THE THREE APPLES.
The Caliph Haroon al Rusheed one day commanded the grand vizier Jaffier to come to his palace the night following. "Vizier," said he, "I will take a walk round the town, to inform myself what people say, and particularly how they are pleased with my officers of justice. If there be any against whom they have cause of just complaint, we will turn them out, and put others in their stead, who shall officiate better. If, on the contrary, there be any that have gained their applause, we will have that esteem for them which they deserve." The grand vizier being come to the palace at the hour appointed, the caliph, he, and Mesrour the chief of the eunuchs, disguised themselves so that they could not be known, and went out all three together.
They passed through several places, and by several markets. As they entered a small street, they perceived by the light of the moon, a tall man, with a white beard, who carried nets on his head, and a staff in his hand. "To judge from his appearance," said the caliph, "that old man is not rich; let us go to him and inquire into his circumstances." "Honest man," said the vizier, "who art thou?" The old man replied, "Sir, I am a fisher, but one of the poorest and most miserable of the trade. I went from my house about noon a fishing, and from that time to this I have not been able to catch one fish; at the same time I have a wife and small children, and nothing to maintain them."
The caliph, moved with compassion, said to the fisherman, "Hast thou the courage to go back and cast thy net once more? We will give thee a hundred sequins for what thou shalt bring up." At this proposal, the fisherman, forgetting all his day's toil, took the caliph at his word, and returned to the Tigris, accompanied by the caliph, Jaaffier, and Mesrour; saying to himself as he went, "These gentlemen seem too honest and reasonable not to reward my pains; and if they give me the hundredth part of what they promise, it will be an ample recompence."
They came to the bank of the river, and the fisherman, having thrown in his net, when he drew it again, brought up a trunk close shut, and very heavy. The caliph made the grand vizier pay him one hundred sequins immediately, and sent him away. Mesrour, by his master's order, carried the trunk on his shoulder, and the caliph was so very eager to know what it contained, that he returned to the palace with all speed. When the trunk was opened, they found in it a large basket made of palm-leaves, shut up, and the covering of it sewed with red thread. To satisfy the caliph's impatience, they would not take time to undo it, but cut the thread with a knife, and took out of the basket a package wrapt up in a sorry piece of hanging, and bound about with a rope; which being untied, they found, to their great amazement, the corpse of a young lady, whiter than snow, all cut in pieces.
The astonishment of the caliph was great at this dreadful spectacle. His surprise was instantly changed into passion, and darting an angry look at the vizier, "Thou wretch," said he, "is this your inspection into the actions of my people? Do they commit such impious murders under thy ministry in my capital, and throw my subjects into the Tigris, that they may cry for vengeance against me at the day of judgment? If thou dost not speedily avenge the murder of this woman, by the death of her murderer, I swear by heaven, that I will cause thee and forty more of thy kindred to be impaled." "Commander of the faithful," replied the grand vizier, "I beg your majesty to grant me time to make enquiry." "I will allow thee no more," said the caliph, "than three days."
The vizier Jaaffier went home in great perplexity. "Alas!" said he "how is it possible that in such a vast and populous city as Bagdad, I should he able to detect a murderer, who undoubtedly committed the crime without witness, and perhaps may be already gone from hence? Any other vizier than I would take some wretched person out of prison, and cause him to be put to death to satisfy the caliph; but I will not burden my conscience with such a barbarous action; I will rather die than preserve my life by the sacrifice of another innocent person."
He ordered the officers of the police and justice to make strict search for the criminal. They sent their servants about, and they were not idle themselves, for they were no less concerned in this matter than the vizier. But all their endeavours were to no purpose; what pains soever they took they could not discover the murderer; so that the vizier concluded his life to be lost.
The third day being arrived, an officer came to the unfortunate minister, with a summons to follow him, which the vizier obeyed. The caliph asked him for the murderer. He answered, "Commander of the faithful, I have not found any person that could give me the least account of him." The caliph, full of fury and rage, gave him many reproachful words, and ordered that he and forty Bermukkees should be impaled at the gate of the palace.
In the mean while the stakes were preparing, and orders were sent to seize forty Bermukkees in their houses; a public crier was sent about the city by the caliph's order, to cry thus: "Those who have a desire to see the grand vizier Jaaffier impaled, with forty of his kindred, let them come to the square before the palace."
When all things were ready, the criminal judge, and many officers belonging to the palace, having brought out the grand vizier with the forty Bermukkees, set each by the stake designed for him. The multitude of people that filled the square could not without grief and tears behold this tragical sight; for the grand vizier and the Bermukkees were loved and honoured on account of their probity, bounty, and impartiality, not only in Bagdad, but through all the dominions of the caliph.
Nothing could prevent the execution of this prince's severe and irrevocable sentence, and the lives of the most deserving people in the city were just going to be sacrificed, when a young man of handsome mien pressed through the crowd till he came up to the grand vizier, and after he had kissed his hand, said, "Most excellent vizier, chief of the emirs of this court, and comforter of the poor, you are not guilty of the crime for which you stand here. Withdraw, and let me expiate the death of the lady that was thrown into the Tigris. It is I who murdered her, and I deserve to be punished for my offence."
Though these words occasioned great joy to the vizier, yet he could not but pity the young man, in whose look he saw something that instead of evincing guilt was engaging: but as he was about to answer him, a tall man advanced in years, who had likewise forced his way through the crowd, came up to him, saying, "Do not believe what this young man tells you, I killed that lady who was found in the trunk, and this punishment ought only to fall upon me. I conjure you in the name of God not to punish the innocent for the guilty." "Sir," said the young man to the vizier, "I do protest that I am he who committed this vile act, and nobody else had any concern in it." "My son," said the old man, "it is despair that brought you hither, and you would anticipate your destiny. I have lived a long while in the world, and it is time for me to be gone; let me therefore sacrifice my life for yours." "Sir," said he again to the vizier, "I tell you once more I am the murderer; let me die without delay."
The controversy between the old and the young man induced the grand vizier to carry them both before the caliph, to which the judge criminal consented, being glad to serve the vizier. When he came before the prince, he kissed the ground seven times, and spake after this manner: "Commander of the faithful, I have brought here before your majesty this old and this young man, each of whom declares himself to be the sole murderer of the lady." The caliph asked the criminals which of them it was that so cruelly murdered the lady, and threw her into the Tigris? The young man assured him it was he, but the old man maintained the contrary. "Go," said the caliph to the grand vizier, "and cause them both to be impaled." "But, Sir," said the vizier, "if only one of them be guilty, it would be unjust to take the lives of both." At these words the young man spoke again, "I swear by the great God, who has raised the heavens so high, that I am the man who killed the lady, cut her in pieces, and about four days ago threw her into the Tigris. I renounce my part of happiness amongst the just at the day of judgment, if what I say be not truth; therefore I am he that ought to suffer." The caliph being surprised at this oath, believed him; especially since the old man made no answer. Whereupon, turning to the young man, "Wretch," said he, "what made thee commit that detestable crime, and what is it that moves thee to offer thyself voluntarily to die?" "Commander of the faithful," said he, "if all that has past between that lady and me were set down in writing, it would be a history that might be useful to other men." "I command thee then to relate it," said the caliph. The young man obeyed, and began his history.
The Story of the Lady who was Murdered, and of the Young Man her Husband.
Commander of the faithful, this murdered lady was my wife, daughter of this old man, who is my uncle by the father's side. She was not above twelve years old, when eleven years ago he gave her to me. I have three children by her, all boys, yet alive, and I must do her the justice to say, that she never gave me the least occasion for offence; she was chaste, of good behaviour, and made it her whole business to please me. And on my part I ardently loved her, and in every thing rather anticipated than opposed her wishes.
About two months ago she fell sick; I took all imaginable care of her, and spared nothing that could promote her speedy recovery. After a month thus passed she began to grow better, and expressed a wish to go to the bath. Before she went, "Cousin," said she (for so she used to call me out of familiarity), "I long for some apples; if you would get me any, you would greatly please me. I have longed for them a great while, and I must own it is come to that height, that if I be not satisfied very soon, I fear some misfortune will befall me." "I will cheerfully try," said I, "and do all in my power to make you easy."
I went immediately round all the markets and shops in the town to seek for apples, but I could not get one, though I offered to pay a sequin a piece. I returned home much dissatisfied at my failure; and for my wife, when she returned from the bagnio, and saw no apples, she became so very uneasy, that she could not sleep all night. I got up by times in the morning, and went through all the gardens, but had no better success than the day before; only I happened to meet an old gardener, who told me, that all my pains would signify nothing, for I could not expect to find apples any where but in your majesty's garden at Bussorah. As I loved my wife passionately, and would not neglect to satisfy her, I dressed myself in a traveller's habit, and after I had told her my design, went to Bussorah, and made my journey with such speed, that I returned at the end of fifteen days with three apples, which cost me a sequin apiece, for as there were no more left, the gardener would not let me have them for less. As soon as I came home, I presented them to my wife, but her longing had ceased, she satisfied herself with receiving them, and laid them down by her. In the mean time she continued sickly, and I knew not what remedy to procure for her relief.
Some few days after I returned from my journey, sitting in my shop in the public place where all sorts of fine stuffs are sold, I saw an ugly, tall, black slave come in, with an apple in his hand, which I knew to be one of those I had brought from Bussorah. I had no reason to doubt it, because I was certain there was not one to be had in Bagdad, nor in any of the gardens in the vicinity. I called to him, and said, "Good slave, pr'ythee tell me where thou hadst this apple?" "It is a present " (said he, smiling) "from my mistress. I went to see her to-day, and found her out of order. I saw three apples lying by her, and asked her where she had them. She told me the good man, her husband, had made a fortnight's journey on purpose, and brought them to her. We had a collation together; and, when I took my leave of her, I brought away this apple."
This account rendered me distracted. I rose, shut up my shop, ran home with all speed, and going to my wife's chamber, looked immediately for the apples, and seeing only two, asked what was become of the third. My wife, turning her head to the place where the apples lay, and perceiving there were but two, answered me coldly, "Cousin, I know not what is become of it." At this reply I was convinced what the slave had told me was true; and giving myself up to madness and jealousy, drew my knife from my girdle, and thrust it into the unfortunate creature's throat. I afterwards cut off her head, and divided her body into four quarters, which I packed up in a bundle, sewed it up with a thread of red yarn, put all together in a trunk, and when night came, carried it on my shoulder down to the Tigris, where I sunk it.
The two youngest of my children were asleep, the third was out; but at my return, I found him sitting by my gate, weeping. I asked him the reason; "Father," said he, "I took this morning from my mother, without her knowledge, one of those three apples you brought her, and kept it a long while; but, as I was playing some time ago with my little brother in the street, a tall slave passing by snatched it out of my hands, and carried it away. I ran after him, demanding it back, and besides told him, that it belonged to my mother, who was sick; and that you had made a fortnight's journey to procure it; but all to no purpose, he would not restore it. And as I still followed him, crying out, he turned and beat me, and then ran away as fast as he could from one lane to another, till at length I lost sight of him. I have since been walking without the town expecting your return, to pray you, dear father, not to tell my mother of it, lest it should make her worse!" When he had thus spoken he fell a weeping again more bitterly than before.
My son's account afflicted me beyond measure. I then found myself guilty of an enormous crime, and repented too late of having so easily believed the calumnies of a wretched slave, who, from what he had learnt of my son, had invented that fatal falsehood.
My uncle here present came just at that time to see his daughter, but instead of finding her alive, understood from me that she was dead, for I concealed nothing from him; and without staying for his censure, declared myself the greatest criminal in the world.
Upon this, instead of reproaching me, he joined his tears with mine, and we together wept three days without intermission, he for the loss of a daughter whom he had loved tenderly; and I for the loss of a beloved wife, of whom I had deprived myself in so cruel a manner by giving too easy credit to the report of a lying slave.
This, commander of the faithful, is the sincere confession your majesty required from me. You have now heard all the circumstances of my crime, and I must humbly beg of you to order the punishment due for it; how severe soever it may be, I shall not in the least complain, but esteem it too easy and light.
The caliph was much astonished at the young man's relation. But this just prince, finding he was rather to be pitied than condemned, began to speak in his favour: "This young man's crime," said he, "is pardonable before God, and excusable with men. The wicked slave is the sole cause of this murder; it is he alone that must be punished: wherefore," continued he, looking upon the grand vizier, "I give you three days' time to find him out; if you do not bring him within that space, you shall die in his stead." The unfortunate Jaaffier, had thought himself out of danger, was perplexed at this order of the caliph; but as he durst not return any answer to the prince, whose hasty temper he knew too well, he departed from his presence, and retired melancholy to his house, convinced that he had but three days to live; for he was so fully persuaded that he should not find the slave, that he made not the least enquiry after him. "Is it possible," said he, "that in such a city as Bagdad, where there is an infinite number of negro slaves, I should be able to find him out that is guilty? Unless God be pleased to interpose as he hath already to detest the murderer, nothing can save my life."
He spent the first two days in mourning with his family, who sat round him weeping and complaining of the caliph's cruelty. The third day being arrived, he prepared himself to die with courage, as an honest minister, and one who had nothing to trouble his conscience; he sent for notaries and witnesses' who signed his will. After which he took leave of his wife and children, and bade them farewell. All his family were drowned in tears, so that there never was a more sorrowful spectacle. At last a messenger came from the caliph to tell him that he was out of all patience, having heard nothing from him concerning the negro slave whom he had commanded him to search for; "I am therefore ordered," said the messenger, "to bring you before his throne." The afflicted vizier, obeyed the mandate, but as he was going out, they brought him his youngest daughter, about five or six years of age, to receive his last blessing.
As he had a particular affection for that child, he prayed the messenger to give him leave to stop a moment, and taking his daughter in his arms, kissed her several times: as he kissed her, he perceived she had something in her bosom that looked bulky, and had a sweet scent. "My dear little one," said he, "what hast thou in thy bosom?" "My dear father," she replied, "it is an apple which our slave Rihan sold me for two sequins."
At these words apple and slave, the grand vizier, uttered an exclamation of surprise, intermixed with joy, and putting his hand into the child's bosom, pulled out the apple. He caused the slave, who was not far off, to be brought immediately, and when he came, "Rascal," said he, "where hadst thou this apple?" "My lord," replied the slave, "I swear to you that I neither stole it in your house, nor out of the commander of the faithful's garden; but the other day, as I was passing through a street where three or four children were at play, one of them having it in his hand, I snatched it from him, and carried it away. The child ran after me, telling me it was not his own, but belonged mother, who was sick; and that his father, to satisfy her longing, had made a long journey, and brought home three apples, whereof this was one, which he had taken from his mother without her knowledge. He said all he could to prevail upon me to give it him back, but I refused, and so brought it home, and sold it for two sequins to the little lady your daughter."
Jaaffier could not reflect without astonishment that the mischievousness of a slave had been the cause of an innocent woman's death, and nearly of his own. He carried the slave along with him, and when he came before the caliph, gave the prince an exact account of what the slave had told him, and the chance which led him to the discovery of his crime.
Never was any surprise so great as that of the caliph, yet he could not refrain from falling into excessive fits of laughter. At last he recovered himself, and with a serious air told the vizier, that since his slave had been the occasion of murder, he deserved an exemplary punishment. "I must own it," said the vizier, "but his guilt is not unpardonable: I remember the wonderful history of a vizier, of Cairo, and am ready to relate it, upon condition that if your majesty finds it more astonishing than that which gives me occasion to tell it, you will be pleased to pardon my slave." "I consent," said the caliph; "but you undertake a hard task, for I do not believe you can save your slave, the story of the apples being so very singular." Upon this, Jaaffier began his story thus:
The Story of Noor ad Deen Ali and Buddir ad Deen Houssun.
Commander of the faithful, there was formerly a sultan of Egypt, a strict observer of justice, gracious, merciful, and liberal, and his valour made him terrible to his neighbours. He loved the poor, and protected the learned, whom he advanced to the highest dignities. This sultan had a vizier, who was prudent, wise, sagacious, and well versed in all sciences. This minister had two sons, who in every thing followed his footsteps. The eldest was called Shumse ad Deen Mahummud, and the younger Noor ad Deen Ali. The latter was endowed with all the good qualities that man could possess.
The vizier their father being dead, the sultan caused them both to put on the robes of a vizier, "I am as sorry," said he, "as you are for the loss of your father; and because I know you live together, and love one another cordially, I will bestow his dignity upon you conjointly; go, and imitate your father's conduct."
The two new viziers humbly thanked the sultan, and retired to make due preparation for their father's interment. They did not go abroad for a month, after which they repaired to court, and attended their duties. When the sultan hunted, one of the brothers accompanied him, and this honour they had by turns. One evening as they were conversing together after a cheerful meal, the next day being the elder brother's turn to hunt with the sultan, he said to his younger brother, "Since neither of us is yet married, and we live so affectionately together, let us both wed the same day sisters out of some family that may suit our quality. What do you think of this plan?" "Brother," answered the other vizier, "there cannot be a better thought; for my part, I will agree to any thing you approve." "But this is not all," said the elder; "my fancy carries me farther: Suppose both our wives should conceive the first night of our marriage, and should happen to be brought to bed on one day, yours of a son, and mine of a daughter, we will give them to each other in marriage." "Nay," said Noor ad Deen aloud, "I must acknowledge that this prospect is admirable; such a marriage will perfect our union, and I willingly consent to it. But then, brother," said he farther, "if this marriage should happen, would you expect that my son should settle a jointure on your daughter?" "There is no difficulty in that," replied the other; "for I am persuaded, that besides the usual articles of the marriage contract, you will not fail to promise in his name at least three thousand sequins, three landed estates, and three slaves." "No," said the younger "I will not consent to that; are we not brethren, and equal in title and dignity? Do not you and I know what is just? The male being nobler than the female, it is your part to give a large dowry with your daughter. By what I perceive, you are a man that would have your business done at another's charge."
Although Noor ad Deen spoke these words in jest, his brother being of a hasty temper, was offended, and falling into a passion said, "A mischief upon your son, since you prefer him before my daughter. I wonder you had so much confidence as to believe him worthy of her; you must needs have lost your judgment to think you are my equal, and say we are colleagues. I would have you to know, that since you are so vain, I would not marry my daughter to your son though you would give him more than you are worth." This pleasant quarrel between two brothers about the marriage of their children before they were born went so far, that Shumse ad Deen concluded by threatening: "Were I not to-morrow," said he, "to attend the sultan, I would treat you as you deserve; but at my return, I will make you sensible that it does not become a younger brother to speak so insolently to his elder as you have done to me." Upon this he retired to his apartment in anger.
Shumse ad Deen rising early next morning, attended the sultan, who went to hunt near the pyramids. As for Noor ad Deen, he was very uneasy all night, and supposing it would not be possible to live longer with a brother who had treated him with so much haughtiness, he provided a stout mule, furnished himself with money and jewels, and having told his people that he was going on a private journey for two or three days, departed.
When out of Cairo, he rode by way of the desert towards Arabia; but his mule happening to tire, was forced to continue his journey on foot. A courier who was going to Bussorah, by good fortune overtaking him, took him up behind him. As soon as the courier reached that city, Noor ad Deen alighted, and returned him thanks for his kindness. As he went about to seek for a lodging, he saw a person of quality with a numerous retinue, to whom all the people shewed the greatest respect, and stood still till he had passed. This personage was grand vizier, to the sultan of Bussorah, who was passing through the city to see that the inhabitants kept good order and discipline.
This minister casting his eyes by chance on Noor ad Deen Ali, perceiving something extraordinary in his aspect, looked very attentively upon him, and as he saw him in a traveller's habit, stopped his train, asked him who he was, and from whence he came? "Sir," said Noor ad Deen, "I am an Egyptian, born at Cairo, and have left my country, because of the unkindness of a near relation, resolved to travel through the world, and rather to die than return home." The grand vizier, who was a good-natured man, after hearing these words, said to him, "Son, beware; do not pursue your design; you are not sensible of the hardships you must endure. Follow me; I may perhaps make you forget the misfortunes which have forced you to leave your own country."
Noor ad Deen followed the grand vizier, who soon discovered his good qualities, and conceived for him so great an affection, that one day he said to him in private, "My son, I am, as you see, so far gone in years, that it is not probable I shall live much longer. Heaven has bestowed on me only one daughter, who is as beautiful as you are handsome, and now fit for marriage. Several nobles of the highest rank at this court have sought her for their sons, but I would not grant their request. I have an affection for you, and think you so worthy to be received into my family, that, preferring you before all those who have demanded her, I am ready to accept you for my son-in-law. If you like the proposal, I will acquaint the sultan my master that I have adopted you by this marriage, and intreat him to grant you the reversion of my dignity of grand vizier in the kingdom of Bussorah. In the mean time, nothing being more requisite for me than ease in my old age, I will not only put you in possession of great part of my estate, but leave the administration of public affairs to your management."
When the grand vizier had concluded this kind and generous proposal, Noor ad Deen fell at his feet, and expressing himself in terms that demonstrated his joy and gratitude, assured him, that he was at his command in every way. Upon this the vizier sent for his chief domestics, ordered them to adorn the great hall of his palace, and prepare a splendid feast. He afterwards sent to invite the nobility of the court and city, to honour him with their company; and when they were all met (Noor ad Deen having made known his quality), he said to the noblemen present, for he thought it proper to speak thus on purpose to satisfy those to whom he had refused his alliance, "I am now, my lords, to discover a circumstance which hitherto I have keep a secret. I have a brother, who is grand vizier to the sultan of Egypt. This brother has but one son, whom he would not marry in the court of Egypt, but sent him hither to wed my daughter in order that both branches of our family may be united. His son, whom I knew to be my nephew as soon as I saw him, is the young man I now present to you as my son-in-law. I hope you will do me the honour to be present at his wedding, which I am resolved to celebrate this day." The noblemen, who could not be offended at his preferring his nephew to the great matches that had been proposed, allowed that he had very good reason for his choice, were willing to be witnesses to the ceremony, and wished that God might prolong his days to enjoy the satisfaction of the happy match.
The lords met at the vizier of Bussorah's palace, having testified their satisfaction at the marriage of his daughter with Noor ad Deen Ali, sat down to a magnificent repast, after which, notaries came in with the marriage contrast, and the chief lords signed it; and when the company had departed, the grand vizier ordered his servants to have every thing in readiness for Noor ad Deen Ali, to bathe. He had fine new linen, and rich vestments provided for him in the greatest profusion. Having bathed and dressed, he was perfumed with the most odoriferous essences, and went to compliment the vizier, his father-in- law, who was exceedingly pleased with his noble demeanour. Having made him sit down, "My son," said he, "you have declared to me who you are, and the office you held at the court of Egypt. You have also told me of a difference betwixt you and your brother, which occasioned you to leave your country. I desire you to make me your entire confidant, and to acquaint me with the cause of your quarrel; for now you have no reason either to doubt my affection, or to conceal any thing from me."
Noor ad Deen informed him of every circumstance of the quarrel; at which the vizier, burst out into a fit of laughter, and said, "This is one of the strangest occurrences I ever heard. Is it possible, my son, that your quarrel should rise so high about an imaginary marriage? I am sorry you fell out with your elder brother upon such a frivolous matter; but he was also wrong in being angry at what you only spoke in jest, and I ought to thank heaven for that difference which has procured me such a son-in-law. But," continued the vizier, "it is late, and time for you to retire; go to your bride, my son, she expects you: to-morrow, I will present you to the sultan, and hope he will receive you in such a manner as shall satisfy us both." Noor ad Deen Ali took leave of his father-in-law, and retired to his bridal apartment.
It is remarkable that Shumse ad Deen Mahummud happened also to marry at Cairo the very same day that this marriage was solemnized at Bussorah, the particulars of which are as follow:
After Noor ad Deen Ali left Cairo, with an intention never to return, his elder brother, who was hunting with the sultan of Egypt, was absent for a month; for the sultan being fond of the chase, continued it often for so long a period. At his return, Shumse ad Deen was much surprised when he understood, that under presence of taking a short journey his brother departed from Cairo on a mule the same day as the sultan, and had never appeared since. It vexed him so much the more, because he did not doubt but the harsh words he had used had occasioned his flight. He sent a messenger in search of him, who went to Damascus, and as far as Aleppo, but Noor ad Deen was then at Bussorah. When the courier returned and brought no news of him, Shumse ad Deen intended to make further inquiry after him in other parts; but in the meantime matched with the daughter of one of the greatest lords in Cairo, upon the same day in which his brother married the daughter of the grand vizier, of Bussorah.
At the end of nine months the wife of Shumse ad Deen was brought to bed of a daughter at Cairo, and on the same day the lady of Noor ad Deen was delivered of a son at Bussorah, who was called Buddir ad Deen Houssun.
The grand vizier, of Bussorah testified his joy for the birth of his grandson by gifts and public entertainments. And to shew his son-in-law the great esteem he had for him, he went to the palace, and most humbly besought the sultan to grant Noor ad Deen Ali his office, that he might have the comfort before his death to see his son in-law made grand vizier, in his stead.
The sultan, who had conceived a distinguished regard for Noor ad Deen when the vizier, had presensed him upon his marriage, and had ever since heard every body speak well of him, readily granted his father-in-law's request, and caused Noor ad Deen immediately to be invested with the robe and insignia of the vizarut, such as state drums, standards, and writing apparatus of gold richly enamelled and set with jewels.
The next day, when the father saw his son-in-law preside in council, as he himself had done, and perform all the offices of grand vizier, his joy was complete. Noor ad Deen Ali conducted himself with that dignity and propriety which shewed him to have been used to state affairs, and engaged the approbation of the sultan, and reverence and affection of the people.
The old vizier of Bussorah died about four years afterwards with great satisfaction, seeing a. branch of his family that promised so fair to support its future consequence and respectability.
Noor ad Deen Ali, performed his last duty to him with all possible love and gratitude. And as soon as his son Buddir ad Deen Houssun had attained the age of seven years, provided him an excellent tutor, who taught him such things as became his birth. The child had a ready wit, and a genius capable of receiving all the good instructions that could be given.
After Buddir ad Deen had been two years under the tuition of his master, who taught him perfectly to read, he learnt the Koran by heart. His father put him afterwards to other tutors, by whom his mind was cultivated to such a degree, that when he was twelve years of age he had no more occasion for them. And then, as his physiognomy promised wonders, he was admired by all who saw him.
Hitherto his father had kept him to study, but now he introduced him to the sultan, who received him graciously. The people who saw him in the streets were charmed with his demeanour, and gave him a thousand blessings.
His father proposing to render him capable of supplying his place, accustomed him to business of the greatest moment, on purpose to qualify him betimes. In short, he omitted nothing to advance a son he loved so well. But as he began to enjoy the fruits of his labour, he was suddenly seized by a violent fit of sickness; and finding himself past recovery, disposed himself to die a good Mussulmaun.
In that last and precious moment he forgot not his son, but called for him, and said, "My son, you see this world is transitory; there is nothing durable but in that to which I shall speedily go. You must therefore from henceforth begin to fit yourself for this change, as I have done; you must prepare for it without murmuring, so as to have no trouble of conscience for not having acted the part of a really honest man. As for your religion, you are sufficiently instructed in it, by what you have learnt from your tutors, and your own study; and as to what belongs to an upright man, I shall give you some instructions, of which I hope you will make good use. As it is a necessary thing to know one's self, and you cannot come to that knowledge without you first understand who I am, I shall now inform you.
"I am a native of Egypt; my father, your grandfather, was first minister to the sultan of that kingdom. I had myself the honour to be vizier, to that sultan, and so has my brother, your uncle, who I suppose is yet alive; his name is Shumse ad Deen Mahummud. I was obliged to leave him, and come into this country, where I have raised myself to the high dignity I now enjoy. But you will understand all these matters more fully by a manuscript that I shall give you."
At the same time, Noor ad Deen Ali gave to his son a memorandum book, saying, "Take and read it at your leisure; you will find, among other things, the day of my marriage, and that of your birth. These are circumstances which perhaps you may hereafter have occasion to know, therefore you must keep it very carefully."
Buddir ad Deen Houssun being sincerely afflicted to see his father in this condition, and sensibly touched with his discourse, could not but weep when he received the memorandum book, and promised at the same time never to part with it.
That very moment Noor ad Deen fainted, so that it was thought he would have expired; but he came to himself again, and spoke as follows:
"My son, the first instruction I give you, is, Not to make yourself familiar with all sorts of people. The way to live happy is to keep your mind to yourself, and not to tell your thoughts too easily.
"Secondly, Not to do violence to any body whatever, for in that case you will draw every body's hatred upon you. You ought to consider the world as a creditor, to whom you owe moderation, compassion, and forbearance.
"Thirdly, Not to say a word when you are reproached; for, as the proverb says, 'He that keeps silence is out of danger.' And in this case particularly you ought to practice it. You also know what one of our poets says upon this subject, 'That silence is the ornament and safe-guard of life'; That our speech ought not to be like a storm of hail that spoils all. Never did any man yet repent of having spoken too little, whereas many have been sorry that they spoke so much.
"Fourthly, To drink no wine, for that is the source of all vices.
" Fifthly, To be frugal in your way of living; if you do not squander your estate, it will maintain you in time of necessity. I do not mean you should be either profuse or niggardly; for though you have little, if you husband it well, and lay it out on proper occasions, you will have many friends; but if on the contrary you have great riches, and make but a bad use of them, all the world will forsake you, and leave you to yourself.
In short, the virtuous Noor ad Deen continued till the last aspiration of his breath to give good advice to his son; and when he was dead he was magnificently interred.
Noor ad Deen was buried with all the honours due to his rank. Buddir ad Deen Houssun of Bussorah, for so he was called, because born in that city, was with grief for the death of his father, that instead of a month's time to mourn, according to custom, he kept himself shut up in tears and solitude about two months, without seeing any body, or so much as going abroad to pay his duty to his sovereign. The sultan being displeased at his neglect, and looking upon it as a alight, suffered his passion to prevail, and in his anger, called for the new grand vizier, (for he had created another on the death of Noor ad Deen), commanded him to go to the house of the deceased, and seize upon it, with all his other houses, lands, and effects, without leaving any thing for Buddir ad Deen Houssun, and to confine his person.
The new grand vizier, accompanied by his officers, went immediately to execute his commission. But one of Buddir ad Deen Houssun's slaves happening accidentally to come into the crowd, no sooner understood the vizier's errand, than he ran before to give his master warning. He found him sitting in the vestibule of his house, as melancholy as if his father had been but newly dead. He fell down at his feet out of breath, and alter he had kissed the hem of his garment, cried out, "My lord, save yourself immediately." The unfortunate youth lifting up his head, exclaimed, "What news dost thou bring?" "My lord," said he, "there is no time to be lost; the sultan is incensed against you, has sent to confiscate your estates, and to seize your person."
The words of this faithful and affectionate slave occasioned Buddir ad Deen Houssun great alarm. "May not I have so much time," said he, "as to take some money and jewels along with me?" ``No, Sir," replied the slave, "the grand vizier, will be here this moment; be gone immediately, save yourself." The unhappy youth rose hastily from his sofa, put his feet in his sandals, and after he had covered his head with the skirt of his vest, that his face might not be known, fled, without knowing what way to go, to avoid the impending danger.
He ran without stopping till he came to the public burying-ground, and as it was growing dark, resolved to pass that night in his father's tomb. It was a large edifice, covered by a dome, which Noor ad Deen Ali, as is common with the Mussulmauns, had erected for his sepulture. On the way Buddir ad Deen met a Jew, who was a banker and merchant, and was returning from a place where his affairs had called him, to the city.
The Jew, knowing Buddir ad Deen, stopped, and saluted him very courteously.
Isaac the Jew, after he had paid his respects to Buddir ad Deen Houssun, by kissing his hand, said, "My lord, dare I be so bold as to ask whither you are going at this time of night alone, and so much troubled? Has any thing disquieted you?" "Yes," said Buddir ad Deen, "a while ago I was asleep, and my father appeared to me in a dream, looking very fiercely upon me, as if much displeased. I started out of my sleep in alarm, and came out immediately to go and pray upon his tomb."
"My lord," said the Jew (who did not know the true reason why Buddir ad Deen had left the town), "your father of happy memory, and my good lord, had store of merchandize in several vessels, which are yet at sea, and belong to you; I beg the favour of you to grant me the refusal of them before any other merchant. I am able to pay down ready money for all the goods that are in your ships: and to begin, if you will give me those that happen to come in the first that arrives in safety, I will pay you down in part of payment a thousand sequins," and drawing out a bag from under his vest, he shewed it him sealed up with one seal.
Buddir ad Deen Houssun being banished from home, and dispossessed of all that he had in the world, looked on this proposal of the Jew as a favour from heaven, and therefore accepted it with joy. "My lord," said the Jew, "then you sell me for a thousand sequins the lading of the first of your ships that shall arrive in port?" "Yes," answered Buddir ad Deen, "I sell it to you for a thousand sequins; it is done." Upon this the Jew delivered him the bag of a thousand sequins, and offered to count them, but Buddir ad Deen said he would trust his word. "Since it is so, my lord," said he, "be pleased to favour me with a small note of the bargain we have made." As he spoke, he pulled the inkhorn from his girdle, and taking a small reed out of it neatly cut for writing, presented it to him with a piece of paper. Buddir ad Deen Houssun wrote these words:
"This writing is to testify, that Buddir ad Deen Houssun of Bussorah, has sold to Isaac the Jew, for the sum of one thousand sequins, received in hand, the lading of the first of his ships that shall arrive in this port."
This note he delivered to the Jew, after having stamped it with his seal, and then took his leave of him.
While Isaac pursued his journey to the city, Buddir ad Deen made the best of his way to his father's tomb. When he came to it, he prostrated himself to the ground, and, with his eyes full of tears, deplored his miserable condition. "Alas!" said he, "unfortunate Buddir ad Deen, what will become of thee? Whither canst thou fly for refuge against the unjust prince who persecutes thee? Was it not enough to be afflicted by the death of so dear a father? Must fortune needs add new misfortunes to just complaints?" He continued a long time in this posture, but at last rose up, and leaning his head upon his father's tombstone, his sorrows returned more violently than before; so that he sighed and mourned, till, overcome with heaviness, he sunk upon the floor, and drops asleep.
He had not slept long, when a genie, who had retired to the cemetery during the day, and was intending, according to his custom, to range about the world at night, entered the sepulchre, and finding Buddir ad Deen lying on his back, was surprised at his beauty.
When the genie had attentively considered Buddir ad Deen Houssun, he said to himself, "To judge of this creature by his beauty, he would seem to be an angel of the terrestrial paradise, whom God has sent to put the world in a flame by his charms." At last, after he had satisfied himself with looking at him, he tool; a flight into the air, where meeting by chance with a perie, they saluted one another; after which he said to her, "Pray descend with me into the cemetery, where I dwell, and I will shew you a beauty worthy your admiration." The perie consented, and both descended in an instant; they came into the tomb. "Look," said the genie, shewing her Buddir ad Deen Houssun, "did you ever see a youth more beautiful?"
The perie having attentively observed Buddir ad Deen, replied, "I must confess that he is a very handsome man, but I am just come from seeing an objets at Cairo, more admirable than this; and if you will hear me, I will relate her unhappy fate." "You will very much oblige me," answered the genie. "You must know then," said the perie, "that the sultan of Egypt has a vizier, Shumse ad Deen Mahummud, who has a daughter most beautiful and accomplished. The sultan having heard of this young lady's beauty, sent the other day for her father, and said, 'I understand you have a daughter to marry; I would have her for my bride: will not you consent?' The vizier, who did not expect this proposal, was troubled, and instead of accepting it joyfully, which another in his place would certainly have done, he answered the sultan: 'May it please your majesty, I am not worthy of the honour you would confer upon me, and I most humbly beseech you to pardon me, if I do not accede to your request. You know I had a brother, who had the honour, as well as myself, to be one of your viziers: we had some difference together, which was the cause of his leaving me suddenly. Since that time I have had no account of him till within these four days, that I heard he died at Bussorah, being grand vizier to the sultan of that kingdom.
"'He has left a son, and there having been an agreement between us to match our children together, I am persuaded he intended that match when he died; and being desirous to fulfil the promise on my part, I conjure your majesty to grant me permission.'
"The sultan of Egypt, provoked at this denial of his vizier said to him in anger which he could not restrain: 'Is this the way in which you requite my condescension in stooping so low as to desire your alliance? I know how to revenge your presumption in daring to prefer another to me, and I swear that your daughter shall be married to the most contemptible and ugly of my slaves.' Having thus spoken, he angrily commanded the vizier to quit his presence. The vizier retired to his palace full of confusion, and overwhelmed in despair.
"This very day the sultan sent for one of his grooms, who is hump-backed, big-bellied, crook legged, and as ugly as a hobgoblin; and after having commanded the vizier to marry his daughter to this ghastly slave, he caused the contract to be made and signed by witnesses in his own presence. The preparations for this fantastical wedding are all ready, and this very moment all the slaves belonging to the lords of the court of Egypt are waiting at the door of a bath, each with a flambeau in his hand, for the crook-back groom, who is bathing, to go along with them to his bride, who is already dressed to receive him; and when I departed from Cairo, the ladies met for that purpose were going to conduct her in her nuptial attire to the hall, where she is to receive her hump-backed bridegroom, and is this minute expecting him. I have seen her, and do assure you, that no person can behold her without admiration."
When the perie left off speaking, the genie said to her, "Whatever you think or say, I cannot be persuaded that the girl's beauty exceeds that of this young man." "I will not dispute it with you," answered the perie; "for I must confess he deserves to be married to that charming creature, whom they design for hump-back; and I think it were a deed worthy of us to obstruct the sultan of Egypt's injustice, and put this young gentleman in the room of the slave." "You are in the right," answered the genie; "I am extremely obliged to you for so good a thought; let us deceive him. I consent to your revenge upon the sultan of Egypt; let us comfort a distressed father, and make his daughter as happy as she thinks herself miserable. I will do my utmost endeavours to make this project succeed, and I am persuaded you will not be backward. I will be at the pains to carry him to Cairo before he awakes, and afterwards leave it to your care to carry him elsewhere, when we have accomplished our design."
The perie and the genie having thus concerted what they had to do, the genie lifted up Buddir ad Deen Houssun gently, and with an inconceivable swiftness conveyed him through the air and set him down at the door of a building next to the bath, whence hump-back was to come with a train of slaves that waited for him. Buddir ad Deen awoke, and was naturally alarmed at finding himself in the middle of a city he knew not; he was going to cry out, but the genie touched him gently on the shoulder, and forbad him to speak. He then put a torch in his hand, saying, "Go, and mix with the crowd at the door of the bath; follow them till you come into a hall, where they are going to celebrate a marriage. The bridegroom is a hump-backed fellow, and by that you will easily know him. Put yourself at the right hand as you go in, open the purse of sequins you have in your bosom, distribute them among the musicians and dancers as they go along; and when you are got into the hall, give money also to the female slaves you see about the bride; but every time you put your hand in your purse, be sure to take out a whole handful, and do not spare them. Observe to do everything exactly as I have desired you; be not afraid of any person, and leave the rest to a superior power, who will order matters as he thinks fit."
Buddir ad Deen, being well instructed in all that he was to do, advanced towards the door of the bath. The first thing he did was to light his torch at that of a slave; and then mixing among them as if he belonged to some noblemen of Cairo, he marched along as they did, and followed humpback, who came out of the bath, and mounted a horse from the sultan's own stable.
Buddir ad Deen coming near to the musicians, and men and women dancers, who went just before the bridegroom, pulled out time after time whole handfuls of sequins, which he distributed among them: and as he thus gave his money with an unparalleled grace and engaging mien, all who received it fixed their eyes upon him; and after they had a full view of his face, they found him so handsome that they could not withdraw their attention.
At last they came to the gates of the vizier who little thought his nephew was so near. The doorkeepers, to prevent any disorder, kept back all the slaves that carried torches, and would not admit them. Buddir ad Deen was likewise refused; but the musicians, who had free entrance, stood still, and protested they would not go in, if they hindered him from accompanying them. "He is not one of the slaves'" said they; "look upon him, and you will soon be satisfied. He is certainly a young stranger, who is curious to see the ceremonies observed at marriages in this city;" and saying thus, they put him in the midst of them, and carried him with them in spite of the porters. They took his torch out of his hand, gave it to the first they met, and having brought him into the hall, placed him at the right hand of the hump-backed bridegroom, who sat near the vizier's daughter on a throne most richly adorned.
She appeared very lovely, but in her face there was nothing to be seen but vexation and grief. The cause of this was easily to be guessed, when she had by her side a bridegroom so very deformed, and so unworthy of her love. The nuptial seat was in the midst of an estrade. The ladies of the emirs, viziers, those of the sultan's bed-chamber, and several other ladies of the court and city, were placed on each side, a little lower, every one according to her rank, and richly dressed, holding a large wax taper in her hands.
When they saw Buddir ad Deen Houssun, all fixed their eyes upon him, and admiring his shape, his behaviour, and the beauty of his face, they could not forbear looking upon him. When he was seated every one deft their seats, came near him to have a full view of his face, and all found themselves moved with love and admiration.
The disparity between Buddir ad Deen Houssun and the hump-backed groom, who made such a contemptible figure, occasioned great murmuring among the company; insomuch that the ladies cried out, "We must give our bride to this handsome young gentleman, and not to this ugly humpback." Nor did they rest here, but uttered imprecations against the sultan, who, abusing his absolute power, would unite ugliness and beauty together. They also mocked the bridegroom, so as to put him out of countenance, to the great satisfaction of the spectators, whose shouts for some time put a stop to the concert of music in the hall. At last the musicians began again, and the women who had dressed the bride surrounded her.
Each time that the bride retired to change her dress, she on her return passed by hump-back without giving him one look, and went towards Buddir ad Deen, before whom she presented herself in her new attire. On this occasion, Buddir ad Deen, according to the instructions given him by the genie, failed not to put his hands in his purse, and pulled out handfuls of sequins, which he distributed among the women that followed the bride. Nor did he forget the players and dancers, but also threw money to them. It was pleasant to see how they pushed one another to gather it up. They shewed themselves thankful for his liberality.
When the ceremony of changing habits was passed, the music ceased and the company retired. The bride repaired to the nuptial chamber, whither her attendants followed to undress her, and none remained in the hall but the hump-back groom, Buddir ad Deen, and some of the domestics.
Hump-back, who was enraged at Buddir ad Deen, suspecting him to be his rival, gave him a cross look, and said, "And thou, what dost thou wait for? Why art thou not gone as well as the rest? Depart!" Buddir ad Deen having no pretence to stay, withdrew, not knowing what to do with himself. But before he got out of the vestibule, the genie and the perie met and stopped him. "Whither are you going?" said the perie; "stay, hump-back is not in the hall, return, and introduce yourself into the bride's chamber. As soon as you are alone with her, tell her boldly that you are her husband, that the sultan's intention was only to make sport with the groom. In the mean time we will take care that the hump-back shall not return, and let nothing hinder your passing the night with your bride, for she is yours and not his."
While the perie thus encouraged Buddir ad Deen, and instructed him how he should behave himself, hump-back had really gone out of the room for a moment. The genie went to him in the shape of a monstrous cat, mewing at a most fearful rate. Hump-back called to the cat, he clapped his hands to drive her away, but instead of retreating, she stood upon her hinder feet, staring with her eyes like fire, looking fiercely at him, mewing louder than she did at first, and increasing in size till she was as large as an ass. At this sight, hump-back would have cried out for help, but his fear was so great, that he stood gaping and could not utter one word. That he might have no time to recover, the genie changed himself immediately into a large buffalo, and in this stripe called to him, with a voice that redoubled his fear, "Thou hump-backed villain!" At these words the affrighted groom cast himself upon the ground, and covering his face with his vest, that he might not see this dreadful beast, "Sovereign prince of buffaloes," said he, "what is it you want of me?" "Woe be to thee," replied the genie, "hast thou the presumption to venture to marry my mistress?" "O my lord," said hump-back, "I pray you to pardon me, if I am guilty, it is through ignorance. I did not know that this lady had a buffalo to her sweetheart: command me in anything you please, I give you my oath that I am ready to obey you." "By death," replied the genie; "if thou goest out from hence, or speakest a word till the sun rises, I will crush thy head to pieces. I warn thee to obey, for if thou hast the impudence to return, it shall cost thee thy life." When the genie had done speaking, he transformed himself into the shape of a man, took hump-back by the legs, and after having set him against the wall with his head downwards, "If thou stir," said he, "before the sun rise, as I have told thee already, I will take thee by the heels again, and dash thy head in a thousand pieces against the wall."
To return to Buddir ad Deen. Prompted by the genie and the presence of the perie, he returned to the hall, from whence he slips into the bride-chamber, where he sat down, expecting the success of his adventure. After a while the bride arrived, conducted by an old matron, who came no farther than the door, without looking in to see whether it were hump-back or another that was there, and then retired.
The beautiful bride was agreeably surprised to find instead of hump-back a handsome youth, who gracefully addressed her. "What! my dear friend," said she, "by your being here at this time of night you must be my husband's comrade?" "No, madam," said Buddir ad Deen, "I am of another quality than that ugly hump-back." "But," said she, "you do not consider that you speak degradingly of my husband." "He your husband," replied he: "can you retain those thoughts so long? Be convinced of your mistake, for so much beauty must never be sacrificed to the most contemptible of mankind. It is I that am the happy mortal for whom it is reserved. The sultan had a mind to make himself merry, by putting this trick upon the vizier your father, but he chose me to be your real husband. You might have observed how the ladies, the musicians, the dancers, your women, and all the servants of your family, were pleased with this comedy. We have sent hump-back to his stable again."
At this discourse the vizier's daughter (who was more like one dead than alive when she came into the bride-chamber) put on a gay air, which made her so handsome, that Buddir ad Deen was charmed with her graces.
"I did not expect," said she, "to meet with so pleasing a surprise; and I had condemned myself to live unhappy all my days. But my good fortune is so much the greater, that I possess in you a man worthy of my tenderest affection."
Buddir ad Deen, overjoyed to see himself possessor of so many charms, retired with his bride, and laid his vesture aside, with the bag that he had from the Jew; which, notwithstanding all the money he had dispersed, was still full.
Towards morning, while the two lovers were asleep, the genie, who had met again with the perie, said, "It is time to finish what we have so successfully carried on; let us not be overtaken by day-light, which will soon appear; go you and bring off the young man again without awaking him."
The perie went into the bed-chamber where the two lovers were fast asleep, took up Buddir ad Deen in his under vest and drawers; and in company with the genie with wonderful swiftness fled away with him to the gates of Damascus in Syria, where they arrived just at the time when the officers of the mosques, appointed for that end, were calling the people to prayers at break of day. The perie laid Buddir ad Deen softly on the ground, close by the gate, and departed with the genie.
The gate of the city being opened, and many people assembled, they were surprised to see a youth lying in his shirt and drawers upon the ground. One said, "He has been hard put to it to get away from his mistress, that he could not get time to put on his clothes." "Look," said another, "how people expose themselves; sure enough he has spent most part of the night in drinking with his friends, till he has got drunk, and then, perhaps, having occasion to go out, instead of returning, is come this length, and not having his senses about him, was overtaken with sleep." Others were of another opinion; but nobody could guess what had been the real occasion of his coming thither.
A small puff of wind happening to blow at this time, uncovered his breast, which was whiter than snow. Every one being struck with admiration at the fineness of his complexion, they spoke so loud that they awaked him.
His surprise was as great as theirs, when he found himself at the gate of a city where he had never been before, and encompassed by a crowd of people gazing at him. "Inform me," said he, "for God's sake, where I am, and what you would have?" One of the crowd spoke to him saying, "Young man, the gates of the city were just now opened, and as we came out we found you lying here in this condition: have you lain here all night? and do not you know that you are at one of the gates of Damascus?" "At one of the gates of Damascus!" answered Buddir ad Deen, "surely you mock me. When I lay down to sleep last night I was at Cairo." When he had said this, some of the people, moved with compassion for him, exclaimed, "It is a pity that such a handsome young man should have lost his senses;" and so went away.
"My son," said an old man to him, "you know not what you say. How is it possible that you, being this morning at Damascus, could be last night at Cairo?" "It is true," said Buddir ad Deen, "and I swear to you, that I was all day yesterday at Bussorah." He had no sooner said this than all the people fell into a fit of laughter, and cried out, "He's a fool, he's a madman." There were some, however, that pitied him because of his youth; and one among the company said to him, "My son, you must certainly be crazed, you do not consider what you say. Is it possible that a man could yesterday be at Bussorah, the same night at Cairo, and this morning at Damascus? Surely you are asleep still, come rouse up your spirits." "What I say," answered Buddir ad Deen Houssun, "is so true that last night I was married in the city of Cairo." All those who laughed before, could not forbear again at this declaration. "Recollect yourself," said the same person who spoke before; "you must have dreamt all this, and the fancy still possesses your brain." "I am sensible of what I say," answered the young man. "Pray can you tell me how it was possible for me to go in a dream to Cairo, where I am very certain I was in person, and where my bride was seven times brought before me, each time dressed in a different habit, and where I saw an ugly hump backed fellow, to whom they intended to give her? Besides, I want to know what is become of my vest, my turban, and the bag of sequins I had at Cairo?"
Though he assured them that all these things were matters of fact, yet they could not forbear to laugh at him: which put him into such confusion, that he knew not what to think of all those adventures.
After Buddir ad Deen Houssun had confidently affirmed all that he said to be true, he rose up to go into the town, and every one who followed him called out, "A madman, a fool." Upon this some looked out at their windows, some came to their doors, and others joined with those that were about him, calling out as they did, "A madman;" but not knowing for what. In this perplexity the affrighted young man happened to come before a pastry-cook's shop, and went into it to avoid the rabble.
This pastry-cook had formerly been captain to a troop of Arabian robbers, who plundered the caravans; and though he was become a citizen of Damascus, where he behaved himself to every one's satisfaction, yet he was dreaded by all who knew him; wherefore, as soon as he came out to the rabble who followed Buddir ad Deen, they dispersed.
The pastry-cook asked him who he was, and what brought him thither. Buddir ad Deen told him all, not concealing his birth, nor the death of his father the grand vizier. He afterwards gave him an account why he had left Bussorah; how, after he had fallen asleep the night following upon his father's tomb, he found himself when he awoke at Cairo, where he had married a lady; and at last, in what amazement he was, when he found himself at Damascus, without being able to penetrate into all those wonderful adventures.
"Your history is one of the most surprising," said the pastry-cook; "but if you will follow my advice, you will let no man know those matters you have revealed to me, but patiently wait till heaven thinks fit to put an end to your misfortunes. You shall be welcome to stay with me till then; and as I have no children, I will own you for my son, if you consent; after you are so adopted, you may freely walk the city, without being exposed any more to the insults of the rabble."
Though this adoption was below the son of a grand vizier, Buddir ad Deen was glad to accept of the pastry-cook's proposal, judging it the best thing he could do, considering his circumstances. The cook clothed him, called for witnesses, and went before a notary, where he acknowledged him for his son. After this, Buddir ad Deen lived with him under the name of Houssun, and learned the pastry-trade.
While this passed at Damascus, the daughter of Shumse ad Deen awoke, and finding Buddir ad Deen gone, supposed he had risen softly for fear of disturbing her, but would soon return. As she was in expectation of him, her father the vizier. (who was vexed at the affront put upon him by the sultan) came and knocked at her chamber-door, to bewail her sad destiny. He called her by her name, and she knowing him by his voice, immediately got up, and opened the door. She kissed his hand, and received him with so much pleasure in her countenance, that she surprised the vizier. who expected to find her drowned in tears, and as much grieved as himself. "Unhappy wretch!" said he in a passion, "do you appear before me thus? after the hideous sacrifice you have just consummated, can you see me with so much satisfaction?"
The new bride seeing her father angry at her pleasant countenance, said to him, "For God's sake, sir, do not reproach me wrongfully; it is not the hump-back fellow, whom I abhor more than death, it is not that monster I have married. Every body laughed him to scorn, and put him so out of countenance, that he was forced to run away and hide himself, to make room for a noble youth, who is my real husband." "What fable do you tell me?" said Shumse ad Deen, roughly. "What! Did not crook-back lie with you tonight?" "No, sir," said she, "it was the youth I mentioned, who has large eyes and black eyebrows." At these words the vizier. lost all patience, and exclaimed in anger, "Ah, wicked woman! you will make me distracted!" "It is you, father," said she, "that put me out of my senses by your incredulity." "So, it is not true," replied the vizier, "that hump-back----" "Let us talk no more of hump-back," said she, "a curse upon hump-back. Father, I assure you once more, that I did not bed with him, but with my dear spouse, who, I believe, is not far off."
Shumse ad Deen went out to seek him, but, instead of seeing Buddir ad Deen, was surprised to find hump-back with his head on the ground, and his heels uppermost, as the genie had set him against the wall. "What is the meaning of this?" said he; "who placed you thus?" Crookback, knowing it to be the vizier. answered, "Alas! alas! it is you then that would marry me to the mistress of a genie in the form of a buffalo."
Shumse ad Deen Mabummud, when he heard hump-back speak thus, thought he was raving, bade him move, and stand upon his legs. "I will take care how I stir," said hump-back, "unless the sun be risen. Know, sir, that when I came last night to your palace, suddenly a black cat appeared to me, and in an instant grew as big as a buffalo. I have not forgotten what he enjoined me, therefore you may depart, and leave me here." The vizier. instead of going away, took him by the heels, and made him stand up, when hump-back ran off, without looking behind him; and coming to the palace presented himself to the sultan, who laughed heartily when informed how the genie had served him.
Shumse ad Deen returned to his daughter's chamber, more astonished than before. "My abused daughter," said he, "can you give me no farther light in this miraculous affair?" "Sir," replied she, "I can give you no other account than I have done already. Here are my husband's clothes, which he put off last night; perhaps you may find something among them that may solve your doubt." She then shewed him Buddir ad Deen's turban, which he examined narrowly on all sides, saying, "I should take this to be a vizier's turban, if it were not made after the Bussorah fashion." But perceiving something to be sewed between the stuff and the lining, he called for scissors, and having unripped it, found the paper which Noor ad Deen Ali had given to his son upon his deathbed, and which Buddir ad Deen Houssun had sewn in his turban for security.
Shumse ad Deen having opened the paper, knew his brother's hand, and found this superscription, "For my son Buddir ad Deen Houssun." Before he could make any reflections upon it, his daughter delivered him the bag, that lay under the garments, which he likewise opened, and found it full of sequins: for, notwithstanding all the liberality of Buddir ad Deen, it was still kept full by the genie and perie. He read the following words upon a note in the bag: "A thousand sequins belonging to Isaac the Jew." And these lines underneath, which the Jew had written, "Delivered to my lord Buddir ad Deen Houssun, for the cargo of the first of those ships that formerly belonged to the noble vizier, his father, of blessed memory, sold to me upon its arrival in this place." He had scarcely read these words, when he groaned heavily, and fainted away.
The vizier Shumse ad Deen being recovered from his fit by the aid of his daughter, and the women she called to her assistance; "Daughter," said he, "do not alarm yourself at this accident, occasioned by what is scarcely credible. Your bridegroom is your cousin, the son of my beloved and deceased brother. The thousand sequins in the bag reminds me of a quarrel I had with him, and is without the dowry he gives you. God be praised for all things, and particularly for this miraculous adventure, which demonstrates his almighty power." Then looking again upon his brother's writing, he kissed it several times, shedding abundance of tears.
He looked over the book from beginning to end. In it he found the date of his brother's arrival at Bussorah, of his marriage, and of the birth of his son; and when he compared them with the day of his own marriage, and the birth of his daughter at Cairo, he wondered at the exact coincidence which appeared in every circumstance.
The happy discovery put him into such a transport of joy, that he took the book, with the ticket of the bag, and shewed them to the sultan, who pardoned what was past, and was so much pleased with the relation of this adventure, that he caused it with all its circumstances to be put in writing for the information of posterity.
Meanwhile, the vizier. Shumse ad Deen could not comprehend the reason why his nephew did not appear; he expected him every moment, and was impatient to receive him to his arms. After he had waited seven days in vain, he searched through all Cairo, but could procure no intelligence of him, which threw him into great perplexity. "This is the strangest occurrence," said he, "that ever happened." In order to certify it, he thought fit to draw up in writing with his own hand an account of the manner in which the wedding had been solemnized; how the hall and his daughter's bed-chamber were furnished, with the other circumstances. He likewise made the turban, the bag, and the rest of Buddir ad Deen's raiment into a bundle, and locked them up.
After some days were past, the vizier's daughter perceived herself pregnant, and after nine months was brought to bed of a son. A nurse was provided for the child, besides other women and slaves to wait upon him; and his grandfather called him Agib.
When young Agib had attained the age of seven, the vizier, instead of teaching him to read at home, put him to school with a master who was in great esteem; and two slaves were ordered to wait upon him. Agib used to play with his schoolfellows, and as they were all inferior to him in rank, they shewed him great respect, according to the example of their master, who many times would pass by faults in him that he would correct in his other pupils. This indulgence spoiled Agib; he became proud and insolent, would have his play-fellows bear all from him, and would submit to nothing from them, but be master every where; and if any took the liberty to thwart him, he would call them a thousand names, and many times beat them.
In short, all the scholars grew weary of his insolence, and complained of him to their master. He answered, "That they must have patience." But when he saw that Agib grew still more and more overbearing, and occasioned him much trouble, "Children," said he to his scholars, "I find Agib is a little insolent gentleman; I will shew you how to mortify him, so that he shall never torment you any more. Nay, I believe it will make him leave the school. When he comes again to-morrow, place yourselves round him, and let one of you call out, "Come, let us play, but upon condition, that every one who desires to play shall tell his own name, and the names of his father and mother; they who refuse shall be esteemed bastards, and not be suffered to play in our company."
Next day when they were gathered together, they failed not to follow their master's instructions. They placed themselves round Agib, and one of them called out, "Let us begin a play, but on condition that he who cannot tell his own name, and that of his father and mother, shall not play at all." They all cried out, and so did Agib, "We consent." Then he that spoke first asked every one the question, and all fulfilled the condition except Agib, who answered, "My name is Agib, my mother is called the lady of beauty, and my father Shumse ad Deen Mahummud, vizier to the sultan."
At these words all the children cried out, "Agib, what do you say? That is not the name of your father, but your grandfather." "A curse on you," said he in a passion. "What! dare you say that the vizier is not my father?" "No, no," cried they with great laughter, "he is your grandfather, and you shall not play with us. Nay we will take care how we come into your company." Having spoken thus, they all left him, scoffing him, and laughing among themselves, which mortified Agib so much that he wept.
The schoolmaster who was near, and heard all that passed, came up, and speaking to Agib, said, "Agib, do not you know that the vizier is not your father, but your grandfather, and the father of your mother the lady of beauty? We know not the name of your father any more than you do. We only know that the sultan was going to marry your mother to one of his grooms, a humpback fellow; but a genie lay with her. This is hard upon you, but ought to teach you to treat your schoolfellows with less haughtiness."
Agib being nettled at this, ran hastily out of the school. He went directly sobbing to his mother's chamber, who being alarmed to see him thus grieved, asked the reason. He could not answer for tears, so great was his mortification, and it was long ere he could speak plain enough to repeat what had been said to him, and had occasioned his sorrow.
When he came to himself. "Mother," said he "for the love of God be pleased to tell me who is my father?" "My son," she replied, "Shumse ad Deen Mahummud, who every day caresses you so kindly, is your father." "You do not tell me truth," returned Agib; "he is your father, and none of mine. But whose son am I?" At this question, the lady of beauty calling to mind her wedding night, which had been succeeded by a long widowhood, began to shed tears, repining bitterly at the loss of so handsome a husband as Buddir ad Deen.
Whilst the lady of beauty and Agib were both weeping, the vizier entered, who demanded the reason of their sorrow. The lady told him the shame Agib had undergone at school, which so much affected the vizier that he joined his tears with theirs, and judging from this that the misfortune which had happened to his daughter was the common discourse of the town, he was mortified to the quick.
Being thus afflicted, he went to the sultan's palace, and falling prostrate at his feet, most humbly intreated permission to make a journey in search of his nephew Buddir ad Deen Houssun. For he could not bear any longer that the people of the city should believe a genie had disgraced his daughter.
The sultan was much concerned at the vizier's affliction, approved his resolution, and gave him leave to travel. He caused a passport also to be written for him, requesting in the strongest terms all kings and princes in whose dominions Buddir ad Deen might sojourn, to grant that the vizier might conduct him to Cairo.
Shumse ad Deen, not knowing how to express his gratitude to the sultan, fell down before him a second time, while the floods of tears he shed bore sufficient testimony to his feelings. At last, having wished the sultan all manner of prosperity, he took his leave and returned to his house, where he disposed every thing for his journey; and the preparations were carried on with so much diligence, that in four days after he left the city, accompanied with his daughter the lady of beauty, and his grandson Agib.
They travelled nineteen days without intermission; but on the twentieth, arriving at a pleasant mead, a small distance from the gate of Damascus, they halted, and pitched their tents upon the banks of a river which fertilizes the vicinity, and runs through the town, one of the pleasantest in Syria, once the capital of the caliphs; and celebrated for its elegant buildings, the politeness of its inhabitants, and the abundance of its conveniences.
The vizier declared he would stay in that pleasent place two days, and pursue his journey on the third. In the mean time he gave his retinue leave to go to Damascus; and almost all of them made use of it: some influenced by curiosity to see a city they had heard so much of, and others by the opportunity of vending the Egyptian goods they had brought with them, or buying stuffs, and the rarities of the country. The beautiful lady desiring her son Agib might share in the satisfaction of viewing that celebrated city, ordered the black eunuch, who acted in quality of his governor, to conduct him thither.
Agib, in magnificent apparel, went with the eunuch, who had a large cane in his hand. They had no sooner entered the city, than Agib, fair and glorious as the day, attracted the eyes of the people. Some got out of their houses to gain a nearer and narrower view of him; others put their heads out of the windows, and those who passed along the street were not satisfied in stopping to look upon him, but kept pace with him, to prolong the pleasure of the agreeable sight: in fine, there was not a person that did not admire him, and bestow a thousand benedictions on the father and mother that had given being to so fine a child. By chance the eunuch and he passed by the shop of Buddir ad Deen Houssun, and there the crowd was so great, that they were forced to halt.
The pastry-cook who had adopted Buddir ad Deen Houssun had died some years before, and left him his shop and all his property, and he conducted the pastry trade so dexterously, that he had gained great reputation in Damascus. Buddir ad Deen seeing so great a crowd before his door, who were gazing so attentively upon Agib and the black eunuch, stepped out to see them himself.
Having cast his eyes upon Agib, Buddir ad Deen found himself moved, he knew not how, nor for what reason. He was not struck like the people with the brilliant beauty of the boy; another cause unknown to him gave rise to the uneasiness and emotion he felt. It was the force of blood that wrought in this tender father; who, laying aside his business, made up to Agib, and with an engaging air, said to him: "My little lord, who hast won my soul, be so kind as to come into my shop, and eat a bit of such fare as I have; that I may have the pleasure of admiring you at my ease." These words he pronounced with such tenderness, that tears trickled from his eyes. Little Agib was moved when he saw his emotion; and turning to the eunuch, said, "This honest man speaks in such an affectionate manner, that I cannot avoid complying with his request; let us step into his house, and taste his pastry." "It would be a fine thing truly," replied the slave, "to see the son of a vizier go into a pastry-cook's shop to eat; do not imagine that I will suffer any such thing." "Alas! my lord," cried Buddir ad Deen, "it is cruelty to trust the conduct of you in the hands of a person who treats you so harshly." Then applying himself to the eunuch, "My good friend," continued he, "pray do not hinder this young lord from granting me the favour I ask; do not put such mortification upon me: rather do me the honour to walk in along with him, and by so doing, you will let the world know, that, though your outside is brown like a chestnut, your inside is as white. Do you know," continued he, "that I am master of the secret to make you white, instead of being black as you are?" This set the eunuch a laughing, and then he asked what that secret was. "I will tell you," replied Buddir ad Deen, who repeated some verses in praise of black eunuchs, implying, that it was by their ministry that the honour of princes and of all great men was secured. The eunuch was so charmed with these verses, that, without further hesitation, he suffered Agib to go into the shop, and went in with him himself.
Buddir ad Deen Houssun was overjoyed at having obtained what he had so passionately desired, and, falling again to the work he had discontinued "I was making," said he, "cream-tarts; and you must, with submission, eat of them. I am persuaded you will find them good; for my own mother, who made them incomparably well, taught me, and the people send to buy them of me from all quarters of the town." This said, he took a cream-tart out of the oven, and after strewing upon it some pomegranate kernels and sugar, set it before Agib, who found it very delicious.
Another was served up to the eunuch, and he gave the same judgment.
While they were both eating, Buddir ad Deen viewed Agib very attentively; and after looking upon him again and again, it came into his mind that possibly he might have such a son by his charming wife, from whom he had been so soon and so cruelly separated; and the very thought drew tears from his eyes. He intended to have put some questions to little Agib about his journey to Damascus; but the child had no time to gratify his curiosity, for the eunuch pressing him to return to his grandfather's tent, took him away as soon as he had done eating. Buddir ad Deen Houssun, not contented with looking after him, shut up his shop immediately, and followed him.
Buddir ad Deen Houssun ran after Agib and the eunuch, and overtook them before they had reached the gate of the city. The eunuch perceiving he followed them, was extremely surprised: "You impertinent fellow," said he, with an angry tone, "what do you want?" "My dear friend," replied Buddir ad Deen, "do not trouble yourself; I have a little business out of town, and I must needs go and look after it." This answer, however, did not at all satisfy the eunuch, who turning to Agib, said, "This is all owing to you; I foresaw I should repent of my complaisance; you would needs go into the man's shop; it was not wisely done in me to give you leave." "Perhaps," replied Agib, "he has real business out of town, and the road is free to every body." While this passed they kept walking together, without looking behind them, till they came near the vizier's tents, upon which they turned about to see if Buddir ad Deen followed them. Agib, perceiving he was within two paces of him, reddened and whitened alternately, according to the different emotions that affected him. He was afraid the grand vizier his grandfather should come to know he had been in the pastry shop, and had eaten there. In this dread, he took up a large stone that lay at his foot and throwing it at Buddir ad Deen, hit him in the forehead, and wounded him so that his face was covered with blood. The eunuch gave Buddir ad Deen to understand, he had no reason to complain of a mischance that he had merited and brought upon himself.
Buddir ad Deen turned towards the city staunching the blood of the wound with his apron, which he had not put off. "I was a fool," said he within himself, "for leaving my house, to take so much pains about this brat; for doubtless he would never have used me after this manner, if he had not thought I had some ill design against him." When he got home, he had his wound dressed, and softened the sense of his mischance by the reflection that there was an infinite number of people upon the earth, who were yet more unfortunate than he.
Buddir ad Deen kept on the pastry-trade at Damascus, and his uncle Shumse ad Deen Mahummud went from thence three days after his arrival. He went by way of Emaus, Hanah, and Halep; then crossed the Euphrates, and after passing through Mardin, Moussoul, Singier, Diarbeker, and several other towns, arrived at last at Bussorah. Immediately after his arrival he desired audience of the sultan, who was no sooner informed of his quality than he admitted him to his presence, received him very favourably, and inquired the occasion of his journey to Bussorah. "Sire," replied the vizier "I come to know what is become of the son of my brother, who has had the honour to serve your majesty." "Noor ad Deen Ali," said the sultan, "has been long dead; as for his son, all I can tell you of him is, that he disappeared suddenly, about two months after his father's death, and nobody has seen him since, notwithstanding all the inquiry I ordered to be made. But his mother, who is the daughter of one of my viziers, is still alive." Shumse ad Deen Mahummud desired leave of the sultan to take her to Egypt; and having obtained permission, without waiting till the next day, inquired after her place of abode, and that very hour went to her house, accompanied with his daughter and his grandson.
The widow of Noor ad Deen Ali resided still in the same place where her husband had lived. It was a stately fabric, adorned with marble pillars: but Shumse ad Deen did not stop to view it. At his entry he kissed the gate, and the piece of marble upon which his brother's name was written in letters of gold. He asked to speak with his sister-in-law, and was told by her servants, that she was in a small building covered by a dome, to which they directed in the middle of a very spacious court. This tender mother used to spend the greatest part of the day and night in that room which she had built as a representation of the tomb of her son Buddir ad Deen Houssun, whom she supposed to be dead after so long an absence. She was pouring tears over his memorial when Shumse ad Deen entering, found her buried in the deepest affliction.
He made his compliment, and after beseeching her to suspend her tears and sighs, informed her he had the honour to be her brother-in-law, and acquainted her with the reason of his journey from Cairo to Bussorah.
Shumse ad Deen Mahummud, after acquainting his sister-in-law with all that had passed at Cairo on his daughter's wedding-night, and informing her of the surprise occasioned by the discovery of the paper sewed up in Buddir ad Deen's turban, presented to her Agib and the beautiful lady.
The widow of Noor ad Deen, who had still continued sitting like a woman dejected, and weaned from the affairs of this world, no sooner understood by his discourse that her dear son, whom she lamented so bitterly, might still be alive, than she arose, and repeatedly embraced the beautiful lady and her grandchild Agib; and perceiving in the youth the features of Buddir ad Deen, drops tears different from what she had been so long accustomed to shed. She could not forbear kissing the youth, who, for his part, received her embraces with all the demonstrations of joy he was capable of shewing. "Sister," said Shumse ad Deen, "it is time to dry your tears, and suppress your sighs; you must think of going with us to Egypt. The sultan of Bussorah gives me leave to carry you thither, and I doubt not you will consent. I am in hopes we shall at last find out your son my nephew; and if we do, the history of him, of you, of my own daughter, and of my own adventures, will deserve to be committed to writing, and transmitted to posterity."
The widow of Noor ad Deen heard this proposal with pleasure, and ordered preparations to be made for her departure. While they were making, Shumse ad Deen desired a second audience, and after taking leave of the sultan, who dismissed him with ample marks of respect, and gave him a considerable present for himself, and another of great value for the sultan of Egypt, he set out from Bussorah once more for the city of Damascus.
When he arrived in the neighbourhood of Damascus, he ordered his tents to be pitched without the gate, at which he designed to enter the city; and gave out he would tarry there three days, to give his suit rest, and buy up curiosities to present to the sultan of Egypt.
While he was employed in selecting the finest stuffs which the principal merchants had brought to his tents, Agib begged the black eunuch his governor to carry him through the city, in order to see what he had not had leisure to view before; and to inquire what was become of the pastry cook whom he had wounded. The eunuch complying with his request, went along with him towards the city, after leave obtained of the beautiful lady his mother.
They entered Damascus by the Paradise-gate, which lay next to the tents of the vizier They walked through the great squares and the public places where the richest goods were sold, and took a view of the superb mosque at the hour of prayer, between noon and sun-set. When they passed by the shop of Buddir ad Deen Houssun, whom they still found employed in making cream tarts, "I salute you sir," said Agib; "do you know me? Do you remember you ever saw me before?" Buddir ad Deen hearing these words, fixed his eyes upon him, and recognizing him (such was the surprising effect of paternal love!), felt the same emotion as when he saw him first; he was confused, and instead of making any answer, continued a long time without uttering a word. At length, recovering himself, "My lord," said he, "be so kind as to come once more with your governor into my house, and taste a cream-tart. I beg your lordship's pardon, for the trouble I gave you in following you out of town; I was at that time not myself, I did not know what I did. You drew me after you, and the violence of the attraction was so soft, that I could not withstand it."
Agib, astonished at what Buddir ad Deen said, replied: "There is an excess in the kindness you express, and unless you engage under oath not to follow me when I go from hence, I will not enter your house. If you give me your promise, and prove a man of your word, I will visit you again to-morrow, since the vizier my grandfather, is still employed in buying up rarities for a present to the sultan of Egypt." "My lord," replied Buddir ad Deen, "I will do whatever you would have me." This said, Agib and the eunuch went into the shop.
Presently after, Buddir ad Deen set before them a cream-tart, that was full as good as what they had eaten before; "Come," said Agib, "sit down by me, and eat with us." Buddir ad Deen sat down, and attempted to embrace Agib, as a testimony of the joy he conceived upon sitting by him. But Agib pushed him away, desiring him not to be too familiar. Buddir ad Deen obeyed, and repeated some extempore verses in praise of Agib: he did not eat, but made it his business to serve his guests. When they had done, he brought them water to wash, and a very white napkin to wipe their hands. Then he filled a large china cup with sherbet, and put snow into it; and offering it to Agib, "This," said he, "is sherbet of roses; and I am sure you never tasted better." Agib having drunk of it with pleasure, Buddir ad Deen took the cup from him, and presented it to the eunuch, who drank it all off at once.
In fine, Agib and his governor having fared well, returned thanks to the pastry-cook for their good entertainment, and moved homewards, it being then late. When they arrived at the tents of Shumse ad Deen Mahummud, Agib's grandmother received him with transports of joy: her son ran always in her mind, and in embracing Agib, the remembrance of him drew tears from her eyes. "Ah, my child!" said she, "my joy would be perfect, if I had the pleasure of embracing your father as I now embrace you." She made Agib sit by her, and put several questions to him, relating to the walk he had been taking with the eunuch; and when he complained of being hungry, she gave him a piece of cream-tart, which she had made for herself, and was indeed very good: she likewise gave some to the eunuch.
Agib no sooner touched the piece of cream-tart that had been set before him, than he pretended he did not like it, and left it uncut; and Shubbaunee (which was the eunuch's name) did the same. The widow of Noor ad Deen Ali observed with regret that her grandson did not like the tart. "What!" said she, "does my child thus despise the work of my hands? Be it known to you, no one in the world can make such besides myself and your father, whom I taught." "My good mother," replied Agib, "give me leave to tell you, if you do not know how to make better, there is a pastry-cook in this town that outdoes you. We were at his shop, and ate of one much better than yours."
On hearing this, the grandmother, frowning upon the eunuch, said, "How now, Shubbaunee, was the care of my grandchild committed to you, to carry him to eat at pastry-shops like a beggar?" "Madam," replied the eunuch, "it is true, we did stop a little while and talked with the pastry-cook, but we did not eat with him." "Pardon me," said Agib, "we went into his shop, and there ate a cream-tart." Upon this, the lady, more incensed against the eunuch than before, rose in a passion from the table, and running to the tent of Shumse ad Deen, informed him of the eunuch's crime; and that in such terms, as tended more to inflame the vizier than to dispose him to excuse it.
The vizier who was naturally passionate, did not fail on this occasion to display his anger. He went forthwith to his sister-in-law's tent, and said to the eunuch, "Wretch, have you the impudence to abuse the trust I repose in you?" Shubbaunee, though sufficiently convicted by Agib's testimony, denied the fact still. But the child persisting in what he had affirmed, "Grandfather," said he, "I can assure you we not only ate, but that so very heartily, that we have no occasion for supper: besides, the pastry-cook treated us also with a great bowl of sherbet." "Well," cried Shumse ad Deen, "after all this, will you continue to deny that you entered the pastry-cook's house, and ate there?" Shubbaunee had still the impudence to swear it was not true. "Then you are a liar," said the vizier "I believe my grandchild; but after all, if you can eat up this cream-tart I shall be persuaded you have truth on your side."
Though Shubbaunee had crammed himself up to the throat before, he agreed to stand that test, and accordingly took a piece of tart; but his stomach rising against it, he was obliged to spit it out of his mouth. Yet he still pursued the lie, and pretended he had over-eaten himself the day before, and had not recovered his appetite. The vizier irritated with all the eunuch's frivolous presences, and convinced of his guilt, ordered him to be soundly bastinadoed. In undergoing this punishment, the poor wretch shrieked out aloud, and at last confessed the truth; "I own," cried he, "that we did eat a cream-tart at the pastry cook's, and that it was much better than that upon the table."
The widow of Noor ad Deen thought it was out of spite to her, and with a desire to mortify her, that Shubbaunee commended the pastry-cook's tart; and accordingly said, "I cannot believe the cook's tarts are better than mine; I am resolved to satisfy myself upon that head. Where does he live? Go immediately and buy me one of his tarts." The eunuch repaired to Buddir ad Deen's shop, and said, "Let me have one of your cream-tarts; one of our ladies wants to taste them." Buddir ad Deen chose one of the best, and gave it to the eunuch.
Shubbaunee returned speedily to the tents, gave the tart to Noor ad Deen's widow, who, snatching it greedily, broke a piece off; but no sooner put it to her mouth, than she cried out and swooned away. The vizier was extremely surprised at the accident; he threw water upon her face, and was very active in recovering her. As soon as she came to herself, "My God!" cried she, "it must needs be my son, my dear Buddir ad Deen who made this tart."
When the vizier Shumse ad Deen heard his sister-in-law say, that the maker of the tart, brought by the eunuch, must needs be her son, he was overjoyed; but reflecting that his joy might prove groundless, and the conjecture of Noor ad Deen's widow be false, "Madam," said he, "do you think there may not be a pastry-cook in the world, who knows how to make cream- tarts as well as your son?" "I own," replied she, "there may be pastry-cooks that can make as good tarts as he; but as I make them in a peculiar manner, and only my son was let into the secret, it must absolutely be he that made this. Come, my brother," added she in a transport, "let us call up mirth and joy; we have at last found what we have been so long looking for." "Madam," said the vizier answer, "I entreat you to moderate your impatience, for we shall quickly know the truth. All we have to do, is to bring the pastry-cook hither; and then you and my daughter will readily distinguish whether he be your son or not. But you must both be concealed so as to have a view of Buddir ad Deen while he cannot see you; for I would not have our interview and mutual discovery happen at Damascus. My design is to delay the discovery till we return to Cairo."
This said, he left the ladies in their tent, and retired to his own; where he called for fifty of his men, and said to them: "Take each of you a stick in your hands, and follow Shubbaunee, who will conduct you to a pastry-cook in this city. When you arrive there, break and dash in pieces all you find in the shop: if he demand the reason of your outrage, only ask him in return if it was not he that made the cream-tart that was brought from his house. If he answer in the affirmative, seize his person, fetter him, and bring him along with you; but take care you do not beat him, nor do him the least harm. Go, and lose no time."
The vizier's orders were immediately executed. The detachment, conducted by the black eunuch, went with expedition to Buddir ad Deen's house, broke in pieces the plates, kettles, copper pans, and all the other moveables and utensils they met with, and inundated the sherbet-shop with cream and comfits. Buddir ad Deen, astonished at the sight, said with a pitiful tone, "Pray, good people, why do you serve me so? What is the matter? What have I done?" "Was it not you," said they, "that sold this eunuch the cream-tart?" "Yes," replied he, "I am the man; and who says any thing against it? I defy any one to make a better." Instead of giving him an answer, they continued to break all round them, and the oven itself was not spared.
In the mean time the neighbours took the alarm, and surprised to see fifty armed men committing such a disorder, asked the reason of such violence; and Buddir ad Deen said once more to the rioters, "Pray tell me what crime I have committed to deserve this usage?" "Was it not you," replied they, "that made the cream-tart you sold to the eunuch?" "Yes, yes, it was I," replied he; "I maintain it is a good one. I do not deserve this treatment." However, without listening to him, they seized his person, and, snatching the cloth off his turban, tied his hands with it behind his back, and, after dragging him by force out of his shop, marched off.
The mob gathering, from compassion to Buddir ad Deen, took his part; but officers from the governor of the city dispersed the people, and favoured the carrying off of Buddir ad Deen, for Shumse ad Deen Mahummud had in the mean time gone to the governor's house to acquaint him with the order he had given, and to demand the interposition of force to favour the execution; and the governor, who commanded all Syria in the name of the sultan of Egypt, was unwilling to refuse any thing to his master's vizier.
It was in vain for Buddir ad Deen to ask those who carried him off, what fault had been found with his cream-tart: they gave him no answer. In short, they conducted him to the tents, and made him wait there till Shumse ad Deen returned from the governor of Damascus.
Upon the vizier's return, the pretended culprit was brought before him. "My lord," said Buddir ad Deen, with tears in his eyes, "pray do me the favour to let me know wherein I have displeased you." "Why, you wretch," exclaimed the vizier "was it not you that made the cream-tart you sent me?" "I own I am the man," replied Buddir ad Deen, "but pray what crime is that? " "I will punish you according to your deserts," said Shumse ad Deen, "it shall cost you your life, for sending me such a sorry tart." "Ah!" exclaimed Buddir ad Deen, "is it a capital crime to make a bad cream-tart?" "Yes," said the vizier "and you are to expect no other usage from me."
While this interview lasted, the ladies, who were concealed behind curtains, saw Buddir ad Deen, and recognized him, notwithstanding he had been so long absent. They were so transported with joy, that they swooned away; and when they recovered, would fain have run up and fallen upon his neck, but the promise they had made to the vizier of not discovering themselves, restrained the tender emotions of love and of nature.
Shumse ad Deen having resolved to set out that night, ordered the tents to be struck, and the necessary preparations to be made for his journey. He ordered Buddir ad Deen to be secured in a sort of cage, and laid on a camel. The vizier and his retinue began their march, and travelled the rest of that night, and all the next day, without stopping In the evening they halted, and Buddir ad Deen was taken out of his cage, in order to be served with the necessary refreshments, but still carefully kept at a distance from his mother and his wife; and during the whole expedition, which lasted twenty days, was served in the same manner.
When they arrived at Cairo, they encamped in the neighbourhood of the city; Shumse ad Deen called for Buddir ad Deen, and gave orders, in his presence, to prepare a stake. "Alas!" said Buddir ad Deen, "what do you mean to do with a stake?" "Why, to impale you," replied Shumse ad Deen, "and then to have you carried through all the quarters of the town, that the people may have the spectacle of a worthless pastry-cook, who makes cream-tarts without pepper." This said, Buddir ad Deen cried out so ludicrously, that Shumse ad Deen could hardly keep his countenance: "Alas!" said he, "must I suffer a death as cruel as it is ignominious, for not putting pepper in a cream-tart?"
"How," said Buddir ad Deen, "must I be rifled; must I be imprisoned in a chest, and at last impaled, and all for not putting pepper in a cream- tart? Are these the actions of Moosulmauns, of persons who make a profession of probity, justice, and good works?" With these words he shed tears, and then renewing his complaint; "No," continued he, "never was a man used so unjustly, nor so severely. Is it possible they should be capable of taking a man's life for not putting pepper in a cream-tart? Cursed be all cream-tarts, as well as the hour in which I was born! Would to God l had died that minute!"
The disconsolate Buddir ad Deen did not cease his lamentations; and when the stake was brought, cried out bitterly at the horrid sight. "Heaven!" said he, "can you suffer me to die an ignominious and painful death? And all this, for what crime? not for robbery or murder, or renouncing my religion, but for not putting pepper in a cream tart,"
Night being then pretty far advanced, the vizier ordered Buddir ad Deen to be conveyed again to his cage, saying to him, "Stay there till to-morrow; the day shall not elapse before I give orders for your death." The chest or cage then was carried away and laid upon the camel that had brought it from Damascus: at the same time all the other camels were loaded again; and the vizier mounting his horse, ordered the camel that carried his nephew to march before him, and entered the city with all his suit. After passing through several streets, where no one appeared, he arrived at his palace, where he ordered the chest to be taken down, but not opened till farther orders.
While his retinue were unlading the other camels, he took Buddir ad Deen's mother and his daughter aside; and addressed himself to the latter: "God be praised," said he, "my child, for this happy occasion of meeting your cousin and your husband! You remember, of course, what order your chamber was in on your wedding night: go and put all things as they were then placed; and if your memory do not serve you, I can aid it by a written account, which I caused to be taken upon that occasion."
The beautiful lady went joyfully to execute her father's orders; and he at the same time commanded the hall to be adorned as when Buddir ad Deen Houssun was there with the sultan of Egypt's hunch-backed groom. As he went over his manuscript, his domestics placed every moveable in the described order. The throne was not forgotten, nor the lighted wax candles. When every thing was arranged in the hall, the vizier went into his daughter's chamber and put in their due place Buddir ad Deen's apparel, with the purse of sequins. This done, he said to the beautiful lady, "Undress yourself, my child, and go to bed. As soon as Buddir ad Deen enters your room, complain of his being from you so long, and tell him, that when you awoke, you were astonished you did not find him by you. Press him to come to bed again; and to-morrow morning you will divert your mother-in-law and me, by giving us an account of your interview." This said, he went from his daughter's apartment, and left her to undress herself and go to bed.
Shumse ad Deen Mahummud ordered all his domestics to depart the hall, excepting two or three, whom he desired to remain. These he commanded to go and take Buddir ad Deen out of the cage, to strip him to his under vest and drawers, to conduct him in that condition to the hall, to leave him there alone, and shut the door upon him.
Buddir ad Deen, though overwhelmed with grief, was asleep so soundly, that the vizier's domestics had taken him out of the chest and stripped him before he awoke; and they carried him so suddenly into the hall, that they did not give him time to see where he was. When he found himself alone in the hall, he looked round him, and the objects he beheld recalling to his memory the circumstances of his marriage, he perceived, with astonishment, that it was the place where he had seen the sultan's groom of the stables. His surprise was still the greater, when approaching softly the door of a chamber which he found open, he spied his own raiments where he remembered to have left them on his wedding night. "My God!" said he, rubbing his eyes, "am I asleep or awake?"
The beautiful lady, who in the mean time was diverting herself with his astonishment, opened the curtains of her bed suddenly, and bending her head forward, "My dear lord," said she, with a soft, tender air, "what do you do at the door? You have been out of bed a long time. I was strangely surprised when I awoke in not finding you by me." Buddir ad Deen was enraptured; he entered the room, but reverting to all that had passed during a ten years' interval, and not being able to persuade himself that it could all have happened in the compass of one night, he went to the place where his vestments lay with the purse of sequins; and after examining them very carefully, exclaimed, "By Allah these are mysteries which I can by no means comprehend!" The lady, who was pleased to see his confusion, said, once more, "My lord, what do you wait for?" He stepped towards the bed, and said to her, "Is it long since I left you?" "The question," answered she, "surprises me. Did not you rise from me but now? Surely your mind is deranged." "Madam," replied Buddir ad Deen, "I do assure you my thoughts are not very composed. I remember indeed to have been with you, but I remember at the same time, that I have since lived ten years at Damascus. Now, if I was actually in bed with you this night, I cannot have been from you so long. These two points are inconsistent. Pray tell me what I am to think; whether my marriage with you is an illusion, or whether my absence from you is only a dream?" "Yes, my lord," cried she, "doubtless you were light-headed when you thought you were at Damascus." Upon this Buddir ad Deen laughed heartily, and said, "What a comical fancy is this! I assure you, madam, this dream of mine will be very pleasant to you. Do but imagine, if you please, that I was at the gate of Damascus in my shirt and drawers, as I am here now; that I entered the town with the halloo of a mob who followed and insulted me; that I fled to a pastry cook who adopted me, taught me his trade, and left me all he had when he died; that after his death I kept a shop. In fine, I had an infinity of other adventures, too tedious to recount: and all I can say is, that it was well that I awoke, for they were going to impale me!" "And for what," cried the lady, feigning astonishment, "would they have used you so cruelly? Surely you must have committed some enormous crime." "Not the least," replied Buddir ad Deen; "it was for nothing but a mere trifle, the most ridiculous thing you can imagine. All the crime I was charged with, was selling a cream-tart that had no pepper in it." "As for that matter," said the beautiful lady laughing heartily, "I must say they did you great injustice." "Ah!" replied he, "that was not all. For this cursed cream-tart was every thing in my shop broken to pieces, myself bound and fettered, and flung into a chest, where I lay so close, that methinks I am there still, but thanks be to God all was a dream."
Buddir ad Deen was not easy all night. He awoke from time to time, and put the question to himself, whether he dreamed or was awake. He distrusted his felicity; and, to be sure whether it was true or not, looked round the room. "I am not mistaken," said he; "this is the same chamber where I entered instead of the hunch-backed groom of the stables; and I am now in bed with the fair lady designed for him." Day-light, which then appeared, had not yet dispelled his uneasiness, when the vizier Shumse ad Deen, his uncle, knocked at the door, and at the same time went in to bid him good morrow.
Buddir ad Deen was extremely surprised to see a man he knew so well, and who now appeared with a different air from that with which he pronounced the terrible sentence of death against him. "Ah!" cried Buddir ad Deen, "it was you who condemned me so unjustly to a kind of death, the thoughts of which make me shudder, and all for a cream-tart without pepper." The vizier fell a laughing, and to put him out of suspense, told him how, by the ministry of a genie (for hunch-back's relation made him suspect the adventure), he had been at his palace, and had married his daughter instead of the sultan's groom of the stables; then he acquainted him that he had discovered him to be his nephew by the memorandum of his father, and pursuant to that discovery had gone from Cairo to Bussorah in quest of him. "My dear nephew," added he, embracing him with every expression of tenderness, "I ask your pardon for all I have made you undergo since I discovered you. I resolved to bring you to my palace before I told you your happiness; which ought now to be so much the dearer to you, as it has cost you so much perplexity and distress. To atone for all your afflictions, comfort yourself with the joy of being in the company of those who ought to be dearest to you. While you are dressing yourself I will go and acquaint your mother, who is beyond measure impatient to see you; and will likewise bring to you your son, whom you saw at Damascus, and for whom, without knowing him, you shewed so much affection."
No words can adequately express the joy of Buddir ad Deen, when he saw his mother and his son. They embraced, and shewed all the transports that love and tenderness could inspire. The mother spoke to Buddir ad Deen in the most moving terms; she mentioned the grief she had felt for his long absence, and the tears she had shed. Little Ajib, instead of flying his father's embraces, as at Damascus, received them with all the marks of pleasure. And Buddir ad Deen Houssun, divided between two objects so worthy of his love, thought he could not give sufficient testimonies of his affection.
While this passed, the vizier was gone to the palace, to give the sultan an account of the happy success of his travels; and the sultan was so moved with the recital of the story, that he ordered it to be taken down in writing, and carefully preserved among the archives of the kingdom. After Shumse ad Deen's return to his palace, he sat down with his family, and all the household passed the day in festivity and mirth.
The vizier Jaaffier having thus concluded the story of Buddir ad Deen, told the caliph that this was what he had to relate to his majesty. The caliph found the story so surprising, that without farther hesitation he granted his slave Rihan's pardon; and to console the young man for the grief of having unhappily deprived himself of a woman whom he had loved so tenderly, married him to one of his slaves, bestowed liberal gifts upon him, and maintained him till he died.