THE STORY OF THE FISHERMAN.
There was an aged fisherman, who was so poor, that he could scarcely as much as would maintain himself, his wife, and three children. He went every day to fish betimes in the morning; and imposed it as a law upon himself, not to cast his nets above four times a-day. He went one morning by moon-light, and coming to the seaside, undressed himself, and cast in his nets. As he drew them towards the shore, he found them very heavy, and thought he had a good draught of fish, at which he rejoiced; but in a moment after, perceiving that instead of fish his nets contained nothing but the carcass of an ass, he was much vexed.
When the fisherman had mended his nets, which the carcass of the ass had broken in several places, he threw them in a second time; and when he drew them, found a great deal of resistance, which made him think he had taken abundance of fish; but he found nothing except a basket full of gravel and slime, which grieved him extremely. "O fortune!" cried he, with a lamentable tone, "be not angry with me, nor persecute a wretch who prays thee to spare him. I came hither from my house to seek for my livelihood, and thou pronouncest against me a sentence of death. I have no other trade but this to subsist by: and notwithstanding all my care, I can scarcely provide what is absolutely necessary for my family. But I am to blame to complain of thee; thou takest pleasure to persecute honest people, and to leave great men in obscurity, while thou shewest favour to the wicked, and advancest those who have no virtue to recommend them."
Having finished this complaint, he fretfully threw away the basket, and washing his nets from the slime, cast them the third time; but brought up nothing, except stones, shells, and mud. No language can express his disappointment; he was almost distracted. However, when day began to appear, he did not forget to say his prayers, like a good Moosulmaun, and he added to them this petition: "Lord, thou knowest that I cast my nets only four times a day; I have already drawn them three times, without the least reward for my labour: I am only to cast them once more; I pray thee to render the sea favourable to me, as thou didst to Moses "
The fisherman having finished this prayer, cast his nets the fourth time; and when he thought it was proper, drew them as formerly, with great difficulty; but instead of fish, found nothing in them but a vessel of yellow copper, which from its weight seemed not to be empty; and he observed that it was shut up and sealed with lead, having the impression of a seal upon it. This turn of fortune rejoiced him; "I will sell it," said he, "to the founder, and with the money buy a measure of corn." He examined the vessel on all sides, and shook it, to try if its contents made any noise, but heard nothing. This circumstance, with the impression of the seal upon the leaden cover, made him think it inclosed something precious. To try this, he took a knife, and opened it with very little labour. He turned the mouth downward, but nothing came out; which surprised him extremely. He placed it before him, but while he viewed it attentively, there came out a very thick smoke, which obliged him to retire two or three paces back.
The smoke ascended to the clouds, and extending itself along the sea and upon the shore formed a great mist, which we may well imagine filled the fisherman with astonishment. When the smoke was all out of the vessel, it re-united and became a solid body, of which was formed a genie twice as high as the greatest of giants. At the sight of a monster of such an unwieldy bulk, the fisherman would fain have fled, but was so frightened, that he could not move.
"Solomon," cried the genie immediately, "Solomon, the great prophet, pardon, pardon; I will never more oppose your will, I will obey all your commands."
When the fisherman heard these words of the genie, he recovered his courage, and said to him, "Thou proud spirit, what is it you say? It is above eighteen hundred years since the prophet Solomon died, and we are now at the end of time. Tell me your history, and how you came to be shut up in this vessel."
The genie turning to the fisherman, with a fierce look, said. "Thou must speak to me with more respect; thou art a presumptuous fellow to call me a proud spirit." "Very well," replied the fisherman, "shall I speak to you more civilly, and call you the owl of good luck?" "I say," answered the genie, "speak to me more respectfully, or I will kill thee." "Ah!" replied the fisherman, "why would you kill me? Did I not just now set you at liberty, and have you already forgotten my services?" "Yes, I remember it," said the genie, "but that shall not save thy life: I have only one favour to grant thee." "And what is that?" asked the fisherman. "It is," answered the genie, "to give thee thy choice, in what manner thou wouldst have me put thee to death." "But wherein have I offended you?" demanded the fisherman. "Is that your reward for the service I have rendered you?" " I cannot treat thee otherwise," said the genie; "and that thou mayest know the reason, hearken to my story."
"I am one of those rebellious spirits that opposed the will of heaven; nearly all the other genies owned Solomon, the great prophet, and yielded to his authority. Sabhir and I were the only two that would never be guilty of a mean submission: and to avenge himself, that great monarch sent Asaph, the son of Barakhia, his chief minister, to apprehend me. That was accordingly done. Asaph seized my person, and brought me by force before his master's throne.
"Solomon, the son of David, commanded me to acknowledge his power, and to submit to his commands: I bravely refused, and told him, I would rather expose myself to his resentment, than swear fealty as he required. To punish me, he shut me up in this copper vessel; and that I might not break my prison, he himself stamps upon this leaden cover, his seal with the great name of God engraver upon it. He then gave the vessel to one of the genies who had submitted, with orders to throw me into the sea, which to my sorrow were executed.
"During the first hundred years of my imprisonment, I swore that if any one should deliver me before the expiration of that period, I would make him rich, even after his death: but that century ran out, and nobody did me that good office. During the second, I made an oath, that I would open all the treasures of the earth to any one that might set me at liberty; but with no better success. In the third, I promised to make my deliverer a potent monarch, to be always near him in spirit, and to grant him every day three requests, of what nature soever they might be: but this century passed as well as the two former, and I continued in prison. At last being angry, or rather mad, to find myself a prisoner so long, I swore, that if afterwards any one should deliver me, I would kill him without mercy, and grant him no other favour but to choose the manner of his death; and therefore, since thou hast delivered me to-day, I give thee that choice."
This discourse afflicted the fisherman extremely: "I am very unfortunate," cried he, "to come hither to do such a kindness to one that is so ungrateful. I beg you to consider your injustice, and revoke such an unreasonable oath; pardon me, and heaven will pardon you; if you grant me my life, heaven will protest you from all attempts against your own." "No, thy death is resolved on," said the genie, "only choose in what manner you will die." The fisherman perceiving the genie to be resolute, was extremely grieved, not so much for himself, as on account of his three children; and bewailed the misery they must be reduced to by his death. He endeavoured still to appease the genie, and said, "Alas! be pleased to take pity on me, in consideration of the service I have done you." "I have told thee already," replied the genie, "it is for that very reason I must kill thee." "That is strange," said the fisherman, "are you resolved to reward good with evil? The proverb says, 'That he who does good to one who deserves it not is always ill rewarded.' I must confess, I thought it was false; for certainly there can be nothing more contrary to reason, or the laws of society. Nevertheless, I find now by cruel experience that it is but too true." "Do not lose time," interrupted the genie; "all thy reasonings shall not divert me from my purpose: make haste, and tell me what kind of death thou preferest?"
Necessity is the mother of invention. The fisherman bethought himself of a stratagem. "Since I must die then," said he to the genie, "I submit to the will of heaven; but before I choose the manner of my death, I conjure you by the great name which was engraver upon the seal of the prophet Solomon, the son of David, to answer me truly the question I am going to ask you."
The genie finding himself obliged to a positive answer by this adjuration, trembled; and replied to the fisherman, " Ask what thou wilt, but make haste."
The fisherman then said to him, "I wish to know if you were actually in this vessel: Dare you swear it by the name of the great God?" "Yes," replied the genie, "I do swear by that great name, that I was." "In good faith," answered the fisherman, "I cannot believe you; the vessel is not capable of holding one of your size, and how should it be possible that your whole body should lie in it?" "I swear to thee, notwithstanding," replied the genie, "that I was there just as you see me here: Is it possible, that thou cost not believe me after the solemn oath I have taken?" "Truly not I," said the fisherman; "nor will I believe you, unless you go into the vessel again."
Upon which the body of the genie dissolved and changed itself into smoke, extending as before upon the sea shore; and at last, being collected, it began to re-enter the vessel, which it continued to do by a slow and equal motion, till no part remained out; when immediately a voice came forth, which said to the fisherman, "Well now, incredulous fellow, I am in the vessel, do not you believe me now?"
The fisherman, instead of answering the genie, took the cover of lead, and having speedily replaced it on the vessel, "Genie," cried he, "now it is your turn to beg my favour, and to choose which way I shall put you to death; but not so, it is better that I should throw you into the sea, whence I took you: and then I will build a house upon the shore, where I will reside and give notice to all fishermen who come to throw in their nets, to beware of such a wicked genie as thou art, who hast made an oath to kill him that shall set thee at liberty."
The genie, enraged at these expressions, struggled to set himself at liberty; but it was impossible, for the impression of Solomon's seal prevented him. Perceiving that the fisherman had got the advantage of him, for he thought fit to dissemble his anger; "Fishermen," said he, "take heed you do not what you threaten; for what I spoke to you was only by way of jest." "O genie!" replied the fisherman, "thou who wast but a moment ago the greatest of all genies, and now art the least of them, thy crafty discourse will signify nothing, to the sea thou shalt return. If thou hast been there already so long as thou hast told me, thou may'st very well stay there till the day of judgment. I begged of thee in God's name not to take away my life, and thou didst reject my prayers; I am obliged to treat thee in the same manner."
The genie omitted nothing that he thought likely to prevail with the fisherman: "Open the vessel," said he, "give me my liberty, and I promise to satisfy thee to thy own content." "Thou art a traitor," replied the fisherman, "I should deserve to lose my life, if I were such a fool as to trust thee: thou wilt not fail to treat me in the same manner as a certain Grecian king treated the physician Douban. It is a story I have a mind to tell thee, therefore listen to it."
The Story of the Grecian King and the Physician Douban.
There was in the country of Yunaun or Greece, a king who was leprous, and his physicians had in vain endeavoured his cure; when a very able physician, named Douban, arrived at his court.
This physician had learnt the theory of his profession in Greek, Persian, Turkish, Arabic, Latin, Syriac, and Hebrew books; he was an experienced natural philosopher, and fully understood the good and bad qualities of plants and drugs. As soon as he was informed of the king's distemper, and understood that his physicians had given him over, he found means to present himself before him. "I know," said he, after the usual ceremonials, "that your majesty's physicians have not been able to heal you of the leprosy; but if you will accept my service, I will engage to cure you without potions, or external applications."
The king listened to what he said, and answered, "If you be able to perform what you promise, I will enrich you and your posterity. Do you assure me that you will cure my leprosy without potion, or applying any external medicine?" "Yes, Sire," replied the physician, "I promise myself success, through God's assistance, and to-morrow, with your majesty's permission, I will make the trial."
The physician returned to his quarters, made a hollow mace, and at the handle he put in his drugs; he made also a ball in such a manner as suited his purpose, with which next morning he presented himself before the king, and falling down at his feet, kissed the ground.
The physician Douban rose up, and after a profound reverence, said to the king, he judged it meet that his majesty should take horse, and go to the place where he used to play at mall. The king did so, and when he arrived there, the physician came to him with the mace, and said, "Exercise yourself with this mace, and strike the ball until you find your hands and body perspire. When the medicine I have put up in the handle of the mace is heated with your hand, it will penetrate your whole body; and as soon as you perspire, you may leave off the exercise, for then the medicine will have had its effect. Immediately on your return to your palace, go into the bath, and cause yourself to be well washed and rubbed; then retire to bed, and when you rise to-morrow you will find yourself cured."
The king took the mace, and struck the ball, which was returned by his officers who played with him; he played so long, that his hands and his whole body were in a sweat, and then the medicine shut up in the handle of the mace had its operation, as the physician had said. Upon this the king left off play, returned to his palace, entered the bath, and observed very exactly his physician had prescribed to him.
The next morning when he arose, he perceived with equal wonder and joy, that his leprosy was cured, and his body as clean as if it had never been affected. As soon as he was dressed, he came into the hall of audience, where he ascended his throne, and shewed himself to his courtiers: who, eager to know the success of the new medicine, came thither betimes, and when they saw the king perfectly cured, expressed great joy. The physician Douban entering the hall, bowed himself before the throne, with his face to the ground. The king perceiving him, made him sit down by his side, presented him to the assembly, and gave him all the commendation he deserved. His majesty did not stop here: but as he treated all his court that day, made him eat at his table alone with him.
The Grecian king was not satisfied with having admitted the physician Douban to his table, but caused him to be clad in a rich robe, ordered him two thousand pieces of gold, and thinking that he could never sufficiently acknowledge his obligations to him, continued every day to load him with new favours. But this king had a vizier, who was avaricious, envious, and naturally capable of every kind of mischief. He could not behold without envy the presents that were given to the physician, whose other merits had already begun to make him jealous, and he therefore resolved to lessen him in the king's esteem. To effect this, he went to the king, and told him in private, that he had some information of the greatest consequence to communicate. The king having asked what it was? "Sire," said he, "it is highly dangerous for a monarch to confide in a man whose fidelity he has never tried. Though you heap favours upon the physician Douban, your majesty does not know that he is a traitor, sent by your enemies to take away your life." "From whom," demanded the king, "have you the suggestion which you dare pronounce? Consider to whom you are speaking, and that you are advancing what I shall not easily believe." "Sire," replied the vizier, "I am well informed of what I have had the honour to reveal to your majesty; therefore do not rest in dangerous security: if your majesty be asleep, be pleased to awake; for I once more repeat, that the physician Douban left his native country, and came to settle himself at your court, for the sole purpose of executing the horrible design which I have intimated."
"No, no, vizier," interrupted the king; "I am certain, that this physician, whom you suspect to be a villain and a traitor, is one of the best and most virtuous of men. You know by what medicine, or rather by what miracle, he cured me of my leprosy: If he had had a design upon my life, why did he save me then? He needed only to have left me to my disease; I could not have escaped it, as life was fast decaying. Forbear then to fill me with unjust suspicions: instead of listening to you, I tell you, that from this day forward I will give that great man a pension of a thousand pieces of gold per month for his life; nay, though I were to share with him all my riches and dominions, I should never pay him sufficiently for what he has done. I perceive it to be his virtue that raises your envy; but do not think I will be unjustly prejudiced against him. I remember too well what a vizier said to king Sinbad, his master, to prevent his putting to death the prince his son."
What the Grecian king said about king Sinbad raised the vizier's curiosity, who said, "I pray your majesty to pardon me, if I have the boldness to ask what the vizier of king Sinbad said to his master to divert him from putting the prince his son to death." The Grecian king had the condescension to satisfy him: "That vizier," said he, "after having represented to king Sinbad, that he ought to beware, lest on the accusation of a mother-in-law he should commit an action of which he might afterwards repent, told him this story."
The Story of the Husband and the Parrot.
A certain man had a beautiful wife, whom he loved so dearly, that he could scarcely allow her to be out of his sight. One day, some urgent affairs obliging him to go from home, he went to a place where all sorts of birds were sold, and bought a parrot, which not only spoke well, but could also give an account of every thing that was done in its presence. He brought it in a cage to his house, desired his wife to put it in his chamber, and take care of it during his absence, and then departed.
On his return, he questioned the parrot concerning what had passed while he was from home, and the bird told him such things as gave him occasion to upbraid his wife. She concluded some of her slaves had betrayed her, but all of them swore they had been faithful, and agreed that the parrot must have been the tell-tale.
Upon this, the wife began to devise how she might remove her husband's jealousy, and at the same time revenge herself on the parrot. Her husband being gone another journey, she commanded a slave in the night-time to turn a hand-mill under the parrot's cage; she ordered another to sprinkle water, in resemblance of rain, over the cage; and a third to move a looking-glass, backward and forward against a candle, before the parrot. The slaves spent a great part of the night in doing what their mistress desired them, and acquitted themselves with much skill.
Next night the husband returned, and examined the parrot again about what had passed during his absence. The bird answered, "Good master, the lightning, thunder, and rain so much disturbed me all night, that I cannot tell how much I suffered." The husband, who knew that there had been neither thunder, lightning, nor rain in the night, fancied that the parrot, not having spoken truth in this, might also have lied in the other relation; upon which he took it out of the cage, and threw it with so much force to the ground that he killed it. Yet afterwards he understood from his neigbours, that the poor parrot had not deceived him in what it had stated of his wife's base conduct, made him repent that he had killed it.
When the Grecian king had finished the story of the parrot, he added, "And you, vizier, because of the hatred you bear to the physician Douban, who never did you any injury, you would have me cut him off; but I will beware lest I should repent as the husband did after killing his parrot."
The mischievous vizier was too desirous of effecting the ruin of the physician Douban to stop here. "Sir," said he, "the death of the parrot was but a trifle, and I believe his master did not mourn for him long: but why should your fear of wronging an innocent man, hinder your putting this physician to death? Is it not sufficient justification that he is accused of a design against your life? When the business in question is to secure the life of a king, bare suspicion ought to pass for certainty; and it is better to sacrifice the innocent than to spare the guilty. But, Sir, this is not a doubtful case; the physician Douban has certainly a mind to assassinate you. It is not envy which makes me his enemy; it is only my zeal, with the concern I have for preserving your majesty's life, that makes me give you my advice in a matter of this importance. If the accusation be false, I deserve to be punished in the same manner as a vizier formerly was." "What had the vizier done," demands the Grecian king, "to deserve punishment?" "I will inform your majesty," said the vizier, "if you will be pleased to hear me."
The Story of the Vizier that was Punished.
There was a king who had a son that loved hunting. He allowed him to pursue that diversion often; but gave orders to his grand vizier always to attend him.
One hunting day, the huntsman having roused a deer, the prince, who thought the vizier followed him, pursued the game so far, and with so much earnestness, that he separated himself from the company. Perceiving he had lost his way he stopped, and endeavoured to return to the vizier; but not knowing the country he wandered farther.
Whilst he was thus riding about, he met on his way a handsome lady, who wept bitterly. He stopped his horse, and enquired who she was, how she came to be alone in that place, and what she wanted. "I am," replied she, "the daughter of an Indian king. As I was taking the air on horseback, in the country, I grew sleepy, and fell from my horse, who is run away, and I know not what is become of him." The young prince taking compassion on her, requested her to get up behind him, which she willingly did.
As they were passing by the ruins of a house, the lady expressed a desire to alight. The prince stopped, and having put her down, dismounted himself, and went near the building, leading his horse after him. But you may judge how much he was surprised, when he heard the pretended lady utter these words: "Be glad, my children, I bring you a young man for your repast;" and other voices, which answered immediately, "Where is he, for we are very hungry?"
The prince heard enough to convince him of his danger. He perceived that the lady, who called herself the daughter of an Indian king, was one of those savage demons, called Gholes, who live in desolated places, and employ a thousand wiles to surprise passengers, whom they afterwards devour. The prince instantly remounted his horse, and luckily escaped.
The pretended princess appeared that very moment, and perceiving she had missed her prey, exclaimed, "Fear nothing, prince: Who are you? Whom do you seek?" "I have lost my way," replied he, "and am endeavouring to find it." "If you have lost your way," said she, "recommend yourself to God, he will deliver you out of your perplexity."
After the counterfeit Indian princess had bidden the young prince recommend himself to God, he could not believe she spoke sincerely, but thought herself sure of him; and therefore lifting up his hands to heaven, said, "Almighty Lord, cast shine eyes upon me, and deliver me from this enemy." After this prayer, the ghole entered the ruins again, and the prince rode off with all possible haste. He happily found his way, and arrived safe at the court of his father, to whom he gave a particular account of the danger he had been in through the vizier's neglect: upon which the king, being incensed against that minister, ordered him to be immediately strangled.
"Sir," continued the Grecian king's vizier, "to return to the physician Douban, if you do not take care, the confidence you put in him will be fatal to you; I am very well assured that he is a spy sent by your enemies to attempt your majesty's life. He has cured you, you will say: but alas! who can assure you of that? He has perhaps cured you only in appearance, and not radically; who knows but the medicine he has given you, may in time have pernicious effects?"
The Grecian king was not able to discover the wicked design of his vizier, nor had he firmness enough to persist in his first opinion. This discourse staggered him: "Vizier," said he, "thou art in the right; he may be come on purpose to take away my life, which he may easily do by the smell of his drugs."
When the vizier found the king in such a temper as he wished, "Sir," said he, "the surest and speediest method you can take to secure your life, is to send immediately for the physician Douban, and order his head to be struck off." "In truth," said the king, "I believe that is the way we must take to frustrate his design." When he had spoken thus, he called for one of his officers, and ordered him to go for the physician; who, knowing nothing of the king's purpose, came to the palace in haste.
"Knowest thou," said the king, when he saw him, "why I sent for thee?" "No, Sir," answered he; "I wait till your majesty be pleased to inform me." "I sent for thee," replied the king, "to rid myself of thee, by taking away thy life."
No man can express the surprise of the physician, when he heard the sentence of death pronounced against him. "Sir," said he, "why would your majesty take my life? What crime have I committed?" "I am informed," replied the king, "that you came to my court only to attempt my life; but to prevent you, I will be sure of yours. Give the blow," said he to the executioner, who was present, "and deliver me from a perfidious wretch, who came hither on purpose to assassinate me."
When the physician heard this cruel order, he readily judged that the honours and presents he had received from the king had procured him enemies, and that the weak prince was imposed on. He repented that he had cured him of his leprosy; but it was now too late. "Is it thus," asked the physician, "that you reward me for curing you?" The king would not hearken to him, but a second time ordered the executioner to strike the fatal blow. The physician then had recourse to his prayers; "Alas, Sir," cried he, "prolong my days, and God will prolong yours; do not put me to death, lest God treat you in the same manner."
The fisherman broke off his discourse here, to apply it to the genie. "Well, genie," said he, "you see that what passed betwixt the Grecian king and his physician Douban is acted just now by us."
The Grecian king, continued he, instead of having regard to the prayers of the physician, who begged him to spare his life, cruelly replied, "No, no; I must of necessity cut you off, otherwise you may assassinate with as much art as you cured me." The physician, without bewailing himself for being so ill rewarded by the king, prepared for death. The executioner tied his hands, and was going to draw his cimeter.
The courtiers who were present, being moved with compassion, begged the king to pardon him, assuring his majesty that he was not guilty of the crime laid to his charge, and that they would answer for his innocence: but the king was inflexible.
The physician being on his knees, his eyes tied up, and ready to receive the fatal blow, addressed himself once more to the king: "Sir," said he, "since your majesty will not revoke the sentence of death, I beg, at least, that you would give me leave to return to my house, to give orders about my burial, to bid farewell to my family, to give alms, and to bequeath my books to those who are capable of making good use of them. I have one particularly I would present to your majesty; it is a very precious book, and worthy of being laid up carefully in your treasury." "What is it," demanded the king, "that makes it so valuable?" "Sir," replied the physician, "it possesses many singular and curious properties; of which the chief is, that if your majesty will give yourself the trouble to open it at the sixth leaf, and read the third line of the left page, my head, after being cut off, will answer all the questions you ask it." The king being curious, deferred his death till next day, and sent him home under a strong guard.
The physician, during that time, put his affairs in order; and the report being spread, that an unheard of prodigy was to happen after his death, the viziers, emirs, officers of the guard, and, in a word, the whole court, repaired next day to the hall of audience, that they might be witnesses of it.
The physician Douban was brought in, and advancing to the foot of the throne, with a book in his hand, he called for a basin, and laid upon it the cover in which the book was wrapped; then presenting the book to the king, "Take this," said he, "and after my head is cut off, order that it be put into the basin upon that cover; as soon as it is placed there, the blood will stop; then open the book, and my head will answer your questions. But permit me once more to implore your majesty's clemency; for God's sake grant my request, I protest to you that I am innocent." "Your prayers," answered the king, "are in vain; and were it for nothing but to hear your head speak after your death, it is my will you should die." As he said this, he took the book out of the physician's hand, and ordered the executioner to do his duty.
The head was so dexterously cut off that it fell into the basin, and was no sooner laid upon the cover of the book than the blood stopped; then to the great surprise of the king, and all the spectators, its eyes, and said, "Sir, will your majesty be pleased to open the book?" The king proceeded to do so; but finding that the leaves adhered to each other, that he might turn them with more ease, he put his finger to his mouth, and wetted it with spittle. He did thus till he came to the sixth leaf, and finding no writing on the place where he was desired to look for it, "Physician," said he, "there is nothing written." "Turn over some more leaves," replied the head. The king went on, putting always his finger to his mouth, until the poison with which each leaf was imbued, coming to have its effect, the prince found himself suddenly taken with an extraordinary fit, his eye-sight failed, and he fell down at the foot of the throne in violent convulsions.
When the physician Douban, or rather his head, saw that the poison had taken effect, and that the king had but a few moments to live; "Tyrant," it cried, "now you see how princes are treated, who, abusing their authority, cut off innocent men: God punishes soon or late their injustice and cruelty." Scarcely had the head spoken these words, when the king fell down dead, and the head itself lost what life it had.
As soon as the fisherman had concluded the history of the Greek king and his physician Douban, he made the application to the genie, whom he still kept shut up in the vessel. "If the Grecian king," said he, "had suffered the physician to live, God would have continued his life also; but he rejected his most humble prayers, and the case is the same with thee, O genie! Could I have prevailed with thee to grant me the favour I supplicated, I should now take pity on thee; but since, notwithstanding the extreme obligation thou west under to me, for having set thee at liberty, thou didst persist in thy design to kill me, I am obliged, in my turn, to be equally hard-hearted to thee."
"My good friend fisherman," replied the genie, "I conjure thee once more, not to be guilty of such cruelty; consider, that it is not good to avenge one's self, and that on the other hand, it is commendable to do good for evil; do not treat me as Imama formerly treated Ateca." "And what did Imama to Ateca?" enquired the fisherman. "Ho!" says the genie, "if you have a mind to be informed, open the vessel: do you think that I can be in an humour to relate stories in so strait a prison? I will tell you as many as you please, when you have let me out." "No," said the fisherman, "I will not let thee out; it is in vain to talk of it; I am just going to throw thee into the bottom of the sea." "Hear me one word more," cried the genie; "I promise to do thee no hurt; nay, far from that, I will shew thee a way to become exceedingly rich."
The hope of delivering himself from poverty, prevailed with the fisherman. "I could listen to thee," said he, "were there any credit to be given to thy word; swear to me by the great name of God, that you will faithfully perform what you promise, and I will open the vessel; I do not believe you will dare to break such an oath."
The genie swore to him, upon which the fisherman immediately took off the covering of the vessel. At that instant the smoke ascended, and the genie having resumed his form, the first thing he did was to kick the vessel into the sea. This action alarmed the fisherman. "Genie," said he, "will not you keep the oath you just now made? And must I say to you, as the physician Douban said to the Grecian king, suffer me to live, and God will prolong your days."
The genie laughed at the fisherman's fear, and answered, "No, fisherman, be not afraid, I only did it to divert myself, and to see if thou wouldst be alarmed at it: but to convince thee that I am in earnest, take thy nets and follow me." As he spoke these words, he walked before the fisherman, who having taken up his nets, followed him, but with some distrust. They passed by the town, and came to the top of a mountain, from whence they descended into a vast plain, which brought them to a lake, that lay betwixt four hills.
When they reached the side of the lake, the genie said to the fisherman, "Cast in thy nets, and catch fish; "the fisherman did not doubt of taking some, because he saw a great number in the water; but he was extremely surprised, when he found they were of four colours, that is to say, white, red, blue, and yellow. He threw in his nets, and brought out one of each colour. Having never seen the like before, he could not but admire them, and judging that he might get a considerable sum for them, he was very joyful. "Carry those fish," said the genie to him, "and present them to thy sultan; he will give thee more money for them. Thou mayest come every day to fish in this lake; but I give thee warning not to throw in thy nets above once a day, otherwise thou wilt repent." Having spoken thus, he struck his foot upon the ground, which opened, and after it had swallowed him up closed again.
The fisherman being resolved to follow the genie's advice, forbore casting in his nets a second time; and returned to the town very well satisfied; and making a thousand reflections upon his adventure. He went immediately to the sultan's palace, to offer his fish.
The sultan was much surprised, when he saw the four fish which the fisherman presented. He took them up one after another, and viewed them with attention; and after having admired them a long time, "Take those fish," said he to his vizier, "and carry them to the cook, whom the emperor of the Greeks has sent me. I cannot imagine but that they must be as good as they are beautiful."
The vizier, carried them as he was directed, and delivering them to the cook, said, "Here are four fish just brought to the sultan; he orders you to dress them:" he then returned to the sultan his master, who ordered him to give the fisherman four hundred pieces of gold of the coin of that country, which he did accordingly.
The fisherman, who had never seen so much money, could scarcely believe his good fortune, but thought the whole must be a dream, until he found it otherwise, by being able to provide necessaries for his family with the produce of his fish.
As soon as the sultan's cook had gutted the fish, she put them upon the fire in a frying-pan, with oil, and when she thought them fried enough on one side, she turned them upon the other; but, O monstrous prodigy! scarcely were they turned, when the wall of the kitchen divided, and a young lady of wonderful beauty entered from the opening. She was clad in flowered satin, after the Egyptian manner, with pendants in her ears, a necklace of large pearls, and bracelets of gold set with rubies, with a rod in her hand. She moved towards the frying-pan, to the great amazement of the cook, who continued fixed by the sight, and striking one of the fish with the end of the rod, said, "Fish, fish, are you in duty?" The fish having answered nothing, she repeated these words, and then the four fish lifted up their heads, and replied, "Yes, yes: if you reckon, we reckon; if you pay your debts, we pay ours; if you fly, we overcome, and are content." As soon as they had finished these words, the lady overturned the frying-pan, and returned into the open part of the wall, which closed immediately, and became as it was before.
The cook was greatly frightened at what had happened, and coming a little to herself, went to take up the fish that had fallen on the hearth, but found them blacker than coal, and not fit to be carried to the sultan. This grievously troubled her, and she fell to weeping most bitterly. "Alas!" said she, "what will become of me? If I tell the sultan what I have seen, I am sure he will not believe me, but will be enraged against me."
While she was thus bewailing herself, the grand vizier entered, and asked her if the fish were ready? She told him all that had occurred, which we may easily imagine astonished him; but without speaking a word of it to the sultan, he invented an excuse that satisfied him, and sending immediately for the fisherman, bid him bring four more such fish, for a misfortune had befallen the others, so that they were not fit to be carried to the sultan. The fisherman, without saying any thing of what the genie had told him, in order to excuse himself from bringing them that day, told the vizier, he had a great way to go for them, but would certainly bring them on the morrow.
Accordingly the fisherman went away by night, and coming to the lake, threw in his nets betimes next morning, took four fish like the former, and brought them to the vizier, at the hour appointed. The minister took them himself, carried them to the kitchen, and shutting himself up with the cook, she gutted them, and put them on the fire, as she had done the four others the day before. When they were fried on one side, and she had turned them upon the other, the kitchen wall again opened, and the same lady came in with the rod in her hand, struck one of the fish, spoke to it as before, and all four gave her the same answer.
After the four fish had answered the young lady, she overturned the frying-pan with her rod, and retired into the wall. The grand vizier, being witness to what had passed: "This is too wonderful and extraordinary," said he, "to be concealed from the sultan; I will inform him of this prodigy."
The sultan, being much surprised, sent immediately for the fisherman, and said to him, "Friend, cannot you bring me four more such fish?" The fisherman replied, "If your majesty will be pleased to allow me three days, I will do it." Having obtained his time, he went to the lake immediately, and at the first throwing in of his net, he caught four fish, and brought them directly to the sultan; who was so much the more rejoiced, as he did not expect them so soon, and ordered him four hundred pieces of gold. As soon as the sultan had the fish, he ordered them to be carried into his closet, with all that was necessary for frying them; and having shut himself up with the vizier, the minister gutted them, put them into the pan, and when they were fried on one side, turned them upon the other; then the wall of the closet opened, but instead of the young lady, there came out a black, in the habit of a slave, and of a gigantic stature, with a great green staff in his hand. He advanced towards the pan, and touching one of the fish with his staff, said with a terrible voice, "Fish, are you in your duty?" At these words, the fish raised up their heads, and answered, "Yes, yes; we are: if you reckon, we reckon; if you pay your debts, we pay ours; if you fly, we overcome, and are content."
The fish had no sooner finished these words, than the black threw the pan into the middle of the closet, and reduced the fish to a coal. Having done this, he retired fiercely, and entering again into the aperture, it closed, and the wall appeared just as it did before.
"After what I have seen," said the sultan to the vizier, "it will not be possible for me to be easy: these fish, without doubt, signify something extraordinary." He sent for the fisherman, and when he came, said to him, "Fisherman, the fish you have brought us, make me very uneasy; where did you catch them?" "Sir," answered he, "I fished for them in a lake situated betwixt four hills, beyond the mountain that we see from hence." "Knowst thou not that lake?" said the sultan to the vizier. "No," replied the vizier. "I never so much as heard of it, although I have for sixty years hunted beyond that mountain." The sultan asked the fisherman, how far the lake might be from the palace? The fisherman answered, it was not above three hours journey; upon this assurance, the sultan commanded all his court to take horse, and the fisherman served them for a guide. They all ascended the mountain, and at the foot of it they saw, to their great surprise, a vast plain, that nobody had observed till then, and at last they came to the lake, which they found to be situated betwixt four hills as the fisherman had described. The water was so transparent, that they observed all the fish to be like those which the fisherman had brought to the palace.
The sultan stood upon the bank of the lake, and after beholding the fish with admiration, demanded of his courtiers, if it were possible they had never seen this lake, which was within so short a distance of the town. They all answered, that they had never so much as heard of it.
"Since you all agree that you never heard of it, and as I am no less astonished than you are, at this novelty, I am resolved not to return to my palace till I learn how this lake came here, and why all the fish in it are of four colours." Having spoken thus, he ordered his court to encamp; and immediately his pavilion and the tents of his household were planted upon the banks of the lake.
When night came, the sultan retired under his pavilion, and spoke to the grand vizier. thus: "Vizier, my mind is uneasy: this lake transported hither; the black that appeared to us in my closet, and the fish that we heard speak; all these things so much excite my curiosity, that I cannot resist my impatient desire to have it satisfied. To this end, I am resolved to withdraw alone from the camp, and I order you to keep my absence secret: stay in my pavilion, and to-morrow morning, when the emirs and courtiers come to attend my levee, send them away, and tell them, that I am somewhat indisposed, and wish to be alone; and the following days tell them the same thing, till I return."
The grand vizier. endeavoured to divert the sultan from this design; he represented to him the danger to which he might be exposed, and that all his labour might perhaps be in vain: but it was to no purpose; the sultan was resolved. He put on a suit fit for walking, and took his cimeter; and as soon as he found that all was quiet in the camp, went out alone, and passed over one of the hills without much difficulty; he found the descent still more easy, and when he came to the plain, walked on till the sun arose, and then he saw before him, at a considerable distance, a vast building. He rejoiced at the sight, in hopes of receiving there the information he sought. When he drew near, he found it was a magnificent palace, or rather a strong castle, of black polished marble, and covered with fine steel, as smooth as glass. Being highly pleased that he had so speedily met with something worthy his curiosity, he stopped before the front of the castle, and considered it with attention.
He then advanced towards the gate, which had two leaves, one of them open; though he might immediately have entered, yet he thought it best to knock. This he did at first softly, and waited for some time; but seeing no one, and supposing he had not been heard, he knocked harder the second time, and after that he knocked again and again, but no one yet appearing, he was exceedingly surprised; for he could not think that a castle in such repair was without inhabitants. "If there be no one in it," said he to himself, "I have nothing to fear; and if it be inhabited, I have wherewith to defend myself."
At last he entered, and when he came within the porch, he cried, "Is there no one here to receive a stranger, who comes in for some refreshment as he passes by?" He repeated the same words two or three times; but though he spoke very loud, he was not answered. The silence increased his astonishment: he came into a spacious court, and looked on every side for inhabitants, but discovered none.
The sultan entered the grand halls, which were hung with silk tapestry, the alcoves and sofas were covered with stuffs of Mecca, and the porches with the richest stuffs of India, mixed with gold and silver. He came afterwards into a superb saloon, in the middle of which was a fountain, with a lion of massy gold at each angle: water issued from the mouths of the four lions; and as it fell, formed diamonds and pearls, resembling a jet d'eau, which springing from the middle of the fountain, rose nearly to the top of a cupola painted in Arabesque.
The castle, on three sides, was encompassed by a garden, with parterres of flowers, shrubbery, and whatever could concur to embellish it; and to complete the beauty of the place, an infinite number of birds filled the air with their harmonious notes, and always remained there, nets being spread over the garden, and fastened to the palace to confine them. The sultan walked from apartment to apartment, where he found every thing rich and magnificent. Being tired with walking, he sat down in a verandah or arcade closet, which had a view over the garden, reflecting what he had already seen, and then beheld: when suddenly he heard the voice of one complaining, in lamentable tones. He listened with attention, and heard distinctly these words: "O fortune! thou who wouldst not suffer me longer to enjoy a happy lot, forbear to persecute me, and by a speedy death put an end to my sorrows. Alas! is it possible that I am still alive, after so many torments as I have suffered!"
The sultan rose up, advanced toward the place whence he heard the voice; and coming to the door of a great hall, opened it, and saw a handsome young man, richly habited, seated upon a throne raised a little above the ground. Melancholy was painted on his countenance. The sultan drew near, and saluted him; the young man returned his salutation by an inclination of his head, not being able to rise, at the same time saying, "My lord, I should rise to receive you; but am hindered by sad necessity, and therefore hope you will not be offended." "My lord," replied the sultan, "I am much obliged to you for having so good an opinion of me: as to the reason of your not rising, whatever your apology be, I heartily accept it. Being drawn hither by your complaints, and afflicted by your grief, I come to offer you my help; would to God that it lay in my power to ease you of your trouble! I would do my utmost to effect it. I flatter myself that you will relate to me the history of your misfortunes; but inform me first of the meaning of the lake near the palace, where the fish are of four colours? whose this castle is? how you came to be here? and why you are alone?"
Instead of answering these questions, the young man began to weep bitterly. "How inconstant is
fortune!" cried he; "she takes pleasure to pull down those she had raised. Where are they who enjoy quietly the happiness which they hold of her, and whose day is always clear and serene?"
The sultan, moved with compassion to see him in such a condition, prayed him to relate the cause of his excessive grief. "Alas! my lord," replied the young man, "how is it possible but I should grieve, and my eyes be inexhaustible fountains of tears?" At these words, lifting up his robe, he shewed the sultan that he was a man only from the head to the girdle, and that the other half of his body was black marble.
The sultan was much surprised, when he saw the deplorable condition of the young man. "That which you shew me," said he, "while it fills me with horror, excites my curiosity, so that I am impatient to hear your history, which, no doubt, must be extraordinary, and I am persuaded that the lake and the fish make some part of it; therefore I conjure you to relate it. You will find some comfort in so doing, since it is certain, that the unfortunate find relief in making known their distress." "I will not refuse your request," replied the young man, "though I cannot comply without renewing my grief. But I give you notice before hand, to prepare your ears, your mind, and even your eyes, for things which surpass all that the imagination can conceive."
The History of the Young King of the Black Isles.
You must know that my father, named Mahmoud, was king of this country. This is the kingdom of the Black Isles, which takes its name from the four small neighbouring mountains; for these mountains were formerly isles: the capital where the king my father resided was situated on the spot now occupied by the lake you have seen. The sequel of my history will inform you of those changes.
The king my father died when he was seventy years of age; I had no sooner succeeded him, than I married, and the lady I chose to share the royal dignity with me, was my cousin. I had so much reason to be satisfied with her affection, and, on my part, loved her with so much tenderness, that nothing could surpass the harmony and pleasure of our union. This lasted five years, at the end of which time, I perceived the queen, my cousin, ceased to delight in my attentions.
One day, after dinner, while she was at the bath, I found myself inclined to repose and lay down upon a sofa. Two of her ladies, who were then in my chamber, came and sat down, one at my head, and the other at my feet, with fans in their hands to moderate the heat, and to prevent the flies from disturbing me. They thought I was asleep, and spoke in whispers; but as I only closed my eyes, I heard all their conversation.
One of them said to the other, "Is not the queen wrong, not to love so amiable a prince?" "Certainly," replied the other; "I do not understand the reason, neither can I conceive why she goes out every night, and leaves him alone!" "Is it possible that he does not perceive it?" "Alas!" said the first, "how should he? she mixes every evening in his liquor, the juice of a certain herb, which makes him sleep so sound all night, that she has time to go where she pleases, and as day begins to appear, she comes and lies down by him again, and wakes him by the smell of something she puts under his nostrils."
You may guess, my lord, how much I was surprised at this conversation, and with what sentiments it inspired me; yet, whatever emotion it excited, I had sufficient self-command to dissemble, and feigned to awake without having heard a word.
The queen returned from the bath, we supped together and she presented me with a cup full of such water as I was accustomed to drink; but instead of putting it to my mouth, I went to a window that was open, and threw out the water so quickly, that she did not perceive it, and returned.
We went to bed together, and soon after, believing that I was asleep, she got up with so little precaution, that she said loud enough for me to hear her distinctly, "Sleep on, and may you never wake again!" She dressed herself, and went out of the chamber.
As soon as the queen my wife was gone, I dressed myself in haste, took my cimeter, and followed her so quickly, that I soon heard the sound of her feet before me, and then walked softly after her, for fear of being heard. She passed through several gates, which opened upon her pronouncing some magical words, and the last she opened was that of the garden, which she entered. I stopt at this gate, that she might not perceive me, as she passed along a parterre; then looking after her as far as the darkness of the night permitted, I saw her enter a little wood, whose walks were guarded by thick palisadoes. I went thither by another way, and concealing myself behind the palisadoes of a long walk, I saw her walking there with a man.
I did not fail to lend the most attentive ear to their discourse, and heard her address herself thus to her gallant: "I do not deserve to be reproached by you for want of diligence. You well know the reason; but if all the proofs of affection I have already given you be not sufficient to convince you of my sincerity, I am ready to give you others more decisive: you need but command me, you know my power; I will, if you desire it, before sun-rise convert this great city, and this superb palace, into frightful ruins, inhabited only by wolves, owls, and revens. If you would have me transport all the stones of those walls so solidly built, beyond mount Caucasus, or the bounds of the habitable world, speak but the word, and all shall be changed."
As the queen finished these words she and her lover came to the end of the walk, turned to enter another, and passed before me. I had already drawn my cimeter, and her lover being next me, I struck him on the neck, and brought him to the ground. I concluded I had killed him, and therefore retired speedily without making myself known to the queen, whom I chose to spare, because she was my kinswoman.
The wound I had given her lover was mortal; but by her enchantments she preserved him in an existence in which he could not be said to be either dead or alive. As I crossed the garden to return to the palace, I heard the queen loudly lamenting, and judging by her cries how much she was grieved, I was pleased that I had spared her life.
As soon as I had reached my apartment, I went to bed, and being satisfied with having punished the villain who had injured me, fell asleep; and when I awoke next morning, found the queen lying. I cannot tell you whether she slept or not; but I arose, went to my closet, and dressed myself. I afterwards held my council. At my return, the queen, clad in mourning, her hair dishevelled, and part of it torn off, presented herself before me, and said; "I come to beg your majesty not to be surprised to see me in this condition. My heavy affliction is occasioned by intelligence of three distressing events which I have just received." "Alas! what are they, madam?" said I. "The death of the queen my dear mother," she replied, "that of the king my father killed in battle, and of one of my brothers, who has fallen down a precipice."
I was not displeased that she used this pretext to conceal the true cause of her grief, and I concluded she had not suspected me of being the author of her lover's death. "Madam," said I, "so far from blaming, I assure you I heartily commiserate your sorrow. I should feel surprise if you were insensible to such heavy calamities: weep on; your tears are so many proofs of your tenderness; but I hope that time and reflection will moderate your grief."
She retired into her apartment, where, giving herself wholly up to sorrow, she spent a whole year in mourning and lamentation. At the end of that period, she begged permission to erect a burying place for herself, within the bounds of the palace, where she would continue, she told me, to the end of her days: I consented, and she built a stately edifice, crowned by a cupola, which may be seen from hence, and called it the Palace of Tears. When it was finished, she caused her lover to be conveyed thither, from the place to which she had caused him to be carried the night I wounded him: she had hitherto prevented his dying, by potions which she had administered to him; and she continued to convey them to him herself every day after he came to the Palace of Tears.
Yet, with all her enchantments, she could not cure him; he was not only unable to walk or support himself, but had also lost the use of his speech, and exhibited no sign of life except in his looks. Though the queen had no other consolation but to see him, and to say to him all that her senseless passion could inspire, yet every day she made him two long visits. I was well apprised of this, but pretended ignorance.
One day my curiosity induced me to go to the Palace of Tears, to observe how the princess employed herself, and from a place where she could not see me, I heard her thus address her lover: "I am afflicted to the highest degree to behold you in this condition; I am as sensible as yourself of the tormenting pain you endure; but, dear soul, I am continually speaking to you, and you do not answer me: how long will you remain silent? Speak only one word: alas! the sweetest moments of my life are these I spend here in partaking of your grief. I cannot live at a distance from you, and would prefer the pleasure of having you always before me, to the empire of the universe."
At these words, which were several times interrupted by her sighs and sobs, I lost all patience: and discovering myself, came up to her, and said, "Madam, you have wept enough, it is time to give over this sorrow, which dishonours both; you have too much forgotten what you owe to me and to yourself." "Sire," said she, "if you have any kindness or compassion for me left, I beseech you to put no restraint upon me; allow me to indulge my grief, which it is impossible for time to assuage."
When I perceived that my remonstrance, instead of restoring her to a sense of duty, served only to increase her anguish, I gave over and retired. She continued every day to visit her lover, and for two whole years abandoned herself to grief and despair.
I went a second time to the Palace of Tears, while she was there. I concealed myself again, and heard her thus address her lover: "It is now three years since you spoke one word to me; you answer not the proofs I give you of my love by my sighs and lamentations. Is it from insensibility, or contempt? O tomb! hast thou destroyed that excess of affection which he bare me? Hast thou closed those eyes that evinced so much love, and were all my delight? No, no, this I cannot think. Tell me rather, by what miracle thou becamest the depositary of the rarest treasure the world ever contained."
I must confess, my lord, I was enraged at these expressions; for, in truth, this beloved, this adored mortal, was by no means what you would imagine him to have been. He was a black Indian, one of the original natives of this country. I was so enraged at the language addressed to him, that I discovered myself, and apostrophising the tomb in my turn; I cried, "O tomb! why dost not thou swallow up that monster so revolting to human nature, or rather why dost not thou swallow up both the lover and his mistress?"
I had scarcely uttered these words, when the queen, who sat by the black, rose up like a fury. "Miscreant!" said she "thou art the cause of my grief; do not think I am ignorant of this, I have dissembled too long. It was thy barbarous hand that brought the objets of my fondness into this lamentable condition; and thou hast the cruelty to come and insult a despairing lover." "Yes," said I, in a rage, "it was I that chastised that monster, according to his desert; I ought to have treated thee in the same manner; I now repent that I did not; thou hast too long abused my goodness." As I spoke these words, I drew out my cimeter, and lifted up my hand to punish her; but regarding me stedfastly, she said with a jeering smile, "Moderate thy anger." At the same time, she pronounced words I did not understand; and afterwards added, "By virtue of my enchantments, I command thee to become half marble and half man." Immediately, my lord, I became what you see, a dead man among the living, and a living man among the dead.
After the cruel sorceress, unworthy of the name of queen, had metamorphosed me thus, and brought me into this hall, by another enchantment she destroyed my capital, which was very flourishing and populous; she annihilated the houses, the public places and markets, and reduced the site of the whole to the lake and desert plain you have seen; the fishes of four colours in the lake are the four kinds of inhabitants of different religions, which the city contained. The white are the Moosulmauns; the red, the Persians, who worship fire; the blue, the Christians and the yellow, the Jews. The four little hills were the four islands that gave name to this kingdom. I learned all this from the enchantress, who, to add to my affliction, related to me these effects of her rage. But this is not all; her revenge not being satisfied with the destruction of my dominions, and the metamorphosis of my person, she comes every day, and gives me over my naked shoulders a hundred lashes with a whip until I am covered with blood. When she has finished this part of my punishment, she throws over me a coarse stuff of goat's hair, and over that this robe of brocade, not to honour, but to mock me.
When he came to this part of the narrative, the young king could not restrain his tears; and the sultan was himself so affected by the relation, that he could not find utterance for any words of consolation. Shortly after, the young king, lifting up his eyes to heaven, exclaimed, "Mighty creator of all things, I submit myself to thy judgments, and to the decrees of thy providence: I endure my calamities with patience, since it is thy will things should be as they are; but I hope thy infinite goodness will ultimately reward me."
The sultan, greatly moved by the recital of this affecting story, and anxious to avenge the sufferings of the unfortunate prince, said to him, "Inform me whither this perfidious sorceress retires, and where may be found her vile paramour, who is entombed before his death." "My lord," replied the prince, "her lover, as I have already told you, is lodged in the Palace of Tears, in a superb tomb constructed in the form of a dome: this palace joins the castle on the side in which the gate is placed. As to the queen, I cannot tell you precisely whither she retires, but every day at sun-rise she goes to visit her paramour, after having executed her bloody vengeance upon me; and you see I am not in a condition to defend myself. She carries to him the potion with which she had hitherto prevented his dying, and always complains of his never having spoken to her since he was wounded."
"Prince," said the sultan, "your condition can never be sufficiently deplored: no one can be more sensibly affected by your misfortunes than I am. Never did any thing so extraordinary befall any man, and those who write your history will have the advantage of relating what surpasses all that has hitherto been recorded. One thing only is wanting; the revenge to which you are entitled, and I will omit nothing in my power to effect it."
In his subsequent conversation with the young prince, the sultan told him who he was, and for what purpose he had entered the castle; and afterwards informed him of a mode of revenge which he had devised. They agreed upon the measures they were to take for accomplishing their design, but deferred the execution of it till the following day. In the mean time, the night being far spent, the sultan took some rest; but the young prince passed the night as usual, without sleep, having never slept since he was enchanted, still indulging some hopes of being speedily delivered from his misery.
Next morning the sultan arose with the dawn, and prepared to execute his design, hiding his upper garment, which might encumber him; he then proceeded to the Palace of Tears. He found it lighted up with an infinite number of flambeaux of white wax, and perfumed by a delicious scent issuing from several censers of fine gold of admirable workmanship. As soon as he perceived the bed where the black lay, he drew his cimeter, and without resistance deprived him of his wretched life, dragged his corpse into the court of the castle, and threw it into a well. After this, he went and lay down in the black's bed, placed his cimeter under the covering, and waited to complete his design.
The queen arrived shortly after. She first went into the chamber of her husband, the king of the Black Islands, stripped him, and with unexampled barbarity gave him a hundred stripes. The unfortunate prince filled the palace with his lamentations, and conjured her in the most affecting tone to take pity on him; but the cruel wretch ceased not till she had given the usual number of blows. "You had no compassion on my lover," said she, "and you are to expect none from me."
After the enchantress had given the king, her husband, a hundred blows with the whip, she put on again his covering of goat's hair, and his brocade gown over all; she went afterwards to the Palace of Tears, and as she entered renewed her tears and lamentations: then approaching the bed, where she thought her paramour lay, "What cruelty," cried she, "was it to disturb the satisfaction so tender and passionate a lover as I am? O cruel prince, who reproachest me that I am inhuman, when I make thee feel the effects of my resentment! Does not thy barbarity surpass my vengeance? Traitor! in attempting the life of the object which I adore, hast thou not robbed me of mine? Alas!" said she, addressing herself to the sultan, conceiving him to be the black "My sun, my life, will you always be silent! Are you resolved to let me die, without affording me the comfort of hearing again from your own lips that you love me? My soul, speak one word to me at least, I conjure you."
The sultan, as if he had awaked out of a deep sleep, and counterfeiting the pronunciation of the blacks, answered the queen with a grave tone, "There is no strength or power but in God alone, who is almighty." At these words the enchantress, who did not expect them, uttered a loud exclamation of joy. "My dear lord," cried she, "do not I deceive myself; is it certain that I hear you, and that you speak to me?" "Unhappy woman," said the sultan, "art thou worthy that I should answer thee?" "Alas!" replied the queen, "why do you reproach me thus?" "The cries," returned the sultan, "the groans and tears of thy husband, whom thou treatest every day with so much indignity and barbarity, prevent my sleeping night or day. Hadst thou disenchanted him, I should long since have been cured, and have recovered the use of my speech. This is the cause of my silence, of which you complain." "Well," said the enchantress, "to pacify you, I am ready to execute your commands; would you have me restore him?" "Yes," replied the sultan; "make haste to set him at liberty, that I be no longer disturbed by his lamentations."
The enchantress went immediately out of the Palace of Tears; she took a cup of water, and pronounced some words over it, which caused it to boil, as if it had been on the fire. She afterwards proceeded to the young king her husband, and threw the water upon him, saying, "If the creator of all things did form thee as thou art at present; or if he be angry with thee, do not change; but if thou art in that condition merely by virtue of my enchantments, resume thy natural shape, and become what thou west before." She had scarcely spoken these words, when the prince, finding himself restored to his former condition, rose up and returned thanks to God. The enchantress then said to him, "Get thee from this castle, and never return on pain of death." The young king, yielding to necessity, went away from the enchantress, without replying a word; and retired to a remote place, where he patiently awaited the event of the design which the sultan had so happily begun. Meanwhile, the enchantress returned to the Palace of Tears, and supposing that she still spoke to the black, said, "Dear love, I have done what you required; nothing now prevents your rising and giving me the satisfaction of which I have so long been deprived."
The sultan, still counterfeiting the pronunciation of the blacks, said, "What you have now done is by no means sufficient for my cure; you have only removed a part of the evil; you must cut it up by the root." "My lovely black," resumed the queen, "what do you mean by the root?" "Wretched woman," replied the sultan, "understand you not that I allude to the town, and its inhabitants, and the four islands, destroyed by thy enchantments? The fish every night at midnight raise their heads out of the lake, and cry for vengeance against thee and me. This is the true cause of the delay of my cure. Go speedily, restore things to their former state, and at thy return I will give thee my hand, and thou shalt help me to arise."
The enchantress, inspired with hope from these words, cried out in a transport of joy, "My heart, my soul, you shall soon be restored to your health, for I will immediately do as you command me." Accordingly she went that instant, and when she came to the brink of the lake, she took a little water in her hand, and sprinkling it, had no sooner pronounced some words over the fish and the lake, than the city was immediately restored. The fish became men, women, and children; Mahummedans, Christians, Persians, or Jews; freemen or slaves, as they were before: every one having recovered his natural form. The houses and shops were immediately filled with their inhabitants, who found all things as they were before the enchantment. The sultan's numerous retinue, who found themselves encamped in the largest square, were astonished to see themselves in an instant in the middle of a large, handsome, well-peopled city.
To return to the enchantress: As soon as she had effected this wonderful change, she returned with all expedition to the Palace of Tears, that she might receive her reward. "My dear lord," cried she, as she entered, "I come to rejoice with you in the return of your health: I have done all that you required of me, then pray rise, and give me your hand." "Come near," said the sultan, still counterfeiting the pronunciation of the blacks. She did so. "You are not near enough," he continued, "approach nearer." She obeyed. He then rose up, and seizing her by the arm so suddenly, that she had not time to discover him, he with a blow of his cimeter cut her in two, so that one half fell one way and the other another. This done he left the body on the spot, and going out of the Palace of Tears, went to seek the young king of the Black Isles, who waited for him with great impatience. When he found him, "Prince," said he, embracing him, "rejoice; you have now nothing to fear; your cruel enemy is dead."
The young prince returned thanks to the sultan in a manner that sufficiently the sincerity of his gratitude, and in return wished him long life and happiness. "You may henceforward," said the sultan, "dwell peaceably in your capital, unless you will accompany me to mine, which is near: you shall there be welcome, and have as much honour and respect shown you as if you were in your own kingdom." "Potent monarch, to whom I am so much indebted," replied the king, "you think then that you are near your capital?" "Yes," said the sultan, "I know it is not above four or five hours' journey." "It will take you a whole year to return," said the prince "I do indeed believe that you came hither from your capital in the time you mention, because mine was enchanted; but since the enchantment is taken off, things are changed: however, this shall not prevent my following you, were it to the utmost corners of the earth. You are my deliverer, and that I may give you proofs of my acknowledging this during my whole life, I am willing to accompany you, and to leave my kingdom without regret."
The sultan was extremely surprised to understand that he was so far from his dominions, and could not imagine how it could be. But the young king of the Black Islands convinced him beyond a possibility of doubt. Then the sultan replied, "It is no matter; the trouble of returning to my own country is sufficiently recompensed by the satisfaction of having obliged you, and by acquiring you for a son; for since you will do me the honour to accompany me, as I have no child, I look upon you as such, and from this moment appoint you my heir and successor."
The conversation between the sultan and the king of the Black Islands concluded with most affectionate embraces, after which the young prince employed himself in making preparations for his journey, which were finished in three weeks, to the great regret of his court and subjects, who agreed to receive at his hands one of his nearest kindred for their monarch.
At length, the sultan and the young prince began their journey, with a hundred camels laden with inestimable riches from the treasury of the young king, followed by fifty handsome gentlemen on horseback, perfectly well mounted and dressed They had a pleasant journey; and when the sultan, who had sent couriers to give advice of his delay, and of the adventure which had occasioned it, approached his capital, the principal officers came to receive him, and to assure him that his long absence had occasioned no alteration in his empire. The inhabitants also came out in great crowds, received him with acclamations, and made public rejoicings for several days.
The day after his arrival the sultan gave all his courtiers a very ample account of the circumstances, which, contrary to his expectation, had detained him so long. He acquainted them with his having adopted the king of the Four Black Islands, who was willing to leave a great kingdom, to accompany and live with him; and, in reward for their loyalty, he made each of them presents according to their rank.
As for the fisherman, as he was the first cause of the deliverance of the young prince, the sultan gave him a plentiful fortune, which made him and his family happy the rest of their days.