THE HISTORY OF CODADAD, AND HIS BROTHERS.
Those who have written the history of Diarbekir inform us that there formerly reigned in the city of Harran a most magnificent and potent sultan, who loved his subjects, and was equally beloved by them. He was endued with all virtues, and wanted nothing to complete his happiness but an heir. Though he had the finest women in the world in his seraglio, yet was he destitute of children. He continually prayed to heaven for them; and one night in his sleep, a comely person, or rather a prophet, appeared to him, and said, "Your prayers are heard; you have obtained what you have desired; rise as soon as you awake, go to your prayers, and make two genuflexions, then walk into the garden of your palace, call your gardener, and bid him bring you a pomegranate, eat as many of the seeds as you please, and your wishes shall be accomplished."
The sultan calling to mind his dream when he awoke, returned thanks to heaven, got up, prayed, made two genuflexions, and then went into his garden, where he took fifty pomegranate seeds, which he counted, and ate. He had fifty wives who shared his bed; they all proved with child; but there was one called Pirouzè, who did not appear to be pregnant. He took an aversion to this lady, and would have her put to death. "Her barrenness," said he, "is a certain token that heaven does not judge Pirouzè worthy to bear a prince; it is my duty to deliver the world from an object that is odious to the Lord." He would have executed his cruel purpose had not his vizier prevented him; representing to him that all women were not of the same constitution, and that it was not impossible but that Pirouzè might be with child, though it did not yet appear. "Well," answered the sultan, "let her live; but let her depart my court; for I cannot endure her." "Your majesty," replied the vizier, "may send her to sultan Samer, your cousin." The sultan approved of this advice; he sent Pirouzè to Samaria, with a letter, in which he ordered his cousin to treat her well, and, in case she proved with child, to give him notice of her being brought to bed.
No sooner was Pirouzè arrived in that country, than it appeared that she was pregnant, and at length she was delivered of a most beautiful prince. The prince of Samaria wrote immediately to the sultan of Harran, to acquaint him with the birth of a son, and to congratulate him on the occasion. The sultan was much rejoiced at this intelligence, and answered prince Samer as follows: "Cousin, all my other wives have each been delivered of a prince. I desire you to educate that of Pirouzè, to give him the name of Codadad, and to send him to me when I may apply for him."
The prince of Samaria spared nothing that might improve the education of his nephew. He taught him to ride, draw the bow, and all other accomplishments becoming the son of a sovereign; so that Codadad, at eighteen years of age, was looked upon as a prodigy. The young prince, being inspired with a courage worthy of his birth, said one day to his mother, "Madam, I begin to grow weary of Samaria; I feel a passion for glory; give me leave to seek it amidst the perils of war. My father, the sultan of Harran, has many enemies. Why does he not call me to his assistance? Why does he leave me here so long in obscurity? Must I spend my life in sloth, when all my brothers have the happiness to be fighting by his side?" "My son," answered Pirouzè, "I am no less impatient to have your name become famous; I could wish you had already signalized yourself against your father's enemies; but we must wait till he requires it." "No, madam," replied Codadad, ''I have already waited but too long. I burn to see the sultan, and am tempted to offer him my service, as a young stranger: no doubt but he will accept of it, and I will not discover myself, till I have performed some glorious actions: I desire to merit his esteem before he knows who I am." Pirouzè approved of his generous resolutions, and Codadad departed from Samaria, as if he had been going to the chase, without acquainting prince Samer, lest he should thwart his design.
He was mounted on a white charger, who had a bit and shoes of gold, his housing was of blue satin embroidered with pearls; the hilt of his scimitar was of one single diamond, and the scabbard of sandal-wood, adorned with emeralds and rubies, and on his shoulder he carried his bow and quiver. In this equipage, which greatly set off his handsome person, he arrived at the city of Harran, and soon found means to offer his service to the sultan; who being charmed with his beauty and promising appearance, and perhaps indeed by natural sympathy, gave him a favourable reception, and asked his name and quality. "Sir," answered Codadad, "I am son to an emir of Grand Cairo; an inclination to travel has made me quit my country, and understanding, in my passage through your dominions, that you were engaged in war, I am come to your court to offer your majesty my service." The sultan shewed him extraordinary kindness, and gave him a command in his army.
The young prince soon signalized his bravery. He gained the esteem of the officers, and was admired by the soldiers. Having no less wit than courage, he so far advanced himself in the sultan's esteem, as to become his favourite. All the ministers and other courtiers daily resorted to Codadad, and were so eager to purchase his friendship, that they neglected the sultan's sons. The princes could not but resent this conduct, and imputing it to the stranger, all conceived an implacable hatred against him; but the sultan's affection daily increasing, he was never weary of giving him fresh testimonies of his regard. He always would have him near his person; admired his conversation, ever full of wit and discretion; and to shew his high opinion of his wisdom and prudence, committed to his care the other princes, though he was of the same age as they; so that Codadad was made governor of his brothers.
This only served to heighten their hatred. "Is it come to this," said they, "that the sultan, not satisfied with loving a stranger more than us, will have him to be our governor, and not allow us to act without his leave? this is not to be endured. We must rid ourselves of this foreigner." "Let us go together," said one of them, "and dispatch him." "No, no," answered another; "we had better be cautious how we sacrifice ourselves. His death would render us odious to the sultan, who in return would declare us all unworthy to reign. Let us destroy him by some stratagem. We will ask his permission to hunt, and when at a distance from the palace, proceed to some other city, and stay there some time. The sultan will wonder at our absence, and perceiving we do not return, perhaps put the stranger to death, or at least will banish him from court, for suffering us to leave the palace."
All the princes applauded this artifice. They went together to Codadad, and desired him to allow them to take the diversion of hunting, promising to return the same day. Pirouzè's son was taken in the snare, and granted the permission his brothers desired. They set out, but never returned. They had been three days absent, when the sultan asked Codadad where the princes were, for it was long since he had seen them. "Sir," answered Codadad, after making a profound reverence, "they have been hunting these three days, but they promised me they would return sooner." The sultan grew uneasy, and his uneasiness increased when he perceived the princes did not return the next day. He could not check his anger: "Indiscreet stranger," said he to Codadad, "why did you let my sons go without bearing them company? Is it thus you discharge the trust I have reposed in you? Go, seek them immediately, and bring them to me, or your life shall be forfeited."
These words chilled with alarm Pirouzè's unfortunate son. He armed himself, departed from the city, and like a shepherd, who had lost his flock, searched the country for his brothers, inquiring at every village whether they had been seen: but hearing no news of them, abandoned himself to the most lively grief. "Alas! my brothers," said he, "what is become of you? Are you fallen into the hands of our enemies? Am I come to the court of Harran to be the occasion of giving the sultan so much anxiety?" He was inconsolable for having given the princes permission to hunt, or for not having borne them company.
After some days spent in fruitless search, he came to a plain of prodigious extent, in the midst whereof was a palace built of black marble. He drew near, and at one of the windows beheld a most beautiful lady; but set off with no other ornament than her own charms; for her hair was dishevelled, her garments torn, and on her countenance appeared all the marks of the greatest affliction. As soon as she saw Codadad, and judged he might hear her, she directed her discourse to him, saying, "Young man, depart from this fatal place, or you will soon fall into the hands of the monster that inhabits it: a black, who feeds only on human blood, resides in this palace; he seizes all persons whom their ill-fate conducts to this plain, and shuts them up in his dark dungeons, whence they are never released, but to be devoured by him."
"Madam," answered Codadad, "tell me who you are, and be not concerned for myself." "I am a young woman of quality of Grand Cairo," replied the lady; "I was passing by this castle yesterday, in my way to Bagdad, and met with the black, who killed all my attendants, and brought me hither; I wish I had nothing but death to fear, but to add to my calamity, this monster would persuade me to love him, and, in case I do not yield to-morrow to his brutality, I must expect the last violence. Once more," added she, "make your escape: the black will soon return; he is gone out to pursue some travellers he espied at a distance on the plain. Lose no time; I know not whether you can escape him by a speedy flight."
She had scarcely done speaking before the black appeared. He was of monstrous bulk, and of a dreadful aspect, mounted on a large Tartar horse, and bore such a heavy scimitar, that none but himself could wield. The prince seeing him, was amazed at his gigantic stature, directed his prayers to heaven to assist him, then drew his scimitar, and firmly awaited his approach. The monster, despising so inconsiderable an enemy, called to him to submit without fighting. Codadad by his conduct shewed that he was resolved to defend his life; for rushing upon him, he wounded him on the knee. The black, feeling himself wounded, uttered such a dreadful yell as made all the plain resound. He grew furious and foamed with rage, and raising himself on his stirrups, made at Codadad with his dreadful scimitar. The blow was so violent, that it would have put an end to the young prince, had not he avoided it by a sudden spring. The scimitar made a horrible hissing in the air: but, before the black could have time to make a second blow, Codadad struck him on his right arm, with such force, that he cut it off. The dreadful scimitar fell with the hand that held it, and the black yielding under the violence of the stroke, lost his stirrups, and made the earth shake with the weight of his fall. The prince alighted at the same time, and cut off his enemy's head. Just then, the lady, who had been a spectator of the combat, and was still offering up her earnest prayers to heaven for the young hero, whom she admired, uttered a shriek of joy, and said to Codadad, "Prince (for the dangerous victory you have obtained, as well as your noble air, convinces me that you are of no common rank), finish the work you have begun; the black has the keys of this castle, take them and deliver me out of prison." The prince searched the wretch as he lay stretched on the ground, and found several keys.
He opened the first door, and entered a court, where he saw the lady coming to meet him; she would have cast herself at his feet, the better to express her gratitude, but he would not permit her. She commended his valour, and extolled him above all the heroes in the world. He returned her compliments; and she appeared still more lovely to him near, than she had done at a distance. I know not whether she felt more joy at being delivered from the desperate danger she had been in, than he for having done so considerable a service to so beautiful a person.
Their conversation was interrupted by dismal cries and groans. "What do I hear?" said Codadad: "Whence come these miserable lamentations, which pierce my ears?" "My lord," said the lady to him, pointing to a little door in the court, "they come from thence. There are I know not how many wretched persons whom fate has thrown into the hands of the black. They are all chained, and the monster drew out one every day to devour."
"It is an addition to my joy," answered the young prince, "to understand that my victory will save the lives of those unfortunate beings. Come along with me, madam, to partake in the satisfaction of giving them their liberty. You may judge by your own feelings how welcome we shall be to them." Having so said, they advanced towards the door of the dungeon, and the nearer they drew, the more distinctly they heard the lamentations of the prisoners. Codadad pitying them, and impatient to put an end to their sufferings, presently put one of the keys into the lock. The noise made all the unfortunate captives, who concluded it was the black coming, according to custom, to seize one of them to devour, redouble their cries and groans. Lamentable voices were heard, which seemed to come from the centre of the earth.
In the mean time, the prince had opened the door; he went down a very steep staircase into a large and deep vault, which received some feeble light from a little window, and in which there were above a hundred persons, bound to stakes, and their hands tied. "Unfortunate travellers," said he to them, "wretched victims, who only expected the moment of an approaching cruel death, give thanks to heaven, which has this day delivered you by my means. I have slain the black by whom you were to be devoured, and am come to knock off your chains." The prisoners hearing these words, gave a shout of mingled joy and surprise. Codadad and the lady began to unbind them; and as soon as any of them were loose, they helped to take off the fetters from the rest; so that in a short time they were all at liberty.
They then kneeled down, and having returned thanks to Codadad for what he had done for them, went out of the dungeon; but when they were come into the court, how was the prince surprised to see among the prisoners, those he was in search of, and almost without hopes to find! "Princes," cried he, "am I not deceived? Is it you whom I behold? May I flatter myself that it may be in my power to restore you to the sultan your father, who is inconsolable for the loss of you? But will he not have some one to lament? Are you all here alive? Alas! the death of one of you will suffice to damp the joy I feel for having delivered you!"
The forty-nine princes all made themselves known to Codadad, who embraced them one after another, and told them how uneasy their father was on account of their absence. They gave their deliverer all the commendations he deserved, as did the other prisoners, who could not find words expressive enough to declare their gratitude. Codadad, with them, searched the whole castle, where was immense wealth; curious silks, gold brocades, Persian carpets, China satins, and an infinite quantity of other goods, which the black had taken from the caravans he had plundered, a considerable part whereof belonged to the prisoners Codadad had then liberated. Every man knew and claimed his property. The prince restored them their own, and divided the rest of the merchandise among them. Then he said to them, "How will you carry away your goods? We are here in a desert place, and there is no likelihood of your getting horses." "My lord," answered one of the prisoners, "the black robbed us of our camels as well as our goods, and perhaps they may be in the stables of this castle." "This is not unlikely," replied Codadad; "let us examine." Accordingly they went to the stables, where they not only found the camels, but also the horses belonging to the sultan of Harran's sons. There were some black slaves in the stables, who seeing all the prisoners released, and guessing thereby that their master had been killed, fled through by-ways well known to them. Nobody minded to pursue them. All the merchants, overjoyed that they had recovered their goods and camels, together with their liberty, thought of nothing but prosecuting their journey; but first repeated their thanks to their deliverer.
When they were gone, Codadad, directing his discourse to the lady, said, "What place, madam, do you desire to go to? Whither were you bound when you were seized by the black? I intend to bear you company to the place you shall choose for your retreat, and I question not but that all these princes will do the same." The sultan of Harran's sons protested to the lady, that they would not leave her till she was restored to her friends.
"Princes," said she, "I am of a country too remote from hence; and, besides that, it would be abusing your generosity to oblige you to travel so far. I must confess that I have left my native country for ever. I told you that I was a lady of Grand Cairo; but since you have shewn me so much favour, and I am so highly obliged to you," added she, looking upon Codadad, "I should be much in the wrong in concealing the truth from you; I am a sultan's daughter. An usurper has possessed himself of my father's throne, after having murdered him, and I have been forced to fly to save my life."
Codadad and his brothers requested the princess to tell them her story, assuring her they felt a particular interest in her misfortunes, and were determined to spare nothing that might contribute to render her more happy. After thanking them for their repeated protestations of readiness to serve her, she could not refuse to satisfy their curiosity, and began the recital of her adventures in the following manner.
The History of the Princess of Deryabar.
There was in a certain island a great city called Deryabar, governed by a potent, magnificent, and virtuous sultan, who had no children, which was the only blessing wanting to make him happy. He continually addressed his prayers to heaven, but heaven only partially granted his requests, for the queen his wife, after a long expectation, brought forth a daughter.
I am the unfortunate princess; my father was rather grieved than pleased at my birth; but he submitted to the will of God, and caused me to be educated with all possible care, being resolved, since he had no son, to teach me the art of ruling, that I might supply his place after his death.
One day when he was taking the diversion of hunting, he espied a wild ass, which he chased, lost his company, and was carried away so far by his eagerness as to ride on till night. He then alighted, and sat down at the entrance of a wood, in which the ass had sheltered. No sooner was the day shut in than he discovered among the trees a light, which made him conclude that he was not far from some village; he rejoiced at this, hoping that he might pass the night there, and find some person to send to his followers and acquaint them where he was; accordingly he rose and walked towards the light, which served to guide him.
He soon found he had been deceived, the light being no other than a fire blazing in a hut; however, he drew near, and, with amazement, beheld a black man, or rather a giant, sitting on a sofa. Before the monster was a great pitcher of wine, and he was roasting an ox he had newly killed. Sometimes he drank out of the pitcher, and sometimes cut slices off the ox and greedily devoured them. But what most attracted my father's attention was a beautiful woman whom he saw in the hut. She seemed overwhelmed with grief; her hands were bound, and at her feet was a little child about two or three years old, who, as if he was sensible of his mother's misfortunes, wept without ceasing, and rent the air with his cries.
My father, moved with this pitiable object, thought at first to enter the hut and attack the giant; but considering how unequal the combat would be, he stopped, and resolved, since he had not strength enough to prevail by open force, to use art. In the mean time, the giant having emptied the pitcher, and devoured above half the ox, turned to the woman and said, "Beautiful princess, why do you oblige me by your obstinacy to treat you with severity? It is in your own power to be happy. You need only resolve to love, and be true to me, and I shall treat you with more mildness." "Thou hideous satyr," answered the lady, "never expect that time should wear away my abhorrence of thee. Thou wilt ever be a monster in my eyes." To these words she added so many reproaches, that the giant grew enraged. "This is too much," cried he, in a furious tone; "my love despised is turned into rage. Your hatred has at last excited mine; I find it triumphs over my desires, and that I now wish your death more ardently than your enjoyment." Having spoken these words, he took the wretched lady by the hair, held her up with one hand in the air, and drawing his scimitar with the other, was just going to strike off her head, when the sultan my father let fly an arrow which pierced the giant's breast, so that he staggered, and dropped down dead.
My father entered the hut, unbound the lady's hands, inquired who she was, and how she came thither. "My lord," said she, "there are along the sea-coast some families of Saracens, who live under a prince who is my husband; this giant you have killed was one of his principal officers. The wretch fell desperately in love with me, but took care to conceal his passion, till he could put in execution the design he had formed of forcing me from home. Fortune oftener favours wicked designs than virtuous resolutions. The giant one day surprised me and my child in a by-place. He seized us both, and to disappoint the search he well knew my husband would cause to be made for me, removed from the country inhabited by those Saracens, and brought us into this wood, where he has kept me some days. Deplorable as my condition is, it is still a great satisfaction to me to think that the giant, though so brutal, never used force to obtain what I always refused to his entreaties. Not but that he has a hundred times threatened that he would have recourse to the worst of extremities, in case he could not otherwise prevail upon me; and I must confess to you, that awhile ago, when I provoked his anger by my words, I was less concerned for my life than for my honour.
"This, my lord," said the prince of the Saracens' wife, "is the faithful account of my misfortunes, and I question not but you will think me worthy of your compassion, and that you will not repent having so generously relieved me." "Madam," answered my father, "be assured your troubles have affected me, and I will do all in my power to make you happy. To-morrow, as soon as day appears, we will quit this wood, and endeavour to fall into the road which leads to the great city of Deryabar, of which I am sovereign; and if you think fit, you shall be lodged in my palace, till the prince your husband comes to claim you."
The Saracen lady accepted the offer, and the next day followed the sultan my father, who found all his retinue upon the skirts of the wood, they having spent the night in searching for him, and being very uneasy because they could not find him. They were no less rejoiced to meet with, than amazed to see him with a lady, whose beauty surprised them. He told them how he had found her, and the risk he had run in approaching the hut, where he must certainly have lost his life had the giant discovered him. One of his servants took up the lady behind him, and another carried the child.
Thus they arrived at the palace of my father, who assigned the beautiful Saracen lady an apartment, and caused her child to be carefully educated. The lady was not insensible of the sultan's goodness to her, and expressed as much gratitude as he could desire. She had at first appeared very uneasy and impatient that her husband did not claim her; but by degrees she lost that uneasiness. The respect my father paid her dispelled her impatience; and I am of opinion she would at last have blamed fortune more for restoring her to her kindred, than she did for removing her from them.
In the mean time the lady's son grew up; he was very handsome, and not wanting ability, found means to please the sultan my father, who conceived a great friendship for him. All the courtiers perceived it, and guessed that the young man might in the end be my husband. In this idea, and looking on him already as heir to the crown, they made their court to him, and every one endeavoured to gain his favour. He soon saw into their designs, grew conceited of himself, and forgetting the distance there was between our conditions, flattered himself with the hopes that my father was fond enough of him, to prefer him before all the princes in the world. He went farther; for the sultan not offering me to him as soon as he could have wished, he had the boldness to ask me of him. Whatever punishment his insolence deserved, my father was satisfied with telling him he had other thoughts in relation to me, and shewed him no further resentment. The youth was incensed at this refusal; he resented the contempt, as if he had asked some maid of ordinary extraction, or as if his birth had been equal to mine. Nor did he stop here, but resolved to be revenged on the sultan, and with unparalleled ingratitude conspired against him. In short, he murdered him, and caused himself to be proclaimed sovereign of Deryabar. The first thing he did after the murder of my father was to come into my apartment, at the head of a party of the conspirators. His design was either to take my life or oblige me to marry him. The grand vizier, however, who had been always loyal to his master, while the usurper was butchering my father, came to carry me away from the palace, and secured me in a friend's house, till a vessel he had provided was ready to sail. I then left the island, attended only by a governess and that generous minister, who chose rather to follow his master's daughter, and share her misfortunes, than to submit to a tyrant.
The grand vizier designed to carry me to the courts of the neighbouring sultans, to implore their assistance, and excite them to revenge my father's death; but heaven did not concur in a resolution we thought so just. When we had been but a few days at sea, there arose such a furious storm, that, in spite of all the mariners' art, our vessel, carried away by the violence of the winds and waves, was dashed in pieces against a rock. I will not spend time in describing our shipwreck. I can but faintly represent to you how my governess, the grand vizier, and all that attended me, were swallowed up by the sea. The dread I was seized with did not permit me to observe all the horror of our condition. I lost my senses; and whether I was thrown upon the coast upon any part of the wreck, or whether heaven, which reserved me for other misfortunes, wrought a miracle for my deliverance, I found myself on shore when my senses returned.
Misfortunes very often make us forget our duty. Instead of returning thanks to God for so singular a favour shewn me, I only lifted up my eyes to heaven, to complain because I had been preserved. I was so far from bewailing the vizier and my governess, that I envied their fate, and dreadful imaginations by degrees prevailing over my reason, I resolved to cast myself into the sea; I was on the point of doing so, when I heard behind me a great noise of men and horses. I looked about to see what it might be, and espied several armed horsemen, among whom was one mounted on an Arabian horse. He had on a garment embroidered with silver, a girdle set with precious stones, and a crown of gold on his head. Though his habit had not convinced me that he was chief of the company, I should have judged it by the air of grandeur which appeared in his person. He was a young man extraordinarily well shaped, and perfectly beautiful. Surprised to see a young lady alone in that place, he sent some of his officers to ask who I was. I answered only by weeping. The shore being covered with the wreck of our ship, they concluded that I was certainly some person who had escaped from the vessel. This conjecture, and my inconsolable condition, excited the curiosity of the officers, who began to ask me a thousand questions, with assurances, that their master was a generous prince, and that I should receive protection at his court.
The sultan, impatient to know who I was, grew weary of waiting the return of his officers, and drew near to me. He gazed on me very earnestly, and observing that I did not cease weeping and afflicting myself, without being able to return an answer to their questions, he forbad them troubling me any more; and directing his discourse to me, "Madam," said he, "I conjure you to moderate your excessive affliction. Though heaven in its dispensations has laid this calamity upon you, it does not behove you to despair. I beseech you shew more resolution. Fortune, which has hitherto persecuted you, is inconstant, and may soon change. I dare assure you, that, if your misfortunes are capable of receiving any relief, you shall find it in my dominions. My palace is at your service. You shall live with the queen my mother, who will endeavour by her kindness to ease your affliction. I know not yet who you are; but I find I already take an interest in your welfare."
I thanked the young sultan for his goodness to me, accepted his obliging offers; and to convince him that I was not unworthy of them, told him my condition. I described to him the insolence of the young Saracen, and found it was enough to recount my misfortunes, to excite compassion in him and all his officers, who heard me. When I had done speaking, the prince began again, assuring me that he was deeply concerned at my misfortunes. He then conducted me to his palace, and presented me to the queen his mother, to whom I was obliged again to repeat my misfortunes and to renew my tears. The queen seemed very sensible of my trouble, and conceived extreme affection for me. On the other hand, the sultan her son fell desperately in love with me, and soon offered me his person and his crown. I was so taken up with the thoughts of my calamities, that the prince, though so lovely a person, did not make so great an impression on me as he might have done at another time. However, gratitude prevailing, I did not refuse to make him happy, and our nuptials were concluded with all imaginable splendour.
While the people were taken up with the celebration of their sovereign's nuptials, a neighbouring prince, his enemy, made a descent by night on the island with a great number of troops. That formidable enemy was the king of Zanguebar. He surprised and cut to pieces my husband's subjects. He was very near taking us both. We escaped very narrowly, for he had already entered the palace with some of his followers, but we found means to slip away, and to get to the seacoast, where we threw ourselves into a fishing boat which we had the good fortune to meet with. Two days we were driven about by the winds, without knowing what would become of us. The third day we espied a vessel making towards us under sail. We rejoiced at first, believing it had been a merchant ship which might take us aboard; but what was our consternation, when, as it drew near, we saw ten or twelve armed pirates appear on the deck. Having boarded, five or six of them leaped into our boat, seized us, bound the prince, and conveyed us into their ship, where they immediately took off my veil. My youth and features touched them, and they all declared how much they were charmed at the sight of me. Instead of casting lots, each of them claimed the preference, and me as his right. The dispute grew warm, they came to blows, and fought like madmen. The deck was soon covered with dead bodies, and they were all killed but one, who being left sole possessor of me, said, "You are mine. I will carry you to Grand Cairo, to deliver you to a friend of mine, to whom I have promised a beautiful slave. But who," added he, looking upon the sultan my husband, "is that man? What relation does he bear to you? Are you allied by blood or love?" "Sir," answered I, "he is my husband." "If so," replied the pirate, "in pity I must rid myself of him: it would be too great an affliction to him to see you in my friend's arms." Having spoken these words, he took up the unhappy prince, who was bound, and threw him into the sea, notwithstanding all my endeavours to prevent him.
I shrieked in a dreadful manner at the sight of what he had done, and had certainly cast myself headlong into the sea, but that the pirate held me. He saw my design, and therefore bound me with cords to the main-mast, then hoisting sail, made towards the land, and got ashore. He unbound me and led me to a little town, where he bought camels, tents, and slaves, and then set out for Grand Cairo, designing, as he still said, to present me to his friend, according to his promise.
We had been several days upon the road, when, as we were crossing this plain yesterday, we descried the black who inhabited this castle. At a distance we took him for a tower, and when near us, could scarcely believe him to be a man. He drew his huge scimitar, and summoned the pirate to yield himself prisoner, with all his slaves, and the lady he was conducting. The pirate was daring; and being seconded by his slaves, who promised to stand by him, he attacked the black. The combat lasted a considerable time; but at length the pirate fell under his enemy's deadly blows, as did all his slaves, who chose rather to die than forsake him. The black then conducted me to the castle, whither he also brought the pirate's body, which he devoured that night. After his inhuman repast, perceiving that I ceased not weeping, he said to me, "Young lady, prepare to love me, rather than continue thus to afflict yourself. Make a virtue of necessity, and comply. I will give you till to-morrow to consider. Let me then find you comforted for all your misfortunes, and overjoyed at having been reserved for me." Having spoken these words, he conducted me to a chamber, and withdrew to his own, after locking up the castle gates. He opened them this morning, and presently locked them after him again, to pursue some travellers he perceived at a distance; but it is likely they made their escape, since he was returning alone, and without any booty, when you attacked him.
As soon as the princess had finished the recital of her adventures, Codadad declared to her that he was deeply concerned at her misfortunes. "But, madam," added he, "it shall be your own fault if you do not live at ease for the future. The sultan of Harran's sons offer you a safe retreat in the court of their father; be pleased to accept of it. You will be there cherished by that sovereign, and respected by all; and if you do not disdain the affection of your deliverer, permit me to assure you of it, and to espouse you before all these princes; let them be witnesses to our contract." The princess consented, and the marriage was concluded that very day in the castle, where they found all sorts of provisions. The kitchens were full of flesh and other eatables the black used to feed on, when he was weary of feeding on human bodies. There was also a variety of fruits, excellent in their kinds; and, to complete their pleasure, abundance of delicious wine and other liquors.
They all sat down at table; and after having eaten and drunk plentifully, took with them the rest of the provisions, and set out for the sultan of Harran's court: they travelled several days, encamping in the pleasantest places they could find, and were within one day's journey of Harran, when having halted and drunk all their wine, being under no longer concern to make it hold out, Codadad directing his discourse to all his company, said "Princes, I have too long concealed from you who I am. Behold your brother Codadad! I have received my being, as well as you, from the sultan of Harran, the prince of Samaria brought me up, and the princess Pirouzè is my mother. Madam," added he, addressing himself to the Princess of Deryabar, "do you also forgive me for having concealed my birth from you? Perhaps, by discovering it sooner, I might have prevented some disagreeable reflections, which may have been occasioned by a match you may have thought unequal." "No, sir," answered the princess, "the opinion I at first conceived of you heightened every moment, and you did not stand in need of the extraction you now discover to make me happy."
The princes congratulated Codadad on his birth, and expressed much satisfaction at being made acquainted with it. But in reality, instead of rejoicing, their hatred of so amiable a brother was increased. They met together at night, whilst Codadad and the princess his wife lay asleep in their tent. Those ungrateful, those envious brothers, forgetting that had it not been for the brave son of Pirouzè they must have been devoured by the black, agreed among themselves to murder him. "We have no other course to choose," said one of them, "for the moment our father shall come to understand that this stranger of whom he is already so fond, is our brother, and that he alone has been able to destroy a giant, whom we could not all of us together conquer, he will declare him his heir, to the prejudice of all his brothers, who will be obliged to obey and fall down before him." He added much more, which made such an impression on their envious and unnatural minds, that they immediately repaired to Codadad, then asleep, stabbed him repeatedly, and leaving him for dead in the arms of the princess of Deryabar, proceeded on their journey for the city of Harran, where they arrived the next day.
The sultan their father conceived the greater joy at their return, because he had despaired of ever seeing them again: he asked what had been the occasion of their stay? But they took care not to acquaint him with it, making no mention either of the black or of Codadad; and only said, that, being curious to see different countries, they had spent some time in the neighbouring cities.
In the mean time Codadad lay in his tent weltering in his blood, and little differing from a dead man, with the princess his wife, who seemed to be in not much better condition than himself. She rent the air with her dismal shrieks, tore her hair, and bathing her husband's body with her tears, "Alas! Codadad, my dear Codadad," cried she, "is it you whom I behold just departing this life? What cruel hands have put you into this condition? Can I believe these are your brothers who have treated you so unmercifully, those brothers whom thy valour had saved? No, they are rather devils, who under characters so dear came to murder you. O barbarous wretches! how could you make so ungrateful a return for the service he has done you? But why should I complain of your brothers, unfortunate Codadad! I alone am to blame for your death. You would join your fate with mine, and all the ill fortune that has attended me since I left my father's palace has fallen upon you. O Heaven! which has condemned me to lead a life of calamities, if you will not permit me to have a consort, why did you permit me to find one? Behold you have now robbed me of two, just as I began to be attached to them."
By these and other moving expressions, the afflicted princess of Deryabar vented her sorrow, fixing her eyes on the unfortunate Codadad, who could not hear her; but he was not dead, and his consort observing that he still breathed, ran to a large town she espied in the plain, to inquire for a surgeon. She was directed to one, who went immediately with her; but when they came to the tent, they could not find Codadad, which made them conclude he had been dragged away by some wild beast to be devoured. The princess renewed her complaints and lamentations in a most affecting manner. The surgeon was moved and being unwilling to leave her in so distressed a condition, proposed to her to return to the town offering her his house and service.
She suffered herself to be prevailed on. The surgeon conducted her to his house, and without knowing, as yet, who she was, treated her with all imaginable courtesy and respect. He used all his endeavours to comfort her, but it was vain to think of removing her sorrow, which was rather heightened than diminished. "Madam," said he to her one day, "be pleased to recount to me your misfortunes; tell me your country and your condition. Perhaps I may give you some good advice, when I am acquainted with all the circumstances of your calamity. You do nothing but afflict yourself, without considering that remedies may be found for the most desperate diseases."
The surgeon's words were so efficacious, that they wrought on the princess, who recounted to him all her adventures: and when she had done, the surgeon directed his discourse to her; "Madam," said he, "you ought not thus to give way to your sorrow; you ought rather to arm yourself with resolution, and perform what the name and the duty of a wife require of you. You are bound to avenge your husband. If you please, I will wait on you as your attendant. Let us go to the sultan of Harran's court; he is a good and a just prince. You need only represent to him in lively colours, how prince Codadad has been treated by his brothers. I am persuaded he will do you justice." "I submit to your reasons," answered the princess; "it is my duty to endeavour to avenge Codadad; and since you are so generous as to offer to attend me, I am ready to set out." No sooner had she fixed this resolution, than the surgeon ordered two camels to be made ready, on which the princess and he mounted, and repaired to Harran.
They alighted at the first caravanserai they found, and inquired of the host the news at court. "It is," said he, "in very great perplexity. The sultan had a son, who lived long with him as a stranger, and none can tell what is become of the young prince. One of the sultan's wives, named Pirouzè, is his mother; she has made all possible inquiry, but to no purpose. All are concerned at the loss of this prince, because he had great merit. The sultan has forty-nine other sons, all by different mothers, but not one of them has virtue enough to comfort him for the death of Codadad; I say, his death, because it is impossible he should be still alive, since no intelligence has been heard of him, notwithstanding so much search has been made."
The surgeon having heard this account from the host, concluded that the best course the princess of Deryabar could take was to wait upon Pirouzè; but that step was not without some danger, and required much precaution: for it was to be feared, that if the sultan of Harran's sons should happen to hear of the arrival of their sister-in-law, and her design, they might cause her to be conveyed away before she could discover herself to Codadad's mother. The surgeon weighed all these circumstances, considered what risk he might run himself, and therefore, that he might manage matters with discretion, desired the princess to remain in the caravanserai, whilst he repaired to the palace, to observe which might be the safest way to conduct her to Pirouzè.
He went accordingly into the city, and was walking towards the palace, like one led only by curiosity to see the court, when he beheld a lady mounted on a mule richly accoutred. She was followed by several ladies mounted also on mules, with a great number of guards and black slaves. All the people formed a lane to see her pass along, and saluted her by prostrating themselves on the ground. The surgeon paid her the same respect, and then asked a calender, who happened to stand by him, "Whether that lady was one of the sultan's wives?" "Yes, brother," answered the calender, "she is, and the most honoured and beloved by the people, because she is the mother of prince Codadad, of whom you must have heard."
The surgeon asked no more questions, but followed Pirouzè to a mosque, into which she went to distribute alms, and assist at the public prayers which the sultan had ordered to be offered up for the safe return of Codadad. The people, who were highly concerned for that young prince, ran in crowds to join their vows to the prayers of the priests, so that the mosque was quite full. The surgeon broke through the throng, and advanced to Pirouzè's guards. He waited the conclusion of the prayers, and when the princess went out, stepped up to one of her slaves, and whispered him in the ear, "Brother, I have a secret of moment to impart to the princess Pirouzè; may not I, by your means, be introduced into her apartment?" "If that secret," answered the slave, "relate to prince Codadad, I dare promise you shall have audience of her this very day; but if it concern not him, it is needless for you to endeavour to be introduced; for her thoughts are all engrossed by her son, and she will not hear of any other subject." "It is only about that dear son," replied the surgeon, "that I wish to speak to her." "If so," said the slave, "you need only follow us to the palace, and you shall soon have the opportunity."
Accordingly, as soon as Pirouzè was returned to her apartment, the slave acquainted her that a person unknown had some important information to communicate to her, and that it related to prince Codadad. No sooner had he uttered these words, than Pirouzè expressed her impatience to see the stranger. The slave immediately conducted him into the princess's closet, who ordered all her women to withdraw, except two, from whom she concealed nothing. As soon as she saw the surgeon, she asked him eagerly, what news he had to tell her of Codadad? "Madam," answered the surgeon, after having prostrated himself on the ground, "I have a long account to give you, and such as will surprise you." He then related all the particulars of what had passed between Codadad and his brothers, which she listened to with eager attention; but when he came to speak of the murder, the tender mother fainted away on her sofa, as if she had herself been stabbed like her son. Her two women used proper means, and soon brought her to herself. The surgeon continued his relation; and when he had concluded, Pirouzè said to him, "Go back to the princess of Deryabar, and assure her from me that the sultan shall soon own her for his daughter-in-law; and as for yourself, be satisfied, that your services shall be rewarded as liberally as they deserve."
When the surgeon was gone, Pirouzè remained on the sofa, in such a state of affliction as may easily be imagined; and yielding to her tenderness at the recollection of Codadad, "O my son," said she, "I must never then expect to see you more! Alas! when I gave you leave to depart from Samaria, and you took leave of me, I did not imagine that so unfortunate a death awaited you at such a distance from me. Unfortunate Codadad! Why did you leave me? You would not, it is true, have acquired so much renown, but you had been still alive, and not have cost your mother so many tears." While she uttered these words, she wept bitterly, and her two attendants moved by her grief, mingled their tears with hers.
Whilst they were all three in this manner vying in affliction, the sultan came into the closet, and seeing them in this condition, asked Pirouzè whether she had received any bad news concerning Codadad? "Alas! sir," said she, "all is over, my son has lost his life, and to add to my sorrow, I cannot pay him the funeral rites; for, in all probability, wild beasts have devoured him." She then told him all she had heard from the surgeon, and did not fail to enlarge on the inhuman manner in which Codadad had been murdered by his brothers.
The sultan did not give Pirouzè time to finish her relation, but transported with anger, and giving way to his passion, "Madam," said he to the princess, "those perfidious wretches who cause you to shed these tears, and are the occasion of mortal grief to their father, shall soon feel the punishment due to their guilt." The sultan having spoken these words, with indignation in his countenance, went directly to the presence-chamber where all his courtiers attended, and such of the people as had petitions to present to him. They were alarmed to see him in passion, and thought his anger had been kindled against his people. Their hearts were chilled with fear. He ascended the throne, and causing his grand vizier to approach, "Hassan," said he, "go immediately, take a thousand of my guards, and seize all the princes, my sons; shut them up in the tower used as a prison for murderers, and let this be done in a moment." All who were present trembled at this extraordinary command; and the grand vizier, without uttering a word, laid his hand on his head, to express his obedience, and hastened from the hall to execute his orders. In the mean time the sultan dismissed those who attended for audience, and declared he would not hear of any business for a month to come. He was still in the hall when the vizier returned. "Are all my sons," demanded he, "in the tower?" "They are, sir," answered the vizier, "I have obeyed your orders." "This is not all," replied the sultan, "I have further commands for you;" and so saying he went out of the hall of audience, and returned to Pirouzè's apartment, the vizier following him. He asked the princess where Codadad's widow had taken up her lodging? Pirouzè's women told him, for the surgeon had not forgotten that in his relation. The sultan then turning to his minister, "Go," said he, "to this caravanserai, and conduct a young princess who lodges there, with all the respect due to her quality, to my palace."
The vizier was not long in performing what he was ordered. He mounted on horseback with all the emirs and courtiers, and repaired to the caravanserai, where the princess of Deryabar was lodged, whom he acquainted with his orders; and presented her, from the sultan, a fine white mule, whose saddle and bridle were adorned with gold, rubies, and diamonds. She mounted, and proceeded to the palace. The surgeon attended her, mounted on a beautiful Tartar horse which the vizier had provided for him. All the people were at their windows, or in the streets, to see the cavalcade; and it being given out that the princess, whom they conducted in such state to court, was Codadad's wife, the city resounded with acclamations, the air rung with shouts of joy, which would have been turned into lamentations had that prince's fatal adventure been known; so much was he beloved by all.
The princess of Deryabar found the sultan at the palace-gate, waiting to receive her: he took her by the hand, and led her to Pirouzè's apartment, where a very moving scene took place. Codadad's wife found her affliction redouble at the sight of her husband's father and mother; as, on the other hand, those parents could not look on their son's wife without being much affected. She cast herself at the sultan's feet, and having bathed them with tears, was so overcome with grief, that she was not able to speak. Pirouzè was in no better state. And the sultan, moved by these affecting objects, gave way to his own feelings, and wept. All three, mingling their tears and sighs, for some time observed a silence, equally tender and pitiful. At length the princess of Deryabar, being somewhat recovered, recounted the adventure of the castle, and Codadad's disaster. Then she demanded justice for the treachery of the princes. "Yes, madam," said the sultan, "those ungrateful wretches shall perish; but Codadad's death must be first made public, that the punishment of his brothers may not cause my subjects to rebel; and though we have not my son's body, we will not omit paying him the last duties." This said, he directed his discourse to the vizier, and ordered him to cause to be erected a dome of white marble, in a delightful plain, in the midst of which the city of Harran stands. Then he appointed the princess of Deryabar a suitable apartment in his palace, acknowledging her for his daughter-in-law.
Hassan caused the work to be carried on with such diligence, and employed so many workmen, that the dome was soon finished. Within it was erected a tomb, which was covered with gold brocade. When all was completed, the sultan ordered prayers to be said, and appointed a day for the obsequies of his son.
On that day all the inhabitants of the city went out upon the plain to see the ceremony performed, which was after the following manner. The sultan, attended by his vizier and the principal lords of the court, proceeded towards the dome, and being come to it, he went in and sat down with them on carpets of black satin embroidered with gold flowers. A great body of horse-guards hanging their heads, drew up close about the dome, and marched round it twice, observing a profound silence; but at the third round they halted before the door, and all of them with a loud voice pronounced these words: "O prince! son to the sultan, could we by dint of sword, and human valour, repair your misfortune, we would bring you back to life; but the King of kings has commanded, and the angel of death has obeyed." Having uttered these words, they drew off, to make way for a hundred old men, all of them mounted on black mules, and having long grey beards. These were anchorites, who had lived all their days concealed in caves. They never appeared in sight of the world, but when they were to assist at the obsequies of the sultans of Harran, and of the princes of their family. Each of these venerable persons carried on his head a book, which he held with one hand. They took three turns round the dome without uttering a word; then stopping before the door, one of them said, "O prince! what can we do for thee? If thou couldst be restored to life by prayer or learning, we would rub our grey beards at thy feet, and recite prayers; but the King of the universe has taken thee away for ever."
This said, the old men moved to a distance from the dome, and immediately fifty beautiful young maidens drew near to it; each of them mounted on a little white horse; they wore no veils, and carried gold baskets full of all sorts of precious stones. They also rode thrice round the dome, and halting at the same place as the others had done, the youngest of them spoke in the name of all, as follows: "O prince! once so beautiful, what relief can you expect from us? If we could restore you to life by our charms, we would become your slaves. But you are no longer sensible to beauty, and have no more occasion for us."
When the young maids were withdrawn, the sultan and his courtiers arose, and having walked thrice around the tomb, the sultan spoke as follows: "O my dear son, light of my eyes, I have then lost thee for ever!" He accompanied these words with sighs, and watered the tomb with his tears; his courtiers weeping with him. The gate of the dome was then closed, and all the people returned to the city. Next day there were public prayers in all the mosques, and the same was continued for eight days successively. On the ninth the king resolved to cause the princes his sons to be beheaded. The people incensed at their cruelty towards Codadad, impatiently expected to see them executed. The scaffolds were erecting, but the execution was respited, because, on a sudden, intelligence was brought that the neighbouring princes, who had before made war on the sultan of Harran, were advancing with more numerous forces than on the first invasion, and were then not far from the city. It had been long known that they were preparing for war, but their preparations caused no alarm. This news occasioned general consternation, and gave new cause to lament the loss of Codadad, who had signalized himself in the former war against the same enemies. "Alas!" said they, "were the brave Codadad alive, we should little regard those princes who are coming to surprise us." The sultan, nothing dismayed, raised men with all possible speed, formed a considerable army, and being too brave to await the enemy's coming to attack him within his walls, marched out to meet them. They, on their side, being informed by their advanced parties that the sultan of Harran was marching to engage them, halted in the plain, and formed their army.
As soon as the sultan discovered them, he also drew up his forces, and ranged them in order of battle. The signal was given and he attacked them with extraordinary vigour; nor was the opposition inferior. Much blood was shed on both sides, and the victory remained long dubious; but at length it seemed to incline to the sultan of Harran's enemies, who, being more numerous, were upon the point of surrounding him, when a great body of cavalry appeared on the plain, and approached the two armies. The sight of this fresh party daunted both sides, neither knowing what to think of them: but their doubts were soon cleared; for they fell upon the flank of the sultan of Harran's enemies with such a furious charge, that they soon broke and routed them. Nor did they stop here; they pursued them, and cut most of them in pieces.
The sultan of Harran, who had attentively observed all that passed, admired the bravery of this strange body of cavalry, whose unexpected arrival had given the victory to his army. But, above all, he was charmed with their chief, whom he had seen fighting with a more than ordinary valour. He longed to know the name of the generous hero. Impatient to see and thank him, he advanced towards him, but perceived he was coming to prevent him. The two princes drew near, and the sultan of Harran discovering Codadad in the brave warrior who had just assisted him, or rather defeated his enemies, became motionless with joy and surprise. "Father," said Codadad to him, "you have sufficient cause to be astonished at the sudden appearance before your majesty of a man, whom perhaps you concluded to be dead. I should have been so had not heaven preserved me still to serve you against your enemies." "O my son!" cried the sultan, "is it possible that you are restored to me? Alas! I despaired of seeing you more." So saying he stretched out his arms to the young prince, who flew to such a tender embrace.
"I know all, my son," said the sultan again, after having long held him in his arms. "I know what return your brothers have made you for delivering them out of the hands of the black; but you shall be revenged to-morrow. Let us now go to the palace where your mother, who has shed so many tears on your account, expects me to rejoice with us for the defeat of our enemies. What a joy will it be to her to be informed, that my victory is your work!" "Sir," said Codadad, "give me leave to ask how you could know the adventure of the castle? Have any of my brothers, repenting, owned it to you?" "No," answered the sultan; "the princess of Deryabar has given us an account of every thing, for she is in my palace and came thither to demand justice against your brothers." Codadad was transported with joy, to learn that the princess his wife was at the court. "Let us go, sir," cried he to his father in rapture, "let us go to my mother, who waits for us. I am impatient to dry up her tears, as well as those of the princess of Deryabar."
The sultan immediately returned to the city with his army, and re-entered his palace victorious, amidst the acclamations of the people, who followed him in crowds, praying to heaven to prolong his life, and extolling Codadad to the skies. They found Pirouzè and her daughter-in-law waiting to congratulate the sultan; but words cannot express the transports of joy they felt, when they saw the young prince with him: their embraces were mingled with tears of a very different kind from those they had before shed for him. When they had sufficiently yielded to all the emotions that the ties of blood and love inspired, they asked Codadad by what miracle he came to be still alive?
He answered, that a peasant mounted on a mule happening accidentally to come into the tent, where he lay senseless, and perceiving him alone, and stabbed in several places, had made him fast on his mule, and carried him to his house, where he applied to his wounds certain herbs chewed, which recovered him. "When I found myself well," added he, "I returned thanks to the peasant, and gave him all the diamonds I had. I then made for the city of Harran; but being informed by the way, that some neighbouring princes had gathered forces, and were on their march against the sultan's subjects, I made myself known to the villagers, and stirred them up to undertake his defence. I armed a great number of young men, and heading them, happened to arrive at the time when the two armies were engaged."
When he had done speaking, the sultan said, "Let us return thanks to God for having preserved Codadad; but it is requisite that the traitors, who would have destroyed him, should perish." "Sir," answered the generous prince, "though they are wicked and ungrateful, consider they are your own flesh and blood: they are my brothers; I forgive their offence, and beg you to pardon them." This generosity drew tears from the sultan, who caused the people to be assembled and declared Codadad his heir. He then ordered the princes, who were prisoners, to be brought out loaded with irons. Pirouzè's son struck off their chains, and embraced them all successively, with as much sincerity and affection as he had done in the court of the black's castle. The people were charmed with Codadad's generosity, and loaded him with applause. The surgeon was next nobly rewarded in requital of the services he had done the princess of Deryabar.