished you with means to procure you respect, but you do not make use of them. They bring you sorry beans and bad straw; eat none of them; only smell them, and leave them. If you follow the advice I give you, you will quickly find a change, for which you will thank me. The ox took the ass's advice in very good part, and owned he was very much obliged to him for it.
Dear Sprightly, adds he, I will not fail to do all that you have said, and you shall see how I shall acquit myself. They held their peace after this discourse, of which the merchant heard every word.
Next morning betimes the labourer came to take the ox; he fastened him to the plough, and carried him to his ordinary work. The ox, who had not forgotten the ass's counsel, was very troublesome and untoward all that day; and in the evening, when the labourer brought him back to the stall, and began to fasten him to it, the malicious beast, instead of presenting his horns willingly as he used to do, was restive, and went backward bellowing, and then made at the labourer as if he would have pushed him with his horns; in a word, he did all that the ass advised him to. Next day the labourer came, as usual, to take the ox to his labour; but, finding the stall full of beans, the straw that he put in the night before not touched, and the ox lying on the ground with his legs stretched out, and panting in a strange manner, he believed him to he sick, pitied him, and thinking; that it was not proper to carry him to work, went immediately and acquainted the merchant with it; who, perceiving that the ox had followed all the mischievous advices of the ass, whom he thought fit to punish for it, ordered the labourer to go and put the ass in the ox's place, and to be sure to work him hard. The labourer did so: the ass was forced to draw the plough all that day; which fatigued him so much the more, as he was not accustomed to that sort of labour; besides, he had been so soundly beaten, that he could scarcely stand when he came back.
Meanwhile the ox was mightily pleased; he ate up all that was in his stall, and rested himself the whole day. He was glad at the heart that he had followed the ass's advice, blessed him a thousand times for it, and did not fail to compliment him upon it when he saw him come back. The ass answered him not one word, so vexed was he to be so ill treated; but says within himself, it is by my own imprudence I have brought this misfortune upon myself; I lived happily, every thing smiled upon me. I had all that I could wish, it is my own fault that I am brought to this miserable condition, and if I cannot contrive some way to get out of it, I am certainly undone; and as he spoke thus, his strength was so much exhausted, that he fell down at his stall, as if he had been half dead.
Here the grand visier addressed himself to Scheherazade, and said, Daughter, you do like the ass; you will expose yourself to destruction by your false prudence. Take my advice; be easy, and do not take such measures as will hasten your death. Father, replies Scheherazade, the example you bring me is not capable of making me change my resolution; I will never cease importuning you until you present me to the sultan to be his bride. The vizier, perceiving that she persisted in her demand, replied, Alas, then! since you will continue obstinate, I shall be obliged to treat you in the same manner as the merchant I named treated his wife in a little time after.
The merchant, understanding that the ass was in a lamentable condition, was curious to know what passed betwixt him and the ox; therefore, after supper, he went out by moon-light, and sat down by them, his wife bearing him company. When he arrived, he heard the ass say to the ox, Comrade, tell me, I pray you, what you intend to do to-morrow, when the labourer brings you meat? What will I do? says the ox: I will continue to do as you taught me. I will go off from him, and threaten him with my horns, as I did yesterday; I will feign myself to be sick, and just ready to die. Beware of that, replies the ass, it will ruin you: for as I came home this evening, I heard the merchant, our master, say something that makes me tremble for you. Alas! what did you hear? says the ox; as you love me, hide nothing from me, my dear Sprightly. Our master, replied the ass, had these sad expressions to the labourer: Since the ox does not eat, and is not able to work, I would have him killed tomorrow, and we will give his flesh as an alms to the poor for God's sake; as for his skin, that will be of use to us, and I would have you give it to the currier to dress; therefore do not fail to send for the butcher. This is what I had to tell you, says the ass. The concern I have for your preservation, and my friendship for you, obliged me to let you know it, and to give you new advice. As soon as they bring you your bran and straw, rise up and eat heartily. Our master will, by this, think that you are cured, and no doubt will recal his orders for killing you; whereas, if you do otherwise, you are certainly gone.
This discourse had the effect which the ass designed. The ox was strangely troubled at it, and bellowed out for fear. The merchant, who heard the discourse very attentively, fell into such a fit of laughter, that his wife was surprised at it, and said, Pray, husband, tell me what you laugh at so heartily, that I may laugh with you. Wife, said he, you must content yourself with hearing me laugh. No, replies she, I will know the reason. I cannot give you that satisfaction, answers he, but only that I laugh at what our ass just now said to our ox. The rest is a secret, which I am not allowed to reveal. And what hinders you from revealing the secret, says she? If I tell it you, answers he, it will cost me my life. You only jeer me, cried his wife; what you tell me now cannot be true. If you do not satisfy me presently with what you laugh at, and tell me what the ox and ass said to one another, I swear by Heaven that you and I shall never bed together again.
Having spoken thus, she went into the house in a great fret, and, setting herself in a corner, cried there all night. Her husband lay alone, and finding next morning that she continued in the same humour, told her she was a very foolish woman to afflict herself in that manner, the thing was not worth so much; and that it concerned her as little to know the matter, as it concerned him so much to keep it secret; therefore I conjure you to think no more of it. I shall still think so much of it, says she, as never to forbear weeping till you have satisfied my curiosity. But I tell you very seriously, replied he, that it will cost me my life, if I yield to your indiscretion. Let what will happen, says she, I do insist upon it. I perceive, says the merchant, that it is impossible to bring you to reason; and since I foresee that you will occasion your own death by your obstinacy, I will call in your children, that they may see you before you die. Accordingly he called for them, and sent for her father and mother, and other relations. When they were come, and heard the reason of their being called, they did all they could to convince her that she was in the wrong, but to no purpose: she told them she would rather die than yield that point to her husband. Her father and mother spoke to her by herself, and told her that what she desired to know was of no importance to her; but that could gain nothing upon her, either by their authority or entreaties. When her children saw that nothing could prevail to bring her out of that sullen temper, they wept bitterly. The merchant himself was like a man out of his senses, and was almost ready to risk his own life to save that of his wife, whom he loved dearly.
Now, my daughter, says the vizier to Scheherazade, this merchant had fifty hens, and a cock, with a dog that gave good heed to all that passed; and while the merchant was set down, as I said, and considering what he had best do, he sees the dog run towards the cock, as he was treading a hen, and heard him speak to him thus: Cock, says he, I am sure Heaven will not let you live long; are you not ashamed to do that thing to-day? The cock, standing up on tip-toe, answers the dog fiercely, And why should I not do it to-day as well as other days? As you do not know, replies the dog, then I tell you that this day our master is in great perplexity. His wife would have him reveal a secret, which is of such a nature, that it will cost him his life if he doth it. Things are come to that pass, that it is to be feared he will scarcely have resolution enough to resist his wife's obstinacy; for, he loves her, and is affected with the tears that she continually sheds, and perhaps it may cost him his life. We are all alarmed at it, and you only insult our melancholy, and have the imprudence to divert yourself with your hens.
The cock answered the dog's reproof thus: What! has our master so little sense? he has but one wife, and cannot govern her; and though I have fifty, I make them all do what I please. Let him make use of his reason, he will speedily find a way to rid himself of his trouble. How, says the dog,, what would you have him to do? Let him go into the room where his wife is, says the cock, lock the door, and take a good stick, and thrash her well, and I will answer for it that that will bring her to her right wits, and make her forbear to ask him any more what he ought not to tell her. The merchant had no sooner heard what the cock said, than he took up a good stick, went to his wife, whom he found still a crying, and, shutting the door, belaboured her so soundly, that she cried out, "It is enough, husband, it is enough, let me alone, and I will never ask the question more." Upon this, perceiving that she repented of her impertinent curiosity, he forbore drubbing her; and, opening the door, her friends came in, were glad to find her cured of her obstinacy, and complimented her husband upon this happy expedient to bring his wife to reason. Daughter, adds the grand vizier, you deserve to be treated as the merchant treated his wife.
Father, replies Scheherazade, I beg you will not take it ill that I persist in my opinion. I am nothing moved by the story of that woman; I can tell you abundance of others to persuade you that you ought not to oppose my design. Besides, pardon me for declaring to you that your opposing me would be in vain; for if your paternal affection should hinder you to grant my request, I would go and offer myself to the sultan. In short, the father being overcome by the resolution of his daughter, yielded to her importunity; and though he was very much grieved that he could not divert her from such a fatal resolution, he went that minute to acquaint the sultan that next night he would bring him Scheherazade.
The sultan was much surprised at the sacrifice which the grand vizier made to him. How could you resolve, says he, to bring me your own daughter? Sir, answers the vizier, it is her own offer. The sad destiny that attends it could not scare her; she prefers the honour of being your majesty's wife for one night to her life. But do not mistake yourself, vizier, says the sultan; to-morrow, when I put Scheherazade into your hands, I expect you shall take away her life; and, if you fail, I swear that yourself shall die. Sir, rejoins the vizier, my heart, without doubt will be full of grief to execute your commands; but it is to no purpose for nature to murmur; though I be her father I will answer for the fidelity of my hand to obey your order. Schahriar accepted his minister's offer, and told him he might bring his daughter when he pleased.
The grand vizier went with the news to Scheherazade, who received it with as much joy as if it had been the most agreeable thing in the world; she thanked her father for having obliged her in so sensible a manner; and, perceiving that he was overwhelmed with grief, she told him, in order to his consolation, that she hoped he would never repent his having married her to the sultan; but that, on the contrary, he should have cause to rejoice at it all his days.
All her business was to put herself in a condition to appear before the sultan; but, before she went, she took her sister Dinarzade apart, and says to her, My dear sister, I have need of your help in a matter of very great importance, and must pray you not to deny it me. My father is going to carry me to the sultan to be his wife; do not let this frighten you, but hear me with patience. As soon as I come to the sultan, I will pray him to allow you to lie in the bride-chamber, that I may enjoy your company this one night more. If I obtain that favour, as I hope to do, remember to awake me to-morrow an hour before day, and to address me in these or some such words: "My sister, if you be not asleep, I pray you, that till day-break, which will be very speedily, you would tell me one of the fine stories of which you have read so many." Immediately I will tell you one; and I hope by this means to deliver the city from the consternation they are under at present. Dinarzade answered, that she would obey with pleasure what she required of her.
The time of going to bed being come, the grand vizier conducted Scheherazade to the palace, and retired, after having introduced her into the sultan's apartment. As soon as the sultan was left alone with her, he ordered her to uncover her face, and found it so beautiful, that he was perfectly charmed with her; and perceiving her to be in tears, asked her the reason. Sir, answered Scheherazade, I have a sister, who loves me tenderly, as I do her, and I could wish that she might be allowed to be all night in this chamber, that I might see her, and bid her once more adieu. Will you be pleased to allow me the comfort of giving her this last testimony of my friendship? Schahriar having consented to it, Dinarzade was sent for, who came with all possible diligence. The sultan went to bed with Scheherazade upon an alcove raised very high, according to the custom of the monarchs of the east; and Dinarzade lay in a bed that was prepared for her, near the foot of the alcove.
An hour before day, Dinarzade, being awake, failed not to do as her sister ordered her. My dear sister, cries she, if you be not asleep, I pray, until day-break, which will be in a very little time, that you will tell me one of those pleasant stories you have read; alas! this may perhaps be the last time that ever I shall have that satisfaction.
Scheherazade, instead of answering her sister, addressed herself to the sultan thus: Sir, will your majesty be pleased to allow me to give my sister this satisfaction? With all my heart, answers the sultan. Then Scheherazade bid her sister listen; and afterwards, addressing herself to Schahriar, began thus.
The First Night.
The Merchant and the Genie.
Sir—There was formerly a merchant, who had a great estate in lands, goods, and money. He had abundance of deputies, factors, and slaves. He was obliged from time to time to take journies, and talk with his correspondents; and one day being under the necessity of going a long journey about an affair of importance, he took horse, and put a portmanteau behind him, with some biscuits and dates, because he had a great desert to pass over, where he could have no manner of provisions. He arrived without any accident at the end of his journey, and, having despatched his affairs, took horse again in order to return home.
The fourth day of his journey, he was so much incommoded by the heat of the sun, and the reflection of that heat from the earth, that he turned out of the road to refresh himself under some trees that he saw in the country. There he found, at the foot of a great walnut-tree, a fountain of very clear running water; and alighting, tied his horse to a branch of the tree, and sitting down by the fountain, took some biscuits and dates out of his portmanteau, and, as he ate his dates, threw the shells about on both sides of him. When he had done eating, being a good Mussulman, he washed his hands, his face, and his feet, and said his prayers. He had not made an end, but was still on his knees, when he saw a genie appear, all white with age, and of a monstrous bulk; who, advancing towards him, with a scimitar in his hand, spoke to him in a terrible voice thus: Rise up, that I may kill thee with this scimitar, as you have killed my son; and accompanied those words with a frightful cry. The merchant, being as much frightened at the hideous shape of the monster as at these threatening words, answered him trembling, Alas! my good lord, of what crime can I be guilty towards you, that you should take away my life? I will, replies the genie, kill thee, as thou hast killed my son. O heaven! says the merchant, how should I kill your son? I did not know him, nor ever saw him. Did not you sit down when you came hither, replies the genie? Did not you take dates out of your portmanteau, and, as you ate them, did not you throw the shells about on both sides? I did all that you say, answers the merchant; I cannot deny it. If it be so, replies the genie, I tell thee that thou hast killed my son, and the way was thus; when you threw your nut-shells about, my son was passing by, and you threw one of them into his eye, which killed him; therefore I must kill thee. Ah! my lord, pardon me, cried the merchant. No pardon, answers the genie, no mercy. Is it not just to kill him that has killed another? I agree to it, says the merchant; but certainly I never killed your son; and if I have, it was unknown to me, and I did it innocently; therefore I beg you to pardon me, and suffer me to live. No, no, says the genie, persisting in his resolution, I must kill thee, since thou hast killed my son; and then taking the merchant by the arm, threw him with his face upon the ground, and lifted up his scimitar to cut off his head.
The merchant, all in tears, protested he was innocent, bewailed his wife and children, and spoke to the genie in the most moving expressions that could be uttered. The genie, with his scimitar still lifted up, had so much patience as to hear the wretch make an end of his lamentations, but would not relent. All this whining, says the monster, is to no purpose; though you should shed tears of blood, that shall not hinder me to kill thee, as thou killedst my son. Why! replied the merchant, can nothing prevail with you? Will you absolutely take away the life of a poor innocent? Yes, replied the genie, I am resolved upon it.
As Scheherazade had spoken these words, perceiving it was day, and knowing that the sultan rose betimes in the morning to say his prayers, and hold his council, Scheherazade held her peace. Lord, sister, says Dinarzade, what a wonderful story is this! The remainder of it, says Scheherazade, is more surprising; and you will be of my mind, if the sultan will let me live this day, and permit me to tell it you next night. Schahriar, who had listened to Scheherazade with pleasure, says to himself, I will stay till to-morrow, for I can at any time put her to death, when she has ended the story. So having resolved not to take away Scheherazade's life that day, he rose and went to prayers, and then called his council.
All this while the grand vizier was terribly uneasy. Instead of sleeping, he spent the night in sighs and groans, bewailing the lot of his daughter, of whom he believed that he himself should be the executioner: And as, in this melancholy prospect, he was afraid of seeing the sultan, he was agreeably surprised when he saw the prince enter the council-chamber, without giving him the fatal orders he expected.
The sultan, according to his custom, spent the day in regulating his affairs; and when night came, he went to bed with Scheherazade. Next morning, before day, Dinarzade failed not to address herself to her sister thus: My dear sister, if you be not asleep, I pray you, till day-break, which will be in a very little time, to go on with the story you began last night. The sultan, without staying till Scheherazade asked him leave, bid her make an end of the story of the genie and the merchant, for I long to hear the issue of it; upon which Scheherazade spoke, and continued the story as follows.
The Second Night.
When the merchant saw that the genie was going to cut off his head, he cried out aloud, and said to him, For Heaven's sake hold your hand! allow me one word, be so good as to grant me some respite; allow me but time to bid my wife and children adieu, and to divide my estate among them by will, that they may not go to law with one another after my death; and when I have done so, I will come back to the same place, and submit to whatever you shall please to order concerning me. But, says the genie, if I grant you the time you demand, I doubt you will never return. If you will believe my oath, answers the merchant, I swear, by all tnat is sacred, that I will come and meet you here without fail. What time do you demand then, replies the genie? I ask a year, says the merchant; I cannot have less to order my affairs, and prepare myself to die without regret. But I promise you that this day twelve months I will return under these trees, to put myself into your hands. Do you take Heaven to be witness to this promise, says the genie? I do, answers the merchant, and repeat it, and you may rely upon my oath. Upon this the genie left him near the fountain, and disappeared.
The merchant, being recovered from his fright, mounted his horse, and set forward on his journey; and as he was glad, on the one hand, that he had escaped so great a danger, so he was mortally sorry, on the other, when he thought on his fatal oath. When he came home, his wife and children received him with all the demonstrations of perfect joy. But he, instead of making them answerable returns, fell a-weeping bitterly; from whence they readily conjectured that something extraordinary had befallen him. His wife asked the reason of his excessive grief and tears; we are all overjoyed, says she, at your return, but you frighten us to see you in this condition? Pray tell us the cause of your sorrow. Alas! replies the husband, the cause of it is, that I have but a year to live; and then told what had passed betwixt him and the genie, and that he had given his oath to return at the end of the year to receive death from his hands.
When they had heard these sad news, they all began to lament heavily; his wife made a pitiful outcry, beat her face, and tore her hairs. The children, being all in tears, made the house resound with their groans; and the father, not being able to overcome nature, mixed his tears with theirs; so that, in a word, it was the most affecting spectacle that any man could behold.
Next morning, the merchant applied himself to put his affairs in order, and, first of all, to pay his debts. He made presents to his friends, gave great alms to the poor, set his slaves of both sexes at liberty, divided his estate among his children, appointed guardians for such of them as were not come of age; and restoring to his wife all that was due to her by contract of marriage, he gave her, over and above, all that he could do by law.
At last the year expired, and go he must. He put his burial-clothes in his portmanteau; but never was there such grief seen, as when he came to bid his wife and children adieu. They could not think of parting, but resolved to go along and to die with, him; but, finding that he must be forced to part from those dear objects, he spoke to them thus: 'My dear wife and children,' says he, 'I obey the order of Heaven in quitting you; follow my example, submit courageously to this necessity, and consider that it is the destiny of man to die.' Having said these words, he went out of the hearing of the cries of his family; and, taking his journey, arrived at the place, where he promised to meet the genie, on the day appointed. He alighted, and setting himself down by the fountain, waited the coming of the genie with all the sorrow imaginable. Whilst he languished in this cruel expectation, a good old man, leading a bitch, appeared, and drew near him; they saluted one another, after which the old man says to him, Brother, may I ask you why you are come into this desert place, where there is nothing but evil spirits, and by consequence you cannot be safe. To look upon these fine trees, indeed, one would think the place inhabited; but if is a true wilderness where it is not safe to stay long.
The merchant satisfied his curiosity, and told him the adventure which obliged him to be there. The old man listened to him with astonishment, and when he had done, cried out, This is the most surprising thing in the world, and you are bound by the most inviolable oath; however, I will be witness of your interview with the genie; and sitting down by the merchant, they talked together. But I see day, says Scheherazade, and must leave off; but the best of the story is yet to come. The sultan, resolving to hear the end of it, suffered her to live that day also.
The Third Night.
Next morning Dinarzade made the same request to her sister as formerly, thus: My dear sister, says she, if you be not asleep, tell me one of those pleasant stories you have read: but the sultan, willing to understand what followed betwixt the merchant and the genie, bid her go on with that; which she did as follows:
Sir, while the merchant and the old man that led the bitch were talking, they saw another old man coming to them, followed by two black dogs; after they had saluted one another, he asked them what they did in that place? The old man with the bitch told him the adventure of the merchant and genie, with all that had passed betwixt them, particularly the merchant's oath. He added, that this was the day agreed on, and that he was resolved to stay and see the issue.
The second old man, thinking it also worth his curiosity, resolved to do the like: he likewise sat down by them; and they had scarcely begun to talk together, when there came a third old man, who, addressing himself to the two former, asked why the merchant that sat with them looked so melancholy. They told him the reason of it, which appeared so extraordinary to him, that he also resolved to be witness to the result, and for that end sat down with them.
In a little time they perceived in the field a thick vapour, like a cloud of dust rising by a whirlwind, advancing towards them, which vanished all of a sudden, and then the genie appeared, who, without saluting them, came up to the merchant with his drawn scimitar, and taking him by the arm, says, Get thee up, that I may kill thee as thou didst kill my son. The merchant and the three old men being frightened, began to lament, and to fill the air with their cries.—Here Scheherazade, perceiving day, left off her story which did so much whet the sultan's curiosity, that he was absolutely resolved to hear the end of it, and put off the sultaness's execution till next day.
Nobody can express the grand vizier's joy, when he perceived that the sultan did not order him to kill Scheherazade; his family, the court, and all the people in general, were astonished at it.
The Fourth Night.
Towards the end of the following night, Dinarzade failed not to awake the sultaness. Mv dear sister, says she, if you be not asleep, pray tell me one of your fine stories. Then Scheherazade, with the sultan's permission, spoke as follows:
Sir, when the old man that led the bitch saw the genie lay hold of the merchant, and about to kill him without pity, he threw himself at the feet of the monster, and kissing them, says to him: Prince of genies, I most humbly request you to suspend your anger, and do me the favour to hear me. I will tell you the history of my life, and of the bitch you see; and if you think it more wonderful and surprising than the adventure of the merchant you are going to kill, I hope you will pardon the poor unfortunate man the third of his crime. The genie took some time to consult upon it, but answered at last, Well, then; I agree to it.
THE HISTORY OF THE FIRST OLD MAN AND THE BITCH.
I shall begin then, says the old man; listen to me I pray you, with attention. This bitch you see is my cousin, nay, what is more, my wife: she was only twelve years of age when I married her, so that I may justly say, she ought as much to regard me as her father, as her kinsman and husband.
We lived together twenty years without any children, yet her barrenness did hot hinder my haying a great deal of complaisance and friendship for her. The desire of having children only made me to buy a slave, by whom I had a son, who was extremely promising. My wife being jealous, conceived a hatred both for mother and child, but concealed it so well, that I did not know it till it was too late.
Mean time my son grew up, and was ten years old, when I was obliged to undertake a journey: before I went, I recommended to my wife, of whom I had no mistrust, the slave and her son, and prayed her to take care of them during my absence, which was for a whole year. She made use of that time to satisfy her hatred: she applied herself to magic, and when she knew enough of that diabolical art to execute her horrible contrivance, the wretch carried my son to a desolate place, where, by her enchantments, she changed my son into a calf, and gave him to my farmer to fatten, pretending she had bought him. Her fury did not stop at this abominable action, but she likewise changed the slave into a cow, and gave her also to the farmer.
At my return, I asked for the mother and child: your slave, says she, is dead; and for your son, I know not what is become of him: I have not seen him these two months. I was troubled at the death of my slave; but my son having also disappeared, as she told me, I was in hopes he would return in a little time. However, eight months passed, and I heard nothing of him, When the festival of the great Bairam happened, to celebrate the same, I sent to my farmer for one of the fattest cows to sacrifice; and he sent me one accordingly. The cow which he brought me was my slave, the unfortunate mother of my son, I tied her, but as I was going to sacrifice her, she bellowed pitifully and I could perceive streams of tears run from her eyes. This seemed to me very extraordinary, and finding myself, in spite of all I could do, seized with pity, I could not find in my heart to give her the blow, but ordered my farmer to get me another.
My wife, who was present, was enraged at my compassion, and opposing herself to an order which disappointed her malice, she cries out, What do you do, husband? Sacrifice that cow, your farmer has not a finer, nor one fitter for that use. Out of complaisance to my wife, I came again to the cow, and combatting my pity, which suspended the sacrifice, was going to give her the fatal blow, when the victim redoubling her tears, and bellowing, disarmed me a second time. Then I put the mell into the farmer's hands, and bade him sacrifice her himself, for her tears and bellowing pierced my heart.
The farmer, less compassionate than I, sacrificed her; and when he flead her, found her nothing but bones, though to us she seemed very fat. Take her to yourself, says I to the farmer, I quit her to you; give her in alms, or which way you will; and if you have a very fat calf, bring me it in her stead. I did not inform myself what he did with the cow; but, soon after he took her away, he came with a very fat calf. Though I knew not that the calf was my son, yet I could not forbear being moved at the sight of him. On his part, as soon as he saw me, he made so great an effort to come to me, that he broke his cord, threw himself at my feet, with his head against the ground, as if he would excite my compassion, conjuring me not to be so cruel as to take his life, and did as much as was possible for him to do, to signify that he was my son.
I was more surprised and affected with this action than with the tears of the cow: I found a tender pity, which made me concern myself for him, or rather nature did its duty. Go, says I to the farmer, carry home that calf, take great care of him, and bring me another in his stead immediately.
As soon as my wife heard me say so, she immediately cried out, What do you do, husband? Take my advice, sacrifice no other calf but that. Wife, said I, I will not sacrifice him, I will spare him, and pray do not you oppose it. The wicked woman had no regard to my desire, she hated my son too much to consent that I should save him; I tied the poor creature, and taking up the fatal knife—Here Scheherazade stopped, because she perceived day-light.
Then Dinarzade said, Sister, I am enchanted with this story, which bespeaks my attention so agreeably. If the sultan will suffer me to live to-day, answers Scheherazade, what I have to tell you to-morrow will divert you abundantly more. Schahriar, curious to know what would become of the old man's son, who led the bitch, told the sultaness he would be very glad to hear the end of that story next night.
The Fifth Night.
When day began to draw near, Dinarzade put her sister's orders in execution very exactly, who, being awaked, prayed the sultan to allow her to give Dinarzade that satisfaction, which the prince, who took so much pleasure in the story himself, readily agreed to.
Sir, then, says Scheherazade, the first old man, who led the bitch, continuing his story to the genie, the two other old men, and the merchant, proceeded thus: I took the knife, says he, and was going to strike it into my son's throat, when, turning his eyes, bathed with tears, in a languishing manner towards me, he affected me so, that I had not strength to sacrifice him, but, let the knife fall, and told my wife positively that I would have another calf to sacrifice, and not that. She used all endeavours to make me change my resolution; but I continued firm, and pacified her a little, by promising that I would sacrifice him against the Bairam next year.
Next morning, my farmer desired to speak with me alone; and told me, I come, says he, to tell you a piece of news, for which, I hope, you will return me thanks. I have a daughter that has some skill in magic: Yesterday, as I carried back the calf which you would not sacrifice, I perceived she laughed when she saw him, and in a moment after fell a-weeping. I asked her why she acted two such contrary parts at one and the same time. Father, replies she, the calf you bring back is our landlord's son: I laughed for joy to see him still alive, and I wept at the remembrance of the former sacrifice that was made the other day of his mother, who was changed into a cow. These two metamorphoses were made by the enchantments of our master's wife, who hated the mother and son; and this is what my daughter told me, said the farmer, and I come to acquaint you with it.
At these words, the old man adds, I leave you to think, my lord genie, how much I was surprised: I went immediately to my farmer, to speak with his daughter myself. As soon as I came, I went forthwith to the stall where my son was; he could not answer my embraces, but received them in such a manner as fully satisfied me he was my son.
The farmer's daughter came: My good maid, says I, can you restore my son to his former shape? Yes, says she, I can, Ah! said I, if you can, I will make you mistress of my fortune. She replied to me, smiling, You are our master, and know very well what I owe to you, but cannot restore your son into his former shape, but on two conditions. The first is, that you give him me for my husband, and the second is, that you allow me to punish the person who changed him into a calf. For the first, said I, I agree to it with all my heart; nay, I promise you more, a considerable estate for yourself, independent of what I design for my son. In a word, you shall see how I will reward the great service I expect from you. As to what relates to my wife, I also agree to it: A person that has been capable of committing such a criminal action, deserves very well to be punished; I leave her to you; only I must pray you not to take her life. I am just going then, answers she, to treat her as she has treated my son. I agree to it, said I, provided you restore my son to me beforehand.
Then the maid took a vessel full of water, pronounced words over it that I did not understand, and addressing herself to the calf, O calf, says she, if thou wast created by the almighty and sovereign Master of the world, such as you appear at this time, continue in that form: but, if thou art a man, and changed into a calf by enchantment, return to thy natural shape by the permission of the Sovereign Creator. As she spoke these words, she threw water upon him, and in an instant he recovered his first shape.
My son, my dear son, cried I! immediately embracing him with such a transport of joy that I knew not what I was doing; it is Heaven that has sent us this young maid to take off the horrible charm by which you were enchanted, and to avenge the injury done to you and your mother. I doubt not but, in acknowledgment, you will take your deliverer to wife, as I have promised. He consented to it with joy; but, before they were married, she changed my wife into a bitch, and this is she you see here. I desired she should have this shape, rather than another less agreeable, that we might see her in the family without horror.
Since that time my son has become a widower, and gone to travel; and it being several years since I heard of him, I am come abroad to inquire after him; and not being willing to trust any body with my wife while I should come home, I thought it fit to carry her every where with me. This is the history of myself and this bitch, is it not one of the most wonderful and surprising that can be? I agree it is, says the genie, and, upon that account, I forgive the merchant the third of his crime.
When the first old man, Sir, continued the sultaness, had finished his story, the second, who led the two black dogs, addressed himself to the genie, and says to him, I am going to tell you what happened to me and these two black dogs you see by me, and I am certain you will say that my story is yet more surprising than that which you have just now heard; but when I have told it you, I hope you will be pleased to pardon the merchant the second third of his crime. Yes, replies the genie, provided your story surpass that of the bitch. Then the second began in this manner. But as Scheherazade pronounced these words, she saw it was day, and left off speaking.
O Heaven! sister, says Dinarzade, these adventures are very singular. Sister, replies the sultaness, they are not comparable to those which I have to tell you next night, if the sultan, my lord and master, be so good as to let me live. Schahriar answered nothing to that, but rose up, said his prayers, and went to council, without giving any order against the life of the Scheherazade.
The Sixth Night.
The sixth night being come, the sultan and his lady went to bed. Dinarzade awaked at the usual hour, and calling to the sultaness, says, Dear sister, if you be not asleep, I pray you, until it be day, to satisfy my curiosity; I am impatient to hear the story of the old man and the two black dogs. The sultan consented to it with pleasure, being no less desirous to know the story than Dinarzade; and Scheherazade continued it as follows.
THE STORY OF THE SECOND OLD MAN AND THE TWO BLACK DOGS.
Great prince of genies, says the old man, you must know that we are three brothers, I and the two black dogs you see: Our father left each of us, when he died, one thousand sequins; with that sum we all entered into the same way of living, and became merchants. A little time after we had opened shop, my eldest brother, one of these two dogs, resolved to travel and trade in foreign countries. Upon this design, he sold his estate, and bought goods proper for the trade he intended.
He went away, and was absent a whole year; at the end of which, a poor man, who, I thought, had come to ask alms, presented himself before me in my shop. I said to him, God help you. God help you also, answered he, is it possible you do not know me? Upon this, I looked to him narrowly, and knew him. Ah, my brother! cried I, embracing him, how could I know you in this condition? I made him come into my house, and asked him concerning his health, and the success of his travels. Do not ask me that question, says he; when you see me, you see all. It would only renew my grief to tell you all the particulars of the misfortunes that have befallen me, and reduced me to this condition, since I left you.
I immediately shut up my shop, and, carrying him to a bath, gave him the best clothes I had by me; and examining my books, and finding that I had doubled my stock, that is to say, that I was worth two thousand sequins, I gave him one half. With that, said I, brother, you may make up your loss. He joyfully accepted the proffer, recovered himself, and we lived together as before.
Some time after, my second brother, who is the other of these two dogs, would also sell his estate. I and his other brother did all we could to divert him from it, but could not; He sold it, and with the money bought such goods as were suitable for the trade he designed. He joined a caravan; and took a journey. He returned at the end of the year in the same condition as my other brother; and I having gained another thousand sequins, gave him them, with which he furnished his shop, and continued to follow his trade.
Some time after, one of my brothers comes to me to propose a trading voyage with them; I immediately rejected their proposal. You have travelled, said I, and what have you gained by it? Who can assure me that I shall be more successful than you have been? They represented to me in vain all that they thought fit to prevail upon me to engage in that design with them, for I constantly refused; but they importuned me so much, that after having resisted their solicitations five whole. years, they overcame me at last: but when we were to make preparations for our voyage, and to buy goods necessary for the undertaking, I found they had spent all, and that they had not one farthing left of the thousand sequins I had given each of them. I did not, however, upbraid them in the least with it. On the contrary, my stock being six thousand sequins, I shared the half of it with them, telling them, My brothers, we must venture these three thousand sequins, and hide the rest in some sure place, that, in case our voyage be no more successful than yours was formerly, we may have wherewith to assist us, and to follow our ancient way of living. I gave each of them a thousand sequins; and keeping as much for myself, I buried the other three thousand in a corner of my house. We bought our goods; and, after having embarked them on board a vessel, which we freighted betwixt us three, we put to sea with a favourable wind. After a month's sail—But I see day, says Scheherazade, I must stop here.
Sister, says Dinarzade, this story promises a great deal; I fancy the rest of it must be very extraordinary. You are not mistaken, answered the sultaness; and if the sultan will allow me to tell it you, I am persuaded it will very much divert you. Schahriar got up, as he did the day before, without explaining his mind; but gave no order to the grand vizier to kill his daughter.
The Seventh Night.
When the seventh night drew near a close, Dinarzade awaked the sultaness, and prayed her to continue the story of the second old man. I will, answered Scheherazade, provided the sultan, my lord and master, do not oppose it. Not at all, says Shahriar; I am so far from opposing it, that I desire you earnestly to go on with it.
To resume the thread of the story, says Scheherazade, you must know that the old man, who led the two dogs, continued his story to the genie, the other two old men, and the merchant, thus: In short, says he, after two months sail, we arrived happily at a port, where we landed, and had a very great vent for our goods. I especially sold mine so well, that I gained ten to one; and we bought commodities of that country to transport and sell in our own.
When we were ready to embark in order to return, I met, upon the banks of the sea, a lady handsome enough, but poorly clad. She came up to me presently, kissed my hand, prayed me, with the greatest earnestness imaginable, to marry her, and take her along with me. I made some difficulty to agree to it; but she said so many things to persuade me that I ought to make no objections to her poverty, and that I should have all the reason in the world to be satisfied with her conduct, that I yielded. I ordered fit apparel to be made for her; and, after having married her according to form, I took her on board, and we set sail.
During the navigation, I found the wife I had taken had so many good qualities, that I loved her every day more and more. In the mean time my two brothers, who had not managed their affairs so well as I did mine, envied my prosperity; and their fury carried them so far as to conspire against my life; so that one night, when my wife and I were asleep, they threw us both into the sea.
My wife was a fairy, and by consequence, genie, you know well, she could not be drowned; but for me, it is certain, I had been lost without her help. I had scarcely fallen into the water, till she took me up, and carried me to an island. When it was day, the fairy said to me, You see, husband, that, by saving your life, I have not rewarded you ill for your kindness to me. You must know that I am a fairy, and that, being upon the bank of the sea, when you were going to embark, I found I had a strong inclination for you: I had a mind to try your goodness, and presented myself before you in the disguise wherein you saw me. You have dealt very generously with me, and I am mighty glad to have found an opportunity of testifying my acknowledgment to you: But I am incensed against your two brothers, and nothing will satisfy me but their lives.
I listened to this discourse of the fairy with admiration. I thanked her as well as I could for the great kindness she had done me; but, Madam, said I, for my brothers, I beg you to pardon them; whatever cause they have given me, I am not cruel enough to desire their death. I told her the particulars of what I had done for them, which increased her indignation so, that she cried out, I must immediately fly after those ungrateful traitors, and take speedy vengeance on them; I will drown their vessel, and throw them into the bottom of the sea. No, my good lady, replied I, for the sake of Heaven do not so; moderate your anger, consider that they are my brothers, and that we must do good for evil.
I pacified the fairy by these words; and as soon as I had spoken them, she transported me in an instant from the island where we were to the roof of my own house, which was terrassed, and disappeared in a moment. I went down, opened the doors, and dug up the three thousand sequins I had hid. I went afterwards to the place where my shop was, which I also opened, and was complimented by the merchants, my neighbours, upon my return. When I went to my house, I perceived two black dogs, which came to me in a very submissive manner; I knew not what it meant, but was much astonished at it. But the fairy, who appeared immediately, says to me, Husband, do not be surprised to see these two black dogs by you; they are your two brothers. I was troubled at these words, and asked her by what power they were so transformed. It was I that did it, says she, at least I gave commission to one of my sisters to do it, who, at the same time, sunk their ship. You have lost the goods you had on board, but I will make it up to you in another way. As to your two brothers, I have condemned them to remain five years in that shape. Their perfidiousness too well deserves such a penance; and, in short, after having told me where I might hear of her, she disappeared.
Now the five years being out, I am travelling in quest of her; and as I passed this way, I met this merchant, and the good old man that led the bitch, and sat down by them. This is my history, O prince of genies, do not you think it very extraordinary? I own it, says the genie, and, upon that account, remit the merchant the second third of the crime which he has committed against me.